Published on Dec 1, 2017
Watch series here: http://www.holylanguage.com/mishnah.php
What did Yeshua think of the Mishnah?
Our focus at Holy Language Institute is on following Yeshua in a Hebrew way, together. So the most important question for us in this discussion is - what did Yeshua of Nazareth think of the Mishnah?
The answer is, Yeshua kept the Torah as interpreted by the Mishnah, and taught his disciples to do the same. The exception was the rare case in which a tradition eclipsed a commandment, which was something he took strong issue with. But don't take my word for it! Let's look at what the Bible says.
For starters, we can infer Yeshua's stance on the Mishnah by examining his disciples' posture towards it - remembering that Yeshua's disciples represented him, speaking and acting in the name of the one who sent them, carrying on the teachings and traditions of their holy Master.
One indicator of what Yeshua thought of the Mishnah is how Luke mentions "a Sabbath day's journey". This term isn't actually used in the written Torah, but it is discussed and defined in the Mishnah: "Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away." (Acts 1:12)
And thirdly, notice that Luke was one of Paul's closest travelling companions and ministry partners. This also suggests that Paul had a similar attitude towards the Mishnah…unless he just wasn't able to get through to Luke, even after all those years.
Another indicator would be how the Day of Atonement is referred to as "the Fast". This is another term that isn't used in the written Torah, and is a product of Mishnaic interpretation. "When considerable time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous, since even the Fast was already over, Paul began to admonish them." (Acts 27:9)
And again, we can take this, not only as evidence of Yeshua's positive stance towards Mishnaic interpretation, but also as evidence of a supportive stance on the part of Paul towards traditional Jewish application of Torah.
Yeshua also kept Jewish traditions that weren't commanded in the written Torah, but are mentioned in the Mishnah.
One example would be how he always said a blessing before eating. The practice of blessing God before meals isn't actually commanded in the Torah - it's a Jewish tradition.
"When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed; and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight." (Luke 24:30-31)
Another example would be how he went up to Jerusalem for Chanukah, the festival of Dedication mentioned in John 10:22: "At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Yeshua was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon." (John 10:22-23)
I've heard the objection that the text doesn't explicitly say Yeshua was celebrating Chanukah. But stop and think about it for a second. Why would John, decades later, even mention Chanukah if he was against it? And why would Yeshua hike several days from Galilee to Jerusalem in the dead of winter to be there for a holiday he had nothing to do with?
Yeshua and Yochanan were both traditional Jews, remember?
Yet one more example of our Master's fundamentally positive attitude towards Mishnaic Judaism was how he used the Water-Drawing Celebration of Hoshana Rabba on the seventh day of Sukkot to point to himself in John 7:37-39. This ritual is nowhere to be found in the written Torah, and was developed as an extrabiblical tradition.
In addition to keeping the Torah as interpreted by the Mishnah, Yeshua also instructed his disciples to do the same. For instance, regarding the tithing of the smallest garden seeds, which is a Mishnaic interpretation, he said: "You tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the Torah: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others." (Matthew 23:23)
We also have these more general instructions: "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses - therefore all that they tell you, do and observe. But do not do according to their deeds, for they say things and do not do them!" (Matthew 23:2-3) If that doesn't clinch it, I don't know what does!
Someone has pointed out that there's one manuscript of a Hebrew version of the Gospel of Matthew from the 1400s in which this passages reads as "all that he tells you, do and observe", suggesting that the Master was telling his disciples to only obey Moses according to how they read him, rather than obeying Moses in accordance with the legal decisions of the "judge who was in office in those days".
Thankfully, this is easily falsifiable from the perspectives of both logic and textual criticism...oops out of room!
Watch the video for the rest!