Friday, February 22, 2013

A study for the second Sunday in Lent

I Thessalonians 4:1-8 * Matthew 15:21-28
The will of God, St. Paul tells us in today’s Epistle, is your sanctification. He repeats this, saying it a second time this way: “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” The will of God is treated by many like a problem, like a mathematical problem so complex in nature that it requires endless work and a thousand chalk boards. Others treat the will of God as a matter that requires special revelation about their own futures, a kind of direction either from his very mouth, or by dreams and visions or by signs. Often this causes sincere Christians to be behave much too much like unbelievers who commit the sin of going to fortune tellers (strictly forbidden in scripture), being obsessed with answers about the future, and very much for selfish motives. Still others treat the will of God as a matter to be neglected by its very nature, a complete mystery not to be solved. This last category is not unlike the common misreading of the prophet Isaiah, where a famous passage is often taken to mean the very opposite of what it truly says:

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”1

In that text the prophet contrasts the ways and thoughts of the unrighteous and wicked against the ways and thoughts of God, too high for the wicked and unrighteous man to grasp. But, God’s ways and thoughts come down from heaven like the rain and snow, coming down in the revelation of his word. Therefore, the wicked and unrighteous man can repent, and can learn to renew his mind.2 The ways and thoughts of God that are revealed speak to the mind of man.   So said the prophet Moses to the whole people of Israel: “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”3 

It may be comforting to treat the will of God only as those secret things of Providence, hidden mysteries beyond human thought. Indeed, more of God’s wisdom remains hidden to human view than what is seen. But, the will of God does not belong exclusively in these categories: It is not a problem to work on endlessly, nor is it likely that most individuals will be guided in every decision of life by signs and dreams, nor is the will of God too lofty a subject for our consideration. For, as Moses and Isaiah spoke long ago, it is the task of the believer to pay heed to what God has, in fact, revealed. And why? As Moses said, to do what God has commanded, and as Isaiah said, to repent, to abandon all wicked ways and unrighteous thoughts, so to learn God’s ways and thoughts.

Therefore, in that light we repeat what St. Paul wrote: “This is the will of God, even your sanctification…For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” I want to quote two other passages by the Apostle that help clarify this even more. In the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans he addressed the Christians there as “all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.”4 He opened another Epistle in similar fashion: “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” Whatever else the will of God may mean in your own life, this is clear: You are called to be a saint. That is what is meant by the words: “For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”6

The word “holy” is related to the words “sanctify,” “sanctification,” “santos” and “saint.” Since the will of God is your sanctification, the will of God is your sainthood. Some people are sure that saints are not ordinary people at all, but special people like the comic book superheroes. They can leap tall buildings at a single bound: They came from Krypton, or were bitten by a radioactive spider. They have an advantage over regular people. Only a fool, they figure, thinks he can become a saint. Others, especially among Evangelicals, assume that Paul says that the Christians are all called saints because we have already arrived. But, the word “called” does not mean labeled, as in tagged and designated. A nominal sainthood, a merely titular sanctification, or even one somehow completely imputed by grace alone, is not his meaning. Rather, the word “called” appears, as in all those who are “called saints,” to speak of a calling. Whatever you do in life, all Christians have a common vocation to become saints. Some of us have been called to the ordained ministry, and others have been called to various ministries in the Church as laity. But, all of us who are baptized into Christ have been called to become saints.

Most of us began like the Gentile woman in today’s story.  That is, most of us were born as Gentiles, which means that in addition to being born in sin we were also, in the words of St. Paul, “in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” 7 I do not see how the human condition can get any worse this side of Hell. If you believe that Paul was rough on the Gentiles, remember that in today’s Gospel, the Lord, that is, Jesus the Lover of mankind, “all compassion, holy unbounded love” himself, referred to Gentiles by the flattering title, “the dogs.” We need to pay attention carefully in order to learn the point that Jesus was making, and to understand we must learn some Biblical theology. So, we proceed.

