The Study of Jesus
No human being has received more study than Jesus. There has been more written about Jesus than any other person. And yet, we know less about Jesus than almost any historical figure of significance. To a large extent, this is because most of what most people believe (or think they know) about Jesus has little or no historical basis (even if we credit the New Testament (“NT”) as having some historical basis). If one was to say that what we know about someone is the sum of what is factual (based upon evidence) minus what is erroneous, non-objective, or unsupported, then what we “know” about Jesus is a HUGE minus.
The study of Jesus must begin by ridding ourselves of these minuses. Then, we should begin anew by assessing what we might know through a normal intellectual process of discernment – valuing information by its source or sources, its reasonableness, its consistency with the larger picture and the other specifics, and its ability to be validated or verified objectively. Proper discernment regarding our knowledge of Jesus is discouraging because we know very little about him. For example, we cannot even be certain that Jesus ever existed.
Beginning with the “fact” of his existence (which I score as 99% reliable), everything else is even less certain. There are simply ZERO contemporaneous records which clearly “prove” that the man we call “Jesus” ever existed. Indeed, the very best historical records of his time (mostly Roman) make no mention of him. However, there is a historical record (Josephus) that refers to “James the Just” as Jesus’ brother and most scholars agree that this reference to “Jesus” by Josephus is probably authentic. And, of course, there are numerous extant or known works that refer to Jesus which were written after his death (almost certainly by people who never met him). It is from these works that we derive the few facts that we might reasonably judge as reliable.
The other issue we must address in considering the study of Jesus is deciding what about him we should focus upon. The vast majority of study regarding “Jesus” is actually about “Jesus Christ” – a set of doctrinal attributes assigned to Jesus claiming religious or divine stature. That study has no factual basis and advocates a set of faith-based beliefs. In short, there is no historical study of “Christ” other than as an element of religious belief and church history. The rational/factual/historical study of Jesus, then, should strive to answer three basic questions:
1. What might we know about the person?
2. What might we know about how he lived?
3. What might we know about his “mission” or his teachings?
The missing questions, for many, would be about his role as “the Son of God”. Again, there is simply NO reliable or verifiable evidence about such matters and so we must leave their answers to “faith” and not try to treat them as historical issues. To be called a “rational study” of Jesus, one should begin with and focus upon those important facts that are reliable enough (supported by verifiable evidence) to be more likely true than not. I propose that those facts are:
1. Jesus was born in the Levant some time before the death of Herod I (i.e. before 4 BCE).
2. Jesus’ mother was “Mary” (Miriam), daughter of a Jewish priestly family. Thus, Jesus was a Hebrew.
3. The circumstances of Jesus’ conception were uncertain (and thus he was “mamzer” under the Jewish law).
4. Jesus’ legal father was Joseph bar Jacob, a Davidic heir. It is possible that Joseph was also Jesus’ natural father.
5. Jesus had four brothers (or half-brothers) and at least two sisters (or half-sisters).
6. Jesus was related to and became a follower of John the Baptist.
7. Jesus was a Nazorean.
8. Jesus travelled around Galilee and the Jordan Valley (with a group of followers) teaching and healing.
9. Jesus made regular pilgrimages to Jerusalem.
10. Jesus opposed the Temple authorities in Jerusalem.
11. Jesus was crucified by the Romans.
12. Jesus survived crucifixion.
There are certainly more facts about Jesus that are as reliable as or more reliable than these, but they are of less significance or are (as yet) unsupported by adequate evidence. Here, we may see how a scholar should deal with the New Testament (“NT”) accounts. Foregoing doctrinal conceptions about inerrancy or divine inspiration, we should understand the NT writings as a mix of historical tales, myths, religious ideology, and later church doctrine. I personally view those writings as a confusing mix of intimate honest detail and weird mythology with a non-historical purpose. Sorting fact from fiction in the NT is a considerable challenge requiring both careful scrutiny and detailed understanding of history – especially the history surrounding the times and places of Jesus’ life as well as the history of the NT writings.
