Notes from our June Meeting

PCN Meeting 1st June 2015
Present: Nigel, Julie, Barry, Michael, Chris, Liz, Jan, Brian P, Gareth, Kerstin

Before the main discussion it was suggested that meeting notes should be added to the website where they can be accessed by members and available to prospective members. This will demonstrate that the group is active.

Based on Bishop Spong’s essay dated 24th October 2013 “Part IV Matthew The Sermon on the Mount”.
Brian introduced us to this via Bible reading, Matthew 5, 6 and 7. Chapter 5 the Beatitudes introduce these chapters. Chapter 6:1-18 giving to the needy plus the Lord’s Prayer then fasting.

Michael Goulder’s “Topics for Pentecost” introduced with handout giving Jewish Festivals Celebrated after the Exile Period. (Spong is a disciple of Goulder and the root of Spongs thinking.)
Suggested that the content of Matthew’s gospel can be seen against the Jewish “Lectionary” - see handout.
E.G. The Jewish date Sivan 8 to Ab 5 corresponds with Jewish Pentecost and Law giving by Moses (Genesis and Exodus readings). Goulder argues that the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel fits against and is a reworking of the readings for Jewish Pentecost.

3rd paragraph of Spong – Sermon on the Mount roughly represents the giving of the law.
Early followers (of Jesus) met in Synagogues and during Shabat reflected on sayings of Jesus. Matthew summarised and reinterpreted this in the light of their experiences of Jesus. The freedom/spirit behind the Torah was seen/discovered.

When thrown out of the Temple Jewish Christians developed their own scriptures. Nobody had their own copies of these but eventually wrote down what they remembered.
Chronologically the Jewish scriptures start with Noah – the coming of the end of the world.
Current Genesis chapter order not the “original”. For this reason the correlation of gospel and Jewish texts may not be exact (Goulder’s thesis). Is this an artificial construction??

Psalm 119 is a guided meditation over 24 hours, references to the law and keeping it, words for worship. Spong suggests that the Psalm 119, with 8 responses, is now replaced by Beatitudes. Goulder says there is more than this.

(Spong’s book The Reinterpretation of the Gospels starts with Mark and covers 8 months of the Jewish year this is a radical/orthodox approach.)

If Matthew wrote the Sermon on the Mount and not Jesus how do we treat it? Words matter not who said them.

What should the radical interpretation be? The life of a man who was God soaked revealed this truth. He possibly spoke in this kind of way, Matthew encapsulated/distilled this as poetry. The Jewish language is poetical; sounds like poetry, the English translation reflects this.

Authentic Jesus or invented? Commonly accepted sayings accepted by his followers.
Fasting? – an early church obsession

Marriage? - Matthew assumes Roman law.

Judging? – eradicating evil thoughts from human heart.

Michael recommends:
“Non Violent Communication” Michael Rosenberg
“The Righteous Mind” Jonathan Haidt – morality comes out before we think about it.
“The Cry of Wonder” Gerald Hughes
We are conditioned by thinking of good and bad, not how we react…”I enjoyed my meal there” rather than “I had a good meal”.

(The Narnia novels – one per planet?)

Deuteronomy – to be read by prospective Jewish converts, led to circumcision then initiation.

Mark Braverman (Jewish and a USA psychologist) “Fatal Embrace” appreciates Jesus and sees him as the fulfilment of Judaism.

Next Meeting:

6th July

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