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Friday, September 23, 2005

Jesus the Jew

Michael Bird raises the issue of Jesus the Jew and the work of Klausner. In recent times of course the Jesus the Jew thing has become widespread of course. I'm not sure just how widespread though. Here a couple of open questions. How Jewish a Jesus are people prepared to envisage? NT Wright, for all the talk on Jesus' Jewishness still has the Law redundant, the Temple replaced, Jesus having a very high Christological opinion of himself and so on. Is this so very different from the pre-Sanders/Vermes era? Wright isn't alone of course and it seems to me that it is often just lip service to the Jewishness of Jesus in some quarters. Even Sanders provides a get out clause with let the dead bury their own dead. So how far is scholarship really prepared to go on this? Does Jesus necessarily have to stand outside contemporary Jewish trends on issues of who he was and identity, Law, Temple, and so on and so on?

6 Comments:

Blogger Michael F. Bird said...

James,
This very day I've been musing on the Historical Jesus and the 'parting of the ways' between Christianity and Judaism. Did anything that Jesus said or did, as a Jew, contribute to the eventual parting? My initial thought was that his opposition to the temple and the fact that he was crucified lend themselves to, though in desperate need of nuancing, an affirmative answer. Though I don't think that Jesus ever ceased to be Jewish because of his opposition to certain aspect of Jewish belief at that time.

But you raise a good point - saying Jesus is a Jew is one thing, but giving the term concrete meaning is another. If Jesus held to the basic tenets of 'Judaism' like 'common Judaism' or 'story, praxis, symbol' or 'web of social and religious belief' you can still accomodate a great deal of variation. Can a Jew still be a good law obedient Jew and speak against the temple? If anyone says 'no', I'd say go read Jeremiah and what Josephus has to say about Jesus ben Ananias. I think it is more important to map the constrictions (what are the limits or boundaries of Judaism) rather than defining what does it mean to be Jewish - since I think you would find a variety of answers on that question (e.g. contrast Philo and DSS).

September 23, 2005

 
Blogger David Baird said...

Don't some of writers of the DSS basically reject the temple (and the current priesthood), but yet remain firmly rooted in Judaism? Why is Jesus to be seen as less a Jew because he did not think highly of the Jerusalem temple and its corresponding priestly power stucture, and understood that it was quite likely going to face destruction given the current political situation and agitation in Galilee and Judea?

September 23, 2005

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

Yes, I quite agree that any definitive definition of what 'Jewishness' is will fail. No problem. Of course Jesus wouldn't cease to be 'Jewish' for predicting the fall of the Temple or thinking it presently corrupt. But let's put this another way. Take a view I don't happen to think is true but let's assume that it is: Jesus wanted rid of sacrificial religion which would never return and saw himself as somekind of new Temple. He may still think he was Jewish but it would be something pretty radical in first century Palestine. So perhaps the question might be re-worded: did Jesus do anything that was radically different from any other Palestinian Jew of his time?

September 26, 2005

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

David Baird wrote "Don't some of writers of the DSS basically reject the temple (and the current priesthood), but yet remain firmly rooted in Judaism?"

The seekers of smooth things who despised the law were in Jerusalem. Clearly these could not have been Pharisees. I would suggest that they were prophets holding the political power and that they were not practicing animal sacrifice, but sacrificed incense.

At the time, the exiles were the priests who were pro the usual sacrificing of animals for sins. They were forced to seek a righteouness without sacrifice because they had no access to the temple - hence the requirement for a TOR. To speak of them as sectarians is a complete misnomer. To speak of them as Essenes is nonsense.

October 05, 2005

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

James Crossley wrote:"Of course Jesus wouldn't cease to be 'Jewish' for predicting the fall of the Temple or thinking it presently corrupt."

When the prophet said not one stone would be left on another, I believe he was not referring to the temple but the altar which was assembled from loose unhewn stones in the shape of a pyramid without a capstone - possibly the stone that the builders rejected - a stone that pointed or led to God, and perhaps symbolic of the Spirit of God. The loose stones would have been readily pulled down - recall the pulling down of the 'eagle' by so-called 'pharisees (I don't believe this was a story about pulling down an eagle, or that pharisees were involved).

James Crossley wrote:"Take a view I don't happen to think is true but let's assume that it is: Jesus wanted rid of sacrificial religion which would never return and saw himself as somekind of new Temple. He may still think he was Jewish but it would be something pretty radical in first century Palestine. So perhaps the question might be re-worded: did Jesus do anything that was radically different from any other Palestinian Jew of his time?"


The abolition of animal sacrifces was an issue that had been bubbling-up among the prophets for almost centuries before the time of the prophet. I think that what was new was that the prophet saw the new temple as people in which the Spirit of God could reside. Evidence of indwelling was obedience of the Spirit's commands. Evidence of the presence of impure spirits was disobedience. Disobedience meant condemnation of the impure spirit. Obedience meant glory for the pure spirit. The Spirit purified or drove out impure spirits (spirits of deceit) and implanted pure spirits (later called gifts).

Geoff Hudson
233 The Long Shoot
Nuneaton
Warickshire CV11 6JH
Tel.024 7673 7417
geoff.hudson@ntlworld.com
(I believe in transparency)

October 06, 2005

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

My second thoughts are that the idea of new temple was Pauline and thus came later post the civil war (first revolt) after the destruction of the temple.

The prophet was a prophet of a new (figurative) altar of worship through the Spirit. This was what was different.

In Ephesians 2:21 and 22, I suggest the original writer (pre the destruction of the temple) saw God's people as being built on the ALTAR of the prophets, with THE SPIRIT himself as the CAPSTONE. In him the whole ALTAR is joined together and rises to HEAVEN.

The prophets sacrificed incense to invoke the Spirit.

The capstone (missing on the altar of burnt sacrifices) was envisaged as the Spirit binding together the altar stones' below - 'stones' that included both Jews and Gentiles. Thus the idea was not new temple, but new altar. The Pauline cornerstone only holds the corner of a building. The capstone of a pyramid binds together the structure below.

Geoff Hudson
233 The Long Shoot
Nuneaton
Warwickshire
CV11 6JH
UK
Tel. 024 7673 7417
geoff.hudson@ntlworld.com

October 19, 2005

 

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