THE MISSING JESUS

:
Rabbinic Judaism and
the New Testament
BRUCE CHILTON
CRAIG A. EVANS
JACOB NEUSNER
BRILL ACADEMIC PUBLISHERS
THE MISSING JESUS
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THE MISSING JESUS
Rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament
BY
BRUCE CHILTON
CRAIG A. EVANS
&
JACOB NEUSNER
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2002
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Chilton, Bruce.
The missing Jesus : rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament / by
Bruce Chilton, Craig Evans, and Jacob Neusner.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0–391–04183–5
1. Jesus Christ—Jewishness—Congresses. I. Evans, Craig A. II. Neusner,
Jacob, 1932– III. Title.
BT590.J8 C445 2002
232.9—dc21
2002015971
ISBN 0–391–04183–5
Paperback ISBN: 0–391–04182–7
© Copyright 2002 by Brill Academic Publishers, Inc., Boston
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored
in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written
permission from the publisher.
Authorization to photocopy item for internal or personal
use is granted by Brill provided that
the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright
Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910
Danvers, MA 01923, USA.
Fees are subject to change.
rnix+rr ix +nr txi+rr s+.+rs or .vrnic.
CONTENTS
Preface ........................................................................................ vii
Contributors ................................................................................ xi
Abbreviations .............................................................................. xiii
Introduction: Finding a Context for Jesus .............................. 1
Craig Evans
The Misplaced Jesus: Interpreting Jesus in a
Judaic Context ............................................................................ 11
Craig Evans
Response: Mapping a Place for Jesus .......................................... 41
Bruce Chilton
Contexts of Comparison: Reciprocally Reading
Gospels’ and Rabbis’ Parables .................................................. 45
Jacob Neusner
Response: Neusner’s “Contexts of Comparison” ........................ 69
Gary Herion
The Gospels and Rabbinic Halakah ........................................ 77
Herbert Basser
Response: Reconstructing the Halakah of Jesus:
Appropriating Early and Late Sources .................................... 101
Craig Evans
Getting It Right: Jesus, James, and Questions
of Sanctity .................................................................................. 107
Bruce Chilton
Response: Dividing it Right: Who is a Jew and
What is a Christian? .................................................................. 125
Scott Langston
Conclusion: Jesus within Judaism .............................................. 135
Bruce Chilton
Some Significant Dates in the History of
Judaism and Christianity ........................................................ 157
Indices
Index of Ancient Writings .................................................... 161
Index of Modern Authors ...................................................... 170
Index of Subjects .................................................................... 173
vi cox+rx+s
PREFACE
How can Jesus be said to be “missing”? The Church has consistently
referred itself to conceptions of Jesus during its history, and the world
of scholarship has seen a renaissance in the study of Jesus over the
past twenty years. In fact, Jesus’ place in popular culture has been
surprisingly prominent as a result of recent historical study. What is
“missing” is not by any means reference to Jesus: what is missing is
rather an entire dimension of his identity. In order for us to under-
stand Jesus and his profound influence on global culture, we need
to see him within the context of the Judaism which was his own
natural environment. No one can be assessed apart from one’s envi-
ronment, but a variety of factors have isolated the study of Jesus
from the study of Judaism. The “missing” Jesus is Jesus within
Judaism.
Scholars over the past decade have called attention to this prob-
lem, especially in response to the works of John Dominic Crossan
and other members of “The Jesus Seminar,” as will be discussed in
the pages which follow. In response to that impetus, a forum was
convened at Bard College, under the sponsorship of Mr. Frank
Crohn, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Max Richter Foundation.
I am obliged to our sponsors for the opportunity to develop the
forum and for the trust they placed in me.
Professor Jacob Neusner, the preeminent Judaist of his generation
and my colleague at Bard, co-chaired the forum, and together we
invited Professor Herbert Basser and Professor Craig Evans to join
us. But our work was not limited to the usual invitation of speakers
and limited discussion. Both Professor Neusner and I are dissatisfied
with the standard model of academic conferences, and we have
devised a much more searching and interactive model at Bard College.
Professor Neusner and I taught a course which ran parallel to the
conference, so that the students were prepared in advance. That was
possible because the invited speakers were gracious enough to pro-
vide drafts of their presentations long before the conference convened.
We have used this model before, both at Bard and at the University
of South Florida, where Professor Neusner also held an appointment.
The level of engagement which the students achieve is consistently
rewarding to us, and the effect on the lucidity of speakers is also
notable. This volume represents the work of four scholars in close
encounter with talented students, and we also include the responses
of some of our academic colleagues from other institutions, who
attended the conference (in some cases with their students). We
believe that both the topic and the model of approaching it make
this volume an innovative and stimulating contribution, and that the
dialogue begun here represents the next phase in the critical study
of Jesus.
In our work here, we wish to lay out certain basic results, and
fundamental, continuing approaches, which elucidate the identity of
Jesus within Judaism. In his introduction Professor Craig Evans ori-
ents readers to the lay of the land and then in the first essay, the
keynote address of the conference, he engages aspects of the North
American discussion, much of which has proposed an implausibly
Hellenistic portrait of Jesus. In my response to Professor Evans’s
paper I probe complementary aspects of the question of context and
location, underscoring the tendency in some circles, both scholarly
and popular, to neglect the Judaic dimension of Jesus.
My own essay, “Jesus within Judaism,” with which the book con-
cludes, sets out the story of how, despite the work of scholars over
several centuries, the study of Judaism has been marginalized in the
study of Jesus and Christian origins. The purpose of that discussion
is to suggest approaches which may be opened up by a more crit-
ical orientation. Together, these essays lay out theoretical and tactical
ways forward in improving the current perception of the historical
Jesus. The essays that lie between probe dimensions of the discussion.
In his essay, “Contexts of Comparison: Reciprocally Reading
Gospels’ and Rabbis’ Parables,” Professor Neusner articulates a vig-
orous challenge to the practice of comparison as represented in the
past. He insists that the effort to describe contacts, point by point,
is doomed to failure, unless due account is taken of the profoundly
distinct perspectives of Judaism and Christianity. Each of these great
religions generates an entire view of the world, a definition of the
people of God, ideals for the way of life, and those systemic visions
are part and parcel of what they say in detail. What Professor Neusner
calls for is a Copernican shift in the way in which we read the texts,
and we have devoted two responses to it. First, Professor Gary Herion
viii rnrr.cr
of Hartwick College explains how the discipline of biblical studies
needs to learn from the discipline of the critical study of religion
which Professor Neusner has so ably developed.
Next, Professor Herbert Basser of Queen’s University undertakes
an analysis of the connections between Jesus and the Rabbis in regard
to the Sabbath. His approach is sophisticated in its cognizance of
the theoretical cautions offered by Professor Neusner, and of the his-
torical complexity which I later describe, but also very concrete and
detailed in its exposition of a single issue, and an important field of
contact. Professor Evans responds in essential agreement, but under-
scores the importance of antecedent scriptural traditions, as well as
Judaic traditions attested in documents that post-date the writings of
the New Testament.
My essay is entitled “Getting it Right: James, Jesus, and Questions
of Sanctity.” One of the most persistent failures in the study of Jesus
in the modern period has been that scholars have not taken account
of how the Gospels came into being. “Conservative” scholars assume
that the texts are historical, and read Jesus directly off the pages of
the texts as much as they can, while “liberal” scholars put the texts
at the mercy of whatever view of Jesus they believe is to be pre-
ferred. Such orientations fly in the face of one of the most secure
findings of critical research in the modern period: the Gospels are
neither chronicles of history nor inventions of faith, but interpreta-
tions of Jesus for distinct communities. We need to get to know the
communities, toward which the traditions in the Gospels were directed,
and which shaped those traditions prior to their incorporation into
the Gospels, if we are to understand what they say. No one can
understand a statement apart from an appreciation of who is say-
ing it, where, and why. Of all those who shaped Christianity dur-
ing its emergent period, no teacher was more important, and none
is more thoroughly misunderstood today, than James, the brother of
Jesus. “Getting it Right” seeks to remedy that situation, and the
implications for the interpreter are spelled out masterfully in the
response by Professor Scott Langston of Southwest Baptist University.
In all, we believe we are providing two services in this volume.
First, we are redressing a serious imbalance in the portrait of Jesus,
especially in North America. Second, we are setting out some of the
lines of inquiry which will lead us to a much more complete picture
in the years to come. To those who have made this possible, our
rnrr.cr ix
sponsors, the main speakers and respondents, and above all our stu-
dents, we are very grateful.
Bruce Chilton
Bard College
x rnrr.cr
CONTRIBUTORS
Herbert Basser is Professor of Religion at Queen’s University in
Ontario, Canada. He has published landmark studies of rabbinic
Judaism in ancient and medieval times and also has written several
studies that place the New Testament in its Judaic context.
Bruce Chilton is Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard
College in New York. He has previously taught at the University of
Sheffield and at Yale Divinity School, and has authored numerous
books and studies, including A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible (1984),
The Temple of Jesus (1992), Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God (1996),
and Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography (2000).
Craig Evans is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament
at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, Canada. He is the author
of several books and studies on Jesus and the Gospels, including Life
of Jesus Research (1989; rev. ed., 1996), Jesus and His Contemporaries
(1995), Jesus in Context: Temple, Purity, and Restoration, with Bruce Chilton
(1997), and Mark (2001) in the Word Biblical Commentary series.
Gary Herion is Associate Professor of Religion at Hartwick College
in New York. He co-edited the six-volume Anchor Bible Dictionary
(1992) and served as project editor for George Mendenhall’s Ancient
Israel’s Faith and History (2001).
Jacob Neusner is Research Professor of Religion and Theology and
Senior Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College.
He has written or edited more than 850 books and holds twenty-
three honorary degrees and academic medals.
Scott Langston teaches at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar,
Missouri. His publications include Cultic Sites in the Tribe of Benjamin:
Benjaminite Prominence in the Religion of Israel (1998) and, in prepara-
tion, Exodus in the Blackwell Bible Commentaries series.
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ABBREVIATIONS
AB Anchor Bible (Commentary)
ABD D. N. Freedman and G. A. Herion (eds.), The Anchor Bible
Dictionary
ABRL Anchor Bible Reference Library
AGJU Arbeiten zur Geschichte des antiken Judentums und des
Urchristentums
AGSJU Arbeiten zur Geschichte des Spätjudentums und Urchris-
tentums
AnBib Analecta biblica
Ant. Antiquities of the Jews
ArBib The Aramaic Bible
BARev Biblical Archaeology Review
BBR Bulletin for Biblical Research
BCE Before Common Era (= BC)
BETL Bibliotheca ephemeridum theologicarum lovaniensium
Bib Biblica
BibOr Biblica et orientalia
BibSem The Biblical Seminar
BIS Biblical Interpretation Series
BJS Brown Judaic Studies
BTB Biblical Theology Bulletin
BZ Biblische Zeitschrift
CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly
CE Common Era (= AD)
CRINT Compendia rerum iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum
ErFor Erträge der Forschung
ET English translation
EvQ Evangelical Quarterly
FT French translation
GNS Good News Studies
HTKNT Herders theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament
HTR Harvard Theological Review
HUCA Hebrew Union College Annual
ICC International Critical Commentary
IDB G. A. Buttrick (ed.), The Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary
JAAR Journal of the American Academy of Religion
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
JES Journal of Ecumenical Studies
JHC Journal of Higher Criticism
JJS Journal of Jewish Studies
JQR Jewish Quarterly Review
JR Journal of Religion
JSJ Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic and
Roman Period
JSNT Journal for the Study of the New Testament
JSNTSup Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Supplements
JSOT Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
JSOTSup Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Supplements
JSS Journal of Semitic Studies
JTS Journal of Theological Studies
J.W. Jewish War
KEKNT Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testa-
ment
LCL Loeb Classical Library
NovT Novum Testamentum
NovTSup Novum Testamentum, Supplements
NTS New Testament Studies
NTTS New Testament Tools and Studies
OGIS W. Dittenberger (ed.), Orientis graeci inscriptiones selectae I–II
PRS Perspectives in Religious Studies
Q the source used by Matthew and Luke, from the German
Quelle, “source”
RHPR Revue d’histoire et de philosophie religieuses
SBLSP Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers
SBT Studies in Biblical Theology
SJLA Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity
SJT Scottish Journal of Theology
SNTU Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt
SSEJC Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity
Th Theology
TS Theological Studies
TToday Theology Today
TynBul Tyndale Bulletin
USQR Union Seminary Quarterly Review
xiv .nnnr\i.+ioxs
VT Vetus Testamentum
WUNT Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament
YJS Yale Judaica Series
ZNW Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft
ZTK Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche
.nnnr\i.+ioxs xv
INTRODUCTION:
FINDING A CONTEXT FOR JESUS
Craig A. Evans
The title of the present volume, The Missing Jesus, provocatively sug-
gests that modern scholarship (not to mention popular literature) is
having difficulty finding the historical Jesus. This difficulty manifests
itself in the bewildering diversity of portraits. We hear of Jesus the
prophet, the rabbi, the shaman, the exorcist, the Messiah, the king,
the revolutionary, the magician, and more lately the Cynic. How is
this diversity to be explained?
A great part of the problem has to do with context, for context
influences the interpretation of the Jesus tradition (viz. found pri-
marily in the New Testament Gospels) more than any other factor
influences it. It is with context that the essays of the present volume
are justifiably concerned.
To know the historical Jesus it is necessary to know a good deal
about the world in which Jesus lived. This world was Jewish,
Palestinian, and Galilean. Although not isolated from Hellenistic
influences, it was fundamentally Jewish and fundamentally opposed
to the syncretistic allure of its Greco-Roman power-brokers.
When we read the Gospels we encounter strange customs and for-
eign epithets. We hear of Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and rul-
ing priests. Who were they? What did they believe? Why did they
criticize and oppose Jesus? We suspect that their opposition to Jesus
had something to do with his proclamation of the kingdom of God
and the singular ways in which he lived out the implications of it.
The essays that make up this book will probe some of these features.
The balance of the present introduction is intended for readers
who have limited knowledge of the world of Jesus, a knowledge that
the essays that follow presuppose. The next several paragraphs will
introduce non-experts to some of the basic groups, institutions, and
events, in the light of which the Jesus of history is to be studied—
if he is not to remain missing.
Religio-Political Parties
First-century Palestine was populated with Jews, Samaritans, and
Gentiles. Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and (to the east) Nabatean
were the spoken languages in this diverse corner of the Roman
Empire.
Sandwiched between Judea in the south and Jewish Galilee in the
north was Samaria. As all students of the Bible know, Samaritan-
Judean relations were not cordial. Tensions can be traced back to
the ninth century BCE, when the northern tribes rebelled from the
Jerusalem monarchy and eventually came to be known as the king-
dom of Samaria. Following the exile, the Judeans viewed the
Samaritans as at best only part-Jewish. Because it was believed that
they were Gentiles from Cuthea, part of the old Assyrian Empire,
they were called Cutheans (by Josephus the first-century Jewish his-
torian) or Kutim (by the Rabbis). The Samaritans, however, under-
stood themselves quite differently, believing that they were genuine
descendants of the northern tribes and that their version of the Law
of Moses (the so-called Samaritan Pentateuch) constituted true Scripture.
Samaritan-Judean hostilities increased when in 128 BCE Hyrcanus
I, one of the Hasmonean rulers, destroyed the Samaritan temple at
Mount Gerizim (cf. John 4:20: “Our fathers worshipped on this
mountain”). Josephus tells us of subsequent acts of violence and ret-
ribution (such as Samaritans defiling the Jewish Temple with human
bones, Samaritans attacking a festival-bound caravan of Galileans,
and savage reprisals against the Samaritans). The hatred was such
that to be called a Samaritan was a grievous insult. We encounter
an example of this when Jesus’ opponents accuse him of being “a
Samaritan and having a demon” ( John 8:48). Later, some rabbis
said that to eat the bread of Samaritans was to eat pork, or to marry
a Samaritan was to lie with a beast.
The Hasmonean dynasty initially enjoyed the support of the Hasi-
dim (i.e., “pious ones,” who are probably the forerunners of the
Pharisees). This alliance eventually broke down, with the Hasmoneans
siding with the Sadducees. Another group that emerged during this
time were called the Essenes. Josephus describes these groups at
length, claiming to have studied with the Essenes but eventually fol-
lowing the teaching of the Pharisees.
What Josephus tells us about these groups is in part corroborated
by the New Testament Gospels, the book of Acts, and the Apostle
2 cn.io .. r\.xs
Paul. The origins of these religio-political groups are obscure. Even
their beliefs and relation to one another are not entirely clear, but
it is important to know what can be known of them if we are to
appreciate the context in which Jesus ministered.
We are told that the Sadducees were a small group, whose more
conservative views had come to be influential with the ruling priests.
They accepted the authority of the written Law, but rejected the
oral traditions held dear by the Pharisees ( Josephus, Ant. 13.10.6
§297), their principal political and religious rivals. The Sadducees
rejected the resurrection (cf. Mark 12:18; Acts 23:8; Ant. 18.1.4 §16:
“the soul perishes with the body”) and the existence of angels (Acts
23:8). They believed in free will (“man has the free choice of good
or evil”) and the remoteness of God from the created order (Ant.
13.5.9 §173; J.W. 2.8.14 §164–165). One could say that the Sadducees
were the Deists and Arminians of their day. Though they were
inclined to be severe in their judgments and to have disdain of oth-
ers, because of public pressure they usually followed the policies of
the more tolerant Pharisees. Although the Sadducees were influential
among the wealthy (Ant. 13.10.6 §298) and the aristocratic ruling
priests, it should not be assumed that most Sadducees were priests,
or that most ruling priests were Sadducees.
The Sadducees accepted the political status quo. Indeed, they
worked hard to preserve it. Their affluence and political clout were
such that they desired no change. They and the ruling priests col-
laborated with Rome in the management of Judea. In return for
their cooperation, which consisted primarily of maintaining law and
order and collecting the tribute Rome expected, they received priv-
ileged treatment and were assisted in holding onto their position of
power.
According to Josephus, the Pharisees were a larger and more pop-
ular party. The general impression one receives from the New
Testament bears this out. The Pharisees accepted and expanded the
oral traditions. Because of their zeal for the holiness code (as seen
especially in Leviticus), they emphasized purity and separation from
those who did not observe their practices. Like Jesus and his fol-
lowing, the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and in angels. It
is often assumed that the Pharisees were the forerunners of the rab-
bis, but this is far from certain. It may only be that the Pharisees
held to many traditions that the early rabbis promoted and the later
rabbis further expanded. Some early rabbis may very well have been
ix+nortc+iox: rixrixo . cox+rx+ ron ¡rsts 3
members of the party of the Pharisees, but we should probably not
assume that all Pharisees were rabbis (i.e., teachers or sages) or that
all rabbis were Pharisees.
In contrast to the Sadducees, the Pharisees were not willing col-
laborators with Rome. Indeed, they refused to take an oath of loy-
alty “to Caesar and to the king’s government” (Ant. 17.2.4 §42).
Josephus tells us that they prophesied that someday the throne would
be taken from Herod the Great. It is probable that messianic hope
lay behind this prophecy. When Herod learned of it he had several
Pharisees put to death (Ant. 17.2.4 §43–44). The Pharisees’ feisty
anti-government behavior may be traced back to the days of the
Hasmonean dynasty. On one occasion, convinced that the priest king
Alexander Jannaeus was not qualified to offer up sacrifice, Pharisees
incited the crowd to pelt their ruler with the lemons that had been
gathered for the festival (Ant. 13.13.5 §372–373). Similarly, in the
days of Herod two teachers persuaded several young men to clam-
ber up on one of the gates within the Temple precincts and cut
down a golden eagle the king had mounted in honor of his Roman
overlords. Josephus tells us that Herod was enraged and had the
teachers and the youths burned alive ( J.W. 1.33.2–4 §648–655; Ant.
17.6.2–4 §149–167).
Thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls the Essenes have
become the most talked about and controversial of the parties men-
tioned by Josephus. We are told that the Essenes formed their own
communities, sometimes in the wilderness, shared their possessions,
observed very strict interpretations of the Law, were mostly celibate,
and had a priestly orientation. This group was so strict that to spit,
talk out of turn, or to laugh loudly was punished with a reduction
in one’s food allowance.
Most scholars assume that the Dead Sea Scrolls represent an
Essene library, with many of the Scrolls actually produced by Essenes.
The Scrolls reveal to us a community much concerned with end-
times, in which it will be vindicated and will assume leadership over
the Temple. Of the three Jewish parties just reviewed, early Christianity
seems to have had the most in common with the Essenes. Curiously,
however, the Essenes are never mentioned in the New Testament.
In the Scrolls a great final war is depicted between the “sons of
light” (i.e., the Essenes and pious Jews who join them) and the “sons
of darkness” (i.e., the Romans and faithless Jews who collaborate
4 cn.io .. r\.xs
with them). One Scroll may actually describe a confrontation between
the Messiah and the Roman Emperor, in which the former slays
the latter, thus bringing the conflict to a joyous conclusion (4Q285).
Josephus also tells us of a “fourth philosophy.” Our friend is prob-
ably being somewhat disingenuous. He is not describing another
party or sect, like the Sadducees or the Pharisees (which he also calls
“philosophies”); he is describing a social and political tactic adopted
by some (including Pharisees) whereby violence was used against col-
laborators with Rome. By calling them a fourth philosophy Josephus
may be trying to bracket off these people from the others, lest in
the wake of the great war (after which Josephus writes) Rome might
think the Jewish religion itself fosters rebellion.
Some scholars have identified the zealots with the fourth philos-
ophy, but the zealots were a coalition of various rebel groups that
formed during the great revolt against Rome in 66–70 CE. Those
who embraced the tactics of the fourth philosophy included the sicarii,
or “men of the dagger.” These assassins often attacked in broad day-
light, among large crowds. After plunging in the knife, they took up
cries of outrage and calls for assistance as their victim fell. By this
subterfuge they were not often detected and apprehended ( J.W.
2.13.3 §254–257). Paul was himself asked if he was a member of
this group (Acts 21:38). On one occasion the sicarii kidnapped a sec-
retary of one of the ruling priests, demanding that ten of their fel-
lows be released from prison (Ant. 20.9.3 §208–210).
Finally, mention must be made of the “Herodians,” who make
only two appearances in the Gospels (Mark 3:6; 12:13 = Matt 22:16)
and are never referred to anywhere else. Beyond the probable fact
that they were supporters of Herod Antipas, we know nothing of
them. Their identification with either the Sadducees or the Essenes
is not recommended.
For many Jews, probably most, the biggest problem was Roman
domination. Some groups, like the Sadducees and the Herodians,
did not view this as a problem. They were content to live with it.
But most others longed for change. The Pharisees believed that deliv-
erance would come through scrupulous observance of the Law, includ-
ing their oral traditions, their “fence” erected around the Law. Many
were probably passive in their criticism of the Herodians and the
Romans, but as we have seen, some adopted violent tactics. Essenes
also hoped for revolution, but they looked to heaven in anticipation
ix+nortc+iox: rixrixo . cox+rx+ ron ¡rsts 5
of a dramatic and final moment in time when prophecies would be
fulfilled. Some individuals took it upon themselves to usher in the
awaited new age.
Religio-Political Deliverers
Following the death of Herod the Great several men attempted to
place the crown upon their heads. One or two of these figures may
have thought of themselves as David-like figures, perhaps even in
messianic terms. We hear of Simon of Perea who plundered and
burned the royal palace in Jericho (Ant. 17.10.6 §273–276). Another,
Athronges the shepherd of Judea, was “remarkable for his great
stature and feats of strength.” He was to rule over parts of Judea
for more than two years before finally being subdued by the Romans
(Ant. 17.10.7 §278–284).
A generation later two prophetic figures arose who are especially
interesting. The first is Theudas who according to Josephus per-
suaded many to take up their possessions and join him in the wilder-
ness. At his command, he promised, the Jordan River would be
parted and he and his following would cross with ease. This Joshua-
like act was probably intended as a confirming sign, not only of
Theudas’ true prophetic status, but of the beginning of a new con-
quest of the promised land, whereby Israel’s poor and marginalized
would regain their lost patrimony. The Roman governor dispatched
the cavalry, which made short work of Theudas and his band of
followers. Many were killed; and the head of the prophet was mounted
on a pole near one of the gates of Jerusalem (Ant. 20.5.1 §97–98;
cf. Acts 5:36).
A decade later a Jew from Egypt, “who declared that he was a
prophet,” persuaded many to join him atop the Mount of Olives,
where at his command the walls of Jerusalem would collapse pro-
viding his following entry into and possession of the holy city. Roman
soldiers once again attacked what appears to have been another
attempt to reenact a story from the book of Joshua. Although 400
were killed and 200 were taken prisoner, somehow the Egyptian Jew
escaped (Ant. 20.8.6 §169–170). Paul was himself asked if he were
this fugitive (Acts 21:38).
During the first rebellion against Rome, zealot leaders Menahem
and Simon bar Giora rallied many around themselves. It is possible
6 cn.io .. r\.xs
that both were thought of in messianic terms. Menahem became an
insufferable tyrant and early in the war was murdered by his own
following. When Jerusalem was captured and the Temple was
destroyed, Simon made a dramatic appearance and surrendered to
the Romans who later executed him.
Josephus states that what more than anything else drove his coun-
trymen to rebellion was an “ambiguous oracle.” His fellow Jews mis-
takenly believed that this oracle promised a Jewish deliverer, when
in reality it promised only that a world deliverer would be coro-
nated on Jewish soil. Josephus believed that the royal acclamation
of Vespasian, while in Judea fighting Jewish rebels, was the fulfillment
of this oracle. Again, Josephus is being disingenuous. The oracle he
refers to is Num 24:17 (“a star shall come out of Jacob . . .”) and
he knows perfectly well it was widely understood as messianic (in
the Targum it is paraphrased, “a king shall come out of Jacob, the
Messiah . . .”; see also Matt 2:2). Applying it to the new emperor,
however, was politically shrewd, not only currying favor with the
new Roman dynasty but obscuring the messianic hopes many Jews
held, an obscuring that would be necessary, Josephus believed, if the
Jewish people were to survive in the Roman Empire in the after-
math of the terrible war.
Jesus in Context
The party with which Jesus has the most contact, and with which
he seems the most angry, is the Pharisees. Like the Pharisees (but
unlike the Sadducees), Jesus believes in the resurrection and in angels.
Jesus’ anticipation of the kingdom of God and the restoration of
Israel was probably in essential agreement with Pharisaic hopes, but
his understanding of purity and his acceptance of sinners on the
basis of repentance set him against the Pharisees. Healing on the
sabbath, plucking and eating grain on the sabbath, eating with
“unwashed” hands, and associating with tax collectors and “sinners”
occasion criticism and even deadly plotting. Against these criticisms
Jesus replied sharply: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 23:13).
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint,
dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the
law: justice and mercy and faith” (Matt 23:23).
ix+nortc+iox: rixrixo . cox+rx+ ron ¡rsts 7
More serious, however, was Jesus’ criticism of the ruling priests.
In his action in the Temple precincts (Mark 11:15–18), he rebukes
the establishment for failing to live up to the grand vision of Isa
56:1–8 (“my Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer for all
the nations”) and criticizes it as a “cave of robbers” ( Jer 7:11), imply-
ing that divine judgment threatens (see the whole of Jeremiah 7).
The ruling priests are incensed and demand to know by what author-
ity he does these things (Mark 11:27–33), for Jesus’ criticisms would
have been viewed as outrageous. Jesus refuses to answer directly, but
in his parable of the Wicked Vineyard Tenants (Mark 12:1–12) he
provides the answer implicitly: He is none other than God’s son and
emissary; for rejecting him the ruling priests face certain judgment.
The polemic intensifies with warnings of the scribes’ avarice (Mark
12:38–44) and talk of the Temple’s doom (Mark 13:1–2; cf. 14:58).
Jesus’ actions resemble similar demonstrations and declarations that
took place in the Temple precincts conducted by Jewish teachers
(before the time of Jesus and after).
Threats against the ruling priests and talk of the disciples sitting
on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28 =
Luke 22:28–30) clearly implied a change in administration, some-
thing that would not be tolerated either by the ruling priests or their
Roman masters. The question about taxes, put to Jesus by the
Herodians (Mark 12:13–17), was natural in light of the overtones of
Jesus’ teaching and actions in Jerusalem. After all, when Jesus entered
the city people had cried out, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of
our father David” (Mark 11:10). The restoration of a Davidic king-
dom surely implied that taxes would no longer be paid to Caesar.
Given the fact that taxes destined for Rome were actually deposited
in the Temple, putting this sensitive question to Jesus while he taught
in the sacred precincts makes perfect sense.
There are hints of anti-Roman sentiment in Jesus’ ministry. When
he sent the demonic “Legion” into the herd of swine (Mark 5:1–20),
we should think of the Roman legion. Indeed, one of these legions,
whose mascot was the boar, occupied Jerusalem following the great
war. Sending the demonic legion into the abyss, to its destruction,
would have conveyed a powerful symbolic meaning to oppressed
people in the Roman Empire.
Jesus’ teaching and activities at many points parallel those of his
contemporaries. His homespun parables are similar to those of the
early rabbis. His proverbs, his style of argumentation, and his piety
8 cn.io .. r\.xs
find many parallels. But his definition of the kingdom of God—as
the powerful presence of God—and his vision of Israel’s and human-
ity’s salvation as first and foremost spiritual, rather than political,
highlights important and distinctive elements. Jesus’ diction clearly
reflects the Aramaic paraphrase later called the Targum, but his dec-
laration that Scripture is “fulfilled” and that the “kingdom of God
has come” represents distinctive features. But even these distinctive
features cannot be fully and properly understood unless studied in
context. The essays that follow attempt to do this very thing.
ix+nortc+iox: rixrixo . cox+rx+ ron ¡rsts 9
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THE MISPLACED JESUS
INTERPRETING JESUS IN A JUDAIC CONTEXT
Craig A. Evans
Despite a great deal of debate and discussion, the Jesus of history
seems to have been misplaced.
1
In recent years the public and the
scholarly community have been presented with a variety of histori-
cal Jesuses, some plausible, some implausible. The principal fault of
the implausible portraits, especially those emanating from the North
American Jesus Seminar and its sympathizers, is the contextual mis-
placement of Jesus. Jesus has been lifted out of his Judaic context
and relocated in what is supposed to be a more suitable, Hellenistic
setting.
In my view what we are often left with is not really the histori-
cal Jesus, but the politically correct Jesus of the late twentieth cen-
tury. The placement of Jesus into a Cynic framework, for example,
is in some ways probably the most curious, not to say dubious,
accomplishment of scholarship to date. The Cynic hypothesis will
in time assuredly be consigned to the dustbin of ill-conceived hypo-
theses, but it will be useful nonetheless to appeal to it as our point
of departure.
Christianity’s reluctance to allow Jesus to reside in his Judaic con-
text is in itself an item of interest, with a history that dates back to
the writing of the New Testament Gospels, especially the fourth one.
The tendency to place Jesus above Judaism is to some extent under-
standable, given the development of christology, whereby Jesus is
seen as universal savior (and not simply Israel’s Messiah), and given
the rapid expansion of the early church, whereby its membership
becomes predominantly Gentile (and so largely devoid of interest in
and of understanding of Judaism and the Jewish people).
Even in the last two centuries, which we regard as the era of
1
The theme of our conference is “the missing Jesus.” Things often go missing
because they have been misplaced. What is missing in many presentations of Jesus
is his Jewishness. This essential, but missing element is frequently both the cause
and the result of failing to place Jesus in the appropriate context.
critical biblical scholarship, the reluctance to place Jesus in his Judaic
context is evident.
2
That a full and proper understanding of the
Judaic context has not become commonplace in New Testament
scholarship is partly owing to serious shortcomings in the pertinent,
cognate fields of study. Gustaf Dalman’s attempt to understand the
language of Jesus in terms of Aramaic,
3
from which Joachim Jeremias
years later tried to isolate the ipsissima verba Jesu, was called into ques-
tion because of his appeal to Aramaic documents that post-date the
time of Jesus by several centuries.
4
This problem also vitiates to a
great extent Matthew Black’s attempt to deal with exegetical difficulties
and textual uncertainties in the Gospels and Acts by appeal to
Aramaic.
5
Refinement in study of the Aramaic Targums and the
addition of a significant amount of Aramaic material from the time
of Jesus—thanks largely to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls—
have made it possible to make surer headway in this field.
6
Indeed,
important aspects of Jesus’ understanding of the kingdom of God
have been clarified by judicious use of the Isaiah Targum.
7
Nevertheless,
2
On this point, see B. D. Chilton, “Jesus within Judaism,” in J. Neusner (ed.),
Judaism in Late Antiquity: II. Historical Syntheses (Handbuch der Orientalistik 70; Leiden:
Brill, 1995) 262–84; repr. in Chilton and C. A. Evans, Jesus in Context: Temple, Purity,
and Restoration (AGJU 39; Leiden: Brill, 1997) 179–201.
3
The attempt was certainly laudable and to some extent balanced the tendency
in late nineteenth century scholarship to draw parallels almost exclusively between
the New Testament and classical sources. In the English language this is plainly
evident in the great commentaries of J. B. Lightfoot and B. F. Westcott.
4
G. H. Dalman, Die Worte Jesu mit Berücksichtung des nach kanonischen jüdischen
Schrifttums und der aramäischen Sprache erörtert (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1898); ET: The Words
of Jesus (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1902); J. Jeremias, Neutestamentliche Theologie: Erster
Teil: Die Verkündigung Jesu (Gütersloh: Mohn, 1971); ET: New Testament Theology: The
Proclamation of Jesus (London: SCM Press, 1971).
5
M. Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts (Oxford: Clarendon, 1946;
3rd ed., 1967; repr. with Introduction by C. A. Evans; Peabody: Hendrickson,
1998). For all its faults, Black’s work represents a major advance in critical con-
trols over the older works of C. F. Burney, The Poetry of Our Lord: An Examination of
the Formal Elements of Hebrew Poetry in the Discourse of Jesus Christ (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1925), and C. C. Torrey, The Four Gospels (New York: Harper, 1933).
6
M. McNamara, The New Testament and the Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch
(AnBib 27A; 2nd ed., Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1978); idem, Targum and
Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972); B. D. Chilton, The Glory of Israel: The
Theology and Provenience of the Isaiah Targum ( JSOTSup 23; Sheffield: JSOT Press,
1982). For a convenient collection of Aramaic materials from the approximate time
of Jesus, see J. A. Fitzmyer and D. J. Harrington, A Manual of Palestinian Aramaic
Texts (Second Century BC–Second Century AD) (BibOr 34; Rome: Pontifical Biblical
Institute Press, 1978).
7
B. D. Chilton, “Regnum Dei Deus Est,” SJT 31 (1978); idem, God in Strength:
Jesus’ Announcement of the Kingdom (SNTU 1; Freistadt: Plöchl, 1979; repr. BibSem 8;
12 cn.io .. r\.xs
the perceived weaknesses of the earlier attempts of Dalman and his
successors tended to discourage New Testament scholars from tak-
ing an Aramaic approach to Jesus and the Gospels.
Failure to appreciate the Judaic context of Jesus is also partly
owing to the now widespread awareness of the shortcomings of Paul
Billerbeck’s massive collection of Rabbinic and New Testament par-
allels in his Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch.
8
This work has been criticized by many, especially in recent years.
The most commonly cited problems have to do with failure to treat
the parallels in their full, literary and traditional context, uncritical
acceptance of the attribution of the rabbinic sayings, and the assump-
tion that the midrashic and talmudic literature describes accurately
the second Temple period.
9
Critical study of rabbinic literature, which is still in its early stages,
critical study of the Targums, and the recent publication of the full
corpus of the Dead Sea Scrolls make it possible to look at Jesus
again in his Judaic context, this time with greater precision. It is
ironic that at a time when the potential for studying Jesus in a Jewish
context has never been more propitious so many today seek to place
him in other contexts.
This paper speaks to this issue and is presented in two parts: (1)
the misplaced Jesus, and (2) Jesus in his Judaic context. The first
part hopes to expose the fallacies and consequences of putting Jesus
into the wrong context, in this case a relatively unJewish, Cynic con-
text. The second part attempts to show how Jesus in his teaching
and behavior is right at home in the world of first century Palestinian
Judaism and that when placed in his proper context his teaching
and behavior make sense.
Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987); idem, A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible: Jesus’ Own
Interpretation of Isaiah (London: SPCK, 1984) = A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible: Jesus’
Use of the Interpreted Scripture of His Time (GNS 8; Wilmington: Glazier, 1984).
8
(H. L. Strack) and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und
Midrasch (6 vols., 6th ed., Munich: Beck, 1978).
9
Or, as Jacob Neusner puts, “the way things really were.” I discuss these vari-
ous deficiencies in C. A. Evans, “Early Rabbinic Sources and Jesus Research,” in
Eugene H. Lovering, Jr. (ed.), Society of Biblical Literature 1995 Seminar Papers (SBLSP
34; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995) 53–76. At many points I follow Neusner. This
study has been revised and reprinted in Chilton and Evans, Jesus in Context, 27–57.
See also P. S. Alexander, “Rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament,” ZNW 74
(1983) 237–46.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 13
The Misplaced Jesus
Burton Mack recently published a book entitled The Lost Gospel: The
Book of Q and Christian Origins. As the subtitle makes clear, the book
is concerned with the hypothetical source called Q, which many
Gospel scholars think was utilized by the Matthean and Lukan evan-
gelists. The book attempts to explain the origins of the story of Jesus,
particularly in the form of “Q,” which Mack understands to have
been the first written Gospel. He believes that the earliest Q com-
munity understood Jesus in terms more akin to Cynicism than to
Judaism. That is, Jesus was viewed as iconoclastic and counter-
cultural, not affirming Israel’s heritage and eschatological aspirations.
Accordingly, Mack has said: “As remembered by the Jesus people,
Jesus was much more like the Cynic-teacher than either a Christ-
savior or a messiah with a program for the reformation of second-
temple Jewish society and religion.”
10
Mack goes on to appeal to
pre-Markan traditions and the Gospel of Thomas for support for a view
that has struck most Gospel scholars and Jesus scholars as implausible.
Mack’s study of Q is more or less a sequel to his earlier study of
the Gospel of Mark, published a decade ago and entitled A Myth of
Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins. Arguing from the style of Jesus’
ministry and what he believes to have been the essence of his mes-
sage, Mack has concluded that Jesus’ contemporaries would have
readily recognized the Galilean teacher as a Cynic. Two quotations
from this book summarize the gist of his perspective. According to
Professor Mack:
[1] Jesus’ use of parables, aphorisms, and clever rejoinders is very sim-
ilar to the Cynics’ way with words. Many of his themes are familiar
Cynic themes. And his style of social criticism, diffident and vague,
also agrees with the typical Cynic stance.
[2] The Cynic’s self-understanding must be taken seriously as that
which many must have expected of Jesus. Not only does Jesus’ style
of social criticism compare favorably, his themes and topics are much
10
B. L. Mack, The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins (San Francisco:
HarperCollins, 1993) 245. Only the early layer of Q, thinks Mack, was Cynic. For
a similar view, see L. Vaage, “Q and Cynicism: On Comparison and Social Identity,”
in R. A. Piper (ed.), The Gospel behind the Gospels: Current Studies on Q (NovTSup 75;
Leiden: Brill, 1994) 199–229; idem, Galilean Upstarts: Jesus’ First Followers according to
Q (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1994).
14 cn.io .. r\.xs
closer to Cynic idiom than to those characteristic for public Jewish
piety. One seeks in vain a direct engagement of specifically Jewish con-
cerns. Neither is Jesus’ critique directed specifically toward Jewish insti-
tutional issues, nor do his recommendations draw upon obviously Jewish
concepts and authorities . . . The Cynic analogy repositions the his-
torical Jesus away from a specifically Jewish sectarian milieu and toward
the Hellenistic ethos known to have prevailed in Galilee.
11
Mack’s negative assertions here are simply breathtaking. No less
astonishing is some of the jacket blurb that appears on the back of
the book. For example, Werner Kelber asserts: “A Myth of Innocence
is the most penetrating historical work on the origins of Christianity
written by an American scholar in this century.” To this hyperbole
Ron Cameron adds: “A Myth of Innocence is surely one of the most
important studies of the origins of Christianity since Schweitzer’s
Quest.” Indeed. Reviewers and scholars, however, have not been as
euphoric.
12
Virtually every disclaimer Mack makes in the second quotation
above is false. Let us briefly examine each one. First, Mack asserts:
“Jesus’ style of social criticism compare(s) favorably (to the Cynic’s).”
To this I reply, no, in actuality it does not. Jesus’ style of social crit-
icism noticeably differs from the Cynic style at many points (more
on this below). Also, in the first quotation Mack adds that Jesus’
“style of social criticism, diffident and vague, also agrees with the
typical Cynic stance.” How is Jesus’ social criticism “diffident and
vague”? His blistering criticism of Pharisees, with whom he differed
in matters of halakah and understanding of mission, and his criti-
cism and prophetic threats directed against the Temple establish-
ment are anything but diffident and vague. To be sure, Jesus can
be crafty and clever. He deals deftly with questions about his author-
ity (Mark 11:27–33) and whether or not he believes taxes should be
paid to Rome (Mark 12:13–17). But his ambiguous ripostes on these
occasions do not exemplify diffidence, but strategic discretion.
11
B. L. Mack, A Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins (Minneapolis: Fortress,
1988) 68, 73.
12
For a sampling, see A. Y. Collins, JBL 108 (1989) 726–29. Kelber’s hyper-
bole (drawn from his review in CBQ 52 [1990] 161–63, here 162) is tempered when
he opines that Mack has reached “some very odd conclusions” and that it is not
fair to blame Mark “for all the ills of the West stretching from the crusades to the
holocaust . . .” (here 163). More recently, see P. R. Eddy, “Jesus as Diogenes?
Reflections on the Cynic Jesus Thesis,” JBL 115 (1996) 449–69; and F. G. Downing’s
rejoinder, “Deeper Reflections on the Jewish Cynic Jesus,” JBL 117 (1998) 97–104.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 15
Impressed by Gerald Downing’s parallels between the sayings of
Jesus and those thought to have been uttered by Cynics or to be
representative of Cynic thought and behavior,
13
and readily accept-
ing the conclusions recommended by Mack, Dom Crossan has also
argued that the philosophy and lifestyle of the Cynic provides the
closest model against which Jesus should be viewed.
14
The Cynic
typically carried a cloak (tr¤bvn), a beggar’s pouch (pÆra), a staff
(bakthr¤a), and usually went barefoot (see Julian, Orations 6.201A).
The Cynic was “counter cultural,” Crossan explains, and “looked
sufficiently different from what was normal by contemporary social
standards.”
15
The Cynic regarded himself as free under Zeus and
often considered himself the deity’s co-worker. The implication of
these observations, Crossan believes, is that Jesus was himself a Jewish
Cynic.
There are superficial parallels, to be sure. Jesus’ itinerant ministry,
his modest manner of means and dress, his repudiation of political
power and materialism, his egalitarian practices, his celibacy, and
his criticism of the religious establishment are all in keeping with the
theory and practice typical of first-century Cynics, at least so far as
we can determine. But then, some of these features are also true of
the Essenes and various other individual Jews (and true, I might add,
of Israel’s prophets of the classical period). Were they Cynics also?
Advocates of the Cynic hypothesis usually appeal to the Missionary
Discourse: “He charged them to take nothing for their journey except
a staff [=ãbdon]; nor bread, no bag [pÆra], no money in their belts;
but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics [xit«n]” (Mark 6:8–9).
In the Matthean and Lukan parallels even the staff is excluded (Matt
13
F. G. Downing, Christ and the Cynics: Jesus and Other Radical Preachers in First-
Century Tradition ( JSOT Manuals 4; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1988); idem, Cynics and
Christian Origins (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1992).
14
J. D. Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San
Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991) esp. 421–22. Crossan has given this popular trend
its most eloquent expression. Many of the studies emanating from the Jesus Seminar
take a similar tack, including studies of the “Q” source underlying Matthew and
Luke. Although it is true that Q researchers are primarily concerned with the ide-
ologies of the hypothetical Q communities and not with the historical Jesus, their
descriptions of these ideologies have tended to reinforce in the public mind, as well
as in the academic mind, the image of the Hellenistic Jesus who held little inter-
est in the matters that concerned first-century Palestinian Jews. In the case of Mack,
however, his interpretation of the earliest Q community as understanding Jesus as
a Cynic supports, he believes, his view of Jesus as a Cynic.
15
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 85, 83.
16 cn.io .. r\.xs
10:10; Luke 9:3; 10:4). In contrast to Jesus’ instructions, Cynics took
a purse and a staff; indeed, these items were their characteristic
markers: “What makes a Cynic is his purse and his staff and his big
mouth” (Epictetus 3.22.50; cf. Lucian, Peregrinus 15; Diogenes Laertius,
Lives of Eminent Philosophers 6.13; Ps.-Diogenes 30.3).
16
However, the
only parallel with Jesus is in the giving of instructions with regard
to what to wear and what to take on one’s journey. The only specific
agreement is taking the staff (if we follow Mark; if we do not, then
there is no agreement). The rod, however, is hardly distinctive to
Cynics. On the contrary, in the Jewish context the staff has a long
and distinguished association with the patriarchs (e.g., Gen 32:10
[ Jacob]; 38:18 [ Judah]), and the great lawgiver and his brother (e.g.,
Exod 4:4 [Moses]; 7:9 [Aaron]). Moreover, it is also a symbol of
royal authority, figuring in texts which in later interpretation take
on messianic and eschatological significance (e.g., Gen 49:10; Isa
11:4; Ezek 19:14). The parallel with the Essenes is closer than those
with Cynics ( Josephus, J.W. 2.8.4 §125–127).
According to Julian, the “end and aim of the Cynic philosophy . . .
is happiness, but happiness that consists in living according to
nature . . .” (Orations 6.193D). This does not square with what is
known of Jesus, whose principal aim was to live under the author-
ity of God, as attested in Scripture and experienced through his
Spirit.
Cynics, moreover, were known for flouting social custom and eti-
quette, such as urinating, defecating, and engaging in sexual inter-
course in public (cf. Cicero, De officiis 1.128; Diogenes Laertius, Lives
of Eminent Philosophers 6.69; Epictetus, Discourses 2.20.10 [“eat and
drink and copulate and defecate and snore”]; Seneca, Moral Epistles
91.19 [“What difference does it make to me,” he asks, “from which
end the noise comes?”). None of this in any way resembles what is
known of Jesus and his earliest followers.
Second, Mack thinks that “( Jesus’) themes and topics are much
closer to Cynic idiom than to those characteristic for public Jewish
piety.” Such a statement can only be made by someone insufficiently
acquainted with the language and themes of the Dead Sea Scrolls,
Jewish apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, and early rabbinic literature.
Close examination of the parallels between Jesus and alleged Cynic
16
See Downing, Christ and the Cynics, 47–48.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 17
traditions that Downing has adduced reveals that these “parallels”
are usually quite general. What is more, many of Downing’s paral-
lels are to sources that probably are not Cynic, so some of these
parallels reflect the Mediterranean world of late antiquity more than
they do distinctive Cynic traits.
Despite its faults, the great number of parallels between the say-
ings of Jesus and rabbinic tradition compiled in Paul Billerbeck’s
Kommentar (which nowhere in his books Mack cites) attests to the
close correlation between early rabbinic idiom and Jesus’ themes and
topics. There are impressive parallels between Jesus and the rabbis
in parables, proverbs, and prayers.
17
Although Billerbeck’s work has
been criticized at many points, it is widely agreed that the myriad
of parallels assembled in this work dramatically attests the Jewishness
of the content and form of Jesus’ discourse and behavior.
Third, Mack makes the astonishing assertion that “One seeks in
vain a direct engagement of specifically Jewish concerns.” On the
contrary, Jesus engages his contemporaries in matters relating to
purity and sabbath, the principal markers by which people of late
antiquity readily recognized a Jewish person. Although Jesus is often
criticized for holding to a halakic understanding that differed from
that of other teachers, nowhere in his responses do we find indica-
tions that Jesus denigrated or rejected the subjects themselves. There
is no good reason for placing the particulars of Jesus’ teaching out-
side the parameters of Jewish religious practice and debate of late
antiquity.
Perhaps an even more pronounced engagement with Jewish con-
cerns is seen in Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God. Such
17
I have summarized and selectively treated these in C. A. Evans, Jesus and His
Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (AGJU 25; Leiden: Brill, 1995) 251–97. For more
extensive treatments, see P. Fiebig, Die Gleichnisreden Jesu im lichte der rabbinischen
Gleichnisse des neutestamentlichen Zeitalters (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1912); G. Dalman,
Jesus-Jeshua: Studies in the Gospels (London: SPCK, 1929); W. O. E. Oesterley, The
Gospel Parables in the Light of Their Jewish Background (London: Macmillan, 1936);
D. Flusser, “Sanktus und Gloria,” in O. Betz, M. Hengel, and P. Schmidt (eds.),
Abraham unser Vater: Juden und Christen im Gespräch über die Bibel (O. Michel Festschrift;
Leiden: Brill, 1963) 129–52; J. Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus (London: SCM; New
York: Scribner’s, 1963); J. J. Petuchowski and M. Brocke (eds.), The Lord’s Prayer
and Jewish Liturgy (New York: Seabury, 1978); D. Flusser, Die rabbinischen Gleichnisse
und der Gleichniserzähler Jesus (Bern: Peter Lang, 1981); B. H. Young, Jesus and His
Jewish Parables (New York: Paulist, 1989); H. K. McArthur and R. M. Johnston,
They Also Taught in Parables: Rabbinic Parables from the First Centuries of the Christian Era
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990).
18 cn.io .. r\.xs
a message would have spoken directly to Jewish hopes of national
redemption. Herein lies a major weakness in the Cynic approach
that Mack and others have taken. Mack makes what he thinks is a
telling point in claiming that the phrase “kingdom of God” is quite
rare in non-Christian Jewish literature.
18
The implication is that this
theologoumenon is more of a post-Jesus, Christian concept, not some-
thing that directly derives from Judaism. To this Bruce Chilton has
responded in uncompromising terms: “Let us be clear: Mack is quite
wrong, and his attempt to construe Jesus’ preaching purely on the
basis of hellenistic antecedents only succeeds to the extent that Judaic
texts such as the Targums which long been known and studied are
willfully ignored by scholars who should know better than to engage
in such special pleading.”
19
Chilton is correct.
The concept of God’s rule is rooted in Scripture itself. The expres-
sion “kingdom of Ynvn” occurs in 1 Chr 28:5; 2 Chr 13:8. There
are also indirect references to God’s kingdom, in which a pronoun
is used (cf. 1 Chr 29:11; Ps 22:28; Obad 21; Dan 4:3, 34; 7:27; Pss
22:28; 103:19; 145:11–13). Moreover, in the Hebrew Scriptures God
is frequently called “king” (˚l, m, ) or is said to “rule” (˚l' m; ). One thinks
above all of the enthronement Psalms (e.g., 47, 93, 96–99) where is
frequently heard the refrain “Ynvn has become king!” Apart from
the Gospels and New Testament writings the Greek phrase is admit-
tedly rare, with Pss. Sol. 17:3 (≤ basile¤a toË yeoË ≤m«n) and Wis
10:10 (basile¤an yeoË) providing examples. Philo speaks similarly of
God as king (Cherub. 29; Post. Caini 5, 105 [pr«tow ka‹ mÒnow t«n ˜lvn
basileÁw ı yeÒw §sti]; Agric. 51 [ı poimØn ka‹ basileÁw yeÚw êgei], 78
[tØn toË megãlou basil°vw yeoË dÊnamin]; Conf. ling. 173, paraphras-
ing Deut 10:17 [kÊrie, kÊrie, basileË t«n ye«n]; Migr. Abr. 146 [ı
m°gaw ka‹ mÒnow basileÁw yeÒw]; and many more). But rareness of the
expression in Greek means little in the discussion of the diction of
the Aramaic-speaking Jesus.
Chilton draws our attention to several important instances of the
appearances of the Aramaic phrase hwhyd/ahlad atwklm (“kingdom
18
See B. L. Mack, “The Kingdom Sayings in Mark,” Forum 3 (1987) 3–47. For
an uncritical affirmation and extension of this view, see J. G. Williams, “Neither
Here nor There: Between Wisdom and Apocalyptic in Jesus’ Kingdom Sayings,”
Forum 5 (1989) 7–30.
19
B. Chilton, “The Kingdom of God in Recent Discussion,” in B. Chilton and
C. A. Evans (eds.), Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research
(NTTS 19; Leiden: Brill, 1994) 255–80, here 269.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 19
of God/Ynvn”), which occurs ten times in eight passages (Tg. Isa
24:23; 31:4; 40:9; 52:7; Tg. Ezek 7:7, 10; Tg. Obad 21; Tg. Mic 4:7,
8; Tg. Zech 14:9). Of special interest is Tg. Mic 4:7–8, in which the
appearance of the kingdom of God is associated with the coming of
the Messiah.
20
Most of these passages speak of the appearance or
revelation of the kingdom of God and so conceive of it in eschato-
logical terms.
The Dead Sea Scrolls contribute to Chilton’s impressive targumic
evidence. Here one finds references to God’s kingdom (though almost
always using the personal pronoun) in the various editions of the
Song of the Sabbath Sacrifice. These references include “his king-
dom” (4Q403 1 i 32), “his lofty kingdom” (4Q403 1 i 8; 1 i 14;
4Q405 3 ii 4; MasSS 2:20), “his glorious kingdom” (4Q403 1 i 25;
4Q405 23 i 3; ii 11–12), “all His kingdom” (4Q403 1 i 32–33),
“your kingdom” (4Q400 1 ii 3; 2 1; 4Q401 14 i 7), “your glorious
kingdom” (4Q401 14 i 6), and “the glorious kingdom of the King
of all the g[ods]” (4Q405 24 3).
21
Though not as frequently attested, the idea of God’s reign is also
found in several of the pseudepigraphal writings. According to Jub.
1:28 God is “king” who rules “upon Mount Zion forever and ever.”
In anticipation of Israel’s restoration, the patriarch Dan prophesies
that “the Holy One will rule [basileÊvn] over them” (T. Dan 5:13).
The author of the Testament of Moses predicts the appearance of God’s
kingdom after Israel endures a period of wrath: “Then his (God’s)
kingdom [regnum illius] will appear . . . For the Heavenly One will
arise from his kingly throne [a sede regni sui ]” (T. Moses 10:1, 3).
Against the backdrop of such diction and imagery Jesus’ proclamation
of the kingdom of God would have been not only intelligible, but
would have been readily perceived as speaking to the hopes and
expectations of many of his Jewish contemporaries. The hope of the
appearance of the kingdom of God, whereby wrongs are put right,
evil is banished, and people are refreshed spiritually and physically,
could not be more inconsistent with Cynic thought and behavior.
20
B. Chilton, The Glory of Israel: The Theology and Provenience of the Isaiah Targum
( JSOTSup 23; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1982) 77–81; cf. Evans, Jesus and His
Contemporaries, 155–81.
21
See A. M. Schwemer, “Gott als König und seine Königsherrschaft in den
Sabbatlieden aus Qumran,” in M. Hengel and A. M. Schwemer (eds.), Königsherrschaft
Gottes und himmlischer Kult im Judentum, Christentum und in der hellenistischen Welt (WUNT
55; Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1991) 45–118.
20 cn.io .. r\.xs
Fourth, Mack adds: “Neither is Jesus’ critique directed specifically
toward Jewish institutional issues.” This disclaimer, however, is not
persuasive. Jesus’ demonstration in the Temple precincts, an act that
many rightly consider bedrock tradition, was directed specifically
toward the polity and practice of the single most important Jewish
institution. How Mack can make the claim that he does is very
difficult to comprehend. His negative assertion is part and parcel
with his dubious claim that Jesus’ execution had nothing to do with
his ministry, but was probably the unfortunate result of having been
“associated with a demonstration.” Mack believes that the link between
Jesus’ public activities and teachings and his subsequent arrest, inter-
rogation, and execution was a literary and theological invention on
the part of the Markan evangelist.
22
Again Mack’s reasoning is faulty
and his misinterpretation and neglect of pertinent source material
are egregious.
23
Mack believes that Mark’s account of Jesus’ action in the Temple
is fiction, because he finds no evidence of an anti-Temple orienta-
tion on the part of Jesus. Where Mack goes astray is in thinking
that Jesus’ action should be understood in anti-Temple terms. Had
he considered historical parallels he might have thought better. For
example, the teachers who during a religious festival incited the
22
Mack, A Myth of Innocence, 88–89, 282. Mack comments: “Jesus must have gone
there on some occasion, most probably during a pilgrimage season, was associated
with a demonstration, and was killed . . . Some of his followers apparently saw a
connection between Jesus’ activity in Galilee and his fate in Jerusalem” (pp. 88–89);
“The gospel theme must therefore be a post 70 CE fabrication. Before that time
the scenario would have appeared ridiculous” (p. 282). Mack’s student, David Seeley
(“Was Jesus like a Philosopher? The Evidence of Martyrological and Wisdom Motifs
in Q, Pre-Pauline Traditions, and Mark,” in D. J. Lull [ed.], Society of Biblical
Literature 1989 Seminar Papers [SBLSP 28; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989] 540–49,
here 548) agrees, adding that the evangelist “Mark concocted the Jewish conspir-
acy against Jesus for his own, redactional reasons . . . the death itself was probably
just a mistake” (i.e., in that Pilate misunderstood Jesus’ intensions).
23
With a brief note (Myth of Innocence, 225 n. 12) Mack dismisses John’s linkage
of Jesus’ ministry and subsequent execution, claiming that the fourth Gospel is
dependent upon the Synoptics. In doing this he has swept aside the critical judg-
ment of several Johannine scholars. He also fails to take into account a similar link-
age between the public ministry and the deadly high priestly opposition attested in
Josephus, Ant. 18.3.3 §63–64. In the part of this embellished text that virtually all
regard as authentic Josephus describes Jesus as a teacher and wonderworker who
was accused by the “leading men” (i.e., ruling priests) before the Roman governor.
We have here an important point of agreement between Mark, John (which is surely
independent of the Synoptics), and Josephus: Jesus’ public activities provoked the
ruling priests, whose accusation before Pilate resulted in Jesus’ execution. See Evans,
Jesus and His Contemporaries, 301–18, 345–52.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 21
crowd to pitch lemons at Alexander Jannaeus, the Hasmonean priest-
king (c. 100 BCE) who was preparing to offer sacrifice (cf. Josephus,
Ant. 13.13.5 §372–373), did so not because of an anti-Temple bias,
but because of intense loyalty for the purity of the Temple and the
sanctity of the office of High Priest.
24
Similarly, Jesus appeals to prophetic oracles at the time of his
action in the Temple precincts (Mark 11:17), which in the case of
Isaiah 56 looked forward to a glorious era when Jerusalem’s Temple
would be appreciated and honored by the world.
25
But because of
commercialism and the concomitant abridgement of the pragmata
of sacrifice,
26
Jesus appealed to the ominous oracle of Jeremiah 7.
In calling the Temple a “cave of robbers” Jesus was no more anti-
Temple than had been the great first Temple prophet Jeremiah. The
disappointment that Jesus expressed in the Temple establishment for
not achieving the exalted function envisioned in Isaiah 56 only under-
scores Jesus’ loyalty to the Temple and his belief in its enduring
importance. In short, Jesus’ action in the sacred precincts offers evi-
dence of precisely the opposite disposition of what Mack wrongly
imagines. Jesus’ action in the Temple provides compelling and
significant evidence that Jewish institutional issues lay at the heart
of Jesus’ agenda.
Fifth, Mack not only claims that Jesus’ critique was not directed
specifically toward Jewish institutional issues, he adds that Jesus’ “rec-
ommendations (do not) draw upon obviously Jewish concepts and
authorities.” This is an odd disclaimer in view of Jesus’ frequent
appeal to Scripture and the Jewish heritage. Although not every quo-
tation or paraphrase of Scripture attributed to Jesus necessarily derives
from Jesus,
27
the tendency of Mack and many of the Jesus Seminar
24
According to Josephus, Alexander’s critics said that “he was descended from
captives and was unfit to hold office and to sacrifice.”
25
The oracle found in Isaiah 56 echoes Solomon’s prayer of dedication, in which
the hope is expressed that all peoples will come to Jerusalem’s Temple and wor-
ship God; cf. C. A. Evans, “From ‘House of Prayer’ to ‘Cave of Robbers’: Jesus’
Prophetic Criticism of the Temple Establishment,” in C. A. Evans and S. Talmon
(eds.), The Quest for Context and Meaning: Studies in Biblical Intertextuality in Honor of James
A. Sanders (BIS 28; Leiden: Brill, 1997) 417–42.
26
For discussion and an able defense of this line of interpretation, see B. Chilton,
The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program Within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University
Park: Penn State Press, 1992) 91–111.
27
On this question, see R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament (London: Tyndale,
1971).
22 cn.io .. r\.xs
to dismiss this material is wholly unjustified. It is at this very point
that the Jesus Seminar has received some of its sharpest criticism.
28
Indeed, Chilton has plausibly argued that Jesus should be viewed as
a rabbi, both in his manner of behavior (in teaching disciples) and
in his style of scriptural argument, which at many points coheres
with the themes, exegeses, and diction of the Aramaic paraphrase
of Scripture.
29
With reference to his behavior, Jesus’ action in the
Temple is reminiscent of protests led by teachers in Hasmonean and
Herodian times and anticipates protests, didactic or prophetic, in the
years leading up to the great war in 66–70 CE.
30
Sixth and finally Mack asserts that the “Cynic analogy repositions
the historical Jesus away from a specifically Jewish sectarian milieu
and toward the Hellenistic ethos known to have prevailed in Galilee.”
The evidence, however, simply does not support such a conclusion.
The two largest and most Hellenized cities in Galilee were Sepphoris
and Tiberias. The former is about a two-hour walk from Nazareth,
Jesus’ hometown. Curiously enough, there is no record that Jesus
visited either of these cities during his ministry. Moreover, no evi-
dence has yet been adduced, either archaeological or literary, to
show that Cynics lived in these cities or anywhere else in Galilee in
the early first century.
31
The “Cynic analogy” does not reposition
28
See R. B. Hays, “The Corrected Jesus,” First Things 43 (May, 1994) 43–48;
D. E. Timmer, Perspectives 9 (1994) 18–20; C. J. Schlueter, Consensus 21 (1995)
141–43; J. Schlosser, BZ 39 (1995) 269–71; M. L. Soards, TToday 52 (1995) 270–72;
C. M. Tuckett, JTS 46 (1995) 250–53; Evans, Jesus and His Contemporaries, 1–49.
For criticism of Crossan’s The Historical Jesus, see N. T. Wright, “Taking the Text
with Her Pleasure,” Th 96 (1993) 303–10.
29
See B. Chilton, A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible: Jesus’ Use of the Interpreted Scripture
of His Time (GNS 8; Wilmington: Glazier, 1984); idem and C. A. Evans, “Jesus and
Israel’s Scriptures,” in Chilton and Evans (eds.), Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations
of the State of Current Research (NTTS 19; Leiden: Brill, 1994) 281–335; Evans, “‘Do
This and You Will Live’: Targumic Coherence in Luke 10:25–28,” in Chilton and
Evans, Jesus in Context: Temple, Purity, and Restoration (AGJU 39; Leiden: Brill, 1997)
277–93.
30
From the Hasmonean period we have the incident involving Alexander Jannaeus.
In the Herodian period we have the teachers who persuaded the young men to
destroy the golden eagle in the precincts ( Josephus, J.W. 1.33.2–4 §648–655; Ant.
17.6.2–4 §149–167) and the response to the teaching of Hillel regarding ownership
of animals dedicated for sacrifice (t. Hag. 2.11; y. Hag. 2.3; y. Besa 2.4; b. Besa 20a–b).
In the years leading up to the great war we have the demonstration of Simeon
ben Gamaliel who protested price gouging in the Temple (m. Ker. 1:7) and Jesus
ben Ananias who prophesied the doom of Jerusalem and the Temple ( J.W. 6.5.3
§300–309).
31
Ongoing archaeological work at Sepphoris suggests that prior to 70 CE the
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 23
the historical Jesus away from a Jewish milieu, for the analogy remains
unproven and highly improbable.
Mack, moreover, says that “Jesus’ use of parables, aphorisms, and
clever rejoinders is very similar to the Cynics’ way with words.” This
is true, but only superficially. What is overlooked is that Jesus’ use
of parables, aphorisms, and clever rejoinders is closer to the rabbis’
way with words. Again, one’s attention should be drawn to the mass
of parallels assembled by Billerbeck and the extensive scholarly lit-
erature that has been produced in recent years by scholars who study
Jesus in the light of the Dead Sea Scrolls and early Judaica.
Mack further claims that “Many of ( Jesus’) themes are familiar
Cynic themes.” Again, this is true only in a very general sense. Jesus’
themes are in fact familiar rabbinic themes. For example, approxi-
mately one half of the 325 or so Tannaitic parables feature God as
a king; similarly, approximately one half of Jesus’ parables concern
the kingdom of God. The thematic and structural parallels between
the parables of Jesus and the parables of the rabbis are extensive,
so much so that one recent interpreter of the parables correctly sug-
gests that Jesus and the rabbis drew upon a common thesaurus of
vocabulary and imagery.
32
In sum, Downing’s parallels are for the most part quite general;
the best parallels he adduces frequently are with Josephus, Philo,
other early Jewish literature, and rabbinic literature. David Aune
comments that while “isolated parallels are interesting from a phe-
nomenological perspective, only parallel structures of thought and behavior
can be considered to have a possible historical or genetic relationship. Masses
of isolated parallels prove little . . .” (his emphasis).
33
Aune’s point is
well taken. When the fuller context and structure of Jesus’ thought
and behavior are taken into account, we are impressed with his rela-
city was largely Jewish. Ritual immersion pools and stone water pots, as well as
absence of pork bones among the faunal remains and absence of certain buildings
typical of Greco-Roman cities, make us think that not only was Sepphoris a very
Jewish city, but that the Gentile presence was negligible. For more on this point,
see M. Chancey and E. M. Meyers, “How Jewish Was Sepphoris in Jesus’ Time?”
BARev 26.4 (2000) 18–33, 61.
32
B. B. Scott, Hear Then the Parable: A Commentary on the Parables of Jesus (Minneapolis:
Fortress, 1989) 18.
33
D. E. Aune, “Jesus and Cynics in First-Century Palestine: Some Critical Consid-
erations,” in J. H. Charlesworth and L. L. Johns (eds.), Hillel and Jesus: Comparisons
of Two Major Religious Leaders (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997) 176–92, here 185.
24 cn.io .. r\.xs
tionship to Judaism of late antiquity and with issues of concern to
many of his fellow Jews.
Crossan’s and Mack’s comparisons with Cynics are useful in that
they aid us in understanding better the social context in which Jesus
would have been viewed by his contemporaries. Certain aspects of
Jesus’ ministry likely would have appeared “cynical,” at least super-
ficially, to the Jewish aristocracy and religious establishment of his
day. But the evidence falls far short of leading to the conclusion that
Jesus actually thought of himself as a Cynic.
The major problem with Crossan’s and Mack’s proposal is that
we are not too sure what really was the true Cynic. Most of our
primary material has been handed down by Stoics, whose idealized
portraits scarcely provide the realism necessary for worthwhile com-
parisons (see, for example, Epictetus, Discourses 3.22). Cynicism evolved
over several centuries and was about four centuries old in the time
of Jesus. There is no body of doctrine or coherent first-hand descrip-
tion (as in Epicureanism or Stoicism). Nevertheless, Crossan, Mack,
and others think they can reconstruct Cynicism by drawing from
sources that span about six centuries. Picking and choosing, primarily
from Downing’s Christ and the Cynics, a Strack-Billerbeck-like compi-
lation of “parallels,” Crossan and company find several points of
contact that lead them to conclude that Jesus was a Jewish Cynic.
While it is true that both Cynics and Jesus were in some sense
counter-cultural, Jesus’ opposition to the establishment of his day, so
far as we know, was quite distinctive from the opposition expressed
by Cynics. In fact, it is probably not correct with regard to Cynics
to speak of “opposition.” Cynics did not oppose their respective cul-
tures and establishments, as much as they despised them. There was
no interest in reforming or restoring society, as probably there was
in the case of Jesus. Cynics poured contempt on society and what
they regarded as its vanity and futility. They were the vandals and
anarchists of late antiquity. They ridiculed what society regarded
sacred. Closer and broader inspection of Cynicism reveals that there
is in fact a wide gap between Cynics and Jesus.
At this point I would like to summarize four of the major prob-
lems with the Cynic hypothesis:
1. Mack, Crossan, and others assume that Cynics lived in most
major cities in the time of Jesus. Archaeological and literary evi-
dence suggests that Cynicism was in decline in the early first cen-
tury. Such an assumption therefore wholly lacks warrant.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 25
2. Mack and company assume that Cynics were present in Sepphoris,
a city near Nazareth, in which Jesus and members of his family
probably worked. However, there is no archaeological or literary evi-
dence of the presence of any Cynics in first-century Galilee.
34
In
contrast, there is both literary and archaeological evidence of the
presence in this city of synagogues, rabbis, and Torah-observant Jews.
3. Mack and especially Crossan assume that Jesus would have
come under the influence of a Cynic or Cynics encountered in
Sepphoris. But Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God, his debates
with religious teachers regarding the meaning and application of
Scripture, his frequently being called “rabbi,” the dictional and the-
matic coherence of his teaching with the Aramaic paraphrases of
Scripture emerging in the Synagogue, his pilgrimage to Jerusalem
for the Passover, and his teaching in the Temple all militate against
this view. Jesus is best understood as a religious Jew engaged in
debating topics of great interest to many Jews, who lived in Judea
as well as in Galilee.
4. Jesus’ instructions to his disciples actually stand in tension with
the features by which Cynics are best known (the staff, the beggar’s
pouch, and the worn coat). The restorative nature of his message
(“The kingdom of God is present”) and his healing, exorcistic, and
socializing ministry stand sharply in tension with the Cynic fatalism
and proclivity for estrangement from society. Moreover, there is no
record that during his ministry Jesus ever visited Sepphoris or Tiberias,
the two largest urban centers in Galilee. If Jesus were truly a Cynic,
influenced by Cynics in Sepphoris, how do we account for this
omission?
35
No, the Cynic model clarifies nothing, but it obfuscates much.
34
On this general point, see R. A. Horsley, Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee:
The Social Context of Jesus and the Rabbis (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International,
1996). Again, see the popular summary by Chancey and Meyers, “How Jewish Was
Sepphoris in Jesus’ Time?”
35
For recent, devastating critiques of the Cynic hypothesis, see Aune, “Jesus and
Cynics in First-Century Palestine,” 176–92; H. D. Betz, “Jesus and the Cynics:
Survey and Analysis of a Hypothesis,” JR 74 (1994) 453–75; C. M. Tuckett, “A
Cynic Q?,” Bib 70 (1989) 349–76; idem, Q and the History of Early Christianity: Studies
on Q (Edinbugh: T. & T. Clark, 1996) 368–91; B. Witherington, Jesus the Sage: The
Pilgrimage of Wisdom (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994) 123–43. Witherington finds the
teaching of Jesus right at home with the Jewish wisdom tradition of late antiquity,
especially as exemplified in the wisdom of Yeshua ben Sira. His findings are gen-
erally consistent with the picture of Jesus argued in the present volume.
26 cn.io .. r\.xs
Jesus emphasized Torah, indeed grounded his theology and lifestyle
in it. He thought and taught in a framework of purity and Jewish
piety (including folk wisdom) and looked for the restoration of Israel.
This expectation was worked out in his proclamation of the king-
dom of God and the works of power by which Jesus and his sup-
porters perceived tangible evidence of the presence of the kingdom.
At numerous points Jesus’ teachings, practices, and observances closely
parallel those of the religious teachers of his day.
36
Chilton has summarized well the general evidence that recom-
mends comparison of Jesus with the rabbis of his period:
Much of what Jesus is remembered to have done and said comports
well with rabbinic activity: the concern for purity and ablutions (a con-
cern that included the practice of baptism), the programmatic empha-
sis on teaching and healing, the development of characteristic themes
in his teaching (such as “the kingdom of God”), the gathering of dis-
ciples for whom that teaching was presented in a repeatable form or
mishnah (a noun that derives from the verb shanah, “to repeat”). Most
of the passages that present Jesus in dispute with the Pharisaic, scribal,
and priestly contemporaries are also in line with some of the vigorous
arguments one encounters in Rabbinic literature. In all of those aspects,
Jesus’ activity seems broadly similar to what might have been expected
of a rabbi.
37
This is not to say that Jesus was a rabbi and nothing else. But before
one can begin to assess his teaching, his aims, and his self-under-
standing, one must place him in context.
Jesus in His Judaic Context
The placement of Jesus in his proper Judaic context entails the study
of parallels just as surely as the misplacement of Jesus into a Cynic
context involves comparisons with parallels. Obviously parallels can
be slippery things; like statistics they can be made to prove many
things.
38
Let me illustrate this point. Jesus’ so-called “Golden Rule,”
36
For a succinct summary of the several and important parallels, see A. Finkel,
The Pharisees and the Teacher of Nazareth (AGSJU 4; Leiden: Brill, 1964) esp. 129–75.
37
B. Chilton, Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God (London: SPCK; Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans) 106–7.
38
See the useful caveats offered by S. Sandmel, “Parallelomania,” JBL 81 (1962)
2–13.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 27
which runs: “Do to others as you would have them do to you; for
this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12), is often compared to
a similar saying attributed to Hillel: “Do not do to your neighbor
what is hateful to you; that is the whole Torah, while the rest is its
commentary. Go learn” (b. Shab. 31a).
39
Does such a parallel offer
compelling evidence that places Jesus in a Judaic, perhaps even rab-
binic context?
Jesus’ positive form of the Golden Rule is not original, though
some Christian commentators sometimes give that impression. An
earlier form is attested in the advice of Yeshua ben Sira: “Judge
your neighbor’s feelings by your own, and in every matter be thought-
ful” (Sir 31:15). Commentators have sometimes remarked that Jesus’
positive form of the Golden Rule, if not original, points to a higher
ethic, in that it “required an absolute demonstration of love.”
40
In
contrast, the negative form of the Golden Rule, it is alleged, reflects
a less generous spirit. The negative form is amply attested in mate-
rials dating from the time of Jesus and after:
And what you hate, do not do to anyone (Tob 4:15).
As you wish that no evil should befall you, but to be a partaker of
all good things, so you should act on the same principle towards your
subjects and offenders (Ep. Arist. 207).
Let no man himself do what he hates to have done to him (Philo,
Hypothetica, apud Eusebius, Praep. Ev. 8.7.6).
None should do to his neighbor what he does not like for himself
(Hebrew version of T. Naph. 1:6).
You shall love your neighbor, so that what is hateful to you, you shall not
do (Tg. Ps.-J. Lev 19:18, italicized portion indicates where the Aramaic
departs from the Hebrew).
May we infer from these examples that Jesus’ positive form of the
rule represented a higher ethic? No, we probably should not. The
negative form was also known to Christians, as seen in Did. 1:2
(“And everything that you desire not to be done to you, do not
39
Another saying attributed to Hillel could be pertinent: “Be of the disciples of
Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving humanity and bringing them to
the Law” ("Abot 1:12).
40
As aptly put by D. C. Allison and W. D. Davies, A Critical and Exegetical
Commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew, vol. 1 (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark,
1988) 687.
28 cn.io .. r\.xs
yourself do to others”) and Thomas §6 (“And what you hate, do not
do to anyone” = POxy 654.5).
41
There is no evidence that the patris-
tic writers, who were familiar with both forms of the rule, thought
that the positive form was superior to the negative. Moreover, the
positive form of the rule is attested in Jewish sources: partially in
the Epistle of Aristeas, cited above, and fully in the later 2 Enoch: “And
now, my children, keep your hearts from every injustice which the
Lord hates. Just as a man asks for his own soul from God, so let
him do to every living soul” (61:1–2).
Do the many parallels with Jewish sources compel us to place
Jesus in a Jewish context? No, not really. One thinks of the saying
attributed to Seneca: “Take care not to harm others, so others will
not harm you” (Moral Epistles 103.3–4). Rough correspondence with
Seneca’s saying does not, however, imply that Jesus’ form of the rule
is Stoic or Cynic. Indeed, Hillel’s negative form of the golden rule
stands closer to Seneca’s negative form. The positive form of the
rule is also attested in other non-Jewish writers, such as Sextus: “As
you wish your neighbors to treat you, so treat them” (Sentences 89),
Dio Cassius (51.34.39), and Isocrates (Ad Nicocleam 49).
The link between the Golden Rule and the command to love one
another in the Aramaic version of Lev 19:18 is intriguing, given the
fact that Jesus cites this passage as the second of the two great com-
mandments (Mark 12:28–31). But even here we do not have tradi-
tion that is distinctive of Jesus, for the double commandment tradition
is attested in Jewish sources (see discussion below). What we prob-
ably have here is further indication that Jesus’ ethic was fully in step
with views widely held by his Jewish contemporaries.
In sum, Jesus’ positive form of the Golden Rule is somewhat dis-
tinctive, in that the negative form appears to have been more com-
mon. This fact may enhance its claim to authenticity (in that one
might expect a non-dominical topos that entered the dominical stream
to conform to the common format),
42
but it does not place Jesus into
41
For discussion of the negative form of the rule in Thomas, see B. Chilton, “‘Do
not do what you hate’: Where there is not gold, there might be brass. The case
of the Thomaean Golden Rule,” in Chilton, Judaic Approaches to the Gospels (USF
International Studies in Formative Christianity and Judaism 2; Atlanta: Scholars
Press, 1994) 123–49.
42
Chilton ( Judaic Approaches to the Gospels, 142) plausibly concludes that “Jesus
taught the Rule, which was generally acknowledged within his culture, in its posi-
tive form.” But he goes on to suggest that it was originally uttered in contexts
different from those supplied in Matthew/Luke and in Thomas.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 29
a Judaic context more firmly. The parallel is interesting, to be sure,
but it is not determinative. We learn little of Jesus’ program, and
nothing that would mark him off from his Jewish contemporaries or
from his non-Jewish contemporaries for that matter.
43
There are other parallels and common points of interest that tell
us much more significant things about Jesus. But again, because
Christians have tended to emphasize christology and exaggerate
uniqueness, which is thought to be a requirement for christology,
important points of overlap with expressions of Judaism in Jesus’
time are overlooked or treated only in passing.
The remainder of this paper treats three examples of Jesus’ inter-
action with Jewish law. One should think that Jesus’ respect for
Torah is plainly evident in the Gospels. But once again, motivated
by a desire to elevate Jesus above Judaism Christian interpreters have
through the centuries made some odd assertions about Jesus’ oppo-
sition to or transcendance of the Law. Critical study of the domini-
cal tradition reveals no such tendency. Jesus’ quotation of the Shema'
(Deut 6:4–5) and the injunction to love one’s neighbor as one’s self
(Lev 19:18) as the “greatest commandment” (cf. Mark 10:28–34)
attests Jesus’ loyalty to the Torah and his presupposition that it is
normative. Perhaps even more revealing is his reply to the Scripture
scholar who asked what he must do “to inherit eternal life” (Luke
10:25). This passage and the other passages that will be examined
provide weighty evidence that Jesus fully respected Torah, even if
he sometimes differed from some of his contemporaries in its inter-
pretation. To dispute the meaning of the Scripture, of course, is a
very Jewish and very rabbinic thing to do.
Space permits discussion of only three examples. All three illustrate
well Jesus’ adherence to cardinal principles of Jewish faith in late
antiquity. At a few points we may catch glimpses of distinctive fea-
tures, perhaps even a measure of originality. But our approach to
the study of Jesus is not driven by a quest for uniqueness or originality.
(1) The Sabbath. One facet of Jesus’ teaching and ministry that pro-
voked controversy concerned his understanding of the sabbath. The
facts that this controversy is early and widespread in the tradition
(Mark 3:1–6; Luke 14:1–6; John 5:9–17; 7:22–24; 9:14–16) and
43
These findings are consistent with those articulated by Chilton.
30 cn.io .. r\.xs
would have have proven awkward for the early church which was
predominantly Jewish recommend its authenticity.
44
The story related
in Mark 2:23–28 is particularly striking. Pharisees demand to know
of Jesus why his disciples pluck grain on the sabbath, a practice that
is forbidden by law. The plucking of grain from fields not one’s own
was permitted (cf. Deut 23:25), but work on the sabbath was not
(cf. Exod 20:10; Deut 5:14; cf. m. Shab. 7:2). Jesus replies by way of
appeal to the action of David and his men, who in their hour of
need ate the bread of the Presence, which was only to be eaten by
the High Priest and his associates (1 Sam 21:1–6; cf. Lev 24:5–9).
The actions of Jesus and his disciples, on the one hand, and of David
and his companions, on the other, are roughly parallel, but whether
or not Jesus’ line of argument is truly compelling is much debated.
45
The interesting point is the principle that Jesus enunciates:
TÚ sãbbaton diå tÚn ênyrvpon §g°neto ka‹ oÈx ı êny rvpow diå tÚ sãbbaton.
The sabbath was made for humanity, not humanity for the sabbath
(v. 27).
46
44
There are many who defend the authenticity of Mark 2:23–27; cf. F. Neirynck,
“Jesus and the Sabbath: Some Observations on Mark II, 27,” in Neirynck, Evangelica:
Gospel Studis—Études d’évangile (BETL 60; Leuven: Peeters and Leuven University
Press, 1982) 637–80; R. Pesch, Das Markusevangelium. 1. Teil (HTKNT 2.1; Freiburg:
Herder, 1977) 183. Pesch avers that rather than a fictive “ideal scene” reflecting
the behvaior of the early church, the story is based “on concrete tradition from
the life of Jesus.” Not all of the reasoning in support of the authenticity of the story
is valid (especially that emanating from Bultmann and his pupils), a point that
Neirynck considers.
45
For example, see D. M. Cohn-Sherbok, “An Analysis of Jesus’ Arguments
Concerning the Plucking of Grain on the Sabbath,” JSNT 2 (1979) 31–41; repr.
in C. A. Evans and S. E. Porter (eds.), The Historical Jesus: A Sheffield Reader (BibSem
33; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995) 131–39. Cohn-Sherbok concludes that
Jesus’ arguments were “invalid from a rabbinic point of view” (p. 133) and “falla-
cious because the comparison he drew was inappropriate” (p. 138). His conclusion
is vitiated to some extent, however, in that it assumes that later rabbinic methods
and rules of exegesis probably were in practice in the early first century. Saving
life on the sabbath was not controversial (b. Yoma 85a; cf. b. Menah. 95a: “even that
which has been sanctified this day in the vessel you may give him to eat for he is
in danger of his life”), but performing work on the sabbath where life was not in
danger was regarded as unlawful.
46
The concluding statement, “so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath”
(v. 28), is an editorial comment added by the evangelist in an attempt to steer the
story in a christological direction. For another editorial comment of this nature, see
Mark 7:19.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 31
A few Jewish scholars have been impressed with this statement, espe-
cially the late Rabbi Philip Sigal.
47
Sigal draws our attention to the
parallel in the Mekilta:
“And you shall keep the sabbath, for it is holy to you” [Exod 31:14]:
This means: to you the sabbath is given over [hrwsm]; you are not given
over [ˆyrwsm] to the sabbath (Mek. on Exod 31:12–17 [Shabbat §1]).
Mekilta credits the saying to Rabbi Sime'on ben Menasia" (usually
dated to the late second century CE). In b. Yoma 85b there is dis-
cussion concerning the requirement to circumcise on the eighth day,
even if that day fall on the sabbath. From this it is inferred that if
the sabbath law can be suspended on account of one member of
the body, then surely the sabbath law can be suspended to save a
life. Rabbi Sime'on ben Menasia" is then cited as having quoted
Exod 31:14 in this connection, but in Yoma Rabbi Sime'on ben
Menasia"s saying is attributed to Rabbi Jonathan ben Joseph: “It is
given over to your hands; you are not given over to its hands.” Sigal
thinks the tradition originated in Jesus, but was passed on anony-
mously and eventually was attributed to Sime'on ben Menasia" (and
later still to Rabbi Jonathan ben Joseph). Perhaps; but the tradition,
if not the saying itself, probably pre-dates Jesus, possibly deriving
from Mattathias’ decision to defend oneself on the sabbath (cf.
1 Macc 2:39).
48
Does Jesus’ saying imply that he has less respect for the sabbath
than his rival religious teachers have? Downing cites a saying from
Pseudo-Crates: “Humans were not created for the sake of horses,
but horses for humans” (Ps.-Crates 24), to show that Jesus’ view par-
allels Cynic ideas.
49
Does the saying of Jesus constitute an example
47
I. Abrahams, “Rabbinic Aids to Exegesis,” in H. B. Swete (ed.), Essays on Some
Biblical Questions of the Day: By Members of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1909) 159–92, here 186; P. Sigal, The Halakah of Jesus
of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Matthew (Lanham and New York: University Press
of America, 1986). Sigal’s work is hampered somewhat by his assumption of Matthean
priority.
48
Abrahams, “Rabbinic Aids to Exegesis,” 186–87. See also G. Vermes, The
Religion of Jesus the Jew (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993) 22–24.
49
Downing, Christ and the Cynics, 125. As a possible parallel to the reference to
David’s eating the bread of the Presence, Downing cites Lives of Eminent Philosophers
6.73: “Diogenes saw nothing wrong in taking anything from a temple, or in eat-
ing the flesh of any living thing.” This parallels Jesus’ point in a general sense. But
the same would have been said of Paul, who thought it acceptable to eat meat
32 cn.io .. r\.xs
of Cynicism, a spurning of the value of the sabbath, reflecting a
Hellenistic, non-Jewish perspective? Or is it an opinion that directly
reflects Jewish halakic discussion of a topic that goes straight to the
heart of Jewish custom and piety? In my view, Jesus’ teaching in no
wise was meant to undermine the sanctity of the sabbath.
Moreover, the appeal to Scripture (i.e., “Have you never read
what David did?”) can hardly be cited as evidence that Jesus held
to a low view of the Law. Far from it; the appeal to one passage
of Scripture to shed light on teaching elsewhere in Scripture is part
and parcel of Jewish interpretation. What we have here is an instance
of the halakah of Jesus, which for his followers was persuasive, though
probably not for others. In my opinion, Jesus’ exegetical riposte is
right at home in the exegetical debates exemplified in rabbinic lit-
erature, Cohn-Sherbok’s views notwithstanding.
(2) The Altar. Placed in the context of the Sermon on the Mount
is Jesus’ recommendation, if you remember “that your brother has
something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go, be reconciled
to your brother” (Matt 5:23–24). The saying presupposes that the
Temple in Jerusalem still stands,
50
while the evident allegiance to
the Temple makes it difficult to believe that this saying arose in the
Church in a post-Easter setting (though some commentators so argue).
In all probability the saying goes back to Jesus.
This saying, like others in the dominical tradition, subordinates
cultic ritual to personal integrity. There is nothing new here; the
prophets took this view ( Jer 7:21–26; Hos 6:6; Amos 5:21–24; Mic
6:6–8), so did the sage Yeshua ben Sira (Sir 7:8–9; 34:18–19), as
well as later rabbinic authorities (m. Pesah. 3:7; and texts cited in
Billerbeck, 1.287–88). Indeed, Philo also says as much: “For, if the
worshipper is without kindly feeling or justice, the sacrifices are no
sacrifices, the consecrated oblation is desecrated . . . But, if he is
pure of heart and just, the sacrifice stands firm . . .” (De Vita Mosis
sacrificed to idols, as long as it was done with a clear conscience (1 Corinthians 8,
10). Does this make Paul a Cynic?
50
According to C. G. Montefiore, The Synoptic Gospels (2 vols., London: Macmillan,
1927) 2.61: “The verses in any case imply that the Jewish state and Temple are
still in working order. The teaching is again perfectly Rabbinic and usual.” So also
R. Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition (Oxford: Blackwell, 1968) 132;
U. Luz, Matthew 1–7 (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989) 281. Although Matt 5:23–24
probably does derive from Jesus, it owes its current context to the Matthean evangelist.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 33
2.107–108).
51
Thus both the antiquity and currency of this sentiment
are attested.
Jesus’ teaching in Matt 5:23–24 is consistent with the teaching of
the sages. According to Yeshua ben Sira: “When one prays and
another curses, to whose voice will the Lord listen?” (Sir 34:24; the
context has to do with offering sacrifice; cf. 34:18–22; 35:1–20); and:
“Do not offer (God) a bribe, for he will not accept it; and do not
trust to an unrighteous sacrifice; for the Lord is the judge, and with
him is no partiality” (Sir 35:12). According to Rabbi Eleazar ben
Azariah: “For transgressions that are between man and God the Day
of Atonement effects atonement, but for transgressions that are
between a man his fellow the Day of Atonement effects atonement
only if he has appeased his fellow” (m. Yoma 8:9).
Jesus’ teaching in Matt 5:23–24 also coheres with the command-
ments found in Lev 5:20–26 (Engl. 6:1–6), which have to do with
making restitution. The Law requires that what has been wrongfully
taken be returned and that a guilt offering be taken to the priest.
Rabbinic teaching underscores the necessity for restitution to take
place fully and prior to offering the guilt offering: “the guilt offering
comes after the money [is restored] . . . [If ] he brought his guilt
offering but did not restore the thing which he had stolen, one should
not stir the blood [of the offering] until he restores the thing that
he had stolen” (t. B. Qam. 10.18; cf. Sipra Lev. §68 [on Lev 5:25]; b.
B. Qam. 110a). Abrahams comments: “Matthew is specifically refer-
ring to one who has to bring a sin-offering, and in the act of so
doing remembers that he has not yet made amends for a wrong
committed by him against another man, presumably for the very
wrong which has been the reason for bringing the offering at all.”
52
The parallel between Matt 5:23–24 and the halakah in the Tosefta,
avers Abrahams, “is exact.”
53
Jesus’ concern that one’s offering be presented to the Temple in
a state of ethical purity is consistent with his action in the Temple
51
See E. P. Sanders, Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah: Five Studies (London:
SCM; Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990) 42–43; idem, Judaism: Practice
and Belief 63 BCE–66 CE (London: SCM; Philadelphia: Trinity Press International,
1992) 192–93.
52
Abrahams, “Rabbinic Aids to Exegesis,” 189.
53
Luz (Matthew 1–7, 289) does not think so. Luz finds the closest parallel in
Sirach and m. Yoma 8:9, not in the texts that speak of the interruption of guilt
offerings. Sanders ( Judaism, 192), however, relates Matt 5:23–24 to these texts.
34 cn.io .. r\.xs
precincts (Mark 11:15–18 and parallels). Recent study has suggested
that this action was in reaction to the manner in which sacrificial
animals were purchased and presented to the priests for sacrifice, a
manner with which Jesus sharply disagreed. Far from suggesting that
Jesus opposed the Temple or opposed sacrifice, his action suggests
rather that he supported the cultus and was very much concerned
with the pragmata of sacrifice. On the basis of similar demonstra-
tions in the Temple precincts by religious teachers (especially the
one involving a dispute between Hillelite and Shammaite halakah)
we may infer that Jesus taught that those who purchase animals for
sacrifice take ownership of them before surrendering them to the
priests.
54
(3) Eternal Life. According to Luke 10:25–28 an expert in the Law
asks Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds
with questions of his own: What is written in the Law; and how
does he read it? The Scripture scholar responds by reciting the dou-
ble commandment, a commandment which Jesus also is said to have
recited (Mark 12:29–31): “You shall love the Lord your God with
all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength,
and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus com-
mends the man for his answer: “You have answered right; do this,
and you will live.” The Scripture scholar’s question constitutes the
classic Jewish religious question (see also Mark 10:17). His answer,
prompted by Jesus’ question, reflects a summary of the Law that is
attested in various forms in many sources (cf. T. Iss. 5:2; 7:6; T. Dan
5:3; Ep. Arist. 229; Philo, Virt. 51, 95; Spec. Leg. 2.63; Abr. 208).
55
Jesus’ positive response, in which he alludes to Lev 18:5, could not
possibly be more thoroughly Jewish and more thoroughly unCynic.
Had this exchange been produced by a Christian community,
surely the right answer would have been different. After all, Christians
proclaimed that salvation came through faith in the risen Jesus (e.g.,
Acts 2:38; 4:12; Rom 10:9), not through obedience to the Jewish
54
For a full discussion of this important aspect of Jesus’ teaching, see Chilton,
The Temple of Jesus, 91–111; idem, Pure Kingdom, 115–23.
55
See D. C. Allison, “Mark 12.28–31 and the Decalogue,” in C. A. Evans and
W. R. Stegner (eds.), The Gospels and the Scriptures of Israel ( JSNTSup 104; SSEJC 3;
Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994) 270–78. See also J. B. Stern, “Jesus’
Citation of Dt 6,5 and Lv 19,18 in the Light of Jewish Tradition,” CBQ 28 (1966)
312–16.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 35
Law. Luke 10:25–28 must therefore derive from the life and min-
istry of Jesus, not from the Christian community.
56
What is especially interesting is to notice how closely Jesus’ response
coheres exegetically and thematically with Jewish interpretive tendencies.
As has already been mentioned, his response, “do this, and you will
live,” alludes to Lev 18:5: “You shall therefore keep my statutes and
my ordinances, by doing which a person shall live.” The general
context of this passage makes it clear that the life “which a person
