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Jesus and Judaism Hardcover – 1985

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 444 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press; 1st Fortress Press ed edition (1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800607430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800607432
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,256,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

115 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Franklin Howell on January 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book marks a critical point in the current trend of historical Jesus research. The basic layout uncovers a Jesus who was very much a practicing Jew of his time and within the culture of his people. Part of that culture included the expectation of a messiah who would redeem Israel from its current bondage under the Roman empire. Such an event or historical turning point is known as eschatology. Sanders argues that Jesus believed an eschatological episode was imminent, and seems to have considered his own role in the matter rather critical. Some of the more noteworthy discussions include a vivid definition of "sinners" as first-century Jews would have understood it, eschatological concepts behind Jesus' selection of twelve disciples, and a very impressive section on the kingdom sayings. He also unveils an interesting eschatological model from the so-called "cleansing of the temple" episode.
Sanders' angle stems primarily from the school of Albert Schweitzer, a view currently under scrutiny by a group of [mostly] American scholars known as the Jesus Seminar. Many of the Seminar's publications specifically address arguments in this book. Nonetheless, Jesus and Judaism remains stable and unscathed. Too many issues presented by the Seminar are ambiguous and incomplete. They have yet to persuade this reader to their views of Jesus as a social reformer.
The book is both comprehensive and involved. It reads quite smoothly but is heavyweight material. There are few, if any, blind assumptions; nothing is read into the texts. Instead, Sanders supports his arguments with a combination of extant archaeological documents of the period, canonical and extra-canonical texts, and sober scholarly reasoning. The book is best left for the serious biblical researcher. This reader believes that Jesus and Judaism will turn out to be one of the most important books of the 20th century on Jesus research.
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123 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Peltz, student of the New Testament on February 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
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.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Tron Honto on October 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
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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59 of 69 people found the following review helpful By on June 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book provides a thorough review of Jesus scholarship in this century. Sanders then offers his own ideas. Sanders is a careful historian. He always provides facts to support his hypotheses. A refreshing contrast to the Jesus Seminar. This book is intentionally non-theological, i.e. ,it is NOT Christology nor does it advocate any dogmatic position. The casual reader will find it difficult. If you are not really into NT studies, get The Historical Figure of Jesus (same author). Fundamentalists will be offended.
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