Are we called to do good works?
Aired on Premier Radio on Saturday December 7th at 12:30pm
It is surely ironic that the best people to understand the teachings of Jesus are not Bible scholars, New Testament theologians or Divinity professors but the First Century Jews who were there to hear them first hand, but who basically didn’t get it! It wasn’t just that Jesus spoke their language and they were witnesses to these teachings, it was that every nuance, word play and saying was steeped in the culture of the day. It was as if a 31st century Esperanto-speaking historian was studying the works of Bob Marley, thinking that all that is needed was a library of references on 20th Century Jamaican patois and a good training in historical analysis, but ultimately failing without the benefits of ganja, reggae and the laid-back Caribbean life-style. You just had to be there to get it.
So Jesus was a Rabbi. He was addressed as such by a lawyer, a rich man, Pharisees, Sadducees and ordinary Jews, so you can take it as read. The word comes from the Hebrew word rav and its original meaning was as a “master”, though by Jesus’ day it was also used as a title for a teacher (though it wasn’t until after 70AD when it was used formally in this way). His ministry was typical of those times, fully itinerant, never in one place for long.
To fully appreciate the teachings of a 1st Century Jewish rabbi, one really needs to get into the skin of a 1st Century Jew, or at least do it by proxy. So, in these articles we are all 1st Century Jews. We are going to sample some of Jesus’ teachings through 1st Century Jewish eyes, rather than through Western interpretations of English translations of Greek scripture written by Jews who would be thinking the words in Hebrew or Aramaic. These will be familiar stories, but will seem new to you, because you will hear them through a Hebraic filter. Hold on to your yarmulkas, we’re going on a journey …