A New Jesus: Christ for Any Nation

  • Daryl Ireland


The global reality of Sunday schools prompted the conveners to promote a “new version of Christ” throughout the week, a Savior “who died to save the entire world” (“World-wide Sunday School Work” 1909, 415­–16). To that end, the convention featured a missionary exposition that offered participants a chance to see and be inspired by a Jesus who redeemed all the people of the world. The thousands of viewers who filed through the National Rifles’ Armory every day between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. that week got a glimpse of all kinds of artifacts and curios from around the world—tokens that spoke of Jesus’s capacity to embrace even the most “exotic” man, woman, and child. Visitors were also given an image of Jesus and the Nations from the Sunday School Times Company. The organization had commissioned O. A. Stemler to paint a picture that would capture the spirit of the Sunday School/Mission Convention: a new portrait of Christ that conveyed his love and concern for every child in the world (Brewer 2005, 109). This chapter will explore the transnational enchantment with this “new version of Christ,” and how translations of it, first across the Atlantic and then the Pacific Ocean, allowed Jesus’s presence and embrace to travel around the world and back.