The popularity of Jewish names in 1st century Palestine match that of Jewish names in the New Testament.
• 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.
But so what? Plausibly…
• The name ratios hold for Diaspora Jews. (But no...)2
Throughout the Gospels, it is all and only the popular names in Palestine that get unambiguators (e.g. “Son of xyz”).
• E.g. Gospels always unambiguate Palestine’s commonest male name.
• E.g. Gospels always unambiguate Palestine’s commonest female name.
• E.g. Gospel 12 apostle-list unambiguate all & only Palestine’s commonest names.
In AD 30 the tiny city of “Bethsaida” was barely known outside of Galilee (a region of Palestine),1 and in that year it's name was changed to “Julia.”2 This is relevant because the city played a key role in the Gospels, and in the Gospels the characters all know the city still as Bethsaida rather than Julia.3 That means the content of the Gospels is very fine-tuned indeed to AD 30 Palestine.
In the Gospels, Jesus spoke and argued in ways that mirrored contemporary Jewish rhetoric right around the time of AD 30.
• AD 30 Rabbis say “You have heard it said…”
• AD 30 Rabbis oft say “to what shall I compare.”
• AD 30 Rabbis oft say “So-and-so is like…”
• AD 30 Rabbis say “get beam out of your eye first.”
• AD 30 Rabbis spoke of “moving mountains.”
• AD 30 Rabbis spoke of the “kingdom of heaven.”
• AD 30 Rabbis oft spoke of “the Son of Man.”
• AD 30 Rabbis spoke of “[animal] passing through needle-eye.”
• AD 30 Rabbis give something like the Lord’s prayer.
• AD 30 Rabbis linked the commands by “You shall love.”
• AD 30 Rabbis give parables with interpretations.
• AD 30 Rabbis gave proverbs & riddles.
• AD 30 Rabbis used hyperbole and overstatement.
• AD 30 Rabbis oft delivered beatitudes.
• AD 30 Rabbis teach lust, hyperbolically, is adultery.
• AD 30 Rabbis teach “you get the mercy you give.”
• AD 30 Rabbis distinguished “light” & “heavy” commands.
• Jesus’s debates super-fit AD 30 rabbi interests.
• Craig Keener: “Ancient novels usually reflect the environment of their authors far better than the environment in which the story is set. This tendency is true also of many later apocryphal gospels…1 By contrast, many of Jesus’s reported sayings in the Synoptics (and for that matter, some in John) address a setting that fits Jesus’s particular geographic or chronological milieu, even though these Gospels, too, are written for a later audience… These features likely reflect an origin far earlier than Mark’s…” [Christobiography (Eerdmans, 2019), 318.]
The Gospel-recorded debates Jesus engaged in with the pharisees actually super-fit rabbinic interests exactly in c. AD 30 Palestine.
• Rabbis debated purity via inside/outside cups.2
• Rabbis debated the divorce question asked of Jesus.3
Incidental details in the Gospels are fine-tuned to local knowledge and experience in AD 30 Palestine.
• Superfits: The described Passover meal.
• Superfits: The Jewish feasts (recline etc.) super-fit.
• Superfits: The described trial of Jesus.
• Superfits: Women walking in from the Galilee funeral procession.
• Superfits: Roman soldiers dress-mocking a king-claimant.
• Superfits: The flagellation of a to-be victim of crucifixion.
• Superfits: The described crucifixion of Jesus.
• Superfits: The described Centurion at Jesus’ crucifixion.
• Superfits: Romans granting Jews Jesus’s legs broken to bury him.
• Superfits: The described burial of Jesus (e.g. stone tomb, spices).
The Gospels proficiently and causally reference 80+ known sites, regions, and cities unique to the Palestinian region.
• The Gospels burst with 27 well-referenced cities (which are pictured accurately). • The Gospels burst with 50+ well-referenced sites (e.g. Golgotha).