The underlying premise of Brown’s work is that if all the pertinent information were to be put on the table, the human sensitivity to truth would choose Christianity over Judaism. These five volumes serve to confirm the exact opposite. Brown has spared no effort to put forth the best arguments on behalf of Christianity. Ten years of work and 1500 pages should have provided Christianity with a platform to substantiate her claims. Yet when we boil down the arguments it becomes apparent that there is no logical basis for Christianity. Some of Brown’s arguments are based on false premises, others are internally inconsistent, and the rest of them are simply flawed.
With these brief comments I hope to make clear why Brown’s book deserves no consideration. The following criticisms begin with the title, and proceed in order along the pages of the book. Each comment will be preceded by the relevant quotations from these five volumes, so that the reader need not constantly turn to the book and back to the comments. May it be clearly understood that these comments constitute but a small portion of the criticism that these books deserve. My goal here is to bring to light the more salient errors and the most glaring inconsistencies contained in these volumes. My silence on any one point should in no way be considered an agreement to the arguments that I did not critique.
1. The title of the book “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus” is misleading. The title suggests that Jesus and Christianity are the defendants, while Judaism is the accuser. Brown is trying to give Christianity the advantage of being “innocent until proven guilty”. The reality is quite the opposite. The burden of evidence rests solely upon the shoulders of the Christian. Until Jesus was born he was not a proven prophet. Before Jesus was born he could lay no claim to being the Messiah. (The truth is that he still is neither a prophet nor the Messiah, but even Christians can agree that before Jesus was born there were no grounds for such a claim.) The status quo is Judaism. It is Christianity that is trying to introduce new concepts. It is not necessary to “object” to Jesus. Until conclusive evidence is brought forth, there is no reason to consider Jesus.
This is not merely a legal issue (“innocent until proven guilty”), but this is also a moral and ethical issue. Let us look at a hypothetical situation where one cannot decide if the Jewish interpretation of Scripture is correct or if it is the Christian interpretation that is correct. This person is in a state of doubt. Which of the two belief systems should this person follow until he or she comes to a final conclusion? Should he or she follow Judaism or Christianity? It is clear that from a moral standpoint – this hypothetical person cannot accept Christianity. If Jesus was not who he claimed to be than devotion to him is the greatest rebellion against God that is imaginable – it is an act of idolatry, an act that Scripture describes as spiritual adultery. It is clear that from a moral and ethical point of view, the burden of evidence rests solely upon the shoulders of the Christian.
2. Page xx of the introduction.
“Sadly enough, the more religious a person is and the more time that person spent learning in a Yeshiva (a school for traditional Jewish studies), the more biased and distorted that person’s views will be concerning who Jesus is, what he taught, and how he and his followers lived.”
The argument that Brown is advancing is that knowledge of Judaism from within Judaism (Yeshiva study) will distort a person’s view as it relates to Jesus’ claims for divinity. The inconsistency of the argument is apparent. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah of Judaism. In other words, Christianity admits that Judaism was here first and that their only claim is that Jesus is a fulfillment of Judaism’s Messianic expectation. The only way Christianity can make that claim is by transforming the meaning of God, of Messiah, and introducing new doctrines on the issues of Law and atonement. The issue is not “who Jesus was”. The issue is – What did God teach us about worship of the Divine, about the Law, about Atonement and about Messiah, through Judaism. If a person does not study in Yeshiva, that person will be unaware of some very important information. If a person rejects Judaism without seeing the inside of a Talmud, that person is making an uneducated decision. He will never appreciate the Jewish connection to God, and he will have a difficult time understanding why Jesus’ claims contradict Judaism as established by God through Moses.
Brown’s statement is not only flawed, it is actually hypocritical. One who spends time studying in a Yeshiva will hear very little about Jesus and his followers. The traditional Jewish texts have almost nothing to say about the early Christians. Throughout the entire 2700 page Talmud, there are three paragraphs that some understand as a reference to Jesus. On the other hand, the authors of the Christian scriptures spent a lot of time presenting their readers with a warped view of Judaism. The Christian scripture has poisoned the mind of Western civilization against Judaism and continues to do so to this day. People who read the Christian scriptures come away with a very negative understanding of Judaism that has no basis in reality. The key issue in this discussion is: what is the belief system established by God through Moses? The Christian scripture presents inaccurate information on this foundational issue. Yet Brown is “concerned” that Yeshiva study will distort people’s view of Jesus!
3. “The real question is, What do the Hebrew scriptures teach? Which Jewish expression follows the Bible? That must be the rule of Jewish faith and practice.”
I believe that if we follow the criteria that Brown set forth the doctrines of Judaism will be vindicated, and I will substantiate my position in the following pages. But it is in place to note that the Brown’s question assumes a certain Christian principle that has no Biblical basis. Protestant Christianity posits that the only means God provided to discover His will is the Bible. This is both, not true and self-contradictory. God provided the living testimony of a nation to inform us of His will and to teach us of the Bible’s significance.
4. “no Jew keeps the Torah as it was originally given.”
This argument has no basis in reality. Although we were forced to discontinue many practices since the destruction of the Temple but the essence of our belief system has never changed. The Torah itself testifies to this truth. In Deuteronomy 30 verse 2 Moses tells us that when we are in exile we will return to God through obedience of the Torah as he (Moses) taught it. It is obvious that many of the commandments of the Torah are not practically applicable in our exiled state. Yet that does not stop Moses from referring to our obedience with the words: “everything that I command you today”. The circumstances and the situations change, but the Law of Moses is the same. The original Law incorporated the possibility that our circumstances will change over time, and the methods of dealing with these new situations are already present in the original Law.
5. Objection 1.1
“all of Jesus’ original followers were Jews”
Fine, but were they Christians? An honest reading of Christian scripture will reveal that the early followers of Jesus did not subscribe to the Christian belief system. They viewed Jesus as a Jewish Messiah, and not as a god who dies for the sins of the world (as evidenced by their participation in the Temple rituals for the expiation of sin after the crucifixion of Jesus – Acts 21). They rejected Paul’s claims to prophecy (as evidenced by their discussion in Acts 15 without reference to Paul’s alleged prophecy on the matter), and accepted the rulings of the Pharisee Rabbis (as Jesus taught in Matthew 23 – see also Acts 15:5).
