Friday, September 22, 2006

Jewish Holidays

This would be an interesting and thought provoking and controversial debate. It would also be a chance to learn a lot. For the believer, this could prove to be an adventure of discovery of all the beautiful double-meanings of all the Jewish Holidays.

Should Christians celebrate the Jewish Holidays and the Christianized pagan holidays (like Christmas and Easter)?


Should Christians only celebrate the Christianized pagan holidays?


Should Christians forsake the Christianized pagan holidays and only celebrate the Jewish holidays and feasts the Jesus celebrated?

On this one, due to the world in which we live, I lean towards the first option. However, if I could reinvent the world and imagine a world where there was no Christmas and Easter, then I think it would be really neat to celebrate the Jewish Holidays with the kind of enthusiasm with which I celebrate Christmas now.

Like so many others, my emotions have been manipulated by the world. I'm not necessarily saying that this is a bad thing. But the idea of it certainly sounds bad. For all the talk that Americans espouse about freedom and independence, we have really fell in line with the world program - with the Christmas trees and Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and all. If people think they are really free, then it might be worth noting how incredibly difficult it would be to refrain from celebrating Christmas. Again, not that celebrating Christmas is a bad thing ... its just that we all tend to act like sheep - following the program that was set for us centuries ago by people who decided that the best strategy for reaching the pagan is to celebrate our most important holidays on the days of their most important pagan celebrations. (I won't call the pagan celebrations holidays, because I know about the etymology of the word holiday).

Anyway, I start this post today because Rosh Hashana begins this evening. And it is exciting. The Jewish New Year. I don't know much else about Rosh Hashana (because I haven't celebrated it every year the way I have the 4th of July and Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter). But I'm excited to learn about it and to discover the rich double meanings of the holiday. I'm pretty certain that every Jewish Holiday has a double meaning for those of us who believe that Jesus is the Messiah. So, this is an exciting day!


Blogger MarcoConley said...

Should Christians celebrate Jewish Holidays, Christianized pagan holidays, or both?

I'm sure you realize-- this was THE big question in the first few centuries of the church. The "Christian-only" group won out.

The authors of Mark, Matthew, and Revelation were definitely in the "Jewish Only" camp. If we were to ask the author of Luke-Acts, she would certainly say that Christians are no compelled to celebrate Jewish holidays.

Of course, if you ask secular humanists like me, the answer's pretty easy:

Celebrate what ya want! :) If something enriches your life, then why not?

Personally, Judaism has never held much appeal for me, other than as a historical oddity. There must have been thousands of Judaism-like religions that came and went over the millinea, but one of them still exists and we can still read it. It's a little bit like having novels that were written by Neanderthals-- they may not be particularly well-written, but they're fascinating in their own way.

For example-- the ancient jews were not monotheistic in the same way modern jews are. They are more properly termed Henotheistic-- they worship only one supreme ruler-God, but belief that other gods, demigods, and the like do exist. Which I find really fascinating.

Of course, the same charge could be leveled at most groups of Christainity: there are whole classes of minor semi-divine entities--- cherubim, seraphim, Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, and Mephistopheles, etc, etc. Of course, Catholicism has the tradition of ancestor-worship of the saints.

Not to disparage the Christians-- more just to show that the Hindus and the Pagans aren't as different from the Christians and the Muslims as we might suspect at first glance.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"there are whole classes of minor semi-divine entities--- cherubim, seraphim, Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, and Mephistopheles, etc, etc."

For someone so smart, you sure are ignorant.

Cherubim, seraphim, Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub - none are deities. Angels - whether they be fallen or not - are not deities.

Abraham - the father of the faith - worshipped the one God - YHWH.

Where have you got the idea that the author of Luke/Acts was a woman? Did you read some quasi-historical/conspiracy theory book written during or after the Enlightenment to gain such knowledge?

Ya know... being as smart and as informed as you are, you really should make an effort to make a clear distinction between what you know to be true and what you are merely spiffballing at.

Otherwise, it causes you to lose credibility. For example, when you make this matter-of-fact statement about Christians believing in multiple "gods" and then include beings like cherubim and seraphim in your list of "gods," to any educated person, you clearly don't know what you are talking about. And so when you make other matter-of-fact statements about matters of which I am presently ignorant, I don't know whether to believe you or not.

So, if retaining credibility matters to you, use a little more discernment.

9:35 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

there are whole classes of minor semi-divine entities--- cherubim, seraphim, Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, and Mephistopheles, etc, etc."

But they are deities-- just 'lesser' ones. Put another way-- when we talk about OTHER religions, the word we use to describe entities that have comparable powers and attributes of angels is "god" or "goddess". Immortality, the power to defy the laws of nature, limited omniscience, etc. They're supernatural. If it weren't an abrahamic religion, we would call them gods.

