The Many Paths of God

It is very difficult to fathom how two opposing opinions can both be correct. The Ritva explains this in a wondrous manner: “When Moshe received the Torah at Sinai, God provided him with forty-nine perspectives to declare a matter pure, and forty-nine to declare it impure. Moshe Rabbeinu asked, ‘Master of the universe, why are these necessary?’ God answered, ‘So that they should be transmitted to the sages of every generation, that the law will be determined by them in accordance with the needs of their time.'”

This teaches that there are many valid paths to genuine Torah observance, all of which were received by Moshe on Sinai. But of course not all statements made are the words of the living God. As we find on today’s daf, sometimes a statement thought to be a mishnah is no mishnah at all. This means that sometimes what appears to be part of the chain of tradition is actually not and needs to be clarified as such.

Rav Menachem Mendel of Rimanov, zt”l, explains how the baalei mishnah reached a state in which they could draw down an authentic mishnah. “The baalei ha’mishnah explain how the oral Torah emerges from the written Torah. They could only draw down a genuine mishnah by completely nullifying all of their physical senses and immersing themselves absolutely in learning Torah. Once they reached this state they touched the inner essence of Torah and could determine the halachah and set down various mishnayos. When the sages perceived that a certain statement was not reached through this arduous process they declared it incorrect.

Daf Yomi Digest
Stories Off the Daf
“This is Not a Mishnah!”
Bechoros 56

Ohmygosh! What did I just say?

This teaches that there are many valid paths to genuine Torah observance, all of which were received by Moshe on Sinai.

That statement is bound to cause something of a stir in various religious circles. It is doubtful that Christianity will accept that there are many valid paths to genuine obedience to God since we have the Master’s own words saying that there is only one way to the Father, and that is through the Son (John 14:6). Of course this is midrash we’re talking about, so it’s not as if we have to believe the “conversation” between Moses and God actually took place as recorded in our “story off the daf”. I seriously doubt that many people participating in the “Messianic” movement will be enthusiastic about this midrash either, since most of the arguments I see in the blogosphere are about obeying the Torah in only one possible way.

That, of course, doesn’t make a lot of sense from a Jewish perspective, because there really is more than one way to perform a mitzvah, depending on various circumstances. For instance, how Askenazi Jews perform some of the mitzvot and how Sephardic Jews perform those mitzvot may vary drastically. And while there may be some debate between those two groups, no one is suggesting that the Ashkenazi are the only ones who “do it right” and that the Sephardic Jews “do it wrong”…or vice versa. And frankly, even if that suggestion exists, it’s not enough to compel one group or the other to change their traditions. How a Jew performs the mitzvot and understands his or her duty to God is largely based on tradition.

But how can the midrash dare to quote a conversation between Moses and God that, in all likelihood, never took place? Remember what I said in The Rabbinization of Abraham. In order to carry the Torah forward with Judaism in the centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple, Talmudic Judaism found it necessary to “refactor” the past, projecting the view of the Rabbis of the Common Era back onto Abraham and Moses. You and I may not find this “refactoring” to be accurate or factual, but if you understand the function and purpose of Chasidic Tales, you’ll understand that many great and important truths can and must be transmitted without necessarily being based totally on fact. Christians have a tough time understanding this, but it is also likely that not everything (hold on to your hats) in the Gospel accounts of the days of Jesus is literal fact.

Did that surprise you? If you think about it for a few minutes, it probably won’t.

(I should say that this point that when I realized this, I went into a crisis of faith and struggled a great deal with the idea that my faith was based on a book that was neither a legal document in full, or a newspaper reporter’s account of the “facts”).

If you don’t believe me, pop over to Derek Leman’s blog and read this write up, Passover, Last Supper, Crucifixion: 2011 Notes, Part 2. Leman illustrates in no-nonsense terms how the different Gospel versions of the Master’s death cannot be reconciled with each other, no matter how much literary and scriptural “slight of hand” you choose to employ.

So why shouldn’t we use midrash to understand mishnah and scripture? Perhaps they are useful tools after all.

This brings us back to the idea that there may be more than one way to obey God. This brings us back to the idea that there may be one way for a Jew to obey God relative to the Messiah and Torah, and a different but still correct way for a Gentile disciple of the Master to obey God. Are these two covenants? That suggestion is usually viewed with horror, especially if taken to the extreme and seen as “the Jews have Moses and the Gentiles have Jesus.” I’m not suggesting that (although the dynamics involving religious Jews who are not “Messianic” is certainly complex). I’m suggesting that for Jews who are disciples of Jesus and for Gentiles who are disciples of Jesus, there may be two paths to obedience based on identity and “covenant connection” (Jews were at Sinai and any Gentiles who were also present were absorbed into the Children of Israel, probably within three generations). The Jews have the Mosaic covenant connection which was not designed to accommodate non-Jews except for those Gentiles who were on the “multi-generational conversion track”. The Messianic covenant is unique in that it accommodates Jewish identity, allowing “Messianic Jews” to remain Jews (this is all heavily flavored by my opinions here) and also it allows Gentiles to enter into a covenant relationship with God, being “grafted in” as “wild branches” onto the “civilized tree” (note that the grafted in wild branches remain wild for the lifetime of the tree and don’t “morph” into civilized branches) and they can still remain Gentiles…forever.

Now we come back to the key phrase in today’s midrash.

This teaches that there are many valid paths to genuine Torah observance, all of which were received by Moshe on Sinai.

If you’re a non-Jew and you’re upset with how someone else is interpreting Gentile “Torah obedience”, figuring your way is right and their way is wrong, hold up a minute. First off, you Gentiles may not have any sort of “Torah obedience” based on the Mosaic covenant, so you may be traveling on the wrong path all together. Second, even within Judaism, as I previously mentioned, there is more than one accepted halacha to performing the mitzvot.

Hopefully, this will shake up someone’s moral certitude the next time they get into an Internet argument about how the Torah is supposed to be obeyed. If you continue to do your studying and are honest about it, you may find your assumptions challenged. The great Hillel was the master of teaching this lesson to potential converts, as recorded at SaratogaChabad.org.

Let us use the famous story of Shammai, Hillel and the three converts (Shabbos 31) to demonstrate the fusion of Halacha and Aggadah,: A gentile once came to Shammai, and wanted to convert to Judaism. But he insisted on learning the whole Torah while standing on one foot. Shammai rejected him, so he went to Hillel, who taught him: “What you dislike, do not do to your friend. That is the basis of the Torah. The rest is commentary; go and learn!” Another gentile who accepted only the Written Torah, came to convert. Shammai refused, so he went to Hillel. The first day, Hillel taught him the correct order of the Hebrew Alphabet. The next day he reversed the letters. The convert was confused:”But yesterday you said the opposite!?” Said Hillel: “You now see that the Written Word alone is insufficient. We need the Oral Tradition to explain G-d’s Word.” A third gentile wanted to convert so he could become the High Priest, and wear the Priestly garments. Shammai said no, but Hillel accepted him. After studying, he realized that even David, the King of Israel, did not qualify as a cohen, not being a descendant of Aaron

The convert was not just acting silly by standing on one foot; he was actually symbolizing his quest for true unity. This gentile had left behind a confusing plethora of pagan gods and multiple deities. He searched and finally found Monotheism, One Torah and One G-d, wanting to live by a single unifying principle, the ‘one foot’ on which all else stands. Hillel taught him that the underlying principle that unites all is Jewish Love. The second convert, had rejected the other man-made religions as human concoctions, was attracted to the Divine Torah, which consisted solely of G-d’s word. He was shocked to find that we follow a Rabbinical tradition. He wasn’t being rebellious, but sincerely asking a valid question; “I wish to observe G-d’s word alone, not any human additions.” Hillel creatively showed him that the two Torahs are not two separate systems, but are one and the same. The written word and the oral traditions complement each other. It is as basic as the Aleph Bais, where you can’t have one without the other. Indeed, the Torah itself bids us to follow the enactments of the sages. The third convert, disillusioned with pagan shallowness, aimed for a higher meaning to life. He yearned to reach the highest level, assuming that being a High Priest is the ultimate spiritual fulfillment.

