Did Canon Close for Christians and Jews?

Talmud Study by LamplightWhen we asked Major General Farkash why Israel’s military is so antihierarchical and open to questioning, he told us it was not just the military but Israel’s entire society and history. “Our religion is an open book,” he said, in a subtle European accent that traces back to his early years in Transylvania. The “open book” he was referring to was the Talmud — a dense recording of centuries of rabbinic debates over how to interpret the Bible and obey its laws — and the corresponding attitude of questioning is built into Jewish religion, as well as into the national ethos of Israel

As Israeli author Amos Oz has said, Judaism and Israel have always cultivated “a culture of doubt and argument, an open-ended game of interpretations, counter-interpretations, reinterpretations, opposing interpretations. From the very beginning of the existence of the Jewish civilization, it was recognized by its argumentativeness.

-Dan Senor and Saul Singer
“Chapter 2: Battlefield Entrepreneurs,” pg 51
Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle

Less widely appreciated, though, is the paradox that in Judaism the canon remained fluid even as it became fixed. The word of God, unlike the language of humans, was deemed to bear an infinity of meanings with the result that canon spawned commentary. Of all literary genres, commentary is the least appealing to the modern temperament with its penchant for speed, novelty, and self-expression. Yet it is the key to Judaism’s singular achievement: a canon without closure. Revelation proved to be expansive rather than restrictive. The right, indeed the obligation, of every Jew is to plumb the Bible for meaning kept the text open, pliant, and relevant in a conversation that spanned the ages.

-Ismar Schorsch
“Introduction,” pp xv-xvi
Canon Without Closure: Torah Commentaries

This is probably one of the fundamental differences between Christianity and Judaism: the belief that it is “normal” to not agree about religion and what the Bible says. Add to this, the belief that Biblical canon is not immutably fixed across time and in fact, that interpretations of the Bible must change across time in order to remain relevant, and you have a tremendous barrier between Christianity and Judaism as religious entities.

Well, sort of.

I’m talking about the various branches of Judaism vs. fundamentalism in Christianity. If you shift to the other end of the spectrum, the view becomes different.

Simply put, the desire for an original source document is one that we’ll likely never overcome because we’ve been taught that a “source” must always exist. We assume that in order for the written word to be valid, it must be verifiable, because we were raised in the era of book reports and footnotes. The Bible, however, is a not a term paper written to appease a persnickety professor. Rather, the Bible is a written collection of generations-old, evolving oral stories as they existed at the time they were written down. Someone chose to record a tiny piece of the evolving oral tales in writing, capturing one solitary moment in the life of the story. Even in cases where the works were copied from other documents, it is probably not proper to wonder where the “source” document is, because the source was the spoken word.

From what I’ve gleaned in the essay written by Fowler and other writers, we erroneously believe that the preservation of God’s Word is the same as preserving each string of words. We also erroneously equate preserving God’s Word with preserving an interpretation of the Word. We spend a lot of time chopping scripture into sound bytes and mining tiny details of our stories, but this is not how ancient storytellers and hearers engaged these stories… We differ in approach because our high level of literacy has made us letter-focused, rather than spirit-focused, when a more faithful use of the text would be to focus on the power of story to bring people together.

-Crystal St. Marie Lewis
“Our Literary Bias: What it is and How it Affects our Perception of Scripture”
CrystalStMarieLewis.com

BibleStorytellingThe blog author is commenting on an essay written by Robert M. Fowler called “Why Everything We Know About the Bible is Wrong.” I’d love to be able to read this essay myself. I commented on Ms. St. Marie Lewis’s blog asking for the source and she was gracious enough to supply the relevant link.

According to her brief bio, Ms. St. Marie Lewis says that she “writes from the perspective of a progressive Christian about religion and how it relates to the world around us,” which should tell you that she’s unlikely to reflect a fundamentalist Christian viewpoint. However, it’s her progressive perspective that is more likely to fold into, at least to some degree, the Jewish idea that canon is not rigidly fixed.

The church I attend is Baptist and generally supports a dispensationalist point of view:

Dispensationalism is an evangelical, futurist, Biblical interpretation that understands God to have related to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants in a series of “dispensations,” or periods in history.

