A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume 4: by John P. Meier

By John P. Meier

John Meier’s earlier volumes within the acclaimed sequence A Marginal Jew are based upon the proposal that whereas good old information regarding Jesus is kind of restricted, humans of other faiths can however arrive at a consensus on primary ancient evidence of his existence. during this eagerly expected fourth quantity within the sequence, Meier methods a clean topic—the teachings of the historic Jesus touching on Mosaic legislation and morality—with an identical rigor, thoroughness, accuracy, and insightfulness on show in his previous works. After correcting misconceptions approximately Mosaic legislation in Jesus’ time, this quantity addresses the lessons of Jesus on significant felony issues like divorce, oaths, the Sabbath, purity ideas, and some of the love commandments within the Gospels. What emerges from Meier’s learn is a profile of a classy first-century Palestinian Jew who, faraway from looking to abolish the legislation, used to be deeply engaged in debates approximately its observance. in basic terms by means of embracing this portrait of the historic Jesus grappling with questions of the Torah will we keep away from the typical mistake of creating Christian ethical theology below the guise of learning “Jesus and the Law,” the writer concludes.

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Extra resources for A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume 4: Law and Love

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2 §276–77. JESUS AND THE LAW—BUT WHAT IS THE LAW? 43 This, however, is not the most startling point. What is truly astounding that, in Josephus’ parallel narrative of Pompey’s siege of the temple in his later Jewish Antiquities, Josephus states flatly that “the Law [ho nomos] permits [Jews on the sabbath] to defend themselves against those who begin a battle and attack them, but it does not allow [Jews] to fight their military opponents if the latter are doing anything else” (Ant. 2 §63). Since, as we see from his treatment of the Pharisees, Josephus knows full well how to distinguish between the written Law of Moses and various interpretations of it labeled “the traditions of the fathers,” 44 he most likely means the written Law of Moses when he speaks here of ho nomos.

5 §289; Ant.

Some pious Jewish rebels began to see a contradiction between fighting to the death to defend the Mosaic Torah and violating that very Torah by fighting—and thus working—on the sabbath. Consequently, at least one stringently observant group refused to defend itself when attacked on the sabbath by the Syrian army of the persecutor Antiochus Epiphanes. The predictable result was a total slaughter (1 Macc 2:27–38). Appealing to common sense rather than to subtle legal reasoning, the Jewish forces following the rebel priest Mattathias decided that self-defense on the sabbath was permissible when Jews were attacked by Gentiles.

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