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Yeshua in Context » Identity of Yeshua

Early Divinity in John 5

Many have argued that the idea of Yeshua’s divinity was a late development. This is commonly applied to the Fourth Gospel as a principle for detecting layers of sources. What I mean is, people will say the gospel of John was written in layers, by multiple hands. An early and simpler version of the gospel, it is said, did not have the strong theme of Yeshua’s divinity. Supposedly Greco-Roman ideas are the source of the divinity doctrine. So as the movement for Yeshua became less Jewish and more Roman, the doctrine developed and the Fourth Gospel underwent several edits and additions. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Divinity of Yeshua, Formation of the Gospels, Identity of Yeshua

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

Low and High Versions of the Yeshua Story

THE YESHUA STORY, LOW VERSION At last, in the days of the Second Temple a great Son of Israel arose in Galilee. He was a Hasid whose piety and Spirit-endowment worked healings. He was a teacher who spoke of the kingdom, the malkhut hashamayim, the world to come. The Temple authorities and the would-be rabbis in Judea opposed him. His miracles bothered them, since he was not one of them. His fanatical following scared them and was enough to convince the Roman governor to kill him. But the God of Israel raised him and he ascended to be the heavenly Messiah. God revealed that the death of Yeshua was a substitutionary atonement for all who would believe. At the end of the age, God will send him back as the Messianic … Read entire article »

Filed under: Divinity of Yeshua, Identity of Yeshua, Messiah, Yeshua as

REVIEW: The Jewish Gospels by Daniel Boyarin

Daniel Boyarin is Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. In the foreword by Jack Miles, he is called “one of two or three greatest rabbinic scholars in the world.” I’m not qualified to assign numbers to who is or isn’t the world’s greatest Talmud scholar, but it is easy to say that Boyarin knows his Talmud better than any but maybe a few dozen people in the world. So, it might surprise you to know that Boyarin thinks Judaism and Christianity are compatible. His goal, stated on pages 6-7 is to help Christians and Jews to stop vilifying each other. He doesn’t follow Jesus and isn’t asking fellow Jews to do so. But he demolishes all ideas that Christian devotion to Jesus is contrary … Read entire article »

Filed under: Answering Objections, Background to Gospels, Book Reviews, Divinity of Yeshua, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Messiah, Paradox, Spectacular Commentary

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

PODCAST: Divinity1

To some people, the idea of Yeshua’s divinity was probably something developed late. It must have involved a departure from Jewish thought. It must have been the result of syncretism, mixing pagan notions with the original understanding of Yeshua as a Jewish teacher or as Messiah. But what is the real explanation for the origin the idea of Yeshua’s divinity? Divinity1 … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Divinity of Yeshua, Formation of the Gospels, Greco-Roman Background, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Podcasts

Repost: The Mountain in the Sermon

On Sunday, I’m speaking to a small class in North Georgia about the Beatitudes. As you progress into Matthew 5-7, this is a vital piece of information about the context. The following information is derived from a paper by Eric Ottenheijm of the University of Utrecht presented at the 2010 Society of Biblical Literature in the Matthew section. In Matthew 5:1, Yeshua went up on “the mountain.” No one knows which mountain, although there is a lovely hill which is the traditional spot. More important than a physical location, though, is understanding the allusion of “the mountain.” There are a number of mountains of great significance in the Hebrew Bible. The echoes of Exodus and Isaiah in particular add depth and meaning to the Sermon on the Mount. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Beatitudes, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Identity of Yeshua, New Moses Theme, Sermon on the Mount, Spectacular Commentary

Yeshua Musterion

This is a transcript for today’s podcast. Musterion is the word for “secret” or “mystery,” which is found in Mark 4:11. Find the Yeshua in Context podcast in the iTunes Store and at DerekLeman.com. “Love has ever in view,” says George MacDonald, “the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds.” This, I think, is some of what is going on with Yeshua’s kingdom mission. “Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving,” he goes on, “it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more.” The disciples were constantly misunderstanding Yeshua. And even this was part of Yeshua’s method. He was willing to defer much of their learning to the moments after the great crisis of his death and the great revelation of his resurrection. Meanwhile … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Cross, Discipleship - Formation, Identity of Yeshua, Reading Strategies

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

Revealed to Little Children

In “Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question,” I listed nine elements of Yeshua’s identity and purpose that add something new to Judaism (see it here). The first of these nine elements has captured my attention and been the source of my thoughts and searching for a few weeks now: Yeshua is the Moses-like Prophet-to-Come, the New Moses, whose agency as the Voice of the Father reveals depths of God unknown or ambiguous in previous revelation. I listed for readers the findings of Paul Anderson regarding the prophet-like-Moses theme in the fourth gospel, which is not a minor motif but a guiding principle of the entire Gospel of John (see my post “Moses-Like-Prophet in John” here). In searching out examples of how Yeshua revealed greater depths of God than had previously been known, I first … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Divinity of Yeshua, General, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Kingdom Present, Messiah, New Moses Theme