For example, one of the more certain facts we may assert about Jesus is that he would have been regarded as a mamzer (ממזר) under the Jewish law of his time. But that does not mean that we may look at modern Jewish law of the mamzerut to guide us in understanding what that would have meant during Jesus’ life. Judaism has changed substantially since the time of Jesus and the unique circumstances of his time most clearly would have influenced popular views about “illegitimacy”. While few may know that Jesus was a mamzer, even fewer consider how this would have changed his life and limited his choices.
For most, the name Jesus carries with it the term “Christ”. Belief that Jesus was the “Messiah” inherently confronts evidence to the contrary. The claim that Jesus was the “Mashiach” often ignores the simple fact that the idea originated as a Hebrew concept and what the Jews believed (and expected) of their “savior”. Today, Christians have re-conceptualized “Christ” (and the prophecies regarding him) such that we neglect to consider what the claim would have meant to Jews during Jesus’ time. That this claim was convincing to so many Jews probably tells us more about Jesus than anything else.
First, the Mashiach had to be a Davidic heir qualified to assume the “throne of David”. This “royal” expectation could not be met by someone who was merely a descendant of David – there were thousands of those after 50 generations. There is simply no modern parallel for Davidic (royal) lineage. David was more than a King to the Jews and those with legitimate claim to his throne were known and honored to the time of Jesus. These heirs are known as the “Exilarchs” (Resh Galuta) because they lost the throne during the Babylonian exile. There are complexities regarding the status of the Davidic lineage because David’s descendants came from different wives who had different “ranks”, but we know that there was a specific group of descendants who were deemed to have legitimate claim to the throne of David as we have some reliable historical evidence of their existence and significance during the time of Jesus.
We know that Davidic lineage was a critical issue during the time of Jesus and to his early followers as it is specifically addressed within the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Matthew understood that because Joseph was a direct descendant of Jechoniah (Matt. 1:11-16), neither Joseph nor any of his sons would be qualified to sit on David’s throne (Jeremiah 22:24-30). Thus, Matthew attempts to explain that Jesus was not truly Joseph’s son since he was born through “immaculate conception” to the virginal Mary (Matt. 1:18-25). But this raises the issue of inherited royal rights through one’s mother (or via adoption). The complexity of this issue is great and the debate lingers, but what is most evident is that soon after the death of Jesus, the “messianic” claim was made by Jesus’s followers. If Jesus had no legitimate claim as an heir to the throne of David, it is difficult to explain why the claim took root. But then, if Jesus had a legitimate claim to the throne of David, he was far from an unknown itinerant amateur teacher whose words were given great weight merely because they were so profound or unique. It is far more likely that Jesus was born into a rich and famous family and was formally trained as a Nazorean Rabbi.
We know little about what it meant to be a “Nazorean”, but it clearly did not mean “to be from Nazareth”. It seems most likely that the Nazoreans were a Jewish sect associated with the Essenes and that followers of John the Baptist comprised a sub-sect of the Nazoreans as did the family of Jesus (aka the “Ebionites”). That the Christian Church worked to hide, ignore, and disparage both the Nazoreans and the Ebionites strongly indicates how far removed the Church was from Jesus. Our best understanding of the Nazorean Rabbi Jesus is revealed within early Christian writings that focus upon Jesus’ Judaism.
