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Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Abrahamic Covenant

Abraham  makes his first appearance in the Pentateuch in the 12th chapter of the book of Genesis. Abraham is the first founding father, or patriarch, mentioned in the Old Testament.  He is chosen to establish a
covenant with God that eventually results in the 12 tribes of Israel. The Bible makes mention of the covenant between God and Abraham three times in the Book of Genesis. First in Genesis 12, then Genesis 15, and finally again in Genesis 17. This third telling of the covenant is the most comprehensive of the three. It more thoroughly outlines God's intentions for Abraham, and also states what God requires of Abraham in return:
    When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, 'I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.' Then Abram fell on his    face; and God said to him, 'As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land   where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.'  God said to Abraham, 'As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.  This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.' (Genesis 17:1- 14)
This covenant consists of three promises from God to Abraham. The first is the promise of land divinely chosen by God. The second is the assurance of offspring with which to establish a nation. The third is the guarantee of God's blessings and salvation for the descendants of Abraham. As mentioned above, Abraham's side of the covenant is comprised of two parts. The the first part requires him to be Holy and obedient. The second part is the covenant of circumcision that dictates that Abraham, his descendants  and those around him must be circumcised as a covenant of the flesh. Those who refuse to be circumcised shall be cast out and removed from the covenant.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jesus Christ: Not a first and last name.

“Jesus Christ” has come to seem like a first and last name in modern Christianity. That is not, however the case. Jesus is His name, and has its origins in the Hebrew “Yeshua” or “Yahweh saves.” “Christ” however is
a title. It means “Anointed One.” Being anointed, in itself, was not something that could be considered unique to Jesus. In Hebrew tradition many (priests, prophets, the dead, kings, and kings to be) were anointed with oil when they could be said to have been “commissioned by God.” Jesus could be seen as a culmination of all of these. Prior to His crucifixion Jesus was widely seen as both a prophet and priest (Rabbi). What sets Jesus apart from any of these other people who history had shown to be “anointed” is His death and resurrection. The Cross of the Crucifixion was inscribed with “King of the Jews,” an acknowledgment by Pilate to what Jesus' disciples had been calling Him all along. His Resurrection fulfilled the Messianic prophesy of the Jews that a descendent of King David (and therefore King) would rise from death as King to restore city and the Temple.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Development of the Canon of Scripture

The Catholic Church has identified the canon of Scripture as the entirety of the Bible that Catholics use today. A modest answer to the how the Canon of Scripture came to be is that “It was by the apostolic
Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New (Catholic Church 120).” The simplicity of this statement does, however, belie the great lengths to which Church Fathers went to settle on these 73 books.

The development of the Old Testament had been 1000 years in the making upon the inception of the New Testament. Where it was previously thought that Hebrew Canon had been established far before the arrival of Christ, recent discoveries have shown that it may not have been fixed until as late as 3rd century AD. These Hebrew books were translated into Greek and called the Septuagint. While the Septuagint is a translation of these Hebrew texts, it is believed to have been the work of early Alexandrian Christians. The Septuagint is the basis for the Catholic Old Testament and incorporates  texts that are traditionally not accepted by Jews or Protestants (due to the inclusion of text not found in the Hebrew Bible). These books are known both as Apocryphal and Deuterocanonical Books. As with the New Testament the Old Testament, and it's inclusion of the “Hidden” Books, were confirmed at the Council of Trent, Vatican 1, and Vatican II.

            By comparison, the compilation of the New Testament was not as lengthy as that of the Old Testament. This is do, in large part, to the struggles of the Church to repress heretical and false teachings, such as that of Marcion, who rejected the Old Testament in favor of an abridged combination of both the Pauline Epistles and the Gospel of Luke. “Thus an official list of accepted writing had the twofold function of insuring the integrity of Christian teaching while rejecting other writing that distorted its meaning (Marthaler 267).” The Protest Reformation instigated the  solidification of the New Testament at The Council of Trent in 1546.


Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition. 2nd ed. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney,
         Auckland: Doubleday Religion, 1994. 120. Print.
 Marthaler, Berard. The Creed. 2nd ed. Mystic, Connecticut: Twenty Third Publications, 1993. 267. Print.