02.03.04 Education

02.03.04 Education

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 18, 2016  -  Comments Off on 02.03.04 Education

02.03.04 Education.

The origin of the school as well as the synagogue is rather obscure. The Hebrew word for synagogue is beit-knesset or beyt-knesset, meaning house of gathering. [1]  It is strongly believed to have begun in the exilic period or shortly thereafter by the prophet Ezra.  By the time Christ came on the scene, the educational process took on a significant importance to combat the growing Greek influence that had taken a firm grip on the Jewish community.[2]  Wherever the Jewish people lived, they established community centers within their synagogues. It was in the synagogue that children and adults were taught the Scriptures and local festivals, unless, of course, they traveled to Jerusalem to observe the national religious festival celebrations.[3]

In recent centuries scholarship assumed that the Jewish people were essentially illiterate and girls were never sent to schools. Essentially, formal education of children in the first century was limited to boys until they reached the age of thirteen.  However, recently that opinion began to change dramatically as scholars examine Jewish writings that were previously overlooked. While full literacy is defined by having proficient skills in both reading and writing, various levels do obviously exist, and did so likewise in the first century.  Many who have basic reading skills usually have a lower level of writing skills. For example, you, the reader may be able to read this eBook but may have difficulty spelling some words if you were asked to write what you read.

This theory on literacy for boys and girls has several good arguments.

  1. Archaeologists have uncovered numerous legal documents that were written by professional scribes. Their handwriting and signatures are neat and accurate. The other signers have signatures that look like graffiti, which is indicative that they were novices but had basic abilities to write.
  2. A number of ossuaries were discovered with beautiful carvings, such as the one of Caiaphas (see 15.03.07.A); reflecting the high level of craftsmanship of those who created them. However, the graffiti-like names of the deceased inscribed in the sides of the stone boxes appear to have been written by family members rather than professional scribes.[4]
  3. Some women had sufficient writing skills to prepare their own divorce decrees, which is obviously reflective of a culture where women had basic literacy skills and knowledge of family law.[5]
  4. There are several biblical examples of women who were well versed in Scriptures. One of them was Mary, who praised God with her poetic Magnificat. She referred to no less than twenty Old Testament references, an impossible task for many Bible students today.[6] This is a clear demonstration that she knew her Bible, and leaves modern scholars to wonder how much more she knew at her young age. Scholars believe that by the middle of the first century, the Magnificat and several other New Testament passages became hymns in the early Jewish-church congregations.[7]
  5. The Babylonian Talmud speaks of women reading from the Torah in the synagogue near the end of the second temple period.[8] The fact that men and women had equal opportunity to read during the Sabbath service is indicative that boys and girls both went to school to learn how to read.

In light of these considerations, is it possible that some of the words of Jesus could have been written down during His lifetime?[9] Most certainly the scribes and leading Pharisees took notes that were a type of shorthand that the Romans developed. While a negative answer has been assumed in the past, it may be time to reconsider this hypothesis. Writing materials such as papyrus were expensive, but broken pieces of pottery were commonplace. Is it possible that key words or phrases of parables were written on pottery pieces by His listeners? This practice was so common that the pottery shards have their own name – “ostraca.”[10]

Education became significant during the Babylonian exile after Ezra established a new religious class known as scribes, whose principle responsibility was to study Scripture and teach it. By the first century B.C. there were many itinerant rabbi-teachers wandering throughout the Jewish communities with their disciples, teaching as they went. This was the practice replicated by Jesus. But by the first century there were two other important factors that changed education, especially for girls:

  1. High divorce rate. This was a major reason for educating girls.
  1. The acceptance of Hellenism by many Jews. This was a major reason for adding legalistic restrictions in the Oral Law.

