Derek Leman teaching

Day 3, Historical Jesus in New Orleans

Derek Leman teaching

I’m flying home today, just in time for Passover. It has been a fantastic weekend with a wonderful group of people at Louisiana Bible College. They are a small school associated with The Gathering, a community I can describe as “quite different” (in a good way). They offer a wide variety of services to the community and have meetings on Saturday nights.

The great thing about Louisiana Bible College is the format for classes. Three day intensive weekends. Small, interactive classes. They have them every two months. And Arabi, Lousiana, is about half an hour from the New Orleans airport. You might especially be interested if you live in Louisiana (of course), but also Houston, Gulfport, Mobile, Pensacola or anywhere on the Golf Coast.

You can find more information at

Student Projects on the Historical Jesus

Day 1 was about theory and Day 2 we spent covering information about the eyewitnesses whose stories were the basis of the Gospels. Day 3 was time for students to choose their topics for the final project and for us as a class to discuss the specific questions we might investigate surrounding general topics about the Historical Jesus.

For example, Bill wanted to do something related to geography and how it informs our understanding of Jesus historically. We settled on “Some Facts About Roman Rule in Judea During the Career of Jesus.”

Ruston wanted to do something about a teaching and he mentioned always being puzzled by the fig tree cursing story in Mark 11. He said, “But maybe that topic is too hard because the cursing story gets interrupted by another story and I can’t figure out what it means.” We talked about the Markan sandwich technique and now he is writing, “The Temple Demonstration Story Sandwiched Inside the Fig Tree Cursing Incident: Relationship and Meaning.”

Linda was doubtful about my theory that he “Beloved Disciple” in the Gospel of John is someone known to us from Papias as “the elder John.” In other words, I agree with Richard Bauckham that the Beloved Disciple is someone other than the “Apostle John” (John the son of Zebedee). So she is investigating, “Who Is the Beloved Disciple?”

Michael is intrigued by the story of the woman caught in adultery. What were the legal and political dynamics? Were the religious leaders trying to trap Jesus between Roman law and Torah law? Why did Jesus act to save the woman and rebuke the religious leaders. He narrowed it down to investigating the legal issues (but I can’t remember his specific question).

Walt is interested in the idea of Jesus’ divinity. We spent a long time as a class working to help him narrow the topic down. I wish I had a better memory and could tell you where we wound up.

But I do remember Briar’s topic. He is fascinated by the Son of Man and Son of God titles. He plans to investigate the use of the terms in the different Gospels and find some conclusions about how they are used.

Finally, Henry is fascinated by the conditional forgiveness language in Jesus’ prayers and some other sayings. He plans to compare and contrast conditionality in statements like “forgive us our sins as we forgive” and similar statements. He wants to find some tension lines in unconditionality vs conditionality.

Publishing Their Historical Jesus Articles

I have an inactive, but still pretty darned informative, website located at The students may choose to have their articles posted there in the relevant category after they finish.

On my Yeshua In Context website I have about a hundred categories of information about Jesus and the Gospels, things like: Abraham, Afterlife, Background to the Gospels, Birth of Messiah, Disciples and Named Characters, Geography, Gentiles, Greco-Roman Background, Forgiveness of Sins, I Am Statements, and plenty more.

We will see how many of the students are brave enough to have their articles published.

All I can say is that this was a most rewarding experience for me. I made some good friends down here in Louisiana and I looked forward to returning late this year or early next year for “Exodus to Exile: History of Israel.”

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Want to study Hebrew or the Hebrew Bible in English? I teach online students from all over the U.S. and other countries. Half-hour sessions on Skype. Email me for more info. Derek at


  1. If you haven’t already done so, I recommend that you warn “Briar” that the terms/titles “son-of-man” and “son-of-G-d” cannot be explored solely in the apostolic writings. Their definitions are determined outside that framework, and prior to it, and only subsequently employed within it.

    I expect Michael will need to research even farther afield, to determine Roman law regarding adultery, as well as relevant Halakhah (particularly in Mishna and Tosefta). I’m not sure the gospel accounts contain enough data to identify the woman’s social category by which to identify applicable Roman law; and the identity of her paramour is also lacking. Thus the case could never properly be adjudicated in any court, and it is almost certain that Rav Yeshua knew it. He would have known, for example, the Torah’s requirement to bring both guilty parties to judgment together — hence he knew already that those who brought the woman to him were already guilty themselves of setting illegal conditions to request a judgment from him. That’s one reason why none of them could ever have cast the first stone against her.

    Nonetheless, these are all good questions to research, particularly if directed to sufficient suitable source material.

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