Monday, November 21, 2011

A Review of Jesus Research

This year I was invited to present a paper to the Synoptic Gospels Study Group at the annual convention of the Evangelical Theological Society in San Francisco. My assignment was to critique the book, A Review of Jesus Research, edited by James Charlesworth, Director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at Princeton University. Dr. Charlesworth is also a noted Jesus scholar and one of the world's foremost experts on Pseudepigrapha. The following is the paper I presented. Dr. Charlesworth was on hand to critique my paper.

A Review of Jesus Research
Dennis Ingolfsland
Crown College


The book, Jesus Research,[1] contains the proceedings of the first Princeton-Prague Symposium on the study of the Historical Jesus.[2] The purpose of this symposium was to evaluate the current state of Jesus Research since, as Charlesworth notes, the perceived consensus of the 80’s has “collapsed into a chaos of opinions.”[3]
After summarizing the history of the quests for the historical Jesus, Charlesworth says that “In 1985 something new began to appear,” which he has termed, “Jesus Research.” His book includes discussions of improved methodologies, refined perspectives, fresh sources, topography and archaeology.
According to Charlesworth all the contributors to Jesus Research agreed, to varying degrees, that Jesus should be studied within the world of Second Temple Judaism, that the Evangelists altered their sources in light of their own theology, that presentations of Jesus were distorted by confessionalism and anti-Semitism, and finally, that Jesus research is possible.[4]
Because the book was written by twelve different authors, I will not attempt to critique each one but will highlight some of the insights I particularly appreciated, followed by an examination of a couple issues I’d like to explore in more detail.
Overall, I found the book to be informative and thought provoking. I appreciated the chapter by Craig Evans which argued that the subversive way in which Jesus interpreted Scripture goes back to Jesus himself and is not just a product of the early church. I agreed with Gerd Theissen’s final, almost offhand observation that when “Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs, there was…an informal ‘social control’ on conformity with his message” and that this “created the basis for passing on his message after his death.”[5] I only wish Theissen had elaborated on this topic further[6] in order to address the question posed by Charlesworth in the introduction, “Is it true that oral tradition is unreliable…?”[7]
I appreciated the fact that all contributors to this book agreed that Jesus should be studied within the context of Second Temple Judaism.[8] Charlesworth in particular emphasized the devout Jewishness of Jesus and the way in which recent archaeological discoveries have supported Jesus’ Jewishness in general and the historical reliability of the Gospel of John in particular. Charlesworth used concrete examples to compare old paradigms in Jesus research with new paradigms, noting that “more advances have been achieved in biblical research over the past twenty-five years than in the preceding 250 years.”[9]
For example, Charlesworth points out that under the “old paradigm” the assumption was that “Second Temple Judaism was orthodox, monolithic, cut off from other cultures…and defined by four sects: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots.”[10] Under the “new paradigm” the discovery of “more than 900 documents…within the Qumran corpus” and “65 documents in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha” shows that the actual situation was much more complicated and nuanced.
Under the “old paradigm” the Gospel of John was often assumed not to be a Jewish composition whereas the new paradigm views John as a “very Jewish work.”[11] Further, as Charlesworth points out, archaeology has shown that John’s knowledge of such areas as the Pool of Siloam, the Pool of Bethesda with its five porticoes, “Herod’s expanded Temple area,” and Pilate’s judgment seat demonstrate that the author had significant knowledge of pre-70 Jerusalem.[12] Claussen also defended the reliability of John’s gospel, refuting claims that the story about Jesus’ turning of water into wine was dependent on earlier Jewish or pagan sources. He used the wedding at Cana to argue that John’s theology is firmly rooted in history.[13]
Jens Schroter argued persuasively (and contrary to some of the more radical Jesus scholars) that the Galilee of Jesus’ time was thoroughly Jewish. Even Tiberius and Sepphoris which exhibit significant Hellenistic influence were not nearly as Hellenistic as Gentile cities in regions bordering Galilee. One of the implications Schroter draws from this is that the controversies surrounding Jewish purity laws and Sabbath observance reflect a “milieu shaped by Jewish life in the Galilean villages and thus certainly differ from the time of the Gospel’s composition, when the Jesus’ movement had already expanded into an urban context.”[14] Schroter also notes that Jesus ministry “into the Decapolis and the coastal region…is quite plausible for the 20s of the first century, but scarcely conceivable during the period when the Gospels were written….”[15]
I was particularly intrigued by some of the insights discussed by Tom Holmen and Michael Wolter relating to Jesus’ self-understanding.[16] For example, Holmen argues from Zechariah 13:1 and Ezekiel 47:1 that the altar of the temple “functioned as a distributor of purity” and that “it was accepted as the ‘fountain opened for…the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity.” He discusses the fact that the Gospels do not present Jesus as becoming defiled by contact with those who were unclean, but rather “he appears to function just like the altar of the temple which by mere touch could render people clean.”[17] Holmen says he doesn’t want to press this analogy, but the analogy needs to be pressed. If Jesus believed that he had the same power as the altar of the Temple, as Holmen suggests, what precisely was Jesus claiming?[18]
Wolter argues that “The earthly establishment of the Rule of God is accompanied by a theophany” and that “the expectation of the Rule of God is linked with the expectation of the direct presence of God in person” (emphasis is his).[19] According to Wolter, “Jesus claims for himself something that in the basic eschatological stock of knowledge of his milieu was reserved exclusively for God.”[20]
So according to Holmen Jesus considered himself to be able to personally cleanse people from sin and impurity, a power attributed to the altar of the Temple. And according to Wolter Jesus claims something for himself that “was reserved exclusively for God.[21] I’m interested, therefore, to know about Dr. Charlesworth’s view of Jesus’ self-understanding in general, and of these two views in particular.[22]
      There are a couple of topics I’d like to explore in more depth. First is Petr Pokorny’s contention that Jesus divided John’s students over outreach strategy. Second is Charlesworth’s conception of the Jewishness of Jesus.
First, Pokorny asks “why Jesus divided the group of John’s students”[23] and “What is the difference in their teaching”?[24] He argues from Luke 7:18-35 // Matthew 11:18-19[25] that Jesus interpreted the final judgment of God in a positive way rather than “shocking people” with the preaching of judgment as John had done.[26]
            Pokorny argues that John’s clothing and ascetic lifestyle was undoubtedly “a prophetic sign for the society of his time…(2 Kgs 1:8)” which corresponds to John’s preaching of repentance, coming judgment, the axe at the root of the tree and the chaff being burned.[27] He says that John’s intention was to shock his contemporaries with warnings of God’s impending judgment.[28]
            Jesus, on the other hand, “is described as one who eats and drinks too much, as a ‘glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”[29] Jesus “participated in table fellowships” in which he announced sins forgiven, or that “salvation has come to this house.”[30] Pokorny concludes that Jesus’ strategy of salvation was different than John’s and that “The deepest reason for Jesus’ parting from John was obviously here, in the general strategy of salvation and reform.”[31]
            Although in the end, Pokorny acknowledges that in Jesus’ sayings there is “a strong motif of apocalyptic judgment against individual groups,”[32] he still concludes that “Instead of shocking the people by proclaiming the judgment of God,” Jesus “interpreted God’s ultimate judgment positively.”[33] Pokorny views this difference as being so great that it divided the ministries of Jesus and John.
