Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Jesus and the Fundamentalism of His Day

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Jesus and the Fundamentalism of His Day

Article excerpt

Jesus and the Fundamentalism of His Day. By William Loader. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 2001. vi + 156 pp. $14.00 (paper).

William Loader makes a lucid case: the gospels and Jesus did not take up a fundamentalist orientation to Scripture. "[T]hose who insisted on keeping to the letter of its demands were to be found mostly not on the side of Jesus but among his opponents" (p. 4). In order to make that argument, Loader needs to define fundamentalism and trace the interpretative strategies involved in the gospels.

He speaks of fundamentalism as "an approach to interpreting Scripture that accepts it without question as absolute authority, leaving no room for taking into account changed circumstances or possible error" (p. 7). That attitude is contrasted with Jesus' primary concern with the will of God (pp. 27-28), Mark's willingness "to abandon scriptural commands" (p. 51), and a "hierarchy of values" favoring ethical issues in "Q" (p. 67). These findings accord with the secondary literature, and the new consensus that God's "kingdom" is a matter of his personal activity (p. 67).

The most influential of the gospels within the history of the church is a challenge because there are moments when Matthew seems to take Scripture literally, and when the problem of the Pharisees is their lack of strict righteousness, not their want of liberality (so 5:17-20). Here Loader offers an account of Jesus as both "embodiment" and "supreme interpreter" of the Torah (p. 93). The continuing validity of the law is also a theme of Luke-Acts in his analysis, although with an awareness of differing strategies of interpretation and praxis (pp. …

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