The Bible and Critical Theory, Vol 7, No 2 (2011)

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The Multicultural Christ: Jesus the Jew and the New Perspective on Paul in an Age of Neoliberalism

James Crossley

Abstract


In a recent book I argued that the contemporary scholarly rhetoric of a ‘Jewish Jesus’ who consist-ently transcends the Judaism(s) constructed by scholarship is, in part, the product of dominant Anglo-American attitudes towards the Middle East over the past forty years and a dramatic change in perceptions of Israel and the Holocaust since 1967 (Crossley 2008). Underlying this ‘Jewish … but not that Jewish’ Jesus is, clearly, an updated form of Orientalism and related understandings of Otherness and cultural difference. What I want to do in this article is to show how other dominant and complementary discourses and historical trends have contributed to this kind of understanding of both Jesus and Paul in contemporary scholarship, particularly multiculturalism in relation to neoliberalism and postmodernity. In addition to shedding further light on the strange ‘Jesus the Jew’ rhetoric, it becomes clear that the scholarly success of the much vaunted New Perspective on Paul owes much to its cultural and ideological contexts.

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391