July 11, 1979.
January 11, 1980
At first they struck fear into the heart of man and he tried to placate them. Then he began to see them as a source of good and evil so he began to worship them. Then various codes of law or conduct toward each other were referred to this God. But always this God was out in the distance and unapproachable. Wisdom was fear of God.
Then Christian thought began to develop. God was seen as father because men were to be brothers. And then the very spirit of family that was to exist between husband & wife, between parents & children, between family & family, was seen as this power greater than the individual. This spirit is God. If and when this spirit is established then all tasks can be accomplished and enjoyed. Disharmony is the opposite of God -- that is Satan, the adversary.
January 12, 1980.
January 17, 1980.
Too often forgiveness is seen as a simple “I’m sorry” and then the whole issue is swept under the rug. Forgiveness demands at least two people. Each is helping the other to see where the improvement is possible or necessary and each helps the other to take the step forward.
February 24, 2980.
Three basic guidelines were given to offset these difficulties. Man has to earn a living but there must be a plan for this. Secondly, this plan has to proceed from produce or foresight. It doesn’t just happen. Finally, he must not stop short on an intermediate or partial goal even though this may seem easier and sufficient.
These are valid principles for life of any person. Plan wisely - look ahead - keep reaching out.
February 25, 1980.
The first Christians and Jesus applied this notion to him. Jesus was the fulfillment of this dream-shepherd. But his application was unheard of. He would separate his flock. Only the sheep would be kept. The sheep were those who helped others in their daily needs. There would be nothing spectacular. But the reward would be the unity and community that lend strength and ability to their lives.
February 29, 1980.
June 8, 1980.
June 13, 1980.
August 6, 1980.
October 26, 1980.
The special note about talents in the teaching of Christ is that he does not favor the loser. The one who had received the minimal had buried his talent for fear of losing it. In the reckoning he lost even that talent because he had not used it, and was excluded from the kingship. The one who already had ten talents received more.
The teaching of Christ stresses that no matter how small the action, if it is the result of your industry, it will be fully rewarded.
December 27, 1980.
January 28, 1981.
In Genesis 2, the writer stresses how everything is made for the good and use of man, except woman. Without her he cannot succeed in any way or be happy. With her, he can reach his fulness but only if he sees her as his partner and true equal.
March 25, 1981.
Luke was intrigued at the role played by the Jewish family in the formation of this child and use of his abilities. So he wrote his whole gospel from this viewpoint. Then he showed how this same spirit gave rise to and formed the Christian community.
June 2, 1981.
June 12, 1981.
The writers stress that the actual origin is hidden or unknown because no one was there to witness it. However, as we look at the universe from the world in which we live, we can see that there is a definite plan being followed. Today we call this the balance of nature, the web of life, the food chain, and the interdependence of all things on each other. This plan is well thought out and geared toward success. But the plan does not run itself. This is the work of mankind. His place in the plan is the controller, the leader, the user. He can accomplish this only in a society founded on mutual respect and understanding of each other.
That is chapter one of Genesis. Then successively we get the origin of society in marriage, the origin of problems against this society in greed. anger, quarreling & selfishness. The writers present no empty idyll or utopia. Selfishness will always be present. It is the duty of those who know better to remove the selfishness, to establish harmony & peace, and to give success to the overall plan.
The book ends in a story of the failure against the plan and the way in which the failure could be turned to success. The stories of Adam, Noah, Sem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are all of unending value. The circumstances change but the questions, problems, and successes remain the same.
August 16, 1981.
No matter when I’ve sat down to work on the biblical ideas, I have always felt a surge of enthusiasm. I see the answers to all the ills in the world because human problems have been solved by suffering and fore-sighted people through the centuries. Those people had lived in the East and the West as leaders and slaves, domineering and submissive, and their thinking men and women had evolved a philosophy of life that adapted itself to all new situations. There are no ready-made answers for utopian existence in the Bible. There are guidelines to be thought through in each situation.
There is an ever present danger in the study or use of the Bible. People want to invest it with magical formulae and power. They want to see instant holiness, happiness and success just because they read the words or hold the book.
August 17, 1981.
First of all, it is a universal scene - everybody is included. Then Jesus is referred to first as the Son of Man. This is his act as The Human Being. In the next sentence he is call “The King” and God is the Father. The picture described is the firm, final and eternal establishment of the brotherhood of man in the fatherhood of God. Verse 34 is the one that always catches my attention.
Then comes the really consoling part. Christ is talking. He says, I was hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger, sick and in prison. And you cared for all my needs. Christ as the first-born in the family identifies all the brothers and sisters with himself. Thus the family of mankind is being established.
That list is drawn up according to the life circumstances of those days in the Roman Empire. Today the list would be longer and a bit different but the idea would be the same. You identify yourself as a child and heir of the family of man by the way in which you help those around you to become truly human.
Heaven will be the full enjoyment and continued living in this human family. The other side of the picture is the emptiness, waste, and frustration of not belonging simply because a person did not use the opportunities offered.
August 18, 1981.
September 21, 1981.
September 28, 1981.
October 25, 1981.
This is what makes the Gospel message so different and amazing. Christ reacted against the negativism. He turned the threats and punishment on those who were insincere and dishonest - the Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees. He was kind and gentle and tender toward those who were the victims of this narrow outlook. Then the communities founded by Luke and John especially turned the whole picture around in a teaching filled with salvation, community sharing, love expressed in action, and positive human worth.
November 10, 1981.
We had always been taught that the Old Law was a law of fear and the New Law a law of love. It is easier to threaten than to win by other persuasive words. Punishment brings immediate compliance in most cases even though it is not a willing obedience.
This contrast explains why the teaching of Jesus took such a hold in the beginning. But then as the leaders saw how much individual responsibility the New Law demanded, they turned back deliberately to authoritarianism and emasculated Christian freedom and growth.
November 15, 1981.
December 6, 1981.
In the post-factum introduction to the life of Christ, Matthew saw the same event of importance for the same reason to the New Testament people. The Jews had turned more and more to the sensual lustful religion of the Greco-Roman world. Christ had called them away from this to the ideals of the Father. Therefore “A son has been born, has been given us.” Just as the child of the king in the OT was a symbol of the favor of God to start again. so the birth of Christ was in the N.T.
December 7, 1981.
Then came the Jewish god. He was just, holy, understanding, kind - but omniscient, all-powerful and ready to punish all evil. He would take up the cause of the righteous people but not necessarily in their lifetime. It might come about only three or four generations hence. Finally, they were sure it would all balance out with the coming of the Messiah.
Jesus comes and gives us the New Testament picture of god. He is a Father in whom the family of man is to be established. Jesus talks very little of the future in the sense of the next life. He stressed that there is no love of God nor service of God except the love, service and sacrifice that is made to and for your fellow man. All prayer, all religion forgiveness had to take place in the immediate part of the family of man in which you lived. The final outcome of Christ’s way of life would be a peace, harmony, understanding, service and mutual love of each other based on your love of self.
Luke stresses the day-to-day living. Matthew & John show the importance of daily living but definitely talk of a final squaring of accounts so each receive true justice. They don’t say how or when. That’s as far as the Christian message goes. All the emphasis should be on the establishment of the ideal here & now.
December 20, 1981.
December 21, 1981.
Seemingly, 3700 years ago the nomads who were the ancestors of the Jews left Ur of the Chaldees, near the Persian Gulf and started their centuries long trek to Egypt. There in Egypt, these ancestors joined the Hyksos or foreigners who ruled Egypt for a few years. Then the natives enslaved all the Hyksos including the Jews. Finally these slaves saw a chance to escape and took off for the desert. After a few generations of rebellion, civil wars, and other fighting they arrive at the trans-Jordan area and begin to slaughter the native Philistines. This state of warfare went intermittently from 1250 - 1000 B.C. Then finally under the leadership of Saul and David the Jews established themselves as the rulers of Palestine. Solomon organized the Kingdom and had a lot of international power because he controlled the crossroads between Egypt and Europe and the Middle East. His rule was terribly oppressive. Upon his death there was a civil war and a split in the Kingdom - 929 B.C. Thus there was a united people in charge of Palestine for exactly 75 years.
The kings almost vied with each other for corruption, oppression, and injustice. The prophets alone spoke out strongly and bitterly against these kings. Then in 722 B.C. the Northern Kingdom was overrun and destroyed by the five kingdoms to the East. Then in spite of warnings and pleas by prophets, the southern Kingdom in Jerusalem was decimated in 588 B.C. and the small group of Jews was taken into the neo-Babylonian captivity. Finally in 538 B.C. the remnant was allowed to return as a slave group to their home country. From that time to 1947 A.D. the Jews were never again a free nation with a country. Then in 1947 A.D. the new Israel by physical force and intrigue took back what they claimed is their country or homeland, given to them by their God. But they fail to say that the same document which gives them the land takes it away once and for all because of infidelity.
December 26, 1981.
January 13, 1982.
Each individual is to be a seasoning of all the people & events. All the good qualities of each person are to be intermingled and yet keep individuality. Each person gives and receives. This will make the Christian or human society.
January 21, 1982.
Christ says, “I have come not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it.” Success built on the detraction of others does not last long. With one sentence the whole of Christian thought is founded on a solidly positive outlook. The basic failure of mankind as shown right from the Adam & Eve story is to put the blame on someone else. This lets the guilty party avoid his own failures or do nothing about them. Christian thought is self-centered as a starting point. You must love yourself first or you have no value for others. And you must correct yourself first or improvements will never be well-grounded.
January 26, 1982.
In 2 Timothy, Paul uses the 3 comparisons: the athlete who has played hard and is now recognized in the Hall of Fame; a soldier who has fought hard but now the battle is won; a farmer who has worked & toiled and now the harvest is gathered into the barn and he can enjoy the fruits of his labors. However, he starts to plan for next year.
February 7, 1982.
February 8, 1982.
July 3, 1982.
January 1, 1983.
January 18, 1983.
If the ideal of Christ, or the truly human ideal can be revitalized in any lives, it will make people happier and more productive in their world. This is the genius of a really human ideal. It builds for the good of the whole society of man but the building blocks are the individual worth of each person.
October 16, 1983.
The plan gradually evolved into a power structure and the same kind of enslavement they had run away from. Jesus rebelled against the structure by recalling the Qahal. In Greek, this is “ekklesia” and “koinonia” is the “gathering” and “sharing.” The plan or ideal was to establish the dignity and sharing of this with each other.
Gradually, the monolith called the Church became a power structure, working from the top that took the vitality and vigor out of the ideal.
December 29, 1984.
The Christian ideal has an inherent power because it is human. If this power is allowed to develop inside human society, the sense of peace, creative productivity and sharing could be established.
July 1, 1985.
The resentment of the Arabs smoldered until they are strong enough to strike back at everyone until they get their land back. Israel has developed the country so it is more desirable for the Arabs.
Secondly, the hatred that has kept the Jewish people united is strong. As long as this hatred is alive, I foresee wars and threats of wars. It’s true, they have been brutally treated because of their racial unity. Yet, their whole philosophy insists they must never become a living part of any nation in which they live. The U.S. is the only country where they have been fairly well integrated.
July 2, 1985.
In actual fact, it pulled the floor right out from under all organized apologetic courses and fundamental theology books. It put responsibility for action and decision back on each individual and restored the center of the Christian ethic. The organized church could never accept this and so discussion was stopped.
January 9, 1986.
The other point was far better taken. The description of the end of the world in the Apocalyptic literature and in the Apocalypse of Matthew, c. 25, was taken from the descriptions and fears and superstitions about Halley’s Comet. The Comet had appeared in 64 AD. Matthew’s Gospel was in its final version about 100 AD.
February 23, 1986.
May 6, 1987.
The Bible is a collection of short writings flowing from the Jewish culture in the face of other cultures through the centuries. The Bible is important because of the formational role it has played in western civilization.
June 27, 1987.
I don’t think Christ himself ever said anything except his plea for the poor Jews who were overrun by the Jewish and Roman leaders. Christ was a strong social reformer, highly gifted, totally dedicated, fearless in the face of inhumane structure. He died in the same martyr frame of mind as the Maccabee family in the century before. He had intense followers the same as they (Maccabees).
When the Romans took the ideas, they spread to all the Roman Empire. They rewrote the ideas in the legalistic structural framework of the Roman mentality and society.
July 6, 1987.
July 23, 1987.
You talked about faith and its strength. I think you have a lot of faith - not in a god you cannot see or some miraculous way of dispelling difficulty. You have faith in human capabilities but it is tempered by each person’s limits & efforts and by the cooperation of people who work in the same area.
It involves a struggle for each person of each new generation. We know from experience how necessary this is. If too much is given to a person, it is not appreciated and is soon gone or neglected.
As for life hereafter or some sort of continuance in being, I feel sure each person continues to enjoy what he/she has made self to be. I don’t know how because it is the next stage of life.
December 25, 1987.
The notion of the Kingdom of God or the Reign of God as the establishing of the family of man is the thought that appeals most to me and is at the basis of biblical ideas.
The phrase “of God” in Greek is the epexegetic genitive. This means the Kingdom which is God. When John says in his first letter “God is spirit,” he is saying the same thing in a clearer fashion. God is as real and as powerful as the spirit of mankind established by the sense of family built up from the basic family unit at all times. It is universal in scope but always local in practice except for occasional large gatherings.
March 29, 1988.
June 20, 1988.
Then the synoptic gospels offered the various aspects of the Kingdom of Heaven as the counteraction. Finally by 125 AD the Joannine writer was able to take the analogies of Life and Death, seed, plant and fruit, death and renewal, and show how all of these were to be established in this life by the sincere respect and love the people had for each other, and shared in their community meals or family meals. I think the "ritual" as seen in John was every meal (evening) was to be an expression of "Koinonia" as the Passover had been for the Jews. The Christian life would then change death into life as Christ had done by his willingness to die for his ideals.
This, I think, is the essence of Christian ideals. It is a philosophy of life with no community larger than the local one, no ritual other than a family meal or a potluck supper, and no organization other than world about them. This would become "the eternal life" of John - the life that would last forever.
June 22-27, 1988.
July 4, 1988.
The Christians are not to be an isolated little people like the Jews. They are to go everywhere. They are not to live in ghettoes but to mingle with everyone and bring about "the perfect & harmonious working together of everything in the world." This perfect harmony is "I am" or the Divine Presence.
All this would be readily understandable to Matthew's readers: the Jewish Christians. It had to be explained and applied for John's Gentile followers. He called it "love eis telos" (cc.13-17)
November 13-14, 1988.
As the society progresses, 3 other men appear: Saul, David, Solomon. Progress must be made by a "request" from the group. This request must be based on "love." This love must be expressed in "Wisdom." This is an ideal picture of individual and community responsibility that did not reach fulfillment in OT.
November 28, 1988.
March 8, 1989.
Then Christ comes along and the people want him to be a king. The people still have the OT notion of king and kingdom. Christ then develops his idea in keeping with and developing further the ideas of the prophets and wise men of the OT.
The basic NT idea of kingship means that each person is made "personally responsible" for his or her own development and how this is to be carried out by oneself and in relation to others. The kingdom never ends because the person is continuously growing or developing.
March 16, 1989.
May 28, 1989.
January 25, 1990.
February 2, 1990.
I propose the basic message of the Gospel is personal responsibility expressed in continual growth as a better person. This responsibility is to be expressed in all circumstances of daily life.
February 19, 1990.
March 22, 1990.
May 17, 1990.
Then each collection of stories and sayings develops one key aspect of the news. The Petrine (Mark) message stresses the vitality & dynamism of the story. The Pauline (Luke) points constantly to the justice or "wholeness" of the story. The Matthean picture is the orderliness of this Kingship. The Joanine picture brings every detail down to the effectiveness of true Love.
May 18, 1990.
In the first few generations, there was no problem. The writings were in their culture. Then the Roman mentality took over and the theologians began to impose their ideas into the foreign culture. The 'good news" was emasculated and the dogmatic structure was born. This gave rise to the hierarchy and the vitality of the gospel message was buried in terms and laws.
June 20, 1990.
The article suggested the possible influence of the "Essene" group on Christian communities. It was well-established that there was a close tie-up between this group and the Joanine communities. The literary use of Light & Darkness in the Joanine writings would show this. The tradition about John as the favored disciple and his being put in charge of the women and Mary also point in this direction.
I can still hear Skehan telling about the scrolls. He stressed how many of the pieces were too small to be read with the naked eye, how little they were, and how much patience it took to fit two pieces together without forcing them.
June 27, 1990.
September 4, 1990.
September 11, 1990.
I’m sure I read everything M.J ever wrote. The Revue Biblique started in 1920. We had every issue in Oc-oc. As a student I started at the beginning and read up to 1948. I translated many of the articles for other students and made notes on almost everything M.J. said. I used some of his ideas for my presentation in Fundamental Theology in the seminary.
M.J. taught opening that there is no biblical basis for papal infallibility - even though it was defined in 1870.
September 15, 1990.
September 17, 1990.
September 19, 1990.
I don’t want the commentary to read like a homily or sermon. I don’t want it to sound “preachy.” I want it to have the zest of good news. When a person brings “news,” the listeners are automatically fired up and want to listen. If it’s “news,” they talk about it and hand it on to others.
September 20, 1990.
September 30, 1990.
The stories are refined to a good format but I have not added the final touch to any of them. I want each story to stand independently.
I have handled the Bible-Science controversy to my satisfaction. The Bible stories, following the Semitic mentality, always ask the question “Why do things happen?” They are not concerned with “how.” Science is concerned with “how.” There is no conflict between the two accounts. Bible and Science complement each other.
August 5, 1991.
He challenged the leading parties of the day: Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees he told off publicly in the excoriating list of “Woes.” The Sadducees he drove out of the temple with a whip & dumped their money table on the floor.
His apostles - Judas, his treasurer, sold him out for the price of a slave. Peter, his leader, told everyone he had never heard of him. The other ten took off and ran. John, the teenager, came back on Calvary. At the foot of the cross were his mother, Magdalen and a teenager. On the Sunday before, the crowds couldn’t shout their approval loud enough. On Friday, the same crowds couldn’t cry their hatred loud enough. Many of them were the same crowd he fed in the desert. They were the sick he cured, the blind he gave sight.
Yes, he was abandoned and destroyed physically. But his message won out for a few years. Some of the people came back and followed his ideas and ideals for awhile. Then, at the instigation of the same Jewish leaders, Rome started a new persecution. In 313, with the Edit of Milan, the persecutions were over for a few years until the structure of the church took over.
October 25 1991.
February 7, 1992.
April 29, 1992.
First of all, Sukenik made no decisions on his own but went immediately to the L’Ecole Biblique to ask M.J. LaGrange and Roland DeVaux for their opinions and advice. The “Jewish scholars” were the Rabbis of the time and they were much like the Rabbi in “Fiddler on the Roof.” They could read Hebrew words and then spout Talmudic or Mishnaic applications. These men were not equipped for the grueling work that was involved (scrolls).
Pat Skehan, Roland Murphy and Ed Arbez went over for a summer. Pat felt it was much more important for him to keep the Semitics dept at Catholic U alive. Arbez could not stand the political intrigue between the OP’s and SJ’s. That’s why he left Jerusalem in the first place. Murphy got his SSL and came back to keep the CBQ afloat. The Revue Biblique and the Biblican kept us in monthly touch with all developments.
As they continue to study the Scrolls, I predict that there will be closer and closer ties established between the Joanine Christians and the Essences or Hasidim. The basic point is “Light and Darkness.”
July 27, 1992.
September 10, 1992.
The key word is “Bara,” which means simply “he begot a son.” The existence of the universe is the evidence of the fatherhood of God which founds the brotherhood of men. As one writer said, God gave us grain but not flour, He gave us fruit but not pies. Everything is here for people to use in order to enjoy.
September 11, 1992.
In reality, the Genesis account explicitly teaches one point: the way in which the human family was supposed to manifest the fatherhood of God in the world about. The family failed often.
Finally, Christ comes along and the Word or Plan of the Father is expressed. Hence in the life of Christ and those who lived his ideals, we could finally see the purpose of the universe. The role of Christ's followers was to make the plan of the Father a reality and establish the "Spirit of Christ” in the world.
October 28, 1992.
The author mentions all the controversy through the ages about this book. There was a battle royal at Trent because many Bishops thought it was lewd and salacious. The monks were never to read the Bible. Alphonsus (founder of Redemptorists) was opposed to this prudishness.
November 16, 1992.
December 12, 1992.
Paul had a chronic sickness which knocked him flat for a day or two regularly. Luke was his personal physician. Barny Ahern said the descriptions sounded like stomach ulcers to him. Ireneus talked about it a few times but he clearly did not like Paul’s approach to life.
March 16, 1993.
July 18, 1993.
August 23, 1993.
However, the idea that women will be able to reverse this male dominance in the Roman structure seems almost impossible to me. If they had the equivalent of a Jesus Christ who was willing to throw the whole structure over board, they might gain a hearing. However, the ecclesiastical courts will never buy the change and the civil courts are out of their jurisdiction.
My suggestion would be to start their own Church and work from scratch. I proposed this separation years ago to major superiors of nuns with regard to Cardinal Protectors. Some did it with success.
August 31, 1993.
Later on, the Roman Catholic structure sent its armies into the same areas to offset the trouble in Europe and to pick up land and coins for the Vatican treasury. Yet, the Judeo-Christian faith is supposed to be rooted in love of the neighbor, doing good to the enemy and helping those who hate you. The Good Samaritan would be laughed out of town, today in many a Judeo-Christian setting.
September 17, 1993.
When all are gathered, they have the “Koinonia” or ‘sharing.” They share their company, their conversation, their food and drink, and go away enriched and ready for life again. This meaning was attached particularly to the one cup of wine at the “Seder” because of its historical significance. This cup shared was designated as the living symbol of Christ.
December 26, 1993.
February 4, 1994.
February 15, 1994.
March 8, 1994.
March 12, 1994.
March 28, 1994.
April 2, 1994.
Secondly, the synoptics clearly present the whole public life of Christ as covering one year, no more. John seems to stretch the events over two or three years.
Jesus was a simple artisan who worked in wood or stone. He was a deep thinker and a leader by temperament. He was a nobody from Nazareth in the eyes of the leaders in Jerusalem. He went about talking his ideas and quickly had a following so he picked out some helpers, the 12, and started to work the crowds. He went to Jerusalem to get recognition but his temper flared in the Temple, and the leaders decided this was one more fanatic who had to be silenced by death. Jesus did not flee because he was convinced of his ideas and work, and figured they would go on even better after his death.
