Our regular readers may have noticed that we haven’t been updating the Mishkan David nearly as much as usual this year. It isn’t for lack of trying, I assure you! We have been busy putting together a number of projects that have taken up much of my writing time. Continue reading
THE CLOCK IS TICKING!
ONLY 21 DAYS UNTIL THE 2014 CTOMC CONFERENCE
The 2014 conference will be
August 1-3 in Halifax, Nova Scotia
In just 3 short weeks Torah Observant Believers from far and wide will descend on Halifax, Nova Scotia for a weekend of worship, teaching, food, and fellowship.
The Dartmouth Oceanview Hotel (formerly the Super 8) has set aside a block of 20 rooms (only 7 remaining) and has agreed to keep the rates at $79 per night, the same rate as two years ago for the 2012 conference. Call the hotel directly at 1-902-463-9520 and mention the CTOMC Conference to get the special rate.
The meeting rooms at the Oceanview are under summer construction, so we have booked the Nantucket Room at the Dartmouth Sportsplex (a 10 minute walk, shuttle provided) for the services and workshops. The Nantucket Room holds up to 150 people with space for vendors tables and room to walk around. Those staying at the Oceanview also get a pass to use the pool and all facilities at the Sportsplex.
The schedule is:
Thursday, July 31
Credential Holders “Meet-and-Greet” BBQ at MRav Avner & MMin Leah Solomon’s home
26 Jacob Lane, Halifax, NS B3M 0H6
Friday, August 1
- Morning and early afternoon on your own to tour Halifax at your leisure.
9:30 AM Credential Holders Upgrade Interviews (Licensed to Ordained); Gerut interviews.
3:30 PM Vendors set-up
5:00 PM Registration Table Open
7:00 PM Erev Shabbat Service (MRav Avner Solomon) followed by Oneg Shabbat.
Saturday, August 2
10:00 AM Shabbat Morning Torah Service (MRav Walt Thorp from Virginia)
12:30 PM Buffet Lunch
2:00 PM Workshop 1 (MMoreh David Negley from Maryland)
3:30 PM Workshop 2 (MMin Jon McLean from Prince Edward Island)
7:00 PM Havdalah Service—Jonathan Settel in Concert
Sunday, August 3
10:00 AM Workshop 3 – TBA
11:30 AM Lunch break
12:30 PM Town Hall Meeting
2:30 PM L’hitra’ot – see you next year in TBA
3:00 PM Carpooling tour to Peggy’s Cove or a Swim at Crystal Crescent Beach or Queensland Beach.
Monday, August 4
- 10:00 AM CTOMC Business meeting at the Solomons’ home.
Speakers and workshop facilitators include
- MRav Avner Solomon for the Erev Shabbat service
- MRav Walt Thorpe for the Shabbat morning service
- MMoreh David Negley for workshop 1
- MMin Jon McLean for workshop 2
Vendor tables will be open during registration, until Erev Shabbat service begins. Tables will open again after Havdalah and on Sunday.
Credential holders should schedule to arrive on Thursday morning or early afternoon and leave on Monday afternoon or evening. Of course, you are invited to arrive early or stay longer to check out the sights in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick.
The airport code for Halifax is YHZ. Or, you may want to fly into Logan airport (BOS) in Boston, then rent a car and drive up to Halifax, or drive 90 minutes north to Portland, Maine and take the ferry to Yarmouth, NS (only 3 hour drive to Halifax).
Americans require a valid passport to travel to Canada.
The Conference website is at www.ctomc.ca/conference.php.
See you in 3 weeks!
Brachot v’Shalom b’Yeshua!
Rav Avner Solomon
The Contest is ending!
The Contest is ending!
Time is almost up! The deadline to turn in your entry for the great CTOMC TOGII essay contest is June 15, 2014!
What is TOGII, you ask? That’s the latest acronym for the core values of CTOMC and like-minded Messianics:
Gentile Inclusive, and
Submit your essay today, sharing with the world some aspect of our core values, and why they work. Hurry, while there’s still time!
Read more about it at CTOMC Essay Contest!