One of the most important underlying theological concepts for dispensationalism is progressive revelation. While some non-dispensationalists start with progressive revelation in the New Testament and refer this revelation back into the Old Testament, dispensationalists begin with progressive revelation in the Old Testament and read forward in a historical sense. Therefore there is an emphasis on a gradually developed unity as seen in the entirety of Scripture. Biblical covenants are intricately tied to the dispensations. When these Biblical covenants are compared and contrasted, the result is a historical ordering of different dispensations. Also with regard to the different Biblical covenant promises, dispensationalism emphasises to whom these promises were written, the original recipients. This has led to certain fundamental dispensational beliefs, such as a distinction between Israel and the Church.

History_of_Dispensationalism_Darby_IIIDispensationalist don’t see themselves as reinterpreting the Bible from a human standpoint to adjust to the requirements of different generations, but nevertheless, they do take the text and view it as becoming more densely packed with information as it progresses from past to future, making “the Church” the ultimate receiver of the highest and most “evolved” revelations of God, somewhat in contradiction to the level of intimacy that someone like Moses would have experienced at having spoken with God “face to face” (the level of intimacy implied here is that of a husband and wife) as it were.

If dispensationalists believe that God progressively revealed Himself up to the end of the Biblical period and then stopped, that’s one thing, but what if they believe that God’s progressive revelation progressed after the end of the Biblical canon and for many centuries to follow?

John Nelson Darby is recognized as the father of dispensationalism,[1]:10, 293 later made popular in the United States by Cyrus Scofield’s Scofield Reference Bible. Charles Henry Mackintosh, 1820–96, with his popular style spread Darby’s teachings to humbler elements in society and may be regarded as the journalist of the Brethren Movement. Mackintosh popularized Darby more than any other Brethren author.

As there was no Christian teaching of a “rapture” before Darby began preaching about it in the 1830s, he is sometimes credited with originating the “secret rapture” theory wherein Christ will suddenly remove his bride, the Church, from this world before the judgments of the tribulation. Dispensationalist beliefs about the fate of the Jews and the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Israel put dispensationalists at the forefront of Christian Zionism, because “God is able to graft them in again”, and they believe that in his grace he will do so according to their understanding of Old Testament prophecy. They believe that, while the methodologies of God may change, his purposes to bless Israel will never be forgotten, just as he has shown unmerited favour to the Church, he will do so to a remnant of Israel to fulfill all the promises made to the genetic seed of Abraham.

Um…whoa! As it says at Wikipedia, it seems as if progressive revelation continued to progress well past the Biblical period and into modern times. How else do you get doctrines such as progressive revelation, the rapture, and Calvinism that didn’t exist in Biblical times and were created closer to the 21st century than to the 1st century? Why did God “reveal” these concepts to Christians so much later in history (and after the Christian Biblical canon was theoretically closed) and how does all this compare to the basic viewpoint of Rabbinic Judaism?

The feature that distinguishes Rabbinic Judaism is the belief in the Oral Law or Oral Torah. The authority for that position has been the tradition taught by the Rabbis that the oral law was transmitted to Moses at Mount Sinai at the same time as the Written Law and that the Oral Law has been transmitted from generation to generation since. The Talmud is said to be a codification of the Oral Law, and is thereby just as binding as the Torah itself. To demonstrate this position some point to the Exodus 18 and Numbers 11 of the Bible are cited to show that Moses appointed elders to govern with him and to judge disputes, imparting to them details and guidance of how to interpret the revelations from God while carrying out their duties. Additionally, all the laws in the Written Torah are recorded only as part of a narrative describing God telling these law to Moses and commanding him to transmit them orally to the Jewish nation. None of the laws in the Written Law are presented as instructions to the reader.

The oral law was subsequently codified in the Mishnah and Gemara, and is interpreted in Rabbinic literature detailing subsequent rabbinic decisions and writings. Rabbinic Jewish literature is predicated on the belief that the Torah cannot be properly understood without recourse to the Oral Law. Indeed, it states that many commandments and stipulations contained in the Torah would be difficult, if not impossible, to keep without the Oral Law to define them — for example, the prohibition to do any “creative work” (“melakha”) on the Sabbath, which is given no definition in the Torah, and only given practical meaning by the definition of what constitutes ‘Melacha’ provided by the Oral Law and passed down orally through the ages. Numerous examples exist of this general prohibitive language in the Torah (such as, “don’t steal”, without defining what is considered theft, or ownership and property laws), requiring — according to Rabbinic thought — a subsequent crystallization and definition through the Oral Law. Thus Rabbinic Judaism claims that almost all directives, both positive and negative, in the Torah are non-specific in nature and would therefore require the existence of either an Oral Law tradition to explain them, or some other method of defining their detail.