6. “within a few years after his death (and resurrection), thousands of Jews believed in him”
This statement is based on the Christian scriptures. There is no reason to consider this testimony to be reliable. The same system that God put in place to teach us that the books of Esther, Ezra, Ruth and Daniel were written with divine inspiration, teaches us that the Christian scriptures were not.
7. “Since then, in every generation there has been a faithful remnant of Jews who have followed Jesus (the Messiah), numbering from the thousands into the tens of thousands.”
This assertion is not even based on the biased words of the Christian scriptures. This is pure fantasy. Let us take the years 300 CE to 1300 CE. Who were these Jewish believers? Is there any record of Jewish believers from that era? Let us take this one step further. According to Dr. Brown (page 115) true believers love the Jewish people. Every historical document tells us that anti-Semitism was considered an integral part of Christianity for many centuries. We challenge to Dr. Brown to present evidence that could substantiate the claim that there were 1000 “true” gentile believers in the years 300 CE to 1300 CE.
8. ” some (of these Jewish believers) are ordained rabbis”
Who are they? Our challenge to Dr. Brown is please provide a list of people who were respected in the Jewish community as Rabbis and converted to Christianity.
9. Objections 1.2, 1.3, 1.4.
Brown makes a valid point. “Once a Jew, always a Jew”. The question though is not, “who is a Jew?” The real question is “what is Judaism?” What is the belief system that God established through Moses? There is one religious point upon which all Jews agree, and that is that to attribute divinity to a human, is immoral. This is one point that binds Jews from every stripe and in every generation. “Messianic Judaism” stands apart from Jewish history and from the Jewish nation, in accepting the claims of divinity for a created being.
10. Page 5
Brown tells us that Israel was chosen to be a light unto the nations. Indeed. Our loyalty to the One Creator of all has brought blessing to the world, even influencing the Christian Church. Had we chosen the path that Brown suggests, and directed our devotion to Jesus, we would have repudiated our calling as God’s witnesses to the world. Had we succumbed to the empty urging of the Christian missionaries, there would have been no counter-force to the Medieval Church. It is highly doubtful if mankind could have pulled itself out of the Dark Ages imposed by the followers of Jesus, without the influence of the Jew.
The bottom line is that the Jew was chosen by God to testify to the world that there is One Creator and everything in heaven and earth are but His creations and as such are subject to Him and to Him alone. For a Jew to direct his devotion to an inhabitant of this earth is a rejection of the very heart of our covenant with God.
11. Page 7
“we rejected the Torah and the prophets as a nation”
If there was any truth to this claim, we would not have the Torah nor would we have the books of the prophets today. It was only the through the Jewish nation’s fierce loyalty to the Torah and to the books of the prophets that these were preserved to this day. Indeed, there were always certain elements of the nation who chose to abandon the Torah, and who refused to heed the prophets’ warnings. Those elements of the population were lost to assimilation. But the spiritual core of the nation preserved the words of the prophets and maintained their loyalty to the Torah. Had they not done so, the world would have never heard of Isaiah or Ezekiel.
12. Pages 8 and 9
Brown supplies us with a fanciful version of early church history. One sentence runs – “the emerging Rabbinic Jewish community began to disassociate itself from the many thousands of Jews who were followers of Jesus”
Another sentence informs us that – “At some point toward the end of the first century some of the Rabbinic leaders either composed or adapted a prayerful curse to be recited against believers in Yeshua”
There are several points that Brown would have his readers believe, none of which have any basis in fact. Brown wants his readers to believe that the Rabbinic community was “emerging” in the first century CE. In other words, Brown would have us believe that the belief system that he calls “Rabbinic Judaism” was only coming into existence in those years. Every historical document from the times of Second Temple and beyond – including the Christian scriptures, testify unequivocally that the belief system known as Rabbinic Judaism was firmly in place before the advent of Christianity, and was followed by the vast majority of Jews. The Christian scriptures testify that the masses of Jews followed Pharisee ideology (- the mere fact that they accepted and followed the Pharisee calendar is evidence enough). The Christian scriptures also tell us that many, if not all of the early Jewish Christians were Pharisees by belief. Matthew has Jesus exhorting his disciples to obey the Pharisees because they sit in the seat of Moses. There is no question that the Rabbinic community was not “emerging” from anywhere in the first century CE.
It was the Christian community that began to disassociate itself from the body of the Jewish nation. As the Christians, both Jewish and gentile, began adopting pagan beliefs and practices, they effectively cut themselves off from the stream of Jewish history. When the Christian community began identifying with the Roman oppressors, they became a threat to the physical existence of our people. Their early writings are only a partial reflection of the hatred they harbored towards Jews and Judaism. The Christian scriptures themselves are full of venom against Judaism. The writings of the early Church Fathers continue in that same vein. These include but are not limited to; The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles , the Epistles of Ignatius, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Epistle to Diognetus. All of these writings, dating from the first and second centuries of the Common Era, reflect an intense hatred towards the Jews. By presenting Jews and Judaism in this light to the Roman rulers, they were opening the way for legitimized persecution. The Rabbis instituted a prayer, adopted by all Jews until today that God may save His people from their enemies, and that God’s enemies may see no hope. Indeed this prayer was directed against the early Christians. But this was the prayer of all the people, in a desperate plea to God for their very survival.
13. Page 12
“The traditional Jewish calendar is followed because its general accuracy is accepted. (We do not automatically reject everything Rabbinic.)”
Messianic congregations accept the Jewish calendar because there is no other option, there is no other calendar followed by the Jewish people. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling. The holidays are scriptural in nature. The Bible itself exhorts that the Jewish people observe the holidays in their appointed times. Yet nowhere does the Bible say how to construct a calendar. The Jewish people accept that God taught Moses a certain calendric system that was never recorded in scripture. This calendar required that authorized courts of Rabbis meet every month to determine the length of the month, and every year to decide the length of the year. The calendar that is followed today is based on the decisions of the last authorized court – before the Christian persecutions put them out of existence. So the Messianic Jews today, by following the “Rabbinic” calendar, are faithfully abiding by the decision of men who considered their belief system idolatrous. If as the Messianics believe, that Moses taught no more than he wrote in the Five Books, they should construct their own Scriptural calendar. And if they accept that God did provide instruction outside of the books of Scripture, they should ask themselves, to what means of communication did God entrust His message? And is God using that same means of communication to tell us other articles of information as well?
