Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tribute: New York State of Mind, Billy Joel, American Entertainer

Hello Grafted In Readers,

Today is Tuesday, May 09 in my corner of blog land. Our weather continues to be Fall-like with light frost overnight, and daytime temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees C, which generally means between 50 and 65 degrees F. Mostly sunny, but we have had our share of rain and some flooding too.

Today our look back is right here in the good old USA. It is based on a reference from The Writer's Almanac about one of our entertainers who has had quite the illustrious career. See below.

It's the birthday of Billy Joel, born in the Bronx (1949). Soon after he was born, his family moved to Long Island's Levittown, the first suburb in America. His dad was a classical pianist, and his mom made sure that young Billy learned the piano too. He started playing when he was four years old, and showed a natural talent. His father left when Billy was eight, and his mother moved with the two kids to Hicksville. She worked hard to support the family, but money was very tight. Billy fell in with a rough crowd, and took up boxing in his teen years.
He was not quite 15 when he saw the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, and decided then and there that he would make music his career. He joined a succession of bands. He sneaked into a Jimi Hendrix concert by carrying around a bunch of electrical cables and pretending to be a roadie. He eventually dropped out of school to work on his first album, Cold Spring Harbor (1971), which was not a success. He moved to Los Angeles and took a job playing piano in a lounge on Wilshire Boulevard, using the stage name "Bill Martin." That job ended up inspiring his first big hit, "Piano Man." He stepped away from the pop music business for a while, beginning in the 1990s, in favor of composing classical music, which he released on the album Fantasies and Delusions (2001).
"I never wanted to be an oldies act, but I suppose I am," he said in a recent interview. "I never wanted to be a nostalgia act, but I suppose I am. But I listen to Beethoven, and that's really old stuff. Is that nostalgia? To me, that music is as alive as it ever was."

Kevod Yeheveh, His presence is with you and may He give us a new song of praise to sing!

Mellow Rock
David Russell

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Look Back: Faith Heritage In Your Bible?

Hello Grafted In Readers,

Today is Monday, May 1 in my corner of blog land; happy May Day!
We are returning to our look back at faith heritage this post. For those of you who have Bibles with both the Tanakh and the New Covenant Scriptures, as you read through your Table of Contents, what is the title of the Book after Hebrews?

In some translations it may be titled, Jacob.

