[b-hebrew] What happened to Jesus' haftarah ?

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sat Aug 13 19:09:59 EDT 2005

On 13/08/2005 21:28, Yigal Levin wrote:

>An intersting item off Agade:
>Yigal Levin
Interesting indeed, thank you. But see a few points below:


>The earliest source we have on that custom is the New Testa! ment.
>According to the narrative in Luke (4:16-21), Jesus returns to h is
>hometown, Nazareth and, on the Sabbath, he goes to the synagogue
>where he reads from the Torah. He is then given the Book of Isaiah. ...

Actually there is no mention of Jesus reading from the Torah, but only 
from Isaiah. He may have read from the Torah first, or maybe someone 
else did, but we should be careful not to read back into this time 
assumptions based on later practice, or from practice in Asia Minor..

>... Similar evidence can be found in Acts (13:15) where the narrative
>refers to a Jewish community in Asia Minor (in the vicinity of
>Antalya in Turkey).

At that place no specific passages are mentioned or quoted, only that 
there were readings from the Law (Torah) and the Prophets, followed by a 
"word of exhortation" for which Paul was invited to speak. Also, Antioch 
of Pisidia is not all that near to Antalya (ancient Attalia, 14:25), but 
is some 100 km inland to the north.

>As we can learn from the lists in the Geniza, th! ere were some
>communities where chapter 61 was indeed read as a haftarah,
>although it should be recalled that the Jews of the Geniza period
>lived in Egypt, which was under Muslim rule. They were not very
>familiar with or troubled by Christians' faith and customs, ...

Before the Muslim conquest most of the population of Egypt was 
Christian. And ever since there has remained a significant proportion of 
Christians, still around 10% to this day. So, while under Muslim rule 
the Christians were not a threat to the Jewish community, there would 
surely have been continuing familiarity with Christian faith and customs.

>... Thus, all of the customs related to the
>haftarah readings omit the passage in Isaiah whose focus is the
>well-known verse, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son"
>(7:14), because it is the foundation of the Christian belief in the
>concept of the Virgin Mary and the virgin birth of Jesus. The term
>"virgin" is translated as such in the Septaguint and that is how
>Christians explicate the verse to this very day.

Some Christians understand Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy of the Virgin Birth 
of Jesus, but many do not, preferring to understand this verse, 
according to normal methods of interpretation, as referring to a young 
woman who gave birth in the normal way in Isaiah's time. Even those who 
do see this as a prophecy would hardly accept that this is the 
foundation of this Christian belief. It is not believing Christians but 
sceptics who would attribute this belief to an interpretation of Isaiah 
7:14. For believers, the foundation of the belief is that a virgin birth 
actually happened; the fulfilment of prophecy confirms the significance 
of the birth but does not affect the facts.

In view of the long list of excluded passages here, I wonder, are there 
any passages which are both quoted in the New Testament and included in 
the Haftarah?

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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