Hillel didn’t just chase these would-be converts away, he (seemingly) accepted them on their own terms but allowed them to study and discover their own errors. Once they did so, they put aside their original assumptions and realized that in order to convert, they had to accept the Torah as it was within the Jewish framework of their day.

May God grant us the ability, wisdom, and will do to the same.

65 thoughts on “The Many Paths of God”

  1. I think the bible makes it clear that even with the temple and priesthood the Jews broke the covenant; they are not keeping the covenant. The covenant must be made new and in Yeshua’s body and blood.
    Not only did Israel break the covenant and are not “in covenant” unless and until they make the “new covenant” we must accept they did not keep the law nor listen to Moses. Sometimes Messianic and Hebrew Roots teachers push aside the reality because they don’t want to offend the broken off. We are led to “pretend” or “ignore” that religious Jews have NOT joined the vine and remain outside the covenant – broken off branches.
    The question is not if there is more than one way to fulfill a commandment. That depends on the commandment. The question is: Is there more than one way back into the covenant renewed? One enters the covenant the same way Abraham did. 1) Fear of God 2) Believe God, more specifically in the one who was sent 3) Obey in love. God does the rest, even in helping us to do our part.
    Like Yeshua said “without me you can do nothing” No one who denys Yeshua keeps the commandments or is in covenant, Mosaic or otherwise. But we can call them to repentance and hope they hear and return the only way possible. Atonement! Shalom

  2. I wrote this blog primarily in response to certain “Messianic” and Hebrew Roots folks who are absolutely rigid about how to “obey the Torah” and any little deviation from their program means you’re apostate. An extreme example are those folks who say you have to pronounce the name of the Messiah “Yeshua” or Yehasuah” and not “Jesus” or you are a pagan.

    However, to address your point, how do we address Jews who do not accept Jesus as the Messiah? Do we blame them? Do we say that God does not love them? Do we say that they are lost forever in a lifeless, works-based religion? Do we say that they are a stubborn and sinful people who deny the obvious truth that Jesus is Savior and Messiah?

    In Romans, Paul said that some of the Jewish branches were broken off temporarily and only for the sake of the Gentile branches. He also said that those broken off Jewish branches could be reattached to the tree with amazing ease and that indeed, all of Israel will be saved (I know some Christians and “Messianic Gentiles” consider themselves to have replaced the Jews as “Israel”, but I’m using the term “Israel” to mean “Jews” here). Frankly, it’s a miracle that any Jew who was raised and educated in a religiously, ethnically, and culturally Jewish home has ever accepted Jesus as the Messiah. After all, for almost 2,000 years, traditional Christianity has done everything in its power to alienate, isolate, and all but destroy the Jews by insisting that to be “saved,” a Jew must stop being Jewish and worship a Greek “man-god.”

    I’m not sure we can criticize the Jewish people for being somewhat hesitant to devote their worship to a very non-Jewish symbol who has been used as the motivation to try and eradicate the Jewish people, either through assimilation or outright genocide. That the Messianic movement is revealing the Jewishness of Jesus as the Messiah is still viewed by most of Judaism (at best) with skepticism. They’re waiting for the “bait and switch”. Only God can create the miracle necessary to reveal the true identity of the Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people. As a Christian, I’m inclined to give non-Messianic Jews a break.

  3. Steven, the Bible makes it pretty clear that even in slumps of disobedience, God’s covenant is not annulled. At certain points in the OT, much of Israel was involved in idol worship or worse, but the covenant remained. You are just another closet antisemite with a do-it-yourself approach to worship. James has soft-pedaled in his answer, but I do not.

  4. Do not think yourself the victim of a vicious verbal assault. Nobody that actually appreciates Jews would have written what you did. The claim that Israel’s covenant was never good, not even in Temple days, is the favorite canard of the antisemite. The Church Fathers and Luther loved that one.

    I don’t see Jews believing in Yeshua at any time in the future. My imagination fails to process it. For Jews, unlike any other people-group, that Biblical faith structure is already there, and far too many inhuman things have been done to Jews by people that believed the same things about the covenant as you do.

  5. I don’t see Jews believing in Yeshua at any time in the future.

    Except that there are Jews who are disciples of Jesus (Yeshua) such as these fellows at the MJRC. I’ve mentioned before that I think it’s a miracle that a Jewish person, especially one raised in a religious Jewish home, comes to faith in Jesus as Messiah, but miracles do happen.

    For Jews, unlike any other people-group, that Biblical faith structure is already there, and far too many inhuman things have been done to Jews by people that believed the same things about the covenant as you do.

    Andrew, it’s almost like you’re saying that there is no particular benefit for a Jew to come to faith in Jesus and to recognize him as the Messiah. I’m not sure how to process that, since I struggle with that concept as well. However, I remember one of the MJRC rabbis (I think) writing a blog post at some point explaining in detail why it is of benefit. I tried a Google search, but I can’t find the blog. I’m pretty sure it was written in the last year or so.

    I’m actually not sure that’s what you’re saying, but that’s the limitation of Internet communications. That’s why misunderstandings are rife in online discussion boards and blogs. While I don’t shy away from a passionate debate, I don’t what this to degrade into name calling. I do want to “hear” (read) Steven’s response rather than pass judgment out of hand. If I can find the blog I referred to earlier, I’ll post the link. In the meantime, I just want to put out a general reminder that it is possible to disagree without personalizing conflict.

    Thanks.

  6. James,

    You wrote: “This teaches that there are many valid paths to genuine Torah observance, all of which were received by Moshe on Sinai…I seriously doubt that many people participating in the “Messianic” movement will be enthusiastic about this midrash either, since most of the arguments I see in the blogosphere are about obeying the Torah in only one possible way.”

    I think you’ve hit on a deep truth here. If Judaism were only about genuine Torah observance, one might imagine that each of us could find his or her own way to God through Torah. However, this truth is balanced by another reality: our shared communal calling to constitute a unified witness, across both space and (generational) time. This calling forces us to press forward past the simple beauty of genuine Torah observance, to be bound up together.

    This reality is expressed most beautifully in the blessing immediately preceding the Shema, Ahavah Rabbah, which asks not only that Hashem “put it into our hearts to understand and to discern, to mark, learn and teach, to heed, to do and to fulfill in love all the words of instruction in Your Torah…Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, and let our hearts cling to Your commandments,” but also that He “unify our hearts….Bring us in peace from the four corners of the earth, and make us go upright to our land.” The ultimate purpose of the covenant people is not only genuine Torah observance, but to proclaim Hashem’s unity in word and deed. Thus, even as the tradition recognizes the strength and significance of a unified halakha, we have to affirm the possibility of many valid paths to genuine Torah observance. What makes one path the halakha is not necessarily its objective, ontological correctness, but the manifestation of unity it makes possible “for the sake of heaven.”