Jesus was not an ordinary Jew (if there is such a thing). The NT gospels refer to Jesus as both “Rabbi” and “Rabboni” – specific designations having both formal and informal meanings. In most translations, the words are deemed to mean “teacher” or “master”. Until recently, there was very little or no archeological or historical evidence to suggest that the terms had a formal meaning equivalent to “nomodidáskalos” (νομοδιδάσκαλος = “teacher of the law") - an expert in the Jewish/Mosiac Law having the status of teacher-jurist or judge. At the time of Jesus, scribes who had been properly ordained via "semikah" (a laying on of the hands by someone previously ordained) would have held the title “Rabbi” (with specific qualifications such as judging money disputes or determining the ritual status of firstborn animals that have developed a blemish). A Rabboni was a nomodidáskalos allowed to give expert theological or halakhic judgments on matters of religious law, opinions on issues of Jewish life and religion (e.g. what was permitted during the Sabbath), to interpret the scripture, to ordain others, and to perform certain religious duties. It is uncertain whether a Rabbi during the time of Jesus was allowed to have disciples, whereas a Rabboni (such as Hillel) clearly was.
While there are several important implications of Jesus being a Rabbi or Rabboni; the one that stands out is the means by which he earned this title. The apparent answer would be that he received his semikah from John the Baptist, but that does not answer the question of where and how Jesus was trained in Jewish Law. And, as with being a Davidic heir, if Jesus was a trained Rabboni, then he was far from being a poor itinerant “preacher”. Here it is worthy to note that Jesus’ brother, James (“the Just”), was a Temple priest said to have access to the Holy of Holies (inner most sanctum of the Jerusalem Temple). This remarkable historical note (supported outside the Christian histories) tells us that Jesus (who was seemingly less famous at the time than his younger brother) was from a very powerful and well-known family. It explains why James was designated as Jesus’ successor among the apostles and why Peter and Paul answered to him. The study of Jesus must involve the study of James and his other brothers (given as Joses, Jude, and Simon in the gospels of Mark and Matthew).
Because James, Jude, and Simon were also designated as “apostles” a study of them should also lead to a study of the other close followers of Jesus… a study which should recognize that the NT writers had the awkward task of deeming Paul an “apostle of Jesus” even though Jesus never met him. And, because Paul had no legitimacy as a spokesman for Jesus, Peter was chosen as “the rock” upon which Paul could build his church. Thus, we are misled to believe that those chosen by Jesus to be both his followers and successors were functionally “dolts” who didn’t care to understand their master or his teachings. A key to understanding Jesus as a person is to know who he chose as friends and leaders of his movement.
Unfortunately, such a study has been made difficult by the obfuscation of the NT and the early Christian movement. It is a recent development in the historical understanding of Jesus that we focus upon the women in Jesus’ life – family members, partner, supporters, and followers. This is most true regarding “Mary the Magdalene”. It is also a recent development that we examine the life of Jesus in a context of Jewish and Palestinian/Judean politics of his time. The need for this is apparent when we try to understand how and why Jesus included “zealots” and “sicarii” among his closest followers.
In accord with the most certain facts we might know about Jesus, Jesus was a “rebel”. His words and teachings show rebellion against the religious authorities and institutions of Judean Judaism. But we may now know why they were unable to oppose him – his family and connections were far too powerful. But Jesus also rebelled against the Roman occupiers (or any occupier). The Romans would not have gotten involved in a religious rebellion, but if such a rebellion threatened the peace or Roman authority, they would act quickly and without mercy. For such rebels they reserved their harshest punishment – crucifixion. The NT accounts of Jesus’ trial are clearly fictional – if not impossible. It is the result which establishes the facts – Jesus was deemed a threat to Rome and was expediently crucified. Later Christian efforts to blame the Jews (and exonerate Pilate) rely upon ignorance and misinformation. Perhaps even harder to accept is that Jesus was probably guilty as charged.
Despite the effort of NT writers to hide the seditious nature of Jesus’ actions and even if we accept Jesus’ teachings of non-violence (e.g. turn the other cheek) and peacefulness (e.g. he who lives by the sword...), we are confronted by a few events and words that just don’t fit the NT motif. As already indicated, Jesus chose as some of his closest followers people who were known rebels. He instructed them to be armed with swords (Luke 22:36). He specifically told his followers that he “did not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34). And he not only disrupted the Temple with violence and usurping, he entered Jerusalem in a manner that could only be seen as declaring his kinghood (John 12:13-15). Jesus would have understood how provocative and risky these actions were.
