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Why is this Seder different from all other Seders?

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The idea of making a different type of Seder came about because of my discomfort with a ceremony that in many ways glorifies Jewish exceptionalism and also serves as a justification for the Israeli dispossession and suppression of the Palestinian people and their culture.  Passover now appears to me to be the most Zionist of all Jewish holidays, and its celebration, the reading of the Haggadah, the Hebrew text which defines the Seder, clearly reflects this fact.

The first problem comes at very beginning of the ceremony when the host recites the Kiddush declaring that God chose the Jewish people above all other peoples. This type of exceptionalism is very much out of favor with many these days, as it should be, whether it is applied to Jews, Israel or to American foreign policy.

Secondly, there is the glorification of God’s horrible vengeance upon those who have wronged the Jews or those who do not believe in their God.  God’s killing of Egyptian innocent children is awful even as a symbolic tale.

After drinking the third of the four cups of wine, the host instructs the presumably tipsy guests to rise and pour a fourth cup.  Referring to God, he then recites from the Psalms:

Pour out Thy wrath upon the nations that know Thee not, and upon the kingdoms that call not upon Thy name; for they have consumed Jacob and laid waste his habitation.  Pour out Thy rage upon them and let Thy fury overtake them.  Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the heavens of the Eternal.

A bit over the top, no? Especially, when the present-day real God of many American Jews, Israel and its mighty army, has laid waste to Gaza in a succession of criminal assaults which continue today as a brutal siege and a weekly massacre at the eastern Gaza border.  The first Seder this year takes place on a Friday, which is the day of the week most of the border killings occur.

Oh, and one more thing, the Hebrew word for “nations that know Thee not” is “goyim,” which is also the derisive name Jews call non-Jews in their common vernacular.  Who wants to say that, even if all your guests speak no Hebrew and may not hear the “g” word?

Thirdly, I recoil at the allusion to the perpetual victimization of the Jewish people which is uttered with only the fortification of one cup of wine.

For more than once have they risen against us to destroy us; in every generation they rise against us and seek our destruction.   But the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hands.

This, for me echoes the recent false claims of anti-Semitism from which we are protected, not so miraculously, by the smears of pro-Israel lobby operatives directed at people such as Rep. Ilhan Omar, Jeremy Corbyn or anyone else who criticizes Israel and its apartheid government.

And lastly but very importantly, is the oft-quoted declaration toward the conclusion of the reading of the Haggadah of “next year in Jerusalem.”  This phrase is frequently and ludicrously cited as proof of the long-time (2000 year) Jewish longing for return to their homeland, and it is employed as a justification for the entire Zionist enterprise.

This is ironic because the “telling” (haggadah) of the exodus story is especially irksome since most people actually believe in its veracity as recorded history even though this story has absolutely no basis in fact. There is actually zero historical evidence that the Jews were ever slaves in Egypt.

Passover, as with all Jewish celebrations in Israel, means “closure” for the Palestinians under occupation.  That entails restricted travel and other prohibitions which make the lives of the Palestinians even more difficult than normal.

As they say in another context in the Haggadah, “dayenu?” or “is that not enough?” to explain why an alternative Seder may be in order.  For me it is more than enough.

So here is what I have come up with as a replacement.

My Seder is called a seder lo b’seder, or loosely translated, a Seder that is not right or not OK.  It sounds better in Hebrew.  It is held on the second day of Passover and may serve as an antidote for guests who have participated in a traditional Seder the previous evening.  Seder means arrangement or order and lo means not.  So this is a Seder with no order, the opposite of the meaning of Seder and the tradition of doing the ceremony in a proscribed manner.

My motto is “skip the (traditional) Seder, do a Seder lo b’Seder.” The Hebrew verb for skip is the same as the name of the holiday.  Just as Passover, i.e., pass over, in English, is synonymous with skip.

Thus there is no order in which the meal is to be eaten.  All foods from soup to dessert will be available to the guests throughout dinner.  All can eat what they want when they want and just as importantly not eat what they do not desire.

