I restore the crushed sprit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. Isaiah 57:15
The Cover Illustration
This month the cover illustration is from the Book of Tobit. This book is part of the Apocryphal Books found in the Roman Catholic editions of the Old Testament. In it Tobit buries the dead who were refused a proper burial. This is considered a virtuous act. This reminds us of the actions of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemas in burying the Lord Jesus Christ during the Paschal Season. Several copies of the Book of Tobit were discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were in Aramaic-which probably was the original language of the Book of Tobit. I doubt it is inspired-but I found it to be a delightful little book and I would recommend it.
IMPORTANT ARCHEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY MADE
In a cave in Jordan near Israel, a collection of small lead codices (books) were discovered. The metal pages are the size of a credit card. They are inscribed in Hebrew (but in a type of code) and have decorations of Christian and Jewish symbols-menorahs and crosses. Based on the corrosion of the metal-they are being dated to the first century. This means it is likely that these documents were held in the hands of the apostles of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 2 is an interesting Messianic Psalm. It says "Kiss the Son" referring to the messiah. As Christians we hold the Messiah to be the Son of God. The interesting thing is that although this song is written in Hebrew, the Aramaic word for son "bar" is used. In Aramaic Jesus often called himself "Barnasha" meaning the Son of Man. (This Psalm includes the words that were spoken by the heavenly voice at the baptism of Jesus, "Thou art my beloved son…" Here in this Psalm, we see the divinity of Jesus. "Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angey, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled and blessed are all who take refuge in him." It is possible that the He and Him of this verse refer to the Lord-but the Lord is Jesus, the son of God who is Yahweh. In Isaiah 40:3 we have "A voice cries in the wilderness prepare the way of Yahweh, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." Of course John the Baptist did this-he prepared the way for Jesus-who is Yahweh incarnate. In Zechariah 10:12, Yahweh says, "they shall look upon me whom they have pierced." John says that this verse was fulfilled when people looked upon Jesus upon the cross (John 19:37).
Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis was an early Church Father who operated around 150. He traveled to the Holy Land and studied the Old Testament with Jewish leaders. He advocated the use of the shorter standard Jewish canon of scripture (without the apocrypha). He wrote a sermon that has been described as the early "Christian Passover Seder." This sermon is entitled Peri Pascha and has survived. In it he stresses the links between the Last Supper and Atonement and the Passover Haggadah and the Exodus story. In his sermon he strongly condemns the Jewish leaders who rejected Jesus. But looking at his life-it is obvious that he wasn't anti-Semitic. I have included the Passover Sermon by Melito of Sardis in my blog and will look into it more indepth in next months newsletter.
Here is the text of the Paschal Sermon of Bishop Melito of Sardis:
On the Passover
MELITO OF SARDIS
1. First of all, the Scripture about the Hebrew Exodus has been read and the words of the mystery have been explained as to how the sheep was sacrificed and the people were saved.
2. Therefore, understand this, O beloved: The mystery of the passover is new and old, eternal and temporal, corruptible and incorruptible, mortal and immortal in this fashion:
3. It is old insofar as it concerns the law, but new insofar as it concerns the gospel; temporal insofar as it concerns the type, eternal because of grace; corruptible because of the sacrifice of the sheep, incorruptible because of the life of the Lord; mortal because of his burial in the earth, immortal because of his resurrection from the dead.
4. The law is old, but the gospel is new; the type was for a time, but grace is forever. The sheep was corruptible, but the Lord is incorruptible, who was crushed as a lamb, but who was resurrected as God. For although he was led to sacrifice as a sheep, yet he was not a sheep; and although he was as a lamb without voice, yet indeed he was not a lamb. The one was the model; the other was found to be the finished product.
5. For God replaced the lamb, and a man the sheep; but in the man was Christ, who contains all things.
6. Hence, the sacrifice of the sheep, and the sending of the lamb to slaughter, and the writing of the law–each led to and issued in Christ, for whose sake everything happened in the ancient law, and even more so in the new gospel.
7. For indeed the law issued in the gospel–the old in the new, both coming forth together from Zion and Jerusalem; and the commandment issued in grace, and the type in the finished product, and the lamb in the Son, and the sheep in a man, and the man in God.
8. For the one who was born as Son, and led to slaughter as a lamb, and sacrificed as a sheep, and buried as a man, rose up from the dead as God, since he is by nature both God and man.
9. He is everything: in that he judges he is law, in that he teaches he is gospel, in that he saves he is grace, in that he begets he is Father, in that he is begotten he is Son, in that he suffers he is sheep, in that he is buried he is man, in that he comes to life again he is God.
10. Such is Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever. Amen.
I. The Meaning of the OT Passover (11-71)
A. The Biblical Setting–Exodus 12:11-30 (11-15)
11. Now comes the mystery of the passover, even as it stands written in the law, just as it has been read aloud only moments ago. But I will clearly set forth the significance of the words of this Scripture, showing how God commanded Moses in Egypt, when he had made his decision, to bind Pharaoh under the lash, but to release Israel from the lash through the hand of Moses.
12. For see to it, he says, that you take a flawless and perfect lamb, and that you sacrifice it in the evening with the sons of Israel, and that you eat it at night, and in haste. You are not to break any of its bones.
13. You will do it like this, he says: In a single night you will eat it by families and by tribes, your loins girded, and your staves in your hands. For this is the Lord's passover, an eternal reminder for the sons of Israel.
14. Then take the blood of the sheep, and anoint the front door of your houses by placing upon the posts of your entrance-way the sign of the blood, in order to ward off the angel. For behold I will strike Egypt, and in a single night she will be made childless from beast to man.
15. Then, when Moses sacrificed the sheep and completed the mystery at night together with the sons of Israel, he sealed the doors of their houses in order to protect the people and to ward off the angel.
B. Egypt's Calamities (16-29)
16. But when the sheep was sacrificed, and the passover consumed, and the mystery completed, and the people made glad, and Israel sealed, then the angel arrived to strike Egypt, who was neither initiated into the mystery, participant of the passover, sealed by the blood, nor protected by the Spirit, but who was the enemy and the unbeliever.
17. In a single night the angel struck and made Egypt childless. For when the angel had encompassed Israel, and had seen her sealed with the blood of the sheep, he advanced against Egypt, and by means of grief subdued the stubborn Pharaoh, clothing him, not with a cloak of mourning, nor with a torn mantle, but with all of Egypt, torn, and mourning for her firstborn.
18. For all Egypt, plunged in troubles and calamities, in tears and lamentations, came to Pharaoh in utter sadness, not in appearance only, but also in soul, having torn not only her garments but her tender breasts as well.
19. Indeed it was possible to observe an extraordinary sight: in one place people beating their breasts, in another those wailing, and in the middle of them Pharaoh, mourning, sitting in sackcloth and cinders, shrouded in thick darkness as in a funeral garment, girded with all Egypt as with a tunic of grief.
20. For Egypt clothed Pharaoh as a cloak of wailing. Such was the mantle that had been woven for his royal body. With just such a cloak did the angel of righteousness clothe the self-willed Pharaoh: with bitter mournfulness, and with thick darkness, and with childlessness. For that angel warred against the firstborn of Egypt. Indeed, swift and insatiate was the death of the firstborn.
21. And an unusual monument of defeat, set up over those who had fallen dead in a moment, could be seen. For the defeat of those who lay dead became the provisions of death.
22. If you listen to the narration of this extraordinary event you will be astonished. For these things befell the Egyptians: a long night, and darkness which was touchable, and death which touched, and an angel who oppressed, and Hades which devoured their firstborn.
23. But you must listen to something still more extraordinary and terrifying: in the darkness which could be touched was hidden death which could not be touched. And the ill-starred Egyptians touched the darkness, while death, on the watch, touched the firstborn of the Egyptians as the angel had commanded.
24. Therefore, if anyone touched the darkness he was led out by death. Indeed one firstborn, touching a dark body with his hand, and utterly frightened in his soul, cried aloud in misery and in terror: What has my right hand laid hold of? At what does my soul tremble? Who cloaks my whole body with darkness? If you are my father, help me; if my mother, feel sympathy for me; if my brother, speak to me; if my friend, sit with me; if my enemy, go away from me since I am a firstborn son!
25. And before the firstborn was silent, the long silence held him in its power, saying: You are mine, O firstborn! I, the silence of death, am your destiny.
26. And another firstborn, taking note of the capture of the firstborn, denied his identity, so that he might not die a bitter death: I am not a firstborn son; I was born like a third child. But he who could not be deceived touched that firstborn, and he fell forward in silence. In a single moment the firstborn fruit of the Egyptians was destroyed. The one first conceived, the one first born, the one sought after, the one chosen was dashed to the ground; not only that of men but that of irrational animals as well.
27. A lowing was heard in the fields of the earth, of cattle bellowing for their nurslings, a cow standing over her calf, and a mare over her colt. And the rest of the cattle, having just given birth to their offspring and swollen with milk, were lamenting bitterly and piteously for their firstborn.
