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Yeshua in Context » Gospel Genres

Applying Messiah’s Kingdom Parables, Part 2

. . . birds came along and devoured it . . . it withered away . . . it yielded no grain . . .” -Mark 4:4, 6, 7. Parables are usually connected to a scripture text or several of them. They often explain something puzzling about God and his relation to his people, or something unstated or mysterious in a text. Yeshua understood a startling truth found in Isaiah 6, one that naturally leads any thoughtful reader to ask questions. Modern readers of the Sower parable (Mk 4; Mt 13; Lk 8) tend not to realize that the parable is commenting on a text. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Discipleship - Formation, Gospel Genres, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Literary Features, Parables, Paradox, Teaching of Yeshua

Applying Messiah’s Kingdom Parables, Part 1

To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables. -Mark 4:11 “Kingdom” is not “afterlife” exactly and it is not “people of Israel” or “people of the Church.” The modern reader tends to inject meanings into Yeshua’s words that are not there. Looking in the words of Messiah for a message on how to qualify for a good afterlife, it is natural for many to see in the word “kingdom” a code word for “going to heaven.” This is a problem compounded by the fact that Matthew, the best-known gospel for many Bible readers, uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” instead of “kingdom of God.” But, as many will rightly point out, “heaven” here stands for “God.” It is a euphemism, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Discipleship - Formation, Gospel Genres, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Parables, Teaching of Yeshua

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

“My Son” as Midrash

It’s a famous example of what seems to be the unusual, perhaps questionable, use of the Jewish scriptures by the apostles. It occurs in a very noticeable location — the birth narrative of Yeshua in Matthew. Some parts of the Bible get very little traffic, but the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are pretty much highways and not little goat trails. So people are bound to notice some odd things about Matthew’s “this happened in order to fulfill” sayings. One of the two weirdest (there is one that is even weirder) is Matthew 2:15. Is Matthew able to read and understand the Hebrew Bible? Is he guilty of a strange and arbitrary reading simply to justify his belief in Yeshua of Nazareth? Of course the author of Matthew knows what … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Detailed Commentary, Formation of the Gospels, Gospel Genres, Hebrew Bible as Testimony, Ideal Israel Theme, Intertextuality in the Gospels, Literary Features

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

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

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

Three Pillar Stories in Mark

Mark’s gospel is organized as a series of short scenes in a style similar to the chreia of Greek rhetoric, descriptive scenes that show something about the character. Scene after scene, Mark’s chreia serve the purpose introduced in Mark 1:1, to show that Yeshua is Messiah and Son of God. I think the demonstration of Yeshua’s identity has a double edge: to the Jewish and Greco-Roman world. The following is a clue to Mark’s organization. C. Myers (Binding the Strong Man, Orbis, 1988) calls the baptism event one of three “pillar stories” around which Mark organizes his gospel. The other two are the transfiguration (9:2-8) and crucifixion (15:33-41). What do these stories have in common and how to they organize Mark’s gospel? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Gospel Genres, Literary Features, Reading Strategies

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

Parables That Make it into All Three Gospels

Which of Yeshua’s many parables make it into all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)? It’s an interesting list. Perhaps all three evangelists saw these as indispensable. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Gospel Genres, Parables, Teaching of Yeshua

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