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.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Yeshua ha Mashiach: Jewish Messiah and Gentile God



 

“Do not put your trust in the Gentiles, Jesus!

Wandering through the centuries

I have learnt their custom and mores,

I have compared their deeds with their words-

Your mercy is not to their taste:

It is as straw to the maw of the Lion.”[1]

(“The Words of Don Henriquez” by Zalman Shneour )



Introduction

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This is often quoted from Hebrews 13:8 by Western Gentile Christians to discuss the person of the universal saviour. It seems to be forgotten that this “Letter to the Hebrews” is addressed to Jewish believers in the Messiah. The very words “Jesus Christ” evoke in our minds the monolithic image built up over 2,000 years of the God of the Gentiles in whose name the Jewish people have been persecuted and massacred. When we return the text to its original Jewish context to read, “Yeshua ha Mashiach is the same yesterday, today and forever”, our perspective radically changes and it forces us to return to the Jewish roots of the Christian Faith and a whole renewed paradigm of perceiving the person of the Jewish Messiah who is the saviour of all men who is Jewish yesterday, today and forever. Fortunately in more recent times some scholars have started to discuss the Jewishness of Yeshua[2] [3] and his mother Miriam[4] and others have written on a Jewish perspective on Paul.[5]  The art of Jewish artists like Marc Chagall with his crucified Yeshua[6] [7] in the midst of his Jewish people and the poetry of modern Israeli writers like Uri Zvi Greenberg who identify with the Jewish Yeshua of Nazareth,[8] reflect this new iconology of the Jewish Yeshua.

According to the Bible

The Gospels reread through their original Jewish paradigm as a Messianic midrash on the Torah gives a fresh insight into the life and mission of Yeshua ha Mashaich.[9] [10] Pope John Paul II said: “He who encounters Jesus Christ encounters Judaism.”[11] Yeshua comes to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven. Glasser states that the mission of Yeshua as recorded in the New Testament is incomprehensible without the Hebrew Scriptures of the First Covenant people.[12] This good news of the kingdom has a mystical and eschatological focus made present in the Eucharist.[13] Unfortunately while many are studying Yeshua in his life as an observant first century and Second Temple Jew, they are neglecting the whole mystical and eschatological dimensions of the interpretation found in Scripture and both Judaism and Christianity. Matthew’s Gospel teaches us that Yeshua did not come to destroy the Torah or the prophets. He was the ultimate fulfilment or perfection of the promise found in the Torah and the prophets as the Messiah of Israel.[14] This perfection of the Torah is summed up in the eight Beatitudes. Matthew also confirms that he has not come to overthrow traditional Judaism for the Scribes and the Pharisee Rabbis sit in the authentic seat of Moses.[15] Yeshua also sums up his mission in the words of the ‘Our Father’- “thy Kingdom come, they Will be done on earth as it is in heaven, give us today our daily bread”. The concept of “today” found in Psalm 95:7-8 and Hebrews 3:15 alludes to the link between “today” and the daily bread or manna of Exodus 16:25. The deepest penetration of this eschatological and sacramental mystery of the Eucharist is to dwell in the Divine Will on earth as they do in heaven.

According to the Tradition

The Church at its best will enter into this Eucharistic mystery of the risen and glorified Messiah through reading and developing the insights of the Scriptures when contemplated using the four senses of Scripture. The Catechism states:



According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.”[16]



These four senses are also part of the Jewish reading of Scripture.[17] St Augustine and the Church of Alexandria are masters of the allegorical reading of Scripture.[18] St Maximus the Confessor and the many other mystical saints of the Church are masters of the anagogical or mystical approach.[19] Combining of these Jewish approaches with the philosophical approach of the Greeks the Church will begin to delve deeper in to the mystery of Yeshua which were expressed in the great Councils of the Church. This meeting of Jerusalem and Athens began with Paul proclaiming the Gospel in the Areopagus[20] and continued to be developed by Justin Martyr, the Greek Fathers, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. They will express the great mysteries of Yeshua and the Trinity hidden as seeds in the Scriptures and Tradition in a way understandable for their Gentile flock. While developing the doctrinal tradition of the Church and enriching theological thought the Jewish Church and Judaism became increasingly sidelined and marginalized. Gentile anti-Semitism entered the Church and now Yeshua the Torah-observant Jewish Messiah became Jesus Christ the almost Zeus –like and Apollo-like God of the Gentiles. We see this rather bipolar approach in the life of John Chrysostom who though a great theologian and liturgist was at the same time a theological anti-Semite.[21] This false anti-Jewish polemical path ultimately led to the tragedy of the Shoah in the 20th century. A definitive change in direction began with Nostra Aetate with its section on Jews and Judaism in the documents of Vatican II.[22] A number of Jewish positive documents of magisterial importance have since been released as well as the important steps forward made by recent Popes. Pope John Paul II taught that the Old Covenant had never been revoked and this was included in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.[23] Pope Benedict XVI’s insight was that the Last Supper is a prolongation of the covenant made at Sinai.[24]