Father Abraham
The story of this Gentile woman is related very much to the Epistle today, for in it we heard, “that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God.” St. Paul makes the same distinction here that he made elsewhere when addressing converts to Christianity from among the Gentiles. “Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led,”8 he writes to the Corinthians.   In the passage I quoted earlier he began with the words, “remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles.” Note the past tense in these words. “You were Gentiles…In time past Gentiles.” What is he teaching these people, but that, as he goes on to say in the Epistle to the Ephesians, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ…Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” 9

Whatever ethnic pride you may have from whatever background, in Christ you are part of Israel. When my Celtic ancestors were painting themselves blue and offering human sacrifice, the Jews were worshiping the living God in his temple at Jerusalem. But, I do not say these things only to condemn anti-Semitism (though I do point out that to hate the Jews is to hate Jesus Christ, because it is a Jewish Man we worship as God the Son).  I say these things to make you aware of how your sanctification begins. In the Gospel today we do not see the woman become angry or offended. Why not? She was just called, along with all her people, a dog.           She came for help because of what her daughter needed, and here this Jewish holy man ignores her, and when pressed seems to respond with an insult. But, she continued to press for his help, and in her persistence faith took the form of humility. Indeed, as all the virtues are related and finally summed up in charity, this woman’s faith was expressed by humility in that she continued to plead for his help. “And she said. Truth Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.” At this point the Lord turns to face her, and in so doing reveals his will for all the nations of mankind whom he had come to save from sin and death.

The Amen of Abraham 
“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” This is why we need the Biblical theology I mentioned. What does faith, as mentioned by our Lord, indicate for us? Again, we turn to St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.10 In the fourth chapter of his Epistle to the Church in Rome, he builds on the meaning of a very significant part of the Book of Genesis. The Apostle made a very important point about the faith of Abraham. First, that faith was counted to him for righteousness.11 This was important to Paul, for in his conversion he learned that it is by faith that we receive salvation; that grace is something we cannot receive by the Law. The importance of this faith is the essence both of his Epistle to the Romans and his Epistle to the Galatians. Indeed, he tells the Ephesians, “For by grace are ye saved through faith.”12 Now, in the fourth chapter of Romans, as I mentioned, Paul develops this teaching about faith, and reminds us that at the time that Abraham’s faith was counted to him, or to Abram as he was still named (God would change his name later to Abraham), he was not yet circumcised. The meaning of this is that the same faith that was counted to Abram for righteousness is the faith that also is counted as righteousness to all those who were in time past called Gentiles.

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.”13

We are taught by Paul that the uncircumcised Abram, that is Abraham, is the father of all believers, even those who were Gentiles. When our Lord tells the woman that “great is her faith,” he welcomes her into the family of Abraham, which is the household of God. So too, he welcomes you.

“He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”14

And, what is the faith that Abraham had? Look at the actual revelation he received from God:

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This (i.e. his servant) shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”15

If we look at this in light of all that would follow, we can say that Abraham believed the Gospel. How so? Because the promises made to Abraham were about the land his people would have, and about his seed. Immediately, that promise about his seed makes us think of Isaac. But, once again it is Paul who takes it to its end: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”16 The history that unfolded takes us from Isaac the son of Abraham to Mary the Virgin, centuries later. In all its history, God would neither scatter Israel nor allow them to be lost in idolatry. He did not allow them to be destroyed like so many other nations who were taken captive by powerful kings, but he let them suffer when they needed to be purified. “Salvation is of the Jews,”17 said our Lord. So, the revelation given to Abraham was about more than simply the son that Sarah would bear.

The revelation given to Abraham was to unfold among the people of Israel in coming centuries, as it would be clarified by prophets, such as Jeremiah who told of the New Covenant that Christ spoke of, on the night in which he was betrayed, as the new Covenant in his own blood. It would be clarified by Isaiah who spoke of the Servant of the Lord, especially the Suffering Servant who would take away the sins of the whole world: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”18 The prophets foretold all, and so it came to pass. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,19 and he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil,20 until the day came that he was crucified as the one true sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. And the words of the prophets were fulfilled again when he rose the third day from the dead, that is, the third day before any corruption could begin.21

The faith that Abraham had was belief that what God had revealed is true. The word “believed” as it appears in the original in that verse, where we see that Abram believed, is a very interesting Hebrew word. You say that word quite often, usually at the end of prayers. People tell us it means, “so be it.” But, it really means, very simply, “true.” That word is “amen.” The word amen (אָמַן) is from the word emet (אֱמֶת) , which means truth. What is the faith of Abraham; that faith that makes you a child of God, and that you need in order to begin to become a saint?

