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 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
nder 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. Although this ancient eyewitness account is no longer extant, we believe that significant portions of this source have been preserved in the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. If this theory is correct, then the first three canonical Gospels are the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of that conjectured Hebrew biography, which we refer to as the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.
An attempt also has been made to reconstruct the first Greek translation of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua, a more immediate ancestor of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Reconstructing the Hebrew Life of Yeshua is possible because the traditions preserved in the Synoptic Gospels show signs of literary development that occurred as these traditions passed through various stages before reaching their present form. These stages include: (1) translation from a written Hebrew biography to Greek, (2) a stage in which the highly literal and, consequently, unidiomatic Greek translation passed into improved Greek versions, and (3) the stages of development that took place as the traditions passed from the earliest Synoptic Gospel to the second Gospel, and from the second to the third. “The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction” is an attempt to follow those stages backward to reach the earliest form of the Gospel traditions that originated in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.
A commentary accompanying each section of the reconstruction discusses the new insights that are gained from reconstructing Jesus’ words in their original language and in their original contexts.
Since we suppose that the Hebrew Life of Yeshua ordered its stories differently from the order they are presented in the Synoptic Gospels, we have provided a Map (or outline) of the conjectured Hebrew biography.
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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