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moonbeam
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75 posted 01-24-2009 05:14 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam



quote:
Though these details are unchronicled, they seem very obvious to me.  The ultimate test of Abraham's faith is not that he was prepared to kill his son.  It is that he had the unwavering faith that God would let his son live, even if only at the last minute.  


Owl, seeing as it was me that first mentioned the Abraham story I thought I'd respond briefly and say that I agree with you.  But that doesn't detract from the point I was making, in fact it reinforces it.  Let me remind you of the question that was being asked in this thread:
quote:
If an entity appeared before you offering indisputable evidence that she was god and ordered you to kill every child you see under the age of two, would you?

So presumably if Abraham (and you?) had such unwavering faith, he and you would answer to that question an unequivocal "Yes"?
OwlSA
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76 posted 01-24-2009 10:12 AM       View Profile for OwlSA   Email OwlSA   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for OwlSA

Moonbeam, I would like to believe that I would, believing, as I said above, that God would grant a reprieve.  However, I think my faith would waver and that I would disobey, but try to discuss it with God first, in spite of the fact that He requires instant obedience, trust and faith.  

Owl
moonbeam
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77 posted 01-24-2009 01:11 PM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Thanks for coming back on this Owl, I think you are an honest and consistent person

M
Stephanos
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78 posted 01-24-2009 08:27 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
In this case I was speaking about the conjunction of the term "homosexual" and the word "wicked."  I find this simply wrong-headed, and I don't particularly care what the bible says about it.


If you don't particularly care what the bible says about it, then I simply remind you that I have been in a discussion with Essorant about Biblical Theodicy, and that you and I are in two different worlds of approach.  Though, your following statement made me think you are not ready to altogether abandon Biblical appeal ...

quote:
It's entirely at odds with the basic message of the gospels,


What is the message of the gospels to you BobK?  It seems (though I could be mistaken in this) that you would portray it as something more like a message of postmodern "tolerance" than a message about how Christ came to save us from sins that are really sins.

  
quote:
and it speaks to some of the most savage and murderous impulses that people have.  It's been used to justify some of the most savage behavior I can imagine.


And that is where the line must be drawn, and where precisely I join your protest.  Hatred of a person is not to be conflated with hatred of sin.  When that happens, someone's "sin" becomes only an excuse to hate them (which is ironically quite sinful itself).  When it comes to straying hearts such as ours, such is the risk involved with truth.  We can take a principle that is right and true, and turn it into an evil response.  That is no argument, however, for the abused premise being true or not.

quote:
It certainly does fit with the notion of a tribal Judaism whose concerns included making sure that there were enough men for soldiers and to ensure the continuation of the patriarchal blood lines.  This they had in common with the Rome of Augustus Caesar, whose thoughts about homosexuals were very close to the most restrictive expressed in the Torah.


I don't want to turn this thread into another argument about the nature of homosexuality ... but I would briefly remind you that it also fits with the telos of Genesis, where God created male and female and blessed that union.  From this foundational standpoint, homosex is seen as a perversion of God's will.  If you don't agree with this, at least you can see that the aversion can be explained in Theological and not just sociological terms.  For the orthodox Jew, the non-child-bearing status of homosex was because of its deviance, not vice-versa.

It is not only the tribal Jews who considered homosexuality "wicked", but also St. Paul in unequivocal terms, because the telos holds, as is evident by Romans chapter 1.  But it's no different than a host of other tendencies, behaviors, practices, states-of-mind, that are mentioned under the rubric of sin.  I certainly don't think homosex should be a "pet" sin to pick on, to the exclusion of considering one's own vices.  My plank is still more important than a speck I think I see.  

quote:
This would be an example of using the Bible as a sword against those whom you should love.  Wicked to my ear is an expression of contempt, unless of course your a Bostonian and can get away with saying, "That's wicked awesome."  I can do that, for example, having spent a wicked long time in Boston.  For you, however, wicked is pretty much straight Theology.  That's a wicked pity, I must say.


"Wicked" in terms of a behavior, need not be a sign of contempt ... though If you'll refer back to my particular statement to Essorant, I didn't use that word, but rather the milder word "sin".  You may think I'm euphemizing.  But sometimes there is something substantial about a choice of words.  A trembling woman in fear of judgment is told by Jesus "go and sin no more", while a brazenly defiant people are told by the Prophet "you have polluted the land with your harlotries and wickedness".  When I used the word "wicked" it was in context of the end of an extended process of rebellion, as described in Biblical passages of God's punishment, and that according to the Bible's own context and evaluation, which was under scrutiny by Essorant.  

If I may share something a bit more personal... A close relative of mine (before he became a devoted Christian and repented being wonderfully reconciled to his wife) was an adulterer.   His repetitive actions were sinful.  I loved him as I do now, and though I fully recognized his folly, contempt for his person was never a part of the equation.  


Anyway, I hope that clears things up Bob.  If you'll closely peruse my former statements, you should be able to make a distinction between the instances where I talked about "wickedness" in the Bible's own words and context, and where I responded to a denial that homosexuality is sinful.


respectfully,

Stephen
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79 posted 01-24-2009 08:30 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

LMAO

quote:
Karen has a friend.. Never mind




Karen has a few friends. (Several, even!)

Tread lightly lovie.

Karen is in total sympathy for her friends who have also remained silent and been misunderstood.

By all means, do continue.

Karen, et al. is much amused.
Falling rain
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80 posted 01-24-2009 09:10 PM       View Profile for Falling rain   Email Falling rain   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Falling rain's Home Page   View IP for Falling rain

I agree with Ron's theory.

I wouldn't believe in a God first of all. God's I think were created to give a sense of hope and morals to those who had none. Create a few rules and tell a couple stories and what do you have? Religion.

And to answer your 2 yr. old question. I wouldn't do it. I'm not one to believe that easily. Always ask questions I say. So that "god" would be out of luck coming to me. hahaha

-Zach  

When I see your smile, and I know itís not for me, thatís when Iíll miss you.

oceanvu2
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81 posted 01-25-2009 05:32 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

RE:  "If an entity appeared before you offering indisputable evidence that she was god and ordered you to kill every child you see under the age of two, would you?"

