Talk:Bible/Archive 10

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adding links " Old Covenant and New Covenant immediately to opening of main article " Bible "[edit]

In the opening of the main article the : Bible , we soon come to the sentence which gives reference to the Old Testament and the New Testament ......... both references ( O.T and N.T. ) are links directly to Old Testament and New Testament which are part of the series on , " the Bible " , found under the sub series , " Biblical Canon " ......... I would like to see and think it a good idea , that immediately connected to the links Old Testament and New Testament are added the links " Old Covenant and New Covenant ............ my proposal would edit the specific sentence as follows : It divides the books of the Bible into two parts : the books of the Old Testament or Old Covenant , primarily sources from the Tanakh ( with some variations ) , and the 27 books of the New Testament or New Covenant contaning books originally written primarily in Greek ........... my reasoning is that these extra links would allow the option for one to access immediately the grander and more specific meanings of the titles Old Testament and New Testament , as oppossed to eventually finding these meanings as sub-parts under O.T. and N.T. ......... in an overall understanding of the Holy Bible , these two Covenants are major key if not a prime key ........... respectfully requesting consideration and discussion on my proposal for edit .......... Pilotwingz 03:37, 14 November 2007 (UTC)Pilotwingz 03:45, 14 November 2007 (UTC)Pilotwingz 23:06, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Covenant is indeed a grand theme by which to understand the Bible, it is also the explicit idea of testamentum in the Latin Vetus Testamentum and Greek he kaine diatheke. The Wiki linking system is also, as you suggest, an ideal way to concisely and transparently make additional information accessible. The Hebrew word for the idea (which is the original) is berit. I am sure what you suggest can be accomodated in the article in a way that enhances it, without detracting from anything.
Be bold, go ahead and make the change you suggest. I think it likely it will be accepted. If it is not, we can consider whatever reasons other editors may provide against the change. Alastair Haines 03:14, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

I need some help with creating the proper links and approach to achieve the objective ........... first I ask to be excused in that I made an improper assumtion that " Old Covenant " , would naturally be found as a sub-article in the series Bible ......... It is not , but rather links only and directly to another existing Wiki. article relating to the Iceland and Norwegian pact , known as Gissurarsattmali or Gissur's covenant . I am not certain that article should be titled Old Covenant instead of Gissurarsattmali ( Gissur's covenant ), but the Iceland authoritive contributors seem to be ........... In the religious theological aspect of Old Covenant ( Old Teastament ), I would have to say that it is a concept ( of Israel's Holy Words ) which is strickly Christian and reasonably well covered under the Wiki. article New Covenant ........... Christians are the only ones to have the titles of Old Testament and New Testament sections , and the total of all writings within these two sections comprise the book called the Holy Bible ( Bible ) .......... The Holy Bible ( Bible ) is strickly a Christian Holy book , because in no other realm could it's contents in entirety be considered . And that is the outcome of adding or combining the New Covenant ( New Testament ) with Israel's Holy Words ........... Israel is still waiting for Messiah to come , and Christians have known Messiah as the Lord , Christ Jesus ........... at the moment I am unable to configure the proper approach to achieve the Covenant objective I believe should be introduced in immediate relation to Old Testament and New Testament as writen in the opening of the Bible article ........... any theological speak ( be it atheistic or divine ) of the concepts arising from the Holy Words is not appropriate for a documentarily written article such as Wiki. Bible , but the inclussion of a concepts title is ........... I think perhaps a brief sentence ( immediately following the original in the article ) explaining the English transliteration of testament / covenant from the Latin , Greek and Hebrew words with the existing link to New Covenant might be an acceptable approach ............ as for the moment , I'm tired and respectfully request consideration , discussion and aid in achieving the Covenant objective in immediate relation to Testament . Pilotwingz 05:01, 16 November 2007 (UTC) Pilotwingz

If I understand your point correctly — that Christian understanding of Bible naturally and immediately brings to mind two Testaments, which is to say, two Covenants, and hence the article should reflect that in its description — ... if that is your point, then I agree with you. However, it is worth remembering this article is also covering Jewish use of the word Bible. In Jewish usage, Bible naturally and immediately brings to mind three sections — Law (Torah), Prophets (Navi'im) and Writings (Ketuvim) — the TaNaKh.
In sharing an article describing what is meant by Bible, there are many things that Jewish and Christian people, scholars and officials would say in common. There are other things about which they disagree. There are still other things about which there are internal differences among Jewish people or among Christian people. Covenant in the sense of Old and New is not a Jewish idea. The Hebrew Bible speaks of several specific covenants (Noah, Abraham, Moses and David for example), also of covenant renewal and of The Eternal Covenant (Berit Olam). Naturally Jewish people do not call their scriptures The Old Covenant, because they recognize no newer ones, and because those scriptures talk of many covenants, not just one.
The place for discussing Covenant (as Old and New) is at the point of introducing the New Testament, since he kaine diatheke (literally The New Covenant) is the New Testament's autonym. The name New Testament is actually older than Old Testament, which was a natural name for the "other part that comes before the New Testament".
I'll stop there. Is what I am saying helpful? or is it unclear? What do you think? Alastair Haines (talk) 14:34, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Ref Jeremiah 31:31-32 for the Jewish New Covenant different from that of the Old Covenant with Moses. -Bikinibomb (talk) 18:22, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, aside from the fact that that verse has nothing to do with this topic i.e. the New Testament, which, according to Paul, is a covenant with all humanity (not specifically Israel) ... this is just your (or my) interpretation of a primary source; using it as the basis for editing the article will violate NOR. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:06, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Responding to "Covenant in the sense of Old and New is not a Jewish idea." If the Jeremiah text states NC, then NC is not just an NT idea. Forking it out of the Tanach exclusively into the NT is POV. -Bikinibomb (talk) 22:47, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Additionally Jeremiah 31:27 addresses the so-called "grafting in" of Gentiles for the NC as you mentioned concerning possible origination of the idea with Paul, I'll try to find some sources for that as well to avoid being an issue of OR. -Bikinibomb (talk) 23:05, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
You must misunderstand Alistair, who is quite right - and quite specific. he is refering not to some vague or genersal idea of "a" new covenant. he is talking about the specific new covenant represented in the Christian New Testament. And he is quite right that this is not a Jewish idea. I do not think he meant that Jews have not had ideas about a variety of covenants. i think he is refering spoecifically to the one described in the New Testemant. It is that "new covenant" that is not Jewish. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:41, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
NC described in NT is asserted to be of Jewish origin, namely from Jesus the Jew. It is more accurate to say that it is not an idea embraced by modern Judaism, rather than say it is not a Jewish idea, since whether or not it actually originated from a Jew is currently POV. You understand that Judaism and Jewishness are not always synonymous terms. -Bikinibomb (talk) 00:11, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
You are making two assumptions: first, that the account of Jesus's teachings in the Gospels are identical to the teachings of the actual Jesus, and second, that Jesus' references to a new covenant refer to the Christian conception of the new covenant as opposed to the Jewish conception of the new covenant. I am sure many people share these assumptions and it is a notable POV. But I know that many Bible scholars would not take either assumption for granted. On the contrary, many historians suggest that elements of the account of Jesus in the Gospels were interpolated by Christians a hundred or more years after Jesus was executed. Moreover, many historians suggest that Christian interpretations of Jesus' words are historically implausible and that there are more plausible interpretations of his words that do not coincide with Christian beliefs. You do not have to agree with this POV, but it is just as notable as yours. Slrubenstein | Talk 00:26, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
That's another issue, Christian/Church NC vs. NC as intended by Jesus, which agreed is much POV. The issue I'm addressing is NT NC being written off as not Jewish and not the same as Tanach NC. Again it is more accurate to say that both are purported to be Jewish and the same covenants, citing sources for and against each position, rather than organizing articles based on one religion's doctrine since that blows NPOV out of the water. In other words the Biblical text should be determining how what is placed where, not favorite POVs. That was my concern here. -Bikinibomb (talk) 00:44, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

