The stereotypical debate between the Jew and the Christian missionary centers on scripture. The confrontation will generally open with the missionary quoting a scriptural passage in an attempt to validate Christian doctrine. The debate will usually end with the Jew pointing out how the missionary has wrenched the passage out of its scriptural context.
Let us examine this debate at the very root. What is really going on in this struggle between the missionary and the Jew? What is each of the protagonists trying to achieve in this conflict, and by what means do they hope to reach their goals?
The Jew and the Missionary represent two very different belief systems. The adherents of each of these belief systems have their own way of looking at the world. The faith structures of these two world religions are each a complex arrangement of beliefs that affects the total mind-set of their respective followers. Throughout history, millions of Jews and Christians have lived and died by the convictions of their respective doctrines.
When the missionary engages the Jew in a scriptural debate, he is attempting to persuade this individual Jew to change camps. The missionary expects the Jew to abandon the complete belief system for which his ancestors have lived and died in favor of Christianity. The missionary hopes that his arguments will influence the Jew to recognize the supposed validity of the Christian belief system.
This is a weighty undertaking. Belief systems are not transitory possessions that people exchange easily. Faith structures are fixed in the hearts and minds of nations, and people find meaning and purpose for life in the teachings of religion. On what basis does the missionary propose to induce the Jew to exchange one belief system in favor of another? How does the missionary anticipate that this monumental transfer will take place?
The missionary believes that the Jew will be moved by the words of the prophets. The missionary trusts that the words of the Jewish scriptures carry enough weight to affect the monumental resolution that he hopes to achieve. According to the missionary, the complete faith structure of Judaism ought to be discarded on the basis of a line in scripture.
The missionary would readily justify his method. The scriptures are the words of the living God. Judaism acknowledges this truth. There can be no higher authority than the explicit words of God. If God’s word disproves the faith structure of Judaism, then certainly Judaism must be false.
We can appreciate Judaism’s effort to discredit every missionary application of scripture. It is important to set the record straight and to demonstrate how Judaism is in line with God’s word and it is Christianity that is refuted by the prophetic revelation. Indeed, it is not difficult for the Jew to accomplish this task. Most of the missionary interpretations are quickly invalidated by a contextual reading of the text in question. More importantly, the total message of the Jewish scriptures supports the doctrines of Judaism and negates the theology of Christianity.
However, a complete refutation of the missionary’s scriptural arguments does not do full justice to the Jewish criticism of the missionary’s position. The failure of the missionary’s mission does not begin at the level of the scriptural argument. The frustration of the missionary’s purpose begins at the very root of the general strategy employed by the missionary. The very act of quoting scripture to discredit the faith structure of Judaism is an exercise in absurdity.
The Christian missionary regards the Jewish scriptures as an entity that stand independent of any particular belief system. This belief is fallacious. God did not put down the scriptures in a spiritual vacuum. There were several teachings that God imparted to His people before He gave them the first page of scripture. These teachings that preceded scripture set down the basic structure of the Jewish belief system. The scriptures were not given to Israel to teach them a new faith. The scriptures were granted to provide guidance within the existing faith structure that God had already established in the heart of His chosen nation.
What were these precepts that God taught His people before He gave them the scriptures? What was the purpose of these foundational teachings? And how did God ensure the preservation of these pre-scriptural teachings?
The first set of truths that God established in the hearts of His people consists of three basic elements. These are a coherent understanding of God, the conviction that Moses is truly His prophet and the assurance that Israel is the eternal repository for these truths. God taught these basic principles to His people though the miracles of the exodus and the Sinai revelation. (Exodus 19:9, 20:19, Deuteronomy 4:9-12, 15-20, 30-39, 34:10-12)
The purpose that these foundational teachings accomplish is that they serve as the basis for the entire belief system of Judaism. Since these teachings were presented to the nation by God Himself, they are empowered to provide context and background for all subsequent teachings that were delivered through the agency of prophecy. We read the scriptures in light of the understanding of God that we learned at Sinai. In appreciation of the supremacy of Moses’ prophecy, we recognize that every authentic prophet only came to uphold the Law of Moses. And in recognition of the eternal choice of Israel as God’s witness, we read every prophecy as an affirmation of God’s election.
A second purpose accomplished through the foundational teachings is that they provide a standard through which we can evaluate subsequent claims to prophecy. A prophetic book can only be accepted into Israel’s corpus of scripture if it conforms to the understanding of God that was imparted to Israel by God Himself. The prophet must satisfy the requirements set down by the Law of Moses before his words can be accepted by Israel. And since God chose Israel to be the repository for these truths, the prophetic book must correspond to Israel’s unique understanding of these truths.
