Original Research

In the shadow of the cross: on Lagerkvist’s Barabbas

G. van der Linde
Literator | Vol 28, No 2 | a161 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v28i2.161 | © 2007 G. van der Linde | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2007 | Published: 30 July 2007

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G. van der Linde, Library Services, UNISA, Pretoria, South Africa

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In Lagerkvist’s novel, the course of Barabbas’ life is shaped by the burden of being linked to Jesus’ death. Barabbas is faced with the question of who Jesus was and of how to respond to beliefs about the alleged Saviour of the oppressed, although Jesus is never manifested as such. True to his nature, Barabbas’ responses are often violent and impulsive. In contrast to Jesus’ seeming absence and powerlessness, Barabbas actively resists oppressive authority. He wánts to believe, but this is counterbalanced by his inability to break out of a solitary existence marked by the absence of God. A final act of revolt, inspired by momentary belief in the risen Jesus leads to Barabbas’ death by crucifixion. Ultimately, he achieves a kind of redemption by sharing Jesus’ fate as a consequence of his own freely chosen actions. At the end of his life, Barabbas reaches out towards an implied presence which remains unnameable and undefined. Jesus is an implicit presence in Barabbas’ crucifixion, but He remains elusive and enigmatic. Lagerkvist is concerned with exploring the existential iss


Jesus In Literature; Lagerkvist Par; Barabbas; Religion And Literature


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