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Jesus and Judaism Paperback – May 1, 1985
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have written a scholarly review of E. P. Sanders' "Jesus and Judaism" on my blog. You can read it at this link:-by-e-p-[...]Published 4 months ago by Tim
Great book, very inisghful, gives an analytical perspective to the study of Jesus' lifePublished 13 months ago by Ragy Ibrahim
The condition of the book was fine - I just did not like the book itself - its contents - conflicted with evangelical biblical theology to which I am committed - to Jesus Christ -... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Larry S.
An essential perspective for anyone who seeks to understand the the historical Jesus during the years of his life. E. P. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Clark S. Aist
Sander's insight into the Jewish "sitz em leben" of Jesus and the Biblical writers is of tremendous value for truly understanding so much of what Jesus said and did. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Don K. Preston
very informative and interesting...good packaging and came just in timePublished 24 months ago by Karen Coakley