our father abraham

February 1, 2006

our father abrahamBased on the recommendation of several people, I recently finished Our Father Abraham, by Marvin Wilson. The subtitle is Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith, and that pretty much sums it up. Sadly, Christianity is commonly seen as a departure from the Jewish faith, rather than a fulfillment or continuation of it. Wilson does a good job of providing a healthy perspective of how followers of Jesus should frame ourselves within the story of Judaism.

There was much to digest from this book, but here are a few tidbits I thought were worth passing along, with a few of my own comments following in italics:

Pg 145 – “The nature of Hebrew is to paint verbal pictures with broad strokes of the brush. The Hebrew authors of Scripture were not so much interested in the fine details and harmonious pattern of what is painted as they were in the picture as a whole. Theirs was primarily a description of what the eyes see rather than what the mind speculates. In brief, the whole world is a mystery which the Hebrew neither comprehends nor thoroughly investigates.”

Pg 150 – “By contrast, the Hebrews often made use of block logic. That is, concepts were expressed in self-contained units or blocks of thought. These blocks did not necessarily fit together in any obviously rational or harmonious pattern, particularly when one block represented the human perspective on truth and the other represented the divine.” – It is very important to understand this. The Hebrew scriptures were never intended to be the scientific documents that the modern minds wants to read them as.

Pg 176 – “For the Hebrews, spirituality did not mean turning inward; true piety was not simply the private nourishing of the virtues of one’s soul. Rather it mean to be fully human, every fiber of one’s being alive, empowered in passionate and inspired service to God and humanity.” – I have an internal alarm that goes off every time I read the phrase ‘fully human.’

Pg 296 – “The word torah, commonly translated ‘law,’ derives from the verb yarah, ‘to cast, throw, shoot.’ The word yarah is frequently used for the ‘shooting’ of arrows (1 Sam. 20:36-37), and it’s plural participation form (morim) is translated ‘archers,’ literally ‘the ones who shoot’ (1 Sam 31:3). In time, yarah took on the extended meaning ‘to teach,’ as is attested in more than forty Old Testament passages.” – How cool is this? It gives me a picture of the role of teaching to be shooting your students as arrows in the proper direction.

Pg 298-9The concepts of bet midrash, bet sepher, and bet talmud, which Rob Bell and Ray VanderLaan have popularized among Christians in recent years, are introduced on these pages.

Pg 309 – “The Bible, however, teaches that study ought to be, above everything else, an act of worship, one of the highest ways by which a person can glorify God.”

Pg 330 – “In Jewish thinking, however, ‘not system but commentary is the legitimate form through which truth is approached.’ Because Christians have been overly anxious to systematize Jewish thought, they have left themselves open to misinterpreting the text.” – see comments above regarding pg 150

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