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Study of Matthew

Discussion in 'Bibliology DIR' started by metis, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    I finished our analysis of chapter 1 in Matthew yesterday, and I'm now going to write two posts, with the first just being an overview of things I felt were important and/or interesting, and then in my second post I'll give my opinions on some items that I know you're all waiting with baited breath for, which does bring up the question as to why eat bait? Well, maybe it's because you're a lousy fisherman/women/transgender?

    Matthew starts out with a genealogy of Jesus that goes all the way back to Abraham. The feeling is that this was done as Matthew was oriented to the Jewish people, thus there would be the necessity to connect Jesus to David's lineage to show that it was at least possible that he could be the long awaited Messiah.

    Also connected with that narrative we also went back into a look at some very strong but controversial women, such as Tamar, Rehab, and Ruth.

    We then looked at a diagnosis of Jesus' name "Yashua", which is a slang form of Joshua and means "God saves". Also there is "Christos", which is Greek for the Hebrew title of "mosiach" ("messiah"-- an anointed one). "Yashua" was a fairly common name back then and there were numerous messiahs. Also he gets labeled "Emmanuel", which means "God is with us", which does become a source for the Trinitarian concept. .

    Parallels were then drawn between Jesus and Joshua, especially dealing with the concept of saving their people, albeit from different perspectives.

    And finally there's the teaching that Jesus was born of a virgin and remained a virgin for the rest of her life, and that the labels for "sons" and "daughters" was also the same labels for cousins. Protestants tend to differ with Catholics as to whether Mary had sexual relations with Joseph and had other children.

    So, the above is the general approach taken, but since this meeting was over two hours, some of these were discussed in more detail plus some other tangents were covered.

    The next post is my take, so hopefully you got rid of the taste of bait my now.
     
  2. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    OK, now my takes:

    The genealogy I don't take at literal value for a couple of reasons, with one of them being that during the Babylonian Exile most of these tribal lineages got sorta lost since most of the tribes began to intermarry. Secondly, a great many names were dropped from the lineages found in Torah, and even they don't exactly match. Instead, I look at this narrative as being a rather subjective approach to try and establish Jesus as being the messiah, so I can accept that attempt on that level.

    The strong but controversial women are interesting in that even though eretz Israel was quite a patriarchal society, there still was respect for loyal women and what they could do even if they clearly had faults. However, one of the things I added is that most of the strong men mentioned in Torah also are portrayed as having faults as well, and David seemed to be intent on acquiring as many as he could. Some Jewish commentaries have it that this is so we don't view any of these people as being gods or even demigods.

    As far as the parallels between Jesus and Joshua, I find that interesting, and it certainly is not unusual in early Jewish writings.

    As far as Mary being a virgin at Jesus' birth and beyond, I really don't buy that literally even if my children believe that they are the product of immaculate conceptions. Instead, I tend to feel it's more likely one of these folktales injected to try and even more connect Jesus to God and, again, another justification for the Trinitarian concept that we'll be covering in later chapters.

    To finish, just a reminder that this is a discussion, not a debate, forum that @KenS and I had agreed to discuss with others more than welcome. However, please do remember that this is a Christian DIR forum.

    I'm looking forward to your comments.
     
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  3. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    It seems noteworthy that Matthew begins saying it is the book of the 'Genesis' of Jesus Christ. That is, the greek term used is Genesis.

    Matthew points out there are 42 generations. That is three sets of 14, and 14 generations is significant as it is the number of generations for a Moabite before they can be excepted into the temple. (Never mind that nobody ever seems to have followed that rule.) This means that the triple 14 alludes to 3 levels of cleansing, and therefore could be an allusion to some words by prophets that Israel must go through changes, some kind of refining. Now...does Matthew here indicate that Jesus is the last generation, the most refined generation or that he is the next step in refinement? I do not know. He is making a claim, however, by setting up these (obviously) fabricated genealogies which would fool a Roman but not anyone educated in the Torah.
     
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  4. KenS

    KenS Well-Known Member

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    My face was blue and I was started to wheeze when my wife asked me in alarm, "KEN, WHAT IS WRONG".

    Just then I saw your post and replied with new life and said "I was holding my baited breath waiting for Metis. I knew that he was slowing down with his age, but I didn't know how slow he had become". :D

    So true. What hit me the most was that Tamar and Rahab the harlot were Canaanitish women and Ruth was a Moabitiss. To me it speaks of God not have exception of people and is part of the covenant of Abraham in that "all nations" would be blessed.

