WHAT WERE JESUS Al'ID THE PHARlSEES TALKING ABOUT WHEN THEY TALKED ABOUT LAW?

Abstract

Jesus' Legal Theo ry ... -A Rabbinic Readillg open with a startling claim. The increasing number of legal scholars who have begun exploring the relationship between Christianity and American law in the past several years have neglected to consider the insights of Jesus himself. "[N]otably absent from this literature," Professor Saiman writes, "is any extensive examination of Jesus, and his views about jurisprudence and legal theory. Despite the overall diversity of his writings, there is little discussion about what Je us thought about law, lawyers, legal rules and the legal order.'" What, the article asks, does Jesus' own legal theory look like? Many of Jesus' clearest pronouncements on the nature and proper use of the law come in his skirmishes with the Pharisees, the forerunners of rabbinic Judaism. It is on these exchanges, and the contrasts between Jesus' and the Pharisee's perspectives, that Jesus' Legal TileOlY focuses. As Professor Saiman points out, Jesus regularly resists the careful parsing of precedents. When the Pharisees ask why his disciples are plucking heads of grain on the Sabbath, for instance, he tells them "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'" Similarly, Jesus radically expands the concept of "neighbor" in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Pharisees and their rabbinic successors. by contrast, place much more emphasis on rhe literal terms of the law. For them, "meticulous observance of the Torah and its commandments ... reflects the highest foml of divine service.'" These tendencies, Professor aiman argues, continue to distinguish Jewish and Christian perspectives today. Rabbinic reasoning "involves the application of text and precedent to facts,''' whereas Christians tend to question wbether law i "the correct platform through which to analyze and decide important religious and social issues. It is thought to be overly

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@inproceedings{DavidWHATWJ, title={WHAT WERE JESUS Al'ID THE PHARlSEES TALKING ABOUT WHEN THEY TALKED ABOUT LAW?}, author={David and Skeel} }