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
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.
Did Jesus Save the Life of an Adulteress?
A fresh look at the text and at the historical evidence yields a version of the story of the Woman Caught in Adultery that turns out to be surprisingly different from the way it is usually portrayed.
Yohanan the Immerser Demands Repentance
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
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.
Why Do the Wicked Prosper?
Why do the wicked prosper? No one knows, but ancient Jewish thinkers reminded the faithful that appearances are not always what they seem.
Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven
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
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
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
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
Could it be that the original integrity of Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of Heaven was later compromised by the presence of other expectations of a messianic-eschatological character that circulated promiscuously in early Christian communities?
The Best Long-term Investment—Making Loans to God
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
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
“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.