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Judaism

Day of Remembrance …

yellow_star_of_david

The international Day of Remembrance has begun in Israel. The day that we remember the 6 million Jews, and many others that went to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps. Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

dach-id

big1402 KL Auschwitz Work makes free Arbeit macht frei Today

Nazi Records

These – Bad Arolson is where the millions upon millions of files for Nazi records have been kept and for years now been open to the public for research purposes.

yad vashem 2008

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Yad Vashem. The Holocaust museum in Israel.

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz


Chanukah …

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Courtesy: Sam Kittner NatGeo

For our friends who celebrate Chanukah … A very blessed holiday to you.


The Festival of Lights …


Courtesy: Sam Kittner – Nat Geo Photography

We wish all of our friends, family and colleagues a wonderful Hanukkah. May it be filled with laughter, love and life.

Happy Hanukkah …

“We light these lights for the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles that you made for our forefathers, in those days at this season, through your holy priests. During all eight days of Hanukkah these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make ordinary use of them except for to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for Your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvations.”

Wiki.


Your Coffee’s too Strong !!!

Israel, Hamas announce deal to trade captured Israeli soldier for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners …

“Netanyahu said the captured soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit, would return home within days. Mashaal, portraying the agreement as a victory, said the Palestinian prisoners would be freed in two stages over two months.”

I have been following this story for years since Gilad Schalit was captured. Finally this young man is coming home. Well done… It is about time he was returned to his family and country. This is fantastic news.

*** *** *** ***

Today October 11 – Is National Coming out Day

A big decision in any gay person’s life is the decision to come out. It marks the day that we come to terms with who we are and where we are in our lives to come out and openly declare what we are to the world. It doesn’t happen over night and is a process that takes a lifetime. Times have changed in the past 20 years for the LGBT community.

But teens and young people have been targets of concerted bullying and demeaning behavior by family, peers, conservative media and countless numerous Christian communities and their preachers and bullies.

This behavior must not go unpunished.

There should be definite consequences for bullying.

Today we celebrate all those who have decided to make a stand and share with the world that the LGBT community is expanding. Where ever you are and who ever you are, take your time, and do it on your own timetable. We are here for you every day and any day.

*** *** *** ***

Courtesy: Flickr Jamescg

We now we return to our regularly scheduled programming …

Good evening Peeps !!!

We are sitting at a cool 14c. One more day of clear skies and rain is to follow for later in the week. The trees are turning. Our neighborhood is covered in a fine layer of yellow leaves. Some of the maples by the church have begun to turn.

It was a beautiful day today. It was an early start out to the church. Have tunes will crank out chairs and tables. I was done by 5:45, and people started arriving soon after. We gained another member tonight rounding out the member count at ten. We had visitors from the U.S. at the meeting tonight. Our women take really good care of visitors. Our visitors go home with more than they came with which is a good thing.

So I make 40 cups of coffee every week in the big industrial coffee pot. There is a cup count of how much coffee I put in the hopper each week. And people rave about how good the coffee is. I had to step up the amount of coffee I make when the numbers spiked over the last month.

Tonight, I was sitting at table and a woman who rarely comes to the meeting, who never participates when it comes around to her, goes to get a cup of coffee and she says to anyone who was listening, “You need to put water in the coffee pot to weaken the mix because I can’t drink this strong coffee!”

What do you mean, put water in the pot? Everybody in the meeting already have their cups and I haven’t heard one person complain in all the years I have been making coffee that there is anything wrong with it. I grabbed the tea kettle and poured half the kettle into the top of the pot, sending coffee grinds all over the place. Like that was going to make a difference in HER cup of coffee.

I said to her … You know nobody ever complains about coffee, they are grateful that we even make coffee. You are the first person I’ve ever heard complain! If your coffee is too strong then put some water in your cup and water it down. Sheesh !!!

When it came time for her to share, she sat there silent and passed. God grant me serenity !!!

Our topic for the night:

“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.”  Big Book, pg. 24

With some sober time under my belt, most of my own personal observations come in hindsight. When I was first sober, I got to a point that I was free falling. I did not have a sponsor and I made a fateful decision that took me out the door.

In hindsight, during my slip, I drank and drugged. First I put down the drugs and I left them by the side of the road, I walked away, and never picked up another drug again. The funny thing was that it was easy to put down the drugs. I changed geography, I moved away from those people and places. So even if I went looking for them again, I wouldn’t necessarily find them.

But it was very different with alcohol. I could have put down the drink. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I don’t know that I needed the alcohol. But it was wired into my system. I don’t know why I needed that weekly binge. And it wasn’t until I hit the wall and my bottom, that I decided that I didn’t WANT the alcohol any more.

I walked away from alcohol. The club I drank in closed its doors shortly after I got sober. And I did not go looking for another drinking establishment, oh, they were out there, how could you miss the myriad of clubs on South Beach.

I had my meetings. I had new friends who went above and beyond the call of duty to help me. Over the last 10 years I have worked on that buffer zone that now exists in my field of vision, that keep me from ever having to take another “First Drink.” Because we all know that if I take one, more will follow…

We read, we go to meetings, we work with others, and we work on our spiritual condition. Because nothing guarantees me sobriety than working with another alcoholic. I do service every week. I follow the same routine every week, week in and week out. I’ve followed the same path for the last 10 years, and to date I have never had the compulsion to even contemplate a “first drink.”

And for that I am grateful.

Two more months and I hit double digits. One day at a time.

More to come, stay tuned …


Yom Hashoa … 4-11-10

What did you do today to remember ???

It kind of slipped my  mind, the day and all. I spent the last 2 days typing out my Old Testament Samuel Diachronic Presentation into my computer 32 slides in all and I finished it earlier tonight. Now I can get to bed at a nominal hour and listen to my over night radio show.

I have three papers to write in the next seven days. In order not to be tossed from the M.A. program. The fourth paper isn’t due until the 29th and that should not be a problem. I have to get Sophia and Origen written by next Tuesday. God give me strength…

I spoke to my friend down in Florida, the lady keeping an eye on Louise. She is home now, and was sleeping when I called earlier today. Things must be going very well that they discharged her so soon after surgery.

That’s all I have for you at the moment. So from Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz, I remember …

“You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.”

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz


On the Third Day …

John 20:1-18 – Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

The Empty Tomb

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

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Our service at Christ Church Cathedral was beautiful. Everyone gathered and sang songs and rang bells to announce the “Risen Christ.” Where ever you are I hope you have a great Easter celebration or what ever celebration you might have on this day.

Hubby will cook a tasty dinner for us tomorrow, and it will be grand.


Are we there yet???

We are halfway through the weekend, and I am still hacking and coughing. This cold is not going without a fight. I’ve been warned by my medical team to keep an eye out for fever. Haven’t had any of that yet. Just a lot of headaches and chest congestion.

