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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Divine Sabbath Work
Burer, Michael H.

Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2012 pp. xii + 163. $29.50

Series Information
Bulletin for Biblical Research Supplements, 5


Description: With eight cryptic words by Jesus in John 5:17, an enigma surfaces regarding Godís activity in his ministry that is not easy for us to solve. Jesus, in defending his actions in healing the lame man at the pool of Bethzatha (Bethesda), makes a comparison that is simple enough on the surface: Jesusí activity finds its basis in the Fatherís current activity; thus, Jesus is not legally or spiritually culpable for breaking the Sabbath. What creates the enigma is the assumption that lies beneath the argument: the Father is working, and even more importantly, he is working on the Sabbath. Investigation of this assumption is the purpose of this book. Burer contributes to the discussion surrounding Jesusí Sabbath activity by augmenting current research on Sabbath work, which focuses primarily on rabbinic rules and interpretation of Torah. Burer tests the hypothesis that Jesusí actions on the Sabbath are best understood in light of the concept of divine Sabbath work and that in light of this concept Jesusí actions imply a claim to deity or a close association with Godís divine plan and work. Burer does this by searching the Hebrew Scriptures, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Philo, the Mishnah and Tosefta, the targums, the midrashim, the Palestinian Talmud, and the Babylonian Talmud in order to unearth a conceptual and cultural framework for divine Sabbath work. The results are then used in analyzing two prominent stories of Jesusí work of healing on the Sabbath in the New Testament to prove, disprove, or modify his working hypothesis. New Testament students and scholars will find Divine Sabbath Work to be a thought-provoking, enticing, creative approach to old questions.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Johannine Literature, John, Other Literature, Literature

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Review by Margaret Daly-Denton
Published 11/3/2014
Citation: Margaret Daly-Denton, review of Michael H. Burer, Divine Sabbath Work, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2014).


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