However, as the sufferings and death unfolded, his courage hit bottom a few times and he expressed his fears. He died. He became a hero. His work went on.
Did he truly “rise” from the dead or are the various apparitions simply the discovery of his true meaning and value by his followers? This is a dilemma that has not been resolved.
April 7, 1994.
Christ teaches the key notion that the world must come to its “telos.” This means “end” in the sense of “completion.” As in Genesis, the picture is a place of harmony, peace and creativity through the governance and use of mankind. When mankind establishes the universe in this perfection, then all people will share according to the degree they have developed themselves in this lifetime.
April 12, 1994.
April 13, 1994.
April 14, 1994.
April 24, 1994.
May 19, 1994.
The points at issue in the women's conference were not really derived from the Bible. Their objections were due rather to the male-dominated church and society in Christian times. The Old Testament pictures gave great importance to women all the way through the story from Eve to the Mother of the Maccabees.
May 31, 1994.
So what does (Holy) Orders mean except a fear that someone will show up the emptiness of the vaunted (male) supremacy.
June 1, 1994.
July 3, 1994.
By wasting our time and discussion on creationism, we avoid the important questions of bringing the world to serve its true purpose.
August 6, 1994.
The Biblical notion of Peace is the sum total of all that is good for a person physically, spiritually, mentally and morally. People were not only supposed to wish peace to each other but to work to make it happen.
The old Romans talked about the Pax Romana. This, however, meant cessation of war because no one was able to stand up against the Roman Legions. Gradually the church took over this notion and the full meaning of peace was shunted aside.
August 17, 1994.
Finally, in 520 B.C, Hagai started to push them to action. He knew that temple had to be rebuilt as a symbol of hope. He talked for 5 years and in 515 B.C. the temple was up. It was a far cry from the glory of Solomon's Temple but the prophet told them not to worry. A person greater than Solomon would enter their temple. What he meant, no one knows. Later on, when Jesus entered this temple, the saying was applied to him as a prophecy.
The conversion of the Remnant was short-lived. They were soon marrying the pagans and joining the cults. In fact, apart from a few spurts of conversion, the religious history of the Jews was downgraded right to the taking over by the Romans in 70 B.C. and the final destruction in 70 A.D.
October 12, 1994.
The Jewish leaders tried first to stop Jesus by ridicule, legalistic criticism, and "hounding." They attacked his followers but the followers were smart enough to let Christ do the talking. Christ did not stay in town overnight and did not camp in the same place all the time. When they finally caught Christ, it was because he deliberately walked into their hands. It was time to back his talk with action. He deliberately chose the time of his death.
October 20, 1994.
November 7, 1994.
This was the basic change made by Christian teaching. Everyone, all people, had equal rights. In the beginning, most of the Christians were from the "under" class so they lived this universal standard. Then some of the upper crust converted and the old class system returned. The official teaching has never changed on the books.
The notion of love is another aspect of this same principle. The basic rule is Love Yourself - share your love with others. This mutual love will be the expression of love of God. As Jesus says: "That's it! You don't need any other commandments if this love is established."
November 21, 1994.
Jesus started out on his own and continued to talk about his ideas. He decided something should be done about the way the Torah was being taught by the leaders of the Jews. He started an itinerant teaching job, which was quite a common practice at the time. His basic ideas developed and he got a group of followers as they all did. His followers continued to grow until it became a nuisance to the leaders and Jesus was stopped. But the followers were convinced and carried on his ideas. Many groups developed but four main groups stayed alive and what we have comes from them. (four gospels)
November 24-25, 1994.
I'm not sure what to hold about the Resurrection. The first Christians saw the value of his message and began to live by it. The notion of Christian sharing quickly caught on and the Gospel picture of Christ and his teachings is given us from the way it had developed in certain area from 70-125 AD.
The persecutions by the Romans insured the vitality of the first groups and their independence. When Constantine converted in 313 AD, he brought along the structure of Rome and the official religion status. In short order, the vitality and adaptability of the "Way of Life" was swallowed up in Laws, Hierarchy and rituals.
November 26, 1994.
December 12, 1994.
December 21, 1994.
The gospels took their name from their origins. Mark is written by the followers of Peter. They saw how powerful the plan of Jesus was in the face of slavery, idolatry, lust and all the other corruption of Rome. Luke was with Paul and came to the Gospel from the pagan world. Luke was an educated man, worked with the sick and ailing, and saw what a "saved society" could be and do. His special genius was to extend this Good News to all people and especially the role of women. The people following Matthew saw the fidelity of God to his plan and were looking for evidence of fulfillment of previous promises. The followers of John were into their 5th generation Christians before they recorded their summary. Their insight was the most complete. The writers were clearly literary scholars and used their abilities to present the Good News.
Mutual love is the basic aspect of the Good News in John. It is presented in a strong intellectual way that can appeal to everyone.
I think it is a good idea to study the same incident in the various gospel stories. However, the purpose would be to see the varied touch of the artists, not to push them together
December 22, 1994.
January 8, 1995.
January 10, 1995.
No Gospel stories present Christ as a quitter. He confronts the leaders and their false ideas. We are told several times that he hid or left to avoid being taken. Finally, Christ decided he had to end his life where his talking was, and he went on public trial.
January 11, 1995.
January 14, 1995.
We had a long discussion at a Biblical meeting on the personality of Christ. There were about 15 of us sitting around. Roland Murphy brought up the question. He ignored the whole theological question about the 2nd person of the Trinity. He was just interested in how Jesus appeared to people. We finally decided it would depend on which Gospel writer was talking. Luke draws a word picture that is much like his own personality.
January 18, 1995.
January 19-20 1995.
January 22, 1995.
Sometimes it is easy to see the balance between justice and mercy or punishment and forgiveness. At other times, this decision is far more difficult. I believe the rights of everyone have to be presented and judged, not just the rights of the evildoer or criminal. Punishment should not become revenge but the feelings and rights of the injured party have to get full consideration. It is clearly a thorny problem and the biblical picture will be one viewpoint.
January 23, 1995.
The fact that there were over 100 Messiahs who had popped up the previous few years didn't help the picture. He knew from the experience of others how fast he would be deserted.
January 25, 1995.
As a young boy, he received a thorough and clear picture of what the term "chosen People" really entails. He did not meet the legalistic, shallow approach until his Bar Mitzvah in the Temple. He was accepted as a brilliant kid by the leaders but he saw how asinine their teachers were. He felt an unshakeable urge to teach the true meaning of the covenant. Gradually, the idea of his own New Covenant and new "Qoheleth" - church - took shape. But he saw that this would mean total rejection and death. He fought this internal battle all his life. He felt he had to express his ideas and he wanted nothing of the pain and suffering.
The issues came to a head. He ran away several times. Then the last night, he fought it to a standstill. He decided "I have to do what I know is right regardless of consequences." Then the struggle was over and he said "Let's go!"
February 4, 1995.
Jesus used this very example for the meaning of death. If the seed doesn't die, it remains alone. If it dies it bring forth a whole new crop. So death is the stepping stone to new life. What is it like? Christ risen gives some answers. Mary Magdalen looked right at him and didn't recognize him till he spoke. Then he would suddenly appear and disappear. His goal in life was to bring this world to "completion."
How do we do it? He emphasized "Koinonia" or "sharing." Once we established human sharing, we'll stop stupid useless wars, fights and destruction. Cooperation will bring total completion..
February 8, 1995.
I think John tells us. He calls the miracles "signs." That is, these extraordinary deed were "signs" of what we as followers and by "sharing" were to do in our world. We were to care for the sick, help the poor and needy, educate the people, etc. Jesus did all these things by miracles in order to get the show started and point the way. Now we do the same thing by ordinary cooperation.
Hospitals, nurses, doctors, medical personnel, restaurants, grocery stores, clothing marts, - all these businesses and institutions are the fulfillment of the ideal if they operate on fair and just principles. Over and above this, some works of almsgiving are needed. It makes sense.
February 15, 1995.
February 17, 1995.
The other deeper reason is that Luke is attempting to summarize the picture as preached by Paul. As we can see from the Letters, Paul was all over the map ideologically and geographically.
February 18, 1995.
Then Jesus has the Apostles wait in the Upper Room until they receive the Holy Breath which we can send only after atoning for the death penalty of the first Adam. This he did by rising from the dead and ascending to the Father. The role of the Christians is to share (Koinonia) this Holy Breath, the new creation, and spread it to the world. The church is the Qahel, the gathering of each little group to strengthen each other for every job, emergency problem or sorrow.
February 22, 1995.
Then the emphasis shifts from God to people. Jesus is concerned about how and why people should live together in peace, harmony and lead productive lives.
February 23, 1995.
The Israelites did not follow the guidelines of the teachers most of the time but there were new teachers for each generation who were convinced and developed the ideas and principles farther. Jesus was just one more in this line of teachers with the distinction of developing the picture more in detail.
February 27, 1995.
The New Testament picks up the same questions. Christ and the first teachers stress that true "koinonia" or "full sharing" among all people is the only possible answer. This sharing takes effort at all times, and it only takes one person to spoil it in any group.
This is why the communal meal among a small group of friends was to be the principal source and sign of the sharing. A few outsiders were to be invited into the meal but the group was to be small enough for everyone to know each other. The ideal is there. It is expressed in the summary of how to pray, the Our Father, and the guidelines of action, the ten Commandments.
March 3, 1995.
March 14, 1995.
March 21, 1995.
March 22, 1995.
Our oldest documents, Didache, Apostolic Kerygma, and Apostolic fathers, do not comment on these parts of the Gospel. Mark has introductory stories but starts right off with John Baptist preaching and baptizing.
As the Gospels according to Luke and Matthew were edited, the community or writers seemed to think an intro was necessary. So Matthew tells stories about kings and wisdom. Luke stresses stories of shepherd, angels and the importance of Mary as an educator and source of the ideas. John tells his story in relation to the whole creative plan and parallels the creative Word.
Once we realized the difference between western and Semitic history, this all made sense. The Apostolic Patres would be the only witness of the value from ancient times and they are not concerned with the question.
March 23, 1995.
This is the first time I have spent so much time on Mark and I'm glad I am doing this work last. Because he wrote a generation or two earlier, and for a different audience, many of the developments of ideas are not present because the questions had not yet arisen.
April 1, 1995.
This time, I could read and explain freely according to the basic rules of all linguistic interpretation. I always thought the picture of Christ appeared to be pietistic or contrived or unreal and there was always this (topic of) dual natures in one person. With anyone else, such a personality would be called schizoid.
Now, Christ becomes a real person. He has no formal education in any school. He was the gifted kid. When he came in contact with the official teachers in Jerusalem, he was amazed at their interpretation of the Torah. He spouted off and the teachers listened. When he came home, he continued to mull over the big questions. His answers were more and more divergent. Finally, at age 30, he decided to speak his piece. Other men around him spread his ideas farther.
He worried about and was afraid of the violent end that would come soon. He knew what was coming. He was torn between his ideas and the opposition.
April 2, 1995.
The picture of Christ is as a very real man. I think he is the son of Joseph and Mary, like any other child. The word "parthenon" which Jerome translated as "virgin" is "queen-mother" everywhere else. The position of "queen-mother" was the second in all kingdoms.
Jesus himself was a gifted child, a Lone Crusader, and a fearless talker. He had insights into the real meaning of the Torah which he got from his family and community in the synagogue of Nazareth. At age 12, he learned how off-base the official teachers were and began his opposition. At age 30, he decided his passion was to work the whole nation. Only after his death did his followers see him as a great religious founder.
April 5, 1995.
These snippets touch the essence of the message immediately. Then subheadings will show how they are developed. None of the commentaries is long or tedious - yet each is thorough and solid.
April 7, 1995.
April 13, 1995.
In John's Gospel., the term "Jews" is used and always refers to the leaders in their opposition to Christ and is a term of disrepute.
Who put Jesus to death? Pilate ordered his death and Roman soldiers carried it out. However, all four of the Gospels stress it was because of the insistence of the Jewish leaders who stirred up the crowds. In fact, Pilate tried several times to get him freed but the leaders of the Jews insisted on the death penalty. They can't pass such a penalty and so they hand him to the Romans.
April 19, 1995.
April 20, 1995.
Now I start with the fact that he was a true human being who gradually became convinced he had to do something to put the world straight. He came to see the personal danger involved. He was frightened by the danger and ran time and time again. Finally, he figured he had laid the foundation well enough that he could afford to die. He was sure he would be raised from the dead in keeping with the Jonah story of the Old Testament.
He pondered the prophets - wise earnest men who preceded him and came to a deeper insight into their messages. He knew he was on the right track because he shared in the special curative powers of previous prophets.
We have four accounts of his life that were written before the last Apostle died. These we are sure were accepted as authentic accounts by the various communities. Now it is up to us to put these stories in their historical setting, learn what they have to say, and apply them to our world, today.
May 4, 1995.
Luke comes from several aspects of society as he knows it. First, he is a medical doctor of the times and his first contact with the ideas of Christ came while he was treating Paul's illness. Luke's first notion is "Salwa." We translate that in theology as "salvation" and then start talking about the soul. Luke saw the notion as "health" - total health - physical, mental, emotion and spiritual. This was the first offering of Christ. Secondly, it applied to all people, poor and rich alike. Thirdly, it gave true human dignity and partnership to women.
Matthew saw everything as the full picture of what was promised. Matthew sees everything that precedes Christ as a sort of “negative" from which the true picture is to be developed. This developed picture will involve a "Moses" or leader who outlines the road to "happiness." It will present a "king" and "kingship" in a real and detailed sense. Jesus will be the Qoheleth, the Gatherer, through his "church." He will work toward real "sharing" by all people. He will establish the Fatherhood of God through the Brotherhood of man.
Finally, John says the whole picture boils down to "love" but love means honest service of each other in all details of life. This love and service will establish the "holy Spirit" or the bond of community among all peoples.
This was a huge picture and one which Jesus already glimpsed at the age of 12. He and John the Baptist talked about these ideas again and again. Finally, John started out to tell the world. Six months later, Jesus shows up. I don't think he intended any more than to join up with John. Then his ideas took over and mushroomed. He had to avoid the authorities. Finally, he could get away no more - so he decided to leave it to the followers.
His "tetelestai" or "it is consummated" in John means: "I've done my best! I've done all I can! Now the rest is up to you!"
The first Christians got the message and carried it out. By 326, the Council of Nicea, the structure was taking over. Gradually, this structure put back the very society Christ condemned as static, too heavy, and destructive.
May 15, 1995.
Hence it would be a distortion of John's picture of Jesus to remove the word (Jews) because of the present day slant. An introductory note to the Gospel should suffice to put the picture in focus.
May 19-21, 1995.
The word "Ekklesia” (Qahal) is an active word and emphasizes that the "elders" are "gathering" the flock wherever they go. The notion of top heavy structure and hierarchy were not envisioned or started in Apostolic times.
May 23, 1995.
May 27, 1995.
By the year 380 AD, the Latin tongues had replaced the Greek and the Bible translations were unnumbered and ranked from poor to miserable. St. Jerome was an outstanding scholar in Greek, Hebrew and Latin. Pope Damasus I ordered Jerome to make an accurate translation of the whole Bible into Latin. He completed the work and presented it to Damascus in 384. It was a masterpiece.
Instead of making the translation official, he let the priests of Rome use it and comment. These men started to read and were incensed that Jerome changed or dropped so much "garbage." They wrote their texts right into the copies again. Damasus was so "scared" he said not a word and gave no approval to the work of Jerome.
From 384 to 1563, the Latin text, now called the Vulgate, went from miserable to the bottom. Finally, at the Council of Trent in 1563, the Vulgate as it was then read became the official text of the Roman church. If the originals did not agree, they were wrong.
In 1942, Bea finally sneaked a copy of the encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu" (DAS) under the pen of Pius XII and he signed it. Pius XII was amazed when he later read the letter but it was official and he was afraid to retract. Finally, the original languages of the Bible came to the fore.
The new approach to the Bible began but many Scripture profs were afraid to change their approach.
I started my formal study of Sacred Scripture (SS) in Oc-oc in 1943. I did not even hear of the encyclical letter, DAS, until 1948 in Washington at C.U (Catholic University). Fortunately, I got immersed with great teachers: Pat Skehan, Roland Murphy, Lou Hartman, Ed Arbez, and Mike Guenthaner, Then I went to Rome and had Lyonnet, Bonsierven, Dyson and Vogt.
I came back to Oc-oc and started to teach what I had learned and had one "hassle" after another with Coyle in Dogma and Boucher in SS. After 3 years, they left me alone but expected any day to see me boiled in oil.
In 1954, I started the program for the Norbertines in DePere and the priests in Milwaukee. From that time, I continued to gain ground, credibility and acceptance except from the CSsR faculty in Oc-oc.
It was a long road which has reached a summit in the work I have now written. I have now answered questions that were smothered in the time of Jerome. Now I can sail on.
May 28, 1995.
The first and most basic is a notion of Christ which makes him a real man, highly talented, moved profoundly by the hypocrisy and chicanery of the leaders in society at the time, and filled with a sense of urgency to do something about the situation.
He was well aware that he had to act fast because his total opposition to the leaders would mean persecution and death in a short while. He was scared of this and worried about it all his life. The regular power of miracles was a seal of approval from God that all could see. However, this power was quickly closed off because the church was to grow by harmony and peace it established in society.
June 1, 1995.
They had some oral traditions that had been handed down but not written history. So they made up the names Abram, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel and wrote the stories. The Egypt story is basically true. They were a group of slaves in Egypt in the “heyday” of the Pharaohs. All the other stories about plagues, etc, were the effects of the storytellers and natural phenomena of Egypt. The dividing of the Reed Sea is a natural effect of the Sirocco, even today. The Moses story would be part fact and part fiction. The fact would be the knowledge of the desert possessed by a nomad chieftain. The fiction would be all the added details of burning bushes, etc.
Their “history” starts with the settling in Israel and the founding of the Kingdom and then the Prophets. All these facts were set down with a flourish but it was the Elohist editors who brought the mystic balloon to the ground.
Mankind through science is to control, manage and develop the universe and bring it to perfection. The more the scientists learn about the inner working of things, the more this development takes place. The main focus of the Bible account is that all this has to be learned and developed for the good and growth of all people .
June 27, 1995.
The text was handed on without much adding or changing until the Greek scholars came into the picture. The LXX (Septuagint) translation was made by some group and the variants of the editions were swallowed up in the Greek translation. The last books of the Apocalyptic tradition were written in Greek, such as Wisdom of Solomon and many of the Psalms.
The Greek language carried over into New Testament times and only the original Matthew was written in Aramaic or popular Hebrew. Greek fell into disuse and Latin became the common language by 300 a.m. In 380 AD, Jerome was commissioned by Pope Damasus I to translate the whole bible into Latin.
Jerome finished the work in 384 AD and gave it to the Pope. The translation was excellent and immediately rejected by priests and teachers because faulty translations had been corrected or dropped. Damasus was afraid to make Jerome's translation official. The Latin text was butchered until 1563 with the Council of Trent. Then the current Vulgate was made official and took precedence over the Greek and Hebrew. The result was chaotic for "true" theology.
Finally, in the 19th century, the German school of Tubingen under Dibelius and Bultmann began to move to the original Hebrew and Greek. They were Protestants so all this work was suspect and rejected out of hand by Roman authorities. In any conflict between Latin and the original languages, the Latin took precedence.
Tubingen was open-minded and invited Catholic scholars. The Dominicans responded and established the L'Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem with LaGrange in the late 1800's. They worked well with Tubingen and were thus suspect by Rome.
In 1909, the Pontifical Biblical Institute was established in Rome and given to the Jesuits who had no scholars at the time. However, they quickly developed great men. Among them was the German Bea. He had been to Tubingen often and respected Dibelius and Bultmann and they respected him. However, the original languages were suspect by Roman authority until 1942 when Divini Afflante Spiriti (DAS) and the underhanded way that Bea got Pius XII to sign it.
Then in 1947, the Qumran scrolls were found and our present Biblical era was off and running. I came into the graduate program of Semitic Studies at Catholic U. in 1945.
To answer your question, the various traditions of the OT can be easily seen only in the original Hebrew. They were clearly known and taught at Tubingen in the 19th century. They were rejected by Catholic theologians as protestant propaganda. The Dominicans (O.P) school in Jerusalem worked from the originals from its foundations but the degrees from the L'Ecole Biblique were not recognized by Rome until about 1960. Then they were tolerated only. DeVaux was told he would have to get a degree from the Pontifical Biblical Institute (PIB) if he wanted to teach in any Catholic University. M.J. Lagrange was never declared a heretic but there was a strong whisper in Rome. For years, the Revue Biblique (magazine) was not on the shelves of the Vatican Library.
There's a lot more but this is enough for today’s note.
June 28, 1995.
The approach was always the Concordance of all four (gospels) in an effort to fit details into a preconceived time line. It was like taking four masterpieces of four different artists, mashing them all together, and then saying we have a work of art. Actually, we have destroyed all four. This is what the concordance of the Gospels did and this was the only way the Gospels were studied until the 50’s. In fact, many Scripture profs were still doing the “harmony” and “life of Christ” style in the late 60’s.
This is one of the reasons why my commentaries are vital. Each Gospel story is a separate unit. Each comes from a different tradition and stresses a completely different aspect of Christian living.
June 29, 1995.
July 18, 1995.
The time of Solomon was the era of the first real scholarship and writing. Prior to that time, especially in the time of Saul and David, everything was war of aggression and mopping up. Some of the Psalms date from the time of David because he was the Gene Autry (cowboy) of the military camps. He would be responsible for the brutal war songs and a few of the pious shepherd lyrics.
The next big influence on the OT would be Elijah and then Isaiah I, Jeremiah, Ezra, Isaiah II & III, Nehemiah, and then the Wisdom writers. These people were all trying to save the people or save a remnant. The influence of the Greek philosophers came in the last 2.5 centuries B.C. This influence brought about a whole new editing of everything that preceded and an intellectual struggle against the Greek approach to life.
July 19, 1995.
July 21, 1995.
July 25, 1995.
The Prophets were outstanding men from 11th century BC with Nathan and then Elijah down to Malachi or the final version of Daniel. They saw the failure of the leaders and the people, and they spoke out. Some were mistreated. Some were tortured and killed. All were ignored.