Which is where this started.  

If this happened to me, I hope I'd have enough sense left to check myself into a suitable facility for a significant period of time.

I'm surprised no one has brought the technical psychiatric term for people who have conversations with The Bearded One, which I believe is "nut-case," but that's more in Bob's province than mine.

I've also wondered, when Abraham had this conversation, was it a bit of public discourse?  Or was somebody sneakily listening in so they could write it down?

On the other hand, it's not a bad metaphor for blind faith or God's capriciousness. God seems to have something of a mean streak.  I mean, what did Job do that he deserved all that meshugaas?  With Friends like that, boy...!

Best, Jimbeaux
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82 posted 01-25-2009 06:28 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
Over seven years ago, a group of religious extremists seized control of an aircraft . . . men who had very little flying experience and a philosophy of maximizing the deaths of innocent civilians on the ground. They did all they could to murder as many as they could in order to secure the maximum reward for themselves in heaven and in worldly renown.


--Andrew Sullivan

I think that pretty much answers the question.
  
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83 posted 01-25-2009 06:33 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     The point of the Abrahamic Covenant with God, as I understand it; and the New Covenant as described in the New T., as I understand it, is that there is an agreement made between God and man, binding in both directions.

     The point of the Original Covenant, and one of the reasons that Judaism, especially Rabbinic Judaism is so focused on The Law, is that God specifically agrees not to do this sort of thing ANY MORE.  No more taking people aside and asking them to kill their sons.  Nope; never.  In return, God gives the Jews "The Law."  God says, "Follow this as your part of the deal!"

     With the coming of Jesus, the Covenant was reportedly spread to all men.  As I understand it.

     Therefore, if you hear somebody who tells you things like this, and you are a believer, you should be comforted to know that no matter what proofs you get, it isn't God giving them.  That business has already been taken care of, apparently, and the paradox is one that's brought up by people who enjoy giving you a hard time.  Should you wish to participate, enjoy your hard time.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven

    


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84 posted 01-26-2009 08:15 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
The point of the Abrahamic Covenant with God, as I understand it; and the New Covenant as described in the New T., as I understand it, is that there is an agreement made between God and man, binding in both directions.

Both the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant are described in terms of God fulfilling all by promise, the only condition being belief/trust/faith.  Consider this passage:

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast aboutóbut not before God. What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'  Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." (Romans 4:1-5)

quote:
The point of the Original Covenant, and one of the reasons that Judaism, especially Rabbinic Judaism is so focused on The Law, is that God specifically agrees not to do this sort of thing ANY MORE.  No more taking people aside and asking them to kill their sons.  Nope; never.  In return, God gives the Jews "The Law."  God says, "Follow this as your part of the deal!

With the coming of Jesus, the Covenant was reportedly spread to all men.  As I understand it.

Admittedly, I'm only an armchair Theologian, Bob, but I'm having a hard time understanding the Mosaic Covenant (The Covenant of Law) as being given in response to Abraham's experience with the call to sacrifice Isaac.  Perhaps there is some Rabbinic interpretation or literature in this direction?  I don't see it in the pages of scripture itself.  As far as I know, the only reason we are given for the giving of the Law is "so that the trespass might increase" (Romans 5:20), underscoring the need for a covenant of Grace.


I still think that the incident with Abraham and Isaac on Mt. Moriah, was a once-for-all calling to reveal God's Grace in a superlative way.  It doesn't seem to have to do with Covenant at all, other than to reveal the heart of the New Covenant to come in Christ.  My support for this is that it only happened once, was only a test to reveal God's own sacrifice, and scriptures like Jeremiah 7:31 ... "They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fireósomething I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.".  That's why I think one should take the incident to be totally solitary, and quite exceptional in more ways than one.  Either way, it seems you and I may be coming to the same conclusion for different reasons: that we shouldn't have to worry about such a thing being asked of us.  


And, you are right about the covenant potentially being spread to all the world (not just Jews) in the New Testament.  However, it sounded as if you meant that the covenant of Law was extended.  I would still stress the one-sided nature of the New Covenant, with the only condition on our part being surrender and trust.  

"But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." (Romans 7:6)


Anyway, Bob, this is something I have grasped from my studies of Biblical Covenants, for your consideration.


Stephen
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85 posted 01-26-2009 11:17 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Interesting, Stephanos.

     Traditionally the story of The sacrifice of Isaac is in the Jewish religion taken as the beginning of the rite of circumcision.  Circumcision, as you know, is the  physical acknowledgement of the Covenant.

     The nature of the Law comes into being more slowly, over time.  The Ten Commandments, for example, only coming in existence, after the exodus, while a great number of other commandments apparently predate them, and a whole body of law from the Babylonian exile and from time following the  destruction of the second temple and following the death of Jesus exists as well.

     Not all law comes from The Torah.  Not All Jewish law ends with the Death of Jesus.  Using New T. scripture as authority to comment on Old T. sources is logically as dubious as using Koranic sources to give the correct interpretation for the Sermon on The Mount.  Smugly satisfying for those who do the quoting, of course, because it is justified by their superior faith, nourishing a white sugar to those from the original faith who hear their understandings corrupted.  Bad, probably, for everybody's dental hygiene, for the taste it may leave in one's neighbor's mouth.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven
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86 posted 01-27-2009 12:41 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:  
quote:
Not all law comes from The Torah.


Granted.

quote:
Not All Jewish law ends with the Death of Jesus.


Of course not.


quote:
Using New T. scripture as authority to comment on Old T. sources is logically as dubious as using Koranic sources to give the correct interpretation for the Sermon on The Mount.


As you are so wont to say, logic has very little to do with it.  But if you are speaking of coherence (which does apply), I disagree.  The Koran, a work written some 600 years after the time of Christ, makes some blatant historical denials about the life of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels (documents having much better candidacy for being authentic description, than the centuries-later Koran).  He really didn't die, etc ...