I think this seriously downplays the extent and significance of the strong preaching of judgment in Jesus’ ministry. Like John, Jesus was also a fiery preacher who warned of judgment and called for repentance.[34] According to passages spread throughout the Gospels, Jesus’ warnings were every bit as dire as the Baptist’s, if not more so. The Jesus of the Gospels warned that it is better to go through life maimed than to be thrown with two hands, feet and eyes into hell where the “worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mk 9:43-48 // Mt 5:28-30; 18:8-9). He warned people not to fear those who could kill the body, but rather to “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt 10:28 // Lk 12:4-5). He said it would be more tolerable on judgment day for Sodom and Gomorrah than for towns that rejected his message, and on numerous occasions he warned of a “furnace of fire” or “eternal fire,” and of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (see Mark,[35] Q,[36] M,[37] L,[38] and John[39]).
Since Pokorny agrees that in Jesus’ sayings there is “a strong motif of apocalyptic judgment against individual groups,”[40] I’ll not belabor this point further (except in the endnotes cited above). Suffice it to say that we have more solid historical evidence for proclaiming Jesus as a fiery preacher of judgment than we do for John, for which the primary evidence comes from Q. If Jesus was a disciple of John, as Pokorny believes, it would be more reasonable to argue that Jesus got his fiery apocalyptic preaching from John than to argue that this is what separated them.[41]
I must confess that I have devoted special attention to Pokorny because it seems to me that his thesis adds support to popular Christian culture (or at least in what seems to be the theology of some of my students) in which Jesus seems to have been re-imagined as the ultimate example of one who is completely non-judgmental, all-understanding, and infinitely tolerant (though I’m sure that is not what Pokorny intended). I do not think such a view is supported in the Gospels or was true of the historical Jesus.[42]
Second, I wholeheartedly agree with Charlesworth in his insistence on the Jewishness of Jesus. Charlesworth writes, “Jesus must not be understood over against Judaism, nor should we talk about ‘Jesus and Judaism’; Jesus is to be studied within Judaism….”[43] Charlesworth writes of “Jesus’ deep Jewish devotion” and says that he “affirmed the Torah as the revelation of God’s will.”[44] He says the idea that Jesus broke the commandments and did not honor the Shabbat is misinformed. On the contrary, Jesus kept the Passover and taught in the Temple calling it, “My Father’s House.” Jesus’ disciples, James and John, continued their worship in the Temple even after Jesus’ death.[45]
Charlesworth contends that even the terms “Christian” and “church” “are clearly anachronistic within first-century phenomena.”[46] He says that those labeled “Christians” in Acts 11:26 would not have been pleased with the title and that “The term ‘Christianity’—which is too often understood as an antithesis to Judaism—is thus revealed as misleading in describing first-century religious phenomena.”[47] Charlesworth concludes, “My point now is simply to point out that to claim we can talk about ‘Jews’ and ‘Christians’ in the first century is anachronistic and distorts our attempts at reconstructing first-century Palestinian society.” [48]
I agree with Charlesworth on the Jewishness of Jesus, and yet I have to wonder whether, in a rightful emphasis on the Jesus’ Jewishness, this emphasis does not downplay the very real differences between first century Jews in general, and the first century Jesus movement. I’m sure that Charlesworth would agree that there was some degree of discontinuity between the two groups,[49] but I am interested in exploring the extent of that discontinuity. For example, nearly everyone acknowledges that Jesus was at odds with the religious leadership but I’ve found relatively few who point out that Jesus’ condemnation was not just directed at religious leaders.
For example, in passages assigned to Q, Jesus attacks not just the Jewish leaders, but his entire generation for their condemnation of both John and Jesus (Lk 7:31-35//Mt 11:16-19). Jesus speaks of an “evil generation” that asks for a sign (Lk 11:29//Mt:12:39; 16:4).[50] At the final judgment, according to Q, even the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon will rise up and condemn the Jewish villages that rejected Jesus (Lk 10:13-15 // Mt 11:20-24).[51] In fact, the Jesus of Q apparently considers his generation so evil that even the Gentiles of Nineveh and the Queen of the South will condemn it (Lk 11:31-32//Mt 12:42, 41).
According to Mark, Jesus addresses anyone—not just religious leaders—who would be ashamed of him[52] in what he calls, “this adulterous and sinful generation” (Mk 8:38). [53] Jesus called his generation a faithless generation[54] (Parallels in both Matthew and Luke read “faithless and perverse generation” (Mk 9:19/Mt 17:17//Lk 9:41) and he seemed to express exasperation with them asking, “how long shall I put up with you” (Mk 9:19 // Mt 17:17 // Lk 9:41)?
            Jesus’ condemnation of his generation is found not just in Mark and Q but also in material unique to Matthew (M) in which Jesus calls it an evil generation (Mt. 12:45) and warns that “the sons of the kingdom”—not just religious leaders—“would be thrown into outer darkness” where people would “weep and gnash their teeth” (Mt 8:12).[55]
In material unique to Luke (L) Jesus predicts that he will be rejected—not just by the Jewish leadership—but by “this generation” (Lk 17:25). Haacker contends that it was the memory of the rebellious wilderness generation under Moses that was the background for Jesus’ condemnation of his own generation.[56]
            In John’s gospel Jesus proclaims that “Everyone who does evil hates the light” (Jn 3:20).[57] Jesus declares that it is the world, not just religious leaders, that hates him because he testifies “that what it does is evil” (John 7:7; 15:18, cf. 17:14).[58]  John would have us understand that during the feast of booths, Jesus told a crowd in the Temple that “not one of you keeps the law” (Jn 7:19).[59] Since, in Jesus Research, both Charlesworth and Claussen argued for the reliability of John, these passages should not be automatically dismissed as products of the Johannine community, especially since the sayings cohere well with what we find in the Synoptics.[60], [61]
            In other words, according to tradition in Mark, Q, M, L and John, Jesus set himself apart from many of his Jewish contemporaries and offered a strong condemnation of them. I have no doubt that more radical critics, like those of the Jesus Seminar, for example,[62] could dissect each of my supporting passages and provide arguments for why they must be attributed to an anti-Semitic church rather than to Jesus.[63] I have been persuaded by Dale Allison, however, who argues that:
If general impressions are typically more trustworthy than details, then it makes little sense to reconstruct Jesus by starting with a few of the latter—perhaps some incidents and sayings that survive the gauntlet of our authenticating criteria—while setting aside the general impressions that our primary sources instill in us.[64]
Allison continues,
…certain themes, motifs, and rhetorical strategies recur again and again throughout the primary sources; and it must be in those themes and motifs and rhetorical strategies—which, taken together, leave some distinct impressions—if it is anywhere, that we will find memory.[65]
My point is that even if individual passages I have used to support my argument are challenged, there seems to be a strong theme in Mark, M, L, Q and John that present Jesus as a fiery apocalyptic preacher who called everyone in Israel to repentance, not just the religious leadership and, contrary to Pokorny, not just “individual groups.”[66]
Although all of the earliest Christians were Jews, the discontinuity and tension between Jews in general and the early Jesus movement did not disappear after the resurrection.[67] The writer of First Peter, for example, contrasts Jews who “stumble because they disobey the message” (1 Pet 2:8) with his readers “in Christ” (1 Pet 5:14) whom he calls “a spiritual house,” “a chosen people” a “holy” and “royal priesthood,” who offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God” (1 Pet 2:5-9).