14. Page 17
In an attempt to mock Judaism, Brown presents a parable in which the owner of a professional basketball team offers jobs to people who are less than five feet tall on condition that they make the team. Brown compares this scenario with Judaism’s encouragement that through observance of God’s law we could be considered righteous before God. Perfect observance of the law is an impossible task according to Brown. It is not Judaism that Brown is making fun of. He is mocking God’s word in the Bible. Throughout the Bible God exhorts humans to be holy, which Brown believes is an impossible task. The truth is that God is fair, He knows our frailty and He takes our humanity into consideration (Psalm 103:13, 14).
15. Page 19
“both faiths (Judaism and Christianity) believe in One God”
Since one of the salient differences between Judaism and Christianity is their argument about the definition of “One God”, it is misleading to say that they agree on this point. It would be comparable to saying that the communist and the capitalist both agree in principle to the same economic structure, because they both believe that the country should follow the best economic structure. This happens to be the point of contention, what is the best economic structure? Here as well, the point of contention is – What do we mean when we say “One God”? There is no way to say that we agree on this point.
16. Objection 1.8
Here Brown tries to explain to his readers why Jews have not accepted Jesus as their god. Brown fails to tell his readers the most important reason why Jesus was never an option for the Jew. The Christian Scriptures themselves testify that the most important Jewish reaction to Jesus was: “how can a man claim to be god?” In other words, Jews in Jesus’ time and until today, recognize that attributing divinity to a human being is idolatry. It is for this reason and for this reason only that Jews gave their lives rather than accept Jesus. Judaism teaches that human life is sacred, but in order to avoid idolatry, one must be ready to die.
Imagine the following scenario. A certain drug manufacturer developed a drug that he claimed would cure chicken pox. The FDA refuses to approve the drug, because they recognize that some of the ingredients of this drug are extremely dangerous toxins. When asked why the FDA turned down his product, the manufacturer responds by complaining that they never seriously tested his drug. The manufacturer never tells his prospective customers that the FDA considers the contents of his drug to be harmful and dangerous. The word “dishonesty” does not begin to describe the salesman’s attitude.
Brown is doing the same thing. He fails to inform his readers, that the Jewish people, who were entrusted by God with preserving the message of Sinai, consider his product idolatry. Instead he tries to convince his readers that the product he is trying to market was not given a fair trial!
Another point to consider on this issue is Brown’s own admission that the Church had been preaching false doctrine. For centuries upon centuries, the Church had been teaching that Israel is no longer the elect of God. Even today, many Churches contend that the Jewish people can no longer consider themselves God’s firstborn sons. So how are Jews supposed to accept the “truth” of Christianity? The Christian teaching that the elect of God are the followers of the Messiah is nowhere to be found in the Jewish scriptures. Should the Jews have accepted a non-scriptural election and repudiate the scriptural election? According to Brown’s own standard that he set forth in the introduction – “follow the Bible” – and according to Brown’s own interpretation of the Bible, the Church has miserably failed. Why does Brown value the conversion of Jews to Christianity at a time when conversion to Christianity meant rejecting God’s firstborn son? (Exodus 4:22, Jeremiah 31:8)
17. Page 21
“Most Jews have never seriously studied the issue (of Christianity)”
According to Brown (on page xx of the introduction), the real issue is – what does the Bible teach? Many of the prominent Jewish commentators of the Bible explain the Christian usage of the verses, and go on to explain why the Christian interpretation is not honest. Any Jew who studies scripture in a Jewish setting, will become acquainted with the Christian interpretations of scripture through the writings of Abarbenel and Ibn Ezra. Many of the classical Jewish works on philosophy will present the Christian scriptural arguments and the appropriate refutations. This is because throughout our history, we were forced to face the question of Christianity. In forced debates, in sermons that we were forced to attend, and from the general pressure of a hostile Christian world.
The fact of the matter is that it is much easier for a knowledgeable Jew to find the Christian Scriptural arguments in a Jewish library, than it is for a Christian to find information about the Jewish Scriptural arguments in a Christian library.
The truth is that none of this is really relevant. One does not have to be a scholar to recognize that Christianity is not an option for the Jew. Every Jewish child who knows the story of the revelation at Sinai, knows that God taught the Jews “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” We were shown at Sinai that the Creator of heaven and earth is God, there is none else (Deut. 4:35). Since no one ever claimed that it was Jesus who was revealed to our ancestors at Sinai, so he cannot be worshipped. That’s all there is to it.
Brown “graciously” acknowledges “can Jews be blamed for thinking that Christians worship idols when the churches were filled with worshipers bowing before large beautiful statues…?”
Brown would have us believe that idolatry is limited to obeisance to statues. This is not true. Worship of anyone or anything other than the God who revealed Himself at Sinai, is idolatry. In any case Brown himself advocates (in theory) worship of a physical body. Brown, along with all (Trinitarian) Christians, claims that while Jesus was alive he ought to have been worshiped. In other words, while Jesus was alive Christianity would have its adherents prostrating themselves in adoration and worship of a human. This too, is blatant idolatry.
18. Page 22
Brown presents the Christian scripture’s argument that it is spiritual blindness that prevents Jews from seeing the “truth” about Jesus. Brown does not present another argument offered by the Christian scriptures, and that is that the Jews are children of the devil, and are thus incapable of seeing the “truth”. This “tolerant” and “philo-Semitic” statement is attributed by John to Jesus (John 8:44).
Another important point to consider, is that if Christianity is the “obvious truth” and it is only a supernatural blindness that prevents Jews from appreciating it, where is the evidence? It is 2000 years now, and Christianity has still failed to present a logical and honest argument why it is that one should worship Jesus.
19. Objection 1.9
Brown presents the issue as a question between; following God versus following the ways of our fathers. What Brown does not tell us, is that God Himself designated the national tradition of our fathers as a means to communicate with us about the revelation at Sinai (Deut. 4:9). In the passage from Deuteronomy that Brown quotes, God refers to idols as “those which your fathers knew not”. In other words we are to look to the testimony of our fathers to enable us to identify idolatry when we see it. This means that the testimony of the Jewish nation concerning the revelation at Sinai is a divinely ordained means of communication, and not an immature emotional hang-up as Brown would have his readers believe.
