Jesus spent much of his ministry in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee. It was to the residents of the towns and villages bordering the lake that Jesus first preached, and he called his disciples from among the lake’s fishermen.
No two scholars ever share identical views on every question, and this is certainly true among the scholars of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research. Jerusalem Perspective Online, in reporting the work of the Jerusalem School, would not want to give the impression that scholars of the School are required to adhere to a party line.
For the last four decades, Mendel Nun has produced a steady stream of articles, monographs and books about the Sea of Galilee. Ancient harbors, water levels and fishing techniques are just a few of the subjects detailed in Nun’s work. His research has focused largely on the lake in late antiquity, and his 1964 book, “Ancient Jewish Fisheries” [in Hebrew], won the prestigious Ben-Zvi Prize.
Many scholarly approaches to the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth exist. The TIME cover story “Who Was Jesus?” (August 15, 1988) illustrated this well. Each approach stems from a different set of basic assumptions or presuppositions. For instance, many scholars today feel that it is impossible to know what the historical Jesus really said.
TIME magazine’s August 15, 1988 issue presented a sad picture of the current state of scholarly knowledge. After 200 years of “scientific” investigation into New Testament records of the life of Jesus, scholars are more divided than ever as to who Jesus was and who he thought he was. Even sadder, the Herculean efforts of generations of scholars have brought Jesus no nearer to the ordinary believer.
Like other sages of his time, Jesus demanded his disciples’ total commitment. They were to put the “kingdom of Heaven” (Jesus’ band of full-time disciples) before all else. They were to “hate,” that is, put second, father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and themselves, as well (Luke 14:26). Following Jesus to learn Torah from him was to take precedence over every other endeavor.
Hebrew words usually have many shades of meaning, and the Greek translator of the conjectured Hebrew “Life of Jesus” could convey only one sense of each Hebrew word’s meaning. When the standard Greek translation of a Hebrew word became fixed, Greek translators often employed this standard translation even when the Hebrew word it translated appeared with an obviously different meaning.