How Jesus Read His Bible (Michael Hardin part 1)

Today begins a 4-part series by Michael Hardin, “How Jesus Read His Bible.” Hardin is the co-founder and Executive Director of Preaching Peace a non-profit based in Lancaster, PA whose motto is “Educating the Church in Jesus’ Vision of Peace.” An internationally known speaker, he is one of the earliest members of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion and is a co-founder Theology and Peace, also based in the United States. Michael was educated at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago and is a PhD candidate at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, Australia.

Hardin is the author of the acclaimed The Jesus Driven Life and What The Facebook?: Posts from the Edge of Christendom, and co-editor of Stricken by God?: Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ, Peace Be with You: Christ’s Benediction amid Violent Empires, Compassionate Eschatology, and editor of the forthcoming book Reading the Bible with Rene Girard.  He is currently book project is Lamb Up!: The Resurrection Gospel. He has published over a dozen articles on the mimetic theory of René Girard in addition to essays on theology, spirituality and practical theology.  Michael participated in the recent documentary Hellbound? and is working with director Kevin Miller on a television project on the work of René Girard.

These posts are adapted by Hardin from The Jesus Driven Life.

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We have learned from modern theologians that what one says about Scripture and how one uses it can be two different things and that how one uses Scripture is the real indication of what one believes about it.

I notice, for example, that many preachers use Scripture as a diving board, they quote it and then jump off into a pool of ideas, leaving the biblical text behind. What they say might be good or true or even relevant but it has little or no connection to the passage under discussion.

Other preachers I have heard treat Scripture like they are in a 7th grade science class dissecting a frog. They notice with some repugnance the things they don’t like and can be quite critical of the process of having to figure out what lies before them.

Some have a high view of Scripture by which they mean Scripture is the Word of God, inspired and without error, yet the way in which they use it betrays that they really don’t take it very seriously. These folks ignore context and a text without a context is a pretext or as my Australian friend Jarrod McKenna says “a text without a context is a con.”

These folks have what I call the Old McDonald approach to the Bible, here a verse, there a verse, everywhere a verse verse. Contemporary fundamentalist preaching is like this; a string of verses on a chain like pearls that all make whatever point the preacher is seeking to get across.

That makes the Bible flat and you can do all kinds of strange things with a flat Bible. It’s like silly putty. A flat reading of the Bible is like a 2D grainy black and white silent film compared to reading the Bible on a Hi-Def BIG HDTV screen with Blu-Ray color and Bose Surround Sound in 4D. Now what would you rather have? A thin schemer of old butter on cold toast or a rich robust Feast?

There is a way to read the Bible that is life-giving, thoughtful and joyous. How Scripture is deployed says a lot more than what is believed about it. Believing something to be true about the Bible does not make it true no matter how many have shouted it.

What counts, ultimately, is the way the Bible is rendered in your life, that is, how your life is the living interpretation of the Bible.

Protestants frequently argue that because Jesus quoted the Jewish Bible, this means that he accepted its authority as a whole. When they do this they import a modern view of the authority of Scripture or canon back into the past.

The fact is that there were many and varied views of the authority of the biblical writings and not all groups in Jesus’ time had the same view of biblical authority. It is also true that the way the New Testament writers and Jesus quote and interpret Scripture follows certain patterns in their culture.

Groups in Jesus’ day had rules or guidelines for interpreting the biblical text. The key question for us and one that is rarely raised is this: Did Jesus have a way of using his Bible that was different from those around him? I suggest that he did.

The key text for us to explore in this section will come from Jesus’ inaugural sermon at his hometown synagogue in Nazareth found in the Gospel of Luke (4:16-30).

To be fair, many critical scholars see the hand of the Gospel editor all over this text, noting that many phrases are typical of Luke. Nevertheless, I suspect that there is an authentic story underlying this text inasmuch as Jesus’ first sermon almost gets him killed.

There is also a tremendous congruity with how Jesus interprets the Scripture in this text and his way of understanding both theology and ethics that we find in his teaching, e.g., in the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6).

In Luke 4 Jesus returns to his hometown in Nazareth after having been baptized and then tested in the wilderness. He enters the synagogue and is asked to be the Scripture reader.

In Jesus’ day this could have taken two forms, the first is the actual reader (vocalizer) of the Hebrew text that would not have been understood by Galileans. It would be like someone reading from the Greek New Testament in church today.

