Continuation of L. O. F. Conversation

On the November 3rd 2011 edition of Dr. Brown’s Line of Fire radio show blog http://www.lineoffireradio.com/2011/11/03/dr-brown-answers-the-rabbis-including-a-recent-video-by-rabbi-asher-meza/ – an interesting conversation developed. Dr. Brown had challenged a caller on his show to produce one misquotation of Scripture in his five volume series. I responded with what I felt were serious misquotations of Scripture in his books – and Dr. Brown defended his writings. The conversation moved on to a debate about the trinity and some other subjects. Dr. Brown felt that the conversation had moved too far from its original thread – so he asked that the conversation be taken elsewhere.

You have just arrived at “elsewhere” – Welcome! Feel free to comment!

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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288 Responses to Continuation of L. O. F. Conversation

  1. I will take the liberty of posting the first comment on this new forum in this old conversation.
    In order to get the Jews to understand to worship Him and Him alone – the One Almighty God turned Egypt over with ten plagues, drowned their army in the sea, sustained a nation in the wilderness for 40 years – and this wasn’t enough – there had to be a national revelation that made everything absolutely clear to them (Deuteronomy 4:35)
    Yet Christians would have us believe that when this same God wanted us to worship one who walked this earth and breathed God’s air as we do – He left us a confusing document that doesn’t even conclusively prove that this man claimed to be divine?!

    • rabbi yochanan ben avrohom says:

      all is a illusion when the finite is trying to explain the infinite.

      • Thomas says:

        I don’t think Rabbi Blumenthal is trying to “explain the infinite.” That is not really what this discussion is about- it’s about who should be the object of our worship? That is very much our concern.

  2. Blasater says:

    Very good point R Blumenthal!

    Jsus wrote not one word of the NT. Odd for “God” in the flesh not to clearly articulate “who he is” in an unamibugous manner. Hashem wrote the ten commandments in stone, yet the man from Nazareth couldnt even have a scribe write things down…or do it himself…he is “God” after all.

    As I mentioned on R Cohens site, It serves no purpose for G-d to “become flesh” anyway. It does not make him anymore accessible to us than he is in heaven. And it does not make him understand us any better since He is all knowing and He created us. The Creator is not capable of knowing how His created man “feels” unless he becomes us?

    And since the man from Nazareth was 100%god and 100% man, he is incapable of sinning, he had no free will and incapable of being tempted. So how can we relate to such a creature? Other than feeling pain, cold or hunger, he was nothing like us. Of course he could have done the Torah perfectly (he didnt) if he was a god-man. We all could if we were god-men. So whats the point? G-d does His own Torah? The god-man is operating under different rules. Torah was meant for us. For man. G-ds highest form of creation on earth. Not for a god-man.

  3. “How far, even to the last, Jesus remained a true Pharisaic Jew is to be seen from another episode. When one of the scribes put the question ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus answered “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one”

    [or in the Greek “Hear O Israel the Lord our God is one Lord] and you are to love your God with all your heart… and you neighbor as yourself.” The scribe supports Jesus ‘Rabbi, you have well said, for God is one and there is no other beside Him….’ And Jesus turns to him with the remark: ‘You are not far from the Kingdom of God.’

    Jesus is thus still a Pharisee and finds himself in agreement with a scribe. Still more, the answer of Jesus is so like that of Hillel, and would-be proselytes…” Joseph Klausner, Ph. D, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 319.

    “The New Testament writers are really quite carefully at this point. Jesus is not the God of Israel. He is not the Father. He is not Yahweh… [They] recalled that this was Jesus of Nazareth who affirmed the same monotheistic creed as they did… For Jesus the Shema was evidently fundamentally determinative of the whole orientation of his life.” “A pious upbringing would include the tradition of reciting the Shema regularly… the overall picture [of Jesus] which emerges is certainly coherent and is entirely consistent with the affirmation of Jesus’ belief and practice as a devout Jew… Most immediately striking is the fact that Jesus evidently drew on the Shema in his own teaching.” Dr. James D.G. Dunn, Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? (pp. 142, 145, 95, 96), 2010.

    • Blasater says:

      If I was to give him the benefit of the doubt, I could agree with that but search no further. The problem is when you search further, the Jsus as a pharisee picture falls apart.

      He changed the laws of Kashrut, Divorce, Shabbat, violated the commandment to honor his mother, some argue he violated Shabbat, he did not tell the truth to the High Priest when he stated he never taught anything in secret and only taught in the synagogues. He in fact taught MANY things in secret and told people not to tell anyone.

      He said that John the Baptist was Elijah…he was not Elijah. He said that some of those standing before him would see him coming in his kingdom with great power..They did not see that.

      On and on it goes. This is not the behavior of a pharisee.

  4. Blasater says:

    And regarding Mr Browns assertion that there is no misquotations in his 5 books, there has to be. Since the NT is filled with misquotations of the Tanakh, by even using direct quotes of the NT, there will be misquotations…even before Mr Brown offers his drash.

    I know you (R Blumenthal) have listed many already, I dont have his books and havent checked the library. (He should post them online freely since our salvation is at stake!)

  5. Mattisyahu says:

    My feeling is that Dr. Brown wanted the debate off his blog because he was so clearly losing it.

  6. Another thing I don’t get, to R’ Blumenthal’s point, is how can the Christians actually think that G-d would spend thousands of years removing Israel from paganism, warning them not to look at the ways the other nations worship their gods, not to sacrifice their own children and then–bang! Suddenly He changes His mind and wants His children to deify a man who abrogates the Torah, turns worship to himself, and then gets himself murdered and Jews are supposed to think of it not only as a human sacrifice of a firstborn son that somehow pacifies G-d, but that this is the promised messiah from the Prophets! It’s meshuggeneh!

  7. Chuck says:

    Mattisyahu

    My feeling is that Dr. Brown wanted the debate off his blog because he was so clearly losing it.

    He discusses all these Christological topics and doesn’t want disagreements. Sad to see how so-called atheists and unbelievers put many so-called Christians to shame.

  8. Yehuda says:

    Rabbi Blumenthal,

    Early in that thread on Dr. Browns site, I posed a few questions to which Dr. Brown responded. One of them was much along the lines of your opening copmment on this post. I asked :

    “Are you truly not the slightest bit puszzled as to why the same G-d who identified himself beyond the shadow of a doubt at Sinai, would some 1400 years later reveal an even more important truth to to mankind in a way that was experienced by only a few people and that even those few people – who had been in his tangible presence for years and who had witnessed his numerous miracles – would be left in a state such that ‘…the full revelation of who He was didn’t occur until after His resurrection.’

    To this Dr. Brown responded:

    “This… cries out for a response:“First, God knows what He’s doing, and we don’t dictate the terms. Second, Yeshua fulfilled key prophecies and the Messiah had to come before the Second Temple was destroyed. Third, He was among us for three full years, and countless thousands witnessed His miracles. Fourth, He sent His Spirit after the resurrection at Shavu’ot when Jews from around the world were gathered, and so they were eyewitnesses to His majesty. Fifth, there is mystery in God’s nature (ever heard of the Sephirot, for example), and God won’t fit into my little box or yours. Sixth, after God revealed Himself on Sinai it resulted in the death of 3,000 of our people; after Yeshua sent His Spirit at Shavu’ot (the same time as the Sinai revelation?), 3,000 Jews were saved, and since then, this message of the Jewish Messiah has blessed the entire world.

    I wouldn’t question God’s wisdom if I were you!

    I couln’t help but be struck by his reponse. Rather than speak to the substance of the question, he reposnded with what is essentially the 30-second version of everything he considers to be the prime arguments for justifying chritsinaty from a missionary perspective – capped off with the admonition that I have no business questioning Gods wisdom or motives. It seems almost as if the whole line of questioning based on the knowledge the Jewsih people were given at Sinai is so irritating that he feels the need to come at it with guns blazing , even if none of the guns really addresses the core issue that the Jews were taught to evaluate all theological claims based on the knowledge imparted to their fathers at Sinai.

  9. Yehuda
    thanks – it is interesting that he thinks that Jesus brought blessing to the world – even according to Dr. Brown’s version of history – the Church was a pretty evil institution for many hundreds of years. Of-course he wouldn’t want us to blame Jesus for that – but then how can he blame Sinai for the golden calf?

  10. Sir Anthony
    I think you bring out a strong point. Whatever trinitarians think of the Hebrew Bible, I think that they acknowledge that in the times of Jesus, the average Jew was NOT a trinitrarian and would have understood the Shema in a unitarian sense – this being the case – why would Jesus – who was a trinitarian according to the trinitarians – quote a verse that is so completely misunderstood by his audience? Not only does he quote it – but he puts it at the center of his worldview. In the social context within which Jesus operated that could only mean that he was a unitarian

    • Rabbi, this (what you wrote above) is obviously and massively true! It is really odd for Christians to claim allegiance to Jesus and then substitute his CREED with another post-biblical one.

      I would love to challenge the church world to come clean on this point. We need a revolution so that all readers of Scripture can at least deal honestly with the text, and especially the wonderful heritage from the Tanach, which Jesus shared, on the central issue of who GOD is, and how many.
      Anthony

  11. Yehuda says:

    Rabbi Blumenthal,

    As far as Dr. Brown’s blaming Sinai for the golden calf and 3,000 deaths.

    I think this comes back to very interesting point you made in another one of your essays. That despite his ceaseless protestations to the contrary, the Sinai event irritates him, as suggested by the fact that in one of his writings he went so far as to invoke a liberal bible scholar who questions whether Sinai even took place. Certainly an odd position to be coopted by a genuine believer in scripture.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Yehuda, if you really think about it, the Sinai revelation is actually the best demonstrable reason for a belief that the messiah would have to himself be divine or connected to G-d in some sense. Why? As we all know, Judaism does not believe in the word of Moses because Moses said he was a prophet, or because he was an emissary with wisdom, or because he gave moral teaching, but because hashem himself was behind Moses in the eyes of all Israel as he spoke his Torah through him. The people perceived the words of G-d coming from the throat of Moses. G-d’s entering into history at Sinai was Moses’ litmus test. If Israel was to trust that the Torah itself came from G-d, they had to experience hashem himself giving it to them. The Messiah according to all sources is supposed to reveal the innermost aspects of the law, deliver it to the gentiles, and have an unparalleled skill in judgement “by his sense of smell.” It makes sense at least theoretically, that given his role as Torah teacher to all nations, that he has to meet the same standard of prophecy as Moses. If the nations are to rely on Messiah’s testimony with the same surety that Jews listen to Moses.

      • Yehuda says:

        Hi CR.

        I most certainly agree that the messiah will have a historical role to play, consistent with the Sinai revelation, and authorized by G-d. However your statement that this role requires the messiah to “…himself be divine or connected to G-d in some sense.” conflates two ideas that have nothing to do with each other. Your comparison of the messiah to Moses (which by the way is flawed for other reasons) should be, to use your words “the best demonstrable reason” for the distinction between the two. No one in the history of Torah-loyal theology (Jewish or Christian) has ever promoted the worship of Moses as divine.

        I trust that most people can see the difference between a person being “connected to G-d in some sense” and being “himself divine” (read “himself god”). The Christian difficulty with this distinction is the root of the problem.

        Be well.

      • Sharbano says:

        Your own theory disproves you. The Moshe narrative has G-d interjecting Himself IN that narrative, whereas the Xtian narrative completely and totally lacks any narrative BY G-d. Therefore the Xtian narrative are Only the words of men. Men, who made constant mistakes in the narrative of their supposedly own history And culture. It is quite interesting that nowhere in the Xtian writings does G-d, Himself say.. “say to the people, saying..”. Obviously showing there is No Divine influence in the writing.

        • Blasater says:

          Exactly Sharbano! You nailed it. Furthermore, Dt 13 forbids and prevents further “progressive revelation” like Brown espouses. The church confuses prophecy and revelation by G-d regarding His nature and Torah. And your right, it is no trivial matter that “Hashem” is totally silent in the NT, he never says a word. The closest thing is a “voice” not specifically identified by G-d or being G-d, who says at the “transfiguration” this is my son….. It is pure man-made “revelation”. By definition, should this “son” have existed at Sinai, that is when the introduction to the Jewish people would have had to occurred. Dt 30, clearly states that at the time of Sinai, the Jewish people had ALL the tools necessary. Nothing was to be obtained even from heaven itself to do Torah. Now, if G-d was withholding Jesus??…His word would not be true.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

          4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

          5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

          When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

          5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

          13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
          Peter Addresses the Crowd

          14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

          17 “‘In the last days, God says,
          I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
          Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
          your young men will see visions,
          your old men will dream dreams.
          18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
          I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
          and they will prophesy.
          19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
          and signs on the earth below,
          blood and fire and billows of smoke.
          20 The sun will be turned to darkness
          and the moon to blood
          before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
          21 And everyone who calls
          on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]

          When I used the phrase connected to G-d “IN SOME SENSE”, that phraseology has been used in Jewish sources since before the Church, and even after it. Christians were not the first to speak this way. Read Philo. Read the self glorification hymn in the Dead Sea Scrolls, read Maimonides on the level of the prophecy of Moses in the guide. Read the link I posted lol The “conflation” of Jesus and G-d as you call it, is understood in a very clear way which I obviously didn’t articulate too well. The man is not the divine, but he is understood as connected to G-d because he couldn’t have said what he said otherwise, not physically. I agree that the Christian problem of focusing on allegiance to the man from 2,000 years ago is idolatrous. The Church however draws distinctions that reflect this also, and so do not limit G-d to Jesus. Does anybody read the sources that I post?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            ‘Being himself divine” was important for teaching gentile nations. As ive explained elsewhere, saying categorically Jesus is G-d was the best way to teach the nations that created emissaries are never rightly called gods, but rather G-d himself can interact with us. The pagans did not understand how the one G-d could be beyond everything, yet reveal himself, act in the world, and still be one and supreme. We see echoes of this apologetic in Philo, he just never crosses that line. This is why Philo spoke about the Logos, and why Philo said the Logos shone forth in the righteous, but most fully in Moses. Christians initially used this same model, until it became clear that pagans could hold on to their polytheism with this model. (Gnosticism, Mandeans, Zoroastrians, etc.)

          • Blasater says:

            Posting the text of the NT doesnt address the criticism. Again, the text does not have any form of the following. “And G-d said…..And the LORD said (YHVH) …nothing. Only a “voice”…it could just as easily have been a deceiving voice, the Satan, presenting the test of Dt 13. Which they all promptly failed. And the “Spirit” of the NT is not the spirit of Torah. It had an entirely different meaning by then. 400+ times in Tanach we see “G-d said or the L-RD (YHVH) said…xyz”….0 times in the NT. There is no getting around it.

            Philo would have rejected Johns logos. Even though Philo lived in the Hellenist era. The Hellenists and Neoplatanists co-opted the logos into a fully heretical being of the hypostatic god-man.

            Where the church goes off-track is taking post Sinai documents and re-shapes Torah to somehow make the Jesus narrative work. It doesnt and cant. First comes the Sinai revelation and ALL future documents must be viewed FROM Torah not Other Documentation INTO Torah.

          • Sharbano says:

            I believe it was James Tabor, a true scholar, who analyzed the Xtian writings and arranged the text in sequence of when they were written. I haven’t read it, but apparently it shines a great amount of light on how the text had evolved with each new writer on the scene, just as Xtianity has evolved with each new generation. Each one of these generations emphasizes a “different” version of what is important. But I suppose “This” generation has All the correct teachings, whereas all the past generations were in error. Judaism doesn’t suffer this calamity.

            On another note: How can one even Know which text you are quoting are from the original source. None of those documents are available. With Torah, the evidence is quite striking on how it’s accuracy has withstood the test of time. This cannot be said of the Xtian text. Which this brings another observation. These original Xtians were supposedly Jews. We see in Jewish history when writings are considered Important they are preserved. This is evident with the continuation of Tanach. When the Great Assembly decided on the canon they included all the texts they determined to be important, which exist to this day. Considering this as a Jewish tradition why is it that None of those original Jews made the effort to preserve such important documents. Surely they would have known what the Men of the Great Assembly had done and would have emulated them. There is just Way too much that leads a Jew to question whether those founders were even Jews.

            Furthermore, if Xtianity were some type of “fulfillment” (which is a misuse of the word) as Xtians say why would virtually Everything resort to opposite. I would like to see a comparison of the way Xtians do things in comparison to Jewish Tradition. For instance, Xtians remove the head covering when going into a house of worship, whereas Jews follow the opposite. Xtians say Grace Before meals. Jews have Grace After Meals. There are countless other examples. Every time I see the way a Xtian performs I find it is just the opposite of the Jewish way. Is it any wonder then virtually Everything is opposite from those who stood at Sinai, who took those Traditions and handed it down from generation to generation until this very day, just as Moshe had said would be the case as written in Devarim.

            And finally, Why would Hashem, knowing that a Jsus would have to come, even have a Sinai event. Instead, maybe it is the same as during the time of Sinai, whereby the other nations did not want to accept Torah as it was, and so it would be in the future; namely during the time of Jsus. The nations Still do not want Torah as Hashem wanted to give it, but want it as They want it to be. Torah was given for a thousand generations and I doubt we have reached that generation as yet. So, as it was then so it is still today.

          • Yehuda says:

            CR,

            I addressed your last post only because you addressed it to me. And to that extent, I disagree with your use of the word divine in connection with the messiah and I think that your analogy to Moses remains self-contradictary for the reason I stated above. However it appears that you expect me to have a more nuanced understanding of the complex structure you’ve been trying to build over a number of posts. I do not. And frankly, I’m not sure I care. (nothing personal). The word “divine” means something fairly straightforward to the average participant on this blog and the fact that you would like to use it in a more nuanced way is in my opinion, not very productive in the context of what this blog is about. So in an effort to spare both of us a lot of pointless back and forth, can I ask you a simple question?

            Are you – as you sort-of seem to be – in agreement that “divinity” and the “worship” thereof in the sense that trinitarian christian doctrine attributes those concepts to jesus, is idolatrous, yes or no?

          • Sharbano says:

            Another example occurred to me and this has deep implications. If I’m not mistaken the Xtian will say they “study the Bible”. Now, that would seem straight forward, but, instead of saying “study Torah” it is said we “learn Torah”. There is a significant reason it is put this way and that message is exemplified in the daily Davening.

          • Yehuda says:

            Ah…Lil’mod U’li’lamed Lishmor V’la’asos …well put Sharbano

          • Dina says:

            Concerned Reader,

            Just because a Jew says something doesn’t mean other Jews agree or support it. So saying that Christians weren’t the first to speak this way means nothing to us. The Pharisees rejected many of the apocalyptic writings by Jews from which Christianity drew many of its ideas (such as dualism, i.e., God versus Satan).

      • Blasater says:

        A) No one ever attributed to Moses the characteristic of being a “hypostatic union” or any sort of hybrid god-man. Normally, these discussions regarding Moses are occurring in Sod or Remez and particularly deal with Moses’ elevated soul. These discussions not not occur in the Peshat or plain literal meaning of text.

        B) Messiah ben David will likewise have an elevated soul but not be a god-man or “divine”. Being “highly exalted” does not mean “divine” for example. That would clearly violate Dt 13.

        C) The absolute last moment for G-d to reveal such a Jesus type consort was Sinai. Thus the prohibition of any progressive revelation at Dt 13 regarding His nature and the completeness of our “tools” at Dt 30. In either case, to introduce a god-man 1500 years later would mean a fatally flawed word of G-d. (G-d forbid)

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Firstly, A mortal being with an elevated soul is exactly what a polytheist considers his gods to be in the vast majority of cases. This is what is so hard to explain to you guys. Buddha was a recognized born human being, with two parents, with a “divine” awareness according to his followers. He is venerated on that basis alone, they worship nature as it is without trouble. They do not have the concept of the transcendent creator G-d that you are starting from in your definition of the divine. It doesn’t make sense to their culture. This is what hypostatic union and trinitarian language are for in Christian theology. You guys are always imputing language to Christian belief like consort, demigod, etc. but it appears you don’t actually know what these terms actually meant to the polytheists who originally used them. Take the following scenario. How would you explain G-d to somebody who had zero biblical knowledge or prerequisite beliefs? How would you answer their questions about his nature? What if a polytheist said to you the following based on your answer: “you say that G-d is beyond all things, but then you say he spoke at Sinai. How does he then remain one?” “If he is transcendent how does he possess a will? If this is just the Torah speaking human language, how do you know it was a real experience and not an illusion? It was in response to questions like these that the trinity developed.

          • Blasater says:

            Polytheistic views of “god” and elevated souls are of no concern to me. Judaism rejects the definitions out of hand. An elevated Soul does not make one divine. If you have ever studied the different levels of Soul, you will know. (See Chabad) Only HaShem is divine, we are merely sparks.. And simply put to the unknowing, HaShem Eloheinu, HaShem Echad and Hashem Echad u’shemo Echad. Those are our beginning points. The answer to transcendence, will and reality are certainly much deeper subjects. For Jews, the answer lies in studying Torah, Ketuvim, Neviim (Tanakh) and once one has a firm grasp (some say around the age of 40) then move on to Kabbalah, which goes deep. But Kabbalah can not be understood without the foundation first.

            The trinity developed by trying to re-interpret Torah by Gnostic, Hellenist and Platanist elements in the Roman Empire, the net effect of which was a consolidation of power.

        • Blasater says:

          Michael Brown has written: “The idea that the Messiah is divine is an Old Testament concept,” although I do not necessarily believe that idea was self-evident to our people prior to Yeshua’s coming into the world.”
          Brown clearly admits that the idea of a divine messiah was not self-evident. In others words, a lack of verses with declaration by G-d that this was anticipated for the future.
          The incredible thing, is that Brown must rest on circular reasoning to make up for the lack of information in Tanakh that would make the case for him. The NT has not even one verse by G-d Himself declaring Jesus is “Yahweh”…not one.
          Only a “voice” from the clouds saying this is my son. (How do we know that was G-d? It could have been Hasatan testing our resolve per Deut 13).
          All we have in the NT is the words of men…claiming divinity for the Nazarene…Zero verses from Tanakh and Zero in the NT from G-d Himself.
          In Tanakh:
          G-d said:/The LORD said: 259 times
          G-d spoke:/The LORD spoke: 141 times
          Total: 400 times
          NT: 0 times
          Speaks volumes

          • Dina says:

            Blasater, this is an important point and I’ve been using it in my arguments, so thanks! I make the distinction between the traditional Hebrew prophets who said things like “the Lord spoke to me, saying,” whereas Jesus said things like “I say to you.” The difference being that the Hebrew prophets operated as mouthpieces of God, never speaking on their own authority, whereas Jesus spoke on his own authority.

            Christians believed that Jesus was granted the authority by God to say these things, but they fail to recognize how he would have sounded to first-century Jews and why they would have been right to greet such speech with skepticism if not outright incredulity at such brazenness.

            Thanks for these great points,
            Dina

          • Blasater says:

            Thank you Dina–

  12. Sheila says:

    Hello again, Rabbi B., and others,

    I’m just now dropping in for a visit. Might I ask though, of these writing on this forum, how many of you have read the New Covenant Scriptures? I could comment all day about Islam but if I’ve never read their Koran, I would be hard pressed to argue the merits of it. So, out of these, how many have read it: Blasater, Mattisyahu, Jeisyn Murphy, Yehuda?

    • Blasater says:

      Sheila- I have read the NT dozens of times and have studied Christian apologetics since 1985. I know greek and hebrew…not fluent but enough to know. I feel confident I have read nearly every conceivable apologetic argument there is. The NT, I can assure you does not dove-tail with the Tanakh (OT) from the exegesis and its rendering (eisegesis actually) of the Tanakh, to its systematic theology and contrived godhead…It is wrong.

  13. It sounds like Dr. Brown has turned into a “one trick pony.” He’s not evolving with the nature of the debates as they’ve developed in the last 10-15 years (as has the scholarship). He’s still pounding away not actually responding. Mark Twain said that if all you have is a hammer, everything will look like nails.

    Sheila: I am a former Christian who has renounced Jesus/Yeshua as messiah. I am on the path to Orthodox conversion, G-d willing. I have a Masters of Divinity degree in Theology and know Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and Syriac. I can debate with you about the falsehood of Christianity and Jesus in any of those languages using a plethora of material.

    But there is a crucial flaw in your logic: a brain surgeon does not have to have brain cancer to cure a brain illness. So too a learned rabbi does not have to study Christianity to know it is false.

    Now, does any of that change how you view any of my statements?

  14. By the way, you can read about my journey out of Christianity/idolatry into Judaism on my blog at:
    lehitgayer.com

  15. Sheila says:

    Jeisyn,

    No, it doesn’t necessarily change anything. I just wanted to know how far each of you had looked into it, that’s all. I learned a long time ago not to be intimidated by the knowledge others possess that I don’t. I possess knowledge that you don’t, so, we can go from there. We both know “knowledge is justified of ‘all’ her children.”

    Thanks for your answer.

  16. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    To answer your question, I have read most, but not all of the NT

    You do however, raise an exceedingly important point, but not the point you think.

    Contrary to what you think, Jews have no quarrel with Chrisitians. There is scarcely a Jew (countermissionary or otherwise) alive who would deny you your right to belive in christianity if you find meaning and fulfilment in the NT, despite the fact that we think you are mistaken. What we have a problem with is christians who think that the Tanakh demonstrates the truth of christianity. The Jewish position – and this is a point that Dr. Brown at least tacitly if not overtly acknowledges – is that if the basic tenets of christianity fail the test of consistency with the Tanakh on the Tanakh’s own terms (which they do) then the NT has not earned a hearing. Have you read the sacred writings of every other world religion in order to arrive at your belief in chrsitianity? If not, then how can you claim to discredit them.

    If you can’t PROVE (that’s prove, not just find vague supportive allusions) the truth of christianity as the inescapable continuation of the Tanakh on the Tanakh’s terms, then christinaity remains as alien a form of worship to the Jew as is Hinduism and the Jew need not give it any more of his time. Once your argument appeals to the NT in support of itself, you have conceded this point.

    • Sheila says:

      Thanks Yehuda,

      How would you go about saving a Gentile such as myself from what you believe is the error of the NT Scriptures? Where is salvation for the Gentiles in Judaism, or even in the First Testament Scriptures for that matter?

      My interaction might be sporadic for a bit, but, I’ll check the follow up remarks as often as possible.

      thanks.

      • Blasater says:

        Sheila- my 2 cents..

        There are two paths for the Gentile. One is to adopt the laws of Noah in Genesis 9 that apply to all men. That is the seven laws of Noah. You can find a lot of info on the web about it. It is believed by some that James in the book of Acts, was telling Paul to teach the Gentiles these 7 laws. These laws , also know as “the righteous gentile” as discussed in the Talmud. Paul, unfortunately, didnt not follow the advice of James and went off the reservation big time.

        The second, of course in conversion. Many believe Yitro (Jethro) to be the first Jewish convert. The there is Ruth. Many many converts since then.

        It seems to break down this way. If you hunger for the G-d of Abraham, Issac and Jacob but dont feel compelled to the mitzvot (commandments), be a righteous gentile…a Noahide.

        If you hunger for G-d and feel deep down in your neshama (soul) that you are Jewish and the mitzvot is what you DO feel compelled to take on…convert.

        So this highlights a problem I have with Christianity. Since the time of Noah….there has ALWAYS been a way for the Gentile….Noahide or conversion. There has never been a need for a 3rd way, the NT way.

        And dont stress about the “lack of warmth” you may get from time to time. Most Jews are used to hostility…like Daniel from Dr Browns site. So your motivation will be suspect until people get to know you. Shalom

  17. Thomas says:

    Yehuda, your point can also be applied to Mormonism, where a Mormon might ask a Christian whether they have ever read the Book of Mormon. Most Christians would certainly consider Mormonism outside the parameters and teachings of both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, but have not studied the Book of Mormon itself.

    But the point is the same- the discussion begins with the Hebrew Bible first, and even as you quote Brown, his basis for Jesus’ messiahship are a number of messianic proof-texts, texts which purportedly speak of a divine messiah, and texts which he claims requires the messiah to arrive during the Second Temple period. If those proof texts do not demonstrate what he says they do, it’s significant.

  18. Sheila says:

    And thank you too, Blasater.

  19. Sheila, it’s disappointing that you switched your approach from open questioning to defensiveness. This is evident in your inquiry about who has read the NT. When I said I had read it and then asked if that changed how you viewed anything I said, you replied that it had not (I had already guessed you would respond this way when I first read your initial post) which means you were dishonest when you said your intentions in asking who read the NT were to see if any of us could legitimately argue our position. This also means that you don’t put stock in the opinions of others, whether they are educated opinions or not, unless they agree with your own. You try and support your position by saying that knowledge is justified by all of her children. But you fail to realize that now everyone is a child of knowledge. There is ultimate truth with a “T” which meas some people are wrong and others are right…

    • Sheila says:

      My, my–you got all of that out of my wanting to know who had actually read the NT? That’s amazing!

      • naaria says:

        Yes, all that Jeisyn said is plain for all to see. What a Christian believes and what they say, what they really mean, is all very familiar to us who were Christians or are still Christians (but have doubts because they see no foundation, no reason, for any belief in Jesus. Or in “Yeshua” as the “new-age” “Judaizers” – new replacement theologians- prefer to call Jesus). We see our old selves in you. But if one seeks, one finds. One, ignorant of the “God of the Jews”, the Original God, the God of Sinai, may come to believe Jesus/Yeshua as “the Way”. But a “way” is not a Goal, not a destination. “Ways” can be dead-ends, a delusion, a diversion. Once one goes down a “path”, (I would include someone “sorta smart” like Dr Brown), one becomes “blind” to all the Truth beside the road. God is the destination, not “Iesous-Yeshua-Jesus”. Since we are already children of God, we do not need to go through a middle-man or an intermediary “son” ( to get to OUR Father. Decades of study in Christianity and the NT (with a closed mind), including a decade studying the “Hebraic Roots of Jesus messiah/Christ” can be jettisoned with just one book or only a hours/nights studying Judaism and the Original God (its like trying to get back to the Garden instead of heading towards “pagan-god-man town”).

  20. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    Your question stems from a purely chrsitian notion of damnation and salvation to which Judaism does not subscribe. I do not believe you are damned because of your beliefs. My belief is that God has certain expectations of you vis-a-vis the way you live – including your belief system. However – and this is important – I am in no position to judge where you stand with God. Every person’s individual circumstances are unique and where you fall in the overall balance of things is for God to decide not me. You see, unlike you, I also belive that the way you live your life – yes, your works – contribute to that very complex equation. This is in sharp contrast to you who belive that notwithsatnding anything I do, so long as I don’t adopt your beliefs, I am doomed to eternal damnation.

  21. Yehuda says:

    Thomas,

    Indeed, by Shelia’s standards, any crhistian who has not seriously considered the merits of the book of Mormon, is working on a seriously flawed belief system.

