Jesus under occupation from Naim Ateek’s book A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation (Orbis)
In many ways, a Palestinian theology of liberation has reestablished the balance between Christ’s two natures—his divinity and his humanity. Palestinian liberation theology focuses on the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth, who was also a Palestinian living under an occupation.8 For many years, this fact was missed by Palestinian Christians. It simply escaped our attention, and we did not realize its potential impact. Perhaps because we had placed a large divine halo around Christ, we could not imagine him as a human being living at a time in history like any one of us. Once Palestinians rediscovered Jesus Christ’s humanity, the relevancy of his human life became amazingly apparent; the experience of Palestinian Christians who live today in oppressive conditions under the Israeli occupation are quite similar to the experience of Jesus and his followers under the Roman occupation.We then fl eshed out the implications of such a comparison. Like many Palestinians today, Jesus was born under occupation and throughout his life knew only a life under occupation. All his travels, his eating and drinking, his teaching and healing ministry, his relationships with others—every aspect of his life—were carried out under the oppressive domination of the Romans. Finally, he was executed by the occupation forces in collusion with the religious leaders of fi rst-century Jerusalem.
When we approach the Gospels through this lens, we discover a theology of liberation in a context that truly is relevant for Palestinian Christians who live their lives today under Israeli occupation.