What kind of Jew was Jesus of Nazareth?
John Meier gives a detailed outline of the complexity of the circumstances that surrounded Jesus’ life and ministry. However, he does not offer a definitive and categorical description of Jesus as a Jew. By talking about Jesus’ web of relationships, he provides us with an insight into the kind of Jew that Jesus was. He gives significant emphasis on the importance of knowing the various social relationships that Jesus was involved with. He believes that “to tell the story of Jesus is to tell the story of his various relationships.” The extent in which Jesus dealt with the different Jewish groups of his time like the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, the Zealots, et cetera is fundamental in understanding his words and deeds.
Accordingly, as a very devout first century Palestinian Jew, Jesus was very knowledgeable of the Jewish religious customs, practices and laws. He is apparently brought up according to the rudiments of Jewish life and tradition. His exemplary capacity to engage in debates, discussions and confrontations with some of the religious leaders of his time proves his eloquence and mastery of the Mosaic Law. His association with the various Jewish groups in Palestine indicates his particular interest in the social and religious life of the Jewish society. It has to noted, however, that the religious, social and political aspects of Jewish society are intimately intertwined. Jesus’ religious views cannot be understood apart from the social and political situation of the Jewish society.
Furthermore, Jesus is largely influenced by John, the Baptist from whom he received baptism. He carried on John’s eschatological message with emphasis on the Good News of God’s coming as king who will regather and save the scattered people of Israel. Accordingly, this focus is concretized in Jesus’ very own life as reflected in his words and works.
Jesus primary mission is predicated on an inclusive...
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