The writer of Hebrews, provides an extended discussion on how the Levitical priesthood and the entire sacrificial system is replaced by a new and “a better covenant” (Heb 7:22; 8:8),[68] with an entirely new priesthood and a new High Priest who serves in the “true tabernacle” (Heb 8:2)[69] which is a “greater and more perfect tabernacle” (Heb 9:11).[70] It is hard to imagine how the fault line between the first century Jewish Jesus movement and their Jewish brothers and sisters could have been made any more clear (or offensive). Yet if the writer of Hebrews had been anti-Semitic it is hard to understand why he would have included his long list of Jewish heroes of faith in chapter 11—men and women whom the writer obviously holds in highest esteem.[71], [72]
Similarly, Paul pulls no punches in describing the animosity between Jews and the early Jesus movement. His own testimony is that as a zealous Jew he once “persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13).[73] Paul contrasts the new covenant which he calls “a ministry of righteousness” and “ministry of the Spirit” with what he calls the “ministry of death” and “ministry of condemnation” (2 Cor 3:3-9). Indeed, Paul’s rhetoric against his fellow Jews could hardly be more offensive when he charges that they killed Jesus and the prophets, and that they displease God by hindering Paul and his group from speaking to Gentiles (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16a).[74], [75]  Even though all of the very earliest Christians were Jewish, there seems to have been considerable discontinuity (and even animosity) between first century Jews and the first century Jesus movement.
Many have argued that statements like the ones I have quoted above are not reflective of the historical Jesus but are evidence of the anti-Semitic nature of the early church.[76] It must be remembered, however, that Paul’s statements come from a man who proudly boasts of his Jewish heritage[77] and says that his heart’s desire is that fellow Jews would be saved (Rom 10:1).[78] In fact, in an amazing expression of love, Paul says he would be willing to be eternally condemned if that would somehow save his Jewish brothers and sisters (Rom 9:2-3; cf. 10:1). This is certainly not someone who is anti-Semitic!
In fact, as others have pointed out, the kind of strong Jewish self-critique[79] found in the New Testament—far from being anti-Semitic—is actually characteristic of ancient Judaism. For example, the Torah portrays the Children of Israel as rebellious and hard-hearted, a “crooked and twisted generation,” a “foolish and senseless people” who are “no longer his [God’s] children” (e.g. Ex 15:24; 16:2-3; 17:2-4; Lev 26:41; Num 14:1-44; 20:3-5; Dt 31:15-18; 32:5-6). Similarly, Isaiah calls the people of Judah “offspring of evildoers,” a “sinful nation” who are “laden with iniquity” (Isa 1:4). He even calls Jerusalem the city that “has become a whore” (Isa 1:21).[80]
Jeremiah accuses both Israel and Judah of being a “foolish and senseless people” (Jer 5:21) who have “stubborn and rebellious” hearts (Jer 5:23).[81] Hosea says “There is no faithfulness of steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land” but rather “there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery…”(Hos 4:1-2).[82] Examples from the prophets could literally go on for pages.[83]
In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the writer of the Habakkuk Pesher condemns Jerusalem priests who “accumulate riches and loot from plundering the peoples.”[84] Similarly, the Nahum Pesher condemns the wicked people of Judah and Ephraim who “walk in treachery and lies.”[85] In the Rule of the Community the faithful are instructed to “detest all the sons of darkness”[86] who, as Charlesworth points out, were Jews, not Gentiles.[87], [88]
In the Apocrypha, the writer of First Maccabees condemns fellow Jews who had forsaken the Covenant, calling them godless, lawless, malcontents, and renegades who hated their nation.[89] The writer of Baruch explains that the Jews were conquered by their enemies because they angered and provoked God by sacrificing to demons and because they “turned away from the law of God” and “had no regard for his statues.”[90]  
In the Pseudepigrapha, the writer of Forth Ezra claims to be speaking for God saying, “Go and declare to my people their evil deeds, and to their children the iniquities which they have committed against me….”[91] In Jubilees, God speaks of his people’s rebelliousness and stubbornness,[92] declaring that they will “forget all of my commandments” and “persecute those who search out the Law,” and that they “do evil in my sight.”[93] Just as the Gospels record that Jesus spoke of outer darkness and fiery judgment, so also the writer of First Enoch speaks of outer darkness[94] and fiery judgment.[95] The Jesus of the Gospels tells Judas that it would have been better for him not to have been born (Mk 14:21//Mt 26:24). Similarly, First Enoch says that when sinners face the judgment for their sins, “It would have been better for them not to have been born.”[96] According to Matthew 23 Jesus pronounces “woes” on the scribes and Pharisees.[97] Enoch also pronounces woes on Jews that the author perceives to be sinners.[98]
My point is that while I agree completely with Charlesworth on the Jewishness of Jesus, and while I agree with Pokorny on the importance of table fellowship and God’s grace in the ministry of Jesus, there was apparently much within Jesus’ contemporary Jewish culture[99] with which he was not pleased. Like Jewish prophets and writers before and after him, Jesus found it necessary to strongly condemn the sinfulness of his generation, to warn them of coming judgment, and to call his generation—not just the religious leaders or individual groups—to repentance.
According to Charlesworth, all of the authors in Jesus Research agreed that the presentations of Jesus in the Gospels were distorted by anti-Semitism,[100] but I would argue that this view fails to do justice to the true Jewishness of Jesus in the context of a long history of self-critique by Jewish prophets and writers.[101]
My agenda for spending so much time on this issue stems from my concern that because of the church’s disgraceful history of anti-Semitism,[102] and because of the horrors of the holocaust, Christians are rightly eager to distance themselves from that history,[103] but in so doing we may be distorting history (and theology) by downplaying the significant tradition of apocalyptic judgment pronounced by Jesus against his generation.[104] We seem to want to let first century Jews off the hook.
By contrast, John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul don’t seem to have let their contemporaries off the hook any more than did the Jewish prophets before them.[105] In fact, I’m sure Paul would say that both Jews and Gentiles are on the same hook![106] As Paul writes, “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written, None is righteous, no not one” (Rom 3:10). Paul concludes that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) and Paul believes this conclusion is supported by Jewish Scripture.[107]
In Jesus within Judaism, Charlesworth writes,
“Both the Woes and the Beatitudes in the Gospels probably derive from Jesus, and indicate that he inherited from contemporary Judaism both God’s judgment (1 Bar, 4Ezra) and his forgiveness (PrMan). Yet he replaced the stress on a distant, vengeful God about to annihilate the wicked—Jews and Gentiles—with an emphasis on a present, forgiving Father who wished repentance from all Jews.[108]
So after all this, perhaps I am just quibbling with Pokorny and Charlesworth on where to put the emphasis in Jesus’ preaching. They place the emphasis on Jesus’ love and compassion while I tend to think Jesus emphasized—as Paul might have put it—both the goodness and severity of God (cf. Rom 11:22).[109] The difference in emphasis may seem trivial, but I think it has significant implications for how the Gospel is preached. For example, in the last 20 years I’ve heard many, many sermons on the love of Jesus. I don’t recall a single one on Jesus’ preaching of judgment.[110]
            The topic of Jesus’ relation to Judaism is one that has occupied Dr. Charlesworth for over twenty years, not only in the book under review but also in his other books like Jesus within Judaism, Jesus’ Jewishness,[111] and Jews and Christians,[112] so I am interested to know to what extent, if any, he agrees with my critique and, if we disagree, whether he sees the disagreement as significant or as merely a matter of emphasis.
I found Jesus Research to be fascinating, challenging and thought provoking. I want to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Keylock for inviting me to be part of this discussion, and I consider it a great honor to have the opportunity to interact with Dr. Charlesworth—an internationally renowned scholar whom I greatly admire.

[1] Charlesworth, James H. and Petr Pokorny, Jesus Research (Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 2009).
[2] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 1.
[3] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 1.
[4] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 14.