28. And there was a wailing and lamentation because of the destruction of the men, because of the destruction of the firstborn who were dead. And all Egypt stank, because of the unburied bodies.
29. Indeed one could see a frightful spectacle: of the Egyptians there were mothers with dishevelled hair, and fathers who had lost their minds, wailing aloud in terrifying fashion in the Egyptian tongue: O wretched persons that we are! We have lost our firstborn in a single moment! And they were striking their breasts with their hands, beating time in hammerlike fashion to the dance for their dead.
C. Israel's Safety (30-33)
30. Such was the misfortune which encompassed Egypt. In an instant it made her childless. But Israel, all the while, was being protected by the sacrifice of the sheep and truly was being illumined by its blood which was shed; for the death of the sheep was found to be a rampart for the people.
31. O inexpressible mystery! the sacrifice of the sheep was found to be the salvation of the people, and the death of the sheep became the life of the people. For its blood warded off the angel.
32. Tell me, O angel, At what were you turned away? At the sacrifice of the sheep, or the life of the Lord? At the death of the sheep, or the type of the Lord? At the blood of the sheep, or the Spirit of the Lord? Clearly, you were turned away
33. because you saw the mystery of the Lord taking place in the sheep, the life of the Lord in the sacrifice of the sheep, the type of the Lord in the death of the sheep. For this reason you did not strike Israel, but it was Egypt alone that you made childless.
D. Model versus Finished Product (34-38)
34. What was this extraordinary mystery? It was Egypt struck to destruction but Israel kept for salvation. Listen to the meaning of this mystery:
35. Beloved, no speech or event takes place without a pattern or design; every event and speech involves a pattern–that which is spoken, a pattern, and that which happens, a prefiguration–in order that as the event is disclosed through the prefiguration, so also the speech may be brought to expression through its outline.
36. Without the model, no work of art arises. Is not that which is to come into existence seen through the model which typifies it? For this reason a pattern of that which is to be is made either out of wax, or out of clay, or out of wood, in order that by the smallness of the model, destined to be destroyed, might be seen that thing which is to arise from it–higher than it in size, and mightier than it in power, and more beautiful than it in appearance, and more elaborate than it in ornamentation.
37. So whenever the thing arises for which the model was made, then that which carried the image of that future thing is destroyed as no longer of use, since it has transmitted its resemblance to that which is by nature true. Therefore, that which once was valuable, is now without value because that which is truly valuable has appeared.
38. For each thing has its own time: there is a distinct time for the type, there is a distinct time for the material, and there is a distinct time for the truth. You construct the model. You want this, because you see in it the image of the future work. You procure the material for the model. You want this, on account of that which is going to arise because of it. You complete the work and cherish it alone, for only in it do you see both type and the truth.
E. Relationship Between OT and NT (39-45)
39. Therefore, if it was like this with models of perishable objects, so indeed will it also be with those of imperishable objects. If it was like this with earthly things, so indeed also will it be with heavenly things. For even the Lord's salvation and his truth were prefigured in the people, and the teaching of the gospel was proclaimed in advance by the law.
40. The people, therefore, became the model for the church, and the law a parabolic sketch. But the gospel became the explanation of the law and its fulfillment, while the church became the storehouse of truth.
41. Therefore, the type had value prior to its realization, and the parable was wonderful prior to its interpretation. This is to say that the people had value before the church came on the scene, and the law was wonderful before the gospel was brought to light.
42. But when the church came on the scene, and the gospel was set forth, the type lost its value by surrendering its significance to the truth, and the law was fulfilled by surrendering its significance to the gospel. Just as the type lost its significance by surrendering its image to that which is true by nature, and as the parable lost its significance by being illumined through the interpretation,
43. so indeed also the law was fulfilled when the gospel was brought to light, and the people lost their significance when the church came on the scene, and the type was destroyed when the Lord appeared. Therefore, those things which once had value are today without value, because the things which have true value have appeared.
44. For at one time the sacrifice to the sheep was valuable, but now it is without value because of the life of the Lord. The death of the sheep once was valuable, but now it is without value because of the salvation of the Lord. The blood of the sheep once was valuable, but now it is without value because of the Spirit of the Lord. The silent lamb once was valuable, but now it has no value because of the blameless Son. The temple here below once was valuable, but now it is without value because of the Christ from above.
45. The Jerusalem here below once had value, but now it is without value because of the Jerusalem from above. The meager inheritance once had value; now it is without value because of the abundant grace. For not in one place alone, nor yet in narrow confines, has the glory of God been established, but his grace has been poured out upon the uttermost parts of the inhabited world, and there the almighty God has taken up his dwelling place through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen.
F. Components of the Mystery of the Passover (46-71)
1. The Passover (46-47a)
46. Now that you have heard the explanation of the type and of that which corresponds to it, hear also what goes into making up the mystery. What is the passover? Indeed its name is derived from that event–"to celebrate the passover" (to paschein) is derived from "to suffer" (tou pathein). Therefore, learn who the sufferer is and who he is who suffers along with the sufferer.
47. Why indeed was the Lord present upon the earth? In order that having clothed himself with the one who suffers, he might lift him up to the heights of heaven.
2. The Creation and Fall of Man (47b-48)
In the beginning, when God made heaven and earth, and everything in them through his word, he himself formed man from the earth and shared with that form his own breath, he himself placed him in paradise, which was eastward in Eden, and there they lived most luxuriously.
Then by way of command God gave them this law: For your food you may eat from any tree, but you are not to eat from the tree of the one who knows good and evil. For on the day you eat from it, you most certainly will die.
48. But man, who is by nature capable of receiving good and evil as soil of the earth is capable of receiving seeds from both sides, welcomed the hostile and greedy counselor, and by having touched that tree transgressed the command, and disobeyed God. As a consequence, he was cast out into this world as a condemned man is cast into prison.
3. Consequences of the Fall (49-56)
49. And when he had fathered many children, and had grown very old, and had returned to the earth through having tasted of the tree, an inheritance was left behind by him for his children. Indeed, he left his children an inheritance–not of chastity but of unchastity, not of immortality but of corruptibility, not of honor but of dishonor, not of freedom but of slavery, not of sovereignty but of tyranny, not of life but of death, not of salvation but of destruction.
50. Extraordinary and terrifying indeed was the destruction of men upon the earth. For the following things happened to them: They were carried off as slaves by sin, the tyrant, and were led away into the regions of desire where they were totally engulfed by insatiable sensual pleasures–by adultery, by unchastity, by debauchery, by inordinate desires, by avarice, by murders, by bloodshed, by the tyranny of wickedness, by the tyranny of lawlessness.
51. For even a father of his own accord lifted up a dagger against his son; and a son used his hands against his father; and the impious person smote the breasts that nourished him; and brother murdered brother; and host wronged his guest; and friend assassinated friend; and one man cut the throat of another with his tyrannous right hand.
52. Therefore all men on the earth became either murderers, or parricides, or killers of their children. And yet a thing still more dreadful and extraordinary was to be found: A mother attacked the flesh which she gave birth to, a mother attacked those whom her breasts had nourished; and she buried in her belly the fruit of her belly. Indeed, the ill-starred mother became a dreadful tomb, when she devoured the child which she bore in her womb.
53. But in addition to this there were to be found among men many things still more monstrous and terrifying and brutal: father cohabits with his child, and son and with his mother, and brother with sister, and male with male, and each man lusting after the wife of his neighbor.
54. Because of these things sin exulted, which, because it was death's collaborator, entered first into the souls of men, and prepared as food for him the bodies of the dead. In every soul sin left its mark, and those in whom it placed its mark were destined to die.
55. Therefore, all flesh fell under the power of sin, and every body under the dominion of death, for every soul was driven out from its house of flesh. Indeed, that which had been taken from the earth was dissolved again into earth, and that which had been given from God was locked up in Hades. And that beautiful ordered arrangement was dissolved, when the beautiful body was separated (from the soul).
56. Yes, man was divided up into parts by death. Yes, an extraordinary misfortune and captivity enveloped him: he was dragged away captive under the shadow of death, and the image of the Father remained there desolate. For this reason, therefore, the mystery of the passover has been completed in the body of the Lord.
4. Predictions of Christ's Sufferings (57-65)
57. Indeed, the Lord prearranged his own sufferings in the patriarchs, and in the prophets, and in the whole people of God, giving his sanction to them through the law and the prophets. For that which was to exist in a new and grandiose fashion was pre-planned long in advance, in order that when it should come into existence one might attain to faith, just because it had been predicted long in advance.
58. So indeed also the suffering of the Lord, predicted long in advance by means of types, but seen today, has brought about faith, just because it has taken place as predicted. And yet men have taken it as something completely new. Well, the truth of the matter is the mystery of the Lord is both old and new–old insofar as it involved the type, but new insofar as it concerns grace. And what is more, if you pay close attention to this type you will see the real thing through its fulfillment.
