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Yeshua is the story of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ based on the four biographical accounts believed to have been written around A.D. 50 to 100 by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The text is presented like a typical story and the traditional chapter and verse numbers have been removed. The material is arranged in paragraphs and reorganised into sixteen chapters. However, the text itself has not been paraphrased or editorialised, and is retained in the original form as it is found in the ancient manuscripts. Matthew, an ex-tax collector, and John, a former fisherman, were two of the closest followers of Jesus. Mark and Luke were companions of Peter and Paul, two other close followers of Jesus (although Paul himself was not a follower during the lifetime of Jesus).

These four separate accounts, written by four different people at different times independently of one another, are traditionally referred to as the “gospels” or the Euangelion. They provide an accurate historical record written by eyewitnesses and associates of eyewitnesses. These have been combined into a single, chronological narrative with the original names of people and places in the local languages. Combining the four accounts into a single narrative of the life of Jesus is certainly nothing new — the theologian Tatian compiled his work called the Diatessaron (Greek for “through the four”) in the 2nd century A.D. Tatian’s Diatessaron was widely used as the standard text of the gospels in the early centuries and was known in regions as diverse as China, England and possibly even Iceland.

However, IT SHOULD BE CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD THAT THIS BOOK IS NOT, NOR DOES IT PURPORT TO BE, A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE FOUR SEPARATE ACCOUNTS OF THE LIFE OF JESUS THAT ARE FOUND IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. The purpose of this work is to lead the readers to the original accounts themselves and aid in their deeper study and understanding.

1. COMBINING THE ACCOUNTS
Yeshua combines the four separate accounts into a single narrative, presenting a comprehensive picture of all that Jesus did and taught. No single account provides all the details on its own. For example, only Luke’s account mentions Jesus being presented in the temple forty days after his birth, only Matthew writes about the Magi bringing gifts, only John describes the miracle of water turning into wine and only Mark mentions Pilate talking to the Centurion and confirming the death of Jesus on the cross. Some accounts describe the same events as occuring at different times, or in a different sequence of order. In such cases, the order of the events in one or more accounts have been altered to provide a unified narrative. However, NO PORTIONS FROM THE ORIGINAL ACCOUNTS HAVE BEEN LEFT OUT NOR HAS ANY NEW TEXT BEEN ADDED. While some scholars may still not agree with the desirability of such a synthesis, highly respected figures like Dr. Billy Graham have lauded such attempts as “an excellent idea” to provide “the total picture of the life of Jesus as a whole”. In any case, this book is not meant for the scholar who is looking for a point to debate on, but for the lay reader seeking to know more about the person of Jesus.

Combining the four accounts into one also necessarily means that duplicate information is excluded. The principle adopted is that if an event, or a particular teaching, is not mentioned more than once in any single account, then it is not repeated in the combined account either. And there are places where the description of certain events in two or more of the original accounts provide additional information. For example, both Mark and Luke write about Jesus healing a blind beggar in a town called Jericho. But Matthew says there were two blind men. So when these accounts are combined, the narrative mentions two beggars being present at the healing. Another interesting example is the case of Jesus healing a man with a withered hand in a synagogue. Matthew, Mark and Luke mention the incident, but only in Matthew do the Pharisees ask Jesus a question and Jesus talk about a sheep falling into a pit, only Mark mentions Jesus becoming angry and only Luke specifies it was the man's right hand that was withered. A fuller picture of the incident emerges only when these separate accounts are combined. (John does not mention this incident.)

2. CHRONOLOGY
The book provides a timeline for the events it describes. The original accounts themselves contain important historical information that helps to date these events. For example, it is mentioned that the birth of Jesus took place during the reign of King Herod of Judea and the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus, during the time Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Additionally, it is mentioned that Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea when Jesus was crucified, and that it occurred during the time Annas and Caiaphas were the Jewish high-priests, and Tiberius Caesar was Roman emperor .

These details help to determine, with a fair degree of accuracy, the time of occurrence of the events mentioned. For example, Caesar Augustus was the great Roman emperor who ruled from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14, and is known to have taken a census of Roman citizens in the years 28 B.C., 8 B.C. and A.D. 14. And most scholars agree that King Herod ruled over Judea from 37 to 4 B.C. Additionally, Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea from A.D. 26 to 36, and Tiberius Caesar was Roman Emperor from A.D. 14 to A.D. 37. Thus the birth of Jesus would have occurred, according to the writings, somewhere between 27 to 4 B.C., and his death between A.D. 26 to 36.