20. Objection 1.10
In this section, Brown presents an age-old philosophical problem with Christianity. Where are all those who did not believe in Jesus? Are they all in hell? Brown throws up a smoke-screen by pointing out that no one is perfect in God’s eyes. But Brown utterly missed the point of the objection. The question is – is there really no difference in God’s eyes between Hitler and someone who may not have been all that righteous but was no Hitler (such as their grandmother)? According to Christian theology it is all the same. Judaism believes that God does not make demands of people that are beyond them. God knows our inclination (Psalm 103:13,14) and is close to all those who call to him with sincerity (Psalm 145:18). God is just, and everyone receives reward and punishment according to their ways (Eccl. 12:14). There is indeed a difference in God’s eyes between Hitler, and Hitler’s victims.
21. Objection 1.11
Here too, Brown attempts to deal with a major philosophical question. What happens to Nazi murderers who accept Jesus? According to Christian theology, one who accepts Jesus is cleansed of his sins. Many rational people have a hard time believing that a past filled with sin could be so easily erased. This Christian doctrine seems to be giving these evil people an undeserved “free pass”.
Brown responds by telling us that the Bible teaches that through repentance God forgives all sin. Indeed the Bible does teach that repentance atones for sin. It is interesting to note that Brown makes a mockery of this teaching in volume 2 (page 103), but here the teaching serves his purpose.
According to Judaism, repentance includes facing the sin squarely in the face and recognizing the evil and the guilt. If a Nazi murderer would truly repent, the feelings of regret should kill him. How many Nazi murderers actually repented according to the standards of the Jewish Bible? Yet many Nazis did not find the free pass offered by the Church too demanding.
22. Page 39
Brown claims that repentance is an essential part of the message of Christianity. What is repentance? True repentance includes a departure from sin, and reentry into obedience of God’s holy law. When a person regrets his sin with his whole heart, admits his guilt before God, and makes restitution to the people he harmed, and accepts upon himself to obey God’s commandments in the future – God wipes the slate clean. Is this the process that Jews who put their faith in Jesus undergo? How many of them observe the scriptural commandments of Sabbath, Kosher, or family purity. This is to say nothing of their total disregard of the first two of the Ten Commandments.
23. “Page 35
“The fact that these people died in the holocaust does not necessarily make them saints”
Judaism believes that if someone died in a situation such as the holocaust, his death served as an atonement for all of his sins (perhaps with certain exceptions, but certainly if the person accepted his death as such – see Psalm 25:18). If Christianity accepts the death of one man to serve as atonement for the sin of other people, then why is the sinner’s own death meaningless to the same belief system?
24. Objections 1.12, 1.13
Brown claims that many great Jewish scholars turned to Christianity. This claim has no basis in fact. Brown acknowledges the difficulty in researching the lives of these people. He claims that this is due to Jewish revision of history. Here is how you check it out. Call up any missionary organization. Ask them for a list of Rabbis who recently converted to Christianity. Ask for names and telephone numbers. Call up or write to the alleged “Rabbi” who converted. Ask him some basic questions about Jewish law. You will be astonished at the ignorance of these “Rabbis”, if your search ever got this far.
On the other hand, here is a list of prominent Christians who saw through the lies of the missionaries and converted to Judaism.
1) Asher Wade, former Methodist pastor
2) Ole Brunell, former Lutheran minister from Finland and Australia.
3) JoAnn Fay, a former Catholic nun.
4) John David Scalamonti, a former Roman Catholic priest
5) John Hove, a former Lutheran pastor.
6 ) Thomas Roper, a former Baptist minister
7) Gavriel Sanders, former Pentecostal minister and missionary in Israel.
8) Tonica Marlow, a former female evangelical minister and daughter of a Pentecostal preacher.
9) Aharón Calderón, a former monk of a Catholic monastery in South America.
10) Armando Quiros, a former catholic priest.
11) Michael Flanagan, a former Baptist minister, and son of a Minister
12) Ahuva Gray, served as a Christian minister in the African American community both in Chicago and Los Angeles for fourteen years
13) Nobutaka Hattori, a former Protestant Minister of Japan
14) Ary’el Tsion, formerly known as Bert Woudwijk, a Messianic pastor from Holland
15) Benjamin Klugger, former Pentecostal missionary
16) George Gunsberger, president of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Australia for 10 years,
25. Objection 1.14
In this objection, Brown tries to present a picture of Orthodox Judaism’s brainwashing methods. Brown describes a Moslem school in which children are chained to their places in an effort to prevent them from being influenced by untoward influences. Dr. Brown is suggesting that Orthodox Judaism practices some similar type of brainwashing techniques. Brown’s point is that Orthodox Jews are not given the opportunity to examine Christianity in a manner that would enable them to make an educated decision.
The hypocrisy is record breaking. In this series that is presented as a comprehensive response to the arguments of Judaism, Brown fails to address some of the most basic issues. (see “Contra-Brown” and “The Elephant and the Suit” available at http://www.jewsforjudaism.org). Brown already acknowledged that the issue is – “what does the Jewish Bible say?” Orthodox Jewish Bible commentators have no hesitations in informing their readership of the Christian interpretations of Scripture. At the same time, the missionaries exert themselves to no end in their effort to prevent their flock from hearing the Jewish claims. In a book that ostensibly purports to present the Jewish objection to Christianity, the issue of the Sinai revelation is given 2 superficial pages in the last volume (see our comments on the fifth volume). This would be the first issue that a Jewish schoolchild would raise as an objection to Christianity. Yet Brown would prefer that his readership not consider this basic issue.
To put it simply – most Jewish people could articulate some response as to why they would refuse to consider the claims of Christianity, while few Christians could articulate why they refuse to consider the claims of Judaism.
26. Page 51,52
Brown boasts about verbal debates that he claims to have prevailed over prominent counter-missionary activists. A verbal debate is no measuring stick of truth. An agile mind and a more seasoned performer will emerge looking better, no matter what position he is defending. The real question is, – what were the arguments? In these five volumes, Brown has yet to make a case for Christianity.
27. Objection 1.15
“many of us are especially interested in having exchanges with rabbis and religious Jews whenever we have the opportunity, and we especially appreciate interaction with well-informed Jews.”
This is simply not true. Missionaries are frightened of well-informed Jews. Again, this can be tested with a simple experiment. Get the e-mail address of any missionary organization and ask the following question – “do you believe that Hitler and his victims ended up in the same place?” and see how fast you get a response.
