Amazon Book Description
- The author's aim is to help thinking lay persons and people preparing sermons to apply NT ethics within a modern culture, while still remaining faithful to the text - by taking into account the ancient culture. This is high quality scholarship at a very accessible level.
- Over the centuries Jesus's teaching on ethical matters has often become muted and distorted. This book sets the matter straight. Here are 30 areas of ethical debate: in each context Jesus offered insights which would have left his contemporaries agape.
- The Revd Dr David Instone-Brewer is Senior Research Fellow and Technical Officer at Tyndale House, Cambridge. A Baptist minister, his hobby is computer programming. A rabbinic scholar, he is author of many academic and popular articles, and of 'Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities', published by Paternoster.
- David Instone-Brewer unravels history to discover what has been lost over the centuries - what Jesus’ contemporaries really thought about him and his teaching.
- Jesus scandalized both friends and enemies. Topics covered include:
- His parentage and accusations of alcohol abuse and fraudulent miracles
- The dubious status of his followers - poorly educated, ex-prostitutes and the certifiably mad
- His anti-religious teaching on temple practices, eternal torment, easy divorces and judgment in this life
- His thoughts of suicide, shameful execution and impossible resurrection
- Faithful to the biblical text, this carefully researched book can be read as a whole or as stand-alone chapters. Useful for house groups and as discussion starters.
- "Applied theology at its best - a scholar painstakingly working to understand the thought-world of the first century New Testament, and a pastor painstakingly applying its message to a whole host of twenty-first century problems. Written in an accessible, engaging and appropriately humorous style... you will be illumined, challenged and immensely helped. Highly recommended!”
→ Dr Steve Brady, Principal, Moorlands College, Christchurch
- ‘A fresh and intriguing approach to the figure of Jesus in the Gospels. It is widely recognized that Jesus scandalized some of his contemporaries, especially the religious elite, but Instone-Brewer takes this idea much further. He draws on his extensive knowledge of rabbinic literature to show us in detail how much of Jesus behaviour and teaching must have appeared shocking. But Instone-Brewer wears his learning lightly. His lively style and the parallels he draws with our own society will appeal to a wide range of readers.’
→ Professor Richard Bauckham, FBA, FRSE
- “A thought-provoking book packed with background material that is both well-researched and well written. It brings new colours to the Gospels and helps explain the scandalous teaching and behaviour of Jesus. Read it and see why the gospel is called good news.”
→ Ian Coffey, Author and Teacher
- 'Most unusual insights, alongside a popular style of writing—he has opened my mind and touched my heart, making scripture and truth come alive. A must read for those who want to be on the cutting edge of vital 21st century issues. ”
→ Gerald Coates, Founder of Pioneer, speaker, author and broadcaster
- Dr David Instone-Brewer is a Senior Research Fellow at Tyndale House, Cambridge, a Baptist minister and a biblical scholar. In addition to his academic books and papers, he is the author of popular articles and books including
Divorce and Remarriage in the Church.
Note: Any comments I may have appear after the Contents & Introduction
Acknowledgments – 7
Introduction – 9
Why Look for Scandals? – 11
- Part 1: Scandals in Jesus’ Life
- Illegitimate Birth – 16
- Ineligible Bachelor – 22
- Fraudulent Miracles – 27
- Bad Table Manners – 33
- Alcohol Abuse – 38
- Disruptive Worship – 43
- Exposing Temple Scams – 49
- Supplanting Passover – 54
- Contemplating Suicide – 60
- Censored Arrest Warrant – 65
- Shameful Execution – 71
- Embarrassing Resurrection – 76
- Part 2: Scandals Among Jesus’ Friends
- Mary Magdalene – 82
- Judas Iscariot – 88
- Second-rate Disciples – 93
- The Unchosen – 102
- The Cursed – 106
- Prostitutes – 111
- Part 3: Scandals in Jesus’ Teaching
Further Reading – 185
- Child Abuse – 118
- Hypocrisy – 122
- Polygamy – 126
- No-fault Divorce – 132
- Marital Abuse – 140
- Unfair Loans – 147
- Oaths and Curses – 153
- Bitterness and Hatred – 158
- Good and Bad Luck – 163
- God-sent Disasters – 168
- Unforgivable Blasphemy – 173
- Eternal Torment – 178
Index – 187
- I work at Tyndale House, a research institute in Cambridge which specializes in biblical studies. A huge number of scholars from all over the world come here for short or long visits, so I’m forever hearing the latest discoveries and theories, and I’m surrounded by all the books and facilities I need to research them further.
