Jesus & Judaism

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    Dunn, James D.G.


    Jesus and Purity: An Ongoing Debate

    "The importance of purity legislation and the ‘separateness’ that it implied within Second Temple Judaism confirms the significance of the renewed interest in purity issues in ‘historical Jesus’ research. The relevance of John the Baptist’s ‘baptism’ is less clear than at first appears. But that Jesus himself shared at least some purity priorities is implied by Mark 1.44 and by his ‘cleansing of the Temple’. Yet he also sat loose to the purity halakhoth regarding clean and unclean and table-fellowship, which suggests that Jesus did not regard such concerns as central to the definition of Israel and its practice."
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    Ellis, E. Earle


    How Jesus Interpreted His Bible

    "The Judaism of Jesus' day was a Torah-centric religion. To gain any hearing among his people Jesus' teaching also had to be Torahcentric. Thus it was necessary, not only from his own conviction of the Law as the word of God and of himself as the fulfilment of that Law but also from practical considerations, that our Lord show by his teachings as well as by his acts that his message and his messianic person stood in continuity with and in fulfilment of Israel's ancient word from God. It is in this frame of reference that one finds the meaning of Jesus' interpretation of his Bible."
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    Evans, Craig A.


    Jesus and Judaism

    "Some scholars who are engaged in the 'Third Quest' of the historical Jesus assume that Jesus had no messianic self-understanding and had no interest in eschatology or in the restoration of Israel. Indeed, some of these scholars deride the notion. But an even-handed assessment of the sources—biblical and extra-biblical—suggest that Jesus’ message and activities situate him squarely at the center of Jewish hopes and concerns. There are five important elements that make this clear: (1) the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the expectation of Israel’s restoration; (2) the miracles and exorcisms; (3) Jesus’ messianic self-understanding; (4) a high view of the authority of Torah; and (5) teachings and activities in the Temple precincts."
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    Hagner, Donald A.


    Law, Righteousness, and Discipleship in Matthew

    "With the stress of current biblical scholarship on the diversity of theologies to be found in the New Testament, the problem of understanding the Gospel of Matthew vis-à-vis Paul and his teaching of justification by faith no longer receives much attention. According to the current consensus, the simple fact is that we have different theologies of salvation in Matthew and Paul, one emphasizing works and the other grace, and that’s that. In the classic Lutheran paradigm, the familiar law-gospel polarity results in a side-stepping of the problem by relegating the law to the realm of prolegomena. Yet it is Matthew the Christian who keeps talking about the law, and the church continues to ascribe canonical authority to his gospel. This familiar problem deserves ongoing attention and it is pursued here in the conviction that the various theologies of the New Testament writers are compatible rather than contradictory."
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    Holmen, Tom


    Jesus, Judaism and the Covenant

    "This article seeks to illuminate Jesus’ Jewishness by introducing the perspective of covenant and a new concept, covenant path searching. The concept reflects a phenomenon discernible in all Judaism of the time: the activity of trying to find out how to keep faithful to the covenant. The analysis suggests that Jesus refrained from such an activity thus remarkably departing from the contemporary covenant thinking. This does not necessarily mean detachment of Jesus from Judaism or that he should be pictured as an antinomian. The so-called eschatological covenant of later Old Testament prophetic books could offer an explanation. The texts foretell an inner knowledge of God’s will which renders pursuing questions of covenant loyalty futile."
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    Hooker, Morna D.


    New Wine in Old Bottles: A Discussion of Continuity and Discontinuity in Relation to Judaism and the Gospel

    "...[T]he old bottles of Judaism could not contain the new wine of the Gospel. The pity is, not that the wine was lost―for it was poured into fresh bottles―but that the old bottles were thrown away. When Christianity finally broke away from the parent body, then it lost part of its Jewish heritage. And when the Jewish context of the early debates was forgotten, then the claims being made for Jesus took on new interpretations; the attacks on Jewish opponents came to sound like total condemnation. What had been tension became antithesis, and the opposition between Christianity and Judaism was complete."
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    Matthews, Kenneth A.


    John, Jesus and the Essenes: Trouble at the Temple

    "All four Evangelists record the 'Temple Cleansing' and treat it as an important step in their respective arguments. John's Gospel in particular is impressed with Jesus' action and selects it to introduce him to the public. The Synoptics, on the other hand, present the incident as Jesus' last public act which explains what provoked the Sanhedrin to plot Jesus' subsequent arrest. From the remarkable desert discoveries of our century, scholars have been reminded that Jesus was not alone in criticizing the temple...What we learn from these voices of discontent enables us to better understand the ideological climate in which Jesus' action took place."
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    Moulton, Mark


    Jesus' Goal for Temple and Tree: A Thematic Revisit of Matt 21:12-22

    "Perhaps the most puzzling public action of Jesus was his curse of the fig tree. The accounts of it in Matthew 21 and Mark 11 have generated a diversity of interpretations. In the past few decades many scholars have sought to exegete these passages with an eye to understanding how the withered tree account bears on what happened in the temple since these two dramatic actions are found side by side in both gospels. Some scholars interpret the tree story as an incident that actually happened and that is recounted in proximity to the temple event because the two occurred within a few days of each other. But even among scholars who deny an historical withering are many who approach the two dramatic actions of Jesus as mutually illuminating stories."
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    Ortiz, Steven M.


    Setting Jesus Free from Postmodern Reconstructions: Was Jesus a Galilean Jew or a Jewish Hellenist?

