Notes on the New Testament as a Witness for Broader Jewish Patterns in Jesus’ Times

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If the argument for the Jewish matrix of the early Jesus-centered tradition is taken seriously, the New Testament sources should be expected not only to react to elements of that matrix, but also to reflect them. It is here that study of the Jewish setting of early Christianity for the sake of better understanding the latter morphs into the investigation of early Jesus movement sources as witnesses for broader Jewish tendencies. Scholars of Qumran developed salient methods and insights that allow us to learn from the Scrolls not only about the particular group that seems to have produced them, but also about its rivals as well as “wider Judaism.” It stands to reason that a similar effort can contribute to critical assessment of the “witness value” of the earliest Christian writings: We can suppose that much of the material found there mirrors more general patterns of broader Jewish thought and practice.

The Sabbath Was Made for Man

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I hope at a later point to give more full attention to what may be considered Jesus’ three pillars (or principles) of spirituality that are outlined in Matthew 6:1-18. At this juncture it is sufficient to state what they are: acts of loving-kindness (Matt. 6:1-4), prayer (Matt. 6:5-6), and repentance/fasting (Matt. 6:16-18).

The Historical Jesus, a Tanna?

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Two Gospel accounts, “The Rich Young Person” (Matt. 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-3, Luke 18:18-30) and “On Almsgiving” (Matt. 6:1-4), that share similar content, structure, and argumentation with two discussions that appear in the Mishnah and Tosefta shed light on the use of rabbinic literature for the study of the Gospels.

Praying Like Gentiles

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In Matthew this critique appears in a discussion of the proper performance of three major religious duties: almsgiving (Matt. 6:1-4), prayer (Matt. 6:5-15) and fasting (Matt. 6:16-18).

Jesus’ Yoke and Burden

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Revised: 25-Nov-2014″Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30; NIV). Although extraordinarily beautiful, Jesus’ saying recorded in Matthew 11:28-30 is enigmatic. What is this saying’s meaning, and what were Jesus’ “yoke” and “burden”?

The “Hypocrisy” of the Pharisees

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And finally, Jesus consistently called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” (Matt. 12:34; 23:23) and said that “they have already received their reward” (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16).

“Verily” or “Amen”—What Did Jesus Say?

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Every reader of the Gospels knows the phrase, “Verily, I say unto you,” or “Verily, verily, I say unto you.”The latter phrase appears only in the Gospel of John, e.g.

Lord’s Prayer

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This can be seen from the fact that the Lord’s Prayer disturbs the natural flow of the three topics: “When you give alms …when you pray …when you fast ….”

Sending the Twelve: Apostle and Sender

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Matt. 10:40-42; Mark 9:41; Luke 10:16 (Huck 63, 130b, 139b; Aland 104, 167b, 179; Crook 119-120, 185b, 203)For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.'” Revised: 24 November 2021

הַמְּקַבֵּל אֶתְכֶם אוֹתִי מְקַבֵּל וְהַמְּקַבֵּל אוֹתִי מְקַבֵּל אֶת הַשּׁוֹלֵחַ אוֹתִי וְהַמּוֹאֵס אֶתְכֶם אוֹתִי מוֹאֵס וְהַמּוֹאֵס אוֹתִי מוֹאֵס אֶת הַשּׁוֹלֵחַ אוֹתִי

“If anyone receives you, it is as if he has received me, and if anyone receives me, it is as if he has received the one who sent me. But if anyone rejects you, it is as if he has rejected me, and if anyone rejects me, it is as if he has rejected the one who sent me.”This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source.

Jesus and the Oral Torah: Tithing

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In the same section of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus criticizes the hypocrites who fast or pray “to be seen by men,” he also criticizes those who make a public display of giving to the poor (Matt. 6:2). … — wp:paragraph –>

“When you give alms,” said Jesus, not “If you give alms” (Matt. 6:2).

LOY Excursus: Greek Transliterations of Hebrew, Aramaic and Hebrew/Aramaic Words in the Synoptic Gospels

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Matt. 5:18, 26; 6:2, 5, 16; 8:10; 10:15, 23, 42; 11:11; 13:17; 16:28; 17:20; 18:3, 13, 18, ; 19:23, 28; 21:21, 31; 23:36; 24:2, 34, 47; 25:12, 40, 45; 26:13, 21, 34; Mark 3:28; 8:12; 9:1, 41; 10:15, 29; 11:23; 12:43; 13:30; 14:9, 18, 25, 30; ; Luke 4:24; 12:37; 18:17, 29; 21:32; 23:43

ἠλί (ēli) = אֵלִי (‘ēli, “my God”)

Matt. 27:46 (2xx)

λαμά (lama) = לָמָּה (lāmāh, “why?”)