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Jesus Traditions

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Contents of Jesus Traditions

Addenda (8)


Addendum U


Samplings of Case Law in the Pentateuch

A sampling of case law from Exodus gives these results:

•  On freeing Hebrew slaves ... Selling daughter as a slave ... Capital crimes: murder, 1st, 2nd degree ... Kidnapping ... Cursing parent .... Injury to slave ... to pregnant woman .... Injury to slave ... Liability, if ox gores ... in case of open pit (chapter 21)
•  Restitution, various ... Seducing a virgin ... Death for sorcery ... Bestiality ... Sacrificing to a god ... Rights of strangers ... Lending (chapter 22)
•  Incorruptibility of due process ... Stray beasts ... The cause of the poor ... Rights of strangers ... Lands, fallow, 7th yr ... A kid not to be boiled in mother’s milk (chapter 23)
•  A kid not to be boiled in mother’s milk ... etc. (chapter 34)


A sampling of case law from Leviticus follows:

•  Dietary regulations (chapter 11)
•  Women, when unclean ... Circumcision, 8th day (chapter 12)
•  Eating of blood forbidden (chapter 17)
•  Nakedness ... Child sacrifice ... Homosexuality ... Bestiality (chapter 18)
•  Gleaning ... Do not oppress or rob your neighbor ... Stealing ... Cursing the deaf or putting stumbling block for blind ... Judicial probity ... Not hating brother in your heart ... No vengeance against own people ... LOVING NEIGHBOR AS SELF ... Case of intercourse with slave who is betrothed ... Not eating flesh with blood in it ... Augury and witchcraft ... Tattoos ... Not making daughter a harlot ... Sabbath ... Mediums, wizards ... Respect for the old ... Consideration for the alien ... LOVING ALIEN AS SELF ... Just weights (chapter 19)
•  Child sacrifice ... Mediums, wizards ... Death for cursing a parent ... Death for adulterous couple ... Death for incest, homosexuality, bestiality (chapter 20)
•  Basphemy ... Murder ... Damages for killing a beast ... Eye for eye (lex talionis) ... Capital punishment for murder ... One law for sojourner and native (chapter 24)
•  No lending at interest (chapter 25)
•  Vows (chapter 27)


Several samples of case law are to be found in Numbers:

  A man gathering sticks on sabbath, stoned to death (15:32-37)
  death, uncleanness (chapter 19)
•  vows (chapter 30)
•  cities of refuge .. violent crimes (chapter 35)
  marriage of heiresses (chapter 36)


A sampling of case law from Deuteronomy yields these rules:

•  Dietary regulations ... Against boiling a kid in its mother’s milk ... Tithing (chapter 14)
•  The year of release, jubilee (chapter 15)
•  Due process ... Witnesses ... Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth [lex talionis] (chapter 19)
•  In war, against some cities, males to be slaughtered, women and children taken as booty; other cities, genocide of all (chapter 20)
• Inheritance rights of children in case of a man with two wives ... A stubborn son to be stoned (chapter 21)
•  An escaped slave, not to be returned to master ... No lending upon interest, except to a foreigner (chapter 23)
•  Divorce procedures ... Gleaning (chapter 24)
•  Forty stripes, as punishment ... Levirate marriage ... Just weights (chapter 25)
•  Against misleading a blind man on the road ... Against incest ... Against slaying a neighbor in secret (chapter 27)



Addendum V


A Listing of Moral Themes in

The Letter of James


[Bold = virtues; Red = vices; Green = Reward]

  Chapter 1
Steadfastness / hupomenê ... Wisdom ... Faith ... Double-minded, unstable ... The rich, a problem ... Life, transitory ... Enduring temptation/testing, and receiving the crown of life ... Believers, brought forth by the word of truth, to be a kind of first fruits of his creatures ... Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger ... Meekness ... The implanted word, able to save your souls ... Be doers, not hearers only ... Bridling the tongue ... Pure religion is to visit orphans and widows, and keep oneself unstained from the world

