Who Will Heal You? A Greek Or A Jewish God? (john 5.2-5)

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.[1]   5One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
When it comes to determining the level of the gospel’s historical reliability, the story that will end in the healing of a paralyzed man is one of the most fascinating textual units in the Gospel of John. Until the discovery of the pool with five-roofed colonnades near the Sheep Gate,  many did not consider the Gospel of John to be historically reliable. The gospel was thought to be either allegorical (truthful only in the sense similar to apocalyptic literature) or simply inaccurate (written by someone who was not from Judea and wholly unfamiliar with Jerusalem’s geography). However, thanks to the tireless research of archeologists, both pools mentioned in the Gospel of John were identified – the Pool of Bethesda in John 5.2 (Image courtesy of Carta Jerusalem) and the Pool of Siloam in John 9.7. The pool mentioned in this chapter turned out to have five colonnades (as described in the Gospel), but it was not structured as a pentagon. There were four colonnades separated in the middle by another one; thus forming the five colonnades.

It is possible that that these pools were religious ceremonial water cleansing facilities – mikvaot, associated with the Jerusalem Temple; or simply water reservoirs for general civic consumption (at least in some periods of their use). But there are other interpretive options as well.

Some archaeologists who worked with this discovery for many years, found and excavated several snake figures at that pool; indicating that the area may have housed a Jerusalem branch of Asclepius cult. While we must be careful not to asume that we can know these things with certainty (for example, none of the artfacts connected to Asclepeus that were found at the site were dated to the first century), some interesting ideas are still worth considering. So having given some space to disclaimers, who was Asclepius?

Asclepius was the god of medicine and healing in ancient Greek religion. The god’s mythical daughters included the goddesses Hygeia and Panacea. We can hear in their Greek names our modern words for “hygiene” and “panacea” – key concepts associated today with medicine and health.  Snakes of course were a key attribute of Asclepius’s cult of health and healing (see circled area on the image of Aclepeus). Up until today one of the key symbols of modern medicine is a stick with a snake around it.

Now stop and think for a moment. Because, if this is correct, it may change our perception of the entire story described here. You see it is possible that the blind, lame, and paralyzed were not waiting for Israel’s god to heal them; but rather for the merciful healing act of Asclepius. In that case, the pool of Bethesda (house of mercy in Hebrew) does not have to be a Jewish site at all, but rather a Greek Asclepion-affiliated facility. This of course would be consistent with a thoroughly Hellenized Jerusalem and Judea in the time of Jesus. We already know that this is the case from many historical and archeological studies.

It is very important to notice that in this particular healing Jesus does not command the one he healed to wash himself in the pool (pool of Bethhesda), while he does issue a direct command to go and wash at the pool of Siloam when it comes to the healing of the blind man (John 9.6-7). It therefore appears that while the pool of Bethehesda was a pagan place, the pool of Siloam was not. Of course, Jerusalem was the center for religious Jews in Jesus’ days, but it was also a headquarters for Hellenized ideals in Judea that was under strict Roman control with the Antonia Fortress dominating the northwestern end of the Temple Mount.

Therefore, as the author of the Gospel continues to show Jesus as the incarnated divine Logos/Memra of Israel’s God, we see the real tension of the story: Who has the power to heal, the Greek god Asclepius, or the Judean god, through his royal son Jesus?[2]

We will see more of this interesting polemic as we continue our fascinating study.

To receive more information about learning Biblical Languages with Hebrew University of Jerusalem/eTeacher Biblical program online at affordable cost, please, click here.

© By Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Ph.D.

To sign up for weekly posts by Dr. Eli, please, click here. It is recommend by Dr. Eli that you read everything from the begining in his study of John. You can do so by clicking here “Samaritan-Jewish Commentary”.

 

 


[1] Some manuscripts insert, wholly or in part, “waiting for the moving of the water; 4for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had.”