    I love the placing of the 12 stones in the Jordan river and the 12 stones on the Promised land along with the waters being separated from Adam to the Dead Sea.

    A great parallel of Jesus and the new birth.

    Old man in us in remained in the dirty waters of Jordan from the City of Adam (The first who sinned) to the Dead Sea, the results of sin. The Born-again new birth is the promised land and a new life being a new creature.

    Was there another analogy? (Although I realize that really isn't in the first book of Matthew and it may expand this too far)

    Yes, although we do believe that she was a virgin at the birth of Jesus--but the difference is inconsequential IMO.

    I just can't help being a literalist on being a virgin, on this one. :D For more reasons than just this one. For me, it falls in line with the birth of Isaac (a God resurrection of dead bodies) and the creation of Adam (although this isn't about evolution--I remain that regardless, man is not a monkey's uncle). All of it saying "Only God can be the answer to death and only in Him is life".

    it is true that the lineage does omit some people. It doesn't mention why he omitted them so, indeed, it was a subjective approach. Although we can ascertain that many of the names are corroborated in the Old Testament.
     
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  5. KenS

    KenS Well-Known Member

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    Interesting.

    Another take is that it represents 1) Patriarchs, Prophets, and Judges, 2) Kings, and 3) Princes and Priests - but I think it is subjective too.
     
  6. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Well said, imo, and I do tend to think that the author of Matthew (we actually don't know for certain who wrote it) believed that Jesus' generation could be the last one. However, I'm not sure what you mean by "refined generation", so could you clarify?
     
  7. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    I never heard of that before but I have heard of "blue balls". Maybe you looked too low?

    The move towards utter perfection simply cannot be rushed.

    In Judaism that belief also prevails as nations will eventually come to recognize the "God of Abraham".

    I remember when I looked at the Jordan from where John supposedly baptized Jesus thinking "And this the Jordan?!". It's just a wee bit narrower and shallower than the Detroit River :rolleyes:, let me tell ya, and probably much more polluted.

    I'm not sure what you're referring to so we can just wait until it comes up.

    All your mirrors are broke? :p

    BTW, the man at our church who is directing this 20 week seminar and I discussed this as he's preparing for the deaconate, and he's switched from not agreeing with the basic ToE to accepting it as probable as long as it's understood God was behind it all, so maybe there's hope yet that you too could become enlightened some day. :D

    In my case, it was one of the main reasons I left my fundamentalist Protestant church that I grew up in [or tried to grow up-- never made it though], and the very first time I found out that one, as a Christian, could accept the basic concept was with a conversation I had with a Catholic priest at a bowling alley who said that either option is acceptable as long as it's understood that God was and is behind it all. Little did I know that I would covert to Catholicism almost 15 years later when I turned 30, and that was only one of several factors that were involved. Then I left the Church, and then I came back again to the Church-- I'm sorta like a bad boomerang. :emojconfused:
     
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  8. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    This question is much more difficult than it sounds. It is a cultural refinement, a quality of culture, non-violence, humility, and love. I have made a mistake, however with the numbers. A moabite cannot enter for 10 generations, effectively meaning never not literally 10. Also not 14. Disaster!

    Deut 23:3 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:

    The mistake came because I was adding 10 to a mental thought about Exodus 20:5. This caused me to mentally edit the number 10 to 14 by mistake and through sloth.

    Exodus 20:5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,

    This mental addition must have happened many years ago when I was thinking about this more literally. I added the 10 and the 4 together.
     
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  9. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Good to hear everyone's comments. I am reminded that any comment made by someone who isn't clearly identified as a Christian (such as a Baha'i) in a Christian DIR thread must be limited to respectful questions. I will submissively defer to that format.

    In regards to Matthew 1 could the central purpose and theme of the genealogy be to focus our attention on the Eternal Covenant of God? Could the genealogies be more theological than historic? The genealogy begins with Abraham and ends with Jesus, with David and the Babylonian exile being the other landmarks. Therefore we consider the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants, the consequences for the Hebrew people of abandoning those Covenants culminating in the Babylonian exile along with the promise of a New Covenant (Daniel 9:23-27, Jeremiah 31:31). Could it be that Jesus came to fulfil the Old Covenant and bring the New Covenant (Matthew 5:17-18, Luke 22:20)?

