Did Jesus Call God “Abba”?

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In the past, some scholars have relied on the evidence of Jesus’ use of the word “Abba” to draw far-reaching conclusions about Jesus, the language he spoke, and his relationship to Judaism. As part of their ongoing research for the LOY project, David Bivin and Joshua Tilton revisited the evidence for Jesus’ use of “Abba” as an address to God. Tilton summarizes their findings here.

Jesus the Apostle

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Today we usually think of Jesus as the one who appointed apostles, and to hear of Jesus himself being referred to as an apostle can sound jarring. But while referring to Jesus as an apostle might seem strange to Christians in the twenty-first century, this designation for Jesus would not have sounded strange to early believers.

Sending the Twelve: Apostle and Sender

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The Apostle and Sender saying (Matt. 10:40; Luke 10:16) not only gave assurance to Jesus’ emissaries as he sent them out on their first healing and teaching mission, it also offers us an extraordinary glimpse into Jesus’ high self-awareness as the shāliaḥ, or official representative, of Israel’s God. In this segment of the Life of Yeshua commentary, David N. Bivin, JP’s editor-in-chief, and Joshua N. Tilton envision how Jesus’ Apostle and Sender saying may have been worded in Hebrew and explore the Jewish backgrounds of this profound saying.

May His Memory Be for a Blessing

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The recent death of author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel reminds us that we are living at a time when the survivors of the Holocaust are becoming fewer. The eyewitnesses to the horrors of the Nazi extermination program have done all they can do to entrust the memory and the responsibility of what happened to the next generations. How will we handle this awesome responsibility?

Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town

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David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton suggest a Hebrew reconstruction of Jesus’ instructions about how the twelve apostles were to behave when they entered a town. In this pericope we learn about the giving and receiving of hospitality among Jesus’ earliest followers. We also learn what may be wrong about the popular view that shaking the dust from the apostles’ feet was a symbolic action meant to signal to Jews who rejected Jesus that they were henceforth to be considered as Gentiles.

“Shake the Dust from Your Feet”: What Did the Apostles’ Action Signify?

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The standard interpretation of the apostles’ dust-shaking action proposes that Jesus turned the concept of the impurity of Gentile lands against the Jewish inhabitants of cities within the (ritually pure) land of Israel. This interpretation concludes that shaking the dust from their feet dramatically symbolized that Jesus’ apostles would henceforth regard the Jewish inhabitants of a city that had rejected their message as though they were cut off from Israel. It is time for this mistaken interpretation to finally be put to rest.

Jesus’ Attitude Toward the Samaritans

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In our recent attempt to propose a Hebrew reconstruction of Jesus’ instructions to his twelve apostles (see Sending the Twelve: Conduct on the Road), David Bivin and I were confronted with a racially sensitive issue. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told the apostles not to enter any city of the Samaritans (Matt. 10:5). Reconstructing Jesus’ words in Hebrew raised an uncomfortable question that, as far as we are aware, has never before been considered by New Testament scholars. The question is: What Hebrew word did Jesus use to refer to the Samaritans? This is a sensitive question because, of the two Hebrew alternatives, the more common term in ancient Jewish sources is a racial slur.

Sending the Twelve: Conduct on the Road

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In this segment of the LOY commentary David Bivin and Joshua Tilton consider the command to avoid Gentiles and Samaritans and the prohibitions against bringing travel gear for the apostles’ journey.

Feast of the Circumcision (New Year’s Day)

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The first of January, celebrated around the world as New Year’s Day, is also the eighth day of Christmas and, as such, the Feast of the Circumcision and Naming of Jesus. Of course, no one knows on what day of the year Jesus was actually born, but since it has become traditional to celebrate Jesus’ birth on the 25th of December, it follows that the first of January is the day on which Christians celebrate the circumcision and naming of Jesus.

Jesus and a Canaanite Woman

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Does the story of a Canaanite woman’s encounter with Jesus, which is found in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, show indications of having descended from a Hebrew source? Why did the author of Luke fail to include this story? Explore these questions and more in “Jesus and a Canaanite Woman.”

Sending the Twelve: “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves”

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Yeshua told his twelve emissaries: “There’s a huge harvest, but a shortage of harvesters. So send word to the owner of the field to hire more workers to help them finish the job.

“Go! But beware, I’m sending you out like a defenseless flock into a pack of ravenous wolves.”

The Significance of Jesus’ Words “Not One Jot or One Tittle Will Pass from the Law” (Matt. 5:18)

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“Jot” and “tittle” are not everyday words in English. What do they mean and how should Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:18 be understood? Jerusalem Perspective‘s editor-in-chief, David Bivin, tackles these questions on behalf of a subscriber’s request for help.

Sending the Twelve: Commissioning

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Yeshua summoned his twelve emissaries to Israel and he gave them power to drive out dangerous spirits and to heal every disease and sickness those spirits had caused. Then he sent them on ahead in pairs to every city he intended to visit.