It is not easy to determine if someone (or a group of people) arrived at a theological conclusion on the basis of intellectual searching or if the conclusions were generated by some external factor and it is not always ethical to attempt to make these judgments. But when the group in question readily switches their beliefs from end to end simply in order to maintain their conclusion in the face of changing facts, it is naive and even irresponsible to take them seriously. Allow the followers of Jesus to illustrate.
According to the Christian Scriptures the followers of Jesus identified Jesus as the Messiah. This means, in the best case scenario, that the followers of Jesus had carefully and thoroughly built in their minds a comprehensive portrait of the Messiah as predicted by the Jewish prophets. These men felt that their portrait of the Messiah was so solidly grounded in Scripture that they were willing to take upon themselves the weighty responsibility of positively identifying the Messiah with all of its cosmic ramifications. But after all of their Scriptural research they still did not expect Jesus to die (Luke 24:21) and they actually saw his death as a contradiction and a refutation to his Messianic claims. The portrait that they had developed did not include suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection. They had read Isaiah 53, Daniel 7, Psalm 22 and all of the missionary proof-texts without it occurring to them that the Messiah is supposed to suffer and die.
But after Jesus died and after they believed that he was resurrected, their portrait of the Messiah underwent a radical change – now the Messiah MUST suffer, he MUST die and if you deny these Biblical “truths” than you MUST be spiritually blinded.
If the Biblical interpretation could turn around on a dime just so that it can keep up with the devotion, there is no reason to grant it any credibility. It is not a matter of being judgmental; it is a matter of being responsible and faithful to the truths with which we were entrusted.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
When the Jewish nation were told by Moses they were adulterous, stiffnecked etc, he warned them to repent, and be careful not to fall away from Gods statutes in the future. Moses then added, ” you have already done so” ie; the future is obvious, because The Lord knows your hearts.
The scriptures did predict Jesus life, death etc. Yes the disciples did not see the scriptures fully in all its truth. The NT teaches this very clearly. The NT clearly teaches that faith was the pre equisit of Seeing Christ for who He was, pre death. Gods plan for the fulness of His first coming was to be seen by the apostles very clearly post resurrection. The account of the 2 men on the road after the ressurection teaches thus.
The leaders of Israel had the Law, Prophets and the writings to see that Jesus was the Christ. He authenticated His claim, many times.
A matter of fact here. The law of Moses which God gave Israel at sinai, was not the Law Israel were practising in first century Israel. Today this is very true of course, dispersion, no temple, priest etc. Israel were blood brothers of Moses, but were not spirtual brothers.
When the very author of the Law dwelt amongst His people, for most they spat in His face. Just as the scriptures said they would. The irony is, the constant rejection is the fulfilling of the Jewish scripture.
So who were blinded most, the disciples of Christ, or the leaders of Israel who rejected Jesus?
Its not a matter of knowing the Law verbatim, its about knowing the Father who sent His Son on the account of the Law.
If Jesus and his disciples were part of the Jewish nation, then according to you they were “adulterous, stiffnecked etc.” as well. Which explains why Jesus and his disciples (of the “1st century” did not practice the law of God given through Moses.
The “Father” already had “Sons” & Daughters on earth, so a “son” did not have to be “sent”. A son could be selected and he did not have to be a “foreigner” bringing the law from overseas (Rome) nor “bringing it down from heaven”, according to the scripture given to Israel. Now in pagan polytheism, there were “divine sons of god”, so you may be claiming that status for Jesus. But “divine sons” did not need to be “anointed” by their god, since their “natural states” was much higher than that of an “anointed person” or “messiah”. The God of Israel can select and anoint an ordinary person (as messiah), but the term “sent” suggests that your view of God is not very strongly based on God’s law given to Israel through Moses. I have a feeling that your idea of sacrifice may also have little to do with God’s Law (especially if you feel that a human being can be a “true sacrifice” and acceptable to God, rather than an abomination.
Paul: Interesting comment. I think that Stiff necked can be seen in many groups Jews included. I have known many Christians who fit that category as well as many who hold the most ridiculous doctrines that other Christians decry such as handling snakes. I am sure you heard of the preacher that was handling a snake and when the snake bit him the snake died.hmmmm. As far as Jesus authenticating his claim many times (pre-cross) tell lme how. He healed? So did Elijah. He raised the dead Ditto. Even the so called New Testament states in Acts that there were Jewish healers that didn’t believe in Jesus claims. So what did he do to prove Messiah ship. He knew the woman at the well was living with a man not her husband. I have seen this demonstrated on “America got talent” Now aside from the second coming doctrine which to a biblically sensitive person whose answer is: “We will wait and see before accepting this” Jesus did nothing that was promised in our scriptures. You know Universal peace (Isaiah 2 and 11). You have hitched your wagon to the fact that the majority of Americans are brought up with a Jesus consciousness all around them. As were the Canaanites long ago with their gods. I recall listening to Billy Graham and I marveled as he just assumed Jesus being Messiah in his message. No Isaiah 11 or Ezekiel 37 just that he was and is. No dice for a Jew is in covenant relation to God and that covenant demands of us to rely only on Torah N’veeim, and Kesuvim. I doubt seriously if you realize that you must have the mind of a Jew in order to qualify any Messiah for if you don’t you will fall prey to the Anti Messiah
That is Anti = Substitute Messiah. Check out the sources…Start in Genesis.
‘Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’S servant?
Seeing many things, but thou observe not; opening the ears, but he hears not.’ Isa.42
However Paul, you must also recognise that blindness of His kinfolk and HaShem’s servant is already coming to an end, as is also predicted at the homecoming.
‘the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
And he said, It is a light thing that thou should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou may be my salvation unto the end of the earth.’ Isa.49
‘According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name;’ Ezek.39.24-5
Please let us know which Law Israel was following in first century Judea if it was not the Mosaic Law. Also please provide just one properly translated verse from the Hebrew Bible that states the Mashiach would suffer and die and that atonement is achieved by believing that person X is the Mashiach.
Here’s plain evidence he would die:
וְאַחֲרֵי הַשָּׁבֻעִים שִׁשִּׁים וּשְׁנַיִם, יִכָּרֵת מָשִׁיחַ
Here’s evidence he would obtain atonement
לְכַלֵּא הַפֶּשַׁע ולחתם (וּלְהָתֵם) חטאות (חַטָּאת) וּלְכַפֵּר עָוֺן, וּלְהָבִיא, צֶדֶק עֹלָמִים; וְלַחְתֹּם חָזוֹן וְנָבִיא, וְלִמְשֹׁחַ קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים.
Here’s evidence that following and obeying the Messiah delivers from sin and inculcates a love of God’s law
וַהֲקִמֹתִי עֲלֵיהֶם רֹעֶה אֶחָד, וְרָעָה אֶתְהֶן–אֵת, עַבְדִּי דָוִיד; הוּא יִרְעֶה אֹתָם, וְהוּא-יִהְיֶה לָהֶן לְרֹעֶה
charles soper With such “plain evidence” – why then did the disciples not expect Jesus to die? Did they not read the Scriptures? You only compound the question by claiming that this theology is obvious in the text – but at the same time you illustrate the answer.
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
Jesus was not anointed according to Torah! So, why should he be the Messiah?
The Torah of Moses which G-d gave Israel at Sinai, the same Torah observant Jews were practising in first century Israel. and that observant Jews follow today. G-d tells us only to bring sacrifices where he commands (which was not a hill outside of Jerusalem). We do not bring sacrifices anywhere else — in observance of His Torah.
G-d told us at Sinai that any “god we did not know” at Sinai or any religious practices unknown to us at Sinai were false. That includes Jesus whom our forefathers did not know about back at Sinai. The very things Moses warned us about you want us to do! We will not turn from the one true G-d.
And G-d will not turn from us even though He has punished us for our wrongdoing He never rejected us and never will. Judges 2:1 “I will take you up from Egypt and I have brought you to the land that I have sworn to your forefathers and I said, ‘I will not break my covenant with you FOREVER.” It is a fundamental principle of Judaism that the Torah received at Sinai will never be changed nor become obsolete. This concept is mentioned in the Torah no less than 24 times, with the words:
“This is an eternal law for all generations” (Exodus 12:14, 12:17, 12:43, 27:21, 28:43, Leviticus 3:17, 7:36, 10:9, 16:29, 16:31, 16:34, 17:7, 23:14, 23:21, 23:31, 23:41, 24:3, Numbers 10:8, 15:15, 19:10, 19:21, 18:23, 35:29, Deuteronomy29:28)
G-d promises to punish the Jews for our sins — but NOT to reject us. Jeremiah 46:27.”You fear not, O Jacob My servant, and be not dismayed, O Israel! for behold, I will redeem you from afar and your children from the land of their captivity, and Jacob shall return and be quiet and at ease, and there shall be none who disturb his rest. 28. You fear not, My servant Jacob, says the Lord, for I am with you, for I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you, but of you I will not make a full end, but I will chastise you justly, and I will not completely destroy you.”
Psalms 105:8-10 “He remembers His covenant forever, the word He had commanded to the thousandth generation, 9. Which He had made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, 10. And He set it up to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an EVERLASTING COVENANT”
There is a lot they don’t tell you in Christianity — and it is a shame that a religion which claims it is built on “Christian love” can express such vehement hatred against people who do nothing more than love G-d and follow His word.
G-d repeatedly tells us that He will not break His covenant with Israel EVER. Here are just a few: Leviticus 26:44-45 “But despite all this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them nor will I reject them to annihilate them, thereby breaking My covenant that is with them, for I am the L-rd their G-d. 45. I will remember for them the covenant [made with] the ancestors, whom I took out from the land of Egypt before the eyes of the nations, to be a G-d to them. I am the L-rd.”
While I am sure you wrote your post out of love wanting Jews to know the truth, is the very reason we reject what you believe. . . we trust in G-d and His holy words. . .
kudos to tsvi, shomer and devorah. devorah, don’t be fooled. this guy never posts out of love. He just posts the usual anti-Semitic b.s. that he probably learned from reading his greek testament or from his church teachers.
Reblogged this on 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources.
It’s true the disciples were completely astonished and shocked by the execution of their Rabbi, (despite repeated warnings) but to describe their awakening to their understanding of Gen.3, Zech.12.1, Ps.22, 35, 88,109, Dan.9, Amos 8.8-11, Exod.12, Lev.16, etc etc as ‘turning on a dime’ is uncharacteristically trite, if I may say so. These men went on to die or were tortured for their convictions, at the hands of Gentile idolaters as well as at Jewish sceptics, how many of us would do that on the basis of mere change of heart? The death (and resurrection) validated and rooted their conviction, it didn’t merely modify it.
charles soper My whole point was that there was no “change of heart” merely a change of theology. These men died (if they did) for their devotion, not for their theology. Their devotion preceded and produced their theology and it was not the theology that produced the devotion. This is obvious to all – their theology turned on a dime in order to keep up with their devotion.
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
Rabbi, when you say “if they did” in regards to the disciples dying for the belief that Jesus rose from the dead, you undercut yourself.
Even atheist scholars who have no vested interest in Christianity, many of whom say (in spite of the evidence) that Jesus did not exist, cannot get around the fact that the fuel for the Christian movement was their belief that he rose bodily from the dead.
As you yourself pointed out, the text of the tanakh does not need to be read the way the Christians read it, I might even add that it doesn’t need to be read the way the Pharisees read it.
Every reference to Resurrection in the Torah is only inferred, never directly mentioned. Heaven, hell, the world to come, none of those are mentioned in the written Torah.
And yet, all of those beliefs have a strong presence in both Judaism and Christianity. The only group that tried to read the Torah by itself without a lot of interpretation died out at the end of the first century.
Concerned Reader But are secular historians convinced that the disciples actually died martyr’s deaths as the Church tradition claims? Are the secular historians convinced that the disciples themselves were fueled by the belief that he rose from the dead? Weren’t the disciples “fueled” long before the resurrection claim?
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
As an ex Christian the resurrection issue never meant nothing of me. Yes it was part of the prayers but it’s not what kept me a Christian most of my life. It was that he was part of the god trinity. He could poof in and out of existence at will. I see the resurrection as a deal closer. Hey, he rose from the dead isn’t that proof enough. Plus there is also something about the investment people have in their beliefs and not wanting to look like a fool. The resurrection is not necessary when there is enough fuel to keep you going. I’m not sure but wouldn’t belief come as a result of the fuel. The resurrection plays into the story but it isn’t necessary for those who simply believed Jesus was so special in other ways. In my opinion the martyr issue is one of the churches weakest arguments.
Historians dont know what actually fueled them, or their growth, beyond that the ethic liberated the disinfranchised among the Romans, and so was popular.
We were not there. We cannot say. All we can say is that the Christian community believed Jesus was alive, and the presence of that strong belief is corroborated by Roman sources and Josephus.
Secular historians doubt a whole lot of things, but Christianity’s spread when it was persecuted is an enigma.
Ask yourself this. If you know something is not true, or not likely to be true will you die for it? No. You would only be willing to die for something you strongly believe is true, even if its a mistaken belief, or delusion.
