Monday, April 14, 2008

Jesus "Ministry"?

Should we talk of Jesus' "ministry"? Or should we talk about his vocation, his mission, his work, and his range of activities instead? The word "ministry" can obviously conjure up a very specific Christian understanding of a religious vocation which is anachronistic to import into Jesus' context. In Christian depiction Jesus is undoubtedly a servant or minister to Israel (e.g. Rom. 15.7-8), but what word should we use to describe Jesus' activities that respects the language of the Gospels to describe what Jesus was doing but at the same time fits into the religio-social sphere of Palestinian Judaism? Is a reference to Jesus' "ministry" a too Christian designation to use?


Larry said...

Fascinating questions! Jesus said the Son of Man ουκ ηλθεν διακονηθηναι αλλα διακονησαι "...and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mk 10.45,c ESV)

Is calling his works service/ministry too far from the mark?

Hmm...what was the service of Rabbis called in Second Temple Judaism?

Michael Barber said...

If Jesus did see himself as fulfilling expectations of a "new temple" and as having a Davidic-priestly role (e.g., Ps 110, also cf. 1 Enoch's interpretation of the "son of man" as both priestly and Davidic)--and that's, in part what I'm arguing in my dissertation!--than I would say that "ministry" is exactly the word to use!