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xiv + 461 pp.

£60 / $95 / €70
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£25 / $35 / €29.50

The Bad Jesus
The Ethics of New Testament Ethics
Hector Avalos

Did Jesus ever do anything wrong? Judging by the vast majority of books on New Testament ethics, the answer is a resounding No. Writers on New Testament ethics generally view Jesus as the paradigm of human standards and behaviour. But since the historical Jesus was a human being, must he not have had flaws, like everyone else?

The notion of a flawless human Jesus is a paradoxical oddity in New Testament ethics. According to Avalos, it shows that New Testament ethics is still primarily an apologetic enterprise despite its claim to rest on critical and historical scholarship.

The Bad Jesus is a powerful and challenging study, presenting detailed case studies of fundamental ethical principles enunciated or practised by Jesus but antithetical to what would be widely deemed ‘acceptable’ or ‘good’ today. Such topics include Jesus’ supposedly innovative teachings on love, along with his views on hate, violence, imperialism, animal rights, environmental ethics, Judaism, women, disabled persons and biblical hermeneutics.

After closely examining arguments offered by those unwilling to find any fault with the Jesus depicted in the Gospels, Avalos concludes that current treatments of New Testament ethics are permeated by a religiocentric, ethnocentric and imperialistic orientation. But if it is to be a credible historical and critical discipline in modern academia, New Testament ethics needs to discover both a Good and a Bad Jesus.

Hector Avalos is Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Iowa State University, Ames, IA.

Series: Bible in the Modern World, 68
978-1-909697-73-7 hardback / 978-1-909697-79-9 paperback
Publication April 2015

1. Introduction
   Basic Elements of the Argument

2. The Unloving Jesus: What’s New Is Old
   Loving the Enemy in the Ancient Near East
   Love Can Entail Violence
   The Golden Rule: Love as Tactical
   The Parochialism of New Testament Ethics

3. The Hateful Jesus: Luke 14.26
   Jesus Commands Hate
   Expressing Preference
   Hate as a Motive for Divorce
   The Statistics of Hate and Love
   The Semantic Logic of Love and Hate

4. The Violent Jesus
   Matthew 10.34-37: Jesus’ Violent Purpose
   Matthew 5.38-42: Don’t Victimize Me, Please
   Matthew. 26.48-56: Non-Interference with Planned Violence
   John 2.15: Whipping up Pacifism
   Acts 9: Jesus Assaults Saul

5. The Suicidal Jesus: The Violent Atonement
   Jesus as a Willing Sacrificial Victim
   Mark 10.45: Self-Sacrifice as a Ransom
   Sacrifice as Service: Transformation or Denial?
   2 Corinthians 5.18: Anselm Unrefuted
   René Girard: Sacrificing Apologetics

6. The Imperialist Jesus: We’re All God’s Slaves
   Rethinking ‘Anti-Imperialism’
   Selective Anti-Imperialism
   The Benign Rhetoric of Imperialism
   Christ as Emperor
   The Kingdom of God as an Empire

7. The Anti-Jewish Jesus: Socio-Rhetorical Criticism as Apologetics
   Abuse Me, Please: Luke T. Johnson’s Apologetics
   When is Anti-Judaism not Anti-Judaism?
   When Did Christian Anti-Judaism Begin?

8. The Uneconomic Jesus as Enemy of the Poor
   Jesus as Radical Egalitarian
   The Fragrance of Poverty
   Sermon on the Mount of Debts and Merits

9. The Misogynistic Jesus: Christian Feminism as Male Ancestor Worship
   Mark 7//Matthew 15: The Misogynistic Jesus
   Mark 10//Matthew 19: Divorcing Equality
   The Womanless Twelve Apostles
   The Last Supper: Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner
   The Egalitarian Golden Age under Jesus

10. The Anti-Disabled Jesus: Less than Fully Human
   Disability Studies
   John 5 and 9: Redeeming Jesus
   The Ethics of Punctuation
   Paralyzed by Sin

11. The Magically Anti-Medical Jesus
   Miracles, Not Magic?
   The Naturalistic Jesus
   Psychosomatic Ethics

12. The Eco-Hostile Jesus
   Mark 5: Animal Rights and Deviled Ham
   Luke 22 and Matthew 8: Sacrificing Animal Rights
   Matthew 21: Fig-uratively Speaking
   Mark 13: Eschatological Eco-Destruction

13. The Anti-Biblical Jesus: Missed Interpretations
   Mel and Jesus: The Hypocrisy of New Testament Ethics
   Mark 2:23-28: Jesus as Biblically Illiterate
   Matthew 19: Jesus Adds his Own Twist on Divorce
   Isaiah 6:9-10: Integrating Extrabiblical Materials

14. Conclusion
   The Ethics of New Testament Ethics