Cultural Sources behind the SpendaYearwithJesus Experience

Apr 28 2020

The Gospels serve as primary sources for the SpendaYearwithJesus experience. They Gospels provide numerous details of setting, characters, time, and action from which to build a framework around Jesus’ experience in his culture.

When considering legal and temple practice, E. P. Sanders offered a rule of thumb that includes 5 sources:**

  • the priestly writer [Leviticus],
  • Jospehus,
  • the Mishnah,
  • Philo,
  • Others such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, late Biblical books like the Chronicles or Nehemiah, Pseudepigrapha, and Apocrypha.

For Sanders, Leviticus, Josephus, and the Mishnah together are a solid witness to first-century legal-religious practices. Josephus and the Mishnah together are also probable while also ranking as probable is agreement between the Dead Sea Scrolls and Mishnah.

Three witnesses are best, however. In addition, with all of the sources, one must be aware of potential dependence of the later texts quoting or deriving from Leviticus.

** E. P. Sanders, “Comparing Judaism and Christianity: An Academic Autobiography,” 2004. A paper read at “New Views of First-Century Jewish and Christian Self-Definition: An International Conference in honor of E. P. Sanders.” Pages 21-22.

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