Jewish tradition and values are often expressed most effectively through lifecycle events such as marriage, birth, parenting, sickness, and death and mourning. Rabbinic stories picture Hashem himself participating in such occasions, blessing the bride and groom, visiting the sick, and burying the dead (for example, b.Sotah 14a). Messiah Yeshua follows his example, from blessing a wedding in the Galilean town of Cana to comforting the sisters Marta and Miriam as they mourn for their deceased brother (John 2, 11). Issue 29 of Kesher addressed marriage and divorce and this issue will continue the lifecycle emphasis with articles on parenting, visiting the sick and bereaved, and tevilah—immersion or baptism.
We lead off with “Cultural Adolescence or Biblical Youth: a Religious Parent’s Challenge,” by Dr. Bruce Stokes. Dr. Stokes responds to the challenge that religious parents face by challenging the contemporary idea of adolescence itself. He contrasts the concept of adolescence with that of youth, as portrayed in Scripture and practiced in most cultures until our own day, and suggests steps to help remedy the cultural imbalance adolescence has created in our contemporary world. Dr. Stokes is well equipped to address this complex issue, as a professor of anthropology and behavioral science, active pastor, and close friend of the Messianic Jewish community for over thirty years. He is followed by another seasoned practitioner and thinker, Karen Worstell, writing on Livui Ruchani, or spiritual accompaniment, especially during times of illness, impending death, and bereavement. Worstell develops this theme by drawing on the rich deposit of Jewish resources, the example of Messiah Yeshua, and her own experience as a hospital chaplain.
Two more articles focus on baptism or immersion. First, Hanoch ben Keshet, an independent biblical researcher based in Israel, explores Yeshua’s use of the Greek terms baptizo- and baptisma in the Synoptic Gospels to suggest a radical re-reading of some familiar texts. The next article presents a more traditional overview of baptism-immersion in both Jewish and Christian traditions, authored by graduate student Christen Coulter.
Our final article departs from the lifecycle emphasis to treat a controversial analogy between the welcome of Gentiles into the ekklesia, as provided by the Jerusalem council of Acts 15, and welcoming homosexual persons today. Author Jon Olson has provided biblical balance and guidance on related topics in past issues of Kesher, as well as in the Evangelical Quarterly and Journal of Religious Ethics.
We round out Kesher Issue 33 with reviews of three recent books of major significance for Messianic Jewish studies: Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost, by Craig S. Keener; The Love of God, by Jon D. Levenson; and Reading Ephesians and Colossians after Supersessionism, by Lionel J. Windsor.
As we continue to bring Kesher: A Journal of Messianic Judaism to you, our readers, we seek to provide material that both advances discussion of Messianic Jewish issues and equips those pursuing a Messianic Jewish way of life. Thank you for being part of this vision.
Rabbi Russ Resnik