( What one Rabbi and one student taught me about the Gospels.)
When I attended rabbinic school in Jerusalem the only person who read the Gospels was the Dean, an erudite scholar of Semitic languages. I would be the only disciple to follow in his footsteps. The Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were not part of the schools library. They are a part of mine, along with all the other books of the belated testament.
In fact, the Gospels are considered forbidden books. One legal source implies that anyone who reads the Gospels will lose their portion in the world to come.
This frames the picture I will paint with words of a true anecdote and story of a Rabbi who inspired the tasting of the forbidden fruit. The story is as true as a story can be, much like the Gospels.
Our story dates back to the late nineteen seventies when I was Judaic headmaster of an orthodox day school. The good rabbi who inspired this Anecdote we shall call Rabbi Z ,or Z for short.
Rabbi Z was teaching the Books of Chronicles, classes were to begin, and his book order had not arrived, so he asked students to bring in their family bibles, an innocent enough request.
One hapless student came to class with the motel version of the bible. Z, a hothead, so upset to be in the same room with forbidden gospels, took a swing at the student. I happened into the room at that very moment and miracle of miracles caught the student’s skullcap, which arrived as a Frisbee. Z then, with the strength of a superhero, ripped the Bible into two pieces, one the old, the other the new. The new landed in the trash can with a bang.
Yes, in the end I fired the rabbi for swinging at the student, even though the blow only glanced the top of his head to send his headgear flying in my direction. I also secretly wanted to present Z with the “Pedagogue of the Year” award. Needless to say at the end of the day the student picked the New Testament out of the trash. The student, Aaron, became an avid student of the Gospels, and then the Epistles and even Revelation.
Imagine if the rabbi had thrown the Old away!
This, as I said, is a true story, and many years later I met Aaron and we discussed his study of Christian Scripture. Aaron saved the torn out pages
of the book of Z, but moved on to scholarly monographs on the New Testament, and did a curious pre-med and theology double major at University. In medical school Aaron continued his studies, became a surgeon, and a precise reader of the Gospels. Aaron read everything, including my essays on the New Testament. He also found my Final Age Testament.
I met Aaron with a question and a smile:
So, what have you learned of truth in the gospels?
He returned my smile, saying,
I learned that I can be a Jew and a Christian without logical contradiction.
I learned that the Church reads an abomination, a Jew hating text, especially Johns Gospel.
I learned from your essays that an anti-Semitic Jesus is illogical and that Jesus was anti Shammiatic.
I learned that all the characters of the Gospels are not Christians, but Jews like me. To be more precise I learned that Sadducees and Pharisees and Zealots were all spin offs of Israelite religion.
I learned that those who identify with Rabbinic Judaism are disciples of Rabbinic Fathers who were contemporaneous with the Church Fathers.
I learned that the Red Letter editions of the Gospels are not necessarily the words of Rabbi Jesus.
Two great religions were born of the “breaking of the water” following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, Judaism and Catholicism. Twin religions, both are like Rebecca’s Children, struggling since the womb.
I learned from history that Christ and Christendom often work at cross purposes.
I learned from Rabbi Z that when the testaments are torn into two the Son becomes wayward and despises the Father, and the Father becomes rigid and unforgiving refusing to speak to the Son.
You rabbi’s have dropped the ball. Every Father is obligated to teach his children. Elijah bridges the generation gap by teaching the Fathers turning
first to the son, then the son to the father. Updated, by the way, this all also pertains to daughters.
Perhaps the Mothers will instruct the Fathers.
I learned that Chief Rabbi Gamliel had a dream that every citizen would be a sage. This happens when all education is free and open to everyone. This is why I started The Rabbis Scholarship Fund. And with all do respect, for me, “The” Rabbi is Jesus.
My studies of the thousand and myriad volumes of the life of Jesus have taught me that Jesus is not necessarily a Reformer, or a Revolutionary, a Sectarian or a Zealot, or for that matter a Utopian recluse.
