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The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity [Paperback]

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Item description for The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity by Richard N. Longenecker...

The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity by Richard N. Longenecker

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Regent College Publishing
Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.58"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1994
Publisher   Regent College Publishing
ISBN  1573830291  
ISBN13  9781573830294  

Availability  63 units.
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More About Richard N. Longenecker

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Richard N. Longenecker is professor emeritus of New Testament at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto. His many other books include "The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period, New Testament Social Ethics for Today, Introducing Romans: Critical Issues in Paul s Most Famous Letter, " and the New International Greek Testament Commentary volume on Romans.

Richard N. Longenecker currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario.

Richard N. Longenecker has published or released items in the following series...
  1. McMaster New Testament Studies
  2. New International Greek Testament Commentary (Nigtc)
  3. Word Biblical Commentary

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity?

Outstanding Scholarship  Oct 23, 2008
I thoroughly agree with the previous reviewer. The author extrapolates information from the earliest Christian sources we already have to give us a clear picture of how Jesus' earliest Jewish followers interpreted his identity and his mission with the conclusion that this was passed on to them by Jesus himself.

The author takes those portions of the New Testament which could only have been written and understood by first century Jews and for first century Jews. These writings have an affinity for the kind of Jewish sectarian ideas that are found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. These writings include Matthew, John, Hebrews, James, I and II Peter, the Johannine episles, Jude, and Revelation. The Gospel of Mark and Luke and the bulk of the Pauline Epistles were clearly written for a gentile audience. However, there are primitive declarations embedded in Paul's writings which he could not have made up.

Other products of primitive Jewish Christianity include the Didache, the Greek version of The Testimony of the Twelve Patriarchs, and The Similitudes of Enoch. The Nag Hammadi gospels of Thomas and Philip and the Pseudo-Clementine writings were products of later forms of heterodox Jewish Christianity.

A variety of messianic titles and figures identified with Jesus that would only make sense to messianic Jews of the first century include: an archangel (a heavenly mediator); an eschatological Mosaic prophet; The Name of the Lord (by which Jesus worked miracles); the Righteous One (used in James); the Shepherd and Lamb (denoting God's relationship to Israel); the rejected stone; the firstborn Son of God; and the Heavenly High Priest (Melchizedek).

Jesus was reticent to declare himself as a messiah and his Davidic kingship was somewhat muted to avoid political controversies which would have destroyed the movement right from the start. However, the author demonstrates that Jesus' followers could hardly have believed that his actions fulfilled prophecies unless Jesus believed himself to be the Messiah.

The title Lord was given to Jesus very early as evidenced by the most ancient eucharistic prayer invoking his presence which was retained in Aramaic, "Maranatha" (our Lord come). The extensive use of Psalm 110:1 in the New Testament also reinforces this title. The phrase our God and Lord Jesus referred to two separate entities, God and Jesus, and were not a threat to Jewish monotheism. The term "Word" used in John's prologue was a theme used in Jewish Wisdom literature and was a product of the more Hellenized Judaism found in Asia Minor where the Johannine writings originated.

The author demonstrates that Jesus most commonly referred to himself as Son of Man in reference to Daniel 7. This is a vague term that would be unintelligible to gentiles but combines the elements of suffering and vindication. Jesus undoubtedly saw himself as the suffering servant of Isaiah. Jesus' suffering and death echoes the theme of Isaac submitting to his own proposed sacrifice. This was a common motif employed in first century Judaism.

The resurrection was the inspiration which fueled his followers' convictions that he was the Messiah. This could only have been supported by what Jesus had taught them previously in regard to himself as a fulfillment of prophecies. This belief ultimately came from Jesus himself.

The author does a masterful job of tearing down previous theories of celebrated liberal scholars such as Bultmann who claimed all of these messianic claims about Jesus were legendary and projected back into the Gospels at a later date. The New Testament is an accurate reflection of what Jesus believed about himself.
The Centrality of the Resurrection  Oct 13, 2008
All serious students of early Church history and Christian origins should be thankful to Regent College for republishing this book that originally appeared in nineteen seventy. While this book was written early in the extended and productive career of Richard Longenecker, it is a challenging work of meticulous scholarship which provides incisive insights and analysis. Fully conversant with all prior scholarship and the source documents including the Dead Sea Scrolls, the author's arguments are well developed and stimulating. Disconcerting to some will be the author's unquestioning acceptance of the resurrection of Jesus and the activities of the Holy Spirit in the early Church. Whether this is a reflection of the author's faith or merely a respect for the intellectual integrity of his sources matters little. It is my contention that to dismiss these supernatural constructs as anti-rational misses the point. The fact is that the acceptance of such phenomenon in the first century CE was widespread. To exclude or explain away the resurrection and the activities of the Holy Spirit in any reconstruction of this history leads to tortured and distorted interpretations. In my opinion, it is a remarkable post Enlightenment scholarly conceit to dismiss the "realities" of the past to create naturalistically correct alternative histories. The acceptance of Jesus' resurrection by His earliest followers is seen by the author as pivotal in the formation of their thoughts regarding Him.

