Jul 22, 2011
As many of you know, Vine of David (a division of FFOZ) has been working diligently on an English translation of Franz Delitzsch’s Hebrew translation of the Gospels for the past few years. It is officially called the Delitzsch Hebrew-English (DHE) translation. As of yesterday, it has been released and is available for pre-ordering.
Why is such a work important? Because it attempts to place Jesus and his apostles back into their proper place among Jewish history and spirituality. It is an attempt to reconnect Jesus and his message with his people. It is an attempt to bring the reader into the Jewish world of Jesus. While David Stern’s The Complete Jewish Bible attempts the same, it only works to bring the non-Jewish reader into the Jewish text. The DHE takes it another step by trying to connect Jewish people with their Messiah. This has been done through presenting the full text of the Gospels in a parallel Hebrew translation, along with traditional blessings for the studying of the Holy Text, all in an elegant presentation as you would expect from publishers such as Artscroll. This text hopes to help Jewish readers see Jesus and his Jewish message as part of Judaism, rather than an outside voice from a separate religion.
Delitzsch & His Translation
Franz Delitzsch (1813–March 4, 1890) was a German Lutheran theologian born in Leipzig, Germany who grew into a unique man of God. Widely known and respected as a “Christian Hebraist,” he was a pioneer in the area of Jewish studies in the New Testament and in the development of the Hebrew language. Delitzsch was a prolific writer, translator, and biblical commentator. His greatest and most enduring work is his New Testament translation into Hebrew. At his eulogy, Delitzsch was memorialized with the following words: “Indeed, not only in the Christian, but also in the Jewish world the name of Delitzsch has shone. For he was at home in the literature of the Rabbis as none other among the living, and perhaps as none before him. We may say the truest friend of Israel is dead. A great man has fallen in Israel.”
Delitzsch’s work is important, because of his “extensive knowledge of mishnaic Hebrew and first century Judaism… [which created] a translation and reconstruction of the Greek text back into an original Hebrew voice.” It is reported that the famed Dr. David Flusser, a devout Orthodox Jew and renowned New Testament scholar of Hebrew University, said that the Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament was the best translation of the New Testament extant in any language.
Much support is needed for this project. It is going to take people like yourself to purchase the DHE and share it with others. You can do that on a personal level, or at a larger level. Vine of David is also publishing a Levy Hirsch Memorial Edition, which will is available solely for the purpose of distributing to Jewish people who do not yet know their Messiah. Vine of David will be taking donations to dedicate a specific number of these editions toward distribution among Jewish people.
If you would like to a part of this momentous event, then support Vine of David and order your copy now.
Jan 31, 2011
Beth Alpha synagogue mosaic
Many people have disparaged Judaism as being filled with paganism, particularly orthodox Judaism’s rabbinic leadership. Some even claim that it is satanic at the root (G-d forbid). Many people have had similar remarks about Christianity, especially when they discover Messianic Judaism and discover all that Christianity has forgotten over the last two thousand years in relationship to it Jewish origins. Everything is then questioned, and its origins suspect. For instance: What is the origin of the Christmas tree? Was it originally an asheroth pole? What about the Easter bunny, and the name “Easter” itself? Are they connected to Ishtar, the pagan goddess of fertility? Was the star of David originally a magical symbol used by the pagans? Questions such as these continue to pound away at both Judaism and Christianity.
Biblical Archaeology Review recently published an article examining pagan symbols in Jewish worship, specifically looking at the various synagogues unearthed in Israel which portray zodiac symbolism in their floor mosaics. The most famous is the Beth Alpha synagogue, which sports a very large floor mosaic (28×14 meters, roughly 90×30 feet) whose central panel shows the complete zodiac. It is described as follows:
Figures of four women were at the four corners, with inscriptions (in Hebrew) identifying each as a season of the year. Inside the square was a wheel, 3.12 meters in diameter, with a smaller circle (1.2 m) in its center. The wheel was divided into 12 panels, each with a figure and a name identifying it as a sign of the zodiac. And in the center, a man was pictured driving a quadriga (four-horse chariot) through the moon and stars. Rays of the sun were coming out of his head; it was clear that he was Helios, god of the sun.
This article continues to describe in detail several such synagogues found in Israel with this type of imagery. Although there is still some mystery surrounding the use of these symbols (particularly in a house specifically designed for study & worship), I feel the author’s explanation of them plausible.
This brings a lot of questions to mind (for which I do not have the answers). When and how were pagan symbols introduced into Judaism and Christianity? What do we “accept” and what do we “reject”? Where do we draw the line? How far is too far? Are there such things as coincidence? What are the “majors” and what are the “minors” in all of this? If others believers continue to unknowingly incorporate pagan symbolism in their sincere worship, what is our responsibility? These are a lot of difficult questions. Fortunately, someone has done a lot of homework on the subject.
