Was Jesus a rabbi?
QuestionAnswer According to the gospels, Jesus had a well-deserved reputation as a respected Jewish rabbi (Mark 14:45; John 1:38). In Mark 9:5, Peter addresses Jesus as “Rabbi,” while Mary Magdalene addresses Jesus as “Rabbi” in John 20:16. Furthermore, the Jewish ruler Nicodemus believed that this title was fitting for Jesus, saying, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. We honor you with this title.” Because no one could achieve the miracles you are performing if God were not present” (John 3:2).
According to John 1:38, the titles “Rabbi” and “Teacher” are interchangeable.
Rabbis are frequently called upon to serve as heads of synagogues, where they impart knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish customs.
Despite the fact that Jesus was never a member of the formal temple leadership, He was nonetheless regarded as a rabbi as a result of His teaching career.
It is believed that the term “rabbi” was employed in a more casual manner than it is today during the first century AD.
When it comes to rabbis, the Mishna refers to Gamaliel the Elder, who instructed Saul of Tarsus and who is named in Acts 5:34–40, as a teacher: There has been no more regard for the law since Rabban Gamaliel the Elder passed away, and purity and piety have also faded out at the same time” (Sotah15:18).
There can be little doubt that Jesus was regarded as a knowledgeable teacher, and as such could be correctly classified as a rabbi in the manner in which the term was used during Jesus’ lifetime.
As time progressed, the definition of a rabbi continued to shift.
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Gamaliel – Wikipedia
Gamaliel the Elder is the subject of this article. See Gamaliel for information on additional people and uses (disambiguation). R. Gamaliel as represented in a miniature from the Middle Ages GAMALIEL THE ELDER (also spelt GAMLIEL; Hebrew: ) was an Israelite rabbi who lived in the first century CE. He was also known as Gamaliel the Elder (also spelled GAMLIEL) and Gamaliel the Elder (also called Gamliel) was an Israelite rabbi who lived in the first century CE. Rabban Gamlyl hazZqn (Koin Greek: oGamalil ho Presbteros), also known asRabban Gamaliel I, was a prominent figure in theSanhedrin during the early first century AD.
Gamaliel is believed to have died in the year 52 AD (AM 3813).
As a Phariseedoctor of Jewish Law in the Christian tradition, Gamaliel is revered as a Pharisee in the Jewish tradition.
Acts of the Apostles, chapter 5 describes Gamaliel as a man who is held in high regard by all Jews and as the Jewish law teacher of Paul the Apostle in Acts 22:3, among other things. According to Acts 5:34, Gamalielencouraged his fellow Pharisees to show mercy toward the apostles of Jesus Christ.
In Jewish tradition
Rabban Gamaliel (Hebrew: ) is a religious leader in Israel. Among Gamaliel’s many titles in the Talmud are “prince” and “rabban,” which refer to his position as president of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem; although some scholars dispute this, it is unquestionable that he had an important role in the city’s highest court. Gamaliel is regarded as one of the greatest instructors in the history of Judaism, according to the Mishnah: “Since Rabban Gamaliel the Elder died, there has been no more reverence for the Torah, and purity and piety have also gone away at the same time.” There are two Mishnaic tales that demonstrate Gamaliel’s authority on problems of religious law, in which “the king and queen” seek his opinion on ceremonies.
- The identities of the king and queen in question are not revealed, but it is commonly assumed that they are either Herod Agrippa and his wife CyprostheNabataean, or Herod Agrippa II and his sisterBerenice, depending on who you ask.
- As a result, these texts do not portray Gamaliel as being knowledgeable about the Jewish scriptures, nor do they portray him as a teacher.
- A more accurate description indicates that the chain passes directly from Hillel to Yohanan ben Zakkai.
- He maintained that the law should protect women during divorce and that, for the purpose of remarriage, a single witness may provide adequate proof of a spouse’s death if the husband had died before the woman.
- Two of these three letters were addressed to the residents of Galilee and “the Darom” (southern Judea), and both dealt with the topic of the first tithe of all that was due.
- Gamaliel’s statue in the Chapelle Saint-Nicodème de Pluméliau.
- The Hillel school of thought is presented as a whole, and so there are relatively few additional teachings that are clearly identified as Gamaliel’s.
