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The Synoptic Gospels Set Free: Preaching without Anti-Judaism – D. Harrington

April 6, 2016

TSGSHAt the time when the various documents of the New Testament were being written, here was increasing animosity between the Jews and those Jews who followed Jesus – it isn’t correct to contrast ‘Christians’ and ‘Jews’ – those terms came later.

The trouble is that those documents were set in aspic, as it were, so when preachers talk abut the passage for the day they tend to cast all Jews in a bad light. Ultimately, this had led to anti-Semitism, whether intended or not.

Despite high-sounding and pious proclamations from the mainstream churches, very few seminaries deal with this issue, so anti-Jewish preaching continues.

This book tries to set the record straight – if only busy preachers would take time to consult it.

It was written at a time when I was doing a series of Bible studies with my local group of The Council of Christians and Jews.  We covered much of the same ground and I had as possible publisher – but this book got in first – whatever – as long as the message gets out and is read and heeded. (Mind you, our work was different because it involved ordinary Jews and Christians reflecting on and reacting to texts together.)


Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza sees Luke l0:38-42 as echoing a struggle within the early for powerful and independent women who presided over house churches, and views the praise of Mary’s passivity as a strategy on the part of Christian men to force women back into a male-dominated social context.

The system of sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple was based on the notion of the people sharing a meal with God and eating in God’s presence. As Proverbs 9 shows, meals were also occasions for dispensing and sharing wisdom. Passages like Isaiah 25:6—10 envision the future pilgrimage of all the nations to Jerusalem on the Day of the Lord as culminating in a great banquet. Passover was (and is) celebrated every year with a ritual family meal. and the Sabbath meal is a high point in the weekly rhythm of Jewish life today

The lectionary pairs Luke 17:11—19 with the Naaman story in 2 Kings 5 affirms Jesus’ identity as a prophet after the pattern of Elisha and Elijah (see Luke 4:27). That pairing reminds us that those two ninth-century prophets are far better models for understanding the Jesus of the Gospels than the “divine men” of the GrecoRoman world are

Biblical scholars sometimes refer to the transfiguration of Jesus as a christophany. The term takes up the biblical tradition of theophany, as in the manifestations of God’s glory to Moses (see Exod 3; 24; 34), Isaiah (Isa 6), and Ezekiel (Ezek 1).

Because the reading of the Passion is very long, many parishes either omit or shorten the sermon. Harrington suggests that this passage needs more attention than most because of the likelihood of anti-Judaism being evoked in the minds of its hearers. This is exacerbated by the traditional, dramatic manner of reading in which the congregation reads, in unison, the (Jewish) crowds’ words, all of which are hostile.

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