shall live” is life in the promised land (i.e., Israel), not eternal life
in the world to come. Recall that the Scripture scholar had asked
Jesus what he must do “inherit eternal life,” not life in the land of
Israel, which he already enjoyed.
How is it that Jesus thinks an allusion to Lev 18:5 provides a suit-
able assurance to a man who has asked about eternal life, not life
in this world? The Aramaic paraphrase of this text in all probabil-
ity provides an answer. According to Tg. Onq. Lev 18:5: “You should
observe My ordinances and My laws, which, if a person practices
them, he shall live by them in eternal life.” Targum Pseudo-Jonathan
renders the text a bit more elaborately: “You should observe My
ordinances and My orders (of festivals), which, if a person practices
them, he shall live by them in eternal life and shall be assigned a
portion with the righteous.”
57
The antiquity of this interpretive
paraphrase, whereby the text is made to speak of eternal life as well
56
But this does not exclude the possibility that the tradition has been edited and
linked to the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29–37). Fitzmyer (The Gospel
according to Luke X–XXIV [AB 28A; Garden City: Doubleday, 1985] 877–78) ascribes
Luke 10:25–28 to L, though the evangelist may have been influenced by Mark 12.
Traces of Lukan redaction have been detected at points of introduction, transition,
and conclusion in the complex that makes up Luke 10:25–37. See J. Jeremias, Die
Sprache des Lukasevangeliums: Redaktion und Tradition im Nicht-Markusstoff des dritten Evangeliums
(KEKNT Sonderband; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1980) 190–93.
57
This exegesis is explicit in Sipra Lev. §193 (on Lev 18:1–30): “‘You shall keep
my statutes and my ordinances, which a human will do and he shall live in them.’
This formulation of the matter serves to make keeping and doing into statutes, and
keeping and doing into ordinances. ‘. . . shall live’—in the world to come. And
should you wish to claim that the reference is to this world, is not the fact that in
the end one dies? Lo, how am I to explain, ‘. . . shall live’? It is with reference to
the world to come. ‘I the Lord’: faithful to pay a reward.” The key phrase, “he
shall live by them in eternal life,” occurs three times in the Ezekiel Targum (at
20:11, 13, 21), while the transformation of prophetic promises of well being and
restoration in this life is also attested in the Isaiah Targum (at 4:3; 58:11).
36 cn.io .. r\.xs
as life in the present world, is attested at Qumran.
58
The Aramaic
paraphrase makes it clear that the phrase, “which a person should
do and so have life in them,” at Qumran does indeed allude to
Lev 18:5.
These three examples are representative only. Many others could
be discussed. But the three considered above should be sufficient to
demonstrate that Jesus’ teaching arose from and spoke to the Jewish
faith of his day.
59
The first dealt not simply with what was lawful
on the sabbath, but with the more fundamental question of the sab-
bath’s purpose. With respect to the second example, Jesus’ insistence
that the ethical requirements of restitution be attended to before
one’s offering is completed presupposes the importance of the Temple
and sacrificial system. Indeed, Jesus’ halakah is surely designed to
ensure their efficacy. In the third example we find Jesus recommending
observance of the Law, especially as it is summed up in the great
double-commandment to love God with one’s entirety and to love
one’s neighbor as one’s self, in order to be assured of eternal life.
Concluding Thoughts
Mack’s A Myth of Innocence ends on a note of personal tragedy and
tortured logic. The lapsed Nazarene evangelist has given up his
Christian faith and no longer holds out hope for any messiah, Christian
or otherwise: “Neither Mark’s fiction of the first appearance of the
man of power, nor his fantasy of the final appearance of the man
of glory, fit the wisdom now required. The church canonized a
remarkably pitiful moment of early Christian condemnation of the
world. Thus the world now stands condemned. It is enough. A future
58
According to CD 3:12–16, 20: “But when those of them who were left held
firm to the commandments of God he established His covenant with Israel for ever,
revealing to them hidden things, in which all Israel had erred: His holy Sabbaths,
His glorious festivals, His righteous laws, His reliable ways. The desires of His will,
‘which a person should do and so have life in them.’ . . . those who hold firm to
it shall receive everlasting life and all the glory of Adam will be theirs.”
59
When I say the “Jewish faith” I do not intend to imply that Judaism was
monolithic. The Jewish faith was expressed in thought and practice in a variety of
ways. Although I do not think it necessary to speak of “Judaisms” or “Christianities,”
it is important to recognize the diversity and pluralism of Jewish and Christian faith
in late antiquity.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 37
for the world can hardly be imagined any longer, if its redemption
rests in the hands of Mark’s innocent son of God.”
60
Mack’s interpretation of Mark is strange indeed. Permit me to
offer one in its place, very briefly. We have heard enough from the
evangelist Mack. Let’s hear from the evangelist Mark. In the face
of a hostile world—drifting from his Jewish roots and threatened by
an increasingly intolerant and hostile Roman Empire—the Markan
evangelist boldly declares that the true “son of God” is not Caesar;
it is Jesus Christ. The good news for the world did not commence
with the arrival of Caesar and his dubious heirs (herein lies the real
myth); it commenced with the arrival of the Christ. The evangelist
makes his view quite clear in the opening words: “The beginning of
the good news of Jesus Christ, the son of God” (Mark 1:1). These
words constitute an unmistakable allusion to the Emperor Cult, espe-
cially as it came to expression during the lengthy and celebrated
reign of Augustus (30 BCE–14 CE). According to the inscription
from Priene (9 BCE), parts of which read: “Providence . . . has given
us Augustus . . . that he might benefit humanity, having been sent
as savior . . . and by his appearance (excelled all our expectations) . . .
the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good
news for the world” (OGIS 458, lines 32–41). We hear this idea
expressed in a papyrus in reference to Nero (reigned 54–68 CE):
“The good god of the inhabited world, the beginning of all good
things” (POxy 1021).
Despite such an auspicious introduction, Mark’s story of Jesus ends
on a Roman cross, amidst the mockery of ruling priests, passersby,
and even the two rebels crucified with him. But impressed with the
manner in which Jesus died and the preternatural signs that accom-
panied his death, the Roman centurion overseeing the execution
makes a declaration that should be reserved for the emperor alone:
“Surely this man was the son of God!” (Mark 15:39).
The evangelist Mark puts the story in its best light, to be sure,
but not in a mean-spirited manner in which he attempts to impli-
cate the innocent and exculpate the guilty. Mark’s Jesus is Jewish,
perhaps not as obviously as in the Matthean portrait (whose hostil-
ity toward Jewish teachers and rival sects is much more pronounced),
but Jewish nonetheless. Apart from the Jewish context, the Palestinian
60
Mack, A Myth of Innocence, 376.
38 cn.io .. r\.xs
context, and the Scriptures of Israel and their interpretive legacy the
story of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark could hardly be properly and
adequately understood. Indeed, the story as we find it could not
have been written. Mark’s Jesus remains a Jewish Jesus, Burton Mack
and the Jesus Seminar notwithstanding. The Jesus of Mark and the
other Gospels must be interpreted in his Judaic context if he is to
be fairly and sensibly understood.
+nr visrr.crr ¡rsts 39
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MAPPING A PLACE FOR JESUS
Bruce Chilton
Craig Evans’s paper boldly locates the context of our conference
within the contemporary discussion of Jesus, especially in North
America. Archaeological work, notably in combination with anthro-
pological analysis, has laid much more emphasis on the distinctive
culture of Jewish Galilee than was the case a decade ago, when a
more homogenized, Hellenistic character was imputed to the entire
region.
1
The critical question, which emerges from the orientation suggested
by Crossan and adopted by Burton Mack, is whether the model of
a Galilean peasant and rabbi may be subsumed with the paradigm
of a “Cynic.” That is a more sophisticated issue than archaeologi-
cal constructions as such are normally expected to resolve. Evans
and I have both been influenced by the sensitive correlation of lit-
erary and archaeological study offered by Seán Freyne,
2
whose
approach, and the direction in which his findings pointed, has since
been confirmed by two, distinct variations on his approach. The
material side of his analysis is pushed forward in a recent collection
of studies.
3
The usage of artifacts to map cultural variegation and
trace the self-conscious identity of Judaism in Galilee is as striking
in this volume as the careful work in the field that went into it. The
more exegetical side of the approach advocated by Freyne (and
1
See Richard A. Horsley, Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee: The Social Context
of Jesus and the Rabbis (Valley Forge, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 1996), which
is also critical of the work of John Dominic Crossan. Yet while Crossan’s social
model of Galilee now indeed seems to need revision, the fact remains that he did
allow for the distinctive identity of Jews there in his The Historical Jesus: The Life of
a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991).
2
Seán Freyne, “The Geography, Politics, and Economics of Galilee and the
Quest for the Historical Jesus,” in B. D. Chilton and C. A. Evans (eds.), Studying
the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (NTTS 19; Leiden: Brill,
1994) 75–121.
3
D. R. Edwards and C. T. McCollough (eds.), Archaeology and the Galilee: Texts
and Contexts in the Graeco-Roman and Byzantine Periods (South Florida Studies in the
History of Judaism 143; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997).
Horsley, in his own way) is developed within the “cognitive archae-
ology” practiced by Marianne Sawicki.
4
Although some of her sug-
gestions are deliberately daring (and her recourse to the Mishnah
perhaps too confident, given the problem of chronology), her coor-
dination of artifactual and exegetical speculation is productive. It is
only to be expected that a combination of sifting data and engag-
ing in speculative inference will further re-mould our picture of
Galilee’s cultures as research is pursued, but it is not too soon to
say that the attempt to characterize the entire region on the basis
of Sepphoris alone is no longer viable, even if it once seemed so.
Although that correction of the entire paradigm of “The Jesus
Seminar” is as crucial as Evans says, the way in which their dis-
cussions opened up the issue of the social construction of Jesus’ envi-
ronment has proven to be seminal.
The reluctance to use the category of “rabbi” in order to assess
Jesus is to some extent understandable. That term can and has been
used anachronistically, to impute the organized Rabbinate of the
Talmud to the first century. In principle, however, that anachronism
should be dealt with just as we cope with such terms as “messiah”
(or “christ”) and “son of God.” It is a commonplace of scholarship
to alert readers to the fact that “messiah” during the first century
did not bear the apologetic associations that developed quickly in
early Christianity, and that “son of God” did not convey the onto-
logical claims of the Council of Nicea. Both of those corrections
involve more global adjustments than calling attention to the well-
documented, historical structures which attended the emergence of
Rabbinic Judaism. Could it be that scholarly aversion to the term
“rabbi” shows that it has become a metonym for Jesus’ Judaism, not
only as a happenstance of birth and nurture, but as his own com-
mitment? The relative neglect of the actual usage of the term in the
Gospels might suggest that is the case.
John the Baptist is explicitly called “rabbi” in John 3:26, and Jesus
is addressed that way more than by any other designation (Matt
26:25, 49; Mark 9:5; 10:51; 11:21; 14:45; John 1:38, 49; 3:2; 4:31;
6:25; 9:2; 11:8). Despite those facts, it is routinely objected by schol-
ars that Jesus “was not a ‘rabbi,’” but “a prophet (eschatological or
4
Marianne Sawicki, Crossing Galilee: Architectures of Contact in the Occupied Land of
Jesus (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 2000).
42 nntcr cnir+ox
otherwise).”
5
The Gospels suggest that, as he became known for his
signs (Matt 16:14; Mark 6:15; Luke 7:16; 9:8, 19; John 4:19; 6:14;
7:40; 9:17) and approached Jerusalem for the last time in his life
(Matt 21:11, 46; Luke 24:19), Jesus was indeed called a prophet, but
not as persistently or routinely as he was called rabbi. In any case,
the one address by no means excludes the other. That the term
“rabbi” was current in Jesus’ time is suggested by Dan 2:48; 4:6;
5:11 and m. "Abot 1:6, 16, as well as from inscriptions.
6
Bernas is
definitely right to raise the issue, but only because being called “rabbi”
did not involve an institutional qualification until a much later period,
well after the destruction of the Temple.
7
When Crossan and oth-
ers compare Jesus to the popular philosophers of the Mediterranean
world, especially the Cynics, their comparison may be helpful in gen-
eral terms, although it seems clear that a Jewish teacher whose wis-
dom was valued would be called “rabbi.”
Purity has emerged in recent scholarship as an issue Jesus engaged
in, rather than a systemic aspect of Judaism that he simply rejected.
In her excellent study, which firmly grounds baptism in the practice
of purity, Joan E. Taylor sets the groundwork for a critical under-
standing of immersion, John the Baptist, and therefore Jesus.
8
Her
work represents an advance of the approach I had pursued more
exegetically and theoretically.
9
Building upon such studies, Jesus’ focus
on purity is a major theme in a recent book by Paula Fredricksen.
10
In an influential study, E. P. Sanders had argued that Jesus dropped
the requirement of repentance from John’s practice altogether.
11
I
5
So Casimir Bernas in TS 46 (1985) 129–30.
6
For those, see J. P. Kane, “Ossuary Inscriptions of Jerusalem,” JSS 23 (1978)
268–82.
7
Indeed, long after the destruction of Jerusalem “rabbi” was still used as a gen-
eral title of honor for an important community figure; cf. M. Schwabe and B. Lifshitz,
Beth She'arim (2 vols., New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1974). Many of
these inscriptions are 3rd/4th century.
8
Joan E. Taylor, The Immerser: John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism (Studying
the Historical Jesus 2; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997).
9
That is, in my The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program Within a Cultural History
of Sacrifice (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992). On the
argument over purity between John and Jesus and its outcome, see Chilton, Jesus’
Baptism and Jesus’ Healing: His Personal Practice of Spirituality (Harrisburg: Trinity Press
International, 1998).
10
Paula Fredricksen, Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Knopf, 1999).
11
See E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (London: SCM; Philadelphia: Fortress,
1985).
v.rrixo . rr.cr ron ¡rsts 43
have disagreed with him, because the persistent reference to repen-
tance by Jesus is manifest in the Gospels and early Christian liter-
ature.
12
But Sanders put scholarship on the right track, by urging us
to identify the evident difference between John and Jesus. Purifica-
tion, in the light of more recent research, seems to have been the
crucial issue.
By taking due account of critical discussion, developments in our
approach to assessing evidence and evolving hermeneutical strate-
gies, and evidence which has been recently uncovered or neglected
by the fashions of our times, Craig Evans has invited us to find a
place for Jesus. That place is not created in the shadow cast by the
post-modern delight in revisionist readings of ancient sources, nor is
it defined within the various enclosures fenced in by the require-
ments of apologetic theologies in their many forms. The Jesus that
has been missing is the figure within the culture of Galilean Judaism,
recoverable only by inference, who gave rise to the movement or
movements that our sources attest in all their diversity. Because that
it is a place of study, rather than a specific program or agenda of
research, those of us engaged in locating Jesus and mapping his
influence will need, for the foreseeable future, to be involved with
the social construction of both the influences that shaped him and
the practices and beliefs which he generated.
12
See my “Jesus and the Repentance of E. P. Sanders,” TynBul 39 (1988) 1–18.
44 nntcr cnir+ox
CONTEXTS OF COMPARISON:
RECIPROCALLY READING GOSPELS’ AND
RABBIS’ PARABLES
Jacob Neusner
I. Theory of the Academic as against the Theological Study of Religion
Context determines the character of comparison. That principle forms
a corollary of the still more encompassing one: no theoretical work
on any aspect of the study of religions must commence without the
formulation of the context in which study is undertaken. Concretely,
when we study Judaism or Christianity in the context of the acad-
emic study of religion, we undertake a different task from the one
undertaken when in synagogue or church people study Judaism or
Christianity. And that difference also shapes the way in which we
compare the one religion with the other.
II. Theological versus Academic Study of Religion
Religions study themselves as part of their on-going work of exege-
sis and renewal. There, under the auspices of the faith, the labor
requires learning facts in the service of the faith: intensive knowl-
edge of that one thing only. That is because the worth of that one
thing that is studied—Judaism, Christianity—marks the starting point.
Facts bear their own meaning in religious context and theological
perspective. What we want to know is of self-evident, self-validating
interest. Most of the study of religions takes place as theology under
the auspices of the several religions, and enormous erudition about
some few things comes about. The specific religions define the bound-
aries of knowledge in their own regard. That is why, prior to our
own generation (and in our own day as well), most of what people
learn concerns religions’ theology, not religion.
But in the academy, shaped as it is by the heritage of the Enlighten-
ment, we seek in any subject we take up to learn more about human-
ity, viewed whole. Our concern is therefore not only the various
religions, viewed as self-validating, but religion, regarded as a dimen-
sion of the life and culture of humanity. Knowing various religions,
what can we say about religion as a whole? To answer that ques-
tion—a different one from the question that governs the theological
study of religions—we privilege no body of information and regard
as self-evidently important no defined corpus of knowledge. Instead
we ask religions to contribute cases and examples in the examina-
tion of generalizations about the whole phenomenon of humanity’s
religious activities and aspirations. We seek generalizations that per-
tain to the entire scope of human experience and consciousness. That
is why, while we study specific religions as part of our work, we
mean also to study religion—the phenomenon from which the phe-
nomena derive. The study of religion, like all other well-developed
academic fields of the social sciences and humanities, is therefore a
generalizing science, one that by its nature is both multi-cultural and
comparative. The academy then promises to study not only religions,
but religion.
III. The Unique versus the Exemplary
But where and how are we to do so? Take the case of the Gospels,
which define the occasion at hand. Most scholarship on the forma-
tive writings of Christianity goes on among believers or their con-
tinuators, in models defined by Christian seminaries and shaped in
the interests of Christian theology. Enjoying a self-evidently valid
position of privilege, treated as objects of inquiry in their own terms,
the Gospels are rarely asked to contribute to a discourse of general
intelligibility. They are not often invited to illustrate a generalization
or to provide an example of a truth that transcends their particular
case, e.g., about the nature of religious writing. As when studied
under Church auspices, so in the academy the Gospels are treated
as self-evidently interesting in their own right, not as exemplary of
a proposition that pertains elsewhere. That is to say, whether in the
Church or in the College the Gospels are treated as unique. The
definition of matters limits itself, moreover, to a narrow range of
questions, some of them doctrinal, most of them historical, all of
them aimed at a theological goal. In the case of classical Christianity,
for example, whether or not Jesus “really” did or said what he is
alleged by the Gospels to have done or said defines what scholars
46 ¡.con xrtsxrn
want to know, and when they have formed a thesis in response to
questions of hard-core, positivist history, they claim they are quite
content. Gospels’ scholarship (and its counterparts in Judaism and
other religions) rarely moves beyond the work of Christianity, defined
historically. Generalizations prove rare, comparisons invidious, and
the multi-cultural ideal of inclusive discourse encompassing human
experience accessible in general registers not at all.
The same is surely the case with the Gospels’ counterparts, the
Hebrew Scriptures, the Rabbinic literature of formative Judaism, and
the equivalent classics of Islam and Buddhism, and the like. Everything
is accorded the position of singularity, and nothing is set forth as
exemplary. But the premise of academic learning is, nothing is prima
facie unique, everything points to some few (hypothetical) general-
izations, which it is our task to identify and test. But we do well to
take a single case and generalize from there, and the study of the
Gospels provides not only an example of the study of religions, not
religion, but also the occasion for reflection on how, if we wanted
to study religion as a general phenomenon and ask about its traits
as these transcend specific cases, we might undertake that work. In
concrete terms, exactly at what points should we turn to the work
of generalization and face outward toward the worlds that circle in
their own orbits but may intersect with the one at hand?
IV. Description, Analysis, Interpretation: The Place of
Comparison and Contrast
To answer these questions and then show how the answer works, a
brief account of what we do when we study religion is required.
Here we shall identify the specific point at which the interests of
religion shape the study of specific religions.
What, How, So What? To study any religion, three successive
tasks require attention: description, analysis, and interpretation. We
describe a given religion, assembling the relevant facts in correct bal-
ance and proportion. That answers the question: what? meaning,
what precisely do we study? We analyze the religion, identifying
noteworthy traits and explaining them in context. That answers the
question: how? meaning, how does this set of information constitute
a coherent religion? And, finally, we interpret the religion, trying to
relate the character of that religion to its context. That answers the
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 47
question: why, or so what? meaning, what else do we know, if this
is what we know? That is the point of generalization, provoked by
the successful work of comparison and contrast. For the study of
religion as a powerful force in human affairs, as everyone concedes
religion has played, that is the key question: what do we know that
we did not know before, and what difference does that knowledge
make in our understanding of how things are? These three intellec-
tual challenges—what, how, why—confront anyone who hopes to do
more than summarize and paraphrase the sources of a given reli-
gion in the labor of the study of that religion.
Answering the question of what involves no intellectual heavy-lift-
ing. It requires the hard but unchallenging work of hunting and
gathering, collecting and arranging, information: the equivalent of
natural history. But matters change when we ask how. The critical
step comes with analysis. There we move from primitive to sophis-
ticated labor: find patterns, identify governing generalizations. Through
analysis we make sense of the facts that we collect and arrange and
form them into knowledge, turning information into a hypothesis
and an argument. How, exactly, we undertake to analyze a classic
of a given religion depends on the way in which we define the con-
text in which we are to read that classic. For analysis context is
everything. By context I mean, where do facts take on consequence,
and what is the question that a given fact answers? There begins
the work of generalization about religion, not merely the description
of individual religions, that we promise in the academy.
But to define a context, we have to pick and choose, carrying out
a labor of comparison and contrast. For to identify the context for
a text (by way of example) we require perspective on what we know.
And the only way of gaining perspective is to establish a distance,
a standpoint, apart from established knowledge. And to do so means
to step back, find something sufficiently like what we know to sus-
tain comparison, but also significantly unlike what we know to show
alternatives—that is the work of comparison and contrast. One of
the founders of the academic study of religion—religion, not only
religions—said it all: one who knows only a single religion knows
no religion at all.
48 ¡.con xrtsxrn
V. Analysis and the Comparative Study of Religion
The second stage, that of analysis, beyond description, before inter-
pretation, marks the moment of turning outward for data that are
like and not like our primary point of interest. Then we can attempt
a generalization. The study of religion by its nature requires gener-
alization—this is how things are in general, and this is what they
mean, viewed whole. To generalize, we have to identify the choices
a religious system or culture makes for itself, why it selects one way,
rather than another, for its world of belief and behavior. But to
explain choices, we have to know at least some of the alternatives.
Only then can we set forth a catalogue of possibilities and therefore
ask, why this, not that? In the realm of religion, religions constitute
that catalogue of possibilities, that list of how one might do things,
to define the context in which how one actually does them.
Comparing and contrasting afford perspective. They alert us to
alternatives, other ways of belief and behavior, so that from a grasp
of roads not taken, we may follow the path that is chosen and form
a theory of the reason why. Accordingly, by its nature, the analy-
tical study of religion is both comparative and multi-cultural. It is
comparative, because only when we consider two or more religions
(or two or more systems of the same religion) in a process of com-
parison and contrast do we gain access to the might-have-beens and
make some sense of what actually was or is. And it is multi-cultural
because religions make choices about a shared existential agenda
addressed by two or more (other) religions. Nearly all religions, for
example, deal with such issues as the nature of God and the mean-
ing of death, the requirements of the social order and the reality of
love. If we wish to learn about religion in culture and society, there-
fore, we are going to form a hypothesis out of a variety of kindred
cases, then test that hypothesis further. If, then, everyone under-
stands that, in the study of religions, who knows only one religion
understands no religion, how is comparison to be carried on?
VI. Two Ways of Comparing Religions: Synchronic vs. Diachronic
I see two media of comparison: synchronic, that is, comparison and
contrast of religions that thrive in the same time and place, and
diachronic, comparison and contrast of religions over time.
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 49
Synchronic comparison takes place in historical study, diachronic,
in the study of religion over time. Each mode of comparison and
contrast obeys its own rules and yields its own sort of insight. At
issue is, which serves better in the study of the Gospels in particular?
Synchronic Comparison: Here historical context defines the work.
For we compare concrete sayings or actions of the same time and
place, each representative of the religion, both religions confronting
a single circumstance. We claim to know exactly what has taken
place on a particular occasion and how each religion has responded
to the same moment in time, and we allege that the same circum-
stances—time and place, relationships of power and considerations
of honor for instance—confronted both players in a common con-
dition. In the case of the Gospels synchronic comparison will iden-
tify opinions held before or in the time in which Jesus lived, on the
premise that Jesus can have known such opinions and have framed
his own sayings in response to them. Sayings parallel to those attrib-
uted by the Gospels to Jesus will take priority; these will place Jesus
into that context in which these sayings circulated.
Most comparative work focused upon the Gospels has limited itself
to the principles of synchroneity: compare what Jesus said or did
with what others in or before his time said on the same subject or
did in the same setting. In fact, comparative study of Jesus in the
context of his time and place got underway as soon as Christians
began to record in writing the religious encounter that embodied
the faith. In the language of Jesus himself, comparison commences,
when he says, “You have heard it said . . . but I say to you. . . .”
That language formed the very essence of the comparative study of
Christianity along side the (inferior) Judaism. For long centuries the
invidious comparisons limited themselves to exegetical problems, com-
paring a saying of Jesus with a comparable one in the Hebrew
Scriptures or in other sources of Judaism.
Comparing a Unitary Judaism to a Unitary Christianity: Modern
and contemporary scholarship made two further contributions to the
synchronic comparison, first, the invention of a single, unitary Judaism.
What nineteenth century scholarship added to comparative study was
the abstraction, “Judaism.” That is to say, very often, synchronic
comparison involved the fabrication of something called “Judaism,”
a single, unitary religion, which Jesus rejected; that religion was taken
to be known from the Hebrew Scriptures (“Old Testament”) or,
among more sophisticated scholars, from the Scriptures and certain
50 ¡.con xrtsxrn
non-canonical documents of the same general provenience. Among
scholars, specific sayings or stories would be subjected to analysis
through the comparison and contrast of what Jesus said with what
others said on a single program. A cliché of comparative study of
Christianity and Judaism in classical times maintains, moreover, that
Judaism was ethnic and Christianity universal—a profoundly wrong
reading of what “Israel” stands for in a variety of the Judaisms of
the time. The discovery of the library at the Dead Sea contributed
still more such writings, some differentiating among Judaisms and
Christianities, some not. Treating the two as unitary made compar-
ison easier, invidious comparison still simpler. So, to take one noto-
rious case, the same scholar, Ed Parish Sanders, who differentiates
among Judaisms in Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977 defines for
himself a single, unitary Judaism in 1995. Clearly, comparative study
has required the invention of the things to be compared!
Encompassing Rabbinic Judaism: From the beginning of the twen-
tieth century, with the work of H. L. Strack in Germany and his
counterparts in Britain, culminating in that of George F. Moore in
the USA, the definition of “Judaism” for comparative purposes broad-
ened to encompass Rabbinic literature, which came to closure from
the Mishnah, ca. 200, through the Talmud of Babylonia, ca. 600
CE. “Judaism” then would be attested by a vast variety of sources,
full of mutual contradictions and reciprocal disagreement. Citing Lev
19:18, Jesus said, “You will love your neighbor as yourself.” Citing
the same verse, Hillel said, “What is hateful to yourself do not do
to your neighbor; that is the entire Torah; all the rest is commen-
tary; now go forth and learn.” From the intersection of these two
responses to Lev 19:18, then, comparative study produced such con-
clusions as, “Jesus’s formulation was superior because . . .,” or “Hillel’s
was superior because . . .,” or “Jesus was not original, because Hillel
said it first . . .,” or “Jesus was nothing more than a rabbi, like any
other,” and so on—comparative study in the service of religious
polemics. But invidious comparison need not be synchronic, and we
are not required to dismiss the synchronic approach merely because
its results have served other than an academic program.
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 51
VII. Problems of Synchronic Comparison
Synchronic comparison now has run its course for three reasons.
Each would suffice to require another approach to the formulation
of contexts of comparison of Christianity and Judaism.
[1] Distortion: Insisting that defining a context for comparative
study involves only materials of the same time and place constricts
the work and at the same time distorts it. First distortion: synchronic
comparison has treated as a fact that Jesus can have known not only
Scripture, but that range of Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphic writ-
ing deriving from long prior to his own day. When we invoke
Pseudepigraphic books to explain Jesus’ own meaning or the context
of a saying attributed to him, we turn out to construct in our minds
a considerable library to which Jesus had access; but we do not know
that that was the case. So too it is a long road from Nazareth to
Qumran. We cannot say for certain Jesus took that road.
[2] The Pseudo-Historical Jesus: Second, and more to the point
comes the constriction: as Professor Chilton says, “There is no ‘his-
torical Jesus’ in the sense of a person whose deeds and character
are accessible by means of verifiable public evidence.” Limiting the
work of comparison and contrast to texts prior to, or contemporary
with, Jesus himself therefore rests upon a historical variable that
proves dubious. We excise evidence that can help us place into con-
temporary context for purposes of comparison earliest Christian reli-
gious life, because to begin with we have dismissed all evidence
concerning initial Christianity except that explicitly identified with
the person of Jesus and today affirmed as belonging to him—a very
considerable exclusion of nearly the whole of the corpus of evidence
concerning Christian faith.
[3] The Secularization of Jesus, The Dismissal of Christianity:
Third and most important, insisting that the only Jesus for study is
“the historical Jesus” defined apart from the canonical Gospels by
appeal to secular criteria of positivist history dictates the outcome
before the work even commences. Thus, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
has said in his great critique of the study of the historical Jesus, we
predetermine the result. That is because by definition we eliminate
most of the data that pertain to religion. Stories of miracles, sayings
of a unique character, not to mention reports of resurrection—these
do not supply facts that we can validate or falsify in the ordinary
way in which historians do their work. History by its nature deals
52 ¡.con xrtsxrn
with positive, demonstrable facts. But most of the allegations concerning
Jesus that the Gospels set forth pertain to what is beyond secular
demonstration—or, the faithful would claim, even comprehension.
Religion speaks of God’s creating the world, giving the Torah, walk-
ing among men in incarnate form. What tests of validation or
falsification can anyone devise to establish secular fact out of religious
conviction? To begin with, much (perhaps most) of what the Gospels
allege about Jesus proves beyond all verification—not merely the
miracles, excluded (or trivialized, or explained away) from positive
historical narrative by definition, but the entire supernatural context
that the Gospels to begin with define for their discourse. Given the
centrality, in all Gospels, of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we must
find the insistence on mere history an exercise in trivialization.
Even among the this-worldly possibilities, we limit ourselves to
only the few that, by means of historical accident, we know to begin
with. Take the evidence of Judaic religious life that comes prior to
the time of Jesus. The religious writings that have survived the acci-
dents of time from before the first century include, in addition to
Scripture, principally those involving apocalyptic speculation about
the end of time. Thus, if we exclude evidence of a diachronic char-
acter, we find ourselves left with ample representation of evidence
of a single type alone, the apocalyptic. Then our evidence forces us
to place Jesus into the context of apocalypse. But much that is attrib-
uted to him self-evidently pertains to other than the agenda of apoc-
alyptic visionaries, and that limitation therefore leaves us unable to
make sense of much that he (is alleged to have) said that has no
bearing upon apocalyptic expectation at all—beginning, after all,
with the Golden Rule itself ! Along these same lines, synchronic com-
parison often depends on exclusionary rules. These rules prove con-
tradictory. One dictates that Jesus was a Jew, so anything with
Hellenistic parallels is excluded; or another holds, Jesus was a rev-
olutionary figure, so anything with other Judaic parallels is excluded;
or yet a third maintains, Jesus was unique, so anything Hellenistic
or Judaic is excluded. That is why Cardinal Ratzinger correctly points
to the predetermined character of the lives of the historical Jesus.
Little survives the inquiry of history—except for Christianity, includ-
ing its founder.
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 53
VIII. Diachronic Comparison
By diachronic comparison I mean the consideration of evidence con-
cerning (a) Judaism that took shape over a long period of time but
reached closure only long after the death of Jesus himself. When we
compare large-scale, long-lasting structures—beliefs, myths, practices
attested over time but not necessarily present at some one moment—
we compare religious systems in large aggregates. We claim that an
inner logic renders coherent a variety of beliefs, myths, and practices,
which hold together over a long time, elements of which may surface
here or there, in this setting or in that. Diachrony permits the com-
parison of religions, not merely one-time events or singular individuals.
From History to Religion: Diachrony establishes a different con-
text for comparison from the synchronic one, a context that tran-
scends some one ephemeral moment. It is a kind of comparison that
transcends the boundaries of the here and the now, the there and
the then, that seeks contexts of a different order altogether from
those of history. Specifically, diachronic comparison appeals to an
other-than-historical model of describing, analyzing, and interpreting
the facts of a given religion: its writings and teachings and practices.
When we define a context formed by large-scale, continuing struc-
tures, we transcend the limits of time and ascend to the level of
enduring culture. Then what matters is not one-time facts, set forth
in linear progression from start to finish, but all-time truths, present
wherever and whenever the faith in question comes to realization.
That is a different way of thinking from the historical, and there-
fore a different way of undertaking comparisons as well.
History’s premise—the self-evidence of the linearity of events, so
that, first came this, then came that, and this “stands behind” or
explains or causes that—contradicts the now-articulated experience
of humanity. Chaos governs, while from history’s perspective, order
should reign. Sometimes “this” yields “that,” as it should, but some-
times it does not. To the contrary, what happens in ordinary life
yields not events that relate to one another like pearls on a neck-
lace, first this, then that, then the other thing, in proper procession.
Not at all. Life is unpredictable; if this happens, we cannot securely
assume that that must occur in sequence, in order—at least, not in
the experience of humanity. That is proven by the irregularity of
events, the unpredictability, by all and any rules, of what, if this
54 ¡.con xrtsxrn
happens, will follow next. Knowing “this,” we never can securely
claim to predict “that” as well.
IX. Synchronic versus Diachronic Comparison
Synchronic comparison invokes temporal parallels alone, always rejects
anachronism, and everywhere stands upon the premises of history.
What we want to know is specific to the moment under study: this
moment, distinct from the one just past and the one yet to come;
this figure and his philosophy, by contrast to that figure and his—
both of them contemporaries, each participating in the context that
sustains the other. That synchronic moment is singular, not exem-
plary; only what is relevant to that moment in particular therefore
places that distinctive event into perspective. Diachronic comparison
and contrast by contrast seek not exact temporal parallels but rather
approximate, illuminating analogies. These may well derive from
other times and other places than the specific occasion for which we
seek illumination through comparison and contrast. Then we appeal
to the past and the future and cease to privilege the present moment—
and that comparison through time defines diachrony.
X. Synchronic and historical versus Diachronic and
Paradigmatic Thinking
We come now to the heart of matters, two distinct types of think-
ing and how each type defines its own context for comparison. In
this way we may lay down a solid theoretical foundation for the
other mode of comparison set forth here.
Diachronic comparison appeals to a different mode of thinking
from the historical kind, specifically, to the mode of thinking I call
paradigmatic—thinking that seeks enduring patterns, rules that gov-
ern and that transcend particular cases, thinking in quest of gener-
alizations, such as is characteristic of social science. To understand
paradigmatic thinking and its consequent diachronic comparison, we
have to compare the paradigmatic to the historical. Historical think-
ing requires the distinction between past and present. Thinking in
terms of patterns or models or paradigms, by contrast, makes no
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 55
such distinction. For a pattern exists in a timeless world: given these
conditions, such and so are the results, and that is not a time-bound
judgment. Paradigmatic thinking represents a mode of representing
the social order of a group in such a way that the past forms a vivid
presence, but the present also takes place in the past. When social
science appeals to the history of economics or calls upon examples
of social organization out of widely disparate periods of time and
even places, it seeks to define rules that apply everywhere—rules of
economics or sociology or political behavior. These generalizations
identify and then codify patterns, and in the labor of generalization,
exemplary cases serve without regard to differentiation between past,
present, and future. The past yields cases to contrast with the pre-
sent, and past and present extend themselves into the future through
the definition of an encompassing rule.
The distinction between past and present is not the only indica-
tor of historical modes of organizing experience, the rejection of that
distinction, of paradigmatic ones. A further trait of historical think-
ing is the linearity of events, a sense for the teleology of matters,
however the goal may find its definition. Past was then but leads to
now. It is not now but it guides us into the acute present tense, and
onward to the future. Linearity presupposes predictability, regular-
ity, order. Historical study correlates this to that, ideas to events,
always seeking reasonable explanation for what has come about. Its
very premise is that of the Enlightenment, concerning the ultimate
order awaiting discovery. History then forms a subset of the quest
for order—a persuasive one, one that enjoys the standing of self-
evidence. But as this century has taught us, all premises concerning
order, except the one that insists upon the ultimate chaos of things,
lose plausibility.
If history favors the one-time, the singular and the demonstrable
facts concerning how things really took place, that is because his-
tory deals with a specific type of fact. Writing history requires [1]
narrative that in a teleological framework or pattern links [2] unique
and meaningful events involving [3] singular persons, with traits of
individuality. History tells what has happened at a determinate time
in the past, and history always posits the pastness of the past. In the
Gospels and in the Rabbinic literature, by contrast, we address a
vast corpus of writing that contains no sustained narrative other than,
in the case of the Gospels, the unique life of Jesus; that concedes
no gap or barrier to separate present from past, views the present
56 ¡.con xrtsxrn
as autonomous of past and future, and, it goes without saying, finds
sustained story-history a useless medium for the making of its statement.
Historical study correlates this to that, ideas to events, always seek-
ing reasonable explanation for what has come about. Its very premise
is that of the Enlightenment, concerning the ultimate order await-
ing discovery. History then forms a subset of the quest for order—
a persuasive one, one that enjoys the standing of self-evidence. Now,
unlike history, religion takes into account the failure of linear logic,
with its regularities and certainties and categorical dismissal of chaos.
In its reading of Scripture, Judaism (along with Christianity) posits
instead a world that may be compared to that of fractal shapes, in
the language of mathematics, or classified as paradigms, models, or
patterns, in the language of this essay. These fractals or paradigms
describe how things are, whether large or small, whether here or
there, whether today or in a distant past or an unimaginable future.
Fractal thinking finds sameness without regard to scale, from small
to large—and so too in the case of events. Fractal thinking there-
fore makes possible the quest for a few specific patterns, which will
serve this and that, hither and yon, because out of acknowledged
chaos they isolate points of regularity or recurrence and describe,
analyze, and permit us to interpret them.
Unlike history, Judaism and Christianity in their classic statements
take into account the failure of linear logic, with its regularities and
certainties and categorical dismissal of chaos. In its reading of the
ancient Israelite Scriptures, Judaism (along with Christianity) posits
instead a world that may be compared to that of fractal shapes, in
the language of mathematics, or classified as paradigms, models, or
patterns. These fractals or paradigms describe how things are, whether
large or small, whether here or there, whether today or in a distant
past or an unimaginable future. Fractal thinking finds sameness with-
out regard to scale, from small to large—and so too in the case of
events. Fractal thinking therefore makes possible the quest for a few
specific patterns, which will serve this and that, hither and yon,
because out of acknowledged chaos they isolate points of regularity
or recurrence and describe, analyze, and permit us to interpret them.
Paradigms describe the structure of being: how (some) things are,
whether now or then, here or there, large or small—without regard
to scale, therefore in complete indifference to the specificities of con-
text. They derive from imagination, not from perceived reality. They
impose upon the world their own structure and order, selecting
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 57
among things that happen those few moments that are eventful and
meaningful. Paradigms form a different conception of time from the
historical, define a different conception of relationship from the lin-
ear. Stated very simply, while historical thinking is linear, religious
thinking corresponds to mathematics’ fractal thinking.
Diachronic comparison admits into the discussion evidence pro-
duced in centuries after the first, in Judaic circumstances far removed
from the conditions that prevailed when Jesus lived. On what basis
may we compare a story told by Jesus with one first occurring much
later, in the Talmud of Babylonia for example?
First, the comparison aims at perspective on kindred-religions and
their large-scale traits. The foundations of comparing Christianity
and Judaism—the religions, not limited to the founding figure of the
former—extend deep into the ground on which both stand. Specifically,
both Judaism and Christianity appeal to the Scriptures of ancient
Israel. Each cites those Scriptures lavishly and aspires to realize their
teachings in the life of Israel and Church, respectively. Whatever
other authorities the diverse formulations of each religion acknowl-
edge, the two large families of kindred systems share a single Scripture
and commonly debate the interpretation of verses of that Scripture.
To claim that the two religious worlds collide in a conflict of exe-
gesis would represent too narrow a reading, while to insist that they
set forth their disagreements in the end in the framework of hermeneu-
tics would surely prove congruent to what is at stake in the conflict.
Second, the fact of a common heritage produces the further fact
that in both systems a single logic, a single rationality, even a shared
structure imposing order on the chaos of the everyday and system
upon time govern. The shared logic appeals to a divine order and
plan, known through Scripture, based upon a sense of proportion
and balance, justice and mercy, pervading all being. The single ratio-
nality appeals to the human sense for what is right: “Will not the
Judge of all the world do justice?” states the matter for both scrip-
tural religions. The common structure appeals not only to Providence
but to regularity in history: as Moses and the prophets insisted, if
you do this, that is sure to happen. And along these same lines, his-
tory is patterned, with a beginning, middle, and end. In these and
numerous other, definitive traits, the two religions conform over time
to a single structure. That is why the writings of the two religions,
though widely separated in time, come together in a single meeting
place of a common and shared discourse. They intersect not because
58 ¡.con xrtsxrn
they run parallel, as historical thinking prefers, but because each sup-
plies the other with illuminating analogues. And when it comes to
comparison and contrast, analogues originate wherever we may find
them—or however our imagination invents them, as poets do.
XI. Gospels and Rabbinic Writings: From Parallels to Analogues and
Parables in Particular: A Case in Point
That brings us to a concrete case: the use of Rabbinic and Gospels’
evidence in the shared work of comparing the religions, Judaism and
Christianity. Because in important ways passages in Rabbinic liter-
ature intersect with passages in the Gospels, comparison is possible.
Writings assigned to the sages of the dual Torah, written and oral,
intersect in content and even in form with sayings attributed to Jesus
and other compositions of the synoptic Gospels. An example of such
comparison has already been given, namely, the saying attributed to
Hillel about not doing to one’s neighbor what one would not want
done to himself. That saying first surfaces in the name of Hillel in
the Talmud of Babylonia, a document that reached closure in ca.
600 CE. We cannot show, and therefore do not know, that Hillel
himself actually made that statement in the earliest decades of the
first century. Hence critical scholarship has called into question
whether or not that statement can define for us the one-time, his-
torical context in which Jesus made the saying on the same subject
that is assigned to him.
So far as comparison is narrowly historical, positivist, and syn-
chronic, the Rabbinic literature can make only a marginal contri-
bution to Gospels studies. But if our comparison aims at gaining
perspective on two large religious structures, the Rabbinic and the
Catholic and Orthodox Christian, then much work awaits. For while
everyone has long known that parallels exist between the one and
the other, synchronic and historical comparison proves dubious.
Comparing and contrasting sayings and stories that first reached doc-
umentary closure in the third or fifth or seventh centuries with those
of the Gospels requires us to treat as first century writings what man-
ifestly belong to much later centuries. That formidable objection can
be overcome in one of two ways.
First, we undertake the act of faith that affirms all attributions as
valid. In that case, why not give up the so-called critical quest for
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 59
the historical Jesus—meaning, what he really said among the say-
ings attributed to him—and believe it all?
Or, second, we redefine our quest altogether, asking for data of
an-other-than-synchronic character to provide a perspective of a
different kind from the narrowly-historical one. It is the diachronic
comparison, resting on the principles just now set forth. Here we
ask a different set of questions. We seek perspective from a different
angle altogether. Consequently, work that yields little of value in the
synchronic setting produces much of interest in the diachronic one.
Specifically, if we seek to characterize an entire religious system and
structure—Rabbinic Judaism that records its Oral Torah in the score
of documents from the Mishnah through the Talmud of Babylonia,
the Christianity that reaches written form in the Gospels—diachronic
work vastly helps. For characterizing wholes—the whole of one struc-
ture and system—gains nuance and detail when brought into juxta-
position with comparable wholes.
But how would such diachronic comparison work? The basic
premise of systemic description, analysis, and interpretation here
enters in. The premise of systemic study of religions maintains that
details contain within themselves and recapitulate the system as a
whole, so that, from the parts, we can reconstruct much of the
entirety of the structure, much as do anthropologists and paleontol-
ogists dealing with details of culture or of mammals, respectively.
That premise flows from the very notion of a system—an entire
structure that imparts proportion and meaning to details and that
holds the whole together in a single cogent statement. To illustrate
what we may, and may not, accomplish through diachronic com-
parison of shared, therefore comparable, yet different, therefore con-
trasting, details, a single case therefore should serve.
The single concrete case of the way in which we compare reli-
gions through concrete texts drawn from widely separated periods
of time is familiar. For that purpose I have chosen a parable that
occurs in the Synoptic Gospels and in the Talmud of Babylonia, the
one in the name of Jesus, the other of Yohanan ben Zakkai, who
is assumed to have lived in the first century. Early on, people rec-
ognized that the parable set forth in Yohanan’s name looks some-
thing like the one set forth in Jesus’s, and they therefore asked
Yohanan to clarify the sense and meaning of Jesus. But later on,
most people conceded that a parable attributed to a first century
60 ¡.con xrtsxrn
authority in a seventh century compilation cannot be taken at face
value to record what really was said and done on that singular day
in the first century to which reference is made. Diachronic reading
of religious systems leads us past the impasse. But we learn then
about the Christian system of the Gospels, the Judaic system of the
Talmud of Babylonia. The shape and structure of Christianity and
of Judaism then come under study and into perspective. Narrowly
historical questions give way to broad and encompassing ones con-
cerning the religious order. The parable allows for the comparison
and contrast of religions.
What we shall see is how finding what Christian and Judaic canon-
ical documents share permits a process of first comparison but then
contrast. Likeness takes priority. When we see how matters are alike,
we perceive the differences as well, and having established a solid
basis for comparison, contrast proves illuminating. The parable con-
cerns a king who gave a feast, but did not specify the time. Some
people responded to the invitation wisely, some foolishly. Some were
ready when the time came, some were not. The parable in that
form contains no determinate message and does not hint at its own
interpretation. That is all that the two religions have in common:
the shared parable of the king who gave a banquet but did not spec-
ify the time. Everything else, as we shall see, is particular to the two
religious traditions that utilized the parable, each for its own mes-
sage. The contrast then permits us to show where each differs from
the other, what each really wishes to say—no small point of clarification
when it comes to the description and analysis of religions.
Let us consider, first, how the naked components of the parable
are clothed in the formulation attributed to Jesus:
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, The kingdom of
Heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for
his son and [1] sent his servants to call those who were invited to the
marriage feast, but they would not come.
Again [2] he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited,
behold I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and ,my fat calves
are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’ But
they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his
business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully
and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and
destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his
servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 61
“‘[3] Go therefore to the thoroughfares and invite to the marriage
feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the streets
and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good, so the wed-
ding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look
at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment, and
he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding
garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the atten-
dants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness;
there men will weep and gnash their teeth. For many are called but
few are chosen.’ ” (Matt 22:1–14 = Luke 14:15–24 RSV)
As Jesus shapes the parable, it tells a rather protracted and com-
plicated story. That is because, read as a unitary formulation, the
story of the king’s feast is told thrice, and each version makes its
own point. First, the king has issued invitations, but no one will
come. This is made deliberate and blameworthy: people reject the
invitation, and they do so violently: The wedding is ready, but those
invited were not worthy. Then the king issues new invitations. People
now come as they are. They had no choice, having been summoned
without notice or opportunity to get ready. Those who are unready
are punished: they should have been ready.
Then is tacked on a new moral: many are called but few are cho-
sen. But no version of the parable of the king’s fiasco matches that
moral. The first version has many called, but those who are called
either will not come (to the original feast) or are not worthy (of the
second feast) but reject the invitation altogether. So in the first set
of stories, many are called but nobody responds. In the third go-
around, many are called and do show up, but a few—one man
only—is unready. So the triplet is rather odd.
But the point is clear: the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Jesus is
the son. People reject the invitation to the marriage feast, that is, the
Kingdom of Heaven. The invitation is repeated: everything is ready.
The invited people now reject the invitation violently and are themselves
unworthy. In the third go-around there is no choice about coming;
people are dragooned. Now the kingdom is at hand and people must
enter. Some are ready, some not. All are judged in accord with their
condition at the moment of the invitation—ready or not.
That is the point at which the Rabbinic version of the same
story—the story about the king who made a feast and invited people—
intersects with the Christian use of the parable. But to examine it
in its context, we have to consider the text that utilizes the parable,
not just the parable, which is not free-standing. If the context of the
62 ¡.con xrtsxrn
parable as Jesus utilizes it is the kingdom of Heaven and its sudden
advent, the context in the Rabbinic version is everyday life, the here
and now and the death that comes to everyone. That is what hap-
pens without warning, for which people must be ready. The text
commences with generalizations: one should repent one day before
he dies, and that means, every day. One should be ever-ready. This
is linked to a verse in Qoh 9:8, “Let your garments be always white
and don’t let your head lack ointment,” which is taken to refer to
keeping one’s body in condition as a corpse, that is, garmented in
white, the color of death in the Rabbinic writings, and properly
anointed, as the corpse is anointed for burial.
The compositor of the construction of the Talmud of Babylonia
has then added the parable of the king who invited people to a ban-
quet. He set no specific time. Some kept themselves in readiness,
some did not. Now the parable illustrates the teaching that one
should be ready for the banquet that God will call at any moment—
which is to say, one should be ready for death through a life of per-
petual repentance:
I.45 A. We have learned in the Mishnah there: R. Eliezer says, “Repent
one day before you die” [m. "Abot 2:10D].
B. His disciples asked R. Eliezer, “So does someone know just
what day he’ll die?”
C. He said to them, “All the more so let him repent today, lest
he die tomorrow, and he will turn out to spend all his days
in repentance.”
D. And so, too, did Solomon say, “Let your garments be always
white and don’t let your head lack ointment” (Qoh 9:8).
I.46 A. [“Let your garments be always white and don’t let your head
lack ointment” (Qoh 9:8)]—said R. Yohanan b. Zakkai, “The
matter may be compared to the case of a king who invited
his courtiers to a banquet, but he didn’t set a time. The smart
ones among them got themselves fixed up and waited at the
gate of the palace, saying, ‘Does the palace lack anything?’
[They can do it any time.] The stupid ones among them went
about their work, saying, ‘So is there a banquet without a
whole lot of preparation?’ Suddenly the king demanded the
presence of his courtiers. The smart ones went right before
him, all fixed up, but the fools went before him filthy from
their work. The king received the smart ones pleasantly, but
showed anger to the fools. He said, ‘These, who fixed them-
selves up for the banquet, will sit and eat and drink. Those,
who didn’t fix themselves up for the banquet, will stand and
look on.’”
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 63
The passage bears a gloss, as follows:
B. R. Meir’s son in law in the name of R. Meir said, “They,
too, would appear as though in attendance. But, rather, both
parties sit, the one eating, the other starving, the one drink-
ing, the other in thirst: ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God,
behold, my servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry, behold,
my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirty, behold, my
servants shall rejoice, but you shall be ashamed; behold, my
servants shall sing for joy of heart, but you shall cry for sor-
row of heart’ (Isa 65:13–14).”
A further treatment of the base-verse, Qoh 9:8, transforms the empha-
sis upon the attitude of repentance in preparation for death to the
practice of the faith, the reference to garments now alluding to show-
fringes, and to the head to phylacteries:
C. Another matter: “Let your garments be always white and don’t
let your head lack ointment” (Qoh 9:8)—
D. “Let your garments be always white”: This refers to show
fringes.
E. “And don’t let your head lack ointment”: This refers to phy-
lacteries.
b. Shab. 153a = m. Shab. 23:5K–M I.44–45
Clearly, we have moved a long way from the triple banquet that
Jesus has the king hold, and the parable serves remarkably disparate
purposes. All that is shared is the common motif, the king who gave
a feast and was disappointed in the result because people are unready.
There are some corresponding developments, specifically, [1] diverse
responses to the invitation, and [2] consequently, some are ready
when the hour strikes, some not. Otherwise the versions of the para-
ble scarcely intersect, as the following comparison shows:
Jesus
“The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who gave a
marriage feast for his son and sent his servants to call those who were
invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come. Again he sent
other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, behold I have made
ready my dinner, my oxen and, my fat calves are killed, and every-
thing is ready; come to the marriage feast.’
But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to
his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shame-
fully and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and
destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his
servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
64 ¡.con xrtsxrn
Go therefore to the thoroughfares and invite to the marriage feast as
many as you find.’
And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom
they found, both bad and good, so the wedding hall was filled with
guests.
But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a
man who had no wedding garment, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how
did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speech-
less. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot
and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash
their teeth.
For many are called but few are chosen.’”
Yohanan ben Zakkai
“The matter may be compared to the case of a king who invited his
courtiers to a banquet, but he didn’t set a time.
The smart ones among them got themselves fixed up and waited at
the gate of the palace, saying, ‘Does the palace lack anything?’ [They
can do it any time.] The stupid ones among them went about their
work, saying, ‘So is there a banquet without a whole lot of prepara-
tion?’
Suddenly the king demanded the presence of his courtiers. The smart
ones went right before him, all fixed up, but the fools went before
him filthy from their work.
The king received the smart ones pleasantly, but showed anger to
the fools. He said, ‘These, who fixed themselves up for the banquet,
will sit and eat and drink. Those, who didn’t fix themselves up for the
banquet, will stand and look on.’”
The upshot is simple: the parable shared by Christianity and Judaism
concerns a king who gave a banquet with unhappy results—that
alone. But that shared motif (for all we have in common is a motif,
not a fully-executed tale) suffices to validate comparing the ways in
which the two religious worlds have utilized the motif. And that
produces striking contrasts, which turn our attention from the detail—
the case at hand—and toward the large-scale systems that have im-
posed their respective paradigms upon the detail of the (proto-)parable:
the shared motif of the king who gave a banquet for people who
were unwilling or unready to attend, the shared lesson that one has
to be ready on the spur of the moment, and the common convic-
tion that that for which one must be forever prepared is nothing
less than entry into God’s kingdom. But what is that kingdom? On
that the two heirs of the common Scripture differ radically.
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 65
XII. Contexts of Comparison
What do we learn from the contrast? Christianity, in the case at
hand, defines God’s kingdom around the advent of Jesus Christ. The
formulation in the Gospels concerns itself with the rejection of Jesus
and the Kingdom he inaugurates. People do not wish to respond to
the invitation. Or people are not ready to respond. At stake is God’s
rule, which is at hand, but which comes when least expected. But
the net result is the same. Christianity in the statement of the Gospels
then sets forth a religious system focused upon the figure of Jesus
in the advent of God’s rule. Rabbinic Judaism, in the case at hand,
centers its interest on the moral conduct of everyday life. That is
where God’s kingdom is realized, in the quotidian world of the here
and the now. How to accept God’s rule, together with the unpre-
dictable occasion at which God will exercise his dominion? People
living in ordinary times must engage in a constant process of repen-
tance, to be ready for the event—God’s intervention and assertion
of his dominion—that is inevitable but unpredictable, death.
Through working on the same motif of the king and the banquet
and the guests who are not ready, and through insisting upon the
same message, which is one has to be ready every moment for the
coming of the kingdom, the two systems say very different things.
Perspective on the character and emphases of each is gained from
the contrast with the other, made possible by the shared motif, which
generates two comparable, but contrasting parables. The humble
detail—a few lines of narrative in the respective documents—proves
to contain within itself much of what we require to differentiate the
one reading of the shared Scripture from the other.
“Our sages of blessed memory” read Scripture as the account of
how God’s kingdom on earth is to take shape, how holy Israel is to
realize the rules that govern the everyday and the here and now of
the kingdom of Heaven in which, through obedience to the Torah,
priests and the holy people is to make its life, so declaring every
morning and every night with the rising and setting of the sun, the
regularity of nature, in the recitation of the Shema proclaiming God’s
rule. “Jesus Christ” received the same heritage as an account of not
the enduring present but the now-realized future: the climax is at
hand, the kingdom of Heaven marks not a lasting condition, match-
ing nature with supernature in Israel’s obedience, but the acutely
66 ¡.con xrtsxrn
present moment. And obedience is to the king, who has made a
banquet—in Judaism, for his courtiers = Israel (or, all humanity for
that matter), in Christianity, for his son = Jesus Christ. Where else
but at the intersection of like parables could we have encountered
so jarring a collision: everyday Israel versus Jesus Christ! At every
point likeness underscores difference, but only diachronic compari-
son sustains the encounter, synchronic reading forbidding it.
True, we end up where just we started, but now vastly enlight-
ened on where we stand. The reciprocal reading of the rabbis’ and
the Gospels’ parables, like the comparative-contrastive reading of
much else, yields two religions, each constructing, upon but asym-
metrical to the same foundation, buildings remarkable for their sym-
metry, but also for their utter incongruity.
There is also the wholly extra-contextual, the comparison and con-
trast of religions that never intersect, do not share a single world of
space or time, and form utter abstractions of theory. Extra-contextual
comparison involves such abstractions as “Buddhism” or “Hinduism”
or “Judaism” and “Christianity,” and we identify a given compo-
nent we deem common to both, e.g., rites of initiation, beliefs about
God, practices of rite and cult. Traits in common—e.g., Christianity’s
Golden Rule, recapitulating Lev 19:18: “You shall love your neigh-
bor as yourself,” Judaism’s counterpart in Hillel’s saying, “What is
hateful to yourself do not do to your neighbor; that is the entire
Torah; all the rest is commentary; now go forth and learn”—will
be set up side by side and contrasted. Here we make no effort to
place the saying into any larger context, e.g., a particular time and
place in which the saying was provoked or to which it was addressed;
an on-going debate that the saying is meant to settle; a pair of larger
theological or philosophical systems, e.g., moral philosophy or theo-
logical ethics, that we propose to compare and contrast. The strength
of extra-contextual comparison lies in the simplicity of the exercise
and the bold and clear character of the result. That is also the weak-
ness: analysis never proves so easy, solid results are harder to come
by. Commonly, extra-contextual comparison produces traits in com-
mon that prove illusory upon closer inspection. Not knowing the
larger setting in which a given saying finds its natural place, we miss
the points of actual intersection. But so far as we conceive the abstrac-
tions, “Judaism” and “Christianity,” to represent the concrete reali-
ties of Judaic and Christian faith in the here and now, extra-contextual
cox+rx+s or covr.nisox 67
comparison does help organize things and yields basic and useful
generalizations. Extra-contextual comparison deserves attention in its
own terms, but does not figure in the present problem at all.
A medieval treatment of the same verse in Qohelet completes the
exposition by referring to the trilogy, commandments, good deeds,
and Torah-study:
Does Scripture speak literally about garments? But how many white
garments do the pagans have? And if Scripture literally speaks of good
oil, how much good oil do the pagans have! But Scripture speaks only
of the performance of the commandments, good deeds, and the study
of the Torah (Qoh. Rab. 9:8).
Here we see how the medieval documents of Rabbinic Judaism
clearly continue and carry forward with great precision the teach-
ings of the classical writings. Nothing has intervened in the unfold-
ing of the Rabbinic system, which amplifies and refines the initial
statement, absorbs new ideas and naturalizes them, but which con-
tinues an essentially straight path from antiquity forward.
68 ¡.con xrtsxrn
NEUSNER’S “CONTEXTS OF COMPARISON”
Gary Herion
I
In his programmatic essay “Contexts of Comparison: Reciprocally
Reading Gospels’ and Rabbi’s Parables,” Professor Neusner has pro-
posed nothing less than a “paradigm shift.” Since Reimarus
1
the his-
torical study of Jesus has experienced numerous moments when old
lines of investigation closed down and new ones opened up. In the
19th century, for example, David Friedrich Strauss opened up a
whole new line of approach by insisting that the supernatural ele-
ments in the Jesus story be viewed as “mythology.”
2
Albert Schweitzer
at the turn of the century brought closure to the whole historical
approach by cementing in the western imagination the notion that
Jesus had been a failed prophet of the end-times.
3
The cement held
for half a century.
During this so-called “No Quest Period” of the early twentieth
century the imaginable alternatives to historical study were primar-
ily literary and theological. The literary alternative involved the exca-
vation of the Gospel texts to identify material emanating from earlier
1
H. S. Reimarus, Von dem Zwecke Jesu und seiner Jünger: Noch ein Fragment des
Wolfenbüttelschen Ungenannten (Fragment 7; ed. G. E. Lessing; Braunschweig: [n.p.],
1778); K. Lachmann (ed.), Lessings Schriften (3rd ed., vols. 12–13; Leipzig: Göschen,
1897); ET: Fragments from Reimarus consisting of Brief Critical Remarks on the Object of
Jesus and His Disciples (ed. C. Voysey; London: Williams and Norgate, 1879); new
ed., Reimarus: Fragments (ed. C. H. Talbert; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970; London:
SCM Press, 1971). Reimarus is rightly considered the first scholar to apply the
nascent methods of modern historical criticism to the study of Jesus.
2
D. F. Strauss, Das Leben Jesu kritisch bearbeitet (2 vols., Tübingen: C. F. Osiander,
1835–36; repr. in 1984; 3rd ed., 1838–39; 4th ed., 1840); FT: Vie de Jésus, un exa-
men critique de son histoire (2 vols., Paris: Librairie de Ladrange, 1839–40); ET: The
Life of Jesus, critically examined (3 vols., London: Chapman, 1846; 5th ed., 1906;
Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972; Lives of Jesus Series; London: SCM Press, 1973).
3
A. Schweitzer, Von Reimarus zu Wrede: Eine Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung
(Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1906); ET: The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical
Study of its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede (London: A. & C. Black, 1910; repr. with
“Introduction” by J. M. Robinson; New York: Macmillan, 1968; rev. ed., Die
Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung, 1913; 6th ed., 1951).
or later “settings” in the life of the early Church (Sitze im Leben),
while the theological agenda appealed to “de-mythologizing” and to
existentialism to steer liberal Protestantism through the shoals of
Strauss and Schweitzer. But by mid-century cracks in the cement
were forming, and a 1953 lecture given by Prof. Ernst Käsemann
is now widely regarded as providing the impetus for re-opening a
“New Quest” for the historical Jesus.
4
Now we are at the turn of another century, and another scholar
surely of Schweitzer’s caliber seems to be arguing that it is time once
again to close down the historical approach to Jesus. Closure to this
approach is necessary not because we think we have recovered Jesus
the man (as Schweitzer’s generation believed), but because the approach
is either yielding too many different Jesuses or because, as in the
case of some of the more prominent members of the Jesus Seminar,
it is inducing otherwise good scholars to come up with apparently
silly conclusions.
5
Synchronic, historical scholarship seems unable to
deliver what it promises. Just as Käsemann’s 1953 lecture is cited
to mark the beginning of the so-called “New Quest” period, one
cannot help but wonder whether thirty years from now scholars will
regard Professor Neusner’s essay here as a seminal contribution to
the emergence of a “New No-Quest Period.”
Professor Neusner quite rightly hopes that this time the alterna-
tive to the historical study of Jesus will not be a theological alterna-
tive but a genuinely religious studies alternative. This is where the
introductory portions of his paper are especially valuable. The whole
enterprise of religious studies has emerged in the latter half of this
century, and Neusner believes that it is today sufficiently mature to
support and to reward the study of Jesus. Because religious studies
is interested in the exemplary as opposed to the unique, and because
it has been informed to a degree by social science perspectives, reli-
gious studies at heart is a comparative enterprise. Jesus must there-
fore be given a comparable companion, and Neusner has found one
in rabbinic Judaism. The juxtaposition or reciprocal comparison of
the two will shed important new light on the structure of both
4
E. Käsemann, “Das Problem des historischen Jesus,” ZTK 51 (1954) 125–53;
repr. in Käsemann, Exegetische Versuche und Besinnungen (vol. 1; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck
& Ruprecht, 1960) 187–214; ET: “The Problem of the Historical Jesus,” in Käsemann,
Essays on New Testament Themes (SBT 41; London: SCM Press, 1964) 15–47.
5
See C. Allen, “Away with the Manger,” Lingua franca (February 1995) 1ff.
70 o.nv nrniox
Christianity and Judaism as religious systems. This, according to
Neusner, is the agenda that should justify the study of Jesus in the
twenty-first century, not the lingering hope of “finding the authentic
historical person.”
II
Because I am a specialist neither in New Testament nor in early
rabbinic Judaism, my remarks here must necessarily be brief and
general.
(A) Professor Neusner seems to presume as self-evident the value
of the sorts of generalizations that accompany diachronic or para-
digmatic thinking (as opposed to synchronic and historical thinking)
and that are characteristic of the social sciences. Many will surely
question whether such generalization is really all that desirable. The
rationalization that “The social scientists do it” may turn off as many
people as it turns on. In my field—Hebrew Bible—we have seen
many studies where scholars, frustrated by the lack of sufficient his-
torical data, have adopted a kind of diachronic/paradigmatic approach
seeking the kinds of generalizations characteristic of the social sci-
ences.
6
One such study established a diachronic comparison between
the Hebrew prophets and the wider religious phenomena that anthro-
pologists call “intermediation.”
7
There are indeed formal parallels
between Hebrew prophets and, say, African intermediaries. This facil-
itated many generalizations about the Hebrew prophets, most of
which were extremely weak if not flat-out wrong. Generalization—
especially generalization based upon formal comparisons of superficial
traits—invites caricature: the line is sometimes very fine separating
the enlightening epitome from the grotesque distortion. Perhaps noth-
ing in New Testament studies illustrates this quite so clearly as the
“Jesus-as-Cynic” hypothesis.
8
6
See G. Herion, “The Impact of Modern and Social Science Assumptions on
the Reconstruction of Israelite History,” JSOT 34 (1986) 3–33.
7
Herion (“The Impact of Modern and Social Science Assumptions,” 10–14) con-
tains a more detailed critique of this comparative study of Hebrew prophets and
African intermediaries.
8
See most recently David Seeley, “Jesus and the Cynics Revisited,” JBL 116
(1997) 704–12. Seeley seems eager to insist that the “Jesus as Cynic” scholars are
not really making strictly synchronic claims about historical connections, but are
xrtsxrn’s “cox+rx+s or covr.nisox” 71
(B) Related to this, Neusner proposes a fundamental contrast
between synchronic/historical thinking on the one hand and dia-
chronic/paradigmatic thinking on the other. His remarks here gen-
erally strike me as true. However, some will surely argue that between
these polar opposites lies a third type of thinking that is on the one
hand diachronic (aware that “the past forms a vivid presence, but the
present also takes place in the past”) yet on the other hand is his-
torical (i.e., committed to “time-bound judgments” and disinterested
in any patterns, models or paradigms—might we say “myths”?—that
exist in a timeless world). This “middle option” is an awareness of
what Ferdnand Braudel called la longue durée—an appreciation that
some things in a given cultural matrix are so deeply etched as to
be relatively impervious to the impact of momentary events and per-
sons (e.g., the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE) or even to cen-
turies of repeated socio-political change and even upheaval (e.g., the
sequence of Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman imperialists).
9
Neusner
would probably agree:
By diachronic comparison I mean the consideration of evidence con-
cerning (a) Judaism that took shape over a long period of time but
reached closure only long after the death of Jesus himself. When we
compare large-scale, long-lasting structures—beliefs, myths, practices
attested over time but not necessarily present at some one moment—
we compare religious systems in large aggregates. We claim that an
inner logic renders coherent a variety of beliefs, myths, and practices,
which hold together over a long time, elements of which may surface
here or there, in this setting or that. . . . When we define a context
formed by large-scale, continuing structures, we transcend the limits
of time and ascend to the level of enduring culture. (p. 54)
Perhaps religion is what drives la longue durée in the same way that
the interplay of powerful politicians drives the moment.
Before jettisoning the historical enterprise altogether, one cannot
help but wonder whether New Testament historians might simply
basically drawing analogies (pp. 705–706). If he is correct (and I am not convinced
that he is), then one could argue that the “Jesus as Cynic” scholars are merely
employing a type of paradigmatic, comparative (religious studies) approach similar
to that advocated by Neusner. Most of the heat generated by this “Jesus-as-Cynic”
debate concerns precisely whether the comparison captures the quintessence of the
man Jesus or renders a vulgar distortion.
9
Braudel’s sense of the different levels of historical time is found in two of his
works: The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (2 vols.,
London: Collins, 1972); and On History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980).
72 o.nv nrniox
do better history if they took this seriously. Perhaps the problem
with the synchronic comparisons is simply that scholars have been
forced to utilize too narrow a range of (text-based) parallels. It seems
to me that this range has been constricted by two factors: one is
chronological, and the other is sociological. New Testament schol-
ars have simply exhausted the options traditionally provided by the
texts produced by learned Jewish elites between the 2nd century
BCE and the 1st century CE.
10
But if we couple a respect for la
longue durée with an appreciation for the religious viability of the con-
servative countryside (which was usually either ignored or arrogantly
denigrated by the learned elite under the dismissive label 'am ha"ares),
then we see a potentially wider range of possible parallels.
11
It may
be premature to abandon all synchronic study altogether.
The lack of such historical respect for la longue durée is obvious in
every “Introduction to the New Testament” textbook on the mar-
ket—at least it is obvious to most Hebrew Bible specialists who must
also teach New Testament courses in small liberal arts colleges. The
pattern is predictable: a cursory paragraph (or two at most) covers
Abraham to 586 BCE, another paragraph focuses on the Persian
period, but the real coverage begins with Alexander the Great and
the introduction of Hellenism, under the (questionable?) assumption
that this had a deep and widespread impact on everything.
12
A great
deal is appropriately said about the Maccabees and the four major
sects described by Josephus (and, of course, the famous Dead Sea
Scrolls, in which New Testament scholars initially had no interest!),
but the overall impression that results from such an unbalanced intro-
duction is that Jesus is more explicable in Hellenistic Jewish terms
than in ancient Israelite ones. While this probably accommodates
the graduate school language-training of most New Testament schol-
ars, it does not necessarily accommodate historical reality. If, for
10
In this respect it is not surprising that New Testament scholars are now sys-
tematically seeking parallels in non-Jewish Hellenistic texts. See P. W. van der Horst,
“Corpus Hellenisticum Novi Testamenti,” ABD 1.1157–61.
11
George E. Mendenhall, “The Palestinian Grassroots Origins of New Testament
Christology,” in R. J. Hoffmann and G. A. Larue (eds.), Jesus in History and Myth
(Buffalo: Prometheus, 1986) 79–86; and idem, “Jesus and the New Testament
Reformation: The Renewal of an Old Faith,” in Mendenhall, Ancient Israel’s Faith
and History: An Introduction to the Bible in Context (ed. G. A. Herion; Louisville: John
Knox Press, 2001) 203–31.
12
Given this assumption, it was only a matter of time before someone concluded
that Jesus was a Cynic or that he was fundamentally shaped by Cynic philosophy.
xrtsxrn’s “cox+rx+s or covr.nisox” 73
example, Jesus was a “reformer”—i.e., a teacher who sought to bring
present religious structures back in line consistent with more archaic
and more authoritative Israelite patterns
13
—then this historical option
can never be recognized because almost everything before 330 BCE
or 586 BCE has been ruled out as relatively inconsequential.
The cursory treatments of New Testament history extend beyond
the events of 70 CE. Sprinkled hither and yon in the textbooks are
references to the “Council of Jamnia” of 90 CE, and a sentence or
two leaps us ahead to Bar Kochba (132–135 CE). All this is polit-
ical history. The last chapter of these textbooks will, of course, refer
to Constantine and the Council of Nicea, with perhaps a quick nod
in the direction of Yohanan ben-Zakkai, Judah ha-Nasi, the Mishnah,
and the Talmud. The message is clear: not much after 90 CE pro-
vides insight into New Testament literature, particularly into Jesus
and the gospels. Professor Neusner correctly thinks that this is wrong.
He also says that “a further trait of historical thinking is the lin-
earity of events, a sense of the teleology of matters . . . Past was then
but leads to now.”
14
Some might object that viewing events in strict
linear fashion is not a trait of historical thinking per se but rather
of simplistic historical thinking. I suspect that Professor Neusner is not
as stridently opposed to responsible historical studies as some might
infer from his essay. In fact, it is precisely such historical considera-
tions that in the first place suggest to him that we should compare
the gospels with early rabbinic sources and not with, say, Confucius
or Benjamin Franklin. Whether consciously or not, the selection of
early rabbinic literature as a point of comparison signals an aware-
ness (or suspicion) that some things in a given cultural matrix are
so deep as to be relatively impervious to the impact of momentary
events or even to centuries of repeated socio-political change and
upheaval. I suspect it also signals Neusner’s awareness that poten-
tially demonstrable historical continuities, not just paradigmatic religious
13
See John Bailey, “Jesus as Reformer,” in L. Orlin (ed.), Michigan Oriental Studies
in Honor of George G. Cameron (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, Dept. of Near
Eastern Studies, 1976) 311–29. It seems to me that recent attempts by New Testament
scholars to label Jesus as some type of “prophet” tend to downplay the ancient
Israelite connection or to emphasize merely formal similarities, to overemphasize the
dependence upon the apocalypticism that was popular in certain Jewish circles at
the time, or reductionistically to equate “prophetic reform” with socio-political
activism.
14
Neusner, “Contexts of Comparison,” 56.
74 o.nv nrniox
studies comparisons, exist across (despite?) the centuries. In this regard,
one suspects that the juxtaposition of a “religious studies” approach
over against an “historical” one needs re-thinking. They both have
a role to play.
But let us not mistake the radical implications of Neusner’s pro-
gram for the usual conduct of historical criticism. Even (Especially?)
if we acknowledge the vitality of la longue durée, will historians truly
be willing to begin “swimming upstream” against the cascading pro-
gression of time (especially since they have been so reluctant even
to “swim” too far down the chronological timeline)? For example,
will an Old Testament scholar introduce a study of the Hebrew
prophets (or of premonarchic Israel, a time when God was melek,
“king”) with a thorough review of Jesus’ understanding of “the king-
dom of God,” or of the early rabbis’ notion of the totality of life
lived under Torah? What if it should be true, for example, that no
one so thoroughly understood the core of St. Paul’s thought as did
Martin Luther? How will we respond to a monograph on Paul’s
concept of justification that begins with an introductory overview of
Luther’s thought?
Such thoughts tease us as teachers of religious studies, even though
we may still feel compelled, as historians, to reject them on tradi-
tionally solid methodological grounds. Nevertheless, as Neusner cor-
rectly senses, they still tease us with possibilities.
xrtsxrn’s “cox+rx+s or covr.nisox” 75
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THE GOSPELS AND RABBINIC LITERATURE
Herbert W. Basser
Introduction
The Academic Study of New Testament and Midrash
The academic study of the New Testament in historical relation to
Judaism has been a topic of some interest for over a century. The
two central questions that have been addressed are: (1) If Jesus lived
totally as a Jew, how can it be that his name is revered as the Lord
of a religion that is unlike Judaism? (2) How are we to understand
the death of Jesus; what crime did he commit that was worthy of
such punishment? To address these questions, the Gospels themselves
imply some answers that do not suffice for the historian although a
few have followed such lines. (1) The Jews rejected Jesus and in the
story of his resurrection provided the impetus for the founding of a
new religion totally outside of Judaism. (2) Jesus confronted the
authoritarian leadership of his day as being untrue to God’s man-
date and was killed for this.
1
The second answer is only indirectly
attributable to the Gospel writers but its case can be made. “It was
perhaps this unheard-of claim to authority over the Mosaic law and
over people’s lives that disturbed pious Jews and the Jewish author-
ities,” writes Johann Maier.
2
Ernst Käsemann went a step further
and claimed that Jesus cut himself from the Judaism of his day.
3
In this paper, I have no interest in speaking about the death of
Jesus, not because I think the question is without interest but because
I am incapable of forming opinions on matters that are not within
the purview of my expertise. It is the second answer here that attracts
1
Mark 3:6 comes very close to actually saying this but in the execution scenes
this motif is not brought to the fore.
2
J. Maier, Jesus von Nazareth in der Talmudischen Überlieferung (ErFor 82; Darmstadt:
Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1978) 95.
3
E. Käsemann, “Blind Alleys in the ‘Jesus of History’ Controversy,” in New
Testament Questions of Today (London: SCM Press; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1969) 51
(translated from German). In agreement with this approach is Dodd, Kümmel,
Jeremias, and many others.
my attention and that I address from a vantage of familiarity with
Jewish literature that may open up new vistas. Specifically I wish to
show that the teachings embedded in the Gospels that portray Jesus
as antagonistic to Pharisees are themselves pharisaic teachings. If
what Jesus taught astounded the people, it was not because he set
up his authority against the Pharisees but, as the evidence shows,
because he had mastered pharisaic law more than his interlocutors
had done and taught properly according to their authority. Now
when I speak of what Jesus said, I mean only what is reported in
his name and make no claims that he in fact said or did not say
anything of the sort.
The Gospels use materials from a society in which controversy
was not viewed as negative and hostile, but as didactic and as an
art-form. It is only in the language of the later gospel setting of most
of the debates that there is hostility expressed. In the substance of
the teachings, there is, for the most part, little hostility. It might well
be that the Christian framers of these traditions said things the way
they did in order to heighten the tension between Judaism and
Christianity. The debates are no longer seen as didactic exercises
between Jesus and some colleagues, but as boxing matches in which
Christianity has defeated Judaism.
Of late we have a vast array of ideas concerning Jesus’ niche in
the Judaism of his time. Harvey Falk gives us a picture of Jesus as
a Hillelite Pharisee arguing against Shammaite Pharisees.
4
The whole
debate is in house, within Pharisaism. Falk’s book is a mass of hypo-
thetical interpretations of Rabbinic, Qumranic, and Christian pas-
sages which are speculatively tied together and then presented as the
picture Rabbi Ya"akov Emden had of Jesus when he spoke of him
as an authentic Jew. Needless to say there is nothing to learn from
Falk. Nonetheless, he does remind us that Rabbi Emden, a very
learned talmudist, did not read Jesus as a heretic in the rabbinic
tradition. The attempt by Alan Segal to see Jesus’ message and his
followers’ teachings as the basis of an apocalyptic community is as
tenuous as Falk’s unfounded assertions.
5
He says, “The message of
Jesus that, with repentance, all are equal before God is typical of
4
H. Falk, Jesus the Pharisee (New York: Paulist Press, 1985).
5
A. F. Segal, “Jesus the Revolutionary,” in J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), Jesus’
Jewishness: Exploring the Place of Jesus within Early Judaism (Philadelphia: American
Interfaith Institute, 1991).
78 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
all sectarian apocalypticism of the time. Christian practices . . . are
likewise typical of the other contemporary apocalyptic groups.”
Whatever he might mean here, it is indisputable that to make such
claims he has to invent movements that he terms “apocalyptic.” He
concocts whole communities that he posits followed something called
“sectarian apocalypticism” and pretends he can tell us the messages
and practices these fanciful communities were supposed to espouse.
In fact, “apocalyptic” is a genre of literature and there is nothing
at all to justify the notion of special apocalyptic groups and com-
munities. There is no reason to suspect that all Jews did not read
the Bible’s prophetic, wisdom, apocalyptic passages as a whole. We
should not speak of prophetic or wisdom groups and we have no
reason to speak of apocalyptic groups without presenting evidence
for their existence. Falk invents unwarranted meanings for specific
passages and Segal invents unwarranted characteristics of “sectarian”
groups—whatever that term might mean. The literature he adduces
cannot identify any real groups without relying on mazes of specu-
lation that cannot allow for his firm conclusions concerning Christian
groups or justify his use the term “Jesus, the Revolutionary.”
Geza Vermes sees Jesus as a Galilean holy man who preached a
tolerance for neglect of Jewish law.
6
It might be said that the mod-
els of “holy man” he uses do not support his contention that the
“holy man” preaches a tolerance for neglect of law. Indeed, Vermes
patterns Jesus after holy men who were reported to have performed
miracles.
7
The stories told about these people, however do not at all
show they were tolerant of laxity in ritual law. Indeed, it was said
that even the donkeys of the righteous were particular about and
conscious of ritual food laws. Who are examples of these exemplary
righteous people? They are none other than the famed holy men,
Hanina ben Dosa and Phineas ben Yair. The rabbinic presumption
about holy men, as cited for example in b. Ta'an. 24b, Hul. 7a, "Abot
R. Nat. chap. 8, is that of men who were unrelenting about ritual
principles. Also, I do not think Vermes’ very characterization of Jesus
as one who preached a general tolerance for laxity in Jewish laws
is accurate. Nor do I find any evidence for Vermes’s claim that Jesus
6
See G. Vermes, “Jesus the Jew,” in Charlesworth (ed.), Jesus’ Jewishness, as well
as his Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels (London: Collins; Philadelphia:
Fortress, 1973).
7
See Vermes, Jesus the Jew, 65–82.
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 79
was indicted by patrician Sadducees who could not condone his chal-
lenge to the established order. At every step we are faced with pure
speculation.
The most influential writer on these issues is E. P. Sanders. Sanders
in an early work claims Jesus is not a midrashist nor a halakhic
midrashist,
8
and did not deal with matters through interpretation.
9
For Sanders, Jesus, by telling someone not to bury his father, but
to follow Jesus instead, may show Jesus was prepared to say that to
follow him superseded all acts of religious piety. In general Sanders
agrees with those who find that Jesus believed himself to be living
at the dawn of a New Era, the Age of the Eschaton, and the Torah
as it was meant to be would not always suit the New Age. But that
was for the future—in the here and now Sanders concurs that Jesus
did not allow that the Torah had been superseded. He discusses the
issues and concludes such to be the case on the bases of his analy-
sis. In his most recent word on the subject Sanders again avows that
Jesus was not at odds with the Pharisees and proceeds to discuss
points which bring Jesus’ words into conformity with what Sanders
would see to be pharisaic practice—as based upon Sander’s own,
not too far off-the-mark, understanding of rabbinic literature.
10
This
is a more definite presentation than he had given before. In general
I agree that there is not much room to see the rules of Jesus or his
hermeneutics in tension with rabbinic extra-scriptural tradition and
so by implication, perhaps, with pharisaic extra-scriptural tradition.
At least in this regard one can argue that rabbinic law preserves
pharisaic traditions to the extant that we find shared laws in New
Testament and talmudic literature.
Nevertheless, I do take issue with Sanders’s presentation. His
agenda is simply to show the agreement of Jesus’ words with phar-
isaic positions. Where he cannot do this he either posits that those
cases are retroversions (for example plucking grain on the Sabbath)
back to the time of Jesus and not really solid traditions of a pre-
Easter record; or he interprets matters so generally that he does not
meet the obvious objections that should be raised. In my presenta-
tion I cite the very rabbinic rules, which precisely pertain to the
cases in the Gospels. My analysis is based on passages neglected by
8
E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (London: SCM Press, 1985) 247.
9
Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 255.
10
See E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London; Penguin, 1993).
80 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
Sanders that are not subject to the same criticisms one might level
at Sander’s somewhat general or ambiguous discussions. Furthermore,
I do not allow myself the luxury of claiming retrojections unless I
can document how the pericope was formed and find the pieces
from which it was formulated and argue cogently the passages are
post Jesus and artificial. Indeed, the only case I so argue is the case
of purities in Mark 7 and Matthew 15, which Sanders also does but
on grounds of probability rather than strict textual analysis. My work
is more probing and I think more cogent. There are many critiques
of Sanders’s work in detail that one might raise but in principle his
assertion about the nature of the debates between Jesus and the
Pharisees is accurate.
My position on these issues is quite simple. I will argue we do
have examples of classical Midrash in the Gospels. Furthermore, I
will argue that the Jesus we meet in the Gospels is very aware of
pharisaic law and in general does not criticize it, even if he criti-
cizes certain Pharisees for many things; one of them being that they
do not even know their own laws. His correction of the Pharisees
is not meant as a dismissal of them but as a restatement of the
proper law, of which his interlocutors did not show a proper aware-
ness. Jesus uses hermeneutical methods which we find in rabbinic
literature and that I will refer to as pharisaic, although they were
probably not exclusively so. In this chapter, I have no claims about
what Jesus may have or may not have said. I am interested in the
Gospel accounts and their meanings, but always in an attempt to
uncover the primal sense of the words apart from how the Gospel
writers present them in context. What kinds of ideas were in the
traditions that the evangelists inherited? That is the question I ask.
At no point should readers construe me to make any claims that
any statements in the Gospels were or were not the ipsissima verba
of Jesus.
One assumption I make should be made clear. Where shared
idiom and law occur between the words of Jesus and teachings pre-
served in rabbinic literature I posit that this is not mere coincidence,
nor that the Rabbis copied the ideas out of the New Testament.
