Jesus’ Place in First-century Judaism and His Influence on Christian Doctrine

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The main aims of this contribution are, first, to show what Jesus’ place was among the various trends of the Judaism of his time and, second, to estimate the impact on Christianity of his teachings and of his life and death.

According to the Christian tradition (Mark 6:3; Matt. 13:55), it was stated—as being a matter of common knowledge—by Jesus’ contemporaries in his home town Nazareth in Galilee, that he was the son of a carpenter there, and he perhaps became a carpenter himself. In Jewish society in Jesus’ day, carpenters were reputed to be learned[1] and, although Jesus did not receive the academic title “rabbi,” he acquired a considerable amount of Jewish learning. He was extremely well-versed in the Hebrew Bible and its traditional interpretation; he was familiar with Jewish ethical and religious teaching;[2] and he was able to observe the manifold legal prescriptions involved in the Mosaic Law and in Jewish oral tradition.

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  • [1] Jacob Levy, Wörterbuch über die Talmudim und Midraschim (Berlin: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1924), 3:338. Cf. y. Avodah Zarah 3:1 where Ashian the carpenter reports a halachah in the name of R. Yohanan.
  • [2] See David Flusser, “Hillel and Jesus: Two Ways of Self-Awareness,” in Hillel and Jesus: Comparative Studies of Two Major Religious Leaders (eds. James H. Charlesworth and Loren L. Johns; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997), 93-94.

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  1. Pingback: Myth of the Pagan Origins of Christianity | JerusalemPerspective.com Online

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