Jews Judae Judaeans
- Dear Listers,
This posting is a contribution to the current "Jews" - "Judaea, Judaeans" debate.
(1) The Fourth Gospel calls the Pharisee Nicodemus "a ruler of the Jews" (John 3.1).
(2) Jesus calls him "the" teacher "of" Israel" (John 3.10) signifying his pre-eminence among all the teachers of Israel inc. the Diaspora!
(3) In his nocturnal visit to Jesus at Bethany from Beth-phage a kilometre distant along the Jerusalem-Jericho road, the latter could well have been the usual domicile for him and for his companions (evidence and arguments from that evidence supplied if wished).
Jesus himself used the term "Jews" to identify his enemies in John 18.36. Jesus and his recorder in the Passion report were both Jews and these pejorative references as a consequence cannot be directed to the Jewish nation per se. The presence of 'teachers' at Beth-phage I stress (see thoughts on chief-priest teachers below) because Nicodemus as teacher is identified as being one of the "Jews".
I propose that Beth-phage was the "Jews"' domicile, head-quarters and main area of activity during Gospel times and they who dwelt therein are in effect the "Jews" and that exclusively. It is no accident that Beth-phage is to be translated as, "a place (or house) of unripe figs": reminding one very much indeed of the pericope called 'the cursing of the fig-tree'!! Again, it is no accident that the Matthean seven Woes were issued to scribes and Pharisees at that precise area outside it on the Jerusalem-Jericho road (Matt 23.13-36)!! This is determined by the geography where they were uttered, that is, on the Jerusalem-Jericho road between Bethany and the city and just outside Beth-phage Matt 23.13-36.
The many references to presence of scribes, Pharisees etc. in the Synoptic Gospels, as far as their location is concerned, means either that they ranged far and wide throughout Palestine, far away from Jerusalem and places of learning (which feasibly, didactically and practically is highly unlikely) or Jesus found them in the environment of the Temple or eastern Jerusalem (specifically Beth-phage) where they were present in considerable numbers. In telescoping Jesus' Public Ministry into a single year, involved very much is the need for a telescoping of locations and geography along with their dramatis personae present.
Many scholars have tackled the identity of ARCIEREIS 'chief-priests', but after a tortuous examination and elimination of putative candidates they all leave out the distinct possibility that they were personnel fully engaged in preparing pupils for future service of Yahweh, either for service later in the Temple as religious functionaries or at Beth-phage as theologian-scribes. If that was not the chief-priests' role, then where did fledgling priests train? Certainly not in the sacrosanct Temple! Too many mistakes by learners would result! Jeremias gives the enormous figure of 7,200 fully trained priests at various times operative in the Temple without counting levites! It would seem therefore that Beth-phage, the only real locale, covered an enormous area on the Mount of Olives and was far from being an insignificant "village" as commonly thought. Origen and later Jerome called it a "village of priests" whereas in the decades before AD 70 it was a "city of priests" as was Nob its predecessor!
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- Reading through Kevin's recent post, I come again to
the only idea that seems to harmonize all the viewpoints
expressed in New Testament.
"Jesus himself used the term "Jews" to identify his enemies..."
Considering the era, and considering the prejudices, all
of this becomes instantly understandable if Jesus was
from a family of Samaritans that underwent the compulsory
conversions (in Samaria as well as Galillee) 100 years
before by the Hasmonean kings.
Jesus' enemies WOULD be Jews.... since most of his inner
circle and recruits he obtained from Samaria, Galilee
and even beyond.