Wise words from John P. Meier, via Michael Bird:
We return, then [after a study of the love commandment], to our theme song of the historical Jesus being the halakic Jesus. A ‘historical’ Jesus who is not involved in the lively halakic debates of his fellow Jews in first-century Palestine, who does not reason about the Law in typically Jewish fashion, and who does not display his charismatic authority as the eschatological prophet by issuing some startling legal pronouncements, is not the historical Jesus. He is instead a modern and largely American construct, favored by some Christians because he is appealing to the marketplace of popular religion in the United Stated today – a religion that is highly emotional, mostly self-centred, predictably uninterested in stringent commandments, and woefully ignorant of history. This American ‘historical’ Jesus could never have interacted with first-century Palestinian Jews, a community centred on the Law and a community that, unlike many present-day Americans, understood perfectly what its God meant when he commanded love.