Monthly Archives: February 2014

Who was Gamaliel ? How and why was his roles significant in the early stages of Christianity?

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In reading the introduction to Acts and scheming through some of the articles that present research regarding the authorship of this text, I have learn a couple of interesting and somewhat knowledgeable facts of things not typically  read or understood on the surface by bible readers. Much of what I have learned of the history of the text, I am not sharing in this current blog but something as simple as finding out that Luke is believed to be the author of this text is interesting. My question this week will focus on who is Gamaliel, and how did he influence Christianity?

When searching through the usual Google search engine for accessible information, my hunt led me to multiple encyclopedias. The encyclopedia had information of Gamaliel and his life which contained multiple aspects and subjects that presented the information somewhat in chronological order. My first Oder of business was to find out who exactly is Gamaliel. I looked up his name because of its form and uniqueness and found that Gamaliel is a masculine proper name, from Greek Gamaliel, and in Hebrew Gamli’el, meaning ‘reward of God,’” and that he was to many etymonline.com. Gamaliel came from a line of leaders dating back to the Old Testament, he was son to “Pedahzur” leader of Manasseh studylight.org. He was also the grandson of the “great Rabbi Hillel,” who was a respected and prominent leader among the Jewish community, he is said to have created the group of Pharisee’s and the Law “Torah” Jewish Encyclopedia. Gamaliel was a “Pharisee” which I thought it would be beneficial to give knowledge of what this word means and where it derived. Pharisee as described by etymonline.com is, “Late Latin Pharisæus, from Greek Pharisaios, from Aramaic perishayya, emphatic plural of perish “separated, separatist,” corresponding to Hebrew parush, from parash “he separated.” Ancient Jewish sect (2c. B.C.E.-1c. C.E.) distinguished by strict observance but regarded as pretentious and self-righteous, at least by Jesus (Matt. xxiii:27). Meaning “self-righteous person, formalist, hypocrite” is attested from 1580s.” Gamaliel was also a doctor of  law which is something he inherited from his grandfather Rabbi Hillel, Gamaliel is also honored by Paul as being his teacher bartleby.com .

During the time of Gamaliel’s life, persecution and criticism towards Gentiles and Jews surrounded Jerusalem and the movement that Christianity or era of Christianity served as a reminder, a aversive relationship felt amongst the community of Romans and elites toward Christians and Gentiles. Gamaliel’s influence toward Christianity is spoken of in Acts the 5th chapter and the 34th verse, yet his influence in increasing the spread of Christianity had been cleverly hidden, but also started way before that of Paul his student, where Paul is known to have a primitive role in Christianity. After reading St. Gamaliel, I was intrigued to find out that St. Stephen was buried at Gamaliel’s home, he is said to have been buried near Stephen, there is also speculation that after Stephens death, he was baptized and converted by Peter and John Catholic Forum. Gamaliel’s life as well as after his death, his reoccurrence in 415 is  considered apocryphal.  The story is explained, “that Gamaliel whom  is dead at this time,  appeared in angelic form on three occasions to Lucian the priest, upon appearing to Lucian, he gave the instructions to, ‘tell bishop john to open the tomb’ where he “Gamaliel,” St.Stephen, and other servants of Christ lay” Relics of St.Stephen . This location had been concealed and could only be known by Gamaliel, upon finding this location and the body of St.Stephen’s an incident which recorded as follows, “Upon the opening of Saint Stephen’s coffin the earth trembled, and there came from the coffin an agreeable scent. There was at that moment a vast multitude of people assembled at the burial place, among whom were many persons afflicted with various maladies; seventy-three recovered their health instantlyRelics of St.Stephen. The history and myths of such a legend is wondrous and is important to the embodiment of Gamaliel’s life and his act to preserve and honor someone such as Stephen and other Christ followers, this is “apocryphal.” The research of his significance in Christianity and his objection to having the apostles flawed instead of stoned was an act of valor. His act of intervening and explaining the reasons why there acts incur a less severe punishment was a catalyst in favoring and of the foundations and progression in Christianities success.

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“How did the Pharisees know that the woman was adulterous?”

