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Think Hebrew

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By Virgil - Posted on 17 March 2007

Don't remember where I found this. Maybe if more people quit thinking like westerners preterism wouldn't seem so outlandish; please not the differences between western and eastern thinking, and how disciplines such as theology, philosophy and logic are greatly affected by those differences.Enjoy these presentations!

Hebrew vs. Greek Thinking: http://www.followtherabbi.com/...

The Synagogue and Rabbi: http://www.followtherabbi.com/...


Geography of Israel: http://www.followtherabbi.com/...


Oh...and don't forget to forward these links to everyone you know. Maybe we can spark a revolution.

P-Mike

Virgil's picture

I gotta say, the very first presentation is excellent, especially when it describes the west vs. east views of truth:

Greeks: Greeks see truth as static and unchanging.

Hebrew: Hebrews see truth as unfolding.

Greek: For Greeks, the ultimate in truth tends to be scientific and rational. When looking at scriptures they focus on how things are done. They come to believe truth as they think it through.

Hebrew: Hebrews see the ultimate in truth as religious and experiential. When looking at Scripture, they focus on what was done and who did it. They come to believe truth as they experience it.

Ransom's picture

Yeah, this is good stuff. The Greeks were responsible for our ability to do science, but the Hebrews are responsible for our ability to do theology. The worldviews are actually complementary, as long as they each do what they're intended to do and stop trying to sack the other guy's turf.

NB9M's picture

Not necessarily! These ideas do not necessarily eminate from distinct peoples.

Differentiating the between the Greek and the Hebrew by their ABILITY is erroneous, because Greeks were often Hebrew as a people. In other words, Greeks contributing to science may have been not only Semite, but Israelites.

When I see statements like this, I see confusion resulting from the (erroneous) idea that Gentiles (sometimes called "Greek" - ethnos) are non-Jews or non-Israelites.

Remember: Paul's audience in Romans, Galations, Ephesians, Corinthians, etc were Israelites - not pagan peoples. These Israelites from the diaspora were huge in number, and contributing (blessing the nations) and had been for centuries!

For His Kingdom,
-Brad

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chef's picture

In the recent past I have spent several years in Hebrews roots movements (not messianic -there is a difference). Much of the time it leads right into legalism, specifically Sabbath keeping, clean and unclean foods, the annual Holidays, and for many, the “613” (where applicable).

[Now I want to qualify my statement- I still attend Sabbath keeping congregations, and I still attend the “feast of the OT”; but I do it for tradition sake, not covenantal sake]

Extreme examples:
http://www.haderek.ca/articles/articles.htm
(for you sports fans, read the Baal article. I bet you didn’t know that watching the college basketball playoffs this weekend was/is participating in baal worship!)

http://www.waoy.org/What_Days_Should_We_Observe_Under_The_New_Covenant.pdf

http://www.fossilizedcustoms.com/quiz.html

Anyways, there is some good and intresting material historically speaking, but most want to go back into bondage.

Be Well All,

Chef Tony

Chef Tony

Ed's picture

Tony,
Talmudic Judaism is largely Babylonian, not Israelitish. After the Babylonian captivity, and even more so after the DofJ in AD70, the religious leaders left the simplicity of Hebraic thought. That is most likely Jesus' contention with the Law - as Paul points out, there was nothing wrong with the Law, it was how it was being used.

Legalism was a problem then, it is a problem now (for whatever reason). We need to think like Hebrews if we are to understand scripture (this is where I think postmodernism is helpful), but not act like unbelieving Israel.

ed

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

chef's picture

Greetings Ed!

Yes, the Law is Holy, Just and True. Nevertheless, many in the Hebrew Roots movement are not content with the sufficiency of Christ; For many of them, Yashuah is just a starting point to the returning of Sinai Law (with the only difference being the order of the Priesthood.). This is not something Christ nor the apostles advocated.

Chef Tony

Chef Tony

Ed's picture

Oh I agree Tony.

My point is that "their" understanding of "The Law" was faulty, due to it being influenced by Babylonian religion. After the DofJ, the Pharisees wrote the Talmud, which was a compilation of Sinaitic Law and Babylonian interpretation.

