I do apologize for my long absence. However, now that I am back, I’m eager to talk about some things.
Some time ago I quit taking direct comments on this blog. I still think that is the best policy. For a while this blog was a bona-fide part time job (minus the salary!). And I work seven days a week already (since I am a rabbi and teach on Saturday morning and evening, while speaking in churches on Sunday mornings and evenings, you get the idea).
But now I want to start a discussion. I want to talk about some issues surrounding the Complete Jewish Bible (see more below).
To participate in the discussion, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
I will be posting some of the responses in future posts and I hope we can get a great discussion going here.
If you’ve never seen The Complete Jewish Bible, you owe it to yourself to get one. I recommend the hardcover edition. Get it at www.messianicjewish.net (*Note: for some reason the www is necessary with this site, though it usually isn’t with most websites — can anyone tell me why this is so?).
The Complete Jewish Bible is the work of Dr. David Stern, a Messianic Jewish patriarch living in Israel. I have had the privilege of meeting Dr. Stern at a few conferences, especially the Hashivenu forums in L.A. (hashivenu.org). He is a complete mensch (a fine human being).
One of my earliest experiences with Dr. Stern happened about three years ago at a Hashivenu forum. We were about eighty or so Messianic Jewish leaders and thinkers gathered in a crowded room at the Fuller Seminary in Pasadena. We were all arguing and debating about some theological topic (I don’t remember what the topic was). People were talking over one another and the volume in the room was increasing.
Then, Dr. Stern stood up, with the aid of a cane. He began to speak softly. While everyone else was trying to interrupt and talk louder than the others in the room, Dr. Stern simply spoke softly and slowly. And the room gradually grew silent. Out of respect, this room full of academics and leaders all grew silent. Everyone wanted to hear what Dr. Stern had to say. He wasn’t one who tried to talk often and was, in fact, quite sparing with his words. But I remember being awed by the respect in the room, full of people who could barely agree what time it was, much less about theology. Yet all were in agreement that this man was worth listening to.
More recently, I was at a banquet in honor Dr. Stern and his wife, Martha. The banquet was part of a night dedicated to the David Harold Stern center being opened in L.A.. The Stern Center is part of the upcoming work of the Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (mjti.org), the first real Messianic Jewish seminary and a sign of real hope for the future of our movement.
Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann, another patriarch I admire, stood to say some words about Dr. Stern. The bottom line of Rabbi Dauermann’s tribute was that Dr. Stern was saying things back in the ’70’s and ’80’s about Messianic Judaism that no one else was saying. Dr. Stern anticipated by several decades the emerging direction of the Messianic Jewish movement in his book The Messianic Jewish Manifesto.
It’s true. Dr. Stern saw then what few could see and what still many of the old-school leaders in Messianic Judaism cannot see. Messianic Judaism is a Judaism. It is not Judaism plus Christianity or vice versa. It is not a blended religion. It is a Judaism that finds Yeshua at the center, not merely because we decided to place him there, but because he had been there all along, hidden within the developing tradition by the superintending hand of God.
All of that was a preface to what I am now going to say and the discussion I would like to get started…
The Complete Jewish Bible is perhaps the greatest unifying factor in our movement. The Complete Jewish Bible is the least controversial and perhaps the most useful tool produced yet by the Messianic Jewish movement. In a future post, I’ll talk about the history of The Complete Jewish Bible. But for now, I want to quote a portion of Dr. Stern’s introduction and raise a few points for discussion:
Why is this Bible different from all other Bibles? Because it is the only English version of the Bible fully Jewish in style and presentation and includes both the Tanakh (“Old Testament”) and B’rit Hadashah (New Covenant, “New Testament”). Even its title, The Complete Jewish Bible, challenges both Jews and Christians to see that the whole Bible is Jewish, the B’rit Hadashah as well as the Tanakh. Jews are challenged by the implication that without it the Tanakh is and incomplete Bible. Christians are challenged with the fact that they are joined to the Jewish people through faith in the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) — so that because Christianity can only be rightly understood from a Jewish perspective, anti-Semitism is condemned absolutely and forever. In short, The Complete Jewish Bible restores the Jewish unity of the Bible.
In my opinion, that is one of the finest statements on the Bible and the relationship between Jews and Christians that I have read . . . anywhere.
So here are some questions for discussion:
1. How do you feel about Dr. Stern’s statement? Do you disagree with or have a question about any part of it? Do you have anything to add in support of what he is saying?
2. What has The Complete Jewish Bible meant to you as a reader? How has it helped you?
3. Are there any readings from the Complete Jewish Bible that you are especially fond of?
Let the discussion begin!