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Showing posts from January, 2011

How inserting chapter & verse markers changed the Bible

There were no chapter divisions in the Bible before the 13th century CE -- a Frenchman and professor at the University of Paris inserted them. His name was Stephen Cardinal Langton, later archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1228).  The Scriptures were without chapter divisions for over 1,300 years after the books were written.
Another 300 years would pass before the chapters would be divided into verses.  The first phase took place in 1528 when Santes Pagnino, O.P., inserted verse markers in the Old Testament.  The second phase took place in 1551 when Robert Stephens published his Greek edition of the New Testament with verse markers.  
Most people begin and end their scripture readings at these markers. There are many examples in which the markers are clearly in the wrong place, thereby significantly affecting the contextual environment. Let’s assume you are watching what was created to be a 30 minute long television program, but someone inserted “the end” at the 22 minute mark. Then, what is…

Who was the first Christ in the Bible?

Dr. Ike Tennison, president of the Biblical Heritage Center,  provides the answer for the question -- Who was the first Christ in the Bible?

A common assumption among people is that “Christ” was the last name of Jesus.  There is good reason for this assumption, since he was called “Jesus Christ” in the New Testament itself.  The more accurate phrase, however, is “Jesus the Christ”, because “Christ” is a title and not a name.
 The name Jesus is a succession of transliterations (i.e., simply converting the letters of one language into the equivalent letters of another language): English from Latin from Greek from Hebrew (see Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:31 for the name).
Christ, on the other hand, is a transliteration of the Greek word christos into English.  The Greek word christos, a form of the Greek verb chrio that means "to pour," is a translation of the Hebrew word mashiach, from which we get the word "Messiah."  Both words, “Christ” and “Messiah”, mean "anointed&…

The power to imagine massive exterminationist and eliminationist projects.

I read a very interesting book, Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Below is a quote that I found to be very interesting in light of the rising political tensions today.
"Those governing societies must deal with people’s desires to shape their own destinies and to influence their political systems. They can incorporate people into politics and accept social and cultural pluralism. Or they must repress and reduce pluralism that threatens them, which has a self-reinforcing propensity to make them want to reduce pluralism further.
What great power does first is make it plausible for political leaders, and even for common people, to imagine massive exterminationist and eliminationist projects and to imagine them in a new way, as something doable. In no previous era have political leaders dreamed of disposing of hundreds of thousands, millions, or tens of millions of people, which political leaders of our time – and not…

Should the teachings of Jesus be a higher priority than doctrines about Jesus?

When I first started working with scholars involved in the study of the Jewish Jesus it was pointed out that the "scriptural authority" upon which important Christian doctrines were based was the words of Paul. As institutional belief systems developed, adherence to the doctrines of the Church became the standard used to determine who was a "believer" and who was not. As time passed the words of Jesus, as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels, seem to have been moved to a lower position of importance. Many people are able to say what should or shouldn't be believed about Jesus, but cannot explain what Jesus taught.

The question that I would like to have some feedback on is this -- Should understanding the words of Jesus, as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels, be a highest priority than doctrines about Jesus?

Picking Grain on the Sabbath

Bible Verse
"One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, `Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?'” (Luke 6:1-2)

Culture Clues
The general opinion was that on the Sabbath it was permissible to pick up fallen heads of grain and rub them between the fingers.According to Rabbi Yehuda, also a Galilean, it was even permissible to rub them in one’s hand.Some of the Pharisees found fault with Jesus’ disciples for behaving in accordance with their Galilean tradition.The Greek translator of the original evidently was unacquainted with the customs of the people.  To make the scene more vivid, he added the statement about plucking the wheat and thus introduced the one and only act of transgression of the law recorded in the Synoptic tradition. (From The Sage of Galilee by David Flusser; p. 35)

Whose meanings should we use?

We all think, act, and communicate in ways that are primarily predetermined by our culture.We didn't choose our culture any more than we chose our parents.We just arrived and found ourselves in a particular family and culture.  Since a culture plays such an important role it is very important to understand what it means:
Culture is the whole behavior and technology of any people that is passed on from generation to generation.Culture consists of the knowledge, beliefs, morals, laws, religion, customs, concepts, habits, skills, institutions, and any other capabilities of a given people in a given period. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz provides additional information:
A culture is more than a set of rules to guide behavior; it is a comprehensive worldview and way of relating to one's fellow human beings.Like all complex cultures, Jewish culture does not spell everything out literally, but leaves much to inference.A culture's strength lies not only in what it says, but also in what it ch…

What is Jesus? & Who was Jesus?

What is Jesus? Before you jump to an answer, please look at the question again. I didn’t ask – Who was Jesus?
If you have been reading my articles and newsletters, then you know that since 1984 I have been engaged in research focused on answering the second question. Since that time a tremendous amount of information about the historical Jesus has come forth.
The first question, however, is not about the Jewish man who taught in Galilee, Samaria and Judea. It is about what Jesus means to many people today. Jesus, for many, means life after death, hope, community, forgiveness, happiness, right values, and truth.
The more we learn about the historical Jesus, Yeshua the Mashiach, the greater the gap becomes between him and the theologies our churches taught us about Jesus Christ.
One of the great challenges facing us today is how to reconcile “what Jesus is” with the information about “who Jesus was.” At the extremes, some have chosen to leave the religion that taught them about what Jesus…

Garden in Eden

After YAHWEH made the man, He took him on an eastward journey to a place named Eden. YAHWEH planted a garden there and placed the man in his newly planted garden. He then caused the trees to begin to grow. The narrator has clearly placed the spotlight on YAHWEH, the man, and the two trees. 

YAHWEH made the man from soil west of Eden, but the name of that place is not given. Eden, the name of the place where the garden was located, is given, but nothing is said about what it was -- a region, a country, etc. Was it the only placed named at that time, or was it one among others? Another interesting point is that nothing is said about any other forms of plant life, other than trees.


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