How it came to pass that in the first century C.E. everyone was expecting the Messiah.
In Matthew 22:42, Yeshua poses a question to the Pharisaic scholars: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?”1 The scholars answer right off, “The son of David,” but the question had been presented in such a way as to suggest that there yet could be some debate about it. When this discussion took place, a Jewish tradition that had been long in forming was just coming to maturity.
Archaeologists often seem to be obsessed with ancient wars and destruction. We can often be found eagerly sifting through the debris of ancient conflicts at long-forgotten sites looking for hints of what happened “back then.” This is not so much because we are sadistic in nature, but rather because it is often within the debris of these ancient conflicts that we find the best-preserved material remains which, in turn, can provide us with special windows into the past—destruction layers are almost like moments frozen in time.
It is usually a great surprise, for most Christians and Jews, to realize that the Jesus, the central figure of the Christian faith, never was a Christian, and never belonged to a Christian Church. On the contrary, during his entire life, Jesus was nothing but a Jew. He was born as a Jew, and he lived and died as such. Furthermore, according to the New Testament, he was resurrected as a Jew and ascended to heaven as a Jew. All the events of his life, death and resurrection, narrated in the Gospels and in the first chapter of the book of Acts, occurred well before the beginning of the church, hence, inside the Judaism of the time.
The Christian “Eucharist” is enrooted in a Jewish practice loaded with deep meaning and rich memories.
The week when Jesus was executed contained the festival of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew, Pascha in Aramaic). The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke record that Yeshua ate the Passover meal with his disciples in an upper room on the night that he was arrested (cf. Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7, 8, 15), which was Thursday night (confirmed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23).
Abraham is one of the towering figures of the New Testament. Indeed, the report of the history of Jesus, in the Gospels, starts with him: Record “of the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah, son of David, son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac was the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah was the father of Perez . . .” (Matthew 1:1-3).
The Torah is a story of families—the families of Adam, of Noah, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and it is continued on in the stories of David and his descendants. It is for a reason that the Bible contains so many genealogies.
In the recent Christian and Jewish interchanges, a controversial issue has emerged that ignited a passionate discussion between representatives of both sides: Are the roots of the Holocaust to be found in the New Testament? Are the New Testament’s teachings and writings the very source that gave birth to Christian anti-Semitism, causing the uncountable atrocities perpetrated by the Christian Church, Christian countries, or Christian fellows against the Jews?
In most of the world’s religions, the concept of life with God translates itself mainly into being withdrawn from the ordinary world. Such a concept normally implies abandoning the things that characterize common life (like work, marriage and love, the pursuit of happiness, the acquisition of goods, etc.), and focusing on the inward religious life. As a result, monastic and ascetic life are usually understood to be the real, or at least the highest, experience of a life with God.
In the strictest sense, archaeology can’t really say anything directly about the phenomenon of Creation— that is more properly the task of the theological or biblical scholar—perhaps the biologist, palaeontologist, geologist, and physicist can contribute something from the scientific side. Archaeologists deal only with the residue of human activity of the past.
Christians and Jews conclude all their prayers with the same ancient Hebrew word: Amen. Perhaps no other word so succinctly underlines the continuity between the two faiths, coming at the point of the very heart of religious devotion: prayer. None other of their religious practices so clearly underlines what is the same and what is different.