Do the Gospels burst with incidental assumptions/details fine-tuned to a Palestinian milieu?

  • Introduction

    As one reads through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, do appropriate Palestinian references pop up to specific known people, places, and things? Are Palestinian kinds of things also accurately referenced and alluded to? Do the contents of the Gospels therefore burst with Palestinian coloring appropriate to the time and place?

“Yes, after all…
  • Gospels well-refer to 50+ Palestinian geo-sites

    The City of Jerusalem. There is a wall in front, with buildings behind. The temple stands in the back.

    The Gospels are full of references to geographical locations and place-names unique to the environs of Palestine, which are well-established or—almost always—archaeologically confirmed.

    A page on this is forthcoming, but for example:

    • 27 cities super-fit Palestine.1
    • Other sites abound (e.g. lakes, hills, mountains, regions)

    This is relevant because discussion of, and casual reference to, local sites—and often esoteric ones—is one of the most straightforward ways we can confirm that a source is correctly bursting with incidental details appropriate to the time and place.

    1. Confirmed cities include: Aenon, Arimathea* (disputed), Bethany, Bethlehem, Bethpage, Bethsaida, Caesarea, Philippi, Cana, Capernaum, Chorazin, Dalmanutha, Emmaus, Ephraim, Gennesaret, Jericho, Jerusalem/Zion, Magadan, Nain, Nazareth, Rama, Salim, Sidon, Sychar, Tiberius, Tyre, Zerephath.
  • In Gospels all & only Palestine pop-names get clarity

    Throughout the Gospels, it is all and only the popular names in Palestine that get unambiguators (e.g. “Son of xyz”).

    A full page will analyze 3 arguments:

    • E.g. Gospels unambiguate Simon, Palestine’s commonest name.1
    • E.g. Gospels unambiguate Mary, Palestine’s commonest female name.2
    • E.g. Gospels clarify all & only Palestine’s pop. apostle names.3

    This is relevant because this pattern of disambiguation would not be expected in other locales.

    1. Simon Peter (Mk 3:16), Simon the Zealot (Mk 3:18), Simon the Leper (Mk 14:3), and Simon the Cyrenian (Mk 15:21).
    2. Mary the mother of Jesus (Mt 1:16, cf. Acts 1:14), Mary Magdalene (Lk 8:2), Mary the mother of James and Joseph (Mt 27:56), [Mary] Salome (omitting the bracketed part), Mary [“sister” of Martha, of Bethany] (Lk 10:39?), Mary the wife of Clopas (Jn 19:25).
    3. [Common names: Ranked less than 30 in popularity]:
      [Rank #1] “Simon, who is called Peter”
      [Rank #1] “Simon the Zealot”
      [Rank #4] “Judas of Iscariot”
      [Rank #5] “John[son of Zebedee] his [James’s] brother”
      [Rank #9] “Matthew the Tax collector”
      [Rank #11] “James the son of Zebedee”
      [Rank #11] “James the son of Alphaeus”
      [Uncommon Names, Ranked greater than 30 in popularity]:
      [39] Thaddaeus
      [50] Bartholemew
      [61] Philip
      [>99]Andrew his [Peter’s] brother [Note: this isn't being used to disambiguate]
  • Gospel Jesus-sayings are full of Aramaisms

    In the Gospels, the authors often translate for the reader a saying of Jesus, indicating that the original language Jesus spoke in a Galilean version of Western Aramaic.1

    There are 15 independent examples in the Gospels:

    • Talitha cum—”Little girl, get up!”2
    • Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani—”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”3
    • Abba—”Father”4
    • Bar—”Son [of Jonah]"5
    • Beel—’'Beel[zebul]"6
    • Gehenna—”Hell”7
    • Cephas—”Peter”8
    • Mammon—”Wealth”9
    • Pascha—”Passover”10
    • Rabbi—”Rabbi/Teacher”11
    • Boanerges—”Boanerges/Sons of Thunder”12
    • Raca—”You fool!”13
    • Sabbata—”Sabbath”14
    • Sata—”Measures”15
    • Satanas—”Satan”16
      [Note: in the corresponding footnotes “+Mk” means it is attested in Mk but also Mt or Lk. And “+Mt” or “+Lk” means it is part of Q—the content shared by Mt and Lk.]
    1. Robert Stein, The Method and Message of Jesus (Westminster, 1994), 4-5.
    2. Mk 5:41
    3. +Mk 15:34
    4. Mk 14:36. Compare Gal 4:6 and Rom 8:15.
    5. Mt 16:17.
    6. Mt 10:25; +Mt 12:27
    7. +Mk 9:47; Mk 9:43, 45; +Mt 10:28; Mt 5:22, 29; 23:15, 33.
    8. Jn 1:42.
    9. +Mt 6:24; Lk 16:9, 11.
    10. +Mk 14:14; Lk 22:8, 15.
    11. Mt 23:7, 8. Compare Jn 1:38.
    12. Mk 3:17.
    13. Mt 5:22.
    14. +Mk 3:4; Mt 12:5, 11.
    15. +Mt 13:33.
    16. +Mk 3:26; 8:33; Mk 3:23; Lk 10:18; 13:16; 22:31.
  • Jesus’ Gospel sayings super-retrovert from Greek to Aramaic