28. Objection 1.16
“the Hebrew Bible does not even recognize a “not too good and not too bad” class”
Another falsehood. Look at the Bible’s assessment of the various kings. Their good points are pointed out as well their faults. Many of them are pronounced righteous – but not like David, who wasn’t totally righteous himself. No one born of a woman can be totally righteous. Yet God still judges every deed and in His abundant mercy deals with each man accordingly. No one can read the Bible honestly and still believe that one who dedicates his life to promulgating idolatry is equal in God’s eyes to the average person. The Bible clearly speaks of especially righteous people, as well as the villains. It is obvious that everyone else falls somewhere in between.
29. Objection 1.17
“If Jesus really is the Messiah, why are there so many objections? – …There are far more arguments for the Messiahship of Jesus than against it”
Again Brown misses the point of the objection. Consider the following. In order to establish the logical principles that God exists and that He is in control of nature, God turned over the world (with the miracles of the exodus and Sinai). He did this in front of an entire nation. He left no room for questions. Yet missionaries would have us believe in the paradoxical teaching that attributes divinity to a human being on the basis of the garbled report of people who were devoted followers of this human being!?
Just for the record let us contrast the foundational events of Judaism against the foundational events of Christianity.
Every religious belief system (including atheism) must by definition present a teaching on that which is not visible in the physical world. Judaism teaches that there is one God, Christianity teaches that belief in Jesus provides forgiveness for sin, and atheism teaches that there is no God. None of these teachings could be verified through a physical science experiment.
In order to maintain a minimal sense of credibility, any given religious belief system must explain how it is that it received this knowledge from the realm of the invisible.
Judaism is the only religious belief system that comes with the claim that the foundational elements of knowledge came from the realm of the invisible directly to an entire nation. God Himself spoke to Israel and showed them that He is the only God (Exodus 20:1, Deuteronomy 4:35). God Himself allowed the nation to listen in as He spoke to Moses, affirming Moses’ position as God’s prophet (Exodus 19:9). These two articles of information (God’s reality, and the truth of Moses’ prophecy) are the foundations of Judaism, and these were given to the nation directly from God. In stark contrast, the foundational concepts of Christianity were allegedly revealed to individuals (Jesus, and Paul) who passed on what they claimed to have seen and learned. Judaism stands on the testimony of a nation, Christianity (like Islam) stands on the word of individuals.
We could classify miracles into two categories, there are “Wall Street Journal” miracles, and there are “tabloid” miracles. A faith-healing or even a resurrection, are not events that impact the world at large. A respectable newspaper will not put a faith-healing as a headline article because it has no broad ramifications. On the other hand, if the entire army of China were to drown in the sea, the event would make headlines in every respectable media outlet.
The foundational miracles of Judaism impacted the physical lives of nations in a concrete way. The Egyptian army, the world power of the time, was drowned in the Red Sea. A large nation (Israel) was set free from slavery, while another large nation (Egypt) suffered terrible losses. The Nile turned into blood for seven days, the country of Egypt was covered with darkness for three days – events that are visible for miles around and to countless people. In contrast, the alleged miracles of Jesus touched the lives of individuals. Not any individuals, but only those who already had put their faith in him (Mark 6:5). The alleged resurrection was only witnessed by people who already believed in him.
The miracles of Judaism were preserved by the physical descendants of those whose lives were impacted by these foundational miracles. In sharp contrast, there is no family that lives today that claims to descend from those who were healed by Jesus.
In short, the miracles of Judaism are credible from every angle. Christendom acknowledges that God went to these lengths to establish the credibility of the principles of Judaism. And again, the principles of Judaism are logical and straightforward. Yet Christendom expects people to believe that the same God will condemn everyone to hell for not believing the paradoxical teachings of the trinity and the incarnation on the basis of a few “tabloid” miracles?!
(Read Deuteronomy 13:2-6)
30. Objection 1.18
In this section Brown makes the accusation that traditional Judaism fails its adherents. According to Brown, Traditional Jews do not have an intimate relationship with God, while Christians do have such a relationship. This is an outright lie on both ends. Many Orthodox Jews have a deep and intimate relationship with their Creator, while Trinitarian Christians have a deep and intimate relationship with a human character in a Greek book.
Another point to consider is that the issue here is not an issue of relationship. There is no question that the Grand-Inquisitors who burned Jews at the stake had a deep and intimate relationship with the Christian Jesus. The issue is simply honesty. Are you being honest with yourself? Do you accept your belief system because your sensitivity to truth compels you to do so, or are you ignoring your sensitivity to truth in loyalty to the belief system?
31. Pages 60-63
Brown describes how some of the Orthodox Jews he interacted with could not describe an intimate ongoing real relationship with God, while Christians are alive with their relationship with their god. At the same time Brown describes how Jewish people he questioned felt that they were not assured of forgiveness for their sins, while Christians revel in the confident assurance that all of their sins are forgiven.
Perhaps this reveals the weakness of the belief system Brown is trying to promulgate. One who is honestly seeking a real relationship with God, will always be questioning themselves. Am I deluding myself? Or is this real? A real relationship with God is a constant ongoing experience that brings a person into constant soul-searching introspection. Of-course there is joy, real joy, in the relationship with God. Just watch the dancing at an Orthodox Jewish wedding or an Orthodox Jewish celebration of one of the holidays. But this joy does not come at the expense of truth. Orthodox Judaism does not attempt to delude its followers into false assurances. The joy of serving God does not come from the delusion of being “saved”, rather the joy is produced by the realization that we are touching the eternal truth of the God of truth. This joy encourages an incessant, relentless, and ruthless pursuit of truth. The joy of Judaism does not allow one to be lulled into a false sense of security. Judaism does not claim to offer safety. Judaism offers truth.
32. Objection 1.19
“You missionaries always use the same arguments and proofs. Your faith can’t be very deep – … We don’t need to come up with some novel, new proofs for the Messiahship of Jesus”
If you want to live a life honest with yourself and honest with God, you are encouraged not to place your trust in “proofs” that have been clearly refuted 2000 years ago.