Jesus would have understood how silly the notion of a “Jewish Christian” is and how big a stretch it is to deem him the Mashiach. Knowing both scripture and popular expectations of his time, Jesus would have rejected any such claim for him and would have argued against the claims made by Christians in his name. In Judaism, the Mashiach is not one third of a triune deity, but is a fully human royal/priestly leader who will deliver the JEWISH people from hatred, intolerance, and war . He will politically and spiritually redeem Israel in the Olam Ha-Ba (End of Days or World to Come). The specific outcomes to be achieved by the Mashiach include “ingathering of the exiles; restoration of the religious courts of justice; an end of wickedness, sin and heresy; reward to the righteous; rebuilding of Jerusalem; restoration of the line of King David; and restoration of Temple service.” Obviously, Jesus did not accomplish these things during his lifetime.
Jesus was NOT a Christian and Jesus’ chosen followers (and his family) rejected the major precepts of Paul. To reasonably and honestly study Jesus we are compelled to identify and reject those “myths” and “histories” created by Christianity to found a religion that has little to do with the real Jesus. The key starting point to understand Jesus is to understand his values and beliefs. The foundation for Jesus’ beliefs are those of his culture – Judaism. And Judaism, for Jesus, would have been quite different than Judaism as recorded in mainstream history or modern Judaism.
A brief exploration of five major issues of Judaism at the time of Jesus would include:
1. Why has God forsaken the Jews?
2. Who is the legitimate High Priest?
3. What scriptures are holy?
4. Has ritual sacrifice served righteousness? How should Jews serve God?
5. Where are the real Holy Treasures – the Ark of the Covenant (with the original stone tables with the Ten Commandments), the Menorah (candelabrum), the Table of the Divine Presence, the Torah Scroll of Moses, the staff of Moses, the manna from heaven, and other holy accouterments used in daily Temple services.
The idea that God was punishing Jews arose from the daily reality of Jews – a harsh world dominated by foreigners. This urgent need for a Jewish “savior” drove both the desire and the search for the Mashiach. Conservative/orthodox Jews believed that Judaism had become corrupted by false High Priests, false or less-than-holy scripture, meaningless rituals, temple services focused upon wealth and power rather than service to God, and an improper mix of politics and religion. Unless one was a member of the wealthy elite, it was easy to accept that Jews were out of favor with God. The primary message of Jesus was that Jews misunderstood what God expected from them and that righteousness (through acts of lovingkindness) was the key to God’s Kingdom.
The key issue ignored by NT writers and most historians was paramount to Jews at the time of Jesus – the High Priest in the Jerusalem Temple was not the authentic one. That this was a major issue at the time is made clear in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in other Jewish writings from the time (except those of Josephus). The Zadokites and Oniads (of the legitimate High Priest family) were a major religious and political force during the time of Jesus and they were behind the Essene movement that strongly influenced John the Baptist and Jesus.
We might reasonably presume that Jesus was a student of the “Bible”. We might think that this refers to the “Old Testament”, but a Jewish “canon” was far from widely accepted during the time of Jesus. The Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) would have been Jesus’ bible and other works, such as the Book of Enoch might have been widely accepted as authoritative. But “books” were very rare and Torah scrolls were extremely valuable, so few had access to them. The issue of which works (beyond the Torah) were scripture was still hotly debated and some groups were adamant that only the Torah was scripture. While we have little evidence to work from, it seems apparent from the sayings attributed to Jesus that he was well read in “outside books” and additional religious works – thus indicating a broad view of what works comprised scripture.