The second role would be that of a translator/interpreter known as a targumist. This person would not read from a scroll but recite from memory a ‘standard’ translation (a Targum) in Aramaic that was the common Semitic tongue in Palestine. Luke appears unclear as to which role Jesus took, perhaps conflating both roles into one. Nevertheless in Luke, Jesus arises takes the scroll and reads from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

After this he rolls the scroll up, hands it over to the attendant, who puts it away and then Jesus sits down. The sermon was short and sweet. He says, “Today this text has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Now what follows is strange for at first it appears that the listeners are quite glad for what Jesus said. But he retorts rather sarcastically and then proceeds to cite two examples (Elijah and Elisha) to justify his sarcasm. It is at this point that the crowd wants to take him out and kill him by throwing him off a cliff.

This really doesn’t make much sense. Some interpreters might argue that what got Jesus in trouble was some sort of ‘divine’ claim, that God had anointed him to be special. But is such the case?

In my next post, in order to see what is happening here in Luke 4, we shall note three critical but interrelated aspects of this episode. First, we will note the way Jesus cites the book of Isaiah compared to what is actually in Isaiah. Second, we will look at the translation problem of verse 22. Third we will look at why Jesus uses these specific examples from Elijah and Elisha to make his point.

get to know me: my approach to interpreting the Bible, in 5 words
Is Tony Campolo a Bad Parent According to Proverbs?
brief Bible thought: is there resurrection from the dead in the Old Testament?
Does the Old Testament predict Easter? (No. Actually, it does more.)
  • http://www.faithmeetsworld.com/ Rob Grayson

    Excellent! Looking forward to the remaining parts.

  • mark

    Protestants frequently argue that because Jesus quoted the Jewish Bible, this means that he accepted its authority as a whole. When they do this they import a modern view of the authority of Scripture or canon back into the past.

    The fact is that there were many and varied views of the authority of the biblical writings and not all groups in Jesus’ time had the same view of biblical authority. It is also true that the way the New Testament writers and Jesus quote and interpret Scripture follows certain patterns in their culture.

    Groups in Jesus’ day had rules or guidelines for interpreting the biblical text. The key question for us and one that is rarely raised is this: Did Jesus have a way of using his Bible that was different from those around him? I suggest that he did.

    Michael is on to a very important topic here. I’d like to suggest that it’s necessary to go beyond what Michael does (to this point). I maintain that there is a very clear difference between the way Jesus–as presented speaking in the Gospels in his own voice–treats the Israelite scriptures and the way the evangelists–speaking in the Gospels as narrators and editors–treat the Israelite scriptures. Jesus, speaking in his own voice, gives his own words precedence over the scriptural words, asserts that important parts of the scriptures are “traditions of men,” or were given (by Moses) because of the hardness of men’s hearts. Etc. It’s the evangelists as editors and narrators who offer us the infancy narratives and editorial comments like: he said that to fulfill this. You don’t typically find Jesus saying those sorts of things; rather, he adopts what amounts to an almost deconstructive approach to the Israelite scriptures.

    The specific example from Luke that Michael offers is a case in point. Joachim Jeremias points out two factors that assist in explaining this passage, which seems so perplexing at first: why does Jesus adopt such an antagonistic attitude toward people who (in English translation) seem so well disposed toward him? The answer is that they’re not at all well disposed toward Jesus’ message. What Jesus does with the passage from Isaiah is to omit references to divine vengeance against the Gentiles, transforming Isaiah into a message of universal outreach. His listeners respond with an “adversative dative”: they testify against Jesus, not in favor of him. (There are other examples of this adversative usage of the dative in NT Greek, but I can’t cite the passages off the top of my head.) Jesus, far from backing down, then proceeds to rub salt in the wounds of his listeners by citing examples of God favoring Gentiles when there were plenty of Israelites in need of a bit of divine aid. No wonder they seek to kill him! But that’s Jesus “speaking on his own authority,” using and abusing scriptural texts simply to make the point that’s so important: HIS point.

    Usually people will object by citing Lk 24–didn’t Jesus “open up ALL the scriptures” that were about him on the road to Emmaus? Doesn’t that mean that “he had to” fulfill all the scriptures? My response is that this is another theological narrative, in which Jesus is portrayed as leading the very first Bible Study Group, in line with Jewish expectations. That it isn’t entirely historical is strongly suggested by the fact that not only do the disciples not bother recording the important exegetical points Jesus was making, but nowhere in succeeding NT literature do we find any example of Jesus’ exegesis of the Israelite scriptures–only his subordinating them to his own purposes.