59. Accordingly, if you desire to see the mystery of the Lord, pay close attention to Abel who likewise was put to death, to Isaac who likewise was bound hand and foot, to Joseph who likewise was sold, to Moses who likewise was exposed, to David who likewise was hunted down, to the prophets who likewise suffered because they were the Lord's anointed.
60. Pay close attention also to the one who was sacrificed as a sheep in the land of Egypt, to the one who smote Egypt and who saved Israel by his blood.
61. For it was through the voice of prophecy that the mystery of the Lord was proclaimed. Moses, indeed, said to his people: Surely you will see your life suspended before your eyes night and day, but you surely will not believe on your Life. Deut. 28:66.
62. And David said: Why were the nations haughty and the people concerned about nothing? The kings of the earth presented themselves and the princes assembled themselves together against the Lord and against his anointed. Ps. 2:1-2.
63. And Jeremiah: I am as an innocent lamb being led away to be sacrificed. They plotted evil against me and said: Come! let us throw him a tree for his food, and let us exterminate him from the land of the living, so that his name will never be recalled. Jer. 11:19.
64. And Isaiah: He was led as a sheep to slaughter, and, as a lamb is silent in the presence of the one who shears it, he did not open his mouth. Therefore who will tell his offspring? Isa. 53:7
65. And indeed there were many other things proclaimed by numerous prophets concerning the mystery of the passover, which is Christ, to whom be the glory forever. Amen.
5. Deliverance of Mankind through Christ (66-71)
66. When this one came from heaven to earth for the sake of the one who suffers, and had clothed himself with that very one through the womb of a virgin, and having come forth as man, he accepted the sufferings of the sufferer through his body which was capable of suffering. And he destroyed those human sufferings by his spirit which was incapable of dying. He killed death which had put man to death.
67. For this one, who was led away as a lamb, and who was sacrificed as a sheep, by himself delivered us from servitude to the world as from the land of Egypt, and released us from bondage to the devil as from the hand of Pharaoh, and sealed our souls by his own spirit and the members of our bodies by his own blood.
68. This is the one who covered death with shame and who plunged the devil into mourning as Moses did Pharaoh. This is the one who smote lawlessness and deprived injustice of its offspring, as Moses deprived Egypt. This is the one who delivered us from slavery into freedom, from darkness into light, from death into life, from tyranny into an eternal kingdom, and who made us a new priesthood, and a special people forever.
69. This one is the passover of our salvation. This is the one who patiently endured many things in many people: This is the one who was murdered in Abel, and bound as a sacrifice in Isaac, and exiled in Jacob, and sold in Joseph, and exposed in Moses, and sacrificed in the lamb, and hunted down in David, and dishonored in the prophets.
70. This is the one who became human in a virgin, who was hanged on the tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from among the dead, and who raised mankind up out of the grave below to the heights of heaven.
71. This is the lamb that was slain. This is the lamb that was silent. This is the one who was born of Mary, that beautiful ewe-lamb. This is the one who was taken from the flock, and was dragged to sacrifice, and was killed in the evening, and was buried at night; the one who was not broken while on the tree, who did not see dissolution while in the earth, who rose up from the dead, and who raised up mankind from the grave below.
II. The Death of Christ and Israel's Sin (72-99)
A. Place and Cause of Christ's Death (72-86)
72. This one was murdered. And where was he murdered? In the very center of Jerusalem! Why? Because he had healed their lame, and had cleansed their lepers, and had guided their blind with light, and had raised up their dead. For this reason he suffered. Somewhere it has been written in the law and prophets,
"They paid me back evil for good, and my soul with barrenness Ps. 34:12
plotting evil against me Ps. 34:4; 40:8
saying, Let us bind this just man because he is troublesome to us." Isa. 3:10 (LXX).
73. Why, O Israel did you do this strange injustice? You dishonored the one who had honored you. You held in contempt the one who held you in esteem. You denied the one who publicly acknowledged you. You renounced the one who proclaimed you his own. You killed the one who made you to live. Why did you do this, O Israel?
74. Hast it not been written for your benefit: "Do not shed innocent blood lest you die a terrible death"? Nevertheless, Israel admits, I killed the Lord! Why? Because it was necessary for him to die. You have deceived yourself, O Israel, rationalizing thus about the death of the Lord.
75. It was necessary for him to suffer, yes, but not by you; it was necessary for him to be dishonored, but not by you; it was necessary for him to be judged, but not by you; it was necessary for him to be crucified, but not by you, nor by your right hand.
76. O Israel! You ought to have cried aloud to God with this voice: "O Lord, if it was necessary for your Son to suffer, and if this was your will, let him suffer indeed, but not at my hands. Let him suffer at the hands of strangers. Let him be judged by the uncircumcised. Let him be crucified by the tyrannical right hand, but not by mine."
77. But you, O Israel, did not cry out to God with this voice, nor did you absolve yourself of guilt before the Lord, nor were you persuaded by his works.
78. The withered hand which was restored whole to its body did not persuade you; nor did the eyes of the blind which were opened by his hand; nor did the paralyzed bodies restored to health again through his voice; nor did that most extraordinary miracle persuade you, namely, the dead man raised to life from the tomb where already he had been lying for four days. Indeed, dismissing these things, you, to your detriment, prepared the following for the sacrifice of the Lord at eventide: sharp nails, and false witnesses, and fetters, and scourges,
79. and vinegar, and gall, and a sword, and affliction, and all as though it were for a blood-stained robber. For you brought to him scourges for his body, and the thorns for his head. And you bound those beautiful hands of his, which had formed you from the earth. And that beautiful mouth of his, which had nourished you with life, you filled with gall. And you killed your Lord at the time of the great feast.
80. Surely you were filled with gaiety, but he was filled with hunger; you drank wine and ate bread, but he vinegar and gall; you wore a happy smile, but he had a sad countenance; you were full of joy, but he was full of trouble; you sang songs, but he was judged; you issued the command, he was crucified; you danced, he was buried; you lay down on a soft bed, but he in a tomb and coffin.
81. O lawless Israel, why did you commit this extraordinary crime of casting your Lord into new sufferings–your master, the one who formed you, the one who made you, the one who honored you, the one who called you Israel?
82. But you were found not really to be Israel, for you did not see God, you did not recognize the Lord, you did not know, O Israel, that this one was the firstborn of God, the one who was begotten before the morning star, the one who caused the light to shine forth, the one who made bright the day, the one who parted the darkness, the one who established the primordial starting point, the one who suspended the earth, the one who quenched the abyss, the one who stretched out the firmament, the one who formed the universe,
83. the one who set in motion the stars of heaven, the one who caused those luminaries to shine, the one who made the angels in heaven, the one who established their thrones in that place, the one who by himself fashioned man upon the earth. This was the one who chose you, the one who guided you from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Isaac and Jacob and the Twelve Patriarchs.
84. This was the one who guided you into Egypt, and guarded you, and himself kept you well supplied there. This was the one who lighted your route with a column of fire, and provided shade for you by means of a cloud, the one who divided the Red Sea, and led you across it, and scattered your enemy abroad.
85. This is the one who provided you with manna from heaven, the one who gave you water to drink from a rock, the one who established your laws in Horeb, the one who gave you an inheritance in the land, the one who sent out his prophets to you, the one who raised up your kings.
86. This is the one who came to you, the one who healed your suffering ones and who resurrected your dead. This is the one whom you sinned against. This is the one whom you wronged. This is the one whom you killed. This is the one whom you sold for silver, although you asked him for the didrachma.
B. Israel Brought to Trial (87-93)
87. O ungrateful Israel, come here and be judged before me for your ingratitude. How high a price did you place on being created by him? How high a price did you place on the discovery of your fathers? How high a price did you place on the descent into Egypt, and the provision made for you there through the noble Joseph?
88. How high a price did you place on the ten plagues? How high a price did you place on the nightly column of fire, and the daily cloud, and the crossing of the Red Sea? How high a price did you place on the gift of manna from heaven, and the gift of water from the rock, and the gift of law in Horeb, and the land as an inheritance, and the benefits accorded you there?
89. How high a price did you place on your suffering people whom he healed when he was present? Set me a price on the withered hand, which he restored whole to its body.
90. Put me a price on the men born blind, whom he led into light by his voice. Put me a price on those who lay dead, whom he raised up alive from the tomb. Inestimable are the benefits that come to you from him. But you, shamefully, have paid him back with ingratitude, returning to him evil for good, and affliction for favor and death for life–
91. a person for whom you should have died. Furthermore, if the king of some nation is captured by an enemy, a war is started because of him, fortifications are shattered because of him, cities are plundered because of him, ransom is sent because of him, ambassadors are commissioned because of him in order that he might be surrendered, so that either he might be returned if living, or that he might be buried if dead.
92. But you, quite to the contrary, voted against your Lord, whom indeed the nations worshipped, and the uncircumcised admired, and the foreigners glorified, over whom Pilate washed his hands. But as for you–you killed this one at the time of the great feast.
