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The Trouble with the Inclusive Jesus

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

In the long-standing debate between universalist and particularist interpretations of Jesus, recent years have witnessed the relentless rise of the idea that his was a socially radical and subversive gospel ahead of its time, fully in keeping with contemporary cultural agendas of “inclusion” or “inclusiveness”. The present study attempts to contextualize this “inclusive Jesus” within New Testament studies by means of three angles of approach: (1) recent work on the “inclusive”ethics of Jesus, (2) Jacob Neusner’s critique of New Testament scholarship on Jewish particularism and Christian universalism, and (3) the reception in current debate of Joachim Jeremias’ interpretation of Jesus’ view of Gentiles. In view of the overwhelming evidence that Jesus was “inclusive” as well as “exclusive” in both theology and praxis, Concluding Observations stress the location of this problem within a wider understanding of the biblical view of Election, and identify the Israelite particularity of Jesus as essential to his mission on behalf of Israel as well as the nations.

Affiliations: 1: University of Oxford, Email:


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