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The Jewish Religious Background to the New Testament

Julian Spriggs, M.A.

I. Jewish Religious Groups

During the first century, Judaism was not a united religion, but was miserably divided between different groups. Each believed they were right and despised anyone who held a different view. The Pharisees and Sadducees held opposite opinions and hated each other. The Essenes looked down on both of them. Within the Pharisees, the schools of Hillel and Shamai contradicted each other on almost everything. Both groups were united in their contempt of the uneducated country people (or 'sinners'), who were unable or unwilling to be involved in keeping the law. Also the people of Judea considered themselves as the purest Jews, and looked down upon what they saw as the provincial Galileans. However all Jews intensely hated foreigners, including the Samaritans, especially the occupying Roman soldiers and tax-collectors.


The Pharisees probably had their origins in the 'Hasidim', or holy men, from the third century BC before the Maccabean wars, when the Greeks dominated and there were efforts to Hellenise the Jews. Alexander the Great conquered the whole known world in eleven years and imposed Greek culture on the lands he conquered. Many of the Jews were pressured to and accepted Greek culture and its associated pagan religious customs and idol worship. The Pharisees rose as a reaction and protest against this religious compromise by the Jews. Their aim was to maintain their national integrity and strict obedience to the Mosaic law and to resist the Greek culture. They were supporters of the Maccabean and Hasmonaean rulers. The original hasidim party split into two parts, the majority became known as the Pharisees, the minority withdrew from public life and became the Essenes.

They had great influence and public support under John Hyrcanus (134-104 BC), but he later turned to the Sadducees. They suffered under the rule of the Herods, and supported Roman rule, opposing the Jewish revolt of AD 66-70. After the fall of Jerusalem, the Pharisees were the only group able to maintain and restore the Jewish national and religious identity. By AD 200, the Pharisees became the leaders of the Jews and the focus of Judaism.

During the time of the Herods, there were about six thousand Pharisees, the most numerous and influential of the religious sects. They were mostly middle class tradesmen with no formal education, so were more in touch with the ordinary people. They gained their understanding of the law from the scribes. They had a passion to keep Israel spiritually and ethically clean by observation of the law. This derived from their belief that the Babylonian exile had been caused by Israel's failure to keep the Torah. To avoid breaking the law, they kept themselves as far as possible apart from other men. They could not eat with a non-Pharisee in case the food had not been tithed.

They established communities around the country, each community was led by a scribe. They met on the day before the Sabbath for their own meetings and worship. It was most difficult to become a Pharisee, it involved a period of probation, an agreement to observe all the details of the law and the oral traditions. Other Pharisees would check that the novice was being obedient.

There were two distinct and rival rabbinical schools, who differed in their interpretation of certain parts of the law. The first was the School of Shammai, which was stricter, more legalistic, and originally from an aristocratic family. The second was the School of Hillel which was more liberal, coming from a more humble background.

They believed in the law of Moses, but to avoid breaking it, had added many oral traditions. They saw that both of these were important. They believed that every jot and tittle of the law was inspired and given by God. Their oral laws extended and interpreted the Mosaic law to cover the whole of life. They 'made a hedge about the Torah' to prevent them breaking the law by accident. Unfortunately, in their eagerness to be obedient to the law, they missed the spirit of the law (Mt 23:23-24).

They were the ultimate legalists, standing for rigid observance of every letter in the law and the Jewish Traditions, especially issues of ritual purity, food laws, tithing and the Sabbath. Their rules and regulations concerning the Sabbath were contained in twenty-four chapters of the Jewish Mishnah. It was their many detailed extra requirements of the Law were so opposed by Jesus. They were known for their covetousness, self-righteousness and hypocrisy. Jesus denounced them for this most severely in Mt 23. He was opposed by the Pharisees throughout his ministry and spoke many parables against them. Paul was brought up as a Pharisee, before his conversion (Phil 3:5), in the school of Hillel, under Gamaliel.

Their basic teaching was separation from the Gentiles and everything non-Jewish. Other beliefs included:
  1. Immortality of the soul, resurrection of the body
  2. A future judgement of rewards for the righteous and punishment for the wicked.
  3. The existence of angels and spirits.
  4. A future physical restoration of Israel by God, to a place of power and prestige.
  5. Merit with God was earned by scrupulous obedience to all details of the law.
  6. They were more fatalistic before an all-powerful God, who overruled the actions of men to achieve his own purpose


They probably started around the same time as the Pharisees, perhaps named after Zadok - the pure priestly line from the time of Solomon. Being more secularly minded, they adopted the Greek customs. They took no part in the Maccabean wars. They were a priestly clique, most priests were Sadducees, especially the powerful priestly families, but not all Sadducees were priests. They were irreligious, rude and disagreeable, having no following from among the people.

Though they were few in number, they were very wealthy and influential, having great power. They were the aristocracy of the Jews, their head being the High Priest. They had control over the Sanhedrin, in spite of their rationalistic and worldly mind-set. When Judah was conquered by the Romans, the Sadducees co-operated with the Romans, in order to preserve their wealth and privileged position. They disappeared after the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

The Pharisees were the principle opponents of the Sadducees, their main point of disagreement being over the resurrection of the body, the day of judgement and the life to come, which the Sadducees denied, a point which Paul takes to his advantage at his trial in Acts 23:6-10. This belief also inspired the question Jesus was asked by a Sadducee about the wife who had been married to seven brothers (Mk 12:18).

They also rejected the oral law, which was respected so much by the Pharisees. The accepted only the five books of Moses as inspired scripture.

They are not mentioned so often in the NT, but were also denounced by Jesus. Jesus aroused the wrath of the Sadducees by clearing the temple and by raising Lazarus from the dead. They are mentioned more in Acts, than in the gospels - the declaration of the resurrection by the apostles completely went contrary to their beliefs, so was vigorously opposed.

They disagreed with much of the teaching of the Pharisees, being far more conservative and materialistic in their outlook. They denied the following:

  1. Bodily resurrection from the dead
  2. Future punishment and rewards on day of judgement
  3. Existence of angels and spirits.
  4. Authority of any writings other than the five books of Moses
  5. They said there was no fate, prosperity came from one's own choice and actions - an emphasis on free-will.


Scribes were the recognised experts in the study of the law of Moses (Torah) - this is why they were called lawyers. They had an un-distracted commitment to copy, study and interpret the law. This was originally done by the priests. Ezra was a priest and scribe (Neh 8:9). The scribes rose to prominence after the Babylonian exile. Most were very wealthy, and as they were not paid, supported themselves with their private means. Most Scribes were Pharisees, but were distinct from them. They clashed with the Sadducees concerning the resurrection (Acts 23).

The scribes initiated the synagogue service. Some were members of the Sanhedrin (Mt 16:21). Scribes became more important after AD 70. They preserved written records of the oral law and the Hebrew scriptures (our OT). They were the people who copied scripture - for this we owe them a great debt. The Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) describes the ideal scribe (Sir 39:1-11).

They had three major functions:

  1. To Preserve and to defend the law. To pass on the unwritten legal decisions (oral traditions). The decisions of leading scribes became the 'oral law', or 'tradition'.
  2. To teach others. They had disciples, who were expected to memorise the law word for word. They held lectures in the synagogue and temple.
  3. They were entrusted with the law by the Sanhedrin.

II. Jewish Government

The Sanhedrin

The government and highest tribunal of the Jewish people, the Jewish supreme court. It consisted of seventy members, from Numbers chapter 11, when Moses chose seventy people to work with him in government. It probably started in the 3rd century BC. Its members included priests, Sadducees, Pharisees, scribes and elders (heads of tribes or privileged families) and was presided over by the high priest. It had great power in Jesus' day, having all internal government control, but answerable to the Romans. Even Jews in the Dispersion respected the Sanhedrin. It decided cases of civil and criminal justice. It could order arrest, but the Romans did not allow it to pass the death sentence , therefore Jesus had to be taken before Pilate, the Roman procurator, before he could be crucified. The one exception was if a Gentile crossed the division in the temple. On the whole, there was a good system of justice with a bias towards innocence, although all the rules were broken for Jesus' trial. The Sanhedrin was abolished after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

The chief priest or high priest

These are two names for the same person, who was the president of the Sanhedrin. In the OT, there was one high priest, a descendent of Aaron, who stayed in office until he died. In NT times, the high priest was a political figure, appointed by Herod, who could replace him at will.