93. Therefore, the feast of unleavened bread has become bitter to you just as it was written: "You will eat unleavened bread with bitter herbs." Bitter to you are the nails which you made pointed. Bitter to you is the tongue which you sharpened. Bitter to you are the false witnesses whom you brought forward. Bitter to you are the fetters which you prepared. Bitter to you are the scourges which you wove. Bitter to you is Judas whom you furnished with pay. Bitter to you is Herod whom you followed. Bitter to you is Caiaphas whom you obeyed. Bitter to you is the gall which you made ready. Bitter to you is the vinegar which you produced. Bitter to you are the thorns which you plucked. Bitter to you are your hands which you bloodied, when you killed your Lord in the midst of Jerusalem.
C. Gentiles Are Witnesses of Israel's Crime (94-98)
94. Pay attention, all families of the nations, and observe! An extraordinary murder has taken place in the center of Jerusalem, in the city devoted to God's law, in the city of the Hebrews, in the city of the prophets, in the city thought of as just. And who has been murdered? And who is the murderer? I am ashamed to give the answer, but give it I must. For if this murder had taken place at night, or if he had been slain in a desert place, it would be well to keep silent; but it was in the middle of the main street, even in the center of the city, while all were looking on, that the unjust murder of this just person took place.
95. And thus he was lifted up upon the tree, and an inscription was affixed identifying the one who had been murdered. Who was he? It is painful to tell, but it is more dreadful not to tell. Therefore, hear and tremble because of him for whom the earth trembled.
96. The one who hung the earth in space, is himself hanged; the one who fixed the heavens in place, is himself impaled; the one who firmly fixed all things, is himself firmly fixed to the tree. The Lord is insulted, God has been murdered, the King of Israel has been destroyed by the right hand of Israel.
97. O frightful murder! O unheard of injustice! The Lord is disfigured and he is not deemed worthy of a cloak for his naked body, so that he might not be seen exposed. For this reason the stars turned and fled, and the day grew quite dark, in order to hide the naked person hanging on the tree, darkening not the body of the Lord, but the eyes of men.
98. Yes, even though the people did not tremble, the earth trembled instead; although the people were not afraid, the heavens grew frightened; although the people did not tear their garments, the angels tore theirs; although the people did not lament, the Lord thundered from heaven, and the most high uttered his voice.
D. Israel Questioned and Sentenced to Death (99)
99. Why was it like this, O Israel? You did not tremble for the Lord. You did not fear for the Lord. You did not lament for the Lord, yet you lamented for your firstborn. You did not tear your garments at the crucifixion of the Lord, yet you tore your garments for your own who were murdered. You forsook the Lord; you were not found by him. You dashed the Lord to the ground; you, too, were dashed to the ground, and lie quite dead.
III. The Final Triumph of Christ (100-105)
100. But he arose from the dead and mounted up to the heights of heaven. When the Lord had clothed himself with humanity, and had suffered for the sake of the sufferer, and had been bound for the sake of the imprisoned, and had been judged for the sake of the condemned, and buried for the sake of the one who was buried,
101. he rose up from the dead, and cried aloud with this voice: Who is he who contends with me? Let him stand in opposition to me. I set the condemned man free; I gave the dead man life; I raised up the one who had been entombed.
102. Who is my opponent? I, he says, am the Christ. I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven, I, he says, am the Christ.
This concludes the Paschal Sermon of Bishop Melito of Sardis.
So many Middle Eastern Christians are suffering and I feel so helpless. All I can do is write about it in my blog and newsletter and rant about it on my youtube. I remember the Kosovo war. Massacres of Middle Eastern Christians are ignored by the Liberal Media and the government but falsified claims of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia and then Kosovo were broadcasted. Lies. And our military became involved to further international Islamic interests. Why? Petro-dollars. The wealth of Saudi Arabia is immense and they put it to use. It is imperative that good people attempt to take on and take out the Liberal establishment. It is distressing to see the Assyrians suffer so much. Mr. Bush didn't speak out on their behalf. Pope Benedict did-and he publically rebuked Mr. Bush to his face for his allowing Assyrians to be massacred. Why didn't Mr. Bush act? He has Saudi connections and fears to offend them. Now, Mr. Obama is a Muslim appeaser. There is no way he is going to say or do anything. He did however, speak out on behalf of the Copts and Maronites-and mentioning them by name in his Cairo Speech in 2009 (which was awful). As bad as the Cairo Speech was, Obama is the only president I ever heard mention Middle Eastern Christians and condemn their persecution. (The crowd applauded when Mr. Obama made anti-Israel comments. When he mentioned Maronites and Copts there was a profound silence. (Copts are Egyptian Christians and Maronites are Aramaic Christians of Lebanon.)
Massacre in Israel
Palestinian militants raided and Israeli settlement. They entered into a home and killed all inside. There was a baby in a crib. They slit the infants neck. When the news of the slaughter got out, the Palestinians in the neighboring village celebrated. They honked their horns in jubilation and gave out candy. This was in March 2011. I think these people are very sick in the head. How could someone slit the throat of a baby? What kind of a monster would celebrate such a crime?
Good News in Syria
170 Syrians have died in recent weeks in demonstrations against the tyrannical government of Syria. I lived in Syria and I observed the government there. Syria is a beautiful country with an evil government. In the army we have a cadence, "Some say freedom is free, but it don't seem so to me. I say freedom is won through the barrel of a gun." I hope the Syrians continue to fight until they bring down the Awalite regime and establish freedom and liberty. By killing his own people Mr. Assad is sacrificing his legitimacy. (Or his perceived legitimacy-the man doesn't have legitimacy.) For years he has been making empty promises for reform and he hasn't delivered. Now he has a "commission" "studying" introducing human rights into Syria. Having a "study group" is a political strategy to make it appear that you are doing something about a serious issue that people want action on-when you are not. It's like-"What about introducing free elections and allowing the formation of political parties." The dictator says, "I am taking these issues very seriously, I have "study groups" working on it right now. Of course, the "study groups" never finish their research and people eventually forget about it-or their recommendations are shelved or never acted upon.
Interview Quote: Rick Santorum being interviewed by Christianity today:
Would you increase efforts to promote religious freedom?
Look at what's going on with the Copts in Egypt. The Copts are under attack almost on a regular basis, and the United States has said nothing. You have an ancient Chaldean community that's being wiped out in Iraq. It's unconscionable for us to usher in a new government, whether it's Egypt or whether it's Iraq, and allow this to occur to this minority in that country.
Clint Eastwood's last movie was entitled "Hereafter" and it is about the afterlife. I guess as Mr. Eastwood gets older he is pondering his own mortality. Recently, Rob Bell wrote a book entitled "Love Wins." What Mr. Bell is arguing basically is that everybody goes to heaven. Because of this non-orthodox ideology-this book and all of his other books have been pulled from the shelves of "Lifeway," one of the largest Christian bookstores. (Rob Bell is part of the so-called "Emergent Church" movement. He is actually a far leftist. I am very uncomfortable with the emergent church movement.) Actually, Christians have disagreed with what happens at death. Origin of Alexandria believed that hell is actually purgatory and that eventually everyone, including Satan himself, would be admitted into heaven. Seventh Day Adventists believe in "soul sleep." They believe that until the resurrection the soul isn't truly alive. This believe of the Adventists seems to be to be a reaction to spiritualism. In the late nineteenth century spiritualism was a huge movement. Even Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes got caught up in spiritualism. Basically, spiritualism is people having séances. Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in a literal "burning hell" either. They believe that eternal punishment is annihilation of being. Basically, this means you cease to exist. There have been new books published on both heaven and hell. A pastor wrote "90 minutes in Heaven" about how he went to heaven when he was involved in a horrific traffic accident. A layman wrote "23 minutes in Hell" about a vision he feels that God granted him in which he was shown hell. He also wrote a follow-up book in which he argues that hell does exist.
I feel like God is the ultimate judge and God is just and good. I don't damn souls to hell. God does. Everyone needs to be prepared to face God and He has provided a way of salvation through trusting in his son.
Another book recently came out entitled "Heaven is Real" in which a four year old little boy recounts his experiences of going to heaven. It seems that some of his experiences are genuine-however, he is just a little boy. After adults display an interest in his story-he may craft his story to meet the expectations of his parents. I am cautious. I feel he may have had a brief experience but his parents expanded it into a book.
Also, someone's experience of heaven is just that-their experience. It is like life-my life experience is unique to me. Everyone's life experience and probably afterlife experience will be different.
I was talking to a friend who had a unique spiritual experience. She describes heaven as a state of being. It isn't just a place. I believe that this world that we live in is as much of a spiritual place as heaven is-if we allow ourselves to be spiritually sensitive. This world is not hell. It is a beautiful wonderful place. I remember when I returned from Iraq and I had to have surgery. I was in bed and in agony. I reflected upon my life. All I have known is heartbreak and sorrow and then my body was in such terrible pain. What is the value of life? I decided that living is a miracle and a blessing-even if it is a life of suffering. I like to go outside and walk. I look at the trees and the sky and I see the beauty of God. As the Scriptures state, "The heavens declare the wonders of God and the earth his handiwork."
