Thursday, July 2, 2015

Learning to Read the Bible the Way Jesus Did by Philip Jenkins

This is a helpful article on perspective, give it a read:


CarlHernz said...

Thank you for this link, Tim. It has done a lot for me to see this because it encourages me to realize I am not alone in what I see in Scripture as a Catholic of Sephardic ancestry.

There are many things I easily understand and comprehend differently because of my connection to the Jewish community when I read the New Testament. Unfortunately this has usually put me at odds with others. Except for this space where all of you have been kind enough to allow me to speak up, I usually get some negativity when I explain similar things in different circles. You might be surprised but because I’ve brought up such information I’ve been told by some to “go back to Israel” and “leave the Church and go back to the synagogue,” and even “I had you in my home once sitting among my family, and to think all this time you were a Jew! You should have told me before I let you in.”

But I have received nothing like that here. For this I thank all of you. Not all Catholics are Gentiles, and I am glad this fact bothers only a handful and not the majority.

I have often heard that without Jesus the Hebrew Scriptures remain misunderstood by the Jewish people. Yet as Matthew explains by quoting often obscure Hebrew texts fulfilled by Jesus that the Jews did not generally think applied to the Messiah, Jesus opens up a dimension to Scripture that was previously unseen. This is far more likely than stating that the Jews were just being stubborn in their rejection of Jesus or that the majority was ignorant of their own Scripture and teachings about the Messiah.

It does not follow as some suggest that Jews would accept Christ if they truly understood what was written in their own texts. Instead it was a greater insight of, an added dimension to, and an unseen veil that Jesus pulled away from Old Testament texts for those who accepted him as the Messiah. The Jews know their Scriptures that they composed very well, but instead of fulfilling a lot of general expectations that everyone knew the Messiah would bring to fruition, Jesus opened the minds of his followers to see things that aren't apparent on the surface in Scripture. (Luke 24.44-46; Acts 16.14; 1 John 5.20) I am very happy to hear that Christians of various traditions are coming to realize this today. We can thus learn from one another because we can admit with all validity that there are still very valuable gifts both Jews and Christians can both offer and share.

Pope Francis recently stated that Nostra Aetate “represents a definitive ‘yes’ to the Jewish roots of Christianity and an irrevocable ‘no’ to anti-Semitism.” He added: “Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh in the world; for Jews the Word of God is present above all in the Torah. Both faith traditions find their foundation in the One God, the God of the Covenant, who reveals himself through his Word. In seeking a right attitude towards God, Christians turn to Christ as the fount of new life, and Jews to the teaching of the Torah.” Understanding on both sides in line with this can only increase dialogue and hopefully ensure not only greater understanding of Scripture but reduce the tensions, suspicions, and hatred that still divide our world today.

Timothy said...


Your comments are always welcome here. I get emails from readers asking when Carl is going to make a comment or do a post. You are most appreciated around these parts!

Have you ever heard of Fr. David Neuhaus? He is a Jesuit priest who converted from Judaism. I was able to hear him during a scripture conference last year as well as chat with him a bit. Wonderful man he is, who also happens to do ministry for the Latin patriarch in the Holy Land. He has a Hebrew Catholic mission in Tel Aviv I think. He opened my eyes to a lot of what Jenkins noted in his article. It makes me think a lot about the Canonical order of the OT.

rolf said...

Carl, I am also enjoy your insights to scripture!

CarlHernz said...

Thank you, Rolf, and thanks again to everyone for the Christian love.

Yes, Tim, I know very well of Fr. Neuhaus. He is the Vicar for the Catholic group whose liturgical calendar I follow. Catholics of Hebrew descent can (and often due to family and cultural circumstances have to) observe Jewish festivals and holy days or at least make allowances for them. Since Catholicism comes first, balancing these days takes some ingenuity and help. So I am not only familiar with Fr. Neuhaus, I am very grateful to him for all he does even though we have never met.

Again I want to express my thanks to Tim and everyone who regularly reads this blog. This is an outlet of encouragement and learning for me unmatched by any other experience. I am so moved by the many articles and posts that demonstrate the great love for the Word of God and the Church of our Lord that is demonstrated here. It does so much for me personally, far more than I can express in words.

Anonymous said...


Having someone who's really know the ultimate roots of Christianity, the Judaic tradition. It is in fact very enlightening to have someone speak up from Jesus's earthly ancestry.

More importantly, as the Biblical Hebrew poses a very challenging one to Bible scholars and translators, having someone who has a grasp of Biblical Hebrew is a great asset to this blog.

Glad you found your home here.


Anonymous said...

However, Carl, I would like to open up a topic that is surely have significant value to you as a Hebrew Catholic.

There were rumors appearing recently that Pope Francis together with the Orthodox patriarchs (well, some of them) are open to fix a universal date of Easter.

