Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Arthur Conan Doyle: His Muses and How They Amused Him

Arthur Conan Doyle created a literary icon, Sherlock Holmes, the quintessential detective who utilized his ingenious methodology of analyzing the facts and through a priori reasoning solved the 56 cases Doyle wrote about swiftly.
Doyle credited his antecedents Edgar Allen Poe, Wilkie Collins and Emile Gaboriau; as his muses.
In Collins' masterpiece "The Moonstone" Sergeant Cuff
Mr. Bruff hired a boy Gooseberry to stand watch for Luker. Likewise, Holmes hired street urchins to aid in his pursuit in "A Study in Scarlet"
Godfrey Applewhite in disguise received the Moonstone the night it disappeared from the heiress' room.
In "Monsieur Lecoq" Lecoq examined footprints in the snow outside a bar and ascertained by their strides the height and size of feet of several of the main characters involved in a triple murder. Lecoq meticulously followed the patterns of their adventures both during and after the crime. He spent over four hours tracing their footpaths.
Eventually their trail ended on a highway and through his deductive reasoning Lecoq brilliantly formed a theory about the females who were escaping the crime scene.
The perpetrator of the murder May was finally allowed to escape and Lecoq disguised himself as a street gamin to pursue May unbeknownst to him.
Finally after a long ordeal May jumped a fence at a palatial estate and Lecoq couldn't figure out what happened to him.
Eventually he went to seek counsel from Monsieur Tabaret who aided the French police when they couldn't solve a crime.
Tabaret advised Lecoq, "Always distrust appearances; believe precisely the contrary of what appears true, or even probable."
In conclusion Tabaret prophetically summarized his methodology, "Always distrust what seems probable."
These influential detective stories served as the models for Doyle's creation of Holmes and his methodology. Doyle wrote in his "Through the Magic Door" that if I had to name a few books which have really influenced my own life I should have to put Poe's fall of the House of Usher second only to Macaulay's Essays. I read it young when my mind was plastic. It stimulated my imagination and set before me a supreme dignity and force in the methods of telling a story." He hailed Poe as the master in deployment of "strength, novelty, compactness, intensity of interest, and a single vivid impression left upon my mind." He was "the supreme original short story writer of all time. His brain was like a seed-pod full of seeds which flew carelessly around, and from which sprung nearly all our modern types of stories. Just think of what he did in his off-hand, prodigal fashion, seldom troubling to repeat a success, but pushing on to some new achievement. To him must be ascribed the monstrous progeny of writers on the detection of crime -- 'quorum pars parva fui!' " This is in reference to Aeneas when he said to Dido about the Trojan war and its close was "quorum magna pars fui" (of which things I was a great part) according to Owen Dudley Edwards in his book "The Quest for Sherlock Holmes" When Doyle visited the United State in 1894 he insisted to the New York "Herald" interviewer that Poe's detective and not his own was the greatest in literature. In "A Study in Scarlet" Holmes tells Watson "No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin...Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends' thoughts with an apropos remark after of a quarter of an hour's silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine" and then goes on to describe Gaboriau's Lecoq as "a miserable bungler...That book made me positively ill." Arthur Guitermann's rhyme "The Case of the Inferior Sleuth" mocked Doyle: "Holmes is your hero of drama and serial; All of us know where you dug the material Whence he was moulded - 'tis almost a platitude; Yet your detective, in shameless ingratitude -- Sherlock your sleuthhound with motives ulterior Sneers at Poe's Dupin as "very inferior!" Labels Gaboriau's clever "Lecoq", indeed Merely a 'bungler', a creature to mock, indeed! This, when your plots and your methods in story owe More than a trifle to Poe and Gaboriau, Sets all the Muses of Helicon sorrowing. Borrow, Sir Knight, but be decent in borrowing!" Doyle's response entitled "To an Undiscerning Critic" "Have you not learned, my esteemed commentator, That the created is not the creator? As the creator I've praised to satiety Poe's Monsieur Dupin, his skill and variety, And have admitted that in my detective work I owe to my model a deal of selective work. But is it not on the verge of insanity To put down to me my creation's crude vanity? He, the created, would scoff