7 November 1982 Death of Peter Schneider, Jewish Refugee, Anglican Priest, Rainbow Group Founder #otdimjh

Canon Herman Peter Schneider (1928-1982) was born of Jewish parents in Czechoslovakia. He came to England at the age of 10 as a refugee from Nazi persecution. He was subsequently brought up as a Christian and ordained in the Church of England in 1954. Following a London curacy, he became chaplain at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. In 1960, he went to Israel as chaplain to St Luke’s, Haifa. In 1964, he became Adviser to the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem in Jewish-Christian Relations, pioneering dialogue and mutual understanding between Jews and Christians beyond the bounds of his own denomination, In 1973, he returned to England and continued this work through the Church of England and numerous ecumenical organisations while serving in parishes in Suffolk and Sussex.

Black and white photograph showing the exterior of Lammas | Courtesy of Chiselhurst Society Ribbons Collection
https://www.bromleyfirstworldwar.org.uk/content/places/lammas-vad-hospital-chislehurst The old Victorian detached house played a significant role in the Second World War when it became home to young Jewish refugees rescued from Prague by the Barbican Mission for the Jews. A bench at the end of Lubbock Road commemorates this episode. The Mission continued to provide a home for children into the late 1950s.

I have been researching the life of Peter Schneider, who was a friend of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of Great Britain but focused his activity of Jewish-Christian relations and the place of dialogue. He was a much loved founder of the Rainbow Groups in Jerusalem and London, and an influential member of the Council of Christians and Jews.

Reflection: At his funeral the Archbishop of York preached in Westminster Abbey on the text of Isaiah 53:11 “He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied”.  Thank you Lord, for your servant Peter Schneider, and the travail of his soul to bring Jews and Christians together in healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and mutual support. May we as Jewish disciples of Yeshua continue to be ambassadors of your reconciling love, that restores us to yourself and to one another. In your Suffering Servant Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.

Below are some articles about him:

Rainbow Group material for 1978-80. –

Many other names should be recorded here: Rev. Peter Schneider, Canon of the Anglican Church who worked for mutual understanding and reconciliation between Jews and Christians both in Israel and Britain. He founded the Jerusalem and London Rainbow Groups as well as the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel. He was secretary to the advisers of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on interfaith matters. https://www.notredamedesion.org/archived/www.notredamedesion.org/en/dialogue_docs17d7.html?a=3b&id=574

A Unique Childhood Memoir of Life in Wartime Britain in the Shadow of the HolocaustBy Vera Gissing



The emergence of the Kindertransport in Prague: the Barbican Mission to the Jews, a unique endeavour




He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.  Issiah 53, 11 Memorial service for Canon Peter Schneider Westminster Abbey, London 25/01/1983


Click to access Immanuel_15_105.pdf


Sweeter than honey : Christian presence amid Judaism / Peter Schneider; introduction by M.A.C. Warren.

Schneider, Peter, 1928-1982.London : SCP Press; 1966

Rainbow group – London and Jerusalem


Jerusalem Perspectives edited with Geoffrey Wigoder

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3 November 2021 Funeral of Father Gregor Pawlowski (Jacob Zvi Hersz Griner) in Israel and Poland #otdimjh


Father Gregor in Israel

Childhood with family

Father Gregor Pawlowski was born in Poland as a Jew on August 23,1931 to his parents, Mendel son of Zeev and Miriam daughter of Isaac Griner. His name was Jacob (Jakub) Zvi “Hersch” (Hersz) Griner. His family lived in the town of Zamosc which was in the region of Lublin. The family had four children: two sons, Hayim and Jacob Zvi, and two daughters, Schindel and Sura (Yiddish for Sarah). Hayim was the oldest and Jacob Zvi was the youngest, the Benjamin of his parents. He was called “Hersch” at home which was the Yiddish translation of the Hebrew Zvi (which means deer). The family had a small business, trading in wood and coal, and they were not very well off. They were very religious. On Sabbath and holidays the children accompanied their parents to synagogue. Father Gregor remembers the Jewish holidays which were celebrated with great devotion. At home, the family spoke Yiddish (the Jewish German dialect of Eastern European Jews) but as a child he learnt some Hebrew from a “melamed” (a Jewish teacher) in the “heder” (the Jewish school). He has good memories of that time. He knew a little Polish which he learnt from Polish peasants in the village where his parents rented a grove of fruit trees. Relations between Poles and Jews were generally good even if that was not always the case.

The older brother of the family, Hayim, read newspapers and he said that the situation of the Jews would be very bad if the Germans entered Poland. No one in the family thought it would happen so quickly. In 1939, the year Hersch was supposed to begin first grade, the Second World War began, In his memory is engraved the sound of the German fighter planes that dropped bombs. The family house was consumed in flames and they had to move in with relatives. After a short time, the Russians entered Zamosc and announced that whoever wanted to go with them to Russia could do so. Among those who left was Hayim who, it would seem, already sensed what was to come. After some time the letters from him stopped coming.

For the Jews a very difficult period of Nazi occupation began. The parents of the family dealt in trade in order to get something to eat. The sisters helped the parents and on market days lent a bucket to the peasants and also carried water themselves in order to water the horses in exchange for some money. Also the boy Hersch helped to provide for the family. For example, in autumn when the peasants brought the produce of the fields for the Nazis, he would hang onto the carts in order to get his hands on some potatoes, leeks or even a bit of cabbage. Often he was lashed with the whip but who noticed when one was suffering the pangs of hunger.

Hunger forced one to steal. Jewish children broke shop windows and stole whatever could be stolen. Hersch followed them. He picked up an alarm clock but the guard caught him and brought him before the Jewish Council of the community. “Why are you stealing boy?” they asked him. “So that I can get some money for food to eat,” he replied. They took the clock from him and gave him some money.

One day, the Germans caught some Jews and among them the father of the family. Hersch feared that something bad might happen to his father. He drew close to him and a German soldier began to shout at him and wanted to beat him. Hersch burst into tears and his father came to him quickly and embraced him. He turned to the soldier and said: “This is my son, do not hurt him”. The soldier did nothing but his father ordered him to return home and not to worry about him. The Germans forced his father and the other Jews to ride on horses and made fun of them. The ordered them to mount the horses and then whipped the horses. His father had never ridden a horse before and so it was no wonder that he fell off.

After some time, all the Jews of Zamosc were transferred to a neighborhood that was declared a ghetto. They lived there in constant fear. Almost every day there were frightening events. For example, a short time after they had moved to the ghetto, the Germans came to one house and brought out a Jew. His wife was trembling all over and begged them to let her give a coat to her husband. The Germans answered that he was in no need of a coat. The killed him in the street without any reason and left his body lying there.

The father of the family worked forced labor for the Germans. One day, before leaving for work, he said farewell to everyone and expressed doubts that he would return. He was told that if he felt that way it would be best that he not go. He said that he had to go. He embraced each one of the family and went on his way, his eyes filled with tears. That day his father did not return. Hersch waited for his father outside in the street. He even ran after a man who looked like his father from behind. However, he was disappointed. Everyone wept that day. It was an enormous blow for the family.

Some time after the disappearance of the father, the Germans destroyed the Zamosc ghetto. The Jews were marched to the town of Izbica and housed in the homes of the Jews who had already been deported from the town. Shortly thereafter, there was an Akzion (the arrest of Jews) and many people tried to hide including the mother and her three children. They found shelter in a shop cellar in the town but the cry of a baby alerted the Nazis and their Ukrainian collaborators and they entered the dark place and arrested everyone. The boy Hersch managed to escape and the curious Poles who had gathered around had mercy on him and allowed him to run away without drawing the attention of the Nazis to him. They took the people out of the cellar and brought them to fire station. There they were held in freezing cold for about ten days without food and anyone attempting escape was shot. They brought out groups of tens and took them to the town cemetery. There pits were prepared and the Jews were made to stand on the edge of the pits and were shot. Thus, about a thousand Jews from Zamosc and among them Hersch’s mother and two sisters were murdered.

Life alone in the dark days of the Shoah

Hersch fled to the edge of the town of Izbica and there a Pole directed him to a house where he might find food and shelter. The next day, the people of that house feared to keep him any longer and he again sought shelter. He entered a courtyard and lay in a pile of wood which had been gathered for heating. There too the residents of the house identified him as a Jew and he was again forced to flee.

Hersch returned to Zamosc and found refuge with acquaintances of the family. He entered the area of a forced labor camp and found there a bed and some warmth. Thus he wandered from camp to street and from street to camp. Sometimes people pitied him and took him under their protection. One Jewish woman, whose son had been murdered by the Nazis, took him to her hut and fed him there. As she carried him on her shoulders, she told him: “When I carry you I feel like you are the son they took from me”.

The Poles taught him the prayers of their Catholic religion. One day a Jewish boy asked him in the street whether he wanted to live. Hirsch answered: “Yes!” Then the boy explained that he need to acquire a Catholic baptism certificate. The boy told him to wait a moment and brought him a baptism certificate. From that time on, Hersch adopted the details that were written in the document. The name on the document was Gregor (Grzegorz) Pawlowski and from that time on he bore this Polish name.

One day, as he was warming himself in the booth of the Jewish guard of a forced labor camp, two Nazi soldiers entered and began to interrogate him. They even took him to the Gestapo headquarters. He showed them the baptism certificate and was released. With danger hovering over him constantly, Hersch/Gregor was permanently on the run, fearing that someone might identify him as a Jew. Once he was in the house of some Poles. A government bureaucrat came to the house and asked who the boy was. “An orphan,” they answered and the bureaucrat said that he would send staff from the orphanage to take him. Gregor fled from the place, fearing they would know her was a Jew when they discovered that he was circumcised.

In own village, he found work as a cowherd. Finally he found a family who took care of him and in their home he began to learn how to read and write in Polish. One summer day, when he was out with the cows of this family, the cows ran away from him. The sister of the master of the house screamed “Jew” at him and again he was forced to flee. Again he found refuge, again he fled either because of fear or mistreatment.

Finally, the end of the war arrived. He went out to see the Red Army of the Russians which entered to liberate Poland. He abandoned his work with the cows. When he returned home to the place where he was living he was told that he was fired. They gave him a shirt in return for the month’s work. He went on his way without knowing where he was going. On the road, a cart passed by and the peasants asked him where he was going. When he revealed to them that he had no home and that he was an orphan they invited him to join them. Thus, he reached a village next to the city of Tomaszov-Lubelski. Gregor felt ill and the peasants advised him to go to the Red Cross in the city. There he was brought to a doctor who wrote a letter so that he would receive free treatment in the hospital. From the hospital he returned to the Red Cross and from there he was placed in an orphanage run by two Catholic nuns. There were only seven children there in the beginning. One of the nuns registered him in school and he began grade 2 but after two weeks was already put up to grade 3. In the summer he completed grade 4.

When he was transferred to another orphanage, he met with a priest who came to prepare the children for first communion. Gregor did not say that he was a Jew but he had to explain to the priest that he had not been baptized. The priest, who did not fully believe the boy, baptized him on condition (that he had not been baptized before). He received baptism on June 27, 1945 when he was almost 14 years old.

Gregor as a scout

Gregor completed school in the city of Polawy and during his years at school he served the Church faithfully. He was a very religious youth and defended the Church when he heard the critique of a Communist party member who came to lecture against the Church and religion to an audience of young people. He was even called in for questioning by the secret police because of his religious positions. The secret police wanted him to spy on the nuns and he firmly refused. Despite his refusal, he finished high school.

Entry into the seminary and a new life as a priest

Gregor at end of high school

When he finished high school, Gregor was accepted as a seminarian in the major seminary in Lublin. At that time, only one nun knew that he was a Jew. When he had already taken the robe of a seminarian and was in his second year of studies he told the rector of the seminary that he was a Jew. After the rector had consulted with the bishop, he told Gregor that there was no interdiction for a Jew to be a priest. However, some of the other priests feared that when Gregor would become a priest he would have problems in the parish when the faithful found out that he was a Jew. Gregor continued his studies and completed them.

Seminarians in Lublin

On April 20, 1958, Gregor was ordained to the priesthood. The nuns from the orphanage hosted the celebration because he was alone in the world.

Gregor’s ordination card

Gregor began to work as a priest in different towns and villages in the diocese of Lublin. In 1966, on the thousandth anniversary of Christianity in Poland, Gregor published and article that told his story in a Catholic newspaper in Cracow that had national distribution. The article made its way too Israel where relatives living in Bat Yam read the story. They contacted Gregor’s brother Hayim who was living in Haifa and that very day he came to Bat Yam. On reading the story, he said: “This is my brother!”

In those years, Gregor was also in contact with Father Daniel Rufeisen, who had arrived in Israel at the end of the fifties, he too a Polish Jew who had became a Catholic priest within the Carmelite order. Gregor began to think about aliyah (immigration to Israel) but before he left Poland he wanted to arrange the place where his mother and sisters had been buried. There he established a monument, a short distance from the cemetery in Izbica, where they had been executed. He also put in order the mass graves in which the bodies of the murdered had been thrown.

