• One Jesus for Jews, Another for Christians

    Michael L. Hays (see profile)
    Religious Studies
    Historicity of Jesus Christ, Bible. Gospels, Christianity--Origin, Paganism
    Item Type:
    Historical Jesus, Synoptic Gospels, Christian origins
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    This essay attempts a reconceptualized relationship between Jesus the Jewish man and Christ the Christian messiah, with the twin purposes of mitigating the anti-Semitism of the Synoptic Gospels and reclaiming Jesus for Jews. I critique the quest for the historical Jesus, assess the Gospel accounts of Jesus, and situate Jesus in Christianity, before expanding on Jesus as a Jew. Two interrelated proposals result. One, instead of the pre-Easter Jesus and the post-Easter Christ division made by the Crucifixion, I propose a pre-Jerusalem Jesus and Jerusalem-forward Jesus-to-Christ division made by the Jerusalem gate. Two, given this division, I propose a Christian Jesus basically configured by structural features and cultic elements establishing Jesus as a Christian demi-god and god-to-be, like Dionysius. Three conclusions result from this interpretation. One, Paul defined Christianity without as-yet-unwritten Gospels but created space for their supersessionism and anti-Semitism by positing tendentious Jewish-Christian dichotomies (law vs. love, justice vs. mercy, etc.). Two, the Gospels are the source of supersessionism and Christian anti-Semitism. Three, once divorced from and unencumbered by Gospel Christologizing, Jesus is available to Jews as a Jew. Although the Gospels are unreliable historical narratives because they are designed to serve instructional and proselytizing ends, they present an overall portrayal of Jesus as very much a Jew. He and his actions model for Jews not only traditional Jewish commitments to personal righteousness and social reform with compassion, equality, and justice for all, but also the obligation to speak truth to power.
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    5 years ago
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