Jewish Believers in Jesus: Book Notice

This is coming a bit late, as the book as been out since 2007, but I am currently reviewing Hendrickson’s Jewish Believers in Jesus: The Early Centuries and it is a fascinating study.  It is edited by Oskar Skarsaune and Reidar Hvalvik.  Contributors, at least from the NT end, include Richard Bauckham and Donald Hagner.

Bauckham discusses ‘James and the Jerusalem Church’ – an incisive analysis of the composition, lifestyle, activities, status, and beliefs of the earliest Jewish Jesus-believing community.

Here are a couple of interesting things from Bauckham:

1. Stephen’s offense: ‘his stoning is not due to the speech at all.  It is the penalty for the perceived blasphemy in his claim to see Jesus at God’s right hand…’ (p. 64).

2. Early Christian scriptural interpretation (and pesher): ‘We must postulate something like an exegetical school within the early Jerusalem church whose members could be considered the first Christian theologians’ (p. 66) – normally Paul is named the first Christian theologian, but perhaps…not…?

3. Junia (Rom. 16.7): ‘…the fact that Paul calls them [Junia and Andronicus] apostles means that they were among those commissioned by the risen Christ in a resurrection appearance.’ (p. 86-7 – is this a common assumption that their apostleship assumes actual contact with the risen Christ?)

I am currently reading Donald Hagner’s essay: ‘Paul as a Jewish Believer – According to His Letters’.  I know that the discussion of this essay at a review session at SBL was controversial, but I will need to go back and see why after I finish this piece.  So far, it has a nice history of interpretation of Paul’s attitude towards his own Judaism, his commitment to the law, and the issue of call/conversion.

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