Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rudolph's "A Jew to the Jews" available on Google Books

I thought it was worth highlighting that David J. Rudolph's groundbreaking (yet expensive) monograph  A Jew to the Jews: Jewish Contours of Pauline Flexibility in 1 Corinthians 9 is available on Google Books.  Check it out here:

 A Jew to the Jews: Jewish Contours of Pauline Flexibility in 1 Corinthians 9

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Remembering Miep Gies

Friday marked the anniversary of the passing of Miep Gies.  In case you don't know her by name, Miep Gies was "one of the Dutch citizens who hid Anne Frank, her family and four other Jews from the Nazis in an annex above Anne's father's business premises during World War II."

This past Thanksgiving morning, my wife and I watched Freedom Writers, a movie about an inner-city school teacher who attempts to inspire her English students.  One of the things the teacher does is teach her students about the Holocaust, even bringing them to meet Holocaust survivors.

At a certain point in the movie I started to get a little incredulous about the plot.  I decided to look it up and discovered that the movie was actually based on a true story.

When I watched the following scene, I was deeply moved.  The speech Miep Gies (played here by actress Pat Carroll) gives these students is so very powerful.

During Miep's lecture to our class, one student who had been particularly inspired by her story stood up and told her that she was his hero. She got very upset and said, "I'm not a hero; I simply did what I had to do, because it was the right thing to do." That became a mantra, for me and for my students. What better guiding principle can you have for making choices than simply to do the right thing? 
After watching this movie and this scene, I resolved to remember women and men like Miep Gies who left an extraordinary impact for good on the world, simply by doing what was right.  Maybe by knowing their stories and counting them as heroes, I might be influenced a little more in that direction myself.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Scot McKnight interviews Mark Nanos on the apostle Paul

Gathering Sparks readers might appreciate "Where Christians Got It Wrong With Paul," in which popular evangelical blogger/author/academic Scot McKnight interviews Mark Nanos about his contribution to the recent Zondervan "multiple views" series release The Apostle Paul.  Here's the introduction:
Mark Nanos is on a mission to expound for readers of Paul a Paul who never broke from Judaism. His project, and here we are sketching some of what he says in the book edited by Mike Bird called The Apostle Paul, is both about rhetoric and theology. Nanos, who plays golf well and is a Jewish scholar of Paul, has been stumping for his themes for more than a decade. 
The rhetoric is clear: Christians have explained their faith, in particular the theology of Paul, at the expense of Judaism. They have made Paul a champion of freedom by arguing Judaism was slavery, Paul a champion of universalism by arguing Judaism was exclusive and ethnic, and Paul a champion of a religion of grace, faith and love while Judaism comes off looking like a religion of merit, works and legalism. In a strange irony, Nanos then says “those values that Christians champion… are instead inferior to the values Jews actually uphold” (163). I get his point, but he’s done the same thing he’s accused Christian scholars of doing: comparative descriptions come off as comparative denunciations. But Nanos has the larger end of the stick on this one; he’s right; Christians have failed to comprehend Judaism because they’ve settled for caricatures that they can use to champion their own faith.
Check out the full interview, in which they discuss "works of the law," Paul's "conversion" vs. Paul's "calling," and the difference between Paul's Judaism and others.  (Hint: it involves words like "chronometrical.")

Update: James pointed out that there is some great discussion in the comments section including comments from Nanos himself.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

On "the Soloveitchik who loved Jesus'

A friend of mine asked me for my thoughts on the Tablet piece The Soloveitchik Who Loved Jesus.  Here's what I wrote her:
I'm glad this article caught your eye and happy to discuss it! 
While we tend to think of the Messianic Jewish movement as beginning in the late 1960's, there was actually a movement of Jewish Yeshua-believers in the late 1800's in eastern Europe which dwarfed our current movement--hundreds of thousands.  Many of the leaders of this movement were trained, learned rabbis who came to believe the New Testament--men like Joseph Rabinowitz, Theophilus Lucky, Paul Philip Levertoff, R' Isaac Lichtenstein, R' Yechiel Tzvi Lichtenstein, and R' Daniel Zion.  Some in our movement have actually described this time period as the golden age of Messianic Judaism. 
What happened to all these?  Sadly, the Holocaust all but wiped these communities out.  However, there is a growing awareness and desire to connect to this heritage.  Vine of David, the Messianic Jewish publishing arm of First Fruits of Zion, has led the way in bringing the works of these Messianic luminaries to light (no small task since many of these writings are in languages other than English!).  They have a "Remant Repository" on their website where you can browse these valuable texts.  They also have published Paul Philip Levertoff's Love in the Messianic Age and Franz Delitzsch's Hebrew translation of the gospels, beautifully designed and bound editions which befit their majestic contents. 
R' Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik did not identify with this European Messianic community.  However, he was one of several rabbis in modern Europe who looked into the New Testament and did not find it anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish but rather deeply resonant with the teachings of Jewish tradition...who saw Yeshua as a faithful Jew and who felt that the world would be a better place if everyone, Jews and Christians, came to understand this.  In this sense, he was the forerunner of many contemporary Jewish and Christian scholars who (based on far more evidence than R' Soloveitchik had at the time) have come to the same conclusions.  It is a marvel that, at a time when the idea of Jesus as a faithful Jew was much more rare, R' Soloveitchik and others (R' Jacob Emden comes to mind) somehow perceived this truth. 
Boaz Michael (president of First Fruits of Zion) wrote a blog post commenting on this Tablet article about R' Soloveitchik.  You can read it here: A Rabbi Who Loved Jesus: Preface to Mark.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Achieve your MJ educational goals in 2013!