[↑↑↑ mostly apologetics related ↑↑↑]
[↑↑↑ mostly apologetics related ↑↑↑]
//Throughout the silent years Jesus was learning to dream. Nazareth itself is tucked away in a hollow of the hills, a secluded little town. But the extraordinary thing about Nazareth was that the world passed almost by its door. It has been said that Judaea was on the way to nowhere and Galilee was on the way to everywhere, for the great roads of the East passed through Galilee. Jesus had only to climb the hilltop above the cup-like hollow of Nazareth and the passing world was at his feet. From there he could look down on the great Road of the Sea, the road which went from Damascus to Egypt, one of the greatest highways in the world with its merchantmen and its caravans. From there he could see the strategic Road of the East which went out from the Mediterranean coast to Parthia and to the eastern bounds of the Roman Empire with its Arab traders and its Roman legions clanking on their way. From there, if he looked westwards, he could see the blue waters of the Mediterranean, with the sails of the ships and the cargoes of those who do business in great waters.
So Jesus could climb the hilltop behind Nazareth, and from there he could see the roads coming and going to the ends of the earth. It was there that he must have dreamed his dreams, and it may be that it was there that something first said to him: 'I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself' (John 12:32).//
END QUOTE [bold added by me - AP]
//Another interesting fact which comes to light when we try to reconstruct the original Aramaic in which our Lord's sayings in all the Gospels were spoken is that very many of these sayings exhibit poetical features. Even in a translation we can see how full they are of parallelism, which is so constant a mark of Old Testament poetry. When they are turned into Aramaic, however, they are seen to be marked by regular poetical rhythm, and even, at times, rhyme. This has been demonstrated in particular by the late Professor C. F. Burney in The Poetry of our Lord (1925). A discourse that follows a recognisable pattern is more easily memorised, and if Jesus wished His teaching to be memorised His use of poetry is easily explained. Besides, Jesus was recognised by His contemporaries as a prophet, and prophets in Old Testament days were accustomed to utter their oracles in poetical form. Where this form has been preserved, we have a further assurance that His teaching has been handed down to us as it was originally given.//
“Dr. Van Til, why did you decide to devote your life to the study of philosophy and the teaching of apologetics?” And I then sat back to allow the metaphysics free room to roll. Van Til never blinked. “Why,” he said, “to protect Christ’s little ones.”
John Crossan believes that Jesus was illiterate. This, of course, contradicts the New Testament, for there we are told that Jesus read from Isaiah before preaching in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-20). Crossan puts forth the following argument for his conclusion: He begins by saying that according to Mark 6:3, Jesus was a tekton. The most common English rendering of tekton is "builder," or "carpenter," but Crossan takes the term not as a description of a trade, but as a description of a group of low-caste peasant expendables. He then states that 95-96% of Jews in first-century Palestine were illiterate; hardly any of the remaining 4-5% would have come from this low class. Here, then, is his conclusion: "[The stories that Jesus was literate] must be seen clearly for what they are: Lukan propaganda rephrasing Jesus' oral challenge and charisma in terms of scribal literacy and exegesis."12See also my blogpost: Did Jesus Speak Multiple Languages?
I argue that Crossan is wrong on this point, and here are my reasons why: All Greek-English lexicons render tekton as "carpenter," a reference to a trade, not to a social class.13 Moreover, we know that manual labor was not a derogatory distinction in Jewish Palestine, in contrast to Crossan's insinuation that it was. The Mishnah, for example, places the teaching of a manual trade to one's son on a par with teaching him Torah.14 Obviously, in the Jewish world anything analogous to Torah was clearly honorable. Now, it is hard for me to imagine that the commandment to teach one's son Torah would result in a 95% illiteracy rate among the Jewish population. Consider the Jewish literature produced by the Roman period: not only the entire Old Testament, but also the New Testament, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, the Bar Kokhba literature, the Mishnah, and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. These are immense bodies of literature; in the last, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, some fifty thousand documents exist! Would a literary achievement so extensive have been produced for a 3-5% reading population? Further, if Crossan were right about Jesus' illiteracy, why would Luke have intentionally lied about it? After all, if 95% of the population were illiterate, there would be no reason to make Jesus literate.15
14. "A man should always teach his son a cleanly craft" (Qiddushin 4:14); "At five years old [one is fit] for the Scripture, at ten years for the Mishnah" (Aboth 5:21); "Above all we pride ourselves on the education of our children, and regard as the most essential task in life the observance of our laws..." (Josephus, Against Apion 1.60); "[The Law] orders that [children] be taught to read, and shall learn both the laws and the deeds of the forefathers..." (Josephus, Against Apion 2.204).
15. See A. Millard, "Literacy in the Time of Jesus," Biblical Archaeology Review 29/4 (2003): 37-45, who concludes that "writing and reading were widely practiced in the Palestine of Jesus' day." Further, G. Dalman, Jesus—Jeshua: Studies in the Gospels, trans. P. Levertoff (New York: KTAV, 1971), 36-37, leaves virtually no doubt that Jesus was literate.