bible_read_meI know that Christian progressive revelation in the post-Biblical period and the development of Rabbinic Judaism in the post-Second Temple period don’t seem particularly related, but look at the core of what they both accomplish. They both state that the various authorities in each of these religions take the Bible as the base source material and interpret it (either via the Holy Spirit in Christian understanding or under the authority God gave the Rabbinic sages) across time in order to meet the requirements of each generation. Although Christianity likes to believe it has closed the canon at the end of the book of Revelation, the fact that many doctrines have been created in post-Biblical times that would have been alien to Jesus, Peter, and Paul attest to the opposite.

Judaism, if anything, is more upfront with what it has been doing. The Bible may be a fixed document, but it’s how we interpret it at any given point in history that gives it a lived meaning in the Christian and Jewish worlds. Are any of us truly living “Biblical lives” or are we actually living “Doctrinal lives” as interpreted by our different denominations, sects, and movements?

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23 thoughts on “Did Canon Close for Christians and Jews?”

  1. Very well made point, though we can both agree that both Protestants and Jews believe that the Written Torah is a closed canon. Rabbinic Judaism has indeed been more “honest” about their commentaries. I’ve seen Protestants shred each other over doctrinal differences with more fervor and less goodwill than the rabbis, who said, for instance, that the debates between Hillel and Shammai were both “for the sake of Heaven.”

  2. I have seen rigidity in both groups (Jewish and Protestant.) You find this especially in the various Orthodox groups, but their focus is more on practice than doctrine, rather than the reverse in Protestantism. For example, Orthodox Jews are concerned that secular Jews don’t keep kosher and Shabbat; not so much that they don’t believe in God. You have those who write articles entitled, “Why Jews don’t believe in Jesus.” Last time I looked, Jewish people didn’t have a Pope who decided what all Jews believe or don’t believe. And we are admonished to seek the ancient paths. Progressivism can end up just being a compromise with the values of a generation, rather than being saved from this wicked and perverse generation. Reform Jews are pretty rigid in their political liberalism. But I suppose it was a blessing that Jewish groups didn’t have the numbers or political clout to completely isolate themselves from each other (although some groups do this) or kill each other in bloody wars on a major scale. We know that the Maccabees killed Hellenistic Jews and Bar Kochba killed Jews who refused to follow him. But we are aware of the teaching of baseless hatred, and that sages teach this led to the destruction of the second temple. There was also baseless hatred of Yeshua and his early followers. I wouldn’t say hatred of his later followers was baseless.

    Polemics is ubiquitous: I define who I am by drawing lines around myself and saying, “I am not you.” The implication is, “I am not only not you, but I am better than you.” But if I am to be honest, some of the same sin I see in you is in me also.

    I can tell you, that growing up in a traditional, but not very religious family, that we mocked the Orthodox for their inflexible religiosity, while we looked down our noses upon the “goyim,” among us who ate ham and cheese.

    So perhaps the reason the grass is greener on the other side, is because it is on the other side 🙂

  3. It’s a human quality to define ourselves based on what and who we are against, but I don’t think that’s how God defines us. All of our different religious streams are systems we have constructed to help us interpret and implement what we read in the Bible. I suspect none of them are as close to the will and intent of God for human beings as we think they are. I’m trying to rattle the cages, so to speak, to get especially Christianity to realize that we aren’t particularly closer to the Bible than religious Jewish people.

  4. Having travelled in several Baptist circles in the past, I really appreciate this! I had a hard-core dispensationalist tell me once that what I believed about the Torah was ignorant and stupid, and that I just needed to understand the dispensations. That’s nearly verbatim what he said.
    Then of course we encounter the same attitudes in quasi-Messianic groups who claim to be “purely Biblical,” rejecting both Christian and Jewish man-made doctrine. Uh huh. Right. It would be interesting to ask those folks whether they accept the rapture teaching, perhaps? Or if they welcome Shabbat with challah?
    I think your above comment states your thesis very well. “I’m trying to rattle the cages, so to speak, to get especially Christianity to realize that we aren’t particularly closer to the Bible than religious Jewish people.” Rattle away!!