As we all Christians know, ultimately the Christian Easter is tied to the Jewish Pascha (Passover). There are plans that Easter is to be fixed at a specific Sunday in the year, the most prominent of those is being the Second Sunday of April.

If it does happen, the Christian Easter will surely diverge from the Hebrew Pascha. Even nowadays, Pascha are at times occuring very far from Easter. I am well aware that we Christians had already departed slightly from Pascha during the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, where Easter was determined by an ecclesiastical lunar tracking, independent of the Hebrew calendar.

What are your opinion on this Carl, with the Easter might completely drift away from Hebrew Pascha?

CarlHernz said...

Fixing Easter, especially to a permanent date like Christmas, would be most welcome to me.

Because Catholic Easter is set to occur on the Sunday following Nisan 14, the date of Passover on the lunar Jewish calendar, that usually creates a busy and unique week for Catholics of Hebrew origin. On Holy Week you will find me observing the Triduum mixed in with Passover, then trying to fix Easter dishes with the particular food I have on hand after I have tossed out all leavening agents on the eve of Passover. It can be tough.

So by all means, fix the date to one place! Since the solar calendar and lunar rarely match, this will mean Hebrew Catholics will be able to observe both festivals fully most of the time. This will allow these Catholics to hold Seders for two nights with the rest of the Jewish world instead of one because most of the time the days of the Triduum often prevent the second Seder. It should allow for a non-kosher Easter too, which by the way is easier to cook and much more delightful to eat.

And last, this will allow many Gentile Catholics who have requested to observe a Seder to be able to do so with more ease. The USCCB and other bishop conferences around the world have set guidelines for Catholics who are interested in doing so, requesting that instead of attempting to hold one themselves to see if they can be invited to one held by Jewish families. This will make it easier since Passover will be less likely to coincide with Holy Week activities.

rolf said...

And an added benefit is that we Catholics can celebrate Easter every year with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. Currently having two different days for Easter shows the world that we Christians can't even agree among ourselves when to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. It would be one more step to some kind of unity.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! The reactions, I am quite surprised.
But for me, there is no problem with me fixing Easter. Liturgical planning had been very problematic because of moveable Easter.

This would also ease people of being confused on determining Easter, especially all the mathematical algorithms needed to do it.

However, rolf, do you advocate a single Moveable Easter, or a single Fixed Easter?

Anonymous said...

Whoa! The reactions, I am quite surprised.
But for me, there is no problem with me fixing Easter. Liturgical planning had been very problematic because of moveable Easter.

This would also ease people of being confused on determining Easter, especially all the mathematical algorithms needed to do it.

However, rolf, do you advocate a single Moveable Easter, or a single Fixed Easter?

Anonymous said...


Fixed Easter can be defended.

Had a brief experience on the Hebrew calendar in my teenage years. Postponement of a Rosh Hashanah, Long and Short years, Deficient, Complete and Excessive years. And that second Adar.

And following the account of Creation that darkness came first before light, Hebrews start their day on the Hebrew calendar actually at night.

If I am right, (correct me if I'm wrong at this Carl) the Sabbath actually spans from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon.

So it is just sound for Hebrews to track their festivities on a lunar calendar (moon) based on their recognition of a day which starts on a night.

While for the Christians, the civil and the religious day, for practical reasons is recognized as having occurred with the sunshine first. (Yes technically, it began at midnight, but most of us know a new day when the sun shines. Even the ancient Romans held 6am as the start of the day.)

And Christ resurrected and appeared to the disciples on a daylight. Remember, Jesus is light?

So it is just sound for us Christians to track our festivities on a solar calendar (sun).

CarlHernz said...


Not sure what your comments mean. I am FOR, not against a fixed Easter. I am not sure how you got a need to defend a fixed Easter from what I wrote. As I said I am definitely not against it for the convenience.

As for when a new days begins, the reason Jewish people count days from sundown to sundown is because we believe a day comes to an end when the sun sets and darkness falls. Most people naturally speak of the day as being over once night begins. The only difference is that in Jewish thinking if the previous day has ended at sunset, then naturally a new day has begun once the previous day has concluded. When one day ends another immediately takes its place. Morning is but a part of the calendar day, not its beginning which commenced when the previous one ended at sunset, at least for Jews. Sabbath, for instance begins approximately 18 minutes before visible sundown and ends not on Satuday afternoon but after sunset on Saturday, when at least two stars are visible in the sky.

I am not sure what that has to do with agreeing or disagreeing regarding a fixed Easter date.

And I don't mean to be picky, but Scripture claims Christ arose BEFORE sunrise, not after. The women who first saw Jesus went to the tomb at the first sign of dawn while it was still dark claiming that Jesus had risen prior to their arrival. (Compare John 20.1 with Matthew 28.1, Mark 16.2, and Luke 24.1) In union with this the Church celebrates Easter as beginning after sundown on Holy Saturday, not with the rising of the sun of Easter Sunday. Sunday morning's Mass on Easter is the 2nd, not first Mass of Easter, the first taking place the night before as a vigil.