Today I worked on David and Samuel. I got 6 pages written for my presentation and I have one more text to go through. Writing on the two David and Saul stories is very interesting. Each of the texts I have so far written on share different takes on the stories. I am supposed to stick with the text itself and not go outside (diachronic), I have to maintain a (synchronic) vision of the text.

The relationship between David and Saul is troubling. They are running after each other through hills, caves and fields. Saul wants to capture and kill David, and his minions want to help Saul do the deed, yet David continues to escape him by mere seconds and definite divine intervention.

Saul, on the other hand falls into the hands of David, not once but twice. And David is loathe to kill him because Saul is king and God’s anointed. David’s men step up and offer to kill Saul, yet David cautions them not to. There are conversations between David and Saul. The use of covenant language are apparent. It is all very tasking. Saul knows that pursuing David is wrong even if he keep on hunting him down. Then they meet, and David makes his pronouncements to Saul about being “anointed and king” and Saul weeps and humbles himself and repents of his evil ways and speaks wondrous words about David and they go their separate ways.

Both men have issues. Neither are perfect in the sight of God. Both have done dastardly things throughout the books of Samuel. But David will be king eventually, he may not be a perfect king, but king nonetheless. I wanted to share one perspective on the stories with you from my research.

The Open Rupture Between David and Saul.
The Forms of the Old Testament Literature. Vol. VII.
Antony F. Campbell, S.J.

Saul’s return to fight the Philistines is one of the few points in these stories, apart from his death, where we see him fulfilling his royal function. It also gives a momentary pause in the narrative, before the episode at the cave, in the wilderness of Engedi.

Early in any discussion reflection on the relationship between chapters 24 (the “cave in the daytime” story) and chapter 26 (the “camp in the nighttime” story) is unavoidable. There is widespread agreement that one tradition is coming to expression in both stories. That one tradition is present seems clear. Saul, in pursuit of David, is found in David’s power and is spared by the man whose life he seeks; full-bodied reconciliation ensues. More and more, commentators are agreeing that the interpreters task is to find a meaning for these stories in their context, rather than to debate their mutual dependence and age.

The version in chapter 26 is ready-made for performance. It is night. David and Abishai penetrate Saul’s camp and stand over Saul’s sleeping body. One spear thrust will kill him. David takes the spear, disappears into the night, and cries out from across the intervening valley. The version in chapter 24 requires a lot more work on the part of the storyteller; there is not a close fit between the deed and the drama. Saul has three thousand men with him as he pops into the cave – surely in daytime.

Why use a cave if it was night? David emerges from the cave, a bit behind Saul, and cries out to him. the storyteller has to make two aspects plausible. Saul, in broad daylight, asks the nighttime question: “Is this your voice, my son David?”

David in broad daylight, is not seized by the three thousand who are out hunting for him. A storyteller would have to have David slip out of the cave unseen and gain a vantage point where he could not be trapped and would not be visible. After has Saul “blinded with tears” ; but in the text the weeping comes after wards, at the end of the verse, and the three thousand are still there to be dealt with. (Alter) wrestles with the three thousand earlier, the text does not attend to them. The biblical text reveals faithfully where it has come from; Alter reveals brilliantly where it might be taken.

Inside the cave, there is a pointer to the complexity in the telling that again leaves options open for the storyteller. David’s men in the rear of the cave, seeing Saul in the light at the mouth of the cave, urge David to seize this God-given opportunity to do to his enemy Saul as it seems good to David – in a word, kill him! According to the text, David crept up sneakily and “cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak” The next verse is odd: “Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak.”

This is stretching credulity a but far. The guerrilla chief has remorse over a bit of royal garment snipping. Appeal to royal mystique and the sacredness of all that is associated with the king is a distraction; the central issue is life or death, to kill or to spare. Later David will wave the corner of the cloak at Saul as proof of his goodness.

The remorse is badly out of place in this context. But worse is to come. Having spared Saul’s life and cut the corner of his cloak off instead, David is portrayed berating his men for their wickedness in wanting to attack Saul. If Joab were present with a speaking role in this story he might well have pointed out to David that the heroics were in place before the garment snipping; they were completely out of place after it. So there is more to this scene than meets the eye. Storytellers, start your imaginations! Was there a version with no incitement to kill expressed in the cave? Was the incitement to kill Saul an extra option offered by the text?

There is little point in looking for a relationship of dependence between the two tellings. It is enough that there are two tellings of one tradition, each quite capable of standing on its own. As will be emphasized under “meaning” the involvement of both traditions in this narrative heightens the intensity of Saul’s enmity toward David and maked David’s move into exile utterly inevitable.

Exile among the Philistines is dangerous for David’s reputation as a loyal Israelite. We will look at this in treating chapters 28-31. For Davidic supporters, it is important that David had absolutely no choice and was forced into this exile. Reconciliation with Saul could not be trusted.

As to the episode in the cave, it is storytelling and popular storytelling at that. Such storytelling requires plausibility; it is unlikely that a performance had all David’s band lurking in the cave or conducting a noisy debate followed by a voice vote on the issue of killing Saul or snipping his cloak. As noted above, the implausibility inside the cave lies with David’s reproach to his men after he himself has done the deed for which he later takes moral credit. Outside the cave, the storyteller has to deal with the major difficulty that David peaceably discourses with Saul as though the three thousand chosen troops had never been mobilized.

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In chapter 24: As told, this story moves a stage beyond its predecessors. The introduction sets up the preliminaries. Brought information, Saul’s force camps in the area where David is reported to be (“on the hill of Hachilah,”) We do not know exactly where David was (“in the wilderness”) apparently David did not know exactly where Saul was, but he was aware of Saul’s arrival.

The story proper starts with David sending out spies, moving in on Saul’s camp, and even observing precisely where Saul was sleeping. This information was is repeated in vv.5 and 7; v.7 specifies that it was night and that Saul was asleep. A storyteller might stress that, before night fell, what David saw in v.5 was the layout of the camp, the “place” where Saul slept, with the army camped around him.

The story moves in two stages: inside Saul’s camp and outside it. The first allows for the demonstration of David’s refusal to kill the Lords anointed. The second allows for both an insistence on David’s innocence and for Saul;s final commendation and blessing of David.

The story holds a challenge for both its hearers or readers and for its storytellers. The parallel story in chapter 24 in quite different. There Saul walked in on David territory. There. following the present text, David’s men urged him against Saul. David approached Saul stealthily, and then David was stricken to the heart. The problem at issue were discussed in chapter 24 and need not be repeated here. That Saul walking in on David’s territory is unproblematic. That David was “stricken to the heart” is equally clear, but its context is quite uncertain. The present text says because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. The context suggests because he had entertained the thought of killing Saul.