The word Testament means Covenant in relation to the Christian Bible sections Old Testament and New Testament . The word covenant is an English translation of the original Hebrew word for beriyth ( ber-eeth' ) . In the New Testament the words testament and covenant are interchangable as synonyms translated from the Greek word for diatheke ( dee-ath-ay'-kay ) . For further theological explanation of The New Testament/Covenant and The Old Testament/Covenant see New Covenant ( link ) .......... Is what I have just written appropriate for an edit immediately following the sentence giving introduction of the Old and New Testaments in the article Bible ??? ......... Alastair , to my understandings , all you have stated here is correct and yes , you do understand me correctly ... question , why berit instead of beriyth ( Strong's 1285 ) ??? .......... Slrubenstein , I don't believe I would be introducing an interpretation of the Pauline doctrine you have mentioned by this edit . Also , that doctrine would be covered in the link to New Covenant .......... Bikinibomb , the theological doctrines relating to Jeremiah 31:31-32 you have mentioned would be covered under the link New Covenant also ....... Pilotwingz (talk) 01:04, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Beriyth is Strong's way of turning a Hebrew word into English letters. Strong uses an old-fashioned way of doing this. In normal Hebrew, vowels are not always indicated, sometimes a Y is used to indicate the vowel I. Strong's system writes this as iy, more modern systems are simpler and just write i. Hebrew has two letters for T, one of which is thought to have been pronounced t in some cases and th in others. Strong adds the h to indicate the presumed appropriate pronunciation, and also to indicate which of the two letter Ts is used in the Hebrew. More modern systems are again simpler and typically simply represent the basic letter. Summary: Strong adds the y and the h using an old-fashioned system intended to give more information. Berit, or b'rit are more modern versions. From memory Strong also indicates the e as e, because it is a very short vowel, not really e at all. It is called shewa and is actually by far the most common vowel in English -- it is the same as the vowel at the end of the definite article in the car. Alastair Haines (talk) 00:35, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I commented over there my plans to neutralize article wording so that it's not dominated with the POV that the OT NC is Jewish material and NT NC is perhaps non-Jewish or Gentile only. Again, the need for sensitivity when speaking of "Jewish" concepts, as opposed to concepts commonly held within the religion of "Judaism," since those are often two different things. Thanks. -Bikinibomb (talk) 01:48, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
I think I appreciate your point Bikinibomb, the New Testament use of "covenant" is widely analysed in literature as originally a kind of Jewish understanding. Indeed, few scholars question that the New Testament was largely written by men both of Jewish heritage and of a religious conviction those men would call Jewish. In fact Paul repeatedly describes himself as a Jew in the New Testament. This very notable POV is the Christian POV of the NT writers. But, of course, Wiki cannot present it as the NPOV.
However much the early Christians presented their position as the authentic Judaism, it never won the support of the Jewish religious authorities. This is recorded in the NT itself, other ancient literature, and modern scholars do not doubt it. Ultimately there is no advantage for Christians to claim to be the authentic representatives of scripturally defined Judaism, presenting this point as proven, because that is manifestly not the case. In fact, the New Testament itself ultimately distinguishes Christians from non-Christian Jews, who it simply describes as Jews. In a sense, there is even evidence within the New Testament that Christians of Jewish background ultimately surrendered their Jewishness.
I hope I'm not saying anything anyone would disagree with so far. My aim here is to argue that conservative Christian editors at Wiki should be content to accept that, from a Neutral Point Of View, Christianity is a notable and successful heretical splinter group from Judaism, that can claim association by background but cannot claim to represent some kind of Jewish perspective even with the acknowledgement that it is of unorthodox character.
This point may seem to be very abstract and subtle, however, it is regularly an issue in other contexts. For example, are Jehovah's Witnesses representatives of an unorthodox Christian POV, in the same way Baptist or Presbyterians may provide different Christian POVs. Do Mormons present a Christian POV? In what sense can Protestants represent Christianity, when they have never been accepted as Christians by Catholic authorities? I hope you see that Wiki has room to clarify policy in these areas. Personally, I think Jewish-Christian co-operation to produce neutral articles can set an example for many other issues.
I'd love to know what others think about this.
Just a short comment about "new covenant" though. I'd have to look around for sources, however, I'd expect to find many quality sources that would identify two distinct uses of "new covenant" in the NT. The first is Jesus' own use, at the Last Supper. There, it would appear, he alludes to the Mosaic covenant, apparantly interpreted by John, Paul and others as suggesting his death should be understood as a new Passover and Exodus. Although I would imagine the best scholars would be cautious, it would seem this reference is not to Jeremiah, it is quite original. On the other hand, several NT references to Jeremiah 31:31ff explicitly apply that prophecy to the role of the Holy Spirit in Christian theology. Now my personal guess is that by calling the NT he kaine diatheke Christians were refering to Jesus' death, rather than to the Holy Spirit, which renders arguments based on Jeremiah moot. However, were I publishing thoughts on this, I would not want to dogmatically exclude Jeremiah from broad associations of he kaine diatheke in Christian usage, it's just that it seems to me (and I imagine many others) that the Last Supper would be the primary allusion.
Again, I'd love to hear criticisms, and hear what sources say about this. Alastair Haines (talk) 05:34, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. On, "Ultimately there is no advantage for Christians to claim to be the authentic representatives of scripturally defined Judaism, presenting this point as proven, because that is manifestly not the case." I agree, as I was saying the phrase "view of Judaism" is preferable since differences between the religions of Christianity and Judaism are more clearly defined and accepted.
However, use of the phrase "Jewish view" as exclusively pertaining to the "view of Judaism" exerts too much POV since as mentioned, while NT texts themselves do not claim to be a "view of Judaism" concerning that religious institution, they do claim to be a "Jewish view." That said, it is important to reserve implication that the NT may not be a Jewish source -- to be blunt, a text fabricated by Gentiles in opposition to "authentic" Jewish teachings -- for clearly critical sections only and not use it as a general article theme since it is a less than neutral POV. Similarly, you probably would not want to state that the "Christian view" involves allegiance to the Pope, implying that any views outside of that one are non-Christian.
Additionally, painting Jewishness as being exclusively defined by the religion of Judaism should also be avoided since in reality Jewishness is an identity held by Jews of any belief -- Messianic, atheistic, Buddhist, etc. Jewishness is also addressed by Paul as being a spiritual state not exclusive to those who follow Torah or who are deemed to be Jews by other Jews. In the same way, you wouldn't want to use the phrase "Jewish race" either because that implies Jewish "blood" or "color" which is equally stereotypical and inaccurate.
To sum it up, although it may take more thought and care not to pigeonhole and categorize, "Judaism" is the more preferable term to use as opposed to "Jewish" when describing such non-Christian religious thought, since not doing so raises many unnecessary points of argument. -Bikinibomb (talk) 07:24, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
On the NT New Covenant vs. Tanach NC, Hebrews is a good place to start in referencing Jeremiah, the big payoff being sons not paying for the sins of the fathers -- teeth set on edge -- which ultimately refers to the end of death and sin on the sons of Adam -- humanity -- and everlasting life for those who accept the New Covenant with God as administered by Messiah/Moshiach ("David" in Ezekiel 34:23, 35, etc.) That's it in a nutshell, as stated by both Tanach and NT text, they teach the same thing, not two radically different ideas. -Bikinibomb (talk) 07:58, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
I like your word stereotype and think it goes to the heart of the issue. That issue being reality is more particular than human languages used to describe it. Is a stool a chair? Not that anyone would take offence at "exclusion" of chairs, or their stereotyping. As you say, Christian as a stereotype in Wiki language has blurry edges, but the Judaism-Christianity distinction can normally be assumed as uncontroversial, with the notable and difficult exception of Messianic Judaism (so called Messianic, if we are being very delicate in our terminology).
I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with your reading of Ezekiel, which in context refers explicitly to the house of Israel (beth Israel). It is an excellent example of Christian reading of the Hebrew Bible. As a Christian I share your conviction of its applicability on the basis of many New Testament texts. However, would you agree a sincere, conservative Jewish reader could not conclude with certainty that Ezekiel (whether under divine inspiration or not) had Christians in mind? Alastair Haines (talk) 11:34, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Under Moses the seed of Israel could be cut off and no longer Israelite when breaking the Sabbath for example, while non-Israelites like Ruth could be acknowledged as Israelite if they accepted the God of Israel. Assuming Ezekiel knew about Ruth and past sojourners, he "should" have accounted for Gentiles who were "grafted in" as Israelites because they accepted what God offered, and also for those who descended from Jacob removed from Israel because they rejected what God offered. If there is any doubt with Ezekiel, Malachi 1:11 can further confirm this idea. -Bikinibomb (talk) 13:24, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

The issue here is NOR: editors do not put their own views into articles - and V: wikipedia is not about the "truth" it is about verifiable points of view - and NPOV: we represent and identify all notable points of view. Bikinibomb is representing a Christian point of view and it can be included as long as it is clearly identified as such. We can contrast to it a Jewish point of view. There is no "true" Biblical view, only views of the Bible. Now, I know fundamentalists - Christian and Jewish alike - will claim that they are providing a literal reading of the Bible. But even this claim is a view and must be represented as such. As I have made clear, I would love an article on the book of Jeremiah that contrasts, for example, Christian interpretations of chapter 31 with Jewish inte3rpretations from the Mikraot Gedolot with the interpretations of the Anchor Bible. One can of course just quote Jeremeiah, but as soon as one makes any claims as to what the quote means, one is expressing a point of view and it must be identified as such.