One of the problems that I think Christianity has is its assumption that it was the Babylonian perversion that Jesus was confronting. While that had some truth in it, it seems to me that the Law from Sinai was a "ministry of death" because it only brought death because of "the flesh."

It truly is sad that so many people are returning to the Law that brought death, rather than embracing Christ, who brings LIFE.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Paige's picture

Amen, Ed.

We discussed in our fellowship group yesterday about how that very law that I want to use to condemn my neighbor, condemns me too.

The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.

If we could grasp hold of this concept of unity: When I heap condemnation upon myself, I'm condemning my neighbor. When I heap condemnation upon my neighbor, I'm condemning myself.

God is love,
Paige

Kyle Peterson's picture

I would also add that the Hellenistic culture probably played a role in increased legalism as well.

chef's picture

Hi, Tony:

I like what you said about our need as good apologists to remain true to the text. That's so true, especially as we see a tremendous proliferation of faulty exegesis throughout not only the Church of God but also throughout the world of churchianity as a whole.

On to Hebrews 4 then. I feel seventh day apologists often reach--stretch might be a better word--for texts to support the New Testament observance of the Sabbath. Without getting into the whole area of proof texting, I'll just say that the New Testament is clear on the abiding nature of the Sabbath and its centrality to a proper New Testament worship model. I personally don't need Hebrews 4 to buttress my Sabbath observance although I suppose some folks might. There's no doubt Hebrews 4 is convenient for the purpose of saying, "Don't you see? Right here it is! The New Testament says that God's people should keep the Sabbath!" When a teacher then jumps over to Hebrews 10 and points out that we're not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as is the custom or manner of some, it makes for a pretty compelling argument in the minds of many.

However, it's an unneeded and superfluous argument as the New Testament is abundantly clear throughout concerning the Sabbath and its binding nature on anyone who would name the name of Christ. For pity's sake, even Billy Graham acknowledges that the New Testament mandates keeping the seventh day Sabbath! Graham simply has chosen, of his own free will and with knowledge of what is right and what is wrong, to reject the Sabbath and to keep Sunday instead. Here is Graham's argument in a nutshell: "I choose Sunday because it's convenient" or some such nonsense. Since "America's preacher," as Graham often is called, won't be able to stand before Jesus Christ and say, "I didn't know the seventh day was your day and that I should have kept it," I wonder what kind of lashing--or worse--he will have to endure for his "decision?" Ah, yes, the man who has urged millions to "make your decision for Christ" made his own decision concerning the Sabbath--and it was the wrong one!

Of course, part of the problem lies in making an argument or a "decision" for Sabbath observance. One should want to keep the Sabbath. Sabbath observance for God's people should be as fundamental as prayer, Bible study, or any other basic element of the faith. I believe that once a person has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to the essential nature of Sabbath observance; once he or she has and is led by that selfsame Spirit; and once said individual has tasted of the joys and the blessings of keeping the day holy that God commanded be kept holy--rather than "worshipping" on the day of the sun god or being an outright reprobate and not claiming any adherance at all to God's way of life--the matter becomes moot anyway. Sabbath keeping naturally will become an established and integral part of that man or woman's life and nothing this world has to offer will compare in importance or desirability.

We could go around and around about katapausis and sabbatismos. The former word clearly is, as you point out, salvitic and refers to the rest Christians are promised throughout scripture, i.e., rest from life's labors, sins, sorrows, heartaches, and so forth. The latter word, however, clearly alludes to if not flat out denotes the seventh day of the week. Whether one wants to see sabbatismos as a type of the rest pictured by the use of katapausin elsewhere in the passage, or whether one wants to see sabbatismos as an insertion meant to remind folks, "Hey, don't forget that you still must keep the Sabbath," is irrelevant in my mind. The Sabbath is both a memorial of creation and a looking forward to the "rest" God has in store for all who attain salvation and is to kept eternally. That's the end of the matter for me.

