Introducing Coalescence

by Reverend Dr. Robert M. Zanicky

Hello, my name is Rev. Bob.  If you are reading this, and/or listening to this you know (or have the wherewithal to find out who I am and where I minister.  This is my first attempt at “blogging”.  I have no doubt it will come easier, and will become more fluid, as I “learn the ropes.”

My personal expectation in developing this “blog”, is to share my thinking about various contemporary and historic issues, and to endeavor to coalesce; past and present into a unifying conception for consideration.  Without doubt, the coalescence will fluctuate depending on the subject, and on the ability of the “blogger”.

I approach this opportunity  with anticipation, and a little apprehension.  The latter, first.  Often, there will be an excess of missing material, compared to the meager offerings.  But, I will persist!

My anticipation is on a more intense level.  With the internet at our fingertips, a plethora of articles, reviews, opinions, essays, and ebooks, await our consideration!  Of course one must (should) discriminate among “what is out there.”  This democratization, challenges us to intelligently and carefully “know” our sources.  Of course, even a “bad”, an “inferior”, an “ignorant” position, might be of value in engaging its propositions.  Some learning might take place, along with a good dismissal.

Nevertheless, I will pursue those writings, videos, and recordings that meet a certain level of competency, and intellectual allure.  As the Gospel of John closes, the author sums up the veracity of his testimony, and then adds,

“But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world could not contain the books that would be written.”

To be fair, the author could not imagine the room on the internet.  He did though, a compelling job on interpreting his world in the “light” of this Word (Logos); of coalescing this wondrous story of incarnation with how this world is to be understood, lived, and appropriately enjoyed.

All those “many other things” of the “Logos”, remain to be searched, considered, and coalesced.

Coalescence

“Rabbi, Catholic Deacon, Minister”

A Rabbi, a Catholic Deacon, and a Minister walk into a bar in Jerusalem.  They sit down together, order drinks and dinner.  Conversation ensues…

That’s it!  No punch line, unless, the real punch line is that those three, actually journeyed together, along with 43 other Protestants, Catholics, and Jews to Israel, and had an experience of a lifetime!  (Actually, it was a restaurant).

This was my third trip to Israel.  Each time I have been inspired by the antiquity; religious, and civilizational, along with the impressive cultural, architectural, agricultural and technological innovation of the present.

Throughout my ministry (ordained in 1981), I have been interested in Jewish-Christian Relations, which includes the earliest encounters between them.  “Between them”.  This isn’t an adequate way to actually describe “them’, presupposing that on one side there were “Christians” and on the other side “Jews”.  Nuance, is ubiquitous in history.

Jews (of many stripes), God-fearers (non-Jews who liked much of what Judaism stood for) and Non-Jews (drawn by this new message, that came to be called Christian), – originally met in the synagogues.  This was due to the fact that Jesus and all his disciples were Jews!  There were no churches as of yet.  So, in the earliest times (circa 30-100, not that something of magnitude happened in 100, but I needed to set a semi-parameter), to be a fly on the wall of certain Israeli synagogues would have been interesting, to say the least.  Arguments.  Discussions, probably fisticuffs, were part of the Christians and Jews, evolving (or is it devolving?).

I haven’t even noted, the semi-radical shift of what became known as Judaism” post A.D. 70.  That will be for another “blog”.

Read carefully John’s Gospel which dates in the late first century A.D. (or C.E.).  Apparently, by this time in the Johnannie community the break between “Jews” and “Christians” had taken place.  But, keep in mind, this was not universal, yet.

Historically, our Christian scriptures reflect within this context; separation anxiety, surprise, embarrassment and anger, over the refusal of “Judaism” to accept Jesus as Messiah and Son of God.  Read with discerning eyes, and phrases will draw your attention to this struggle.

Subsequently, Christian theology pretty much went down hill when it came to Jews and Judaism.  The vituperation expressed among far too many revered theologians, church fathers, and reformers of our past, is witness to the universal stain of sin, and the need to be aware of one’s placedness within the historical, cultural matrix.

But, I have digressed, leaving the Rabbi, Catholic Deacon, and Minister at the table.  (I’m sure, I will return to this historical narrative at a later date.  There is just so much to consider, in working toward some coalescence.

The three clerics are friends.  We deeply respect each other.  I have learned much from Rabbi Larry.  Conversion is not on the table.  Instead, open, informative conversation graces the table.

Many denominations have recognized the animus heaped on our sister faith “Judaism” throughout Christian history.  This “revelation” finally came to us post-Holocaust!  But, thankfully, it did arrive!  Theology, positions have changed, are changing.

Books, papers, essays have proliferated in the recent decades, offering better history and scholarship on this integral issue for Christianity, and our sister faith Judaism.  This relationship is organic.  The healing and recognition of this breach, will not only redeem much of Christianity’s earlier behavior, but will open opportunities for further inquires into our faiths relationships with others of God’s creation.

I’ll get back to you!

Rev. Bob

Suggested Readings:

  • The Jewish Annotated New Testament by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler.  Oxford Univ. Press (2011).  (Both Jewish and New Testament Scholars)
  • Opening the Covenant by Michael S. Kogan.  Oxford Univ. Press (2008)  (Jewish Scholar)