[2] This is very similar to the kind of ancient cross-religious polemics described in the healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5). In the minds of the ancients, rivers were conceived of as channels of blessings that came directly from the country’s particular gods. Will the rivers of Israel be better than the rivers of Aram? (2 Kings 5.12)  Will the God of Israel win the god of Aram?

About the author

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-EyzenbergTo secure your spot in our new course “The Jewish Background of New Testament” - CLICK HERE NOW

You might also be interested in:

Three Plus Four: Leah

By Julia Blum

Three Plus Four: Rebecca

By Julia Blum

Join the conversation (99 comments)

Leave a Reply

  1. Max Debono-De-Laurentis

    Shalom Eli,
    Thank you for your continuing pursuance of truth and education of the saints in your series, I appreciate it very much.
    I was thinking about this particular problem – is the pool of Beit-Zata Greek or Judean and I find, in my opinion, that Scripturally it is possible for it to be Greek and still not contradict scripture or its place in the narative.
    There is a very important point that must be considered when examining whom Yeshua was speaking to at the pool – Yeshua only came to the lost sheep of Israel (Mat 15:24), this was the focus of His ministry and outreach when still active in His ministry. It is interesting to note that Yeshua only spoke directly to one man and then left, He did not aim comments at the others present. Nor were there any Pr’shim present, or even His own Talmidim, as at Shiloach. But what we do find later is this same man in the Temple which is when Yeshua reveals who it was that healed him.
    If the scenario was that the pool was a Greek place of worship and not one recognised by the Sanhedrin as (kosher) then this would make sense: Yeshua went in alone to speak to a Jew who had been putting his faith in a pagan god (or hedging his bets). We can also note that the man had no one else with him to help him into the pool which could intimate (arguing from silence, sorry) that his family were not happy with his choice to wast time in a pagan temple. However, Yeshua healed the man and as a result the man went to the temple to show his healing (This could tie in well with Ramon Antonio’s comments earlier about the snake and possible misunderstandings resulting). This whole scenario was set in motion by Adonai to bring about the events that followed later as a result – The persecution of Yeshua for healing on a Shabbat, and telling a man to carry his mat in flagrant disregard of the Oral Torah.
    I realise that there must be an eourmous amount of overwhelming conditions that must be met to declare something %100, this is my small percentage of information and I hope that it helps in the longrun.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Max, it’s wonderful to hear from you! Thank you. Very helpful comments indeed. I only take exception to your reasoning about “oral torah” there was no oral torah so early in the development of Judaism. There of course were traditions and many traditions of the fathers. Of that we have no doubt. But it will take 2 more centuries until it would get codified into law and become binding and EVEN THEN it would take another 3-4 centuries until Rabbinic documents will become truly influential and binding in Jewish communities worldwide!
      This will happen in early third century at Tsipori not far from Nazareth of course. So taken the fluidity of traditions and unbinding nature of Judaisms of the time (because of its great variety) I think we have to be careful about statements like “The persecution of Yeshua for healing on a Shabbat, and telling a man to carry his mat in flagrant disregard of the Oral Torah.” Of course as you probably well know healing on Shabbat IS not halahickly forbidden in today’s rabbinic Judaism (and there was variety of opinions back then as well!) and it has been like that for a while. Read the following posts, there are two more posts (one still on the way) that continue to unpack this complex story. Once again thank you for your comments and yes, for the most part, I very much agree with them. Blessings and peace, Dr. Eli