The New Testament, on the other hand, rising up within Jewry, makes no presumptuous denials of its history.  Jesus himself in the Gospels seems to take all of the history of the Old Testament for granted.  But there is a new interpretive element introduced, and a proclamation of Messianic fulfillment ... but that is not the same as historical revision.

quote:
Smugly satisfying for those who do the quoting, of course, because it is justified by their superior faith, nourishing a white sugar to those from the original faith who hear their understandings corrupted.  Bad, probably, for everybody's dental hygiene, for the taste it may leave in one's neighbor's mouth.


I don't think it can be shown from scripture that either Jesus or his apostles dishonored the Law, though that's exactly what they were accused of, and persecuted for, many times over.  I guess their primary concern was not to "leave a good taste" in everyone's mouth.  Paul did, however, warn the Church in Rome not to be arrogant about the fact that God chose them as the vehicle of a New Covenant:  "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in." (Romans 11:25).  However, the inadequacy of the Law as a means of "being right" with God, is intractable to Christianity, and irreducible.  Also intractable is the belief that Jesus was sent for them ... their Messiah whether they think so or not (thankfully many have and will yet).  I get the feeling that it is not necessarily the attitude with which these beliefs are held that offends you, but the beliefs themselves.  Concede for a moment it were true ... could you imagine that anyone could believe it without being "smug" as you put it?  I for one (though you may doubt this) take seriously what Paul wrote about the folly of being conceited just because the natural branches were broken off, since I myself am only an ingrafted branch, with more disparity with the roots than the natural ones.  Such is the nature of grace.

Perhaps I'll conclude by pointing out that it was you who mentioned the "New Covenant" choosing to speak of scripture (Old and New Testament) as a narrative whole.  You even mentioned Jesus himself, in regard to a change in Covenants.  And in that context, I was only saying that the New Covenant is a radical change from the Old, whereas your earlier statement seemed to suggest that it was merely an extension of the same.  
      
respectfully,

Stephen
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87 posted 01-27-2009 04:08 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K




Dear Stephanos,

          The degree to which the New T. arose within the Jewish faith is open to debate.  Certainly once Paul began to accept uncircumcised converts, the differences became more and more clear.  The degree to which Jesus would have accepted the changes that were made is also open to some question.

     Adaptation of scriptural OT sources to proved New T assertions is all to obviously Okay with Christians.  The acceptability of doing so is almost universally accepted by Christian sources.  And Thoreau, when asked about whether on not he was bothered by being a largely local kind of guy stated, "I am widely traveled within Concord."  One can hardly quarrel with a mind that open.

     One may note, however, some of the internal sources that show evidence for the revisionist waves that swept the authors of the New T. when one notes that they do not  consider themselves to be Jews in those incidences where they speak of "the Jews" doing this or that in the narrative.  As though perhaps there were somebody else doing the writing, perhaps martians, or aliens.  These people were being considered as different by the second or third generation of Christians, those who had not been through the actual events of the time.  The Pharisees, who were the beginnings of rabbinic Judaism and were essentially unimportant during that first generation when the Temple and the Priestly class were still utmost in importance, get slurs in the New T.  Pharisees were rivals for the second and third generation Christians or proto-Christians, and the slurs then would be understandable.

     I would call this historical revision.

     I think it may be natural, an outgrowth and accommodation to the politics of the era.  To suggest that the structures in religion don't have them, and that the religions themselves aren't enormously affected by them would be in all probability a mistake.  For both good and ill and usually both at the same time.  In this case, both Christianity and Judaism.

     Thoughts?

Curiously, Bob Kaven

    
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88 posted 01-28-2009 12:19 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
The degree to which the New T. arose within the Jewish faith is open to debate.  Certainly once Paul began to accept uncircumcised converts, the differences became more and more clear.


I don't deny that Christianity became less and less "Jewish" with time, seeing that it was in the main rejected and considered at first, a troublesome Jewish sect.  With the turning to the Gentiles by the Christian Church, it was inevitable that the divide would deepen.  But scholarship is unanimous on the point that Christianity developed from within Jewry, despite its later innovations.  My point previously, was that even granting such innovation, we have something more integrally related than a six-centuries-removed Arabic religious commentary about Christ.  Whether you think Christianity was a proper outflow of the Judaic Religion or not, you are equating two very different things by suggesting that a Koranic estimation of Christ is essentially the same as a New Testament view of the Old Testament.  And you still didn't explain to me why, when you set the context of a continuum of Old/New Covenant, that you protested when I responded in that context?  It seems to me that you were saying that the New Covenant was an extension of the Mosaic Covenant to all the world.  Maybe that's not what you were saying at all (you haven't responded).  I was simply challenging what I perceived you were saying, from the viewpoint of the New Covenant itself.  If you expected me to respond from a different perspective, I can't figure out why you commented on the New Covenant at all.

quote:
One may note, however, some of the internal sources that show evidence for the revisionist waves that swept the authors of the New T. when one notes that they do not  consider themselves to be Jews in those incidences where they speak of "the Jews" doing this or that in the narrative.  As though perhaps there were somebody else doing the writing, perhaps martians, or aliens.


I think you're probably mainly referring to the Gospel of John.  I don't think such references to "The Jews" warrants the allegation of revisionism.  This is especially true if the Christian community, from quite early on, began to acquire a unique religious identity.  The Greek word for "Jews" in John's Gospel was also used in three different ways, depending on the context; 1) as the entire Jewish people as an ethnic group 2) The religious leaders and 3) Judeans.  I think denying that the authors were Jewish, or seeing anti-semitism in these statements (when the criticisms were not about ethnic generalities at all, but ethical particulars), is wrong, and a difficult case to make.  This difficulty is especially exacerbated by Pauline appeals to Jewish integrity in the New Testament.  The bottom line is that any contemporaneous Jewish criticism (in the text) can be explained away as anachronistic antisemitism, and any appeal to Jewish integrity as patronization.

quote:
The Pharisees, who were the beginnings of rabbinic Judaism and were essentially unimportant during that first generation when the Temple and the Priestly class were still utmost in importance, get slurs in the New T.  Pharisees were rivals for the second and third generation Christians or proto-Christians, and the slurs then would be understandable.