- Some of these coffee-break-length chapters started life as articles in Christianity magazine1 and I have added many others in a similar style. During the research and writing process I have been at different times annoyed, amazed, dismayed, delighted - and always surprised.
- My personal presuppositions are that Jesus is who he claimed to be in the Gospels, and that these accounts represent what actually happened. But, of course, many people, including some of my academic colleagues, have different conclusions, so often I address more sceptical viewpoints.
- To understand Jesus we have to know something about Jews of the time, and to understand the Gospels it helps a great deal if we read them with the mindset of a first-century Jew or Gentile - the people for whom they were written. My specialist area of research is early rabbinic Judaism, but this book also delves into other forms of Judaism such as that of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and into Roman and Greek culture. When we look at the Gospels through the eyes of someone from these cultures, they appear very different - problems in understanding the text are often solved and unexpected details take us unawares.
- This book may challenge many traditional interpretations, but its aim is to find a foundation for historical facts about Jesus. Surprisingly, as the first chapter shows, scandals are a good place to look.
- Illegitimate Birth
- I’ve written a booklet on the Virgin Birth: See "Todman (Theo) - The Virgin Birth".
- This article makes some reasonable points. It notes that it’s possible that Jesus was naturally illegitimate but claims that Mary and Joseph wouldn’t have invented such a fantastical tale if alternatives – rape by a Roman soldier or pre-marital sex – were available. True, but there’s no evidence that they – rather than later evangelists – told any such story, true or false.
- The point that ‘Jesus son of Mary’ (in Mark 6:3, rather than ‘Joshua bar Joseph’) would have been an enormous insult is well made.
- However, the story – characteristic of sermons – that snipers managed to flush out Iraqi soldiers by casting generic aspersions on their mothers (allegedly showing how insulting the situation was) reads like an urban myth. No reference is given.
- There are some interesting interpretations of – what is taken to be – banter from the crowd in John 8:18+: with reference to The Father who has sent Jesus – as though the question ‘Where is your father?’ is a sarcastic allusion to illegitimacy (but wouldn’t the question be ‘Who is your father?’). "Levine (Amy-Jill) & Brettler (Marc Zvi), Eds. - The Jewish Annotated New Testament" doesn’t make any connections to illegitimacy here or in Mark.
- We’re referred to "Klausner (Joseph), Danby (Herbert) - Jesus of Nazareth: His Life, Times, and Teaching" (a book I’d forgotten I’d got) for the history of the charge that Jesus was ‘son of Pandera’. See also:-
→ Jesus son of Pantera, though the ideas therein are rebuffed in
→ Wikipedia: Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera.
→ Wikipedia: Toledot Yeshu
→ "Foote (G.W.) & Wheeler (J.M.), Eds. - The Jewish Life of Christ being the Sepher Toldoth Jeshu or Book of the Generation of Jesus".
- In the Qur’an, Jesus is always designated ‘Jesus son of Mary’, but not in a pejorative way. Mary is held in high regard. There’s also a verse (67:12, and see also 3:33) that appears to refer to the Virgin Birth (involving Allah’s Spirit, but not Allah himself). See also:-
→ "Ata ur-Rahim (Muhammad) - Jesus: A Prophet of Islam".
- … To be continued!
In-Page Footnotes ("Instone-Brewer (David) - The Jesus Scandals: Why He Shocked His Contemporaries (And Still Shocks Today)")
- See Premier Christianity Magazine.
- I had a quick look, but while there are around 100 of the author’s articles up there – and many of them look interesting – I couldn’t see any from this book.
- Not all the articles appear on line (yet).
Monarch Books; New edition (17 Feb. 2012). Paperback.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)