One aspect of the cultural context of the Gospels that is often overlooked is the role played by animals. In this article I will explore the significance of chickens in first-century Jewish culture and the part they play in the story of Jesus.
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).”
Despite the popularity of the modern suggestion that the Synoptic Gospels are the end result of several decades of oral transmission, the internal evidence indicates that this is not the case. Dozens of pericopae in Matthew and Luke translate to Hebrew so easily and so idiomatically that we must conclude that the Synoptic Gospels are the result of literary transmission.
Shortly after Robert L. Lindsey’s eureka moment (“Luke is first!”) on February 14, 1962, and at Professor David Flusser’s urging, Lindsey submitted the following article to the editors of Novum Testamentum. The article was published in the journal’s November 1963 issue as “A Modified Two-Document Theory of the Synoptic Dependence and Interdependence,” Novum Testamentum, Vol. 6, Fasc. 4 (November 1963): 239-263. Lauren S. Asperschlager, David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton have updated and emended the article to bring it in line with the modifications Lindsey made to his hypothesis over the following 30 years. Pieter Lechner has created the tables and graphics.
Ever since 1991 when I first received my back-issues of JP in the mail, I’ve remembered Bivin’s “To Destroy The Law” article from Issue #6. I had grown up with several teachings about Jesus’ fulfillment of the law of Moses, but this article clearly pointed out that if Jesus had communicated this in his mother-language and those words were translated into English we would probably have a completely different understanding of Matthew 5:17. It’s that pesky middle-language of Greek which so taints our understanding of Jesus’ message.
In translating the Greek texts of the Gospels into Hebrew, Dr. Lindsey found that many passages could be rendered literally with almost no change of word order. The result was a Hebrew version that often sheds fascinating light on the meaning of Jesus’ words, so much so that Lindsey came to believe the Greek sources Matthew, Mark and Luke used were rendered very literally from Hebrew originals. This Hebraic perspective sometimes explains Gospel passages that have long been considered difficult or ambiguous. In the following article,Lindsey presents one example of what has been considered a uniquely idiosyncratic expression of Jesus, but which a Hebraic perspective reveals to be a familiar phrase from the Scriptures.
My wife, Lenore, and I have dealt with a great many people who, because of various circumstances in their life, are unable to feel loved—by God or anyone else. In fact, they often describe how they feel as “numb” or “empty.” They often view themselves as unattractive, unlovable, and worthless. This is in spite of the fact that many of these people are considered successful in their chosen field.
With the emphasis on relativism and situational ethics in popular culture, one might wonder if there truly are any absolutes to guide us as Christians. Perhaps we can excuse any or all behavior or lifestyle on the basis of “that’s just the way God made me—besides, Jesus paid the price for my sin so everything’s cool!”
Readers gain a new insight into Jesus’ homily on worry (Matt. 6:25-34//Luke 12:22-31) as it is compared with two other ancient Jewish texts. All three sources describe gentiles as people obsessed with the basic necessities of food and drink and clothing. One of Tilton’s conclusions states “In this way Jesus shows himself to be a master craftsman of his trade, an expert teacher of the Scriptures, not a quaint or simple peasant.”