Long time readers have heard some of this here before. Over at Bible and Interpretation, Stephen Catto provides a wonderful essay summarizing much of his academic research into first century 'Synagogue' structure and practice. I recommend it most highly.
The study of Synagogues provides our strongest evidence for reconstructing the childhood and community life of Jesus in Nazareth, before he was famous. If Luke is right that Jesus grew in favor among people, then Jesus was part of that Synagogue, week in and week out, for three decades. That means the "silent years" are not completely silent.
For more, see my fourteen part series from August 2009:
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