The key religious topic and primary focus of Jesus’ teachings addressed the question: “How should we serve God”? For most Palestinian Jews during his time, this question would have been answered by: “ritual sacrifice in the Jerusalem Temple”. But Jesus was aware of the history of the Temple, its priesthood, and the other Jewish Temples. (The Samaritan Temple at Mt. Gerizim (destroyed in 129 B.C.E. by John Hyrcanus) and the Temple at Leontopolis (established by the Oniad family which held the hereditary office of High Priest in Jerusalem until they were replaced by the Hasmoneans in 171 BCE)). More so, Jesus understood scripture differently and took a more reasoned and moral direction. Like many, Jesus saw that the Temple had become corrupt and that ritual sacrifice was meaningless to God. And, as a mamzer who would not have been allowed to sacrifice in the normal manner, Jesus sought a different way to serve God.
Another reason to question the authority of the Temple officials and their services was the well-known fact that they were no longer using the authentic Holy Treasures for their services.
· The Ark of the Covenant (containing the original stone tables from Moses) which was covered with the gold lid that served to "atone" for the sins of the people and where God would appear.
· The Menorah (“ner Elohim” or “lamp of God”) which symbolized the universal enlightenment of God.
· The Table of the Divine Presence necessary to elicit Divine guidance, providence, and blessing.
· The Mt. Sinai Torah Scroll (the law written by Moses as directed by God).
· The Staff of Moses which manifested God's omnipotence.
The reproductions of these relics used in the Jerusalem Temple had no Divine power and the Roman appointed High Priests lacked Divine authority. It was a testament to the power of tradition and ritual that so many Jews pair their tithes and fees to a place and people that everyone knew were false or fake.
To this day the fate or location of the real Holy Relics of the Jewish Temple are topics of discussion, debate, and research. Many have assumed that the relics ended up in Rome based upon a frieze carved on the Arch of Titus in Rome. But this demonstrates the superficial study of the subject (we know that there were ten menorah reproductions created for the Temple by Judah Maccabee and it is almost certain that it was a reproduction which the Romans collected as a spoil of war). For those hoping or believing that the Mashiach would arrive and restore Jerusalem and its Temple, a starting point had to be recovery of the “lost ark” and other authentic Holy Relics. We have almost no indication that this was an important issue for Jesus or that he was involved, but it was unquestionably important to his peers and associates.
We should strive to forget the detailed imagery and stories that have been disseminated about Jesus as so much of that “information” is either wrong or unsupported by evidence. And, before we start thinking about Jesus as something other than a normal human being, we should do our best to understand him as a person. As a person, he born disadvantaged to a prominent and important family – a Hebrew family with Davidic lineage and ties to the priesthood. He lived during a time of upheaval and oppression in a region controlled by Romans and their “puppets”. He received formal training in Judaism and was devout in its core beliefs, especially in the idea that our duty is to serve righteousness. He was strongly influenced by his cousin John (the Baptist) whose mission and methods became the foundation for Jesus’ adult life.
Jesus was popular with the masses and feared by the authorities. His message was a mix of orthodox Hebrew beliefs and rebellious new ideas expounding upon a single commandment. Jesus was unusually inclusive and “broad-minded” seeing that “God’s children” included all people who chose and honored Him as their “father”. But, above all, Jesus believed that God’s Kingdom was “at hand” and would be revealed to those who practiced true righteousness – loving each other as God loved them. Jesus believed that the greatest love was that of sacrifice and the greatest sacrifice was the willingness to die for the sake of others. Therefore, he chose to die sacrificially under the belief that this would encourage God to initiate His Kingdom on Earth.
This is the Jesus we should study – not the mythical/doctrinal character of Christianity. Jesus is not the world’s most famous person because he was “divine”, but because he had wonderful and powerful beliefs important enough to die for. That he chose to risk the worst of all deaths in furtherance of his beliefs proved a level of sincerity paramount in human history. His belief that his love for humankind was great enough to trigger Divine intervention is inspirational beyond measure. That is indeed, divine.
