Messianic Jewish Musings Has Moved!!!

Messianic Jewish Musings has moved as of April 18, 2011. Old posts and comments will remain here and will also be ported to the new site. New comments (even on old posts) should be made at the new site.

To read Messianic Jewish Musings (old and new), go here:
Or follow me on Facebook at

And see our collaborative site:
Rabbi Stuart Dauermann:
Rabbi Joshua Brumbach:
Messianic Jewish Issues:

Posted in Messianic Jewish | 16 Comments

PODCAST: Narrow Door – Yeshua in Context

Luke 13 is in a section about the messianic prophet on his way to Jerusalem. The conflict is mounting. There is a conflict with the powers of illness and demonic possession. Yeshua is defeating them. Another conflict is building with Yeshua’s own generation and especially the leaders and aspiring leaders of Israel.

The messianic prophet says there is a narrow door. But if this door is not found, Israel will find it locked and the judge will not hear their plea. “Jerusalem, how I longed to gather you,” says the messianic prophet. But the narrow door has been missed. There are, however, hidden things going on. Something is growing in the Yeshua movement, something that will outlast Yeshua’s career in Israel.

A CHANGE IN PLANS: In good news, the children’s book is getting closer and may be ready early. In somewhat disappointing news, I’m putting off the audio-commentary on Mark for a later time in 2011. I’m realizing the need to edit and improve my notes on Mark. Even in a few months some things have become much clearer for me and I believe the Mark commentary will be better for the wait.

COMING: “Eyewitnesses in the Gospels” seminar June 5 in Atlanta. We’d love to have you come and join us. “Reading the Rabbis” June 26. See on the “Classes” page for the latest information.

(1) Subscribe on iTunes (search the iTunes store for Yeshua and find us under podcasts).
(2) Or go to this link at

Posted in Yeshua, Yeshua In Context | 2 Comments

Hidden things are happening

This is sort of random. I just enjoyed the thought that came to me about Luke 13:18-21. How do these retellings of the mustard seed and leaven parables fit with vss. 1-21? Luke Timothy Johnson’s commentary helped me see the connections. After the jump I have a few sentences I wrote, inspired by Johnson, about how these parables are being used by Luke to round out the section. Those who subscribe to my Daily D’var commentary on Torah and gospel readings get this sort of material daily. Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Yeshua, Yeshua In Context | 1 Comment

God-Stories vs. Godless Stories

I’m reading Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, a very well written novel in the fantasy genre (a genre I love and which I am writing in as you can see here). One his little side stories made me think about religious versus atheistic stories and what relation they have to love, goodness, and activism to help and change the world.

I’m not seeking to prove or even give evidence for or against any religion in this musing. I have to say honestly, though, that I am dissing the atheists’ story. So maybe I’m giving a subjective argument against the materialist-naturalist-atheist meta-narrative. But you be the judge. Continue reading

Posted in Atheism, Faith | 11 Comments

MJ About to Get a Media Boost!

New partnerships have been planned for over six months and are about to appear on the scene Monday, April 18 (the day of preparation for Passover). Messianic Jewish Musings is moving. Messianic Judaism is going to start getting a boost in ratings. These are the essentials. Now for a few details . . .

Messianic Judaism Media, my other job besides being a congregational rabbi and writing reams of paperless online articles day and night, is about to launch its website on Monday. It will be a blog collaboration. And all existing posts on “Messianic Jewish Musings” will remain right here but will also be ported over to the new site. So your links to “Messianic Jewish Musings” posts will all still work. But you will need to change your RSS feed subscriptions and so on to the new location: (it won’t work until Monday). I will finish up Monday with a big, easy-to-read link that reminds everyone of the new location.

So what is this all about? Continue reading

Posted in messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism | 2 Comments

The 2011 Passover Palooza of Information!

Passover is a biggie. We’ve had lots of articles here already about Passover. And people have plenty of Passover questions. This annual Passover Palooza is a way for you to get tons of info and links to resources all in one place, plus I link articles I’ve posted here about various aspects of Passover (spiritual and how-to).

