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Yeshua in Context » Beginners

Pharisees

The Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” -Mark 2:24 You may have heard, wrongly, that the Pharisees were the rabbis and that they basically ran the show in Yeshua’s time. You may have heard that the Pharisees . . . were all hypocrites made up 613 rules which were oppressive led the synagogues and governed the way Jews lived for God. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Beginners, Josephus, Law, Torah, Pharisees

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

VIDEO, Where did the gospels come from?

People make some assumptions based on pious tradition about where the gospels come from. The truth is more interesting. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Beginners, Disciples & Named Characters, Eyewitnesses, Formation of the Gospels, Gospels as History, Literary Features, Study Tips, Video

The Basics of the Gospels Series, #1

You will need some information from outside of the gospels and the Bible. This principle is not evident to everyone. Recently I posted something positive on Facebook about the Pharisees. I met with fierce resistance from a well-meaning Christian (actually, I’m not so sure he was well-meaning). He started posting comments with exclamation points and some words capitalized. Didn’t I know Pharisee means hypocrite and they are of their father the devil? And he had a Bible verse to back up each point. I told him that from knowing a little history we could see that the Pharisees were not what many people think. They were a smaller and far less influential group than many think. They were not all hypocrites and neither were their teachings all opposed to Yeshua’s way. I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Beginners, Reading Strategies, Study Tips

The Purpose of Parables

As part of a presentation I gave on September 18 at a “Studying the Jewish Gospels” event here in Atlanta, I developed an outline of “20 Ways to Read the Life of Yeshua.” Among my twenty pointers were things like, “Forget that you know the end of the story,” followed by examples in which onlookers and disciples can only be understood within the story as confused, as people who don’t know for a second that Yeshua is to be the dying savior and rising lord. And another of my pointers, which forms the basis for this post: “Understand the genre of parables in rabbinic literature.” And the golden text for learning about this subject: David Stern, Parables in Midrash (note: this is not the David Stern who is famous in the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Background to Gospels, Beginners, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Erasing Anti-Judaism, General, Gospel Genres, Literary Features, Parables, Study Tips, Teaching of Yeshua

Greece, Rome, Israel #3

And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and sought a way to destroy him; for they feared him, because all the multitude was astonished at his teaching. –Mark 11:18 The gospel did not just happen. The events which marked the onset of a new stage in the world’s redemption happened in a time and place with three main cultural backdrops. Parts 1 and 2 introduced Greek and Roman influences on these events, both in Yeshua’s time and the later time the gospels were written. What about conditions and social structures in Israel itself? What are some basics readers need to know about conditions and groups in Israel? What about Jewish concerns in the times of the evangelists? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Background to Gospels, Beginners, Formation of the Gospels, Gentiles, Ideal Israel Theme, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Law, Torah

Yeshua the Galilean

Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? -Acts 2:7 The miracle of that special Shavuot (Pentecost) at the Temple was something very human: the appearance of the Spirit of God in individual theophanies on the disciples. Many onlookers seem to have missed the tongues of fire that Luke says rested on the disciples. What they noticed was the strange speech. Humble Israelites were speaking languages from far away lands. And it occurred to the onlookers as more than strange that these powerfully endued speakers were Galilean. It was the Judeans, not the Galileans, who emphasized scribal education. If anyone might be expected to have such learning of languages, and possibly if anyone were to be chosen as a prophet, most would expect this to happen to Judeans and not Galileans. What is … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Beginners, Galilee, General, Preachable Points, Temple and Torah

Beginner’s Guide to the Gospels #1

One writing project I keep working on in the background is a sort of sourcebook for gospels study. In past mentions of this project I had called it “The Yeshua in Context Sourcebook.” I’ll probably call it something else by the time it is published. It will likely be an eBook and I may offer a print version as well. Yeshua in Context blog readers will also see much of this content appear on the blog . . . for free. But one day you might want to have it all together in organized form. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, here is a an early article from the upcoming book. Chapter 1.1 – ORDER AND RELATIONSHIPS IN THE GOSPELS Before you get too far in reading and thinking about the gospels — their history, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Beginners, Formation of the Gospels, Study Tips

What Defiles

This is a transcript of a podcast I did today. It is a bit of a sermon, but I think it accurately applies Mark 7 to our context. You can see the podcasts on iTunes or click here to go directly. Yeshua said in Mark 7:15, “there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.” I have always thought that this passage was one of the most penetrating, well-phrased, to-the-heart-of-the-matter statements of what Yeshua stood for. It’s actually only part of what Yeshua had to say on the matter. It’s what he said to the crowds, the outsiders, the ones who did not get private instruction as part of the inner circle. Mark 7:15 … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Beginners, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Kingdom Present, Podcasts, Teaching of Yeshua

“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

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

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

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 YeshuaInContext.com 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

The Beginning of the Gospel

Gospel is a word with many layers. It is a later English coined word (God-spell) used for the Greek evangelion and the Hebrew besorah. The simple translation would be good news. The basic picture is of a messenger who comes to a town with good news: “We are safe; the enemy is defeated.” … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Beginners, Besorah/Gospel/Good News

The Importance of Reading the Gospels

For some who have been Yeshua-followers for a long time, the gospels are a neglected segment of the Bible. They are sort of the “Old Testament of the New Testament.” There is a suspicion, unspoken, that they represent a pre-Christian view of God, faith, and life. They talk about Passover, almsgiving (tzedaka in Jewish terminology), Temple, and deeds of righteousness. A certain segment of Christianity is ambivalent about these things. We need to read the gospels for information, clarity, even for survival. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Beginners, Return of Yeshua, Study Tips

What are the elements of the gospels?

When studying the gospels, it helps to know the kinds of material you will find and to think about classifications of different passages. I made this imperfect list for myself toward the beginning of my study. It is included in the (upcoming) Yeshua in Context Sourcebook. I think it is helpful for beginners (and not-so-beginners) to think about the differences in kinds of material we find about Yeshua. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Beginners, Gospel Genres, Study Tips

Yeshua Talks About His Identity

A commonly heard line about Yeshua goes, “He never claimed to be Messiah or divine.” In the three books known as the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Yeshua talks about his exalted status many times. Sometimes people think it is only in the fourth gospel (John) that he is presented as more than simply a man. Here are a few examples (citations are from the NET Bible): All things have been handed over to me by my Father. Matthew 11:27. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Beginners, Identity of Yeshua