CSP 4-Part Master Class
Jesus the Jew (Part 1 - Jesus Didn’t Have A New Testament) with Marc Michael Epstein
Reprising for the CSP audience his legendary course at Vassar College, “Something Like A Hundred Gospels And The Confused, Conflicted Life of Jesus,” Marc Michael Epstein approaches the person of Jesus in its historical context, not as God or Son of God, but as he would have been known, perceived and understood by his contemporaries. In this series, we'll unpack how this charismatic teacher and healer lived and taught. Our sources will be the four canonical and the literally hundred extracanonical Gospels not as authoritative holy scriptures, or even as a collection of historical documents, but as a group of literary documents that became holy scripture. We will also consider the historical works of the Jewish general and eventually traitor to Rome, Flavius Josephus, and later rabbinic documents to flesh out what Jesus’ world looked like, intellectually, socially and spiritually. You are invited to leave behind your pre-conceived notions of the person of Jesus and to understand him against the backdrop of the Jewish environment of Roman-occupied Judea/Palestine of the first century. How was an indigenously and intrinsically Jewish story transformed into a Graeco-Roman Christian, and, eventually, a “universal” one?
May 3, 2023
SESSION 1: Jesus Didn’t Have A New Testament
What story do the narratives with which Jesus would have been familiar tell about humanity, where it had gone astray, what needed fixing, and how that was to be accomplished?
May 10, 2023
SESSION 2: Sects and Parties
What were the major religious sects and political parties of Jesus’ time—their location, their ideology and beliefs, their relationship with each other and with the Occupation? Was Jesus affiliated with a particular group? Was it possible to be affiliated with a particular group and also disagree with them? What do later interpreters make of these disagreements and why?
May 17, 2023
SESSION 3: Here’s Spit In Your Eye
What was the role of healing, charisma, magic and what we would call psychology in the miraculous deeds of Jesus? Were Jesus’ deeds unique?
May 24, 2023
SESSION 4: Law and Love
We are told that the Pharisees of Jesus time were narrow-minded, nit-picking, and rigid. And that Jesus was all about spirituality versus law and love versus strictness. Is this true? What was Jesus’ attitude towards the Torah and Jewish law? And what was his attitude towards love of neighbor and love of God?
Sponsor: Community Scholar Program (CSP)