Americans and the British, the old joke goes, are divided by a common language. Jews and Christians —alas, no joke —are divided by a common history. I refer not to the history of contempt, coercion and abuse that has characterized prevailing Christian attitudes toward and treatment of Jews and Judaism from the second century through (at least) the twentieth. That shameful story is well known. I have in mind, rather, the history of late Second Temple Judaism in Roman Judea, and more specifically the history of the mission and message of Jesus of Nazareth. That is the history that continues to divide Christians and Jews. But, no less, it is a history that binds them, because they share it. And when it is better understood, I am convinced, it is a history that can also unite them.Paula Fredriksen, Review of E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus in Review & Expositor 103/1 (Winter 2006): 234-236 (234).
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Divided by a common history
I am gathering together some extra bibliography at the moment to lend a hand to students on my Historical Jesus class, some of whom are writing about particular Historical Jesus scholars, and I read a highly complimentary review of Sanders by Fredriksen, which begins with this quotable passage: