Synagogue and Sabbath

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The detailed description of Jesus' visit to the Nazareth synagogue found in Luke 4:16-21 provides substantial information about synagogue life and customs in the early first century C.E. An examination of this passage will help us understand Jesus more clearly and accurately. This account in Luke’s Gospel agrees with other contemporary and especially rabbinic sources. Together they provide a complete picture of the synagogue in that period.

And he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and on the Sabbath he went to the synagogue, as it was his custom, and stood up to read. And there was given to him a scroll of the prophet Isaiah and he unrolled the scroll…and he rolled up the scroll and returned it to the hazzan [the leader of the synagogue service] and sat down…and he began and said to them…. (Luke 4:16-21)

The detailed description of Jesus’ visit to the Nazareth synagogue found in these verses provides substantial information about synagogue life and customs in the early first century C.E. An examination of this passage will help us understand Jesus more clearly and accurately. This account in Luke’s Gospel agrees with other contemporary and especially rabbinic sources. Together they provide a complete picture of the synagogue in that period.

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