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Command or invitation? How Jesus got his first disciples

Hjort, Daniel LU (2017) Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting 2017
Abstract (Swedish)
In the beginning of the public career of Jesus, Mark and Matthew both narrate how Jesus “calls” four fishermen to follow him which results in an immediate positive response (Mark 1:16–20/Matt 4:18–22). How is the reader to understand Jesus’ calling of disciples? Is Jesus making an authoritative command or does he merely invites the fishermen? What is Jesus doing when he “calls” his disciples? These questions are important since they have implications for the understanding of the characterization of Jesus in the narratives. The most common view among scholars is to understand the calling of Jesus as a command. The response of the fishermen is thus obedience to the command of Jesus. Scott Spencer even argues in an article that Jesus is... (More)
In the beginning of the public career of Jesus, Mark and Matthew both narrate how Jesus “calls” four fishermen to follow him which results in an immediate positive response (Mark 1:16–20/Matt 4:18–22). How is the reader to understand Jesus’ calling of disciples? Is Jesus making an authoritative command or does he merely invites the fishermen? What is Jesus doing when he “calls” his disciples? These questions are important since they have implications for the understanding of the characterization of Jesus in the narratives. The most common view among scholars is to understand the calling of Jesus as a command. The response of the fishermen is thus obedience to the command of Jesus. Scott Spencer even argues in an article that Jesus is portrayed as an alternative imperial ruler who is summoning people with an “imperious” call. The used Greek terms, however, suggest that Jesus is inviting the fishermen and not commanding them. It seems also unlikely that Jesus gives a command to follow him and at the same time gives a reason why they should follow and a promise of empowerment. But if the calling is understood as an invitation to apprentice, the promise of equipment makes sense. A final reason against the proposal that Jesus is commanding the disciples to follow him is the idea in antiquity that a good leader has willing followers. It is thus more likely that Jesus’ calling of his disciples should be understood as an invitation, and not as a command. Probably the charismatic authority of Jesus is underlined in these narratives. This is also what Luke emphasizes in his different narration of the calling of the first disciples (Luke 5:1–11). Subsequently, Jesus is not characterized as an authoritarian ruler, but rather as an attractive leader with willing followers. (Less)
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Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting 2017
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1ce5bf21-17c0-442a-949b-e18411450cfc
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2017-11-30 16:21:00
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@misc{1ce5bf21-17c0-442a-949b-e18411450cfc,
  abstract     = {In the beginning of the public career of Jesus, Mark and Matthew both narrate how Jesus “calls” four fishermen to follow him which results in an immediate positive response (Mark 1:16–20/Matt 4:18–22). How is the reader to understand Jesus’ calling of disciples? Is Jesus making an authoritative command or does he merely invites the fishermen? What is Jesus doing when he “calls” his disciples? These questions are important since they have implications for the understanding of the characterization of Jesus in the narratives. The most common view among scholars is to understand the calling of Jesus as a command. The response of the fishermen is thus obedience to the command of Jesus. Scott Spencer even argues in an article that Jesus is portrayed as an alternative imperial ruler who is summoning people with an “imperious” call. The used Greek terms, however, suggest that Jesus is inviting the fishermen and not commanding them. It seems also unlikely that Jesus gives a command to follow him and at the same time gives a reason why they should follow and a promise of empowerment. But if the calling is understood as an invitation to apprentice, the promise of equipment makes sense. A final reason against the proposal that Jesus is commanding the disciples to follow him is the idea in antiquity that a good leader has willing followers. It is thus more likely that Jesus’ calling of his disciples should be understood as an invitation, and not as a command. Probably the charismatic authority of Jesus is underlined in these narratives. This is also what Luke emphasizes in his different narration of the calling of the first disciples (Luke 5:1–11). Subsequently, Jesus is not characterized as an authoritarian ruler, but rather as an attractive leader with willing followers. },
  author       = {Hjort, Daniel},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {08},
  title        = {Command or invitation? How Jesus got his first disciples},
  year         = {2017},
}