No, the question seems to be quite simply one of exegeting a particular passage in a particular epistle, namely, Hebrews 4. Naturally one will approach the matter from his or her particular school of thought or hermeneutical persuasion. If the argument that Hebrews 4:9 means the seventh day Sabbath is a weak one (and it may indeed be a weak argument), that in no way negates the multitude of other scriptures that plainly, methodically, and irrefutably nail down our central teaching, that is, the seventh day Sabbath.

Chef Tony

NB9M's picture

The whole "we've got to augment our understanding with Hebraic thought" is downright dangerous. Why? It's questionable whether today's "Hebrew" has the same heritage of the biblical Hebrew. The idea that we should sit at the feet of the rabbi in order to cast new light to our understanding has entered in mainline Christian media is very, very scary and recent in origin.

If this "Hebrew thought" has its foundations in the Talmud (which, by the admission of Jewish scholarship themselves, came from Babylon through the Pharisaic system) or the mystic Cabbala it MUST be rejected, for the same reason Jesus called the Pharisees "snakes and vipers."

Quoting Lewis Finkelstein (1938): "Judaism. Pharisaism became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval Rabbinism, and Medieval Rabbinism be came Modern Rabbinism. But throughout these changes of name, inevitable adaptation of custom, and adjustment of Law, the spirit of the ancient Pharisee survives unaltered. When the Jew reads his prayers, he is reciting formulae prepared by pre-Maccabean scholars; when he dons the cloak prescribed for the Day of Atonement and Passover Eve, he is wearing the festival garment of ancient Jerusalem; when he studies the Talmud, he is actually repeating the arguments used in the Palestinian academies."

Let's be wise as serpants...

For His Kingdom,
-Brad

\

Virgil's picture

Brad, when you suggest that thinking Hebrew is "dangerous" you are more or less insulting the entire lineage of Biblical tradition. Everything about our faith is "hewbrew" in one way or another, whether you want to accept it or not.

What is very very scary is the Americanizing of Christianity and the modernization/hellenization of the faith, where Platonic thinking rather than experiential faith is dictating our relationship with the creator.

NB9M's picture

Virgil, please re-read my post. I did not say that an understanding of Hebraic thought is not beneficial (and I apologize if I led folks to believe that.) What I said was that we need to be careful: there are many CLAIMING to offer "Hebraic" thought, and are foisting it on unsuspecting mainline "fundamentalists."

The roots of Talmudic Judaism are from Babylon. The 1st-century rabbis held to an oral tradition - later codified into the Misnah - after the fall of Jerusalem. The resultant Bablylonian Talmud are the "holy books" for the Jews today (which is antagonistic to our faith, Hebrew morals and the Kingdom view held by Jesus' followers, who WERE Hebrew.)

Consequently, we are well advised to steer away from modern "Hebraic" thought, because it is not necessarily what was taught by our Savior, and the thought of the inspired writers of the Word of God. The Hebrews of the 1st Century were a different people, with VERY different views.

I'd be happy to follow up with any references you require. In fact, I just finished a 4-hour MP3 series dealing with this very topic, if you want the link.

For His Kingdom,
-Brad

\

NB9M's picture

>> you are more or less insulting the entire lineage of Biblical tradition.

If the "entire lineage of Biblical tradition" mandates acceptance of a Pharisaical world view, then let the insulting begin, and tradition tossed.

"And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers." (Gal 1:14)

It must be pointed out that the temple system was administered by people having their OWN religion, with traditions of its own. With our understanding of the eschatology of the 1st century, this is significant with regard to the coming events (Rev 2:9, 3:9).

Phrases like "leaven of the Pharisees" didn't come about without reason, or as simply some moral application for generations removed. It was a dangerous poison to the Hebrew faith then, as now.

>> Everything about our faith is "hewbrew" in one way or another

I'm not denying this. I am rejecting, however, the idea that "Hebraic" is defined in the context of modern Jewry. Their genetic heritage, by the admission of their own scholarship (as well as numerous historical, eytomological and anthropological evidences) is not even Semitic - let alone Hebrew!

>> whether you want to accept it or not.

