Jews have sometimes been reluctant to claim Jesus as one of their own; Christians have often been reluctant to acknowledge the degree to which Jesus' message and mission were at home amidst, and shaped by, the Judaism(s) of the Second Temple Period.
In The Jewish Teachers of Jesus, James, and Jude David deSilva introduces readers to the ancient Jewish writings known as the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and examines their formative impact on the teachings and mission of Jesus and his half-brothers, James and Jude. Knowledge of this literature, deSilva argues, helps to bridge the perceived gap between Jesus and Judaism when Judaism is understood only in terms of the Hebrew Bible (or ''Old Testament''), and not as a living, growing body of faith and practice.
Where our understanding of early Judaism is limited to the religion reflected in the Hebrew Bible, Jesus will appear more as an outsider speaking ''against'' Judaism and introducing more that is novel. Where our understanding of early Judaism is also informed by the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, we will see Jesus and his half-brothers speaking and interacting more fully within Judaism. By engaging critical issues in this comparative study, deSilva produces a portrait of Jesus that is fully at home in Roman Judea and Galilee, and perhaps an explanation for why these extra-biblical Jewish texts continued to be preserved in Christian circles.
David A. deSilva is Trustees' Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary.
This volume is vintage deSilva; well written, carefully researched, demonstrating mastery of primary and secondary literature, appropriately cautious yet not affraid to press on with assumptions that may require reconsideration... Readers will come away well informed and inclined toward a greater appreciation of the literary and historical context of Jesus and his brothers. This book is highly recommended for its careful and meticulous attention to points of commonality and differences between the teachings of the NT and selected Jewish texts.
-Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
In this fascinating volume, David deSilva brings key Jewish writings into dialogue with the teachings of Jesus and his two brothers, James and Jude. The result is valuable historically and invigorating theologically. Here is an important reminder that, as Jesus articulated his message, and as James and Jude instructed the faithful, they participated in a world already fertile with reflection on God's ways.
-Joel B. Green,
Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary
David deSilva's The Jewish Teachers of Jesus, James, and Jude is brilliantly conceived. For a number of reasons interpreters have not investigated at length the Jewish 'teachers' whose ideas contributed to the distinct message of Jesus of Nazareth and his brothers James and Jude. This neglect has been addressed by deSilva, whose expertise in the Jewish intertestamental literature qualifies him for this important task. What results is a book that demonstrates the importance of a number of Jewish works not well known to the reading public, including Jews and Christians, for understanding the theology of Jesus and his brothers. Readers will gain a whole new appreciation for the world in which the founders of the Christian movement were nurtured.
-Craig A. Evans,
Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia, Canada
Many today will be excited about David deSilva's attempt to correct the impression held by too many Christians that Jesus was not significantly influenced by Jews contemporaneous with him. David deSilva also brings into perspective the thoughts in Jude and James (Jesus' younger half-brothers); these two important witnesses to first-century teaching are too often marginalized as 'minor epistles.' With engaging clarity deSilva shows that Jesus did not speak against Judaism but within it. This book is a major corrective to approaches to the first century with a myopic focus on Paul.
-James H. Charlesworth,
George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Princeton Theological Seminary