    I think we in the Messianic movement have just barely scratched the surface of the nature of halakha in the ongoing life of the Jewish people…

  7. “Do not think yourself the victim of a vicious verbal assault.”
    Andrew, it’s not necessary to tell someone when they have been slapped in the face or punched in the stomach, they know it even if the attacker denies. But Peace …… I forgive you.

    James, thank you for your mature and gracious reply!

    Here is what I believe God taught (not anti Semites) concerning his covenant with Israel: The Covenant is not “UNBREAKABLE”, God himself says Israel has broken it. When God says “return” he means to himself via the Covenant. To leave the covenant is to forsake God. To return to the covenant is to return to God. It is not the Covenant that leaves or God, it is Israel.
    For a season Israel was allowed to leave God and then return to God via the old covenant that was based upon promises that IF Israel kept all the words, God would provide blessings and when not cursing. Israel left time and again. Away from God, Return to God, away/ return, over and over……… But no longer is that possible! With the sending of the Duet 18 Prophet, Israel has no access to return to God via the old covenant of keeping the law or establishing their own righteousness by “good works” or “keeping the commandments” as they once did. That option has passed away, but the Law has not passed away, only the option to continually forsake and return. The only way for Israel to return now is once and for all, and only via Yeshua the mediator of a new and living covenant, by believing in him who was sent, hearing and keeping his words sent from above, having the Torah written on hearts of flesh.
    When Israel’s children search for God with all their heart they will find him, those who don’t will not find him. Those who return cannot return in the “covenant I made with your Fathers”. Now the only way to return to God is by the “new and living way”. Israel s peace with God is made only in the New Covenant. Without Yeshua it is impossible to return, for such has God ordained! Return, oh Israel, your King is waiting! Shalom

    For the question raised of my love for Israel, if God be willing I pray you may see my love one day, at the appointed time, with your own eyes. I, a Son of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, have made this return to God and tell you the truth. Shalom

  8. James,

    What I meant is that I don’t imagine the Jewish people believing in Yeshua en masse, including Orthodox leadership. Of course, throughout history, some small numbers of Jews have accepted Yeshua (which, until very recent times, meant forfeiting your Jewishness altogether), even some prominent rabbis. However, I have conveyed the utterly wrong impression if it looks like I don’t want Jews to embrace Yeshua. I was talking about why Jews won’t believe, not why I think they shouldn’t. I DO believe that Jews embracing Yeshua is of benefit, in fact, of the greatest supernal significance.

  9. Steven, I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to respond to your points. It’s unfortunate that I’m not a theologian because I believe that knowledge would help me to answer you better. I know that reading through the Old Testament seems like a roller coaster ride of the ups and downs of Israel’s loyalty to God vs. their running away from God. It certainly appears to support the Christian idea that the Mosaic covenant was somehow flawed and that God initiated the Messianic covenant to replace, or at least to repair it.

    And yet there are several things about that point of view that bothers me. For instance, if the Mosaic covenant was an inferior product, why did God initiate it in the first place? It wasn’t as if the Children of Israel asked for it. This is what God presented to them at Sinai. Further, the Children of Israel accepted the Torah wholeheartedly. It is true that they did not obey perfectly and indeed, there were times when they didn’t obey at all, but it is a mistake to think that Christians don’t also experience ups and downs, both as individuals and as a faith. Christianity has had some very dark times in its collective history, particularly in how it has treated the Jewish people (inquisitions, pogroms, and the like). If you say that the Jewish people have had times in their history when they have lacked faith and devotion, then Christianity has also had such times. If we condemn Judaism on that basis, then shouldn’t we also condemn Christianity?

    I’ve worshipped in a synagogue (not Messianic) setting, at one point for several years (it’s a long story). I saw true love and devotion to God during prayer and worship. To say that the Jews I prayed with lacked a relationship with God and had not returned to Him seems a gross injustice. They may not as yet have made the connection to Jesus as the Messiah (and there are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is the dark pages of Christian history I mentioned a moment ago) but to say that they have not sought God with all their hearts and that they have not found Him is a mistake, in my opinion. I believe the Jewish people have heard from God many times in the past 2,000 years and I believe they hear from Him today. I believe God loves them very much. If their temporary blindness to the identity of the Messiah is part of God’s plan as Paul explains in Romans, then can we blame them for not “converting to Christianity” at the cost of their Judaism? Paul said it was for our sake (we Gentiles) that his brothers and sisters were temporarily disconnected from the “olive tree”. He also said they could be easily reattached and would be at the end of this age.

    As far as God abolishing “good works” and “the commandments” as a method of doing His will, I don’t know about that. Jesus taught us to do the same thing as far as feeding the hungry and many other things Jews continue to do in performing the mitzvot. I don’t believe the Messianic covenant replaced the Mosaic, but added a form of access to God for the rest of the world (us) that had never existed before. But Jesus said his first priority was to come for the “lost sheep of Israel” and I believe that more than what the Messiah has done for the nations, he has done something very special for the Jewish people. Jews all over the world and across time have longed for the coming of the Messiah and pray with passion that he will come to repair our broken world. Their hearts have turned toward Messiah, but it isn’t easy for them to see who he is.

    It has been said, and I agree, that currently, Jesus is hidden from the majority of Jews the way that Joseph’s identity was hidden from his brothers while he was viceroy in Egypt. His brothers stood in close proximity to Joseph and they had several conversations with him, but his brothers continued not to recognize him while was “disguised” as an Egyptian, and believed he was a stranger and a foreigner to them.

    Most Jews see the Messiah as “disguised” as a “Helenistic god” worshiped by Christians as both God and man. Polytheism and idol worship (worshiping a man as a god) is wholeheartedly rejected by Jews and the drive to move away from such behavior is virtually part of the Jewish “racial memory” because the prohibition goes back so far. These barriers stand in between the Jewish people and recognizing Jesus as Messiah, but just as Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers and his father, Jesus will one day make it possible for the Jewish people to see him as he really is.

    How all that works, I don’t know. I’m certain I have not adequately responded to your points and I am sorry I can’t find that article I searched for earlier or remember its content in detail. I recall it (probably) answered the questions raised by this conversation much better than I can.

    We are all waiting for the King, Christian and Jew alike. We are all flawed but we all strive to be better than who we are today. We all strive to draw closer to God than where we are right now. Someday, the path of the Christian and the Jew will meet and travel along side-by-side as our paths finally reach the goal of the Messiah, may he come soon and in our day. He will be our Messiah and Savior, and we will be his servants.

  10. Steven,

    Don’t take it so hard, bro. I was in a cranky mood, saw you regurgitating a point, and used the antisemite card. Was it justified? Well, it sounds harsh. But don’t you know that gentile antisemites all the way back to the dawn of the Christian era have believed pretty much the same thing about the covenant (except the belief in Torah not being annulled, which is unique to Hebrew Roots circles)? Some have even believed that Israel lost it as soon as the sin of the golden calf. Conversely, Christian friends of the Jewish people including Franz Delitzsch and John Hagee believe in the continuing efficacy of Israel’s covenant.

    Now that you’ve given more detail as to your beliefs, I am more inclined to agree with you…but still, I am not comfortable going there. I don’t want to agree that Yiddishkeit is a bankrupt endeavor that God has rejected. I have accrued too much sympathy for Jews and Judaism in the last few years, and it feels wrong. See Israel on Yom Kippur not as the judgmental Pharisee in the Temple (as in Yeshua’s parable), but the repentant tax collector.

