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Jesus and Judaism [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   444
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.04" Width: 4.89" Height: 0.99"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 1985
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  0800620615  
EAN  9780800620615  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The purpose of this book is to take up two related questions with regard to Jesus: his intention and his relationship to his comtemporaries in Judiasm. The reason for his death (did his intention involve an opposition to Judaism which led to death?) and the motivation force behind the rise of Christianity (did the split between the Christian movement and Judaism originate in opposition during Jesus' lifetime?).

Publishers Description
This work takes up two related questions with regard to Jesus: his intention and his relationship to his contemporaries in Judaism. These questions immediately lead to two others: the reason for his death (did his intention involve an opposition to Judaism which led to death?) and the motivating force behind the rise of Christianity (did the split between the Christian movement and Judaism originate in opposition during Jesus' lifetime?).

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E.P. Sanders is a Professor of Religion at Duke University.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Foundational book for bible studies  May 12, 2008
This is one of the books written by E P Sanders that swept biblical studies from the grip of Bultmann and his followers to a new direction. Today it seems strange that so many scholars could, for so long, ignore the fact that Jesus was a Jew.

E P Sanders, a true historian, very cogently argued that not understanding the culture and beliefs of Jews during Jesus' lifetime was to not be able to grasp the historical Jesus at all. And it was a very good argument.

In this book, Sanders points out that "the biblical laws seem to have been widely observed" (p 184) since ritual baths were everywhere. The temple was central to belief and to sacrifices (p 64). Purity laws were kept by most people, although most involved "corpse uncleanliness... menstruation, intercourse, and childbirth" (p 182) and not hand washing.

There is a long discussion on why Jesus overturned tables at the temple. The temple was central to sacrifice, so why be upset at the money-changers who helped the practice of sacrifices? "The obvious answer is that destruction, in turn, looks towards restoration" (p 71).

There were charges at Jesus' trial about him threatening to overthrow the temple. Even during his crucifixion, Matthew and Mark report people taunting Jesus with promising to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days.

Sanders investigates the "two questions 1)whether or not a complex of prophetic themes (the gathering of dispersed Israel, the rebuilding of the temple, and the entry of the Gentiles) continued in the post-biblical period; 1)whether or not a word s and gesture indicating the destruction of the temple would imply the expectation of renewal" (p 87).
Jesus followed 2nd Temple Judaism  Dec 21, 2007
Sanders sheds light on the Jewish Jesus; Jesus was creating an eschatological (end of the world) Jewish movement; his execution came from challenging the political authorities (overthrowing the tables in the Temple), and his followers expected his return to restore Israel (which including Gentiles worshiping the God of Israel). If you are looking for a source about Jesus and his Jewishness then I would recommended this book; it shows that Jesus was not in opposition with the Pharisees as he did not transgress any part of the law and that his followers followed Jewish law and kept it after Jesus died.
Superb Model of How to Study the Bible  Sep 20, 2007
'Jesus and Judaism' by E. P. Sanders is a superb model for how to read Christian scriptures in the light of the world of Second Temple Judaism, without a lot of sociological baggage. Sanders is a pure historian, who is looking for how and why things really happened. There is little I can add to the other four current reviews, since I certainly agree entirely with their overall evaluation. My only modest suggestion may be that when one wishes to embark on a study of the gospels, one begins by reading at least a few chapters from this book. Of course, if you are taking on Paul's letters, Sanders has even more important books, such as 'Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People'. This book leaves no doubt on why Sanders has become the most influential writer on New Testament issues in the latter half of the 20th Century.
Just the facts, please  Feb 14, 2002
Sanders is more of a historian than a theologian. He is concerned to uncover the real, historical Jesus. He explains his methodology in some detail. That is a good place to begin, because it enables the reader to evaluate both Sanders' methodology and his sifting of the historical evidence.

Sanders explicitly bases his reconstruction on the facts of Jesus' life, rather than Jesus' sayings. He is on the cynical end of N.T. scholarship -- he believes that it is impossible in virtually every case to establish the authenticity of Jesus' sayings. However, he believes there is considerable agreement about many of the facts: e.g., that Jesus threatened the destruction of the Temple, that he appointed twelve apostles, and that his followers sought to convert Gentiles.

Sanders agrees with Schweitzer in setting Jesus' ministry in the context of Jewish eschatology. That is, Jesus believed that the end was at hand: God was about to intervene and create a new order of existence, including a new Temple. At that time, God would appoint Jesus' apostles to rule over Israel. When the end of the current order did not immediately come about, Paul (and other early Christians) set out to convert Gentiles -- a necessary stage in the process leading up to the end.

On the other hand, Sanders rejects some of the traditional interpretations of Jesus' life and work. In particular, he denies that Jesus was killed for his teaching about law vs. grace. Sanders (who is widely acknowledged as an authority on extra-biblical Jewish literature) argues that all Jews believed in grace, including the Pharisees. If Jesus had brought about the conversion of notorious sinners and offered them forgiveness on condition of repentance, he would have been hailed as a national hero -- not crucified as a heretic.

Sanders argues that, when the Gospels speak of "sinners", we should take the word at full force. Jesus taught that, in view of the imminent end, wicked people could enter the kingdom without repentance and reformation of life. Thus the Pharisees and other Jews were understandably offended by his practice.

The value of Sanders' work is: (a) His cynicism leads him to be very careful in his handling of the evidence -- no speculative leaps. (b) His expertise in extra-biblical Jewish literature enables him to refute some of the stereotypical caricatures of Jesus' Jewish opponents -- particularly the Pharisees. Such caricatures are still being expounded in pulpits throughout North America, and Sanders sets the record straight.

On the other hand, I think Sanders is too cynical. He rejects conclusions which are widely accepted by other scholars. In specific, his opinion that Jesus accepted the wicked without requiring them to repent stretches credulity.

Nonetheless, this is still a five-star work. A careful reader will learn much, and be considerably challenged. It isn't the last word on the historical Jesus, but it does go some way toward defining the parameters of the debate!

Excellent Book of Monumental Importance to Biblical Studies  Oct 20, 2000
The arguements of Sanders in this book have marked a decisive point in scholarship after which ignorance concering and derisive stereotyping of 1st century Palestinian Judaism juxtapose to Jesus and primitive Christianity is inexcusable. For this reason, texts written before Sander's work or texts that neglect his study seem to be outdated and obsolete. While some revolts in American scholarship have occurred since this book was written (e.g., Crossan, Borg, and the Jesus Seminar), the foundation of this book have remained firm and unshaken. The primary reason for this is Sander's moderation and erudition. He distinguishes very well between what we can and cannot know about Jesus and is not given to speculation.

The most powerful result of his book is how he brings to light why in fact Jesus faced opposition and eventually suffered martyrdom. This he does through an articulate examination of Palestinian Judaism in the 1st century and a scathing critique of past scholarship which generally failed at doing this task.

Recommended for those who are seriously searching for the history of Jesus and his society. Casual readers who do not have much background in this field will be perplexed or overwhelmed.


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