New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus

Reading New Light... will increase your love and respect for the man, Jesus, and summon your heart to walk after him in paths of discipleship. – Dwight A. Pryor

From the Forward
In this stimulating collection of writings…David Bivin offers you an opportunity that few have enjoyed: He will be your personal tour guide through the multi-hued Jewish landscape that frames the words of our Lord!
On this tour you will glimpse the world of the sages of Israel, the great teachers of the Torah, and the subtle and sophisticated teaching methods they use to explicate the Word of God. You will hear Jesus speak in his native tongue of Hebrew, and feel what it was like to be “covered in the dust” of this gifted first century rabbi. You will explore the culture and better understand the context of Jesus’ life and ministry as a man, and gain precious insights into his pre-eminent and pervasive teaching: the Kingdom of Heaven (God). – Dwight A. Pryor
From the Back Cover
In Jerusalem, David Bivin has interacted for decades with some of the best Jewish scholarship in the world. This book displays many of the brilliant Hebraic gems the author has mined that help illuminate the pages of the Gospels. Clearly written and very readable, Bivin shows why Christians need Rabbinic sources if they intend to know and understand Jesus in his first-century Jewish setting. New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus is a valuable resource for every serious student of Scripture. – Marvin R. Wilson, Gordon College
Table of Contents
I. A Jewish Rabbi Named Jesus
1. Jesus’ Formal Education 3
            Jesus’ Early Training 4
            Learning Through Memorization 5
2. Following a Rabbi 9
            A Typical First-Century Jewish Rabbi 10
            Covered in the Dust of the Rabbi 12
3. First-Century Discipleship 17
            Sacrifice 17
            Commitment 18
            Like a Father 19
4. Taking on Jesus’ Yoke 23
            Keys to Understanding Jesus’ Words 23
            The Cost of Discipleship 25
            Allusions to Other Scriptures 27
5. How Jesus’ Words Were Preserved 33
            The Accuracy of Oral Transmission 33
            Differences in the Order of Jesus’ Sayings 36
II. Jesus’ First-Century Jewish Context
6. Jesus Within Jewish Practice 41
            The Oral Torah 41
            Parallels in the Sayings of the Fathers 42
            Jesus and the Practice of Blessing 44
7. Of Hems, Tassels and Tefillin 49
            First-Century Garments 50
            Tefillin — Phylacteries 51
8. Jesus and the Unutterable Name of God 55
            Jehovah: A Christian Misunderstanding 56
            Jesus’ Reverence for the Name 57
9. The Jewish Prayers of Jesus 59
            The Central Prayer of Jewish Life 59
            The Amidah Prayer: A New Translation 61
10. Why Didn’t Jesus Get Married? 67
11. Miracle on the Sea of Galilee 71
            The Tough Work of the Fisherman 72
            The Miracle of the Catch 75
III. New Light on Jesus’ Teachings
12. The Rich Man Who Rejected the Kingdom 81
            What Was the Rich Man’s Question? 81
            Learning from the Story of the Rich Young Ruler 84
13. Us and Them: Loving Both 89
            The Essene Vow of Hatred 90
14. Jesus’ Technical Terms About the Law 93
            Destroying or Fulfilling the Law 93
            Not One Jot or Tittle 94
            The Importance of Light Commandments 96
            Binding and Loosing 98
15. Jesus’ View of Pacifism 103
            Kill or Murder? 103
            Do Not Try to Outdo Evildoers 105
16. Jesus’ Attitude Toward Poverty 109
            The Choking Tentacles of Riches 111
17. On Divorce and Remarriage 115
            Nuances of “And” in Hebrew 115
            The Debate on Divorce in Jesus’ Time 116
            What Would Jesus Do? 120
IV. The Kingdom Is Here
18. Seeing and Hearing the Kingdom of Heaven 127
19. “Prophet” as a Messianic Title 133
            Greater Than Moses 135
            Messiah the Prophet 135
20. The Strength of Weakness 137
            Faith as Dependence on God 138
21. Requirements for Gentiles 141
22. The Root of the Olive Tree 145
Postscript to The Root of the Olive Tree 151
Glossary 155
Bibliography 161
Index 167
About the Author 175
About the En-Gedi Resource Center 177
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