Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yeshua, Jacob and Simeon

Eusebius (b. 265 – d. 339/340 CE; aka Eusebius of Caesarea and Eusebius Pamphili) was Bishop of Caesarea and the personal historian of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. In his Church History, Eusebius wrote the first surviving history of the Christian Church as a chronologically-ordered account, based on earlier sources, complete from the period of the Apostles to his own time.1 Many questions have been raised about his agenda, since he was the emperor’s personal historian and a bishop, and the accuracy of the information. But, the sources he used often provided information that should not be ignored. Read complete blog at -- http://fromonejesus.blogspot.com/2015/01/yeshua-jacob-and-simeon.html

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Early Christianity and Early Rabbinic Judaism

(The format of this study is to present the material through the mouths of guides, instead of an article format.)

Guide #1:        An important critical juncture in history took place when the Romans crucified Yeshua (Jesus). Suddenly his movement found itself without a leader and knew there were limits to Rome’s tolerance.

Guide #2:        Yeshua’s brother Jacob became the new leader.  For some reason, many translators of English New Testaments chose to call him “James,” even though they translate the same Greek word “Jacob” when it refers to others. Jacob, along with Peter and John, became the senior leaders of the group.

Guide #1:        The center of the Yeshua Movement was Jerusalem, specifically the Temple. The fact that its leaders, specifically Peter and John, continued to be actively involved in daily Temple rituals reveals that it was clearly a Jewish sect.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Yeshua Another Christ

(The following is from our upcoming book.)

Guide #1:        Two terms used to describe Yeshua have been completely misunderstood by Gentiles from the beginning of Christianity – Christ and Son of God. In Gentile minds, these terms are exclusive titles that apply to no other person than Yeshua (Jesus). He, they believed and taught, was the only “Christ” and “Son of God.” As time passed, the titles also became linked to deity – Christ and Son of God were titles of God.

Dr. Tennison: A common assumption among people is that “Christ” was the last name of
Jesus.  There is good reason for this assumption, since he was called “Jesus Christ” in the New Testament itself.  The more accurate phrase, however, is “Yeshua the Christ”, because “Christ” is a title and not a name. Christ is the English transliteration of the Greek word christos, a form of the Greek verb chrio that means "to pour." In Yeshua’s world he would have been called the mashiach, a Hebrew word instead of the Greek word. Both words -- christos and mashiach –are translated “anointed.” As a title, the translation would be “anointed one.” Therefore, the correct translation is “Yeshua the Anointed One.”

Guide #2:        Something that most people do not know is that there have been many “Christs” in the history of the Jewish people. The first Christ of the Hebrew Scriptures was Aaron, the brother of Moses, who was anointed as a priest (Exodus 29:7).  Another Christ, a priest, appears in Leviticus 4:5.  The first king to be a Christ was Saul (I Samuel 9:16).  There was even a Persian Gentile that is one of the most interesting of the Christs: In Isaiah 45:1 we read -- Cyrus the King of the Persians!  

Guide #1:        The anointing of persons and objects with oil was widespread in ancient Israel and its environment for both practical and symbolic reasons.  Anointing was used to inaugurate kings, consecrate priests, and for the rehabilitation of lepers.  The Hebrew root word for anointing is MShCh, and throughout the Bible it implies that the anointment came from God.  The attribute MAShIACh ("anointed") came to designate the king and high priest and, by extension, other divinely appointed functionaries who were not anointed at all (e.g., prophets, the patriarchs, and even foreign kings). 

Guide #2:        In Israel, anointment conferred upon the king the "RU'ACH of YHVH" ("the spirit of Yahweh"), i.e., his support, strength, and wisdom.  The king absorbed divine attributes through unction, a phenomenon attested nowhere else. On the other hand, the anointment of the high priest served an entirely different function.  It conferred neither RU'ACH nor any other divine attribute.

Guide #1:        Now let’s read the following verse from Mark 1 – It came to pass in those days that Yeshua came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, `You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” (Mark 1:9-11)

Guide #2:        Notice that when Yeshua was baptized two things happened: (1) the RU’ACH (Spirit) descended upon him; and (2) God called Yeshua “My Son.” In the Jewish culture, those two things would have been understood to mean that Yeshua became the Anointed One and the adopted Son of God at the moment he was baptized.

Guide #1:        In Israel, a king was the adopted “Son of God” – a human who absorbed divine attributes through unction, a phenomenon attested nowhere else. It didn’t mean the king was another God, a “little” God and neither did the title “Anointed One.” The question this would have raised in the mind of the Jewish people of the first century is this – What was Yeshua anointed to do?

Jim Myers

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An Unnamed Rich Man and a Poor Man Named Lazarus

The story of the “Rich Man and Lazarus” is a well-known parable of Yeshua (Jesus). The MASHAL (parable) was a distinctively Jewish method of teaching. Parables were used to make important points and force hearer to make decisions. This parable reveals the cornerstone principle of Yeshua’s teachings and movement.

And a certain man was rich, and he was dressed in purple and fine linen, feasting every day, splendidly. And a certain poor man, named Lazarus, was lying by his gate, being covered with sores. And he desired to be satisfied from the things falling from the rich man’s table. But, the dogs came and licked his sores.

Rich men spend lots of money on things like monuments to make sure their names will be remembered. The only thing remembered about this man is that he was “a certain unnamed rich guy.” The name of a poor man lying by his gate, however, has not been forgotten. Read the complete article at -- http://biblicalheritage.org/DTB/0115_DTB_The_Rich_Man_and_Lazarus.pdf

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Eight Great Tips for Studying the Parables of Yeshua

I was reading Short Stories By Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy-Jill Levine and found eight great tips for studying the parables of Yeshua – and for Bible study in general.

(1) There’s an old saying in biblical studies (I first heard it from Ben Witherington III) -- a text without a context is just a pretext for making it say anything one wants. The more we know about the original contexts, the richer our understanding becomes, and the greater our appreciation for the artists and composers who created the works initially.

(2) In order better to hear the parables in their original contexts and so to determine what is normal and what is absurd, what is conventional and what is unexpected, we need to do the history.

(3) The parables are open-ended in that interpretation will take place in every act of reading, but they are also historically specific. When the historical context goes missing or we get it wrong, the parables become open to problematic and sometimes abusive readings.

(4) In listening to parables and appreciating them within their initial context, we also do well to listen for echoes of Israel’s scriptures, since the parable evoke earlier stories and then comment on them.

(5) Reading the parable in light of the antecedent narratives creates surprise and challenge; in turn, reading the antecedent narrative in light of the parable opens a host of new insights.

(6) Another maxim that frequently holds for biblical studies is -- the world of the people who wrote and first heard the texts is different from our world. We cannot map onto their cultures and contexts our own values or expectations. What seems odd to us might be perfectly normal to them.

(7) The trick is to determine what is surprising in the parable, and what is not. And there is much in Jesus’s parables that surprises.

(8) When we turn to Jesus’s parables, we do well to hear them as the people who first heard them, Jews in the Galilee and Judea.

I highly recommend Dr. Levine’s great book -- Short Stories By Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi & another book she co-authored -- The Jewish Annotated New Testament. Find links to both book at -- http://biblicalheritage.org/BHC%20Online%20Bookstore/real_yeshua_books.htm

Be Empowered,

Jim Myers