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.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Doubly Chosen: Galatians 1:15-16: A Hebrew Catholic Interpretation of a Marian and Eucharistic Mystery


I have discussed in other places the wonderful book by a orthodox Jewish scholar Judith Deutsch Kornblatt. Her book is titled "Doubly Chosen: Jewish Identity, the Soviet Intelligentsia, and the Russian Orthodox". 'Doubly chosen' is a term used by Russian Orthodox Christians of Jewish ancestry to demonstrate that they are firstly chosen by God through their birth into the Jewish people and secondly chosen by the Lord through the grace of baptism. Many Hebrew Catholics (Catholic Jews) also like this term for understanding their relationship to the Jewish people and the Church (which is mainly Gentile).


According to orthodox Jewish teaching one is Jewish if one's mother is Jewish or of maternal Jewish ancestry or if one converts to Judaism according to Halakah. The convert to Judaism is said to have come under the wings of the Shekhinah. In a sense the feminine Shekhinah as a mother brings through the waters of the conversional mikveh (a kind of symbolic womb) the new son or daughter of Israel. Thus a Jew receives his election or chosenness through the womb of his mother whether a biological mother or the heavenly mother Shekhinah who is also Kneset Yisrael.
St Paul the great Pharasaic Rabbi of Tarsus who embraced Yeshua as the Messiah also alludes to this concept of the 'doubly chosen'. In Galatians 1:15 he speaks of this double call or election. In the Douai Rheims Bible it says

"...But when it pleased him, who separated (ἀφορίσας) me from my mother's womb, and called (καλέσας) me by his grace..."
Here we see that Paul associates his selection as a Jew as coming from his mother's womb. In the Greek two different words are used to represent these elections. For the physical chosenness as a Jew is used ἀφορίσας (aforisas) which means to separate which alludes to God separating the people Israel from the nations to be his separate or set apart holy nation. For the calling or chosenness of the new covenant grace of baptism is used καλέσας (kalesas) which means to call or invite.

Thus Paul confirms the teaching of orthodox Judaism that one's set apart or separate status is due to the maternal status of coming from the mother's womb not from the seed (sperma) of the father. Paul elaborates more on this in Romans 9 where he uses Isaac as his example that not all who come from the seed (sperma) of Abraham and Israel are part of the separated children of Israel. He alludes to the verse in Genesis about "in Isaac shall thy seed (zera) be called (κληθήσεταί)". Abraham had Ishmael and the sons of Keturah but they are not considered the children of the promise as they had Gentile mothers. Paul singles out Sarah and Rebecca as Hebrew mothers who conceive those who are considered the children of the promise.
 

It is interesting that Paul uses in the Greek the same word for his call to grace as the call of Isaac's seed. In a sense he is saying that even in Old Testament times the grace of the New Law (living the Torah according to the spirit and heart) was in act as it was not only one's birth but the grace of the promise that was important in one being one of the chosen children of God. Gentiles in the New Covenant receive the grace of baptism which also alludes to the sanctified waters of the mother's womb of Our Lady and the Church.
 

The encounter of Paul with a bright light and then the voice of the Lord speaking to him in Hebrew parallels Moses encounter of the burning bush and the voice of the Lord speaking to him in Hebrew from its midst. The burning bush represents the pure and immaculate Virgin (manifesting out of Eternity) and thus as Moses' encounter with God though the burning bush is a Marian encounter so is Paul's bright light the light of the pure and immaculate Virgin (manifesting out of Eternity) through which he encounters the crucified Lord. In both accounts the Name of God is revealed. This is in a sense the Marian mystery and light of the Incarnation manifesting out of Eternity into time in different but similar manifestations. At the Incarnation Our Lady is bathed in the light of God as the angel reveals the Name of her Son the Messiah to her.
 

Paul also in Romans 9:24-26 alludes to the fact that the Gentiles who God is calling are considered to be of the status of the lost Tribes of Israel and he also alludes to Hosea where it speaks about Ephraim returning to Judah and to their finding grace in the wilderness of the Gentiles (Jer. 31:2). Orthodox Jewish law states that the lost Tribes are classified as Gentiles for the purpose of Halakah and would need a conversion ceremony to rejoin the Jewish people in keeping Halakah. Judaism traditionally accepts anyone back into Judaism who has proven maternal Jewish ancestry for up to ten generations without a conversion ceremony. Some groups however especially among the Ashkenazim will only accept them if it is only 3 or 4 generations that they are outside the Jewish community.
 

In this sense Paul would seem to see the Gentile believers as the Gentile-status House of Israel/Ephraim and the Jews as the Torah-observant House of Judah. He forsees their eventual reunion in Romans 11 when "all Israel will be saved".
 

Galatians 1:16 reads in the Douai-Rhiems Bible:
"...To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles, immediately I condescended not to flesh and blood..."
It has traditionally been translated to mean that Paul didn't defer to any human authority. However it could be interpreted to mean that after Paul received baptism and confirmation from Ananias he didn't at once enter into eucharistic (flesh and blood) priesthood which imparts through the laying on of hands the body and blood of the Messiah to others. It is only after 3 years of training in the exile of Arabia that he returns to Jerusalem to Peter and James where he enters into the ministry of the fullness of the priesthood. The word translated as condescended (προσανεθέμην) can mean "to lay on besides, hence to undertake besides" and is often translated "to consult, impart or communicate". Thus Paul may be saying that his primary call was to proclaim to the Gentiles first about the grace of baptism and only later to impart the mystery of the Eucharist (body and blood) to them. Thus we could translate Galatians 1:15 as:

"...To reveal his Son in me that I might proclaim him, among the Gentiles I didn't immediately impart the body and blood (Eucharist)..."
This reflected Paul's apostolic strategy based on that of the House of Hillel's teaching of introducing the faith in stages that would not burden the new converts too much. It also reflects the early Church's great reverence and secrecy surrounding the mystery of the Eucharist. Marian and Eucharistic mysteries had to be gradually introduced to the former pagans or they would be led astray into pagan and superstitious practices. This would also reflect Our Lord's example where he proclaimed the Gospel and baptised the apostles first and only after 3 years did he reveal the Eucharistic mystery to his apostles at the Last Supper. This interpretation of Paul lessens the idea that Paul is stressing his own independence and authority as opposed to that of the Jerusalem Church.
 

The phrase "and called (καλέσας) me by his grace (χάριτος) to reveal his Son in me" should not be separated by a verse division. This feminine charitos alludes to Our Lady who is the"Full of Grace" and God's created Grace in action. Thus Paul is revealing in hidden form (perhaps unwittingly) a Marian mystery connected with the Double Marian calling or election of the Jewish disciple and a Marian calling of the Gentile disciple. Like Paul the Jewish disciple of the Messiah Yeshua is called by Our Lady (grace) in order to reveal the hidden crucified and Eucharistic Yeshua dwelling in him and all Jews. Paul then desires to share this with the Gentiles through Our Lady in the womb waters of baptism in order to lead them to behold the crucified and Eucharistic Yeshua who is the God who dwells in the flesh and blood of his Mother as Man. Thus we can now read Galatians 1:15-16 as:

"...But when it pleased him, who separated (ἀφορίσας) me from my mother's womb, and called (καλέσας) me by his grace (χάριτος) to reveal his Son in me that I might proclaim him, among the Gentiles I didn't immediately impart the body and blood (Eucharist)..."

 


 Our Lady as the Burning Bush

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