My textual studies of the Gospels have inspired me, like Jefferson, to take my scalpel to the text of the gospels. A real red letter edition of the teachings is essential to rediscover the true teacher.
In my studies I have found the true Gnomologia (maxims) of The Rabbi.
Similar to the Principle Teachings (Pirkay Avot) of the Rabbi’s I place Jesus within the peace party of the school of Hillel, and therefore a Pharisee.
In rethinking the Western monotheisms and their various reading of scripture I have come to understand that interpretation is everything.
A good reader walks away with good teachings and good news, a bad with bad.
The religious impulse is devotional and this must be honored. I am responsible for bad readings as long as no one educates the ignorant.
Education is continuing and a daily obligation. We are all students of the teachings.
Before giving instruction one must master the sources. Those who do not often take the Name in vain.
From the earliest rabbinic traditions I learned that a good tree yields nourishing fruit, that all are chosen but few hear the call, and that the harvest is abundant and the workers lazy.
I learned that, by definition A Revelation contains no secrets, so we have no need of Cabala, spelled with a “c” or “k” or double “L”.
The bottom line? I learned:
Where your treasure is
there your heart will be found.
For this reason the first question you are asked by the Heavenly Court that meets next to the pearly gates is:
Was your give and your take in business honest?
Rabbi, reading your Books and essays I have to question some of the
theological nomenclature that defines religion and sometimes politics and psychology..
I begin with “New”
New World Order?
City on a hill?
My Jesus does not displace my Judaism.
Good, I said raising my hand to slow Aaron down. I continued:
My friend, may I ask some provocative questions?
Aaron, if you had been a student in Jerusalem two thousand years ago would you have been a disciple of Jesus?
I would give that question a resounding yes Aaron replied.
I do not share your certainty, I responded.
Well, first of all on principle. Certainty is the pedestal of idolatry.
How may one separate Christ and Christendom? Whatever we say is the message of the gospels they spelled bad news for the Jews.
I am certain, Aaron responded, that two thousand years ago I would not know the details of future misreading and indiscretions.
Based on his Gnomologia Jesus would have been one of my teachers.
Yes, but your messiah?
As you well know rabbi Jesus never claimed to be a messiah. He could not even save his own life. He could have been resurrected and certainly became immortal.
This is all I would have known two thousand years ago.
So Aaron, what about today?
Are you as messianic Jew?
Yes and no.
I do not belong to a messianic congregation. However, Shabbat to Shabbat as I study the Haftorah I also seek the gospel parallels. In fact the gospels must be understood in the context of the synagogue Torah readings week in and week out.
So why not join a messianic congregation?
Because most are suffering an identity crisis, he responded..
Jews for Jesus are really Christians with Yarmulkes.
I laughed. You have a point. Would you consider being my Chavair, my study partner?
But of course.
We set a time for our next meeting.
Our Next Meeting
Our next meeting was online and Aaron came prepared.
Rav Aleph he said, I have reviewed The Final Age Testament
and I have many questions.
Wonderful. Where would you like to begin?
I would like to start with the persona poems in Book Two.
Great. A Second Time From The Heavens?
Yes this is the key to Book One, Final Testament.
Are you not taking great liberty with the text by having Abraham refuse the Ram and the Lamb.
Well, midrashically I think of the Ram as the Jews and the Lamb as the Christians. More literally the Ram is also the Muslims.
So Father Abraham says no to the Binding, the Sacrifice and the Submission?
So what happens to Western monotheism?
God willing, it is healed. The Final Age Testament is a declaration of independence from fundamentalism.
The “yoke of heaven” of the Rabbi’s is unbridled.
The fiction of the cross becomes fact.
Surrender is transformed into Shalom.
Rabbi, are you a heretic?
I am a heretic in every sense of the word.
I teach opinions contrary to the establishment.
I have rewritten the Torah, Gospels, Revelation, and Quran.
I take the middle voice and mind and path.
So yes I am a heretic with a capital H.
You take on the Holy War at the end of the poem. Why? Aaron asked.
