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Mary’s Psalm (PODCAST Transcript)

I’m reading Scot McKnight’s new book, The King Jesus Gospel, a vital contribution for Christians and Messianic Jews. What’s so great about McKnight’s book is that he plainly and clearly explains why the main message of churches for the past hundred years has been so limpid and produced such a disappointing Christian culture. He doesn’t pretend that a little theological correction will put an end to human failure in religion, but it can’t hurt to have people follow a message that the apostles would at least recognize as the gospel. The main point of McKnight’s book is that the word “gospel” to the apostles meant the story of Yeshua giving meaning to life and eternity. Gospel was not simply a message of personal salvation. Personal salvation is one of the things … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, DHE (Delitzsch Gospels), Luke's Gospel, Salvation and Covenant

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

Mark 1:1, Greek-Hebrew-English

If you don’t know Greek or Hebrew, no problem. Each time I do one of these there will be a few notes and nuggets of value for you even without facility in biblical languages. I will be concise in my notes, so these should be quite readable even if you are not technically oriented in your Bible reading. Who knows? By the time we get to some sayings of Yeshua, perhaps one of my mentors, Rabbi Carl Kinbar, will be willing to supply a theoretical Aramaic original (along the lines of Maurice Casey’s work). For now, a simple exegesis of Mark 1:1. The Society of Biblical Literature Greek Text (minus accents): ’Αρχη του ’ευαγγελιου ’Ιησου χριστου. Note: See below regarding the missing phrase “son of God.” The Delitzsch Hebrew text (from the Delitzsch Hebrew … Read entire article »

Filed under: Detailed Commentary, DHE (Delitzsch Gospels), General, Greek Text and Translation

Demons in Galilee

What sort of theology of unclean spirits existed in Yeshua’s time? We have a few hints and texts that can give us a picture. Pagan notions of demonic spirits were no doubt an influence on some, but devout Galileans like Yeshua would have looked to other sources for their beliefs. A few centuries before Yeshua, some unknown circles of apocalyptic scribes wrote some texts that are now known as part of 1 Enoch (which is really five books written at different times). The early part of 1 Enoch is the Book of the Watchers. Who are the watchers? The answer is found in Daniel 4:10 (4:13 in Christian Bibles; see also 4:14, 20 (4:17, 23)) : In the vision of my mind in bed, I looked and saw a holy Watcher coming … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Miracles

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

Yeshua On Repentance

When he came to his senses he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!” -Luke 15:17 Yeshua dined with sinners. Those of us who eat bread with him today are infinitely thankful for this. It is not, contra E.P. Sanders, that Yeshua offered the kingdom without repentance or light without trial. Those who dined with Yeshua did not think this is what he was offering. One said, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor” (Luke 19:8). Yeshua is at once inviting and imposing, welcoming and formidable. You may be to him the hundredth sheep, the one rejoiced over that was lost, or a whitewashed tomb. You may hear from him, “your faith has made you … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Forgiveness of Sins, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Preachable Points, Teaching of Yeshua

How They Read “Messiah” #1

It’s important to neither exaggerate nor diminish the importance of messianic hope in the times of Yeshua and the disciples. Exaggeration looks like this: Rome and the Herodians continually had to quell messianic pretenders and uprisings. Diminishing looks like this: there was virtually no messianic hope in Yeshua’s time and no one was looking for a king to lead a revoution. Both claims have been made. In Michael Bird’s Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question, there is a helpful chart of some major messianic scriptures and references to the thought of the time about these texts. What kinds of things were people saying about Isaiah 11 in Second Temple Judaism? That will be our theme in this first installment. To help those who … Read entire article »

Filed under: Apocalyptic Literature, Background to Gospels, Hebrew Bible as Testimony, Messiah

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 “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

Greece, Rome, Israel #2

“Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin, and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesars.” Yeshua said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at him. –Mark 12:14-17 What has the gospel to do with Rome? As in the first installment about Greece and Hellenism, we’re considering Roman background in the life and message of Yeshua as well as in the time of the evangelists who wrote the gospels … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Formation of the Gospels, Gentiles, Greco-Roman Background, Son of God