A gifted student like Jesus at his Bar Mitzvah shook the leaders in Jerusalem. His family was a nobody. He came from nowhere. He had no schooling. Yet he could answer questions in clear and startling depth. He could ask questions that stumped the establishment. But the incident was only a bubble on the ocean. Only when he started his itinerant work 18 years later did they sit up and take notice.
July 26, 1995.
Now I start the individual stories of the prophets. These were men who couldn't stand the politics of the kings and upper society and made their opposition known. Amos and Daniel are my favorites as people. Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezechiel have the most in human values. I had to tone my language down in bit in the David story.
Writing this whole picture is a real delight. I taught a lot of these ideas before 1969 but I like my picture, today, much better.
July 30, 1995.
Ezechiel will be stimulating because of his development of personal or individual responsibility. He did a lot of weird antics to get attention but he really talked straight from the shoulder to the people. He was in the neo-Babylonian captivity after the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.
Daniel is the last of the major prophets. His time period is the death knell of the Greek period in 167-264 B.C. and the rule of Antiochus the Terrible. Greek philosophy and ideas began to take a nose dive and yet the best wisdom literature of the Bible comes from that period.
July 31, 1995.
The second blow is by far worse in the eyes of the prophets and the true Israelites. They never really recovered from that blow.
Under the Romans, the Jews revamped the Temple and made it look good again because the Romans were into architecture and sculpture so heavily. They encouraged the conquered peoples to build for the glory of Rome. The Romans saw all temples as shrines honoring their gods and the gods of the conquered people became minions of the Roman gods.
I like Daniel's approach to the problems better. Jeremiah sees the problem clearly, preaches and teaches against it, but is overcome by the magnitude of the difficulties. Daniel comes right out swinging verbally and singing. He particularly enjoyed interpreting the "handwriting on the Wall."
August 5, 1995.
Jesus Christ and John realize, as young teenagers, that this is the heritage they have received. Yet the official teachers were hiding the real message under a plethora of ritual practices.
Jesus taught against this falsification, and then restored and developed the teaching of the prophets and wise men. The first Christians followed his lead gladly. Then the Roman structure began the same destructive ritualism and codification of doctrine. Finally, in Trent in 1563, this practice was sealed and the living Christian Faith became the Catechism of Trent and its sacraments. John XXIII tried to resurrect the spirit but died too soon.
August 8, 1995.
I like the term "story" for each part like: Joseph Story, Moses Story, David Story, Prophet Story, Wisdom Story, Jesus Story. The word "story" bespeaks a certain amount of history told in an imaginative way. That's "Semitic history."
August 9-12 1995.
August 14, 1995.
First of all, Peter was talking - as usual. He said they had to elect a sub for Judas. Peter had been completely "shot down" on the notion of a return of the Davidic Kingdom with him as "big boss." Luke is pointing out that Peter didn't have a clue as to the message of Christ.
I think Luke points clearly to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the "behind the scenes" organizer. She had understood the message of her son. Now she stirred alive the "Holy Spirit" which Luke says she had from the very conception of Jesus. Gradually this Holy Spirit showed itself in an enthusiasm to get out and tell others about Jesus and his message of "Koinonia" (sharing) - the mutual sharing with each other in true love. There was no "hop-heavy" structure - just a "community" of people living their daily lives and enjoying each other.
August 16-18, 1995.
The Popes have been sovereign rulers, military marshals, dictatorial moralists, grasping financiers, but democratic leaders they have never been. The dynamic power for social good that is supposed to be at work in the world has been curtailed by the (name withheld by editor) and their ilk locally and the Popes and Bishops worldwide.
August 19, 1995.
Peter makes decisions but he offers than as opinions to the people. They frequently object. Then he has to establish the opinion by reasons. James and Paul tended to be authoritarian. The people definitely objected to Paul. Then Barnabas would bring him in line. Nobody got to James and he ended up a grump as is seen in his letter.
August 20, 1995.
Paul was certainly not liked by many people. The Jews hated him as a deserter and traitor. They were on his case everywhere. The Jewish Christians hated him because he was intelligent, expressive, and popular with some people. The Romans hated him because he had citizenship rights and flaunted them. Paul expected and tolerated no "weakness" as he saw it. To say the lest, he could be a royal pain in the "far forty" but he did a tremendous amount to apply and develop the teaching. Timothy's mother, Lydia, was the only one who told him what to do.
August 21-24, 1995.
September 4, 1995.
Luke is interested in the new Adam so he has everything center around the "holy Breath" which replaces the breath of the 1st Adam. The new Adam will be a shepherd so he has shepherds come to the manger. The stories are created to fit the reality which is Jesus in each case. The Romans were brutal toward the Jews but the Jews turned the same venom and brutality on the Christians. This brutal conduct has dominated over and over in the co-called Christian era and precisely because the principles of Christ are ignored or turned into a type of stoicism or fatalism.
September 11-16, 1995.
So, says Luke in Acts, the trait or characteristic that made the first Christians effective was "koinonia" or "sharing." To put this conviction into words, each person would have to say: "This is mine but I am willing and glad to share it with you." This is the Holy Spirit which Jesus could not give while he was here but which he gave shortly after he left.
This means that as long as Jesus was present and visible, the group would depend on him. As soon as Jesus was gone they would realize what he had talked about and be filled with this "Holy Spirit" of sharing.
There was the noise of a great wind which filled the upstairs apartment. This was the same creative breath of God that brought about the whole of the first creation. Here it was at work in the new creation. It came in the form of tongues of fire to indicate that this Spirit was to spread and engulf the whole world. This would be a reversal of the harmful disunity caused by the Tower of Babel.
The Holy Spirit it the conviction of personal worth and ownership which is freely and willingly shared with others. This new truth took the Roman-Greek world by storm and worked wonders all the way to the conversion of the Emperor himself in 312 AD. Then the "structure" began to evolve, and by 365 AD the council of Nicea sounded the death knell of the new creation.
September 17, 1995.
We have about 16.5 centuries of legalism and ritualism to set aside so that we can see the real value of the message of Christ. The inquiries are in the market place. We have to get the answers there.
September 18, 1995.
The Christian ideal spread and had great influence. Then the ritualism and structure destroyed the vitality of the teaching of Jesus. The 3rd millennium of the Christian era would be a great time to restore the vital influence of the Christian ideal.
September 25, 1995.
When Jesus is talking at the Last Supper, in the long reverie of John, he stresses that this gift of the Holy Spirit is his final and parting gift. The Holy Spirit is now called an "Intercessor,” an "advocate" a "counselor." It is a gift from the Father but it can be given only when Jesus is gone.
This I think was the primary concept or social awareness of the 1st followers of Jesus. By their sharing with each other they formed a presence which was Jesus Christ - alive and working in the world. Paul calls it the "Body which is Christ." It is this Holy Spirit which forms or established this "Body."
September 28, 1995.
John stresses more the approach of Isaiah. John points out how this Spirit works in the individual and what are its component parts.
October 5-8, 1995.
October 14, 1995.
Another description phrase I will use is: "Earth to Heaven: One Lifetime." or "C'est laVie!" or "Murphy's law: God's Law!", "Blue Chip Stock" or "Bottom Line" or "Buyer's Market" or "C.O.D," "Down Payment" or "Fringe Benefits" or "installment buying" or "Take Home Pay," or "Work Ethic."
All of these phrases will be marvelous to give a different twist to all the ideas. These are solid ideas but they tie together the parlance of daily living and the Wisdom of the Ages.
October 16-18 1995.
October 25, 1995.
The body will be the same so that it is recognized but its qualities will be heightened. I see it in the sprouting of every seed. The tulip bulb, for example, doesn't look like much. Yet the bulb sprouts and the plant comes forth and there is the beautiful flower. No one could imagine or predict it. The same is true of the human body. The resurrection will be the full flowering. Just as planting the seed is essential to getting the harvest so death is the source of full life.
November 4-5, 1995.
God was perceived as Father and origin of all the universe in some way. “How” was not even considered. The only point of importance was “why.” Jesus was seen as “the man”, the 2nd Adam, the person whose ideas could get people back on track. He could do his job only if his followers were bound together by the “true spirit.” This spirit was a bond of sharing and giving in a world of selfishness.
Now I have the Creation Story, the Patriarch Story, the Noah Story, the Joseph Story, the Moses, David, Prophet Stories. These are all stories told in Semitic fashion to make a point.
November 6, 1995.
The basic principles and ideals of Christ and the Gospel are still very much needed. How they will be put before the world, I don't know. Books will help but today the media will have to get in the act.
November 10, 1995.
Now, Christ tells Peter he is to be the "rock" on which the stability of the community is based. He has power over the "Kingdom of death." This is a promise of Resurrection to all. He has the right to include or exclude people in the church. The word "church" is a new one in this passage.
Then John presents the same ideas about Peter as the shepherd who knows each member of the flock and leads them in safety to food, water, shelter and rest. The "infallibility' notion is certainly a misnomer and false application of the post-Trent period. In fact, it is a restoration of a notion in the Judaism of the Scribes and Pharisees which Christ condemned explicitly.
November 21, 1995.
November 25, 1995.
December 3, 1995.
December 20, 1995.
In the NT, those who lived by the law of "love" went to the presence of God the Father and the whole family of man. Jesus says explicitly what is the basis for the sentence: Everything depended on how your life was lived in the service of your family, friends, neighbors, people you worked with and for, and strangers. The demands were not gigantic: You were to share what you have and what you are. If you shared you were identified as a child of the father. If you did not share, you excluded yourself from the family. Only the selfish, egotistical, self-righteous bastards will be excluded.
December 27, 1995.
December 28, 1995.
January 17, 1996.
Then he openly admitted his failure, was truly sorry and confessed to the priests - the wrong ones. He should have confessed to Jesus. Peter's failure was far greater even after explicit warning. However, he went to Christ and received pardon. I, personally, don't think Judas was condemned after he hanged himself. He just didn't produce as much as he could have.
January 19, 1996.
January 20, 1996.
Paul urges Timothy and Titus not to let people make fun of or ignore them because they were so young. They were both young kids, at home, when Paul converted the families. They took a shine to him and accompanied him.
January 31, 1996.
I am firmly convinced that the word "Elohim" was used deliberately in the "Elohist" editing of the OT. It is a plural in Hebrew and would indicate more than one god. It could also be the generic word "The Deity" without stressing one or many. The Elohist was codified during the time of Isaiah I, Hosea and Amos. These men were preaching constantly against the "many gods" notion and the fertility cults that ensued.
The text gives a new slant to the meaning of the OT teaching. People are interested in finding a fuller meaning to life.
February 8, 1996.
February 22, 1996.
One example is Moses. First, there is the period in which he grew up in his own home through the fast thinking of his sister, Miriam. Then he had a background in Egyptian thought and rule. Then he spends several years in the desert. This readies him to lead the Israelites through the desert. Finally, he gives them basic laws that are the foundation of all western civilization today. Then he dies before he actually enters the Promised Land.
March 4, 1996.
March 12, 1996.
March 22, 1996.
March 24, 1996.
March 27, 1996.
March 28, 1996.
The Gospels are the stories of a son who works with his father. The Acts & Letters and Rev are the stories of people who are conscious of the needs of others and ready to share. "Are you hungry?" Have some of my lunch! "Are you cold?" Take my sweater. Service to others replaces sacrifice.
April 2, 1996.
April 3, 1996.
John was completely taken with the idea of the "new creation." His Gospel is presented as the "7 weeks" of the new creation in contrast to the 7 days of the 1st creation. The apocalypse is divided into the "7 beatitudes" or 7 sources of Happiness.
April l4, 1996.
There is no doubt that almost all the actions of Christ are given symbolic meanings in the Gospels. So much of the interpretation was read back into the stories from theological theses and art works.
The whole virginal conception and birth are clearly a misreading. The text says Mary was a "Parthenos." This is a Greek word used everywhere and always meant "Queen Mother." The Parthenon was the monument of the Queen mother of the gods. I think the story is a simple story of a regular conception and then all the frills were added as in the stories in the OT. The important point is what are the stories teaching.
April 14, 1996.
April 15, 1996.
God is shown as looking at his handiwork and said, "Isn’t that great?" Today, as astronomers probe the outer space and come up with their gigantic finds, the approval of God would be even stronger. He would be clapping his hands, grinning from ear to ear, and shouting. "That's what I've been trying to tell you! Don't get bogged down in some selfish squabble when there is so much to see and learn and use." There is no conflict.
April 17, 1996.
It is identically the same idea as a birthday dinner for your Mom, or a wedding anniversary celebration. Each time the people gather in church, it is to celebrate the new "Lamb of God" - Jesus Christ.
April 18, 1996.
As I said, I have succeeded in nullifying the Scriptural foundation for most of Trent (1563). I see more clearly why so many theologians were up in arms at the Council and for years afterwards. However, they were told to crawl into their shells and hush up or they would be "exterminated." So many left and the others shut up.
May 2, 1996.
May 3-4, 1996.
May 6, 1996.
God was sitting with a vast stretch of desert in front of him, leading to the great drop-off or abyss. He decided to make some light. Then he needed some lamps to carry the light so he made a real big one for the day and a lesser light for the night. But the moon was not quite bright enough so he made a lot of small night-lights and put them in the sky.
The whole picture is beautiful imaginative poetry written originally in the Bible in the 10th century BC - in the time of Solomon.
May 7, 1996.
May 8, 1996.
May 14, 1996.
At the end, he had to make his momentous decision. Should he take off and hide as he had done before? Or should he go out and die unjustly for his convictions? He wrestled the doubts to a final acceptance and then went out to meet the crowds.
May 29, 1996.
At the Last Supper in John's account, Christ says explicitly, "My peace I give you - not as the world gives" - not Roman "pax". Then he describes what his peace is. The Christians used the Roman greeting with the Christian meaning.
May 30, 1996.
June 9, 1996.
June 22, 1996.
Governments, at times, have truly worked to remove social ills. The medical people have succeeded in removing or curing many physical ills. The scientists are working constantly to uncover the hidden nature of the world about us. Educators are striving to raise the intellectual level of the people to be able to think, read and learn more. The media are tools for speedy spread of all this learning but so far concentrate most of their attention on what goes wrong.
June 23, 1996.
July 1, 1996.
July 3, 1996.
The Biblical notion is to look at the order and greatness of the universe as the Hebrews saw it and say "there has to be a plan." With our deeper probing of the world around us and the advances in scientific technology in the last few decade, the biblical notion would be ever stronger. There has to be a plan and a planner. This interrelated set of laws could not have just happened.
The notion of "Father" was the most natural to develop. Each of the writings of the OT presents this "Father" from different viewpoints. However, when they talked about after-life, they referred to going to rest "in the bosom of Abraham“. Only with 2 Maccabees in the last century BC do we get a more developed notion. Then the whole picture of the NT is how to react as a true child of the family. The entire theme is the Brotherhood of Man in the Fatherhood of God. It's up to people to remove the ills of the world by their interaction and cooperation.
July 6, 1996.
July 8, 1996.
Matthew describes the origins of the real Kingship. John goes a step farther. He goes back to the Creative Word which we could see in everything that existed except the human race. People had never cooperated enough to manifest the Word in its fulness. Finally, Christ comes with his perfect cooperation and we see what the Creative Word can really do.
Christ's plan is simple. People have to help and work with each other. They do not need a new society. They had only to work with each other and help each other in all the problems and difficulties of daily life. Then the ills and evils of human society will be removed. The evils of castes, segregations, and domineering will be removed by a true Brotherhood in the Fatherhood of God. This is the "Word made flesh" to continue until the works is complete "tetelestai." (Greek)
July 10, 1996.
Jesus and John the Baptist discussed these ideas constantly. They were truly gifted kids who felt an obligation to do something about the problem. John the Baptist spoke out openly and drew down the wrath of Herodias who got his head to roll. Jesus was bolstered up by the open reception his ideas received from the people. However, he knew his days were numbered and he was scared.
July 18, 1996.
Chapter 13 of Matthew is the full description of this "kinging."
July 20, 1996.
July 30, 1996.
The fact that Christ decided his was a ""sacrificial" death was his own idea. The Jewish teachers of the time were not expecting such a Messiah. Their Messiah was going to be a conquering hero, a new Joshua who would smite the Romans left and right.
July 31, 1996.
August 1, 1996.
August 4, 1996.
The first Christian community had the whole gamut of human beings exactly as we do today. Even after 20 centuries of so-called Christian living, we are not much closer to the ideal than they were in the first century. It is not the fault of the ideals, principles or plans. It is the fact that we still have not lived them. Christ centered his teaching in our relations to each other. It was not ritual or parade or pomp of any kind. Just day-to-day living and working together.
August 5, 1996.
It's amazing that we make such a big to-do about the Jewish Holocaust and overlook the identical event from 60-313 AD. It was the Roman government instead of the Nazi group who was in charge. The Christians were stuffed into the "prisons" which are still extant and killed as the "worst kind of Jew." Rome did their killings in order to purge the world of the "Jews" and to establish the "pure" Roman race.
The Trastevere section of Rome is still inhabited by the "down and outers" exactly as it was by Jews and Christians in Roman period. History doesn't change much. - the same events with different actors in a different place.
August 10, 1996.
August 14, 1996.
August 16, 1996.
Among the Israelites or Jews, the only medium was the Bible. These were kept only in synagogues and the Temple. The stories were read, memorized and retold by parents to children. This teaching was primarily the work of the mother in the first 12 years. At age 12, the boys were tested in the Bar Mitzvah to see whether they could pass over into adult Jewish life. Then the father took over to prepare his son for a trade.
Girls were not neglected. There was a regular testing at age 12 but the girls were to use their knowledge as mothers. The girls were call the "Bat Mitzvah" or "daughter of the Law."
The whole story of the Chosen people was developed around the men and women of the past. Some were fictional, some were for real. The good and the bad were included to make clear the personal choices that had to be made.
These stories were all of the Semitic mentality. The writers were interested not so much in "what" happened as "why" it happened. If facts didn't accomplish this goal, the facts were changed and retold.
August 20, 1996.
Today, I wrote on the Letters of John and the Apocalypse. Three notions stand out about John. He was only 13 or 14 years old when called by Christ. He was a favorite and well liked by all the Apostles. Christ publicly called John a "Boanerges" or "son of Thunder.” He lived to about 100 AD and saw 3 full generations of Christian living.
August 26, 1996.
September 2, 1996.
September 11, 1996.
September 17, 1996.
Then Luke asked Mary for some of her recollections of those first days and we get his account. Matthew wanted to lay the groundwork for the Kingship of Christ. He "rigs" the genealogy so that is says "David" 4 times. He parallels the story very close to that of Abraham, Moses and the chosen people in Egypt. John is interested in showing the new creation, the second Adam and the second Eve, Jesus and Mary. He develops the 7 weeks of the new creation (parallel to 7 days of creation) and then writes a prologue to introduce it.
September 22, 1996.
The societal state of the Roman world and its functions have to be kept clearly in mind. Unless a person was a "Roman citizen" he had no rights. The upper crust of society represented about 3% of the people. They spent their days and nights between the circus Maximum and the Coliseum. They were given lodging in the huge palace of the Caesars if they were from out of town. The peasants were to be content with the "cibus et circus." The Roman army was constantly occupied with conquest and maintenance of the Empire. The system of roads, laws, and standards of measurement were firmly established by the Romans. Their system of taxation was the steepest ever decreed.
Into this world came two young men, John and Jesus. Both were Jews and both were convinced they should do their part to resurrect and fulfill the ideals of their forefathers.
The key point of the Jewish message was Daniel - again, a young boy who did wonders in the reign of an oppressor worse than the Caesar. From Daniel came several ideas - including the title "Son of Man" which Jesus took for himself. Daniel was almost a fatalist - it was "do or die." The mission of the Jewish people had to be fulfilled or be lost.
September 26, 1996.
September 30, 1996.
October 4, 1996
We don't need any special church or ritual. We just have to make sure that the "community" of mankind is really a "community," a sharing with each other. The first Christians did this. Then Constantine set the church free and the static, separate structure arose and gradually destroyed the "community.
October 6, 1996.
October 8, 1996.
Christ is on the cross. In Luke's Gospel. he speaks tree times. First, he asks that all his persecutors be forgiven. Then, he promises Paradise to the one thief. Then he says "Father, into you hands I put back my breath." With that he bowed his head and died.
He has died for the failure of the first Adam. Jesus gives back the breath that had been given him. Then he rises from the dead, and he has the "holy Breath" - the breath of the new Adam which he offers to all who accept him.
One of the first rules of Exegetic work is that a word has the same meaning in any given context unless the writer explicitly indicates change. The Greek word here is "to Pneuma" or the Hebrew "Ruah." There is absolutely no doubt about its meaning as referring to the actual breath which gives life or removes it.
Now the picture is completely rounded out. The work of the first Adam was thwarted by his disobedience and the punishment was death. The second Adam atones, gives back the breath, dies and gives new life with New, untainted breath to all who accept.
October 9-10, 1996.
In Biblical circles, if I saw some hope of changing things or honest inquiry, I made my ideas known. If I saw Bishops, priests and other clergy who were frozen in place. I just walked off.
October 12, 1996.
October 13, 1996.
October 15, 1996.
October 17-18, 1996.
2. The Bible is Semitic history, not western history. This means that the writers are interested in the "Why" of events rather than the "what." In fact, if the facts don't fit the story, the facts can be changed, dropped or added to.
October 20, 1996.
The New Testament picks up these ideas and develops the full picture of the Fatherhood of God by describing the Brotherhood of man and the way it is to be accomplished. Augustine is the bright boy who missed this picture. He took the Apocalypse of John, which described the Roman persecutions and what was to happen to the Romans, and applied it to the death of an individual person. This put the whole notion of punishment, terror, and hell-fire into theology. Over the centuries theologians and preachers drew on the hellfire and damnation picture and emasculated Christian teaching.
October 26, 1996.
November 5-6, 1996.
The "Matthew group" thought so highly of Moses and his writings that the Jesus story according to Matthew is divided into 5 major parts to correspond to the Pentateuch. There is an intro to a conclusion to tie the whole story together, and constant reference to Moses to show how Jesus in his work and teaching fulfill what Moses started.
November 7, 1996.