The differences between the formulations is enough to show us that
we do not have a copied tradition in rabbinic literature but we have
the record of a more ancient corpus of material, whose antiquity
the Gospels attest, while the rabbinic literature bears witness to their
details. One can show certain phrases used in the New Testament
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 81
are simply Greek counterparts of Hebrew or Jewish-Aramaic phrases
extant in rabbinic literature. It is obvious that rabbinic literature is
heir to the same culture that informs the Gospels. There are places
in rabbinic literature that we can show predate the Rabbis by cen-
turies. The culture and religion of Israel did not cease with the
destruction of the Temple in 70 and there is every reason to believe
that where rabbinic literature relates legal matters that we find in
the Gospels that we are dealing with a common culture. The arti-
cle by S. Schechter is a fine piece and outlines a cogent approach
to the topic.
11
We can use rabbinic literature to speak of these things
and need not even get into the issue as to the relationship between
Rabbis and Pharisees. We are dealing with traditions and not groups.
Should one want to press on and then make or deny identifications
based on the shared information one might do so. I have not done
so here because that is not the topic of this book. The use of rab-
binic literature to throw light on passages in the Gospels stands apart
from any identifications of Pharisees and Rabbis that may or may
not be implied in this light.
12
Jacob Neusner has summarized the well-known findings that mish-
naic law has ancient sources but is configured into a legal system of
its own integrity. He notes that the gospels preserve laws that are
also preserved in the Mishnah. There could be no objection to using
the one to help elucidate the other in regards to individual rules.
He tells us outright in his Judaic Law from Jesus to the Mishnah.
13
The issue therefore cannot focus upon whether or not the Mishnah
in diverse details draws upon established rules of jurisprudence. It
assuredly does. Yet another mode of demonstrating that facts in the
Mishnah’s system derive from a period substantially prior to that in
which the Mishnah reached closure carries us to the data provided by
document redacted long before the Mishnah. For one example, details
of rules in the law codes found in the library of the Essene commu-
nity of Qumran intersect with details of rules in the Mishnah. More
interesting still, accounts of aspects of Israelite life take for granted that
11
S. Schechter, “Rabbinic parallels to the New Testament,” JQR [old series] 12
(1900) 415–33.
12
I do believe an argument can be made for the overlapping of institutions dis-
tinguishing both Pharisees and Rabbis but that discussion will need to wait for a
further monograph. Nothing I say here should be taken as evidence beyond the
specific claims made in this book.
13
J. Neusner, Judaic Law from Jesus to the Mishnah (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993) 18.
82 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
issues lively in the Mishnah came under debate long before the clo-
sure of the Mishnah. The Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ encounter with
the Pharisees, among others, encompass rules of law, or topics dealt
with, important to the Mishnah. lt is, for instance, not merely the
datum that a writ of divorce severs the tie between wife and husband.
The matter of grounds for divorce proves important to sages whose
names occur in the Mishnah . . . It follows that not only isolated facts
but critical matters of jurisprudential philosophy came to the surface
long before the closure of the Mishnah. That fact yields one incontro-
vertible result. The Mishnah’s rules have to come into juxtaposition,
wherever possible, with the rules that occur in prior law codes, whether
lsraelite or otherwise. That is the case, even though it presently appears
that only a small proportion of all of the rules in the Mishnah fall
within the frame of prior documents, remote or proximate. For every
rule we can parallel in an earlier composition, the Mishnah gives us
dozens of rules that in topic, logic, or even mere detail bear no com-
parison to anything now known in a prior composition, from Sumerian
and Akkadian to Essene and Christian writers alike. (The sole excep-
tion, the Hebrew Scripture’s law codes, comes under analysis in the
next section.) Details of the law, wherever possible, still must stand in
comparison with equivalent details in earlier documents, whether nar-
rative or legislative.
Neusner goes on to say that the final product of Mishnah gives us
a reworking of the sources that is total and creates new structures
from the inherited materials. That is certainly the case. We can only
add to Neusner’s analysis that the Amoraim had also inherited ancient
materials, and were able to fit them into the system of the Mishnah
or in certain cases interpret the Mishnah in light of the ancient
sources and neglect the new formulations of the Mishnah. For instance,
the talmudic Amoraim
14
know that God is likely to forgive the sins
of those who forgive others who trespass against them, just as we
find in the “Lord’s prayer.”
15
Now, while this is not in itself any
spectacular discovery, the situation changes when we look closely at
the talmudic passage. Here we find the basis for this statement is a
phrase in Mic 7:18, “The pardoner of sins and the forgiver of tres-
passes . . .!” The talmudic Rabbis however reformulate the phrase to
mean, “Thou dost pardon sins; namely, for the one who forgives
others’ trespasses against himself.”
16
14
See b. Rosh Hash. 17a.
15
See Matt 6:12.
16
For the Jewish exegetes whether Josephus, Philo, Qumranites, Rabbis, Scripture
would not frivolously repeat words to no end. Thus, the verse should be read in
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 83
Thus we see two things: The Amoraim preserve traditions which
are attested hundreds of years before their time and also we can
find the basis of the prayer found in the New Testament and its
scriptural underpinnings. This latter point is important. One might
have thought proper prayer should say, “Forgive us for we have
sinned!” or “Forgive us for Thou art merciful.” Why should we say
to God that we are the standard of what God must do and if we
forgive others so he should forgive us too? Now we see a biblical
verse lies behind the exhortation and so we see that the Midrash
on the verse (known from Babylonian sources redacted centuries later
than the New Testament) is prior to the New Testament prayer that
presumes it. The study of Mishnah is but one resource for tapping
into the antique rules trapped for whatever reason in the pages of
the Gospels. The study of later works is also valuable.
As one reads the present work, the use of Midrash and other rab-
binic sources for uncovering the meaning of New Testament pas-
sages emerges as a necessary step in the reading of the Gospels. The
approach continues the scholarship of those scholars who still care
to apply Midrash on its own terms to writings that utilized the same
idiom and form as Midrash. The models of the enterprise as por-
trayed by others of the “Midrash as literature” schools must be set
aside for the history of Midrash as evident in New Testament. Literary
criticism of the new school will not help here to clarify anything.
Here we set aside other trends as well. Hebrew rhetorical criticism,
as opposed to the more frequently used Greek models, can have
more cogent results. In all cases it is important not only to estab-
lish the probable sense of a passage but also to show how this mean-
ing fits smoothly into the Gospel paragraph at hand. Let us look at
one example from aggadic materials which has not been discussed
in connection with the transfiguration narratives of the Gospels.
Moses, Elijah, Jesus: Light from Rabbinic Literature on Transfiguring Some
Motifs from Judaism to Christianity
In the Synoptic Gospels we find a well-attested tradition reaching
back to strata of very early Jesus-traditions. The section of narrative
such a way to expose one cogent idea and not simply a repetitive, paralleled
expression.
84 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
that attracts my attention here is the so-called Transfiguration of
Jesus (Matt 17:1–8 = Mark 9:2–8 = Luke 9:28–36): Jesus selects
three disciples and the four climb a high mountain. Then Jesus begins
to shine and his garments turn shining white and dazzle everyone.
Elijah comes with Moses and they talk to Jesus. Each Gospel has
framed things a little differently and I shall offer a few suggestions
as to how to focus upon the intent of the Gospels from rabbinic lit-
erature. My first goal is to discuss the attitudes prevalent in Judaism
that would have found a context for the figures of Moses and Elijah
and the Messiah.
17
I know of only one explicit reference in rabbinic
literature and it comes from the Midrash on the Psalms where the
three being presented seriatim. This case will be discussed below in
some detail. Here we can find matters close enough to suggest that
rabbinic literature shares some ancient traditions (in connection with
Moses and Elijah) with the Gospels. The traditions apparently have
developed differently within their respective traditions and we should
not posit direct borrowings.
18
It happens that the passage in the
Midrash to the Book of Psalms is not typically rabbinic as it lacks
the prayer and repentance motif and is likely from a source that is
much earlier than the rabbinic sources which deal with messianic
issues. Given the evidence of the Gospel accounts of the transfiguration
we should see the likelihood that our Midrash from the Book of
Psalms is most useful in understanding the background of the vari-
ous components in the Synoptic Gospels.
19
17
In later medieval Midrashim collected in J. D. Eisenstein’s Otzar Midrashim
(1915) or in S. A. Wertheimer’s Batei Midrashot (1950) we do find occasional refer-
ences to all three, but we cannot posit much about their antiquity or independence
of Christian influence.
18
With the exception of Midrash Esther, the only Midrashim I have found con-
cerning Moses and Elijah are those which compare the two. I have found at least
six in Tanhuma and at least another ten in Midrash Rabba and sometimes even
references to the first redeemer and the last redeemer. But these Midrashim just
show us that the patterns of Elijah’s life follow those of Moses (who accordingly is
sometimes called the teacher of Elijah). In Pesikta Rabbati chap. 4 one will find many,
many comparisons listed in one place. There is not much to learn for our purposes
from these listings.
19
Messianic motifs in rabbinic literature that do not deal with the personages of
Moses or Elijah are excluded from the discussion.
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 85
Moses, Elijah, and Messiah
I will now illustrate that this scene in the Gospels likely rests upon
an exegesis already formed by the first century in which the pattern
of redemption has already been set. I do not claim we totally have
that exegesis in its pristine form, but we have a form of it that will
allow us to see that the elements in the Gospel scenes have a fixed
referential point in an interpretation in the Book of Psalms which
can explain the various elements present in the Gospels. I cite Midrash
Tehillim to Psalm 43, which weaves a story about the verses of this
Psalm.
20
Psalm 43:2 states: “Why did I walk depressed because of the oppres-
sion of the enemy.” [Has not God saved me in the past and does he
not tell me now]—Did I not send you redemption (in Egypt) then as
it is said: “He SENT Moses, his servant, Aaron whom he CHOSE”
(Ps 105:26); and so He sends us another two as their counterparts, as
it is said in Ps 43:3: “Send your Light and your Truth they will lead
me . . .” So God says to them: I will send you salvation again, as it
is said, “Behold I SEND you Elijah the Prophet” (Mal 3:22–23). So
now one is named. The second one is “Yea my servant, I shall take
hold of him, my CHOSEN one [in whom I shall delight]” (Isa 42:1).
Thus does the Psalm say: “Send your Light and your Truth they will
lead me; they will bring me to your holy mountain and to your tents”
(Ps 43:3).
This is the very pattern of the Gospel account, which has Elijah
coming with Moses to meet Jesus. The priestly Aaron, virtually absent
from the Synoptics in general, is missing from this scene as well. At
any rate, the Psalm-Midrash cites Isa 42:1 and so do the Gospels
(especially Luke 9). The heavenly voice identifying Jesus as the beloved
son is the climax of this piece. The luminous cloud passes over and
announces: “This is my son: my chosen one (= my beloved) and
some Gospel versions contain ‘in whom is my delight’ that is to say
“the personage” of Isa 42:1. “My chosen one in whom is my delight”
is identified as “this”—meaning Jesus and now identified as “my
20
The text I cite is from Yalqut Shimoni to Psalm 43, which contains a slightly
different text from S. Buber’s classic edition of Midrash Tehillim (Wilna: Romm,
1891), which offers a hybrid variant of Psalm 43. On text critical grounds, too com-
plicated to explain here, the version I provide should be deemed the earliest ver-
sion. The Midrash contains early traditions tying Moses, Elijah, and the Chosen
One.
86 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
son.” The Targum to the Prophets makes no bones about whom
Isaiah refers to. It is to my servant the Messiah. The Gospels insist
that one is Jesus; not Moses and not Elijah. The point of Isaiah 42,
like the issue of Psalm 43, which frames this episode in the Gospels
is the judgment of the nations which have persecuted Israel. It is
possible that such was the original understanding of this scene. In
fact, in the Gospel accounts there is even an attempt to construct
tents and Psalm 43 pointedly refers to tents. “They will bring me
to your holy mountain and to your tents.”
I suspect that the immediate trigger for including this scene in the
Gospel tradition is the final word of Psalm 43: Yeshuot panai ve’elohai
(“The salvations of my Countenance and my God”), with Yeshuot sig-
nifying Jesus. Many biblical citations are quoted in the Gospels which
contain the word yeshua which means salvation (and Yeshu was a
common pronunciation of Yehoshua, i.e., Jesus) in them somewhere
in proximity to the quoted citation and this is but another case. Yet,
it is not Psalm 43 itself that is evoked in the Gospels but the Midrash
on the Psalm and its figures of Moses and Elijah and its messianic
references to Isa 42:1. Note also the motif of “Light” signifying a
messianic figure. In the Gospel account of the meeting of Jesus with
Moses and Elijah, Jesus becomes luminous. The elements of the
transfiguration scene are all accounted for now and this midrashic
model provides more answers than does any other model.
This Midrash occurs in what critical scholars of Midrash would
term a late source. Nevertheless there is a line of unique, similar
constellations that connects the Gospel account to the Midrash. Since
the Midrash is framed within a verse whose exegetical framework is
sufficient (and in some ways necessary as well) to explain the details
in the Gospel accounts, I suggest the exegetical context, in fact, lies
behind the Gospel narrative. The chance of coincidence or of direct
borrowing from the Gospels is very low, the chance of a common
ancestor is quite reasonable. Besides, while there are sufficient sim-
ilarities to suggest a relationship, there are also sufficient differences
to rule out direct borrowing.
The Gospel accounts show us how Jewish traditions can become
utilized for Christian purposes. This is not the case in regard to
halakhah ( Judicial legislation not found in Scriptures). In the case
of halakhah, the scribal law virtually stands as presented by Jesus in
the Gospels—and it is not for Christian purposes. Let us look at the
debate forms, which we now have in the Gospels and in our remaining
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 87
time focus on one legal debate to see how the Gospels preserve
authentic halakhic material presented in the mouth of Jesus.
Jesus-Pharisee Debates on the Sabbath
The time of the Jewish Sabbath ranks as the foremost time of impor-
tance in the Jewish religion. For Jews, no other day must be observed
as so thoroughly holy as the Sabbath must be. On that day Israel
and God meet in sacredness. This is the day to be dedicated to spir-
itual attainments. From the days of the prophets advice was set forth
on how to best derive the maximum religious benefit from the
Sabbath. Isaiah 58:13–14 shows concern for proper behavior, which
would express proper attitudes towards the Holy Sabbath day. To
look at the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath in the
light of Jewish teachings may help us understand the behavior and
attitudes to which these accounts testify and also show us the antiq-
uity of laws which otherwise might be mistaken for late rabbinic
innovations. In all cases it is likely that Jesus’ healing in itself con-
stitutes nothing that many Scribes and Pharisees would have found
as breaking Torah law. We do not know if the sources which speak
for Jesus may have envisioned that he condoned breaking the Sabbath
for all types of healing.
21
The sources may argue only from the point
of view of Jesus’ opponents, but not from Jesus’ own view, to con-
vince Pharisees that Jesus has acted according to their own rules. It
is a puzzle that the Gospel of Mark offers no defense of Jesus’ behav-
ior but only the condemnation of his opponents. We must assume
that Mark would have his chap. 7 diatribe against “human law”
22
which uproots “divine biblical rules of assistance” serve the purpose
generally to dismiss all scribal law. Nothing more is necessary. Mark
is different from Luke and Matthew who usually try to argue within
the parameters of scribal law.
While Matt 15:1–9 also has a passage parallel to Mark 7 to dis-
miss the force of scribal traditions, Matthew still tries to offer a
21
Even physically amputating where there was no possible danger in waiting
until nightfall.
22
The important point is to see that there were two sets of laws operative for
the Pharisees, Torah rules and Scribal enactments. Some examples of scribal enact-
ments that are important for the understanding of Mark can be found in t. Kelim
and t. B. Mesia 3.
88 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
scribal defense of Jesus’ healing: Why do the Pharisees complain?
Even according to their own laws I have done nothing wrong. Surely
these are simply wicked people looking for excuses to condemn me.
Since Matthew does this we have no choice but to understand that
for Matthew the diatribe against human law is not just the exam-
ple which condemns all scribal law as it is in Mark, it is specific to
the case (certain vows) discussed and no more. Matthew sees Jesus
as considerate of many scribal laws. Hence his Jesus will engage in
pharisaic reasoning. J. N. Epstein had noted that many of Jesus’
reported retorts in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are consonant
with sources in Mishnah and Tosefta.
23
He suggests that the phari-
saic opponents are not portrayed to be as learned in Jewish law as
was Jesus. Mark’s Jesus seems to dismiss pharisaic reasoning as wrong
ab initio since he never engages in scribal argument on its own terms.
While there is widely attested criticism and defense of Jesus’ heal-
ing actions in three Gospel accounts there is none in Mark. Mark
is not interested in Jesus defending any of his actions based on scribal
laws or scribal reasoning. The precise apologetic is different in each
of the Gospels. It would thus seem that the wordings of the subject
matter of debates between Jesus and Pharisees were discussed in the
early churches and then adjusted to best reconstruction.
24
The defense
strategy is different from Gospel to Gospel. Nevertheless each Gospel
presents its own justifications in terms acceptable to rabbinic cate-
gories save for Mark. Mark relies on a dismissal of these categories
since ab initio all pharisaic law contravenes Torah commandments
concerning helping others. Matthew has the very polemic found in
Mark 7 but he offers pharisaic rationales to defend Jesus in all other
instances.
In brief, there was a strong tradition that Jesus rejected only those
scribal ideas of vows that interfere with Torah social obligation, such
as respect due to parents. There is no strong tradition about him
rejecting scribal ideas concerned with healing on the Sabbath. The
Pharisees in the debates presume that Jesus is in error. Then Jesus
offers defenses that meet the requirements of scribal categories. That
23
See J. N. Epstein, Prolegomena ad Litteras Tannitica ( Jerusalem: Magnes, 1957)
280–81.
24
Our investigation will show us that concepts in Jewish law spoken about widely
in the 17th century, mentioned spottily in the 14th century (as standing behind 5th-
century talmudic argument) seem already popular in the first century.
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 89
is to say, Jesus is criticized by those who believe he has transgressed
scribal law and Jesus points out that he, in truth, has not.
That Mark, generally, has no defenses of Jesus’ Sabbath healing
may simply indicate Mark understood religion to be defined by con-
frontation. Jesus and the Pharisees were enemies. A pharisaic Jesus
would make no sense to him. Thus the placing of the oath and vow
controversy in the midst of Jesus’ healing is designed to highlight
Jesus moral character as a healer. Mark follows another tradition
and records a received diatribe against those scribal “purity and
vow” laws that appear to contradict divine authority as found in
Scripture. Mark places this singular diatribe into the context of Jesus’
healing. The total effect on the reader is to give the impression that
healing rules, indeed all scribal rules are dismissed. This literary jux-
taposition accomplishes what received tradition did not even imply.
Matthew has combined both approaches, even though they are incon-
sistent, and he would never allow, that for Jesus, all or even most
scribal law is to be discarded. The Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses.
25
Scribal Tradition
The Mishnah and Tosefta record many Sabbath rulings that were
prohibited by Scribes but not considered prohibited by Torah law.
The Tosefta discusses the origins of scribal “muktseh type”
26
prohi-
bitions.
27
Since these types of decrees discuss Temple practices, the
firm Palestinian and Babylonian traditions claiming these date to
Second Temple times are warranted. These rules are of man made
origin—and each of these laws had a rationale and a hierarchy of
importance in the total scheme of things, e.g., to protect people from
mistakenly transgressing biblical laws. Certain priorities of urgency
can override scribal rules in certain circumstances. These rules were
circulated and practiced but not frequently discussed.
28
New Testament
25
See Matt 23:2.
26
I.e., the scribes legislated instances when animals and certain utensils would
be forbidden to be handled on the Sabbath.
27
t. Shab. 14.1 is discussed in b. Shab. 123b, which mentions that both the
Palestinian and Babylonian authorities date the laws of “muktseh” to Second Temple
times.
28
This “public silence” as to when Rabbinic law might be mitigated was justified
on the basis that divine honor was at stake.
90 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
writings such as the expression in Matt 12:11 “seizing and lifting”
would seem to confirm the impression of the antiquity of these laws.
29
Scribal law was accorded very deep respect and not easily allowed
to be disregarded. Thus even when certain rules were overridden, they
were overridden in ways commensurate with scribal priorities. Relax
this minor law rather than another. The principal reasons adduced
by the majority of authorities to suspend scribal laws forbidding lift-
ing/moving animals or non-prepared utensils (items not set aside
before the Sabbath specifically for use on the Sabbath) were for the
sake of: enabling important good deeds such as Sabbath Torah study
or Sabbath hospitality; easing pain to animals, calming people about
loss of belongings.
The Problem
The problem in the Synoptics is that we do not know the precise
accusation against Jesus. What is Jesus accused of? Since his defenses
argue from those occasions in which the Pharisees themselves also
appear to have relaxed scribal law, we will have to assume that the
accusation against him was only that he transgressed some scribal
laws. However in Luke 13:14, the president of the synagogue quoted
Exod 31:15 to him, “Six days work may be done.” This leads one
to believe that he was criticized for desecrating biblical laws. I sug-
gest we retrovert the Hebrew to mean “Six days he may be repaired
through work.” This is the sense that is intended—Jesus is criticized
for repairing people on the Sabbath. Sforno (sixteenth-century Jewish
Italian Bible commentator) comments here: “When it is possible to
do a commandment on another day, the Sabbath is not moved aside
for it.” This is the objection. Apparently Jesus broke some law. Was
it a Torah Law? The official, as we noted, cites Scripture. Jesus
responds by mentioning a law involving relaxing scribal injunctions
against untying real knots that are untied daily. Amongst other things
we see the Sages permitted bundles of sheaves to be untied (a rab-
binic prohibition) for the sake of feeding one’s animal.
30
Are we sup-
posed to think that the Gospels make no distinction between scribal
29
The prohibition of muktseh is that of seizing and lifting (tiltul ) objects that are
in categories that preclude normal handling on the Sabbath.
30
m. Shab. 24:2.
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 91
and Torah law? Do they think all Sabbath law is of the same author-
ity. Perhaps we are to think that Jesus is specifically accused of vio-
lating Torah law.
31
The Solution
Let us now ask ourselves, “Precisely what upset his opponents in his
actions?” There are talmudic passages that lend themselves to the
idea that if a condition will not at all worsen until the close of the
Sabbath, all rabbinic laws
32
and biblical laws are in force in respect
to this person. On the other hand there are reasons to say the oppo-
site—in respect to a person who is in pain, all laws are suspended
for his welfare. Jesus, according to the Gospel, argued the other side
of the in-house debate which held that certain acts of healing which
did not transgress biblical laws were permitted. It was agreed that
(oral) biblical acts of healing that were forbidden on the Sabbath
included boiling, grinding, lighting, cutting etc. and these were not
the subject of the debate. These acts were known from pharisaic
ideas concerning the Oral Bible.
It still may be possible to think the charge against Jesus for healing
on the Sabbath was one of breaking Torah law. He mended a body.
m. 'Ed. 1:8 might have us believe that correcting a nonfunctioning
human organ on the Sabbath, where there was no danger of the
condition worsening, might constitute an act of prohibitions of the
Oral Bible of “fixing” or “building.” That possibility certainly exists.
If so, the New Testament arguments are not persuasive. Relaxing a
rabbinic injunction is not the same as relaxing an Oral Torah law.
The arguments would fall apart. However, the cases in 'Eduyot seem
to be ones in which something physical is made in the body to
relieve a non-vital irritation. In the cases presented in the Gospels
no incisions or reconstructions were made in the organs or flesh.
Jesus heals by touching.
33
I should think the Gospels are dealing with
rabbinic strictures against Sabbath healing where there is no need
31
It is doubtful this is the case for reasons we will now discuss.
32
Lest one come to violate the biblical law by permitting grinding medicines
unnecessarily, see b. Shab. 53b.
33
Such things are discussed as generally permissible in t. Shab. 7.23. Cf. b. Sanh.
101a.
92 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
to heal on the Sabbath itself. The defenses offered in the synoptic
Gospels of Luke and Matthew seem to address scribal/rabbinic issues
of the Sabbath and not Torah ones. They are on the surface quite
viable. The president of the synagogue, in Luke 13:14, cited Exod
31:15, in order to remind Jesus that the Scribes also did not relax
their laws except in cases which could not be deferred until the night
after the Sabbath day. He was not only referring to biblical laws
but also to rabbinic ones which had the framework of Exod 31:15.
Here the literal words of the verse are redundant “Sabbath-Sabbatical”
and the Sages of scribal law saw here a secondary reference to rules
to be added by the Rabbis to ensure Sabbath observance on its
purest level. The verse served as a kind of general reference to those
occasions to which the scribal laws might be applied. What was
taken as pertinent to biblical law would serve the category of scribal
law as well.
Although the common and popular rule was that no manner of
healing for benign cases was permitted, according to Matthew and
Luke, Jesus declared this rule to be contradictory to scribal law.
Since scribal law was relaxed for animals, it should be relaxed for
humans as well in cases of benign conditions. In other words, for
different reasons, he reached the same rule of behavior described by
Rabbi Kagan (early 20th century). Jesus thought that the teaching
was erroneous that proclaimed no healing
34
might be done on the
Sabbath when the condition was benign. Jesus thus justified his own
behavior in a halachically acceptable way.
The Rhetoric
The rhetorical features of many Gospel debates are cast in this mold:
Statement of opponent’s ANALOGOUS legal practice as a question:
“Is not this your practice in similar cases to our discussion?”
Conclusion: Therefore you must agree with me to be consistent.
In close detail we see how what is being addressed fits a standard
form:
34
Even where biblical law was kept intact.
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 93
Legal assumption: (a) Something indeed looks problematic and in gen-
eral your position is right. (b) Here by analogy is why this case is an
exception.
Understood Conclusion: We can now both agree that I am correct.
The Pharisiac-Sadducean argument in m. Yad. 4:5 echoes this form
precisely. The Sadducees complain about pharisaic practice of not
venerating certain scrolls revered by some groups. Rabbi Yohanan
ben Zakkai asks them if they do not revere the bones of their own
revered High Priest more than they would a donkey’s bones and
then provides the argument that they must likewise agree with the
pharisaic practice that was challenged. The implicit argument is that
the works under discussion (homoros—probably those Torah Scrolls
used by the ‘foolish’ nation = ho moros of Samaritans ) have the value
of donkey bones (hamor). Here, aside from the cute phonic similar-
ity, we have the ideal argument form, which was noted above. The
Sadducees are given an example from their own revered High Priest,
with which they will agree. This clinches the argument.
Let us now see how this form operates in the Gospels. Scribal
law as we know it, in its essentials, is much more ancient than the
post-70 Rabbis.
35
A body of tradition has emanated from ancient
communities and is still recognizable and traceable today. Given this
state of affairs we need to evaluate those laws mentioned in the
Gospels that a modern student of Jewish Law would still recognize
and on this basis look at the hermeneutic and rhetoric of New
Testament passages.
1. Matthew
Matthew 12:10–13. Apologetic for curing on the Sabbath a man with
a shriveled hand.
36
Statement of ANALOGOUS Legal Practice as a Question: If you have
a single sheep and it falls into a hole on the Sabbath, do you not lay
hold of it and lift it out?
Argument: A person is worth more than a sheep whose pain you
do ease on the Sabbath.
35
Not only can the New Testament confirm the antiquity of legal principles of
early Rabbis, it can also for medieval and modern ones.
36
While he too is cured in Luke and Mark, Jesus’ defense in Luke is offered in
two other cases, while no defense is given in Mark.
94 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
Conclusion: Therefore one may legally render aid on the Sabbath
to ease pain for a person.
Legal Assumption: (a) Touching and lifting a sheep constitutes a
Sabbath infringement. (b) Because of the value of the sheep and the
need to reduce its pain the infringement is overridden.
Understood Conclusion: All healing which helps a human being is
permitted on the Sabbath.
2. Luke
Luke 14:3–5. Apologetic for curing a man on the Sabbath who was
swollen with fluids.
Statement of ANALOGOUS Legal Practice as a Question: If your
donkey or ox falls in a well on Sabbath, do you not pull it out imme-
diately?
Understood legal argument: All the more so humans may be helped.
Legal Assumption: (a) It is forbidden to lift out a donkey or an ox
on the Sabbath. (b) In order to relieve the animal’s pain the infringe-
ment is overridden.
Understood Conclusion: Healing to relieve pain is permissible.
Discussion
The earliest extant specific teachings concerning an animal stuck in
a pit on the Sabbath are found in the Damascus Document (CD
11:13): If an animal falls into a cistern or into a well let him not
pull it out on the Sabbath. A post-New Testament record found in
t. Shab. 14.3 states: if an animal falls into a pit, then one should feed
it food there (i.e., but not extricate it) so that it should not die. The
Babylonian Amoraim thought that this meant if the animal could
stay comfortably then one should feed it in its place, but if it would
cause the animal pain to stay put then it could be removed even
though this would entail infringing upon a minor scribal decree. See
b. Shab. 128b. They followed the reasoning that animal pain had to
be absolutely relieved by Torah decree (Exod 23:5 concerning an
animal under stress states “You shall surely help”) and this Torah
injunction could override some scribal prohibitions of the Sabbath.
Although we have no Tannaitic statements like this, the antiquity of
the late Babylonian Amoraic tradition is born out by the early New
Testament statement of Jesus. The practice of alleviating pain for
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 95
animals stuck in pits dates to Second Temple times, although the
written Jewish sources are attested relatively late.
The point is that the early Damascus Document and the later
Tosefta do not mention any permission to extricate the animal
although the Tosefta implies that steps should be taken if the ani-
mal is in danger of dying. Not until the later age of the Babylonian
Amoraim do we find that where an animal is in pain methods might
be adopted to extricate it even though scribal decrees might be
infringed. That is the evidence of the Jewish sources. When we look
at Christian sources we find the very same laws as in the Talmud
allowing extrication but these sources are centuries earlier than the
talmudic ones. One possible conclusion is that the Gospels preserve
ancient rulings that were passed down orally within Judaism until
they were set down by the Rabbis quite late.
Is this actually the case? Let us show it is. Animals are catego-
rized as “non-Sabbath items” and thus not to be moved.
37
Since the
New Testament uses the expression “lay hold of and lift” we see the
problem is one of scribal “muktseh”—“animals are not set aside for
Sabbath use” and so must not be taken and lifted. The Scribes pre-
scribed that “muktseh” items are not to be taken and lifted. In the
need to justify a teaching the Babylonian Talmud reveals there could
be a rule of hefsed meruba (substantial loss).
38
The Talmud posited that
if something was of small value it could not be rescued by over-rid-
ing scribal law.
39
This is said to be the idea behind m. Shab. 24:1.
We now infer that where something was of great value it could be
rescued and, if necessary, even at the expense of scribal law.
40
The passages dealing with alleviating animal pain can be found
in b. Shab. 128b. That scribal prohibitions are overridden in cases
of doing important good deeds is discussed in m. Shab. 18:1 and the
commentaries of the Talmuds on it. These insights gathered over
the centuries place the Gospels within a tradition much closer to the
thinking patterns of rabbinic Judaism not only of antiquity but of
later times. That is to say that the life force of Judaism that gets
into written form at certain points can be some much more ancient
37
See b. Shab. 128b and t. Shab. 15.1.
38
Permission to override scribal Sabbath Law where an object is of great value
to its owner.
39
See b. Shab. 154b.
40
See b. Shab. 153a.
96 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
than the written evidence suggests. That is so because the thought
patterns and the principles are well established and similar answers
to similar problems are either independently arrived at or handed
down more or less verbatim. At any rate there can be no doubt
that the New Testament sources are concerned with issues of rab-
binic decrees and so too in the case of healing. In fact, the Damascus
document refers to two types of pits an animal might fall into. There
are two versions of the Tosefta which have different words for “pit.”
Matthew and Luke have variant wordings for “pit.” Not only is the
tradition similar throughout the sources, the variant readings are too.
3. Matthew 12:1–8 = Mark 2:23–28 = Luke 6:1–5
On picking sheaves. The story reads as follows:
At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; his
disciples [plucked and ate some ears of grain, rubbing them in their
hands (Luke’s version)] were hungry and they began to eat. But when
the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing
what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have
you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who
were with him: how he entered the House of God and ate the Shew
Bread, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were
with him, but only for the priests? [Or have you not read in the Law
how on the Sabbath the priests in the Temple profane the Sabbath
and are guiltless? I tell you something greater than the Temple is here,
and if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not
sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the guiltless (Matthew’s ver-
sion)]. And he said to them, [“The Sabbath was made for man, not
man for the Sabbath (Mark’s version)]. For the Son of Man is lord
of the Sabbath.”
All the problems, textual and conceptual, inherent in unraveling
Jesus/Pharisee debates can be found in this one example. It seems
that the Evangelists had little idea about the details of Jewish laws,
and only by careful analysis can we establish what lay behind their
words. I will deal with this example at length for it shows us that
what Christian theologians have seen as radical “Son of Man over-
ruling cruel Biblical prohibitions” is the product of the Gospels’ lit-
erary layer but not the prior source. We must note that in all cases
in legal debates about Sabbath in the Synoptics, the question of dis-
pute revolves around scribal laws and whether or not the question-
ing Pharisees know these laws as well as they think they do. The
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 97
debate about eating in the fields is of this order too. When people
pluck out grain for themselves, then push out the kernel of wheat
in an unusual or rare circumstance, the biblical Sabbath rules are
not violated (b. Shab. 128a and t. Shab. 9 list the items which can-
not be plucked for weeding or animal consumption; but human con-
sumption is another matter). In Mark we must assume that the paired
plucking and rubbing of the kernels is to show they were hard and
taken from the field in an ad hoc way. Ears of grain were not usu-
ally plucked one by one from fields as against the more common
harvesting, threshing methods in use at the time. b. Shab. 103a records
a very early tradition that specifies the types of plants that are for-
bidden by biblical law to be plucked and ears of grain are not men-
tioned. Furthermore this tradition notes that in fields not belonging
to the plucker one would not transgress the prohibition of clearing
and pruning fields. Another source, b. Besa 13b, contains examples
of the rabbinic rules of “shinui” (change from regular manner) to
show specifically that rubbing kernels of ripened grain to eat was
unusual. Such unusual acts were not considered biblical prohibitions.
It follows that what is described in the Gospels would be forbidden
by a scribal prohibition and not a biblical one.
We must therefore accept Luke’s detail here as original: the dis-
ciples rubbed them. We also note that Matthew says nothing about
plucking which he might have understood as some kind of prohibi-
tion in this circumstance. Since Luke has shown no stake in his
Gospel about distinguishing scribal laws from biblical ones, we must
assume Luke’s version is an ancient one which he simply preserved,
probably unaware of its import.
“And he said to them,” as the prelude to “For the Son of Man
is lord of the Sabbath,” is missing in Matthew. Matthew has instead
provided his own understanding of the saying by prefacing it with
the notice that priests may profane the Sabbath in the Temple; thus
the disciples may also, since they are in the presence of the Son of
Man. Matthew claims the Torah tells about Temple sacrifices on
the Sabbath. No other Gospel claims this, and it seems likely that
Matthew’s version was added for explanation. However, we will have
to disregard Matthew’s claim about reading this in Scripture and
assume this claim is trivial and only there by function of its res-
onation with “Have you not read what David did?” These words
are to help us understand the final line—“the Son of Man is lord
of the Sabbath.”
98 nrnnrn+ v. n.ssrn
Let us look at this closely. The defense of Jesus is precisely to the
point: we know David properly overrode biblical law, and so we
know biblical law can be superseded. It is a talmudic principle that
whatever the scribes enact must follow biblical models, overriding
laws is now found in the model. Furthermore, the scribes allowed
that in the Temple, much scribal law was suspended because they
assumed the Temple authorities would be careful and watchful that
no biblical ones would come to be infringed. So this shows indeed
scribal laws can be infringed where there is watchfulness (the awe
of the Temple itself provides such). Jesus argues the Son of Man is
greater than the Temple, which must mean his own presence on
the scene demands more watchfulness than the presence of Temple
authorities in the Temple would—and so the scribal infringement
would not apply in this case either. It is not clear the Pharisees were
thrilled by this answer, but they have been assured by the type of
argument that the infringement is of a scribal nature and there was
supervision to see that no biblical laws were violated. Again, there
would be little warrant here for any condemnation save that the
Pharisees would not have accepted Jesus’ claim that his presence
would guarantee no laws would be broken. There is nothing at all
to learn from these debates, if seen out of their later literary con-
texts, except they must have been preserved to show Jesus’ mastery
of Jewish law and humane application of it.
Conclusion
The upshot of this entire discussion is simply to argue that much of
the Gospels require the use of rabbinic literature for their proper
understanding and the Gospels sometimes can shed light on the his-
tory of legal developments within the Judaic tradition. Although rig-
orous criteria are required, lest our work fall prey to anachronism,
the mutually clarifying nature of the materials under review recom-
mend systematic exegetical comparison.
41
41
On the basis of messianic prophecy in Zech 14:21, as rendered by the Targum,
we now may explain Matt 21:1 = Mark 11:15 = John 2:15. Jesus’ banishing money-
changers from the Temple is neither subversive nor an anti-purity act (and perhaps
not historical), but a symbolic messianic sign in fulfillment of Zech 14:21 and its
reference to the Feast of Tabernacles. Amazingly, the scores of commentaries, books,
and articles on the Gospels have missed this point.
+nr oosrrrs .xr n.nnixic ri+rn.+tnr 99
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RECONSTRUCTING THE HALAKAH OF JESUS:
APPROPRIATING EARLY AND LATE SOURCES
Craig A. Evans
Professor Basser’s paper scores several interesting and incisive points.
His concluding remark is certainly correct: “The upshot of this entire
discussion is simply to argue that much of the Gospels requires the
use of rabbinic literature for their proper understanding, and the
Gospels sometimes can shed light on the history of legal develop-
ments within the Judaic tradition.”
1
Basser’s recognition of the mutu-
ally clarifying function of the earlier Gospels and the later rabbinic
literature, which always requires methodological rigor, is refreshing
and is in step with critical scholarship in this field.
2
I am also impressed by his recommendation that we view Jesus’
halakic disputes with Pharisees and other religious teachers within the
context of (and not over against or in opposition to) a rabbinic-
Pharisaic framework of discussion and debate. Christian interpreters
have in the past uncritically lumped together rabbis, Pharisees, scribes,
Sadducees, and ruling priests, as though they all represented more
or less a common understanding of Judaism. Because ruling priests
plotted against Jesus, it is sometimes assumed that scribes and Pharisees
were equally involved. From this error it is then sometimes assumed
that halakic disputes concerning Sabbath law and questions of purity,
in which scribes and Pharisees figure prominently in the controversy
stories, had as much to do with the motives for doing away with
Jesus as anything else. But such thinking is unnuanced, misleading,
and often erroneous. Basser’s contribution helpfully steers us in a
more promising direction.
Apart from a serious dispute with the ruling priests in the Temple
precincts, a dispute which occasioned the decision to move against
Jesus with deadly force,
3
Jesus’ halakic disputes (and haggadic disputes
1
H. Basser, “The Gospels and Rabbinic Literature,” 99.
2
See the Selected Bibliography assembled at the end of this brief response.
3
On this matter, see B. D. Chilton, The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program
Within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University Park: Pennsylvania State University,
also) with Pharisees were for the most part of a non-lethal variety.
They reflect the type of lively debate, questioning, and counter-ques-
tioning that is ubiquitous in the rabbinic literature.
Christians may find this surprising, but there is significant evi-
dence that Jesus regarded many of the scribes and Pharisees as right-
eous. The Parable of the Two Debtors in Luke 7:36–50, where Jesus
assures the (former) sinful woman that her sins—“which are many”—
are forgiven and that her faith has saved her, makes this point clear
if read in context and without the prior assumption that all Pharisees
are hypocritical reprobates. The parable reads: “‘A certain creditor
had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, the other fifty.
When they could not repay their debts, he forgave them both. Which
of them therefore will love him more?’ Simon answered and said,
‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’ He said to him, ‘You
have judged rightly’” (Luke 7:41–43). The parable implies that not
only the person whose debt is great (i.e., the “sinful” woman), but
the person whose debt is much smaller (i.e., Simon the Pharisee) has
been forgiven. Simon has been forgiven and so stands righteous
before God, but because his sins have been relatively few, his expe-
rience of forgiveness, correspondingly, has been limited. He there-
fore “loves little.”
We find the same assumption at work in the parables of the lost
in Luke 15. Luke creates a literary and theological context for these
parables, but there is no reason to doubt seriously that this artificial
context truly reflects criticisms that Jesus encountered: “All the toll
collectors and sinners were gathered to him to hear him. So both
the Pharisees and the scribes were murmuring, saying, ‘This one
accepts sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:1–2). In answer to
this criticism Jesus tells three parables: the Parable of the Lost Sheep
(vv. 4–7), the Parable of the Lost Coin (vv. 8–10), and the longer,
more complex Parable of the Prodigal Son (vv. 11–32). The latter
parable has nothing positive to say about the younger son. He selfishly
turns his back on his family, disgraces his father, abandons the land
of Israel, presumably abandons the Jewish faith, and lives a wanton,
sinful life. The younger son, who in the parable is surely meant to
portray the “toll collectors and sinners,” cuts a negative figure in
1992) 91–111; C. A. Evans, “Jesus and the ‘Cave of Robbers’: Toward a Jewish
Context for the Temple Action,” BBR 3 (1993) 93–110.
102 cn.io .. r\.xs
every way. The only thing he does right is to repent. In contrast,
the older son, who in the parable portrays the “Pharisees and scribes,”
that is, the Torah-observant Jews of Jesus’ day, is the perfect son.
He is responsible, works hard, stays at home and helps his father.
His only shortcoming is that he is unable to rejoice over his younger
brother’s repentance and restoration. He criticizes his father for cel-
ebrating the prodigal’s return in such a lavish fashion. But despite
this fault, the father, who in the parable represents God, assures
him: “Child, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours”
(v. 31). The restoration of the younger son takes nothing away from
the older son (anymore than forgiving a huge debt takes away from
forgiving a smaller debt). He must understand that it is necessary to
rejoice and be happy that his wayward, lost younger brother is now
found. He who was dead is now alive again (v. 32).
These two Lukan parables make it clear that Jesus regarded the
scribes and Pharisees, at least some of them, as righteous. Their only
fault lay in not rejoicing in the repentance of non-Torah observant
Jews. These parables are not meant to drive off the Pharisees, but
to admonish them to rejoice with Jesus and to accept the wayward
to whom Jesus ministers. The halakic disputes between Jesus and
the Pharisees should be read in this light, at least most of them.
Basser’s approach to the halakic tradition is consistent with this
recommendation.
I do have one important suggestion regarding method. It pertains
especially to Professor Basser’s first comparative-exegetical example.
He relates the Synoptic account of the Transfiguration of Jesus to
an interesting midrashic tradition, in which the person and/or cloth-
ing of the Messiah is described as shining. The luminosity of the
transfigured Jesus certainly does invite the comparison that Basser
recommends. The collocation of light, mountain, tabernacles, the
sending of Elijah and the “chosen one” of Isa 42:1, which is worked
out in an intriguing midrash in the Midrash on the Psalms (or Shohar
Tov) on Psalm 43, is fascinating and calls for investigation.
But before looking to later texts, it is necessary to consider Old
Testament antecedents. In much of the Gospels we have allusions
to Old Testament language and imagery, as well as explicit quota-
tions and paraphrases. The story of the Transfiguration is replete
with words and images drawn from the Sinai story of Exodus. Mark’s
account reads:
nrcoxs+ntc+ixo +nr n.r.k.n or ¡rsts 103
2
And after six days Jesus takes along Peter and James and John, and
takes them up into a high mountain by themselves. And he was trans-
formed before them,
3
and his garments became exceedingly white as
no launderer on earth can whiten.
4
And Elijah appeared with Moses,
and they were conversing together with Jesus.
5
And answering, Peter
says to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three
tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”—
6
for he did
not know what he should reply, because they had become greatly
afraid.
7
And then a cloud appeared overshadowing them, and a voice
came out of the cloud, “This is my Son the beloved; hear him!”
8
And
suddenly looking around they no longer saw anyone, but only Jesus
with them.
In the Lukan account we are told that Jesus’ “face changed” (Luke
9:29), that “Moses and Elijah” (v. 30) appeared, instead of Mark’s
“Elijah with Moses,” and that Jesus spoke with the heavenly visitors
concerning his “exodus” (v. 31). Luke’s revisions here are probably
intended to heighten the importance of Moses and to draw the par-
allels closer to the person and experience of the great Lawgiver.
The Synoptic account of the Transfiguration parallels the giving
of the Law on Mount Sinai at several points. Perhaps the most obvi-
ous are the following: (1) the reference to “six days” (Mark 9:2; Exod
24:16), (2) the cloud that covers the mountain (Mark 9:7; Exod
24:16), (3) God’s voice from the cloud (Mark 9:7; Exod 24:16), (4)
three companions (Mark 9:2; Exod 24:1, 9),
4
(5) a transformed appear-
ance (Mark 9:3; Exod 34:30),
5
and (6) the reaction of fear (Mark
4
Moses and Elijah are often paired up, as Professor Basser remarks. The two
witnesses of Rev 11:3–12 could very well be Moses and Elijah (on Moses, compare
v. 6 with Exod 7:17, 19; on Elijah, compare vv. 5–6 with 2 Kgs 1:10). (However,
Elijah is sometimes paired up with Enoch; see 2 Esdras 6:26; Apoc. of Elijah 4:7–19,
which appears to be dependent on Revelation 11.) According to one rabbinic
midrash, God promises in the future to bring Moses with Elijah (Deut. Rab. 3.17
[on Deut 10:1]). The rabbis compared Moses and Elijah at many points: “You find
that two prophets rose up for Israel out of the tribe of Levi; one the first of all
the prophets, and the other the last of all the prophets: Moses first and Elijah last,
and both with a commission to redeem Israel. . . . You find that Moses and Elijah
were alike in every respect. . . . Moses went up to heaven [cf. Exod 19:3]; and
Elijah went up to heaven [cf. 2 Kgs 2:1]. . . . Moses: ‘And the cloud covered him
six days’ [Exod 24:16]; and Elijah went up in a whirlwind [cf. 2 Kgs 2:1]” (Pesiq.
R. 4.2; translation based on William G. Braude, Pesikta Rabbati [2 vols.; YJS 18;
New Haven: Yale University, 1968] 2.84–85).
5
The closest parallel is probably to the shining face of Moses (Exod 34:30), but
the faces of other saints are describes as shining; see 2 Esdras 7:97, 125; 1 Enoch
37:7; 51:5. The clothing of the saints also will shine; see Dan 12:3; Rev 4:4; 7:9;
1 Enoch 62:15; Qoh. Rab. 1:7 §9: “he will renew their faces and will renew their
garments.”
104 cn.io .. r\.xs
9:6; Exod 34:30). Another suggestive item that should be mentioned
is that in Exod 24:13 Joshua is singled out and taken up the moun-
tain with Moses. Since “Joshua” in the Greek Old Testament is
sometimes spelled “Jesus,” the early Church may have seen in Exod
24:13 a veiled prophecy, or typology, that came to fulfillment in the
Transfiguration where once again Moses and Jesus are together. One
could say that Jesus and Moses have been together before. Finally,
the offer to build tabernacles, though not directly associated with
Sinai, is coherent with wilderness tradition and in fact was part of
a festival in which Jews remembered the sojourn in the wilderness.
6
These parallels are extensive enough that I should think that they
provide the point of departure. The questions that then arise are:
How were the Sinai traditions interpreted in sources that predated
the New Testament Gospels, or are contemporaneous with them?
that is, elsewhere in the New Testament? in Philo? in Josephus? in
the Dead Sea Scrolls? and, of course, in the early rabbinic litera-
ture? The latter material may very well preserve ancient interpre-
tive tradition that will shed light on the Transfiguration narrative,
as Professor Basser has indicated, but the older (i.e., pre-New Testa-
ment) traditions should receive priority and, if possible, provide the
point of departure for examination of the parallels with the later
rabbinic texts.
Professor Basser’s other examples are much closer and seem more
apparent. But even in these cases, however, comparative work with
the aforementioned older literatures is essential. In combination, both
the older and the later sources will often shed important light on the
Gospels, underscoring again and again the need to interpret them,
as Professor Basser recommends, in their Judaic context.
6
It could be that Peter has concluded that the Last Day had arrived when some
of the great events of the first exodus would be repeated (such as manna in the
wilderness and God’s presence among the people). To commemorate the exodus
Jews celebrated the Feast of Booths by living in small booths or huts for seven days
(Lev 23:42–44; Neh 8:14–17). But the feast was also understood by many as look-
ing ahead to the glorious day of Israel’s deliverance.
nrcoxs+ntc+ixo +nr n.r.k.n or ¡rsts 105
Selected Bibliography of the Use of Rabbinic Literature for Jesus Research
and New Testament Interpretation
Abrahams, Israel. “Rabbinic Aids to Exegesis,” in H. B. Swete (ed.), Essays on Some
Biblical Questions of the Day: By Members of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1909) 159–92.
Alexander, Philip S. “Rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament,” ZNW 74 (1983)
237–46.
Buchanan, George W. “The Use of Rabbinic Literature for New Testament Research,”
BTB 7 (1977) 110–22.
Chilton, Bruce D. A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible: Jesus’ Use of the Interpreted Scripture
of His Time (GNS 8; Wilmington: Glazier, 1984).
——. “Reference to the Targumim in the Exegesis of the New Testament,” in
E. H. Lovering, Jr. (ed.), Society of Biblical Literature 1995 Seminar Papers (SBLSP
34; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995) 77–81.
Cook, Michael J. “Jesus and the Pharisees—The Problem as It Stands Today,” JES
15 (1978) 441–60.
Daube, David. “Rabbinic Methods of Interpretation and Hellenistic Rhetoric,”
HUCA 22 (1949) 239–64.
Evans, Craig A. “Early Rabbinic Sources and Jesus Research,” in E. H. Lovering,
Jr. (ed.), Society of Biblical Literature 1995 Seminar Papers (SBLSP 34; Atlanta: Scholars
Press, 1995) 53–76; rev. and repr. in B. Chilton and C. A. Evans, Jesus in Context:
Temple, Purity, and Restoration (AGJU 39; Leiden: Brill, 1997) 27–57.
——. “Jesus and Rabbinic Parables, Proverbs, and Prayers,” in Evans, Jesus and
His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (AGJU 25; Leiden: Brill, 1995) 251–97.
——. “Mishna and Messiah ‘in Context’: Some Comments on Jacob Neusner’s
Proposals,” JBL 112 (1993) 267–89 [with a response by Neusner on pp. 291–304].
Moore, George F. “Christian Writers on Judaism,” HTR 14 (1921) 197–253.
Neusner, Jacob. “Evaluating the Attributions of Sayings to Named Sages in the
Rabbinic Literature,” JSJ 26 (1995) 93–111.
——. “‘First Cleanse the Inside’: The ‘Halakhic’ Background of a Controversy-
Saying,” NTS 22 (1976) 486–95; repr. in Neusner, Method and Meaning in Ancient
Judaism, vol. 3 (BJS 16; Chico: Scholars Press, 1981) 155–64.
——. Rabbinic Literature and the New Testament (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International,
1994).
——. “When Tales Travel: The Interpretation of Multiple Appearances of a Single
Saying or Story in Talmudic Literature,” JSNT 27 (1986) 69–88; repr. in S. E.
Porter and C. A. Evans (eds.), New Testament Interpretation and Methods (BibSem 45;
Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997) 138–57.
Parsons, Mikeal C. “The Critical Use of the Rabbinic Literature in New Testament
Studies,” PRS 12 (1985) 85–102.
Saldarini, Anthony J. “‘Form Criticism’ of Rabbinic Literature,” JBL 96 (1977)
257–74.
Sandmel, Samuel. “Parallelomania,” JBL 81 (1962) 1–13.
Smith, Morton. “A Comparison of Early Christian and Early Rabbinic Tradition,”
JBL 82 (1963) 169–76.
Vermes, Geza. “Jewish Studies and New Testament Interpretation,” JJS 31 (1980)
1–17.
106 cn.io .. r\.xs
GETTING IT RIGHT:
JAMES, JESUS, AND QUESTIONS OF SANCTITY
Bruce Chilton
Introducing James
Of all the major figures in the New Testament, the one called James
is certainly the most overlooked. Even his name makes him more
obscure than he needs to be. He bore the name of Yakov (“Jacob”),
who was also called Israel (Gen 32:22–32)—the patriarch who identifies
the people of the covenant in most understandings of Judaism. That
name traveled well into Greek (as Iakobos), but a Latinization (Iacomus)
is the direct antecedent of the English name.
1
A comparable history
has turned Yeshua, the Aramaic form of the name Joshua (Yehoshuah
in Hebrew) into Jesus. So our Yakov (as “James”) may sound like a
king of England, but he is named for a principal Judaic patriarch.
That is an unlikely fate for the most famous brother of Yeshua.
His being Yeshua’s brother, of course, is the problem. Everyone
knows enough to object (those who have read and—perhaps espe-
cially—those who have not read the New Testament): how could
Yeshua have had a brother, when his mother was a virgin? This is
not the place to try to settle what the widely believed teaching of
Mary/Miriam’s virginity means in regard to her medical condition.
Suffice it to say that the New Testament itself presents a variety of
views of Mary/Miriam, of Yeshua’s birth, and of what her virgin-
ity means.
2
However one resolves such questions, the status of Yakov as
Yeshua’s brother is expressed straightforwardly (see Mark 6):
1
And he went out from there, and comes into his homeland, and his
students follow him.
2
And when the Sabbath came, he began to teach
1
The form is described as “Late Latin” in Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, A
Dictionary of First Names (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993) 171. The form in
the Vulgate is still Iacobus.
2
See Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy
Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (ABRL; New York: Doubleday, 1993).
in the synagogue, and many who heard were astonished, saying, “Where
did he get this from, and what is this wisdom that is given to him?
And what sort of powers are done by his hands?
3
Is this not the
journeyman, the son of Miriam, and brother of Yakov and Yosieh and
Yudah and Shimon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they
were outraged at him.
4
And Yeshuah was saying to them, “A prophet is not dishonored
except in his homeland and among his kin and in his house.”
5
And he was not able there to do any power, except that laying
hands on a few who were ill, he healed them.
6
And he was astounded
at their unbelief.
The text is plain: Yeshua had, not only one brother, but four, and
an unspecified number of sisters.
But do the words “brothers” and “sisters” here really mean what
they say? There has been, since the fourth century of the Common
Era, a lively debate over just that question. All of its detail can not
be rehearsed here.
3
The most plausible attempts to take the terms
in some kind of metaphorical sense link the passage to the fact that
early Christians called one another “brother” and “sister.” But those
usages are for the most part from materials which come later in the
development of the New Testament. In this passage (and in its equiv-
alent in Matt 13:53–58), “brother” and “sister” mean brother and
sister, just as “mother” means mother. It is evident that there would
be no further discussion, except for a later doctrine of the Church
which took the definition of Mary/Miriam/’s virginity in a biologi-
cal direction.
The mention of Yakov in Mark 6 (and Matthew 13) does not in
any way assume his sympathy with his brother Yeshua. There are
rather clear indications that Yeshua and his brothers were on strained
terms. Within chap. 3 of Mark, for example, we encounter the fol-
lowing scene:
31
And his mother and his brothers come and standing outside, they
sent a delegation to him, calling him.
32
And a crowd sat around him,
and they say to him,
“Look, your mother and your brothers and your sisters seek you
outside.”
33
He replied and says, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”
3
See John P. Meier, “The Brothers and Sisters of Jesus in Ecumenical Perspective,”
CBQ 54 (1992) 1–28.
108 nntcr cnir+ox
34
He glares around at those sitting in a circle about him, and says,
“Look: my mother and my brothers.
35
Whoever does the will of God,
he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Not a picture of family bliss, and perhaps an echo of the earlier
statement (3:21) that there were those associated with Yeshua who
tried to prevent him from engaging in exorcism. They said he was
“beside himself.” Now he says they are not true family. In a different
key, the dispute between Yeshua and his brothers in John 7:2–10
also portrays fraternal tension in a marked form.
The Gospels tell us nothing further about Yakov, and their silence
prompts the question: when did he become a follower of Yeshua?
This is perhaps the most instructive thing about Yakov from the
point of view of the development of Christianity. His authority within
the movement did not derive from his relations with his brother dur-
ing his lifetime, but with his status as a witness to the resurrection
(along with his status as Yeshua’s brother). Yakov was a crucial
authority in the development of the conviction that Yeshua had been
raised from the dead. He was a key witness of the risen Jesus accord-
ing to the testimony of Paul, the earliest writer to speak of Jesus’
resurrection, writing around 56 CE (see 1 Cor 15:3–8):
Because I delivered to you, among the first, what I myself received,
that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that
he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to
the Scriptures, and that he was seen by Kepha, then by the Twelve,
and then he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once,
among whom most remain until now, and some have slept. And then
he was seen by Yakov, then by all the delegates. And last of all, as
to a fetus, he was seen by me, too.
Aside from Paul’s reference to Yakov in his list of witnesses, the
New Testament itself does not record an actual appearance to Yakov,
but the extra-canonical Gospel to the Hebrews does. There, Jesus assures
his brother that “the Son of Man has been raised from among those
who sleep.” The authority of Yakov, it seems, was a key force in
the complete identification between Jesus and the figure of one “like
a son of man” mentioned in Daniel 7—an angelic figure in the heav-
enly court—after the resurrection.
4
4
See Chilton, “The Son of Man—Who Was He?” Bible Review 12.4 (1996) 34–48.
The Letter of James in the New Testament is widely agreed to be only remotely
¡.vrs, ¡rsts, .xr ¸trs+ioxs or s.xc+i+v 109
The standing of Yakov was such that, within the Church in
Jerusalem (certainly the most important of all until the destruction
of the Temple in 70 CE under the Roman general Titus), he occu-
pied the principal position. In Acts 15, Yakov is presented as per-
sonally deciding how non-Jewish followers of Yeshua were to be
regarded, and how they might be incorporated within the movement
without actually accepting male circumcision. In that just this sort
of question was the most divisive in the earliest history of Christianity,
Yakov’s place here could not be more important, and we will turn
our attention to the passage in a moment.
After the issue of whether non-Jewish Christians needed to accept
the practice of circumcision and/or purity, the next most divisive
issue in the early Church was a person: the apostle Paul. Although
his authority is today accepted among Christians as a matter of
course, his status as the principal theologian of Christianity only
developed as the canon of the New Testament emerged. Until then,
and especially during his own life, Paul was a profoundly contro-
versial figure. His insistence that believing in Yeshua made non-Jews
into sons of Abraham, the true Israel, set non-Jewish Christians
against traditionally Judaic followers of Yeshua.
5
In Acts 21, a pas-
sage we will also consider more closely, it is Yakov, and only his
circle, that attempts to integrate Paul within the movement by hav-
ing him take part in a ritual within the Temple in Jerusalem.
Our next important reference to Yakov’s authority and status
comes from Hegesippus, a writer of the second century. As cited by
Eusebius (see Hist. Eccl. 2.23.1–18),
6
Hegesippus characterizes Yakov,
Jesus’ brother, as the person who exercised immediate control of the
church in Jerusalem. Although Peter had initially gathered a group
of Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem, his interests and activities further
afield left the way open for Yakov to become the natural head of
the community there. That change, and political changes in Jerusalem
itself made the Temple the effective center of the local community
connected to Yakov. Nonetheless, its emphasis upon the heavenly origin of divine
wisdom ( Jas 1:17–18) may be related to Yakov’s vision of his brother as risen from
the dead.
5
See Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner, Judaism in the New Testament: Practices and
Beliefs (London and New York: Routledge, 1995) 98–128.
6
Florence Morgan Gillman suggests that Hegesippus’ source is the Acts of the
Apostles used among the Ebionites, a Christian group which sought also to follow
the Torah. She connects their veneration of Yakov to the praise given him in the
Gospel according to Thomas Logion 12.
110 nntcr cnir+ox
of Jesus’ followers. Yakov practiced a careful and idiosyncratic purity
in the interests of worship in the Temple. He abstained from wine
and animal flesh, did not cut his hair or beard, and forsook oil and
conventional bathing. According to Hegesippus, those special prac-
tices gave him access even to the sanctuary.
Josephus had earlier reported that Yakov was killed in the Temple
ca. 62 at the instigation of the high priest Ananus during the inter-
regnum of the Roman governors Festus and Albinus (Ant. 20.9.1
§197–203). Hegesippus gives a more circumstantial, politically less
informed, account of the martyrdom. Yakov is set up on a parapet
of the Temple, being known and addressed by his opponents by the
titles “Righteous and Oblias,” Hegesippus reports. The second title
has caused understandable puzzlement, but it is easily related to the
Aramaic term "abal, which means “to mourn.” Recent finds in the
vicinity of the Dead Sea (not only near Qumran) have greatly
enhanced our understanding of Aramaic as spoken in the time of
Yeshua and his followers. The use of the term there is attested.
7
Yakov was known as “mourner.”
It is possible to see that title as a partially descriptive, partially
mocking nickname. Most probably, it refers to the persistent asceti-
cism which Yakov practiced. But the name need not have been
invented by the opposition. Yeshua himself was known to give his
followers such names. Most famously, he called Shimon “Rock”:
Kepha in Aramaic, Petros in Greek. He called Yohanan and his brother
Yakov “Thunder brothers:” bene rigsha in Aramaic.
8
There is noth-
ing surprising in the hypothesis that Yeshua himself, familiar with
his brother’s asceticism, called him “Mourner.”
In any case, Yakov/Mourner is interrogated by the authorities as
he stands on a parapet, Tell us: what is the gate of Yeshua?
9
Yakov
responds with a strong declaration of Yeshua as the son of man who
7
See Joseph A. Fitzmyer and Daniel J. Harrington, A Manual of Palestinian Aramaic
Texts (BibOr 34; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1978). Hegesippus himself tries
to explain the term as “portion of the people and righetousness.” But since he
says James was called “righteous and Oblias,” when he explains the latter term as
“portion of the people and righteousness,” the impression he gives is that he is
paraphrasing.
8
See the list in Mark 3:14–19, and Paul’s reference to Shimon in Gal 1:18; 2:9,
11, 14.
9
The expression is described by Hegesippus as being pivotal in Yakov’s teach-
ing, and it is no doubted related to Yeshua’s own usage of such an expression (see
John 10:7–9).
¡.vrs, ¡rsts, .xr ¸trs+ioxs or s.xc+i+v 111
will come to judge the world. The authorities then push him from
the parapet, and have Yakov stoned. He is actually killed by some-
one with a club, who beats in his head.
Yakov’s devotion to the Temple and his devotion to his brother
were co-extensive. In each case, the focus was on the throne of God,
of which Yeshua was the gate and the Temple the court. His court
on earth was in Jerusalem, where Yakov continued to offer worship,
and to insist on that purity throughout Yeshua’s movement which
made that worship possible, and acceptable to God. The Temple
was the threshold to God’s throne in heaven, much as in the vision
of the prophet in Isaiah 6. And in the vision of Yakov, the Son of
Man associated with that throne was none other than Jesus, the gate-
way to heaven itself. Devotion to him and to the Temple together
constituted the effective worship of God. Loyalty to Yeshua and loy-
alty to the Temple both demanded rigorous attention to the issue
of holiness, of what belongs to God in human comportment.
Yakov and the Question of Purity
The remarkable and early agreement that Jews and non-Jews could
be included in the same movement by baptism established a radical
principle of inclusion. But it also brought about the greatest contro-
versies within the early Church. Although Peter, Yakov, and Barnabas
agreed that circumcision could not be demanded of non-Jews who
received baptism, there were strong factions which did not concur
(see Acts 11:1–18; 15:1–5). After all, they had the convenant of cir-
cumcision (Gen 17:9–14) as a counter argument. Even among those
teachers who extended baptism to non-Jews, disagreements arose.
The best attested argument occurred at Antioch, where non-Jews
had begun to eat together with Jews in the context of Christian prac-
tice of eucharist and other common meals.
Paul’s version of events is the best available. At Antioch, Jews and
non-Jews who had been baptized joined in meals of fellowship together.
According to Paul, Peter fell in with the practice and Barnabas appar-
ently tolerated it. Barnabas, a Levite from Cyprus, was a prominent,
loyal recruit in Jerusalem, who enjoyed the trust of the apostles and
mediated relations between them and Paul.
10
10
See Acts 4:36–7; 9:26–30; 11:19–26.
112 nntcr cnir+ox
Paul’s policy of including Gentiles with Jews in meals, as well as
in baptism, needed the support of authorities such as Peter and
Barnabas, in order to prevail against the natural conservatism of
those for whom such inclusion seemed a betrayal of the purity of
Israel. When representatives of Yakov arrived, Yakov who was the
brother of Jesus and the pre-eminent figure in the church in Jerusalem,
that natural conservatism re-asserted itself. Peter “separated himself,”
along with the rest of the Jews, and even Barnabas (Gal 2:12, 13).
Jews and Gentiles again maintained distinct fellowship at meals,
and Paul accuses the leadership of his own movement of hypocrisy
(Gal 2:13).
The radical quality of Paul’s position needs to be appreciated. He
was isolated from every other Christian Jew (by his own account in
Gal 2:11–13: Yakov, Peter, Barnabas, and “the rest of the Jews” dis-
agreed with him). His isolation required that he develop an alter-
native view of authority in order to justify his own practice. Within
Galatians, Paul quickly articulates the distinctive approach to Scripture
as authoritative which characterizes his writings as a whole.
The confrontation at Antioch which Paul recounts to his audience
in Galatia did not turn out happily for him at the time. His expla-
nation of his own point of view is triumphant and ringing only in
retrospect. Indeed, by the time he recollects his argument for the
benefit of the Galatians (to whom he writes c. 53 CE, some four
years after this confrontation), he seems so confident that one might
overlook the fact that he was the loser in the battle with the rep-
resentatives of Yakov. It was he, not they, who left the area of
Antioch (so Acts 15:22–41).
The position of Yakov is not represented, as is Paul’s, by a writ-
ing of Yakov himself.
11
But the book of Acts does clearly reflect his
perspective in regard to both circumcision and the issue of purity
(Acts 15), the two principal matters of concern in Galatians. The
account in Acts 15 is romanticized; one sees much less of the ten-
sion and controversy which Paul attests. But once allowance has
been made for the tendency in Acts to portray the ancient Church
as a body at harmonious unity, the nature and force of Yakov’s posi-
tion become clear.
11
The Letter of James is at best a derivative reflection of his position; see Martin
Dibelius, Der Brief des Jakobus (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1984).
¡.vrs, ¡rsts, .xr ¸trs+ioxs or s.xc+i+v 113
The two issues in dispute, circumcision and purity, are dealt with
in Acts 15 as if they were the agenda of a single meeting of lead-
ers in Jerusalem. (Paul in Galatians 2 more accurately describes the
meeting he had with the leaders as distinct from a later decision to
return to the question of purity.) The first item on the agenda is
settled by having Peter declare that, since God gave his holy spirit
to Gentiles who believed, no attempt should be made to add require-
ments such as circumcision to them (Acts 15:6–11). Paul could scarcely
have said it better himself; and that is consistent with the version of
Paulinism represented in Acts.
The second item on the agenda is settled on Yakov’s authority,
not Peter’s, and the outcome is not in line with Paul’s thought. Yakov
first confirms the position of Peter, but he states the position in a
very different way: “Symeon has related how God first visited the
Gentiles, to take a people in his name” (Acts 15:14). Yakov’s per-
spective here is not that all who believe are Israel (the Pauline
definition), but that in addition to Israel God has established a peo-
ple in his name. How the new people are to be regarded in rela-
tion to Israel is a question which is implicit in the statement, and
Yakov goes on to answer it. The relationship between those taken
from the Gentiles and Israel is developed in two ways by Yakov.
The first method is the use of Scripture, while the second is a require-
ment of purity. The logic of them both inevitably involves a rejec-
tion of Paul’s position (along the lines laid out in Galatians 2).
The use of Scripture, like the argument itself, is quite unlike Paul’s.
Yakov claims that “with this (that is, his statement of Peter’s posi-
tion) the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written” (Acts
15:15), and he goes on to cite from the book of Amos. The passage
cited will concern us in a moment; the form of Yakov’s interpreta-
tion is an immediate indication of a substantial difference from Paul.
As Yakov has it, there is actual agreement between Symeon and the
words of the prophets, as two people might agree. The continuity
of Christian experience with Scripture is marked as a greater con-
cern than within Paul’s interpretation, and Yakov expects that con-
tinuity to be verbal, a matter of agreement with the prophets’ words,
not merely with possible ways of looking at what they mean.
The citation from Amos (9:11–12) comports well with Yakov’s
concern that the position of the Church agree with the principal
vocabulary of the prophets (Acts 15:16–17):
114 nntcr cnir+ox
After this I will come back and restore the tent of David which has
fallen, and rebuild its ruins and set it up anew, that the rest of men
may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is
called. . . .
In the argument of Yakov as represented here, what the belief of
Gentiles achieves is, not the redefinition of Israel (as in Paul’s thought),
but the restoration of the house of David. The argument is possible
because Davidic genealogy of Jesus—and, therefore, of his brother
Yakov—is assumed.
An account of Yakov’s preaching in the Temple is given by Hege-
sippus. Yakov there represents Jesus as the son of man who is to
come from heaven to judge the world. Those who agree cry out,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!” Hegesippus shows that Yakov’s view
of his brother came to be that he was related to David (as was the
family generally) and was also a heavenly figure who was coming to
judge the world. When Acts and Hegesippus are taken together, they
indicate that Yakov contended Jesus was restoring the house of David
because he was the agent of final judgment, and was being accepted
as such by Gentiles.
But on Yakov’s view, Gentiles remain Gentiles; they are not to
be identified with Israel. His position was not anti-Pauline, at least
not at first. His focus was on Jesus’ role as the ultimate arbiter within
the Davidic line, and there was never any question in his mind but
that the Temple was the natural place to worship God and acknowl-
edge Jesus. Embracing the Temple as central meant for Yakov, as
it meant for everyone associated with worship there, maintaining the
purity which, it was understood, God required in his house. Purity
involved excluding Gentiles from the interior courts of the Temple,
where Israel was involved in sacrifice. The line of demarcation
between Israel and non-Israel was no invention within the circle of
Yakov, but a natural result of seeing Jesus as the triumphant branch
of the house of David.
Gentile belief in Jesus was therefore in Yakov’s understanding a
vindication of his Davidic triumph, but it did not involve a funda-
mental change in the status of Gentiles vis-à-vis Israel. That char-
acterization of the Gentiles, developed by means of the reference to
Amos, enables Yakov to proceed to his requirement of their recog-
nition of purity. He first states, “I determine not to trouble those of
the Gentiles who turn to God” (Acts 15:19), as if he were simply
¡.vrs, ¡rsts, .xr ¸trs+ioxs or s.xc+i+v 115
repeating the policy of Peter in regard to circumcision. (The implicit
authority of that “I” contrasts sharply with the usual portrayal in
Acts of apostolic decision as communal.) But he then continues that
is determination is also “to write to them to abstain from the pollutions
of the idols, and from fornication, and from what is strangled, and
from blood” (15:20).
The rules set out by Yakov tend naturally to separate believing
Gentiles from their ambient environment. They are to refrain from
feasts in honor of the gods and from foods sacrificed to idols in the
course of being butchered and sold. (The notional devotion of ani-
mals in the market to one god or another was a common practice
in the Hellenistic world.) They are to observe stricter limits than
usual on the type of sexual activity they might engage with, and
with whom. (Gross promiscuity need not be at issue here; marriage
with cousins is also included within the likely area of concern. That
was fashionable in the Hellenistic world, and proscribed in the book
of Leviticus [see chap. 18 and 20:17–21]).They are to avoid the flesh
of animals which had been strangled instead of bled, and they are
not to consume blood itself. The proscription of blood, of course,
was basic within Judaism. And strangling an animal (as distinct from
cutting its throat) increased the presence of blood in the meat. Such
strictures are consistent with Yakov’s initial observation, that God
had taken a people from the Gentiles (Acts 15:14); they were to be
similar to Israel in their distinction from the Hellenistic world at
large.
The motive behind the rules is not separation in itself, however.
Yakov links them to the fact that the Mosaic legislation regarding
purity is well and widely known (15:21):
For Moses from early generations has had those preaching him city
by city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.
Because the law is well known, Yakov insists that believers, even
Gentile believers, are not to live in flagrant violation of what Moses
enjoined. As a result of Yakov’s insistence, the meeting in Jerusalem
decides to send envoys and a letter to Antioch, in order to require
Gentiles to honor the prohibitions set out by Yakov (Acts 15:22–35).
The same chapter of Leviticus which commands, “love your neigh-
bor as yourself ” (19:18), also forbids blood to be eaten (19:26) and
fornication (19:29; see also 18:6–30). The canonical (but secondhand)
letter of James calls the commandment of love “the royal law” ( Jas
116 nntcr cnir+ox
2:8), acknowledging that Yeshua had accorded it privilege by citing
it alongside the commandment to love God as the two greatest com-
mandments (see Mark 12:28–32). In Acts Yakov himself, while accept-
ing that Gentiles cannot be required to keep the whole law, insists
that they should acknowledge it, by observing basic requirements
concerning fornication and blood and idolatry.
It is of interest that Leviticus forbids the eating of blood by sojourn-
ers as well as Israelites, and associates that prohibition with how ani-
mals are to be killed for the purpose of eating (17:10–16). Moreover,
a principle of exclusivity in sacrifice is trenchantly maintained: any-
one, whether of Israel or a sojourner dwelling among them, who
offers a sacrifice which is not brought to the LORD’s honor in the
Temple is to be cut off from the people (17:8–9). In other words,
the prohibitions of Yakov, involving sacrifice, fornication, strangled
meat produce, and blood, all derive easily from the very context in
Leviticus from which the commandment to love is derived. They
are elementary, and involve interest in what Gentiles as well as
Israelites do.
Yakov’s prohibitions are designed to show that believing Gentiles
honor the law which is commonly read, without in any way chang-
ing their status as Gentiles. Thereby, the tent of David is erected
again, in the midst of Gentiles who show their awareness of the
restoration by means of their respect for the Torah. The interpre-
tation attributed to Yakov involves an application of Davidic vocab-
ulary to Jesus, as is consistent with the claim of Jesus’ family to
Davidic ancestry. The transfer of Davidic promises to Jesus is accom-
plished within an acceptance of the terms of reference of the Scripture
generally: to embrace David is to embrace Moses. There is no trace
in Yakov’s interpretation of the Pauline gambit, setting one biblical
principle ( justification in the manner of Abraham) against another
(obedience in the manner of Moses). Where Paul divided the Scripture
against itself in order to maintain the integrity of a single fellowship
of Jews and Gentiles, Yakov insisted upon the integrity of Scripture,
even at the cost of separating Christians from one another. In both
cases, the interpretation of Scripture was also—at the same moment
as the sacred text was apprehended—a matter of social policy.
¡.vrs, ¡rsts, .xr ¸trs+ioxs or s.xc+i+v 117
Yakov and the Temple
The ideal of Christian devotion which Yakov has in mind is repre-
sented in Acts 21. There, Paul and his companion arrive in Jerusalem
and are confronted by Yakov and the elders’ report to them that
Paul’s reputation in Jerusalem is that he is telling Jews in the Diaspora
to forsake Moses, and especially to stop circumcising their children
(Acts 21:17–21). Paul is then told to take on the expense of four
men who had taken a vow, entering the Temple with them to offer
sacrifice (Acts 21:22–26).
The nature of the vow seems quite clear. It will be fulfilled when
the men shave their heads (so Acts 21:24). We are evidently deal-
ing with a Nazirite vow. As set out in Numbers 6, a Nazirite was
to let his hair and beard grow for the time of his vow, abstain com-
pletely from grapes, and avoid approaching any dead body. At the
close of the period of the vow, he was to shave his head, and offer
his hair in proximity to the altar (so Num 6:18). The end of this
time of being holy, the LORD’s property, is marked by enabling
the Nazirite to drink wine again (6:20).
Just these practices of holiness are attributed by Hegesippus to
Yakov. The additional notice, that he avoided oil, is consistent with
the especial concern for purity among Nazirites. They were to avoid
any contact with death (Num 6:6–12), and the avoidance of all
uncleanness—which is incompatible with sanctity—follows naturally.
The avoidance of oil is also attributed by Josephus to the Essenes
( J.W. 2.8.3 §123), and the reason seems plain: oil, as a fluid pressed
from fruit, was considered to absorb impurity to such an extent that
extreme care in its preparation was vital.
12
Absent complete assur-
ance, abstinence was a wise policy. Yakov’s vegetarianism also com-
ports with a concern to avoid contact with any kind of corpse. Finally,
although Hegesippus’ assertion that Yakov could actually enter the
sanctuary seems exaggerated, his acceptance of a Nazirite regime,
such as Acts 21 explicitly associates him with, would account for
such a remembrance of him, in that Nazirites were to be presented
in the vicinity of the sanctuary.
As it turned out, Yakov’s advice proved disastrous for Paul. Paul’s
entry into the Temple caused a riot, because it was supposed he
12
See Josephus, J.W. 2.21.2 §590–594; m. Menah. 8:3–5; and the whole of
Makhshirin. The point of departure for the concern is Lev 11:34.
118 nntcr cnir+ox
was bringing non-Jews in. As a result, he was arrested by a Roman
officer (Acts 21:27–28:21), and so began the long legal contention
which resulted ultimately in his death. The extent to which Yakov
might have anticipated such a result can not be known, but it does
seem obvious that his commitment to a Nazirite ideology blinded
him to the political dangers which threatened the movement of which
he was the nearest thing to the head.
The particular concern of Yakov for practice in the Temple has
left its mark on teaching attributed to Yeshua. In Mark 7:15, Yeshua
set down a radical principle of purity:
There is nothing outside a person, entering in, that can defile, but
what comes out of a person is what defiles a person.
That principle establishes that those in Israel were to be accepted
as pure, so that fellowship at meals with them, as was characteris-
tic in Yeshua’s movement from the beginning, was possible. Their
usual customs of purity, together with their generosity in sharing and
their willingness to receive and accept forgiveness, readied them to
celebrate the fellowship of the kingdom of God.
13
His program was
not as suited to Nazirites as it was to those his opponents called
“tax agents and sinners”; to them Yeshua seemed a drunk and a
glutton (see Matt 11:19; Luke 7:34).
But within this same chapter of Mark in which Yeshua’s princi-
ple is clearly stated, a syllogism is developed to attack a particular
practice in the Temple (Mark 7:6–13):
6
But he said to them,
Duly Yesaiah prophesied about you frauds, as it is written,
This people honors me with lips,
But their heart is far distant from me.
7
In vain they worship me,
teaching men’s commandments as doctrines.
8
Leaving the commandment of God, you adhere to men’s
tradition.
9
And he was saying to them,
Duly you annul the commandment of God,
13
For further discussion, see B. Chilton, The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program
Within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University
Press, 1992); idem, “A Generative Exegesis of Mark 7:1–23,” JHC 3 (1996) 18–37;
idem, Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God (Studying the Historical Jesus 1; Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1996).
¡.vrs, ¡rsts, .xr ¸trs+ioxs or s.xc+i+v 119
so that you establish your tradition.
10
For Moses said,
Honor your father and your mother,
and,
Let the one who curses father or mother die the death.
11
But you say, If a person says to father or mother, Whatever you
were owed from me is Qorban [that is, gift],
12
you no longer let him
do anything for father or mother,
13
voiding the word of God by your
tradition. And your do many such things.
Two features of this argument are striking. It assumes familiarity
with the vow of qorbana, which does indeed mean “gift” in Aramaic.
One could, in effect, shelter one’s use of property by dedicating it
to the Temple at one’s death, continuing to use it during one’s life.
14
Mishnah envisages a man saying, “Qorban be any benefit my wife
gets from me, for she stole my purse” (m. Ned. 3:2). The simple com-
plaint about the practice in vv. 11–12 may indeed reflect Yeshua’s
position, since his objection to commercial arrangements involving
worship is well attested. But that only focuses our attention all the
more on the syllogistic nature of the argument, which is unlike what
we elsewhere find attributed to Yeshua.
The argument as a whole is framed in Mark 7:6–7 by means of
a reference to the book of Isaiah (29:13): the people claim to honor
God, but their heart is as far from him as their vain worship, rooted
in human commandments. That statement is then related to the cus-
tom of qorban, which is said to invalidate the plain sense of Moses’
prescription to honor parents.
15
The simple and inevitable conclu-
sion is that the tradition violates the command of God (see Mark
7:8–9, 13).
The logic of the syllogism is not complicated, and it can easily be
structured in a different way.
16
The association of similar Scriptures
is reminiscent of the rabbinic rule of interpretation, that a principle
expressed in a text may be related to another text, without identity
of wording between the two passages (kayyose bo bemaqom ’aher).
17
But
the scriptural syllogism by no means requires the invocation of any
14
See m. Nedarim; Zeev W. Falk, “Notes and Observations on Talmudic Vows,”
HTR 59 (1966) 309–12.
15
Compare Exod 20:2; 21:17; Lev 20:9; Deut 5:16.
16
As happens in Matt 15:3–9.
17
See Chilton and Craig A. Evans, “Jesus and Israel’s Scriptures,” in Chilton
and Evans (eds.), Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research
(NTTS 19; Leiden: Brill, 1994) 281–335, esp. 294–95.
120 nntcr cnir+ox
such formal principle. The fundamental argument is that the Law
and the Prophets are antithetical to the practice of authorities in the
Temple.
The rhetoric of the syllogism turns on the necessity of honoring
Moses, as in the interpretation attributed to Yakov in Acts 15 (see
Acts 15:21). Moreover, the principle inherent here is that Scripture
is that which is actually implemented in the case of Yeshua’s move-
ment. Finally, the centrality of the Temple is manifest throughout.
Conclusion: Yakov the Nazirite
The stance of Yakov as concerns purity and the Temple, as well as
his interpretation of Scripture, comports well with Hegesippus’ descrip-
tion of his particular practices. The evidence in aggregate suggests
that Yakov understood his brother as offering an access to God
through the Temple, such that Israel could and should offer God
the Nazirites with their vows, such as Moses provided for. It has
been argued that Yeshua himself adhered to such a position,
18
but
that seems to put a strain on his usual practice of fellowship at
meals.
19
Indeed, our suggestion that Yakov was a Nazirite,
20
and saw his
brother’s movement as focused on produces more Nazirites, enables
us to address an old and as yet unsolved problem of research. Yeshua,
18
So an as yet unpublished paper by Markus Bockmuehl, given at the meeting
of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas in Birmingham in 1997. Of all the
arguments adduced, the most attractive is that Yeshua’s statement concerning wine
and the kingdom involves his accepting Nazirite vows. See P. Lebeau, Le vin nou-
veau du Royaume: Etude exégétique et patristique sur la Parole eschatologique de Jésus à la Cène
(Paris: Desclée, 1966); M. Wojciechowski, “Le naziréat et la Passion (Mc 14,25a;
15:23),” Bib 65 (1984) 94–96. But the form of Yeshua’s statement has not been
rightly understood, owing to its Semitic syntax. He is not promising never to drink
wine, but only to drink wine in association with his celebration of the kingdom. See
B. Chilton, A Feast of Meanings: Eucharistic Theologies from Jesus through Johannine Circles
(NovTSup 72; Leiden: Brill, 1994) 169–71.
19
It is for this reason that the circle of James also sought to restrict the defi-
nition of who might participate in the full celebration of the eucharist. Mark 14:12–15
turns that meals into a Seder, in which only the circumcised could participate; see
Chilton, A Feast of Meanings, 93–108.
20
See the more global construction of Robert Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus:
The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York:
Viking, 1996).
¡.vrs, ¡rsts, .xr ¸trs+ioxs or s.xc+i+v 121
bearing a common name, is sometimes referred to as “of Nazareth”
in the Gospels, and that reflects how he was specified in his own
time. There is no doubt but that a geographical reference is involved
(see John 1:45–46).
21
But more is going on here. Actually, Yeshua
is rarely called “of Nazareth” or “from Nazareth,” although he was
probably known to come from there. He is usually called “Nazoraean”
or “Nazarene.” Why the adjective, and why the uncertainty in
spelling? The Septuagint shows us that there were many different
transliterations of “Nazirite”: that reflects uncertainty as to how to
convey the term in Greek. (That uncertainty is not in the least sur-
prising, since even the Mishnah refers to differing pronunciations
[see Nazir 1:1].) Some of the variants are in fact very close to what
we find used to describe Yeshua in the Gospels.
In the Gospel according to Mark, the first usage is in the mouth
of a demon, who says to Yeshua (Mark 1:24):
We have nothing for you, Nazarene Yeshua!
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the holy one of God!
In this usage, “Nazarene” in the first line clearly parallels “the holy
one of God” in the last line. The demon knows Yeshua’s true iden-
tity, but those in the synagogue where the exorcism occurs do not.
And they do not hear the demons, because Yeshua silences them
(so Mark 1:25). This is part of the well known theme of the “Messianic
secret” in Mark.
22
For Yakov and those who were associated with him, Yeshua’s true
identity was his status as a Nazirite. The demons saw what others
did not, and after the resurrection the knowledge of the holy one
of God could be openly acknowledged and practiced. That practice
could include men, women, and slaves, in accordance with the
Mishnah (Nazir 9:1). In the Christian movement, the custom was
apparently widespread. In Acts 18:18, it is said that even Paul “had
his head shorn in Kenkhraea, because he had a vow.” Such vows
21
Indeed, there was even a place called Bethlehem of Nazareth, according to
the Talmud; see B. Chilton, God in Strength: Jesus’ Announcement of the Kingdom (SNTU
1; Freistadt: Plöchl, 1979; repr. BibSem 8; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987) 311–13.
22
See B. Chilton, “Exorcism and History: Mark 1:21–28,” in D. Wenham and
C. L. Blomberg (eds.), The Miracles of Jesus (Gospel Perspectives 6; Sheffield: JSOT
Press, 1986) 253–71.
122 nntcr cnir+ox
in regard to hair alone were held in Mishnah to equate to a Nazirite
vow (Nazir 1:1), so that whatever Paul thought of his vow from his
own perspective, many would have seen him as falling in with the
program of Yakov, the brother of Yeshua. Under the influence of
Yakov, they might have said, even Paul was concerned with getting
it right.
¡.vrs, ¡rsts, .xr ¸trs+ioxs or s.xc+i+v 123
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DIVIDING IT RIGHT
WHO IS A JEW AND WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
Scott Langston
Bruce Chilton, in his paper, “Getting it Right: James, Jesus, and
Questions of Sanctity,” has offered an interesting and insightful inter-
pretation of Yakov (i.e., James) and his role in the early church by
combining biblical and non-biblical traditions. In doing so, he also
has developed a stimulating reading of the question of Jewish and
Gentile identity within early Christianity. He correctly points out
that as the Christian movement began to expand beyond Jewish cir-
cles, conflict arose regarding the status of Gentile believers, or con-
verts, in relation to Jewish identity and piety. While on the surface,
the biblical text appears to paint a picture of unity within the new
movement, Chilton has highlighted the early struggles among the
movement’s leadership.
As is well known, the conflict arose over the necessity of circum-
cision for Gentile believers in Yeshua (i.e., Jesus). The two prevail-
ing opinions among the early church were represented by Paul, who
asserted that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised (Acts 15:1–2),
and by those believers among the Pharisees, who argued for the
necessity of circumcision (Acts 15:5). Apparently, the debate origi-
nally raged over whether or not circumcision was necessary to gain
or signify entrance into the covenant (at least as it is portrayed in
Acts 15:1, 11). Just as any uncircumcised Jew would be excluded
from the covenant, would not the same principle apply to Gentiles
who wanted to become part of the covenant people (Gen 17:12–14)?
The debate, however, developed into an argument over Jewish and
Gentile distinction within Christianity, and the subsequent expres-
sions of piety. Luke records that the church in Jerusalem agreed that
circumcision was not necessary for Gentile believers, but honoring
Mosaic laws was (Acts 15:19–22). What exactly did this mean?
The answer to this question is rooted in the significance of cir-
cumcision. Did this rite serve as a ritual that distinguished Jew from
Gentile? Chilton proposes that Yakov and Paul come to differing
conclusions on this matter. For Paul, belief in Christ essentially made
non-Jews into Jews; they were now a part of the true Israel, and
circumcision was superfluous. Yakov, on the other hand, believed
that while Gentiles did not need to be circumcised, a distinction
remained in effect between the two groups. Although Gentiles should
acknowledge the Law through basic observances, their status remained
that of Gentiles; a division between Jew and Gentile continued.
That first century Jewish Christians should come to different con-
clusions regarding the significance of circumcision is not surprising.
The same debate had been taking place among the Jewish popula-
tion as the pressure of Hellenism exerted itself on Jewish practices.
Ambiguity concerning circumcision can be found among many Jewish
writings. A few examples will suffice. On the one hand, the book of
Jubilees (15:25–34) reflects a tradition that considered circumcision as
a vital rite distinctive to the Jewish nation. It characterized circum-
cision as an eternal law for Israelites that distinguished them from
“Ishmael and his sons and his brothers and Esau.” Anyone who was
not circumcised did not bear the sign identifying him as a son of
the covenant, and, therefore, was destined to be destroyed and
uprooted from the land. In spite of these repercussions, the author
envisioned a time when Israel would not circumcise their children,
thereby provoking the wrath of God. The stakes were high for “there
is therefore for them no forgiveness or pardon so that they might
be pardoned and forgiven from all of the sins of this eternal error.”
Josephus recorded in his Jewish Antiquities (20.2.3–5 §34–53) the con-
version to Judaism of Helena, queen of Adiabene and her son, Izates.
In this account, circumcision clearly was associated with Jewish iden-
tity, but its necessity for Izates was debated. When Izates considered
undergoing circumcision, he was discouraged from doing so by his
mother who believed that his subjects would resent being ruled over
by a Jew. Ananias, the Jewish merchant of Charax-Spasini (Spasinou)
who persuaded Izates to convert, agreed, arguing that he could still
worship God, though uncircumcised. After all, worship of God was
superior to circumcision. A Jew from the Galilee, Eleazar, however,
disagreed, contending that circumcision was necessary. According to
Josephus, God preserved Izates from any repercussions resulting from
his circumcision. Interestingly, it was Ananias, the Jew living outside
of Palestine, who did not believe that circumcision was required,
while Eleazar, the Jew living in Palestine, who did.
1
What is significant
1
Charax Spasini (Spasinou) was located in lower Mesopotamia. The site of Jabel
126 sco++ r.xos+ox
for the current discussion is the representation of dissenting opinions
among Jews regarding the requirement of circumcision for converts.
2
These dissenting opinions can be found in other works as well.
Philo, the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher, revealed some ambiva-
lence in his understanding of the significance of circumcision. In his
Quaestiones et Solutiones in Genesin (3.47–52; see also De Specialibus Legibus
1.1–11), he demonstrated a dual understanding of this ritual. Philo
certainly saw benefits to literal circumcision, yet, he also understood