  22. Edit: “now everyone is a child of knowledge” should read “not everyone…”

  23. Sheila says:

    All,

    We are working from the Tanach are we not? So, had I no knowledge of it, we wouldn’t get very far would we and I would just have to believe your interpretation, correct? I’m here to get a feel for the flavor of your interactions. I don’t plan on camping out to win proselytes.

    My feeling so far–very negative and not a very warm welcome at all.

  24. Yehuda says:

    “…I don’t plan on camping out to win proselytes.”

    Sheila, with all due respect, your post trail on Dr. Brown’s website, makes it hard to take that seriously. Are you claiming that your participation here has no agenda to “save” us?

  25. Thomas says:

    Sheila, my regrets if you do not feel welcome here. Please accept my apologies if my post in any way indicated as such.

  26. Sheila says:

    Yehuda,

    Please keep in mind that Dr. Brown’s forum is a Christian one. I’m a Christian; I’m here at the invitation of Rabbi Blumenthal and this is the very first time outside of Dr. B.s, forum that I have interacted with orthodox Jews. What do you expect from my posts on a Christian forum such as Dr Brown’s?

    I would like to hear the Jewish world view–especially as it relates to Gentiles. Is that asking to much? How should I know the God of the Jews and what is the implication for my own life? Those are some questions I have.

    Thanks Thomas, I appreciate that.

  27. Sheila says:

    Here is one question: “Is the God of the Jews only for the Jews?” And if not, what is to be my relationship with Him? Things like that.

    Thanks.

    • If you are here to learn about the G-d of the Jews, you don’t need to bring in your NT or your concerns about how much NT we know or do not know. Direct questions like the one above is a good start.

  28. Sheila says:

    ok, well that was two questions. 🙂

  29. Yehuda says:

    My apologies. Any offense was not intended.

    I simply presumed that as a veteran of Dr. Brown’s blog, and given that this post was explicitly intended to continue that very dialogue, I assumed that you came here with your battle gear on 🙂

    Again, my apologies.

    Now if you don ‘t mind, I’d like to ask my last question again. Are you claiming that your participation here has no agenda to “save” us?

  30. Sheila
    You are welcome to write what you want (as long as you don’t get into personal attacks) and to take the thread wherever you want – and I will not cut off the conversation
    the point of this thread (and this was the premise I was operating under when I commented on LOF) is that with honest open discussion – God’s truth will triumph.
    You asked what is God’s plan for the Gentiles according to the Jewish Scriptures. The Jewish scriptures NEVER say that you have to be Jewish in order to go to heaven. The Jewish Scriptures teach that God is close to ALL who call upon Him in truth (Psalm 145:18). God is the Creator of the Gentiles as He is the Creator of the Jews. Noah and Job were both Gentiles – and righteous in God’s eyes. So – although the Jewish Scriptures focus on God’s special relationship with Israel – but there is no teaching in the Jewish Scriptures or in the Jewish traditions that Gentiles cannot have a relationship with God or that they are “lost” or “damned”. the fact that your heart is beating – is God’s expression of love for you, the feeling that you have when the earth holds you up is the feeling of being cradled by God – Jew or Gentile. God’s love is big enough for everybody.

  31. Sheila says:

    Thank you Rabbi B.! I feel warmer already.

    I am more than inclined to engage in open and honest discussion and to debate the merits of our different faiths and what led each of us to that conclusion if indeed the conversation goes that way. I have no particular agenda that I am on. I hope that you believe I’ve displayed much respect and courtesy for others and I will certainly continue to do so. If I feel I’ve offended anyone in any way, I’m quick with an apology and I’m just as quick to forgive others. I appreciate the freedom you’ve allowed us here and I very much want to understand the Orthodox mindset. “Iron sharpens iron”, they say…whoever “they” are.. I guess we’ll see how far we get as I’m only “stainless steel.” 🙂

    Thanks for inviting me here.

  32. Sheila says:

    Yehuda,

    I did not come here with an agenda to “save” you—but, my heart beats of it’s own accord. If you’re “being saved” is the natural progression of our interaction–then Amen to that! After reconsidering your question seriously and honestly, that’s the best I can do and remain true to myself. I’m not here to force feed anyone and I sincerely want to learn what it is you believe, you know, your world view and such. Is that fair enough? This is not my natural environment but I’d like to stick it out and learn from you. I’m the fish out the water this time.

    You seem to be a pleasant person and I hope we can dialog about the very things it is that you believe.

  33. A little technical request to all
    This blog seems to allow to possible ways of posting a comment – one through the “post comment box” at the bottom of the page and the other by clicking on the word “reply” after any given comment. Please use the former method of posting (via the box at the bottom of the page) rather than the latter. If you use the reply button – your post gets put in between earlier posts and it makes it confusing (at least for me) to try to figure out what came first and what came last.
    Thanks

  34. Sheila says:

    Ok, I did reply from my email box and I see where it got moved up. I’ll just come to this page and reply. Thanks for pointing that out!

  35. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    That is indeed fair enough. I take you at your word. And if you really try to understand what it is we belive I believe you will be greatly enlighted.

  36. Sheila says:

    Blasater–I’m just now seeing your post. I do have a problem with the Noahide laws because I don’t see where they are outlined anywhere in Scripture. So, if I’m going along and reading the Tanach, I don’t see it as stating anywhere what the Gentiles obligations let alone numbering them at seven. Of course I see that all men are to be righteous in so far as not murdering or stealing, no lying, cheating, etc., but I count 10 commandments with the one concerning the Sabbath as mandatory for all mankind. Do you not understand it that way?

    • Blasater says:

      Sheila- The Noahide Laws are derived from Genesis 2:24, (sexual morality) Eating flesh from a living animal is how the rabbis understood “But flesh with its life, which is its blood, you shall not eat” (Genesis 9:4). (Murder): “Furthermore, I will demand your blood, for [the taking of] your lives, I shall demand it [even] from any wild animal. From man too, I will demand of each person’s brother the blood of man. He who spills the blood of man, by man his blood shall be spilt; for in the image of God He made man.” (Genesis 9:5–6) Jacob was accused of theft in Genesis 31(Theft)…etc…some are clear…some are derived.
      http://hearmeusa.com/noahide-laws-in-the-bible/

      BUT! Keep in mind that the Noahide laws were developed enough by year 1CE that even (As I mentioned before) James and the Jerusalem church knew of them and gave a modified version

      James said: Acts 15: Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 21 For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

      Now, my question to you is…will you reject those because they are not clearly articulated in the OT? Or do you accept them because they are in the NT?

    • Larry says:

      Just a note here: you might start with the jewish 10 comandments and compare them with the christian or catholic 10 camandments. granted the catholics had to do something

  37. Sheila says:

    Correction–I don’t mean that the Sabbath is mandatory (as far as being on the seventh day) for any other than the Jewish Nation. I think one day of rest is a wise law for any people. But I see it more as a sign between the Nation that God took out of Egypt and out of slavery.

  38. Sheila says:

    Thank you, Yehuda, I’m looking forward to learning much.

  39. Blasater says:

    Sorry Rabbi B…I used the wrong box to answer!

  40. Blasater says:

    Sheila- Also, it interesting to note that although James gave these laws, Christians today have no prohibition against eating blood. Blood pudding, blood sausage, blood soup, rare steaks…etc. Presumably because of Peters vision but I find it odd.

  41. Sheila says:

    Blasater,

    Yes–definitely the laws given to us are violated. Especially the injunction against eating animals with the blood in them. It grieves me tremendously that we have taken Grace to the extent we have. I see Peter’s vision as saying that the Gentiles would now be brought into Messiah’s fold–not that they could eat whatever they wanted–although, I will say that it also does say that “all things are clean of themselves and that if God declared the Gentiles as clean–they were clean.” But, what does that mean? Does it mean that God made all things and therefore nothing of itself is unclean? When God created–“He saw that it was good”–but, things were not to stay that way. The Gentiles were not sinning against God by eating pork as there was no injunction given to them “not to eat it.” Do you see? How would they have “naturally” known it was unclean? They couldn’t have possibly come to that statute on their own. (That I can see.)

    YOUR QUESTION: Now, my question to you is…will you reject those because they are not clearly articulated in the OT? Or do you accept them because they are in the NT?

    No, I don’t reject those laws at all. I just don’t see where anyone could find them out on their own. (the seven Noahide laws that is) I see the Sabbath as a sign, as was circumcision, for the Nation of Israel only. Grace is not a license to sin, I believe the standard is raised in light of it. Where the Gentiles were never under the law of Moses given at Sinai, we could never have “naturally” come to the same conclusions about a covenant with God as the Jews had. All of the laws are good and they represent God’s perfect standard.

  42. Sheila says:

    I’ve got to duck out until tomorrow guys! I think we’ve laid some positive groundwork to build on; thanks for your responses!

  43. Sheila says:

    Yehuda says–“Your question stems from a purely chrsitian notion of damnation and salvation to which Judaism does not subscribe.”

    If anyone is inclined to elaborate on that, I’d like to hear more in your opinions.

  44. Yehuda says:

    No great mystery.

    Chritinaity belives that every human is born in need of salvation from original sin. Judaism does not.

    Judaism belives that every human is born with a soul in “neutral”, and a capcity for good and evil, with the choice being theirs. The soul, however, is not inherently in need of salvation.

    A person’s life is then a series of choices between doing right and doing wrong and when it is done an evalutaion of that life is conducted which detemines whether a person, on the whole, merits a place in “heaven”. This evaluation is complex and no one can know with certainty where anyone else stands, although some cases , Hitler for example, are easier to assess than others.

  45. Sheila says:

    So, it’s more like God weighs our deeds, whether good or bad (evil perhaps) on a scale and whichever way it tips we’re either “in or out”? So, is it just the “little” sins that are taken into consideration? The ones we haven’t repented of? I’m thinking of king David, who coveted another man’s wife, committed adultery, got her pregnant, then planned her husbands murder. God judged David, not according to the laws of the covenant, whereby he should have been killed according to it, but God took the life of his child instead. How do you, then, reconcile the fact that David was not treated according to the law of Moses?

  46. Sheila says:

    I think Psalm 51 sums it up.

  47. Yehuda says:

    At first I was wondering what your question about David had to do with the issue of slavation I thought we were discussing.

    I should have known. Psalm 51

    I couldn’t agree more about psalm 51. It indeed sums it up.

    But I suspect that you are hyperfocusing on your highly suspect belief that psalm 51:7 proves the doctrine of original sin, while you downplay the repeatedly emphasized and unmistakable message of the efficacy of repentance in expunging sin, as made abundantly and repeatedly clear by virtually every other verse of that Psalm.

    What light do you think Psalm 51 sheds on your question?

  48. Sheila
    I don’t see it so much as a “scale” – God does indeed judge every last deed, word and thought (Ecclesiastes 12:14) – but I understand that each sin is in and of itself a distancing from God (Isaiah 59:2) while each positive action is in and of itself incorporating God’s holiness into our lives – every act of obedience towards God is like eating from the tree of life. But it is only God that can know where we truly stand in the grand scheme of things – because it is only God who knows man’s heart.
    Repentance is a gift from God that we as human beings cannot understand (Isaiah 55:8) As humans we tend to understand repentance as if it says the sin is not so bad or we turn to the thought that repentance doesn’t really work. The truth is that the sin is the greatest tragedy and repentance still works because God is God and we trust His word.
    The Christian concept where everyone starts out being damned to eternal condemnation – is not accepted by Judaism because the Scriptures teach nothing of the sort. The Christian concept that good deeds on the part of man can do nothing to move a person closer to God’s favor is probably the most anti-Scriptural teaching that can be imagined (aside from idolatry). It is not a matter of “earning” God’s favor. No man can give to God what God hasn’t already given man (Job 35:7 1Chronicles 29:14) – it is a matter of God in His mercy rewarding those who reach out to Him – and every act of obedience to God is an act of reaching out towards Him

  49. Blasater says:

    Sheila- You inquired: …”The ones we haven’t repented of? I’m thinking of king David, who coveted another man’s wife, committed adultery, got her pregnant, then planned her husbands murder.”:

    David did repent and was forgiven on the spot. Although there was a price to be paid…regarding the child. 2 Sam 12:13 …… Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.

    Notice however: David (nor anyone else in Tanakh) is NOT shown….gathering up an animal and taking it to the temple for a sacrifice.

  50. Annelise says:

    Hi all, this is an interesting conversation, and I’ve looked through most of it. I have a question about what has been mentioned a few times regarding the way Jews don’t try and get Christians to convert to Judaism, because of the provision in the Noahide laws for those outside the covenant. If your understanding is correct, though, Christians simply can’t be righteous because of the prohibition of idolatry.

    If Jesus is the Messiah; if he is the way to life, being is truth and life itself; and if he is God as Christianity has understood, it is really important to know God in this way. But if the opposite were true, then no matter how good our intentions or how much we believed we were worshiping only God, we would need Jews to tell us that there is no option to consider God in this way. Of course you can’t try to persuade people to join the Jewish nation unless God draws them to that, but that identity is different from the acknowledgement of God that he asks of all people. Idolatry is a deep violation of covenant, but also of our relationship with God as our creator; the truth about God has all its value only in humble relationship with him. So I find it difficult when it’s suggested that Christians can also be pleasing to God in our own way without fully acknowledging Rabbinic Judaism, if that tradition is actually the truth of what God has revealed throughout history.

    • naaria says:

      It is not really “rabbinic Jews” or “Jews” which are saying what idolatry is and who God is, it is Scripture. The scripture “your” scripture should be based on and foundational beliefs this “added-on scripture” can not contradict. There are 100’s of millions of Muslims (although their beliefs aren’t idolatrous) who also have scriptures they say are Abrahamic based. They have a very deep relationship with their god as Christians do. A faith many Muslim converts say they were lead by God to. Doesn’t make them right about God. How many Mormons are there? They are just latter day saints led by the spirit of God. A God revealed by a prophet of God and by plates discovered with holy scriptures written on them. We are just too “stubborn” to be led by the “true” god.

      All this confusion and division by believers of God, “lead by the ‘spirit'”. That is one reason why the Jewish prophets said a messiah would need to come. That is why they said many, MANY people, many “kings” and many nations, would begin to see the error of the religious “teachings of their fathers”. The rabbis, as priests of a Holy nation, are just repeating the words of the Prophets.

      • naaria says:

        Don’t confuse “the way” with the Destination. Your “messenger” is not the messenger sender. A “son” is separate from a father (OUR Father) and would not exist without the Father. God doesn’t even need to be a “father” (and a divine son is a sign of poly-theism or paganism). By God’s definition, idolatry is worshipping any representation of God or anything created (including a man or angel) by God. A being (a man or an object like a totem pole or a gold bull calf) although “filled with a ‘holy’ spirit” (manifested in an object or “in the flesh”) is not God. A “way” to God is not God.

  51. Annelise says:

    Hi Naaria, thanks for that comment. What I was trying to engage with was not the question of whether belief in Jesus is, as Jews believe, idolatrous… but rather, why people would say that Christians are still able to be in a relationship with God, if that were the case. I’m just trying to understand.

    Also, a different thought, in response to yours… I wonder if monotheistic theologies can still be idolatrous? Worshiping a part of creation as God is very much a denial of all he has given and is worthy of, but there’s a similar principle lying beneath any choice to worship away from the way God has revealed himself. It is possible to understand God, even when he is seen as transcendent and as being one, in ways that are against his nature and all his promises. Also, if someone does (knowingly) deny the way God showed himself to Israel, that becomes a choice to worship our own selves, our ‘freedom’ to worship however we want, and a cultural aesthetic, above God’s own goodness. Even within an accurate understanding of God’s nature and covenants, to choose less important desires above God’s ways would still be an idolatry of pleasure or comfort.

    None of this takes away from how destructive it would be to worship a person who is not actually God. I don’t want to distract from that, but I think that the understanding of idolatry is a lot broader, in a similar way. Only God knows each person’s heart, and each person he has made is in a relationship of some kind with him, but he has revealed himself in a way we can reach. There is no other. He wants us to know and love him through this, which includes a recognition that there is only one who made the world and is greater than it.

  52. Sheila says:

    Annelise,

    I’ll give my understanding in a short answer. You would have to renounce the belief that Jesus is also one with God, and even as unitarians assert, that Jesus was only a man–albeit the Promised Messiah as Orthodox Jews would never consider Him in either role. So, the short answer, from my understanding of it, would be that you would absolutely have to deny Jesus as Messiah in any form whatsoever.

    Is that how the rest of you understand it?

    I’m knee deep in previous engagements this weekend, but I hope to be able to elaborate on previous posts and responses the first of the week.

  53. Annelise says:

    Thanks Sheila! Why are you saying a person would have to do those things? I’m just not sure which part of my question you were answering, sorry 🙂 Just to clarify, I was asking it as a Christian, and not to debate any topic, but just to understand the line of thinking behind how a Christian can be considered a righteous Gentile.

    I think I agree that if Jesus were only a man, and if most Christians through history worshiped someone other than God, his prophecy that “repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” was mistaken. If disciples like Peter really did believe he was merely a human, they honoured him as the Lord of creation and the focus of their faith; this would not have been right. I don’t think it makes sense to believe that Jesus was a merely human Messiah, even with the belief that he is returning to complete the prophecies of restoration.

    Sorry for taking this thread off track a bit, I didn’t mean to. I would still love to hear thoughts on that first question.

    • naaria says:

      You know I am not a Jew, because today is the Sabbath. 1st we don’t really know what Peter or James may have believed because even the early Church fathers (ECF’s) in the mid to late 1st century c.e. did not have original texts (especially not ones written in stone) nor did they even know who wrote the texts they had. Some ECF’s accused other ECF’s of writing the texts but then claiming those texts were written by “disciples of Jesus” or apostles. For instance, Tertullian (or his relative) was accused of writing the gospel of John in about 150 c.e. We do know the NT writings changed over time because we not only have the word of the ECF’s, but we have physical relicts and fragments or complete copies of those texts and other non-canonical Christian writings. We know some followers of Jesus thought Jesus was only a man and also not God. Some thought he became divine only after a resurrection; others said only on his death; others said it happened on the “Transfiguration” (I.e, the “big change” or changeover from man to god); other believers/followers of Jesus said it happened when he was baptized; others, when he was born; and others, “before the foundation of the world” (which means Jesus was made and was not eternal). Other followers of Jesus/Yeshua believed he was NEVER flesh, never a man, only a spirit, only like a “hologram”. Never born, never suffered, never died. As you can see in your modern NT, those were beliefs of Christians that the Christian letter writers didn’t agree with.

      God is Just and God is merciful. God can easily forgive and can say “Yes, ignorance is an excuse”. God can accept you as you are; with all your faults and with all your disobedience. As you said, God knows your heart. God did not kill Eve or Adam, but clothed them and still loved them. With God, Eve and Adam had children. They still had a good relationship with God. Cain was not killed and he was given protection from harm from the people outside his family/tribe. There was still a relationship to & from God. Relationship is a mean a state; not a certain quantity or quality. Just think of all the different type of relationships between humans and other humans that they admire or care for or love. Some of those types of good relationships are a type of relationship that God might have with people. After all we are ALL children of God; all created in the “image”/likeness of God; created with the possibility to be like God. God commanded us (not just Israel or the Jews) to be Holy, just as God is Holy. A whole Nation of Priests. He did not speak to sinless folks or perfect, infallible individuals. Even the NT gave you a parable about OUR father. The rebellious, wayward son (who might have gotten rich and famous in the big city, if he had also not been a fool. Remember, Cain built a “great city”). He failed miserably, but he was never condemned, never strongly coaxed nor forced to change and come back to the old, the original, relationship. He did not intend to repent, he was not going to beg, he did not even want to be recognized, he wanted to remain “dead” (in this world, but not in God’s heart). But he turned & took steps in the direction of his human father. And he was forgiven & celebrated in this world by his human father & his Father. Even Nineveh was saved by a man who was not God.

  54. Sheila says:

    Annelise–“Why are you saying a person would have to do those things? I’m just not sure which part of my question you were answering,”

    I was answering about the topic of idolatry. In order for a gentile, of any nation, to be considered righteous, belief in the Shema is central. It is pronounced like “Schmah” (one sylable) as opposed to “Shee-ma”, which states that the LORD is one LORD. To introduce anything other as part of a God-Head, or a Son of man who is to be worshipped is considered idolatry; and idolators, as far as I understand it, have no part in the world to come. (if I’m wrong I look for someone to correct me) So, Jesus as part of a triune God-head is unacceptable and Jesus as a man (whether Messiah or not) who receives worship is just as unacceptable. So, the basis of the Messianic’s/Christian’s Faith is that God alone saves and that Messiah is One with the Father. That is considered idolatry.

    “I was asking it as a Christian, and not to debate any topic, but just to understand the line of thinking behind how a Christian can be considered a righteous Gentile.”

    Sure, I don’t see your questions as a debate, but I suppose the topic could lead to one. Debate may have, for some, a negative connotation, but it is good as a tool for communicating as long as it is approached with mutual respect and civility. When others have opposing view points, the mutual interaction is in each side giving the merits and foundations of their belief. That leads to debate as a positive interaction. Rabbi Blumenthal has welcomed all who would lke to participate and he has given freedom to take the conversation where ever it leads, with no personal attacks on others of course. Don’t worry about going “off track”, there wasn’t really any particular track we were pursuing as yet, other than the questions I asked at the first.

    I’m here learning myself and am seeking to better understand the things that I’ve never been exposed to either and I have many questions as well. I’ve not interacted with the Orthodox outside of discussions with Rabbi Blumenthal and a few others who have commented here.

    I will pursue some of the discussions and responses of others as I check in the beginning of the week. I just thought I’d welcome you with a response to your concerns of joining in! I’m sure others feel the same.

  55. Yehuda says:

    Hi Sheila,

    I going to prefice my comments by making clear that I am a Jewish laymen not a Rabbi and so my opinions must be taken in that context.

    On one point I categorically disagree with you. On another point, you are raising a good question, however it is one that is not easily answered.

    If a “christian” were to renounce any and all form of belief in the divinity of Jesus and worshipped the one indivisable creator of the universe, but retained a belief that Jesus in some way shape or form played – as a human – a messianic role, such a “christian” would absolutely NOT be in violation of any cardinal rules that would prevent him or her from being considered a righteous gentile. He/she would be making a theological mistake, but not every theological mistake cuts you off from God (This, again, is a concept that I realize christians have difficulty grappling with.)

    Now as for chrsitians who belive in the divinity of Jesus, the dillema is more problematic. As has been made abundantly clear, Judaism considers belief in the divinity of Jesus idolatrous. And idolatry IS one of the noahide laws to which a “righteous gentile” is expected to adhere.

    However, this is again, where a concept I mentioned ealier comes into play. It is extremely difficulty for any human to know everything about the heart of another human. There are 7 noahide requirements. Idoaltry is one – and a BIG one, no doubt about it. But as I mentioned earlier a person’s standing with God is a complex equation that no human is qualfied to asseess. While I can say in a theoretical sense that trinatarian christianity is incompatable with prohibition of idolatry, I cannot point at any particular trinitarian christian and say “You ! are cut off from God” because I don’t know anything about: 1) their background, 2) their upbringing 3) their personal frailties and weaknesses 4) their motivations, 5) their current circumstances, 6) the relative merit of their other qualities versus their shortcommings, etc, etc. etc.

    All of these things factor into how God views a person and I am not to judge.

    So if you want to know in candor how a Jew looks at someone like you? I would say tha you would certainly be in better standing with God if you did not believe in the divinity of Jesus. However even given that you are not about to do that, I cannot claim that you are damned. For me to claim to know whether other people are damned would, I think , be an extremely arrogant and prideful claim. And I know you don’t care much for teh vice of pride.

    Be well.

  56. Annelise says:

    Hi Naaria, thanks for that response. Your thought about God being one who is merciful, who easily forgives, is interesting to me. I think Christians look at the same passages and verses about God being quick to forgive those who turn their hearts to him, loving our obedient repentance more than sacrifice, and see them to be at the heart of what Jesus achieved in both past and future. Judaism seems to look at the same, considering the payment for sin that he took upon himself unnecessary. One of my Christian friends told me the other day that because of God’s justice, sin had to be dealt with when he offered Israel, and humanity, his mercy; that it was dealt with once for all, when he gave his own life to give us life. Paul speaks about the way we have died to sin and the law by joining in Jesus’ death and resurrection; how sin was condemned in this death, so that it will be known and felt that sin leads to grief and a huge cost, although no longer to us.

    Your illustration of Cain draws the question out well. The sin he allowed to overcome him caused incredible pain to his family, to Abel, to God, to himself, and to his descendents, in different ways. This natural consequence of sin leading to suffering seems to be part of God’s mercy as well, since he sent Adam and Eve away from the tree of life when their relationship with him was broken in that way; only when sin is felt to be evil are we able to avoid it and learn to hate what it does between us and God. You said that Cain “was never condemned, never strongly coaxed nor forced to change and come back to the old, the original, relationship,” but what if God wants a relationship with us that is much closer than that? In such a close relationship, is there then a cost to God himself in our sin, like what Hosea felt in allowing his wife to come home? While a father and a husband are such good images of who God is in his forgiveness, he is also God our creator and Lord. The New Testament talks of how if we have sinned, we become slaves to sin, and that this was the greatest redemption that anyone needed to begin with. So what do you think; is God’s justice such that sin must be condemned with a punishment, or is it directed more towards those who oppress others and refuse to acknowledge God?

    Sheila, thanks for the welcome 🙂 I haven’t been posting on Michael Brown’s site, but I have seen some of the comments there from before about a week ago. I also really appreciate discussion, because the scriptures are really important, and we are able to bring different perspectives and strengths of understanding to them together.

    Yehuda, thank you very much; that’s the sort of thing I was looking to understand, and it opens out my perspective on what is being said. I definitely agree with you that not every theological mistake cuts you off from God(!), even though truth brings life and freedom. When you say “All of these things factor into how God views a person and I am not to judge,” I feel similarly. While understanding that Jesus is the only way to the Father (even before his life and for those who haven’t heard of him, like in Romans 1), how can I know what others have understood him to be until this point, where their hearts have been towards God, or what he is doing in their lives? I don’t try to peer too much into other people’s stories, but I value what it means to be part of each other’s knowledge of God, seeking him and understanding his blessing in that.

  57. naaria says:

    Annelise (14 Jan, 8:05): When I wrote “He was never condemned, never strongly coaxed nor forced to change and come back”…, etc, I was referring to how Jesus explained the father’s (and God’s) relationship with the wayward son. No one had to die, especially not the father.  But that parable doesn’t give us all alternatives, bad or good, between a person and their loved one or between a person and God.  The son could have matured and had a family, maybe he could have gotten a good job and prospered and when he remembered how good his father was to him and the loving relationship they once had, he might have gone back home and renewed that relationship.  We are not just motivated by suffering because of our own sin has gotten way out of control. We can act like children of God.  Not because of the fear of going to a burning hell for eternity, which is the “salvation” message preached at many or probably most churches, including the evangelical, “prosperity” and “getting back to our “Hebraic” roots”, large independent or mega-churches that I am familiar with. 

    And we make God small (no greater than a man) by believing God could die or a representative of God had to “play-act” dead and “pay some price”.  God has to pay a “price”? Why? To whom or what? Is such a god powerless, especially to man’s sin? Can such a god have true “victory over death” when it was achieved only through his own death? Is an evil-god (satan or “devil”) really running the “show”?  Well, the gospels tell us in the story of the temptation of Jesus, that the world was delivered to Satan or the “devil” to do whatever it/he wished with it, including giving it over to Jesus.  So God gave “the devil” all power over God’s “own Children”?  Or did the “devil” wrested it away from such a small, pagan modeled god?  No, the gospel says “delivered” to him. Maybe because “God so loved the world”?  So much so that eternal God had to live as a man, so that he could die as a man, so that God could pay satan’s price (“payment for sin”) and God could get his world back again?  So now the world was delivered to Jesus by the “devil”?  Or did Jesus sell his “soul” to satan? Is that why the NT calls Jesus “the morning star” (like Nebuchanezzar?) or “lucifer”?  Well, it does appear sin is still around.  So we have to wait for the messiah to come again someday soon and better luck this time?  We “died to sin and the law”?  That was one mere man that said that right?  Isn’t “law” just another word for God’s teachings or Torah, God’s Word,  God’s commandments?  The “law” that God will “write on our “hearts” when the messianic age begins is equal to sin and is “dead” because one man said so? 

    I don’t want to sound mean.  Most people who know me say that I am one of the nicest, most humble guys around (I can write that I am humble, but I will never say I am aloud).  I just don’t understand a lot of things that my fellow Christians say.  I thought I did decades ago, but they confuse me more and more each day.  I can’t handle contradictions or absurdities all that well.  But I see light now, finally.  I see Judaism as a “religion of reason” (which is the title of a recent book by a Rabbi).  People, the Universe, & God seem to all work according to these basic Biblical (OT or Tanach) principles.  The NT, especially the Pauline letters, remind me so often of Zoroastrianism, gnosticism, and pagan philosophies. And those don’t work for me anymore.  I see how and “where Judaism differs” (title of an out of print book by another Rabbi) in so many different fundamental ways. 

    I see confusion and division is very prominent in Christianity, from it’s very beginning (as seen in the NT itself).  So, understandingly I am confused (beside the concept of a triune “godhead” which no preacher, no scholar has yet been able to explain).  For instance, what is meant by “sin was condemned in this death”?  Was sin ok before Jesus died?  And how did it get “condemned”?  And people didn’t know or feel before Jesus died “that sin leads to grief and a huge cost”? And they ONLY can know that if they see a similarity in Jesus’ “suffering” and their own (if we suffer or grieve)?  And “sin leading to grief” occurs to unbelievers, “although no longer to us”? Have you seen some of the “altar calls” in many churches?  Some preach that Christians are MORE prone to “attack by the devil because he waits our praise” and wants to destroy our faith or us.  “Jesus bore the cross so we don’t have to”?  No, because the NT also says we each must bear our own cross.  We must emulate Jesus. “Once for all”?  No,   not once. And not for all, we are told and we read, unless we believe.  And some say you must say some “magic words” or you don’t really believe. Christians condemning other Christians, but which ones are the “pawns of satan”?  Well, probably anyone who does not use the King James exclusively, because all other bibles are “satan’s bibles”.  Yes, satan even writes holy scripture to mislead Christians.  The NT even admits that it is better that someone never even hear about Jesus.  Even many who call upon Jesus or preach and heal in Jesus’s “name” will not be “known by Jesus”.  The path is narrow and difficult, not broad and easy as we were/are led to believe. God now needs a middle-man, a way or narrow path?  You mean I can’t even pray to God directly anymore unless I end the prayer in Jesus’ name?  God is powerless unless Jesus stamps “approved” on your prayer?  I thought it was Jesus who could do nothing on his own unless God allowed/willed it?  Now I find out differently?  Jesus is the only way to “the” Father?  Me, I choose God directly, unencumbered by Roman-Greek ideas , or philosophy/theology, about God.  No representation, no man, no “son” was meant to come between me and God.  That way existed long before Jesus and unless God somehow died, that original way is still valid.  And if God died, God was never God.  

