Matthew 5:17: “Destroy” the Law

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When a sage felt that a colleague had misinterpreted a passage of Scripture, he would say, “You are canceling (or, uprooting) the Torah!” In other words, “You are so misinterpreting Scripture that you are negating or canceling part of it.” Needless to say, in most cases, his colleague strongly disagreed. What was “canceling” the Torah for one teacher was “fulfilling” it for another.

Jesus’ Use of “Amen”: Introduction or Response?

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It is not surprising to find the word “amen” attributed to Jesus in the Gospels. “Amen” appears elsewhere in the New Testament, notably in the epistles of Paul, who usually used it to conclude an expression of praise to God. Nor is it odd that “amen” was simply transliterated from Hebrew into Greek. Its use had become so common in Greek-speaking synagogues and churches that the New Testament writers generally felt translation unnecessary. What is unusual is to find “amen” used as the beginning of a statement rather than as a response.

“Prophet” as a Messianic Title

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There can be little doubt that Jesus viewed himself as a prophet, and that many of his contemporaries concurred.

Semitic Background to the Nain Story

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The short account of the resurrection of the widow’s son in Nain has a very Semitic feeling. If the Nain story was written originally in Greek, it is a very semitically flavored Greek. Several linguistic features of this story suggest that it may have been written originally in Hebrew.

Jesus’ “Harvest” Saying

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Although Christians often associate parables exclusively with Jesus, rabbinic literature reveals that this form of expression was well established as an instructional tool among Israel’s first-century teachers. The fact that Jesus used parables to teach is evidence that he was a characteristic sage functioning in a world of sages. Jesus’ efforts were directed toward bringing more and more people under God’s reign—or, in the rabbinic parlance he used, getting them into the “Kingdom of Heaven.” That was what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 9:37-38. Although he used different words, Jesus stressed the same points as the rabbinic saying in m. Avot 2:15: 1) although difficult, the work of the Kingdom of Heaven is all-important, and, 2) God is interested in the urgent completion of the work.

Hebrew Nuggets, Lesson 1: Jesus’ Hebrew Name (Part 1)

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In my view, Hebrew is the key to understanding the Jewish background to Jesus’ words. Jerusalem Perspective, therefore, features a serialized Hebrew course for beginners. Each issue will include a bite-sized Hebrew lesson.