Divine Sabbath Work
Michael H. Burer
Divine Sabbath Work
Michael H. BurerWith eight cryptic words by Jesus in John 5:17, an enigma surfaces regarding God’s activity in his ministry that is not easy for us to solve. Jesus, in defending his actions in healing the lame man at the pool of Bethzatha (Bethesda), makes a comparison that is simple enough on the surface: Jesus’ activity finds its basis in the Father’s current activity; thus, Jesus is not legally or spiritually culpable for breaking the Sabbath. What creates the enigma is the assumption that lies beneath the argument: the Father is working, and even more importantly, he is working on the Sabbath. Investigation of this assumption is the purpose of this book.
- Table of Contents
Burer contributes to the discussion surrounding Jesus’ Sabbath activity by augmenting current research on Sabbath work, which focuses primarily on rabbinic rules and interpretation of Torah. Burer tests the hypothesis that Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath are best understood in light of the concept of divine Sabbath work and that in light of this concept Jesus’ actions imply a claim to deity or a close association with God’s divine plan and work. Burer does this by searching the Hebrew Scriptures, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Philo, the Mishnah and Tosefta, the targums, the midrashim, the Palestinian Talmud, and the Babylonian Talmud in order to unearth a conceptual and cultural framework for divine Sabbath work. The results are then used in analyzing two prominent stories of Jesus’ work of healing on the Sabbath in the New Testament to prove, disprove, or modify his working hypothesis.
New Testament students and scholars will find Divine Sabbath Work to be a thought-provoking, enticing, creative approach to old questions.
Chapter 1. Introduction
Scope of the Topic of Divine Sabbath Work
Method and Content of the Study
The Need for the Study
The Limitations of the Study
Chapter 2. Defense of Sabbath Controversy as Being Historically Plausible
Assessment and Critique of Meier’s Treatment of Miracles in General
Assessment of Meier’s Treatment of Sabbath Controversy in Miracle Stories
Chapter 3. Investigation of Relevant Background Material
The Hebrew Scriptures
The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha
Mishnah and Tosefta
The Palestinian Talmud?
The Babylonian Talmud
Summary and Discussion
Chapter 4. Jesus, Sabbath Actions, and Divine Sabbath Work
The Global Question
Questions for the Global Picture
The Specific Passages
Chapter 5. Summary, Assessment, and Future Direction
Future Lines of Study