The story of chapter 26 is quite different. David intrudes on Saul’s territory, his camp. No mention whatsoever is made of David being repentant or “stricken to the heart.” The challenge of the story: Why did David risk his life penetrating Saul’s camp by night and putting himself at risk in the middle of Saul’s army? Certainly not with a view to killing Saul. That may have been Abishai’s intention; in the story, it certainly cannot be David’s, for two reasons.

First, the narrative so far has been insistent that Saul is the aggressor and David the innocent victim. Second, and paramount for the telling of the story, we know and all Israel knew that Saul died in a battle on Mount Gilboa. Why then did the story have David risk his life entering Saul’s camp at night? Certainly not to kill Saul. instead it has David risk his life to demonstrate his innocence and, within the story, to receive Saul’s blessing and commendation. The challenge of this story is to make this plausible.

In the context of Chapters 24 and 26, we need to recognize how inauspicious a start to royal reign it would have been to have killed a king who crept quietly into a cave, urged by a need of nature. How much more inauspicious to pin the sleeping monarch to the ground with his own spear in his own camp – not in battle but in bed. Neither matter, since Saul was to die on Mount Gilboa. Neither is likely to have been told at the royal court of Saul’s heir, King Ishbosheth (2 Sam 2:8-10a), or at the hearth of the last known claimant to Saul’s throne, the crippled Mephisbosheth (cf. 2Sam 9:16:3)

Oh Boy it’s 4 a.m. I’ve been typing for a long time…

More to come, stay tuned…


Samuel …

I turned in my bibliography for my final paper tonight. I am writing on 1 Samuel Chapters 24 and 26. The stories of the two times David and Saul meet and David spares the life of Saul. Hopefully the paper I turned in is acceptable to my prof. I am on track to completing this project, and I feel confident that I can write an acceptable paper. We have been parsing Samuel chapters 1 through 11 in class. It is very interesting looking at the Hebrew translations of the Old Testament and reading from our own texts to see how words and phrases are translated.

Just a short note for now, I will write more tomorrow. My day off… We will talk sobriety and recovery… until then … toodles…

1 Samuel 24 -
David Spares Saul’s Life

After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” So Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.

He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave.  The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ ” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe.  He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”  With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.

Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.  He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’?  This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’  See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life.  May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.  As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

“Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea?  May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”

When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud.  “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.  You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me.  When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”

So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.


Monday Thoughts …

Monday has been exciting … The mail woman brought me a HUGE box this morning and I was all excited. Who knew boots could be so big, yet feel so snuggly and warm.

I went to class tonight and we talked about Biblical History and we also talked about the book of Samuel. I have to get used to reading code and learning what all the biblical codes mean when reading source material and commentaries.

We took a look at the Periods in Biblical History:

  • Patriarchal Period – 1800 bce Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
  • Pre-Monarchic Period 1200 – 1000
  • United Kingdom (Monarchy) Whole of Israel N&S 1000-922
  • Divided Monarchy North falls South a Davidic Dynasty 922-721
  • Judah Alone – Babylonian conquer of Judah 721-587
  • Exilic Period – 587-540 (539) Cyrus the Great
  • Post Exilic Period – 539 – on Persians conquered by A. the Great

Some Manuscript Notes:

  • LXX – Septuagint
  • Q – QumRan
  • MS – Manuscript
  • MT – Masoretic Text
  • GR – Greek
  • Masoretic Texts – 1000 common era (most bibles come from here). 7th to 10th centuries Oldest MT 9th c.
  • Codex Vaticanus – LXX-b Greek 4c. common era Translation of Hebrew into Greek, unique manuscript, closer to old Greek tradition, escaped many revisions (haplographies are numerous)
  • Codex Alexandrius – LXX-a Evidence of systematic revisions, considered less value to Vaticanus
  • Lucianic Codex – LXX-l Close to Qumran Manuscriot 300 c.e. Old Greek manuscript, second strata worked into it. series of additions by Lucian and influenced by Josephus
  • Old Latin Translation – (OL) 2/3c. c.e. original readings from the old Greek, Proto-Lucianic second strata
  • Targum Jonathan – Aramaic version of the prophets. Middle ages
  • Syriac Versions – (Peshitta) 2c c.e. in Syriac close to MT translated from Hebrew. 250 manuscripts – Peshitta
  • Vulgate – Latin Translation by Jerome. Early 5c. close to MT. Proto-Masoretic text vowels not added yet.
  • QumRan – 3rd c. to 1c. Found 2 manuscripts of Samuel in the 4th cave 4QSamB – end of 3rd c. bce affinity to vulgate of old Greek translation into Hebrew. 4QSamA (B was studied before A) Close to MT – expansionist tendency affinities to Lucian codex
  • Quotes from Scripture – Josephus 1c. ce Textual tradition from 4QSamA this is not so reliable.

My prof is big on writing, she hopes that by writing I will memorize more.


Chanukah …

May your holiday be blessed as we light the first candle…


Mischief, Mayhem and Make Believe…

theology.jpgDon’t you just love that title? Mischief, mayhem and make believe…

I had a friend when I was growing up who named her cat Mischief. There was also trouble and woe. Mayhem, I don’t know if I am causing mayhem tonight but there is mayhem in my head over studying for this midterm exam tomorrow night.

I’ve kept to a nightly reading schedule. I have read over all my slides from the power point presentations and I have read my book, chapter for chapter. I am hoping that my ability to retain information will work with this much information that needs to be reviewed. The prof said that he might split the exam in two giving one exam to the undergraduates and one to the graduates, and that makes me very nervous. I am hoping, and praying that he doesn’t bang us with an exam that will be harder than his usual essay exam.

I have to say that Gnosticism is a very interesting topic because when one reads the different writers and what they spin off of Christianity it makes a little sense. When you read the mishnas that deal with early Judaism and apocalyptic texts and old testament scripture, questions do come up.

Questions like:

  • Who was God talking to in the garden?
  • Was the serpent really wise and not so sinister?
  • What is meant by the fact that there are 2 creation stories?
  • What was up with God?
  • If God is omniscient then he should have known already that Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree, and were naked? He did not have to ask the questions…

Genesis 3:8-13

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

If God was God. He would have known the answers to these questions before he asked them. If you take scripture line for line and you ask the right questions of them, you come up with some pretty interesting observations.

There are a lot more questions to look at, I just thought I’d share a few with you here. I am going to go back to my books now and continue reading for the rest of the night.

I may not fail after all, but I am unsure of just how well I will do tomorrow.

More to come, stay tuned …


Prayers …

prayersa9

Not a lot going on here. Lots of studying, and tomorrow I am attending a funeral for my friend Carmi, his dad died last night. We offer our prayers and condolences.


