Explore how the parallels between Jefferson and Jesus are developed and discuss the scriptural connotations of the word "lesson".

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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I can see the parallels between Jefferson and Jesus. Both were innocent men who were executed. In chapter 28, Jefferson seems to see that parallel himself when he says to Grant, "Your cross, Nannan’s cross, my own cross. . . . You’all axe a lot, Mr. Wiggins. . . .Who ever car’d my cross?" It is Grant who has learned a lesson, though: "My eyes were closed before this moment, Jefferson. My eyes have been closed all my life. Yes, we all need you. Every last one of us."

As for scriptural connotations of the word "lesson," all I can think of is that Jesus was called "rabbi," or teacher. His method of "teaching" was to tell stories, or what we might call today "object lessons." These stories are classified as parables. In a sense, A Lesson Before Dying is itself a parable. Indeed, in one of his parables, Jesus taught "don't cast your pearls before swine," which is exactly how Grant felt at the beginning. Why teach someone so ungrateful of his help. He comes to learn, however, that redemption belongs to everyone. 

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