Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Effective History of Exegesis: Jesus the Gentile
The claim that Jesus was a Gentile has its foundations in supposedly neutral exegesis. I had no idea of the “foundations” of this until recently. Turns out it’s “in the text”—just like the curse that supposedly helps us identify sub-Saharan Africans and their destiny as sub-humans.In a previous post, I mentioned that Mike Bird at Euangelion provided a list of things on which to blog, including number 11, "Give us some snippets from what he's work on with his PH.D thesis." Well, this popped up in my studies. Here’s my current favorite for the exegetical position with the worst history of influence, at least for Matthew’s Gospel.

Mary, some early 20th century German scholars claimed, must be Gentile, since the other four women in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba) were such. I believe this was first argued by Seeberg, “Die Herkunft der mutter Jesu,“ Theologische Festschrift für G. N. Bonwetsch zu seinem 70 Geburstag (Leipzig, 1918). The theory found a comfortable home in German Matthean and NT scholarship, fermented in theories about the Gentile population of Galilee in 1c and the rejection of heilsgeschicte which included the Jews. Eventually it found a home in German anti-Jewish Christian scholarship and praxis, and the rest is history.

Granted Matthew 23 has been taken many horrendous places, reading Mary and Jesus as “Gentiles” really opened some doors that should have stayed closed, and it baptized participation in genocide in a ghastly manner.

Any rules for preventing yourself from heading down this path--or opening up a door for others to do so with your scholarship? How 'bout starting here: be careful when providing a novel interpretation which no one has ever before seen.


Blogger Chris Weimer said...

I'm wondering if there may be a subtle hint of me in there somewhere, as I've been promoting this theory myself, especially recently at Phil Harland's blog... If not, perhaps we should meet sometime and discuss the issue. I do live in Memphis also. Are you currently here or are you in Scotland? Here I hope - I've been eager to actually meet people here who have an academic interest in the Bible, and not merely the drones who normally walk the areas. Please let me know if you are interested.

Very best,

Chris Weimer

2:51 AM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Peter M. Head said...

Well, do you think that Matthew would categorise the four genealogical women as 'Gentiles'?

10:56 AM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger J. B. Hood said...


You're delving into my dissertation! The short answer--I can't give away too much--is yes and no. There's a version of this perspective that has not been fully articulated (suggested by 4 scholars, argued by 2) and is never discussed when the options are weighed. I'm early on in my studies and don't want to call too much attention to it, as I need something original to roll out after about 3 more years of PT research.


Do send me an email; I'm in Memphis.

11:06 AM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Chris Weimer said...

Er, what email? I don't see your email anywhere. My email address is


(Done that way to prevent spam-spiders.)

8:09 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Chris Weimer said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:24 AM, February 14, 2006  
Blogger Chris Weimer said...

Don't worry, I deleted it. You see the little trash-bins at the end of a post? That deletes the message.

3:04 PM, February 20, 2006  

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