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How did Jesus learn Scripture?


The Gospels present Jesus as one who is familiar with Scripture. Jesus quotes or alludes to references from the Torah, Prophets and the Writings. The content of the Jewish Old Testament in Jesus’ day was previously uncertain due to the acceptance of the “three-stage canonisation” theory.  However, the three-stage canonisation has been widely critiqued and effectively demolished (1). Now, it is widely believed that Jesus may have used the Jewish Old Testament Scriptures ( in fact, the same Christian Old Testament we read today). Moreover, the discovery of the OT books (except Esther) at Qumran gives further credence to the assumption.

Jesus, as we find him in the Gospels, had no formal scribal learning (John 7:15) and yet those who heard him were  ‘amazed at his understanding and answers ’(Luke 2:47), “amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29). “astonished (at) the wisdom given to him” (Mark 6:2)


How did he learn the Scriptures?  Luke also records for us Jesus’ love for engaging in conversations about Scriptures, his listening to teachers and his spiritual inquiry even as a boy ( Luke 2: 41 – 47). The fact that “ all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:47) at the Jerusalem temple is a pointer to the extraordinary insights that the boy-Jesus brought with his questions and answers about Scripture. Jesus’ passage to adulthood is characterised by growth in wisdom, in stature and in favour of God and man” (Luke 2: 52).

Jesus’ familiarity with Scriptures was probably due to religious nurture at home, yearly pilgrimages to the Jerusalem temple (Luke 2:41), regular visits to the Synagogues (Luke 2:16) and conversations with religious teachers (Luke 2:46)

– Samuel Thambusamy

(1) For a detailed discussion on the Canon of the Old Testament cf E. E. Ellis, “The Old Testament Canon in the Early Church,” Compendia Rerum Judaicarum ad Novum Testamentum (edd. S. Safrai et al.; Assen and Phila- delphia 1974-, II i [1988]) 653-00. Cf. S. Z. Leiman, ed., The Canon and Masorah of the Hebrew Bible (New York 1974) 254-61 (J. P. Lewis); ibid., The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture (Hamden, CT 1976); R. T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (Grand Rapids 1985).

(2) The Old Testament during Jesus’ time  was the same with the possible exception of the Book of Esther.


Ravaged – A Bible study on 2 Samuel 13


Conversations (Questions prepared by Samuel Thambusamy)

1) What is this passage about?

2) Who are the characters mentioned in this passage? What do we know about them?

3) He (Amnon) was stronger than she (Tamar) and he raped her (v14). Rape is the forceful violation of another person’s body. Why do you think Amnon raped Tamar? What are the contemporary stories of rape in your context/s? Why do you think rape happens? Who are the victims?

4) Absalom said: “Be quiet my sister…Don’t take this to your heart”(v20). David was furious when he heard about what happened to Tamar. Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad (v21) Why do you think they did not do anything about this? Do you think victims of rape get justice? Why do you think rapists escape punishment? How do we contribute to the perpetuation of injustice?

5) The gang rape in Delhi was a horrific tale. How did you feel when you heard about the incident? What do you think needs to be done in order to get justice for the girl? What do you think about the spontaneous protests across the Nation? How can the Church connect with the voices of protest? What can we as a group do to bring justice?

6) What is God telling you through this passage? What are you going to do in response to God’s Word?

India Unbound, Introduction (Summary)


The movement from poverty to prosperity is a fascinating journey. The economic and social transformation is one of the themes of India Unbound.

Why did an Industrial Revolution elude us? Marx had predicted that the Railways would usher in an Industrial Revolution. Nehru, along with this planners, did attempt an Industrial Revolution. They did not encourage private enterprise. Instead they built public enterprise.

Gurcharan comments, “ they failed and India is still paying for their follies”. Interestingly, we had an agricultural Revolution, and we were not able to usher an Industrial Revolution. Gurcharan points to six things that have contributed to this failure.

  1. We have inherited an inward looking, import substituting path.
  2. We have set up a massive inefficient and monopolistic public sector
  3. We have over regulated private sector
  4. We have discouraged foreign capital and denied ourselves the benefit of technology
  5. We have over pampered organised labour
  6. We have ignored eduction, particularly girls/women who make up 50% of our population.

Gurucharan Das rightly contends, “ When Individuals blunder, it is unfortunate and their families go down. When rulers fail, it is a national tragedy”.

Hundreds of entrepreneurial successes have been born after reform. The new entrepreneurs have risen on the back of their talents, hard work and professional skills. This is reflective of the spirit of the age.

Liberalisation and Information economy work to India’s advantage and raise the hope that it may finally take off and transform the country.

