Follow Garcia as he challenges Taylor’s work and brings about the conclusion that “We should attribute any differences between Galileans and Judeans primarily to issues of opposing halakhic opinions.”

In this study Professor Ruzer suggests that there was a broader first-century Jewish context behind the narrative strategies employed in Mark’s prologue to Jesus’ messianic biography. On the other hand, he also demonstrates that Mark 1:9-11 can be used to recover an early phase of a pattern of messianic belief, seemingly shared by wider Judaism, that continued into the rabbinic period. In other words, New Testament evidence can be an important witness to broader trajectories in early Jewish messianic beliefs.

The recent death of author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel reminds us that we are living at a time when the survivors of the Holocaust are becoming fewer. The eyewitnesses to the horrors of the Nazi extermination program have done all they can do to entrust the memory and the responsibility of what happened to the next generations. How will we handle this awesome responsibility?

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A Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, with a Reconstruction of Their Conjectured Hebrew Ancestor

Under the direction of David Bivin, Jerusalem Perspective has launched an attempt to reconstruct the account of Jesus’ life which, according to church tradition, was written in Hebrew by Jesus’ disciple Matthew.

The Map offers an overview of the order of Gospel stories as they may have appeared in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

Because we believe the Hebrew Life of Yeshua was ordered differently than any of the canonical Gospels, we have provided a “Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua” that presents the Gospel stories in the conjectured order in which they originally appeared. But since readers may wish to simply look up a Gospel passage in the reconstruction, we have provided this key for easy reference.

Unlike most other biblical commentaries, “The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction” is not a commentary on any one text, but rather a commentary on the development of the traditions that came to be included in the Synoptic Gospels. The primary concern of this commentary is to better understand Jesus’ actions and words by attempting to get as close as possible to the earliest stages of development of the traditions that are now known only through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

This excursus, which is a work in progress, is an attempt to identify and collect certain redactional words and phrases characteristic of the editorial style of the author of Mark’s Gospel, specifically the “Markan stereotypes” (words that appear with unusually high frequency in Mark) and “Markan pick-ups” (words that the author of Mark borrowed from other sources). We will continue to add to the catalog as further Markan pick-ups and Markan stereotypes are identified in the course of our research for “The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.”

One of the clues that the Synoptic Gospels descended from a Hebrew Life of Yeshua is the number of foreign words that were transliterated into Greek from either Hebrew or Aramaic (it is often impossible to distinguish Hebrew from Aramaic in Greek transliteration).

The writing style of the author of the Gospel of Mark has long been regarded as idiosyncratic. Its pervasive use of the “historical present” and its bizarre proliferation of the word εὐθύς are two well-known examples. Although Mark is not the best source for the most authentic and historical traditions about Jesus—for that we must turn to Luke and the non-Markan portions of Matthew—Mark remains an important and valuable witness to the development of pre-synoptic traditions and the way they were understood by the early Church.

A key concept in the Jesus’ teaching is the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is the subject of many of Jesus parables and is at the heart of his proclamation. The Kingdom of Heaven has, nevertheless, frequently been misunderstood and misconstrued by scholars. According to Jesus’ teachings, the Kingdom is not up in heaven, it is taking place here on earth.

Jesus’ response to the rich man and Jesus’ subsequent teaching about the importance of counting the cost of discipleship may have been prompted solely by the rich man’s question.

At some point during his public career, Jesus selected twelve of his most trusted disciples and sent them out as emissaries to Israel. These twelve emissaries were to act and teach in Jesus’ name, and proclaim the redemption of Israel by means of God’s Kingdom breaking into the human sphere. Between the stages of transmission from the earliest Hebrew biography of Jesus to the Synoptic Gospels the full story of the apostles’ mission was broken apart. In the “Mission of the Twelve” complex we attempt to reconstruct the complete story.

Upon leaving the synagogue, he [Yeshua] went to Shimon’s home. Now Shimon’s mother-in-law had taken ill with a fever. So they implored him [Yeshua] to heal her. Standing over her, he spoke sharply to the fever. The fever vanished, and she got to her feet and began serving them.

For “The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction,” David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton examine the story of a non-Jewish woman who begged Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter. Does this story, which is found in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, show indications of having descended from a Hebrew source? Why did the author of Luke fail to include this story? Explore these questions and more in “Jesus and a Canaanite Woman.”