    I only hope you have the empathy to understand how utterly weird it feels for Jews to believe in Yeshua. History and inertia are stronger than correct theology.

  11. James, you bring about a good point. If God knows all, then why did He use a whole nation as His guinea pig? It doesn’t seem like Him. I know 100% that a dog won’t be able to manage solving 2 plus 2, and it would be cruel for me to withhold food from the dog until it figures the answer out.

  12. Andrew, I think I’m guilty of some of that “Internet misunderstanding” I was talking about. I didn’t think you meant you didn’t want the Jews to recognize Jesus as Messiah. For some reason, I thought you were saying that the Jews, as a people, never have recognized Jesus. I was just trying to point out that some Jews have. In the future, many more will. Someday, they all will, as will all the nations of the world.

    The other thing I was trying to point out, and I probably haven’t been very clear, is that people come here from many different perspectives and experiences. Even if everyone who comments here is of good will and means no harm, the differences in our opinions are sometimes going to set off sparks. That’s OK up to a point, but it is possible for someone to believe, for example, that the Law is dead for everyone and was replaced totally by grace, and still be a good person, a good Christian, and have authentic love for the Jewish people and Israel. If you or I disagree with that belief, or some other point of view, our best response is to discuss and debate, but without hostility (if at all possible…I realize there are limits on some occasions) and to show the other person why we disagree.

    I don’t experience ill will from Steven or from you. With that in mind, it’s very likely that we can enter into a discussion and even if we end up not agreeing, we can still help the other person understand where we’re coming from and explain why we might have issues with some of their ideas. The Internet and the world is full of people who disagree with each other and who don’t understand the other guy’s perspective. If we attempt to discuss and make peace, even under difficult circumstances, that’s part of tikkun olam, repairing the broken world. I choose to proceed hopefully in that direction. Please understand that nothing I am saying is intended to criticize you, but I do think there are occasions when we all need to take the time to measure our responses to each other with the grace that God has shown to us.

    Blessings.

  13. I see this conversation has been proceeding while I’ve been constructing my lengthy responses.

    James, you bring about a good point. If God knows all, then why did He use a whole nation as His guinea pig? It doesn’t seem like Him. I know 100% that a dog won’t be able to manage solving 2 plus 2, and it would be cruel for me to withhold food from the dog until it figures the answer out.

    Hopefully, I didn’t say that. The “mechanics” of why God revealed Jesus to the nations but temporarily withheld that knowledge to the Jews escapes me. Someone out there may know how all this works, but that person isn’t me. As I said before, I don’t think that God is “withholding food” from the Jewish people. In fact, in many ways, He has blessed them abundantly. As far as how it will all work out, I don’t know. But I don’t think that the Jews are the equivalent of God’s “chew toy”. I do know that God will make Himself apparent to us all in His own time. I just hope that’s soon and that in the meantime, that we can let His grace be sufficient for us.

  14. “Leman illustrates in no-nonsense terms how the different Gospel versions of the Master’s death cannot be reconciled with each other, no matter how much literary and scriptural “slight of hand” you choose to employ.”

    I read that and was very puzzled and so I checked out the link and read where Leman wrote the following:

    “Mark erred in relating what he read in his sources. He thought the Last Supper was a Passover. He had some justification for his mistake. Yeshua made the meal like Passover in some ways.”

    James, I’m curious: Do you believe that the New Testament is the inspired Word of G-d?

  15. Andrew and James, Moses foretold it in Deut 4. Here is a piece:
    26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
    27And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you.
    28And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
    29But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
    30When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
    31(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

    The new covenant has to be made because we were too weak to fulfill the terms of the old one even at our best. In God’s mercy “he made a way where there is no way” because he just could not deal with our leaving him one more time! He wants us to stay forever….Shalom
    Andrew: No worries, I wish everyone had a zealous love for Zion! Shalom

  16. “If the Mosaic covenant was an inferior product, why did God initiate it in the first place?”
    James, you don’t know why? Here are some hints concerning the foundation of the house, shalom!

    Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
    2 Chronicles 6:14 And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:
    2 Chronicles 7:3 And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
    Ezra 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
    Nehemiah 9:32 Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy,
    Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
    Psalm 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
    Psalm 86:5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.
    Psalm 90:14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
    Isaiah 30:18 And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
    Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

    Our communion, our ECHADness, our atonement with God is above the mercy seat as it is written “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel”

  17. @Peter: Yes, I do. I also believe, as does Derek (ask him), that the Bible contains internal inconsistencies and is not a “perfect” document. This does not invalidate the Bible or to say it’s not uniquely inspired by the Spirit of God, but it’s not perfect in the sense that every event is literally factual or that all of the different versions of a particular event match up. There is as much in the Bible contributed by the human authors as by the spirit of God.

    In late winter/early spring of last year, I confronted my rather naive assumptions about the Bible head on and virtually went into a spiritual tale spin. What followed was a rapid consumption of books written by a variety of New Testament scholars that helped me see the Bible in a somewhat more realistic light. Here are a couple of examples of that exploration from my now defunct “Searching” blog:

    An Old Dog Looking for a New Book

    The Bible is a Mystery Novel

    I wrote many others, but they’re not always easy to find in a Google search. The comments sections are as illuminating as the actual blog content and hopefully will illustrate my understanding rather than me trying to recreate all of that content again here.

  18. @Steven: I know why God gave the Torah to Israel and certainly all of the quotes you provided from Scripture show the close and loving relationship between God and His chosen people. From your previous comments, it seemed as if you were saying that the Torah was not useful from the beginning (though I may have misunderstood). Of course, you also said that the Mosaic covenant was unbreakable, although there were times when Israel was unfaithful. But God remained faithful to His people Israel as He remains faithful to them today.

    You mention “The Prophet” from Deuteronomy 18 who Christians recognize as Jesus (Matthew 16:13-16, Mark 8:27-29). Are you saying that when Jesus came, his presence did away with the Torah and replaced it with grace? If not, what was the relationship a Jew was supposed to have between Torah obedience and being a disciple of Jesus? Color me confused.

    Sorry, but as I’ve mentioned before, all-text communication sometimes makes it harder to understand someone.

  19. James,

    I hope you’ll permit the inevitable follow-up question here: Is it in accord with G-d’s nature to inspire factual inaccuracies?

  20. No problem with follow up questions, Peter. I have no idea why God had the Bible constructed in the way that He did. I only know that, according to many different New Testament scholars (and looking at some examples of text for myself) those inconsistencies exist in spite of all attempts to explain them away.

    I have a theory about how the Bible exists as it does and why it works as it does, but it’s only an opinion and I can’t really “prove” that I’m right. I suppose the only thing I can say about my theory is that it allows me to accept the Bible as it is without demanding it to be what most of us were taught it was. I’m certainly not saying that the Bible is completely inaccurate. Far from it. I am saying that it is not perfectly internally consistent.