  58. Annelise says:

    There are a lot of questions there, I’ll just comment on a few of them. In terms of God ‘needing’ to pay a price, I think it’s more that he has chosen to desire our love. In having that desire, and in the fact that he’s given us free choice, our sin grieves him. If his love is real, not apathetic, and our choice is real, then there must be in some way at least a cost to him in forgiveness.

    As to sin being condemned and known to be destructive, I think the idea is that of course it always was, but unless we feel the consequences we can’t know or seek healing from the spiritual situation we are in. So much pain is felt in the world as a result of this, even while God’s mercy is leading us to repentance. In order to condemn sin and yet still restore humanity and open the resurrection to us, God chose to bear those consequences himself and show us that we can have life in his own righteousness.

    With the illustration of the son, you seem to be saying that the son could choose to come home and have that close relationship, even despite hurting his father. Why do you think Adam and Eve didn’t have this choice, when God chose to take them out of Eden?

  59. Sheila says:

    To Yehuda–
    “retained a belief that Jesus in some way shape or form played – as a human – a messianic role, such a “christian” would absolutely NOT be in violation of any cardinal rules that would prevent him or her from being considered a righteous gentile.”

    As unitarians believe, Jesus was only a man, albeit a highly exalted man, they nevertheless say that He is to be “worshipped” as Messiah. Is that not idolatry on a much highler level? To worship “a man” who is “not” God? I say Jesus always was and always will be one with God. He is our Lord, and as the Son who was sent “from eternity”, the Son who gave up His dwelling place to tabernacle among us for the purpose of reconciling us to the Father. He will be King of kings and Lord of lords and “all” will bow to Him and worship Him, as all the prophets attest to. I believe He is “the LORD our Righteousness” and apart from Him we will not be clothed with the righteousness we lost when our first parents (of both Jew and Gentile) sinned against God in the Garden of Eden and were cast out of His presense because of it. “One ‘little’ sin” separated us from God” yet you tell me that we can merit standing before a wholely righteous and just and pure God and He will welcome us back to dwell in His presense by our doing “good enough” or, at least the best we can.

    I say we need that intermediary between Heaven and earth, just as Moses functioned as, and just as the high priest functioned as and just as the Son functioned as. The price our first parents paid for sin was death and we (none of us) can escape that fact–in Adam we all die. In Jesus we are all given life.

    We worship the Son, as one with the Father, that is not idolatrous if, (as I believe) it is true. But, in your mind that is certainly “not” true and therefore you do not accept that I am worshipping the very same God of the Jews.

    • Brian says:

      Sheila,
      Deut. 4:15-19 explicitly explains how “NOT” to view G-D.
      It clearly states that we are not to view him in the form of any man, woman, animal, star, sun, earth, fish, water anything created period; that would exclude jesus.

  60. Sheila
    It is not a question of “doing good enough” – it is a question of trusting in God’s goodness and in His word – and living your life with that trust.

  61. Sheila says:

    Yehuda–“What light do you think Psalm 51 sheds on your question?” “But I suspect that you are hyperfocusing on your highly suspect belief that psalm 51:7 proves the doctrine of original sin, while you downplay the repeatedly emphasized and unmistakable message of the efficacy of repentance in expunging sin, as made abundantly and repeatedly clear by virtually every other verse of that Psalm.”
     
    No, I really was focused on the repentance of David. God wants us to humble ourselves before Him and confess our sins as David falls down and pours out his heart to God in true repentance, the key being he says, “I have sinned against You!” I believe that’s what all of our sins are–they are sins against God. David’s Psalms are, for the most part, looking forward to the “one” who will save Israel. I don’t think David had in mind being saved only from his earthly enemies. He had in mind being eternally saved. (Psa. 118)
    As far a “proof text” for original sin I don’t look at that verse as the definitive proof and it really wasn’t what I was focused on. It’s written in other places as well with the first being the story of Eve, with Adam partaking together with “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.” I always wondered why Adam was inclined to yield to Eve. Perhaps it had to do with his devotion to her and the affinity he had for the one created from his own body, she was more than just his soul mate–you might say the original one at that–the two were the first “one” created. (Gen 2:23-24.) Eve was first tempted and then Adam partook of it also. Did he willingly partake for that reason–I don’t know, just something I’ve always contemplated–probably reading to much into it. Scripture doesn’t elaborate on it any more than that they both disobeyed by eating of the fruit of the tree that brought death.

  62. Sheila says:

    Rabbi B.,

    If we can say in our hearts that we trust in God to finish the salvation that He started in promising the “seed of the woman” that would crush the head of our “spiritual” enemy, it sounds to me like we need a “spiritual” remedy to bring that about. I believe it sorely grieved our Creator to banish us from His presense and His ultimate plan was already in place before we ever utilized our free will. I do trust in our Creator and I trust in His word–from the beginning of creation.

  63. Sheila says:

    Blasater–
    “Hashem wrote the ten commandments in stone, yet the man from Nazareth couldnt even have a scribe write things down…or do it himself…he is “God” after all.”

    Then God who wrote the ten commandments has a finger?
    And He shut the door for Noah and his family?
    Is He the same God who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve?
    Is He the same God who had lunch with Abraham?

    If God has a voice, which He used at Sinai, wouldn’t that mean that He also had a voice box and a mouth to speak?

  64. Yehuda says:

    Sheila:

    1) ” As unitarians believe, Jesus was only a man, albeit a highly exalted man, they nevertheless say that He is to be “worshipped” as Messiah. ”

    I’m not really ionterested in debating you about what unitarians do or don’t believe or about the meaning of the words “worship”, or “Messiah”. Yes. If one “worships” Jesus in any sense of the word that we word that we would normally atrribute to divine worship, it is indeed idolatrous. That however, has nothing to do with the statement I made. I’ll repeat it. As long as one keeps Jesus squarely out of the realm of the divine and outside of the realm deserving of religouis worship, then you can think whatever else you want to about him, and still be a righteous gentile. Your confusion stemmed from my use of “Messiah” which you definitionally consider to be a divine role, which it is of course not. And I’ll again repeat, that even if someone does harbor the beliefs I consider idolatrous, I cannot determine if they are damned. If you want to debate this point, debate what I said, not what you would like to infer that I said.

    2) “I say we need that intermediary between Heaven and earth, ”

    The Tanakh says otherwise: Psalm 145:18, Deut: 30:12

    3) “No, I really was focused on the repentance of David. God wants us to humble ourselves before Him and confess our sins as David falls down and pours out his heart to God in true repentance, the key being he says, “I have sinned against You!” I believe that’s what all of our sins are–they are sins against God.”

    Absolutely. And as you point out, true repentance is the key

    ” David’s Psalms are, for the most part, looking forward to the “one” who will save Israel. ”

    Tell me again how you see that a psalm articulating David’s heart-rending prayer of repentence to the one God of Israel as looking forward to a “one” who will save Israel.

    Sheila, you’ll have to forgive me, but I perfer to stick to one them at a time. Shall we?

    You started asking how a chrsitian might be a righteous Gentile. I gave you an answer . Do you have a reaction or not?

    You asked about David’s repentance. Interestingly enough you acknowledge that his heartfelt repentence seems to have been effective. Is there a point to be made here or not?

    You’ve touched on original sin and, acknoweldged thav Psalm 51:7 doesn’t get you there and then offered some of what you admit are your own speculations about the story of Adam and Eve.
    Is there some kind of proof in the offing here?

    You said “you belive” we “need” an intermediary. You are entitled to that belief, but it is unsupported by the Tanakh. I disagree. There are many verses to this effect Psalm 145:18 being only one. That leaders (such as Moses) can pray on behalf of the Jewish people and achieve effects as a result does not prove the NECESSITY of an intermediary. The priests serve a specified role in the context of Temple service. Yes. In the temple, they are required functionaries, outside the temple, they are not.

  65. Sheila says:

    Yehuda,

    You ask that we stick to one, so which one do you want an answer to?

    Yehuda–“I’m not really ionterested in debating you about what unitarians do or don’t believe or about the meaning of the words “worship”, or “Messiah”.”

    I can assure you that I am not the least bit interested in it either. My point was that it is idolatry.

    “If you want to debate this point, debate what I said, not what you would like to infer that I said.”

    I thought I answered to your elaboration that a righteous gentile would have to renounce belief in the divinity of Messiah? Maybe I did infer to much.

    “The Tanakh says otherwise: Psalm 145:18, Deut: 30:12”

    The Tanch says–“The just shall live by faith.”

    “Tell me again how you see that a psalm articulating David’s heart-rending prayer of repentence to the one God of Israel as looking forward to a “one” who will save Israel.”

    If you read it carefully you’ll see that I prefaced my statement in this way: “the ‘Psalms’ are, for the most part,..” I was not focusing on that particular Psalm, but in the plural of the substance of many of them.

    “You said “you belive” we “need” an intermediary. You are entitled to that belief, but it is unsupported by the Tanakh. I disagree.”

    The support is in the entire system that was given at Sinai. If we don’t need the laws of Moses to work out our relationship with God then why were they given at all? The laws themselves, in keeping them, act as an “intermediate intercessor.” I don’t understand you on that point.

    I will try my best to keep my personal “musings” out of the discussion. I think artists and poets and the like are much more prone to such. 🙂 Sometimes they slip in.

    • Brian says:

      Sheila,
      The word translated LAW in christian bibles is “Torah” It isn’t an intercessor, it is more like a “target” or path rather; the word translated sin is חטאת and its more direct meaning is more like missing the mark, or straying from the path; the word sin is the Akkadian god Su’en represented by the cresent moon 2100 BCE.
      Deut. 30:12 Is only one of many references in the Tanakh that clearly states that G-D will not send a mediator between him and man; faith is keeping his laws “directions”, not having faith is straying from the path, and following after other gods.
      See Joshua 23:6-8 The nation of Israel would not have known G-D to be identified as jesus neither at that time or some time in the future; Deut. 11:26-28 read this passage with the mindset of an Israelite being told that at that time; If that person were to travel in time to the current era they would vehemently refuse to accept jesus as their G-D.
      King David was a messiah { anointed prince } he did not demand worship of himself by his people, rather he directed it all to G-D. It isn’t a Jewish concept that a Messiah will come to save Jews “or mankind” from sin; It is a Jewish concept that G-D will reveal a MAN who will restore universal knowledge of G-D and world wide peace, not worship of himself, or the acceptance of his death and resurrection and recognition and guilt of indebtness for vindication of any act of lawless behavior, by looking to him as a graven image hanging on a cross for your salvation, or any other of the depictions you have seen of him; this is certainly Idolatry according to G-D.
      As far as as your question is it Idolatry to christians? I believe once you understand exactly what Idolarty means and is, the answer is “YES”!
      The Tanakh states in that day someone from every nation will take the hand of Jew and say “teach me” for I have heard that G-D is with you; the Jewish people have been entrusted with his word to be a light onto all of the nations, and that would include you!
      I hope what I have written here helps all who have posted here.

  66. Sheila says:

    If I don’t respond to some right away it’s not because I am ignoring you, it’s only that I don’t want to respond from what would be, initially, a purely emotional level. And I type slower than most.

  67. Sheila says:

    Yehuda,

    Another thing that David’s repentance and forgiveness answers to is that the revelation of God is not a static one. I see it like this. You move from the foot of Sinai and take possession of the promised land and you move from the letter of the law and take possession of a personal relationship with God.

  68. Sheila
    here are some thoughts on the episode in the garden of Eden – https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/trust-grattitudeand-the-joy-of-obedience/
    In any case – did you notice that the Author of Scripture did NOT describe the crushing of the serpent – as the crushing of our spiritual enemy – that is YOUR reading into the text. Try trusting in God – try looking for those texts where God EXPLICITLY tells you – here’s how to get out of the trap of sin – here’s how to achieve forgiveness.

  69. naaria says:

    Annelise (Jan 15). You write, “at least a cost to him in forgiveness.”  We are talking about limitless God right, not limited man?  It “cost” God to create humans, it “costs” God to keep us alive, it “costs” God if we sin, it “costs” God if God forgives us, it “costs” God to grieve, it “costs” God to answer prayer if we don’t sin or did sin.  All those costs are borne by Infinite God, with supposedly unlimited resources which includes us.  How does a “costly” dying (which is small to God, since God doesn’t die  and God lived during and through that “death”) like a man, somehow eliminate some of those “costs”.  Got ALL of us “off the hook”. But Grace was there before.  Maybe do a cost-benefit analysis?  All things that have a benefit (to humans) have some cost (but not all costs have benefits to us.  There may be some true waste).  If we see God in this sort of trading, in a human to human type cost-benefit relationship, we might wind up saying that what costs people really benefits God and at the same time it benefits other people in a systematically good way. 

    On “Adam and Eve didn’t have this choice”, but what did God do?  God  clothed them, protected them, assisted them to have children, still had a loving relationship to them.  Adam had work to do before Eve and Eve was a help mate, along with God.  They were like young children still needing their parents.  They had an innocence, but they now had to grow up. We miss our own idealistic childhood, right, & want to go back to those “good old days” (psychologically some say we want to go back to the womb).  God knew they were ready to be more independent and to begin to act as true partners with God’s enterprise on earth. God said be fruitful and multiply (although God might greatly grieve at times, God knew the consequences then & there.  It didn’t suddenly dawn on God 3000 some years later that God needed to implement a new plan).  Why was the glorious life sustaining manna, the cloud and fire taken away from the Israelites?  I guess they were about to enter the “land of milk & honey” almost like a Garden?  God seen they were ready for something new, although there would be great costs & consequences in the Promised Land

  70. Sheila
    the Law was never – just the “letter” – it was given originally with the “spirit”

  71. Sheila says:

    Rabbi B.,

    Your statement is something new to me then. My belief is that our common enemy is one that we can’t see but that the satan’s lying spirit can and does “lie in wait at the door” for us. We can’t see him but when we are tempted we know he is there.

    • Brian says:

      Sheila,
      Satan merely means adversary.
      See 1 Chronicles 21:1 and 2 Samuel 24:1
      A Satan can be anyone, or even HaSatan specifically under G-D and his control in order to turn you toward himself, or return you to the path he has set before you “Torah”
      Also see Isaiah 45:5-8

  72. Sheila says:

    Rabbi B.,

    I’ll be taking time now to read the article your suggested.

  73. Annelise says:

    Hi Naaria, that’s an interesting thought. Some things about God we can’t peer into, only know as he has shown us. One thing I like about the way you describe this, though, is how immense his love for us must be, and what a gift it is to us in the first place. It’s amazing, and encouraging.

    I won’t be around for about a week, and possibly won’t rejoin the conversation here after so much time, but I will look in. Thanks for all your thoughts and responses.

  74. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    My previous post mentioned my preference for trying to close an issue before meandering to others. Your last post to me shows how this keeps happening:

    Example 1:

    You said: ““I say we need that intermediary between Heaven and earth, ”
    I said: “The Tanakh says otherwise: Psalm 145:18, Deut: 30:12”

    With me so far? The topic is whether or not an intermediary is necessary.

    Your response: “The Tanch says–”The just shall live by faith.”

    Huh? Oh I see. This can only mean that those reckoned as just will be reckoned so by virtue of faith which can only mean faith in Jesus as an intermediary…I get it.

    Example 2:

    I said: “You said “you belive” we “need” an intermediary. You are entitled to that belief, but it is unsupported by the Tanakh. I disagree.”

    You said: “The support is in the entire system that was given at Sinai. If we don’t need the laws of Moses to work out our relationship with God then why were they given at all? The laws themselves, in keeping them, act as an “intermediate intercessor.” I don’t understand you on that point. ”

    So let me get this straight. Your PROOF of the need for a divine messiah to be worshipped as an intermediary rather than direct worship of God, and the effective nullification of God’s, is the fact the Jews were enjoyed at Sinai to worship God directly in the form of obedience to his law.

    Sheila, I want to reiterate my absolute conviction that you are a good-hearted person .

    You started your participation here insisting that you want to understand what we believe. Please reread that last argument of yours and my subsequent paraphrasing of it and ask yourself in the depth of your heart if you can see for just a miliseciond why we might not see this the way you do even without being spiritually blinded.

    Lastly, just as you advised above that you may not respond promptly to everything, I’m letting you know that I’m not sure I have the time or patience follow these kinds of meandering ruminations around.

    But I do want to reiterate I point I made earlier.

    Your biblical ruminations may indeed be very meaningful to you. But they are yours, not the Tanakh’s. And and even if they make sense to you, they do not begin to approach the standard of Tanakh-based truth, evidence, and consistency that the Jew was sworn to uphold at Sinai

    Be Well.

  75. Yehuda says:

    Correction

    This paragraph shjould have read:

    So let me get this straight. Your PROOF of the need for a divine messiah to be worshipped as an intermediary rather than direct worship of God, and the effective nullification of God’s law, is the fact the Jews were enjoyed at Sinai to worship God directly in the form of obedience to his law.

  76. Sheila says:

    Yehuda,

    Do you see how many times it is you who have inferred and invoked Jesus just in the few posts we’ve exchanged so far? So, you will make broad assumptions and put words in my mouth that I never spoke, and throw up your hands and say you’re done with this? I submit that it is you who are reading Jesus into everything I say. It’s not reasonable for you to say, “Well even though you clearly said so and so–what you really meant to say is…”

    The rules seem to be that you have every right to defend your position and I have none. Even though, in truth, I’ve not even brought my position to bear yet.

    I’m sorry you don’t care to converse any longer. We never even got to the meat and potatoes.

  77. Sheila says:

    To all in general,

    I think a good many of you are thinking that as a Christian I don’t see God as you do. That is not true at all. I see God as my Father, my provider, my help, my shield, and the keeper of my soul. I see Him as enabling each of us to walk with Him and to know Him on a personal level. I believe the God of the First Testament and all that He says. I can say I love Him as a Father and that he loves me as a daughter. And that’s where I stand. I stand in the love of God just as you do.

    Thanks.

    • Brian says:

      Sheila,
      You keep reiterating that you have not interjected the name “jesus” in dialogue, however unless somehow christianity has ejected jesus from their definition of Greek theology, you have in fact vehemently declared the fact that you are christian, so unless your suppositions differ from that of mainstream christianity, hold true to your declaration and be honest, if they differ from that of most christians, then be clear of your personal opinions so others are enacting a guessing game as to what you believe.
      All of christianity views G-D as being one and the same with jesus, or as part of a shared three person godhead.
      So “YES” Sheila it is true you do “NOT” see G-D the same as we do do unless of course you are now rejecting that stance.
      To know G-D is to keep his Torah! Every thing you do each day entails “FIRST” G-D no part of your life’s decisions each moment of every day take place without the question of how will it effect G-D, your walk with G-D, anyone else, and their walk with G-D, what have my choices in the past done to effect the present in my journey; Judaism isn’t just a belief in G-D it is a journey on the path set before us by G-D himself.
      His Torah isn’t some testament left behind by a dead testator, his Torah is a living Torah for us to live by.
      We are a soul with a choice, and G-D only gives his protection to those who obey him.

  78. Annelise says:

    Sheila… thanks for writing that.

  79. Sheila says:

    Annelise–you’re welcome–it needed to be said.

    Yehuda,

    Are you willing to do this then? We’ll just back up. What do you want to focus on? I’m like a willow; I can bend this way and that, I can get blown to the ground and spring back up again. I’m a prize fighter; I can either duck, block or take it in the face. But, I don’t want to jump out of the ring. 🙂

    What do you say? Start again?

  80. Sheila says:

    Wow, some fighter I am–when am I supposed to throw a punch…? That’d be the end of me. She’s out cold~~ 🙂

    Sorry, there was much sorrow in my life so I’ve developed an excessive sense of humor.

  81. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    I’m sorry, but I truly fail to see the basis for your umbrage. You brought up the topic of the need for an intermdiary, when I was trying to stick to one of the other lines of disussion I thought we are engaged in.

    If my reading Jesus into your mention of “intermediary” was premature, then nmy apologies. I await your explanation of what else you were refrring to.

    As for your right to defend your position, by all means be my guest. What I asked that that we stick to one topic at time.

    How about we return to this.

    You said we need an intermediary between us and God. I said no we don’t and that such an assertion is contrary to the tanakh. You responded with “The just shall live by his faith” and by pointing to the law of Moses. I asked what either of those thongs have to to with the need for an intermediary.

    The floor is yours.

  82. Yehuda says:

    Sorry. “things” not “thongs” 🙂

  83. Sheila says:

    Rabbi B.,

    Why do you suppose Jewish people are not evangelists? I mean in the sense of going out to people and talking about God? Are you more wary of people do you think?

  84. Sheila says:

    Yehuda,

    Let me get dinner on and I’ll be back with you in just a little while.

    Thanks.

  85. Evalene says:

    It’s been a long time question?
    With reference to conversation about gentiles eating pig? Who does Isaiah 65-66 refer to,
    when it mentions “swine flesh” and “broth of abominations”. Does that refer to “shell fish soup”?
    Much appreciated
    Evalene

  86. naaria says:

    Of course, there are similarities between Christians and Jews because the Christian OT is similar to the Tanakh. But the bottom line is that they have 2 very different world views. They do see God differently. As a Christian, I had no idea whatsoever what Jews believed until I started to learn about Judaism (along with studying Messianic “Judaism” and Christian Messianic Israel, 2 House, and Hebraic “Roots” movements) in about 1996 and in 1998 when I first went to Israel. I read and I seen where Judaism differs from Christianity in at least a dozen basic areas or principles (and at that time, I realized that I actually favored the Jewish view in almost all cases). I read what Jews who had read and studied the NT said about the NT and a fairly common comment was that “whatever is old in the New Testament is good and whatever is new in the NT is not so good”.

    And as I studied the history of Christianity and of the NT more intently and more in depth (along with Judaism (rabbinic or not) prior to the bar Kochba revolt), I began to see that a lot of that difference in Christianity was not due to a different interpretation of the OT or Tanakh (or Hebraic roots), but Christianity was much more influenced by the religions and philosophy of Assyria/Babylon, Greek, and Roman. Those differences remain and in fact, over many centuries, have increased.

    If there were no difference, then a Christian could see the NT, not as holy scripture, but as apocrypha or additional inspirational reading material. And they would be content with the Tanakh alone (plus as outside reading, maybe prefer reading Mishnah over the letters of Paul?). I have seen on blogs recently, believers in Yeshua/Jesus that reject Paul’s teachings or reject all of the NT (except maybe a “reconstructed” Matthew). Some call Jesus a pagan, but when Jesus is named Yeshua, he is God. They can reject or no longer believe in Jesus (or Yeshua) as a child may no longer believe in Santy Claus. And they see that as spiritual maturity. After you can give up Jesus and still have God. But can you still have Jesus if you give up the OT. The early Christian Marcionites (perhaps the most popular Christian sect before Emperor Constantine), believed Jesus had nothing to do with the Hebrew bible. There are a few modern day Marcionites, Ebionites, & Gnostic Christians.

    And if Jesus/Yeshua is God or is equal to God, B=A, then using B or A is only a personal preference. I don’t need to pray to A in the name of B. B is redundant and unnecessary. I can get to A directly, not through a B or a C or a D, depending which “only” way to A that you prefer. If Israel or “Rabbinic” Jews worship A, why waste your time telling them they need to worship B, if B is truly A? You ought to go save all the anti-A’s and all those Christians whose beliefs about B are in error. Are the souls of 100’s of millions of people who belong to one of these groups, Moslems, Mormons, Messianics, JW’s, Catholics, mainline and liberal Protestants, independent Protestants, etc., not worth saving? Or let them all go to hell, so you can “save” the small number of Jews who are already saved and have an unique covenant with God, the original God?

    • larry says:

      naaria: i am an ex catholic and apologize for chiming in here. it might be important to consider how dangerous it is to believe gd changed his mind from what he originally told his people. first he was the one true gd, now it’s three, but some how only one. abraham was asked to sacrafice his son but at the last minute gd stopped him and prevented a human sacrafice yet we’re to believe gd needed the death of his son, a human sacrafice, for the forgiveness of sins. jesus is said to be the good news but if you do not believe that statement you will suffer for eternity. now look at the catholic church. mary is co medeator with christ. they deny it, but just talk with some catholics and research the web. my mother tells me to pray to mary she will talk to jesus for me and things will happen sooner. the church does not offically approve of this but that is what is being done and taught. it seems that the catholic church is centered around mary mother of jesus. i was taught that the catholics rosary was originally 150 “our farher” prayers,now it’s 150 “hail mary” and 25 our father’s. the jewish religion has held fast and resisted change. what will the catholics be teaching 100 years from now? what will the mormons be teaching? will they join the TV evangelist and we will all be rich have the perfect job and health if we just believe. sorry for my lack of coherent thought and lousy writing skills.

  87. Sheila says:

    Yehuda,

    My husband asked of me to limit my engagements to those times he is working and also to take care that I don’t over tax myself. I will, of course, honor his request and will pick up again tomorrow afternoon. I’ve been engaged almost daily in discussions for months now and I can’t say I blame him in the least.

    It’s nice to know he misses me! 🙂

    I’ll pick it up then. Thanks.

  88. Blasater says:

    Sheila- You Said: “I say Jesus always was and always will be one with God. He is our Lord, and as the Son who was sent “from eternity”, the Son who gave up His dwelling place to tabernacle among us for the purpose of reconciling us to the Father. ”

    Now the Tanakh says:Malachi 3: 6 “For I, the LORD, do not change”; and even your own testament says:Jame 1:17 “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

    So lets look at what the church teaches. That Jsus was prexistent as “god” the son, second person of the trinity but without humanity. Jsus was then incarnated and “became flesh” and dwelt among us. Now the second person of the trinity is 100%god,100%man, a hypostatic union right? right. For “god” the son to have no humanity, then “god” the son to be “begotten” and joined with humanity, constitutes a change. Therefore, that is false teaching, per Malachi 3 and James 1.

    Also the church teaches, When Jsus “became flesh” he “set aside” some portion of his divinity because scripture says…”he grew in wisdom and knowlege” and did not know the hour of his return. Clearly not all knowing or omniscient. So, when he set aside his divinty…how much was set aside? 10%, 25%…where did he leave it? And if he was “god” the son, shouldnt he have had access to it regardless? After all….by definition, G-d is all powerful and infinite. So how can the infinite set aside a portion of the infinite, so that his remaining infinite cant get to it for knowlege?

    And doesnt in fact, this setting side some of his godhood constitute yet another change? The first change when he becomes a god-man entity and the second, him setting aside some god power and his third change? After the resurrection….he got his full “god” power back.

    That is 3…count them…3 changes in “God” (G-d forbid) and invalidates the Christian god-man theory.

  89. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    Perfectly understood. I have a family as well. And family comes before any blog.

  90. naaria says:

    Evalene: I am not a Tanach scholar and my Hebrew is minimal. But this seems important to you. In context, these verses largely deal with Israelites (most likely in or near Jerusalem) who are involved in pagan rituals & sacrifices. The most literal translations and most commentaries that I’ve seen read 65:4 as something like “broth (or fragments or pieces) of unclean sacrificial meat”. Less literal translations read it so generally that the non-kosher, unclean, or abominal things could almost be anything. It is less likely to be “shell fish soup” than a broth made of several other more common ritual herbs or sacrificial foods or meats. And it doesn’t or shouldn’t really matter to us today what the specific ingredients of their broth was, since unholy practices are unholy.

    • jjrmtfh says:

      Thanks for response…the other part of my question is of greater concern…in reading all of Isaiah 65-66 which addresses about
      “swine and carcas of swine”……as being an ‘abomination’. Do these references include abomination for Gentiles is my question?. thank you for sharing your understanding.
      Evalene

      • naaria says:

        Evalene: Most of Isaiah earlier deals mainly with both faithful and sinful Judeans, while 65 & 66 deals not only with the faithful and with the apostates within Israel (and maybe non-Israelites living in Israel), it also promises the righteous from other nations to enjoy the privilege of worshipping at Zion in the future, commonly called the messianic age. The messianic age has not yet come. In 66:18-21, the ingathering of the exiles and the universal recognition (with an undeniable preceeding “sign”) by the ‘nations’ that Adonai is One and is the True God, has not happened yet. Look up “Seven laws of Noah” in wikipedia or search for “Noahide” or “Noachide” on internet to get a better idea of who a righteous gentile is. Eating shellfish or swine is not a prohibition to non-Jews, unless it is part of some type of pagan ritual or idolatry.

  91. naaria says:

    Larry: No need to apologize (especially not to me) for chiming in. I agree with all your points. They may be interesting to some of the other posters on this site, because they usually hear from “evangelical” protestant Christians and not from Catholics or ex-Catholics. The Catholic church is changing and in some ways for the better. I live in a large metropolitan area where there is a large Hispanic population, largely Catholic, and where I live there are many Polish Americans or other “middle European”-Americans, who are predominately Catholics. My brother and his family and several of my co-workers are Catholic, but despite that, I know relatively little about Catholicism. I do know that in my city, all the Rabbis (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform) and Jewish lay representatives meet at times with Catholic Priests and lay leaders for an Interfaith meeting and lunch. I was at the Jewish gift/bookstore, when the lady clerk just got back from such a meeting and she said she really enjoyed it. The Protestant church I was involved in, and the Pastor has good relations with Jews in the city and in Israel. The local Orthodox Rabbi and also a Chief Rabbi from Israel have even spoke/preached in the church on a Sunday morning. That may be interesting to some, but it is beside the point.

    It seems in ways that some very religious Catholics are getting like some fundamentalist Christians I know. Except they almost never evangelize or try to sell you Jesus like some “snake oil sales person” that some “evangelicals” appear to be. But I sure do these evangelical, “fundamentalists” Protestant Christians hate Catholic (not most of the Protestants, especially in traditional organized churches like the Lutherans, UCC, Methodist, etc). Many don’t even consider Catholics Christians (which is unhistorical and totally absurd). But one of the main reasons there, beside the salvation “rituals” thing, is the so called “worship” of Mary thing. It really erks those Christians to think that Mary, mother of Jesus/Yeshua, could be called, Mother of God. That would put “filled with the holy spirit” Mary above “filled with the spirit” Jesus in the godhead. The trinity would have to become a Quarternary (or however you spell”. A mere man could be god but not a mere woman. Even the idea of veneratin, or just honoring Mary as a holy person, disturbs many. These types of Christians see absurdities and contradictions of many other Christians, but they can’t see those absurdities and contradictions in their own theology. Many have too much stubborn human pride. Yet those folks believe Jews are “blind”. Their human pride refuses to allow them to consider that maybe they could be wrong. “Just can’t be true”. They are afraid to seek because they inwardly sense what they will find.

  92. Sheila says:

    Yehuda—“You said we need an intermediary between us and God. I said no we don’t and that such an assertion is contrary to the tanakh. You responded with “The just shall live by his faith” and by pointing to the law of Moses. I asked what either of those things have to to with the need for an intermediary.”