And the reason for a lunar calendar over a solar one has nothing to do with Christ or the fact that days are marked as beginning at night. It is just easier to see when a month passes by reading the phases of the moon. A full moon is always about 14 to 15 days into its phase cycle, so,it is perfect for counting months when all you have to go by is what you can see with the naked eye. The solar calendar was adopted due to scientific advances in time keeping and because it is more accurate in determining a year over the monthly lunar system which needs adjustment far more frequently. Which calendar you use has to do with culture, science and preference however, not merely because one is Chrisitan or Jewish.

But you do provide a good illustration on light in reference to Christ which with a little tweaking could be an effective catechesis tool.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see that coming.

Oh well, for the sake of other readers here, I wish to clarify from you how a Hebrew Catholic practice his Faith.

Am I right to assume that as a Hebrew Catholic, you still hold to the Jewish tradition of the Old Testament, while maintaining to believe that the promised Messiah is Jesus.

I know this can be uncomfortable for you, but for the purpose of clearing things out. I am sure that some of the readers are particularly had a hard time understanding how it is to be a Hebrew Catholic.

CarlHernz said...

Not all Catholics of Jewish descent identify as Hebrew Catholics. The Hebrew Catholic movement is an apostolate of the Catholic Church, and those associated with it generally refer to themselves as being a "Hebrew Catholic." I am not associated with that apostolate. I am merely of Sephardic Jewish descent.

Catholics of Jewish ancestry practice the Roman Catholic faith no different than others of any other ethnicity, race, or nation. Each Catholic lives their faith in union with their cultural traditions connected with their people. The Church does not require abandoning one’s culture and assimilation into another upon becoming a Christian. Just like any Catholic who eats certain foods, wears certain clothing, and has certain holidays unique to their ethnic and cultural background, Catholics of Jewish ancestry or Hebrew Catholics do as well. The Catholic Church does not get involved in such personal things. As long as a person keeps their ethnic customary traditions in the light of Christ, generally all practices of all peoples are welcome.

This has not always been the case for Jews however, and the Catholic Church officially recognizes the error she has committed regarding this. Recently the Church has asked all Catholics to learn about the Jewish roots of the Church, and for Jewish Christians this has often meant taking a new look at their cultural background and perhaps even renewing their interest in some Jewish cultural earmarks.

As for me personally, I am a descendent of the Jews who were persecuted by the Catholic Church during the Spanish Inquisition. When you hear the Church officially apologize for the atrocities of the Inquisition, it is speaking directly to and of me. Of course the Church has changed its attitude towards the Jews since then, very much so. And though both history and the Church finds the persecution of my family members that resulted in their being expelled from Spain in 1492 more than merely regrettable, things are changing for me on the horizon.

As we speak, Spain is officially setting up a Law of Return for descendants of the Jews who were expelled in 1492. I am one of these. Receiving citizenship in Spain (in addition to my American citizenship) will also include being recognized as Jewish on several very official grounds, even without conversion to Judaism. I lost not only many direct family members in the Inquisition but in the Holocaust too, literally numbering in the millions, some of which the Catholic Church in Austria issued an official apology for its actions (and lack thereof) that contributed to their imprisonment, torture, and death.

As you might be able to imagine, learning the details of how my family members lived and died under these times of persecution by members of my own Church has tried me on many levels. The Church itself is sometimes at a loss of what to say or do too, but is being kind and most helpful to me nevertheless. Currently my personal journey of faith is developing in ways that would be hard to completely describe here, and mostly out of place on this blog which deals mainly with Catholic Bibles and their place in Catholic life. So I wish not to add anything that will take away with this nor create the impression that my personal faith is representative of any other’s who may be of Hebrew background.

What I’ve shared up till now has only been in the interest of the subject matter at hand. I encourage all Catholics to remain faithful to the Magisterium and their calling in Christ regardless of their station in life.

Despite any flux I am currently experiencing, I can only utter the words written by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in conclusion: “In the past, the break between the Jewish people and the Church of Christ Jesus could sometimes, in certain times and places, give the impression of being complete. In the light of the Scriptures, this should never have occurred. For a complete break between Church and Synagogue contradicts Sacred Scripture.”—The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible.

Anonymous said...

That was a very heartwarming confession, Carl. And I thank you for that. Now I had understood why you feel much dissent on some bashing comments on you on other forums as you said on your earlier posts. That must've been difficult one for you to deal with.

I just asked the question so that others may have a greater understanding of you.

I am much thankful for the confession. And now I'm very glad you found at home here. Feel free to always drop by here.