The biblical narratives of Jesus’ passion and death hold a unique place in Christian devotion and art. Here, five distinguished American writers wrestle with these Gospel narratives in new ways that draw readers more closely into the texts. In her reflection on Luke, Stephanie Saldaña, living in Jerusalem, takes us to the sites of Holy Week, meditating both on the gospel and her experiences as a writer and a mother in a city torn by sectarian strife. Julia Alvarez begins with her memories of the Stations of the Cross as a young girl in the Dominican Republic and then reflects on how reading the Gospel of Mark makes her look more carefully at the stories behind the traditional Stations of the Cross. John Elder contrasts the tension and anger in Matthew’s story with the vision of Jesus he learned from his family. Jay Parini reflects on the ways he has read the fourth gospel at different stages of his life. Finally, Elizabeth Cook wrestles with the challenge of adapting the story of Calvary for the twenty-first century, not for readers but for an audience who will hear the story in a libretto sung to a very contemporary classical score.
Together, these beautifully rendered, powerful reflections invite us to draw deeper meaning from the Passion for our own lives.
Oliver Larry Yarbrough is director of the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont.
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