Articles Comments

Yeshua in Context >> Archive

Yeshua as Torah, Part 1

Not only should we understand Yeshua in his time and his context, but we should also devote thought to applying Yeshua into modern contexts. The various Christianities are the usual focus of this re-contextualization of Jesus, but what of Judaism today? How does Yeshua fit into the context of a Judaism filled with 2,000 years of water under the bridge, halacha, theology, commentary, mysticism, and so on? This is the first post in the category (many more to come) "Judaism Today & Yeshua." The more Torah the more life . . . he who has acquired for himself the words of Torah has acquired for himself life in the World to Come. -Pirkei Avot 2:7. The Torah said, I was the architectural instrument of the Holy One, blessed be he . . . ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Besorah/Gospel/Good News , Identity of Yeshua , Judaism Today & Yeshua , Temple and Torah

Look for the Unusual in Yeshua's Healings

There are twenty-six healing miracles recorded in the four gospels. The complete list will be included in the upcoming Yeshua in Context Sourcebook. One thing to look for to make sense of the life Yeshua lived in all its mystery and potential for meaning, is the unusual, the gaps in the story or the parts that don't exactly fit. The following is not meant to be a complete list, but gathers examples of trends in these gaps in Yeshua healing stories. You may discover some of the layers of meaning of the healings in these: ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua , Identity of Yeshua , Miracles

Reasons for Faith in Yeshua

This post is a bit less about the background of the gospels and more about theology and apologetics. But its basis is a theological reading of the gospels and it should help readers see themes to look for. 1) The foreshadowing of the Great Coming Resurrection in Yeshua's resurrection. Resurrection (the bodily raising of the dead at the end of the age) is an idea only referred to in later passages in the Hebrew Bible, but the idea became a staple of classical Jewish faith (not just Christian faith). Pinchas Lapide's famous book (The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective) concludes that Yeshua truly rose but then reinterprets this in a way that denies he is Messiah. Lapide, in my opinion, overlooks what occurred to Paul on the road to Damascus (where ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Applying the Gospels , Discipleship - Formation , Eyewitnesses , Identity of Yeshua , Reading Strategies

Abraham in the Gospels

What does it mean to be an Israelite? This is the sort of question that was on the mind of people in Yeshua's time. Rome had power. Israel was a subjected people. But God was expected to show up any time. And being a child of Abraham meant privilege in God's eyes. Israel's story begins with Abraham, the one who was chosen by God. His children would be in covenant relationship with God without regard to merit (free election) and forever without condition (irrevocable election). Being an Israelite meant secure covenant standing with God. Yet the story of Abraham is not merely about national privilege for Israelites, but blessing to all the families of the earth as well. At several places in the gospels we see how this dynamic idea, being a ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Abraham , Background to Gospels , Gentiles , Salvation and Covenant

Study Methods, Gospels and Life of Yeshua

The way we study the gospels and the life of Yeshua matters. Uncritical methods lead to uncritical results. Much reading of the Bible and the gospels misses much of the wealth. There is value in simple reading which finds peace and leaves aside complexities and problems. All reading is potentially beneficial and much of the life and message of Yeshua can be absorbed without reaching deep into the toolbag. But there is so much more which is available with good methods. The following list of methodological principles is specifically directed at the reading of the gospels, but could apply to other parts of the Bible as well. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Beginners , Reading Strategies , Study Tips

The Narrow Road

Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it. -Matthew 7:13-14, NET The beauty of Yeshua's teaching here is easily lost through a number of false assumptions: (1) Yeshua's main concern is where people will dwell in the life to come (2) Yeshua teaches that few will ultimately find a good afterlife (3) Destruction and life are terms referring primarily to the afterlife Each of these assumptions can be shown false. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Discipleship - Formation , Life to Come , Teaching of Yeshua

Reading Strategies for the Gospels

It could be helpful for many people to have a list of common issues in reading the gospels which can be improved by a realization of their Jewish context and an accurate assessment of Judaism and Yeshua's relationship to it. The following is not necessarily complete, but it is a start. Each one of the items on this list will eventually have an article expanding on its meaning. Avoid all false assumptions of Jewish vs. Christian antagonism. Look for a both-and reading instead of either-or. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Beginners , Erasing Anti-Judaism , Reading Strategies , Study Tips

Essentials for Discipleship (Formation)

