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
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)
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’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.
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.
The Judea-centred Israelites (the Jews) believed that not only did the Samaritans choose to reject the words of the prophets regarding Zion and David’s family; they also deliberately changed the Torah itself to fit their theology and heretical practices. One of the insights that can be gained from comparing the two Pentateuch’s, the Torah of the Samaritans and the Torah of the Jews, is given here as an illustration. The Samaritan text reads much better than the Jewish one. In some cases, the stories in the Jewish Torah seem truncated, with wandering logic and unclear narrative flow. In contrast, the texts of the Samaritan Torah seem to have a much smoother narrative flow. On the surface, this makes the Jewish Torah problematic. Upon further examination, however, this could lead to an argument for the Samaritan Pentateuch being a latter revision or editing of the earlier Jewish text. However, in the light of Qumran discoveries that show agreement between the Samaritan and Qumran texts, a case can also be made for editing of an older text made by the Jews as well.