- Literally unclean fish: one who has memorized everything via study, but has little insight, and who is the son of impoverished parents One who has learned and comprehended everything, as well as being the son of wealthy parents, is a ritually pure fish.
- A fish from the Mediterranean Sea: one who has learned everything and understands how to respond when the situation arises.
- He claims to have seen a medical book in Arabic that was translated from Hebrew and was named The Book of Gamaliel the Prince (Nasi), also known as Galenos in Greek, is a collection of stories about Gamaliel the Prince (Nasi).
However, given the fact that Galen lived in the second century and Gamaliel died at the middle of the first century, this seems unlikely to be true.
Make sure you have arabbi on hand, stay away from shady situations, and don’t tithe too much based on speculation.
In Christian tradition
Gamaliel appears to the priest Lucianus in a dream, and the priest recognizes him. Painting from the 15th century. Gamaliel is introduced in the Acts of the Apostles as a Pharisee and famed doctor of the Mosaic Law in the book of Acts. Acts 5:34–40 is an example of a parable. As part of the broader context (vv. 17–42), Peter and the other apostles are represented as being punished before the Sanhedrin for continuing to preach the gospel despite the Jewish rulers’ earlier prohibition on doing so (vv.
The advice given by Gamaliel was accepted after his final argument: “And now, my son, I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if the counsel or the work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest you be found even to fight against God.” —Acts 5:38–39 (NLT) Following this, the Book of Acts goes on to describe Paul the Apostle, noting that despite being “born in Tarsus,” he was raised in Jerusalem “at the feet of Gamaliel,taught according to the faultless method of the law of the fathers” (Acts 22:3).
It is considered that, as a Pharisee, Paul was already well-known in the community as a devoted Jew at the time of his encounter with Gamaliel, hence no specifics are provided concerning the lessons he took on board from him.
Despite the fact that there is no other record of Gamaliel ever having lectured in public, the Talmud does mention him as a teacher of a student who shown “impudence in learning,” which some scholars believe may be a reference to Paul.
In a recent paper, Helmut Koester, Professor of Divinity and Ecclesiastical History at Harvard University, questions whether Paul studied under this famous rabbi, arguing that there is a significant contrast between the tolerance that Gamaliel is said to have expressed toward Christianity and the “murderous rage” against Christians that Paul is described as having prior to his conversion (Acts 8:1–3).
Alleged Gospel of Gamaliel
It is hypothesized by some researchers that the “Gospel of Gamaliel” exists and may be a part of the Pilate apocrypha, although this is not confirmed. While there are no clear references to such a gospel in ancient sources, Paulin Ladeuze and Carl Anton Baumstark originally advanced the idea that such a book existed in 1906. Scholars who think such a book once existed have rebuilt it from a sermon by a bishop called Cyriacus, known as the “Lament of Mary” (Laha Maryam) or “Lament of Mary” (Laha Maryam).
The author was not “plagiarizing” a lost gospel, according to some researchers, and these portions were simply written by Cyriacus from the point of view of Gamaliel, according to these scholars.
It is possible to find quite full manuscripts of Laha Maryam in both the Ethiopian (Ge’ez) and the Karshuni (Arabic) languages.
A healing miracle occurs at Jesus’ tomb, and he witnesses the resurrection of a dead man, which demonstrates that Jesus’ abandoned grave-clothes have magical powers. Gamaliel also had a conversation with Pontius Pilate, who is depicted in a favourable light as a Christian himself.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, c. 1615, painting of Saint Stephen Mourned by Saints Gamaliel and Nicodemus by Carlo Saraceni’s followers According to ecclesiastical tradition, Gamaliel had converted to Christianity, and his tolerant attitude toward early Christians can be explained by this. His baptism, according to Photios I of Constantinople, took place by Saint Peter and John the Apostle, together with his sons Abibon (Abibo, Abibas, Abibus) andNicodemus, who were also baptized. According to the Clementine Literature, he kept secret about his conversion and continued to be a member of the Sanhedrin in order to aid his fellow Christians in a covert manner.
A saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Gamaliel is remembered on August 2, the day when it is said that his remains were discovered, together with the relics of Stephen the Protomartyr, Abibon (Gamaliel’s son), and Nicodemus.
Francis of Assisi.
Gamaliel is mentioned in the Acts of Llàtzer, a Catalan document from the 15th century.
