Baker Academic

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jesus against the Scribal Elite has arrived—Chris Keith

Yesterday in the mail I received the first of my author's copies of Jesus against the Scribal Elite: The Origins of the Conflict, which Baker Academic will officially release next month.  There is a central question that this book answers:  "How did Jesus come to be on the radars of the scribal authorities in the first place?"  In other words, how did Jesus go from being one of thousands of Second Temple Jews to being someone who demanded their attention?  Scholars have typically given this topic very little attention, as most studies of Jesus treat the relationship between the-controversy-already-in-full-bloom and the end of Jesus' life instead.  This is natural and there's nothing wrong with it, but the focus of Jesus against the Scribal Elite is instead on the very early stages of Jesus' career.  When scholars have given this topic attention, they usually point to Jesus' reputation as a miracle-worker and exorcist or his particular views on the law.  These are all good possibilities, but it's also worth noting that Jesus wasn't the only miracle-worker or exorcist in his time, and he certainly wasn't the only person with a non-Pharisaic or non-Sadducean view of the law.  In the book, I complement these other views by proposing that a neglected factor in the inital emergence of the conflict was Jesus' debated authority as a teacher.  In other words, part of the problem wasn't what he taught or how he taught, but the fact that he was teaching at all, and having some success doing it.

I'm sure we'll have a giveaway here soon if Baker Academic will let us.  I've enjoyed working with this press, starting with James Ernest.  If you're interested in the book, you can click on the banner of the blog.

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