Celebrated by Sir Philip Sidney as the author of “divine” narrative art and “heavenly discourse” and deemed by William Blake the incarnation of “the Poetic Genius,” Jesus—not as familiar religious icon, but as a startling creative artist—fashions an expansive range of self-figurations that suggests a metaphysics and poetics of immanence and Becoming that both counters and coincides with the absolute Being of the Father as “I Am.” A liminal presence, in anthropologist Victor Turner’s sense, Jesus as Word provides responsive readers/listeners imaginative transit between ontological realms as they step into his vivid parables and pithy tropes. Both poet and text, Jesus invites us to read him as a kind of subject in process, a perpetually evolving poem that binds heaven and earth within powerful metaphors of identity and change. While the synoptic Gospels’ parables and similitudes highlight Jesus’ role as extraordinary poet, in his Johannine “I am” pronouncements and the theophany of the Son as visible voice that appears to John of Patmos, Jesus takes the form of a sacred poem, beckoning his audience(s), particularly (potential) disciples, toward their own creative, salvific rebirth.

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