What Christ Said: Revisiting the Countercultural Sayings of Christ Jesus
By Isaac Portilla
Wipf and Stock Publishers
Publication date: 2022
Relevant to nonconformist Christians, this book explores the transformative and often overlooked implications of Christ’s teachings. The author shows the possibility to still be surprised by the sayings of Christ—to rediscover “the Way” as a liberating path toward freedom.
What Christ Said delivers an absorbing experience, rich in unexpected turns and insights to ponder and meditate into. Taking the New Testament text as the raw material, the author builds a coherent picture of Christ’s Way in which themes such as Fire, Life, Light, Consciousness, take the central stage. This work also offers a very personal contribution to scholarship: a provocative hermeneutics focused on truth and freedom, echoing the efforts of the apostles, early Christians, the Fathers, and the mystics to reconcile the sayings of Jesus with their own experience—mystical and worldly.
Infused with poetry and mysticism, yet without compromising theological and intellectual rigor, each chapter makes the reader participant in explorations evocative of a Christ-like apprehension of life and reality. This inquiry reflects mental and emotional patterns which keep us bound, at the same time providing a path through which the Christian Way could be inspiring—in an original and sometimes radical manner.
“Much of Christian cultural history has consisted in attempts—individual and collective, social and institutional—to evade or forget what Christ actually required of his followers. At many times and places (such as, say, contemporary America), it has involved more or less entirely inverting the meaning of Christ’s words, and inventing a religion to match the looking-glass reversal of the gospel thus produced. Isaac Portilla’s insistence on adherence to the actual plain content of Christ’s words should not, of course, constitute a challenge to Christian self-understanding; and yet it will, and this by itself attests to its necessity.”
DAVID BENTLEY HART, author of The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, translator of The New Testament
"In this creative work, Isaac Portilla invites the reader to reflect anew on the Christ-like love as a unique existential experience which distinguishes Christianity from any other spiritual tradition. Portilla's contribution is a good introduction for those who want to have a better understanding of the non-violent nature of Christ's word and its relevance for today's world. In his unforgettable meditations, Isaac Portilla gives us many illuminating and sometimes moving glimpses on the philosophical singularity of Jesus Christ."
RAMIN JAHANBEGLOO, author of Mahatma Gandhi: A Nonviolent Perspective on Peace
"Isaac Portilla has written a most interesting book. The cover recommendations and the acknowledgements reads like a who’s who of contemporary theology. Portilla’s book... will appeal to a far wider readership both religious and non-religious. . . .
Portilla invites us on a meditative journey, a spiritual experience (or better to say, spiritual discipline, to cover the full range of the Christian tradition). . . . Philosophers and theologians, as well as spiritual seekers and followers of other religions and none will find resonances with the reflections in the book. . . .
The style of book reminded me of aspects of theology produced in cloisters, in prayer, in bygone eras. Portilla revives this way of doing theology, retrieving it from the confines of academic ivory towers, and setting the topics derived from the sayings of Jesus in the contexts of Freedom, Truth and Being."
Graham McGeoch, REFLEXUS
Read the complete book review by Graham McGeoch in REFLEXUS - Revista Semestral de Teologia e Ciências das Religiões.
A First Inquiry (Q&A) – Excerpts
ISAAC PORTILLA is an author, scholar of divinity, and teacher of exploratory mysticism. His research focuses on interfaith dialogue, mystical consciousness, hermeneutics, and phenomenology. He is author of The Possibilities of Spiritual Experience: An Autobiographical and Philosophical Exploration (2017), and My Poetry is Silence: Verses in The Light of Truth (2013). Isaac’s project covers four areas: academic studies; development of spiritual teachings; contemplative practices research; explorations of integral life. He lives in Scotland. www.isaacportilla.org
© 2022 Isaac Portilla