John The Baptizer … Thoughts

Do you believe in Love

I’m in the process of reading “John the Baptizer” by Brooks Hansen and last night I hit a point of question. I know this is based on several ancient texts compiled to produce a story so here is where I reached my point of question.

Even though different texts are used in the writing of fiction or stories about extra biblical sources – one always must read with a skeptical mind so as not to be coerced into wrong belief or to warp ones belief system.

There is mention of the Star, The Magi and the decree of Herod. But no mention is made about Joseph, Mary or Jesus. In this telling, the writer is telling short stories about the life of John the Baptist. The birth of Jesus is intimated by the story surrounding the Star, but no direct mention of them.

***

Elizabeth is concerned that Zechariah does not take the child to the Temple for presentation which goes on for weeks and week, and eventually does not happen. *** (See Below) John is neither circumcised nor named or presented in the Temple.

***

In the book, Zechariah goes to the Temple – which he does every morning and is accosted on the steps by several people asking him if he is the “father of John.” He neither denies or confirms his role in the child’s life.

***

Elizabeth had been warned by Tab-Zumin to flee her home and go to a place where they were not known, but Elizabeth counters this warning and threatens them with telling Zechariah what they have said. The appearance of the star in the sky is trigger that is putting into motion several things all at once.

***

Herod is on his deathbed, giving orders for the first born male children in the kingdom to be killed. Mysteriously, Elizabeth takes John into the hills, by way of unmarked paths and finds a cave to hide in. She is met by a golden light and by two people. A woman called “The Lilith” and an “angelic being that had light coming from within him.”

They pledged to protect Elizabeth and John and Elizabeth goes to sleep and falls into a deeper sleep than she had ever known. When she awoke, she found that all three people, the man, the Lilith and John were gone.

Zechariah disappears from the Temple, his absence from the celebrations are marked by those who have witnessed a stain on the Temple floor. Zechariah never is seen again. Nor does he know where his wife and child had gone.

***

Par ‘am is a man who belongs to a tribe of people called “the Subba.” The most learned and holy members of the tribe were called Nasurai. The man named Par’am was one of these. Par’am worked to become a Perfect. He accomplishes this task and becomes a spirit of sorts where others cannot see him, or they don’t acknowledge his presence any longer.

He had found a place called the “Mshuni-Kushta, the land of life itself.” He was welcomed by Zahara’il, the bride of Hibil-Ziwa who first divided the heavens and the earth. He meets “The Lilith” who takes him to the cave where Elizabeth was, there with the child, The Lilith lets Elizabeth glimpse the mystery. Then Par’am took the child’s hand, and together with the Lilith, they departed.

They took the child to the white mountains of Parwan, there in the river waters Par’am baptized him. He let the water wash over him. He spoke the word of life upon him and kissed him on the forehead, to seal and protect him.

The Lilith blessed the child as well, and then she left them there. Only Par’am remained, both as guardian to John, and as earthly vesture – the Uthra Anush (a figure of light that never died but walked with God), who was to be the child’s spirit guide and light.

For one more night John nursed from the fruit of the Thadi tree, then the following morning Par’am took him on his arm, and together they started east.

***

It fell to the nursemaid Battai to offer the neighbors in Ein Karim an explanation for what happened to John. (Ein Karim is where Elizabeth and Zechariah lived). Elizabeth was in mourning for her son. The town did not hold a feast, and finally it was Elizabeth who entered the circle and told all to go home. She was reconciled: Her husband was not returning.

Par’am took John all the way through the wilderness  to the far side of the Jordan, all the way to the hidden wadi and the little tribe of potters who lived among the caves there, the Subba.

Par’am took to teaching John all the things he needed to know. John knew he was blessed, not just because of what Par’am was teaching him but because of what the uthra let him see.

John forgets in time, the mother who bore him and the father who doted on him, in opt for the new family with the Subba.

*** This is the point I am at tonight ***

In Anne Rice’s – Christ the Lord out of Egypt:

The families of Joseph and Mary and their familial counterparts have gone to Jerusalem for the Passover, where there was a massacre of worshipers. The people flee Jerusalem and end up at the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Page 85- onwards:

Elizabeth tells the family that she has made a decision that John is to go to the Essenes. Elizabeth continues …

We have brethren with them, grandsons of Matthias and Naomi, who went out long ago to the desert to live with them, and I’ve spoken with them and they will take him, even now…

I have already provided for John with the Essenes and they wait for my word, or for him to come to those that live on the other side of the Jordan and they will take him far away from here to where he’s to be brought up removed from the affairs of men.

In this telling Elizabeth and John are amongst the family at the Passover. Yeshua actually meets and spends time with the boy John. Although John speaks very little to Yeshua, they sense something big about him.

Elizabeth recounts Zechariah’s accosting in the Temple:

Now they accosted him in the temple (Herod’s men), these soldiers, as he came out of the Sanctuary where he had fulfilled his duty as it was him time as a priest. And do you think he would tell them where to find his son? He had already hidden me away with the baby. We had gone into the caves near the Essenes and they had brought food to us. And he wouldn’t tell these soldiers where we were.

They pushed him and knocked him to his knees, and this right outside the Sanctuary, and the other priests could not stop them. And do you think they even tried? Do you think the scribes came to his defense? Do you think the chief priests came to protest?

The beat Zechariah. They beat him because he would say nothing, and with one fine blow to his head, they killed him. Right before the Lord.

The kinsmen of Zechariah, all of them priests, saw to his burial with  his ancestors.

In the Baptizer, there is no mention made of the Essenes, yet so far. And here we have two conflicting stories about what really happened to the little family and where John ended up to be raised. I find it particularly interesting because I enjoy reading side literature. Like I have said, side literature gives voice and narration to the bible that one might not necessarily be aware of and I think it is good to have these stories floating in ones head when reading scripture. It is enlightening, to say the least.

Here are two very different accounts of what happened to John the baptist as a child and what became of his parents. This is what happens when you study scripture and the stories written around them.

There is not much mention of John the Baptist as a baby and growing up in biblical sources. Except for the passages in the Gospel of Luke. Here is that passage which tells the story – a short story.

The Birth of John the Baptist – Luke 1:57-80

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

Zechariah’s Song

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people.
He has raised up a horn[a] of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.





Teaching on the Gospel of John…

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Jesus Teaches Nicodemus – Jn. 3:1-8

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

**********

In the Gospel of John, there is no mention of miracles, as in the other Gospels. Miracles in John are called “signs” and we can see here in this reading from today that John is telling a story of Jesus evident here is the High Christology of John. No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Jesus is talking about things above, not things of the earth.

The narrator gives an explanation of ambiguous statements. There are literal and non-literal understandings, and also spiritual meanings. In John 3:1-3, we have the statement being born from above or born again, this is a spiritual or celestial birth. Nicodemus misunderstands Jesus, and the author of the Gospel plays on this passage.In this discourse between Jesus and Nicodemus (1:21) (3:28-30, 36) the information is not adequately integrated. (11-13 – 31-36) there is an opposition between earth and heaven.

