The Good Samaritan

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The parable of the Good Samaritan came as a response to the lawyer’s question, “And who is my neighbor?” The lawyer wanted Jesus to draw a circle defining who is inside, and therefore the neighbor I must love, and who is outside. Jesus, by using Leviticus 19:34, ingeniously turned the lawyer’s question on its head.
This article is a sample chapter of Marc Turnage’s, Windows into the Bible: Cultural and Historical Insights into the Bible for Modern Readers (Springfield, Mo.: Logion, 2016), which will be released at the end of March 2016.

Character Profile: Joseph Caiaphas

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The high priest Joseph Caiaphas is known not only from the New Testament Gospels as the high priest who opposed Jesus and his early followers, but also from Josephus the Jewish historian who lived in the first century C.E. In this video Marc Turnage provides an historical sketch of this pivotal character.

“It Is Said to the Elders”: On the Interpretation of the So-called Antitheses in the Sermon on the Mount

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Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount deserves endless study, and the more one studies ancient Jewish sources, the clearer the meaning of these words of Jesus becomes.

Character Profiles: Gamaliel and Nicodemus

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Gamaliel saved the lives of Jesus’ apostles, and also influenced Paul’s ethics, even after Paul’s conversion. Nicodemus belonged to the Hillelite anti-Zealot circles to which Jesus himself was close.

The “Hypocrisy” of the Pharisees

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Without reading the Scriptures carefully, and without a familiarity with Second Temple-period extra-biblical sources, a simple reader of the New Testament might assume that a majority of the Pharisees were hypocrites and that the Pharisees as a movement were indeed a “brood of vipers.” As a result of this common Christian assumption, the word “Pharisee” has become a synonym for “hypocrite” in the English language.

Evidence of an Editor’s Hand in Two Instances of Mark’s Account of Jesus’ Last Week?

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It has been noted that in instances where Mark’s editorial hand restructured his story, Luke has preserved a more primitive form of the account, a form that is independent of Mark’s influence. Gospel scholars need to properly evaluate Mark’s editorial style and acknowledge that frequently a theological agenda influenced his rewriting.

The Value of Rabbinic Literature as an Historical Source

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Scholars in Israel tend to view synoptic gospel texts, and other Jewish texts from the Second Temple period, through Hebraic and rabbinic eyes. Many Israeli scholars, including the late Professor Shmuel Safrai, are in the habit of first translating synoptic texts to Hebrew to see with what ease they go into Hebrew; and then secondly, comparing the resultant translation with rabbinic sources in an effort to determine whether culturally such and such was ever said or done in rabbinic times. Unfortunately, it has become common in many scholarly circles outside Israel to dismiss rabbinic literature as having little validity as background to the synoptic gospels since rabbinic sources were compiled long after these gospels were written. In this article Safrai provides convincing evidence that much of later rabbinic literature faithfully reflects the situation in Second-Temple times. He demonstrates just how important the rabbinic material is for gaining a fuller understanding of the Gospels.—DB.

From Ezekiel 17:24 and 21:3 to Luke 23:31: A Survey of the Connecting Jewish Tradition

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“For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:31; KJV) Passages such as this demonstrate the indispensability of situating the teachings of Jesus within the context of Second Temple Period history, culture, literature, and language.

Links with Tabernacles and Hanukkah in the Gospel Accounts of Palm Sunday

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The Gospel writers wished their readers to be reminded of Hanukkah when they read the account of Palm Sunday.

“They Didn’t Dare” (Matt 22:46; Mark 12:34; Luke 20:40): A Window on the Literary and Redactional Methods of the Synoptic Gospel Writers

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Mark’s placement of Jesus’ “no longer dared” comment is very awkward: first, because the comment comes in the middle of a lovefest between Jesus and a scribe; and second, because the comment immediately follows Jesus’ appreciation of the scribe’s wisdom: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

Selected Examples of Rewriting in Mark’s Account of Jesus’ Last Week

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It has been noted that in instances where Mark’s editorial hand restructured his story, Luke has preserved a more primitive form of the account, a form that is independent of Mark’s influence. Gospel scholars need to properly evaluate Mark’s editorial style and acknowledge that frequently a theological agenda influenced his rewriting.

Us and Them: Loving Both

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In ancient Roman society, the taking of revenge on an enemy was considered a commendable deed, but Jesus encouraged his followers to “Love your enemies.”

Insulting God’s High Priest

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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.

Perspective on the Caiaphas Tomb

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At the end of December 1990, one of the most significant New Testament-related archaeological discoveries ever made came to light in Jerusalem. Park construction workers accidentally exposed a Second Temple-period tomb, which archaeologist Zvi Greenhut of the Israel Antiquities Authority was called to excavate. Some of the ossuaries found in the tomb were inscribed with the name “Caiaphas,” and it soon became clear that this was a tomb belonging to the Caiaphas family.

…To Bury Caiaphas, Not to Praise Him

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At the end of December, 1990, one of the most significant New Testament-related archaeological discoveries ever made came to light in Jerusalem: the tomb of Caiaphas, high priest in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ death. Some of the ossuaries found in the tomb were inscribed with the name “Caiaphas,” the most magnificently decorated of them was inscribed with the name “Joseph bar Caiaphas.”