- A list of biblical figures who have been recognized in extra-biblical literature
- Christianity and Judaism are split apart
- Nasi, Beit Jimal, and the Gamaliel Foundation are examples of charitable organizations.
- Jones, Daniel, and A.C. Gimson have collaborated on this project (1977). Everyman’s English Pronouncing Dictionary is a resource for anyone who want to learn how to pronounce English correctly. Page 207 of the J.M. DentSons Ltd. edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia
- Abcde “Gamaliel” in the Catholic Encyclopedia Solomon Schechter and Wilhelm Bacher are two of the most important figures in Jewish history. “Gamliel I” is the name of the character. Jewish Encyclopedia
- Avodah Zarah3:10
- Köstenberger, Andreas J
- Kellum, L. Scott
- Quarles, Charles
- Quarles, Charles (2009). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament is an introduction to the New Testament. Psalm 88:2
- Adolph Buechler,Das Synhedrion in Jerusalem, p.129. Vienna, 1902
- Pirkei Abot1–2
- Jerusalem Talmud
- Pirk Talmud of Jerusalem (Sanhedrin 18d) Mr. Ma’aser Sheni56c
- Mr. Gero
- Mr. Stephen (1990). “Galen on the Christians: A Reappraisal of the Arabic Evidence” is the title of this article. Orientalia Christiana Periodica.56(2): 393
- Six Orders of the Mishnah (Pire Avot 1:16). Orientalia Christiana Periodica.56(2): 393
- Six Orders of the Mishnah (Pire Avot 1:16). It is published by Eshkol in Jerusalem in 1978
- The Living Talmud: The Wisdom of the Fathers, edited by Judah Goldin and published by the New American Library of World Literature in New York in 1957 (p. 72)
- Shabat 30b
- Suciu, Alin (2012). “A Fragment from a Homily on the Lament of Mary and the So-Called Gospel of Gamaliel,” according to the British Library. Journal of Aethiopica, Volume 15, Number 6, Pages 53–71, ISSN 2194-4024
- Günter Stemberger,Jews and Christians in The Holy Land: Palestine in The Fourth Century, pages 110–111 (Edinburgh: TT Clark, 2000)
- Citing M.-A. van den Oudenrijn,Gamaliel: Athiopische Texte zur Pilatusliteratur(Freiburg, 1959)
- Paton James Gloag,A Critical
- The Jewish Encyclopedia’s entry on Gamaliel I
- Perspectives on Transformational Leadership in the Sanhedrin of Ancient Judaism
- The Jewish Encyclopedia entry on Gamaliel I
Jesus-A Jewish Rabbi: Part 3
In our first two classes, we learnt about the home life and educational system of the Jewish people who lived in the Galilee during the time of Jesus. In our third lesson, we studied about the Jewish people who lived in the Galilee during the time of Jesus. We looked into what kind of education and training was necessary to become a Rabbi and be referred to as such by the people in your town. Now we’ll take a look at what occurred to a guy after he finished his apprenticeship and became qualified to acquire the honor of being called a Rabbi.
The recognized title of Rabbi as a trained minister did not appear until many centuries after Jesus’ death.
They were referred to as “Torah instructors” or “teaching the law.” The Pharisees, or the pious ones, were those who attempted to follow and live by the teachings of Jesus to the fullest extent possible.
They were well aware of the fine details of the law and made every effort to adhere to them in order to ensure that they were obeying God’s laws.
- Common – not to imply that they were all the same, but rather that there were quite a few of them. They were referred to be Torah instructors because they were well-versed in the Torah and exceptionally skilled at imparting it to others. However, they did not leave home and travel with a group, and they were restricted to instructing pupils in local settings, and they were only permitted to teach established theology, and they were not permitted to develop their own interpretations or new doctrine. Rabbis with s’mekah – Rabbis who have s’mekah. There were just a handful of these available. They were granted an extraordinary stamp of approval since they were considered to be someone who was so good at what they did that they had earned God’s approval. In order for you to receive this honor, two other rabbis who had s’mekah were required to bestow it on you and state that you too had God’s blessing and that your authority came directly from God himself. It was possible to travel and bring a group of talmidim with you if you had s’mekah (for example, John the Baptizer had s’mekah). Additionally, as a result of s’mekah, you have the authority and right to create new interpretations of the law. If a Torah instructor says, “It is written,” or “Rabbi so and so says,” the Rabbi with s’mekah will respond, “You’ve heard it stated, but I say to you,” and then present a new and distinct interpretation of a Law of Moses.
