Thursday, April 5, 2007

Jews and Jesus, cont'd: that reference on preaching the Epistles

As promised a few posts ago:

Ronald J. Allen and Clark M. Williamson, Preaching the Letters without Dismissing the Law: A Lectionary Commentary (Westminster John Knox, 2006).

The book is a sequel to the authors' Preaching the Gospel without Blaming the Jews: A Lectionary Commentary (Westminster John Knox, 2004).
Until about thirty years ago, preachers largely interpreted first-century Judaism as rigid, legalistic, centered in works righteousness, and promoting empty ceremony to the exclusion of ethical living. Even today, preachers often state or imply that Christianity saves people from Judaism. However, as part of the increasing dialogue between Jewish and Christian communities in the wake of the Holocaust, scholars are discovering that the ancient Jewish community, like its contemporary descendants, placed great stress on grace and love and had a permeating concern for living every day in harmony with God's purposes.

... Far from attacking Judaism, the letter writers typically want Gentile converts to become more Jewish in their attitudes and behaviors. The ancient authors did not envision Christianity as a new religion to supersede Judaism. They did not, in fact, speak of "Christianity" but of "the church," a term that in Greek reflects a Jewish way of speaking about the congregation of God. Several letter writers envisioned the church as a provision of the God of Israel in preparation for the apocalypse.

... These matters are not simply items of political correctness. They arise from deep theological convictions. The God of Israel is also the God of the church who reveals through both communities God's unconditional love for all.

*********************************************from the Preface

Jewish scholars have long seen something that growing numbers of Christian scholars are also seeing: the view of Judaism in Paul's time as being works-righteous and legalistic and as confusing one's own righteousness with God's grace is a false representation. As one Jewish scholar, Lester Dean, observed, "When we Jews hear about Paul's description of Judaism as legalistic and based upon self-works, we are astounded. This is neither what we believe today, nor what is found in the Hebrew Scriptures, nor what is found from any sources at the time of Paul."
**************************************from the Introduction

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