    This is how I read it. There’s no need for me to interject anything into the written Scripture of the Tanach to arrive at the conclusion that I have. There is one who is a representative of the LORD and is even at times acknowledged as God and if that is not an intermediary between Heaven and earth then I don’t know what qualifies as one. God, the Father is Spirit as far as we know, yet He has one that is equal to Him, that is recognized as YHWH at times and that is known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I’ll give you the verses and you can read them for yourselves another time if you’d like to.

    God promised Abraham that He would visit the Israelites after 400 years and bring them out of Egypt. God chose Moses to be the agent of His salvation. He gave signs and wonders for Moses to perform in the sight of Pharoah. He gave Moses the authority to transact the covenant that God made with the Israelites. God taught Moses to fear Him when He came to kill him for not circumcising his son (Exd 4:24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.–THAT’S MORE THAN INTERESTING!)

    God gave to those beholding those great signs and wonders the express impression that Moses was acting on His behalf which I say he was. God gave Moses the necessary means to bring the children of Israel out of bondage and then He gave Moses to rule over the people. Didn’t the children of Israel ask for an intermediary? I think they did. I think perhaps if those signs and wonders were not presented by someone on earth saying “this is what God will do to you if you do (or don’t do) this or that” it may have seemed to them as if it were happenstance and that God had not done all of those things.

    Exd 20:18-22, Deu 5:4-5, etc., etc.

    You have the nation of Israel standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai and then the LORD speaks and the people are filled with such dread and fear that they beg of Moses to go and hear what the LORD has to say and let Moses speak to them instead of God. The people asked for an intermediary and they got one. Only Moses was able to stand in the presense of God and He told Him all he was to say to the Israelites. From that time on they are given all of the laws and the statutes by the mouth of Moses. Moses was acting as God’s agent on earth. Without Moses interceeding on their behalf on more than one occasion they would have suffered the anger of the Lord. That is an intermediary. Although I’ve since researched more and I understand your opposition to that term even though it is an appropriate one.

    http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2048/jewish/Moses-Receives-the-Torah.htm

    Concerning the law as functioning as an intermediate form of intercession. The people of the congregation did not have the luxury of falling down on their faces and repenting for their sins. In the entire sacrificial system it is the atonement offerings that makes propitiation with God on behalf on sinners. In the case of David, he was in clear violation of the commandments yet he is allowed to repent and receive forgiveness. That is what I meant by the revelation of God not being a static one. If you sinned like this, you brought that as an offering for your sin and you were forgiven. The offering interceeded on your behalf. However, if you committed this or that sin–there was no offering–you were to die. That’s what I meant by it. The high priest once a year interceeded for all of Israel.

    Concerning David this is what the law says. There was no sacrifice that he could have brought for his sins that’s why he didn’t even contemplate it.
    A person judged guilty of murder must die. Do not allow any kind of bargain or ransom for his life. (Num. 35:30)

    Yet God ransomed (unless there’s a better word) David’s life. The witnesses to it were both David and God and David knew that. Apparently Samuel knew also.

    Concerning faith; the Israelites entire experience for 430 years (plus the 40) was one of faith. But because the Christians live by faith I suppose you would rather write that word out of Scripture also even though the LORD makes much of it.

    I do have a question about the re-institution of the sacrificial system in the Mill. though. Where does the personal relationship go when the sacrifices are brought back? And where does the penalty for those same sins as outlined in the statues and commandments go? I’m not clear on that. Like, will people once more be put to death and such? If Messiah is to rule with a rod of iron it sounds like the Torah could very well be that rod of iron.

  93. Sheila says:

    of course I meant “statutes” not statues.

  94. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    I will respond to you more fully when the opportunity permits. (Perhaps others will chime in in the interim.) However until then one quick point of clarification.

    I think I now at least understand what you are trying to say about David. You are claiming that the fact that God accepted his repentence rather than insisting on his death represented a “new” development relative to what we knew about sin and attonement up to that point. Is that what you are saying?

  95. Sheila
    You accuse Yehuda of wanting to “write faith out of Scripture” – on what basis do you launch such an offensive accusation? is it becasue Yehuda is not advocating faith in a man? The entire opposition of Judaism towards Chritianity is an issue of faith – faith in the One God who loved us first.- to illustrate – I will respond to a previous post you put up affirming your love of God. Imagine if a woman finds her husband in a deep and intimate relationship with another woman. When challenged to justify his actions the husband responds with an astonished look of innocence – “what? you mean you don’t understand? Don’t you know that this other woman and my wife are actually one and the same? yes! God can do anything! He can make this woman and my wife to be one and teh same? I love my wife deeply – with all my heart – and I love her even more because she also appears in the form of this other beatiful woman so that I can have two relationships with her!” – I’ll leave the interpretation of this parable for you.
    Did you notice that there is never an intermediary in the Scriptures for purpose of loving God (as in love the intermediary) or for the purpose of worship (as in worship the intermediary) – do you really think that it is just a wild coincidence that there is no intermediary for love and worship?
    As for your question about what will happen to a personal relationship with God when the sacrifices will return – I find this question completely out of line with teh Jewish Scriptures. The Scriptures affirm that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination before God (Proverbs 15:8, 21:27) – the sinner must change his or her standing before God from wicked to righteous BEFORE bringing the sacrifice – and that is done only through repentance – a provision of the original Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 30:2) – not a “new” invention as you seem to indicate throughout your posts. The sacrifices enhance our personal relationship with God – not replace it

  96. Sheila
    Two more comments about your post.
    Exodus 4:24 illustrates that obeying God’s holy law comes before anything – even before teh redemption of Israel. Moses was going to redeem Israel – yet because he delayed the circumcision of his son – he was liable to death. Contrast this with Paul’s argument to the efect that circumcision is “nothing”
    Another point – the Law in teh Messianic age – God assures us that He will put it into our hearts that we will want to observe the Law – that is the whole point of the new-covenant – we will no longer experience a conflict between our desire to satisfy our flesh and our egos on the one hand and our yearning to live with God on the other hand. As long as this conflict still exists – we can be sure that the new covenant is not here yet.

  97. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,
    1) “There is one who is a representative of the LORD and is even at times acknowledged as God and if that is not an intermediary between Heaven and earth then I don’t know what qualifies as one. “
    Putting aside your specious assertion that the Tanakh speaks of a representative who is at times acknowledged as God, none of the verses you have mind say: ”Don’t bother trying to relate to me, worship my agent”. Thus they cannot be used as proof that we “NEED” an intermediary. On the contrary God throughout the Tanakh implores us to worshipfully relate to and love him directly and solely (e.g Deut 6:5, 10:12, 11:1 ) and that the basis for the relationship is obeying the commandments of the Torah. The idea that this relationship REQUIRES an intermediary is profoundly anti-scriptural.

    2) “God chose Moses to be the agent of His salvation. He gave signs and wonders for Moses to perform in the sight of Pharoah. He gave Moses the authority to transact the covenant that God made with the Israelites. God taught Moses to fear Him when He came to kill him for not circumcising his son (Exd 4:24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.–THAT’S MORE THAN INTERESTING!)

    I’m not quite sure what is so interesting to you about that. Perhaps you can explain.
    Yes. Moses was an agent of God. Not a single solitary word of the Tanakh suggests that his agency was to take on a role as representing God for the purpose of worship or that any such agency was or will ever be necessary.
    And yes, the mediating prayers of leaders can help. That is not the same thing as saying we NEED an intermediary to relate to God.

    3) Exd 20:18-22, Deu 5:4-5, etc., etc.
    Funny you should mention Exodus 20:18 and Deut 5:4, both of which attest to God speaking directly (in one case using the words “face to face”. Can’t get more direct than that.) to the Jews, in the context of needing an intermediary. This is further capped off by Deut 5:18 in which it is reiterated that God spoke directly to all of you. Yes the chapter also speaks of the people’s fear of hearing God directly but not of God saying that they needed to be afraid in this manner. In fact if you go back a few verses in Exodus 20 to verses 15 and 16 you will see Moses tell the people NOT to be afraid in this way for such is not God’s agenda . Yes, they asked for an intermediary and they got one at Sinai in the context of their own fear. However, no one ever said to them “and don’t ever so much as think about worshipping God directly.” And finally when God “approves” of the people’s request in Deut 5:24,25 it is NOT because He acknowledges that they need an intermediary but because is expressing his desire that they would always have such fear of God in their hearts (knowing as He did that they would not).

    Your assertion that an intermediary is REQUIRED is simply not in these verses and is in direct conflict with numerous verses where God says, “Worship Me…Love Me”.

    4) Regarding your comments about the sacrificial system and David. As has been written about extensively by Rabi Blumenthal and others, the sacrificial system did not address every form of sin and I don’t just mean the capital sins. You can find much on this topic at a variety of Jewish resources.
    I do not believe that 2 Samuel 12:14 suddenly hit like a lightening bolt with a new teaching about the efficacy of repentance. (And if 2 Samuel 12:14 was intended as such a teaching then David and the prophet Nathan did a very poor job of highlighting it as such.) Repentance was always a part of the sacrificial / atonement system, and remains the key two atonement when sacrifice is not available, as indicated by Deut 30:2, 3, 8, and 10. (As also indicated by numerous verses in the prophets but I’ll omit those for the moment because you would claim that any such verse in the prophets was a new revelation that added to the Torah, rather than the much more obvious understanding that they are elaborations about what was always understood about the Torah.)
    You say God revealed something new in sparing David’s life, because by strict operation of the Law of Moses he had to die. Surely you realize that the verses you site refer to the earthly justice system as it is to be administered by human courts. And in that context you are absolutely correct, that it would be an abomination to accept ransom for a murderer. But are you suggesting that before David, there was no Jew ever guilty of murder who managed to escape the system without being instantly struck down by God rather than living out the rest of a normal lifespan. How do you know that?

    Lastly while we’re talking about Deut 30, I’ll note how verses 12-14 make a emphatic proclamation the Jews do not need any intermediary to cross the seas for them or two ascend to heaven for them. Rather as verse 14 makes clear, the Torah – the basis for the direct relationship with God – is very close to your mouths and hearts that you may do it.

  98. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,
    You had a few final points I didn’t yet address:

    1) “Concerning faith; the Israelites entire experience for 430 years (plus the 40) was one of faith.”

    I had asked you why you brought habbakuk 2:4 in the context of a discussion about whether we needed an intermediary. I still don’t see your answer.

    2) “…But because the Christians live by faith I suppose you would rather write that word out of Scripture also even though the LORD makes much of it.”

    All devoted Jews live by faith. I’m not sure what your accusing me of, or why.

    3) “I do have a question about the re-institution of the sacrificial system in the Mill. though. Where does the personal relationship go when the sacrifices are brought back? And where does the penalty for those same sins as outlined in the statues and commandments go? I’m not clear on that. Like, will people once more be put to death and such?

    There is nothing inconsistent between a sacrificial system and a personal relationship with God. The Torah defines our relationship with God in the form of many commandments. When that relationship is in its optimal state, it includes the presence of an active temple and sacrificial system. So it was and so it will again be. At other times it does not.

  99. Blasater says:

    Sheila- The word faith only occurs in the Tanakh like 2 times…faithfulness about 40 times and it usually is about G-ds faithfulness to us…not the reverse. So faith, as Yehuda mentioned, is a “given” for the Jew, who serves HaShem. What one does see in the Tanakh, over and over again, is whether aperson or nation of Israel is keeping G-ds commmandments, statutes and ordinances.

    The importantance of “faith” is a christian invention, since if you eliminate the law, like Christianity does, thats all that remains….faith.

    Moses acted as a conduit of information from G-d to the Jewish people. The Jewish people never prayed to him, considered him to be part of a godhead or divine in anyway. Relative to Jsus that is a straw man argument. apples and oranges. And dont forget, Moses did offer himself as a sacrifice to atone for the Israelites sins…G-d said no….Moses…it doesnt work that way…each person is responsible for his own sin. Ex 32:30-33 No Human vicarious atonement! And that means Jsus too.

    Sheila could you please address my question to you on Jan 15th? Thanks

  100. Sheila says:

    Rabbi Blumenthal—Sheila You accuse Yehuda of wanting to “write faith out of Scripture” – on what basis do you launch such an offensive accusation?
    I didn’t mean to offend but I do notice, though, that whenever I use particular words (or ideas) that overlap with the New Covenant Scripture that it draws an immediate response to my usage of them from the Tanach. And it seemed as if he made to little of the part that faith plays. I think a major focus of the Israelites being made ot serve Egypt while keeping faith for 430 years that God would fulfill His promise has got to be the greatest example of faith kept by any people who were held captive to another nation for so long. That was my main point.
    Faith is not mentioned that many times, as Blasater points out, but it is the basis of the nation’s remaining separate all that time and even now. In respect to the law he asked me what that had to do with it. I tried to show that it was entirely by faith that they waited and it was by faith that they accepted that God would keep His covenant made with them at Sinai. That’s what I meant. God justified the Israelites because they kept their faith in His promise to bring them out. I think that’s a very important demonstration of faith and God justified them for holding onto it for those 100’s of years. He will justify those who keep faith even today.
    Rabbi B.—“As for your question about what will happen to a personal relationship with God when the sacrifices will return – I find this question completely out of line with teh Jewish Scriptures….”not a “new” invention as you seem to indicate throughout your posts.”
    I was thinking along the lines of the law as being progessive and a more heartfelt relationship has now developed for the Nation and so I thought the re-institution of the system would take away from that. But enhance it–I admit I didn’t think of it in that way.
    Rabbi B.—“As long as this conflict still exists – we can be sure that the new covenant is not here yet.”
    Yes, I too believe it has not yet come to full fruition. There will be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and our relationship will be changed profoundly.
    Yehuda—“I’m not quite sure what is so interesting to you about that. Perhaps you can explain.”
    Moses was chosen to institute the Covenant system for the Nation yet he almost got clobbered for not following the first covenant given to the patriarchs! It sounded like God was more than serious about it! Circumcision was the sign between God and the Patriarchs and the entire nation of Israel. Moses’ fear translated into immediate obedience as did the Israelites fear while standing before Mt. Sinai. I think fear and love for God are two sides of the same coin.
    Yehuda–“I had asked you why you brought habbakuk 2:4 in the context of a discussion about whether we needed an intermediary. I still don’t see your answer”
    I thought the sacrifices and offering acted to interceed for the the expiation of their sins. If they did not believe that it did and if they did not exercise faith that they were cleansed by those offerings they would not have been justified is what I was trying to get at and what I was thinking on. I felt it was all by faith that they made their offerings fully expecting to be forgiven. What is my error in seeing it that way?
    Yehuda–“Sheila, I will respond to you more fully when the opportunity permits. (Perhaps others will chime in in the interim.) However until then one quick point of clarification. I think I now at least understand what you are trying to say about David. You are claiming that the fact that God accepted his repentence rather than insisting on his death represented a “new” development relative to what we knew about sin and attonement up to that point. Is that what you are saying?”
    Yes, that’s how I interpreted it. That the Israelites in the wilderness did not have that option that I can see.
    I haven’t looked that well into any other questions so far. I sprained my ankle really badly this morning and have had ice on it most all day! I will read them more carefully this evening though.
    Thanks for your responses and elaborations.

  101. Sheila says:

    Blasater–“Sheila could you please address my question to you on Jan 15th? Thanks”

    I’ll have to look at it again and see what it was–I just missed it was all.

    Thanks.

  102. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    I see what you wrote about Moses almost “getting clobbered”. I’m still not sure what is has to do with our presumed stick-to-it topic about the need (or lack thereof) for an intermediary.

    I also see what you wrote about sacrifices “interceding” for sin and the requirement of faith that they would work. That’s an interesting use of the notion of “intermediary”, but we can ultimately call every act of obedince tio God’s torah an “intermediary”. Perhaps that is in fact how you see it. But that doesn’t really tell us much in that context, other than God wants us to do as he commands. If you want to label obedience to God as the use of an intermdeiary, go ahead. I call it a direct relationship.

    I saw what you wrote about David’s repentence and that you don’t think it was an option in the wilderness. I disagree. Do you have any evidence to support your belief? If such an option was unknown before it was granted to David, what led David to think there was any chance that his prayer of repentence as per Psalm 51 would have any chance of being accepted. As a faithful disciple of the law of Moses, he should, by your reckoning, have responded to Nathan by saying. “Your right. I’m guilty. I’m prepared to die”.

  103. Sheila says:

    Yehuda–“I disagree. Do you have any evidence to support your belief?”

    Do you have any to support yours?

    Then why didn’t God just come right and say—“If you sin against my commandments—fall on your faces and repent.”

    “I’m still not sure what is has to do with our presumed stick-to-it topic about the need (or lack thereof) for an intermediary.”

    How was Moses to institute (if that’s an acceptable word..) (to impliment ?) the law if he himself had not entered into the commandment that God had given? That was my point Yehuda. If you only want one sentence answers, I’ll try to do that.

  104. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    “Do you have any to support yours? ”

    Yes I do.

    1) I have no reason to think that the prophets who lived their life preaching the Torah of Moses were changing it. If you think otherwise, the burden of proof is yours.
    2) David’s presumption that his prayer of repentance had a chance of working as I mentioned above.
    3) Deuteronomy Chapter 30 puts great emphasis on the process and efficacy of repentance as I also mentioned earlier.

    No I don’t require one sentence answers. Just coherent ones. I’m afraid I still have no idea what you are trying to say about Moses. Yes. he was sent on a mission. And yes, he had a shortcoming to rectify. The only reason these two things seem incongruous to you is because of your chrsitian predispostion to the meaning and significance of transgression. Judasim is not handicapped in this way. However I remain puzzled as to what you are trying to demonstate even by your own standards

  105. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    One other thought.

    Let’s assume for a moment that the effectiveness of David’s repentance was up until that point an unknown option. (which I obvisouly do not agree to).

    Does that mean you would at least concede that within the confines of the Tanakh period it was established that repentance is itself effective to expunge sin as is certainly made clear by David, Ezekiel, Isaiah and others?

  106. Sheila says:

    Yehuda—“The only reason these two things seem incongruous to you is because of your chrsitian predispostion to the meaning and significance of transgression.”

    I’m certain you do not mean to imply that “transgression is insignificant.” My disposition, as I would think yours is also, is that every sin is sin against God.

    If I can put forward those things I would like you might find I can express myself more than succinctly. However, I’m now leary of answering, as you seem to interpret all in light of what you perceive is my predispostition. I wasn’t taught my disposition, I acquired it all by myself. I acquired it from your Scriptures. If you have nothing to fear I’ll just begin outlining my understanding of the Scriptures and what exactly they do say. I expect you to take issue with my interpretation of them, of course. I’ll use only the Tanach.

  107. Yehuda says:

    Sheila,

    Feel free to quote anything you like from the tanakh.

    But I would like to remain focused.

    Are we still talking about intermediaries, or are we done?

    Are we still talking about David, or are we done?

  108. Brian says:

    Sheila,
    I posted some remarks regarding some of your comments, to which either you didn’t see or ignored.
    I mistakenly missed a notation to post at the bottom of the page, rather than hitting the reply, maybe this is why.

  109. Sheila says:

    Yehuda,

    In sharing my interpretation of Scripture, I rarely am able to number things as others do, such as 1, 2, 3… I just don’t think like that. I know many do, but at times the ideas are broader than a list would accommodate. We began our discussion with a few, but they may branch one way or another for either one of us. If you ever need me to back up just give a shout out.

    Intermediary-yes-and I’m sure David will make an appearance. Seriously though, I think perhaps you’re pressing me to remain to rigid and that’s somewhat stifling.

    I’ll pick it up again soon then.

  110. Sheila says:

    Brian,

    I know I haven’t gone back and read through all the posts as yet. I’m not deliberately ignoring you at all. Five to one is a bit hard to keep up with. I will look for your questions though first thing in the morning! 🙂

    Thanks.

  111. naaria says:

    Some general musings, not so much about the original issue of misquotations of scripture (or rather the intentional(?) use of poor English translations of the Hebrew writings in order to “prove” the validity of Greek writings and world view).

    I have always found it odd that some Christians will proclaim their love of the God of Israel by quoting a small number of verses (especially from the Greek OT) but ignoring those many more verses which call their beliefs into serious question.  Where Jews or many objective readers would literally read one meaning in a verse, we as Christians would read another less literal and more questionable meaning in that verse.  We read selective verses, usually taken out of context, and then give meanings to those verses that quite often contradict the surrounding or nearby verses.  As Rabbis or Jewish scholars have often noticed, the answer to the critique of Jews or of Judaism or the refutation of false teachings are often to be found within a few verses of the critics “proof” or “truth” (often within the very verse that is used as a “proof”)  We talk about “proof” texts, when actually we read our “proof” (belief) into the text.  It is poor or dishonest research to try to prove ones belief, by selecting what you will accept and discarding or ignoring the rest, rather then by using the “scientific method” whereby one attempts to disprove the hypotheses in an effort to discover any weakness or errors in the belief and to find out what the undeniable facts are and where the strengths of the beliefs are.  When something is clear and true, it needs no proof text.  What God would want (even needs) us to know is plain and clear. It is not a mystery.  It requires no highly educated theologian to explain it, such as is required of the concept of the trinity, or the idea that a son of the father is equal to the father, or the messenger is the same as the sender of the messenger, or a God who said he is not a man and does not lie is somehow indeed a man and can lie and can rebel against God and yet is sinless in order that almighty God can show to created man (created in God’s likeness) that uncreated God is truly one of us hopelessly wretched sinners, although God, who knows us better than we know ourselves, told us to be Holy just as God is Holy, etc.

    I find it strange that some of my fellows reject “replacement theology”, yet they replace the name of Adonai with Lord (when they really mean Jesus) and Elohim with Jesus.  Jesus is meant where God is found in the OT (but not always if they feel God is not Jesus-like).  

    Many Christians will state opinions as if they were commonly acknowledged fact.  Such as “There is one who is a representative of the LORD and is even at times acknowledged as God” and “has one equal to him” at times as YH-WH.  Using this “logic”, with the “72 names of Jesus”, can we say there are 72 different gods?  Or how many of the 72 are “representatives” of God, or the Father but not Jesus, or how many of them are equal or unequal “representatives” of Jesus, or how many apply to the Father and also the son and/or the “holy spirit”?  How do each of these names, or gods or representatives combine into 3 aspects or “3 persons” or “3 substances”?  Where or when is spirit separate from “persons” or “substances”, which by definition are not spirit?  What part of God is holy spirit and which is part is son and which is father? Is the father or son separated from the holy spirit as it appears in the NT? People can say “our Father”, but can they say “our son” when referring to God, since they are equal and the same?  There are daughters of God and some say a human woman is a Mother of God, so why ignore those “substances” or “persons” in the trinity?

    We talk about a new covenant, but that suggests that Christians, non-Jews, already or always had the old covenant.  But then it really was or is not new, but a changed or altered covenant.  Many see these additions and deletions as improvements to God’s previous words.  Jesus did not give that covenant to many.  It was given orally to a few, and as an “oral torah”, Jesus’ words were and are of less importance to us than a “written torah” or new testament?  Beliefs that only a small number of followers held until 200 or more years later in the 3rd century c.e., according to the early church fathers.  Some of these disciples or representatives of “God” could claim that they were equal to the “lord”, since they could heal, do miracles, even resurrect the dead.  Some of these representatives were even called “brothers of the lord” which absolutely equates them to Jesus, making these men God.                        

  112. larry says:

    naaria: have you ever seen this?
    Catechism of the Catholic Church: “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God” (no. 460)

    • naaria says:

      In polytheistic religions, there can be many divine sons or daughters of their chief god (Zeus, Thor, Saturn, etc) and those gods can become human. But it is very unusual for humans to become a god unless one is the king or an emperor. One of the greatest enemies of the Jews over 200 years (the Chanukah story) before the Jesus story was the Seleucid Greek Antiochus Epiphanes who had an “epiphany” and called himself “god manifested in the flesh”, which is one reason Christians celebrated, and some still do celebrate, his birthday or the day of Ephiphany. Epiphany was once celebrated as the birthday of Jesus, before Christmas was chosen. The human Roman Caesars also became gods. Augustus Caesar (son of the man god Julius Caesar) was born of a virgin mother who was impregnated by a divine god (other than Julius Caesar or JC). He also “died and was resurrected”. The Jesus story may have come about as a satire of the Caesars.

  113. Sheila says:

    Blasater,

    I’m looking at one post of yours about God changing into three. I say God never “changed” into anything. God was “in the beginning” who He was and always will be, as He Himself attests to. I don’t know the “language” to use to debate the Trinity with you or anyone else. Sorry about that. If you’ll follow my reasoning that I present, I think you’ll be able to determine my understanding of it.

    I know some who can explain it much better than I can and I’d be glad to link you to their blog if you’d like. I’m sure they’d welcome you to join in the discussion there. It’s obvious to me after reading the Tanach that it must be true or they (the Scriptures) are not true. I think you’ll see my reasoning at it progresses.

    It’s going to take me a bit, most likely days, before I can pick it up again. I don’t always check the email address that I signed on here with, most times I just come directly here, so sorry I missed it earlier. Like most of you I can’t do this full time. 🙂

    Brian,

    I didn’t see it as a question from you; I thought it was a statement from the post on this date:
    January 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Thanks.

    • larry says:

      sheila: earlier you said “I have no particular agenda that I am on” – “I did not come here with an agenda to “save” you—but, my heart beats of it’s own accord. If you’re “being saved” is the natural progression of our interaction–then Amen to that! After reconsidering your question seriously and honestly, that’s the best I can do and remain true to myself”.
      on another web site you said
      “I’ll hope to be back with it this evening. I’ve gotten myself into another discussion with Rabbi Blumenthal and other orthodox Jews on the blog he started to continue the conversation from Dr. B’s forum. What have I gotten myself into this time?! I’m the fish out of the water now. I have only the truth to back me up–that should be more than enough.
      I do what I can to win souls, whether some will hear or forbear–I will go about planting seeds anyway.
      To me, you do seem to have an agenda.

  114. Sheila
    I appreciate your efforst to articulate your point of view and I especially appreciate what you are aiming to present (if I understood you correctly) -that is teh basis of your belief from Tanach. – i just wonder (and I am not being cynical – only practical) – When you originally picked up the Tanach – did it come with the Christian Scriptures attached?

  115. Blasater says:

    Sheila– You said: Blasater,

    “I’m looking at one post of yours about God changing into three. I say God never “changed” into anything. God was “in the beginning” who He was and always will be, as He Himself attests to.”

    You also said:
    “I say Jesus always was and always will be one with God. He is our Lord, and as the Son who was sent “from eternity”, the Son who gave up His dwelling place to tabernacle among us for the purpose of reconciling us to the Father. ”

    I am pressing the point becasue this is very important. In fact, I would say that all of Chrisitanty stands or falls on this issue (among others as well but this could be the most fundamental in my opinion)

    My previous post:

    “Now the Tanakh says:Malachi 3: 6 “For I, the LORD, do not change”; and even your own testament says:Jame 1:17 “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

    So lets look at what the church teaches. That Jsus was prexistent as “god” the son, second person of the trinity but without humanity. Jsus was then incarnated and “became flesh” and dwelt among us. Now the second person of the trinity is 100%god,100%man, a hypostatic union right? right. For “god” the son to have no humanity, then “god” the son to be “begotten” and joined with humanity, constitutes a change. Therefore, that is false teaching, per Malachi 3 and James 1.

    Also the church teaches, When Jsus “became flesh” he “set aside” some portion of his divinity because scripture says…”he grew in wisdom and knowlege” and did not know the hour of his return. Clearly not all knowing or omniscient. So, when he set aside his divinty…how much was set aside? 10%, 25%…where did he leave it? And if he was “god” the son, shouldnt he have had access to it regardless? After all….by definition, G-d is all powerful and infinite. So how can the infinite set aside a portion of the infinite, so that his remaining infinite cant get to it for knowlege?

    And doesnt in fact, this setting side some of his godhood constitute yet another change? The first change when he becomes a god-man entity and the second, him setting aside some god power and his third change? After the resurrection….he got his full “god” power back.

    That is 3…count them…3 changes in “God” (G-d forbid) and invalidates the Christian god-man theory.”

    So as you and the church teach…no change in G-d. I have just outlined 3 changes.
    A) The prexistent “SON” “becomes flesh” …”takes on the likeness of sinful flesh” (John and Paul) Change number 1.
    B) In taking on humanity, he has to “set aside” his full god power. He was made for a little while lower than the angels (Heb. 2:9) and had emptied Himself and taken on the form of a man (Phil. 2:7) Christ was completely human and dependent upon God and that He was cooperating with the limitations of being human. However, we see that after the resurrection of Christ it is said of Him that He knows all things (John 21:17) and that He is omnipresent (Matt. 28:20). That is why He said He didn’t know the day or hour of His return.
    In other words…he gave up some portion of his god power while human
    C) He resurrects, and goes back to heaven with his human body (prexistent Jesus had no human body) and has full god powers returned.

    So again, my question is …this is a change in “god” is it not?
    If you cant answer, maybe one of your people can come here and answer this. Thanks

  116. Sheila says:

    Blasater–“So again, my question is …this is a change in “god” is it not?”

    According to Scripture, no, it is not. I say we look at what Scripture teaches. Which is what I thought we had agreed to do.

    As I suggested you will want to find someone more qualified to come and discuss it with you. (as I don’t have any “people”) In fact the person whose blog Larry visited has studied it in depth. Tom Lemke at this address: http://thechifiles.com/category/answering-unitarians/ You can invite him here or join him there whichever suits you. The answers to your questions concerning how I understand it will become clear as things progress, assuming they do. (?)

    Larry, if your design was to embarrass me, it failed to do that and you said nothing other than what I already admitted here as you re-posted. If a seed frightens you, you may not want to read any more of what may come in this discussion. If you and others followed Dr. Brown’s blog you already have a multitude of information about me as I’ve not said anything in secret. I’m disappointed that you thought to disparage me. The two are completely in line with each other. I said: “If you’re being saved is the natural progression of our discussion then Amen to that!” I believe I am being true to myself as I said. I see truth as a seed, yes.

    Anyone here not know about me? I think the secret that I’m a Christian has already been discovered. I too have read much concerning what others have written but I don’t care to bring it to this discussion and in some cases I don’t care to repeat it.

    I thought we were to prepared to let Scripture speak for itself, as we each believe the truth will prevail, so what are we afraid of? I don’t feel the need to call for “backup” to put forth my point of view.

    Rabbi Blumenthal,

    My Tanach is this edition: “JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh” printed in 2000 by the Jewish Publication Society.

    The Bible I received when I was 12 is “Holy Bible–King James Version” printed for Sears and Roebuck Co.. 🙂 Of course it has the New Covenant Scriptures.

