Creative Uses of Numbers in Scripture

Here I resume my interrupted thread on the use of letters as numbers in ancient languages.   As I had indicated earlier, Greek and Hebrew did not use a different system for their alphabets and their numerals, but the letters of the alphabet played double duty, so that each letter had a numerical value.  One pay-off of that system was that every word had a numerical value, discovered simply by adding up the letters.   In Greek, for example, the six letters ...

Continue Reading →
20

Matthew’s “Filling Full” of Scripture

In the last post I indicated one way that Matthew understood Jesus to have fulfilled Scripture – a prophet predicted something about the messiah (to be born of a virgin; to be born in Bethlehem, etc.) and Jesus did or experienced what was predicted.   There’s a second way as well, one with considerable implications for understanding Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus.  Here’s how I talk about it in my textbook on the New Testament

 *****************************************************************

 The second way in which Jesus ...

Continue Reading →
20

Matthew’s Fulfillment of Scripture Citations

I’ve begun a short thread dealing with how Matthew understood and interpreted and used Scripture.   Here is a fuller exposition, the first part of which comes straight from my textbook on the NT and the second part straight from my noggin to the keyboard.

 **************************************************************

 What is perhaps most striking about Matthew’s account is that it all happens according to divine plan.  The Holy Spirit is responsible for Mary’s pregnancy and an angel from heaven allays Joseph’s fears.  All this ...

Continue Reading →
30

Matthew’s Ancient Approach to Scripture

QUESTION:  (The following question was raised by a reader who objected to Matthew’s attempt to interpret passages in the Hebrew Bible as having relevance for Jesus – especially passages that appear to have been taken radically out of context).  Here’s the question:

Well then, the Christians of Matthew’s day did not read the OT very carefully at all. For example, when Matthew says that Jesus returning from Egypt was a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1 (out of Egypt have I ...

Continue Reading →
25

Why Was Jesus Born of a Virgin in Matthew and Luke?

A few days ago I raised the question of why anyone should think that you have to believe in the Virgin Birth in order to be a Christian.  The reality is, of course, that many Christians do not believe in it, but recognize that it is a story meant to convey an important theological point – a point that could be true whether or not the story happened – that Jesus was uniquely special in this world, not ...

Continue Reading →
61

Papias on Matthew and Mark

In my previous two posts I showed why Papias is not a reliable source when it comes to the authorship of Matthew and Mark.   If you haven’t read those posts and are personally inclined to think that his testimony about Matthew and Mark are accurate, I suggest you read them (the posts) before reading this one.

In this post I want to argue that what he actually says about Matthew and Mark are not true of our Matthew and Mark, and ...

Continue Reading →
32

Believing Papias When It’s Convenient

In my previous post I stressed that, contrary to what you sometimes may have heard or possibly will hear, Papias is not a *direct* witness to what the apostles of Jesus were saying.  That is an important point because of the most important “testimony” that Papias gives, a testimony that is often taken as very strong evidence that the second Gospel of the NT was written by Mark, the companion of Peter, and that the first Gospel was really and ...

Continue Reading →
24

Papias and the Gospels: Some Background

In my previous post I argued that sometime in the second half of the second century, an edition of the four Gospels was compiled by an unknown editor/scribe, and place in circulation in Rome, in which the texts were identified, definitively and possibly for the first time, as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.   Now the question is: why did these names come to be chosen?

This is a complicated question, and the answer is neither straightforward nor easy.   But I can ...

Continue Reading →
20

Similarities and Differences: The Synoptic Problem

 

In yesterday’s post I mentioned my New Testament class, and that one of the main lessons I’m trying to convey in it is that each of the Gospels has to be read for what *it* has to say.  This requires the reader to bracket information that is conveyed in some other Gospel (or that they’ve heard before elsewhere), to see what the meaning of this particular text is.

That shouldn’t be such a hard idea to grasp.   If I write a ...

Continue Reading →
30

Would Matthew and Paul Have Seen Eye-to-Eye

One of my major goals as a professor of New Testament is to get my students to understand that the NT is not a single entity with a solid and consistent message.  There are numerous authors who were writing at different times, in different parts of the world, to different audiences, and with different – sometimes strikingly different – understandings about important issues.  In fact, about key issues, such as who Jesus was and what his role was in salvation.

One ...

Continue Reading →
52
Page 2 of 3 123