Thursday, May 31, 2007

Deirdre Good on Jesus' (lack of ) family values

Religious Intelligence report on biblioblogger Deirdre Good's new book on Jesus' Family Values:

New book by Anglican scholar claims Jesus ‘had no family values’
Thursday, 31st May 2007. 4:12pm
By: Toby Cohen
AN ANGLICAN scholar has launched a new book lampooning Christian family values. Dr Deirdre Good . . . a New Testament professor at the Episcopal Church’s General Theological Seminary in New York, declared, “Jesus doesn’t have any family values” at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace today . . . .

. . . . Explaining her controversial argument, Dr Good observed that “the word family doesn’t occur in the New Testament”.

She added: “There’s nothing about family life. Nothing about the qualities of family life. It is amazing how we’ve read qualities in to the Bible.” Dr Good posits that our Victorian understanding of family values has skewed our reading of the Bible, and that closer reading of scripture reveals ‘shocking’ truths. The front cover of her book bares Matthew 10: “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” . . . .

5 comments:

Jeremy Pierce said...

This is a very strange argument. For one thing, Jesus did speak about family values. He lambasted the Pharisees for taking the money they should have been using to care for their parents and dedicating it to God with a vow so they could use it now and not have to support their parents. If the woman caught in adultery story is genuine, he did mention that what she'd been doing was sin and told her not to do it anymore. John 4 makes similar suggestions. It's true that his emphasis is often on other things, but it's very clear that he supported the traditional sexual morality of the time. He gives his mother to John to take care of her. He treats the love of the father for the prodigal son as an image of perfect, divine love, which affirms such love for wayward children.

I'm not sure at all how predicting that people will divide over him amounts to endorsing that division as if the mere division is good.

But the strangest thing about this is that she's assuming Jesus' teaching is all the Bible might say about something, as if the very strong family teaching connections in Proverbs, the Torah commands for parents to teach their children, the sexual morality throughout the Bible (but especially in the Torah and epistles), and the teachings in the epistles about how to live as believers in relationships with husbands, wives, parents, and children are totally unimportant.

Mike said...

Oy vey...

Christopher Shell said...

It is quite correct to say that Jesus's family theory was not what a first century Jew, or a 21st century liberal, or a Moral Majoritarian might expect.

But no doubt some idiot is going to try to twist this into a theory that Jesus was pro-abortion, pro-cohabitation and pro-homoseuxal practice.

Jeremy Pierce said...

It's not hard to see how he was challenging some ways people in his time conceived of the family and its relative importance compared with the things that were most important to him. But that's not the issue. The issue is whether there's any sense in which he would be considered pro-family or in favor of some of the things that sometimes fall under the title "family values". It's very clear that Good depends on selective evidence and fallacious reasoning on that score.

Deirdre said...

For another perspective on the same event, see:-

http://ayresnograces.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/05/jesus_family_va.html