    If you recall our conversation on Dr. Brown’s blog, and I asked you about the bible codes, well, it was a special on History Channel that got me thinking about God after my back one day just collapsed. I broke it in a car wreck 10 yrs. before that and pushed myself entirely to hard, so I was laid up in my den, not being able to do much of anything. I was more than despondent–I thought very seriously of taking my own life. I was not married to my husband then and my entire life was pulled out from under me–the Lord sat me down and hard! So, I was watching a special about the bible codes and they said the codes were found in the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures using the exact letters of the torah to get their results. I was so enamored of the thought of secret codes and what they might be able to tell us that I sent away for a Tanach and started reading it. It didn’t yield any secret codes (one needs a computer program to do that–I do not recommend that oracle to anyone at all!!) I did, however, discover something even more valuable than secret codes—I found God instead! I read the words and the story of the God of the Jews and I was hooked. The truth, though, is that with Hebrew on one side and English on the other side, I kept turning the page the wrong way 🙂 so I thought I may as well just switch to the one that was easier to use—so I did. I lifted my head about 2 yrs. later absolutely dumpfounded and I’ll never be the same again. I was a functioning alchoholic and I just threw every bit of it out and I’ve not had a drink in about 6 yrs. or so.

    I know you didn’t have any NT in the back of your Bible. 🙂 When and how did you come to read it, if I may ask?

    • larry says:

      sheila: I am not trying to embarass you, I simply pointed out why I think your dishonest and are in fact here to “save us” or as you might say “win souls”. You have not presented any seeds that frighten me nor do i understand that comment. I will tell you this, I run from ex alcoholics and ex drug addicts who think they some how now posess the truth of god because they no longer have that monkey on their back and actually read the bible. My suggestion would be to ask the very people god started with to introduce himself to mankind and to teach directly what he meant before you believe anything else. I’m glad your life is getting better, and will now take this thread off my email list.

  117. Sheila says:

    If a Jew had ever thought to do that I may have had that opportunity! I have no idea why you are so bitter, Larry, but I pray you find some kindness to pass along to someone, anyone—some day.

    Rabbi Blumenthal,

    Thanks for the invite but I don’t care to interact. It’s more than clear to me that no one here is actually interested.

    It’s become a “Bash the Christian Blog” and I have better things to do also.

    Be well.

  118. naaria says:

    Side note: This is far from being a “bash the Christian” blog. Most of these posters are truly interacting; most just see God differently, by the Tanach way and not the NT way. I was raised Christian and all my family and most of the people I interact with are Christian.

    The last few posts were about a messiah. They way I see it a messiah is chosen by God to do a job. That person does not send a resume to an audience or to the general public. If the job of the messiah isn’t done, then there is no around to do the job or no one was no one around that did the job. Details on one’s ‘resume’ mean nothing. Things like “lineage” mean nothing. They may only be useful if one wants to show others that they are incorrect in following a “false prophet” or a failed “messiah”. Each leg (or proof) they want to stand on, gets cut off or knocked out from under them. Even the NT says in it’s “end times”, that many people will be deceived. When someone may say “the messiah is here”, you don’t go running there; it is falsehood. No one is or rather no one should go to look at the “messiah’s resume” and say you are the messiah because you like to wear green or blue shirts. That is what “their bible says”. And someone else says, no the “true messiah” only likes to wear brown and red shirts, “according to my bible”. The Rabbis and the NT agree, will be known by ALL (except in the early period, there will be skeptics, but not when the messiah’s work is being continually completed right before our eyes).

    The lineage of a person? Only God really knows and to every one else, that doesn’t matter (except again to weed out bearers of falsehoods or to prevent people being deceived). In the NT Luke, where does it say or even hint that that genealogy is “Mary’s”. The early church fathers didn’t know the genealogy of their messiah . They argued and had to explain to skeptics and their critics why the Christian writings contradicted each other (Tatian supposedly tried to combine all the different contradictory Jesus stories into one unified “gospel”. How could one prove a “virgin birth”? Some Christians wrote stories to explain it. One was that her mid-wife tested her and proved it, but that gospel was considered by the church to be lies and heretical and in way could it be considered canonical. The NT apologist had to explain the contradiction, so they guessed. Two genealogies and 2 parents. Problem solved. Christians ought to read the earliest Christian writings and study the history of the texts of their NT. Very interesting stuff.

    • naaria says:

      I apologize for several missing words in my post above. I was typing it out on an iPhone and sent it out quickly without a single review and edit.

  119. Brian says:

    Sheila,
    You had stated that you would read what I had written; It was more than just one statement Jan. 15 10:05pm, 9:32pm, 9:13pm, 7:08pm Is your PC broken? everyones post show up on mine; or maybe you assumed that my post should be questions, instead of facts with scriptural support.
    You originally stated that you wanted to learn about Judaism, I clairified some things for your better understanding, I guess they clashed with your agenda? I didn’t bash you, I merely called you to honesty.
    You made the statement in your last blog that no one here is actually interested; I suspose partially that might be true, everyone here knows scripture, and they will never be swayed from the truth for that very reason, and turn to the Idolatry of the christian religion.
    On the flip side everyone who has posted here who is Jewish; Is very interested in helping you understand truth, and see the falsehood of christianity, if that truly is your passion; as far as understanding, I believe the statement you made of your desires hasn’t materialized from you with honesty.
    If you truly want to learn from others here, stick to one topic at a time, and qoute from the Tanakh in context.
    However I don’t believe that is your goal, nor do I expect that you will respond to my comment here.

    • Sheila says:

      My wife, Sheila, will not be responding to any one of you again. I forbid her to interact here with any of you. You have slandered her and thats enough! Do you all understand that? She has a heart bigger than all of you put together here.

  120. Yehuda says:

    Wow !

    To Sheila (and your husband) I for one have never slandered you. I did question your original intentions and when you were insistent as to their nature, I took you at your word. I still do.You have met tough resistance to your beliefs here. But I have to imagine you expected that coming in. Certainly what you have gotten here is no worse thatn what your friends dished out to Rabbi Blumenthal over weeks over at Rabbi Brown’s site.

    I’m sorry you feel hurt, but hey, it’s a free country you don’t have to participate.

    However, a message to your husband. I do belive your wife has a big heart. I have said as much here and on Dr. Brown’s site on more than one occasion. However, you know nothing about my heart.

  121. Yehuda says:

    Exscuse me I meant Dr. Brown. not Rabbi Brown 🙂 That was pretty funny if I have to say so myself.

  122. Brian says:

    Wow! Sheila’s husband,
    Your wife was the one who stated she would read what I posted; {no responses}; Your wife stated she wished to learn about Judaism and our beliefs, and that her intentions were honest.
    She tried to detach herself from using words like jesus, used general comments without scriptural connotations, then presupposed that everyone else was doing as such without supporting facts to prove her contention.
    The fact of the matter is that your wife is the one who hasn’t been honest, not only with herself, but also with those who were interacting with her here on this blog; once it became evident nobody was ever going to be duped the conversation no longer was convenient anymore.
    Sir the fact of the matter is; you have a lot of audacity to accuse anyone of slandering your wife.
    BTW You don’t know me from a can of paint, much less to know to comment about my heart, and this isn’t your thread to be dictacting to anyone, and making unfounded accusations.

  123. No one slandered (actually he means libeled) that woman. I’d like to point the reader’s attention to my post on 1/12 where I caught Sheila early on in her dishonesty when she challenged us about who has actually read the heretical NT. After I exposed her I dropped off the thread for awhile to see what would happen. I figured she had the typical and cliched Christian agenda.

    Jeisyn Murphy says:
    January 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm
    Sheila, it’s disappointing that you switched your approach from open questioning to defensiveness. This is evident in your inquiry about who has read the NT. When I said I had read it and then asked if that changed how you viewed anything I said, you replied that it had not (I had already guessed you would respond this way when I first read your initial post) which means you were dishonest when you said your intentions in asking who read the NT were to see if any of us could legitimately argue our position. This also means that you don’t put stock in the opinions of others, whether they are educated opinions or not, unless they agree with your own. You try and support your position by saying that knowledge is justified by all of her children. But you fail to realize that not everyone is a child of knowledge. There is ultimate truth with a “T” which means some people are wrong and others are right…

    Reply
    Sheila says:
    January 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm
    My, my–you got all of that out of my wanting to know who had actually read the NT? That’s amazing!

  124. larry says:

    Sheila
    Sheila says:
    January 17, 2012 at 8:16 am
    Tom,
    I posted on Rabbi B.’s, blog and I just went ahead and busted open a hornet’s nest just now!! They’ll be buzzing me with vengeance very soon!! Yikes…
    As soon as I can cut free “I’ll be back…”
    ————————————————————–
    I did not post this yesterday because I did not want to upset you to much.
    I wonder what you meant by “They’ll be buzzing me with vengeance ?
    Is this your style of planting seeds?

  125. Brian says:

    Jeisyn,
    I was simply reacting to his warped perception of all of us accordingly.
    Amazing how people can engage in deception and lies, and actually think they are in service of Hashem.
    Not only was his wife dishonest, he had the gull to succum to her whimperings, when her little game fell apart on her, then make personal attacks on the integrity of everyone who posted here with absoulutely no substantiation whatsoever.
    I would agree that it was never open dialogue with her, just defensive responses that didn’t present any scriptural context on a separate individual basis between those of us interacting on the thread, as a matter of fact she outright claimed some type of blindness with regards to statements I made.

    I was fully aware of her agenda, and it doesn’t begin and end with her; I find that for the most part, the majority of christians who are active at all in dialogue with Jewish people, do in fact have an agenda to covert Jews regardless if they admit it or not.
    Those who do not have that agenda who are christian; never open the dialogue in the first place and are oblivious to the fact that christianity and Judaism do not have the same beliefs at all; and are taught that the Jews will never accept jesus, and that G-D will give them a place in the new world and that christians will be raptured up to heaven and rule over Jews, and those who reject the antichrist; and this is what they actually believe.

    I always have the hope that; hopefully I can help educate these people, bring them into the light of the truth, and end antisemitism.

  126. DisappointedHuman says:

    This comment is not for any one specific person, nor is it for the general mass of you – but the one[s] it is directed to will know it when they read it. To the rest who have to even read this, I apologize.
    I want to say I have never been so ashamed to be a part of the human race as I am when I read this diatribe of wolves hovering over their prey. To merely rend with words is truly a powerful thing, and so, to you, I applaud you – isn’t that what you want? You want to have others read your pedantic retorts and give you a clap on the back for putting a Christian in her place – along with her husband… it’s pathetic. If I were your God or Gods, I would deny you. So hey, thank your God tonight that I am not him/her. This can’t possibly REALLY be what your “beliefs” are… IS this what your God teaches you to behave like?? IS this what your “laws” teach you to become? IF IT IS… I am SO glad I am not a part of this ridiculous “class” (I use this word lightly) of people. I see, through people (in some of these comments) that there will NEVER be peace on earth, and I am CERTAIN you will do your best to keep the rift going into whatever “heaven” you end up in. I don’t care what your religion is, I don’t care whether you’re one of the “chosen ones” or not, I don’t care if your God is a cow, man, spirit or fowl… but, I DO care about treating people like they are human beings, which to your unfortunate reality – creates a commonality you can’t EVER get rid of.
    You can’t even call this continued assault, (against a woman who has obviously gotten out of the conversation), a HUMAN behavior – because it’s really not so human at all.
    Enjoy the rest of your meal, wolves.
    You make me wish there really was a hell… so I could tell you to go there.
    You sincerely deserve no less –
    …in my opinion… of course.

    • Thomas says:

      DisappointedHuman, I did not partake in the above conversation, so I think I should weigh in. This dialogue between Jews & Christians can at times be contentious, for many different reasons, and I think that perhaps some commenters on both sides let their tempers flare, and should not have, and I think your comments are out of line as well. You can respectfully tell people their dialogue has veered off-course, and gotten a little testy, but please try to communicate respectfully- just as you are rightfully asking everyone to do.

      For the record, for 90% of the above dialogue, I found the discussion quite civil, engaging and frank. Enjoyable to read.

  127. Leah says:

    I wanted to hear what the first girl was going to say and how you could answer her. She told us she was a notzree and what she believes. I don’t see where the girl Shiela denyed that. I dont see where she lied. We should be able to defend ourselves as observant Jews without these words you have done! Your not doing us good talking like that. You make us look like were are afraid to even hear ohters. I was reading Dr brown to and I didnt read any of you but one Yehuda go there and now all your words? Its not good what your saying and doing. Look now at what you young men have brought. Busha. Busha!

  128. Iti'El says:

    When one is disappointed and angry one must not over react and not let their own rage override and obscure the point or lesson one is attempting to make. For you may be making the same mistakes that the others you accuse have made. To be fair, one must not only look at any negative words, especially when a person is very passionate about their beliefs, but you must also look at theirdefenses and their apologies made during that conversation. Communication is an interaction and in this case it is an open and public dialogue, which even if one does not respond in writing, the person you are addressing may still read and may still choose to respond later or just let it go. Usually in a “debate” or dialogue, one person may choose to end the conversation, but those who still have a lot to say and still want to respond to previous accusations, etc,., did not agree to that end. Plus, some people always want to have the “last word”.

    To be fair, the woman wrote “I’m like a willow; I can bend this way and that….  I’m a prize fighter; I can either duck, block or take it in the face. But, I don’t want to jump out of the ring.”. Is it wrong to assume that that person did not actually mean what they said and did not really want to “debate”? Hardly. But of course, they may change their mind for whatever reason. And the other person will assume what they will as to the reason for the debate.

    I go to a Christian church. I am not a Jew. But I know that many Jews, especially true Orthodox Jews believe in avoiding what is called “Lashon haRa” or the “evil tongue”. One does not gossip. One does not falsely accuse. One does not slander. There are several other aspects, principles, or “laws” against lashon haRa. Quoting from wikipedia, lason hara’s “focus is on the use of true speech for a wrongful purpose, rather than falsehood and harm arising.”.  “Speech is considered to be lashon hara if it says something negative about a person or party, is not previously known to the public, is not seriously intended to correct or improve a negative situation, and is true”. One must ask themselves what was the true purpose of the speech? What is none to be true and what is only assumed? Are apologies in order? And from whom? Maybe not the one or ones that you think or “side” with?

    • Iti'El says:

      So were others not trying to correct or improve a negative situation? Were they not trying to defend themselves and their God from “attack” from an outsider who may or may have been sincere about learning and interacting? Let individuals speak for themselves. And let “judges” judge themselves as well as others that they harshly rage at.

  129. Brian says:

    Disappointed human,
    I was quite civil with my comments, informative direct and honest; nobody expects anyone to hide the fact that they are christian, or has an agenda to covert anyone who is.
    Anyone who wishes to openly and honestly discuss their prospective beliefs need only be straight forward and honest without trying to use deceptive meandering and rhetoric in attempt to lead.
    Nobody Jewish that has posted on this thread views anyone as prey, Jews do not try to convert christians.
    You hide behind a title and make baseless accusations, then you will not even direct them to whom you are inferring; you just expect that someone should know who you are talking about.
    What a dishonest spine less self righteous act of arrogance.
    As far as anyone making continued attacks against Sheila, that simply isn’t true; I personally made a response to a comment of hers, then her husband came back on and made a baseless accusation towards everyone; I responded to his claim, discussion over, and personally I don’t care if he read it or not.

    • thomas says:

      OK everyone, so let’s move past all this nonsense, and continue with the actual discussion here.

      • thomas says:

        I’ll start:

        As rabbi blumenthal wrote above, in the hebrew bible, when God revealed himself to israel, he did it in a national, unmistakeable fashion. Indeed, scripture itself emphasizes this experience (deut 4:33, 5:23). However, proponents of jesus’ divinity say the evidence for that are a handful of verses in the hebrew bible, and the very dubious claim that jesus actually (in some sense) claimed divinity, or at least acted as if he thought he was divine, and his miracles as vindication of those supposed claims. Why is this ‘revelation’ so unclear and so vague, compared to how God taught israel thhe first time (thundering of ‘you shall have no other gods before me’).

        Do proponents of jesus’ divinity believe that the hebrew bible ‘proog texts’ and jesus’ claims to divinity are strong enough, or is there a reason for the lack of clarity from God on this? And if it is unclear, why did God do that (compared to the first time)?

  130. naaria says:

    Interesting points, because clearly the NT pictures Jesus as a new and superior Adam, a new and superior King David, a wiser Solomon, and a “kinder and more gentile God”. Christian scholars often note that Jesus’s miracles are similar to Elijah’s and Elisha’s, but always greater or superior either in quantity or quality. Only Jewish leadership is against (well not ‘just’ sages & Sadducee leaders & Pharisee rabbis. And the Roman authority is seen as nice even to the point where Pilatus appears to be a wimp) is loved by seemingly enormous crowds, but within a few minutes very early one morning, all of an enormous crowd (dozens?) of “Jews” spring up quickly and sudden hate their “beloved king”. And to prove he was “resurrected from the dead” he shows up to only a few, only his own close students and followers. Excuses are given and to why Jesus shows his “godliness” only to the very few and not to his “enemies” and not even to the Roman authorities. Of course, it is a pagan, Roman soldier, who calls Jesus a son of a god. That single, unnamed(?) soldier is meant to represent all of Roman government and the non-Jewish people.

    • naaria says:

      I left out that Jesus is also shown to be a new and much improved Moses and law giver.

      • thomas says:

        Thanks for your insightful post. You wrote that the roman soldier is supposed to represent the non-jewish world. Where is jesus’ self-conscious divinity expressed to israel? From what I read, and the NT is not my expertise, for the record, jesus almost certainly did not regard himself as divine. That, combined with the fact that the hebrew bible not speaking of a divine messiah (despite apologetic claims to the contrary), leads me to conclude that the case for jesus’ divinity are based on two very spurious assumptions (OT proof texts, and jesus’ claims, plus as an addendum- miracles as vindication of those claims). Am I missing something? Clearly a miracle cannot validate a claim which was never made, and if the OT did not speak of a divine messiah at all, it’s difficult to even claim this theology as ‘progressive revelation.’

    • larry says:

      Let’s not forget Paul who some say wrote the magna carta for christianity. He is portrayed as someone who persecutes christians. Then one day has a private revelation from gd, converts, and starts persecuting jews. Why would god send jesus, his son, to hand pick 12 aposotles, to teach personally, and later say, oops, I missed one, and then send Paul to teach the gentiles, write the magna carta for christianity, perform the same miracles as Peter, the first Pope of the catholic church? breether. In the mean time, after one of the original 12 kills himself, the remain 11 have a meeting to choose a replacement. They chose Matthias. If I remember correctly he also traveled with Jesus and the 12 aposotles, knew Jesus teaching as good as them selves.

  131. Annelise says:

    Hi Thomas, I think there would be a couple of things more to consider. The fact that the gospels do not portray Jesus bodily asking people to bow and worship him as God could just as well demonstrate the way God doesn’t want to be worshiped that way, if he came in the person of the Messiah. What if people worshiped him in the smallness of Jesus’ body, forgetting that he is the one who created the heavens and earth? This doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be incredibly important to accept this gift if he really did give it, and to know him in this new thing he had done, this way he intended to be followed in. If it’s true that God came in this way and suffered beyond words, allowing the Temple’s veil to be torn, then this would not be a distasteful thing or make him small. It would be to his endless glory, and our deepest worship.

    That’s only a possibility, not a certain proof, but it is something that the New Testament authors seemed aware of in the curious way they spoke of Jesus. Remember that the Gospels were written a little after the letters, and that Luke at least was written by someone in close contact with Paul.

    If Jesus was raised from the dead, this would be a unique kind of miracle, especially because it’s said he was put to death because of unlawfulness. Also, he is recorded as prophesying that the good news of his kingdom would be spread throughout the nations, and he definitely believed that God’s kingdom was at hand through his own lordship in it. If most of Christianity is wrong to the point of idolatry, his prophesy there is not true. So the miracles both in his time and through history (there are countless sincere Christians who can tell you about these even now, whatever they mean) are important. There’s a big issue in the way politics and culture have corrupted or confused many aspects of Christianity, but if Jesus really was bringing in the kingdom of God (both by redeeming humanity from sin by his death, and by saying he would return to restore Israel), there only recipients of this good news throughout time have been largely believing that God came by way of Jesus, the son of God and son of man. The miracles, especially the resurrection of Jesus, would relate directly to the late first century (at least) claim of Jesus’ divinity because of the nature of Jesus’ intentions.

    • Thomas says:

      But that’s just the problem about the resurrection (or any of his claimed miracles). First, as you know, a miracle by itself cannot prove the divinity of the subject (Deut 13). Secondly, much of the issue is whether Jesus ever believed himself to be divine in the first place- a question that is far from a given. Certainly, if he did not believe himself to be divine (or make such a claim, explicitly or implicitly), the resurrection cannot by nature validate his claim- because he did not make the claim in the first place! I am in no position to know what Jesus believed (obviously nobody is), but I think the resurrection’s relevance is far overstated, given that it is far from obvious what Jesus ever believed about himself – or claimed about himself – in the first place. I’m being perhaps a bit generous here, because I think, from what I have read, there is much better evidence that he did not believe himself to be divine, but that’s a side note.

      As well, obviously I do not accept the resurrection as history, not because of anything related to historical evidence, but rather because the “a priori” evidence (the Hebrew Bible not speaking of a divine messiah, and a high likelihood that Jesus did not claim it either) makes the resurrection far less likely as ‘proof’ of his divinity.

      As a sidepoint, neither son of god nor son of man were terms which implied divinity in the Hebrew Bible. That’s more of a tangent, but related to Jesus’ self-consciousness.

      On another note, your first comment is quite interesting, but I wonder if many Christians would accept that. You wrote: “The fact that the gospels do not portray Jesus bodily asking people to bow and worship him as God could just as well demonstrate the way God doesn’t want to be worshiped that way, if he came in the person of the Messiah. What if people worshiped him in the smallness of Jesus’ body, forgetting that he is the one who created the heavens and earth.” So does that mean God did not want people worshipping Jesus in the flesh (if only because they would ‘miss the big picture?’) Firstly, I would say that Jesus not asking people to worship him (or more accurately perhaps, not even acting as if he thought he were divine) implies that he did not think he was divine at all. Perhaps it is possible that Jesus is divine despite not knowing it, but the likelier option is him simply not being divine in the first place.

      So are you suggesting that God wanted to teach Israel that Jesus was God incarnate, and in the process of teaching that, he wanted to make sure nobody actually worshipped Jesus in the flesh because it would make people forget the ‘big picture’? Surely you can see how that is problematic for anyone, especially someone who believes God already did ‘reveal’ Himself to Israel, in a straightforward manner. To make Jesus’ message clearer (and to avoid confusion), God makes the message more vague?

      As I wrote in a comment above (in a different blog post), I have seen defenders of Jesus’ divinity call the NT evidence “bread crumbs.” They essentially say that, for whatever reason, the NT leaves “bread crumbs” which point to Jesus’ divinity. which they say is evidence nonetheless. The problem, of course, with that rationale, is that from the Hebrew Bible’s perspective, idolatry is a terrible sin where the penalty is death, and certainly, if Jesus is not God, worship of him is idolatry. So in total contrast to the Hebrew Bible, where God teaches Israel that they are to worship Him and no other, all God leaves in the future are isolated passages in the Hebrew Bible, statements from Jesus himself where it far from clear that he was claiming divinity for himself, and a resurrection that is supposed to validate a claim that was perhaps never made at all? Is it possible? Perhaps. But surely you can see why that the evidence for Jesus’ divinity is too tenuous and too unclear to be good enough to encourage worship of him.

  132. Annelise says:

    Thanks Thomas. I recognise the magnitude of everything you’ve written there.

    My intention isn’t to answer all of the questions in one sweep, as you present some of them here; it’s just to look more closely at the thoughts you raised in the comment before. This won’t settle the discussion, but I think it is important for the sake of integrity, and of doing justice to these thoughts with all the time that is spent considering them.

    I know that a miracle, real or perceived, can prove neither divinity nor the fact that someone is sent from God. I still think it’s an important part of the picture. If there is any sincerity in the gospel accounts and the historical echoes (especially in the letters) of the earliest church, the disciples had almost certainly experienced some of these things, though the discipline of history isn’t qualified to comment on the certainty of miracles. I know that you don’t recognise the resurrection as history, and this isn’t the place to have a real historical discussion about people’s current opinions about that. The things I wrote were just working with your hypothetical, and the conclusion drawn from it (“Clearly a miracle cannot validate a claim which was never made.”), and I think there’s validity to my thoughts on that small subject. The claims that Jesus is recorded to have made draw the events that followed them into the validity of the predictions he made about the kingdom that is both among his people, and coming to them.

    I think the stated importance of the resurrection comes from two reasons. First, the unique nature of this belief, that God raised Jesus from death. (You see here the relationship within persons in God, which is a big issue itself, but which I think should be left aside for a moment here.) If Jesus was condemned as a false Messiah at least, then this resurrection it important. Second, if this is true, it is a unique miracle, especially in the absence of a ‘miracle worker’. It would be a valid sign, even if it needs to be attested by God himself in other ways. It would at least explain the early church. If Jesus is still alive today, that means something about the kingdom he presented; in some detail, if you’ve read the gospels recently.

    I know that ‘son of God’ and ‘son of man’ weren’t in themselves divine titles; I used them as far as I’m aware they were meant. Your points about the Hebrew Bible not talking about a divine Messiah (in a way we all accept, at least), and about Jesus perhaps not claiming it either, are still good. As to the thought about Jesus not being worshiped in the flesh (to be read, ‘towards his body’, if that makes sense), I have no doubt that many Christians don’t agree with that. I’m not quite sure whether the New Testament writers would have agreed with it, if we knew they believed he was God and could ask them to answer me on this. I do know that Jesus is spoken of as a real human, which in itself means submission to the Father, and also as the eternal one who is to be honoured to a high degree and to whose name every knee will bow. Just within Paul’s letters, consider 1 Corinthians 8:6, Philippians 1:11, Galatians 1:3-5, 1 Corinthians 3:23, 11:3, and 15:28, Philippians 1:19 and 4:19, 23, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6 and 8:9, Philippians 2:6-7, Romans 8:35, 2 Corinthians 13:5 and 11:2-3, and tell me what you think he believed. These are verses I’ve been thinking about lately. As to Jesus not asking people to worship him, the Messiah was always going to be humble and not self-aggrandising. If he was God, coming (again, considering the relationship understood within God) as the Son of God, then by taking on humanity he also took on humility. Does this mean that by nature he ceased to be God? If there is more to God than simply being the definition of ‘not created’, then maybe the answer is yes. If he made a way for Israel to accept it, then they could know it, and for me that is the bigger question in the same way as you raise it. Though Jesus asked people to accept him as Messiah even before his death and resurrection, on the basis of coming to know and recognise him.

    So I accept the importance of your other points, but to stay with this one for a moment, I don’t think I agree with this conclusion: “Clearly a miracle cannot validate a claim which was never made, and if the OT did not speak of a divine messiah at all, it’s difficult to even claim this theology as ‘progressive revelation.'” I think that the two thoughts I raised are important to your awareness of what the New Testament may be teaching here.

    • Annelise says:

      When speaking of the huge humility of Jesus if he is God having chosen to live among us, I was thinking of Isaiah 40: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Have you not been told from the very first? Have you not discerned how the earth was founded? It is he who is enthroned above the vault of the earth, so that its inhabitants seem as grasshoppers.” If you look at the passage in Philippians 2, and likewise elsewhere, you see that if Christianity early proclaimed Jesus as himself being personally Immanuel, they remained aware (rather often) of the fact that God is enthroned above the earth. Christians and various traditions may forget this, but it is there in the New Testament at least.

    • Annelise says:

      *”If there is more to God than simply being the definition of ‘not created’, then maybe the answer *isn’t* yes.”

  133. Blasater says:

    Naaria- I am glad you brought the point about Jesus being a better Adam. Or as Paul says, the last Adam. This is something that has bothered me for a while.

    Adam HaRishon was formed by G-d directly. The last Adam is formed by G-d taking a mans married wife? And impregnating her (not physically per Chrisitan teaching) ?

    If a Jewish man, had taken Mary and impregnated her, he would have been stoned for adultery and fornication! But it is somehow okay for G-d (G-d forbid) to do it?

    If a sinless human was G-ds goal in the last Adam, he would have formed him from the earth like the first Adam and THEN plugged in his god nature….

    But no…we have a god-man, born from a mortal woman who is married to a man. That, no matter how you slice it, is immoral.

  134. Brian says:

    I have a question,
    There are literally thousands upon thousands of Greek text, with a variety of topics and stories which are not included in the NT canon such as: The book of Thomas, The Gospel of Thomas, The books of clement, and the list goes on and on.
    Understandably the material is so vast most likey nobody would ever live long enough to cover all of it; Why is it none of this is taken into consideration by christians?
    I am not trying to go off topic, I was just curious.

    • Blasater says:

      I think the simple answer is that the early church reviewed all those and if they saw something int he text that appeared to be of Gnostic origin…they rejected it. Even though, often times the same exact themes and sentences are in the canonized books!

  135. Thomas says:

    Thanks again Annelise. With regards to your last paragraph, where you disagree with a couple points I made: I maintain those comments, but perhaps I can modify it a bit in this dialogue- the resurrection’s relevance re: divinity of Jesus relies heavily (perhaps entirely) on Jesus’ own claims (explicit or implicit), and even before that, the teachings of the Hebrew Bible. I think we would both agree that any miracle claim is – at least – in large part dependent on its context- that’s perhaps the reason it is of little interest for our discussion to attempt to debunk miracle claims by Hindus, Mormons (they have quite impressive evidence for their golden plates story, interestingly), Muslims or New Agers. It’s because we recognize (biblically, certainly, but also rationally) that a miracle is dependent on its context. So it is in that vein that I say the resurrection’s relevance is vastly overstated, because it is dependent on the Hebrew Bible’s teaching, and Jesus’ claims (either explicit or implicit). If those 2 items do not exist, I have difficulty seeing the strength of the resurrection claim, and how it is evidence in favour of Jesus’ divinity. As I wrote above, I think item 1 &2 render the resurrection less likely as a result, and even if it were a real event, I don’t think it proves as much as one might suggest.

    You wrote: “If he was God, coming (again, considering the relationship understood within God) as the Son of God, then by taking on humanity he also took on humility. Does this mean that by nature he ceased to be God? If there is more to God than simply being the definition of ‘not created’, then maybe the answer isn’t yes” (I fixed the typo here- I figured that was what you meant)

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “considering the relationship understood within God,” but the rest of that point is really more of an internal question for Christian theologians, not for me. You are probably aware of the debate among Christians about whether Jesus did not have some divine attributes during his time on earth (kenosis). So while that’s an interesting debate among Christians, I think it’s a bit tangential to this discussion- which is: how did God expect Israel to identify Him? In the Hebrew Bible, He goes out of His way to make it direct. Traditional Christology suggests almost the complete opposite. I also don’t know what you mean by “God coming as the Son of God,” considering that, as you acknowledge, Son of God, unlike God the Son, does not imply divinity.

    Also, when you write: “If there is more to God than simply being the definition of ‘not created’…”), I think it gets off-topic. The question is not a philosophical debate about God’s nature- it’s about what was commanded. So who knows what is there is “to God” or not? No person does. The objection Jews have is that God did not command the worship of Jesus as Christology demands. But that point above also is in the theoretical (“what if”). We can take the ‘what if’ road forever, but it takes us far off-course, I think, into irrelevancy. Anything is possible, and when we take the ‘what if’ road, there is absolutely no reason to stop- it will continue forever.