Passover begins at sundown Monday night, April 18, 2011. That night is the first Seder (ceremonial meal of Passover). Most American Jews also have a Seder on the second night. From Monday sundown until Tuesday sundown is a Yom Tov (a special day of Sabbath rest, traditionally two days outside of Israel, so going until Wednesday night at sundown). The seventh (and traditionally also the eighth) day is a Yom Tov as well (starts Sunday night, April 24). Many Messianic Jews and Hasidic Jews have a Seudat Mashiach (Meal of Messiah) Seder on Sunday night.

See after the jump for how-to links, information, articles, resources, and more. Continue reading

Posted in Messianic Jewish | 4 Comments

Moshe Sharon

He commented here a few times yesterday. You can click on his name where it appears on his comments to see his blog. A very quick peek suggests he is a person who dabbles in alternative health mixed with kabbalah. It all looks a little “National Enquirer” to me.

Meanwhile, he does one thing on other people’s blogs and the opposite on his own blog. Click “read more” to read his rules explained to a commenter at his blog. We could wish he followed his own rules when walking in other people’s neighborhoods. Continue reading

Posted in messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism | 4 Comments

Biblical Glimpses Into Mystical Horizons

I’m giving a Skype lecture Wednesday night to a small group in Texas about mysticism and the Bible. So, naturally, my mind is on the subject this week and I’m putting down some rather random notes. Glimpses into mystical horizons occur regularly and frequently through the Torah, prophets, writings, gospels, apostolic letters, and the apocalypse of the New Testament (you know, Revelation).

I’m not suggesting that I am an expert on mysticism or even biblical mystical texts. I’m more of an enthusiast.

There are a number of aspects of mysticism in the Bible that interest me. First, the idea that there are supra-rational expressions of God’s nature and deeds intrigue me. I am a recovering rationalist. Second, expressions of God’s nature that differentiate between his Direct Being and his Radiated Essences fascinate me: the Word (Memra, Dibbur, Logos), the Image, the Spirit, the Presence, the Glory, the Cloud, the Fire, the Son, etc. Third, the experiential aspects of knowing God that transcend reason seem desirable to me as ways of seeking a deeper dimension of life. I don’t appreciate cheap references to deeper experiences which are empty of all meaning and are merely used to imply religious superiority. In other words, if I look into experiential ways of seeking the depths of God, I desire honesty. That usually means admitting frustration.

Here are some not-so-organized thoughts on mysticism in the Bible. Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Mysticism | 13 Comments

Ways a Bad Translation Can Goof You Up

I was teaching yesterday at congregation. I do an interactive hour of teaching every week after the shacharit (morning prayer) service. The subject was Luke 8. I was talking about how you can see over Luke’s shoulders to an issue from his own time that he was addressing in the way he ordered and shaped the stories from Luke 8:4-56. That’s also what my podcast was about Friday. The issue is the scandal of the delay of the Second Coming and the hostile reaction to the gospel in Luke’s day as a message hard to believe.

At the end, I went to John 21, and especially to John 21:22, to make a final point: that the dying off of apostles without the realization of the Second Coming was an issue that made the community nervous and caused them trouble (and the issue still causes us trouble, doesn’t it?).

That’s when my translation goofed me up. Continue reading

Posted in Bible | 8 Comments

PODCAST: Faith in Waiting – Yeshua in Context

I’m wondering if we can look over Luke’s shoulder as he orders and shapes the storytelling in Luke 8. Does he order and shape these very familiar stories in a pattern that sends a message to the community in his day?

And if the delay of the Second Coming and the foolishness of the gospel was urgent for Luke’s community, isn’t it even more so for ours?

June – Mark: An Audio-Commentary in Judeo-Christian Perspective
June – The Messiah Yeshua Children’s Series, Volume 1
August – (hopefully) Yeshua for Small Groups

(1) Subscribe on iTunes (search Yeshua in the iTunes store and find us under podcasts) or

(2) Click on this link to listen at

Posted in Faith, Gospel, Yeshua In Context | 1 Comment

Debunking Three Common Bible Myths

These myths are so prevalent, they just keep getting repeated.