  21. James, “As far as God abolishing “good works” and “the commandments” as a method of doing His will”
    I did not say it was abolished but the opposite, I said the law was not done away with. Israel is commanded by Elijah who comes first, to return to the Law of Moses. You don’t have to return to the law if you are keeping the law nor if it was abolished. Yeshua said “none of you keeps the law” but they thought they did keep it. That would happen to anyone trying to keep the law without the Holy Spirit.
    The Law of Moses is not the same thing as the Mosaic Covenant but is contained in it as well as in the new. The law did not change, the Covenant did. The old covenant was “we will do” and “if you shall keep” and “you shall teach”. The new covenant is “I will write” and “no need to teach” because “you shall know” from the least to the greatest. The law is unchanged in both covenants. The first covenant was made in blood and bodies of animals. It’s purpose was fulfilled and it was obsolete but within the next second, in the twinkling of an eye, made new and different in the blood and body of Yeshua. A new mediator, a new method, better promises, etc. but the law remains unchanged. Why? It is not possible.

    James you wrote: “Of course, you also said that the Mosaic covenant was unbreakable” No James, I said it was NOT unbreakable. Clearly it was broken or God would not have said “my covenant you have broken”.

    You wrote: “Are you saying that when Jesus came, his presence did away with the Torah and replaced it with grace?” No James, Jesus made it clear he did not do that.
    The relationship Jews are supposed to have in Jesus with the Torah is to obey it. Not in letter that was bringing hardship and death to the people, but in Spirit and in Truth that leads to life eternal, the true worship for it is written “Obedience is better than sacrifice”.

  22. OK, I’m beginning to see where my “disconnect” was, Steven. I’m using “the Law/Torah” and the “Mosaic covenant as synomyms while you’re saying something different:

    The Law of Moses is not the same thing as the Mosaic Covenant but is contained in it as well as in the new.

    I agree that the Mosaic covenant was/is conditional, but I don’t think it was permanently broken for two reasons. One is that, no matter how God exiled the Children of Israel for breaking their end of the deal, God “divorced” Israel as a husband divorces an unfaithful wife, but only for a moment. The language in the Old Testament always speaks of God taking Israel back if only they would repent of their sins, so the relationship is never permanently lost. Also you said:

    The first covenant was made in blood and bodies of animals. It’s purpose was fulfilled and it was obsolete…

    If that’s true in an absolute sense, then what about Ezekiel’s temple? Also, Revelation speaks of a New Jerusalem from Heaven which well could be a Third Temple. I know by the end of the book of Revelation, there is no Temple, but as far as I can tell, there will be, perhaps for a substantial period of time and Jesus may well offer at least some of the sacrifices there (Jewish and Christian scholars are divided about exactly what sacrifices might be reinstated…I’m hoping that the Todah [thanksgiving] offering will be one and that Gentiles will get to offer it).

    I’m not denying that the Messianic covenant is the gateway for the nations to be reconciled with God, but his existence and that covenant doesn’t necessarily overwrite the previous covenants. You say yourself that in the Messiah, the Jews will more perfectly obey the Torah commandments. I agree that obedience is better than sacrifice but my take on that is sometimes obedience is making the sacrifices. There were times in Jewish history when the sacrifices were made with no kavanah; no spiritual intent. It’s not the actions of obedience that are holy to God, it’s obedience in faith and love.

    I still think we’re not quite connecting, but it’s getting late, and I’m kind of sleepy (insomnia and exhaustion aren’t a good combination). If I’m still missing your point after this, I’ll have to revisit these comments in the morning.

    Oh, I found some of the information I was looking for earlier about Jews and the Messiah written by Derek Leman. It’s not the blog I remember, but it’s close enough to serve:

    why Yeshua? A Jewish Question

    Anyway, time to toddle off to bed. Good night.

  23. James,

    What if I could provide a Scriptural argument that G-d could never lie (i.e. speak falsely) and that every word of the Bible is completely reliable, would that change your mind on the inerrancy issue?
    And would it further persuade you if I showed you that the overwhelming majority of Protestants–as demonstrated from all of the great works on Systematic Theology–believe inerrancy of Scripture to be a fundamental of the faith on par with the deity of Yeshua?

    If those two things will persuade you then I’d be happy to provide you with those references and sources along with a logical defense of the doctrine because I care about you very much.

    Your brother,

    Peter

  24. Peter, you are certainly welcome to send me your references and I’ll be glad to take a look at them, but I do want to state that they (most likely) are not universally accepted among many well-known and respected New Testament scholars. I can go back to my old blog and attempt to gather all of my research to establish my point (which will take some time) and show that there are indeed internal inconsistencies in the Biblical text.

    This does not make God a liar. You seem to be assuming (but I could be wrong) that He dictated every single word of the Bible like a doctor dictates his/her notes into a recording machine. But what if it wasn’t quite that way? What if the spirit of God inspired the writers of the Bible but the human Bible writers retained their ability to fashion their descriptions of events through their own perceptions?

    Take the Book of Deuteronomy for example. This is Moses’ last monologue, cautionary tale, and farewell to the people he lead for over 40 years. He basically “recaps” the Exodus from Egypt and all of the events from that point to the day the Israelites arrived at the Jordan, ready to cross over and take possession of the Land. If you compare the events Moses described in Deuteronomy to their analogs in other parts of the Torah, you’ll find they don’t quite match up.

    The accepted Jewish explanation for this is that the other books of the Torah were more from God’s point of view (though certainly Moses’ perspective injected some influence) but Deuteronomy was more completely Moses’ telling of the tale. The Torah thus tells (at least) two versions of many events and presents two different perspectives, much like how two (human) eyewitnesses will both testify to their version of the same event but both testimonies will be a bit different.

    No one is lying. Each perspective tells a story. Part of the story is about the facts. Part of the story is more about the “generic” picture of God’s involvement in the affairs of Israel and other nations. Part of the story is about what we in the later generations can take away as far as our relationship with God. Part of the story is about the nature of morals, ethics, humanity, and divinity.

    Portions of the Bible function (IMHO) like Chasidic tales. They tell stories that function at many different levels, not just at the surface level of the narrative (and I imagine you are versed in the four different methods traditional Judaism uses to interpret the Torah). There are the very mystic books of Ezekiel and Revelation which involve man’s interactions with God in a non-earthly realm. The Gospel of John also has mystic elements in it. The Psalms are lyrics to songs. Proverbs are, well…proverbs, sayings about morals and ethics. Song of Songs is lyrical and poetic language which speak of God’s relationship with Israel. The Book of Exodus (for example) is more grounded in “fact-telling” and historical narrative.

    The Bible isn’t a newspaper and it isn’t a court document. It’s not Joe Friday from Dragnet saying, “The facts, ma’am. Just the facts.” If the Bible were just God dictating His story using the Prophets and other Bible writers as recording machines, it would all be in one voice, in one kind of writing genre, telling one tale across time. The writers would be little more than machines, parroting God’s words without actually being involved with God or His works in their lives. In fact, there are many, many human writers of the Bible, using many different writing genres, speaking with many different human voices across the long span of thousands of years. The Bible is a collaboration between man and God to tell the story of the relationship between man and God. I often say that based on the principle of tikkun olam, people are considered junior partners with God in the task of repairing the world. Why couldn’t human beings also have been considered partners in writing the Bible?

  25. Peter:

    Inerrancy is an enlightenment value. It is not a biblical doctrine. If the only texts that could be scripture had to be free from all historical mistakes by the writers, if there had to be no discrepancies between parallel accounts, if everything had to be harmonize-able, what books in the Bible would qualify as scripture.

    Authority and inspiration are biblical doctrines. Inerrancy is not.