    On the theme of fulfilment of the Old Covenant the virgin birth narrative appears to have been written with regard to Isaiah 7:14. The purity of Mary may contrast with the 4 women in Matthew's genealogy. Born of the Holy Spirit may have important associations with the 'Son of God' title that along with 'Son of man' and 'Son of David'. Are they not messianic?

    Just a few preliminary reflections for my Christian brothers to consider as being consistent with Christian theology or not.:)
     
  10. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Thanks for that, and I'll respond only in terms of giving my personal take on what you ask here, not the Church's.

    Yes, and I believe that's the most likely scenario. The line of David had been lost during and after the Babylonian Exile, so no one could prove or disprove any connection Jesus may have had. However, it might have been carried forth as a family belief.
    IMO, no. Instead, I see the "New Covenant" as being supplemental, which the Church pretty much now accepts as well as it considers the "Old Covenant" as also being valid.
    Yes, but "virgin" is actually a mistranslation as the Isaiah verse renders her as being a "young maiden" in Hebrew. It's one of the reasons why I believe that "virgin" was more likely assigned to Mary by the early Church to show her respect.
    "Son of Man" has long been viewed as being messianic but not "son of God" as Jews consider themselves to be sons (and daughters) of God..

    Thank you for your thoughtful questions.
     
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  11. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
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    1) Brickjectivity said : “One thing that troubles me about the gospel of Matthew is that it is the first book in order and has seemingly derogatory statements about some people who are called Pharisees, Jews, Sadducees and Priests but does not give any background on who they are.


    Hi Brickjectivity. I think that your point that the different Jewish parties and influences and their historical development are not well described. My current model is that in earlier stages in the development of the various Judaisms (e.g. Ezra) the Priests and scribes/"pharisees" were fairly undifferentiated whereas in the later periods (e.g. post exile) they differentiated. For example, once the Maccabean revolt started, the Pharisees and priests BOTH joined forces against the Romans but by John Hyrcanus, the priestly cast had to take upon themselves political duties of the government they created and thus took on more and more aristocratic functions and characteristics (They HAD to become somewhat political in order to engage in political concerns of their people) while the Pharisees continued to care about the religious Law and thus it’s interpretation and it’s fulfillment. Thus the Jewish Sadducees came to be characterized by social position while the Jewish Pharisees came to be characterized by their legal tendencies and their further “development” of the original law.

    The Pharisees came to declare not only the Torah to be binding, but, additionally, they declared the “oral laws” that had been developed by the scribes as binding upon the people. This position developed into the interpretation of “oral tradition” taking precidence over the actual “written law”. Thus Josephus described “The Pharisees have imposed upon the people many laws taken from the tradition of the fathers which are not written in the law of Moses.” This position became hardened such that Rabbi Eleasar of Modein wrote that “He who interprets the scripture in opposition to tradition has no part in the world to come.” (aboth 3:11). The text from Sanhedrin 11:3 similarly says that “It is more culpable to teach contrary to the precepts of the scribes, than to the Torah itself.” In contrast, the Sadducees characteristically acknowledged only written Torah as binding while tending to reject the vast amount of traditionary interpretation and enlargening mass of “new” “oral” laws that were developed by the Scribes.

    For example, the 39 different types of work that were actually prohibited (or alluded to) in the Pentateuch were turned into hundreds and hundreds of prohibitions by further elaborations into meanings and ranges of work and types. Many of these prohibitions were weighed by legalism and law but did not pay attention to mercy. For example, Erubin 10:13-14 prohibits attending to a fracture of a limb on the sabbath though one could pour water on a sprain. Even then, the washing of hands and correct manner of pouring of water were dictated by minute laws. The moral and religious and ethical life was taken over by regulations and a jurisprudence that supplanted the original written gospel.

    So, IF one decides that the historical beginnings of Pharisaism is related to the observance of the written Law of Moses ONLY, then this tendency was always present throughout Israel to some extent. If one defines the origin of the pharisee to the time when they became an ecclesia and separate group (φαρισαιοι means “the separated” in it’s basis) within Israel, and adopted a firm position on the later ORAL laws created by the elaborations and interpretations by scribes, then their origin is probably within the Maccabean revolt era.


    2) Hi Metis

    I wish you good luck in your project of Matthew. I don’t know if you would like contributions or not. I had thought about doing this same thing as you are doing as I re-read the critical Greek New Testament and thought I would add a point.