The Hebrews couldn't have such a name so they called him "Mosheh" or the one "drawn out" and referred it to the incident in his life as a baby. Moses as leader was called a "pillar of cloud" by day and the "pillar of light" by night. He protected the people against heat and darkness. He sat on Mt. Sinai or "jebel Musa" to develop the code that would serve as a basis for all their laws. He did such a good job that the same code is still the basis of all law and morality today.
Moses was a brilliant man but had a very short fuse! He could and did get angry, upset, disgusted, scared, and all at the same time.
November 8, 1996.
The first person who goes beyond Moses is Jesus. He recalls what Moses taught and then carries the teaching a step further. This is why the Jewish leaders wanted Christ out of the way, and why the Jewish people were so vehemently opposed to the first Christians.
November 15, 1996.
I used to think that the diet of "locusts and wild honey" was evidence of how John "roughed" it in the desert. Actually, both of these were considered a delicacy by the Egyptians. J.L. says they fried the locusts like a French fry and they made a nectar of the honey and let it age into an alcoholic drink. So the Bible story is saying that John did well for himself. He dressed in primitive clothes and was unshorn so he gave a startling appearance as he lambasted the wickedness of all, especially the leaders.
November 21, 1996.
The Apostles' Creed is a summary of the beliefs in "Didache tun Apostolon" - The teachings of the Apostles, date about 150-175 AD, says only "holy and universal." There is no mention of one church until after the Council of Nice in 325 AD Even then, the word "one" was not put in the Nicene Creed.
We have to get rid of the "divinity" of Jesus, the notion that "holy Spirit" is a person rather than the "Breath of the New Adam" which was given at the new creation.
At the Last Supper, Christ was talking about the "Passover Ritual." He said, "From now on this is to be a commemoration of my victory rather than the exodus from Egypt. The evening meal, the Eucharist, was exactly that - a happy "get-together" - a shared meal.
November 22, 1996.
November 28, 1996.
In 1911, the PIB was established in Rome. The profs and students were considered next door to heresy. M.L. LaGrange and the OP's started the L'Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem and literally told Rome and the Pope to "go to hell." For years they were considered heretics but no one in Rome would tackle them because of their scholarship. They published the Revue Biblique (RB) from 1890 onward. We had every issue in the library in Oc-oc and when they moved, the bastards burned the whole set.
No one ever read the RB in my time except myself. The finding of the Scrolls in 1947 and the work of men at CU in DC and the L'Ecole Biblique finally put the study of SS on the front burner. However, in 1952, when I started to teach in Oc-oc, there were only 3 of us in the whole state of Wisconsin with graduate study and degrees in SS.
December 6, 1996.
It is no more unkind of God to allow people to be hurt because they have not learned enough than it is for you to let a child make a mistake in school or life so that he/she will learn from the mistake.
This process has worked well. The cooperation of scientists, doctors, educators, financiers, farmers, laborers has brought about untold benefits, and there are a lot more there. However, people and nations don't always work together. They are greedy, jealous, envious and downright mean. They cheat, lie, steal and kill to get everything for themselves. This antagonism, enmity, warring stalls or stops human progress in all fields until peace is restored.
God cannot be called mean or hateful or at fault if we want our freedom of choice. He could stop us but he would stifle all creativity. So it's plan A - cooperate with each other to achieve all the creative good available in the world.
December 7, 1996.
Job is a good man in every sense of the word and he has prospered marvelously. God looks at him as a real exemplar. Satan, the adversary or the evil enemy, is introduced. He laughs at the goodness of Job so Job is afflicted with every kind of loss. His three friends give long speeches on the hidden sins that Job must have committed. Finally, Job throws a challenge at God and God appears to answer his questions and objections. Job does not really get an answer because God stresses that the workings of the universe and the place of humans in that picture is too vast for the human mind to grasp and master all at one time.
In the New Testament, the writers do not treat the question directly. Christ stresses how people are to act toward each other in order to establish the true brotherhood or family of mankind. When the earth is brought to its "fulness" or "completeness" (to telos) then the Fatherhood of God will be truly understood and enjoyed.
December 14, 1996.
I think the time will come when the true message will again be accepted and spread through the world on the modern media.
December 16, 1996.
For centuries, science said the world was much older but no accommodation was made. Then we finally admitted the mss (manuscripts) evidence of the OT editings and placed the earliest writing in the time of Solomon in the 10th century B.C. We then turned to Egyptian history and realized the Hyksos or non-Egyptians ruled Egypt from 1650-1250. In 1250 B.C. the real Egyptians took over again and the foreigners were expelled or escaped.
The Exodus story starts at this time and much of the story is written like folklore. We know what the writers wanted to teach about the people and their relationship to Yahweh. We don't know what really happened.
The Maccabees story is told much like some of the tales of the settlers and native-Americans in this country. Then Israel comes into the Western world and the conflict between two mentalities continues. Israel succeeds and fails. They are accepted and persecuted. Now they want the land again.
December 19, 1996.
December 20, 1996.
John, in the Book of Revelation, describes how the people in Rome at the end of the first century are to establish their happiness in the midst of persecution. He was talking about the Trastevere section of Rome and the plight of those people because of their near-slave condition and the persecution by Roman society. Matthew broadens this notion of happiness in relation to the whole mankind at all times. This happiness is not merely in a future heaven but is to be established right here on earth. All the conditions are spelled out.
It's a very pleasing and realistic picture if we ever return to the ideas and ideals of Jesus Christ as lived by the first Christians.
December 25, 1996.
This was the notion Matthew emphasized in his presentation of Jesus Christ, the King and his Kingdom. Luke stresses Mary as the mother of the savior and salvation. John takes a wholly different tack and sees Mary next to the New Adam as the New Eve.
The ideas and stories are marvelous but they are stories as in the OT beginnings. They are stories to tell "why" not "what."
December 27, 1996.
According to the Apostolic Father, Irenaeus, who personally knew John in his old age, John never changed. He wrote the Apocalypse when he was about 71-73 years old. There is nothing tame in his attitude toward the persecuting Romans.
December 30, 1996.
January 17, 1997.
The second notion that has to get full treatment is the "qahala" or the "church" as first presented. The Biblical meaning has one meaning - the "gathering" of people or animals. It is not a separate entity. It had two qualities: "holy" and "everywhere." How this was done depended on each locality. The oldest creed outside the Bible, the "Apostles" creed" says this. It comes from the Didache.
January 20, 1997.
Now the apostles arrive on the scene. They have just been to the McDonalds or Burger King or Herod Quick Stop of the their times. They have food but it looks like there might be a fight first. Then I remember that all of these men were in their late teens or early twenties. They were from Galilee. They hated Samaritans. They were led by Peter who always acted first and then thought about it. All hell could have erupted. Christ calmly keeps control and the incident stands out in John's mind the rest of his life.
This has brought the Gospel story alive in a way I have never seen it before. So often, John's account was considered stiff and formal. This is because we don't make the incidents alive with people in them. The Nicodemus in Chapter 3 will be a real thriller. That wedding feast in Cana has all the makings of a great story.
February 2, 1997.
The origin of Israel in the east, near Iran or Iraq is a good guess because of the huge migrations in the 19th and 18th centuries B.C. This would be the Patriarchal story. Then there was a terrible famine and everybody headed for Egypt, a land of plenty, because of the Nile.
The Hyksos, or foreigners, took over in Egypt for about 2 centuries and all non-Egyptians rode the gravy train. About 1500-1250 B.C. the Egyptians came back into power and enslaved every non-Egyptian. The principal work was making clay brick and building.
Then about 1250 B.C. there was a huge exodus of non-Egyptians from Egypt, so the exodus story is told in this setting. All the other details of the stories in Genesis are very probably literary trimming. These were written down in the 10th century for the first time under Solomon. Then they were edited over and over again down to the 1st century B.C. The prophetic movement was an effort on the part of serious reformers trying to restore the true greatness of the people.
Jesus Christ was the last of these reformers. At first, the Jews and Christians were together. Then 68-90 AD, the Jewish nation was decimated and the followers of Christ were on their own.
February 3-4, 1997.
The writers of the Bible clearly faced the problem, especially in the last two centuries before the Christian era. The writers ended with Job, Sirach, Proverbs and Wisdom.
Then Christ came along. He presented what I consider the full picture. God is a Father, a truly loving parent. All people are his children. He helps them but like every good parent, he knows there is a time when the child has to operate on his/her own.
You have done it thousands of times with kids in the classroom. You explain the lesson clearly. You leave the floor open to questions. Then you give the assignment. You walk around looking over their shoulders. You see them making a mistake. Sometimes, you point at it. Sometimes you ask a question. Sometimes, you just let the mistake there. The child has to learn from mistakes.
God made everyone of us free. He set the standards of cooperation, effort, mutual love, kindness, etc. However, not all people cooperate. This creates problems for innocent people. But God wants the world to grow up. He is not mean, inconsiderate or lacking in love any more than a parent who lets his child fall off a bicycle or stumble on roller skates to develop a sense of balance.
God made the universe a place of unlimited possibilities. Mankind is beginning to unfold more and more of these. The motor and the car were a giant step forward. Yet every day people use cars carelessly and injure or kill innocent people.
February 8, 1997.
It’s a great program! It worked wonders for about 3 centuries and then was buried under the Mound of Popes, rituals, sacraments and buildings. -- Aggiornamento is needed.
February 17, 1997.
Paul says explicitly this is the commemoration of the Last Supper. The difference between Paul and the gospels is that Christ is talking explicitly of the new meaning of the Passover Meal. From that time forward, his followers were to celebrate the Passover in memory of his delivering them from the slavery of sin. The old Passover recalled the deliverance from the slavery of Egypt. The communities of Paul had this Lord’s meal, the basket supper, every time they met.
February 20, 1997.
There is the principle of unity and growth that allows everyone to work together and see all their talents and zeal.
Another time, the Sanhedrin wanted to condemn the work of the early church. Gamaliel, a Pharisee, finally made himself heard. “If this work is from man, it will fold naturally. If it is from god, you had better tread softly, lest you find yourself fighting against God!”
How easily all the bickering and division in the Christian world could be settled if these principles were followed.
February 21, 1997.
These Psalms were taken right over into the Last Supper. We are told Christ and the Apostles chanted the final psalms on the way to the Garden of Olives. The first Christians continued this practice at their community suppers. Then the monks took over and spread the Psalter through the whole day and night.
The Our Father was to have been a short outline for meditative prayer. Chapter 17 of John is one example. This was the notion of prayer we were taught in novitiate by John Zeller and which I follow through the day. Sometimes, I have questions to answer, problems to solve, works to do, people to meet - what have you.
February 23, 1997.
February 25, 1997.
He was raised from the dead to show us just a bit of what we were working for. Then he left for good and offered each person the opportunity and the challenge to share with him.
February 27 - March 1, 1997.
March 2, 1997
The OT is rich in human ideals constantly rooting themselves deeper. At the same time, the writers present the sad mess that results where these ideals are ignored or deserted. The Wisdom literature of the last two or three centuries B.C. is clearly the crown of the long story. Job tackles the major question of a morally good person who suffers much. How can we talk of a holy, kind and just God when good people suffer? The answer is still the same as it was then. Part of the answer lies in the failure of other people to measure up, to understand and use nature. The other part of the answer is that we simply can’t get a full perspective on life until we die.
March 6, 1997.
March 7, 1997.
March 11, 1997.
Then I discussed the true meaning of literal sense in each literary form. Finally, I was ready for the gospel according to John. I explained “kata” according to John, “Simeon” (sign), John’s word instead of “miracle.” Then I took the development of the words “Son of God” through the OT to Christ. In succession, I talked about “In the beginning” in Genesis and John, John Baptist - forerunner, cousin, friend, metanoia (change of heart) AMEN (faith) Lamb of God, Sin of the world, Woman, Mary, Holy Spirit from Is 11:1-2. Samaritan Woman, Good Shepherd (pastor) and breath of Life, Garden of Failure and Garden of Obedience.
March 25 1997.
March 27, 1997.
Matthew sets Mary before us as Queen Mother and presupposes we see her role in educating and guiding the new King. John develops her role as the new Eve at the side of the New Adam in his public life.
April 7, 1997.
Three tribes looked at the land on the east side. It was far better farm land and grazing land. They decided to stay put even though there would be the physical separation from the majority. All hell broke loose. They said these people were shirking their duty to fight for the land. The answer was very prompt. They insisted their fighting men would be right with the others. They would merely settle their families and property and they would ask nothing of the Cis(west) Jordan side of the land.
All problems were settled and the plan went through. After a few years all major places were taken and the Trans-Jordan (East) tribes went home. However, their crops were far better, their flocks were beautiful and they could trade with the non-Israelites on that side. Then the leaders of the Cis (west)-Jordan insisted these people had to pay greater tithes.
So the Jordan-Israeli fight of today is nothing more than a continuation or rerun of the past.
April 8, 1997.
April 9, 1997.
He began on their lives first and demanded total and sincere conversion. Then he attacked the leaders, especially Herod and the Pharisees and Sadducees. Herod wanted to kill John but was afraid of the people’s reaction.
Then Christ starts his work. He went down to John at the Jordan, First, Jesus picked up on Daniel, the last of the writings of the OT. He took the “Son of Man” title which in Hebrew would “Son of Adam.” He saw the implications right from the start as Matthew points out in the temptation scene. Jesus realized he had to pick up where Moses left off and form a people of God. As Daniel had said, “the Handwriting was on the wall.” for all to read.
Jesus was scared but courageous right from the start. He knew he could never finish the work in one life time so he gathered a group of special emissaries and trained them. The more public he went, the more in danger he was. Finally, he quit running, proved his convictions by his death and left everything to his followers.
April 12, 1997.
His emphasis was that God is a kindly, wise, holy, considerate Father. He wants people to be his children and form a family. The followers of Christ would do as they did in Rome. - life their lives and win followers through admiration. There was no special church building or liturgical service. When they ate their evening meal, they always had the symbolic cup of bread and wine to signify sharing.
All the rest of the picture is the result of a structure, a hierarchy, a standing army, and a world to conquer, Now we have 17 centuries of error to remove - and that’s what John XXIII saw.
April 17, 1997.
It is really a simple plan. The growth was not by condemning or destroying other beliefs and groups. The growth was to be by acceptance of people who saw and wanted to belong.
April 22, 1997.
The more I think of the discoveries of science through the centuries, the more I can see God grinning with delight and saying, “I told you it was very good!”
One of the real anomalies of the opening line of genesis is the fact that God is called simply “Elohim,” or the generic word, “deity”. This was being edited the first time in the reign of Solomon, the 10th century B.C. In spite of all the successive editings down to the first century B.C. the writers did not add the proper Jewish name “Yahweh.” Yet, the second account of creation in Chapter Two, which is older, has “Yahweh-Elohim.” “Tis a puzzlement!
April 25, 1997.
One of these stories is the Bible Story which begins with group of nomads who call themselves the Hebrews and Israel. The story begins with a group of founding fathers known as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. They get their start in Ur of Chaldea and migrate westward into modern day Israel. They are enslaved in Egypt and come up with their Liberator and Lawgiver, Moses. They get to the land they want to settle, cross the Jordan River and settle in the small land of the Philistines. Joshua is the leader.’
They are not a unified people but a series of independent tribes or clans fighting frequently with each other. Finally, a national unity is established under men called kings. The three who governed the whole group were Saul, David and Solomon. This period of Kingship lasts from about 1100 to 950 B.C. Saul was a military leader who degenerated into a psychopath filled with jealousy and envy. David was a military leader. Solomon was more of an intellectual. During his time the first written accounts of the Story of Israel develops.
To tie their national story with the whole universe, the origin of all things is traced to “The Deity” - “Elohim.” The writers were not the least bit interested in “how” this origin took place. They were interested in “Why?” The whole of the universe was made to establish the “family” or “brotherhood” of mankind in the “Fatherhood of the deity.”
People rebelled against the deity and another hero was raised up to save the universe from total destruction. This man was known as Noah. With these ideas as introduction, Abraham is presented.
By the time of Solomon, 950 BC., there was a sense of national unity. With his death in 930 BC this national unity was totally disrupted into two separate national groups. The north (10 tribes) called themselves Israel. The South (2 tribes) called themselves Juda.
April 26, 1997.
Then, the central section began to intermarry with the native population and they were considered ethnically tainted. They were called the Samaritans and were on a social rung lower than any animal. Thus, the land was divided into three sections: Juda to the south, Galilee to the North and Samaria in between. The Galileans were accepted by the Judeans because they contributed to the financial upkeep of the Temple and the City of Jerusalem.
In 722, the Assyrians came from the East and demolished the North or Israel. They slaughtered most of the people and took the rest captive back to Assyria.
The Kingdom of Juda managed to stay afloat until 587 BC. The neo-Babylonians swept in and defeated them and those not killed were deported to Babylon. That was the end of the Kingdom as such.
Cyrus, King of Persia (modern Iran) put the Babylonians down. In 538 BC he established a policy that all captives who wished could go back to their homelands. They would remain captives but they could work their lands for the good of Persia.
The first wave of Jewish captives returned to Jerusalem. They had been born in captivity. They had heard all the stories of the glory of the Temple and the great city of Jerusalem. When they arrived home, they were aghast. The place was a shambles and other nomadic people had taken over.
At the urgings and promises of the leaders, the Temple was restored in 520-515 BC. A few of the people lived truly holy lives. The rest adapted more and more the surrounding customs and actions. This remnant went farther and farther from their ideals until the Torah was a lot of empty words and the liturgical worship was an empty farce. A few isolated individuals and families persevered in the Jewish ideals.
There is one little ray of light in 167-164 BC. Antiochus the Terrible was the oppressor. A small handful of zealous faithful fought for their Law, customs and worship. These were given the nickname of the “Hammer,” The “maqqabah.” In English, they are called the Maccabees.
Finally, the Greek civilization took full sway and the remnant of the people of Yahweh was isolated in society.
This is by no means the whole story. This is the historic backbone. Leaders rose up to guide and lead the people to the right track even though the majority did not listen.
These people were called the “nebiim” or “prophets.” The term means a person who is a “moralist’ telling his listeners how they should act. It also means a person who talks about the future in a very special sense. He or she looks at what is happening right now and predicts the dire outcome if the mores do not change.
The first of these moralists preachers were called “Shophetem” or “judges.” Only a few of these were better than the common run of people (Then we meet Nathan.)
The last and greatest and most influential of all the Judges was a man named Samuel. He tried every way possible to keep the presence of Yahweh and his plans, ideals, and laws before the people in their lives. He failed and the Kingdom began.
Nathan rose up as a moral guide, particularly for David, but was poorly accepted. Then the father or founder of the Prophets arose. His name was Elijah and his disciple was Elisha. In spite of their advice and warnings in word and action, the kingdom went steadily away from Yahweh and moral lives.
Then came the “writing” prophets whose words, threats, ideas and admonitions were put in manuscripts for better preservation and wider use. Four are called Major Prophets because their messages are many and long. Others are called Minor Prophets because we have fewer or shorter writings. Major prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezechiel and Daniel. Minor prophets are all the rest.
Isaiah lived in the late 8th century BC. His primary concern was the “Holiness” of Yahweh that was supposed to be manifest in the lives of his people. His primary concern was the northern Kingdom because they were soon to be annihilated by outside enemies and Isaiah saw this as punishment from God.
About a century later, another prophet arose. We have no name for him but his teachings were attached to original Isaiah. His contribution is the 4 “Servant Songs” which Jesus and the first Christians saw as perfectly fulfilled by Jesus. Still another part is added later, the work of another teacher. He was of great importance to the Christians because John Baptist was forerunner of Jesus.
Then comes Jeremiah just before the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. He begged and pleaded with his contemporizes to repent and change. He was beaten, imprisoned and mistreated in every way. He foretells that a new and eternal Covenant will take the place of the abandoned Old Covenant. This covenant will be written on the hearts of people rather than on pieces of stone.
At almost the same time, another major figure, Ezechiel, rises up to guide the people in the Babylonian captivity. They are blaming everyone else, especially their ancestors, for their misery. Ezechiel stresses the notion of individual, personal responsibility. Finally, in the 2nd century BC, arises a young teenager, named Daniel. He is best known for his depiction of the “Son of Man” or the “new Adam” who is to come. When Jesus begins his work, this is the title he used at all times. He stresses that he is correcting the mistake of the first Adam, disobedience, by his life and death of perfect obedience.
How much the contemporaries of the prophets understood of these messages, we do not know. In the light of the life of Jesus, we tend to put the meaning back in the time of the prophet.
The twelve minor prophets also have important messages. The prophetic movement ends about 400 BC with Malachy. Daniel is an apocalyptic teacher rather than a prophet.
Following the prophetic age, we enter what is called the “didactic” or “Wisdom” age. The teaching is the same but more highly developed and geared especially to counteract the shallow “wisdom” of the Greek period. The Wisdom literature carried right down to the arrival of the New Age or the New Covenant.
All the Jewish world was looking for a “Messiah,” an “Anointed” of Yahweh. This person was to throw off the shackles of the pagan rulers and re-establish the “temporal” kingdom of the Jews. This kingdom would rule the world.
Many men rose up to claim this title but they were quickly killed and their influence destroyed by the pagan overlords.
Finally, two teenage boys, cousins of each other, appear on the scene. Their names are John and Jesus. Their mothers were cousins and very good friends. They visited a lot and so did the boys.
At age 30, John began his public career as itinerant preacher and prophet. He demanded a total change of heart and conversion of anyone who followed him. Six months into his public mission, Jesus walked up to be baptized by John. John wanted Jesus to take over. Jesus disagreed. He went back to Galilee and began to present his ideas. In short order he had a big following. He picked out 12 men and sent them to spread his ideas faster.
He summed up his whole “Good news” in true love - That is, service of others in their daily needs. This message was to change the whole world. The true Brotherhood of Man would show forth the full fatherhood of God. That is the total message. When it is a reality, the world will be ‘complete.”
May 2, 1997.
We have been in the habit of setting Mark’s Gospel aside because it doesn’t say a word about the early life of Jesus. Everything he has in his Gospel is found in one of the others. Actually, Mark is the story as it was told by Peter. He started where the “community” began with their first meeting on the Lake. All the concerns of Luke and Matthew about early days was a later curiosity. The Christians were to wield their power for change on the street level in their daily lives. There was no structure. That’s why we can’t find any hidden treasures. The closest we come to archeological digs are the catacombs and they were cemeteries. The only remarkable thing about them is the “tufa” stone.