Let us look further into the Gospel of John:

There is a difference between John and the synoptic Gospels.

  • John the Baptist’s witness of Jesus (1:19-34)  John the Baptist is never named “The Baptist” in John
  • Jesus’ purification of the Temple (2:12-22) this is placed at the beginning of John, but is found further on in the synoptics
  • The feeding of the 5,000 (6:1-13)
  • Jesus walks on water (6:16-21)
  • Peter’s confession of Jesus (6:66-71)
  • Mary’s anointing of Jesus at Bethany (12:1-8)
  • Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (12:12-19)
  • Jesus’ last supper (13:1-30) Jesus washes feet
  • Passion and Resurrection Narratives (Jn 18-20)  The discussion between Pilate and Jesus’ crucifixion scene

Miracles in the fourth Gospel:

Only 2 of the 29 synoptic miracles are found in John. The feeding of the 5000 and Jesus walking on water. Five other “signs” are absent in the synoptics

  1. Water into wine (2:1-11) Mary is named Mother of Jesus
  2. Healing of the Royal Officers son (4:46-54) maybe (Mt 8:5-10)
  3. Healing of the man at Bethzada (5:1-9) on the sabbath
  4. Healing of the blind man (9:1-7)
  5. Resurrection of Lazarus (11:33-44) This action seals the death of Jesus

Chronology of the Fourth Gospel:

There is one journey to Jerusalem in the synoptics (1 year) yet John mentions 3 passover feasts (approximately 3 years) John (2:13, 5:1, 6:4, 7:10, 10:22-23,11:55 and 12:1-12)

  • Jn 2:13 – The Purification of the Temple  in Jerusalem
  • Jn 5:1 – The festival of the Jews – Jerusalem visit once again
  • Jn 6:4 – Passover mentioned – Jesus feeds the 5000
  • Jn 7: 2-11 – Jesus goes to Jerusalem
  • Jn 10:22-23 – Feast of Dedication (In the Temple) Jerusalem
  • Jn 11:55 – Passover
  • Jn 12:1-12 – Jesus is going to come to Jerusalem

John has access to other materials. There are tensions in John (problems) it’s not about chronology but Theology in John.

Johannine Double Christology: everything that pertains to the identity of Jesus Christ. Christology much more present, not so much ethics of the kingdom of God, focuses more on faith, the only prerequisite for eternal life.

John 20:30-31

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

This you see the Subjunctive aorist – “That you may come to believe”
Here you see the Subjunctive present – “These are written so that you will continue to believe”

There is something more in John about Jesus. (Jn:1-18) refers to Jesus divine origin – this inclusion refers to Jesus having a divine origin with God which comes back at the end of the Gospel, on the part of the doubter (20:28) “My Lord and My God.”

**********

The Gospel of John was written in stages or redacted in stages.

  1. Pre-Johnannine (John) traditions were independent traditions from the synoptics (record of sayings and deeds)
  2. Kernel of the Johannine traditions basically is or represents expansion of stage 1. They added Joahnnine theology also from the people who were preaching at that time.
  3. The actual redaction of the Gospel – the writing
  4. A second edition of the Gospel
  5. And we end up with the final edition of the Gospel (chapter 21)

From a Source perspective John was not a one shot writing. The prologue in John is the interpretive key to John. There is the community of the Beloved Disciple.

AUTHOR - is not necessarily the writer (21:24) from whom received the tradition – the message giver.
EVANGELIST – The writer composes the work elements of tradition recording of the author and put tradition in narrative form this adds theological flair.
REDACTOR – is the one who completed the editing work of the evangelist, there may be more redactors.

The authorship of the Gospel of John: Was the Gospel of John written by the Disciple whom Jesus Loved?

Jn 13:23 – Only the Beloved Disciple knows who will betray Jesus
19: 26-27 – He was at the foot of the cross
20:2 – At the Tomb
21:7 – Redactional chapter – fishing with Peter
21:20-24 – Testimony of this person – person who wrote the Gospel received testimony from the Beloved Disciple.

The Disciple whom Jesus Loved:

13:23 The Beloved Disciple
19:26-27 – Beloved Disciple identified with Mother
Jn. 20:22-23 The Outpouring of Spirit – Johannine Pentecost, the result will be the mission.
Jn. 19:30 – Jesus Giving up his Spirit – the Gospel is written for “insiders”

The Mother of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple are representative of the Johannine community. The symbols of water and the symbols of the spirit (Jn. 7/ 20:20-23) When Jesus dies – he gives up his spirit. Everything happens at the Cross – The cross is the moment where Jesus dies and returns to the Father. When the Son of Man will be lifted up (on the cross) The Christology of the Son of Man ( refers to Daniel chapter 7 ).

Christology of the Son of God

Jesus is more than the Messiah, carries attributes that traditional Jews would have given to the Messiah. The Son of God carries glory and power of the Father and the only begotten son.

Johannine Christology of the “agent of the Father” Judicial clauses – Jesus is the plenipenitentiary – the mediator. Someone sent with the power of the one who sent him.

Jewish law elaborated a Charter of Rights, responsibility of the one who was sent. Responsibility clauses are discernable (sender and agent) the relationship between Jesus and the Father – Judicial Christology.

Mandate Clause:
The existence of the mission. Choose the right representative – the son or elder son. The person invested with full rights and the same authority of the sender, the Father in John is the sender – Jesus is the one who is sent. (Jn. 3:31-34, Jn. 5:21-23, Jn. 6:39, Jn. 13:3, Jn. 17:10)

The Judicial Equality Clause: (Jn. 10:30,38, 12:45)
There is a judicial equality between the sender and the agent this explains a series of passages – (Jn. 5:23, 12:44, 13:20, 15:23 ) There is an equality between Jesus and the Father. (Jn. 13:16, 15:20, 14:28)

We would never know the Father except through Jesus

The Obedience of the Agent Clause:
The agent had to be faithful and obedient. (4:34, 6:38) “I come to do the will of him who sent me” (7: 16-18, 18:28-38, 12:49-50, 14:24, 5:43) Jesus only teaches what he receives from the Father.

The Return and Reckoning Clause:
Mandate – equality – responsibility – return with an account. This is the theme of the return of Jesus to the Father. (13 – 17) (13:3) In John 17:1-4 Jesus knows his work is done, Jn. 17:6 it is made known to the Father.

Why is Jesus the Plenipenitentiary – to introduce the Father

Prologue 1:1-2 and the word was turned to God (in the Greek) There is an auto revelation of God – seen through the prophets of the Old Testament. This word will become incarnate. Jesus will be the one to incarnate the word – the culminating point – that Jesus comes from the Father. The word (Divine Autorevelation) Christology of the Son of Man.

