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OpEd: EASTER MYSTERIES through the Eyes of Peter and Magdalene

Jesus as a kosher rabbi guiding his followers

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“Easter Mysteries” is an engaging retelling with graceful music of the most transformative three days in history, the original Good Friday through Resurrection Sunday.

The Biblical story of Jesus death and resurrection has inspired an abundance of creative works – including engaging novels, dramatic plays, and memorable movies. Yet, the Bible’s text is very brief and to the point. Consequently, wise writers use some poetic license to find new angles on the story.  New Yorker and Tony Award winning John O’Boyle has creatively put together a fresh but accurate representation of the Scriptural personalities utilizing a talented, multi-ethnic team of actors. The musical play will be broadcast on ABC TV and is also available on DVD.

The televised musical is unique in its consistency with both Christian and Jewish elements in Jesus’ story. Every aspect of the play is rooted in the kosher Jewish culture of Jesus’ first followers.  Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the Executive Director of the New York Board of Rabbis and the chief co-sponsor with me of the Jewish-Evangelical RoundTable, gives the play his endorsement.   Moreover, it is dedicated to the memory of the late Rabbi Harold S. White, a chaplain and professor at Georgetown University who cherished Easter Mysteries for its potential for interfaith understanding.

“Easter Mysteries” is also true drama. None of these Jesus followers wear a halo but each harbors personal differences with the others that spin off into intrigue and audience suspense. Though O’Boyle never wanders away from the core Biblical narratives, he reveals that the Biblical characters as enmeshed in struggle between doubt and hope. O’Boyle’s dramatic focus comes to pinpoint tension between Mary Magdalene and Simon Peter.

Mary Magdalene is feminine and not sensationalized with a shallow sexualization of her fervent passion for Jesus. Her doubts and hopes seem entirely consistent with a woman’s character. Her portrayal seems so authentically appealing that the audience will leave wanting to hear much more about her.

In the play, Simon Peter is intriguing. How could a man with no pretensions to saintliness become a leader of the disciples? He is full of opinions and masculine bravado, then thrown into confusion by his errors about the nature of Jesus’ mission. The answer to the question lies in the remarkable way Jesus lead his disciple to a new depth of character and wisdom.

Simon Peter and Mary Magdalene are the diametric opposites in this mystery play. So, at the end, her report of the resurrection of Jesus faces off against the uncertainty of Peter. He is blaming himself for his lack of courage and his doubt. In fact, only Jesus is able to redeem Simon Peter from his prison house of emotional despair.

Jesus as a kosher rabbi guiding his followers invites a broad understanding of Jesus by people of other faiths or of no faith – while the central Biblical themes of Gospel and grace remain clear.

Check with local ABC Network affiliates for the schedule of the upcoming one-hour broadcast.  Better yet, benefit from the whole Easter Mysteries experience by obtaining the recently released DVD.

 

You might want to check out the debate on Koshering Jesus More versus Koshering Jesus a bit too much.

Also visit Paul de Vries' website.

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