and would sneer, Where I, the creator, would bow and revere. So please grip this fact with your cerebral tentacle: The doll and its maker are never identical." Another influential writer for Doyle was Robert Louis Stevenson, according to Jacqueline A. Jaffe, who wrote "Arthur Conan Doyle." "Robert Louis Stevenson was and continued to be one of Doyle's most important models; he held both Stevenson's philosophy and his writing in great esteem. His regard for Stevenson as a theorist is evident with the similarity of their literary concerns and the coincidence of certain themes in their works. His respect for Stevenson as a craftsman can be more clearly seen in the obituary Doyle wrote for the "National Review." "He describes Stevenson, along with Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, as one of the three greatest short-story writers of the 19th Century. Even the personal philosophies of Stevenson and Doyle were remarkably similar; they both felt that physical activity verging on actual hardship was intrinsically exciting, and that this excitement imposed a reality of its own that was more important than internal motivation, or, as Robert Keily says of Robert Louis Stevenson, that "motion counted more than direction." (from his biography "Robert Louis Stevenson" "Furthermore, they both felt that the power of the imagination was supreme and should be used to transport the reader away from the all-too-grim reality that comprised ordinary life. Certainly Stevenson's comment 'As I live I feel more and more that literature should be cheerful and brave spirited, even if it cannot be made beautiful and pious and heroic," could be taken as Doyle's dictum. Doyle achieved his first critical success in July 1883, when "Cornhill" magazine bought his story "Habakuk Jephson's Statement". Doyle wanted the accolade of being accepted by James Payn, the demanding editor of that prestigious magazine. He also desperately wanted to be in the company of other writers that he admired, and the "Cornhill" formerly edited by Thackeray and the publication that had printed Edgar Allan Poe's stories, and more recently, the works of Stevenson, provided access to this inner sanctum of literary excellence. James Payn, "the warden," as Doyle described him, of "the sacred gate", was to be a mentor whose influence was to be felt in all Doyle's works for most of his life. As an early indication of Payn's standing with Doyle, he tells us that "(what) for the first time made me realize that I was ceasing to be a hack writer and was getting into good company when James Payn accepted my short story." After the publication of "A Study in Scarlet" Doyle claimed that the character of the detective was largely inspired by his recollections of one of his medical school teachers, Dr. Joseph Bell. Dr. Bell's famous exhortations to the students to use their inductive and deductive powers before making a diagnosis was no dContinoubt a factor in Doyle's creation of Holmes, but the literary antecedents, the detectives created by Eugene Vidocq, Edgar Allan Poe, Emile Gaboriau, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, are clearly the true sources for Holmes. In "Arthur Conan Doyle, A Memoir" the Rev. John Lamond, wrote, "Whilst studying under Dr. Joseph Bell in Edinburgh, and acting as his out-patient clerk, young Doyle was often startled by the extraordinary deductions made by that celebrated surgeon from simple attitude or movement on the part of the patient which had entirely escaped Conan Doyle's own observation and the observation of his fellow students. He reports one special case in which these deductions were correct. A civilian patient had been brought in. "Well, my man," said Dr. Bell, "you've served in the army." "Aye,sir." "Not long discharged?" "Aye, sir." "A Highland regiment?" "Aye, sir." "A non-com officer?" "Aye, sir. "Stationed at Barbados?" "Aye, sir." "You see, gentlemen," he would explain, "the man was a respectful man, but he did not remove his hat. They do not in the army, but he would have learned civilian ways had he been long discharged. He has an air of authority and is obviously Scottish. As to Barbados his complaint about elephantiasis, which is West Indian and not British." According to Lamond, "It was this rapid deduction from some simple circumstances as applied to the detection of crime that Conan Doyle developed on the part of Sherlock Holmes, and which has led to the formation of several schools of detectives founded on this method." Also mention his mother's influence and the black man he met on the ship.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


"Rcckon we'll ever be normal?" Charley "Pretty Boy" Floyd asked his accomplice in a bank robbery.
