The Symbolic Jesus: Historical Scholarship, Judaism and the Construction of Comtemporary Identity (Religion in Culture: Studies in Social Contest and Construction Series)

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Overview

This volume addresses the current scholarly controversies that have erupted in the last 20 or so years over the implications of the Judaism of Jesus. Since the early 1970s, a surprising number if historical Jesus scholars have been insisting with increasing shrillness that Jesus was a Jew, and that this fact has significant implications for how one reconstructs the figure of Jesus out of the portraits in ancient Christian literature. While both Christianity itself and New Testament scholarship specifically do indeed have a disturbing anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic legacy, by the 1970s, that legacy largely seemed to have been overcome, at least in mainstream biblical scholarship. This suggests that something more, something subterranean, is involved in the emotionally-charged debate over the Judaism of Jesus, a debate over a point no one now disputes, and a debate that generates demonstrably false charges against certain scholars (e.g., John Dominic Crossan, Robert Funk, Burton Mack) as producing a non-Jewish Jesus. This book explores the anti-Jewish legacy of past scholarship, shows that the Judaism of Jesus is a more complex issue than many scholars will acknowledge, and explores the subterranean cultural implications of the recent insistence on the Judaism of Jesus. The book concludes that current controversies centered around the Jewishness of Jesus are actually debates about contemporary identity issues scholarly identities, political identities, religious identities, and the definition of cultural identity itself.
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