Friday, January 7, 2022

Indispensable Jewish Roots

For most of my adult life I was blessed to be under the teaching of Pastor Bill VandenBosch.  He was well known for delivering sermons which emphasized the importance of Jesus' Jewish roots.  In fact to this day Pastor Bill and his Beloved Lyn still lead trips to the Holy Land to immerse followers of Jesus in this reality.  My beloved and I actually hope to accompany them on such a journey this March.

Having been away from Pastor Bill’s teaching for a while (he retired several years ago to focus on pilgrimages) I had almost forgotten how important the Jewishness of Jesus really is.  It took a hit TV series about Jesus to bring this back to front and center for me.  The series is called The Chosen and exhibits among other fine qualities painstaking attention to the details of what it may have been like to think, believe, suffer and live as a first century Jew in Roman occupied Palestine.

The show is genius and authentic on many levels, but perhaps what I love the most is how it often flashes back to key moments in Israel’s history to set the context for the particular moment of Jesus’ life story being related in an episode.  The writers really do their homework and get so many things right and that is partly due to their insistence to call on expert teachers and theologians for help.  One of them is a Messianic Jewish Rabbi and it seems like his insights are often implemented.  Oh yeah, and since the show is crowd funded, it means that it is free to anyone who wants to watch it.  Just download the app (Google or Apple) watch it on your phone or tablet or throw it up on your TV screen.  Don't worry, if all that is just mumbo jumbo to you, you can still just buy the DVD's or Blu Ray discs.

All that being said, it wasn’t until quite recently that I really started digging into the Jewishness of my faith.  In a way it was incidental because it was as I was studying for a course in Theology of the Body that I'll be attending later this month online when I was completely immersed in a clear and Biblical study on ancient Judaism.  We were encouraged to read a book called “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary” by Dr. Brant Pitre.  It was so excellent that I immediately bought one of his other studies called “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of The Eucharist”.

Upon completing my first listen of both books on Audible, I am now convinced that a knowledge of ancient Judaism is almost indispensable to a proper understanding of Jesus' life and words.  Without that backdrop, I can easily misunderstand key elements in Jesus' teaching and completely miss points which would have been obvious to any 1st century Jew.

Suffice it to say, I’ve found both of these works to be extremely valuable.  So much so that I'm open to suggestions for my next Dr. Pitre book to ponder and digest.  Please drop me a line if you are particularly fond of any of his other works.   

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