…and he said to him, “Rabbi, wherever you go, I’ll follow.” But Yeshua said, “Beasts and birds have homes, but those who join me won’t even enjoy that basic comfort.” Someone else said, “Lord, I’ll follow you after I’ve seen my dad through to the end of his days.” But Yeshua said, “Come join my life-giving mission, and let those who have not been brought to life take care of everyday existence.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go say good-bye to my family.” But Yeshua said, “The person who commits himself and then takes it back isn’t fit for my band of disciples.”

The day of the holiday of Unleavened Bread arrived, so Yeshua sent Petros and Yohanan, instructing them: “Go prepare the Passover lamb for us.” They asked him: “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the lamb?” “Listen,” he replied, “when you enter the city, you will meet a man carrying a water jar. Follow him. At the house he enters, say to the owner: ‘Our teacher asks: “Where is the dining room where I may eat the Passover lamb with my disciples?”’ He will take you upstairs to a large room with couches spread. There make the preparations.” Going into the city, they found everything exactly as he had said, and they prepared the lamb there.

“Can you imagine anyone who would begin construction of a watchtower without first working out the cost to see if he has enough money to complete the job? Otherwise, he might only get the foundation in before running out of money. Then all those who saw it would ridicule him. ‘Look,’ they would say, ‘he couldn’t finish what he started.’

“Can you imagine a king who would attack another king without first sitting down with his staff to discuss whether he is able to withstand the king who is coming with an army twice the size of his own? If the consensus was that he could not, wouldn’t he send messengers to signal his submission?”

Shortly afterward, accompanied by a large crowd of his disciples, he went to the town of Nain. As he approached the town’s entrance, he met a funeral procession. The dead man was the only son of a widow, and no small crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her his heart went out to her.
“Don’t cry,” he said….

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Originally released as a pamphlet entitled The Gospels in 1972, Jerusalem Perspective brings you this discussion of the Synoptic Gospels by Robert L. Lindsey in a newly revised and updated edition. Herein Lindsey critiques the theory that the Gospel narratives were developed orally by Greek speaking Christians in a decades long process. Lindsey argues that there is strong evidence that the material preserved in Matthew, Mark, and Luke descends from a Hebrew document written shortly after the events it describes.

David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton suggest a Hebrew reconstruction of Jesus’ instructions about how the twelve apostles were to behave when they entered a town. In this pericope we learn about the giving and receiving of hospitality among Jesus’ earliest followers. We also learn what may be wrong about the popular view that shaking the dust from the apostles’ feet was a symbolic action meant to signal to Jews who rejected Jesus that they were henceforth to be considered as Gentiles.

The standard interpretation of the apostles’ dust-shaking action proposes that Jesus turned the concept of the impurity of Gentile lands against the Jewish inhabitants of cities within the (ritually pure) land of Israel. This interpretation concludes that shaking the dust from their feet dramatically symbolized that Jesus’ apostles would henceforth regard the Jewish inhabitants of a city that had rejected their message as though they were cut off from Israel. It is time for this mistaken interpretation to finally be put to rest.

In our recent attempt to propose a Hebrew reconstruction of Jesus’ instructions to his twelve apostles (see Sending the Twelve: Conduct on the Road), David Bivin and I were confronted with a racially sensitive issue. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told the apostles not to enter any city of the Samaritans (Matt. 10:5). Reconstructing Jesus’ words in Hebrew raised an uncomfortable question that, as far as we are aware, has never before been considered by New Testament scholars. The question is: What Hebrew word did Jesus use to refer to the Samaritans? This is a sensitive question because, of the two Hebrew alternatives, the more common term in ancient Jewish sources is a racial slur.

Jacob ben Aaron ben Shelamah was the Samaritan high priest from 1861 until his death in 1916. Jacob ben Aaron was not only the spiritual leader of his people, he also represented the Samaritans to Western scholars who, in the late nineteenth century, had begun to take an interest in the history and customs of the Samaritan people.

Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans. Instead, go to the lost sheep who belong to the people of Israel. Don’t take along gear for your mission, not even a walking stick, or a pack, or food, or money, or shoes, or extra clothes. And don’t greet anyone on the road.

