Video: Richard Rohr on Scripture

Today’s question:

I came across this post from Richard Rohr on how Jesus interpreted scripture ( Here is a quote from the post:

“Jesus consistently ignored or even denied exclusionary, punitive, and triumphalistic texts in his own inspired Hebrew Bible in favor of passages that emphasized inclusion, mercy, and honesty. He read the Scriptures in a spiritual and selective way. Jesus had a deeper and wider eye that knew which passages were creating a path for God and which passages were merely cultural, self-serving, and legalistic additions. That becomes self-evident once you know enough to see the “comparative meaning” of an incident or statement.

When Christians pretend that every line in the Bible is of equal importance and inspiration, they are being very unlike Jesus. This is precisely why Jesus was accused of teaching “as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:29, RSV), and why they hated him so much. Jesus even accused fervent and pious “teachers of the law” of largely missing the point. “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” he asked them (Mark 12:24, RSV). We cannot make the same mistake all over again—and now in Jesus’ name.”

How would you respond to the idea that Jesus read the scripture in a spiritual and selective way and that he emphasized some while ignoring or denying others?

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About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Audio, Bible, Controversies, Ethics, Hermeneutics, NT, NT Theology, Podcasts, Questions and Answers, Scripture, Theological, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Video: Richard Rohr on Scripture

  1. Ryan says:

    This was really helpful.

  2. katapetasma1 says:

    Excellent work. The hemeneutic of love provides such a truncated reading of the both the Old and New Testaments as you have shown. I had not noticed that Isaiah 61:2 reappears in Luke 21:22. It appears the Lukan Jesus (the Jesus who is supposedly most agreeable to our cultural sentiments) has no issue with Isaiah’s vision of violent divine judgement.

  3. Thank you, Alistair. Wonderful explanation of all that is going on in this line of thought that would pit Scripture against itself and seek to force the one who considers herself more Jesus-like to jetison passages based their harsh implications. Your caution against falling for a “hand waved toward ‘the rabbis'” in order to make a point is also very well-made. God bless.

  4. Nathan Smith says:


    Thank you so much for this insight. I pastor within an urban context near a college campus and I see this hermeneutic of Rohr’s being implemented in many ways and this makes it difficult to discuss judgment passages or even to preach on the crucifixion/resurrection of Jesus outside of Moral Influence atonement understanding.

    I am curious if you could speak on the hermeneutical idea of understanding the Ritual verses the Moral implications of the Law? I’ve heard scholars utilize this principle in describing Paul’s understanding of the Law as being fulfilled in Jesus (Ritual), hence his condemnation of “Judiazers”, but that he doubles down on the Moral implications of the Law (Moral), especially as it has to do with sexual ethics. I would be very interested to hear your insight.

    Thank you for your work. It is a blessing to our churches and ministry.

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