First Fruits of Zion has recently published a 4-disc audio teaching on this very subject. It’s called “What About Paganism?” Toby Janicki tackles this subject and brings in a ton of information relating to both Christian and Jewish practice which may or may not be pagan in origin and gives suggestions as to our response. This is a good starting point to get some honest discussion on the table in regard to this topic, rather than living on our assumptions. It is based on historical evidences and the teachings of Yeshua. When we abide in the teachings of our Master, Yeshua, we will “know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Oct 4, 2010
Last night I had a wonderful opportunity to speak to a church in Little Rock. It’s a new home-style church, filled with a young, diverse, and forward-thinking individuals and families bent on making a difference in central Arkansas. The pastor is a friend and former employee of mine who has been around me long enough to know that understanding the Jewish Jesus is not just a hobby of mine, but a passion.
About a month ago, they started a three-month study on Jesus. They began the first week looking at the incarnation. The second week they discussed the social and political climate around the first century, setting the stage for the coming of Jesus. The third week they looked at God’s interaction with man throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (the Garden, Abraham, Sinai, etc.). They asked me to speak on week #4 regarding the Jewishness of Jesus, and how that should affect the life of every Believer. I think it took me 0.02 seconds to agree. :-)
So… last night was the big night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They gave me total freedom and I held no punches. There was good interaction and there seemed to be positive response. In a nutshell this is what I shared:
When asked who Jesus was, people mostly speak in terms of his divinity. However, this misses the mark completely to be able to look at his earthly mission, and blinds us as to our relationship of discipleship with our rabbi.
I spoke of his Jewish genealogy and his parents’ Torah observance as evidenced through the Gospels. I also brought up his speaking Hebrew (and Aramaic & possibly Greek) to illustrate why we often miss his Hebraic message when it is disguised in Greek.
I related how his original Hebrew name (& Aramaic counterpart) actually had meaning (unlike the transliterated “Jesus”) and pointed to his mission.
I spoke about how the Gospels really don’t give us much information as to his education, but yet it does give us a clue. When Jesus was in discussion with the sages at the ripe old age of 12, we can know within a reasonable amount of certainty that his educational path was somewhat similar to that laid down in the Mishnah (Avot 5:25) for Jewish boys. I emphasized that his Bible was the Tanach, and that his worldview was through the lens of Torah.
I emphasized that his life was a life of prayer and study, and it included spending Sabbaths in the synagogues and the Holy Days in the Temple. His worship included obedience to the Torah, and it was evident in every area of his life, including the way he dressed.
I focused on his Kingdom message (and breaking it down) and why it was so important for us to understand this as believers. I also spoke on how he was constantly upholding the Torah, pointing people back to the Torah, properly interpreting Torah and returning the foundation of the commandments to love.
My summary statement was as follows:
Jesus was not a token Jew, or a Jew by default. He was THE Jew who loved the Torah of his Father and lived it out perfectly through the power of the Holy Spirit (rather than his divinity), modeling a life of righteous for his people.
Thanks, Eikon, for the opportunity.
May 11, 2010
May 23 • 2:30pm • Conway, AR
Learn the words of Jesus from a Messianic Jewish perspective. “A Jewish Sermon on the Mount: Exploring the Core Teachings of Jesus from a Hebraic Perspective” introduces the Hebrew idioms, Jewish contexts, and rabbinic methods at work in Jesus’ most famous sermon. Jewish Sermon on the Mount provides a brief introduction to Matthew 5–7 using a new, Hebrew-based translation of the New Testament that allows English readers to see the Hebraisms of the Master’s teaching and the richness of the Hebrew words.
Enjoy a challenging and inspiring look at Jesus’ teachings and the transformative message of the Sermon on the Mount.
- See Jewish parallels to Gospel texts and find out why Bible scholars believe the parallels are important for greater understanding.
- Discover Hebrew words that are impossible to translate into English and how translators deal with these difficult words. See the words—understand the concepts they represent and expand your understanding of the Bible.
- Hear the compelling story and see the New Testament translation of Franz Delitzsch, a nineteenth century Christian Bible-translator considered one the greatest lights of Messiah to the Jewish people.
Learn and see what was so distinctive to Jesus’ teaching in this passage that produced such a response, “the crowd was amazed at his teaching, for he was teaching them as a man of authority, and not like the soferim” (Matthew 7:28–29).
The Hebrew/English Sermon on the Mount
There will be three teachings in a course of 2.5 hours. There will be breaks and time for questions. Everyone attending will receive an extract of Matthew 5–7 from the new Hebrew/English Gospel edition scheduled for release in the fall of 2010. Attendance is free—there will be a donation box on a table for all those that desire to help with the related expense.
Jeff Croswell or Darren Huckey
Faulkner County Library
1900 Tyler Street
Conway, AR 72032
Download the PDF to distribute or post on your site.
Apr 6, 2009
I was privileged to speak at a small, Pentecostal church in Oklahoma over the weekend. I was given total freedom as to the teaching topic and three speaking sessions (two on Shabbat and their Sunday morning service). My topic was “Becoming and Making Disciples of Jesus.” I spoke on the necessity of making disciples, rather than converts and emphasized the importance of knowing our rabbi. I introduced them to this person in the illustration, using it as a springboard for looking into the Jewishness of our Master and his teachings. It was a really good weekend, filled with positive feedback and interaction. The members of this church were warm, loving and accepting and hungry for the Word of G-d. Please pray for our brothers and sisters who have just been exposed to this life-long journey of rediscovering our master.