In Righteous Memory: Dwight A. Pryor

Remembering Dwight PryorThis past Shabbat, February 5 (1 Adar, 5771), a beloved co-laborer and spiritual mentor, Dwight A. Pryor, of the Center for Judaic-Christian Studies, passed from this world into the next.

Following are some of my thoughts about Mr. Pryor and how he impacted my life.

One of my earliest exposures to the Jewish roots of my faith came from hearing four Christian scholars at one conference (the Jerusalem Conference, hosted by Dr. Moseley) back in 1998. This was an event I was to attend repeatedly in the subsequent years. The scholars who taught those first few years were:

Did you notice anything about that list? All of the men held a doctorate, but Mr. Pryor. All of the men were authors, except for Mr. Pryor. But these things didn’t make Mr. Pryor any less of a scholar, or of any less caliber than any of these other men. In fact, Mr. Pryor received great respect from all who knew him. In many ways, these other scholars owe their achievements in some part to Mr. Pryor. He was a mentor to Dr. Moseley, and helped Dr. Wilson with the publication of his book. He also helped with the publication of the joint effort of Dr. Blizzard and David Bivin, Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights From a Hebrew Perspective.

I always thought of him as a gentle giant (in more ways than one). He was a tall man, but soft spoken and deeply respectful to everyone with whom he came in contact. And although I didn’t know him personally, he held a dear place in my heart since the moment I briefly met him. He was truly an inspiration. One of the things that inspired me most about Mr. Pryor was that he had so many challenges in life, yet he overcame them through the grace of Yeshua. He had many reasons to complain and loath in self-pity (the loss of his first wife nearly 20 years ago to cancer, losing the use of his hands due to severe arthritis, etc.), yet he was continually full of joy, so much so that it was contagious. One could not help but feel inspired after hearing him speak.

Yesterday, Boaz Michael of First Fruits of Zion, posted the following:

In Chasidic thought, it is an auspicious sign when a person dies on a holy day. On Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Adar, 5771, (the new moon of Adar), my spiritual mentor and teacher, Dwight A. Pryor (זצ״ל), passed into the world of truth. He died on a Shabbat, and more than that, he died on the new moon of Adar. According to the Talmud, “Joy increases in Adar.” In this case, joy may have increased in heaven, but those of us still wrapped in this mortal coil lament the loss.

How true of such a great man as Mr. Pryor.

When we first learned about his passing through yesterday’s FFOZ blog post, my wife and I wept. I commented that you know a person has impacted you deeply when you weep at their passing, even though you do not have a personal relationship with them. Mr. Pryor was a luminary in our lifetime and will be greatly missed. The void of his presence will be felt.

May his memory be for a blessing.

Day of Fire frontman Josh Brown now Messianic

Day of Fire album

Anyone who has known me any length of time knows both my passion for music, and my eclectic tastes. I may be listening to classical music one day, hard rock (Christian, of course) the next, and chassidic the day after. I first heard about Day of Fire from one of my employees back around 2003. I was immediately gripped by their driving guitars, haunting melodies and raw vocal delivery. Although front man, Josh Brown, sung for the Lord back then, he has a different melody today. Here is a little background on the band before I expound:

The Alternative-Rock act Day Of Fire got its start in 2002 when vocalist Josh Brown, ex-frontman of Full Devil Jacket, returned to the music scene. Brown has gone into rehab after severe bouts with drug abuse; he began writing songs again with guitarist + songwriter Gregg Hionis and the pair began playing in their hometown of Jackson, Tennessee USA, enlisting the help of guitarist Phil X, Chris Chaney, bass player from Jane’s Addiction and drummer Gary Novak.

The band’s self-titled debut album was finally released in late 2004 on Essential Records; the 11-track set broke into the top 30 of the U.S. Christian Albums chart and the single “Fade Away” reached the #27 position on The Mainstream Rock Tracks.

Following the recruitment of guitarist Joe Pangallo, his brother Chris Pangallo on bass and drummer Zach Simms, Brown and Hionis recorded and released Day Of Fire’s sophomore effort, “Cut & Move”, in mid-2006; they supported the record on the road with bands like Pillar and Decyfer Down and the CD eventually peaked at #14 on the Top Christian chart. The two albums sold more than 150,000 copies combined.

Day Of Fire (band shot)

Today, Josh Brown is playing music to a different beat. After playing a show with Third Day and Toby Mac in 2004, he met up with an old friend who began to share with him some concepts of Torah with him. Over the next six years, he began re-reading the Bible and wrestling with some of the Torah thoughts presented to him that night after the concert. He came to a conclusion that as a believer, he should be keeping the Sabbath and God’s commandments, stating:

“I don’t keep the Sabbath and the commandments of God because I have to do these things to accept the mercy of God and what Yeshua did on the cross. But I do these things because I love the God that wrote these commandments. That’s why I do them. Because I love Him and I want to know Him more. And I realize the only way I am going to know Him more is by doing what He has prescribed in the Bible for me to do. And as I do them more, I get to know Him more, because He really is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

In 2010, Josh Brown spent eight days living in his sukkah and celebrating his first Succot (Feast of Tabernacles) where he also performed his first Messianic concert.

Want to know the whole story? You can listen to the interview here.

Special thanks to Messianic Directory for this info.