      1. Eric Rodríguez

        BS”D

        I wanto to put something about Oral Torah. Its own name says all: Oral, it wasn’t found writen until the second/third century, as Dr. Eli said, but this doesn’t mean that there weren’t traditions nor Oral law on first century; Instead, existed Beyt Hilel, Beyt Shama’y, Rabán Gamli’el by mentioning someone… So it’s possible that on the contrary, some Halachik determinations of the later judaism, could derive just from Yehoshúa’ taqanot תקנות(corrections)as it was writen:
        “You have heared that was said (oral law)… But אני מתקן ‘Ani metaqen (I correct, translated like “I say you”)…
        Piquaj Nephesh (פקוח נפש) is a principle of the Miqrá’ (מקרא)and was applied only to animals but curiously, there was an anormal restriction for humans almost during Shabat. Yehoshua’ said them: “You have forgotten the most important aim/goal of the Toráh: צדקה Tzdaqah (Love for regenerating someone, “justice”), רחמים Rachamim (Mother’s love inconditional capable of forgiveness) and אמונה ’emunáh (fidelity to the God’s commandments…) The same occurred with the Divorce discussion and so on…

        1. Ramón Sánchez

          Your comment is very important for this and other discussions about ancient Israel and Jewish traditions: The role of Oral Torah as such.
          My take is this…
          One thing is Oral Torah, which I concur with the explanation by Dr. Eli who states that Oral Torah should be tied to binding Torah, thus, to a set of rules or a code of conduct that bind the Jewish. This Oral Torah was centuries in the future of Jewish people.
          Another thing should be Oral Torah Tradition, which I think is the mental recollection of traditions, writings and teachings. This one, Oral Tradition is not directly binding as a definite code of conduct for it is not yet an agreed upon set of codes. It is a set of memorial transmission of texts that carry the principles of Israel’s Pact with Yaweh and this recollection is indeed a photocopy of the original traditions, similar to the recollection by Indian sages of ancient Hindu religion texts which were transmitted almost perfectly for more than three millennia. But these were not a code. Oral transmission was the transmission of the Pact and its Laws but not of a code of conduct.
          A code of conduct implies the application of what mean the Oral Tradition to the present and that was was slowly developed through the centuries as Dr. Eli says.
          But this is one of the most profound aspects of this discussions because it is the center of Jewishness as we know it now and it was the center of Jesus preaching, his continuing explaining of the Scriptures as written in the Gospels.
          As I have stated earlier, my proposal is that Jesus ministry was a single aim: to explain Salvation through the Scriptures as they referred to Him as fulfillment of the Pact. In order to make that fulfillment clear and evident, the signs were crucial for they reflected that God was indeed the direct cause of that fulfillment. Then, Jewish authorities developed a contra explanation of the fulfillment in response to the schism that Christianity developed into, following Gamaliel’s advice. As he said, if Jesus followers did not die with Him, maybe God was indeed behind his preaching. When history presented that Christianity did not die but indeed began flourishing and the signals continued under His name, the survival of Jewishness was at stake. That prompted the Oral Torah to counter Christianity which eventually evolved in Mishna and th Talmud. Both succeeded in making Jewish religion survive and stand side by side with Christianity.
          Now, we are engaged in a full re reading of our texts to try to learn where we diverge and where we might agree. And we are slowly learning that we all enrich ourselves by this effort.
          Shalom!

          1. Eric Rodríguez

            BS”D
            Shalom!!
            That’s correct! Gospels talk about the “traditions of the Elders” some/many of which, Yehoshúa’ rejected(Remind that Hilel and Shama’y were called “The Elders”, HIlel Hazaqén & Shama’y Hazaqen). Elders thaught Ben Ha’adam (The Son of ‘Adam, Hamashíaj)wasn’t able to forgive sins, and Yehoshua’ said: In order you know that Ben Ha’adam has power on earth to forgive sins (said to the paralytic man: “get up and take your bed and go…” Talmud has problems of dating… Some traditions are so ancient and another are late, but unquestionably they are there… it’s necessary to filter, and hold the Good…

          2. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

            Guys, enough comments on this post!!!!! Don’t you think????!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 Love, Dr. Eli

    2. Ramón Sánchez

      Hi.
      I like a lot the development of your reasoning and its sound judgement. It’s refreshing to hear this kind of argument for we are forced to meditate a lot on our reading of the Gospel.
      One point I would comment although, is that even though in just a minimum, Jesus in fact did take his ministry outside the Jewish community and the land. And in the instance of the healing of the Siro Fenician woman’s daughter he clearly stated “before” meaning that “after”, salvation and the Kingdom of God would be for the Gentiles also.

