donderdag 18 augustus 2016

The Jesus of Bambang Subandrijo

On 19 December 2007 Bambang Subadrijo, lecturer in New Testament Studies at the Theological Aschool of Jalan Proklamasi 27 defended his doctoral dissertation in Amsterdam. This week I received the Indonesian translation of this dissertation, published by STT Proklamasi in cooperation with BPK Gunung Mulia, the best known mainstream Protestant publishing house of Jakarta. Subandrijo had his masters´ thesis in the doctrines of Saint Paul, where he defended the position that the doctrine of Trinity cannot be found in Paul who remained close to Jewish monotheism, although he gives high titles to Jesus. He was since then a debated personality in Indonesian Protestant churches. For some time he was teaching mathemetics, because he had studies mathematics besides theology.
His English title of the dissertation was Eikon and Ayat: Points of Encounter between Indonesian Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Jesus. As you may see below he removed to Greek word and made it a title of encounter and debate. The drawing is quite funny: Jesus is a Mediterranean figure with a beard) while few Indonesian have a beard, in fact only people of Arab or Papua descent. The hat is purely Javanese, but not a traditional blankon. There are two krisses in front of his body: Javanese mystical and magical weapon, qlso two hands crossed. the krisses perhaps signify the double status of Jesus: human and divine. The two hands crossed may signify Muslims and Christians, both honouring Jesus. The clouds (mountains?) surrounding Jesus are in typical Javanese style.
At the occasion of the defence of the dissertation in 2007 I wrote the following short speech:

I have read your biography with much interest for your career in theology, but also for the things you have left out there. You also took a degree in mathematics and for many years was a teacher of that discipline, besides teaching religion. That is perhaps a golden line in your life, living between religion and mathematics, between Yogyakarta and Jakarta, between Islam and also a little bit of Christianity, minister of the word but also minister for financial affairs of theological schools. Or, perhaps I may express it here in Indonesian as well

Doktor Bambang ini sudah suka dua lambang
Agama dan ilmu pasti baiklah seimbang
Antara Yogya dan Jakarta sering dia terbang
Tetapi dalam bidang isteri hanya satuyang  terbilang!

Islam dan Kristen bagi dia gaya bayi kembar
Sumbernya sama, kemudian tersebar
Mau kelahi dan berbeda, sering kesasar.
Sebaiknya bersatu lagi, jangan yang satu terlalu besar.

We met for the first time in mid 2004, as far as I can remember, by writing and then later in person. I still remember how we were sitting together for the first time in the great open hall of the Guesthouse of the Council of Church, Jalan Teuku Umar in Jakarta, where we read this text from Sura 19 on Mary and Jesus. This was the first time your read this text truly in its own context. You were and are a devout Christian, but you have also a very open mind and was touched by the setting and wording of this other story of Jesus and wanted to go the way of the experience. How is it when not the differences between the Christian and Muslim stories and doctrines are pointed, but when we see the two as members of one hermeneutical family.

You have made good inventories of the creeds of the Indonesian churches, of past polemics between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia and you have reached conclusions that may cause quite a few problems in your church. You are a true teacher, but not a full minister of your church. In this sense you have some independence and this may make your suggestions for bridging the interpretations of Christians and Muslims very valuable.

Theology is not only the analysis of past doctrines and texts. It is also criticism of these doctrines. You have written in your mild style a very sharp verdict about the creeds of your church and even about the basic councils of Christianity like the doctrines of Nicea and Chalcedon. Well, you would not call it criticism, but just the need for another interpretation of trinity, statements about the divine character of Jesus. That is your Javanese style of saying things in a mild way! I do hope that your contributions to Christian and Muslim theology, or to religious thinking in general will be taken up in a positive way in you country.

Or to conclude in Indonesian:

Doktor Bambang mengakui Trinitas
Tetapi mohon juga kata lain atau alias
Mohon rumusan modern yang berkualitas
Sehingga orang yang beriman tidak lagi waswas. 

Doktor Bambang sudah doctor fi’din

Dia telah pergi ke negeri yang dingin

Berulangkali dari isteri dia dapat izin

Asal dia tetapi minal mu’minin. Amin!

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