By the way I take strong objection to Bikinibomb's distinction between Judiasm and Jewish. Among Jews it is unexceptional and uncontroversial to identify the two. If you ask a Jew what his or her religion is, s/he is at least as likely to say "Jewish" as "Judaism." Now, aside from "Messianic Jews," is their any Christin church or congregation that identifies its religion as "Judaism?" In this case, I am with your St. Augustine: Judaism is a religion of the flesh - it is the Jewish religion. Bikinibomb is free to provide verifiable Christian views, but please, do not distort the Jewish view. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:32, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

For the record I'm Muslim and not representing any particular point of view except for the most neutral one. If in a comment on Judaism you would like to say that Jews believe all things Jewish belong to mainstream Judaism, and all things not of mainstream Judaism are not Jewish, that's acceptable POV and open to cited rebuttal. But peppering an article with "the Jewish view is this and the Christian view is that" is enforcing POV on the entire article and not acceptable, since intentionally or not you imply that nothing from the NT is from a Jewish view and therefore fabricated. If it is intended, it belongs in discussion of Judaism or in an NT Criticism section, not throughout the article with no qualification. So in general except in those cases, it is more proper to say "Judaism believes this and Christianity believes that." -Bikinibomb (talk) 13:24, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I have no problem modifying "Judaism" or "Jewish" with the words "mainstream" or "traditional." Slrubenstein | Talk 14:00, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Well, I for one think this is a really helpful discussion, especially given our three different backgrounds. I'm inclined to agree with Slrubenstein that Jewish and Judaism would normally need explicit clarification if they were being used other than synonymously. Modifiers are probably preferable. That's not just a Jewish thing, it's simply English language usage, wouldn't we agree?
Regarding whether the text of the Bible expresses a proposition, say "God created the heavens and the Earth", I would think it would be a rather unusual view among scholars of any type to suggest that this was not the intention of Genesis 1:1. When Genesis was written, by whom (or "whoms"), what their sources, whether they intended "creation from nothing" or not, even whether monotheism is intended -- all these are "up for grabs", but divine sovereignty over creation as the intent of the text we now have is generally accepted, surely. But what's significant is that this proposition is attributed to the text. Interpretation actually implies something has been articulated warranting an attempt at understanding that articulation.
I would have thought that's the standard approach to dealing with many questions about the Bible in a neutral fashion. Establish the text as best as possible first. After that, all sorts of possible explanations for origin or transmission can be proposed, along with various differing interpretations. I believe the technical expressions for the epistemology of this is associated with the ideas of de dicto and de re beliefs.
Anyway, I'm inclined to think almost any outlandish possibility regarding the Bible has been published at one time or another, because so much has been written about it. Which raises another issue for me. How do we establish WP:UNDUE? It seems to me the ideal is to have sources that state or imply the boundaries of notable alternative opinions. What happens when we don't?
It's stimulating to consider these matters, though I suspect a lot of issues are not quite so interesting. ;) Alastair Haines (talk) 15:03, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't feel at all comfortable with the distinction between "Judaism" and "Jewish" if it means to include viewpoints of other religions. Generally when the distinction between the two is made, "Judaism believes" refers to the religion and "Jews believe" refers to the community of religious and secular Jews. It does not generally include those who affliate with another religion. This particular understanding is so fundamental that it is captured in the Israeli law of return - a secular Jew may return to Israel under the law of return. A Jew who has converted to another religion may not. This definition of the law of return has widespread acceptance by secular and religious Jews in the diaspora as well.

There is a similar consensus among all of the religious denominations of Judaism: a Jew who has converted to another religion is no longer sufficiently Jewish to be called to the Torah or to marry another Jew. Only by formally repudating that other religion may they regain status on an equal footing with other Jews. The most notable dissent to this point of view are the Messianic Jews. However, given WP:UNDUE I think we would be hard pressed to give the Messianic Jewish view equal weight to that of mainstream secular and religious Judaism.

As far as the mainstream Jewish view goes I think we need to distinguish between 1st-2nd century Judaism and later rabbinic Judaism. Most scholars agree that modern day rabbinic Judaism was in a formative stage during the 1st-2nd century. Only the lens of history lets us decide which of the many ideas put forth at that time should now in this day and age be considered as mainstream Jewish, mainstream Christian, or part of a shared Judeo-Christian heritage.

As for post 1-2nd century mainstream understandings of "new convenent" in Jeremiah, I cite the following sources:

  • Rashi (medieval commentator) - stresses the clause "shall not be broken" and argues that the rules, laws, and ordinances associated with this "new covenent" will be the same. However, the human spirit will be such that the laws will be unbreakable. In support of the unchangability of the content of the covenant itself, he cites the fact that the last book of Nevaim (Prophets) is the prophet Malachi who closes the book saying "Remember the Torah of Moshe my servant, which I commanded him in Horev for all Israel, both statues and judgements". The Christian "new covenent" is a covenant apart from the law of Moses so clearly Rashi believes that Jeremiah is referring to something very different than the Christian "New covenent".
  • Radak (medieval commentator) - takes a somewhat existentialist approach (really!) and argues that the covenant is "new" in the sense of ever fresh and vibrant in the minds of Jews. It is not broken because Jews won't get bored or tired of it so will always want to participate in it.
  • Sefer Jeremiah. (Jerusalem: Mossad Rav Kook, 1983). This is an academic commentary on Jeremiah. The editors of this commentary bring out the point that there are other examples of post Sinai covenants:
    • Moses two covenants. The torah was given twice: first it was brought down from Sinai on tablets. Then Moses gave a long speech in Moav repeating the covenant. These are viewed as two covenants side by side: These are the words o fthe covenant, which the Lord commanded Modehs to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moav, besides the covenant which he made with them in Horev. (Deut 28:26)
    • Josiah and the book of the covenant And the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and hist testimonies and hist statues with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant". (Kings II 23: 3).

It should be noted that many modern Jews consider the medieval commentators on equal or greater par with academic commentaries, especially when there is no conflict with academic understandings. Best, Egfrank (talk) 15:19, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Fascinating and informative as always Egfrank. Yet again important blind-spots in my knowledge are addressed. The Law of Return explains aspects of Jewish culture I have observed in my Jewish friends, without knowing the background. It does indeed give a very concrete expression to an unbroken cultural tradition. Although there are meaningful distinctions between Jewish ethnicity and the faith of Judaism, the two are much more tightly bound than in most cultures. Though I believe traditional adherents of many religions including Hindu, Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant have ostracised inter-marriage in particular where "inter" is defined either on religious or cultural grounds. Alastair Haines (talk) 16:00, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Regarding Rashi et al., these understandings sound broadly consistant with John Calvin's readings, (and certainly with my own, by the way). The only thing I disagree with is the close of Malachi, which I understand to refer to the return of Elijah to re-establish heartfelt family solidarity, lest haShem also return with herem for a disobedient land. (Drat! Can't cut and paste the text.) Alastair Haines (talk) 16:00, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Your observation about Elijah I think actually adds a new dimension to Rashi and may explain why he felt that passage was particularly appropriate for his point. In Jewish thought both Elijah mentioned in Malachai and the phrase "yamim habaim" that begin Jeremiah 31:30 have connotations of the Messianic age. So from Rashi point of view, this verse in Malachi referring to the covenant at Sinai is specifically talking about the "new covenant" that Jeremiah says will exist in the Messianic era.

