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Yeshua in Context » 1a – Intro to the Gospels

How We Know Mark Was the Earliest Gospel

How did students of the four Gospels determine that the earliest of them is Mark? The answer is fairly simple and the case is overwhelmingly clear. How certain is the conclusion? It is so certain that only a small percentage of scholars hold to any other theory. The large agreement among different interpreters of the Gospels that Mark came first is for a simply reason. That reason is what happens when you lay side by side the three “Synoptic” Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These three Gospels have been called “Synoptic,” a word which means “seeing together,” because they share in common a large amount of material, follow the same basic order, and stand apart from John, whose Gospel is unique among the four. … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Formation of the Gospels, Gospels as History, Study Tips, Synoptic Relationships

Yeshua’s Exalted Identity (Synoptic Gospels)

Many think the idea of Yeshua as an exalted figure (prophet, Holy One of God, Messiah, divine-man) is primarily the domain of the Gospel of John. But in the synoptic gospels (Mark-Matthew-Luke) we read quite a bit about the identity of Yeshua as something greater than a rabbi: … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Divinity of Yeshua, Identity of Yeshua, Messiah, Son of Man

Symbolic Actions and Kingdom Enactments

Isaiah spent most of his career in sackcloth, but for three years went about barefoot and in his undergarments as a sign of what was to come (Isa 20:1-3). Ezekiel laid on his side for three hundred and ninety days (Ezek 4:4-5). Zechariah broke two staffs over his knee and threw thirty shekels into the treasury of the house of the Lord (Zech 11:7-14). These are symbolic actions, a kind of prophetic message in and of themselves. Yeshua also engaged in symbolic actions and what I call kingdom enactments. Symbolic Actions Declaring High Authority The Triumphal Entry (Mk 11:1-11; Mt 21:1-11; Lk 19:29-44; Jn 12:12-19) – Riding deliberately into the city as per Zechariah 9 with crowds hailing him, Yeshua is making a claim of messianic identity. The Temple Cleansing (Mk 11:15-17; Mt 21:12-13; … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Aims of Yeshua, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Gospel Genres, Identity of Yeshua, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Miracles, Son of Man

List: Nature Miracles of Yeshua

In some cases these miracles are curiosities, like the coin from the fish (some think this may be a parable rather than a literal event). But in others, these are among the most majestic portion in the gospels. Yeshua calming the storm and walking on water is not like the miracles of Elijah and Elisha. These are unprecedented. The claim by eyewitnesses that such things happened is amazing. Against the idea that these are fictive tales devised by a movement to magnify the glory of their founder, the gospels are written in the style of Greco-Roman biographies (unlike the later rabbinic tales) and name their eyewitness sources according to the accepted style: Water to wine – Jn 2:9 Catch of fish – Lk 5:6 Calming the storm – Mk 4:39, Mt 8:26, Lk … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Divinity of Yeshua, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Gospel Genres, Miracles

List: Exorcisms by Yeshua.

There are no exorcisms in the Bible before Yeshua (note: unless you are in a church that reads the Apocrypha as scripture, in which case Tobit has the first exorcism). The few exorcisms in Acts seem to be about the Presence of Yeshua validating the movement in the early days. I take it that exorcism is primarily a sign of the kingdom (reign of God) brought to the fore in the clash between the “Holy One of God” and the forces of evil who ruin creation. There are only six exorcisms in the gospels: The Man in the Capernaum Synagogue, Mark 1:23-27 (Lk 4:33-36). The Gerasene Demoniac, Mark 5:1-20 (Mt 8:28-34; Lk 8:26-39). The Syro-Phoenician Woman’s Daughter, Mark 7:25-30 (Mt 15:21-28). The Deaf and Mute Spirit, Mark 9:14-29 (Mt 17:14-20; Lk 9:37-43). The Blind and … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Aims of Yeshua, Divinity of Yeshua, Gospel Genres, Kingdom Present, Miracles

List: Healing Miracles

There are twenty-six distinct healing miracles. I exclude exorcisms here (that list is next). I made this list long ago, based on some source I no longer remember. The idea was to list the healing miracles in chronological order. That is no longer something I believe can be done (the gospels, except to some degree John) have no interest in what order events happen. Perhaps at some future time I will edit this list and find a different order of arrangement: Royal official’s son – Jn 4:46 Exorcism in Capernaum synagogue – Mk 1:26, Lk 3:35 Peter’s mother-in-law – Mk 1:31, Mt 8:14, Lk 4:38 Leper Cleansed – Mk 1:41, Mt 8:3, Lk 5:13 The paralytic – Mk 2:3, Mt 9:2, Lk 5:18 Lame man Bethesda pool – Jn 5:5 Man with withered hand – Mk 3:1, … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Divinity of Yeshua, Gospel Genres, Miracles

List: Teachings Unique to Luke

Anointed to Proclaim to the Poor – Lk 4:18-21 Prophets and Gentiles – Lk 4:24-27 Two Debtors – Lk 7:41-43 Satan Falls as Lightning – Lk 10:18-20 Good Samaritan – Lk 10:25-37 One Thing – Lk 10:41-42 Judge at Midnight – Lk 11:5-13 Rich Fool – Lk 12:16-20 Watchful Servants – Lk 12:36-38 Faithful Manager – Lk 12:42-48 Barren Fig Tree – Lk 13:6-9 Lowest Place at the Banquet – Lk 14:7-11 Banquet for the Lowly – Lk 14:12-14 Great Banquet – Lk 14:15-24 Counting the Cost – Lk 14:25-33 Lost Sheep – Lk 15:1-7 Lost Coin – Lk 15:8-10 Prodigal Son – Lk 15:11-32 Dishonest Manager – Lk 16:1-13 Lazarus and the Rich Man – Lk 16:19-31 Humble Servants – Lk 17:7-10 Unjust Judge – Lk 18:1-8 The Pharisee and the Tax Collector – Lk 18:9-14 The Minas – Lk 19:11-27 … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Gospel Genres, Synoptic Relationships, Teaching of Yeshua