Every record of messianism we’ve ever seen Peters out when the founder dies, or loses numbers, with the exception of Christianity, and some more modern examples.
Even in the modern examples of messianism, it’s super easy to dislodge the belief. If someone says the rebbe is alive, you take them to his grave.
Even Richard Carrier (who believes that Jesus was a total myth) acknowledges that something spurred their belief when combined with the myriad pre-existing beliefs that he thought served as roots of the Jesus story. He has no idea what that was, but he even says it had to have been something.
All of the polemics within the New Testament itself IE someone stole his body, they didn’t know where he was buried, disciples had a mass delusion, he never actually died, have all been used as naturalistic explanations for how the movement could have started spontaneously from some big farce and then evolved over time.
Something else to think about is the following. If you look at Paul of Tarsus, and the amount of attention-seeking he does in his writings, one could easily believe that he made up his vision of Jesus. That’s an easy thing to believe because he wanted notoriety within the Jesus movement.
Contrast this with James the brother of Jesus, or the Jerusalem Christians.
James’ whole emphasis on Jesus is his ethic, not a Theology of Jesus, and yet, when we read what Paul wrote, he said he received from Christians before him 1st that Jesus rose from the dead.
What makes me not doubt that the disciples thought they saw something, or the early movement was fueled by some experience is that the Torah can literally be read in any other way easier and more plausibly, and it would not require upsettimg anyone. Even a charismatic Can Only Hold charisma as long as they draw breath.
The Christian Bible even says the Jerusalem leadership offered the Christians leniency, IE Gamaliel saying “leave them alone.”
There was even a whole sect that flat-out denied that Resurrection or a world to come was even mentioned in the Torah, and that position is super easy to back up from the text, because there is so many things the text doesn’t talk about.
How easy would it have been to tell the Gentiles this before Christianity took off?
Especially since Paul was poaching converts from among the god-fearers?
How easy would it have been for the Sadducees to say “yeah guys Resurrection isn’t a thing, because the only passages that mention it are hyper allegorized by the Pharisees to make them fit a doctrine of Resurrection.”
LarryB, I’m an ex Christian who never believed Jesus was God, so that never factored in for me.
To me, what stood out about the religion of Christianity was a cumulative effect.
Christianity seemed to be how Western Europe learned about the God of the Bible, Jesus’s ethics were noteworthy, my exposure to Christianity laid an emphasis on the love of God for everybody, and I was taught that you couldn’t earn God’s favor, so you have no right of judgement over others.
Another thing was that lots of people believed in the resurrection even though they didn’t have to, and the myriad voices that spoke out against resurrection and mystical beliefs disappeared at around the time of Christianity’s ascendance.
Like you, for me the ressurection was not so central, I I didn’t need it to argue for why I believed, but it was an enigma.
It’s almost like there was once a vibrant debate over whether Resurrection was even taught in the Bible, and then the debate just stopped, even though the plain meaning of the Torah can be read without that notion even entering your mind.
The apostles were fueled by participating in Jesus’s earthly ministry, long before the resurrection. However they were not very clear on his purpose and mission –especially when it comes to his impending crucifixion . Peter declared that Jesus is the Messiah in Matthew 16:16 . However Peter reprimanded Jesus for predicting his death and resurrection (Matthew 16:22-23) . This shows that the apostles could not get around to the concept that the Messiah would suffer and die. Their beliefs changed drastically after the resurrection . They proclaimed boldly that the Jesus is the Messiah and that the Messiah will suffer , die and rise again –which can clearly be seen in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2,4:19,5:29-32). Though the twelve were fueled during Jesus’s earthly ministry , the resurrection accelerated and transformed them from timid followers to boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah.
Another point to consider-it is the norm for Christians to learn of Jesus starting from the Gospels and then progress on to the Pauline and other writings in the Christian Scriptures. This is the arrangement one will see in the New Testament. However the situation is very different for the first Christians . There was no Gospel to begin with and Paul would not have started writing his letters till much later. The Gospels came in much later than the Pauline writings and other letters. The first believers , both Jewish and Gentile Christians learnt of Jesus through the testimony of the Apostles (for Jewish Christians) and from Paul (for Gentile Christians) . The basic message is as follows:
“ For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
This is the first lesson I learnt of Jesus and the Christian faith, through reciting the Apostles’ Creed which contained these verses in the Catholic Mass.
The resurrection may not be a central criteria to base one’s faith in Jesus , at least that is what I gather from your comments-but it is a central criteria to the Christian believers back then , so much so that they were willing to die for this belief .
Another question to ponder-I apologize if it is offensive but I need to say this. LarryB has mentioned that the martyrdom is the Church’s weak argument. What do you mean by weak argument? Do you mean that martyrdom is not a relevant criterion to determine the truth of Christianity?
In turn, I would also ask the following –the Jewish people has carried on the message of the One True G-d through immense suffering and persecution , mainly by Christians for a long time. This is a dominant argument on the blog from the numerous articles and comments here. Is their suffering a main criterion for evaluating the truth of Judaism? If not , do you find the argument on Jewish suffering as weak or irrelevant justification for the truth that they bear?
If suffering or death for one’s belief is a weak factor in assessing the truth of a belief system in Christianity , then the same principle should apply in Judaism as well. Do correct me if I’m wrong.
I understand that the purpose of this blog is to combat missionary propaganda through promoting the strengths of Judaism , rather than focusing on the falsehoods of Christianity . It seems that the direction is focusing on these falsehoods , rather than on the strengths Judaism has to offer to combat these falsehoods. Do correct me if I’m wrong.
The supposed resurrection of J is not at all necessary for anyone then or now to become a martyr.
It seems you have misunderstood my comment that the resurrection is a “central criteria to the Christian believers back then , so much so that they were willing to die for this belief . ”
I am not too familiar with Christian history and maybe Concerned Reader can correct me. The belief that Jesus is the Lord and Messiah did not sit too well with society-both Jewish and Gentile at the time. Jewish Christians faced opposition from their society and the synagogue for proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah . Gentile Christians faced opposition for refusing to worship the Roman emperor due to their conviction that Jesus is Lord.
These believers held on to the conviction that Jesus is Lord and Messiah , thanks to the resurrection and that they were willing endure persecution and death rather than giving up their faith . They see themselves as following in the footsteps of Jesus , who endured suffering and death . They also await in hope of rising again from dead , just as Jesus did.
Persecution of Christians is still going on in the world today . It is not safe to be a Christian in certain countries. Innocent Christians are blown up while worshipping in churches , nuns are raped , innocent Christian girls are abducted and made to embrace a different faith , Christians are imprisoned for trivial offences -such as breaking blasphemy laws , the list goes on and on. The possibility of persecution is a reality that all Christians must face . Jesus has mentioned of this many times in the Gospels. The fact that Jesus died and rose again from the dead give them the strength to persevere.
I hope the above addresses your statement.
I used to believe that persecution and suffering as an important criterion to determine a belief system is true , thanks to Christianity . Why would the world persecute Christians unless their faith is true? Then I come across this blog and learnt of the situation of Jewish persecution because they carry the true message . This situation of suffering for the faith happens in both Christianity and Judaism . However both messages can’t be true . Either one group of followers die for following a delusion or die for holding on to the truth.Hence I conclude that the persecution/suffering factor is not a strong criterion to assess the truth of a given message.
“thanks to the resurrection and that they were willing endure persecution and death rather than giving up their faith ”. People believed J was the messiah Before he was resurrected and a rumor of his resurrection would be kinda of icing on the cake for their belief since they already believed he was the messiah. I should of said from the beginning, that the resurrection may have been part of the reason people were martryd but not the only reason. Truly, it is not necessary. That’s all I’m trying to say. Earlier CR mentioned “Historians dont know what actually fueled them,” and it would be easy to say they were martyred because of his supposed resurrection but what of other peoples who died because of their beliefs and there was no resurrection. What a shame if they were martyred since J was not the messiah. As Jim pointed out earlier the people he made the claim to that mattered he never proved it to them.
Firstly ,my apologies..the way you write your comments sometimes confuses me..guess my poor english is to be blamed .I understand the point you are trying to make now.
Did any of my comments give you the impression that I am making light persecution of other religious groups because of their convictions?Please point it out to me.I have never made light the sufferings of other religious groups that does not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. They have their convictions and their convictions is as valid as the conviction of the Christian who died acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah.
The reason I highlighted the persecution of Christians in detail because I sense from your comments that you are making light of it-I agree with CR too (sorry CR) that Heaven’s gate is a far poor comparison to what the early Christians have gone through. It is not I who is biased it is you.
That is why I emphasised that persecution or suffering by one religious group over another has no bearing on the truth of its message. A Christian may be martyred for standing up to his faith that Jesus Christ is Lord( case in point: the beheading of 21 egyptian Coptic Christians by ISIS) -their courage in living up their conviction ,no matter how delusional it may seem to you need to be applauded .
Likewise the suffering of the Jewish people for refusing to compromise their covenantal relationship with G-d need to be acknowledged .We need to make sure that this will never be repeated .We need to purge thoughts or feelings that can lead to this atrocities from our hearts.
I hope that this makes my position clear.
“Do you mean that martyrdom is not a relevant criterion to determine the truth of Christianity?
It’s not, have you ever heard of Heavens gate? A guy named Applewhite.”
…..Since people have different beliefs sometimes crazy stuff like Applewhite, it would not be wise to think their willingness to die as a way to determine the truth of their belief.
“Do you mean that martyrdom is not a relevant criterion to determine the truth of Christianity?”
It’s not, have you ever heard of Heavens gate? A guy named Applewhite. No resurrection necessary.
LarryB, due respect, but people dying in heavens gate, or people’s temple (with tranquilizers or cyanide,) is not of the same character as dying in a gladatorial arena or being savagely beaten, and then nailed to crosses, especially when there are arguments between Christian sects of the early period
about whether or not someone should seek martyrdom.
Thank you for sticking around. To me it seems more likely that when people are put under great stress they will say anything for relief. And the bastards causing it know it.
The ones doing the killing only care about causing fear. They may even tell everyone he held his belief until the end but they will kill you for the same belief. They would lie. Was a resurrection necessary for these individuals to take the chance of being killed. I think not. I cannot compete with you background, was there something that directly points to martyrdom because of resurrection?
To me it seems more likely that when people are put under great stress they will say anything for relief. And the bastards causing it know it.
That is true, unless the persons being persecuted have a strong belief or conviction preventing them from seeking relief or fleeing from that suffering, and that was the point I was making.
Being willing to die is not a Testament of truth, but it is a testament that someone has a strongly held belief.
When Rabbi B said “if they died” regarding Jesus’ students, I was pointing out that denying something like their martyrdom, accomplishes nothing. His point was that they “just” had a change of theology. If that were the case, (that those men had no convictions,) history would look different.
Martyrdom was a big part of Christianity IN SPITE OF the fact that Christisns had many other get outta jail free options.
It isn’t a testament of truth, but it is clearly a testament to convictions.
I agree and I hope I made that point in my last post.
Hi Concerned Reader,
“Martyrdom was a big part of Christianity IN SPITE OF the fact that Christisns had many other get outta jail free options”
What do you mean by the above statement?
Do you mean that testament of conviction that the Christian held dear is so trivial and that the suffering these persecuted Christians endure is unnecessary? That the Christian asked for it?
No offense. Perhaps you may not be aware of the real situation of these persecuted Christians. You live in a country that values human rights. You enjoy the right to free speech and the right to worship. This in turns give you the right to set up churches and cults that may advocate skewed belief systems in which you assume is part of Christianity.
There are Christian communities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East that do not enjoy the same freedom as you do. We live as religious minorities in countries where there are restrictions to our freedom of worship , or this freedom is denied altogether. I mentioned earlier that it is not safe be a Christian in certain countries , and by this I do not mean missionizing , just living as one. From my personal observation, these restrictions does not arise because of missionizing (though it may aggravate the situation), but from the unfounded myths and negative perception of the Christian by the religious majority.
A Muslim friend once told me that he appreciated the teachings and beauty of Islam better while furthering his studies in a country where Muslims are a religious minority. I agree with him . Living as a religious minority forces the religious community to focus on the core teachings of the religion . There is no such thing as “prosperity Gospel” and other innovations . The main goal is to follow the tenets of the faith to the best of one’s ability given the restrictive circumstances. If one is given the choice of recanting belief in Jesus or death and if the choice is to hold on to one’s convictions then martyrdom is the only outcome-there is no get outta free jail options.
I have come to learnt from this conversation (with you and LarryB) that Christian persecution and martyrdom is taken lightly here. I sense the difficulty to accept that religious conviction brought about by the resurrection is the central reason Christians then and now to endure persecution and death. You see this conviction of these Christians is trivial and that they brought this problem upon themselves when other options is open. With all due respect , there is a bias here.
Not long ago you said, “Firstly ,my apologies..the way you write your comments sometimes confuses me..guess my poor english is to be blamed .I understand the point you are trying to make now.” . Then you said “The reason I highlighted the persecution of Christians in detail because I sense from your comments that you are making light of it-”. So which is it? I have mentioned nothing of current religious persecution so yes you could only get a wrong “sense”of my feelings on these matters. As for my opinion, I fully accept that I can be wrong. I was wrong about Christianity for years before dumping it.
