Gospel parables are probably the most widely identifiable teaching form of Jesus. However, readers seldom recognize Jesus’ sophisticated skill as a first-century Jewish parabolist. Indeed, many Christians are unaware that his use of story parables is one of the strongest links between Jesus and contemporary Jewish piety. His parables also demonstrate that Jesus taught in Hebrew.
As a small boy growing up in Alabama I had a deep love of God and a real hunger to know him better. By the age of eight I had read the entire Bible. But, like most people, I often struggled to understand what the Scriptures were saying. Many verses didn’t seem to make sense.
Once while listening to some people praise the grandeur of the Temple, Jesus remarked, “The days are coming when there shall not be left here one stone upon another stone” (Lk. 21:6). Those who heard his sober remark could not help but to ask, “When will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?” Jesus’ answer to these questions is found in Luke 21:8-9, 20-24 and 28-31. Often Christians have missed the thrust of Jesus’ concluding parable about the fig tree (Lk. 21:29-31), because it includes a sophisticated Hebrew wordplay and is intricately interwoven with first-century Jewish ideas. Here, I hope to shed light on both the ingenuity of Jesus’ answer to the questions about the Temple’s demise and the meaning of his message of hope.
Hebrew University professor, the late David Flusser once remarked that Jesus’ teachings could be summed up in one word: “Relax!” The more you think about that, the more you realize Flusser is right.
Compared to Greek and English, Hebrew has few adjectives. As noted in “Hendiadys in the Synoptic Gospels,” one way Hebrew overcomes this scarcity of adjectives is by linking two nouns with the conjunction “and.” Grammarians call this usage “hendiadys,” two terms connected by “and” forming a unit in which one member is used to qualify the other. The Hebrew language developed a second way of overcoming its limited inventory of adjectives: the construct state. This grammatical structure is similar to hendiadys in that two nouns are juxtaposed. In contrast to hendiadys, where two nouns are linked together by the conjunction “and,” construct state nouns have no connective between them. They stand in a relationship of possession: the first of the nouns is possessed by the second. “House-family,” for instance, is understood in Hebrew to mean “house of a family,” that is, “a family’s house.”
In the whole of Luke’s gospel, there is just one context in which the verbs “divorce” and “marry” appear together. That passage—only one verse—ought to contribute to a correct understanding of Jesus’ attitude toward divorce and remarriage; however, there exists no scholarly consensus on the passage’s meaning.
While translating the Gospel of Mark to modern Hebrew, pastor-scholar, the late Dr. Robert Lindsey was forced to conclusions that ran counter to his seminary training. If correct, his conclusions have the potential for revolutionizing New Testament scholarship. In this article, Lindsey condenses the results of a lifetime of research.
“Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” (Luke 17:37; KJV), is certainly one of the most enigmatic of Jesus’ sayings. Commentators have noted that Jesus employed a proverbial saying to reply to his disciples’ question; however, they differ about what the proverb means in this context.
Writings that were originally composed in Greek tend to have a higher ratio of de to kai than writings that have been influenced by a Semitic language.
Knowledge of the different ways of joining stories in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic can help us understand the history and relationships of the Synoptic Gospels. The three synoptic writers use different linguistic methods to glue their stories together. None of these is purely Greek, and all show Semitic influence. Matthew shows a specifically Aramaic influence, and in this article we will see how he uses an Aramaic conjunction as the glue to hold stories together.
There is a vast difference between the approach of the Essenes toward unbelievers, and that of Jesus and his disciples. The Essenes practiced extreme separatism, particularly forbidding economic relations with outsiders. Whoever wanted to follow Jesus, however, had to live in brotherly love with the outside world and not withdraw from society. This emphasis on relations with others not only guaranteed Jesus’ followers friendship with outsiders, but helped open non-believers’ hearts to Jesus’ message of love.