The Later Books of the Bible:

(Matthew to Revelation)

Rabbi Ari.A Alpern



It is about time we have this talk.

Two thousand years of misunderstanding is quite enough, wouldn’t you agree?

Welcome to our conversation. We will be constructing a Torah Shbaalpeh, an Oral Torah, as we read through the entire Torah this year (and every year) from Genesis to Revelation.

Our format will be talking points, or teaching points.

All are expected to talk and to teach.

We believe in conversation, not conversion.

This is not a one answer man format.

You are welcome to raise a new point and all are welcome to comment.

All are invited to be leaders in this conversation.

I will make recommendations for your reference library and expect you to reciprocate.

This discussion is for those willing to site their sources and to mention who originated the idea.

By “Torah” we mean the light that shines through text, with a focus on the Bible.

This is not a Skeptics Annotated Bible.

This is a Devar Jonah, Sealah Bible.

As a rabbi I approach the Gospels and Epistles and Revelation with great trepidation but also with devotion.

I am open to revise my previous commentary on the “New” Testament as found in my Books Final Acts and Final Revelation.

Nothing is ever final in This  Oral Torah, so we are ready to re vision.

We start with Communion edited by David Rosenberg the final essay by Hugh Kenner, “one of the major literary critics of the (past) century.” Kenner recommends we read from Genesis to Revelation over a year, three chapters a day, five on Sunday. He does the math:

Three a day and five on Sunday= 1,199.

Chapters Genesis to Revelation= 1,189

“The fit is so neat a fundamentalist might be set to wondering if exactly ten chapters have maybe been mislaid.”

This fun-damentalist likes this in tense math. Of course you are welcome to follow The Daily Bible or any of a number of online feeds that will deliver the product to your windows.

Do not forget the top ten traditional Torah sites following the weekly readings of the rabbi’s.

In the next five years I think we are going to need to do a parallel study of Torah and Quran, but for now, one step at a time.

Feel free to read ahead, or go to your favorite book.

Our conversation, however, will be plus or minus the twenty three a week system starting in Genesis January 1 and ending in Revelation December 31.









Jesus H. Christ


Harold? A profanity? Forgive me. I approach the name and title with fear and trembling.

My Rebbe, Kafka, speaks about a “Christ moment.”

He was reading Kierkegaard. K on K. Wait a second.

“Hark the Herald Angel sings.” Kierkegaard divides Christ from Christendom. Kafka teaches that Religions, as people, get lost.

Kafka heralds the resurrection, the graves open when the most unbridled individualism is possible. Then the Messiah comes.

Kafka teaches that this is (perhaps) the Christian  doctrine, to be emulated by individuals, after the example of Christ.

So, we ask, what is heralded?

Franz sounds “Kafkaesque” when he writes:

“We too must suffer all the sufferings around us. Christ suffered for mankind, but mankind must suffer for Christ.”

This is now open for discussion. Is Kafka still reading Kierkegaard’s pamphlets Ojeblikket?

Steven Mitchel, in Parables and Portraits, helps us out with one of each:








Whoever has, even once, glimpsed

The certainty of our freedom

Cannot be content with anything



Christ (Yeshu of Nazereth):


You came to me when I was nine,

With the sheen that forbidden joys have…

How could I not tip toe

Out of my father’s house

To meet you on every high mountain…?


Ascending to Arête with Rav A


It is time for unbridled individualism.

It is time for personal religion.

A personal religion need not reject Christ because of Christendom.

A devotional reading allows the reader a palate to paint the features and colors of the portrait as they see fit.

We come to this discussion with our library open to one and all.

Steven Mitchell heralds a guide to the essential teachings of Jesus Christ in The Gospel According to Jesus. I suggest you add this to your list of basic references.

This study is not for the fainthearted or indolent. We are more interested in what Moses saw on top of the mountain than the understanding of the masses in the base camp. We seek to encounter the teachings of Jesus, knowing all too well the various misreading of the churches.

We read with devotion and a critical and a Jewish eye, and praise the good Lord for the recently published The Jewish New Testament. This is a must own and a must study.

It is about time this conversion begins.

Let us sharpen our wits, sword against sword.

Make that word against word.

The S/word? Sealah!









(Notes on Studying The Jewish Annotated New Testament. {JANT} )

Now that you have your required reading in hand, including The Jewish Annotated New Testament, I have a few suggestions for reading and study:

Talking Points

1.) On or about October first read the entire Book of Matthew and note your questions to present as talking points. (Or do the study now.)

