All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.



Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!

10/14/2014

Reflection

Its been over a year now that I've been studying some of the tenets of Judaism.  My study has been largely self directed so it may not be as scholarly or theologically sound compared to a formal study.  I've learned some things that have caused me to grow in ways that I hadn't expected.

  • Jews tend to view the Torah (first five books OT) as literally the word of God.  They view these writings as if God himself drew the very letters on the page.  They study everything about these passages.  They count letters, words, and search for meaning on more levels than a western mind would even conceive of.  They even believe that there is meaning to be discovered within the spaces of the letters themselves.
    • This has caused me to reexamine a basic tenet of Christian thought processes.  I was taught to view and discern scripture as: literal, or figurative, or historical or spiritual in meaning.  You could properly understand a text only by putting it in its proper context.  A text may have limited personal application, but it definitely had a specific universal purpose.  I now reject that methodology.  I haven't figured out how to quantify and express the position I'm now favoring but its much more literal and I hold a deeper reverence for scripture.
  • The Jews have a collection of commentary, debates, points of view, and clarification of scripture that goes back 4,000 years.  This is sometimes referred to as the Oral Law, Talmud, Mishnah.  The modern Christian community is largely ignorant of the contents of this material. (I am too, but I'm working towards correcting that deficiency) The role and acceptance of the Oral Teachings plays a tremendous role in Judeo/Christian thinking even if gentile Christians are unfamiliar with it.
    • The Pharisees of Jesus day were believers in the oral traditions.
    • The Sadducees rejected the oral teachings. 
    • Jesus sided with the Pharisees against the Sadducees.
    • Jesus affirmed/confirmed the oral law.
    • The teachings of Jesus in the Gospels are in similar to the teachings of the Pharisees, however Jesus teachings were more stringent than His contemporaries.
    • There are several passages in the Gospels that are best understood within the frame work of interpretation of Oral Law, among them:
      • Baptism
      • Sexuality
      • Divorce
      • The Sermon on the mount
      • Cleansing the temple
      • Judgment
    • The Sadducees were a minority party during the first century and they were not as well respected as the Pharisees.
    • The Sadducees were what we'd call more secular in their thinking.
    • Surprisingly many priests were Sadducees.
    • Jesus taught against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, interestingly that was one of the topics the Pharisees were also teaching against.
    • Jesus was not put to death by the full Sanhedrin, rather it was an illegal gathering of priests most of whom belonged to the sect of the Sadducees.
    • Had the full Sanhedrin met to hear Jesus's case, it is unlikely that the Pharisees would have been as politically motivated to execute or even punish Him. 
      • In the book of Acts, several years latter, Saul/Paul would be acquitted by the full Sanhedrin due in large part to the Pharisees.
    •  Many Pharisees accepted Jesus as Messiah.
    • The Pharisees who rejected Jesus became the fore runners of the modern Rabbis.
    • They were happy to "borrow" Jesus's teachings and add them to their own understanding of the law.
The main thing is that has been changing is my fundamental understanding of the thought process behind Scripture.  As I change my thinking on the TANAK it is forcing me to change or challenge my thinking on the New Testament. This process is also causing me to consider a different hermeneutic for harmonizing the two bodies of writing.

I have also been rethinking eschatology.  I haven't been able to sort Jewish belief on this topic, but I have looked at some tenets of Islam.  I'm interested to learn more about the Jewish perspective on this largely because the Islamic one is very interesting academically.  It seems the Islamic POV is a near match for what some Christians accept in terms of prophetic imagery, time tables and events.  The main difference is that the Islamic perspective is like looking at a photographic negative to one of the major Christian POVs.

8 comments:

  1. I find it remarkable that you seem to have come to some of these conclusions independently, as far as I can tell. Be sure to check your email.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rabbi B,

    Thanks for the next installment on the Sabbath. I've not read it yet. With any luck I'll get to it before I go to work.

    My study is mostly self directed. Sometimes I come across materials that present information that requires me to dig deeper. When that happens I search for the topic I'm interested in. Since I don't have the experience to determine which materials are "the best" I pick what seems to fit at the moment. I realize this is a faulty method of study, but it does give me experience with the topic and helps me grow my understanding.

    When looking at scriptural topics, I do have several years of learning scripture that helps guide me. So its not like I'm totally starting from scratch.

    Which of my conclusions do you find remarkable?

    ReplyDelete
  3. The ones highlighted below stand out:

    Jesus affirmed/confirmed the oral law.

    The teachings of Jesus in the Gospels are in similar to the teachings of the Pharisees, however Jesus teachings were more stringent than His contemporaries.

