Creative Memories in the Bible:

Genealogies, Photographs and Living Again

At the time the Bible was put together in its modern form - oh, about 550 years before Yahshua - these toledot, or traditional genealogical guides, were committed to paper (actually, animal skins). We usually skip over the memories of the Jews, citing that such reading is too boring, and the names too hard to pronounce.

Jackson Snyder, M. Div.

 
 

Photography really is one of the miracles of modern The boy I knew when he was old - my great grandfather.  I wish I knew more.society. With it we effortlessly record and store pictures of family members in various stages of life, places and things that have been meaningful to us, our travels and adventures, our times of transition, our old age. We indeed create instant memories when we open the old photo album and look again at the deteriorating photos of our children as they were growing up, our parents or grandparents who have long since departed, our wedding pictures, and those secret places that bring back the feeling of romance that we once had, but lost somewhere along the way.

Yes, it is difficult to imagine a time before the advent of photography! Yet this process by which we record the days and people of our lives, has only been around for about 150 years. Before that, if the history of a family was to be preserved, it was often written down in the birth, death, and marriage record of the old family Bible. Such records usually did not make for interesting reading until long after those whose names were written down had passed into obscurity. Likely you have read the records in some old family Bible and wondered just who these people might be.

Recently, a man purchased a family Bible at a yard sale, and became very concerned that the families of those who were recorded in that Bible might be searching for some record of their ancestors. The man took the Bible and its names to the network television show In Search Of... in order to alert any living relatives about the Bible and the families listed within. He had searched unsuccessfully for 10 years, and, even though he had television exposure, was unsuccessful still. Nobody really cared about identifying an old list of names....

In Bible times, it was very important that everyone know what family (or tribe) they originated from, and what stories were known about their ancestral family members. At that time, family information, including genealogies and histories, were memorized in youth - sometimes the lists and memories were quite long, and took a great deal of time and concentration to commit to memory. These memories were transmitted from parents to children for generations and generations. Much information was lost over the hundreds of years of oral tradition, but some of the earliest recollections still remain for us to ponder today, some thousands of years later.

At the time the Bible was put together in its modern form - oh, about 550 years before Yahshua - these toledoths, or traditional genealogical guides, were committed to paper (actually, animal skins). We usually skip over the memories of the Jews, citing that such reading is too boring, and the names too hard to pronounce. We have coined a rather odious nickname for the toledoths of the Bible - we call them the begets. The person who brags about reading the Bible through often announces something like, Yeah, I read the whole thing, even the begets!

Yet the begets are really the photo albums or scrapbooks of our ancestors in the faith. In the same way these recorded memories served the earliest of the faithful, they serve us - to help us remember who we are. They are indeed the memories of a people our people - and they are creative memories. Take, for instance, the ancient toledoth of Cain, the son of Adam and Eve. If you have your Bible, turn to Genesis 4, beginning with verse 17. I will quote a modern translation for clarity (the NRSV). Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and [Cain] built a city, and named it Enoch after his son Enoch.

This little snapshot tells us a lot about Cain - that he was not a wanderer in the desert after all, but he actually became the first urbanite in the biblical record, naming his city after his first-born son, Enoch. (Who Cains wife was is another question - the toledoth is silent on this point!)

Now let us skip down to Cains ancestor, Lamech, in verse 19.

Genesis 4:{19} Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. {20} Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock. {21} His brothers name was Jubal; he was the ancestor of all those who play the lyre and pipe. {22} Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

From this section of begets, we are really making memories! Even though the record is silent about Cains wife, Lamechs wife is named - both of them. He is the first polygamist! Lamech was also a murderer and a braggart! Then came twins from Lamechs first wife, Adah - Jabal and Jubal. We know they were twins because of their similar names, like Tom and Tim, or Don and Dave! Jabal became the father of the Bedouins and shepherds; he must have worked really hard to scratch out a living. Although he may have been jealous of the soft life of his brother, Jubal, a professional musician who probably had it pretty easy, Jabal the farmer no doubt ate better!

Zillahs son, Tubal-cain became the first plumber, and thus may have made life easier for all the family members in the city of Enoch by installing running water and flush toilets! Finally, Naamah, Zillahs sister, was important enough to be remembered and recited for hundreds and hundreds of years. But, by the time her name was written down in scripture, nobody could remember what she was or did.

What a notorious family Lamech had! How creative the memories became down through the years! Talk about skeletons in the closet! But is it not wonderful that these memories have been preserved for our recollection for thousands of years?

Turn now to Genesis 49, verses 1 & 2:

{1} Then Jacob called his sons, and said: Gather around, that I may tell you what will happen to you in days to come. {2} Assemble and hear, 0 sons of Jacob; listen to Israel your father.

