The Halakhah of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Matthew cover image

The Halakhah of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Matthew

By Phillip Sigal
Society of Biblical Literature


This is a republished edition of Sigal's pioneering work with a new preface by Eugene Fisher of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and an updating epilogue by Thomas Kazen of the Stockholm School of Theology. Sigal argues that, from a halakhic perspective, Jesus teachings on Sabbath and divorce in the Gospel of Matthew use the same methods of interpretation as those of his proto-rabbinic contemporaries. The Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew should thus be seen as a charismatic prophetic first-century proto-rabbi independent in his halakhah and frequently anticipating later rabbinic positions rather than as transcending proto-rabbinic halakhah or as an adherent of a particular school. Sigal concludes that, had it not been for the expulsion of Christian Jews from the synagogues after 90 C.E., Jesus could have been remembered as one of the rabbis of the Mishnah and that neither Christology nor halakhah were decisive for the break.

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