A Time To Fast?

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Once, when Jesus and his disciples were enjoying themselves at a dinner party, a simple observation was made: “Your disciples don’t fast!” The observation was innocent and simple enough; it was not an accusation, but an honest exclamation of perplexity. Jesus’ response, however, was far from simple.

Essenic Piety and the Epistle of James

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The Gospels, the book of Acts, and Paul’s letters tend to dominate our view of early Christianity. With the possible exception of Revelation, the books that appear after the Pauline corpus (i.e., Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude) are usually treated as little more than extraneous sweepings, even by those who would never intend to slight any part of the Bible.

“They Didn’t Dare” (Matt 22:46; Mark 12:34; Luke 20:40): A Window on the Literary and Redactional Methods of the Synoptic Gospel Writers

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Mark’s placement of Jesus’ “no longer dared” comment is very awkward: first, because the comment comes in the middle of a lovefest between Jesus and a scribe; and second, because the comment immediately follows Jesus’ appreciation of the scribe’s wisdom: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus’ Yoke and Burden

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It appears that the original context for Jesus’ “Comfort for the Heavy-Laden” saying has been lost; however, in spite of this, passages in the apocryphal book of Ben Sira may help us determine Jesus’ intent. The Ben Sira texts indicate that Jesus was speaking of the study of Torah (Written and Oral) and the rigors of first-century discipleship.

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.

Fishers and Hunters: A Fishy Reading of Jeremiah 16:16

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Among the more creative scriptural interpretations related to the fulfillment of prophecy in our day is one centering on Jeremiah 16:16. According to it, the “hunters” in this verse are the brutal pursuers of the Jewish people, such as the Nazis who systematically murdered millions of Jews. The “fishers,” on the other hand, are the quiet and gentle persons who assist the Jewish people, for instance, the Christians who presently are engaged in rescuing Jews from the republics of the former Soviet Union.

Can Gentiles Be Saved?

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Jesus’ broadminded approach resonates with contemporary sages who belonged to the School of Hillel. In their opinion, it is better to leave God-fearing Gentiles in their blessed state with only the necessity of the moral laws given to Noah.

Jesus’ Jewish Command to Love

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Jesus’ command to “love your enemies” was revolutionary! No one before him dared to raise such a high standard for the life of faith.

The Qumran Targum of Job as a Window into Second Temple Judaism: A Response to Randall Buth’s “Where Is the Aramaic Bible at Qumran? Scripture Use in the Land of Israel”

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Having recently studied the Qumran Targum of Job, I was especially interested in Randall Buth’s recent article on the relative lack of targums at Qumran. I would like to thank Buth for bringing this important topic to the website.

More on the Absence of an Aramaic Bible at Qumran: A Response to Jack Poirier’s “The Qumran Targum of Job as a Window into Second Temple Judaism: A Response to Randall Buth”

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I appreciate this opportunity to return to some issues concerning the Targum of Job that I raised in Where Is the Aramaic Bible at Qumran? Scripture Use in the Land of Israel and to evaluate Jack Poirier’s response entitled, The Qumran Targum of Job as a Window into Second Temple Judaism: A Response to Randall Buth.

Where Is the Aramaic Bible at Qumran? Scripture Use in the Land of Israel

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The documents at Qumran allow us to reconstruct Scripture access in the Province of Judea in the first century. From the evidence, we must assume that the Qumran community and the other Jewish communities in the land had direct access to the Hebrew Bible, generally understood it, and were interested in teaching that related directly to the Hebrew text.

“Give unto Caesar”: Jesus, the Zealots and the Imago Dei

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The retorts of Hillel and Jesus exemplify innovative developments in Jewish thought during the Second Temple period, developments that were established on the biblical notion that man was created in the image of God—Imago Dei (Gen. 1:27).

Were the Pharisees “Legalistic”?

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If we define legalism as “works righteousness,” then we cannot apply it to the Pharisees, because the Pharisaic understanding of piety was not based upon this concept.

Parables of Ill Repute

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In rabbinic parables God could be portrayed as behaving in a morally ambiguous manner: he might be a cruel slave owner or a heartless judge. In a few Lukan parables, Jesus also portrayed God as behaving scandalously. Often unsettling for modern readers, such portrayals added humorous elements to the plot and heightened the dramatic effect.

Us and Them: Loving Both

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In ancient Roman society, the taking of revenge on an enemy was considered a commendable deed, but Jesus encouraged his followers to “Love your enemies.”

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.

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.