Some usual Passover foods will be available.  They include gefilte fish, matzoh (the cracker that is central to the symbolism of Passover), red wine and grape juice.  Also, charoset which is a mixture of nuts, dried and fresh fruits, nuts and honey because it tastes really good.  Bread and shrimp (prohibited by Jewish law during Passover) will also be available and are placed in close proximity to the matzoh and gefilte fish, respectively.

Italian food which is a popular cuisine in my upstate New York community, since there is a large Italian-American presence here, will be featured. The main courses will be a vegetarian lasagna and Utica greens which is a popular indigenous local dish invented by my sister-in-law’s cousin.

Instead of the traditional not consumed glass of red wine for the prophet Elijah, a glass of wine will be placed on the table in memory of my dear departed friend and neighbor, Bruce, who would have been a willing enthusiastic participant in this Seder.

The only restriction placed on the food that is acceptable at this Seder is that it is not wholly or partly produced at Israeli companies.  This Seder is officially and proudly designated as a pro BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) event.  Luckily, neither this Seder nor anything I or my wife do is funded by the State of New York because the New York State governor, Andrew Cuomo, has bowed to the pro-Israel lobby, or as it is known in Israel, the Jewish lobby, and cut state funding to all supporters of BDS.

Chad Gadya at Seder lo b’seder

The only part of the typical Seder that is included in the seder lo b’seder is the performance of the song Chad Gadya which ends the festive meal.  In my Seder the song is performed both before and after dinner.  Prior to eating, the guests are invited to listen and view a video (with English subtitles) of the Chava Alberstein (Hebrew Wikipedia entry) version of this iconic Passover song which she recorded at the height of the First Intifada in 1989.  In this rendition, which is sung mostly in Hebrew instead of the more traditional Aramaic, Alberstein added protest lyrics in response to the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Echoing the words of the Haggadah she sings,

And what has changed for you?
What has changed?
I myself have changed this year
And on all nights, on all nights
I have asked only four questions
Tonight I have another question:
How long will the cycle of horror last?
… Hunter and hunted, beater and beaten
When will this madness end?

Alberstein’s protest song roiled much of the Jewish Israeli population and it was banned from the radio despite or maybe because of the enormous popularity and artistic reputation of the singer.  Younger readers will take note that the suppression of speech critical of government policy, especially in relation to what goes on in the territories, did not start with Netanyahu.

Chava Alberstein song

A couple of weeks ago I came across a video of the Rana Choir performing an Arabic/Hebrew version of the Alberstein Chad Gadya at a  2016 Arab-Israeli Remembrance Day Ceremony.  The choir is a group based in Jaffa, composed of Palestinians and Jews, which is unusual in Israel.  I am usually rather skeptical about joint ventures in the apartheid reality of Israel which are derisively and understandably termed “normalization” by many Palestinians.  Most end up with members of the stronger group, the Jews, setting the agenda, and ironically reproducing the unequal power relationship of the occupation.  I have been told that the Arabic is almost unintelligible.  However, despite all this I will present this version to my guests as a possible source of hope.  This beautiful and haunting once censored protest song is, at least, still being performed.

Menu at Ira Glunts’s Seder

As in the “normal” Seder, the meal and ceremony concludes with the host, me, singing Chad Gadya with the guests invited to join in. They are especially encouraged to, at the very least, sing the chorus.  The song in our Seder is sung in Aramaic as is usual.

I like this song because it arguably is understood as having no significant meaning and as being pure melody and wordplay.  In other words free of the cant, rant or any political significance of which I may find objectionable but ever present in the normal Seder.

So that is the outline of my planned Passover meal.  It is an attempt to quietly declare that Zionism is not tenable or moral and rites of Judaism that support Israel are also not tenable. I do not mean my Seder to be offensive to any of my fellow co-religionists, but if it is so be it.

In our American culture those who renounce Catholicism are not generally censured by the general population, but those that criticize practices of Judaism that serve Zionism are.  Why is that?