[5] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 122.
[6] Instead Theissen spends most of his time on an extended comparison of Jesus with Judas the Galilean, which I thought was sometimes a stretch. For example, Judas the Galilean is the only model of itinerancy contemporary with Jesus that Theissen can find. Josephus doesn’t describe Judas as itinerant but Theissen infers Judas’ itinerancy from the fact that he originally came from the Gaulanitis but was later called Judas the Galilean. Rather than understanding this merely as a change of residence, Theissen assumes that Judas was itinerant because to spread his anti-tax message he would have to be itinerant (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 110). This seems to be quite a stretch. Not everyone whose message became popular was itinerant, e.g. John the Baptist. As another example, Theissen writes, “In my view, it is historically fairly certain that Jesus had to distance himself from the teachings of Judas Galilaeus. This is shown by the discussion about the payment of taxes (Mark 12:13-17)” (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 114). Although it may be possible that Jesus tried to distance his teaching from that of Judas, to say that this is “fairly certain” is going beyond what the evidence will support.
[7] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 4.
[8] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 14.
[9] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 56, 58.
[10] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 58.
[11] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 60-61.
[12] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 61-66.
[13] For example, Claussen writes, “It takes place in Cana in Galilee ‘on the third day’ (2:1). By referring to Jesus’ mother (2:1, 3-5, 12), brothers (2:12) and disciples (2:2, 12) the story is connected to earlier references to his home in Nazareth (1:45-46), the calling of the first disciples, and implicitly also his father Joseph (1:45). The description of the wedding may allow a comparison to Jewish wedding customs of that time. Finally, the stone jars may be similar to those found at a number of sites by modern day archaeologists” (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 89).
[14] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 50.
[15] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 51.
[16] Space did not permit adding Haacker to this discussion. Haacker argues persuasively that “kingdom of God” and “life” were often used as equivalent ideas in the Gospels and that entering the kingdom or life carried the idea of salvation. Haacker then convincingly links the words used in Jesus’ offer of the kingdom or salvation[16] with the words used for God’s offer of the kingdom or salvation in the Old Testament.[16] Haacker concludes that “Jesus had to die in order to make clear beyond doubt that his message was about an eschatological salvation....” (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 153). But even in Jesus’ time people weren’t generally killed just because their message was about eschatological salvation. On the other hand, if Jesus was claiming to personally offer something that only God could grant, that may help to explain the violent reaction to his ministry.
[17] Holmen traces this thinking back to Jesus himself and not just to the creative theology of the early church (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 220-221).
[18] In Matthew 12:1-8 Jesus proclaims his lordship even over the Sabbath saying, “Something greater than the temple is here.” Since this phrase is not in the parallels in Mark 2:23-28 and Luke 6:1-5 it would undoubtedly be seen by many as a Matthean redaction, still, it would seem that Matthew’s Jesus proclaimed himself to be greater than the temple. Although Holmen doesn’t cite this passage, Matthew 12:1-8 would seem to support Holemen’s argument.
[19] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 137.
[20] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 138. Although Wolter didn’t cite First Enoch, I wonder if, in Wolter’s view, Jesus would have considered himself to be fulfilling the words of First Enoch: “The God of the Universe, the Holy Great One, will come forth from his dwelling. And from there he will march upon Mount Sinai and appear in his camp emerging from heaven with a might power” (1 Enoch, Book 1, 1:3-4). Or in chapter 25: “This tall mountain which you saw whose summit resembles the throne of God is (indeed) his throne, on which the Holy and Great Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit when he descends to visit the earth with goodness” (1 Enoch 25:3-5). See also the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs which says: “Through his kingly power God will appear [dwelling among men on earth] to save the race of Israel (Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs: Naphtali, 8:3).
[21] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 138.
[22] Although Form Critics once assumed that such thinking must be attributed to the early church, Charlesworth wisely observes, “For 200 years, New Testament experts have tended to assume that the great theological and Christological masterpieces in the New Testament corpus must be dated late…This penchant must be exposed as absurd” since it “would mean that Jesus, Paul and the earliest thinkers in the Palestinian Jesus movement were not advanced and that we need to wait decades for brilliance” (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 68).
[23] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 172. Like most scholars, Pokorny assumes that Jesus was a disciple of John and that there must have been a break between them. Pokorny cites Mark 1:9-11 and its parallels in support of this assertion (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 171), but Mark 1:9-11 says nothing about Jesus being a disciple of John. According to Meier, the idea that Jesus was a disciple of John is based on inferences drawn from John 1:35-44 and John 3:26-30. Meier notes the irony that while many critics accept as fact the idea that Jesus was a disciple of John, the idea is based on “the Gospel that is usually shunted aside as unreliable for reconstructing the historical Jesus.” Although Meier concludes that the Jesus probably did follow John for a short time, Meier argues that “Jesus, Andrew, and Philip (John 1:35-37, 40, 43-44) were probably not the only Jews around the Baptist who moved in and out of his ambit” and “As far as we know no one who received John’s baptism was obliged ipso facto to do so permanently. Hence talk of ‘defection’ or ‘apostasy’ from John’ inner circle is questionable, since the group of people around John may well have been largely unstructured and impermanent” (Meier, John. A Marginal Jew [Volume 3. New York : Doubleday] 117-118). The point is that Pokorny’s entire thesis seems to be on a thin foundation from the start.
[24] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 172.
[25] He argues, rightly in my view, that the text regarding John being demon-possessed and Jesus being a drunken glutton is undoubtedly authentic since “adherents of Jesus would never have invented a saying that slanders Jesus” like this (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 173.
[26] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 180. Charlesworth makes a similar statement in his book, Jesus within Judaism: “The apocalyptists tend to be vengeful, often calling upon God to destroy Jews’ enemies.  Jesus was more concerned with inward dispositions and an attitude of compassion and outgoing love (but see 2En 52)” (Charlesworth, Jesus within Judaism. [New York : Doubleday, 1988] 38). I agree that Jesus was “concerned with inward dispositions and an attitude of compassion…” but, as I argue later in this paper, I detect more of the apocalyptists’ fervor in Jesus than is often recognized.
[27] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 175.
[28] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 176. According to passages assigned to Q, John called his audience a “brood a vipers,” spoke of the “wrath to come” and warned them to “Bear fruit that befits repentance.” John warned of coming judgment in which “the ax is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Mt 3.7-10 // Lk 3.7-9). John says that the wheat would be gathered into the granary, but the chaff would be burned with “unquenchable fire.” Mark 1.4, followed by Matthew 3.1-2 and Luke 3.2-3 records that John preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” and that he confronted Herod about being married to the wife of Herod’s brother (Mk 6.17-18 // Mt 14.4, cf. Lk 3.19). That’s pretty much all we have on John’s preaching of judgment. Josephus records none of John’s fiery preaching saying only that he was a good man and explaining why Herod had him executed (Ant. 18.5). By contrast, we have much more on Jesus’ warnings of judgment.
[29] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 176.
[30] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 176.
[31] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 177-178.
[32] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 179.
[33] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 180.
[34]  See Mk 1:14; Mt 4:17; Lk 3:3.
[35] In Mark, followed by Matthew, Jesus warned that it is better to go through life maimed than to be thrown with two hands, feet and eyes into hell where the “worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched (Mk 9:43-48 // Mt 5:29-30, 18:8-9). Jesus told scribes and Pharisees they would receive “greater condemnation” for their hypocritical show of piety (Mt 23:14 // Mk 12:40 // Lk 20:47). He told a parable about the owner of a vineyard who would deal with his rebellious tenants by destroying them and giving the vineyard to others (Mk 12:8-9 // Lk 20:15 // Mt 21:41).
