‘Believe Like Me’

Did you know that when Jesus preached publicly he spoke in a language called Aramaic? To borrow an explanation from biblical scholar Neil Douglas-Klotz, “Most scholars now believe that by the time of Jesus, no one was really speaking the ancient Hebrew that would have been spoken, let’s say, by Moses or by King David. And everyone was speaking this lingua franca, or common spoken language, of the whole Middle East, which was Aramaic.”

Why is this important? It’s important because the modern English version of the Bible most of us have read or have had read to us is a translation from Greek. Greek and Aramaic are very different languages, and this is important if you care very much about the teachings of Jesus. It’s especially significant if you care about the literal interpretation of his teachings.

This distinction of translation winds up making a huge difference in some of the more widely repeated phrases of Jesus’.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told that believing IN Jesus was the whole spiritual task of Christianity. And yet, TURNS OUT: he never even said “believe in me”. According to these earliest Aramaic texts, he said “Believe like me”, or in other words “believe as I believe”. According to Klotz, when the Bible was translated into Greek, which is what the Western churches ended up utilizing, they chose to translate “believe like me” into “believe in me”.

To me, that seems like a grievous error.

Centuries of people have been motivated by the single task of convincing people to believe IN Jesus, rather than introducing people to the person of Jesus, and then letting them discover what this man believed in… for themselves.

[Much more on some other important Aramaic words later…]

 

Advertisements

Full Disclosure

I’ve been trying to write a book for nearly two years.

There’s a lot of volume there so far, and I like where it’s all headed, but frankly – it feels like being pregnant with an elephant. Elephant’s are pregnant for 23 months… did you know? When I was *literally* pregnant for a mere 9 months, I nearly combusted with anxiety about finally getting to meet my girl.

The passion I feel about this book is similar actually. In fact, my daughter and the idea for this book were conceived at almost exactly the same time. She’s 1 year and 1 week old now. I set the book largely aside once she arrived because raising her takes nearly every single scrap of my attention, energy, and focus.

When I do finally get a moment to sit down and write, I often get stuck wondering “JUST how inflated can one person be to think they have it in them to tackle the problems of one of the world’s largest religion in their spare time?!?!!”.

But, turns out: that kind of thinking doesn’t help the writing process. At all.

So, here’s what I’m going to do for now: I am going to quietly blog over here by myself. I may or may not tell anyone about it for awhile, but I’m going to choose to go ahead and write as if I had an audience because this helps me get the creative-heat out of my body and onto the page.

If this all goes according to plan – and of course, nothing truly wonderful ever does, I will eventually be sharing a very personal story about how (and why) I abandoned the evangelical Christian spiritual community of my youth, and then how (and why) I found myself wanting to heal my relationship with the church over a decade later.

Note: this is absolutely not a tale in which I will tell you about my regret over ever having left the church. I don’t regret that at all. In fact, it was one of my best moves.

 

So, in conclusion: I have no idea how to design a web page. I don’t imagine this blog will be terribly sexy by 2016 standards. It’s just gonna be words for now. Words you have to read all the way to the end. And it’s going to take more than 15 seconds to get there.

Feel free to hang with me as this all unfolds. For now, I’m grateful for your readership.