      1. Eric Rodríguez

        BS”D

        I invite you to know or take in account the history about the tow houses of Yisra’el, the ten tribes and two. First one, Ephrayim, was dispersed all over the world, and lost its identity as Israelite; Yehudáh (+Binyamin in general sense, for there was a remanent of each tribe of Ephráyim) got in home ever… never lost its identity even today. So, the Siro-Phoenician woman, was a real candidate to be an ephraimite although she was a gentile (goy) before they all. Jesus gave an early example of restoration of the ten tribes when said her: right now, you’re like a doggy, which has to hope sons to finish eating, because sons have to eat first, but in the fact that I have come to the lost sheeps of the House of Yisra’el,I make you a daughter just now, go, your daughter is healed, is free! (already you are a daughter)

  2. Sylvain Muruguppa

    I firmly believe that we Israel’s God is the God of all. We all must get together to pray for the piece for Israel and the Jewish people around the World. My Jewish God has blessed me.

  3. Dr. Jackie Feldman

    Dear All,
    To the best of my knowledge, none of the Asclepius remains at Bethesda/Sheep Pools has been dated to the 1st Century CE. They would undoubtedly have been there when the area did serve as a healing sanctuary, post-Hadrian. Given the fluidity of popular religion and veneration of holy places, to try to pin down a particular form of worship based on the archaeological evidence of the time and the (divergent and sometimes suspect) Gospel texts, amounts to what the rabbis called “mountains hanging by a hair”. Adducing great truths on the basis of flimsy evidence. A site that was believed to be invested with healing power could be ascribed by one person to an angel, by another to Asclepius, by a third to Jesus… sometimes at the same time. It’s hard to draw a fast solid line in the stirred-up waters of popular belief.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Dr. Jackie Feldman,

      You are absolutely correct that no archeological artifacts connected with the Asclepius cult date to the first century. So your caution, though not your solid conviction about the foolishness of such an interpretive variant, is justifiable. Therefore, caution must be exercised in how conclusive are the conclusions when anyone reconstructs history (we are both included here). In humanities, unlike in the exact sciences, we deal only with probabilities and possibilities, and almost never with certainties. I get that. I really do.

      I think your capable and poetic comment oversteps several important limitations, however. The reason is that while material culture is very important, it is only a very “partial” part of the whole story. For example, to my knowledge no archeological evidence whatsoever exists for an Israelite Exodus from Egypt; rightfully celebrated by “our holy rabbis.” Is the Passover story “a mountain hanging by a hair?” “Yes!” would have to be the answer of a consistent minimalist-historian. I have no doubt that worshipers of Asclepeus would have wholeheartedly agreed as would many others then and today. One can think of Zoroastrian-Jewish polemics and see arguments there that are nothing short of fascinating and thought provoking!

      Now… I fully agree with you that “adducing great truths on the basis of flimsy evidence” is an unforgivable sin of the historian. However, I also think that it is naïve (forgive me my forthrightness) to think that in the absence of interpretive alternatives, others (in this case a traditional Christian reading of this text) would not stir up waters of popular beliefs to make it look like a solid line that demands a one sided verdict supporting only “their” reading.
      Now… remember that Jewish Studies for Christians is a blog for Christians. I think this is the key. Christians do not doubt the Gospel accounts (as you and I often or at times might). It is therefore not my job to introduce that doubt into their hearts.

      I seek to reread the Gospel of John together with them not as a historian only, but also as someone who has a critical and yet trusting approach towards the holy writ, both Jewish and Christian. So as the Passover (both Jewish and Christian) holiday approaches, I am mindful that its true message of redemption is not celebrated on the basis of missing archeological evidence, but on the basis of the tradition that was handed down to me from my fathers and to them by their fathers.” We call this the Bible.