  26. Steven, you used the example of Deuteronomy 4 to prove your point, but that passage actually affirms that the “Covenant [He] made with your fathers” is permanent, even if Israel goes astray. Get it, the old, Abrahamic and Mosaic covenant? Not the New Covenant, which is “unlike the old.” I know that the book of John has Jesus saying that his people don’t really keep the Law. But I hardly think that amounts to saying the only way they are keeping the Law is by believing in him. Learn to take things on a more metaphorical level. Not every passage of the Bible directly plays into theology.

  27. Steven,

    Furthermore, it is horribly pretentious of you to claim that the nation for whom Torah has always been the central concern, the source of that nation’s “Echad” (gimme a break, you don’t even know Hebrew), is further from keeping Torah than you.

  28. I know that the book of John has Jesus saying that his people don’t really keep the Law. But I hardly think that amounts to saying the only way they are keeping the Law is by believing in him.

    Actually, this returns the conversation to the question of why the Jewish people need the Messiah if they are sufficient in Torah obedience without him. Fortunately, I was able to find a link to one of Derek Leman’s blog posts that provides the answer (I posted it above but here it is again): Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question. We need to be careful in this conversation, otherwise we’ll end up saying that Jesus is for Christians only and the Jews have Moses and the Torah. That statement (amazingly) makes the Jewish Messiah and his covenant virtually superfluous in the lives of the Jewish people, which I don’t find possible.

  29. “Covenant [He] made with your fathers”
    Andrew, I thought this was the Abraham Covenant, made new with Issac, made new with Jacob? Or, he wouldn’t he have said, “the Covenant I made with you”. Are all the Covenant’s the same?
    Your right, I do not know Hebrew. Should I not write “Shabbat Shalom” or say it? Does it make you feel better to deride me?
    So far:
    1) “You are just another closet antisemite with a do-it-yourself approach to worship.”
    2) “Nobody that actually appreciates Jews”
    3) “and far too many inhuman things have been done to Jews by people that believed the same things about the covenant as you do.”
    4) “saw you regurgitating a point”
    5) “it is horribly pretentious of you”
    6) “(gimme a break, you don’t even know Hebrew)”
    Boy, between these quotes and your inference of my ignorance and lack of education, I seem to be an awful person…..
    And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
    Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
    Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
    But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
    Shalom

  30. “Covenant [He] made with your fathers”
    Andrew, I thought this was the Abraham Covenant, made new with Issac, made new with Jacob? Or, he wouldn’t he have said, “the Covenant I made with you”. Are all the Covenant’s the same?

    Well, yes they are. God reaffirmed the original covenant He made with Abraham with Isaac and he reaffirmed it with Jacob, but God didn’t change the details of the covenant as far as I’m aware.

  31. Not at all, Steven. The Abrahamic covenant is unconditional. It promises the Land to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (and Jacob’s descendants) in perpetuity. The Mosaic covenant is conditional (if you do this, I’ll do that) but it apparently is still going and will continue to be in force for a good long while, according to Matthew 5:17-20. You seem to separate the Torah from the Mosaic covenant, but I’m not sure such a thing is possible, since the Torah creates a very broad set of conditions that cover the behavior of a Jew’s life in arenas from civil and criminal law, to business ethics, to family purity to Government structure. While many portions of “The Law and the Prophets” cannot be enacted currently because there’s no Temple in Jerusalem, no functioning levitical priesthood, and no operational Sanhedrin, much of those institutions may well return in the Messianic era. Only when “heaven and earth pass away”, which doesn’t happen until the Garden of Eden is reinstated in full (see Revelation 21 and 22) and the old order has completely passed away will there be no Temple and no Torah as we currently understand it. JMHO.

  32. Steven, I’ll give you #1 and even #2, but 4 thru 6 are pretty much par for the course for heated, intelligent debate. They are not personal attacks. For instance, much persecution of Jews has been done with the pretense that their covenant is no longer effective, anyway (no, I’m not calling you Hitler). That’s in point of fact. I’m afraid you do seem pretentious indeed, and “regurgitating” is no more than an overly pejorative synonym choice…I could have chosen a better one. “Repeating,” maybe. Anyway, don’t keep score of slights, it’s healthier that way. Jesus is my model for conversation and all manner of other things, yet he called his (often very God-fearing, devout) opponents “white-washed tombs” and worse. He was not afraid to call it like he saw it.

    All I see is text on a screen. I don’t know what you’re really like (well, a little bit, as you appear to be a Hebrew Roots purist a la Tim Hegg). I doubt you’re a horrible person. You care too much about Godly things to be horrible.

  33. Steven, I notice you quoted James 3 from the original 1611 KJV, which has many flaws and is terribly hard to read today in 2012 (and I majored in English). Please, for the love of God, tell me you don’t believe that is the only translation authorized by the Lord.

  34. Before this argument between the two of you (Steven and Andrew) gets any more heated, while you may cite the “brutal honesty” of Jesus and Paul and use that as a model for communication, remember you (in all likelihood) haven’t earned the same “creds” as they have (especially Jesus). Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11, urges fellow believers to encourage one another. The fact that you are in disagreement doesn’t abrogate your responsibility to love one another as the Master commanded (John 13:34), so you might want to see if you can disagree without putting a lot of emotion and name calling into the conversation. I don’t want to stifle honest discourse, but it is my blog and if I have to act “parental” to keep this transaction from getting out of hand, I will do so.

  35. James, that is a very good point, actually. Paul and the Master Jesus (whose clothing I would not be worthy to clean) have license to be brutally honest…they are holy. “Brutal honesty” from a fool’s mouth is just brutal foolishness.

  36. Andrew, I had to look up at least 4 of the words you used in the dictionary to try to understand what you are saying. I can’t understand why what I wrote seems pretentious and would seriously appreciate if you could explain it to me. I want to learn to write better. Thank you!

    Here is my email: imaseeker2003@yahoo.com

  37. I see that you have both extended “olive branches”, gentlemen. May we all continue to seek the ways of peace, as we were taught by our Master. Good night and be well.

  38. Here’s a list of the sources I mentioned (the ones at the beginning are the Systematic works and the ones toward the end are some miscellaneous books that argue FOR the doctrine of inerrancy). And I’ll provide you with a concise argument tomorrow for the inerrancy of Scripture. Tonight I’m just enjoy some vino and veggie stix with the wife.

    1. Anglican (Episcopalian) 1882–92 Litton, 18–40 1930 Thomas, 500–501

    2. Arminian (Wesleyan or Methodist) 1875–76 Pope, 1:36–192
    1892–94 Miley, 2:41–49 1940 Wiley, 1:166–84 1960 Purkiser, 66–80

    3. Baptist
    1767 Gill, 11–181907 Strong, 222–42 1917 Mullins, 142–44, 150–53 1976–83 Henry, 3:248–487; 4:129–255, 353–404 1983–85 Erickson, 221–40 1987–94 Lewis/Demarest, 1:93–171

    4. Dispensational 1947 Chafer, 1:63–88 1949 Thiessen, 105–15 1986 Ryrie, 77–104

    5. Lutheran 1917–24 Pieper, 1:232–65, 338–49 1934 Mueller, 101–37

    6. Reformed (or Presbyterian) 1559 Calvin, 1:74–92 1871–73 Hodge, 1:163–82 1878 Dabney, DET 1:282–313, 466–81 1887–1921 Warfield, IAB passim 1889 Shedd, 1:93–110 1937–66 Murray, CW 1:9–15; CW 4:22–29 1938 Berkhof, Intro 144–65, 182–86 7. Renewal (or charismatic/Pentecostal) 1988–92 Williams, 1:36–43

    Roman Catholic: Traditional 1955 Ott (no explicit treatment) 2. Roman Catholic: Post-Vatican II 1980 McBrien, 1:64

    Archer, Gleason. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982.

