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Jewish and Christian scholars collaborating in the land
and language of Jesus; bringing historical, linguistic
and critical expertise to bear on the Synoptic Gospels.

For the forty-five-year history of the Jerusalem School, communicating the "Methodology of the Jerusalem School" has never officially taken place. The individual members have stated their view of the methodology in print, outsiders have expounded on aspects of how they perceived the JS methodology, but it has never been officially stated.

As time permits, we will begin to disclose the various elements and nuances of this methodology. This is not to say that it is some hidden secret, but the complexity of describing the methodology is much more difficult than utilizing the methodology. Putting forth our assumptions is the first step in the direction of presenting the JS's methodology.

Three Assumptions of the Jerusalem School

As they approach the accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke, members of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research make three basic assumptions, namely, the importance of the Hebrew language, the relevance of Jewish culture, and the need to rethink current approaches to the Synoptic Gospels.

1. HEBREW LANGUAGE: Hebrew was a living language in first-century Israel.
Second Temple-period Israel was a multilingual environment (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek). Hebrew was typically chosen to record works of Jewish religious significance, as evidenced by postbiblical writings such as Ben Sira, 1 Maccabees (according to consensus), the Judean Desert texts and tannaic Hebrew texts.  Jewish teachers of that period, both Galilean and Judean, ordinarily passed on their teachings in Hebrew.

2. JEWISH CULTURE: The Synoptic Gospels must be interpreted within the context of first-century Judaism; and they, in turn, contribute to our understanding of first-century Judaism.
Although the Synoptic Gospels were composed prior to the compilation of rabbinic literature, rabbinic sources can be drawn upon to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the gospels. Similarly, the gospels contribute to a deeper understanding of early Jewish belief and practice.

3. SYNOPTIC GOSPELS: Tracing the linguistic and cultural data within the Synoptic Gospels leads to insights into their literary relationships
The Synoptic Gospels provide linguistic, literary, social, geographical and cultural clues to their internal structure and development. The evangelists composed their works in Greek, yet Semitic idioms are readily evident in all three. The gospels' Greek and Semitic linguistic elements and Jewish cultural items must be identified, carefully traced through the three gospels, and then incorporated into a theory of synoptic relationships. These relationships become an important framework for reading the individual gospels.

Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research - info@jerusalemschool.org