This is a preliminary list which may be added to over time or modified. Replacement at the level of ideas (truths to replace falsehood and subtle errors). Example: Yeshua sought to replace his disciples' notion that "Messiah's coming is to bring retribution on Israel's enemies and to glorify us nationally" with a different notion that "Messiah's coming is about healing Israel and the nations and the path begins with suffering." In our time, a notion that needs replacing is "Yeshua came to reward me with an opulent afterlife experience." ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Discipleship - Formation , Teaching of Yeshua

The Eye as a Lamp

Matthew 6:22-23 and Luke 11:34-36 are confusing for moderns. We think of the eye as a window, letting in light. But ancients could think of an eye another way, as lights shining the interior light of the body. There are many examples in the Bible and in Greek texts. Psalm 38:11 is one example, "My eyes too have lost their luster" (see also Prov 15:30). This has nothing to do with the scientific or pre-scientific way of looking at vision. It is the observation, which moderns also make, that a person's eyes show their inner character. So what does Yeshua's saying mean and what does it have to do with the evil eye? ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Idioms , Sermon on the Mount , Teaching of Yeshua

Galilee: Jewish or Gentile Place?

Galilee in Yeshua's time has gotten a bad reputation as a place of Greek cynics and Roman officials, with a weak Jewish culture. There are two sources, one biblical and one a trend in archaeological thought, that have led to this misunderstanding. But the evidence is overwhelming: Galilee was a Jewish region, fiercely loyal to the Torah, and which had only pockets of Greco-Roman settlements. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Geography

Yeshua's Attitude Toward the Pharisees' Lawkeeping

Curiously, people have gotten the idea that Yeshua felt many Pharisees were too rigid in their lawkeeping. Actually, he decried a tendency toward laxity in lawkeeping as well as an inclination to misplaced priorities. Whether or not the Pharisee in the famous (and dangerous for its readers and hearers, since the parable tempts us to judge the Pharisee) Pharisee and Tax Collector parable (Luke 18:9-14) was supposed to be prototypical or not, Yeshua has more to say about Pharisees being lax in lawkeeping than rigid. In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua says he comes to fill up the Torah (Matthew 5:17, "fulfill" is a misleading translation best done away with). ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Erasing Anti-Judaism , Law, Torah , Pharisees

Preachable Points: Identity Stories

Looking for short series of teaching or sermon series outlines? That's what Preachable Points will be. How does a four-week series on the meaning, authority, and identity of Yeshua sound? It could be a real faith-builder. Here are some ideas and a few links to fill in the content of the messages. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Identity of Yeshua , Preachable Points

Identity Stories in the Gospels

If you click the category "Gospel Genres," you will find a post called "What are the elements of the gospels?" It is a list that will be in the upcoming Yeshua In Context Sourcebook, a cornucopia of helpful lists for studying the gospels that I am building and working on. Don't you wish you could take the kind of info that is here on with you and your Bible as you go out to study in whatever place inspires you? That's what the sourcebook will be. Now, many stories (you could say all of them) in the gospels are about Yeshua's identity. But some stories in particular are not teachings, they are not symbolic actions, they are things that happen to Yeshua and reveal his identity. What are the top ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Beginners , Gospel Genres , Identity of Yeshua

Simon of Cyrene, Why You Should Know Him

We've already introduced the idea that some characters in the gospels are named because they became eyewitnesses, telling and retelling their story, in the early Yeshua community. See "Cleopas, Why You Should Know Him" under the "Eyewitnesses" category at the right. This helpful way of looking at named characters in the gospels as all thanks to Richard Bauckham and his book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Simon of Cyrene is interesting for several reasons. One of them is that Mark also names his sons, Alexander and Rufus (15:21), while Matthew (27:32) and Luke 23:26) do not. What could be the reason? ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Disciples & Named Characters , Eyewitnesses , Gospels as History , Spectacular Commentary

Interpreting the Temptation

What is the main issue in the Temptation narrative? Is it about Yeshua's messianic mission? Or is it something else? Aside from the many connections to Moses' and Israel's story, the temptation account definitely has a message about Yeshua's identity. Is it what people think? R.T. France in the New International Commentary on the New Testament series is most helpful. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua , Divinity of Yeshua , Identity of Yeshua , Temptation

Temptation, Moses, Wilderness

Matthew especially develops layers of symbolism, Yeshua as the New Moses and Yeshua as Ideal Israel. The temptation story (Matthew 4:1-11) is bursting with such symbolism. See Dale Allison, The New Moses: A Matthean Typology for details. The list of parallels is not only interesting, but a great clue to the meaning of the temptation story itself. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Ideal Israel Theme , Identity of Yeshua , New Moses Theme , Temptation