The inscription on the memorial (in Polish and Hebrew) says:

For I know that my redeemer lives
And that at the last he will stand upon the earth
(Job 19:25)

To the eternal memory of our dear parents
Mendel son of Zeev and Miriam daughter of Isaac Griner of blessed memory
And our sisters Shindel and Sarah of blessed memory
And also of all the Jews murdered and buried in this cemetery
In the month of Kislev 5703
By the Nazi murderers and profaners of God’s commandments

With gratitude to God for being saved
We establish this monument
Father Gregor Pawlowski
Jacob Zvi Griner – Poland
Hayim Griner – Israel

The monument in Izbica

Next to the mass graves, Gregor also established a burial plot for himself and on the head stone he had inscribed in Hebrew and in Polish:

Father Gregor Pawlowski
Jacob Zvi Griner
Son of Mendel and Miriam of blessed memory

I abandoned my family
In order to save my life at the time of the Shoah

They came to take us for extermination

My life I saved and have consecrated it
To the service of God and humanity

I have returned to them this place
Where they were murdered for the sanctification of God’s name
May their souls be set in eternal life

Gregor arrives in Israel

Gregor decided to immigrate to Israel in 1970. He was received at the airport by Father Daniel Rufeisen, priest in Haifa, and Father Alfred Delmée, priest in Jaffa, and by his family including his brother Hayim. He spent some time with his family and then accepted the invitation of Father Delmée to comer and live in Jaffa and serve the Polsish speaking community there. The priest of the community was elderly and sick. In that time Gregor learnt Hebrew at an ulpan (language school) in Bat Yam.

Father Gregor in Israel

Since then and for the past 38 years, Gregor has been serving both the Polish and Hebrew speaking communities. For 38 years he has lived in Jaffa and has traveled the length and breadth of the country educating children, encouraging believers and visiting the sick. Gregor has shown us a model of what a faithful priest should be, serving God and humanity.

When Gregor was asked why he wanted to come to Israel, he replied:

“My place is here, among the Jewish people. I sensed a call to come and serve Christians living in my country.”

When asked why it was important to tell his story, Gregor replied:

“I did not want to live a lie. I did not want to deny my roots, my mother, my father, my people. I want to be truthful. Thus, I have a homeland and that is Poland and I belong to the Polish people. However, I have a nation that is first – the Jewish people. I was circumcised on the eighth day and I belong. I belong both to Poland and to Israel. I cannot speak against Poles because they saved me and I cannot speak against Jews because I am one of them.”

Father Gregor at the ordination of Bishop Jean Baptiste, 2003

With thanks to Fr. David M. Neuhaus SJ in Jerusalem for this material

Father David Neuhaus, S.J. writes: However it is his funeral (a mass and prayer in Jaffa and then his burial in Poland) that is no less remarkable. I send here an article in Hebrew but which contains images from this extraordinary event that brought together Catholics and Jews… We have published the book Gregor wrote, Know the Messiah, written as a teaching tool for the religious education classes Gregor has given to tens of children over the years.


The Jerusalem Post also published the story:https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/the-jew-who-became-a-priest-and-will-be-buried-as-a-jew-683649

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17 October 2021 Passing of Ron Lewis, Executive Secretary of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance #otdimjh

Ronald Hugh Lewis was born in London on 13 June 1930 and died on 17th October, 2021 at the age of 91. He was brought up in the Swansea Hebrew Congregation (Orthodox) where he had his barmitzvah, and studied Semitic Languages and Philosophy at Cardiff University with the intention of becoming a rabbi. He joined the Liberal Synagogue in London, taking services and speaking in synagogues, but became a disciple of Jesus and did further training at Westminster College, Cambridge to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church (now United Reform Church), serving in Jarrow, Harlow and Redcar. In his retirement he served in several other churches.

He joined the Hebrew Christian Alliance of Great Britain (now BMJA) in 1958, and the Finance and General Purposes Committee of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance (now International Messianic Jewish Alliance) in 1963. He served as International Secretary of the International from 1979 to 2000, and was a member of the Theological Commission, editing the Alliance magazine, and on several other committees. He visited Hebrew Christian Alliances and their members throughout the world.


Ronald Hugh Lewis was born on 13June 1930 into what he described as a “fairly tolerant middle-of-the-road orthodox Jewish family” in the East End of London, but was brought up in Wales, so always felt himself to be more Welsh than English. His paternal father came from Russia.

Hebrew prize from Swansea Synagogue

Ron attended Swansea Hebrew Congregation, the local synagogue, with his family, with religion school classes and Jewish youth group most weekday nights.  Len Goss, later organising Secretary of the Council of Christians and Jews, was his youth group leader. His barmitzvah was quite a day – his voice was breaking and he had to drink a raw egg in a glass of wine for his throat. His teacher helped him to pitch the notes when he sung the parshah (the portion of the Pentateuch). His fellow students were in hysterics, but it all went well. After his barmitzvah he would lead some of the synagogue services and sing the haftarah (the portion of the prophets).

After the War the family moved to London and he joined the Liberal Synagogue and along with his parents. He got became secretary of the youth group, and decided to become a rabbi. He studied Semitic languages and philosophy at Cardiff University alongside his friend Norman Solomon (later to become a well-known Rabbi) and continued to take services and preach in synagogue.

At university he started to drift in his faith, and questioned religion in general. He drank, played poker and went hungry. He became the “black sheep” at home and “my father disowned me and said kaddish”, although Ron did not think he fully meant it.

After his university degree he did two years of national service with the Royal Artillery. But instead of being sent to Korea he was posted to Carlisle, where he dealt with the boredom by attending Christian meetings and a local drama group. After national service he came to London where he worked in a bank and went to Speakers Corner in Hyde Park on Sundays to hear Donald Soper, the Methodist minister, pacificist and debater. Soper offered Ron a practical faith that had to do with everyday life, and without any dramatic conversion and with much agonising and thinking things through, he came to see Jesus in a new light. He joined the Presbyterian church because he appreciated its sense of order and its emphasis on the Old Testament. He was challenged to offer himself for ordained ministry, and was accepted – despite one official asking him whether he looked very Jewish!

He did his theological training at Westminster College, Cambridge, and married Doreen, whom he had met in London. They had two children, Mac, who lives in Cambridge, and Kirsty, now living in Australia.

One evening he was preaching and a man asked him afterward “you’re Jewish, aren’t you?” It was Heinz Leuner, IHCA Secretary for Europe. He connected Ron with Canon Peter Schneider, who helped him finance his studies at Cambridge. Ron joined the Alliance in 1958, finding it a place where he could “share his oddness” as both Jewish and Christian. When he moved from Jarrow to Harlow he was able to attend the meetings of the IHCA Finance and General Purposes Committee which he joined in 1963. In 1964 he gave the Bible Reading at the annual Garden Party of the British Alliance, and joined the British Alliance Committee, despite having initially declined the invitation because of his many other commitments.  He would go on to become the International Secretary, working closely with  Harcourt Samuel, Irene Hyde and many others, to co-ordinate the work of the national Alliances, representing the Alliance and Jewish disciples of Jesus at national and international meetings, in church and theological forums, Jewish Christian relations and Dialogue group, and being a bridge between the younger, emerging Messianic Jewish movement and the older style Hebrew Christians who were in the mainstream churches.  He also contribute greatly, by his own presence, wisdom, sense of humour and occasional strong and forceful interventions!

It was my joy to spend time regularly with Ron on trains, `planes and automobiles as we would find ourselves travelling together in the UK and abroad. I would see Ron in action in a variety of contexts, always his own man, yet able to relate to young and old, Jewish and Gentile, and all shades of Jewish Christian. His passions for Scottish Country Dancing, Jazz and a good Jewish joke would stand him in good stead. His training in both Synagogue and Church meant he knew well how to organise and lead a meeting, preach relevantly and helpfully, respond to the most difficult questions with a smile and self-effacing humour. I found most helpful his personal recollections and anecdotes of the older generation of Hebrew Christians, as he was truly a link with the past.

Ron, we will miss you greatly. You have given us in the Alliance so much, of your time, your talents and your temperament. We rejoice that you are with your Messiah now, and we pray for your family to be consoled in their grief and give thanks for all you have been and done. May you enjoy now your well-deserved reward – “An Israelite indeed, who found Jesus to be his Rabbi and in whom there was no guile.”

Richard Harvey’s tribute at Ron’s funeral, 29 October 2021 – 36 minutes in – Online at https://www.dropbox.com/s/i5vsu8wu46bl0d0/Thanksgiving%20Service%20for%20Rev%20Ron%20Lewis.mp4?dl=0  (36 minutes in) and https://www.facebook.com/trinityurcmethodist/videos/461731418592842

Online at https://www.dropbox.com/s/i5vsu8wu46bl0d0/Thanksgiving%20Service%20for%20Rev%20Ron%20Lewis.mp4?dl=0  (36 minutes in) and https://www.facebook.com/trinityurcmethodist/videos/461731418592842

Richard Harvey’s tribute at Ron’s funeral, 29 October 2021

I am here today representing the International Messianic Jewish Alliance – many hundreds, if not thousands of Jewish disciples of Jesus who benefited from Ron’s life, service and friendship. We give thanks to God for him and extend our condolences to Doreen, Kirsty, Mac and all the family.

I first met Ron in 1979, more than 40 years ago, and had the opportunity of serving with him in what was then called the International Hebrew Christian Alliance,  and is now known as the International Messianic Jewish Alliance, a significant change of name over which Ron himself presided. Over the years often at the different committee meetings, conferences and other events, we would travel and spend time together. I was fortunate to record some interviews with him in earlier this year. He was a mentor, friend and inspiration to me and many others.

Ron was a bridge. He bridged the gap between the older generation, brought up with a strong Orthodox Jewish upbringing, spoke Yiddish at home and English with a foreign accent, many of whom were holocaust survivors and refugees, and the younger generation, people like myself, baby-boomers, secular, thought we knew it all, but only discovered our Jewishness when we became disciples of Jesus, or Yeshua, as we preferred to call him.  As well as the age differences, there were theological differences, as they called themselves Hebrew Christians and we called ourselves Messianic Jews. They thought we were going back under the law, and we wanted everyone to leave their churches and join our Messianic synagogues. Ron patiently and (generally!) calmly bridged the gap with his authentic and rich understanding of Judaism, Christianity and the challenges we all faced in constructing our identities. He brought us together and tried to help us listen to each other and understand each other.

Then there was the wider gap between Jews and Christians. Ron had an Orthodox Jewish upbringing,  Reform Jewish rabbinical training, Christian theological training and his own ministerial experience, so he was ideally placed to be bridge of understanding in the midst of different groups. He might have never have felt fully at home in them but he always had something valuable to contribute to the discussion and add something important to the outcomes.

Ron was a friend to Alliance members in Israel, Europe, the Americas and worldwide, visiting us, writing to us and helping us in practical ways. For many years he edited the Alliance magazine, a vital way for us all to keep in touch. He brought his sharp perception, intuitive feel and – at times – his reluctance to “suffer fools gladly”, to many situations where problems arose. Where you have two Jews you have three opinions, and with Jewish disciples of Jesus this could easily become 24 opinions. As International Secretary, with the help of Harcourt Samuel, Irene Hide, and many others, he did much to achieve the Alliance’s goal of “uniting Jewish believers in Jesus in the bond of sympathy and prayer.”

Those he worked closely with were especially grateful to him. Gershon Nerel, the Alliance Secretary in Israel, said

“I remain thankful to Ron for his wise advice, his simple – not simplistic! – yet profound leadership and his willingness to equally cooperate with a person younger than him.”

David Sedaca, Secretary for the Americas, who shared Ron’s love of football and jazz, said “I want to express my gratitude to my former colleague and mentor, whose input and advice influenced my work and had a part in moulding me to be a leader of the messianic movement and a better servant of God.”

The President of the Dutch Hebrew Christian Alliance, Joop Akker,  quoted back some of Ron’s own words from an article he wrote in the Alliance magazine. “Praise be to God whose lovingkindness and grace, the Hebrew word chesed, is part of a covenant relationship which goes beyond all human expectation.”

Ultimately, like his Lord and Messiah, Jesus, Ron helped to bridge the gap between our ways and the ways of God, a bridge that all of us, Jews, Christians and all, seek to find. In Jewish tradition that gap is bridged at the saddest of times by saying the Kaddish prayer, giving thanks and praise to God, even in the midst of our bereavement and grief.

Ron gave specific instructions about the version he wished to be used, which is from the Reform Synagogue Jewish Prayer Book. It adds the important addition at the end of the prayer where it says “v’al kol benei Adam’ – praying for God’s shalom, his peace, not just for Israel, but for alI humanity. I will say it first in Aramaic, the language Jesus would have used, and then in English. There are four places where we say together: Amen. Please would you stand.

