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