[36] In Q passages Jesus warned people not to fear those who could kill the body, but rather to “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt 10:28 // Lk 12:4-5). He said that Capernaum would be brought down to Hades (Mt 11:21-24 // Lk 10:12-15) and that it would be more tolerable on judgment day for Sodom and Gomorrah than for Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. In a parable about a faithful and unfaithful servant, Jesus warned that the servant’s master would come unexpectedly and punish him with the hypocrites where “men will weep and gnash their teeth” (Mt 24:50-51 // Lk 12:46). Jesus’ parable of the Talents ends with the worthless servant being cast into outer darkness where “men will weep and gnash their teeth” (Mt 25:14-3). The parable of the minas (Lk 19:11-27) is similar (the two parables usually assigned to Q) but ends slightly differently with the nobleman demanding the execution of his enemies. Either way, it is a theme of judgment (On the flaws in Kloppenberg’s theory of the stratification of Q in which he would assign all such judgmental passages to the second edition of Q, see my article, “Kloppenborg’s Stratification of Q and its Significance for Historical Jesus Studies.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society [46/2 June, 2003] 217-232).
[37] Matthew’s unique material (M) is even more shocking.[37] Jesus warned that “the sons of the kingdom would be thrown into outer darkness” where people would “weep and gnash their teeth” (Mt 8:12). In fact, he said it will “be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah” than for the town that rejects his message (Mt 10:18). Speaking of the judgment at the end of the age, Jesus warned that the angels would “gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth” (Mt 13:42, cf. 49-50 and 22:13). At the final judgment Jesus separates the “sheep” from the “goats” telling the latter, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angel (Mt 25:41, cf. 46). With regard to fiery preaching, what Matthew 23 records of Jesus far exceeds anything recorded about the Baptizer when Jesus calls the religious leaders greedy self-indulgent fools who are hypocrites, blind guides, whitewashed tombs and children of hell (Mt 23:15-17; cf. Lk 11:42-44)!
[38] In material unique to Luke (L), Jesus says the unfaithful servant who knew his master’s will but did not act accordingly, would receive a “severe beating” (Lk 12:47). Jesus warned his audience that unless they repent, they would perish like those Galileans who were slaughtered by Herod or like those who died when the tower of Siloam fell (Lk 13:5). Jesus warned his Jewish audience that one day workers of evil would find themselves shut out and be ordered to depart to a place where they would weep and gnash their teeth (Lk 13:28). In his parable of the Great Banquet, Jesus warned that none of those invited would taste of the banquet (Lk 14:24, cf. Mt 22:13). Finally, Jesus told a story about a rich man who died, was buried and was in anguish and torment in the flames of Hades (Lk 16:22-24).
[39] The judgmental tone of Jesus’ message recorded in the Synoptics can also be found in John where Jesus is recorded as saying that those who do not believe in him are “condemned already” since they “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn 3:18-19). Jesus spoke of those who have done evil coming out of the tombs to “resurrection of judgment” (Jn 5:28-29). He reportedly told his antagonists that it was Moses who accuses them (Jn 5:38-45).  Jesus called his contemporaries liars who do not know God and he charged that the devil, not God, was their father (Jn 8:19, 42-44, 55). Jesus said they would die in their sin (Jn 8:21).
[40] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 179.
[41] In Jesus Research, Theissen argued that Jesus was itinerant, and I would argue that stories of table fellowship would be expected more in the life of one like Jesus who traveled from village to village than in the life of one like John who ate locusts in the desert.
[42] Jens Schroter argued that those who “imply a fundamental re-orientation in Jesus’ separation from John…are creating an impression that is incorrect. In spite of its own particular emphasis, Jesus’ ministry by no means departs from the conceptual framework it shares with that of John. This is characterized by the conviction that God’s judgment is eminent; simply belonging to Israel is not enough to pass muster before it. In this respect John and Jesus have their place in a broader context of Jewish renewal movements including, each in their own way, the Qumran Community, the Pharisees, and the prophetic or messianic figures mentioned by Josephus” (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 52).
[43] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 66.
[44] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 67. In Jews and Christians Charlesworth writes, “The historical Jesus should be seen as a devout Palestinian Jew who was influenced by the liturgy of the synagogue. He was one who prayed and was always God-oriented. He was especially influenced by some strains of Jewish apocalypticism; his basic message was shaped by the conviction that God would act very soon on behalf of faithful Jews” (Charlesworth, Jews and Christians 46).
[45] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 66-67.
[46] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 70.
[47] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 70.
[48] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 71.  Similarly, in Jesus within Judaism Charlesworth writes, “For four decades—from 30 to 70—the Palestinian Jesus movement was a Jewish group that used Jewish traditions to articulate allegiance to Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew from Galilee” (Charlesworth, James H. Jesus within Judaism; New Light from Exciting Archaeological Discoveries [New York : Doubleday] 1988).
[49] In Jesus’ Jewishness Charlesworth writes that “it is clear that Jesus was crucified by the Romans, probably because he seemed to them a political insurrectionist.” Later he cites with approval F.F. Bruce’s comment that Jesus was “far from an inoffensive person” (Charlesworth, James H. Jesus’ Jewishness [New York : Crossroad Herder, 1996] 189, 195). In Jesus within Judaism Charlesworth writes that Jesus’ “life and teachings were often in sharp contrast to the religious life of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes” and “E.P. Sanders, in his important Jesus and Judaism, underestimates the sheer magnitude of the social crises cause by Jesus’ rejection of the Jewish, especially Essene, rules of purification” (Charlesworth, Jesus within Judaism 73) and finally, that “…the opposition to the Jerusalem Temple cult is so dynamically embedded in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Samaritan literature, as well as in other early Jewish literature, that is was on one of the forces that shaped the Jewish groups that produced the documents” (Charlesworth, Jesus within Judaism 192).
[50] Γενεα πορνηρα.  Matthew adds μοιχαλις, “adulterous.”
[51] Also in Q, when Jesus sends his disciples out into the villages he warns them, “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves…” (Lk 10:3// Mt 10:16). In what could be seen as a Matthean addition to this Q passage, Jesus warns, “when they persecute you in one town, flee to the next” (Mt 10:23). It is hard to imagine that he had only religious leaders in mind, though he may have seen religious leaders as instigators of broader persecution. In yet another Q passage, Jesus is probably not just thinking of religious leaders when he condemns sinners in general saying, “I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers” (Lk 6:27-28//Mt. 7:23-24).
[52] Ος γαρ εαν επαισχθνθη...
[53] Εν τη γενεα ταυτη τη μοιχαλιδι και αμαρτωλω. Parallels in Matthew and Luke leave out the adulterous part (Mk 8:38//Mt 16:26//Lk 9:26).
[54] Ο γενεα απιστος.
[55] Οι δε υιοι της βασιλειας εκβληθησονται εις το σκοτος το εξωτερον εκει εσται ο κλαυθμος και ο βρυγμος των οδοντων.
[56] Haacker, Klaus. “What Must I Do To Inherit Eternal Life” in Charlesworth, Jesus Research 148-149.
[57] Πας ο φαυλα πρασσων μισει το φος.