2.) Do the same with Chapter assignments.

3.) Review the introduction to Matthew by Aaron M. Gale. Note your ?’s.

4.) Do the same for Mark to Revelation. Oct. Nov. Dec. (or today).

5.) If you have time read The Essays, beginning on page 501, in any order, and write down your questions and/or talking points.

So far, this is what I have:

6.) Amy Jill Levine’s “Corrections of Common Errors about early Judaism” is a marvelous and orderly and succinct review of the problem.

7.) I would only add the rather obvious talking point about what to call “Judaism” at the time of Jesus. Israelite religion then was based on worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple falls and a new “Judaism” is created by the Rabbi’s. In other words do not assume the stories in the gospels are a reflection on “Judaism”.

8.) In a way the rabbi’s created a new form of Israelite religion, as “New” as the New Testament. Rabbinic Judaism.

9.) See my Top Ten Required Reading, and focus on the scholarship of Alan Segal.

10.) Discuss The Final Age Testament as commentary on the Old Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation.

11.) Return to Karen Armstrong, The Bible: a Biography.

12.) Do not forget the Aria’s and Very Rabbi.


Matthew: Talking Points

1.)  Back to K. First Kafka and next Karen Armstrong. Kafka rewrote many myths but never directly discusses the Gospels. I think he knew the Akeda was in need of a rewrite, but he never bound himself to that altar. I did, as you see in the Final Testament.

2.) My entire life is a Midrash on Genesis 22.

3.) Karen Armstrong, once again in her The Bible: a Biography, does a wonderful job introducing the four gospels. My work in Final Acts pales in comparison.

This is why we are having this conversation.

4.) K.aren teaches that Matthew reported his news in the late 80’s; meaning the Temple in Jerusalem had been recently destroyed. This was the greatest crisis in Israelite history. The Shechinah had lost her home.

5.) Christians would now encounter the Shechinah through Jesus.

6.) Jesus’s death is not a scandal since it had been foretold in the Torah, according to Matthew.

7.) A number of prefaces before we launch our conversation:

8.) Why is this Rabbi advocating a study of The Gospels, Epistles and Revelation?

9.) Is it providential that the Jewish Annotated New Testament is available just in time for our conversation?

10.) Read the Editors’ Preface. Two good Jews! What’s up?

11.) My opinion is that the editors favor conversation over conversion.

12.) Jew and Christian take note. The war of words is over. The war of theological and steel swords must end.

13.) Take note that it is the University and not a seminary that is insisting on this conversation.

14.) Is it heresy for a Jew to consider the Gospels Torah?

15.) Remember, this is a Devar Jonah Devotional Bible. Inmates have the most freedom in studying text. I will include their insights as part of the talking points.

16.) Howard, this study is dedicated to you. Your support of Devar Jonah is appreciated.


Let the conversation continue!


Rabbi Alpern


Jesus for Jews

17.) I am rethinking Jews for Jesus. Yes, I know they are theologically Christians with Yamalaka’s. Jews for Jesus are the first fruits of Christian evangelism. If you are Jewish, and want to act out towards your parents, Jews for Jesus is a good start.

18.) Our conversation is about Jesus for Jews. Again, devotion demands conversation not conversion.

19.) I have never heard of Christians for Moses, but it occurs to me that Jews for Jesus just might teach Christians how to be better followers of the Bible.

20.) The Christians I know who attend messianic “Jewish” congregations, I believe, are better Christians for it.

21.) Passover again becomes Passover for these Christians, setting a pattern for a more “Jewish” Christianity.

22.) Why should Protestants not observe the Biblical Holydays because of decisions of the Church Fathers almost two millennia ago?

23.) For Catholics the word “Judaize” was a pejorative up until Vatican II. Will it one day be a word of praise? This I pray.

24.) Will Jews open to the Gospels and teachings of Jesus the rabbi?

25.) I think many Jews are like battered wives who were abandoned by their spouse.

May God have compassion. They were bludgeoned into silence.

For the rest of us, let the conversation begin.

26.) Another K source is essential before launching into the “New”. I approach all text from a feminist perspective. The Gospels are mostly stories of men written by men, even when depicting women. This is why K.aren Armstrong’s The Gospel According to Women is required reading.

27.) We may as well discuss required reading:


Required Reading : The Top Ten


28.) Shalom and blessings my friend. On the whole the point of this website is to teach you everything you need to know about religion and practice, and supply resources. Ultimately it is my prayer that you will be independent and able to navigate the straits of religion.