      Respectfully and with best holiday wishes yours,

      Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      1. Ramón Sánchez

        As I mentioned earlier, the Asclepius cult is solidly established since the Vth Century BC and well established investigations date it’s entering into Rome in around III BC. So I don’t think it’s a stretch to tie the use of the pool to the Asclepius cult since it was already inscribed in the epitaph of Herodotus as a follower of Asclepius.
        In fact I think this tie is a very welcome venue in re reading John.

  4. Gabriel T. Kumeh

    Thanks to you Dr. Eli, and all others discussants. Dr. Eli-pls keep up the good works!
    Meanwhile, kindly keep these insightful posts coming my way.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I will, Gabriel. Thank you!

  5. Ilya Gromov

    Do you think that greek readers of the gospel would pick up on the similarities between Asclepius and Jesus?
    There are a lot of similar things at least on the surface – both were sons of god: Asclepius was son of Apollo. On the surface (before the doctrine of Trinity was developed) both were mere humans deified later. Both brought back people from the dead and both were brought back from death…
    Additionally there are a lot of depictions of Jesus healing someone with a rod or a staff (from 3rd and 4th centuries). Most likely it was a connection to Moses but in light of this discussion do you think there might be a connection to Asclepius, who is often portrayed with a rod?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Cool! Presumably yes. But I do not know to what degree this was the intention of John the writer of the Gospel. Perhaps, it was somewhere in the background. In ancient Rome there were other sons of god/s running around the empire! Jesus was the son of God and son of man in Biblical definitions merged.

      eli

    2. RamonAntonio

      Well, Ilya…

      Don’t you think that depiction may have been in an ancient stela edition of MAD Magazine or the New York Daily News published underground? A Jewish healer armed with a rod and healing people publicly with it? Asclepius may had a rode in Greece, they were without doubt liberal, but a Jewish rabbi in Palestine under Pilate and Annas walking in and out of the Temple with a rod?
      Just a joke! I couldn’t resist!

      I recommend to you Ivonni Richter Reimer: The Miracle of the Hands. Although I have it in Spanish it seems that the original is in Portuguese. It’s one of the best references on healing in relation to Jesus that I have read. She covers Asclepius and many more in detail with ample references.

      Asclepius is indeed a prominent figure of Hellenism from VI BC to III AC. Significantly, originated in the Axial Era. Hippocrates may have been a follower according to his epitaph. (Although Hipocrates was not raised from the dead that we know of). However Asclepius was deeply ingrained in popular culture (he had important temples and healing centers all centered on water and snakes) for centuries and your suggestion of a cross effects is solidly valid.

      1. Ilya Gromov

        Ramon,
        I’ve tried but I don’t get the joke – I think I’m missing something 🙂

        But here’s what I wonder – Even today there is a problem of conveying certain biblical concepts to some people (see Wycliffe Son of God controversy – http://www.wycliffe.org/sonofgod.aspx).

        I remember flying into Lhasa and thinking how to tell Tibetans the gospel when they don’t have some important concepts and trying to figure out how to tell them the story of Jesus in a way that they would understand.

        I was thinking that may be, in a way, John tried to use words or images that Hellenistic converts would understand?!

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          I think the better way to say is “hellenized converts”. I have no doubt that he read to Samaritan/Non-Judean Jewish audience. That that audience was hellenized only would confirm why you would have all these things in one gospel.

  6. Michelle

    Dr. Eli,

    I have another question. How does this event in John 5 fit in a timeline with the event mentioned in Matthew 16 and Mark 8, where Jesus and the disciples travel to Caesarea Philippi, and Jesus asks the questions, “Who do men say that I am?” and “Who do YOU say that I am?”

    I’m just wondering if this event at the pool of Bethesda happened sometime right before this trip to Casesarea. Is it possible that Jesus asked his disciples these questions (in Matthew 16 and Mark 8) because people had started comparing Jesus’ power to heal with other gods they were looking to for healing?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I do not know. I am examining John’s Gospel as is, not trying to see how it fits in. I think John had no such concern and therefore as his readers we also should not. That’s my approach to the text this time around.

