Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This Expert Helped Me Understand the Gospel of Matthew Better.

Trying to answer how the Torah informed Matthew's teachings of Jesus, this video seemed to help explain Judaism and what members are taught and expected to teach themselves. I hope you enjoy Dr. Fishbane's insights.


Please have your pet spayed or neutered. The overflowing shelters will thank you.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Linda Kozlowski's is now a contributor.

Linda Kozlowski is a third year seminarian who will be graduating in May. As a fellow United Church of Christ (UCC) member, we see the world in similar ways. She has become a good friend and colleague since I started attending Seminary. She often adds, thought provoking posts, after her morning contemplative time to her Facebook profile. With her permission, she has agreed to allow me to share them with you. If you like what you read feel free to add a comment to this page.
Blessings and Peace

Please have your pet spayed or neutered. The overflowing shelters will thank you.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gospel of Mark possible Ending at 15:39 Just a Theory

Mark: Short Essay

Can those who flee in fright experience resurrection?

I am claiming the entire sixteenth chapter of Mark was not original. I based my findings reading Albert Schweitzer’s book, The Quest of The Historical Jesus, and the final sentences of books in the Old Testament, which seem much more like Mark 15: 39 in structure than 16: 8.
 As a very recent owner of Albert Schweitzer’s book The Quest of The Historical Jesus which was discussed in class on 19 February 2014. Chapter Ten: The Marcan Hypothesis Schweitzer’s review of work written by, Christian Hermann Weisse’s, “Gospel History” has changed my impression of Mark. Is it possible the “Jews” started a rumor that the body of Jesus was stolen to “counteract Christian belief”? (Schweitzer 130) In Introducing the New Testament a Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey, Mark Allan Powell creates a box 1.3 on page 21 attributing Sadducees as not believing in resurrection to a life beyond death. Furthermore, the Sadducees were described as upper class and the power base in Jerusalem. Under this precept Mark might have wanted to make the conclusion even sooner than 16: 8. Mark 15: 39 shares similar traits with other final sentences of Old Testament books:
Genesis: And Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Exodus: For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud[f] by night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel at each stage of their journey.
Deuteronomy: and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
2 Chronicles:  23 “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up.”
2 Samuel: David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being. So the Lord answered his supplication for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.
2 Kings 25: 29-30  So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes. Every day of his life he dined regularly in the king’s presence.30 For his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, a portion every day, as long as he lived.
Jeremiah 52: 33-34 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes, and every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table. 34 For his allowance, a regular daily allowance was given him by the king of Babylon, as long as he lived, up to the day of his death
Mark: at 16:8  So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Mark: 15: 39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he[j] breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
Mark 15: 40-47 40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
The Burial of Jesus
42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45 When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then Joseph[l] bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body,[m] wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body[n] was laid.

(www.biblegateway.com) NRSV
The style of Mark 15 40-47 seems to follow a completely different audience expectation. By explaining the day before the Sabbath and the rules about Sabbath it seems incongruent with, Mark 15: 1-39. Mark 16:8 does not match the other final sentences. Since it was the first Gospel I am claiming it would have been made to seem the most like the Old Testament, which was already out there, in my opinion. Powell touches on this on page 47 stating the Gospels were read along with the writings of the prophets. Page 83 in Powell devotes an entire paragraph to show how the Gospels were all influenced by Jewish literature.
Mark 16:8 does not mention the primary character, Jesus, as the others listed above do. The story feels incongruent with Mark’s other chapters as though it was struggling to make a connection. Since Jesus, so far as I could determine, did not speak of the Kingdom of God in public except in Galilee 1: 15 it seems very unlikely, Joseph of Arimathea, would have been conceptually waiting expectantly for the Kingdom of God Mark 15: 43 NRSV. He likely would have been waiting to go the way of his people as mentioned in many Old Testament passages. This is why chapter 16 feels forced to me. And if he was at deaths door how could “he then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.” I think Weisse had it right, the concept of resurrection was a counterpunch to the claim that Jesus’ body was stolen. By showing many ways John, the fourth Gospel, exaggerated and used stories not in evidence.
I do plan further investigation of this claim with additional sources of a more modern writing. So far as the end of Mark relating to the rest of the Gospel, the 15: 39 ending, follows the brief concise account of Mark’s style.
Work Cited
Berry, George Ricker, James Strong, and James Strong. Interlinear Greek-English New Testament: Numerically Coded to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance with a Greek-English Lexicon and New Testament Synonyms. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981. Print.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%201&version=NRSV  Visited 1 March 2014. Web Site.
Powell, Mark Allan. Introducing the New Testament A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey. Grand Rapids: Baker Group, 2009. Print.
Schweitzer, Albert. "10." The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2005. N. pag. Print.