Whoa, don't be so ambitious there.   To say that they were not yet the religious ruling class, and that they were not prominent are two different things.  If we can believe Josephus, it was not unheard of for a priest to be a Pharisee, before the advent of Rabbinic Judaism.  Besides, if you read the Gospels closely, you'll find no Pharisee described as a political persecutor of Jesus.  Rather, it was a Sadducean High Priest and his family who got Jesus arrested.  That doesn't mean that Jesus didn't have some run-ins with the Pharisees as an influential religious sect, which is exactly what is described.  Also, since there are only three sources of information at all about the Pharisees, its quite a hasty thing in my opinion to discount one-third as inauthentic based upon a thin suspicion of prochronism.

quote:
I would call this historical revision ...

To suggest that the structures in religion don't have them, and that the religions themselves aren't enormously affected by them would be in all probability a mistake.


I'm not suggesting that one's current mindset does not inevitably influence the way past events are described.  (Historical Revision is still a more serious allegation than that).  What I am suggesting is that that your comparison is somewhat unwarranted, not in spite of, but because of Higher Criticism.

As always, thanks for the stimulating discourse,

Stephen          
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     Alas, Stephanos, I do not believe that anybody could believe in the New T. without feeling smug about it.  The feeling of smugness in and of itself is not the problem.  Mind you, it should be the problem, but it is not.  Given the nature of God as seen by the Peoples of the Book, God might be Feared or Loved, but smugness would indicate your worship is of your status and not your God.  It may be better than nothing, or it may be a form of idolatry, which might not be so swell.  It surely isn't Love.  

     The problem is that most of the People of the Book share that same smugness about their own definition of the faith, and in the end nobody can stand anybody else's smugness because it implies criticism of their own.  Christians have terrible trouble with the smugness of the Muslims and the Jews, Muslims have trouble  with the Jews and Christians, the Jews have troubles with the Christians and Muslims and round and round she goes.

     Within these major groups people have often been willing to go for the throat over issues too small for folks outside that group to quite understand.  Over the last hundred years or so the Bahai have been hunted almost to extermination by Muslims, especially in Iraq.  There was at least one crusade leading to the extermination of a Christian group in the south of France (lest the Muslims fear that they get all the glory).

     This particular brand of Monotheism is deeply flawed in this area, exactly where it should be the strongest.  

     The smugness, by the way, is not limited to The New T.  You can find it in the Koran and the Torah as well.

     You suggest that the Christian beliefs, emerging from the Jewish faith as they did, were not highly revisionist very quickly is, I believe, incorrect.  My sense is that there was a wide gap that opened very quickly.  The nature of that gap had to do with the nature of the Covenant, the circumcision that was the mark of the Covenant among the Jews, and the belief that the Messiah had been born and the various attempts to read scripture after that fashion as a literal and immediate event ó the end of the World.  The nature of Messianic fulfillment is of course somewhat different for Jews and Christians.  Had the coming of the Messiah been pretty much as the current Christians believe it to be, there would have been concern but not so much as there was.  The Jewish notion of the Messiah very much includes political and revolutionary elements, and that is something that the Romans kept a very close watch on indeed.  

     Around these issues, a split took place.

     My reading of the two Covenants was an attempt to talk about what was common between the two religions.  My description of the original Covenant is, as I understand it, pretty much an understood element of Jewish belief, though I'd be happy to hear from appropriate Jewish sources that it isn't.  In this regard, I don't accept the authority of non-Jewish source material.  Nor do I think I should.

     Perhaps I'm struggling here toward answering some of your fine questions.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven

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I guess the only difference then, Bob, is that your own smugness seems to be rooted in your absolute relativism.  If you'll pardon the reduction, what you are saying is that you can't really think you're right and still love someone who is wrong.  The only problem for you is that you think you're right about that.  I'm feeling unloved today Bob.  (not really)  

Your view here simply doesn't allow anything to be believed with reasonable certainty, without assuming that such belief entails arrogance.  Self doubt is always healthy.  To doubt there is a truth regarding contrary claims is false humility.

Love to God, entails a kind of loyalty that others may always interpret as clannish.  The caveat is that Christian devotion to God includes much ado about kindness and good works toward one's neighbors, and a reminder that eternal life is a gift, not earned.  It doesn't however make the unreasonable assertion that all contrary beliefs must be affirmed before it can be called real love.


quote:
You suggest that the Christian beliefs, emerging from the Jewish faith as they did, were not highly revisionist very quickly is, I believe, incorrect.


I understand that you do.  However, I think you have continued to either misunderstand me, or do a kind of bait-and-switch.  I made a distinction between historical revision and innovation of interpretation (which I haven't denied in the least regarding the New Testament).  The Koranic treatment of the New Testament is a most blatant example of the former, and the New Testament treatment of the Jewish bible the latter.  Whether that new interpretation is something you find coherent as regards the Old Testament, is another discussion entirely.  Given the person of Jesus himself, I could go into a good bit of detail of why the denial of his claims of Messiah is a mistaken conclusion.  The reason I wouldn't want to, and the reason why I think it would be perhaps a waste of time, is that your challenge of my stance wouldn't be from a Jewish perspective either, but from a "We-Are-The-World-Nobody-Should-Think-They're-Right" position (which I am sure is more inconsistent than anything you've described by way of Jewish, Muslim, or Christian thought).  Your attempts to show that the Christian Faith was a radical shift, are successful.  Your attempts at showing that the New Testament contains historical anachronisms are not.  And your attempts to show that all are smug except relativists are not.      


quote:
My reading of the two Covenants was an attempt to talk about what was common between the two religions.  My description of the original Covenant is, as I understand it, pretty much an understood element of Jewish belief, though I'd be happy to hear from appropriate Jewish sources that it isn't.  In this regard, I don't accept the authority of non-Jewish source material.  Nor do I think I should.


