Monday, 26 November 2012

Yeshua Explored - Steve Maltz

   Premier Radio has been show-casing Steve Maltz - Yeshua Explored material . I have previously posted this on the Premier Radio forum. Some of this material I like and agree with, and I haven't read or listened to it all, but these are my thoughts. Firstly, I agree we need to embrace our Hebrew Christian roots and read and appreciate the Old Testament in its correct context without losing our own ethnic identity. There is a subtle Christian zionist agenda in Steve's work, but that is not my main point here. My main question arises out of a desire to try and understand Jesus within the context of a form of second temple Judaism, that of the Scribes and Pharisees, that Jesus was himself strongly critical of. Steve for instance quotes from the Mishnah - 'the tradition of the elders' and the Talmud which really set aside the Torah - (which is why Jesus was so critical of it).
   First century Judaism did not have a united voice about what it was to be a good Jew, so we had the Saducess, the Pharisees, the Qumran community etc, and the follows of John the Baptist and Jesus. Steve also contrasts the Hebrew way of thinking with the Greek way of thinking of Aristotle and Plato. Again a lot of good here. But my question arises because Greek thinking was in Israel for several centuries prior to the Messiah. They ruled the land prior to the Romans. Compare if you will the political structure of Plato's city Polis in the Republic, with the behaviour of the Scribes and Pharisees. Plato held that a city state should be ruled by Philosopher Kings (the Scribes and Pharisees) with security by a well paid military (the Roman army) with the rest of the populace reduced to mere productive workers (the common Jewish man and woman who Jesus championed).
   Often as well, the Greek speaking Jews, who lived in Israel and elsewhere around the Mediterranean Sea, often lived lives that were truer to the heart of the Jewish way of life than the leaders in Israel who were elitist. We see this in Acts where seven Greek speaking Christian Jews (including Phillip and Stephen) were placed in charge of the food supply for the Christian community. In fact Paul often preached first to Greek speaking Jews on his missionary journeys, and these Greek Jews formed the foundation for the Christian Church that arose in Europe - we should offer a great deal of thanks to these Jews (and gentiles) who often suffered martyrdom for their faith. But the Greek influence in the Hebrew way of life predates Jesus, and we need to question how it impacted different communities of Jews because it is not straightforward. (Jews living in Alexandria also produced the Septuagint). I could go on about the influence that Philo had upon Augustine and other Church Fathers etc., but that is enough for now.

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