  5. Thanks, Kari.

    To be fair, we should be willing to rattle our own cages from time to time to make sure we aren’t falling into the same trap as we believe others are. No one is immune. We all have our own blind spots, our pet theologies and doctrines and such.

    I think we can all be guilty of clinging to a favorite perspective and using it to elevate ourselves at the expense of others.

    You raise a good point about “quasi-Messianic groups” who, having become disillusioned with “the Church,” form their own congregations, some of which are loosely based on a combination of Christian and Jewish practice, while simultaneously declaring themselves superior to both. The minute some person or group says they’ve got the inside track to God, the Bible/Torah, and holiness, I figure they missed a few steps along the way.

    For my part, a life of faith makes me feel kind of edgy all of the time. There’s just so much out there. God is infinite. Why don’t we feel small, scared, and humbled all of the time?

  6. Another reason we need to stir the pot is to make sure whatever we’re cooking doesn’t get burnt and stuck to the bottom, ruining the flavor of our meal.

  7. James, I wrote that in my article. 🙂 But there are those who are heavily invested in “no stirring,” “no shaking,” theology. Sometimes you can strain the stew; sometimes it needs to be thrown out.

  8. Hi James. There’s a lot in your post today, but perhaps some confusion between the origins of Scripture, the process of in-scripturation (writing), and interpretation. There are many issues involved in the reliability of the Scriptures and it is all too easy to present any or all of them in skewed ways, however unintentionally. Based on two reviews of the Fowler article (and the full anthology in which it is included), he seems to have done just that. The premise of his article and the book the notion of the bible as a collection of written accounts of oral stories. (Of course, this would not apply to the letters and huge portions of the Tanakh such as Psalms, Proverbs,etc.). It does apply to the gospels, but I disagree with certain implications of Ms. St. Marie Lewis’ summary statement “we erroneously believe that the preservation of God’s Word is the same as preserving each string of words.” Well, yes and no. How many “strings of words” can we lose before “the Word” is lost? How many times could Fowler’s article (or your blog post) be passed along orally before his original Word, which he expresses in strings of words, becomes muddy and turns into something he (or you) never intended? How many “strings of words” in the gospels can be wrong before the Word is indecipherable in them?

    (Many variant wordings appear in gospel manuscripts, but scholars labor to find the most reliable “strings of words” rather than discount their importance.)

    I argue that Luke’s approach represents the mind of the early believers who were involved in writing down the stories:

    1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1 NASB)

    Can I suggest that Luke, his contemporaries, and successors knew the customs, capabilities, and expectations of the gospel audiences far better than any of us do today? Or was he under a delusion that his written text could produce certainty? You see, these things were written down because the Commonwealth of Israel was spreading far beyond the reach of individual story tellers (who, according to modern studies of oral cultures, did not have the magical memory often ascribed to them). They had to be written down or there would have been little to instruct new believers across the Mediterranean basin.

    Recent scholarship has shown that it is helpful to understand the oral environment in which the gospel stories were first told. However, there was also a vital written culture at that time and people understood the important status of written texts (thus the status of scribes who enabled their transmission). The following quote is a symptom of a skewed mode of interpretation: “We differ in approach because our high level of literacy has made us letter-focused, rather than spirit-focused . . ” Really? Take a look at how many times Yeshua quotes the written words of Isaiah, the Psalms, etc. Was Messiah letter-focused rather than spirit-focused? Is it not possible for us to walk in his footsteps? Ms. St. Marie Lewis continues, “. . . when a more faithful use of the text would be to focus on the power of story to bring people together.” Based on the text of the gospels and the stories they reflect, Yeshua’s goal was not “to bring people together” but to form a community of the faithful who believed and, however imperfectly, lived his message to repent for because the kingdom of heaven is near.

    Scripture is, in a sense, a partnership between One who inspired and those who wrote (including those who wrote accounts of stories). And God knows, better than Luke and us, what must ultimately be transmitted in written form in order for the Body of Believers to thrive.

  9. First of all, thanks for taking the time to write such a lengthy and informative comment, Carl. I know you are very busy and I appreciate your involvement in this blog post.

    Can I suggest that Luke, his contemporaries, and successors knew the customs, capabilities, and expectations of the gospel audiences far better than any of us do today?