Text of Kaddish with Ron’s instructions:

Ron Lewis Biography article in the Alliance Magazine

Tributes from Shirley Northcott, Gershon Nerel and David Sedaca

Shirley NorthcottFriend

I’ve known Ron on and off for very many years. We met two years running at the IHCA Holiday Home in Ramsgate, in either the late sixties or early seventies, where they and we were entitled to cut-price stays due to being in Christian ministry. One year, his Mum came too, probably his Dad had died prior to that. She was not a believer, but obviously any earlier rift had been healed. I have a little Polaroid photo of her – Ron looked very like her! He (and Doreen) was an avid Scottish dancer, and they travelled all over Lancashire, and also into nearer areas of Yorkshire, in order to attend dances. His friend John Haddow, a prolific dance devisor, wrote at least two dances in his honour. The one I remember best is called ‘Dancing round the Duchy’. He always wore a kilt for those occasions, and I pulled his leg and suggested he should have a blue and white tartan made to order, but he told me he proudly wore the tartan of Doreen’s clan. (Doreen, though a New Zealander born, had Scottish parents or grandparents, I forget now which).

Joop Akker – President, Dutch Hebrew Christian Alliance

The Dutch Alliance of Messianic Jews, Hadderech, has learned with sadness of the passing of our friend Ron Lewis.

But it is a consolation to know that Ron has entered into the glory of our risen Messiah, whom Ron served during his earthly life.

For many years we met at meetings of the – then – International Hebrew Christian Alliance.

In our archives we cherish the volumes of The Hebrew Christian, of which Ron was editor-in-chief for many years.

We would like to comfort the family and friends, left behind, with a quote from Ron’s editorial in the Spring 1983-issue.

Speaking of the mistakes that every human being makes, Ron ends with these words:

“Praise be to God whose lovingkindness or grace, Hebrew chesed, is part of a covenant relationship which goes beyond all human expectation.”

RON LEWIS – In Memoriam – Gershon Nerel, Secretary for Israel

I had the privilege of closely working with Ron Lewis for about eight years (1993-2001). He acted as the Executive Secretary of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance (IMJA) while I was the Israel Secretary in Jerusalem, replacing the late Menachem Benhayim who went on retirement. 

During those eight years Ron and I also worked closely with Mrs. Irene Hide, the secretary for Abraham’s Vineyard Limited. The three of us cooperated together as a receptive and friendly ‘troika.’ Ron and Irene were kindly willing to explain to me the background of various resolutions made in the past. From their long experience I was able to learn how to deal with many delicate organizational matters.

Formally Ron was my ‘boss’ but he always gave me the genuine feeling that we are colleagues, partners and allies. I have greatly appreciated his open mindedness, his tolerance and integrity.

In particular I cannot forget Ron’s sympathizing and continuous support when I was a doctoral student at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, researching modern Messianic Jewish self-identity in Eretz-Israel. His ongoing encouragement and assistance were a great help to me.

Ron and I also served together on the International Board of Ebenezer Home, the only residence for Messianic Jewish and Arab Christian elderly people in Haifa, Israel. Ron tirelessly engaged himself in raising funds for this retirement home, and when visiting there he always reassured the staff and the younger local believers. 

Ron was indeed a person I could trust and with whom I could, whenever needed, freely share some dissenting thoughts and dilemmas. I valued his straightforward approach regarding difficult issues. He always behaved humbly with a welcoming smile, never manifesting any patronizing attitude. For example, I remember how he had gently introduced me to the late Fr. Elias Friedman, a Hebrew Catholic author and poet at the Carmelite monastery in Haifa.

I remain thankful to Ron for his wise advice, his simple – not simplistic! – yet profound leadership and his willingness to equally cooperate with a person younger than him.

In spite of the geographical and linguistic distances between the UK and Israel, and the differences of habits, mentality and manners, for me Ron was at any time like a good older brother.

Ron’s main legacy for the Messianic Jewish movement, in my view, is his editorial contribution to The Hebrew Christian – later The Messianic Jew – the quarterly magazine of the IHCA/IMJA, uninterruptedly published since 1928. As the editor of this periodical for many years Ron had faithfully managed to timely publish the magazine. In it he included valuable articles and other information that any historian of the Messianic movement will treasure.

My affection and empathy are with Doreen who together with Ron had graciously hosted me in their home. ** Gershon Nerel, Yad Hashmona, Israel (www.iseeisrael.com) ** Oct. 21, 2021

Rev. David Sedaca, International Secretary

Ron Lewis played a significant role in my life. He was instrumental in opening the door for me to serve in different capacities in the Hebrew Christian Alliance.

I was born into a Hebrew Christian home. My father, the late victor Sedaca was involved in the Hebrew Christian movement since the moment he came to faith as a young Jewish man in 1938. He served as a missionary to the Jewish people and officer of the Hebrew hero Christian Alliance From the moment he accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior. I grew up attending the monthly meetings of the Hebrew Christian Alliance in the United States, Argentina, and Uruguay. The Hebrew Christian Alliance was part of our lives since my father served as vice president of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance for several decades

In 1979 my father passed away suddenly a few days after returning from an executive committee meeting of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance in Switzerland. At that time, I was the Canadian director of Chosen People Ministries. Because my father was the directory in Argentina of the same organization, I was asked to go to Argentina to reorganize the mission after the unexpected death of my father. On my return to Argentina, I took it upon myself to continue promoting the work of the Hebrew Christian Alliance as my father was doing.

Soon before, Ron Lewis was appointed executive secretary of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance. He saw fit to visit all the national Alliances affiliated with the International Hebrew Christian Alliance. The following year, 1979, on his visit to Argentina, he asked to meet me. We spent a whole afternoon discussing the Hebrew Christian Alliance’s work; however, we also found that we had two additional things in common: football and jazz.

From that moment onwards, at Ron’s request, I became more involved in the work of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance, somehow doing the same work that my father had done for the International Alliance all his life. I began writing articles for the Hebrew Christian magazine and visiting other countries in Latin America on behalf of the International Alliance. At a general conference in Denmark, I was a Co-opted member of the executive committee. My involvement in the International Hebrew Christian Alliance continued to grow. At a subsequent meeting, Ron Lewis mentioned that Dr. David Bronstein, the secretary for North America of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance, would retire in approximately five years and asked me if I would consider being appointed to that post. His request was based on the fact that I was born in Uruguay but lived in Argentina, Europe, and educated in the United States, thus being fit for the post of Secretary for North and South America.

In 1986 Dr. Bronstein died suddenly; therefore, Ron Lewis asked me if I was willing to take the post that was now vacant. At that time, I lived in Argentina, but the appointment required that I move again to the United States. I became the Executive Secretary for North and South America. Since my appointment came suddenly, I traveled frequently to the United Kingdom, where Ron mentored me for the role I had the following years. I always stayed in his home, and our meetings always included going to a jazz concert. Since he was also pastor on his congregation and I was a full-time working for the International Alliance, Ron often asked me to take engagements when his commitment to his church prevented him from traveling as much as he wanted. Likewise, when he traveled to the United States, he always stayed at our home. The relationship between Ron, his wife Doreen, and my wife Julia grew stronger over the years.

During our tenures, the International Hebrew Christian Alliance encountered some serious challenges due to changing different ways of expressing our faith as Jewish believers. The younger generation changed the names of their national Alliance from Hebrew Christian to Messianic Jewish. In contrast, some of the older affiliated Alliances wanted to maintain the traditional name and philosophy. We dealt with the two ways of expressing our Jewishness during the nineties and had serious debates that Ron and I had to maneuver. It was during our year of working together that we changed the name from International Hebrew Christian to International Messianic Jewish Alliance.

As Ron Lewis was approaching the time for his retirement, I was also asked to take his post when he retired. When this occurred, I was appointed to succeed him as Secretary-General of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance. I held this post until 2004. During the many decades of working together, we learned to cherish each other and rely on each other’s advice. From the time I left my position as Secretary-General and returned to my former ministry as Vice-president of Chosen People Ministries, we didn’t have many opportunities to meet again. We continued exchanging jazz music, but our paths led us in a different direction.

Now that he received his Crown of Glory, I want to express my gratitude to my former colleague and mentor, whose input and advice influenced my work and had a part in moulding me to be a leader of the messianic movement and a better God’s servant.

Posted in otdimjh | 1 Comment

20 September 1937 Birth of David Beijersbergen, Dutch Holocaust Survivor

See you in Jerusalem!                                                                        Diny Beijersbergen-Groot

David and his twin sister Elisabeth were born in The Hague on September 20, 1937. His father Jacob Beijersbergen was a greengrocer and his mother Roosje van Gelder a bookbinder. Later two more daughters were born: Margaretha (1939) and Anna (1941).

The Beijersbergens were among the last in The Hague’s Jewish neighborhood to be arrested. David’s father was sent to Camp Amersfoort, a hiding place for his sisters was found and David and his mother ended up in Camp Vught. His mother was then transported to Auschwitz, and from there put to work in the Philips factory, which allowed her to survive.

Camp Vught and Noordwijk

All alone David is left behind. A little boy, about six years old, with black glasses; with one – blind eye he sees with a squint. During the day he roams the camp, looking for food, for someone to smile at him or say something nice to him. In the absence of a bed of his own, he sleeps at night at the foot of whoever tolerates him.

The whole family survives the war miraculously, but all are severely traumatized. All other members of the (Meppeler) Van Gelder family appear to have been murdered.

David is placed in an institution by the Dutch authorities. There he is labelled “severely retarded”. Around 1948 he is admitted to the Van den Bergh Foundation in Noordwijk. There he excels at school, and he learns whatever there is to learn. A schoolteacher and a head nurse at the institution recognize that he does not belong in the asylum, but the management refuses to admit that David has been wrongly categorised.


When David is 19 years old he leaves the institution. He ends up in a boys’ home in Rotterdam and has to go to work. A job at a grocers gives him a place in “normal” life for the first time. Then he works for a bicycle repairer. When he has reached adulthood, the staff of the home finds a host family for him in Gouda. There he gets a job in a pottery factory.

Through an employee of a postal service, he comes into contact with a Christian family in Gouda. If Christians are like that family, he wants to be part of it. In this way he gets to know his Messiah and a great desire arises to also tell others about his discovery. He registers for training for youth worker in the evangelism, Baarn. Unfortunately he is rejected. However, there is an exchange of letters with fellow applicant Diny Groot from Andijk, which results in a courtship.

David and Diny marry in 1963. Three sons are born. Studying is difficult, a family, earning a living, with no proper supervision. But David testifies enthusiastically of his Messiah and studies everything that comes before him. Via detours, or perhaps better “the Lord’s ways”, he takes a pastor’s exam for to become a pastor on article 6 (“singular gifts”) of the Reformed Church Order. It’s a hard meeting with all those psychologists, theologians, and so forth.  “But if God wants it, it will work,” he says. He had undergone heart surgery six months earlier, so it is doubly difficult.

Reverend David Beijersbergen

On his fiftieth birthday September 20, 1987, he is confirmed as a minister in the municipality of Doornspijk. It’s one of the best days of his life. His intention is to build a bridge between Jews and Christians, the Old and New Testaments. He wants to show the roots of faith and the beauty of it, as they have become visible in the New Testament. Unfortunately, not everyone always understands this. “I am too Jewish for the Christians and too Christian for the Jews”, is sometimes his complaint.

He preaches with passion and likes to sing also. The organist and David are often enthusiastic about the service. “We’re going to have a party together.” He sometimes grumbles about those Reformed people who have so much trouble with enthusiastic worship. He is and will remain Jewish, but he knows the Messiah! He likes to teach catechesis, sings in a choir, plays the organ and studies whatever he comes across. He likes to do home visits and visit the sick, but not general meetings.

After twelve years at Doornspijk, he moves to the municipality of Erica, where he enjoys working the three years until his retirement. The couple then moves to Elburg where he hopes to be able to enjoy his retirement, but unfortunately he falls ill after a few years with colon cancer, for which he is operated on. Just when he thinks he can move on, the liver appears to be affected. He continues to lead services during his illness. He is still in the pulpit until six weeks before his death. He died on June 8, 2007 in Elburg.

Next to his bed is a scribble: “I wonder what my Lord looks like, but I love life.”

His  tombstone reads: “The Eternal was his friend, the Messiah his power, serving Them by the Spirit, awaiting the New Jerusalem.”

On the Star of David lying on it: “See you in Jerusalem.”

Tot ziens in Jeruzalem!                                                                      Diny Beijersbergen-Groot

David en zijn tweelingzus Elisabeth werden op 20 september 1937 in Den Haag geboren. Zijn vader Jacob Beijersbergen was groenteman en zijn moeder Roosje van Gelder boekbindster. Later werden nog twee dochters geboren: Margaretha (1939) en Anna (1941).

De Beijersbergens behoorden tot de laatsten in de Haagse Jodenbuurt die werden opgepakt. Davids vader werd naar Kamp Amersfoort gestuurd, voor zijn zusjes werd een onderduikadres gevonden en David en zijn moeder kwamen terecht in Kamp Vught. Moeder werd al snel op transport naar Auschwitz gezet, en vandaaruit tewerkgesteld in de Philips-fabriek, haar redding.