"I don't know about you, bud," Birdwell said. "I am normal. I been pretty much normal ever since I was born."
"Applesauce," Charley said. "You ain't a bit normal."
"We just watched a ball game," Birdwell pointed out. "Ain't that normal."
"Not if you rob a bank first, it ain't," Charley said. "If all we done was watch baseball, that'd be normal."
"But robbin' the bank was normal, too," Birdwell insisted. "We're bandits -- bandits gotta rob something, and banks are a helluva lot easier than trains."
"How would you know?" Charley asked him. "The James boys robbed trains. I guess we could too, if we tried."
"I did try, once," Birdwell told him. "That damn train wouldn't stop. The engineer didn't have the imagination to figure out I was trying to rob him.
"Banks ain't moving objects," he added. "That's why I favor banks and there's another thing to consider."
"What?" Charley asked.
"Most normal folks is bored shitless," Birdwell informed him. "They just sit around the house watchin' the grass grow, yellin' at each other, mostly."
Have you ever met a normal person?
Most of us think we're either normal and everybody else is an oddball, or we know we're not normal and we're still looking for a normal person.
I've never watched a ball game after robbing a bank, so maybe that qualifies me as being normal.
Normally I watch ball games while sipping on a tall cool one.
Football season is just 11 days away and then all of us Razorback football fanatics will be spending every Saturday in front of the boob tube hoping the Hogs flip their season around from last year's debacle and turn 4-8 into 8-4.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Jesus Christ conundrum: Why the Jews didn't acknowledge Yeshu ha'Notzi as the Messiah

The most perplexing conundrum regarding the Bible to a devout Christian is why didn't God's chosen people, i.e. the Jews, accept God's plan of sending his Son Jesus Christ as the Messiah?
To Jews who studied the scriptures Jesus did not measure up to their conception of what the Messiah was supposed to fulfill upon his earthly presence.
They anticipated according to 12th century Spanish rabbi Moses Maimonides in his "Laws Concerning the Installation of Kings":
"The Messiah will arise and restore the kingdom of David to its former might. He will rebuild the sanctuary and gather the dispersed of Israel. All the laws will be reinstated in his days as of old. Sacrifices will be offered and the Sabbatical and Jubilee years will be observed exactly in accordance with the commandments of the Torah. But whoever does not believe in him or does not await his coming denies not only the rest of the prophets, but also the Torah and our teacher Moses.
"Do not think that the Messiah needs to perform signs and miracles. bring about a new state of things in the world, revive the dead, and the like. It is not so....Rather it is the case in these matters that the statutes of our Torah are valid forever and eternally. Nothing can be added to them or taken away from them.
"And if there arise a king from the House of David who meditates on the Torah and practices its commandments like his ancestor David in accordance with the Written and Oral Law, prevails upon all Israel to walk in the ways of the Torah, and fights the battles of the Lord, then one may properly assume that he is the Messiah.
"If he is then successful in rebuilding the sanctuary on its site and in gathering the dispersed of Israel, then he has in fact (as a result of his success) proven himself to be the Messiah. He will then arrange the whole world to serve only God, as it is said: "For then shall I create a pure language for the peoples that they may call upon the name of God and serve him with one accord." (Zeph. 3:9).
Suffice it to say, none of these occurred during Jesus' one-year preaching, teaching and witnessing to those who came in contact with him.
Initially, when Jesus began his ministry around the year 28, teaching in the synagogue in his hometown, Nazareth, the congregation at first, "spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth." (Luke 4:22).
Then, on hearing more of his preaching, "all in the synagogue were filled with wrath." (Luke 4:28).
Other Jews were moved to follow him, and on one occasion his disciples and others stood about as he sat on a mountain -- the Sermon on the Mount -- at which "the crowds were astonished...for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes."(Matthew 7:28-29)
When Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees, a Jewish faction, "went out, and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him." (Mark 3:6)
When Jesus seeks to justify himself, citing the authority of God, his "Father," then " the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal to God." (John 5:16)
The trial of Jesus and his subsequent crucifixion contributed to hatred of the Jews who were blamed for this tragic moment which sparked a new religion, Christianity following the "resurrection" of Jesus.
