Was Jesus Quoting “Ignorant” & “Communistic” Rhetoric When He Says: “Mine is Thine & Thine Are Mine”?

In John 17:10 Jesus seems to be directly quoting the Jewish oral tradition when he says, “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine…”. The direct quotation from the Babylonian Talmud:

“…Mine shall be thine, and thine shall be mine…” –Babylonian Talmud, Location 36396 [1]

What is interesting is that the Talmud gives more context to the meaning of “mine are thine & thine are mine”. It appears to be in the context of describing the different views of property, which today could easily enough be put into economic categories of: Capitalism, Communism, Generous Charity & Thief.

Here is the quote with more context:

“Four kinds of views are held by men concerning property. He who says: “What belongs to me shall continue to be mine, and thou shalt keep thine own,” holds the common view. Some consider this the view of the men of Sodom. 1 “Mine shall be thine, and thine shall be mine,” thus say the ignorant. “Mine shall be thine, and thou shalt also keep thine own,” thus says the magnanimous. “Thine shall be mine, and mine shall continue to be mine,” are the words of the godless.” -Babylonian Talmud, Location 36396 [1]

Summarized:

  • Mine is mine & thine is thine: The Commonly Held Position (Men of Sodom position!)
  • Mine is thine & thine is mine: Ignorant Position
  • Mine is thine & thine is thine: Magnanimous Position
  • Thine is mine & mine is mine: Godless Position

Interestingly, according to the Talmudic view, Jesus held the “ignorant” position! (a judgement I can see many staunch capitalists making without knowing the context!) To be clear, the Talmud makes no mention of Jesus. Likely it was the other way round: Jesus was quoting oral tradition and must have known the context.

One difference between John 17:10 and Talmud is the one is talking about “property” and the other, ostensibly, people.

Was Jesus trying to convey something profoundly counter intuitive? (to the Jews [& Americans], foolishness?) Perhaps that when we are “One” enough, there is not a distinct line between who is who’s? Interestingly the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary takes exactly this economic message from the verse, without mentioning the Talmud context:

Absolute COMMUNITY OF PROPERTY between the Father and the Son is here expressed as nakedly as words can do it.” -JFB commentary [2]

And the result of this is glorification.

[1] Babylonian Talmud, Tract Aboth, Mishnah O: Location 36396 Click Here
[2] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on John 17 Click Here

A Quick Summary of “The New Perspective on Paul”

I often recommend people to take a look at “The New Perspective on Paul” to get another perspective on how to view Paul’s thought. Here I have summarized in a chart how the “New Perspective” compares to the traditional Lutheran/Reformed perspective.

Note that the New Perspective is a Protestant to reform its own theology, a kind of Reformation reformation, so to speak. (I’ve included it in the “Anabaptist Theology” category, but, while it corresponds to Anabaptist thinking in some ways, it is  Protestant theology.)

Lutheran/Reformed Perspective New Perspective
Works of the Law (What is Paul talking about?) human effort to do good works in order to meet God’s standards; the idea that humans can merit salvation from God by their good works alone “badges of covenant membership” or criticizing Gentile believers who had begun to rely on the Torah to reckon Jewish kinship.
Human Effort & Good Works Paul’s rhetoric as being against human effort to earn righteousness. Paul has nothing negative to say about the idea of human effort or good works, and saying many positive things about both.
Many statements in Paul’s writings that specify the criteria of final judgment as being the works of the individual.
Meaning of “Pistis” (Faithfulness/Faith) A belief in God and Christ, and trust in Christ for salvation with faith that he will save you. Faithfulness, meaning firm commitment in an interpersonal relationship.

 

Synonymous with “obedience” when the people in the relationship held different status levels (e.g. a slave being faithful to his master).

Far from being equivalent to “lack of human effort”, the word seems to imply and require human effort. The interpretation of Paul’s writings that we need “faithfully” to obey God’s commands is quite different from one which sees him saying that we need to have “faith” that he will do everything for us.

Meaning of “Charis” (Favor/Grace)  “Grace” and understood it to refer to the idea that there is a lack of human effort in salvation because God is the controlling factor. “Favor” is a better translation, as the word refers normally to “doing a favor”.

Paul speaks of how God did us a “favor” by sending Jesus, he is saying that God took the initiative, but is not implying a lack of human effort in salvation, and is in fact implying that Christians have an obligation to repay the favor God has done for them.

Do not teach that Christians earn their way to heaven outside of the death of Christ. Forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ is still necessary to salvation. But, that forgiveness demands effort on the part of the individual (cf. Paul in Phil. 3:12–16)

The Atonement Penal substitution atonement theory and the belief in the “finished work” of Christ have been central. Other theories of the atonement are more central to Paul’s thinking

Based on:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Perspective_on_Paul