Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On making things right with God and our fellow human beings

So if you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift where it is by the altar, and go, make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift. If someone sues you, come to terms with him quickly, while you and he are on the way to court; or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer of the court, and you may be thrown in jail! Yes indeed! I tell you, you will certainly not get out until you have paid the last penny. 
Matthew 5:23-26 
The sin towards God, the Day of Atonement atones for; but sins toward man, the Day of Atonement cannot atone for till the neighbor has been appeased.
Mishnah Yoma 8
Then Kefa came up and said to him, "Rabbi, how often can my brother sin against me and I have to forgive him? As many as seven times?"
"No, not seven times," answered Yeshua, "but seventy times seven! Because of this, the Kingdom of Heaven may be compared with a king who decided to settle accounts with his deputies. Right away they brought forward a man who owed him many millions; and since he couldn't pay, his master ordered that he, his wife, his children and all his possessions be sold to pay the debt. But the servant fell down before him.
`Be patient with me,' he begged, `and I will pay back everything.' So out of pity for him, the master let him go and forgave the debt.
"But as that servant was leaving, he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him some tiny sum. He grabbed him and began to choke him, crying, `Pay back what you owe me!' His fellow servant fell before him and begged, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'  But he refused; instead, he had him thrown in jail until he should repay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were extremely distressed; and they went and told their master every thing that had taken place.  Then the master summoned his servant and said, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt just because you begged me to do it. Shouldn't you have had pity on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And in anger his master turned him over to the jailers for punishment until he paid back everything he owed.  This is how my heavenly Father will treat you, unless you each forgive your brother from your hearts." 
Matthew 18:21-35

Shanah tovah, dear readers.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Happy Shabbat, Everyone"

A cool pic tweeted by my brother-in-law from our Shabbat table. (Yes, he got the irony later.)

HT: getthebikes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

October 2 - a day to disconnect

HT: Netzer Chosid.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Messianic Jewish scholar launches new online resource

Messianic Jewish New Testament scholar David Rudolph has launched a new online resource: MJStudies.com.  The site is described as "a gateway to post-supersessionist New Testament scholarship."

What is post-supersessionist interpretation? A page on the site explains:
Messianic Jewish (MJ) post-supersessionist interpretation maintains that the New Testament writers affirmed (1) God’s covenant fidelity to the Jewish people, (2) that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah and participated in the unique identity of the God of Israel, (3) that Jesus-believing Gentiles were full members of God’s people without becoming Jews, and (4) that Jesus-believing Jews should continue to live as Jews in keeping with Israel’s calling to be a distinct and enduring nation.
Already the site is burgeoning with references to post-supersessionist books, essays, journal articles, conference papers, lectures and videos.  I intend to use it as a go-to reference to scholarly works on various scriptural and theological issues.

The next time you find yourself looking for a commentary on a book or passage in the Apostolic Writings / Brit Hadasha, you can go to mjstudies.com and see what's been published from a post-supersessionist vantage point.  And if you come across a resource which isn't on the site, you can suggest it via the site's contact form.

So check the site out by clicking below!  Or better yet--follow the MJStudies blog to stay up-to-date on the latest resources!

On a related note, last month Tikvat Israel Messianic Synagogue of Richmond, Virginia welcomed Dr. Rudolph as their new rabbi.  I, for one, am very glad to have Dr. Rudolph back on the east coast (and not too far from the D.C. area!).  Given his history of providing helpful resources for the Messianic Jewish movement and beyond, I am excited to see what Dr. Rudolph will bring to Tikvat Israel, which is already a dynamic Messianic Jewish community.  Mazel tov!