Unfortunately, my Seder will not happen this year due to family commitments having nothing to do with Passover. However, I plan to do it next year.  The guests will include my 94-year-old mother-in-law and her daughter, my wife’s sister, both of whom attended my initial alternative Seder two years ago. My wife and her family are not Jewish; however all told me they had a wonderful time.  I already have three dear friends who are pro-Palestinian activists committed to the event.  Two of them will be recovering from the previous night’s first Seder.  All three have been falsely accused of anti-Semitism by the local Jewish Federation in response to their political activity.

Zionism means dispossession of 700,000 indigenous Palestinian people and their future descendants.  Today it means the ever-expanding Judaization of Jerusalem, the oppression of the Palestinian people including the brutal siege of Gaza and the continual killing of Gazans at the border protests.

That is why I say, “Next year in upstate New York, I will have a seder that will be lo b’seder.”

Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian who lives in Madison, NY. His twitter handle is @abushalom

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28 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on April 18, 2019, 7:18 pm

    Perhaps this is a good time for me to confess that when I was young ‘taking (Holy) Communion’ really creeped me out.

  2. RoHa on April 18, 2019, 9:07 pm

    So what happens to Elijah? Is he left out in the cold?

    • Mooser on April 19, 2019, 10:53 am

      I hope not. Opening the door and leaving a cup of wine for Elijah is my favorite part of the Seder.

      • Stephen Shenfield on April 19, 2019, 9:44 pm

        And when you open the door you also call out to invite any passing traveler to join the seder.

      • RoHa on April 19, 2019, 9:55 pm

        If he has a cup of wine at every Jewish household, his prophecies are going to be pretty incoherent by the end of the night.

      • eljay on April 20, 2019, 8:15 am

        A cup of wine for eljay sounds pretty nice, too.   :-)

      • Mooser on April 20, 2019, 12:31 pm

        “…his prophecies are going to be pretty incoherent by the end of the night.”

        Q. Hey, how is the Prophet Elijah like an Major League baseball contract hold-out?
        A. He won’t play Baal for anybody!

      • Mooser on April 21, 2019, 4:00 pm

        And if I got thrown in gaol no one would go my Baal.

  3. YoniFalic on April 19, 2019, 8:31 am

    לשנה הבאה בירושלים is a relatively recent addition to the Haggadah. Isaac of Tyrnau added the phrase in the 15th century. It’s a Messianic wish for the Temple to be rebuilt so that the three pilgrimage holidays can be observed by pilgrimages.

    The ancient Judaic pilgrimages were just like the Muslim haj today. A pilgrim would attend a temple service and then return home.

    Why did Isaac of Tyrnau add לשנה הבאה בירושלים to the Haggadah?

    Probably because lots of defeated Hussites converted to Judaism, and Isaac wanted to ease their incorporation into Jewish community by reminding Jewish Slavo-Turks (we, who descend from Yiddish-speaking E. European Jewish communities, but not from ancient Judeans) that when Messiah comes, everyone will practice Judaism (read Aleinu, 2nd paragraph).

    In ancient times any of the at least three temples to El-Yahweh sufficed for pilgrimage. One did not need to attend services in Jerusalem. A pilgrim could visit the temple in Leontopolis (Egypt) or the temple in Casiphia (near the Caspian sea). There may have been other temples.

    The Romans destroyed the Leontopolis Temple shortly after destroying the Jerusalem Temple. The Armenian kingdom seems to have destroyed the Casiphia Temple when the kingdom decided to become officially Christian and wanted to encourage conversion to Christianity of the kingdom’s population, which seems to have been mostly practicing Judaism according to historian Movses Khorenatsi.

    When the Sanhedrin learned that the Casiphia Temple was destroyed (around 300 CE), it added לשנה הבאה בירושלים to נעילה because the Temple service for communal atonement was no longer taking place anywhere.

  4. Liz on April 19, 2019, 9:10 am

    I enjoyed reading this piece so much. What a hoot. Thank you!

  5. Misterioso on April 19, 2019, 9:35 am

    “The Horrors of Israeli Occupation Have Been Laid Bare” Truthdig, by Amy Goodman and Dennis Moynihan, April 18/19

    “Christians the world over look to the Holy Land this week as they celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, while Jews around the globe observe Passover, recalling their exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt. Current events in Israel and Palestine, though, are no cause for celebration, and are adding fuel to racial and political fires here in the United States.

