Discussions

'Jesus Christ: His Life and Teaching' - Peter van 't Riet - 2020

Commented publication: Hilarion Alfeyev (2018). Jesus Christ: His Life and Teaching. Volume One of The Beginning of the Gospel. St Vladimir's Seminary Press, Yonkers, New York.

My comments: I’ve read the introduction of the book and remarkable to me is that it nowhere seems to spend attention to the Jewish background (or even the Jewish character) of the gospels. Next I’ve searched the words ‘Jew(ish)’ and ‘midrash’ in the text, but couldn’t find them (maybe my search engine failed?). My problem is that the author reads the gospels in a traditionally Christian way as historical texts without any discussion about the possibility that they were originally written by Jewish scribes with a Jewish style of making literature using midrashic methods.
 
Studying the gospels within their original context leads to quite different interpretations of the gospel stories and could open the eyes for the scribal “discussions” about Jesus and the messianic time which the evangelists had with each other. They wrote indeed in Greek, but their way of thought was Aramaic-Jewish like that of Jesus and his early disciples. I published several books about this midrashic approach of the gospels, two of which were translated in English: 'Reading Torah, the Key to the Gospels' and 'Luke the Jew' (both are for sale at Amazon.com).
 
The problem with the New Testament is that Paul shows a quite different approach to Jesus in his real letters (the image of Paul in the Acts is mainly a midrashic transformation by Luke). Paul's own way of thought was a Hellenistic-Jewish one in which Jesus could develop to a heavenly Saviour in Hellenistic style. I wrote about this in: Paul, a Hellenistic Jew? (also for sale at Amazon.com). Paul's theology is very different from that of the gospels. The big challenge for modern Christianity is not to present Jesus as a historical person (what he definitely was), but to deal with the discord between the earthly theology of the gospels and the heavenly theology of Paul. I don’t think the present book will help us very much to solve this problem.

This is the website of Peter van 't Riet