A friend tipped me off to this: emeritus Duke New Testament scholar E. P. Sanders discussing Jesus and Judaism. Included in the roughly nine-minute video are Sanders’s view that Christians have needlessly pitted Paul and Jesus (who are “about love” in the eyes of conservatives) against Pharasaic Jewish thought, his pronouncement that people often think of the ancient rabbis as “Calvinistic Presbyterians,” and his view that it is more important to find what Jesus did than what He said.
The video, though brief, is quite interesting for those concerned with issues of New Testament interpretation and, by extension, the New Perspective on Paul, which Sanders has played a role in creating. Sanders discusses his emphasis on telling the story of Jesus without majoring on His words because scholars don’t know which of His reported words were actually said by Him. He notes toward that end that he still wants to follow Jesus, but that the Christianity of his childhood (the evangelical kind) has “largely disappeared.”
As I said, this is a brief but noteworthy little video, produced by Duke University to highlight some of its leading scholars and thinkers who are engaging contemporary matters. I was reminded while watching it of the importance of trust in the Bible. Our task when approaching the Bible, as I blogged about a few weeks back, is not to speak, but to listen.
We must trust the Word and not our doubts and the doubt factory that is the modern theological academy. We do not separate the words of Christ from the deeds of Christ. We know Christ as a unified whole, not some kind of mute spiritual action hero. As God dwelling in human form, Christ speaks with the authority of God, He lives as the way to God, and He dies as the incarnate grace of God.
This is Jesus, whom the Scripture reveals as the one who brings life to a nation caught in legalism and death and who now brings it to us.