The Bible talks about "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" so it seems to me based on this and other verses in the New Testament that the Adventists are wrong-our souls exist after our deaths.
Of course I have been thinking about this a little more after the death of my friend. I went to the hospital to see her. She looked awful. She was on a breathing machine. I wept. I looked at her. She had blood splattered on her face. I washed the blood of with my tears. She was such a devoted friend and I felt that she was really already dead-just being kept "alive" with a machine. Thinking about her being in heaven is comforting. If heaven is a place of joy and comfort.
Peter King's Radical Islam in America hearings.
Last month Congressman Peter King held hearing about the radicalization of American Muslims. This subject should have been the subject of hearings twenty years ago. After the hearings were over the Democrats held hearings about how Muslims are put upon and mistreated in the United States by mean Americans. We need to start dealing seriously about this issue and stop playing games.
BIBLICAL ARCHEOLOGY REVIEW
Recently, BAR magazine has contained some very interesting articles. This month they have an article about ancient temples in Syria that have been discovered. The architectural plans and layouts for these temples match that of King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.
Many people are fascinated by the ancient Egyptians and yet find them mysterious, distant and alien. The ancient Egyptians had a great diversity of religious beliefs and a diversity of myths. To have a basic understanding of the ancient Egyptians it is necessary to know the Ennead. The Ennead is a group of nine gods worshiped at Heliopolis in ancient Egypt. (The word "Ennead" is derived from a Greek word meaning "nine.") The Ennead is composed of Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. The story of the Ennead is told in this book and it provides essential basic knowledge that will enable the reader to comprehend ancient Egyptian beliefs, culture, traditions and religious practices. The Ennead is one of the oldest stories in the world going back to around 2,500 years Before Christ. The Ennead is one of the most important myths from ancient Egypt. It is the story of King Osiris the Vindicated, the Beloved Enchantress Isis and Horus the Avenger. The story of the Ennead presents the Egyptian view of creation, the struggle between good and evil and the nature of the afterlife. I began working on this project when I was in Iraq in 2009 and 2010 serving as a chaplain in the United States Army. I had done a Bible study based upon my book on the life of Christ entitled Christ the Man. After completing the Bible study on the life of the Messiah, I wanted to begin a study on Moses. I wanted to explore the Egyptian cultural background to the Exodus story. According to the Bible, while the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, they worshiped the gods of Egypt (Joshua 24:14, Ezekiel 20:7-8). They had no knowledge of the name of God (Exodus 3:13-14, 6:2-3). God first revealed himself to the Israelites in Egypt through Moses (Exodus 4:30-31). In many places in the Bible it is stated that God (Yahweh or "Jehovah") first revealed himself to Israel when they were slaves in Egypt (1 Samuel 2:27, Ezekiel 20:5, Hosea 11:1, 12:9, 13:4). Archeologists have discovered a significant amount of evidence that proves that there was a large minority of Semitic people who lived in ancient Egypt. I believe the Hebrews were among this population of Semites in Egypt. Since there were so many Semites in Egypt, not only did these Semites worship the gods of Egypt (as the Bible says the Hebrews did) the Egyptians worshiped the gods of the Semites. Egyptians worshiped the Semitic gods Baal, Hauron and Reshep and the goddesses Anat, Astarte, Baalat and Qadesh. (Seth was often identified with the Semitic god Baal.) I believe that knowing about cultures and beliefs of biblical times deepens our understanding of the Scriptures.
I believe that the theme of the story of the Ennead is that love is stronger than death. We find a similar statement in the Bible:
Set me as seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm, for love is strong as death, and jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are the coals of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it, if a man would give all of the abundance of possessions for love, he would look upon all his possessions with utter contempt. Song of Solomon 8:6-7
(In the Hebrew the phrase "a most vehement flame" could also be translated as "the very flame of Yah" meaning the Lord God Yahweh.)
The Government Shutdown
The National Guard cancelled our military duty this weekend-probably this month-over the government shutdown. It is disgusting. It seems to me that Mr. Obama and the Democrats want to shut the government down so that they can exploit the shutdown for some political advantage. Something has to be done about our out of control debt and out of control spending so that we don't have a collapse that will end American dominance. I, and many other soldiers, need our drill pay. Please pray for our soldiers. The Democrats are planning to not pay our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have kids-some with children to feed-struggling to make ends meet while they are on the other side of the world facing hardships and facing death at the hands of our Muslim enemies and the Democrats don't want to pay them.
Here is the amazing thing: The Democrats were NOT going to pay our troops overseas-however-they were going to give millions of dollars to planned parenthood-the largest abortion provider in America. This was the issue that they were going to shut down the government over-tax payer funded abortion.
Back when America was a constitutional republic-certain states allowed abortion while others restricted it. Now we are a judicial oligarchy and the court forced abortion on all states. There is no controversy with the fact that human life begins at conception. I believe that the people, and not a court, should be allowed to decide if abortion should be legal or not. And if it must be legal-there is no reason tax payers should pay for a procedure that according to the polls-the majority of Americans oppose. Especially when America is bankrupt and on the verge of a financial collapse. Why should the people the forced to pay for a procedure they believe is the taking of a human life? It seems to me that Europeans don't value motherhood. This is why the native people of Europe are becoming extinct and are being replaced by Muslim immigrants and their population explosion. The early church was unanimously opposed to abortion. I have read the early church fathers.
Terry Jones and Dove International Outreach
Last month Pastor Terry Jones of "Dove International Outreach" which is a small church in Florida held a "Trail of the Koran." They brought out the problematic verses from the Koran and they condemned the Koran as "guilty." I think such a trail is a good thing. People need to know what the Koran teaches and what motivates Muslims to behave as they do. At the conclusion of the trial he burnt the Koran. About two weeks later, Afghans began massacring and be-heading people because they were offended by Dr. Jones's activities. People are blaming Dr. Jones for the violence. Just a few months ago, the Smithsonian hosted an exhibition of "homosexual" art. In the display there was a picture of Jesus Christ on the cross being eaten by fire ants. It was very offensive. Imagine if a devout Roman Catholic saw this "art" and was offended and then he found the proprietor of the museum and chopped off his head. Would be not hold the murderer guilty but instead blame others for provoking him? We must not allow Islam to be the privileged religion. Muslims must allow their religion to be questions-the way people question and challenge Christianity. Remember-who is a moderate Islam? There are 4 principles of moderate Islam:
- No Jihad-or any religious based violence at all
- No legislation of Islamic Shariah-it is merely a personal lifestyle choice-with absolutely no legal authority
- Christian minorities in Islamic countries are considered completely equal to Muslims in every way-and are free to publically profess their faith.
- Every Muslim has the right to leave Islam and to chose any religion-or no religion.
If a Muslim does not accept these four principles-they are not a Moderate-they are a dangerous fanatic. And we have the right to protects ourselves and our freedoms from such people.
The recent edition of "American Family Association" mentioned the new phenomenon of "Chrislam." This is Christian churches converting to Islam and forming a merger of the two religions. There churches have three books in their pews-the Bible, the hymnal and the "Holy" Koran.
How is the New Testament Different?
Certain Messianic teachers are saying that there is no difference between the Old and the New Testament. Now, I agree that both parts of the Bible are equally inspired. But no difference? Lets look and see.
Things the New Testament changed:
- No divorce for any reason whatsoever. Jesus said divorce should only be for infidelity
- In the Old Testament polygamy was permitted. It is discouraged in the New Testament
- No more killing people for sins-stoning for adultery, witchcraft ect.
- No more slavery
- No more animal sacrifices
- Jesus as high priest of Melchizedek replaced Levite priesthood
- "Avenger of the Blood" no longer allowed
- Father had absolute authority over life and death of children under the Old Testament
- Stoning-Jesus got rid of it (John 8)
- Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth abolished by Jesus in Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5-8)
Pentagon presses for extending mission in Iraq
We must keep at least 10,000 troops in Iraq. Look at the chaos in the region. Our soldiers there are bringing about a measure of stability and they are preventing Iran from increasing its influence in the region. It looks like this is what is going to happen. Pulling out all of our troops would be folly.
Stephen A. Missick PO Box 882, Shepherd TX 77371 www.youtube.com/aramaic12
The front cover of the newsletter is the Kaddish. This is an ancient Aramaic prayer that was used to conclude synagogue services. Now it is used as a prayer to be recited during periods of mourning. One of my closest friends died. She was 38 years old and a mother of six children. One of her children had passed away. So now I am saying the Kaddish for my friend as I mourn her lost.
On the cover we see the English-the Aramaic and the Aramaic text. There are obvious links between the Kaddish and the Lord's Prayer.
I recently have made two books available: Jesus the Poet and The Lord's Prayer in the original Aramaic. I have decided to include a portion from "Jesus the Poet" in this copy of the newsletter.
