To understand the relationship between a first-century master and his disciples, one must appreciate the central role of Torah in ancient Jewish society.
The command to love one’s neighbor was already thought of during the Second Commonwealth as the essence of the second half of the Decalogue, in which sense it is quoted in Sefer Pitron Torah.
Most English translations consistently translate the Greek word Ioudaioi as “Jews.” But this inflexible translation has often contributed to an anti-Semitic interpretation of the New Testament.
Athough the concept of Messiah is importance both in Judaism and Christianity, the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ (maSHIaḥ, messiah) was not often used in Jesus’ day. Jesus and his contemporaries rarely spoke of the Messiah by that name, but preferred to use other more oblique terms. In the New Testament, maSHIaḥ almost always appears in its Greek translation: χριστός (christos, anointed with oil; Christ). The Greek transliteration μεσσίας (messias) appears only twice, in John 1:41 and 4:25.
One of the greatest theological controversies in the last century concerns the meaning of the terms “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of heaven.” Because scholars have not given adequate attention to the fact that these are completely Hebraic terms, confusion has arisen concerning the period of time to which the Kingdom refers, who takes part in it and the exact nature of the Kingdom. Examining relevant Gospel passages in their Hebraic context will clarify what Jesus meant when he spoke of the “Kingdom of God” or the “Kingdom of heaven.”
Jewish sages were called upon constantly by their community to interpret scriptural commands. The Torah forbids working on the Sabbath, for instance, but it does not define what constitutes work. As a result, the sages were required to rule on which activities were permitted on the Sabbath. They “bound,” or prohibited, certain activities, and “loosed” or allowed, others.
The late Dr. Robert Lindsey, pioneer translator of the Gospels into modern Hebrew, synoptic researcher and pastor of Jerusalem’s Narkis Street Congregation, resided in Israel for over forty years. His discoveries challenge many conclusions of New Testament scholarship from the past two hundred years. Lindsey created a new approach to the study of the Synoptic Gospels. Here, Lindsey provides an introduction to the field of synoptic studies and the “Synoptic Problem.”
Research by Robert L. Lindsey has helped clarify the process by which gospel texts were preserved and transmitted. Luke desired, he said in his prologue, to present to Theophilus an “orderly” account. Such ordering is to be noted in Matthew and Mark, as well. These attempts at ordering help us understand why so many of the synoptic gospel stories appear in a different chronological order from gospel to gospel.
Jewish teachers of first-century Israel lacked the sophisticated methods of mass communication we have today. Consequently, the sages of Jesus’ day spent much of their time traveling throughout the country, much like the biblical prophets, to communicate their teachings and interpretations of Scripture.