Moses-Like Prophet in John

In the fourth gospel, Deuteronomy 18:15-22 is a key passage. It’s language (from the Septuagint or Greek version) is echoed throughout the gospel of John. Much of the Father-Son language in John comes from concepts and phrases in Deuteronomy 18:15-22, the Torah passage about the Prophet who is to come. Of course, the Deuteronomy passage is in one sense talking about the office of a prophet (and so, in that sense, all prophets like Samuel, Elijah, Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah fit the meaning of the Deuteronomy passage). Yet the Prophet in Deuteronomy was also interpreted in another sense (as evidenced in the gospels) as a singular Prophet who would be greater than Moses. One could argue that this is not what the Deuteronomy passage intended, but there are two … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, General, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, New Moses Theme, Yeshua as

The Son Who Has Spoken

Last week in “Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question #1″ and in the Podcast “Mosaic Revealer,” I began to explain nine benefits of knowing Yeshua for those who already know God through Judaism. I’m still mining the very first benefit of the nine, which goes like this: Yeshua is the Moses-like Prophet-to-Come, the New Moses, whose agency as the Voice of the Father reveals depths of God unknown or ambiguous in previous revelation. As you can see from the wording, I am using language from the gospels themselves to describe the benefits of knowing Yeshua. But this is not just theory or theology. Each one of these nine benefits concerns practical matters, things that weigh upon us and are of consequence to everyone on a daily basis. They concern the normal and universal … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, General, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Teaching of Yeshua

Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question.

Here is another mini eBook in the making: Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question. This is also the basis of a podcast that will be posted today on iTunes and at DerekLeman.com. A friend recently said to me, “Jews are better Christians than Christians.” He was referring first of all to the ethic of Jesus about healing and serving and making this world like the world to come. His claim was that the Jewish community does these things better than Christians. Second of all, he was referring to statistics about charitable giving and service work and those who engage in them. The Jewish community, far in excess of our smaller population, out-gives Christians in the work of feeding, clothing, providing medical aid, and so on all over the world. He followed this up … Read entire article »

Filed under: Divinity of Yeshua, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua

Hidden Corners and Disciples

This is the greatest liability of Yeshua-faith: that God does his work quietly and in hidden corners while the world is looking for noise and spectacle. Luke 10:21-24 is material not found in Mark. It is found in Matthew, but Matthew has it separated into two separate sayings on two occasions: 11:25-27 and 13:16-17. Messianic fulfillment comes in unexpected ways and Yeshua’s identity peeks through the veil. On that same occasion Yeshua rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will. All things have been given to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Discipleship - Formation, Divinity of Yeshua, Identity of Yeshua, Messiah, Mysticism in the Gospels

The Temptation in Luke

LUKE 4:1-13 Yeshua, filled with the Spirit, is tempted (1-2), desert-bread (3-4), world-kingdoms (5-8), Temple-pinnacle (9-12), the devil waited for an opportune time to test him again (13). The commentary that follows is about the specific emphases in Luke’s version on the filling with the Spirit, the different order from Matthew, and the overall meaning of the three temptations. See the other articles categorized under “Temptation” for a fuller view of this important scene in Yeshua’s life. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Identity of Yeshua, Messiah, Temptation

Birth Narratives: What Matthew and Luke Have in Common

If you’ve read and compared the Matthean and Lucan birth narratives and if you’ve read much secondary literature, you know that from the perspective of historical inquiry there are problems. I commend the view of Luke Timothy Johnson in The Historical Jesus: Five Views on matters of the gospel tradition and historical research. With the various problems the birth narratives present to us, it is reassuring to consider the common elements in Matthew and Luke’s accounts, which suggest a tradition that pre-dated both of them. Fitzmeyer gives a suprisingly detailed list of the doubly attested traditions of Yeshua’s birth and some of these elements may surprise you: … Read entire article »

Filed under: Answering Objections, Birth of Messiah, Gospels as History, Identity of Yeshua

Yeshua as Prophet of the Kingdom

It helps sometimes for us to forget that we know so many things about Yeshua, to back up and experience him from within the story and not from thousands of years after. I suspect that one reason the idea of Yeshua as prophet is neglected in religious talk is that it seems retrograde to some to consider his “lesser” roles in the divine plan. But it is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the idea that Yeshua was a prophet of the kingdom from within the story, from within the experience the disciples and crowds had of Yeshua. For them Yeshua was a potential prophet, a healer, an exorcist. How does Yeshua come across as a prophet in Mark? What sorts of things do we learn from this? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Identity of Yeshua, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present