They like to say St. Peter was buried beneath the altar in St. Peter’s Basilica. No one has ever established this by any evidence.
May 4, 1997.
The New Testament took on new emphasis. Not much is said about God or his nature but all the emphasis is on human harmony.
May 12, 1997.
Jesus clearly saw all the burdens and problems and tried every excuse he could muster to get out of the chore. Finally, Yahweh just says, “Get moving!” Moses shows fear, doubt, anger and the whole range of emotions in his years at the helm. There is the story of the 12 scouts and the ten who flatly refused to take the risks. Caleb and Joshua admitted the problems but wanted to move forward.
The judges show us a lot of failures with a couple who are great leaders. Deborah is one of the greatest. Samuel is outstanding in many ways and circumstances. Saul, David and Solomon are prime examples of what “not-to-be’ as leaders. The prophets present pictures of leadership in the face of great odds.
There are lots of women who are outstanding in the OT. Proverbs 31:10-31 is a beautiful description of a leader among women in that 5th century BC. Judith, Esther, Ruth are some more. The possibilities of this topic in OT alone are almost limitless. We would treat the sources simply as ’stories” handed down the Judaic culture.
Lois adds: Phil died in 2002 and I cannot complete this book alone.
May 13, 1997.
Now put the word “Leadership” in place of “kinging” and you have all the comparisons to develop the notion. We would say, “Leadership is like the grain of wheat. When the farmer sows it, some of the grain falls on the footpath and the birds gobble it up. Some of it falls among the weeds and they choke it out. Some of it falls on stones. It sprouts but soon dries up and dies. Some of it falls on good ground and yields 30, 60 or 100 percent.”
Apply this on the footpath: people who are willing to be followers at all times. Among weeds: people who will lead if there is no difficulty. On stones: people who start well but fold in the face of difficulty. The good soil: leaders vary in ability, application and results. The principal notion of Leadership in OT & NT is the shepherd.
May 16, 1997.
The prophets were “seers” in the sense that they read the effects of evil in the future generations unless it was corrected. They were “moralists” insofar as they pointed out clearly what morally good actions were at the time. Being a prophet was not an hereditary role. When Samuel was on the point of dying, the people said they would not accept his sons as advisors because they were some of the worst public offenders.
You mentioned John Baptist having a lot to do with the formation of Christ’s outlook. That is true. They complemented each other.
May 18, 1997.
May 20, 1997.
In the OT, everything that precedes Moses looks forward to his coming and work. Everything after Moses looks back to him and explains or adapts what he said. Moses is in the center of the story.
Then Christ says, “This is what you heard from Moses, Now I’m telling you.” Christ repeats the basic plan of Moses and then lifts it to new heights and possibilities.
The oldest evidence of a written text in the OT is the Yahwist editing - shortly after the time of Solomon 900-850 BC There may have been some written parts of the OT before that time but we have no evidence. All the stories of Genesis would have been as oral tradition handed down from generation to generation and editing to suit circumstances as they were told.
This chronology is essential to any development of ideas from the OT. The NT is much easier because of manuscript evidence and a shorter time lapse, 100 years at most.
May 22, 1997.
The two great saviors and leaders of the OT, Joseph and Moses, get their upbringing, learning and leadership from the Egyptians. Joseph goes in as a teenager and becomes so Egyptian even in appearance that his brothers don’t recognize him. Moses is taken to the court as a baby and becomes totally Egyptian except he remembers his background from what he learned from his mother.
Joseph was a savior. Moses was a Liberator, leader, lawgiver and counselor. Joseph is presented as a spoiled brat and is tossed in the well. Moses saw all the problems and looked for and found solutions. He lived in the desert, married a girl from a desert family, took care of the flock for several years and knew all about desert life.
He really hesitates to take on the liberation of his people and yet he feels an obligation. He gets very excited and then has a hard time speaking clearly. The more I think about this, the more I think of standing in front of the statue of Moses in Rome, carved by Michelangelo. Moses looks as if he is just ready to speak. It would be great if the statues of Moses, David, Peter and John suddenly came to life and appeared on the 6:00 news for several days.
May 23, 1997.
Moses sent the 12 scouts ahead of the group to look over the land and people of the Philistines. The scouts came back and all agreed the land was indeed a prize to be coveted. However, ten of the scouts said they could not possibly conquer the people. Two of the scouts, Caleb and Joshua, agreed it would be real work but with the help of Yahweh they could take the land. Moses went with Caleb and Joshua. Then Moses realized he was not going to be in for the finish so he appointed Joshua to take his place. Moses looked across the Jordan and saw the land but he never entered it.
Ordinarily, such a man would soon become a memory as the history moved on. However, all the teachers and prophets from that time forward, 1250 B.C., updated, applied and lived by his teaching. Any time a plan succeeded in the OT, it was attributed to the wisdom of Moses. Solomon gave himself the title of wise man but he was clearly pompous after his first years in office.
Then Christ comes. He and the Baptist pick up the Old Moses theme. J.B. insists the people have to live the principle and ideals of Moses. Jesus goes a step beyond. He says Moses was right for his times but now they have to go forward.
May 27, 1997.
Then we started to learn more about the Hebrew language and realized the oldest part of the OT could not have been written prior to Solomon in the 10th century B.C. Then we found evidence of words of Aramaic origin that were not in existence until the 2nd century B.C. Finally, we realized that the OT was edited over and over again. The final editing was in the time of Daniel in the 2nd century B.C.
I’m wondering if the whole patriarchal picture of Genesis is a series of stories that were made up to give a little group of “escaped slaves” a national background. The real hero of the entire OT story is an Egyptian noble who led this group of slaves out of captivity. His name is actually Egyptian for “son” and the Hebrew writers try to explain it from a Hebrew root.
The first actual history in the sense of factual data would be the small band of wanderers crossing the Jordan and striving to settle in an already inhabited land. They had their “General Custer” and he led them to conquer the local groups and take over the land.
The whole picture changes when John Baptist and Jesus Christ decide to give more depth and meaning to the “people of Yahweh.”
May 29, 1997.
All ancient peoples had their folklore or stories of origin. They were always connected with some superior beings. They invented these beings according to their needs, and developed rituals, practices and superstitions to suit their purposes.
Out of this vast agglomeration of ancestral stories arose the story of Israel. It would probably never have continued except that these people settled in the land of the Philistines and took it over.
Then the Roman Empire came through with their Interstate system of highways. They wanted a land route from Rome to Africa and especially Egypt. So they overthrew the Israelites and carried their story back to Rome. Later on, the successors to Israel and the followers of a New Moses, the Christians, came to Rome. They were a real threat to the sense of Roman tyranny. They were to be erased but the process didn’t work. Finally, Rome capitulated and the ideal of the Bible was on its way to fulfillment.
Then the structure of the church replaced the structure of the Caesars and we are still far from the Brotherhood of Mankind.
June 1, 1997.
Matthew was a Jew. He was a tax collector. He appreciated the importance of Moses in the story of his people. Matthew was a renegade according to the Jewish leaders of his day because he worked for Rome. He despised the leaders of the Jews of that day and delighted in giving the full curse in as pronounced by Christ.
Luke as a medical doctor and is concerned with the total healing power of Christ’s message. He stresses the kindness of Christ. John sees the picture all the way to the beginning. For him, Christ is the true Adam. He sets mankind on a path that can achieve the harmony and peace God intended from the beginning.
June 7, 1997.
In Peter’s picture, in his letters especially, the key note is always to have the reason for the hope that is in you. This fits the picture of Peter. Hope meant always looking forward to what could and should be done.
Matthew sees leadership in the empowering of yourself with the strengths of a king. He describes this fully all the way through his Gospel in a logical unemotional pattern. Jesus is the fulness of Moses. Jesus is the Leader, the Liberator, the Lawgiver. His work will make every person (seed) no matter how small, into a big tree to bear fruit galore.
John sees the leadership as the Shepherd, out in front, knowing and leading. Paul does not contribute much because he was usually “raising hell.” The positive parts of his letters are the work of Luke.
June 8, 1997.
The Egyptians were noted for their building and writing but they did not have the influence on thought of the Greek philosophers. The LXX (Septuagent) translators were a group of Greek-speaking scholars in Egypt. They had a facile command of Hebrew and Greek. They were also well aware of the great Greek philosophers.
For centuries the Greek translation of the OT took precedence over the Hebrew text. Most translations of the Bible used by theologians up to 1942 were all faulty translations of the Greek.
June 12, 1997.
This is the world into which the ideals of Jesus Christ came. He taught the value of every human being and the necessity of “sharing” at all times. It took the Christian society just short of 3 centuries to establish this ideal. In 313, Constantine accepted Christ and the Roman philosophy began to change. 13 years later, 326, there was a fully structured church and the return to paganism began.
The various orders of monks and nuns were founded by men and women to re-establish the basic Christian ideal. In every case, within a few generations, reform was needed because the structure was destroying the ideal. Right now, the structured church is feeling the effects dramatically in the closing of seminaries and monasteries.
June 17, 1997.
The first Christians caught the message and the ideals and the enthusiasm. The only problem was Paul - the convert rabbi! He never did understand the true picture. The Christians in Rome decided to get rid of the problem by sending him out of the area. Paul was a domineering, cantankerous, self-pitying know-it-all. Fortunately, Luke edited all his letters and they contained some positive ideas.
July 2, 1997.
Matthew’s Gospel is used more than the others in theology and in the Liturgy. This usage is clearly the result of reducing the Gospel to scholastic syllogisms. The real parallel between the Old torah and the New is not developed. The fact that the word “basileia” should be translated as “kinging” rather than “kingdom” is constantly overlooked. Vogt stressed this at the PIB. I brought it up at a CBA meeting and Barney Ahern and others jumped at the concept. They had never heard of the translation and yet it is in every Greek grammar. “eia” in Greek shows action, like “ing” in English.
July 5, 1997.
Moses had the insight to see what needed to be done, the foresight to know when to do it, and the hindsight to learn from successes and failures. The law that he worked out in the Ten Commandments has never been surpassed and is still the basis of all human law and society. His presentation of a “Deity” is one that can be used by anyone. He presented him as the one who is the origin of this universe, who continues to care for it, and toward whom everything moves to reach fulfillment.
Then Moses lay down the basic rules that are needed to achieve this goal. He did not make a lot of rules but only those needed to keep order and achieve success. After his time the teachers and leaders multiplied rules and regulations. The Prophets saw the wisdom and simplicity of Moses and kept trying to bring the people back to it.
July 6, 1997.
The new Moses, Jesus Christ, wanted just the opposite. They were to be recognized by their sincere kindness toward each other and toward all the people among whom they lived. The final cup of wine and the dipping in of the bread was the symbol of this sharing.
The old Torah was still in vogue as far as it touched their lives and was brought forward. The central event of the life of Israel, the exodus from Egypt, was commemorated each year by the Passover meal. Jesus kept the meal but dropped its old meaning and said it was to be remind the Christians of Jesus. Paul talked about the new freedom but he is actually the source of a lot of OT customs.
The plan of Jesus worked. In about 270 years, the Christians overcame the persecution of the Romans and converted the Emperor. The Romans marveled at how the “Christians loved everyone.”
July 7, 1997.
July 13-14, 1997.
Christ saw that his ideas were quickly accepted but the basic ideal was missed. The world had to be changed. Lasting change is achieved only from the inside out. So his whole message boiled down to his followers interacting by kindness and consideration on the society in which they lived. They would be recognized by their kindness and generosity toward each other. They would restore human dignity by their sharing and kindness (Koinonia). The huge churches (buildings) throughout the world are the symbol of the “dead weight” that oppresses the world in the name of religion.
July 16, 1997.
July 17, 1997.
Christ broadened the vision to the whole world. He was offering as his parting gift the “Holy Breath” (Holy Spirit.) A new creation was to take place. It was to include the entire world. It was to replace the original “creative breath” which had been tainted by the failure of mankind. Christ’s followers were to bring the world to “completion.”
The world is to accomplish its original purpose. That’s the work that has to be done and this is the thread I have to weave through it.
July 23, 1997.
The idea of terror and destruction is all from the Apocalypse and is a description of the Roman tyranny of the first centuries.
July 24, 1997.
July 26, 1997.
Each time I read this 4th Gospel story, I start with the picture of John’s first meeting with Christ. He was 13 or 14 years old. He was busy cleaning up the nets to get out fishing on his dad’s boat. By temperament, he was a “boanerges” - a “son of thunder” He was a sharp kid and always on the cutting edge wanting to get things done. The Gospels say clearly he was a favorite of Christ. On Easter Sunday, he took off and arrived at the tomb, first. Then he hesitated to barge right in, so he waited for Peter. In many ways, he was like Daniel and the 3 teenagers in the OT.
He lived beyond the turn of the 1st century. Then his Gospel story was published, about 125 AD posthumously. What a reunion that crew must have had when he died. Everyone was there ahead of him and in came John - “big grin on his face.” and a simple “what’s up?”
July 27, 1997.
August 12, 1997.
The key to his success was the raising of Lazarus from the dead and then his own resurrection. The Apostles finally caught his “Spirit” after he was gone and the work continued.
August 13, 1997.
Gradually, the whole notion of a supreme being evolved. This being was called El, Elohim, Elihim in the semitic world; Theos in the Greek world; Deus in the Latin World; Gott or God in the German world. Gradually, people developed stories about this supreme being.
The Hebrews called him Yahweh (He causes to be) and developed a picture of Father and children. The Hebrews were primarily interested in what he would or could do for them. Finally, when they were destroyed except for a handful, Ezechiel, one of their teachers, talked about a human being’s personal responsibility to self and others and Yahweh. This idea grew and slowly became the official outlook of the Hebrews or Jews.
Jesus picks up from that point. He keeps alive the notion of Father - but his emphasis is on the responsibility to self and others. So much does he emphasize this that he says “anyone who says he loves God whom he can’t see and does not love his neighbor whom he can see is a liar.” “By this shall all people know that you are my convinced followers in the love you have for each other.” - You still believe this! A lot of the “pious rot” developed by theologians and the church never was true.
August 15, 1997.
John was the young man to whom Jesus entrusted Mary as he was dying.
August 16, 1997.
The big question in the writer’s mind was “Who or What is Elohim or God?” After studying every preceding presentation, they concluded he was the Speaker or the Word. When he spoke, things happened. Finally, this Speaker took visible human shape in the form of a man who lived right with us.
He was a man who could speak and things happened. He spoke and water became wine. He spoke and bread and fish multiplied. He spoke and a corpse, Lazarus, came out of the tomb. He was visible human evidence of the power of this Speaker. He is the new Adam and Mary is the new Eve. Now mankind had a second chance to develop what the Word or Speaker gave us.
How did John prove this? He didn’t. This is one explanation of the universe which became popular and spread. The value and power of the theory is quickly lost by taking it as a scientific explanation of the universe and denying the science that developed. Now there is intellectual conflict where there should be harmony and growth.
August 18, 1997.
Christ did the same thing and ran into absolute opposition. He picked his followers on whom to build and the church was off and running. Rome opposed the whole program and literally tried to kill the followers. Pagan Rome finally accepted the ideas and ideals of Christ and the church was off and running. Then the leaders lost sight of the goals and organized the program to a static death.
August 19, 1997.
From about 60 AD to 313 AD the Christians were frequently substitutes for the bouts with the lions. The Apostolic Fathers left us many descriptions of the bravery and the suffering of these people.
August 27, 1997.
This approach changed officially with Ezechiel at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC and the neo-Babylonian captivity. From that time on all the official teaching stress was laid on the individual and his/her accountability for actions. Jeremiah, at the same time, said the Old covenant is washed up. The New and Eternal Covenant will be “written on the heart of each individual.” That was the official position when Christ arrived on the scene.
However, the Pharisees (Separatists) blamed Rome for all problems. The Scribes were their minions and they explained the whole Torah in this fashion. So the people began to look for a Messiah who would crush Rome and put Israel on top again.
John Baptist and Christ realized how ridiculous this teaching was. They took it upon themselves to preach and teach individual responsibility. This truth is the core of Christian life. If a sense of individual responsibility is truly established the wrongs of the world can be righted.
August 28, 1997.
He was pursued far more than Paul by civil authorities. John is called the “Apostle of Love” but love for him is a living dynamic force that changes the world one person at a time. John is given credit as a martyr even though he died a natural death.
September 1, 1997.
He was 13 or 14 years old at the time of the first meeting. He was bright kid and into everything. He would be like an 8th or 9th grader today. A few years later, he was about 16 as he stood at the foot of the Cross. He was told to take care of Mary as his mother and she was told to work with the small group as the New Eve.
Then came Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene runs to tell the Apostles of the empty tomb. Peter and John run to the place. John stops at the entry but Peter barges right in. How many times John must have replayed these scenes through his long lifetime. His Gospel is the story of his reactions.
September 10, 1997.
September 13, 1997.
September 15, 1997.
I think these ideas should be clearly stated in a prenote or preface to any translation of John’s Gospel. I don’t think the term should be dropped from the Gospel because of a modern meaning in our world. Either we accept literature as it was written or we destroy history.
September 16, 1997.
Persia offered the Jews a new start and a few of them used the opportunity but were soon at odds with everyone. The Romans, in 68-70 AD, put the final touches to the picture. Juda had never recovered from that defeat. The Romans took delight in persecuting them.
After 18.5 centuries, the modern “Israel” tried to lay claim to all the biblical Palestine including the East Banks of the Jordan and the Lake of Galilee. The Palestinian Arabs resented this intrusion and Israel is back to the picture of the Exodus and the crossing of the Jordan under Moses and Joshua. The Catholic Crusades also toss a fast curve to the picture. So I’d say, Yahweh meant what he said when he told them of reject under Daniel.
September 19, 1997.
John’s gospel is also the one that stresses the low esteem that the people in Jerusalem had for the people of Galilee and the people of Samaria. Of Nazareth, the leaders say “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” They saw Galilee in general and Nazareth in particular, as the center for criminals and crooks. That’s why the title on the cross “Jews of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” is so detectable to the leaders. John says Pilate put that title in 3 languages on the cross so that all people could read it.
There is also the incident with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus asks her for a drink. Her answer is “You are a Jew and I a Samaritan, and you are talking to me?” She did not know he was from Nazareth because they were coming from Jerusalem.
September 20, 1997.
The term "Jews," is used to mean the leaders of the Jews in their open hostility to Christ. It is used to mean all the members of the chosen people simply as their official title. It is used by Pilate to show his total detestation for the Jewish people which was partly the official Roman attitude and partly Pilate's special dislike for his job. He thought he deserved better.
Paul's letter to the Romans uses the title as an honorable name. In the OT, the name becomes the official title after 587 BC. and the destruction of Jerusalem.
September 22, 1997.
September 25, 1997.
Looking at the whole question, 480 years later, the whole problem and all decisions at Trent in 1563 could have been sidestepped easily. First of all, Luther was a Scripture scholar far ahead of his times as can be seen by his writings still extant. Understanding Faith in its full Hebrew sense as he did, his statement was true. A person is to live by Faith alone.
Understanding Faith in the narrow catechism sense of the Roman authorities and theologians of the time, Luther was a heretic. Luther was crude and thumbed his nose at the Roman authorities. Rome was on its high horse and turned away in a huff. The Dominicans tried to speak up but were told to be quiet.
Then the Latin Vulgate with all its mistranslations was given authority over all original texts. The academic mess grew steadily worse until 1943 and Bea's tricking Pius XII into signing Divino Afflante Spiritu (must study Scripture in original languages).
October 1, 1997.
The original writings were all in the popular form of the times. The New Testament was despised by classical Greeks because it was written in “koine” or "common" idiom of the first centuries. Scholars had to write special grammars to explain this common usage.
We were taught both the Koine and classical Greek in DC and in Rome. In fact, Marty Higgins, Greek prof at C.U., would not pass a student who did not learn the classical usage. He also insisted we should not reference the Koine as inferior. It was "popular" as in the language of newspapers and magazines.
October 4, 1997.
Greek was the common language of the early Christians outside of Palestine. So all the writings of the NT are in Greek.
This is "koine" or "common" Greek in contrast to the classical of Homer. I read the article on Greece in our Encyclopedia and found it well done with three or four cross references I still have to look up. The early Fathers of the church wrote in Koine Greek. The Migne collection was about 125 volumes of the Latin Fathers. We had the entire set in Oc-oc and that was one block of books that was burned when the CSsR sold out.
October 5, 1997.
There have been as many different answers to this question as there were different cultures. Almost all of them had multiple deities and a hierarchy within the ranks. These gods had to be flattered, appeased, and called on in various ways and rituals and signs.
The one basic notion of God in the Bible is "Father.” This idea becomes stronger and stronger until Jesus propounds his ideas by his life and words.
The one point Jesus stresses is that there was to be no ritual other than a community meal from time to time. His followers were to change the world by the example of their sharing with each other in daily life. Gradually, this community meal, a pot-luck supper, became a daily occurrence. According to Irenaeus, this frequency was to make sure that all the followers, especially the poor people, were properly fed. Today, the breakfast or supper is considered an extra or sideline.
October 15, 1997.
I really like what I have now because the whole picture is within the grasp of the human mind. There are no mysteries that must be taken on faith in the infallible authority of some Pope or Council. The very notion of Original Sin and its consequences is a farce. The human race still falls back regularly into acts of meanness and brutality. This simply shows the work still to be done.
October 16, 1997.
October 17, 1997.
October 18, 1997.
October 21, 1997.
The "holy breath" is the removal of the "tainted breath" by Christ who bestowed of the "new Breath" after the Resurrection. The description of the gift of the Holy Breath is "tongues of fire." Fire is the symbol of mission as in Moses and Elijah. The form of a "tongue" is to indicate how this mission is to be carried out by teaching, not force, fighting or wars. The Gift of Tongues was the power to speak in this new spirit.
October 30-31, 1997.
Then came all the prophets and teachers of the OT. Their one goal was to establish and maintain a society of their people in which everyone got along and worked together. They were to be the "model family" of the human race. For this they needed a "common father." So the Father was born. Then all the qualities of this Father were developed for the guidance and imitation of the people.
November 2, 1997.
However, the word "Bara," is from the Aramaic-Hebrew of the 2 to 1st century B.C. It means to "beget a son." The last writers of the OT stressed the Fatherhood of God to establish the Brotherhood of Man. This is the point from which John Baptist and Jesus start. The followers of Jesus were to infuse this "brotherhood" in the society in which they lived. It took almost 3 centuries to convert Rome. Then the world was to follow.