What type of rabbi did Jesus happen to be? One that includes S’mekah! Look at Matthew 7:28-29 for an example. When Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount and the Bible says they were amazed at His teaching, it is because He spoke as one who had authority (s’mekah), rather than as their normal Torah instructors, the Bible says they were amazed at His teaching. Their astonishment was not due to the fact that they had never seen anything like it before or that he was so strange, but rather because He taught with s’mekah!
“He’s never taken a class with anyone around here!” Jesus was a traditional Jewish Rabbi who possessed s’mekah.
The Bible appears to suggest that Jesus received his s’mekah from both John the Baptist and God (see Matthew 21:23-27), despite the fact that we cannot be certain.
a little about the author: Bob is the founder of this website and a follower of Ray Vander Laan’s teachings. He leads a Bible study at Christ’s Church in Roswell, New Mexico, where he lives with his wife of 50 years. He also enjoys hunting and fishing in his spare time.
Jesus Many Faces – Jesus As Rabbi
Scholar Jaroslav Pelikan investigates how people’s perceptions of Jesus’ role as a Jewish rabbi and teacher have evolved over time. Jaroslav Pelikan,The Illustrated Jesus Through the Centuries,(Yale University Press 1997) pp. 9-23 The Rabbi The study of the place of Jesus in the history of human culture must begin with the New Testament, on which all later portrayals have been founded. But the depiction of Jesus in the New Testament is itself a representation, resembling a group of paintings more than a portrait.
- The apostle Paul, writing to the congregation at Corinth in about A.D.
- 15:1-7) and the institution of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor.
- (1 Cor.
- Chronologically and even logically, therefore, there existed a tradition of the church before there was a New Testament, or any book in the New Testament.
- It was to the operation of the Spirit that Christians would trace the writing of the books of the “New Testament,” as they came to call it, and before that of the “Old Testament,” as they began to designate the Hebrew Bible.
- The New Testament was written in Greek, but the language Jesus and his disciples commonly used seems to have been Aramaic, a Semitic tongue close to Hebrew but not identical with it.
- These contain such known lines asHosanna,as well as the scream of dereliction of Jesus on the cross,Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?(Mark 15:34)-“My God, my God, why hast thou deserted me?” (which in the Hebrew of Psalm 22 wasEli, Eli, lama azavtani?).
The most neutral and least controversial of these words is probablyRabbi,along with the relatedRabbouni.
Yet the Gospels seem to accentuate the differences, rather than the similarities, between Jesus and the other rabbis.
Luke tells us (4:16-30) that after his baptism and temptation by the devil, he “came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day.
The words he read were from Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
One of the most familiar is the question and answer, with the question often phrased as a teaser.
Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt.
The one who puts the question acts as a straight man, setting up the opportunity for Rabbi Jesus to drive home the point, often by standing the question on its head.
Thus here, too, the evangelists’ accounts of Jesus as a teller of parables make sense only in the setting of his Jewish background.
Thus the point of the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), better called the parable of the elder brother, is in the closing words of the father to the elder brother, who stands for the people of Israel: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
The oscillation between describing the role of Jesus as Rabbi and attributing to him a new and unique authority made additional titles necessary.
21:11),’This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.” Probably the most intriguing version of it is once again in Aramaic (Rev.
27:l4-26): “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.'” In the New Testament an extension of the meaning ofAmenbecomes evident in the Sermon on the Mount: Am e n leg ohymin,”Truly, I say to you.” Some seventy-five times throughout the four GospelsAmenintroduces an authoritative pronouncement by Jesus.
- The wordprophethere means chiefly not one whoforetells,although the sayings of Jesus do contain many predictions, but one who is authorized to speak on behalf of Another and totell forth.
- 5:17-18): “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.
- All these commentaries are an elaboration of the warning that the righteousness of the followers of Jesus must exceed that of those who followed other doctors of the law (Matt.
- The conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount confirms the special status of Jesus as not only Rabbi but Prophet (Matt.
When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.” Then there come several miracle stories.
12:27), but it does cite the miracles as substantiation of his standing as Rabbi-Prophet.
In its biblical context, this is the authorization of Joshua as the legitimate successor of Moses, but in the New Testament and in later Christian writers, the prophet to come is taken to be Jesus-Joshua.
