Gospel Origins: From a Hebrew Story to the Canonical Gospels

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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.

Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town

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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.

“Shake the Dust from Your Feet”: What Did the Apostles’ Action Signify?

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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.

Jesus’ Attitude Toward the Samaritans

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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.

Sending the Twelve: Conduct on the Road

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In this segment of the LOY commentary David Bivin and Joshua Tilton consider the command to avoid Gentiles and Samaritans and the prohibitions against bringing travel gear for the apostles’ journey.

A Statistical Approach to the Synoptic Problem: Part 3—Single Tradition

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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 Good Samaritan

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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.

The Census of Quirinius and Luke 2

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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.

A Statistical Approach to the Synoptic Problem: Part 2—Double Tradition

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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). Ronning wiargues that the consistency with which an author treats his sources is a major clue for determining the order of Synoptic dependence.

A Statistical Approach to the Synoptic Problem: Part 1—Triple Tradition

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“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.”

Jesus and a Canaanite Woman

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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.”