29.) My secret dream is that you become a rabbi, meaning a master teacher.


My list of the top ten works for you to have in your resource library follows. You will need a hardcover library.



Number one: Rebecca’s Children. Alan F. Segal  Harvard 1986.


This study moves the reader beyond a Sunday school understanding of Judaism and Christianity, and is a must read. The birthright belongs to both religions.



Number Two: The Crucifixion of the Jews, Franklin H. Littell, Harper and Row 1975, and Rose edition, 1986 and 1996.


One of the ten most important books  of the 20th century, Dr. Littell explores

the crisis of Christianity and the failure of other religions to understand the Jewish experience.


Number Three: The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel, any edition.


Shabbat is number four on God’s list of the top ten teachings commonly called the Ten Commandments. A return to Shabbat and ‘Torah Time” is essential for our personal redemption, the redemption of Israel, and all of humankind.


Number Four, also by Rabbi Heschel  The Prophets. Harper Collins, 1962 or Prince Press, Peabody Mass. 2004.


Traditionally we never read any Torah portion without a prophetic addition, the Haftorah. This is a reminder that the prophets are the mediators of all truth. To return to this prophetic spirit we turn once again to Heschel. Begin with Chapter Nine, which focuses on history and the idolatry of power.


Number Five: Edwin Friedman. A Failure of Nerve Seabury, N.Y. 2007


Groundbreaking. You may want to begin with Friedman’s Fables. There, begin with the Chapter “Tradition” which redefines the roles of disciples and leaders.


Number Six: Final Testament.


This work of scriptural fiction is a western religious education. A rewrite of the basic story of the west, father and son, knife and altar, submission, and crucifixion, this novel work unbinds religion from some of its basic assumptions.


Number Seven: Final Acts .


 Christendom is not the final act of the play we call history. The education of a modern day Elijah heralds the coming of an era of Peace.


Number Eight: Final Revelation.


 Who says the canon of sacred literature is closed? Revelation and revelations continue.


Number Nine. Kabballah.


Being receptive to revelations new worlds are literarily created.



Number Ten. Consider Me a Dream.


A moving picture of modernity, the final age begins, and ends, in the Kafkan. 



30.) Back to the Gospel According to Women. The subtitle is “Christianity’s Creation of the Sex War in the West.” I would like to discuss Number Six, Final Testament, in this context. The rabbis of blessed memory speculated on Sarah’s reaction to the binding of her beloved Isaac by Abraham. It seems they never speak again. Some read Sarah’s death as the result of hearing about the Akeda.

In his comments on his The Gospel According to Jesus. Steven Mitchell explains that Jesus did not want to die and asked God to “take this cup from me.” Mitchell comments; “A touching prayer, and a very human one.” Jesus wanted to avoid the suffering and the crucifixion.


31.) Next Jesus says; “Nevertheless, not what I want, but what you want.” Mitchell, again, explains this attitude as one of loving acceptance. Beyond father and son, beyond servant and master, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.


32.) Now, as we compare and contrast The Akeda and The Crucifixion, we are reminded that the gospels and Midrash have Isaac and Jesus at about the same age in both readings.


33.) Matthew 27:55 reports that many women were at the crucifixion, Mary among them.  They were “looking on from a distance.” At the tomb of resurrection the women are the witness’s. This is worth discussing, especially in light of the fact that to this day many men do not accept women as reliable witnesses. Time for a closer look.


34.) What if Sarah had witnessed the binding and attempted sacrifice of her son?


35.) If one accepts resurrection as an article of faith, just how different are the two stories?


36.) Is now the time to admit that the voices and narratives of the Bible all originate in the minds of men?


37.) Is a rewrite then, always in order?


38.) Rereading Matthews Gospel on the death of Jesus I am confronted once again by the “infamous blood cry” as it is called by Professor Gale. See Matthew 27:25. The strained relationship with the synagogue is based in scripture.


39.) The stain remains.


40.) A blind spot in the way of devotion is an assumption that the “blood cry” is fact and not a fabrication of a Church Father justifying a break with the synagogue.





1.) “According to” the word” Gospel” may be a later addition according to Dr. Lawrence M. Wills  in the JANT. Jewish Annotated NewTtestament.

2.) Wills does an excellent job introducing Mark. See page 56 on Irony, and the messianic secret.

3.) I have also been listening to Garry Wills What the Gospels Meant in my travels. This is Gary not Larry.

4.) Gary on Mark is great listening. I would like to discuss the gospel as a “New Exodus” page 35 in Gary’s book version of what the gospels meant.