The Son of Man differs from the Son of God

Daniel 7:13 apocalyptic literature. Designates Jesus as eschatalogical judge – (Synoptics – Divine Heavenly Being)

John – Son of Man titled 1:50-51 The ladder of Jacob in Genesis – the some of man is associated to heaven, ascending and descending. (3:11-15) Son of Man related to heaven because he is descended a heavenly being.

Numbers 21:4-9 – The Son of Man will be lifted up, believe in him (the Son of Man) elevation of the Son of Man. The source for eternal life. John 3:11-15 (Born from above) (2Cor 5:17, Gal 5:6) Being someone new. John 6:61-62 Ascending to where he was before. The elevation of man has to be seen, taken note of. John 12:20-36 The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

John 12:31-33 Eschatalogical judgment coming. The Prince of the earth (the devil) will be debunked.

We have here the double existence of lifting up the Son of Man. Lifted up on the cross – The cross as way to return, to ascend – everything happens at the crossas supreme king. (the crucifixion and elevation)

This is a realized eschatology – In John the eschatological moment comes at the cross. The elevation is the death. Why does the writer need a second Christology?

The cross is a shame ( Deuteronomy 21:22-23)

Various Laws

If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Cursed be the one who is hung on wood.

Here the cross becomes a participant – not a scandal for the Son of Man. The two Christologies integrate the cross, the Son of Man is returning to God to give a report. For the Son of God – the cross is a problem.

Jesus is in total control of his destiny. John 13:27 …

We find a lower Christology in the Synoptic Gospels Mt, Mk, Lk – The Son of God is linked to the Messiahship. in John Jesus is the plenipenitentiary of the Father. Jesus the Son of Man is lifted up – The death of Jesus with his elevation is Glorification encapsulated in the Crucifixion scene. It is a relaized eschatology – at the cross.


Go down Moses …

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Exodus 14:15-15:1

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.  Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.  That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.  And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Exodus 15

The Song of Moses and Miriam

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD :
“I will sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea.


Good Friday …

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Mark 15:16-41

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The Crucifixion

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

It was the third hour when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!”

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

The seven sayings form part of a Christian meditation that is often used during Lent, Holy Week and Good Friday. The traditional order of the sayings is:

  1. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
  2. Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).
  3. Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27).
  4. Eli Eli lama sabachthani? (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”, Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
  5. I thirst (John 19:28).
  6. It is finished (John 19:30).
  7. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46).

Artwork provided by Tom, you can read Tom’s blog Here.


Passover

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Passover in 2009 will start on Thursday, the 9th of April and will continue for 7 days until Wednesday, the 15th of April.

Note that in the Jewish calander, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Jews will celebrate Passover on the sunset of Wednesday, the 8th of April.

Exodus 11

The Plague on the Firstborn

Now the LORD had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.”  (The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)So Moses said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.

The LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.

Exodus 12

The Passover

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire—head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.”On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD -a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat—that is all you may do.

“Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”

Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the door frame. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ ” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.

At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

We all know the story of the Israelites and their captivity in Egypt and the story of Moses and the plagues. Here is some of the Passover story…

Moses and Aaron repeatedly come before Pharaoh to demand in the name of G-d, “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me in the wilderness.” Pharaoh repeatedly refuses. Aaron’s staff turns into a snake and swallows the magic sticks of the Egyptian sorcerers.

Pharaoh still refuses to let the Jews go. Moses warns him that G-d will smite Egypt. Pharaoh remains impervious. G-d begins to send a series of plagues upon the Egyptians. In the throes of each plague, Pharaoh promises to let the Children of Israel go; but he reneges the moment the affliction is removed.

1) Aaron strikes the Nile, the waters turn to blood;
2) Swarms of frogs overrun the land;
3) Lice infest all men and beasts. Still, Pharaoh remains stubborn;
4) Hordes of wild animals invade the cities,
5) a pestilence kills the domestic animals,
6) painful boils afflict the Egyptians.
7) Fire and ice combine to descend from the skies as a devastating hail. Still, “the heart of Pharaoh was hardened and he would not let the children of Israel go; as G-d had said to Moses.”

The people of Egypt have suffered too much. They beg Pharaoh to let the Jews go. When Moses comes to warn Pharaoh of the eighth plague, Pharaoh says: You say that you want to go serve your G-d? I’ll let the men go, as long as the women and children stay behind. No, says Moses, we must all go, men women and children, cattle and herds. Pharaoh once again refuses.

The next plagues descends upon Egypt.
8) a swarm of locusts devours all the crops and greenery;
9) a thick, palpable darkness envelops the land.

The Israelites are instructed to bring a “Passover offering” to G-d: a lamb or kid is to be slaughtered and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of every Israelite home, so that G-d should pass over these homes when He comes to kill the Egyptian firstborn. The roasted meat of the offering is to be eaten that night together with matzah (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs.

Then G-d brings the tenth plague upon Egypt,

10) all the firstborn of Egypt are killed at the stroke of midnight of the 15th of the month of Nissan.

The death of the firstborn finally breaks Pharaoh’s resistance and he literally begs the Children of Israel to leave his land. Following G-d‘s command, they hastily depart; so hastily that there is no time for their dough to rise, and the only provisions they take along are unleavened. Before they go, they ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold, silver and garments, emerging from Egypt a wealthy nation.

The Children of Israel are commanded to observe the anniversary of the Exodus each year by removing all leaven from their possession for seven days, eating matzah, and telling the story of their redemption to their children.

Soon after allowing the Children of Israel to depart from Egypt, Pharaoh chases after them to force their return, and the Israelites find themselves trapped between Pharaoh’s armies and the sea. G-d tells Moses to raise his staff over the water; the sea splits to allow the Israelites to pass through, and then closes over the pursuing Egyptians. Moses and the Children of Israel sing a song of praise and gratitude to G-d.


Mary Magdalene…

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Holy week is upon us and National Geographic is working overtime this week on stories about the Cross, Jesus and the Resurrection. So Let’s begin with a little scripture:

John 20:11-18

but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

I heard something new, in this years telling of the Magdalene story. We know of all the stories about the repentant whore and the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. We also know the story about Mary being healed of the seven demons. If you are a student of religion as I am you would also be familiar with the Gnostic Gospels of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Philip. Speculation abounds between scholars trying to parse what these Gnostic texts say and what they mean.

But this is what stuck out for me tonight.

“If Mary Magdalene was the first person to witness the resurrection, then she went to inform the other disciples, then she would be a founder of Christianity.”