A question sometimes comes to my mind. Perhaps it comes to yours, as well. It is this:
Israel has been in diaspora for 2,000 years, now. Why? The prophets tell us that diaspora (scattering) from the Land is Hashem’s attention-getter technique. It isn’t supposed to be a permanent state. Yet, the situation never changes, despite the best efforts of rabbis and Messianic missionaries.
What has gone wrong? Continue reading
Many of us recall that lovely John Lennon song, “Imagine”. It was written in an era of “love, joy, and peace” that we all think of as “the 60’s”. Lennon’s goals were good, if somewhat misguided in the particulars. After all, the first line is, “Imagine there’s no Heaven, it’s easy if you try”! He was advocating a completely humanistic scenario where peace would be enhanced by the practice of communism and globalism. He envisioned a world where there was nothing worth dying for… and also nothing worth living for.
However, misguided humanism aside, the “End Game” Lennon had in mind is still worth considering. There WILL come a time when “the world will be as one”, and the “brotherhood of man” will be shown in a world where there is “no need for greed or hunger”. This is the message of the Hebrew prophets. Not a time when everyone will exist in a delusional stupor, without passion or goals, but a time when everyone on the planet will reach his or her full potential. It will be a time surpassing the prosperity of Solomon’s day, when there was, “peace all around him, on every side. From Dan to Be’er-Sheva, Y’hudah and Isra’el lived securely, every man under his vine and fig tree” (M’lakhim Alef/First Kings 4:25 (5:5).
In the meantime, we are called to work towards this vision of redemption in our own lives. We are sent to spread the message of King Messiah, who has promised to return and reign over his people Israel from his throne on Mount Zion. We are told to teach others his commandments. We are instructed to receive with open arms all those who would bow to the Israeli King, and serve as part of his kingdom. There is no room in this vision of the Messianic Era for segregation, ego, or separation. The People of the King, whether Jew or Gentile, are all challenged both to obey his instructions and to receive one another without question into the Chavurah of Messiah.
Rather than building walls and barriers enforcing segregation between those who claim to be followers of the One True God and King, we should be about the purposes of the Kingdom, building bridges between those who would otherwise be at enmity with one another. While we all understand the natural inclination toward insularity and sectarianism, Messiah called us to rise above such attitudes. He wants his people to be accepting of everyone—Samaritan, Greek, Roman, Syrian, as well as his Jewish brethren… everybody has a place at his table.
What do you think? Is it possible to rise above the animosity, the fear, and the distrust? Is it possible to move beyond the pogroms and the Holocaust, building a Messianic community that rejoices in both our similarities and our differences? Can Jewish followers of Yeshua find it in their hearts to welcome Gentiles into the Messianic Kingdom?
Likewise, can Gentile followers of the Israeli King humble themselves to learn about Israel and the Jewish people—the REAL Jewish people, not the imaginary “Biblical” people that many Christians have placed up on a pedestal. You see, the Bible is the record of real people, who make mistakes, and who need to be forgiven. It is not a book about angel-like saints who have never sinned. More importantly, the Bible is a book about Jewish people, by Jewish people, and for Jewish people. If we want to learn what it says, then we must be willing to learn about the people who wrote, compiled, and preserved “the Book”.
Do you think you can do that? Can Gentiles really accept Jews? Can Jews really accept Gentiles? I think it’s possible. But it will take work from all parties involved. Are you up to the challenge?
May we all be blessed as we together build the dream of a unified planet in service to the Lord and Master, Mashiach Yeshua!
Imagine there’s a Kingdom
It’s easy if you try
The world a global empire
“Hosanna!” is the cry
Imagine all the people
Living for the Way…
Imagine there’s no bound’ries
It isn’t hard to do
No murdering or hate, for
There’s one religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living in shalom…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope today you’ll join us
And the world will be as one!
Hashem said through the prophet Yo’el that in the end times, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Yo’el 2:28,29).
What is your dream for the Messianic Kingdom? What is your vision for implementing Messianic community? Is your imagination as good as John’s? Is your vision any higher, or your calling any greater?
