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The Messianic Writings suggest a new reformation.
Benjamin Franklin's invention of the lightning rod was a new way to understand how to harness the power of electricity and in the same manner the Messianic Writings help us to better harness the power that comes from the Bible. The revolutionary thinker Copernicus brought a major institutional change when he taught the church that the universe does not revolve around the Earth. The Messianic Writings "revolution" is to point to a new relationship between the church and God's people Israel. The Messianic Writings are a new way of looking at the "New Testament" and will greatly challenge and improve common views that many Jews and Christians hold today - hopefully in a positive way. Some of my own views have been challenged and re-oriented but ultimately this experience has changed some of my spiritual practices and strengthened my faith journey.
According to the book of Acts, the disciples were called Christians or "Chrestians" first at Antioch. Instead of translating the Bible from a Christian perspective, the Messianic Writings are translated from the perspective of a disciple, that is, a student of the God of Israel - in other words, from before terms like "Christian" started in Antioch.
The Messianic Writings explain that the "church" as we think of it is not actually in the Bible! According to the commentary, the word commonly translated as "church" in the Bible, should be "congregation" or "community". The original Greek word for church is "ekklesia" which is a translation of the Hebrew "kahal" or "edah", often signifying "kahal Israel" or congregation of people who worship the God of Israel. Historically, new translations and reforming ideas have frequently been introduced through a single translator, from Jerome's translation into the common Latin of the day to Luther's and Tyndale's translations that helped spark the Reformation. William Tyndale's translation correctly used the word "congregation". Tyndale was burned at the stake by the authorities who were then inspired to produce King James' "authorized" version of the Bible. The Messianic Writings begs the question - who should be the authority on God's word, King James or the original text itself? Perhaps, this illusion of the church is part of the reason so many churches see themselves as separate from Israel and thus miss out on various blessings and lack a vibrant and positive connection to either Jesus' homeland, Israel, or with his fellow Jewish people. How many educated church leaders have had a basic experience such as visiting or learning about the local synagogue - even though that is one of the places where Jesus taught. The Messianic Writings also have some interesting commentary on what the word "synagogue" meant in the time of Jesus as a meeting place for worship. In the book of Exodus, God calls Israel his firstborn son and then in Joshua says he will never leave or forsake his people Israel, so why does the "church" try to separate itself from the commonwealth of Israel? If the community who professes to follow Israel's Messiah is in some sense part of the community of Israel, as the Bible attests, what does that mean for Christians, disciples and Jews today? What does the "commonwealth of Israel" really mean as Rabbi Shaul (Paul the Apostle) mentions in his letter to the Ephesians? These are questions that seem to have clearer answers with the more accurate understanding that the Messianic Writings offers.
Continuing in the pursuit of accuracy and truth, the Messianic Writings uses accurate names and the original order of the books. For example, I was surprised to learn that James' name (from the book of "James") in the actual text is not James but is actually Jacob! Moreover, the commentary explains why it follows the original ordering of the books of the "New Testament" instead of the Catholic order most English Bibles like the King James and New International Version (NIV) follow. Moreover, the Messianic Writings include related references to the original Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Hebrew Bible. This collection actually pre-dates the version of the Hebrew Bible (Tanach) used by most rabbis today. For example, the connection between the books about the Maccabees (on the Jewish-Greek wars that are the basis for Hanukah) and the reports in the Messianic Writings relating both Hannukah and the Roman occupation are noted. In addition to a more accurate understanding of historical contexts and relevance with the scriptures, perhaps these writings even have something to teach us today about our wars and how we deal with our enemies.
However, there are areas for improvement in the Messianic Writings. There are inconsistent transliterations of words which creates needless confusion. For example, Matthew is called Matthias but Mark is still Mark while Joseph is called Yoseph and some obscure names that are modified are very hard to recognize. This makes this new reading experience a little less understandable. The Messianic Writings will also help introduce the reader to some of Israel's great rabbis, like Hillel, Rashi, Rambam (Maimonidies) and others. Personally, I've been to Israel and walked where Jesus walked and at first it was a strange and foreign experience. Hopefully the "strangeness" of this text will be unsettling in a good way - for those who desire to better understand the world's most influential person and Israel's most famous rabbi.
The Messianic Writings may inspire new streams of relationships, new forms of worship and a more accurate understanding of the original Bible. Personally, I've learned a lot from this book, and as I've gained a better understanding of the text I have been opened up to new ways of praying - like the Magi did - with a bowed heart.