Greece, Rome, Israel #1

Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth. . . . He said to her, “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” -Mark 7:26, 27. Our reading of the gospels should take into account three streams of culture. In particular we can says that the times of Yeshua were affected by: (1) the reaction against Hellenism or Greek culture in Israel that had come to the fore in the days of the Maccabees from 165 BCE on, (2) the influence of Rome both for good and bad in the life of Israel, and (3) the struggles of Israelite groups and cultures to define themselves in a changing world. The three cultural streams of the gospels should … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Formation of the Gospels, Gentiles, Greco-Roman Background

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

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

The Symbolic Use of Abraham

I asked my congregation a test question. I said, “What does Abraham represent in the gospels?” The answer I got was, “Faith.” It’s not a bad answer considering that this was before we had read a few Abraham texts in the gospels. Yet, before we would jump to Paul’s explanation of Abraham (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:7), it is good to consider a step earlier than the realization that Abraham represents faith. It is eye-opening to re-read some of the Abraham texts in the gospels with an eye for first century Jewish ideas about election, covenant, and afterlife. Let’s begin with three texts: Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones … Read entire article »

Filed under: Abraham, Afterlife, Background to Gospels, General, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Teaching of Yeshua

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

Explaining the Paraclete Passages

The Paraclete. The Counselor. The Advocate. The Comforter. “If I do not go away,” said Yeshua, “the Counselor will not come to you.” Who is the Paraclete? You think it’s as easy as saying, “The Spirit.” Not so fast. There is more to it. Raymond Brown, in Appendix V in Volume II of his exceptional commentary (The Gospel According to John (XII-XXI), The Anchor Yale Bible, original edition 1970) discusses the five Paraclete passages in the larger context of the fourth gospel and the themes of Yeshua going away (being lifted up — on a cross, from the tomb, to the throne). The Paraclete theme in John has bearing on our view of the Spirit, the Presence of Yeshua (as Brown says it, “the presence of the absent Jesus”), and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Ascension of Yeshua, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Preachable Points

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

Tracking Down the Beloved Disciple, Polycrates

This Sunday (July 10), I’m repeating the “Eyewitnesses in the Gospels” seminar here in Atlanta (want to bring it your way?). The last of the five sessions is on the Beloved Disciple and the Fourth Gospel. The entire seminar is based on Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and, to a lesser degree, The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple. I’ve had a number of “Beloved Disciple” articles here (see “The Beloved Disciple: Who is He?” and “The Beloved Disciple in Relation to Peter”). Now, I’m summarizing Bauckham’s historical detective work following the trail leading to the identity of the Beloved Disciple. It’s a twisted trail sorting through evidence with a number of errors which require explanation. It’s fascinating to historically understand how simple the identification of the Beloved Disciple is and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Disciples & Named Characters, Eyewitnesses, Formation of the Gospels, General

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 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

Had It Not Been for Luke’s Gospel . . .

I’m reading Mark Goodacre’s The Synoptic Maze, a great, short, bullet point summary not only of the relationships between Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but also of Goodacre’s theories on dispensing with Q. Great stuff and his tables are very helpful. Why don’t more people make lists and tables of data? I also recently finished my second year of reading through and commenting on a daily portion of Luke in my Daily D’var email list (email me at yeshuaincontext at gmail if you’d like to be on the Daily D’var email list). Luke’s gospel has a lot of material not in Matthew and Mark (this is a well-known fact). Luke is the second-most unique of the four gospels (John takes the prize, of course). Have you ever thought of the things you … Read entire article »

Filed under: Luke's Gospel, Synoptic Relationships

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

Discipleship and Message

At the Messianic Jewish Musings blog today I wrote a post about “The Way to Have a Message.” It is an outgrowth of this week’s discussion at Messianic Jewish Musings about representing Yeshua-faith to the Jewish community. I thought it appropriate to repost the blog here on Yeshua in Context because it deals with practical matters of discipleship. Studying the gospels and the life of Yeshua should not be merely about history or theory. As John 7:17 indicates, Yeshua expected that doing his kingdom teaching was the way to know it is true. After the jump you will find the full text of “The Way to Have a Message.” … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Kingdom Present, Preachable Points, Teaching of Yeshua

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