Third Response to Gil Torres
So it seems I have been misunderstanding your points. This being the case can you please clarify your beliefs for me?
I understand that you believe that Jesus claimed to be divine and that he was telling the truth when he made that claim (did I misunderstand you here as well?).
How did you arrive at this belief? On what basis are people in general expected to arrive at the same conclusion that you did?
You state that you believe that Scripture is “the authoritative revelation of the will of God”.
How did you come to this conclusion? How did you conclude that the books that you find in the Scriptural canon truly belong there?
I understand that you might think that these questions are not relevant to the discussion at hand. In case I understood you correctly – I strongly disagree. The method that God set in place to teach us that that Scripture is authoritative and that these books rightly belong in the canon of Scripture were also used by God to teach us other truths – and these truths provide the true context for Scripture.
Looking forward to your response
If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.
Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.
Yisroel C. Blumenthal
There’s been so much said, but unless I’ve confused and lost myself, I don’t believe I ever said you misunderstood anything I’ve said, Yisroel. I never said the questions you asked, such as those you repeat here, are irrelevant and most definitely not those about the scriptures. So, there’s no need to “strongly disagree” with me on that point, Yisroel.
What I did state was what I described as a rush to run and throw down our strong suit in the false assumption we know exactly what that guy or those people believe or say about one thing or another. I do not have a problem; I am not opposed to discussion concerning the convictions of my beliefs. However, just as I have stated I have no need or desire to trash Israel or the Torah I also prefer to ponder some matters for our understanding, edification and proclamation. It is with this in mind that I referred to the bronze serpent, etc., as some seemingly bizarre and absurd actions with, at least some if not most of, Israel. Certainly, the ignorant of the world could look at the bronze serpent and conclude it was nothing less than rank idolatry. I explained myself on that earlier I won’t rehash that here. You took my words on that point, despite my cautious explanation, applied to Jesus and wondered what could keep one from justifying worship of a stone, animal, etc. Even so, I believe you understood, Yisroel.
The reason I believe scripture is the authoritative revelation of the will of God is also the manner in which it is sequentially upheld and affirmed by successive oral prophecy as recorded in the scriptures, generations and the same writings of the prophets. In this respect, Jesus and the apostles followed in that tradition. As an example, when Jesus quoted and affirmed passages from the Torah it was to say the was certainly aware of them and he revered those as the word of God which cannot be broken. Another example, when he quoted Jonah it was to uphold and affirm that this was not a foolish myth or fairy tale.
Here’s one query which I posted in my comment to Annelise when she uttered the familiar; the scripture never says in Deuteronomy 30 anything about a future king.
Where does the scripture ever record God declare to Adam and Eve He was God or that He created them? Where does God ever declare he desired worship and how he wanted to be worshiped by them?
These questions are not reflective of any doubt on my part. Rather, it is to illustrate through these questions how lowly and absurd our response to a text or event, either outside of our scope of understanding or which creates a troublesome reaction in our hearts, by raising the question: When did God say? Or, God never said when in point of fact, no, he did not say anything in the particular passage, but which he did state elsewhere. Peace to you. Gil
GilT, I wrote on your blog a comment that I think also answers your thoughts to me here. One other thought to consider might be this. Jews often ignore and reject the claims that they need to accept Jesus either as being contradictory to the previous revelation (as understood in Judaism) or as having insufficient evidence to cause them to consider it.
If Christians could answer every objection about contradiction with the message of Tanach and its given context, and then show also that for the Jews of Jesus’ generation there were (as claimed in the gospels) just as much reason to accept him as the ‘Son of God’ as there was to accept any of the Hebrew prophets… would that be enough to show that progressive revelation had here also taken place?
I think that this was part of Rabbi Blumenthal’s point in asking why you accept the Jewish scriptures. In our generation, how do we know for sure that Jeremiah (for example) was a true prophet, whose words are understood as God’s words in our hands?
You wrote that these scriptures have been continually upheld… but lots of religious written traditions have had this privilege in the hearts and lives of the groups that affirm them.
The question seems to be, upheld by whom? And should we trust those people?
The objections and rejections raised by Jews are not unlike the Catholic’s objection and rejection of Protestantism. A good part of the problem is the labels and terms -and my use of that label here is exceptional- adhere to themselves and which they pin on others. It’s a lot quicker than engaging in thought and dialog. My reference to Jew and Catholic in this context is not dismissive, but it is purely to call attention to our human nature common to us all. People tend to assume all or any Catholic/Jew/Muslim/atheist understands a given subject matter especially when it bears their own label. This is a gross ignorance and forgetfulness of our human nature with its many tendencies.
I object, – not as though it is an issue- to the term progressive revelation to refer to the content of my comment. Although I would agree the term definitely came to mind as I was writing (something which was not new to me) I chose not to resort to it because those are precisely the one-word zingers people will take and run without having understood anything. Please. I am not saying your use of the term casts you in that mold. My comment is of a general observation.
The reason I accept the prophecies of Jeremiah as a prophet of God is because, as one example, his prophecies concerning 1) the exile of Israel to Babylon were fulfilled as well as 2) the period of 70 years which he foretold was fulfilled also.
I’ll just give my thoughts about the claims of Catholics and the claims of Orthodox Judaism. The similarity lies in the fact that a community and its line of tradition are being pointed to as the authority behind scripture and its interpretation.
As a Protestant Christian, I grew up with a lot of misconceptions about the relationship between grace and obedience in the Catholic mindset and about the nature of their ‘prayers’ to saints, among other things. I also had the impression that most Catholics practice culturally rather than out of a real relationship with God. When I started talking with Catholic friends at university and with a priest whom I met, I realised that not only was this not the case, but Catholicism actually had an incredibly strong claim against Protestantism. (GilT, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on my understanding here.) I found the aesthetic of Catholicism unattractive compared to the way in which my own church was relating to God, and I felt wary of the nature of their worship with so many icons and statues. I also realised that if I were compelled to accept their challenge, my friends and family would not understand what it actually was I was ‘attracted’ to. But I spent a lot of time reading Catholic apologetics and getting to know their community.
One thing is an issue of contextual logic, and the other (more important) is an issue of God’s commands. I recognised the validity of the Catholic belief that ‘scripture alone’ is impossible. How could anyone know what the scripture is unless an authoritative community tells what it is? Wasn’t this authority the basis of the canon to begin with? And can’t it be interpreted in any way by many denominations, if there’s no one given authority to decide where the churches should stand? In terms of God’s revealed commands, I saw in the New Testament the references not only to the apostles’ authority, but to the leadership they appointed after them. In the early church letters after the NT, this authority was clearly traced back to the culture of the churches established by the apostles, and many of their rulings and opinions (especially about the ‘eucharist’) were similar to the Catholic and Orthodox Christian practices. So I wondered whether maybe Jesus really had established this kind of system, which the apostles and early church writings all upheld… as the orderly way of obeying what God really wanted.
In the end I rejected this claim nonetheless, not that I believed I knew everything, but because I couldn’t accept that the massive mistakes made by the Catholic church through history can be justified by a group that claims infallible authority. I understand that only particular statements by the Pope are meant to be infallible, and that other decisions can be both inspired and human/fallible. It’s a human community with a process of learning. A lot of Catholics say that nonetheless, they’d rather be in the community that God established and closer to the truth than they could be ‘outside the fold’. But for me it came down to replacement theology, actually, and the awful violence that was wholeheartedly affirmed by some popes of the time. I didn’t believe that the church had replaced national Israel as the covenant people of God, even though at the time I didn’t understand fully the implications of that. But if the Catholic church got it wrong for so, so long on an issue so close to God’s heart, I was unwilling to accept that God had given them an authority that I must accept on other issues. Maybe I was wrong, but my conclusion (as with so many of the questions I’ve grappled with over the years) was that God’s wisdom is greater than ours, and *somehow* He has given and affirmed the scriptural canon in the experiences of the wider Christian community. That had to be enough for me. I put the problem of authority on the shelf and just got on with what I knew. A lot of people who join Karaite Judaism (usually from a Protestant background, and influenced maybe by Jesus’ opinions of the Pharisees) have a similar concept of how it could be possible.
To bring it all back to Judaism. I do not agree with either Catholic or Protestant Christianity, so in my mind the two conversations are completely separate. I couldn’t accept Catholicism, even despite the arguments about what the apostles seem to have intended and believed. But when Orthodox Jews claim that their scriptures and the Torah itself were given in a national context, to be pointed to by the righteous remnant as God’s witnesses forever, from a point of view that is deliberately shaped by God as they live the Torah and affirm who they know both Him and humanity to be… they’re saying something very important. The Jewish scriptures themselves affirm this approach, by the nature of how they are written and presented. And of course the issue of authority for the canon, even though it wasn’t enough to make me accept Catholicism, is still very important.
Question: I understand that you believe that Jesus claimed to be divine and that he was telling the truth when he made that claim (did I misunderstand you here as well?).
Answer: Yeshua told the truth.
Question: How did you arrive at this belief? On what basis are people in general expected to arrive at the same conclusion that you did?
Answer: Psalm 82:1 offers a alternative to the common mistakes of Deity and mere man.
“Elohim standeth in the Adat El; He judgeth among the elohim”
(Many confuse Deity with divinity. There be only One Deity yet many divine)
However the most important way to know who someone is, assuming they be truthful is by who they say they are. Jesus said of himself: “……no one knows the Son except the Father……” (Matthew 11:27)
Therefore, if this be true, the identity of Yeshua belongs to the secret things of Hashem, period, end of story.
However if I were to speculate?
Perhaps; a unique elohim who carries the Name in him (principally similar to Exodus 20:21 although he was identified as an angel, not a elohim).