Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, iii

In Yoder's third chapter, he explores 'The Implications of the Jubilee', drawing strongly upon the work of André Trocmé. The major material of this chapter launches from Luke 4:18-19, and investigates the language of debt, remission, and so forth throughout the Synoptics. Yoder makes the case that Jesus was proclaiming the Jubilee year, with its provision of a fallow year, redistribution of capital, remission of debts, and liberation of slaves.

The strength of this chapter is probably best found in the detail to socio-historical setting of the gospel materials. The language of debt found in the Lord's prayer, and the reading of the parables of Jesus, seriously suggest that Jesus had specific, practical social agendas relating to the fulfilment of the law of Moses, not in the strict legalistic adherence of the Pharisees (ie, tithing spices and studiously avoiding doing good on the Sabbath), but in the truly humanitarian and 'good'-orientation of the Torah.

To some extent, this strikes me as one of the weakest of Yoder's chapters. I confess, I haven't read Trocmé's work on the subject, but I find the full-blown case for Jubilee practice overstretched. Nonetheless, it adds considerably to the thesis that Jesus has things to say about 'social ethics', and more than simply opinions - he is practicing a new social ethic and creating a new social order in his disciples.

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