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E. P. Sanders

>      The Question of Uniqueness in the Teaching of Jesus


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E. P. Sanders
>      The Question of Uniqueness in the Teaching of Jesus

Dean Ireland’s Professor of Exegesis in the University of Oxford and Fellow of The Queen’s College

 

 

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Introduction

One of the favourite things which New Testament scholars and, probably, Christians in general say about Jesus is that he was ‘unique’. If we think historically, we know two things about the topic from the outset: no two people are alike; there is nothing new under the sun. Like all clichés, these two are true, and the hard thing is to know how to apply them. In this respect these two statements are like general moral maxims and folk wisdom: one or the other will meet every situation, but you do not know in advance which formula to apply when. I live by two maxims: nothing ventured nothing gained, and better safe than sorry. My trouble has been venturing when I should have played safe and the reverse. But one of these two maxims is always true. So it is with regard to similarity and dissimilarity among human beings. Either ‘nothing new’ will apply, or ‘no two people are alike’. They might even both apply at the same time, as clichés often do. My wife once said to me, on the same topic, ‘that’s just like a man’, and ‘only you could do something like that’.

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