Professor David Flusser died and was buried in Jerusalem on Friday, September 15, 2000, his 83rd birthday. A founding member of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, Flusser was one of the world’s leading Jewish authorities on Early Christianity. His pioneering research on Jesus and Christianity’s relationship to Judaism won him international recognition. His collaboration with Robert Lindsey, beginning in 1961, inspired a new approach to the Synoptic Gospels.
Flusser was born in Vienna, but because of food shortages caused by the First World War, his family relocated to the small Catholic, Bohemian town of Příbram, Czechoslovakia. As a young man Flusser studied at the University of Prague. While a student there he met Josef Perl, a pastor and member of the Unity of Bohemian Brethren. It was Perl who stirred the young Flusser’s insatiable curiosity. The many evenings that he spent in conversation with Perl spawned what became an enduring interest in Jesus’ teachings and the Jewish origins of Christianity.
On the eve of World War II, Flusser left his native Eastern Europe for the Middle East. He arrived in Palestine in 1939. In 1957 he received his doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he later taught in the Comparative Religions department for many years, training several generations of scholars. For example, Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research members Professors Brad Young and Steven Notley wrote their doctoral dissertations under his supervision.
A member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Flusser was frequently recognized for his scholarship: he was awarded the Israel Prize (1980), the State of Israel’s most prestigious honor, as well as the Rothschild Prize for Jewish Sciences (2000). He was a recipient of honorary doctorates from, among others, the Catholic Faculty of Theology of Lucerne, Switzerland (1989), and Hebrew Union College (2000).
Flusser could converse fluently in nine languages and read literature in an additional seventeen. He authored over 1,000 scholarly articles in Hebrew, German, English and other languages. Among the books he wrote are Jesus (3nd ed., 2001) and Judaism of the Second Temple Period (Volume 1, 2007; Volume 2, 2009).
am very pleased at having this opportunity to write a foreword to a work which, for the first time, explains in much detail the results of Robert Lindsey’s long and painstaking research on the text of Mark and on the Synoptic Problem. It seems clear that Lindsey’s observations have provided a decisive new clue to understanding the synoptic relationships and an equally important clue to the correct approach to the Gospel of Mark.
At present, the scholarly opinion that the Gospel of Mark was a principal source for the writers of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke is all but unanimous. Unfortunately, the occasional voices raised in opposition to this view are usually accompanied by remarks that show a distressing lack of good philological thinking, for in their desire to avoid Markan priority these voices tend to propose theories that run contrary to one or more important facts that have long been known to scholars. Such theories are doomed to oblivion from the start.
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Today when we hear the word “gospel” we tend to think of a message about Jesus that tells people how to “get saved.” But in the ancient world in which Jesus lived the word “gospel” was applied to “good news” of a certain type. When people in the ancient world heard the word “gospel” they understood it to mean a royal proclamation that someone had become king.
Explore this fascinating topic with Joshua Tilton in his new eBook “Jesus’ Gospel.”
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