The Herodians

As their name suggests, they were the party which supported the family of the tyrant Herod the Great. The Herodians (supporters of Herod Antipas) plotted, together with the Pharisees, to kill Jesus, even though normally these two groups would have been opposed to each other (Mk 3:6, 12:13-17).


From the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe. They took care of the practical running of the temple, including being the temple guards and music. They were the lowest line of priestly hierarchy.

III. Aspects of the Jewish Religion

The Temple

After the return from the exile in Babylon, a simple temple was built by Zerubbabel, with encouragements from Haggai and Zechariah the prophets. This was replaced by a magnificent structure built by command of Herod the Great. Building had started in 19 BC and was still in progress during the time of the ministry of Jesus (Jn 2:20). It was only completed in AD 64, six years before it was destroyed by the Romans. Herod's temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world, built with huge stones (Mk 13:1), with gold and marble.

The temple was the only place where sacrifices were allowed to take place. Herod's temple was overlooked by the Roman garrison in the fortress of Antonia, so the soldiers could keep watch over it. The Court of the Gentiles had degenerated into a market for sacrificial animals and money changers (Jn 2:13). In the porticos, any teacher could set up and gather men to listen to him. The Christians initially continued to meet in Solomon's Portico (Acts 5:12).

There is a detailed guide to Herod's Temple available on this website consisting of photographs of the model temple in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The Synagogue

There was only one temple, in Jerusalem, but each community which had at least ten adult male Jews had its own synagogue. It was the local centre for worship and study of the law, but no sacrificial ritual took place there. The Jewish community met on the Sabbath day to listen to the reading and exposition of the law and prophets (Lk 4:16) and for set prayers. The synagogue was also the local school, community centre and centre of local government, with the elders acting as the local magistrates. Any adult male Jew, especially any visitor, could be asked to bring a word following the reading of the Scriptures, as Paul was (Acts 13:15).

The ruler of the synagogue

This person took care of the physical arrangements of the synagogue service. He was the head of the council of ten Jewish men from the neighbourhood, who was in control of the synagogue. He took no part in the teaching.

The Dispersion

The name for the Jewish people who did not live in Judah. These were descendants of the Jews who had not returned with Ezra after the exile. They chose to stay in the lands of the Captivity, probably for economic reasons. There were more Jews in the Dispersion than in the land of Israel. All the provinces and major cities of the Roman empire had large Jewish populations. There were probably one million Jews in Egypt alone, and were especially numerous in Alexandria. They visited Jerusalem for the major feasts. Jews from all over the known world were in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). They were sometimes referred to as Hellenistic Jews. The dispersed Jews were less conservative than the Jews in Israel and had adapted to the Greek way of life after the conquests by Alexander the Great. Many were willing to learn from Greek ideas, but maintained their distinctive Jewishness. Many later writings, like the Wisdom of Solomon and the writings of Philo, were deeply influenced by Greek philosophy. Apollos, from Alexandria (Acts 18:24) most certainly can be grouped with these people.


The Jews among the Dispersion were far more aware of their mission to the Gentiles and made great effort to win converts. For a Gentile to accept the Jewish religion, he had to take the drastic step of renouncing his own nationality and becoming a Jew and obeying all the law of Moses. He had to be circumcised and baptised, and keep all the ritual and food laws. In spite of these great demands, many people became proselytes.


Many people were attracted to the purity and monotheism of Judaism in contrast to the decadent polytheism of the Roman Empire. They were happy to identify themselves with the ideals and faith of the Jews, but were reluctant to go the whole way and become Jews. Many of these God-Fearers responded to the gospel and joined the church, including Cornelius (Acts 10:2), and many in Thessalonica (Acts 17:4).

IV. Jewish Scriptures and Writings

The Torah

The five books of Moses, the law. Often the word 'Torah' was used to refer to the whole of the scriptures (our OT).

The Targum

These are translations of portions of the Hebrew OT into Aramaic, with added oral traditions, paraphrases and interpretations, made mostly after the Babylonian exile.

The Talmud

The collection of various Jewish traditions and oral explanations of the written Torah, finally written down in the second century AD. The written Torah was studied and the number of commandments counted. These were protected with new laws, which, if kept, would guarantee the keeping of the basic commandments. This was known as 'making a hedge about the Torah'. These were then applied to every possible area and possibility of life.

