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This article is taken from PN Review 64, Volume 15 Number 2, November - December 1988.

Writing Jeshua Moelwyn Merchant

The process of publishing sets a distance between the book and its author; Jeshua was finished in October 1985 and a re-reading recently brought into focus elements in it both of conscious study and borrowing over the years and of half-conscious echoes from experiences that were not in the fore-front of my mind during the writing. The novel itself, brooded over for some forty years, had a clear, personal purpose. I may put it obliquely: I have always enjoyed and admired the intellectual force of theological argument, whether in the sharp exchanges of Christological debate in the third century or in the equally sharp, frequently acrid debates in our own day, as theological truths are pursued in many different arenas. The related doctrines, of the Trinity and of the Incarnation, have the elegance and the persuasive power which I have always admired (if with incomprehension) as my colleagues in the Mathematics department at Exeter tried to argue for me the elements of topology. The gulf between admiration and whole-hearted acceptance was brought powerfully forward when I tried to unravel the Doctrine of the Incarnation to a Jewish friend of many years standing. He cut through my questions and expositions with characteristic clarity: 'Are you telling me that if we were in Nazareth in the first century, you would take me by the arm and say, "You see that young man - he's God you know"; is that what you're seriously saying?' It was, of course what I had long ...


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