    This blog had a post recently called ‘Forms of communication’ which touches on God’s revelation, and there’s an analogy which help clarifies it. God says in the OT “Worship no one but me,” and in the NT, we are told that Jesus falls into that category of legitimate worship, and that Jesus is that same “me.” But what good evidence is there that this is what God commanded Israel? There’s no doubt that this is a radical departure from everything the OT teaches, and everything Israel ever knew about who they were to worship. I honestly have difficulty seeing how the resurrection claim can overwhelm both the lack of OT teaching about a divine messiah, and the lack of clear teaching (or clear evidence that this is even what Jesus believed). Those 2 items would need to be demonstrated before miracle claims can be called upon as supporting evidence. I don’t think we really disagree that any miracle claims are in large part dependent on the initial claims made (ie. you wrote: “The miracles… would relate directly to the late first century (at least) claim of Jesus’ divinity because of the nature of Jesus’ intentions.”) So I think we are in agreement that Jesus’ intentions are relevant here- the disagreement seems to be that you believe Jesus believed himself to be divine, and expressed that in some sense. My point, of course, is that this cannot be assumed, and even *if* it were the case, it remains troubling why Israel was never taught such a thing in the Hebrew Bible, especially considering they would find it so objectionable.

    Christian scholarship on this subject tends to be along the lines of that Jesus devotion is still monotheism because the early Christians thought that worship of God the Father required devotion to Jesus. The whole point, though, is on what basis should a Jew – who was commanded by ‘God the Father’ to worship no one but Him – accept Jesus as a rightful recipient of that worship as God Himself? This was something Israel had never been taught before, and something that this ‘recipient of worship’ possibly didn’t advocate himself, either.
    I’ll say that, based on my understanding of God’s teachings to Israel in the Hebrew Bible, the case for Jesus’ divinity should have been taught in some sense in the Hebrew Bible, Jesus should have been far clearer about who he thought he was, and any miracles should certainly have been witnessed by the entirety of Israel, as with the Sinai experience. In an early post above, Yehuda posts his interaction with a popular apologist on this subject- the answer he receives is essentially ‘who are you to question God?’ We are not questioning God- simply raising the point that God in the Hebrew Bible makes it clear to Israel who they are to worship, and the evidence for Jesus’ divinity does come anywhere close to those standards.

    When I say “should have been,” I am not demanding God reveal Himself according to my standards, but rather- according to God’s own standards in the Hebrew Bible. When He says “worship no one but me,” there is no doubt about who “He” is, and yet when it comes to God’s ‘later revelation,’ it’s like night and day.

    It’s not a matter of whether Jesus-worship is a violation of worship of God or monotheism, because it all depends on whether Jesus was actually divine or not. If he was, then it’s acceptable; if not, then it’s idolatry. It’s not about whether Jesus, as a human, could be divine and human simultaneously. It’s about why God – who went to such pains in the Hebrew Bible to warn that only He should be worshipped, shares nothing about this otherwise shocking, unexpected future revelation, and why it cannot be said that even Jesus himself believed it. All suggestions to the contrary, to me, look more like attempts to philosophically square how it is all possible, but I don’t see at all how, given these details, Jesus being God is the likeliest of options at all. As was discussed before here, I highly doubt many Christians would accept this evidence if being asked to incorporate a 4th member of the godhead into their worship.

  136. naaria says:

    Blasater at 20 Jan, 11:04.  The concept of an “holy spirit impregnated” or “over-shadowed” woman as a “sinless” act is very problematic, but one that some early Christians felt was necessary in order to have a being that somehow was “100% man” (although a clone or one with “only 1/2 the genetic material of man”?) that would be capable of sin, if he had chosen to do so.  And according to the definition of sin, the NT Jesus was a sinner. In most ancient religions or myths, human  gods or godesses, may come down from heaven for only a very short period of time.  A god, healer, or magi-magician, may be a stranger who comes from who-knows-where and leaves to who-knows-where or heaven.  A true mystery and not a stranger but yet an ordinary man.  

    Because of the questionable nature of the NT text, one can not really know what Jesus really said or did. Nor even if he were a man that a few human knew or a spirit that some people “experienced”.  Some Christian scholars believe Paul’s Jesus was only a spirit. The NT does speak of other beliefs about the nature of Jesus, which echoes some of both heretical and “orthodox” or acceptable non-canonical writings.  We know that some early Christians (considered as cult members, sects, or heretics which include Gnostics, both gnostic and non-gnostic Ebionites and Nazarenes, Naasenes, Marcionites, John the Baptist cults, and several others) believed that Jesus was not a human and never lived, died, or suffered (and not a Jew) and only a spirit.  Or, some believed that Jesus was a relatively ordinary man who became divine at his resurrection; or others believed divinity happened at his death; or it happened at the transfiguration (big change); or at baptism or birth or coception or before the “foundations of the world”.  Some of those heretical sects have been re-established today, especially after the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  But let’s put all that problematic birth of Christianity and the NT text aside and accept the NT as it is today and assume it is true history.  Of course this will upset many who believe in a Rabbi Yeshua and a “Rav Shaul” because of the “baggage” of all the “Constantine and Greek Jesus” that is captured within the NT texts.  And the great silence or lack of writing  of “Yeshua” followers for over 50-70 or even 100 years in the late 1st century c.e. to mid to late 2nd century c.e when we see a small movement or small number of Christians in Rome, Egypt, Syria, Antioch, or Caesarea.

    Paul and the new man? There is a new or re-vitalized movement called the “One New Man” movement.  I know somethings about it, but I will not comment on it until I have read a book that I picked up at a conference that Jonathan Bernis (“JV” Ministries) spoke at.

  137. Blasater says:

    Naaria- very good follow up thought…thanks. Since you mentioned Paul and the new man…

    Have you noticed that even though Paul (and the church) rails against the law, saying that he is dead to the law and alive in grace.., grace essentialy nullifying the law, that Paul then demands and lays out his own law? That if his follows do these things…they are acting according to the flesh and can not enter the kingdom of heaven? Paul is very inconsistent in this regard…not even cogent really. Paul says: “23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify…..Then he says this:

    5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. And this:

    8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And this:

    20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God…..And this:

    4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

    So Paul says that through the law (Jewish Law)…no flesh is justified….but then says: All things are lawful…but not edifying…..then He lays down a NEW law…the law of Paul….and if you do THOSE things….no heaven for you!

  138. Thomas says:

    I should emphasize that I lightly touch upon the NT not because I am an expert in it (I am not), but because it is the base text for belief in Christology. But what is important is that to begin with the NT is to put the cart before the horse. Just as if a Mormon were trying to persuade you that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, you would likely want to start with the NT, to see whether Joseph Smith’s teachings are congruent with that text (not so much in terms of outright contradictions, but in terms of whether the NT left open the door for Smith’s prophetic ministry, or whether it is merely shoehorned in).

    The same goes for our discussion. Discussing the resurrection is dependent on Jesus’ claims (or more accurately, his self-consciousness), and that, of course, is dependent on the OT teaching on the subject. Is it possible to hold to traditional Christology and the resurrection while recognizing the first 2 facts? Perhaps. But the first 2 facts will certainly decrease the odds of the resurrection, and certainly rob it of much of its ‘value’ in validating Jesus’ divinity.

    B. Witherington (NT scholar) wrote what is fairly common for trinitarian theologians to say when he said the following (you wrote much the same when you suggested that Jesus had to be humble in his claims:

    “If he had simply announced, ‘Hi, folks’ I’m God,’ that would have been heard as ‘I’m Yahweh,’ because the Jews of his day didn’t have any concept of the Trinity. They only knew of God the Father – whom they called Yahweh – and not God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. So if someone were to say he was God, that wouldn’t have made any sense to them and would have been seen as clear-cut blasphemy.”

    Again, the couple points here are that I remain unconvinced that Jesus believed he was divine at all- not merely that he was humble in making them.

    The real problem, though, is the issue that because Jews would see Jesus’ divinity as blasphemy, God – instead of teaching this earlier in the OT – decided to make the claim vaguer (assuming Jesus made the claim at all). Not only is that morally objectionable, but biblically as well. In the OT, God demanded Israel worship Him and no other- and to teach Israel this, He ‘revealed’ Himself to Israel in a direct manner, to the entire nation.

    That is the basis of Jewish belief, and the basis on which to start. So I cannot accept even your modest proposal that Jesus’ humility was necessary in teaching he was divine – because I think it’s at least as likely that Jesus’ humility was because he didn’t believe it himself.

  139. Annelise says:

    Thank you. Forgive me if I seem to be making a big deal out of minute points, as if they answered the bigger questions. My feeling is only that, in the last two months or so as I’ve been following this blog and also a Facebook page with similar discussions, sometimes the same big points keep being given in near-identical form even when the discussion on those points has been challenged or nuanced in a way that should be considered. Of course, if the objections aren’t considered valid then the points still stand with strength, but the impression I am getting is of two monolithic fields of discussion that cannot meet or change each other with anything like the rapidity and depth that goes into people’s countless comments. I see two main answers to this: an emphasis on clarity over depth as the starting point (as Rabbi Yisroel puts it), and an ability to wisely hone in on individual points when weight is unnecessarily placed on them. This is not a comment about any of your points, and I know that my comments are tangential (it’s hard not to be), but in general I don’t think it’s best to keep presenting a comprehensive argument without suspending it when necessary and delving into its particulars for wisdom. This is vital to our sensitivity to truth, hopefully for some clarity to be found that changes all sides to come closer to articulating truth (clearly) as it stands.

    That said, I agree with your contextualisation of my comments, and am devoted to considering them with integrity. I do still hold that if the resurrection points to Jesus being the Messiah, then if it did happen that would complete change the evidence we are looking for about Jesus’ divinity. We aren’t looking at probability here so much as possibility and certainty, since God said, “as the heavens are high above the earth, so are my ways high above your ways and my plans above your plans.” Wisdom knows it: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” So I’ll agree with you that while there is still so much to be discussed about all the points you and others have raised, and they can’t be considered perfect observations just because there are too many to address well, it would be best here to go back to the Hebrew scriptures; especially the Torah. Did God make it clear that he would not do something like coming himself as the Messiah? Or is it so neglected, with so much said about God being different to creation, that ‘progressive revelation’ has little to stand on?

    This needs to be understood in terms of individual verses or passages, and also the big picture. Commandments, narrative, poetry, and prophecy are all very important in understanding what God has revealed of his nature and his relationship with Israel, though commandments are clearest and bear the most weight. It is hard to consider individual verses, because any apologist can create a satisfactory interpretation of those within his own intricate framework. We still need to, but for now I want to ask a broader question that I’ve been considering.

    When God made a covenant with Israel, you were able then to come into much closer relationship with him than anyone outside the covenant could be, being consecrated to him and set apart. This law is a gift of life, a light on the ways in which God desired you to follow and know him. It also came with curses, where not only did God require a repentant heart, but he also required atonement for every sin that was done in such a context of his holiness. These sacrifices were sometimes by blood, and sometimes not, but they symbolised the fact that Israel was given holiness not by her own merit but by grace whenever she came to God in obedience.

    Many prophecies understand the way Israel will one day come into a much deeper perfection of holiness before God and among the nations, in a way that blesses the world. God seems to plan a day when his holy ones have access to his own presence among them, and the joy of not being caught up in national sin; instead, following the commandments given by God with justice and sincere relationship with him on a greater and national level. I know that none of this points exclusively to Jesus, and that there are many other points to pull into a discussion that applies them to him; you can see that I’m thinking of how the veil was torn in the Temple at Jesus’ death. But for a moment, for understanding of what the scriptures are broadly pointing to: by what atonement do you think this new holiness and consecration, according to the law, will be imputed to Israel when the Messiah comes? If God desires his holy ones to have new access to him in this way, with joy and life even in such close awareness of his holiness, how will he impute his own righteousness to the nation? I’d love it if you answered this not with immediate reference to Jesus but as something I’m genuinely curious to understand more deeply.

  140. naaria says:

    “as the heavens are high above the earth, so are my ways high above your ways and my plans above your plans”. So let us not retreat into the more primitive beliefs about God. If there is progressive revelation, it does little good to return to those pagan ideas or get “stuck” in those revelations that were given 2000 years to those who knew not God and who were ignorant of God’s ways. Man has advanced little since that time and this closed minded approach, as if their “world shattering” insight or “light” was the ultimate of revelations, given “once and for all”, has brought about not only long periods of stagnation but long dark ages of horrendous times of regression with increased superstition, violence, hatred of education and of wisdom, and inhumanity to our neighbors.

    Revelation is growth and it builds upon itself. There were basic building blocks given to us while at the same time we seen what old ways needed to be discarded. Of course, what is foundational must remain; those basic building blocks are required to build upward or move forward. There are several lessons that the man learned in Genesis and parts of the Torah that are foundational to, but in man’s “wisdom” they reject those truths. We might speak of a “higher” theology, but if we had learned these basics, then somewhere along the line we discarded them.

    For instance, we were taught God made man in God’s likeness to be partners with God and to muliply and to live life on this earth and to keep it. We were told that if all possibilities are available to us, we could choose to sin (miss the mark of our “target”), but we could also choose not to, choose not be victims of our own actions, and the “blind fates” did not control our lives. We are the “children of God”, which does not mean that God is a human nor that we are divine beings (nor that the only way to have this type of relationship to God is if God “conceives” a child as humans do (maybe a virginal way?) because our small minds know that is how our children come about. But instead of the pagan way of a god in the image of man, it is humans in the “spiritual image” of God. But some taught that the gods & fates not only have little use for humans (fallen, hopelessly corrupt) but that there is also evil and war even in the heavenlies. We are told that God was One, a universal God, a creator of all things and all spirits. The Hebrews began to accept that idea and they rejected the “Caanaanites” way. But what we keep going back to is a more primitive polytheism. Different aspects of the world echo the different gods (a goddesses of war, a god of healing, a god of rainfall, god a father, a god a son of the father, etc) or different aspects or persons of god. We say persons of god, because we reject the revelation of God within all persons (only accepting one unique divine son instead of the many ordinary people, human sons of God in the bible). “Resurrection points to Jesus” as it did also to Augustus Caesar, Nebuchanezzar, and several other human king-gods and many “divine god-men.

    Words mean something. We confuse and perhaps we lie to others or ourselves when we misuse words; when we are ignorant of or maybe we forgot the definition of words given us by the bible, by God. Hopefully, wrong words are not used to deceive. The word prophet has some meaning. A certain type of person with certain special qualities or one who does certain things can be a prophet. But while a prophet can be a person sent or chosen by God. But there can be false prophets, although people might believe them to be true prophets. An object or a person could be anointed. An anointed person, in effect, has a relationship to God. A messiah often refers to a special person chosen by God to do certain things in the world. But a messiah can fail. “The Messiah” is a concept by humans of a human who will accomplish certain tasks on earth. God is not a messiah and calling God a messiah makes no sense. It is a misapplication of the term. It decreases God in a way. Now we might call God a rock, but God isn’t really a rock. What we mean is that there is some quality or attribute in rocks that is similiar to some quality we sense in God. But most of the attributes of a rock do not apply to God. We can use a sledge hammer or dynamite to reduce a rock to dust. Might call God a king, but don’t take that literally. In many ways God is the opposite of a king. God was not King David & David was not God. Nor was God the king of Sodom. But a king is “at the top”. That is something different from the idea of a messiah and especially of “The Messiah”. A Messiah is chosen by God and has no power other than the ordinary human attributes or powers, except those that are given by God so that one acts in a human or earthly way. A messiah is not “at the top” and is more of a servant that takes orders. The messiah is a “method”, not the focus of worship. Not really a representative and not an intermediary. A messiah is not actually needed and is a distraction or obstacle, according to how most people perceive the “end times”. According to one survey, most Americans believe that when they die their spirit goes straight to heaven. If so, why would they need the idea of resurrection in their theology?? Or maybe, it is like saying that a baseball doesn’t need wings to fly through the air. But if there is to be a chicken, then there has got to be wings. No I need a better analogy.

    Many people see One-ness, while to others that is “over their heads”, because they see a dualistic world and therefore their heaven is dualistic. They believe in a malevolent, evil universe with an evil god warring against a good god. The Hebrew bible says God looked at the creation and called it good and humans were like God and very good. Others see creation as an evil and not therefore not really created by a good god. Flesh is anti-spirit and controlled by an evil spirit (but not the mind or heart?). There are demons all around (but they need to balance that out with personal angels). Some people search in the bible for any hint of hopelessly “fallen” man, while rejecting God’s verses of the human possibility for holiness and righteousness. They seek an intermediary and an authoritarian idea of a priest, while rejecting the democratic idea of a “nation of priests” and a whole nation of people that God sees as a Son (or a daughter as well). Some speak of “chosenness” condescendingly & enviously, but they don’t understand the concept. And they likewise dismiss what it takes to be chosen. It is easier to re-shape god to your way of thinking, then to shape yourself to God’s way. If one rejects God’s Torah, why do they want that God? They may speak of a “torn curtain” as an opening up of the “Holies”, but then they speak of a narrow way and “no way but”. For “all”, but only by “faith” or if one believes the “right way”, which is a way they can’t agree on. Actually that “curtain” was really a wall that the Jews put up to keep the Roman ruler from peering into the temple from their porches, etc. But that is another story.

    I haven’t read these scholarly Christian books in years (nor completely). But similar issues can be found in a book entitled something like “Creation and the Persistence of Evil” and “Hebrew Thought Compared to Greek”.

    So a messiah. then if it did happen that would complete change the evidence we are looking for about Jesus’ divinity. We

    • larry says:

      naaria: I should keep my mouth shut but sometimes I just want to say, that is incrediably insightful. As are many post here.

  141. naaria says:

    Ignore the last paragraph above, which was a quote from someone’s earlier post that I wanted to respond to, but I did not have the time. “If”? Or if not. “Evidence”? No. Divinity? Why separate that from the One, an agreed upon divinity?

  142. thomas says:

    Thanks naaria for your thoughts as well.

    Annelise- regarding ways are not my ways- obviously many other verses extolling the value of wisdom and knowledge can be cited, but it’s not a relevant point for a few reasons:

    1/ we are not questioning God, and dealing only in the practical, not the theoretical (ie who should I worship). Our concern is not the ways God runs the world – rather, what He expects of us.

    2/ I am seeking to see whether it is more likely that God would change his entire MO from a national direct teaching on the matter to a vague hint later on, especially considering how he knew israel would see this as blasphemous. This seems infinitely less likely than any alternative.

    3/ the reasoning of who can know does not help us get anywhere, and it certainly leaves no reason to stop at christianity. After all, god can teach one thing repeatedly, and then reveal more later that seems to go against everything he ever said.

    But to the point:

    As for the hebrew bible, of course- that’s where we need to start. But where do you think the OT teaches that god is the messiah? Certainly the jews in jesus’ time saw that belief as idolatrous, so that’s a clear sign that they knew nothing of this. But still- I am interested to hear where the OT teaches that the messiah is god.

    But even more foundational than that, god rails against idolatry- but how does he expect us to identify him? What standards does he give us in the first place? this is where I think we need to think and see what the OT says before going further. As I asked above, can a miracle that, unlike sinai, the nation does not witness, overwhelm the lack of God’s teaching God himself is the messiah? On what basis? Does the OT say this? who determines the quality of the miracle? Why not the mormon golden plates- arguably better evidence, with a dozen signed witnesses who, despite falling outs with joseph smith and the church, never recanted? Why not that? Of course it is because context matters in miracles (deut 13). A miracle on its own cannot overwhelm everything in its path, at least not as far as anything I have ever read in the OT.

    This comment is written on a blackberry, so apologies for the poor writing.

    But yes- you are correct- we need to start at the Hebrew Bible, so kindly show me where it is written that the messiah is God. That would certainly be a required first step. But it is not up to me to show that the OT says God ‘won’t’ do something- just as the OT does not say many things- it is up to you to show me where God says he *will.* I am not making the positive case- you are, so I await your OT scriptural evidence. Only when that is provided can your case begin.

  143. Vaughn says:

    I started reading this thread, going back Dr. Brown’s blog, when it first appeared here in 1000 verses, With only a little time to read each day I finally caught up to the discussion in the past few days. To avoid feeling like a lurker, I thought I’d make a comment.

    I am very interested in the “debate” which has covered a number of topics. It currently seems to centred around two things: 1) Is it possible Jesus was divine?, 2) Would someone before Jesus, with just the Tenach, be surprised by the concept of the Christan Messiah?

    Is this correct? What do you suppose the thread will cover going forward? Is Dr. Brown and Rabbi Blumenthal going continue their exchanges here as well?

  144. thomas says:

    Vaughn, just my thoughts on your point #1. My concern is not whether jesus’ divinity is ‘possible’ or not – theoretically anything is possible. I don’t mean to sound nit-picky, but the distinction is important. Is jesus’ divinity truly the likeliest option, given that the OT does not speak of god as the messiah, and considering how jesus’ own self-consciousness is an open question. So while I deem it certainly possible, given that that the OT doesn’t say it, and perhaps neither does jesus, it is not the likeliest option.

  145. Annelise says:

    Hi Vaughn, I think that you’re right, with Thomas’ qualification included.

    Thomas, I pretty much agree with you, and actually only referred to those verses to raise the bar on one of your requirements of Christianity. I don’t think ‘likelihood’ or ‘probability’ are an acceptable basis for belief in Jesus, though in discussion they may point to something important. What we need is certainty, considering the Tanach and the new revelation together. I will try and respond to your question very soon, though I’m still trying to understand parts of it; I may not be the best person to bring an answer.

    I would still like to hear your thoughts about my question (the last two paragraphs… sorry it took so long to get to it!), but in light of Vaughn’s insight I agree that your question comes first. I just feel that in the meantime, it is always good to gain a deeper understanding of the scriptures and of each other’s understanding of the big themes at hand. But I’ll think some more and reply to some extent when I have more time, if I can.

  146. naaria says:

    One thing that is certain, is that no one has presented a new revelation. Those few who may have sought innovations, as the historian Josephus explained it had failed. Rather then becoming free they were slaughtered or made slaves. Many were silenced and they disappeared. Rather than the temple being cleansed, it was virtually destroyed. Eighty to one hundred years later, other peoples picked up some of the stories and presented new personal “revelations” and belief systems based on the traditions of men. With many different people believing that the received the “gift of prophecy”, division and heresy reigned for another 150-200 years. They thought all the problems were solved; they thought all questions were answered, but the churches remained divided into 3 or 4 Orthodoxies, until another 1000 years when the Roman Orthodox Church was split again. And those who protested and rejected the “received traditions”, the “true revelations”, brought about even greater divisions. The “one true way” somehow got lost in a widerness of many different, competing “true ways”, where many believe that they are the keepers of the original “revelation”, “the one true church”. Proclaiming a progressive revelation, while at the same time rejecting it and proclaiming they are the true conservatives, the true keepers of the unchanged “new revelation”.

  147. Thomas says:

    Thanks again. Regarding possibility or likelihood, we can really use any term we like, but the issue is the same- there is an either/or decision- divinity or not (of course, the same goes for any religious claim, and we choose ‘No’ for other religions’ claims, so it’s not exclusive here- clearly we believe that the odds are low that Muhammad or Joseph Smith are God’s last prophets- or at least low enough to not accept their claims). So we can use any word we want, but we are obviously saying the same thing.

    As for your last paragraph, if you are asking how the Hebrew Scriptures say Israel will achieve atonement in the messianic age, I think the basic question is whether the Hebrew Bible tells us there will be a radical change in the atonement formula (in other words, did it change from before? And the question at hand, of course, is- how was atonement achieved? Were sacrifices essential, etc?). Isaiah 53 is often cited here as an example, but as Walter Brueggemann wrote in his commentary, (paraphrased), there is a widely-agreed position that Isaiah 53’s theological statements are rather minimal. And that’s one of the only (perhaps THE only) OT verse used to claim a new atonement program in the messianic age, so hard to believe God placed a single chapter as the entire new teaching on the subject, in contrast to everything else previously taught.

    There are of course also verses in Ezekiel speaking of the ‘prince’ bringing a sin offering for himself (perhaps that is the messiah). Anyway, I think you’re asking a bit of an open-ended question, and I think that the real question/issue is related to atonement in general, and only then can we ask whether the OT describes any kind of a radical departure during the messianic reign.

    As for the next step re: divinity of Jesus, yes, if/when you have time, discussion of where (if anywhere) the OT teaches the messiah being god, would need to be the first step for any discussion on the matter.

  148. Annelise says:

    Okay. You have good points there. I do think that the Tanach speaks a lot about a time when the nation will live without the devastation of sin among them, in a new kind of righteousness based on God’s renewed covenant with Israel. Some of the experiences of people being not only forgiven by God in repentance, but also allowed into a closer place of his holiness (which he clearly desires and intends for Israel, and for all people through your nation), do seem to indicate that God himself atones for them in a deeper way… though I am still trying to understand where this comes from. I like your idea of focusing on the big question for now, as it is at the heart of my faith and I need to have an answer for it. At the moment I can only follow my conscience in sensitivity to who God is and how he is leading me to obey him piece by piece, but I believe there’s definitely a level where textual certainty is important and where to share anything with each other we need to be able to point clearly to things in the scriptures. I’ll get back to you.

  149. Brian says:

    Blasater,
    In my studies, most would be quick to assume that, however from what I have arrived at from my research is that Platonism came along and borrowed from the Jewish bible and hellenized it and adapted it to their gods, and it eventually evolved into what became Gnosticism, which had an entire pantheon of gods.
    Rome sought to become powerful and bring all the religions under one roof, and the gnostic writings were banned, Rome took the text and worked up their own religion and sought to replace it and the Jewish religion as well; the nag hammadi text, etsablish a lot.
    previous fragments found with the original Greek NT writings match with those found with the nag hammadi text; which I believe were buried in attempt to hide them permantly, other numerous greek text contained multiple erasers, and additions.
    Some of the first churches: { such as Sophia Cathedrals } constantinople, and in Russia have eveidence of icons of gods that were part of the gnostic church, with the addition of jesus; most notably: Sophia–Faith—Hope—Charity [mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:13] Sophia is called wisdom in the NT ( In the Greek it says Sophia ). Additionally there are many many references in The NT that can only be attributed to text found in the Nag Hammadi, and other text removed from christian canon.
    Most Greek words in the NT are either dereived from, or are Greek gods.
    The word philosophy means: Love of Sophia.
    The word Theology means: The study of Theos { a greek god }
    The word Logos doesn’t actually mean word in Greek, it is also attributed to a Greek god.
    Your thoughts?
    PS. The religion Rome created was christianity 325AD The books of Clement are considered valid by the Catholic church as their proof to there claim of replacement of the Jewish religion.
    Sophia, Faith, hope, and charity are considered martyrs in the Catholic church and are honored on all saints day; Sophia can be found in the Catholic encyclopedia under Sofia.

  150. naaria says:

    Thanks, Brian. You add to our understanding of the true roots of Christianity through your former relationship with the Catholic church. I came to this understanding from a Protestant background. When we were thought about the “Hebraic roots” of Jesus, I seen a greater foundation in the non-Jewish roots of Jesus. The reason the gospel of John is so different from the synoptic gospels (like Luke’s, which had to be written to a Roman “Theophilus”, because there ALREADY were several other gospels out there) is because that gospel was meant to be different. The author of John starts out with a “gnosticism”, the Word (or Sophia) which was a concept in the Greek Plato’s philosophy. The “Word” was like a gatekeeper on a ladder to the supreme god. Whereas, Sophia or Wisdom is usually female, Word appears to be male. Word was an intermediary to God; no one could “get to God” unless you go through this son of the father (although the father is also supposed to be OUR father).

    The Hebrew Bible and the Oral Torah emphasize genealogies, because the stories, the events, the revelation of God were experienced firsthand by the relatives of the modern reader. You are or can become a part of that living community. The NT bases (partially) itself on that community (it’s roots or branches), but then separates itself from it. Even though some modern Christians say they reject “replacement theology”, that is really difficult, because Jesus was meant to replace “the God of Israel” like Roman Saturn replaced Greek Zeus. Early in Church history, (before Augustine and even before Arianism) there was a debate between Christian Priests whether Jews should be allowed to join a Church. Some said yes. Many felt not, because the “Jews would make Christians Jews (through discussions on scripture or biblical-based arguments), long before one could make a Jew into a good Christian. If one was a Jew and already believed in God, were part of an eternal covenant with God, that was not good enough for Christian priests. They had to convert, which in effect is saying they had to leave the covenant in order to become a branch so that they too could “be grafted back” into the covenant. If one knows how plant grafting works, you know that what is grafted-in remains what it always was (your structure and genes remains the same, so your “spiritual world view genes or beliefs” remain intact). So teach converted “Jews” to pray to their Father-God by going through (or ending prayer in the name of) the Jesus/Yeshua-God or their Son-God?

  151. Vaughn
    My understanding is that Dr. Brown will respond to my last post (#429) from the thread which focused on his books – My understanding is that he will do so on the line of fire – if I have any updates – I will let you know

  152. Vaughn says:

    Brian, I don’t recall hearing of the Books of Clement before. I did a quick web search and didn’t find much. Were they a collection of books written by Clement, or books he was considering for inclusion in the NT cannon? How did/does the Catholic Church use that as proof of their replacement claim?

  153. Blasater says:

    Vaughn- As to your earlier question: Is it possible that Jesus was divine?
    I am in the camp that it is impossible. If you look up the Trinity diagram. It has Father, Son and HS at the corners of a triangle, with god in the center. There are lines going from the corner to the center, showing that each share the “substance” of god. Then the lines on the outside of the triangle, that connect Father to Son, say: Is Not. So the Father IS NOT the Son, the Son is not, the HS, etc…

    What you dont see in the diagram is the Hypostatic union of Jesus, that he is 100% god100%man.

    This is significant. In fact vital in my opinion. What it means, is A) From creation to the conception of Jesus, the Christian god is a singular (yet Triune) entity. At the moment of the conception of Jesus, god the son, then became joined to human nature, 100%god,100%man. This is a change in the nature of “God” and is in direct conflict with scriptures in Tanach, such as Malachi 6 “For I, the LORD, do not change and even the NT verse of James: 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

    No matter how a person is to slice it, this incarnation and introduction of man into the godhead, is a change in G-d. It is a change in His nature, which even according to the NT, there is …no variation or shifting….

    To highlight the point even further, Jesus who the church says is god-man, is not omnipotent or omniscient. He “does not kow the hour of his return” and he had to “learn to grow in wisdom”, both being highly problematic for a god-man. How could he not know all things from birth? The church has one of two answers, the Kenosis or setting aside his god powers (another change or variation of god) or his divinity “willfully cooperated” with the limitations of his humanity. So, god the son subordinated his divine self to his human self? This is again, would be a change in G-d.