    “Benjamin Netanyahu secured an unprecedented fifth term as Israel’s prime minister, despite facing possible indictment on corruption charges. Netanyahu successfully energized his base with promises to annex Israel’s many, illegal West Bank settlements, narrowly defeating his main challenger, Benny Gantz. President Donald Trump amplified Netanyahu’s re-election chances, first by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, then by formally endorsing Israel’s annexation of the occupied Golan Heights, land Israel seized militarily from Syria in 1967. Israel’s domestic politics have consistently veered further and further to the right, while a global movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people, ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS),’ is growing in opposition to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its brutal siege of the Gaza Strip.

    “’Netanyahu offers Israelis safety and security, very, very low mortality rate as part of the occupation and siege,’ Israeli journalist Haggai Matar said on the ‘Democracy Now!’ news hour. ‘Unlike Palestinians who are being killed en masse by Israel.’

    “The anti-Palestinian rhetoric during the Israeli election was particularly vile. Benny Gantz, the former head of the Israeli military, ran an ad with a rapidly climbing body count laid over images of Palestinian funeral marches. The ad closed with the chilling phrase, in Hebrew, ‘1,364 terrorists killed — 3.5 years of quiet in the south.’ Another ad was run by Oren Hazan, a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party, who represents a Jewish-only, illegal West Bank settlement. In it, Hazan’s face is superimposed over Clint Eastwood’s character in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ as he kills a man with the face of Jamal Zahalka, a Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

    “Israel is wrongly described as the Middle East’s only democracy — for whom? Diana Buttu, a Palestinian-Canadian attorney and citizen of Israel, spoke to ‘Democracy Now!’ from Haifa, explaining, ‘about 16% of the people who are eligible to vote are Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. Look at the vast remainder of people that Israel controls … in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip or in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. Close to 6 million individuals who are ineligible to vote in Israeli elections, and yet are being governed by Israel.’

    “While many Palestinians who were eligible to vote boycotted the election, there is a growing nonviolent resistance movement in the occupied territories and around the world. In Gaza, 2 million people live under Israeli siege in what former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called the world’s largest ‘open-air prison.’ For the past year, tens of thousands of Palestinians have marched every Friday to the separation fence between Gaza and Israel. It’s called the ‘Great March of Return,’ and is met by Israeli military snipers who fire live ammunition into the nonviolent crowd. According to the U.N., over 270 Gazans have been killed, at least 41 of whom were children, and close to 30,000 have been injured, with many of those injured suffering amputations. Journalists and medical first responders have also been shot, some fatally.

    “Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian activist who co-founded the BDS movement in 2005 to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights. He was scheduled to speak in the United States this week, at Harvard and New York University, and to meet with members of Congress, but was prevented from boarding his plane in Israel. The Trump administration had rescinded his permission to enter the U.S., despite his valid visa, which he has used when visiting many times.

    “Unable to fly out of Israel, Barghouti appeared on ‘Democracy Now!’ from a TV studio in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, explaining, ‘It shows how this right-wing [Trump] administration, which is completely in alliance with Israel’s far-right regime, is terrified of our voices, is terrified of telling the truth.’

    “Justice and security for Palestinians will only enhance security for Israel. Stifling speech, blocking travel and violating human rights won’t bring peace. A negotiated settlement will.”

  6. jon s on April 19, 2019, 9:43 am

    A happy and kosher Passover to all who are celebrating!
    חג כשר ושמח

  7. Jejasalo on April 19, 2019, 12:59 pm

    Why not just turn Passover into a universal holiday celebrating the liberation of people from any kind of oppression or bondage? Just think how many detainees along the US -Mexican border could join in — among others.

    Meanwhile, Yom Kippur might be a day of resistance for any Jew determined not too fast.

    • RoHa on April 19, 2019, 10:03 pm

      How fast is too fast for a Jew to be determined?

