The Jewish Studies Blog

There are tools that are needed to mine the depths of the biblical texts. There are also many perspectives that enrich our study, like the perspective of first century Judaism. This site is one of those rare resources that provides both tools and perspective for the serious student of Scripture.

– Dr. Allen Mawhinney, A Retired Academic Dean, Reformed Theological Seminary

Why Passover Of The Jews? Where There Also Other Passovers? (john...

On a number of occasions, the gospel states that Jesus celebrated a Jewish Passover (5:1; 6:4; 7:2). Given the spread of various Jewish movements in Ancient Roman Empire, no one in the original audience, even when first century Gentiles read this text, needed to be told that Passover was a Jewish holiday.[25] Everyone with any interest towards Christian claims already knew that Passover had something to do with Ancient Israel, since the general Jewish presence was numerous and well spread throughout the Empire.

The King, The Dove And The Spirit (john 1:32-34)

The dove-resting symbolism is also important in the context of Jesus’ role as Israel’s King, its good shepherd. A 17th century Christian collection of questions and answers asks the following question: “How does Christ fulfill the office of a king?” A succinct and clear answer is provided for believer’s instruction: “Christ fulfills the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.” This answer is profoundly accurate when it comes to highlighting one of the most important functions of an Israelite king – to conquer and defend in order to provide safety. The dove-related imagery in the Bible symbolizes safety, hope, peace and future – exactly the kind of things that Israel’s king was meant to provide for his people. It is in connection with this idea that the Gospel tells us that John the Baptist declared Jesus to be the Royal Son of God. (Jn.1:34)

Passover And Easter: What Do They Have In Common? (john 1.29-31 )

Usually, Christians who held to the first view looked at Pascha as the day of Jesus’ sacrificial death. Others though believed that this holiday was meant instead to signify his resurrection. All of this is to say that while anti-Judaism in the early church did contribute to the date separation between Jewish and Christian Passovers, it was not the main factor. There were several other important considerations. Anti-Judaism, though present, was not the driving force behind the creation of a separate Christian identity and culture in the early centuries.

John, Who Do You Think You Are?! (gospel Of John 1.24-27)

John’s response bewildered the priests and Levites. He said, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (vs. 26-27). First, John believed that his authority to do so was based on God’s own approval. Later on in the Gospel, the author would present these Jerusalem authorities as evil Shepherds of Israel prophesied by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 34:8, 12, 16). The author will further show Jesus to be the Good Shepherd of Israel that must govern Israel in their stead. It will be done constantly juxtaposing it to the incompetence of Israel’s formal rulers. When we come to treating John chapter 10 (and we have a long way to go), we will consider in detail the role of Jesus as the good shepherd of Israel in opposition to the Hoi Ioudaioi.

Jerusalem’s Inquiry Into John Baptist (john 1:19-24 )

You may remember in previous discussions we mentioned the possibility that John (Yohanan) the Baptist was the same Yohanan mentioned in the writings of the Qumran Community who departed Qumran. We concluded that while possible, this hypothesis was unlikely. We additionally noted that the Essene community, according to Josephus, was almost as large as that of the Pharisees and was somehow connected with Qumran. It is likely that Qumran was spiritual center of the Essene movement. In other words, all Qumranites were probably also Essenes, but not all Essenes were Qumranites.