    There are several passages in the Gospels that are best understood within the frame work of interpretation of Oral Law, among them:

    ◾Baptism
    ◾Sexuality
    ◾Divorce
    ◾The Sermon on the mount
    ◾Cleansing the temple
    ◾Judgment

    Jesus taught against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, interestingly that was one of the topics the Pharisees were also teaching against.

    Jesus was not put to death by the full Sanhedrin, rather it was an illegal gathering of priests most of whom belonged to the sect of the Sadducees.

    Had the full Sanhedrin met to hear Jesus's case, it is unlikely that the Pharisees would have been as politically motivated to execute or even punish Him.

    Many Pharisees accepted Jesus as Messiah.

    For someone who described his religious background as evangelical in nature, these observations are not the mainstream. You have expressed a sensitivity in understanding that I have not encountered in quite some time.

    My latest email that I sent to you this morning should indicate to you that you have only begun to scratch the surface. We have much to discuss.

    Until then ...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Susan1:16 PM

    Res,

    Have you ever read the historian Josephus? If you haven't you will get the background as to why the Pharisees and the Sadducees hated Jesus.

    These two groups were in control of political and religious life at that time. They came into power after the line of Judges ended. By the time Jesus came onto the scene, they had held sway and control for 40 years.

    So needless to say, they did not appreciate an upstart coming into their midst and rocking the boat. The average people loved Jesus, and the leadership hated him for it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Susan,

    I worked my way through the complete works of Josephus. My biggest deficiency right now isn't historical or factual its a lack of first hand exposure to the oral law. You could say that "you don't know what you don't know", which is true. I've got a decent understanding of history from a traditional western understanding. I also have a pretty good theoretical theology background via the Catholic/Reformation/Counter Reformation tradition. What I don't have is something the early church took for granted, the law and the prophets.

    I've read my way through the Bible more than once. I've got over 40 years of formal church/Sunday school/Jr. High/High school/College and personal study. It's taken me a long time to understand that Jesus wasn't a Christian and He wasn't attempting to convert anyone. Call yes. Convert no. Matt 5:17 Jesus makes a claim about His mission. I want to understand what that claim meant to the people he was making it too. Also, Gal 4:4 makes a claim about the absolute providence and provision of God. My new understanding of a literal revelation has lead me to the concussion that the "fullness" in this verse is talking about more than the date and time but also about the level of spiritual understanding and insight being taught at the time.

    I hope this isn't too much of an answer and that its not too rambling.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Rabbi B,

    I think gentile Christians are woefully ignorant of the TANAK and its implication for Christian faith. For instance the Jewish Ten Commandments are numbered differently than the Catholic and protestant Ten Commandments even though the section of scripture is exactly the same. I doubt that 1 in 500 Christians know what I just typed. If as a group we don't have an understanding of such a basic and arbitrary fact about the most simple part of Mosaic Law, how much more have we missed out on?

    The big argument that you will see among Christians is that you don't have to be a Jew to follow Christ. That is my understanding also. What if I want to fully understand everything God has given to man to know about Him? Then its back to the TANAK. I cannot find anything in the 27 books of the NT that conceptually or factually contradicts the principles of the TANAK. NOTHING. Yes gentile believers are excused from ceremonial law. There is an entire book in the NT laying out the legal rational for that and reconciling the change in ceremonial law. However, I also note that even Paul who penned most of the NT, would not transgress ceremonial law/traditions concerning temple worship.

    I've come to the conclusion that there are 3 books out of the standard Christian scripture that are not written by Jews. The first is Job. Which is probably older than the TORAH. The last two are the Gospel of Luke and Acts. Job of course predated Judaism. Luke and Acts were likely first written as a legal brief for the Roman courts and from an intentionally Greek POV. Everything else was written by men who took for granted a system of theology that I don't understand. But I want to.

    these observations are not the mainstream.

    I've always been a maverick. I'm going to go where the evidence takes me. I trust that God was able to say what we need to hear. I intend to hear as much as I can. I've changed my mind before and I expect I'll change it again. I'm going to keep trying till I get it right or die.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Susan8:20 PM

    I mentioned Josephus because I could never figure out why Jesus would just get so disgusted with the leadership of the time, and why they in turn were so upset by Jesus.

    Reading that one section of Josephus was like a light bulb going off in my head. I have always loved learning the WHY of stuff in the Bible.

    Jesus was there to plant the seeds for his Father to grow. You are correct that he wasn't there to convert really. He led by example by living his life according to the will of his Father.

    One thing I have learned about study Res is don't be discouraged if you don't get it at first, or if it seems overwhelming.
    If God wants you to know something You Will Know It. Mostly, it just takes paying attention and lots of study and talk with God.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Susan,

    I'm afraid I didn't do a very good job explaining my motivation. If you send me an email at resispa (at) vcn dot com I think I can do a better job.

    ReplyDelete