      • Jejasalo on April 20, 2019, 9:28 am

        Ha ha ha. To fast…

      • Mooser on April 20, 2019, 12:35 pm

        To fast is human, to dine, divine.

  8. Mikhael on April 19, 2019, 3:20 pm

    Re Passover now appears to me to be the most Zionist of all Jewish holidays

    It’s really a stretch to un-Zionise most or any Jewish holidays. Judaism is a particular tribal religion of a particular people who have always been attached to a particular ancestral homeland. Normal, sane Jews, even atheist-leaning agnostics like me, own it and are happy to preserve our partiuclar folkways and carry out yearly rituals like the Seder as our ancestors have done for generations.

    If Glunts is lucky, his (and other) mutant freak versions of the Seder may be memorialized by Jewish generations hence with a smirk, just like the “Red Haggadah” is looked at as a bizarro curiosity today.

    I have no doubt that in a century’s time, millions of Jews, secular and religious alike, will still be living in the nation-state of the Jewish PeopIe and re-telling the Hagaddah’s lore and re-observing the traditional Seder rituals in their correct order.
    Maybe some will have a good laugh at people like Glunts in the way we laugh at the Red Haggadah today.

    • Mooser on April 20, 2019, 12:19 pm

      “I have no doubt that in a century’s time, millions of Jews, secular and religious alike, will still be living in the nation-state of the Jewish PeopIe”

      “Millions”? Zionism has certainly scaled back its ambitions.

  9. pabelmont on April 19, 2019, 5:41 pm

    To go outside the Jewish context, I try to imagine an Easter celebration which glorified the “render unto Caesar” teaching of Jesus by reveling in the agony of the crucifixion as a “good thing”, an “example to us all”, “God’s will manifest”, “patriotism”, etc.

    Of course, this would be quite contradictory to the meaning of Easter whereas the meaning of the Seder seems to be entirely consistent with horrible tribalistic cruelty and inhumanity.

    Perhaps someone can explain an oddity that I see in this practice of the Seder.

    Much of the Torah was created at a time when every little tribe had its own god, and everybody understood that there were lots of gods, each jealous of the others (hence — have no other god before ME) and JWH was only one of many. And his cruelty toward non-Jews was state of the art for the times. A time seems to have come — but did it come to Jews? — when people began to believe that there was only ONE god, and he was universal, everyone’s god. Such a god — one imagines — would not justify wiping out one tribe’s enemies root and branch, and the “eye for an eye” idea is widely believed to mean “only an eye for an eye, not more” which seems to go against genocide and other jolly practices we read about in Torah.

    If the Seder was invented (or at least passed along) by the revisionist rabbis who decided that Judaism was NOT any longer a Bible-based religion but, instead, a religion based on rabbinic teaching (which could and it is said did ignore much of the horror of Torah), then why was Seder preserved “as is” ?

    • YoniFalic on April 20, 2019, 9:59 am

      I am not an historian of ancient and Greco-Roman Judaism, but I have been studying Persian and Greco-Roman Judaism lately. The latest scholarship suggests the monotheist El-Yahweh cult is a reworking of Canaanite worship of 𐤀𐤋 𐤃 𐤉𐤄𐤅𐤄 𐤑𐤁𐤀𐤕 to make this cult fit into the Persian Zoroastrian Imperial system. The Book of Esther supports this hypothesis.

      Greek cleruchs and Alexandrian colonists reworked Persian Judaism into Pentateuchal Judaism for the needs of Greek-speakers that practiced the El-Yahweh cult in Alexandria. The Septuagint Pentateuchal text probably precedes the Hebrew Pentateuch.

      When the Hasmoneans overthrew the Persian-sponsored elite, they brought the Alexandrian form of Biblical Judaism to Palestine. This form of Judaism was even eventually adopted by Samarians.

      The Herodian abuses as well as the series of Judaic wars and rebellions fundamentally transformed Judaism in the three centers of Judaism: Alexandria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia.