Kamp Vught en Noordwijk

Moederziel alleen blijft David achter. Een klein jongetje van ongeveer zes jaar oud, met een zwart brilletje; met één – blind – oog kijkt hij scheef naar boven. Overdag zwerft hij door het kamp, op zoek naar eten, naar iemand die naar hem lacht of iets liefs tegen hem zegt. Bij gebrek aan een eigen bed slaapt hij `s nachts aan het voeteneind van wie hem ook maar gedoogt.

Als een wonder overleeft het hele gezin de oorlog, allen zwaar getraumatiseerd. Alle overige leden van de (Meppeler) familie Van Gelder blijken vermoord.
David wordt door de Nederlandse instanties in een inrichting geplaatst. Daar krijgt hij het stempel ‘diep debiel’. Rond 1948 wordt hij opgenomen in de Van den Bergh-Stichting te Noordwijk. Op de BLO-school blinkt hij natuurlijk uit, en wat er te leren valt, leert hij. Een onderwijzer en een hoofdverpleegster van de inrichting zien wel in dat hij niet in de inrichting thuishoort, maar de directie weigert te erkennen dat David verkeerd beoordeeld is.

Op eigen benen

Als David 19 jaar is mag hij de inrichting verlaten . Hij komt terecht in een jongenstehuis in Rotterdam en moet gaan werken. Een baantje bij een kruidenier bezorgt hem voor het eerst een plaats in het ‘normale’ leven. Daarna mag hij aan de slag bij een fietsenmaker. Wanneer hij de volwassen leeftijd bereikt heeft, vindt de staf van het tehuis een kostgezin voor hem in Gouda. Daar krijgt hij werk in een pottenbakkerij, of, deftiger gezegd, een plateelfabriek.

Via een medewerkster van een postagentschap komt hij in aanraking met een christelijk gezin in Gouda. Als christenen zijn zoals dat gezin, wil hij dáár bij horen. Zo leert hij zijn Messias kennen en ontstaat een groot verlangen om ook anderen van deze ontdekking te vertellen. Hij meldt zich aan voor de opleiding voor jeugdwerker in het evangelisatiewerk, net gestart in Baarn. Helaas wordt hij afgewezen. Wél ontstaat er een briefwisseling met mede-sollicitant Diny Groot uit Andijk, waar een verkering uit voortkomt. In 1963 trouwen ze. Er worden drie zoons geboren.

Studeren is moeilijk, een gezin, de kost verdienen bij de bank, geen goede begeleiding. Maar David getuigt enthousiast van zijn Messias en bestudeert alles wat hem onder ogen komt. Via omwegen, of misschien beter ’s Heren wegen, mag hij examen doen voor predikant op artikel 6 (‘singuliere gaven’) van de gereformeerde kerkorde. Het is een moeilijk bijeenkomen met al die psychologen, theologen, enzovoort. “Vele ogen”, volgens David, die hem moeten beoordelen. “Maar als God het wil, lukt het”, zegt hij. Hij heeft een half jaar daarvoor nog een hartoperatie ondergaan, dus is het dubbel zwaar.

Dominee David Beijersbergen
Op zijn vijftigste verjaardag 20 september 1987 wordt hij in de gemeente Doornspijk bevestigd als predikant. Eén van de mooiste dagen van zijn leven. Het is zijn intentie om een brug te slaan tussen Joden en Christenen, het Oude en het Nieuwe Testament. Hij wil de wortels van het geloof laten zien, en de schoonheid daarvan, zoals die in het Nieuwe Testament zichtbaar zijn geworden. Helaas begrijpt niet iedereen dit altijd. “Bij de christenen ben ik te Joods en voor de Joden te christelijk”, is soms zijn klacht.
Hij preekt met passie en zingt graag daarbij. De organist en David zijn vaak enthousiast met de dienst bezig. “We gaan er samen een feestje van maken.” Hij moppert wel eens over die gereformeerden die zo moeilijk uit hun dak gaan.
Hij is en blijft Joods, maar hij kent de Messias! Hij geeft graag catechese, zingt in een koor, speelt orgel en bestudeert wat hij maar tegenkomt. Hij houdt van huis- en ziekenbezoek, maar niet van vergaderen.
Na twaalf jaar Doornspijk komt de gemeente Erica op zijn pad, waar hij de drie jaar tot zijn emeritaat met plezier werkt. Het echtpaar verhuist hierna naar Elburg waar hij van zijn emeritaat hoopt te kunnen genieten, maar helaas wordt hij na enkele jaren ziek. Eerst darmkanker, waaraan hij wordt geopereerd. Net als hij denkt weer verder te kunnen blijkt de lever aangetast. Ook tijdens zijn ziekte blijft hij diensten leiden. Tot zes weken voor zijn overlijden staat hij nog op de kansel. Hij sterft op 8 juni 2007 te Elburg.

Naast zijn bed ligt een krabbel: ‘Ik ben benieuwd hoe mijn Heer er uit ziet, maar ik hou van het leven.’

Op zijn grafsteen staat: ‘De Eeuwige was zijn vriend, de Messias zijn kracht, door de Geest hen gediend, het Nieuw Jeruzalem verwacht.’

Op de Davidsster die erop ligt: ‘Tot ziens in Jeruzalem’.

Bronnen: Historisch Tijdschrift GKN, juni 2011; Diny Beijersbergen (2003), Gevangene na bevrijding, Merweboek.

Tot ziens in Jeruzalem!                                                                      Diny Beijersbergen-Groot

David en zijn tweelingzus Elisabeth werden op 20 september 1937 in Den Haag geboren. Zijn vader Jacob Beijersbergen was groenteman en zijn moeder Roosje van Gelder boekbindster. Later werden nog twee dochters geboren: Margaretha (1939) en Anna (1941).

De Beijersbergens behoorden tot de laatsten in de Haagse Jodenbuurt die werden opgepakt. Davids vader werd naar Kamp Amersfoort gestuurd, voor zijn zusjes werd een onderduikadres gevonden en David en zijn moeder kwamen terecht in Kamp Vught. Moeder werd al snel op transport naar Auschwitz gezet, en vandaaruit tewerkgesteld in de Philips-fabriek, haar redding.

Kamp Vught en Noordwijk

Moederziel alleen blijft David achter. Een klein jongetje van ongeveer zes jaar oud, met een zwart brilletje; met één – blind – oog kijkt hij scheef naar boven. Overdag zwerft hij door het kamp, op zoek naar eten, naar iemand die naar hem lacht of iets liefs tegen hem zegt. Bij gebrek aan een eigen bed slaapt hij `s nachts aan het voeteneind van wie hem ook maar gedoogt.

Als een wonder overleeft het hele gezin de oorlog, allen zwaar getraumatiseerd. Alle overige leden van de (Meppeler) familie Van Gelder blijken vermoord.
David wordt door de Nederlandse instanties in een inrichting geplaatst. Daar krijgt hij het stempel ‘diep debiel’. Rond 1948 wordt hij opgenomen in de Van den Bergh-Stichting te Noordwijk. Op de BLO-school blinkt hij natuurlijk uit, en wat er te leren valt, leert hij. Een onderwijzer en een hoofdverpleegster van de inrichting zien wel in dat hij niet in de inrichting thuishoort, maar de directie weigert te erkennen dat David verkeerd beoordeeld is.

Op eigen benen

Als David 19 jaar is mag hij de inrichting verlaten . Hij komt terecht in een jongenstehuis in Rotterdam en moet gaan werken. Een baantje bij een kruidenier bezorgt hem voor het eerst een plaats in het ‘normale’ leven. Daarna mag hij aan de slag bij een fietsenmaker. Wanneer hij de volwassen leeftijd bereikt heeft, vindt de staf van het tehuis een kostgezin voor hem in Gouda. Daar krijgt hij werk in een pottenbakkerij, of, deftiger gezegd, een plateelfabriek.

Via een medewerkster van een postagentschap komt hij in aanraking met een christelijk gezin in Gouda. Als christenen zijn zoals dat gezin, wil hij dáár bij horen. Zo leert hij zijn Messias kennen en ontstaat een groot verlangen om ook anderen van deze ontdekking te vertellen. Hij meldt zich aan voor de opleiding voor jeugdwerker in het evangelisatiewerk, net gestart in Baarn. Helaas wordt hij afgewezen. Wél ontstaat er een briefwisseling met mede-sollicitant Diny Groot uit Andijk, waar een verkering uit voortkomt. In 1963 trouwen ze. Er worden drie zoons geboren.

Studeren is moeilijk, een gezin, de kost verdienen bij de bank, geen goede begeleiding. Maar David getuigt enthousiast van zijn Messias en bestudeert alles wat hem onder ogen komt. Via omwegen, of misschien beter ’s Heren wegen, mag hij examen doen voor predikant op artikel 6 (‘singuliere gaven’) van de gereformeerde kerkorde. Het is een moeilijk bijeenkomen met al die psychologen, theologen, enzovoort. “Vele ogen”, volgens David, die hem moeten beoordelen. “Maar als God het wil, lukt het”, zegt hij. Hij heeft een half jaar daarvoor nog een hartoperatie ondergaan, dus is het dubbel zwaar.

Dominee David Beijersbergen
Op zijn vijftigste verjaardag 20 september 1987 wordt hij in de gemeente Doornspijk bevestigd als predikant. Eén van de mooiste dagen van zijn leven. Het is zijn intentie om een brug te slaan tussen Joden en Christenen, het Oude en het Nieuwe Testament. Hij wil de wortels van het geloof laten zien, en de schoonheid daarvan, zoals die in het Nieuwe Testament zichtbaar zijn geworden. Helaas begrijpt niet iedereen dit altijd. “Bij de christenen ben ik te Joods en voor de Joden te christelijk”, is soms zijn klacht.
Hij preekt met passie en zingt graag daarbij. De organist en David zijn vaak enthousiast met de dienst bezig. “We gaan er samen een feestje van maken.” Hij moppert wel eens over die gereformeerden die zo moeilijk uit hun dak gaan.
Hij is en blijft Joods, maar hij kent de Messias! Hij geeft graag catechese, zingt in een koor, speelt orgel en bestudeert wat hij maar tegenkomt. Hij houdt van huis- en ziekenbezoek, maar niet van vergaderen.
Na twaalf jaar Doornspijk komt de gemeente Erica op zijn pad, waar hij de drie jaar tot zijn emeritaat met plezier werkt. Het echtpaar verhuist hierna naar Elburg waar hij van zijn emeritaat hoopt te kunnen genieten, maar helaas wordt hij na enkele jaren ziek. Eerst darmkanker, waaraan hij wordt geopereerd. Net als hij denkt weer verder te kunnen blijkt de lever aangetast. Ook tijdens zijn ziekte blijft hij diensten leiden. Tot zes weken voor zijn overlijden staat hij nog op de kansel. Hij sterft op 8 juni 2007 te Elburg.

Naast zijn bed ligt een krabbel: ‘Ik ben benieuwd hoe mijn Heer er uit ziet, maar ik hou van het leven.’

Op zijn grafsteen staat: ‘De Eeuwige was zijn vriend, de Messias zijn kracht, door de Geest hen gediend, het Nieuw Jeruzalem verwacht.’

Op de Davidsster die erop ligt: ‘Tot ziens in Jeruzalem’.

Bronnen: Historisch Tijdschrift GKN, juni 2011; Diny Beijersbergen (2003), Gevangene na bevrijding, Merweboek.

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15 August 1983 Passing of Jacob Jocz – Hebrew Christian Scholar, Theologian and Evangelist #otdimjh

Jacob Jocz (pronounced “Yotch” and rhyming with “Scotch”) was a third-generation Jewish disciple of Jesus, a refugee, evangelist, pastor and theologian. Whilst his father perished in the Holocaust, Jocz’s escape from Poland led to his work as a Anglican minister in London, mission leader and theology professor in Toronto, and as President of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance. His legacy lives on in his family, his writings, and in those who are indebted to him.

Kelvin Crombie’s recent book tells the story of Jocz’s family. Jacob’s mother, Hannah, had come to faith in her early teens following in the footsteps of her father, Yochanan Don, a milkman from the Shtetl of Zelse, near Vilna/Vilnius/Vilno, now in Lithuania.  Following Yochanan’s early death, her mother Sarah moved the family to Vilnius and supplemented her income by renting a room to a young yeshiva student, Bazyli Jocz. As he courted Hannah he had this conversation with her:

 “Hannah, I have a secret.”
“What is your secret?”
“My secret is that I am a Jew who believes that Yeshua haNotzri is the Moshiach of Israel” Hannah looked at him and said, “I too have a secret.”
“What is your secret?”
“My father also was a believer in the Messiah. Before he died, he told me never to forget about Yeshua.” (Crombie 2021:32)

Clockwise from left: Bazyli, Paul, John, Jakob, Anna

They married in on 11 November 1905, a week before Anna’s twenty-fifth birthday, and first child Jakob was born on 14 October 1906 followed by Jerzy (George) in 1909 and Pawel (Paul) in 1911. With the upheavals of the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the social and political uncertainty the family moved to Warsaw in 1921 and joined the staff of CMJ (the Anglican Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People), ministering to a growing Hebrew Christian community.  