An informative Daily History post pasted below from Biblical Archaeology Review will provide an explanation:
I invite you to read on.
The problem of names surfaced at a recent Bible study at the St. Paul Union Church in Antalya, Turkey. Pastor Dennis Massaro was discussing the three men named “James” in the New Testament: Two were apostles, and the third was the leader of the Jerusalem church and author of the eponymous letter—the Book of James. Participants in the study came from a range of countries, including the Netherlands, Iran, Mexico, Moldova and Cameroon. When I asked what the name of these men was in their languages, they all said “Jacob.”
When I was teaching a course on the New Testament General Letters (Hebrews through Jude), I began by introducing the Book of Jacob, also known as the Book of James. Students were perplexed until they learned that Jacob is the proper translation of the Greek name Iakōbos. One student wrote later that knowing this “turned my understanding of the writing upside down.” Another observed that “with the name change, the loss of the Jewish lineage occurs.”
So how did the Jewish name Ya’akov become so Gentilized as James? Since the 13th century, the form of the Latin name Iacomus began its use in English. In the 14th century, John Wycliffe made the first Bible translation into English and translated Iakobus as James. (However, in both the Old and New Testaments he arbitrarily used the name Jacob for the patriarch). In all future English translations the name stuck, especially after 1611, when King James I sponsored the translation then called the Authorized Version but since 1797 called the King James Bible.
So what is lost by using James instead of Jacob? First, it has created an awkwardness in academic writing. Scholars providing a transliteration of James indicate Iakōbos, which even lay readers know is not the same. Hershel Shanks has noted that the reason Israeli scholars failed to understand the significance of the eponymous ossuary is that they didn’t connect James with Ya’akov.1
Second, James’s ancestral lineage is lost, as the student noted above. In Matthew’s genealogy, we learn that Joseph’s father was named Jacob (Matthew 1:16) and that his family tree included the patriarch Jacob (Matthew 1:2). James was thus named after his grandfather. As Ben Witherington writes, “It is clear that the family of ‘James’ was proud of its patriarchal heritage.”2 So Jacob was the third Jacob in the family.
The religion section of most bookstores includes an amazing array of Bibles. In our free eBook The Holy Bible: A Buyer’s Guide, prominent Biblical scholars Leonard Greenspoon and Harvey Minkoff expertly guide you through 21 different Bible translations (or versions) and address their content, text, style and religious orientation.
Third, James’s Jewish cultural background is minimized. Tal Ilan identifies Jacob as the 15th most popular name in Palestine in antiquity, with 18 known persons carrying it.3 Including both the Eastern and Western Diasporas, Jacob was the third most popular Jewish name, with 74 occurrences.
Fourth, the Jewish literary heritage is muddled. The Book of Jacob (i.e., the Book of James) is addressed to “the twelve tribes in the diaspora” (James 1:1) and full of references and allusions to the Torah and Wisdom Literature of the Jewish Bible (Christians’ Old Testament). Scholars consider James the most “Jewish” book in the New Testament. Its genre is considered to be a diaspora letter like Jeremiah 29:1–23 and the apocryphal works The Epistle of Jeremiah, 2 Maccabees 1:1–2:18, and 2 Apocalypse of Baruch 78–86.
For these reasons, changing English translations of James to Jacob makes a lot of sense. In my lifetime we have adapted to a number of name changes: Bombay to Mumbai, Peking to Beijing, Burma to Myanmar, and Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. These changes were soon incorporated by the media as well as in subsequent editions of geographical and historical books. Making such an onomastic adjustment need not be too difficult in religious circles, either.
But can such a switch be made practically? Biblical scholars and publishers would need to agree that continued use of “James” is linguistically indefensible and culturally misleading. Most difficult to change would be Bible translations, which are very conservative. To start, a footnote could denote that James is really Jacob. And while we’re at it, let’s rehabilitate Jacob as the name of two of Jesus’ disciples/apostles. These connections, now lost only for English readers, were caught by Greek-speaking audiences as well as modern readers of translations in most other languages. Let’s give Jacob his due.
 

Kevod Yeheveh, His presence be with us always.

Mellow Rock
David Russell

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Saying Good-Bye to Loved Ones

Hello Grafted in Readers,

Today is Tuesday, April 25 2017, in my corner of blog land. It has been a rather sobering month for my immediate family, as my 92-year-old father has been in and out of the hospital in another US state. He had cardiac issues which turned out to be gastrointestinal in nature. Presently, he is home, but talking with him on the phone, one can tell the stress is taking its toll even though he is strong and has a strong faith in G-d. Now his focus is learning how to "hang in there." What does that mean to any of us?

I am going to take a segue from our Jewish Heritage discussion, and return to the Mayo Clinic HouseCall newsletter of this week. There is an excellent article about caring for a loved one who is approaching the end of life. I cannot highlight all the tips given here. I'll give the starters though.

Our role, not easy, is to provide comfort and relief. Hopefully, some discussion has occurred to plan for that.
- Is care going to be at home by family, friends, or an agency or hospice?
- If inpatient care is chosen, will a holistic approach be considered? This provides symptom and pain relief, some spiritual/psychological care, focus on symptom control if supports are not to be used. This would be like respirators, ventilators, dialysis, etc.

Saying Good-bye
"You can help your loved one communicate their final wishes to family and friends. Encourage him or her to share their feelings, thanks or forgiveness, and give others a chance to say good-bye. This may stimulate discussion about important, unsaid thoughts, which can be meaningful for everyone."

The article suggests having the loved one leave a legacy albeit some letters, recording, or communication that conveys who they are and what is important to them that others recall. My mom before her passing, urged us to think of her when looking at the stars in the night sky. Her name was Stella, which means star.

Again, these are some things we can do to make the end of life for our loved ones a bit more graceful for them and perhaps for us too. It is by no means an exhaustive list.

I sent my dad an email this week. On the phone, I told him the email contains the current book I am working on, Waiting for Messiah, and it is the draft form. I don't know how much time he has left, but wanted him to have something of me in his life. If he reads any of it or not, that is strictly up to him. Right now, when we talk, my goal is to have each conversation be respectful and treat him with dignity. Honor your father and mother that it may be well with you. Very, very true!

Mellow Rock
David Russell