I figured I would share with you a few more things I've learned lately. I'm hoping I'm correct on all of these, however I'm finding in my search that a lot of different writings that I read sometimes contradict one another, so I'm not always sure about the validity of what I'm reading. But I'm still digging in and will share what I learn. I am praying for the Lord to lead me in my search so I'm trusting He'll lead me to the Truth.
At the time of Jesus' birth, the Jews in Galilee, Judea and Syria spoke Aramaic, not Hebrew. Aramaic is a Semitic tongue and at one time was as widespread in the Middle East as Arabic is now. Although it is one of the oldest continuously spoken languages in the world, it is today almost extinct. There is a project currently underway that began in 1985 to produce a Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon.
This information I discovered thanks to a book I've started reading called Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton. I'm not sure how much I'll rely on this book. I'm only on the first chapter and can see already some of what the man writes may not align with my beliefs (it is kind of hard to tell yet though).
However, I'm going to continue to read with lots of prayer. I don't believe challenging my beliefs is a bad thing, because I know I probably don't have it 100% correct. However, I obviously want to be careful of what I read and make sure I'm asking the Lord for his guidance. I'll keep you posted on what I find with this book.
He wrote another called Rabbi Paul that I think will be interesting as well. The basis of his books are to help others understand the Jewishness of Jesus and Paul based on his studies. He is wanting to give an accurate historical portrayal of their lives and how things would have been done at that time. Since that is what I'm interested in learning about right now, his books are perfect for me.
Something else interesting mentioned in this book is the fact that those living in the small rural (and poor) villages such as Bethlehem usually could not read. I never really thought about this before, but it does make sense. Much of what they knew about God's Word was not from the written Word, but from their oral targum (Aramaic for translation). The villages would have a meturgeman who was responsible for memorizing and reciting oral Scripture.
He also speaks of the fact that many believe Joseph was a widower and some of Jesus' brothers mentioned in the Bible are actually his older brothers, from Joseph's first wife. James is one the author mentions as being Jesus' older brother born of Joseph's first wife.
Needless to say, this book brings up some interesting points. The first chapter has some very good stuff about the circumcision ritual at Jesus' time that I'll share later as I get my head around it a bit more. So far I would not recommend this book for someone who does not consider themselves strong in their faith. The first chapter deals a bit with the virgin birth and different theories around it. It could cause alot of confusion for someone who is not grounded in their faith and trust of the Lord to lead them. As I mentioned before, I think challenging what we believe is good, but we want to be careful to not move faster than the Lord wants us to or down a path that He is not leading us. I personally know what it is like to have too much thrown at you at once and the confusion that results. My faith has become stronger for it, however it was a tough road at times (and still is sometimes).