Jesus’ Reference to Folklore and Historical Events

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An inherent consequence of our distance from the world of Jesus is that we primarily understand Jesus’ words as they apply within our twenty-first century eschatological and theological framework. However, Jesus’ teachings reflect his cultural background as a Jewish rabbi in first-century Galilee.

Another Look at the “Cleansing of the Temple” Story

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Based on archaeological excavations near the southern wall of the temple, the research of Shmuel Safrai, and a nuance of the Hebrew verb that is one of the equivalents for Greek ekballein (drive out, banish; throw out; throw away, reject; cast out of a place, expel; remove, get rid of; put out), it may be necessary to reinterpret the gospel accounts of Jesus’ “cleansing” of the temple, even suggesting a different location for Jesus’ action.

Selected Examples of Rewriting in Mark’s Account of Jesus’ Last Week

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It has been noted that in instances where Mark’s editorial hand restructured his story, Luke has preserved a more primitive form of the account, a form that is independent of Mark’s influence. Gospel scholars need to properly evaluate Mark’s editorial style and acknowledge that frequently a theological agenda influenced his rewriting.

Jesus and the Essene Passover

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What evidence is there that Jesus celebrated his last Passover according to the Essene reckoning? Is there evidence to the contrary? And most importantly for Christians, if it were true, what are the consequences for our understanding of the historical Jesus?

The Search for Bethsaida: Is It Over?

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One of the challenging tasks for archaeologists and biblical historians alike is the identification of sites mentioned in the Bible — some of which were destroyed and disappeared in time without a trace. The first comprehensive attempt to locate these sites was that of Eusebius, the fourth-century church historian (ca. 265-339 A.D.).

The Man Who Would Be King

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Scholarship has recognized the similarities between the Parable of the Talents and the historical account of Archelaus’ attempts to inherit the kingdom of his father, Herod the Great. When Herod died, Caesar Augustus divided the kingdom between Herod’s three sons, Archelaus, Antipas and Philip.

Design and Maintenance of First-century Ritual Immersion Baths

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Archeologists and other scholars have not written prolifically about ancient mikvaot (or ritual immersion baths). Nevertheless, ritual immersion in the first century A.D. constitutes an important element of the overall historical, social and religious background of the New Testament. Here, Ronny Reich explains in non-technical language the intricacies of the design and maintenance of ancient mikvaot.

The Synagogue the Centurion Built

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The third Evangelist recorded in the seventh chapter of his Gospel a story about Jesus, the Jewish elders of Capernaum, a Roman centurion and their affable relations. From rabbinic texts and other literary sources like the New Testament, we know that despite years of suffering brought upon the Jewish people by their Roman overlords, there were instances when Jew and Roman behaved amicably toward one another. Luke 7:1-10 stands out as one such episode.

Insulting God’s High Priest

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Recent research has shown that Sadducees, not Pharisees, were responsible for the death of Jesus. An incident recounted in the Book of Acts provides a glimpse of the Sadducean high priests’ corrupt behavior. Little wonder the Sadducees were despised by the common people.

A New Portrait of Salome

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Salome’s image has been obscured and marred due to the personas created for her by writers of the past 150 years. Salome is famous for the part she played in the execution of John the Baptist. Since 1863, she has been depicted in books and films as morally depraved. Diligent research reveals, however, that the real Salome is much different than popular portrayals.

Were Women Segregated in the Ancient Synagogue?

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Did women play a passive role in the synagogue congregations of antiquity? Were they separated from male members of the congregation during prayer and study, as is the case today? According to Professor Shmuel Safrai, the answer to both questions is a resounding “No.”

Gergesa: Site of the Demoniac’s Healing

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The recent discovery of many of the ancient harbors that ringed the Sea of Galilee is an exciting chapter in Sea of Galilee research. One of these harbors is located at Kursi, ancient Gergesa. In this article, Mendel Nun contends that the demoniac’s healing and the miracle of the swine took place at Gergesa, not Gadara or Gerasa.

Stewards of God’s Keys

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Jesus gave his disciple Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” and promised that whatever Peter “bound” and “loosed” on earth would be “bound” and “loosed” in heaven. What scriptural allusions lurk beneath these expressions and what are their implications? How does the Jewish literary background of Matthew 16:19 help us better appreciate Jesus’ words?

Remember Shiloh!

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Without paying attention to ancient Jewish exegesis one can easily miss the full impact of Jesus’ statement, “den of thieves.” Was Jesus solely addressing the vendors, or was he aiming at bigger game?