Apart from establishing the approximate time of the birth and death of Jesus, the book also attempts to arrange the events and teachings of the life of Jesus chronologically. A case in point is the timing of Jesus driving out the traders from the Jerusalem temple. The account written by John places the event at the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. The other three accounts, however, place the event much later, towards the end of his ministry. None of the accounts mention the event as having occurred twice (once at the beginning and then at the end of the ministry of Jesus), and scholarly opinion is divided as to whether there were one or two instances of temple cleansing. The Diatessaron places the event towards the end of the ministry of Jesus, and this book also follows the same tradition. ALL DATES MENTIONED IN YESHUA ARE APPROXIMATE AND TO BE CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD AS circa.

3. ORIGINAL NAMES
All the four original accounts were written in the Greek language, although the languages that Jesus and his disciples usually spoke in would have been Aramaic and Hebrew. While the names of people and places were transliterated into Greek, they have lost their originality. The Greek name for Jesus used in these accounts is “Iesous”, while most probably his original name in Aramaic/Hebrew would have been either “Yeshua” or “Yehoshua”. Similarly most of the names have been rendered differently than in the original. Mary is “Miryam” in the original, Matthew is “Mattay” or “Mattithyahu”, John is “Yohanan”, and so on.

The same is the case with the names of places. Jerusalem was originally “Yerushalayim”. Bethlehem was “Beyth Lehem”, Capernaum was “Kephar Nahum”, and so on. The original Hebrew/Aramaic names of people and places have been used wherever relevant. This has also been applied to the names of festivals. The poular Jewish festival called Passover was originally named “Pesach”. Yeshua the book also refers to this and other festivals by their original names. However, explanations for these names are given in the detailed notes for ecah of the chapters.

4. MAPS
Yeshua contains maps of Palestine and Jerusalem. These maps help to illustrate the different places where Jesus ministered. The map of Palestine shows places like Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Jericho and Bethany, and regions like Galilee, Samaria and Judea. It shows the important geographical features like the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, River Jordan, the Negev Desert and Mount Tabor.

The map of Jerusalem shows places like the Temple, the palace of Herod, the house of the high priest, the pool of Siloam and the pool of Bethesda, each having much importance in the life, and especially the final days, of Jesus.

The book also contains a plan of the Temple, showing important elements within it such as the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, the Court of Women and the Court of Israel. It shows the location of the veil that was torn when Jesus died. It shows the inside of the Holy Place with the Candlestick, Altar of Incense and the Table of Showbread.

5. EXPLANATORY NOTES
The book contains more than 1000 notes providing the following: archaeological, historical and cultural information; some of the important Greek terms used in the original text; different interpretations according to various Christian groups; explanations of some of the difficult sayings of Jesus; explanations for apparent Biblical contradictions; references from the Old Testament; “variants” found in different manuscripts. These nine categories are described in some detail below:

i. Archaeological Information
A tremendous amount of archaeological information has become available in the last few decades and all of this information adds to the credibility of the narratives found in the book. Archaeological discoveries such as the “Pilate Stone”, the “Seat of Moses”, the “Soreg Inscription”, the “Jesus Ossuary” etc. prove that what is written concerning these things are true indeed. In 1986, two Galilee fishermen discovered a 2000-year-old boat, dating back to the time of Jesus.

ii. Cultural Information
The Yeshua book is filled with references to the unique cultural and religious practices of the Jewish people, the community into which Jesus was born. It begins with the betrothal of Joseph and Mary: the Jewish betrothal could only be broken by a divorce. It ends with the traditional burial customs of the Jews: when the lifeless body of Jesus is wrapped with spices in a linen cloth and kept inside a tomb. The cultural background of important Jewish festivals such as the Passover is also provided for a better understanding of its significance. Some of the idioms used in the text are also explained along with the ancient weights, measures and coins.

iii. Historical Information
Ancient historians such as Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Thallus and Josephus refer to Jesus in their writings. The details of such references are provided in the notes. Since the story of Jesus also involves historical figures such as King Herod of Judea, Roman emperors Caesar Augustus and Tiberius Caesar, governors such as Quirinius and Pontius Pilate, high-priests Annas and Caiaphas, relevant historical information about these people is included. In addition, historical information such as the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in A.D. 70 by the Romans is also included.

iv. Greek Terms
About 200 Greek terms used in the original accounts are included in the Notes. Alternative translations of these terms are provided wherever relevant and helpful, and these help to explain the meaning of the terms more clearly. Some of the original Greek terms are sometimes translated differently in various translations, but the underlying terms are the same. A typical example is the Greek term monogenes, which is translated as “begotten Son” or as “the only Son” in various translations. An awareness of the original Greek terms used help in understanding the differences in the translation and to get a clearer idea of the original meaning. Another example is the term parakletos referring to the Holy Spirit and translated variously as “Advocate”, “Comforter”,“Helper” or “Counsellor” in different translations.

