The Newsletter of IBTM
Izmir, 7 June 2023

Hello from Izmir (biblical Smyrna) and the Global Smyrna Meeting.

The first 7 days here are a much-valued part of my own continuing education—an opportunity to hear from a dozen professors of NT, OT, archaeology, etc, and to interact with them personally. For example, last night I had dinner with NT scholar David de Silva, and in a few minutes I will share a with another NT scholar, Jeff Weima. This is both stimulating and personally beneficial, and I truly look forward to events like these.

GSM speakers are Jim Hoffmeier (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Sharon Putt (Messiah University), Mark Fairchild (Huntington University), Mark Wilson (Stellenbosch University), Ben Witherington  (Asbury Theological Seminary), Levent Oral (President, Tutku Educational Travel), Douglas Jacoby (Rocky Mountain S.M.T. / Lincoln University), David de Silva (Ashland Theological Seminary), Bernard Bell (Peninsula Bible Church), Linford Stutzman (Eastern Mennonite University), Phillip Long (Grace Christian University), Dana Harris (Trinity), Jeff Weima (Calvin Theological Seminary)

In the 3 days following the GSM I’m taking a group to Miletus, Pisidian Antioch, and other biblical sites. Speaking of Turkey, scroll all the way down to learn about an opportunity to explore the other side of the country. (BTW, the president recently changed the name of the nation to Türkiye.)

Pictured to the R is Pradeep Kutty, a friend, teacher and preacher working in Kuwait.

Today’s offerings include Vicki’s and my next “conversation” (on the use/misuse of Matthew 18) plus a Q&A. The Q&A may be especially helpful for anyone going through the Bema series.

Read the New Testament Through a Jewish Lens?

Q: Is it true that the Bible can only be truly understood through a Jewish lens—the views to the rabbis who wrote the Talmud, Mishnah, etc? Some podcasts I'm listening to [esp. BEMA] seem to be saying that everything I've learned about the Bible is either incomplete or incorrect. What do you say?

A: Well, yes, the Palestinian background is key for understanding the New Testament. This view was forcefully presented in the 1970s and now accepted by most NT scholars. After all, not only Jesus but all his apostles were Jewish, and the OT was the Bible of the earliest Christians.

Yet there was a world of difference between Judaism in the time of Jesus—well before the Romans destroyed the Temple and effectively extinguished all Jewish sects apart from the Pharisees—and the post-70 AD Jewish world. Nearly all sources appealed to by those preaching a Jewish Christianity date from after the war with Rome, and it is likely there is a fair amount of retrojection going on. Idealization of the past and even eccentric opinions were claimed to accurately depict authentic Judaism. That is, the views of the rabbis in 200 AD or 500 AD are being read back into the record. KEEP READING

Conversations: Matthew 18

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just the two of you…” (Matt 18:15). Did Jesus intend this to be a way for churches to deal with sin, or to be a way for those in charge to be protected from honest feedback? This is the topic of this week’s conversation.

If you missed the introduction / explanation to our series, here’s the opening offering: Why Conversations? The second conversation was An Honest Look at the Church: 2003-2023. For today’s conversation please CLICK HERE.

Abraham’s Country: Turkey 2024?

A huge part of the biblical story—both testaments—takes place in Asia Minor (modern Turkey). After Israel, Turkey is the country to visit if you want to connect with biblical history.

Christian groups often visit western Asia—the land of the Seven Churches of Revelation. During this autumn tour we propose to explore the other side of the country: Cappadocia, Antioch, Seleucia... and Harran & the Land of Abraham. This makes a nice complement if you’ve already visited Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum… in the east. Click for FURTHER DETAILS.

If at least 30 register, we’ll go ahead with this tour. Please let me know your intention at this time (within 4 days). If we don’t have enough people, we will offer this tour another at another time. Next week I’ll let you know if the tour is on.


And speaking of tours, we will announce the winner of the Israel draw next week. For almost 100 days now anyone becoming a website subscriber, or getting a friend to sign up, was entered in the draw. The tour is in February 2024, and is a $2400 value. There are still about 48 hours remaining, if you want to join—and perhaps win.

Until next week…

That’s all for this time. Güle güle!
(Good-bye in Turkish.)