Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Rediscovering the Priesthood of Jesus
“The priestly aspect of Jesus’ teaching, largely ignored by ‘critical scholarship’ and its Protestant bent, offensive to that Christianity which wishes Jesus to be done with Jewish forms, and invisible to that Judaism which relies on the Rabbis for its vocabulary, is a network of meanings. That network, once recognized, will establish its own coordinates of significance.”
--Bruce Chilton, The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992), x.
“In general, priesthood has been marginalized in modern biblical studies. In the Old Testament the priesthood—its ordination, clothing, sacrificial and other responsibilities—is described with considerable detail; within the Pentateuch (Exodus-Numbers), in the works of the Chronicler and in other texts (e.g. Ezekiel, Zechariah 3–6, Malachi, Joel). But Old Testament scholarship has sometimes judged such material a lamentable decline in Israelite religion from the pure faith of the prophets and the Deuteronomist into a post-exilic obsession with cultic order and institutional religiosity… That antipathy has, until the postmodern resurgence of interest in metaphor, story, drama and sacrament, been validated by the modern fear of mystery, allegory and ritual (a.k.a. ‘magic’) and myth. Happily, Old Testament scholarship is now more attentive to these aspects of biblical religion and, thanks in particular to the leavening influence of Jewish members of the academy, the vital contribution of the priesthood and priestly theology for biblical religion is at last receiving the attention it deserves.”
--Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “Jesus as the High Priestly Messiah: Part 1,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 4/2 (2006): 156.