I would be less concerned with correcting your view of the Mosaic Covenant, than I would be with your statement about the New Covenant as an extension of the Law.  Again, did I totally misunderstand you here?  


But as a Christian who still embraces the Old Testament as God's Word, I am somewhat interested in your take on the Mosaic Covenant.  As to your view about the Law being given so that God would never do anything like asking for Abraham's Son... Can you cite me something that would support it, or elaborate?

Later,

Stephen
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There is not a single Old T Covenant, but a series, as I'm sure you know.  Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  The one I was talking about had to do with the sacrifice of Isaac, and is the Abrahamic Covenant.  It's hard to pick up stuff from a Jewish perspective on the net; apparently the Christians are the ones who seem to be doing the publishing, and their interest is somewhat different, but I found what looks to be a decent interview with a Rabbi on the subject.  It might open things up a little for you.  I was despairing, thinking that maybe my memory had failed me, but apparently it's still doing fairly well.  Let me know what you think, please.

https://web2.securelytransact.com/~shabbats/site/1/docs/abraham_interview.pdf


Hope it's useful for you.  All my best,  Bob Kaven
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     My own smugness is a terrible character flaw, actually.  I am also stuffy; and being a fool, tend to have a terrible time dealing with other people's foolishness.  It's easier to dislike when it's out there than when I have to look at it inside.

     Should Ron be looking at the above statements and nodding his head about armchair psychoanalysis, I'd have to disagree.  Real psychoanalysis, and part of the harvest of some ten years work.

     "Psychoanalysis aims to replace neurotic suffering with ordinary unhappiness."  Sigmund Freud.

  We're all get occasional novocaine injections into the part of us that is able to feel love coming in.  Wrong side of the bed, loud neighbors, difficult shifts, ordinary stuff.  Sometimes we simply forget to pay attention to the people who love us.  The last one's most common for me.  You actually are a good witness, even when you're a bit down, simply by being yourself and sharing that.  I thank you for that; it's something I've always appreciated.

     I am an agnostic, not a relativist.  In terms of religion or ethics, I'm uncertain what a relativist actually would be.  All I hold out for is that I have insufficient knowledge to assert the certainty of the existence of God.  At moments of over-weaning arrogance, I'd go so far as to say that at this point in time it's a stretch for anybody to make such an assertion other than on the basis of faith.  I admire faith of that sort, being of an existential frame of mind fairly frequently, but I think that faith is a different order of data than proof.

     You've slotted me in as a relativist a number of times.  One gentleman even confused my thinking with that of relativity.  Einstein, who was known to become upset at having his theory about space-time, light, mass and possibly geometry being confused with a theory about ethics that he did not particularly agree with was impatient with that confusion.  My objection is much more basic:  I don't believe everybody is right, as examination of my postings about torture, for example, would let you know.  And I have strong biases in favor of human rights and civil rights and democracy.  I can only feel chagrined that I have been unsuccessful in communicating the centrality of these things to my sense of values, and of the centrality of my sense that the necessity of love of our fellows should play in our daily lives.

     These values alone are enough to place me in an ongoing tug of war as they sometimes come in conflict with each other in the ordinary ongoing process of life.  The wrestling match between uniqueness and community that the late Nels Ferre spoke of, the tension between wishing not to be locked out and hating to be fenced in.

     But Relativist?  No.  I am more thorny than that.


My best to you and your family.  Affectionately, Bob Kaven

[This message has been edited by Bob K (01-29-2009 03:16 AM).]

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Bob:
quote:
My own smugness is a terrible character flaw, actually.


And if you ever detect it in me, I only ask you to allow me the same folly ... not to ipso facto connect it to a world-view with truth-claims.  I've demonstrated many times, I think, that all the way from warfare to simple rudeness, we are all subject to this possibility.  (Original sin is not just religious after all))  Whether the epithet "relativist" fits you or not, you don't seem too fond of anything conclusive.  And it's just been my experience that a denial of "Truth" can be as absolutist as anything.

And by the way, I never really thought you were smug, I only thought you were wrong about whether someone could believe in Christ and still love (God, the Jews, others). I only said you were smug according to your own standards, since it was obvious you thought you were right.

quote:
At moments of over-weaning arrogance, I'd go so far as to say that at this point in time it's a stretch for anybody to make such an assertion other than on the basis of faith.


Who ever said it wasn't faith?

quote:
I admire faith of that sort, being of an existential frame of mind fairly frequently, but I think that faith is a different order of data than proof.


You're right.  I would just add that proof is a different order of data than evidence.  Faith may be antithetical to the former, but not the latter.  And actually, if belief in God has anything to do with love and commitment and other matters of the heart, then the indisputable is out of place don't you think?  Still that doesn't leave us with complete fideism.

quote:
I don't believe everybody is right, as examination of my postings about torture, for example, would let you know.  And I have strong biases in favor of human rights and civil rights and democracy.  I can only feel chagrined that I have been unsuccessful in communicating the centrality of these things to my sense of values, and of the centrality of my sense that the necessity of love of our fellows should play in our daily lives.


That's good Bob;  Nothing disputed here.  I guess I would only add that democratic philosophy shouldn't rule out the possibility of conclusions.  Christians, no matter how much they love and respect the Jews (our entire religious substructure and heritage comes from them), must still believe that those particular Jews who got a good view of Jesus and rejected him, missed the centrality of their own faith, their promised Messiah.  It's unavoidable.  Certain views (at their root) are antithetical, even among those who respect democracy and choose love.  You've got a point in objecting to the bad examples, though I've never understood why they always come up when a conclusive statement is made ... when I'm probably more pacifist (mostly in an attempt to be true to the pacifism of Christ) than most anyone you'll meet.        


quote:
But Relativist?  No.  I am more thorny than that.


I've never met a relativist who wasn't.  The difference is, you (like myself) admit that you're not.

Thanks for the articles by the way.  So far they have been very interesting.

