The scourge of anti-Semitism has not departed from the Church. Though recently there have been encouraging signs, many Christians still harbor prejudice against Jews. The Synoptic Gospels may have helped spawn this prejudice. They may even play a continuing role in perpetuating it.
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?
The “king parable” is a special form of parable often used by Jesus. Here is the opening of a “king parable” from rabbinic literature: “The matter may be compared to a king who arranged a banquet and invited guests to it. The king issued a decree that stated, ‘Each guest must bring something on which to recline.’ Some brought carpets, others brought mattresses or pads or cushions or stools, while still others brought logs or stones. The king observed what they had done, and said, ‘Let each man sit on what he brought.'”
One of the many interesting results of synoptic research is the discovery of parallels between rabbinic literature and the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Rabbinic parallels enhance our understanding of the sayings of Jesus, and vice versa. Jesus’ parable below is more understandable when compared with its rabbinic parallels, and the rabbinic sayings are illuminated by Jesus’ parable.
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.”