Eric Chabot – Roots of the Christian Faith

Scot McKnight on “Hallowed be Thy Name”:

“At no place have Christians been more insensitive to Judaism that when it comes to what Jesus believes and teaches about God. In particular, the concept that Jesus was the first to teach about God as Abba and that this innovation revealed that Jesus thought of God in terms of love while Jews thought of God in terms of holiness, wrath, and distance are intolerably inaccurate in the realm of historical study and, to be quite frank, simple pieces of bad polemics. The God of Jesus was the God of Israel, and there is nothing in Jesus’ vision of God that is not formed in the Bible he inherited from his ancestors and learned from his father and mother” “Countless Christians repeat the Lord’s Prayer. When Jesus urged His followers to “hallow” or “sanctify” the Name of God (Matt 6:9), many are unaware of what that may have meant in Jesus’ day- in part, because Christianity has lost sight of God’s awesome splendorous holiness. A good reading of Amos 2:6-8 discusses this issue. “Reverencing the Name of God” is not just how Israel speaks of God-that it does not take the Name of God in vain when it utters oaths or when someone stubs a toe or hits a finger with an instrument -but that God’s Name is profaned when Israel lives outside the covenant and by defiling the name of God in it’s behavior” (Jer 34:15-46; Ezek. 20:39; Mal 1:6-14).

God’s Name is attached to the covenant people, and when the covenant people lives in sin, God’s Name is dragged into that sin along with His people. So, when Jesus urges his followers to “reverence,” or “sanctify” the Name of God, he is thinking of how his disciples are to live in the context of the covenant: they are to live obediently as Israelites.” -Paul Copan and Craig A. Evans. Who Was Jesus? A Jewish-Christian Dialogue. Lousiville: KY.Westminster John Knox Press. 2001, 84-85.

via Eric Chabot – The Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith: Three Lessons for Christians » Christian Apologetics & Intelligence Ministry.  [Editorial note 3/24/15: Sorry, but Intelmin.org does not seem to be supporting this link any longer.]

Lawrence Schiffman on the Rabbinic Response to the Rise of Christianity

Opening excerpt:

A new set of circumstances confronted the tannaitic leadership when it reassembled at Yavneh after the war with Rome was lost. By this time, the need to close ranks and to face the future as a united community was greater than ever. We shall see, though, that the Rabbis still did not elect to see the Jewish Christians as a separate religion. After all, they still met the halakhic criteria for Jewish status. Instead, action would be taken to bar them from officiating as precentors in the synagogue in order to make them feel unwanted there and to exclude their books from sanctified status. Other restrictions would attempt to separate the Jewish Christians from the mainstream Jewish community. Tannaitic law would eventually have to face the Gentile Christians, but the Rabbis as yet had little opportunity for contact with them.

Putting it bluntly, early Christianity was utterly Jewish.  The Gentiles involved were following Jewish lead.

Full post at The Benediction against the MinimProf. Lawrence H. Schiffman.

HT: Jim West’s Zwinglius Redivivus

Glossary of Terms Relating to First-Century Biblical Matters

The following short list is given only as an introduction to the terms.  You should rely on more substantial reference works for your understanding of these terms.  My purpose here is simply to sensitize you to their importance for understanding how the New Testament and Old Testament mesh.  

Aramaic -The language most common to first-century Jews in and around Jerusalem and Judea.

Greek – the language most common to all peoples living in the Mediterranean world of the first century.

Midrash (singular), Midrashim (plural) – This definition taken entirely from Donald Juel’s Messianic Exegesis:  “The most frequently used term to describe biblical exegesis in the postbiblical era is “midrash”-from the Hebrew darash, “to seek,” “to interpret.” The term is used in several different ways. It refers first to a body of literature, the midrashim, scriptural commentaries or collections of individual reflections on biblical material which began to appear in the fifth century. Second, the term is used to speak of a particular comment on a biblical phrase or verse-a midrash.  Finally, the word is used more loosely to speak of the approach to scriptural interpretation characteristic of”midrashic” literature.”  Later, Juel adds “Midrash was the vehicle by which meaning was actualized in the present.”  [Note: “postbiblical” in this context should be understood as “post-Old Testament; note also that Juel spends p. 35-59 of his book on a section titled “Midrashic Exegesis,” so it is not an easy concept to encapsulate.]

Pesher (singular), Pesherim (plural) – a form of midrash particular to the Qumran community (of the Dead Sea Scrolls) offering, unlike rabbinic midrash, but a single interpretation of the text.  There is “continuous pesherim” which offers commentary on each succeeding verse of a given biblical book (e.g. Habakkuk) or unit (e.g. as psalm), and “thematic pesherim” which pulls together texts from various locations in Scripture when dealing with a common theme.   Donald Juel points out that pesher (given that it existed in a sect) was presented as revelation whereas rabbinic midrash (which allowed a variety of views) was presented as reason.  However, Juel also says, It is possible to overstate the differences between pesherim and midrashim, however, or at least to misunderstand the differences.”

