The Historical Jesus, a Tanna? Charity and Deeds of Loving-Kindness in the Gospels and Early Rabbinic Thought

Articles 2 Comments

When nearly precise rabbinic parallels to stories and sayings in the Gospels exist, it may indicate that the Gospels are preserving traditions of the early Jesus movement and, perhaps, the historical Jesus.

Notes on the New Testament as a Witness for Broader Jewish Patterns in Jesus’ Times

Articles Leave a Comment

This essay probes a number of Matthean and Lukan contributions to the shared Synoptic narrative, in search of possible reflections of contemporaneous Jewish customs and beliefs with broader circulation.

Yohanan the Immerser Demands Repentance

& Articles 10 Comments

In Yohanan the Immerser Demands Repentance John the Baptist challenges his audience, which had gone through all the trouble of going out to the Jordan River to receive his baptism, to accept his even more important advice: to repent of their evil deeds and imitate the faithfulness of Abraham their father.

The Didache and its Relevance for Understanding the Gospel of Matthew

Articles 2 Comments

In this article, Professor Huub van de Sandt introduces readers to the fascinating treatise called the Didache, and discusses how this early Christian document, which was based on an earlier Jewish source, helps us understand the Gospel of Matthew.

Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven

Articles 14 Comments

In order to join Jesus band of full-time disciples the rich man would have to adopt a radically different lifestyle than the one to which he was accustomed.

“Treasure in Heaven”: Examining an Ancient Idiom for Charity

Articles 2 Comments

The growing value placed on charity in the first century C.E. cannot be overstated. As a new sensitivity developed within Judaism that challenged the compensatory “blessings and curses” paradigm of the Hebrew Bible (cf. Deut. 28) as a basis to serve God, so there was a shifting emphasis towards altruistic love embodied in the Levitical commandment, “…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself (וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ אֲנִי יי; Lev. 19:18).”

Matthew 5:19: The Importance of “Light” Commandments

Articles Leave a Comment

In the modern Hebrew translation that was published by the Israeli Bible Society in 1976, and revised in 1991 and 1995, Matthew 5:19 was rendered “…ha-mitsvot ha-ketanot…katon yikare’…gadol yikare’…” (the small commandments…small [smaller, smallest] he will be called…big [bigger, biggest] he will be called). It is highly probable, however, that in this context Jesus was speaking about mitsvot kalot (light commandments) and not about mitsvot ketanot (little or small commandments).

Jesus’ Jewish Command to Love

Articles 4 Comments

Jesus’ command to “love your enemies” was revolutionary! No one before him dared to raise such a high standard for the life of faith.

Beyond an Inheritance

Articles 2 Comments

From the early centuries of the Christian era to our day, expositors of the Gospels have struggled with Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom of Heaven, particularly with their temporal dimension. Will the Kingdom of Heaven appear one day in the future when the Son of Man suddenly comes? Or, has it been germinating like a seed with much potential for growth? Perhaps as C. H. Dodd suggested, it should be described as both realized and eschatological: germinal in reference to the past (and present), but explosive in regard to its coming manifestation.

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!”

The Rich Young Ruler Story: Personal Application

Articles Leave a Comment

God will probably test our commitment to him at its weakest, most vulnerable point or points, those areas in our lives that we have made more important than him.

The Shema in Early Jewish Teaching

Articles Leave a Comment

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4), known as the Shema, is a foundational teaching of both Judaism and Jesus.