NT Scriptural Focus

In my studies of the history of Jesus and the Judaism of his times 2 things have stood out recently:

1. Kingdom of God as a saying was only used 4 times in the Tanakh

2. Satan, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, never appears – and the term ‘the satan’ appears about 4 times in various contexts (namely in Job)

The kingdom of God amount of passages in the NT make sense since the critical times of the era. There was a build-up in messianic fervour and Israel was waiting on a king, like David, to rebuild the kingdom of Israel. Jesus’ focus on this topic fits squarely in with the Judaism of his time.

Satan is a weird concept that gets a lot of play in NT scriptures. The idea is thoroughly not a Hebrew scripture creation and seems to evolve from the Babylonian and Greek ideas. This was allowed fruition under Roman rule since they allowed these ideas to mesh since they accepted outside religious ideas.

Jesus also seemed to cast out demons and heal people afflicted by ‘the satan’. This was a common idea amongst healers of the time, that people were given afflictions by ‘the adversary’ so a healer could cure them.

But all in all, satan was not a focus in the Judaic faith in that age (nor now). So where did this focus come from?

I would contend since Judaism did not focus highly on this concept that the focus was more relatable to the gentile composers of the gospels. Satan was an invention for gentile salvation – which needed zero salvation since they were part of the empire – and it helped create a dualism needed to lift Jesus to salvation for all.

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PaRDeS

Wikipedia lists the 4 Jewish approaches to interpretation of scripture.

Peshat (פְּשָׁט) — “surface” (“straight”) or the literal (direct) meaning.

Remez (רֶמֶז) — “hints” or the deep (allegoric: hidden or symbolic) meaning beyond just the literal sense.

Derash (דְּרַשׁ) — from Hebrew darash: “inquire” (“seek”) — the comparative (midrashic) meaning, as given through similar occurrences.

Sod (סוֹד) “secret” (“mystery”) or the esoteric/mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation.

Christianity uses pieces of this formula but the evangelical wings are almost solely focused on ‘literalism’.

The problem with literalism is it obscures the meaning of biblical texts and ignores the aspects of comparison, literary devices, and applied meaning.

Christianity also removed the context of scripture muddying the waters of understanding a passage even more.

Some things are literal but many things, even within literalism, have various interpretations on top of them as well. Scripture is by no means that easy to understand.

2 examples:

1. Jesus is the ‘way’ – this is obvious personification of an object (way). Christians will say Jesus is the way in the literal sense of escaping hell. But when this examined it’s more likely the passage is used to usurp the role of Judaism in 1st/2nd century Roman territory. One only need study Judaism’s use of halakah (the pathway) to see the obvious connection.

2. Man was made for the sabbath, not the sabbath for man. Many christians see Jesus breaking sabbath here and historically changed the day of their worship to Sunday’s (seeing sabbath with menial importance). But Jesus is doing nothing of the sort except pointing out how man (life) is of more importance than the sabbath. This can be found through comparison and context of his actions surrounding these words.

All of this is to say, are we sure Christian interpretation got it right when they examine their own scriptures with short-sightedness and lack of context? The virgin birth says ‘they got lots wrong’.