Posts Tagged ‘Judaism’

Whose Scriptures Are They?

July 12, 2011 2 comments

Reading this article – “Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church” (Oxford Study Bible, pages 129-140) – I’m struck by how hard these particular early Christians were working to justify the cognitive dissonance engendered by the fact that they had appropriated the heritage of the Jews without actually converting, submitting, to Judaism. The points that get me are these: Read more…


Gotta Sink an Anchor

January 29, 2011 2 comments

“In these first centuries of the common era both Judaism and Christianity gave shape to and defined the authority of collections of writings that formed their respective Bibles or canons of sacred writings” (Oxford Study Bible, page 47).

Is this true? I had no idea that Judaism waited so long to canonize its scriptures. It’s strange to think of Christians and Jews on a parallel track to found themselves, to make a way not to forget themselves in a shifting world. It was a time when you could no longer trust culture. Too much was changing; you couldn’t trust yourself to pass the traditions to your children, and you couldn’t trust them either. It was time to textualize: this book, this will tell us what is true and what we are. What a sad time.

And yet, part of what they were doing I hold in common: “engaging the past in search of identity for the present and direction for the future” (ibid.).

My Faith Must Be of This Land

January 29, 2011 Leave a comment

I paused from my study to read back over these entries, trying to make sense of something that eludes me. It has to do with this subject of lineage and place and how they affect religion.

I think I understand how we got here: how the history of ancient Israel came to be so important to us contemporary American descendants of European pagans. It’s a strange story, but logical enough when you lay it out.

We Americans are just as strange, ourselves. We’re not Europeans (though we each have a nation or two across the Atlantic to claim for a heritage), and we’re not natives (though we were born here). We’re the starling among birds, the rock dove, the non-native blackberry that has become Read more…

Stories that Wear the Clothes of My People

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment

In exile, the “Jewish heirs of old Israel” came “to perceive that there were other ways to understand the death of their nation…,” to “sing new songs to their God,” whose authority “transcended all national boundaries… to be both Jewish and citizens of diverse nations” (Oxford Study Bible, page 42). It was “a situation in which the struggle for new identities, new forms of religious community, and new ways of being the people of Yahweh, could be explored.” These were the communities of the biblical tradition, those “that produced and treasured it” (ibid., page 41).

I did not produce the biblical tradition, but I come from a community that treasures it. Read more…

Ancient Israelite Activists

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment

It may be that ancient Israel was non-ecumenical, actively shaping themselves in contrast to their surroundings, but I suppose this element didn’t come of age until early Judaism when the exiled people were forced to survive without a nation in an alien world. I see them, before then, almost as activists, setting up the rules of their federation in protest against the monarchies and hierarchies nearby (Oxford Study Bible, pages 35-36), visionaries dreaming of some unknown alternative. Yet they were deeply influenced by the givens as well.

Mixed Lineage

January 17, 2011 Leave a comment

The Oxford Study Bible, page 6: “both [the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament] relate the continuing story of God’s involvement with the Jewish people and the surrounding Gentile world.”

What does this have to do with me? Why are these the scriptures on which I’ve built my life? I’m not Jewish, and since the word “Gentile” only has meaning from a Jewish worldview, I’m not Gentile either.

I suppose there is both form and content at play here, Read more…