Therefore later anti-Muslim Christian apologists would find Islam’s identification of Jesus as a great prophet and forerunner to Muhammad to be inadequate and hence inaccurate, so that the potential of the figure of Jesus the Prophet as a meeting ground between Christians and Muslims has never been fully realized.
- But in the process of establishing themselves,ChristandLord,as well as evenRabbiandProphet,often lost much of their Semitic content.
- The beginnings of this de-Judaization of Christianity are visible already within the New Testament.
- 70, the Christian movement increasingly became Gentile rather than Jewish in its constituency and outlook.
- (for example, John 2:6).
His epistle to the Romans (9-11) is the description of his struggle over the relation between church and synagogue, concluding with the prediction and the promise: “And so all Israel will be saved”-not, it should be noted, converted to Christianity, but saved, because, in Paul’s words, “as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.
- Jesus Christ our Lord” in the first chapter, to “the preaching of Jesus Christ,” which “is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations” in the final sentence.
For only through the Jewishness of Jesus could the covenant of God with Israel, the gracious gifts of God, and his irrevocable calling become available to all people in the whole world, also to the Gentiles, who “were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree”-namely, the people of Israel (Rom.
No one can consider the topic of Jesus as Rabbi and ignore the subsequent history of the relation between the people to whom Jesus belonged and the people who belong to Jesus.
The question is easier to ask than it is to answer, and it is easier to avoid than it is to ask at all.
from The Illustrated Jesus Through the Centuries by Jaroslav Pelikan©Yale University Press1997 Reprinted with permission.
The Reality of Disciples and Rabbis
I was recently asked how disciples studied with rabbis and I replied in the affirmative. What was the average age of disciples, and did they have to pay a fee to the rabbi in order to study? What methods did they use to sustain themselves at the same time? Did the rabbis have a side job or practice a trade to supplement their income? (They were not like modern-day rabbis, who, like pastors, are compensated for the instruction they provide to their congregation.) My response was as follows: Boys were required to attend school (which centered on learning the Scriptures) until the age of thirteen, following which they were expected to acquire a trade as an apprentice.
- After they graduated from high school at the age of 13, many went to live with a tradesman’s family for a period of time, earning their keep by performing chores and menial work while learning from the craftsmen.
- According to the Mishnah, some people began attending thebet midrash (house of learning), which served as a rabbi’s “school” or “study group,” when they were approximately 15 years old.
- Among them were only a handful of people who were dedicated enough to spend years of their lives studying to be rabbinic teachers themselves.
- When Gamaliel II (the grandson of Paul’s teacher) eventually got married, he already had a following of disciples.
- This is most likely what Jesus meant when he said that we should be “eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.” Regarding fees, it was against the law to collect a fee for teaching the Torah, hence it was typical for rabbis to work part-time as a tradesperson while still teaching.
- Some rabbis were from priestly families, and as a result, they received a stipend from the Temple, but the majority worked in manual labor.
- It is possible for some to work seasonally and to take time off between planting and harvesting, for example.
- Women typically assisted their husbands in running the family farm or running the family company, allowing the husband to concentrate on his studies.
- Extended families might often lend their support to a brother or son who was pursuing a higher education.
- A disciple who wanted to be away from home for more than 30 days to study had to get his wife’s permission first.
- The gifts to Jesus came from affluent ladies who were well renowned for supporting other rabbis as well as themselves.
My source for this is the chapter “Education and the Study of Torah” in Safrai Stern’s The Jewish People in the First Century, which is available online (Van Gorcum, Brill.) Shmuel Safrai spent a lifetime studying the authentic rabbinic writings, and the fruits of his work are presented here in their entirety.
Another wonderful resource is David Bivin’s New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus, which is available online (En-Gedi, 2005).
(Some readers may be interested in reading my writings on some fundamental, related problems, such as “Can We Call Jesus “Rabbi?” and “Can We Call Jesus “Rabbi?” as well as “Can We Use Jewish Sources to Study Jesus?” (Photo courtesy of Matty Stern)
Was Jesus a Rabbi?