I have always maintained in my studies that Mary, like Judas Iscariot and Paul were all imbued with “special knowledge of Jesus Christ” each in their own ways, if you study the texts as I have over the last six years. Mary was a woman with wealth that she could support the “movement of Jesus” and she did not have any family to speak of – and she was “there” in all of the key moments in Jesus’ life. She was among the women at the foot of the cross, with Mary his mother and John the beloved disciple.

  1. In Matthew, the reading has Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene going to the tomb. There was an earthquake and an angel (Angelophony) to announce that Jesus rose from the dead. (2 people, 1 angel)
  2. In Mark, the reading has Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome brought spices so that they could anoint the body. There was one angel and an (Angelophony) who tells of the resurrection. (2 people, 1 angel)
  3. In Luke, the reading has the women going to the tomb. And there are some men there who tell of the resurrection. Men?  THEN, you have Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women who told this to the other apostles. (Women, Men, no Angels)
  4. And in John, you have Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb. Finds it empty, She runs to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved (John) to tell them about the empty tomb. The disciples went into the empty tomb, but did not understand the scripture “that he must rise from the dead” Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary Magdalene stayed at the tomb. I have recounted the scripture passage above… One woman, TWO angels, 1 Angelophony and 1 Jesus vision …

It’s all there in the scriptures. Which rendition is correct? And what is the common denominator? And If Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the resurrection, then, is she a founder ??? Discuss…


Fifth Sunday of Lent…

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Jesus Predicts His Death: Jn 12:20-33

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

We get to see in John today the High Christology. Jesus is foretelling the death he will suffer to those around him. There are several things we can take from this Gospel. John is the most different from the other Gospels. Just reading the Gospel for reading sake is not enough. One has to engage the text for every word is a piece of information [in the Greek] texts.

The voice from heaven stating that “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again” In John everything happens at the cross. The cross is the signifying piece in the Gospel of John. The High Christology of John becomes apparent. Where the Son of Man meets the Son of God. Because for a Jew death on a cross is abhorrent, so the two Christologies come together and the Son of God is there to make good Jesus’ death on the cross.

“Now the prince of this world will be driven out.” this would be satan. “But I, when I am lifted up [ On the Cross ] from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” There is such a wealth of information to be gleaned from this Gospel when read at close hand. With the death of Lazarus, and Jesus raising him from the dead, Jesus seals his own fate. This was the final straw that drove the people to find a way to kill Jesus. By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus will be Glorified in his resurrection. [Jn. 12:32-33].

Everything happens at the cross. The Son of Man will die and the Son of God will be Lifted Up. Jesus the Son of man will be lifted up, the death of Jesus with his elevation is Glorification encapsulated in the crucifixion scene. It is a Realized Eschatology – at the Cross.

Moving to the 19th Chapter of John [ 19:30] Jesus gives up his spirit at the cross – the Spirit was given. The meaning – the Salvation of the world.

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Everything in John revolves around the person / identity of Jesus. Sin in John is “not believing in the person of Jesus.” John 20:30-31 believing “Jesus is the Son of God” The initial faith one has subjunctive case [in the Greek] faith is something that you continually do, continually believe.


The Blessed Virgin Mary A Question…

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Was the BVM raped? that’s a good question. Was she forced to conceive? well, from my studies and reading side literature, i like side literature because it helps me form a picture that the bible does not intentionally give us…

I think that Mary acquiesced – that she was a humble woman who had a choice really, she could have said no. But I think the whole angel business did her in emotionally. What other choice could she have made, say no to the almighty – via the angel? Rape is a strong word to associate with biblical scripture. I guess if we look at it logically this big man comes along and says “hey you, the holy spirit is going to overshadow you and you’re gonna conceive and have a child and call him Jesus, what would you do? I get the notion from reading side literature that had she been branded a harlot or someone who was unclean or defiled by another that her life would have been in danger. There is literature out there that posits a man named Pantera a Roman soldier that may have fathered the child. That there was no Divine act taking place, but a human to human union. But I am not well versed on Pantera, or that side of any literature. You’d have to read scholarly work on the subject and not dabble in heresay or heresy. I’ve not explored the other stories about who might have fathered Jesus.

Mary to me seems to be a woman who was raised out of her poverty and elevated to the status as mother of the savior. I don’t think that biblical scholars have seen to attribute anything other than right thought to the biblical stories. When God spoke, you listened. I think that Mary listened. It does however raise the question, “what if she said no?”

Then you have to read ahead in the next passage about Joseph being visited to make sure he kept Mary and did not leave her as he had intended. And also the fact that Elizabeth and her husband were also visited by angels as well, kind of like an angel trifecta. With all that angelic activity, who was going to say no to God?

On the other hand, I think that Mary gave up her humanity to bear the savior and to follow and dote on him as she did. I have read several books on the holy family that give me a picture that Mary was the keeper of Jesus secrets from his childhood. You know she knew he was divine before he did. She knew what miracles he had performed as a boy and she kept those secret. There was immense pressure on her from the very start and including Joseph to protect the child Jesus.

She knew the real story and that at some point in his childhood she explained it to him, and that secret extends into Jesus’ adult life. Mary could not be a normal woman, because she bore the savior. God chose her to do this task, and she had only to say yes, which she did. I’ve never seen any writing that tells me that she ever thought other wise. or that others would postulate the possibility that she resented God for what He did to her. but we could discuss it. It is a real question.


The Annunciation

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Luke 1:26-38
The Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.


NBC's 'Kings' takes up gay interpretation

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Found on: Bilerico Project:
Filed by: Matt Comer

Well… at least slightly so, that is. I watched the premiere of NBC’s allegorical “Kings” over the internet last night. Work at the paper on Sunday evening kept me away from the debut and my favorite weekly viewing pleasure, “Big Love.”

“Kings,” a modern-day retelling of the classic David story of the Hebrew Bible, is set amidst the backdrop of a modern metropolis, complete with a New York City-style skyline and contemporary issues — modern warfare, healthcare issues, the paparazzi, the “free press” and, yes, homosexuality.

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The David and Goliath, David and Jonathan, and David and Saul stories flow onto the TV screen from the pages of scriptural history (excuse my obvious Southern, evangelical phrasing — it’s the way I was raised). But NBC’s modern-day take doesn’t completely align with the stories (mainly from Samuel 1 and 2 and Kings). Despite the presence of a gay character (which the Bible also has, unless you’re reading it from an definitive anti-gay bias), “Kings” shifts the plot and story lines a bit, but what else is to be expected from 21st century media? (Picture above: King Silas and David Shepherd.)

In the TV drama, King Saul becomes “King Silas Benjamin” (a throwback to the fact that Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin). David becomes “David Shepherd” (how cute) and Saul’s son Jonathan becomes “Jack.”

But unlike the Biblical story, there’s only one gay or bisexual character. In Scripture, one can easily interpret David and Jonathan’s love for one another as a romantic relationship. In “Kings,” it is likely the main character won’t have any gay trysts. But that doesn’t rule out any longing Jack might develop for the young David.

