A debut collection of the moral and social precepts attributed to Jesus Christ in the Bible.
Many modern-day Christians, asked to respond quickly to the question of how many commandments Jesus gave to his followers, would reach immediately for the Gospel of Matthew: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But as Wagenblatt amply demonstrates, the total number of Jesus’ New Testament pronouncements to his Apostles is much higher; a significant portion take the form of commandments on matters ranging from divorce (“What God has joined together, let no one separate”) to specific liturgical practices (the injunction to recite the Lord’s Prayer). The author identifies 40 such statements, carefully and very helpfully breaking everything down by specific Gospel and keyword; Christian textual students will find this extremely handy. That said, Wagenblatt uses a fair amount of creative license in characterizing some sayings as commandments, such as by treating warnings (such as “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me”) as explicit commands. But even so, by organizing these sayings under precise headings, such as “Good Deeds,” “Repentance,” and “Showing Mercy,” and following the thematic threads through the four Gospels, Wagenblatt creates thought-provoking juxtapositions that most readers may not have considered. Because the author offers them without gloss or interpretation, readers are tacitly encouraged to ponder them themselves. Appendices provide a reference list of passages addressing Jesus’ various miracles, among other items, and an index lists all 40 statements and their sources by chapter and verse. It all combines to create an invaluable reference work for Christian readers.
A crisp, lucid organizational tool kit for categorizing Jesus’ teachings.