I sincerely apologize for my remark that you take the situation of Christian persecution and martyrdom lightly.
I was offended by your initial comparison of the mass suicide at Heaven’s gate to Christianity and could not get over that. You have explained your position later on but I did not fully get it ,despite my initial apology.
You mentioned that people believed Jesus is the Messiah (during his lifetime) and that his resurrection is the icing on the cake i.e a confirmation of their belief about him .As such the resurrection is not the only reason that fueled the early Christians to die for their faith.
I would disagree on that.It is true that many people believe Jesus as the Messiah during his lifetime , but his own disciples ,except for John deserted him after the arrest.Peter denied of having known Jesus three times. They were too afraid to be associated with Jesus despite acknowledging him as the Messiah.
That totally changed after the resurrection. The same disciples that deserted Jesus during his arrest now boldly proclaimed him as the Lord and Messiah. They were not afraid to proclaim this to the Jewish authorities at the expense of being flogged and imprisoned.From this I would conclude that the resurrection is the central factor behind their convictions,even to the point of death.
I know that Christianity is wrong-putting a created being on par with G-d and giving him worship due to G-d alone is very wrong. However I do believe the resurrection actually happened .As Jim pointed out , I too wonder why the resurrected Jesus did not show himself to the Sanhedrin.If he is the Messiah and if his role is to uphold Torah,then he should subject himself to scrutiny by the Jewish authorities ,who are given the authority to be judges of the nation.
However ,acknowledging Christianity is wrong does not mean that I can deny the good that come out of it. That includes taking lightly the sacrifices of Christians ,both past and present in being true to their convictions. The early Christians did not ask to be martyred . I don’t believe that they engage in a suicide attempt just for Christianity to grow . I also don’t believe that these persecutions are a myth as proposed by Dr Candida Moss -that this is a propaganda by the Church to establish orthodoxy. I believe the Church was established by sincere people who came to a wrong set of conclusions based on what they see and hear . The followers that came after them continued their legacy to what it is today.
My sincere apologies to you once again.
I’m sorry for causing the confusion, although I am used to it, you might want to pull your hair out at times. As for me, I do not believe anything that’s written in the New Testament. Nothing. This is not a statement about the goodness of people and the good they did back then, or about the people who believe in it now. It’s not a statement about their sanity. It is my belief, not faith, there is a God, using my definition of belief and faith. If not you may want to pull your hair out again. Anyway, It’s also reasonable that it took more than evolution to go from atoms to amoebas. From what you have written It appears you believe in god. That is a huge agreement and should be enough for people get along and not kill each other which hasn’t always worked out.
The first part, the beginning if you will, of the Christian bible, is the Torah. Well, every copy of the Christian bible that I have. On Sundays, preachers of all sorts, not only preach the Net Testment, they also preach what they call the Old Testment. It is reasonable to believe that if they preach the teachings of the old Testment, they must believe in it. At the same time it’s reasonable that the two, OT and NT, must agree on basic things, otherwise why preach it. Conversations may appear to attack the New Testament when the misquotes of the Torah are shown by it writers, when it’s reasonable to see its the other way around. J himself said that not one word will change yet here we are with misquotes changing what was taught.
No one can compete with your belief and the experts you have trusted. Pointing out the truth of the misquotes in the NT is part of the strength of Judaism and keeping to the covenant and its teaching and not letting others change Torah. If one was able to show the error in Torah and the truth in the NT then all would fall apart. Which is what J and his followers tried to do and was mostly rejected back then. Then their followers wrote their own bible. Like you I use what logic I have to figure things out, so don’t take anything I say personal.
Do you mean that testament of conviction that the Christian held dear is so trivial and that the suffering these persecuted Christians endure is unnecessary?
Sharon S, No on the contrary I’m not trivializing Christian suffering.
I was pointing out that these people did indeed have a strong conviction that what they believed was true because in Roman times, they were offered an out, ie deny Jesus and they would not be persecuted.
They wouldn’t accept that, so they would be persecuted.
They demonstrated much conviction.
Hi Concerned Reader,
My understand the phrase “get outta jail free options” as the first Christians had other options other than denying Jesus is Lord or death . They were given other options other than these two but they chose martyrdom instead.
You also mentioned of “arguments between Christian sects of the early period
about whether or not someone should seek martyrdom.” which I thought to mean that these options were available and discussed but the first Christians deliberately choose martyrdom. I came to a conclusion that there is a perception of Christian persecution as something brought about by the Christian and not because they had no other options (to deny Jesus) ,then and even now. That is why I thought that there is a bias .
Thank you for making clear your position.I may have misunderstood what you meant , like how I misunderstood LarryB’s recent comments. My apologies for accusing you of bias.
I have skimmed through the conversation here but I am little confused. I recall how you have advocated or defended Islam in the past, over here I see you in defense of Christianity. Can you please clarify what your current beliefs are and what is the main argument (or proof-text) that brought you to that conclusion.
To clarify my current belief- I believe that there is one G-d that creates us all . He has revealed His will to a particular nation at a certain time in history , through a prophet that he validated publicly (Exodus 19:9) . He is known as the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is G-d and there is no other (Isaiah 45:22). I worship Him alone .
I understand the confusion. It seems that I am flip flopping –on one hand I am defending Islam in our previous conversation and defending Christianity here. What I am commenting is far from the above statement. I would like to explain the reason behind this and it may be quite lengthy , so please bear with me.
I am raised Catholic .I developed an interest in Islam out of concerns on the nature of God and what seemed to be idolatrous practices in the Catholic faith. I come to an appreciation of Islamic teachings , mainly on the absolute unity of G-d and the error of idolatry . However there were questions and issues that I could not resolve where Islam is concerned. I then made a decision to return to the Catholic faith.
However , I still could not get the concerns on the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus out from my mind. During this time , I come across videos of Jewish counter missionaries and their polemics against Christianity . I also come across this blog and learn a lot more from here. The arguments seem at first glance to be similar to those of muslim apologists where idolatry is concerned .I thought initially that Judaism share strong similarities with Islam as both are monotheistic faiths and that I can understand Judaism from the lens of Islam. I remembered we discussed revelation and the 7 laws . I had difficulty to accept these concepts and relied on what I learnt from Islam (which is more universal on this matters ) to argue my concerns . That is why I advocated the Islamic view in our conversation.
I learnt a lot from the previous conversation with you and others on “Sufficient” .Yet the whole conversation made me disillusioned with the whole idea of seeking truth. I decided to go back to Catholicism-again.
You may think that I am “turning on a dime” here. However after exploring for so long and being disillusioned by what I learnt, going back “home” (the Catholic faith) seems to be the best option .However, that does not mean that I intend to go back to the Catholic faith without any solid reason. I want to build an appreciation of the faith , starting from the resurrection of Jesus and hopefully able to return to church.
I come to realize that I tend to take the side of the anti-Christian/monotheistic camp (Jews and Muslims) and was biased towards the Christian/Pro Jesus camp . Muslim apologists tend to rely on the works of secular historians (and even Jewish counter missionaries) in their critique of Christianity . I read the works of these secular/anti-Christian historians .According to them the Church that we have today is not the church started by the Apostles (the twelve Jewish followers of Jesus) . There is a difference between the theology of the Apostles and that of Paul . The Jewish Christians have died out by the third or fourth century and the Christian believers are predominantly gentile from that time . These gentile believers in turn bring in pagan elements that we see in the Church , especially in the Orthodox churches today.
I started to read works of scholars from the opposite camp and was surprised to see that there is evidence for continuity between the present day Church to the apostles , the earliest witness of Jesus. The apostles , despite being Jewish and monotheistic , somehow see Jesus as an agent of G-d and as such worship him alongside G-d. There is no major difference between the theology of Paul and the apostles. It seems that that Christianity , in particular the Catholic faith is on solid ground .
This is the reason behind why I defend Christianity.
I am keen to go back to the Catholic church. However , there is one thing that is stopping me from doing that – Following Jesus requires accepting his divinity . I am required to worship him as I would worship G-d . The concept of Messiah , though important to you as a Jew ,unfortunately does not matter to me as much. I remembered Rabbi Blumenthal’s many articles on idolatry – for the most part these articles are in the context of the covenant relationship between G-d and the Jewish people , but there are a few that is addressed to a wider audience. “Idolatry and the Definition of Marriage” is one of them. That article is a good reminder. How can I, a created being worship Jesus, another created being?
I hope the above answers your questions.
Thank you for taking the time to write back and clarify. I found you’re story rather intriguing. You speak of returning to Catholicism, the faith of your upbringing, as you feel most comfortable there. Not that I have an issue with you doing that, but is it based on convenience, especially given the disillusion you spoke about in search of the truth, or is it a logical conclusion of yours. If it is a logical conclusion, I would love to discuss it. If it is convincing enough, perhaps I’ll join Catholicism. If it’s baseless, perhaps you’ll consider living as a Noahide Jew. I just think think it’s important to discuss such issues, because at the end of the day this is what life is all about – I wouldn’t want to be misconstrue the truth.
The truth about truth might be discomforting for many of us but the reality is that truth really doesn’t care about our feelings. We shouldn’t judge a religion based on our impression of it or our feelings towards it (especially given that that we have no basis of knowing G-d’s desires). When determining the truth of a religion, we must be very critical of it because all religions universally contradict one another and only one of them at the end of the day can actually be the Word of G-d.
I currently believe in Judaism not out of convenience or out of my feelings towards it – but because of the basis and evidence that suggests that Judaism is the exclusive Word of G-d. It is a very logical approach – and logic, as opposed to feelings, is the tool that we use to calculate and determine any fact in life, including the facts about spiritual and religious truth.
What is the logical basis for the belief in Christianity, if there is, that draws you towards it? Is it Isaiah 53? Is it the Resurrection? Or perhaps a different proof-text?
Looking forward to hear from you!
My intention to return to the Catholic faith was initially out of disillusionment. However what I learnt (or rediscovered) about the Catholic faith does give me sufficient reason to believe in Jesus and the Church.
You asked “What is the logical basis for the belief in Christianity, if there is, that draws you towards it? Is it Isaiah 53? Is it the Resurrection? Or perhaps a different proof-text?”
My answer would be the resurrection.
The resurrection was the central belief of the first Christians. The first believers , both Jewish and Gentile Christians learn of Jesus through the testimony of the Apostles (for Jewish Christians) and from Paul (for Gentile Christians). The basic message is as follows:
““For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
This is the first lesson I learn about Jesus and the Christian faith.
Is there a logical basis to believe in the resurrection? No one can confirm or deny that it actually happened. Christians believe that it happened based on the testimony of the Apostles. I don’t think the Apostles were able to endure persecution, imprisonment and death for a lie –assuming if they lied about the resurrection. The resurrection is the reason Christianity exists. Without the resurrection, the preaching of Paul and the Apostles is useless and so is the Christian faith. Christians are a people most to be pitied
(1 Corinthians 15: 14,19)
However, I mentioned in another comment that the apostles experienced the risen Jesus which they saw as a fact (Acts 4:20). Unfortunately the warning on false prophets as per Deuteronomy 13 and 18 flew out of their consciousness, eclipsed by the presence of the glorified Jesus in their midst. Most of them came to a wrong set of conclusions and proclaimed these conclusions as truths, however there were some who doubted (Matthew 28:17) . I believe that the resurrection did take place .However it is meant to be a test (Deuteronomy 13:3) . The Apostles failed that test and their legacy led a big portion of humanity astray.
I hope the above answers your questions.
Dovid. You should read my article Starting Points. In it, I explained several reasons why a rational person can come to accept Jesus as the Messiah, or as a person who was important to western civilization without any reference to the resurrection, or Reliance on it.
Judaism stands or falls on the Sinai revelation, but in order to accept the Sinai revelation as true, and it’s Unique claim as true, you have to trust the testimony of the Bible and the Jewish people first.
Outside historical critical verification of claims made in the Torah is very hard to come by
The argument for national revelation is viewed as circular reasoning by some people who come at the question of truth and religion from the outside with a critical approach.
Christianity is easier to believe in from a strictly critical perspective because there is a lot of intriguing historical data you can point to that does not 1st rely on trusting the stories of the church, or Christian texts.
-Roman and Jewish attestation to a historical Jesus and persecution of his followers.
– his followers dying when they didn’t strictly have to for their belief in the resurrection is strong testimony (whether one thinks they were decieved or not,) that we can say they believed it very strongly.
– willingness to die for a belief that is barely, and I do mean barely even mentioned in the Torah of Moses when there was no need to.
( why would a person do that if they didn’t believe it was true, or had good reason to believe that it wasn’t likely to be true.)
Another thing is, you can follow Jesus just on the Merit of his ethics, but that was not enough for his disciples, and they didn’t use that as a means of escaping persecution.
It would have been easy to follow Jesus without making it about something Supernatural.
The book of James is a testament to what happens when Focus is placed on Jesus’s ethics, and not theology.
– The historical curiosity that the only voice against the doctrine of the resurrection of the Dead, IE Sadducees disappeared after the first century, not just physically, but ideologically.