Finally, the pre-scriptural teachings serve to authenticate and provide legitimacy to all subsequent teachings. Since these teachings were imparted to the nation by God Himself, the nation has no room to doubt the truth of these teachings. The teachings of Moses are accepted, because it was God Himself who attested to the truth of Moses’ mission. The words of the prophets are accepted because the Law of Moses enjoins us to accept them. Subsequent generations of Jews accept the books of the prophets because the witnesses that God chose, namely the Jewish people, testify that these prophets satisfied the requirements dictated by the Law of Moses.
In order to ensure the preservation of the pre-scriptural teachings, God commanded the Jewish people to observe various testimonial commandments. These include the observance of circumcision (Genesis 17:11), the Sabbath (Deuteronomy 5:15), Passover (Exodus 12:26, 27), Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:43), and the redemption of the firstborn (Exodus 13:14,15). God commanded the Jewish people to pass on to their children the awe and the power of the Sinai experience (Deuteronomy 4:9). The pre-scriptural teachings are preserved through the actions and the words of the Jewish people.
We can now draw an image of the faith structure of the Jewish scriptures. The very foundations of the faith are the events of the exodus and the Sinai experience as they live on in the observances of the Jewish people. On the basis of these events we accept the Law of Moses as it is understood by those to whom it was entrusted. On the basis of the Law of Moses, as applied by the Jewish people, we accept the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and the books of Esther, Daniel and Ezra.
The missionary wields the Jewish scriptures in an effort to discredit Israel’s understanding of the events of the exodus and the Sinai experience. God utilized the events of the exodus and Sinai to teach us that everything that exists in heaven and earth are but His creations. All are subordinate to Him and to Him alone. The missionary points to one specific entity that existed within the arena that God created and demands that mankind direct reverence and devotion to that entity. This is a repudiation of God’s sovereignty over every detail of creation, and it is a denial of the principle that all creation is subordinate to God and to God alone. (Jeremiah 10:11)
The events of the exodus and the Sinai revelation taught us that Moses was truly the trustworthy one of God’s household. The missionary attempts to discredit this truth as well. Moses taught us that circumcision stands as a sign for all generations between God and His people (Genesis 17:13). Christianity denigrates this commandment (Galatians 6:15). Moses taught us that the Sabbath will stand as an eternal sign between God and His people (Exodus 32:13). Christianity disregards the observance of this commandment as well (Colossians 2:16).
Through the events of the exodus and the Sinai experience, we learned that we are God’s elect. God’s immutable election of Israelis reduced to nothing by the theology of the missionary (Galatians 3:28). The Church preaches that the elect of God are those who put their faith in the founder of their religion. The traditional view of the Church has always been that the Jews are no longer the chosen people of God. But even those who recognize that Israel’s election is immutable, have eviscerated the concept of all meaning. God chose Israel to be His witness (Isaiah 43:10 Psalm 78:5), yet every denomination of trinitarian Christianity rejects the testimony of the Jew.
The missionary’s manipulation of the Jewish scriptures in his effort to repudiate the teachings of exodus and Sinai, is an exercise in self-contradiction. The scriptures themselves point to Israel’s understanding of these events as the foundational level of the faith structure that supports scripture. The missionary’s strategy can be compared to one who blows up the first two stories of a building and expects the third floor to remain exactly where it is.
We invite the missionary to respect the order designed by God. Put the Jewish scriptures back where they belong. Learn the lessons of the exodus and Sinai through the medium that God ordained for their preservation (Psalm 78:5,6). Then, and only then will you read the scriptures in the context designed for them by God.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
“Throughout history, millions of Jews and Christians have lived and died by the convictions of their respective doctrines.”
I would like to point out that Jews have died at the hands of Christian Zealots through centuries of forced conversion by Romans, Babylonians, Christians, Muslims and the like. Christians however, cannot claim to have been forcibly forced to convert, on pain of death to Judaism, by Jews. Interestingly, Judaism is the only belief system in the world that does not feel the need to convert “infidels” and the “uninitiated” into their fold. I think this alone speaks volumes.
The blown up 1st & 2nd floor reminded of the NT parable in Luke 6:48, about building your house (faith, belief, or life) by digging deep and laying your “foundation on bedrock” so if or when a “flood comes & breaks against your house”, it/you will stand. In the next verse, Jesus, acting as God, says that “one who hears his words and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation” which would immediately collapse in any flood. So some people believe in God and “HEAR the Torah (occasionally), but (usually) do not DO the Torah”.