The extent to which Abraham would see is a mystery to us, and it is only partly unfolded by what Jesus said. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.”22 We know this, however: Abraham believed the truth fully to the extent that God revealed it to him. We see, on this side of salvation history, that God has revealed to the Church the fullness of the Gospel. It is given to us to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.23 We have been given the revelation that Jesus Christ is God of God, light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made. We know that he is fully God and fully man, born of a Virgin. We know that he died to take away our sins and give us his righteousness, and rose to give us his own immortality. We were taught by the Risen Christ the true Name of God: “The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

We said the words of that great Creed of the Church, and we affirmed our belief in everything that God has revealed. Each of you said, “I believe.” In that Creed you spoke of the God who has called you to be holy as he is holy, and you have spoken of the great love he revealed in giving you salvation through his Son. You confessed your faith in the Son who is one with the Father as God, and one with us as a man begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. You said, “I believe” about his atoning death and victorious resurrection. You said “I believe in the Holy Ghost,” God in our very midst who gives grace and makes us holy as we participate in the life he offers. You are a child of Abraham, and when you said “Amen” it was the faith of Abraham. On this side of God’s revelation, you said the “Amen” of your father Abraham.

 1. Isaiah 55:7-11

2. Romans 12:1,2
3. Deuteronomy 29:29
4. Romans 1:7
5. I Corinthians 1:2
6. Leviticus 11:45
7. Ephesians 2: 12
8. I Corinthians 12:2
9. Ephesians 2:13, 19, 20
10. Not only does Paul use this as a personal title, but it is the clear meaning of the words spoken to him by Jesus Christ: “for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:16-18
11. Genesis 15:6
12. See Ephesians 2:8-12
13. Romans 4:11,12
14. Galatians 3:5-9
15. Genesis 15:4-6
16. Galatians 3:16
17. John 4:22
18. Isaiah 53:5,6
19. John 1:14
20. Acts 10:38
21. Psalm 16:10
22. John 8:56
23. Matthew 13:11


Anonymous said...

It is interesting to consider that by terminating the mark of circumcision as a necessary outward sign of righteousness, women might be allowed to be counted as part of the fold. This would have been an earthshaking cultural and spiritual affront to the tribal leadership of Jesus' day. Women (and children) were, as I understand it and please correct me if I am wrong, little more than slaves. They were voiceless. They did not count.

For example, during the feeding of the 5,000 it must be noted that those 5,000 heads were only males. Women and children were not allowed to eat with men. Therefore Matthew notes in his Gospel that "those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children."

Which brings me to the Gospel verses you have focused on today. Jesus did ignore the pleas of the woman initially. But then we see a turnabout: “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” She pressed Him. She virtually begged Him, and it was perceived by Christ as an act of humble faith worthy of His response. Abraham was also worthy; that is, righteous by faith, long before he was circumcised.

This is the astonishing good news from a female vantage point. Suddenly, women mattered. Circumcision was declared irrelevant. Faith took center stage, and the world has never been the same.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

I will correct you. I think you are terribly wrong. Families ate together, women did have a voice (Prov. 31), and Israel even had prophetesses.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, Fr Hart, you are the one who is "terribly wrong".

Here is an account copied from a Jewish website regarding marriage and women during Jesus' time:

The Jews had a fixed belief that every man had two natures, the
good nature which draws him upwards, and the evil nature which
drags him down. And they, had the idea that in marriage, when it
is right, even the evil nature turns to good. "But for his
passions man would not build a house, nor marry a wife, nor beget
children" (Rabba 9).

But for all this high ideal Judaism did not idealize women. It
was laid down that a man must not covet his neighbors wife, or
his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or
anything that is his neighbor's (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21).
On the basis of this it was argued that women and wives are
included among the things, and that therefore woman is to be
regarded as a chattel. Women did not eat with men; they only
stood and served. In the Temple and the Synagogue they were
separated from men. Windows were very often grilled so that women
might not be seen, and we frequently read of the lattice behind
which the woman was concealed (Judges 5:28; Song of Songs 2:9)...