    So it is impossible for Jesus to be divine.

    And to Brian and Naaria’s point in regarding to Jesus replacing G-d, the NT does seem to make a case for that. And the church is not shy about its worship of Jesus. It seems to be about 80% Jesus, 15% god and 5% HS. Ceratinly not equal worship of the members. Jesus is credited with creation, salvation, King, Judge, the I AM,the Rock, the Shepard etc…all things previously attributed to G-d only. chas v’shalom

  154. Brian says:

    Naaria,
    My background isn’t Catholic, and prodestant is derived from Catholic, and now days that distinction is marginal at best. Logo’s in Greek doesn’t mean word.
    I totally disagree with the christian/messianic postions with regards to jesus and its pagan roots.

    Vaughn,

    If you research a little harder, you should be able to find more on the books of Clement; much of it is in either Latin or German, however there are English translations. The Catholic Church claims validity of the text, however the problem is; historically there is no record of a Roman leader by the name of Clement; some of the purported events claimed to have taken place in the 1st century, didn’t actually take place until the middle of the 2nd to the 3rd century, and there is absolutely historical evidence of jesus aside from the NT writings.
    The writings were susposed to have been epistles rather than a book, however they make up a book instead of just letters.

  155. naaria says:

    Sorry, Brian. I believe it was larry that was ex-Catholic. I hope I am not wrong again – I should go back and read his posts. You just mentioned so many terms such as Sophia or Sofia from the Catholic encyclopedia, theos, the martyrs faith, hope, charity, Clement and the Catholic church, I just assumed a connection there. Logos does have different meanings, such as opinion, speech, order, etc. But John’s use of logos is most often translated as word. For anyone who looks up Clement, be sure not to confuse them with the pseudo-Clementine writings which are largely later pro-James and Peter and disagree with Paul’s writings. When I type things out on my iPhone, I leave out words or repeat them or things that I didn’t type somehow pop up, especially when I do a cut or copy & paste. I believe you left out a “no’ in the sentence that reads “there is absolutely historical…”. If so, I agree with you on almost everything else. I also disagree with the “messianic”/Christian position on Jesus/”Yeshua”.

    Jesus can’t be God, for many reasons. For instance, “Son OF God” can not = God, because of the definition of son and because of the word “of”, which means one belongs to the other; the second could exist without the first one, but not vice versa. A popular Christian song goes “glory to the lamb, the lamb OF god”. Again, God can have a lamb, but the lamb doesn’t own and feed God. It should be Glory to God the Creator ans Sustainer of Life, and not glory given to something that is created & sustained by God. Beside the error of a “paschal lamb”, the “lamb of god” is a term from Egyptian mythology. Are these people the Israelites who wished they had never left Egypt and want to go back??? God is our shepherd, we don’t shepherd God. Psalm 23 says HaShem, the Lord or “God is my shepherd….”. That means me and you are a “lamb” of God, but not literally and not figuratively or in the idolatrous way in the Egyptian sense of the term.

  156. Vaughn says:

    Thanks for the extra info.
    I think there has been some useful discussion on this thread. There have been a couple of things that have come to mind as I have been reading the various posts.

    First, it would beneficial if the “findings” or results from the thread are recorded somewhere, preferably in some structured way for later reference (without the need to sort through pages of blog entries). A number of years ago I had an email “debate” like this. We quickly diverged into all sorts of topics and in the end it became a bit overwhelming and we discontinued for other reasons anyway (time pressure). My interest in such an endeavour though has not diminished. But perhaps the scope here is just a swapping of ideas on this topic of truth about the respective faiths.

    Second, I get the impression that most of us prefer to argue in support of the Jewish position. So it is even more important, I think, that the Christian position be represented as fairly/strongly as we are able. Hopefully we can be influenced solely by the truth as we encounter it, as Rabbi Blumenthal indicated earlier in the thread.

  157. Brian says:

    Naaria,
    Yes I made a typo, I meant no historical evidence of there ever having been a jesus; nobody from his alleged time ever wrote of him.
    I am not sure what you are saying; I do not believe in the jesus story presented in the NT.
    The word lexis in Greek defines the grammatical word; not logos.
    There is no confusion with the clement writings; they are all pseudo, and that has already been established.

    Vaughn,
    There are several links on that site, however my views may not agree entirely; there are many other sources of information with regards to the information, that is a start.
    I personally wouldn’t know, however I have gone off topic, I guess I thought Brown would be debating the Rabbi here, and that hasn’t happened, so I did venture off.

    I understand; It is highly likely that you will encounter strong support for the Jewish position, it is a Jewish thread.
    However by all means present your christian position; It will certainly be treated fairly in light of the Jewish bible, and anything you feel supports your beliefs in the NT; I am certain the Rabbi will be happy to answer your questions.
    I am not the best, however I can try my best as well at times.

  158. Vaughn says:

    Brian, I’m actually more comfortable supporting the Jewish position.

  159. Brian says:

    Vaughn,
    Great! Me too.
    My beliefs are Jewish, so that stands to reason.
    I posted the previous information because I think it is important to bring all of the christian writings to bear, and present acurate historical information regarding how the myth of christianity came to be; not obscoure historical facts from view, and only present what I regard what was finalized as what worked best and was accepted into christian canon.
    I do not think keeping that information out brings about an honest position.

  160. Vaughn says:

    Brian,
    One question about the history… you mentioned, “The books of Clement are considered valid by the Catholic church as their proof to their claim of replacement of the Jewish religion.”
    Is this mentioned in that website or did you get that from somewhere else?

  161. Brian says:

    Vaughn,
    You can go to the Catholic churches encyclopedia, I’m sure it will help.
    What their claim is: That the books { Epistles of Clement } establish that allegedly Peter in a line of sucession supposably handed them the keys to heaven which is claimed to have been given by jesus as being ( G-D ) which is claimed by christianity that G-D turned to the gentiles because they ( the Jews ) rejected G-D as jesus and had him killed; they believe that they were grafted in as his people under the new covenant { The new testament } The church claims that the popes are a line of this sucession starting with Peter.
    Hope this helps; I haven’t been on this topic as a case study for some time; If you have trouble let me know and I will see what I can find for you.
    They believe that these writings are essential to them.

  162. Brian says:

    Vaughn,
    It seems the Catholic church has been busy revising their encyclopedia, however some things are still there; seems obscurity abounds.
    New Advent.com
    They do still have Sophia there under Faith hope, and charity as martyrs, however they downplay it now; she used to be listed as Sofia; under the alpabetical order.
    Here is a link about her. http://www.crcsite.org/ViriginSophia.htm
    New Advent has changed their previous post of Clement, however they still have it listed.
    I will have to look into what I still have, and what exactly all did I save or not save. and research other sources.
    You may also be interest in the Nag Hammadi writings as well.
    You can also find much info through the Maronite Church which is Sryiac Aramaic and is in full communion with the Roman church.

  163. Vaughn says:

    Very interesting, thanks. You’d think if the writings were essential that they would have been part of the NT cannon, unless maybe they appeared after the cannon had been established.

  164. Brian says:

    Vaughn,
    I think the issue is if they appeared in canon there would be fewer christians once scrutinized.
    Actually the christian bibles originally had all of the other text in them, with the exception of the Epistles of Clement, these were; “Yes” later works that were claimed to be earlier works.
    My question would be does a Zebra really change its stripes ?

  165. Vaughn says:

    Back to the topic of divinity, I was thinking that this topic may be the number one “showstopper” for Christianity. If his divinity can’t be proven with absolute certainty then everything falls, and the faith is one if worshipping idol(s), which has been extensively discussed in his thread.

  166. Vaughn says:

    *…and the faith is one OF worshipping idol(s)…

  167. Blasater says:

    Vaughn- Yes, I agree it could be. There does seem to be a “new” effort among Christian scholars to revisit that question. Of course they are immediately labeled as non-orthodox and such, but there seems to be a growing body of work, that maybe one day will be impossible to ignore. One such site….

    http://www.21stcr.org/

  168. Brian says:

    Vaughn,
    I think when the pieces are put back together historically back to platonism a very clear hellenization of Judaism unravels and how exactly christianity evolved into what it is today, a very clear picture begins to emerge and reveals how the myth of jesus and his divinity came about.
    It would seem that absoulutely nobody even cares to visit the topic and simply always just go back and forth with the exact same debates over the years again and again; When the evidence needed to put it all to rest is there.

    • Blasater says:

      Brian- Good point ! after reading Naaria’s and your points, I did some digging and I can definitely see Gnostic-Hellenist-Platonic phrases/concepts in the NT. Are either of you aware of any paper-book covering this topic?

  169. Vaughn says:

    Brian/Blasater: yes, very interesting. I’m wondering though if it would in fact put it all to rest. The debate might shift to the validity and interpretation of the historical record. But it could be a key component in the defense (supporting the Jewish position) along with things like the Trinity, Messianic prophecy, necessity of the atonement, errors/problems in the NT, Ezekiel’s 3rd Temple, etc.

  170. naaria says:

    Let’s go back to the first few posts here on this topic. Some were very good.  

    Yehuda: on January 12, 2012 at 9:59 asked Brown on Brown’s blog if he “was not the slightest bit puzzled as to why the same God…” at Sinai would some 1400 years later reveal a “more important truth” to a just a few individuals, etc. and only fully after a resurrection?  Brown responded, “This… cries out for a response”.  You can read the question & Brown’s response in one of the first posts or comments above.  Brown ends his reply with “I wouldn’t question God’s wisdom if I were you!

    • naaria says:

      Continued. First, I am not Abraham nor Moses, but I have challenged God and I have always grown from that.  You can stumble upon truth, but you usually have to seek it.   One should would not be afraid to challenge God’s wisdom, if somehow God taught things contrary to earlier, eternal teachings.  But first, I would greatly doubt that it was God that gave us new teachings or revelations (not new ones actually, but ones quite common among idolatrous pagans & heathens 1900 years ago) when those teachings contradict, even attempt to nullify the earlier, eternal teachings of God given to man or specifically to God’s own chosen people.  What will the nations say if God appears to have lied (according to the NT) or to have played a big joke on us at Sinai?  2nd, I Am NOT questioning God, I am questioning the integrity of a NT, which was not even written by a man that some humans say was or is a god or God. I am questioning what men wrote, edited, re-edited numerous times, and then selected (from hundreds of other holy ghost & Jesus inspired gospels,  apocalypses, revelations, and letters between ordinary folk) as holy scripture with quite a bit of disagreement not only between Churches (Roman, Syriac, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, and several different sects, etc), but within the Roman Church itself.  I would rather say people, and not God, that brought about this division, confusion, and contradiction of beliefs.  If one is not supposed to question those who call themselves prophets or anointed ones of God, God should not have first given us Deut 13.  Not warned us that we might be tested.  God should not have said he was not a man. God should not have commanded against idolatry, either in the structure or form of a created object or being (as in a human or image of a human) or in any power or spirit within that object or being.  Even NT Paul says “question God” (if Jsus is God and Paul speaks for Jsus), be like the “Bereans” who looked into the scripture (they only had scrolls of the Hebrew bible and probably not all of them.  Maybe 5 books of Moses, the Psalms, and a few others?). Well, as a “Berean”, I see Paul or the author of Paul misquote the Tanach in many, many times. Many Christian scholars believe only 7 of Paul’s letters are written by Paul (or by the same anonymous writer).  Paul in the NT even says letters were forged in his name.  He wrote ‘this is how I sign my name’, so if one doesn’t have an original signature (proven & certified to be his), even those 7 could be fakes written by con artists or heretics.  One with a doctorate should encourage study and questioning. 

      Next, just what “key prophecies” were fulfilled?  Jesus said all sorts of contradictory and anti-messiah things.  Jesus/Yeshua wanted to cleanse the temple, but instead he “allowed” or caused the “house of his father” to be destroyed.  He said he came to bring division and he was not a peacemaker. He did not bring the exiles back to Jerusalem and not even Christians or his own followers.  In fact, not according to legend or hypotheses, what happened to those “3000” (and why did Peter have to explain the big wind to many of them?  Many more 1000’s supposedly were tested by God and when Jesus said they should drink his blood and eat his flesh, they opted for the God of Sinai, rather then the pagan cannibal?  Did Paul know about the 3000?   Where did they run to or where were they slaughtered by Vespasian or Titus (strange we have a Titus in the NT)? 

      “Three full years of Jesus (you can read John differently though) and 3 other gospels make Jesus’s preaching last less than a year?   There is mystery in God’s nature, but there is much clarity in what God wants us to do or to be like or to have faith in.  There is also mystery in mystery religions, Gnosticism, Hinduism, witchcraft, etc. “God won’t fit in a small box” and in many ways Christians make God small,; small like a man, small like the pagan god-men.  If a messiah came already with one & only “one way”, the followers of Yeshua-Jesus have been confused by his message (many became fanatical murderers and slave-masters) and from Jesus’s first words up to now, there has been great division and even war between and among his followers.  That sordid history is not a blessing.  But, there are different ways to get the blessing; different ways to get to know God.  But not by making God look small and modeled after the ba’als, godmen, and the gods of the nations.

  171. naaria says:

    Blasater (Jan 23): One website that might help is one someone mentioned earlier, earlychristianwriting.com. I can’t get to my library right now, but there are numerous books out there that covers some of these issues. Geza Vermes wrote a book called “The Changing Faces of Jesus”. And Burton L Mack has “Who Wrote the New Testament?”. I am not selling books here, but I have one small (166 pages) paperback in front of me that is part of the Armchair series of books on Christian history, that are “written by experts but designed for Novices”. Justo L. Gonzalez & Catherine Gunsalus Gonzalez are the authors of “Heretics for Armchair Theologians”, WJK books, (2008). I like this book because it is very informative, easy to read and understand, and there is a humorous, comical illustration on an average of every other page. The cartoon drawings almost says it all. These are Christian authors, so Jesus will come out ok in the end. There are 10 chapters that cover “Why Heretics”, the Ebionites, Gnosticism, Marcion, the Montanists, the Trinity, the Donatists, Pelagius, and Christology. The chapters on the Trinity & Christolgy expain how those ideas came about and slowly developed and evolved. Of course, a lot of the other early Christian sects or “heretics” are also discussed or just mentioned, like the Docetists (whose Jesus did not have a real human body, but only appeared as a man), Anabaptists, the Nestorians & the Monophysite churches, the Valentinians, the Basilideans, the Cainite Gnostics (made Cain their hero), Sethite Gnostics (made Seth their hero), etc. Some of those later ones can’t be called Christian, but they were part if the “soup”. Other sects, movements, teachings, or philosophies studied, however briefly, include Adoptionism (the Ebionite belief that the “power of God” in effect “adopted” Jesus the man & he became divine only later in life or after death), Apollinarianism, Arianism, asceticism, Augustinianism, charismatic authority, Dispensationalism, dualism (a good god and a bad god, like the anti-Jewish Marcionism. The Marcionite church was one of the most popular Christian sects, who eventually allowed the Jewish Creator God to become the 3rd God, and considered the Just God), Judaizers, Monarchianism, Manicheans, Modalism or Sabellianism, Neoplatonism, Pneumatomachians, Patripassiomism, Trinitarianism vs. Unitarianism, Tertullianists, etc.

  172. Brian says:

    Vaughn & Blasater,
    The validity has been hotly debated for many years which is why much of it was removed from christian canon, up to a certain point nobody even bothered with it at all because the earliest christian bibles were entirely in Latin and nobody could read them anyway except the priest who possesed them; and up until 1950 the catholic church didn’t even use it at all; [ read the first section of the 2nd edition NAB Catholic study bible ] and the inquisition wasn’t officially declared over until 1963.
    Much of the material was destroyed or burned during that time, that was decided against by the church.
    However: What does exist can be pieced together in a time line by scholars, properly translated and made publically known and available.
    It can be established that with regards to christianity; Platonism came first, then gnosticism Coptic religion; all with ties to various other pagan influences such as mandaeism, zorostrianism, Akkadian god sin, among others going back beyond Egypt.
    I’m not sure; but I think some orthodox coptic churches may still use all of the text missing in christianity; originally they recognized an entire pantheon of gods.
    The Catholic church in Jerusalem { I can’t think of the name of it right now } has a slew of icons in it of many of these different gods; [ most notably the virgin Sophia ] ( considered to be the wife of G-D who in gnosticism is considered the demiurge ). some of the previous links have translations of most of the text I have spoken of, and many various links to others as well .
    Blasater there are several books out there on most if not all; I am not sure if one actually exist with everything all in one place, it would probably end up being quite thick.

  173. Brian says:

    Naaria,
    The theologians are the ones who are the heretics.
    While the Roman empire was seeking to become the official religion anything they labeled illegal according to them was deemed heretical, the copts were originally persecuted by Rome, at least until they made christianity there official religion, some time after the edict of milan “313 AD” ( in 325 AD and later).
    In gnostic church the holy spirit is described as being Sophia.
    You might very well look up a complete list of Greek and other pagan gods, virtually every single Greek word in the new testament is a Greek god; right down to the word translated hell { which is hades } a well known figure in Greek mythology.
    I have a little trouble following your post sometimes; no offense intended they seem to get quite lengthy and take many different directions; could you possibly break them down into seperate post for clarity?
    Thanks

    • naaria says:

      Thanks, I had to study Greek, Roman, and Norse Mythology in Jr High English class. I enjoyed it too. But the Romans had over 30,000 gods & godessess, most taken from nations and peoples they conquered. The stories were kept and only the names were changed. When we say Greek we must remember their diversity, especially after Alexander and hellenization. Israel after Alexander was split up (considered as no-man’s land at times) between the northern Selucid Greeks and the Ptolemy Greeks of Egypt. The Ptolemy’s library probably held every written story of gods and myths of the nations and people “known in the world at the time”. That is perhaps where the first true mixing, syncretism, of the world’s religions began.

  174. Brian says:

    Naaria,
    I think your statement might well be false; I believe from a scholarly standpoint christianity is like vegetable soup its all in there; it is a condensed compilation of many pagan cults that borrowed from Judaism and applied their many different gods to the G-D of Israel in what I call replacement theology.
    All of their icons { Idols } that are depictions of their gods can still be seen even today throughout christianity.

  175. naaria says:

    Some readers here are Christian or “messianic believers” and I can anticipate some of their responses/thoughts that some of these sect members were heretics not “true Christians”, and even of the “devil” and “enemies of Jesus”. So, therefore much of this info to them is meaningless. They don’t see how it fits into or is incorporated into their beliefs about Jesus, hell, the devil, demon possesion, etc. To be fair, I did mention some sects that originated before Jesus, before the 1st century c.e. in the “inter-testamental period” that were based upon individuals in Genesis and the Hebrew bible. So, therefore I did call it a “soup”. All sorts of beliefs and myths from all sorts of peoples. Some of the names in the NT & the church are just names of real people (or places) to Christians. Symbolic names like Titus (Roman General & later Emperor who destroyed the Jewish temple), Tarsus (so called “capitol of mystery religions”), Paul’s Apollos, Theophilus, Logos, Chrestos (a ‘good’ Roman god), Stephanus, Antioch, Epiphany, blind Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus), etc. taken out of their mythological, social-political or historical context. Christians see it as overcoming the “enemies”, not as honoring or keeping old traditions or joining them (Easter eggs, bunnies, Christmas, sun-god day, Thor’s day, Woden’s day, Saturn’s day, etc).

    When one talks of Christian history, one must remember who was “in charge” or who was popular and when. What was true for one century or period was not true for the next. What was true in one region may not be true in another. That is why some talk about Christianities (different C. communities) or why I spoke of different “Orthodoxies” (Coptic, Syriac, etc) because some churches have a few less books in their NT and some accepted a few more “heretical” texts. Christian texts that were once popular about 1500 years ago, but later considered heretical, were found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt about 70 years. Some of those texts, but not all, had existed only as a few relic fragments or only in the history books in Greece, where Christian’s tried to destroy all copies of those Christian texts. So whoever controls the church, controls which Jesus is Jesus and which Jesus is “satan”. And to a few Christians, if you use any bible other than the King James, you are using the “devil’s bible”.

  176. Annelise says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been following these recent comments as they come into my inbox, sometimes reading them and sometimes having time to glance at them. I won’t join the discussion because I’m not an expert in early church or late Classical literature in this region, and I don’t read Greek. I also agree that the fairly early Catholic (including other Christian ‘orthodox’) churches have been at times idolatrous and at times incredibly insensitive with pagan concepts, with examples dating back to the early centuries.

    On the other hand, even if you consider the New Testament beliefs about Jesus to be affected by a non-Jewish (or, at least, non-biblical Jewish) mindset, I find it hard to deny that the first generation of Christian literature as it exists in the New Testament flourished as a surprising branch of Jewish spiritual literature. This is one of the things that separates these books from both the letters of the church fathers and the ‘gospels’ that weren’t included as good evidence for Jesus. The gospels have an often detailed awareness of culture and settings within this region before around 70 A.D. that isn’t mirrored in later writings. The honour that comes to be given to Jesus as the very coming of God’s presence and salvation isn’t a random heaping of glories upon him, even though it came within a context where salvation was preached in his name and the presence of God was understood to be among them with God’s strength, righteousness, justice, and hope. It was explored carefully from a starting point (at the least) of monotheism that remained of high importance to the churches’ expression of God amidst pagan detractors. The way Jesus was spoken of as the word, the wisdom of God through whom everything was created, his glory, his law, and his Temple, were defined carefully by everyone from Paul to John and the author of Hebrews, finding a new understanding of the phrase ‘son of God’ in its unique application to Jesus. This situates the movement (whatever its other influences, and however it is shunned by Judaism) visibly within the sphere of Jewish cultural literature and worship for Israel’s God, redeemer, and creator.

    As to the claim that pretty much every word in the New Testament can be related to pagan gods and concepts, I think this doesn’t appreciate the way ordinary Greek language was often used in an ordinary, non-pagan sense. You can’t reasonably suggest that words like ‘logos’ or ‘sofia’ in the Septuagint or the book of James had any pagan implications whatsoever. I also think that the discussion in John 1 could not have been written in a mindset where Greek understandings of the ‘creating principle’ were dominant over Jewish conversations about God’s word being made tangibly present to reveal him in the world.

    That’s all I feel qualified to add. Though I wholeheartedly accept the validity of this conversation, I do feel that these things should not be underestimated, and you’re skipping over the heart of the early church movement (which rabbinical Judaism can often comment on with more fullness than the medieval and modern Christian traditions) if they are. I’m actually dropping in to reply to the question I was asked about whether the scriptures clearly imply that God himself would be the anointed redeemer who was promised. I’ll post this comment and write my reply to that separately.

  177. Annelise says:

    Thomas, I’ve spent time in the last few days thinking about the scriptural promises both of the Messiah and of God’s return to redeem and be deeply present with his people (along with the rest of the world through you). I’ve also searched the Internet for Christian ‘proof texts’ about the claim that God would be the Messiah.

    I don’t know a lot, so I need to say that I’m not speaking on behalf of the New Testament message; this conversation is only with me personally. From that place, I’ll say that some of the passages quoted by these websites are simply irrelevant; the rest would apply to Jesus well, but not at all in the sense of clear expectation or proof. I don’t even think that Isaiah 9:6 needs to be stretched in translations; it’s clearly a name, which would fit resonantly well with the incarnation of Jesus, but which reads more easily in context simply as praise for God’s salvation. From my reading of these verses, and also from wider passages about God and this anointed deliverer, I don’t see any conscious expectations that God himself would be the Messiah. I also can’t see any specific implications that God would become human in atonement for Israel’s sin, or that there is a personal relationship (like the one in focus between Jesus and the Father) within the person of Israel’s only God.

    I know that I exist to worship the one who created me, who blesses us with his faithfulness each day, who calls us to himself, who is the fullness of goodness and also jealous for our faithfulness. I want to know him, to come as close to him as he as made a way for within holiness and his love. I am taking really seriously the knowledge that to worship a man as if he has always been in very nature God, if it is not true, is idolatry; it would also shun and limit the reality of who God is, and be spiritually dangerous to other people as I talk about the scriptures with others around me. I feel aware of what it is like for me to vocalise my beliefs about this historical man into the context where those who were given the scriptures to read and obey seek to preserve an intricate and reverent understanding of who God has revealed himself to be in this literature, in the life of your nation and communities. How can I presume to speak these words, if my tradition may just be tearing ignorantly over the precious things in God’s law?

    As my eyes look for truth and my heart is seeking God, I continue to recognise the life and the power with which the news about Jesus continues to move in the world, in many of the interactions and experiences that lie beneath the facade of ‘the church’. I don’t present the changed lives of myself or others, the multiplicity of miracles experienced by sincere people in ministry, or our stirring desire to worship and obey Israel’s God, as evidence to you. I am just aware that if Jesus is God, then to not worship him is also idolatry; then, I’m worshiping an image or understanding of who I think God is that is not in line with who he has shown me to be. While I’m baffled by the way these important things aren’t even hinted at before Jesus, I find that the claims about him aren’t clearly against the themes or commandments in the scriptures. In places they are very closely aligned, and the experience of Jesus in the time before and after his death must be considered and truly understood.

    This leaves me with two thoughts, which I will continue to ask God to open his own light on for me. First: if God did plan to make his presence and person known in the world through the life of this man Jesus, what would we expect to find in all his laws and the prophecies? My heart’s first response is that he would have woven everywhere that this, in so much glory and in depths of humility, was the great promise to Israel and the nature of his love. In speaking of the commandments that would be a sign in Israel forever, he would have added a genuine awareness that one day this law would take a new form: not only saying it would be written on the heart, but also that it would take a new form in a renewed covenant. He would have made it very clear that his people should not be suspicious of a claim that he himself would be known for a time in human likeness, as a servant among them, so long as it was really true, and he would have made the prophecies far more conclusive. But I still hear a quiet awareness that if (and I know it’s hypothetical) God had done these things, Israel’s worship would have been a chaos that couldn’t truly focus on him in his promises, and where false god-Messiahs challenging the status of the law were abundant. The fact that Jesus expected people who knew God to recognise him even before any of his suffering or resurrection is either dangerous nonsense, or an expression of the way God makes himself known both in and below what is visibly evident about him. We know that this is true even from our knowledge that there is a creator, and that he is good, that he made himself known to Israel, though many people find space to disagree. He wants us to follow scripture, but also to respond to his voice in the place where he is.

    The other thought is somewhat methodological. As with any word from God, it is right to consider both the preceding revelations and the nature of the new event itself. While it is hard, I feel it’s important to consider Jesus at the heart of this question about him: how did the NT beliefs about *really* him fit into Second Temple Judaism, and (possibly) into the revelation given to Israel? Think carefully and sensitively about these things, not overlooking what is there by pouring our own assumptions into the life of Jesus. What did Jesus believe and claim about himself? Try reading the first three gospels, considering how Jesus often told parables about a person in authority leaving his people for a time, before returning and finding them either faithful or faithless. Even the way he spoke of his own authority, and his relationship with the Temple, the law, the response of Israel, and creation itself; the way he would send his Spirit to continue his presence and leading in the churches, and the stories by Luke in Acts (and by others through history) about what this has been like (even amidst politics and vast mistakes/hypocrisy). Delve into the mindset of first century Jews as they began to describe Jesus as the glory of God, even if there is no scriptural precedent that the expression of God’s glory is both God, and a person in relationship with him. Only then would we come either to understand what God has done in Jesus, or to refute the claim with force at the heart of what it actually was and is.

    • Annelise says:

      I should also have mentioned that I see vividly how both the servant of the scriptures, and Jesus in the New Testament, are portrayed in the relationship with God that belongs to creation. If the servant is an interwoven image of both the nation and the Messiah at the heart of God’s redemption, then the humility and righteousness of Jesus fit closely within the expectation of who this anointed one would be: relying on God, giving all glory to him rather than an aspect of creation, and leading Israel in the love for him that has always been God’s law and promise. On the other hand, it is really hard to see how this servant could be understood as God himself. All I can say is that the idea of the personal relationship within Israel’s God is itself understood through the belief in incarnation, which means taking a place among creation. If this really happened, then the way Jesus is portrayed as having the authority of God and the submission of creation is really interesting. The New Testament is drenched in an exploration of this.

  178. naaria says:

    It is the language and the world view of the author/s, especially of John, Hebrews, & Romans, which makes most NT texts more aligned with the culture and philosophy of the Greek and Roman intelligentsia than it does to the Jewish. Closer to someone like Philo, than to the typical Jew of either Judea or of the Galilee. Hebrews is an archaic term, something only scholars who only knew Jews by what they had read in the ancient books of the bible, would use. It is a work on academia, not of common Jewish folk. It is the naive ignorance of the NT gospel writers about the geography, life, culture, world view, and religion of 1st century c.e. Judean Jews that shows that the text are not Jewish, but Greek. They speak from the “third person” outsider view. We see some of that in the book that I mentioned earlier, “Heretics for Armchair Theologians”.

    • naaria says:

      I might add here that Paul, like Marcion, speaks of Judaizers. Which means there were some who were trying to make Jewish something that was not Jewish. It is these later writers who linked Jesus with a relatively few, selected Jewish sacred texts (especially using the Greek Sepuagint OT translation of the Jewish texts). Today, attachment can be made to Jesus emotionally, spiritually by assuming certain things as truth about those texts. But that feeling doesn’t change the history of the text. That is why very religious Jews and very religious Christian have 2 almost entirely different views of God or of life. They see God from the Tanach viewpoint. You, and even I, see it from the NT viewpoint.

  179. Brian says:

    Annelise,
    From a scholarly standpoint you can’t interject person beliefs into historical record and facts.
    The septuagint isn’t the NT; You might very well read the book of Thomas, and the Gospel of Thomas along with other writings from the Nag Hammadi among others.
    Even among modern day cathedrals still in existence there are icons { Idols } from the original christian churches that are from a earlier Gnostic pantheon of gods.
    If you look into the Greek you will find there are many pagan gods in the NT.
    Example: The word wisdom is “Sophia” A martyred saint in the Catholic church.
    #2 Hades: translated “hell” in some bibles; a old man in the underworld in Greek mythology.
    You have to look at it from a objective standpoint not based on your personal views, historically.

  180. Annelise says:

    Same texts, completely different conclusions. What secondary sources are you drawing from? I don’t really want to get too entangled in this part of the conversation, since I haven’t read widely enough and would need to travel to my university library to regather most of it what I have… but some of what I’ve seen would stand in opposition to what you’re saying. What are these examples of naive ignorance in the gospels? Are they found in all four, as you see it? As to the book of Hebrews, you know that the writer claims to be Jewish from the first verses. Also, is the term ‘Hebrews’ that you’re referring to actually in the book, or is it the same one found in Acts 6:1, 2 Corinthians 11:22, and Philippians 3:5? The last two references are widely agreed to have been written by Paul, a Jew, who in both cases used the term for a particular reason.