Centuries earlier, Abraham commanded his children – boys and girls – and his entire household, to keep the ways of Jehovah (Gen. 18:19). Furthermore, they were instructed in the commandments and ways of a godly life while performing the daily activities of normal life.[11] The education of the children was the responsibility of both parents. Timothy was educated by his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois, which implies that they too were educated to some degree (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15) – obviously in some form of educational setting such as a local synagogue school. Timothy grew up outside of Israel in a Gentile community. Philo (25 B.C.-A.D. 50), the Jewish philosopher and historian from Egypt made this comment,

Since the Jews look on their laws as revelations from God, and are taught them from their earliest childhood, they bear the image of the Law on their souls….They are taught so to speak, from their very swaddling clothes, by their parents, masters, and teachers, in the holy laws, and in the unwritten customs, and to believe in God, the one Father and Creator of the world.

Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius 31-32


Synagogues were community centers where all community events occurred, such as childhood education.  A unique custom was that during days of fair weather, rabbis taught their students outside under a fig tree.  In time, the Torah was compared to the fig tree because, unlike most trees that have a short harvest season, the fig tree produces some ripe figs throughout most of the year. And so it is with the Torah, one learns a little today, and a little more tomorrow, and a little more the next day.[12] It was said that under the tree one “eats” the Word of God as one eats figs from the tree. The tree had become symbolic of the nation, the Torah, and eventually of the Jewish ordinances and traditions.[13]

Grapevines and fig trees were frequently planted near doors of homes or in the home courtyards of people so families could be seated beneath them and enjoy the fruit in season (Mic. 4:4). Fig trees were also planted along roadways so travelers could obtain some nourishment as they walked on their journey.[14]

The Jerusalem Talmud records that by the end of the second century and early first century B.C., the president of the Sanhedrin, Simeon ben Shetah, along with Rabbi Judah ben Tabbai, required compulsory education for all boys to the age of sixteen.[15] Nearly every town and village of significance had a “Beth Midrash” or “Beth Rabban,” although Nazareth was too small to qualify at that time.  In communities with schools, the village rabbi held classes in the synagogue where the study of the Torah was central.  The entire educational process in the villages can best be understood as a form of elementary school, at that time known as a bet sefer or “house of reading,” or the “house of study.”[16] It was there where they learned to read, write, and do basic arithmetic.  Learning was rote oral memorization and repetitive.  Jesus used this same method, as he did not write his teachings, but constantly repeated them. In school, the rabbi would read from the Torah and the boys would repeat his words. According to a rabbinic tradition, by the age of ten a boy was ready to study the Mishnah or Oral Law of the Pharisaic tradition in the bet Talmud or “house of learning.”[17]   The tradition reflects the importance of biblical study in the ancient culture.

He used to say: five years [is the age] for [the study of] Scripture, ten for [the study of] Mishnah, thirteen for [becoming subject to] commandments,  fifteen for [the study of] Talmud, eighteen for the [bridal] canopy, twenty for pursuing, thirty for [full] strength, forty for understanding, fifty [for ability to give] counsel, sixty for mature age, seventy for a hoary head, eighty [is a sign of superadded] strength, ninety [is the age] for [a] bending [figure], at a hundred, one is as one that is dead, having passed and ceased from the world.

Mishnah, Aboth 5.22[18]


The Oral Law gives a prescription of life that is strictly observed.[19] At the age of thirteen, a young teenager celebrates a bar or bat mitzvah and becomes a son or daughter of the Commandment.  Further study is at the discretion of the family, but whenever a son completes this formal education, he is ready to learn a trade with his father.[20]

Boys generally learned a trade from their fathers, but there were exceptions.  In larger cities, labor guilds, similar to modern labor unions were established.  The guilds trained young men for careers, such as pottery making and metallurgy.[21] In Jerusalem the guilds were so well established that they had their own synagogues for the sole use of their members.[22]

There is another point to consider: the influence of Hellenism on the Jewish community.  The study of philosophy was to the Greeks as the Scriptures were to the Hebrews. The Old Testament is actually theology and related systems and beliefs about God.  The Jews looked upon their studies as a matter of how man and nature related to God who was central to all of life.  To the philosophic Greek, man was central to all of life.[23]  It was a conflict in which the Jews drew up a strong defense in the form of their educational system. Today there is the same conflict – a conflict between Christian values and God of Judeo-Christianity versus the humanistic culture to which the ancient Greek philosophy is foundational.

