For those of us who cut our teeth studying theology in the 1970s, the works of Joachim Jeremias were eye-opening, magisterial and indispensable. After the Bible, Jeremias seemed the next most authoritative source, so detailed, well-written and user-friendly was his work. Now, some 40 years later, his work still carries great weight, and his books are still well worth study. His tracking of the Aramaic landscape of Yeshua, his mining of the semitic roots of the Gospels, especially the parables, and his reconstruction of the communal life of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, still stand as unparalleled monuments to his scholarship and devotion. Read and enjoy!
Joachim Jeremias (20 September 1900 – 6 September 1979) was a German Lutheran theologian, scholar of Near Eastern Studies and university professor for New Testament studies. He was abbot of Bursfelde, 1968–1971. [Wikipedia entry]
He was born in Dresden and spent his formative years in Jerusalem, where between 1910 and 1918 his father, Friedrich Jeremias (1868–1945), worked as Provost of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. He studied Lutheran theology and Oriental languages at the universities of Tübingen and Leipzig. In Leipzig he obtained both a “Doctor philosophiae (Dr.phil.)” (1922) and a “Doctor theologiae (Dr.theol.)” (1923) degree (PhD and ThD in English), followed by his Habilitation (1925). His mentor was the renowned Gustaf Dalman.
After other teaching assignments, Jeremias was appointed in 1935 to the chair of New Testament studies at the Georg-August University of Göttingen, where he taught until his retirement in 1968. In 1976, Jeremias moved from Göttingen to Tübingen, where he died in 1979.
His research and publications covered a wide field, ranging from historical and archaeological to literary and philosophical studies. They concentrate on the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic texts relevant for a critical analysis of the New Testament in order to reconstruct the historical environment of Jesus in all its complexity, to provide a deeper understanding of his life and teachings.
His achievements found national and international acknowledgment, recognized by the admission into the Göttingen Academy of Sciences in 1948 and the award of honorary doctorates from the universities of Leipzig, St Andrews (Scotland), Uppsala (Sweden), and Oxford (Britain). He was also made a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1958 and the British Academy. Finally, in 1970 he was made an honorary fellow of the Deutsche Verein zur Erforschung Palästinas (German association for research on Palestine).
He worked with Wilhelm Schneemelcher in revisions of the Hennecke-Schneemelcher collection of New Testament Apocrypha.
Jeremias took a stand on the passages generally regarded as relating to Jesus in the Talmud which supported medieval rabbinical defences that the Yeshu the deceiver mentioned in the Talmud was a different Jesus from the Jesus of Christianity. Related to this he also supported David Flusser’s suggestion that the name Yeshu itself was in no way abusive, but ‘almost certainly’ a Galilean dialect form of Yeshua. Jeremias himself recounted in 1966 that he had discovered the only known confirmed inscription of the spelling Yeshu in Bethesda, but that this inscription was now covered in.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for this disciple and student of your Word , whose scholarship, breadth of understanding and clarity of expression enriched the faith and lives of many, firmly rooting the Good News of the Messiah in the Jewish life and practice of his day. Help us to study and teach the Scriptures with diligence and godly learning, affirming your truth in our lives and writing. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.
The Servant of God (1957; German ed.: 1952) (with Walther Zimmerli)
Jesus’ Promise to the Nations, trans. S. H. Hooke (1958; German ed.: 1956)
Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries, trans. D. Cairns (1962; reprinted, 2004; German ed.: 1958)
The Sermon on the Mount, trans. Norman Perrin (1963; German ed.: 1959)
The Lord’s Prayer, trans. John Reumann (1964; German ed.: 1962)
The Problem of the Historical Jesus, trans. Norman Perrin (1964; German ed.: 1960)
Unknown Sayings of Jesus, trans. Reginald H. Fuller (1964; German ed.: 1949)
The Central Message of the New Testament (1965; reprinted, 1981)
The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, trans. Norman Perrin (1966; reprinted, 1977; 3d German ed.: 1960)
Rediscovering the Parables of Jesus (1966; abridgement of The Parables of Jesus)
The Rediscovery of Bethesda, John 5:2 (1966; German ed.: 1949)
The Prayers of Jesus, trans. John Bowden et al. (1967; German ed.: 1958)
Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus: An Investigation into Economic & Social Conditions During the New Testament Period, trans. F. H. Cave and C. H. Cave (1969; German ed.: 1967)
New Testament Theology, trans. John Bowden (1971; German ed.: 1971)
The Origins of Infant Baptism: A Further Reply to Kurt Aland, trans. Dorothea M. Barton (1971; German ed.: 1962)
The Parables of Jesus, 2d ed., trans. S. H. Hooke (1972; German ed.: 1958)
Jesus and the Message of the New Testament, edited by K. C. Hanson, Fortress Classics in Biblical Studies (2002)