But one should not assume that the Messianic implications of both passages mean that Jews believe they refer to the Christian "New Covenant". Jews understand the Messianic age in light of Rashi's belief that new=unbreakable and various other promises of a world at peace (e.g. Isaiah 2:4)[1]. An unbreakable covenant would imply that the actions of members of the covenant would never deviate from the will of God - that is, a world without sin, or at the very least a covenantial community without sin; where the widow and orphan are always taken care of; where social justice is the norm without exception; where peace reigns in even the most unlikely of circumstances.

The Christian "New Covenant" is defined in terms of the relationship to God created by faith in the atoning nature of the life, death and ressurection of Jesus. However much faith in Jesus has the power to transform lives or reconcile the soul to God or even make the soul blameless before God, it does not prevent Christians from making mistakes, hurting others, and acting from time to time in unethical or unjust ways.

Some Jewish thinkers, like Franz Rosenzweig and Pinchas Lapide even see the hand of God in the Christian story. However, because the world is not yet perfect, the one thing all agree on is that Jesus is not the bearer of the same "new covenent" promised in Jeremiah and alluded to in Malachai. Egfrank (talk) 17:20, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I want to make an edit to the article Bible . Please go to my most recent previous post in this discussion ( 01:04 18 Nov. 2007 UTC ) and consider those first three sentences of it . That would be my edit ......... I have practised this edit by using the " Edit This Article " feature and am having some problems and need help to incorperate my edit properly ... Pilotwingz (talk) 21:08, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Pilotwingz, I hear you. Do you want to make an edit to the small box at the top right of the article? Or do you want to edit the text of the main article? The small box is actually a special thing, and I would love to help explain how it works for you. Alastair Haines (talk) 00:16, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Alastair , the edit to the article Bible has been entered ........ My objective was exactly as I had stated , which was to make known that Testament and Covenant are interchangable as synonyms in relation to the Christian Bible sections Old Testament and New Testament and to give reference to that fact .......... the article New Covenant has been linked for readers and contributers to take up the work of any theological aspects regarding further understanding or explanations ............ and it may just be my own personal opinion , but the article New Covenant needs a great deal of work !!! ...... and as a side note , I will be exceedingly surprised if my edit is not reverted within 24 hrs. Pilotwingz (talk) 02:00, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Jewishness, NC[edit]

New section needed here. In reply, the reasoning seems to be in favor of, for example, "The Jewish version of the Bible, the Tanakh..." because it is the religious book of the Jewish people. In saying that in comparison to the NT, does it mean that the Tanach was written by Jews and the NT wasn't? Or does it mean that only Jews read the Tanach? In neither case does it make sense or is it unbiased to use the term "Jewish" when comparing it to the NT, it is more accurate to say that "the Tanach is a text used in Judaism and a form of the the Tanach called the OT plus the NT is a text used in Christianity" or something of that nature. It may require a few more words to clarify but sometimes that's unavoidable. This is why NPOV is required on Wikipedia, to avoid phrasing articles in a way that conveys only one opinion, even if it seems to be the most popular depending on our own personal experience.

As for the New Covenant, there are straight readings and conclusions within the actual text although you will still need external sources to cite for them. For example, where the Tanach states that sins of fathers are no longer on children (Jeremiah 31:29), it is departure from conditions set forth in Exodus 20:5. In general, a state of the New Covenant where sin doesn't exist anymore dictates that most of the Laws of Moses regarding punishment and sin sacrifice are rendered obsolete, thus changed in that regard. Where the Tanach says there is no more darkness in the evening and perpetual daylight, Sabbath laws are also changed: no more observance at sundown. Etc. Which is all in agreement with NT implications, that Laws of Moses do indeed change with the NC, they are not simply renewed -- the straight renewal concept is fine to note as an opinion of sages but it cannot accurately be used as the only view.

Moving to the NT, Jesus himself says in Matthew 5:18 that this doesn't happen until heaven and earth pass, and that Laws of Moses will be in effect until that time. So likewise, you won't want to imply that the NT New Covenant is all about doing away with those Laws right now and just "getting the faith." Again it's ok to note that various Christians may say that and that it is the popular Christian view, but not correct to say it is the actual message of NT text. In short care needs to be taken with both texts to avoid overgeneralization and reliance upon the most popular views since as we see, they are often not the most accurate. -Bikinibomb (talk) 20:26, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Am I correct in my thinking that the article Bible is not the place for any theological elaborations , but that links contained within it may and should direct a reader to a theological article having such elaborations ??? Pilotwingz (talk) 21:00, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Correct, thus my statement "you will still need external sources to cite for them." As a matter of courtesy I thought it best to discuss these more neutral views first -- "neutral" being the point at which concepts of Judaism and Christianity come closest to agreement rather than at odds -- instead of charging ahead on my own to include them, which would then bypass other editors possibly inclined to offer a more exclusive "us vs. them" presentation of the Bible. -Bikinibomb (talk) 21:32, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Although when referencing a notable version like KJV and a verse in it says something like "the sky is blue" I wouldn't feel compelled to cite a scholar agreeing that the Bible says "the sky is blue" since the Bible itself is sufficient source. However if I elaborated by saying "the sky is blue because God likes the color blue" and the verse doesn't say God likes blue then obviously another source is required to avoid OR. Hope that clarifies. -Bikinibomb (talk) 21:51, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

How about an internal source for a link ( an existing Wiki. article ) ?? Pilotwingz (talk) 22:09, 18 November 2007 (UTC)Pilotwingz (talk) 22:10, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I think that's an excellent point you make Bikinibomb — "you won't want to imply that the NT New Covenant is all about doing away with those Laws". Wiki cannot present the NT as "doing away" with the Mosaic covenant without qualification. Nor, however, can it simply quote the words attributed to Jesus in the NT that specifically deny this, in order to establish that point. One reason for this is Jesus' words include, alongside the denial, an assertion of fulfilment, which introduces complexities we can not assume a reader can establish independent of expert analysis, and because there is more than one notable, expert opinion.

However, we are drifting (a little) from the topic of improving the Bible article in discussing related theological questions, which is no problem unless it is getting in the way of progress, but should probably be noted.

Pilotwingz — Yes! I think an internal link is sufficient verification. If the Wiki article you point to is itself verified by reliable sources, that's ideal, sometimes those sources can be copied to the sentence that links, other times that would clutter an article. It would be odd to copy all references at Tanakh to the end of the first sentence regarding Tankah in this article. However, if one reference at Tanakh specifically verifies what is claimed in this article, why not copy that reference into this one also? I imagine you are thinking of Covenant. If in doubt, copy a reference from that article. If nothing suitable exists, let's find something! Let us know what kind of source you need, and we can find one together. Egfrank seems to be a human scanner and has read libraries of information! :) Alastair Haines (talk) 00:08, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Eventually in the appropriate articles I may contribute sources to show at least three main views various Christians hold of NC regarding full Torah observance: 1. it's no longer necessary for anyone after the crucifixion, 2. it's necessary for everyone, and 3. it's still necessary for Jewish Christians with a form of Noahide necessary for Gentile Christians (similar to Judaism, Mat 5:18-19 & Acts 15). But for now, thanks for responding to my other points. -Bikinibomb (talk) 00:47, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like a helpful contribution. I have read all three views, in various places. Cheers. Alastair Haines (talk) 01:13, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Alastair , read the opening of the article Bible and tell me what you think please ........ Added are three ( 3 ) sentences relating to testament/covenant culminating with the link New Covenant ......... Pilotwingz (talk) 04:58, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Messianic Judaism[edit]

I'm sorry to open a can of worms, but I'm wondering what people think (especially Egfrank), about the following suggestion.

From a Jewish perspective (or the perspective of Judaism), groups describing their views as Messianic Judaism are no more Jewish than Jehovah's Witnesses are Christian, from a Christian perspective (for precisely opposite reasons). Whereas, from a Christian perspective, the category of Jewish Christian is very natural.

How should Wiki deal with this? Currently, and I'm content with it, MJ is used, possibly because:

  1. MJ is the verifiable autonym;
  2. Judaism has historical precedence over Christianity, hence Messianic Judaism rather than Jewish Christianity; and
  3. most don't know Messiah = Christ, hence MJ sounds less contradictory than Jewish Christianity.

Point (1) seems to be decisive.