Now, if your foundation is already on God’s Torah and Tanakh bedrock (or you can start building on that bedrock tomorrow), why are missionairies saying that you still need Jesus (aka Yeshua, the “renewed” model of Jesus?)? Are they not, in effect, saying that God is insufficient and that Jesus is needed? The missionary may say that their belief, their argument is on ” solid ground”. But the faulty house in Luke 6:49, also has a foundation that is layed on the ground (which of course overlays the “hidden or deeply buried bedrock”). But that ground washes away with that house. The missionary may say that Jesus “points to Torah” (or to God); here and there some NT verses point to Torah (sometimes not missing the point; not out of context nor mistranslated). But pointing could mean that it is not anchored to anything. And pointing (like with a stick) could mean indirect, narrow, flimsy, rickety, or a fragile support; like a person needing a cane or some crutches to walk or like a house that is built on poles or stilts. Now, in Judaism the word pillar is often used. With strong pillars, firmly embedded in the bedrock of Tanakh, God’s Word, your house can withstand “earthquakes” or the strong winds of hurricanes. Your house is raised up high above the flood waters.
In Christianity, there is a doctrine around that all “non-believers” are lost and will perish. Matthew 28:18-20 puts an enormous pressure on them to convert all other religions, not just the Jews. But when I looked at this scripture closer, I discovered that it must be a later addition by the Roman Catholic Church.
Mat 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV)
If Christians would understand that this central statement for the conversion of “non-believers” is a commandment that was invented by Constantine’s disciples or by church fathers, and that it could not be a statement of Yeshua, they would understand that their missionary efforts are worthless. But their doctrine that the Christian Bible (esp. the “NT”) is infallible is unfortunately blinding them. These missionary efforts, as a matter of fact, are so weird that some Charismatics “evangelize” Catholics e. g.
E. g.; When I read Bereshit Chapter 17, I know already who has all power in heaven: ElShadai. Either this statement in Matthew is a later addition or Jesus was megalomaniac. But when I was a Christian, I couldn’t see it; I was simply blind. In Mat 7:14 “Jesus” says that only few be there that find the way of life – and in the verse above he wants all nations as disciples. Either it is a later addition or Jesus was megalomaniac.
It may also be interesting to read a few verses in Luke, Chap 4: 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me,it will all be yours.”
Now, who delivered all the world to the “devil” and since it was the “devil’s” to give to another being or to anyone to whom he wanted to, how did Jesus all of a sudden get authority over all the “kingdoms of the world”?
….this is a very, very good question which contains the answer already. Let me continue asking more inconvenient questions: In the Tanach, there is no devil whatsoever. Who is this devil that tempted Jesus? It is said that he is as eternal as God is; so, why doesn’t Moshe know anything about him? Okay; same story, but according to Mark, Jesus is tempted by Satan. Next inconvenient question; who was it that tempted Jesus? I suggest; neither the devil nor Satan. If you believe this story you can believe in Greek mythology with their good and evil divinities likewise.
Christians usually have not the foggiest idea about their real beliefs. They must believe but they are not allowed to understand what they believe. Thus they believe according to Mat 28:18-20 that they have to convert every-one else. Some missionaries prefer methods of zedakah in order to convert the “poor pagans”, the Roman Catholic Church on the other hand prefers pressure (swords, stakes and threatening with an eternal, endless hell e. g.).
Unfortunately yourpharaseefriend ist right when he mentions that “Jesus” is renamed “Yeshua” nowadays. I have observed this bad habit, too, especially with messianic Jews. But I myself distinguish between “Jesus HaMashiach” and “Yeshua Christ” :D. That means; Jesus didn’t have his BarMitzva on Pessach but Yeshua did. Jesus was born by a holy virgin but Yeshua by a Torah keeping Jew. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost (third person of the Holy Trinity) but Yeshua’s father was Yosef of the tribe of Yehuda.
Shomer, you are half way there, but maybe still stuck in Jesusville or Yeshuatown? Using different proper names (like Yeshua instead of Jesus) or more Jewish nouns (like Pesach or bar Mitzvah) may sound more Jewish, more biblical, more 1st century c.e. Israel or Judea, but it does not purge pagan ideas from the NT (“Brit Chadisha”). It only serves to hide or disguise and to deceive yourself.
You write that in Mark’s gospel (unlike in Mathew or Luke), that the word devil is not used but satan is. That means little; that is only playing word games. So let’s study and look at some words and see what they hint at. In the Tanach, Satan is only mentioned in Job (some say Job was not a “Jew”) and in 2 adjacent verses in Zechariah. While in the NT (NET version), Satan is mentioned about 45 times; devil, 33 times; demon, 29 times (& only in the gospels); and demons 40 times. In the Tanach, demons are mentioned 3 times and all pertaining to worship in Canaan or the “nations”. “Yeshua” seems obsessed with a devil/satan and demons.