Myth #1: Abba means “daddy,” and is a term of childhood endearment.

Myth #2: The high priest on Yom Kippur went into the Holy of Holies with a rope tied around his ankle.

Myth #3: There was a dump where garbage was burned in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna).

Documentation after the jump. Continue reading

Posted in Bible | 14 Comments

“Knowledge” Transcending Knowledge

I’m giving a Skype seminar next Wednesday to a small group in Texas. With the cost of airline travel and gasoline, it only makes sense for a small group to find an alternative. I’m interested to see how it all works and whether everyone is satisfied with the experience or not. About 12 people will gather in a house in front of computer and we’ll share two-way video. So we should be able to have questions and answers and not just have a lecture. My experience in the past with Skype has been less than perfect, but we’ll see how the technology fares.

Of all the topics that I write about and speak about, they wanted to zero in on mysticism in the Bible.

I first of all referred them to chapters 13 and 17 of Yeshua in Context. They all bought books and read in advance for the seminar. The leader of the group just emailed to say, “We had a lot of our questions answered from Yeshua in Context, so would you mind covering additional material and taking us deeper?”

Meanwhile, I just reflected last night on one of Paul Philip Levertoff’s sayings about knowledge and wrote commentary today on Luke 10:21-24. You can see the commentary on Luke 10:21-24 here. It is a practically oriented explanation with real benefit for disciples here and now. And this all leads me to a short reflection on “knowledge” after the jump. Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Discipleship, Faith, Mysticism | Leave a comment

CLASSIC REPRINT: Hidden Meaning in the Passover Haggadah

Reading Lawrence Hoffman’s historical commentary on the Haggadah in My People’s Passover Haggadah is always a joy. My People’s Passover Haggadah (MPPH) has commentary from many angles by different contributors: biblical, theological, midrashic, medieval commentators, modern haggadot, feminist, spirituality, and issues of translation. But I nearly always find that Lawrence Hoffman’s historical commentary teaches me the most.

In the maggid section of the Haggadah, the part where the story is told, though in a fashion that is far from straightforward, there are quite a few hidden meanings. Many of these midrashim are obscure now, hard to read and discern what their original intent might be.

One of the main sections speaks about Laban the Aramean. It references Deuteronomy 26:5. Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Passover | 1 Comment

Also Messiah of the High & Mighty

On the Yeshua in Context blog, I explore the not-so-poor-and-lowly among Yeshua’s disciples and those he served.

Preview: Don’t forget also the woman with the issue of blood (as the King James has immortalized her in Mark 5:25). She had spent all her money on doctors who did not help her. So you might say she was not wealthy. But the point is, she was wealthy until she became destitute through her disability, and this well-to-do woman who lost everything found it again in Yeshua.

Read more at Yeshua in Context here.

Posted in Discipleship, Yeshua In Context | Leave a comment

Why is Passover so Christian-ly Popular?

I’m not sure when the practice started, the practice of churches inviting in Jewish-Christian speakers to talk about Passover and the Last Supper of Jesus. I’m guessing that it sort of started with Jews for Jesus in the 70’s. I have no doubt that there are earlier examples of Passover sermons in churches in modern times, but the wave of popularity of “Christ in the Passover” and “Jesus in the Passover” messages likely dates to the Jews for Jesus movement.

To put things in clearer historical perspective, consider a simple summary of the history of modern Hebrew Christianity and Messianic Judaism:

(1) Late 1800’s: missionary societies pick up on the Pauline theme of “to the Jew first” and on the centrality of the Jewish people in biblical eschatology. They form “Jewish mission societies.”

(2) Late 1800’s and into the 1900’s: Hebrew Christian societies form and Christians of Jewish descent have conferences and discuss what it means to be a Christian who is Jewish. Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Christian, Holidays, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, Passover, The Cross | 2 Comments

The Lead Codices Aren’t … They Just Aren’t

They are not long lost texts that will redefine the meaning of Jesus’ death. They are not a find to rival the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is a chance they may turn out to be something quite significant — but we don’t know what.

