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Yeshua in Context » Study Tips

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

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

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

Video on the Musings Blog, Reading With Fresh Eyes

Today at the Musings blog I have posted the first of many videos for a class I will be teaching in January and February 2012 for MJTI. In this first episode, I talk about the need to read the Apostolic Writings (New Testament) with fresh eyes. Click here to read and watch at Messianic Jewish Musings. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reading Strategies, Study Tips, Video

My 1st YouTube: 20 Ways

Okay, I see much room for improvement in my video presentation in the future. I should have been better prepared and used my notes less. The volume could stand to be a bit higher. This was recorded with my iPhone. I’m hoping soon to have a better camera (on loan from a congregant). Anyway, First Fruits of Zion is publishing a booklet based on a presentation I gave with Boaz Michael at the “Jewish Gospels Seminar” here in Atlanta in September. This video goes over point #1. The booklet could be available in December 2011. And thank you to two of my kids, Josiah (13) and Hannah (15), who edited and posted my video! … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reading Strategies, Study Tips, Video

20 Ways to Read Yeshua’s Life

You can now order the CD and printed outline of my talk from the “Jewish Gospels” seminar with Boaz Michael last week. Below is a sample point, number 5 to be exact, and then a link to order: #5 Read habitually in a recurring cycle, which imitates discipleship. Disciples were with Yeshua often. The call to a disciple was, “Follow me.” They heard Yeshua’s words again and again in different contexts. The way we can imitate this repeated exposure to his words now is to read daily, habitually, and cyclically. Mark 4:10 shows that nearness to Yeshua was key, “When he was alone, the men that were with him approached with the twelve and asked him about the parable.” Peter’s saying in John 6:68 further this theme, “My master, to whom will … Read entire article »

Filed under: Discipleship - Formation, 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

DHE Nuggets: Whole Eye vs. Evil Eye

DHE stands for Delitszsch Hebrew English Gospels, which you can see here. The “whole eye vs. evil eye” is a reference to Matthew 6:22-23. Here is how the RSV (Revised Standard Version) translates this saying of Yeshua: The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! For reasons I will argue below, this translation is definitely substandard. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, DHE (Delitzsch Gospels), Idioms, Spectacular Commentary, Study Tips, Teaching of Yeshua

The Lamp-Measure-Seed-Mustard Sequence, Part 1

Could familiarity with Matthew cause you to miss a powerful sequence of meaning in Mark? Could some of Yeshua’s sayings be used in different contexts to mean very different things? Are they multi-use? Mark 4:21-34 is an important sequence of sayings whose meaning in the context of Mark is often obscured by readers who are more familiar with the sayings from Matthew. That is to say, the order in which we read the gospels sometimes affects our interpretation. How does this happen? The different synoptic evangelists (Mark, Matthew, Luke) often include the same sayings in different contexts. The context of the saying often influences interpretation. The modern reader might wonder if: (a) the sayings are all given in arbitrary contexts with the evangelists rarely if ever knowing what context they may have … Read entire article »

Filed under: Formation of the Gospels, Literary Features, Reading Strategies, Study Tips, Teaching of Yeshua

A Simple Gospel Test

One of the most read articles ever at Yeshua in Context is “A Gospel Proficiency Test.” But here is an even simpler test and if you don’t know the answer, then you have the common disease of Gospel Attention Deficit Disorder. This disease often occurs in religious communities where favorite passages are read and sermonized irregularly and without attention to context, comparisons with parallel passages, and so on. It results from a lack of two things: (1) consistent, habitual reading of the Bible and especially the gospels and (2) taking the time to check the parallels when you read a gospel story. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reading Strategies, Study Tips

Big Announcement: Delitzsch Hebrew English Gospels

They’re done. See the story here. On September 18 we’ll have Boaz Michael and Aaron Eby here in Atlanta for a release party and seminar on the gospels. The DHE (Delitzsch Hebrew-English Gospels) represent (at last!) a printing of the four gospels as a Jewish book. The Greek text was translated into a form of Hebrew very similar to biblical or classical Hebrew by Franz Delitzsch in the late 1800′s. His Hebrew New Testament is still used (along with other versions) in Israel today. Vine of David (and especially Aaron Eby) translated Delitzsch’s Hebrew into a new English edition of the gospels. In Messianic Jewish synagogues all over the land I foresee people reading the gospels in Hebrew and English every Shabbat. And also all over the land I foresee … Read entire article »

Filed under: Study Tips

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

Cool Feedback from a “Gospel Test” Taker

This should be a challenge to pastors and church leaders. Why are people able to get a better education from academic and even skeptical sources? A test taker says: Thanks for posting the quiz, it was challenging and enlightening. It’s unfortunate that I probably only scored as well as I did because I read skeptic websites from time to time and have discussed the difficulties of inerrancy with my brother, who is a NT scholar. My church background (or devotional reading) alone wouldn’t have prepared me for it. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reading Strategies, Study Tips

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

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

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

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

2011, Yeshua, Books, Moving Forward

Information on learning resources and getting involved in various Yeshua in Context projects in 2011. Many people are unaware of the practical, useful resources available. Includes info on upcoming children’s books, eBooks, audiobooks and more. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Study Tips

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

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

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