Before beginning his public ministry, Jesus had not only undergone the rigorous religious instruction characteristic of the average Jew of his day, but he had also spent years studying with a distinguished sage (or sages) in the Galilee, who was considered to be one of the greatest minds of the ancient world. As a result, Jesus arrived on the scene as a revered elder in his own right. The fact that he was acknowledged as such by his contemporaries may be shown in texts from the New Testament.
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To grasp the full importance of Jesus being called as “teacher,” it is necessary to understand what a Jewish teacher of the first century was like and how he functioned in society at the time.
Origin of “Rabbi”
Originally, the name “rabbi” was taken from the Hebrew word rav, which in biblical Hebrew meant “a large deal,” “many,” “many,” and “a great deal.” Additionally, the term was occasionally used to refer to high-ranking government officials or army officers (see, for example, Jer. 39:3, 13). In Jesus’ day, the term “rav” (master) was used to designate to the owner of a slave or the leader of a follower. As a result, rabi (rabi) literally translated as “my master” (a form of address similar to “sir” in English) and was a term of respect used by slaves to address their masters and by followers to address their professors in the Islamic tradition.
- (see Emil Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, 2:325-26), it cannot be accurately attributed to Jesus.
- Insofar as this name implies that Jesus was well regarded as a teacher in his day and that he was well-known enough to attract pupils to himself, the term “rabbi,” albeit archaic, may serve a valuable function.
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A Disciple of Rabbi Jesus
Investigating the meaning of the term “disciple” Please keep in mind that this article is an extract from the bookDeeper into the Word: New Testament. First and foremost, we must recognize that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, or teacher, in order to comprehend the word disciple in the New Testament lexicon. And, like other rabbis of his period, he had a following of followers. In the Greek language, the worddiscipleismathetes, which appears 269 times. While the New Testament was, of course, written in Greek, Jesus and his contemporaries spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, and would have been referred to as themtalmidim, a Hebrew word that was defined in part by the culture that revolved around the learning of, discussion of, and reverence for the Torah.
- It was the rabbi’s responsibility to live out the Scripture application in front of them, and their knowledge would be promptly put into action.
- However, in Jesus’ society, the two were inexorably intertwined.
- The most gifted pupils would continue to study the Torah, frequently memorizing the whole text, in what was known asbeth midrash, or continuation of learning.
- These pupils were referred to as talmidimin Hebrew, which translates as disciple in English.
- A student wants to know what the instructor knows in order to get a good grade, to finish the class or to get a degree, or even out of respect for the teacher, according to the teacher.
- That meant that pupils were completely devoted to their rabbi and took careful notice of everything he did or said in his presence.
- Students (talmidim) listened, watched, and emulated the rabbi as he lived and taught his interpretation of the Scriptures, with the goal of becoming like him.
With the publication of their book, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, authors Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg give valuable insight into the “Jewishness of Jesus.” A rabbi’s most important purpose, in addition to instructing the audience, was to raise up disciples who would continue on his teaching.
- One of the most important roles of a rabbi was to become a living example of what it means to live according to God’s Word.
- The phrase is used not just to refer to the twelve apostles, but also to refer to the broad number of men and women who followed Jesus after his death and resurrection.
- “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus responded, ‘If you cling to my teaching, you are truly my disciples,'” according to John 8:31.
- You must love one another in the same way that I have loved you.
- Just as our rabbi went to tremendous lengths to demonstrate the depth of his love for us, we should love others in the same way.
- To put it another way, contemplation coupled by action.
Because we are disciples of Rabbi Jesus, this is what we are called to. Written by Keri Wyatt Kent and taken from her book,Deeper Into the Word: New Testament Bethany House Publishers owns the copyright for 2011. Permission has been granted to use. Unauthorized duplicating is strictly forbidden.
ESSAY: Rabbi Jesus & the Embodiment of Torah
Here is a tiny excerpt from my first PhD research work, which examines the interplay between Jesus and Rabbi-pupil relationships in the ancient world. Caution: this is an academic essay. – It goes without saying that Jesus’ earthly ministry was centered on a group of students known asdisciples (Gk.mathetes; Heb.talmudhim), and that Jesus was addressed on multiple occasions as a “rabbi.” Mathetes is a phrase that is used to refer to Jesus’ disciples no less than 262 times throughout the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles.
- Jesus then left them with the responsibility of “making disciples of all nations.” Accordingly, it would be reasonable to assume that Jesus was the archetypal Jewish rabbi, surrounded by eager pupils who were ready to learn from and live by his teachings.
