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Yeshua in Context » Archive

Applying the Outer Circle Idea in the Gospels

I wrote a post today on “Messianic Jewish Musings” in which I try to apply the idea of the outer circle, which we find as a theme in Mark especially (and Mark 4 is the central place where this theme develops). Applications of gospel texts abound and there are infinite numbers of articles that could be written on gospel themes applied to life. In this post I am trying to take on one of the major problems in modern religion: crowd thinking and shallow affirmations of problem-free and populist faith. This is a nearly identical parallel to the outer circle phenomenon in Yeshua’s time. Click here to read “The Outer Circle Around Yeshua.” … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation

A Gospel Proficiency Test

How well-read are you in the gospels? The point of this test is to help you assess your own familiarity. It is a spiritual exercise and may motivate you to further reading and learning. This test is about what you can and should know from being a regular and thorough reader of the gospels in English translation. The test does not require knowledge from commentaries, Greek, Aramaic, or historical knowledge. It is a test of your proficiency in the English gospels. Take the test as a closed book exam. No open Bibles. This is a test of your retention of gospel stories and sayings (not a test of your ability to look things up!!). The test has fifty questions. I recommend either printing it out or pasting it into a text document. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reading Strategies, Study Tips

Passover – Last Supper – Crucifixion, #2

In Part 1, we talked about the discrepancy between Mark and John regarding the day on which Yeshua was crucified and whether the Last Supper was a Passover Seder or not. I will explain this again briefly below a different way. I should repeat that this problem is well-known in New Testament studies and if it is new to you, please don’t think I made it up or “discovered” it. I said there we have three basic options: (1) decide Mark is right and John wrong (Maurice Casey does this in Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel), (2) decide John is right and Mark wrong (McKnight in Jesus and His Death and Brown in The Death of the Messiah, Vol. 2), or (3) harmonize them in some way (I used to follow … Read entire article »

Filed under: Gospels as History, Last Supper, Passover

John 14:31, Why Close Reading Helps

The disciples are with Yeshua at the Last Supper from John 13:1 up to 14:31. The Last Supper in John has some similarities, but is on the whole quite different than the Last Supper accountsin Mark, Matthew, and Luke. But what matters here is that most readers don’t notice something unusual in John 14:31. Here it is and some comments on it after the jump: John 14:30-31 (RSV) I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Literary Features, Reading Strategies, Study Tips

Comparing the “Body” and “Blood” Sayings, Last Supper

As part of my ongoing look into and thought about the Last Supper and the five traditions we have about it, I am making some notes of comparison and contrast here. In my opinion the historical order in which the five accounts were written down is Mark, Paul, Matthew, John, and Luke. This is simplifying a somewhat more complex picture since John may have been written in an early edition with later additions and Luke’s account of the Last Supper, possibly, also has two layers. I am currently thinking of Mark being written in the 40′s. Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians is from the 50′s. Matthew is from the early 70′s. The early edition of John is somewhere in the late 70′s. And Luke is likely from the 80′s. With that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Last Supper, Passover

Passover – Last Supper – Crucifixion, #1

This is an excerpt from a post at Messianic Jewish Musings where I preface these notes and conclude them with some thoughts about the problem of finding discrepancies in the gospel accounts. If you’d like to read the fuller version, click here. The Last Supper Was / Wasn’t a Passover Seder To keep things simple, I am only comparing Mark and John’s accounts here. Matthew, Luke, and Paul follow Mark mainly (there is complexity overlooked in that statement, though, since Luke is influenced by John in some way–see Fitzmeyer’s commentary on Luke or Paul Anderson’s study on The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus for more about this). … Read entire article »

Filed under: Gospels as History, Last Supper, Passover

Kingdom as Social, Economic, Communal Resistance

I wrote on my main blog today about “Discipleship in [Coming] Hard Times.” See it here. The following is some evidence for the notion that Yeshua intended more than simply waiting for the World to Come, that the future kingdom is in some sense already here and disciples are to bring its realities into the here and now. Kingdom at Hand? What did Yeshua mean about the kingdom of God being at hand (soon to appear) in Mark 1:15? He followed this proclamation up by calling disciples, defeating evil spirits, and making people well. In the world to come there will be no evil, people will be well, and all will be as a family in union with each other and God. Yeshua was bringing future realities into the present. Note that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Discipleship - Formation, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Kingdom Present, Teaching of Yeshua

