My latest Politics of Scripture post has just been published.
Jesus’ teaching involves, as Hays recognizes, a rehearsal for the manners of the inbreaking kingdom. Rather than currying favor with their rich neighbors and adopting the manners of their regional rulers, the people of God are to cultivate the etiquette of a different kingdom, behaving as prospective members of a different court. Jesus instructs his hearers to act against their apparent social interests, in the sure faith that God’s order will prevail over all others.
The table manners that Jesus called for involve the rejection of the sort of honor culture practiced in many first century Mediterranean societies. Instead of grasping for honor, Jesus’ followers should be characterized by humility and self-effacement. While seating arrangements and dinner invitations were means for social climbers to accrue honor and status in their society, Jesus challenges his disciples to reject the way of honor-seekers and, like their Master, to seek the praise of God over that of man. Abstaining from social jockeying in a society where so much depends upon one’s honor and status is a costly act of faith.
Read the whole thing here.