    Critics of the English text will point out that Matthew 1:18 says that “…Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the holy Spirit;…” Thus this word order sounds like the holy spirit fathered Jesus. However, I might point out that in Greek the word order is NOT the same nor does it need to be the same as in English. Thus the sentence in Greek is just as easily translated as “….Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found of the Holy Spirit to be with child.”. This word order will mean that it was by the Holy Spirit (i.e. by revelation) that Mary was found to be pregnant (and no implication of who the Father was is implied).

    Versions differ significantly. For example, In verse 21, the English reads “you shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.” Whereas the Syriac of 3rd or 4th century reads “…you shall call his name Jesus for he will save the world from their sins.”.

    At any rate, I hope your study is well read and you enjoy doing it. Good luck Metis and KenS.


    Clear
    δρσiφυω
     
    #31 Clear, Oct 13, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
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  12. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Hi Clear, and thank you so much for the above contribution and also your more than kind words. It's interesting what you mention by the Greek texts, and I'm going to try and see what else I might be able to find on this.

    One thing I've long been aware of, especially since my wife's from Italy, is that, when you go from one language to another, problems can often result, and Greek is at least somewhat more similar to Italian than it is to English.

    Anyhow, thanks for your contribution here and I'll be updating this thread on Thursday.
     
  13. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Interesting point. There are questions which naturally arise when attempting to do what the Mosaic laws say to do. It seems natural to invest the discussion and the determination of these things to judges or specialists, much like lawyers today. I think its fair to ask how one becomes a competent judge in such a situation? The Torah orders that judges must be fair, but how is fairness achieved? The story says that wisdom was given to the 12 elders. If it were me I'd feel bound to consult their decisions. In addition one of the 10 commandments is to honor father and mother, but in Judaism this probably refers to all your fathers and all your mothers. In that case you have to honor they way they have done things. Out of this its not hard for me to imagine why a Pharisee might get the idea that tradition is binding.
     
  14. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    The authorization for these judges goes all the way back to Moses whereas his duties were too time consuming, plus his age probably was catching up to him, that he was told by God to appoint judges. These judges presided over various aspects of Judaism, including the application of the Law that also included the Oral Law. Someone had to make these decisions, plus we have to remember that the Torah was only in the process of being written and was not yet a finished product nor canonized.

    However, one should not assume that because these laws were so minute at times that Judaism somehow lost sight of the "big picture" as the Pharisees actually were generally highly respected for their moral behavior. Jesus' animosity wasn't for them but for those who operated hypocritically, many of them being leaders.

    One has to remember that Jesus operated out of a Pharisee paradigm, so what we see at play in the gospels is essentially a "family feud" of sorts, with Jesus and his followers more representing a very liberal wing, which had issues with the mainline Pharisees that operated also out of the Oral Law and the "building a fence around the Torah" ("laws made by men").
     
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  15. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Chapter Two Overview for @KenS and others:

    Jesus born in Bethlehem.

    Herod seeks him out for elimination.

    Magi (probably gentiles) follow star to find Jesus and they bring gifts.

    Holy Family flees to Egypt while Herod has the "Holy Innocents" killed.

    Angel tells Joseph that they can return to Israel because Herod's dead.

    Holy Family goes to and settles in Nazareth instead of Bethlehem whereas it says "He shall be called a Nazarene".
     
  16. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    My Take

    OK, my skepticism is now going to come out in spades (anyone going to outbid me by saying "no trump"-- notice the "t" is not capitalized).

    What I see with this chapter is much more subjective than objective as there's an attempt to link Jesus with David's lineage and also drawing parallels with him and Joseph and Moses. I don't have a problem with this on a subjective basis but I'm far less enthusiastic to take these narratives on an objective basis, although I'm not so far as to say it could absolutely not be objective.

    The issue with Herod and his persecution of the innocents parallels the Exodus narrative of persecution under the Pharaoh, so I'm inclined to see this as being more symbolic that objective. The same is true with the story of Jesus being born in Bethlehem to connect him with David, which numerous theologians at least somewhat doubt as being objectively correct.

    We can also note that it is only Matthew that has the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt as it doesn't show up in any other gospel or any of the epistles, so I have to wonder if this is to make a symbolic connection to Joseph with additional parallels to Moses? With the latter, Moses saved his people by being their earthly leader and helping them escape slavery, whereas Jesus leads his people to spiritual salvation for those who accept him and his teachings.

