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

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sun Aug 14 04:28:25 EDT 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>
> >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..

While it is true, Peter, that the passage does not specifically mention
reading from the Torah, anyone familiar with the synagogue service (as the
author of Luke-Acts was) would make the same assumption. And while you are
correct in saying that one should be careful in "reading back" later
practices, one can also assume that later practices began somewhere. It is
perfectly reasonble to assume that later (3rd century) practices developed
out of 1st century practices. Remember, the article is not about "the
historical Jesus", but about the development of the Jewish custom of reading
(and not reading) certain passages for the haftarah.

> >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.

Probably so. But, as you wrote, they would not have felt threatened by them.

> >... 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.

No doubt. As I wrote Dora, I don't agree with everything that the article

> 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?
Good question. Maybe I'll check some time.


More information about the b-hebrew mailing list