Please have your pet spayed or neutered. The overflowing shelters will thank you.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How Isaiah 7 Fits into Isaiah as a whole

Collins’ claim is, “The more likely candidate is the wife of the king. The name Immanuel, “God is with us,” is an allusion to the royal ideology;…” (Collins p.313). He goes on to offer Psalm 46:7: the Lord of hosts is with us” also 2 Sam 7:9; 1 Kings 1:37; 11:38; Ps 89:21, 24. Collins goes on to back up his claim stating “there is no reason to think Isaiah was predicting a miraculous birth.” He goes on to say the birth was a sign of hope for the future of the Davidic dynasty. It cited medieval Jewish interpreters, which argued, for the sign to be meaningful it would have needed to happen, in Ahaz’s time and not 700 years later.

Isaiah seven serves as a pivot point in the way the book has been unfolding up to then. Chapters 1-6 have read like the opening statement of a criminal trial. There has been several occasions presented, demonstrating to many ways the people of Judah have broken the Lord’s commands; then followed, almost in sequence, by the results of their actions, and the punishments to be levied upon them and then chapter seven is post trial if you pardon the metaphor. There is a gulf between the holy and the unholy. The bridge over this gulf is children. This is my claim; all of the shaving of heads and feet is to make them humble, like a child. The children, only old enough to eat curds and honey, will be left with the power to rule over the nation once it is reconstructed from ruin. 

Immanuel, in chapter seven, is the fulcrum, where the foci shift from the wrongs of the past to the future after the exile. Immanuel is the specific bridge needed to assure a holy line from the Davidic house will continue. Immanuel is the reason for chapter seven. He is the element of the story who can withstand the scrutiny of prior wrongs in chapters 1-6 and have the proper lineage to continue the promise from Genesis. Chapter seven seems to be a different writer than chapters 1-6. The tone is different as if it was inserted after the exile to leave a hopeful not to future generations. I noticed verse three does not say Thus says the Lord: but rather “Then the Lord says to Isaiah,” in third person. “The conduit in the upper pool” phrase was used again in chapter 36: 2, which Collins points out was not likely written by Isaiah either. 

There are many more similarities throughout Isaiah. I shall enjoy digging deeper into the root systems linking this all together.

Please have your pet spayed or neutered. The overflowing shelters will thank you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shanghai Tower 650 Meters WOW

Please have your pet spayed or neutered. The overflowing shelters will thank you.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

LTS Gender equality in Biblical interpretation- Micah

Today January 30th 2014, was Lancaster Theological Seminary’s 188th year and, in my opinion, unlike children whose birthdays get less important with time LTS has acquired a large body of work. In almost 200 years each year is flavored with the rich history supporting the present and marking the way for future members of this community to strive further yet. Written on the pages of this work are words carefully arranged by experts whose pen strokes command respect and set trends in their respective fields. Today was a day like so many, where a professor took to the high pulpit and showed why she is an expert. As a seminarian, blessed to be one of 174 enrolled, it was a regular day. For most people just getting an author to sign their book would be amazing. I walked up to Dr. Julia M. O’Brien after the convocation as she removing her academic regalia, she said, “Hi Rich.” She knew me and took time answer my question about her lecture. This was an amazing day for anyone in attendance.

 In the convocation leading up to her lecture: Doing Justice with (and to) Micah: The Gendered Body Confronts the Prophetic Imagination, tears were flowing as Dr. Frank Stalfa was fondly remembered with a traditional 25 year gift a chair bearing his name and the school stamp. Accepting the gift was his wife and daughter. Then Dr. Lytch gave the news of a friend of the seminary donating $100,000 in Dr. Stalfa’s name. The prayer offered by The Reverend Kendall Brown was moving and well received. After a warm introduction by Dean Mellott, Dr. O’Brien took her place in the pulpit. This was quite an opening act to follow and she delivered a great 20-25 minute lecture.

If I had to sum it up, Micah, is a cheerleader for social justice for some; and is best used as an ideal to keep change agents focused on what matters.

The ideas were broken into two sections. First, the part about Micah as a rallying cry but not for everyone and secondly, the gender equality aspect noting male property ownership, specified roles for men and women and purpose for their relationship, procreation.
Micah as a rallying cry was formed out of chapter 6:8:  
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

This formed the basis of her argument. She claimed the book was not written all at once and furthermore, the version of social justice will look much different depending on who you are and your life experiences. There were hard questions asked like can you golf for justice? Or are superheroes or lawyers who do social justice? And most importantly can Micah know the answer? Can Micah know the plight of a woman or other marginalized parties reading this text? She says, “No not really it’s complicated.” Since words like: fairness, justice, pardoning, clemency, and compassion sound all inclusive. The truth is women paid much higher wages in the period of exile and most times when these books were written. Men were seated among kings as the end of the Deuteronomistic History states in 2 Kings 25: 27-30 

27 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. 28 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon.29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 30 Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Kings%2025&version=NIV

Women were raped and made into slaves. I will include a scan of the supporting passages handed out. 
The majority of Micah was composed after the fact. Using that fact can allow people to take into account the mere mention of ravishing a woman (Hebrew for Rape). This account was so important it was added to the text. Adding it to this text is a big deal. The male dominated scribe class felt heat from other males who commissioned these writings and yet it is still here. After so many opportunities to blight it out from history it survived. Her point was that reading a former prophet such as Micah as just a book as if it were a blog post on CNN.com is incomplete and unfair to all who lived in that time.