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Throughout history and even in our current culture we deal with truths, values, and identity. As any country, we tend to have accusers, many who are vicious,  high minded individuals who judge the lives of others but never looking into their own. These individuals portray themselves as “Good Ol common folk” or those I am particularly interested in identifying from our past that have set the stage for such accusers and their accusations . In john 7 and 8 there is a story of the Pharisees and interesting as the word sounds an “adulterous” woman. In hearing this word “adulterous,” it sounds as if she is of filth. Adultery as Merriam Webster puts it isvoluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband” (Merriam-Webster.com). I have noticed in my lifetime how this behavior has always had this dogma that weighs heavily on the roles for women. In John eight, the scribes and Pharisees bring a woman to Jesus plainly telling him, “ they have caught her committing the act of adultery”… “Now Moses , in the law says this… but what do you say?” My first thought is how they split the law and Moses up distinguishing that Moses a particular person says this but the Law commanded them to “do.” So this was interesting and something I never notice. However, if they caught her in the act they should punish her and not come to someone they had already deemed unworthy to tell them anything. Secondly, why were the Pharisees near her while she was committing the act and where was her partner who she committed the act with her. As I was looking for help to answer the question I read a blog that made great observations while  reading the story. In Jerry Jacques , blog he answered a similar question using previous text in the law of moses. He stated, “The question was not about her guilt, it was about punishment.” He believes that they set the question in a manner so that Jesus had no choice but to agree with Moses or not. By saying, “in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women” (8:5), they put Moses, perhaps the most respected and revered Old Testament figure of the time, as the authority. Asking Jesus, “now what do you say?” is a public call to see if Jesus would challenge Moses (Clearer Perspective). After this he also explains that the Pharisees did not bring the man with her to accuse him also. Pharisee’s which had not honored the full law because they neglected to bring in her partner in crime. Jacques reference Leviticus 20:10, which says, “If  a man commits adultery with another man’s wife — with the wife of his neighbor — both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.” This can also be found in Deuteronomy 22:22 which says, “if a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.” Using the previous evidence, or assuming that Jesus meant they were the sinners when he said “the ones who have not sin or have no sin should cast the first stone” (8:10-11). I believe that John chapter 8 verses 10 and 11  maybe the answer to one of the posed questions. Jesus always knew the heart of people so maybe that is what he saw. Let’s do more digging. It is believable that the Pharisees were the men she commited the act with. Looking into the words of Jesus they were testing him to see if he was not just a man but could understand their craftiness. The humor is trying to discover exactly where these scribes and Pharisees had been, or even understanding the writer’s purpose in describing these events leading to Jesus explaining, “those who are guiltless casting the first stone” (New Jerusalem Bible, John. 8.1-10). Jesus knew more than he let on, he could have been thinking yea you caught her but foolish people seeking to condemn a women and embarrass her in public. Lets not forget he was in front of people teaching which I neglected to pay attention to until I read Jacques  blog.  How they caught her is pretty much a mystery.  There were multiple witnesses because it states both scribes and Pharisees. The fact that after he said these words they had walked away seem so effortless and they didn’t put up much fight because there case lacked sufficient evidence.  Now regarding the importance of the Pharisees and the principles surrounding the judgment or trial were absorbing finds. Searching the Adulterer Women, I came across a couple of blogs both the first one which I mention;  www.clearerperspective.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/the-woman-caught-in-adultery-the-pharisees-mistake/, and this next one  evidenceforchristianity  by Dr. John Oakes. Oakes explains in his blog  the authenticity of the “adulterer message.” He writes, “all the later manuscripts included the passage in John 8. There are only three of all the thousands of Greek manuscripts, which do not include John 8. The problem is that it is the three which are of the earliest and most reliable.  The text, meaning John 8 may not be a reliable source but it has so many interpretations by scholars. But to explain Oakes text, it talks  about the Torah and the Codex Siniaiticus which goes into detail in his  article, “The story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8) is not in the Codex Sinaiticus. How does this relate to biblical infallibility?” The most important part of this article is that he does explain that even if it is not true the inspiration like most of these biblical words are thoughts inspired by God anyway. In summing up points, we find that the Pharisees could be just as guilty of the crime because they failed to commit and follow the full law by bringing in both the man and the woman. This could also allude to their guilt.  In jimmy Akins “9 things you should know about the woman caught in adultery” he really has some interesting thoughts.However, I wanted to mention only one Akin’s thoughts on how Jesus sits back and has this demeanor of who can judge. “While this authoritative reply reminds us that it is only the Lord who can judge, it reveals the true meaning of divine mercy, which leaves open the possibility for repentance and emphasizes the great respect for the dignity of the person, which not even sin can take away.”(http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/9-things-you-should-know-about-the-woman-caught-in-adultery#ixzz2yXtfa0bf).

The Petitions in the Lord’s Prayer

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The Petitions in the Lord’s Prayer

            In our bible literature class, we are currently reading the book of Luke in the New Testament. The importance of  finding a topic that interest me is always difficult because so much of this book has events or stories that any person could expound on. Well this week I decided that I would look into the “Lord’s prayer.” As I have read the prayer that Jesus instructs his disciple to pray, it always makes me think of how a person holds a name holy. What kingdom is coming? How to ask forgiveness of one’s sins, and also how do we forgive one another. In this prayer, much of its topics any person could easily understand, yet many say this is a petition to God and my question is what are these petitions?  Image

In Luke 11: 1-4 one of the disciples inquires of Jesus to teach them how they should pray and in reply Jesus says, “When you pray, this is what to say.” Notice that Jesus did not say this is what you should say but he says “what to say.”  In reading the article biblicalarchaeology.org  it describes this prayer as being a petition to God for daily bread. Daily bread is significant because in the distant future after the disciples this would be a prayer used  by many Christians and Jews to refer to Jesus or the Bible as their daily bread. Jesus significance of dying on the cross was believed to give life and grace for sinners, which is why he is believed to be the bread of life for many Jesus believers. The importance of bread is so profound that many believe it to hold some “mystical powers,” I happened to come across an article by Gary Amirault called Breaking Bread while looking for information on the Lord’s prayer. In this article by Amirault,  he quotes the thoughts of one middle eastern man from Syria , this man gives an account on the sacredness of of bread. In this excerpt he describes the word “aish” which means bread; “the life giver” and similar to what many believe the crucifixion of Jesus was for many of his followers BreakingBread.

