Chapter

Introduction

Anna Wierzbicka

in What Did Jesus Mean?

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780195137330
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199867905 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195137337.003.0001
Introduction

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The Introduction argues that, despite the current fashions in scholarly circles, it is possible to unambiguously determine what Jesus meant in his parables and our sayings, and to explain it in a way that is both simple and clear. The key to such an explanation lies in the use of 60 or so simple and universal human concepts, which have been identified through empirical cross‐linguistic investigations, as a shared core of all languages. These concepts include GOOD and BAD, SOMEONE and SOMETHING, KNOW, THINK, WANT, FEEL IF and BECAUSE, and 50 or so others. The chapter emphasizes the importance of Jesus’ Jewish context for the understanding of his teaching and it shows how the use of universal human concepts allows us to separate the universal content of Jesus’ teaching from its historical and cultural embedding. While the author identifies herself as a Roman Catholic, the perspective on the Gospels adopted in this chapter (and in the book as a whole) is broadly ecumenical, including Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Christian tradition, as well as the writings of Jewish scholars.

Keywords: current fashions; ecumenical perspective; empirical cross‐linguistic investigations; Jesus’ Jewish context; universal human concepts

Chapter.  10776 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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