- As a result, he is appointed to the position of instructor at the synagogue.
- His students and adversaries, as well as others seeking knowledge who seek him out because he is a well-known rabbi, are the subjects of his debates over matters of law.
- The content of Jesus’ teaching demonstrates a close tie with the teachings of the rabbis.
- Nonetheless, the fact that Jesus was addressed as a ‘rabbi’ and that his followers were referred to as ‘disciples’ necessitates a more in-depth knowledge of what rabbi-disciple interactions looked like in Jesus’ culture.
- Was it true that terminology like mathetes and Talmudhim were so fluid and expansive at the time?
- It is important to remember that if we know anything about Jesus of Nazareth, it is that he was not afraid to bend and break well-worn Jewish beliefs and conventions (“wineskins”) while introducing his own new or extended ideas and practices (“wine”) into the world of first century Judaism.
- ‘Are followers just pupils of the teachings of a rabbi’?
- Is the teacher’s personality, charm, and charisma a potentially detrimental diversion from the primary task of transmitting curricular content?
- In a number of remarkable ways, Jesus distinguishes himself from the other rabbis of his time.
Jesus’ radical call to follow him is evidenced by Mt 8:21-22 (“Let the dead bury their dead”), and Hengel concludes that “this hardness on Jesus’ part as to the unconditional nature of following him “can no longer be explained primarily from the standpoint of Jesus’ effectiveness as a ‘teacher,’ but it is to be explained only on the basis of his unique authority as the proclaimer of God’s impending Kingdom.” It is tempting to portray Jesus as a post-AD70 rabbinic scholar who is mastering hishalakha, but Culpepper suggests that “the devotion of the disciples to the person of Jesus and the services they rendered him exceeded the customary relationship between master and disciple in the Pharisaic-Rabbinic tradition.” Alternatively, Rengstorf says, “His purpose is not to teach facts, nor is it to enhance an existing attitude, but rather to awaken unreserved dedication to Him.” Yes, Jesus’ Great Commission was to “create disciples,” but his followers were tasked with a purpose that went well beyond the study of the Torah.
Montefiore concludes: “Discipleship such as Jesus demanded and inspired (a following, not for study, but for service — to assist the Master in his mission, to carry out his instructions, and so on) appeared to be a new thing, at any rate, something that did not fit in, or did not appear to be on all fours, with usual Rabbinic customs or with customary Rabbinic phenomena.
Martin Hengel assembles a number of other lines of evidence against Jesus-as-typical-Rabbi, including the following: However, despite the fact that Jesus occasionally employs exegetical argumentation, the fundamental inadequacy of the designation “scribe” for him is finally demonstrated by the fact that the Old Testament is no longer the central focus of his message; and this distinguishes him both from the ‘prophets’ of his day and from the scribes.
The parables of Jesus never serve the objective of expounding Torah in the traditional rabbinic manner, but rather are used to explain his eschatologicalmessage to the people.
Jesus purposefully bridged the gap that existed between the scribal theologian and the uninformed (the ‘people of the earth,’ as they were known in his day), a divide that was a distinctive feature of Palestinian Judaism at the time.
According to Hengel’s conclusion, “Jesus stood outside of any discoverable unified teaching tradition of Judaism in its most fundamental sense.” Another point of departure for connecting Jesus to what eventually became the central focus of Rabbinic Judaism is the oft-quoted Mishnaic passage Abo 1:1 and other Mishnaic passages.
- Joshua delegated authority to the Elders, who in turn delegated authority to the Prophets, who in turn delegated authority to the Men of the Great Assembly.
- 3) Make a large number of disciples.
- According to Abot 1:1 of the Mishnah, With boldness, Jesus enters into this huge chain of tradition, confronts the Great Assembly with his own eyes, and provides a whole new Law by which the justice of His Kingdom will be dispensed, at times upending and surpassing the Law of Moses (Matt 5).
- He was anything but careful when challenging other Jewish authorities about their misdirected or dishonest administration of justice.
When we look at Jesus in the context of other Mishnaic knowledge, we notice that he takes the place of Torah at the core of rabbinic discipleship and replaces it with his own presence and authority.
