Gunther Bornkamm:

“Jesus belongs to this world. Yet in the midst of it he is of unmistakable otherness. This is the secret of his influence and his rejection. Faith has given manifold expression to this secret. But even he who, prior to any interpretation, keeps his eyes fixed upon the historical appearance of Jesus, upon the manner of his words and works, even he meets with this his insoluble mystery.”

from Jesus of Nazareth

Richard Horsley:

“From the viewpoint of the rulers the crucifixion of Jesus was not a mistake. The charges brought against him, however apologetically handled by the gospel writers, were in effect true. He had definitely been stirring up the people. Herod Antipas was reportedly already hostile to Jesus, perhaps even plotting his arrest, simply because of the threatening effects of his healing activity; and, as can be seen in Jesus’ insistence on local social-economic cooperation, his practice was far more comprehensive in social renewal than a few healing miracles. Jesus had almost certainly threatened the Temple … It is unclear just how explicitly Jesus claimed to be or was acclaimed as a king; but from the viewpoint of the rulers, he clearly was a dangerous popular leader.”

from Jesus and the Spiral of Violence

E.P. Sanders:

“Jesus does not ‘fit’ into Judaism as its moral and spiritual antithesis (as some polemical passages have led some to think). There was, rather, a firm context of agreement, and within that context there was conflict. Many people were dissatisfied with the accommodation with Rome, and this dissatisfaction—doubtless mixed with other frustrations—led to what [Gerd] Theissen has aptly called ‘renewal movements.’ These took various forms, and there is no single and unified ‘type,’ but Jesus fits into this general context. He differed from others … in part because, it seems, he relied on the work of his great predecessor, John the Baptist … Many repented, and hopes for the kingdom were aroused. But the kingdom did not come. Jesus pushed ahead by initiating the gospel that the wicked would be included in the kingdom, a message which was accompanied by healings and exorcisms. The great symbolic acts of his life show that he stayed within the general framework of Jewish restoration eschatology.”

from Jesus and Judaism

Geza Vermes:

“It would appear … that the logical inference must be that the person of Jesus is to be seen as part of first-century charismatic Judaism and as the paramount example of the early Hasidim or Devout. It may have been their charity and loving-kindness that inspired the affection felt for these men, but it was through their ‘miracles’ that they made their strongest impact.”

from Jesus the Jew

Burton Mack:

“Cynics stood on the edges of society reminding conventional folk of their foolishness. The only program they had to suggest was to join them in their unconventional way of life. But the wellspring for the entire venture was a preoccupation with the question of society and foundations … Jesus’ use of parables, aphorisms, and clever rejoinders is very similar to the Cynics’ way with words. Many of his themes are familiar Cynic themes. And his style of social criticism, diffident and vague, also agrees with the typical Cynic stance … Jesus’ wisdom incorporated the pungent invitation to insight and the daring to be different that characterized the Cynic approach to life.”

from A Myth of Innocence

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza:

“In the ministry of Jesus, God is experienced as all-inclusive love, letting the sun shine and the rain fall equally on the righteous and on sinners (Matthew 5:45). This God is a God of graciousness and goodness who accepts everyone and brings about justice and well-being for everyone without exception. The creator God accepts all members of Israel, and especially the impoverished, the crippled, the outcast, the sinners and prostitutes.”

from In Memory of Her

Bruce Malina:

“Jesus’ career played out in the Roman Empire. In the eastern Mediterranean, Roman power shared by local elites made cruelty and extortion part of daily living. For the non-elite people of Israel, the collapse of elite Israelite patronage appeared as veritable betrayal and disloyalty on the part of the aristocratic best families on whose behalf the political economy and political religion functioned. Rescue from this situation could only occur with the God of Israel taking control of the country and restoring divine patronage in face of the political perfidy that filled the land. Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God was, indeed, his social gospel.”

from The Social Gospel of Jesus

Marcus Borg:

“We have tended to assume that, because Jesus proclaimed the end of the world, he was therefore not interested in questions pertaining to a continuing social and historical order. But if we see Jesus non-eschatologically, then those questions return as significant questions. The movement which Jesus began will be seen not as an end-of-the-world movement unconcerned with culture, but as a “contrast society” or “alternative community,” a community seeking to live in history under the kingship of God.”

from Jesus and Contemporary Scholarship

John Dominic Crossan:

“The historical Jesus was, then, a peasant Jewish Cynic. His peasant village was close enough to a Greco-Roman city like Sepphoris that sight and knowledge of Cynicism was neither inexplicable nor unlikely. But his work was among the farms and villages of Lower Galilee. His strategy, implicitly for himself and explicitly for his followers, was the combination of free healing and common eating, a religious and economic egalitarianism that negated alike and at once the hierarchical and patronal normalcies of Jewish religion and Roman power. And, lest he himself be interpreted as simply the new broker of a new God, he moved on constantly, settling down neither at Nazareth nor Capernaum. He was neither broker nor mediator but, somewhat paradoxically, the announcer that neither should exist between humanity and divinity or between humanity and itself. Miracle and parable, healing and eating were calculated to force individuals into unmediated physical and spiritual contact with God and unmediated physical and spiritual contact with one another. He announced, in other words, the brokerless kingdom of God.”

from The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant

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