Jesus Reinvented . . . again

“… why Jesus went to the temple when lost (the priests would have looked after him) and called the temple his ‘father’s house’ - Joseph had built it.”
More on A. T. Bradford’s new book The Jesus Discovery

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tim301's picture

Interesting! Might explain why Jesus was never dismissed by the authorities as uneducated or side-lined as irrelevant. I checked this out and there is an mp3 link to a lecture the guy gave on this at www.templehouse-publishing dot com. Apparently there is a likely connection between Joseph and the construction of Herod's temple in 20BC.

Tim

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It was pretty clear from the newswire post that the writer is trying to derive naturalistic/theologically weak explanations for features of Jesus' life that Christians have understood in other ways for millennia. For example, Jesus is not talking about Joseph when He says "my father's business" or "my father's house." He is referring to God the Father.

There are probably some elements of truth in Bradford's work, though. Haven't looked at the case in detail, but it's possible that Joseph was not merely a "carpenter," but was indeed a temple artisan. Not sure the difference is as big as Bradford suggests, though. As for Jesus' education, we know he "grew" in knowledge and wisdom (Lk2.52), [edit: better example Matt.21.45-46 ] but we also know that His message came with Him from the Father (John 12.49). So there are some mysteries involved in how Jesus' humanity and deity worked with respect to His "learning" (Heb. 5:8 is really interesting on that point, too). So it's possible that He "got an education," in the sense Bradford suggests, but He also had much more than any education could have provided.

Bradford's characterization of the religious leaders' attitude toward Jesus is also way off: "Jesus is consistently addressed respectfully by the Jewish authorities, (whereas they would have despised an uneducated itinerant)." While they do seem to allow that He is a real teacher, it's clear that they do despise Him, and probably only express deference because of public pressure (see Luke 22.2, for example). I'm curious how Bradford would reconcile his reconstruction of Jesus' worldly credentials with His rejection by those of His own home town!

Quote:
Mk 6:2–3 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.

They clearly do not view Him as a "doctor."

Mike Durning's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
It was pretty clear from the newswire post that the writer is trying to derive naturalistic/theologically weak explanations for features of Jesus' life that Christians have understood in other ways for millennia. For example, Jesus is not talking about Joseph when He says "my father's business" or "my father's house." He is referring to God the Father.

Yes. Calling a building that daddy worked on "my father's house" sounds like the actions of a 5 year old. At age 12, he wouldn't have said "my father's business" with reference to the temple. A Jewish lad of that age (divine or not) would surely speak more respectfully of the temple. And the fact that Jesus continues to use "my father's house" with reference to the temple well into adulthood leaves the skeptic with a conundrum. The skeptics try to paint Jesus as just a great teacher, but nothing more. So are we to believe a great teacher spoke of "my father's house" and confused the issue of whether He was claiming divine Sonship or not? Doesn't sound like a great teacher to me -- unless (as it was) His point was divine Sonship.

tim301's picture

Actually I think the point about Jesus' sense of humour is a valid one - Jesus used plays on words as an adult (eg the clear / generous eye). so a dual meaning for 'Father's house' is a valid possibility - it would certainly have broken the tension that his parents must have been experiencing after searching for him for days. Puns were the main source of their humour, and were not seen as being disrespectful. A dual meaning still emphasises God as his Father, as his later uses of the phrase show.
The folk in Mark 6 were struggling to connect the teacher who returned to them with the boy they had known as the tekton's son. Jesus came with new teaching for which they did not have a category. Their recognition of his 'mighty wisdom' does not at all contradict the respectful title of 'Doctor' or 'Master' that Jesus received from every section of Jewish society - a synagogue ruler falls at his feet, calling him Doctor. A scribe wants to be his disciple, calling him Doctor. Hometown crowds did not recognise their own prophets, as Jesus said. Hence they are offended.
Jesus conducted rabbinic debate with the Sadduccees, who would not have conversed with a peasant. They called the ordinary Jewish worshippers an 'accursed mob' (Jn 7:49); they had no time for itinerants. Jesus is frequently addressed as 'Rabbi' and 'Doctor' - eg by Nicodemus, a Sanhedrin member who would have known exactly who the man Jesus was in his society. The mp3 at the publisher's site (templehouse-publishing dot com) makes this point.

Tim

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think that's possible (though I'm skeptical), especially in the encounter as a child. But when He rebukes everyone for turning "My Father's house" into a den of thieves, He's not kiddin' around there... and the whip ensured that anyone there who thought so got straightened out!