    Big topic, of course. I wrote about them at some length in a number of blogs, including Jesus and the Israelite Scriptures and The One Who Is To Come.

    • Michael Hardin

      haha! You’re stealing my thunder Mark. I’m getting there. Pete asked me to do four posts.

      • mark

        I’ll be reading with interest, Michael.

    • Jim

      I know I’m straying a bit off the path, so apologies to Michael (his
      part 1 of this series was great). Mark, as you mention in your first line
      ” … Jesus quoted the Jewish Bible”, I’m wondering if you have read
      and can recommend Chris Keith’s “Jesus Against the Scribal Elite”. I apologize again for straying away from the OP, but I am interested in the analysis of how Jesus interpreted the Scriptures (as Michael mentions) and the resulting friction with his opponents.

      • mark

        No I haven’t, Jim, but I’ll look it up. Thanks.

        • mark

          Checked it out on Amazon and it looks very interesting. Thanks again.

          • Jim

            Thanks Mark & lbehrendt, I may go for it. I was just worried that it may be aimed at a more versed audience than an armchair wizard like me.

      • http://jewishchristianintersections.com/ lbehrendt

        Jim, I can strongly recommend Keith’s book.

        • Jim

          TY for your recommendation

      • peteenns

        I read spot read the galley proofs and think the book is a great contribution to the dialogue with Sanders. I know I learned from it.

    • Andrew Dowling

      I generally agree Mark, but if we’re going to talk about historical plausibility and narrative frameworks, I don’t see this passage in Luke (his ‘first sermon in the synagogue’ is found in no other Gospel) at all being historical and in effect being Luke, who in Acts is very insistent on the Gentile Christian church being the rightful inheritors of the Israelite tradition, painting this narrative to show Jesus “igniting that match” so to speak.

      Jesus very likely said and did things that inferred greater inclusion into the community of God’s people, but if he’d been explicit regarding Gentile inclusion his followers wouldn’t have debated about it for 20+ years afterwards.

      • peteenns

        I think you are right, Andrew, and Michael is aware of this. On the other hand–if I can speak for Michael–to push the “mass market” of Christian readers out there to think differently, what you say may be too big of a hill to climb and result in rejecting all of what he is saying. In fact, accepting these words as those of the real Jesus (so to speak) makes stronger the point of the need to reframe a theology of wrath. I’m just thinking out loud here, though.

        • Andrew Dowling

          I concur Pete, and my comment wasn’t directed at Michael. Mark is an astute and knowledgeable poster, although I think sometimes he posits a Jesus who is a wee bit ‘contra Judaism’ than was the case. But I have no problem with “assuming” the Isiah passage happened for the sake of argument. Like many Gospel passages, I think it generally fits in with the character of Jesus remembered even if not strictly historical

          • Michael Hardin

            As you can see frommy Christological quadrilateral, for me, whether we are dealing with the Lukan editor or Jesus or both, there is something awesome happening in the text!

      • Michael Hardin

        For sure I am not a ‘red-letterite!’ On the other hand there is a certain ‘feel’ to the text that leads me to think that, even if not historically demonstrable, still reflects the hermeneutic found in the Jesus tradition. On the other hand I think one could make a case for authenticity of the way Jesus is narrated to have used the text. In the Jesus Driven Life I suggest a Christological reframing of the Weslyan Quadrilateral, thus: ”

        In the 18th century John Wesley was credited with
        using four different sources to do theology: Scripture, reason, tradition and
        experience. So draw a square and place each on these terms in each of the four
        corners. Now each of these categories needs to be defined. What is reason?
        Experience? What part of the tradition shall we recognize as authoritative? And
        do we all agree on what constitutes the biblical canon? Each of these has been
        discussed and debated from the early church to the present. What I would like
        to do is to “christologize” them, that is make each Jesus centered. So take
        your square and next to each one write:

        Scripture = The Textual Jesus

        Reason = “The Historical Jesus”

        Tradition = “The Ecclesial Jesus”

        Experience = “The Risen Jesus”

        The chronological order of these for the early church was
        experience, tradition, scripture, reason. They are not necessarily our
        chronological frame. We may come to Jesus through any one the four corners and
        it is Jesus we encounter. But if we remain in one corner to the exclusion of
        the others we will not know Jesus fully for He is manifested not just in our
        experience, not just in our tradition, not just in the Bible and not just in
        our academic discourse about him. He is known best when all four are engaged.