5.) What the gospel means is up to us and will be retold in this conversation.

6.) The parallels between the story in the Book of Exodus and the Gospel according to Mark are not chronological. The great “I AM”, in my opinion is both the sublime name at the Burning Bush (AHYH), essentially non pronounceable, and the Anochi  “I Am” of the Ten Utterances.

7.) I understand all this as a command to discover the great “I Am” within. This is a call to a personal unmediated encounter with the divine. Set down the text, go beyond all former commentators, and discover how you are created and creating exactly in the image. There is no other way for me.





1.) This brings us all to Luke. The Third Gospel, as Amy Jill Levine explains, begins with one long sentence in Greek divided into four verses.

2.) What is the “catechism” that is instructed here?

3.) For me, the ideal reader takes into account and then writes their own  personal gospel, as Luke did.

4.) Theophilus becomes Theophilos in the process. One becomes a friend of God when they locate the great “I Am” within.

5.) This is the entire point of The Final Age Testament

6.) This is a main point of this conversation.

7.) The main quote of this discussion remains the one by Rabbi Stevens, that the major poetic idea of the West is, and always has been, the idea of God.

8.) This includes bad poetry and the “has been” God.

9.) Our focus is on the “Is” God; and strong poetry.

10.) It has become altogether too easy to ruin all sacred truths.

11.) A complete western education now includes The Original, Belated and Final Testaments. A lifetime conversation.




1.) Study of John begins with the essay LOGOS, A JEWISH WORD, page 546 in JANT. Daniel Boyarin subtitles his essay “John’s Prologue as Midrash.” This essay helps us read John, at least in his beginning, as strong poetry.

2.) In the Book of Genesis words create worlds. Deuteronomy in the original Hebrew, is actually The Book of Wor(L)ds. The Devar  is the Word in The World.

3.) Upper and lower cases.

4.) The LOGOS? A Jewish beginning to John? And his middle? His end?

5.) Did John know of Philo and his LOGO’S?

6.) Is this how we See the Thunder?

7.) Now we are ready for Professor Adele Reinhartz in JANT. Page 152. Adele’s precise and nuanced introduction reminds us that John may be quoting Greek and even Samaritan sources in his gospel.

8.) I must agree with her that John has issues with the Judeans and the Jews.

9.) Our first discussion must be on the “devil” verse. John 8:44. If you want to open this discussion, I have written about it elsewhere.

10.) I do enjoy John’s depiction of Jesus observing the Biblical Holydays, especially Chanukah.



The Acts of the Apostles

1.) Start again with Professor Gilberts introduction, page 197 in the JANT. This is helpful in defining genre and the question of historicity.

2.) I have reviewed and rather like my rewrite of the second Pentecost. Let’s call Final Acts  Repentacost, just for the sound. Just say no to glossalia!

3.) Back to Theophilos as the lover of God. Back to Abraham and Sarah, Maimonides ideal and original lovers of God.

Before Sinai or Calgary they served with the perfection that is reserved for “the servers from ah ha va.”

4.) In other words they had their great ah ha moment as originators. So too you?

5.) May I place an overwhelming question upon your plate?

 Do we need a New religion?

6.) Is our discussion limited to the echo chamber of all the voices from the past?

7.) May we teach the Gospels anew? Epistles? Revelation?

8.) Before we move on to Paul, what do you think of a Gospel According to Gamaliel?

Letter Openers: Psaul

1.) Opening the Letters, I would like to introduce you to Psaul.

2.) Is it Paul or is it Saul?

Before opening our discussion kindly read the essay “Paul in Jewish Thought” Professor Langton, page 585 in JANT.

3.) The good professor concludes that the Jewish relationship to Paul remains rather bitter. Counter examples include those who think of Paul as the first and most classical of reform Jews.

4.) Spinoza uplifts Paul as a paradigm of reason over revelation.

5.) Mainstream New Testament scholarship in now questioning Paul’s alleged opposition to Torah.

6.) Was Paul possibly a Torah observant Jew? See the essay.

7.) Dr. Langton, quotes a source that speculates Paul and Saul as two separate people. See page 587 in JANT.

8.) The essay also mentions Rabbi Jacob Emden, (who I have discussed in another  writing,) and the good rabbi’s opinion that Paul “never dreamed of destroying the Torah.”

9.) Read also Marc D. Nanos “Paul and Judaism” JANT, page 581. Langton sums up Nanos: “Paul was entirely Torah observant.”

