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May 15 , 2010

Mishnah and the Words of Jesus


In "Mishnah and the Words of Jesus", Dr. Roy B. Blizzard presents comparisons between the words of Jesus and the words of rabbis prior to, contemporary with, and following Jesus, recorded for us in the "Mishnah", "Order Nezikin", Tractate "Avot", or the "Chapters of the Fathers" ("Pirkei Avot").

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Probably anyone who has ever focused on the teachings of Jesus in any depth is aware that he was a product of the religious milieu that emerged in the 1st century of this present era. The four gospels preserve for us the largest and the best corpus of material relating to the ideas and methods of teaching of the rabbis of that period. As we compare the words of Jesus with the other rabbis of his day, we can begin to understand where some of the ideas originated, the way they were thinking, and the themes upon which they were teaching.

In the teachings of Jesus, there is one underlying and overriding theme, a theme on which Jesus consistently dwells, a theme that serves as the foundation upon which biblical faith is built. That foundational theme is summed up in the Hebrew word "tzedakah", the word frequently translated into English as righteousness. "Tzedakah" is the outstanding, overriding, and yet simple, theme of Jesus.

Biblical faith is not so much man always directing his attention upward toward God but, rather, through acts of "tzedakah", reaching out to others, meeting them at the point of their need and assisting in making them whole. Principles of biblical faith are not directed upward. It is not something one does for God. It is directed outward toward one's fellow man, but in so doing, at one and the same time, one performs the will of the Father.

Throughout "Mishnah and the Words of Jesus", Dr. Blizzard points out how the Sages echo one another and how it all harmonizes completely with the words of Jesus. (Length: 15,500 words).

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