Jesus' Attitude towards the Law: A Study of the Gospels

Jesus' Attitude towards the Law: A Study of the Gospels

Jesus' Attitude towards the Law: A Study of the Gospels

Jesus' Attitude towards the Law: A Study of the Gospels


"This book provides a critical reassessment and fresh analysis of Jesus' attitude towards the Law as portrayed in each of the canonical Gospels, Q, Thomas, and the apocryphal Gospels. Representing William Loader's definitive work on the subject, this comprehensive study presents a clearer picture of Jesus and his message." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


In the present study I am concerned with Jesus' attitude towards Torah as it is presented in the gospels. The aim is not to homogenise disparate material into a single picture, but to consider the various ways in which each individual gospel depicts this attitude. This aim belongs within a broader interest which includes the traditions which lie behind the gospels and, ultimately, what we can retrieve about the attitude of the historical Jesus himself. But these are not the subject of the present investigation. Its focus is on the gospels themselves. Each portrays, directly or indirectly, an image of Jesus' attitude towards Torah.

I have chosen to include within my consideration, not only the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but also the hypothetical document Q, as reconstructed by the SAL International Q Project, the Coptic Gospel of Thomas and fragments of Gospels or significant additional material relevant to the theme found in some Gospel manuscripts (notably Luke 6:5D and John 7:53 — 8:11). In this I assume that both Q and Mark were sources for Matthew and Luke.

In using the word, attitude, in this investigation, I am referring to an assessment of the tendencies reflected in the received material. This is far from a reconstruction of the inner attitude of the historical Jesus or of the mind of a tradition bearer or even that of an evangelist about such an attitude. Such inner thoughts are not available to the historian and difficult enough to assess even during someone's lifetime. This study must operate within the limitations which are inevitable for the historian. It will seek, therefore, to investigate only the attitude reflected in the preserved material. Nevertheless I shall assume some coherence between what an author writes and what the author intends and consequently I ask the reader's indulgence that, to avoid clumsy qualifications, I resort to the shorthand of speaking, for example, of Matthew's attitude or the attitude of Matthew's Jesus.

Torah may be defined as the Law of Moses, preserved in the Pentateuch.

J. M. Robinson et al., “The International Q Project,” JBL 109 (1990), pp. 499–501;
110 (1991), pp. 494–498; 111 (1992), pp. 500–508; 112 (1993), pp. 500–506; 113 (1994),
pp. 495–500; 114 (1995), pp. 475–485.

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