    Jesus stands with his arm out, a speech bubble from him has an aramaic and a greek letter in it

    We discern an Aramaic original behind the recorded-in-Greek teachings of Jesus in the Gospels.

    See this page to explore two kinds of examples:

    • Gospel Jesus-sayings include Aramaic puns translated into Greek.
    • Powerful parallelism etc. comes out when translated to Aramaic.1
    1. In fact, about 80% of Jesus's sayings are crystallized into some kind of pallelismus memborum (presumably for pedagogical reasons), and that a number of them depend on translating the Greek Gospel sayings backwards into Aramaic.
  • NT name-ratios precisely match Palestine’s

    There is a surprised man standing above a graph labeled "Names". The left and right sides of the graph are exactly equal.

    The popularity of Jewish names in 1st century Palestine match that of Jewish names in the New Testament.

    This page looks at 4 arguments:

    • AD 30 Palestine’s commonest names are equally so in Gospels.
    • AD 30 Palestine’s nine commonest names are equally so in Gospels.
    • AD 30 Palestine’s rarer names are equally rare in Gospels.
    • AD 30 Palestine’s Greek names (12%) are also ~12% in Gospels.
  • E.g. Gospel pricings super-fit Palestine

    In the Gospels, various items appear to be accurately priced, at least for AD 30 Palestine.

    Consider three clean examples...

    • In Mk, the Jewish “lepta” is known and accurately appraised.1
    • In Lk, oil and wheat are accurately priced.2
    • In Mt, the 2 drachma tax is accurately priced.3
    1. In Mark we read…
      Mk 12:42 — “[As Jesus watched,] a poor widow came and put in two lepta coins, which amount to a quadrans…”
      These were the smallest coins circulating in Palestine. It was worth one sixty-fourth of a denarius, the daily wage of a laborer (see IBD, II, 1022). The author is accurately aware that his Roman readers outside Palestine would be unfamiliar with this count.
    2. In Luke we read…
      Lk 16:6-7 — And he said, [I owe] ‘A hundred jugs of oil.’ And [the manger] said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another [debtor], ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred kors of wheat.’ [The manager] said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’
      This is relevant because…
      Craig Keener: “The percentages of debt forgiven differ, but roughly the same amount of money is forgiven in each of the sample transactions (about 500 denarii).” [IVP Bible Background Commentary 2nd ed. (IVP, 2014), 223.]
    3. In Matthew we read,
      Mt 17:24, 27 — “[t]hose who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, Does your teacher not pay…?… [Jesus told Peter] go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater.” This fits the time and place quite well. A “stater” was worth four drachmas (4 denarii), so it covered the tax for both Jesus and Peter.
  • In general, Gospels spew details fitted to AD 30 Palestine

    A book is open, a picture of Jerusalem is on the page. A picture of a man, a roman soldier, and a king are above the page. There is a checkmark next to their picture. To the right it says "AD 30"

    Incidental details in the Gospels are fine-tuned to local knowledge and experience in AD 30 Palestine.

    This page analyzes 9 examples/evidences:

    • Bethsaida was the pre-AD 30 name of an obscure city.
    • Gospel’s Jesus-rhetoric super-fit AD 30-70 Palestine rabbis.
    • Pharisee vs. Jesus debates fit AD 30-70 rabbi hot-topics.
    • The rulers named fit that time and place.
    • Gospel assumptions oft fit AD 30 Palestine.
    • Gospels rightly capture Pharisaic law meticulousness.
    • Parable with Pharisees and Tax collectors fit the time-place.
    • Gospel depiction of Roman relations super-fit AD 30-70 Palestine.
    • Gospels ruler-titles super-fit AD 30-70 Palestine.
    • E.g. The passion content super-fits AD 30-70 Palestine