Stephen
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     In Christian writing the same word is used to mean something a bit different than the generally understood use of the word in Hebrew; and that's if I understand the issue correctly myself.  I may not.  The use of the word as Jesus uses it in the New T is more in line with the traditional Jewish meaning of the term, which is much more political and specifically focused on here and now political change in taking back the geography of Israel for the literal people of Israel as they were seen (roughly) at the time of Jesus.  It had a political/military meaning more than anything else.  It had to do with the end of exile, not the end of times and not a reunion in heaven.  Theology of that era is a surprise to me, the more I find out about it.  There seems to have been some belief in resurrection at that time that seems to have been played down or vanished from most Jewish doctrine in the meantime.  I'm still looking about on that.

     Two very different views of Messiah.  

     Jesus did not in fact fit the Jewish view of the Messiah. And the Christian view of the Messiah has undergone considerable evolution over the past couple of millennia to arrive at the place where it is today.  The Christian message is a good message, but the business about it being not of this earth made it very much at odds with Jewish doctrine.  The expectation, even among early Christians, was that Jesus would return at any moment to lead his people to victory and throw the Romans out of Israel.

     The longer that event was put off, the more the definition of Messiah had to stretch to account of the difference.

     Would I have rushed to join a rebellion against Rome at that time?  I think I'd listen to what Jesus had to say.  I'd see him as a religious rather than a military leader, and I'd rather listen to a religious message than get crucified for rebellion.  I think I'd back off as he claims to be the messiah got louder, or the louder he allowed other people's claims for him to become.  He simply didn't fit as a Jewish Messiah, and the rules had to change considerably for him to become the Messiah he is today.

     Sorry Stephanos, I disagree with you about this one.

     This is one of the reasons why the New T allows the use of the term The Jews, as though Jesus wasn't a Jew.  The notion of Messiah changed a lot very quickly once a flood of converts with no actual Jewish education and no basic understanding of the Culture were brought in under the influence of St. Paul.  In my opinion, I should add, certainly.

All my best, Bob Kaven
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Bob:
quote:
The use of the word as Jesus uses it in the New T is more in line with the traditional Jewish meaning of the term, which is much more political and specifically focused on here and now political change in taking back the geography of Israel for the literal people of Israel as they were seen (roughly) at the time of Jesus.  It had a political/military meaning more than anything else.


Yes, Jesus distanced himself from the contemporary popular understanding of Messiah.  From a Christian perspective, he did not deny the office (so to speak), but the misguided understanding of what it meant ... a charismatic warlord.  When I say that the Jews who rejected Jesus, missed their Messiah, I am taking a more global view of the corpus of scriptures they possessed.  Yes there are triumphal scriptures that speak of the promised one, which could be interpreted in a political fashion (if not eschatological).  But there are also Messianic passages that do not fit this category at all, those of the "suffering servant".  Hey, I'm not throwing stones.  Even the closest of his disciples didn't understand the words they didn't want to understand, concerning his crucifixion.  Though the Jewish Messianic scriptures, as a whole, are best explained in the person of Jesus Christ ... I do understand that Jesus was nothing like the contemporary expectation of Messiah.    

quote:
Two very different views of Messiah.


The Old Testament "view" of Messiah is quite broader than the view you describe.  We could consider some of the passages I am thinking of.

  
quote:
The Christian message is a good message, but the business about it being not of this earth made it very much at odds with Jewish doctrine.


It is more about a disagreement of priority, than the introduction of a Gnostic kind of dualism.  Jesus said that whoever wished to "save his life" would lose it, and yet promises life in abundance and corporeal resurrection to boot.  It is more of a warning against refusing God in pretense of "living", than a disavowal of living life in this world.  The Jews themselves should understand this principle.  They believe that God had a purpose for their Captivity.  If it were all about "this earth", and not higher purposes, that would make no sense.  All along the Jews were called to be "different" than the nations around them, in understanding heavenly things.  The message of Jesus was a reiteration of a principle that shouldn't have been altogether foreign to them, notwithstanding their nebulous understanding of resurrection and the life-to-come.

quote:
The expectation, even among early Christians, was that Jesus would return at any moment to lead his people to victory and throw the Romans out of Israel.


Only to the degree that they shared the flawed Messianic expectation (which was not all wrong mind you) of their fellow Jews.  There are many instances in the Gospels where this expectation (of some of his closest followers) is opposed and corrected by Jesus himself.  The belief that all such corrective elements were anachronistically imposed on the text is difficult to support, except by sheer suspicion.  And I guess for some, that is enough.

quote:
This is one of the reasons why the New T allows the use of the term The Jews, as though Jesus wasn't a Jew.  The notion of Messiah changed a lot very quickly once a flood of converts with no actual Jewish education and no basic understanding of the Culture were brought in under the influence of St. Paul.  In my opinion, I should add, certainly.


The only place I'm aware of that this occurs is in the book of John, in which the fact that Jesus was Jewish is not obscured in the least.  At very most the term "Jews" is described in a religious sense that opposed Jesus himself and the earliest Christians.  Much more likely, it was used as a term for the religious leaders themselves, which is a quite natural rendering in the context it is used.  This specified use of the word can be documented in the book of John, among other places.  If your view is to be plausible, there should be more evidence of the Jewishness of Jesus being hidden or obscured in the New Testament.  If there was an antedated attempt by the Christians to distance themselves from a Jewish ethnicity and religious heritage, then it was a very poor job.  
    

Stephen
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quote:
  Stephanos:
The only place I'm aware of that this occurs is in the book of John, in which the fact that Jesus was Jewish is not obscured in the least.  At very most the term "Jews" is described in a religious sense that opposed Jesus himself and the earliest Christians.  Much more likely, it was used as a term for the religious leaders themselves, which is a quite natural rendering in the context it is used.  This specified use of the word can be documented in the book of John, among other places.  If your view is to be plausible, there should be more evidence of the Jewishness of Jesus being hidden or obscured in the New Testament.  If there was an antedated attempt by the Christians to distance themselves from a Jewish ethnicity and religious heritage, then it was a very poor job.