November 4, 1997.
November 5, 1997.
These gods had all the fickleness of their human followers. They were easily offended and then they flung out their punishments. It could be crop failure and starvation. It could be defeat at the hands of the enemy. The difficult part was what to do to assuage their anger.
From the very start, Moses meets Yahweh on the mountain and brings his presence right to the people.
November 6-7, 1997.
The creation story is a borrowing from the pagan mythologies which is re-written by the priestly editors in the 6th century BC, and again in the 2nd-1st century BC by the Apocalyptic editors. The final creation story is written with one idea in mind. The whole world in which we live is to manifest the Fatherhood of Yahweh. He is not sitting in the sky or some high mountain. He is a "surrounding presence" manifest by the true "Brotherhood of man."
The "patriarchal stories" are an attempt to give an historic setting in time and place by the beginnings of the Hebrew people. Genesis 11-59 covers a period of at least 600 years, 1850-1250 B.C. Then comes the Moses story. This begins on a mountain top and comes down to earth. Instead of a myriad of orgies and fertility cults, Yahweh sends down a Moral plan of action that has become the basis of all law and rights and duties in the western world. This first version was developed by Moses and more in detail in the "Sermon on the Mount."
November 13, 1997.
As I look back at the Council of Trent in 1563 and see the high-handed, authoritarian way in which the Council members acted, I was surprised only Luther had rebelled. Yet that council and its pronouncements held sway in all Catholic schools of theology until 1942. Then Bea had to slide the encyclical letter into a pile of papers.
Lyonnet, SJ, in Rome at the PIB was the first person I met who saw the whole picture and was able to teach it publicly.
November 15, 1997.
November 18, 1997.
Evolution is great evidence of Wisdom and power. Anybody could take boards, nails and tools and make a wagon box. But it takes a tremendous wisdom to make a little seed that grows into a big tree which can provide the lumber.
November 19, 1997.
From the very start, woman is presented as a partner equal to man on all scores. The Book of Proverbs ends with its elegant poem on the true dignity of woman. This was written and sung at a time when the Greek civilization saw women as sexual playthings and servants. It was sung as an aria or solo at the Jewish gatherings in the synagogues. Then the examples from Jewish history were recalled - Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Ruth, Judith, Esther.
November 26, 1997.
The Biblical notion is so clear. We don't and can't have any true picture of God. We can only point out aspects or qualities that we think he has. Each book of the OT is a masterpiece in this way. When we get clear to the end (of OT) we get a treatise like Job which challenges everything said about God up to that time.
December 29, 1997.
Originally, a new meaning was to be given to the annual Seder or Paschal meal. It was to commemorate the work of Jesus Christ as the new Moses rather than the Pascal Lamb of the Old Moses. This action was to be seen in the Cup of friendship which concluded each Passover Meal. Each participant dipped a piece of bread into the final cup of wine and that was it.
The Pauline communities extended this custom to every community meal which was held on each Sabbath. However, this weekly participation was strictly voluntary.
January 1, 1998.
Matthew saw everything in the promotion of Kingship. This Kingship was multi-faceted and took numerous stories to show its meaning and value. For Matthew each individual succeeds or fails according to the way in which they help each other.
John stresses that everything is love and love is service to and sharing with each other.
That's the whole message. Other "dogmas" are baggage tacked on.
January 4, 1998.
January 10, 1998.
January 15, 1998.
If we translate the word "blessed" as "Real happiness is" then we get the true meaning of the message of Christ. His ambition was to offer a pattern whereby people could establish happiness everywhere. The whole picture, Beatitudes in MT, deals with the manner in which we relate to each other and all the things around us. It is not a pattern of austerity and denial but the use of all things according to their purpose. This presupposes study, growth and sharing.
January 16, 1998.
January 23, 1998.
Christ saw the heart of the problem. They did not need structure. They were to be a "kahal" or "ekklesia" or "gathering" in the midst of every nation in which they lived. They were to turn the whole world around by their example of friendship, service and sharing. These ideals would go against the grain of the pagan nations but they had to be followed. They were followed almost 3 centuries and it worked. The emperor became a follower of Christ.
In this whole picture, Christ is a strong convinced leader, always fearful of the demands to be made on him personally and whether he could or would measure up.
February 2, 1998.
Christ saw the vocation and role of his people in the plan unfolded with Moses. He knew the efforts of the prophets and the failure of people to listen. Then he saw the so-called leaders of his time and the way they were destroying the message and people. He couldn't help himself. He had to speak out strongly even though it meant suffering and death.
February 4, 1998.
Peter was the source of Mark's picture of Christ and so often Mark is just ignored because everything he has to say is found in one of the other Gospel stories. Peter's most basic idea comes from his own failure. He says, "You must always have a full reason for the ambitions and hopes that are in you.."
Peter didn't. He always acted and then asked himself "Why." He was certainly the right man to pick as the Kepha or foundation of the ongoing society. The ambition of the first Christians was so simple. They wanted to have a profound effect on all of society by the way they worked and shared with each other.
Luke gives the details. For him, everything revolved around the "Holy Spirit," the high-minded sharing that was called for. Everyone in the world was called to his ideal, not just the Chosen People. Women had to be given equal status.
February 18, 1998.
February 19, 1998.
We know there were more Gospel stories written but at the 1563 Council of Trent four were chosen as the most representative. The historians at the Council maintained these were the only four that could be authenticated. However, we have a lot of writings from the Apostolic Fathers in the Vatican Museum. These have never been thoroughly read because of the danger of destroying the books. Perhaps a time will come when these ancient documents can be used.
March 3, 1998.
He worked at home as an apprentice to Joseph, his father. At age 30, he left to see the world and to see what he wanted to do with this life. He quickly saw all the gross injustices imposed by Rome and the Jewish leaders on the hoi polloi. He was angry and decided to protest loudly as John, his cousin, had been doing for about 6 months.
His basic idea was that sincere love had to be revived in the world. But love was not merely an emotion. Love meant sharing with all the neighbors around them. This sharing or Spirit would soon change the world. To remind them, he told them to share the bread and wine in memory of him rather than the Passover Lamb.
March 11, 1998.
March 19, 1998.
April 9 -10, 1998.
They have been on the bottom of the social heap and they moaned and groaned. They have been on the top of the pile and they ground everyone down who opposed them. They have a tradition of being great financiers and this is the way they gain control. The Bar Mitzvah is the most important date in a boy's life and of his family.
Jesus Christ was a Jew who had a totally different philosophy of life. He was hated by the Jewish leaders and turned over to Roman authorities for his opposition. When Pilate tried to turn him back into their courts, these leaders replied, "We have no power to kill!" They wanted him dead so Pilate did their dirty work.
The Good Friday liturgy in the Catholic liturgy turned into a morbid dive. The words on the cross were gathered into a single group and then presented as something tragic. Actually they were words of victory in each Gospel. John and Mary had to be the source of whatever Jesus said because they were the only ones present. - John was a kid and Mary was really grieving.
April 18, 1998.
David finally got the upper hand. He and his men slaughtered mercilessly in the name of Yahweh. He became King on 1012 BC. He lasted 40 years. Saul took over and he lasted about 40 years. With his death, the ten northern tribes broke away from the south - Juda and Benjamin. The Northern Kingdom was destroyed in the 8th century and Jerusalem fell in 587 B.C. From that time to the present day, the picture has been the same. Only the names and weapons change.
April 22, 1998.
The first Christians were not out to form some kind of separate society as the Jews had done. They were to be part of the society in which they lived and worked to establish a true "sharing" based on sincere love. This is what Christ meant by his "Gehala" or "Church." It was to be recognized and attract followers because of the sincere practical love the people had for each other.
The only characteristics the first Christians laid down for the "church" was to be "Holy" and spread to the whole world. As long as this concept was in vogue the work Christ envisioned was carried out.
April 29, 1998.
May 4, 1998.
May 7, 1998.
The twelve who were with Christ during the public life did not really get the key message as Luke points out clearly in Acts. Only after Christ was gone did they realize that the key message was the "Holy Spirit" - the sense of community and sharing. This basic idea would turn the world from a self-centered, destructive group to a creative productive unit to establish peace and harmony.
They started off by putting all their goods in common. They quickly dropped the practice because of greed and disharmony. By the time the group was firmly established in Rome, about 40 AD, they were noted for mutual love and sharing. This lead to the persecutions by the Roman leaders and led to a flocking of people to join up.
Finally, in 313 AD, the Emperor is converted, the persecutions stop. In a few generations, the top-heavy structure begins and squashes the ideals of Christ. With the council of Nice in 325 AD the frozen structure is in place.
May 8, 1998.
In the first years, the Apostles were the leaders. Then they appointed presbyteroi or elders to take charge when they were working elsewhere. Out of this simple picture came the "priests," episcopoi (bishops) and archbishops, cardinals and Pope. With Trent in the 16th century, this was given as the leadership in the Roman structure. A clear separation between clerics and laity was established. The Code of Canon Law was frozen into 2414 canons in 1918. All other laws were declared null and void. Rubrics and liturgy became the "church Life" and the church had destroyed the work of Christ and restored the Saddusaic form of Judaism.
May 10, 1998.
May 11, 1998.
He realized that the whole goal of the previous revelation was to establish an earth peopled by people who shared everything. The details he did not give. He outlined basic ideas and ideals and expected his followers to adopt and adapt as they lived.
May 15, 1998.
That Last Supper was a real meal like the one we had at Norma's last night. You prepared the crock pot. Norma supplied a leftover salad and strawberry pie. We ate and enjoyed each other's company. We played a game of Scrabble and went back home.
Jesus and the 12 were having a big dinner recalling their past history and drank the friendship cup. When they came to the end of the meal, he said, "From now on, eat this meal in memory of me." He knew he was going to let himself be taken.
May 23, 1998.
I think the public life lasted only one year as Synoptics indicate.
May 25, 1998.
The "valley of Hinnon" was the temple dump where all the remains of sacrifices were dumped and burned. Christ is promising that nobody will be excluded from this church or gathering. Later, in the same gospel, he says there is only one reason why a person can exclude him/herself. That is the refusal to share with others.
May 26, 1998.
Out of these people came a John the Baptist and a Jesus, men who decided to pick up the pieces and do something. Both of them had great followings among the ordinary people. Both were killed by the leaders but finally their work moved on. Their real success was that they got out of Jerusalem and went to Rome. They actually lived the message of Jesus. They established real community. Then the Papal Structure, the new Pharisees and Sadducees, approach took over.
May 29, 1998.
The Jews in Alexandria had made matters worse by building a Temple almost identical to Solomon's colossus. Then the Greek-Jews carried on the whole ritual in Alexandria. In the 11th century AD, we see the same animosity and hatred between Rome and the Greek in the Catholic fold.
John XXIII settled the whole dispute with simple statement. He was told that the Eastern Prelate wanted to walk parallel with him. Protocol urged the Pope to lead and have the place of honor. John XXIII shocked all by saying, "I don't care where they walk - front, back or even, as long as they don't block my path." - With that statement he laid to rest the centuries old fight.
It's a lot like the Apostles who tried to keep the kids away from Christ. He said, "Let them alone. If you don't become as open as these kids, you won't even see the Kingdom of God."
June 3, 1998.
June 4, 1998.
The Jews were expecting the return of Elijah before the coming of the Messiah. When asked about this, he said simply, He's already here! and he pointed to John the Baptist.
Elijah in the OT was a real "blood and thunder" preacher. The leaders of the Jews wanted to kill him again and again. Each time he outfoxed them. John B. certainly had this tone in his public work.
June 9, 1998.
Now I see Jesus as a person who was really puzzled by his ideas and goals. He saw how foreign his ideas were to the official teachings of the day. Yet he liked to get along with people and live in harmony. J.B., his cousin, was more of a confronter and spoke out at meetings to whoever was there. Then John left and started his own approach with warnings and threats and uncompromising attitudes.
Jesus gradually decides he has to do his bit. He picks up some fishermen and tax collector and starts for Jerusalem. The people liked what they heard and saw but Jesus was continually wondering about his true identity. He did not want to get into Roman or Jewish politics. Yet he had a drive that told him to forge ahead. In short, he is a real person with a goal, filled with dangers and yet is impelled from within to keep going.
June 10, 1998.
They were real people, not pedestal saints.
June 14, 1998.
June 15-16, 1998.
June 17, 1998.
I think Joseph would have spoken in these discussions and I think Mary and Joseph discussed the matter in the presence of Jesus. I see Mary and Joseph as outspoken young Jews who were convinced something had to be done. Jesus picked up their attitudes and ideas.
Zachary and Elizabeth would have a different approach. Zachary belonged to the priestly group and clearly was out of sync with their shallow hypocrisy. He would have talked about this openly with Elizabeth and JB got his education in this setting. Then Jesus and JB exchanged ideas.
June 21, 1998.
June 24, 1998.
July 6, 1998.
Then the cousin, Jesus, shows up. He is just as convinced of his ideas but he is more the Isaiah type. He is forceful and can become vehement as he did in the Temple on one occasion. But in general, his ideas and message are more the harmony that has to be developed by true community or sharing.
These two cousins brought one age of the world to an end and introduced the new one. Jesus says this is the final stage because we have to establish the “telos,” the fulfillment of all things into perfect harmony.
July 13, 1998.
What john is uniting by the dove is the Flood Story and the Jesus story. The flood story says that the whole world was flooded because of sin and corruption. The dove is the symbol of a second and final new beginning in a man filled with the Breath of Yahweh. He is the new Adam establishing harmony, community and sharing. If we can realize this harmony and sharing we can change the world.
July 14, 1998.
Mark is presenting the Christ that Peter preached in Rome. Luke is presenting the picture as he deduced it from the work of Paul and Barnabas. Matthew is giving the Christ that he personally knew. John is telling us what Christ meant to him from the time he was a 13 or 14 year old boy to the end of a long life in the midst of the Roman persecutions. John, the Boanerges, the Son of Thunder, is still my favorite picture.
July 22, 1998.
This Rome left us the huge stone monuments of the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Circus Maximus, the Palace of the Caesars and the Roman road system. Palestine was a key area of this road system for a land route to Egypt and the Middle East. Pilate and the other civil rulers were puppets of Rome. The Jews were constantly talking of the Messiah who was due any day and would re-establish the temporal supremacy of the Chosen People.
In this setting JB and Christ taught the true notion of King and Kingship. They and the message were totally rejected.
July 23, 1998.
For the most part, Paul’s letters are an answer he gave to some problem in a (specific) community where he worked. Luke edited all the letters but had a hard time dressing them up. The good part about Paul is that Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts to give a positive and full picture.
As a medical doctor, Luke was interested in “soteria” and “Soter” -Greek for “health” and “health-giver.” Luke saw the message of Christ as the source of health in every sense of the word. His primary point is that this “health” is offered to everyone, everywhere, for all times. The “poor” are in no way excluded as they were in the Greek and Roman world because they were looked upon as a sub-human group. The dignity and importance of women were to be upheld.
July 24, 1998.
The Jews of that time were thinking constantly of a Messiah who would conquer Rome and give all this luxury to them. Over a 100 Messiahs arose in the time of Christ. As Gamaliel said, “Each was quickly exposed as a fake.” Then Christ comes with a whole new way to change the world by “sharing out of sincere love.” The Romans laughed and the leaders of the Jews hated and wanted to kill.
July 25, 1998.
The Gospels present four aspects of this “sharing.” Mark takes Peter’s idea of “apologia.” You must always understand the reason for your actions. Luke says it as “soteria” or health of others in the full sense of the word. Matthew says it is “Basileia” or the happiness established by everyone being a “king.” John says it is all “aesthesia” or sonship. The brotherhood of mankind is to manifest the fatherhood of God. These are the key notions that were understood and lived for a while. Then the structure blotted them out by ritualism.
July 27, 1998.
August 3, 1998.
The key to the whole picture is the word “Qehalah” in Aramaic or “Ekklesia” in Greek. Both of these words are translated into Latin and English as “church” and referred to the structured society or building, set apart from the people and other buildings. The intent of Christ and the understanding of the first Christians was a group of people who lived their ideas and ideals in daily life and infiltrated society like leaven in dough. Their influence would gradually redeem or rebuild the society of their times according to the ideals of Christ.
August 7, 1998.
After they failed, the blessings remained but difficulty was attached to childbirth. The wives of the patriarchs were extremely powerful - Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel.
The loss of respect and second place for women starts with David and Solomon. But when the people were at the bottom of the barrel, some women saved the day. Thus we have Ruth, Deborah, Judith, and Esther. When Mary is presented in the Gospels, she is the one on whom the whole work of Salvation depends in her “consent.” She is the Queen-Mother in Matthew. She is the “woman”, the new Eve, at the side of the new Adam in John. Mary is given a position of leadership in a special deposition from the cross in John.
Through the centuries women have been outstanding in all their work in teaching and care of the sick.
August 17, 1998.
Then we have the qualities of human love in I Corinthians. This is early editing added by St. Luke.
The world into which the first Christians walked with the message of Christ was just as selfish, sinful and inhuman as ours is today. The major difference today is the speed with which we can communicate with any part of the world.
August 25, 1998.
September 15, 1998.
Luke develops everything as “soteria” which means “health” in every sense of the word: Physical, spiritual, mental, individual and community. His editing of the qualities of “love in 1C:13 is a development of this basic idea.
Matthew is concerned only with “Basileia” which means “kinging” as in the game of checkers. The term stresses the power for good in all people who develop “community” or “sharing” in the full sense of the word.
John stresses “huisthesia”, the power to become a true “child of the father” if you have a sincere love that is expressed in “service” of all people in your life.
With a message (Gospel) so basic, all evil would be overcome. However, it is constant work.
October 2, 1998.
Jesus saw the plight of the ordinary people and how they were being ignored or sold out by the leaders. So he developed his ideas as to what should be done. There was nothing bombastic about his ideas or style. Out of all his friends and followers he picked twelve young men to continue his work.
The word “miracle” in the sense of the “unusual” or “beyond nature” is not used in the NT. The word “simeion” or “sign” is used most of the time.
October 26, 1998.
November 1-2, 1998.
November 24, 1998.
November 25, 1998.
Abraham had traveled from the east with the migrations of his day. He had settled in Palestine as did all the other travelers because it was the first habitable land they entered. Some went north and on toward Rome. Some went south and on to Egypt. Others stayed in Palestine and Abraham was one of these.
To fulfill that trip of Abraham in the life of Jesus, we have the story of the Magi. It is a story full of symbolic meaning for the later life of Jesus. What the actual event was, is hard to say. The meaning is clear in the conclusion of the Gospel writer.
November 27-28, 1998.
I thought of Matthew as older than the others but the fact is that Rome hired tax collectors in their late teens and early twenties. They were easier to control. Older men hesitated to work for the enemy.
Matthew had the mind of a financier. His Gospel follows this pattern. He describes what was said or done by Jesus or the crowds. He draws on texts from the OT to show how this had happened before. Then he drew his conclusions. I contrast him with John who was a young person with high emotions.
December 5, 1998.
Yahweh was the source of the whole universe. Everything in it has a purpose which will gradually unfold. The role of mankind is to bring about that unfolding by work and harmony.
Gradually, the picture of this God unfolded as a Surrounding Presence who was always waiting for people to take the next step forward. Often, because of greed or selfishness, they took many steps backward through murders and wars.
Finally, one man, named Jesus, came up with a plan that would achieve the “telos” - the purpose of all creation. We will see the full Fatherhood of God in the Brotherhood of Man.
December 6, 1998.
December 9, 1998.
December 12, 1998.
For centuries, scientists have tried to locate that special Star. It’s been there every day. The “Star in the East” is the sun. This was Matthew’s way of saying that the whole universe pointed everyone to the new King. Matthew says explicitly they were living in a “house” in Nazareth at the time of the visit.
Who were these “Wise Men” and where did they come from? I think they are an allegory or story developed to show what kind of kingship Jesus would establish. Gold says there will be wealth beyond compare. Incense says there will be sacrifice and oblation. Myrrh says there will be work and hardship.
This is the introduction to the Matthew story. Later, in Chapter 13, Matthew gives the basic qualities of this Kingship: its power, its ideals, its extent, and its way of being established in daily life.
January 1, 1999.
January 4, 1999.
Matthew says a follower of Christ is “kinged,” Then he describes all the powers of the process. It is not a quality that takes you out of the world but gives you the power to live in harmony in the world.
January 5, 1999.
The memory of Jesus was to be kept alive by the followers who were convinced and lived their ideals.
January 6, 1999.
It takes in the whole notion of “son of Man” from David which is the phrase for the “new Adam” or the “real Adam.” Then it gives all the personal qualities of “kingship” which have been ignored in formal theology. Finally, it describes exactly how the “Harmony” or “koinonia” is to be established in the whole world by the lives of the followers of Jesus. Then the clincher is that this is a foretaste of what heaven is all about. Heaven is this “koinonia” with no glitches.
January 7, 1999.
January 18, 1999.
Lesbianism was also common in the harems but no one made much of the problem because women were considered mere chattel.
January 22-23, 1999.
My own conclusion is that Luke edited all the letters of Paul. The editing was done to remove some of the mean, self-centered comments of Paul. Luke tried to tone Paul down. First Corinthians was such a violent Pauline attack that Luke included this picture of Christian love to give a positive conclusion to the mean attitude of Paul.
January 26-27, 1999.
February 4, 1999.
When Christ was dying on the cross, his last word was “tetelestai.” He bowed his head and died. This is the verbal form of “telos” and means “I have accomplished all I set out to do.”
February 6, 1999.
By using the word ‘story” we go back to the approach of years ago. We avoid the scrapping about “history.” They are stories, some fact and some fiction, that answer the question “why,” not “how.”
February 18, 1999.
I think the first generations of Christians has a good grasp of the ideals and plans of Christ. They lived as a group and infiltrated the society in their daily lives. The leaders of the Jews saw them as a threat. Rome was not about to buy a plan the exact opposite of their philosophy. Today, the Christian ideals have to be re-presented.
March 1, 1999.
Jesus did not plan to do all this work by himself. He was a starter but his ambition was to get his message to the whole world. For this he needed convinced followers - able and willing to spread out and work on their own. This would not happen until he was gone and they caught the “spirit” as a personal conviction. So he “died” for his plans to show how convinced he was, and was raised from the dead as he had done for Lazarus.
March 10, 1999.