        First, The Risen Jesus. This is our personal experience of
        the presence of Jesus in our lives by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

        Second, the Ecclesial Jesus. This is Jesus as we may know
        him through the teaching of others who have gone before us and especially as we
        gather together as the Body of Jesus (Christ) today. This recognizes that no
        understanding of Jesus is just private but is interpersonal or
        inter-relational.

        Third, the Textual Jesus. This is the recognition that each
        of the four gospels paints a different portrait of Jesus, that the writers of
        the gospels have a theological agenda when they write, that we may discern that
        agenda and that we may learn from it how they understood Jesus.

        Fourth, “The Historical Jesus.” You will note that this last
        is in quotes because the so-called “historical Jesus’ is a creation of academic
        imagination. It is the attempt to try and discern who Jesus was in the context
        of his culture and environment and which sayings of his can be considered
        historically credible or authentic. The quotation marks indicate the changing
        nature of this Jesus. As we learn more about second Temple Judaism
        and the various groups and worldviews and theologies of his time so also we see
        Jesus differently.

        Each of these is necessary for us to come to a well rounded
        and more complete view of Jesus. No one alone suffices. Not even two or three
        suffice. Some would say that we do not need “the Historical Jesus” but the
        problem here is that the Jesus they end up speaking about loses his humanity
        and connection to a particular space and time. This is a form of Christian
        Gnosticism. Some scholars, on the other hand, would virtually tell us that
        anything but the “Historical Jesus” is baloney and so they miss out on the fact
        that Jesus is known beyond just the intellect. Some [so-called] “historical
        Jesus” portraits are just as suspect as those who would just claim one or two
        of the sides of the square.
        All four together are necessary and can function as a
        control on the other three at any given time. How then do we know Jesus? In
        worship together, in study together, in reflection together and in reasoning
        together. We know Him together as His Body. Those who would focus on one
        extreme or another will never know the beauty, the reality, the joy that is
        Jesus, Lord of all creation, reconciler of all creation and redeemer of all
        creation.

        • Andrew Dowling

          Michael, well stated. See my response to Pete . . I wasn’t intending to sour on the topic by focusing on my view of the passage’s non-historicity . . it was more in response to a point of Mark’s.

          • Michael Hardin

            no worries!

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    I don’t think Jesus thought of the Old Testament as authoritative the way some believers think the entire Bible is authoritative and inerrant. But this is a topic I would like to hear more about.

    I look forward eagerly to the rest of the series.

    • mark

      Perhaps one way to put the issue would be this: The evangelists and others in the early Church tended to adopt the Second Temple Jewish approach to the Israelite scriptures, applying that approach to Jesus. They didn’t do this blindly nor exclusively, but it was certainly a significant tendency within the Christian tradition. This tendency became normative for Christians especially following the “Reformation,” the Church essentially buying into that approach, too, in reaction to the “Reformers.”

      There is unfortunately little understanding of the concepts of “scripture” and “revelation” within Christian theology, from a comparative religions standpoint.

      • John W. Morehead

        Thanks for these thoughts, Mark. By way of clarification, in your second paragraph when you reference hermeneutical concepts in light of comparative religions do you mean taking Second Temple Judaism’s methods and the broader religio-cultural context of the early church into account?

        • mark

          Yeah, go ahead, put me on the spot. :-) Let me try it this way. There are quite a few societies in history that have culturally authoritative writings, including with “religious” significance–Greek, Persian, Indian, Chinese, etc. IOW, “scriptures.” These are often, perhaps typically, regarded as revelatory in some way. By Second Temple times this had certainly become the case in Israelite/Jewish society with regard to writings that went back to the pre-Exilic period. The early Christians certainly tended to adopt that paradigm, but as Michael is pointing out (and as I have attempted also) this is not always an easy fit for Christian faith. Probably IMO because of the overwhelming impact of the early Christian experience of Jesus and his resurrection, those aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry that make this scripture/revelation paradigm an uneasy fit are preserved in the early Christian writings. I’ve written here before that I believe Paul, when pushed, is aware of this–he pins his belief and hope ultimately on Jesus resurrected, not on a “fulfillment narrative.”

          What I’m suggesting, therefore, that we examine this scripture/revelation paradigm from the standpoint of cmparative religions and evaluate it from that POV with regard to early Christianity as a whole.