Critics have called out NBC’s choice to portray Jack as a villain. That view isn’t entirely correct. First and foremost, the show, like the Biblical story and life, have no clear cut “heroes” or “villains” — each of the characters are complex.

While no one can argue that the character isn’t portrayed as a spoiled, royal brat, there are plenty of scenes in which Jack shows some humanity. He is a capable military leader who is tripped by the scheming and plotting ways of his royal father. He feels pain and loss after the death of his military comrades. He tries desperately to please his father, the only man he wants to please, despite having the respect of the entire military.

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Previews from critics made privy to the first four hours of the show and those who interviewed the show’s creator say give the show time: each character will have their own unique journeys. Perhaps we can attribute Jack’s seemingly villainous ways to the forced double life he must lead. In the two-hour premiere, Silas tells Jack, in no uncertain terms, that if he is to be king, he cannot “be what God made you to be.” (Picture above: King Silas calls out his son Jack on his late-night activities with other boys, after his “shows of skirt-chasing.”)

I’m excited to see what the show holds for the future. I’ve always loved the story of David, even before I came out and heard of its obviously gay interpretation. NBC’s “Kings” has promise.

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I happen to see this episode and found the show to be very compelling. It will be interesting to see where they take the characters in the future.


The Gerasene Demoniac – Close reading

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Mark 5:1-20 – The Gerasene Demoniac

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis (Ten Cities) how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

  1. Where is Jesus before he arrives in the country of the Gerasenes?
  2. Look at a map of Palestine (of that time) from your bibles, and locate Garaza in the Decapolis. How does the location of the city complicate matters?
  3. In what way is the evil spirit described?
  4. What “Titles” are attributed to Jesus in this story?
  5. Does this text recall other texts found in the Biblical tradition?

If you are up for the challenge and you have your bibles handy, take a few minutes and do the assignment. And see HOW we are to read this passage from scripture. Do we read it Literally or Theologically?

Mark has a problem with geography in his gospel as this story will demonstrate if you take the time to find the map and answer the questions.

Answers:

  1. Jesus is in Galilee (on the Western side of the Sea of Galilee).
  2. Geraza is 35 km from the Eastern edge of the Sea of Galilee, in the desert. If you read in Matthew (8:28-34)  and Luke (8:26-39), they offer other cities in their stories. It is all about location. Gadara is about 9 km from the Eastern edge of the Sea of Galilee. Still if we read the story, Jesus gets out of the boat and immediately meets the demoniac. And the story takes place by a lake because that is where the swine meet their demise.
  3. Legion, Unclean Spirits (Legion – referring to the Roman contingent of soldiers), for we are many, demons, evil spirits
  4. Jesus, Son of the Most High God (Christological, Messianic title)
  5. Yes, from the book of Exodus when the Egyptian soldiers were following Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea, the soldiers and horses were drowned by the waters that Moses had parted. Exodus 14:21-31.

Yeshua …

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Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana…

Yeshua is having a conversation with his brother James:

“Before you make yourself positively ill with rage,” I said, “let me ask my mother – bring here, please now, the gifts that were given to me when I was born. Set them here before us.”

“My son are you certain?”
“I am certain,” I said. I kept my eye on James.
He went to speak and I said:
“Wait.”
She went out directly.

James stood regarding me with cold contempt, ready at any moment to erupt. My brothers were now grouped about, behind him. My nephews stood watching, and into the room had come Aunt Esther and Mara. Shabi and Isaac and Menachim stood against the wall.

I looked unwaveringly at James.
“I am weary of you, my brother,” I said. “In my heart, I’m weary.”

He narrowed his eyes. He was astonished.

My mother came back. She held a chest which was heavy for her to hold, and Mara and Esther assisted her as she brought it forward and set it down on the floor in front of us.

Decades, it had been hidden away, this chest, ever since our return from Egypt. James had seen this chest. James knew what it was, but my other brothers had never set eyes on it, as they were the sons of my uncle Cleopas, and they’d been born after me. None of the younger men had ever seen it. Perhaps the boys in the room had never even heard tell of it. Perhaps Mara and Little Mary didn’t even know that it existed.

It was a Persian chest, plated in gold and exquisitely decorated with curling vines and pomegranates. Even the handles of the chest were gold. It shone in the light, brilliantly as the gold of Avigail’s necklace had shone on her neck.

“It’s never enough for you, is it, James?” I said. My voice was low. I struggled against my anger. “Not the angels filling up the night skies over Bethlehem, not the shepherds who came through the stable door to tell my mother and father of the angels’ song, no, not enough for you. And not the Magi themselves, the richly clad men from Persia who descended on the narrow streets of Bethlehem with their caravan, brought there by a star that lighted the very Heavens.

Not enough for you! Not enough for you that you yourself saw these men put this chest at the foot of my cradle. No, not enough, never enough, no sign ever. Not the words of our blessed cousin Elizabeth, mother of John bar Zechariah, before she died – when she told us all of the words spoken by her husband as he named his son, John, when she told us of the angel who’d come to him. No, not enough. Not even the words of the prophets.”

I stopped. He was frightened. He backed away and my brothers shifted uneasily away from me.

I stepped forward and James stepped back again.

“Well you are my older brother,” I said, “and you are the head of this family, and I owe you obedience, and I owe you patience. And obedience I have tendered and patience I have tried, and will try again, and, with it all, respect for you, whom I love and have always loved, knowing who you are and what you are, and what you’ve endured and what we all must endure.

He was speechless and shaken.

“But now,” I said. “Now hear this.” I reached down and opened the chest. I threw the lid back. I stared at the contents, the glistening alabaster jars, and the great collection of gold coins that it held, nestled in their tapestried box. I lifted the box. I emptied the coins onto the floor. I saw them glittering as they scattered.

“Now hear this,” I said. “This is mine, and was given me at my birth, and I give it now for Avigail’s bridal raiment, and for her rings, and for her braceletes and for all the wealth that’s been taken from her; I give it for her canopy, I give it for her! And my brother, I tell you now I will not marry. And this – this is my ransom for it!” I pointed to the coins. “My ransom!”

Helplessly, he looked at me. He looked at the scattered coins. Persian coins. Pure gold. The purest gold of which a man can form a coin.

I didn’t look down at them again. I’d seen them once long ago. I knew what they looked like; I knew how they felt, what they weighed. I didn’t look now. But I saw them shining in the darkness.

My vision was blurred as I looked at James.

“I love you my brother,” I said. “Let me in peace now.”

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They say Jesus got mad seven times in the bible. I can tell you from these side stories Yeshua got angry as a young man as well. Prior to this exchange he prayed to the Father and he brought down rain, and after this exchange, he prays once again, to stop the rain… And the rain stops…


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