Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Joel Willitts Reviews Daniel Boyarin's The Jewish Gospels

If you're not following New Testament scholar Joel Willitts, you should be.  He's the one working with David Rudolph on Zondervan's forthcoming compendium of essays entitled Introduction to Messianic Judaism.

In his review of Daniel Boyarin's recent release, Willitts focuses in particular on Boyarin's claim that "Son of Man" is actually a divine title, derived from Daniel chapter 7.  This leads Boyarin to the surprising conclusion that

The theology of the Gospels, far from being a radical innovation within Israelite religious tradition, is a highly conservative return to the very most ancient moments within that tradition, moments that had been largely suppressed in the meantime-but not entirely . . . It follows that the ideas about God that we identify as Christian are not innovations but may be deeply connected with some of the most ancient of Israelite ideas about God (47).
Willitts has this to say:
Irrespective of the highly speculative nature of Boyarin’s argument, the claim that Daniel 7 contains both ideas,  individual and corporate, with one not outstripping the other is interesting. What’s more, the assertion that two divine beings is a thoroughly Jewish idea is extremely provocative. I have not studied the issue of the Son of Man sufficiently enough to have any definitive evaluation. However, I think Boyarin’s argument could open up new trenches for research.
Read the entire review here: The Divinity of Jesus in Early Judaism

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I won't deny that the relationship between Jesus and God the Father gives me headaches, at least when I try to tighten the screws and figure out this whole "Deity" thing. Maybe it's still too early in the morning (4:30 as I write this), but I'm not sure that either Willitts or Boyarin really answers who the Son of Man is (God, man, or collective Israel) or how "one like a son of man...came to the Ancient of Days" (Daniel 7:13) if son of man/Messiah/Jesus is an individual being, Ancient of Days/God the Father is an individual being, and both of them are God.

Perhaps I'm being too literal or just too dense.