If Jesus Were a Hipster, Emerging Post-Evangelical…

John W. Frye

This is our final post with the Woman at the Well story when she meets a post-evangelical Jesus.

Exhausted from global warming in oppressed Palestine, Jesus chilled at Jacob’s Well in the realm of “the other” called Samaria. Jesus’ cohort left him to buy organic at the nearest fair-trade kiosk. A Samaritan woman, “the other,” approached the community’s gathering space, carrying a jar, the symbol of her status in a harsh, patriarchal culture.

Jesus said to her, “Water is good. Water is to be shared. Water is life. May we share in a drink of water together?” He lit two candles, too, symbolizing the two flames of life at the well. The woman replied, “I am in the oppressed class–a Samaritan–and you are in the religiously oppressive class– the Jew. I am victim; you are power. How is it that you encounter me in such a counterintuitive egalitarian way in a world of power-assigned values?”

Jesus mildly pushed back, “Woman, I am post-Jewish. I am post-Second Temple Judaism. I am the Revolution as I assign new symbolic value to people, places and religion itself. I am on a journey through liminal space into the emerging reality where all is love.”

“Friend and soul-mate, how can this be, this new paradigm of meaning?” the woman asked

Jesus continued in soft-toned dialogue with the woman, “I don’t know. No one knows. We see through a glass darkly. We are now simply deconstructing the old and hoping to see the new emerge. No one can step up and lead, of course.”

The woman looking puzzled asked, “Why cannot anyone lead?”

Jesus, with a wry smile, replied, “Leadership of any kind is a carryover of the oppressive power categories incarnate now in Empire, in the regimes of Rome. With no hierarchies we must feel our way into the new world and we will know it intuitively. ‘To grope is to grow,’ as they say.”

“Cool!” said the woman, “You give me hope as a worshiper of G-d. I thought you Jews had claimed G-d exclusively for yourselves and we Samaritans were ‘outside’ the centered-set where G-d lives.”

“Oh no, no,” Jesus demurred, “that is so wrong. No one owns G-d. G-d is not definable. G-d is the ineffable mystery; the wholly Other. All our language about G-d only conceals G-d; constructing propositions does not reveal G-d. We must let all that go. Even more, all we have received about G-d as true has been shaped by our alliances with power, skewed by our culture-bound lenses, and distorted by the limitations of words. Be suspicious, even skeptical, yeah, maybe even a little caustic. Yet, know that I AM emergent. I am come to speak truth to power. You must dismiss some of your received thinking.” Jesus paused, stared into the distance as he rubbed his chin, and then continued, “Let me unpack this for you. G-d is accessed communally, not individually, and however the community defines G-d that is true G-d for that particular tribe. There is no one true ‘G-d’ for all people.”

The woman smiled, responding, “I am so hopeful because even in my societal marginalization and personal brokenness, I feel that I am more qualified than either the Samaritan or Jewish religious power-brokers to find G-d. I am an authentic seeker.”

“Seekers are finders,” Jesus warmly replied and peacefully sighed.

The woman paused a moment before she spoke. Quietly she confessed, “Did you know I am living with a man who is not my husband? I have had five husbands already. Yet, I will collaborate to form a loving community of multiple-husbanded women and there, in that context, encounter and define communally a loving G-d for us. Love covers a multitude of sins.”

Jesus exuberantly responded, “Yes, yes! You are the messiah for your niche. Welcome to the wonder of liminal space where nothing is nailed down…except rebels from the Empire. Your loneliness gives you the moral authority and right to live with whomever and with as many people as you wish.” The woman smiled.

Jesus’ cohort returned and shared double-shot, skinny mocha lattes with all, wondering among themselves what the two candles meant.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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