10.) We return to my mentor, Rabban Edwin H. Friedman, in our search for Psaul. “If you want to preserve your ideas, keep them to yourself.”

11.) In fact, teaches Krister Stendahl, Paul’s arguments have been reversed into meaning the opposite of his original attention.

12.) Does Psaul become Paul?


Opening Romans

Talking Points

1.) Romans is first because it is the longest, according to the excellent introduction by Dr. Nanos in JANT.

2.) I wonder out loud about the Gnomologia of Paul. I sense later additions and editing even in the “authentic” Epistles.

3.) Nanos notes on page 255 (on top, in gray) that some translators betray Saul.

4.) Is every translator a traitor?

5.) In Romans pistis is translated to mean “faith”. Nanos is correct in translating the Greek as similar to the Hebrew emunah, faithfulness. P(S)aul is in the details. Faithfulness refers as much to Gods search for human fulfillment of the Covenant as a faith “in” God.

6.) Peter Schjeldahl , in an essay in  Communion (P.299) points us towards Romans 1:17 citing Habakkuk 2:4.

7.) Did Luther derive his peculiar doctrine of justification by faith from Paul via Habakkuk?

8.) Is the simple self-surrender of the individual a superseding doctrine to the spiritual primacy of the Catholic Church?

9.) Why would this surrender be an act of devotion?

10.) Would Luther’s reading of Paul citing Habakkuk ever have occurred to Habakkuk?

11.) Does God seek a covenantal relationship, or submission?

12.) How does all of the above explain Luther’s “Unforgivable anti-Semitism?”

13.) How did misreading lead to Luther’s inciting civil authorities to burn synagogues?

14.) Did the self-surrender via faith inspire the surrender to the superseding faith of the Nazi’s?

15.) Is devotion, then, sometimes a facilitator of evil?


Rereading Corinthians One:

Talking Points

1.) First, we turn to Professor Shira Lander in JANT.  She begins with 1 Cor 13:4-13). Paul’s best known poem, “Love is patient; love is kind” is one of the earliest proclamations of the good news that is life after resurrection. The poem is also recited at many a wedding. The poem will the focus of our conversation this year.

2.) For this we return to Karen Armstrong in her The Gospel According to Women. Karen is fair and level headed in discussing Paul. He is not responsible for the denigration of women by some Christians. In fact his views are “far more lenient than Jesus’.”

3.) The way of devotion guides me to suggest the Greatest Commandment and Paul’s Corinthians poem as wedding readings. The love Psaul speaks of is Agape, a love greater than faith. The most excellent way is described in the greatest commandment, so my homily focuses on Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.

4.) Listen, the Torah instructs, what begins in duality becomes one. This brings God’s glory down to Earth.

5.) Love is commanded, of your very being.

6.) All is revealed today, so take this to heart.

7.) Discuss this with family and friends, in your homes, and on your journeys.

8.) Lay down at night and arise proclaiming the great teaching of Torah:

Let your hands remind you in embrace, focus your mind’s eye.

9.) Mark your doors with these words; sanctify your home as a sanctuary.

10.) Mark your gates with these words for the world.


Second Corinthians

Talking Points

1.) Again, JANT has a great introduction and commentary.

2.) We begin this conversation with Alfred Corn who edited Incarnation:Contemporary Writers on the New Testament. I still take issue with Paul, and all who use the terms “Old” and “New”, but that is another discussion.

3.) “Incarnation” means, first, an idea being given a body, a form, so to speak. Character is fleshed out in descriptive language. Words become flesh, and bone and sinew and eye color and sex.

4.) Corn points out that for Paul, people also become epistles. As Christ is a logos he is also a book. Jesus is fleshed out in text. See Chapter Three of 2 Corinthians for Paul’s “baroque” metaphors about the stone cold Tablets of Testimony and the veil of Moses. Corn argues that this argument originates in Jeremiah 31 concerning a Torah written on our hearts.

5.) Now without being simplistic it appears to me that we are dealing with rather prosaic readings of poetry.

6.) I once had a Physician for a student who secretly had messianic pretensions. I knew it was time for a psychiatric referral  when he informed me he was entering a program to be a Cardiac surgeon so he could circumcise hearts.

7.) Corn also reminds us that Paul is not attaching Judaism, even if his devaluation   sounds anti- Semitic to modern ears. The Rabbi’s also teach that “freedom” is written on the Tablets, and renewal, and inwardness.