Virgil, I want TRUTH.

>> Americanizing of Christianity and the modernization/hellenization of the faith

I'm actually seeing (thankfully) the opposite happening in the reformed Christian Israel movement. But I generally share your concern!

\

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Virgil,

That is the way I see it, too. Are you up for "pre-modernism" yet?

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

Virgil's picture

Haha..pre-modernism? Sure...that's what the Eternal return is all about man...but the way I look at it is more post-post-modernism than anything.

heck...Unfinished Christianity is the best term I can think of so far :)

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Virgil,

Can't wait to sit down and enjoy some time with you,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

Sam's picture

Let's note assume that there are different "truths" between the east and the west. Man was made in the image of God, and thus, we "think" the same. Note what the website says, "Greek thinkers express truth..." and "westerners express truth..." The WAYS in which they express truth are different, but the LOGIC through which they express them is the same. If it were not, then we could not KNOW (knowledge) what the pictures meant.

Sam

Virgil's picture

I will say a hearty "Amen to that Sam! :) Both analytical and experiential believers seem to express the same truth, in just a different way. Once we understand this, all kinds of possibilities for conversation open up and become opportunities to built bridges between "west" and "east" if you will, rather than tear them down.

Sam's picture

We agree! We agree! We agree! There is a God!

ha ha

Sam

Virgil's picture

Hahahaha!!! :)

MichaelB's picture

From a website called "What Jews Believe"

1. Jews believe that one person cannot die for the sins of another person.

2. Jews believe that we do not need a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.

3. Jews believe that Jesus was not the messiah.

4. Jews believe that God is God, and humans are humans. God does not become human nor do humans become God.

5. Jews believe that one is born into the world with original purity, and not with original sin. Jews do not believe in original sin. Jews say THAT PAUL TAUGHT ORIGINAL SIN and therefore is a heretic.

6. Jews believe that God is one and indivisible. Jews do not believe in a trinity.

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Michael,

You are posting modern Jew's beliefs (as unbelievers define them). Can I point out that Jesus and the apostles (most of them) were Jews? Do these definitions apply to them?

Hebrew as an adjective captures a mindset. A mindset about God, the world and the true faith and how it is lived out in three dimensions in the real world rather in logical/propositional format limited to the confines of the rational mind (hellenic).

There is a difference. I think it is bigger than most realize.

Consider this,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

MichaelB's picture

Of course they (Jesus etc) were Jews. My only point is, just because it is "Hebrew" doesn't make it so. Pharisees and Saducees of Jesus time were "Hebrew" too. What was their mindset about resurrection Tim? That is all I am saying. God is not the god of the Jews ONLY.

29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Michael,

Hear me out for a sec. I think this discussion has wandered a bit from Psychomike's reason for posting the material.

It was inevitable that the Christian Church would be influenced by Hellenic thought. The gospel went out to the Jew first and then the Greek. It overtook the entire Roman world which is to say it overtook the Greek mind of the time.

That was an amazing success. It opened the door for all of the cultural accomplishments in hellenic society and thought to be used by the Church. It was a great gift for the first millenium of Church history.

But that gift did not come without a price. Synthesis led to a stagnant Christian society. Things got a bit mixed up and problems arose. Rationalism (a method not a slur) kind of took over and led to a bizzare outcome - like arguing over the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. Some call this dead end "scholasticism" and I believe it greatly affected both Roman Catholic society and Reformational society in the West.

I believe there is a real sense in that Christian progress today involves removing latent Hellenic mindsets/methods and replacing them with a thorough-going biblical Hebraic mindset about God, the world, and Christian society. I believe preterism is one (of quite a few) essential elements to this rebirth of Christian society that is not so much "post-modern" as it is "pre-modern." Some of us are actually finding out that the way of life and thinking modeled in Scripture is not so archaic as our culture proclaims.

I would just define it as a down to earth, wholistic life that incorporates thinking and living into one relational whole. The Hebraic mindset is organic rather than synthetic.

It deals with ideas and creational reality to the point that we don't know exactly where one starts and the other stops. They are intimitely inter-related.