My point is this, intriguingly, from the majority Jewish and Christian positions, MJ would more naturally be described as Jewish Christianity -- hence clearly apostate from the Jewish perspective, while clearly affiliated, from the Christian perspective. I think it should be pointed out that Judaism as it currently exists, and has existed since the destruction of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem is a reinvention of what it was prior to that. The Rabbinate did not exist either until then. Though leadership certainly did. MJ attempts to restore the Judaism previous to what was reinvented. Often only vaguely. For the new Judaism to determine the Judaism of Messianic Judaism is null and void is not really saying much to MJ's.Alejune (talk) 20:19, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

With all due respect, that position of yours Alejune is historically preposterous and saddled with POV. A Sniper (talk) 20:55, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

It is interesting to note that Jews and Christians can enjoy similarities of conviction at many points, and are motivated to work together on various projects, so long as they are not pressured to surrender their differences. MJ, by definition, crosses that boundary, and in a way more intrusive on Judaism than Christianity. MJ is to Judaism, what Judaizers were to Christianity in New Testament times. Judaizers held that authentic Christianity must be scrupulously Jewish. Christians, since Saul of Tarsus, have rigorously excluded this option. The difference, it would seem, is that Judaizers no longer exist, but MJ does. It is interesting to note that the Judaizing POV is (I think) absent from Wiki presentations, presumably because it is no longer notable. Alastair Haines (talk) 01:47, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

I think according to them, "Messianic Jews" is preferred since "Christianity" may imply lack of Torah observance. Often from a Jewish POV there are two types of Messianics. The first are "real" Jews, that is, born from a Jewish mother or receiving an orthodox conversion, who come to believe in Jesus as Messiah. Typically they are seen by fellow Jews as mostly harmless, just wayward and misguided much like Lubavitchers who believe the Rebbe is Moshiach. They are often still considered to be real Jews. Then there are "fake" Jews, basically Christians who have copied some Jewish customs and terminology to make them appear to be Jewish in order to lure "real" Jews into Messianic Judaism. These types are seen as more harmful to Judaism and much less tolerated. Note that these aren't my opinions, just what I've observed. -Bikinibomb (talk) 05:11, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Four points:

  • I think the editor above may be underestimating the pain that may be caused when a Jew opts out of Judaism. It doesn't matter whether the new religion is called "Messianic Judaism" or "foobar". Reactions of families vary a great deal. Some families quite literally go into mourning, i.e. sit shiva and write the family member off as "dead". Others feel that family ties are more important than religion and so will try to maintain a relationship. They may even go out of their way to understand why this choice made sense to their child/sibling. But these efforts at inclusion and empathy do not change the underlying pain. Often in even the most liberal families religion is a tense topic. Unspoken feelings of sadness and rejection may run deep. Concerns about the long term fate of grandchildren (will they be Jewish? are they lost forever?) hang in the air.
  • Whether we look at the current range of Jewish denominations or the historical changes in Judaism, Jewish understandings of Torah/law/observance have and do vary a great deal and are not necessary literal extractions from the Tanakh. There is a story in the Talmud where Moses is sitting in the academy of the 1st century rabbi Akiva. He hears many new things about the Torah - laws he doesn't remember as part of the covenant of Sinai and begins to worry. But Moses relaxes when Rabbi Akiva closes the lecture saying "and all this we have received from Moses on Sinai".
    All forms of Judaism, whether orthodox or liberal, stress the importance of an unbroken chain. Orthodox tend to see (as did Akiva) that every "new" thing is really there in the Torah originally and if it seems distant then we simply don't have the greatness of mind or prophetic insight that those like Rabbi Akiva or Rabbi Hillel did. Us ordinary folk are not in a position to bring out "new" things.
    Liberal Jews tend to give a greater role to "ordinary folk" and have differing opinions about whether the story of Moses is historical or cultural truth or both at once. This flexibility gives them more options when trying to help modern Jews connect to the "chain". For some this takes the form of stressing the ethical laws over ritual laws (e.g. Kaufmann Kohler's ethical monotheism). Others, like Martin Buber have stressed the existential relationship to God and treated "Torah" as a subjective and highly malleable and individualized expression of that relationship. For still others this takes the form of finding new symbols that perform the same function as an older ritual (what Mordechai Kaplan calls "transvaluing"). Yet others (Heschel, Franz Rosenzweig) feel it is enough to reinterpret or revalue traditional ritual so that it has a firmer connection to the present.
    However, even the most ahistorical of the bunch believe at root that all things "new" still capture the fundamental terms of the jewish covenant begun with the story of Abraham and detailed on Sinai. Like Christians, Jews have their own "kerygma" - a story that captures the existential experience of the faith community. The outward form may change, but never the inner commitment or the fundamental ontological relationship to God signified by the covenant of Sinai.
    When a Jew decides to convert to Christianity it is percieved as a rejection of that commitment, and often of the people that hold it. So it doesn't really matter if they keep Shabbat like a black-hat in Lakewood. It doesn't matter whether they convert as a "Messianic Jew" or an ordinary Baptist or Anglican. What a Jew sees is a break in the chain - a rejection of a 4000 year contract/love relationship between Abraham, God, and the Jewish people.
  • Lubobvichers - I think the jury is still out on this one. Jewish feelings appear to be deeply ambivalent. On one hand, the movement has helped many Jews reacquaint themselves with a rich Jewish tradition. On the other hand, their messianic beliefs are generally viewed as outside the scope of Judaism. I recently heard that Yeshiva university is now asking Lubobovicher students to sign a pledge saying that they do not believe Menacham Schneerson is the messiah.
  • The most modern day notable use of the phrase "messianic Judaism" is the modern day Jewish christians. However, historically there have been many messianic movements. Two come to mind within modern times: Sabbatai Zevi in the 1600's, Jacob Frank in the 1700's and more recently the Lubovicher movement. For various reasons, these have been considered Jewish in ways that "Jews for Jesus" has never been.

Alastair - I think you have hit the nail on the head as to why Christian Messianic Judaism is so disturbing to many Jews - it does attempt to blur the boundaries and obscure differences. But I also think it is more. It actually attempts to redefine Judaism. Messianic Jews often try to claim their Jewishness by saying "we observe Torah" but in doing so they often "freeze" Torah into a particular interpretation - often biblical, sometimes traditional orthodox.

By contrast, the Jewish community allows a lot of latitude in "what Torah means". To be sure disagreements can be intense and sometimes even degerate into spitting matches where each side blames the other of "destroying Judaism and its future". But even in the midst of such debates, we all have at our back a tradition that goes out of its way to preserve a wide range of opinions on all kinds of Jewish practice. The talmud illustrates this not only in its preservation of multiple disagreements, but also in its stories. Once, it reports, there was a long standing debate (3 years running) about the status of an oven. The school of Hillel and the school of Shammai stood on opposite sides of the debate (as they often did). Finally God speaks from on high "Elu v'elu divrei elokim chaim" - these and these are the words of the living God.[2]

What Jews do not give on is the one thing that Messianic Jews reject - the sufficiency of the existential relationship Jews have to each other and to big threesome God, Torah, and Israel. This sufficiency is what keeps us together even when we fight. Amazingly, even secularists like Mordechai Kaplan, still find the need to build their thought around these categories. For Kaplan, "Isreal" became a "volk" with a unique path through history. "God" became the embodiment of the values of that "volk" and "Torah" became the body of cultural practices that expressed those values. Egfrank (talk) 07:17, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

There is a difference between an observant Jew who has an opinion about who is Messiah -- could be Jesus, could be resurrected Daniel, could be the Rebbe -- as opposed to a Jew who entirely converts out of Judaism to become a Catholic, for example. To use familiar terminology, one is a heretic still within Judaism, the latter is an apostate converted out of it.
Though I was primarily addressing intrusiveness and damage in terms of missionary efforts regarding attitudes toward the two types of "Messianic Jews" I mentioned, I understand grief caused by Jewish belief in Jesus as Messiah, not seeming to be so much a matter of theology -- Jews opting for total atheism typically cause far less pain to their more religious loved ones than those who opt for Jesus -- but a cultural matter of embracing a POV historically associated with Jewish persecution and thus being a "traitor to the cause." -Bikinibomb (talk) 08:38, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps we have a terminology problem here, but I am not getting the difference between "an observant Jew who has an opinion about who is the Messiah" (i.e. Jesus is the Messiah) and "a Jew who entirely converts out of Judaism to become a Catholic". I'm getting the impression here that you think the problem is cultural (a common claim of Christian Messianic Jews) and that it can be addressed if only those "converts" were to stay culturally Jewish.