The King of Israel: Exploring the Hebraic Roots of the Messiah
I recently did an interview discussing the "Jewish" or Semitic Roots of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. Hopefully, the interview will soon be put online.
The Poetry of Jesus
King David is "the sweet psalmist of Israel" in the Bible (2 Samuel 23:1) but rarely do we think of Jesus "the Son of David" as a poet. But when we examine his words against their Semitic background we see that he clearly was. Jesus has many titles in the Bible, Messiah or Christ, Son of God, Son of Man, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Many scholars are on a "quest for the historical Jesus" and there are many novel ideas of who Jesus was. Some theorize that he was a magician, a revolutionary or an Essene. Many of these sensational new ideas, such as Jesus being the husband of Mary Magdalene, are absurd. One thing that all of these authors have overlooked is Jesus as a poet of the Hebrew tradition. In his proclamations Jesus used Hebrew poetic structures that are found in the Sacred Scriptures and other ancient Hebrew and Aramaic literature. Many people have read the Bible all of their lives totally ignorant of the poetic structures of many of the texts (especially in the prophets and the psalms). Knowing the structures helps us to read and understand the Bible better. Once the poetic structures are learned it becomes amazing to the reader how often they are used in the text and how obvious they are. Every serious reader of the Bible needs to know how Hebrew poetry works. Everyone who wants to intelligently read the Bible needs to understand certain basic facts about how it is written. One of these basic facts is Hebrew poetry. It isn't only used in certain obscure passages in the Old Testament, it is often used by Jesus the Christ. These are the most important words ever spoken by the person who lived the most important life ever lived.
How Hebrew Poetry Works
Hebrew is a fusional language meaning it is built with prefixes and suffixes. English is an analytic language, in some ways like Greek. However, both Hebrew and Greek are fusional languages. Hebrew used accents in poems 3x2, 3x3 and 4x2. Hebrew also uses a lot of word play. It doesn't rhyme well but used accents, usually three. So we have rhythm with a number of accents. Some basic forms we see in Hebrew poetry are;
- Rhythm-A three stress line (with variation).
- Wordplay-Sometimes near homonym (such as hear and here). In Hebrew poetry wordplay is a powerful element.
- Parallelism-Each line intensifies a basic image in the preceding line, or goes from general to specific and vice versa.
- Chiasm-An example would be "Hear O People, O People hear!"
- Antithesis-This is the use of opposites such as "Hear O heaven and give ear O earth!"
In parallelism the sacred authors often use was is called a merismus, this is a contrast of opposite extremes. An example would be contrasting the heavens and the earth as we see in Deuteronomy 32:1 ("Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; let the earth hear the words of my mouth."). Often in Hebrew poetry numbers have special significance. This is seen in Proverbs 6:16 which says "there are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him…" Other examples are Psalm 62:11, Micah 5:5.Amos 1:3 says, "For three transgressions of Damascus and for four I will not revoke the punishment…" It isn't necessary to compute the transgressions the importance of these numbers is their poetic significance. (This is also seen in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew. "14' is the numerical value of the name David, since in Hebrew and Aramaic letters can signify numbers.)
A structural device called a chiasm commonly appears in Hebrew poetry. In a chiasm, the parallel stitch reverses the order of units found in the initial stitch. If connected the parallel members form an X (in Greek the x-shaped letter is called a chi, hence "chiasm"). Two Old Testament examples include Psalm 2:9
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
Like a vessel of a potter Thou shalt crush them
This is also seen in Isaiah 40:3 (This serves an example to show that Hebrew poetry is not confined to the book of Psalms.)
(A) In the wilderness (B) prepare (C) the way (D) of Yahweh
(B) Make straight (A) in the desert (C) a highway (D) for our God.
A Chiasm is found in the introduction of the Gospel of John (John 1:1-18)
A. The Word with God (1.2)
B. His role in Creation (3)
C. Gift to Man (4,5)
D. The Witness of John the Baptist (6-8)
E. The Word enters the World (9-11)
F. The Children of God (12,13)
E. The Incarnation (14)
D. The Witness of John the Baptist (15)
C. Gift to Man (16)
B. His Role in re-creation (17)
A. The Son with the Father (18)
John Chapter One is probably an ancient Christian hymn, perhaps the one mentioned by the ancient Roman Pliny. He said that believers gathered before dawn on a "certain day" and sang a hymn anti-phonetically to Christ as a god. Other hymns are found embedded in the text of the New Testament (Colossians 1: 15-20, 1 Timothy 3: 16, 2 Timothy 2:11-13. In Philippians 2: 6-11 and Ephesians 5: 14 Paul probably quotes ancient Christian hymns that he did not compose.)
LaSor, Hubbard and Bush in their book Old Testament Survey: the Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament devote an entire chapter to Hebrew poetry. They state that Hebrew poetry "appeals more to human imagination and emotion than to reason." In this Semitic approach, "Poetic imagery compares the Unseen to something the readers have already soon helping them to know God better. Ultimately God is known in the incarnate image, the Son. Without denying the value of philosophy, we can say that the biblical approach is superior in many ways to the philosophical. People learn far more through the senses than through speculation." Jesus use of Hebrew poetic structures puts him in his Semitic context. Certain so-called Bible scholars (such as John Dominic Crosson) are trying to divorce Jesus from his Jewish identity and recast him as a pagan philosopher. These people try to paint Jesus as student of Greek thought. He tries to argue that Jesus was a Cynic (from where we get the word 'cynical'). Jesus modes of thinking and speaking are Hebrew not Greek. Greek philosophy has certain false ideas (especially coming from Plato) such as reality isn't real, only the imaginary world of ideas is real. (The ancient Greeks were great thinkers but many of the ideas of Plato are bizarre and disturbing. An educated and well rounded person will be familiar with Greek thought and the contributions that the ancient Greeks made toward human progress.) The importance of the real world to Jesus and not lofty speculation will be dealt with below.
Bishop Lowth was the first to categorize Hebrew poetry. He did this in a commentary on the book of Isaiah in 1778. (He was informed by Rabbinic sources.) Adam Potkay defines the structure of Hebrew poetry in the following manner.
- The main structural element of Hebrew poetry is parallelism: that is, the juxtaposition of two or more clauses that are related in meaning. The two most common clauses are relations between the clauses that are "synonymy" and "anti-thesis". But a third can also be found, "synthetic" parallelism.
- Synonymous parallelism is the most common type in Hebrew poetry. The two clauses are different in form, but roughly identical in meaning. For example in Psalm 38:1 "O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure." Or from Psalm 148:1:" Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights."
- Antithetic parallelism occurs when the two clauses show an opposition or contrast of ideas. For example, from Psalm 20: 8: [The ungodly] are brought down and are fallen; but we are risen, and stand upright. Or in Psalm 1:6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
- Synthetic parallelism occurs when the second clause completes the idea begun in the first clause (e.g., "as x, so y"). For example in Psalm 3:4: "I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah."
- There is also cause and effect synthetic parallelism. For example in Psalm 126: 3: "The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad!"
- And finally, in synthetic parallelism there is analogous parallelism. For example in Psalm 125:2 "As the mountains are found about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people."
- There is also cause and effect synthetic parallelism. For example in Psalm 126: 3: "The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad!"
The New Covenant: Commonly Called the New Testament, Newly Translated from the Greek and Informed by Semitic Sources by Willis Barnstone. In his introduction to his translation he notes that he has Yeshua [Yeshus is the Aramaic form of the name "Jesus"] speaking in verse. He states,
With respect to their prosodic form, the sayings [of Yeshua, which means 'Jesus'], like Psalms, Song of Songs, and most of the words of Isaiah and Jeremiah in the Hebrew Bible, may be read and lineated as poetry, even though the monumentally poetic King James Version cast them in prose…Here in this version, Yeshua's words are lineated as poetry, just as most of Yeshua's words, especially in John, are lineated in the French and English editions of the…Jerusalem Bible (1990). To most of us it is a secret that Yeshua's speech takes the form of poems. This translation will introduce the Jewish messiah… as the great poet of the first century…, who heretofore has been our invisible poet.
In English it is valued to be succinct and to the point, especially in term papers. One editor commented that she felt that the Bible needed to be edited and that it could easily be pared down. The person is failing to see two things, first the Bible was transmitted orally and much of it is meant to be read aloud and also she fails to see the poetry.
Semitic people look on their languages as art forms. Today among Arabs and Assyrians poetry is valued as it was in biblical times. God spoke through the prophets (including Jesus, although Jesus is much more than just a prophet) in the tradition of ancient Semitic oral poetry. Burney argued that the Gospel of John was originally written in Aramaic partly because of the large amount of Hebraic poetry found in that Gospel.