My ministerial formation has been changed, for the better. The idea of reading a passage and not realizing there is tremendous power in that book is foolish. The people hearing it could be in such a bad place after a rape or sexual assault this could cause them to deny their own feelings. For example the entire 5th chapter of Proverbs is unkind to women. They are slick, hell bound, aimless, bitter, a two-edged sword, thoughtless, does not know, cruel, a thief (feast on your wealth) , wayward, a deer, breasts as though she had no brain, able to intoxicate that is poison in my opinion, undisciplined, and great folly. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+5&version=NIV  

I do not see women this way. And if I did it call my own character into question more than hers. 

Please have your pet spayed or neutered. The overflowing shelters will thank you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Most Important is the Pause After Hearing....I'm Pregnant

A large part of this post was inspired by the book Jacob the Baker when he wrote "It's the space between the notes that makes the music."- Noah benShea. An entire lifetime can be played out in the space of the pause after hearing the words I'm pregnant. In this instance poker faces fail most men, myself included. Our faces reflect all of the marketing and sitcom programming as our frame of reference if this is our first child. Ladies, what I am saying to you is this pause, while probably the most significant moment in your life, is impossible for anyone to get just right. I am asking you to simply wait 24 hours to reassess your partners true pause.

Why would I post about this? Perhaps, I have seen a series of TV shows playing up the crushing blow to an expectant mother using every bit of her intuition, reading his face. I submit this too is a false burden foisted upon women by the media. In truth, people need time to digest the reality of being a new parent. The thought process needs time to envision the housing, vehicle, income, pool of babysitters, name, color of room for the nursery, the potential date the kid might take to prom in 17 years and so on. There is a method to my madness.

I will be honest here like always. I was not a well adjusted seminarian at age 20 when I heard this news from my new wife. I was working part time at Sam's Club hardly able to pay the $325 rent much less other bills and I was scared. My reaction became a point of contention still to this day. In fact it might be my biggest regret. I reacted badly and for that I am sorry. Our women need us to be kind and loving here. There will be time to vent; that's why it takes nine months. Guys all I can say is smile until you can go in a private space and cry and call your support network and most importantly lift up prayers of thanksgiving to God for the gift given you. Ladies, try to be slow to judge and remember to pray too for the very best outcome. I believe in my heart guys want to make you proud ladies. Sometimes it just takes time. Amen

Please have your pet spayed or neutered. The overflowing shelters will thank you.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Please have your pet spayed or neutered. The overflowing shelters will thank you.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

This is such great humor. Hate is so last season!

Please have your pet spayed or neutered. The overflowing shelters will thank you.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Let Me Be Frank, my thoughts about Rev. Dr. Frank Stalfa

To be Frank is to be frank. Not in a cruel or judgmental way, but rather in an honest way. A way that might light up a keyhole in our minds that we were too scared to look for on our own.

Illumination of a fellow humans mind is one of the highest pursuits. While our own hands grasp onto the key; a key that only we can turn ourselves we are confident now to insert our key and even turn those mechanisms which had up till now bedeviled us. Our frank Counsel stood by lovingly holding us, and the light.

What discoveries await us just beyond the greatest threshold have now been made frank to Frank. The key he held for so long was indeed a perfect fit. The lock turned just as he prayed it would for all those years. Worries about the door jamming or the Angels misplacing his reservation made so many years ago were not even possible. Borrowing a thought from, Dr. Lee Barrett, AAA and Angels have perfect empathy at the heavenly check-in desk, The Adventurer is the hotel where frank Frank is staying for now.
While this world stands just out of the reach of that warm familiar smile and its missing wisdom dispenser God has performed yet another miraculous act. Our faith has allowed all of the previous wisdom seeds to sprout new shoots especially in those who now can be frank.

Being frankly, Frank, allows for a vast reserve of goodwill, a lifetime of good deeds, and the real wisdom of knowing when silence is the last greatest gift shared with this world. Your silence is not because you have no more to say. It is because God loves you enough to talk for you now. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear God: While I'm on my way home I shall be silent; My senses will be overwhelmed with beauty The sight of you shall surely consume me fully And the mysteries that our human art, words, and deeds fall short of expressing Will be made plain; While being bathed in your unending love.

 Please have your pet spayed or neutered. The overflowing shelters will thank you.