(Ie even though you can read the entire Torah without assuming its talking about Resurrection or a world to come, both rabbinic Judaism and Christianity believed that it was heresy to deny the future resurrection, when previously you could have an argument about it.)
To A CHRISTIAN that seems very odd, if in fact nobody ever actually saw a resurrection event of some kind.
– the Gentile World learned about the Bible largely through the ascendance of Christianity, so there is the refrain
” how can Christianity be bad, when it was used (some might say by god) to civilize large parts of the non-jewish world?”
– Messianic movements with similarity to Jesus’ movement have Arisen since Christianity, so if there are false beliefs in Christianity, it is not solely sourced from the New Testament text because it occurs in other movements within Judaism.
When Judah halevi first formulated the argument for National revelation, he argued it strictly from the standpoint of a discussion between Jews and Christians and the Muslims, precisely because we all believe in the truth of the Torah if we are members of these religions.
IE if you are Jewish Christian or Muslim, Torah and Sinai has to serve as the ground truth because without it neither Muhammad nor Jesus could claim to be true Prophets.
The key to answering the question of why so many people would still go to Jesus as opposed to the source, is because most of the people in the world are coming at the question from the outside, from a critical and questioning perspective.
They don’t necessarily trust what’s written in
the Hebrew Bible by itself, or even the Christian Bible by itself , they needed
something else to Spur their interest in these questions.
They needed personal skin in the game if you will.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I would like to comment first on the Resurrection and then on the martyrdom of the disciples of Jesus. First off as you mentioned, there’s absolutely zero evidence that suggests there was a Resurrection. Similarly there’s no evidence to disprove it. But obviously the burden of proof is on the claimant who wishes to make a wild claim such as the Resurrection. This is especially so if it is used as the basis for belief in a specific faith. With the same credibility as the New Testament, any random person can claim that a specific individual was resurrected, except that any rational being wouldn’t believe this wild claim. Why should the New Testament be any different?
Regarding the persistence of the apostles and their martyrdom – who said it ever happened? The New Testament. But the problem is that this very book wasn’t proven yet to be reliable history, especially given that they had an obvious agenda to promote Christianity. So how can we use these stories of inspiration – which we have no idea that it actually happened – as the source of faith in the Resurrection and as a result in Christianity.
Moreover, even if they actually did suffer and die as recorded in the New Testament, that wouldn’t suggest there was a Resurrection. If they were truly loyal to Jesus, as their story does indeed go, it is understood that they would want others to believe in him as well. When they realized their message wasn’t being heard, they decided to use any means to convince the populace to join their belief (they probably had the belief that it is a good thing to lie for the sake of a greater purpose). They probably viewed their martyrdom as their path to paradise together with their mentor Jesus.
Remember the saying extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. No religion should be allowed to advocate for belief in it with petty arguments such as the Resurrection, the Islamic conquest, or even perhaps the Mass Revelation argument. I do however believe in Judaism thanks to some extraordinary evidence, among them are prophecies that were so clearly laid out and so clearly fulfilled. See https://drive.google.com/open?id=1317Gy38S90zp2I9QtjIW8Tf5xTsScY0G
I look forward to hearing your thoughts,
Thank you for feedback . Firstly let me just say that you have raised very good questions . I understand your questions are as follows:
1.Burden of proof for a wild claim such as the resurrection lies on the claimant
2.The new testament is not a historical document but rather a set of books to promote Christianity and so it should not be relied upon as a source of faith in the resurrection.
3.That the apostles used whatever means necessary ,including lies and martyrdom to convince the populace on their message
4.Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence . You view the resurrection and even the Mass revelation argument (which I assume is for Judaism) as petty arguments. You see the fulfillment of prophecy in Deuteronomy 28 and the survival of the Jewish nation despite that it had taken place as extraordinary evidence .
Firstly let me go to point no (4) first . I disagree with you that the resurrection and Mass revelation argument are petty arguments to advocate for belief. Both the birth of the Jewish nation and Christianity started in the same manner –through revelation . The difference is the number of people who witnessed the revelation –a few million people witnessed the revelation at Sinai and up to 500 people the appearance of the risen Jesus. The revelation is handed down to subsequent generations of Jews and of the Christian believers through testimony –from a Jewish parent to child and from the Apostles to the believers . The Scriptures follow from that revelation.
The extraordinary claim of Judaism -the survival of the Jewish nation , despite persecution, dispersion and threat of assimilation is true . However I would dispute that this phenomena is due to Divine providence. What makes the Jewish nation special in the first place that its survival is due to the Divine hand at work? The answer lies in Mass revelation.
Similarly I don’t think that the resurrection is a petty argument to advocate belief in Christianity . As I have mentioned in a previous comment, without the resurrection, the preaching of the Apostles and Paul is useless and so is the Christian faith. Christians are a people most to be pitied. If the resurrection is not true then there is no longer any reason for one to remain Christian . Missionaries , pastors , priests etc will be out of jobs .They will not be motivated as much to propagate set of teachings or philosophy on the ethical teachings of a dead Rabbi . That is not Christianity.
I have argued why resurrection is not a petty argument to advocate belief . Let me reply to points (1) and (2). I have replied this in response to a thought experiment by Jim in another thread (“Sufficient”) .I will repeat some of the points here .
Point (1)- The early believers knew of Jesus through the testimony of the Apostles and of Paul. The New Testament come in later and it is a faithful account on their testimony and teachings .I would regard the speech by Peter in Acts 2 as ramblings of madmen and that one would not treat him seriously -yet many believers were added to their number that day .Peter and John were subsequently arrested and brought to Sanhedrin for preaching the resurrection of Jesus at the Temple . Why is that so when their statements can be viewed as ramblings of mad men ? The authorities could have produced the body of Jesus to disprove that fact and stop the mission of the Apostles. That did not happen. Who then should bear the burden of proof in this case?
Point (2)-The New testament , apart from promoting Christianity , is honest enough to record the Apostles as being ignorant and fearful in many places in the Gospels . The New Testament is also honest enough to record the Apostles’ initial belief on the resurrection. They did not believe when the women told them that the tomb is empty (Luke 24:11). Peter saw the strips of linen of the tomb and wondered what happened (Luke 24:12). Thomas , an apostle doubted that Jesus rose from the dead , saying “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”(John 20:25). It was only made clear when Jesus appeared personally to them . The New testament is also honest enough to record disagreements –such as between the Jewish believers and Paul on whether the Gentiles should circumcised (Torah observance) in order to be saved (Acts 15:1-2) .
These incidents can be regarded as a “criterion of embarrassment” which “a type of critical analysis in which an account likely to be embarrassing to its author is presumed to be true as the author would have no reason to invent an account which might embarrass him or her” (source: Wikipedia). Hence the New Testament can be regarded as a credible source on the resurrection.
As to point (3) , I have read somewhere that “liars make poor martyrs” . I don’t think that the Apostles will go to the extent of lying and deliberately arranging for their deaths just to convince the populace of their beliefs . You have to study the difference in behavior of the Apostles during the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus and after the resurrection. Peter , despite declaring that Jesus is the Messiah (Matthew 16:16) actually denied of knowing Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75) for fear of his life . The Apostles , like other Jews thought that the Messiah is supposed to deliver Israel from Roman oppression , not dying at their hands. All this changed after the resurrection . Peter was no longer fearful but he proclaimed boldly that Jesus is the Lord and Messiah (Acts 2) . What else would change him from being a fearful man to one who boldly proclaim Jesus as the Messiah if not for the resurrection?
Before I end , I would like to go back again to point (4) –extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You have put in a very good evidence in support of Judaism . Is there a similar phenomenon in Christianity? I can just think of what Gamaliel , a Pharisee and teacher of the law spoke when the Apostles were arrested and tried before the Sanhedrin “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin it will fail. But if it is from God , you will not be able to stop these men, you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 4:38-39).
I can put in some examples that Concerned reader has written earlier such as the conviction of the first believers and that it is catalyst to the spread of Christianity as well as Torah teachings to the ends of the earth . The resurrection has continuously inspired many people to change their lives for the better as well as to fight injustice and oppression .The belief in the resurrection of Jesus has given hope that good will ultimately triumph over evil .
But then again , this can also be regarded as a test or as what Maimonides claim in Laws of Kings, Laws 11:6-8.
Hope the above answers your questions.
Hi Concerned Reader,
Thank you for your input. I would like to quote your main points and respond accordingly, so please bear with me.
“Judaism stands or falls on the Sinai revelation, but in order to accept the Sinai revelation as true, and it’s Unique claim as true, you have to trust the testimony of the Bible and the Jewish people first.”
There are different presentations of the Mass Revelation argument but the very shallow one, that’s unfortunately usually presented, indeed bears the issues of circular reasoning you mention. The real Mass Revelation argument is much more complex but the idea is basically that there’s no plausible historical scenario that could explain the emergence of a Mass Revelation claim if it in fact has never happened. This is a great discussion (that was discussed quite recently on this blog in post tilted “Sufficient”, I believe) but one that I think should be avoided for now because I believe that the Mass Revelation argument isn’t incredibly strong. The main reason I believe in Judaism is because of the clear fulfillment of prophecy. See https://drive.google.com/open?id=1317Gy38S90zp2I9QtjIW8Tf5xTsScY0G
“Christianity is easier to believe in from a strictly critical perspective because there is a lot of intriguing historical data you can point to that does not 1st rely on trusting the stories of the church, or Christian texts.”
That evidence only says that there probably was a man named Jesus who claimed to be a Messiah. Beyond that, there’s absolutely no evidence of anything of Christianity outside of the New Testament.
“– his followers dying when they didn’t strictly have to for their belief in the resurrection is strong testimony (whether one thinks they were deceived or not,) that we can say they believed it very strongly.
I would really appreciate if you can send me a link or reference for this. I have never seen such a thing.
Also see my reply to Sharon about the martyrdom of the apostles.
“It would have been easy to follow Jesus without making it about something Supernatural.”
I’m having a hard time chewing that; to me it seems obvious that a faith with supernatural components has a major advantage, which is why the vast majority of religions do claim supernatural elements.
“– The historical curiosity that the only voice against the doctrine of the resurrection of the Dead, IE Sadducees disappeared after the first century, not just physically, but ideologically.”
That says more about Rabbinic Judaism than it does about Christianity.
“– the Gentile World learned about the Bible largely through the ascendance of Christianity, so there is the refrain”
The same argument can be made, at least on smaller scale, about Islam – that through Islam, so many Gentiles came to believe in (proper) Monotheism (and to some extent, the Bible). And any argument which can be made at least on a smaller (yet comparable) scale with another religion, cannot be used as a valid argument.
” how can Christianity be bad, when it was used (some might say by god) to civilize large parts of the non-Jewish world?”
Christianity is in fact not bad. Historically, there have been bad people who have used Christian doctrines to promote their anti-Semitic agenda, but that doesn’t make the actual New Testament bad. However, just because it isn’t bad, doesn’t mean it is true. In fact, there are many religions (and perhaps most) that aren’t bad. Christianity hasn’t civilized large parts of the world to my extent of knowledge of history. If you are speaking of Judaeo-Christian values, then the exact same argument can be used by Judaism, that through Christianity, which was sort of used as a tool for Judaism, the Jews were “a light onto the nations”. I have so much more to say about this, but I’ll try to keep this short.
Let me know if I missed out anything or misunderstood your insights.
Josephus mentions that Jesus existed, but not only that. Josephus also mentions that James, (the brother of Jesus) was stoned to death.
So, its not just the New Testament claiming that disciples died for their faith.
The Christian Bible also says that James did not believe in Jesus as the messiah while Jesus was alive.
The Christian Bible indirectly shows (when read critically) that Paul and James (via their respective schools of thought,) disagreed with each other fundamentally about theology vis Jesus.
The Church traditionally likes to claim that there was accord between James and Paul, but that is not what the text read by itself shows
This tells me that it doesn’t follow that the students of Jesus colluded with each other to make up a lie that Jesus rose from the dead.
“Josephus mentions that Jesus existed, but not only that. Josephus also mentions that James, (the brother of Jesus) was stoned to death.”
It doesn’t say why he was stoned to death (e.g. for claiming a resurrection), making the argument a non-begginer. Additionally, the were many Jews as well as muslims who gave up their life for their belief.
“This tells me that it doesn’t follow that the students of Jesus colluded with each other to make up a lie that Jesus rose from the dead.”
That’s a very vauge argument, especially if used as the basis for belief. There are many people and groups which get together for a greater cause they share in common.
Concerned Reader, may I ask what your background is?
You make a few good points that I will address one by one. If I understood you correctly, your first point was comparing the Mass Revelation of Judaism to the 500 witnesses of the Resurrection. But allow me to give a fundamental difference between the two claims. In the Mt. Sinai claim, the Torah claims that ALL Jewish people were there. Hence, ANY child can ask their parent and grandparent who were the witnesses themselves or heard from THEIR parents in tradition.
