‘Jesus and the Forces of Death,’ with Dr. Matthew Thiessen

Dr. Matthew Thiessen joins Matt, Derek, and Alastair to discuss the relationship between Jesus' ministry and ritual impurity, as laid out in his book 'Jesus and the Forces of Death.'

When considering his numerous encounters with the ritually impure, many today depict Jesus as a prophet who, in his ministry, was against Jewish laws and purity rituals. However, does this telling of the gospel accounts do justice to Jesus’s handling of the impure and the dying? Dr. Matthew Thiessen joins Matt, Derek, and Alastair to discuss his work, Jesus and the Forces of Death: The Gospels’ Portrayal of Ritual Impurity within First-Century Judaism, to discuss these questions and more.

Resources mentioned:

Jesus and the Forces of Death: The Gospels’ Portayel of Ritual Impurity within First-Century Judaism by Matthew Thiessen

Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism by Jonathan Klawans

The works of Jacob Milgrom


Dr. Thiessen, how did you find yourself researching and writing about purity laws in the bible?
How should we understand the category of “purity” being distinct from “holiness” and “sin”?
How can we help illustrate “purity” as it is used in scripture so that it can more easily make sense for us today?
What is it about being “impure” that would prevent one from holiness?
How does Jesus deal with ritual impurity in the Gospels?
The ministry of John as it relates to Jesus’s confrontation with impurity
The relationship between ritual and moral impurity
How does the law of the spirit, and Paul’s categories more generally, relate to purity rituals?
The new “holy space” in light of the resurrection
Demons as a part of the forces of death
Why the elaborate rituals in purity laws?
How should these ideas shape our lives and the lives of our church communities?

Follow DerekAndrew, and Alastair for more tweet-sized brilliance. Thanks to Caleb Wait for keeping us organized. Special thanks to Tim Motte for sound editing. And thanks to The Joy Eternal for lending us their music, which everybody should download out of gratitude for their kindness.

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