He did use some humor. Sometimes dark humor. Straining out gnats and swallowing camels. Blind leaders of the blind. I think some of "the people" listening to these messages got some chuckles out of those lines even as the targets grew furious.

tim301's picture

Keep in mind that at 12 he was merely months away from legal adulthood. His impact on the Doctors was huge - they clearly recognised his genius. Would they not have wanted him in their schools? As an adult he was clearly familiar with rabbinic argument. The mp3 at the publisher's site makes the point that out of 10,000 Jewish craftsmen, needing to train 1000 Jewish priests as tektons, it is likely that Joseph was numbered among them, and as a devout tekton would have had their respect - useful in training them. Someone looked after Jesus for 5 days until his parents returned, and priests had living quarters at the temple. Jesus certainly seemed very comfortable there, judging by Luke 2 and his sitting among the doctors.

Tim

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It's an interesting curiosity but not much more. We can speculate about what sort of interactions Jesus had as a youth with the religious leaders of the day, but this has little bearing on what we know about Him from the Gospels. The "discovery" is a guess and several of the implications the writer draws out are at odds with Scripture.

tim301's picture

What implications are those?

Tim

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Well, we've kind of already been over that. If we turn all the references to "My Father" into "Joseph," we move toward a Jesus who never claimed to be God's Son... though you still have a boatload of references to "the son" and "son of man" and so forth that He clearly applies to Himself. But maybe the author doesn't take it that far. I don't have the book. If you read it, perhaps you can summarize how he handles texts where he believes the "Father" is God vs. where the father would be Joseph... and where "My Father's house" is Joseph's house vs. God's house, etc. ... and why the folks of Nazareth had no idea He was a well educated doctor of theology. It's not clear from what I've seen how far the author takes his "discovery."

It's also bizarre that the writer observes

Quote:
Jesus emerges as a senior ordained Jewish minister, altering our understanding of what was said to him. He therefore fulfils the messianic prediction of 'The Prophet Like Moses' (Acts 3:22) - Moses was a highly educated official figure who, like Jesus, emerged from within society's place of learning.

It's true Moses was well educated but this has never had anything to do with greatness as a prophet. Prophecy is revealed by God to the prophet directly. All we need to establish Jesus' fulfillment of the "prophet like Moses" title is Matthew 24! (Or the three or four times He specifically told the disciples He was going to be taken in Jerusalem, crucified and then rise again.) He easily earned that title dozens of times over.

...so I'm really curious what this writer's overall Christology is.

tim301's picture

Right, I see your point. Well I just got done reading the book and that is the only 'dual meaning' reference - the one spoken to Mary and Joseph, which the writer says is Jewish humour.
The 'prophet like Moses' can either mean a prophet (like Moses or equally well like Isaiah or Elijah etc), or it can mean someone who was like the person of Moses. I haven't studied this in depth, but my understanding is that scholars go with the second, ie the Messiah would somehow be similar to Moses in their personhood / personal identity, and not just have a mission like Moses' mission. If that is so then an uneducated Jesus doesn't match up in the same way, whereas an educated Jesus would. Having read the book it is clear that the author is an evangelical Christian. What I got out of the book was a better understanding of how Herod's temple functioned, how it got built and the possible connection to Joseph prior to his betrothal to Mary. Also the links on his mother's side to the authorities through Zechariah John the Baptist's father, who was a senior priest. Jesus interacted very easily with both the Pharisees and the Sadducess, something the author says would not have happened if he was in fact an uneducated person, whom they would have despised.
In Mark 6 the folk in Nazareth don't comment on who Jesus is or isn't, they just express amazement at Jesus' wisdom + miracles, and that he is not the person they knew growing up - he has changed. That seems to arouse envy; they are offended + so don't believe his claims, although they say he has great wisdom. That seems to be because Jesus' wisdom was so much greater that any they had heard before.The fact that Jesus was able to teach in their synagogue (not just read from the scroll which any adult Jewish man could do) shows that he must have had an official standing in their society.
The book has some interesting points also about first century life that help explain some of what was going on in their society that impacted life, eg Herodians, Romans, the Magi etc. So overall it is saying that Jesus was an important person in his humanity as well as his divinity, which exalts him humanly as well as honouring his divinity. It helped make sense of some points like the cleansing of the temple, the last supper, and various miracles and teachings Jesus gave, from the perspective of first century life, much of which was new to me, + I have been around for several decades!

Tim