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5.22.2005    |    "they have pierced my hands and feet "
As part of a review of a triad of books in today's Washington Post Book Review, David Klinghoffer's latest book, "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus, The Turning Point in Western History" is given a favorable review. I've not read the book, and likely will not, but I've read a good deal of Mr. Klinghoffer's work in conservative periodicals such as National Review; enough to respect his talents as a writer and thinker.

That said, I'm not going to accept any thesis derived from a faith that denies my own, which his does. Yet David Klinghoffer's story is both inspiring and illuminating for all who have faith, even those of us who think he is in serious error about God's nature. A sympathetic Jewish perspective on his background and his seminal work, "The Lord Will Gather Me In" may be found here.

David Klinghoffer's error, which he shares with the author of the WaPo book review, is that he uses a legalistic approach to denying that Jesus is the Messiah. The title of this post comes from Psalm 22, which appears to be a reliable indicator of what the world will do to the true Messiah. The verse in context:
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet —
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
The legalistic approach? The author points out that the original Hebrew for Psalm 22:16 is better rendered "Like lions [they maul] my hands and feet." To which the author adds "which, lacking the 'piercing,' seems much less like an Old Testament foreshadowing of the crucifixion." Perhaps. It is a hard corner into which the Biblical literalist paints himself, if he insists that, somehow, our faith hangs on the translation of a single verse. Or that the mauling by allegorical lions, given their sharp claws, is not a "piercing."

My response to this is that my faith most certainly does not rise, or fall, on the translation of God's word by fallible men. In any event, there are sufficient other markers in the Hebrew Scriptures that presage the Savior, even if He did not establish, then and there in first century Jerusalem, the worldly kingdom that may have been envisioned in Ezekiel 37 (which is what I would guess the review's author refers to, although he does not give any reference):
22 And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Well, I believe this is true, and that Jesus will fulfill this on a global scale when He returns. Again, my faith does not depend on the translation (or mis-translation) of a few verses; it stands on the entirety of God's word in His Scriptures. I know it; feel it in my bones. As I'm sure that David Klinghoffer feels his truth in his bones. One of us is correct, but not because of any legalistic reading of Scripture.

God is not subject to copy editors. His truth is revealed, a little bit at a time, throughout human history. We can only glimpse, darkly, with distorted human eyes, at His eternal and blinding truth. Jesus was God incarnate. The Gospels give evidence to this. He will come again. St. John the Divine's Revelation tells us this, and if it seems funky or other-worldly, that's not God's fault.

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Blogger John said...

Again, my faith does not depend on the translation (or mis-translation) of a few verses; it stands on the entirety of God's word in His Scriptures.

I love this JL, it sums up everything I believe in!


9:31 PM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

You might be interested in this article about how the Talmud actually supports the Christian reading of the prophecies as the more-authentically-Jewish reading: all Scriptures were seen as Messianic.

Take care & God bless

12:01 AM, May 26, 2005  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.