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The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish…

The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ (urspr publ 2012; utgåvan 2012)

av Daniel Boyarin (Författare), Jack Miles (Inledning)

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1323163,803 (4.22)Ingen/inga
Makes the powerful case that the conventional understandings of Jesus and the origins of Christianity are wrong: that Jesus' core teachings were not a break from Jewish beliefs and that Jesus was embraced by many Jews as the Messiah of the ancient Jewish texts.
Titel:The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ
Författare:Daniel Boyarin (Författare)
Andra författare:Jack Miles (Inledning)
Info:The New Press (2018), 224 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


The Jewish Gospels av Daniel Boyarin (2012)


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Daniel Boyarin is one of the most original and provocative rabbinic scholars, the author of many valuable books exploring the matrix in which both orthodox Judaism and Christianity arose. He is one of the many scholars who have challenged the assumption that there was, at an early point, a “parting of the ways” between these two movements. In The Jewish Gospels, he sets out to show that the New Testament is “more deeply embedded within Second Temple Jewish life and thought than many have imagined” (pp. 157–8).
This is even true, he contends, in the beliefs about Jesus often termed Christology. In other words, it is not just that Jesus lived and died a Jew, but even the concept of “Christ” was not a foreign element, cobbled together from non-Jewish sources. Boyarin explicitly offers his reconstruction as an alternative narrative of how Christology arose. These motifs—the notion of a dual godhead with father and son, the notion of a Redeemer who himself will be both God and man, and the notion that this Redeemer would suffer and die as part of the process of salvation—are often seen as Christian as opposed to Jewish.
These topics are explored in chapters 1, 2 and 4, using a close reading of Dan 7, the Enoch literature, 4 Ezra, and Isa 53. The results are not controversial in today’s scholarly world. More controversial is the imagined dichotomy behind his thesis: that the group of ideas we think of as Christology were either developed by his followers after his crucifixion, or were present in Jewish thought prior to Jesus. Since, as Boyarin demonstrates, these ideas were there, he concludes that Jesus saw himself in these terms and openly shared his self-understanding with his followers.
Here, I believe, he does not display the same differentiated reading of the gospels and other New Testament texts that he shows with Old Testament, intertestamental, and rabbinic literature. There is ample evidence in the New Testament, to me, of an intermediate possibility, namely, the view that the raw materials for later Christology were indeed available in the first century Jewish world, but coalesced around Jesus after his crucifixion. On this view, as well, it is not necessary to posit the adoption of concepts from the wider, pagan world to explain Christian beliefs about Jesus. On this point, I agree with Boyarin.
Falling outside of this discussion of the sources of Christology is chapter 3, entitled “Jesus Kept Kosher.” Although a separate topic, there are continuities with the other three chapters of the book, and it shares their strengths and weaknesses. In this chapter, he focuses on a conflict between some Pharisees from Jerusalem and Jesus in Mark 7. The traditional reading of this account is that it shows “the total rejection by Mark’s Jesus of Jewish dietary practices, the kosher rules” (p. 103). Boyarin makes the contrary assertion: according to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus kept kosher, which is to say (this is a crucial step in his argument) that he saw himself not as abrogating the Torah but as defending it. He defended it against what he perceived to be threats to it from the Pharisees: “Jesus’ Judaism was a conservative reaction against some radical innovations in the Law stemming from the Pharisees and Scribes of Jerusalem” (p. 105).
Accepting Markan priority, Boyarin views this Gospel as representative of the “earliest” Christians. If Mark were Jewish, “then the beginnings of the Jewish movement can be considered in a very different light” (106). In this view, Jesus was fighting not against Judaism, but within it.
To support his contention, Boyarin points out that the distinction made in Jewish thought between clean/unclean and permitted/not-permitted, with the first pair dealing with the body and other matters, is ignored in scholarly discussion of the passage Only the second category is applied in the question of whether foods are kosher or not. He concedes, though, that animals not kosher are called impure in the Torah (112). When one consults the author’s end notes, one finds the interesting remark that this is a “terminological glitch.” I would submit that, while knowledge of this distinction in rabbinic thought is helpful in interpreting this passage, scholars who fail to can be excused.
Nevertheless, Boyarin succeeds, in my view, in showing that the passage carefully records a debate that is, ironically, the earliest witness to the innovative practice of hand-washing to avoid ritual impurity. To him, this is evidence that the evangelist Mark was Jewish. It may however prove nothing more than that he carefully transmitted traditional material in his possession. Whether this is enough to place the entire passage in the world of the “earliest” Christians, therefore in direct continuity with Jesus and his practices, is another matter. For one thing, the fact that the Pharisees complain to Jesus about what the disciples do, not about what Jesus does (Mark 7:5) suggests a possible diachronic dimension. For another, the evangelist’s detailed explanation of the custom of hand-washing is a certain indication that his implied reader is not Jewish and has no certain knowledge of Jewish customs.
Another way in which Boyarin makes sense of the passage is in pointing out that the nature of Jesus’ explanation to the disciples (verses 18–23) treats the matter of impurity as a parable. What comes out of a person defiles, which Jesus then interprets not as bodily emissions, but as characteristics that come out of the heart.
Boyarin concludes that the editorial comment “he purified all foods” (verse 19) means that Jesus rejected the stringent laws of defiled foods (p. 121). I’m not sure this follows. Following Boyarin’s logic, these foods never were impure, meaning there was nothing for Jesus to do except uphold this. There was no “purifying” for him to do.
Boyarin goes further: “It is highly unlikely that in its original context [just what does he imagine this to be?], Mark was read as meaning that Jesus had abrogated the rules of forbidden and permitted animals” (ibid.). Yet to me, the revisions that the Gospel of Matthew makes to this passage shows that its author was, at the very least, concerned that it could very well be read this way. Even more likely: that he understood the Gospel of Mark to mean this.
For Boyarin, the entire passage makes sense, and Jesus’ saying can be seen within a Jewish spiritual world (p. 124). May well be, but Matthew clearly thought otherwise. He deals with this in endnote 24 (p. 184): “The Matthean text makes explicit that which might be ambiguous in Mark as we’ve read it.” This leads him to question whether Matthew is a “Judaizing" revision of Mark, a “temporizing voice that actually serves to neutralize the authentic Christian message on the Law as represented by Mark and Paul, namely, that Christianity is a whole new religion, an entirely different way of serving God from the way that the Israelites and Jews have understood it?” Once again, he reduces the argument to either/or terms that miss the point. The question is not Law yes or no, but which law (or, which aspects of the law) for whom? Either way, I would agree with his conclusion: “Torah-abiding Jesus folks are not aberrant; they simply are the earliest Church,” but not with the way he reaches it.
Regrettably, this book is not up to the high standard of some of Boyarin’s other books, such as Border Lines or A Radical Jew. In addition to the problems I have mentioned, the text feels padded and repetitive, surprising in such a slim volume. Nevertheless, I feel it is a good read, as reflected in my rating. For those who are still laboring under the impression that Judaism and Christianity early diverged into two discrete religions, or that mainstream views of the nature of God and Christ were the result of Hellenistic syncretism, I would recommend this as a good starting point. But not as the last word. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
For Daniel Boyarin, Jesus Christ is fundamentally Jewish, and did not set out to establish a new religion. The thought of Jesus was not a break from current Judaism. Boyarin tries to flip our undestanidng of son of man vs son of God. He argues that 'Son of God' was given to a number of signiificant monarchs, and what was unique for Jesus was to be called Son of Man, a more divine term in Judaism, if not angelic. Enoch, who seems to partake of divinity in apocryphal literature was deemed Son of Man.