Joan & Jakób in Warsaw 1938

Many were coming to faith in their Messiah.  Jocz wrote in one report:

“Before we started, the church was filled and a bigger crowd was sent home than the one which was inside … We had before us a crowd of good-looking and well-behaved young men and women, who did not come out of curiosity, but who really sought something which could fill their lives. Mr Wolfin addressed them in Yiddish, and I spoke in Polish on the text, “I am the way”. It was indeed a very inspiring meeting”. The Hebrew Christian Alliance in Warsaw of which Jocz was President was popular and well-attended, and helped many.

Jacob trained with the CMJ Mission in Warsaw, the Evangelisches Predigerseminar in Frankfurt and finally at St. Aiden’s College in Birkenhead, UK. He was ordained an Anglican Priest in 1935 and returned to Warsaw the same year to take up duties for CMJ.  He married Joan Gapp, a British volunteer with CMJ in 1936.

Jocz was providentially saved from the Nazi invasion of Poland, when he remained in England in the summer of 1939 to speak at a conference whose key speaker had been taken ill.  His wife was there to have her first baby, and together they were spared the horrors of the war.  But hundreds, if not thousands, of Jewish disciples of Jesus in the Warsaw ghetto were murdered, alongside their people.  After the war, Jacob learned that many of his family did not survive, although his mother and his brother Paul had.  His father had been betrayed to the Gestapo and shot.

Jacob stayed in the UK working with CMJ  and completed his PhD at the University of Edinburgh. His thesis would be published as The Jewish People and Jesus Christ, a detailed and comprehensive study of the history and theology of Judaism, Christianity and Jewish disciples of Jesus.

In 1947 Jacob was appointed Vicar of St John’s, Downshire Hill, in Hampstead, London, where “by chance” he met and discipled Eric Lipson, whose own Jewish background led the two to become great friends.

In 1955 Jocz became President of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance. The following year he took charge of the Toronto Nathanael Institute, a large Messianic centre in Toronto.  From 1960 he taught systematic theology at Wycliffe College, an Anglican theological seminary in Toronto until his retirement in 1976. He died in 1983, and his favourite hymn, “I feel the winds of God today”, with words by Jessie Adams and set to the traditional folk song, sung at his funeral, is below. Do listen to it as it captures some of the inner sensibility of this man of courage, faith and service.

Jocz’s writings are comprehensive and challenging. His style is both scholarly and rich in spiritual and theological insight. Coming into the Hebrew Christian Alliance in the 1930s he builds on the vision and passion of Leon Levison and others with critical reflection and theological depth. His theology is built on a key concept, what he called “The essential difference between the Church and the Synagogue”, the different perceptions of Jesus as the Incarnation of God. For Jocz this constitutes the “dividing line” between Judaism and Christianity and set him firmly in his own “Hebrew Christian” identity which saw itself as separate from a religious practice of Judaism. His scholarship, his theological influences (particularly that of Karl Barth), and the implications of his views for modern day Messianic Judaism and Post-Supersessionist theology, are as relevant today as they were in his lifetime, and continue to repay careful study.

“To wrestle with theologians of the past is to honour their memory as predecessors who cannot be ignored. Jakob Jocz stands as a giant of the Hebrew Christian movement which preceded Messianic Judaism. He is a link in a chain of scholars, a chain to which I seek to be attached. I am profoundly grateful for his life and work.” (Mark Kinzer)

Jocz’s favourite hymn, sung at his funeral



1 I feel the winds of God today; 
today my sail I lift,
though heavy oft with drenching spray
and torn with many a rift;
if hope but light the water’s crest, 
and Christ my bark will use,
I’ll seek the seas at his behest, 
and brave another cruise.

2 It is the wind of God that dries 
my vain regretful tears,
until with braver thoughts shall rise 
the purer, brighter years;
if cast on shores of selfish ease 
or pleasure I should be,
O let me feel your freshening breeze, 
and I’ll put back to sea.

3 If ever I forget your love 
and how that love was shown,
lift high the blood-red flag above; 
it bears your name alone.
Great pilot of my onward way, 
you will not let me drift;
I feel the winds of God today,
today my sail I lift.

Source: Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #625

Jacob Jocz – The Essential Difference between the Church and the Synagogue

Elizabeth Myers The Literary Legacy of Jacob Jocz

Joan Jocz Memoir – here

Arthur F. Glasser, ‘The Legacy of Jakob Jocz’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, April 1993, p. 66.

Daniel Nessim.   The History Of Jewish Believers In The Canadian Protestant Church, 1759-1995 . MA Thesis, NorthwestBaptistTheologicalCollege,1986.

Theresa Newell – Profile of Jacob Jocz

Jacob Jocz website

Jocz’s books available on Jocz website

  • A Theology of Election  1958 
  • Christians and Jews: Encounter and Mission  1966    
  • Is It Nothing To You?  1940, 1941     
  • Judaism and the State of Israel  1950       
  • Religion and the Gospel   1952     
  • Religion Without God   1964     
  • Syncretism or Faith   1967
  • The Connection Between the Old and the New Testament   1961      
  • The Covenant  1968       
  • The Jewish Christian Dialogue  1967 
  • The Jewish People and Jesus Christ  1949, 1954, 1974  
  • The Jewish People and Jesus Christ After Auschwitz   1981  
  • The Spiritual history of Israel  1961

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Jacob-Jocz-229813590507816

Ephraim Radner Yachad BeYeshua Webinar on Jocz – https://www.yachad-beyeshua.org/webinars/june2021

Ben Volman’s recollection of Jocz – https://mcusercontent.com/205825fb2f2dece42c2dd19d3/files/14064b78-c27a-786c-2422-81c52468acd7/Ben_Volman_on_Jakob_Jocz.pdf

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15 July 1930, Birth of Jacques Derrida and the Theological Genealogies of Modernity #otdimjh

For those who attended online the recent conference on Theological Genealogies of Modernity an important reminder today of the birth of Jacques Derrida on this day in Messianic Jewish history. I have come more and more to appreciate that his engagement in the philosophical project of the deconstruction of metanarratives such as those of Christianity and Judaism, is not to be avoided but rather welcomed as a tool for the construction Messianic Jewish theology
poster 13 may
Genealogies of modernity are broad narrative accounts of the rise and nature of our present cultural condition. Theology nearly always features, in some way or another, in narratives about the formation of modernity, even if its role is just being a discourse and set of practices that was gradually marginalized by the onset of a more secular age. This conference gathers together an international team of scholars to explore genealogies of modernity sympathetically and to evaluate them critically. The contributors will discuss a range of important figures and focused topics, and they will pay special attention to stories that are often, though perhaps unhelpfully, understood as decline narratives—accounts of modernity that do not associate it unambiguously with progress. So-called decline genealogies have significant influence within theology across several confessional traditions, but like any narrative with the massive scope of a genealogy of modernity, making a case for them is necessarily complex. How are “decline” narratives and other accounts constructed? If these stories seek to do something more than just to describe historical processes, how do subtly normative dimensions enter into them? How do genealogical narratives look from the perspective of constituencies that are often marginalized?

15 July 1930, Birth of Jacques Derrida, Jewish philosopher, critic and postmodern deconstructionist #otdimjh


“A Jew is one who asks: Who is a Jew?”

JACQUES DERRIDA (1930–2004) was a French philosopher and literary critic. Born on 15 July 1930 in El-Biar, Algeria, he was expelled from his lycée by Algerian administrators who were anxious to implement anti-Semitic quotas set by the Vichy government. In 1949 his family moved to France. Beginning in 1952 he was a student at the École Normale Superiéure in Paris where he studied under Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser. Later he studied at the Husserl Archive in Leuven, Belgium where he completed his aggregation. Later he became a lecturer there. [Dan Cohn-Sherbok: Fifty Key Jewish Thinkers, 52-54]

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During the Algerian War of Independence, Derrida taught children of soldiers. Following the war, he was associated with the Tel Quel group of literary and philosophical theorists. From 1960 to 1964 he taught philosophy at the Sorbonne, and from 1964 to 1984 at the École Normale Superiéure. He completed his These d’Etat in 1980; this was published in English as The Time of a Thesis: Punctuations. Until his death in 2004 he was director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. With François Châtelet and others, he served as co-founder of the International College of Philosophy. From 1986 he served as Professor of Philosophy, French and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Irvine. Derrida was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2001 received the Adorno-Preis from the University of Frankfurt.

He received honorary doctorates from Cambridge University, Columbia University, the New School for Social Research, University of Essex, University of Leuven and Williams College.

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Derrida’s earliest manuscript dealt with Edmund Husserl; it was submitted for a degree in 1954 and was later published as The Problem of Genesis in Husserl’s Phenomenology. In 1962 he published Edmund Husserl’s Origin of Geometry: An Introduction. Derrida’s first major contribution to the international academic community was his essay ‘Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences’ which was delivered to a conference at Johns Hopkins University in 1966. The conference dealt with structuralism, which was then widely discussed in France but was only becoming familiar to departments of French and comparative literature in the United States. Derrida’s lecture charted the accomplishments of structuralism, but also expressed reservations about its limitations.

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In 1970 the conference proceedings were published as The Structuralist Controversy. At the conference Derrida met Paul de Man and Jacques Lacan. In 1967 Derrida published three collections of work: Of Grammatology; Writing and Difference; and Speech and Phenomena. These contained studies of: philosophers such as Rousseau, Saussure, Husserl, Lévinas, Heidegger, Hegel, Foucault, Bataille and Descartes; anthropologists such as Levi-Strauss; psychoanalysts, including Freud; and writers such as Edmond Jabés and Antonin Artaud. In these early works Derrida set out the principles of deconstructionism in an attempt to illustrate that the arguments put forward by their subject matter exceeded and contradicted the oppositional parameters in which they were located. The next five years of work were collected in two publications: Dissemination and Margins of Philosophy; in addition, a collection of interviews, published in 1981 as Positions, appeared.

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On 14 March 1987 Derrida presented at the International College of Philosophy conference an essay entitled ‘Heidegger: Open Questions’, which was later published as Of Spirit. This work demonstrates, in response to the debate about Heidegger’s Nazism, the transformation of Derrida’s philosophical inheritance. In it he traced the shifting role of Spirit through Heidegger’s work, and also considered three fundamental and recurring elements of Heideggeran philosophy: the distinction between human beings and animals; technology; and the privilege of questioning as the essential nature of philosophy.


Derrida’s essay ‘Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences’ which he published in 1966 was the starting point of what is Derrida’s most important contribution: deconstruction. Basically this concept is an attempt to open a text to a range of meanings and interpretations; its method is to take binary oppositions within a text and illustrate that they are not as stable as might appear. In fact the two opposed notions are fluid; as a consequence, the meaning of the text is similarly fluid. This fluidity is a legacy of traditional metaphysics founded on oppositions that seek to establish a stability of meaning through conceptual absolutes where one term is elevated to a status that designates its opposite.


According to Derrida, these hierarchies are silently challenged by the texts themselves, where the meaning of a text depends on this contradiction. The aim of the critic is to show that this dialectical stability is subverted by the text’s internal logic. Deconstruction thereby leads to new interpretations of philosophical and literary texts. No meaning is ever fixed; rather, the only thing that ensures there is a sense of unity within a text is what Derrida refers to as ‘the metaphysics of presence’, where presence is granted the privilege of truth.


Although Derrida’s writings have had a profound influence, analytic philosophers and scientists have been critical of his approach. Some of his detractors regard his work as non-philosophical or as pseudophilosophy. Supporters of Derrida maintain that such criticism is circular – detractors of Derrida propose a system of evaluating philosophy that is antithetical to Derrida, and then criticize Derrida for not following it. In their view, these philosophers fail to recognize the complexity of Derrida’s work. Commenting on such criticism, Derrida wrote in ‘Following Theory’:


You also asked me, in a personal way, why people are angry at me. To a large extent, I don’t know. It’s up to them to answer. To a small extent I know: it is not usually because people are angry at me personally, but rather they are angry at what I write. They are angry at my texts more than anything else, and I think it is because of the way I write – not the content, or the thesis. They say that I do not obey the usual rules of rhetoric, grammar, demonstration, and argumentation.

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Despite such criticism, Derrida has had a major impact on academics in a wide range of fields. Deconstruction has been used in such diverse fields as law, politics, literary theory and criticism, and philosophy.

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Reflection and Prayer: Messianic Jews have yet to come to terms with the life and significance of this pivotal Jewish thinker. But his work has paved the way for postmodern thought, identity and expression, something the Messianic Jewish movement is indebted to as a child of its time. Derrida’s playful indeterminacy is both threatening and fascinating, and serious theological reflection demands an engaged response to the effect of his work. May Messianic Jews and others not flinch from such work, and may Derrida’s contribution be appreciated, appropriately responded to, and developed further. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.