By the claim of the 500 witnesses by the Resurrection (which curiously is only mentioned by Paul), it isn’t the ancestors of all the future believes and it isn’t specified WHICH 500 people or their location etc. Thus it is a claim that is unverifiable. A believer cannot ask their parents, which chances are wasn’t part of that group of 500, and cannot even go verify with the unspecified group of 500 people – who were probably understood to be of previous generations (granted the critical scholarship that dates Matthew to much after Jesus’ time).
Your next point about the Divine Providence of the Jewish survival, I agree with you. We can both understand how the fulfillment of these prophecies are evidence for the divinity of Torah.
You’re next point was that the Resurrection should not be viewed as a petty argument for Christianity. While you do demonstrate that it is a KEY TENANT in the Christian FAITH, my point was to say that the EVIDENCE brought from the Resurrection account is petty and vague – meaning that there’s no historical data to back it up, other than the New Testament.
Regarding your points about the accuracy of the New Testament: First off, we cannot use the actual New Testament account about Peter’s speech as support for the very historical accuracy of this document. Secondly, you raise the question of why the opponents of Jesus couldn’t produce his body as evidence against the Resurrection. My mind is racing with different scenarios that could have easily happened, among them: (1) the Resurrection claim was formulated or publicized at a much later time when the grave of Jesus was forgotten. (2) After the killing of Jesus, the Romans or opponents of Jesus disposed his body into the ocean or burned it. The NT’s account of his burial could be later fabrication of the story that was heard from legends of their grandparents. (3) The disciples may have stolen his body and hid it somewhere else in order to convince the populace in the teacher they were so faithful to. (4) An individual follower of Jesus may have secretly stolen the body. This would convince the disciples themselves that there actually was a resurrection.
These scenarios, among other ones, are much more likely than the unlikely earth-shattering event of a Resurrection. A true rationalist would require extraordinary evidence for the wild claim of a Resurrection.
On your next point about the honesty of the New Testament writers: I have heard this argument before also for the Torah but I never found it convincing. Honesty is a very obvious tool used by anyone smart enough to realize how well it captures the reader. Additionally, the NT writers may have been all innocent and faithful. However, they are recording legends that developed over the century and turned into inaccurate history.
To your next point regarding the fact that “liars don’t make good martyrs”: While that is true of MOST cases, there may be people who are ready to do that. Those people don’t suddenly deserve credibility thanks to their stubbornness. Moreover, who is to say that the apostles actually submitted lives for Jesus, and more importantly, who is to say that they did it specifically for the Resurrection. Using the NT as the source for the story would be circular reasoning.
Regarding your final point about the comparison of the Jewish exile/survival phenomena to the prediction of Rabbi Gamaliel: They are different on so many levels. First of all, the Jewish survival phenomena is a string of prophecies being fulfilled. Secondly, this same logic of Rabbi Gamaliel can be applied, almost on the same scale, to Muslims whose numbers trail those of Christians. Thirdly, it is a very vague prediction that only speaks about the survival or failure of the Christian faith. There are more differences between the two, but I believe these shall suffice.
I hope I’m not coming across as aggressive, I’m merely trying to be faithful to logic which sometimes may be blunt. Let me know what you think, looking forward to hear from you!
Thank you for your feedback . Your points do pack a punch and it took me quite a while to digest it all in . However they do make me think . I will attempt to answer your concerns , which are as follows:
1.The mass revelation is more credible than that of the resurrection-few million versus 500 people .There is a strong testimony from every Jewish parent to every Jewish child . Not so with the resurrection and its account in the NT.
2.You view the resurrection as a claim that is unverifiable as it is only accounted for in the NT .
3.Your question the historical accuracy of the NT and the fact that it could be recording legends that developed over the century and turned into inaccurate history. You raised the example of the burial of Jesus, which could turn out to be a fabrication.
4.You view the NT as the source on the narrative of the apostles , not the other way round. As such my argument of “liars make poor martyrs” is viewed as circular reasoning.
5.You pointed out the many possible scenarios of why the opponents of Jesus could not produce his body, including the possibility of deceit by the Apostles.
6.The Jewish survival phenomena is a string of prophecies being fulfilled (which qualifies it as an extraordinary claim to you). Rabbi Gamaliel’s declaration logic can be applied other religions such as Islam boasts of a large number of adherents and not only Christianity.
I will address points (1) , (2) and (6) . You speak of the Jewish survival phenomena as an extraordinary claim . I have done some checks and found Zoroastrians have the “symptoms” of the same phenomena as the Jews. The Zoroastrian religion is the oldest monotheistic religion in the world predating Judasim .The Parsi community (followers of Zoroastrianism) number about 200,000 in the world today which is much smaller than the Jewish population . They do not assimilate like Jews .The Parsis were persecuted and scattered all over the world , yet they still exist and maintain their religious practice in the world today. Surely a divine hand might be at work here. So is the phenomena of Jewish survival truly an extraordinary claim?
Can we prove that the Mass Revelation event occurred outside Torah, Jewish tradition and the Jewish community ? It is a given that followers of Abrahamic faiths such as you and I would believe in it easily. How about those who are not adherents of these faiths , such as the Hindu and Buddhist? Would they have believe it as easily as you and I? Can the Mass Revelation event be attested to outside of Torah , the Jewish tradition and the Jewish community? Is there a corresponding evidence in the history of Egypt or in the works of secular historians of the past about this event ? If I’m not mistaken there is no historical proof that the exodus event have taken place . I have come across opinions that Judaism could have developed gradually over time and that it may have taken on influences of other monotheistic religions that precede it such as Zoroastrianism . I have also come across opinions that the Jewish nation was once a polytheistic nation who gradually took on the character of monotheism .
In light of the above , is it fair for you then to discount the resurrection as compared to Mass revelation? Both are extraordinary claims and as I have shown the proof of Jewish survival may not be so extraordinary after all-not if you consider the Parsis in this situation.
Points (3) and (4) You questioned on the historical accuracy of the New Testament. It seems you still view the NT as the source of information on the Apostles and Christianity , without considering (or want to consider) that the NT is derived from testimony and oral tradition similar to Judaism. You also think that there is break in transmission and that the NT do not record or rather fabricated events thereby making it the stuff of legends . The NT is written within the 1st century of Jesus’s death and resurrection -within the first century of the event thereby putting it more accurate historically as compared to other works of antiquity such as Alexander the Great . The Mishnah , a compendium of the Oral Law was only compiled in 200AD , around two millennia after the Mass revelation event. The Talmud was compiled from the 5th to 8th century AD .Which in your opinion is a reliably historic document?
You mentioned of the NT as “recording legends that developed over the century and turned into inaccurate history”. It seems that you are discounting the authenticity of the oral tradition within Christianity , that somehow there is some deception or break in transmission. That is not the view of scholars who have recognized “ that the NT contains many items that predate the book in which they appear.” according to Dr Gary Habermas. In addition , “the NT authors frequently made use of earlier sources–traditions, creeds, or confessions that they had gathered or received from others” . You may read of his views further at the following link https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/april/resurrection-of-jesus-as-historical-event-closer-look.html
The NT is written within the 1st century of the fact , there is consensus among scholars that it made use of earlier traditions (the oral transmission is sound) and that it contains incidents which meets the “criterion of embarrassment” . This shows that the NT is a faithful account of the testimony, character and teaching of the Apostles. How then can you regard the apostle’s integrity and credibility as circular reasoning?
Point no (5) – The apostles declared that Jesus has risen about 50 days after the crucifixion . The crucifixion of Jesus was a well-publicized event and it should still linger on peoples’ minds in that period of time. I don’t understand the rationale of the Romans throwing away or burning the body when they were made aware that Jesus had prophesized his resurrection during his lifetime .They were warned that the apostles may steal the body and tell the people that Jesus had been raised from the dead (Matthew 27:63). Why destroy evidence that can incriminate the apostles when they put forth the claim?
The only possible scenario is that the Apostles actually stole the body and but perpetuate a lie to the other believers and the overall population . If that is the case then is it possible for them to collude with 500 people to carry out this big lie? What about James , the brother of Jesus who was also a skeptic? Would he fall for the trick ? It is highly unlikely that they would perpetuate a big lie and to die for that lie.
The resurrection may not be a spectacular claim like the Mass revelation (if we choose to believe despite the lack of evidence out of Jewish tradition) and that it has extraordinary evidence like the survival of the Jewish nation (if we choose to believe in that despite the existence of the Parsi) . However I hope to have presented it as a credible claim with the conviction of the apostles and Christians down the ages as evidence to this claim.
Do correct me if I’m wrong . Thank you.
“Point no (5) – The apostles declared that Jesus has risen about 50 days after the crucifixion . ”
in jerusalem? mark says galilee and matthew says galilee.
how can we trust that “after 50 days they declared resurrection in jerusalem” ?what if the jerusalem appearances are apogetically driven and not historical? why 50 days, why not two or three years later or more?
“The crucifixion of Jesus was a well-publicized event and it should still linger on peoples’ ”
Is this not the same as jewish apologetics? “There were thousands of unidentified people who saw x”
how many people knew jesus’ face on day of crucifixion or where he was buried?
The verses from Mark(16:6-7) and Matthew (28:5) refers to the FIRST appearance of Jesus to his disciples after his resurrection. The Apostles proclaimed the resurrection 50 days after that.
The proclamation of the resurrection 50 days after the actual event is based on the NT-Acts 1-2.
He (Jesus) appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
The risen Jesus was with his disciples for 40 days . He promised that they will be baptised with the Holy Spirit “ in a few days”. Thereafter he taken up from them.The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1) which in Greek means 50. Hence the Holy Spirit comes 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus.
This event coincides with the Festival of Weeks , which is celebrated 7 weeks after Passover( Jesus died during the Passover ) Acts 2:5 mentions of “God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven” who were in Jerusalem at the time during the time of Peter’s proclamation .These Jews would have converged to Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Weeks in accordance with the command given in Deuteronomy 16:16 .
Since the crucifixion took place 2 months before , it should still linger in their minds at the time of Peter’s proclamation.
Please let me know if you have any other timeline in mind and support with facts why this is so . I will gladly consider . Thank you.
It doesn’t say why he was stoned to death (e.g. for claiming a resurrection),
If it wasn’t for claiming something heretical, (which was what stoning was the penalty for,) then James’ death makes no sense.
Since A Sadducean priest had him stoned to death according to Josephus, what can you assume this Sadducee thought his crime was?
Its not heresy to claim someone you know is the messiah, so why would a Sadducee priest have him stoned to death? Could it be for his belief in Jesus’ ressurection?
I think there were more than one thing that would cause his stoning. Is there if James stoning or stories?
Sorry, is there proof or just stories?
LarryB, the point is, the death of Jrsus’ brother was preserved and reported by Josephus independent of Christians, or their traditions.
“It doesn’t say why he was stoned to death (e.g. for claiming a resurrection),”
If it does not say then it’s anyones guess and is now the Christian narrative as the proof of the resurrection. Who’s to say the apostles would not die because they believed christ was the messiah? Christians would. Again, that’s their icing on the cake. To those back then who did not fall for this impostor and were not part of the crowd who believed Jesus was the messiah, Jesus was simply crucified, end of story.
Concerned Reader and Dovid The two of you are reasonable people – this subject (Josephus’ mention of the death of James) is not one that I studied deeply – can you please tell me if I am missing something? Here is the quote from Josephus – And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges , and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.
So what makes you think that James was killed because of his Christian beliefs? The text makes it clear that he was killed for trumped up charges (formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law) together with other Jews who are not identified as followers of Jesus. The instigator was an evil man who wanted power – it would follow that he would want to kill popular people. Why are you both so convinced that he was “martyred for his faith”? What did I miss in the text?
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
Good point, Rabbi Blumenthal!
“Since A Sadducean priest had him stoned to death according to Josephus, what can you assume this Sadducee thought his crime was?
Its not heresy to claim someone you know is the messiah, so why would a Sadducee priest have him stoned to death? Could it be for his belief in Jesus’ ressurection (sic)?”
I don’t know, could it? Was it heresy to proclaim someone as the actual son of God? Was it heresy to proclaim salvation by way of human sacrifice, which is the major theme and thrust of even the earliest Christian doctrine? Was it heresy to proclaim the Jewish sacrificial system was never really valid, but merely “pointed to” a human sacrifice?
1Cor 1:23- we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.
Galatians 6:14- But as for me, may I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
1Cor 2:2 – For I decided to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son.
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.
1 John 4:10
And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Wouldn’t preaching these heresies be FAR more likely to result in stoning than belief in a resurrection that was only attested to by a dozen or so people? Aren’t THESE the messages that were objected to and rejected, and got Paul and John thrown into prison?
You truly puzzle me, CR.
So, David, are you claiming that the earliest Jewish Christians believed Jesus was god in a body and a literal sacrifice? According to scholars, a lot of that Christian theology took more time to develop.
The death of James the brother of Jesus was in 62 CE, and I think Paul died in 68 CE. I dont believe Christology had become so concrete by then as yet.
If anything, the term son of God as its used in the Synoptic gospels and Paul takes that term as indicative of Jesus being a special agent of God, who had a special soul and purpose, (Adam is called Son of God in Mathew and Luke in Jesus’ geneologies for instance,)
Daniel’s use of the term Son of Man by contrast is a term that scholars believe ( in Christian usage) might be a more overtly supernatural appelation for Jesus than the term son of god, because of what “Son of Man” signified in the Enochic literature, ie a man (Enoch) transforms into an angel.
