Rabbi Jesus

Back in the days just before Don Cupitt took leave of God, he produced once of his best books in my opinion. This was before his series that included Taking Leave of God by SCM Press (1980) and continues on with his changes of view to this day. It was The Debate about Christ by SCM Press (1979), and in there is every angle on Jesus about which you can think.

Page 74 starts with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing when giving arms, and parallels the Talmud. As Cupitt says, almost all the teaching of Jesus is paralleled in the Talmud in this way. What is called the Sermon on the Mount is standard Jewish ethics. So to page 75 and Cupitt is saying he is a figure as much in common with modern Jews as modern Christians. He lived his life within Judaism, and no evidence at all that he intended to start a new religion. There is the Jewishness of Jesus then, and later scholars focussed on the Jewishness of Paul. So as Cupitt points out, a large part of Christianity sets itself up against its own "monstrous caricature" of Judaism.

He points out the "all too familar" false antitheses:

The argument goes on about worshippers and the stumbling blocks of incarnation and messiahship (they are different), Cupitt in his conclusion about the closeness of the faiths points out that Jesus' message and hope are wholly Jewish.

So Rabbi Jesus, as my late ex-Anglo Catholic Unitarian minister friend used to call him, is teacher Jesus, and would have been quite like the other rabbis or teachers. The false opposites are indeed false.

The historical detail about who Jesus annoyed and how he was punished is just not there. I don't suppose that his arrest and killing was anything special at the time.


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful

Based on a posting to Surefish.co.uk