Marie Noonan Sabin: Early Christians Were Faithful Jews

Marie Noonan Sabin, The Gospel According to Mark, New Collegeville Bible Commentary (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2006), 7.

Modern Judaism and modern Christianity may have developed along clearly different paths, but readers of the Gospels need to understand that Jesus and his disciples, as well as the evangelists Mark, Matthew, and John (Luke was Gentile), saw themselves as faithful Jews. Matthew’s diatribes against “the scribes and the Pharisees” and John’s scornful use of “the Jews” must be understood in the context of their own times, not that of Jesus.

The way each Gospel expresses its attitude toward Jews and Judaism is one criterion for dating it. John’s denunciation of “the Jews” is one reason for placing his Gospel at the end of the century. Luke’s way of distancing Christianity and Judaism (especially in Acts) suggests that he is not writing in its earliest moments. The Gospels of Mark and Matthew, on the other hand, are clearly composed in the context of a deep regard for Judaism itself. So, while all the Gospels are steeped in the Jewish Scriptures, Mark and Matthew specially present Jesus in the light of them.

2 Comments

  1. Moreover, according to Daniel Boyarin (2012, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ, New York: The New Press), it would have been entirely within the range of possibilities of first-century Judaism to imagine a divine or semi-divine Christ figure. Which is to say, even that particular messianic idea would not have required leaving Judaism.

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