Posted by: William | April 8, 2008

Contagious Holiness

Contagious Holiness by Craig Blomberg is the third book from the New Studies in Biblical Theology series that I’ve read. The series has proven very challenging, but equally as rewarding. This installment was no exception.

The previous two books, Adopted into God’s Family and Slave of Christ dealt with theological threads appearing all throughout the New Testament; namely the metaphors of adoption and slavery. After reading them, large portions of scripture gained a great deal of new meaning, simply because the metaphors used suddenly had more meaning. In Contagious Holiness the effect has not been as dramatic, or exciting.

Blombergs intent in writing was to explore Jesus’ meals with sinners; who was he dining with? What was the dining experience like? Most specifically, his intention was to investigate recent claims that Jesus’ mealtimes with sinners would have reflected the Hellenistic tradition of symposium. A social party or club, often characterized by excessive eating, drinking, sleeping, philosophical conversation and sometimes sexual entertainment—even orgies. If this were the case then Jesus’ meals with sinners were not only with the worst of the worst, but in the worst of the worst scenarios, and what’s more that would not demand repentance or life change.

Blomberg effectively searches the scriptures through the Old Testament, as well as non-canonical text, to investigate whether or not the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day had become Hellenized to the point of participating in symposium. From there he moves to a thorough exegesis of all synoptic gospel accounts of Jesus sharing meals with others.

Blomberg’s writing is dry, and sometimes slow, but this has been characteristic of this series thus far, and is worth putting up with.

While I didn’t leave this book with a new perspective on scripture, I did leave with a more complete perspective on scripture—more specifically on Jesus’ ministry. I wouldn’t recommend this book to an average reader, but to someone wishing to delve more deeply into scripture, this book will be an encouragement, if you stick with it!

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