A good student was a good listener. Information was constantly repeated to be permanently recorded in his mind.  Writing devices were expensive and rare, although many students had a wax board and stylus that served as “paper and pencil.” The Mishnah described a good student as “a whitewashed well, which did not leak a drop.”[24]  This is what is meant by a whitewashed well. In Judaea (modern Israel) there is no rain for at least six months of every year. Therefore, every family had a cistern (called here a well) into which rainwater was collected in the rainy season for storage during the long, hot and dry summer.  A large portion of the central mountain area of Israel has porous cretaceous limestone bedrock, which does not hold water.  Hence, underground storage tanks carved in the soft limestone had to be plastered.[25]  A good whitewashed cistern was critical to the survival of the family and it did not leak a drop, just as a good student did not forget anything.

Schools were located in synagogues that were filled with noise as students read aloud. Reading out loud, called chanting, helps with memorization. Furthermore, when one recited an Oral Law or Scripture and made a mistake, there were many in the audience who would announce the error and make a correction.  This was part of the culture where Oral Tradition was significant.[26]  Silent reading was not a skill known to man until the second or third century A.D.  That is why Jesus said “Let those who have ears, listen.”  He never said, “Let those who have eyes, read.”   For the most part, letters and other documents were an extension of oral communication.  St. Augustine, in his fourth-century Confessions, wrote that St. Ambrose was the most incredible man he had ever met because he could read without moving his lips or making a sound.

Most certainly, Jesus attended such a school in his synagogue in Nazareth; He grew up as an average boy of His time.  The question refers to higher rabbinic education that came after the boy had become a son of the Commandment at age thirteen.  Jesus attended the local synagogue school that was required of all boys until the age of twelve. But according to the Isaiah, every morning God awakened Jesus and instructed Him (Isa. 50:4-5).   For the Jews, however, the only kind of advanced learning was theology, generally at a school of one of the famous rabbis.   Jesus, did not attend any rabbinical school, yet He clearly spoke words that challenged the teachers of His day as if He had attended the premier schools of Hillel or Shammai. Furthermore, the fact that He was never a disciple of such recognized scholars made His critics wonder in amazement at His knowledge and understanding.

Jerome, living in Bethlehem and writing in Latin, said that “There is not a Jewish child who does not know the Scriptures from Adam to Zerubbabel.” Adam is obviously the first man and Zerubbabel is in the last book in the Hebrew Bible because the order of the books is different in the Jewish Bible than in the Christian Bible.  The books are the same, but the order is different.[27]

While it has been generally assumed that the educational process was primarily geared to boys, as in neighboring cultures, there is, however, evidence that has been overlooked that clearly indicates girls were included in the educational process as well.  This was especially true in the Galilee region. In fact, some Messianic scholars believe that the religious education in Galilee surpassed that of Jerusalem, in part, because, they had to compete with those in the cosmopolitan city.[28] In particular, the section that pertains to divorce in the Mishnah refers to a woman writing her own divorce document:            

All are required to write a bill of divorce [29] even a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor.  A woman may write her own bill of divorce and a man may write his own aquittance, since the validity of the writ depends on them that sign it.  All are qualified to bring a bill of divorce excepting a deaf-mute, an imbecile, a minor, a blind man, or a gentile.

Mishnah, Gittin 2.5[30]


There were some situations where a woman was free to file for a divorce if she wanted to. There were a few occupations, such as dung collectors and leather tanners, that were considered repugnant to the point that a wife who filed for divorce could also request, and receive, compensation for her loss – even if she had agreed to the husband’s occupation before getting married.[31]

Divorce had become of such great public concern that one first century rabbi suggested daughters be educated in this area of law, so they would not be taken advantage of in the event of a divorce in later life.  The Mishnah records the following:

Ben Azzai says: A man ought to give his daughter knowledge of the Law so that if she must drink [the bitter water][32] she may know that the merit [that she has acquired] will hold her punishment in suspense.

Mishnah, Sotah 3.4[33]


However, not all Jewish scholars were in agreement with the above statement.[34] There were many Jewish sects who held a wide range of opinions, as reflected in the following statement.

