Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hoskyns & Davey on Jesus' Jewish Context

This statement about parallels between Jesus and his contemporaries seems ahead of its time:
 "Those modern Jewish scholars who have busied themselves with a comparison between the ethical teaching of Jesus and the ethical teaching of the rabbis have given this judgement, that there is no single moral aphorism recorded as spoken by Jesus which cannot be paralleled, and often verbally paralleled, in rabbinic literature. With this conclusion Christian scholars working in the field of rabbinics are showing more and more agreement. For example, there can be no doubt that such a saying as 'The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath' would have been regarded as a self-evident truism by the best of the rabbis. Similarly, the constant insistence by Jesus that the righteousness which God demands is a righteousness of the heart could not have been strange or new teaching." - Hoskyns and Davey's The Riddle of the New Testament (3rd ed.; London: Faber & Faber, 1947), 135.
Hoskyns and Davey's statement of the difference strikes me as on track:
"It is not sufficient merely to draw up a list of parallels between his teaching and that of the rabbis. What requires explanation is the authority with which he spoke, the urgency which accompanied his moral demands, and the evident judgement of God which he declared would inevitably follow any refusal to obey him" (136).

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