A more accurate title for this book would have been The Non-Jewish Derrida.

Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint

Hélène Cixous. Translated by Beverley Bie Brahic

Who can say “I am Jewish?” What does “Jew” mean? What especially does it mean for Jacques Derrida, founder of deconstruction, scoffer at boundaries and fixed identities, explorer of the indeterminate and undecidable? In Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint, French feminist philosopher Hélène Cixous follows the intertwined threads of Jewishness and non-Jewishness that play through the life and works of one of the greatest living philosophers.

Cixous is a lifelong friend of Derrida. They both grew up as French Jews in Algeria and share a “belonging constituted of exclusion and nonbelonging”–not Algerian, rejected by France, their Jewishness concealed or acculturated. In Derrida’s family “one never said ‘circumcision’but ‘baptism,’not ‘Bar Mitzvah’but ‘communion.’” Judaism cloaked in Catholicism is one example of the undecidability of identity that influenced the thinker whom Cixous calls a “Jewish Saint.”

An intellectual contemporary of Derrida, Cixous’s ideas on writing have an affinity with his philosophy of deconstruction, which sought to overturn binary oppositions–such as man/woman, or Jew/non-Jew–and blur boundaries of exclusion inherent in Western thought. In portraying Derrida, Cixous uses metonymy, alliteration, rhyme, neologisms, and puns to keep the text in constant motion, freeing language from any rigidity of meaning. In this way she writes a portrait of “Derrida in flight,” slipping from one appearance to the next, unable to be fixed in one spot, yet encompassing each point he passes. From the circumcision act to family relationships, through Derrida’s works to those of Celan, Rousseau, and Beaumarchais, Cixous effortlessly merges biography and textual commentary in this playful portrait of the man, his works, and being (or not being) Jewish.


Hélène Cixous is one of today’s best-known feminist theorists and author ofComing to Writing and Other EssaysThe Newly Born Woman, and Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing (Columbia), as well as fiction and plays. Beverley Bie Brahic is a translator and poet living in Paris.

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17 June 1922 Birth of Eric Cohen – Secret Theology Student, Secret Jewish disciple of Yeshua

Erich Cohen was the son of sales representative Paul Cohen and was baptised as a child alongside his father in 1928 at the age of 6, probably to avoid persecution under the National Socialists. This had little effect, and with the boycott of Jewish merchants in 1933, Cohen’s father lost all his income and was on the edge of suicide. In 1934, his father suffered a stroke requiring long-term care.  Paul Cohen died and was buried on September 1, 1939, the day the war began. 

Destroyed building
Destroyed synagogue in Berlin

Erich himself experienced comparatively little discrimination at school, which he was able to attend until his Abitur in 1940.  The fact that other Jewish classmates stayed away from school and the experience of Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938 did not fully impact on his consciousness.  But he was expelled from the Hitler Youth movement in autumn of 1935 and this meant the beginning of his existence as a “second class citizen” who tried to remain “under the radar”. He would spend all his free time in a student Bible study group, and when this also was banned, in the “Youth Awake” Bible study group, which supported him practically.

I lived with the Bible and from the Bible.  I lived with the church and for the church.”

The group leader, Walter Posth, impressed on him the need to study theology and particularly the theology of the Confessing Church.Whilst he was advised to discard his Jewish name in order to avoid problems, Cohen refused. 

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1987-074-16, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.jpg
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In April 1940, he began studying theology ​​in Halle without being registered, attending the lectures of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Whist the faculty of theology accepted his application for admission to the course, the rector of the university rejected it, so that he could only stay until the beginning of February.  In 1941 he remained at the Faculty of Theology as an “illegal” student. 

He was called up for military service on December 2, 1941 but was dishonourably discharged on May 15, 1942, as a “first degree half-breed”.

The father of a college friend from Halle, Reiner Ebel, was a parish priest in East Prussia.  He placed Cohen as a tutor in a noble family in Ottenburg.  In August 1943 he took up a new position as tutor in Lugowen.  Since the school board had not approved the lessons, he was dismissed in April 1944 and employed in a stationery store in Insterburg. 

He assisted in local church services as a “theology student who actually wasn’t because he hadn’t been allowed”. In January 1945 he came to the West on a refugee transport.  In the turmoil of the dissolving bureaucracy, Cohen was able to spend the last months of the war with relatives in Bernburg undisturbed.  He devoted himself to self-study of theology and resumed theology studies in 1946 – now legally enrolled – in Göttingen.  After his exams, Cohen was an educational inspector at the church college in Wuppertal from 1950 to 1952, then pastor of the Rhenish Church in Bendorf and Düsseldorf-Gerresheim.  For many decades he tried to hide his Jewish roots, but participation in the “Christians and Jews” committee of the Rhenish regional church brought him into conversation with Jewish people.  A study trip to Israel helped him acknowledge his Jewish identity.   He died on March 31, 2013 in a retirement home in Schweinfurt. 

Reflection: The life and ministry of Eric Cohen is shrouded in secrecy, and the threat of persecution. Yet he managed to study the Bible and Theology, and serve despite the many restrictions placed upon him. In different times he would perhaps have been a more outspoken critic of the Nazi regime, a more visible expression of Jewish faith in Jesus, and a more active defender of his people.  But who are we to judge? He did what he had to to survive in a time of genocide, and we pay tribute to his memory, legacy and faith.

Psalm 116: 9-15 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. I believed, therefore I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” In my alarm I said, “All men are liars!”

How can I repay the LORD for all His goodness to me? I will lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.

Evangelisch Getauft – als Juden Verfolgt – Baptised as Protestants, Persecuted as Jews, pp.76-77. Sigrid Lekebusch / Hartmut Ludwig LL, 2014

Evangelisch getauft – als “Juden” verfolgt. Theologen jüdischer Herkunft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Ein Gedenkbuch

Theologische Literaturzeitung. Monatsschrift für das gesamte Gebiet der Theologie und Religionswissenschaft

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7 June 1913 Shabbetai Benjamin Rohold Opens “Christian Synagogue” in Toronto #otdimjh

Shabbetai Benjamin Rohold’s life was eventful. The first President of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America, he was born in Palestine in 1876 where his father was a Rabbi in Jerusalem. He became a disciple of Yeshua, moved to the United Kingdom and served with the Andrew Bonar Memorial Mission in Edinburgh. From there he relocated to Toronto, Canada, where he led the Presbyterian Missions to the Jews and opened one of the first ‘Hebrew Christian Synagogues’. In the midst of turbulent times he spoke out against the blood libel against Menachem Beilis in Russia and campaigned for the Jewish people suffering in the First World War. He returned with his wife Belle to Israel in 1921, and set up a Medical Clinic in Haifa, the Mount Hermon Bible College, and was an invited guest at the formation of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1925. He died in Cairo in 1931, and his wife Bella continued his medical work until the 1960s.

Rohold was an articulate and fiery writer and preacher. He spoke Hebrew, Arabic, Yiddish, English, German and other languages, and was not above causing riots when he preached in the streets. He was also a man of letters, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a compiler of statistics for the International Missionary Review of the World. Along with his great friend and fellow Jewish disciple of Jesus from Palestine, Sir Leon Levison, he co-founded the International Hebrew Christian Alliance (now International Messianic Jewish Alliance) in 1925, and was deeply involved in the provision of training, welfare and emergency aid for Jewish disciples of Jesus throughout the war-torn regions of Eastern Europe in the face of increasing antisemitism and persecution. A strong supporter of Zionism, he saw the return to the Land as complementing the return of his people to the Messiah Yeshua, and he spent his life in pursuit of those two goals.


Jewish disciples of Jesus have much to learn from his life and example. He was a man of prayer and of action, a man of scholarship and practicalities combined. Whilst he was provocative in his preaching, he was compassionate in his relationships with all, and was recognised as a natural leader in the different contexts in which he served. Whilst he opposed, as did the majority of Hebrew Christians of those times, the radical proposals of Mark John Levy and Philip Cohen for a more Jewish expression and life-style which has come to be known as “Messianic Judaism” today, his own Yiddishkeit (Jewish identity and life) was undeniable, and I consider that with the benefit of hindsight and the wisdom of experience he would have modified his position.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the life and ministry of Ben Rohold, whose trailblazing activities paved the way for later generations of Jewish disciples of Jesus. May we live by his standards of dedication and devotion to his Messiah and his service, and may we, as children of our time, effectively model what it means to be your disciples in our generation. In our Messiah Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen

Resources: Powerpoint of Rohold’s life and ministry: https://www.dropbox.com/s/vke4ljpkeoxc4kt/ihca%20rohold%20otdimjh%20070621.pdf?dl=0

1913  “The Christian and the Jew.” Missionary Review of the World 26(4)267-291.

1914  “The Present Condition of Israel.” Missionary Review of the World 27(12):887-895.

Bernstein, Jewish Witnesses for Christ Rohold, S. B. The story of his conversion is thus told by himself:—

“It was in the well-beloved city of Jerusalem that I was born, and there also my early days were spent. More than half the inhabitants of Jerusalem are Jews, and mostly very pious, having come from all parts[424] of the world to be buried in the Holy City when they die. The belief amongst these Jews is that when Messiah comes there will be the resurrection, and the bodies of those who were buried beyond Jerusalem will have to suffer much rolling until they reach the city. Thus to prevent this they have their burying place in the ancient city, being zealous for their religion, without enquiring as to whether they are really right in doing so. My father’s family was very well known, belonging to one of the most pious sects of Jews in Jerusalem. It was the great delight of my father to speak of his ancestors, who were great rabbis; and for half a century he occupied an honoured rabbinical position himself in Jerusalem (Rosh Hashochatim). My dear mother also, whose ancestors were leading Jews amongst the rabbis, was fond of telling us wonderful stories of her grandfather, who was a famous disciple of the great Geonim of Wilna. Needless to say, both my parents were careful to train their children in the religion of their forefathers. Being the youngest son of the family, I was much petted, and they did their utmost to bring me up in the fear of God, and in all the customs, rites, and rabbinical traditions, whilst they taught me to look upon Christianity as idolatry. Truly my parents loved me very much, and did all in their power to educate me in what they believed to be right, and their one desire was that I might occupy the seat of my dear father, to which all my teachers gave them full hope. Thus the early part of my life was spent in study within the home circle. It was in[425]the year 1893 that I had conversation for the first time with Christians.

“In that beautiful spot, the so-called Garden of Gethsemane, I one evening met two servants of God, who began speaking to me. At the time it seemed that I had gone into the Garden merely by accident, but now, as one looks back over the past, it can be clearly seen that a loving unseen hand was guiding me. These two Christians explained to me from the Scriptures how that Jesus of Nazareth is in very deed the promised Messiah, Israel’s greatest hope. As they reasoned with me, there was one passage of Scripture which I could not get over, that ‘the sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.’

“With this new light upon the Word of God I was given to understand that the promises regarding the coming One told not only of His glory and majesty, but also of His suffering and death (Isaiah liii. and Psalm xxii.).

“Slowly I began to see how great and true Jehovah is, and how that His divine word regarding the Messiah has been literally fulfilled in Jesus Christ. I saw my helpless condition, and realized as never before that my own righteousness was as filthy rags. And oh, what joy came to me, when the gracious promise of God was fulfilled, a promise which came to me now with such a new meaning. ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within[426] you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you.’ (Ezekiel xxxvi. 26, 27).

“Having then accepted Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour, I began to wish that my own loved ones might know Him, whom to know is life eternal. But I feared to tell them of my new-found treasure, and it is impossible for me to describe the unrest and agony of soul that I passed through in consequence. It was only at the Throne of Grace that comfort could be found, and there I sought the strength and help I so much needed. After this it seemed very clear that the Lord was speaking to me through His Word, and was thus answering my prayer for guidance. The word which came to me was that given to Abram of old—’Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will shew thee.’ (Genesis xii. 1).

“To leave those who are dear to one, the relations and friends, yes, even to leave all for Christ’s sake, is not easy; yet I knew it would be best to do what appeared to be the only right thing. It was a hard command to obey, but still I had the Lord’s promises to take with me,—’Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world’ (St. Matthew xxviii. 20). ‘If ye shall ask anything of the Father in My name, He will give it you’ (St. John xvi. 23). Trusting therefore in God alone, and persuading myself that He would be faithful in fulfilling His promises, I started on my journey. And by the help of Almighty God I came[427] to England, arriving here as a perfect stranger, not knowing the language, and without an earthly friend. It was a time of great temptation, but the God of my fathers kept me. Letters came from my friends and relations in Jerusalem, trying to persuade me to go back, and my dear father said it would bring down his grey hairs in sorrow to the grave if I did not return. Truly I felt the presence of my Redeemer, and realized that He had called me. This joy filled my heart, and the peace which passeth understanding was my portion. I praise God for those Christians who have learned to sympathize with His ancient people. The Lord raised up kind friends who helped me through my difficulties, and daily I learned more of my Saviour’s love, and found that ‘His goodness faileth never.’ His word says, ‘They who put their trust in Him will never be put to shame,’ and as I trusted, so I proved the truth of it. After spending some time in England, the way opened for me to enter the Bible Training Institute, Glasgow.