    Finally, the town of "Nazareth" didn't go by that name back in Jesus' time, so how can this be explained since it shows up in Matthew? One thought is that as the gospels got copied over the years that the original name (whatever it was) got changed to its new name ("Nazareth") sometime after the 2nd century (oldest historical reference to "Nazareth" is in the 3rd century) so as people, and those who came later, could recognize what town was being referred to.

    Also, it is possible that Jesus may have been a "nazir" (spelled different ways), who were single men who dedicated themselves to the study of Torah and who often spent much time in wilderness areas for purposes of prayer and meditation, subsisting on the land and donations, not cutting their hair and abstaining from sex and alcohol. Most, but not all, of these men would leave that position after a while and get married, but because of their knowledge and their commitment to Torah they tended to be highly admired.

    Was John the Baptist a nazir? Jesus? I don't know, but I do have to allow for that possibility.

    Anyhow, what are your impressions on this chapter and/or my comments? Please be nice as I bruise easily.
     
  17. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Matthew chapter 2 has a quotation from Micah 5:2, which should not be taken in isolation but seen as an allusion to that section of Micah. This section is about the end of war, setting the stage for Jesus beautitudes later in Matthew chapter 5. Matthew mentions Egypt for this reason: Egypt is the land of the gods of war. "Out of Egypt I called my son" is a revelation of the meaning of Moses name which literally translates as "Drawn out." Drawn out of what? Out of the Nile, but Egypt is known throughout the world as the Gift of the Nile. Thus this passage in Matthew requires an understanding of culture and History, not just of Judaism but of that which Judaism has rejected: war. In the Beautitudes in chapter 5 of Matthew Jesus says "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." In this way Matthew lets us know what he is getting at, that we all are called out of Egypt along with Jesus. Just as Jews have left Egypt with Moses, Christians leave Egypt here in the 2nd chapter of Matthew, all of those who are in Christ. This message of peace is not just something I have decided to highlight but is central, and if you look at another gospel, Mark, chapter verse 14 tells you what the angels proclaim about Jesus is: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." There is also a parallel to the promises given to Noah in Genesis, Noah who also was drawn out by means of an ark. What was Noah drawn out of? He is drawn out of war and violence as well as out of the flood. Matthew is alluding to peace and about thereby becoming a child of God. Matthew alludes to all of the symbols of peace, all of the passages about peace. Thus he refers also to the maid who has a child, because this is also a passage about peace. It is not really meant to make you focus upon the miracle of a virgin giving birth though that is part of Matthew's account, and you can see by looking up the relevant passage in Isaiah that the girl in Isaiah is impregnated by a prophet and (I think unless I am thinking about a different passage) they are observed by witnesses. Thus the Virgin Mary giving birth is an allusion to the promise of peace, and all of this is about peace.
     
  18. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Yes, we went through that, but I gotta go, so I'll return to your post tomorrow. Thanks for your input in advance.
     
  19. KenS

    KenS Well-Known Member

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    Some people have the understanding that the Magi were decedents of those instructed by Daniel. But it is an opinion as there are so many other viewpoints. However, apparently the stars, or heavens, declare the glory of God!

    Herod, indeed, was a wicked man having even killed several of his wives and his father-in-law. Many say "why wasn't it recorded" however, this wasn't a metropolitan area nor was this outside of his demeanor.

    Many have the wise men coming to the birth of Jesus, but Herod killed children 2 years and under which suggests it was later; they were now in a house (intimated); and it says "child" which gives the understanding of older than a child.

    Many "that it might be fulfilled". As it is understood that even if, as some purport, that many are made up are forced to conform, just eight is enough to validate the fulfilling of prophecy as just eight fulfilled has the odds at 1 in 100,000,000, 000,000,000. https://christiananswers.net/q-aiia/jesus-odds.html

    I remember when my son as a child was looking outside our back window and said "DAD, look there is an angel there". I couldn't see it and asked where. He pointed and said "right there!", pointing to the back corner. I believe him. :)
     
  20. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Ah, I finally got around to reading the above, which I think is quite insightful, so let me just say that Jesus being a man of peace is in part what he was about, although it does beg the question to what extent is that to be taken? IOW, was Jesus absolute about that in terms of complete non-violence? I'm not sure because that would negate defending the innocent even if force is necessary to accomplish that as is mandated by Torah. Your thoughts?
     
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