v. Differing Interpretations
The interpretation of some of the teachings of Jesus and the explanation of certain points differ among the Catholic, Eastern/Oriental Orthodox and Protestant branches of Christianity. This may initially confuse an outsider to Christianity looking in and may surprise an insider belonging to one of these groups. What Yeshua attempts to do in regard to these divergent interpretations is this:

A. State clearly that there are differences in interpretation concerning a particular text, passage or teaching.

B. Present these divergent views and provide a brief description of the divergent interpretations according to the different groups without going into the details. For example, the notes would say, "Catholics believe that..." or "According to Protestants..." or "The Orthodox view is that..." However, it is beyond the scope of the present work to go into the history and the details of these interpretations.

C. Leave it to the reader to examine and study the differing views in detail and arrive at an answer for himself/herself.

Special care has been taken to ensure that the notes are not coloured by denominational considerations. BUT THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT THESE DIFFERENCES ARE NOT IMPORTANT OR THAT IT DOES NOT MATTER WHICH INTERPRETATION ONE CHOOSES TO BELIEVE. It is also worth noting that despite these differences, there is almost complete agreement among the three groups when it comes to the ESSENTIALS of the life and teachings of Jesus. These essentials include the belief that Jesus was the Messiah, the only begotten Son of God, who came down from heaven and was born of a virgin, becoming truly human. That he performed many miracles and forgave sins, was crucified by Pilate, died and was buried, and rose again on the third day and then ascended to heaven. That he provides forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, salvation and eternal life to everyone who believes in him. All denominations further believe that Jesus will come again, this time in glory, to judge the living and the dead and to establish his kingdom that will have no end.

vi. Difficult Sayings
While the vast majority of the sayings of Jesus are in the most simple language and easy to understand, there are some sayings that are a little difficult to grasp. For example, Jesus once said to his disciples the following: “Wherever the dead body is, there the vultures will gather”. It is not easy, for the average reader, to understand this statement. Here, and elsewhere in the book where such difficult sayings are found, the explanations offered by various scholars are provided in the notes.

vii. Apparent Contradictions
The explanations provided in the Notes help to resolve apparent contradictions that are pointed out by critics. These are basically of two types:

A. The first type is the apparent contradiction between two accounts. For example, both Matthew and Luke provide geneaolgies of Jesus, but these differ. In another example, about Jesus healing a blind beggar in Jericho (see No. 1 above), Mark says the incident occurred as they were leaving Jericho, but Matthew says it happened as they were entering Jericho. This type of contradiction often has a simple explanation.

B. The second type is more difficult to resolve and involves a contradiction between the four accounts and information available from an external source. An oft cited example is the case where Mark refers to Abiathar being the high priest when David and his men ate the sacred bread from the temple, whereas the original account (in the Old Testament book of 1st Samuel) says Ahimelech was the high priest. Ahimelech was actually the father of Abiathar. Explanations for apparent discrepancies such as this are provided in the Notes.

viii. References from the Old Testament
Jesus, in the course of his teaching ministry, quotes profusely from the writings of the prophets of the Old Testament. The four accounts are full of quotations from and allusions to passages from the Old Testament and these are included wherever relevant to aid better understanding. For example, Jesus is described reading from the book of Isaiah in a synagogue on a sabbath at the beginning of his ministry in Nazareth. The Notes explain that the particular passage is found in Chapter 61 of the book of Isaiah.

ix. Variants
Although there are no surviving original autographs of the four accounts in existence today, there are more than 5,000 copies in Greek and more than 18,000 copies in Latin and other languages. These are handwritten copies painstakingly copied from the original documents themselves or from copies of copies. Even though careful attention is paid to the process of copying manuscripts, errors inevitably creep in, leading to what are called “variants”. These are different terms that appear in different manuscript copies. The Notes contain a number of important variant readings, but it should be noted that although there are as many as 200,000 to 400,000 variants, these are not necessarily “errors” as claimed by some. The vast majority of variants are due to missing letters or mispelt words! More importantly, no single teaching or doctrine taught by Jesus is affected by any of these variants.

x. Botanical Information
A number of trees and plants are mentioned in the four gospel accounts and the Yeshua book provides information including their botanical names and growing seasons. For example, Jesus once cursed a fig tree for not having any fruit in it. The notes explain that even before the fig season, fig trees produce some edible knobs called taqsh. And nard, which is an expensive perfume that was used to anoint Jesus, is explained as a fragrant oil made from the spikenard plant (Nardostachys jatamansi) native to the Himalayan region of South Asia.















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