It can't - no more than wearing an abaya turns a man into a woman. Although we have been talking about culture, the problem is fundamentally theological. Christianity at heart claims both personal and communal salvation through the story of Jesus. It isn't merely a factual claim about who is or is not the Messiah. Christians (including Messianic Christians) believe they are loved by God because Jesus died on the cross for them. (John 3:16)

Jews, on the other hand, believe they are loved by God because of 4000 years of Jewish history. For them that history serves the same function as the Jesus story for Christians.

What we have is two communities with two different core mutually exclusive "Myths" (Note: myth in the technical sense here - no implication here about historicity or validity intended) each serving a similar function. For both communities, their respective myth helps them understand that they can't strong arm God into loving or forgiving them; that God's love is a gift freely given; that their relationship with God is unbreakable, even if they descend into the very depths of hell (Psalm 139); that forgiveness comes to those who repent not because of who we are but because it is in God's very nature (Psalm 51); that God does not desire the death of any human being, but rather that each turn from his or her sin and live. (Ezekiel 18:23).[3].

Both communities believe that their core myths are sufficient and need no supplement. That is why Christianity rejected Judaizers (who said you needed something more than Jesus). That is why even the most liberal Judaism rejects Jews for Jesus and other Christian messianic Jews (who say they need something more than God+Torah+Israel). Best, Egfrank (talk) 13:43, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

I am wondering if there is a much denominationalism and schism in Judaic worship , as there is in Christianity and Islamic practices ............ Pilotwingz (talk) 15:42, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Some Christians say Catholicism is the only true Christianity, others say Mormonism is fake Christianity. Some Muslims say only the Quran is authoritative, other say you aren't a real Muslim if you don't accept Hadith. Then of course Judaism has its own pecking orders and criteria for who is a real Jew and who is really practicing Judaism. Orthodox factions may insist real Judaism involves wearing tefillin. Neturei Karta say real Judaism renounces Zionism. Other Jews say that atheist Jews can still practice Judaism by fulfilling whatever mitzvot they can, apart from belief in God.
And then you have some Jews who say that because an observant Jew decides to believe Jesus is the king promised to David, he or she can no longer really be a Jew or practicing Judaism. Of all differences among Jews, this seems to be the one most Jews agree on. When we compare this deviation with others, I can only personally conclude that the primary cause of irritation with so-called Christian thought has more to do with cultural and historical associations with Jewish persecution, rather than with intense violations of theology. Since again as I mentioned, if it was mostly a theological concern it would seem to be highly lopsided compared to far fewer protests over Jews who turn to atheism which throws out the very reason Jews and Judaism came to exist in the first place, as recorded in the Tanach. -Bikinibomb (talk) 16:46, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
But back to the real question of how to categorize those who call themselves Messianic Jews...if they say they are Jews practicing Judaism adopting some elements of Christian thought then I'd say you would need to defer and categorize it as Judaism and them as Jews, with any appropriate rebuttals and criticisms within relevant articles. That being based on the same principles of treating observant Jews who happen to adopt some elements of Buddhism, for example, as still being Jews practicing Judaism, rather than editors arbitrarily deciding that they are no longer Jews practicing Judaism and insisting on categorizing them as Buddhists only. -Bikinibomb (talk) 17:35, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments.
Pilotwingz, I imagine you appreciate as much as I do, the honest "inside look" Egfrank gives us of Jewish understanding and issues.
Bikinibomb, how on Earth do you know so much about everything! :D
Egfrank, it's a funny thing, but I love MJ because they are Christians who value the Jewish roots of Christianity with all their hearts — it's in their blood! I also love them because we share the same canon of the Bible and they tend to treat that canon as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth ... nothing more, and nothing less. I cannot worship a Jewish man as my God without caring about the Jewish people. For me, MJ represents the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2). I feel it when I read their writing, and listen in on their blog discussions.
However, here's an odd thought for you. Among Christians, you'd think MJ would be the least "supersessionist", and technically this would probably be true. But I wonder if, from a family Jewish perspective, MJ's often conservative commitment to the Torah only underlines their leaving it. Scratch enough and they do indeed admit that Jesus is sufficient and Torah observance is a special devotion to a family relationship with God. MJ are not Judaizers. Being very biased here, they are conservative Christians of the very best sort.
How is the Torah replaced for a Gentile Christian? She never had the Torah in the first place! Christianity brings Gentiles closer to Sinai (though they typically don't understand this), but it moves the MJ away, in the language of Hebrews 12, from Sinai to Zion! Though I doubt the Law of Return would appreciate the analogy. ;)
Thanks for sharing, in a dignified but open way, this family business with friendly outsiders. Alastair Haines (talk) 19:14, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Bikinibomb writes ". Of all differences among Jews, this seems to be the one most Jews agree on. When we compare this deviation with others, I can only personally conclude that the primary cause of irritation with so-called Christian thought has more to do with cultural and historical associations with Jewish persecution, rather than with intense violations of theology." Without under-emphasizing the inmpact of pesecution, I disagree. I think Judaism is as St. Augustine said a religion of the flesh - which is why for all Jews of all movements the sine qua non (for males) is circumscision - inscribing the covenant with God on the flesh itself. I think that what so disturbs Jews about Christianity is how spiritual it is. Paul (and most Jews i know who are knwoldgable have more problems with Paul than with jesus) establishes the importance of the crucified Jesus, the Jesus of the spirit. The Jesus of the spirit allows for a circumcision of the spirit, not the flechl, which enables ALL humans to be one in Christ (Galetians, there is ntierh Jew nor Gentile) ... for Jews (right or wrong) Christianity effects a metaphysical Holoocaust because Jews can enter heaven only by giving up what makes them distinct, their Jewishness. I think at a viscefral level Jews do not get trhe whole heavn/hell thing. I think rabbinic Judaism and Christianity developed at the same time, and they knew about each other, and they were consciously making themselvs different each from the other. So it is not surprise Chrsitianity really rankles Jews - rabbinic judaism develoed to a degree to be as different from Christianity as possibly, and vice versa. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:25, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

It seems so strange in my spirit to hear that " what so disturbs Jews about Christianity , is how spiritual it is " ....... those who nurtured and raised me are/were Israel ....... without them I would never have been able understand the love our Father has for us ........... without them I would be lost and wandering in darkness .......... they gave me their spirit that was given them by God .......... if only I were able to walk as worthy and reverned in spirit as they , in as humble and honorable a way as they ........... if only I could give in return something as precious for what they have given me ............ those who raised me were the most devotionally Spiritual people I have ever known and dare say ever will ........... It can not be possible that Jews believe Christians are more spiritual .......... it is totally incomprehensible to me ....... Pilotwingz (talk) 03:20, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

What a wonderful testimonial Pilotwingz! :)) I'm sure Slrubenstein would be the first to acknowledge very many spiritual Jews (not just Jewish mystics). I think his point is that there is something "fleshly" (could I also say "earthy"?) about Judaism in a very broad sense, and this is something recognized by modern scholars, as well as first century scholars.
Between you and me Pilotwingz, I think Jesus refers to this Jewish fleshliness, where it is not opposed to spirituality, quite positively, because it reflects his own reading of the Law and the Prophets. "God sends rain on the righteous and the wicked." "God clothes the flowers of the fields and feeds the birds of the air."
Even more profoundly, Jesus says "this is my body, broken for you." "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood." This is very earthy, very fleshly, very Jewish! And Jesus of Nazareth does not escape his culture, he speaks within it and to it.
Again, between you and me, this is one of the things that I think the Jewish scriptures teach me as a Christian. I think many of us Christians rush to spiritual interpretations, whereas the Jewish writers of the New Testament were able to make such spiritualizations reliably, because of their deep familiarity with the "fleshliness" of the Jewish Scriptures.
The more I try to understand the Law, the Prophets and all the Writings, as they were originally framed (as best we can recover), the more deeply I understand what Matthew, and Mark, and John, Paul and Peter were saying. Or at least I imagine I do.
Didn't Jesus teach that spirituality was expressed by loving your enemy. He doesn't mean it in an abstract way. He says "turn the other cheek." If we believe he deliberately set himself up to be crucified, isn't this flesh and blood spirituality. Sure, it goes significantly beyond and outside mainstream Judaism, but the practicality of Jesus teachings, the sweating honesty of them, feels very Jewish to me. What do you think? Alastair Haines (talk) 05:31, 20 November 2007 (UTC)


