Thursday 20 September 2012

Genuine imitation wife

Last night as I listened to a news report about the wife of Jesus while I was driving from the airport, I wondered whether I’d passed through a time warp to a future April 1st.

The BBC’s Robin Lustig was asking a Vatican spokesman what effect a 4th century fragment of a papyrus scroll would have on the Roman Catholic Church if it proved to be ‘genuine’ and ‘authentic’. What did Lustig (and the Vatican ‘expert’ for that matter) mean by ‘genuine’ and ‘authentic’?

A genuine 4th century fragment, perhaps? An authentic piece of papyrus with Jesus making a cryptic reference to his ‘wife’ maybe?

Let’s have a sense of proportion about this shall we? A fragment of a papyrus manuscript that resembles a passage in the Gospel of Thomas and written some three centuries after the New Testament was completed is discovered. It seems to suggest that Jesus was married. So what? So what?

What would the scholar say if in some old house a scrap from a nineteenth century book was discovered in which Queen Elizabeth1 referred to her husband. Not a lot, I expect. It would be ignored. There would be no discussion. There would be no mention on the TV news and the Net would not be awash with reports.

Imagine some archaeologist digging up a mouldy copy of The Da Vinci Code in a couple of thousand years and announcing he had found conclusive proof that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene!

All this ‘discovery’ goes to show is that within the scholarly community there is a great desire to find some evidence – however flimsy – that the New Testament in general and the Gospels in particular are unreliable.
Now why would they want to do that?

Read Simon Gathercole's take on the discovery here.

Sunday 16 September 2012

A Walk for Life

An hour ago, my brother Kevin who is 50 set out on a 50 mile walk from Hull City’s KC Stadium to Eland Road Stadium in Leeds to raise money for Brain Tumour Research and Support (BTRS) across Yorkshire.

Six years ago, my wife and I lost our daughter (Kev's niece) Samantha to a brain tumour. Doctors know little more about brain tumours today than they knew in the 1960s, and BTRS was set up to provide a network of resources to patients and their families across Yorkshire. Formerly known as Andrea's Gift, BTRS also funds pioneering brain tumour research at the Leeds Institute for Molecular Medicine.

Kev is a great Hull City fan and he decided to make the walk from the KC Stadium to Eland Road in Leeds, where BTRS is based. It would be a great encouragement to my brother, who deserves to be given the ‘Nicest Bloke on the Planet’ award, if you would make a donation to BTRS. 

You can donate online or by sending a cheque made out to BTRS to Kevin Moore, 50 East Grove, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU4 6NS. 

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Searching the Scroll

There are times when I think Isaiah 53 has been overworked as a messianic proof text. And yet I still meet people who are totally ignorant of it and instinctively recognise it to be about Jesus when confronted with it.

Searching the Scroll is a new site that has  been set up to generate debate about Isaiah 53.

Take a look at it, leave a comment, pass the word around and make the site work by getting involved in the discussions.

Thursday 6 September 2012

Jhan Moskowitz 1948 - 2012

I just heard from David Brickner a message on my Facebook page that Jhan Moskowitz has died. I didn't know Jhan well. I saw him in a street in Finland nine years ago and recognised him instantly. When I crossed the street to say hello, he was immensely friendly and I liked him immediately. We exchanged emails a couple of times and that was it. But when I heard the news of his death a few minutes ago, I was truly shocked. I felt as though I had lost a friend.

Here is Jhan telling how he came to Jesus.

Dan Wooding writes:

Jhan Moskowitz, 64, one of the founders of Jews for Jesus has died after a fall on a subway in New York City.

Moskowitz fell and hit his head in the subway on Tuesday, September 4th. His injury caused hemorrhaging in his brain which led to him being put on life support.

According to one report, his family made the difficult decision of removing him from that life support on Wednesday, September 5th.

In a message to supporters, David Brickner, the head of Jews for Jesus since 1996, said, ‘We had hoped to report a miracle today but that has not been the case. As of early afternoon the doctors began the process of determining whether Jhan would be able to survive on his own. With no brain activity since yesterday afternoon, the result was a formal declaration of death. The medical explanation was herniation as a result of intracranial hemorrhage.’

Jhan Moskowitz was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. His parents were refugees from Nazi Germany and spent four and a half years in a concentration camp.

‘I learned at an early age what it means to be a Jew and to be loyal to my heritage and my people,’ says Jhan. He was disenchanted with religion in his teens, but was committed to the survival of his people and became a short-term volunteer on a kibbutz (communal farm) in Israel.

‘When I went to Israel I was an atheist,’ said Moskowitz, ‘but by the time I left, I knew that God did exist. I became a seeker. I felt God had created the universe with a purpose, and I wanted to know his purpose for my life. I found my answer in 1971 when I came to terms with God through his Messiah, Jesus.

Moskowitz was one of the ‘original’ Jews for Jesus volunteers, even before the organization’s incorporation in 1973. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Philosophy from Long Island University and received theological training from Simpson College in San Francisco. He also has a Master’s degree in Missiology with concentration in Jewish Evangelism/Judaic studies from the Fuller School of World Mission in Pasadena, California. He was ordained through the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination.

Moskowitz co-founded Jews for Jesus’ mobile evangelistic drama team, the New Jerusalem Players, and toured the United States as leader of that team for several years. He headed up the Jews for Jesus New York branch, where he also served as pastor of a Jewish Christian congregation in Manhattan, Kehilat Y’shua (Assembly of Jesus). Moskowitz served as the director of the Chicago branch for over 20 years, during which time he led a Bible study for the legal community in downtown Chicago. He and his wife, Melissa, also a Jew for Jesus, have returned to the New York City area, where they currently reside.

Jon Trott a writer, teacher, and member of Jesus People USA community in Uptown, Chicago, said: ‘Jhan’s vibe was all New York to me, from the unmistakable accent to the comfortable intellectualism he displayed. His eyes were deep and kind, and his smile infectious. In the few conversations I had with him here at Jesus People USA’s 920 W. Wilson home, we talked everything from politics to Old Testament. The latter category under his tutelage was fascinating, illuminating, and amazingly multi-faceted; he spoke to us about it at least three different times I can recall (which means it was likely more).

‘I sometimes wondered how he carried his Jewishness — for much of recorded history the ultimate ‘Other’ to Christians and pagans alike — among white Evangelicals. There must have been stress in holding onto two identities — (1) the child of Jewish parents who spent four [and a half] years in Nazi Concentration camps, (2) the convert to a faith not known for its kindness to his people throughout history. The fierce opposition Jews for Jesus created among those of Jewish faith must have saddened him greatly, but the cross he bore living in the in-between was most often reflected in a gently humorous outlook.

‘His death shocked me. There are deaths which seem in season, coming at the end of a life well lived and therefore ‘good deaths.’ This doesn’t feel that way. Jhan was a man who appeared in good health, filled with vitality and sure to be ministering for years to come.

Read Dan's full article here.