33. Objection 2.1
“In fact, nowhere in our scripture does it explicitly say, “when the Messiah comes there will be peace on earth”
Ezekiel did not have the benefit of having read Brown’s book, or else he would not have written – “and I will establish for them one shepherd and he will shepherd them, My servant David, he will shepherd them and he will be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a prince amongst them, I the Lord have spoken. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and I will cause wild animals to desist from the land, and they will dwell in the desert in security and they shall sleep in the forests.” (Ezekiel 34:23-25) or – “And My servant David (a) king over them, and one shepherd shall be for all of them, and they will walk in My statutes, and they will keep My laws and observe them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to My servant Jacob, that your forefathers dwelt there, and they will dwell upon it, them, their children, and their children’s children, unto eternity, and My servant David (a) prince for them forever. And I will make with them a covenant of peace an eternal covenant it will be with them, and I will set them down and I will increase their number, and I will place My sanctuary in their midst forever.” (Ezekiel 37:24-26) Nor would Jeremiah have written concerning the Messiah “in his days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell securely” (Jeremiah 23:6)
The verses we just quoted are verses that Brown simply forgot. This would be bad enough, but it gets worse. Two of the verses that Brown himself quotes to establish the alleged Messiahship of Jesus, namely Haggai 2:9, and Zechariah 9:9,10 explicitly speak of an era of peace. It seems that Brown conveniently chooses which parts of the verses “prove” the alleged Messiahship of Jesus, and which parts of the same verses could be swept under the non-scriptural rug of the “second coming”. By what criteria does Brown decide which sections of the verse must be fulfilled during the Second Temple era and which parts could be indefinitely delayed for the distant future?
The Jewish expectation that the Messiah’s coming will be marked by universal peace is firmly rooted in the words of the prophets. Brown’s denial of this basic scriptural truth is simply outrageous.
34. Pages 70-88
Brown weaves an imaginative portrait, from strands of Rabbinical literature. The image that Brown tries to present is one in which the Rabbis expected the Messiah to come some 2000 years ago. Brown recognizes that according to his own theology, the words of the Rabbis are not very authoritative, so Brown turns to scripture. By piecing together prophecies of Haggai, Malachi, and Daniel, Brown argues that the scriptures predict the coming of the Messiah while the Second Temple was still standing. Then Brown turns to the Jewish calendar. Brown argues that the structure of the Biblical year parallels the Christian doctrine as it relates to the alleged “two comings” of Jesus. The first festival of the Jewish year is Passover. Brown tells us that this parallels Jesus’ demise. Then comes Pentecost (Shavuot), fifty days later. Brown argues that this holiday parallels the day when Jesus’ spirit came upon his followers fifty days after he died. Then Brown informs us that the next Jewish holiday, namely Rosh Hashana, occurs five months later. In another sentence, Brown informs his reading audience that Rosh Hashana occurs “almost six months” after Shavuot. According to Brown, Rosh Hashana is a parallel to Jesus’ expected return. Thus Brown argues, the Jewish calendar is a “precise” mirror of Christian doctrines as they pertain to Jesus’ itinerary.
The facts are quite different than Brown would have his readership believe. Rosh Hashana does not take place six months after Shavuot nor does it take place five months after Shavuot. In fact Rosh Hashana occurs three months and three weeks after Shavuot. In order to create a parallel for Jesus’ 2000 years absence, Brown tried to lengthen the time between Shavuot and Rosh Hashana. The ratio of difference between these three holidays is 1 – 2.1. In contrast the ratio of difference between Jesus’ 3 alleged appearances is 1 – 14,000, and counting. Hardly a “precise” image.
Brown had quoted a passage from Haggai (Haggai 2:6-9), in which we find God promising His people that the glory of the latter Temple (the second) will be greater than that of the first temple. Furthermore God promises to establish peace in that place. Brown argues that Jesus’ arrival is the promised glory, and the peace that the worshipers of Jesus find when they put their faith in him, is the peace that the prophet speaks of. The obvious problems with Brown’s interpretation are manifold. Firstly, the context of the passage tells us that the glory relates to gifts of gold and silver, and not to a visit by a self-styled deity. Furthermore the glory promised pertains to the house, the Temple. Jesus’ career brought no glory to the Temple. On the contrary, according to the Christian scriptures, Jesus’ denigrated the Temple. When his disciples admired the adornments of the Temple, and the gifts that were brought there, Jesus discouraged them (Mark 13:1, Luke 21:5). The peace that the prophet promised clearly applies to the geographical location of Jerusalem, implying that the peace is one which is present in the physical world and not one which only lives in the subjective imagination of a specific group of people.
Brown turns to a prophecy in Malachi (3:1-5), in which he sees a prediction for the Messiah’s arrival during the Second Temple era. Aside from the fact that the prophecy says nothing which would indicate that it is talking of the Second Temple, the passage clearly talks of events that have no connection to the insignificant career of Jesus. The prophet talks of a refinement that will render the Levite’s service in the Temple on behalf of the Jewish nation, pleasing to God as were the offerings of the days of old. Did Jesus come to refine the sacrificial system of the Temple? On the contrary, Jesus came to abolish it. Brown himself (volume 2 page 169) acknowledges that according Christian doctrine the Temple sacrifices play an insignificant role in the Messianic era if at all. So how can Brown claim that this passage in Malachi, which looks to the Temple sacrifices as an ultimate goal, be considered a reference to a man who allegedly came to do away with sacrifice?
Brown quotes the passage in Daniel 9:24-27, to support his contention that the Messiah will come before the destruction of the second temple. Daniel had spoken of 70 weeks of years (sets of 7, totaling 490 years), which were for the purpose of expiating sin and ushering in everlasting righteousness. Dr. Brown is convinced that this is a reference to Jesus’ death which took place well before the destruction of the Temple. One of the obvious problems with Brown’s contention is that a plain reading of the passage indicates that the seventy weeks of years end together with the destruction of the Temple. (The reader is referred to “Contra-Brown” – available at http://www.jewsforjudaism.org for a full discussion of these passages).
35. Objection 2.3
Brown talks of the Jewish expectation of the Messiah in the first century. The Jews constantly await the Messiah until he will come. But Brown fails to write about the Christian expectation of Jesus’ immediate return, this expectation based on the simple (sola scriptura) understanding of Jesus’ predictions.
36. Objection 2.4
Brown informs us that the crime of rejecting Jesus is the sin which deserves the holocaust. Sad. What is the moral crime of failing to see the scriptural “truth” of institutions that could produce a holocaust?