While Mark may not mention a devil (and barely even a temptation of Jesus), the so-called most “Jewish” of the gospels, Matthew, uses devil & satan interchangeably (as do over 10 other NT books). In fact in Matthew chapter 4, we see tempter, satan, & devil used several times in less than 8 verses. Read verses: Matt 4:3 The tempter…. :5 And the devil took him…. :8 Again, the devil took him…. :10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan!… :11 Then the devil left him,…
And the satan and the devil are one and the same in John’s revelation. In Rev 12:9 and again in Rev 20:2, we read “He seized the dragon – the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan…”. It is going to be pretty hard to separate out the “Greek mythology with their good and evil divinities” from the “real” Yeshua. You will have very few words left in your NT; a small pamphlet of “true sayings” and a “true biography” (Jefferson & the Jesus Seminar are 2 that tried something similar & failed). It will be especially difficult since you cling so desperately to Jesus when constructing your re-designed “Yeshua”, because you will always wind up with a syncretistic “theology”, (or as you put it), either a “Jesus HaMashiach” or a “Yeshua Christ”. Without those elements of the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Babylonian mythologies (and the Zoroasterian, Cynic, Platonic & Gnostic philosophies) in your stripped down NT, you won’t have much left. Your Yeshua, without Jesus, would just have been a long forgotten wandering Jewish zealot and not even an itinerant poet-philosopher. He might as well be called Yose, Nathan, Dathan, Yehuda, or Abiram without a “book” to his name. But without Yeshua/Yehoshua/Iesous, there still would be a Torah and still a Tanach with all the prophets and all the promises of Moshiach that one would need.
“You can say what you like on paper”, is a famous saying. I see that you use “Brit Chadasha” and “NT” synonymous and I must tell you that you are mistaken fortunately. The Brit Chadasha does not refer to stony tablets, parchments, papyri or a printed matter called “King James Version” e. g., the Brit Chadasha is a living matter.
When you tell me that I am halfway there, you should know where I come from. Since it took 2000 years to get my away from Judaism, this would mean that I have returned one millennium already within less than ten years. While I am proud, now, you consider the missing 1000 years. I suggest that you approach me and then you will comprehend that difference between Jesus and Yeshua, too. Again;
> While Yeshua was influenced by Rabbi Hillel e. g. circumcised on the eighth day in the Temple in Jerusalem and taught the Shma Israel, the pagan Jesus is the God-Son of the Holy Trinity and “God” himself.
> While Yeshua was a Rabbi in ancient Israel as your Rabbi today is your Rabbi today the RCC-Jesus is a divinity on a wooden crucifix.
I see that you do not tell Jesus from Yeshua, mix both and say that “he” is wrong. Question; is your Rabbi wrong just only because some-one writes unacceptable stories about him and gives him a pagan name? Christians and messianic Jews mix Jesus and Yeshua likewise and they tell me that “he” is right. See, I am suffering Christian arrogance and Jewish arrogance likewise and sorry, but I don’t really see a difference. For Jews I am too Christian and for Christians I am too Jewish. And yet I have put my trust in YHVH and the Torah alone.
If you would treat Jewish indoctrination the same way I treated Christian indoctrination – we would understand each other much better.
Quote: “….in your stripped down NT” – Please know that it once w a s my “NT” – it is n o t my “NT” any more! The RCC really said everything “She” (Rev. 17:5) liked on paper. And when “She” didn’t like something “She” just took away the key to the proper comprehension (Rev. 17:5). According to Yirmeyahu 31 I am anticipating a living Torah which is stripped of all human influence such as the Talmud, Takanot or the New Testament. I believe that Moshe in DeBhaRIM 4:1-2 said that he wouldn’t accept any of the mentioned additions, neither Christian nor Jewish ones. As a matter of fact, I met a Jew who knows the Talmud and the New Testament likewise and considers them on the same level; according to him they are both a human invention.
