For Christian minions out there looking for some Lenten reading, allow Confucius* to suggest Brant Pitre’s new book, Jesus the Bridegroom. Following of the method of his previous, excellent Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, he attempts to reconstruct—in accessible, popular style—part of the first-century Jewish literary and religious world in which Jesus and his disciples lived in order to elucidate the intention and reception of the Gospels (and, therefore, Jesus’s words and actions) by their Jewish audience.
Pitre operates from the premise that many of the sayings and actions of Jesus that puzzle modern readers can be clarified, often with startling results, by exploring the conceptual vocabulary of the Jewish world of his time. In Roots of the Eucharist, he convincingly reconstructs a whole set of allusions which leave little doubt that the Jewish reader of the Gospels—free to accept or reject the proposition—is being presented with a new Passover, with Jesus the Lamb rescuing the new Israel from eternal death.
In Bridegroom, Pitre begins with the question of why Paul emphatically likens Jesus’s brutal, sordid execution to a wedding feast, perhaps the most joyful occasion in the Jewish life of the day. He argues, convincingly, that Jesus’s repeated use of bridal metaphors and actions (particularly his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well) would have been seen as an obvious and public claim to divinity, and as with the Passover elements discerned in his previous book, aspects of his Passion, death, and resurrection fit neatly into this overarching metaphor, obviously confirming for the evangelists and apostles, that Jesus was the promised Bridegroom Jews had been calling to hasten like a gazelle to join with them.
This summary doesn’t do the book’s depth justice, but it’s a short read (under 200 pages including endnotes, acknowledgements, etc.), and worth an afternoon of your time. You may want to revisit it.
* For those who came in late, Confucius is the Gormogons’ Œcumenical Volgi, vicar of Chin-K’wa Kai-Po, founder of the visible order of Gormogons. As far as you know.