I apologize if I seem to be redundant in my presentation of the current state of Hebrews studies. My original intention was to identify some whys and wherefores, and then jump right into the text. However, I keep coming across these amazing statements by previous authors–statements that reflect gross misunderstanding of the material, and which can only arise through the application of generous doses of anti-Semitism. Continue reading
The View from the Mishkan
by David Negley
Publication Date: March 2014
|Trade Paperback;||108 pages;||ISBN: 9781493162215|
|Trade Hardback;||108 pages;||ISBN: 9781493162222|
What it means to be
“One New Man”
New book explores the role of Gentiles in the Messianic Jewish community
Germantown, Maryland – David Negley has been an Elder at a Messianic synagogue for nearly 25 years. During this time, he has observed the growing debate within the Messianic Jewish community over the role of Gentiles who join the community. In his new book, he highlights key concepts relevant to this topic, based on the contents of Rabbi Paul’s letter to the “EPHESIANS”.
The letter to the Ephesian believers is largely misunderstood these days. While everyone loves Ephesians 2:8 and 9, few are aware of the far-reaching implications to be found in the context surrounding that pair of verses. Ephesians is about kingdoms, community and warfare. It is about the culmination of the Messianic Kingdom and the blending of Jews and Gentiles into one new community in a unity never before dreamed of by either.
This little letter is almost a chapter-for-chapter exposition of Isaiah 55-59. The parallels are fascinating, and carry great significance when considering the meaning conveyed by Rabbi Sha’ul (AKA Paul the Apostle). Readers won’t want to miss out on this study, with its insightful approach to the Scriptures!
“EPHESIANS” can serve as an excellent tool for personal study, devotional reading, or group discussion. It contains well-researched material, but is written in a style that is easily accessible to all readers, young and old. Regardless of age or experience, this work will open the reader’s eyes to new ideas that will make a tremendous impact on his or her life.
Relevant and eye-opening, “EPHESIANS” is a must-read for everyone interested in the message of the Bible—Jews and Gentiles, Christians and Messianics, congregational leaders and “just plain members”. At the core of this book lies a call for unity among followers of Messiah Yeshua, regardless of ethnic background.
To request a complimentary paperback review copy, contact the publisher at (888) 795-4274 x 7879. To purchase copies of the book for resale, please fax Xlibris at (812) 355-4079 or call (888) 795-4274 x 7879.
For more information, contact Xlibris at (888) 795-4274 or on the web at www.Xlibris.com.
About the Author
David Negley obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies at Washington Bible College in Lanham, MD, where he studied between 1985 and 2001. From 1985 to 2007, he served on the Elder board at Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation in Columbia, MD. For 10 years, he directed the education program at Emmanuel, where his duties included the creation of a program for training Jews and Gentiles on how to integrate together into a common community.
So far, we have observed that traditional interpretations of Hebrews end up being anti-Torah and anti-Semitic. This is largely a result, not of exegetical observation of the text, but of assumptions placed upon the text with little to no justification. Like the old saying goes, “You end up seeing what you’re looking for”. That’s what happens when we read Hebrews. Because there is so little direct background information available, we are put in a position of having to superimpose an interpretive framework upon the letter.
Who Wrote It?
With the Pauline epistles, there is invariably a fair bit of context given to us in the letter. The introductions all name the recipients, and we often know something about the relationship between Sha’ul and his audience based on details provided, either in the letter itself, or in Acts. By combining this information with other details from secular history, we can often put together a reasonable understanding of the purpose for the letter.
Practically No Internal Testimony
However, in Hebrews, we have none of that information available to us. There is very little internal evidence in the letter regarding either the author or the recipients, and what we do have is inconclusive. Even, “Those from Rome salute you”, is vague, because it could be used to support either of two possibilities:
- the author is writing from Rome, or
- the author has Roman associates with him, wherever he may be.
What external evidence do we have? A little more, but still very little, and very inconclusive:
The External Testimony
- Clement, Bishop of Rome (95/96CE)
Seems to cite Hebrews in his letter to the Corinthians. Unfortunately, the alleged citations are not explicitly indicated by Clement, and there is no named author provided. So, maybe Clement viewed Hebrews as canonical, and maybe not. Either way, he surely is no help in determining who authored the letter.
