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Showing posts from July, 2013

Divine Blindness, Pre-Birth Sins & Reincarnation?

Does God make people blind from birth to prove a point? 
Does God make a child blind from birth because of his parents sins? 
Or, does God make a person blind from birth because of sins he or she committed in a past life? 

Many years ago, Dr. Ike Tennison and I were working with the Greek text of the Gospel of John. Ike, who had also been my professor of Classical Greek at the University of Texas at Arlington, pointed out that the earliest manuscripts of the text were written in letters that were all capitals, in columns, without any chapter, verse, sentence or word breaks. The text we were working on that day presented us withe options described in the three questions above. Interestingly, Jesus was also faced with those options in the text we were translating. What do you think?
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Taking the Jew Out of Jesus---and Putting It Back

In a recent radio interview, Dr. Bernard Starr (psychologist, journalist and college professor) showed how classical artworks washed out all traces of Judaism in the personae of Jesus, his family, and followers -- despite the fact that they were all dedicated practicing Jews throughout their lives. The process of totally Christianizing the Jesus circle placed an artificial wedge between Judaism and Christianity that remained in place for centuries. Nowhere in these artworks is there a hint of the subjects' Jewish identities or origins.
One example of this is Bartolome Esteban Murillo's sixteenth century painting The Baptism of Christ, which pictures John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. John is holding a crucifix staff, thus telling the viewer that this is a Christian event and a Christian conversion. The fact is that there was no Christianity at the time of this baptism, nor did John or Jesus have any intention or desire to launch a new religion. Neither Jesus nor John ever heard …

Jesus was not a Christian and why it matters

For over three hundred years early Christians wrestled with the question of who Jesus was. Becoming aware of their arguments is just as important as their answers to that very important question.  Amanda Witmer’s new article – Jesus was not a Christian and why it matters – provides some very interesting insights on the subject.

“Within scholarship on Jesus, a fundamental distinction is made between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith. This allows scholars to differentiate between what we can know about Jesus’ life as a historical figure and how the early Christian community came to view him through the lens of faith. Obviously there is overlap between the two; the earliest followers of Jesus drew on both their encounter with the man, Jesus and theological reflections on his life, death and resurrection.
“How clearly the line should be drawn between the two is debated among scholars. Those who are more conservative theologically will tend to see more continuity between Jesus o…

5 Rabbis Explain Jesus

For every complex question, as H.L. Mencken once put, there is usually an answer that is "clear, simple and wrong." His observation rings true when it comes to a question I get at least once a week. What do Jews believe about Jesus?
Jews as a group rarely agree on matters of Jewish belief. How could we agree on the essence of another? Yet, we ignore the question at our own peril. What lies behind it is a yearning for a deeper faith and understanding between Christians and Jews. For Christians a better understanding of Judaism leads to a better understanding of Jesus. For Jews it leads to a deeper appreciation of the world's largest faith.
While scholars and historians can give us a critical and detailed picture of the first-century Jewish life in which Jesus lived and taught, rabbis can give us a better picture of his spirituality. What made his message resonate for Jews of the time and ultimately lead to the birth of a new religion?
Read the five intriguing points of view …

Religion and State in Israel

Moshe Koppel, who teaches computer science at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, is the author of two books on the Talmud and co-author of a proposed constitution for the State of Israel, and has published over 100 academic papers in computer science, linguistics, and other disciplines. He is chairman of the Kohelet Policy Forum, a think tank in Jerusalem. His article in Mosaic Magazine provides many interesting insights about political and religious tensions in the modern state of Israel. Regardless of where one stands on the issues involved, it is important to consider the context in which they exist. Koppel’s article is a good place to begin, not only in considering political and religious issues in Israel, but the relationship of religions and the state in America.
“Once, when I was helping to draft a constitutional proposal for the state of Israel, a prominent rabbi urged me to include a provision that would require judges on rabbinical courts to be God-fearing. When I suggested that …