    Recent scholarship has shown that it is helpful to understand the oral environment in which the gospel stories were first told.

    That’s part of what I think many Bible scholars miss when interpreting the various texts. Some folks say they take the context into consideration, but not necessarily how the original Jewish and Gentile audiences were expected to comprehend these messages given their cultural, historical, and theological mindsets.

    However, there was also a vital written culture at that time and people understood the important status of written texts (thus the status of scribes who enabled their transmission).

    That’s the other part that’s kind of crazy making. I don’t think illiteracy was as big an issue among the apostles and disciples as many people make it out to be. Otherwise, what would be the point of Paul writing all those letters? Also, as you say, The word of God had been recorded in writing since the time of Moses and perhaps before, so the Jewish people had an extremely long history and tradition of writing down their experiences with God.

    Scripture is, in a sense, a partnership between One who inspired and those who wrote (including those who wrote accounts of stories). And God knows, better than Luke and us, what must ultimately be transmitted in written form in order for the Body of Believers to thrive.

    This is the most interesting part of the process of the creation of the Word of God for me. Just what happens when God inspires a Biblical author? How much of the “product” is God and how much of it is human being? While God obviously intends for us to fully understand His will and intent because He’s using human language and human authors, unless God just “takes over” or “possesses” the Biblical writers so that it’s more a matter of dictation than inspiration, how much of the human influence introduces limitations to what we have in the Bible?

  10. I forgot to mention that part of this blog post is an attempt to look at how Christianity and Judaism take the Biblical text forward in time and create not only new interpretations, but perhaps new “canon” … ways to understanding the Bible that become unquestionable within their various religious streams. Christians criticize the Jewish sages for doing this, but I think Protestantism is just as guilty. If I tried questioning the pre-trib rapture in my church, the response from the other people attending would probably prove my point.

  11. “Although Christianity likes to believe it has closed the canon at the end of the book of Revelation, the fact that many doctrines have been created in post-Biblical times that would have been alien to Jesus, Peter, and Paul attest to the opposite.”

    Yes, those doctrines have been created – parts of scripture were pulled out of context and interpreted in such a way to suit the ideas and desires of men. Those ideas (like Calvinism and Dispensationalism) are not the revelation of God and should be avoided like the plague.

    I think the important question does not relate to whether the canon has closed or not – but whether any supposed new revelation remains consistent with the existing canon.

  12. That begs the question of whether or not there are new revelations from God in post-Biblical times and if we don’t call them canon, what do we say about them?

  13. What does scripture itself say about God’s ability and willingness to speak to His people today? Scripture makes it clear that the role of prophet remains valid – and what do they speak if not revelation from God?
    I see the question about “canon” in this way…
    The OT mentions the existence of many prophets whose words never made it into scripture, or to put it another way did not become part of “the canon”. Therefore I have no problem with recognising the existence of present day prophets conveying revelation from God that is not required to be seen as an addition to scripture.

    Scripture is a record of universal revelation that has relevance for all time and for all people. There can also be revelation that has more localised relevance without any wider importance and therefore does not have the universal application of scripture (as can be seen from the “unknown” OT prophets referred to above).
    Of course any more localised revelation would fail the test of legitimacy if it contradicted the recognised revelation of scripture