According to Brown’s own standards of right and wrong, and according to his own interpretation of the Bible, Brown would have to acknowledge that the Jewish rejection of Jesus was no sin. In the opening pages of this volume, Brown informs his readers that the “rule of Jewish faith and practice” should be the Bible (pg. xx). Up until recent years, the vast majority of Christians believed in replacement theology, they believed that the Jewish people are no longer chosen by God. The Christianity presented to the Jewish people was one which came along with a rejection of Israel’s election – a teaching that Brown recognizes as unbiblical. How could the Jews have accepted Christianity? Should the Jews have seen the “powerful evidence” to the alleged Messiahship of Jesus but not seen the evidence to their chosenness as God’s firstborn son? According to Brown’s own standard, the Jews made the morally correct choice when they rejected a theology that is clearly at variance with the word of God. Is this a sin?
There is a much deeper point to consider here. The tragedy suffered by the Jewish people during the holocaust was indeed terrible. But there was a far greater tragedy that occurred during the holocaust. The greater tragedy was the fact that the vast majority of Christian Europe participated in this terrible crime either practically or implicitly. Not only that, but the holocaust rendered 1900 years of Church history as a preparation for the greatest crime committed against God’s firstborn son. When the holocaust happened, it retroactively rendered all of the Church teachers that lived for the past 2000 years – inciters for murder. Their acceptance of Jesus did not save them from this terrible tragedy. Our rejection of the same Jesus saved us from the worse of the two evils.
If the crime of rejecting Jesus brought the holocaust upon us, we thank God that it effectively prevented us from being the perpetrators.
37. Page 110
Brown’s compares of the accusation that the Christian Scriptures is a book of hate to the anti-Semitic accusation that the Talmud is a book of immorality. This analogy is outrageous. No one who revered the Talmud ever read it as a license to be immoral, but many people who are still considered authorities on the Christian Scriptures read it as a license to hate Jews.
There is another relevant question that must be asked here. The entire purpose of communication is to transport ideas from the mind of the communicator to his intended audience. The words the communicator uses are not the end-goal of the act of communicating. The words are just a means to reach the end-goal. The ultimate purpose of any communication is the ideas that the target audience walks away with. With this information in front of us, we can appreciate why any wise communicator will evaluate the world-view of his or her audience before deciding which words to use to get the message across. If you are speaking to a crowd that is deeply imbued with the principles of the essential equality of all people and the extreme value of human life and you tell them that the Jews are the children of the devil, you could perhaps expect them to reinterpret your words according to the principles that they hold dear (even that is a stretch). But if you are speaking to an audience that never heard of these principles, and you teach them that the Jews are the children of the devil, what message do you expect them to hear?
Now the Christian scriptures are in essence a communication from the first Christian teachers to Christians in all generations. Did the authors of these books have any inkling as to how their words would be understood in future generations? Did these authors have any idea how the mind-set of their intended audience will influence the way their words are understood? If they did, then they were partners to the murderous activities of the Church. If they were myopic, simpleminded people who could not foresee how their words would be understood by the very audience that they were addressing, then how can anyone attach significance and value to their words?
Brown quotes Jesus as saying “love your enemies”. Where does Jesus say anything positive about his own enemies? Where does Jesus acknowledge the moral responsibility to question his authority? After all, if he wasn’t who he claimed he was (which he wasn’t) then obeying him is the most grievous sin against God. Together with the false prophets of history, Jesus could not recognize the simple truth that God desires an honest heart.
38. Page 113
Brown responds to the contention that Jesus must be a bad tree as the evil fruit that Christianity produced seems to indicate. His basic argument is that anyone who fails to be a moral person cannot be labeled a Christian. (page 115). What line does a person have to cross in order to be considered immoral? If someone says a lie, does that make him lose his standing as a “true” Christian? How about anger, pride, lust, self-centeredness – would any of these character faults remove a person from Brown’s roll of “real” Christians? Where did Brown find a billion Christians earlier in his book?
We all agree that one should be a moral person, that is not the point of contention. The point of contention is should we worship the Master of all and Him alone, or should we worship Jesus? Should we look to the Christian scriptures for guidance or should we look to the Talmud? We have a case history. We have two societies. One worshiped Jesus and revered the Christian scriptures, while the other worshiped God as an absolute unity and venerated the Talmud. Compare.
Idolatry eventually produces immorality. It doesn’t have to show itself in the first generations of enthusiastic, spiritually motivated, and sincere (if misguided) believers. But it will eventually show up.
39. Objection 2.6
“No Jew has ever been put to death for refusing the NT message of the love of God”.
When a person dies for his beliefs, he does not give much thought to the beliefs of his murderers. The martyr must be convinced that what he believes is true and worth dying for. The Jews all died because they believed that attributing divinity to a man is idolatry. Is this “counterfeit Christianity”?
40. Objection 2.7
Brown claims that Thomas Aquinas did not contribute to anti-Semitism. Aquinas was the fellow who taught that the Jews know that Jesus is the Messiah yet still reject him, (as a simple reading of John would reveal). This teaching reinforced the Christian image of the Jew as a partner of the devil. This teaching had a significant influence on the development of Jew hatred.
In any case, there is a much deeper question to be asked here. Why is Dr. Brown satisfied with the fact that this great genius did not “contribute” to anti-Semitism? If “true” Christianity includes a love for Jews, why is it that the greatest Church scholars believed the opposite? Why did so many men of learning, revered by Christendom until today, believe that Jew hatred is an integral part of Christianity? These theologians did not see anything wrong with the Church’s bitter hatred and disdain toward the Jews. They did not see it as a contradiction to any of their beliefs, or to any of the books they held sacred. That should tell you something about Christianity.
41. Page 135
Brown claims that Luther’s anti-Jewish writings fell into “virtual oblivion” until the Nazis got hold of them. A cursory study of German history will reveal that this is not the case. Lutheran Germany was thoroughly imbued with anti-Semitism with the encouragement of the Lutheran Church leaders. Here are some historical facts. In 1612, one of Luther’s anti-Semitic tracts was republished in an effort to stir up hatred against the Jews of Frankfurt. The popular wave of hatred that was generated resulted in the deaths of 3000 Jews and the expulsion of any survivors. Try telling the Jews of Frankfurt that Luther’s writings fell into “virtual oblivion”.
