Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Seemingly, nothing ever changes with every new development in Christian theology. It is well-known now that, when they first started out, Christian feminists repeated the anti-Jewish errors of the established male hierarchy. They argued that Jesus' attitude towards women was superior to anything in the Jewish culture of his time.

Due to the criticisms of scholars like Amy Jill-Levine, many Christian feminists began to acknowledge this profound mistake. Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Kwok Pui-lan, and others are making corrections. That's the good news.

But the bad news is that the fear of a historical, Jewish Jesus is still there. Even the best feminist theologians seem to be quite afraid that a Jewish Jesus will be too specific and not useful for their feminist agenda. The two I mentioned above seem to prefer the idea that the historical Jesus is not recoverable. They would rather he remain unknown. This is no different from the insistence of many male theologians that the historical Jesus cannot be rediscovered.

Obviously, this has deep roots in Christian fears that a Jewish Jesus will destroy the Christian religion. The fear is a paranoid one with no foundation in reality. I would cast just a little blame for this on Jewish scholars, feminist and otherwise. Even Jewish scholars have done a poor job explaining what is so Jewish about Jesus. It is a subject everyone avoids.

There was more to Jesus' Jewishness than a love of Hebrew scripture and the prophetic tradition. This was a rabbi in love with oral traditions, oral Torah. Very few scholars explore this. As long as everyone avoids delving into this, the fears will remain and dominate us.

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