     A very poor job from your perspective perhaps, but certainly a good enough job to lay an excellent foundation for some pretty difficult behavior based on exactly this misunderstanding.  I do know that it came as a rude shock to most of my schoolmates in Canton, Ohio that Jesus was a Jew and that he'd never pretended to be otherwise.  It certainly earned me a black eye or two from  classmates who knew better.

     Certainly nobody was in any hurry to correct them, either.

quote:
Stephanos:

Only to the degree that they shared the flawed Messianic expectation (which was not all wrong mind you) of their fellow Jews.  There are many instances in the Gospels where this expectation (of some of his closest followers) is opposed and corrected by Jesus himself.  The belief that all such corrective elements were anachronistically imposed on the text is difficult to support, except by sheer suspicion.  And I guess for some, that is enough.




     "The flawed messianic expectation [. . .] of their fellow Jews" is not a reasoned turn of phrase because you haven't specified frame of reference.  In fact , you find the messianic expectation of those Jews flawed, presuming that you know more about them than they do.  I would suggest that this is not so.  They would likely have been more expert about themselves and their belief systems than you would be.

     The Christian judgement would have this to be the case because the Christians have re-written the book on what messianic expectations are.  This is not wrong; it's what beliefs tend to do.  To impose that belief system on Jews of that time is, however, likely to be revisionist history.  Jesus' statements about being the messiah are cagey statements, and have been much interpreted.  What is clear is that he was hardly straightforward, but tended to make statements that undercut each other and edge into the elliptical.  I bring not peace but the sword and render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and render unto God that which is God's can be read any number of different ways.  Which, one suspects, is the nature of many a spiritual statement on the one hand, and which is a very non-messianic statement in the traditional Jewish sense of that time in the other.

     We do have some idea that some attempt was being made to cover the bases with the original doctrine from some of the statements of St. Paul, who tends to give us reason to believe that the followers of Jesus believed and had been lead to believe that the return of Jesus would not be put off for more that 2000 years but was actually likely to come with the next knock on the door.  This may well have been the origin of the "better to marry than to burn" business.

     At any rate, your statement of the case against the two different messianic concepts  doesn't seem to me to feel as solid as it does to you.  I can't and don't say all elements were imposed later on an intractable text.  "All" is something well beyond my competence to consider.  Enough to say that not excepting Jesus as the Messiach would be an understandable course of action, at least for many; and I 'd have to say yes, this is understandable to me.

     To have it result in a man's death, no, this is an abomination to me, and it is and was wrong.  Given that in all likelihood the Romans thought him guilty of sedition, I doubt that they would have allowed him to live, whatever the biblical story says.  For sedition. crucifixion was the penalty, and the penalty seldom stopped with one.  Check with Josephus on that; I believe he gets fairly detailed about what happened to the rebels and their families and their towns and villages.

Yours, Bob Kaven  
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Bob:
quote:
'The flawed messianic expectation  of their fellow Jews' is not a reasoned turn of phrase because you haven't specified frame of reference.  In fact , you find the messianic expectation of those Jews flawed, presuming that you know more about them than they do.  I would suggest that this is not so.  They would likely have been more expert about themselves and their belief systems than you would be.



That's not always the case Bob.  Familiarity sometimes breeds its own set of problems.  Ever take your wife for granted?  Hindsight can be 20/20 (though I'm certainly open to the fact that I may not be seeing nearly what I should).  Surely you're not suggesting that proximity always guarantees the most insight?  While I concede the point (I already did unequivocally) that the Christian Church should have no sense of arrogance, it would be wrong to think that outsiders (so to speak) cannot sometimes know better than denizens.  Sons who stay home the whole time are not always closest in heart, and don't always get what prodigals do.  Jewish thought itself is not without this idea:  "...I will make them envious by those who are not a people.  I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding." (Deuteronomy 32:21)  

As far as boasting a greater accomplishment of knowledge on my part, I'm not claiming that at all.  What I am claiming is that it is a fact that they focused more on a certain stratum of scriptures, than upon others that also speak into the promise.  Triumphalist scriptures about a king reigning in majesty poured for them a blinding golden light.  The scriptures about a suffering servant, bearing the weight of sin and grief by the will of God, did not register too much in their Messianic Theology for that reason.  Many of them simply didn't understand enough the significance of such scriptures to recognize him when he came ... many of them did.

quote:
The Christian judgement would have this to be the case because the Christians have re-written the book on what messianic expectations are.  This is not wrong; it's what beliefs tend to do.


Yes, but my support of the Christian version of "Messianic Scripture" is based upon a wider reading of Jewish scripture than just those scriptures that are easily fitted into images of a political victor.  Because of Christ, the Christians interpreted these scriptures in a different way, I grant you.  I am arguing that this interpretation makes better sense of the whole, and is in fact fuller, in that it incorporates together what the Jews saw as disparate and unrelated ideas.

quote:
To impose that belief system on Jews of that time is, however, likely to be revisionist history.


Bob, they didn't impose the Christian view of Messiah on the Jews, as historical revision.  As a matter of fact they plainly reported what you are saying ... that the then current expectation of Messiah was that of a political conqueror of their enemies.  In fact in the text, this view is not only criticized in those Jews who vigorously opposed Jesus, but also when it obstinately crops up in those sypathetic with him and even his own disciples.

Where is the evidence for historical revision again?

quote:
What is clear is that he was hardly straightforward, but tended to make statements that undercut each other and edge into the elliptical.  I bring not peace but the sword and render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and render unto God that which is God's can be read any number of different ways.