Those are beautiful words, Pilotwingz. Jews wrote the psalms so of course we see things spiritually as well as earthily. I think Slrubenstein's point is that Judaism gets to spirituality by looking at the here and now. We like to face the hard facts of life - to hold them in our hands and turn them over wondering what they mean. We understand atheism because we know exactly where it comes from. We understand its hard honesty. Yes, the verdict of our history and our collective faith is that God is, but the verdict has never been God is obvious, easy to understand, easy to see.
Slrubenstien is also alluding to Jews paradoxical ability to look way beyond the here and now by focusing on the day to day. In Christianity there is no borrowed faith - either one believes (and is saved) or one does not. But Jews borrow each others faith all the time and this borrowing is what saves us. That is why community is so important and we are warned by Rabbi Hillel - Do not separate yourself from the community (Pirke Avot 2:5). We don't all have to believe at once - we just need to hold each other up long enough to continue to raise our kids, feed our families, to patch the world where it is broken, and bring on the next generation. Jews have a long history..we know in our bones that a thousand days of human kind is but one in the eyes of God. It doesn't have to all work out in our own life times. Again from Pirke Avot: You are not required to complete the task but neither may you refrain from it. (Pirke Avot 3:21)
We remind ourselves of God and/or our connection to fellow Jews through fleshy symbols like circumcision and dietary habits or through our ethical and financial choices. For example, many people explain kashrut (a spiritual dietary discipline) as a way of educating our flesh to understand that there is something more than just food. By making our food choices a consciously considered act we learn what Moses taught in Deuteronomy (8:3): Humankind does not live by bread alone but rather human beings live by every word that comes out of the mouth of the God. Sex and procreation are the most basic of human instincts - they are the ultimate symbol of life - so Jews put symbols on them too. Fine to say "I love God". That is good. But to change the way you experience the process of creating life (which I'm told circumcision does do) - well that is a commitment that stays with one in the most intimate and concrete of ways.
Slrubenstien is also I think means to say that Jews think spirituality has to be acted out "in the flesh" - it can't just stay in our heads. When bad things happen Jews don't just say "it will be better in the world to come". Jews ask: "why is the world broke? what can we do to help fix it". And even more importantly, "What can I do to fix it?".
There is a lovely story by Rabbi Marc Gellman that I would like to tell. In this story God is making the earth and Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve are told to take care of the earth (Gen. 1:26) but they complain that they need help - God has the plans and they are too little. So God says to Adam and Eve - OK, I'll help you but we have to work together as partners. A little later the angels ask God "Is creation done yet?". God answers "I don't know - go ask my partners!". (Rabbi Marc Gellman. Does God have a big toe?).
What can possibly be more spiritual than being a partner with God in creation? And by the way - Jews believe this particular story isn't just for Jews. Jews believe that we are all - Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Daoist, Pagan, Jew - we are all partners with God. This is because Judaism also teaches that all human beings were created from one first human being (Adam) so that no one could say I'm more human, I'm more a partner than anyone else.(Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5) Creation needs each and every one of us. Best, Egfrank (talk) 09:52, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I very much appreciate Alistair and Egfrank's very thoughtful and constructive efforts to explain my point. I think i can explain myself a bit more clearly ... but still in a way that may require other people's help at elaborating. I believe that Paul's major contribution to theistic theology is the rely on and apply a binary opposition between the spirit and the flesh. My point is that this opposition does not exist in Judaism, for the most part. I do not mean that Jewish or Israelite poets have never employed a contrast betweeen flesh and spirit. I do mean two things. First, I do not think they mean by spirit the same thing that Christians think. I think a Jewish notion of the soul, that corresponds to the Christian version (which I am arguing has its immediate roots in Paul and its deeper roots in Plato), similarly has its early roots in the influence of Hellenic culture, and later the influence of Christians - but not in ancient Israelite thought (the hebrew Bible) and Rabbinic thought (the Talmuds) ... the "spirit" in Ancient Israelite religion is breath which animates the body but has no existence independent of the body and dies with the body (for Jews, the messianic age brings about the resurection of the body (including the breath that animates it). Secondly, I think that in Jewish religion (the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic literature) any opposition between body and spirit or heart is rhetorical but in Pauline theology it is ontological. This has consequences not only for how Jews view their bodies, but how we read texts. I think Paul's reading of the Bible relies largely on allegory - that just as the flesh masks a hidden, inner spirit, the words of the text mask a hidden, inner meaning. In other words, hermeneutically, meaning comes from a difference between the surface of the text and its depths. In Jewish (Rabbinic) thought, our hermeneutics is not primarily allegory but midrash - in which meaning comes from a play of difference between words in one text (or part of the tex) and another, i.e. a play of difference on the "surface."
So my immediate - and superficial i.e. less complete than Alistair's and Egfrank's - response to Pilotwingz is that he and I are using a different language and when I say what fundamentally puts jews off from Christianity is that it is so spiritual, I am also calling into question what we mean by "spiritual." If I may now re-explain my point, what I mean is this: Christian theology as I understand it makes an ontological distinction between flesh and spirit and privileges the spirit (though I acknowledge that the Church fathers were always concerned that some Christians might take their privileging of the spirit too far, which is why Gnosticism was deemed heretical). By contrast, I think Jews simply do not traditionally make this ontological distinction between body and spirit. Since they do not make this ontological distinction, they do not privilege "spiritual." But this does not mean Jews do not do things that a Christian, using the language of Christianity, would not recognize as "spiritual." Max Kadushin has a lovely phrase which he applies to Rabbinic thought called "normal mysticism" by which he meant not only that Jews were "spiritual" in quotidian ways, but also through their bodies and fleshy things. Put another way, normal mysticism is about "the flesh and material world understood as holy" - again, to respond to Pilotwingz, I would say that Jews, and the psalmists, are not very "spiritual," they are "holy" - hoiliness is the key word in Hebrew and Rabbinic religious thought, not "spiritual" (because spiritual is the opposite of material, but holy is the opposite of unholly, not the opposite of material).
Now all of you, being very educated, are already thinking of exceptions to my claims, so let me try to anticipate the major ones. First, Philo - he like Paul was influenced by Hellenic (specifically, Platonic) philosophy and developed an allegorical reading of the Bible. So Paul was not the only or first Jew to seek to synthesize Hebrew and Hellenic thought. But, Philo never became very important in Jewish thought/theology. The rabbis never excommunicated him, but neither did they elevat hi. His allegorical approach to reading texts was largely ignored in favor of midrash, the privileged Rabbinic way of reading texts. Second, Kabbalah - which I (following many scholars) would also argue was deeply influenced by Platonic dualisms. true enough. But this I would argue is precisely why rabis asserted that before one study kabbalah one must be 40 years old, married, and a Talmud scholar. Marriage is important because it privileges the flesh (we are talking not just about a functioning household, but the value of sex, of carnal relations); Talmud scholar means a mastery over what max kadushin called "normal mysticism," what I would call "spirituality through the flesh and the material world" or even better, "the flesh and material world understood as holy." And within Kabbalistic thought there is a strong emphasis on not rejecting the material. Someone will correct me (or be more precise0 but in the Talmud or some midrash there is a story of a rabbi who is embarking on a kabblistic quest to enter God's heavenly throne-room, and is warned that the marble floor is so shiny that the rabbi might think it is wet but if he thinks that he will be denied entrance into God's presense. When he enters God's palace he sees the floor and cries our "water!" and thus returns to his regular life. This is a powerful message I think about materiality and how even mystics must not lose sight of the concrete (in this case - marble! which is even harder i think than concrete). I know that there are other examples of Jewish mysticism, and indeed examples of where Platonic philosophy - with its distinction between the apparent material world and the hidden ideal reality - have influenced Jewish thought ... during the middle ages and even today Christianity too has and continues to influence Jews and Judaism ... and one can find examples of Jews celebrating the spirit over the body. I just think that these examples are relatively few and marginal in Hebraic and Rabbinic thought.
Talmud scholar Daniel Boyarin wrote a lovely little book on this theme called Carnal Israel. He points out the Judaism as we know it - Rabbinic Judaism - largely (not entirely, but largely) developed after the emergence of Christianity and he suggests that as the Rabbis and Christians offered competing visions of Judaism - and competed for Jewish leadership - after the destruction of the Temple, they consciously and unconsciously emphasized those elements of Pharisaic and Hebrew thought that contrasted most clearly with Christian thought. He wrote another book asking why Christianity has so many martyrs and Judaism so few and suggests in a similar style of argument that the rabbis and Christians developed contrasting responses to Roman oppression. He doesn't claim that one is right and the other wrong, or one better than the other - he just points out that when people live under colonial oppression they typically have a variety of ways to resist. Uncle Tom's Cabin similarly portrays a variety of forms of oppression and a variety of possible ways of responding to oppression. Stowe's Uncle Tom - if not a Christ figure, then certainly an explicit representation of Christian values - is one way to respond ... a way that makes him Stowe's hero, but that many blacks today disdain. She also has characters that represent other responses (escape, rebellion, etc.) For Boyarin, Rabbis and Christians twoo offered contrasting ways of responding to oppression. While he does not judge them politically, he doesn't say one is better than the other, he does say that this difference is another example in which the Christian distinction between body and spirit, and value of the spirit, is part of what makes martyrdom - death - both easier to accept and even to celebrate, whereas the Jewish idea that the body itself is holy and holiness is experienced on earth, in earthly - and "earthy" ways - makes martyrdom both less appealing and less meaningful. Not that judaism does not have its martyers, just that they are not as many and do not have the same status as martyrs do for Christianity. There is a famous story of a woman and her sons who were martyred by Antiochus Epiphanes (leading to the macabeean rebellion) and he points out that she and her sons are remembered more as victims justifying rebellion than as saints to be revered.
One final example. I once had a conversation with a colleague about the pressure we feel from our parents to have children, and he said - and I had never thought of it this way, but instantly felt he was right - that it is tied up with the relative unimportance of heaven in Judaism, and our relative lack of interest in any afterlife (relative to Christianity). God's covenant is with the people of Israel. Individual death is not a problem for Jews, because the people of Israel lives on (one reason the Holocaust was such a traumatic incident - not just the death of six million, but the threat of genocide - the death not of many individuals but of the nation itself. It is that death that would end the covenant with God, so the possibility that God might permit a genocide theologically is profoundly troubling to Jews in a way that individual death is not). Our holiness relies on the continued reproduction of Jewish bodies, and our immortality is not in the spirit (when we die our sould lives on) but in the flesh, in our children. In a way, what heaven is for Christians, children are for Jews. I really believe this, and it is consistent with my reading of the hebrew bible and Talmud (not that i am a real scholar). I hope this explains what I mean about Christianity being too spiritual. I do not mean to offend Christians, I think their religion is perfectly reasonable. But I think that on this point - Christians distinguishing between mortal flesh and immortal spirit, and Jews distinguishing between holy matter and unholy matter Judaism and Christianity are most opposit or antithetical and I think this - more than any history of anti-Semitism or racism or religious oppression - may be why it so upsets jewish parents when their children convert to Christianity more than if a jewish shild is an atheist. Even as an atheist, as long as the child doesn't renounce his or her Jewishness, God is fulfilling his promise to Abraham that his children - children of the flesh (not "spiritual children") - will be like the stars in the sky or the grains of sand. A child who converts to Christianity is the loss of flesh in a double sense: the child's body is no longer Jewish, a subtraction from God's covenant with Abraham, and the child him/herself is renouncing a religion of the flesh for one of the spirit which, however much I can understand intellectually as a system of thought, just rubs against the grain of everything I know and feel about God and religion, because I was reared in a religion of the flesh. I am not sure how many Christians are aware of this, but for many Jews - this was clear to me groing up - Christianity is not bad or hateful or odious so much as, it just doesn't make sense to us. I think this is because we grow up speaking entirely different "languages" (or "metalanguages") of religion, and I think that the Christian language is premised on an opposition between body and spirit that does not exist in the Jewish language, and it is this difference that just makes much of Christianity simply unintelligible to Jews. I hope this is a better explanation of what I wrote earlier.
Pilotendz doesn't understand how I could say that Jews react negatively to Christian spirituality when s/he sees his/her own spirituality as deriving from jews' love of God. I hope it is clear that to me, nothing I wrote meant that Jews do NOT love God. But we love him through the flesh - a perfect example being how Jewish parents, who identify as jewish but do not obey jewish law, will nevertheless have their sons circumcised. I did not mean to say that there is something objectively wrong with Christian spirituality, I was only trying to explain a difference between Judaism and Christianty that explains why it so hurts a Jewish parent when his or her child converts to Christianity. Christians see a soul that is still wedded to God. Jews see the loss of a body. And I wish Pilotendz and other Christians could understand this Jewish language of religion - even if they do not "agree" with it or accept it as their own - but understand this Jewish language of religion in which it is through the flesh that we love God and how the loss of flesh is such a painful loss. I think this is the issue - an existential or ontological "betrayal" but not - or, not just - as Bikinibomb suggested, turning to the side of people who have in the past persecuted Jews (though I do think that is an issue, and explains why many Jews are so offended when some Jews have Christmas trees). Slrubenstein | Talk 13:30, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Comment Just a gentle reminder to use a different forum for general discussions of the subject, particularly very long ones. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 13:52, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