It has four sections:

  1. The Mishnah

    The oral law which was in existence by the end of the second century BC, and was collected by Rabbi Judah the Prince. The Mishnah is divided into six orders or divisions (Sedarim):

    1. Seeds: Agricultural laws and associated religious duties to priests, Levites and the poor.
    2. Feasts: Religious feasts, sabbath observance and associated sacrifices.
    3. Women: Laws of marriage, divorce, adultery, levirate marriage, the Nazarite vow.
    4. Fines: Civil, commercial and legal procedures, ethical maxims by Rabbis.
    5. Sacred things: Sacrifices, first-born, clean/unclean animals, description of Herod's temple.
    6. Purifications: Levitical cleanness and uncleanness, purifications.

  2. Gemara

    Commentary on the Mishnah made by Rabbis from AD 200 to 500.

  3. Halakhah

    Legal enactments and precepts, including the discussions which led to the conclusions

  4. Haggadah

    Non legal interpretations

  5. The Midrash (Midrashim)

    These are older commentaries on certain parts of the scriptures (The Pentateuch, five rolls, Lamentations, Psalms and Proverbs), used for exposition of the scriptures for more devotional teaching or preaching. They probably pre-date the Talmud.

V. Other Religious Groups

The Essenes

This group is normally associated with the Qumran Community and the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947, which formed part of their library. Essenes were a monastic sect living in an isolated communities in the desert, the Qumran Community being one near the Dead Sea. Mystery still surrounds this group, it is not certain whether the Qumran Community were Essenes or not. The Essenes were formed by someone known as 'The Teacher of Righteousness' in 165 BC, and were destroyed by the Jewish revolt in AD 68.

They considered themselves as the only true people of God, all others, including the Jewish leaders were their enemies, seeing the high priests as illegitimate. They were 'The Sons of Light' and eagerly awaited their final victory against 'The Sons of Darkness'. In contrast to the Pharisees, they had no hope of changing the political situation themselves, but dreamed of a mighty intervention of God to deliver them from Roman oppression.

In their monastic communities they studied the scriptures and wrote commentaries applying the OT passages to their own situation and expectations. These gave an ascetic apocalyptic strain to Judaism, very different from the establishment in Jerusalem. They expected two Messiahs, one priestly of Aaron, and one royal of Israel.

The Zealots

The Zealots were revolutionaries and freedom-fighters who attempted to throw off Roman government by force. They believed that to be subject to Rome was and act of treason to their true King, God. One of their great heros were Judas Maccabeus, who led the revolt which freed Judea from Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BC. Another was Phineas, grandson of Aaron, who, when the Israelites had yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, killed an Israelite who was sleeping with a Midianite woman (Num 25:1-18).

It was the Zealots, who finally sparked off the great rebellion, which led to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. There had been attempted revolts by Zealots before the time of Jesus (Acts 5:36). One of the twelve apostles was a former Zealot (Lk 6:15). A well known Zealot was Judas the Galilean (Acts 5:37), who rebelled during the census for taxation in AD 6. He had a passion to overthrow the Romans.

The Samaritans

The Samaritans were the descendants of the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom who remained in the land after the fall of Samaria and intermarried with the population imported from Assyria (2 Kg 17). They were despised and hated by the Jews because they had intermarried with foreigners and were seen as a heretical sect.

They built a temple on Mount Gerizim, near Shechem (Jn 4:20), but this was destroyed by Hyrcanus in 128 BC. Their religion was very similar to the Jewish religion. They only used the five books of Moses as their scriptures and awaited a prophet like Moses. A small community of Samaritans still survives today.

Recommended Reading:

F.F. Bruce. New Testament History. Pickering, Basingstoke 1969.
A. Edersheim. Sketches of Jewish Social Life. Hendrickson, Peabody 1994.
A. Edersheim. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Hendrickson 1994.
All books by Alfred Edersheim are in public domain on-line on:

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John


Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
OT People Search
God the Creator
The Importance of Paradox
The Jewish Calendar
Holy War in the Ancient World
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
Ephah Converter (volumes)
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
What is a created kind?
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
God the Creator
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?
Paul and the Greek Games

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical archaeology in museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also pages of photographs of important artifacts from the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
British Museum Photos
Israel Museum Photos
Paris Louvre Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS