A Blessing

beit_midrashI am about to commence a series of posts here about the Parable of the Prodigal Son, designed (I hope) as a framework for interfaith dialog.

I attended a religious retreat last weekend, and it occurred to me there that we might want to begin this study with a bracha, a prayer or blessing. I know that it’s common in both Jewish and Christian circles (and doubtless in other religious traditions) to begin study of sacred texts with a prayer. But I’ve never heard of this being done in interfaith dialog. So while on retreat, I asked a rabbi what would be appropriate, when a Jew begins interfaith study of scripture outside of the Jewish canon. She suggested that I look at the bracha said upon entering the Beit Midrash, the house of study.

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Goodness From Sweden

In 2013, I will try to post more often, with short pieces as well as my usual massive tomes. I’ll also point to other good stuff I find on the web.

Here is an excellent piece by Karin Zetterholm of Lund University, where she gives us her explanation for how Jews interpret the Bible, something she says “appears puzzling to many people with a background in Protestant Christian tradition.” Zetterholm writes that from a Jewish point of view, “what God desires is active human participation in interpreting his word, resulting in a transformed, refined product.”

Worth reading!

Quest for the Historical Jesus (Part 5: Le Donne and the Remembered Jesus)

imagesThis is the final piece in my series about the historical Jesus. You can read the first four parts of this series here, here, here and here. In this last part, I’m going to sum it all up, not just how we understand the historical Jesus, but how we can talk about him in interfaith dialog. I will do this with a discussion of Anthony Le Donne’s book Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know It?

But this isn’t going to be easy.

For one thing, Le Donne is a thorough-going, card-carrying postmodernist, and postmodernists are a pain in the neck to write about. One reason postmodernists are a pain in the neck is that they’re having more fun being postmodernist than you’re having trying to understand them. Think of postmodernism as Groucho Marx playing the college president in “Horse Feathers”, mocking the faculty with what may be the best song in the Marx repertoire:

Your proposition may be good
But let’s have one thing understood
Whatever it is, I’m against it!
And even when you’ve changed it
Or condensed it
I’m against it!

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