the ritual to have less literal applications. Circumcision not only dealt
with the cutting away of the foreskin of the penis, but it also con-
cerned itself with the cutting away of vain opinions of the mind,
including arrogance and excessive desires. According to Philo, “For
the mind which is not circumcised and purified and sanctified of the
body and the passions which come through the body will be cor-
rupted and cannot be saved” (3.52).
3
He also did not consider cir-
cumcision to be a distinctively Jewish act since it was practiced by
the Egyptians, Arabs, Ethiopians, and almost all those living in “the
southern regions near the torrid zone” (3.48). Nor did he seem to
identify circumcision as necessary for a convert since in his discus-
sion concerning why Israelites were not to oppress sojourners (con-
verts),
4
he defined the sojourner as “one who circumcises not his
uncircumcision but his desires and sensual pleasures and the other
passions of the soul” (Quaestiones et Solutiones in Exodum 2.2). Yet, despite
the spiritual significance of circumcision (and other rites), Philo did
not believe that the physical act should be neglected (De Migratione
Abraham 89–93). Thus, Philo reflected a spiritual application of cir-
cumcision, while defending its physical necessity. He further demon-
strated some doubt as to its physical distinctiveness as a Jewish act.
Perhaps to him, what was distinctively Jewish was the spiritual impli-
cations of circumcision.
Khayabir, near modern Basra, has been suggested as the site of Charax Spasini.
See John Hansman, “Charax and the Karkheh,” Iranica Antiqua 7 (1967) 21–58.
2
Gary Gilbert argued that the story of the conversion of Izates reflected the
belief “that some Jews could separate their Jewish identity from the practice of cir-
cumcision.” See Gilbert, “The Making of a Jew: ‘God-Fearer’ or Convert in the
Story of Izates,” USQR 44 (1991) 309. It also is significant that this story repre-
sents dissenting opinions among Jews.
3
All translations of Philo come from F. H. Colson et al., Philo (12 vols., LCL;
London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1929–53).
4
The Greek word used to translate the Hebrew ¬: is prosÆlutow, which Philo
appears to have understood as “proselyte.”
vno is . ¡rv .xr vn.+ is . cnnis+i.x: 127
The use of circumcision to denote something beyond the literal
cutting away of the foreskin also can be found among the Dead Sea
Scrolls in the Manual of Discipline (1QS 5:4–5). There, members are
encouraged to circumcise their desires and stubbornness. While using
circumcision as an image of disciplined obedience does not abrogate
the literal act, this document at least demonstrates that circumcision
stood as a symbol in some Jewish circles. Furthermore, this refer-
ence to spiritual circumcision occurs within the context of a discus-
sion of those who wish to enter into the covenant. Taken together
with the examples from Philo and Josephus, two characteristics arise
regarding Jewish understandings of circumcision. First, circumcision
generally was associated with Jewish distinctiveness, but some did
question this connection. Secondly, a spiritualized understanding of
circumcision existed side-by-side with its literal application. This idea
was not novel, arising in the biblical text (Deut 10:16); nor does its
existence suggest that performance of the physical act was being set
aside in favor of a spiritualization of it. However, some Jewish com-
munities could have reason and precedent to spiritualize the com-
mand to circumcise; Philo’s protestations against the neglect of
circumcision suggests that some were doing this. Perhaps the increas-
ing pressures of Hellenism led to the more spiritual application of
this rite.
5
With regard to the Acts 15 debate, this ambivalent understand-
ing of circumcision seems to manifest itself among the early Christians,
who primarily were Jewish. Paul does not appear to have developed
an alternative view of authority, but instead he followed a different
tradition current within Judaism, particularly among those more open
to Hellenistic values. Those who believed that its performance was
necessary for Gentile believers reflected the idea that Christianity
5
See Robert G. Hall, “Epispasm: Circumcision in Reverse,” Bible Review 8 (August
1992) 53–57, where he discusses the various Jewish responses to circumcision and
Hellenism. Stephen Pattee attempts to interpret circumcision during the Hellenistic
and Roman periods from a sociological perspective. Operating under the assump-
tion that religious knowledge develops out of empirical observations, he suggests
that the views of Philo and Josephus “may be the consequence of a world view
created by the social and commercial realities of their Hellenistic context.” In other
words, many Jews moved to a spiritualized understanding of circumcision in an
effort to function within a world dominated by a Hellenism that abhorred cir-
cumcision. See his article, “Paul’s Critique of Jewish Exclusivity: A Sociological and
Anthropological Perspective,” Soundings 78 (1995) 589–610.
128 sco++ r.xos+ox
was primarily a Jewish movement, subject to traditional Judaic under-
standings. Those Gentiles coming into the covenant needed to take
upon themselves Jewish identity. Those who preferred a more spir-
itual view of circumcision sought to disassociate Christianity from
traditional Jewish identity by removing the generally-recognized dis-
tinctive mark of Judaism. A struggle, therefore, over the control of
the movement ensued. Would traditional Jewish mores guide and
distinguish the movement, or would there be a break with Judaism?
Would Christianity be controlled by Palestinian Jews or Hellenistic
Jews/Gentiles?
Yakov’s verdict in Acts 15 appears to offer a compromise. He
tried to appease the traditional Jewish Christians by maintaining a
distinction between Jew and Gentile. He attempted to satisfy the
more Hellenized wing of the church by removing the necessity of
circumcision for Gentile believers. Chilton’s understanding of Yakov’s
use of Amos 9:11–12 demonstrates that Yakov attempted to main-
tain a distinction between Jews and Gentiles, but does not address
why he would attempt such a division other than to ensure “that
the position of the Church agree with the principal vocabulary of
the prophets.” Beyond this important concern, however, perhaps
Yakov’s interpretation can be understood as part of the attempted
compromise. His use of Amos 9:11–12, therefore, bears a closer look
within the context of the Hebrew Bible’s traditions concerning the
fate of the Gentile nations.
Two dominant traditions concerning the fate of the Gentiles are
evident within the prophetic corpus. One tradition envisions a time
when the Gentiles stream to Jerusalem and worship together with
Israel. In Isa 2:1–4 (see also Mic 4:1–4) Yahweh’s temple in Jerusalem
is recognized as the chief shrine. As part of that recognition, the
nations come to it in order to receive instruction in God’s ways. A
period of peaceful co-existence among all the nations will ensue as
they look to Jerusalem for spiritual guidance. In other words, the
nations will be brought under the umbrella of Israel as they learn
to worship the true God. Israel will live with the nations peacefully.
Zechariah 8:20–22 concurs that the nations will seek Yahweh in
Jerusalem. In fact, the desire of the nations for Yahweh will be so
strong that ten Gentiles will entreat one Jew for the privilege of
going to Jerusalem in order to worship Yahweh. These passages do
not seem to suggest that the nations have been coerced into com-
ing to Jerusalem, but that they recognize the truth coming from the
vno is . ¡rv .xr vn.+ is . cnnis+i.x: 129
city; nor do they reference any sort of rule of Israel over the Gentiles.
Instead, a peaceful inclusion of the nations in the worship of Yahweh
is maintained. This minority tradition stands in contrast to the more
prominent picture of the nations’ fate found in the prophets.
The vast majority of prophetic texts dealing with the Gentiles
assert that Israel will one day exercise dominion over them. For
example, Mic 4:5–13 envisions a time when Israel would remain
faithful to Yahweh in spite of living among nations who worshipped
other gods. Yahweh then will take this righteous remnant and lead
them to victory over the nations while taking the Gentiles’ wealth
as booty for the Lord. Zephaniah 2 portrays Yahweh as not only
destroying the nations, but allowing the remnant of the house of
Judah to inhabit the territories of their former foes. Obadiah (15–21)
also looked forward to a day when Israel would destroy the nations
and inherit their land. Particular focus is given to Edom where it is
said that “Those who are saved will go up on Mount Zion to rule
Mount Esau and the kingdom will be Yahweh’s.” Joel 2:15–3:21
foresees a period when the Israelites are gathered together on Mount
Zion, and the nations are brought to the valley of Jehoshaphat to
be judged. While Israel will be restored, accompanied by great fer-
tility and plenty of water, the nations will be desolated. Israel will
rule over its land so that “foreigners will not pass through it (i.e.,
Israel) again” [3:17; 4:17 (Hebrew)]. In doing so, the holiness of
Jerusalem will be maintained. All of these passages indicate a com-
mon idea that Israel will exercise dominion over the Gentiles, even
possessing the land of these nations. No picture of a peaceful co-
existence is found within this tradition. Neither is any idyllic image
of Jew and Gentile worshipping Yahweh together at Mount Zion
put forth. The message is clear—Israel will subdue and destroy the
nations.
Amos 9:11–12 fits into this hostile tradition concerning the fate
of the Gentiles vis-a-vis Israel. Here, God will restore the booth
(succa) of David so that Israel can possess the remnant of Edom and
the other nations. The phrase “all the nations that my name will be
called over them” probably refers to the dominion of Yahweh over
the nations. His name will be called over the nations because he
has conquered them. While the identity of the booth of David is
debated (is it the Davidic dynasty, the temple, or the city, Jerusalem?),
the intent of the passage remains clear—Yahweh will give his peo-
ple dominion over the nations.
130 sco++ r.xos+ox
Before returning to Yakov’s use of Amos 9:11–12, one other
prophetic passage deserves consideration. Zechariah 14:16–19, one
of the latest prophetic oracles in the Hebrew Bible, seems to com-
bine the two traditions regarding the fate of the Gentiles. After detail-
ing the defeat of the nations who had massed against Jerusalem in
battle, the survivors of these nations will come to Jerusalem on a
yearly basis to celebrate the Feast of Booths, or Succot. Those who
do not come will be subjected to further discipline from Yahweh.
The nations, however, will be involved in the worship of Yahweh,
not on an equal basis with Israel, but clearly under the dominance
of Israel. If worship is not rendered voluntarily, then the nations will
be compelled to worship Yahweh, or at least, suffer the consequences
for failing to do so. In this passage, Israelite dominance over the
nations has been maintained, while integrating the idea of the nations
worshipping together with Israel. What has changed is the depiction
of the nations coming to Jerusalem uncoerced.
How then are we to understand Yakov’s decision not to require
circumcision of Gentile believers, as well as his appropriation of the
scriptural tradition reflecting Jewish dominance over the Gentiles?
Chilton’s suggestion that Yakov sought to maintain a distinction
between Jewish and Gentile believers is helpful. Not requiring cir-
cumcision of Gentile converts maintained the distinction between Jew
and Gentile prominent in the prophetic tradition used by Yakov. By
asserting that Gentile belief in Yeshua did not redefine Israel, but
instead restored the house of David, Yakov followed the biblical idea
that Israel’s restoration would result in not only Gentile belief, or
conversion, but also Israelite dominance over the Gentiles.
6
As a
result, Gentiles do not become Israelites; a distinction must be main-
tained. Therefore, circumcision, the generally-accepted mark of Jewish
identity, would not be necessary for Gentile converts; in fact, it would
6
Paula Fredricksen has argued that in the early 1st century CE, Jews believed
that the eschatological acknowledgment of God and rejection of idolatry by Gentiles
did not make the Gentiles into Jews. Summarizing Jewish ideas from this period,
she remarks, “When God establishes his Kingdom, then, these two groups will
together constitute ‘his people’: Israel, redeemed from exile, and the Gentiles,
redeemed from idolatry. Gentiles are saved as Gentiles: they do not, eschatologi-
cally, become Jews.” She also identifies two prophetic traditions concerning the
Gentiles, one wherein they are destroyed by or subjected to Israel, and one wherein
they participate in Israel’s redemption. See her article, “Judaism, The Circumcision
of Gentiles, and Apocalyptic Hope: Another Look at Galatians 1 and 2,” JTS 42
(1991) 532–64.
vno is . ¡rv .xr vn.+ is . cnnis+i.x: 131
violate the hope expressed in the prophetic tradition of Israelite
dominion over the nations.
The idea of Israelite dominance over the nations would be fur-
ther strengthened if Yakov used the Septuagintal version of Amos
9:11–12. The Masoretic Text asserts that the booth of David will
be raised in order that the remnant of Edom and all the nations
might be possessed by the nation of Israel. The Septuagint, how-
ever, contains two important variants. Instead of reading the Hebrew
word ::¬“ , “they will possess,” it appears to have understood the
word ::¬“¬“ , “they will seek” (i.e., §kzhtÆsvsin). Moreover, the word
“people” is read by the Septuagint rather than “Edom.” This difference
probably is due to a confusion of the Hebrew word :¬ × (“man,
humanity”) for ::¬×‘ (Edom).
7
Whereas in the Masoretic Text, “Edom”
was the object of the verb “to possess,” its replacement in the
Septuagint, “people,” has been made into the subject of the verb
“to seek.” The meaning has been changed from the Masoretic Text’s
idea that the people of Israel would possess Edom and all nations
to that reflected in the Septuagint of the Gentiles seeking.
8
The Acts
15:17 quotation of Amos 9:12 (LXX) adds the phrase, “the Lord,”
as the object of the Gentiles’ seeking. In essence, these changes allow
the two prophetic traditions concerning the fate of the Gentiles to
be combined, much as they were in Zech 14:16–19. The Gentiles
will seek the Lord, but as Gentiles under the dominance of and dis-
tinct from the Jews.
Perhaps also included in this debate over the status of Gentile
believers was a struggle for control of the fledgling Christian move-
ment. Who would be the ultimate authority in matters of faith and
doctrine? Clearly, since the matter of Gentile circumcision was sub-
mitted to the church in Jerusalem, this church was viewed as the
source of authority for the early Christians. Yet, if Gentiles were
admitted as Jews, then they could potentially claim equal authority
in matters of faith and doctrine. After all, there would be no difference
between Jew and Gentile. Yet, such a situation would not be in
keeping with the vision of the prophets where the nations come to
Jerusalem for instruction and are subservient to Israel. By main-
7
Hans Walter Wolff, Joel and Amos (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977) 350.
8
The Targum of Onkelos identified the house of Israel as the subject of the
verb “to possess.” Thus the house of Israel will possess the nations.
132 sco++ r.xos+ox
taining Jewish distinctiveness, therefore, Yakov sought to insure a
tighter control of the movement. Yakov’s decision concerning the
status of the Gentiles strengthened the authority of the Jerusalem
church.
Yakov’s decision also appears to be an effort designed to forge a
compromise. One wonders why some of the Jewish Christians wanted
to require circumcision of the Gentiles. Perhaps by forcing the Gentiles
to be circumcised, they would be brought under the umbrella or
authority of the Jewish-Christian community in Jerusalem and Palestine.
Reflecting more conservative beliefs, these people probably viewed
the spiritualization of circumcision as another area in which Hellenism
had eroded Jewish piety. Not requiring circumcision of Gentile con-
verts would further dilute the Jewishness of early Christianity. These
people, represented by the Pharisees in Acts 15, sought to keep
Christianity within the fold of Judaism. Paul and those like him,
however, endeavored to free Christianity from the authority of Judaism
by seeking to break free from it. Submitting to circumcision would
only strengthen the ties to Judaism.
Yakov’s decision, therefore, can be understood as somewhat of a
compromise. By not requiring circumcision of Gentile converts, they
would be free from the generally-recognized mark of Jewish identity
and association with Judaism. Seemingly, this would please Paul and
his compatriots because then Christians would not be identified sim-
ply as Jewish converts. On the other hand, by maintaining the dis-
tinction between Jew and Gentile, while requiring the Gentiles to
honor the Mosaic Law and devotion to the temple, Yakov attempted
to please the more conservative faction. Such requirements would
keep in place the prophetic tradition of Gentile subservience to Israel
and, thereby, substantiate the authority of the Jerusalem church,
which no doubt was composed of people more sympathetic to a
Christian piety understood from the vantage point of Judaism. Paul’s
argument, however, that there was no distinction between Jew and
Gentile within Christianity (Gal 3:23–29) weakened the efforts to
interpret Christianity through a more Judaic lens. It opened up
Christianity to the influences of more Hellenized ideas and expres-
sions. Thus, Acts 15 can be understood not only as a debate over
the status of Gentiles in Christianity, but also as a struggle over how
the nascent movement would be shaped and guided.
Some consideration should also be given to how Luke used the
episode of the Jerusalem council in his history of the early church.
vno is . ¡rv .xr vn.+ is . cnnis+i.x: 133
While Yakov seems to have offered a compromise that freed Gentile
coverts from the necessity of taking upon themselves Jewish identity,
but also sought to mold Christian piety under the auspices of Judaism,
Luke used this event as one of several examples of the growing ani-
mosity between Judaism and Christianity. Luke portrays Jews, for
the most part, as largely antagonistic toward the followers of Yeshua,
although some substantial conversions were made. Gentiles, on the
other hand, appear more receptive. Additionally, this episode occurs
in the book at a point where Paul has increasingly been given more
prominence. As one reads through the book, Paul has become the
dominant character with his success in taking the gospel to the
Gentiles in the midst of Jewish hostility. The numerous examples of
Jewish opposition combined with Paul’s higher profile, as well as
episodes such as Peter’s vision in Caesarea seem designed to high-
light the separation of Christianity from Judaism and the authority
of those associated with more traditionally Judaic concepts of piety.
While Yakov’s decision concerning the Gentiles appears to have been
an effort at furthering the development of Christianity under the
auspices of the Jerusalem church, Luke used the story to weaken the
connection by emphasizing the repeal of any mark identifying Gentiles
with Judaism.
Bruce Chilton’s interpretation of Yakov’s decision at the Jerusalem
Council has helped illuminate the inner struggles of early Christianity.
It also has given a much needed emphasis to the Judaic origins of
this movement. Early Jewish Christians from Palestine quite natu-
rally understood their new faith in and devotion to Yeshua in Judaic
terms. Yet, by doing so, their understanding collided with that of
Hellenized Jews and Gentile believers. In many aspects, the very
debates raging within Judaism carried over to Christianity, and pre-
cipitated a crisis that forced the Church’s leadership to determine
the relationship between Jewish and Christian identity.
134 sco++ r.xos+ox
CONCLUSION:
JESUS WITHIN JUDAISM
Bruce Chilton
Jesus and his movement may only be understood within the context
of the Judaism of their time: that has long been a truism of scholar-
ship. In fact, recognition of the Judaic matrix of Christianity pre-
dates what is usually thought of as the period of critical study. John
Reuchlin’s consultation with Jekiel Loans at the close of the fifteenth
century,
1
and Bishop Brian Walton’s magisterial edition of the Jewish
and Christian Bibles of his time
2
are two examples of a programmatic
desire to locate the New Testament in respect of Judaism which was
encouraged by the historical curiosity of the eighteenth century.
3
A comprehensive interest in history provided a necessary condition
for the encyclopedic registration of Judaica, usually in comparison
with the New Testament. John Lightfoot’s Horae Hebricae et Talmudicae
4
provided a model which has been followed and developed many
times since, among others by Emil Schürer (and his revisers),
5
by
Paul Billerbeck,
6
by Claude Montefiore,
7
by George Foot Moore,
8
1
Cf. Francis Barham, The Life and Times of John Reuchlin, or Capnion (London:
Whittaker, 1843) 53–55. Pp. 271–284 present a bibliography.
2
Brian Walton, Biblia Sacra Polyglotta (London: 1655–57).
3
Cf. Henning Graf Reventlow, The Authority of the Bible and the Rise of the Modern
World (London: SCM Press, 1984).
4
Published in Latin between 1658 and 1674, the first edition was reprinted and
translated during the seventeenth century and subsequently. A convenient reprint
of the 1859 Oxford edition is available: John Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New
Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (4 vols., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979).
5
See, for example, the revision of M. Black, G. Vermes, F. Millar, P. Vermes,
M. Goodman, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 BC–AD
135) (4 vols., Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1973–87).
6
Hermann Leberecht Strack and Paul Billerbeck (latterly with J. Jeremias and
K. Adolph), Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch (6 vols., München:
Beck, 1922–61).
7
Claude Goldsmid Montefiore, Rabbinic Literature and Gospel Teachings (London:
Macmillan, 1930); cf. idem (with H. Loewe), A Rabbinic Anthology (London: Macmillan,
1938).
8
George Foot Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: The Age of
the Tannaim (3 vols., Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927–1930).
by Safrai and Stern.
9
The difficulties of comparing the New Testament
with Judaica have been discussed often and thoroughly. Essentially,
two types of problem have been identified: the encyclopedic works
do not provide enough by way of context to permit of a sensitive
reading of Judaica, and they typically fail to do justice to the chrono-
logical development of Judaism in its considerable variety.
Neither type of problem should be taken to mean that the task
of encyclopedic comparison is impossible. But both problems suggest
that students of the New Testament should have recourse to the rel-
evant works of Judaica and to competent introductions. Perhaps the
dearth of readily accessible translations (until recently) explains why,
repeatedly during the course of the twentieth century, Jesus’ rela-
tionship to Judaism has been denied or ignored. Complete denial is
common in popular and/or devotional works, and makes a brief and
lamentable appearance in the guise of critical scholarship with Walter
Grundmann’s exercise for an organization that thrived during the
Third Reich, das Institut des jüduschen Einflusses auf das deutsche kirchliche
Leben.
10
But critical scholars more typically take the tack of Rudolf
Bultmann
11
and his student, Günther Bornkamm:
12
they attempt a
direct comparison of Jesus with the Prophets, ignoring the sources
of the Judaism they describe as “Late.” Rabbinic Judaism is held to
a debased form of the religion which Jesus and the prophets of the
canon upheld.
George Foot Moore’s Judaism marks the beginning of a sea change
from the encyclopedic comparison which had treated Judaism as a
static entity. The advance is perhaps a function of Moore’s approach
of the subject matter in a thoroughly historical manner; he con-
stantly notes that the Judaism he treats of is a variegated phenom-
9
S. Safrai and M. Stern, with D. Flusser and W. C. van Unnik (eds.), The Jewish
People in the First Century: Historical Geography, Political History, Social, Cultural and Religious
Life and Institutions (2 vols., CRINT 1.1–2; Assen: Van Gorcum; Philadelphia: Fortress,
1974–76). See also S. Safrai, with P. J. Tomson (eds.), The Literature of the Sages: The
Literature of the Jewish People in the Period of the Second Temple and the Talmud (CRINT
2.3; Assen: Van Gorcum; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987).
10
Walter Grundmann, Jesus der Galiläer und das Judentum (Veröffentlichungen des
Instituts zur Erforschung des jüdischen Einflusses auf das deutchse kirchliche Leben;
Leipzig: Weigand, 1940).
11
Cf. Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus (Die unsterblichen, die geistigen Heroen der
Menschheit; Berlin: Deutsche Bibliotek, 1926); r+: Jesus and the Word (New York:
Scribner’s, 1934).
12
Cf. Günther Bornkamm, Jesus von Nazareth (Urban-Bütcher 19; Stuttgart:
Kohlhammer, 1956); r+: Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Harper & Row, 1960).
136 nntcr cnir+ox
enon.
13
But the implications of pluralism within Judaica for the com-
parative task are not spelled out, because Moore limits himself to
an ostensible description of Judaism, and leaves aside an analytic
comparison with the sources of Christianity. The great problem of
Moore’s opus is hermeneutical, rather than methodological. Because
he wrote in an environment in which the global contrast between
Judaism and Christianity was simply assumed, despite his warnings
against that assumption, his work has been (mis)taken as simply one
more exercise in encyclopedic comparison.
Moore was especially attracted to the teachers within the rabbinic
corpus to whom miraculous powers are attributed. His two best
examples are Honi, called the circler, and Hanina ben Dosa.
14
Honi
is said to have been able to control rain by praying within a circle
he drew on the ground, and Hanina is said to have brought about
healing at a distance by means of prayer. Moore observes that nei-
ther Honi nor Hanina appears to have been a very influential teacher,
but he locates them both within rabbinic Judaism. As he points out,
even Aqiba was said to have prayed successfully for rain.
15
In his popular work, Jesus the Jew, Geza Vermes takes up just
these two examples within his portrait of Jesus as a “charismatic”
or “Hasid.”
16
Vermes differs from Moore, however, in presenting
that category as an alternative to that of a rabbi. His argument is
nothing if not elastic, since he even concludes that Eliezer ben
Hyrcanus was a charismatic, a sage renowned for his mastery of tra-
dition.
17
Despite the wealth of halakhic and exegetical material attrib-
uted to Eliezer, Vermes makes him out as a non-rabbinic charismatic
on the strength of his recourse to miraculous demonstration during
the dispute over the stove of Akhnai in Baba Mesia 59b. In fact,
Eliezer’s alleged recourse to miracle is no more incompatible with
his standing within rabbinic discussion than is Hillel’s designation as
13
See, for example, George Foot Moore, “Character of Judaism,” in Judaism,
1.110–21. Today, of course, the pluralism would be emphasized much more, and
Moore’s claim of the achievement of “unity and universality” (p. 111) at the close
of the period would be denied.
14
See Moore, Judaism, 1.377–78; 2.222, 235–36; 3.119.
15
Moore, Judaism, 2.209, 235.
16
Geza Vermes, “Jesus and Charismatic Judaism,” in idem, Jesus the Jew: An
Historian’s Reading of the Gospels (London: Collins, 1973; repr. Philadelphia: Fortress,
1981) 69–82. The first edition appeared in 1967.
17
In regard to Eliezer, see Jacob Neusner, Eliezer ben Hyrcanus: The Tradition and
the Man (2 vols., SJLA 3–4; Leiden: Brill, 1973).
¡rsts vi+nix ¡tr.isv 137
a hasid.
18
Another sign of Vermes’s conceptual embarrassment is that
he suddenly refers to Hanina’s teaching as “logia,”
19
comparable to
Jesus’, when in fact they are incorporated together with other teach-
ers’ wisdom within "Abot, the appendix to the Mishnah (3:9–10),
without any indication that—as Vermes maintains—“rabbi” and
“hasid” were mutually exclusive categories.
Vermes does not explain the sources of his thought (nor, indeed,
his debt to Moore), but they are plain enough. The neo-orthodox
mode of Protestant thought (and, in its wake, Catholic thought) after
the Second World War made Martin Buber a companion saint with
Karl Barth, and the image of the prayerful Hasid appealed both to
theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr and to historians such as
Roland De Vaux and André Dupont-Sommer in their work on the
Dead Sea Scrolls.
20
The picture of the sectarians of Qumran as
monastic Hasidim has since drawn considerable criticism. Indeed,
Millar Burrows remarked as early as 1955:
Not a few scholars have identified the covenanters of Qumran with
the Hasidim. The term Hasidim, however, seems to designate devout,
conservative Jews in general rather than a definite sect or party. We
may therefore say that the organized sect of the Dead Sea Scrolls
arose among the Hasidim, but this does not yet provide a specific
identification.
21
Vermes, at first active within the French-speaking Catholic circles
which propagated the hasidic/Essene hypothesis, worked on the scrolls
during the period in which the hypothesis was most in vogue, and
he has recently been described as having “reiterated it without any
essential modification ever since.”
22
18
Cf. Nahum N. Glazer, Hillel the Elder. The Emergence of Classical Judaism (Washington:
B’nai B’rith, 1959).
19
Vermes, “Jesus and Charismatic Judaism,” 77.
20
Cf. Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man. A Christian Interpretation
(2 vols., New York: Scribner’s, 1949) 2.110–14, for a commendation of “self-tran-
scendence” which is—earlier in the volume—also attributed to Buber, 1.133, 2.26.
In association with Niebuhr’s work, it way be instructive to read Buber’s The Origin
and Meaning of Hasidism (ed. and tr. M. Friedman; New York: Horizon, 1960), espe-
cially “Spirit and Body of the Hasidic Movement,” 113–49. In regard to the Scrolls,
see Millar Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking, 1955) 279–98, which
in some ways anticipates the current period of revisionism concerning the Essene
hypothesis in the study of Qumran.
21
Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls, 274–75.
22
Philip R. Davies, “Qumran Beginnings,” in idem, Behind the Essenes. History and
Ideology in the Dead Sea Scrolls (BJS 94; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987) 15–31, here 15.
138 nntcr cnir+ox
The adjective “charismatic” serves in Vermes’s reading to distin-
guish Jesus (with Honi and Hanina) from any communal structure.
It functions in the manner of Max Weber’s portrait of the charis-
matic hero whose personality is the basis of a religious movement
in its initial, revolutionary stage; if the movement continues, a set-
tled hierarchy is the mark of its routinization.
23
It remains an unresolved issue within critical study, however,
whether that paradigm of charismatic heroism can appropriately be
applied to Honi, Hanina, or Jesus. As if in compensation for the
lack of direct evidence for a portrait of Jesus as such a self-con-
sciously heroic figure, Vermes pushed the discussion of the Aramaic
locution “son of man” in a new and interesting direction. Building
upon the earlier work of (and the examples already adduced by)
Hugh Odeberg,
24
Vermes suggested that a speaker might refer to
himself as “son of man” as a circumlocution for his own personal
existence, rather than as belonging to humanity as a whole.
25
In three respects, Vermes’s portrait of the charismatic Hasid has
been weakened since the publication of Jesus the Jew. First, William
Scott Green has shown that Honi and Hanina were both claimed
by rabbis of a later period as of their own, so that any bifurcation
of “Hasidim” from rabbis within the first century would not seem
to be recommended.
26
(But then, Vermes’s own reference to Eliezer,
and Moore’s to Aqiba, should already have been taken as warnings
against such a bifurcation.) Second, the notion of the isolation of
Galilee from Judea (and from the Greco-Roman world), which is
asserted several times by Vermes without supporting evidence, has
effectively been disproved by subsequent study.
27
Third, it has been
23
See Max Weber (ed. and tr. S. N. Eisenstadt), “Charisma and Institutionalization
in the Sphere of Religion and Culture,” in idem, On Charisma and Institution Building
(The Heritage of Sociology; Chicago; University of Chicago Press, 1968) 251–309.
24
See Hugh Odeberg, The Aramaic Portions of Bereshit Rabbah (Lund Universitets
Arsskrift 36.3; Lund: Gleerup, 1939) 92, 154–57.
25
Vermes, Jesus the Jew, 160–91; idem, “The ‘Son of Man’ Debate,” JSNT 1
(1978) 19–32.
26
William Scott Green, “Palestinian Holy Men: Charismatic Leadership and
Rabbinic Tradition,” in W. Haase (ed.), Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt
II.19.2 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1979) 619–47, 646. At the same time, Green acknowl-
edges, in the tradition of Moore, the distinction between miracle and tradition as
a ground of authority.
27
Cf. Eric M. Meyers, “The Cultural Setting of Galilee: The Case of Regionalism
and Early Judaism,” in W. Haase (ed.), Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt II.19.1
(Berlin: de Gruyter, 1979) 686–702. Vermes is specifically criticized on p. 690 (with
n. 12).
¡rsts vi+nix ¡tr.isv 139
demonstrated that “son of man” in Aramaic is a generic form of
language in which a speaker includes himself within the realm of
humanity, rather than the heroic designation of oneself as distinct
from others which Vermes claimed it was.
28
Despite the weakness of its own argument, Jesus the Jew has brought
about a renewal of interest in the Judaic matrix of Jesus and Christian-
ity.
29
The Aims of Jesus by Ben F. Meyer signaled a fresh and vital
engagement with Judaism by scholars of the New Testament.
30
Meyer
focused upon the texts of the Gospels in the first instance, with a
critical capacity to allow for the tendencies of development which
took up from the time of Jesus. In his exegetical focus as well as in
his sensitivity to literary development, Meyer presaged the work of
the next decade, the most intense and critical discussion of Jesus
since the last century. At the same time, Meyer never lost sight of
the catalytic place of eschatology within the Judaic milieu of Jesus,
and of the principal terms of reference within the Judaism of Jesus’
period. Meyer’s book is an enduring monument of its own insight
and of what was to come, as important in its time as Weiss’s Die
Predigt Jesu was in the last century.
31
The principal insight which Meyer offers is that Jesus is only to
28
See Bruce Chilton, “The Son of Man: Human and Heavenly,” in F. Van
Segbroeck et al. (eds.), The Four Gospels 1992: Festschrift Frans Neirynck (BETL 100;
3 vols., Leuven: Peeters and University Press, 1992) 1.203–18; also available in
J. Neusner (ed.), Approaches to Ancient Judaism (New Series), Volume Four. Religious and
Theological Studies (South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism 81; Atlanta:
Scholars Press, 1993) 97–114.
29
Cf. G. Vermes, Jesus and the World of Judaism (London: SCM Press, 1983);
idem, The Religion of Jesus the Jew (London: SCM Press, 1993). Mention should be
made of Donald A. Hagner, The Jewish Reclamation of Jesus. An Analysis & Critique of
the Modern Jewish Study of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), as providing a
review of some of the literature. Just after the publication of Hagner’s work, Harvey
Falk’s Jesus the Pharisee: A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus (New York: Paulist, 1985)
appeared. Falk defends the position of Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697–1776), which he
also cites (p. 19):
. . . the writers of the Gospels never meant to say that the Nazarene came to
abolish Judaism, but only that he came to establish a religion for the Gentiles
from that time onward. Nor was it new, but actually ancient; they being the
Seven Commandments of the Sons of Noah, which were forgotten.
Together with Hagner’s, Falk’s book demonstrates the continuing influence of apolo-
getic considerations within scholarly discussion.
30
Ben F. Meyer, The Aims of Jesus (London: SCM Press, 1979).
31
On the importance of Weiss within critical discussion, see B. Chilton, The
Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus (Issues in Religion and Theology 5; London:
SPCK; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984).
140 nntcr cnir+ox
be understood within the medium of Judaism, but that the move-
ment of which the New Testament is the greatest monument itself
represents an understanding of Judaism as well as a portrayal of
Jesus.
32
Where Vermes sketched a version of early Judaism on the
basis of Rabbinic sources within which he attempted to categorize
Jesus, Meyer located Jesus within Judaism, but then allowed of the
distinctive character and logic of Jesus’ movement, because early
Judaism was more pluralistic than Rabbinic literature alone would
suggest. That should have been the first lesson we learned from the
scrolls found near Qumran. Vermes’s Jesus is a charismatic miracle-
worker whose teaching was incidental; Meyer’s Jesus is galvanized
by a particular and specifiable purpose which his teaching expresses
and his actions effect. The focus of Jesus’ aims, according to Meyer,
was the restoration of Israel:
In sum, once the theme of national restoration in its full eschatologi-
cal sweep is grasped as the concrete meaning of the reign of God,
Jesus’ career begins to become intelligible as a unity.
33
The number of the apostles who are commissioned to preach and
heal is not a coincidental rounding, but corresponds to the para-
digm of the tribes of Israel.
34
Jesus and his followers were motivated
by the hope of the restoration and extension of the people of God,
in that for them “the religious factor should become absolutely deci-
sive for the self-definition of Israel.”
35
Meyer’s analysis was not, and did not pretend to be, entirely orig-
inal. Joachim Jeremias, in Jesu Verheissung für die Volker,
36
had already
called attention to the symmetry between (on the one hand) the
prophetic and rabbinic expectation of the eschatological extension of
Israel, and (on the other hand) the radical claims attributed to Jesus.
In the view of Jeremias those attributions are correct, while Meyer
is more cautious in his assessments of authenticity. Meyer’s book
would merit continued attention if its only contribution was to re-
tool Jeremias’s analysis for a new day. But its genuine originality is
32
Meyer, Aims of Jesus, 223, 239–41.
33
Meyer, Aims of Jesus, 221.
34
Meyer, Aims of Jesus, 153–54.
35
Meyer, Aims of Jesus, 223.
36
J. Jeremias, Jesu Verheissung für die Volker (Kohlhammer: Stuttgart, 1956); r+:
Jesus’ Promise to the Nations (SBT 14; London: SCM Press, 1958). As Jeremias him-
self remarks in his preface, he in turn worked out the suggestions of B. Sundkler,
“Jésus et les païens,” RHPR 16 (1936) 462–63.
¡rsts vi+nix ¡tr.isv 141
more profound. Meyer was not trapped, as Jeremias ultimately was,
by the programmatic assumption that the Gospels are reliable as his-
tory. Rather, Meyer freely allowed that the Gospels are tendentious,
but he went on to argue convincingly that the positions ultimately
attributed to Jesus are most easily explicable on the supposition that
the theology of restoration was in fact Jesus’ aim.
Meyer elegantly rectified an anomaly within the critical study of
Jesus. The anomaly had been that, while scholars of the New
Testament generally stressed the importance of developing tenden-
cies within the corpus, the old, encyclopedic comparisons with Judaism
were inclined to accept assertions in the Gospels at face value. Since
the Synoptic Gospels in their received forms are the products of
communities in the Hellenistic world (probably in Rome [Mark],
Damascus [Matthew], and Antioch [Luke]) who lived in tension with
Jewish institutions, it is all too easy to read a Jesus off the page who
triumphantly transcends Judaism. Vermes inadvertently yields to that
facile hermeneutic, by according primacy to stories of miracles rather
than teaching, although the critical literature had long since demon-
strated that the likely progression was the reverse. Vermes’s charis-
matic Hasid is less a function of early Judaism than of some of the
most anti-Judaic elements within the Gospels.
37
The challenge of Meyer’s contribution was in various ways taken
up by three works during the decade which followed. Although Borg,
Chilton, and Sanders worked independently, in the approaches of
each a development of Meyer’s perspective is evident. The need for
development was pressing, because—although Meyer indeed framed
his concerns with reference both to early Judaic eschatology and the
emerging tendencies of the New Testament—he finally could only
argue in a general way for a theology of restoration of which Jesus
37
At least, however, Vermes’s version of the hermeneutic of transcendence is rel-
atively sophisticated. In the case John Riches, Jesus and the Transcendence of Judaism
(London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1980), we have an appeal to the old saw that
Jesus set out to replace the religion which was in fact his milieu. It is not surpris-
ing, in view of the apologetic tendency of discussion which has already been noted,
that Judaism becomes the cipher within a theological claim of transcendence. After
all, long after Jesus der Galiläer was published, Grundmann continued to argue a
form of his position; cf. W. Grundmann, Die Geschichte Jesu Christi (Berlin: Evangelische
Verlagsanstalt, 1956); idem, Die Entscheidung Jesu. Zur geschichtlichen Bedeutung der Gestalt
Jesu von Nazareth (Berlin: Evangelische Verlag, 1972); idem, Die frühe Christenheit und
ihre Schriften: Umwelt, Entstehung und Eigenart der neutestamentlichen Bücher (Stuttgart: Calwer,
1983).
142 nntcr cnir+ox
availed himself. His principal sources were the classical Prophets of
the Bible and the Gospels’ portrayal of Jesus public ministry and
teaching. Meyer left unexplored the realia of practice and belief
which might have occasioned a career such as Jesus’ within Judaism,
and the particulars which distinguished him from others.
In 1984, Marcus Borg published a revised version of his doctoral
dissertation, written under the supervision of George Caird at Oxford
University. Entitled Conflict, Holiness and Politics in the Teaching of Jesus,
Borg attempted to locate Jesus’ activity within the world of Judaic
concerns regarding purity.
38
Building upon the phenomenological
approach to religion developed by Huston Smith, Borg argues that
Jesus, in the manner of shamans, the prophets, and the Buddha,
acted on the basis of special insight into “the primordial tradition”
which is accessible by mystical experience.
39
The hypostasis of allegedly common experience into a monist “tra-
dition,” as in Smith’s work (and Otto’s and Eliade’s before him, as
well as Campbell’s alongside him) has not stood up well to criticism
among religionists.
40
Borg makes Jesus into a hero of religious expe-
rience; any consideration of the setting of his teaching within Judaism
is made subsidiary to the claim that his mystical insight was pro-
found and that it was mature at a relatively early stage in his life:
Occasionally and remarkably, sagacity is found in younger persons, as
in Jesus and the Buddha. In such instances, the vantage point is
38
M. J. Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics in the Teaching of Jesus (Studies in the
Bible and Early Christianity 5; New York: Mellen, 1984; repr. Harrisburg: Trinity
Press International, 1998). The dissertation was submitted in 1972, but the preface
makes it clear that much of the distinctive matter of the book was developed after-
wards.
39
Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics, 230–47.
40
On p. 380, Borg cites Smith’s Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition and Eliade’s
Myth and Reality. Otto’s The Idea of the Holy is also of foundational importance to
Borg’s definition (p. 73). In a later work, which is in the nature of a populariza-
tion of his approach, Borg approvingly cites Eliade’s Shamanism and Campbell’s Hero
with a Thousand Faces; cf. Borg, Jesus, A New Vision. Spirit, Culture, and the Life of
Discipleship (San Francisco: Harper, 1987) 53. For important criticisms of the con-
ceptions on which Borg relies, see Robert D. Baird, Category Formation and the History
of Religions (The Hague: Mouton, 1971; Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter,
1991); Guilford Dudley, “Mircea Eliade: Anti-Historian of Religions,” JAAR 44
(1976) 345–59; Jonathan Z. Smith, Map Is Not Territory. Studies in the History of Religions
(SJLA 23; Leiden: Brill, 1978); Ivan Strenski, Four Theories of Myth in Twentieth-Century
History. Cassirer, Eliade, Lévi-Strauss and Malinowski (Iowa City: University of Iowa;
Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1987); Shlomo Biderman (ed.), Myth and Fictions. Their Place
in Philosophy and Religion (Leiden: Brill, 1994).
¡rsts vi+nix ¡tr.isv 143
obviously not the product of the age; rather, the transformation of per-
ception is the product of their spiritual experience.
41
Nonetheless, Borg did begin in the central section of his book
42
to
consider Jesus’ attitude toward purity as of primary importance for
an understanding of his ministry for the first time within critical dis-
cussion since the end of the Second World War. He held in effect
that it was Jesus’ particular understanding that God was creating a
newly holy territory, a space for his heavenly throne, which espe-
cially put him into conflict many of with his contemporaries, notably
his Pharisaic contemporaries.
43
But alongside a positive evaluation of Jesus’ program of purity,
Borg also slips into the bifurcation of Jesus and Judaism:
Where Judaism spoke of holiness as the paradigm for the community’s
life, Jesus spoke of mercy.
44
His appeal to the “primordial tradition” ultimately swallows up his
attention to the practice of purity, so that the old apologetic antin-
omy, “the hermeneutical battle between mercy and holiness,”
45
takes
over from any serious discussion of purity as a central category of
Jesus’ ministry. The battle is never resolved in Borg’s mind, in that
he does accept that “a pure heart” was Jesus’ goal.
46
He never con-
siders, however, that the very antinomies to which he averts, purity/
mercy and outside/inside, are those which characterize the most
Hellenistic strata of the Gospels (see, for example, Mark 7 and its
parallels). He is doing what many early Christians did who had
approached Jesus with cultural backgrounds unlike that of Jesus him-
self: unable to comprehend the sense of purity, they made any inter-
est in it a “Pharisaic” anachronism, and portrayed Jesus as a triumphant
herald of anti-cultic common sense. But despite his conceptual con-
fusion, Borg set a standard for subsequent, historical discussion: if
Jesus is to be understood within Judaism, there is an implicit chal-
lenge to discover his view of purity.
Chilton’s book appeared in the same year as Borg’s, and proceeded
41
Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics, 238.
42
Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics, 51–199.
43
See Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics, 93, 230–47.
44
Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics, 128.
45
Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics, 142.
46
Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics, 246.
144 nntcr cnir+ox
along a much narrower line of analysis.
47
His earlier work, on the
place of the kingdom of God within Jesus’ public proclamation, had
suggested that exegetical traditions incorporated within the Targum
of Isaiah were taken up and developed in dominical sayings.
48
A
Galilean Rabbi and His Bible explores the relationship between Jesus
and the Targum further. It confirms that the literary history of the
Targum only commenced after the burning of the Temple in 70
CE, but that there are verbal, contextual, and thematic associations
between exegetical traditions within the Targum and Jesus’ teaching.
The proposed dating of the Targum has been confirmed by sub-
sequent discussion, and the link between targumic traditions and
Jesus’ teaching has generally been granted. In a work published in
1982, Chilton had suggested that the Targum of Isaiah should be
understood to have developed in two principal stages.
49
A version—
no doubt incomplete—of Isaiah in Aramaic was composed by a
meturgeman who flourished between 70 and 135 CE. That work
was completed by another meturgeman, associated with Rabbi Joseph
bar Hiyya of Pumbeditha, who died in 333.
50
Throughout the process,
however, the communal nature of the interpretative work of the
meturgeman was emphasized; insofar as individuals were involved,
they spoke as the voice of synagogues and of schools.
51
Given the
47
Bruce D. Chilton, A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible: Jesus’ Use of the Interpreted
Scripture of His Time (GNS 8; Wilmington: Glazier, 1984); also with the subtitle Jesus’
own interpretation of Isaiah (London: SPCK, 1984).
48
Bruce D. Chilton, God in Strength: Jesus’ Announcement of the Kingdom (SNTU 1;
Freistadt: Plöchl, 1979; repr. BibSem 8; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987).
49
Cf. Bruce D. Chilton, The Glory of Israel. The Theology and Provenience of the Isaiah
Targum ( JSOTSup 23; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1982). It might be mentioned, in the
interests of accuracy, that the date printed on the title page is an error. (Churgin’s
work suffered a similar fate, although the error involved misplacing his book by a
decade! Cf. P. Churgin, Targum Jonathan to the Prophets (Yale Oriental Series [New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1927]). In a condensed form, Chilton’s conclusions
are available in The Isaiah Targum. Introduction, Translation, Apparatus, and Notes (ArBib
11; Wilmington: Glazier; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1987) xiii–xxx.
50
Chilton, The Glory of Israel, 2–3; idem, The Isaiah Targum, xxi. For the sections
of the Targum most representative of each meturgeman; cf. The Isaiah Targum, xxiv.
51
The model developed for the case of the Targum of Isaiah is applied in
D. J. Harrington and A. J. Saldarini, Targum Jonathan of the Former Prophets (ArBib
10; Wilmington: Glazier, 1987) 3; R. Hayward, The Targum of Jeremiah (ArBib 12;
Wilmington: Glazier, 1987) 38; S. H. Levey, The Targum of Ezekiel (ArBib 13;
Wilmington: Glazier, 1987) 3–4; K. J. Cathcart and R. P. Gordon, The Targum of
the Minor Prophets (ArBib 14; Wilmington: Glazier, 1989) 12–14. Levey’s acceptance
of the paradigm is especially noteworthy, in that he had earlier argued that Targum
Jonathan (especially Isaiah) should be placed within the period of the ascendancy
of Islam, cf. “The Date of Targum Jonathan to the Prophets,” VT 21 (1971) 186–96.
¡rsts vi+nix ¡tr.isv 145
periods of development of the Isaiah Targum, the argument that
agreements between the targumic renderings and Jesus’ sayings are
simply a matter of coincidence appear strained.
52
The problem posed by Chilton’s book is not in its findings, but
in interpreting what those findings mean.
53
Chilton himself applies
his discovery within the discussion of Jesus’ use of Scripture.
54
He
comes to the conclusion that Jesus’ method should not be described
as midrash, since there is no general plan of commentary evident
within his sayings. Rather, Jesus employed scripture, scriptural imagery,
and scriptural language (all in the popularly received form, which
would later be crystallized in the Targumim) by way of analogy.
That implicit but powerful analogy—involving both similarities and
critical distinctions—was always between what was said of God and
what Jesus claimed of God as a matter of experience.
The last third of A Galilean Rabbi is devoted overtly to the theo-
logical implications of Jesus’ instrumental usage of scripture. The
book was in fact written to some extent with a view to continuing
debates concerning authority within the Church, and was published
by an Anglican house as well as by a Catholic publisher. There has
been a tendency to confuse the historical and literary analysis of the
book (the relationship between Jesus and the Isaiah Targum) with
its theological argument (that analogy is the appropriate approach
to scripture within the Church).
55
Such a confused reading of the
book leads to the misimpression that Chilton attributed a systematic
theology to Jesus, when his stated conclusion is that Jesus employed
scripture in the service of an experience of God. The question his
book begs does not involve Jesus’ theology of Scripture, for the sim-
ple reason that the existence of such a theology is denied. Jesus’
52
Of course, that does not prevent such arguments from being made; cf. Michael
D. Goulder, “Those Outside (Mk. 4:10–12,” NovT 33 (1991) 289–302.
53
Hence the remarkable conclusion of M. D. Hooker’s review, that although the
connection posited between Jesus’ teaching and the Targum were demonstrated,
they were “only to be expected,” cf. New Blackfriars 66 (1985) 550–52. Cf. the very
different conclusions of M. McNamara in CBQ 47 (1985) 184–86 and 48 (1986)
329–31 and I. H. Marshall in EvQ 58 (1986) 267–70. It is odd that Professor
Hooker now finds such connections predictable, when her work on the phrase “son
of man” is innocent of reference to the Targumim; cf. The Son of Man in Mark
(London: SPCK; Montreal: McGill University Press, 1967).
54
Chilton, A Galilean Rabbi, 148–98.
55
See P. S. Alexander’s review in JJS 36 (1985) 238–42 and, in contrast,
J. Neusner’s in JES 22 (1985) 359–61.
146 nntcr cnir+ox
understanding of how God is experienced is the question that is
opened, and left unresolved.
In Jesus and Judaism, E. P. Sanders made an attempt along the
lines of discussion prior to Vermes’s contribution to make a global
distinction between Jesus and his Judaic milieu.
56
Sanders essentially
takes Meyer’s perspective as axiomatic, and argues that Jesus was
motivated by an ambient theology of the restoration of Israel.
57
His
construction of the theology is more apocalyptic than Meyer would
have it, in that Sanders accepts Schweitzer’s contribution virtually
as read.
58
In that regard, Sanders is out of step with the criticism
of the simplistic eschatology which Schweitzer attributed to Jesus.
59
Borg especially in recent years has been identified with a rigorous
challenge of purely temporal constructions of the kingdom of God
in Jesus’ teaching,
60
and it is surprising that Sanders asserts Scwheitzer’s
position without defending it against Borg’s criticisms. His treatment
of the earlier criticisms of T. F. Glasson and C. H. Dodd
61
does not
deal with the central issue, whether there is in fact evidence of an
apocalyptic scenario held by Jesus, such that he held his actions were
bringing about the kingdom.
The issue of eschatology is subsidiary for Sanders in the end. What
distinguishes Jesus from John the baptizer and Judaism generally is
not his view of the kingdom: that in Sanders’s opinion was com-
monplace. Jesus parted company with his contemporaries over the
issue of repentance. Where they saw repentance as a requirement
of remaining within the covenant, Jesus imagined that the kingdom
of God was making itself available to all Israel, whether there was
repentance or not. Specifically, he insists that Jesus offered the kingdom
56
E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (London: SCM Press; Philadelphia: Fortress,
1985).
57
See chap. 2, “New Temple and Restoration in Jewish Literature,” 77–90, and
chap. 3, “Other Indications of Restoration Eschatology,” 91–119.
58
See Sanders’s treatment of his relationship to Schweitzer in Jesus and Judaism,
327–34.
59
For the difficulties involved in Schweitzer’s conception of Jesus’ apocalypticism,
see T. Francis Glasson, “Schweitzer’s Influence: Blessing or Bane?” JTS 28 (1977)
289–302; also available in Chilton (ed.), The Kingdom of God in he Teaching of Jesus,
107–20.
60
In addition to Borg, Conflict, Holiness, and Politics, see idem, “A Temperate Case
for a Non-Eschatological Jesus,” Forum 2 (1986) 81–102.
61
Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 124–25, 154–56.
¡rsts vi+nix ¡tr.isv 147
to the wicked without repentance.
62
Sanders has been criticized for
the slim evidential basis of his claim.
63
Because a growing emphasis
upon repentance is apparent as the Christian tradition developed,
Sanders takes it that Jesus himself said nothing whatever about repen-
tance.
64
Although the weakness of the logic invoked by Sanders is
obvious, two of its constituent features should be identified, because
they are recurring arguments in the study of Jesus.
The first feature is the global application of “the criterion of dis-
similarity,” developed most articulately by Norman Perrin.
65
The cri-
terion is used to isolate elements within Jesus’ teaching which are
characteristic of Judaism and Christianity; they are then put to the
side, as likely to have been attributed to Jesus during the course of
the transmission of his sayings. The residue of his teaching, every-
thing that is “dissimilar” to what a Jewish or Christian teacher might
have held, is then taken to be authentic.
The assumption of Jesus as the great original, heroically dissimi-
lar from his environment, is intrinsic to every application of the cri-
terion that has ever been attempted. Moreover, from Perrin onwards,
there has been a willingness to discount what seems Jewish and what
seems orthodox, but to embrace as authentic elements which are
consistent with Gnosticism and with Greco-Roman philosophical con-
ventions. (Crossan’s work, discussed below, is an example of that
trend.) Such a bias can only result in the privileging of the chris-
tology of certain wings of early Christianity, the wings within which
it was fashionable to see Jesus as magus, as Cynic, and/or as tran-
scendent Redeemer. In that those fashions were demonstrably gen-
erated after the foundation of the movement, to make them the
touchstone of authenticity is itself an exercise in modern christology.
Sanders’s application of the criterion of dissimilarity exacerbates
its inherent weakness. He is, of course, in no position to claim that
a saying attributed to Jesus contradicts the necessity of repentance.
The only index at his disposal to suggest that Jesus did not require
repentance is that the Gospels claim he did require repentance!
62
See Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 187, 199, 206–208, 227, 322, 323, and his ear-
lier work, “Jesus and the Sinners,” JSNT 19 (1983) 5–36.
63
See Chilton, “Jesus and the Repentance of E. P. Sanders,” TynBul 39 (1988)
1–18.
64
Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 106–13.
65
N. Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus (London: SCM Press; New York:
Harper & Row, 1967) 39.
148 nntcr cnir+ox
Unless one accepts that the criterion of dissimilarity is of such cer-
tainty that one might employ it to invert the stated meaning of texts,
Sanders’s portrait has nothing to recommend it but the allure of an
antinomian Jesus.
The second constituent feature of Sanders’s argument, which also
illuminates much recent discussion, is the assumption that Jesus is
to be understood in historical terms in respect of an alleged rupture
with Judaism. The coordinates of the rupture are carefully laid
out, and have in fact been spelt out during the course of Sanders’s
career. On the side of Judaism, Sanders had (as seen in Paul and
Palestinian Judaism)
66
already defined the religion as a form of “cove-
nantal nomism,” such that “obedience to the Torah” was “the means
of maintaining membership in the covenant established by God’s
grace.”
67
Accordingly, refusing the necessity of repentance would
amount to a systematic (and—one would have thought—conscious)
rejection of received Judaism. On the side of Jesus, Sanders claims
that his interpretation is virtually positivistic, based upon the “cer-
tain knowledge about Jesus’ ministry” (viz., his baptism by John, his
call of disciples, his characteristic activity of healing and preaching,
his “attack” on the Temple, his execution).
68
The antinomy between
nomistic Judaism and an overtly antinomian Jesus seems inescapable.
Sanders nonetheless insists that his reading does not involve a
“polar opposition” between Jesus and Judaism.
69
While his Jesus
indeed does not formally deny Judaism, the question of the Torah
is of structural importance within Sanders’s thesis:
It is important not to oversimplify the stance of Jesus towards his con-
temporaries in Judaism and towards the Jewish law and tradition. He
was not a wild antinomian, nor was he an anti-Jewish Jew. He confined
his preaching and healing to his own people, he acted in the name
of the God of the Patriarchs, and it would appear that he also observed
such commandments as those governing eating and Sabbath obser-
vance. We should repeat that the Jerusalem disciples, after his death,
did not understand him to have “abrogated” the Torah. On the other
66
E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion
(London: SCM Press; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977).
67
The actual formulation is taken from E. P. Sanders, “Jesus, Paul and Judaism,”
in W. Haase (ed.), Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.25.1 (Berlin: de Gruyter,
1982) 39–450, here 394. The article is a succinct statement of a position devel-
oped in several different publications.
68
Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 321.
69
Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 337–40.
¡rsts vi+nix ¡tr.isv 149
hand, he preached the inheritance of the kingdom to those who did
not accept the yoke of the Torah, and he thus extended the salvific
promises not only beyond what a supposedly ossified and stiff-necked
legalism could accept, but beyond what could be reasonably inferred
from Jewish tradition and Scripture.
70
The ideological antinomy between “the Torah” and “the salvific
promises” is as inevitable in its influence upon interpretation as the
exaggerated appeal to the criterion of dissimilarity. Wild or not,
Sanders’s Jesus is antinomian.
Of course, neither side of the antinomy is anything more than
possible, and both appear suppositious. The centrality of the covenant
for Judaism is a virtual truism, but the instrumental role which
Sanders assigns to the law is more characteristic of Rabbinic sources
from the Mishnah and later than of sources of the first century. And
only the latest, most Hellenistic traditions within the Gospels ascribe
an expressly antinomian or anti-cultic intention to Jesus. The attempt
to construe Jesus’ program as a conscious or systematic rupture with
Judaism, to make Jesus and Judaism into a duality, is only feasible
in theological terms, not within the discussion of Jesus as a histori-
cal figure.
A critically more feasible construction of Jesus is offered by Richard
Horsley in Jesus and the Spiral of Violence.
71
Horsley set Jesus’ move-
ment within the context of the increase in banditry within Roman
Palestine during the years leading up to the revolt which included
elements of the priestly aristocracy from 66 CE:
The brigand is a symbol of resistance to injustice as well as a cham-
pion of justice in his righting of wrongs for the poor villagers with
whom he remains in close contact. Moreover, brigands provide the
occasions for supportive peasants to resist the authorities themselves.
72
In contrast to the portrait of Jesus as a zealot, which had been devel-
oped earlier by S. G. F. Brandon,
73
Horsley argues that Jesus’ pro-
grammatically opposed violence, although he also observes that Jesus
70
Sanders, “Jesus, Paul and Judaism,” 427–28.
71
R. A. Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman
Palestine (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987).
72
Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, 37, and see the analysis of pp. 20–58.
See also Horsley and J. S. Hanson, Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs (Minneapolis:
Winston-Seabury, 1985).
73
S. G. F. Brandon, Jesus and the Zealots. A Study of the Political Factor in Primitive
Christianity (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1967).
150 nntcr cnir+ox
can not be described as a pacifist on the grounds of the evidence
available.
74
As Horsley has it, Jesus’ mission was to bring restoration in the
midst of systematic oppression:
. . . Jesus was engaged in direct manifestations of God’s kingdom in
his practice and preaching, and he was confident that God was immi-
nently to complete the restoration of Israel and judge the institutions
that maintained injustice.
75
Horsley’s appealing portrait is evidently indebted to Meyer’s,
76
but
the setting of the portrait develops the hypothesis of Brandon. Horsley’s
analysis is more sophisticated than Brandon’s, in that there is no
assumption that there was a “sustained movement of violent resis-
tance to Roman rule during the first century CE.”
77
But like Brandon,
Horsley projects a desire for revolution onto Jesus, who is therefore
portrayed as a revolutionary.
78
No argument is made to the effect that Jesus or his movement
construed the purpose of his activity within political terms of refer-
ence. There is no question but that Judaism and Christianity are
better understood in respect of Rome, but to conclude that any given
teacher, Judaic or Christian, was motivated by political considera-
tions, requires evidence within the texts to hand. Jesus does not need
to have thought in political or social terms in order to have inspired
Martin Luther King.
Horsley’s contribution, along with Sean Freyne’s,
79
remains useful
as a sketch of some of the most pressing social realities of Palestine
within the first century. But in Horsley’s work, as in Sanders’s, a
disturbing tendency of recent discussion becomes apparent. Because
discussion over the past fifty years or so has greatly enhanced the
critical appreciation of Judaism, it is sometimes assumed that what
is understood of Judaism can be transferred directly to the assess-
ment of Jesus. Sanders finds a theology of restoration in Judaism,
and attributes an antinomian form of it to Jesus; Horsley knows there
74
Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, 319.
75
Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, 321.
76
Meyer, Aims of Jesus; cf. Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, 340 n. 36.
77
Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, 318.
78
Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, 326.
79
See S. Freyne, Jesus, Galilee, and the Gospels. Literary Approaches and Historical
Investigations (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988).
¡rsts vi+nix ¡tr.isv 151
were bandits in Galilee, and sees their motivations (but not their tac-
tics) reflected in the Gospels.
There are two complications in studying Jesus within the milieu
of his Judaism(s). First, the range and diversity of that religion prior
to the destruction of the Temple are enormous, and for the most
part only indirectly attested in the surviving literature. Second, of
course, the Gospels themselves only attest Jesus’ movement from the
time when separation from Judaism had become either an accom-
plished fact or an inevitable development. One reason for which the
field is inclined to dismiss the importance of Judaism for the study
of Jesus is that the evaluation of Judaic sources is no more straight-
forward than the evaluation of the Gospels.
The recent contribution of John Dominic Crossan attests the
strength of the temptation to retreat from Judaism in the evaluation
of Jesus.
80
His book may be read as an extended attempt to con-
struct a portrait of Jesus without reference to Judaism. It begins with
an early complaint that scholars who have analyzed Jesus in rela-
tion to Judaism have come up with differing results:
There is Jesus as a political revolutionary by S. G. F. Brandon (1967),
as a magician by Morton Smith (1978),
81
as a Galilean charismatic by
Geza Vermes (1981, 1984), as a Galilean rabbi by Bruce Chilton
(1984), as a Hillelite or proto-Pharisee by Harvey Falk (1985), as an
Essene by Harvey Falk, and as an eschatological prophet by E. P.
Sanders (1985).
82
Such differences are taken, not as a sign of health in an emerging
sub-discipline, but as a reason to use a different foundation of analy-
sis. Crossan opts for the model of Jesus as a popular philosopher in
the vein of the Cynics (whom he characterizes as “hippies in a world
of Augustan yuppies”),
83
since there were many non-Jews in Galilee.
During the course of his description, he admits that Jesus was unlike
the Cynics in his calling of disciples,
84
in his refusal to have those
80
J. D. Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San
Francisco: HarperCollins; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1991).
81
Crossan’s reference is to M. Smith, Jesus the Magician (San Francisco: Harper
& Row, 1978).
82
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, xxvii.
83
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 421.
84
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 349, 421.
152 nntcr cnir+ox
he sent carry a staff,
85
in his concern for questions of purity, in his
avoidance of cities, in the limitation of his activity to Israel.
86
The mystery is only why Crossan clings to such an evidently faulty
model. That mystery is resolved when he criticizes the understand-
ing of Jesus as a rabbi. His criticism is based upon an elementary
misunderstanding. Crossan sees rabbis during the second century as
the equivalent of the papacy on the Christian side: both are hier-
archical assertions of doctrinal unity which attempt to homogenize
the intrinsic pluralism of their respective religious systems.
87
A dou-
ble projection is evident here. Crossan, a liberal Catholic, sees the
papacy of the twentieth century reflected in the earlier use of com-
munion with Rome as a standard of catholic continuity. However
helpful that first projection may (or may not) be, the second is unwar-
ranted: scholarship of Rabbinic Judaism through the second century
would not encourage comparison, even an attenuated comparison,
with the Vatican in its post-Tridentine form.
Crossan’s confusion becomes egregious, when he goes on to com-
pare rabbis with the priesthood in the Temple, as if they formed a
united front. Evidently, his acceptance of a sociological model of a
charismatic hero of religion opposed by the forces of routinization
has totally overwhelmed even a gesture towards understanding the
complexity of Judaism during the first century:
In all of this the point is not really Galilee against Jerusalem but the
far more fundamental dichotomy of magician as personal and indi-
vidual power against priest or rabbi as communal and ritual power.
Before the Second Temple’s destruction, it was magician against Temple,
and therefore magician against rabbi.
88
Crossan is happy to use Vermes’s image of the hasid for that rea-
son, but he realizes it has not worn well. As a result, he exchanges
the charismatic hasid for a charismatic sage, borrowing the category
of magician from Morton Smith.
89
The point has apparently escaped Crossan’s notice that the teachers
we call rabbis, masters (in varying degrees) of discussion and parable
85
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 339. Earlier, Crossan refers to “cloak, wallet and
staff ” as “almost an official triad” (p. 82).
86
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 421–22.
87
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 417.
88
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 157.
89
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 137–67.
¡rsts vi+nix ¡tr.isv 153
and exposition and judgment and ethics and purity and health and
healing and other aspects of covenantal wisdom, referred to each
other as sages. It has long been commonplace in the field to acknowl-
edge that the formalism of a rabbinate, including a concern for suc-
cession and a notion of a syllabus to be mastered by disciples, only
prevailed with the emergence of rabbis as the basis of systemic
redefinition in the period after 70 CE.
90
Such nuances are lost on
Crossan, who asserts, “There was, in the world and time of Jesus,
only one sort of Judaism, and that was Hellenistic Judaism. . . .”
91
Rabbinic Judaism was exclusive of Hellenistic influences; Jesus was
inclusive.
92
Within such a typology, the fact that Jesus is called “rabbi”
by his followers is simply beside the point.
Just Jesus’ identity as a rabbi is taken as a suitable point of depar-
ture by John P. Meier.
93
Although Meier’s book appeared shortly
before Crossan’s, he reacts to many of its principal contentions (which
had appeared in earlier works). Although he carefully allows for the
findings of Seán Freyne in respect of the Galilean setting of Jesus’
ministry, Meier questions whether we can reasonably claim any
advancement in our knowledge in calling Jesus a peasant. Modern
romanticism often obscures the meaning of the term, and insofar as
Jesus was a member of a peasant society, it was because he was a
woodworking rabbi.
94
Crossan’s usage of the so-called Apocryphal
Gospels is also severely criticized in a judicious treatment of the
likely chronologies and histories of composition.
95
Finally, Meier very
specifically embraces the category of “rabbi” as the suitable desig-
nation of Jesus’ public ministry, and even concludes that Jesus was
literate in Hebrew.
96
Meier’s volume represents the first two parts of
90
Cf. Hayim Lapin, “Rabbi,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary 5 (ed. D. N. Freedman;
New York: Doubleday, 1992) 600–602. As a matter of interest, we might note that
the earlier article of Pierson Parker, “Rabbi, Rabbouni,” The Interpreter’s Dictionary
of the Bible 4 (ed. G. A. Buttrick; New York: Abingdon, 1962) 3, comes to much
the same conclusion. See also Chilton, A Galilean Rabbi, 34–35.
91
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 418.
92
Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 422.
93
J. P. Meier, A Marginal Jew. Rethinking the Historical Jesus (ABRL; New York:
Doubleday, 1991).
94
Meier, A Marginal Jew, 278–315. It should be noted that Crossan’s analysis
belies the subtitle of his book, in that he concludes that Jesus was not a peasant,
but an artisan (The Historical Jesus, pp. 29, 46, cf. 15–19). One might suggest that
Crossan has in fact written “The Life of a Judaeo-Cynic Artisan.”
95
Meier, A Marginal Jew, 112–66.
96
Meier, A Marginal Jew, 276; cf. n. 125 on p. 306.
154 nntcr cnir+ox
a four part project. The first part is devoted to “issues of definitions,
methods, and sources,” and the second deals with “some of the lin-
guistic, educational, political, and social background.” The public
ministry is the focus of part three, while part four considers Jesus’
death.
97
The analysis of Jesus within Judaic terms of reference has been
pursued by Chilton in The Temple of Jesus.
98
Where A Galilean Rabbi
developed a comparison of Jesus’ citation of Isaiah with the inter-
pretative tradition of the Targum, the focal point of The Temple of
Jesus is Jesus’ occupation of the Temple.
99
It is argued that what
Jesus did was in its initial intent neither a protest against sacrifice
nor prediction of the Temple’s destruction, but a forceful insistence
that a condition of purity in sacrifice was that Israelites should offer
of their own produce in God’s house. Purity, in other words, is not
the extraneous matter it is often taken to be, but—as is the case
within sacrificial systems generally,
100
in the Hebrew Bible,
101
and
even in the orientation of Josephus
102
—a vital component within any
sacrifice which is considered effective. Purity refers both to the prod-
ucts which are offered as well as to the gestures by which they are
offered, and by attending to those pragmatic issues, sacrificial com-
munities believe they enjoy the affective and the ideological benefits
which they associate with sacrifice. Because purity is a systemic con-
cern which links sacrifice in the Temple with the domestic practice
of cleanliness, it is precisely Jesus’ view and practice of purity which
was likely to have earned him friends and enemies both locally and
in Jerusalem.
Jesus, in other words, must be understood, not over and against
Judaism, nor alongside it, but from within; necessarily, that implies
he is to be apprehended as having a positive definition of purity.
That definition is cognate with an aspect of Jesus’ ministry which is
usually overlooked: his programmatic concern with the issues of who
is fit to sacrifice, how a person might be considered clean, when
97
Meier, A Marginal Jew, 13.
98
Bruce D. Chilton, The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program Within a Cultural
History of Sacrifice (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992).
99
Chilton, The Temple of Jesus, 91–111.
100
Chilton, The Temple of Jesus, 3–42.
101
Chilton, The Temple of Jesus, 45–67.
102
Chilton, The Temple of Jesus, 69–87.
¡rsts vi+nix ¡tr.isv 155
foods might be taken with whom, and what should be sacrificed.
103
Forgiveness for Jesus established an eschatological purity among peo-
ple whose fellowship and sacrifice opened the way for the kingdom
of God.
104
That programmatic understanding explains his intentional
insistence upon communal eating, and the “last supper” in particular.
105
It has been over sixty years since we were first warned of the peril
of modernizing Jesus.
106
Jesus obviously engaged the religious dimen-
sion of purity, a dimension which linked a complex of issues which
proved to be crucial during his ministry (including sacrifice in the
Temple, fellowship at table, the forgiveness of sins, the declaration
of purity, the definition of who might be included in the eschato-
logical banquet). Purity offers a perspective upon Jesus’ activity which
is not an artifact of the apologetic tradition which attempts to por-
tray him as transcending Judaism. Rather, purity is a systemic con-
cern within early Judaism which Jesus took up, and which his
movement developed until it claimed that an alternative to purity
had been established. The non-modern Jesus, the historical Jesus, is
the Jesus whose passion was a purity which the Christian West has
long believed is beside the point. Purity was the substance of the
restoration which Meyer correctly identified as the central issue in
Jesus’ activity. Discussion since his seminal contribution may at last
have discovered a way of speaking of Jesus, activity and of his expe-
rience of God which may reasonably claim to be more historical
than apologetic. That would be a fitting result of the interest in Jesus
within Judaism, which has already taught us what had been denied
for a generation: that we must address the question of Jesus if we
would understand Christianity.
103
See Chilton, The Temple of Jesus, 121–36.
104
Chilton, The Temple of Jesus, 130–36.
105
Chilton, The Temple of Jesus, 137–54. The latter issue is taken up further in
an exegetical study, Bruce D. Chilton, A Feast of Meanings: Eucharistic Theologies from
Jesus through Johannine Circles (NovTSup 72; Leiden: Brill, 1994).
106
See Henry Joel Cadbury, The Peril of Modernizing Jesus (Lowell Institute Lectures;
New York: Macmillan, 1937).
156 nntcr cnir+ox
SOME SIGNIFICANT DATES IN THE HISTORY OF
JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY
587 BCE The capture of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Tem-
ple, and the deportation of many Jews to Babylonia.
333–32 BCE Alexander the Great sweeps through Israel; conquers
the Middle East.
324 BCE The death of Aristotle, tutor of Alexander.
323 BCE The death of Alexander.
270 BCE The death of Epicurus (founder of Epicureanism).
c. 265 BCE The death of Zeno (founder of Cynicism).
c. 250 BCE The beginning of the work of translation leading to
the Septuagint (LXX).
c. 180 BCE Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) was written in Hebrew, trans-
lated into Greek approximately 50 years later.
167 BCE The desecration of the Temple by the Seleucid ruler,
Antiochus IV “Epiphanes” (i.e. “[Divine] Manifesta-
tion”), who ruled 175–164 BCE. Daniel was written
shortly thereafter. Material in 1 Enoch began to be
compiled; Wisdom of Solomon was perhaps written
in the following century.
164 BCE Judas Maccabeus (the “hammer”) defeats General
Lysias; Antiochus IV dies; Judas rules Judea, begins
to enlarge borders; Hasmonean dynasty is founded;
brothers Jonathan and Simon succeed Judas.
160 BCE The death of Judas; succeeded by Jonathan.
142 BCE The death of Jonathan; succeeded by Simon.
134 BCE The death of Simon; succeeded by John Hyrcanus I.
104 BCE The death of John Hyrcanus I (son of Simon); suc-
ceeded by Aristobulus I.
103 BCE The death of Aristobulus I (son of John Hyrcanus I);
succeeded by Alexander Janneus.
76 BCE The death of Alexander Janneus (son of John Hyrca-
nus I).
67 BCE The death of Alexandra (wife of Alexander Janneus).
67–63 BCE Aristobulus II rules briefly amidst dissension; people
appeal to Rome.
63 BCE Pompey enters Jerusalem, thus beginning the era of
Roman dominance. Psalms of Solomon were composed
not long after this event. Hyrcanus II (son of Alexander
Janneus) is made High Priest.
48 BCE Julius Caesar gains mastery over Roman Empire.
44 BCE The death of Julius Caesar; Mark Antony and young
Octavian (grandnephew of Caesar) avenge Caesar’s
murder and establish Second Triumvirate.
40 BCE Roman senate, at prompting of Mark Antony, declares
Herod (son of Antipater II) “King of the Jews”;
Parthians support Antigonus (son of Aristobulus II).
37 BCE Herod defeats Antigonus, last of the Hasmonean rulers,
and becomes king of Israel in fact; marries Mariamne
(granddaughter of Hyrcanus II); during his reign he
rebuilds Jerusalem and the Temple; founds several cities
and fortresses; and marries and divorces/murders ten
wives.
31 BCE Octavian defeats Mark Antony and Cleopatra at
Actium; becomes Roman emperor; changes name to
Augustus, forgives Herod for siding with Mark Antony.
6 or 5 BCE The birth of Jesus.
4 BCE The death of Herod the Great.
6 Archelaus (son of Herod the Great) is deposed.
6–15 Annas (or Ananus) is appointed High Priest.
14 The death of Augustus; succeeded by stepson Tiberius.
18 Joseph bar Caiaphas (son-in-law of Annas) is appointed
High Priest.
19 Pontius Pilate appointed prefect of Judea.
30 or 33 Jesus is crucified.
34 The death of Herod Philip (son of Herod the Great).
37 Pontius Pilate and Joseph bar Caiaphas are removed
from office.
37 The death of Tiberius; succeeded by Gaius Caligula;
the birth of Josephus.
39 Caligula banishes Herod Antipas (son of Herod the
Great) to Gaul.
41 The death of Caligula; succeeded by Claudius.
44 The death of Herod Agrippa I (son of Aristobulus
and Bernice, grandson of Herod the Great), after brief
rule over Israel (41–44); cf. Acts 12:1–23.
158 sioxiric.x+ r.+rs ix ¡tr.isv .xr cnnis+i.xi+v
45 Rout of Theudas and his following.
c. 50 The death of Philo of Alexandria.
51–52 Tenure of Roman governor Gallio in Corinth.
52–60 Tenure of the Roman governor Felix in Caesarea.
c. 53 Paul writes letter to the churches of Galatia.
54 The death of Claudius; succeeded by Nero.
c. 55–56 Paul writes several letters to the church at Corinth.
56 Rout of Egyptian Jew and his following.
c. 57 Paul writes letter to the church at Rome.
60–62 Tenure of the Roman governor Festus in Caesarea.
62 Ananus (son of Annas) becomes High Priest; without
Roman approval puts to death James the brother of Jesus;
Albinus removes Ananus from office.
62–64 Tenure of the Roman governor Albinus in Caesarea.
64–66 Tenure of the Roman governor Gessius Florus in Caesarea.
65 The death of Seneca.
66 The Jewish revolt begins; governor Florus murdered(?).
c. 67 The death of Paul.
68 The death of Nero; succeeded by Galba.
68–69 Brief reigns of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius.
69 General Vespasian, commander of the Roman forces
against the Jews, is proclaimed emperor.
c. 69 The Gospel of Mark is published.
70 Jerusalem is captured by Titus (son of Vespasian); Temple
is badly damaged by fire; it is later demolished.
73 General Silva captures Masada.
c. 78 Josephus publishes The Jewish War.
79 The death of Vespasian; succeeded by Titus.
81 The death of Titus; succeeded by Domitian (brother of
Titus).
c. 85 Christians are excluded from synagogues.
c. 93 The death of Agrippa II (son of Agrippa I), after ruling
portions of Israel beginning in 49 (cf. Acts 25:13–26:32);
Bernice was his sister.
96 The death of Domitian; succeeded by Nerva.
98 The death of Nerva; succeeded by Trajan; death of Jose-
phus(?).
c. 112 The death of Ignatius.
115 Jewish revolt in North Africa.
117 The death of Trajan; succeeded by Hadrian.
c. 120 Tacitus publishes The Annals.
sioxiric.x+ r.+rs ix ¡tr.isv .xr cnnis+i.xi+v 159
132–135 The great Jewish revolt led by Simon ben Kosiba, dubbed
“bar Kokhba.”
c. 135 The death of Papias, author of Expositions of the Sayings of
the Lord.
138 The death of Hadrian; succeeded by Antoninus Pius.
c. 159 The death of Marcion, whose “canon” excluded the Jewish
parts of the NT.
c. 160 The publication of an early edition of the Gospel of Thomas.
c. 165 The death of Justin Martyr, author of 1 Apology.
c. 170 The death of the gnostic Valentinus.
c. 200 The final editing and publication of the Mishnah.
217 The publication of The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, by
Philostratus.
c. 253 The death of Origen, editor of the Hexapla and numer-
ous commentaries.
325 The Council of Nicea, formulating Christian “orthodoxy.”
337 The death of Constantine, first Christian emperor.
339 The death of Eusebius, author of Ecclesiastical History.
c. 360 The production of the Coptic gnostic library, later found
at Nag Hammadi.
373 The death of Athanasius, whose festal letter of 367 marks
an important moment in the acceptance of the canon of
the New Testament.
420 The death of Jerome, principal editor and translator of
the Latin translation of the Bible, later called the Vulgate.
430 The death of Augustin(e), author of City of God.
c. 500 Compilation and publication of the Talmud.
160 sioxiric.x+ r.+rs ix ¡tr.isv .xr cnnis+i.xi+v
INDEX OF ANCIENT WRITINGS
Hrnnrv Binrr
6:20 151
24:17 8
Deuteronomy
5:14 39
5:16 153 n. 15
6:4–5 38
10:1 131 n. 4
10:16 163
10:17 24
23:25 39
1 Samuel
21:1–6 39
2 Kings
1:10 131 n. 4
2:1 131 n. 4
1 Chronicles
28:5 24
13:8 24
Nehemiah
8:14–17 132 n. 6
Psalms
22:28 24
43 108, 108 n. 20,
109–10, 130
43:2 108
43:3 109
47 24
93 24
96–99 24
103:19 24
105:26 109
145:11–13 24
Qohelet
9:8 79–80
Isaiah
2:1–4 165
6 143
Genesis
17:9–14 144
17:12–14 159
32:10 21
38:18 21
49:10 21
Exodus
4:4 21
7:9 21
7:17 131 n. 4
7:19 131 n. 4
19:3 131 n. 4
20:2 153 n. 15
20:10 39
21:17 153 n. 15
23:5 120
24:1 131
24:9 131
24:13 132
24:16 131, 131 n. 4
31:14 41
31:15 115, 117
34:30 132, 132 n. 5
Leviticus
5:20–26 (6:1–6) 43
11:34 151 n. 12
17:8–9 149
17:10–16 149
18 148
18:5 45–47
18:6–30 149
19:18 37–38, 65, 149
19:26 149
19:29 149
20:9 153 n. 15
20:17–21 148
23:42–44 132 n. 6
24:5–9 39
Numbers
6 151
6:6–12 151
6:18 151
11:4 21
29:13 153
42 109
42:1 109–10, 130
56 27 n. 25
56:1–8 9
58:13–14 111
65:13–14 80
Jeremiah
7 9, 28
7:11 9
7:21–26 43
Ezekiel
19:14 21
Daniel
2:48 53
4:3 24
4:6 53
5:11 53
4:34 24
7 140
7:27 24
12:3 132 n. 5
Hosea
6:6 43
Joel
2:15–3:21 165
3:17 (4:17) 166
Amos
5:21–24 43
9:11–12 164, 166, 168
9:11 146
9:12 168
Obadiah
15–21 165
21 24
Micah
4:1–4 165
4:5–13 165
6:6–8 43
7:18 105
Zephaniah
2 165
Zechariah
8:20–22 165
14:16–19 166, 168
14:21 125 n. 41
Malachi
3:22 109
162 ixrrx or .xcirx+ vni+ixos
Arocnvrn.
1 Maccabees
2:39 41
2 Esdras
6:26 131 n. 4
7:97 132 n. 5
7:125 132 n. 5
Wisdom
10:10 24
Sirach
7:8–9 43
31:15 35
34:18–22 43
34:18–19 43
34:24 43
35:1–20 43
35:12 43
Tobit
4:15 36
Matthew
2:2 8
5:23–24 42, 42 n. 50, 43–44,
44 n. 53
6:12 105 n. 15
7:12 35
10:10 21
11:19 152
12:1–8 122
12:10–13 119
12:11 114
13 139
13:53–58 139
15 102
15:1–9 111
15:3–9 154 n. 16
16:14 53
17:1–8 107
19:28 10
21:1 125 n. 41
21:11 53
21:46 53
22:1–14 78
22:16 6
23:13 9
23:23 9
26:25 53
26:49 53
Mark
1:1 48
1:24 156
2:23–28 39, 122
2:23–27 39 n. 44
2:27 40
2:28 40 n. 46
3:1–6 39
3:6 6
3:14–19 143 n. 8
3:21 139
3:31–35 139
5:1–20 10
6 139
6:1–6 138
6:8–9 21
6:15 53
7 102, 111, 186
7:6–13 152–53
7:6–7 153
7:8–9 154
7:11–12 153
7:13 154
7:15 152
7:19 40 n. 46
9:2–8 107, 130–31
9:2 131
9:3 131
9:5–6 131 n. 4
9:6 131 n. 4
9:7 131
9:5 53
9:6 132
10:17 45
10:28–34 38
10:51 53
11:10 10
11:15–18 9, 44
11:15 125 n. 41
11:17 27
11:21 53
11:27–33 9, 19
12 45 n. 56
12:1–12 9
12:13–17 10, 19
12:13 6
12:18 3
12:28–32 149
12:28–31 37
12:29–31 45
12:38–40 9
13:1–2 9
14:12–15 55 n. 19
14:45 53
14:58 9
15:39 49
Luke
6:1–5 122
7:16 53
7:34 152
7:36–50 128
7:41–43 128
9 109
9:3 21
9:8 53
9:19 53
9:28–36 107
9:29 131
9:30 131
9:31 131
10:4 21
10:25–37 46 n. 56
10:25–28 44–45, 45 n. 56
10:25 38
ixrrx or .xcirx+ vni+ixos 163
Nrv Trs+.vrx+
10:29–37 45 n. 56
13:14 115, 117
14:1–6 39
14:3–5 119
14:15–24 78
15 129
15:1–2 129
15:4–7 129
15:8–10 129
15:11–32 129
15:31 129
15:32 129
22:28–30 10
24:19 53
John
1:38 53
1:45–46 155
1:49 53
2:15 125 n. 41
3:2 53
3:26 53
4:19 53
4:20 2
4:31 53
5:9–17 39
6:14 53
6:25 53
7:2–10 139
7:22–24 39
7:40 53
8:48 3
9:2 53
9:14–16 39
9:17 53
10:7–9 143 n. 9
11:8 53
Book of Acts
2:38 45
4:12 45
4:36–37 144 n. 10
5:36 7
9:26–30 144 n. 10
11:1–18 144
11:19–26 144 n. 10
15 140, 145, 154, 163,
169–70
15:1–5 144
15:1–2 159
15:1 159
15:5 159
15:6–11 146
15:11 159
15:14 146, 148
15:15 146, 164
15:16–17 147
15:17 168
15:19–22 160
15:19 148
15:20 148
15:21 149, 154
15:22–41 145
15:22–35 149
15:25–34 160
18:18 156
21 141, 150–51
21:17–21 150
21:22–26 150
21:27–28:21 151
21:24 150
21:38 6, 8
23:8 3
Romans
10:9 45
1 Corinthians
8 41 n. 49
10 41 n. 49
15:1–8 140
Galatians
1:18 143 n. 8
2 146
2:9 143 n. 8
2:11–13 144
2:11 143 n. 8
2:12 144
2:13 144
2:14 143 n. 8
3:23–29 170
James
1:17–18 140 n. 4
2:8 149
Revelation
4:4 132 n. 5
7:9 132 n. 5
11 131 n. 4
11:3–12 131 n. 4
164 ixrrx or .xcirx+ vni+ixos
CD
3:12–16, 20 47 n. 58
11:13 120
1QS
5:4–5 162
4Q285 6
4Q400
1 ii 3 25
2 1 25
4Q401
14 i 6 25
14 i 7 25
4Q403
1 i 8 25
1 i 14 25
1 i 25 25
1 i 32–33 25
1 i 32 25
4Q405
3 ii 4 25
23 i 3 25
23 ii 11–12 25
24 3 25
MasSS
2:20 25
ixrrx or .xcirx+ vni+ixos 165
Dr.r Sr. Scnorrs
Psrtrrrion.rn.
1 Enoch
37:7 132 n. 5
51:5 132 n. 5
62:15 132 n. 5
2 Enoch
61:1–2 37
Apoc. of Elijah
4:7–19 131 n. 4
Ep. Aristeas
207 36
229 45
Jubilees
1:28 25
Pss. Solomon
17:3 24
T. Dan
5:3 45
5:13 25
T. Issachar
5:2 45
7:6 45
T. Moses
10:1, 3 25
10:3 25
T. Naphtali
1:6 36
Pniro
Abraham
208 45
Agriculture
51 24
78 24
Cherubim
29 24
Conf. ling.
173 24
Hypothetica 36
Migr. Abraham
89–93 162
146 24
Post. Caini
5 24
105 24
Quaest. Gen.
3.47–52 161
3.48 162
3.52 162
Quaest. Exod.
2.2 162
Spec. Leg.
1.1–11 161
2.63 45
Virt.
51 45
95 45
Vita Mosis
2.107–108 43
166 ixrrx or .xcirx+ vni+ixos
Josrrnts
Antiquities
13.5.9 §173 3
13.10.6 §297 3
13.10.6 §298 4
13.13.5 §372–373 5, 27
17.2.4 §42 4
17.2.4 §43–44 4
17.6.2–4 §149–167 5, 29 n. 30
17.10.6 §273–276 7
17.10.7 §278–284 7
18.1.4 §16 3
18.3.3 §63–64 27 n. 23
20.2.3–5 §34–53 161
20.5.1 §97–98 7
20.8.6 §169–170 8
20.9.1 §197–203 142
20.9.3 §208–210 6
Jewish War
1.33.2–4 §648–655 5, 29 n. 30
2.8.3 §123 151
2.8.4 §125–127 21
2.8.14 §164–165 3
2.13.3 §254–257 6
2.21.2 §590–594 151 n. 12
6.5.3 §300–309 29 n. 30
Misnx.n
"Abot
1:6 53
1:12 35 n. 39
1:16 53
2:10 79
3:9–10 177
'Eduyyot
1:8 116
Keritot
1:7 29 n. 30
Menahot
8:3–5 151 n. 12
Nazir
1:1 156
9:1 156
Nedarim
3:2 153
Pesahim
3:7 43
Shabbat
18:1 121
23:5 81
24:1 121
24:2 115 n. 30
Yadaim
4:5 118
Yoma
8:9 43, 44 n. 53
B. Qamma
10.18 44
Hagiga
2.11 29 n. 30
Shabbat
7.23 116 n. 33
9 123
14.1 114 n. 27
14.3 120
15:1 121 n. 37
ixrrx or .xcirx+ vni+ixos 167
Tosrr+.
T.rvtr Yrntsn.rvi
B. Mesia
3 111 n. 22
Besa
2.4 29 n. 30
Hagiga
2.3 29 n. 30
T.rvtr B.nri
"Abot R. Nat.
8 100
B. Mesia
59b 176
B. Qamma
110a 44
Besa
13b 123
20a–b 29 n. 30
Hullin
7a 100
Rosh Hash.
17a 105 n. 14
Sanhedrin
101a 116 n. 33
Shabbat
31a 35
53b 116 n. 32
123b 114 n. 27
128a 123
128b 120–21, 121 n. 37
153a 81, 121 n. 40
154b 121 n. 39
Ta'anit
24b 100
Yoma
85a 40 n. 45
85b 41
T.notv
Onqelos
Lev 18:5 46
Ps.-J.
Lev 19:18 36
Isaiah
4:3 47 n. 57
24:23 24
31:4 24
40:9 24
52:7 24
58:11 47 n. 57
Ezekiel
7:7 24
7:10 24
20:11 46 n. 57
20:13 46 n. 57
20:21 46 n. 57
Obadiah
21 24
Micah
4:7–8 24
Zechariah
14:9 24
168 ixrrx or .xcirx+ vni+ixos
Mirn.sn
Mekilta
Exod 31:12–17
(Shab. §1) 41
Sipra Lev.
§68
(Lev 5:25) 44
§193
(Lev 18:1–30) 46
Deut. Rab.
3.17
(Deut 10:1) 131 n. 4
Qoh. Rab.
1:7 §9 132 n. 5
9:8 §1 85
Pesiq. Rab.
4 108 n. 18
4.2 131 n. 4
Yalqut Shimoni
Ps 43 108 n. 20
Cnnis+i.x Wni+rns
Didache
1:12 36
Eusebius
Hist. Eccl.
2.23.1–18 141
Praep. Ev.
8.7.6 36
Thomas
§6 36
§12 141 n. 6
Gnrco-Rov.x Wni+rns
Cicero
De officiis 1.128 21
Dio Cassius
51.34.39 37
Diogenes Laertius
Lives of Eminent
Philosophers
6.13 21
6.73 41 n. 49
6.69 21
Epictetus
2.20.10 21
3.22 32
3.22.50 21
Isocrates
Ad Nicoleam 49 37
Julian
Orations 6.193D 21
Orations 6.201A 20
Lucian of Samosata
Peregrinus 15 21
Ps.-Crates
24 41
Ps.-Diogenes
30.3 21
Seneca
Moral Epistles
91.19 21
103.3–4 37
Sextus
Sentences
89 37
ixrrx or .xcirx+ vni+ixos 169
P.rvni .xr Ixscnir+ioxs
OGIS
458.32–41 49
POxy
654.5 36
INDEX OF MODERN AUTHORS
Cathcart, K. J., 187 n. 51
Chancey, M., 30 n. 31, 33 n. 34
Charlesworth, J. H., 31 n. 33, 99 n. 5,
100 n. 6
Chilton, B. D., 14 n. 2, 15 nn. 6–7,
16. n. 9, 23, 24, 24 n. 19, 25 n.
20, 28, 28 n. 26, 29 n. 29, 34,
35 n. 37, 36 n. 41, 37 n. 42, 38
n. 43, 44 n. 54, 51 n. 2, 54 nn. 9,
12; 66, 128 n. 3, 133, 140 n. 4,
141 n. 5, 152 n. 13, 154 n. 17, 155
nn. 18–19, 21; 156 n. 22, 159, 160,
167, 179 n. 28, 181 n. 31, 183, 186
nn. 47–48; 187, 187 nn. 49–50;
188, 188 n. 54, 190 nn. 59, 63;
196, 198 n. 90, 199, 199 n. 98,
200 nn. 99–102; 201 nn. 103–5
Churgin, P., 187 n. 49
Cohn-Sherbok, D. M., 40 n. 45
Colson, F. H., 162 n. 3
Cook, M. J., 133
Crohn, F., vii
Crossan, J. D., vii, 19, 19 n. 14; 20,
20 n. 15, 29 n. 28, 31–33, 51 n. 1,
53, 191, 196, 196 nn. 80–82; 197,
197 nn. 83–87; 198, 198 nn. 88–89,
91–92; 199, 199 n. 94
Dalman, G. H., 14, 14 n. 4, 15, 22
n. 17
Daube, D., 133
Davies, P. R., 178 n. 22
Davies, W. D., 36 n. 40
de Vaux, R., 177
Dibelius, M., 145 n. 11
Dodd, C. H., 98 n. 3, 190
Downing, F. G., 19, 19 nn. 12–13;
21 n. 16, 22, 31, 32, 41 n. 49
Dudley, G., 184 n. 40
Dupont-Sommer, A., 177
Eddy, P. R., 18 n. 12
Edwards, D. R., 52 n. 3
Eisenman, R., 155 n. 20
Eisenstadt, S. N., 178 n. 23
Eisenstein, J. D., 107 n. 17
Eliade, M., 184, 184 n. 40
Abrahams, I., 40 n. 47, 41 n. 48, 44,
44 n. 52, 133
Adolph, K., 174 n. 6
Alexander, P. S., 16. n. 9, 133, 189
n. 55
Allen, C., 89 n. 5
Allison, D. C., 36 n. 40, 45 n. 55
Aune, D. E., 31, 31 n. 33, 33
n. 35
Bailey, J., 93 n. 13
Baird, R. D., 184 n. 40
Barham F., 173 n. 1
Barth, K., 177
Basser, H., vii, ix, 127, 127 n. 1, 128,
130, 133
Bernas, C., 53, 53 n. 5
Betz, H. D., 33 n. 35
Betz, O., 22 n. 17
Biderman, S., 184 n. 40
Billerbeck, P., 15, 16. n. 8, 22, 30, 43,
174, 174 n. 6
Black, M., 14, 15 n. 5, 174 n. 5
Blomberg, C. L., 156 n. 22
Bockmuehl, M., 154 n. 18
Borg, M., 183, 184, 184 nn. 38–40;
185, 185 nn. 41–44; 186, 186
nn. 45–46; 190, 190 n. 60
Bornkamm, G., 175, 175 n. 12
Brandon, J. S., 194, 194 n. 73,
195–96
Braude, W. G., 131 n. 4
Braudel, F., 91, 91 n. 9
Brocke, M., 22 n. 17
Brown, R. E., 138 n. 2
Buber, M., 177, 177 n. 20
Buber, S., 108 n. 20
Buchanan, G. W., 133
Bultmann, R., 42 n. 50, 175, 175
n. 11
Burney, C. F., 15 n. 5
Burrows, M., 177, 177 n. 20, 178
n. 21
Buttrick, G. A., 198 n. 90
Cadbury, H. J., 201 n. 106
Caird, G. B., 184
Epstein, J. N., 112, 112 n. 23
Evans, C. A., vii–ix, 14 n. 2, 15 n. 5,
16. n. 9, 22 n. 17, 24 n. 19, 25
n. 20, 27 n. 23, 28 n. 25, 29 n. 28,
29 n. 29, 40 n. 45, 45 n. 55, 51,
51 n. 2, 51 n. 2, 55, 128 n. 3, 134,
154 n. 17
Falk, H., 98, 98 n. 4, 99, 180 n. 29,
196
Falk, Z. W., 153 n. 14
Fiebig, P., 22 n. 17
Finkel, A., 34. n. 36
Fitzmyer, J. A., 15 n. 6, 45 n. 56,
142 n. 7
Flusser, D., 22 n. 17, 174 n. 9
France, R. T., 28 n. 27
Fredricksen, P., 54, 54 n. 10,
167 n. 6
Freedman, D. N., 198 n. 90
Freyne, S., 51, 51 n. 2, 52, 195, 195
n. 79
Friedman, M., 177 n. 20
Gilbert, G., 161 n. 2
Gillman, F. M., 141 n. 6
Glasson, T. F., 190, 190 n. 59
Glazer, N. N., 177 n. 18
Goodman, M., 174 n. 5
Gordon, R. P., 187 n. 51
Goulder, M. D., 188 n. 52
Green, W. S., 179, 179 n. 26
Grundmann, W., 175, 175 n. 10,
183 n. 37
Haase, W., 179 nn. 26–27; 192 n. 67
Hagner, D. A., 180 n. 29
Hall, R. G., 163 n. 5
Hanks, P., 137 n. 1
Hansman, J., 161 n. 1
Hanson, J. J., 194 n. 72
Harrington, D. J., 15 n. 6, 142 n. 7,
187 n. 51
Hays, R. B., 28 n. 28
Hayward, R., 187 n. 51
Hengel, M., 22 n. 17, 25 n. 21
Herion, G. A., ix, 90 nn. 6–7, 92
n. 11
Hodges, F., 137 n. 1
Hoffmann, R. J., 92 n. 11
Hooker, M. D., 188 n. 53
Horsley, R. A., 33 n. 34, 51 n. 1, 52,
194, 194 nn. 71–72, 74–75; 195,
195 nn. 76–78
Jeremias, J., 14, 14 n. 4, 22 n. 17, 46
n. 56, 98 n. 3, 174 n. 6, 182, 182
n. 36
Johns, L. L., 31 n. 33
Johnston, R. M., 23 n. 17
Kane, J. P., 53 n. 6
Käsemann, E., 88, 88 n. 4, 89, 97, 97
n. 3
Kelber, W., 18, 18 n. 12
Kümmel, W. G., 98 n. 3
Langston, S., x
Lapin, H., 198 n. 90
Larue, G. A., 92 n. 11
Lebeau, P., 155 n. 18
Lessing, G. E., 87 n. 1
Levey, S. H., 187 n. 51
Lifshitz, B., 53 n. 7
Lightfoot, J., 173, 173 n. 4
Lightfoot, J. B., 14 n. 3
Loewe, H., 174 n. 7
Lovering Jr., E. H., 16. n. 9
Lull, D. J., 26 n. 22
Luz, U., 42 n. 50, 44 n. 53
Mack, B. L., 17, 17 n. 10, 18, 18
nn. 11–12; 19, 20 n. 14, 22, 22
n. 17, 23, 23 n. 18, 26, 26 n. 22,
27, 27 n. 23, 28–33, 48, 48 n. 60,
49
Maier, J., 97, 97 n. 2
Marshall, I. H., 188 n. 53
McArthur, H. K., 23 n. 17
McCollough, C. T., 52 n. 3
McNamara, M., 15 n. 6, 188 n. 53
Meier, J. P., 138 n. 3, 199, 199
nn. 93–97
Mendenhall, G. E., 92 n. 11
Meyer, B. F., 180, 180 n. 30, 181,
181 nn. 32–34; 182, 182 n. 35, 183,
189, 201
Meyers, E. M., 30 n. 31, 33 n. 34,
179 n. 27
Millar, F., 174 n. 5
Montefiore, C. G., 42 n. 50, 174,
174 n. 7
Moore, G. F., 64, 134, 174, 174 n. 8,
175, 175 n. 13, 176, 176 nn.
14–15; 177, 179, 179 n. 26
Neirynck, F., 39 n. 44
Neusner, J., vii–ix, 14 n. 2, 16. n. 9,
87, 89–91, 91 n. 8, 94, 94 n. 14,
ixrrx or vorrnx .t+nons 171
95, 104, 104 n. 13, 105, 134, 141
n. 5, 176 n. 17, 179 n. 28, 189
n. 55
Niebuhr, R., 177, 177 n. 20
Odeberg, H., 178, 178 n. 24
Oesterley, W. O. E., 22 n. 17
Orlin, L., 93 n. 13
Otto, R., 184, 184 n. 40
Parker, P., 198 n. 90
Parsons, M. C., 134
Pattee, S., 163 n. 5
Perrin, N., 191, 191 n. 65
Pesch, R., 39 n. 44
Petuchowski, J. J., 22 n. 17
Piper, R. A., 17 n. 10
Porter, S. E., 40 n. 45
Ratzinger, J., 66, 67
Reimarus, H. S., 87, 87 n. 1
Reventlow, H. G., 173 n. 3
Riches, J. K., 183 n. 37
Robinson, J. M., 88 n. 3
Safrai, S., 174, 174 n. 9
Saldarini, A. J., 134, 187 n. 51
Sanders, E. P., 43 n. 51, 44 n. 53, 54,
54 n. 11, 64, 100, 100 nn. 8–9;
101, 101 n. 10, 102, 183, 189, 189
nn. 56, 58; 190, 190 nn. 61–62,
64; 191–92, 192 nn. 66–69; 193,
193 n. 70, 196
Sandmel, S., 35 n. 38, 135
Sawicki, M., 52, 52 n. 4
Schechter, S., 103, 103 n. 11
Schlosser, J., 28 n. 28
Schlueter, C. J., 28 n. 28
Schmidt, P., 22 n. 17
Schürer, E., 174
Schwabe, M., 53 n. 7
Schweitzer, A., 87, 88, 88 n. 3, 189
Schwemer, A. M., 25 n. 21
Scott, B. B., 31 n. 32
Seeley, D., 26 n. 22, 90 n. 8
Segal, A. F., 99, 99 n. 5
Sigal, P., 40, 40 n. 47
Smith, J. Z., 184 n. 40
Smith, H., 184, 184 n. 40
Smith, M., 135, 196, 196 n. 81,
198
Soards, M. L., 28–29 n. 28
Stegner, W. R., 45 n. 55
Stern, J. B., 45 n. 55
Stern, M., 174, 174 n. 9
Strack, H. L., 16. n. 8, 64, 174 n. 6
Strauss, D. F., 87, 87 n. 2, 88
Strenski, I., 184 n. 40
Sundkler, B., 182 n. 36
Swete, H. B., 40 n. 47
Talbert, C. H., 87 n. 1
Talmon, S., 28 n. 25
Taylor, J. E., 54, 54 n. 8
Timmer, D. E., 28 n. 28
Tomson, P. J., 174 n. 9
Torrey, C. C., 15 n. 5
Tuckett, C. M., 29 n. 28, 33 n. 35
Vaage, L., 17 n. 10
van der Horst, P. W., 92 n. 10
Van Segbroeck, F., 179 n. 28
van Unnik, W. C., 174 n. 9
Vermes, G., 41 n. 48, 100, 100 nn.
6–7; 135, 174 n. 5, 176, 176 n. 16,
177, 177 n. 19, 178, 179, 179 nn.
25, 27; 180, 180 n. 29, 181, 183,
183 n. 37, 196, 198
Vermes, P., 174 n. 5
Voysey, C., 87 n. 1
Walton, B., 173, 173 n. 2
Weber, M., 178, 178 n. 23
Weiss, J., 180, 181 n. 31
Wenham, D., 156 n. 22
Wertheimer, S. A., 107 n. 17
Westcott, B. F., 14 n. 3
Williams, J. G., 23 n. 18
Witherington, B., 34 n. 35
Wojciechowski, M., 155 n. 18
Wolff, H. W., 168 n. 7
Wright, N. T., 29 n. 28
Young, B. H., 22 n. 17
172 ixrrx or vorrnx .t+nons
INDEX OF SUBJECTS
Enoch, 131 n. 4
Eschaton, 101
Essenes, 5, 151
Eusebius, 141
Feast of Tabernacles/Booths, 125
n. 41, 132 n. 6
Fourth Philosophy, 6
Franklin, Benjamin, 94
Galilee, 51–52
Gnosticism, 191
Golden Rule, 35–37, 37 n. 42, 65, 67,
85
Hanina ben Dosa, 100, 176, 178–79
Hasidim, 3, 176–78, 183, 198
Hegesippus, 141, 141 n. 6, 142,
143 n. 9, 147, 151, 154
Helena, 161
Herod (the Great), 4–5, 7
Herodians, 6, 10
High Priest, 39, 118
Hillel, 29 n. 30, 35, 35 n. 39, 37, 65,
74, 85, 177
Hillelite halakah, 44, 98
Honi, 176, 178
Hyrcanus I, 2
Italian Bible ( Jewish), 115
Izates, 161
James (see Yakov)
Jamnia, Council of, 94
Jericho, 7
Jerusalem, 33, 91, 141, 149, 165,
170
Jesus (or Yeshua) of Nazareth, passim
Jesus ben Ananias, 29 n. 30
Jesus Seminar, vii, 13, 28
Jews, Judaism, passim
John the Baptist, 53–54, 192
Jonathan ben Joseph, 41
Joseph bar Hiyya, 187
Josephus, 2–5, 7–8, 27 nn. 23–24;
132, 142, 151, 160–61, 163 n. 5,
200
Aaron, 109
Abraham, 93
Akhnai, 176
Albinus, 142
Alexander the Great, 93
Alexander Jannaeus, 5, 27, 29 n. 30
Altar, 42
Amoraim, 105
Ananias, 161
Antioch, 145, 149, 182
Aqiba, 179
Arminians, 3
Athronges, 7
Augustus, 48
Bar Kochba, 94
Barnabas, 144
Buddha, 184–85
Caesar, 10
Christians, Christianity, passim
Circumcision, 159–63, 163 n. 5, 164,
169
Confucius, 94
Cynics, Cynic hypothesis, 13, 16–23,
29–35, 41 n. 49, 51, 90, 90 n. 8,
191, 196–97
Cyprus, 144
Damascus, 182
David, 39, 41 n. 49, 42, 122, 124,
147–48, 166–67
Dead Sea Scrolls, 5, 15–16, 22, 25,
93, 132, 162
Deists, 3
Diaspora, 150
Dissimilarity, Criterion of, 191
Ebionites, 141 n. 6
Egyptian Jew, the, 8
Eleazar (of Galilee), 161
Eleazar ben Azariah, 43
Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, 176, 179
Elijah, 107, 107 n. 18, 108, 108
nn. 19–20; 109–10, 130–31,
131 n. 4
Emden, Rabbi Ya"akov, 99
Joshua, 132, 137
Judah ha-Nasi, 94
King, Martin Luther, 195
Kingdom of God/Heaven, 10, 23–25,
30, 33–34, 78–79, 83, 95, 186
Loans, Jekiel, 173
Luther, Martin, 95
Maccabees, 93
Mary (see Miriam)
Mattathias, 41
Max Richter Foundation, vii
Menahem, 8
Messiah, 107–8, 108 n. 19, 109, 130
Midrash, 106, 107 n. 17, 110
Miriam, 139
Mishnah, 52, 75, 94, 104–5, 112, 114,
153, 156, 193
Moses 107–8, 108 nn. 19–20; 110,
130–31, 131 n. 4, 132, 132 n. 5,
149–50
Mount Gerizim, 3
Mount Sinai, 131–32
Mount Zion, 166
Nazirite, Nazirite vow, 151–52,
155–57
Nero, 49
Nicea, Council of, 53, 94
Passover, 33
Paul (Apostle), 3, 6, 8–9, 41 n. 49, 95,
140–41, 144–47, 150–51, 157, 159,
170
Perea, 7
Peter (a.k.a. Kepha), 141–42, 144–46,
148
Pharisees, 3–4, 9, 19, 98–99, 101,
103, 103 n. 12, 104, 111–13,
123, 125, 127–30, 159, 169,
185–86
Philo, 132, 161–62, 162 n. 4,
163 n. 5
Phineas ben Yair, 100
Pilate, 26 n. 22
Prophets (Hebrew), 95, 111, 183
Proselyte, 162 n. 4
Purity, 44, 54, 127, 147, 183,
200–201
Q, 20 n. 14
Qorban, 153
Rabbi Kagan, 117
Repentance, 190–91
Reuchlin, John, 173
Rome, 182
Ruling priests, 9–10, 27 n. 23
Sabbath, 39–40, 101, 110–11, 113–14,
114 n. 29, 115–17, 119–24, 127,
193
Sadducees, 3–4, 6, 100, 118,
127
Sages, 115
Samaritans, 2–3
Samaritan Pentateuch, 2
Scribes, 111, 121, 127
Seat of Moses, 113
Seneca, 37
Sepphoris, 30 n. 31, 32–33, 52
Sforno, 115
Shammaite halakah, 44, 98
Shema', 38
Sicarii, 6
Simeon ben Gamaliel, 29 n. 30
Simeon ben Menasia, 41
Simon bar Giora, 7
Simon of Perea, 7
Sinners, 129
Son of Man, 124, 188 n. 53
Synagogue, 33
Talmud, 52, 74–75, 79, 94, 121–22
Targum, 8, 10, 15–16, 29, 46, 46
n. 57, 47, 168 n. 8, 186–88,
188 n. 53
Temple ( Jewish), 9, 27–28, 33, 42, 44,
53, 103, 124–25, 125 n. 41, 128,
142, 147, 149–50, 152, 165, 186,
192, 196, 200–201
Theudas, 8
Third Reich, 175
Toll collectors, 129
Torah/Law, 38, 45, 66, 95, 115–17,
120, 124, 141 n. 6, 154, 160, 193
Tosefta, 112, 114, 121–22
Transfiguration, 130–32
Vespasian, 9
Walton, Brian, 173
Wisdom, 34 n. 35
Yakov (a.k.a. James, brother of Jesus),
137–40, 140 n. 4, 141, 141 n. 6,
142, 142 n. 7, 143, 143 n. 9,
174 ixrrx or stn¡rc+s
144–52, 154–55, 155 n. 19, 156–57,
159, 164–71
Yakov (son of Zebedee), 142–43
Yeshua ben Sira, 35, 43
Yohanan (son of Zebedee), 142–43
Yohanan ben Zakkai, 76, 82, 94,
118
Zealot, 194
Zeus, 20
ixrrx or stn¡rc+s 175