8.) Remember, also, that rabbinic Judaism was in its formative stage at Yavne, so Paul was not picking the bones of rabbinic doctrines.  





The Letter of Paul to the Galatians

 1.) Dr. Cohen in JANT offers a succinct introduction to this epistle. “Paul forthrightly states his thesis: “ a person is justified not by works of law, but through faith in Jesus Christ.’

2.) “Judaism had, and has no value.” As Cohen reads this text.

3.) “This Letter gave Protestant reformers the rhetoric of Faith vs. Works.”

4.) Are Paul’s attack addressed to Gentiles?

5.) Dr. Cohen concludes: “Nowhere in his Letters… does Paul attempt to convince Jews to abandon Torah.”

6.) Now read Anthony Hecht in Incarnation. This year I would like to talk about page 154, a discussion that goes beyond the tired faith verses works debate and focus in on what Hecht calls the “Codification of Love.”

7.) Law and Love are not in opposition.

8.) Nor is the Law Old and Love the New.

9.) As we have discussed elsewhere, the neighbor we are to love in Lev. 19: 18 seems to refer to fellow Israelites. See the review in JANT by Dr. Fagenblat “ The Concept of Neighbor in Jewish and Christian Ethics. (Page 540.)

10.) As we learn from the prophetic reading on Leviticus in the Haftorah the innovative reading of “neighbor” to include all people is shared by Psaul and all the other sons of the Pharisees.


The Letter of Paul? To the Ephesians

1.) Following our pattern we begin in JANT. Dr. Grossman begins by reminding that most scholars do not believe Ephesians is by Paul. Nor is it a Letter.

2.) How may we be devout if we doubt authorship? 

3.) Does the theme of breaking down the wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles (2:14) make sense? Is Paul a uniter or a divider?

4.) Rita Dove, who, so named was destined to be a poet, even of the ideologue Paul

Or is it Psaul for the Dove? She writes in Incarnation of what it means to be in Christ.

5.) Dove alights on the insight that the mystery of grace manifests in church ladies who “get happy.” Men rarely get happy. Women are more natural to devotion. Dancing in the aisles, radiant in the image of their Lord of joy, Paul is transcended.



The Epistle of Paul The Apostle To The Philippians


1.) Begin with Dr. Cook in JANT.

2.) Dana Gioia, in Incarnation, reminds us that most modern writers no longer discuss scripture. We say thank you to David Rosenberg for Congregation, and Communion, and inspiring Incarnation. The poets must be heard!

3.) The poet Gioia finds no coherent narrative in Phillipians.

4.) He finds the heart of the epistle in its second chapter, what scholars call the Christ Hymn. (2:6-11).  

“Being in the form of God.

He considered it not a thing to be seized.

To be equal with God;

But emptied himself

By taking the form of a slave

Coming in human likeness.

And appearing in human form

He humbled himself and became obedient to death

Even on a cross

Wherefore God exalted him

And gave him a Name

That is above every name.”

5.) For me as a rabbi this poetry is an example of what I appreciate in the Later Books; even as I must reject the verses as doctrine.

6.) I experience the language of Immaculate Conception and Virgin Birth as sublime poetry even as I reject them as literal belief or creed.

Colossians: A Deutero-Pauline Letter

1.) I finally realize a slight imperfection in JANT. Next edition kindly give at least a brief paragraph on the contributors. Peter Zaas, who introduces Colossians, is a colleague and fellow Albanian. (New York).  I award him both palms.

2.) Since this epistle is written at least one generation after Paul by one of his followers, what authority does it have?

3.) Devotion?

4.) My messianic friends and Protestant Pastors proof text Colossians 2:15 to argue for a rejection of the biblical calendar.

5.) Pseudo Saul rejects Torah. Did Psaul?

6.) Is it possible to heal this rejection. Will Jew and Christian Shabbat on the same day in the messianic era?

7.) Passover?

8) Pentecost?

9.) Does the person of Atonement replace the Day?

10.) Will we ever study Jonah together again?





The Two Thessalonians

1.) Since the second Letter may be a rewrite we put both together.

2.) Dr. Sandmel in JANT explains that The First Letter To The Thessalonians is the oldest of the Latter Books of the Torah.

3.) Paul probably penned this epistle, with the exception of his diatribe against the Jews, 2:12-16.

4.) This is a reminder that annotations are required to have a true reading of scripture.

5.) The rewrite of The Second Letter may have been offered to clarify misunderstandings inspired by the first letter.


