A historical mistake about Jesus and ritual purity


This is a reflection about purity and Jesus.

Scholars have frequently used Jesus’ attitude toward purity to explain his teaching about openness to all people.

Cecelia Wassen (“The Jewishness of Jesus and Ritual Purity”, here) shows that some of these interpretations arise from misunderstanding or bias.

She points to the late Marcus Borg in Conflict, Holiness, and Politics in the Teaching of Jesus. Borg, she says, saw purity as the opposite of compassion.

Similarly, Karen Wenell in Jesus and Land: Sacred and Social Space in Second Temple Judaism portrayed purity as opposed to love.

Many feminists have interpreted purity laws as sexist. Wassen gives Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan’s Women in the New Testament as an example.

She gives James Dunn’s article “Jesus and purity: an ongoing debate”, New Testament Studies, as an example of those who oppose purity to inclusiveness.

I have observed these scholarly views being taken up…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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