March 14, 1999.
The first writings of the New Testament era came from Peter. These are the Good News as Peter saw it and written by Mark in his Gospel and the two letters of Peter. The key thought is in 1 Pet. 3:15. To be a follower of Jesus, you must always have a firm conviction for your personal hopes, ideals and goals. This can be easily understood because it was the opposite that led Peter into his gigantic personal failure. He was not convinced until he made his mistake and learned the true meaning of the message of Christ the hard way.
Paul is a strong character of the overbearing domineering type. Fortunately, he hired Luke as his physician and Luke edited some of the harshness out of Paul. Both men were outstanding men and served during the Roman tyranny and the Jewish hatred.
March 15, 1999.
March 20-21, 1999.
The elders were called “presbyteroi” in Greek. That’s the word that becomes ‘sacerdos” or “priest” in Latin.
March 22, 1999.
Secondly, my mind is constantly at work with new ideas and viewpoints into this big picture.
March 23, 1999.
Kepha in Mt 16:18. This notion stresses that all authority is a foundation on which the ideals of society are to be built. Authority was never to be a roof that clamped down from the top, Kepha or foundation stressed the ever broadening growth that was to develop.
“Shepherd” stresses that authority leads - not drives or pushes. The shepherd is out in front leading and calling. The shepherd knows each sheep individually and promotes the good of each. The sheep need only to respond.
This last figure was stressed in John’s Gospel as Christ addressed Peter three times after the Resurrection. His question: “Simon, do you love me more than these? Then Feed my Lambs. Feed my sheep: Take complete care of the flock.”
The word “Pastor” was kept so that this aspect of leadership would never be lost or changed.
March 24, 1999.
March 29, 1999.
They did not listen and figured Ezechiel was just a pessimist. Yahweh would take care of them as he always had. The title "Son of Man" in this context refers to the universal aspect of Yahweh's plan. The stress is on "personal responsibility" throughout Ezechiel.
The next OT use of the phrase "Son of Man" is in Daniel in the 2nd century B.C. This is the reference referred to in the New Testament. The key notion here is the "new Adam." The old Adam failed to become true man as Yahweh intended so the Messiah is to atone for the "Old Adam" and establish the "real Adam." All the New Testament references will deal with the qualities of the "new Adam" from his first public adult appearance at his Baptism to his death on the cross when he gives back the breath of the first Adam.
When Christians live in the "Holy Breath" they establish the New Adam or true man.
April 2, 1999.
Then Daniel uses the phrase in 167 B.C. as a special title for the Messiah and points out the special qualities he will have to carry out his mission. It is this reference that is used in the Gospels, especially Matthew and John in the NT. Jesus refers to himself by the title in numerous circumstances. Whether he actually used the title or whether the Gospel writers used it of Jesus is hard to say. There is no doubt it was a favorite designation.
April 9-10, 1999.
When Jesus began his work, he was in a world dominated by the forces of Rome and the wild dreams of the Jews that they would see the restoration of the "Kingdom of God" by the world triumph of the Jewish people. The Messiah would do all this.
Jesus in no way wanted this kind of picture. He was to establish the "Koinonia" or community of all people in the Fatherhood of God seen in the Brotherhood of man. This was to be accomplished by the group of followers who would live his ideas and ideals and bring the whole world to admire and imitate.
April 11, 1999.
The Gospel received it's final editing about 125 AD. Jerome says it was written as a tribute to the work and long years John had put in for the establishment of the Christian community. He had lived through the several waves of Roman persecution and had seen many a friend and convert die in the area at the Coliseum.
April 12, 1999.
April 15, 1999.
April 17, 1999.
Then Daniel picks up the phrase several centuries later and gives it a clear turn to the future. Some person will come and will be called the Son of Man because he is willing to work with God in his plan for the universe. This is the passage quoted in all the Gospels as fulfilled in Christ. Christ uses it of himself in numerous passages. He is always emphasizing how he is presenting the key ideas and ideals of God as Father to man as son.
“Son of Man” is used often by Christ in connection with his "identity crisis." He knew what he was convinced he must do but he knew and was afraid of the total rejection this would bring. Yet he knew he had to follow his convictions or he would be a rank impostor.
April 18-19, 1999.
Christ removed the empty formalism of the Jewish practice. The message of Christ is service to each other. The "ekklesia" or "Qehala” is the "gathering" of the people and their sharing with each other. There was never to be a new big organization. The organization was already present. It was the civil society of each time and place. The followers of Christ were to live in this society and change the selfishness and greed by their example of harmony and sharing. This is what they did in the first 2.5 centuries and by 313 AD, the Roman Emperor himself was a Christian.
April 26, 1999.
His followers would be called his "gathering." They would live in regular society and by their "Holy Spirit" they would lead people to admire and imitate and change.
April 27, 1999.
Then the "Holy Breath" shows up in the NT. Mary shared in it before the conception of Christ. Finally, Christ says he has to leave or the Apostles will never get the "Holy Spirit." They will be dependent on him .Once Jesus is gone, the Apostles will develop this "holy Spirit" - the special gift of sharing and harmony.
The more fully a person identifies self with the Holy Spirit, the greater the person becomes. This is the only point of judgment at the end. According to the degree in which a person shared with the people around him/her, the more real and developed the identity of the person. If there is no Holy Spirit, a person has no identity.
April 29, 1999.
April 30, 1999.
The English word is far too restricted for the Biblical idea. In our language, the word means literally "getting even" with someone for a real or fancied wrong. "Getting Even" is the starting place. Then the avenger goes farther. The Biblical words mean a just requital without making matters worse. It is a delicate balance of justice, equity, fairness, forgiveness and harmony.
The people were not about to reach this ideal. So Yahweh says he will take over. The Jews established the 3 Cities of Refuge or Sanctuary on each side of the Jordan. This was to insure a fair trial for any accused. They were greatly abused.
Jesus handles this idea several times in the NT. The parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the best developments. Peter thought he was really generous when he offered to forgive up to 7 times. Jesus' answer was “70 x 7.” The first word on the Cross showed Jesus practicing what he preached.
May 6, 1999.
The gist of his note is a strong warning to avoid falling into sinful habits, especially those connected with the fertility cults. The people he addressed seemed to be bringing some of the fertility cult practices into their way of life.
May 7-8, 1999.
Then I opened my file on the Book of Proverbs. Roland Murphy wrote a short article on the need to preserve the succinct format of the Proverbs. Translations tend to write flowing sentences and lose the sharp impact of the idea being proposed. I follow his suggestion in my translations. I'll finish this work today.
May 10, 1999.
The proverbs in the book of Proverbs should be written as they are in Hebrew and stress the poetic form that makes the meaning stand out. Roland Murphy advised translating more accurately to preserve the Hebrew idiom. I have separated the two parts by two spaces, two colons, and two spaces (--;;--) If they are too long to fit on one line, I'll choose some other method.
May 14, 1999.
I like what I have because I now have a real person who can be known, admired and followed. Jesus definitely saw his ideas as beneficial to all people if they were understood, accepted and followed. There was no special organization that would set itself up. It would simply be his convinced followers living his ideals in their time and place.
May 15, 1999.
May 16, 1999.
These ideas make an introduction to most of my Biblical writings.
May 19, 1999.
The overall title is: Jesus Christ Comes!
At night, as I go to sleep and often when I sit in the chair, I revolve these ideas before my mind. I frequently get a new view or new ideas. At these times, Jesus Christ is real. I can talk with him and he seems to add something or answer a question. This is meditation at its best.
May 21, 1999.
This was why Jesus forbade Peter to use the name “Messiah” about him. Jesus carefully describes the Kingdom of the Heavens or the Kingdom of God. It is something within us and can be seen. It is something that has to be established by his followers. It is something that will reach its fulness only at the fulness of time.
When Pilate finally asked Jesus, "Are you then really a king?" Jesus responds with the words, "You have that right! For this was I born and for this have I come into the world!" Pilate was totally befuddled and walked away. The title attached to Jesus' cross was "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."
May 22, 1999.
For Mark, who was using Peter as his source, the stress is all on personal conviction. We can understand why Peter stressed this idea so much. Because of his lack of conviction, he failed when confronted with his showdown. Hence in his letters and in Mark's Gospel he stresses over and over the need of conviction.
Luke is the medical doctor. From his writings, his concern is for health in the full sense of the term: physical, mental and spiritual. He stresses the dignity of women and universality of salvation or "health" to be expected. He did everything he could to edit out Paul's meanness from his letters and still preserve the teaching.
Matthew is completely taken with the full notion of Kingship and how this is to be established in the person and in the world. He really stresses the fact that the whole notion of Kingship is to be effected in the harmony and sharing of all the followers.
John is concerned with the new Adam and the New Eve. Jesus and Mary restored the original ideals and goals and went beyond. Success is possible for everyone.
May 31, 1999.
He was always a sort of nebulous untouchable until I realized how frightened he was by the antagonism and enmity of the Jewish leaders. He was thoroughly convinced of his ideas and ideals. He wanted them kept alive and spread by his followers. Yet he knew how fickle the crowd really was.
June 1, 1999.
He talks about the "telos" of the world. This is translated into Latin as "Finis." The two words mean "end." However, the Greek word means a sense of "completion" or "fulfillment." This is the word that Christ uses on the cross. "Tetelestai." It is complete. I have carried out all the details. Now we can proceed." The Latin "finis" means "end" in the sense of over and done with. "Nothing remains."
There are a lot of positive ideas in "Revelation." It's too bad they are ignored for the weird notions.
June 2, 1999.
Matthew is the source of the Beatitudes of the Catechism. The catechism had 8 listed because one of the original 7 was an explanatory note in the margin. It gradually slipped into the text.
Ephesians lists the steps to full participation in the Holy Spirit or the sharing and community that was the sign of the true follower. John stresses the readiness needed in time of persecution. Matthew emphasizes this intrinsic value of sharing and its power in society.
June 3, 1999.
Matthew is describing the "holy spirit" in its many meanings. He tells how the followers of Christ are to establish this "sharing" with everyone around them. Then in his final "judgment" scene, Matthew says "Come, beloved of my father, into the kingship prepared for you. I needed help and you shared with me. That's the whole secret of the Christian way of life. Everybody shares with everybody and establishes total harmony until the "telos" of the world, "Until the world is complete" as planned by God from the beginning. It's not "pie in the sky" but a "life of sharing" for universal "Shalom."
June 4, 1999.
There are 7 aspects of this sharing in Matthew:
This makes a follower of Christ the salt of the earth, light of the world, a lamp on the lamp stand. The followers of Christ are to perform their good works to lead others by good example. It's an ideal program if it would be followed.
June 11, 1999.
J.B. bristled with anger. As soon as he was 30, he set out to do something to change people's ways. He tackled everyone openly and clearly. He had a big following because the people expected him to lead a revolution in which they would get material greatness.
Six months later, Jesus showed up. He could be as forceful as J.B. if the occasion called for it. But in general, his was more the quiet teacher's approach. He clearly did not want to be taken for one of the many "messiahs" who had risen and disappeared. He knew his approach would bring suffering and death. He had to choose.
June 13, 1999.
Hebrew, Greek and Latin have all these same kinds of variants. A literal translation has to understand the original language and its idioms and translate the original language into the language and idioms of the translator's language. Daniel, one of the most important for the NT, is written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
June 15, 1999.
Hatred is the total dislike of another person - wanting absolutely nothing to do with that person. Degrees of hatred are dislike, aversion, avoidance with the resultant wishing the person harm or actually causing harm. Many times people talk about strong aversion or dislike but they do not actually wish the other person harm.
You'll hear "I wish the S.O.B. would drop dead, or fall off a cliff, or down in the ocean!" For the moment you might feel that way but the desire is usually not that strong nor lasting.
June 16, 1999.
Daniel is the most influential of the thinking of Christ and the first Christians and the NT writings. His work concerns the time of Antioches the Terrible c. 180 B.C. The writing of Daniel is preserved in 3 languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. This, too, is unusual. The key to the character of Jesus is "Son of Man" from Daniel.
June 18, 1999.
The Servant Songs of Isaiah II and the works of Daniel were the most important for Christ himself and the early Christians.
The Servant Songs stressed the necessity and value of living according to the ideas and ideals of Yahweh even when this was not popular or easy. Daniel stressed the notion of "Son of Man" or what a human being is supposed to be. I have all the passages listed where this phrase is used in the NT. Now I have to develop the full picture or all the qualities that this phrase entails.
The result of all this writing for me personally is the reality of the person who is Jesus Christ. I'm sure this is what John Zeller tried to tell us in the Novitiate - to see the appeal and power of the person.
June 21, 1999.
The picture of harmony and sharing which Christ taught and the 1st Christians lived would change the whole world. However, this harmony is not something dropped in our laps. It is a goal that must be worked for and earned by each person and each generation. It is not a matter of rituals and buildings and material things. This harmony and sharing are the result of generous effort.
June 23, 1999.
As to my functioning in the church of today, I would last no more than a week or two. I am convinced that Jesus was only (human) man. I think the Holy Spirit is the harmony and sharing of all the members with each other. The notion of only one true church is ridiculous. The church is to be an integral part of the society in which it lives and works.
June 24, 1999.
I'm quite sure he would root for the Packers rather than other pro teams. He would like the team spirit and loyalty of all of Green Bay. If Peter was along, he would clearly be spouting off for the Chiefs or Bears and knowing practically nothing about the game. The other Apostles would be looking for a free ticket in the wake of Christ. John, the teenager, would go right for the popcorn and soda pop, and then go to the top of the stands.
I often think of the remains of old Rome from the time of Christ. I realize I walked on the streets of Rome from his time.
July 5, 1999.
Then Jesus came and Matthew found a person he could respect and follow. Matthew spells the part of the message he liked best. Life was a matter of sharing with each other according to the abilities and needs of all the people around you. He put the formula in explicit words three different times. His fullest picture is the judgment scene at the end. A person is identified and rewarded according to his sharing in this life. Such sharing, sincerely practiced, would remove all societal ills.
July 7, 1999.
July 13, 1999
There is no doubt that “Jews” in John’s Gospel are strongly disliked. However, the author makes it very clear the term “Jews” refers to the leaders only, the Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes.
All the other first Christians were themselves Jews. Paul clearly was a Jew but he had a strong dislike for the ones he met after his conversion during his missionary career. As a rabbi, he was invited to speak. When he began to speak of Jesus as the Messiah, he was literally thrown out of the synagogues and stoned a few times.
Matthew’s Gospel is an attempt to show how the kingdom of God is the fulfillment of the Jewish picture. Luke stresses the universality of the goal of Christ.
July 15, 1999.
July 18, 1999.
First of all, Matthew was always depicted as an old man. He was a tax collector hired by the Romans. They didn't hire old men. They wanted men in their upper teens or low twenties so that they could "form" them. Matthew models his Gospel in the Pentateuch with an intro to a conclusion. His biggest concern was the true notion of "Kingship" as an active ongoing notion in the heart of a pagan world.
July 20, 1999.
July 21, 1999.
The big concern in the New Testament was “porneia” in marriage. This Greek word meant any kind of “selfishness” that threatened the marriage. This was sufficient grounds for divorce and re-marriage.
July 22, 1999.
The Roman leaders had control of these men and women who were people from nations conquered in wars. Anyone could come to the temple and “rent” a man or woman. The money went to the Roman leaders. Actually, Rome was running brothels in the name of their gods and religions.
The Old Testament story begins with the people of Sodom and Gomorra. Lot and his family had settled there by choice to be in on the “city life.” Abraham had gone north. The people of Sodom wanted the men for their cultic practices. Abraham heard of the problem, delivered Lot, and Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed. Again the practice was part of a religion.
Nothing is said explicitly of the immorality or morality of “homosexuality or lesbianism” apart from worship of false gods.
July 24, 1999.
August 6, 1999.
Thats what Christ had in mind. When they got together for the “cup of friendship” it was to recall Christ and his ideals rather than the Passover Lamb. The “elders” in each group would be in charge as was the custom.
Paul joined and immediately started to try to “boss the show.” So Paul was sent on the “foreign missions.” Luke tried his best to soften the harshness of Paul but succeeded only partially. Unfortunately when the persecutions stopped, the church structure followed the ideas of Paul.
August 7-8, 1999.
The main point was to avoid static crushing structure. This had killed Judaism through the governance of the Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes. They had all their sacred little practices and Jesus condemned these openly and totally.
August 18, 1999.
The other alternative for people who led lives of selfishness is the Valley of Hinnon, a place of nothing to do and no one to visit.
August 20, 1999.
I think the final stage of heaven will be a new earth from which all the ills, problems, and disasters will be removed. It will be the final “Garden of Paradise” as intended from the beginning. The life here on earth is the preparation for his happiness. That is the Bible picture and I like it.
August 22-26, 1999.
I realize more and more how much we need an understanding of the real personality of Christ and the message he left the world.
September 7, 1999.
I have already written on all the topics but now it will be great to draw all the topics together. There is no doubt these topics cover a lot of basic questions in the minds of people today. The young people are not receiving the proper grounding and have nothing to build on as they get older. The whole idea of the destruction of the universe is based on post-Tridentine (Council of Trent, 1545-1563) thought, fumblings and side tracks. I’ll get working on the ideas, today.
September 11-12, 1999.
September 17-18, 1999.
September 19, 1999.
Authority in the church was to be at the bottom, a foundation on which all could grow.
September 20, 1999.
This was one of the customs that Christ condemned in the lives of the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees. They made a big external show of their failures and then kept right on in the same line of conduct. Christ's answer was to go into a room and talk to God in private. He will listen and you can sincerely amend your life.
I don't know what they do by way of sacrifice today. In the time of Christ each person could bring his victim and have it offered for him or his family's atonement. The Valley of Hinnon got a workout on that day. The fires burned brightly and kept ahead of all the offal.
September 23-24, 1999.
As Peter saw the message of Christ, everything boiled down to a strong personal conviction of the ideals of sharing. His stress, because of his own major failure, was true hope and then working for it. (Peter’s approach is recorded in Gospel According to Mark.)
Luke was more for the notion of “salvation” or “total health” at the disposal of everyone. He stressed especially the dignity and equality of women. Matthew saw this practicality of the world of kings. Everyone could share and establish the total kingship. John saw the whole picture as establishing the true brotherhood of mankind in order to portray the fatherhood of God.
September 26, 1999.
At the other end is the Coliseum for individual combats. I prefer our type of games and competitions.
September 28-29, 1999.
Now these ideas and words were written down about a century later. The ideas and ideals of Christ were being lived by the first generations of followers. The plan was working so well that even the Roman rulers noticed. Their comment was simply, “See how they love one another.” Two hundred years later, even the Emperor was converted to the ideals of Jesus.
The whole picture was and is so simple. There has to be a constant recognition of the dignity or worth of each person. There has to be the sharing of talents, abilities, material things on every level. There has to be a constant development of the treasures of the universe for the good of all.
October 2, 1999.
October 3, 1999.
The Apocalypse is a great piece of literature. I read my commentary and saw that I concluded with the words "I have a lot more to do on this book." I always read the Apocalypse in the setting of Old Rome as it is excavated. A person can walk right down the steps and at the street level, it is 2nd century. At the bottom of the stairs it is the first century or earlier. I walked through there twice each day, on my way to and from the PBI. I looked at something different each time.
October 8, 1999.
This plan is presented in the four gospels and the whole picture is necessary. Mark is giving the picture as Peter saw it. The word is “apologia” (1 P 3:15). This means strong personal conviction in each person. Luke stresses “soteria” or “health” in all senses of the word. This stresses that absolutely everyone is invited. It emphasizes the rights and dignity of women. Matthew centers on “basileia” or “kingship” and this is expressed in helping each other in every need so that no one is overlooked or neglected. Finally, John is “huisthesia” or “sonship.” The new Adam and the new Eve are establishing true love that is seen in service.
Achieve these goals and the world reaches its goal (telos).
October 9, 1999.
The earth and universe are filled with untold hidden gems. Each time man discovered and makes something new, I can almost see God with a great big grain saying, "I told you it was great. Now keep on digging!" I can see Jesus Christ with a big smile saying, "This is what I was trying to point out. I saw the unlimited possibilities as I worked out my ideas in my itinerant preaching and teaching days. I had a hard time convincing the leaders of the time. In fact, I couldn't even reach them. Now, keep working at the whole ideal."
October 10, 1999.
I like Mark because this picture is so in keeping with the basic approach of Peter. Luke takes the ideas of Paul and develops a completely new slant on Paul’s approach. Matthew follows his own background and approach. John follows his personality throughout his whole life and gives the most developed picture of Christ.
October 19, 1999.
October 20, 1999.
After that, the period of testing is over. Then people can enjoy themselves for eternity. The unidentified will be cast aside as if they never existed. How much a person will enjoy him/herself will depend on the capacity for joy they developed in this life.
October 26, 1999.
The first Adam was a lump of clay. Yahweh breathed and the clay became the first man. Then he was presented with his partner and equal in all things, Eve. They were to set in motion the development of all the treasures hidden in the world. But they made their first big mistake - they tried to play God.
The story of mankind is the constantly widening gap between God and man. Finally, Jesus goes to Jerusalem, the heart of man's folly, and allowed himself to atone for the whole mess.
As he is on the cross, his final act is to give us the new Woman, the New Eve, restored in everything. Then he cried out, "Tetelestei." "There! all that mess is cleared away!" He bowed his head and gave back the breath." The failure of the first Adam was gone.
He came back from the dead, gave the "holy Breath" to his Apostles and sent them on their way. Now the Holy Breath is to be in full function until the "telos." - until the whole world and people reach their goal.
October 29, 1999.
November 10, 1999.
Actually, the Greek word means "healing." Luke sees the whole message of Christ as total healing, physical, mental and spiritual. The physical healing is the curing of disease, sickness and care of the sick as practiced by doctors, nurses and all medical help. Mental health is the education and mental development as carried on by teachers, schools, writers and people in education. This would refer in a special way to the home. Spiritual healing is the caring for the spiritual needs of the inner life of a person by counseling, guidance, goal-setting, forgiveness and helping people back on the track.
November 15, 1999.
November 28, 1999.
Jerome admitted there was much about the “poetic form” that could not be translated. Some of them are songs about specific Bible stories or events and these can be better understood. Most of the Psalms are songs inspired by the mental outlook of the person composing.
