Fr Brian Boyle
It is universally recognised that the words and images used by the Gospel Writers to present Jesus are the words and images of the writings of the Older Testament. Jesus was, of course, a Jew, as were nearly all the authors of the Newer Testament. One of the aims of the Gospel Writers in portraying Jesus as they did was to attract their Jewish brothers and sisters to look again at Jesus. To most of them Jesus was someone who was condemned by the Jewish leadership because of his being unfaithful to God’s revealed will as expressed in the Torah. Those Jews who chose to be disciples of Jesus wanted their coreligionists to look more deeply at Jesus’ person, at his words and actions, and to see him as the very one who got to the heart of the covenant and the promise and who brought the revelation of the Older Testament to its expected completion. This explains why they were at pains to point out the many connections between Jesus and the Law, the Prophets and the Writings of the sacred tradition of Israel.
It follows that to read the Newer Testament we need to be acquainted with its cultural (religious) context, and therefore with the sacred writings of the Older Testament. Apart from the many explicit references to them, the Gospel portraits are rich with allusions to the stories and the rituals in which the religion of Israel is expressed. Peter Malone’s focus throughout is precisely on the connections between the portrait of Jesus and the sacred writings that played such a significant part in forming Jesus’ spiritual landscape. A glance at the contents reveals the thoroughness of his treatment. He covers familiar ground to those who know the gospels, but he takes us on an enriching journey as he explores the literature upon which the Gospel Writers drew in their portrayal of Jesus. I trust you will enjoy the journey as much as I did.
Michael Fallon MSC