Men's Discovery Discussion Materials

To understand Biblical texts in Judaism is realized through peshat (literal meaning), remez (deep meaning), derash (comparative meaning), and sod (hidden meaning ). The Midrash concentrates somewhat on deep meaning but mostly on comparative meaning. Many different methods are employed to derive deeper meaning from a text. This is not limited to the traditional thirteen textual tools which are used in the interpretation of halakha (Jewish law). In many cases, a dialogue is expanded manifold: handfuls of lines in the Biblical narrative may become long philosophical discussions. It is unclear whether the Midrash assumes these dialogues took place in reality or if this refers only to subtext or religious implication.

The Questions

When the Hebrew faithful set these words to paper, what was the message that they wanted to pass down through the generations? (New American Standard Bible)

  • Genesis 1:29-30 Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so.
  • Genesis 9:8-10 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, "Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.
  • Job 12:7-8 But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; and let the fish of the sea declare to you.
  • Proverbs 30:8-9 Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
  • Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
  • Jeremiah 2:7 I brought you into the fruitful land to eat its fruit and its good things but you came and defiled My land, and My inheritance you made an abomination.

Likewise, when followers of Jesus created these writings, what was the message within? (New American Standard Bible)

  • Matthew 22:37-40 And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
  • Acts 4:32: And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
  • Acts 14:17: And yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."

Contemplations

  • "The Biblical texts we need for this journey are not only those about the goodness of God's creation, the lilies of the field, the coming of rain in the desert. The essential texts describe Jesus' ministry, his call to heal, to bring hope to suffering humanity, to do justice, to bring peace to those -especially the most vulnerable - who are in danger." -Robert K. Musil, “Global Climate Change: Polar Bears, Penguins and People” (Musil speaks of the environment not simply as something outside of us, but in us as well. Molecules pass through us, and through the ecosystems that surround and sustain us. Hence, modern science lends a whole new meaning to the Biblical claim that we are equal in God's eyes, regardless of borders.)
  • "Some critics…charge that the Christian tradition sees no intrinsic moral and religious significance in the world of nature, that its value is only the value it has for human beings. Is the denial of the connectedness of life and the reduction of the value of other forms of life to their usefulness to humanity really compatible with a responsible Christian doctrine of creation?" -Daniel Migliore, “Faith Seeking Understanding”, p.95
  • "Creation suffers most when we lose our sense of the sacred." - Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells
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