- Hyppolytus (~165-240CE)
Expressly denied the Pauline authorship
- Clement of Alexandria (150-215)
Almost 100 years after Clement of Rome, in the last decades of the 100’s, another Clement who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, indicated in his own writings that he believed Hebrews to be both canonical and authored by Rav Sha’ul.
- Origin (185-254CE)
Wrote, “Who wrote the Epistle, only God knows.”
- Cyprian (200-258CE), Bishop of Carthage
Did not recognize the book as canonical at all.
- Eusebius (260-340CE)
Testified to the views of both Clement of Alexandria and a contemporary of Clement named Pantaenus. Both apparently shared the same view—that Sha’ul authored the letter, and that it belonged in the canon.
Basically, once Eusebius documented the view of the earlier Christian leaders, acceptance of the letter as part of the Christian canon was set on a fast track, especially among the Western churches. Events of the late 4th and early 5th centuries contain evidence to this effect. Pauline authorship began to gather increased popularity, and the canonicity of the letter became unquestionable. This is attested to in an unusual decision by the Council of Hippo, in A.D. 393. In their conclusions regarding the books to be included in the canon, they declared they would include, “thirteen epistles to the Apostle Paul, and one by same to the Hebrews.” A few years later, two Councils of Carthage (397 and 419CE) affirmed “fourteen epistles to the Apostle Paul.”
This position held sway in the West until approximately the 16th century, at which time the topic was revisited by the Protestant reformers. Their conclusion was to accept Hebrews on its own merit, recognizing that the author remains anonymous. That is the consensus view until this day (though there remains a fair number who still hold to Pauline authorship, as well).
My own view is that Hebrews is beloved in Christian circles precisely because it is the perfect vehicle for perpetuating gnostic philosophy and theology in the Church. As an illustration, consider this quotation from John Calvin:
I, indeed, without hesitation, class it among apostolical writings; nor do I doubt but that it has been through the craft of Satan that any have been led to dispute its authority. There is, indeed, no book in the Holy Scriptures which speaks so clearly of the priesthood of Christ, so highly exalts the virtue and dignity of that only true sacrifice which he offered by his death, so abundantly treats of the use of ceremonies as well as of their abrogation, and, in a word, so fully explains that Christ is the end of the Law. Let us not therefore suffer the Church of God nor ourselves to be deprived of so great a benefit, but firmly defend the possession of it.
(Commentary on Hebrews, “The Argument”, by John Calvin, 1509-1564)
Let us pay close attention to the thrust of Calvin’s defense for the canonicity of Hebrews. His position is that we must preserve the letter on the basis of its elevation of Yeshua over against all things Jewish or Torah-based! It is my own observation that most non-Messianic followers of “Jesus Christ” tend to agree with Calvin in this summation of his position. This fact is a large part of my own motivation for treating the letter in this series. I intend, over the course of the next few months, to demonstrate that the Letter to the Hebrews, Sefer Ivrim, is nothing more, nor less, than a midrashic approach to resolving the major theological dilemma facing the Jewish community at the close of the first century.
What Makes It Anti-Semitic?
Considering the fact that Hebrews was largely preserved and studied by Gentile members of the Catechetical School of Alexandria, it stands to reason that they enjoyed the letter for its apparent use of allegory and philosophy. As a result, we find two key ideas that generally form the interpretive grid for Hebrews:
The letter was written prior to the destruction of the Temple. This assumption pushes interpreters to conclude that members of the original audience suffered from a tendency to depart from Yeshua, and return to traditional Judaism and the Temple. With such a premise, the interpretation of the letter can only lead to a rebuttal of Judaism, and an elevation of Yeshua over everything even remotely Jewish.
