APRIL, 2012---Serious students of the Bible know that Jewish writings from the Second Temple Period provide valuable background information for understanding the New Testament.
reverse is also true. The New Testament itself is a Jewish text and is a key
source of data about Second Temple Judaism. In fact, New Testament passages
give the first known written references to certain aspects of Jewish life and
Testament scholar R. Steven Notley lists three
examples in a 2009 paper.1 The first
of these examples is geographical: The New Testament gives the earliest known
references to places in Galilee like Tiberias,
Nazareth, Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida.
examples involve religious traditions. The custom of naming a son at his
circumcision first appears in the Gospel of Luke in the cases of John the
Baptist (Luke 1:59-63) and Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 2:21). Notley
notes that the next known reference to this custom is in Pirke
de Rabbi Eliezer, a source from the seventh century A.D.
synagogue custom of following a public reading from the Torah with a reading
from the Prophets is also first attested in the Gospel of Luke. In the account
of Jesus' visit to the Nazareth synagogue, Jesus reads from the scroll of the
prophet Isaiah (Luke 4:16-19).
After the New Testament, the next known reference to this practice comes
from the Mishnah (m. Meg. 4.2) from the early third century A.D.
Notley mentioned two further examples at a seminar sponsored by
the Center for Judaic-Christian Studies in Dayton, Ohio, on April 14, 2012. The
practice of determining Jewish identity matrilineally-i.e.,
according to the identity of the mother-is first seen with Timothy, disciple of
the apostle Paul. Timothy, the son of a Gentile father and a Jewish mother, was
considered to be Jewish (Acts 16:1-3).
addition, the custom of blessing God before a meal is first recorded in the New
Testament (Matt 15:36; 26:26; Mark 6:41; 8:6; Luke 9:16; 22:19; Acts 27:35; I Cor 11:24).
connection with blessings before meals, Notley
observed that several centuries after Jesus, there is a discussion in the
Talmud about the proper procedure for this practice. Should a blessing be
recited, and then bread broken, or should a blessing be completed over a piece
of broken bread?2 The New
Testament weighs in on this debate, Notley noted,
since apparently the bread is broken after the blessing in every New Testament
like these underscore the historical authenticity of the New Testament text.
Even in incidental details, the apostolic writings are consistent with
traditions recorded in later extrabiblical sources.
The New Testament is a valid-and valuable-historical resource.
Hermeneutical Method in the Nazareth Synagogue," pp. 46-59 in Early
Christian Literature and Intertextuality, Volume 2: Exegetical Studies,
Craig A. Evans and H. Daniel Zacharias, eds., T. & T. Clark, London, 2009.
translated from TEX by TTH,
On 18 Apr 2012, 14:01.