A ‘Very Jewish’ Jesus: Perpetuating the Myth of Superiority

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
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  • 1 University of Sheffield

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This article looks at arguably the most dominant rhetorical move in contemporary historical Jesus scholarship, namely the ‘Jewishness’ of Jesus or a ‘very Jewish’ Jesus, and how this superficially but credibly positive rhetoric subtly maintains the older myth of superiority over against Judaism. This scholarly trend is located in contemporary ideological discourses concerning Israel and Judaism and liberal multiculturalism and is shown to be deeply embedded in scholarly historical practice. Some consideration is also given to the ideological locations of the ‘Judean’ and ‘Jesus the Israelite’ debate.

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    Crossley, Jesus in an Age of Terror, pp. 143-94.

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    Wright, Victory, p. 132.

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    Wright, Victory, p. 132.

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    J.G. Crossley, ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays? A Critical Engagement with Key Events and Contemporary Quests for the Historical Jesus’, JSHJ (forthcoming).

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    Wright, Victory, p. 401.

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    Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, pp. 252, 254.

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    Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, p. 17. Cf. E.P. Sanders and M. Davies, Studying the Synoptic Gospels (London: SCM; Philadelphia: Trinity, 1989), p. 317.

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  • 36)

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  • 37)

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    Hengel, Charismatic, p. 9.

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    Hengel, Charismatic, p. 9 n. 21.

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    Hengel, Charismatic, p. 14. See further the comments in Bockmuehl, Jewish Law, p. 25.

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    Wright, Victory, p. 401.

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    Wright, Victory, pp. 13, 93, 107-108.

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    J.H. Elliott, ‘Jesus the Israelite was Neither a “Jew” nor a “Christian”: On Correcting Misleading Nomenclature’, JSHJ 5 (2007), pp. 119-54. For further analysis of this trend see Crossley, Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism, pp. 175-84.

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    B.J. Malina and R.L. Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998), p. 44.

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    Elliott, ‘Jesus the Israelite’, pp. 150-51, 153-54.

  • 53)

    Elliott, ‘Jesus the Israelite’, p. 151.

  • 54)

    Malina and Rohrbaugh, Gospel of John, p. 44.

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