Even when Paul calls Jesus “image of God,” that could easily be seen as Paul’s allusion to Jesus as the “second Adam,” IE someone existing like Adam was before the fall.
All this is to say, the early Christians in the 60s were not (as yet) saying anything about their teacher that Jews would not have heard before, EXCEPT that they claimed he rose bodily from death.
Its only in John’s gospel (roughly the 90s CE) that Jesus is explicitly identified with the logos, and with God, IE 3 decades after Jesus’ brother is toast.
As for the atoning death of Jesus, it was evidently not yet viewed as vicarious atonment initially, (as per the texts) but was tied to Repentance, clothing yourself “in Christ” and being a doer of the work, not just a hearer. (Acts 2:36-40, James 1:22, Romans 2:13, Romans 13-14)
This is evident because even in the Christian texts, we are told that Jesus’ students continued to bring sacrifices in the temple.
That detail would not be in the Christian texts if the vicarious atonment belief had already been firmly crystalized in the comunity.
Vicarious atonment without works was far more of e a Protestant innovation than a 1st generation Christian notion.
I know this because early Christians wrote extensice manuals of discipline about how they expected folk to behave.
To me, it seems most probable that James was killed for believing in Jesus’ bodily ressurection, because that seems to be the core Christian belief that developed 1st, and differentiated the Jesus movement from other messianic groups.
Oh, Sorry, the post above is for Eliazer.
You still puzzle me.
Example: “Vicarious atonment (sic) without works was far more of e a Protestant innovation than a 1st generation Christian notion.”
Who said ANYTHING about the origin of the doctrine of vicarious atonement (human sacrifice) WITHOUT works as being part of this discussion?Why did you bring this into it when nobody is arguing that point? The Christian Bible is clear that human sacrifice (whether with or without works) was THE issue of the Church from its earliest days, and is the ONE constant of the book! “Atonement without works”, “atonement with works” and “atonement that results in works” is not what we’re discussing, since all three require the same human sacrifice. As I posted, Jesus, Paul and John made the sacrificial blood of Jesus the center of their teaching.
So what you did was introduce a “works vs no works” addition to the argument, using THAT argument to discredit the clear teaching of human sacrifice and Jesus’ sacrificial blood as the main doctrine of the early Christian faith that resulted in its rejection by the Jewish people and the subsequent execution of the apostles (if those even happened). That is not even a good faith argument.It is sophistry.
The other plain fallacy you used was reducing the apostle’s claim about Jesus to “believing he was the Messiah”,since such a claim did not generally get a Jew stoned during that era ( you couldn’t prove it by me one way or the other). Now, I know you are more educated than to believe that the apostle’s claims for Jesus were the same as other messianic candidates.You know better than that, yet you went there anyway.
What puzzles me is how someone as smart and educated as you are has reduced himself to novice- level apologetics and sophistry to try and support christian claims.
Eliezer what I’m pointing out is that Jesus’ death didnt have that dogmatized crystallized understanding behind it yet.
Atonement through the death of the righteous is not something that Jews have never heard before.
You are the one reading fully fledged dogmatized Christian beliefs back into historicitity as a possible reason for why Jesus’ followers were killed.
The emphasis Christians laid on Jesus’ death indeed was novel, but not the usage itself of the concept.
Case in point, Josephus telling us that Annanus killing James was not a popular decision, requiring trumped up charges.
If these early followers were indeed teaching a fully-fledged doctrine of the atonement in the sense that Jesus was believed to be a human sacrifice literally, it would not have been controversial with anyone to have them killed.
HOWEVER Josephus’ historical recounting is telling us that on the contrary it was controversial.
I e I am not trusting the gospels as a dogmatic historical source, I’m looking at Josephus, and what I know of primitive Christianity based on incongruities found in the gospel accounts.
See how I’m using the sources differently then you were accusing me of?
My use of Christian texts in arguing is to suss out what their primitive communities were actually doing.
If the Jewish Christians were teaching a fully developed Doctrine of Jesus as a human sacrifice in the sense you are saying, why would Josephus say that killing James was somehow unpopular and required Trumped up charges if thats what he was teaching? See what Im saying?
If anything, the Christian text itself tells us outright that the Pharisees took it easy on Jesus’s students and left them alone. The Christian text tells us they still went to the temple to give sacrifices, which means those Concepts about Jesus’ atonment being sacrifice hadn’t fully developed yet.
What Josephus says about the death of James seems to corroborate the notion that Jesus’ students were left alone, IE harming James was deemed unpopular.
It was a sadducee that had James killed via illegal means, not Pharisees.
Lest you think that I’m showing deference to Christian sources, think again.
Notice that I haven’t used the Christian historians to describe James’ death, that’s because those reek of polemic against “scribes and Pharisees.”
What the sources are telling me is that there was not yet a crystallized View of Jesus as a sacrifice in the conventional Christian sense, so no reason to kill them for that.
The sources are telling me that the Pharisees left Jesus’s students alone.
I brought up Works versus no works because it impacts how the atoning death of Jesus was initially understood to work by his early followers.
It changes whether the belief was a novel heretical concept, or an unconventional usage of an as yet already understood traditional allegorucal Jewish concept.
IE was it chiefly Jesus’ blood that atoned (because he had some kind of magic God blood, ie truly heretical )
or was it because when a person heard of the message of Jesus’ death it made you want to repent of your sins?
( We find the latter more conventional leds heretical view is the description of how his death atoned as recorded in Acts, and as the idea works in Judaism.)
The former would be a new teaching, the latter would be something Jews had heard before.
Based on what the gospels say, indirectly, the disciples were taking sacrifices at the temple.
That tells me they didn’t have a fully-fledged doctrine of his death as a sacrifice yet, but rather that his death had an atoning component.
Some Christian texts describe Jesus’ atoning death as working in a way that it would be well within the bounds of a Doctrine like the death of the righteous atones, and so not a fitting reason to punish them with stoning.
Additionally, the were many Jews as well as muslims who gave up their life for their belief.
If you are a cult leader who is competing with another cult leader on every level, would you be willing to give your theoligical opponent ammo that would reinforce their view?
Regarding your first point about why James was put to death: my point is that it wasn’t necessarily for the resurrection. What could it have been for? Eleazar pointed out some good examples. In addition, the very belief in jesus as a messiah, a man whose ideology clashed with Saducees, could be a reason for the Saducee to kill him. But if logical belief in Christianity really boils down to the thoughts of a Saducee, then it’s in not trouble.
Please clarify your second point about the cult leaders. I’m having difficulty understanding it and to which point to connect it to.
I feel like you are getting sidetracked by an irrelevant discussion. Even if Eleazar is wrong (for argument’s sake – although I happen to agree with him on most things he said), that wouldn’t imply that James’ death was for his belief in the Resurrection. Furthermore, even if James’ death was for his belief in the Resurrection, that wouldn’t say much about the truths of Christianity. If faith in Christianity boils down to the assumed motives of an individual, then Christianity is in for big trouble.
“even if James’ death was for his belief in the Resurrection, that wouldn’t say much about the truths of Christianity.”
Dovid, I agree completely, it doesn’t say that its true at all. All I’m really getting at is that the inference that their belief is what led them is not illogical.
However, the fact that people cant even allow for the inference that the resurrection BELIEF might be what led these peoples convictions, led them to die, or might be an aspect of what caused them trouble in others’ eyes, is very telling.
Its tantamount to a complete refusal to even entertain a discussion with Christians in terms of their own self identity, or in terms of how they have been known, or what their priorities are.
Basically, you have to reinvent their religion into something unrecognizable to anything they actually represent, then describe something that fits all the hypothetical alternative explanations, and by the end it bears no similarity to the movement in question.
Its kind of like what happens in hypothetical discussions about how Judaism “must” have originated in academic circles, ie Documentary Hypothesis or henotheism.
Take Hyam Maccoby’s Revolution in Judea, or Schmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus, where Jesus is described as an ordinary charismatic itinerant who had a following, wanted to stop the Romans, died as a martyr like so many before him etc. None of that however deals with the actual phenomenon of Christianity’s spread, or deals with the self expressed motives of the followers themselves.
When you describe the movement that way, it ceases to have any similarity to what we are actually dealing with.
Rabbi Blumenthal, yes, the point I’m making is that the historical sources suggest that Pharisees left Jesus’s students alone, maybe had them leave the synagogue, but that Sadducees had him killed.
Killing James was deemed unpopular with the populace, IE Pharisees, and Josephus says the charges of lawbreaking were trumped-up.
Incongruities in the Gospels show us that certain beliefs like the atoning death of Jesus, som of God, etc. may not have been developed to the point where it would be deemed heresy worthy of Stoning, but that the belief might have been similar to the concept that the death of the righteous atones, or other concepts.
Hence why the gospels tell us indirectly that’ Jesus’ students still brought sacrifices.
The fact that Josephus tells us that James’s death was unpopular, and that the gospels corroborate Josephus’ testimony unwittingly when describing pharisaic leniency to their movement, it shows that Sadducees had more of a problem with Jesus’ students and their message.
What would be A good focal point for the Sadducees to focus on to Trump up charges, if not for the belief in Resurrection of the Dead?
That could be trumped up law-breaking if you don’t believe that the law testifies to Resurrection, ie adding to the Torah.
If it were any of these other Christian beliefs that upset people, we wouldn’t have Josephus telling us that the people thought it was screwed up to have Jesus’s brother killed. In fact quite the contrary, if the argument was primarily theological, then there is no way you’d be able to depict the Pharisees, or the populace as finding James’ death unjust.
Concerned Reader James was put to death together with others who are not identified as Christians at all – the trumped up charges could have been anything – just as in 1Kings 21 where Naboth was killed on trumped up charges. What in the Josephus text tells you that it had to do with his beliefs? For all we know it could have been his popularity that got him into trouble.
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
What in the Josephus text tells you that it had to do with his beliefs?
I’m working on a response to this rabbi. Hopefully it will be done soon.
Please clarify your second point about the cult leaders. I’m having difficulty understanding it and to which point to connect it to.
I am working on it.
The flow of the conversation seems to have been slightly diverted. We were in a discussion of what the basis for belief in Christianity is and the motives of the apostles was brought up as evidence. That was refuted on a number of levels, including the lack of historical data for such an event of martyrdom for their belief in the Resurrection. Josephus was then brought up but, as the Rabbi pointed out, the wording of Josephus doesn’t mention the Resurrection, yet alone any Christian beliefs as the reason for his execution. I think now would be a good time to get back on track and return to the actual question at hand: Why believe in Christianity? (and bear in mind that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence). Is it Isaiah 53? Is it the Resurrection? Or is it a personal conviction?
Sorry for the delay, but for some reason I haven’t noticed your comment until now. I appreciate the consistency of logic you present in your writing. I will respond, like usual, quote by quote.
“I will address points (1) , (2) and (6) . You speak of the Jewish survival phenomena as an extraordinary claim . I have done some checks and found Zoroastrians have the “symptoms” of the same phenomena as the Jews. The Zoroastrian religion is the oldest monotheistic religion in the world predating Judasim .The Parsi community (followers of Zoroastrianism) number about 200,000 in the world today which is much smaller than the Jewish population . They do not assimilate like Jews .The Parsis were persecuted and scattered all over the world , yet they still exist and maintain their religious practice in the world today. Surely a divine hand might be at work here. So is the phenomena of Jewish survival truly an extraordinary claim?”
The Parsi survival has some fundamental differences than the Jewish one. For starters, they were not persecuted anywhere close to the range of antisemitism. In fact, I haven’t even heard of Parsi persecution (and had to look it up), but I do hear of antisemitism on the news on a daily basis. In fact, there’s an obvious reason why the hatred towards Jews was given its own name and clearly distinctive of other racism and persecutions.
Another difference is their dispersion. Up until recent times with the establishment of Israel, Jews were literally dispersed to the four corners of the earth, with no major population in any specific country. The Parsis, on the other hand, are predominantly living in their hometowns of India, Iraq, and Iran. The remainder are scattered throughout Western countries as recent immigrants who are protected under the law of religious freedom. The Jews, however, were dispersed in countries that historically did not grant religious freedom, resulting in a history of pogroms, libels, inquisitions, and holocausts against the Jewish minorities.
Another key difference, is the PROPHECY aspect of it. Much more astonishing than the physics of the Jewish survival, is the fact that it was predicted and fulfilled accordingly. The fulfillment of unlikely prophecy is the key argument that I regard as extraordinary evidence.
“Can we prove that the Mass Revelation event occurred outside Torah, Jewish tradition and the Jewish community ? It is a given that followers of Abrahamic faiths such as you and I would believe in it easily. How about those who are not adherents of these faiths , such as the Hindu and Buddhist? Would they have believe it as easily as you and I?…”
It is hard to imagine a scenario in which the “myth” of the Mass Revelation could have developed without its origins being recorded. I wish I could explain myself but that would take at least 25 pages of analysis. But as mentioned earlier, there is no need to dive into into the discussion of the Mass Revelation argument because it is either way not, in my opinion, extraordinary evidence.