          • John W. Morehead

            Thanks for the further thoughts. I’m reading one of the essays on this that you linked to on your site. I notice that at one point you look at Jesus’ use and modification of Isa. 61 in light of Israel’s concept of Yahweh as a warrior God. It is interesting that Derek Flood has picked up on the same passage in an article in Huffington Post and later incorporated into his book “Healing the Gospel” to argue that this characterizes not only Jesus’ use of Scripture, but Paul’s too. I referenced this in an essay for Fuller Seminary’s “Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue” journal as I set forth a new hermeneutic for engaging the religions, only to have one respondent accuse me of alleged cherry picking. Our hermeneutical assumptions are challenged only with great difficulty. Thanks again.

          • peteenns

            Ah, cherry picking. When all else fails, the go-to criticism, a close second to the “you sound Hitler” counterpunch :-)

          • Michael Hardin

            In fact my work in The Jesus Driven Life had some influence on Derek (who is a friend) and whose work on paul I have appreciated. I recall saying in a footnote in The Jesus Driven Life that I think we can demonstrate that Jesus ‘cherry-picked’ both from his ‘theological’ cultural milieu as well as his textual tradition(s).

  • John Stamps

    Until we can chant the Hebrew text (like any 12-year old Jewish boy earning his bar mitzvah), we don’t have a clue how to read the Bible like Jesus read it. Or to be more precise, to sing the Hebrew Bible like Jesus sung it. My suggestion might be hopelessly anachronistic, but I don’t see any alternative. Reading a text versus chanting or singing a text are very different felt experiences.

    • mark

      sing, sang, sung

      grammar is your friend. spelling is, too. i was mortified by some of my typos, earlier. capitalization? ehhh, not so much.

      • John Stamps

        Argh. Thank you for the correction. Here are some new errors to proof. Let me amplify my previous point. What I’m suggesting here is, by singing the Torah or the Psalms, this creates for us a felt ethos or a lived environment we wouldn’t otherwise get by sitting in Speer Library at PTS, BDB in one hand and Stuttgartensia in the other. If we indeed sing the songs of Zion, however anachronistic, we have a very different experience of Holy Scripture (which is more than a “text”) than historical-critical exegesis will ever give us — I prefer one imaginative construct to the other, but maybe we don’t need to choose. None one should be allowed to comment on Mark 15:34 if you don’t have the Psalter memorized and can chant it, if not in Greek or Hebrew, then at least English. With the plaintive longings created in our heart from existentially knowing and singing the Scriptures, what an exegetical divident results when we read “The kairos is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is near” or “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

        • Michael Hardin

          The liturgical side of me says “Yes!” to this John, the musician in me cries “Preach it!” I often find myself putting little melodies to texts I have memorized. I also think here of Milovec’s work on the oral character of the Didache and how, as a catechetical document, it was orally recited. Thanks for this simple (but not at all simplistic) observation.

  • http://jewishchristianintersections.com/ lbehrendt

    Michael, I don’t want to detour your discussion, but I’m curious what authority you use for two statements above. First is your statement that the Jews in synagogue would not have understood the Hebrew of Isaiah. Agreed, it is well-accepted that Aramaic was the primary language of first century Palestinian Jews, and the eventual existence of the Targums is some proof that some Palestinian Jews needed some help understanding the Hebrew of their ancient texts. But this is not to say that the Hebrew would have been “Greek” to them! Or is it? When I’ve raised this question elsewhere, I’ve been told that educated Jews in first-century Palestine would not have needed to study Hebrew as a foreign language, and that Aramaic is close enough to Hebrew so that an educated person literate in Hebrew would be able to move from one language to the other. Could it be that the Targums were something more like a study guide, the way I might need something written in modern English to fully understand Chaucer or Shakespeare?

    My second question has to do with the use of Targums in Jesus’ day. What authority do you have that the Targums had become an accepted part of synagogue practice at this point? Are you relying on the opinion of Lee Levine (who seems to be the leading expert on the ancient synagogue, and who I think agrees with you about how the Targums were used in Jesus’ time)?

    These questions arise in connection with my current interest in understanding the first century Palestinian synagogue, and in particular what Jesus did when he taught in synagogue.

    I’m not looking for an argument here (rare for me!). I’d just like to know what you know and how you know it.

    • mark

      Michael–I believe these questions are addressed to Michael.