Watch that arrogance, for then you might have more discernment, more understanding of what others are saying/writing, & you might see where others find fault in your reasoning. First, I am more like you then you might think. I am not a Jew and I have no Rabbi, nor do I have any “Jewish indoctrination” or formal study. I was “indoctrinated” as a Christian, but like you, I found & I prefer Yeshua over Jesus. I am unique, but your opinions and arguments are so very familiar to me, because of what other foIks have wrote or from what they’ve said or preached. Wasn’t too long ago, that I’d have agreed with you on many points. But, because of my searching & my studies (of early Christianity, long before the “RCC” or Constantine), I feel that I am way “ahead” of you in several ways. For, if Yeshua was a rabbi, then I’d prefer to learn from a rabbi that is living today. And, I find that i have no need for a “Yeshua”, for I prefer YHWH alone. And they are less the same then are Jesus & Yeshua. Even the word, God, is less pagan, more Torah compatible, than the idea of a Yeshua. I need no surrogate, no “word” or middleman, no man-god, between me & YHWH. I need no one “pointing” to Torah every now and then in selected verses scattered in the NT, when I can read the Torah/Tanach in it’s entirety, on my own. And no matter, how much some people try to deny it, their Yeshua is based on Jesus, not on Tanach, not on YHWH. They read Yeshua backwards into the Tanach. That is the same as they do with Jesus, except your Yeshua image looks a tiny bit more Jewish, and he acts more like an (Hellenistic?) Israelite.
BTW, most of my relatives are Christians, to some degree, which is alright with me, as long as they don’t join a cult, aren’t “missionaries” or aggressively evangelize.
The “Brit Chadasha” that was promised, and the one that really matters and will really change things, has not yet arrived. The Brit that you speak of as a “living matter” is not from Tanach, it is from the NT. Now if there are writings or there is evidence of a Yeshua, whose life or teachings are not based on the “RCC approved” NT (& not obviously heretical or from fraudulent sources), then no one knows about them. You can find Yeshua in Goble’s so called “Orthodox Jewish Bible” (I bought a copy of the 1st edition). But it is basically just has the Greek NT in English, but written using a lot of Yiddish and common Hebrew words. Now you will find Yeshua, Kefa, etc. in Willis Barnstone’s 2002 “New Covenant” (Gospels, Acts, & Apocalypse). But it is from the Greek texts & only “informed” from “Semitic sources”. I bought 1 of the Nazirite’s 1st edition of the Hebrew Roots Version (Ketuvim Netzarim or “Writings of the Nazarenes”), which is organized with the so called “Jewish” writings first and then Paul’s letters to Gentiles). It is supposedly translated from the original Aramaic and Hebrew, but there is no “original Hebrew” texts, except those translations from much earlier latin or Greek texts. And for the most part, it reads like your standard NT. Now there is The Netzarim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu” from the Netzarim in R’anana, Israel, which is the only NT text they use, and which is supposedly the “original Hebrew Matthew”, with the real Yeshua (Aramaic) or rather in “Hebrew”, Rib′i Yәho•shu′a. I got several chapters, in English, in about ’98 or ’99, and I just see an altered version of your typical NT Matthew. So where is the real Yeshua that is not also Jesus?
I try, but I just can’t write short comments; there is just too much info that some folks are unaware of. In the NT and in the ECF (early church fathers or their writings), we see the word “Judaizers”, which means making something Jewish which is not really Jewish. Who are these Judaizers? Usually, Roman non-Jew church leaders or philosopher-scholars. Marcion says Jesus had no Jewish mother nor father, so his argument against Judaizing Roman bishops is that they were trying to make a Jewish Jesus (i.e., Yeshua/Yehoshua) that necessarily required a linkage (i.e., “fulfilled prophecies” of Yeshua/Iesous/Jesus). Why? Several reasons; they liked the Hebrew bible, propaganda & psyops warfare (60-137 c.e.) against the hated Jewish rebels who would not stay “dead” or become good Roman citizens after the destruction of their Temple (which should have meant the death of God of the Jews), etc. Rome had over 30,000 gods, one of which was Greek Zeus which became Saturn. So YHWH becomes a new Jesus, a new adam, new Moses, new David, etc?
Well, one ECF stated that 3 times (between 66 to 137 c.e.), the Romans tried to kill all males in Israel who were descendant’s of King David, so that no messiah or future king could possibly rise up to rule the Jews. But they didn’t kill followers of any one named Yeshua, because neither Jew nor Roman had ever heard that some messiah supposedly already came or else his followers would have been exterminated. Jesus would never have been “invented” to replace Yeshua. Going back to Pilate’s time, seems like no Yeshua, by any name, impressed (either positively or negatively) Pilate or any other of the leagues of Roman soldiers (or the many non-Jewish traveling merchants, etc) in Jerusalem who supposedly were witnesses to at least some of the many miracles of Iesous/Yeshua. A belief system is a system; all things are interconnected and “makes sense”, doesn’t contradict reality nor itself. So if Yeshua isn’t also Jesus, then what does he matter since he would be just one Jew among millions who lived over 1800 years ago?
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