THE MISSING JESUS

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.THE MISSING JESUS Rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament BY BRUCE CHILTON CRAIG A. AL P A L LL AA S S .. B • L 2002 . TU . B A P. EVANS & JACOB NEUSNER B TA SU AEGID E . I.. .

Fees are subject to change. Jacob.J8 C445 2002 232. Neusner. cm. BT590. Evans. recording or otherwise. translated. Suite 910 Danvers. photocopying. Authorization to photocopy item for internal or personal use is granted by Brill provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center. Boston All rights reserved. II. mechanical. Inc.. and Jacob Neusner. I. Craig A. Jesus Christ—Jewishness—Congresses.        . MA 01923. Title. stored in a retrieval system. ISBN 0–391–04183–5 1. 1932– III. without prior written permission from the publisher.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Chilton. Craig Evans. p. electronic. USA.9—dc21 2002015971 ISBN 0–391–04183–5 Paperback ISBN: 0–391–04182–7 © Copyright 2002 by Brill Academic Publishers. Bruce. 222 Rosewood Drive. No part of this publication may be reproduced. or transmitted in any form or by any means. Includes bibliographical references and index. The missing Jesus : rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament / by Bruce Chilton.

.......................................... Gary Herion The Gospels and Rabbinic Halakah ...................................... James........................................... Contributors ............................................. Abbreviations .......................................................................................... 101 Craig Evans Getting It Right: Jesus........................................ Herbert Basser vii xi xiii 1 11 41 45 69 77 Response: Reconstructing the Halakah of Jesus: Appropriating Early and Late Sources ......................................................................................................................................................................................... and Questions of Sanctity ......................... Craig Evans Response: Mapping a Place for Jesus ............ 107 Bruce Chilton Response: Dividing it Right: Who is a Jew and What is a Christian? ............................. 125 Scott Langston ... Bruce Chilton Contexts of Comparison: Reciprocally Reading Gospels’ and Rabbis’ Parables .................. Jacob Neusner Response: Neusner’s “Contexts of Comparison” ........................................................................ Introduction: Finding a Context for Jesus ....................CONTENTS Preface ..................... Craig Evans The Misplaced Jesus: Interpreting Jesus in a Judaic Context ............

................. 135 Bruce Chilton Some Significant Dates in the History of Judaism and Christianity ... 157 Indices Index of Ancient Writings .... 170 Index of Subjects ......... 161 Index of Modern Authors ..................................................................vi  Conclusion: Jesus within Judaism ................................................................................................... 173 ...............................................................................

and together we invited Professor Herbert Basser and Professor Craig Evans to join us. where Professor Neusner also held an appointment. a forum was convened at Bard College. so that the students were prepared in advance. I am obliged to our sponsors for the opportunity to develop the forum and for the trust they placed in me. . and the Max Richter Foundation.PREFACE How can Jesus be said to be “missing”? The Church has consistently referred itself to conceptions of Jesus during its history. but a variety of factors have isolated the study of Jesus from the study of Judaism. But our work was not limited to the usual invitation of speakers and limited discussion. Frank Crohn. under the sponsorship of Mr. We have used this model before. Scholars over the past decade have called attention to this problem. The “missing” Jesus is Jesus within Judaism. In order for us to understand Jesus and his profound influence on global culture. Professor Jacob Neusner. co-chaired the forum.” as will be discussed in the pages which follow. the Pew Charitable Trusts. both at Bard and at the University of South Florida. we need to see him within the context of the Judaism which was his own natural environment. especially in response to the works of John Dominic Crossan and other members of “The Jesus Seminar. the preeminent Judaist of his generation and my colleague at Bard. and we have devised a much more searching and interactive model at Bard College. Professor Neusner and I taught a course which ran parallel to the conference. In fact. and the world of scholarship has seen a renaissance in the study of Jesus over the past twenty years. What is “missing” is not by any means reference to Jesus: what is missing is rather an entire dimension of his identity. Both Professor Neusner and I are dissatisfied with the standard model of academic conferences. No one can be assessed apart from one’s environment. Jesus’ place in popular culture has been surprisingly prominent as a result of recent historical study. In response to that impetus. That was possible because the invited speakers were gracious enough to provide drafts of their presentations long before the conference convened.

and the effect on the lucidity of speakers is also notable. Together. the keynote address of the conference. In his essay. these essays lay out theoretical and tactical ways forward in improving the current perception of the historical Jesus. The purpose of that discussion is to suggest approaches which may be opened up by a more critical orientation. What Professor Neusner calls for is a Copernican shift in the way in which we read the texts. unless due account is taken of the profoundly distinct perspectives of Judaism and Christianity. In his introduction Professor Craig Evans orients readers to the lay of the land and then in the first essay. a definition of the people of God. the study of Judaism has been marginalized in the study of Jesus and Christian origins. continuing approaches. he engages aspects of the North American discussion. we wish to lay out certain basic results. First. and those systemic visions are part and parcel of what they say in detail. We believe that both the topic and the model of approaching it make this volume an innovative and stimulating contribution.” with which the book concludes. “Jesus within Judaism. This volume represents the work of four scholars in close encounter with talented students. to neglect the Judaic dimension of Jesus. ideals for the way of life.viii  The level of engagement which the students achieve is consistently rewarding to us. point by point.” Professor Neusner articulates a vigorous challenge to the practice of comparison as represented in the past. and we also include the responses of some of our academic colleagues from other institutions. and we have devoted two responses to it. who attended the conference (in some cases with their students). and that the dialogue begun here represents the next phase in the critical study of Jesus. In our work here. much of which has proposed an implausibly Hellenistic portrait of Jesus. The essays that lie between probe dimensions of the discussion. and fundamental. sets out the story of how. both scholarly and popular. Each of these great religions generates an entire view of the world. In my response to Professor Evans’s paper I probe complementary aspects of the question of context and location. “Contexts of Comparison: Reciprocally Reading Gospels’ and Rabbis’ Parables. is doomed to failure. which elucidate the identity of Jesus within Judaism. Professor Gary Herion . despite the work of scholars over several centuries. He insists that the effort to describe contacts. My own essay. underscoring the tendency in some circles.

Such orientations fly in the face of one of the most secure findings of critical research in the modern period: the Gospels are neither chronicles of history nor inventions of faith. To those who have made this possible. His approach is sophisticated in its cognizance of the theoretical cautions offered by Professor Neusner. we are setting out some of the lines of inquiry which will lead us to a much more complete picture in the years to come. We need to get to know the communities. and which shaped those traditions prior to their incorporation into the Gospels. where. “Conservative” scholars assume that the texts are historical. we believe we are providing two services in this volume. My essay is entitled “Getting it Right: James. no teacher was more important. and why. the brother of Jesus. than James. and Questions of Sanctity. In all. our . ix of Hartwick College explains how the discipline of biblical studies needs to learn from the discipline of the critical study of religion which Professor Neusner has so ably developed. while “liberal” scholars put the texts at the mercy of whatever view of Jesus they believe is to be preferred. and an important field of contact. but interpretations of Jesus for distinct communities.” One of the most persistent failures in the study of Jesus in the modern period has been that scholars have not taken account of how the Gospels came into being. Of all those who shaped Christianity during its emergent period. but also very concrete and detailed in its exposition of a single issue. if we are to understand what they say. “Getting it Right” seeks to remedy that situation. Next. as well as Judaic traditions attested in documents that post-date the writings of the New Testament. we are redressing a serious imbalance in the portrait of Jesus. Professor Evans responds in essential agreement. and none is more thoroughly misunderstood today. Second. Jesus. and the implications for the interpreter are spelled out masterfully in the response by Professor Scott Langston of Southwest Baptist University. especially in North America. Professor Herbert Basser of Queen’s University undertakes an analysis of the connections between Jesus and the Rabbis in regard to the Sabbath. but underscores the importance of antecedent scriptural traditions. No one can understand a statement apart from an appreciation of who is saying it. and read Jesus directly off the pages of the texts as much as they can. First. and of the historical complexity which I later describe. toward which the traditions in the Gospels were directed.

x  sponsors. we are very grateful. Bruce Chilton Bard College . the main speakers and respondents. and above all our students.

Missouri. Gary Herion is Associate Professor of Religion at Hartwick College in New York. He co-edited the six-volume Anchor Bible Dictionary (1992) and served as project editor for George Mendenhall’s Ancient Israel’s Faith and History (2001). He has previously taught at the University of Sheffield and at Yale Divinity School. The Temple of Jesus (1992). Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God (1996). Bruce Chilton is Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in New York. Exodus in the Blackwell Bible Commentaries series. Scott Langston teaches at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar. He is the author of several books and studies on Jesus and the Gospels. Canada. and Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography (2000). He has written or edited more than 850 books and holds twentythree honorary degrees and academic medals. rev. He has published landmark studies of rabbinic Judaism in ancient and medieval times and also has written several studies that place the New Testament in its Judaic context. His publications include Cultic Sites in the Tribe of Benjamin: Benjaminite Prominence in the Religion of Israel (1998) and.. and Restoration. 1996). Craig Evans is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia. Jesus and His Contemporaries (1995). Jacob Neusner is Research Professor of Religion and Theology and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College. and has authored numerous books and studies. including A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible (1984). Purity.CONTRIBUTORS Herbert Basser is Professor of Religion at Queen’s University in Ontario. with Bruce Chilton (1997). Canada. and Mark (2001) in the Word Biblical Commentary series. . ed. including Life of Jesus Research (1989. in preparation. Jesus in Context: Temple.

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Freedman and G. Buttrick (ed.). A. The Anchor Bible Dictionary ABRL Anchor Bible Reference Library AGJU Arbeiten zur Geschichte des antiken Judentums und des Urchristentums AGSJU Arbeiten zur Geschichte des Spätjudentums und Urchristentums AnBib Analecta biblica Ant. A. Antiquities of the Jews ArBib The Aramaic Bible BARev Biblical Archaeology Review BBR Bulletin for Biblical Research BCE Before Common Era (= BC) BETL Bibliotheca ephemeridum theologicarum lovaniensium Bib Biblica BibOr Biblica et orientalia BibSem The Biblical Seminar BIS Biblical Interpretation Series BJS Brown Judaic Studies BTB Biblical Theology Bulletin BZ Biblische Zeitschrift CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly CE Common Era (= AD) CRINT Compendia rerum iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum ErFor Erträge der Forschung ET English translation EvQ Evangelical Quarterly FT French translation GNS Good News Studies HTKNT Herders theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament HTR Harvard Theological Review HUCA Hebrew Union College Annual ICC International Critical Commentary IDB G. The Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary AB ABD .). N.ABBREVIATIONS Anchor Bible (Commentary) D. Herion (eds.

). Supplements NTS New Testament Studies NTTS New Testament Tools and Studies OGIS W.W. Dittenberger (ed. from the German Quelle.xiv JAAR JBL JES JHC JJS JQR JR JSJ  Journal of the American Academy of Religion Journal of Biblical Literature Journal of Ecumenical Studies Journal of Higher Criticism Journal of Jewish Studies Jewish Quarterly Review Journal of Religion Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian. Orientis graeci inscriptiones selectae I–II PRS Perspectives in Religious Studies Q the source used by Matthew and Luke. “source” RHPR Revue d’histoire et de philosophie religieuses SBLSP Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers SBT Studies in Biblical Theology SJLA Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity SJT Scottish Journal of Theology SNTU Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt SSEJC Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity Th Theology TS Theological Studies TToday Theology Today TynBul Tyndale Bulletin USQR Union Seminary Quarterly Review . Jewish War KEKNT Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament LCL Loeb Classical Library NovT Novum Testamentum NovTSup Novum Testamentum. Hellenistic and Roman Period JSNT Journal for the Study of the New Testament JSNTSup Journal for the Study of the New Testament. Supplements JSOT Journal for the Study of the Old Testament JSOTSup Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. Supplements JSS Journal of Semitic Studies JTS Journal of Theological Studies J.

 VT WUNT YJS ZNW ZTK xv Vetus Testamentum Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament Yale Judaica Series Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche .

the rabbi. Evans The title of the present volume. for context influences the interpretation of the Jesus tradition (viz. Sadducees. the exorcist. How is this diversity to be explained? A great part of the problem has to do with context. institutions. the revolutionary. To know the historical Jesus it is necessary to know a good deal about the world in which Jesus lived. the magician. The Missing Jesus. in the light of which the Jesus of history is to be studied— if he is not to remain missing. and events. provocatively suggests that modern scholarship (not to mention popular literature) is having difficulty finding the historical Jesus. and Galilean. Although not isolated from Hellenistic influences. It is with context that the essays of the present volume are justifiably concerned. We hear of Pharisees. The next several paragraphs will introduce non-experts to some of the basic groups. The balance of the present introduction is intended for readers who have limited knowledge of the world of Jesus. Who were they? What did they believe? Why did they criticize and oppose Jesus? We suspect that their opposition to Jesus had something to do with his proclamation of the kingdom of God and the singular ways in which he lived out the implications of it. Palestinian. This world was Jewish. When we read the Gospels we encounter strange customs and foreign epithets. and more lately the Cynic. The essays that make up this book will probe some of these features. Herodians. found primarily in the New Testament Gospels) more than any other factor influences it. . the shaman. This difficulty manifests itself in the bewildering diversity of portraits.INTRODUCTION: FINDING A CONTEXT FOR JESUS Craig A. the king. it was fundamentally Jewish and fundamentally opposed to the syncretistic allure of its Greco-Roman power-brokers. We hear of Jesus the prophet. a knowledge that the essays that follow presuppose. and ruling priests. the Messiah.

Aramaic. believing that they were genuine descendants of the northern tribes and that their version of the Law of Moses (the so-called Samaritan Pentateuch) constituted true Scripture. What Josephus tells us about these groups is in part corroborated by the New Testament Gospels. and savage reprisals against the Samaritans). As all students of the Bible know. SamaritanJudean relations were not cordial. Later. Josephus describes these groups at length. John 4:20: “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain”).e. destroyed the Samaritan temple at Mount Gerizim (cf. or to marry a Samaritan was to lie with a beast. The Hasmonean dynasty initially enjoyed the support of the Hasidim (i. Latin. however. Another group that emerged during this time were called the Essenes.  Religio-Political Parties First-century Palestine was populated with Jews. Following the exile. The hatred was such that to be called a Samaritan was a grievous insult. when the northern tribes rebelled from the Jerusalem monarchy and eventually came to be known as the kingdom of Samaria. Tensions can be traced back to the ninth century BCE. with the Hasmoneans siding with the Sadducees. the Judeans viewed the Samaritans as at best only part-Jewish. Samaritans. This alliance eventually broke down. they were called Cutheans (by Josephus the first-century Jewish historian) or Kutim (by the Rabbis).2  . “pious ones.” who are probably the forerunners of the Pharisees). The Samaritans. Sandwiched between Judea in the south and Jewish Galilee in the north was Samaria. Because it was believed that they were Gentiles from Cuthea. Josephus tells us of subsequent acts of violence and retribution (such as Samaritans defiling the Jewish Temple with human bones. one of the Hasmonean rulers. and (to the east) Nabatean were the spoken languages in this diverse corner of the Roman Empire. understood themselves quite differently. We encounter an example of this when Jesus’ opponents accuse him of being “a Samaritan and having a demon” ( John 8:48). Samaritans attacking a festival-bound caravan of Galileans. Samaritan-Judean hostilities increased when in 128 BCE Hyrcanus I. and the Apostle . claiming to have studied with the Essenes but eventually following the teaching of the Pharisees. the book of Acts. some rabbis said that to eat the bread of Samaritans was to eat pork. Hebrew.. Greek. and Gentiles. part of the old Assyrian Empire.

Their affluence and political clout were such that they desired no change. They believed in free will (“man has the free choice of good or evil”) and the remoteness of God from the created order (Ant.1.10. but this is far from certain. they worked hard to preserve it. One could say that the Sadducees were the Deists and Arminians of their day. but it is important to know what can be known of them if we are to appreciate the context in which Jesus ministered. In return for their cooperation. 13. because of public pressure they usually followed the policies of the more tolerant Pharisees.4 §16: “the soul perishes with the body”) and the existence of angels (Acts 23:8).6 §297). They accepted the authority of the written Law. The origins of these religio-political groups are obscure. The Sadducees accepted the political status quo. The Pharisees accepted and expanded the oral traditions. The general impression one receives from the New Testament bears this out. Like Jesus and his following. Even their beliefs and relation to one another are not entirely clear. Although the Sadducees were influential among the wealthy (Ant. the Pharisees were a larger and more popular party.W. Mark 12:18. Some early rabbis may very well have been . Acts 23:8. the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and in angels.9 §173. 13. they emphasized purity and separation from those who did not observe their practices. J. their principal political and religious rivals. 18. which consisted primarily of maintaining law and order and collecting the tribute Rome expected. It may only be that the Pharisees held to many traditions that the early rabbis promoted and the later rabbis further expanded. The Sadducees rejected the resurrection (cf. According to Josephus. We are told that the Sadducees were a small group. they received privileged treatment and were assisted in holding onto their position of power.:      3 Paul. Indeed. Ant. 2. Though they were inclined to be severe in their judgments and to have disdain of others. They and the ruling priests collaborated with Rome in the management of Judea. Ant. it should not be assumed that most Sadducees were priests.8.10. It is often assumed that the Pharisees were the forerunners of the rabbis.6 §298) and the aristocratic ruling priests. Because of their zeal for the holiness code (as seen especially in Leviticus).14 §164–165). whose more conservative views had come to be influential with the ruling priests.5. or that most ruling priests were Sadducees. 13. but rejected the oral traditions held dear by the Pharisees ( Josephus.

W..2.  members of the party of the Pharisees. The Scrolls reveal to us a community much concerned with endtimes. The Pharisees’ feisty anti-government behavior may be traced back to the days of the Hasmonean dynasty. 17. convinced that the priest king Alexander Jannaeus was not qualified to offer up sacrifice. 17. On one occasion. but we should probably not assume that all Pharisees were rabbis (i.4 §42). Josephus tells us that Herod was enraged and had the teachers and the youths burned alive ( J.13. they refused to take an oath of loyalty “to Caesar and to the king’s government” (Ant.e. teachers or sages) or that all rabbis were Pharisees. with many of the Scrolls actually produced by Essenes.5 §372–373). the Essenes and pious Jews who join them) and the “sons of darkness” (i. in which it will be vindicated and will assume leadership over the Temple. 13. were mostly celibate. talk out of turn. Most scholars assume that the Dead Sea Scrolls represent an Essene library. and had a priestly orientation. the Romans and faithless Jews who collaborate .e. observed very strict interpretations of the Law. 17. Of the three Jewish parties just reviewed. In contrast to the Sadducees. the Essenes are never mentioned in the New Testament. Similarly. Pharisees incited the crowd to pelt their ruler with the lemons that had been gathered for the festival (Ant.6.. In the Scrolls a great final war is depicted between the “sons of light” (i. Ant..33.4 §43–44). the Pharisees were not willing collaborators with Rome. Josephus tells us that they prophesied that someday the throne would be taken from Herod the Great.4  . shared their possessions. early Christianity seems to have had the most in common with the Essenes.2. Thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls the Essenes have become the most talked about and controversial of the parties mentioned by Josephus. sometimes in the wilderness. It is probable that messianic hope lay behind this prophecy. This group was so strict that to spit. Curiously.2–4 §149–167).2–4 §648–655.e. however. or to laugh loudly was punished with a reduction in one’s food allowance. Indeed. 1. When Herod learned of it he had several Pharisees put to death (Ant. We are told that the Essenes formed their own communities. in the days of Herod two teachers persuaded several young men to clamber up on one of the gates within the Temple precincts and cut down a golden eagle the king had mounted in honor of his Roman overlords.

Some groups. like the Sadducees or the Pharisees (which he also calls “philosophies”). Beyond the probable fact that they were supporters of Herod Antipas.3 §208–210). did not view this as a problem. lest in the wake of the great war (after which Josephus writes) Rome might think the Jewish religion itself fosters rebellion. among large crowds. we know nothing of them. including their oral traditions.:      5 with them). or “men of the dagger. their “fence” erected around the Law. but they looked to heaven in anticipation . some adopted violent tactics. Many were probably passive in their criticism of the Herodians and the Romans. Finally. he is describing a social and political tactic adopted by some (including Pharisees) whereby violence was used against collaborators with Rome. On one occasion the sicarii kidnapped a secretary of one of the ruling priests. By calling them a fourth philosophy Josephus may be trying to bracket off these people from the others. probably most.3 §254–257). One Scroll may actually describe a confrontation between the Messiah and the Roman Emperor. After plunging in the knife.9.W. 12:13 = Matt 22:16) and are never referred to anywhere else. Some scholars have identified the zealots with the fourth philosophy. The Pharisees believed that deliverance would come through scrupulous observance of the Law.” These assassins often attacked in broad daylight. Josephus also tells us of a “fourth philosophy. He is not describing another party or sect.” Our friend is probably being somewhat disingenuous. they took up cries of outrage and calls for assistance as their victim fell. 2. thus bringing the conflict to a joyous conclusion (4Q285). But most others longed for change. For many Jews. mention must be made of the “Herodians. like the Sadducees and the Herodians. the biggest problem was Roman domination.” who make only two appearances in the Gospels (Mark 3:6.13. in which the former slays the latter. but as we have seen. Paul was himself asked if he was a member of this group (Acts 21:38). Their identification with either the Sadducees or the Essenes is not recommended. They were content to live with it. demanding that ten of their fellows be released from prison (Ant. Essenes also hoped for revolution. By this subterfuge they were not often detected and apprehended ( J. but the zealots were a coalition of various rebel groups that formed during the great revolt against Rome in 66–70 CE. Those who embraced the tactics of the fourth philosophy included the sicarii. 20.

Roman soldiers once again attacked what appears to have been another attempt to reenact a story from the book of Joshua. Paul was himself asked if he were this fugitive (Acts 21:38). Religio-Political Deliverers Following the death of Herod the Great several men attempted to place the crown upon their heads. and the head of the prophet was mounted on a pole near one of the gates of Jerusalem (Ant.6 §169–170). the Jordan River would be parted and he and his following would cross with ease.” persuaded many to join him atop the Mount of Olives.10.7 §278–284). Athronges the shepherd of Judea. It is possible .8.” He was to rule over parts of Judea for more than two years before finally being subdued by the Romans (Ant. was “remarkable for his great stature and feats of strength. The Roman governor dispatched the cavalry. This Joshualike act was probably intended as a confirming sign. A generation later two prophetic figures arose who are especially interesting.1 §97–98. not only of Theudas’ true prophetic status. We hear of Simon of Perea who plundered and burned the royal palace in Jericho (Ant. which made short work of Theudas and his band of followers. Although 400 were killed and 200 were taken prisoner.  of a dramatic and final moment in time when prophecies would be fulfilled. 20. whereby Israel’s poor and marginalized would regain their lost patrimony. Acts 5:36). “who declared that he was a prophet. During the first rebellion against Rome. 17. perhaps even in messianic terms. 17. At his command. Another. Some individuals took it upon themselves to usher in the awaited new age. where at his command the walls of Jerusalem would collapse providing his following entry into and possession of the holy city.10.5.6  .6 §273–276). One or two of these figures may have thought of themselves as David-like figures. The first is Theudas who according to Josephus persuaded many to take up their possessions and join him in the wilderness. somehow the Egyptian Jew escaped (Ant. 20. cf. he promised. but of the beginning of a new conquest of the promised land. A decade later a Jew from Egypt. zealot leaders Menahem and Simon bar Giora rallied many around themselves. Many were killed.

. The oracle he refers to is Num 24:17 (“a star shall come out of Jacob . Josephus is being disingenuous. while in Judea fighting Jewish rebels. Josephus believed.”. however. dill. . . Healing on the sabbath. eating with “unwashed” hands. Against these criticisms Jesus replied sharply: “Woe to you. Josephus states that what more than anything else drove his countrymen to rebellion was an “ambiguous oracle. Like the Pharisees (but unlike the Sadducees). Jesus believes in the resurrection and in angels. scribes and Pharisees. Josephus believed that the royal acclamation of Vespasian. when in reality it promised only that a world deliverer would be coronated on Jewish soil.:      7 that both were thought of in messianic terms. an obscuring that would be necessary. if the Jewish people were to survive in the Roman Empire in the aftermath of the terrible war. hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 23:13). and cummin. and associating with tax collectors and “sinners” occasion criticism and even deadly plotting. and with which he seems the most angry. “a king shall come out of Jacob. see also Matt 2:2). scribes and Pharisees. hypocrites! For you tithe mint.” His fellow Jews mistakenly believed that this oracle promised a Jewish deliverer. was the fulfillment of this oracle. Jesus’ anticipation of the kingdom of God and the restoration of Israel was probably in essential agreement with Pharisaic hopes. was politically shrewd. “Woe to you. the Messiah . Jesus in Context The party with which Jesus has the most contact. but his understanding of purity and his acceptance of sinners on the basis of repentance set him against the Pharisees. Applying it to the new emperor. plucking and eating grain on the sabbath. Again. Simon made a dramatic appearance and surrendered to the Romans who later executed him. Menahem became an insufferable tyrant and early in the war was murdered by his own following. When Jerusalem was captured and the Temple was destroyed. is the Pharisees.”) and he knows perfectly well it was widely understood as messianic (in the Targum it is paraphrased. not only currying favor with the new Roman dynasty but obscuring the messianic hopes many Jews held. . and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith” (Matt 23:23). .

When he sent the demonic “Legion” into the herd of swine (Mark 5:1–20). for Jesus’ criticisms would have been viewed as outrageous. but in his parable of the Wicked Vineyard Tenants (Mark 12:1–12) he provides the answer implicitly: He is none other than God’s son and emissary. 14:58). he rebukes the establishment for failing to live up to the grand vision of Isa 56:1–8 (“my Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”) and criticizes it as a “cave of robbers” ( Jer 7:11). After all. whose mascot was the boar. when Jesus entered the city people had cried out. The polemic intensifies with warnings of the scribes’ avarice (Mark 12:38–44) and talk of the Temple’s doom (Mark 13:1–2. His homespun parables are similar to those of the early rabbis. something that would not be tolerated either by the ruling priests or their Roman masters. The question about taxes. put to Jesus by the Herodians (Mark 12:13–17). Sending the demonic legion into the abyss. Jesus’ teaching and activities at many points parallel those of his contemporaries. His proverbs.  More serious. one of these legions. cf. Jesus refuses to answer directly. occupied Jerusalem following the great war. The ruling priests are incensed and demand to know by what authority he does these things (Mark 11:27–33). was natural in light of the overtones of Jesus’ teaching and actions in Jerusalem. for rejecting him the ruling priests face certain judgment. The restoration of a Davidic kingdom surely implied that taxes would no longer be paid to Caesar. was Jesus’ criticism of the ruling priests.8  . we should think of the Roman legion. however. Given the fact that taxes destined for Rome were actually deposited in the Temple. implying that divine judgment threatens (see the whole of Jeremiah 7). “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David” (Mark 11:10). Indeed. putting this sensitive question to Jesus while he taught in the sacred precincts makes perfect sense. his style of argumentation. Threats against the ruling priests and talk of the disciples sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28 = Luke 22:28–30) clearly implied a change in administration. Jesus’ actions resemble similar demonstrations and declarations that took place in the Temple precincts conducted by Jewish teachers (before the time of Jesus and after). There are hints of anti-Roman sentiment in Jesus’ ministry. to its destruction. In his action in the Temple precincts (Mark 11:15–18). and his piety . would have conveyed a powerful symbolic meaning to oppressed people in the Roman Empire.

Jesus’ diction clearly reflects the Aramaic paraphrase later called the Targum. But his definition of the kingdom of God—as the powerful presence of God—and his vision of Israel’s and humanity’s salvation as first and foremost spiritual. . highlights important and distinctive elements.:      9 find many parallels. rather than political. But even these distinctive features cannot be fully and properly understood unless studied in context. The essays that follow attempt to do this very thing. but his declaration that Scripture is “fulfilled” and that the “kingdom of God has come” represents distinctive features.

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” Things often go missing because they have been misplaced. the Jesus of history seems to have been misplaced. The placement of Jesus into a Cynic framework. for example. with a history that dates back to the writing of the New Testament Gospels.THE MISPLACED JESUS INTERPRETING JESUS IN A JUDAIC CONTEXT Craig A. but missing element is frequently both the cause and the result of failing to place Jesus in the appropriate context. . accomplishment of scholarship to date. some plausible. and given the rapid expansion of the early church. The Cynic hypothesis will in time assuredly be consigned to the dustbin of ill-conceived hypotheses. The tendency to place Jesus above Judaism is to some extent understandable. Jesus has been lifted out of his Judaic context and relocated in what is supposed to be a more suitable. whereby Jesus is seen as universal savior (and not simply Israel’s Messiah). What is missing in many presentations of Jesus is his Jewishness. whereby its membership becomes predominantly Gentile (and so largely devoid of interest in and of understanding of Judaism and the Jewish people). Even in the last two centuries. not to say dubious. some implausible. especially the fourth one. Christianity’s reluctance to allow Jesus to reside in his Judaic context is in itself an item of interest. is in some ways probably the most curious. but it will be useful nonetheless to appeal to it as our point of departure. Hellenistic setting. given the development of christology.1 In recent years the public and the scholarly community have been presented with a variety of historical Jesuses. This essential. especially those emanating from the North American Jesus Seminar and its sympathizers. but the politically correct Jesus of the late twentieth century. In my view what we are often left with is not really the historical Jesus. Evans Despite a great deal of debate and discussion. which we regard as the era of 1 The theme of our conference is “the missing Jesus. is the contextual misplacement of Jesus. The principal fault of the implausible portraits.

1971). with Introduction by C. 5 M. D. C. Chilton. Peabody: Hendrickson. Burney.  critical biblical scholarship. 6 M. F. ET: The Words of Jesus (Edinburgh: T. Westcott.. Chilton. Torrey. 1967. Chilton. Black’s work represents a major advance in critical controls over the older works of C. 3rd ed. 7 B. Sheffield: JSOT Press. Evans.6 Indeed. see J.2 That a full and proper understanding of the Judaic context has not become commonplace in New Testament scholarship is partly owing to serious shortcomings in the pertinent. “Jesus within Judaism. Jesus in Context: Temple. idem. 1933). For a convenient collection of Aramaic materials from the approximate time of Jesus. Leiden: Brill. Targum and Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 1998). 1972). 2 On this point. idem.7 Nevertheless. Jeremias. D.3 from which Joachim Jeremias years later tried to isolate the ipsissima verba Jesu. B. the reluctance to place Jesus in his Judaic context is evident. Evans. Dalman. Die Worte Jesu mit Berücksichtung des nach kanonischen jüdischen Schrifttums und der aramäischen Sprache erörtert (Leipzig: Hinrichs. 1946. & T. Neusner (ed. Historical Syntheses (Handbuch der Orientalistik 70.” in J. in Chilton and C. Purity. A.4 This problem also vitiates to a great extent Matthew Black’s attempt to deal with exegetical difficulties and textual uncertainties in the Gospels and Acts by appeal to Aramaic. 1982). McNamara. cognate fields of study. repr. D. The Glory of Israel: The Theology and Provenience of the Isaiah Targum ( JSOTSup 23. see B.” SJT 31 (1978). Fitzmyer and D. ET: New Testament Theology: The Proclamation of Jesus (London: SCM Press. 1978). J. 1979. An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts (Oxford: Clarendon. 2nd ed. and C. Neutestamentliche Theologie: Erster Teil: Die Verkündigung Jesu (Gütersloh: Mohn.5 Refinement in study of the Aramaic Targums and the addition of a significant amount of Aramaic material from the time of Jesus—thanks largely to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls— have made it possible to make surer headway in this field. The New Testament and the Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch (AnBib 27A. The Four Gospels (New York: Harper. Leiden: Brill. J. F. BibSem 8. In the English language this is plainly evident in the great commentaries of J. Harrington. 1898). A. 1925). Lightfoot and B. Freistadt: Plöchl. H. Judaism in Late Antiquity: II. 1997) 179–201. “Regnum Dei Deus Est. The Poetry of Our Lord: An Examination of the Formal Elements of Hebrew Poetry in the Discourse of Jesus Christ (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1978). Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute Press. . A Manual of Palestinian Aramaic Texts (Second Century BC–Second Century AD) (BibOr 34. 3 The attempt was certainly laudable and to some extent balanced the tendency in late nineteenth century scholarship to draw parallels almost exclusively between the New Testament and classical sources. repr. 4 G. 1902). important aspects of Jesus’ understanding of the kingdom of God have been clarified by judicious use of the Isaiah Targum. was called into question because of his appeal to Aramaic documents that post-date the time of Jesus by several centuries. Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute..12  . For all its faults. God in Strength: Jesus’ Announcement of the Kingdom (SNTU 1. and Restoration (AGJU 39. Clark.). repr. 1995) 262–84. A. Gustaf Dalman’s attempt to understand the language of Jesus in terms of Aramaic. B. 1971). Black.

literary and traditional context. and the assumption that the midrashic and talmudic literature describes accurately the second Temple period. Sheffield: JSOT Press. S. .). Munich: Beck. This study has been revised and reprinted in Chilton and Evans. “the way things really were. 1987). It is ironic that at a time when the potential for studying Jesus in a Jewish context has never been more propitious so many today seek to place him in other contexts. Billerbeck. (ed.9 Critical study of rabbinic literature. 1995) 53–76. The first part hopes to expose the fallacies and consequences of putting Jesus into the wrong context. which is still in its early stages.. critical study of the Targums. L.” ZNW 74 (1983) 237–46. in this case a relatively unJewish. Atlanta: Scholars Press. The second part attempts to show how Jesus in his teaching and behavior is right at home in the world of first century Palestinian Judaism and that when placed in his proper context his teaching and behavior make sense. Alexander. 1978). Evans.” in Eugene H. Jesus in Context. Society of Biblical Literature 1995 Seminar Papers (SBLSP 34. 1984) = A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible: Jesus’ Use of the Interpreted Scripture of His Time (GNS 8. A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible: Jesus’ Own Interpretation of Isaiah (London: SPCK. this time with greater precision. idem. The most commonly cited problems have to do with failure to treat the parallels in their full.. and (2) Jesus in his Judaic context. 8 (H. “Rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament. See also P. At many points I follow Neusner. especially in recent years. Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch (6 vols. Cynic context. 27–57.   13 the perceived weaknesses of the earlier attempts of Dalman and his successors tended to discourage New Testament scholars from taking an Aramaic approach to Jesus and the Gospels. 1984). Failure to appreciate the Judaic context of Jesus is also partly owing to the now widespread awareness of the shortcomings of Paul Billerbeck’s massive collection of Rabbinic and New Testament parallels in his Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch. 6th ed. “Early Rabbinic Sources and Jesus Research. as Jacob Neusner puts. This paper speaks to this issue and is presented in two parts: (1) the misplaced Jesus. and the recent publication of the full corpus of the Dead Sea Scrolls make it possible to look at Jesus again in his Judaic context. Wilmington: Glazier. Strack) and P. 9 Or. Jr. Lovering.” I discuss these various deficiencies in C. uncritical acceptance of the attribution of the rabbinic sayings.8 This work has been criticized by many. A.

The book attempts to explain the origins of the story of Jesus. “Q and Cynicism: On Comparison and Social Identity.” which Mack understands to have been the first written Gospel. According to Professor Mack: [1] Jesus’ use of parables. For a similar view. 1993) 245. and clever rejoinders is very similar to the Cynics’ way with words.  The Misplaced Jesus Burton Mack recently published a book entitled The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins. aphorisms. particularly in the form of “Q . Mack has said: “As remembered by the Jesus people. which many Gospel scholars think was utilized by the Matthean and Lukan evangelists. thinks Mack. diffident and vague. As the subtitle makes clear. [2] The Cynic’s self-understanding must be taken seriously as that which many must have expected of Jesus. the book is concerned with the hypothetical source called Q . Arguing from the style of Jesus’ ministry and what he believes to have been the essence of his message. The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins (San Francisco: HarperCollins. see L. was Cynic. Jesus was viewed as iconoclastic and countercultural. A. Mack. That is. Two quotations from this book summarize the gist of his perspective. idem. Jesus was much more like the Cynic-teacher than either a Christsavior or a messiah with a program for the reformation of secondtemple Jewish society and religion. also agrees with the typical Cynic stance. And his style of social criticism.14  . Not only does Jesus’ style of social criticism compare favorably. Many of his themes are familiar Cynic themes.”10 Mack goes on to appeal to pre-Markan traditions and the Gospel of Thomas for support for a view that has struck most Gospel scholars and Jesus scholars as implausible. published a decade ago and entitled A Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins. He believes that the earliest Q community understood Jesus in terms more akin to Cynicism than to Judaism. 1994). Leiden: Brill. Accordingly. Mack has concluded that Jesus’ contemporaries would have readily recognized the Galilean teacher as a Cynic. Piper (ed. 1994) 199–229. L. Vaage.). his themes and topics are much 10 B. Mack’s study of Q is more or less a sequel to his earlier study of the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel behind the Gospels: Current Studies on Q (NovTSup 75.” in R. Only the early layer of Q . Galilean Upstarts: Jesus’ First Followers according to Q (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International. . not affirming Israel’s heritage and eschatological aspirations.

” How is Jesus’ social criticism “diffident and vague”? His blistering criticism of Pharisees. “Jesus as Diogenes? Reflections on the Cynic Jesus Thesis.11 Mack’s negative assertions here are simply breathtaking. see A. have not been as euphoric.   15 closer to Cynic idiom than to those characteristic for public Jewish piety. A Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins (Minneapolis: Fortress.” To this hyperbole Ron Cameron adds: “A Myth of Innocence is surely one of the most important studies of the origins of Christianity since Schweitzer’s Quest. For example. Let us briefly examine each one. One seeks in vain a direct engagement of specifically Jewish concerns. in actuality it does not. More recently.” Indeed. in the first quotation Mack adds that Jesus’ “style of social criticism. He deals deftly with questions about his authority (Mark 11:27–33) and whether or not he believes taxes should be paid to Rome (Mark 12:13–17). No less astonishing is some of the jacket blurb that appears on the back of the book. JBL 108 (1989) 726–29. and F. nor do his recommendations draw upon obviously Jewish concepts and authorities . L.” To this I reply. But his ambiguous ripostes on these occasions do not exemplify diffidence. see P. The Cynic analogy repositions the historical Jesus away from a specifically Jewish sectarian milieu and toward the Hellenistic ethos known to have prevailed in Galilee. Mack asserts: “Jesus’ style of social criticism compare(s) favorably (to the Cynic’s). . Mack. . Also. here 162) is tempered when he opines that Mack has reached “some very odd conclusions” and that it is not fair to blame Mark “for all the ills of the West stretching from the crusades to the holocaust .” JBL 117 (1998) 97–104. with whom he differed in matters of halakah and understanding of mission.” JBL 115 (1996) 449–69. Neither is Jesus’ critique directed specifically toward Jewish institutional issues. and his criticism and prophetic threats directed against the Temple establishment are anything but diffident and vague. . also agrees with the typical Cynic stance. diffident and vague. “Deeper Reflections on the Jewish Cynic Jesus. however.12 Virtually every disclaimer Mack makes in the second quotation above is false. no. Reviewers and scholars. Jesus’ style of social criticism noticeably differs from the Cynic style at many points (more on this below). First. 73. 11 B. To be sure. Y. Kelber’s hyperbole (drawn from his review in CBQ 52 [1990] 161–63. Werner Kelber asserts: “A Myth of Innocence is the most penetrating historical work on the origins of Christianity written by an American scholar in this century. G. Downing’s rejoinder. Collins. 1988) 68.” (here 163). R. 12 For a sampling. . . Eddy. but strategic discretion. Jesus can be crafty and clever.

421–22. a beggar’s pouch (pÆra).”15 The Cynic regarded himself as free under Zeus and often considered himself the deity’s co-worker. 1992). their descriptions of these ideologies have tended to reinforce in the public mind.13 and readily accepting the conclusions recommended by Mack. his interpretation of the earliest Q community as understanding Jesus as a Cynic supports. G. I might add. Cynics and Christian Origins (Edinburgh: T. no bag [pÆra]. of Israel’s prophets of the classical period). Clark. The Historical Jesus. at least so far as we can determine. some of these features are also true of the Essenes and various other individual Jews (and true. 85. Jesus’ itinerant ministry. his modest manner of means and dress. Dom Crossan has also argued that the philosophy and lifestyle of the Cynic provides the closest model against which Jesus should be viewed. 1991) esp. and “looked sufficiently different from what was normal by contemporary social standards. 83. nor bread. In the Matthean and Lukan parallels even the staff is excluded (Matt F. & T. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: HarperCollins.  Impressed by Gerald Downing’s parallels between the sayings of Jesus and those thought to have been uttered by Cynics or to be representative of Cynic thought and behavior. no money in their belts. his view of Jesus as a Cynic. 14 J.” Crossan explains. Christ and the Cynics: Jesus and Other Radical Preachers in FirstCentury Tradition ( JSOT Manuals 4. as well as in the academic mind. and his criticism of the religious establishment are all in keeping with the theory and practice typical of first-century Cynics. his celibacy. D. Many of the studies emanating from the Jesus Seminar take a similar tack. a staff (bakthr¤a). Crossan believes. Although it is true that Q researchers are primarily concerned with the ideologies of the hypothetical Q communities and not with the historical Jesus. 13 . 1988). The implication of these observations. however. Crossan has given this popular trend its most eloquent expression. including studies of the “Q” source underlying Matthew and Luke. he believes. and usually went barefoot (see Julian. is that Jesus was himself a Jewish Cynic. Sheffield: JSOT Press. There are superficial parallels. Downing. But then. Crossan. In the case of Mack. 15 Crossan. but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics [xit«n]” (Mark 6:8–9). his repudiation of political power and materialism. Were they Cynics also? Advocates of the Cynic hypothesis usually appeal to the Missionary Discourse: “He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff [=ãbdon]. The Cynic was “counter cultural. idem.14 The Cynic typically carried a cloak (tr¤bvn). Orations 6.16  . to be sure.201A). the image of the Hellenistic Jesus who held little interest in the matters that concerned first-century Palestinian Jews. his egalitarian practices.

Diogenes Laertius. the only parallel with Jesus is in the giving of instructions with regard to what to wear and what to take on one’s journey. .4 §125–127). 47–48.22. On the contrary. Gen 32:10 [ Jacob]. Isa 11:4. Seneca. is hardly distinctive to Cynics. De officiis 1.16 However. as attested in Scripture and experienced through his Spirit.” he asks. .g.3). Cicero. In contrast to Jesus’ instructions. . Lucian.69. The parallel with the Essenes is closer than those with Cynics ( Josephus.20. Mack thinks that “( Jesus’) themes and topics are much closer to Cynic idiom than to those characteristic for public Jewish piety. Epictetus. Close examination of the parallels between Jesus and alleged Cynic 16 See Downing.W. in the Jewish context the staff has a long and distinguished association with the patriarchs (e. it is also a symbol of royal authority. Ps. J. Lives of Eminent Philosophers 6.. then there is no agreement).g. and early rabbinic literature. None of this in any way resembles what is known of Jesus and his earliest followers. . and the great lawgiver and his brother (e.   17 10:10. cf. Moral Epistles 91.. indeed. Christ and the Cynics. such as urinating. Diogenes Laertius.-Diogenes 30.128. Second. According to Julian. Ezek 19:14). if we do not. however. The only specific agreement is taking the staff (if we follow Mark. Gen 49:10.13. Discourses 2. The rod. . the “end and aim of the Cynic philosophy . moreover. Exod 4:4 [Moses]. whose principal aim was to live under the authority of God. 7:9 [Aaron])..193D). 2. 38:18 [ Judah]). defecating. Moreover. and engaging in sexual intercourse in public (cf. Cynics. Luke 9:3. Jewish apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. This does not square with what is known of Jesus. Lives of Eminent Philosophers 6. is happiness.” (Orations 6. figuring in texts which in later interpretation take on messianic and eschatological significance (e.50. “from which end the noise comes?”). these items were their characteristic markers: “What makes a Cynic is his purse and his staff and his big mouth” (Epictetus 3.19 [“What difference does it make to me. Cynics took a purse and a staff.g.10 [“eat and drink and copulate and defecate and snore”]. were known for flouting social custom and etiquette.8.” Such a statement can only be made by someone insufficiently acquainted with the language and themes of the Dead Sea Scrolls. but happiness that consists in living according to nature . Peregrinus 15. 10:4).

17 . Michel Festschrift. 1963) 129–52. Young. M. K. and prayers. There is no good reason for placing the particulars of Jesus’ teaching outside the parameters of Jewish religious practice and debate of late antiquity. New York: Scribner’s. O. B.” in O. Schmidt (eds. it is widely agreed that the myriad of parallels assembled in this work dramatically attests the Jewishness of the content and form of Jesus’ discourse and behavior. Die rabbinischen Gleichnisse und der Gleichniserzähler Jesus (Bern: Peter Lang. Leiden: Brill. Jeremias. 1963). 1990). the principal markers by which people of late antiquity readily recognized a Jewish person. 1981). the great number of parallels between the sayings of Jesus and rabbinic tradition compiled in Paul Billerbeck’s Kommentar (which nowhere in his books Mack cites) attests to the close correlation between early rabbinic idiom and Jesus’ themes and topics. The Lord’s Prayer and Jewish Liturgy (New York: Seabury. D. Hengel. A.” On the contrary. Brocke (eds. Mack makes the astonishing assertion that “One seeks in vain a direct engagement of specifically Jewish concerns. Despite its faults. Dalman. Third. 1995) 251–97. E. Flusser. They Also Taught in Parables: Rabbinic Parables from the First Centuries of the Christian Era (Grand Rapids: Zondervan.). many of Downing’s parallels are to sources that probably are not Cynic. Evans. G. Fiebig.  traditions that Downing has adduced reveals that these “parallels” are usually quite general. so some of these parallels reflect the Mediterranean world of late antiquity more than they do distinctive Cynic traits. Jesus and His Jewish Parables (New York: Paulist. Such I have summarized and selectively treated these in C. Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (AGJU 25. Jesus-Jeshua: Studies in the Gospels (London: SPCK. Petuchowski and M.18  . 1936). Leiden: Brill. Die Gleichnisreden Jesu im lichte der rabbinischen Gleichnisse des neutestamentlichen Zeitalters (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck]. J. The Parables of Jesus (London: SCM. and P. For more extensive treatments. Oesterley. “Sanktus und Gloria. McArthur and R. What is more. 1912). nowhere in his responses do we find indications that Jesus denigrated or rejected the subjects themselves. J. see P. proverbs.). There are impressive parallels between Jesus and the rabbis in parables. Betz. J. Abraham unser Vater: Juden und Christen im Gespräch über die Bibel (O. W. Although Jesus is often criticized for holding to a halakic understanding that differed from that of other teachers.17 Although Billerbeck’s work has been criticized at many points. D. Flusser. Perhaps an even more pronounced engagement with Jewish concerns is seen in Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God. Jesus engages his contemporaries in matters relating to purity and sabbath. 1978). M. 1989). 1929). Johnston. The Gospel Parables in the Light of Their Jewish Background (London: Macmillan. H. H.

51 [ı poimØn ka‹ basileÁw yeÚw êgei]. Agric. 173. above all of the enthronement Psalms (e. Caini 5. ling. L. Christian concept.   19 a message would have spoken directly to Jewish hopes of national redemption. Abr. Dan 4:3. 78 [tØn toË megãlou basil°vw yeoË dÊnamin]. paraphrasing Deut 10:17 [kÊrie.” in B. . in which a pronoun is used (cf. The concept of God’s rule is rooted in Scripture itself.m) or is said to “rule” (˚l'm). 1994) 255–80. Philo speaks similarly of God as king (Cherub. Williams.g. 34. There are also indirect references to God’s kingdom. Pss 22:28. 2 Chr 13:8. The expression “kingdom of Y” occurs in 1 Chr 28:5. Herein lies a major weakness in the Cynic approach that Mack and others have taken.. in the Hebrew Scriptures God is frequently called “king” (˚l.). and many more).” Forum 3 (1987) 3–47. Mack. “Neither Here nor There: Between Wisdom and Apocalyptic in Jesus’ Kingdom Sayings. 105 [pr«tow ka‹ mÒnow t«n ˜lvn basileÁw ı yeÒw §sti]. not something that directly derives from Judaism. 7:27. But rareness of the expression in Greek means little in the discussion of the diction of the Aramaic-speaking Jesus. 29. Chilton draws our attention to several important instances of the appearances of the Aramaic phrase hwhyd/ahlad atwklm (“kingdom See B. 47. Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (NTTS 19. G. 17:3 (≤ basile¤a toË yeoË ≤m«n) and Wis 10:10 (basile¤an yeoË) providing examples. Mack makes what he thinks is a telling point in claiming that the phrase “kingdom of God” is quite rare in non-Christian Jewish literature. Chilton and C. kÊrie. 18 . “The Kingdom Sayings in Mark. 93. see J. 145:11–13). and his attempt to construe Jesus’ preaching purely on the basis of hellenistic antecedents only succeeds to the extent that Judaic texts such as the Targums which long been known and studied are willfully ignored by scholars who should know better than to engage in such special pleading. One thinks . 103:19. Moreover.”19 Chilton is correct. 1 Chr 29:11. Ps 22:28. Sol. Migr. 146 [ı m°gaw ka‹ mÒnow basileÁw yeÒw]. Chilton. Leiden: Brill. 19 B. For an uncritical affirmation and extension of this view. Obad 21. Post.18 The implication is that this theologoumenon is more of a post-Jesus. basileË t«n ye«n]. A. “The Kingdom of God in Recent Discussion. Conf. Evans (eds. with Pss. 96–99) where is frequently heard the refrain “Y has become king!” Apart from the Gospels and New Testament writings the Greek phrase is admittedly rare.” Forum 5 (1989) 7–30. To this Bruce Chilton has responded in uncompromising terms: “Let us be clear: Mack is quite wrong. here 269.

“all His kingdom” (4Q403 1 i 32–33). For the Heavenly One will arise from his kingly throne [a sede regni sui ]” (T. The Dead Sea Scrolls contribute to Chilton’s impressive targumic evidence. Königsherrschaft Gottes und himmlischer Kult im Judentum. but would have been readily perceived as speaking to the hopes and expectations of many of his Jewish contemporaries. Tg. MasSS 2:20). Against the backdrop of such diction and imagery Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God would have been not only intelligible. 1991) 45–118. 4Q405 3 ii 4. 155–81. Obad 21. 3). Chilton. Of special interest is Tg. According to Jub. M. Moses 10:1. cf. 10. The Glory of Israel: The Theology and Provenience of the Isaiah Targum ( JSOTSup 23. the idea of God’s reign is also found in several of the pseudepigraphal writings. Isa 24:23. and “the glorious kingdom of the King of all the g[ods]” (4Q405 24 3). Christentum und in der hellenistischen Welt (WUNT 55. 20 .21 Though not as frequently attested. .” in M. . Schwemer (eds. Tg. Jesus and His Contemporaries. 1 i 14. which occurs ten times in eight passages (Tg.” In anticipation of Israel’s restoration. 52:7. Hengel and A. 1:28 God is “king” who rules “upon Mount Zion forever and ever. Evans. The hope of the appearance of the kingdom of God. could not be more inconsistent with Cynic thought and behavior.). “your kingdom” (4Q400 1 ii 3. “his glorious kingdom” (4Q403 1 i 25. ii 11–12). “Gott als König und seine Königsherrschaft in den Sabbatlieden aus Qumran. 2 1. the patriarch Dan prophesies that “the Holy One will rule [basileÊvn] over them” (T. Mic 4:7. and people are refreshed spiritually and physically. Tg. Schwemer. Mic 4:7–8. 4Q405 23 i 3. 21 See A. Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck]. The author of the Testament of Moses predicts the appearance of God’s kingdom after Israel endures a period of wrath: “Then his (God’s) kingdom [regnum illius] will appear . 4Q401 14 i 7). “his lofty kingdom” (4Q403 1 i 8. B. “your glorious kingdom” (4Q401 14 i 6). Ezek 7:7. whereby wrongs are put right.20 Most of these passages speak of the appearance or revelation of the kingdom of God and so conceive of it in eschatological terms.20  . Dan 5:13). Tg. 40:9. Here one finds references to God’s kingdom (though almost always using the personal pronoun) in the various editions of the Song of the Sabbath Sacrifice. M. in which the appearance of the kingdom of God is associated with the coming of the Messiah. 1982) 77–81. evil is banished. These references include “his kingdom” (4Q403 1 i 32). 31:4. Sheffield: JSOT Press. Zech 14:9).  of God/Y”). 8.

Mack adds: “Neither is Jesus’ critique directed specifically toward Jewish institutional issues. was associated with a demonstration. 12) Mack dismisses John’s linkage of Jesus’ ministry and subsequent execution.. and execution was a literary and theological invention on the part of the Markan evangelist. . Jesus and His Contemporaries. 301–18. is not persuasive.   21 Fourth. Atlanta: Scholars Press. Lull [ed. an act that many rightly consider bedrock tradition. We have here an important point of agreement between Mark. Mack’s student.” This disclaimer. He also fails to take into account a similar linkage between the public ministry and the deadly high priestly opposition attested in Josephus. Before that time the scenario would have appeared ridiculous” (p. “The gospel theme must therefore be a post 70 CE fabrication. 18. however. John (which is surely independent of the Synoptics). Ant. For example.e. 345–52. David Seeley (“Was Jesus like a Philosopher? The Evidence of Martyrological and Wisdom Motifs in Q . the death itself was probably just a mistake” (i. because he finds no evidence of an anti-Temple orientation on the part of Jesus. A Myth of Innocence. Society of Biblical Literature 1989 Seminar Papers [SBLSP 28. most probably during a pilgrimage season.3 §63–64. 23 With a brief note (Myth of Innocence. and Josephus: Jesus’ public activities provoked the ruling priests. 225 n.23 Mack believes that Mark’s account of Jesus’ action in the Temple is fiction. and Mark. See Evans. 88–89. Mack comments: “Jesus must have gone there on some occasion. In the part of this embellished text that virtually all regard as authentic Josephus describes Jesus as a teacher and wonderworker who was accused by the “leading men” (i.” in D. In doing this he has swept aside the critical judgment of several Johannine scholars. in that Pilate misunderstood Jesus’ intensions). Some of his followers apparently saw a connection between Jesus’ activity in Galilee and his fate in Jerusalem” (pp. 88–89). Jesus’ demonstration in the Temple precincts. 282). Had he considered historical parallels he might have thought better.]. 1989] 540–49. here 548) agrees. whose accusation before Pilate resulted in Jesus’ execution.22 Again Mack’s reasoning is faulty and his misinterpretation and neglect of pertinent source material are egregious. ruling priests) before the Roman governor..3. . J. Pre-Pauline Traditions. redactional reasons . Where Mack goes astray is in thinking that Jesus’ action should be understood in anti-Temple terms. . How Mack can make the claim that he does is very difficult to comprehend. claiming that the fourth Gospel is dependent upon the Synoptics. . was directed specifically toward the polity and practice of the single most important Jewish institution. 282. His negative assertion is part and parcel with his dubious claim that Jesus’ execution had nothing to do with his ministry.” Mack believes that the link between Jesus’ public activities and teachings and his subsequent arrest. and was killed . interrogation.e. the teachers who during a religious festival incited the 22 Mack. but was probably the unfortunate result of having been “associated with a demonstration. adding that the evangelist “Mark concocted the Jewish conspiracy against Jesus for his own. .

Evans and S. the Hasmonean priestking (c. A. 1971). Leiden: Brill. 26 For discussion and an able defense of this line of interpretation. cf.27 the tendency of Mack and many of the Jesus Seminar 24 According to Josephus. Sanders (BIS 28. 13. The disappointment that Jesus expressed in the Temple establishment for not achieving the exalted function envisioned in Isaiah 56 only underscores Jesus’ loyalty to the Temple and his belief in its enduring importance. The Quest for Context and Meaning: Studies in Biblical Intertextuality in Honor of James A.25 But because of commercialism and the concomitant abridgement of the pragmata of sacrifice.22  . Jesus’ action in the sacred precincts offers evidence of precisely the opposite disposition of what Mack wrongly imagines. Jesus’ action in the Temple provides compelling and significant evidence that Jewish institutional issues lay at the heart of Jesus’ agenda.5 §372–373).26 Jesus appealed to the ominous oracle of Jeremiah 7. .13. which in the case of Isaiah 56 looked forward to a glorious era when Jerusalem’s Temple would be appreciated and honored by the world. did so not because of an anti-Temple bias. Although not every quotation or paraphrase of Scripture attributed to Jesus necessarily derives from Jesus. 1997) 417–42. Fifth. 27 On this question. Alexander’s critics said that “he was descended from captives and was unfit to hold office and to sacrifice. see R. Ant. Chilton. The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program Within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University Park: Penn State Press. see B. “From ‘House of Prayer’ to ‘Cave of Robbers’: Jesus’ Prophetic Criticism of the Temple Establishment. but because of intense loyalty for the purity of the Temple and the sanctity of the office of High Priest. Jesus appeals to prophetic oracles at the time of his action in the Temple precincts (Mark 11:17). 1992) 91–111.” This is an odd disclaimer in view of Jesus’ frequent appeal to Scripture and the Jewish heritage. In short.24 Similarly.” 25 The oracle found in Isaiah 56 echoes Solomon’s prayer of dedication. T. A.” in C. Jesus and the Old Testament (London: Tyndale. C.).  crowd to pitch lemons at Alexander Jannaeus. in which the hope is expressed that all peoples will come to Jerusalem’s Temple and worship God. In calling the Temple a “cave of robbers” Jesus was no more antiTemple than had been the great first Temple prophet Jeremiah. Evans. 100 BCE) who was preparing to offer sacrifice (cf. Josephus. Talmon (eds. Mack not only claims that Jesus’ critique was not directed specifically toward Jewish institutional issues. France. he adds that Jesus’ “recommendations (do not) draw upon obviously Jewish concepts and authorities.

M. and Restoration (AGJU 39. Evans. Hag.5. to show that Cynics lived in these cities or anywhere else in Galilee in the early first century.” First Things 43 (May.W. y. either archaeological or literary. Tuckett. idem and C. C. Leiden: Brill. C. Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (NTTS 19. The two largest and most Hellenized cities in Galilee were Sepphoris and Tiberias. 30 From the Hasmonean period we have the incident involving Alexander Jannaeus. 6. there is no record that Jesus visited either of these cities during his ministry. “Taking the Text with Her Pleasure. both in his manner of behavior (in teaching disciples) and in his style of scriptural argument. however.31 The “Cynic analogy” does not reposition See R. “Jesus and Israel’s Scriptures. 29 See B. Jesus’ action in the Temple is reminiscent of protests led by teachers in Hasmonean and Herodian times and anticipates protests. It is at this very point that the Jesus Seminar has received some of its sharpest criticism.W. Ant. M.6. A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible: Jesus’ Use of the Interpreted Scripture of His Time (GNS 8. TToday 52 (1995) 270–72. 1994) 43–48. In the years leading up to the great war we have the demonstration of Simeon ben Gamaliel who protested price gouging in the Temple (m. Evans. Besa 20a–b). T. 1994) 281–335. see N. no evidence has yet been adduced. Moreover.29 With reference to his behavior. Wilmington: Glazier. 1997) 277–93. Jesus’ hometown. JTS 46 (1995) 250–53.4. 1984). Purity. didactic or prophetic. J. Besa 2. Hag.2–4 §149–167) and the response to the teaching of Hillel regarding ownership of animals dedicated for sacrifice (t.” in Chilton and Evans (eds.   23 to dismiss this material is wholly unjustified.” The evidence. which at many points coheres with the themes. For criticism of Crossan’s The Historical Jesus. “The Corrected Jesus. Schlosser. simply does not support such a conclusion. Leiden: Brill. Ker. J. 31 Ongoing archaeological work at Sepphoris suggests that prior to 70 CE the 28 . 1–49. in the years leading up to the great war in 66–70 CE. B. Schlueter. b. Evans.” Th 96 (1993) 303–10. Soards. Jesus and His Contemporaries. 2. Consensus 21 (1995) 141–43.33. BZ 39 (1995) 269–71. Perspectives 9 (1994) 18–20. “ ‘Do This and You Will Live’: Targumic Coherence in Luke 10:25–28. L. In the Herodian period we have the teachers who persuaded the young men to destroy the golden eagle in the precincts ( Josephus. Curiously enough. The former is about a two-hour walk from Nazareth. 1:7) and Jesus ben Ananias who prophesied the doom of Jerusalem and the Temple ( J.” in Chilton and Evans. Chilton has plausibly argued that Jesus should be viewed as a rabbi. exegeses. and diction of the Aramaic paraphrase of Scripture. Jesus in Context: Temple. 17.2–4 §648–655.).28 Indeed. E.3 §300–309). Timmer.11. A. Hays. D.3. J. y.30 Sixth and finally Mack asserts that the “Cynic analogy repositions the historical Jesus away from a specifically Jewish sectarian milieu and toward the Hellenistic ethos known to have prevailed in Galilee. Wright. 1. 2. Chilton.

David Aune comments that while “isolated parallels are interesting from a phenomenological perspective.” in J. similarly. For example. approximately one half of Jesus’ parables concern the kingdom of God. “Jesus and Cynics in First-Century Palestine: Some Critical Considerations. this is true only in a very general sense. Again.” (his emphasis).24  .). “How Jewish Was Sepphoris in Jesus’ Time?” BARev 26. other early Jewish literature. Charlesworth and L. the best parallels he adduces frequently are with Josephus. Aune. When the fuller context and structure of Jesus’ thought and behavior are taken into account. Masses of isolated parallels prove little . we are impressed with his rela- city was largely Jewish. aphorisms.” This is true. L. The thematic and structural parallels between the parables of Jesus and the parables of the rabbis are extensive. Jesus’ themes are in fact familiar rabbinic themes.  the historical Jesus away from a Jewish milieu. M. here 185. 61. What is overlooked is that Jesus’ use of parables. only parallel structures of thought and behavior can be considered to have a possible historical or genetic relationship. . Meyers. . aphorisms. 33 D. H. E. Chancey and E. 1997) 176–92.4 (2000) 18–33. and clever rejoinders is very similar to the Cynics’ way with words. but that the Gentile presence was negligible. moreover. and rabbinic literature.” Again. Hillel and Jesus: Comparisons of Two Major Religious Leaders (Minneapolis: Fortress. For more on this point. for the analogy remains unproven and highly improbable. approximately one half of the 325 or so Tannaitic parables feature God as a king. . and clever rejoinders is closer to the rabbis’ way with words. so much so that one recent interpreter of the parables correctly suggests that Jesus and the rabbis drew upon a common thesaurus of vocabulary and imagery. Downing’s parallels are for the most part quite general. Johns (eds. but only superficially.33 Aune’s point is well taken. Mack further claims that “Many of ( Jesus’) themes are familiar Cynic themes. B. Scott. 1989) 18. Hear Then the Parable: A Commentary on the Parables of Jesus (Minneapolis: Fortress. Philo. one’s attention should be drawn to the mass of parallels assembled by Billerbeck and the extensive scholarly literature that has been produced in recent years by scholars who study Jesus in the light of the Dead Sea Scrolls and early Judaica. Mack. as well as absence of pork bones among the faunal remains and absence of certain buildings typical of Greco-Roman cities. Ritual immersion pools and stone water pots. make us think that not only was Sepphoris a very Jewish city. says that “Jesus’ use of parables. see M. 32 B.32 In sum.

Most of our primary material has been handed down by Stoics. it is probably not correct with regard to Cynics to speak of “opposition. There was no interest in reforming or restoring society. . whose idealized portraits scarcely provide the realism necessary for worthwhile comparisons (see. to the Jewish aristocracy and religious establishment of his day. But the evidence falls far short of leading to the conclusion that Jesus actually thought of himself as a Cynic. as much as they despised them. Mack. Nevertheless. Archaeological and literary evidence suggests that Cynicism was in decline in the early first century. Cynicism evolved over several centuries and was about four centuries old in the time of Jesus. as probably there was in the case of Jesus. Jesus’ opposition to the establishment of his day. While it is true that both Cynics and Jesus were in some sense counter-cultural. At this point I would like to summarize four of the major problems with the Cynic hypothesis: 1. Certain aspects of Jesus’ ministry likely would have appeared “cynical. so far as we know.” at least superficially. Crossan.22). They ridiculed what society regarded sacred. primarily from Downing’s Christ and the Cynics. Closer and broader inspection of Cynicism reveals that there is in fact a wide gap between Cynics and Jesus. and others think they can reconstruct Cynicism by drawing from sources that span about six centuries. There is no body of doctrine or coherent first-hand description (as in Epicureanism or Stoicism). Such an assumption therefore wholly lacks warrant. Crossan’s and Mack’s comparisons with Cynics are useful in that they aid us in understanding better the social context in which Jesus would have been viewed by his contemporaries. Mack. Crossan. a Strack-Billerbeck-like compilation of “parallels.” Cynics did not oppose their respective cultures and establishments.” Crossan and company find several points of contact that lead them to conclude that Jesus was a Jewish Cynic.   25 tionship to Judaism of late antiquity and with issues of concern to many of his fellow Jews. The major problem with Crossan’s and Mack’s proposal is that we are not too sure what really was the true Cynic. Discourses 3. and others assume that Cynics lived in most major cities in the time of Jesus. In fact. Picking and choosing. was quite distinctive from the opposition expressed by Cynics. Cynics poured contempt on society and what they regarded as its vanity and futility. Epictetus. They were the vandals and anarchists of late antiquity. for example.

34 On this general point. the two largest urban centers in Galilee. exorcistic. Mack and especially Crossan assume that Jesus would have come under the influence of a Cynic or Cynics encountered in Sepphoris. Tuckett. However. influenced by Cynics in Sepphoris. 1996). idem. Betz. how do we account for this omission?35 No. see Aune. “Jesus and Cynics in First-Century Palestine. Again. D.34 In contrast. “Jesus and the Cynics: Survey and Analysis of a Hypothesis. Q and the History of Early Christianity: Studies on Q (Edinbugh: T.” the dictional and thematic coherence of his teaching with the Aramaic paraphrases of Scripture emerging in the Synagogue. If Jesus were truly a Cynic. his frequently being called “rabbi. B. “How Jewish Was Sepphoris in Jesus’ Time?” 35 For recent. 3. the beggar’s pouch. The restorative nature of his message (“The kingdom of God is present”) and his healing.” Bib 70 (1989) 349–76. & T. rabbis. C.” 176–92. and socializing ministry stand sharply in tension with the Cynic fatalism and proclivity for estrangement from society. Jesus’ instructions to his disciples actually stand in tension with the features by which Cynics are best known (the staff. 1994) 123–43. Clark. Witherington. his debates with religious teachers regarding the meaning and application of Scripture. there is both literary and archaeological evidence of the presence in this city of synagogues. but it obfuscates much. But Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God.” JR 74 (1994) 453–75. Mack and company assume that Cynics were present in Sepphoris. M. “A Cynic Q?. Moreover. A. His findings are generally consistent with the picture of Jesus argued in the present volume. his pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover. Horsley. 4. and the worn coat). H. see the popular summary by Chancey and Meyers. Archaeology. the Cynic model clarifies nothing. see R. there is no record that during his ministry Jesus ever visited Sepphoris or Tiberias. Jesus the Sage: The Pilgrimage of Wisdom (Minneapolis: Fortress.26  . and Torah-observant Jews. .  2. there is no archaeological or literary evidence of the presence of any Cynics in first-century Galilee. Jesus is best understood as a religious Jew engaged in debating topics of great interest to many Jews. who lived in Judea as well as in Galilee. 1996) 368–91. a city near Nazareth. devastating critiques of the Cynic hypothesis. especially as exemplified in the wisdom of Yeshua ben Sira. and Society in Galilee: The Social Context of Jesus and the Rabbis (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International. History. and his teaching in the Temple all militate against this view. in which Jesus and members of his family probably worked. Witherington finds the teaching of Jesus right at home with the Jewish wisdom tradition of late antiquity.

This expectation was worked out in his proclamation of the kingdom of God and the works of power by which Jesus and his supporters perceived tangible evidence of the presence of the kingdom.   27 Jesus emphasized Torah.38 Let me illustrate this point. 37 B. 38 See the useful caveats offered by S. “Parallelomania. “to repeat”).” 36 For a succinct summary of the several and important parallels. one must place him in context. He thought and taught in a framework of purity and Jewish piety (including folk wisdom) and looked for the restoration of Israel. the programmatic emphasis on teaching and healing. Sandmel. Leiden: Brill. Obviously parallels can be slippery things. indeed grounded his theology and lifestyle in it. 1964) esp. In all of those aspects. practices. his aims. like statistics they can be made to prove many things. The Pharisees and the Teacher of Nazareth (AGSJU 4. But before one can begin to assess his teaching. Jesus’ activity seems broadly similar to what might have been expected of a rabbi. Most of the passages that present Jesus in dispute with the Pharisaic. . and priestly contemporaries are also in line with some of the vigorous arguments one encounters in Rabbinic literature. 129–75. scribal. Jesus’ so-called “Golden Rule. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) 106–7. At numerous points Jesus’ teachings. the development of characteristic themes in his teaching (such as “the kingdom of God”).37 This is not to say that Jesus was a rabbi and nothing else. Chilton. and his self-understanding. Finkel. and observances closely parallel those of the religious teachers of his day.” JBL 81 (1962) 2–13. Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God (London: SPCK. see A.36 Chilton has summarized well the general evidence that recommends comparison of Jesus with the rabbis of his period: Much of what Jesus is remembered to have done and said comports well with rabbinic activity: the concern for purity and ablutions (a concern that included the practice of baptism). the gathering of disciples for whom that teaching was presented in a repeatable form or mishnah (a noun that derives from the verb shanah. Jesus in His Judaic Context The placement of Jesus in his proper Judaic context entails the study of parallels just as surely as the misplacement of Jesus into a Cynic context involves comparisons with parallels.

D. The negative form is amply attested in materials dating from the time of Jesus and after: And what you hate. As you wish that no evil should befall you. but to be a partaker of all good things. . that is the whole Torah. Allison and W. Go learn” (b. italicized portion indicates where the Aramaic departs from the Hebrew). loving humanity and bringing them to the Law” ("Abot 1:12). in that it “required an absolute demonstration of love. we probably should not. Ev. 31a). A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew.39 Does such a parallel offer compelling evidence that places Jesus in a Judaic. The negative form was also known to Christians. do not do to anyone (Tob 4:15). though some Christian commentators sometimes give that impression. 1 (ICC. apud Eusebius. 40 As aptly put by D. so you should act on the same principle towards your subjects and offenders (Ep. Ps.”40 In contrast. do not 39 Another saying attributed to Hillel could be pertinent: “Be of the disciples of Aaron. the negative form of the Golden Rule. Edinburgh: T. Naph. Hypothetica. None should do to his neighbor what he does not like for himself (Hebrew version of T. & T.  which runs: “Do to others as you would have them do to you. You shall love your neighbor.6). vol. An earlier form is attested in the advice of Yeshua ben Sira: “Judge your neighbor’s feelings by your own. Clark. Let no man himself do what he hates to have done to him (Philo. Shab. C. is often compared to a similar saying attributed to Hillel: “Do not do to your neighbor what is hateful to you. 8. it is alleged. as seen in Did. for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12). 1:6). you shall not do (Tg. if not original. points to a higher ethic. loving peace and pursuing peace. Arist. Praep. and in every matter be thoughtful” (Sir 31:15). while the rest is its commentary. 1:2 (“And everything that you desire not to be done to you.28  .-J. perhaps even rabbinic context? Jesus’ positive form of the Golden Rule is not original. 207). Lev 19:18. Commentators have sometimes remarked that Jesus’ positive form of the Golden Rule.7. reflects a less generous spirit. May we infer from these examples that Jesus’ positive form of the rule represented a higher ethic? No. so that what is hateful to you. Davies. 1988) 687.

” in Chilton. keep your hearts from every injustice which the Lord hates.   29 yourself do to others”) and Thomas §6 (“And what you hate.34. my children. the positive form of the rule is attested in Jewish sources: partially in the Epistle of Aristeas. such as Sextus: “As you wish your neighbors to treat you. for the double commandment tradition is attested in Jewish sources (see discussion below). thought that the positive form was superior to the negative. so let him do to every living soul” (61:1–2).3–4). Do the many parallels with Jewish sources compel us to place Jesus in a Jewish context? No. Atlanta: Scholars Press. imply that Jesus’ form of the rule is Stoic or Cynic. 1994) 123–49. so treat them” (Sentences 89). Hillel’s negative form of the golden rule stands closer to Seneca’s negative form. The case of the Thomaean Golden Rule.” But he goes on to suggest that it was originally uttered in contexts different from those supplied in Matthew/Luke and in Thomas. however. Judaic Approaches to the Gospels (USF International Studies in Formative Christianity and Judaism 2. and fully in the later 2 Enoch: “And now. But even here we do not have tradition that is distinctive of Jesus. Rough correspondence with Seneca’s saying does not. given the fact that Jesus cites this passage as the second of the two great commandments (Mark 12:28–31). 42 Chilton ( Judaic Approaches to the Gospels. see B. “ ‘Do not do what you hate’: Where there is not gold.5). and Isocrates (Ad Nicocleam 49). In sum. Moreover. Dio Cassius (51. One thinks of the saying attributed to Seneca: “Take care not to harm others. cited above.42 but it does not place Jesus into 41 For discussion of the negative form of the rule in Thomas. 142) plausibly concludes that “Jesus taught the Rule. in its positive form. there might be brass. This fact may enhance its claim to authenticity (in that one might expect a non-dominical topos that entered the dominical stream to conform to the common format). Chilton. who were familiar with both forms of the rule. The positive form of the rule is also attested in other non-Jewish writers. not really. What we probably have here is further indication that Jesus’ ethic was fully in step with views widely held by his Jewish contemporaries.39). so others will not harm you” (Moral Epistles 103. Just as a man asks for his own soul from God. The link between the Golden Rule and the command to love one another in the Aramaic version of Lev 19:18 is intriguing. do not do to anyone” = POxy 654. Indeed. Jesus’ positive form of the Golden Rule is somewhat distinctive.41 There is no evidence that the patristic writers. which was generally acknowledged within his culture. . in that the negative form appears to have been more common.

but it is not determinative.  a Judaic context more firmly. John 5:9–17. Space permits discussion of only three examples. . (1) The Sabbath. motivated by a desire to elevate Jesus above Judaism Christian interpreters have through the centuries made some odd assertions about Jesus’ opposition to or transcendance of the Law. We learn little of Jesus’ program. One should think that Jesus’ respect for Torah is plainly evident in the Gospels. to be sure. which is thought to be a requirement for christology. One facet of Jesus’ teaching and ministry that provoked controversy concerned his understanding of the sabbath. 9:14–16) and 43 These findings are consistent with those articulated by Chilton. This passage and the other passages that will be examined provide weighty evidence that Jesus fully respected Torah. But our approach to the study of Jesus is not driven by a quest for uniqueness or originality. is a very Jewish and very rabbinic thing to do. even if he sometimes differed from some of his contemporaries in its interpretation. But once again. But again. Critical study of the dominical tradition reveals no such tendency. The facts that this controversy is early and widespread in the tradition (Mark 3:1–6. 7:22–24. The remainder of this paper treats three examples of Jesus’ interaction with Jewish law. Perhaps even more revealing is his reply to the Scripture scholar who asked what he must do “to inherit eternal life” (Luke 10:25). and nothing that would mark him off from his Jewish contemporaries or from his non-Jewish contemporaries for that matter. perhaps even a measure of originality. The parallel is interesting. Jesus’ quotation of the Shema' (Deut 6:4–5) and the injunction to love one’s neighbor as one’s self (Lev 19:18) as the “greatest commandment” (cf. To dispute the meaning of the Scripture.30  .43 There are other parallels and common points of interest that tell us much more significant things about Jesus. Luke 14:1–6. Mark 10:28–34) attests Jesus’ loyalty to the Torah and his presupposition that it is normative. important points of overlap with expressions of Judaism in Jesus’ time are overlooked or treated only in passing. of course. because Christians have tended to emphasize christology and exaggerate uniqueness. All three illustrate well Jesus’ adherence to cardinal principles of Jewish faith in late antiquity. At a few points we may catch glimpses of distinctive features.

cf. The Historical Jesus: A Sheffield Reader (BibSem 33. Yoma 85a. cf. Leuven: Peeters and Leuven University Press. The actions of Jesus and his disciples. on the other. b. Neirynck.1. but work on the sabbath was not (cf. “so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath” (v. Menah. which was only to be eaten by the High Priest and his associates (1 Sam 21:1–6.46 44 There are many who defend the authenticity of Mark 2:23–27. Saving life on the sabbath was not controversial (b. a practice that is forbidden by law. 46 The concluding statement. 1995) 131–39.44 The story related in Mark 2:23–28 is particularly striking. m. “Jesus and the Sabbath: Some Observations on Mark II. Freiburg: Herder. Lev 24:5–9). cf. His conclusion is vitiated to some extent. 95a: “even that which has been sanctified this day in the vessel you may give him to eat for he is in danger of his life”).   31 would have have proven awkward for the early church which was predominantly Jewish recommend its authenticity. however. see Mark 7:19. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. who in their hour of need ate the bread of the Presence. A. “An Analysis of Jesus’ Arguments Concerning the Plucking of Grain on the Sabbath.). but whether or not Jesus’ line of argument is truly compelling is much debated. 138). is an editorial comment added by the evangelist in an attempt to steer the story in a christological direction. on the one hand. the story is based “on concrete tradition from the life of Jesus. The plucking of grain from fields not one’s own was permitted (cf. repr. but performing work on the sabbath where life was not in danger was regarded as unlawful.45 The interesting point is the principle that Jesus enunciates: TÚ sãbbaton diå tÚn ênyrvpon §g°neto ka‹ oÈx ı êny rvpow diå tÚ sãbbaton.” in Neirynck. cf. 1982) 637–80. not humanity for the sabbath (v. Exod 20:10. E. in C. 1. Deut 23:25). Evans and S. Cohn-Sherbok concludes that Jesus’ arguments were “invalid from a rabbinic point of view” (p. Pharisees demand to know of Jesus why his disciples pluck grain on the sabbath. 7:2). Cohn-Sherbok.” Not all of the reasoning in support of the authenticity of the story is valid (especially that emanating from Bultmann and his pupils).” JSNT 2 (1979) 31–41. in that it assumes that later rabbinic methods and rules of exegesis probably were in practice in the early first century. are roughly parallel. The sabbath was made for humanity. 1977) 183. F. Deut 5:14. 28). R. Pesch. For another editorial comment of this nature. Teil (HTKNT 2. see D. 27. 27). Shab. . Porter (eds. Jesus replies by way of appeal to the action of David and his men. a point that Neirynck considers. 133) and “fallacious because the comparison he drew was inappropriate” (p. Pesch avers that rather than a fictive “ideal scene” reflecting the behvaior of the early church. Evangelica: Gospel Studis—Études d’évangile (BETL 60. 45 For example. Das Markusevangelium. and of David and his companions. M.

Rabbi Sime'on ben Menasia" is then cited as having quoted Exod 31:14 in this connection. or in eating the flesh of any living thing. 1986). “Rabbinic Aids to Exegesis. 49 Downing. Sigal. especially the late Rabbi Philip Sigal. probably pre-dates Jesus. 48 Abrahams. The Halakah of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Matthew (Lanham and New York: University Press of America. “Rabbinic Aids to Exegesis. but was passed on anonymously and eventually was attributed to Sime'on ben Menasia" (and later still to Rabbi Jonathan ben Joseph). if not the saying itself. on Exod 31:12–17 [Shabbat §1]). B. 1 Macc 2:39).” 186–87.  A few Jewish scholars have been impressed with this statement. then surely the sabbath law can be suspended to save a life. As a possible parallel to the reference to David’s eating the bread of the Presence. 1909) 159–92. See also G. here 186. In b. possibly deriving from Mattathias’ decision to defend oneself on the sabbath (cf. who thought it acceptable to eat meat .49 Does the saying of Jesus constitute an example 47 I. but in Yoma Rabbi Sime'on ben Menasia"s saying is attributed to Rabbi Jonathan ben Joseph: “It is given over to your hands. Swete (ed. But the same would have been said of Paul. Christ and the Cynics. for it is holy to you” [Exod 31:14]: This means: to you the sabbath is given over [hrwsm]. Yoma 85b there is discussion concerning the requirement to circumcise on the eighth day.73: “Diogenes saw nothing wrong in taking anything from a temple. Downing cites Lives of Eminent Philosophers 6. you are not given over to its hands. Mekilta credits the saying to Rabbi Sime'on ben Menasia" (usually dated to the late second century CE). From this it is inferred that if the sabbath law can be suspended on account of one member of the body. 125. even if that day fall on the sabbath.” This parallels Jesus’ point in a general sense. Vermes. Abrahams.-Crates 24). P. Sigal’s work is hampered somewhat by his assumption of Matthean priority. Perhaps. but horses for humans” (Ps. but the tradition. 1993) 22–24.).32  .” in H.48 Does Jesus’ saying imply that he has less respect for the sabbath than his rival religious teachers have? Downing cites a saying from Pseudo-Crates: “Humans were not created for the sake of horses.47 Sigal draws our attention to the parallel in the Mekilta: “And you shall keep the sabbath. you are not given over [ ˆyrwsm] to the sabbath (Mek.” Sigal thinks the tradition originated in Jesus. Essays on Some Biblical Questions of the Day: By Members of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. to show that Jesus’ view parallels Cynic ideas. The Religion of Jesus the Jew (Minneapolis: Fortress.