Mark 2, The Riddle of the Son of Man’s Authority

Is it easier to say “your sins are forgiven” or “get up, take your pallet, and walk”? There are two interpretations of the paralytic story and the saying about “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” which would take Yeshua’s words in a lesser manner, not as a self-claim to such great authority. There is also a profound wisdom lesson in Yeshua’s riddle. This is a story that carries more complexity and meaning than many realize. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Forgiveness of Sins, Identity of Yeshua, Son of Man

The Misunderstood Kingship of Yeshua

The following commentary is on Matthew 21:1-11. I consider the larger context of Zechariah 9 and how it affects our reading of the Triumphal Entry. I’d say that even modern commentators have not given this sufficient attention in many cases. Zechariah’s prophecy of the king coming on a donkey is a critical view of kingship looking ahead to the messianic age when the ideas of dominion change into peace. In the early part of Zechariah 9, the warring peoples of the Mediterranean coast will become peaceful and submit to God’s authority in the messianic era. Then, in 9:9, Daughter Zion’s king (Jerusalem in the age when promises are fulfilled) comes not as a war-maker, but bringing peace, not on a warhorse, but a donkey like the Davidic kings of old. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Identity of Yeshua, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present

The Mountain in the Sermon

The following information is derived from a paper by Eric Ottenheijm of the University of Utrecht presented at the 2010 Society of Biblical Literature in the Matthew section. In Matthew 5:1, Yeshua went up on “the mountain.” No one knows which mountain, although there is a lovely hill which is the traditional spot. More important than a physical location, though, is understanding the allusion of “the mountain.” There are a number of mountains of great significance in the Hebrew Bible. The echoes of Exodus and Isaiah in particular add depth and meaning to the Sermon on the Mount. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Beatitudes, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Identity of Yeshua, New Moses Theme, Sermon on the Mount, Spectacular Commentary

The Danger of Messianic Misunderstanding

Readers of the gospels are repeatedly confronted with Yeshua’s ambiguity, his commands to secrecy, his constant refusal to be defined in straightforward categories. What strategy can we, as readers, employ to absorb the meaning of Yeshua’s identity and his instruction for us in carrying on the messianic mission? The story of the good confession and Yeshua’s warning to be secret about it is instructive. Why, when Peter confesses accurately who Yeshua is, must Yeshua follow the revelation with a warning? What the disciples encountered in personal involvement with Yeshua is analogous to what we as readers of the gospels encounter. The warning is the same. What do we learn from this story about the danger of messianic misunderstanding? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Identity of Yeshua, Reading Strategies, Study Tips

“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

Yeshua as Torah, Part 1

Not only should we understand Yeshua in his time and his context, but we should also devote thought to applying Yeshua into modern contexts. The various Christianities are the usual focus of this re-contextualization of Jesus, but what of Judaism today? How does Yeshua fit into the context of a Judaism filled with 2,000 years of water under the bridge, halacha, theology, commentary, mysticism, and so on? This is the first post in the category (many more to come) “Judaism Today & Yeshua.” The more Torah the more life . . . he who has acquired for himself the words of Torah has acquired for himself life in the World to Come. –Pirkei Avot 2:7. The Torah said, I was the architectural instrument of the Holy One, blessed be he . . . … Read entire article »

Filed under: Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Temple and Torah

Look for the Unusual in Yeshua’s Healings

There are twenty-six healing miracles recorded in the four gospels. The complete list will be included in the upcoming Yeshua in Context Sourcebook. One thing to look for to make sense of the life Yeshua lived in all its mystery and potential for meaning, is the unusual, the gaps in the story or the parts that don’t exactly fit. The following is not meant to be a complete list, but gathers examples of trends in these gaps in Yeshua healing stories. You may discover some of the layers of meaning of the healings in these: … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Identity of Yeshua, Miracles

Reasons for Faith in Yeshua

This post is a bit less about the background of the gospels and more about theology and apologetics. But its basis is a theological reading of the gospels and it should help readers see themes to look for. 1) The foreshadowing of the Great Coming Resurrection in Yeshua’s resurrection. Resurrection (the bodily raising of the dead at the end of the age) is an idea only referred to in later passages in the Hebrew Bible, but the idea became a staple of classical Jewish faith (not just Christian faith). Pinchas Lapide’s famous book (The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective) concludes that Yeshua truly rose but then reinterprets this in a way that denies he is Messiah. Lapide, in my opinion, overlooks what occurred to Paul on the road to Damascus (where … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Eyewitnesses, Identity of Yeshua, Reading Strategies