Synagogue and Sabbath

Articles Leave a Comment

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.

Premium Members
If you are not a Premium Member, please consider becoming one starting at $10/month (paid monthly) or only $5/month (paid annually):

One Time Purchase Rather Than Membership
Rather than a membership, you may also purchase access to this entire page for $1.99 USD. (If you do not have an account select "Register & Purchase.")

Login & Purchase
Two wooden cases containing the Torah scroll, the book of the Jewish Law, in the Ark (Hekhal). Photographed by Davidbena courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
This article originally appeared in issue 23 of the Jerusalem Perspective magazine. Click on the image above to view a PDF of the original magazine article.

Leave a Reply

  • Shmuel Safrai [1919-2003]

    Shmuel Safrai [1919-2003]

    Professor and Rabbi Shmuel Safrai died on July 16, 2003. He was buried the following day in a section of Jerusalem's Har ha-Menuhot Cemetery reserved for faculty of the Hebrew University. His grave is only a few feet from the grave of his close friend…
    [Read more about author]

  • JP Content

  • Suggested Reading

  • Petros Petra WordplayHistorical Jesus a Tanna FIDeliver Us From Evil6 Stone Water JarsEnemies of the HarvestWere Women Segregated?Unlocking the Synoptic ProblemNew Portrait of SalomeInsulting God's High PriestLoving BothMedieval JargonBeating the (Thorny) Bushes title 2Gergesa, Gerasa, or GadaraPGAnd OR In Order To RemarryAnti-Jewish TendenciesScribal ErrorsAllegro to ZeitlinTwena With All Due RespectBethsaida 002Flusser Times of the GentilesIntro to SynopticStewards of God's KeysPower of ParablesBest Long-TermFlusser Parables of Ill ReputeNew International JesusReich Design and MaintenanceSafrai Synagogue CenturionNun GergesaSabbath BreakersNeot Kedumim