- While the rabbis believed that “if someone has obtained Torah teachings, he has obtained eternal life,” they also taught that (m. Avot 2:7D). According to Jesus, eternal life might be found in him: “You diligently analyze the Scriptures because you believe that in them you will find eternal life.” “Yet they bear witness against me” (John 5:39)
- As another example, in Mishnah Avot 3:2 we read that “whenever two or three people meet in name,” the Divine Presence “dwells among them,” yet in Matthew 18:20 we learn that “anywhere two or three people gather in name,” Jesus’ (divine?) presence “dwells among them.” Alternatively, when Rabbi Ben Zoma asks, “What is a sage?” “He who is open to learning from everyone” Rabbi Jesus responds with the words, “You have only one Teacher” (Matt 23), which is taken from the book of Avot.
In order to be a disciple of Jesus, one must first and foremost have regard for the Teacher, rather than only following his teachings. “The devotion owed to your master should be as great as the awe owed to Heaven,” says the Mishnaic wisdom on at least one point: “The reverence owed to your master should be as great as the awe owed to Heaven” (m.Avot 4:12). In turn, this leads to the central thesis of this study: that Jesus was personally incarnated Torah, serving as the authoritative aspect in the interaction between him and his disciples.
Then there was the question of what the disciples were to do with it.
According to Wilkins, “Butshimmushitself was a study of Torah” since “the rabbi’s life was to be an embodiment of Torah.” The Jewish concept of shummush, which holds that a rabbi was not only a commentator, teacher, or interpreter of Torah, but was also called to be a living embodiment of the true Torah, is the golden thread that connects Jesus’ unique teaching ministry and authority to the broader rabbinic tradition before and after him, as well as to the broader Christian tradition.
After then, Jesus and the apostles would carry this notion to to greater and higher levels of insight.
While Davies observes that “the environment in which Jesus came was conditioned for the faithful receipt and transmission of tradition,” he goes on to say that “the milieu within which Jesus appeared was conditioned for the faithful reception and transmission of tradition.” The Way of Life was passed down by Jesus instead, and he commanded his students to model their lives after the embodied cruciform ethic of their teacher, the risen Christ.
- ‘Embodiment’ of some instruction or Torah needs the ‘body’ (or distinct person) of the instructor to be a vital aspect of the teaching process, as defined by the Jewish tradition.
- Rabbi Jesus was the Torah-incarnate in the truest meaning of the word.
- This is a significant distinction between Jesus and the Pharisaic-Rabbinic school of Judaism.
- To understand and obey the genuine core of the Torah, it is necessary to first acquire Jesus and his embodied Kingdom-shaped Torah, which is what Jesus calls the acquisition of Him and his embodied Kingdom-shaped Torah.
- It is important to note the move away from the traditional rabbinic emphasis on passing on and accepting the rabbi’s teaching; instead it is Jesus himself, as the embodiment of Torah (the enfleshed Word), who is either accepted or rejected by those who believe.
- (Jn 1:12).
- ” But don’t get the impression that I’m going to bring you before the Father.
- As long as you trusted Moses, you would believe me as well, since he wrote about me” (John 5:39-40, 45-46).
- Scot McKnight makes the following connections: The foundation of Jewish knowledge is based on substance, specifically the dread of YHWH.
- However, the first disciples of Jesus shifted the focus of wisdom away from the Torah and toward Christ and the Spirit.
Such wisdom can provide insight into a specific situation in Paul’s pastoral work, just as Torah opened the world to the 1st Century rabbi and the halakhic wisdom of the Talmud and Tosefta opened the gates to new life for the later Hasidic masters, so too can Paul’s pastoral work provide insight into specific situations.
I’ll say it again: Christ is the substance of Paul’s sense of knowledge, and Christ is the one who restores the essence of wisdom to its original state.
What McKnight refers to as a “substance-based” knowledge, I refer to as a “Person-based,” or embodied, Torah, according to my understanding. Perhaps the best approach is to combine them and refer to them as itembodied Torah-Wisdom.
What then happens to the interpersonal dynamics between Rabbi and students when we embrace the idea—even necessity—of anembodiedTorah-Wisdom? What does this mean for today’s teachers in the church? In what way is our teaching ’embodied’ or ‘disembodied’? Does this approach offer a challenge to the trend of satellite preaching via a screen, those of us who get much of our teaching digitally through a sermon podcast entering into our earbuds while we walk on a treadmill or drive in our car?
These are some of the issues and areas of investigation that I looked at during my research.