Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Growth of Anti-Semitism (AD 70-718)

Jesus, his original twelve apostles, every member of the early Church including the apostle Paul: all were Jewish. The early Jesus movement was not a new religion but a transformative movement within Judaism.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Changes between Judaism and Christianity (AD 70-570)

During the Jewish rebellion in Judea against the Roman state (AD 66-70), leaders of Pharisaic Judaism left the city of Jerusalem. They moved the intellectual and cultural center of their dominant Jewish movement to the coastal city of Yavne. There they began the task of responding creatively to their troubled circumstances by writing down their oral tradition in what became the Mishnah.

During the Jewish rebellion in Judea, leaders of Christian Judaism also abandoned the city of Jerusalem. They moved to the interior city of Pella, clung to their Christian Jewish ways, lost leadership of the movement to the apostle Paul and the Christian communities in Alexandria and Antioch, and disappeared from history.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Rise and Decline of the Talmud

During the Age of Christianity (AD 1-634), Jews in Olympia suffered five disasters: (1) Roman victories over Jewish rebels in Judea in AD 70, (2) Alexandria in 117, (3) and Judea again in 135; (4) the growth of Christianity into a more appealing, powerful, and hostile opponent by 200; and (5) the establishment of Christianity as the sole legal religion of the Roman Empire in 386. Between AD 1 and 634, Jews loss half their population and much of their status, wealth, and morale.

But their history was more than simply suffering disastrous loss. There was also tremendous creativity. By AD 70, Jews had their Scripture. By 600 they had also created a set of writings that arguably became even more important: (1) the Mishnah (by 200), (2) Jerusalem Talmud (by 400), and (3) Babylonian Talmud (by 600).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Five Disasters Befalling Jews (AD 70-500)

With the Fall of Adam and Eve in 4004 BC began the first age of humankind, the Old Age of Dominant Powers of Evil, and the first period of human history, the Age of Olympianity. The Age of Yahwism, the second historical period, began in 1921 BC when Abraham answered the call of Yahweh to leave Haran in Mesopotamia and to experience a dynamic relationship with him.

With the birth of Jesus Christ in AD 1, the Old Age of Dominant Powers of Evil came to an end. In its place began the second age of humankind, the New Age of Victorious Jesus Christ. With his birth also began the third period of human history, the Age of Christianity (70-634). This age did not replace the Age of Yahwism, still alive and maintained by Jews everywhere, but it did supersede it.

The first 500 years of the Age of Christianity would prove to be especially difficult ones for Jews. Both in Judea and the Diaspora, they suffered serious losses in population, prosperity, meaning, and morale. These losses followed hard on five disasters.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

First-Century Judaism in Alexandria

During the Maccabean period (165-63 BC), Pharisaism became the major and normative form of Judaism. It was not, however, the only one. Its major rival was Jewish Hellenianism.

Antiochus 4th, Olympian ruler over Jerusalem from Antioch in Syria, did not cause the Maccabean revolt in the 160s BC. That grew out of the split in Judea between Pharisees and Jewish Hellenians. It was the military victory of the Pharisaic Maccabees over their Hellenian rivals that made Pharisaism normative in Judea.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No Magical Thinking

In 588 BC, a Babylonian army captured Jerusalem then destroyed the city, burned down the temple of Yahweh built under Solomon, and dragged its inhabitants back to Babylon.

Jews in Babylon had to make sense of this event. If Yahweh, their god, truly did exist and furthermore was free in relation to the Olympian gods of Babylon, why did he allow the Olympian gods and their minions to win such a crushing victory over his own people? Had they not been enthusiastic worshipers of Yahweh at his temple in Jerusalem?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Second-Temple Judaism (538 BC-AD 70)

Babylonian captivity (587-538 BC). Construction of the first temple dedicated to Yahweh was completed in Jerusalem around 1005 BC during the rule of Solomon. The Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and that temple in 588 and dragged the surviving inhabitants of Jerusalem with them back to Babylon.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jewish History: Six Challenging Times

Norman Cantor (1929-2004), a Jewish medieval historian, wrote a book entitled The Sacred Chain: The History of the Jews (HarperCollins, 1994). In its first chapter, he mentions six particularly painful times in Jewish history that we do well to keep in mind.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The City as Our Future

From beginning to end, the biblical witnesses do not hesitate to describe the City as both the greatest expression of our rebellion against Yahweh and the greatest work of the Olympian gods whom we adore. At the same time, the biblical witnesses consistently reveal that, in the new age to come, we humans will all live happily with Jesus in a city.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The City as Parasite

The City is parasitical. This is especially true of today’s Global Technological System (GTS).

It takes its vitality from God’s good creation. Minions of the City call God’s good creatures “natural resources” to excuse sucking their vitality from them. The GTS has grown so large that it now requires the systematic destruction of habitats and extinction of species to survive let alone continue its reckless growth. This includes not just food for urban inhabitants but also minerals and especially energy for urban artifacts like buildings, autos, and roads.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jesus Replaces Jerusalem

For the love of David, king of Israel, Yahweh freely chose to take the conventionally Olympian city of Jerusalem and make it holy as well. This happened shortly before 1015 BC. When Jesus came, he embodied the holy future of Yahweh-with-us to which Jerusalem pointed. With his crucifixion and resurrection in AD 30, he replaced Jerusalem as the center of Yahweh’s kingdom on earth. In this way Jerusalem became just another Olympian city once again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Jesus as Our Liberator from the Crowd

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38, New Revised Standard Version).

Olympian leaders use us like sheep. They keep us sheepish, regularly shear us, and finally eat us (consuming our remaining vitality).

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jesus and the Crowd

In cities we are always part of a crowd. Thanks to today’s mass media of communication, we can live in the country and still be part of the crowd. Our Olympian need to keep up with current events keeps us immersed in the crowd from which Jesus would rescue us.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Jesus in the City

Holy Jerusalem remains unholy
John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. Immediately afterward Satan tempts Jesus to misunderstand the meaning of being the savior of all people.

One of these temptations takes place in Jerusalem, the holy city, the one city chosen by Yahweh to point toward Yahweh’s redemption of all cities (Matthew 4:5). So even this chosen city continues to serve Satan, like all cities, as a place of Olympian temptation.