Moreover.50 while the evident allegiance to the Temple makes it difficult to believe that this saying arose in the Church in a post-Easter setting (though some commentators so argue). and texts cited in Billerbeck. be reconciled to your brother” (Matt 5:23–24). non-Jewish perspective? Or is it an opinion that directly reflects Jewish halakic discussion of a topic that goes straight to the heart of Jewish custom and piety? In my view.. The Synoptic Gospels (2 vols. Amos 5:21–24. which for his followers was persuasive. a spurning of the value of the sabbath. like others in the dominical tradition. .” (De Vita Mosis sacrificed to idols. 3:7.287–88). Montefiore. 1. Cohn-Sherbok’s views notwithstanding. U. leave your gift at the altar and go. if you remember “that your brother has something against you. The saying presupposes that the Temple in Jerusalem still stands. the appeal to Scripture (i. Hos 6:6. reflecting a Hellenistic. as long as it was done with a clear conscience (1 Corinthians 8. the sacrifice stands firm .61: “The verses in any case imply that the Jewish state and Temple are still in working order.   33 of Cynicism. Placed in the context of the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ recommendation.e. But. What we have here is an instance of the halakah of Jesus.. Mic 6:6–8). Indeed. In all probability the saying goes back to Jesus. 1989) 281. This saying. so did the sage Yeshua ben Sira (Sir 7:8–9. Bultmann. 10). There is nothing new here. . 1927) 2. G. Although Matt 5:23–24 probably does derive from Jesus. the appeal to one passage of Scripture to shed light on teaching elsewhere in Scripture is part and parcel of Jewish interpretation. . In my opinion. though probably not for others. Does this make Paul a Cynic? 50 According to C. it owes its current context to the Matthean evangelist. the prophets took this view ( Jer 7:21–26. as well as later rabbinic authorities (m. The History of the Synoptic Tradition (Oxford: Blackwell. “Have you never read what David did?”) can hardly be cited as evidence that Jesus held to a low view of the Law. (2) The Altar. Luz. if he is pure of heart and just. the consecrated oblation is desecrated . Philo also says as much: “For. London: Macmillan. 34:18–19). Pesah. . The teaching is again perfectly Rabbinic and usual. if the worshipper is without kindly feeling or justice. Jesus’ teaching in no wise was meant to undermine the sanctity of the sabbath. Far from it. the sacrifices are no sacrifices. Jesus’ exegetical riposte is right at home in the exegetical debates exemplified in rabbinic literature.” So also R. Matthew 1–7 (Minneapolis: Fortress. . 1968) 132. subordinates cultic ritual to personal integrity.

B. 1990) 42–43. one should not stir the blood [of the offering] until he restores the thing that he had stolen” (t. Jesus’ teaching in Matt 5:23–24 is consistent with the teaching of the sages. and in the act of so doing remembers that he has not yet made amends for a wrong committed by him against another man. 192). [If ] he brought his guilt offering but did not restore the thing which he had stolen. . presumably for the very wrong which has been the reason for bringing the offering at all. for the Lord is the judge. 289) does not think so.107–108). to whose voice will the Lord listen?” (Sir 34:24. P. which have to do with making restitution. Rabbinic teaching underscores the necessity for restitution to take place fully and prior to offering the guilt offering: “the guilt offering comes after the money [is restored] . Yoma 8:9. The Law requires that what has been wrongfully taken be returned and that a guilt offering be taken to the priest. relates Matt 5:23–24 to these texts. Abrahams comments: “Matthew is specifically referring to one who has to bring a sin-offering.34  .18. not in the texts that speak of the interruption of guilt offerings. for he will not accept it. the context has to do with offering sacrifice. idem.” 189.”52 The parallel between Matt 5:23–24 and the halakah in the Tosefta. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International.”53 Jesus’ concern that one’s offering be presented to the Temple in a state of ethical purity is consistent with his action in the Temple 51 See E. 35:1–20). 6:1–6). Qam. §68 [on Lev 5:25]. however. According to Yeshua ben Sira: “When one prays and another curses. 34:18–22.  2. Luz finds the closest parallel in Sirach and m. Sanders ( Judaism. Sanders. According to Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah: “For transgressions that are between man and God the Day of Atonement effects atonement. B. cf. 53 Luz (Matthew 1–7. Sipra Lev. cf. . Qam. “is exact. and do not trust to an unrighteous sacrifice. Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah: Five Studies (London: SCM. Judaism: Practice and Belief 63 BCE–66 CE (London: SCM. Jesus’ teaching in Matt 5:23–24 also coheres with the commandments found in Lev 5:20–26 (Engl. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International. b. but for transgressions that are between a man his fellow the Day of Atonement effects atonement only if he has appeased his fellow” (m. “Rabbinic Aids to Exegesis.51 Thus both the antiquity and currency of this sentiment are attested. 110a). avers Abrahams. 1992) 192–93. Yoma 8:9). 10. and with him is no partiality” (Sir 35:12). 52 Abrahams. and: “Do not offer (God) a bribe. .

and with all your strength. 55 See D. According to Luke 10:25–28 an expert in the Law asks Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds with questions of his own: What is written in the Law. “Jesus’ Citation of Dt 6. Christians proclaimed that salvation came through faith in the risen Jesus (e. and your neighbor as yourself.18 in the Light of Jewish Tradition. Philo. Recent study has suggested that this action was in reaction to the manner in which sacrificial animals were purchased and presented to the priests for sacrifice. Acts 2:38.   35 precincts (Mark 11:15–18 and parallels). and with all your soul. Evans and W. “Mark 12. Ep. his action suggests rather that he supported the cultus and was very much concerned with the pragmata of sacrifice. a manner with which Jesus sharply disagreed. B.63. and you will live. 229. C. 91–111.g. see Chilton. 5:2.). prompted by Jesus’ question. do this.55 Jesus’ positive response.” Jesus commends the man for his answer: “You have answered right. Pure Kingdom. The Gospels and the Scriptures of Israel ( JSNTSup 104. a commandment which Jesus also is said to have recited (Mark 12:29–31): “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” CBQ 28 (1966) 312–16. 7:6. A.” in C. could not possibly be more thoroughly Jewish and more thoroughly unCynic. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. Iss. His answer. Far from suggesting that Jesus opposed the Temple or opposed sacrifice. 4:12. Allison.. Spec. On the basis of similar demonstrations in the Temple precincts by religious teachers (especially the one involving a dispute between Hillelite and Shammaite halakah) we may infer that Jesus taught that those who purchase animals for sacrifice take ownership of them before surrendering them to the priests.28–31 and the Decalogue. The Temple of Jesus. 54 .5 and Lv 19. After all. surely the right answer would have been different. reflects a summary of the Law that is attested in various forms in many sources (cf. T. R. Stern. Virt. and how does he read it? The Scripture scholar responds by reciting the double commandment. 1994) 270–78. Arist. Dan 5:3. and with all your mind. 2. idem. Abr. SSEJC 3. 95.” The Scripture scholar’s question constitutes the classic Jewish religious question (see also Mark 10:17). Leg. 51. not through obedience to the Jewish For a full discussion of this important aspect of Jesus’ teaching. 115–23. See also J.54 (3) Eternal Life. in which he alludes to Lev 18:5. Had this exchange been produced by a Christian community. T. 208). Rom 10:9). Stegner (eds.

‘I the Lord’: faithful to pay a reward. Fitzmyer (The Gospel according to Luke X–XXIV [AB 28A. .36  .56 What is especially interesting is to notice how closely Jesus’ response coheres exegetically and thematically with Jewish interpretive tendencies. . if a person practices them. if a person practices them..  Law. 13. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. “do this. §193 (on Lev 18:1–30): “ ‘You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances. . 58:11). Israel). According to Tg. See J. Garden City: Doubleday. . 1985] 877–78) ascribes Luke 10:25–28 to L. which. not life in this world? The Aramaic paraphrase of this text in all probability provides an answer. Luke 10:25–28 must therefore derive from the life and ministry of Jesus.” The general context of this passage makes it clear that the life “which a person shall live” is life in the promised land (i. which. “he shall live by them in eternal life. And should you wish to claim that the reference is to this world. not from the Christian community.” alludes to Lev 18:5: “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my ordinances.” not life in the land of Israel. and you will live. he shall live by them in eternal life. which a human will do and he shall live in them.”57 The antiquity of this interpretive paraphrase. though the evangelist may have been influenced by Mark 12. whereby the text is made to speak of eternal life as well 56 But this does not exclude the possibility that the tradition has been edited and linked to the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29–37).’ This formulation of the matter serves to make keeping and doing into statutes. Lev 18:5: “You should observe My ordinances and My laws. not eternal life in the world to come. . 57 This exegesis is explicit in Sipra Lev.” occurs three times in the Ezekiel Targum (at 20:11. by doing which a person shall live. As has already been mentioned. 21).” Targum Pseudo-Jonathan renders the text a bit more elaborately: “You should observe My ordinances and My orders (of festivals). his response. ‘. How is it that Jesus thinks an allusion to Lev 18:5 provides a suitable assurance to a man who has asked about eternal life. Jeremias. how am I to explain. Traces of Lukan redaction have been detected at points of introduction. Die Sprache des Lukasevangeliums: Redaktion und Tradition im Nicht-Markusstoff des dritten Evangeliums (KEKNT Sonderband. Recall that the Scripture scholar had asked Jesus what he must do “inherit eternal life. shall live’? It is with reference to the world to come.” The key phrase. Onq. which he already enjoyed. ‘. shall live’—in the world to come. and conclusion in the complex that makes up Luke 10:25–37. transition. 1980) 190–93. and keeping and doing into ordinances.e. is not the fact that in the end one dies? Lo. while the transformation of prophetic promises of well being and restoration in this life is also attested in the Isaiah Targum (at 4:3. he shall live by them in eternal life and shall be assigned a portion with the righteous.

His righteous laws. The Jewish faith was expressed in thought and practice in a variety of ways. Jesus’ halakah is surely designed to ensure their efficacy. Although I do not think it necessary to speak of “Judaisms” or “Christianities. With respect to the second example. But the three considered above should be sufficient to demonstrate that Jesus’ teaching arose from and spoke to the Jewish faith of his day. In the third example we find Jesus recommending observance of the Law. His reliable ways. . nor his fantasy of the final appearance of the man of glory.’ . The church canonized a remarkably pitiful moment of early Christian condemnation of the world. It is enough.” 59 When I say the “Jewish faith” I do not intend to imply that Judaism was monolithic. especially as it is summed up in the great double-commandment to love God with one’s entirety and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.   37 as life in the present world. “which a person should do and so have life in them. . The desires of His will. Thus the world now stands condemned. Christian or otherwise: “Neither Mark’s fiction of the first appearance of the man of power. ‘which a person should do and so have life in them. The lapsed Nazarene evangelist has given up his Christian faith and no longer holds out hope for any messiah. Many others could be discussed. in order to be assured of eternal life. revealing to them hidden things.59 The first dealt not simply with what was lawful on the sabbath. in which all Israel had erred: His holy Sabbaths. Indeed. fit the wisdom now required. . but with the more fundamental question of the sabbath’s purpose. those who hold firm to it shall receive everlasting life and all the glory of Adam will be theirs. Jesus’ insistence that the ethical requirements of restitution be attended to before one’s offering is completed presupposes the importance of the Temple and sacrificial system.” at Qumran does indeed allude to Lev 18:5. 20: “But when those of them who were left held firm to the commandments of God he established His covenant with Israel for ever. Concluding Thoughts Mack’s A Myth of Innocence ends on a note of personal tragedy and tortured logic. A future 58 According to CD 3:12–16. These three examples are representative only.58 The Aramaic paraphrase makes it clear that the phrase. is attested at Qumran. His glorious festivals.” it is important to recognize the diversity and pluralism of Jewish and Christian faith in late antiquity.

. These words constitute an unmistakable allusion to the Emperor Cult. We hear this idea expressed in a papyrus in reference to Nero (reigned 54–68 CE): “The good god of the inhabited world. parts of which read: “Providence . . that he might benefit humanity. it commenced with the arrival of the Christ. . lines 32–41). if its redemption rests in the hands of Mark’s innocent son of God. but not in a mean-spirited manner in which he attempts to implicate the innocent and exculpate the guilty. it is Jesus Christ. Mark’s Jesus is Jewish. 376. but Jewish nonetheless. the son of God” (Mark 1:1). A Myth of Innocence. Let’s hear from the evangelist Mark.”60 Mack’s interpretation of Mark is strange indeed. The good news for the world did not commence with the arrival of Caesar and his dubious heirs (herein lies the real myth). Mark’s story of Jesus ends on a Roman cross. and by his appearance (excelled all our expectations) . Apart from the Jewish context. especially as it came to expression during the lengthy and celebrated reign of Augustus (30 BCE–14 CE). to be sure. . . the Palestinian 60 Mack. According to the inscription from Priene (9 BCE). In the face of a hostile world—drifting from his Jewish roots and threatened by an increasingly intolerant and hostile Roman Empire—the Markan evangelist boldly declares that the true “son of God” is not Caesar. and even the two rebels crucified with him. We have heard enough from the evangelist Mack. The evangelist Mark puts the story in its best light. amidst the mockery of ruling priests. the beginning of all good things” (POxy 1021). passersby. . very briefly. having been sent as savior . Permit me to offer one in its place. But impressed with the manner in which Jesus died and the preternatural signs that accompanied his death. The evangelist makes his view quite clear in the opening words: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ. . the Roman centurion overseeing the execution makes a declaration that should be reserved for the emperor alone: “Surely this man was the son of God!” (Mark 15:39). Despite such an auspicious introduction. perhaps not as obviously as in the Matthean portrait (whose hostility toward Jewish teachers and rival sects is much more pronounced).  for the world can hardly be imagined any longer. . . has given us Augustus .38  . the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good news for the world” (OGIS 458.

Mark’s Jesus remains a Jewish Jesus. Indeed.   39 context. . the story as we find it could not have been written. and the Scriptures of Israel and their interpretive legacy the story of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark could hardly be properly and adequately understood. The Jesus of Mark and the other Gospels must be interpreted in his Judaic context if he is to be fairly and sensibly understood. Burton Mack and the Jesus Seminar notwithstanding.

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McCollough (eds. A. and Society in Galilee: The Social Context of Jesus and the Rabbis (Valley Forge. 3 D. The material side of his analysis is pushed forward in a recent collection of studies.).1 The critical question. Edwards and C. notably in combination with anthropological analysis. Evans and I have both been influenced by the sensitive correlation of literary and archaeological study offered by Seán Freyne. Atlanta: Scholars Press. has laid much more emphasis on the distinctive culture of Jewish Galilee than was the case a decade ago. T. Hellenistic character was imputed to the entire region. Archaeology.). distinct variations on his approach. especially in North America.3 The usage of artifacts to map cultural variegation and trace the self-conscious identity of Judaism in Galilee is as striking in this volume as the careful work in the field that went into it. 1996). D. . 1994) 75–121. 1991). Horsley. Pa. Archaeology and the Galilee: Texts and Contexts in the Graeco-Roman and Byzantine Periods (South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism 143. “The Geography. History. which emerges from the orientation suggested by Crossan and adopted by Burton Mack. which is also critical of the work of John Dominic Crossan.: Trinity Press International. when a more homogenized.MAPPING A PLACE FOR JESUS Bruce Chilton Craig Evans’s paper boldly locates the context of our conference within the contemporary discussion of Jesus.” in B. Chilton and C. Archaeological work. Politics. Leiden: Brill. the fact remains that he did allow for the distinctive identity of Jews there in his The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: HarperCollins.” That is a more sophisticated issue than archaeological constructions as such are normally expected to resolve. Evans (eds. Yet while Crossan’s social model of Galilee now indeed seems to need revision. R. 2 Seán Freyne. and Economics of Galilee and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. is whether the model of a Galilean peasant and rabbi may be subsumed with the paradigm of a “Cynic. has since been confirmed by two. and the direction in which his findings pointed. Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (NTTS 19.2 whose approach. 1997). The more exegetical side of the approach advocated by Freyne (and 1 See Richard A.

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Horsley, in his own way) is developed within the “cognitive archaeology” practiced by Marianne Sawicki.4 Although some of her suggestions are deliberately daring (and her recourse to the Mishnah perhaps too confident, given the problem of chronology), her coordination of artifactual and exegetical speculation is productive. It is only to be expected that a combination of sifting data and engaging in speculative inference will further re-mould our picture of Galilee’s cultures as research is pursued, but it is not too soon to say that the attempt to characterize the entire region on the basis of Sepphoris alone is no longer viable, even if it once seemed so. Although that correction of the entire paradigm of “The Jesus Seminar” is as crucial as Evans says, the way in which their discussions opened up the issue of the social construction of Jesus’ environment has proven to be seminal. The reluctance to use the category of “rabbi” in order to assess Jesus is to some extent understandable. That term can and has been used anachronistically, to impute the organized Rabbinate of the Talmud to the first century. In principle, however, that anachronism should be dealt with just as we cope with such terms as “messiah” (or “christ”) and “son of God.” It is a commonplace of scholarship to alert readers to the fact that “messiah” during the first century did not bear the apologetic associations that developed quickly in early Christianity, and that “son of God” did not convey the ontological claims of the Council of Nicea. Both of those corrections involve more global adjustments than calling attention to the welldocumented, historical structures which attended the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism. Could it be that scholarly aversion to the term “rabbi” shows that it has become a metonym for Jesus’ Judaism, not only as a happenstance of birth and nurture, but as his own commitment? The relative neglect of the actual usage of the term in the Gospels might suggest that is the case. John the Baptist is explicitly called “rabbi” in John 3:26, and Jesus is addressed that way more than by any other designation (Matt 26:25, 49; Mark 9:5; 10:51; 11:21; 14:45; John 1:38, 49; 3:2; 4:31; 6:25; 9:2; 11:8). Despite those facts, it is routinely objected by scholars that Jesus “was not a ‘rabbi,’” but “a prophet (eschatological or

4 Marianne Sawicki, Crossing Galilee: Architectures of Contact in the Occupied Land of Jesus (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 2000).

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otherwise).”5 The Gospels suggest that, as he became known for his signs (Matt 16:14; Mark 6:15; Luke 7:16; 9:8, 19; John 4:19; 6:14; 7:40; 9:17) and approached Jerusalem for the last time in his life (Matt 21:11, 46; Luke 24:19), Jesus was indeed called a prophet, but not as persistently or routinely as he was called rabbi. In any case, the one address by no means excludes the other. That the term “rabbi” was current in Jesus’ time is suggested by Dan 2:48; 4:6; 5:11 and m. "Abot 1:6, 16, as well as from inscriptions.6 Bernas is definitely right to raise the issue, but only because being called “rabbi” did not involve an institutional qualification until a much later period, well after the destruction of the Temple.7 When Crossan and others compare Jesus to the popular philosophers of the Mediterranean world, especially the Cynics, their comparison may be helpful in general terms, although it seems clear that a Jewish teacher whose wisdom was valued would be called “rabbi.” Purity has emerged in recent scholarship as an issue Jesus engaged in, rather than a systemic aspect of Judaism that he simply rejected. In her excellent study, which firmly grounds baptism in the practice of purity, Joan E. Taylor sets the groundwork for a critical understanding of immersion, John the Baptist, and therefore Jesus.8 Her work represents an advance of the approach I had pursued more exegetically and theoretically.9 Building upon such studies, Jesus’ focus on purity is a major theme in a recent book by Paula Fredricksen.10 In an influential study, E. P. Sanders had argued that Jesus dropped the requirement of repentance from John’s practice altogether.11 I

So Casimir Bernas in TS 46 (1985) 129–30. For those, see J. P. Kane, “Ossuary Inscriptions of Jerusalem,” JSS 23 (1978) 268–82. 7 Indeed, long after the destruction of Jerusalem “rabbi” was still used as a general title of honor for an important community figure; cf. M. Schwabe and B. Lifshitz, Beth She'arim (2 vols., New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1974). Many of these inscriptions are 3rd/4th century. 8 Joan E. Taylor, The Immerser: John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism (Studying the Historical Jesus 2; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997). 9 That is, in my The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program Within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992). On the argument over purity between John and Jesus and its outcome, see Chilton, Jesus’ Baptism and Jesus’ Healing: His Personal Practice of Spirituality (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1998). 10 Paula Fredricksen, Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Knopf, 1999). 11 See E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (London: SCM; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985).
6

5

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have disagreed with him, because the persistent reference to repentance by Jesus is manifest in the Gospels and early Christian literature.12 But Sanders put scholarship on the right track, by urging us to identify the evident difference between John and Jesus. Purification, in the light of more recent research, seems to have been the crucial issue. By taking due account of critical discussion, developments in our approach to assessing evidence and evolving hermeneutical strategies, and evidence which has been recently uncovered or neglected by the fashions of our times, Craig Evans has invited us to find a place for Jesus. That place is not created in the shadow cast by the post-modern delight in revisionist readings of ancient sources, nor is it defined within the various enclosures fenced in by the requirements of apologetic theologies in their many forms. The Jesus that has been missing is the figure within the culture of Galilean Judaism, recoverable only by inference, who gave rise to the movement or movements that our sources attest in all their diversity. Because that it is a place of study, rather than a specific program or agenda of research, those of us engaged in locating Jesus and mapping his influence will need, for the foreseeable future, to be involved with the social construction of both the influences that shaped him and the practices and beliefs which he generated.

12

See my “Jesus and the Repentance of E. P. Sanders,” TynBul 39 (1988) 1–18.

not religion. Theory of the Academic as against the Theological Study of Religion Context determines the character of comparison. we undertake a different task from the one undertaken when in synagogue or church people study Judaism or Christianity. That principle forms a corollary of the still more encompassing one: no theoretical work on any aspect of the study of religions must commence without the formulation of the context in which study is undertaken. And that difference also shapes the way in which we compare the one religion with the other. the labor requires learning facts in the service of the faith: intensive knowledge of that one thing only. The specific religions define the boundaries of knowledge in their own regard. and enormous erudition about some few things comes about. shaped as it is by the heritage of the Enlightenment. when we study Judaism or Christianity in the context of the academic study of religion. prior to our own generation (and in our own day as well). most of what people learn concerns religions’ theology. Theological versus Academic Study of Religion Religions study themselves as part of their on-going work of exegesis and renewal. we seek in any subject we take up to learn more about humanity. under the auspices of the faith. Facts bear their own meaning in religious context and theological perspective. II. viewed whole. Our concern is therefore not only the various . That is why. What we want to know is of self-evident.CONTEXTS OF COMPARISON: RECIPROCALLY READING GOSPELS’ AND RABBIS’ PARABLES Jacob Neusner I. Concretely. But in the academy. Christianity—marks the starting point. There. That is because the worth of that one thing that is studied—Judaism. Most of the study of religions takes place as theology under the auspices of the several religions. self-validating interest.

We seek generalizations that pertain to the entire scope of human experience and consciousness. most of them historical. the Gospels are rarely asked to contribute to a discourse of general intelligibility. all of them aimed at a theological goal. not as exemplary of a proposition that pertains elsewhere. Knowing various religions. but religion. for example. to a narrow range of questions. what can we say about religion as a whole? To answer that question—a different one from the question that governs the theological study of religions—we privilege no body of information and regard as self-evidently important no defined corpus of knowledge. The Unique versus the Exemplary But where and how are we to do so? Take the case of the Gospels. That is to say. Enjoying a self-evidently valid position of privilege. whether or not Jesus “really” did or said what he is alleged by the Gospels to have done or said defines what scholars . in models defined by Christian seminaries and shaped in the interests of Christian theology. Most scholarship on the formative writings of Christianity goes on among believers or their continuators. The definition of matters limits itself.. regarded as a dimension of the life and culture of humanity. like all other well-developed academic fields of the social sciences and humanities. we mean also to study religion—the phenomenon from which the phenomena derive. In the case of classical Christianity. about the nature of religious writing. As when studied under Church auspices. while we study specific religions as part of our work.g. Instead we ask religions to contribute cases and examples in the examination of generalizations about the whole phenomenon of humanity’s religious activities and aspirations. They are not often invited to illustrate a generalization or to provide an example of a truth that transcends their particular case. treated as objects of inquiry in their own terms. one that by its nature is both multi-cultural and comparative. III.46   religions. e. whether in the Church or in the College the Gospels are treated as unique. viewed as self-validating. The academy then promises to study not only religions. which define the occasion at hand. so in the academy the Gospels are treated as self-evidently interesting in their own right. The study of religion. is therefore a generalizing science. moreover. but religion. some of them doctrinal. That is why.

analysis. How. we interpret the religion. and the multi-cultural ideal of inclusive discourse encompassing human experience accessible in general registers not at all. three successive tasks require attention: description. nothing is prima facie unique. we might undertake that work. Interpretation: The Place of Comparison and Contrast To answer these questions and then show how the answer works. exactly at what points should we turn to the work of generalization and face outward toward the worlds that circle in their own orbits but may intersect with the one at hand? IV. Analysis. Description. and nothing is set forth as exemplary. and the equivalent classics of Islam and Buddhism. But the premise of academic learning is. Everything is accorded the position of singularity. not religion. and interpretation. finally. and the like. In concrete terms. the Hebrew Scriptures. they claim they are quite content. That answers the question: how? meaning. what precisely do we study? We analyze the religion. That answers the . We describe a given religion. So What? To study any religion. defined historically. Generalizations prove rare. how does this set of information constitute a coherent religion? And.   47 want to know. if we wanted to study religion as a general phenomenon and ask about its traits as these transcend specific cases. Here we shall identify the specific point at which the interests of religion shape the study of specific religions. a brief account of what we do when we study religion is required. trying to relate the character of that religion to its context. identifying noteworthy traits and explaining them in context. positivist history. assembling the relevant facts in correct balance and proportion. the Rabbinic literature of formative Judaism. comparisons invidious. The same is surely the case with the Gospels’ counterparts. Gospels’ scholarship (and its counterparts in Judaism and other religions) rarely moves beyond the work of Christianity. and when they have formed a thesis in response to questions of hard-core. and the study of the Gospels provides not only an example of the study of religions. That answers the question: what? meaning. which it is our task to identify and test. but also the occasion for reflection on how. What. everything points to some few (hypothetical) generalizations. But we do well to take a single case and generalize from there.

. And to do so means to step back. provoked by the successful work of comparison and contrast. Answering the question of what involves no intellectual heavy-lifting. apart from established knowledge. and what is the question that a given fact answers? There begins the work of generalization about religion. But to define a context. For the study of religion as a powerful force in human affairs. a standpoint. There we move from primitive to sophisticated labor: find patterns. One of the founders of the academic study of religion—religion. turning information into a hypothesis and an argument. and what difference does that knowledge make in our understanding of how things are? These three intellectual challenges—what. Through analysis we make sense of the facts that we collect and arrange and form them into knowledge. as everyone concedes religion has played. or so what? meaning.48   question: why. It requires the hard but unchallenging work of hunting and gathering. For to identify the context for a text (by way of example) we require perspective on what we know. find something sufficiently like what we know to sustain comparison. what else do we know. how. we have to pick and choose. we undertake to analyze a classic of a given religion depends on the way in which we define the context in which we are to read that classic. exactly. where do facts take on consequence. that is the key question: what do we know that we did not know before. that we promise in the academy. carrying out a labor of comparison and contrast. information: the equivalent of natural history. collecting and arranging. But matters change when we ask how. if this is what we know? That is the point of generalization. why—confront anyone who hopes to do more than summarize and paraphrase the sources of a given religion in the labor of the study of that religion. not merely the description of individual religions. How. And the only way of gaining perspective is to establish a distance. The critical step comes with analysis. By context I mean. For analysis context is everything. but also significantly unlike what we know to show alternatives—that is the work of comparison and contrast. not only religions—said it all: one who knows only a single religion knows no religion at all. identify governing generalizations.

religions constitute that catalogue of possibilities. deal with such issues as the nature of God and the meaning of death. other ways of belief and behavior. that is. in the study of religions. . therefore. why it selects one way. and this is what they mean. comparison and contrast of religions that thrive in the same time and place. the requirements of the social order and the reality of love. and diachronic. Accordingly. The study of religion by its nature requires generalization—this is how things are in general. To generalize. why this. And it is multi-cultural because religions make choices about a shared existential agenda addressed by two or more (other) religions. we are going to form a hypothesis out of a variety of kindred cases. If we wish to learn about religion in culture and society. If. that list of how one might do things. Two Ways of Comparing Religions: Synchronic vs. beyond description. Nearly all religions. Comparing and contrasting afford perspective. marks the moment of turning outward for data that are like and not like our primary point of interest. how is comparison to be carried on? VI. everyone understands that. viewed whole. before interpretation. Diachronic I see two media of comparison: synchronic. who knows only one religion understands no religion. rather than another. then. It is comparative. for example. for its world of belief and behavior. then test that hypothesis further. so that from a grasp of roads not taken. to define the context in which how one actually does them. the analytical study of religion is both comparative and multi-cultural. But to explain choices. Then we can attempt a generalization. because only when we consider two or more religions (or two or more systems of the same religion) in a process of comparison and contrast do we gain access to the might-have-beens and make some sense of what actually was or is.   V. we may follow the path that is chosen and form a theory of the reason why. not that? In the realm of religion. They alert us to alternatives. we have to identify the choices a religious system or culture makes for itself. we have to know at least some of the alternatives. Only then can we set forth a catalogue of possibilities and therefore ask. Analysis and the Comparative Study of Religion 49 The second stage. comparison and contrast of religions over time. by its nature. that of analysis.

when he says. What nineteenth century scholarship added to comparative study was the abstraction. in the study of religion over time.” That is to say. unitary Judaism. very often. . In fact. each representative of the religion. At issue is. Each mode of comparison and contrast obeys its own rules and yields its own sort of insight. In the language of Jesus himself. and we allege that the same circumstances—time and place. which Jesus rejected. . “Judaism.” a single. For we compare concrete sayings or actions of the same time and place. synchronic comparison involved the fabrication of something called “Judaism. on the premise that Jesus can have known such opinions and have framed his own sayings in response to them. We claim to know exactly what has taken place on a particular occasion and how each religion has responded to the same moment in time. from the Scriptures and certain . both religions confronting a single circumstance. Most comparative work focused upon the Gospels has limited itself to the principles of synchroneity: compare what Jesus said or did with what others in or before his time said on the same subject or did in the same setting. Comparing a Unitary Judaism to a Unitary Christianity: Modern and contemporary scholarship made two further contributions to the synchronic comparison. Sayings parallel to those attributed by the Gospels to Jesus will take priority. first. that religion was taken to be known from the Hebrew Scriptures (“Old Testament”) or. comparison commences. . In the case of the Gospels synchronic comparison will identify opinions held before or in the time in which Jesus lived. these will place Jesus into that context in which these sayings circulated.” That language formed the very essence of the comparative study of Christianity along side the (inferior) Judaism. which serves better in the study of the Gospels in particular? Synchronic Comparison: Here historical context defines the work. but I say to you. among more sophisticated scholars. diachronic. comparing a saying of Jesus with a comparable one in the Hebrew Scriptures or in other sources of Judaism. unitary religion. For long centuries the invidious comparisons limited themselves to exegetical problems. relationships of power and considerations of honor for instance—confronted both players in a common condition. . comparative study of Jesus in the context of his time and place got underway as soon as Christians began to record in writing the religious encounter that embodied the faith. “You have heard it said . .50   Synchronic comparison takes place in historical study. the invention of a single.

unitary Judaism in 1995. some not. Among scholars. invidious comparison still simpler. culminating in that of George F. which came to closure from the Mishnah. A cliché of comparative study of Christianity and Judaism in classical times maintains.” Citing the same verse. Jesus said. 200. some differentiating among Judaisms and Christianities.. “Judaism” then would be attested by a vast variety of sources. Citing Lev 19:18. then. moreover. Hillel said. Moore in the USA. Strack in Germany and his counterparts in Britain.. because Hillel said it first . “What is hateful to yourself do not do to your neighbor. But invidious comparison need not be synchronic. like any other. that is the entire Torah.” and so on—comparative study in the service of religious polemics. L. who differentiates among Judaisms in Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977 defines for himself a single. the same scholar.. “You will love your neighbor as yourself. and we are not required to dismiss the synchronic approach merely because its results have served other than an academic program. . .” or “Jesus was not original. Treating the two as unitary made comparison easier. comparative study has required the invention of the things to be compared! Encompassing Rabbinic Judaism: From the beginning of the twentieth century. Clearly.” or “Hillel’s was superior because . So. that Judaism was ethnic and Christianity universal—a profoundly wrong reading of what “Israel” stands for in a variety of the Judaisms of the time. the definition of “Judaism” for comparative purposes broadened to encompass Rabbinic literature. Ed Parish Sanders.   51 non-canonical documents of the same general provenience. comparative study produced such conclusions as. full of mutual contradictions and reciprocal disagreement. . specific sayings or stories would be subjected to analysis through the comparison and contrast of what Jesus said with what others said on a single program. .” or “Jesus was nothing more than a rabbi.” From the intersection of these two responses to Lev 19:18. through the Talmud of Babylonia. “Jesus’s formulation was superior because . with the work of H. . now go forth and learn. to take one notorious case. ca. . all the rest is commentary. The discovery of the library at the Dead Sea contributed still more such writings. . 600 CE. ca.

That is because by definition we eliminate most of the data that pertain to religion. The Dismissal of Christianity: Third and most important. We cannot say for certain Jesus took that road. but we do not know that that was the case. Thus. we turn out to construct in our minds a considerable library to which Jesus had access.52   VII. or contemporary with. First distortion: synchronic comparison has treated as a fact that Jesus can have known not only Scripture. So too it is a long road from Nazareth to Qumran. Stories of miracles. and more to the point comes the constriction: as Professor Chilton says. Each would suffice to require another approach to the formulation of contexts of comparison of Christianity and Judaism. as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has said in his great critique of the study of the historical Jesus.” Limiting the work of comparison and contrast to texts prior to. sayings of a unique character. We excise evidence that can help us place into contemporary context for purposes of comparison earliest Christian religious life. not to mention reports of resurrection—these do not supply facts that we can validate or falsify in the ordinary way in which historians do their work. History by its nature deals . insisting that the only Jesus for study is “the historical Jesus” defined apart from the canonical Gospels by appeal to secular criteria of positivist history dictates the outcome before the work even commences. [3] The Secularization of Jesus. Problems of Synchronic Comparison Synchronic comparison now has run its course for three reasons. When we invoke Pseudepigraphic books to explain Jesus’ own meaning or the context of a saying attributed to him. but that range of Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphic writing deriving from long prior to his own day. [1] Distortion: Insisting that defining a context for comparative study involves only materials of the same time and place constricts the work and at the same time distorts it. Jesus himself therefore rests upon a historical variable that proves dubious. we predetermine the result. because to begin with we have dismissed all evidence concerning initial Christianity except that explicitly identified with the person of Jesus and today affirmed as belonging to him—a very considerable exclusion of nearly the whole of the corpus of evidence concerning Christian faith. “There is no ‘historical Jesus’ in the sense of a person whose deeds and character are accessible by means of verifiable public evidence. [2] The Pseudo-Historical Jesus: Second.

with the Golden Rule itself ! Along these same lines. so anything Hellenistic or Judaic is excluded. excluded (or trivialized. Religion speaks of God’s creating the world. Then our evidence forces us to place Jesus into the context of apocalypse. Take the evidence of Judaic religious life that comes prior to the time of Jesus. demonstrable facts. Jesus was unique. and that limitation therefore leaves us unable to make sense of much that he (is alleged to have) said that has no bearing upon apocalyptic expectation at all—beginning. of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. we find ourselves left with ample representation of evidence of a single type alone. in addition to Scripture. principally those involving apocalyptic speculation about the end of time. much (perhaps most) of what the Gospels allege about Jesus proves beyond all verification—not merely the miracles. we must find the insistence on mere history an exercise in trivialization. Given the centrality. or yet a third maintains. but the entire supernatural context that the Gospels to begin with define for their discourse. giving the Torah. . One dictates that Jesus was a Jew. What tests of validation or falsification can anyone devise to establish secular fact out of religious conviction? To begin with. the faithful would claim. The religious writings that have survived the accidents of time from before the first century include. But most of the allegations concerning Jesus that the Gospels set forth pertain to what is beyond secular demonstration—or. Thus. or another holds. These rules prove contradictory. we know to begin with. That is why Cardinal Ratzinger correctly points to the predetermined character of the lives of the historical Jesus. But much that is attributed to him self-evidently pertains to other than the agenda of apocalyptic visionaries.   53 with positive. even comprehension. Even among the this-worldly possibilities. by means of historical accident. including its founder. after all. in all Gospels. Little survives the inquiry of history—except for Christianity. or explained away) from positive historical narrative by definition. walking among men in incarnate form. Jesus was a revolutionary figure. so anything with other Judaic parallels is excluded. so anything with Hellenistic parallels is excluded. the apocalyptic. synchronic comparison often depends on exclusionary rules. if we exclude evidence of a diachronic character. we limit ourselves to only the few that.

Life is unpredictable. we transcend the limits of time and ascend to the level of enduring culture. When we define a context formed by large-scale. elements of which may surface here or there. myths. practices attested over time but not necessarily present at some one moment— we compare religious systems in large aggregates. To the contrary. if this . not in the experience of humanity. not merely one-time events or singular individuals. that seeks contexts of a different order altogether from those of history. Diachronic Comparison By diachronic comparison I mean the consideration of evidence concerning (a) Judaism that took shape over a long period of time but reached closure only long after the death of Jesus himself. and therefore a different way of undertaking comparisons as well. a context that transcends some one ephemeral moment. It is a kind of comparison that transcends the boundaries of the here and the now. and this “stands behind” or explains or causes that—contradicts the now-articulated experience of humanity. present wherever and whenever the faith in question comes to realization. History’s premise—the self-evidence of the linearity of events. first came this. long-lasting structures—beliefs. we cannot securely assume that that must occur in sequence. then came that. of what. Chaos governs. and interpreting the facts of a given religion: its writings and teachings and practices. Not at all. but all-time truths. set forth in linear progression from start to finish. then the other thing. so that. order should reign. which hold together over a long time. while from history’s perspective. Sometimes “this” yields “that.54   VIII. myths. in this setting or in that. if this happens. Then what matters is not one-time facts. by all and any rules. diachronic comparison appeals to an other-than-historical model of describing. From History to Religion: Diachrony establishes a different context for comparison from the synchronic one. but sometimes it does not. Specifically. in order—at least. That is proven by the irregularity of events. When we compare large-scale. the unpredictability. Diachrony permits the comparison of religions. We claim that an inner logic renders coherent a variety of beliefs. and practices. then that. That is a different way of thinking from the historical. analyzing. continuing structures. the there and the then. what happens in ordinary life yields not events that relate to one another like pearls on a necklace.” as it should. first this. in proper procession.

To understand paradigmatic thinking and its consequent diachronic comparison. will follow next. IX. distinct from the one just past and the one yet to come. Diachronic comparison appeals to a different mode of thinking from the historical kind. makes no . Then we appeal to the past and the future and cease to privilege the present moment— and that comparison through time defines diachrony. specifically. These may well derive from other times and other places than the specific occasion for which we seek illumination through comparison and contrast. by contrast. always rejects anachronism. X. this figure and his philosophy. Knowing “this. each participating in the context that sustains the other. Synchronic and historical versus Diachronic and Paradigmatic Thinking We come now to the heart of matters. we have to compare the paradigmatic to the historical. Historical thinking requires the distinction between past and present. not exemplary. such as is characteristic of social science. In this way we may lay down a solid theoretical foundation for the other mode of comparison set forth here. rules that govern and that transcend particular cases. only what is relevant to that moment in particular therefore places that distinctive event into perspective.” we never can securely claim to predict “that” as well. thinking in quest of generalizations. two distinct types of thinking and how each type defines its own context for comparison. and everywhere stands upon the premises of history. Synchronic versus Diachronic Comparison Synchronic comparison invokes temporal parallels alone. illuminating analogies. Diachronic comparison and contrast by contrast seek not exact temporal parallels but rather approximate. by contrast to that figure and his— both of them contemporaries.   55 happens. That synchronic moment is singular. What we want to know is specific to the moment under study: this moment. to the mode of thinking I call paradigmatic—thinking that seeks enduring patterns. Thinking in terms of patterns or models or paradigms.

that concedes no gap or barrier to separate present from past. the rejection of that distinction. such and so are the results. we address a vast corpus of writing that contains no sustained narrative other than. in the case of the Gospels. and history always posits the pastness of the past. and that is not a time-bound judgment. but the present also takes place in the past. however the goal may find its definition. lose plausibility. Writing history requires [1] narrative that in a teleological framework or pattern links [2] unique and meaningful events involving [3] singular persons. If history favors the one-time. concerning the ultimate order awaiting discovery. the unique life of Jesus. it seeks to define rules that apply everywhere—rules of economics or sociology or political behavior. The past yields cases to contrast with the present. order. Historical study correlates this to that. views the present . by contrast. regularity. But as this century has taught us. always seeking reasonable explanation for what has come about. all premises concerning order. except the one that insists upon the ultimate chaos of things. one that enjoys the standing of selfevidence. and in the labor of generalization. exemplary cases serve without regard to differentiation between past. present. Linearity presupposes predictability. When social science appeals to the history of economics or calls upon examples of social organization out of widely disparate periods of time and even places. A further trait of historical thinking is the linearity of events. a sense for the teleology of matters. For a pattern exists in a timeless world: given these conditions. and future. It is not now but it guides us into the acute present tense. with traits of individuality. Its very premise is that of the Enlightenment. These generalizations identify and then codify patterns.56   such distinction. ideas to events. and onward to the future. that is because history deals with a specific type of fact. Past was then but leads to now. The distinction between past and present is not the only indicator of historical modes of organizing experience. Paradigmatic thinking represents a mode of representing the social order of a group in such a way that the past forms a vivid presence. History tells what has happened at a determinate time in the past. the singular and the demonstrable facts concerning how things really took place. and past and present extend themselves into the future through the definition of an encompassing rule. History then forms a subset of the quest for order—a persuasive one. of paradigmatic ones. In the Gospels and in the Rabbinic literature.

   57 as autonomous of past and future. large or small—without regard to scale. which will serve this and that. They derive from imagination. therefore in complete indifference to the specificities of context. analyze. hither and yon. one that enjoys the standing of self-evidence. Fractal thinking therefore makes possible the quest for a few specific patterns. finds sustained story-history a useless medium for the making of its statement. and. with its regularities and certainties and categorical dismissal of chaos. whether large or small. hither and yon. Now. and permit us to interpret them. These fractals or paradigms describe how things are. whether now or then. ideas to events. Judaism and Christianity in their classic statements take into account the failure of linear logic. In its reading of Scripture. in the language of this essay. here or there. In its reading of the ancient Israelite Scriptures. whether today or in a distant past or an unimaginable future. They impose upon the world their own structure and order. Its very premise is that of the Enlightenment. whether today or in a distant past or an unimaginable future. or classified as paradigms. Fractal thinking therefore makes possible the quest for a few specific patterns. and permit us to interpret them. or patterns. models. or classified as paradigms. Judaism (along with Christianity) posits instead a world that may be compared to that of fractal shapes. unlike history. because out of acknowledged chaos they isolate points of regularity or recurrence and describe. selecting . it goes without saying. from small to large—and so too in the case of events. from small to large—and so too in the case of events. Paradigms describe the structure of being: how (some) things are. Unlike history. models. always seeking reasonable explanation for what has come about. These fractals or paradigms describe how things are. in the language of mathematics. or patterns. not from perceived reality. in the language of mathematics. with its regularities and certainties and categorical dismissal of chaos. whether here or there. Fractal thinking finds sameness without regard to scale. religion takes into account the failure of linear logic. History then forms a subset of the quest for order— a persuasive one. whether large or small. which will serve this and that. Fractal thinking finds sameness without regard to scale. whether here or there. analyze. Historical study correlates this to that. Judaism (along with Christianity) posits instead a world that may be compared to that of fractal shapes. concerning the ultimate order awaiting discovery. because out of acknowledged chaos they isolate points of regularity or recurrence and describe.

while historical thinking is linear. Diachronic comparison admits into the discussion evidence produced in centuries after the first. in the Talmud of Babylonia for example? First. with a beginning. both Judaism and Christianity appeal to the Scriptures of ancient Israel. while to insist that they set forth their disagreements in the end in the framework of hermeneutics would surely prove congruent to what is at stake in the conflict. justice and mercy. That is why the writings of the two religions. even a shared structure imposing order on the chaos of the everyday and system upon time govern.58   among things that happen those few moments that are eventful and meaningful. Stated very simply. The single rationality appeals to the human sense for what is right: “Will not the Judge of all the world do justice?” states the matter for both scriptural religions. a single rationality. And along these same lines. define a different conception of relationship from the linear. The foundations of comparing Christianity and Judaism—the religions. that is sure to happen. The common structure appeals not only to Providence but to regularity in history: as Moses and the prophets insisted. Paradigms form a different conception of time from the historical. Specifically. not limited to the founding figure of the former—extend deep into the ground on which both stand. the two religions conform over time to a single structure. On what basis may we compare a story told by Jesus with one first occurring much later. if you do this. definitive traits. based upon a sense of proportion and balance. religious thinking corresponds to mathematics’ fractal thinking. Each cites those Scriptures lavishly and aspires to realize their teachings in the life of Israel and Church. To claim that the two religious worlds collide in a conflict of exegesis would represent too narrow a reading. pervading all being. history is patterned. known through Scripture. the two large families of kindred systems share a single Scripture and commonly debate the interpretation of verses of that Scripture. The shared logic appeals to a divine order and plan. come together in a single meeting place of a common and shared discourse. and end. respectively. They intersect not because . the comparison aims at perspective on kindred-religions and their large-scale traits. Whatever other authorities the diverse formulations of each religion acknowledge. the fact of a common heritage produces the further fact that in both systems a single logic. In these and numerous other. middle. Second. in Judaic circumstances far removed from the conditions that prevailed when Jesus lived. though widely separated in time.

comparison is possible. written and oral. then much work awaits. but because each supplies the other with illuminating analogues. why not give up the so-called critical quest for . intersect in content and even in form with sayings attributed to Jesus and other compositions of the synoptic Gospels. positivist. Writings assigned to the sages of the dual Torah. and therefore do not know. the saying attributed to Hillel about not doing to one’s neighbor what one would not want done to himself. and synchronic. synchronic and historical comparison proves dubious. Judaism and Christianity. analogues originate wherever we may find them—or however our imagination invents them. XI. Because in important ways passages in Rabbinic literature intersect with passages in the Gospels. Hence critical scholarship has called into question whether or not that statement can define for us the one-time. That saying first surfaces in the name of Hillel in the Talmud of Babylonia. we undertake the act of faith that affirms all attributions as valid. Gospels and Rabbinic Writings: From Parallels to Analogues and Parables in Particular: A Case in Point That brings us to a concrete case: the use of Rabbinic and Gospels’ evidence in the shared work of comparing the religions. First. the Rabbinic and the Catholic and Orthodox Christian. that Hillel himself actually made that statement in the earliest decades of the first century. And when it comes to comparison and contrast.   59 they run parallel. as historical thinking prefers. That formidable objection can be overcome in one of two ways. the Rabbinic literature can make only a marginal contribution to Gospels studies. 600 CE. as poets do. historical context in which Jesus made the saying on the same subject that is assigned to him. In that case. So far as comparison is narrowly historical. a document that reached closure in ca. An example of such comparison has already been given. Comparing and contrasting sayings and stories that first reached documentary closure in the third or fifth or seventh centuries with those of the Gospels requires us to treat as first century writings what manifestly belong to much later centuries. We cannot show. But if our comparison aims at gaining perspective on two large religious structures. namely. For while everyone has long known that parallels exist between the one and the other.

To illustrate what we may. and interpretation here enters in. therefore comparable. But later on. the other of Yohanan ben Zakkai. respectively. work that yields little of value in the synchronic setting produces much of interest in the diachronic one. most people conceded that a parable attributed to a first century . and they therefore asked Yohanan to clarify the sense and meaning of Jesus. Early on. Specifically. second. people recognized that the parable set forth in Yohanan’s name looks something like the one set forth in Jesus’s. The premise of systemic study of religions maintains that details contain within themselves and recapitulate the system as a whole. details. therefore contrasting. who is assumed to have lived in the first century. Consequently. The single concrete case of the way in which we compare religions through concrete texts drawn from widely separated periods of time is familiar. what he really said among the sayings attributed to him—and believe it all? Or. analysis.60   the historical Jesus—meaning. But how would such diachronic comparison work? The basic premise of systemic description. yet different. It is the diachronic comparison. so that. the one in the name of Jesus. We seek perspective from a different angle altogether. Here we ask a different set of questions. For that purpose I have chosen a parable that occurs in the Synoptic Gospels and in the Talmud of Babylonia. we redefine our quest altogether. accomplish through diachronic comparison of shared. asking for data of an-other-than-synchronic character to provide a perspective of a different kind from the narrowly-historical one. For characterizing wholes—the whole of one structure and system—gains nuance and detail when brought into juxtaposition with comparable wholes. we can reconstruct much of the entirety of the structure. if we seek to characterize an entire religious system and structure—Rabbinic Judaism that records its Oral Torah in the score of documents from the Mishnah through the Talmud of Babylonia. and may not. resting on the principles just now set forth. the Christianity that reaches written form in the Gospels—diachronic work vastly helps. That premise flows from the very notion of a system—an entire structure that imparts proportion and meaning to details and that holds the whole together in a single cogent statement. much as do anthropologists and paleontologists dealing with details of culture or of mammals. a single case therefore should serve. from the parts.

Likeness takes priority.   61 authority in a seventh century compilation cannot be taken at face value to record what really was said and done on that singular day in the first century to which reference is made. and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. what each really wishes to say—no small point of clarification when it comes to the description and analysis of religions. ‘Tell those who are invited. Again [2] he sent other servants. The shape and structure of Christianity and of Judaism then come under study and into perspective. the Judaic system of the Talmud of Babylonia. Narrowly historical questions give way to broad and encompassing ones concerning the religious order. When we see how matters are alike. The parable concerns a king who gave a feast. and everything is ready. Let us consider. But we learn then about the Christian system of the Gospels. my oxen and . saying. contrast proves illuminating. The parable allows for the comparison and contrast of religions. ‘The wedding is ready. another to his business. one to his farm. Diachronic reading of religious systems leads us past the impasse. treated them shamefully and killed them.my fat calves are killed. first. The parable in that form contains no determinate message and does not hint at its own interpretation. as we shall see. saying. The king was angry. but did not specify the time.’ But they made light of it and went off. behold I have made ready my dinner. Some were ready when the time came. some foolishly. The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son and [1] sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast. Everything else. What we shall see is how finding what Christian and Judaic canonical documents share permits a process of first comparison but then contrast. . we perceive the differences as well. but they would not come. is particular to the two religious traditions that utilized the parable. Then he said to his servants. while the rest seized his servants. how the naked components of the parable are clothed in the formulation attributed to Jesus: And again Jesus spoke to them in parables. and having established a solid basis for comparison. The contrast then permits us to show where each differs from the other. come to the marriage feast. Some people responded to the invitation wisely. some were not. each for its own message. but those invited were not worthy. That is all that the two religions have in common: the shared parable of the king who gave a banquet but did not specify the time.

both bad and good. Jesus is the son. That is the point at which the Rabbinic version of the same story—the story about the king who made a feast and invited people— intersects with the Christian use of the parable. he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. The invitation is repeated: everything is ready. The first version has many called. but those who are called either will not come (to the original feast) or are not worthy (of the second feast) but reject the invitation altogether. and he said to him.’” (Matt 22:1–14 = Luke 14:15–24 RSV) As Jesus shapes the parable. many are called but nobody responds. it tells a rather protracted and complicated story. This is made deliberate and blameworthy: people reject the invitation. For many are called but few are chosen. People reject the invitation to the marriage feast. But the point is clear: the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. But no version of the parable of the king’s fiasco matches that moral. and they do so violently: The wedding is ready. Now the kingdom is at hand and people must enter. some not. so the wedding hall was filled with guests. not just the parable. So in the first set of stories. If the context of the . ‘Friend. In the third goaround.’ And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found. ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. But to examine it in its context. that is. Then the king said to the attendants.62   “ ‘[3] Go therefore to the thoroughfares and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find. many are called and do show up. People now come as they are. That is because. having been summoned without notice or opportunity to get ready. there men will weep and gnash their teeth. read as a unitary formulation. First. how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Those who are unready are punished: they should have been ready. but a few—one man only—is unready. The invited people now reject the invitation violently and are themselves unworthy. the king has issued invitations. Then is tacked on a new moral: many are called but few are chosen. and each version makes its own point. but no one will come. Some are ready. But when the king came in to look at the guests. All are judged in accord with their condition at the moment of the invitation—ready or not. people are dragooned. the story of the king’s feast is told thrice. In the third go-around there is no choice about coming. They had no choice. So the triplet is rather odd. the Kingdom of Heaven. but those invited were not worthy. Then the king issues new invitations. we have to consider the text that utilizes the parable. which is not free-standing.

‘These. “Let your garments be always white and don’t let your head lack ointment” (Qoh 9:8). The smart ones went right before him. ‘So is there a banquet without a whole lot of preparation?’ Suddenly the king demanded the presence of his courtiers.’” . will stand and look on. Eliezer. Zakkai. as the corpse is anointed for burial. but showed anger to the fools. that is.   63 parable as Jesus utilizes it is the kingdom of Heaven and its sudden advent. The smart ones among them got themselves fixed up and waited at the gate of the palace. and that means. who fixed themselves up for the banquet. The text commences with generalizations: one should repent one day before he dies. saying. garmented in white. but he didn’t set a time.46 A. “Let your garments be always white and don’t let your head lack ointment. will sit and eat and drink. B. and properly anointed. lest he die tomorrow.” D. Eliezer says. "Abot 2:10D]. Now the parable illustrates the teaching that one should be ready for the banquet that God will call at any moment— which is to say. “So does someone know just what day he’ll die?” C. all fixed up. That is what happens without warning. did Solomon say. ‘Does the palace lack anything?’ [They can do it any time. [“Let your garments be always white and don’t let your head lack ointment” (Qoh 9:8)]—said R. “Repent one day before you die” [m. He set no specific time.] The stupid ones among them went about their work. “All the more so let him repent today. saying. He said to them. for which people must be ready. but the fools went before him filthy from their work. We have learned in the Mishnah there: R. the color of death in the Rabbinic writings. His disciples asked R. Yohanan b. “The matter may be compared to the case of a king who invited his courtiers to a banquet. Those. Some kept themselves in readiness.” which is taken to refer to keeping one’s body in condition as a corpse. One should be ever-ready. and he will turn out to spend all his days in repentance. And so. some did not.45 A. too. the here and now and the death that comes to everyone. the context in the Rabbinic version is everyday life. I. This is linked to a verse in Qoh 9:8. The king received the smart ones pleasantly. one should be ready for death through a life of perpetual repentance: I. every day. He said. The compositor of the construction of the Talmud of Babylonia has then added the parable of the king who invited people to a banquet. who didn’t fix themselves up for the banquet.

come to the marriage feast. There are some corresponding developments. my servants shall drink. as follows: B. behold. the one eating. my fat calves are killed.” A further treatment of the base-verse. while the rest seized his servants.’ But they made light of it and went off. behold. one to his farm. but you shall cry for sorrow of heart’ (Isa 65:13–14). the other starving. “And don’t let your head lack ointment”: This refers to phylacteries. ‘Tell those who are invited. and the parable serves remarkably disparate purposes. Otherwise the versions of the parable scarcely intersect. The king was angry. rather. as the following comparison shows: Jesus “The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast. . another to his business. ‘The wedding is ready. transforms the emphasis upon the attitude of repentance in preparation for death to the practice of the faith. Meir said. Qoh 9:8. some are ready when the hour strikes.64   The passage bears a gloss. R. and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. “Let your garments be always white”: This refers to show fringes. 153a = m. my servants shall eat. but they would not come. but you shall be thirty. we have moved a long way from the triple banquet that Jesus has the king hold. and everything is ready. treated them shamefully and killed them. Another matter: “Let your garments be always white and don’t let your head lack ointment” (Qoh 9:8)— D. but you shall be ashamed. behold. my servants shall rejoice.44–45 Clearly. my servants shall sing for joy of heart. the one drinking. [1] diverse responses to the invitation. and [2] consequently. But. my oxen and. Then he said to his servants. Meir’s son in law in the name of R. E. Shab. b. saying. the king who gave a feast and was disappointed in the result because people are unready. Shab. would appear as though in attendance. and to the head to phylacteries: C. but you shall be hungry. some not. “They. specifically. behold. All that is shared is the common motif. the reference to garments now alluding to showfringes. Again he sent other servants. but those invited were not worthy. the other in thirst: ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God. both parties sit. too. 23:5K–M I. behold I have made ready my dinner.

will sit and eat and drink. For many are called but few are chosen. He said. but showed anger to the fools. ‘Does the palace lack anything?’ [They can do it any time. ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. But what is that kingdom? On that the two heirs of the common Scripture differ radically. saying. the shared lesson that one has to be ready on the spur of the moment. The smart ones went right before him. he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. ‘So is there a banquet without a whole lot of preparation?’ Suddenly the king demanded the presence of his courtiers.’ And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found.’” The upshot is simple: the parable shared by Christianity and Judaism concerns a king who gave a banquet with unhappy results—that alone. how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. But when the king came in to look at the guests. and he said to him.] The stupid ones among them went about their work. who didn’t fix themselves up for the banquet. and the common conviction that that for which one must be forever prepared is nothing less than entry into God’s kingdom. who fixed themselves up for the banquet. so the wedding hall was filled with guests. But that shared motif (for all we have in common is a motif. which turn our attention from the detail— the case at hand—and toward the large-scale systems that have imposed their respective paradigms upon the detail of the (proto-)parable: the shared motif of the king who gave a banquet for people who were unwilling or unready to attend. The king received the smart ones pleasantly. there men will weep and gnash their teeth. . both bad and good. but the fools went before him filthy from their work. but he didn’t set a time. ‘Friend. The smart ones among them got themselves fixed up and waited at the gate of the palace.’” Yohanan ben Zakkai “The matter may be compared to the case of a king who invited his courtiers to a banquet. ‘These.   65 Go therefore to the thoroughfares and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find. saying. not a fully-executed tale) suffices to validate comparing the ways in which the two religious worlds have utilized the motif. Those. Then the king said to the attendants. will stand and look on. And that produces striking contrasts. all fixed up.

in the case at hand. which is at hand. so declaring every morning and every night with the rising and setting of the sun. together with the unpredictable occasion at which God will exercise his dominion? People living in ordinary times must engage in a constant process of repentance. The formulation in the Gospels concerns itself with the rejection of Jesus and the Kingdom he inaugurates. Or people are not ready to respond. Contexts of Comparison What do we learn from the contrast? Christianity. defines God’s kingdom around the advent of Jesus Christ. death. but the acutely . But the net result is the same. “Jesus Christ” received the same heritage as an account of not the enduring present but the now-realized future: the climax is at hand. priests and the holy people is to make its life. Perspective on the character and emphases of each is gained from the contrast with the other. which is one has to be ready every moment for the coming of the kingdom. the two systems say very different things. centers its interest on the moral conduct of everyday life. how holy Israel is to realize the rules that govern the everyday and the here and now of the kingdom of Heaven in which. which generates two comparable. Through working on the same motif of the king and the banquet and the guests who are not ready. in the case at hand. the regularity of nature. How to accept God’s rule. in the quotidian world of the here and the now. At stake is God’s rule.66   XII. made possible by the shared motif. in the recitation of the Shema proclaiming God’s rule. through obedience to the Torah. matching nature with supernature in Israel’s obedience. the kingdom of Heaven marks not a lasting condition. Christianity in the statement of the Gospels then sets forth a religious system focused upon the figure of Jesus in the advent of God’s rule. The humble detail—a few lines of narrative in the respective documents—proves to contain within itself much of what we require to differentiate the one reading of the shared Scripture from the other. That is where God’s kingdom is realized. to be ready for the event—God’s intervention and assertion of his dominion—that is inevitable but unpredictable. Rabbinic Judaism. but contrasting parables. and through insisting upon the same message. People do not wish to respond to the invitation. but which comes when least expected. “Our sages of blessed memory” read Scripture as the account of how God’s kingdom on earth is to take shape.

” to represent the concrete realities of Judaic and Christian faith in the here and now. an on-going debate that the saying is meant to settle. extra-contextual comparison produces traits in common that prove illusory upon closer inspection. “What is hateful to yourself do not do to your neighbor. That is also the weakness: analysis never proves so easy.” and we identify a given component we deem common to both. There is also the wholly extra-contextual. e. upon but asymmetrical to the same foundation.. Where else but at the intersection of like parables could we have encountered so jarring a collision: everyday Israel versus Jesus Christ! At every point likeness underscores difference. Commonly.. e. “Judaism” and “Christianity.” Judaism’s counterpart in Hillel’s saying. True. buildings remarkable for their symmetry. a pair of larger theological or philosophical systems. all humanity for that matter).   67 present moment. Extra-contextual comparison involves such abstractions as “Buddhism” or “Hinduism” or “Judaism” and “Christianity. e. extra-contextual . Traits in common—e. Not knowing the larger setting in which a given saying finds its natural place. we end up where just we started. in Christianity. like the comparative-contrastive reading of much else. Here we make no effort to place the saying into any larger context. a particular time and place in which the saying was provoked or to which it was addressed. yields two religions. recapitulating Lev 19:18: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. practices of rite and cult. but only diachronic comparison sustains the encounter. for his son = Jesus Christ. The strength of extra-contextual comparison lies in the simplicity of the exercise and the bold and clear character of the result. And obedience is to the king. solid results are harder to come by. But so far as we conceive the abstractions.. we miss the points of actual intersection. but also for their utter incongruity. each constructing. and form utter abstractions of theory. all the rest is commentary. who has made a banquet—in Judaism. that we propose to compare and contrast.g.. that is the entire Torah. beliefs about God. Christianity’s Golden Rule. now go forth and learn”—will be set up side by side and contrasted. do not share a single world of space or time.g. but now vastly enlightened on where we stand.g. The reciprocal reading of the rabbis’ and the Gospels’ parables. synchronic reading forbidding it. moral philosophy or theological ethics.g. the comparison and contrast of religions that never intersect. for his courtiers = Israel (or. rites of initiation.

. how much good oil do the pagans have! But Scripture speaks only of the performance of the commandments. A medieval treatment of the same verse in Qohelet completes the exposition by referring to the trilogy. Here we see how the medieval documents of Rabbinic Judaism clearly continue and carry forward with great precision the teachings of the classical writings. good deeds. and Torah-study: Does Scripture speak literally about garments? But how many white garments do the pagans have? And if Scripture literally speaks of good oil. which amplifies and refines the initial statement.68   comparison does help organize things and yields basic and useful generalizations. and the study of the Torah (Qoh. but which continues an essentially straight path from antiquity forward. but does not figure in the present problem at all. Nothing has intervened in the unfolding of the Rabbinic system. absorbs new ideas and naturalizes them. Extra-contextual comparison deserves attention in its own terms. commandments. Rab. 9:8). good deeds.

p. 1951). ET: Fragments from Reimarus consisting of Brief Critical Remarks on the Object of Jesus and His Disciples (ed. E. Die Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung. 3rd ed. 1910.NEUSNER’S “CONTEXTS OF COMPARISON” Gary Herion I In his programmatic essay “Contexts of Comparison: Reciprocally Reading Gospels’ and Rabbi’s Parables. During this so-called “No Quest Period” of the early twentieth century the imaginable alternatives to historical study were primarily literary and theological. Reimarus: Fragments (ed. 1839–40).. 1897). David Friedrich Strauss opened up a whole new line of approach by insisting that the supernatural elements in the Jesus story be viewed as “mythology. In the 19th century..]. & C. vols. FT: Vie de Jésus. 5th ed. un examen critique de son histoire (2 vols.. 1778).3 The cement held for half a century. Lives of Jesus Series.. Von dem Zwecke Jesu und seiner Jünger: Noch ein Fragment des Wolfenbüttelschen Ungenannten (Fragment 7. critically examined (3 vols. London: Chapman. Black. C. London: Williams and Norgate. 4th ed. repr. 2 D. Philadelphia: Fortress. M. C.” Professor Neusner has proposed nothing less than a “paradigm shift. . 1906). 1846.”2 Albert Schweitzer at the turn of the century brought closure to the whole historical approach by cementing in the western imagination the notion that Jesus had been a failed prophet of the end-times. Philadelphia: Fortress. New York: Macmillan.. for example. 1835–36. Paris: Librairie de Ladrange. 1970. in 1984. Reimarus. London: SCM Press. Voysey. 6th ed. Schweitzer. rev. 1971). Lachmann (ed. The literary alternative involved the excavation of the Gospel texts to identify material emanating from earlier 1 H. 1972. F. F. Strauss. 1879).). 1968. 1913. Reimarus is rightly considered the first scholar to apply the nascent methods of modern historical criticism to the study of Jesus. Von Reimarus zu Wrede: Eine Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck]. 1906.” Since Reimarus1 the historical study of Jesus has experienced numerous moments when old lines of investigation closed down and new ones opened up.. Robinson. repr. Talbert.. Lessings Schriften (3rd ed. Leipzig: Göschen. Das Leben Jesu kritisch bearbeitet (2 vols. with “Introduction” by J.. Osiander. G. Braunschweig: [n. 1838–39. new ed. 1973).. 1840).. ET: The Life of Jesus. K. H. ed. Lessing. Tübingen: C. S. 3 A. 12–13. London: SCM Press. ET: The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede (London: A. ed.

“Das Problem des historischen Jesus.5 Synchronic.” ZTK 51 (1954) 125–53. but because the approach is either yielding too many different Jesuses or because. 1964) 15–47. ET: “The Problem of the Historical Jesus. Käsemann. But by mid-century cracks in the cement were forming. The whole enterprise of religious studies has emerged in the latter half of this century. repr. This is where the introductory portions of his paper are especially valuable. one cannot help but wonder whether thirty years from now scholars will regard Professor Neusner’s essay here as a seminal contribution to the emergence of a “New No-Quest Period. Allen. The juxtaposition or reciprocal comparison of the two will shed important new light on the structure of both 4 E. 5 See C.” Lingua franca (February 1995) 1ff. in Käsemann. Jesus must therefore be given a comparable companion.70   or later “settings” in the life of the early Church (Sitze im Leben). and a 1953 lecture given by Prof. religious studies at heart is a comparative enterprise. “Away with the Manger. 1960) 187–214. as in the case of some of the more prominent members of the Jesus Seminar.” in Käsemann. Just as Käsemann’s 1953 lecture is cited to mark the beginning of the so-called “New Quest” period. and another scholar surely of Schweitzer’s caliber seems to be arguing that it is time once again to close down the historical approach to Jesus. and Neusner has found one in rabbinic Judaism. while the theological agenda appealed to “de-mythologizing” and to existentialism to steer liberal Protestantism through the shoals of Strauss and Schweitzer. Closure to this approach is necessary not because we think we have recovered Jesus the man (as Schweitzer’s generation believed). London: SCM Press. historical scholarship seems unable to deliver what it promises.” Professor Neusner quite rightly hopes that this time the alternative to the historical study of Jesus will not be a theological alternative but a genuinely religious studies alternative. it is inducing otherwise good scholars to come up with apparently silly conclusions. Because religious studies is interested in the exemplary as opposed to the unique. and because it has been informed to a degree by social science perspectives. 1. Ernst Käsemann is now widely regarded as providing the impetus for re-opening a “New Quest” for the historical Jesus. Essays on New Testament Themes (SBT 41.4 Now we are at the turn of another century. . Exegetische Versuche und Besinnungen (vol. and Neusner believes that it is today sufficiently mature to support and to reward the study of Jesus. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

This. my remarks here must necessarily be brief and general. (A) Professor Neusner seems to presume as self-evident the value of the sorts of generalizations that accompany diachronic or paradigmatic thinking (as opposed to synchronic and historical thinking) and that are characteristic of the social sciences.” JSOT 34 (1986) 3–33. have adopted a kind of diachronic/paradigmatic approach seeking the kinds of generalizations characteristic of the social sciences. say. not the lingering hope of “finding the authentic historical person.” II Because I am a specialist neither in New Testament nor in early rabbinic Judaism. 7 Herion (“The Impact of Modern and Social Science Assumptions. “The Impact of Modern and Social Science Assumptions on the Reconstruction of Israelite History. Generalization— especially generalization based upon formal comparisons of superficial traits—invites caricature: the line is sometimes very fine separating the enlightening epitome from the grotesque distortion.6 One such study established a diachronic comparison between the Hebrew prophets and the wider religious phenomena that anthropologists call “intermediation. according to Neusner. This facilitated many generalizations about the Hebrew prophets. The rationalization that “The social scientists do it” may turn off as many people as it turns on. most of which were extremely weak if not flat-out wrong.” 10–14) contains a more detailed critique of this comparative study of Hebrew prophets and African intermediaries. In my field—Hebrew Bible—we have seen many studies where scholars. is the agenda that should justify the study of Jesus in the twenty-first century.’ “  ” 71 Christianity and Judaism as religious systems. Perhaps nothing in New Testament studies illustrates this quite so clearly as the “Jesus-as-Cynic” hypothesis.”7 There are indeed formal parallels between Hebrew prophets and. “Jesus and the Cynics Revisited.8 6 See G. Many will surely question whether such generalization is really all that desirable. frustrated by the lack of sufficient historical data. but are . 8 See most recently David Seeley.” JBL 116 (1997) 704–12. Seeley seems eager to insist that the “Jesus as Cynic” scholars are not really making strictly synchronic claims about historical connections. Herion. African intermediaries.

Most of the heat generated by this “Jesus-as-Cynic” debate concerns precisely whether the comparison captures the quintessence of the man Jesus or renders a vulgar distortion. some will surely argue that between these polar opposites lies a third type of thinking that is on the one hand diachronic (aware that “the past forms a vivid presence. one cannot help but wonder whether New Testament historians might simply basically drawing analogies (pp. We claim that an inner logic renders coherent a variety of beliefs.e. 9 Braudel’s sense of the different levels of historical time is found in two of his works: The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (2 vols. . and On History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. the sequence of Persian. 54) Perhaps religion is what drives la longue durée in the same way that the interplay of powerful politicians drives the moment.72   (B) Related to this... When we define a context formed by large-scale.9 Neusner would probably agree: By diachronic comparison I mean the consideration of evidence concerning (a) Judaism that took shape over a long period of time but reached closure only long after the death of Jesus himself. 705–706). myths. If he is correct (and I am not convinced that he is). This “middle option” is an awareness of what Ferdnand Braudel called la longue durée—an appreciation that some things in a given cultural matrix are so deeply etched as to be relatively impervious to the impact of momentary events and persons (e. committed to “time-bound judgments” and disinterested in any patterns. then one could argue that the “Jesus as Cynic” scholars are merely employing a type of paradigmatic. but the present also takes place in the past”) yet on the other hand is historical (i. 1972). continuing structures. myths. the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE) or even to centuries of repeated socio-political change and even upheaval (e. Hellenistic. However. His remarks here generally strike me as true. and practices. models or paradigms—might we say “myths”?—that exist in a timeless world). 1980). . comparative (religious studies) approach similar to that advocated by Neusner. practices attested over time but not necessarily present at some one moment— we compare religious systems in large aggregates. (p. London: Collins. Neusner proposes a fundamental contrast between synchronic/historical thinking on the one hand and diachronic/paradigmatic thinking on the other. elements of which may surface here or there. in this setting or that.g. . Before jettisoning the historical enterprise altogether.. When we compare large-scale. long-lasting structures—beliefs. and Roman imperialists). which hold together over a long time.g. we transcend the limits of time and ascend to the level of enduring culture.. .

but the real coverage begins with Alexander the Great and the introduction of Hellenism. “Corpus Hellenisticum Novi Testamenti.” in Mendenhall. The pattern is predictable: a cursory paragraph (or two at most) covers Abraham to 586 BCE. Perhaps the problem with the synchronic comparisons is simply that scholars have been forced to utilize too narrow a range of (text-based) parallels. then we see a potentially wider range of possible parallels.). W. 12 Given this assumption. for 10 In this respect it is not surprising that New Testament scholars are now systematically seeking parallels in non-Jewish Hellenistic texts. Hoffmann and G. Mendenhall. it was only a matter of time before someone concluded that Jesus was a Cynic or that he was fundamentally shaped by Cynic philosophy. under the (questionable?) assumption that this had a deep and widespread impact on everything. Larue (eds. New Testament scholars have simply exhausted the options traditionally provided by the texts produced by learned Jewish elites between the 2nd century BCE and the 1st century CE. J. It seems to me that this range has been constricted by two factors: one is chronological.” ABD 1. van der Horst. and idem. G. Jesus in History and Myth (Buffalo: Prometheus. “The Palestinian Grassroots Origins of New Testament Christology.1157–61. of course. . 1986) 79–86. Louisville: John Knox Press. A. another paragraph focuses on the Persian period. it does not necessarily accommodate historical reality. A.12 A great deal is appropriately said about the Maccabees and the four major sects described by Josephus (and.’ “  ” 73 do better history if they took this seriously. While this probably accommodates the graduate school language-training of most New Testament scholars.” in R. See P. Herion. The lack of such historical respect for la longue durée is obvious in every “Introduction to the New Testament” textbook on the market—at least it is obvious to most Hebrew Bible specialists who must also teach New Testament courses in small liberal arts colleges.11 It may be premature to abandon all synchronic study altogether.10 But if we couple a respect for la longue durée with an appreciation for the religious viability of the conservative countryside (which was usually either ignored or arrogantly denigrated by the learned elite under the dismissive label 'am ha"ares). 2001) 203–31. the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. but the overall impression that results from such an unbalanced introduction is that Jesus is more explicable in Hellenistic Jewish terms than in ancient Israelite ones. Ancient Israel’s Faith and History: An Introduction to the Bible in Context (ed. “Jesus and the New Testament Reformation: The Renewal of an Old Faith. If. 11 George E. in which New Testament scholars initially had no interest!). and the other is sociological.

All this is political history. Michigan Oriental Studies in Honor of George G. . a sense of the teleology of matters . Whether consciously or not. say.” in L. The message is clear: not much after 90 CE provides insight into New Testament literature. 14 Neusner. Dept. or reductionistically to equate “prophetic reform” with socio-political activism. Sprinkled hither and yon in the textbooks are references to the “Council of Jamnia” of 90 CE. In fact. the selection of early rabbinic literature as a point of comparison signals an awareness (or suspicion) that some things in a given cultural matrix are so deep as to be relatively impervious to the impact of momentary events or even to centuries of repeated socio-political change and upheaval.”14 Some might object that viewing events in strict linear fashion is not a trait of historical thinking per se but rather of simplistic historical thinking. Judah ha-Nasi. . particularly into Jesus and the gospels.. refer to Constantine and the Council of Nicea. to overemphasize the dependence upon the apocalypticism that was popular in certain Jewish circles at the time. Orlin (ed. it is precisely such historical considerations that in the first place suggest to him that we should compare the gospels with early rabbinic sources and not with. of course. The cursory treatments of New Testament history extend beyond the events of 70 CE. I suspect that Professor Neusner is not as stridently opposed to responsible historical studies as some might infer from his essay. Jesus was a “reformer”—i. “Contexts of Comparison. “Jesus as Reformer. with perhaps a quick nod in the direction of Yohanan ben-Zakkai. a teacher who sought to bring present religious structures back in line consistent with more archaic and more authoritative Israelite patterns13—then this historical option can never be recognized because almost everything before 330 BCE or 586 BCE has been ruled out as relatively inconsequential. not just paradigmatic religious 13 See John Bailey. and a sentence or two leaps us ahead to Bar Kochba (132–135 CE).74   example. Professor Neusner correctly thinks that this is wrong. Past was then but leads to now. 1976) 311–29.e. of Near Eastern Studies.” 56. Cameron (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. It seems to me that recent attempts by New Testament scholars to label Jesus as some type of “prophet” tend to downplay the ancient Israelite connection or to emphasize merely formal similarities.). I suspect it also signals Neusner’s awareness that potentially demonstrable historical continuities. . He also says that “a further trait of historical thinking is the linearity of events. The last chapter of these textbooks will. and the Talmud. Confucius or Benjamin Franklin. the Mishnah.

that no one so thoroughly understood the core of St. But let us not mistake the radical implications of Neusner’s program for the usual conduct of historical criticism. Paul’s thought as did Martin Luther? How will we respond to a monograph on Paul’s concept of justification that begins with an introductory overview of Luther’s thought? Such thoughts tease us as teachers of religious studies.” or of the early rabbis’ notion of the totality of life lived under Torah? What if it should be true. will historians truly be willing to begin “swimming upstream” against the cascading progression of time (especially since they have been so reluctant even to “swim” too far down the chronological timeline)? For example. a time when God was melek. . they still tease us with possibilities. Even (Especially?) if we acknowledge the vitality of la longue durée. even though we may still feel compelled. for example.’ “  ” 75 studies comparisons. exist across (despite?) the centuries. as Neusner correctly senses. as historians. one suspects that the juxtaposition of a “religious studies” approach over against an “historical” one needs re-thinking. They both have a role to play. “king”) with a thorough review of Jesus’ understanding of “the kingdom of God. Nevertheless. to reject them on traditionally solid methodological grounds. will an Old Testament scholar introduce a study of the Hebrew prophets (or of premonarchic Israel. In this regard.

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THE GOSPELS AND RABBINIC LITERATURE Herbert W.3 In this paper.” in New Testament Questions of Today (London: SCM Press. how can it be that his name is revered as the Lord of a religion that is unlike Judaism? (2) How are we to understand the death of Jesus. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. (1) The Jews rejected Jesus and in the story of his resurrection provided the impetus for the founding of a new religion totally outside of Judaism. In agreement with this approach is Dodd. (2) Jesus confronted the authoritarian leadership of his day as being untrue to God’s mandate and was killed for this. Jesus von Nazareth in der Talmudischen Überlieferung (ErFor 82. Jeremias. “Blind Alleys in the ‘Jesus of History’ Controversy. 1978) 95. Kümmel.” writes Johann Maier. The two central questions that have been addressed are: (1) If Jesus lived totally as a Jew. and many others.2 Ernst Käsemann went a step further and claimed that Jesus cut himself from the Judaism of his day. Maier. Basser Introduction The Academic Study of New Testament and Midrash The academic study of the New Testament in historical relation to Judaism has been a topic of some interest for over a century. “It was perhaps this unheard-of claim to authority over the Mosaic law and over people’s lives that disturbed pious Jews and the Jewish authorities. .1 The second answer is only indirectly attributable to the Gospel writers but its case can be made. I have no interest in speaking about the death of Jesus. not because I think the question is without interest but because I am incapable of forming opinions on matters that are not within the purview of my expertise. 3 E. It is the second answer here that attracts 1 Mark 3:6 comes very close to actually saying this but in the execution scenes this motif is not brought to the fore. 2 J. the Gospels themselves imply some answers that do not suffice for the historian although a few have followed such lines. Käsemann. 1969) 51 (translated from German). what crime did he commit that was worthy of such punishment? To address these questions. Philadelphia: Fortress.

Segal. If what Jesus taught astounded the people. little hostility. but as didactic and as an art-form. Falk’s book is a mass of hypothetical interpretations of Rabbinic. Jesus the Pharisee (New York: Paulist Press. 1985). within Pharisaism. all are equal before God is typical of 4 5 H. but as boxing matches in which Christianity has defeated Judaism. he does remind us that Rabbi Emden. “The message of Jesus that. . Nonetheless. and Christian passages which are speculatively tied together and then presented as the picture Rabbi Ya"akov Emden had of Jesus when he spoke of him as an authentic Jew. Needless to say there is nothing to learn from Falk. In the substance of the teachings.). it was not because he set up his authority against the Pharisees but. Of late we have a vast array of ideas concerning Jesus’ niche in the Judaism of his time. there is. Falk. 1991).  my attention and that I address from a vantage of familiarity with Jewish literature that may open up new vistas. H. did not read Jesus as a heretic in the rabbinic tradition. I mean only what is reported in his name and make no claims that he in fact said or did not say anything of the sort. Harvey Falk gives us a picture of Jesus as a Hillelite Pharisee arguing against Shammaite Pharisees. Qumranic. It is only in the language of the later gospel setting of most of the debates that there is hostility expressed.” in J. Specifically I wish to show that the teachings embedded in the Gospels that portray Jesus as antagonistic to Pharisees are themselves pharisaic teachings. F. because he had mastered pharisaic law more than his interlocutors had done and taught properly according to their authority.78  .4 The whole debate is in house. The debates are no longer seen as didactic exercises between Jesus and some colleagues. The attempt by Alan Segal to see Jesus’ message and his followers’ teachings as the basis of an apocalyptic community is as tenuous as Falk’s unfounded assertions. It might well be that the Christian framers of these traditions said things the way they did in order to heighten the tension between Judaism and Christianity. “Jesus the Revolutionary. Jesus’ Jewishness: Exploring the Place of Jesus within Early Judaism (Philadelphia: American Interfaith Institute. A. Charlesworth (ed. The Gospels use materials from a society in which controversy was not viewed as negative and hostile.5 He says. a very learned talmudist. Now when I speak of what Jesus said. as the evidence shows. with repentance. for the most part.

. as well as his Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels (London: Collins. 7 See Vermes. Jesus’ Jewishness.” in Charlesworth (ed. .” He concocts whole communities that he posits followed something called “sectarian apocalypticism” and pretends he can tell us the messages and practices these fanciful communities were supposed to espouse.6 It might be said that the models of “holy man” he uses do not support his contention that the “holy man” preaches a tolerance for neglect of law. "Abot R. Indeed. is that of men who were unrelenting about ritual principles. . 1973). Philadelphia: Fortress. Jesus the Jew. Who are examples of these exemplary righteous people? They are none other than the famed holy men. however do not at all show they were tolerant of laxity in ritual law. apocalyptic passages as a whole. are likewise typical of the other contemporary apocalyptic groups. Hanina ben Dosa and Phineas ben Yair. 7a. Vermes patterns Jesus after holy men who were reported to have performed miracles. There is no reason to suspect that all Jews did not read the Bible’s prophetic. The rabbinic presumption about holy men. I do not think Vermes’ very characterization of Jesus as one who preached a general tolerance for laxity in Jewish laws is accurate. 65–82. “apocalyptic” is a genre of literature and there is nothing at all to justify the notion of special apocalyptic groups and communities. Christian practices . The literature he adduces cannot identify any real groups without relying on mazes of speculation that cannot allow for his firm conclusions concerning Christian groups or justify his use the term “Jesus. as cited for example in b.     79 all sectarian apocalypticism of the time. “Jesus the Jew. the Revolutionary.” Geza Vermes sees Jesus as a Galilean holy man who preached a tolerance for neglect of Jewish law. Ta'an. We should not speak of prophetic or wisdom groups and we have no reason to speak of apocalyptic groups without presenting evidence for their existence. Nat. 8. Nor do I find any evidence for Vermes’s claim that Jesus 6 See G. Falk invents unwarranted meanings for specific passages and Segal invents unwarranted characteristics of “sectarian” groups—whatever that term might mean. Hul. it is indisputable that to make such claims he has to invent movements that he terms “apocalyptic.). 24b. Indeed. In fact. wisdom. Also. chap.7 The stories told about these people.” Whatever he might mean here. it was said that even the donkeys of the righteous were particular about and conscious of ritual food laws. Vermes.

10 This is a more definite presentation than he had given before. Penguin. Where he cannot do this he either posits that those cases are retroversions (for example plucking grain on the Sabbath) back to the time of Jesus and not really solid traditions of a preEaster record. 1993). 255. Jesus.8 and did not deal with matters through interpretation. In my presentation I cite the very rabbinic rules. See E. the Age of the Eschaton. and the Torah as it was meant to be would not always suit the New Age. which precisely pertain to the cases in the Gospels. The Historical Figure of Jesus (London. understanding of rabbinic literature. or he interprets matters so generally that he does not meet the obvious objections that should be raised.  was indicted by patrician Sadducees who could not condone his challenge to the established order. P. with pharisaic extra-scriptural tradition. by telling someone not to bury his father. not too far off-the-mark. but to follow Jesus instead. His agenda is simply to show the agreement of Jesus’ words with pharisaic positions. . P. 1985) 247. Sanders in an early work claims Jesus is not a midrashist nor a halakhic midrashist.9 For Sanders. In general I agree that there is not much room to see the rules of Jesus or his hermeneutics in tension with rabbinic extra-scriptural tradition and so by implication. may show Jesus was prepared to say that to follow him superseded all acts of religious piety. Nevertheless. Jesus and Judaism. Sanders. perhaps. In his most recent word on the subject Sanders again avows that Jesus was not at odds with the Pharisees and proceeds to discuss points which bring Jesus’ words into conformity with what Sanders would see to be pharisaic practice—as based upon Sander’s own. P. In general Sanders agrees with those who find that Jesus believed himself to be living at the dawn of a New Era.80  . I do take issue with Sanders’s presentation. Sanders. Sanders. Jesus and Judaism (London: SCM Press. He discusses the issues and concludes such to be the case on the bases of his analysis. But that was for the future—in the here and now Sanders concurs that Jesus did not allow that the Torah had been superseded. At least in this regard one can argue that rabbinic law preserves pharisaic traditions to the extant that we find shared laws in New Testament and talmudic literature. The most influential writer on these issues is E. My analysis is based on passages neglected by 8 9 10 E. Sanders. At every step we are faced with pure speculation.

Furthermore. while the rabbinic literature bears witness to their details. the only case I so argue is the case of purities in Mark 7 and Matthew 15. At no point should readers construe me to make any claims that any statements in the Gospels were or were not the ipsissima verba of Jesus. Furthermore. although they were probably not exclusively so. What kinds of ideas were in the traditions that the evangelists inherited? That is the question I ask. even if he criticizes certain Pharisees for many things. I have no claims about what Jesus may have or may not have said. His correction of the Pharisees is not meant as a dismissal of them but as a restatement of the proper law. I will argue we do have examples of classical Midrash in the Gospels. The differences between the formulations is enough to show us that we do not have a copied tradition in rabbinic literature but we have the record of a more ancient corpus of material. Indeed. Where shared idiom and law occur between the words of Jesus and teachings preserved in rabbinic literature I posit that this is not mere coincidence. My position on these issues is quite simple. In this chapter. One can show certain phrases used in the New Testament . I am interested in the Gospel accounts and their meanings. My work is more probing and I think more cogent. of which his interlocutors did not show a proper awareness. nor that the Rabbis copied the ideas out of the New Testament. I do not allow myself the luxury of claiming retrojections unless I can document how the pericope was formed and find the pieces from which it was formulated and argue cogently the passages are post Jesus and artificial. whose antiquity the Gospels attest. but always in an attempt to uncover the primal sense of the words apart from how the Gospel writers present them in context. One assumption I make should be made clear. which Sanders also does but on grounds of probability rather than strict textual analysis. one of them being that they do not even know their own laws. Jesus uses hermeneutical methods which we find in rabbinic literature and that I will refer to as pharisaic. I will argue that the Jesus we meet in the Gospels is very aware of pharisaic law and in general does not criticize it. There are many critiques of Sanders’s work in detail that one might raise but in principle his assertion about the nature of the debates between Jesus and the Pharisees is accurate.     81 Sanders that are not subject to the same criticisms one might level at Sander’s somewhat general or ambiguous discussions.

accounts of aspects of Israelite life take for granted that S.13 The issue therefore cannot focus upon whether or not the Mishnah in diverse details draws upon established rules of jurisprudence. There could be no objection to using the one to help elucidate the other in regards to individual rules. Should one want to press on and then make or deny identifications based on the shared information one might do so. 11 . I have not done so here because that is not the topic of this book. We are dealing with traditions and not groups. Nothing I say here should be taken as evidence beyond the specific claims made in this book. details of rules in the law codes found in the library of the Essene community of Qumran intersect with details of rules in the Mishnah. He tells us outright in his Judaic Law from Jesus to the Mishnah.” JQR [old series] 12 (1900) 415–33. There are places in rabbinic literature that we can show predate the Rabbis by centuries.12 Jacob Neusner has summarized the well-known findings that mishnaic law has ancient sources but is configured into a legal system of its own integrity. Schechter. Yet another mode of demonstrating that facts in the Mishnah’s system derive from a period substantially prior to that in which the Mishnah reached closure carries us to the data provided by document redacted long before the Mishnah.  are simply Greek counterparts of Hebrew or Jewish-Aramaic phrases extant in rabbinic literature.82  . It is obvious that rabbinic literature is heir to the same culture that informs the Gospels. Schechter is a fine piece and outlines a cogent approach to the topic. More interesting still. “Rabbinic parallels to the New Testament. The use of rabbinic literature to throw light on passages in the Gospels stands apart from any identifications of Pharisees and Rabbis that may or may not be implied in this light.11 We can use rabbinic literature to speak of these things and need not even get into the issue as to the relationship between Rabbis and Pharisees. Judaic Law from Jesus to the Mishnah (Atlanta: Scholars Press. Neusner. It assuredly does. 13 J. 12 I do believe an argument can be made for the overlapping of institutions distinguishing both Pharisees and Rabbis but that discussion will need to wait for a further monograph. He notes that the gospels preserve laws that are also preserved in the Mishnah. The culture and religion of Israel did not cease with the destruction of the Temple in 70 and there is every reason to believe that where rabbinic literature relates legal matters that we find in the Gospels that we are dealing with a common culture. For one example. 1993) 18. The article by S.

for the one who forgives others’ trespasses against himself. Scripture would not frivolously repeat words to no end. The Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees. with the rules that occur in prior law codes. not merely the datum that a writ of divorce severs the tie between wife and husband.     83 issues lively in the Mishnah came under debate long before the closure of the Mishnah. or topics dealt with. For instance. the Mishnah gives us dozens of rules that in topic. 17a. Philo. That fact yields one incontrovertible result. the talmudic Amoraim14 know that God is likely to forgive the sins of those who forgive others who trespass against them. the verse should be read in 15 14 . even though it presently appears that only a small proportion of all of the rules in the Mishnah fall within the frame of prior documents. Neusner goes on to say that the final product of Mishnah gives us a reworking of the sources that is total and creates new structures from the inherited materials. or even mere detail bear no comparison to anything now known in a prior composition.”15 Now.!” The talmudic Rabbis however reformulate the phrase to mean. 16 For the Jewish exegetes whether Josephus. whether narrative or legislative. wherever possible. For every rule we can parallel in an earlier composition. encompass rules of law. the situation changes when we look closely at the talmudic passage. . logic. It follows that not only isolated facts but critical matters of jurisprudential philosophy came to the surface long before the closure of the Mishnah. Qumranites. lt is. That is certainly the case. Thus. just as we find in the “Lord’s prayer. remote or proximate.”16 See b. “Thou dost pardon sins. We can only add to Neusner’s analysis that the Amoraim had also inherited ancient materials. (The sole exception. wherever possible. namely. That is the case. . Rabbis. comes under analysis in the next section. .) Details of the law. Rosh Hash. important to the Mishnah. See Matt 6:12. still must stand in comparison with equivalent details in earlier documents. Here we find the basis for this statement is a phrase in Mic 7:18. and were able to fit them into the system of the Mishnah or in certain cases interpret the Mishnah in light of the ancient sources and neglect the new formulations of the Mishnah. while this is not in itself any spectacular discovery. The matter of grounds for divorce proves important to sages whose names occur in the Mishnah . for instance. among others. from Sumerian and Akkadian to Essene and Christian writers alike. whether lsraelite or otherwise. . “The pardoner of sins and the forgiver of trespasses . the Hebrew Scripture’s law codes. The Mishnah’s rules have to come into juxtaposition.

The study of Mishnah is but one resource for tapping into the antique rules trapped for whatever reason in the pages of the Gospels. The models of the enterprise as portrayed by others of the “Midrash as literature” schools must be set aside for the history of Midrash as evident in New Testament.  Thus we see two things: The Amoraim preserve traditions which are attested hundreds of years before their time and also we can find the basis of the prayer found in the New Testament and its scriptural underpinnings. Here we set aside other trends as well. Hebrew rhetorical criticism. as opposed to the more frequently used Greek models. Jesus: Light from Rabbinic Literature on Transfiguring Some Motifs from Judaism to Christianity In the Synoptic Gospels we find a well-attested tradition reaching back to strata of very early Jesus-traditions. The study of later works is also valuable. Let us look at one example from aggadic materials which has not been discussed in connection with the transfiguration narratives of the Gospels. paralleled expression. can have more cogent results. “Forgive us for we have sinned!” or “Forgive us for Thou art merciful. One might have thought proper prayer should say. The section of narrative such a way to expose one cogent idea and not simply a repetitive. Literary criticism of the new school will not help here to clarify anything. The approach continues the scholarship of those scholars who still care to apply Midrash on its own terms to writings that utilized the same idiom and form as Midrash.” Why should we say to God that we are the standard of what God must do and if we forgive others so he should forgive us too? Now we see a biblical verse lies behind the exhortation and so we see that the Midrash on the verse (known from Babylonian sources redacted centuries later than the New Testament) is prior to the New Testament prayer that presumes it. This latter point is important.84  . As one reads the present work. In all cases it is important not only to establish the probable sense of a passage but also to show how this meaning fits smoothly into the Gospel paragraph at hand. the use of Midrash and other rabbinic sources for uncovering the meaning of New Testament passages emerges as a necessary step in the reading of the Gospels. Elijah. Moses. .

