Yoder’s Jesus Part 1

OK, back to chapter 2 of The Politics of Jesus

Yoder has said that he is aiming to create a Messianic Ethic, which seems to be based on imitating Jesus as opposed than all the other ways that people can generate ethical systems – with or without the Bible. Chapter 2, “The Kingdom Coming”, is where Yoder states what bits of Jesus’ we should be imitating. There is validity in this approach, since “being born of a virgin” and “being the Messiah” are probably two bits of Jesus’ life that we should not be imitating. So the question is; what are the human bits of Jesus we are supposed to follow? We have (probably a bit unfairly) looked at Yoder’s Gospel, so now we look at Yoder’s Jesus.

Chapter 2 is primarily a brief overview of the book of Luke, with the occasional diversion to another Gospel that makes Yoder’s point better. The point that he is making is that Jesus had political ramifications, not just spiritual. In fact, the emphasis that Yoder puts in his survey seems to imply that Jesus’ primary ramification was political, not spiritual.

Now, I am sympathetic to Yoder’s point – Jesus’ claims and actions did indeed have major political implications, and they still do. However, I think that the way that he gets to this point is very questionable, and I suspect that it might have implications to his later development of his ethics. Yoder seems to have a dichotomy between political and spiritual – one that he probably inherited from those whom he is arguing against. They argue that Jesus is spiritual, therefore not political. Yoder them argues that Jesus is political by denying that he is spiritual (this has already been suggested in the “Yoder’s Gospel” entries). The option that he misses is that Jesus is political because he is spiritual.

To illustrate my point, we shall next consider how Yoder treats the Gospel of Luke.

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