Compare that with a modern systematic Loci theology where all points are rationally deduced from proof-texts and placed into a neat organizational relationship. Logical doctrine, distilled in the two dimensions of the mind.

Do you see what I'm getting at when I draw this comparison? Hebraic is not anti-rational. Just like Hellenic is not anti-creational. It is more a method or emphasis. Hebraic allows for more artistry in terms of communication, and therefore more subtlety and undefined knowledge. Hellenic limits truth the boundaries of logic and is on a quest for certainty.

I'm sure that will catch someone's ire, but that's the way I see the contrast. At root, I don't really believe the two are contradictory, because they really need each other to round out the full deal.

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

psychohmike's picture

Thanks for your thoughts Tim...You are a true Montanian. I can't wait to come visit my sister and hang out with a brother of like mind.

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Mike,

How would you know you and me are "of like mind." Have you been reading something lately?

Let me know when you show up. We'll hang out a bit.

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

psychohmike's picture

Brother...I wish I had more time to read a certain printed manuscript that is in a manilla envelope next to my arm chair. Actually I have read a couple of chapters and hear from some that I need to read more to get to the good stuff. Aside from my Bible I haven't had much discipline in reading. And the majority of my Bible time is in the car on cd. But then again I drive alot.

By the way...What do you think of Pret-Idealism?

Pmike

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Mike,

I drive a lot, too. My car has no radio (nothing whatsoever). It is "think time/silent time" for me.

I'm investigating pret-idealism. Can't quite get my mind around it at this point.

See my interraction below on Sam's article.

Later,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

psychohmike's picture

I did actually read it and should have given you kudos for your response. I think you spoke well. And based on your response I think you are alot closer to Pret-Idealism that you realize. Seriously. Not only did you hit the nail on the head...but you drove the nail all the way through the stud.

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Mike,

I hate it when that happens!

I have long accepted a historically based idealism of sorts. But I think the historical is as important as the spiritual dimension. Or to put it another way, it is only in history and in the physical creation that we learn of God and his ways. To pit the historical against the spiritual is a dead end. The Quakers tried that 300+ years ago - today, they are virtually all Universalists.

All of this actually relates to the hebraic mindset and to your posting. The Hebrews gloried in history. It is where God acts. God does stuff. (That makes Him a glorious God who rules over history). We live faithful lives in history, for God made history -it is good.

If that makes me a pret-idealist, then so be it. I am committed to the belief that Adam fell in history and that redemption is accomplished in history. Christianity is a historical faith. The Bible emphasizes history like no other religion in the world (who all have their own spiritual riddle books).

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind down the road as I study and get more answers on pret-idealism. Some questions need to be asked.

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving

psychohmike's picture

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind down the road as I study and get more answers on pret-idealism. Some questions need to be asked.Yes...please do ask and seek. Even if this is not the end or the correct view, I do believe at the least it is the next step in the progression of understanding what it is that the Spirit is revealing.

flannery0's picture

"and hear from some that I need to read more to get to the good stuff"

I seem to recall making that comment to someone recently. ;)

Hey, Mike.

Ed's picture

Yeah Tim, I like the way you said this.

The Hebrew people were "people of the book" not people of the proof text. God has given us a wonderful story, a true story, that is both literally true AND metaphorical in its message. In our Western mindset, we want exact time frames (he was king for 42 years, 3 months and 7 days), whereas the Hebrew writer would say, in sticking with metaphor, "he was king for 40 years.

As we recapture those "glasses" that allow us to see as a Hebrew, I think that a lot of the issues that even we preterists argue about will fall away into meaninglessness. The Hebrews saw EVERYTHING as God's intervention. They had no problem with understanding how God could be as loving and merciful as He is, and yet have such an intense hatred for sin, a concept that brought only pain, sorrow, and death to His creation. We struggle with that tension, the Bible doesn't - when understood in its original context.

Well, I must go to bed. Thanks again for a great post. See you in a few weeks.

ed

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Ed,

See you soon. Like I said earlier, I'm really looking forward to it,

Blessings,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

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