  Chapter 2
Warning against the rich ... The royal law, love your neighbor as yourself ... The sin of partiality ... Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point is guilty of all of it ... Judgment under the law of liberty [!] ... Mercy ... Mercy triumphs over judgment ... Faith without works is dead ... No safety in right belief ... Abraham, justified by works, in offering Isaac ... A man is justified by works, and not by faith alone 
  Chapter 3
The danger of an unbridled tongue ... The wise and understanding: by a good life show one's works, in the meekness of wisdom ... Avoiding jealousy, ambition in your hearts; avoiding boasting, falsehood; true wisdom [from above] is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, merciful, full of good fruits ... Avoiding uncertainty or insincerity
  Chapter 4
Wars, fighting in the congregation: you desire, kill, covet ... Friendship with the world is enmity with God ... Submit to God, resist the devil ... Cleanse hands, purify hearts ... Double mind ... Humble yourselves ... Do not speak evil against others, or judge them ... Life, transitory ... Boasting ... It is evil to know the right and not do it
  Chapter 5
Against the rich ... Patience / makrothumein, until the parousia, which is at hand ... Judgment, near (presumably the ultimate sanction) ... Prophets, examples of suffering and patience ... Steadfastness of Job ... Do not swear or take an oath ... Pray, confess sins ... Bringing back one who wanders from the truth

Addendum W


Lists of Virtues and Vices


Virtues in the Letters of Paul

Galatians 5:22-23  22By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

Philippians 4:8  Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.


Vices in the Letters of Paul

1 Corinthians 6:9-10  9Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21  19Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Romans 1:26-32  26For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. 28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.


Addendum X


The Status of the Bible for Jesus and for Paul

The Bible of Jesus was of course the Jewish Bible, otherwise referred to as the Old Testament. Determining his attitude toward its authority is somewhat complicated.
   •  While the Jewish Bible was profoundly instructive and formative for Jesus, he was selective in his use of it.
   •  He is represented in the tradition as advancing beyond and even annulling provisions of the Jewish Law (click on contrasts). We observe a curious ambivalence of Matthew toward Torah, and perhaps an ambivalence of Jesus, too. Yet Jesus appears to exercise a kind of moral autonomy with respect to Torah, affirming or updating or nullifying as needed.
   •  Jesus is also represented as criticizing his scribal opponents for their morally irresponsible use of Torah (Mark 7:9-13). And he is represented as using scriptural citations against them. (In the temptation narrative, scripture is being thrown back and forth by Jesus—and by the tempter.)
   •  While certain things in his Bible are relativized, it is also true that his framing of the great (love) commandment seems to qualify as an absolute demand, and is brought front and center with quotations from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.
For Paul and the early Christians their only Bible was the Jewish Bible. Paul never did succeed in developing a coherent view of scriptural authority. On the one hand he had found that the Jewish Law (Torah) was inadequate as a way of getting right with God, and indeed posed obstacles. On the other hand, the Jewish Bible was the only Bible he had, and he was obliged to tease Christian meanings out of Abraham stories, and in effect to use Moses to show that Moses got it at least partly wrong.

Addendum Y


Apocalyptic emerged in second century B.C.E. Judaism, though writings which may be called proto-apocalyptic appeared two to four centuries earlier (Ezekiel, Zechariah 1–8, and Joel).
As a literary form and a religious outlook, apocalyptic has some or all of the following features (as in Daniel, of the Jewish Bible; and Revelation, of the New Testament):
  • It flourishes during a time of persecution, and depicts in a somewhat stereotyped fashion the period of tribulation followed by the end of history.
  • It is generally pseudonymous, claiming to be written by some authoritative figure of old. Such pseudonymity not only gives weight to the pronouncements, but also provides a measure of protection to the author.
  • It employs pre-dating (in the case of Daniel, it describes the kinds of persecution which the Jews were experiencing in the second century B.C.E. under King Antiochus IV as if they were happening some four hundred years earlier in Babylon). The effect of this device is to give the impression that contemporary events were disclosed long ago, and that everything is happening according to God’s plan. An added benefit of pre-dating is to make it possible for the work to circulate without being suppressed.
  • Apocalyptic is dualistic, in that there is a contrast between the extremes of the Present Age, under the power of evil forces, and the Age to Come, when God and the forces of good will prevail. This dualism is reflected in a well developed angelology and demonology.
  • In the apocalyptic view, God will intervene within a predictably short interval to end the present evil age and to vindicate the faithful; thus it is pessimistic about the possibilities of what God can achieve within history, and is preoccupied with the end of history as God’s solution.
  • At the end, God will judge the world, with rewards for the righteous and punishment for the wicked. This system of retribution in the age to come naturally gives rise (as in Daniel 12:2) to the belief in a resurrection of the dead.
  • The characteristic literary devices include visions, symbols (especially animal symbolism), and an interest in numerology.


Revised December 4, 2003


Contents of Jesus Traditions



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