I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Yeshua and Messianic Expectations: A Hebrew Catholic Insight

The Hebrew word mashiach means an anointed one or Messiah. The Jewish culture anointed kings, prophets and priests with holy oil to set them apart for their calling. By Second Temple times the Jewish people had certain messianic expectations based on their reading of their holy writings. In Tenach the Davidic kings were called an anointed one and a belief grew in the coming of a future kingly anointed one.

The Dead Sea Scrolls speak of two Messiahs- a kingly Messiah called Messiah of Israel and a priestly Messiah of Levi. Jewish tradition also spoke of a suffering or Leper Messiah son of Joseph, a warrior Messiah son of Ephraim and an ultimate Messiah son of David etc. Many Jews believed in a conquering Messiah who would defeat the enemies of the Jews and usher in a universal kingdom of peace.[1] Many scholars of the past saw the Christian concept of a resurrected Messiah as a unique Christian contribution. However this is now questioned. Professor Knohl states that the Dead Sea Scrolls speak about a resurrected Messiah that would rise after 3 days.[2] In the 1990’s a first century BC tablet known as “Gabriel’s Revelation” was discovered in Israel also spoke of a resurrected Messiah who would rise after 3 days.[3] This connection with three days, resurrection and a messianic figure is found throughout the Tenach according to orthodox Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide.[4]

For the early Jewish believers in Yeshua, they saw Yeshua as being both conquering son of David and suffering son of Joseph as well as kingly and priestly Messiah. Yeshua in his first coming was the suffering priestly Messiah son of Joseph and in his second coming he will be the conquering kingly Messiah son of David. The New Testament mentions Yeshua both as son of Joseph and son of David who is also Son of God. However there is an aspect of his role as Messiah that has not been completed on earth until the second coming. Lapide writes:  “I cannot imagine that even a single Jew who believes in God would have the least thing against that… Should the coming one be Jesus, he would be precisely as welcome as any other whom God would designate as the redeemer of the world. If he would only come!”[5]

The majority of ordinary Jews held to a more political vision of the Messiah in Second Temple Times. It would seem that the ordinary simple people (like the fishermen Peter, Andrew, James and John) were focused on the political liberation dimension of the messianic portrait whereas the more mystical and/or scholarly elements among the priests and the Essenes (Dead Sea Scrolls) held a more nuanced portrait of the coming Messiah.[6] The portrait of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (written in a more down to earth style) and the portrait of Jesus in the Gospel of John (a much more priestly, mystical and liturgical Gospel) seems to retain these different perspectives.

Question: Is it possible that the Jewish concepts of Messiah and the Christian concepts of the Messiah could draw together by a new emphasis on the Jewish roots of the Christian theological ideas in Second Temple Judaism?

[1] Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts: Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years (USA: Wayne State University Press, 1979) 165-170.
[2]  Israel Knohl, The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls, University of California Press: USA, 2002.
[3]  Ethan Bronner, “Ancient Tablets Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection” New York Times July 6 2008.
[4] Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (USA; Augsburg Fortress Publishing House, 1982), 91-92.
[5] Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective, 19.
[6] see Leonora Leet. The secret doctrine of the Kabbalah: Recovering the key to Hebraic sacred science. Inner Traditions/Bear & Co, 1999.

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