Now, obviously, they're not the CHIEF god, supreme being, or creator god. But almost all polytheistic religions have echelons of gods-- with some as supreme god, others as demigods. The hindus, for example, have Brahma as the supreme creator god, but that doesn't stop Lord Ganesha (the lovable blue skinneed elephant-headed fellow) from being a god too. The greek had Zeus, but that didn't stop Hephestaus, patron of blacksmiths, from having semi-divne traits.

"Thou shalt not have any other gods before me" doesn't mean "There are no other gods", it means _I_ am the king god, the supreme god. It doesn't mean that satan, lucifer, and the angels don't exist.

I'm just saying-- when a catholic parishioner says a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, they are worshipping a demigod of the Christian pantheon. When they pray to St. Christopher, they are performing a variant of ancestor worship.

If you weren't Christian, and you saw people doing the same exactly thing, you would agree.


Where have you got the idea that the author of Luke/Acts was a woman?

Well, you're correct to admonish me for not more clearly delineating what I know - vs - what I think -vs- what I'm just saying to be interesting. In the voice in my head, it's all quite clear, I assure you-- the emphasis on words and such. But so little makes it into transcription.

I certainly don't know that the author of Luke-Acts was a woman. But I do regard it as more likely than not.


The first thing you have to understand is that whoever DID write Luke-Acts-- they weren't named Luke. Or more accurately-- they have about the same chance of having been named Luke as having been named anything else. Luke is a wild guess based on the logic "Umm.. must have been a companion of Paul, even though the book never says so. Who else do we know who hung out with Paul? Ten names huh? Well-- how bout Luke? maybe it was him"

If you believe in the infallibility of the catholic church, then perhaps their wild guess HAD to be right. But if you think the catholics are just humans like the rest of us, then it's unbelievably unlikely that their wild guess would happen to be right.
The best evidence for a female Luke is just the overwhelming presence of women in Luke-Acts. So, we can't say for sure that the author actually WAS female, but we can certainly say the author was far, far more pro-female and woman-centered than any of the other biblical authors.

Now, for reasons I won't get into, we happen to know the sources for the Gospel of Luke-- namely, Mark and a lost sayings gospel called "Q" by modern scholars. And if we look at how the author of Luke changed the sources-- how Gosp. of Luke differs from the other sources, we can get a lot of insight into the author.

There's lots and lots of examples where Luke contains pro-female messages. Here is just one that pushed me over the edge to the point where I'd say "Yeah-- this sounds right".

Matt 24:40 and Lk 17:34 tell the same basic story, but there's a big different. Here's Matthew's version which most people assume is closer to the original saying:

"There will be two men in the field; One will be taken, the other left. Two women grinding at the mill; one will be taken, the other left".

Luke tells almost the same story, but it's subtly changed. Luke says:

"I tell you, on that night, there will be two men in one bed; One will be taken, the other left. There will be two women together grinding corn; one will be taken, the other left".

See what Luke changed? Now, the men aren't working along side the women-- the women are out working hard past sunset, while the men are being lazy and sleeping.

Doesn't that sound like the sense of human of a woman who feels like she's does all the work while the men sit around?

Somebody consciously made that change. Some human being, at some point, changed one version of the story from one into the other. Why?

There are hundreds of examples of this sort of thing. Maybe it's just me-- but I found that particular example especially convincing.


In the end, we'll probably never know one way or the other. But, whoever wrote it, they definitely when around changning their sources to make them more women-centered, and adding more pro-women stuff to it. When you add in the description of what it feels like to be pregnant... Statistically, I'm inclinded to think a female Luke is far more likely than a male one.

11:24 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Is it so inconceivable that a man named Luke who had awesome reverence for Jesus thought highly of women?

The apostles and prophets who wrote down the Bible did not care one bit what the world thought about what they were writing. So, in a culture that devalued women, Luke, in reverence for God, honored women.

2:34 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Is it so inconceivable that a man named Luke who had awesome reverence for Jesus thought highly of women?

Well, two questions there. IS it possible the author of luke-act was a man who thought highly of women? Absolutely. Definitely possible. I'd say it's slightly less probable than the author being a woman, since the number of women who have a pro-woman mentality is usually higher than the number of men. But both options are certainly it's certainly possible.

But is it inconceivable that a woman could write a gospel???

Is it inconceivable that the author was named Luke? Unless the catholic church was miraculously inspired in their guess, then it is completely inconceivable.

The only evidence we (or they) have that it might be Luke is that parts of Acts appear to be quoting from a traveling companion of Paul. Even if we know the author of those wrote then entire book of Luke-Acts (which we have many reasons to doubt), then we still have an absolutely "roll the dice" situtation. Paul has LOTS of companions mentioned in his epistles, and there's no reason to pick Luke over all the other people who hung out with Paul.