Human Experience and Cultural Dimension: Jesus or the Church in Cross-cultural Perspective



            An important concept of enculturation of the Gospel into other cultures began with Paul and the Council of Jerusalem[25] when the early Jewish Church approved Gentiles becoming believers and members of the Church without becoming culturally Jewish but they could express their faith in the Jewish Messiah in the context of their own people and culture. In recent centuries the Church became very Euro-centric and conformity and uniformity became the policy of much of the Catholic Church rather than diversity and unity. One example of this was the mission of enculturation by the Jesuits in China. In China the Jesuits were having great success with the Chinese in adapting the Catholic faith to the Chinese customs. However many Franciscans and Dominicans back in Rome opposed these so called “Chinese rites”. In the end the good work of Matteo Ricci and the Jesuits was undone and the Chinese rites banned until lifted by Pius XII.[26] Jacob Leib Frank and a large group of 60,000 Jewish mystics converted to the Catholic Church in 1760 partly inspired by idea that the Church may allow a form of enculturation for the Jews in the Church, as was happening with the Chinese Rites.[27]  They sought the permission of the Polish Church to live openly according to their Jewish traditions but were denied by the rather narrow anti-Jewish Polish Bishops. Their greatest supporters the Jesuits were themselves under attack by rigid forces in the Church. The Frankists then decided to outwardly conform but to privately observe many of their customs in a similar way to many of the Sephardi Conversos families.[28] They also became a hidden leaven in the Catholic spiritual and mystical movements.



Critical Synthesis



            As one who is a Catholic Jew I have for the last nearly 30 years been involved in the Hebrew Catholic Movement and a member of the Association of Hebrew Catholics which is seeking to create a space for Jews of all levels of Jewish observances in the Catholic Church and to combat the regime of assimilation that has been the policy towards Jews in the Church for the last 1500 years.[29] I have noticed that the older Hebrew Catholics were more interested in a Jewish cultural space whereas the younger generations are more interested in Torah-observances and Jewish traditional observances done in the light of the coming of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua. It has been those Frankists or Marrano families that keep secretly Jewish observances that maintained their Jewish identity for generations.[30]

Conclusion

            In such a small essay it is impossible to really say much about Yeshua ha Mashiach so I chose to focus on a Jewish perspective. Yeshua is both the humble Jewish carpenter, Jewish Messiah and Saviour of the Gentiles. His Jewish observance has great significance and meaning to those Jews who have also embraced him but have not rejected their election as a Jew. It is also important that Gentile believers see Yeshua in his Jewish features if they are not to make Christianity into a form of Gnosticism cut off from its cultural and religious roots in the soil of Israel and the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The words of the Marrano Don Henriquez above and below- “Do not put your trust in the Gentiles, Jesus!”-express the mixed experience of many Jews who have entered the Church who identify with the Jewish Yeshua, Miriam and Yosef but not their Gentile overlords.[31]

“Do not put your trust in the Gentiles, Jesus!

The day will come- and it is not far off-

When you too will be persecuted

And hounded from the hut of the peasant

From the palace, the ship, and the seat of justice:

…Don Henriquez today – and tomorrow you,

Brother Jesus – crucified Jew of Nazareth!”

(“The Words of Don Henriquez” by Zalman Shneour )

Word Count just over 2,000 excluding footnotes, references and quotes.
Bibliography
Amishai-Maisels, Ziva. "Chagall's" White Crucifixion"." Art Institute of Chicago Museum          Studies 17, no. 2 (1991): 139-181.

Athans, Mary Christine. In quest of the Jewish Mary: The mother of Jesus in history, theology and spirituality. Orbis Books, 2013.

Bock, Darrell. Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament Christology. Vol. 12. A&C Black, 1987.

Chrysostom, John (Saint) Discourses against Judaizing Christians (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 68). Vol. 68. CUA Press, 2010.

Dunn, J.D.G. Dunn's Manson Memorial Lecture (4.11.1982): 'The New Perspective on Paul' BJRL 65(1983), 95–122.

Flusser, David and R. S. Notley. "Jesus. Jerusalem." The Magness Press (The Hebrew University) 21998 (1997): 316.

Friedman, Elias OC Jewish Identity. Miriam Press, 1987.
Glasser, Arthur F, Charles E. Van Engen, Dean S. Gilliland, Shawn B. Redford, and Paul Hiebert. Announcing the Kingdom: The Story of God's Mission in the Bible. Baker Academic, 2003.
Gitlitz, David Martin. Secrecy and deceit: The religion of the crypto-Jews. UNM Press, 2002.

Hatzidakis, Fr. Emmanuel. The Heavenly Banquet: Understanding the Divine Liturgy. Orthodox Witness, 2013.
Hoffman, Matthew B. From Rebel to Rabbi: Reclaiming Jesus and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture. Stanford University Press, 2007.

Jeffrey, David L. People of the Book: Christian identity and literary culture. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996.

John Paul II. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Urbi Et Orbi Communications, 1994.