“In light of the above, is it fair for you then to discount the resurrection as compared to Mass revelation?”
Precisely because they are slightly similar, I do not regard the Mass Revelation OR the Resurrection as extraordinary evidence.
“Points (3) and (4) You questioned on the historical accuracy of the New Testament. It seems you still view the NT as the source of information on the Apostles and Christianity , without considering (or want to consider) that the NT is derived from testimony and oral tradition similar to Judaism. You also think that there is break in transmission and that the NT do not record or rather fabricated events thereby making it the stuff of legends . The NT is written within the 1st century of Jesus’s death and resurrection -within the first century of the event thereby putting it more accurate historically as compared to other works of antiquity such as Alexander the Great . The Mishnah , a compendium of the Oral Law was only compiled in 200AD , around two millennia after the Mass revelation event. The Talmud was compiled from the 5th to 8th century AD .Which in your opinion is a reliably historic document?”
In fact, I do believe that there may be historical errors in the Mishna or Talmud while I still grant them complete religious authority – not because of their time of writing but because of the proofs in favor of Rabbinic authority (a discussion off topic). Your comparison of the NT to the Talmud is from a purely historical perspective, ignoring the philosophical arguments I see in favor of Rabbinic Judaism and the possible philosophical arguments for the NT that I’m still trying to find (if they at all exist). [Also note that the notion that the Talmud, or Oral Law, is entirely a tradition from Sinai, is a myth. Thus I am not necessarily trusting that they preserved the traditions from Sinai accurately throughout the generations… a discussion we can get into, if you desire so]
“You mentioned of the NT as “recording legends that developed over the century and turned into inaccurate history”. It seems that you are discounting the authenticity of the oral tradition within Christianity , that somehow there is some deception or break in transmission. That is not the view of scholars who have recognized “ that the NT contains many items that predate the book in which they appear.” according to Dr Gary Habermas. In addition , “the NT authors frequently made use of earlier sources–traditions, creeds, or confessions that they had gathered or received from others” . You may read of his views further at the following link https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/april/resurrection-of-jesus-as-historical-event-closer-look.html”
You quote (from a Christian scholar) that “that the NT contains many items that predate the book in which they appear.” That is exactly the argument I am arguing – that the Resurrection was a legend that PREDATED the NT and thus it was not contemporary recording. While some of the NT’s recording may be true, others are probably not. Included in the latter category is the extraordinary claim of the Resurrection.
The NT is written within the 1st century of the fact, there is consensus among scholars that it made use of earlier traditions (the oral transmission is sound) and that it contains incidents which meets the “criterion of embarrassment” . This shows that the NT is a faithful account of the testimony, character and teaching of the Apostles. How then can you regard the apostle’s integrity and credibility as circular reasoning?
The criterion of embarrassment only suggests that the writer is writing faithful TO WHAT HE’S RECORDING. In our case, that would be legends that innocently evolved over time. Moreover, imagine a friend of yours was to tell you an embarrassing account that included the fact that she saw an alien – would you believe her? Something tells me not. Why should the NT, with its crazy claim of the Resurrection, be any different?
“Point no (5) – The apostles declared that Jesus has risen about 50 days after the crucifixion . The crucifixion of Jesus was a well-publicized event and it should still linger on peoples’ minds in that period of time.”
This is all according to the account as provided by the NT – which we still have no reason to regard as anything more than an advocate of Christianity.
“I don’t understand the rationale of the Romans throwing away or burning the body when they were made aware that Jesus had prophesized his resurrection during his lifetime .They were warned that the apostles may steal the body and tell the people that Jesus had been raised from the dead (Matthew 27:63). Why destroy evidence that can incriminate the apostles when they put forth the claim?”
Again, this is all according to the NT account which is still under question of credibility.
“The only possible scenario is that the Apostles actually stole the body and but perpetuate a lie to the other believers and the overall population. If that is the case then is it possible for them to collude with 500 people to carry out this big lie? What about James, the brother of Jesus who was also a skeptic? Would he fall for the trick ? It is highly unlikely that they would perpetuate a big lie and to die for that lie.”
There is no historical evidence of 500 witnesses. In fact, there’s only one witness to the alleged 500 witnesses, i.e., the author of Matthew. You mention James, brother of Jesus, – who I don’t know anything about besides for that he was Jesus’ brother and that he was killed together with other “breakers of the law” as recounted in Josephus.
Sorry for being so persistent, but I honestly don’t see any credibility for Christianity other than circular reasoning.
I want you to notice that the prophecies and their fulfillment (discussed at length in the link i sent you a few days ago) authenticating the divine claim of the OT, present no problem for Christians. Christians believe in the divinity of the OT. So why did I bring the argument? In order to show that indeed my faith in Torah is based on extraordinary evidence. In return, Christianity must present its extraordinary evidence that made it divert from Torah-Law (which is essentially eternal, unless extraordinary evidence suggests G-d changed His mind or had a time-limit on the Law in the first place).
Looking forward to hear from you,
Thank you for your response. Your response do made me think deeply of the matter being discussed and I am grateful for that. Truly one’s mind can be further sharpened by these discussions.
You see the prophecies on the survival of the Jewish nation as authenticating the divine claim of the OT (Tanakh). However these prophecies come from the OT . The OT contain narratives on the Mass revelation and the prophecies that accompany it. I have questioned on the historicity of the Mass revelation narratives outside of the Jewish Scriptures , traditions and the Jewish community. If the Mass revelation event is not attested , should I then take whole OT including its prophecies seriously?
In addition, the author of the document that you attached (in your previous comment) only highlighted (bold) certain portions of Deuteronomy 28 , obviously to focus on the portion in which the prophecy is obviously fulfilled. What about the other prophecies such as being “ a terrifying (example) to all the kingdoms on earth ”or ”serve other deities made of wood and stone” or that the nation of Israel will be cannibals out of desperation? There is a litany of prophecies not addressed by the author –prophecies on the internal suffering endured by the Jewish people because of disobedience to the Covenant. Have these prophecies not highlighted by the author happened? You cannot be cherry picking on certain prophecies and ignore the others.
Or could it be that some of the description in Deuteronomy 28 an exaggeration? If the Torah is of the Divine and every word is there for a purpose then shouldn’t one take every prophecy seriously and study if it has truly happened or waiting to happen? If there are elements of exaggeration then how will I know which is important and which is not?
Is dispersion , persecution , lack of assimilation , being low in numbers and return to the land a phenomenon unique to the Jewish nation alone ? Yes , the Jewish nation has been dispersed and suffered sustained persecution for a long period of time. However these characteristics are also to a certain extent shared by other peoples and religious groups . So can you really hold on to these elements as proof of that the OT claim is divine?
Which is more important and the deal breaker/game changer that advocate belief in a religion? The extraordinary claim (Mass revelation/Resurrection) or extraordinary evidences (fulfilment of prophecies?) .You see the Mass Revelation and the resurrection as petty arguments and do not regard these events as extraordinary evidence (or is it extraordinary claim?) . I see these events as important for it defined who we are to worship .In Deuteronomy 13 the Jewish people were warned against following a prophet who announces a sign or wonder even when it comes to pass and if that prophets call them to worship gods they have not known . The Jews are called to hold fast to G-d , to worship and revere Him alone. How do they know whom to worship if there is no Mass revelation in the first place?
Similarly , how can Christianity exist and able to sustain itself for the past 2,000 years if not for the conviction that Jesus died and rose again on the third day? Is the signs and wonders performed by the Apostles in Jesus’ name or the sustaining power of Christianity over other messianic claimants alone sufficient for Christians to maintain this belief ? Like the Apostles , many people , then and now have come to believe in Jesus as Lord and Messiah precisely because of his death and resurrection . Christianity involves a relationship with the living and risen Jesus , not a propagation on the teachings of a dead Rabbi.
I have argued that the resurrection is a credible claim based on the integrity of the apostles , the circumstances that made the resurrection a possibility and the faithful account of the NT. You responded by stating that Resurrection was a legend that PREDATED the NT and thus it was not contemporary recording . You switched from questioning the NT to responding (on the criterion of embarrassment) that the writer of the NT was faithful to what he’s recording . So this means you do acknowledge the sound oral tradition in Christianity but you do not believe that the oral transmission is sound in Judaism? Your respond to my counter-arguments to your possible scenarios by questioning the credibility of the NT (again ) and that it advocated Christianity . I have responded on these points in my previous comment .You did not question the credibility of my counterarguments on its own merit but just took the easy way out by blaming the NT. Is that a fair ?
The belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus is the extraordinary claim and evidence that enabled his followers to divert from the Torah law. It may not be reasonable to you but that is a fact. As I have mentioned , the apostles experienced the risen Jesus to the extent that the warning of Deuteronomy 13 fled from their consciousness. They came to a wrong set of conclusions and proclaimed this as truths. As a result they made a 180 degree turn from the faith of their fathers .
To recap , you said your “my faith in Torah is based on extraordinary evidence” . My question would be if this extraordinary evidence is for ALL prophecies in Deuteronomy 28 and are the fulfilled prophecies highlighted a phenomenon unique to the Jewish nation? If the Mass revelation is not attested and that is a petty argument to you then is it right to assume that these prophecies come from G-d ?
You also stated “In return, Christianity must present its extraordinary evidence that made it divert from Torah-Law”. I have shown that there is no other extraordinary claim or evidence other than the death and resurrection of Jesus –this is enough to divert focus from the Torah Law. I have also argued that the resurrection is credible from the counter arguments of your probable scenarios -which you have failed to refute.
Do correct me if I missed any crucial points or have misunderstood you entirely . Thank you.
Dovid, when you claim prophecies in Torah of Jewish dispersion recorded in the Torah, and that happening in history as proof of the reliability of Torah, that is also a form of circular reasoning, because you are relying on Torah to prove Torah.
A dispersion (which can be caused from wars, famine, civil wars, sickness etc. ) are very common occurances throughout history.
Just as you said that “the new testament records a kind of biased Christian legend that developed over time,”
(specifically those legends developed within about 100 years or less after the alleged events,) the same possibility is true for the Torah.
How so? The pre Sinai community already believed in the one God, had language, and monitheistic culture.
Just as Christianity began with one man and a few students who had preexisting beliefs and assumptions, so to Judaism began with Abraham, his children, and some converts, who all had beliefs about hashem.
So, when this family encountered struggles, persecutions, pestilence, dispersions, etc. (As every culture has to some degree,) they interpreted these events through their belief in God.
The Sinai claim rests on a claim of uniqueness, (which is debatable,) and on large numbers. It cant prove whether anything did or did not happen any better than the Christian scripture can.
Hi Concerned Reader,
Thank you for your input. I will address your points, quote by quote.
“Dovid, when you claim prophecies in Torah of Jewish dispersion recorded in the Torah, and that happening in history as proof of the reliability of Torah, that is also a form of circular reasoning, because you are relying on Torah to prove Torah.”
It has absolutely nothing to do with circular reasoning. The idea of prophecy is like this: a prophet predicts UNLIKELY events that will unfold EXACTLY as foretold. It’s not circular reasoning because we are not relying on any historical data that is being provided by the book we want to prove, rather we are saying – look, the author of this book wrote these predictions (that’s clear, right?). Now HISTORY BOOKS, independently, confirm what was predicted (e.g. the exile, dispersion, persecution etc.). Concerned Reader, please take the time to think about your argument here, or read the link i sent (if you haven’t yet).
“A dispersion (which can be caused from wars, famine, civil wars, sickness etc. ) are very common occurrences throughout history.”
There are very few cases of an entire nation being exiled and thereafter dispersing (as opposed to assimilating), as discussed at length in the document link I previously posted.
“Just as you said that “the new testament records a kind of biased Christian legend that developed over time,” (specifically those legends developed within about 100 years or less after the alleged events,) the same possibility is true for the Torah…”
I agree 100% that from a historical perspective that is entirely possible – and i would even say likely – if not for the philosophical arguments that favor Torah (most notably the fulfillment of prophecy). The problem, however, is that in the case of the NT, the Resurrection account is being used as a tool to prove the actual authenticity of the actual NT – as discussed previously at length.
“So, when this family encountered struggles, persecutions, pestilence, dispersions, etc. (As every culture has to some degree,) they interpreted these events through their belief in God.”
As discussed at length in the document I sent, the predictions were HIGHLY UNLIKELY and they were written ABOUT THE FUTURE.
“The Sinai claim rests on a claim of uniqueness, (which is debatable,) and on large numbers. It cant prove whether anything did or did not happen any better than the Christian scripture can.”
That is correct, as discussed all along in this conversation.
Concerned Reader, it seems that you’re skimming through the conversation and then giving your thoughts, without going through (or perhaps thinking through) what was being discussed. I don’t like judging, but that is just what it seems. But in doing so you are missing many crucial points that were already addressed.
I appreciate your thoughts,
You are missing my point. The prophetic oracles are a part of the Torah. You do not have independent witness of the circumstances under which these “prophecies” were delivered or when. All you have as a source is the book you already believe is true, which includes these prophecies as part of itself.