So even if the author WAS an associate of Paul (which, trust me, isn't so), but even if it WERE so, there's no reason to pick Luke over Aristarchusm, Mark, Demas, Timothy, Apphia, Archippus, Onesimus, or anyo of the other many, many names mentioned in the Pauline Epistles.

UNLESS, of course, you believe God miraculously guided the Catholics as they set up their church. If you believe that, then I suppose you're justified in believe that a man named Luke wrote Luke-Acts, along with believing that all protestants are going to hell.

3:48 PM  
Blogger breakerslion said...

"...Now, for reasons I won't get into, we happen to know the sources for the Gospel of Luke-- namely, Mark and a lost sayings gospel called "Q" by modern scholars. And if we look at how the author of Luke changed the sources-- how Gosp. of Luke differs from the other sources, we can get a lot of insight into the author...."

This is a waste of time. You are arguing with a crazy person whose mind is closed. For him, Luke is Luke 'cause the preacher men say so. Whatever is contradictory must be a lie. Said lie is probably attributable to the anti-god Satan, but let's quibble and make sure we don't put him in the same echelon, no matter what his role in mythology. The same is true for the alleged Angels and the Saints; let's split hairs over the meaning of their position in the hierarchical pyramid. It's all a load of happy horse manure, except for man's real need to answer questions because he is too egotistical to admit he doesn't know. You might as well pray to your own toe jam for all the good it will do, but the odds-based occasional coincidence will keep you coming back for more like a gambling junky at a slot machine.

Sorry CE, I had to get that off my chest. I think that people do themselves good to celebrate any holiday that has meaning for them, regardless of traditional ownership. If said holiday is recreational, in the original sense of the word, good. If said holiday makes one reflect on their place in society, the world, the family, or history, so much the better. If said holiday makes one act in a way that makes one feel good about one's self, great. If the holiday leaves one with a sense of entitlement, or superiority to those not of the same mind, or with a colossal hangover the next day, well that's pretty screwed-up, isn't it? It's kind of like what the Erisians say about their (un)holy writ: "This book is a mirror. When a monkey looks in, no saint looks out." A holiday is what you make it, and what you make it largely depends upon who you are.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"This is a waste of time. You are arguing with a crazy person whose mind is closed."

Is your mind not closed?

If I have not received revelation from God, then you would be absolutely right. To speak and believe the way I do would be crazy - and arrogant.

Imagine for a second that there is other life in the universe - similar to human life - but without sin. (Ok, I know you already are struggling to keep up with my scenario cause I used the "s" word, but making an extra effort won't hurt). So, in this fairy tale society, there is peace and justice and love. The inhabitants love love and hate hatred. Their "moral compass" is true - not skewed. They have a grip on moral absolutes - both philosophically and in practice. In their hearts, they delight in true love and righteousness and justice.

And then they heard about Earth and all the corruption on Earth. So, they came to Earth to set things straight. Millions of them arrive on Earth with a mission. They will right what is wrong and establish justice and love and true righteousness. They will fight against the powers of evil and put an end to genocide and racism and hatred.

You would think that the people of this world that value goodness and righteousness and justice would welcome such guests - reinforcements as it were. But the problem is that a great many people who perceive themselves as good look at these aliens and they start thinking, "These aliens are wack." They think that because it seems that all these aliens seem to be about 10 degrees off vertical - as they walk around and carry on their business. And a lot of people are thinking, "What gives? Why are these aliens 10 degrees off vertical?" And then a few wise people get it. The aliens aren't 10 degrees off vertical; they are!

See ultimately, breakerslion, it appears that you trust in yourself and in your own "good" judgment. And you have some kind of problem with me trusting in the LORD. I appear pretty wack to you, but the reason for that is that you are 10 degrees off vertical. Having rejected God, you don't know which end is up, but you have been deceived into thinking that you have a grip on truth and reality.

This is not to say that you are not intelligent. From the writing I have seen, you clearly are. I also do not intend to insult you in the least. I don't look at people who are 10 degrees off vertical and despise them. No, sir. But for grace, there go I! In fact, it is possible - even probable - that in some areas, I am deceived even now. I am utterly dependent on God to set me and keep me straight. I can't rely on myself; I am not that trustworthy. I am totally dependent on God - who sees the big picture - to reveal truth to me. He is the Ultimate Authority on epistemology.

But you think that you are the ultimate authority on epistemology. Or, you think that it is impossible to know truth. (But if that was true, how would you know it?) Either way, you are totally dependent on God to see truth and reality for what it is.

I mean not to be malicious. If I seem a bit combative, the combat is strictly in the arena of ideas. I am not personally attacking you. I extend to you my friendship and invite you to ask God to reveal Himself to you. For without revelation, none of us can no anything for certain.

11:58 AM  

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