 According to Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser in his book "Judaism and the Christian Predicament", on pages 211-243: "Pontius Pilate played the central role in the tragedy of the crucifixion...
"The Gospels, read carefully, offer many indication that the drama surrounding the execution and arrest of Jesus was part of the larger drama of the Roman endeavor to crush Jewish resistance to Roman rule."
In the gospel of Mark 14:43-72, 15:1-15, the arrest of Jesus occurs: "And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the 12, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, 'The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him and lead him away safely.' And when he came, he went up to him at once, and said 'Master!' And he kissed him, And they laid hands on him and seized him...
"And they led Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders were assembled....Now, the chief priest, and the whole counsel sought testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none....And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 'We heard him say, I will destroy this Temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.'
"Yet not even so did their testimony agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, 'Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?' But he was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, 'Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed?' And Jesus said: 'I am; and you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.'
"And the high priest tore his mantle, and said, 'Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?' And they all condemned him as deserving death...And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes and the whole counsel held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, 'Are you the King of the Jews?' And he answered him 'You have said so.' And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, 'Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.'
"But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered. Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in their insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. And he answered them, 'Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?' For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, 'Then what shall I do with the man whom you call King of the Jews?'
"And they cried out again, 'Crucify him.' And Pilate said to them 'Why, what evil has he done?' But they shouted all the more, 'Crucify him.' So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified."
Jesus' Judgment Day occurred in controversial circumstances. The only people who know what really occurred met behind closed doors, but here's what's been written:
Following his arrest, Jesus is alleged to have been taken to the residence of the High Priest, where he was tried that very night by the council -- the synedrion, as it is called in the Greek original -- with the High Priest acting in the role of presiding officer. But the details of this trial present many irregularities according to Rabbi Bokser who in his chapter "The Perversion of History" in his book "Judaism and the Christian Predicament" on page 217 wrote:
"If the proceedings had been concluded during the night session, why did the council deliberate again "as soon as it was morning"? More baffling is the divergence of this account from the record describing the procedure by which the Sanhedrin conducted its sessions, which has been preserved in the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 4:1). Here the court is described as sitting only in the daytime, and never on a day of a festival or a day preceding a festival. It is unthinkable that the Sanhedrin would have met on the night of Passover. The Roman authorities themselves exempted Jews from appearing before Roman courts on Sabbaths and festivals and on days preceding them. The Mishnah rules, too, that a verdict of guilty in a capital case could not be promulgated the same day. It was to be deferred for the day following. The procedure also required that the trial begin with a consideration of circumstances favorable to the defendant, and only subsequently was the prosecution to be presented."
As Hugo Mantel has recently shown in "Studies in the History of the Sanhedrin) on pp. 176 ff., 254: "All the evidence in rabbinic sources, moreover, indicates that the presiding officer of the Sanhedrin was a Pharisaic scholar, not the High Priest, and that this Sanhedrin never met in the residence of the High Priest. Its regular meeting place was in the "Gazit" chamber in the Temple precincts."
The Sanhedrin is alleged to have found Jesus guilty of "blasphemy." This is a grave offense in biblical and rabbinic law, punishable by death. If Jesus had really been charged and found guilty of blasphemy according to Rabbi Bokser on page 218: "Most scholars are in agreement that the Jewish courts of that time were competent to impose the death penalty for capital offenses, if of a religious nature. Indeed, according to the Gospel of John, Pilate suggested to the deputation of the High Priest that Jesus be dealt with by the Jews themselves. They replied that it was not within their authority to execute anyone (John 18:31). But how could Pilate have suggested that they perform an act which Roman law itself had forbidden? Pilate's statement becomes intelligible if we assume that he originally judged the complaint against Jesus as religious in nature and therefore asked that the Jewish authorities assume jurisdiction. Some commentators have also found it strange that here (John 18:62) Jesus is quoted as making a public acknowledgment of his messiahship. This runs counter to the general plan of the Gospel of Mark, according to which the messiahship of Jesus was a secret known only to the chosen few, which was to become common knowledge only after the crucifixion.
"We face a more serious difficulty in comprehending the behavior of Pilate, the Jewish leaders, and the Jerusalem crowd. Pilate is here portrayed as a weak but kindly man, one who has a strong sense of equity but who allows outside pressures to deflect him from doing what is right. He is described as convinced that Jesus is innocent and is anxious to release him, but the crowd, instigated by the Jewish authorities, presses him to execute Jesus, and he yields to them."
In conclusion upon these highly controversial consequences suffice it to conclude, according to Rabbi Bokser on page 243 of his book: "The crucifixion of Jesus was an incident in the Roman oppression of the Jewish people. Some Jewish leaders were involved in the events, but they were colonial administrators serving under an occupation government; they were an auxiliary element in the Roman administration. They did not represent their own people; they were, in fact, part of the apparatus by which the Roman administration operated. Jesus was crucified because his movement threatened the stabilility of the existing order, and the existing order in this context was the political order which presided the Roman procurator. The initiative for the action against Jesus in an ultimate sense, however the consequence of events really occurred, was with the Romans whose order was threatened, and not with the Jews who, as a people, were themselves the victims of that order.
Those who converted to Christianity followed the teachings of Paul and didn't let the Jewish scenario interfere with their new-found faith.
In his book "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus" David Klinghoffer opines: "The Jews rejected the Christian claim for Jesus in large part because God wanted then to see the true Messiah in Jesus, if in fact their eternal salvation was dependent on their making this identification, then He would have made it much clearer, far less open to doubt. God is fair.
"To think he wants Jesus to abandon the Torah and its commandments on the basis of an interpretation of the prophets that seems so tenuous."
Klinghoffer continues, "Even as some Jews argued with one another about philosophy, others argued with Christians. The latter charged that Judaism denied reason, while Jews maintained that the belief in Jesus simply wasn't logical. Here it was possible for the bitterly clashing opponents to argue on equal ground.
"There were two articles of Christian faith that Jews objected to with particular vigor: the Trinity and the Incarnation. In advocating these, Christians asked Jews to embrace beliefs that both contradicted logic and denied certain basic principles about God. Contradictions of that kind, the Jews said, they could not accept."
Jesus' Jewish contemporaries had every reason to scoff at his pretensions, since he did not live up to their minimal criteria for what a messiah was supposed to do -- which was first and foremost to liberate the land and people of Israel from foreign oppression...he failed to meet Judaism's evidentiary standards.
According to Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser in his book "Judaism and the Christian Predicament",  "The Gospel accounts disclose to us that Jesus lived and died as a Jew, within the framework of Jewish belief and Jewish practice."
In Rudolf Butmann's book "Form Criticism": "It must remain questionable whether Jesus regarded himself as the messiah, and did not rather first become messiah in the faith of his community (page 71).
On page 183-184, Bultmann maintains, "A detailed examination of the teachings of Jesus disclosed him to have been within the mainstream of the living tradition of Judaism. The pioneer of critical studies in the Old and New Testaments, Julius Wellhausen categorically declared: "Jesus was not a Christian; he was a Jew. He did not preach a new faith, but taught men to do the will of God; and in his opinion, as also in that of the Jews, the will of God was found in the Law of Moses and in the other books of Scripture." (Wellhausen's "Einleitung in die drei ersten Evangelien, page 113).
"Wellhausen's judgment on the Jewishness of Jesus is fully supported by modern scholarship."
So, how do Jews evaluate who Jesus was?
Jesus is revealed as a former student of Torah who went seriously off the rails and became a spiritual danger to the people Israel.
His mother was Miriam (Mary), a women's hairdresser who was married but conceived the baby Yeshu by another man, Pandira, according to R. Travers Herford in "Christianity in Talmud and Midrash".
About Miriam, it is said that she was of a royal bloodline but "played the harlot with carpenters," suggesting that it was the paramour, Pandira, who was the carpenter -- not Jesus's adoptive father, Joseph, as in the Gospel story, according to a tractate "Sanhedrin" in the Talmud.