Septuagint – The Old Testament translated from Hebrew to Greek; often referred to by the LXX (an allusion to the 70 original translators).  

Targum (singular), Targumim (plural) – Translation, paraphrases, or interpretation of the biblical text into Aramaic (or perhaps Greek); necessary since Hebrew had fallen out of common use.  This practice is traced to the time of Ezra.  He also says, “In many cases, the Targumim are fairly literal translations. Often, however, the translations-or paraphrases-presuppose creative interpretations of the Hebrew known from other exegetical literature…[and the] Targumim are important as evidence of interpretive traditions…”

Larry Hurtado on Daniel Boyarin’s “How Enoch Can Teach Us About Jesus”

Here’s how this blog post (titled “Enoch & the ‘Son of Man'”) begins:

In catching up on articles in journals, I came across Daniel Boyarin, “How Enoch Can Teach Us about Jesus,” Early Christianity 2 (2011): 51-76, and am provoked to commenting on it.  Essentially, Boyarin contends that in the “Similitudes” (or “Parables) of 1 Enoch we see reflected “the development of ‘The One Like a Son of Man’ of Daniel 7 [vv. 13-14] from a simile into a title” [specifically in 1 Enoch 71:14], and that “All the elements of Christology are essentially in place then in the Parables [of 1 Enoch],” “a pre-existent heavenly figure, identified as well with Wisdom, who is the Son of Man” (74).

Given that Boyarin takes 25 pages to lay out his case, I can’t attempt a full engagement in a blog-posting (I’m sure readers are relieved to know!).  I will confine myself to a few observations that give some indication of why I find his discussion unsatisfactory.

via Enoch & the “Son of Man” « Larry Hurtado’s Blog.

The Jewish Context for What Jesus Said about Hell – Scot McKnight on Edward Fudge

Opening paragraph:

For many people today what one believes about hell is a matter of fidelity to orthodoxy. Most don’t quite want to contend that if you don’t believe in eternal, conscious punishment you are a heretic though some get mighty close. In fact, for some the gospel itself is shaped to get people out of (a theory for) hell that is about eternal, conscious punishment. In other words, change hell you might change the whole gospel for these sorts. So, when Edward Fudge, in his many writings, including Hell: A Final Word, contends the Old Testament only teaches consuming fire and not an eternal conscious punishment, some stridently warn him of falling off the “faithful cliff.”

via The Jewish Context for What Jesus Said about Hell.

An Introduction to the Septuagint, the Old Testament in Greek

Opening paragraph:

In our readings from Justin in the past and coming weeks, Justin makes a spirited case for Christianity on the basis of the Old Testament. Though Justin had access to the “memoirs of the apostles,” which likely included the Gospel of John, the Scriptures that became the New Testament had not yet been canonized and collected, so it is not surprising that Justin relies on the Old Testament. Since he was writing in Greek, Justin did not read the Old Testament in Hebrew, but in Greek. In two notable passages, which we’ll take up in a moment, Justin describes how the Old Testament was translated into Greek and the difference that made for Christian theology.

via An Introduction to the Septuagint, the Old Testament in Greek | Read the Fathers.

Scot McKnight’s Review of N.T. Wright’s Kingdom New Testament

This is about N.T. Wright’s translation of the New Testament.  Here’s an excerpt:

I’m not hearing much chat about Tom Wright’s new translation of the New Testament, called The Kingdom New Testament, but it sure does deserve careful consideration to be on your desk or chair when you read the Bible. I hope everyone gets a copy and puts it next to the Bible they are now reading — read them together for a month or so, take it to church, and see what you think. I think you will like it.

Scot McKnight’s fuller review is here:  Kingdom New Testament.

Larry Hurtado Comments on The Jewish Annotated New Testament at the 2012 SBL

Ben Witherington III re-blogs Larry W. Hurtado’s comments on The Jewish Annotated New Testament by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011) given in a panel discussion at the 2012 meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Chicago.

Hurtado was positive on the book, but felt that the authors and editors missed the remarkable way that Jesus was portrayed in Old Testament texts.  For example, see this excerpt:

On the specifics of how well the book introduces the NT and how well it handles christological matters, I’ve both praise and some criticisms. I won’t repeat all the details here (and may publish my review in due course). But, to focus on the latter, I did sense what seemed like a kind of “tone-deafness” to the christological issues and data at some points. E.g., in the otherwise good treatment of Philippians and the “Christ-hymn” in Philip 2:6-11, I find no mention that vv. 9-11 reflect a stunning revisionist-reading of the passage in Isaiah 45 where a universal acclamation of God (YHWH) is predicted. In the allusion to this passage in Philip 2:9-11 we see early Christians novel affirmation that the universal acclamation of God is to take place in the form of a universal acclamation of Jesus as “Kyrios”.

Likewise, in the comments on Romans 10:13, there is no indication of a similar stunning re-interpretation of the OT passage (Joel 2:32) proclaiming that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved”. In Rom 10:13, clearly this devotional/worship act of acclamation/invocation is now directed to Jesus as Lord.

via The Jewish Annotated New Testament– a Review.