“Here I had opportunity of studying the Word of God, for which I was very thankful. At length a call came for me to enter active service in the vineyard of the Lord at the Bonar Memorial Mission to the Jews of Glasgow. On this work the Lord was pleased to set His seal, sending friends to encourage me, and in other ways blessing me abundantly.”

•Imber – Saving Scotland – https://www.dropbox.com/s/5qoc24df7pfqq9c/Levison%20Saving%20Jews%20Imber%20thesis.pdf?dl=0

Ben Volman – https://www.dropbox.com/s/y1glcdp92edbeyb/Volman%20Rohold%20IHCA.pdf?dl=0

S. B. Rohold. The War and the Jew (Toronto: The Macmillan Company of Canada, 1916),



1915 First Hebrew Christian Alliance of America Conference

Gershon Nerel – Zion in the Theology of Leon Avberbuch and Shabbetai Rohold


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5 June 1886 – Birth of Kurt Hahn, Refugee, Educationalist, Prince Philip’s mentor, Jewish disciple of Jesus #otdimjh

I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion ( http://www.KurtHahn.org)

Kurt Hahn: The man who taught Philip to think

Kurt Matthias Robert Martin Hahn CBE was born 5 June 1886 in Berlin and died on 14 December 1974, Hermannsberg, aged 88. I was unfamiliar with his eventful and influential life, until discovering that he was Prince Philip’s headmaster, friend and mentor at Gordonstoun school, the founder of the global Outward Bound program, and a key influence in Prince Philip’s own Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.


Hahn was more than just an educationalist – he was a pioneer in the field of leadership training, bringing physical fitness, personal development and social responsibility together in a curriculum that was challenging, innovative and inspiring. It has stood the test of time and impacted generations of young adults who have gone on to make significant contributions to society and filled their lives with courage, resilience, creativity and compassion to others.

Hahn was a Jewish refugee to the UK who had to leave Germany when Hitler came to power. His philosophy of life and personal faith led to his resistence and challenge of all forms of totalitarianism and thought-control. He wanted, for himself and those he educated, the freedom to choose the good and the right, both in personal morality, social life, and in relationship to God. He became an Anglican preacher in the 1940s, and his philosophy of life draws on both Jewish and Christian teaching, and the philosophical roots of Greek, Roman and modern liberal thought.

Whilst the spiritual development of those on the early Outward Bound trips was not especially emphasised, it was always part of the program and of Hahn’s purpose. There is evidence that the trainees themselves – or some of them, at least
appreciated these opportunities for spiritual development. According to the warden’s
summary of boys’ reports on one course at Eskdale in April 1953, around a quarter
mentioned the “spiritual aspect”. Although this was unusually high, and although
it is possible that the boys were writing what they thought the instructors wanted to
read, some of the comments seem to reflect deep thought about the spiritual side of
the course. One simply noted that “[t]he talks on Christianity and the readings in the
mornings are extremely helpful in sorting out one’s religion”, while another related
the prayers to the wider character-training aims of the course:

“One very good thing about the course is the spiritual side; by this I mean the
morning prayers …. I admit that the lead we are given by the Instructors, to
think of and to pray to the Lord even in the hardest of times is very moving to
me. On the expeditions we are all given an insight into our own characters
which I would before have never thought possible.” (Freeman p9):

As a teacher, philosopher and man of faith, Hahn fulfilled the advice of the Pirkei Avot 1:1

Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly.  They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Torah.

and of Yeshua, our teacher –

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Prayer – Thank you, Lord, for the life and contribution of Kurt Hahn to education and to forming disciples of Yeshua. May we exhibit the character traits he was so passionate to convey. May we live lives of courage, compassion and creativity – in Yeshua’s name we pray, the master teacher and model for all disciples.

Below is the article on Hahn by Pete Allison in The Encyclopedia of Educational Thinkers. London: Routledge, 2016.

KURT HAHN  1886 – 1974

Kurt Hahn was born in Germany to Jewish parents and became critical of contemporary education early in his life. Educated in classical philosophy at Berlin, Heidelberg, Freiburg, Göttingen and Oxford he committed his life to education for character formation, learning through experience and citizenship training. Despite studying in various institutions Hahn never completed a degree or education beyond secondary schooling. Most educational thinkers of Hahn’s stature leave writings as their legacy but Hahn wrote very little outside of sermons and newspaper articles. Rather he left a legacy of organisations that he either founded or were indirectly inspired by his philosophy. 

His early life was complex given the political landscape of early twentieth- century Germany. During the First World War he worked for the German foreign office interpreting the British Press, and he later became the private secretary to Prince Max of Baden (the last imperial chancellor of Germany). In 1920 they co-founded a school in Salem with Hahn as the headmaster. It was here that many of his educational ideas were first implemented and later developed and evolved through various organisations. Salem was run on seven laws which Hahn set out and he believed the value was in their combination: 

  1. Give children the opportunity for self-discovery
  2. Make the children meet with triumph and defeat
  3. Give the children the opportunity of self-effacement in the common cause
  4. Provide periods of silence
  5. Train the imagination
  6. Make games important but not predominant
  7. Free the sons of the wealthy and powerful from the enervating sense of privilege.

The underpinning philosophies of Hahn largely revolve around the formation of moral character. His beliefs were in response to a landscape of ‘decays’, which are often referred to as moral declines, which he summarised (Hahn, 1958,p. 4) as: 

  1. The decay of fitness due to our modern methods of locomotion
  2. The decay of self-discipline helped by stimulants and tranquilisers
  3. The decay of enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis
  4. The decay of skill and care helped by the decline in craftsmanship
  5. Above all the decay of compassion which [Archbishop] William Temple called spiritual death. 

To combat these declines the organisations he founded all encompassed aspects of inspiring people to realise that “There is more in you than you think” and that “Your disability is your opportunity”. More specifically he believed that there were ‘four pillars’ for meaningful education.

  1. Physical fitness
  2. Challenging adventures
  3. Development of self-reliance through projects
  4. Development of compassion through service

These ideas were developed and articulated in the early 1900s yet continue to resonate in some form today, 100 years later.  Hahn pedagogical beliefs were also ahead of their time: “It is the sin of the soul to force young people into opinions – indoctrination is of the devil – but it is culpable neglect not to impel young people into experiences” (Hahn, 1965, p. 3). Indeed, he likened education to midwifery – an analogy that has subsequently gained popularity in some student-centered educational theories. 

It is tempting to speculate that some of his philosophy of education was developed as a reaction to the social political landscape in which he lived and worked. During the First World War he held great responsibilities but after the war (in 1932) he spoke out against Hitler by asking Salem alumni to support either Hitler or Salem. As a result, in 1933 he was briefly imprisoned and, with help from his Oxford colleagues, fled Germany to England (five years later he became a naturalised British subject). While these events undoubtedly influenced his moral outlook, his speeches and unpublished writings often credit German humanists such as Goethe and also suggest that Plato’s Republic remained an important influence after his time at Oxford. 

In 1934 he founded Gordonstoun in Morayshire (Scotland) where, as the headmaster, he introduced many of the ideas he had developed at Salem. The first two students were tasked with building boats which were launched two years later. The use of sailing as a medium for learning is an example of project based learning and a continuation from the use of sailing at Salem. Students at Gordonstoun were also involved in volunteering in the local community – in particular with local coastguard services. Sailing remains an important part of Gordonstoun School to this day. 

Hahn was committed to inclusion and when he founded Gordonstoun it was a school for the local community. He introduced scholarships for those who could not afford to study there and developed the Gordonstoun Badge Scheme (1936) which soon changed to be called the Moray Badge scheme as a way of engaging local children in his vision of education. This scheme later morphed into the County Badge Scheme and finally the Duke of Edinburgh Award (1956) and International Award which continue to run today offering experiences with the Hahnian four pillars philosophy (http://www.dofe.org/go/history/). Today a staggering 300,000 young people in the UK and 850,000 young people globally in over 140 countries (http://www.dofe.org/go/stats/) are involved in these two awards. Over 8 million people have participated in the Awards since it started in 1956 and over 190,000 people currently volunteer to run the Awards globally. 

This example of starting a school and then the growth of the badge scheme is an illustration of a theme that runs through Hahn’s work – inclusion and expansion: including people regardless of their ability to pay and expanding to increase opportunities for as many as possible. Both themes were developed further in the 1940s. 

Hahn is probably best known for starting Outward Bound (OB). This emerged from the short courses (four weeks) which were based on the four pillars and followed the Badge curriculum. The first OB course was run in 1941 at Aberdovey in Wales. This was a result of collaborations between Hahn and Lawrence Holt who was head of the Blue Funnel Shipping Line – a merchant shipping company. Holt’s concern was that younger seamen did not survive at sea during the war in comparison to older more experienced seamen. Hahn believed that his four pillars and experience of using sailing as a medium for education at Salem and Gordonstoun could remedy this. The history of Outward Bound (OB) is well documented elsewhere but the ongoing influence of OB around the world is impressive. There are now 49 centres in 33 countries around the world working in 250 wilderness and urban environments serving 250,000 participants each year (http://www.outwardbound.net/aboutus/anualreports/).

In the early 1940s Hahn continued to seek political influence, becoming part of a wider education reform movement in the UK. The Norwood committee was formed in 1943 to advise the government on educational change. While it is hard to trace specifics, Holt and several of Hahn’s other associates reputedly gave evidence to the Norwood committee and thus influenced its report (1943), which emphasised character and made specific mention of badge schemes. The 1944 Education Act followed, building on many ideas from the Norwood report. This act arguably remains

the most significant educational legislation in the UK to date, and in it, Hahn’s influence is unmistakable; it provisioned for local education authorities to offer camps and residential experiences which exemplify the virtues of his philosophy. While Hahn is often seen as an individual pioneer he was politically astute and should be seen as part of a wider movement promoting educational reform. This movement and Hahn’s involvement in it also illustrates his commitment to his belief that all young people should have opportunities to undertake what he considered to be engaging and meaningful educational experiences. 

The late 1940s saw the opening of schools in Greece, Germany, England, Scotland and USA all following the Salem traditions. In 1953 Hahn retired from Gordonstoun, suffering ill health as a result of sun stroke during a sailing incident in Germany in 1904. Retirement saw Hahn continuing his expansionist aims – the Duke of Edinburgh Award was started three years after leaving Gordonstoun and in 1962, with Sir Lawrence Darvall (commandant of NATO), he founded Atlantic College in Wales. This was to be the first of the United World Colleges (UWCs) and indicates a slight change in philosophy – unfettered by wartime urgency, Hahn shifted his focus to educating young people from different countries and cultural backgrounds to create ‘champions of peace’. There are currently UWCs on every continent, 14 in all. National committees operate in 147 countries and more than 1000 students join UWCs every year. Principles of inclusion, diversity and equity remain explicit. Interestingly such principles also appear to be currently influencing some Outward Bound Schools (e.g. Oman). 

One of the first students at Gordonstoun was Jocelin Winthrop-Young (who had also studied at Salem), son of Geoffrey who was a famous mountaineer, educator and friend of Hahn. Jocelin was inspired by Hahn and encouraged by him to become the headmaster of Anavryta School in Greece (1949-59) which operated along similar principles to Salem and Gordonstoun. This is where Round Square Schools were conceived but it was not until 1966 (on the seventieth birthday of Hahn) that

Jocelin founded Round Square Schools based on six pillars: Internationalism, Democracy, Environment, Adventure, Leadership and Service (IDEALS). There are currently over 100 Round Square Schools which enrol nearly 60,000 students.  

Hahn’s ongoing impact is hard to overstate. The four organisations outlined above (Outward Bound, Duke of Edinburgh, United World Colleges and Round Square Schools) are the primary legacy of his life and philosophy but there are many others that claim inspiration such as the Sail Training Association (now Sail Training International), National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS in the USA), Project Adventure, and Expeditionary Learning Schools.

Although Hahn’s institutions were based in Europe, he left a legacy of organisations which embodied his philosophy around the world. 

Hahn’s major writings

Hahn, K. (1936) Education and peace: The foundations of modern society. The Inverness Courier. 24th March 1936. Retrieved 16 October, 2014, from www.KurtHahn.org/writings/writings.html

Hahn, K (1940). The love of enterprise, the love of aloneness, the love of skill. Address to Liverpool

Cathedral December 22, 1940. Retrieved 16 October, 2014, from www.KurtHahn.org/writings/writings.html  

Hahn, K. (1947). Training for and through the sea. Address given to the Honourable Mariners’

Company (20th Feb. 1947). Retrieved 16 October, 2014, from www.KurtHahn.org/writings/writings.html

Hahn, K. (1958). Address at the forty-eighth annual dinner of the old centralians. London: The central: The journal of Old Centralians, 119, 3-8. Retrieved 20 October, 2014, from www.KurtHahn.org/writings/writings.html

Hahn, K. (1960). The moral equivalent of war (Outward Bound). Address at the Annual Meeting of the Outward Bound Trust (20th July 1960). London: Outward Bound Trust. Retrieved 16 October, 2014, from www.KurtHahn.org/writings/writings.html

Hahn, K. (1965). Outward Bound. Address at the Outward Bound Conference at Harrogate (May 9th,

1965). London: Outward Bound Trust. Retrieved 16 October, 2014, from www.KurtHahn.org/writings/writings.html

Further reading

James, T. (1980). Sketch of a moving spirit. Journal of Experiential Education, 3(1), 17-22.

