Monday, June 26, 2006

Did New Testament Jews Get a Bad Rap?

There was a recent article about the work of E. P. Sanders in THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY that I found interesting. Sanders has suggested that we need to rethink "common wisdom" about rabbinic Judaism of the first century. Sanders questions if the Jewish leaders of the first century were as legalistic has we have been led to believe.

I am not sure that I follow all of Sanders' argument, but I do remember there are times when I have felt that many of us who are "religious leaders" may have more in common with these first century leaders than we wish to admit. Sometimes the "good" that we attempt to do falls far short of what the world really needs. "Let the one without sin cast the first stone."

1 comment:

Bill Shiell said...

Hopefully Sanders has started taking into account the diverse strains of Judaism pre 70 A.D. At one time, Sanders based his arguments on ancient Judaism entirely on post-temple writings. Jewish writings before 70 indicate much more than the old categories of "legalistic," and "non-legalistic." Jewish belief and practice was more diverse than Christian belief and practice today. Maybe Sanders is just now figuring that out, and maybe the church should as well.