02.03.04 (2)


Rabbi Eleazer said, “Let the words of the Law be burned rather than committed to women.”

“He who instructs his daughter in the Law instructs her in folly.”[35]


The difference between these quotations reflects both common theological and geographical differences.[36] Girls were educated in the Galilee area, but not in Jerusalem.  It is questionable if she personally wrote the divorce document or if she authorized it.  Nonetheless, it demonstrates the rights of women, as she must have had some degree of literacy to know what she was signing.  Literary scholars today have identified a number of writings that evidently were written and/or signed by non-professional scribes.[37] Evidently, this was considered important, as it was repeated in a later section as follows:

Hence, you may conclude that a woman may write out her own bill of divorce and a man his own a quittance, for the validity of a document depends only on its signatories.

Mishnah, Eduyoth 2.3[38]


Josephus presented a first century case where a woman, Salome, divorced her quarrelsome husband Costobarus.[39]  In addition, he referred to a Zealot named Joseph from the Jewish freedom-fighting village of Gamala who was the “son of a female physician.”[40] Obviously, she had advanced education to become a physician and Josephus made no other comments about her, such as indicating that this was an unusual occupation for a woman.  This is additional evidence that some women of the first century were educated and literate.

To make the matter of reading more challenging, papyrus and ink were expensive and scribes were among the highest paid professionals in the land. Furthermore, Greek and Hebrew documents frequently had no separation of words, sentences, paragraphs, punctuation, etc. To read ancient texts required excellent reading skills, even by today’s standards.[41]

An example of a well-educated scholar who was born and raised in the Holy Land was Justin Martyr. He was born at the end of the first century (A.D.) to Greek parents in ancient Shechem, known today as modern Nablus. He was brought up with a good education in history, poetry, and rhetoric – an education he acquired in Samaria and Galilee, not Jerusalem, Gadara, or Athens.[42] After he became a believer of Jesus, he was an influential church father and apologist. Some of comments are quoted in this e-Book.

There were essentially only two forms of education:

  1. Theology
  1. Vocational

Of these two forms of education, a vocational trade is discussed simply because commentary on the subject is short and brief.  The rabbis taught that son had to learn a trade, even if he was to serve in the temple. Note the following popular opinion:

He who does not teach his sons a craft teaches him brigandage.

Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 29a


If a young man demonstrated a passion for learning theology, he could continue his education until age 18, and sometimes beyond.  Repetition was the basic method of education.  In fact, the Hebrew word for repeat is shanah and means also to teach.[43] Note the following two comments:

A person who repeats his lesson a hundred times is not to be compared with him who repeats it a hundred and one times.

Babylonian Talmud, Hagigah 9b


If [the student] learns Torah and does not go over it again and again, he is like a man who sows without reaping.

Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 99a


This strong emphasis on repetition can be seen in the name of the fifth book of Moses which reiterates the laws of Exodus, Numbers, and Leviticus. The English name is derived from the Greek Deuteros Nomos, which means repetition of the Law.[44]  A good rabbi taught and preached the Word of God, exhorting and edifying the people, as did the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:3.[45]  However, the aristocratic Jews referred to common Jews as agrammatoi, a Greek word meaning uneducated.[46] This clearly was an arrogant attitude they held against the common people, especially if they did not observe all the legalistic laws they promoted.

One of the distinctive teaching styles common among rabbis was to answer a question with another question. It is essentially a form of repetition; the purpose was not to elicit a response, but to think through the details of the subject of discussion.  People generally ask questions with a set of assumptions. There are two reasons for responding with another question:

  1. You force someone to open up assumptions
  1. You can determine how to answer

Jesus followed the teaching practice of a typical rabbi as shown by the three examples below.

Question: Good Master, what must I do to obtain eternal life?

Response: Why do you call me good?


Question: Are we to pay taxes to Rome?

Response: Whose picture do you see?


Question: Under whose authority are you doing this?

Response: Under whose authority did John the Baptist minister?


