Choose 1 topic to write an essay. Don’t restate all the time. Write your own thoughts. 800 words.
1. Jesus was both a person of his times and a figure whose teachings have obviously transcended his specific context. How did Jesus’s life and teachings better fit the first century? How do Jesus’s life and teachings seem to apply today? Which do you think better characterizes Jesus’s actual life and teachings? Is it more convincing to you that the first century Jesus resists our expectations, or that he anticipates them?
2. Jesus and the early Christians were a part of the larger Jewish context. At the same time, they also brought a number of innovations and new combinations. Compare Jesus’s life and message to that of the Pharisees, Essenes, followers of John the Baptist, Sadducees, priests, and/or the temple. How did Jesus and the early Christians fit with these other Jewish groups? How did they challenge them? Is it more convincing to you that Jesus and the early Christians were part of first century Judaism, or that they pushed to create a new religion?
3. Jesus avoided political attention for most of his life and work. Whatever he taught, he taught it skillfully and carefully enough that political figures allowed him to continue when many others were crucified. And yet, at the end, he too was crucified, but alone. Describe both the ways in which the historical Jesus avoided political confrontation and the ways in which he touched on politically sensitive ideas. Which gives us a better portrait of Jesus—the one who was politically cautious, or the rebel?
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