The commemoration of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples affords a moment of vulnerability that allows both the servant and the one being served to experience unconditional love.

In Part Three of his series, “A Statistical Approach to the Synoptic Problem,” Halvor Ronning examines the data concerning the degree to which each of the Synoptic Gospels was influenced by a Semitic language (Hebrew or Aramaic). Ronning analyzes this data to see whether it can help us unravel the vexed question: “Who wrote first? Matthew, Mark, or Luke?”

The parable of the Good Samaritan came as a response to the lawyer’s question, “And who is my neighbor?” The lawyer wanted Jesus to draw a circle defining who is inside, and therefore the neighbor I must love, and who is outside. Jesus, by using Leviticus 19:34, ingeniously turned the lawyer’s question on its head.
This article is a sample chapter of Marc Turnage’s, Windows into the Bible: Cultural and Historical Insights into the Bible for Modern Readers (Springfield, Mo.: Logion, 2016), which will be released at the end of March 2016.

Back in the late 1980’s, David created a “Friend of Jerusalem Perspective” program which he envisioned as a way for people around the world to be involved in his work. The program continues to this day with a few very faithful “Friends of JP,” but most of our readers have no idea of the program’s existence and its importance. In this short blog, Becker describes his vision for expanding the Friend of JP program.

Modern readers tend to overlook the significance of the date of Quirinius’ census in the Infancy Narrative of Luke’s Gospel. Preachers and interpreters frequently point to Luke’s mention of the census as proof that God maneuvered even the pagan Roman authorities to bring about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Few note the significance of the date within the history of the Jewish people living in the land of Israel. It’s my feeling that the events surrounding the census of Quirinius drew Luke to mention it within his narrative and connect Jesus’ birth to this event.

In the previous article of this series Halvor Ronning examined the statistics of verbal identities involved in comparisons between materials shared by all three Synoptic Gospels (Triple Tradition). Now in Part Two Ronning will bring into consideration the statistics pertaining to materials shared in only two Synoptic Gospels (Double Tradition).

“A Statistical Approach to the Synoptic Problem,” a new series on Jerusalem Perspective by Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research member Halvor Ronning, aims to contribute to the body of empirical data that must be accounted for by any viable theory that attempts to describe the interrelationships between the Synoptic Gospels. To that end, Halvor Ronning has developed and adapted several new methods of quantifying and testing synoptic hypotheses which will be described and applied in “A Statistical Approach to to the Synoptic Problem.”

Considerable ink has been spilled regarding Matthew’s selection of the individuals in his genealogy (including three women: Tamar, Rahab and Ruth), and the differences between his list that of Luke 3:23-38. My attention is drawn, on the other hand, to the underlying structures of the two lists and what they were intended to tell us about the message of the Evangelists concerning the time in which Christ was born.

Centuries of Christian readers have pondered the meaning of the Greek term Ναζωραῖος (Nazōraios), usually rendered Nazarene, and which Old Testament passages Matthew had in mind when he interpreted the relocation to Nazareth as a fulfillment of Scripture (Matt. 2:23). Where in the Hebrew Scriptures is it expected that the Redeemer will be called a Nazarene or come from Nazareth?

Yeshua told his twelve emissaries: “There’s a huge harvest, but a shortage of harvesters. So send word to the owner of the field to hire more workers to help them finish the job.

“Go! But beware, I’m sending you out like a defenseless flock into a pack of ravenous wolves.”

After a hiatus of over twenty years, Hebrew Nuggets returns to Jerusalem Perspective. Learn to read the letters of the Hebrew alphabet with JP’s editor-in-chief, David Bivin, and discover valuable nuggets of information about the Bible Jesus read and the world in which Jesus lived. If you have ever wanted to be able to read words in Hebrew and to learn more about the richness of the biblical tradition, then Hebrew Nuggets is the perfect place to begin.

From Our Blog

We at Jerusalem Perspective are always excited whenever we have the opportunity to introduce our readers to a prominent scholar whose study of the Second Temple period can help you contextualize Jesus’ life and message within the world of ancient Judaism. Our most recent author, Professor Serge Ruzer of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has just published a new article on JP that explores the Jewish context of Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism, and how this description ties in with first-century Jewish messianic expectations.