Without question, by the first century, Jerusalem was considered to be the center of religious education. While there were fine educational schools in Galilee, those in Jerusalem looked down upon any other schools outside of the Holy City. That is why the Jews asked “How does He know the Scriptures, since He hasn’t been trained” (Jn. 7:15; see Acts 2)?  Scholars believe that the Jerusalemites saw themselves as cosmopolitan citizens and viewed the people of Galilee as backward and uncultured. But the religious education in Galilee surpassed that of Jerusalem, in part because they had to compete with those in the cosmopolitan city.[47]

Yet Jerusalem attracted scholars from Egypt, Babylon, and from all corners of the Roman Empire.[48] Hillel came from Babylon and eventually became one of the two most significant rabbis of the second temple period. Saul, later known as the Apostle Paul of Tarsus, came to Jerusalem where he lived with his sister (cf. Acts 23:16) while he studied under Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel. A conflict the religious leaders had with John the Baptist and Jesus, was that neither one of them was a graduate of one of Jerusalem’s many seminaries – so how could they have been of God, or so it was thought.


02.03.04.Q1 How did one become a rabbi or a disciple of a rabbi?    

The title rabbi at the time of Christ was a complimentary title, not an official office within Judaism.[49] The use of the word rabbi as an officially recognized title came after the destruction of the temple when the rabbinical schools were relocated to Jamnia and to the Galilee area.[50]  It is an endearing term meaning “my master” or “my teacher.”[51] The purposes of a rabbi were two-fold:

  1. To be a role model of how to apply God’s written word to life; namely, to “be holy because I the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2b). Thereby they led others in the biblical way of life.
  1. To teach others to be become rabbis. To be a rabbi, all that one had to do was to have disciples.[52] But for that to happen, most men first went to a yeshiva (seminary). Jesus, of course, did not attend a yeshiva, but gathered disciples once people heard Him teach. The Oral Torah was the “teachings” of the rabbis. Disciples were not permitted to write down the teachings of their rabbi.[53] When the disciples followed their rabbis around the countryside, listening to him, they did not carry an arm-load of scrolls on which to write notations. Memorization was common practice, not only of the Scriptures, but other Jewish books also.

It would appear that the explanation of how to become a rabbi or a disciple of a rabbi should be answered in the “religious Institutions” section.  However, it is addressed here because throughout most of Jewish history, religion and education were one and the same.  The word “rabbi” identified a man as being a teacher, but also carried the responsibilities of being a spiritual leader, such as a pastor. The Jews used the title as an equivalent to the modern word “doctor.” The Hebrew word comes from a root word meaning “to increase.”  Sometimes Jesus was addressed as “Rabban” or “rabboni” which are higher titles than “rabbi.”[54]

When a boy decided he wanted to pursue biblical studies and become a rabbi, he did so by becoming a disciple of a rabbi.  The boy and his family decided upon a rabbi and then asked the rabbi-teacher to accept the boy under his discipleship.  For example, a well-known first century rabbi, Akiva, traveled from Babylon to Jerusalem to sit under the instruction of the rabbis of the School of Hillel.  Other sages with disciples were Rabbi Ezra (not related to the biblical figure) who had five disciples;[55] Rabban Johanan ben Zakki[56] who was a contemporary of Jesus,[57] had either five [58] or possibly seven disciples.[59]  Jesus had twelve.[60] These disciples lived with their sage and emulated the one they called “lord” or “master.”  One was not permitted to teach the Torah for money, so rabbis would teach children how to read and write, for which they received payment.  Many rabbis and sages were common workers, such as fishermen, day laborers, and carpenters and, in such cases, the disciples worked along with them in their secular employment.  A few were independently wealthy, such as Nicodemus. Many sages originated in the Galilee area but eventually ended up in Jerusalem, where they started schools for advanced theological studies known as yeshivas, or seminaries.[61]  Finally, Jesus functioned as a prophet and a typical sage of His day.

To become a disciple (or student) of a popular rabbi was difficult.  Therefore, it was not uncommon for an aspiring student-disciple to depend upon a third individual to provide an outstanding recommendation for the prospective student.  Being accepted was a sign of prestige for the student as well as his family.   Therefore, when Jesus called upon selected individuals to follow him, he was definitely breaking from the cultural norm. Furthermore, Jesus selected individuals such as tax collectors and common fishermen, people who were not at all considered to be likely candidates.