Legally a woman was a minor, not a responsible person. A husband
could repudiate an agreement which she made. She was not eligible
to give evidence at law. Perhaps the hardest thing was that she
could not inherit from her father or from her husband, and this
explains why in Scripture the widow is always the symbol of
poverty and helplessness.

In religious matters a woman was excused from all commandments
which begin "Thou shalt," and from all which have to be done at a
fixed and definite time (Kiddushin 1.7). She did not need to
recite the Shema, or to wear fringes or phylacteries, or to go to
Jerusalem for the compulsory Feasts, Pentecost, Passover and
Tabernacles. A woman had to know the table blessings; she had to
recite the Eighteen Prayers, the Shemoneh Esreh; she had to see
to the Mezuzah on the doorpost; she had to light the Sabbath lamp
- that was and is one of her special duties; she had to see to
the "challah," the offering of kneaded dough that had to be made
from every baking. In the Temple she could not ordinarily go
beyond the Court of the Women, and in the Synagogue she could not
be one of the quorum of ten which was necessary to hold a
Synagogue service, although theoretically she might be one of the
seven people called up to share in the reading of the lesson from
the Law (Tos. Megillah 4.11; Megillah 23 a).

A woman was exempt from the stud of the Law. This
is the reason for Jewish prayer which is so often unfairly
quoted, "I thank thee that thou hast not made me a Gentile, a
slave, or a woman" (Menaboth 43 b).


Fr. Robert Hart said...

From a Jewish website, but not from a recognized historian. The Scriptures are not treated to exegesis by that commentary, but to abuse. I prefer interpretation of Scripture that begins with treating it as Divine revelation, and as having meaning that comes from its Author.

The way that the family was to eat the Passover (in Exodus 12) does not confirm these theories about history. Neither is it consistent with your reading of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. There is no indication that the men all ate apart from their families. If the text implies anything, it is the opposite.

The New Testament treatment of circumcision, in light of the faith of Abraham, is to teach the equality in Christ of Jew and Gentile; that Gentiles are no longer Gentiles in Christ. But, the dignity with which women were treated (however it may not meet the modern standards of egalitarianism) was yet another part of Judaism that set Jews apart from the Gentiles in Antiquity. I think you would get an argument from Deborah and Susanna.

Anonymous said...

More on women from a Christian website:

Women in ancient Israel:

Women's status and freedoms were severely limited by Jewish law and custom in ancient Israel, as they were in essentially all other cultures at the time. Generally speaking:
most were restricted to roles of little or no authority,
bullet they were largely confined to their father's or husband's home,
they were considered to be inferior to men, and under the authority of men -- either their father before marriage, or their husband afterwards.

From the Second Temple period, women were not allowed to testify in court trials. They could not go out in public, or talk to strangers. When outside of their homes, they were to be doubly veiled. "They had become second-class Jews, excluded from the worship and teaching of God, with status scarcely above that of slaves." Their position in society was defined in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the interpretation of those scriptures.

Change in status: Jesus' radical treatment of women:

Christ overthrew many centuries of Jewish law and custom. He consistently treated women and men as equals. He violated numerous Old Testament regulations, which specified gender inequality. He refused to follow the behavioral rules established by the three main Jewish religious groups of the day: the Essenes, Pharisees and Sadducees. "The actions of Jesus of Nazareth towards women were therefore revolutionary." Some examples are:
He ignored ritual impurity laws: Mark 5:25-34 describes Jesus' cure of a woman who suffered from menstrual bleeding for 12 years. In Judean society of the day, it was a major transgression for a man to talk to a woman other than his wife or children.

He talked to foreign women: John 4:7 to 5:30 describes Jesus' conversation with a woman of Samaria. She was doubly ritually unclean since she was both a foreigner and a woman. Men were not allowed to talk to women, except within their own families. Jesus also helped a Canaanite woman, another foreigner, in Matthew 15:22-28. Although he described non-Jews as "dogs", he was willing to talk to her, and is recorded as having cured her daughter of demon-possession.

He taught women students: Jewish tradition at the time was to not allow women to be taught. Rabbi Eliezer wrote in the 1st century CE: "Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman...Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her obscenity." 5 Jesus overthrew centuries of tradition. In Luke 10:38-42, he taught Mary, sister of Martha.