[58] The tension between Jesus and “The Jews” is especially clear in John 8:12-58 though it is not entirely clear who “the Jews” include. The passage begins with Jesus addressing “the people” in general (Jn 8:12) but it is the Pharisees who challenge him (Jn 8:13) and to whom Jesus initially responds. Later in the chapter Jesus addresses “the Jews who had believed him” but it is precisely these Jews—who apparently included more than just religious leaders since it doesn’t appear that many of the leaders followed Jesus—whom Jesus challenges saying “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (Jn 8:31). These “Jews who believed him” answer claiming to be Abraham’s descendants (Jn 8:33), a point Jesus concedes (Jn 8:37). Jesus then accuses them of being ready to kill him, following the example of their father (Jn 8:38). At first they claim Abraham, and then God as their father (Jn 8:39, 41). Jesus responds saying “you belong to your father the devil” who “was a murderer from the beginning” (Jn 8:44). Earlier they had implied that Jesus was illegitimate (Jn 8:41) and now they accuse him of being demon possessed (Jn 8:48, 52). This passage is often viewed as being particularly anti-Semitic even though 1) as demonstrated later in this paper, it is no more “anti-Semitic” than what we find in other Jewish writings, 2) an argument could be made that the passage should be considered generally authentic on the basis of the criteria of embarrassment since it is unlikely that later Christians would have fabricated stories about Jesus being illegitimate or demon possessed and 3) Ronald Diprose cites 1 Jon 3:10 to point out that in Johannine theology “all of humanity, not just the Jewish people, are divided into tekna theou (‘children of God’) and tekna tou diabolou (‘children of the devil’)…Thus it is faulty exegesis to take Jesus’ phrase ‘you belong to your father, the devil,’ in isolation an read anti-Judaic attitudes into it while failing to consider parallel expressions used elsewhere in John’s writings” (Ronald Diprose. Israel and the Church.  [Rome, Italy : Istituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano, 2004] 35).
[59] Και ουδεις εξ υμων ποιει τον νομον.
[60] Charlesworth, however, once argued that “In that community the Jews who ‘believed in Jesus’ were being expelled from the synagogues in which they desired to worship and celebrate the high Jewish holidays” and that “It seems, therefore that the hostile portrayal of the Jews in John was occasioned by a harsh social situation: Jews leveling invectives at other Jews. John emerges out of a historical situation marred not by non-Jews verses Jews, but by some Jews fighting with other Jews” (Charlesworth, Jews and Christians 50).
[61] D. Moody Smith points out that the writer of John “obviously knows that Jesus is a Jew and yet “in John the Jews stand over against Jesus and his disciples.” Smith argues that “From John 9:22 one may infer that they are religious leaders exercising authority in the synagogues to which at least some followers of Jesus belonged.” In John 12:42 they seem to be Pharisees. Smith concludes that ‘The Jews’ is, then, a term used of a group of Jewish leaders who exercise great authority among their compatriots and are especially hostile to Jesus and his disciples (80-82). Smith doesn’t mention that in John 6:22, 24, the crowd follows Jesus across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. This crowd—and it is unlikely that the crowd consisted only of religious leaders—begins to take an oppositional stance against Jesus, are called “the Jews” (Jn 6:41, 52). In other words, Smith’s qualification limiting “the Jews” just to religious leaders does not always seem to be supported by the text. For John “the Jews” stands for those Jews (not all Jews) who take an oppositional stance against Jesus, regardless of whether they are religious leaders (Smith, D. Moody. “Judaism and the Gospel of John” in Jews and Christians [New York : Crossroad, 1990], 80-82).
[62] See, for example, Robert Funk’s description of his methodology in Honest to Jesus (San Francisco : HarperSanFrancisco, 1996) 60-62.
[63] Leander Keck probably reflects the thinking of most critical scholars. He assumes that both Matthew and John have altered their traditions about Jesus in light of their own struggles with Judaism. For example, Keck writes, “Matthew’s readers confronted a Judaism that was closing its ranks, forcing Jewish Christians to choose between their Jewish heritage and Christian identity” (Keck, Leander. “Jesus and Judaism in the New Testament” in Earthling Christologies edited by Walter P. Weaver and James H. Charlesworth [Valley Forge, PA : Trinity Press International] 1995, 66). Even if Matthew and John had altered their sources in light of the tensions of their times, this cannot negate the fact that Mark, Matthew, John, Luke and Q all present us with a Jesus who—like prophets in the Old Testament—condemned the sinfulness of his generation.
[64] Allison, Dale C. Constructing Jesus; Memory, Imagination, and History (Grand Rapids : Baker, 2010) 14.
[65] Allison, Constructing 15. Similarly, in Jesus Research, Wolter’s writes: “I will restrict myself to the search for typical contexts in which Jesus appears. The reasons for this restriction are above all practical ones, for it is far easier to reach a consensus on the reconstruction of such typical contexts than on the reconstruction of individual situations.”[65]
[66] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 179.
[67] In fact, according to the Book of Acts the tension existed from the very beginning of the church. The writer of Acts asserts that on the first Pentecost after the resurrection, Peter preached to a crowd in Jerusalem saying, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). The message attributed to Stephen is even more pointed, “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit. Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it” (Acts 7:51-53). Although the historical reliability of Acts has certainly been challenged, it still gives us the perspective of a Christian author living in the first century. From that author’s perspective Jewish leaders attempted, with threats, beating and imprisonment, to force Peter and John to stop preaching Jesus (Acts 4:1-21; 5:17-18, 27-41). When Herod executed James, the writer of Acts says “this pleased the Jews” (Acts 12:1-3). When Paul preached in Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Thessalonica, Berea, and Jerusalem he was reportedly persecuted by Jewish crowds in each city (13:45, 50; 14:5, 19; 17:1-10, 13; 21:27-31). The first century writer of Acts apparently believed that there was some “discontinuity” between first century Jews and the Jesus movement.
[68] Κρειττονος διαθηκης.
[69] Της σκηνης της αληθινης.
[70] Της μειζονος και τελειοτερας σκηνης.
[71] If the writer of Hebrews had been anti-Semitic, it is also unlikely that he would have attributed Jewish writings in the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit or to God as he does, for example, in Hebrews 3:7, 8:8 and 10:15.
[72] According to Charlesworth, the Palestinian Jesus movement came to an end in AD 70 (Charlesworth, James. Jews and Christians. [New York : Crossroad, 1990] 38). It would be possible, therefore, to ascribe the thinking in Hebrews to the post-70 church rather than to the earliest Jesus movement. Yet, some, e.g. F.F. Bruce, have argued that Hebrews was written before AD 70. Bruce argues that the most natural way of understanding Hebrews 10:2 is that the sacrifices were still being offered when Hebrews was written (Bruce, F.F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. New International Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 1990] 236. But even if Hebrews was written post-AD 70, the same kind of thinking about New Covenant vs. Old Covenant can be traced back to Pre-70 AD as is seen in Paul’s writings discussed next.
[73] According to Acts 22:5 Paul carried out this persecution under the authority of “the high priest and the whole council of elders.” After his conversion, Paul’s “discontinuity” with Judaism was so strong that when the “circumcision group” (Gal 2:12) tried to tell his new converts that they must keep Jewish law in order to complete their conversion or to be fully saved, Paul cursed them saying (twice), let them “be eternally condemned” (Gal 1:8, 9).
[74] Some have argued that this passage was not original to First Thessalonians but must be a later redaction. There is no textual support for this theory.
[75] We find the same kind of rhetoric attributed to Peter and Stephen. According to Acts, Peter stands up before a Jewish crowd, probably not long after the first Pentecost after the resurrection and proclaims, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One…You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead” (Acts 3:13-15). Similarly Steven is reported to have preached, “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him” (Acts 7:51-52). I fail to understand why these speeches should be attributed to anti-Semitism. First, in both cases the preachers are undoubtedly Jews! This is not a case of Gentile hatred of Jews but of Jewish self-critique. Second, the harshness of the rhetoric is really no different than the Jewish self-critique we see in the prophets, Dead Sea Scrolls, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.