Often rabbis would ask a would-be disciple a series of questions and then determine if the young man was acceptable. Jesus however, was different.  What He did not ask of His disciples is as significant as what He eventually required of them.  As His disciples eventually became proficient, Jesus sent them out on their own to test their knowledge and skills, but also to experience the power of God working through them.  As a disciple (Gk. mathetes),[62] the student-disciple imitated his master; as an apostle (Gk. apostello) he was sent out, like an ambassador in that he represented his master.[63] The unique feature of this question, “Where are you staying?” is further explained in 05.04.02.

Student-disciples studied under, and imitated the life of their master-teacher.  When their rabbi went on a journey, they went with him and carried his personal belongings, prepared his food, and gave him a comfortable place to sleep in the evenings.  Rabbinic writings indicate that whatever comforts any rabbi had were provided for him by his servant-disciples, as they observed his lifestyle and patterned their lives after his.[64]  Furthermore, among some sages and rabbis, all property was held in a common fund from which food and other necessities were purchased.[65]  The classroom was not in a formal setting, but in an open marketplace within the public temple area. It could be along a path, or under an olive or fig tree, where travelers could stop and participate in the discussions between the rabbi and his disciples.[66]  When men decided to sit and listen, the women would then have to take the children aside, but they could not be part of the conversation.  So when Jesus called children to himself, he was also inviting their mothers, implying that they were eligible to hear His word. It was another break from the cultural norm. What the rabbis taught was memorized by his disciples; they had no note pads or scrolls; they did not take notes or carry text books. All their learning was immediately put to memory and then discussed the many subjects as a group.

02.03.04B (2)


[1]. Mills and Michael, Messiah and His Hebrew Alphabet. 7.


[2]. Culpepper, “Education.” 2:23-27.


[3]. Golub, In the Days. 240.


[4]. Ossuaries were bone boxes, in which the bones of the deceased were placed about a year after the burial.  Ossuaries were popular only for a brief time – from about 50 B.C. until the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70.

[5]. Mishnah, Nashim Gittin 2.5; Mishnah, Nashim Gittin 3.1; See the divorce decree written in Aramaic on papyrus at 08.02.03.A.


[6]. It is doubtful that many seminary students today could do this without a computer or concordance. Mary was a well-educated teenaged girl.


[7]. A number of early Christian hymns are embedded in the New Testament.  The best known are 1) the Magnificat (Lk. 1:46-55); 2) the Nunc Dimittis (Lk. 2:29-32); 3) Eph. 5:14 is considered to be either a baptismal hymn or a hymn to the unconverted; 4) 1 Tim. 3:16 is an early church creed that was sung, and 5) 2 Tim. 2:11 ff. is thought to be a fragment of an Eucharistic hymn.  Philippians 2:6-11 was known as the Christ Hymn. Other verses that were incorporated into songs are. Acts 4:24-28, Col. 1:15 ff., Mt. 11:25 ff., and Jn. 1:1-5, 9-13. See Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 527; Ryken, Wilhoit, and Longman, eds., “Christ Hymn.” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. 144-45.


[8]. Cited by Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1.


[9]. This interesting question is presented by Alan Millard in “Literacy in the Time of Jesus: Could His Words have been Recorded in His Lifetime?” (Biblical Archaeology Review. July-August 2003. 19:4. 37-45). Millard argues that some words of Jesus were probably written down by His listeners. See Alan Millard, “Words of Jesus Written Down as He Spoke?” Artifax. Summer, 2003, 18:3, 6.


[10]. See “Ostraca” in Appendix 26 for more details.


[11]. Deut. 4:9-10; 6:6-7; Ps. 78: 1-8; etc.


[12].  Breshit Rabba 46.1 as paraphrased from Beth Uval, ed. Self-Guided Tour Trail “C.”  Neot  Kedumim Ltd. Lod, Israel. 1987. 15.


[13]. Farrar, Life of Christ. 72, 338-39. See discussions on the fig tree in 13.02.01 and 09.03.09.