One Timothy


1.) Dr. Koltun-Fromm in JANT teaches that Pauline authorship is doubted for the Pastoral Epistles, 1 and 2 Timothy, along with Titus.

2.) Her interpretation stress the imminent return of Jesus.

3.) In Final Testament  Jesus returns as Isaac, born in 1950, in Laguna Beach California.

4.) In the Proem edition,1994, I present my fiction as a rebirth of the Old and The New.

5.) Bob Loomis, then of Random House (Executive Editor) found things that “snaged  my interest” in Final Testament  but in the end he became  lost in my library. I imagine if a modern version of Moby Dick had arrived on his desk he would not be able to navigate through that narrative and sermons and blubber.

6.) This is not about Bob alone. Modern literary editors are bored by the Ur story of the West.

7.) Jewish editors especially have an aversion to a retelling. Bob sees the story as something to argue over and fight over once again.

8.) Bobs rejection of Final Testament is spot on one point. “I believe it is trying to do too much. Bravo, Bob. What else would one expect of a rewrite of the basic story of Western civilization?

9.) And Bob never even saw  The Merging of the Two Jerusalem’s, One Old and One New, Final Acts, Final Revelation, See The Thunder, and Consider me a Dream, which together are The Final Age Testament.

10.) I am still seeking editors to trim the blubber out of my fat bible. See my Dedication to Herman.

Second Timothy

1.) Kindly review Dr. Tal Ilans intro in JANAT.

2.) Professor Davenport in Incarnation, has a wonderful essay on Paul, Jesus, and The Bible.

3.) The Professor’s Paul is seen as “ a bald and seriously bearded official, born to administrate…something like an Eichmann when we first see him.” (page 238)

4.) Davenport has a sharp feeling of great variance between Jesus and Paul.

5.) He sees Paul as a religious philosopher, assuming the role of a prophet, similar to Muhammad in Islam.

6.) As a literary critic the Professor reads the Bible with devotion, for it is filled with resourcefulness, imagination and wonder.

7.) Finally, the good Professor reminds us that whatever Jesus or Paul taught and became history remains a Waiting for Godot.

8.) In other words, will “God” return and set the record straight?

9.) Since Christianity is a tradition that can constantly return to its sources and renew itself, Professor Davenport teaches that the history of Christianity in not Christianity.

10.) (Page 241) “There are perhaps only Christianities.”






1.)  Titus is pseudonymous, according to Dr Jennifer L Koosed in JANT.

2.)  Being “of the circumcision” I read with alarm verse ten of Chapter one, not wanting to be counted among the rebellious people, the Cretans, or those who focus on Jewish myths or follow commandments and reject truth.

3.)  Now I get it. This is a joke: All Cretans are liars. I am a Cretan. So I tell the truth.

4.)  When a youngling I thought of searching for my foreskin until I looked around the locker-room and saw that everyone else was similarly trimmed.


1.)  This Letter is by Paul.

2.)  Dr. Geller, in JANT explains this as a famous source of prooftexting slavery by those for and against. Actually, the letter proves neither, remaining unclear about Pauls view.

3.)   On the general principle of that was then, and this is now ,I am reminded that proof texting is often just a proof in search of a text.


1.)  I agree with Dr. Eisenbaum in JANT  that Hebrews is the most anti Jewish text in the New Testament.

2.)  Scholars agree that Paul is not the author.

3.)  Written in stylish Greek, the result is as if Eliot or Pound wrote Mein Kamph.

4.)  In Final Testament  I present Chapter 11 of Hebrews  as the support and fulcrum of the Bible: Read it.

5.)  Written almost a quarter of a century age this conversation still rings true.

6.)  The entire point of the Final Testament is in the penultimate sentence:

“The sacrifice was acceptable to the Lord but never desired by the Lord.”


1.)  James Hebrew name is Jacob, according to Dr. Basser in JANT.

2.)  His excellent Greek raises doubt that the letter was written by James the older brother of Jesus.

3.)  The letter is often read as a sermon or a piece of wisdom literature like proverbs or Sirach.

4.)  A footnote in JANT, verse 4, reminds us of a similarity to Pirkay Avot, a book of rabbinic ethics that also teaches, in the first teaching of the first chapter, to be patient in judgment.

5.)  Josephus and Hegesippus tell a story of James being brought in front of the Sanhedrin about five years before the Temple is destroyed by the Romans. He was ordered to announce that Jesus was not the Messiah. James refused and was condemned to death. He died, while on his knees, praying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

6.)  The novelist Michael Malone; (Incarnation Page 289) notes that Luther had real problems with the Letter of James. What if Paul’s doctrine of Justification by Faith does not contradict Jame’s Justification by Works?

