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 Bar-Kochva Letters

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Documents discovered in the Judean Wilderness near the Dead Sea provide some insight into the use of Hebrew in the land of Israel not long after the time of Jesus.

Master and Disciple

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To understand the relationship between a first-century master and his disciples, one must appreciate the central role of Torah in ancient Jewish society.

The Two Great Principles and Sefer Pitron Torah

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The command to love one’s neighbor was already thought of during the Second Commonwealth as the essence of the second half of the Decalogue, in which sense it is quoted in Sefer Pitron Torah.

Sabbath Breakers

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Jesus’ observance of the commandments has been a topic of vigorous scholarly debate. However, when the Synoptic Gospels are carefully examined, one sees that Jesus never violated written or oral Torahs. But did his disciples?

Book Review: Michael Hilton and Gordian Marshall’s The Gospels and Rabbinic Judaism

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Based on studies held for lay audiences over the years by a Dominican priest and a Jewish rabbi, this book focuses on seven themes particularly relevant to Jewish-Christian dialogue today: The Great Commandment, the synagogue, the parable, halachah, the Sabbath, divorce and forgiveness.

A Friend of Tax Collectors

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Tax collectors were especially hated because they increased their profit by collecting more taxes than their masters actually demanded.

Fish, Storms and a Boat

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Adam gave names only to animals and birds, apparently avoiding fish entirely. The names of about fifty fish are mentioned in rabbinic literature, but the Torah merely makes a general distinction between clean fish, which Jews are permitted to eat (vertebrate), and unclean (without bones). Clean fish are generally recognized by the presence of fins and scales.

Your Money or Your Life

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Perhaps the most impressive thing about Jesus’ reply to the question about paying taxes to Caesar is that Jesus disarms his opponents and at the same time places a total demand on them.

The Kingdom of God: God’s Power Among Believers

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One of the greatest theological controversies in the last century concerns the meaning of the terms “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of heaven.” Because scholars have not given adequate attention to the fact that these are completely Hebraic terms, confusion has arisen concerning the period of time to which the Kingdom refers, who takes part in it and the exact nature of the Kingdom. Examining relevant Gospel passages in their Hebraic context will clarify what Jesus meant when he spoke of the “Kingdom of God” or the “Kingdom of heaven.”

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.

“Binding” and “Loosing” in the Kingdom of Heaven

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Jewish sages were called upon constantly by their community to interpret scriptural commands. The Torah forbids working on the Sabbath, for instance, but it does not define what constitutes work. As a result, the sages were required to rule on which activities were permitted on the Sabbath. They “bound,” or prohibited, certain activities, and “loosed” or allowed, others.

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.

Book Review: Brad Young’s Jesus and His Jewish Parables

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From the outset Young argues that the best way to understand what Jesus was teaching in his parables is to try to hear him as he spoke to his people. The author argues that this can best be done by analyzing the parables of Jesus together with those told by other rabbis of his day.

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).