He used terminology which treated women as equal to men:
bullet Luke 13:16 describes how he cured a woman from an indwelling Satanic spirit. He called her a daughter of Abraham, thus implying that she had equal status with sons of Abraham. "The expression 'son of Abraham' was commonly used to respectfully refer to a Jew, but 'daughter of Abraham', was an unknown parallel phrase...It occurs nowhere else in the Bible." 4 It seems to be a designation created by Jesus.

Luke 7:35 to 8:50 describes how Jesus' forgave a woman's sins. He refers to women and men (i.e. "all" people) as children of wisdom.

He accepted women in his inner circle: Luke 8:1-3 describes the inner circle of Jesus' followers: 12 male disciples and an unspecified number female supporters (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and "many others.") It would appear that about half of his closest followers were women.


Anonymous said...

This is how women were treated with "dignity' in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 requires that a virgin woman who has been raped must marry her attacker, no matter what her feelings are towards the rapist. "If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife...."

Deuteronomy 24:1 describes the procedure for obtaining a divorce. This can only be initiated by the husband, not by the wife: "When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house."

Deuteronomy 25:5-10: states that if a woman is widowed, she would be required to marry her former brother-in-law. This was called a "levirate" marriage. Their first-born son will later be considered to be the son of the deceased husband. The man could refuse to marry her. Women were not given a choice in the matter. " If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her."

Deuteronomy 25:11: If two men are fighting, and the wife of one of them grabs the other man's testicles, her hand is to be chopped off. There is no penalty if a male relative were to grab the other man. "When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets. Then thou shalt cut off her hand..."

Judges 19:16-30 describes an event similar to Genesis 19. Some men in the city wanted to "know" a visiting Levite. The owner of the house offered his virgin daughter and the Levite's concubine so that the men could rape them. Verse 24 states: "Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing." The man sent his own concubine outside to the gang, who proceeded to serially rape her. She died of the attacks. The man only learned of her death when he was leaving the house in the morning and stumbled across her body. The woman was clearly considered expendable and of little value.

2 Chronicles 36:23 mentions the Second Temple which was constructed after some Jews returned from exile in Babylon. It was rebuilt by Herod late in the 1st century BCE. One of its features was women's court, considered the least sacred area. Next was the court of the Israelites (reserved for males), then the court of the Priests, and finally the Temple itself. The courts were laid out in this order to separate the women as far as possible from the Temple.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

In the passage you quoted from Deuteronomy 22, the subject was not rape, but fornication. The penalty for raping a woman was DEATH (see verse 25). You read Divine approval into the passage in Judges, which is not implied in the text, and would be considered an antisemitic twisting of the story by any Rabbi.

You have fallen for the old trick of confusing modern Muslims with ancient Jews. You can go on wrenching verses out of context and distorting their meaning. But, it comes across as the same old antisemitic propaganda we've heard all too often.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

...e.g., on divorce you overlook the Laws in Exodus that decree the woman's conjugal rights...etc.

Anonymous said...

Fr Hart said: "But, it comes across as the same old antisemitic propaganda we've heard all too often."

I find it rather ironic that you have essentially accused me of parading antisemitism. Was it not you who dismissed the information I copied from a fine Jewish website (in my second posting) as not being from a "recognized historian" and therefore abusive of Scriptural interpretation? By what authority do you cast that.. dare I say "antisemitic"... opinion? Do you not think that the Jews know their own history? Rather arrogant of you, in my humble opinion, but I am not a "recognized historian" either so my commentary is, following your logic, equally abusive of Scripture.

Let us get back to my initial point. Women and children were not allowed to eat with men in Jesus' time. I sent you commentary from my Aramaic Bible on that specific point and you have either not received it, or have received it and chosen not to post it.

God be with you, Fr Hart.


Fr. Robert Hart said...


I have published all your comments, even though I don't like to stray from the theology I wrote. I understand what the websites are saying, but I know better than to simply swallow everything I read. Yes, ancient Israel was a patriarchal society, and knew nothing else. But, they are not to be mistaken for Muslims (a religion that came along in the medieval period); it is all very much overstated. And, any archaeologist would point out that the houses were too small for families not to eat together.

Any writer who cannot distinguish between the penalty for fornication and the DEATH penalty for rape, isn't worth paying attention to anyway. I could suggest better things to read, mostly between two covers.