I am on an email list in which I get to read the chatter of some excellent scholars, one of whom has been asked to look at some images from the lead codices. They could be from almost any period (even possibly from relatively modern times). They could even be forgeries. Continue reading

Posted in Archaeology, Bible, History | 6 Comments

Future Hope vs. Present Distress

Mark tells the story of Yeshua focused on future hope. Luke tells the story of Yeshua focused on present distress.

What I mean is this: in Mark’s gospel, we see the theme of the identity of the veiled Son of Man. He is much more than he appears to be. Those who remain close to him see this gradually more and more. The coming Son of Man (Yeshua in his Second Coming) will bring all of that future hope to reality. So Mark is apocalyptic (interested in showing how the Eternal breaks through into the Present).

In Luke’s gospel, the reality of a disciple-community spread throughout the empire dealing with the problems of an absent Lord and an unbelieving Roman populace, is more obviously in the background. So Luke emphasizes the present need for faith and the Spirit. While we wait, we are in distress and our gospel seems impossible to believe.

This difference (not contradiction) in emphasis was clarified for me this morning as I considered how Luke follows up the Sower parable with a series of illuminating stories. Continue reading

Posted in Faith, Yeshua, Yeshua In Context | Leave a comment

Not the God of Death, Part 2

As I said in Part 1: there are two things God won’t have near his sanctuary. One of them is sin. The other is death.

The meaning of “purification” in Leviticus is an interesting study. The classic scholar on the subject is Jacob Milgrom (of blessed memory, he died June 5, 2010). If you can afford it, if you are willing to learn to read some difficult material, his three volume commentary in the Anchor series on Leviticus is the set to have. Don’t be seduced by the one-volume commentary by Milgrom in the Continental series (Augsburg/Fortress). It is shortened so much, parts of it are, in my opinion, incomprehensible.

How do we know about this priestly Leviticus theology concerning death, impurity, and purification? What implications does it have for matters of death, faith, and even our understanding of redemption and Messiah? In this brief look at purification in the Torah, I will give a non-technical explanation. Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Death, Sacrifices and Purity | Leave a comment

Jewish Names in Yeshua’s Time

I wrote up a summary at the Yeshua in Context blog that many Messianic Jewish Musings readers will find interesting. What were the most popular names in Galilee and Judea in Yeshua’s time? Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses is a wealth of information about things related to the issue of eyewitness testimony in the gospels.

Before you jump over, take a guess whether the name Yeshua (Jesus) is on the top ten list of names for men or not and if so, which number on the list. Read and see if you are correct! Click here to read it at Yeshua in Context.

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Passover: A “Captivity and Freedom” Seder

As I have said in previous posts, it is good to: (1) cut the haggadah short in some way at your Passover Seders and (2) have multiple Seders during Passover week (or even some Seder-anticipation meals before, but without Passover matzah).

I will be having three Seders this year: one with my family on the first night, a congregational Seder the second night, and a “Meal of Messiah” Seder the seventh night (click here for the Meal of Messiah haggadah by Vine of David).

I promised to give some outlines for themed Seders. Here is the “Captivity and Freedom” Seder outline. I include a PDF file to use specifically with the Vine of David (Messianic) Haggadah (click here) and another PDF file to use with the Elie Wiesel Haggadah (click here). I outline what to include and some short scripts to explain the portions during the evening. This will shorten your Seder and liven it up with inspiration. Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, Passover | 2 Comments

Not the God of Death, Part 1

There are two things God won’t have near his sanctuary. One of them is sin. The other is death.

