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By E. P. Sanders / Fortress Press / 1985
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This work takes up two related questions with regard to Jesus: his intention and his relationship to his contemporaries in Judaism. These questions immediately lead to two others: the reason for his death (did his intention involve an opposition to Judaism which led to death?) and the motivating force behind the rise of Christianity (did the split between the Christian movement and Judaism originate in opposition during Jesus’ lifetime?). Sanders’ earlier book Paul and Palestinian Judaism argued that Paul’s polemical writings were against the ecclesiology, not the soteriology, of Second Temple Judaism. This work follows in the same vein and argues that, while Jesus inaugurated an eschatological Jewish movement, he was not fundamentally at odds with first-century pharisaical Judaism.
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I would be surprised if Jesus and Judaism does not turn out to be the most significant book of the decade in its field.
—John Koenig, minister, Lutheran Church in America
What Sanders offers is good history—clearly stated hypotheses, expressed presuppositions, critically considered evidence, prudent and plausible conclusions . . . Jesus and Judaism is a milestone study.
—Paula Fredriksen, William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of the Appreciation of Scripture Emeritus, Boston University
The greatest value of Jesus and Judaism is that it embodies a generation’s desire to avoid exaggerations from right or left, to stop portraying Jesus as a predecessor of Martin Heidegger or Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, and to try to understand what he meant to say and accomplish.
—John P. Meier, professor of New Testament, University of Notre Dame
E.P. Sanders is emeritus arts and sciences professor of religion at Duke University. His Jesus and Judaism was winner of the 1990 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion. His volume Paul and Palestinian Judaism received the 1978 National Religious Book Award, Scholarly Book Category, from the Religious Book Review. He is also the author of Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People.