List: Teachings of Yeshua

Repent for the Kingdom is at Hand – Mt 4:17 (Mk 1:15). Beatitudes – Mt 5:3-12 (similar to Lk 6:20-26). Salt and Light – Mt 5:13-16 (similar to Lk 11:33-36, Mk 4:21-22) Law and Prophets – Mt 5:17-20 Antitheses (You have heard it said) – Mt 5:21-48 (similar to Lk 6:27-36) Righteousness, alms, and prayer in secret – Mt 6:1-8 The Lord’s Prayer – Mt 6:9-15 (Lk 11:2-4, shorter form) Fasting in Secret – Mt 6:16-18 Treasure in Heaven – Mt 6:19-24 (similar to Lk 12:33-34) Do Not Be Anxious (seek first the kingdom) – Mt 6:25-34 (similar to Lk 12:22-32) Judging Others – Mt 7:1-6 (similar to Lk 6:37-42, Mk 4:24) Ask, Seek, Knock – Mt 7:7-11 Golden Rule – Mt 7:12 (Lk 6:31) The Narrow Gate – Mt 7:13-14 (Lk 13:24) Good and Bad Fruit – Mt 7:15-20 (similar to Lk … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Gospel Genres, Teaching of Yeshua

Parables, Gospel by Gospel

What parables are in three gospels? In two? In only one? The following list will help you think about how the parables are distributed and also to find them easily. PARABLES IN ALL THREE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS New Cloth – Mk 2, Mt 9, Lk 5 New Wine – Mk 2, Mt 9, Lk 5 Mustard Seed – Mk 4, Mt 13, Lk 13 Sower – Mk 4, Mt 13, Lk 8 Wicked Tenants – Mk 12, Mt 21, Lk 20 Fig Tree – Mk 13, Mt 24, Lk 21 PARABLES IN TWO SYNOPTIC GOSPELS House on the Rock – Mt 7, Lk 6 Leaven – Mt 13, Lk 13 Lost Sheep – Mt 18, Lk 15 PARABLE IN ONLY ONE GOSPEL Barren Fig Tree – Lk 13 Net – Mt 13 Good Samaritan – Lk 10 Pearl of Great Price – Mt 13 Great Banquet – … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Gospel Genres, Parables, Teaching of Yeshua

Reading as a disciple.

There are many valid things to look for during a reading of the gospels. In some ways, the highest level of reading is reading as a disciple. In Mark 4:10-11, those who were surrounding Yeshua — in addition to the Twelve — asked him questions. They were the inner circle. They were those who sought to be disciples (he had more than Twelve disciples). To them was given the secret of the kingdom of God. Perhaps the secret is, simply put, to follow and believe and implement. Discipleship reading might look like the following: 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 … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Reading Strategies, Study Tips

The Yeshua In Context Handbook

This is a post that will grow over time. Think of it as an online (and thus, free) book. I had planned to write something like this and publish it. Instead, I am adding bits and pieces at a time to this post (all the chapters will be linked from here with new ones added periodically). Perhaps it will be available as an eBook when I have posted a sufficient number of articles. Here is the growing Table of Contents (more to come): What is in the gospels? (Genre). Study Methods and Tips: Beginner to Intermediate. Reading as a disciple. Parables, Gospel by Gospel. List: Teachings of Yeshua. List: Teachings Unique to Luke. List: Healing Miracles of Yeshua. List: Exorcisms by Yeshua. List: Nature Miracles of Yeshua. Symbolic Actions and Kingdom Enactments. Midrash in the Gospels, the Example of Matthew 2:15. Yeshua’s … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Beginners, Featured, Reading Strategies, Study Tips

Study Methods and Tips: Beginner and Intermediate

What are the best ways to study the gospels? The following suggestions are not mutually exclusive. You might participate in more than one method: READING IMMERSION METHOD: Read Mark first. Then Matthew. Then Luke. Then John. This is the very likely order in which the gospels were written. Notice that Mark ends at 16:8. Anything after 16:8 printed in whatever translation of the Bible you are reading is based on late manuscripts and was added by scribes. Did Mark ever have an ending beyond 16:8? No one is sure. Notice what Mark does not have that Matthew and then Luke add: infancy narratives and resurrection narratives (Mark ends with the empty tomb). Notice that Luke’s infancy and resurrection narratives are quite different from Matthew’s. Notice how John’s gospel is largely stories … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Beginners, Reading Strategies, Study Tips

What is in the gospels? (Genres)

This is a rather imperfect list (some categories overlap) but one that helps us to know the kinds of material found in the gospels: Infancy narratives John the Baptist narratives Teaching narratives Parables Sayings Enactments and symbolic actions Miracle narratives Healing (and exorcism) miracles Nature miracles Identity stories Dispute narratives Passion narratives Resurrection narratives … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Beginners, Gospel Genres