In this lecture, Matthew Thiessen discusses themes from his book, Jesus and the Forces of Death. Although most people acknowledge that Jesus was a first-century Jew, interpreters of the Gospels often present him as opposed to Jewish law and customs--especially when considering his numerous encounters with the ritually impure. Matthew Thiessen corrects this popular misconception by placing Jesus within the Judaism of his day. Thiessen demonstrates that the Gospel writers depict Jesus opposing ritual impurity itself, not the Jewish ritual purity system or the Jewish law. This fresh interpretation of significant passages from the Gospels shows that throughout his life, Jesus destroys forces of death and impurity while upholding the Jewish law. Professors, students, and scholars of Jesus and the New Testament will value this work.
Dr. Matthew Thiessen is an associate professor of religious studies at McMaster University. He earned his PhD in Religious Studies with a focus on the New Testament and Early Judaism at Duke University in 2010. After teaching for four years at Saint Louis University, a Jesuit university in Missouri, he returned to Canada, where he is associate professor of religious studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He is the author of three books: Contesting Conversion, which was awarded the Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise, Paul and the Gentile Problem, and Jesus and the Forces of Death. He has a popular-level book on the apostle Paul, entitled A Jewish Paul: The Messiah's Herald to the Gentiles, coming out in early 2023, which seeks to situate the apostle within and not in opposition to early Judaism. Professor Thiessen grew up in the Mennonite Brethren church and is now active in Mennonite Church Canada.
Contact Dr. John Martens, Director of the Centre for Christian Engagement