      • http://jewishchristianintersections.com/ lbehrendt

        Yes! I caught that, and edited my comment accordingly. Though you’re welcome to chime in!

    • Michael Hardin

      Regarding literacy I have depended on William Harris, Ancient Literacy. As for the Targums and canonical issues I have used many sources perhaps the most useful to me has been Jan Mulder, ed, Mikra, although I also have benefited from McNamara, Chilton and others (as well as the research of Aramaic scholars Dalman, Jeremias, Black, Chilton, Fitzmeyer and McNamara inter alia). The question of Hebrew as a ‘known’ language would I suspect be true of an “educated person literate in Hebrew “, especially those in a scribal role, esp in Jerusalem or Capernaum, but whether those literacy rates would carry over into a small town Galilean synagogue is questionable (for me at least).

  • ajl

    “To be fair, many critical scholars see the hand of the Gospel editor all over this text, noting that many phrases are typical of Luke”

    I think Luke also sees his hand in it :-) Afterall, he begins his gospel by saying that “lots of people have been writing about Jesus I figured I’d take a shot at writing about Jesus too”. That also explains why he would conflate the reading and interpreting of the scripture and just attribute it to Jesus for brevity. Luke gives us no indication that would he has written is, to pardon the pun, Gospel.

    As for the trouble with what Jesus says, I don’t think it has to do with him claiming to be a deity in this case. Rather, he is doing something he consistently does throughout the parables in Luke: telling the “in” crowd they are “out” and reminding them that the “out” crowd is “in”. In today’s vernacular I could almost hear him saying: you think you’re so special, well when Elijah had to bless someone he didn’t go to any of you people he went to someone from Zarephath. Man, what is insult that must have been. But that was the point he was ushering in the concept that the gospel means that those on the outside are now included.

    • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

      Good observations; I have often wondered about this from a modern psychological theory framework. According to LMX theory, people self-stratify into in-groups and out-groups, and become very uncomfortable when this is threatened. I have often wondered how this played out in Jesus’ ministry.

      • ajl

        I think it is a major theme. In fact I think it is a major theme throughout the Bible that goes overlooked. Almost all of Jesus’ parables could be read through this lens.

        In the OT you have many examples of this too: Rahab, King Nebby, Job.

  • http://thescripturesays.wordpress.com/ Josh

    Sounds great, look forward to the rest of the series.

  • Bryan

    I get the gist of what Hardin is trying to do here and we do need material like this but in all fairness when we refer to Jesus’ Bible, this comes across as misleading. Especially for those who lean towards fundamentalism. There was no “Bible” at this time, that is, nothing secured in a codex. When words such as “Bible are used in contexts such as this, Jesus’ context, it is quite anachronistic to reference it in these terms. I think it is far more helpful to simply refer to them as Scriptures.

    • peteenns

      You are correct, of course, but this is subtlety lost on the mass readers Michael is trying to reach.

  • Andrew

    Luke 4:22 Καὶ πάντες ἐμαρτύρουν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐθαύμαζον ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις τῆς χάριτος τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔλεγον· οὐχὶ υἱός ἐστιν Ἰωσὴφ οὗτος;

    ESV: And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

    How about: And everyone was bearing witness against him. And they were becoming disturbed over the words of grace, which proceeded from his mouth. And they were saying: “Is this (man) not the son of Joseph?”

    Becoming disturbed (thaumazō) can be either positive or negative: to be extraordinarily impressed or disturbed by something (BDAG).

    • peteenns

      Check out Part 2, Andrew :-)

      • Andrew

        I will.

      • Andrew

        Also, do you agree with Michael that Christians are called to be non-violent and peaceful? I don’t think I’ve come across anything actually written by you on your position.

    • Michael Hardin

      That’s where I’m going!

      • Andrew

        That’s what I figured. I also knew you’d point out why it is significant that Jesus stopped reading where he did.

  • James

    There are a lot of moving parts in this introduction. We jump from how modern preachers misuse scriptures to how Jesus may have used them and how Luke may have interpreted what Jesus used. But this introduces the realization that the canon of Jewish scriptures was not closed until after the time Jesus used (sang) them! I hope subsequent posts clarify these matters.

  • http://www.ranker.com Peter

    I agree what counts is that you read the bible. It does not matter how you read it, as long as you take the time to enjoy the works of the bible.

