Shopping on the Jericho Road

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The Jericho Road is no more than a thirty-minute drive from where we live. Yet the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) can be as distant as the period of time in which it happened. Such a dramatic experience—passing up someone in dire need—would never happen to us! But how about someone who is not in such dire need? Let’s consider someone who needs just a little help.

Parables of Ill Repute

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In rabbinic parables God could be portrayed as behaving in a morally ambiguous manner: he might be a cruel slave owner or a heartless judge. In a few Lukan parables, Jesus also portrayed God as behaving scandalously. Often unsettling for modern readers, such portrayals added humorous elements to the plot and heightened the dramatic effect.

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?

The Power of Parables

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Jesus was a master teacher. Therefore, it is significant that he relied heavily on parables. What is it about parables that makes them so moving and memorable?

Lilies of the Field

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In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentioned “lilies of the field.” Tulips, poppies, daisies and other wildflowers have been suggested as candidates for “lilies of the field.” In this photo essay we discover the subtleties of his message about these beautiful, short lifespan flowers.

Remember Shiloh!

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Without paying attention to ancient Jewish exegesis one can easily miss the full impact of Jesus’ statement, “den of thieves.” Was Jesus solely addressing the vendors, or was he aiming at bigger game?

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.

Parables and Foundations

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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.

Jesus and the Essenes

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The Essenes’ favorite name for themselves was “the sons of light.” In the Synoptic Gospels the term appears only in Luke 16:8, and the reference is not very flattering. Was Jesus making an ironic reference to the Essenes?