    "Was Jesus a Galilean Jew or Jewish Hellenist? Based on the data—the world of Jesus was Galilean Judaism. Meyers notes that Galilee was a pluralistic society with a strong Jewish identity. While there is no support to place Jesus within a Hellenistic world, Jesus and his disciples would have been exposed to Hellenistic culture. The Gospels record that Jesus interacted with a wide spectrum of people, such as the Sypro-Phoenician women and Samaritans (women at the well, 10 lepers). Those who start with the archaeological data can only arrive at the conclusion that Jesus belongs in a 1st century Jewish context. Sean Freyne hypothesizes that, not only was Jesus a Galilean Jew, but he was a Galilean Messiah. Jesus’ messianic claims fit the messianic expectations that were fervent in Galilee. It appears that if you really are honest with the archaeological data, Jesus does not need to be liberated from the theology of the early church, but from the theological and political overlay of vogue New Testament scholars."
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    Rabbinowitz, Noel S.


    Matthew 23:2-4: Does Jesus Recognize the Authority of the Pharisees and Does He Endorse their Halakhah?

    "In this essay I have suggested that the Pharisees legitimately occupied the Seat of Moses, an actual chair in the synagogue and a symbol of their legitimate authority...Because of the fact that Jesus attacks the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and for their corrupt teaching in so many other biblical passages, many scholars find this interpretation completely unacceptable. I have argued, however, that this apparent contradiction can be resolved by understanding that Jesus did not mean for his disciples to literally do “all” that the Pharisees taught. He meant rather that they were to obey their teachings regarding the Torah and halakhah in principle, a fact supported by Jesus’ own basic observance of oral tradition."
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    Sanders, E. P.


    The Question of Uniqueness in the Teaching of Jesus

    "What about the teaching of Jesus was unique? The historian who studies detail will answer, This is roughly paralleled here and there, this fairly distinctive, this otherwise unattested: very little is unique, actually. I believe that experts can do this sort of thing with Newton, Darwin, Marx and Freud. Does it mean that they were not unique, or that Jesus was not unique? Not in the least. Was his message not his own? Was his mission not his own? Was not the result greater than one would think who simply added up the discrete bits? What about him was unique? Everything. He was himself."
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    Scaer, Peter


    Luke, Jesus, and the Law

    "I will argue that Luke's position vis a vis the Law is not as conservative as it first appears. He narrates a change which is both theologically adept and strategically diplomatic. Within Luke-Acts the Law begins to lose its binding force. More specifically, the nature of Torah observance changes from divine mandate to pious custom. With the advent of Christ, the Law retains a place of honor, but becomes merely one vehicle by which God's people can demonstrate their allegiance to the one true God. To borrow a phrase from Eric Franklin, the Law, for Luke 'is not belittled, but it is downgraded.' The Mosaic Law has become part of the past, happily observed by some, but not entirely necessary for the future."
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    Schreiner, Thomas R.


    The Fulfillment of the Law

    "Virtually all scholars agree that the role of the Old Testament law for the believer in Christ is one of the most difficult and intricate questions in New Testament theology...I was asked to present to the dispensational study group my understanding of Romans 10:4 and Matthew 5:17-48. Both of these texts are so controversial that all the relevant issues cannot be examined in this essay. My intention here is to sketch in briefly my understanding of both texts and some of the implications of these texts for one's understanding of the law."
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    Wenham, David


    Jesus and the Law: An Exegesis on Matthew 5:17-20

    "My that Matthew 5:17-20 is correctly interpreted as a strong statement about the continuing authority and relevance of the Old Testament and its laws for Christians. But (when the statement is understood in the context of a dispute about Jesus' attitude to the law and His ethical standards) there is seen to be no necessary contradiction between this and other more 'liberal' New Testament passages. The passage in Mathew affirms Jesus' high view of the Old Testament law and His lofty ethical standards; but it does not answer the question about the Gentiles and the ceremonial law, which were such a burning issue for the New Testament writers."
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    Westerholm, Stephen


    The Law in the Sermon on the Mount: Matt 5:17-48

    "The law, for Matthew, prescribed righteousness in an age of anticipation...the Matthean Jesus does not simply restate the requirements of the law, for its demands do not adequately correspond to the goodness of God; some of its provisions are limited by what is legally enforceable, whereas others indulge aspects of human sin in an attempt to limit sin's consequences...Jesus' commands transcend the law by prescribing (in a necessarily illustrative, not casuistic or comprehensive way) the goodness of God as the standard for his children...[A]ccording to the Sermon on the Mount, response is essential if Jesus' hearers are to enter God's kingdom..."
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    Woods, Laurie


    Jesus at Home in Judaism

    "While Christians would have no hesitation acknowledging that Jesus was a Jew, the full implications of this are not generally understood. It almost goes without saying that Jesus was a Jew. What is more, all the earliest disciples who established Christianity were Jewish, as were the first church leaders. Jesus came from a Jewish family, was raised in the Jewish region of Galilee, had Jewish friends, and was brought up in the religion of Moses. All four gospel writers present Jesus as a pious Jew, who had a deep attachment to the religion of his ancestors, and who was faithful in his observance of the Law of Moses. A genuine understanding of the person and mission of Jesus requires some appreciation of the historical context and the Jewish world in which he lived. The aim of this chapter is to provide some background information and insights that will help the reader gain a clearer picture of Jesus, the pious and idealistic Jew of first-century Palestine."