I thought I would share the excerpt that Amirault used in his article to illustrate how important bread is to Middle Eastarn culture,

 “As the son of a Syrian family I was brought up to think of bread as possessing a mystic sacred significance. I never would step on a piece of bread fallen in the road, but would pick it up, press it to my lips for reverence, and place it in a wall or on some other place where it would not be trodden upon. What always seemed to me to be one of the noblest traditions of my people was their reverence to the “aish” (bread; literally “the life-giver”). While breaking bread together we would not rise to salute an arriving guest, whatever the social rank. Whether spoken or not, our excuse for not rising and engaging in the cordial (Near East) salutation before the meal was ended, was our reverence for the food (hir-metal-aish). We could, however, and always did, invite the newcomer most urgently to partake of the repast The aish was something more than mere matter. Inasmuch as it sustained life, it was God’s own life made tangible for his child, man, to feed upon. The Most High Himself fed our hunger. Does not the psalmist say, “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing.”? (From The Syrian Christ by Abraham Rihbanypublished 1916.)” (http://www.tentmaker.org/BreakingBread/2.html).

              The Lord’s prayer is believed by many scholars and historians as being the seven petitions and I only discuss six. The first petition starts off with the “Lords name being held holy.” In a commentary by Matthew Henry he gives the meaning of each line and it’s importance to the completion of the prayer lords-prayer1. In this first stanza, he equates the name of God as being a name that evokes praise and thanksgiving. He does not see the name as for alms but for the good that name itself holds, his translation of being held holy is the “sanctification and adoration.” In reading the Vatican’s interpretation, it that calling on this name will draw each individual into his plan that begin during the first times” Vatican. The history of the name of God was a mystery which was revealed slowly in the beginning of the bibles literature and was as the Vatican writes, “inaccessible to the people.” As time went on it was slowly revealed to Moses to set forth restoration and good which is one of the many reasons it is held holy and should remain holy Vatican. The name was not given easily and a name as the bible says should be used in vain. In the second stanza, it talks about the kingdom coming something we read in Matthew and Luke as John the Baptist declares, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

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The Vatican writes, “In the New Testament, the word basileia can be translated by “kingship” (abstract noun), “kingdom” (concrete noun) or “reign” (action noun) It may even be that the Kingdom of God means Jesus himself, whom we daily desire to come, and whose coming we wish to be manifested quickly to us.” “For as he is our resurrection, since in him we rise, so he can also be understood as the Kingdom of God, for in him we shall reign” Vatican.

This is believed by historians  to be the calling of Jesus in his last coming, and it is said in this line that one pleads to see the finish work of grace on earth. In the third stanza is illustrates, “giving us each day our daily bread” as a petition to those who believe Jesus was the son of God, these people will see God as their father and Jesus as his son. This explains the bread as being the nourishment needed to sustain life. The Vatican explains that the nourishment has levels in which help to sustain life. The bread gives life , prayer which keeps the person in constant communication with God, and the reading of the word which one feeds on daily, completing the word as food for daily bread.  In the fourth and fifth stanza, I thought it best to combined both petitions because as historians translate one can only be forgiven if he has forgiven others for their sins.  These debts, trespasses, or sins are the things that are wrong  both according to the law of Moses and the new covenant set up by the life of  Jesus. In this stanza, one can only be forgiven if he has forgiven others. Therefore, unless this one piece of the prayer is carried out entirely then the Christian or Jesus believers petitions are deemed void and inaccessible. if one has not showed enough love to forgive another then their prayer should not be heard. In the last stanza, which is my favorite it says put us not to the test but in all what is the test? The test is whether one will be tempted by evil or the evil one. In the commentary by Matthew Henry he translates evil in the last stanza as  “APOTOUPONHROU,” the wicked one lords-prayer6 . Satan is expressly called OPONHROS, the wicked one , he is sorrow, sin, and evil. In the Lord’s prayer one pleads for the holiness and confidence in God. The prayer is to be victorious and having a holy character from within to the outer character and also being victorious. This prayer is pleading for the deliverance of a person from evil and to be dressed with cleanliness and the Vatican explains, “we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God.” These petitions are exhortations explain that the person is sinful but in confession hoping for mercy and redemption and to see the Kingdom come and above all understand the beauty of forgiving and forgiveness Vatican!

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