Thursday, October 15, 2009

God of their fathers ( Eph. 2 )

Max I. Dimont was such a good writer that you could almost overlook his unbelief in God. His book The Jews, God, and History describes the successful inroads that Judaism made in the Roman Empire. Preserving and deepening their cultural identity through the Babylonian Captivity and the following diaspora [1] equipped them with traditions and organizations that allowed them to remain themselves wherever they roamed. Get ten Jewish men together, a minyan, and you could have formal synagogue worship services. Else, you could have an informal "place of prayer." 

The Jewish religion looked pretty good to sophisticated Greeks and Romans who'd grown weary of overlooking, explaining away, or burlesequing the lewd, obscene, antics of their deities. At least the God of the Jews didn't rape betrothed virgins, or demand that worshipers sacrifice their children.[2] By the time the first century AD rolled around, Dimont wrote, approximately one out of every seven subjects of the Roman Empire were attending synagogue services. Some were proselytes. Others, who were squeamish about elective surgery, were "God-fearers." If you were not a full-scale Jew, your prayers began "O God of their faithers."[3] When you went to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel, you did so from the Court of the Gentiles -- if you could find a place to pray in the midst of a livestock auction, commercial emporium, and banking establishment. 

SO we had this dispersion of smug insiders, surrounded by wanna-bees. Then we had Paul showing up to upset the status quo, by asserting that the old distinctions were now obsolete:

    Eph 2:11 Bunun için, öteki uluslardan doğan sizler bir zamanlar ne olduğunuzu anımsayın: Bedende elle yapılmış sünnete sahip olup "sünnetli" diye anılanların "sünnetsiz" dedikleri sizler,
    Eph 2:12 o zaman Mesihsiz, İsrail'de vatandaşlıktan yoksun, vaade dayanan antlaşmalara yabancı, dünyada umutsuz ve tanrısızdınız.
    Eph 2:13 Ama bir zamanlar uzak olan sizler, şimdi Mesih İsa'da Mesih'in kanı sayesinde yakın kılındınız.
    Eph 2:14-16 Çünkü Mesih'in kendisi barışımızdır. Kutsal Yasa'yı, buyrukları ve kurallarıyla birlikte etkisiz kılarak iki topluluğu birleştirdi, aradaki engel duvarını, yani düşmanlığı kendi bedeninde yıktı. Amacı bu iki topluluktan kendisinde yeni bir insan yaratarak esenliği sağlamak, düşmanlığı çarmıhta öldürmek ve çarmıh aracılığıyla bir bedende iki topluluğu Tanrı'yla barıştırmaktı.
    Eph 2:17 O gelip hem uzakta olan sizlere hem de yakındakilere esenliği müjdeledi.
    Eph 2:18 O'nun aracılığıyla hepimiz tek Ruh'ta Baba'nın huzuruna çıkabiliriz.
    Eph 2:19 Böylece artık yabancı ve garip değil, kutsallarla birlikte yurttaş ve Tanrı'nın ev halkısınız.

OK, time for a few words:

    • o zaman -- at that time 
  • Mesihsiz -- without the Messiah
    • İsrail'de vatandaşlıktan yoksun -- of Israel / a citizen / you were not
  • artık -- now
  • yabancı -- foreigner. Alien. 
  • garip -- stranger
  • kutsallarla --  with the saints (kutsal - holy. -lar- plural. The saints. -la with)
  • birlikte -- united, at one with (bir - one. -lik- pertaining of the characteristics of. -te with, on, at)
  • yurttaş -- household. A yurt, you'll recall, is a round tent.
    • Tanrı'nın ev -- God's house
  • halkısınız -- you are people 

In Jesus, and through His ongoing work, God makes us one. It's sad that there exists a strain of belief in many American Christians that we should distinguish between those whom God has made one, and imagine that unbelieving Jews have a special status of some kind with God.


[1] A scattering, as in when you broadcast seed. Spore = seed. This term refers to ethnic groups that preserve their identities without benefit of homeland. The first, primary, reference is to the wandering Jews who drifted around the world as cultural aliens for nearly 2,000 years. To refer to other groups with a similar experience, you need to add an adjective: the overseas Chinese disaspora, for example.

[2] This is a G-rated blog, so decency precludes discussion of how the earth mother Cybele was worshipped!

[3] "Oh" is a generic exclamation. "O" is "vocative." You use O to invoke one of higher status, such as God, or the king. 

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