  • J Garcia

    Thanks for this contribution. I just wanted to touch briefly on a couple of your comments that have implications for the use of language in first century CE Judea and Galilee.

    I am not sure there is any need to see an editor’s hand (at least a heavy hand) in the Luke 4 narrative in order to explain the unique qualities of this passage. Jesus enters the synagogue “as was his custom” and reads from the book of Isaiah. The language “book (βιβλίον) of Isaiah” is actually not in error and has been a noted Hebraism that we find in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Notley, “Jesus Jewish Hermeneutical Method in the Nazareth Synagogue;” and idem and Jeff Garcia, “Hebrew-Only Exegesis”).

    Further, Jesus’ “standing to read” has been suggested by Shmuel Safrai (“Synagogue and Sabbath,” Jerusalem Perspective) to indicate that Jesus read from the Torah, since according to Rabbinic sources “one stands” to read from the Torah (m. Yoma 7:1). The Isaiah passage, in this case, is the haftarah or closing portion of what is read in the synagogue on a weekly basis. The reason a
    targumist (Meturgamen) is not present is because the story reflects historical
    practice. There is no evidence of the use of the Aramaic targums in Judean or
    Galilean synagogue prior to First Jewish Revolt (68-73CE). The reason for the
    missing targumist in Luke 4 is because the Jews (not simply the educated) in
    the Galilee and Judea could speak and understand Hebrew. In fact Hebrew, it
    appears, was one of three important spoken languages of the time (the others
    being Greek and Aramaic).

    For far too long NT scholars (not all) have ignored contemporary studies on the language situation in the 1st century CE, especially in the Land of Israel.
    There appears to be a chasm between NT and Jewish studies scholars in this
    regard. Yet, since the work M. Segal in 1908, philologists have argued that
    Hebrew was likely a living language. Numerous Israeli scholars supported
    Segal’s theory, Chaim Rabin, Eduard Kutscher, Moshe Bar Asher, etc., and, most
    recently, Takitsu Muraoka. Unfortunately, many of these studies have not been
    translated from Modern Hebrew and many NT scholars are not trained to read
    Modern Hebrew. The works of Segal, Kutscher, and Muraoka are in English,
    however—as are the works of Gary Rendsburg.

    To that we add the preponderance of Hebrew literature found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, esp. Hebrew Bible manuscripts, to the minimal amount of Aramaic translations of Scripture discovered—of which none of them reflect the linguistic stylings of the later targumim. So, there is, unfortunately, disparity between many NT scholars and scholars that work on the language situation in antiquity. In the Luke text, which I and my colleague write about in the shamelessly plugged volume below, it appears that the missing Meturgamen is just simply the reality of a synagogue in the Second Temple period. To this I add that the audience’s response in the synagogue reflects that they understood Jesus’ innovative exegesis that is only possible with the Hebrew versions of the Bible.

    Now that we have come this far, allow me to shamelessly plug a new work, in which I co-authored an article dealing in part with Jesus’ interpretation of Scripture and the style of interpretation he employs when working with Isaiah. In fact the volume deals with a lot of the thorny issues of language in first century Judaea (which geographically includes the Galilee), which is why the volume is called THE LANGUAGE ENVIRONMENT IN FIRST CENTURY JUDAEA (eds. R. Buth and R. Steven Notley; Leiden: Brill, 2014). In particular, there is an article that deals with the the historical, religious, and cultural presuppositions that lead to the Aramaic-only model of Jesus’ world.

    See how connected everything is my shameless plug.

    I apologize…I do…a bit.

    Here is a link to the volume: http://www.brill.com/products/book/language-environment-first-century-judaea

    See also:
    http://nyackajco.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/the-language-environment-of-first-century-judaea-brill/

    • Michael Hardin

      Thank you for this. I freely admit I am no expert in this area and will gladly read you book (which I am glad you plugged!). In fact it is now on my amazon to buy list!

      • Michael Hardin

        And at $200 it better be really good!!! (I know, its Brill, so it will be).

        • J Garcia

          Ha! I was going to say that you are blessed to be able to add a Brill volume to your buy list. Most Brill volumes never leave my WISH list!

          • Michael Hardin

            Well this is a topic I am interested in and like to collect.

          • J Garcia

            Indeed…perhaps we can petition Brill to have an Easter sale.

          • Michael Hardin

            you could also ask them to send me a review copy!

          • J Garcia

            Ah yes, but, alas, I am but a lowly contributor.


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