Jesus often uses the four-beat rhythm. Jeremias comments, "the repose which characterizes the four-beat…make it appropriate for conveying didactic themes. It is hardly a coincidence that many saying with four-beat lines are addresses to the inner circle of followers and the messengers, for the most part giving instructions but also bringing consolation. The four-beat line is pre-eminently the rhythm for the instruction of disciples." (Here the sayings of Jesus are reconstructed in His Aramaic language. Although Jesus used Hebrew poetry forms he spoke and taught in Aramaic.)
Kil man deit leh yityeheb leh
Wa kolman delet up ma diet leh
For whoever has, to him will be given,
But whoever does not have.
Even what he has will be taken from him.
Let talmid lel min rabi
Wa let abda lel min mareh
Missat le talmida dihe kerabbeh
Wa abda kemareh
A disciple is not above his teacher,
Nor a servant above his master.
It is enough for a disciple to be like his teacher,
And a servant like his master.
The Beatitudes use the three-beat rhythm. Jeremias explains, "Even in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, the three beat line is used by preference for conveying wisdom; it is also used very often in the psalms. It is the most frequent rhythm used in the sayings of Jesus; it serves to drive home important sayings and maxims." I will use some "animal verses" to illustrate.
Le talayya-it lehon horin
Wa Barnasha let leh
Han deyarken reysha
The foxes have holes,
And the birds of the heavens have nests,
But the Son of Man has no
Place to lay his head.
La tihabun qaddisha le kalbayya
Wa la tirmn margeliyyatkon be appe Khazirayya.
Do not give what is holy to dogs
And do not cast your pearls before the swine.
The suffering of the Aramaic Christians under Islamic persecution has intensified. Not only the Assyrians-but the Coptic Christians of Egypt are suffering as well. Please pray. To help give to the Barnabas Fund.
Illustration on the Cover
Is a page from the "Jewish Study Bible." I have reviewed it and think it is a very good and helpful Study Bible. You see here a printing from a traditional Jewish Bible (and not a typical page from the Jewish Study Bible). It shows how the Aramaic version of the Bible (called the Targum) is included with the Hebrew text and rabbinic commentary.
Jews for Jesus Newsletter
The recent edition contains a helpful article about Passover. It quotes from a Bible Scholar named David Duabe (Jews for Jesus Newsletter, April 21, 2011 edition.) He says "In Mark 14:22, in the Aramaic it may well have been "This is me." (See the collected works of David Duabe, Volume 2 New Testament Judaism. The Greek says "This is my body" Mr. Duabe was arguing that a more accurate translation from the Aramaic may have been "This is me." However, another recent edition of the Jews for Jesus had inaccurate information. They were insinuating that Nazareth was a Greek speaking town. Nazareth was Aramaic-see Maurice Casey's books and the first volume of Paul Meier's "A Marginal Jew" for the evidence regarding the languages spoken by Jews in the Promised Land in the first century. There is also my book "Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth" in which I argue conclusively that Aramaic was the language of Jesus though looking at the Bible and archeological evidence.
Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre
This is an interesting book that I don't totally agree with that notes the connections between the Lord's Supper and Passover and other Jewish/Old Testament backgrounds. Pope Benedict has also published the second edition of his two volume work on "Jesus of Nazareth." I am not Catholic but Pope Benedict is a good Bible scholar and his books look very interesting-and I intend to read them fully
Now, America is involved in three wars: Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya. I think Qaddafi is a bad guy and I think he needs to be arrested and sentenced to death for engaging in terrorism. So, what do I think about Mr. Obama's actions in all of this. First, I am confused as to why he allowed the pro-democracy activist to be slaughtered in Iran. That was a rare opportunity to bring about regime change in Iran without involving U.S. troops. I believe that eventually we will be at war with Iran. This president seems to support the regime in Iran. I think that Iran may be behind some of the destabilization that we see in the Middle East right now. Here is what bothers me about Mr. Obama's actions in Libya.
- He did nothing while Qaddafi slaughtered his own people. Obama supported the no-fly zone after the rebellion had been pretty much crushed.
- He did not go through congress. He took his orders from the United Nations.
- He seems unable to lead and is trying to pass the buck to France or Germany
- He keeps on changing the stated goals of the mission.
Apparently, Mr. Obama can't lead. Mrs. Clinton can't take it anymore and has clearly stated that she is tired of working for him. Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that said "The Buck Stops Here." But Mr. Obama seems to be trying to pass the buck on Libya. Another issue that must be stressed is the utter hypocrisy of the Liberal Democrats. Here we have Obama doing the very thing that he opposed Bush for-getting involved in a war in the Middle East to bring about regime change. Also, Mr. Obama has decided to leave the terrorists in Gitmo and also to resume their trials there! He opposed Bush for this very thing and actively campaigned against Bush on these issues. This is a profound hypocrisy. So, obviously, the reason that they were opposed to the War on Terror is that it was being led by a Republican President. They are deplorable. About attacking Gaddafi and getting his regime-I am all for it! High gas prices, more war in the Middle East-it seems like President Bush is still in office.
I have been thinking about all of this chaos in the Middle East. Is it spontaneous outbursts or a sinister plot by some sort of "hidden hand"? The most likely culprit would be Iran. Iran wants to be the "Superpower" of the Middle East. Iran is trying to increase its influence around the world. Now the revolutions have come to Syria. Syria is a satellite of Iran-practically a colony. During the cold war, Syria was a Soviet satellite. Now, why would a country want to be a satellite? I lived in Syria and I observed the country and thought about it. Syria is not a poor country. If it opened more to the west and the rest of the world it could develop economically. It has huge tourist potential-which isn't realized. So, why? Basically, the Alawite dictators are kings. If the country was opened to the west or developed-that would empower the people of Syria-and weaken the power of the Alawite ruling clan. Syria is under a declared state of emergency and marshal law and has been since 1963. When the unrest began, there was rumors that President Assad was going to end the state of emergency and allow people to organize political parties. I thought about it and I realized that there is NO WAY he is going to do this. If he allows political parties-he will maintain absolute control. President Assad has been promising democratic reforms since he took power about a decade ago and so far, he has failed to deliver.
Mr. Assad addressed the nation and blamed the demonstrations of a "conspiracy" and repeated his empty promises of bringing about reforms in the future. The vast majority of Middle Easterners believe in conspiracy theories. But this illustrates the problem of conspiracy theories. The reality is that mass movements and revolutions take on a life of their own and cannot be contained. It is like opening Pandora's Box or letting the Genii could of the bottle. I am sure there are conspiracies out there-but that is not how the world runs. It is like the French revolution. Robespierre thought that he could control the mob-but sometimes the mob cannot be controlled. I remember reading about this when I was reading a book entitled "Apocalypse" about the Jewish War of AD 63-70.Sociologists have studies such mass movements and revolutions similar to what we see going on in the Middle East right now.
I think that it is over for Mr. Assad. All of these dictators who have been in power for decades are going to lose power soon. I would give them less than two years. I mentioned this before. In Egypt a man came up to me and said "Let me tell you what I admire most about America." I asked him what it was. He answered, "Your president serves only two terms of four years." What the people of the Middle East want is free and fair elections and term limits. I read another book entitled "World War IV" in it there was a group of people described as "realists." These realists are people who work in international relations who believe that we must support repressive regimes in order to maintain "stability" in the Middle East. It isn't stability. An associate of mine said that Arabs need to be ruled over by "benevolent dictators or kings-like the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan." They are NOT benevolent. They are mass murderers who use brutality and secret police to crush all dissent. The Saudis are the worst of all. THEY ARE AL QAIDA.
I am no friend of the Islamic religion. But I believe that Arabs and Muslims-if they are going to have elections they need to have free and fair elections and if they want term limits-then they should get those too.
This is a derogatory term for someone who supports the war on terror (they are a "hawk") but they are unable or unwilling to go and join the military and personally fight (thus they are "chicken"). Well, I am no chicken-hawk. I have served in war in Iraq twice.
The Decline of Islam?
Islam seems to be the wave of the future and a powerful force that is growing stronger day by day. However, Islam is actually very weak in some ways. All Islamic dominated countries are backwards. If the people are actually pursuing freedom-then the force of Islam could be weakened. On the other hand the Moslem people are radicalized/ What we need to do is be aware and watch as events unfolds. Even if Islam became weakened it is still a force to be reckoned with and something that people should take very seriously.
Aramaic Three Wise Men
The Assyrian Christians name the Magi Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas. These names have a far greater likelihood of being originally Persian, though that does not, of course, guarantee their authenticity.
Deconstructing Obama by Dr. Cashill
This new book proves that Obama did not write his two books. They have been proven to have been written by the terrorist Ayers. Dr. Cashill has written other books dealing with Bill Clinton covering up acts of Islamic terror. Now, this has been given credence due to his influence in censoring the mini-series "The Path to 9-11." Dr. Cashill has written many interesting books.
Churches Burnt in Eritrea and Ethiopia
Christians in Eritrea-an east African country that was formerly a part of Ethiopia and in Ethiopia itself are enduring persecution. Muslims have burnt 60 churches and several Christian homes.
