Blind injustice : Jesus' prophetic warning against unjust judging (Matt 7:1-5)
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This dissertation seeks to provide a plausible alternative to the consensus interpretation of Jesus' "do not judge" teaching in Matt 7:1-5. While the overwhelming majority of recent interpreters understand "do not judge" (7:1) and its concurrent sayings such as "take the log out of your own eye" (7:5) to promote a non-judgmental attitude, this monograph seeks to situate this block of teaching within a Jewish second-Temple judicial setting. To this end, an overview of the judicial system during the second Temple era is provided, after which it is argued that Matt 7:1-5 is the Matthean Jesus' halakhic, midrashic comment upon the laws for just legal judging in Lev 19:15-18, 35-36 by which he prophetically criticizes unjust legal judging. Jesus' brother James takes up this teaching in Jas 2:1-13, using it to exhort Jewish Christian leaders who judge cases within Diaspora synagogues/churches. Such an alternative interpretation of Jesus' "do not judge" teaching in Matt 7:1-5 matches well other passages in Matthew which likewise speak of judicial, brotherly conflict such as 5:21-26 and 18:15-35. Some early Christian writers who quote or allude to Matt 7:1-5 reflect a judicial understanding of these verses as well, often relating Matt 7:1-5 to Lev 19:15-18, 35-36 and/or drawing parallels between Matt 7:1-5 and one or more of the NT judicial texts which, this thesis argues, is related to it (Matt 5:21-26, 18:15-35; Jas 2:1-13).
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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