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Jesus and the Forces of Death: The Gospels' Portrayal of Ritual Impurity Within
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Jesus and the Forces of Death: The Gospels' Portrayal of Ritual Impurity Within First-Century Judaism Paperback - 2021

by Matthew Thiessen


From the publisher

Named a Sejong Book of 2021, Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea (KPIPA)

2020 Center for Biblical Studies Book Award (New Testament Runner-Up)

"Utterly fresh and innovative, important both exegetically and ethically."--Paula Fredriksen, Review of Biblical Literature

Although most people acknowledge that Jesus was a first-century Jew, interpreters of the Gospels often present him as opposed to Jewish law and customs--especially when considering his numerous encounters with the ritually impure. Matthew Thiessen corrects this popular misconception by placing Jesus within the Judaism of his day. Thiessen demonstrates that the Gospel writers depict Jesus opposing ritual impurity itself, not the Jewish ritual purity system or the Jewish law. This fresh interpretation of significant passages from the Gospels shows that throughout his life, Jesus destroys forces of death and impurity while upholding the Jewish law.

From the rear cover

"Compelling and wonderfully written"

"Thiessen's masterful study puts to rest the pervasive and false view that Jesus--as portrayed in the canonical Gospels--opposed the ancient Jewish purity laws. Thiessen argues convincingly that the Gospels depict Jesus not as dismantling the Jewish purity system but as destroying the forces of death that result in ritual impurity. The book is compelling and wonderfully written--a must-read for anyone interested in Jesus, the Gospels, and the ins and outs of ancient Jewish law and practice. It also makes a powerful case for the ongoing relevance of the Hebrew Bible for a historical understanding of Christianity and for Christians today."
--Adele Reinhartz, University of Ottawa

"Matthew Thiessen's Jesus and the Forces of Death is a much-needed historical and theological intervention. For far too long, constricted ideas and damaging misinterpretations of first-century Judaism and Jesus's ministry have severely limited interpretation of the Gospels. From scholars to students, preachers to everyday Christians, readers will encounter a Jesus here who is far more faithful to his context and thus far more life-giving in his teaching and healing alike."
--Eric D. Barreto, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Matthew Thiessen has written a thought-provoking and in-depth study on the Gospels' depiction of Jesus's work in relation to purity laws. Importantly, he demonstrates that the authors portray Jesus as acting wholly in accordance with Jewish laws. Thiessen's innovative interpretation of the Gospel stories is a welcome addition to the scholarship on purity in the New Testament. This study is sure to generate much discussion and debate."
--Cecilia Wassn, Uppsala University

"For centuries interpreters of the Gospels have mistakenly thought that Jesus battled the Jewish ritual purity system, when, in fact, he battled ritual impurity itself. For Jesus and the Evangelists, as for most ancient people, ritual impurity was a real substance, a miasma. And according to the Gospel accounts, Jesus came to destroy it--so argues Matthew Thiessen in this brilliant book. If you read this book, you will learn a thousand new things."
--Matthew V. Novenson, University of Edinburgh

Details

  • Title Jesus and the Forces of Death: The Gospels' Portrayal of Ritual Impurity Within First-Century Judaism
  • Author Matthew Thiessen
  • Binding Paperback
  • Pages 254
  • Volumes 1
  • Language ENG
  • Publisher Baker Academic
  • Date 2021-02-02
  • ISBN 9781540964878 / 1540964876
  • Weight 0.79 lbs (0.36 kg)
  • Dimensions 9 x 6 x 0.7 in (22.86 x 15.24 x 1.78 cm)
  • Themes
    • Religious Orientation: Christian
  • Library of Congress subjects History, Jesus Christ - Person and offices
  • Library of Congress Catalog Number 2021443423

About the author

Matthew Thiessen(PhD, Duke University) is associate professor of religious studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He is the author of Contesting Conversion: Genealogy, Circumcision, and Identity in Ancient Judaism and Christianity (awarded the Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise) and Paul and the Gentile Problem. He is also the coeditor of several volumes.
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