“He Shall Be Called a Nazarene”

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One of the titles given to Jesus was “Nazarene.” Where did the title come from, and did it have any special significance? Ray Pritz traces the title’s origins.

Literary Languages in the Time of Jesus

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Not only was Hebrew the most prevalent spoken language in the land of Israel during the first century, it was also the language in which most literary works were written.

Spoken Languages in the Time of Jesus

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Professor Safrai presents an overview of the three languages used in the land of Israel during the days of Jesus, and concludes that Hebrew was the primary language spoken by the Jewish residents at that time.

The Two Great Principles and Sefer Pitron Torah

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A passage in Sefer Pitron Torah, a medieval miscellany dealing with Leviticus 19, the Holiness Chapter, buttresses the conclusions arrived at in “The Decalogue and the New Testament.” If we could be sure that this passage is based on older, ancient material, and that it was not influenced by the New Testament, the area of conjecture in our conclusions would shrink, or perhaps vanish altogether.

Book Review: Michael Sokoloff’s A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the Byzantine Period

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From the third to the seventh century A.D., the Jews of Palestine used Aramaic as their primary spoken and written language. This dialect has been of considerable interest to Christian scholars, and some have argued that it is the closest dialect to the Aramaic which Jesus would have spoken.

Hebrew Nuggets, Lesson 24: Messiah (Part 2)

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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.

Your Money or Your Life

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Sometimes a translation can be dramatically changed when the translator learns more about the culture in which the original events took place. Luke 20:25 is one such instance.

Pilgrimage in the Time of Jesus

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Luke states that Joseph and Mary made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem every Passover. The requirement of pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem is mentioned in the passages of Scripture that deal with three annual festivals: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths.

By the Finger of God

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Jesus’ ministry of miracles and deliverance occasionally brought him into conflict. One of the most intriguing controversies concerned the accusation by a group of Pharisees called “Jerusalem scribes” that Jesus had accomplished the healing of a dumb man with the aid of the prince of demons.

Understanding Parables

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The rabbis taught, “Do not underestimate the value of parables, because by means of parables a person can master the words of Torah” (Song of Songs Rabbah 1:8).

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.

Jesus’ Education

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A careful reading of the New Testament suggests that Jesus was a scholar learned in the Scriptures and religious literature of the period, which was vast and varied. Yet the popular Christian view of Jesus is that he was a simple, uneducated character from the provinces. This misunderstanding is due in part to a number of disparaging statements made about Nazareth and the Galilee such as, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46), and “Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?’” (Acts 2:7).

“Prophet” as a Messianic Title

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Jesus spoke of himself using many messianic titles from Scripture. Names such as “Son of Man,” “Green Tree” and “King” all have their origins in messianic passages from the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus also was referred to by such messianic titles as “Lord” (Luke 5:8), “Son of God” (Luke 1:35) and “Son of David” (Luke 18:38). One title applied to Jesus is not so clearly messianic: “Prophet.” There can be little doubt that Jesus viewed himself as a prophet, and that many of his contemporaries concurred. Jesus claimed to be a prophet when he quoted the popular saying, “No one is a prophet in his own village,” going on to compare himself to Elijah and Elisha (Luke 4:24-27). He made the same claim when he said, “It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). But what did the people of Nain have in mind when they exclaimed, “A great prophet has been raised in our midst!” (Luke 7:16)?

Hebrew Nuggets, Lesson 1: Jesus’ Hebrew Name (Part 1)

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In our view, Hebrew is the key to understanding the Jewish background to Jesus’ words. JerusalemPerspective.com, therefore, features a serialized Hebrew course for beginners. Each issue will include a bite-sized Hebrew lesson.