17 May 2014

The Author


David Bivin is founder and editor-in-chief of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., David has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew University until 1969 specializing in Jewish history and literature under professors Menahem Stern, David Flusser, Shmuel Safrai and Yechezkel Kutscher, and in archaeology under professors Yigael Yadin, Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah. During those six years, and for many years afterwards, David also studied the Synoptic Gospels with Jerusalem scholar-pastor Robert L. Lindsey.

David has written more than one hundred scholarly and popular articles. Recent scientific articles include the entry “Hebraisms in the New Testament” in Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2013), 2:198-201, and the article “Jesus’ Petros-petra Wordplay (Matt 16:18): Is It Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew?” in The Language Environment of First-century Judaea: Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels 2 (JCP 26; ed. Randall Buth and R. Steven Notley; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2014), 375-394. David continues to work on a projected 5,000-page commentary on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, currently being published at JerusalemPerspective.com. David has presented scholarly papers at U.S. and international meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature.

David’s popular book, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus (Holland, MI: En-Gedi Resource Center), appeared in 2005.

David is a member of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, a think tank made up of Jewish and Christian scholars dedicated to better understanding the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). In the early 1980s, before the School became a legal entity, David coined its name. For many years following the School’s registration in Israel as a nonprofit research institute in 1985, David served as its director and Executive Board chairman.

During the years 1970 to 1981 David directed the Hebrew Language Division of the American Ulpan, and the Modern Hebrew Department of the Institute of Holy Land Studies (later renamed Jerusalem University College) on Mt. Zion. During those years, he authored the video language course, Aleph-Bet: A Beginner’s Introduction to Reading and Writing Hebrew, and co-authored, with the late Robert Goldfarb, Fluent Biblical and Modern Hebrew, a home-study language program.

For twelve years (1987-1999) David published Jerusalem Perspective, a print magazine that presented the life and teachings of Jesus in their original cultural and linguistic settings. In 1999 the magazine evolved into a website, www.jerusalemperspective.com.

Active in Israeli life, David served as a sergeant in an Israeli army reserve infantry unit from 1974 to 1991. He is a member of Jerusalem’s Narkis Street Congregation, where he served as an elder under the pastorate of the late Robert Lindsey. He and his wife Josa (née Keosababian) met and were married at the Narkis Street Congregation in 1969. Today, the Bivins live in the village of Maoz Zion, near Jerusalem.

Photo Copyright Chris de Vries Studio, Zeeland, Michigan

David has co-authored several articles including:

New Jerusalem School Volume Published by Brill
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Date First Published: May 17, 2014

Randall Buth and R. Steven Notley, eds. The Language Environment of First Century Judaea. Vol. 2 of Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels. Jewish and Christian Perspectives 26. Leiden: Brill. 2014.


new collection of articles by scholars of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research has recently been released. The volume, entitled The Language Environment of First Century Judaea, is the second volume to appear in the Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels series. This new volume examines the data which prove that the people living in the Land of Israel in the first century belonged to a trilingual society (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). For too long scholars have worked under the assumption that Hebrew was no longer a living language in the Second Temple Period. This unfounded assumption led to an Aramaic-only approach to studying the sources behind the Gospels, which in turn has often led to a distorted picture of Jesus’ teachings. The new Jerusalem School volume demonstrates how a trilingual approach to studying first-century Jewish culture in the Land of Israel can give us a clearer understanding of Jesus and the Gospels.

The articles contained in the new volume include:

  • Guido Baltes, “The Origins of the ‘Exclusive Aramaic Model’ in the Nineteenth Century: Methodological Fallacies and Subtle Motives”
  • Guido Baltes, “The Use of Hebrew and Aramaic in Epigraphic Sources of the New Testament Era”
  • Randall Buth and Chad Pierce, “Hebraisti in Ancient Texts: Does Ἑβραϊστί Ever Mean ‘Aramaic’?”
  • Marc Turnage, “The Linguistic Ethos of the Galilee in the First Century C.E.”
  • Serge Ruzer, “Hebrew versus Aramaic as Jesus’ Language: Notes on Early Opinions by Syriac Authors”
  • Daniel A. Machiela, “Hebrew, Aramaic, and the Differing Phenomena of Targum and Translation in the Second Temple Period and Post-Second Temple Period”
  • Randall Buth, “Distinguishing Hebrew from Aramaic in Semitized Greek Texts, with an Application for the Gospels and Pseudepigrapha”
  • R. Steven Notley, “Non-Septuagintal Hebraisms in the Third Gospel: An Inconvenient Truth”
  • R. Steven Notley and Jeffrey P. Garcia, “Hebrew-Only Exegesis: A Philological Approach to Jesus’ Use of the Hebrew Bible”
  • David N. Bivin, “Jesus’ Petros–petra Wordplay (Matthew 16:18): Is It Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew?”
  • Randall Buth, “The Riddle of Jesus’ Cry from the Cross: The Meaning of ηλι ηλι λαμα σαβαχθανι (Matthew 27:46) and the Literary Function of ελωι ελωι λειμα σαβαχθανι (Mark 15:34)”
To read a review of The Language Environment of First Century Judaea, click here.

R. Steven Notley, Marc Turnage and Brian Becker, eds. Jesus’ Last Week. Vol. 1 of Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels. Jewish and Christian Perspectives 11. Leiden: Brill. 2006.

The previous volume in the Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels series, Jesus’ Last Week, examined aspects of the synoptic accounts of Jesus’ final days in Jerusalem.

Articles in Jesus’ Last Week include:

  • David Flusser, “The Synagogue and the Church in the Synoptic Gospels”
  • Shmuel Safrai, “Early Testimonies in the New Testament Laws and Practices Relating to Pilgrimage and Passover”
  • Randall Buth and Brian Kvasnica, “Temple Authorities and Tithe-Evasion: The Linguistic Background and Impact of the Parable of the Vineyard, the Tenants and the Son
  • Serge Ruzer, “The Double Love Precept in the New Testament and the Rule of the Community”
  • R. Steven Notley, “Learn the Lesson of the Fig Tree”
  • R. Steven Notley, “The Eschatological Thinking of the Dead Sea Sect and the Order of Blessing in the Christian Eucharist”
  • Marc Turnage, “Jesus and Caiaphas: An Intertextual-Literary Evaluation”
  • Chana Safrai, “The Kingdom of Heaven and Study of Torah”
  • Brad H. Young, “A Fresh Examination of the Cross, Jesus and the Jewish People”
  • David Bivin, “Evidence of an Editor’s Hand in Two Instances of Mark’s Account of Jesus’ Last Week?”
  • Shmuel Safrai, “Spoken and Literary Languages in the Time of Jesus”
  • Hanan Eshel, “Use of the Hebrew Language in Economic Documents from the Judaean Desert”






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