 The one record most often cited, the historical writing of Josephus, has almost certainly been forged/edited to include a poorly written passage supposedly referring to Jesus. This work has been widely rejected as inauthentic by scholars. See http://www.josephus.org/testhist.htm
 “[Ananus] brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned…” “Antiquities of the Jews”, Josephus., XX, IX, 1, (William Whiston's translation, 1737). Josephus wrote this work for the Romans about 60 years after the death of Jesus.
 Reliable is far from valid or verified, but at least we have something useful to work from.
 “Christ” being a religious designation originating within Judaism (Mashiach in Hebrwe>Messiah in Greek>Christ in English) and being a part of the divine “Holy Trinity” in Christianity.
 The claim that “inerrant scripture” such as the New Testament is “factual” because some believe that it is divinely inspired is simply irrational. The “evidence” offered for its factual basis is that “it is factual because it says it is”.
 As discussed in more detail below, this designation refers to a sect or group and not to a place (“Nazareth”).
 Solomon, who was not the legal heir to David’s throne, but was ordained as David’s successor King, had 700 wives, 300 concubines, and unknown numbers of possible heirs. There are many “legal” difficulties related to David’s succession, see www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/463979/jewish/Davids-Humility.htm.
 It appears that early in the life of Jesus (soon after the death of Herod I) at least one Exilarch claimed the Jewish throne before being ousted by the Roman supported Herodians. See
 Thus, many accept that Luke’s genealogy is that of Mary.
 Best indicated by the historical fact that his brother James was recognized as an “alternate High Priest”. See “The Christian Survivor: How Roman Christianity Defeated Its Early Competitors” by Robert Crotty, Springer (2017), p. 63 for sources.
 It is clear “Jesus the Nazorean" (Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος) does not refer to a place, but to a sect as in Acts (24:5) . πρωτοστάτην τε τῆς τῶν Ναζωραίων αἱρέσεως" Nazōraios (Ναζωραῖος) The first followers of Jesus were termed the “Nazoraioi”. The early church sought to separate itself from Jesus’ family and apostles (except Peter).
 All of the NT gospels use this term in reference to Jesus. See http://biblehub.com/str/greek/4461.htm.Note Matt. 7:29: “he taught as one who had authority”.
 Mark 10:51; John 20:16. The root “Rab” means “great” in this use. In both NT uses, the word is from Aramaic.
 The formal use of these titles was newly evolving around Jesus’ time.
 “Didáskalos” or “teacher” would seem equivalent to “Rabbi” and “nomodidáskalos” or “master” would seem akin to our “doctor”.
 Such persons were usually "zaḳen" or “elders” (as a position).
 R. Gamaliel was also called nomodidaskalo in Acts 5:34.
 Jesus taught daily in the Temple (Luke 19:47).
 Per the late 2nd century Tosefta, "He who has disciples and whose disciples again have disciples is called 'Rabbi'..." The Jewish Encyclopedia, "Rabbi,", I. Broyde, I. Singer, ed., Funk and Wagnalls (1912), vol. X, p. 294.
 Recall that there are several instances in the NT gospels where scribes, Pharisees, or other Rabbi come to Jesus to ask his views. See Matt 22:35; Luke 10:25;11:45,46,52;14:3; . Also note Matt 23.2-3.
 “And they came to John [the Baptist], and called to him, ‘Rabbi…’” John 3:26.
 “[James] was allowed to enter into the Place of Holiness… and he used to enter the Temple alone, and was often found upon his bended knees…” “De viris illustribus” (Lives of Illustrious Men) by Jerome (392), ch. 2 citing “Commentaries on the Acts of the Church” by Hegesippus (170) which relied upon Epiphanius who relied upon Eusebius. See “Eusebiana : essays on the Ecclesiastical history of Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea” by Hugh Jackson Lawlor, Clarendon (1912), pp. 8-9. Also note (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/hegesippus.html).
. See generally: “The Jews Under Roman Rule: From Pompey to Diocletian: a Study in Political Relations”, E. Mary Smallwood, Brill (2001) and note esp. pp. 280-283.