7.)  If Paul and James were friends, how would you construct the narrative of a historical novel on how they related to one another.

8.)  What would their dialogue be?

9.)  Malone’s essay is informative and essential reading for this discussion.

10.) I would like to talk about the genius in the redaction of the Later Books and Epistles. Four Gospels suggest four legitimate perspectives on the story of Jesus. James follows the Epistle to the Hebrews which highlights the radically different ways these two letters view the reality of a new form of Israelite religion.

11.) I would also like to discuss the politics in Israel around the year 70 C.E. and the fact that rabbinic Judaism was in its nascent form at the time. The Oral Traditions of the rabbi’s is not redacted until the year 200 C.E. Rome was confused about who was a Jew. The Sadducees and the House of Shammai do not survive the destruction.  Neither the MIdrash or Gospels or Epistles are historical accounts.  Essentially they are polemics posing as factual narrative.

12.) Many are not to be believed in, willingly.

13.) Back to James. The inclusion of his letter in the canon is another reason Jews must study the Later Books.



The First and Second  Letter of Peter

1.) Dr. Setzer teaches in JANT  that First Peter is addressed to gentiles, as the text says they were formerly ignorant of God, were not God’s people, and engaged in idolatry, drunkenness, and immorality Those addressed are told they are also to be a kingdom of priests and holy. They were to be considered as true Israelites.

2.) The rabbi’s of blessed memory acknowledged that the righteous among the gentiles have a portion in heaven.

3.) First Peter shows that at the time of its dissemination, the status of Christians was shaky.

4.)  Dr. Setzer notes that by the second century Christians would view themselves as the “true” Israel.

5.) The second letter of Peter, according to Dr. Greenwald in JANT is not by Peter’s hand.

6.) Marilynne Robinson has a lovely essay in Incarnation on both epistles. Rereading the former books, she explains, Peter is composed of elaborations on the biblical text that are innovative and in the spirit of God as a nurturing mother.

7.) Robinson is a devotional reader and rather cleverly writes that, “ Now, at what must be very nearly the end of history, reading these old documents, I fall to thinking how little seems to have happened.”

8.) “It is as true of Christendom as of humankind, that its fall came so briskly on the heal of its creation to make the two events seem like one.”

9. ) She continues: “ The writer of the second epistle attributed to Peter explains why the Last Judgment has not come as quickly as the early church expected. To God a thousand years is like a day and God is patient, wishing for the salvation of us all.

10.) I add: For the rabbi’s salvation is for the full community of Israel , so even              though we still wait, we still believe.


The First, Second and Third Epistles of John

1.) This year we will focus on Robert Hass and his essay in Incarnation.

2.)  He presents our epistles as being written between 90 and 110, and “by this time all the great events are over.”

3.) Paul is supposed to have been beheaded.

4.) Peter was crucified.

5.) What is a well read literary person to make of these three epistles, or for that matter, the later books in their entirety?

6.) Will we allow the fundamentalists to hijack our appreciation of the teachings? Is “a seed of world and flesh hatred at the root of the epistles”?  (See page 326)

7.) Hass adds, to the above quote: “It is also true that the tradition is full of life …”

8.) And “ the founding doctrines are contradictory.”





The Letter of Jude

1.) See JANT, where the introduction is as long as the book.

2.) Grace Schulman in Incarnation is as eloquent in prose as in poetry.

3.) We who are Jewish writers always remember our teachers are Christian.

4.) Being a rabbi and writer, I initiate this conversation.



1.) We all want to call this book Revelations. May this be God’s will.

2.) We end the year with John Hersey in Incarnation. Kindly read his essay now. Not to worry, I will be right here when you return.

3.) I must turn one of John’s (Hersey’s) sentences into a poem, it is so extraordinary. A Revelation!:

“A reading writer

Listens with the ear of his eye

For an author’s


4.) I return to JANT for my focus this year. Many Jews pray for the Messiah and the rebuilding of the “house that is holy” The Temple in Jerusalem.

5.) For me the Bayt Hamigdash, the house that is holy, is my home.

6.) We see in the 21st Chapter of Revelation a vision for the 21st Century.

7.) What about a Third Temple?

8.) See the gray highlight in JANT page 496.

9.) Is The temple an anachronism?

10. Time to discuss the Aria Broken and Stained Glass.

Happy 2013. The scroll still unrolls, the conversation continues in 2014.