There is a definite rhythm to them but this can seldom be matched in our western languages. The acrostics are linguistic masterpieces. Each verse begins with a word that starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. That word is almost always the keyword to the verse.
November 30, 1999.
I had four major guides in my approach to the Psalms. We recited the whole office in Latin, each day in the Novitiate. Father John (CSsR novice master when Phil was preparing to be a priest) wanted us to appreciate the Psalms so he gave us several classes in their make-up as Hebrew poetry, their imagery, historical references, and translation by St. Jerome. Then I did a thorough study in Oconomowoc as a student. Our library was excellent.
In Washington, DC (Catholic University), I studied the Psalms with Pat Skehan, Roland Murphy and Lou Hartman. In Rome, I had Dyson and Bonsirven. When I taught in Oc-oc, I always gave a good presentation of the Psalms.
December 2, 1999.
The people in exile were sure this was a punishment for the lives of their ancestors. They saw themselves as the poor, overburdened, innocent people. Ezechiel tried to set them straight with his teaching on personal responsibility. The people, for the most part, ignored him and turned to the pagan idols and fertility cults.
December 3, 1999.
December 27, 1999.
Jerome went off by himself and completed his work in 384. He gave his copy to the Pope and kept one for himself. Damasus immediately had many copies made and gave them to the clergy and theologians around Rome. They began to read and all "hell" broke loose. They refused all the changes because their theological teachings could not be established in the Bible. They started to make their changes and this continued thru the centuries. In 1563 at Trent, this mess was called the official text of the church.
December 28, 1999.
The Magi learned the real attitude and motive of Herod so they went home by a different route. When Herod learned this, he put out an edict that all male Jewish babies under two years were to be killed. At one time, the number of those slaughtered was large. Then some calmer heads started to figure the number of babies born in two years time to a group the size of the Jews, the percentage of boys in these births and a new figure was deduced. Now the number is given to between 50-75, if that high.
Mary and Joseph took their baby and headed for Egypt. They stayed until they heard Herod had died. However, his successor hated Jews even more than Herod, so Joseph took his family north and they settled in Nazareth. The only source of this story when the Gospel was written was Mary herself.
January 4, 2000.
There is so much complaining and moaning about problems that many psalms lose the appeal they had. They fit the mentality of the Jews in the Babylonian captivity in 597 BC. Ezechiel jumped down their throats for their constant complaining. The same moaning and groaning shows up in post-exilic period when they were allowed to return to Palestine. Then they were disgusted with shambles they found in Jerusalem. It was during this time that many of the Psalms were written in final form. I want to concentrate on the best verses.
January 5-6, 2000.
The Magi story is a well conceived and developed "tale" to enhance the theme in Matthew's account. Matthew is presenting the King of the universe and he wants everybody included. He also wants to stress the Wisdom that Jesus has to offer is for the whole world.
January 26-27, 2000.
The big changes or additions are easy to detect. Example, the beautiful detailed description of true love in 1Cor 13. Only a man like Luke could offset the rancor of Paul with such tremendous insight.
Paul never worked with the Christians in Rome. Yet one of his outstanding letters is written to the Christians of Rome. I think this is all from the pen of Luke. If this had been understood in 1517, the ruckus with Luther might have been avoided. Certainly, the whole approach of both sides would have been different. Instead of flying tempers, there could have been the calming effect of Lucan ideals.
February 1-2, 2000.
On this occasion, Mary and the baby were given some special promise or warning. The priest held the child and made this promise. "This child is set for the rise and the fall of 'the many'. Your own soul a sword shall pierce." Then an older lady in the temple came up and added her bit.
Luke alone mentions all these details and they are clearly a post-factum picture. After the lives of Jesus and Mary were complete, Luke says they were in the plans from the beginning. Since Luke tells us explicitly he talked to Mary about all the details and background, the basic picture would come from Mary.
February 3, 2000.
February 7, 2000.
February 18, 2000.
February 19, 2000.
Mark stresses the idea that a true Christian has to be a person of solid conviction. Luke is interested in health in all senses of the word, physical, mental and spiritual. Matthew is concerned with all aspects of kingship - or the Fatherhood of God as seen in the living Brotherhood of all human beings.
February 22, 2000.
April 3, 2000.
As I said last night, it is too bad we cannot get a copy of St. Jerome’s original (translation) work. It is in the Vatican Library and can be read with the Swiss Guards standing by. Lyonnet (professor at Biblical Institute) talked about it several times and Bea (professor at Biblical Institute) insisted we all had to go over and look at it. I read it on several occasions. I memorized a few of the phrases but forgot them later. You were not allowed to have pen or paper with you to copy anything down. The Swiss Guard would say “no-no” and if the person persisted he would simply take the paper, tear it up and send the person away. The rule of the Swiss Guard was absolute.
David is given credit for the whole collection of Psalms because he was noted for his songs. He was able to calm Saul down at times when he went into one of his rages.
April 12 - 14, 2000.
April 21, 2000.
Jesus left the crowds and went on his own on several occasions. Finally, he decided he had to back his word by being willing to die for it. He had already picked and trained the men to carry on, the 12 apostles.
April 25 -30, 2000.
The Bible writers didn’t have the slighted idea how the world was made. They were interested only in “why.” Everything that is, is supposed to manifest the Fatherhood of God in the brotherhood of man. The more scientific marvels that are discovered, the greater the smile of Yahweh. He tells mankind to go out and use the world. With each new discovery, his great wisdom and power are seen.
May 12, 2000.
The closest meaning to the word “Basileia” is the “king” in checkers. The “kingship” of the gospels is like this. It is a quality received in the follower of Christ that gives him/her new power in all surroundings. This power comes from sharing with each other. There is no new structure but the society around is given new life.
May 27 - 29, 2000.
June 4, 2000.
June 11, 2000.
Paul is proof that from the very beginning they had domineering leaders who missed the whole message of Christ.
June 16 - 17, 2000.
Jesus comes. He and John Baptist see the miserable state of matters and decide to do something about it. The leaders of the Jews were the Sadducees, the priestly group. They kept the ritual of the sacrifice. The Pharisees were a group of insincere fanatics who were backed by the Scribes, the legal scholars.
Jesus condemned the Scribes and Pharisees by name. The Sadducees he condemned when he cleaned the trash out of the temple. The first Christians had no specific set of laws or rules. They lived a community life and shared voluntarily with each other. The gospel stories gradually grew out of what different groups remembered. Gradually, four of these writings took precedence and in 1563, the Council of Trent declared that from historical evidence these four (gospels) were the accounts all accepted.
The four gospels are to be read and adapted to each age.
June 18 - 20, 2000.
The oldest document outside the Gospels is the “Didache ..*..Apostolon” the “Teaching of the Apostles,” the creed we learned as kids as the “Apostles Creed.” This says “I believe in the holy, universal church.” There is nothing about “one” church. The only quality demanded is that it be “holy” and spread everywhere.
The “Eucharist” was the big act from the beginning. Jesus and the twelve apostles shared the Passover Meal. The Friendship Cup at the end was given a new meaning. Instead of recalling the Pascal Lamb, this cup would now recall Jesus and his ideas and ideals expressed in the lives of the Christians. According to Acts and the Pauline Letters, they had the cup of friendship at any big meal.
That’s the simple picture but it was “messed up” by theologians, bishops and ritualists.
*Editor’s note: There’s a Greek word between these 2 words that I cannot spell with accuracy.
June 26 - 27, 2000.
As to the resurrection, I see no problem. In the Christian ideal, each of us is going to rise a full person when the world is complete. We will be the person we made during our life in this world. Jesus could easily have been raised from the dead, the fully developed person he became, in order to encourage his followers.
June 29 - 30, 2000.
The secret of the Kingdom established by Christ is spelled out explicitly in Mt 28 at the judgment scene in each person’s life. Entrance into the eternal kingdom depends entirely on how people reacted to each other in this life. If they were truly aware of the needs of others and responded to them, they established their eternal homes. If this sharing was not present, there is no place for them. In this life, there will be difficulty but happiness is promised if the attitude is right.
July 1 - 2, 2000.
Each time I go read the gospels I marvel more at their variety or differences.
July 15 - 16, 2000.
July 17 - 18, 2000.
July 23 - 24, 2000.
Luke is gentle. He was able to be converted by Paul, live and work with Paul in all those years and edited Paul’s writings and yet not tell him off or lose his patience.
John never lost his “thunder” and saw the true greatness of Mary in the whole picture.
July 31 - Aug 2, 2000.
Immediately they turn to Yahweh and complain that he does not keep his promises to help them. The point of the song is to stress that Yahweh has not changed his plan. He made his favors dependent on their fidelity to the Law. They have failed to keep the Law and Yahweh is punishing them.
This was the basic message of Jeremiah and Ezechiel. The whole notion of personal responsibility was defined and stressed in that 6th century BC. This will be developed more and more clearly down to the Book of Wisdom about 50 BC. This is the point at which John Baptist and Jesus Christ pick up the teaching. Both zero in on personal responsibility in detail.
The Psalms were popular songs written and sung during these years. They stressed the message in almost every one. This shows why St. Jerome was so anxious to make a new translation into Latin from the Hebrew. His translations were ideal but they were destroyed in the Vulgate by church authorities.
August 16, 2000.
August 27, 2000.
Gradually, after 325 AD, the present form developed. The only relevant action, today, is the parish pot-luck on various occasions.
August 28, 2000.
Martin Luther talked about this in the 16th century. He was shouted down by the Council of Trent and the “mystery” of two natures in one person came to the fore. Perhaps, we’ll get to the true message of the gospels soon.
September 13, 2000.
Jeremiah has, perhaps, the toughest task in the OT. He is a tenderhearted kind person and an excellent preacher. He begins his work about 597 BC, ten years before Jerusalem is erased. He urges the people to repent and obey before it is too late. They make fun of him, beat him up, and imprison him. The Lamentations are some of the most beautiful poetry of the OT.
September 18 - 19, 2000.
Then I go back to the leaders of the Jews in the time of Christ. I read Christ’s scathing condemnation of the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. If Jesus were to appear in person, today, he would blast out with the same list of “Woes” against the leaders of the Church.
Christian life and ideals are so simple. Everything is concerned with how we respect, help and share with those around us.
September 20, 2000.
Then the commentaries (on the Code of Canon Law) came into being to account for all the exceptions and loopholes (of the 2414 laws). We studied Canon Law for 2.5 years out of 6 years in Oconomowoc. Beste (author) wrote the commentary. It was a huge volume of over 850 pages. I found the course the most boring class in all my years of study.
September 22 - 23, 2000.
This last statement could raise the hackles of the Orthodox Church, both those in Union and those who separate.
Such a statement was the occasion of the complete break between East and West in 1054 AD. Then, in 1154 AD, one group came back to Rome and they are called the “Uniates.” This present Pope (John Paul II) is going to succeed in getting everyone riled up again.
It really bothers me when I see how simple the idea of a Church is in the gospel. The people were to be a part of the society in which they lived but recognized by the way in which they shared with others and helped others in their need. The leaders in the Church were to be the “Foundation” on which people built, not a “Roof” which held them down.
September 30, 2000.
October 4 - 5, 2000.
It is true “Semitic history.” The writers and editors were interested foremost in “why” all things happened. They present, combine and develop facts for the answer to this question. They write and think and talk the same way today. This creates part of the problem for interchange between the Semite and the West. We don’t think the same way.
October 6 - 7 2000.
Women are given their full and true worth in all the writings except Paul. He clearly looks on women as second-class people. The Roman Church clearly followed the lead of Paul in this matter. The very fact that all orders of nuns must have a cardinal-protector to speak and act for them is just one example.
October 25-26, 2000
I was in my second year at Catholic U. when the book of photocopies was published. Pat Skehan bought us each a copy and we spent several weeks comparing the text of Isaiah with our critical text.
This set off a flurry of “digs” and has uncovered many other finds related to the lives and people of ancient times.
October 28, 2000
November 19, 2000.
November 30 - Dec 1, 2000.
The Israelite (Hebrews or Jews) were an ordinary group of nomads. They began to search for their origins. They made up stories based on fact and fiction. Gradually, they became a settled people and put some of these ideas and ideals into writing. The prophets and teachers were people who rose up to develop and defend their ideals. John Baptist and Jesus brought all these ideals to a high point and gave us the full picture.
December 14 - 16, 2000.
The whole business of a trinity or triune God is ridiculous. Jesus was a real man who was truly concerned about the people around him. The Holy Spirit or Holy Breath is the breath of the New Adam. This Holy Spirit is the harmony, sharing and community that people are supposed to establish in their lives.
December 17, 2000.
This “Brotherhood” seemed farther and farther out of reach until Jesus picked up on it. He was thoroughly convinced this true “Family Spirit” had to be restored. He spent his whole life teaching and showing this ideal. He left it as the only purpose of his followers.
It worked. The ideal was so opposed to the pagan Roman plan that they tried to kill them off. However, the first Christians lived the it.
Finally, the ideal won out. The Emperor himself was converted and the persecution stopped. Then, within a few decades, the physical structure of the “Church” was established and the ideals of Christ gave way to legalism, ritual and strife. The philosophers took over and we were handed the philosophy of Aristotle as theology.
December 19 - 22, 2000.
January 3 - 4, 2001.
January 5, 2001.
January 6, 2001.
The Roman Empire was famous for its system of roads to and through all the countries. This same highway system was the basis for the rapid spread of the ideals of Christ to the Roman world.
We studied all of these ideas in our history courses at Kirkwood (MO), Oc-oc and Catholic University. Our system of interstate highways is a parallel to the Roman roads. The Roman roads were made of small, carefully chiseled pieces of stone. Repair work was constant. These roads were still being used in Rome and the environs when I lived there (1951-1952). Since modern cars and trucks are faster and heavier than chariots, the roads need repair often.
January 7, 2001.
The genealogy (in Matthew) is limited to 42 names, in groups of 14. The letters in the name of David equal the sum of 14. So the genealogy is to teach that the Kingdom of David is fully established. The Jewish leaders were furious with the idea. They were expecting a real Kingdom with worldwide supremacy.
The Magi story was introduced to show that this kingdom was to reach the whole world not just the Roman Empire. I think the Magi story is more of a parable than a factual story. Abraham had come from the East and founded the chosen people. Perhaps this story has some literary connection.
January 10, 2001.
Peter had stressed the need of an “apologia” as the basis for all Christian life. “Apologia” is a the Greek word for a “deep personal reason” for something. In this case it was the apologia for the hope that is in you. Mark’s Gospel is a presentation of the ideas and ideals of Christ from this viewpoint.
I can practically see Mark and Peter and a few other Christians who were locked in this round silo-like prison. It's about 40 feet deep and 10 feet in diameter. I climbed down the ladder to the bottom when I was in Rome.
January 12, 2001.
January 31 - February 1, 2001.
The topic of divorce and remarriage is developed twice. Matthew says the only reason for this divorce is “porneia.” Unfortunately, this was given the narrow meaning of “adultery” by the Roman Catholic authorities. The Latin translation is “aliquid foedum.” This means “anything selfish.” This meant that marriage is a total giving of self to each other. This was explicitly stated in the opening account of Genesis, chapters 1 & 2.
February 5 - 7, 2001.
February 9, 2001.
February 15 - 17, 2001.
February 18, 2001.
February 20 - 23, 2001.
March 9 - 11, 2001.
The Noah story and the flood are an example. There are three different accounts of the flood in the three chapters in Genesis. I have the three stories underlined in green, red and blue in my Jerusalem Bible. The story of the rain of 40 days and nights became the popular choice and the others were ignored.
The crossing of the “Red Sea” is another example. The Bible account says clearly “Sea of Reeds,” a muddy swamp. The translators chose “Red Sea.”
March 12 - 16, 2001.
March 17 - 18, 2001.
May 1-2, 2001.
May 3 - 9, 2001.
I think Luke’s writings are so helpful and meaningful because he was counteracting Paul.
May 25, 2001.
May 28 - June 3, 2001.
June 11-12, 2001
I’ve thought more and more about the Good Shepherd. I have a clear picture of Christ now from my work on the gospels and discussions with you. Once I rid myself of the dual nature of Jesus Christ and come to see him for his real self, I can really admire him and want to continue his work. His work is to help all the people in your life according to their needs and your abilities to help.
June 13-15, 2001
June 16-19, 2001
When I look at the Good Shepherd (picture in computer room and living room), he is almost saying, “How’s it going today?” And I start to recall all the ideas I have developed over the past few years.
Aug 11 - 13, 2001
Mark’s checkered career started as an enthusiastic young kid with Paul. Mark found the work too tough and went home. Paul saw it as desertion and would have nothing to do with him. Then Barnabas took Mark with him. Finally, Mark ended up with Peter.
Those first followers of Christ certainly had ‘feet of clay” like all others. Yet, they carried the ideas and ideals of Christ through 2.5 centuries of intermittent persecutions and deaths
Aug 14 - 17, 2001
Luke meets the story of the Chosen People and Jesus Christ in the hot-tempered missionary, Paul. He cares for Paul and takes an interest in what he is saying. Luke becomes a dedicated follower of Jesus and then writes a story about Christ and describes our picture (in our home) of the Shepherd perfectly.
Aug 31 - Sept 4, 2001
Most of the prophets were ordinary men who spoke about the horrible crimes committed in the name of fertility goddesses and gods. They stressed the moral and physical harm of the actions of the people. Others talked about the harm to come to the next generation.
As the situation grew worse, some prophets talked about a new Moses who would rise up and lead the people back to Yahweh. These are the people who finally gave rise to John the Baptist and Jesus.
Sept 5 - 6, 2001
Sept 7 - 16, 2001
The prophets saw the wrongfulness of this attitude. They preached against it and were rewarded with ridicule, punishment and death. Moses tried his hardest to offset this attitude. Jesus Christ modernized Moses in the Roman times.
I think this background picture is essential to understanding the problems, today, and find a real and true solution.
Sept 22-29, 2001
Finally, in 1918 the dogma of infallibility was defined and then the superiority complex really took over. The foreign missions were set up and the missionaries labored to turn the people from their ancient beliefs to the foreign dogmas of Rome.
The Roman church became more and more involved with rubrics and rituals. In short, the ideas and ideals of Jesus Christ have been lost to legalism and authoritarianism.
Sept 30, 2001
Oct 1 - 6, 2001
Revelation has been wrongfully applied to other times and places as if it was intended to be a foretelling. This wrongful application gave rise to many threatening ideas in Christian teaching.
Oct 28 - Nov 3, 2001
The Gospels stress that the whole issue at the time of death is the identify a person has established at the moment of death. This "identity" is determined solely by the way in which we have worked with people in our lives. No point of teaching is more clearly stated in the Gospels.
Nov 24 - 26, 2001
Dec 13 - 19, 2001
Jan 21, 2002
Jesus Christ had grown up in the midst of this “hate-ful” world. He saw it all around him. He saw the response of Rome and the Caesars to the world. They would stop the hate by physical force and set up a different kind of military supremacy where most of the world were abject slaves.
Out of this milieu, Jesus saw the only solution: Sincere respect and love had to take over and the human dignity of every person had to be upheld. He was so convinced of his ideals and ideas that he was ready to suffer and die for them. He convinced a handful of people and they continued his work.
Jan 28, 2002
These people attacked Lot and family and carried them away. Abraham took his men and delivered Lot. On the way back, they were told not to waste time in the Dead Sea area. Lot’s wife dallied around and was covered by an explosion of salt.
Then Jacob’s sons sold their brother, Joseph, to an Egyptian. Joseph was quite a talker and got to Pharaoh's attention. Joseph “foretold” drought and famine. The Egyptians stored their food and the whole area came to them for help. Joseph tricks his family and then gets them well established in Egypt.
The Hyksos, foreigners, came into power and enslaved all non-Egyptians. Moses gets them out of Egypt but the people gripe and complain against him because the escape was difficult. The Israelites enter Palestine and expel the natives or intermarry. They divide the country into Judea, Samaria and Galilee. Juda considered itself the big turkey, despised Samaria, and kept Galilee because they brought their “tithes” to the capital.
I can’t get all this written now so I’ll continue in another entry.
April 3 - 9, 2002
When the remnant was allowed to return, they began to fight among themselves. Finally, the Romans all but decimated them. Today, they carry on the self-righteous attitude of the past. Today they have bigger war machines and can do more destruction.
I say we should let them fight as long as they fight among themselves. We should stay out of the mess entirely. We have enough problems to face without mixing into their mess.
June 18, 2002
Theirs was the authority but it was to be the leadership of the Shepherd (pastor) and the firmness of the Kepha (foundation stone). As a pastor, the authority was to be out in front leading and calling all to follow to the green pasture, fresh water, afternoon rest, and the safety of the fold at night. As the Kepha, it was to be the firm foundation on which all confidence was based.
The shepherd figure stresses how well the leaders must know the personalities and needs of the flock and minister to each. The Kepha stresses that firmness of the sharing or community is found in the leader. The picture is simple.
June 19, 2002
The Church drifted farther and farther into the quagmire of rules and laws and rubrics. The fight with Luther and the Council of Trent sounded the death knell. On the TV program the other night, the speaker said the first light was seen in John XXIII. Then he died and the old ideas revived.
June 25, 2002
I have developed these ideas in all the writing I have done in the past few years. I taught these ideas over the years and they gradually became more and more clear to me.
July 28, 2002
The basic idea of God was that he was a surrounding presence and wanted people to establish peace and harmony with each other and with him. The rules were short and exact and covered every aspect of life with each other and with God.
The greatness of Jesus Christ is that he came from a family who really believed what they had been taught. Then he and his cousin, John, discussed these ideas until they felt they had to do something about their convictions.
The whole picture is beautiful and easily grasped. It is to be manifest in the daily lives of people.
August 15, 2002
He developed the Ten Commandments which became the basic law for all generations after him. The prophets and leaders who followed him were explaining his ideas.
When Christ came along, he built completely on Moses. His basic point was “you heard it say of old (by Moses), now I’m telling you.” Jesus kept a real continuity with Moses.
Moses had a quick temper. He was threatened with death on many occasions. Finally, he did not get to lead the people into the Promised Land. He saw it from the east side of the Jordan and then died. Joshua led the people across.
There is no doubt that his (Moses) is the central figure in the story of Judaism and Christianity. It is a story that I like to read.
Phil Roets taught and guided many of us to a greater appreciation and understanding of the legacies of Moses and Jesus. Phil led us to responsible freedom to live our lives as we see fit. …. We are forever grateful.
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