There is not much to learn for our purposes from these listings. Wertheimer’s Batei Midrashot (1950) we do find occasional references to all three. My first goal is to discuss the attitudes prevalent in Judaism that would have found a context for the figures of Moses and Elijah and the Messiah. 18 With the exception of Midrash Esther. Given the evidence of the Gospel accounts of the transfiguration we should see the likelihood that our Midrash from the Book of Psalms is most useful in understanding the background of the various components in the Synoptic Gospels. This case will be discussed below in some detail. the only Midrashim I have found concerning Moses and Elijah are those which compare the two. The traditions apparently have developed differently within their respective traditions and we should not posit direct borrowings. But these Midrashim just show us that the patterns of Elijah’s life follow those of Moses (who accordingly is sometimes called the teacher of Elijah). Then Jesus begins to shine and his garments turn shining white and dazzle everyone. A. 4 one will find many. 19 Messianic motifs in rabbinic literature that do not deal with the personages of Moses or Elijah are excluded from the discussion.19 17 In later medieval Midrashim collected in J. I have found at least six in Tanhuma and at least another ten in Midrash Rabba and sometimes even references to the first redeemer and the last redeemer. In Pesikta Rabbati chap. .     85 that attracts my attention here is the so-called Transfiguration of Jesus (Matt 17:1–8 = Mark 9:2–8 = Luke 9:28–36): Jesus selects three disciples and the four climb a high mountain.18 It happens that the passage in the Midrash to the Book of Psalms is not typically rabbinic as it lacks the prayer and repentance motif and is likely from a source that is much earlier than the rabbinic sources which deal with messianic issues. many comparisons listed in one place. Elijah comes with Moses and they talk to Jesus. D. but we cannot posit much about their antiquity or independence of Christian influence. Eisenstein’s Otzar Midrashim (1915) or in S. Here we can find matters close enough to suggest that rabbinic literature shares some ancient traditions (in connection with Moses and Elijah) with the Gospels. Each Gospel has framed things a little differently and I shall offer a few suggestions as to how to focus upon the intent of the Gospels from rabbinic literature.17 I know of only one explicit reference in rabbinic literature and it comes from the Midrash on the Psalms where the three being presented seriatim.

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I will now illustrate that this scene in the Gospels likely rests upon an exegesis already formed by the first century in which the pattern of redemption has already been set. I do not claim we totally have that exegesis in its pristine form, but we have a form of it that will allow us to see that the elements in the Gospel scenes have a fixed referential point in an interpretation in the Book of Psalms which can explain the various elements present in the Gospels. I cite Midrash Tehillim to Psalm 43, which weaves a story about the verses of this Psalm.20
Psalm 43:2 states: “Why did I walk depressed because of the oppression of the enemy.” [Has not God saved me in the past and does he not tell me now]—Did I not send you redemption (in Egypt) then as it is said: “He SENT Moses, his servant, Aaron whom he CHOSE” (Ps 105:26); and so He sends us another two as their counterparts, as it is said in Ps 43:3: “Send your Light and your Truth they will lead me . . .” So God says to them: I will send you salvation again, as it is said, “Behold I SEND you Elijah the Prophet” (Mal 3:22–23). So now one is named. The second one is “Yea my servant, I shall take hold of him, my CHOSEN one [in whom I shall delight]” (Isa 42:1). Thus does the Psalm say: “Send your Light and your Truth they will lead me; they will bring me to your holy mountain and to your tents” (Ps 43:3).

This is the very pattern of the Gospel account, which has Elijah coming with Moses to meet Jesus. The priestly Aaron, virtually absent from the Synoptics in general, is missing from this scene as well. At any rate, the Psalm-Midrash cites Isa 42:1 and so do the Gospels (especially Luke 9). The heavenly voice identifying Jesus as the beloved son is the climax of this piece. The luminous cloud passes over and announces: “This is my son: my chosen one (= my beloved) and some Gospel versions contain ‘in whom is my delight’ that is to say “the personage” of Isa 42:1. “My chosen one in whom is my delight” is identified as “this”—meaning Jesus and now identified as “my

20 The text I cite is from Yalqut Shimoni to Psalm 43, which contains a slightly different text from S. Buber’s classic edition of Midrash Tehillim (Wilna: Romm, 1891), which offers a hybrid variant of Psalm 43. On text critical grounds, too complicated to explain here, the version I provide should be deemed the earliest version. The Midrash contains early traditions tying Moses, Elijah, and the Chosen One.

    

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son.” The Targum to the Prophets makes no bones about whom Isaiah refers to. It is to my servant the Messiah. The Gospels insist that one is Jesus; not Moses and not Elijah. The point of Isaiah 42, like the issue of Psalm 43, which frames this episode in the Gospels is the judgment of the nations which have persecuted Israel. It is possible that such was the original understanding of this scene. In fact, in the Gospel accounts there is even an attempt to construct tents and Psalm 43 pointedly refers to tents. “They will bring me to your holy mountain and to your tents.” I suspect that the immediate trigger for including this scene in the Gospel tradition is the final word of Psalm 43: Yeshuot panai ve’elohai (“The salvations of my Countenance and my God”), with Yeshuot signifying Jesus. Many biblical citations are quoted in the Gospels which contain the word yeshua which means salvation (and Yeshu was a common pronunciation of Yehoshua, i.e., Jesus) in them somewhere in proximity to the quoted citation and this is but another case. Yet, it is not Psalm 43 itself that is evoked in the Gospels but the Midrash on the Psalm and its figures of Moses and Elijah and its messianic references to Isa 42:1. Note also the motif of “Light” signifying a messianic figure. In the Gospel account of the meeting of Jesus with Moses and Elijah, Jesus becomes luminous. The elements of the transfiguration scene are all accounted for now and this midrashic model provides more answers than does any other model. This Midrash occurs in what critical scholars of Midrash would term a late source. Nevertheless there is a line of unique, similar constellations that connects the Gospel account to the Midrash. Since the Midrash is framed within a verse whose exegetical framework is sufficient (and in some ways necessary as well) to explain the details in the Gospel accounts, I suggest the exegetical context, in fact, lies behind the Gospel narrative. The chance of coincidence or of direct borrowing from the Gospels is very low, the chance of a common ancestor is quite reasonable. Besides, while there are sufficient similarities to suggest a relationship, there are also sufficient differences to rule out direct borrowing. The Gospel accounts show us how Jewish traditions can become utilized for Christian purposes. This is not the case in regard to halakhah ( Judicial legislation not found in Scriptures). In the case of halakhah, the scribal law virtually stands as presented by Jesus in the Gospels—and it is not for Christian purposes. Let us look at the debate forms, which we now have in the Gospels and in our remaining

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time focus on one legal debate to see how the Gospels preserve authentic halakhic material presented in the mouth of Jesus.

Jesus-Pharisee Debates on the Sabbath The time of the Jewish Sabbath ranks as the foremost time of importance in the Jewish religion. For Jews, no other day must be observed as so thoroughly holy as the Sabbath must be. On that day Israel and God meet in sacredness. This is the day to be dedicated to spiritual attainments. From the days of the prophets advice was set forth on how to best derive the maximum religious benefit from the Sabbath. Isaiah 58:13–14 shows concern for proper behavior, which would express proper attitudes towards the Holy Sabbath day. To look at the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath in the light of Jewish teachings may help us understand the behavior and attitudes to which these accounts testify and also show us the antiquity of laws which otherwise might be mistaken for late rabbinic innovations. In all cases it is likely that Jesus’ healing in itself constitutes nothing that many Scribes and Pharisees would have found as breaking Torah law. We do not know if the sources which speak for Jesus may have envisioned that he condoned breaking the Sabbath for all types of healing.21 The sources may argue only from the point of view of Jesus’ opponents, but not from Jesus’ own view, to convince Pharisees that Jesus has acted according to their own rules. It is a puzzle that the Gospel of Mark offers no defense of Jesus’ behavior but only the condemnation of his opponents. We must assume that Mark would have his chap. 7 diatribe against “human law”22 which uproots “divine biblical rules of assistance” serve the purpose generally to dismiss all scribal law. Nothing more is necessary. Mark is different from Luke and Matthew who usually try to argue within the parameters of scribal law. While Matt 15:1–9 also has a passage parallel to Mark 7 to dismiss the force of scribal traditions, Matthew still tries to offer a
21 Even physically amputating where there was no possible danger in waiting until nightfall. 22 The important point is to see that there were two sets of laws operative for the Pharisees, Torah rules and Scribal enactments. Some examples of scribal enactments that are important for the understanding of Mark can be found in t. Kelim and t. B. Mesia 3.

23 He suggests that the pharisaic opponents are not portrayed to be as learned in Jewish law as was Jesus. it is specific to the case (certain vows) discussed and no more. Matthew sees Jesus as considerate of many scribal laws. Since Matthew does this we have no choice but to understand that for Matthew the diatribe against human law is not just the example which condemns all scribal law as it is in Mark. That 23 See J. Matthew has the very polemic found in Mark 7 but he offers pharisaic rationales to defend Jesus in all other instances.24 The defense strategy is different from Gospel to Gospel. 24 Our investigation will show us that concepts in Jewish law spoken about widely in the 17th century. N. Mark relies on a dismissal of these categories since ab initio all pharisaic law contravenes Torah commandments concerning helping others. Epstein. There is no strong tradition about him rejecting scribal ideas concerned with healing on the Sabbath.     89 scribal defense of Jesus’ healing: Why do the Pharisees complain? Even according to their own laws I have done nothing wrong. The precise apologetic is different in each of the Gospels. N. Surely these are simply wicked people looking for excuses to condemn me. such as respect due to parents. In brief. Epstein had noted that many of Jesus’ reported retorts in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are consonant with sources in Mishnah and Tosefta. Mark is not interested in Jesus defending any of his actions based on scribal laws or scribal reasoning. mentioned spottily in the 14th century (as standing behind 5thcentury talmudic argument) seem already popular in the first century. Nevertheless each Gospel presents its own justifications in terms acceptable to rabbinic categories save for Mark. 1957) 280–81. Hence his Jesus will engage in pharisaic reasoning. J. Prolegomena ad Litteras Tannitica ( Jerusalem: Magnes. Mark’s Jesus seems to dismiss pharisaic reasoning as wrong ab initio since he never engages in scribal argument on its own terms. there was a strong tradition that Jesus rejected only those scribal ideas of vows that interfere with Torah social obligation. Then Jesus offers defenses that meet the requirements of scribal categories. The Pharisees in the debates presume that Jesus is in error. It would thus seem that the wordings of the subject matter of debates between Jesus and Pharisees were discussed in the early churches and then adjusted to best reconstruction. . While there is widely attested criticism and defense of Jesus’ healing actions in three Gospel accounts there is none in Mark.

even though they are inconsistent.1 is discussed in b. 28 This “public silence” as to when Rabbinic law might be mitigated was justified on the basis that divine honor was at stake. This literary juxtaposition accomplishes what received tradition did not even imply.28 New Testament See Matt 23:2. Jesus is criticized by those who believe he has transgressed scribal law and Jesus points out that he. Thus the placing of the oath and vow controversy in the midst of Jesus’ healing is designed to highlight Jesus moral character as a healer. 27 t. Jesus and the Pharisees were enemies.90  .. 14.. generally. The total effect on the reader is to give the impression that healing rules. A pharisaic Jesus would make no sense to him. indeed all scribal rules are dismissed. 26 25 . all or even most scribal law is to be discarded. has not. Matthew has combined both approaches. to protect people from mistakenly transgressing biblical laws. 123b. I.25 Scribal Tradition The Mishnah and Tosefta record many Sabbath rulings that were prohibited by Scribes but not considered prohibited by Torah law.g. These rules are of man made origin—and each of these laws had a rationale and a hierarchy of importance in the total scheme of things.e. has no defenses of Jesus’ Sabbath healing may simply indicate Mark understood religion to be defined by confrontation. and he would never allow. Shab. the scribes legislated instances when animals and certain utensils would be forbidden to be handled on the Sabbath. which mentions that both the Palestinian and Babylonian authorities date the laws of “muktseh” to Second Temple times.  is to say. Mark places this singular diatribe into the context of Jesus’ healing. These rules were circulated and practiced but not frequently discussed. That Mark. Certain priorities of urgency can override scribal rules in certain circumstances.27 Since these types of decrees discuss Temple practices. Shab. that for Jesus. Mark follows another tradition and records a received diatribe against those scribal “purity and vow” laws that appear to contradict divine authority as found in Scripture. the firm Palestinian and Babylonian traditions claiming these date to Second Temple times are warranted. in truth. The Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses. e. The Tosefta discusses the origins of scribal “muktseh type”26 prohibitions.

the president of the synagogue quoted Exod 31:15 to him. 30 m.     91 writings such as the expression in Matt 12:11 “seizing and lifting” would seem to confirm the impression of the antiquity of these laws. they were overridden in ways commensurate with scribal priorities. Jesus responds by mentioning a law involving relaxing scribal injunctions against untying real knots that are untied daily.30 Are we supposed to think that the Gospels make no distinction between scribal 29 The prohibition of muktseh is that of seizing and lifting (tiltul ) objects that are in categories that preclude normal handling on the Sabbath. Was it a Torah Law? The official. “Six days work may be done.29 Scribal law was accorded very deep respect and not easily allowed to be disregarded. Sforno (sixteenth-century Jewish Italian Bible commentator) comments here: “When it is possible to do a commandment on another day. Shab. Apparently Jesus broke some law. Amongst other things we see the Sages permitted bundles of sheaves to be untied (a rabbinic prohibition) for the sake of feeding one’s animal. I suggest we retrovert the Hebrew to mean “Six days he may be repaired through work. Thus even when certain rules were overridden.” This is the objection. cites Scripture. we will have to assume that the accusation against him was only that he transgressed some scribal laws. Relax this minor law rather than another. easing pain to animals. The Problem The problem in the Synoptics is that we do not know the precise accusation against Jesus. 24:2. . the Sabbath is not moved aside for it. The principal reasons adduced by the majority of authorities to suspend scribal laws forbidding lifting/moving animals or non-prepared utensils (items not set aside before the Sabbath specifically for use on the Sabbath) were for the sake of: enabling important good deeds such as Sabbath Torah study or Sabbath hospitality. However in Luke 13:14.” This leads one to believe that he was criticized for desecrating biblical laws. calming people about loss of belongings. as we noted. What is Jesus accused of? Since his defenses argue from those occasions in which the Pharisees themselves also appear to have relaxed scribal law.” This is the sense that is intended—Jesus is criticized for repairing people on the Sabbath.

23. It still may be possible to think the charge against Jesus for healing on the Sabbath was one of breaking Torah law. 'Ed.  and Torah law? Do they think all Sabbath law is of the same authority. 32 31 . 1:8 might have us believe that correcting a nonfunctioning human organ on the Sabbath. 53b. 33 Such things are discussed as generally permissible in t. Jesus heals by touching. grinding. see b. On the other hand there are reasons to say the opposite—in respect to a person who is in pain. These acts were known from pharisaic ideas concerning the Oral Bible. the cases in 'Eduyot seem to be ones in which something physical is made in the body to relieve a non-vital irritation. Cf. might constitute an act of prohibitions of the Oral Bible of “fixing” or “building. In the cases presented in the Gospels no incisions or reconstructions were made in the organs or flesh. It was agreed that (oral) biblical acts of healing that were forbidden on the Sabbath included boiling. according to the Gospel.31 The Solution Let us now ask ourselves. If so. He mended a body. Lest one come to violate the biblical law by permitting grinding medicines unnecessarily.33 I should think the Gospels are dealing with rabbinic strictures against Sabbath healing where there is no need It is doubtful this is the case for reasons we will now discuss. all rabbinic laws32 and biblical laws are in force in respect to this person. argued the other side of the in-house debate which held that certain acts of healing which did not transgress biblical laws were permitted. cutting etc. Shab. where there was no danger of the condition worsening. 101a. the New Testament arguments are not persuasive. Perhaps we are to think that Jesus is specifically accused of violating Torah law. Sanh. and these were not the subject of the debate.92  . b. 7. However. The arguments would fall apart. all laws are suspended for his welfare. Shab. lighting. Jesus. “Precisely what upset his opponents in his actions?” There are talmudic passages that lend themselves to the idea that if a condition will not at all worsen until the close of the Sabbath.” That possibility certainly exists. m. Relaxing a rabbinic injunction is not the same as relaxing an Oral Torah law.

cited Exod 31:15. it should be relaxed for humans as well in cases of benign conditions. according to Matthew and Luke. he reached the same rule of behavior described by Rabbi Kagan (early 20th century). Jesus thus justified his own behavior in a halachically acceptable way. In other words. What was taken as pertinent to biblical law would serve the category of scribal law as well. in Luke 13:14. The Rhetoric The rhetorical features of many Gospel debates are cast in this mold: Statement of opponent’s ANALOGOUS legal practice as a question: “Is not this your practice in similar cases to our discussion?” Conclusion: Therefore you must agree with me to be consistent. He was not only referring to biblical laws but also to rabbinic ones which had the framework of Exod 31:15. The defenses offered in the synoptic Gospels of Luke and Matthew seem to address scribal/rabbinic issues of the Sabbath and not Torah ones. The verse served as a kind of general reference to those occasions to which the scribal laws might be applied. They are on the surface quite viable. Since scribal law was relaxed for animals. Here the literal words of the verse are redundant “Sabbath-Sabbatical” and the Sages of scribal law saw here a secondary reference to rules to be added by the Rabbis to ensure Sabbath observance on its purest level. The president of the synagogue. Although the common and popular rule was that no manner of healing for benign cases was permitted. . Jesus thought that the teaching was erroneous that proclaimed no healing34 might be done on the Sabbath when the condition was benign. In close detail we see how what is being addressed fits a standard form: 34 Even where biblical law was kept intact.     93 to heal on the Sabbath itself. Jesus declared this rule to be contradictory to scribal law. for different reasons. in order to remind Jesus that the Scribes also did not relax their laws except in cases which could not be deferred until the night after the Sabbath day.

. Let us now see how this form operates in the Gospels. while no defense is given in Mark. The Sadducees complain about pharisaic practice of not venerating certain scrolls revered by some groups. which was noted above. it can also for medieval and modern ones.36 Statement of ANALOGOUS Legal Practice as a Question: If you have a single sheep and it falls into a hole on the Sabbath.35 A body of tradition has emanated from ancient communities and is still recognizable and traceable today. Understood Conclusion: We can now both agree that I am correct. we have the ideal argument form. 36 While he too is cured in Luke and Mark. aside from the cute phonic similarity. Here. with which they will agree. Matthew Matthew 12:10–13. 4:5 echoes this form precisely. The Sadducees are given an example from their own revered High Priest. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai asks them if they do not revere the bones of their own revered High Priest more than they would a donkey’s bones and then provides the argument that they must likewise agree with the pharisaic practice that was challenged. in its essentials. Jesus’ defense in Luke is offered in two other cases. is much more ancient than the post-70 Rabbis. This clinches the argument. do you not lay hold of it and lift it out? Argument: A person is worth more than a sheep whose pain you do ease on the Sabbath.94  . The implicit argument is that the works under discussion (homoros—probably those Torah Scrolls used by the ‘foolish’ nation = ho moros of Samaritans ) have the value of donkey bones (hamor).  Legal assumption: (a) Something indeed looks problematic and in general your position is right. Yad. 1. 35 Not only can the New Testament confirm the antiquity of legal principles of early Rabbis. (b) Here by analogy is why this case is an exception. Scribal law as we know it. The Pharisiac-Sadducean argument in m. Apologetic for curing on the Sabbath a man with a shriveled hand. Given this state of affairs we need to evaluate those laws mentioned in the Gospels that a modern student of Jewish Law would still recognize and on this basis look at the hermeneutic and rhetoric of New Testament passages.

    

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Conclusion: Therefore one may legally render aid on the Sabbath to ease pain for a person. Legal Assumption: (a) Touching and lifting a sheep constitutes a Sabbath infringement. (b) Because of the value of the sheep and the need to reduce its pain the infringement is overridden. Understood Conclusion: All healing which helps a human being is permitted on the Sabbath.

2. Luke Luke 14:3–5. Apologetic for curing a man on the Sabbath who was swollen with fluids.
Statement of ANALOGOUS Legal Practice as a Question: If your donkey or ox falls in a well on Sabbath, do you not pull it out immediately? Understood legal argument: All the more so humans may be helped. Legal Assumption: (a) It is forbidden to lift out a donkey or an ox on the Sabbath. (b) In order to relieve the animal’s pain the infringement is overridden. Understood Conclusion: Healing to relieve pain is permissible.

Discussion The earliest extant specific teachings concerning an animal stuck in a pit on the Sabbath are found in the Damascus Document (CD 11:13): If an animal falls into a cistern or into a well let him not pull it out on the Sabbath. A post-New Testament record found in t. Shab. 14.3 states: if an animal falls into a pit, then one should feed it food there (i.e., but not extricate it) so that it should not die. The Babylonian Amoraim thought that this meant if the animal could stay comfortably then one should feed it in its place, but if it would cause the animal pain to stay put then it could be removed even though this would entail infringing upon a minor scribal decree. See b. Shab. 128b. They followed the reasoning that animal pain had to be absolutely relieved by Torah decree (Exod 23:5 concerning an animal under stress states “You shall surely help”) and this Torah injunction could override some scribal prohibitions of the Sabbath. Although we have no Tannaitic statements like this, the antiquity of the late Babylonian Amoraic tradition is born out by the early New Testament statement of Jesus. The practice of alleviating pain for

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 . 

animals stuck in pits dates to Second Temple times, although the written Jewish sources are attested relatively late. The point is that the early Damascus Document and the later Tosefta do not mention any permission to extricate the animal although the Tosefta implies that steps should be taken if the animal is in danger of dying. Not until the later age of the Babylonian Amoraim do we find that where an animal is in pain methods might be adopted to extricate it even though scribal decrees might be infringed. That is the evidence of the Jewish sources. When we look at Christian sources we find the very same laws as in the Talmud allowing extrication but these sources are centuries earlier than the talmudic ones. One possible conclusion is that the Gospels preserve ancient rulings that were passed down orally within Judaism until they were set down by the Rabbis quite late. Is this actually the case? Let us show it is. Animals are categorized as “non-Sabbath items” and thus not to be moved.37 Since the New Testament uses the expression “lay hold of and lift” we see the problem is one of scribal “muktseh”—“animals are not set aside for Sabbath use” and so must not be taken and lifted. The Scribes prescribed that “muktseh” items are not to be taken and lifted. In the need to justify a teaching the Babylonian Talmud reveals there could be a rule of hefsed meruba (substantial loss).38 The Talmud posited that if something was of small value it could not be rescued by over-riding scribal law.39 This is said to be the idea behind m. Shab. 24:1. We now infer that where something was of great value it could be rescued and, if necessary, even at the expense of scribal law.40 The passages dealing with alleviating animal pain can be found in b. Shab. 128b. That scribal prohibitions are overridden in cases of doing important good deeds is discussed in m. Shab. 18:1 and the commentaries of the Talmuds on it. These insights gathered over the centuries place the Gospels within a tradition much closer to the thinking patterns of rabbinic Judaism not only of antiquity but of later times. That is to say that the life force of Judaism that gets into written form at certain points can be some much more ancient
See b. Shab. 128b and t. Shab. 15.1. Permission to override scribal Sabbath Law where an object is of great value to its owner. 39 See b. Shab. 154b. 40 See b. Shab. 153a.
38 37

    

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than the written evidence suggests. That is so because the thought patterns and the principles are well established and similar answers to similar problems are either independently arrived at or handed down more or less verbatim. At any rate there can be no doubt that the New Testament sources are concerned with issues of rabbinic decrees and so too in the case of healing. In fact, the Damascus document refers to two types of pits an animal might fall into. There are two versions of the Tosefta which have different words for “pit.” Matthew and Luke have variant wordings for “pit.” Not only is the tradition similar throughout the sources, the variant readings are too. 3. Matthew 12:1–8 = Mark 2:23–28 = Luke 6:1–5 On picking sheaves. The story reads as follows:
At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; his disciples [plucked and ate some ears of grain, rubbing them in their hands (Luke’s version)] were hungry and they began to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the House of God and ate the Shew Bread, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? [Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the Temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you something greater than the Temple is here, and if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the guiltless (Matthew’s version)]. And he said to them, [“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark’s version)]. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

All the problems, textual and conceptual, inherent in unraveling Jesus/Pharisee debates can be found in this one example. It seems that the Evangelists had little idea about the details of Jewish laws, and only by careful analysis can we establish what lay behind their words. I will deal with this example at length for it shows us that what Christian theologians have seen as radical “Son of Man overruling cruel Biblical prohibitions” is the product of the Gospels’ literary layer but not the prior source. We must note that in all cases in legal debates about Sabbath in the Synoptics, the question of dispute revolves around scribal laws and whether or not the questioning Pharisees know these laws as well as they think they do. The

” as the prelude to “For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” is missing in Matthew. b. No other Gospel claims this. It follows that what is described in the Gospels would be forbidden by a scribal prohibition and not a biblical one. but human consumption is another matter). Shab. we must assume Luke’s version is an ancient one which he simply preserved. 103a records a very early tradition that specifies the types of plants that are forbidden by biblical law to be plucked and ears of grain are not mentioned. When people pluck out grain for themselves. 9 list the items which cannot be plucked for weeding or animal consumption. since they are in the presence of the Son of Man. Matthew claims the Torah tells about Temple sacrifices on the Sabbath. contains examples of the rabbinic rules of “shinui” (change from regular manner) to show specifically that rubbing kernels of ripened grain to eat was unusual. and it seems likely that Matthew’s version was added for explanation. b. then push out the kernel of wheat in an unusual or rare circumstance. “And he said to them. probably unaware of its import. Matthew has instead provided his own understanding of the saying by prefacing it with the notice that priests may profane the Sabbath in the Temple.” . threshing methods in use at the time. Shab. 128a and t. thus the disciples may also.98  . Ears of grain were not usually plucked one by one from fields as against the more common harvesting. Shab. We must therefore accept Luke’s detail here as original: the disciples rubbed them. we will have to disregard Matthew’s claim about reading this in Scripture and assume this claim is trivial and only there by function of its resonation with “Have you not read what David did?” These words are to help us understand the final line—“the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath. Furthermore this tradition notes that in fields not belonging to the plucker one would not transgress the prohibition of clearing and pruning fields. Another source. Such unusual acts were not considered biblical prohibitions. Besa 13b. the biblical Sabbath rules are not violated (b.  debate about eating in the fields is of this order too. We also note that Matthew says nothing about plucking which he might have understood as some kind of prohibition in this circumstance. However. Since Luke has shown no stake in his Gospel about distinguishing scribal laws from biblical ones. In Mark we must assume that the paired plucking and rubbing of the kernels is to show they were hard and taken from the field in an ad hoc way.

Conclusion The upshot of this entire discussion is simply to argue that much of the Gospels require the use of rabbinic literature for their proper understanding and the Gospels sometimes can shed light on the history of legal developments within the Judaic tradition. overriding laws is now found in the model. which must mean his own presence on the scene demands more watchfulness than the presence of Temple authorities in the Temple would—and so the scribal infringement would not apply in this case either. It is not clear the Pharisees were thrilled by this answer. the scores of commentaries. Again. except they must have been preserved to show Jesus’ mastery of Jewish law and humane application of it. . as rendered by the Targum. Jesus argues the Son of Man is greater than the Temple. Amazingly.     99 Let us look at this closely.41 41 On the basis of messianic prophecy in Zech 14:21. but they have been assured by the type of argument that the infringement is of a scribal nature and there was supervision to see that no biblical laws were violated. books. if seen out of their later literary contexts. It is a talmudic principle that whatever the scribes enact must follow biblical models. Jesus’ banishing moneychangers from the Temple is neither subversive nor an anti-purity act (and perhaps not historical). we now may explain Matt 21:1 = Mark 11:15 = John 2:15. lest our work fall prey to anachronism. The defense of Jesus is precisely to the point: we know David properly overrode biblical law. Although rigorous criteria are required. So this shows indeed scribal laws can be infringed where there is watchfulness (the awe of the Temple itself provides such). the scribes allowed that in the Temple. Furthermore. much scribal law was suspended because they assumed the Temple authorities would be careful and watchful that no biblical ones would come to be infringed. but a symbolic messianic sign in fulfillment of Zech 14:21 and its reference to the Feast of Tabernacles. There is nothing at all to learn from these debates. the mutually clarifying nature of the materials under review recommend systematic exegetical comparison. and so we know biblical law can be superseded. there would be little warrant here for any condemnation save that the Pharisees would not have accepted Jesus’ claim that his presence would guarantee no laws would be broken. and articles on the Gospels have missed this point.

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Pharisees. But such thinking is unnuanced.” 99. see B. “The Gospels and Rabbinic Literature. Because ruling priests plotted against Jesus. in which scribes and Pharisees figure prominently in the controversy stories. Chilton. and ruling priests. From this error it is then sometimes assumed that halakic disputes concerning Sabbath law and questions of purity. is refreshing and is in step with critical scholarship in this field. and often erroneous.”1 Basser’s recognition of the mutually clarifying function of the earlier Gospels and the later rabbinic literature.3 Jesus’ halakic disputes (and haggadic disputes 1 2 H. Basser’s contribution helpfully steers us in a more promising direction. and the Gospels sometimes can shed light on the history of legal developments within the Judaic tradition. a dispute which occasioned the decision to move against Jesus with deadly force. Sadducees. D. Christian interpreters have in the past uncritically lumped together rabbis. 3 On this matter. The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program Within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University Park: Pennsylvania State University. as though they all represented more or less a common understanding of Judaism. which always requires methodological rigor. Apart from a serious dispute with the ruling priests in the Temple precincts. See the Selected Bibliography assembled at the end of this brief response. Evans Professor Basser’s paper scores several interesting and incisive points. misleading.RECONSTRUCTING THE HALAKAH OF JESUS: APPROPRIATING EARLY AND LATE SOURCES Craig A. it is sometimes assumed that scribes and Pharisees were equally involved.2 I am also impressed by his recommendation that we view Jesus’ halakic disputes with Pharisees and other religious teachers within the context of (and not over against or in opposition to) a rabbinicPharisaic framework of discussion and debate. His concluding remark is certainly correct: “The upshot of this entire discussion is simply to argue that much of the Gospels requires the use of rabbinic literature for their proper understanding. scribes. had as much to do with the motives for doing away with Jesus as anything else. . Basser.

Simon the Pharisee) has been forgiven. makes this point clear if read in context and without the prior assumption that all Pharisees are hypocritical reprobates.e.e. The younger son. who in the parable is surely meant to portray the “toll collectors and sinners. presumably abandons the Jewish faith.” BBR 3 (1993) 93–110. The latter parable has nothing positive to say about the younger son. He therefore “loves little. The parable reads: “ ‘A certain creditor had two debtors. more complex Parable of the Prodigal Son (vv. but there is no reason to doubt seriously that this artificial context truly reflects criticisms that Jesus encountered: “All the toll collectors and sinners were gathered to him to hear him. ‘This one accepts sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:1–2). In answer to this criticism Jesus tells three parables: the Parable of the Lost Sheep (vv. he forgave them both. The parable implies that not only the person whose debt is great (i. So both the Pharisees and the scribes were murmuring.” cuts a negative figure in 1992) 91–111. The Parable of the Two Debtors in Luke 7:36–50. but the person whose debt is much smaller (i. A. questioning. the “sinful” woman). and counter-questioning that is ubiquitous in the rabbinic literature. Evans. Which of them therefore will love him more?’ Simon answered and said. disgraces his father. Christians may find this surprising. and the longer.. .  also) with Pharisees were for the most part of a non-lethal variety. but because his sins have been relatively few. Luke creates a literary and theological context for these parables. 8–10). ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more. 11–32). and lives a wanton. one owed five hundred denarii. C. the Parable of the Lost Coin (vv. the other fifty. ‘You have judged rightly’” (Luke 7:41–43). but there is significant evidence that Jesus regarded many of the scribes and Pharisees as righteous. He selfishly turns his back on his family.102  .. his experience of forgiveness. has been limited. Simon has been forgiven and so stands righteous before God. saying. where Jesus assures the (former) sinful woman that her sins—“which are many”— are forgiven and that her faith has saved her. sinful life. They reflect the type of lively debate. When they could not repay their debts.’ He said to him.” We find the same assumption at work in the parables of the lost in Luke 15. abandons the land of Israel. 4–7). “Jesus and the ‘Cave of Robbers’: Toward a Jewish Context for the Temple Action. correspondingly.

The halakic disputes between Jesus and the Pharisees should be read in this light. tabernacles. I do have one important suggestion regarding method. He criticizes his father for celebrating the prodigal’s return in such a lavish fashion. the Torah-observant Jews of Jesus’ day. The only thing he does right is to repent.     103 every way. which is worked out in an intriguing midrash in the Midrash on the Psalms (or Shohar Tov) on Psalm 43. 32). But before looking to later texts. mountain. In much of the Gospels we have allusions to Old Testament language and imagery. He must understand that it is necessary to rejoice and be happy that his wayward. stays at home and helps his father. His only shortcoming is that he is unable to rejoice over his younger brother’s repentance and restoration. The collocation of light. the sending of Elijah and the “chosen one” of Isa 42:1. who in the parable portrays the “Pharisees and scribes. Basser’s approach to the halakic tradition is consistent with this recommendation. in which the person and/or clothing of the Messiah is described as shining. the father. 31). is fascinating and calls for investigation. assures him: “Child. These two Lukan parables make it clear that Jesus regarded the scribes and Pharisees. Mark’s account reads: . The story of the Transfiguration is replete with words and images drawn from the Sinai story of Exodus. you are always with me. Their only fault lay in not rejoicing in the repentance of non-Torah observant Jews. at least most of them. but to admonish them to rejoice with Jesus and to accept the wayward to whom Jesus ministers. He who was dead is now alive again (v. works hard. the older son. He relates the Synoptic account of the Transfiguration of Jesus to an interesting midrashic tradition. But despite this fault. as righteous. as well as explicit quotations and paraphrases. He is responsible. In contrast. it is necessary to consider Old Testament antecedents. The luminosity of the transfigured Jesus certainly does invite the comparison that Basser recommends. is the perfect son. It pertains especially to Professor Basser’s first comparative-exegetical example. who in the parable represents God. These parables are not meant to drive off the Pharisees. lost younger brother is now found. The restoration of the younger son takes nothing away from the older son (anymore than forgiving a huge debt takes away from forgiving a smaller debt). at least some of them. and all that is mine is yours” (v.” that is.

84–85). 31). 19. The two witnesses of Rev 11:3–12 could very well be Moses and Elijah (on Moses. 9). 5 The closest parallel is probably to the shining face of Moses (Exod 34:30). one the first of all the prophets. and takes them up into a high mountain by themselves. Rab. “This is my Son the beloved. 30) appeared. (2) the cloud that covers the mountain (Mark 9:7. it is good that we are here. compare vv. and the other the last of all the prophets: Moses first and Elijah last. and a voice came out of the cloud. (4) three companions (Mark 9:2.” .104 2And  . Exod 24:16). and one for Elijah. .) According to one rabbinic midrash. (3) God’s voice from the cloud (Mark 9:7. Exod 24:16). see Dan 12:3. which appears to be dependent on Revelation 11. 2 Kgs 2:1]” (Pesiq. You find that Moses and Elijah were alike in every respect. on Elijah. . YJS 18. 5And answering. because they had become greatly afraid. . and both with a commission to redeem Israel.  after six days Jesus takes along Peter and James and John. (However. God promises in the future to bring Moses with Elijah (Deut. 4And Elijah appeared with Moses.17 [on Deut 10:1]). 2 Kgs 2:1]. 1:7 §9: “he will renew their faces and will renew their garments. 7:9. . 6 with Exod 7:17. 3and his garments became exceedingly white as no launderer on earth can whiten. 1968] 2. and Elijah went up in a whirlwind [cf. that “Moses and Elijah” (v. Rev 4:4. 3. Moses went up to heaven [cf. R. Luke’s revisions here are probably intended to heighten the importance of Moses and to draw the parallels closer to the person and experience of the great Lawgiver.4 (5) a transformed appearance (Mark 9:3. compare v. In the Lukan account we are told that Jesus’ “face changed” (Luke 9:29). . Pesikta Rabbati [2 vols.”—6for he did not know what he should reply. Braude. Apoc. Exod 19:3]. Exod 24:1. Qoh. . 1 Enoch 62:15. and Elijah went up to heaven [cf. 7And then a cloud appeared overshadowing them. translation based on William G. as Professor Basser remarks. 5–6 with 2 Kgs 1:10). . 51:5. . of Elijah 4:7–19. but the faces of other saints are describes as shining.2. The rabbis compared Moses and Elijah at many points: “You find that two prophets rose up for Israel out of the tribe of Levi. Exod 24:16). The Synoptic account of the Transfiguration parallels the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai at several points. Moses: ‘And the cloud covered him six days’ [Exod 24:16].. Let us make three tents: one for you. New Haven: Yale University. see 2 Esdras 7:97. Perhaps the most obvious are the following: (1) the reference to “six days” (Mark 9:2.5 and (6) the reaction of fear (Mark 4 Moses and Elijah are often paired up. see 2 Esdras 6:26. . And he was transformed before them. Exod 34:30). one for Moses. 4. 1 Enoch 37:7. The clothing of the saints also will shine. and they were conversing together with Jesus. Rab. hear him!” 8And suddenly looking around they no longer saw anyone. but only Jesus with them. 125. Peter says to Jesus. instead of Mark’s “Elijah with Moses.” and that Jesus spoke with the heavenly visitors concerning his “exodus” (v. Elijah is sometimes paired up with Enoch. “Rabbi.

provide the point of departure for examination of the parallels with the later rabbinic texts. Neh 8:14–17).. But the feast was also understood by many as looking ahead to the glorious day of Israel’s deliverance. both the older and the later sources will often shed important light on the Gospels.6 These parallels are extensive enough that I should think that they provide the point of departure. pre-New Testament) traditions should receive priority and. In combination. But even in these cases. The questions that then arise are: How were the Sinai traditions interpreted in sources that predated the New Testament Gospels. or are contemporaneous with them? that is. elsewhere in the New Testament? in Philo? in Josephus? in the Dead Sea Scrolls? and.     105 9:6. Finally. the offer to build tabernacles. comparative work with the aforementioned older literatures is essential. Since “Joshua” in the Greek Old Testament is sometimes spelled “Jesus. is coherent with wilderness tradition and in fact was part of a festival in which Jews remembered the sojourn in the wilderness.e. that came to fulfillment in the Transfiguration where once again Moses and Jesus are together. but the older (i.” the early Church may have seen in Exod 24:13 a veiled prophecy. To commemorate the exodus Jews celebrated the Feast of Booths by living in small booths or huts for seven days (Lev 23:42–44. in the early rabbinic literature? The latter material may very well preserve ancient interpretive tradition that will shed light on the Transfiguration narrative. however. in their Judaic context. as Professor Basser has indicated. or typology. Another suggestive item that should be mentioned is that in Exod 24:13 Joshua is singled out and taken up the mountain with Moses. Exod 34:30). though not directly associated with Sinai. of course. as Professor Basser recommends. if possible. One could say that Jesus and Moses have been together before. 6 It could be that Peter has concluded that the Last Day had arrived when some of the great events of the first exodus would be repeated (such as manna in the wilderness and God’s presence among the people). Professor Basser’s other examples are much closer and seem more apparent. . underscoring again and again the need to interpret them.

Evans (eds. “Mishna and Messiah ‘in Context’: Some Comments on Jacob Neusner’s Proposals.” PRS 12 (1985) 85–102. “Parallelomania. 1909) 159–92. vol. Samuel. 291–304].” NTS 22 (1976) 486–95. Rabbinic Literature and the New Testament (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International.” HUCA 22 (1949) 239–64. Saldarini. Atlanta: Scholars Press. and repr. Anthony J.” JBL 82 (1963) 169–76. Daube. Evans.” JSNT 27 (1986) 69–88. “A Comparison of Early Christian and Early Rabbinic Tradition. Essays on Some Biblical Questions of the Day: By Members of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. “Jesus and Rabbinic Parables. Jr. “ ‘Form Criticism’ of Rabbinic Literature. H. “Evaluating the Attributions of Sayings to Named Sages in the Rabbinic Literature.” JJS 31 (1980) 1–17. B. and Prayers. Moore. Sandmel. (ed. 1995) 77–81. Method and Meaning in Ancient Judaism.” BTB 7 (1977) 110–22. Jesus in Context: Temple. Jr. in B. Buchanan. 1997) 138–57. H. rev. “Reference to the Targumim in the Exegesis of the New Testament. ——. 1997) 27–57. “Jewish Studies and New Testament Interpretation. repr. Wilmington: Glazier. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.” in H. David. 1984).). Porter and C.” JSJ 26 (1995) 93–111. in Neusner. Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (AGJU 25. A.” in Evans.).” JES 15 (1978) 441–60. “Jesus and the Pharisees—The Problem as It Stands Today. “Rabbinic Aids to Exegesis. Neusner. (ed. A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible: Jesus’ Use of the Interpreted Scripture of His Time (GNS 8. ——. ——. Michael J. New Testament Interpretation and Methods (BibSem 45.” ZNW 74 (1983) 237–46. Parsons. “The Use of Rabbinic Literature for New Testament Research. Society of Biblical Literature 1995 Seminar Papers (SBLSP 34. “When Tales Travel: The Interpretation of Multiple Appearances of a Single Saying or Story in Talmudic Literature. ——.  Selected Bibliography of the Use of Rabbinic Literature for Jesus Research and New Testament Interpretation Abrahams.” in E. 3 (BJS 16. Lovering. Swete (ed. 1995) 53–76. in S.” in E. ——. Alexander. Bruce D. 1995) 251–97. Geza. Smith. “Rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament. Mikeal C. Chilton. ——. Jacob. and Restoration (AGJU 39. Leiden: Brill. Israel. repr.” HTR 14 (1921) 197–253. Philip S. Chilton and C. “ ‘First Cleanse the Inside’: The ‘Halakhic’ Background of a ControversySaying.” JBL 112 (1993) 267–89 [with a response by Neusner on pp. Atlanta: Scholars Press. Lovering. 1994).106  .” JBL 96 (1977) 257–74. Evans. Cook. Craig A. Morton. Proverbs. Leiden: Brill.” JBL 81 (1962) 1–13.). Society of Biblical Literature 1995 Seminar Papers (SBLSP 34. George W. Chico: Scholars Press.). A. “The Critical Use of the Rabbinic Literature in New Testament Studies. “Early Rabbinic Sources and Jesus Research. 1981) 155–64. “Christian Writers on Judaism. E. Purity. Vermes. George F. “Rabbinic Methods of Interpretation and Hellenistic Rhetoric. .

The form in the Vulgate is still Iacobus.1 A comparable history has turned Yeshua. but a Latinization (Iacomus) is the direct antecedent of the English name. JESUS. Everyone knows enough to object (those who have read and—perhaps especially—those who have not read the New Testament): how could Yeshua have had a brother. The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (ABRL.2 However one resolves such questions. is the problem. He bore the name of Yakov (“Jacob”). A Dictionary of First Names (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Even his name makes him more obscure than he needs to be. and of what her virginity means. the status of Yakov as Yeshua’s brother is expressed straightforwardly (see Mark 6): 1 And he went out from there. the one called James is certainly the most overlooked. and his students follow him. That name traveled well into Greek (as Iakobos). AND QUESTIONS OF SANCTITY Bruce Chilton Introducing James Of all the major figures in the New Testament. and comes into his homeland. he began to teach 1 The form is described as “Late Latin” in Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges. but he is named for a principal Judaic patriarch.GETTING IT RIGHT: JAMES. Brown. the Aramaic form of the name Joshua (Yehoshuah in Hebrew) into Jesus. His being Yeshua’s brother. 2 And when the Sabbath came. Suffice it to say that the New Testament itself presents a variety of views of Mary/Miriam. That is an unlikely fate for the most famous brother of Yeshua. 1993). 2 See Raymond E. . 1993) 171. So our Yakov (as “James”) may sound like a king of England. of course. who was also called Israel (Gen 32:22–32)—the patriarch who identifies the people of the covenant in most understandings of Judaism. New York: Doubleday. when his mother was a virgin? This is not the place to try to settle what the widely believed teaching of Mary/Miriam’s virginity means in regard to her medical condition. of Yeshua’s birth.

just as “mother” means mother. All of its detail can not be rehearsed here. since the fourth century of the Common Era. the son of Miriam.3 The most plausible attempts to take the terms in some kind of metaphorical sense link the passage to the fact that early Christians called one another “brother” and “sister. but four.” 5 And he was not able there to do any power.” 33 He replied and says. and brother of Yakov and Yosieh and Yudah and Shimon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they were outraged at him. It is evident that there would be no further discussion. and what is this wisdom that is given to him? And what sort of powers are done by his hands? 3 Is this not the journeyman. except that laying hands on a few who were ill. “A prophet is not dishonored except in his homeland and among his kin and in his house. “Look. and they say to him.” But those usages are for the most part from materials which come later in the development of the New Testament. 3 of Mark. But do the words “brothers” and “sisters” here really mean what they say? There has been. “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 3 See John P. a lively debate over just that question. . 6 And he was astounded at their unbelief. for example. we encounter the following scene: 31 And his mother and his brothers come and standing outside. “Where did he get this from. Within chap. 4 And Yeshuah was saying to them. he healed them. 32 And a crowd sat around him. they sent a delegation to him.” CBQ 54 (1992) 1–28. There are rather clear indications that Yeshua and his brothers were on strained terms. your mother and your brothers and your sisters seek you outside. and an unspecified number of sisters. calling him.108   in the synagogue. and many who heard were astonished. saying. except for a later doctrine of the Church which took the definition of Mary/Miriam/’s virginity in a biological direction. not only one brother. “The Brothers and Sisters of Jesus in Ecumenical Perspective. The mention of Yakov in Mark 6 (and Matthew 13) does not in any way assume his sympathy with his brother Yeshua. In this passage (and in its equivalent in Matt 13:53–58). Meier. “brother” and “sister” mean brother and sister. The text is plain: Yeshua had.

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34 He glares around at those sitting in a circle about him, and says, “Look: my mother and my brothers. 35 Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

Not a picture of family bliss, and perhaps an echo of the earlier statement (3:21) that there were those associated with Yeshua who tried to prevent him from engaging in exorcism. They said he was “beside himself.” Now he says they are not true family. In a different key, the dispute between Yeshua and his brothers in John 7:2–10 also portrays fraternal tension in a marked form. The Gospels tell us nothing further about Yakov, and their silence prompts the question: when did he become a follower of Yeshua? This is perhaps the most instructive thing about Yakov from the point of view of the development of Christianity. His authority within the movement did not derive from his relations with his brother during his lifetime, but with his status as a witness to the resurrection (along with his status as Yeshua’s brother). Yakov was a crucial authority in the development of the conviction that Yeshua had been raised from the dead. He was a key witness of the risen Jesus according to the testimony of Paul, the earliest writer to speak of Jesus’ resurrection, writing around 56 CE (see 1 Cor 15:3–8):
Because I delivered to you, among the first, what I myself received, that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he was seen by Kepha, then by the Twelve, and then he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once, among whom most remain until now, and some have slept. And then he was seen by Yakov, then by all the delegates. And last of all, as to a fetus, he was seen by me, too.

Aside from Paul’s reference to Yakov in his list of witnesses, the New Testament itself does not record an actual appearance to Yakov, but the extra-canonical Gospel to the Hebrews does. There, Jesus assures his brother that “the Son of Man has been raised from among those who sleep.” The authority of Yakov, it seems, was a key force in the complete identification between Jesus and the figure of one “like a son of man” mentioned in Daniel 7—an angelic figure in the heavenly court—after the resurrection.4

4 See Chilton, “The Son of Man—Who Was He?” Bible Review 12.4 (1996) 34–48. The Letter of James in the New Testament is widely agreed to be only remotely

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The standing of Yakov was such that, within the Church in Jerusalem (certainly the most important of all until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE under the Roman general Titus), he occupied the principal position. In Acts 15, Yakov is presented as personally deciding how non-Jewish followers of Yeshua were to be regarded, and how they might be incorporated within the movement without actually accepting male circumcision. In that just this sort of question was the most divisive in the earliest history of Christianity, Yakov’s place here could not be more important, and we will turn our attention to the passage in a moment. After the issue of whether non-Jewish Christians needed to accept the practice of circumcision and/or purity, the next most divisive issue in the early Church was a person: the apostle Paul. Although his authority is today accepted among Christians as a matter of course, his status as the principal theologian of Christianity only developed as the canon of the New Testament emerged. Until then, and especially during his own life, Paul was a profoundly controversial figure. His insistence that believing in Yeshua made non-Jews into sons of Abraham, the true Israel, set non-Jewish Christians against traditionally Judaic followers of Yeshua.5 In Acts 21, a passage we will also consider more closely, it is Yakov, and only his circle, that attempts to integrate Paul within the movement by having him take part in a ritual within the Temple in Jerusalem. Our next important reference to Yakov’s authority and status comes from Hegesippus, a writer of the second century. As cited by Eusebius (see Hist. Eccl. 2.23.1–18),6 Hegesippus characterizes Yakov, Jesus’ brother, as the person who exercised immediate control of the church in Jerusalem. Although Peter had initially gathered a group of Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem, his interests and activities further afield left the way open for Yakov to become the natural head of the community there. That change, and political changes in Jerusalem itself made the Temple the effective center of the local community
connected to Yakov. Nonetheless, its emphasis upon the heavenly origin of divine wisdom ( Jas 1:17–18) may be related to Yakov’s vision of his brother as risen from the dead. 5 See Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner, Judaism in the New Testament: Practices and Beliefs (London and New York: Routledge, 1995) 98–128. 6 Florence Morgan Gillman suggests that Hegesippus’ source is the Acts of the Apostles used among the Ebionites, a Christian group which sought also to follow the Torah. She connects their veneration of Yakov to the praise given him in the Gospel according to Thomas Logion 12.

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of Jesus’ followers. Yakov practiced a careful and idiosyncratic purity in the interests of worship in the Temple. He abstained from wine and animal flesh, did not cut his hair or beard, and forsook oil and conventional bathing. According to Hegesippus, those special practices gave him access even to the sanctuary. Josephus had earlier reported that Yakov was killed in the Temple ca. 62 at the instigation of the high priest Ananus during the interregnum of the Roman governors Festus and Albinus (Ant. 20.9.1 §197–203). Hegesippus gives a more circumstantial, politically less informed, account of the martyrdom. Yakov is set up on a parapet of the Temple, being known and addressed by his opponents by the titles “Righteous and Oblias,” Hegesippus reports. The second title has caused understandable puzzlement, but it is easily related to the Aramaic term "abal, which means “to mourn.” Recent finds in the vicinity of the Dead Sea (not only near Qumran) have greatly enhanced our understanding of Aramaic as spoken in the time of Yeshua and his followers. The use of the term there is attested.7 Yakov was known as “mourner.” It is possible to see that title as a partially descriptive, partially mocking nickname. Most probably, it refers to the persistent asceticism which Yakov practiced. But the name need not have been invented by the opposition. Yeshua himself was known to give his followers such names. Most famously, he called Shimon “Rock”: Kepha in Aramaic, Petros in Greek. He called Yohanan and his brother Yakov “Thunder brothers:” bene rigsha in Aramaic.8 There is nothing surprising in the hypothesis that Yeshua himself, familiar with his brother’s asceticism, called him “Mourner.” In any case, Yakov/Mourner is interrogated by the authorities as he stands on a parapet, Tell us: what is the gate of Yeshua?9 Yakov responds with a strong declaration of Yeshua as the son of man who
7 See Joseph A. Fitzmyer and Daniel J. Harrington, A Manual of Palestinian Aramaic Texts (BibOr 34; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1978). Hegesippus himself tries to explain the term as “portion of the people and righetousness.” But since he says James was called “righteous and Oblias,” when he explains the latter term as “portion of the people and righteousness,” the impression he gives is that he is paraphrasing. 8 See the list in Mark 3:14–19, and Paul’s reference to Shimon in Gal 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14. 9 The expression is described by Hegesippus as being pivotal in Yakov’s teaching, and it is no doubted related to Yeshua’s own usage of such an expression (see John 10:7–9).

Although Peter. much as in the vision of the prophet in Isaiah 6. they had the convenant of circumcision (Gen 17:9–14) as a counter argument. But it also brought about the greatest controversies within the early Church. The Temple was the threshold to God’s throne in heaven. His court on earth was in Jerusalem. According to Paul. the focus was on the throne of God. Peter fell in with the practice and Barnabas apparently tolerated it. The best attested argument occurred at Antioch. 11:19–26. where non-Jews had begun to eat together with Jews in the context of Christian practice of eucharist and other common meals. 9:26–30. the gateway to heaven itself. loyal recruit in Jerusalem. a Levite from Cyprus. Yakov. At Antioch. . Yakov and the Question of Purity The remarkable and early agreement that Jews and non-Jews could be included in the same movement by baptism established a radical principle of inclusion. there were strong factions which did not concur (see Acts 11:1–18. The authorities then push him from the parapet. Barnabas.10 10 See Acts 4:36–7. Even among those teachers who extended baptism to non-Jews. and have Yakov stoned. who beats in his head. And in the vision of Yakov. disagreements arose. Paul’s version of events is the best available. and acceptable to God. and Barnabas agreed that circumcision could not be demanded of non-Jews who received baptism. who enjoyed the trust of the apostles and mediated relations between them and Paul. After all.112   will come to judge the world. Devotion to him and to the Temple together constituted the effective worship of God. Yakov’s devotion to the Temple and his devotion to his brother were co-extensive. and to insist on that purity throughout Yeshua’s movement which made that worship possible. where Yakov continued to offer worship. He is actually killed by someone with a club. was a prominent. Loyalty to Yeshua and loyalty to the Temple both demanded rigorous attention to the issue of holiness. 15:1–5). of which Yeshua was the gate and the Temple the court. Jews and non-Jews who had been baptized joined in meals of fellowship together. In each case. the Son of Man associated with that throne was none other than Jesus. of what belongs to God in human comportment.

The account in Acts 15 is romanticized. Yakov who was the brother of Jesus and the pre-eminent figure in the church in Jerusalem. Paul quickly articulates the distinctive approach to Scripture as authoritative which characterizes his writings as a whole. the two principal matters of concern in Galatians. 11 The Letter of James is at best a derivative reflection of his position.” along with the rest of the Jews. 13).     113 Paul’s policy of including Gentiles with Jews in meals. not they. Der Brief des Jakobus (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. The radical quality of Paul’s position needs to be appreciated. he seems so confident that one might overlook the fact that he was the loser in the battle with the representatives of Yakov. His explanation of his own point of view is triumphant and ringing only in retrospect. Barnabas. as well as in baptism. Within Galatians. some four years after this confrontation). and “the rest of the Jews” disagreed with him).11 But the book of Acts does clearly reflect his perspective in regard to both circumcision and the issue of purity (Acts 15). It was he. The confrontation at Antioch which Paul recounts to his audience in Galatia did not turn out happily for him at the time. Peter “separated himself. His isolation required that he develop an alternative view of authority in order to justify his own practice. the nature and force of Yakov’s position become clear. as is Paul’s. by the time he recollects his argument for the benefit of the Galatians (to whom he writes c. see Martin Dibelius. 53 CE. needed the support of authorities such as Peter and Barnabas. The position of Yakov is not represented. 1984). and even Barnabas (Gal 2:12. who left the area of Antioch (so Acts 15:22–41). . that natural conservatism re-asserted itself. one sees much less of the tension and controversy which Paul attests.. and Paul accuses the leadership of his own movement of hypocrisy (Gal 2:13). Peter. He was isolated from every other Christian Jew (by his own account in Gal 2:11–13: Yakov. Indeed. by a writing of Yakov himself. When representatives of Yakov arrived. But once allowance has been made for the tendency in Acts to portray the ancient Church as a body at harmonious unity. Jews and Gentiles again maintained distinct fellowship at meals. . in order to prevail against the natural conservatism of those for whom such inclusion seemed a betrayal of the purity of Israel.

there is actual agreement between Symeon and the words of the prophets. to take a people in his name” (Acts 15:14). The logic of them both inevitably involves a rejection of Paul’s position (along the lines laid out in Galatians 2). no attempt should be made to add requirements such as circumcision to them (Acts 15:6–11).) The first item on the agenda is settled by having Peter declare that. his statement of Peter’s position) the words of the prophets agree. and he goes on to cite from the book of Amos. circumcision and purity. as two people might agree. since God gave his holy spirit to Gentiles who believed. while the second is a requirement of purity. but that in addition to Israel God has established a people in his name. The passage cited will concern us in a moment. The continuity of Christian experience with Scripture is marked as a greater concern than within Paul’s interpretation. The second item on the agenda is settled on Yakov’s authority. not Peter’s. The citation from Amos (9:11–12) comports well with Yakov’s concern that the position of the Church agree with the principal vocabulary of the prophets (Acts 15:16–17): . (Paul in Galatians 2 more accurately describes the meeting he had with the leaders as distinct from a later decision to return to the question of purity.114   The two issues in dispute. but he states the position in a very different way: “Symeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles. like the argument itself. Yakov’s perspective here is not that all who believe are Israel (the Pauline definition). the form of Yakov’s interpretation is an immediate indication of a substantial difference from Paul. is quite unlike Paul’s. The relationship between those taken from the Gentiles and Israel is developed in two ways by Yakov. The first method is the use of Scripture. How the new people are to be regarded in relation to Israel is a question which is implicit in the statement. and that is consistent with the version of Paulinism represented in Acts. and the outcome is not in line with Paul’s thought. not merely with possible ways of looking at what they mean. a matter of agreement with the prophets’ words. As Yakov has it. Yakov first confirms the position of Peter. Paul could scarcely have said it better himself. Yakov claims that “with this (that is. The use of Scripture. are dealt with in Acts 15 as if they were the agenda of a single meeting of leaders in Jerusalem. just as it is written” (Acts 15:15). and Yakov expects that continuity to be verbal. and Yakov goes on to answer it.

. Gentiles remain Gentiles. The argument is possible because Davidic genealogy of Jesus—and. they are not to be identified with Israel. Gentile belief in Jesus was therefore in Yakov’s understanding a vindication of his Davidic triumph. . The line of demarcation between Israel and non-Israel was no invention within the circle of Yakov. Purity involved excluding Gentiles from the interior courts of the Temple. therefore. Embracing the Temple as central meant for Yakov. and was being accepted as such by Gentiles. developed by means of the reference to Amos. where Israel was involved in sacrifice. When Acts and Hegesippus are taken together. He first states. “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Hegesippus shows that Yakov’s view of his brother came to be that he was related to David (as was the family generally) and was also a heavenly figure who was coming to judge the world. not the redefinition of Israel (as in Paul’s thought). but it did not involve a fundamental change in the status of Gentiles vis-à-vis Israel. what the belief of Gentiles achieves is.. An account of Yakov’s preaching in the Temple is given by Hegesippus. . that the rest of men may seek the Lord. as it meant for everyone associated with worship there. and rebuild its ruins and set it up anew. maintaining the purity which. “I determine not to trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God” (Acts 15:19). Those who agree cry out. In the argument of Yakov as represented here. That characterization of the Gentiles. of his brother Yakov—is assumed. at least not at first. God required in his house. His position was not anti-Pauline. and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called. and there was never any question in his mind but that the Temple was the natural place to worship God and acknowledge Jesus. as if he were simply .     115 After this I will come back and restore the tent of David which has fallen. but a natural result of seeing Jesus as the triumphant branch of the house of David. Yakov there represents Jesus as the son of man who is to come from heaven to judge the world. it was understood. enables Yakov to proceed to his requirement of their recognition of purity. they indicate that Yakov contended Jesus was restoring the house of David because he was the agent of final judgment. But on Yakov’s view. His focus was on Jesus’ role as the ultimate arbiter within the Davidic line. . but the restoration of the house of David.

18 and 20:17–21]). They are to refrain from feasts in honor of the gods and from foods sacrificed to idols in the course of being butchered and sold. Because the law is well known. The rules set out by Yakov tend naturally to separate believing Gentiles from their ambient environment. also forbids blood to be eaten (19:26) and fornication (19:29. see also 18:6–30). and from what is strangled.They are to avoid the flesh of animals which had been strangled instead of bled. was basic within Judaism. (The implicit authority of that “I” contrasts sharply with the usual portrayal in Acts of apostolic decision as communal. being read in the synagogues every Sabbath. Yakov links them to the fact that the Mosaic legislation regarding purity is well and widely known (15:21): For Moses from early generations has had those preaching him city by city. the meeting in Jerusalem decides to send envoys and a letter to Antioch. The motive behind the rules is not separation in itself. And strangling an animal (as distinct from cutting its throat) increased the presence of blood in the meat. and proscribed in the book of Leviticus [see chap. The canonical (but secondhand) letter of James calls the commandment of love “the royal law” ( Jas . they were to be similar to Israel in their distinction from the Hellenistic world at large.116   repeating the policy of Peter in regard to circumcision. The proscription of blood. Yakov insists that believers. even Gentile believers. (The notional devotion of animals in the market to one god or another was a common practice in the Hellenistic world. that God had taken a people from the Gentiles (Acts 15:14). “love your neighbor as yourself ” (19:18). and from fornication. (Gross promiscuity need not be at issue here. Such strictures are consistent with Yakov’s initial observation. and they are not to consume blood itself. The same chapter of Leviticus which commands. marriage with cousins is also included within the likely area of concern. of course. are not to live in flagrant violation of what Moses enjoined. and with whom. in order to require Gentiles to honor the prohibitions set out by Yakov (Acts 15:22–35). That was fashionable in the Hellenistic world. however.) But he then continues that is determination is also “to write to them to abstain from the pollutions of the idols.) They are to observe stricter limits than usual on the type of sexual activity they might engage with. As a result of Yakov’s insistence. and from blood” (15:20).

Yakov’s prohibitions are designed to show that believing Gentiles honor the law which is commonly read. who offers a sacrifice which is not brought to the LORD’s honor in the Temple is to be cut off from the people (17:8–9). whether of Israel or a sojourner dwelling among them. In both cases. without in any way changing their status as Gentiles. a principle of exclusivity in sacrifice is trenchantly maintained: anyone. the prohibitions of Yakov. the interpretation of Scripture was also—at the same moment as the sacred text was apprehended—a matter of social policy. involving sacrifice. They are elementary. in the midst of Gentiles who show their awareness of the restoration by means of their respect for the Torah. and blood. Where Paul divided the Scripture against itself in order to maintain the integrity of a single fellowship of Jews and Gentiles. even at the cost of separating Christians from one another. the tent of David is erected again. . Thereby. The interpretation attributed to Yakov involves an application of Davidic vocabulary to Jesus. In Acts Yakov himself. The transfer of Davidic promises to Jesus is accomplished within an acceptance of the terms of reference of the Scripture generally: to embrace David is to embrace Moses. Moreover. acknowledging that Yeshua had accorded it privilege by citing it alongside the commandment to love God as the two greatest commandments (see Mark 12:28–32). Yakov insisted upon the integrity of Scripture. by observing basic requirements concerning fornication and blood and idolatry. setting one biblical principle ( justification in the manner of Abraham) against another (obedience in the manner of Moses). as is consistent with the claim of Jesus’ family to Davidic ancestry. insists that they should acknowledge it. fornication. . strangled meat produce. It is of interest that Leviticus forbids the eating of blood by sojourners as well as Israelites. all derive easily from the very context in Leviticus from which the commandment to love is derived.     117 2:8). and involve interest in what Gentiles as well as Israelites do. while accepting that Gentiles cannot be required to keep the whole law.. There is no trace in Yakov’s interpretation of the Pauline gambit. and associates that prohibition with how animals are to be killed for the purpose of eating (17:10–16). In other words.

and avoid approaching any dead body. At the close of the period of the vow. abstinence was a wise policy. and the avoidance of all uncleanness—which is incompatible with sanctity—follows naturally. m. entering the Temple with them to offer sacrifice (Acts 21:22–26). and the whole of Makhshirin.21. The additional notice.118   Yakov and the Temple The ideal of Christian devotion which Yakov has in mind is represented in Acts 21. Finally. as a fluid pressed from fruit.W. Just these practices of holiness are attributed by Hegesippus to Yakov. There. The nature of the vow seems quite clear. Paul and his companion arrive in Jerusalem and are confronted by Yakov and the elders’ report to them that Paul’s reputation in Jerusalem is that he is telling Jews in the Diaspora to forsake Moses. and the reason seems plain: oil. would account for such a remembrance of him. abstain completely from grapes. is consistent with the especial concern for purity among Nazirites. his acceptance of a Nazirite regime. 2. 8:3–5. As set out in Numbers 6. They were to avoid any contact with death (Num 6:6–12). and especially to stop circumcising their children (Acts 21:17–21). 2. a Nazirite was to let his hair and beard grow for the time of his vow. Paul’s entry into the Temple caused a riot.2 §590–594. in that Nazirites were to be presented in the vicinity of the sanctuary.8. Yakov’s advice proved disastrous for Paul.12 Absent complete assurance. Menah. that he avoided oil. We are evidently dealing with a Nazirite vow. The avoidance of oil is also attributed by Josephus to the Essenes ( J. the LORD’s property. It will be fulfilled when the men shave their heads (so Acts 21:24). Paul is then told to take on the expense of four men who had taken a vow. As it turned out. The end of this time of being holy. is marked by enabling the Nazirite to drink wine again (6:20).3 §123). because it was supposed he 12 See Josephus. The point of departure for the concern is Lev 11:34. he was to shave his head. and offer his hair in proximity to the altar (so Num 6:18). was considered to absorb impurity to such an extent that extreme care in its preparation was vital. although Hegesippus’ assertion that Yakov could actually enter the sanctuary seems exaggerated.W. J. such as Acts 21 explicitly associates him with. Yakov’s vegetarianism also comports with a concern to avoid contact with any kind of corpse. .

a syllogism is developed to attack a particular practice in the Temple (Mark 7:6–13): 6 But he said to them. see B. you adhere to men’s tradition. but it does seem obvious that his commitment to a Nazirite ideology blinded him to the political dangers which threatened the movement of which he was the nearest thing to the head. That principle establishes that those in Israel were to be accepted as pure. Luke 7:34).13 His program was not as suited to Nazirites as it was to those his opponents called “tax agents and sinners”. But within this same chapter of Mark in which Yeshua’s principle is clearly stated. As a result. to them Yeshua seemed a drunk and a glutton (see Matt 11:19. The particular concern of Yakov for practice in the Temple has left its mark on teaching attributed to Yeshua.     119 was bringing non-Jews in.. and so began the long legal contention which resulted ultimately in his death. as it is written. 8 Leaving the commandment of God. . entering in. This people honors me with lips. The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program Within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press. Chilton. as was characteristic in Yeshua’s movement from the beginning. In Mark 7:15. Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God (Studying the Historical Jesus 1. was possible. Yeshua set down a radical principle of purity: There is nothing outside a person. idem. .” JHC 3 (1996) 18–37. Duly you annul the commandment of God. that can defile. readied them to celebrate the fellowship of the kingdom of God. teaching men’s commandments as doctrines. 13 For further discussion. 9 And he was saying to them. 7 In vain they worship me. together with their generosity in sharing and their willingness to receive and accept forgiveness. 1992). “A Generative Exegesis of Mark 7:1–23. so that fellowship at meals with them. Their usual customs of purity. Duly Yesaiah prophesied about you frauds. 1996). idem. But their heart is far distant from me. he was arrested by a Roman officer (Acts 21:27–28:21). but what comes out of a person is what defiles a person. The extent to which Yakov might have anticipated such a result can not be known. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Falk.15 The simple and inevitable conclusion is that the tradition violates the command of God (see Mark 7:8–9. 294–95. Deut 5:16.” in Chilton and Evans (eds. 11 But you say. 15 Compare Exod 20:2. 11–12 may indeed reflect Yeshua’s position. since his objection to commercial arrangements involving worship is well attested. 14 . Zeev W. Let the one who curses father or mother die the death. continuing to use it during one’s life. It assumes familiarity with the vow of qorbana.16 The association of similar Scriptures is reminiscent of the rabbinic rule of interpretation. Ned. rooted in human commandments. 12 you no longer let him do anything for father or mother. 21:17. esp. Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (NTTS 19. And your do many such things. 10 For Moses said.120   so that you establish your tradition. Evans. 17 See Chilton and Craig A. “Jesus and Israel’s Scriptures.17 But the scriptural syllogism by no means requires the invocation of any See m. which is said to invalidate the plain sense of Moses’ prescription to honor parents. Two features of this argument are striking. 16 As happens in Matt 15:3–9. The logic of the syllogism is not complicated. Nedarim. Whatever you were owed from me is Qorban [that is. and it can easily be structured in a different way. One could. in effect. that a principle expressed in a text may be related to another text. The simple complaint about the practice in vv. Lev 20:9. shelter one’s use of property by dedicating it to the Temple at one’s death. 1994) 281–335. Honor your father and your mother. which is unlike what we elsewhere find attributed to Yeshua. 13). which does indeed mean “gift” in Aramaic. “Qorban be any benefit my wife gets from me.14 Mishnah envisages a man saying. but their heart is as far from him as their vain worship. 13 voiding the word of God by your tradition. That statement is then related to the custom of qorban. The argument as a whole is framed in Mark 7:6–7 by means of a reference to the book of Isaiah (29:13): the people claim to honor God.). If a person says to father or mother. “Notes and Observations on Talmudic Vows.” HTR 59 (1966) 309–12. 3:2). But that only focuses our attention all the more on the syllogistic nature of the argument. and. for she stole my purse” (m. gift]. Leiden: Brill. without identity of wording between the two passages (kayyose bo bemaqom ’aher).

But the form of Yeshua’s statement has not been rightly understood.20 and saw his brother’s movement as focused on produces more Nazirites.. The fundamental argument is that the Law and the Prophets are antithetical to the practice of authorities in the Temple. Moreover. Conclusion: Yakov the Nazirite The stance of Yakov as concerns purity and the Temple.19 Indeed. our suggestion that Yakov was a Nazirite. 15:23). as in the interpretation attributed to Yakov in Acts 15 (see Acts 15:21). see Chilton.18 but that seems to put a strain on his usual practice of fellowship at meals. The evidence in aggregate suggests that Yakov understood his brother as offering an access to God through the Temple. the centrality of the Temple is manifest throughout.25a. in which only the circumcised could participate. the most attractive is that Yeshua’s statement concerning wine and the kingdom involves his accepting Nazirite vows. Of all the arguments adduced. .” Bib 65 (1984) 94–96. as well as his interpretation of Scripture. comports well with Hegesippus’ description of his particular practices. but only to drink wine in association with his celebration of the kingdom. He is not promising never to drink wine. Lebeau. . James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking. See B. Finally. Leiden: Brill. It has been argued that Yeshua himself adhered to such a position. owing to its Semitic syntax. 18 So an as yet unpublished paper by Markus Bockmuehl. “Le naziréat et la Passion (Mc 14. See P. The rhetoric of the syllogism turns on the necessity of honoring Moses. 93–108. the principle inherent here is that Scripture is that which is actually implemented in the case of Yeshua’s movement. given at the meeting of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas in Birmingham in 1997.     121 such formal principle. 20 See the more global construction of Robert Eisenman. Le vin nouveau du Royaume: Etude exégétique et patristique sur la Parole eschatologique de Jésus à la Cène (Paris: Desclée. 1996). 19 It is for this reason that the circle of James also sought to restrict the definition of who might participate in the full celebration of the eucharist. M. 1994) 169–71. enables us to address an old and as yet unsolved problem of research. such that Israel could and should offer God the Nazirites with their vows. such as Moses provided for. Mark 14:12–15 turns that meals into a Seder. A Feast of Meanings. A Feast of Meanings: Eucharistic Theologies from Jesus through Johannine Circles (NovTSup 72. Yeshua. 1966). Chilton. Wojciechowski.

the first usage is in the mouth of a demon. “Exorcism and History: Mark 1:21–28. Sheffield: JSOT Press. Yeshua’s true identity was his status as a Nazirite. In Acts 18:18. Yeshua is rarely called “of Nazareth” or “from Nazareth. God in Strength: Jesus’ Announcement of the Kingdom (SNTU 1. Nazarene Yeshua! Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the holy one of God! In this usage. The Miracles of Jesus (Gospel Perspectives 6.) Some of the variants are in fact very close to what we find used to describe Yeshua in the Gospels. The demons saw what others did not.21 But more is going on here. 1987) 311–13. That practice could include men.). This is part of the well known theme of the “Messianic secret” in Mark. see B.” Why the adjective.” although he was probably known to come from there. 22 See B.122   bearing a common name. Wenham and C. .” Such vows 21 Indeed. it is said that even Paul “had his head shorn in Kenkhraea. BibSem 8. but those in the synagogue where the exorcism occurs do not. And they do not hear the demons. Freistadt: Plöchl. and that reflects how he was specified in his own time. who says to Yeshua (Mark 1:24): We have nothing for you. Chilton. Sheffield: JSOT Press. is sometimes referred to as “of Nazareth” in the Gospels. 1979. repr. Actually. there was even a place called Bethlehem of Nazareth. and why the uncertainty in spelling? The Septuagint shows us that there were many different transliterations of “Nazirite”: that reflects uncertainty as to how to convey the term in Greek. because Yeshua silences them (so Mark 1:25). L. since even the Mishnah refers to differing pronunciations [see Nazir 1:1]. “Nazarene” in the first line clearly parallels “the holy one of God” in the last line.22 For Yakov and those who were associated with him. women. according to the Talmud. and after the resurrection the knowledge of the holy one of God could be openly acknowledged and practiced. In the Christian movement. 1986) 253–71. In the Gospel according to Mark. Blomberg (eds. The demon knows Yeshua’s true identity. There is no doubt but that a geographical reference is involved (see John 1:45–46). the custom was apparently widespread.” in D. in accordance with the Mishnah (Nazir 9:1). He is usually called “Nazoraean” or “Nazarene. because he had a vow. Chilton. (That uncertainty is not in the least surprising. and slaves.

so that whatever Paul thought of his vow from his own perspective. . Under the influence of Yakov.. . they might have said. many would have seen him as falling in with the program of Yakov.     123 in regard to hair alone were held in Mishnah to equate to a Nazirite vow (Nazir 1:1). even Paul was concerned with getting it right. the brother of Yeshua.

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He correctly points out that as the Christian movement began to expand beyond Jewish circles. who asserted that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised (Acts 15:1–2).e. What exactly did this mean? The answer to this question is rooted in the significance of circumcision.DIVIDING IT RIGHT WHO IS A JEW AND WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN? Scott Langston Bruce Chilton. Jesus). the biblical text appears to paint a picture of unity within the new movement.e. however. 11). and the subsequent expressions of piety. he also has developed a stimulating reading of the question of Jewish and Gentile identity within early Christianity. While on the surface. would not the same principle apply to Gentiles who wanted to become part of the covenant people (Gen 17:12–14)? The debate. Luke records that the church in Jerusalem agreed that circumcision was not necessary for Gentile believers. The two prevailing opinions among the early church were represented by Paul. “Getting it Right: James. Apparently. who argued for the necessity of circumcision (Acts 15:5). Jesus. In doing so. in his paper. developed into an argument over Jewish and Gentile distinction within Christianity. the conflict arose over the necessity of circumcision for Gentile believers in Yeshua (i. belief in Christ essentially made . in relation to Jewish identity and piety. Did this rite serve as a ritual that distinguished Jew from Gentile? Chilton proposes that Yakov and Paul come to differing conclusions on this matter. As is well known. Chilton has highlighted the early struggles among the movement’s leadership. and Questions of Sanctity. and by those believers among the Pharisees. James) and his role in the early church by combining biblical and non-biblical traditions. For Paul. Just as any uncircumcised Jew would be excluded from the covenant.. but honoring Mosaic laws was (Acts 15:19–22).. or converts. conflict arose regarding the status of Gentile believers. the debate originally raged over whether or not circumcision was necessary to gain or signify entrance into the covenant (at least as it is portrayed in Acts 15:1.” has offered an interesting and insightful interpretation of Yakov (i.

A Jew from the Galilee. while Eleazar.” Josephus recorded in his Jewish Antiquities (20. Izates. the Jewish merchant of Charax-Spasini (Spasinou) who persuaded Izates to convert. That first century Jewish Christians should come to different conclusions regarding the significance of circumcision is not surprising. In this account.126   non-Jews into Jews. thereby provoking the wrath of God. the author envisioned a time when Israel would not circumcise their children. the Jew living in Palestine. therefore. the book of Jubilees (15:25–34) reflects a tradition that considered circumcision as a vital rite distinctive to the Jewish nation. but its necessity for Izates was debated.1 What is significant 1 Charax Spasini (Spasinou) was located in lower Mesopotamia. Interestingly. they were now a part of the true Israel. Yakov. and circumcision was superfluous. The site of Jabel . their status remained that of Gentiles.2. On the one hand. and. It characterized circumcision as an eternal law for Israelites that distinguished them from “Ishmael and his sons and his brothers and Esau. though uncircumcised. Eleazar. The same debate had been taking place among the Jewish population as the pressure of Hellenism exerted itself on Jewish practices. arguing that he could still worship God. worship of God was superior to circumcision. agreed.” Anyone who was not circumcised did not bear the sign identifying him as a son of the covenant. on the other hand. contending that circumcision was necessary. however. disagreed. According to Josephus. the Jew living outside of Palestine. queen of Adiabene and her son. was destined to be destroyed and uprooted from the land. he was discouraged from doing so by his mother who believed that his subjects would resent being ruled over by a Jew. it was Ananias. who did not believe that circumcision was required. After all. When Izates considered undergoing circumcision. Ananias. circumcision clearly was associated with Jewish identity. a division between Jew and Gentile continued.3–5 §34–53) the conversion to Judaism of Helena. In spite of these repercussions. The stakes were high for “there is therefore for them no forgiveness or pardon so that they might be pardoned and forgiven from all of the sins of this eternal error. A few examples will suffice. Although Gentiles should acknowledge the Law through basic observances. a distinction remained in effect between the two groups. who did. God preserved Izates from any repercussions resulting from his circumcision. believed that while Gentiles did not need to be circumcised. Ambiguity concerning circumcision can be found among many Jewish writings.

3 He also did not consider circumcision to be a distinctively Jewish act since it was practiced by the Egyptians. including arrogance and excessive desires. Khayabir.52)..2). despite the spiritual significance of circumcision (and other rites). he demonstrated a dual understanding of this ritual. which Philo appears to have understood as “proselyte.” USQR 44 (1991) 309. 4 The Greek word used to translate the Hebrew rgE is prosÆlutow. It also is significant that this story represents dissenting opinions among Jews. what was distinctively Jewish was the spiritual implications of circumcision. Philo reflected a spiritual application of circumcision. 1929–53). see also De Specialibus Legibus 1. According to Philo. revealed some ambivalence in his understanding of the significance of circumcision. Arabs. and almost all those living in “the southern regions near the torrid zone” (3. H. 2 Gary Gilbert argued that the story of the conversion of Izates reflected the belief “that some Jews could separate their Jewish identity from the practice of circumcision..” . London: Heinemann. Philo. Thus. Ethiopians. Philo did not believe that the physical act should be neglected (De Migratione Abraham 89–93). he also understood the ritual to have less literal applications. “Charax and the Karkheh. the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher. In his Quaestiones et Solutiones in Genesin (3. Philo (12 vols. Colson et al.47–52. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. near modern Basra. 3 All translations of Philo come from F.2 These dissenting opinions can be found in other works as well. Perhaps to him. has been suggested as the site of Charax Spasini. Yet. LCL.         127 for the current discussion is the representation of dissenting opinions among Jews regarding the requirement of circumcision for converts.4 he defined the sojourner as “one who circumcises not his uncircumcision but his desires and sensual pleasures and the other passions of the soul” (Quaestiones et Solutiones in Exodum 2. He further demonstrated some doubt as to its physical distinctiveness as a Jewish act. but it also concerned itself with the cutting away of vain opinions of the mind. “For the mind which is not circumcised and purified and sanctified of the body and the passions which come through the body will be corrupted and cannot be saved” (3.1–11). Nor did he seem to identify circumcision as necessary for a convert since in his discussion concerning why Israelites were not to oppress sojourners (converts). See John Hansman.” Iranica Antiqua 7 (1967) 21–58. while defending its physical necessity. “The Making of a Jew: ‘God-Fearer’ or Convert in the Story of Izates. yet.” See Gilbert.48). Circumcision not only dealt with the cutting away of the foreskin of the penis. Philo certainly saw benefits to literal circumcision.

Hall. This idea was not novel.5 With regard to the Acts 15 debate. Taken together with the examples from Philo and Josephus. a spiritualized understanding of circumcision existed side-by-side with its literal application.” Soundings 78 (1995) 589–610. many Jews moved to a spiritualized understanding of circumcision in an effort to function within a world dominated by a Hellenism that abhorred circumcision. where he discusses the various Jewish responses to circumcision and Hellenism. arising in the biblical text (Deut 10:16). particularly among those more open to Hellenistic values. First. circumcision generally was associated with Jewish distinctiveness. Operating under the assumption that religious knowledge develops out of empirical observations.” Bible Review 8 (August 1992) 53–57.128   The use of circumcision to denote something beyond the literal cutting away of the foreskin also can be found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Manual of Discipline (1QS 5:4–5). Perhaps the increasing pressures of Hellenism led to the more spiritual application of this rite. Furthermore. “Epispasm: Circumcision in Reverse. some Jewish communities could have reason and precedent to spiritualize the command to circumcise. this reference to spiritual circumcision occurs within the context of a discussion of those who wish to enter into the covenant. “Paul’s Critique of Jewish Exclusivity: A Sociological and Anthropological Perspective. Philo’s protestations against the neglect of circumcision suggests that some were doing this. who primarily were Jewish. Those who believed that its performance was necessary for Gentile believers reflected the idea that Christianity 5 See Robert G. this ambivalent understanding of circumcision seems to manifest itself among the early Christians. he suggests that the views of Philo and Josephus “may be the consequence of a world view created by the social and commercial realities of their Hellenistic context. this document at least demonstrates that circumcision stood as a symbol in some Jewish circles. Secondly. There. While using circumcision as an image of disciplined obedience does not abrogate the literal act. Paul does not appear to have developed an alternative view of authority. but instead he followed a different tradition current within Judaism. However. See his article. but some did question this connection. Stephen Pattee attempts to interpret circumcision during the Hellenistic and Roman periods from a sociological perspective. members are encouraged to circumcise their desires and stubbornness. . two characteristics arise regarding Jewish understandings of circumcision.” In other words. nor does its existence suggest that performance of the physical act was being set aside in favor of a spiritualization of it.

but does not address why he would attempt such a division other than to ensure “that the position of the Church agree with the principal vocabulary of the prophets. but that they recognize the truth coming from the . Those Gentiles coming into the covenant needed to take upon themselves Jewish identity. He tried to appease the traditional Jewish Christians by maintaining a distinction between Jew and Gentile. In fact. A struggle. His use of Amos 9:11–12. Those who preferred a more spiritual view of circumcision sought to disassociate Christianity from traditional Jewish identity by removing the generally-recognized distinctive mark of Judaism. the nations come to it in order to receive instruction in God’s ways. Chilton’s understanding of Yakov’s use of Amos 9:11–12 demonstrates that Yakov attempted to maintain a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. He attempted to satisfy the more Hellenized wing of the church by removing the necessity of circumcision for Gentile believers. Two dominant traditions concerning the fate of the Gentiles are evident within the prophetic corpus. As part of that recognition. the nations will be brought under the umbrella of Israel as they learn to worship the true God. Would traditional Jewish mores guide and distinguish the movement. One tradition envisions a time when the Gentiles stream to Jerusalem and worship together with Israel. or would there be a break with Judaism? Would Christianity be controlled by Palestinian Jews or Hellenistic Jews/Gentiles? Yakov’s verdict in Acts 15 appears to offer a compromise. however. perhaps Yakov’s interpretation can be understood as part of the attempted compromise.” Beyond this important concern. A period of peaceful co-existence among all the nations will ensue as they look to Jerusalem for spiritual guidance.         129 was primarily a Jewish movement. Israel will live with the nations peacefully. the desire of the nations for Yahweh will be so strong that ten Gentiles will entreat one Jew for the privilege of going to Jerusalem in order to worship Yahweh. therefore. Zechariah 8:20–22 concurs that the nations will seek Yahweh in Jerusalem. bears a closer look within the context of the Hebrew Bible’s traditions concerning the fate of the Gentile nations. therefore. In other words. subject to traditional Judaic understandings. In Isa 2:1–4 (see also Mic 4:1–4) Yahweh’s temple in Jerusalem is recognized as the chief shrine. over the control of the movement ensued. These passages do not seem to suggest that the nations have been coerced into coming to Jerusalem.

Zephaniah 2 portrays Yahweh as not only destroying the nations. For example. This minority tradition stands in contrast to the more prominent picture of the nations’ fate found in the prophets. All of these passages indicate a common idea that Israel will exercise dominion over the Gentiles. Jerusalem?). Here. The vast majority of prophetic texts dealing with the Gentiles assert that Israel will one day exercise dominion over them. the intent of the passage remains clear—Yahweh will give his people dominion over the nations. the temple.130   city.. Instead. . nor do they reference any sort of rule of Israel over the Gentiles. The phrase “all the nations that my name will be called over them” probably refers to the dominion of Yahweh over the nations. Obadiah (15–21) also looked forward to a day when Israel would destroy the nations and inherit their land. Israel) again” [3:17. the nations will be desolated. While the identity of the booth of David is debated (is it the Davidic dynasty. a peaceful inclusion of the nations in the worship of Yahweh is maintained. Israel will rule over its land so that “foreigners will not pass through it (i. God will restore the booth (succa) of David so that Israel can possess the remnant of Edom and the other nations. Particular focus is given to Edom where it is said that “Those who are saved will go up on Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau and the kingdom will be Yahweh’s. Neither is any idyllic image of Jew and Gentile worshipping Yahweh together at Mount Zion put forth. Amos 9:11–12 fits into this hostile tradition concerning the fate of the Gentiles vis-a-vis Israel. accompanied by great fertility and plenty of water. The message is clear—Israel will subdue and destroy the nations.e. and the nations are brought to the valley of Jehoshaphat to be judged. but allowing the remnant of the house of Judah to inhabit the territories of their former foes. His name will be called over the nations because he has conquered them. 4:17 (Hebrew)].” Joel 2:15–3:21 foresees a period when the Israelites are gathered together on Mount Zion. the holiness of Jerusalem will be maintained. While Israel will be restored. No picture of a peaceful coexistence is found within this tradition. even possessing the land of these nations. Mic 4:5–13 envisions a time when Israel would remain faithful to Yahweh in spite of living among nations who worshipped other gods. Yahweh then will take this righteous remnant and lead them to victory over the nations while taking the Gentiles’ wealth as booty for the Lord. In doing so. or the city.

Gentiles are saved as Gentiles: they do not. The nations. If worship is not rendered voluntarily. redeemed from idolatry. or conversion. she remarks. After detailing the defeat of the nations who had massed against Jerusalem in battle. or at least. but also Israelite dominance over the Gentiles. but instead restored the house of David. one other prophetic passage deserves consideration. Therefore.         131 Before returning to Yakov’s use of Amos 9:11–12. redeemed from exile. See her article. then. the survivors of these nations will come to Jerusalem on a yearly basis to celebrate the Feast of Booths. as well as his appropriation of the scriptural tradition reflecting Jewish dominance over the Gentiles? Chilton’s suggestion that Yakov sought to maintain a distinction between Jewish and Gentile believers is helpful. By asserting that Gentile belief in Yeshua did not redefine Israel. it would 6 Paula Fredricksen has argued that in the early 1st century CE. Those who do not come will be subjected to further discipline from Yahweh. the generally-accepted mark of Jewish identity. The Circumcision of Gentiles. Zechariah 14:16–19. will be involved in the worship of Yahweh. eschatologically. a distinction must be maintained. one wherein they are destroyed by or subjected to Israel. these two groups will together constitute ‘his people’: Israel. Not requiring circumcision of Gentile converts maintained the distinction between Jew and Gentile prominent in the prophetic tradition used by Yakov. suffer the consequences for failing to do so. and Apocalyptic Hope: Another Look at Galatians 1 and 2.” She also identifies two prophetic traditions concerning the Gentiles.6 As a result. . not on an equal basis with Israel. Israelite dominance over the nations has been maintained. in fact. seems to combine the two traditions regarding the fate of the Gentiles. In this passage. “When God establishes his Kingdom. however. How then are we to understand Yakov’s decision not to require circumcision of Gentile believers. Yakov followed the biblical idea that Israel’s restoration would result in not only Gentile belief.” JTS 42 (1991) 532–64. and one wherein they participate in Israel’s redemption. “Judaism. Jews believed that the eschatological acknowledgment of God and rejection of idolatry by Gentiles did not make the Gentiles into Jews. circumcision. while integrating the idea of the nations worshipping together with Israel. one of the latest prophetic oracles in the Hebrew Bible. and the Gentiles. Gentiles do not become Israelites. or Succot. would not be necessary for Gentile converts. What has changed is the depiction of the nations coming to Jerusalem uncoerced. but clearly under the dominance of Israel. become Jews. then the nations will be compelled to worship Yahweh. Summarizing Jewish ideas from this period.

The Gentiles will seek the Lord.” The meaning has been changed from the Masoretic Text’s idea that the people of Israel would possess Edom and all nations to that reflected in the Septuagint of the Gentiles seeking.132   violate the hope expressed in the prophetic tradition of Israelite dominion over the nations. The Septuagint.” it appears to have understood the word Wvr“d“y. Who would be the ultimate authority in matters of faith and doctrine? Clearly. In essence.8 The Acts 15:17 quotation of Amos 9:12 (LXX) adds the phrase.” its replacement in the Septuagint. “the Lord. The Masoretic Text asserts that the booth of David will be raised in order that the remnant of Edom and all the nations might be possessed by the nation of Israel. these changes allow the two prophetic traditions concerning the fate of the Gentiles to be combined. much as they were in Zech 14:16–19.” has been made into the subject of the verb “to seek. “they will possess. humanity”) for µ/da‘ (Edom). “they will seek” (i. “people. Philadelphia: Fortress. Yet. but as Gentiles under the dominance of and distinct from the Jews. “Edom” was the object of the verb “to possess. Yet. Moreover. Perhaps also included in this debate over the status of Gentile believers was a struggle for control of the fledgling Christian movement. 1977) 350. there would be no difference between Jew and Gentile.” as the object of the Gentiles’ seeking.” This difference probably is due to a confusion of the Hebrew word µd:a.” Thus the house of Israel will possess the nations. Instead of reading the Hebrew word Wvr“yyI.e. 8 7 . §kzhtÆsvsin). such a situation would not be in keeping with the vision of the prophets where the nations come to Jerusalem for instruction and are subservient to Israel. The idea of Israelite dominance over the nations would be further strengthened if Yakov used the Septuagintal version of Amos 9:11–12. By main- Hans Walter Wolff. the word I “people” is read by the Septuagint rather than “Edom. however. this church was viewed as the source of authority for the early Christians.. (“man. then they could potentially claim equal authority in matters of faith and doctrine. contains two important variants.7 Whereas in the Masoretic Text. since the matter of Gentile circumcision was submitted to the church in Jerusalem. if Gentiles were admitted as Jews. The Targum of Onkelos identified the house of Israel as the subject of the verb “to possess. Joel and Amos (Hermeneia. After all.

which no doubt was composed of people more sympathetic to a Christian piety understood from the vantage point of Judaism. they would be free from the generally-recognized mark of Jewish identity and association with Judaism. Such requirements would keep in place the prophetic tradition of Gentile subservience to Israel and. Yakov attempted to please the more conservative faction. sought to keep Christianity within the fold of Judaism. By not requiring circumcision of Gentile converts. Yakov’s decision. substantiate the authority of the Jerusalem church. Paul and those like him. Not requiring circumcision of Gentile converts would further dilute the Jewishness of early Christianity. Yakov’s decision concerning the status of the Gentiles strengthened the authority of the Jerusalem church. these people probably viewed the spiritualization of circumcision as another area in which Hellenism had eroded Jewish piety. represented by the Pharisees in Acts 15. that there was no distinction between Jew and Gentile within Christianity (Gal 3:23–29) weakened the efforts to interpret Christianity through a more Judaic lens. Paul’s argument. Acts 15 can be understood not only as a debate over the status of Gentiles in Christianity. Submitting to circumcision would only strengthen the ties to Judaism. One wonders why some of the Jewish Christians wanted to require circumcision of the Gentiles. It opened up Christianity to the influences of more Hellenized ideas and expressions. but also as a struggle over how the nascent movement would be shaped and guided. they would be brought under the umbrella or authority of the Jewish-Christian community in Jerusalem and Palestine. however. while requiring the Gentiles to honor the Mosaic Law and devotion to the temple. . thereby. Yakov’s decision also appears to be an effort designed to forge a compromise. These people. Reflecting more conservative beliefs. On the other hand. endeavored to free Christianity from the authority of Judaism by seeking to break free from it. therefore. can be understood as somewhat of a compromise. this would please Paul and his compatriots because then Christians would not be identified simply as Jewish converts. therefore. Yakov sought to insure a tighter control of the movement. by maintaining the distinction between Jew and Gentile. however.         133 taining Jewish distinctiveness. Thus. Perhaps by forcing the Gentiles to be circumcised. Seemingly. Some consideration should also be given to how Luke used the episode of the Jerusalem council in his history of the early church.

