The Church, Synagogue, and St. Paul

Paul with hand on head with Church on right Synagogue on left

Why Paul never used the word synagogue to describe the movement he inspired and chose ecclesia instead—the Greek word we translate as church.

The short answer is that he couldn’t use the word synagogue for a variety of legal and administrative reasons. Ecclesia was a better fit for their role as a para-synagogue organization within the Jewish umbrella.

There is a second option but not so strong as the first one. Paul thought of ecclesia as  defining his concept of Messianic Judaism a restorative movement claiming back to the time of Ezra.

Read moreThe Church, Synagogue, and St. Paul

Christianity’s Big Split from Judaism

The reasons and impact of Christianity’s separation from its Jewish parent.

Christianity split from Judaism

Christianity first started as a grass-roots Jewish movement that had its origins in the Galilee and Jerusalem regions. In fact, the word Christian was introduced later. This article is an exploration into the events that forced the early followers of Jesus to move away from Judaism and into a different identity.

Read moreChristianity’s Big Split from Judaism

The Dead Sea Scrolls, Jesus, and Paul

Capturing the spirit of first-century Judaism through the window of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament writings.

The Dead Sea Scrolls give an important look into first-century Jewish life from a mainly Jewish-Hebrew perspective; a genre lacking until their advent. Most of our extra-biblical knowledge of Israel during the first-century was previously drawn from Jewish Greek and Aramaic writers.

Read moreThe Dead Sea Scrolls, Jesus, and Paul

Tongues of Corinth Infographic

A history of speaking, interpreting, and reading from 500 B.C. to 400 A.D. in Judaism and early Christianity.

An interactive infographic to help you navigate Paul’s world and how these offices later evolved in the Christian Church. Clicking on the image will bring you to the full interactive site.

IMPORTANT! Please note that the interactive file was an experiment in coding and design. The end result is that you have to wait a bit longer before the file is rendered, especially on mobile phones. My apologies in advance.

Paul’s mention of speaking in tongues in I Corinthians is deeply wrapped in the Jewish identity. The same goes for his understanding of speaking, reading, and interpreting of tongues. These rites have a rich history that goes well over 800 years. The initial origins are deeply connected to the times of Ezra.

Read moreTongues of Corinth Infographic

The role of Hebrew in the Jewish-Aramaic World

The influence of Aramaic and Hebrew on Jewish life around the first-century.

The goal of any information gleaned from this inquiry is to find a possible connection with Hebrew being a part of the first-century Corinthian liturgy. A subsequent purpose is to confirm or deny an assertion by the fourth-century Bishop of Salamis, Epiphanius, that the mystery tongues of Corinth had its roots in the Hebrew language.

We cannot assume any synagogue outside of Israel, let alone Corinth, used the Hebrew language as part of their religious service. So, it requires digging deeper into the relationship between Hebrew and Aramaic to find answers.

Read moreThe role of Hebrew in the Jewish-Aramaic World

A Jewish-Greek Perspective on the Tongues of Corinth

The following is a journey into identifying speaking in tongues through Hebrew and Greek Jewish traditions.

This is an introduction to a series of articles devoted to this subject.

A man and a young man reading the Torah together

Researching Jewish traditions about speakers and interpreters has uncovered two very important customs that are so close to Paul’s narrative that it would be hard to call them accidental parallels. The first solution relates to the reading out loud of Scripture in Hebrew with an immediate translation in the local vernacular. The second one is the custom of instructing in Hebrew and providing a translation into the local language.

There is also a third alternative: the use of Aramaic as the language of worship and education  in conflict with the Greek Corinth assembly constituents. This could be a solution if more information comes forward. For the time being it will be relegated a distant third option and only small snippets of this subject will be addressed. The majority of this series will be devoted to the first two concepts.

These first two options have existed all along but few have paid attention to them in the Christian community. This Jewish-centric approach has been minimized for two reasons: antisemitism and ignorance of Jewish literature in both Catholic and Protestant communities, and the hyper-emphasis on the Greek and Latin cultures to exclusivity by rationalist scholars in the 1800s.

The option of instructing in Hebrew with a translation into the local language best fits the Corinthian narrative. However, the rite of public reading in Hebrew with an immediate translation into the local language does have some strengths that cannot be discounted. The solution could even be a mixture of the two.

Read moreA Jewish-Greek Perspective on the Tongues of Corinth

The Journey out of Christian Zionism

Picture of soldiers, Bedouin girls, military truck, and Judaen desert

Why I am no longer pro-Israel, nor pro-Arab, but pro-human.

A personal story about why I came to Israel as a Christian Zionist but left with a more balanced point of view when leaving.

My change of mind began with a scholarship to attend the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1984. The stay in Israel was after three years of Bible College training. It was exciting to live and study in the actual place where most of the Biblical writings took place.

Read moreThe Journey out of Christian Zionism

The Alliance between Israel and Evangelicals

The financial, political, social and religious connections between the nation of Israel and Evangelical groups abroad.

The growing relationship between Israel and Evangelicals is largely due to domestic problems inside Israel and the greater Jewish community. The Jewish liberal monetary support has been declining, partly in protest to the encroaching rhetoric of Jewish fundamentalism into mainstream Israeli politics, such as the transfer of power to a Likud based party, the redefinition of the Jewish identity by a stricter set of rules,1 and the religious fervour of Westbank community settlements.

The Evangelical alliance also gives the Israeli Government political insurance if there is potential fallout of goodwill within many of its western democratic government allies.

Read moreThe Alliance between Israel and Evangelicals

Death, Religion and the Modern Man

A look at death from contemporary, religious, philosophical, and personal perspectives.

Death is the one question that modern science still has yet to answer in the most preliminary way. Religion answers questions about death, but this is largely ignored. Philosophy touches on the subject, but this falls short.

In modern western society, our thoughts on the subject are so thoroughly deficient, that we are not only unprepared, we emotionally flee.

It also produces many outcomes in the modern mind which are mainly on the subconscious level.

Read moreDeath, Religion and the Modern Man