  14. It seems to me that this discussion could benefit, just about now, from a reminder of the actual definition of a “canon”, which derives from a Greek word meaning “model”. Essentially it is the standard or criteria by which other material is evaluated. The word has been applied also to bodies of Science Fiction literature that establish the rules of a given hypothetical Universe, including such aspects as its history, politics, peoples, and worldviews. Hence the approved or authorized or already evaluated books constituting literature bodies such as the Torah/Pentateuch, the Tenakh, the apostolic writings, and additional Jewish literature such as the intertestamental Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Talmud, Midrashim, Responsa, and the like may be used to form canonical compilations. Judaism recognizes several levels of hierarchy in its evaluation of authority or “canonicity” for such materials, with Torah at the highest level (though some would insist that Talmud/Chazal represent a more practical compilation of its representative views). The notion of prophecy is something that the Torah demands must be evaluated by certain key principles, one of which is accuracy and another is its implications for loyalty to HaShem (and His Torah instructions). Hence prophecy can never establish “canon”, but rather must be evaluated by it. Talmud does not establish canon, because it is rather a development that is dependent upon it. Oral Torah, that can establish and even modify halakhah, is dependent upon the canon of written Torah. Canon is not progressive or changing; it is a fixed reliable foundation on which behavioral systems may be built. In the case of the biblical literature, re-interpretation is a necessary part of such developments because many adherents to a given system are not native to the languages of the source literatures. However, as noted above for the case of biblical literature, it is possible to develop hierarchies of material and to view a combination of multiple nested compilations as canonical for a particular system. In other words, the “Bible”, viewed as a canon for Rav Yeshua messianists whether Jewish or non-Jewish, comprises Torah, Nevi-im, K’tuvim, Besorot (“Gospels”), Ma’asim (“Acts”), apostolic letters, and an apocalyptic prophecy (“Revelation”). Regardless of any value that may be placed upon additional Apocryphal books, Mishnah, Midrash, other Jewish literature, or even Schofield Notes and other commentaries (or any “prophecies”), the biblical canon may not be changed and must serve as the basis for evaluating any other developments (despite the occasional arguments about some item that should or should not have been included within the canonical compilation). The discussion about how one may formulate a given canon and qualify its contents is rather beyond the scope of the current topic, though it does relate to the notion of when or for how long a given canon may be opened before it is closed in order to perform its canonical function.

  15. In the case of the biblical literature, re-interpretation is a necessary part of such developments…

    And therein lies my point. Just how far can the fixed canon, that is, the Bible, be reinterpreted before it becomes something Rav Yeshua and the original disciples wouldn’t recognized and, for that matter, something God never intended. Can we ever know?

  16. My use of the term “re-interpretation” was not intended to declare open season for “re-invention”, but merely an opportunity to improve upon past failures by utilizing recent advances in archeology and other sciences and skills that cast light upon the ancient world to which the literature was addressed. It is also the opportunity to correct distortions that were introduced for historical political reasons. When one’s goal is accuracy, one may have some confidence about approaching closer to what the original disciples would recognize and what HaShem intended. So I believe that one can know. However, the need for current re-interpretation also underscores the danger from which we have suffered repeatedly throughout history, which reflects human desires and willingness to distort the truth in order to pursue them. There have always been some who do not wish to know what can be known, because it conflicts with their desired worldview.

    Similarly, the Torah’s authorization of qualified people to interpret the proper application of Torah for each generation of Jewish civilization, and the Oral Torah that encompassed the background cultural knowledge which enabled them to perform this function, do not declare “carte blanche” for re-interpreting the Torah to say things it does not intend. Certainly some rabbinical statements have given that impression, as they go so far rhetorically as to allow the rabbis to declare that black is white and vice versa and to be obeyed accordingly. But such statements represent an exaggeration and a rhetorical flourish emphasizing that authority does exist; nonetheless the goal of properly qualified Torah authorities has always been to ensure that the spirit of Torah is observed even if some circumstance should prohibit its letter from being applied literally at some given time (e.g., following the Hurban). If ever they have erred in the past, perhaps for reasons similar to those cited in the preceding paragraph, it becomes the responsibility of subsequent generations of qualified authorities to correct the matter suitably for the current (and perhaps subsequent) generation(s). It might even be considered an individual responsibility to help them to do so.

  17. If ever they have erred in the past, perhaps for reasons similar to those cited in the preceding paragraph, it becomes the responsibility of subsequent generations of qualified authorities to correct the matter suitably for the current (and perhaps subsequent) generation(s). It might even be considered an individual responsibility to help them to do so.

    I hope we’re doing that now by encouraging traditional Christians to re-examine the scriptures from a fresh perspective, one that allows for a Judaic viewpoint of Messiah, the acts of the apostles, and the relationship between Jewish and non-Jewish disciples.

  18. Onesimus, I left a comment on your blog. I believe in fresh, rather than new revelation, and as Onesimus mentioned in his article, prophecy is more forthtelling than foretelling. Folks tend to emphasize the foretelling aspect. Torah tells us that anyone who either speaks a prophecy of a future even that does not come true, or contradicts the torah, is a false prophet. I think our approach in studying scripture is to seek to understand how it was understood by its original listeners. We are told we can ask for wisdom. I suppose I had an advantage growing up with little religious indoctrination.

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