xxvi + 231 pp.
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Son of Man
An African Jesus Film
Edited by Richard Walsh, Jeffrey L. Staley, Adele Reinhartz
The remarkable, award-winning film, Son of Man (2005), directed by the South African Mark Dornford-May, sets the Jesus story in a contemporary, fictional southern African Judea. While news broadcasts display the political struggles and troubles of this postcolonial country, moments of magical realism point to supernatural battles between Satan and Jesus as well. Jesus’ Judean struggle with Satan begins with a haunting reprise of Matthew’s ‘slaughter of the innocents’ and moves forward in a Steve Biko-like non-violent, community-building ministry, captured in graffiti and in the video footage that Judas takes to incriminate Jesus. Satan and the powers seemingly triumph when Jesus ‘disappears’, but then Mary creates a community that challenges such injustice by displaying her son’s dead body upon a hillside cross. The film ends with shots of Jesus among the angels and everyday life in Khayelitsha (the primary shooting location), auguring hope of a new humanity (Genesis 1.26).
This book’s essays situate Son of Man in its African context, exploring the film’s incorporation of local customs, music, rituals, and events as it constructs an imperial and postcolonial ‘world’. The film is to be seen as an expression of postcolonial agency, as a call to constructive political action, as an interpretation of the Gospels, and as a reconfiguration of the Jesus film tradition. Finally, the essays call attention to their interested, ideological interpretations by using Son of Man to raise contemporary ethical, hermeneutical, and theological questions. As the film itself concisely asks on behalf of the children featured in it and their politically active mothers, ‘Whose world is this’?
Richard Walsh is Professor of Religion and Co-Director of the Honors Program at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Jeffrey L. Staley is an independent scholar living in Seattle, Washington.
Adele Reinhartz is Professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa.
1. Richard Walsh, Adele Reinhartz and Jeffrey L. Staley, Introduction
PART 1. SON OF MAN IN AFRICAN CONTEXT
2. Gerald O. West, The Son of Man in South Africa?
3. Sam D. Giere, ‘This Is my World!’ Son of Man (Jezile) and Cross-Cultural Convergences of Bible and World
4. Thabang Nkadimeng and Lloyd Baugh, Strategies of Sound: Revolutionary Music and Song in Son of Man
5. Jeremy Punt, ‘Thula’ (Be Quiet): Agency in Son of Man
6. Sarojini Nadar, Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo!—The Son of Woman in the Son of Man as an Embodiment of the Struggle for Justice
7. Saheed Yinka Adejumobi, Empire and Utopia: ‘Resurrecting’ Postcolonial Visions and Beyond in Son of Man
PART 2. SON OF MAN IN THE JESUS FILM TRADITION
8. W. Barnes Tatum, Son of Man’s ‘Son of Man’: Becoming Human and Acting Humanely
9. Jeffrey L. Staley, What Hath New York City to Do with Khayelitsha? An Intertextual Reading of Two Jesus Films
10. Reinhold Zwick, Between Chester and Capetown: Transformations of the Gospel in Son of Man
11. Lloyd Baugh, The African Face of Jesus in Film: Two Texts, A New Tradition
12. Darren J.N. Middleton and S. Brent Plate, ‘Who Do You See That I Am?' Son of Man and Global Perspectives on Jesus Films
13. Jane S. Webster, Teaching Son of Man: A Dialogue with Biblical, Global, Film, and Theological Studies
PART 3. IDEOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO SON OF MAN
14. P. Jennifer Rohrer-Walsh and Richard Walsh, Mary and the Mothers
15. Erin Runions, Son of Man and Resistance to US Imperialism
16. Richard Walsh, A Beautiful Corpse: Fiction and Hagiography in Son of Man
17. George Aichele, Film as Betrayal: Some Thoughts on Son of Man