What do you think about Ray van der Laan's teachings ("Follow the Rabbi")?
I am sure that Rabbinic Judaism has something to tell us about Jesus' ministry. But to be honest, some of the claims, though intriguing, are not substantiated.
Peter was the only disciple over age 20? In Matthew's account, he is the only disciple with Jesus at the time, so naturally Jesus paid Peter's tax. It is an argument from silence—and hence logically invalid—to use this to prove that he was the only disciples over 20. And John was 8-10 years old? (There is another way to interpret the scripture about giving a cup of cold water to the little ones.) Rabbis in the first century operated how with their disciples? Isn't this impression based on later sources (Mishnah, 200 AD)? Who really knows how things were in Jesus' time?
After the Temple fell, we know that the rabbis turned to study Torah more fervently. This was considered their "offering" to God, now that the animal sacrifices were no more. In lieu of the elaborate and time-intensive temple system, the leaders poured themselves into scripture study. But reading this into the gospels is, I am afraid, an example of eisegesis.
Don't get me wrong. This is really interesting stuff, and I like many of the things I'm hearing. Which is why I am happy to listen to people like vander Laan.
In a way I'm motivated to believe he is right, because I feel I have an axe to grind vis-à-vis shallow biblical knowledge among many members and even preachers, but I find it hard to will myself to accept his reasoning and conclusions just because it resonates with me.
If we were really to memorize books of the Bible, read the gospels through every week, etc., I think God would have told us this in the N.T., not through Rabbinic Judaism. So I find the main premise—that our discipleship is to be modeled on Jewish rabbinical practice in the 3rd century (or whenever)—unproven.
At the same time, learning more of the background—cultural, political, historical, social, and spiritual—of the biblical books is absolutely vital. So much of scripture goes right over our heads without the extra study, the research, the background work...