Crossan and the Context Group
Chris Petersen says:
"In the past I have been reluctant to read anything by the aptly named 'context-group' of scholars. I think this has been partly due to my bad experience with Crossan's The Historical Jesus in which he utilizes the cultural anthropological features of the 1st century Mediterranean environment as his controlling paradigm for his reconstruction of the historical Jesus. Admittedly, Crossan's abuse of sociological and anthropological models for his historical Jesus investigation left a bitter taste in my mouth for such 'context' approaches."Chris isn't alone in being put off by the Context Group in advance on account of Crossan's crimes. Crossan, of course, was sharply criticized by Context Group scholars for not assimilating their work properly back in the early 90s. His book may deal a lot with honor/shame and patronage/clientage, but you'd never guess his Jesus ever lived in such a culture. He could have never functioned in it.
The subject of table-fellowship is a glaring for-instance where Crossan misunderstands/misuses the models of the Context Group. William Herzog critiques him and the Jesus Seminar as follows:
"Jesus is labelled a 'glutton and a drunkard'. Some members of the Jesus Seminar have taken this to mean that Jesus was a bon vivant and a party animal. He did it for the hell of it, to show that living in the present is all that mattered, but it hardly needs to be said that this view trivializes the social significance and theological import of Jesus' actions. Crossan thinks that this 'open commensality' modeled the egalitarian tendencies of Jesus... The difficulty with the way Crossan interprets open commensality is that egalitarianism is a modern notion unlikely to be found in the ancient world, nor would it have been valued if it had been found. The issue is not equality, but reciprocity and mutuality. In return for brokering God's forgiveness, toll collectors and sinners offer Jesus table companionship. Their hospitality is their expression of gratitude, their reciprocity." (Jesus, Justice, and the Reign of God, p 222)Also see Jack Elliot's railroading critique of the egalitarian nonsense.