Luther’s anti-Semitic beliefs were so prevalent, that when Wilhelm Marr (1879) founded a political party whose only agenda was anti-Semitism, he was referred to as “the new Luther” (Robert Micahel, Palgrave 2006, Holy Hatred 141). It is clear that Germans were well aware of Luther’s deep hatred towards God’s firstborn son.
Brown’s statement that “Hitler and most of his officers came from Austria-a country largely untouched by the Protestant reformation” is simply false. Hitler did indeed come from Austria, but by no stretch of the imagination can anyone say that “most of his officers” came from there as well. Brown is implying that Protestant Christianity was not afflicted with anti-Semitism. This too is false. To quote Goldhagen “The moral bankruptcy of the German Churches, Protestant and Catholic alike, regarding Jews was so extensive and abject that it warrants far more attention than can be devoted to it here. Already during Weimar, the anti-semitism of the churches as institutions, of their national and local clergy as well as their acolytes, was widespread and ominous. During Weimar 70 to 80 percent of Protestant pastors had allied themselves with the antisemitic German National Peoples Party and their anti-semitism had permeated the Protestant press even before the Nazi were voted into power” (Hitler’s Willing Executioners page 107).
42. Page 138
Brown argues that Jewish slander of Jesus (who lived amongst us) is part of a vicious cycle. Centuries upon centuries of institutionalized persecution, torture, and the murder of millions is somehow balanced in Brown’s mind by the Jews poking fun at someone who claimed to be god.
Brown compares modern Orthodox Jewish persecution of missionaries to the historical Christian persecution of Jews. Some individual Orthodox Jews persecute people who are actively using deceptive tactics in order to influence their own brothers and children to convert to Christianity. If these Christians would not bother the Jews, they would be safe. How does this compare to the religiously sanctioned, institutionalized, persecution of a nation that is minding their own business?
43. Objection 2.8
Brown compares the invective of the Christian scriptures against the Jews to the rebuke of the Jewish prophet’s. Another outrageous analogy. The prophets wrote and spoke their rebuke as a rebuke to their own following, while the authors of the Christian scriptures wrote their invective as accusations against people outside the sphere of their following. The Jewish books of scripture were read as a chastisement to the people who considered the prophet’s words holy, while the books of the Christian scriptures are read until today, as character assassination of Jesus’ opponents, and as words of self-righteous reassurance to the “believers”. The Jewish prophets included themselves when they spoke of the sins of their nation (Exodus 16:28, Jeremiah 14:29, Isaiah 64:5, Psalm 106:6, Daniel 9:5, Ezra 9:6, Nehemiah 9:33). The authors of the Christian scriptures never saw themselves or their intended audience as a part of the group that they were maligning.
44. Objection 2.9
“No Church leader in history ever advocated exterminating Jews”
“The Church’s historical anti-Judisam bore no resemblance to Hitler’s racial anti-Semitism.”
Brown would do well to study some history before making such irresponsible statements. Luther called for the execution of the Jews when he wrote “we are at fault for not slaying them” (On the Jews and their Lies). Alonso de Espina, whose work was widely read in Church circles, encouraged the annihilation of the Jews. Not only did he encourage the extermination of Jews who lived as Jews, he encouraged the systematic annihilation of Jewish converts to Christianity as well. His was a thoroughly racist anti-Semitism (Origins of the Spanish Inquisition, B. Netanyahu, 1995). Racial anti-Semitism and the plan to exterminate the Jews were cultivated and nurtured in Church libraries, and in the hearts and minds of Christian scholars.
45. Page 194
Brown asks how the suffering of the holocaust brought healing to the world. In contrast, he claims, through the suffering of Jesus, countless millions were healed. The suffering of Jesus inspired countless millions to hate God’s firstborn son (Israel). The holocaust brought the Church’s top theologians to re-evaluate their assessment of this hatred. In any case, the prophet explains that a full understanding of the healing provided by the servant’s suffering will only come with the full revelation of God’s glory upon the servant.
46. Objection 2.11
Brown tries to deny the basic fact that the continued resistance of Jews to the message of Jesus poses a theological threat to Christianity. Let us accept this distorted view of history for a moment. How could a Christian be complacent in face of the Jew’s willingness to die before accepting Jesus? Remember, God chose Israel as His witness to the world. How could someone who believes in the Bible not be moved by the testimony of God’s witness?
47. Objection 2.12
Brown claims to have won all of his debates with Rabbis. A verbal debate is quite a weak method to discover the truth. Time is limited and people do not have the ability to process all of the information while listening to the debate. In these volumes Brown presents the best argument he could muster for Christianity. Please check out his arguments.
48. Objection 2.13
Brown responds to the Jewish objection which points out that there was no Jewish continuity to the early Jewish Christian community. He argues that they did retain a Jewish identity for several centuries after the death of Jesus.
Brown missed the point of the objection. The fact that the Jewish Christians had no continuity as a Sabbath observing community tells us that they were cut off from the covenant of God. Exodus 31:13 tells us that observance of the Sabbath stands as an eternal sign for God’s sanctification of His chosen people. God miraculously preserved the sign of the Sabbath amongst the Pharisee community for 2000 years. He did not do so for the Messianic community.
49. Page 202
“Messianic Jews were excluded from the synagogue by Rabbinic Jews and misunderstood by gentile Christians”
Brown tries to get his readers to believe that the treatment the Messianic Jews received at the hands of the Rabbinic community was harsher than the treatment they received at the hands of the gentile Church (excluded vs. misunderstood). The facts are quite different. Rabbinic Jews excluded the Messianics from the synagogues. Why the Messianics would want to join is beyond me. But the gentile Church slaughtered them. Once the gentile Church gained power they cruelly eradicated every form of Christianity they considered heretical, including the Jewish sects that were still extant at the time.
50. Objection 2.16
Brown brings up the Jewish objection which points out that the Jews who lived with Jesus and his followers were not swayed by Jesus’ message. Brown responds by encouraging his readers to over-turn the decision of those Jews who lived with Jesus.
Again Brown missed the point of the objection. The people who lived with Jesus and interacted with him were by and large not impressed. Aside from a few who were obviously blinded by his charisma, the populace at large saw a person polluted by the same character flaws that afflict most false prophets. So who knew Jesus better? Is it the Gentile Church (founded by Paul – who never saw Jesus outside of his imagination)? Or is it Jesus’ own Jewish neighbors?
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal