Matthew Thiessen: The Jesus of the Gospels Argues on the Basis of Torah

Matthew Thiessen, Jesus and the Forces of Death: The Gospels Portrayal of Ritual Impurity within First-Century Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020), 173.

The Jesus of the Gospels is a Jesus who seeks to observe the Jewish law and who provides legal defenses of his actions on the basis of the Jewish law. People may have disagreed with certain aspects of these arguments, whether a premise or a conclusion, but not with the type of arguments he makes. Consequently, these depictions demonstrate that the Gospel writers desired to portray Jesus in a way that proved, to their minds at least, that Jesus was observing the law properly.

5 thoughts on “Matthew Thiessen: The Jesus of the Gospels Argues on the Basis of Torah

  1. So where does that leave “Christianity?” Jesus was born a Jew, lived his entire life as a Jew, i.e., observing the Law to the very letter, and died a Jew even to the point that the anonymous writers of the Gospels had to invent a person – “Joseph of Arimathea” – to get him buried according to the Law. In fact Jesus says on more than one occasion that the Law is preeminent, (Even unto the end of time not one jot or tilda of the law shall be changed….”)

    Why aren’t all his followers Jews then? We know why the Jews aren’t followers since he didn’t really fulfill any of the Hebrew Scripture prophecies (“really” meaning as prophesied by the actual scriptural writings in Tanak, not the falsified corruptions that the Christians went back and changed to make it work.


    1. The reason Christians today aren’t Jews is largely due to the apostle Paul. His position on gentiles was they should *not* become Jewish proselytes in order to follow Jesus. We know from Paul’s writings that there were some who disagreed with his views. However, as the church became made up more and more of Jews, Paul’s views became more and more dominant. In the end, a view that was in part based on Paul’s own became the “orthodox” position.


      1. Yes, that’s it. The entire religion is based upon Paul’s beliefs made up out of whole cloth from the mystery religions. In fact, in reading Paul you would almost never get a sense that Jesus was a real-life person that lived just a few years earlier. Paul doesn’t mention anything about Jesus’s real life or accomplishments; his family, the virgin birth, any miracles, the sermon on the mount, nothing. But, for some unknown reason, we were expected to believe that Paul knew more about Jesus, his mission and message than the Apostles and even Jesus’ own brother James!

        This is NOT the message or “religion” that Jesus preached and taught. It’s something that came right out of the head of a guy that never knew or even met Jesus! What a load a malarkey.


      2. I think you need to revisit the scholarship on Paul and the historical Jesus, and stay away from Mythicism.


      3. Thank you. I am not a “mythicist” per se, although I believe the Mythicists present a fairly cogent case for a mythical Jesus while, on the other hand, Scholars have very little to point to prove that he was a real person.

        My point is that – at least to the extent that he is depicted in SOME of the gospels (certainly the Jesus of Mark is not the same person as the Jesus of John) Jesus did live as a Jew. He taught them to adhere to the Law and that the end was coming IN HIS LIFETIME. (I’m sure I don’t need to cite the passages, they are famous enough.) My point is that Paul came along and made up an entire religion that clearly conflicts with what Jesus taught. What do you call that? Hyman Maccoby called Paul the “Myth Maker” and the “inventor” of Christianity.

        Now that’s a hard argument to refute. I’m merely stating that Christianity is NOT the religion Jesus was teaching and I don’t believe he would recognize his message in Christians today.


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