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Title: Did Jesus teach obedience to the law?
Author: Harrison, John Pal
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
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My thesis is, Jesus always taught people to obey the law. The importance of this thesis is demonstrated by the fact that Jesus' attitude towards the law has been a continual debate within scholarship. Scholars cannot decide which law Jesus clearly disobeyed or rejected by his teaching or actions. It is the purpose of this thesis to show that all of Jesus' teaching and actions with respect to the law in the synoptic gospels are compatible with the kind of things law abiding Jews said and did. This thesis casts doubt on the view that Jesus must have disobeyed the law because he saw the will of God as something different from the law of God. The thesis will make the following points. 1) Every pious Jew during this period believed that the will of God could not be separated and independent of the law of Moses. 2) Every Jew knew that the law and extra-biblical practices (whether Pharisaic or not) were not equally authoritative. A Jew did not have to obey extra-biblical practices in order to be law abiding. 3) The evidence of Matthew 5:17-20 suggests at the very least that Jesus believed in the eternality of the law and respected even its "least" commandments. 4) The evidence of the "Antitheses" (Mt. 5:21-48) suggests that Jesus was able to make a contrast between different sins which the law condemns. It is not a contrast between the teaching of God in the law and the teaching of Jesus. 5) The saying "Let the dead bury their dead" suggests that Jesus expected a man to forego a common custom of second burial but not the fifth commandment to honour one's parents. 6) Jesus' teaching and actions in regards to the sabbath suggest that he thought the sabbath laws should be obeyed. 7) Jesus' association with sinners does not contradict anything in the law but indicates that Jesus was willing to abandon some common safeguards in order to bring sinners to repentance. 8) Jesus' saying about what defiles a man is not an attack on obeying the purity laws. Rather, it is an attack on following some cultic laws but not following other moral laws. 9) Jesus' teaching on divorce is a criticism of divorce in general but is not an attempt to make divorce and remarriage illegal. 10) Jesus' saying on the greatest commandment shows that he believed that loving God and loving others were the two goals of obeying the law. 11) Jesus' demonstration in the Temple indicates that he supported the Temple cult but he denounced the corruption which was associated with it.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available