      Popular Judaism practiced by the peasantry and preached by Jesus may have have dropped out of the Temple Cult even before the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple because Temple Judaism was a cult for landed proprietors, merchants, and exploiters of the peasantry. The class split in Judaism comes to a head in the Bar Kochba rebellion when the Judean peasantry refuses to support Bar Kochba, and he responds by persecuting the peasantry, which at this point almost entirely practices a form of Judean Christianity very similar to Islam of today.

      The Romans defeat Bar Kochba & his elite supporters. The Romans for all intents wipe out the Judean elite or enslave it and take over the estates. The peasants welcome the replacement of the Judean exploiter class with Romans. It is not surprising that am haaretz (Hebrew for peasantry becomes a term of scorn in Judaism.)

      By the end of the 2nd century, the remnants of elite Temple Judaism is completely shattered. Judaism is being supplanted by forms of Christianity inside and outside the Roman Empire. With his redaction of the Mishnah, Judah the Prince tries to create a codex version of elite Hebrew-Aramaic Judaism comparable to Greek-language codex Judaism and to Greek-language codex (pre-Constantinian) Christianity.

      The Mishnah describes a Passover service modeled on Judean Christian practices and begins to emphasize the concept of Israel (a description practically unused by Hasmoneans and Herodians, who wanted to be Kings of Palestine but never achieved that goal) as Christian Judeans do.

      In the competition among codex Christianity and codex Greek Judaism and codex Hebrew-Aramaic Judaism, codex Christianity wins out, and both codex Greek Judaism and also codex Hebrew-Aramaic Judaism are left in the dust.

      With respect to the development of the Haggadah Text, with the exception of claiming Judea was depopulated after the Bar Kochba rebellion (only the native elite was ruined), Elon Gilad gives a reasonable description in Who Wrote the Passover Haggadah? of the development of the Haggadah text.

      • MHughes976 on April 20, 2019, 1:58 pm

        You’re a scholar and a gentleman, Yoni, but I’d demur a bit about your idea of a form of Christianity spread among the Judaean masses in Bar Kochba’s time. Is that compatible with the way Justin Martyr, who supposedly came from Nablus and knew the Palestine of those days first hand, speaks of Christians, defined in a purely spiritual sense, as ‘the true Israel’? If the people of the land had been Christians in great numbers would that not have afforded a rhetorical ploy too good to miss? ‘Not only are we Israel in spirit, we are now the people of the land!’

      • YoniFalic on April 21, 2019, 10:21 am

        I am an historian neither of the Church nor of early Christian doctrinal hair-splitting.

        Justin Martyr provides some discussion of Bar Kochba’s persecution of Christians (1 Apol. 31.6) however he might have defined a follower of Jesus.

        Later Judaic documents discuss Minim.

        I use the term Christian for anyone that considered himself a follower of Jesus whatever that person believed about Jesus’ messianic or divine status even if another contemporary follower of Jesus might not have considered him to follow the true Jesus. 1st-3rd century Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Syriac sources on early Christianity are often fragmentary, hagiographic, conflicting, and confusing. It is more of a (weird) hobby for me to try to make sense of this mishmash. I tend to ignore doctrinal issues and focus on political economics (my secular bias).

        We should remember that circumcision remained an issue of controversy until Constantine. Justin Martyr, who is a gentile Pauline Christian, might have wanted to avoid suggesting that Christian Judeans, who probably conformed to the Jamesian form of Christianity and who practiced (Biblical & not Rabbinic) circumcision, represented the true Israel as Christianity was becoming a non-Judean religion.

        I have somewhat idiosyncratic views of this history — possibly because it is not my area. I am unconvinced that Jamesian Christianity died out. I suspected that it persisted and morphed into Islam. Thus I view Islam to be probably a creation of the Judean followers of Jesus and much more a religion of the Land of Israel than Rabbinic Judaism is, which develops almost wholly in Mesopotamia.