James, T. (1990). Kurt Hahn and the aims of education. Journal of Experiential Education, 13(1), 6-13. doi: 10.1177/105382599001300101

Quay, J. & Seaman, J. (2013). John Dewey and education outdoors: Making sense of the ‘educational situation’ through more than a century of progressive reforms. Sense: Rotterdam.

Richards, A. (1981). Kurt Hahn: The midwife of educational ideas. Unpublished Ph.D thesis, University of Colorado, United States of America.

Rowe, N. (2014). Tall ships today. London: Bloomsbury. 

Veevers, N. & Allison, P. (2011) Kurt Hahn: Inspirational, visionary, outdoor and experiential educator. Rotterdam: Sense.

Zelinski, M. (2010) (Ed.). One small flame: Kurt Hahn’s vision of education. Ontario: From the heart publishing.  

“You can’t be an atheist here”: Christianity and Outward Bound in Britain,
c.1941-1965 –
Mark Freeman

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31 May 1927 Birth of Michael Goulder, Maverick Scholar, Messianic Jewish Lectionary Composer #otdimjh

Michael Goulder: his theories were admired for their boldness and ambition

In the 1980s I was part of the London Messianic Congregation, and we were putting together our pattern of readings starting with the weekly Torah portion (parasha), with a portion from the Prophets (haftarah) and a passage from the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament). But how would we select the portion from the Apostolic writings, and what criteria should we use? Other Messianic congregations had developed their own patterns, but all seemed somewhat ad hoc and random.

I went up to Birmingham to hear Michael Goulder speak. His lectures were sparkling with wit and wisdom, analysis and insight, and he proposed a very credible theory that the Gospels, especially Matthew, were composed to be read aloud alongside the weekly pattern of the cycle of weekly and festival Torah portions. Whilst some of the connections seemed a little stretched, in general I found it quite convincing, and we adopted the pattern.  Here is a chart of what this might look like.

Goulder’s lectionary theories were a minority view in New Testament scholarship.   As with his other theories, on the non-existence of Q (“Quelle” – the source common to the three Synoptic Gospels), the conflict between the mission of Peter to the Jewish people, and of Paul to the nations and on the development of the Psalter and of the structure of Luke, they were always an acquired taste. But they have stood the test of time and critical scrutiny, and today scholars such as Mark Goodacre have championed their validity in the light of more recent discoveries and the development of newer tools and methods for evaluating them.

For me as a young Jewish disciple of Yeshua, it was not rocket science. The Gospels were composed by Jews for Jews (and others) about the greatest Jew who ever lived, Rabbi Yeshua Ben David. It was only natural that the records of his life and teaching were compiled to reflect his fulfilment of Torah, the Festivals, and the Jewish calendar. But until Goulder expanded and make the theory known, I did not know how it could be done.

The blessing on seeing a scholar is:

Blessed are you, O LORD our God, who has apportioned of his wisdom to those who fear Him.

ברוך אתה ה’ אלקינו מלך העולם שחלק מחכמתו ליראיו

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the life and wisdom of Michael Goulder, his contribution to scholarship and his creative and original views. May all who read your scriptures and follow Yeshua as Messiah and Lord read diligently, study enthusiastically, and be blessed with the knowledge and fear of You that is beyond price. In our Messiah’s name we pray. Amen.

From The Times
February 11, 2010

Professor Michael Goulder: biblical scholar

Michael Goulder was Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Birmingham, well known for his creative approach to the Gospels and the Psalms and for resigning his orders as an Anglican priest not long after contributing to The Myth of God Incarnate, a celebrated collection of essays that questioned the traditional Christian doctrine of the Incarnation.

Michael Douglas Goulder was born in 1927 in London. He won a scholarship to Eton in 1940 and a major scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1946. He spent several years in Hong Kong, first with the company Jardine Matheson and then at St John’s Cathedral, where he developed an interest in the Anglican ministry. He was ordained in 1951. He returned to England and studied theology at Trinity College, Oxford, with Austin Farrer, whose biblical scholarship had a profound impact on his thinking. He would follow his teacher in arguing that the evangelists wrote with an imagination informed by Old Testament types and models, and that the hypothetical gospel source “Q” was unnecessary, against the prevailing wisdom of the day.

After serving a curacy in Salford, he was in parish ministry in Withington, Manchester, for six years. He returned to Hong Kong in 1962 as principal of Union Theological College. When he came back to England in 1966, it was as staff tutor in theology in the extramural department at the University of Birmingham, where he stayed until his retirement in 1994. He became Professor of Biblical Studies in 1991.

The position in the extramural department allowed him to teach and organise theology-related courses and events across the West Midlands. He was known as a successful teacher with a friendly, engaging style. His teaching was characterised by a stress on the importance of intellectual honesty and his love of telling a good story.

He developed his theories on the origins of the Gospels and from 1969 to 1971 he gave the Speaker’s Lectures in Oxford, arguing that Matthew was an expanded version of Mark, designed to be read around the year based on the Jewish lectionary. The lectures were later published as Midrash and Lection in Matthew (1974) which earned him an Oxford DD. Subsequent work, including The Evangelists’ Calendar (1978) and culminating in his largest and best book, Luke: A New Paradigm (1989), grew from this base, dispensing with hypothetical, lost gospel sources and arguing for the literary creativity of the evangelists.

He gained some notice as one of the contributors to The Myth of God Incarnate in 1977 and he edited the follow-up volume, Incarnation and Myth: The Debate Continued in 1979. In 1981 he resigned his orders because he no longer believed in God. The book co- authored with his friend and colleague John Hick, Why Believe in God (1983), provided an account of his journey away from faith. Although his scholarship was often coloured by a painstakingly honest, sceptical perspective, he never became an aggressive atheist, and he retained a love for the Church.

Later in his career, he developed a unitary theory of Christian origins that saw the Apostle Paul and his followers developing their theology in contradistinction from the Jerusalem Christians represented by Peter and James, Jesus’s brother. A popular presentation of the theory, A Tale of Two Missions (1994), was followed in 2001 by Paul and the Competing Mission in Corinth.

He will be remembered primarily as a New Testament scholar, but in an era of ever-increasing specialisation he was unusual in successfully crossing the boundaries and developing expertise also in the Old Testament, and especially the Psalms. He was president of the Society of Old Testament Studies (“Sots”) in 2001 and wrote seven books on the Psalms, Song of Songs and Isaiah. His work was characterised by the ability to see liturgical patterns in texts that were often treated by others in piecemeal fashion.

He was a gifted public speaker and a fine debater, with a mastery of detail and the ability to think on his feet. His sharp intellect and quick wit would give him the upper hand in debates with fellow scholars, and good humour and a mischievous streak made him a popular figure on public occasions.

His academic writing was admired for its clarity and sparkle, and his theories for their boldness and ambition. If he had only partial success in persuading others of the plausibility of his theories, he nevertheless succeeded in becoming one of the best-loved biblical scholars of his generation.

Michael Goulder was married to Clare Gardner in 1953. She and their two daughters and two sons survive him.

Professor Michael Goulder, biblical scholar, was born on May 31, 1927. He died on January 6, 2010, aged 82

From Five Stones and a Sling p28: on new theories:

“My disappointment was due in large part to my inexperience. I had
supposed that scholars were dedicated to the pursuit of truth, wherever
that might lead, and that new ideas would always be welcome. This however is only partly true. Before new ideas come, scholars have reached a
consensus, and their position as authorities depends upon their agreeing
with that consensus. Their teachers, whom they normally honoured, had
taught them the consensus; they had written their books assuming it, and
they had often helped to develop it themselves. They were not at all likely,
therefore, to think that they and their fellow experts had been wrong,
and that a new scholar, of whom they had not heard, was in a position to
put them right. But there is another problem: most scholars of the New
Testament have religious loyalties: they want the text to be orthodox, or
historical, or preachable, or relevant. So any new interpretation which
does not fulfil these conditions is not likely to be approved.”

On the Lectionary theory –

“My problem came with the general structure of Matthew’s Gospel.
It is widely accepted that the Gospel consists of a series of incidents,
mostly healings, broken by five Discourses: the Sermon on the Mount
(chs. 5–7), the Mission Discourse (ch. 10), the Harvest Parables (ch.
13), a Church Law Discourse (chs. 18–19), and the Discourse on the
End (chs. 24–25). Some scholars have suggested that Matthew had in
mind a parallel to the five books of the Law; but the fit is not good, and I
found the idea unconvincing. A solution came to me, as to Archimedes,
in my bath; in the form of another question, What did Matthew have in
mind as the purpose of his book? It can hardly have been to sell it in a
bookshop, and the general tone of the Gospel suggests that it was written
to be read aloud in church. But he couldn’t have meant all twenty-eight
chapters to be read aloud at one sitting, and an alternative occurred to
me as much more likely. The book could be divided into so many units,
to be read serially, one each Sunday. Chapter 28, Matthew’s last chapter,
the Resurrection story, could suitably be read on Easter Day. If the book
were written to be read as a cycle, his first chapters would then follow.
These consist of a series of stories, most of which he signs off with a
formula, such as, ‘All this came to pass that it might be fulfilled which
was spoken by the prophet…’: Jesus’ Birth, the Wise Men, the Flight into
Egypt, the Baptism, the Temptations, the First Disciples. After these
comes Matthew’s first Discourse, the Sermon on the Mount. Now the
coincidence here seemed very striking. Jesus was killed at Passover time;
seven weeks after Passover came the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. This
was celebrated as the occasion that Moses received the Law on Mount
Sinai; and here, seven sections after Easter, we have Jesus giving a new
version of the Law on the mountain. He says, ‘Think not that I came
to destroy the Law and Prophets; I came not to destroy but to fulfil’,
and he goes on to contrast the old Ten Commandments with ‘…but I say
unto you’. In other words Matthew appears to be providing a story to
be read out in church each Sunday, and for the Jewish festivals, there
were especially suitable discourses of Jesus. The Gospel was designed to
provide readings for the whole year.”

On Readings for the Jewish Calendar and Festivals —

“The further Discourses were also appropriate: to Jews, New Year
was a feast celebrating the Kingdom of God, and in ch. 10 there follows
Matthew’s second Discourse, the sending of the Apostles to proclaim
the coming of the Kingdom. Tabernacles was a feast celebrating the
harvest, and in ch. 13 comes the third Discourse, the Parables of the
Harvest. Between these two passages comes Jesus’ reproach of the cities
where he had preached for their failure to repent, in contrast to the men
of Nineveh who did repent at the preaching of Jonah. This would fall
ideally for Yom Kippur, the annual Fast, when Israel was to repent of its
sins, the 10th of Tishri, between New Year on the 1st and Tabernacles
from the 15th to the 22nd; the Book of Jonah is the traditional prophetic
reading for the Fast. Matthew 17 presents Jesus transfigured in light, a
suitable theme for Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights, and this then leads
on to the Fourth Discourse, chs. 18–19. Matthew 22 brings us to the
Royal Wedding Feast; one guest attends without a wedding garment,
and is cast out into outer darkness. The parable would serve well for
a Christian celebration of Purim, when King Ahasuerus gave a dinner
for his new wife Esther, and the unworthy guest Haman, who has been
plotting the liquidation of the Jewish people, is cast out and hanged on
his own gibbet. Matthew 24–25, the last Discourse, warns the Church
of the coming of its Lord at Passover. Mark gives substantially the
same discourse in ch. 13, and concludes, ‘What I say to you, I say to all,
Watch: for you know not when your Lord cometh, late or at midnight, or
cockcrow, or early’ (i.e. dawn). This follows the progress of the Passion
narrative: Jesus comes at evening for the Passover meal; after this he
takes the disciples to Gethsemane, where three times he says, ‘Could you
not watch with me one hour?’ Jesus is then arrested: Peter denies him at
cockcrow, and he is tried by Pilate at dawn. The fourth century pilgrim,
Egeria, describes the Vigil kept by the Jerusalem church on Passover
night with Gospel readings at the different locations mentioned in the
story; the church then kept Passover with an adoration of the Cross. The
Gospel divides the day into a series of watches, the trial at dawn, the
crucifixion at the third hour, darkness from the sixth hour, Jesus’ death
at the ninth hour, his burial before sundown. So much detail would be
well explained if the church was already keeping vigil through the full
day of expectation of Jesus’ coming.”



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