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Galilean vs. Judean in Matthew 22

The following notes are based on a combination of observation about Matthew 22 and reading Richard Horsley's Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee. The potential correlations are my own hypothesizing and do not come from Horsley's material. Richard Horsley makes the case that too little attention has been given in historical Jesus research to the latest information and guesses about religious and political differences between Galilee and Judea. Suddenly statements such as in the fourth gospel about the "Passover of the Jews" begin to make more sense (Passover at the Temple run by the Judeans and based on Judean interpretations of the Torah and the obligations of Israel). What follows is a summary of some main points from Horsley's book (restated in my own words and greatly simplified) and a comparison with ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Galilee , Geography , Herodians , Judea , Pharisees , Sadducees

Josephus on the Messiah Concept

Israel went to war with Rome starting in 66 CE. It all started when some Greeks sacrificed birds outside a synagogue and the Romans did nothing about it. The chief priests in Jerusalem ceased offering sacrifices in honor of Caesar and a bitter war resulted, ending in Jerusalem and the Temple in ruins and a vast number of Jews and Romans dead. Josephus, a Galilean general, captured by the Romans, who became a collaborator with the Romans though always a defender of the greatness of his people, explains in a famous passage in The Jewish War (also called Bellum Judaicum or BJ for short) what one of the root causes of the war was. It was a concept of a Jewish ruler who would actually rule the world: ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Josephus , Messiah

The Misunderstood Kingship of Yeshua

The following commentary is on Matthew 21:1-11. I consider the larger context of Zechariah 9 and how it affects our reading of the Triumphal Entry. I'd say that even modern commentators have not given this sufficient attention in many cases. Zechariah's prophecy of the king coming on a donkey is a critical view of kingship looking ahead to the messianic age when the ideas of dominion change into peace. In the early part of Zechariah 9, the warring peoples of the Mediterranean coast will become peaceful and submit to God's authority in the messianic era. Then, in 9:9, Daughter Zion's king (Jerusalem in the age when promises are fulfilled) comes not as a war-maker, but bringing peace, not on a warhorse, but a donkey like the Davidic kings of old. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua , Enactments and Symbolic Actions , Identity of Yeshua , Kingdom Future , Kingdom Present

The Mountain in the Sermon

The following information is derived from a paper by Eric Ottenheijm of the University of Utrecht presented at the 2010 Society of Biblical Literature in the Matthew section. In Matthew 5:1, Yeshua went up on "the mountain." No one knows which mountain, although there is a lovely hill which is the traditional spot. More important than a physical location, though, is understanding the allusion of "the mountain." There are a number of mountains of great significance in the Hebrew Bible. The echoes of Exodus and Isaiah in particular add depth and meaning to the Sermon on the Mount. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Beatitudes , Besorah/Gospel/Good News , Identity of Yeshua , New Moses Theme , Sermon on the Mount , Spectacular Commentary

The Danger of Messianic Misunderstanding

Readers of the gospels are repeatedly confronted with Yeshua's ambiguity, his commands to secrecy, his constant refusal to be defined in straightforward categories. What strategy can we, as readers, employ to absorb the meaning of Yeshua's identity and his instruction for us in carrying on the messianic mission? The story of the good confession and Yeshua's warning to be secret about it is instructive. Why, when Peter confesses accurately who Yeshua is, must Yeshua follow the revelation with a warning? What the disciples encountered in personal involvement with Yeshua is analogous to what we as readers of the gospels encounter. The warning is the same. What do we learn from this story about the danger of messianic misunderstanding? ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Applying the Gospels , Identity of Yeshua , Reading Strategies , Study Tips

"Yeshua (Jesus) is Just another Religious Figure"

In the category, "Answering Objections," I will address common reasons people either deflect serious consideration of the identity of Yeshua or deny that he has any relevant identity for them or for humanity. If you are not religious, the idea of some great importance being attached to the figure of Yeshua might seem ludicrous. Religious figures (Buddha, Mohammed, Zeus, Krishna, Israel's God) are a dime a dozen. Why should Yeshua command any special inquiry or attention? If you are religious and, in fact, Christian, the same question may be at the back of your thoughts. Are we overemphasizing this guy from Galilee? If you are religious and not Christian or Messianic Jewish, you may be absolutely convinced that Yeshua is not worthy of such devotion, study, and faith. So, is Yeshua just another ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Answering Objections , Beginners , Gospels as History , Identity of Yeshua

Targums, Aramaic Bible Paraphrases in Yeshua's Time

The gospel writers occasionally use Aramaic, such as the famous talitha cumi of Mark 5:41 or Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani? of Matthew 27:46 and the corresponding Eloi of Mark 15:34. In spite of some evidence of popular use of Hebrew in certain circles, it is nearly unanimous amongst scholars that Aramaic was the common language of Israelites in Yeshua's time (and Hebrew a religious language). The Targums are paraphrases of the Bible (loose translations with comments inserted, rather like study Bibles). Our manuscripts of the Targums are mostly from the Middle Ages. But were there Targums in use in Yeshua's time? ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Aramaic , Background to Gospels , Hebrew Bible as Testimony , Language and Literacy

Testimonies to Yeshua in the Hebrew Bible

Many scholars think that during the time between the life of Yeshua and the writing of the gospels there were various collections, oral and perhaps written, of sayings, maybe deeds, and perhaps of source texts related to Yeshua from the Hebrew Bible. Certain texts from the Israelite prophets, Torah, and Psalms came to be associated with various aspects of Yeshua's life. Some people have wrongly thought of these as part of a collection of "Messianic prophecies," as if the Hebrew Bible intended to detail a coming figure with prophetic foretellings. That picture is simplistic. But it is interesting to see the main texts and how the gospels use them. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Hebrew Bible as Testimony