      • gamal on April 21, 2019, 4:16 pm

        “Thus I view Islam to be probably a creation of the Judean followers of Jesus and much more a religion of the Land of Israel than Rabbinic Judaism is, which develops almost wholly in Mesopotamia”

        that made me recall many years ago reading parts of Robert Eisenmans “James Brother of Jesus: A Higher Critical Evaluation”, in Egypt our Popes always emphasise asceticism Copts love to fast and in my locality they participated in Ramadan enthusiastically, Iftar in particular some used to come all the way from Alexandria out to ugly Sharkia for the fasting and praying season they just enjoyed religion anyway here is Price reviewing Eisenman:

        “His working hypothesis is that the confusions, alterations, and obfuscations stem from an interest in covering over the importance, and therefore the identity, of the desposyni, the Heirs of Jesus, who had apparently functioned at least for Palestinian Christianity as a dynastic Caliphate similar to the Alid succession of Shi’ite Islam or the succession of Hasmonean brothers. It is a commonplace that the gospel texts treating Jesus’ mother, brothers and sisters either severely (Mark and John) or delicately (Luke, cf., the Gospel according to the Hebrews) are functions of ecclesiastical polemics over their leadership claims as opposed to Peter and the Twelve (analogous to the Companions of the Prophet in Sunni Islam) or to outsiders like Paul. It is equally well known that the Synoptic apostle lists differ between themselves and between manuscripts of each gospel. Why? Eisenman connects these phenomena with another, the confusion arising among early theologians over the siblings of Jesus as the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity became widespread. They had to be harmonized with the dogma, so brothers and sisters became cousins, step-siblings, etc. And characters became sundered. Mary suddenly had a sister named Mary because the mother of James, Joses, Simon, and Judas could no longer also be the mother of Jesus. And so on.

        The Gospels give prominence to an inner circle of three: Peter, John son of Zebedee and John’s brother James. And Galatians has the Three Pillars in Jerusalem: Peter, John son of Zebedee, and Jesus’ brother James. What happened here? Surely the gospels’ inner group of three is intended as preparatory for the Pillars, to provide a life-of-Jesus pedigree for the Pillars. But then why are there two different Jameses? Mustn’t they originally have been the same? Eisenman says they were, but certain factions wanted to play up the authority of the shadowy college of the Twelve against the earlier authority of the Heirs and found it politic to drive a wedge between James the brother of Jesus and the Twelve, so James becomes James the Just on the one hand and James the brother of John on the other”

  10. Marnie on April 20, 2019, 12:48 am

    ‘So that is the outline of my planned Passover meal. It is an attempt to quietly declare that Zionism is not tenable or moral and rites of Judaism that support Israel are also not tenable. I do not mean my Seder to be offensive to any of my fellow co-religionists, but if it is so be it.’

    Amen to that Ira.

  11. Arby on April 20, 2019, 1:47 pm

    Ira Glunts has good intentions and his criticism of the Christian Bible (which includes the Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek books) is understandable. (I await an explanation for the genocidal language of the Bible. The God I know isn’t a cold-blooded mass murderer.) I don’t agree with his approach to arbitrarily deciding which part of the book should be changed. The book is the book. Jehovah ‘did’ choose the Hebrew people. It only remains to understand that and explain it properly. No, Hebrews, and Jews today, are not special. That was never the thrust of all of this, which Bible students outside of mainstream (fake) Christianity know. As for fake Christians (collectively Christendom), they love seeing “thou” and “thy” and “thee.” The Christian Bible may have escaped the confines of Latin, and the blinkers placed on the people by those ancient fake religious leaders who appointed themselves as mediators between Jehovah and the people, but it still has a big enemy in modern day Christendom (who would have people see the Bible as an antique – beautiful but only for looking at – rather than a special historical record that can be read, understood and informative) and haters of God and Christianity (progressives to a large extent) generally.

  12. Marnie on April 22, 2019, 6:50 am

    Straight from the twitter feed of the very krooked netanyahoo: ‘A very happy Easter to all our Christian friends around the world!’

    But to the christians living in Bethlehem and other areas in palestine – not so much or more like not at all. The IOF put christians in Bethlehem on lock-down for 9 days presumably so jews can have ‘quiet’ for their annual and totally ironic ‘feast of freedom’, with al-Quds off limits to palestinian christians.

    You can’t make this stuff up…

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