Our recent Shabbat discussions about the celebration of Holidays can fit into a greater Jewish tradition: How to deal with customs vs. laws. You might enjoy reading the article below from the Jewish Encyclopedia, in order to see how Rabbinic Judaism processes such controversies. Happy reading!
An old and general usage, or a religious practise, not based on any particular Biblical passage, and which has, through the force of long observance, become as sacred and binding as laws instituted by the proper authorities."Custom always precedes law" (Soferim xiv. 18). This is true not only of the Talmudic laws prescribed by the Rabbis, but also of many Biblical institutions. Many statutes and commandments, civil, moral, and ecclesiastical, found on the pages of Scripture undoubtedly had their origin in the customs of the people, which, however, became modified and fixed by being inscribed on the sacred books. Some of the customs, as, for instance, circumcision, or the prohibition of eating blood or of eating the "sinew which shrank," may date back to patriarchal days; others, again, may have a later or perhaps a foreign origin.
Question: I have read the entire Jewish New Testament and Commentary by David Stern and would like your thoughts on this translation with its emphasis on expressing its original and essential Jewishness. Your blog site is cool. My daughter just put me onto it. Terry Dodd
Answer: I like Stern’s translation, and think it is very useful.
Like most “one author” translations it has a specific emphasis and goal that could not be accomplished through existing translations. In this case, Stern wants to restore Jewish flavor and content from the ancient texts. Since his audience is modern, he often uses Jewish terms and phrases that are modern, idiomatic and specific to Jews familiar with “Yiddishkeit”, or Yiddish-flavored Jewishness—the Jewishness of Eastern Europe.
Obviously Yiddish was not spoken in ancient times. His restorationist goal is accomplished for his modern audience. But we shouldn’t think that Yeshua and his disciples, or Paul, spoke all of the phrases which Stern uses. And we can be sure they didn’t use any of the Yiddish terms.
What I love about Stern’s translation is that he causes Jewishness to be so overt that it can’t be missed. This stirs many thoughts which surely need stirring in the minds and hearts of modern readers. I say to David Stern : “Great job!”.
I think that Stern's New Testament Commentary is a must have resource for every Messianic believer, and for everyone who wants to better understand the New Testament itself. Stern has prepared an extraordinary work, with many references which would take a lifetime of study to become familiar with.