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Start Your New Week with a Word of Edification, Exhortation and Comfort from Daniel Botkin

Welcome to the Gates of Eden Blog ~ New posts weekly at 8PM following Shabbat

May 27, 2018

Growing up as a kid in the 1950s and early 60s, I read a lot of superhero comic books. I even read the Letters pages, where readers sent comments and questions about the various characters. Some readers seemed to think of the superheroes as real people. I remember one reader wrote and asked if Superman believed in God. The editor answered Yes, Superman indeed believes in God. I was glad to learn that the Man of Steel was not an atheist. As a kid I knew very little about God, and virtually nothing about Jews and Judaism. In later years I learned that nearly all of the most popular superheroes were created by Jews, and that Jewish themes were often woven into many of the stories.

May 20, 2018

A few years ago I was asked to teach a seminar on “Hebrew Holidays and Their Import For Christians” at Bradley University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The students were all 50 or older, so I knew they would remember the Marx Brothers comedy team. I asked them if they could name all the Marx Brothers. They immediately rattled off the names: Groucho, Chico, Harpo. But there was a fourth Marx Brother that people tend to forget, and none of my students could remember his name. (No, it wasn’t Karl.) It was Zeppo, I told them. Oh, yeah, Zeppo Marx!

May 13, 2018

In English we call the fourth book of the Bible “Numbers.” This is a translation of the Latin title of the book, Numeri, which is a translation of the Greek title Arithmoi. If you read the first several chapters of the book, it’s easy to see why Greek-speaking, Latin-speaking, and English-speaking people gave it a title that includes the ideas of arithmetic and numbers. The first several chapters consist primarily of long lists of numbers and mathematical calculations to record the total amounts of various countings: how many men in each of the twelve tribes; how to set up the camp according to the tribes; how many men in each of the families of the Levites; how many shekels of redemption money to collect; how many of each item that each of the tribal leaders brought as an offering, etc., etc., etc.

May 6, 2018

According to Jewish tradition, the Pentateuch (Torah) was given on the Day of Pentecost. According to Acts, the Holy Spirit was likewise given on the Day of Pentecost. The fact that the Torah and the Spirit were both given on the same date suggests that there is a connection, that the Law and the Spirit are meant to operate together, and to complement one another, not contradict and oppose one another as some Christians seem to think. Another similarity of the Pentecostal Movement and the Messianic Movement is the grassroots origin of both movements. The origins of other movements and denominations in Christian history can be traced to the individuals who founded them.

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