Parables of Ill Repute

Articles 2 Comments

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.

Learning Is for Life

Articles Leave a Comment

Are any words of Jesus better known than these: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32, KJV)? This ringing declaration holds a prominent place in Western thought, and has exerted a powerful and even prophetic influence upon the American way of life in the last two centuries. Incised on our hallowed U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., it expresses the best of our ambitions and ideals as a nation “under God.”

Insulting God’s High Priest

Articles 1 Comment

Recent research has shown that Sadducees, not Pharisees, were responsible for the death of Jesus. An incident recounted in the Book of Acts provides a glimpse of the Sadducean high priests’ corrupt behavior. Little wonder the Sadducees were despised by the common people.

The Best Long-term Investment—Making Loans to God

Articles Leave a Comment

In our day, the 20th-century disciple of Jesus feels the challenge of his call to lay up treasure in heaven more than ever. In the face of an emerging global society drunken with consumerism and materialism, Jesus’ words shatter the silence: “You cannot serve God and mammon!”

Stewards of God’s Keys

Articles Leave a Comment

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?

“And” or “In order to” Remarry

Articles 2 Comments

In the whole of Luke’s gospel, there is just one context in which the verbs “divorce” and “marry” appear together. That passage—only one verse—ought to contribute to a correct understanding of Jesus’ attitude toward divorce and remarriage; however, there exists no scholarly consensus on the passage’s meaning.

The Power of Parables

Articles 2 Comments

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?

“Do Not Resist Evil”: Jesus’ View of Pacifism

Articles 1 Comment

The idea that Jesus taught pacifism arose primarily due to the misunderstanding of a number of his sayings. When viewed from a Jewish perspective, the gospel passages on which pacifism is based point to a quite different conclusion.

Jesus and the Hasidim

Articles 7 Comments

Jesus, who was quite close to the Hasidim and perhaps even involved with some of them, does not reflect Galilean boorishness or ignorance, but rather the dynamism and ongoing creativity of Jewish life in Galilee.

“Jehovah”: A Christian Misunderstanding

Articles 5 Comments

In any attempt to understand the Bible, there is no substitute for a knowledge of ancient Jewish custom and practice. For example, the term “Jehovah,” which is found in many Christian translations of the Bible, originated due to Christian lack of awareness of Jewish custom.

The Shema in Early Jewish Teaching

Articles Leave a Comment

A careful investigation of early sources suggests that Deuteronomy 6:4 must have been the first portion from the Hebrew Bible that Jesus committed to memory.

The Two Great Principles and Sefer Pitron Torah

Articles 2 Comments

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.

The Kingdom of God: God’s Power Among Believers

Articles 7 Comments

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.”

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

Articles 1 Comment

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.

Book Review: Marvin Wilson’s Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith

Articles 1 Comment

For too long discussion of the Jewishness of Jesus has remained academic. Few scholars have had the interest or ability to unfold the practical meaning of the Gospels’ Jewish roots for today’s Church. Marvin Wilson, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College, has finally filled that void with Our Father Abraham. And the result is simply revolutionary.

First-century Discipleship

Articles 4 Comments

Like other sages of his time, Jesus demanded his disciples’ total commitment. They were to put the “kingdom of Heaven” (Jesus’ band of full-time disciples) before all else. They were to “hate,” that is, put second, father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and themselves, as well (Luke 14:26). Following Jesus to learn Torah from him was to take precedence over every other endeavor.