The consensus of present-day historians that Jesus was crucified around the year 30 ce has been challenged by a minority of scholars who argue that the execution of John the Baptist could not take place earlier than 35 ce, and for that reason Jesus must have been crucified at the Passover of 36 ce. This paper argues that both parties have strong and convincing arguments, and for that reason we must conclude that John was probably executed after Jesus’ death. The collective memory of the early Christians did not succeed in retaining the chronological order of these events, and this circumstance allowed the synoptics to turn the Baptist into a forerunner of Christ.
This article challenges the emerging consensus that Jesus was a faithful Jew whose teaching could be understood within the bounds of first-century Jewish legal discussion. It is argued that Mark’s remark, that “Jesus declared all foods clean” (Mk 7:19b), adequately represents the originally intended meaning of an authentic saying regarding ethical and ceremonial purity (Mk 7:15, 18–19 par.). If so, he did not consider all of the stipulations of the Mosaic law to be binding.
Research on Luke-Acts and the Gospels has largely overlooked the major distinction within ancient historiography between accounts written about events contemporary with the author (e.g., by Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius) and accounts written about non-contemporary events (e.g., by Diodorus, Dionysius, Plutarch, Arrian). As ancient authors writing about contemporary events represented their sources primarily in terms of autopsy and eyewitness testimony, so Luke’s preface corresponds with this practice. I argue that a proper understanding of ancient historical method, epistemology, and the use of ἐπιχειρέω (Luke 1.1; Acts 9.29; 19.13) confirm that Luke represented as the sources for his account not the ‘many’ prior accounts but rather the ‘eyewitnesses’ and ‘servants of the word’.
The paper seeks to shed light on the ministry and reception of Jesus of Nazareth as perceived through the lens of the Gospel of John in the light of Samaritan, Galilean, and Judean perspectives. Flavius Josephus and the Samaritan tradition help us to gain a better understanding of certain details expressed or alluded to in the gospels. In particular, on the basis of these two sources the paper puts into context the gospel passage that is best informed about the relations between Samaritans and Jews, viz. John 4:1–42. It thus aims at elucidating the Samaritan references in the Gospel of John by current research on Samaritanism.
Comparative and historical methods of reading ancient texts are an ongoing key contribution to illuminating children in the Bible. The nineteenth-century archaeological discoveries in the ancient Near East propelled biblical studies into a new, critical reality. But there has always been a tension between arguing that the Hebrew Bible is the same as its cultural context, or arguing for its difference. Understanding ancient children must also contend with this tension. Current approaches to the study of the ancient Near East offer more of a balance, fully describing the ancient Near East and offering a broad cultural matrix as a reading lens to understand biblical texts. Here we explore a few examples of difference and sameness in the Hebrew Bible’s representation of children, to ask whether the Hebrew Bible is simply echoing its cultural matrix, or making some key point in contrast to a commonly held idea about children. Through the process we learn the importance of a comparative analysis when scholars make claims about children in biblical texts.
While recognized as important contributors to the household, children remain a small part of ancient Near Eastern archaeology. If one goal of archaeology is to study at a micro/macro level theories of cultural dynamics, then that record remains incomplete, even flawed, without the inclusion of children. Children should not be simply an alternative focus of research, but need to be an integral part of all archaeologies. This study identifies a new theoretical lens, childist archaeology, and then applies this lens to the investigation of children in ancient Israel. Through a case study focused on double-holed discs, or “buttons,” the study concludes that play should be understood as an integral part of skill transmission and the enculturation of children into society. To test the viability of the conclusions, the case study employs experimental archaeology wherein a group of children undertake the task of creating a spinning toy made of ceramics.
This chapter explores the theme of biblical children and method by examining the narrative relationship between children and Jesus’ disciples in the Gospel of Mark using Derridean poststructural deconstruction. Playing on the relationship between pais (child, slave) and paizō (to play, jest, mock), the essay shows how Mark playfully weaves two groups, adult male insiders (disciples) and children, typically expressed in Derridean hierarchical form as adult disciples over children, through his parable of the sower matrix. Doing so, Mark inverts them. With one contrasting exception, from Jairus’ daughter forward, children increasingly reveal the kingdom of God like seed cast in good soil, while the disciples’ ability to do so withers like seed in rocky soil. Mark’s presentation of children seems to toy with, even mock, the disciples, privileging children over them, perhaps fitting of Markan irony elsewhere.
However, this essay argues two points that undermine Mark’s characterizations. First, the slave girl of the high priest is a child in Mark. Second, her characterization challenges the typical binary hierarchy of adults over children as well as Mark’s inversion where children are privileged over the adult disciples. She exhibits traces of Mark’s positive and negative child exemplars. She is a threshold child.
In addition to archaeological and historical (i.e., textual) sources, art historical (or, iconographic) sources also contribute to the study of children in the ancient Near East. This essay proposes a method for identifying children and age groups in ancient Near Eastern iconography, introduces select methods for studying iconographic depictions of children, and demonstrates the value of using iconography to study children by focusing on the depiction of children in the Lachish Reliefs. Although filtered through the cultural lens of the artists and sculptors who composed iconographic images, ancient Near Eastern iconography provides a lens to understand the realities of children, the ways in which children were perceived, and the ways in which depictions of children were often used to contribute to state propaganda—in the case of the Lachish Reliefs, Assyrian propaganda. Although children were not the primary subject of interest in ancient Near Eastern art, they should not be ignored.