Cleopas, Why You Should Know Him

A strange thing happens at the end of Luke's gospel (several strange things, in fact). Yeshua, unrecognizable even by his disciples, walks with two of them on a road to Emmaus. Which two? Only one is named: Cleopas. Why is only one of them named? And what else do we know about Cleopas? Here is where we get into some fascinating material from Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Cleopas is perhaps the most interesting case. And this evidence is the kind of simple, memorable material to silence skeptics who doubt completely that the story of Yeshua has a solid historical basis. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Disciples & Named Characters , Eyewitnesses , Gospels as History , Spectacular Commentary

Yeshua and Sacrifices

A curious question to ask is whether Yeshua ever offered sacrifices in the Temple? It's a curious question because the gospels never depict him doing so. Our off-the-cuff answer to the question may reveal a lot about our assumptions concerning Yeshua. Another question might be, "Why don't the gospels ever depict Yeshua offering a sacrifice or mention that he did so?" ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Erasing Anti-Judaism , Featured , Law, Torah , Sacrificial System , Temple and Torah

Why the Beatitudes Are Much Loved

The Delitzsch Hebrew-English version (DHE), a forthcoming translation of the gospels from the Hebrew version of Franz Delitzsch, renders Matthew 5:3 as follows: O the gladness of the poor in ruach, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Yeshua makes desirable what is commonly regarded as unpleasant or pathetic. Our emotions are stirred by such talk. The imaginations and hopes of peasants sitting on the Galilean grass were stirred. It is something greatly to be desired, a reversal so needed by those of us who deeply feel our poverty of spirit. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua , Beatitudes , Besorah/Gospel/Good News , Kingdom Future , Kingdom Present , Teaching of Yeshua

The Kingdom Has Reached You

Luke 10:9 is variously translated "the kingdom of God has come upon you" or "has come near to you." Luke Timothy Johnson (The Gospel of Luke, Liturgical Press: 1991) renders it "has reached you." Yeshua indicated that in some ways the kingdom of God arrived with him and in others that there would be a delay. Luke 10:9 is one of the "now" aspects of the kingdom of God in the "now and not yet" duality. How does Luke 10:9 inform us of one of the senses in which the kingdom had already reached Yeshua's generation? What does it tell us about the kingdom in our day and in the future? ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua , Besorah/Gospel/Good News , Kingdom Future , Kingdom Present

Literacy in Yeshua's Time

There is a myth, owing its origins to certain passages in the Talmud (put in writing about 500 CE) and a few in the Mishnah (200 CE), that in Yeshua's time all Jewish boys went to school and learned to read. This myth has been propagated in a number of well-meaning writings about the Jewish background of Yeshua's life. What is the real story about literacy in Yeshua's time? ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Language and Literacy

Seekers of Smooth Things

Although modern readers often (erroneously) think of Pharisees as hardliners, bent on interpreting the rules as strictly as possible, even in the early days (before the rabbinic movement which developed in continuity with them) they were thought of by some as liberal, compromisers, making the way of the law too easy. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Essenes , Pharisees

His Feet On the Mount of Olives

Luke 24:50-51 (NET): Then Jesus led them out as far as Bethany . . . he departed and was taken up into heaven. Acts 1:9, 12 (NET): . . . while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud hid him from their sight . . . then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called the Mount of Olives . . . ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Geography , Kingdom Future , Return of Yeshua

The Teacher, A Parallel in Chronicles

Adela Yarbro Collins (Mark: A Commentary. Fortress, 2007) discusses in her introduction some of the aspects of Yeshua's identity. One of the identifying roles of Yeshua is teacher. In this comment, she uncovers a little known parallel from the Hebrew Bible, of teachers sent out to travel as itinerants through the land teaching the people: ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua , Background to Gospels , Identity of Yeshua , Spectacular Commentary , Teaching of Yeshua

Yeshua, Driven as a Prophet

Mark 1:12 (NET): The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. What is this phenomenon of Yeshua being compelled or carried to the desert by spiritual force? The word for "drove" is the same used for driving out evil spirits in many verses in the gospels and for removing the speck from the eye in Matthew 7:4. Yeshua was driven, removed, cast into the desert. Why? ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Identity of Yeshua