Yeshu grew up to be a disciple of a great rabbi, Joshua ben Perachya. On a certain occasion Yeshu and Joshua ben Perachya were staying at an inn. They had a disagreement about a term the mentor used and the teacher took offense and cast him out of Rabbi Joshua's circle.
He was rebuffed on numerous occasions. Finally he went away and started his teachings which were heretical to fellow devout Jews.
At the end of this narrative, the Talmud gives the outcome thusly, "Yeshu ha'Notzri practiced magic and led astray and deceived Israel.
The prophecies in Isaiah 2:4: "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares...nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore," did not reach its fruition during Jesus' time on earth.
In Isaiah 52:13 reads, "Behold, My servant will succeed; he will be exalted and become high and exceedingly lofty," a 12th century commentator David Kimchi retorted, "the only place that Jesus was lifted up and exalted was the tree on which they hung him."
Another passage, Micah 5:1, held messianic significance to both Jews and Christians prophesying that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem: "Bethlehem -- Ephratah -- you are too small to be among the thousands of Judah, but from you someone will emerge for Me to be a ruler over Israel..."
Jesus wasn't a ruler over Israel, or as Kimchi responded, "He did not govern Israel but they governed him" which was in reference to the way the Jewish authorities treated Jesus harshly in his final hours, who either killed him themselves (the Talmud's version) or connived with the Romans to do so (the New Testament Gospels' version). This transcription appeared in Frank Talmadge's "Disputation and Dialogue: Readings in the Jewish-Christian Encounter."
One of the most problematic Christian dogmas, the Trinity is antipathetic to the Jews' belief in God's Oneness, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is the One and Only." (Deut. 6:4)
The early Christians believed in a duality of God, the Father and the Son, which Talmudic rabbis railed against. The Trinity emerged with the Nicene Creed in 325.
Maimonides contemptibly wrote in "Guide of the Perplexed", p.27: "Those that believe that God is One, and that He has many attributes, declare the unity with their lips, and assume plurality in their thoughts. This is like the doctrine of the Christians, who say that He is one and He is three, and that the three are one."
Jesus' Incarnation drew the most scorn from Jews. Rabbi Hasdai Crescas, a 14th century Spanish philosopher wrote in "The Refutation of Christian Principles," on page 35: "Even if we posit that God can become incarnate, this redemption is impossible."
The historian Gershom Scholem writes in "The Messianic Idea in Judaism" "The pages of the Talmud tractate Sanhedrin which deal with the Messianic age drive toward the point that the Messiah will come only in an age which is either totally pure or totally guilty and corrupt."
According to Rabbi Dr. Ben Zion Bokser in his book "Judaism and the Christian Predicament" on pages 161-162, "The Bible affirms the hope that the travail of the centuries will finally bear fruit, that the world will respond to the leadership of God's chosen witness and emmissary, the people of Israel. The world will finally learn to acknowledge God as King over all the earth, and build a world community faithful to the demands of His sovereignty. Sometimes the Bible links this hope with the mediating work of the messiah, a term which means literally an "anointed one," an allusion to the ancient practice of investing a leader in his office by a ceremony of anointment.
"Kings Saul, David and Zedekiah, and even a pagan king, Cyrus the Persian, are called in the Bible meshiah, from which derives the term messiah.
"In other instances the Bible does not refer to a mediating leader, but speaks directly of a golden age of the future which would climax historic development by inaugurating a world order of universal enlightenment and peace (Isaiah 2 and Micah 4).
"It is the messianic hope that inspires the all-pervading optimism of the Hebrew Bible. The present was often bitter and disillusioning, but the biblical writers were always animated by the faith that history was moving, by slow and sometimes faltering steps, away from idolatry and falsehood and unrighteousness toward the ascendant triumph of enlightenment, justice, mercy and peace."
