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He describes how he dines with the members of Antipas' court, "thus maintaining the table-fellowship connection of Mark and Daniel," (Freyne 98). Therefore, the account of government practices which can be validated by other reliable sources show the New Testament as presenting clear and reliable sources for the historical validity of the figure of Jesus. Thus, modern researchers have found great truths and reliable correlations between the figure of Jesus and the occurrences of government within the ancient world.
The Biblical cannon also present more specified elements of correlation, such as Jesus' relationship with John the Baptist. John was a reliable historical figure, whose existence has long been assumed as historically accurate and backed up with sources verifying his locations and actions during and before the time of Jesus. In fact, the beginning of Jesus' ministry was heavily defined by his relationship with John the Baptist. Very little was recorded about Jesus and his life in the New Testament before his baptism. Thus, his life as a young man and child is incredibly hard to pinpoint based on such a lack of verifying information of that period in his life. This is primarily based on his figure lacking a reputation beyond that of his immediate surroundings. When Jesus aligned himself with the controversial, yet known, figure of John the Baptist, his reputation was allowed to grow beyond his small existence in rural Galilee. Many scholars have come to believe that the cannon literature of the Bible represents a short time span, at around three years or so of his life. John had himself gained a reputation for his distinguishing actions before he had ever even encountered Jesus. His actions as a baptizer is what makes his figure in history so definitive; "That John performed a water rite identified as a 'baptism' is one of the most sure pieces of historical information we possess concerning John," (Webb 187). In his role as a baptizer is how his image was allowed to transcend the thousands of years which separated modern research from the actuality of Jesus' life as he must have lived it. John performed the rites on others, yet in traditional Jewish rites baptisms were self-performed. Thus, "John's participation in the act of baptizing, therefore, is probably John's innovation and may have contributed to his nickname, 'the baptizer,'" (Webb 189). John's image itself is very entrenched in the conventions of the time in which he lived. This then allows scholars and researchers alike to assign a level of reliability to his reputation within the Biblical literature. According to research, "John's use of baptism to cleanse from moral contagion is consistent with this expanded use of immersions in the Second Temple period," (Webb 193). Jewish tradition of the Second Temple period correlates his actions with popular Jewish traditions of using water to absolve and cleanse individuals of unwanted trouble and sin. Yet, his reputation as the baptizer is not the only thing that correlates him to the history of the period and provides reliable evidence of his existence within the era. John, himself, was arrested and executed by Antipas, which places him in the proper time frame to provide evidence of a historical Jesus (Webb 209). Antipas' reach could not extend to capture John while he was in the wilderness near the Jordon River, which is where most Biblical references place him during the time before Jesus. His relationship with Jesus brought him to work in Galilee, which then would have given Antipas the opportunity to seize him (Webb 213). Thus, John must have been in Galilee during the time Jesus is said to have been, proving there must have been a relationship to have kept him there despite such danger. Thus, with the realization of John as a real historical figure, modern scholarly inquiry must also give weight to his the reality of his teachings and actions. John prophesized the coming of Jesus, "I baptize you with water…he will baptize you with Holy Spirit and fire," (Mark 1:8). Thus, there is a clear relationship between him and Jesus, one which is backed up by his own very existence and role within ancient Biblical history.
The documentation and reputation of the exorcisms and miracles performed by Jesus also give him historical credit as having existed within the time period allotted by the Biblical texts. His miracles are well documented throughout the cannon literature. Yet, it is a mix of his Biblical reputation with external sources of his miracles that provides a reliable historical context for his existence and preaching. According to research, "Mark also intimates that Jesus, despite his healing powers, was not welcome to the people of Gerasa, who on hearing of his successful exorcism of the legion of demons asked him to depart their territory (Mark 5:17)," (Freyne 84). Thus, the recognition of Jesus' miracles by other historically known people and groups provides reliable evidence of at least the existence of his reputation as a healer and miracle worker. Thus, much of modern research has given some credit to Jesus' role as a miracle worker; "Throughout the twentieth century scholars have almost unanimously maintained that Jesus cured the sick ad exorcised demons," (Blackburn 354). Although understood in a modern context, ancient evidence would be needed to show a more historically accurate picture of Jesus within the context of this role. This is evident, in the portrayal of his image as a healer both in Christian tradition and gentile a well; "Jesus was acknowledge as an exorcist by both detractors and supporters," (Blackburn 355). This then provides more reliable evidence of not only his existence, but also of his reputation as a healer and miracle worker. Both Roman and Jewish sources of various authorships claim Jesus as so. The reliability of Roman sources help provide a clearer glimpse of this reputation, "That Jesus performed magical deeds was accepted by the second-century pagan Celsus," (Blackburn 361). There is a possibility that his reputation initially spread as a healer and exerciser through ancient historical reports.
The sayings of Jesus, including the sayings about the Kingdom of God and the parables, also tie him to the historical context in which he is said to have existed. Jesus used parables as analogies, to help the people of the time understand more abstract notions of spirituality and God. Thus, he weaved these more complex notions into more practical realities that the people of the era would have known well. He did so in order to help break down these immensely complex and new ideas about religion into smaller and more understandable lessons that would better resonate within the minds and hearts of the people of ancient Judah and Palestine. They are simple and practical examples of how to implore the complex spiritual ideologies within the context of everyday existence.
Thus, the parables could then be understood by modern scholars as clues into the life of the ancient Biblical period, as well as for their spiritual context. Each one has a practical root in the every day lives of the ancient people as they lived them. First, the parable of talents provides a clear picture of how Jesus used traditional conceptions of historical life at the time to provide larger concepts of more abstract terms. The parable of talents appears both in Matthew and Luke, showing the relevance of its teachings within the time frame. It tells the tale of the traveling master who entrusts his servants with various amounts of money. While the master was away, the true nature of his servants was tested. It was a common practice for the head of the household to leave for extended periods of time, for traveling was slow at the period. It also serves as an allegory for the idea that God is not always there to show us His presence in our daily lives. The master gave his servants money to hold while he was gone traveling; "To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey," (Matthew 25:15). The most responsible got the largest sum, an element of the story which any generation can understand. The time period used the currency talents, a common used currency, and large amount at the period. The story then moves to tell what the servants did with the money after he had left; "he one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more. In the same way, the one who had two gained two more," (Matthew 25:16-17). The two servants who actually put their master's money to work were then rewarded with greater responsibilities and more trust. The same goes for the knowledge of the Lord's teachings. Jesus was trying to show that Christian ideology needs to passed on to others and have good work committed with the knowledge of the…[continue]
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