Obama has emboldened the Terrorists
Why is it that we see an explosion of violence against Christians around the world and particularly in the Middle East? Part of the reason is that the American people put a weak, ineffectual, pro-Muslim man in the White House. Mr. Obama is projecting weakness and thereby emboldening terrorists. He will not criticize them or condemn their actions and has basically given them free reign. Elections have consequences. The 2008 elections have had devastating consequences on the United States and haven't seen the half of it. America will pay a terrible price for voting for evil. I believe he is one of the most evil and sinister people on planet earth. I pray for my country fervently every night. I pray, "Dear God, save us from this evil man and his designs upon America. Please don't allow him to destroy America. Let this country survive the next two years so we can vote him out of office."
Tennessee Lawmaker Renews Fight to Make Supporting Shariah Law a Felony in U.S.
By Joshua Rhett Miller Published March 02, 2011 | FoxNews.com
A Republican lawmaker in Tennessee will continue advocating proposed legislation that would make it a felony in the state to knowingly support Shariah law despite criticism that the "shocking" bill is bigoted, he told FoxNews.com. State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, said the bill, S.B. 1028, will be amended to allow the "peaceful practice" of Islam. He rejected calls to withdraw the legislation following a news conference on Tuesday held by several civil rights and interfaith groups denouncing the proposal. "[The bill] does not outlaw or in any way punish or target the peaceful practice of Islam," Ketron told FoxNews.com on Wednesday. "It targets those terrorist Shariah organizations, those who are extremists. It has nothing to do with how they worship." The bill, if passed, would allow the state's attorney general to designate an entity as a Shariah organization if the organization knowingly adheres to Shariah; if the organization "engages in, or retains the capability and intent to engage in" an act of terrorism; or if the act of terrorism of the organization "threatens the security of public safety" of Tennessee residents."
According to the bill, Shariah is defined as a "set of rules, precepts, instructions, or edicts which are said to emanate directly or indirectly from the god of Allah or the prophet Mohammed and which include directly or indirectly the encouragement of any person to support the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the United States or Tennessee Constitutions, or the destruction of the national existence of the United States or the sovereignty of this state, and which includes among other methods to achieve these ends, the likely use of imminent violence." The bill continues: "Under this bill, any rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali, Ja'afariya, or Salafi, as those terms are used by Shariah adherents, is prima facie Shariah without any further evidentiary showing." Violations of the proposed law would be a Class B felony, punishable by fine and a prison term of up to 15 years. Ketron said he's confident the legislation will be passed when introduced to the state's General Assembly next month." I feel personally that we probably have the votes to pass this," he said. "There are so many different arms of Shariah and depending on how people interpret and follow those laws, some become extremists. That's what this bill addresses." Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the bill would make it illegal to be a Muslim in Tennessee if passed. "The bill's sponsor talks about not infringing on the religious rights of Muslim, yet he goes on to name every school of Islamic thought to be prima facie evidence of terrorism," Hooper told FoxNews.com. "We just hope adults will intervene at some point in the Legislature to drop this nonsensical, un-American and unconstitutional bill. When are conservatives going to say enough is enough here?" Bill Nigut, southeast regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, noted that a similar measure passed in November by Oklahoma voters that banned the use of Shariah law in state courtrooms was later blocked by a federal judge pending the resolution of a lawsuit calling it unconstitutional. "In general, we find this kind of legislation more about marginalizing the Muslim community rather than doing something to better protect the entire community," Nigut said. "I do worry that it feeds into a faulty perception that Muslims obey laws separate from U.S. and state law in Tennessee." Nadeem Siddiqui, a 35-year-old American Muslim entrepreneur who attended Tuesday's rally in Nashville, told The Associated Press that the proposal was "overly broad" and declares "all Muslims and their practices" to be illegal. "Shariah law is how I know how to fast in the month of Ramadan; how I wash before my prayers," Siddiqui told The Associated Press. "It also directs me in how much charity I need to give to the poor. It orders me to be honest and fair in my business dealings." A spokeswoman for the state's attorney general said the office would not comment on the legislation. Calls seeking comment from Gov. Bill Haslam were not immediately returned on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Herb London, president of the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said he found the legislation to be perfectly legitimate and thinks it will eventually be passed. "When Shariah law is incompatible with constitutional law, the constitution of the United States should transcend Shariah," London said. "It is far more important and is the basis for our civilization. There's a growing understanding that Shariah is not compatible with the democratic principles we live. This is not something we want to embrace in America. It's not compatible with our way of life."
Muslims know that Islam-and Islamic Shariah law is a legal system. They are disingenuous when they say that it regulates their personal life. It does that but it regulates all of life-and must be the supreme law and be used to persecute Christians. Recently, a Muslim tried to confront Col. Allen West by using half-truths and deceptions. Col. West is not ignorant-so he was able to silence, expose and humiliate the Muslim who confronted him. If we don't draw a line and take a stand now-we will find ourselves in the same situation that the Coptic Christians and Pakistani Christians find themselves-living in fear.
Westboro Baptist Church
I deplore this church and their tactics but I agree with the Supreme Court ruling in their favor. Free speech means free speech-even for those who say things that are unpopular. I believe only obscenity should be restricted. All other speech should be free. However, a government has the right to protect itself against groups that would try to overthrow it. Therefore, if an organization is plotting to overthrow the Constitution of the United States and introduce Sharia law, the government has the right to protect itself against such revolutionaries. "Westboro" Baptist Church is a cult-group that is not affiliated with any Baptist organization although they do call themselves Baptist. The pastor considers himself a member of the Democratic party and has run for office as a Democrat.
Pakistani Christians Protest After Slaying March 3, 2011 (Associated Press, Chris Brummitt reporting)
ISLAMABAD – Pakistani Christians burned tires and rallied for justice Thursday, a day after Islamist militants assassinated a Catholic government minister who had braved death threats to speak out in their defense.
The government, which has been accused of appeasing hard-liners, vowed to tackle the threat, but officials routinely make such promises after high-profile attacks and questions remain over its will to counter militants once supported by the state.
Shahbaz Bhatti, 42, was gunned down in the capital, Islamabad, apparently because he had urged Pakistan to reform harsh laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam. He had been given police and paramilitary guards but had asked them not to accompany him while he stayed with his mother, according to police.
Bhatti, who was minister for religious minorities, was the second Pakistani politician killed in two months over the blasphemy laws, the support of which has become a rallying cry for right-wing Islamist political parties and clerics. On Jan. 4, Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer was shot dead by a bodyguard who disagreed with his view that the laws need to be changed.
"Son of God" offensive to Muslims?
In the February 2011 edition of "Christianity Today" there was an article about how missionaries are avoiding calling Jesus "the Son of God" because this offends Muslims. Instead they are translating the Bible to say "the beloved son who comes from Allah." We cannot deny Christ in order to appease Islam. Christians must boldly proclaim the Gospel and not retreat from it.
Electronic Strip searches: A Violation of our Constitutional Rights
Terrorists have protections. They are protected from being targeted and profiled. Even though the Constitution forbids it-we have no protections-we are forced to random strip searches.
MGM's "Peace on Earth"
Liberals haven't changed. On the eve of World War 2 they were producing anti-War propaganda. MGM produced an animated anti-War movie that was nominated for the Academy Award-just months before WWII erupted.
Jill Carrol's "Teaching Tolerance"
This woman had her vitriolic anti-Christian articles published in the Houston Chronicle under the heading "Teaching Tolerance."
To liberals-Christians can not be the victims of religious persecution. Apparently, not any where in the world.
If Ms. Carroll really believed in "tolerance," I challenge her to go to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Indonesia and teach tolerance of Christians, Jews and Hindus to Muslims.
(After the Bombay shootings, in which many Hindus and Jews were murdered by Muslims-Hollywood produced a movie called "Slumdog Millionaire" in which a Muslim boy was viciously persecuted by Hindus in India.)
Liberals are the most hateful, intolerant and bigoted people that I have ever come across. We need an initiative to teach Muslims open-mindedness and toleration.
In August of 2010 actor John Cusack "tweeted" death threats against Republicans on his tweeter account. Liberals defended his comments. After the assassination attempt of Congresswoman Giffords, liberals forgot about the incident. They insist that conservatives be "civil" but they are not civil themselves.
Fred Grandy, a former actor who portrayed the character "Gopher" on the show "The Love Boat" was fired (or "was forced to quit") his radio program because he talked about "political Islam." It was a successful program. Afterwards he said, "You are not allowed to talk abou t what is happening in our country."
For the sake of Freedom we must take a stand
If we are going to be a free country, the liberal establishment must be brought down. We need to be able to have public discourse and different points of view. This is something that the liberals do not allow. They do not tolerate diversity of opinion. If you do not recite the party line, the liberals will destroy you-or attempt to.
Remember my books and my comic books
"The Words of Jesus in the Original Aramaic," "Treasures of the Language of Jesus," and "Christ the Man." I also have comic books such as The Hammer of God comic book series. Also, check out my youtube at www. youtube.com/aramaic12.