An Overall Picture of Jesus' Teaching

Anna Wierzbicka

in What Did Jesus Mean?

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780195137330
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199867905 | DOI:
An Overall Picture of Jesus' Teaching

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This chapter emphasizes the originality of Jesus’ ethical teaching, obscured by the use of complex analytical terms (such as nonviolence, nonretaliation, compassion, kindness, tolerance, hypocrisy, anger, etc.) and brought to light by the use of more fine‐grained analytical tools such as GOOD and BAD KNOW, THINK, and WANT, and the other simple and universal human concepts. It shows that the apparent parallels in earlier religious lore – Jewish, Greco‐Roman, Hindu, Confucian, Buddhist, and so on – are often illusory and conceal profound conceptual differences. It argues that the vital matters of Christian‐Jewish dialogue are not well served by attempts to play down the distinctive features of Jesus’ teaching. It concurs with the fourth‐century Syrian biblical scholar, St. Efrem, who affirmed the “the smallest words of Christ contain immense treasures,” and it claims that the depth and originality of Jesus’ ethical teaching can be better revealed by means of simple and universal human concepts, than by the use of the technical language of traditional theology and exegesis.

Keywords: apparent parallels; Christian‐Jewish dialogue; distinctive features of Jesus’ teaching; technical language of traditional theology; the originality of Jesus’ ethical teaching

Chapter.  1442 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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