 Despite the provocative title, “Jesus the Terrorist” by Peter Cresswell, John Hunt Publishing (2009) presents a great starting point for this study.I fully agree with Mark Brighton that “sicarii” was likely a vague and fluid term used broadly to describe revolutionary Jews seeking both religious and political ends who were associated with specific acts of violence. See “The Sicarii in Josephus's Judean War: Rhetorical Analysis and Historical Observations” by Mark Andrew Brighton, in “Early Judaism and Its Literature”, #27, Judith H. Newman, Series Editor, Society of Biblical Lit. (2009), pp. 2-9; 141-149.
 For excellent background, see “Why is the Hypothesis that Jesus Was an Anti-Roman Rebel Alive and Well?: Theological Apologetics versus Historical Plausibility” by Fernando Bermejo-Rubio (2013) at http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2013/ber378008.shtml.
 First in John (2:13-16) Jesus makes a whip and drives out the moneychangers. He possibly repeated this later (Matt. 21:12-13). He also prohibited others from carrying merchandise through the Temple Courtyard (of Gentiles).
 “Blessed is the King of Israel…See, your King is coming,”
 Christian theology and doctrine are too far removed from those of Judaism to align them. The only reason the two have been related is because Christianity has no foundational basis without Jesus being “Christ”= an oddly distorted view of Judaism’s “Messiah” –only made remotely possible by proposing (promising) that all the major expectations for the Mashiach will occur when Jesus returns at some future time.
 Which would have included most Galileans, the Zealots, the Nazoreans, the Rechabites, the Nazirites, most Essenes, and the followers of John the Baptist.
 See “The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls: Scripture and the Scrolls”, Ed by James H. Charlesworth, Baylor University Press (2006), Vol. I, Introduction by James H. Charlesworth, p. xxvii
 As is discussed in my other writings, “Josephus” is not far behind Christian writers in creating a false history about Jesus (and his times).
 At the time of Jesus there was no “canon” of Jewish scripture. The "Books." was an early designation for all Holy Writings used by the Hebrews with the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Torah) as the common foundation. Beyond “the Law”, all other Jewish scripture has been deemed an "outside book" by some traditionalists (including “the Prophets” and “the Hagiographa”). We know from NT writings and sayings that Jesus taught from such outside books (e.g. “The Book of Enoch”, see http://www.nairaland.com/1080843/book-enoch-jesus-quoted-it).
 Jesus spoke of Old Testament history as existing from Abel (Genesis) to Zechariah (the time of Malachi) (Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51) and described the Old Testament as Law, Prophets, and Psalms (Luke 24:44).
 See “The Canon of Scripture” by: F.F. Bruce, Intervarsity Press (1988), esp. Ch.2, pp. 25-42; Note that the process of deciding which works were “scripture” continued through the Synod of Jamnia (or Jabneh) around 90CE. See “The Canon of the Old Testament” by Herbert Edward Ryle, Macmillan and Co. (1892), ch. 4, esp. p. 93 and “Introduction to the Old Testament” by Aage Bentzen, (2 vols., 2nd Ed.), G.E.C. Gad Publisher (1952), I, pp. 28-29: “The debate of the synod mainly centred on Ezekiel, Proverbs, the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. There also seems to have been some insecurity concerning Chronicles…[indicating] that only the Law was really acknowledged…”
 I agree with the majority that Onias III [murdered in 172 BCE) was the “Teacher of Righteousness” in the Essene writings from Qumran. As Jesus is widely associated with the Essenes, we may reasonably conclude that he was aware of this history and issue.
 See, for example: http://www.aish.com/jw/s/The-Vatican-and-the-Temple-Vessels.html
 Antiochus Epiphanes took away the lampstands when he invaded and robbed the Temple in 168-157 BCE (1 Maccabees 1:21). Later Judah Maccabee (the Hasmonean) had "new holy vessels" made (1 Maccabees 4:49).
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