[76] The Gospel of Matthew often receives the most severe criticism in this regard and yet Matthew is the most Jewish of the canonical Gospels. As Keck points out, “…Matthew emphasizes more than any other New Testament book that Jesus fulfills Scripture and Israel’s hope.”  “Seven times Matthew actually points out that what we have just read happened as the fulfillment of Scripture….” Matthew “also shows that Jesus is like Moses, first as a baby who was nearly killed by a king (2:13-18) and then by bringing God’s law on a mountain (chaps. 5-7). Moreover, Matthew’ Jesus explicitly limits the mission of the disciples to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and tells them to avoid the gentiles…” (Keck, Leander, “Jesus and Judaism in the New Testament” in Earthling Christologies 63).
[77] Paul boast that he is an offspring of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee and a “Hebrew of the Hebrews” and a student of Gamaliel (Acts 22: 3-5; Rom 11:1; 2 Cor 11:22; Phil 3:5).[77] He calls his fellow Jews, “Kinsmen according to the flesh” to whom belong “the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” (Rom 9:3-4).
[78] Contrary to some modern theologians, Paul says that God has not ultimately rejected his people, the Jews (Rom 11:1-2) and that one day “all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26). In fact, Paul insists that Gentile salvation comes only through being “grafted in” to a Jewish “olive tree” (Rom 11:13-24). This is essentially what the Gospel of John records Jesus as teaching (“salvation is from the Jews”) which might seem strange coming from what many scholars consider to be such a blatantly anti-Semitic Gospel (Jn 4:22).
[79] It is important to bear in mind that the supposed “anti-Semitic” criticism found in the New Testament is not an expression of Gentile criticism against Jews, but of Jewish self-criticism!
[80] Other examples from Isaiah include, “Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves” (Isa 3:8-9). “Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine (Isa 5:11). “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixed drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent” (Isa 5:22). “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issues oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless” (Isa 10:1-2). “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men (Isa 29:13). “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil” (Isa 59:2-4).
[81] Other examples from Jeremiah include, “On your clothes men find the lifeblood of the innocent poor” (Jer 2:34). “…You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness” (Jer 3:2). “During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, ‘Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there (Jer 3:6). “…Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery” (Jer 3:8). “Oh Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?” (Jer 4:14). “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good” (Jer 4:22). “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city” (Jer 5:1).  “But they did not listen or pay attention; instead they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts” (Jer 7:24). Then the LORD said to me, ‘Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague” (Jer 14:11-12). “And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evil doers, so that no one turns from this wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah” (Jer 23:14). “Have you forgotten the wickedness committed by your fathers and by the kings and queens of Judah and the wickedness committed by you and your wives in the land of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem? To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law…” (Jer 44:9-10).
[82]  Other examples from Hosea include, “…the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord” (Hos 1:2; cf 2:1-23). “The more the priests increased, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful. They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness. And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways…(Hos 4:7-9). “Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the LORD. Israel’s arrogance testifies against them; the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin; Judah also stumbles with them” (Hos 5:4-5). “I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel. There Ephraim is given to prostitution and Israel is defiled” (Hos 6:10). “…this sins of Ephraim are exposed and the crimes of Samaria revealed. They practice deceit, thieves break into hours, bandits rob in the streets; but they do not realize that t I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me. They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, burning like an oven…” (Hos 7:1-4). “Israel’s arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the LORD his God or search for him (Hos 7:10). “Woe to them because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them because they have rebelled against me!” (Hos 7:13). “Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit. And Judah is unruly against God, even against the faithful Holy One” (Hos 11:12).
[83] For example, the book of Ezekiel says, “He said, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn…they are a rebellious house…” (Ezek 2:3-5). Against Jerusalem Ezekiel writes, “Yet in her wickedness she has rebelled against my laws and decrees more than the nations and countries around her. She has rejected my laws and has not followed my decrees” (Ezek 5:6). “This is what the sovereign LORD says: Strike your hands together and stamp your feet and cry out ‘Alas!’ because of all the wicked and detestable practices of the house of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine and plague” (Ezek 6:11). Also against Jerusalem, “In you are slanderous men bent on shedding blood; in you are those who eat at the mountain shrines and commit lewd acts. In you are those who dishonor their father’ bed; in you are those who violate women during their period, when they are ceremonially unclean. In you one man commits a detestable offense with his neighbor’s wife, another shamefully defiles his daughter-in-aw, and other violates his sister, his own father’s daughter. In you men accept bribes to shed blood; you take usury and excessive interest and make unjust gain from your neighbors by extortion. Any you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign LORD” (Ezek 22:9-12). The book of Joel says, “Wake up you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinker of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips” (Joel 1:5). Joel goes on to call the people to repentance, “Even now, declares the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning” (Joel 2:12). Amos writes that Judah has “rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statues,” having been led astray by their lies (Am 2:4-5).[83] Micah pronounces woe on those who oppress others and “devise wickedness and work evil on their beds” (Micah 2:1-2).[83] Habakkuk complains, “How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevail. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice if perverted” (Hab 1:2-4).  Zephaniah condemns Jerusalem saying, “Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled!” (Zeph 3:1).[83] Zechariah says, “Do not be like your forefathers, who whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the LORD” (Zech 1:4). “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry” (Zech 7:11-12). Malachi continues the condemnation: “So I will come to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,’ says the LORD Almighty (Mal 3:5). “Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them” (Mal 3:6-7). “You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me” (Mal 3:9). These quotes are come nowhere near exhausting the pool of scathing self-denunciation by Jewish prophets on the Jewish leaders, priests and people found in the Tanakh—and in light of all these scathing Jewish self-denunciations, I must say that I find it a little surprising that charges of anti-Semitism against Jewish writers of the New Testament have received so much acceptance.
[84] 1QHab IX.
[85] 4QNah.
[86] IQS1.10.
[87] Charlesworth, Jesus Research 71.
[88] Other examples from the Dead Sea Scrolls include the following:  “…Both those, followers of my testimony, have allowed themselves to be enticed by those spread[ing lies] [and they have discontinued] in the service of justice, even though you, God, commanded them to seek fortune far from their paths, [walking] on your holy path, on which the uncircumcised, the unclean, the vicious, do not travel. They have staggered off the path of your heart and in [boundless] misfortune they languish. Belial is the counselor of their heart, and following the schemes of iniquity they wallow in guilt” (1QH XIV 19-22). “These are the arrogant men who are in Jerusalem. They are the ones who: Have rejected the law of God and mocked the word of the Holy One of Israel. For this the wrath of God has been kindled against his people and he has stretched out his hand against them and wounded them” (4Q162 Frag.1 col. II. Isaiah). “Its interpretation: he has punished them with hunger and with nakedness so they will be shame and disgrace in the eyes of the nations on whom they relied” (4Q166 col II, Hosea). “Its interpretation are the wick[ed people of Judah] the house of Peleg, which consorted with Manasseh” (4Q169 Frags. 3-3 col. IV, Nahum). “Is interpretation concerns the last priests of Jerusalem, who will accumulate riches and loot from plundering the peoples. However, in the last days their riches and their loot will fall into the hands of the army of the Kittim” (1QpHab IX). “Its interpretation concerns the congregation of the poor [for of them is] the inheritance of the whole wor[ld. They will inherit the high mountain of Israel [and] delight [in his] holy [mou]ntain, but those who are [cursed by him will be cut off. These are the ruthless ones of the co[venant, the wicke]d men of Israel who will be cut off and exterminated forever” (4Q171 III. Psalms). “”And they will not know and will not understand that I am annoyed with them for their transgressions [for they will des]ert [me] and do what is evil in my eyes and what I do not want them to choose: domineering for money, for advantage [and for wickedness,] one stealing what belongs to his neighbour and one persecuting his neighbour; they will defile my temple[they will loath my Sabbaths and] my festivals and with the sons of [foreigners] they will debase their offspring; the priests will rape…” (4QPseudo-Moses Apocalypse Frag. 2 col.I). (DSS quotations are from Martinez, Florentino Garcia. The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated. [Leiden : Brill] 1994.