Here we have the blind patriarch Jacob on his deathbed, with his 12 sons assembled, and it is the fathers intention to prophesy the future destiny of each. Scholars tell us that priests of Yahweh, whose ancestors had been taken away in the Babylonian Captivity, compiled the Hebrew scriptures. These priestly editors used the story of the death of Jacob as a literary device to help bring solidarity to the captive Israelites. So the following prophecies, though spoken from a dying father to a son about the future, were also a means of educating each tribe about its past.

So Jacobs prophesies do a double duty: they give us his last words and they describe the characteristics of each tribe. For example, lets look at Jacobs prophecy to his son Issachar in verses 14 & 15:

{14} Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds; {15} he saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant; so he bowed his shoulder to the burden, and became a slave at forced labor.

This word would surely be obscure to the son of Jacob; but the priests knew history - that the tribe of Issachar had, in the past, surrendered its political independence to the notorious Canaanites in return for comfort and safety. It had been like a lazy mule sleeping among the sheep! The message that Bible editors were trying to convey to the people of the tribe of Issachar was, You surrendered then - dont surrender now! Here a memory has been restored from the past that will help inform the present for the extended family of Issachar! How many lessons might we learn from our ancestors if only we knew their stories?

Lets move up a few verses and explore Jacobs prophecy to Judah, verses 9 & 10:

{9} Judah is a lions whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches down, he stretches out like a lion, like a lioness-who dares rouse him up? {10} The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the rulers staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and the obedience of the peoples is his.

The lion was a symbol of royalty and reign, just as it is today. Judah will rule until he is recognized. We, the people of the New Covenant, understand this scripture to be fulfilled in King Yahshua/Yahshua, who was of the tribe of Judah and who has been recognized as the King of Kings. Thus, through the memory of a priest of long ago, we are able to experience a present reality: that the Messiah of Judah was to come, has come, and is coming. Because somebody created a memory over 2500 years ago, we can today say with one voice, Maranatha.

It is then to Yahshua we turn; that is, to his toledoth. Find Matthew chapter 1, where we will look at just a few verses. Matthew tells us that he is writing (verses 1 & 2):

An account of the genealogy (toledoth or geneseon) of Yahshua the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. {2} Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers...

We know exactly where Yahshua came from, just as in our study of Genesis 49. He came from the family of Judah. As Revelation tells us, Yahshua is the lion of Judah.

But next we find something very unusual in a toledoth of the first century: the mention of women; Can you find the women? (...) Like in verse 3: Judah [was] the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar...; and in 5, there are two: Salmon [was] the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth.... Also check verses 6: David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah..., and finally 16: Jacob [was] the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Yahshua was born, who is called the Messiah. No other toledoth contemporaneous with Matthew mentions women. (Check Luke 3:23ff if you want.) Some scholars believe that Matthew mentions these to let us know more about the mother of Yahshua. What do these women have in common?

Briefly, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba were very heroic women - all faced incredible odds successfully. All were probably Gentiles and the birth of each of their sons mentioned in Scripture was unique. These women were truly ahead of their time and would easily fit the modern idea of independent, liberated career woman. Maybe you can think of other things they held in common. What Matthew is trying to do is to portray Mary in the good company of these courageous women. What Matthew doesnt say in writing this memoir is almost (but not quite) as good as a photograph. And had he followed tradition, leaving the women out, we would be the poorer for it. (What other conclusion might we make regarding Mary in context with these other women?)

Finally, turn to the institution of the last supper in Luke 22. Yahshua is serving his disciples just before his passion and death. In verse 15, Yahshua gives away his emotions: With desire I have desired to eat with you. Such a redundant word construction in the Greek designates a fervent, passionate need to be with his friends in his final hours. Oh, how grieved is he! In verse 19, it says that Yahshua: took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. The Greek word translated remembrance is anamnhsin (anamnēsin), which means remembering by reliving the experience. Yahshua passionately instructs his disciples that, as they break bread together, they are to be reminded that he gave them bread and that they are to relive the moment over again. The next time you participate in the Lords Supper, remember that the word remembrance also means reliving.

What Yahshua started is just about as close to creating a living reality as possible. Yet, the old saying is true - One Picture is worth a thousand words. When we look into that old album of pictures that collects dust underneath the coffee table, do we not experience anamnesis, a reliving of the special moments of our lives? Shouldnt we, as the writers of the Scriptures, preserve our memories and heritage for those who will later cherish them in the reliving? Like Moses creatively remembered Cain in Genesis, shouldnt we be careful to convey the identities and missions of our ancestors to our children, and who we are to our childrens children? Like Jacob and the Babylonian priests, shouldnt we let our tribe know where it has come from, so that the way to where it is going might be illuminated? Like Matthew, shouldnt we take the time to organize our memories, and set them out in provocative and invocative ways? And, like Yahshua, should we allow our family members to miss the thrill of reliving because we have left our memories to deteriorate?

May 3, 1994

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

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The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?