    Don’t forget the process of translation that would have taken place between the churches who were at first almost exclusively Jewish, the writers of the letters, and the final form in written Greek. The thinking of the church wasn’t formed only in a Greek speaking context, though I know we would need to consider here how much integrity there was between the Jewish churches and the gospel preached by Paul. Don’t be surprised that the Septuagint is reflected as the translation with which they were to write such letters, or that it’s the letters written in Greek that survived in the churches in late antiquity. I don’t know why things happened as they did, but I still see the importance of situating at least this first generation of letters in its real context: a Jewish story, and a Jewish church, beginning to share a claim about Israel’s God with the nations around them, with constant reference (even if you think their applications aren’t strong as proof) to their own scriptures. References to Jesus being the one through whom creation was made exist in the earliest of these, dating within twenty or thirty years of the Spirit being poured out on the growing church during Shavuot.

  181. Annelise says:

    When I wrote that, I had only seen naaria’s first comment.

    Brian, historical Jesus scholarship nowadays almost always considers the synoptic gospels to be in a wildly different sphere of evidence to the Gospel of Thomas. I agree with you about the Catholic icons, though it’s worth noting that official conversations about religious imagery through the Middle Ages were generally careful to make a distinction between praying to (asking of) saints, and praying to (worshiping as creator) God. There are some interesting thoughts brought up at times about how different it is to make images or to portray with words when remembering aspects of the Bible; these show that these things were important to at least some leaders throughout the period, though I do not agree with the practice at all. A lot of church history is really a mess.

    When you actually read James, where do you think he was influenced by Greek and pagan ideas? Usually he is imagined on the other side of the ‘Hellenisation’, but he explores this theme of sofia quite a bit.

  182. Thomas says:

    Thanks again for your reply, and your thoughts.

    Your conclusions regarding the ‘proof texts’ I think are most reasonable; indeed, it is my view as well, and from my research, these texts are widely seen this way as well among the scholarly community.

    First, I think it’s worth noting that apologetics (even the more sophisticated apologetics) argue quite forcefully that Is. 9:6 and others are evidence of the messiah being God. I think they do that because they realize the importance of these verses. In other words, if they cannot demonstrate that the Hebrew Bible speaks of the messiah being God, there is a problem.

    Why? Because whatever term one wants to use – whether it’s progressive revelation, a fuller revelation, etc – the point is the same: there is continuity between the OT and the NT in this respect. If there is a major departure without any justification from the OT, that is problematic.
    The point is that this argument says God (in the NT) ‘fully’ revealed himself, whereas in the Hebrew Bible it was more concealed. However, if these OT texts which purportedly show the messiah being God, actually do not say that, then that argument cannot stand, because that would mean the NT, instead of building on or expanding something already taught by God (a ‘fuller’ revelation), is instead teaching something radical, foreign, and even (indeed, to the eyes of Israel and even the Hebrew prophets) blasphemous. That’s not a fuller revelation; it’s a total contradiction.

    As Naaria pointed out above, the ‘fuller revelation in the NT’ argument does rely on the OT teaching something like this- but if that cannot be found, I cannot justify looking beyond the OT texts at all. At the risk of being repetitive, I don’t think a Christian can take this reasoning, be consistent with it, and yet not look first at the ‘progressive’ revelations in the Quran, or the Book of Mormon, and so on. Yes, even if the NT says absolutely nothing about the specific central teachings of these later religions, the ‘fuller revelation’ argument can still be used by anyone- but again I can only even entertain that argument if it can at least be shown to exist in the OT in the first place.

    Secondly, of course, I have to ask myself whether this is really something God commanded (as opposed to being a philosophical or theological construct). It stretches my imagination to consider such a thing. That, as I mentioned earlier, God in the OT would go out of His way to make Israel’s worship of Him clear and ‘simple,’ and in the future be so convoluted, so contradictory, and teach something not only utterly unknown to Israel, but something that He knew Israel would see as completely forbidden, and still not teach it to them in any clear way. As I wrote just above, if that was the case, I should certainly think sometime in the last 2,000 years, God most certainly would have done it again.

    Third, I have said before that I am not an NT expert, so I cannot judge those NT texts. All I can say is that, from my research, it does seem to be the case that even the arguments from the NT (Jesus’ self-consciousness, and the beliefs of the first Christians) are not as clear-cut as one might think. James Dunn’s recent book ‘Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?’ argues that the first Christians never saw Jesus as God or comparable to God, but rather as a person who had certain authority bestowed on him, but was nevertheless never to be the object of worship himself. I mention that only to say that even if I were to grant (and I don’t) that the lack of OT evidence is not a problem, and the lack of clarity as to whether Jesus ever had self-consciousness of divinity, that even this last piece of evidence cannot make up the ensuing gap.

    As I wrote in a previous post, as someone who has accepts the OT (and indeed, we share that premise- it is not as if you are trying to disprove the OT), I would need a teaching on the subject in the OT in order to justify moving to a new, fuller revelation. More foundational than that- I would ask: In the OT, did God tell us about a future revelation where He would reveal a ‘fuller’ picture of Him which would be unfamiliar to the earlier generations? What did God teach Israel to expect in this later generation? How did God expect Israel to identify Him in OT times, and in the future? Did He really give them no indication whatsoever that He would in future give a new revelation, which would be totally foreign and objectionable to the vast majority of Jews, and in a far more unclear fashion than the first time, and then expect them to believe it? I find that morally unacceptable, biblically-foreign, and logically troublesome.

    I think my problems are manifold here. In order to accept that the messiah (another topic altogether) is God, I need to overlook the fact that the OT does not teach this, that the OT does not teach any future new ‘covenant’ will alter Israel’s identification of God, and overlook that the OT does not teach how Israel will, in this future revelation, identify God in His new ‘fullness.’ Instead, I have to jump over the OT into the NT, and accept the interpretation of the NT that has Jesus with divine self-consciousness, that the early Christians shared this view, and, of course, most importantly- that they were correct.

    And how to judge whether they were correct? Does the OT give any criteria for this, or do I have to rely on the new revelation once again? We’re back to the miracle claims

    Mormonism, as you may be aware, teaches that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three distinct gods (a radical departure from traditional Christology). Now, a Mormon, from what I have read, will probably acknowledge that no, the OT and the NT do not explicitly teach this concept. They argue that God revealed Himself more fully in a future revelation. The point is the same- Jews are being asked to recognize that, sure, the OT doesn’t teach the most fundamental points that Christology teaches, but rely on a future revelation which, even then, we were not told about, nor told how to identify God at that time, either. Defenders of Jesus’ divinity, I presume, would not accept the same claim if made by a Mormon. They would reject Mormonism’s godhead right off the bat because the NT does not teach it, the NT does not teach of a future fuller revelation of God’s identity which would be unknown and foreign to the point of being completely forbidden, and they could not simply rely on a claim of a future revelation with no basis in the NT to even start from. This Mormon apologetic site will probably sound to you how I see arguments for Jesus’ divinity (especially the sub-heading ‘The First Vision: a Key to Understanding the Godhead’): http://www.mormonblog.com/articles/74/1/224/Mormon-view-of-the-Godhead-compared-to-the-Trinity.html

    So again, a sum:

    1/ I see nowhere in the OT where it is taught the messiah is God
    2/ I see nowhere in the OT where it is taught that in the future God will more fully reveal himself, which will fundamentally alter Israel’s entire conception of who it worships
    3/ I see nowhere in the OT where Israel is shown how it can identify God in this new revelation
    4/ I see it as far from a given that even the basic assumptions – that Jesus had self-consciousness of divinity, and that his first followers saw him as God – are correct. I am not an NT expert, but when I read NT scholars say things like “We cannot claim that Jesus believed himself to be the incarnate Son of God,” I hesitate to even grant the most basic assumptions.
    5/ If, despite the OT not teaching the fundamental basics of christology, the (claimed) NT teachings on this still stand, I have no reason whatsoever to make an artificial stop at Christianity. Since the lack of OT witness is not a limiting factor, I have no limitations as to what I can accept, reject, and no criteria to know the difference.
    6/ As Yehuda wrote early in this thread: “Are you truly not the slightest bit puzzled as to why the same G-d who identified himself beyond the shadow of a doubt at Sinai, would some 1400 years later reveal an even more important truth to to mankind in a way that was experienced by only a few people and that even those few people – who had been in his tangible presence for years and who had witnessed his numerous miracles – would be left in a state such that ‘…the full revelation of who He was didn’t occur until after His resurrection.” Of course I am. We can attach whatever theological meanings and significance to it that we want, but saying it’s a mystery avoids the problem. It calls God’s testimony in the OT into question, and it virtually guarantees that the NT is not the last of God’s revelations.

  183. Thomas says:

    I should add that when I say ‘fuller revelation, etc- I know you did not use that term, but whatever term we wish you use, the concept is the same.

  184. larry says:

    Catholics have the “Haydock” Bible Commentary.
    Is there a Bible Commentary for the Torah?

  185. Annelise says:

    Thanks Thomas, your conclusions make sense. I don’t know enough to be sure of what to do with your premises, which are very different to mine, because these things are so important and because of what I’ve known of God. This isn’t like any other study of history, since the answers matter on an absolute level that history can’t quite provide. I appreciate your thoughts, and can only let them lie within the path of my wider knowledge of God, hoping to see things with his clarity.

    It would be helpful to go back a bit and look at the premise we do share, that the Tanach is inspired by God and filled with truth about who he is; who he has been, and will be, with humanity. I believe this because I have known it to be true in my experiences of God here within creation and in my life (as with the New Testament);lso, because Jesus revered and pointed to these scriptures as belonging to God’s people, truly from him. Your reasons for holding on to these books must be different to mine. What makes you accept the testimony of your nation about God? I believe that there are very good reasons to accept the Tanach, but I’m very interested in this question. When historians, scientists, textual critics, and ethical philosophers deny the integrity of the Torah, how do you believe God has allowed us to know things for sure… not merely as the most likely option, or the safest, but holding to his words despite our limited knowledge elsewhere? How has God given us to know with certainty that he has said something, and how we should read it, since the nations and people of the world come to such differing conclusions?

    I’m still devoted to considering our question, so I’m not asking this to deflect away. You know that the scriptures are the life within everything I’ve known of God, and everything that can be said about Jesus points back to them. I still find it difficult to understand how to have this conversation at all, if I am convinced that Jesus is Messiah and God, and thus come to the Bible with that lens in hand… so it would be helpful to hear what you would tell a curious listener without any biblical tradition about why you are sure God is who he is according to Tanach.

    • thomas says:

      Thanks again for your thoughts.

      I don’t think I ever said I was ‘sure’ that the OT was true, and I didn’t ask you for that standard either. You are correct when you say that scripture is said to be ‘disproven’ and so on by scholarship, and that is one reason I have not raised any issues with the NT’s reliability, etc, but primarily because that is certainly not the reason it has never gained acceptance among the jewish people. Their objection, and mine, is that the claims about jesus’ divinity have no basis in the OT. Even the objections I lightly raised are largely issues with our interpretations of these texts.

      And while it is not relevant how or why I believe in the OT, I will say that the OT itself highlights that god’s national revelation to israel (or to be fair, this claim) is the basis for israel’s faith in its god. So that is another reason that the very private revelation of jesus does not meet the criteria the OT itself suggests.

      I am a bit perplexed because we keep stating how important the OT is, yet we both acknowledge that the teaching that the messiah is god is not in the OT, neither are the concepts of a future alteration in israel’s entire view of god, or any criteria for israel to recognize when this new revelation happened. If there are verses or arguments from the OT, then those would be relevant, but in the absence of that (so far), I have no compelling reason to be discussing the NT at all. We keep agreeing to this point, so let’s stick to it.

      If you don’t think the lack of OT teaching on this is relevant, then I do not know why. As I said, you probably don’t believe this when it comes to mormonism, so I’m sure you can’t expect it from a jew.

      I am not even dismissing the idea of further revelation out of hand, but it’s obvious to me that the OT must give me a reason to consider it.

      So yes- prior to christianity, the jew had the OT (and their national tradition). If jesus is the jewish messiah, and the jewish god, and the fulfillment of jewish scriptures, then that is where those claims need to be primarily evaluated. But if the jewish scriptures do not teach this basic christian theology, nor teach that it will come, and gives no way to identify this revelation when it comes, then I think one either has to dispute this point, or provide a valid reason why the utter lack of OT teaching doesn’t matter. Otherwise, asking me to consider the claims of the NT are as relevant for me as considering the claims of joseph smith for you.

  186. Brian says:

    Annelise,
    I have studied the topic for some time.
    You are like I said; interjecting your own religious bias, and not looking at the topic from a historical standpoint based on facts.
    Their is not historical eveidence that there was ever a man by the name jesus aside from the NT.
    Your claim is false; the original NT writings were found with fragments that were unknown until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi text; and were matched with those that were found.
    The different books of the NT are wildly different with each other, and contrdict themselves period and that includes the gospels.
    There are copts that recognize all of them; The gnostic version of christianity predates what you have today.
    I am fully aware of the praying to saints Idols by certain sects of christianity for favor with their Idol jesus, and the use of rosaries.
    I do not discriminate against any of the NT books, I view them all equally as being pagan; and as far as your claim that any character in the NT as being Jewish is pure speculation, not only can you “NOT” validate that claim, neither can any scholars; in stark contrast to Judaism the figures claimed in the NT have no living descendants to verifiy anything.
    In a earlier post of yours you contended a earlier christian church that was Jewish, that contention has been historically proven to be false; you also claimed Hebrew primacy of the NT that statement has been proven False by scholars, the original NT writings were written in Greek first, then later into other languages.

  187. Brian says:

    Naaria,
    I couldn’t agree with you more!
    You have said a mouthfull in a nutshell; I find it absolutely amazing that of the thousands upon thousands of different christian beliefs, the diversity is so extensive that it is staggering.
    I also find it amazing that to a huge degree they all pick and choose what translation they accept, and everyone elses are false, and if you consider them you will burn in hell fire!
    christian text are christian text! If they are claiming that they have the true “belief” and that they cannot add to or subtract from their christian writings. Revelation 22:18 So…..why??? Do they keep adding and subtracting??? Or is this statement excusive to Rev. and why is the “NEW” I repeat “NEW” testament, considered in addition to the alleged old in stark contrast to…Deut. 4:2 and 12:32 Deut. 28:58 and Deut chapter 30 In its entirety.

  188. Brian says:

    Edit,
    Exclusive.
    Naaria, response to your Jan. 24 4:09 am post. 😉

  189. Annelise says:

    Thomas, it is really relevant to me to hear why and how you believe in the Hebrew scriptures. You don’t have to answer, but I was asking out of personal interest rather than as a point of debate. We are talking about God and about truth, and it is important to see where he has spoken and why we can know it.

    Of course I think the lack of pre-revelation about some of these big New Testament themes is relevant, otherwise I wouldn’t be discussing these things here. There is more to consider in terms of how God reveals to us the ways of truth he wants us to follow in, but I don’t know how to articulate it, and all your thoughts are very weighty. I guess I can only let the conversation rest there for now, and thank you for engaging with my thoughts and heart on these matters. I do still believe that there are reasons to move from here to a much more sensitive consideration of the New Testament writings in their associations with the Hebrew texts; from there, also to an understanding of the differences between various Rabbinical and Christian readings of the scriptures as a whole, moving below mere discussion of the ‘proof verses’. You are saying that you see no reason to do this as a Jew, in which case this would only be something to consider if you really want to engage with the Christian claims and message.

    Brian, the Gospel of Thomas is first mentioned in history so much later than the synoptic gospels, and also John. Have you ever gone through the letters of the ‘church fathers’ who lived in the first and second centuries, to see how often the New Testament is quoted and referred to? You would find much to disagree with in those writings, as I would, but they place much of the canonical New Testament in a unique class of evidence… even if manuscripts also made their way into other places.

    I would be very surprised if you could find academic historians of this period who don’t believe Jesus existed. The New Testament is a collection of literature that can be studied and internally compared, which has to have come into being somehow in the later part of the first century; even if you don’t think it’s inspired or in any way unbiased it is still actually a good source. There is general agreement that Philippians and 2 Corinthians were written by Paul, which is why I mentioned that. It becomes far more complicated to try and say that the entire thing is a fabrication with little bearing on reality, and all sides of discussion need to be careful when assuming that something is or isn’t relevant to the discussion. I don’t know if we can get really far in this way, and I assume you know more about some of this than I do; I just think that you’re sometimes making broad moves of judgement, where more detailed observations are possible. I think it would be anachronistic to blend together your distaste for Jesus, for the apostles, and for the medieval and later churches in this way, even if that feeling were entirely justified. As long as we can read the sources well, history is not silent at all about Jesus or his early following.

    • Annelise says:

      P.S., If either of you reply to me then I may not get back to you for a week or so… I will try and respond to any questions addressed to me at some point. I need some time away from considering such important and valuable things in this written, public setting. If you don’t want to reply, that’s fine as well! Thanks again for all you’ve written.

  190. naaria says:

    Most people who “experience God” in some fashion often are quite moved by their personal experiences (so how can you really question their feelings?). Their lives are “changed”, right? Depends on what you mean by change. But most of those experiences are based on prior study of texts. And the veracity or integrity of those texts are usually assumed. Few individuals study the texts first and then they have faith. Usually it is accept these things as truths and “believe” first and choose quickly or else if you might suddenly die and not be “saved” a loving God will sent you to “burning hell” for eternity. In some churches, you join by showing up. In Judaism, I see that one must study first before they can truly commit themselves to a belief system. In Christianity, I see a lot of people who “believe & are truly saved”, but then they “backslide” or “have buyer’s remorse” or “get saved” several times over because “their salvation doesn’t stick or it wasn’t “real””. They jump in and then see what they jumped into, if they question at all.

    I was raised Christian and I am not a Jew. Assumed certain things to be true without any evidence of truth. That could be choosing “blindness”. You can accept things later, but without a will to doubt you can choose “blindness”. In my younger, naive days, I believed that I should prefer the NT gospel called Matthew over the other gospels because it was considered the most “Jewish” and therefore the more “authenic”, “historical Jesus” could be found there. But I had a really big problem with the anger, hatred, demons, hell, etc that I seen in it. In my studies of NT text, I have since seen why I had and should have such a dislike for it. It is not Jewish (actually Luke, supposedly written by a non-Jew, is more Jewish).

    I favored the book of James (actually Jacob or Yaakov), because it was supposed to be the most “Jewish” and closer to the teachings of the so-called “Jerusalem church” and I always had a problem, even a dislike for Paul. I studied James/Jacob in 10 or so different English translations from the original Greek, and soon seen it was not Jewish. It doesnt even mention Jesus/Yeshua. There are several gnostic Christian concepts found and terms used in in it (like “father of lights”). However, I would still prefer it over any of the other NT texts.

    A lot of people who believe in Jesus (whom they call Yeshua in an effort to Judaize Jesus, or make Jesus “kosher”), have a real problem with Paul. Search for “Paul false apostle” on the internet and you will find anti-Paul articles by believers in Jesus-Yeshua!! The best website, by a Jesus/Yeshua follower & preacher (legitimate), to show how the teachings of Jesus and Paul differ is that of Bet Emet Ministeries. Christian scholars (from legitimate colleges & seminaries) believe only 7 of Paul’s letters were written by Paul. The early church fathers seem to be ignorant of the existence of any Paul, much less any writings of Paul. Christian (and other) scholars only assume Paul was a historical person; they can show NO evidence, outside of the NT and late 2nd or 3rd century c.e. Christian writings, that he even existed (and Paul of Acts (“of the apostles” – although some of the 12 are virtually invisible or irrelevant and the 2nd half is almost all Paul) differs quite a bit from the Paul of the “authentic Paul” letters. I see only that they might be written by the same individual. I don’t trust most non-scholarly “studies” or highly opinionated blogspots found all over the internet, but here is an interesting one about Paul forgeries; http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com/2009/01/pauls-7-authentic-letters.html?m=1. I trust more legitimate studies (although quite controversial) such as Bart Ehrman.

  191. Thomas says:

    You are entirely correct that we are each approaching this topic with different lenses. No surprise there. I would only have us ask ourselves- what is the correct lens? What lens should we have? What lens do you think 1st century Jews – and all Jews before them – should have had? Certainly not a christological one, or an anti-Christian one, either, for such a thing did not exist. Like everyone else, I have a lens, of course, and so do you, but to read the OT in light of the NT, is to put the cart before the horse. You would justifiably object if someone tried to do that to the NT, because it would be robbing the NT of its actual meaning.

    Regarding historical evidence. I have no interest in historical arguments against the NT, not just because they are used against the OT also (that would also make me inconsistent), but, as I said, because they are not the reason Jews (and myself) do not accept the claims of Christianity in the first place. However, you did use historical arguments when you cited the resurrection as positive evidence for Jesus’ divinity. If you’re going to use such arguments, fine, but if so, it’s inconsistent if one is going to then object to my raising issues and doubts about Jesus’ self-consciousness, and the nature of the earliest Christians’ worship. That’s really a side-point, because I think both are irrelevant until one can demonstrate from the OT why the NT should be considered in the first place.

    You wrote: “I do still believe that there are reasons to move from here to a much more sensitive consideration of the New Testament writings in their associations with the Hebrew texts; from there, also to an understanding of the differences between various Rabbinical and Christian readings of the scriptures as a whole, moving below mere discussion of the ‘proof verses’. You are saying that you see no reason to do this as a Jew, in which case this would only be something to consider if you really want to engage with the Christian claims and message.”

    As you know, Christianity does not claim to exist in a vacuum- it claims to be the continuation and the fulfillment of the OT; thus, the OT is where we must begin. Simply asking me to consider the NT without warrant from the OT is a non-starter; it is inconsistent with the Christian claim that Jesus is the fulfillment of OT expectations. How can I judge Jesus if I do not know what these OT expectations are? Only if I know what these criteria are can I see if Jesus met them. Only if I know what the OT says on these topics first can I determine whether the NT is congruent with these teachings, or even keeps the door open for them at all.

    We do not disagree about the need to first demonstrate this theology (or at least demonstrate that such a theology will one day be introduced in a later revelation) in the OT. As I wrote earlier, I suspect contemporary Christians accept this principle when it comes to newer religions, so we can both accept this principle here. The reason I bring up Mormonism is because you are asking me to follow a logical progression that you would unlikely even consider. The problem is- we both seem to acknowledge that the OT does not speak of the messiah being God, which one could simply say is because of a later revelation, but I can only trust a later revelation in revealing such a thing is if the OT gives me some indication that such a thing will occur, and tells me how I will know. I know of no such OT texts. Perhaps there are such texts, but if they exist, that’s what one should be discussing first.

    I have provided what I think are a number of reasons why the complete lack of teaching from the OT here precludes me from giving consideration to this claimed future revelation, but it’s not up to me to tell you why I have not accepted these claims- it’s up to the one making the positive claim. Tell me why it is not a problem for the OT not to mention this essential teaching, nor even that it would come in future. Am I missing OT texts on the subject, or do the lack of texts not matter at all? And if not, why not? And if not, what standards did you use to come to that conclusion? What standards would you use to judge future ‘revelations’ of God’s nature?

    Once again, of course we approach this with different lenses, but I think that you do not see that Jews living before Christianity certainly would not be reading the OT in a christological context, either.

    I see a (probably unintentional) double-standard, where Jews are expected to look at the NT first, and then backwards, but Christians would rightly refuse to do the same with recent religions; historical arguments can be used to prove a divinity claim, but historical arguments cannot be used to disprove that claim.

    In the OT, we are told that God established His covenant with Israel as an entire nation, as a people. He told them to worship no one else, and idolatry was a terrible sin. He did not say He would later come as the messiah; He did not say He would later present a radically re-defined revelation of who He expects Israel to worship, and so on.

    We can continue on this cycle forever, but the critical area of discussion, which needs to be demonstrated to be, is simply being assumed: consider the NT. If the NT is the fulfillment and continuation of the OT, I need to first examine the “readings of the [OT] scriptures as a whole” before I can have a “sensitive consideration of the New Testament writings.” If I am being told Jesus is the messiah, I need to first see what that job description entails before examining candidates. If you disagree, so be it, but I certainly need a good reason why I can examine the new revelation before defining and outlining what it is supposedly fulfilling.

    I most certainly appreciate your consideration of these issues, and your thoughts, but I find your assumptions (NT first, then OT) to be flawed. Not only do I find them flawed, but I think even a consistent holding to that assumption (new revelation first) would give no reason to stop at Christianity. I gave what I consider to be valid reasons why your assumption does not convince me, but I have no idea why that assumption is valid.

  192. Brian says:

    Annalise,
    The gospel of Thomas was metioned so much later because it was unknown.
    However that isn’t the point I was making; The point is christian writings are christian writings, you cannot make personal beliefs your bias of what christian text you accept as a christian.
    Whether “some” unmetioned scholars believed or didn’t believe that jesus ever existed is irrelevent their isn’t any historical evidence to support it. It is not an issue of me disliking jesus, I could not even make that judgement against someone who allegedly existed historically; I am simply not that kind of person.
    I just do not believe that historically that he even ever existed at all and the burden of proof lies with anyone who contends that he did; and not just statements that he said she said they believe, but rather concrete historical evidence of accounts by people who lived during that period of time, and or ancestors of those knew him.
    Even then you have to view all the christian claims in light of the Jewish bible, not the Jewish bible in light of the NT writings; like Thomas has said in his post, and I couldn’t agree more.
    I see where many christians almost even consider other Jewish works as if they are part of the Jewish bible canon, my contention is why not bear the same scrutiny with regards to christian writings, and why attempt to disregard a vast mojority of the christian writings from a “christian” standpoint, when even what is allegedly accepted christian canon { with a vast varying degree } between them; refers to those text that are generally disregarded by most christian circles; Why?
    Maybe because it would become relevantly evident that the current christian beliefs do not agree even with the other text, much less with the Jewish bible?
    I personally do not look at things through a lense based on my own personal feelings, rather I base things in light of what the Jewish bible says.
    G-D never says “believe” He says: Deut. 4:35 “To you it was shown” a definite distinction as to who he is or is not, or how he is or is not to be construed; anything else is defined as Idolatry

  193. Thomas says:

    Hi all,

    On another article on this blog (https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/motivations-jeremiah-211/), there’s a bit of a strange discussion going on. Does anyone else understand the issue at hand, and its relevance? To me- it looks like a misunderstanding of the article. Just curious for your thoughts.

  194. Annelise says:

    Mm, I agree with the summary you just posted, and also with Mitch’s conclusions regarding the misunderstanding. The article is coherent to me, and I think that the points within it are important to elucidate.

    It seems that ‘Messianic’ has a different experience of its central theme, and so hasn’t naturally recognised the thematic and structural markers that make the information meaningful. Rabbi Yisroel focused on the way Christians through history have often attributed reasons and motivations to rejection of Jesus, while having little understanding of the real reasons Jews hold for avoiding him. While I can’t know anyone’s heart, or even understand my own completely, I agree that this is a huge problem, whose full weight is ironically hard to appreciate unless those Jewish motivations are already understood to some extent.

    I don’t know ‘Messianic’ or her background at all, but my guess is that she has struggled more with people speaking as if Christianity were consistently abusive to Jews, and using this to invalidate her Jewish identity as a believer in Jesus. If so, then she desires to refute such a blanket claim with pieces of evidence that demonstrate positive or respectful interaction, even during the worst parts of our history. Because she seems to have read the article’s first sentence as the same sort of blanket claim, and also because of an overly specific reading of the word ‘psychoanalysis,’ I think she’s mostly engaging just with the first sentence.

    I don’t want to join the conversation, but I thought I’d still give you my understanding of it. My guess is that to engage with the conversation where it stands, you would either need to somehow clarify for her what the article really meant (though I don’t think she’s interested in discussing that), or else move to the topic she wants to talk about. She sees it as important to prove that the Christian traditions are not entirely divorced from our Jewish heritage, and that our motivations have not always been simply to form our identity in opposition to Jewishness. You would no doubt be able to give reasons why this is not in itself a proof for the validity of what we believe… But maybe it’s just too personal a conversation, dealing with things too precious and experience-based, for a blog whose conversations are more naturally focused on ideas and arguments.

    I’ve been praying that God would always help me to understand the difference between clarity and obscurity when it comes to the things that make sense to me. I guess it’s good to be praying this for ourselves, and for everyone we talk with, that God will come closer to us and our conversations 🙂

    • Annelise says:

      Just to clarify, I do intend to reply to your other posts to me later on. Thanks for patience with that, and for writing them.

      • Annelise says:

        Also, in saying “our Jewish heritage,” I don’t mean to imply I have a Jewish background, since I don’t… I just meant the heritage and identity claimed by Christianity as being grafted in to Israel.

  195. Thomas says:

    Thanks for your insight, Annelise- I was just curious as to whether I was missing something.

    I appreciate our conversation- so I look forward to hearing from you.

  196. Thomas says:

    You’re right that many/most Christian’s “motivations have not always been simply to form our identity in opposition to Jewishness.” True, and as you said, Rabbi B did not make that claim at all- it is the Jewish motivation not to accept Christianity’s doctrines which has been (and often is) under scrutiny.

  197. Annelise
    Thanks for your insight

  198. Annelise says:

    You’re welcome. The questions you asked there are good ones.

  199. Vaughn says:

    This thread seems to have petered out. But if anyone is till ‘listening’, I was wondering if the topic has ever come up here in this blog about the historical record of the temple curtain being torn as recorded in the NT? I did a bit of a search but didn’t find anything useful.

  200. Annelise says:

    I was planning to try and reply today 🙂

    Curious about that too… I tried to do a search on it last week and couldn’t find anything. My initial response to that would be that there’s probably not much evidence either way, and we would need to consider what that implies by understanding the context carefully.

  201. naaria says:

    Among many Christian scholars, the tearing of the temple veil and other supernatural events reported at Jesus’ death are considered non-historical poetic or apocalyptic imagery and are often seen as similar to “other-worldly” events found in ancient non-biblical writings about the death of well-known persons.

  202. Annelise says:

    I’ve been thinking about the three replies written to me a week ago… I don’t think I’m able to respond to them at the moment, because a lot of what you have written (particularly Thomas) articulates my own questions. I’ve decided to jump out of public conversations about these things, so I can consider and discuss them more deeply for a while. I hope you don’t mind.

    I will say that the New Testament documents are valid historical evidence by virtue of their existence, even while we consider their bias and the process behind their composition. It is highly unlikely by any standard within the discipline that these texts did not begin with a movement of Jews following a man who claimed to be Messiah and to do miracles, and who was crucified. Much, much more can be said than that, but I’m not the one to articulate it.

    Silence is an answer, but to be fair, you need to know that I can’t carry this conversation further because of my own lack of understanding. I have some thoughts with seeds of strength in them, but they are inchoate and need to be searched out much more fully, with God’s help. The reasons behind that remain to be explored. I’m still young and I don’t know a lot, so I don’t want to try and find words that aren’t from God or glorifying to who he is. I believe our conversations are important, a small part of what will happen more fully when the earth is filled with the knowledge of God. I ask that he will lead us in unfaltering love for him, and that he will bless you each with words formed in truth. Thanks for expressing these questions clearly for me as I carry them 🙂

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