    Arndt, W. Bible Difficulties. St. Louis: Concordia, 1932. _______. Does the Bible Contradict Itself? St. Louis: Concordia, 1955.

    Boice, James, ed. The Foundation of Biblical Authority. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978.

    Carson, D.A., and John Woodbridge, eds. Hermeneutics, Authority, and Canon. Grand
    Rapids: Zondervan, 1986. _______. Scripture and Truth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983.

    Feinberg, Paul. “Bible, Inerrancy and Infallibility of.” In EDT pp. 141–45.

    Geisler, Norman, ed. Biblical Errancy: An Analysis of Its Philosophical Roots. Grand Rapids:
    Zondervan, 1981. _______. ed. Inerrancy. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979 (papers from the October 1978 Chicago Conference of the ICBI).

    Haley, John W. Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible. Repr. ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977
    (first published 1874).

    Lindsell, Harold. The Battle for the Bible.Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976. _______. The Bible in the Balance. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.

    Walter Elwell, ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984.

    Montgomery, John W., ed. God’’s Inerrant Word. Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1974.

    Packer, J.I. “Scripture.” In NDT pp. 627–31. _______. “Infallibility and Inerrancy of the Bible.” In NDT 337–39.

    Schaeffer, Francis. No Final Conflict: The Bible Without Error in All That It Affirms.

    Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1975.

    Warfield, B.B. Limited Inspiration. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1962.

    Woodbridge, John. Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal. Grand
    Rapids: Zondervan, 1982.

    Young, Edward J. Thy Word Is Truth. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957.

  39. When I wrote “pretentious,” it was in the context of believing that Yeshua-believers who (say they) keep Torah are true Israel, whereas non-Messianic Jews are cut-off, false Israel. You may not be so black and white in your beliefs, but I still think that counts as pretension. Pretentious: pretending to be something other or higher than what you are.

    As a very language-oriented (almost obsessed) person, I often forget that not everyone has my vocabulary. It is very tempting to covet one’s knowledge. Like I said, I know almost nothing about you, so English may as well not even be your first language. I shouldn’t just assume everyone knows what “pejorative” means. Sorry.

    Shalom.

  40. Andrew, It’s ok about your vocabaulary, I learn more words. I just hope I can remember them. 🙂

    I am the Temple of the Almighty and the Spirit and the Son of the Eternal Living God live inside me. I am seated in heavenly places. Would these living beings on the inside of me keeping me in Holiness make me “pretending to be something other or higher than what you are.”?

    Can a person filled with pride recieve the Holy Spirit? Does a person with the Living Spirit of God think too highly of himself? Or did he humble himself expecting to be raised up in the last days as was promised to him?

    I believe Yeshua knows all his sheep and calls them all by name and they are given Eternal Life.

    Yeshua taught this: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.”

    Does this mean the chief priests and the Pharisees lost the Kingdom? Am I part of the nation that will bring forth the fruits of the Kingdom? I tell you the truth, the Kingdom was taken from the chief priests and the pharisees and given to the “sons of God”, believers in Yeshua whatever race. “Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” I am the little flock, we are one”.
    Shalom

  41. You are most certainly pretentious. You use overly dramatic, “Biblical-sounding” language to make an impression of being pious.

  42. I’d hate to burst your bubble, but people aren’t just going to be reformed out of the grave on the Last Day. Physics does not allow.

  43. “the Kingdom was taken from the chief priests and the pharisees and given to the “sons of God””

    When the NT refers to either Yeshua or his followers as “sons of God,” it is using a pre-existing Jewish terminology (as usual). Jesus talked of those that love and serve God as he does as His flock; it is not so much a question of what doctrine is believed.

    I would like you to answer my question: do you believe the 1611 KJV is the only legit translation?

  44. Andrew, No, but the KJV is the only one I have. It was given to me. I read it a lot and tend to think in it. I have most of it in my head after the last 45 years of studying it. Believe it or not, I write like I think and talk and pray. It’s just me, how I am. I don’t pretend. I believe what I say and when I am convinced I am wrong I change.

    Come to think of it, the Lord never complained about me speaking to him in KJV. 🙂

  45. James you said “I’d hate to burst your bubble, but people aren’t just going to be reformed out of the grave on the Last Day. Physics does not allow.”

    What about Job 19?
    For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

  46. The KJV is an unnecessary burden, IMO. Its translation approach predates modern scholarship, and its language had archaic features even in the 17th century. I would much rather learn Hebrew and Greek than strain to read the KJV. Most of the Christian world has moved on to much better translations like the RSV, ESV, NIV, and heck, even the NKJV.

    Job was one of the earliest Biblical texts to be written down, well before Israel had a well-developed sense of the afterlife. However, this passage seems to contradict that. Interesting. On the other hand, look up the parallel translations and you see that the KJV is the only major one that mentions worms or the whole body. All others mention the skin being destroyed. Neither the word for “worms” or for “body” is in the Hebrew manuscript. One more example of how the KJV obscures more than assists.

  47. Sometimes when I’m writing and I need to copy and paste text in from the Bible, I rely on several online sources. Usually I just Google part of the passage I’m thinking of and find the appropriate text at one of the following sources:

    BibleGateway.com: You can use the drop-down box to select different versions of the Bible, depending on your requirements.

    http://bible.cc/: This site presents a verse on a page using numerous different Bible versions, so you can see all of the different translations of that text at the same time.

    I also sometimes read the Torah Portions online. I found a Jewish site that uses the JPS translation. I usually prefer the Stone Edition translation, but JPS isn’t bad. You have to look up the Torah Portion by the portion’s book and chapter/verse range, such as Exodus 1:1-6:1 for this week’s Torah Portion Exodus, also called Shemot in Hebrew.

    Hope this helps.

  48. Peter, that’s a lot to read. I don’t have my complete list of resources in front of my, but in stating that the Bible contains inconsistencies, I’m relying, in part, on the following sources:

    Scripting Jesus by Michael White

    Yeshua in Context by Derek Leman

    How On Earth Did Jesus Become God? by Larry Hurtado

    You might also refer back to the comment Derek made on this blog (scroll up) which I’m quoting again here so you don’t have to search for it:

    Inerrancy is an enlightenment value. It is not a biblical doctrine. If the only texts that could be scripture had to be free from all historical mistakes by the writers, if there had to be no discrepancies between parallel accounts, if everything had to be harmonize-able, what books in the Bible would qualify as scripture.

    Authority and inspiration are biblical doctrines. Inerrancy is not.

    I also refer you back to the example of the different Gospel versions of the death of Jesus. A careful comparision of the different narratives shows that the specific date of the crucifixion does not match up between the Gospel versions. Just what day did Jesus die on? It depends on which Gospel version you read.

    Thanks for your resources. I can’t promise to dive into them immediately as I have a number of other competing priorities in my life, but I will review them as time and financial resources allow.

  49. James and Derek,

    Please read this entire argument and let me know if you think my reasoning or exegesis is flawed:

    The words of the Bible are both human and inspired by G-d.

    2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”

    If the words of the Bible were merely words spoken by men then the Bible would certainly contain many errors both large and small; however, since these words are also inspired by G-d, it is impossible for them to contain any errors of any sort.

    Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”

    2 Sam 7:28 “You are God, and your words are true”

    Titus 1:2 “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began”

    Lastly, if the Bible does contain an error–anything false–then the above verses in which the Bible says that both it and G-d are true must also be false. This, in the final analysis, is why it is unthinkable to deny the inerrancy of Scripture.

    Blessings,

    Peter

  50. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”

    This can be true, even if some of the events described in the Bible are not always literal fact. The moral lessons the Bible teaches are still useful for teaching, rebuking, etc… Also, consider the differences between the different Gospels. They do not tell exactly the same story. In Chasidic tales for example, there can be different versions of the same story and the different versions don’t represent any inaccuracy. They represent the differences in the intended audiences and what each particular audience needs to know. For example, we know that the Book of Matthew was written to a specifically Jewish audience while Luke was targeted for Gentiles. Both Gospels are different from one another but that doesn’t make them “wrong”.

    Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”

    2 Sam 7:28 “You are God, and your words are true”

    Something can be true and not necessary 100% factual. One of my favorite lines from the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) is:

    “Archaeology is the search for fact… not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.”

    Finally, you said:

    Titus 1:2 “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began”

    You are making the assumption that if not every word in the Bible is a literal fact, that God lied. You are also assuming that the Bible needs to be either 100% dictated by God or 100% written by men. You didn’t read my previous comments on this topic very carefully or you just don’t consider the possibility that my interpretation could actually work.

    I’m suggesting that each of the Bible writers was indeed inspired by God and influenced by the Holy Spirit. I’m just saying that the Holy Spirit didn’t actually “possess” each Bible writer, push the Bible writer’s original personality to one side, and completely take over their bodies, writing each and every word in each and every book in the Bible.

    I’m suggesting that the Spirit of God and the Spirit of man, the Bible writers, somehow (and we have no idea how any of this really operated) worked together. God provided the inspiration but the writer provided the words to come out of that inspiration. It was a holy inspiration, so God was definitely involved which gives the Bible a unique standing among documentation that has ever been created, but it is not completely bereft of humanity.

    Here’s an example: When God uses you Peter to serve his will (perhaps by donating food to a homeless shelter, for instance), He does not take over your body and shut down your brain while He is doing that good work through you. You are completely and fully you, and yet because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and your willingness to comply with the Spirit, you may say and do things you ordinarily wouldn’t be willing or able to do. I believe (but can’t prove) that something like this may have been involved in the relationship between God and the Bible writers.

    Here’s another example: We know that the various craftsmen who constructed the tools and objects to be used in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the desert were extremely skilled in their crafts. God gave them those gives from birth, just like God gifts a musician or painter in the modern era. But because all of the objects in the Mishkan had to exactly mirror (as scale models) the original “objects” in the Heavenly Court, the design values and tolerances were extremely specific. Probably no human being could have made objects to those exact specifications, particularly without modern manufacturing techniques. God’s Spirit “worked with” the talents within each of the craftsmen to be able to make their work and products possible.

    Maybe that’s what happened with the Bible writers, too.

    By the way, have you actually opened up the different Gospel versions of the death of Jesus and tried to, moment by moment, map out the timing between the different Gospels? If so, how did it work out?

  51. Peter, if you want Derek to be involved in these comments, you’ll probably have to email him and ask him to pop by. I get the impression he visits my blog only on rare occasion and he probably doesn’t read all of the comments, even when he does visit.

  52. James,

    You wrote:
    “The moral lessons the Bible teaches are still useful for teaching, rebuking, etc”

    The Bible does not make any restrictions on the kinds of genres (e.g. didactic, historical narrative, etc) to which it speaks truthfully. It says that ALL Scripture is inspired. So I ask you again: why would G-d with His character of perfect Truth inspire someone to be inaccurate?

    And the gospels are written largely as historical narrative concerning some of the most important events–including THE most important event–in the history of humanity. Why wouldn’t G-d want the writers of the gospels then to be totally accurate as to this most important bit of history? These are not Chassidic tales meant to be received as morality lessons–the gospels are perfectly accurate records of the most important event in history.

    If you don’t accept the fact that I can prove that the majority of Protestants consider inerrancy to be a fundamental doctrine (which if you read those references it should be evident), then at least answer my primary question:

    Why would G-d with His character of perfect Truth inspire someone to be inaccurate?

    Your brother in Yeshua,

    Peter

  53. Truth: a system of concepts purporting to represent some aspect of the world, i.e “the truths of ancient religions.”

    Fact: something known to exist or to have happened, i.e “Space travel is now a fact.” Also, known by actual experience or observation, i.e. “something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.”

    Source: Dictonary.com

    An exhaustive search of the definitions of “truth” and “fact” will indicate that sometimes the words are used interchangeably, as indeed you seem to be using them, Peter. However, I’m choosing to use the words as defined above. In other words (as I’ve said before), something can be the truth without necessarily being a fact.

    And the gospels are written largely as historical narrative concerning some of the most important events–including THE most important event–in the history of humanity.

    And yet, the Gospels and parts of the rest of the Bible contain various internal inconsistencies, such as how the different Gospel versions of the death of Jesus do not match up chronologically.

    That does not invalidate the truth of the Gospel accounts, but factually they cannot be resolved. Based on that observation, your following statement cannot be supported:

    the gospels are perfectly accurate records of the most important event in history. (emphasis mine)

    You ask the question:

    Why would G-d with His character of perfect Truth inspire someone to be inaccurate?

    I’m tempted to turn the question around and ask, “With the Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus not matching up chronologically in fact, does that make the truth of the Bible inaccurate or only minor factors of dates and times?”

    With my understanding of the above-cited example (rendition of the death of Jesus in the different Gospels), I have no idea why God chose to have the Bible written the way it was, but apparently, He did. You criticize me for not having read to the long list of resources you provided me this morning, and I most likely will read them…eventually, as time and my finances allow (I can’t afford to buy every book I want to read, especially all at once, nor can I read at “the speed of light”, so it will take me awhile to consume all that matter, even if I devote 100% of my waking hours to it, which I cannot do).

    I can probably assume that since this morning, you haven’t purchased and read the three books I suggested and I have no idea if you’ve tried to compare the different Gospel versions of the death of Jesus and match them up (or fail to) chronologically.

    I did a “quick and dirty” Google search on the topic and came up with a small article written by a guy named Dennis Bratcher. The blog provides a nice little table comparing the crucifixion in the four Gospels and how the chronology doesn’t match up. His conclusion is that the differences don’t invalidate the fact that the crucifixion took place, but that the different renditions of this event process (to use Bratcher’s own words):

    “…the historical event into a faith confession about the nature of God at work in Christ, and what this historical event means for humanity and the church. It is to that theological witness that we must listen rather than becoming bogged down in trying to make the historical details fit. To miss the larger message, to lose sight of the forest while looking at the trees, is to violate what both Luke and John tell us is the purpose for the Gospels being written in the first place.”

    As you can see, Christianity has been wrestling with this topic for quite some time and I think Bratcher’s response to the conflict is as good as any.

  54. “You criticize me for not having read to the long list of resources you provided me this morning…”

    I apologize if it came across that way. That was not the intent.

    Blessings to you in your work,

    Peter

  55. No worries, Peter. It’s a natural consequence of Internet communications. Please keep in mind that just because we disagree on a topic doesn’t mean that I’m chasing you away. There is no learning without disagreement and debate.

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