19 May 2008

Lunch Dates With Prostitutes

Finishing up Paul Barnett's fresh-off-the-press second volume in his "After Jesus" series, entitled Paul: Missionary of Jesus. It is an argument for continuity between the aims of Jesus and of Paul, centering on the perspective of both to Jew/gentiles relations in the church.

There are many strengths to the book; the main one in my mind was the extremely crisp way Barnett has written, with numerous helpful summaries and clearly drawn conclusions. This could easily have been a 400 page book instead of 200, not by adding content but by writing more poorly. Here's another brief review.

Anyhow, along with the usual observations on how Jesus and Paul are in fundamental continuity of mission (David Wenham at Oxford has given this topic more attention than anyone in our time), including what to me is the key observation (that Jesus looked forward to the cross, Paul back at it; different salvation-historical situatedness), is something I had somehow never noticed:

For both Jesus and Paul, a repeated emphasis of their ministry was: with whom will we eat?

In answering this question the same way ('everyone!') they display a remarkable continuity. Jesus ate with hookers and the IRS (see this book). Paul lambasted the Rock on which Christ was building his Church simply for sitting at another table than the one with the guys with few extra ounces of flesh under their whitey-tighties (Gal 2). For both, your lunch date is a highly telling indication of your spiritual temperature and understanding of the gospel.

Jesus and Paul administer the same gospel.


Eric said...

Hi Dane - Great post! Wow, you're making me want to read all these books. Do you know Craig Blomberg's Contagious Holiness? It is reviewed at: http://www.beginningwithmoses.org/ (just do a search for the book title).

Anyway, Blomberg points out the massive difference between the extensive cleansing rituals Jews went through before eating, and how they only ate with those in the in-group - and what a big deal being excluded from the meal is. By contrast, Jesus sits down, prays, and eats with whoever - doesn't wash his hands or anything. I found it very helpful. Thanks for the great post!

Dane Ortlund said...

Fascinating. Blomberg's book was the one I linked in the last paragraph but I haven't read it so thanks for the summary. Sounds like a tremendous eyeopener to the NT. Thanks E.