Luke portrays Jews. In many aspects. the very debates raging within Judaism carried over to Christianity. While Yakov’s decision concerning the Gentiles appears to have been an effort at furthering the development of Christianity under the auspices of the Jerusalem church. Gentiles. The numerous examples of Jewish opposition combined with Paul’s higher profile. by doing so. as well as episodes such as Peter’s vision in Caesarea seem designed to highlight the separation of Christianity from Judaism and the authority of those associated with more traditionally Judaic concepts of piety. . Yet. Paul has become the dominant character with his success in taking the gospel to the Gentiles in the midst of Jewish hostility. appear more receptive. As one reads through the book. Additionally. Early Jewish Christians from Palestine quite naturally understood their new faith in and devotion to Yeshua in Judaic terms. although some substantial conversions were made. Luke used this event as one of several examples of the growing animosity between Judaism and Christianity. Bruce Chilton’s interpretation of Yakov’s decision at the Jerusalem Council has helped illuminate the inner struggles of early Christianity. It also has given a much needed emphasis to the Judaic origins of this movement. for the most part. but also sought to mold Christian piety under the auspices of Judaism. and precipitated a crisis that forced the Church’s leadership to determine the relationship between Jewish and Christian identity. as largely antagonistic toward the followers of Yeshua.134   While Yakov seems to have offered a compromise that freed Gentile coverts from the necessity of taking upon themselves Jewish identity. their understanding collided with that of Hellenized Jews and Gentile believers. on the other hand. this episode occurs in the book at a point where Paul has increasingly been given more prominence. Luke used the story to weaken the connection by emphasizing the repeal of any mark identifying Gentiles with Judaism.

4 Published in Latin between 1658 and 1674. Pp.1 and Bishop Brian Walton’s magisterial edition of the Jewish and Christian Bibles of his time2 are two examples of a programmatic desire to locate the New Testament in respect of Judaism which was encouraged by the historical curiosity of the eighteenth century. John Reuchlin’s consultation with Jekiel Loans at the close of the fifteenth century. München: Beck. The Life and Times of John Reuchlin. A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (4 vols. 1843) 53–55. Adolph). Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch (6 vols.. Loewe). Black. the revision of M. A convenient reprint of the 1859 Oxford edition is available: John Lightfoot. 7 Claude Goldsmid Montefiore. 1922–61). M. 6 Hermann Leberecht Strack and Paul Billerbeck (latterly with J. the first edition was reprinted and translated during the seventeenth century and subsequently. John Lightfoot’s Horae Hebricae et Talmudicae 4 provided a model which has been followed and developed many times since.6 by Claude Montefiore. 5 See. cf. 3 Cf. 1984). A Rabbinic Anthology (London: Macmillan. 1979).CONCLUSION: JESUS WITHIN JUDAISM Bruce Chilton Jesus and his movement may only be understood within the context of the Judaism of their time: that has long been a truism of scholarship. F. 1938).. or Capnion (London: Whittaker. Goodman. 8 George Foot Moore. Grand Rapids: Baker. G. 271–284 present a bibliography.5 by Paul Billerbeck. for example. 2 Brian Walton.8 1 Cf. 1927–1930). P. In fact. recognition of the Judaic matrix of Christianity predates what is usually thought of as the period of critical study. 1930). 1973–87). Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: The Age of the Tannaim (3 vols. Rabbinic Literature and Gospel Teachings (London: Macmillan. Vermes. Biblia Sacra Polyglotta (London: 1655–57). The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 BC–AD 135) (4 vols.7 by George Foot Moore. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.. The Authority of the Bible and the Rise of the Modern World (London: SCM Press. usually in comparison with the New Testament. Francis Barham. .. Clark. Vermes. Edinburgh: T. Jeremias and K. idem (with H. Millar. Henning Graf Reventlow.3 A comprehensive interest in history provided a necessary condition for the encyclopedic registration of Judaica. among others by Emil Schürer (and his revisers). & T.

Jesus der Galiläer und das Judentum (Veröffentlichungen des Instituts zur Erforschung des jüdischen Einflusses auf das deutchse kirchliche Leben. van Unnik (eds. and makes a brief and lamentable appearance in the guise of critical scholarship with Walter Grundmann’s exercise for an organization that thrived during the Third Reich.” Rabbinic Judaism is held to a debased form of the religion which Jesus and the prophets of the canon upheld.). J. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Günther Bornkamm. C. Jesus’ relationship to Judaism has been denied or ignored. Complete denial is common in popular and/or devotional works. Essentially. Jesus von Nazareth (Urban-Bütcher 19. 1940). Social. 12 Cf. Assen: Van Gorcum.10 But critical scholars more typically take the tack of Rudolf Bultmann11 and his student. Political History. he constantly notes that the Judaism he treats of is a variegated phenom9 S. with D. But both problems suggest that students of the New Testament should have recourse to the relevant works of Judaica and to competent introductions. 10 Walter Grundmann. The Literature of the Sages: The Literature of the Jewish People in the Period of the Second Temple and the Talmud (CRINT 2. Philadelphia: Fortress. ignoring the sources of the Judaism they describe as “Late. Günther Bornkamm:12 they attempt a direct comparison of Jesus with the Prophets. Perhaps the dearth of readily accessible translations (until recently) explains why. two types of problem have been identified: the encyclopedic works do not provide enough by way of context to permit of a sensitive reading of Judaica. das Institut des jüduschen Einflusses auf das deutsche kirchliche Leben. Cultural and Religious Life and Institutions (2 vols.. Jesus (Die unsterblichen.136   by Safrai and Stern. Tomson (eds. Neither type of problem should be taken to mean that the task of encyclopedic comparison is impossible. CRINT 1.). . Flusser and W. The Jewish People in the First Century: Historical Geography.3. : Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Harper & Row. with P. die geistigen Heroen der Menschheit.1–2. 11 Cf. and they typically fail to do justice to the chronological development of Judaism in its considerable variety. 1926). Assen: Van Gorcum. 1934). 1987). 1960). The advance is perhaps a function of Moore’s approach of the subject matter in a thoroughly historical manner. repeatedly during the course of the twentieth century. Rudolf Bultmann.9 The difficulties of comparing the New Testament with Judaica have been discussed often and thoroughly. Berlin: Deutsche Bibliotek. 1956). Safrai and M. Leipzig: Weigand. 1974–76). Safrai. George Foot Moore’s Judaism marks the beginning of a sea change from the encyclopedic comparison which had treated Judaism as a static entity. : Jesus and the Word (New York: Scribner’s. See also S. Stern. Philadelphia: Fortress.

” in idem.377–78. Philadelphia: Fortress. 1973). and Hanina ben Dosa.119. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus: The Tradition and the Man (2 vols. His argument is nothing if not elastic. Geza Vermes takes up just these two examples within his portrait of Jesus as a “charismatic” or “Hasid. “Character of Judaism. Jesus the Jew. for example.209. and Hanina is said to have brought about healing at a distance by means of prayer. . 15 Moore. the pluralism would be emphasized much more.17 Despite the wealth of halakhic and exegetical material attributed to Eliezer.. George Foot Moore. his work has been (mis)taken as simply one more exercise in encyclopedic comparison. 1981) 69–82. 235. however. in presenting that category as an alternative to that of a rabbi.14 Honi is said to have been able to control rain by praying within a circle he drew on the ground. SJLA 3–4. As he points out. Judaism. a sage renowned for his mastery of tradition. and Moore’s claim of the achievement of “unity and universality” (p. Leiden: Brill. called the circler. rather than methodological. repr. despite his warnings against that assumption. and leaves aside an analytic comparison with the sources of Christianity. of course. His two best examples are Honi. 14 See Moore. 1. Vermes makes him out as a non-rabbinic charismatic on the strength of his recourse to miraculous demonstration during the dispute over the stove of Akhnai in Baba Mesia 59b. because Moore limits himself to an ostensible description of Judaism.222. 3. even Aqiba was said to have prayed successfully for rain. but he locates them both within rabbinic Judaism. Jesus the Jew: An Historian’s Reading of the Gospels (London: Collins. 1. “Jesus and Charismatic Judaism. since he even concludes that Eliezer ben Hyrcanus was a charismatic. Moore observes that neither Honi nor Hanina appears to have been a very influential teacher. 2. Moore was especially attracted to the teachers within the rabbinic corpus to whom miraculous powers are attributed.110–21. 17 In regard to Eliezer.”16 Vermes differs from Moore.15 In his popular work. The great problem of Moore’s opus is hermeneutical. 1973. 111) at the close of the period would be denied. 235–36. Because he wrote in an environment in which the global contrast between Judaism and Christianity was simply assumed. 16 Geza Vermes. Eliezer’s alleged recourse to miracle is no more incompatible with his standing within rabbinic discussion than is Hillel’s designation as 13 See.   137 enon. Judaism. The first edition appeared in 1967.13 But the implications of pluralism within Judaica for the comparative task are not spelled out.” in Judaism. 2. In fact. see Jacob Neusner. Today.

M.”19 comparable to Jesus’. the appendix to the Mishnah (3:9–10). especially “Spirit and Body of the Hasidic Movement. 1955) 279–98. his debt to Moore).110–14. it way be instructive to read Buber’s The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism (ed. Vermes does not explain the sources of his thought (nor. without any indication that—as Vermes maintains—“rabbi” and “hasid” were mutually exclusive categories. Nahum N. 1987) 15–31.” in idem. New York: Scribner’s. and the image of the prayerful Hasid appealed both to theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr and to historians such as Roland De Vaux and André Dupont-Sommer in their work on the Dead Sea Scrolls. here 15. “Qumran Beginnings. Hillel the Elder. Catholic thought) after the Second World War made Martin Buber a companion saint with Karl Barth. 274–75. History and Ideology in the Dead Sea Scrolls (BJS 94. and he has recently been described as having “reiterated it without any essential modification ever since.20 The picture of the sectarians of Qumran as monastic Hasidim has since drawn considerable criticism. “Jesus and Charismatic Judaism. 19 Vermes.”22 Cf.138   a hasid. indeed. 20 Cf. and tr. 21 Burrows. 1. The Dead Sea Scrolls. 22 Philip R. The neo-orthodox mode of Protestant thought (and. The Emergence of Classical Judaism (Washington: B’nai B’rith. but they are plain enough. for a commendation of “self-transcendence” which is—earlier in the volume—also attributed to Buber.” 113–49. conservative Jews in general rather than a definite sect or party. in its wake. 1949) 2. In association with Niebuhr’s work. but this does not yet provide a specific identification. 1960). 2.” 77.133. at first active within the French-speaking Catholic circles which propagated the hasidic/Essene hypothesis. worked on the scrolls during the period in which the hypothesis was most in vogue. We may therefore say that the organized sect of the Dead Sea Scrolls arose among the Hasidim.21 Vermes. A Christian Interpretation (2 vols. seems to designate devout. The term Hasidim. Glazer. however.. The Nature and Destiny of Man. which in some ways anticipates the current period of revisionism concerning the Essene hypothesis in the study of Qumran. Reinhold Niebuhr. 1959).26. when in fact they are incorporated together with other teachers’ wisdom within "Abot. Behind the Essenes. In regard to the Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking. 18 . Millar Burrows remarked as early as 1955: Not a few scholars have identified the covenanters of Qumran with the Hasidim. Friedman. Atlanta: Scholars Press. New York: Horizon. see Millar Burrows.18 Another sign of Vermes’s conceptual embarrassment is that he suddenly refers to Hanina’s teaching as “logia. Davies. Indeed.

1939) 92. if the movement continues. Building upon the earlier work of (and the examples already adduced by) Hugh Odeberg. University of Chicago Press. 690 (with n. 24 See Hugh Odeberg. As if in compensation for the lack of direct evidence for a portrait of Jesus as such a self-consciously heroic figure. 1979) 686–702. idem. Hanina.23 It remains an unresolved issue within critical study.). Chicago. should already have been taken as warnings against such a bifurcation. in the tradition of Moore. At the same time. S. 26 William Scott Green. “The Cultural Setting of Galilee: The Case of Regionalism and Early Judaism. On Charisma and Institution Building (The Heritage of Sociology. First. 1979) 619–47. or Jesus.” in W.   139 The adjective “charismatic” serves in Vermes’s reading to distinguish Jesus (with Honi and Hanina) from any communal structure. rather than as belonging to humanity as a whole. Vermes is specifically criticized on p. revolutionary stage. Vermes’s portrait of the charismatic Hasid has been weakened since the publication of Jesus the Jew. so that any bifurcation of “Hasidim” from rabbis within the first century would not seem to be recommended.3.” JSNT 1 (1978) 19–32. Lund: Gleerup. 160–91. has effectively been disproved by subsequent study.26 (But then.25 In three respects.19. “The ‘Son of Man’ Debate. 27 Cf. Vermes’s own reference to Eliezer. the notion of the isolation of Galilee from Judea (and from the Greco-Roman world). Jesus the Jew. it has been 23 See Max Weber (ed.2 (Berlin: de Gruyter. 646. Eisenstadt). and Moore’s to Aqiba. “Palestinian Holy Men: Charismatic Leadership and Rabbinic Tradition. 154–57. Meyers. however. which is asserted several times by Vermes without supporting evidence. Eric M. the distinction between miracle and tradition as a ground of authority.” in W. Vermes pushed the discussion of the Aramaic locution “son of man” in a new and interesting direction. Haase (ed.27 Third. and tr. N. It functions in the manner of Max Weber’s portrait of the charismatic hero whose personality is the basis of a religious movement in its initial.” in idem. Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt II. whether that paradigm of charismatic heroism can appropriately be applied to Honi. .) Second. Haase (ed.24 Vermes suggested that a speaker might refer to himself as “son of man” as a circumlocution for his own personal existence.1 (Berlin: de Gruyter. The Aramaic Portions of Bereshit Rabbah (Lund Universitets Arsskrift 36.19. 1968) 251–309. 25 Vermes. Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt II. 12).). “Charisma and Institutionalization in the Sphere of Religion and Culture. a settled hierarchy is the mark of its routinization. William Scott Green has shown that Honi and Hanina were both claimed by rabbis of a later period as of their own. Green acknowledges.

. The Jewish Reclamation of Jesus. The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus (Issues in Religion and Theology 5. London: SPCK. Philadelphia: Fortress.). The Religion of Jesus the Jew (London: SCM Press. Just after the publication of Hagner’s work. Meyer presaged the work of the next decade.30 Meyer focused upon the texts of the Gospels in the first instance. Hagner. and of the principal terms of reference within the Judaism of Jesus’ period. Falk’s book demonstrates the continuing influence of apologetic considerations within scholarly discussion. which he also cites (p.” in F.31 The principal insight which Meyer offers is that Jesus is only to 28 See Bruce Chilton. 1983). Religious and Theological Studies (South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism 81. Jesus and the World of Judaism (London: SCM Press. as providing a review of some of the literature. idem. Together with Hagner’s. 30 Ben F. Atlanta: Scholars Press. as important in its time as Weiss’s Die Predigt Jesu was in the last century. 19): . Meyer. 29 Cf. Jesus the Jew has brought about a renewal of interest in the Judaic matrix of Jesus and Christianity. Meyer’s book is an enduring monument of its own insight and of what was to come. 1993) 97–114. 31 On the importance of Weiss within critical discussion. Mention should be made of Donald A. Leuven: Peeters and University Press.29 The Aims of Jesus by Ben F. Meyer signaled a fresh and vital engagement with Judaism by scholars of the New Testament. Approaches to Ancient Judaism (New Series). the most intense and critical discussion of Jesus since the last century. 1992) 1. see B. 3 vols. An Analysis & Critique of the Modern Jewish Study of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan. “The Son of Man: Human and Heavenly. the writers of the Gospels never meant to say that the Nazarene came to abolish Judaism. . but only that he came to establish a religion for the Gentiles from that time onward.). Chilton. 1979). 1984).. 1993).203–18. Nor was it new. Vermes. but actually ancient.140   demonstrated that “son of man” in Aramaic is a generic form of language in which a speaker includes himself within the realm of humanity. In his exegetical focus as well as in his sensitivity to literary development. Volume Four. Neusner (ed. Meyer never lost sight of the catalytic place of eschatology within the Judaic milieu of Jesus. G.28 Despite the weakness of its own argument. which were forgotten. Falk defends the position of Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697–1776). The Aims of Jesus (London: SCM Press. . Harvey Falk’s Jesus the Pharisee: A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus (New York: Paulist. 1985) appeared. also available in J. The Four Gospels 1992: Festschrift Frans Neirynck (BETL 100. rather than the heroic designation of oneself as distinct from others which Vermes claimed it was. At the same time. Van Segbroeck et al. 1984). they being the Seven Commandments of the Sons of Noah. with a critical capacity to allow for the tendencies of development which took up from the time of Jesus. (eds.

Meyer. “Jésus et les païens. That should have been the first lesson we learned from the scrolls found near Qumran. according to Meyer. Aims of Jesus. Joachim Jeremias. he in turn worked out the suggestions of B. in Jesu Verheissung für die Volker. Aims of Jesus. 223. 1956). 36 J.”35 Meyer’s analysis was not. Jesus’ career begins to become intelligible as a unity. Vermes’s Jesus is a charismatic miracleworker whose teaching was incidental.36 had already called attention to the symmetry between (on the one hand) the prophetic and rabbinic expectation of the eschatological extension of Israel. Aims of Jesus. Meyer’s Jesus is galvanized by a particular and specifiable purpose which his teaching expresses and his actions effect. London: SCM Press. and did not pretend to be. entirely original. while Meyer is more cautious in his assessments of authenticity. because early Judaism was more pluralistic than Rabbinic literature alone would suggest.   141 be understood within the medium of Judaism. 221. but corresponds to the paradigm of the tribes of Israel. Meyer located Jesus within Judaism. but that the movement of which the New Testament is the greatest monument itself represents an understanding of Judaism as well as a portrayal of Jesus. 239–41. once the theme of national restoration in its full eschatological sweep is grasped as the concrete meaning of the reign of God. but then allowed of the distinctive character and logic of Jesus’ movement. 153–54. But its genuine originality is Meyer. was the restoration of Israel: In sum. 35 Meyer. Sundkler. in that for them “the religious factor should become absolutely decisive for the self-definition of Israel.33 The number of the apostles who are commissioned to preach and heal is not a coincidental rounding. Jeremias. 1958). Aims of Jesus.32 Where Vermes sketched a version of early Judaism on the basis of Rabbinic sources within which he attempted to categorize Jesus. Jesu Verheissung für die Volker (Kohlhammer: Stuttgart.” RHPR 16 (1936) 462–63. : Jesus’ Promise to the Nations (SBT 14. 223. and (on the other hand) the radical claims attributed to Jesus. 33 32 .34 Jesus and his followers were motivated by the hope of the restoration and extension of the people of God. In the view of Jeremias those attributions are correct. As Jeremias himself remarks in his preface. 34 Meyer. The focus of Jesus’ aims. Meyer’s book would merit continued attention if its only contribution was to retool Jeremias’s analysis for a new day.

Die Geschichte Jesu Christi (Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt. The need for development was pressing. Damascus [Matthew]. idem.142   more profound. It is not surprising. in the approaches of each a development of Meyer’s perspective is evident. . Vermes’s charismatic Hasid is less a function of early Judaism than of some of the most anti-Judaic elements within the Gospels. Die Entscheidung Jesu. and Sanders worked independently. as Jeremias ultimately was. Die frühe Christenheit und ihre Schriften: Umwelt. Meyer elegantly rectified an anomaly within the critical study of Jesus. Zur geschichtlichen Bedeutung der Gestalt Jesu von Nazareth (Berlin: Evangelische Verlag. Grundmann. Entstehung und Eigenart der neutestamentlichen Bücher (Stuttgart: Calwer. cf. Chilton. that Judaism becomes the cipher within a theological claim of transcendence. Meyer was not trapped. 1972). Although Borg. Vermes inadvertently yields to that facile hermeneutic. After all. encyclopedic comparisons with Judaism were inclined to accept assertions in the Gospels at face value. the old. Jesus and the Transcendence of Judaism (London: Darton. Grundmann continued to argue a form of his position. because—although Meyer indeed framed his concerns with reference both to early Judaic eschatology and the emerging tendencies of the New Testament—he finally could only argue in a general way for a theology of restoration of which Jesus 37 At least. while scholars of the New Testament generally stressed the importance of developing tendencies within the corpus. Longman & Todd.37 The challenge of Meyer’s contribution was in various ways taken up by three works during the decade which followed. 1980). Since the Synoptic Gospels in their received forms are the products of communities in the Hellenistic world (probably in Rome [Mark]. however. 1956). idem. we have an appeal to the old saw that Jesus set out to replace the religion which was in fact his milieu. in view of the apologetic tendency of discussion which has already been noted. Meyer freely allowed that the Gospels are tendentious. 1983). and Antioch [Luke]) who lived in tension with Jewish institutions. The anomaly had been that. In the case John Riches. by according primacy to stories of miracles rather than teaching. Vermes’s version of the hermeneutic of transcendence is relatively sophisticated. W. Rather. it is all too easy to read a Jesus off the page who triumphantly transcends Judaism. but he went on to argue convincingly that the positions ultimately attributed to Jesus are most easily explicable on the supposition that the theology of restoration was in fact Jesus’ aim. by the programmatic assumption that the Gospels are reliable as history. long after Jesus der Galiläer was published. although the critical literature had long since demonstrated that the likely progression was the reverse.

1987) 53. New York: Mellen. Harrisburg: Trinity Press International. Cassirer. J. see Robert D. Meyer left unexplored the realia of practice and belief which might have occasioned a career such as Jesus’ within Judaism. “Mircea Eliade: Anti-Historian of Religions. Four Theories of Myth in Twentieth-Century History. Lévi-Strauss and Malinowski (Iowa City: University of Iowa. Holiness and Politics in the Teaching of Jesus. written under the supervision of George Caird at Oxford University.). Borg attempted to locate Jesus’ activity within the world of Judaic concerns regarding purity. 1987). Culture. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Map Is Not Territory. Holiness and Politics in the Teaching of Jesus (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity 5.38 Building upon the phenomenological approach to religion developed by Huston Smith. Jonathan Z. sagacity is found in younger persons. Baird. In 1984. A New Vision. For important criticisms of the conceptions on which Borg relies. 380. the vantage point is 38 M. Holiness and Politics.39 The hypostasis of allegedly common experience into a monist “tradition. but the preface makes it clear that much of the distinctive matter of the book was developed afterwards. in the manner of shamans. and the Buddha. and the particulars which distinguished him from others. 230–47. acted on the basis of special insight into “the primordial tradition” which is accessible by mystical experience. Leiden: Brill. 39 Borg. 1994).   143 availed himself. Ivan Strenski. Spirit.” JAAR 44 (1976) 345–59. Eliade. Smith. 40 On p. His principal sources were the classical Prophets of the Bible and the Gospels’ portrayal of Jesus public ministry and teaching. any consideration of the setting of his teaching within Judaism is made subsidiary to the claim that his mystical insight was profound and that it was mature at a relatively early stage in his life: Occasionally and remarkably. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Category Formation and the History of Religions (The Hague: Mouton. Studies in the History of Religions (SJLA 23. Jesus.” as in Smith’s work (and Otto’s and Eliade’s before him. In a later work. as well as Campbell’s alongside him) has not stood up well to criticism among religionists. Otto’s The Idea of the Holy is also of foundational importance to Borg’s definition (p. Borg argues that Jesus. Guilford Dudley. Conflict. 1971. Their Place in Philosophy and Religion (Leiden: Brill. 1991). 1978). . Borg approvingly cites Eliade’s Shamanism and Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces. and the Life of Discipleship (San Francisco: Harper. Shlomo Biderman (ed. which is in the nature of a popularization of his approach. Borg cites Smith’s Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition and Eliade’s Myth and Reality. cf.40 Borg makes Jesus into a hero of religious experience. repr. In such instances. 1998). The dissertation was submitted in 1972. Myth and Fictions. Borg. the prophets. Entitled Conflict. Borg. 73). Conflict. as in Jesus and the Buddha. Marcus Borg published a revised version of his doctoral dissertation. 1984.

in that he does accept that “a pure heart” was Jesus’ goal.44 His appeal to the “primordial tradition” ultimately swallows up his attention to the practice of purity. . Borg. But despite his conceptual confusion. Conflict. Holiness and Politics. 51–199.41 Nonetheless. and portrayed Jesus as a triumphant herald of anti-cultic common sense. See Borg. The battle is never resolved in Borg’s mind. 93. Borg set a standard for subsequent.46 He never considers. 238. for example. He is doing what many early Christians did who had approached Jesus with cultural backgrounds unlike that of Jesus himself: unable to comprehend the sense of purity. Jesus spoke of mercy. which especially put him into conflict many of with his contemporaries. “the hermeneutical battle between mercy and holiness. He held in effect that it was Jesus’ particular understanding that God was creating a newly holy territory. Holiness and Politics. there is an implicit challenge to discover his view of purity.144   obviously not the product of the age. that the very antinomies to which he averts. Holiness and Politics. Conflict. Conflict. they made any interest in it a “Pharisaic” anachronism. the transformation of perception is the product of their spiritual experience. Conflict. and proceeded 41 42 43 44 45 46 Borg.”45 takes over from any serious discussion of purity as a central category of Jesus’ ministry. Conflict. however. 246. 128. 230–47. Mark 7 and its parallels). Holiness and Politics. Holiness and Politics. 142. Conflict. Borg. Borg. notably his Pharisaic contemporaries. historical discussion: if Jesus is to be understood within Judaism. purity/ mercy and outside/inside. Holiness and Politics. so that the old apologetic antinomy. Chilton’s book appeared in the same year as Borg’s. Borg did begin in the central section of his book42 to consider Jesus’ attitude toward purity as of primary importance for an understanding of his ministry for the first time within critical discussion since the end of the Second World War.43 But alongside a positive evaluation of Jesus’ program of purity. Borg also slips into the bifurcation of Jesus and Judaism: Where Judaism spoke of holiness as the paradigm for the community’s life. are those which characterize the most Hellenistic strata of the Gospels (see. a space for his heavenly throne. Borg. rather.

however. The Targum of Jeremiah (ArBib 12. that the date printed on the title page is an error. Wilmington: Glazier. 2–3. Wilmington: Glazier. Saldarini. J. and thematic associations between exegetical traditions within the Targum and Jesus’ teaching. 1987) 3–4. xxiv. Apparatus. The Glory of Israel. K. 1987). Sheffield: JSOT Press. contextual. In a condensed form. It might be mentioned.50 Throughout the process. 50 Chilton. BibSem 8. 1987) 3. in that he had earlier argued that Targum Jonathan (especially Isaiah) should be placed within the period of the ascendancy of Islam. Churgin. Clark. 1982). A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible: Jesus’ Use of the Interpreted Scripture of His Time (GNS 8.” VT 21 (1971) 186–96. 1979.48 A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible explores the relationship between Jesus and the Targum further. 1987) xiii–xxx. R. 1989) 12–14. P. they spoke as the voice of synagogues and of schools. cf. The Targum of the Minor Prophets (ArBib 14. the communal nature of the interpretative work of the meturgeman was emphasized. Targum Jonathan of the Former Prophets (ArBib 10. had suggested that exegetical traditions incorporated within the Targum of Isaiah were taken up and developed in dominical sayings. The Targum of Ezekiel (ArBib 13. It confirms that the literary history of the Targum only commenced after the burning of the Temple in 70 CE. That work was completed by another meturgeman. “The Date of Targum Jonathan to the Prophets.49 A version— no doubt incomplete—of Isaiah in Aramaic was composed by a meturgeman who flourished between 70 and 135 CE. The Isaiah Targum. Introduction. 1987) 38. and the link between targumic traditions and Jesus’ teaching has generally been granted. Chilton.51 Given the 47 Bruce D. insofar as individuals were involved. 48 Bruce D. 51 The model developed for the case of the Targum of Isaiah is applied in D. Chilton had suggested that the Targum of Isaiah should be understood to have developed in two principal stages. also with the subtitle Jesus’ own interpretation of Isaiah (London: SPCK. Sheffield: JSOT Press. P. The proposed dating of the Targum has been confirmed by subsequent discussion. 1984). although the error involved misplacing his book by a decade! Cf. The Glory of Israel. cf. Gordon. God in Strength: Jesus’ Announcement of the Kingdom (SNTU 1. xxi. Harrington and A. The Theology and Provenience of the Isaiah Targum ( JSOTSup 23. Bruce D. idem. J. and Notes (ArBib 11. J. Wilmington: Glazier. In a work published in 1982. Wilmington: Glazier. who died in 333. Cathcart and R. S. The Isaiah Targum. Levey. Chilton. (Churgin’s work suffered a similar fate.   145 along a much narrower line of analysis.47 His earlier work. Wilmington: Glazier. Hayward. For the sections of the Targum most representative of each meturgeman. 1984). Chilton. repr. Levey’s acceptance of the paradigm is especially noteworthy. Targum Jonathan to the Prophets (Yale Oriental Series [New Haven: Yale University Press. 49 Cf. . Translation. but that there are verbal. Edinburgh: T. H. Wilmington: Glazier. in the interests of accuracy. & T. associated with Rabbi Joseph bar Hiyya of Pumbeditha. Freistadt: Plöchl. 1927]). Chilton’s conclusions are available in The Isaiah Targum. on the place of the kingdom of God within Jesus’ public proclamation.

The Son of Man in Mark (London: SPCK. Neusner’s in JES 22 (1985) 359–61.” cf. Montreal: McGill University Press. which would later be crystallized in the Targumim) by way of analogy.55 Such a confused reading of the book leads to the misimpression that Chilton attributed a systematic theology to Jesus. 54 Chilton. and was published by an Anglican house as well as by a Catholic publisher. “Those Outside (Mk. The last third of A Galilean Rabbi is devoted overtly to the theological implications of Jesus’ instrumental usage of scripture.54 He comes to the conclusion that Jesus’ method should not be described as midrash. they were “only to be expected. H. that does not prevent such arguments from being made. for the simple reason that the existence of such a theology is denied. New Blackfriars 66 (1985) 550–52.52 The problem posed by Chilton’s book is not in its findings. Jesus’ 52 Of course. scriptural imagery. That implicit but powerful analogy—involving both similarities and critical distinctions—was always between what was said of God and what Jesus claimed of God as a matter of experience. but in interpreting what those findings mean. J. A Galilean Rabbi.” NovT 33 (1991) 289–302. S.53 Chilton himself applies his discovery within the discussion of Jesus’ use of Scripture. Rather. . that although the connection posited between Jesus’ teaching and the Targum were demonstrated. Alexander’s review in JJS 36 (1985) 238–42 and. cf. McNamara in CBQ 47 (1985) 184–86 and 48 (1986) 329–31 and I. There has been a tendency to confuse the historical and literary analysis of the book (the relationship between Jesus and the Isaiah Targum) with its theological argument (that analogy is the appropriate approach to scripture within the Church). Michael D. Cf. The question his book begs does not involve Jesus’ theology of Scripture. Goulder. 148–98. when his stated conclusion is that Jesus employed scripture in the service of an experience of God. in contrast. since there is no general plan of commentary evident within his sayings. 55 See P. 1967). D. cf. when her work on the phrase “son of man” is innocent of reference to the Targumim. Jesus employed scripture. 4:10–12. The book was in fact written to some extent with a view to continuing debates concerning authority within the Church. 53 Hence the remarkable conclusion of M. Hooker’s review. the argument that agreements between the targumic renderings and Jesus’ sayings are simply a matter of coincidence appear strained. It is odd that Professor Hooker now finds such connections predictable.146   periods of development of the Isaiah Targum. and scriptural language (all in the popularly received form. the very different conclusions of M. Marshall in EvQ 58 (1986) 267–70.

Jesus and Judaism. “Other Indications of Restoration Eschatology. and chap. F. Conflict. What distinguishes Jesus from John the baptizer and Judaism generally is not his view of the kingdom: that in Sanders’s opinion was commonplace. P. Jesus parted company with his contemporaries over the issue of repentance. Philadelphia: Fortress. 60 In addition to Borg. such that he held his actions were bringing about the kingdom. His treatment of the earlier criticisms of T. The issue of eschatology is subsidiary for Sanders in the end. whether there is in fact evidence of an apocalyptic scenario held by Jesus. H. 124–25. in that Sanders accepts Schweitzer’s contribution virtually as read. Sanders. E. Francis Glasson. “A Temperate Case for a Non-Eschatological Jesus.58 In that regard. 3. Dodd61 does not deal with the central issue. Sanders is out of step with the criticism of the simplistic eschatology which Schweitzer attributed to Jesus. and argues that Jesus was motivated by an ambient theology of the restoration of Israel. P.” Forum 2 (1986) 81–102. . he insists that Jesus offered the kingdom 56 E. Sanders made an attempt along the lines of discussion prior to Vermes’s contribution to make a global distinction between Jesus and his Judaic milieu. also available in Chilton (ed. and Politics. see idem. Holiness. 58 See Sanders’s treatment of his relationship to Schweitzer in Jesus and Judaism. and left unresolved. “New Temple and Restoration in Jewish Literature.” 77–90.59 Borg especially in recent years has been identified with a rigorous challenge of purely temporal constructions of the kingdom of God in Jesus’ teaching.   147 understanding of how God is experienced is the question that is opened. 57 See chap. 61 Sanders.” 91–119. 154–56. Glasson and C. 1985). see T. “Schweitzer’s Influence: Blessing or Bane?” JTS 28 (1977) 289–302. Where they saw repentance as a requirement of remaining within the covenant. Specifically. 107–20.60 and it is surprising that Sanders asserts Scwheitzer’s position without defending it against Borg’s criticisms. Jesus and Judaism (London: SCM Press. Jesus imagined that the kingdom of God was making itself available to all Israel. whether there was repentance or not. The Kingdom of God in he Teaching of Jesus.). 2.57 His construction of the theology is more apocalyptic than Meyer would have it.56 Sanders essentially takes Meyer’s perspective as axiomatic. In Jesus and Judaism. 327–34. 59 For the difficulties involved in Schweitzer’s conception of Jesus’ apocalypticism.

The residue of his teaching. because they are recurring arguments in the study of Jesus. The only index at his disposal to suggest that Jesus did not require repentance is that the Gospels claim he did require repentance! See Sanders.148   to the wicked without repentance.62 Sanders has been criticized for the slim evidential basis of his claim. Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus (London: SCM Press. 187. 65 N. (Crossan’s work.” TynBul 39 (1988) 1–18. 63 See Chilton. as Cynic. and/or as transcendent Redeemer. 323. In that those fashions were demonstrably generated after the foundation of the movement. discussed below. of course.” developed most articulately by Norman Perrin. they are then put to the side. Jesus and Judaism. The first feature is the global application of “the criterion of dissimilarity.) Such a bias can only result in the privileging of the christology of certain wings of early Christianity. Sanders’s application of the criterion of dissimilarity exacerbates its inherent weakness. two of its constituent features should be identified. to make them the touchstone of authenticity is itself an exercise in modern christology. He is. there has been a willingness to discount what seems Jewish and what seems orthodox. Moreover. everything that is “dissimilar” to what a Jewish or Christian teacher might have held. the wings within which it was fashionable to see Jesus as magus.64 Although the weakness of the logic invoked by Sanders is obvious. 322. 106–13. 62 .65 The criterion is used to isolate elements within Jesus’ teaching which are characteristic of Judaism and Christianity. The assumption of Jesus as the great original. 64 Sanders. heroically dissimilar from his environment. New York: Harper & Row. but to embrace as authentic elements which are consistent with Gnosticism and with Greco-Roman philosophical conventions. 206–208. as likely to have been attributed to Jesus during the course of the transmission of his sayings. Jesus and Judaism. from Perrin onwards. 227. Sanders. “Jesus and the Repentance of E. is intrinsic to every application of the criterion that has ever been attempted. Perrin.” JSNT 19 (1983) 5–36.63 Because a growing emphasis upon repentance is apparent as the Christian tradition developed. in no position to claim that a saying attributed to Jesus contradicts the necessity of repentance. 1967) 39. “Jesus and the Sinners. is an example of that trend. is then taken to be authentic. and his earlier work. 199. P. Sanders takes it that Jesus himself said nothing whatever about repentance.

and have in fact been spelt out during the course of Sanders’s career.. Sanders. 1982) 39–450. The article is a succinct statement of a position developed in several different publications. and it would appear that he also observed such commandments as those governing eating and Sabbath observance. 67 The actual formulation is taken from E. based upon the “certain knowledge about Jesus’ ministry” (viz. after his death.69 While his Jesus indeed does not formally deny Judaism. P. he acted in the name of the God of the Patriarchs. On the other 66 E. Haase (ed. Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (London: SCM Press. 1977). Sanders. The second constituent feature of Sanders’s argument. On the side of Judaism. which also illuminates much recent discussion. P. . 68 Sanders. Sanders nonetheless insists that his reading does not involve a “polar opposition” between Jesus and Judaism. his characteristic activity of healing and preaching. 321. did not understand him to have “abrogated” the Torah. Sanders claims that his interpretation is virtually positivistic.”67 Accordingly. Jesus and Judaism.1 (Berlin: de Gruyter. here 394. nor was he an anti-Jewish Jew. Sanders’s portrait has nothing to recommend it but the allure of an antinomian Jesus.). refusing the necessity of repentance would amount to a systematic (and—one would have thought—conscious) rejection of received Judaism. his call of disciples.” in W. 337–40. Sanders had (as seen in Paul and Palestinian Judaism)66 already defined the religion as a form of “covenantal nomism. Jesus and Judaism. the question of the Torah is of structural importance within Sanders’s thesis: It is important not to oversimplify the stance of Jesus towards his contemporaries in Judaism and towards the Jewish law and tradition. The coordinates of the rupture are carefully laid out. “Jesus. is the assumption that Jesus is to be understood in historical terms in respect of an alleged rupture with Judaism.   149 Unless one accepts that the criterion of dissimilarity is of such certainty that one might employ it to invert the stated meaning of texts. 69 Sanders. He confined his preaching and healing to his own people. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II. We should repeat that the Jerusalem disciples. his baptism by John.” such that “obedience to the Torah” was “the means of maintaining membership in the covenant established by God’s grace. his “attack” on the Temple. On the side of Jesus.68 The antinomy between nomistic Judaism and an overtly antinomian Jesus seems inescapable.25. Philadelphia: Fortress. He was not a wild antinomian. Paul and Judaism. his execution).

most Hellenistic traditions within the Gospels ascribe an expressly antinomian or anti-cultic intention to Jesus. 71 70 . but the instrumental role which Sanders assigns to the law is more characteristic of Rabbinic sources from the Mishnah and later than of sources of the first century. and see the analysis of pp. Jesus and the Spiral of Violence. which had been developed earlier by S. A. and he thus extended the salvific promises not only beyond what a supposedly ossified and stiff-necked legalism could accept. F. Prophets. G. Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine (San Francisco: Harper & Row. 1967). and Messiahs (Minneapolis: Winston-Seabury. Horsley. Sanders’s Jesus is antinomian. 20–58. 1987). Moreover. Of course. Brandon. A critically more feasible construction of Jesus is offered by Richard Horsley in Jesus and the Spiral of Violence. “Jesus. The attempt to construe Jesus’ program as a conscious or systematic rupture with Judaism. See also Horsley and J. and both appear suppositious. F. Brandon. neither side of the antinomy is anything more than possible. Paul and Judaism. S.71 Horsley set Jesus’ movement within the context of the increase in banditry within Roman Palestine during the years leading up to the revolt which included elements of the priestly aristocracy from 66 CE: The brigand is a symbol of resistance to injustice as well as a champion of justice in his righting of wrongs for the poor villagers with whom he remains in close contact. 1985). 72 Horsley. although he also observes that Jesus Sanders.72 In contrast to the portrait of Jesus as a zealot. to make Jesus and Judaism into a duality. but beyond what could be reasonably inferred from Jewish tradition and Scripture. Bandits. brigands provide the occasions for supportive peasants to resist the authorities themselves. 37. he preached the inheritance of the kingdom to those who did not accept the yoke of the Torah.150   hand. The centrality of the covenant for Judaism is a virtual truism. not within the discussion of Jesus as a historical figure. R.” 427–28. A Study of the Political Factor in Primitive Christianity (Manchester: Manchester University Press. Jesus and the Zealots. Wild or not. Hanson. 73 S. G. is only feasible in theological terms.70 The ideological antinomy between “the Torah” and “the salvific promises” is as inevitable in its influence upon interpretation as the exaggerated appeal to the criterion of dissimilarity. And only the latest.73 Horsley argues that Jesus’ programmatically opposed violence.

Jesus’ mission was to bring restoration in the midst of systematic oppression: . Jesus and the Spiral of Violence.74 As Horsley has it. Jesus does not need to have thought in political or social terms in order to have inspired Martin Luther King. .78 No argument is made to the effect that Jesus or his movement construed the purpose of his activity within political terms of reference.76 but the setting of the portrait develops the hypothesis of Brandon. .”77 But like Brandon. a disturbing tendency of recent discussion becomes apparent. and he was confident that God was imminently to complete the restoration of Israel and judge the institutions that maintained injustice. Horsley. 36. but to conclude that any given teacher. 340 n. 1988). as in Sanders’s. 77 Horsley. 318. in that there is no assumption that there was a “sustained movement of violent resistance to Roman rule during the first century CE. 326. Jesus and the Spiral of Violence. Horsley projects a desire for revolution onto Jesus. Judaic or Christian. But in Horsley’s work. 75 74 . 76 Meyer. Galilee. Because discussion over the past fifty years or so has greatly enhanced the critical appreciation of Judaism. and attributes an antinomian form of it to Jesus. was motivated by political considerations.   151 can not be described as a pacifist on the grounds of the evidence available. Horsley knows there Horsley. Horsley. 321. Jesus was engaged in direct manifestations of God’s kingdom in his practice and preaching. and the Gospels. 78 Horsley.75 Horsley’s appealing portrait is evidently indebted to Meyer’s. Jesus. 319. Sanders finds a theology of restoration in Judaism. Jesus and the Spiral of Violence. 79 See S. Jesus and the Spiral of Violence. it is sometimes assumed that what is understood of Judaism can be transferred directly to the assessment of Jesus. Freyne. requires evidence within the texts to hand. There is no question but that Judaism and Christianity are better understood in respect of Rome. Aims of Jesus. Literary Approaches and Historical Investigations (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.79 remains useful as a sketch of some of the most pressing social realities of Palestine within the first century. cf. along with Sean Freyne’s. Jesus and the Spiral of Violence. Horsley’s analysis is more sophisticated than Brandon’s. who is therefore portrayed as a revolutionary. Horsley’s contribution.

as an Essene by Harvey Falk. The Historical Jesus. 349. 421. First. D. not as a sign of health in an emerging sub-discipline. 1984). Second. The recent contribution of John Dominic Crossan attests the strength of the temptation to retreat from Judaism in the evaluation of Jesus. Jesus the Magician (San Francisco: Harper & Row. & T.82 Such differences are taken.81 as a Galilean charismatic by Geza Vermes (1981. the range and diversity of that religion prior to the destruction of the Temple are enormous. 1978). Smith. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: HarperCollins. 1991). Crossan opts for the model of Jesus as a popular philosopher in the vein of the Cynics (whom he characterizes as “hippies in a world of Augustan yuppies”). Edinburgh: T. 84 Crossan. as a Hillelite or proto-Pharisee by Harvey Falk (1985). 80 .80 His book may be read as an extended attempt to construct a portrait of Jesus without reference to Judaism. and as an eschatological prophet by E. The Historical Jesus. xxvii. as a magician by Morton Smith (1978). 81 Crossan’s reference is to M.83 since there were many non-Jews in Galilee. There are two complications in studying Jesus within the milieu of his Judaism(s). F. but as a reason to use a different foundation of analysis. Crossan. and sees their motivations (but not their tactics) reflected in the Gospels. and for the most part only indirectly attested in the surviving literature. 82 Crossan. Brandon (1967). P. One reason for which the field is inclined to dismiss the importance of Judaism for the study of Jesus is that the evaluation of Judaic sources is no more straightforward than the evaluation of the Gospels. Clark. 421. It begins with an early complaint that scholars who have analyzed Jesus in relation to Judaism have come up with differing results: There is Jesus as a political revolutionary by S. the Gospels themselves only attest Jesus’ movement from the time when separation from Judaism had become either an accomplished fact or an inevitable development. During the course of his description. he admits that Jesus was unlike the Cynics in his calling of disciples. of course. G.152   were bandits in Galilee. as a Galilean rabbi by Bruce Chilton (1984). The Historical Jesus.84 in his refusal to have those J. 83 Crossan. Sanders (1985).

a liberal Catholic. and therefore magician against rabbi.88 Crossan is happy to use Vermes’s image of the hasid for that reason. Before the Second Temple’s destruction.87 A double projection is evident here. 86 Crossan. it was magician against Temple. The Historical Jesus. Crossan’s confusion becomes egregious. even an attenuated comparison. The Historical Jesus. masters (in varying degrees) of discussion and parable 85 Crossan. His criticism is based upon an elementary misunderstanding. As a result. 89 Crossan. 137–67.   153 he sent carry a staff. 82). wallet and staff ” as “almost an official triad” (p. with the Vatican in its post-Tridentine form. Earlier. when he goes on to compare rabbis with the priesthood in the Temple. he exchanges the charismatic hasid for a charismatic sage. 417. in the limitation of his activity to Israel. Evidently. the second is unwarranted: scholarship of Rabbinic Judaism through the second century would not encourage comparison.85 in his concern for questions of purity. 421–22. but he realizes it has not worn well. Crossan. . The Historical Jesus. That mystery is resolved when he criticizes the understanding of Jesus as a rabbi. as if they formed a united front. Crossan refers to “cloak. borrowing the category of magician from Morton Smith. 157. his acceptance of a sociological model of a charismatic hero of religion opposed by the forces of routinization has totally overwhelmed even a gesture towards understanding the complexity of Judaism during the first century: In all of this the point is not really Galilee against Jerusalem but the far more fundamental dichotomy of magician as personal and individual power against priest or rabbi as communal and ritual power. sees the papacy of the twentieth century reflected in the earlier use of communion with Rome as a standard of catholic continuity. in his avoidance of cities.86 The mystery is only why Crossan clings to such an evidently faulty model. The Historical Jesus. Crossan sees rabbis during the second century as the equivalent of the papacy on the Christian side: both are hierarchical assertions of doctrinal unity which attempt to homogenize the intrinsic pluralism of their respective religious systems. The Historical Jesus. 87 Crossan.89 The point has apparently escaped Crossan’s notice that the teachers we call rabbis. However helpful that first projection may (or may not) be. 339. 88 Crossan.

It should be noted that Crossan’s analysis belies the subtitle of his book. The Historical Jesus. New York: Doubleday. A Marginal Jew. Hayim Lapin. . As a matter of interest. but an artisan (The Historical Jesus. 1992) 600–602. 46. the fact that Jesus is called “rabbi” by his followers is simply beside the point. Although he carefully allows for the findings of Seán Freyne in respect of the Galilean setting of Jesus’ ministry. n. and that was Hellenistic Judaism. “Rabbi. pp. It has long been commonplace in the field to acknowledge that the formalism of a rabbinate.95 Finally. 418. Just Jesus’ identity as a rabbi is taken as a suitable point of departure by John P. . 34–35.” 95 Meier. 29. and even concludes that Jesus was literate in Hebrew. 278–315.96 Meier’s volume represents the first two parts of Cf. Rethinking the Historical Jesus (ABRL. A Galilean Rabbi. cf.94 Crossan’s usage of the so-called Apocryphal Gospels is also severely criticized in a judicious treatment of the likely chronologies and histories of composition. in the world and time of Jesus. Jesus was inclusive. it was because he was a woodworking rabbi. Meier very specifically embraces the category of “rabbi” as the suitable designation of Jesus’ public ministry. 96 Meier. 15–19). A Marginal Jew.92 Within such a typology. he reacts to many of its principal contentions (which had appeared in earlier works). and insofar as Jesus was a member of a peasant society. The Historical Jesus. 422. . G. A Marginal Jew. only one sort of Judaism. Meier. N. New York: Doubleday. A Marginal Jew. A. 276. we might note that the earlier article of Pierson Parker.93 Although Meier’s book appeared shortly before Crossan’s. “Rabbi. Meier questions whether we can reasonably claim any advancement in our knowledge in calling Jesus a peasant. including a concern for succession and a notion of a syllabus to be mastered by disciples. P. Freedman.” The Anchor Bible Dictionary 5 (ed. D. New York: Abingdon. who asserts. 90 . “There was. 93 J.90 Such nuances are lost on Crossan. only prevailed with the emergence of rabbis as the basis of systemic redefinition in the period after 70 CE.”91 Rabbinic Judaism was exclusive of Hellenistic influences. 1991). 91 Crossan. Meier. 125 on p. comes to much the same conclusion. Modern romanticism often obscures the meaning of the term. Buttrick. 306. Rabbouni. in that he concludes that Jesus was not a peasant. 94 Meier. 112–66.” The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible 4 (ed. One might suggest that Crossan has in fact written “The Life of a Judaeo-Cynic Artisan. 92 Crossan. cf. referred to each other as sages. See also Chilton. 1962) 3.154   and exposition and judgment and ethics and purity and health and healing and other aspects of covenantal wisdom.

13. political. how a person might be considered clean. but from within. The Temple of Jesus. in other words. 99 Chilton. while part four considers Jesus’ death. A Marginal Jew. The Temple of Jesus. is not the extraneous matter it is often taken to be. 101 Chilton. educational.100 in the Hebrew Bible. The Temple of Jesus. when Meier. 100 Chilton.98 Where A Galilean Rabbi developed a comparison of Jesus’ citation of Isaiah with the interpretative tradition of the Targum. not over and against Judaism.97 The analysis of Jesus within Judaic terms of reference has been pursued by Chilton in The Temple of Jesus. 102 Chilton. 45–67.99 It is argued that what Jesus did was in its initial intent neither a protest against sacrifice nor prediction of the Temple’s destruction. 1992).” and the second deals with “some of the linguistic. sacrificial communities believe they enjoy the affective and the ideological benefits which they associate with sacrifice. methods. The Temple of Jesus. 91–111. The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program Within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. necessarily. Bruce D.101 and even in the orientation of Josephus102—a vital component within any sacrifice which is considered effective. but—as is the case within sacrificial systems generally.” The public ministry is the focus of part three. the focal point of The Temple of Jesus is Jesus’ occupation of the Temple. and social background. nor alongside it. Jesus. 69–87. and by attending to those pragmatic issues. 3–42. The first part is devoted to “issues of definitions. that implies he is to be apprehended as having a positive definition of purity. must be understood. it is precisely Jesus’ view and practice of purity which was likely to have earned him friends and enemies both locally and in Jerusalem.   155 a four part project. Purity. 98 97 . That definition is cognate with an aspect of Jesus’ ministry which is usually overlooked: his programmatic concern with the issues of who is fit to sacrifice. Purity refers both to the products which are offered as well as to the gestures by which they are offered. in other words. Because purity is a systemic concern which links sacrifice in the Temple with the domestic practice of cleanliness. and sources. Chilton. but a forceful insistence that a condition of purity in sacrifice was that Israelites should offer of their own produce in God’s house.

Bruce D. which has already taught us what had been denied for a generation: that we must address the question of Jesus if we would understand Christianity. the declaration of purity. and what should be sacrificed. Chilton. 1994). Purity offers a perspective upon Jesus’ activity which is not an artifact of the apologetic tradition which attempts to portray him as transcending Judaism. Rather. 137–54. The Temple of Jesus. the historical Jesus. The Peril of Modernizing Jesus (Lowell Institute Lectures. The Temple of Jesus.106 Jesus obviously engaged the religious dimension of purity. the definition of who might be included in the eschatological banquet). That would be a fitting result of the interest in Jesus within Judaism.156   foods might be taken with whom. Purity was the substance of the restoration which Meyer correctly identified as the central issue in Jesus’ activity. Chilton. 104 103 . New York: Macmillan. purity is a systemic concern within early Judaism which Jesus took up. The Temple of Jesus. 1937). a dimension which linked a complex of issues which proved to be crucial during his ministry (including sacrifice in the Temple. Leiden: Brill. A Feast of Meanings: Eucharistic Theologies from Jesus through Johannine Circles (NovTSup 72. The latter issue is taken up further in an exegetical study. the forgiveness of sins. and the “last supper” in particular.103 Forgiveness for Jesus established an eschatological purity among people whose fellowship and sacrifice opened the way for the kingdom of God. 121–36. and which his movement developed until it claimed that an alternative to purity had been established. 106 See Henry Joel Cadbury. 105 Chilton.105 It has been over sixty years since we were first warned of the peril of modernizing Jesus. Discussion since his seminal contribution may at last have discovered a way of speaking of Jesus. is the Jesus whose passion was a purity which the Christian West has long believed is beside the point. The non-modern Jesus. 130–36. See Chilton.104 That programmatic understanding explains his intentional insistence upon communal eating. activity and of his experience of God which may reasonably claim to be more historical than apologetic. fellowship at table.

The death of Aristobulus I (son of John Hyrcanus I). 250 BCE BCE BCE BCE BCE c. . The death of Epicurus (founder of Epicureanism). tutor of Alexander. 180 BCE 167 BCE 164 BCE 160 142 134 104 BCE BCE BCE BCE 103 BCE 76 BCE 67 BCE 67–63 BCE The capture of Jerusalem. Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) was written in Hebrew. conquers the Middle East. succeeded by John Hyrcanus I. The death of John Hyrcanus I (son of Simon). Alexander the Great sweeps through Israel. Judas rules Judea. “[Divine] Manifestation”). Judas Maccabeus (the “hammer”) defeats General Lysias. succeeded by Aristobulus I. Wisdom of Solomon was perhaps written in the following century. Material in 1 Enoch began to be compiled.SOME SIGNIFICANT DATES IN THE HISTORY OF JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 587 BCE 333–32 BCE 324 323 270 c. The death of Simon. Antiochus IV dies. The death of Jonathan. Daniel was written shortly thereafter. The desecration of the Temple by the Seleucid ruler. succeeded by Alexander Janneus. who ruled 175–164 BCE. The death of Alexander. and the deportation of many Jews to Babylonia. The death of Aristotle. succeeded by Simon. 265 c. Hasmonean dynasty is founded. The death of Judas. Aristobulus II rules briefly amidst dissension. brothers Jonathan and Simon succeed Judas. The death of Zeno (founder of Cynicism). the destruction of the Temple. succeeded by Jonathan. translated into Greek approximately 50 years later.e. The beginning of the work of translation leading to the Septuagint (LXX). begins to enlarge borders. The death of Alexandra (wife of Alexander Janneus). The death of Alexander Janneus (son of John Hyrcanus I). people appeal to Rome. Antiochus IV “Epiphanes” (i.

48 BCE 44 BCE 40 BCE 37 BCE 31 BCE 6 or 5 BCE 4 BCE 6 Archelaus (son of Herod the Great) is deposed. 41 The death of Caligula. Julius Caesar gains mastery over Roman Empire. 6–15 Annas (or Ananus) is appointed High Priest. succeeded by Gaius Caligula. at prompting of Mark Antony. Psalms of Solomon were composed not long after this event. Roman senate. The death of Julius Caesar. grandson of Herod the Great). 37 The death of Tiberius. declares Herod (son of Antipater II) “King of the Jews”. 37 Pontius Pilate and Joseph bar Caiaphas are removed from office. succeeded by Claudius. 39 Caligula banishes Herod Antipas (son of Herod the Great) to Gaul. Herod defeats Antigonus. Parthians support Antigonus (son of Aristobulus II). 44 The death of Herod Agrippa I (son of Aristobulus and Bernice.158       63 BCE Pompey enters Jerusalem. marries Mariamne (granddaughter of Hyrcanus II). 14 The death of Augustus. founds several cities and fortresses. Hyrcanus II (son of Alexander Janneus) is made High Priest. and marries and divorces/murders ten wives. cf. 34 The death of Herod Philip (son of Herod the Great). succeeded by stepson Tiberius. Acts 12:1–23. changes name to Augustus. Mark Antony and young Octavian (grandnephew of Caesar) avenge Caesar’s murder and establish Second Triumvirate. forgives Herod for siding with Mark Antony. becomes Roman emperor. Octavian defeats Mark Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. during his reign he rebuilds Jerusalem and the Temple. after brief rule over Israel (41–44). 30 or 33 Jesus is crucified. last of the Hasmonean rulers. 19 Pontius Pilate appointed prefect of Judea. The death of Herod the Great. 18 Joseph bar Caiaphas (son-in-law of Annas) is appointed High Priest. thus beginning the era of Roman dominance. the birth of Josephus. . The birth of Jesus. and becomes king of Israel in fact.

succeeded by Hadrian. The death of Philo of Alexandria. Tenure of the Roman governor Festus in Caesarea. The death of Vespasian. without Roman approval puts to death James the brother of Jesus. 112 115 117 c.      45 c. The death of Seneca. General Silva captures Masada. The death of Trajan. succeeded by Galba. 50 51–52 52–60 c. Josephus publishes The Jewish War. succeeded by Nerva. 85 c. succeeded by Titus. succeeded by Domitian (brother of Titus). Jerusalem is captured by Titus (son of Vespasian). The death of Ignatius. Tenure of Roman governor Gallio in Corinth. succeeded by Trajan. Bernice was his sister. Paul writes letter to the church at Rome. Paul writes letter to the churches of Galatia. Rout of Egyptian Jew and his following. succeeded by Nero. 78 79 81 c. Ananus (son of Annas) becomes High Priest. after ruling portions of Israel beginning in 49 (cf. The death of Titus. is proclaimed emperor. 120 Rout of Theudas and his following. Tenure of the Roman governor Gessius Florus in Caesarea. Tacitus publishes The Annals. Acts 25:13–26:32). . 93 96 98 c. and Vitellius. The Jewish revolt begins. Temple is badly damaged by fire. 67 68 68–69 69 c. Albinus removes Ananus from office. The death of Agrippa II (son of Agrippa I). Christians are excluded from synagogues. Tenure of the Roman governor Albinus in Caesarea. Brief reigns of Galba. 69 70 73 c. 55–56 56 c. The death of Nero. Jewish revolt in North Africa. death of Josephus(?). 57 60–62 62 159 62–64 64–66 65 66 c. Tenure of the Roman governor Felix in Caesarea. 53 54 c. The death of Nerva. General Vespasian. governor Florus murdered(?). The death of Paul. commander of the Roman forces against the Jews. Otho. The Gospel of Mark is published. The death of Domitian. The death of Claudius. Paul writes several letters to the church at Corinth. it is later demolished.

c. 430 The death of Augustin(e). c. later called the Vulgate. 170 The death of the gnostic Valentinus. 135 The death of Papias. c. succeeded by Antoninus Pius. whose festal letter of 367 marks an important moment in the acceptance of the canon of the New Testament. . 339 The death of Eusebius. formulating Christian “orthodoxy.” c. c. 360 The production of the Coptic gnostic library.160       132–135 The great Jewish revolt led by Simon ben Kosiba. c. first Christian emperor. 500 Compilation and publication of the Talmud. author of Expositions of the Sayings of the Lord. editor of the Hexapla and numerous commentaries. later found at Nag Hammadi. author of 1 Apology. c. 159 The death of Marcion. c. dubbed “bar Kokhba. 325 The Council of Nicea. c. 217 The publication of The Life of Apollonius of Tyana.” 337 The death of Constantine. 165 The death of Justin Martyr. 138 The death of Hadrian. author of Ecclesiastical History. by Philostratus. 253 The death of Origen. 373 The death of Athanasius. author of City of God. whose “canon” excluded the Jewish parts of the NT. principal editor and translator of the Latin translation of the Bible. 160 The publication of an early edition of the Gospel of Thomas. 420 The death of Jerome. 200 The final editing and publication of the Mishnah.

130 108 109 24 24 24 24 109 24 79–80 165 143 12 65. 149 149 153 n. 4 131 n. 39 151 151 151 6:20 24:17 Deuteronomy 5:14 5:16 6:4–5 10:1 10:16 10:17 23:25 1 Samuel 21:1–6 2 Kings 1:10 2:1 1 Chronicles 28:5 13:8 Nehemiah 8:14–17 Psalms 22:28 43 43:2 43:3 47 93 96–99 103:19 105:26 145:11–13 Qohelet 9:8 Isaiah 2:1–4 6 151 8 39 153 n. 117 132. 131 n. 132 n. 149 15 6 .INDEX OF ANCIENT WRITINGS H B Genesis 17:9–14 17:12–14 32:10 38:18 49:10 Exodus 4:4 7:9 7:17 7:19 19:3 20:2 20:10 21:17 23:5 24:1 24:9 24:13 24:16 31:14 31:15 34:30 Leviticus 5:20–26 (6:1–6) 11:34 17:8–9 17:10–16 18 18:5 18:6–30 19:18 19:26 19:29 20:9 20:17–21 23:42–44 24:5–9 Numbers 6 6:6–12 6:18 144 159 21 21 21 21 21 131 n. 109–10. 5 43 151 n. 108 n. 4 41 115. 4 131 n. 4 131 n. 15 120 131 131 132 131. 20. 148 132 n. 4 24 24 132 n. 4 163 24 39 39 131 n. 15 39 153 n. 4 153 n. 15 38 131 n. 149 149 148 45–47 149 37–38. 6 24 108.

4 132 n. 166. 130 27 n.162 11:4 29:13 42 42:1 56 56:1–8 58:13–14 65:13–14 Jeremiah 7 7:11 7:21–26 Ezekiel 19:14 Daniel 2:48 4:3 4:6 5:11 4:34 7 7:27 12:3 Hosea 6:6 Joel 2:15–3:21 3:17 (4:17)     21 153 109 109–10. 5 43 165 166 Zechariah 8:20–22 14:16–19 14:21 Malachi 3:22 165 165 166. 28 9 43 21 Zephaniah 2 53 24 53 53 24 140 24 132 n. 41 109 Amos 5:21–24 9:11–12 9:11 9:12 Obadiah 15–21 21 Micah 4:1–4 4:5–13 6:6–8 7:18 43 164. 25 9 111 80 9. 5 24 Sirach 7:8–9 31:15 34:18–22 34:18–19 34:24 35:1–20 35:12 Tobit 4:15 43 35 43 43 43 43 43 36 . 5 132 n. 168 146 168 165 24 165 165 43 105 A 1 Maccabees 2:39 41 2 Esdras 6:26 7:97 7:125 Wisdom 10:10 131 n. 168 125 n.

19 45 n. 46 39 6 143 n. 43–44. 15 7:12 35 10:10 21 11:19 152 12:1–8 122 12:10–13 119 12:11 114 13 139 13:53–58 139 15 102 15:1–9 111 15:3–9 154 n. 56 9 10. 56 44–45. 46 107. 19 6 3 149 37 45 9 9 55 n. 53 6:12 105 n. 42 n. 111. 44 n. 186 152–53 153 154 153 154 7:15 7:19 9:2–8 9:2 9:3 9:5–6 9:6 9:7 9:5 9:6 10:17 10:28–34 10:51 11:10 11:15–18 11:15 11:17 11:21 11:27–33 12 12:1–12 12:13–17 12:13 12:18 12:28–32 12:28–31 12:29–31 12:38–40 13:1–2 14:12–15 14:45 14:58 15:39 Luke 6:1–5 7:16 7:34 7:36–50 7:41–43 9 9:3 9:8 9:19 9:28–36 9:29 9:30 9:31 10:4 10:25–37 10:25–28 10:25 152 40 n. 19 53 9 49 122 53 152 128 128 109 21 53 53 107 131 131 131 21 46 n. 50. 16 16:14 53 17:1–8 107 19:28 10 21:1 125 n. 44 125 n.    N T Matthew 2:2 5:23–24 8 42. 4 131 n. 41 21:11 53 21:46 53 22:1–14 78 22:16 6 23:13 9 23:23 9 26:25 53 26:49 53 Mark 1:1 1:24 2:23–28 2:23–27 2:27 2:28 3:1–6 3:6 3:14–19 3:21 3:31–35 5:1–20 6 6:1–6 6:8–9 6:15 7 7:6–13 7:6–7 7:8–9 7:11–12 7:13 48 156 39. 122 39 n. 44 40 40 n. 41 27 53 9. 8 139 139 10 139 138 21 53 102. 45 n. 4 131 53 132 45 38 53 10 9. 130–31 131 131 131 n. 56 38 163 .

n. 154. 117 39 119 78 129 129 129 129 129 129 129 10 53 53 155 53 125 n. 8 3 45 41 n. 146. 4 149 132 132 131 131 n. 145 149 160 156 141. 169–70 144 159 159 140 n. 56 115. 41 53 53 53 2 53 39 53 53 139 39 53 3 53 39 53 143 n. 147 168 160 148 148 149. 8 n. n. 10 7 144 n. 49 140 143 146 143 144 143 144 144 143 170 n. 8 n. 49 41 n. 10 144 144 n. 10 140. 150 150 151 150 6. 8 148 164 154 150–51 45 45 144 n. 163. 5 5 4 4 . 9 53     15:5 15:6–11 15:11 15:14 15:15 15:16–17 15:17 15:19–22 15:19 15:20 15:21 15:22–41 15:22–35 15:25–34 18:18 21 21:17–21 21:22–26 21:27–28:21 21:24 21:38 23:8 Romans 10:9 1 Corinthians 8 10 15:1–8 Galatians 1:18 2 2:9 2:11–13 2:11 2:12 2:13 2:14 3:23–29 James 1:17–18 2:8 Revelation 4:4 7:9 11 11:3–12 159 146 159 146.164 10:29–37 13:14 14:1–6 14:3–5 14:15–24 15 15:1–2 15:4–7 15:8–10 15:11–32 15:31 15:32 22:28–30 24:19 John 1:38 1:45–46 1:49 2:15 3:2 3:26 4:19 4:20 4:31 5:9–17 6:14 6:25 7:2–10 7:22–24 7:40 8:48 9:2 9:14–16 9:17 10:7–9 11:8 Book of Acts 2:38 4:12 4:36–37 5:36 9:26–30 11:1–18 11:19–26 15 15:1–5 15:1–2 15:1 45 n. n. 8 n. 145.

173 Hypothetica 24 36 Migr. 20 11:13 1QS 5:4–5 4Q285 4Q400 1 ii 3 2 1 4Q401 14 i 6 14 i 7 47 n. 58 120 162 6 25 25 25 25 4Q403 1 i 8 1 i 14 1 i 25 1 i 32–33 1 i 32 4Q405 3 ii 4 23 i 3 23 ii 11–12 24 3 MasSS 2:20 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 165 P 1 Enoch 37:7 51:5 62:15 2 Enoch 61:1–2 132 n. Dan 5:3 5:13 24 45 25 Apoc. 3 10:3 T. 5 132 n.    D S S CD 3:12–16. 5 132 n. Moses 10:1. Naphtali 1:6 45 45 25 25 36 Pss. Solomon 17:3 T. ling. of Elijah 4:7–19 131 n. Abraham 89–93 162 146 24 . Aristeas 207 229 Jubilees 1:28 36 45 25 P Abraham 208 Agriculture 51 78 Cherubim 29 45 24 24 24 Conf. 5 37 T. 4 Ep. Issachar 5:2 7:6 T.

4 §43–44 17.7 §278–284 18. Exod. 12 Yoma 8:9 156 156 43.10.4 §42 17.1–11 2.2–4 §149–167 17.14 §164–165 2.13.166 Post. 30 . Gen.4 §125–127 2. 3.3 §97–98 §169–170 §197–203 §208–210 7 8 142 6 5.1 20. 29 n.10. 44 n.8.47–52 3. 39 53 79 177 116 29 n. 30 151 21 3 6 151 n. Caini 5 105 Quaest.5.52 Quaest. 1.8.3 §300–309 M "Abot 1:6 1:12 1:16 2:10 3:9–10 'Eduyyot 1:8 Keritot 1:7 Menahot 8:3–5 Nazir 1:1 9:1 53 35 n.6 20.5 §372–373 17. 27 4 4 5.8. 23 161 20.1 20.33.3 §123 2.3–5 §34–53 3 3 4 5.2.9 §173 13. 30 7 7 3 27 n.2 24 24     Spec.6.3.9.21.6 §297 13.4 §16 18.2.9.5.13.2. 30 Jewish War 1. 2.2 §590–594 6.5.3 §254–257 2.107–108 162 161 45 45 45 43 161 162 162 J Antiquities 13. 30 Yadaim 4:5 151 n.63 Virt.48 3. Leg.2–4 §648–655 2. 53 118 Nedarim 3:2 Pesahim 3:7 Shabbat 18:1 23:5 24:1 24:2 153 43 121 81 121 115 n.6 §298 13.6 §273–276 17.1.3 §63–64 20. 29 n. 12 29 n. 51 95 Vita Mosis 2.10.8.10.

Nat. 27 123 120–21.18 Hagiga 2. 33 123 114 n. 121 n. Qamma 10. 17a 105 n.11 44 29 n.23 9 14. 57 .1 14. 30 Hagiga 2. Mesia 59b B. 39 100 Rosh Hash. 30 Shabbat 7.3 29 n. Qamma 110a Besa 13b 20a–b Hullin 7a 176 44 123 29 n. 37 81. Mesia 3 111 n. Lev 19:18 Isaiah 4:3 24:23 46 36 47 n.-J. 14 T Onqelos Lev 18:5 Ps. 8 100 B. 33 35 116 n. 30 100 Yoma 85a 85b 40 n. 37 167 T Y B.    T B. 40 121 n. 30 T B "Abot R. 45 41 Sanhedrin 101a Shabbat 31a 53b 123b 128a 128b 153a 154b Ta'anit 24b 116 n.3 15:1 116 n.4 29 n. 32 114 n. 27 120 121 n. 57 31:4 40:9 52:7 58:11 24 24 24 47 n. 57 24 Ezekiel 7:7 7:10 20:11 24 24 46 n. 121 n. 22 Besa 2.

1–18 36 Praep.50 Isocrates Ad Nicoleam 49 Julian Orations 6.73 41 n. 4 108 n. Rab.2 Yalqut Shimoni Ps 43 132 n. 57 46 n.20. Rab.22.7. 4 108 n.17 (Deut 10:1) 131 n.13 21 6. 49 6. 6 141 G-R W Cicero De officiis 1. 3.34. Eccl. Ev. 20 131 n.128 Dio Cassius 51.10 21 Lucian of Samosata Peregrinus 15 21 Ps.201A 32 21 37 21 20 Diogenes Laertius Lives of Eminent Philosophers 6. Rab. 1:7 §9 9:8 §1 Pesiq. 18 4. 5 85 41 Sipra Lev.22 3. 4 C W Didache 1:12 Eusebius Hist.23.69 21 Epictetus 2.39 21 37 3.193D Orations 6.6 Thomas §6 §12 36 36 141 n. 2. 8. §68 (Lev 5:25) 44 §193 (Lev 18:1–30) 46 Deut. 57 24 Micah 4:7–8 Zechariah 14:9 24 24 M Mekilta Exod 31:12–17 (Shab.-Crates 24 41 .168 20:13 20:21 Obadiah 21     46 n. §1) Qoh.

5 36 .3–4 21 Sextus Sentences 89 169 37 21 37 P  I OGIS 458.-Diogenes 30.    Ps.32–41 49 POxy 654.3 Seneca Moral Epistles 91.19 103.

6 Black. 20 Buber. 15. 178 n. 9. 52 n.. 4. 41 n. 45 Colson. 156 n. 199 n. H. 41–44. 167. 14 n. M. 23 Eisenstein. 48. 45 n. H. B.. 22 Bockmuehl. 49 Dudley. 26. 103–5 Churgin. C. 34. 18 n. 5 Blomberg. 141 n. 184. 44 n. 21.. 11 Dodd. 93 n. 31. R. 159. 5 Burrows. 14 n.INDEX OF MODERN AUTHORS Abrahams. 42 n. 201 n. 17 Daube. 49–50.. O. F. 91–92. 177 Basser. 53. 29 n. S. n. 174 n. 177. 22 n.. 9. 66. 6 Alexander. 128. 198 nn. P.. 5. C. 5... 191. 185. 174. 15 nn. 49 Cohn-Sherbok. 17. I.. R.. 16. G.. 13. 184 n. W. M. 2. 22. 54. 53. J. P.. 183. A... 20. H. 38 n. vii Crossan. 186 nn. 51 n. 37 n. 4. 187. W. 42. R. 177 n. K. F. M. R. 187 nn.. 99–102. 175. 198 n. 43. 37... J.. 133 Davies. 156 n. 17 Eliade. 187 n. 190 nn. 3. vii. 155 n. 155 nn. P. 154 n. 190. 107 n. 30. 63. 133 Bultmann. n. 181 n. 183. 40 Billerbeck. D. 52. 24 n. 11 Burney. 188. 185 nn. C. 13 Baird. 47–48. 23. E. 3. 31. 31... 127. 174 n. 41. G.. 128 n.. 60 Bornkamm. G. 35 n. 59. H. S. 94 Dalman. 90 Cadbury. 3 Cook. 12 Brandon. 4 Braudel.. 20. 55 Aune. 200 nn. 40 Dupont-Sommer. 19. 73. H. 198 n. 16. F. R.. D. D. 29 n.. 8. 17 Brown.. 90. 127 n. 190 Downing. 177 Dibelius. 9 Brocke. 55 Allen. 194. 162 n. G. D.. 179 n. D. 133 Adolph. 196. H. 5. 29. 199. P. 20 Eisenstadt. 138 n. 51 Chancey. 21 Buttrick. 30 n. 22 n. 189 n.. 1 Barth. 199 n.. 45–46. L. 197 nn. 199. 20. S. 184 Cathcart. vii.. 12 Edwards. R. 54. 177 Eddy. M. 133 Crohn. 19 n. 24. 21 n. 184 n.. 133. 190 n... M. 198. H. 33 n. 177 n. 18 Borg. M. C. 201 nn. 175 n. J. 54 nn. D.. 38–40... 19 nn.. 15. D. J. 1.. 80–82. 36 n. 15 n. J. 12... 40.. R. 133. D. 22. C. 33. 15 n. 18–19. 178 n. 2. 16. 140 n. 32. 22. F. M. J. 188 n.. 99 n. 178 n. 51 n. n. 40 n. 186. 9. D. 47. 12–13. 40 n. 91. 33. A. 184 n. 108 n. 88–89. 44 n. 91 n. 133 Bernas. M. 19. 131 n. 160. 130. 83–87.. 174 n. 187 n. 173 n. 53 n. 14. 106 Caird. S. C. N.. 28 n. 186 nn. 175 n.. S. 43. 197. 28. 175. ix.. 3 Eisenman. 28. 177.. 41 n. G.. 98 n. 50. 16. 44. 195–96 Braude. 36 n. 14. 98.. R. 34 Charlesworth. B. J. E. 22 n. 6–7. 40 Barham F. 152 n. 31 n. 36 n. F. 20 n. G. 28. D. K.. 33 n.. 14. 196 nn. 19. 31 n. 20 Buchanan. 35 Bailey.. 145 n. 5 Allison.. D. 184.. 100 n. 40 de Vaux. M. 25 n.. 31–33. 184 nn. 89 n. G. 6 Chilton.... 2 Buber. W. 33 n. K.. 194 n. 15. J. M. 17 Biderman. 31. 40 . G. 184 n. 35 Betz. 1. 5 Betz. 196. M.. P.. 154 n. 22 Davies.

14 n. 189. E.. 28 n.. J. H. 71–72. 22 n. P.. 27 Fredricksen.. 142 n. 56. 19. J. 51 Hengel. 97. 188 n. 11–12. 27 Millar. 198 n. 51. 53 Mack. F. L. 187 n. 31. 29. 167 n. R.. 22 n. 17. 181. G. 17. 55.. 15 n. 14 n. P. P. F.    Epstein. 161 n. B. 128 n. 187 n. 174 n.. S. 13. 94 n. 179 n. 29 n. 18. 18 n. 20 Gilbert. 29 n. 6–7. 3. J. 12 Kümmel.. 177 n. 25 n. A.. 50.. 42 n. 112 n. 17. 11 Hodges. 7 Lovering Jr.. A. 93–97 Mendenhall. 6. 5. C. G... W. 11 Hooker. 180 n. 64. n. 52. 59 Glazer. 42 n... 23 n. 3. 14 n.. 97 n. 28 n.. 51 Goulder. N. 179 n. G. 45 n.. 51 n. 137 n. 175. C. 15 n. 8. J.. 195. 26 n. T. 35. 16. 180 n. 29. 26. F. P. 6 Glasson. 90 Freyne. 174 n. 34. 27 n. 89. n. 90 Larue.. 28–33. 5 Montefiore. C. 27 n. 39 n. S. 163 n. 32–34. D. D... 188 n. 194. 51 n. 14. 15 n. 1 Hoffmann. 6 Freedman. E.. 34. H. 2. 54 n. 16. 88 n. J. 4. 22 n. 190. 51 Hays. 17 Falk. P. 18 Goodman.. S. 14 Fiebig. 9 France. 51 Lifshitz. 49 Maier. W. 45. F. 26 n. 2 Gillman. 17 Kane. J. J. 98 n. 7 Flusser. G. 14. 26 Grundmann... 34. 51 n. 94. 134. W. 182. H.. 98 n. 29 Hall. 180. 92 n. 188 n. 138 n. D.. L. J. 11 Meyer. 17. I. 194 nn. 10.. 2. 9. 98 n. 174 n.. 183 n... 180 n. M. R... 8. 26 Neirynck. N. 27. W. 48. 14–15. 190 n. 183. H. 195. D. 1. 33 Johnston. 199 nn.. n. 19. 3 Loewe. 18. 182 n. A. 33 n. 198 n. 17 n. R. 22 n. 155 n. G.. 176. 188 n.. 21 Herion. 17. D. 14 n. M. 161 n. 23 n... 181 nn. M. 79 Friedman. H. 98. 17 McCollough. 6. 45 n. 179 nn. 44 Neusner. 3 Kelber. 40 n. ix. vii–ix. N.. x Lapin. J.. 22.. 22 n... 22. G. 201 Meyers. 174 n. J. 99. A. 15 n. B. 18.. 2. 31 n. 55. 174 n. 50. 92 n. 153 n. P. 17. E.. 25. 174 n. E. W. 22 n. 182. 52. 199... 76–78 171 Jeremias. 3 Langston. 88... 30. M. 60. R. 6. 187 n. 5 Gordon. 179. 141 n. J. 23. F. L. 11 Lebeau. 44 n. 36 Fitzmyer. M. W. 175 n. 17 Finkel. 3. 53 n.. B. 137 n. U. 4. R. M. 46 n. 18 Lessing. 175 n. 30 n.. J. G. 18 nn. 23. 2.. N. 176 nn. 173 n. A. 52 n. 1 Hanson. 142 n. 97 n.. 24 n. 22 Luz. 6 Käsemann. 1 Levey. vii–ix. 53 Meier. 14. 51 n. 67 Hagner.. 173. Z. 182 n. 51. 7 Moore.. R. 91 n. 175. 4. 195 nn. J. 36 Johns. S. 4 Lightfoot.. 5 Hanks. D. 48 n. 53 McArthur. B. 195 n... P.. 179 n. . H. 194 n. A. 16.. 33 n.. R. 10. 53 n. 92 n. 177.. 72 Harrington. 92 n. 187 n. 28. 177 n. 7. M. T. 174.. 2.. 25 n. R.. 37 Haase. 89–91. D.. 20 n. 7 Lightfoot. F. 74–75. 87. 28 n. 54. 53 Horsley. 23 n.. 174. 26–27. 9. 10. H. 52 Green. M. T. 1 Hansman.. 192 n. 28 Hayward. 9 Lull. F. 20. 134. 90 nn. 3 McNamara. 154 n. 196 Falk. B. 97. 112. K... 56. E. J. 23 Evans. M. 179. 174 n. n. 6. 87 n. J. G. G. 23.. 2 Marshall.. A.

L. 193 n. 5 Tuckett. 163 n. 100 nn.. 8 Segal.. H. 11 Schlosser. 81. 8–9. 174 n. 53.. 179 n. 16.. 55 Stern.. M. G. 40 Smith. 198 Vermes. H. 177 n. C.. 8 Timmer. L. 45 n. A. 10 van der Horst. 105. 24 Oesterley. J. H. 10 Porter... E. 52 n. J. A.. 40 n.. 99 n. 88 n. 135.. 178. 37 Robinson. 104.. 3. 51 Sanders. 189 n.. 134.. 28 n. 155 n. 173. 174. R.. 198 Soards.. 103. 43 n. 100. M. 7 Wright. 2.. A. 25 n. 187 n. 67 Reimarus. S. 87 n... M. 22. 191 n. 191–92.. J. J. 18 Wolff. 3 Williams. 134 Pattee. J. 17 95. 180. 47 Talbert. J. C. W. 21 Scott. 54 n. 184 n. 54. K. H. 90 Parsons. C. 183. 65 Pesch.. 178. 45 Ratzinger. R. 10 Van Segbroeck. 9 Saldarini. C. 36 Swete. 28 n. 189 nn. 20 Odeberg. 40. 55 Niebuhr. W.172     Smith. 87 n. M. 9 Strack. M. 22 n. 135 Sawicki. 44 Petuchowski.. 37. 40 Sundkler. 4 Schechter. 35 Wojciechowski. S.. P. N. F.. F... J. 28 n. 56. 70. 193. M. H. 179. J. P. 178 n. 28 Stegner. 8. 15 n. 1 Walton. 33 n. 22 Wertheimer. 64. M. 87 n. 40 n.. 16. 40 Parker. 177.. H. 88 Strenski. 5.. 196 Sandmel. 198 n.. 168 n. W.. 7 Schweitzer. B. 34 n. 190 nn. 28 Schlueter.. 35 Vaage.. 174 Schwabe. 41 n. 11.. 179 nn. 103 n. 176 n.. 40 Smith. 28.. 9 Torrey. G. 1 Talmon. 189. W. J. 3 Safrai. 13 Otto. 177 n. 181 n.. P. 104 n. 88 n. 26 n. 190. 101 n. M.. 28 van Unnik. 176. 32 Seeley. 135. 17 Orlin. 23 n.. 101. 156 n. 184 n. 192 nn. 191. J.. 173 n. M. 17 n. 2 Weber. 9 Vermes.. 29 n.. 58. S. 5 Perrin. 100 nn.. 99. 177.. E. 55 Stern. 196 n. D. 178.. 141 n. S. 44 n.. 17 Westcott. A. H. 176 n. B. O. C. B. 19. 66–69. n. 31 n. R. 183. 174 n. 23 Weiss. T. A. 52. 6–7. E. 35 n.. 25. E. 178 n. 183 n. 45 n. 38.. 29 n. 5 Voysey. 22 n. 13. M. 47 . 6 Strauss. 28–29 n. 88. 174. P. P. J. H. 1 Reventlow. L. 5. R.. J. D. S.. 31 Wenham. 183 n. D. 100. E. 22 n. C. 87 n... 25 Taylor. F. 53 n.. J... D. 102. 61–62. 51. 174 n.. 14 n. 64. B. A. Z.. 174 n. 40 n. 28 Tomson. 5 Sigal. C.. 27. 92 n. S. 189 Schwemer. 93 n.... 174 n. 28 Schmidt.. 87. 180. 90 n. C. 107 n.. B. S. W. 184 n. B. 28. 196.. 174 n. I. H. 3 Riches.. G. 184 n. 48. E. 17 n. 28 n. 87. 17 Piper. B. 39 n. 179 n.. 64. 10. 54 n. 87. P.. 54. 184. 28 Young. 22 n. 196. 180 n. S. 66. P. 29.. 17 Schürer. 184... 181. 17.. R.. B.. N. J. B. F. 134. 182 n. L. 173 n. 174 n. 18 Witherington. M.

198 Hegesippus. 144 Buddha. 196–97 Cyprus. 37. 8 Eleazar (of Galilee). 6. 176–78. 99 Enoch. 141. 98 Honi. 29 n. 132. 30 Jesus Seminar. Criterion of. 7–8. 176 Albinus. 176. 161 Antioch. 41 Joseph bar Hiyya. 154 Helena. 93 Akhnai. 37 n. 90. Council of. 105 Ananias. 41 n. 13. passim John the Baptist. 144 Damascus. 94 Barnabas. 10 High Priest. 166–67 Dead Sea Scrolls. 109 Abraham. 169 Confucius. 39. Cynic hypothesis. 15–16. 179 Elijah. 39. 147–48. 159–63. 5. 142. 192 Jonathan ben Joseph. 149. 51–52 Gnosticism. 16–23. 142. 91. 2–5. 160–61. 42 Amoraim. 142 Alexander the Great. 5. 107. 178–79 Hasidim. 177 Hillelite halakah. 18. 27 nn. 170 Jesus (or Yeshua) of Nazareth. 85 Hanina ben Dosa. 163 n. 74. 131 n. 149. 151. 178 Hyrcanus I. 23–24. 4–5. 6 Franklin. 5. 67. 27. 6 Fourth Philosophy. 107 n. 30 Altar. 109–10. 2 Italian Bible ( Jewish). 65. 7 Jerusalem. 93. 35–37. 187 Josephus. 141. 184–85 Caesar. passim Circumcision. 94 Cynics. 42. 122. 28 Jews. 108 nn. Christianity. 35 n. 162 Deists. the. 131 n. 176. 143 n. vii. 48 Bar Kochba. 130–31. 179 Arminians. 30. 182 Aqiba. 141 n. 8. 7 Herodians. 164. 43 Eliezer ben Hyrcanus. 25. 65. 100. 93 Alexander Jannaeus. 125 n. 90 n. 132 n. 6. 13. 85. 29 n. 147. 161 Herod (the Great). 124. 94 Galilee. 4 Eschaton. 29–35. 182 David. 4 Emden. 191 Golden Rule. 9. 22. 150 Dissimilarity. 145. 200 . 191 Ebionites. 29 n. 101 Essenes. 33. 132. 53–54. 3 Diaspora. Rabbi Ya"akov. 6 Egyptian Jew. 94 Jericho. 161 James (see Yakov) Jamnia. 176. 35. 41 n. 141 n. 51. 191.INDEX OF SUBJECTS Aaron. 118 Hillel. 42. 7 Augustus. 163 n. 39. 161 Eleazar ben Azariah. 3 Athronges. 165. 5. 49. 151. 44. 108. 3. 41. 141 Feast of Tabernacles/Booths. passim Jesus ben Ananias. Judaism. 10 Christians. 19–20. Benjamin. 151 Eusebius. 49. 115 Izates. 5. 183.

124. 190–91 Reuchlin. 2 Scribes. 193 Sadducees. 4. 15–16. 124–25. 6. 2–3 Samaritan Pentateuch. 193 Moses 107–8. 200–201 Theudas. 103. 44. 7 Peter (a. 162 n. 141 n. 94 Passover. 95 Maccabees. 53. 3 Mount Sinai. 6 Simeon ben Gamaliel. 117 Repentance. 49. 19. 42. 57. 142 n. 188 n. 173 Luther. 169. vii Menahem. 17. 150–51. 143 n. 114 n. 141. 121–22 Transfiguration. 144–47. 100 Pilate. 130 Midrash. 127. 140 n. 159. 38. 113–14. 125 n. 112. 156. 44. 9. 166 Nazirite. 53 Temple ( Jewish). 30. 200–201 Q . 100. 110 Miriam. 4 Purity. Martin Luther. 98 Shema'. 131–32 Mount Zion. 148 Pharisees. 8. Kepha). 162 n. 121–22 Targum. 115 Samaritans. Martin. 83. 119–24. 30 Simeon ben Menasia. 173 Wisdom. brother of Jesus). 168 n. 124. 142. 23 Sabbath. 104–5. 79. 149–50. 155–57 Nero. 129 Torah/Law. 196. 193 Tosefta. Nazirite vow. 46 n. 132 n. 66. 183 Proselyte. 143. 95. 95. 45. 147. 33. 170 Perea. 9. 112. 120. 19–20. James. 115–17. 6. 165. 3–4. 46. 41. 129 Son of Man. 7. 159. 163 n. 5. 29. 175 Toll collectors. 127. 192. 54. 151–52. 94    Rabbi Kagan. 131 n. 10. 39–40. 4. 32–33. 12.a. 108 n. 106. 186–88. 53 Synagogue. 52. 182 Ruling priests. 3. Council of. 8 Third Reich. 111–13. 153 . 8 Messiah. 147. 8. 113 Seneca. 110–11. 101. 152. 118. 3–4. 8–9. 127 Seat of Moses. 127–30. 49 Nicea. 173 Rome. 98–99. 94. 103 n. 125. 95. 41 Simon bar Giora. 157. 186 Loans. 52. 93 Mary (see Miriam) Mattathias. John.174 Joshua. 111. 38 Sicarii. 186. Jekiel. 33–34. 137 Judah ha-Nasi. 141 n. 183. 14 Qorban. 33 Paul (Apostle). 29. 103.k. 26 n. 34 n. 41 n. 75. 130–32 Vespasian. 132. 104. 141–42. 121. 130–31. 111. 7 Sinners. 140–41. 6. 123. 132. 23–25. 161–62. 110. 20 n. 128. 10. 115 Shammaite halakah. 7 Simon of Perea. 127 Sages. 114. 27 n. 6. 94. 132.k. 137–40. 19. 9–10. 107–8. 27–28. 188 n. 9. 154. 5 Phineas ben Yair. 33 Talmud. 44. King. 160. 4. 185–86 Philo. 114. 115–17. 41 Max Richter Foundation. 47. 153. 195 Kingdom of God/Heaven. 144–46. 22 Prophets (Hebrew). 9 Walton. 95. 101. 139 Mishnah. 74–75. 149–50 Mount Gerizim. Brian. 37 Sepphoris. 35 Yakov (a. 108 nn.a. 109. 107 n. 52 Sforno. 29 n. 31. 53. 142. 78–79. 30 n.

   144–52. 20 175 . 194 Zeus. 164–71 Yakov (son of Zebedee). 43 Yohanan (son of Zebedee). 156–57. 118 Zealot. 76. 19. 82. 154–55. 155 n. 94. 35. 142–43 Yeshua ben Sira. 159. 142–43 Yohanan ben Zakkai.