This book is broken up into five chapters the first of which is a introduction detailing the issues to be considered with an explanation of the methods to be used and scope of the inquiry to be pursued. The second chapter deals with some "Distinctive Images and Motifs" that occur in the New Testament that refer to Jesus. Among the topics covered here are angelomorphic Christology, the eschatological Mosaic prophet, the Name of God and more. All these titles and attributes as applied to Jesus are shown to be early and specifically Jewish Christian in origin. And, while some of this material was absorbed into the developing orthodox Church, other aspects of it stayed almost exclusively in Jewish Christian sectarian circles where it persisted for a number of centuries after His death. Skipping to the fourth chapter, Longenecker considers Jesus' "Lordship and Its Attendant Features." Distinctions are drawn here supporting the contention that the Lordship of Jesus Christ was a congenial construct in the Gentile mission based both upon His resurrection and exaltation. In this milieu, the messiahship of Jesus was just not as relevant as among the Judeans. The appellations for Jesus considered here are the Lord, God, savior, and the word. On one hand, in the Pauline epistles to the gentiles, it is noted that Jesus Christ was used as a proper name with the Lord as an appellative. On the other hand, Peter refers to "Jesus, our Lord and Christ" in a Jewish Christian setting where "Lord" and "Christ" are both titles. But, generally in Jewish Christian circles the predominate titles for Jesus referenced messiahship.

The third chapter is titled "Messiahship and Its Implications." The concept of the messiah is first addressed comparatively by considering Essenic thought as reflected in the sectarian documents from Qumran, as developed in the Jewish Christian documents of the New Testament, and in the Simon Bar Kosibah fragments from Wadi Murrabba. Fully explored is the nationalistic, warrior "Messiah" and King who was generally expected to appear in late second temple Judaism. Then the very different messiahship of Jesus is described. A strong case is made that among His early followers in Palestine the consciousness of His messiahship was directly a result of their acceptance of His resurrection and post resurrectional teachings. Next, careful attention is paid to the displacement of the "Son of Man" as a title. While it may have been an exceedingly useful self designation for Jesus in His ministry, its lack of usefulness in the Jewish mission as an appelative led to its early subordination. Other messianic motifs considered are the Son of God, God's Salvation, the suffering servant, Davidic kingship, and Jesus as the perfected high priest. Each of these is well developed and analyzed and deserves further discussion. However, space prohibits. Suffice it to say that this is very informative but complex material that calls for intense study and contemplation. Ultimately, and at the risk of repetition, what stands out in Longenecker's work is the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus as the primary validating factor for the revelation of His messiahship to His earliest Jewish followers.

Chapter five is a short conclusion drawing together all the materials previously explicated. It shows how in the broad context of the early Church these "strands and thoughts" coalesced so as to affirm the messiahship and exaltation of Jesus which led to His recognition as Lord, Savior and yes, Divine. Also, of interest is Longenecker's analysis of prior scholarship. His extremely cogent presentation traces the development of German scholarly thought on Christology from the nineteenth century right up to the publication of this work. The author readily acknowledges the dominance of this construct in academic discourse on the subject. This earlier paradigm still underlies much of even the most recent scholarship on the historical Jesus. Both the contemporary "Jesus Seminar" and "Jewish Jesus" schools owe deep intellectual debts to post enlightenment German thought. And, that debt is rarely even acknowledged. Nor is scholarship such as presented in this book often engaged by those offering differing views. Interpretations such as developed in this work are largely dismissed cavalierly as "evangelical apologetics." Once again, the shameful balkanization of the study of Christian origins into competing ideological camps comes into stark relief. Whether one disagrees with Longenecker or not, this is valuable scholarship that deserves to be confronted. Merely, accepting the thoughts of Johannes Weiss and Albert Schweitzer as refined by Rudolph Bultmann and his followers as "the received truth" is counterproductive to disciplinary progress. And, I think it is also highly polemic and susceptible to the charge of being agenda driven.


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