Guest Post: The Joy of Hearing

In response to my podcast and essay “The Joy of Reading” from last week, a friend in California wrote to say that some people learn by hearing. In his case, a busy working and commuting life leaves less time for reading, but plenty of time for hearing. I liked what he had to say so much, I invited him to offer it as a guest post. Hmmmm, I wonder if I should let him make a podcast out of it . . . The Joy of Hearing by Brian Richie After perusing through Rabbi Leman’s blog “The Joy of Reading” the other day I found myself once again breaking the 10th commandment. Will God be angered by my coveting of another man’s study time? Joking aside, I have found that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reading Strategies, Study Tips

Yeshua and the Mishnah on Carrying in the Temple

What did Yeshua oppose in his Temple protest action (Mark 11:15-19)? He opposed three things: (1) trading in the Temple courts (2) carrying vessels through (3) filling the place of prayer in such a way as to prevent the main activity which should be here. The second issue Yeshua had, which is stated directly in Mark 11:16, is also discussed in the later deliberations of the Mishnah (c. 200 CE). What is the problem with carrying things through the Temple? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Temple and Torah

Yeshua and Idolatrous Coins

Twice in Mark (with parallels in other gospels) Yeshua confronts hypocrisy about idolatrous coins. The issue of coins containing symbols of foreign worship (avodah zara) came up in an early rebellion against Rome in 6-7 CE (Horsley and Hanson, Bandits, Prophets, and Messiah, pgs. 196-7). The two conflicts of Yeshua involving idolatrous coins concern the Temple tax coinage and Yeshua’s protest action (Mark 11:15-19) and the entrapment question about paying the poll tax to Caesar (Mark 12:13-17). … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Temple and Torah

The Joy of Reading

This is the transcript for today’s podcast at Yeshua in Context (the podcast will post later today). I had an experience last night that gave me an idea for this podcast. I’ve been closely reading the gospels and books on the gospels and books on the historical inquiry into the life and message of Yeshua for several years now. It’s like swimming in a sea of information at times. But sometimes a surprise breaks through. Actually, it happens more often than sometimes. Last night I got one of those surprises reading Paul Anderson’s The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus. It reminded me of the joys of reading, especially the joys of reading the life and message of Yeshua. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Podcasts, Reading Strategies, Study Tips

Schweitzer on the Son of Man Problem

The meaning of “Son of Man” in Yeshua’s sayings is complicated. Does he mean “human being” in any or all of the sayings? Does he mean “present Messiah” by the term (i.e., is he saying that is presently the exalted human ruler of Daniel)? Or does he mean “future Messiah” (i.e., when he returns he will be the exalted human ruler of Daniel)? In 1906, Schweitzer explored the problem in depth from its linguistic, historical, and exegetical angles and wrote this spectacular comment: Jesus did not, therefore, veil his Messiahship by using the expression Son of Man, much less did he transform it, but He used the expression to refer, in the only possible way, to His Messianic office as destined to be realized at His “coming,” and did so in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Son of Man, Spectacular Commentary

Understanding Yeshua’s Temple Protest Action

The Temple protest action of Yeshua (a.k.a. the Temple cleansing, Mark 11:15-19) is poorly understood because few consider the details of this narrative and place Yeshua’s actions in the context of the Judaism of his time and the context of the Temple of Herod and the way it was run by the powerful Temple state. Mark’s account is the best of all four gospels to help us reconstruct what happened. This incident is of great importance, probably being what sealed Yeshua’s doom in the eyes of the Temple state and Rome. We should read Yeshua’s actions in the giant Temple complex as a commotion, not bringing the whole Temple activity to a standstill. Yeshua acted alone and did not ask his disciples to participate. In the comments that follow, I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Background to Gospels, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Gospels as History, Temple and Torah

Discipleship and the Fig Tree

The following commentary is important for illustrating a key point of discipleship for Yeshua. To understand the basis for these comments on Mark 11:12-14 and 20-25, it is important for me to disclose what I think is the meaning of Yeshua’s resistance to the Temple state. I do not, as some commentators and historians, think Yeshua was against the Temple itself, but against the corrupt administration which turned the Temple state into an instrument of oppression of the lower classes and used it as an instrument for power and position for themselves. After the commentary, I will suggest a few points of application for discipleship in our time. MARK 11:12-14, 20-25 Yeshua curses a fig tree (vss. 12-14). In between is Yeshua’s Temple protest action (vss. 15-19). The next morning’s lesson from the fig tree … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Forgiveness of Sins, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Temple and Torah