Ironically, the priestly and sanctuary laws of Leviticus have been slandered in church history as burdens given to an obstinate people to fill their lives with misery. The Epistle of Barnabas (not by Barnabas, of course), written somewhere around 100 CE, quotes every verse that can be taken to mean that the sacrificial system of Israel was not God’s true will and intention. “Barnabas” says, “He wants us to seek how we may approach him, rather than going astray like they did.” In 16:2 he criticizes the Temple service itself as being too similar to pagan worship in temples, saying, “For they, almost like the heathen, consecrated him by means of the Temple.” Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Death, Sacrifices and Purity | 1 Comment

Yeshua in Context PODCAST: Jewish Jesus

Listen here (or subscribe to “Yeshua in Context” on iTunes). Read the transcript here.

Some see him as the “first Christian.” That is an interesting way of putting it. No one, as far as I know, actually uses that terminology. But it is between the lines of much, maybe most, writing about Jesus. The really bad stuff, the all-too-common rhetoric that makes us wince, is the Pharisees-as-Judaism and Jesus-as-the-first-Christian approach.

Why doesn’t the average church and the average pastor present a fuller picture of who Jesus was and is? Why aren’t the gospels read and taken seriously?

I discuss in this podcast some of my own experience. In late 1987, I had just decided that God is real. I had accepted as true the story of Jesus on the cross and Jesus risen from the dead. But the next eye-opener for me was the idea of a Jewish Jesus. I couldn’t let the idea go, even when a local megachurch encouraged me to forget about it and blend in. Maybe you have had a similar experience yourself.

…JUNE 5, 2011 “Eyewitnesses in the Gospels,” a seminar in Atlanta. Email me at yeshuaincontext at gmail if you would like info about coming.
…More “Yeshua in Context” resources are coming out this year. Stay tuned.

Posted in Yeshua In Context | 1 Comment . . . Pre-Announcement

Something new this way comes. It will arrive in April. And Messianic Jewish Musings will be moving there.

But the old posts and images and links will all still be here. You won’t have to change any links you currently maintain to It will simply happen that new content after a certain date in April will post to

There will be other content at, including some News & Views about Messianic Jewish issues, a new blog by Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann (the Dour Man), and a fan favorite, Rabbi Joshua Brumbach’s Yinon blog will be moving over to the new site.

Posted in Derek's Writings | Leave a comment

Liturgy, Some Scattered Thoughts

My experience last Sunday at an Episcopal church near Memphis has me thinking about liturgy. I did not grow up in either a Christian or a Jewish context. In my faith journey, I came to a Southern Baptist church as a college student and formed some of my first opinions about worship there. It took me years to un-learn the anti-tradition, anti-liturgy attitudes that were ingrained in that evangelical and Baptist megachurch.

It is well-known and has been much discussed that Messianic Judaism formed in the 70’s largely out of evangelical and charismatic Christian backgrounds and that the Jewish experience of many leaders was very limited. It was, and for some I guess still is, controversial for a Messianic congregation to follow the traditions of worship. So, in the early days of Tikvat David here in Atlanta, I went not to other Messianic congregations, but to some mainstream synagogues (Orthodox, actually) to learn what worship is about.

What follows are a few scattered thoughts about liturgy and Messianic Judaism. What are the advantages of liturgy vs. spontaneity? Is there such a thing as a traditional and mainstream Christian liturgy and, if so, how does it compare to the Jewish one? And I will round it out with a brief story about the value of keeping the level high instead of catering to the lowest level of expectation. Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Worship | 2 Comments

Communion Under the Anglo Jesus

God has friends and servants in all kinds of places. The face of Messiah looks different and yet the same.

I’ve had a number of encounters with beautiful people and communities on the road recently. Humble shepherds, selfless servants, devoted congregations. I’ve seen enough good to encourage me that power, domination, and ego are not the last word in contemporary religion. If Thoreau said, and we can all relate, that the “mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” I can say that many unknown people lead lives of quiet sanctification.

I met many of these over the weekend. I gave a whole day of lectures at an Episcopal church near Memphis, Tennessee. They asked me to give five lectures and the times for these five lectures did not include the main morning service. So I got to be a participant, with no responsibilities. It was my first Episcopal service. Continue reading

Posted in Christian, Faith | 34 Comments