Monday, December 28, 2009

The Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research

(In Israel, on top of Masada, overlooking the Dead Sea)

I am enjoying reading David Bivin's New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus: Insights from His Jewish Context. Bivin is part of The Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, a consortium of Jewish and Christian scholars dedicated to understanding better the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), and to rethinking the Synoptic Problem. Our friends Hal and Mirja Ronning are two of the great scholars who belong to JSSR.

For example, chapter two of Bivin's book is called "Following a Rabbi." It's very clear and helpful to understand what it meant to call Jesus a "rabbi," which he was. There's a saying from a hundred years before Jesus that says, "Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself with the dust of your feet, and drink in their words thirstily." (Bivin, 12) The idea of one's feet being "covered with dust" is about someone who would follow after a rabbi and walk the dusty roads and paths with him as he traveled from place to place. "One literally had to follow a rabbi to learn from him, so if your rabbi traveled, you did too." (14) Bivin writes, "Had people not opened their homes to the rabbis, it would have been impossible for them to reach the masses with their message." (12)

Go to JSSR's website for a number of free articles. And thanks, Josh, for the Christmas gift of this book!