Gurucharan Das contends, “India is like an elephant that has begun to lumber and move ahead. It will never have speed but it will have stamina. India might be more stable, peaceful and have a negotiated transition into the future. Although slower (than China), India is more likely to preserve its way of life and its civilisation of diversity, tolerance and spirituality against the onslaught of the global culture. If it does, then it is perhaps a wise elephant”.

Which way forward?

Yogi Adityanath, a monk of the Gorakpur temple is the BJP’s choice for the UP Chief Minister. Read three articles this morning about the political significance of the Yogi’s elevation to the post of CM for Uttar Pradesh. Here’s a short summary:

Swati Chaturvedi contends that Adityanath as Chief Minister will put the Hindutva agenda centre-stage in UP. She writes, ” the Bharatiya Janata Party has now transformed its win into an expression of complete majoritarianism as Adityanath is a radical along the most delicate fault lines that bedevil UP. It seems that the “Mukhota” (mask) is well and truly off”.

Chandan Mitra feels that Yogi’s elevation to this position augurs well for the BJP. His reasoning is: “If Narendra Modi is to repeat his 2014 performance of winning 73 of UP’s 80 seats barely two years down the line, he would need an efficient, authoritative leader who can help the consolidation of Hindu votes”. He further relents, “The English-speaking elite of this country has a deep-seated derision for those who don saffron robes and insist on religion, or rather dharma, having a place in politics”.  Amit Shah has probably ensured that the BJP will contest the 2019 election with an even bigger focus on Hindu consolidation because he sees a Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance of opposition parties combining to fight the BJP.

Akilesh sharma feels that like PM Modi, Yogi has to do nothing further to reinforce his Hindutva image to hardcore supporters.

It is now for the SP, BSP and Congress to fight the Modi wave? Will they even try?

Modi Effect – Big Mo: Chapter 5 (Summary)

Lance Price

In Chapter 6, Lance Price’s contends that Modi had the much sought after ‘Big MO’ – the momentum to carry him forward and upward.

Although the BJP had lost two elections, the prospects of winning 2014 appeared bight.

  • Firstly, the Congress lead government looked vulnerable more than ever before. The disenchantment with it was that it was poor in delivering on the promises.
  • Secondly, it was associated with corruption. In fact, the lists of scams and scandals was bewildering The 2G spectrum and Coalgate did a lot of damage to the image of the Congress party, and in particular  Manmohan Singh.
  • Thirdly, Anna Hazare’s tirade against corruption and Baba Ramdev’s protest against black money spread the spirit of dissent across the Nation.

To the growing fanbase both within and outside the BJP, Modi was not merely the favourite but the only candidate to lead the party into the general elections.

In August 2013, the RSS threw its support behind Modi. In 2013 the BJP parliamentary board formally announced Mod as thePrime Ministerial candidate.

Experience as a Source for Theology – Engagement in everyday life 

– samuel thambusamy 
Moses went out among his people and he saw their forced labour 
The Israelites were still groaning because of their hard work. They cried out and their cry to be rescued from the hard work rose up to God. God heard the cry of grief. 
I have clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt. I have heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters. I know about their pain. I have come down to rescue them…
Theology cannot be done in the closet. Theology cannot be done in a cubicle. Theology cannot be done in a vacuum. Theology must be an enterprise by the people, of the people and for the people. Theology must address the immediate concerns of people.
God is interested in the everyday lives of people. God’s heart is broken as he sees-hears and understands the brokenness in the everydayness of life. We must be broken by the things that break the heart of God. Therefore, Social engagement is important for doing theology (thinking thoughts after God). 
More often than not we don’t see the brokenness that is there all around us. We don’t see because we turn the other way. We pretend that it doesn’t exist. Sometimes, we don’t see because we lack sight. Our privileged position in life blinds us and does not allow us to see. 
Moses growing up in the palace did not see – hear – and understand the pain and agony of people crushed by slavery. He looked out of his window but could not see – hear – understand the groans of the people. He was blinded by the grandeur of the pyramids. When Moses went out among his people he saw their forced labour. Suddenly, he had sight. Not just sight but also insight. 
We must walk out of our closet. We must leave our study desks. We must be go where people are. We must experience the everyday struggles of people. It is the everydayness of life that we encounter a God whose heart is broken by the struggles of people. We listen to his heart beat. As we encounter God amidst the struggles of his people, we are broken by the very things that break God’s heart. We are disturbed by the very things that break his heart. We get angry with the very things that he is angry with. We get sight, insight and the grace for action. 
Devotion and critical reflection must lead to Participation Theology is done in the everydayness of life. It begins by listening to God’s heartbeat. It begins by gaining SIGHT and INSIGHT. It begins by being broken by the very things that break the heart of God. Theology is thinking thoughts about a God who is broken – troubled – and angered by the reality of brokenness all around us.