Oedipus Rex – a Christ Figure Essays

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Oedipus Rex – a Christ Figure

Sophocles’ famous tragedy, Oedipus Rex, perhaps “the most important and influential drama ever written” (“Sophocles” 717), presents in the person of Oedipus the model of a good ruler, a humanely intelligent and vigorously active leader, a man who earlier saved his adopted city Thebes from disaster. Is Oedipus an alter Christus besides?

The numerous parallels between the figure of the king Oedipus and the figure of Christ in the Scriptures prompts the reader to ask the above question.

For example, in the opening lines of the drama, Oedipus greets the crowd of suppliants (including old men, boys and children) waiting at his palace doors with the words: “My children,
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In Mark 2:24: the Jewish priests, representing the people, came to Jesus: “And the Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’" In Mark 8:11: “The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, to test him.” Mark 10:2: “And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’" Pharisees played such an important role as the representatives of the Jewish people that they are mentioned more than 12 times in the gospel of Mark alone.

In Oedipus Rex the people come to seek help from their king because they are afflicted: “Armed with his blazing torch the God of Plague /Hath swooped upon our city emptying /The house of Cadmus, and the murky realm /Of Pluto is full fed with groans and tears.” Likewise in the Scriptures the people come to Jesus because they are afflicted with various ills. In Luke 17:12: “And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance. . . .” Luke 7:22 mentions in summary form some of the people who have come to Jesus for help: “And he answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind

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