Update: Robin Parry of Theological Scribbles now has a blog post up highlighting the new site.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Quote(s) of the Day: "Lost Tribes," Codices, and the Jewish Jesus

Some interesting recent links from BAR:

The Ten Tribes of Israel Aren’t Lost (and never were)

Archaeologist, award-winning auther, and department chair at George Washington University, Dr. Eric Cline gave a presentation summarized as follows:
Speculating on the whereabouts of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel has been popular for longer than the search for the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. Suggestions for where they ended up have ranged from America and Britain to India and Africa, and virtually every place in between. However, few proper investigations of this “mystery” have been conducted. Now, utilizing three separate and completely independent sources—the Biblical account, the contemporary Neo-Assyrian inscriptions, and the archaeological remains from both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah—it can be confidently shown that the Ten Tribes of Israel were never lost.
The Power of the Codex
Sometime in the first few centuries C.E., the first bound books—termed codices—revolutionized the way people read the words of prophets, kings, scribes and thinkers. . . In an article for the New York Times Sunday Book Review, author and book critic Lev Grossman reflects on the remarkable technological shift that occurred nearly 2,000 years ago and whether the growing popularity of e-readers will mark a similar shaft in how we read.
 A great quote from Grossman's article:
Something very important and very weird is happening to the book right now: It’s shedding its papery corpus and transmigrating into a bodiless digital form, right before our eyes. We’re witnessing the bibliographical equivalent of the rapture.

Was Jesus a Jew?

The answer, of course, is yes.  Anthony J. Saldarini writes quite powerfully:
To wrench Jesus out of his Jewish world destroys Jesus and destroys Christianity, the religion that grew out of his teachings. Even Jesus’ most familiar role as Christ is a Jewish role. If Christians leave the concrete realities of Jesus’ life and of the history of Israel in favor of a mythic, universal, spiritual Jesus and an otherworldly kingdom of God, they deny their origins in Israel, their history, and the God who has loved and protected Israel and the church. They cease to interpret the actual Jesus sent by God and remake him in their own image and likeness. The dangers are obvious. If Christians violently wrench Jesus out of his natural, ethnic and historical place within the people of Israel, they open the way to doing equal violence to Israel, the place and people of Jesus. This is a lesson of history that haunts us all at the end of the 20th century.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

For the seasons they are a-changin’

It’s a wonderful time of year. While I love the summer, I really enjoy the change from summer to autumn. Sure, I miss summer, but every season has it’s time and offers specific opportunities that we don’t get in the others. In autumn we get the slightly cooler weather (though you can still where shorts and flip flops), rain (a different kind of rain than summer rain) and of course, the leaves changing colors.

Summer is waning. It is practically over. Think for second about all that has transpired over the last few months: The great stuff and even the not so great stuff. Think about the opportunities taken and the ones missed. Have you ever considered that how we choose to remember our past can directly guide our future?

So summer wanes….And here we stand on the cusp of a new season; one full of brisk mornings that sharpen our senses making us more aware. 

“Fantastic, Jon...That’s quite a revelation.”

I know, I know. What am I getting at? 

We are one week into the month of Elul. This is the time for those cold mornings to sharpen our senses…to sharpen our memories as we probe the actions of our past and look for places us where we need to adjust; to consider our words and attitudes. It’s a time to proactively seek out forgiveness and be willing to grant it. 

Earlier today Yahnatan forwarded me this article on electronic Lashon Hara (literally “evil tongue” though it issued as a term for gossip). I was immediately struck by how slow we can be to consider our behavioural shortcomings with those whom we interact with online.
In the article Rabbi Marc D. Angel writes "Modern technology makes it easy to dehumanize others...." I've seen this to be true. It's easy and even convenient to forget (or to not know) the faces and people behind the words for the sake of "making a point" or "winning the argument". I've heard it said"if you can't beat them with logic then beat them with rhetoric". No thanks. Do we hold ourselves to the same level of relational standards as we do when we interact with our families and friends face to face, or do we give ourselves some kind of special dispensation to say what we want, how we want and when we want?

I can think of no better time to consider these things carefully and to awaken ourselves to the need for us to be reconciled to those whom we may have hurt through our hasty responses and/or harsh words here online.