Saturday, March 29, 2008

This is my body....

Luke 22:19 says:

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

It is significant that, here, Yeshua said touto estin to soma mou” (this is my body) rather than, “ego eimi ho artos” (I am the bread) as he is recorded saying at another time. It is clear that he did not intend that the emphasis be on him or his own corpse, but rather on the bread itself. Or rather on the “loaf,” which is the correct translation of artos. A closer look at the passage reveals its more likely meaning.

The Peshitta states,

wnsb lxma wawdy wqca wyhb lhwn wamr hnw pgry del apykwn mtyhb hda hwytwn ebdyn ldwkrny

and he took a loaf and he gave thanks and he broke and he gave them and he said, “this [is] my body for afikoon which [is] given. This you are to prepare for my memorial.”

Loafs of bread were significant symbols of the people of Israel. Shewbread (lit. “bread of the face” or “presence bread”) is the name given to 12 leavened cakes placed in two rows on a table made of acacia wood, which stood on the north side of the altar of incense in the holy place (Ex. 25: 23-30). Frankincense was placed upon each row (Lev. 24: 7) of loafs. The shewbread was changed every Sabbath day and the old loaves were eaten by the priests in a holy place (Lev. 24: 9). In the shewbread the embodiment of the 12 tribes were perpetually present before Yah. The consumption of the shewbread by the priests of Yah represented communion with God. The burning incense represented a memorial (Greek: anamnesis) to Yah.

Lev 24:7 And you shall put pure frankincense upon each row, so that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire to Yahweh.

Now, the Apostle Paul used the expression soma Christou (“body of Christ”) in Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, as well as in First Corinthians. In Ephesians (1:22-23), he explains that: Yeshua is “the head of the assembly, which is his body…” So, like the showbread of his ancestors, the bread at the last supper represented Yeshua’s body—his assembly, not his physical corpse. This is a twist on most traditional translations. But, it holds up when one understands that the Aramaic word afikoon means “presence,” or “shewbread.”

A better translation of Luke 22:19 might be:

and he took a loaf and he gave thanks and he broke and he gave them and he said, “this [bread] (which represents my assembly) is given for a shewbread. This you are to prepare for my memorial.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Blessed is he......

The early portion of the so-called "Sermon on the Mount" has Yeshua delievering the "beatitudes." The word beatitude is from the Latin beatitudo, which means "happiness." Many understand these simples listings to describe the state of mind of a Christian, and some texts translate the first word as "Happy," or "blessed." This is because the Greek word which appears here is makarioi which is normally translated as "they are fortunate," or "they are well off." The blessed nature that these characteristics endow is thought to be psychological. The word traditionally translated into English as "blessed" or "happy" is in the Greek original μακαριος (makarios). A more literal translation into contemporary English of this thought may be "possessing an inward contentedness and joy that is not affected by physical circumstances"

But, makarios was used historically almost exclusively for the gods, the dead, or (at least) the wealthy. Used in the Septuagint, the word translated the Hebrew esher and described the state of upright life. It does not really speak to psychology, but the physical being.

By the time of Yeshua, the Aramaic word was shoobyhoon, "they are restored," and referred likewise to the state of being restored or returned to life upon an upright path.

Psalm 1:1-2 describes such a man:

esher is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked; and in the way of sinners, does not stand, and in the seat of scoffers, does not sit. But rather in the law of Yahweh, does he delight; and in his law does he meditate, day and night.
The beatitudes do not describe a state of mind (happy), but a pathway of life for the upright (tzaddikiym). As Psalm 1 concludes:

For Yahweh is aware of the road of the tzaddikiym, but the road of the wrong ones is lost.