Showing posts from 2009

The Sign of Jonah?

In Matthew 12:39, Yeshua is recorded as saying to the gathered Pharisees, "...An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but there shall be given no sign to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah."

Many have understood this verse to be an unequivocal claim to "messiahship" made by Yeshua. That Yeshua was saying that Jonah was a “sign” to his generation even as the he, Yeshua would be to his. However, understood in context, the verse is a simple reference to an old testament event with definite meaning. Its meaning is complicated by the following verse (40), "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly: so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

First of all, verse 40 begins in a way ( "ὥσπερ γὰρ", "just as") that implies that it is a clarifying (or parenthetical) comment of the gospel writer, and not Yeshua's; . Also, it refers to an event that was yet to ha…

A Gospel Enigma?

Over at, they wonder about the "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." As they see it, it is this so-called "baptism of repentance" that ensures a remission from sin, rather than the death of the messiah Yeshua on the cross. I agree with their viewpoint, but it is no enigma. Let's look.

First of all, the Hebrew word for repentance is teshuvah. As I have pointed out (, the "baptism of repentance" is better understood as an "immersion in teshuvah."

The concept of immersion (greek baptizo) could be used to mean the traditional immersion in water, but it was also an idiom which meant a complete and utter dedication to a course of action, or duty. In Matthew 20:22 Yeshua used the term in this way.
"... Yeshua said, You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup which I am about to drink, and to be baptized with the baptism with which I a…

Peter the "Rock?"

Matthew 16:18 says:

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.

A number of Christian denominations and scholars hold that Simon Peter was the most prominent of the apostles, favored by Jesus of Nazareth with the first place of honor and authority. This doctrine is known as the Primacy of Simon Peter or the Petrine Primacy. This highly debated point is often reduced to a discussion of the meaning and translation of the above verse.

Roman Catholic views differ from those of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Reformed Churches, which differ from each other. Many hold that the term epi taute to petra "upon this rock" refers to Peter. The Greek shifts bluntly from the masculine petros (rock) to the femenine toute to petra (this rock) too freely. There is really no need for the Greek writer to shift gender here. Greek has a perfectly good masculine phrase for "this rock" - touto petros. Th…

The Great Commission

Matthew 28:18 -20 says:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.(KJV)

The first interesting thing about this saying is the reference to "all power." The Greek word used here is exousia, which Thayer translates (primarily) as "liberty," or "power of choice." But, the word literally means "to be out." The word translates (according to the Peshitta) the Aramaic word Sholtana (authority). But, in the trilingual world of first-century Galillee, the word actually translates the Hebrew word koach, which means "to chastise," or "to prove."

Idiomatically however, the word was a shortcut to the thought "koach ha'toladah&qu…


Christians translate metanoia (Greek) as "to repent." It is often said that the word literally means to "change the mind." But, this is not the literal translation of the word metanoia. In fact, literally, it means "afterthought," and it can be translated as "reconsideration." In the context of rhetoric, metanoia is a rhetorical device used to retract or correct a statement just made, by stating it in a better way. It is in this context that the Hebrews intended it. The Hebrew version of this word is found at Job 21:34 "So how can you console me with your futile words? Nothing is left of your answers ( uT'$uVoTaykeM- "responses of yours") but deception!"

The boundaries of Jewish law are determined through the halakhic process, a religious-ethical system of legal reasoning. Rabbis generally base their opinions on the primary sources of Halakha as well as on precedent set by previous rabbinic opinions. The major sources …