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University Professor Talks about “Jesus Behaving Badly”

University Professor Mark Strauss speaks at the second World-Changers Series gathering. (Photo credit: Nathan Klok ’17)

Mark Strauss, university professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary San Diego, was on the St. Paul campus in November for the second-ever World Changers Series seminar. He presented material from his book, Jesus Behaving Badly: The Puzzling Paradoxes of the Man from Galilee, which was made available at a special pre-release sale to the Bethel community.

The book focuses on the paradoxes that Jesus represents. The Jesus that Christians tend to picture isn’t always the true Jesus of the Gospels. That Jesus, writes Strauss, is countercultural, radical, and at times uncomfortable.

“When he’s the most puzzling, he’s also the most profound, but when he’s at his most troubling, he’s at his most transformational,” says Strauss. In the book—and in his campus talk—Strauss reviewed two of the six paradoxical behaviors of Jesus. Was he revolutionary or pacifist? Was he angry or loving? In answer to each of these questions, Strauss says, “Jesus was revolutionary against Satan, sin, and death, humanity’s ultimate enemies…Jesus brought reconciliation by engaging in conflict—forcing his opponent’s hand and suffering as an atoning sacrifice for sin.”

He noted that the title of the book was given to him by the publisher, and it’s the second book in a three-book series. A previously released book by David Lamb was titled God Behaving Badly, and a third book, Paul Behaving Badly, is forthcoming.

The twice-annual World-Changers Series features prominent voices from Bethel and beyond, and is geared toward alumni and friends of the university.

During his visit to St. Paul, Strauss also gave a seminar to pastors and ministry leaders that was focused on his book How to Read the Bible in Changing Times. The seminar was part of a regular line-up of speakers that visit campus to encourage and equip local church leaders. It was sponsored by Bethel’s Office of Church Relations.

The following day, Strauss gave a College of Arts & Sciences Chapel talk, focusing on Mark 10. He urged undergraduate students to rethink their approach to leadership as believers, saying, “Leadership is not about power. It’s about empowerment.”

Mark Strauss, Ph.D., is university professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary San Diego. He is the author or coauthor of several books and numerous articles, including How to Read the Bible in Changing Times; Four Portraits, One Jesus: An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels; How to Choose a Translation for All It's Worth (with Gordon D. Fee); The Essential Bible Companion (with John Walton); and more. He also serves as vice-chair of the Committee for Bible Translation for the New International Version and as an associate editor for the NIV Study Bible. Strauss has a heart for ministry and preaches and teaches regularly at churches, conferences, and college campuses. He lives in San Diego with his wife Roxanne and three kids.

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