Archive for the ‘Rabbi Hillel’ Tag

Devotion for the Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year B (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Job and His Alleged Friends, a Fresco

Image in the Public Domain

Being Good Friends

FEBRUARY 2, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Job 5:6-23 or Deuteronomy 5:6-21

Psalm 41

James 2:1-17

Mark 1:29-45

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The Law of Moses, unlike the older Code of Hammurabi, to which it bears some similarity, does not bring social class into consideration.  No, the Law of Moses is impartial regarding the socio-economic status of both the victim and the perpetrator.  In the Code of Hammurabi, for example, the same crime (theft or assault, for example) leads to a harsher penalty when the victim belongs to a higher social class.  In the Law of Moses, however, the penalty is the same, regardless of anyone’s socio-economic status.  That ethic of socio-economic impartiality carries over into James 2:1-7.

The Hillelian distillation of the Law of Moss comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (the Shema).  How we love God, assuming that we do, manifests in how we treat each other.  Hypocrisy is as old as human nature.  Pious fronts belie both evil intentions and lesser disregard and carelessness.  Often those who violate the Golden Rule do so while imagining that they are honoring God.  Eliphaz the Temanite and the other so-called friends of Job (who remind me of, “with friends like these, who needs enemies?”) sound like the Book of Psalms much of the time.  That fact complicates the interpretation of much of the Book of Job.  The best answer I can offer is that what they said applied in certain circumstances, but not that one.

If we were less concerned about who is wright and about insisting that we are right, and if we were more concerned about being good friends to one another, we could fulfill the spirit of most of the assigned texts for today.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND ALLEGED HERETIC; AND HIS DAUGHTER, EMILIE GRACE BRIGGS, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND “HERETIC’S DAUGHTER”

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND “SWEET-VOICED NIGHTINGALE OF THE CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HIRAM FOULKES, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/friendship-v/

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Devotion for the Third Sunday After the Epiphany, Year B (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Christ in the Synagogue at Capernaum, a Fresco

Image in the Public Domain

Old Teachings

JANUARY 26, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Job 3:1-26 (or 1:1-19) or Deuteronomy 5:6-21

Psalm 40

James 1:17-27

Mark 1:21-28

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And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying “What is this?  A new teaching!  With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

–Mark 1:28, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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One may legitimately question whether Christ’s action in Mark 1:21-28 constituted a teaching.  Assuming that it was, was it a new teaching?

Despite traditional Christian attempts to divorce Jesus from Judaism, one would have had a difficult time finding someone more Jewish than Jesus of Nazareth.  Judaism was not monolithic two millennia ago.  (Neither is it monolithic today.)  Jesus was a man of his culture, place, and faith.  With ease he quoted Deuteronomy, the various Isaiahs, and Rabbi Hillel.  There was continuity from the Hebrew Bible (as in the Ten Commandments, repeated in Deuteronomy 5) to Jesus.

There is much continuity from the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament.  The teaching to walk, not just talk, the talk, is present in both, as in the context of the Ten Commandments and the Letter of James.  The theme of trusting in God, who cares about us (as in Psalm 40), is also present in the New Testament.  As one considers the lilies of the field, one may recall that Job had a different opinion in Job 3.  If each of us lives long enough, each of us also sometimes thinks that God does not care about us.

Occasionally, at the Oconee Campus of the University of North Georgia, where I teach, someone from a campus ministry politely asks me if I believe in God.  I ask this person what he or she means, for the answer depends on the question.  Many people used “believe in God” to mean “affirm the existence of God,” but belief, in the creedal sense, is trust.  My answer is that I always affirm the existence of God and usually trust in God.

I (usually) trust in God, incarnate in the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth, whose teachings were mostly old, in continuity with the Hebrew Bible.  The Golden Rule and the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) are old, for example.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 13, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MILTON SMITH LITTLEFIELD, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN AND CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF SIGISMUND VON BIRKEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT, U.S. POET, JOURNALIST, AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/old-teachings/

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Devotion for January 10 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Above:  Moses with the Ten Commandments, by Rembrandt van Rijn

The Spirit of the Law

 JANUARY 10, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 19-32

Psalm 97 (Morning)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening)

Romans 2:17-29

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 Be assured, O House of Israel, I will judge each one of you according to his ways–declares the Lord GOD.  Repent and turn back from your transgressions, let them not be a stumbling block of guilt for you.  Cast away all the transgressions by which you have offended, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit, that you may not die, O House of Israel.  For it is not My desire that anyone shall die–declares the Lord GOD.  Repent, therefore, and live!

–Ezekiel 18:29-32, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Circumcision was a mark signifying that owed everything–including one’s existence–to God.  Therefore it was supposed to remind one of the necessity and appropriateness of responding favorable to God.  Such a response entailed how one treated one’s fellow human beings.  That was in the Law of Moses.

The Law of Moses is fascinating.  It is simultaneously compassionate (calling for loving one’s neighbor as oneself) and violent (calling for stoning for many offenses).  It treats men and women as well as the rich and the poor equally sometimes yet subordinates women at others.  It also declares all the blends in my wardrobe to be unlawful, prohibits touching the skin of a pig (so much for footballs and some foods!) and permits slavery.  I do not know what to make of the Law of Moses sometimes.

Our Lord, quoting the Law itself, summarized it well overall, channeling Rabbi Hillel (died 10 CE) and saying to love God fully and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.  As Rabbi Hillel continued,

Everything else is commentary.  Go and learn it.

Certain provisions of the Law are specific to geographical, economic, historical, and cultural conditions.  In such instances, I look to the spirit, not the letter, of certain laws.  Yet slavery is always wrong; I stand by that statement.  I do not know what to make of the Law of Moses sometimes.

So be it.

Ezekiel and Paul called people back to the spirit of the Law; love God fully and love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself.  May we human beings inspire each other to do that and to do it better and more often.

And I plan to ask God about the slavery and stoning provisions one day.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATHILDA, QUEEN OF GERMANY

THE FEAST OF KEREOPA AND MANIHERA OF TARANAKI, ANGLICAN MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF PAVEL CHESNOKOV, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF PETER GRAVES, ACTOR

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/the-spirit-of-the-law/

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