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.

“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).

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.”

The Synagogue the Centurion Built

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Would a Roman officer have had the means to finance the construction of a synagogue in the lakeshore town of Capernaum?

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.

The Cross: A Symbol of Solidarity

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For Christians the suffering that Jesus endured, especially on the cross, has far reaching spiritual, theological and doctrinal significance. Accordingly, the cross has assumed a place of prominence in both Catholic and Protestant symbolism.

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?

Jewish Laws of Purity in Jesus’ Day

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The sages were required to interpret the biblical commandments, including those dealing with ritual uncleanness of menstruants. Rabbinic regulations about impurity caused by menstruation form the background to several stories in the gospels.

…To Bury Caiaphas, Not to Praise Him

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At the end of December, 1990, one of the most significant New Testament-related archaeological discoveries ever made came to light in Jerusalem: the tomb of Caiaphas, high priest in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ death. Some of the ossuaries found in the tomb were inscribed with the name “Caiaphas,” the most magnificently decorated of them was inscribed with the name “Joseph bar Caiaphas.”

The Centurion and the Synagogue

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A Roman centurion’s concern for his slave focuses our attention on the presence of non-Jews in the land of Israel in the first century. A modern Jewish authority on the history of the period provides the story’s background.

Synagogue and Sabbath

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The detailed description of Jesus’ visit to the Nazareth synagogue found in Luke 4:16-21 provides substantial information about synagogue life and customs in the early first century C.E. An examination of this passage will help us understand Jesus more clearly and accurately. This account in Luke’s Gospel agrees with other contemporary and especially rabbinic sources. Together they provide a complete picture of the synagogue in that period.

Naming John the Baptist

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The naming of a child at his circumcision ceremony, as presented in Luke 1, is also mentioned in Luke 2:21 regarding the naming of Jesus. In fact, naming a child during the circumcision ceremony is still accepted Jewish practice. The naming rite includes a prayer for the child’s well-being.

John the Nazirite

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The Mishnah seems to indicate that the vow to abstain even from specific parts of the grape implies acceptance of the entire nazirite regimen. According to Nazir 1:2, even if one vows: “I will abstain from eating grape seeds and grape skins…, he becomes a nazirite.”