Kinzer, Mark S.  Searching Her Own Mystery: Nostra Aetate, the Jewish People, and the Identity of the Church. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2015.

Maciejko, Pawel. The mixed multitude: Jacob Frank and the Frankist movement, 1755-1816. (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 142-145.

Miller, Merrill P.  "Targum, midrash and the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament." Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Period 2 (1971): 29-82.

Mungello, David E and Monumenta Serica Institute. The Chinese rites controversy: Its history and meaning. Vol. 33. Loyola Press, 1994.

Rutishauser, Christian M.  "The 1947 Seelisberg Conference: The Foundation of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue." Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 2, no. 2 (2011).

Šiaučiūnaitė-Verbickienė, Jurgita and Larisa Lempertienė, eds. Jewish Space in Central and Eastern Europe: Day-to-Day History. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009.

Stahl, Neta. Other and Brother: Jesus in the 20th-century Jewish Literary Landscape. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Van der Heide, Albert. "PARDES: Methodological Reflections on the Theory of the Four Senses." Journal (The) of Jewish Studies London 34, no. 2 (1983): 147-159.

Wright, Nicholas Thomas. Jesus Victory of God V2: Christian Origins and the Question of God. Fortress Press, 1997.





[1] Neta Stahl, Other and Brother: Jesus in the 20th-century Jewish Literary Landscape. (Oxford University Press, 2013), 34
[2] David Flusser and R. S. Notley. "Jesus. Jerusalem." The Magness Press (The Hebrew University) 21998 (1997): 316.
[3] Nicholas Thomas Wright, Jesus Victory of God V2: Christian Origins and The Question Of God. Fortress Press, 1997.
[4] Mary Christine Athans, In quest of the Jewish Mary: The mother of Jesus in history, theology and spirituality. Orbis Books, 2013.
[5] J.D.G. Dunn's Manson Memorial Lecture (4.11.1982): 'The New Perspective on Paul' BJRL 65(1983), 95–122.
[6] Ziva Amishai-Maisels, "Chagall's" White Crucifixion"." Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 17, no. 2 (1991): 139-181.
[7] , Matthew B Hoffman, From Rebel to Rabbi: Reclaiming Jesus and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture. (Stanford University Press, 2007), 243.
[8] Stahl, Other and Brother: Jesus in the 20th-century Jewish Literary Landscape.
[9] Merrill P. Miller, "Targum, midrash and the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament." Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Period 2 (1971): 29-82.
[10] Darrell Bock, Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament Christology. Vol. 12. (A&C Black, 1987), 17.
[11] Christian M. Rutishauser, "The 1947 Seelisberg Conference: The Foundation of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue." Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 2, no. 2 (2011), 7.
[12]Arthur F. Glasser, Charles E. Van Engen, Dean S. Gilliland, Shawn B. Redford, and Paul Hiebert. Announcing the Kingdom: The Story of God's Mission in the Bible. Baker Academic, 2003.
[13] John 6
[14] Matthew 5:17-19:  
[15] Matthew 23 1-3:
[16] John Paul II. Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Urbi Et Orbi Communications, 1994), 115.
[17] Albert Van der Heide, "PARDES: Methodological Reflections on the Theory of the Four Senses." Journal (The) of Jewish Studies London 34, no. 2 (1983): 147-159.
[18] David L. Jeffrey, People of the Book: Christian identity and literary culture. (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996), 72.
[19] Emmanuel Hatzidakis, Fr. The Heavenly Banquet: Understanding the Divine Liturgy. Orthodox Witness, 2013.
[20] Acts 17:16-34
[21] John Chrysostom. Discourses against Judaizing Christians (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 68). Vol. 68. CUA Press, 2010.
[22] Mark S. Kinzer, Searching Her Own Mystery: Nostra Aetate, the Jewish People, and the Identity of the Church. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2015.
[23] CCC 121: The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.
[24] Joseph Ratzinger, Many religions, one covenant: Israel, the Church, and the World. (Ignatius Press, 2015), 63-64.
[25] Acts 15
[26] David E. Mungello, and Monumenta Serica Institute. The Chinese rites controversy: Its history and meaning. Vol. 33. Loyola Pr, 1994.
[27] Pawel Maciejko,. The mixed multitude: Jacob Frank and the Frankist movement, 1755-1816. (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 142-145.
[28] Jurgita Šiaučiūnaitė-Verbickienė, and Larisa Lempertienė, eds. Jewish Space in Central and Eastern Europe: Day-to-Day History. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009.
[29] Elias Friedman, Jewish Identity. Miriam Press, 1987.
[30] David Martin Gitlitz, Secrecy and deceit: The religion of the crypto-Jews. UNM Press, 2002.
[31] Stahl, Other and Brother: Jesus in the 20th-century Jewish Literary Landscape.

Note: I wrote this essay on Jesus Christ for a "Christian foundations" unit in my Graduate Diploma of Theological Studies in Ancient Languages. It had to be 2,000 words and written to a set format so I was unable to develop much the ideas touched on briefly in this essay.