Phil Harland, who had months ago called attention to Steve Mason’s article about Judeans, has finally gotten around to reading Jack Elliott’s article about Jesus the Israelite. I’ve blogged this subject to death, so will simply reaffirm a point I already made against Elliott: that from an historical point of view, outsider language can be just as appropriate as insider language — all the more so since we’re outsiders. As Phil says,
“We scholars are outsiders too. We need not always (and sometimes shouldn’t) adopt specific insider (emic) language to designate the groups we are studying, even though we always need to be attentive to, and descriptive of, what that insider language is. ‘Holy ones’, ‘brothers’, ‘the righteous’ and such are examples of value-loaded insider language that we wouldn’t want to adopt as scholars as general designations of the early followers of Jesus (or Paul). We want to avoid value-loaded language whether it is the stereotyping labels of outsiders or the praising self-designations of insiders. Thankfully neither ‘Israelite’ nor ‘Judean’ fall into the value-loaded category. This may be where I differ from Elliott’s more specific point about the need for scholars to use the categories of insiders, but this does not detract from Elliott’s overall contribution here.”
Even if Jesus would have never referred to himself as a Ioudaios, that doesn’t mean it’s inappropriate for us to do so. Context is king.