[89] 1 Macc. 1:43; 9:23-25; 9:58; 69; 10:61; 11:21; 14:14.
[90] Bar 4:6-7, 12-13.
[91] Fourth Ezra 1:4-7.
[92] Jub 1:7
[93] Jub 1:9-12. The writer of Jubilees also prophecies a coming “evil generation” in which the people will do “great evil,” “forsaking the covenant,” and committing “polluted and abominable deeds,” having “forgotten the commandments and covenant…” (Jub 23:14-19).
[94] 1 Enoch 10:4.
[95] 1 Enoch 21:1-4; 54:1-6; 67:13; 90:24-26; 91:9-10; 103:5-8.
[96] 1 Enoch 38:1-3.
[97] Charlesworth does an excellent job documenting, from sources contemporaneous with Jesus, that it was a caricature of the truth to imagine that all Jews of Jesus day were like the self-righteous Pharisee in the Luke’s story of the Pharisee and the sinner (Charlesworth, Jesus within Judaism, 47-51). This is certainly true, but even today a preacher may preach against what he perceives to be self-righteousness among some in his audience, knowing full well that many in the audience are not self-righteous at all. Similarly, Jesus’ condemnation of self-righteous religious leaders should not be dismissed as creations of the late first century church simply because there were many Jews (like Zachariah, Simeon, Elizabeth, Anna, John, Nicodemus, Joseph of Aramathia, Mary and Martha, Lazarus, or the “teacher of the law” described in Mark 12.28-34) who loved God earnestly and not hypocritically.
[98] 1 Enoch 94:6-8, 96:5-8; 96:4-8; 97:7-8; 98:9-16; 99:1-2, 11-15; 100:7-9. Even Josephus could be critical of his own Jewish countrymen at times, for example when he writes how under Felix, “the affairs of the Jews…grew worse and worse continually; for the country was filled with robbers and imposters, who deluded the multitude.” (Josephus. Antiquities. 20.8.5).
[99] Whatever that might mean, now that we are accustomed to thinking in terms of Judaisms rather than one “orthodox, monolithic” religion “cut off from other cultures” (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 58, 59).
[100] If by this the authors mean that some of what the New Testament authors chose to include in their writings, and the way they chose to say it, was influenced by conflicts between church and synagogue, I would not quibble. But if they mean that N.T. writers fabricated events and sayings as an expression of their hatred of Jews, or if they mean that the Jewishness of Jesus and the Jewishness of the earliest followers of Jesus was such that there really was not much distinction between Jews and the earliest Jesus movement, then I must disagree.
[101] The fact is that the Jewish self-critique in the New Testament almost seems a bit mild when compared with some other Jewish writings. For example, nowhere in the New Testament would is there a plea that God not be merciful to those doomed to everlasting fire, nor pardon them even when they do penance, as there is in the Rule of the Community (1QS II 8).
[102] “Jaroslav Pelikan observes that, ‘Virtually every major Christian writer of the first five centuries either composed a treatise in opposition to Judaism or make this issue a dominant theme in a treatise devoted to some other subject” (Pelikan, as quoted in Diprose, Ronald E. Israel and the Church.  [Rome, Italy : Instituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano] 178).
[103] Charlesworth, for example, says that Anti-Semitism has “distorted the re-creations of first century phenomena and especially the presentation of the historical Jesus” (Charlesworth, Jesus Research 56). My concern is that we may be overreacting and committing the opposite error, i.e. that in our oversensitivity to the shameful history of Anti-Semitism we may be distorting presentations of the historical Jesus in the opposite direction. Schroter, for example, notes that “the current sensitivity to the Jewish roots of Christianity, much greater than in earlier stages of Jesus Research, is due not least to the theological reflection that occurred in the wake of the Shoa” (Schroter, Jens. “Jesus of Galilee” in Charlesworth, Jesus Research 27).
[104] I should probably interject somewhere in here—lest anyone think that I am operating under some hidden anti-Semitic agenda—that anyone who knows me knows of my strong uncompromising and outspoken support for the Jewish people in general and the state of Israel in particular. I would also add that absolutely nothing that Jewish leaders or Jewish people did to Jesus, Paul or early Christians justifies the shameful way in which Christians have treated Jews down through the centuries. In persecuting Jews, Christians denied the very teachings of Jesus and Paul they professed to follow.
[105] And, assuming that Acts is reliable, the same would be true for Peter and Stephen.
[106] Of course another part of this solution lies in taking Jesus seriously when he commanded that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mk 12:31; Mt 19:19; 22:39; Lk 10:27).
[107] As demonstrated by Paul’s quotations from Ps 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccl 7:20; Ps 5:9; Ps 140:3; Ps 10:7; Isa 59:7-8; and Ps 36:1 in Romans 3:10-18.
[108] Charlesworth, Jesus within Judaism 43.
[109] Admittedly, it is difficult or impossible to determine the actual relative degree of emphasis the historical Jesus placed on judgment vs. good news. How would we do that? Count the number of verses or pericopes (or pericopae)
in Jesus’ sayings on judgment as opposed to the number of sayings or pericopae in his preaching of the good news? Even then, the best we could hope for is to determine the relative degree of emphasis each Gospel writer placed on the topic. Granted, there may be more verses in the Gospels on love, compassion and good news than on judgment, but on the other hand in both Matthew and Mark the very first words Jesus is recorded as preaching as part of his ministry includes a call to “repent” (Matt 4:17; Mark 1:14). The fact is that in all four gospels Jesus preaches a strong and powerful message judgment and a call to repentance as part of good news. In modern preaching, the judgment part often seems to be omitted entirely.
[110] Leon Morris writes, “The wrath of God is not a popular subject today but it looms large in biblical teaching (Moris, Leon. Expositors Bible Commentary. [Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1981] 145). Similarly Simon Kistemaker writes, “Preaching sermons on hellfire appears to be something that happened in the past but not today. This type of preaching is considered an oddity of the eighteenth century; it should not be heard from a twentieth-century pulpit. True. Sermons ought to proclaim the gospel of salvation, the call to repentance, the assurance of pardon, and the message of reconciliation between God and man. Proportionally, Scripture says little about God’s burning wrath that consumes his enemies. If Scripture sets the example, we should follow its practice. Nevertheless, no preacher may fail to warn the people of the dire consequences of turning away from the living God. The recurring theme of the Epistle of Hebrews is one of warning God’s people” (Kistemaker, Simon J. Thessalonians, the Pastorals and Hebrews. New Testament Commentary. [Grand Rapids : Baker, 2007] 296-297.
[111] Charlesworth, James H. Jesus’ Jewishness (New York : Crossroad Herder, 1996).
[112] Charlesworth, James H. ed. Jews and Christians (New York : Crossroad, 1990).