August 27, 2011

Anti-Semites must love the term "Jesus' Silent Years"

It took nineteen centuries for Christian scholars to embrace the fact that Jesus was fully Jewish. Consciously or unconsciously, some experts still try to minimize the impact of that realization. But the primary and most certain conclusion about Jesus’ early life must be that his life in the Synagogue was extremely significant.

According to Luke, Jesus, the Jew, grew in favor with his Jewish community. That community, of course, was the Synagogue. It was more than his custom to meet there on Sabbath days. Not only are we told this distinctly, but logic demands we believe Jesus attended the Synagogue faithfully.  He could not have remained in good standing in Nazareth otherwise.

In his sovereignty, God chose for Jesus to grow up learning Torah, every Sabbath, with the Nazarene-Jewish community.  The Lord's faith, life and practice all blossomed, however uniquely, in the light and the life of that Nazareth Synagogue.  Any Biblical Historiography of the Lord’s life has to deal with those facts, and that context. But with such a realization, can there be any question that established Christendom, in centuries past, would have been less than eager to embrace such a view? And yet, given what little the Gospels reflect of Jesus' early life and hometown experience, there is no other view that can possibly be taken.

If Jesus' early years aren't to be muzzled, our Gospel based conclusion must inevitably be that those years must have been very centered on Synagogue, for Jesus. My own investigation took place two years ago, and remains online, right here.  As research based argument, it's a crude treatment, of course.  But I'd appreciate very much everyone taking another good look.

On today's point:  The past predominance of antisemitism certainly doesn't prove that my reconstruction of Jesus' early years is on track. It does, however, point out at least one reason why scholars ought to be more skeptical of the old, oft repeated mantra, "The Gospels are silent on Jesus' early life." In this amateur historian's opinion, they reflect much... but only to those who are willing to look.

Consider these things...


Mjazz said...

I was somewhat taken aback to see a writer in a conservative Baptist publication talk about the governors of "Palestine" while Jesus lived.
Of course, He lived in Israel, and Palestine is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

Bill Heroman said...

Hi, Mjazz. While I have certainly seen the term "Palestine" used with exclusive if not racist intentions, it's not necessarily so. Personally, I try to use both terms, in the following sense:

With reference merely to a political and official sense, it's historically accurate to say there was no "Israel" in the 1st century. There was "Judea" and "Galilee", etc.

In the hearts and minds of Jewish and Christian believers, such as Jesus and Paul, and their followers, they would have absolutely told you that their homeland was still called "Israel".

Thanks for the good conversation.

Mjazz said...

Of course Israel was occupied by the Romans. We do have the instance with Jesus, saying of the centurion, that He hadn't seen such faith in all of Israel.

martha said...
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