[14]. Geikie, The Life and Words. 1:581.


[15]. Safrai, The Economy of Roman. 947; Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 134-35; Farrar, The Life of Christ. 46.


[16]. Mishnah, Berakoth 4.2.


[17]. Mishnah, Abot 5.21; Martin, Worship in the Early Church. 26.


[18]. Bracketed inserts by Danby, ed.


[19]. Bivin, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus, 4-8.

[20]. Lee, U., The Life of Christ. 122-26.


[21]. Sirach 24:30-34, 33:16-18, and 34: 9-12.


[22]. Neusner and Green, eds., Dictionary of Judaism. 620.


[23]. Brown, Philosophy. 7.


[24]. Mishnah, Aboth 2.1.


[25]. To make plaster, the ancients burned limestone for 72 hours until it became a heavy dust. Then they added water and placed it on the walls with a trowel.  Because limestone is about thirty percent water, the burning process required considerable fuel. The result was that during the Roman period many areas were deforested. SOURCE: Interview with Arie bar David, tour guide and lecturer. August 1999.


[26]. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1.


[27]. Cited by Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1. Note: Sometimes the chapter and verse divisions are also different.


[28]. Source: Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1.


[29]. For a typical bill of divorce format, see 08.02.03.A and Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 2:124-25.


[30]. See also Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 160-62.


[31]. Mishnah, Ketuboth 7.10.


[32].  The term “bitter water” was a concoction of consecrated water flavored with dirt from an open area of the temple.  A woman suspected of adultery was given this bitter water to drink, and if she was guilty, her stomach would rupture and she would be killed. See Parry, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Talmud. 82.


[33]. Bracketed clarification by Danby, ed. Mishnah.


[34]. The wide range of rabbinic opinions is evident in various Jewish writings. See 02.02.01.V for more information on this subject.


[35]. Cited by Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 1:530.


[36]. See also Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 435-37.


[37]. Millard, “Literacy in the Time of Jesus.” 40-42.


[38]. Cited by Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 425.


[39]. Josephus, Antiquities 14.7.10.


[40]. Josephus, The Life of Flavius Josephus 37;  Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 161 n46.


[41]. Witherington, Living Word. 173.


[42]. Witherington III, Ben. “Almost Thou Persuadest Me…” 67.


[43]. Metzger, New Testament. 50.


[44]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 5, page 13.


[45]. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 11.


[46]. An example is found in Acts 4:13 where John and Peter were both referred to as agrammatoi. See Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 278.

[47]. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1.

[48]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 75.    


[49]. Bivin, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus, 9-12.

[50]. Horsley, Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee. 40.


[51]. Spangler and Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. 23, 27.


[52]. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 7.


[53]. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 2, Session 1.


[54]. Geikie, The Life and Words. 1:549.


[55]. 2 Esdras 14:42.


[56]. Rabbi Zakkai was the last disciple of the famous Rabbi Hillel. See Parry, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Talmud. 38-39.


[57]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 303.


[58]. Mishnah, Berakoth 5:5.


[59]. Midrash, Tanhuma Hayyei Sarah 6.


[60]. An example of a aspiring disciple who came to Jesus is found in John 1:25-51. See 05.04.02.


[61]. For the Jews, the best education was theology and the best place to learn theology was in Jerusalem.  For the Greeks and Romans, the best education was philosophy and rhetoric, and the best places to learn philosophy and rhetoric were in universities located in Athens, Rome, Marseilles, Antioch, and several other cities. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages. 34-35.


[62]. Bauder, “Disciple, Follow, Imitate, After.” 1:480-81.


[63]. Muller, “Apostle.” 1:126-27, 135-36.


[64]. Keller, “Jesus the teacher.” 21, with reference to Mishnah, Negaim 8:2; Babylon Talmud, Pasahim 36a.


[65]. Keller, “Jesus the teacher.” 22, with reference to Babylonian Talmud, Erubin 73a.


[66]. Keller, “Jesus the teacher.” 22, with reference to Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 4:16; Jerusalem Talmud, Berakoth II. 5c.


  • Chapters