2017

ACADEMIC CORNER

(taken from the Nov.-Dec. 2016 issue of the LCJE Bulletin, pp. 19-20)

NOTICE of PUBLICATION: New Paper of Interest on the Modern Messianic
Movement

Ben Snyder is a doctoral student in Biblical studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, in Wilmore, Kentucky, USA (asburyseminary.edu). He is a fomer missionary with Mission Aviation Fellowship to the Congo. Ben joined LCJE in 2015 and attended the 10th International Conference in Jerusalem. Our conference theme, “From Jerusalem and Back: An Unchanging Gospel,” served as inspiration for an article he recently published in the Asbury Journal. It is titled, “From Jerusalem to Jerusalem: Essential Contours of the Modern Messianic Movement.” In his abstract, Ben notes that the paper “appeals to a missiological model that offers a framework to aid the Gentile believer in understanding the movement.” Further, he notes that, “As a result of this awareness, this author hopes to see concrete engagement on the part of Gentiles with this expanding work of God among Jewish people.” He adds that the Messianic movement, while not seeking to overturn the core doctrines of the faith, may as a community nevertheless help the Church to “restate them in a richer way that honors their voice and better reflect the origin of our faith.” The end of the paper contains a useful list of “Resources Related to the Messianic Movement,” divided into the following categories: Schools Offering Degrees or Training in Messianic Judaism; Academic Journals Focused on Messianic Judaism; Messianic Congregations; Messianic Literature & Resources for Evangelism; and Ministries.

Available for Download
The paper can be downloaded here.

Dissertation Topic
In a recent development, I received an email from Ben stating that his dissertation proposal has been approved, and the tentative title of his dissertation will be: “Ritual Purity and the Origin of Immersion (baptism) in Jesus’ Name.” Interested readers can reach Ben at: ben.snyder@asburyseminary.edu

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Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) Annual Conference (San Antonio, Texas)
A session titled “Messianic Jewish Studies: History, Theology and Praxis” was given at the 68th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) Conference, held in San Antonio, Texas from November 15-17, 2016. There were four presenters at this year’s session, which was chaired by LCJE President Tuvya Zaretsky. The presenters were also all LCJE members, either individually or through their agencies. Daniel Nessim of Jews for Jesus, presented on “The Trinity and the Didache.” (The overall theme for ETS this year was “The Trinity”). Galen Peterson of the American Remnant Mission/Western Seminary presented on the topic, “The Concept of the Remnant as a Key to Understanding God’s Message of Redemption.” Seth Postell of Israel College of the Bible gave a presentation on the theme, “The Tabernacle as a ‘Body’ of God.”Jim Sibley, who is also now with Israel College of the Bible, gave a paper titled, “The Messianic Jewish Apologetic Purpose of John 9.” As it turned out, I did not attend ETS myself this year, but I ran into Jim at the airport in Richmond, Virginia while he was on his way to ETS and I was on my way to represent LCJE at the Messianic Leadership Roundtable (MLR) 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. Jim and I were able to spend some brief quality time together, and he gave me an ‘advance copy’ of his John 9 paper.

“The Messianic Jewish Apologetic Purpose of John 9”
Jim’s major theme in this paper is that the story of the man born blind in John 9 is also symbolic of the general obduracy of the Jewish people toward the Messiahship of Yeshua. This chapter also “epitomizes the apologetic purposes of the entire Gospel of John.” As the author states, John 9 is, in fact, “the Gospel of John in miniature - a microcosm of the entire book.” At the same time, “As straightforward and simple as the narrative in John 9 is on the surface, it is complex and nuanced upon closer examination.” The paper has many facets, but one of the most fascinating sections deals with the connection between John 9 and Isaiah 44:18. Remember in John 9:6 when Jesus smeared the blind man’s eyes with mud (clay and spittle) as He was preparing to restore his sight? Biblical interpreters through the centuries have wrestled with the meaning of this passage. But Jim shows very convincingly the link between this act and Isaiah 44:18, where God has “smeared over” the eyes of the majority of Israel “so that they cannot see...” As Sibley states: “So the blind man in John 9 becomes a picture, or an object lesson, of the blindness of the Jewish people.” Under Yeshua’s touch, he who was blind can now see. Besides his own physical healing, the blind man also represents the individual person who responds to Jesus in faith. That person will be taken from spiritual blindness to spiritual sightedness. Not so for the leaders of Israel nor for the majority of the people. They rejected Him and remained blind to His Messiahship. But, although that blindness is viewed negatively, it also occurred according to the plan of God. As Jim states, “It is not, however, that the spiritual blindness of Israel thwarted God’s mission for Messiah - instead, it was for this very purpose that God had sent Him. The blindness of Israel thus served God’s purpose.” There is a lot more detail to this important paper. I urge interested readers to contact Jim Sibley directly if you would like to know more. His email address is:
jimsibley@ymail.com

Messianic Leadership Roundtable (MLR) - 2016
This is also as good a place as any to discuss the previously mentioned Messianic Leadership Roundtable (MLR) 2016. While it wasn’t an academic conference per se, the MLR did contain many interesting and useful sessions and wonderful opportunities for fellowship among Messianic leaders. The MLR is sponsored by Jonathan Bernis and Jewish Voice Ministries International. Jewish Voice is also a supporter of LCJE. This was my first time to attend the MLR. It was a great blessing and a time for reunion with some old friends that, in one case, I had not seen for decades. It was also a fruitful venue for sharing with some Messianic leaders who are not as familiar with LCJE as others. The theme of this year’s MLR was trust. Stephen M.R. Covey, author of the best-selling book, The Speed of Trust, was the keynote speaker. Dan Juster spoke on “Building Trust in Leadership Teams.” Todd Land and Gunnar Johnson, both pasors at Gateway Church in Dallas, spoke on “Building a Ministry Culture of Trust” and “Building Trust in Handling Ministry Finances,” respectively. Gunnar has shared how he and the Gateway leadership believe that their church has been blessed as much as it has because as a church they have been committed to ministry “to the Jew first” according to Romans 1:16.

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While all the information published in the Nov.-Dec. 2016 issue of the LCJE Buletin for the “Academic Corner” was U.S.-based, I invite all LCJE members around the world to send in notices of publication and academic conference information related to Jewish evangelism and the Messianic movement so that the entire network can be aware of such developments.

Jim Melnick
lcje.int@gmail.com