The author was a Hellenistic Jew, like Philo of Alexandria. This assumption is based on the presence of word pictures that appear to reflect Grecian-style Platonic ideology. Claims that reality exists in an alternate dimension, and our material world is only a poor copy is thinking that comes right out of Plato and Aristotle. Because we know of Jewish interpreters, like Philo, who routinely allegorized the Torah in order to make it fit with Greek philosophy, it is assumed that the author of Hebrews shares that characteristic. As a result of these two ideas, we find that Hebrews serves as the basis for a great deal of modern Christian thinking, including anti-Semitic, anti-Torah, anti-Material, and pro-Dualistic tendencies. Really! This is explicitly stated in a classic quotation by a well-known Christian apologist named Walter Martin:
The Book of Hebrews was written by a Hebrew to other Hebrews telling the Hebrews to stop acting like Hebrews. In truth, many of the early Jewish believers were slipping back into the rites and rituals of Judaism in order to escape the mounting persecution. This letter, then, is an exhortation for those persecuted believers to continue in the grace of Jesus Christ.
(Source: Got Questions)
It is no wonder that any attempt to develop an approach to Hebrews that leads one in another direction leads to immediate rebuke and challenge. Nevertheless, in considering how best to frame discussion on this letter, I have decided to re-evaluate those assumptions.
An Alternate Framework
What could I propose as an alternate interpretive grid? What methodology could I suggest that might lead to a different set of conclusions? Conclusions that aren’t fundamentally contrary to the Torah and to the chosen status of Israel?
1. Late, Rather than Early
First of all, let’s take a look at the timing. What evidence is offered to prove that the letter was written prior to the destruction of the Temple? The only semi-factual constraint on the timing of Hebrews is the claim that Clement of Rome cited Hebrews in his letter to the Corinthians. Clement wrote his letter about 95/96 CE, which would put that as the upper boundary for the timing of Hebrews. However, if one carefully examines the alleged citations of Hebrews, one will see that they are based on slim evidence, indeed—no explicit attribution, and each of the three (or four—we aren’t sure!) supposed references containing numerous discrepancies. This is made clear in “The Use of the Old and New Testaments in Clement of Rome”, by Donald Alfred Hagner. Even if we accept that Clement of Rome was citing Hebrews in 96, that gives us a window of 26 years since the destruction of the Temple! There is no reason to presume a pre-destruction date for the authorship of the letter. There was plenty of time in which the letter may have been developed and distributed after the Fall of Jerusalem.
2. Hebraic Author
The fact is, with the exclusion of Luke and Acts, all the rest of the Messianic Writings were penned by Israeli Jews who were immersed in the Torah-based perspective of first century Messianic Jewish expectation. And Luke, who wrote the Gospel and Acts, was a close companion of Rav Sha’ul for many years. He was nothing, if not assimilated into the ways of his Rabbi. It makes no sense to assume the author of Hebrews would have possessed anything other than a Middle Eastern mindset, well versed in Torah and in rabbinic literary techniques. Especially when such style of thinking and writing is so obviously demonstrable in the letter. So, while we may not be able to pin down the precise individual, we will be taking the approach in this study that the author is Jewish (or a convert to Judaism) who has studied under a trained rabbi, and is familiar with the use of PRDS and aggadah as techniques for relating his message.
What Message Is That?
Almost all modern commentators work off the assumption that the letter was written in order to prevent Jewish believers in Yeshua from falling back into the Temple framework. It is generally assumed that the Temple was still standing, and the writer intended to exhort his audience not to return to “pale, dingy, outdated Judaism, with its priesthood and Temple service”. However, I propose that we investigate the letter from the perspective that the Temple had already been destroyed, and the author’s goal was to encourage and console an audience that was absolutely devastated by the sack of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the failure of all their national hopes and dreams.
Messiah was supposed to be the one who made everything right! What went wrong???
Some opening thoughts on Hebrews…
Most studies of Biblical books start out with some standard basics. These basics include information about who wrote the book, to whom it was written, when it was written, and where. Let’s start out that way with Hebrews: Continue reading
At the time of this writing, I am currently teaching through the letter to the Hebrews for an organization called the “Coalition for Torah Observant Messianic Congregations” (CTOMC). Each Wednesday night at 8:00 Eastern Time, we spend about 90 minutes talking about the theme and literary style of this very important letter.
As I prepared for teaching through this letter, I found something remarkable in the text. Continue reading