Boyarin is not entirely satisfactory in explainng the resurrection, but he does give a considerable alternate view of Christ and his place in Judaism, and is worth reading for that. ( )
  vpfluke | Jul 19, 2014 |
Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, along comes Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic Culture and Rhetoric at the University of California.

You think Christianity’s unique contribution to Judaism was the introduction of a god-man? Wrong. Could it be the idea of a suffering savior? Wrong again. Maybe that Jesus rejected Jewish dietary laws and Sabbath restrictions, freeing us from the Law? Hardly; Boyarin paints a very Jewish Jesus in his reading of the Gospels, certainly a Jesus who keeps kosher.

Christianity’s one claim to fame may be the insistence that the Messiah had already arrived, but that’s about the extent of its uniqueness. Otherwise, Christianity is a very Jewish offshoot of a Jewish religion. Boyarin draws from texts like the Book of Daniel and 1st Enoch to explain the title Son of Man (which, it turns out, is a much more exalted title than Son of God) and in turn to expose the expectation of many first-century Jews of just such a divine savior.

This is a fascinating, controversial book presenting a very different look at Jesus as one who defended Torah from wayward Judaic sects (the Pharisees), rather than vice versa. I don’t think the arguments are fully developed yet, but certainly Boyarin introduces “reasonable doubt” against traditional scholarship. Let the arguing begin. ( )
  DubiousDisciple | Sep 5, 2012 |
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Makes the powerful case that the conventional understandings of Jesus and the origins of Christianity are wrong: that Jesus' core teachings were not a break from Jewish beliefs and that Jesus was embraced by many Jews as the Messiah of the ancient Jewish texts.

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