Continuing Dr. Bokser on pages 169-170 writes, "The Rabbis elaborated on the biblical hope for the ultimate triumph of God's plan for human life. These elaborations flow in diverse directions, sometimes not charted by the Bible. The biblical formation of this hope often occurred at a time when the Jewish people was set on its own soil, living as a nation among nations. This hope therefore accented the universal note, the larger liberation of all mankind...The Jewish hope, as expressed by the Rabbis, remained faithful to the biblical ideal. It was a hope for a change in the historical order, for a change in the lives of men and nations. "The messianic age will differ from the present order in the absence of oppressive empires," one Sage declared (Berakot 34b). The messianic age will be characterized, in other words, by a prevalence of freedom and the absence of oppressive violence."
Furthermore, Dr. Bokser writes on pages 333 and 334, "The belief that man's salvation can be effected only by God's "self-sacrifice," by the blood of the crucified Jesus, is for the Jew a reversion to the primitive, which he cannot reconcile with his conviction that "clean hands a pure heart" (Psalms 24:4) is all a man needs to come before his Maker.
"Judaism teaches a belief in the Messiah, but what is primary in the messianic faith in Judaism is its historical content. The core of this belief is the vision of a new world order of justice, freedom, and peace to replace the epoch of oppression of man by man and nation by nation."
Martin Buber in "Two Types of Faith" differentiated the Jewish and Christian conceptions of the messiah in these terms: "If we wish to reduce the schism between Jews and Christians, between Israel and the Church, to a formula, we can say: The Church stands on the belief in the 'having come' of Christ as the God-given redemption of man.
"We Israel, are incapable of believing this. The Church views our declaration either as a case of not wanting to believe, as a very questionable sort of obduracy, or else as a kind of curse, as a basic limitation on the ability to recognize reality, as the blinding of Israel which prevents it from seeing the light...But we...know...that the world has not yet been redeemed. We know it as surely as we know that the air we breathe exists...We apprehend the unredeemedness of the world...For us, the redemption of the world is indivisibly equated with the completion of creation, with the erection of a unity no longer hindered by anything, no longer suffering any contradiction, realized in all the multiplicity of the world, equated, in short, with the fulfillment of the kingdom of God. We are incapable of comprehending anticipation of the consummate redemption of the world, in any partial respect, such as the soul's already being redeemed, however much redeeming and becoming redeemed manifest themselves to us too much in our mortal hours."
Thus, in conclusion for Jews Jesus was not the Messiah they envisioned.
He did not bring back an indwelling of the dispersed Jews.
He did not rebuild the Temple.
He did not reign over Israel as its Davidic-like King.
He did not institute world peace and harmony amongst men.
But his teachings, preachings, healings, resurrections of two dead and his crucifixion and resurrection which are documented in the four epistles, eventually spawned a new religion, Christianity.
To Christians Jesus was the Messiah.
To Jews, they're still awaiting a messianic age.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Yeshu ha'Notzri conundrum

Why did the Jews not acquiesce and recognize Jesus of Nazareth, Yeshu ha'Notzri) as the Messiah?
They based their messianic scenario on Ezekiel 36, 37: 1) gathering of exiles; 2) reign of the Messianic King, a la David; 3)a new convenant characterized by scrupulous observance of the commandments; 4) eternal peace; 5)a new Temple; and 6) the nations recognize God.
None of these transpired during Jesus' time on earth.
Moses Maimonides, made clear in his "Mishneh Torah" a discussion of Jesus appears in the censored 11th chapter "Hilchot Melachim.
The predominate attitude among the most influential Jewish teachers. Jesus is revealed as a former student of Torah who went seriously off the rails and became a spiritual danger to the people Israel.
His mother was Miriam (Mary), a women's hairdresser, who was married but conceived the baby Yeshu by another man, Pandira -- hence one of Jesus's alternative designations in the Talmud, "Ben Pandira", the son of Pandira."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hostess Twinkies sells out

One of the icons of delicacies, those scrumpdelacious Hostess Twinkies recently declared bankruptcy.
Two buyers made their bids and are going to jointly own the Hostess brand.
The owner of Carl's Jr. and Hardees and the owner of Pabst Blue Ribbon will be the joint partners marketing Twinkies.
