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Sadducean Scribblings #3

This series is about pointing accurately to some historical sources and contemporary historical scholars for insight into the Sadducees and chief priests. Understanding the characters in the gospels goes a long way to reading them accurately. E.P. Sanders (Judaism: Practice and Belief, 63 BCE - 66 CE) gives us some helpful and thoroughly researched pointers to the identity and character of the Sadducees. Here is my summary from pg. 318: (1) There is a "high degree of correspondence" between the aristocracy in Judea/Jerusalem and the Sadducean party. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , General , Sadducees

Sadducean Scribblings #2

Steve Mason (Josephus, Judea, and Christian Origins) lists some agreements about the Sadducees between the Gospel of Luke and Josephus. Here is my summary and paraphrase of his list: (1) The chief priests headed up the Judean aristocracy, the highest authorities in the land besides the Romans. (2) The chief priests exercised power through a sort of Senate called the Sanhedrin headed by the high priest. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Sadducees

June 2011 Happenings

Here in Atlanta, on June 5, I'm leading a small class on "Eyewitnesses in he Gospels" based on Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. You might consider bringing me to your area to give this five-hour seminar. The blog posts in this category will give an idea of the kind of material the seminar covers: With all of the reasons people have now for thinking the Yeshua stories are late, invented tales, don't you think some well-researched evidence for gospels sourced in eyewitness testimony could be a good thing? My summer project will be writing Yeshua for Small Groups, a study and discussion guide you can use in your congregation or group (or start a group). Releasing this summer will be The Messiah Yeshua Children's Series Volume 1. The artwork ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: General

Podcast Transcript: Peter's Footprints

This is the transcript for today's podcast. You can find the Yeshua in Context podcast at the iTunes store or at Recently an archaeology blogger, for whom I have nothing but respect although he is a skeptic when it comes to matters of faith, made a comment on his blog about the gospels being unreliable. He said that we find a pattern in human discourse about major events. Years after the event, people make up apocryphal stories. They often put the stories in the mouth of authority figures to give them more credibility and the stories pass down as if they really happened and were witnessed by important people. This, he said, is what the gospels represent. Maybe there are some genuine stories in there, but most are apocryphal and ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Disciples & Named Characters , Eyewitnesses , Formation of the Gospels , Gospels as History , Podcasts

Gematria in the New Testament?

Sometimes I can't resist skipping ahead in a book. Preparing for the "Eyewitnesses in the Gospels" seminar coming up June 5, 2011, here in Atlanta, I decided to start a second book by Richard Bauckham, The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John. When I saw the final chapter, "The 153 Fish and the Unity of the Fourth Gospel," I had to skip ahead. And here are some interesting facts that sound like a combination of the show Numb3rs and biblical scholarship . . . Gematria is the rabbinic term for finding numerical patterns in the biblical text. It is not a term that was used in the time the New Testament was written. But numerical patterns are definitely part of the biblical ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Featured , Gematria , Literary Features

Papias: Mark, Matthew, John #1

Just some notes related to my absorption of Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, in this case about chapter 9, "Papias on Mark and Matthew." Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 330) famously quotes Papias (c. 110) regarding some background to Mark and Matthew. Note that Papias is not correct simply because his comments are old, closer to the time the evangelists wrote. There are many ambiguities in what Papias says and Bauckham critically evaluates the statements rather than talking them as gospel. The main issues include: (1) How can Mark's gospel be from eyewitness testimony (Peter's) and be so different from another eyewitness source (the fourth gospel, thought by Bauckham to be the work of John the elder)? (2) In what way can we make sense of and find support for the idea that ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Eyewitnesses , Formation of the Gospels

Kingdom Winners (Podcast Notes)

I sometimes type up some notes or a script for the Yeshua in Context podcast. Last week's podcast on "Penitent Disciples" generated a lot of email. I should have typed up notes. In today's podcast, my topic is still within the same general range of subject matter: practical application of Yeshua's teaching. I will start by referencing the same books I mentioned last podcast (which many emailed to ask more about), one a Jewish book on ethical responsibility and the other a Christian book on the practical implications of Yeshua's kingdom teaching. I also have a blog series on my main blog called "Life of Loving Deeds" which builds on these same themes and draws from Jewish and Christian sources. REFERENCE: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Applying the Gospels , Discipleship - Formation , Kingdom Present , Podcasts , Preachable Points , Teaching of Yeshua

May 2011 Update

What is happening at I ran into a tough schedule and general weariness in April. I'm still recovering in May. My plan is to start filling in more information in some key categories and even rewriting articles to include a little more information or to improve them. I'm taking some time before I get back to any grand theorizing about formation of the gospels and eyewitness theory and so on. Look instead for me to re-post updated and improved articles in categories that need more information, like "Sadducees." Also, I'm preparing for the June 5, "Eyewitnesses in the Gospels" seminar here in Atlanta. It's just a half-day seminar. If you'd like to join us, email me at yeshuaincontext at gmail. -Derek ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: General

Sadducean Scribblings #1

There is an unfortunate misunderstanding, common in writings about the background of Jewish life in Yeshua's time, that the Sadducees were relatively unimportant compared to the Pharisees. Nothing could be further from the truth. And it is not hard to understand how this misunderstanding came about. ... Read entire article >>

Filed under: Background to Gospels , Sadducees

Why Are Some Characters Anonymous in Mark?

Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses is my preoccupation as I prepare for the June 5 "Eyewitnesses in the Gospels" seminar here in Atlanta. Check here for information and I hope a few of you reading this can come join us. The Passion narrative in Mark (probably chapters 11 and 14-16, says Bauckham) likely comes from an earlier written or oral source that Mark is using. Several characters in this section are oddly anonymous. They seem like the sort of people who would be named as eyewitnesses. These unusual anonymous persons include: (1) The owner of a certain donkey in 11:1-6 (on the theory that the lending of the donkey was pre-arranged). (2) Possibly the same man was the owner of the upper room for the Last Supper in 14:13-15. (3) A certain woman ... Read entire article >>

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