    2. RamonAntonio

      I agree with Dr. Eli. To try to fit in a timeline we open to immense debates as diverse as green grass can be. And I can say on that for timelines are my bread and butter as planner and my particular area of interest.
      One aspect is indisputable… Jesus was a renowned healer and that was not disputed even by his enemies who accused him to heal from causes by demons with the power of the devil. So in a sense your question is right to the target…
      Jesus asks who they think he is in light of what he was doing before them at plain sight. Maybe he was forcing them to take a personal stand on their decision to follow him for they could not deny what they were actually seeing and attesting, the healings.

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        I agree with Ramon agreeing with me :-).

        1. Michelle

          Ha ha… Okay, okay. I get the point! 🙂

          I have heard that when Jesus asked this question at Caesarea Philippi, He was standing in front of lots of temples to other gods. So that’s why I wondered if His question came after this event at the pool, and He took them there because He wanted to make sure they could tell He was far different from any other false god, such as Asclepius. You know, sort of like, “okay, guys, this is it. I need to hear from your own mouths how you see ME.” (which is fascinating in itself since Jesus knew their thoughts)

          Please forgive my constant questions caused by curiosity and imagination. I agree to accept your agreements, LOL! 🙂

          1. Bob L

            Michelle:

            Something else to consider in this event: The trip to Caesarea Philippi was some 20 plus miles, gaining altitude (so up hill). You may wish to consider how a normal human would react to a several hour up hill climb, being thirsty, if not hungry and somwhat weary, then being facing with a question that is difficult to answer. Perhaps this physical draining had more to do with the outcome then the setting…. Food for thought!

  7. RamonAntonio

    A scholar Dr. Amy jill-Levine, known to Dr. Eli contributed to Biblical Archaeology Review an article with her opinion that the first attested and documented source of calling rabbi to someone was to Jesus and not before in any source. This is her statement:

    “Most Jewish readers approach the New Testament, if they approach it at all, with at best a certain unfamiliarity. This is unfortunate, for much if not all of the New Testament is Jewish literature. Jesus himself was a Jew; he is, in terms of dates of documents, the first person in history to be called “Rabbi” (John 1:38, 49, 3:2, 6:25)”.

    That is my reference although I am only a lay person in this. However, in my limited knowledge I concur with this scholar.

    1. Eric Rodríguez

      BS”D

      It’s good, interesting… Maybe Talmud is “undatable”, but says: “All which has disciples, which for the time have disciples, let be called Rabbi…” I’ll check your point… Thanks!

    2. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      She is right that Jesus was the first person to be called a rabbi, but that is exclusively because we have early NT manuscripts. Additionally, I have no doubt that he was a rabbi only in a sense of being a teacher. A Rabbi as is known in Talmudim are different kind of position. A rabbi was a teacher, a lawyer, a legislator, etc. So in one sense Jesus was a Rabbi (and not a imam or guru), because he was a Jewish teacher, but in the other hand he was not a rabbi simply because rabbinical office does not develop until much later in the history of the making of Rabbinical Judaism.

      1. RamonAntonio

        My appreciation of this issue derives mainly from Peter Shafer’s Jesus in the Talmud. I tend to agree with his suggestion that one of the main forces behind the Talmud tradition was to provide Jewish opposition to the figure of Jesus who was the center and origin of a sect that became the biggest religion, then the official religion and claimed roughly the same Old Testament Scriptures of Judaism.
        The Talmud then defines and refines concepts and creates readings with 100% Jewish origin and exegesis (midrash?) to declare Christianity and Jesus as contrary to Jewish roots and legacy. In my understanding, this is where the concept of rabbi that we manage now rests. Now, in the present, we find ourselves saying that Jesus may or may not be a rabbi because the definition of rabbi is post Jesus and against Jesus.