I would never attempt to reduce the words and manners of Jesus to a tame little set of aphorisms, easy to file and a cinch to understand.  While they hold a profound simplicity on one hand, they are perplexing as well.  Still, the pardox is overstated.  Context is still the rule of good exegesis of scripture.  And those who would interpret the passages about swords in a literal way, are stumped altogether by surrounding context and actions.  Jesus was in fact, constantly challenging the tendency of zealotism, leaving us no mystery of what he thought of it ... though perhaps he did sympathize with zealots themselves, and saw something true in their misguided desire for what they thought was freedom.  A metaphorical interpretation is more cogent in this case, seeing that Peter was rebuked for using the sword.  A sword can be said to divide.  And all of this was happening in a time when following Christ could cause much chaos and separation.  While these texts are more elastic than many Western Christians would want them to be, they are not eternally accommodating, except by leaving the path of good exegetical sense.


quote:
We do have some idea that some attempt was being made to cover the bases with the original doctrine from some of the statements of St. Paul, who tends to give us reason to believe that the followers of Jesus believed and had been lead to believe that the return of Jesus would not be put off for more that 2000 years but was actually likely to come with the next knock on the door.  This may well have been the origin of the "better to marry than to burn" business.


You may have something there about the expectation of the earliest Christians.  But from the statements of Jesus himself, it is not so simple.  Often he spoke not of "The Second Coming" (a later doctrinal description), but of "the coming of the Kingdom in Power".  This was fulfilled when he was crucified and resurrected, and when the Spirit was poured out on a nascent Church during the feast of Pentecost.  But he also spoke of a consummate "coming" at the end of the present age (such as in the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24).  There is no proof whatsoever (from the standpoint of textual scholarship) that these were later addendums to gloss over a different turn of events than was initially described.

A much more likely explanation of "better to marry than to burn", is the issue of self control and sin, in light of Jewish teaching about sexual purity.  There is absolutely nothing about that particular Pauline text which would demand anything more.


quote:
At any rate, your statement of the case against the two different messianic concepts  doesn't seem to me to feel as solid as it does to you.


I've already admitted two different messianic concepts.  But I'm only admitting one body of prophetic data (The Jewish oracles) ... and arguing that one of those concepts makes fuller sense of that data, especially in light of the person of Jesus Christ.

quote:
To have it result in a man's death, no, this is an abomination to me, and it is and was wrong.


Do you forget that the Christian view is not so simplistic as to fail to say the crucifixion was dreadfully wrong?  The Christian view is that, in the hands of God, even the most "dreadfully wrong" atrocities of men are not the end of the story.  


quote:
Given that in all likelihood the Romans thought him guilty of sedition, I doubt that they would have allowed him to live, whatever the biblical story says.


Uh, Bob, all Christians already agree with you on that one.  They didn't allow him to live.


quote:
For sedition. crucifixion was the penalty, and the penalty seldom stopped with one.  Check with Josephus on that; I believe he gets fairly detailed about what happened to the rebels and their families and their towns and villages.


Why are you referring me to Josephus regarding the efficacy of Roman execution?  Do you think that the Christian glory and hope is pinned in the mercy or mishap of the Roman Guards?  It has traditionally been the Christians arguing for the certainty of Christ's death, against the "swoon" theorists.  I could understand you telling me that you plainly don't believe the Resurrection, but to argue as if Christians believed that Jesus was merely "allowed to live" is baffling.  Maybe I misunderstood you.

Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (01-31-2009 12:18 AM).]

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quote:
A very poor job from your perspective perhaps, but certainly a good enough job to lay an excellent foundation for some pretty difficult behavior based on exactly this misunderstanding.  I do know that it came as a rude shock to most of my schoolmates in Canton, Ohio that Jesus was a Jew and that he'd never pretended to be otherwise.  It certainly earned me a black eye or two from  classmates who knew better.

     Certainly nobody was in any hurry to correct them, either.

Sorry, I forgot to reply to this.


These guys should've read the New Testament.  Their actions and attitudes surely weren't consistent with it.

However when you said to them that Jesus didn't pretend to be "otherwise" than a Jew, I wonder what you meant exactly.  Did Jesus claim to be nothing more than another pious Jew?  Nothing Messianic, nothing about being God's Son?  

Stephen
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Dear Stephanos,

          Jesus wasn't the first Jew to claim to be the Messiah, nor was he the last.  You live within the time of the proclamation of the most recent Jewish messiah, Menachim Schneerson, seventh Lubavitcher rebbe, who died in 1994, whose followers proclaimed him the messiah. He certainly presided over a large Jewish community at a time when Jews began to return to Israel and the traditional Passover toast ó "Next year in Jerusalem" ó became an active possibility, and Schneerson was one of those active in bringing that about.

     Jesus, on the other had, lived at a time of dispersal.  Most of the Jews of his time were unconvinced by his claims and his followers had to radically redefine the concept of what a Jew actually was to gain something that appeared to be a Jewish following.  

     Much of the tension between Jews and Christians has been at the Christian insistence that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah; and, by extension, the Messiah of all of mankind
that would accept Him as their personal Savior.  It has generally been a sore point that The Jews have not gone along, and have in fact disagreed with the initial part of the statement.  The Jewish Messiah is for the Jews to recognize.  Nobody else has the requisite qualifications.

     I happen to think that the message Jesus offers is a great and majestic message, and worthy of founding a magnificent faith upon.  

     In reading the Biography of Maimonides that I've been working through recently, I came upon an interesting distinction that Maimonides made in Guide of the Perplexed that apparently Spinoza made as well some 500 years later.  Good and Evil, they say, are socially determined; True and False are scientific issues.

     I understand that you, Stephanos, believe in only a single correct answer for whether there has been a Christos or not.  That will be the case if you say that the Messiah of the Jews was Jesus, because then you put the decision into the hands of the Jews, who generally happen to disagree with you.  They disagreed then, and they disagree now and they disagreed pretty much the whole time along the line when somebody wasn't literally holding a gun to their heads or a knife to their throats.

     Among other things I've learned in doing some reading of the Abraham and Isaac story has to do with the perspective placed on it.  In the Torah, the story is about Abraham's relationship with God, at least on the surface.  One of the commentators brought up the consequences of the whole thing in terms of Isaac.  It passes unremarked on in the text, but after Isaac's reprieve, no mention is ever made of his having contact with Abraham again.  That appears to have done it for the father-son connection.  Something was sacrificed on that pile of wood up there after all, and there is something to be learned about the nature of love and betrayal from the story, and what may be healed and what may not be healed, that seems to have evaded our scrutiny.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven


 
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