The idea originates in the Torah, is fleshed out by the Church and is the essential act of becoming a Muslim. Think of the Poem and the Book and the entire Final Age Testament as the final declaration of independence. The individual has primacy over the state. Holy War and Just Wars are
simply justification of violence. Just war theory is just nonsense. The domestic analogy that you should enlist in the latest conflict since you would defend yourself and family if under attack breaks down. If you are attacked you know the moral perimeters to make a just decision. The weapon of mass destruction is pointed at your face. Not so with nations.
Where Leviathan asserts its right to swallow citizens into its armed foreces we proclaim independence.
How else will we ever stop war?
O Rabbi, that is a lot to chew on. Are we to be anarchists if we believe
a war unjust?
Yes, and even if the war is just it must be fought justly.
The War in Iraq is open to debate. Fortunately none were drafted into that war, except those who enlisted believing in American justice and democracy. We lost that war at Abu Ghraib. In other words,even when the individual is the moral arbiter of the justness of a conflict or war they may be duped or undermined by the state.
And all this goes back to father Abraham?
Yes. He should have just said no to the command to sacrifice his son.
Turning to the end of Book Two, Aaron continued, are you so heretical as to reject the idea of a personal messiah?
Remember, Aaron you are indicting the majority of modern Jews. They believe in redemption but not in a redeemer. Personally I am awaiting the personal Messiah, and when I am in Elijah’s voice imagine myself in that number when the Messiah comes marching in. I do confess that on more rational days the Messiah arriving on a white horse or donkey to save mankind seems a fiction. I willingly imagine the Merging of the Two Jerusalems, One Old, and One New, and believe that messianic leadership will teach us how to uplift the earthly Jerusalem by rewriting and renewing our story.
I am beginning to understand, Aaron said.
Is this the meaning of the final name of God you teach at the very end of the Book, and of Sealah?
Yes. A.H.V.H. is announced by Sealah.
Rabbi, are you the messiah?
Me? Certainly not.
Wait a second, you said certainty is the basis of idolatry.
I am not. I have enough problems with my Elijah complex.
Is the Final Age Testament Scripture? Aaron continued.
Read it for yourself, and you tell me.
I think, Aaron responded, that The Five Books of Laurence are Midrash.
And? I asked.
Listen Rabbi, the story of our people is not yet finished. If your five books teach us how to read Moses, and to transform the Gospels into good news
I lift up your Testament. Questions remain. What about Paul? If God is the author of history, what about Mohammad? Freud? Zionism as a messianic pretender?
We will get to these in our next meeting, I answered.
Act Three: The Strength of Questioning
Act three took us to book three of the Final Age Testament. On line, I asked Aaron to go to The Letters section of Final Acts.
Aaron, as you well know I speak to Theophilos in my updated Third Gospel and Book of Final Acts. Theo- philos. I speak to those who love God. And I speak to God directly as Theophilos. This is all a variation of the third gospel, in Old Luke, where they spell the name oddly as “Theophilus”, as if speaking to one person. The story continues in Old Acts, separated by Old John.
I am not comfortable calling Luke “Old Luke” Aaron interrupted.
Just so, I answered, no old, no new. That is my point.
Well then I will read Final Acts, and comment.
Exceelent, I will be waiting right here.
Act Four, A Final Revelation
Is the Book of Revelation a nightmare without interpretation, more Ester
Does Revelation continue?
Is the Quran the real Final Testament?
Is the New (now Final) Jerusalem a fit of fancy?
Armageddon? Aaron asked.
See Final Revelation. I answered.
How do you Spell Kabballah?
Cabala. As in cabal.
Kabalah? Need a b or l.
Kabbalah. Standard. Aaron asked.
Kabballah. Correct. Finally.
A Kabballahist receives tradition, and lives the teachings, intense.
A Christian Kabballahist reads four gospels as good news. Four enter paradise. Four points of view. Gospel truth at least fourfold. Four levels of interpretation.
A Muslim Kabballah? Yes and Yes. Kabba and Allah!
The Final Kabbalah? Yes and no.
See the Thunder. The Original Revelation. On the A Mountain.