        If I understand Dr. Amy Levine correctly, what she clearly says in her writing is that linguistically and historically, the evidence sustains that the term rabbi was ascribed for the first time to the person of Jesus in the Gospels. And she writes this as her full opinion derived from her research. That statement derived from serious research is of paramount importance for its implication.

        It implies that Rabbinism was tied originally to Jesus but was claimed by Jewish as an office of Jewish religion because if not Christianity would have vacuumed the Jewish religion into it. That is why Jewish teachers, scholars, etc. started to call their office that of a rabbi with fully Jewish roots and implications. That is why the term became different from the original use ascribed to Jesus.

        Of course, this is my understanding and it is nothing more than an opinion, as the great Northrop Frye would say. But I totally respect this scenario if it proves worthy for it reveals that Jewish religion in fact became invigorated by the figure of Jesus and although their leaders elected not to follow Jesus as the Messiah, they did so on a profound process of determining what is Jewishness and what is their inheritance. The rabbinic figure then becomes the center of Jewishness just as Jewishness became the center of Hebrews after the Exile. This strongly suggests that Jewish religion then comes out stronger from each crisis.

        In the end, this was the root of the role played by Jerome when he alone decided the authoritative translation to Latin of the Christian Vulgate in consultation with the rabbis of his time. It was the strong rabbinate tradition in front of the towering figure of Jerome which made possible the survival of both religions and not the annihilation of who knows which one or even maybe the two of them.

        Excellent discussion. Thanks to all!

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          In a famous though now somewhat outdated movie Appolo 13. The captain of the ship when finally approaching earth (almost dying out in space during a failed mission) realizing that him and his crew may not make it to earth in one piece, says: “Gentlemen, its been a privilege flying with you”.

          There are only two things I need to modify here: 1) we are not all gentlemen ;-), 2) We are already on the ground :-).

        2. Eric Rodríguez

          Shalom!!
          Yehoshúa’ Hamashíach said to Naqdimon: ¿Are you a Master/scholar/teacher/Rav of Israel (Cf. Jn 1:38 & Jn 3:10 for the equation)and don’t know these??
          Maybe Rabbi was firstly put to Yehoshúa’but I will insist in the fact of the existence of Medincha’ey (The Babilonian Doctors of the Traditional Law which was called Rabá’ / Rav ) and another great teachers of Israel called Rav/Rabá’/Rabán, but not Rabbi. I hope to be more clear…

  8. Ramón Sánchez

    This thing of gematria or whatever is too deep for me. However it sounds interesting.
    My only comment is that I tend to be cautious using rabbinic sources as guide to understand Jesus for my position in this is that rabbinism was post Jesus, in fact, I strongly believe that the first so called rabbi was in fact Jesus. Thus, rabbinism would be a reaction against Jesus in my appreciation.
    I concede that using rabbinic sources to evaluate writings that may be post Jesus may be enlightening. In this case, even though the original document (Gospel or else) may be pre rabbinic, our existing Christian copy is not while the rabbinic copy may be earlier, thus, a tradition of after thought may have been inserted in the Christian document.
    Under this circumstance, for my particular understanding, gematria may be an interesting tool.
    Thanks. I never thought I would entertain such an idea.

    1. Eric Rodríguez

      Shalom!
      It’s necessary to remember that before Christ there were rabbis, since the third century B.C. There were almost three titles:
      רב Rav = A Babilonian scholar
      רבן Rabán = A Scholar from the house of Hilel
      רבי Rabí = A wise man whose disciples had disciples (So that Jesus was called rabbi, not Rav, nor Raban… Because his disciples, had disciples…
      Today Rabbi acquired another sense… like Rav but from any Yeshiváh (rabinic Academy)
      Shalom!

  9. tony

    great insight in all the comments , but something that come clairer for all to see is the teaching about jesus to be the compassionate God that heals and restore lifes to those that trust and come to him
    shalom,Tony