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

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.

Rethinking Israelite Samaritans And Their Diaspora

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.

Authority As The Key Characteristic Of “the Jews” In...

This text is most often read as an instance of Jesus’ general lack of clarity in declaring his Messiahship. The request of “the Jews” should not be read: “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly,” but “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” From the standpoint of “the Jews”, given their religious authority as the formal representatives of the Judean religion, their authority to validate Jesus’ candidacy for Messiahship was not being honored. Jesus drew large crowds who followed him. The blind saw, the lame walked, lepers were cured, the deaf heard, and the dead came back to life (Mat.11:2-5). Jesus’ identity as Messiah was self-evident, but he had failed to declare himself as such to the Jerusalem authorities. This was the reasoning behind their demand (How long will you keep us in suspense?). He, however, consistently stated that his miracles, and therefore his Father’s witness of his Messiahship, were enough to establish him as God’s Messianic Servant (Jn. 10:25-42). Jesus refused to acknowledge the Jerusalem rulers’ authority over him and by extension, over the whole of Israel. Jesus was the One to Whom Israel’s Covenantal Lord had entrusted such authority and therefore submitting himself to the illegitimate authority was out of the question (Matt.26:63-64).

Judean Christian Mission To The Israelite Samaritans

In Acts 8: 14 we are told that the apostles Peter and John were sent to the Israelite Samaritans.[10] The fact that John was actually in Samaria and was commissioned by the rest of the apostles to go and inspect the Samaritan’s reception of faith in Jesus is important for our argument. Interestingly enough, the book of Acts places the apostle John, who from early times was held to be the author of this gospel, at the heart of the mission to the Israelite Samaritans in spite of his early anti-Samaritan stand (Luke 9:52-55):