For those who would like to participate in the above discussion... talk has been moved to Talk:Christianity and Judaism. Please place your comments on that article.

As Shirahasasha notes, the above thread and discussion should perhaps move to the Christianity and Judaism talk page. Now to address the actual issue: I think we ought to favor outonyms, as Alistair suggested above. If there are a group of people who call themselves "Messianic Jews: that is how we should identify them. Moreover, I do not believe it is for us to categorize who is Jewish and who is Christian, that violates NOR. What is important is NPOV. Messianic Jews claim to be Jews. But we ought to include the views of Jews and Christians. I am certain that all other organized Jewish communities or movements reject Messianic Jews' claims to be Jewish. This does not mean we should not call them messianic Jews. it means we should note the relevant views: they consider themselves Jewish but other Jews do not. I am curious to know whether any official Church or Christian community has made any official statement about Messianic Jews. In any event, what matters are the views of Messianic Jews themselves, other jewish groups, and other Christian groups, but not us editors. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:57, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
WP:NCON#Dealing_with_self-identifying_terms concurs - autonyms are considered the only WP:NPOV name. So the only question would be are there other notable meanings for the term "Messianic Jew"? If so, then some sort of disambiguation might be needed - either a link to a disambiguation page or alternatively a direct link to an appropriate article. Egfrank (talk) 14:02, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
One way of sorting out whether or not there is a disambiguation need is to look at the distribution of meaning for the top 30 hits on a google search. If "Messianic Jew" is quoted, then all of the first 30 hits concern Jewish believers in Jesus. If unquoted, #27 (titled Judaic Messianism) provides resources from a university course on a variety of messianic movements within Judaism[4]. Quoted or unquoted all first 30 hits for "Messianic Judaism" concern Jewish believers in Jesus.
It would seem to me that the term "messianic Jew" is unambiguous. However, for full clarity, the article Messianic Judaism should probably have a hat note pointing to a general article covering messianic movements that have attracted Jews. Egfrank (talk) 14:45, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Very clearly and decisively presented answers to my question, both of you, and thanks.
My apologies for raising the question in the wrong place.
Thanks Shir for stepping in to help us be more disciplined. Alastair Haines (talk) 23:20, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Testament and Covenant are not synonymous[edit]

(the word testament is commonly confused with the word covenant<ref>Sometimes the [[New Covenant]] is referred to as the [[New Testament]], on the basis of passages such as {{bibleverse||Heb|9:16|KJV}}, in its traditional ([[KJV]]) translation. This usage reflects the [[Vulgate]], in which the word "covenant" was translated "testamentum". Biblical scholars, such as O. Palmer Robertson, have argued against this translation, however, since the word "testamentum", in [[Latin]], expresses the concept of a "last will," not an agreement between two parties sealed with a self-maledictory oath. See also [http://www.theopedia.com/Covenant Theopedia: "Covenant"] and [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=837&letter=C&search=Mosaic%20Covenant#2888 Jewish Encyclopedia: "Covenant: The Old and the New Covenant"].</ref>)

I suggest the preceeding parenthesis, after removal of the nowiki tags, be added to the article at an early and appropriate point. 75.14.220.126 (talk) 19:58, 22 November 2007 (UTC)