In reading Boyarin’s article “Enoch, Ezra, and the Jewishness of ‘High Christology’”, which I quoted in part the other day, I note something that I think is somewhat misguided. Boyarin is interested in the varied beliefs of Jews during the Second Temple period to the point that he focuses a lot of attention on the “out-takes” (i.e., pseudepigraphical literature) of Judaism, to borrow his colorful expression. In the article Boyarin seems convinced that the Gospels do not base their presentation of Jesus on 1 Enoch (and he’s surely correct on that point), but that 1 Enoch and the Gospels each present an interpretation of the Danielic Son of Man passage that have striking similarities.
The point, of course, is that these two disparate traditions, which have strong similarities while remaining distinct/unique, show that Jews of the period thought along similar lines without any necessary dependence. Good and well. But it also seems to me that inherent in this type of argument is the idea that because non-Christian Jews thought similarly to Christian Jews, that somehow makes the Christian Jewish views more Jewish. In other words, had there been no similar speculation from (a) group(s) that didn’t reverence Jesus as Messiah (or divine, or whatever) then the views about Jesus presented in the NT could be written off as Gentile, much in the manner that Maurice Casey argues in From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God.
But the NT documents are without question Jewish literature and represent a strand of first century Jewish theology. Early Christology, however conceived, is Jewish through and through. It amazes me how often this point seems to be overlooked in discussions on the topic. It also amazes me that some, recognizing the Jewishness of the NT texts, attempt to deny a divine Christology in the NT on the basis of such a concept being un-Jewish as if it has decided beforehand what the Jews writing the NT were and were not allowed to think or say about Jesus. In effect, this presupposition renders the NT un-Jewish by default.