Let's just hope they don't decide to add blue food coloring so they can be known as PBT (Pabst Blue Twinkies)!
When I first received my food stamps that's one of the first delicacies I purchased. While I was still camping out in a tent I felt like a king with my Twinkies!
I remember when I worked at Wally World in Bentonville some of the cashiers bad-mouthed people on food stamps who would buy shrimp and other expensive meats.
But you have to be in need to receive food stamps.
I noticed in an article about Paul Ryan's grandiose budget cutting scenario it would impact food stamp program.
I don't think there will be a consensus to stamp out food stamps, pun intended.
Nevertheless, our corporate world continues to consolidate and big companies gobble up other big companies.
Oh, well, at least Twinkies should be twinkling back on the shelves at grocery stories. And we celebrate with a beer, a burger and a Twinkie.
I remember when some gook used the Twinkie defense in his murder trial. He said he consumed too many Twinkies and lost control of himself.
And others blame their obesity on too many Big Macs.
The world is full of baloney heads!
I'll just stick to Twinkies again when I receive my first Social Security benefits.
Twinkie, Twinkie, little stars, how I wonder where you are.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dear Abby

One of the icons of journalism posted her last -30- last week.
Abigail Van Buren, nee Pauline Phillips, expiration date ran out last Thursday.
Biblically speaking Pauline adopted the pen name Abigail after the prophetess in the Book of Samuel ("Then David said to Abigail 'Blessed is your advice and  blessed are you' ") and Van Buren for its presidential heritage. Her first column appeared on Jan. 9, 1956, in The San Francisco Chronicle. She received compensation of $20 per week.
Her twin sister, Esther Lederer, earlier wrote as Ann Landers for The Chicago Sun-Times. She was swamped by letters and asked for advice from her sister.
She was forbade from sending letters out of the office so Pauline made inquires from the Chronicle.
Eventually a sibling rivalry ensued and they weren't on speaking terms for five years.
Abby tersely dispensed advise with a quick wit.
In 1976 she confided to People magazine that she had gone to see an X-rated movie. Her sister also wanted to venture forth to see it but was afraid of being recognized.
"How did you get away with it?" Landers queried Dear Abby.
"Well," Dear Abby quipped, "I just put on my dark glasses and my Ann Landers wig and went!"
They established themselves and the quintessential gossip columnists.
Ironically the Super Bowl pans out as a similar battle royale between two brotherly combatants, Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers, and John Herbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens.
Ironically, the Ravens garnered their mascot from the avian in Edgar Allen Poe's poem "The Raven."
And that most famous line, "Nevermore," might be wiped out if the Ravens can repeat their Super Bowl feat by capturing their second title.
It should be a defensive tussle. Don't expect John and Jim to talk to each other much until after the Super Him(baugh) Bowl.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Linus, Luke Christmas

Let's all have a Charles Schultz Christmas.
Charlie Brown asked Linus, "What's the true meaning of Christmas?"
Linus dropped his blanket and waltzed over to a Bible and quoted Luke 2:8-11: "And there were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
"And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.
"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
We watched this video at Central Methodist church during community meals.
That glorious message has nothing to do with Santa Claus or gift giving or decorating a tree or feasting on turkey and ham and dressing.
Jesus is the reason for the season!
We celebrate the birth of Jesus and his mission on Earth: To spread love. Work miracles. Love your enemy as you love yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Then, he endured the penultimate sacrifice. His life. He died to save us of our sins.
Then God performed the greatest miracle and Jesus' human body was resurrected.
The apostles witnessed this and spread the word founding a new religion based on Jesus' and God's love for us.
Our mission should complement Jesus'.
We should spread love throughout our daily lives with everyone we meet.
We should be missionaries converting others or just sharing our life experiences and being a good role model to praise God.
Red Skelton once said: "God blesses us all with a talent. When we utilize that talent that's a blessing to God."
My talent is writing. My New Year's resolution is to continue this blog and hopefully expand it into a book.
I'm just counting down the days when I receive my Social Security benefits and can afford a laptop.
So, everyone have a Joseph and Mary Christmas!