You do not know whether Jeremiah actually said, or Amos actually said, or when they said what is purported etc. Independently of the biblical books in
IE people put together and codified these books of prophecy well AFTER the prophets lived, or after they made these predictions for all we know.
See the issue?
Prophetic Revelation is of necessity a 1st person, 1st generation, experience. When it gets transmitted, its beyond verification.
(If you or I had met Isaiah in his lifetime, and heard his predictions, and seen them fulfilled while in his day, as his contemporaries, that would be one thing.)
That is infinitely different than getting his alleged words as written in a text YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS after his death, that has been copied, compiled, and then transmitted on down, subject to years of interpretation.
Im not trying to be unkind. If you believe it, that is golden, but Prophecy means nothing, when the only source conveying the info comes from the believing community.
IE Jesus’ alleged miracles are the same way. Do you believe he fed 5,000 because the gospel and community says? Off course not.
“You are missing my point.”
I’m afraid I really am.
“The prophetic oracles are a part of the Torah. You do not have independent witness of the circumstances under which these “prophecies” were delivered or when. All you have as a source is the book you already believe is true, which includes these prophecies as part of itself.”
It doesn’t make a difference what the circumstances were when these prophetic statements were given – because they are statements about the FUTURE. What we do know is that these prophecies were written AT LEAST 2,200 years ago – which is before the fulfillment of the prophecies even began. I’m really starting to believe that you haven’t even glanced at the document. Here’s the document, if you get inspired to open the link https://drive.google.com/open?id=1317Gy38S90zp2I9QtjIW8Tf5xTsScY0G
“You do not know whether Jeremiah actually said, or Amos actually said, or when they said what is purported etc. Independently of the biblical books in question.”
We were never speaking about those books; the discussion is about the Pentateuch, or the Five Books of Moses.
“IE people put together and codified these books of prophecy well AFTER the prophets lived, or after they made these predictions for all we know.”
We are not speaking of those prophecies, we are speaking of prophecies that happened in the past 2,000 years. I don’t even know why I’m responding to you when you don’t even take the time to review the document I have sent.
“See the issue?”
Very much so. The issue is that you think that there’s a commandment in the NT to cancel out all logic and reasoning and just respond to the antichrist without even hearing what they have to say.
“Prophetic Revelation is of necessity a 1st person, 1st generation, experience. When it gets transmitted, its beyond verification.”
That’s exactly why I don’t use the Mass Revelation – as discussed all throughout this interesting conversation you’re missing out on.
“IE Jesus’ alleged miracles are the same way. Do you believe he fed 5,000 because the gospel and community says? Off course not.”
Then why do you?
Concerned Reader, I really enjoy having these intellectual conversations and much time and effort is put into it. But some basic decency is to at least read what is being argued.
Looking forward to hear from you,
Thank you for taking the time to consider and digest my thoughts. I did the same with yours and here are my takes – quote by quote. [Sorry in advance for the long post.]
“You see the prophecies on the survival of the Jewish nation as authenticating the divine claim of the OT (Tanakh). However these prophecies come from the OT. The OT contain narratives on the Mass revelation and the prophecies that accompany it. I have questioned on the historicity of the Mass revelation narratives outside of the Jewish Scriptures , traditions and the Jewish community. If the Mass revelation event is not attested , should I then take whole OT including its prophecies seriously?”
3,300 years ago there were very few writers in general. Of those writers, none of them are expected to have written about the experience of the Jewish people. The writers (at least the ones that survived till this day) were mostly kings’ chronicles and the like. They would write about their personal triumphs and victories. It is very, very rare to find something about other nations in their documents.
Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. This rule was proven over and over again. Just to give a few examples (not that we should get side-tracked with them): Bible Critics used to believe that the Hittites of the Bible were a myth until their large capital was found in Turkey some 150 years ago. Similarly, Bible Critics used to believe that Jerusalem was unoccupied in the days of King Solomon until structures predating King Solomon were found in the city. Bible Critics used to believe that the cities mentioned in the sojourn of the Israelites in the Wilderness didn’t ever exist due to lack of evidence. More recently, however, Egyptian military and trading documents were found that listed those specific cities as the travel route through the Sinai dessert.
“In addition, the author of the document that you attached (in your previous comment) only highlighted (bold) certain portions of Deuteronomy 28 , obviously to focus on the portion in which the prophecy is obviously fulfilled. What about the other prophecies such as being “ a terrifying (example) to all the kingdoms on earth”
It actually seems like a little mistranslation (yes, I do know Hebrew). I don’t know why they added the word example in brackets. A more fair translation (and I also found it in the Sefaria translation) is “and you will be a horror unto the nations”. That was clearly fulfilled over and over again. In Europe, the Jews were regarded as the cursed antichrist. If someone wanted to bully a child in school, he would call him a Jew. This was still the case when my grandparents were in Russia, just some decades ago. The Germans, among others, printed out cartoon-style mockeries of the Jews, portraying them as a horror with long curvy noses, scrawny, and a long ugly beard.
”or ”serve other deities made of wood and stone”
Millions of Jews were forcefully converted to Christianity and Islam. The term can be explained to describe other religions or to describe the wooden crosses and the stones at Mecca and Medina.
“or that the nation of Israel will be cannibals out of desperation?”
This is described in the section of prophecies that deal with the Roman invasion of Judea and Jerusalem. During that time, Josephus records acts of cannibalism inside the besieged city of Jerusalem.
“There is a litany of prophecies not addressed by the author –prophecies on the internal suffering endured by the Jewish people because of disobedience to the Covenant. Have these prophecies not highlighted by the author happened?”
Yes every single one of them happened, without exception. They weren’t highlighted because they are less obvious of a fulfilled prophecy and aren’t as shocking as the eight wonders that were highlighted.
“Or could it be that some of the description in Deuteronomy 28 an exaggeration?”
That would certainly be possible if we haven’t seen the wild unpredictable history of the Jewish people unfold. If the prophecies were intended to be exaggerations, wouldn’t it seem strange that it just so “happened to be” that the prophecies were fulfilled? It may be that the TERMS used to describe the situation are exaggerations, but the actual idea, i.e., destruction of the land, exile, dispersion, persecution, etc. etc. were obviously actually intended and did indeed happen.
“If the Torah is of the Divine and every word is there for a purpose then shouldn’t one take every prophecy seriously and study if it has truly happened or waiting to happen?”
Indeed every one should be taken factually and indeed they did happen. The vast majority of the chapter is describing the horrors, droughts, and plagues that griped the Jews during the Roman invasion and subsequent occupation.
“Is dispersion , persecution , lack of assimilation , being low in numbers and return to the land a phenomenon unique to the Jewish nation alone ? Yes , the Jewish nation has been dispersed and suffered sustained persecution for a long period of time. However these characteristics are also to a certain extent shared by other peoples and religious groups . So can you really hold on to these elements as proof of that the OT claim is divine?”
Is there any other nation which has ANYTHING CLOSE to the phenomena predicted in the prophecies? Tell me, if you were to be creating a religion, would you predict something that has never happened before and is extremely unlikely to happen?
“Which is more important and the deal breaker/game changer that advocate belief in a religion? The extraordinary claim (Mass revelation/Resurrection) or extraordinary evidences (fulfilment of prophecies?) .You see the Mass Revelation and the resurrection as petty arguments and do not regard these events as extraordinary evidence (or is it extraordinary claim?) . I see these events as important for it defined who we are to worship .In Deuteronomy 13 the Jewish people were warned against following a prophet who announces a sign or wonder even when it comes to pass and if that prophets call them to worship gods they have not known . The Jews are called to hold fast to G-d , to worship and revere Him alone. How do they know whom to worship if there is no Mass revelation in the first place?”
Sounds like I agree with you, although I am having a hard time understanding what you’re saying here. It could be that you’re misunderstanding what “extraordinary claims” means. It doesn’t mean that it is extraordinary as in IMPORTANT to the faith; it means that the claim itself is SUPERNATURAL and thus unlikely given the nature of this world and how it runs.
“Similarly, how can Christianity exist and able to sustain itself for the past 2,000 years if not for the conviction that Jesus died and rose again on the third day? Is the signs and wonders performed by the Apostles in Jesus’ name or the sustaining power of Christianity over other messianic claimants alone sufficient for Christians to maintain this belief ? Like the Apostles , many people , then and now have come to believe in Jesus as Lord and Messiah precisely because of his death and resurrection . Christianity involves a relationship with the living and risen Jesus , not a propagation on the teachings of a dead Rabbi.”
I agree with the importance of these key tenants in Christianity. But the question is whether it actually happened.
“I have argued that the resurrection is a credible claim based on the integrity of the apostles,”
Which apostles? I don’t know of any historical apostles?
“the circumstances that made the resurrection a possibility”
Which circumstances? the ones written in the unreliable bias NT?
“You responded by stating that Resurrection was a legend that PREDATED the NT and thus it was not contemporary recording. You switched from questioning the NT to responding (on the criterion of embarrassment) that the writer of the NT was faithful to what he’s recording.”
It was more like an alternative – both being possible. The criterion of embarrassment is a very weak one for several reasons, as I mentioned briefly earlier (I can expound on that, if you’d like).
“So this means you do acknowledge the sound oral tradition in Christianity but you do not believe that the oral transmission is sound in Judaism?”
As mentioned earlier, I would not base my belief in Judaism solely based on the Oral Law (in contrast to believing in Christianity solely because of the tradition about the Resurrection). I believe in the Oral Law only AFTER i have a reason to believe in Judaism as a whole. Moreover, the Oral Law’s history is something that I don’t necessarily accept as factual history. it is LAWS that it embodies that are binding and authoritative (for reasons beyond the scope of this discussion).
“Your respond to my counter-arguments to your possible scenarios by questioning the credibility of the NT (again ) and that it advocated Christianity . I have responded on these points in my previous comment .You did not question the credibility of my counterarguments on its own merit but just took the easy way out by blaming the NT. Is that a fair ?”
Because your arguments are baseless without the NT. But what if the NT isn’t reliable history and they had an obvious agenda in mind? It is called circular reasoning to base the evidence of the NT on the history claimed by the NT.
I just want to remind you, that I am not Judaism’s defendant and you are not Christianity’s defendant. We are both here for an open-minded discussion that if logic proves one way, we should both turn to that truth – no matter how hard it may be to accept that truth.
I hope I was enlightening. Looking forward t hear from you,
This conversation started with you asking me to clarify my current beliefs and the main arguments that brought me to this conclusion. I have clarified that I believe in the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who revealed His Will to Israel at a particular time in history. However what I have learnt (or rediscovered) in the Catholic faith I was born into give me sufficient reason to believe in Jesus and the Church . You then asked what the logical basis that draws me to Christianity is and I replied that the answer is the resurrection. You then go on to question the resurrection event and naturally, I have to defend my position.
I do agree with you that we should not be acting in a defensive mode .Rather we should engage in an open discussion with logic guiding the way towards the truth. However, please bear in mind that my defense for the most part is based on logic. I believe that you too appreciated the consistency of my logic even though I am defending the resurrection, which you see as a legend.
You stated extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You explained that your faith in the Torah is due to extraordinary evidence. You attached a document explaining the fulfillment of prophecies of Deuteronomy 28 . There were 9 prophecies in which their fulfillment is explained in detail, which I take it as the extraordinary evidence that you speak of.
I questioned this approach. Which is more important in advocating belief in a religion ? Extraordinary claim or extraordinary evidence? You then backtrack a little by saying that “extraordinary” doesn’t mean that it has to be important to the faith , only that is supernatural and unlikely given the world and how it runs.
That is what I am trying to get at. Yes , I do acknowledge that the fulfillment of prophecies in Deuteronomy 28 is unique and there is a very low probability of another nation having similar circumstances (you need to consider the Parsis –they come quite close) . However to base your belief on this alone is not very wise. It is like saying that I should believe that the Quran is a revelation from G-d because it contains claims that is scientifically proven to be accurate (embryology, mountains, origin of the universe among others) , even more so as compared to the Bible . How can an illiterate Arab man living in 6th century Arabia arrive at these facts if not for Divine Guidance?
If you agree with this , then I would further state that there should be other criterion to advocate belief in a religion . In my opinion the document that you attached is not very sufficient as it is only on fulfillment of prophecies. Dina has provided a link (in a previous conversation ) which I think is a more comprehensive here
According to Rabbi Dr. David Gottlieb, the author of this document , only one piece of evidence is not enough to point out that the Torah is true . He explained in depth on a few evidences such as fulfillment of predictions in Deuteronomy 28 to 30,archeology, revelation and miracles (on the Mass revelation and manna which he explained the Kuzari principle at length-page 32 to 40) and Jewish survival.
Hence from this document I find that the Mass revelation is indeed an important criterion to assess if the Torah is true . According the the author, the Kuzari principle establish that the revelation had taken place. The evidence for the public miracle (Mass revelation) is the social memory of the Jewish people (page 33) . He arrives at this by putting in examples such as a “volcanic eruption in the middle of Manhattan” or “gold growing on trees in Romania “ ,which are public events .There would be newspapers, books etc that provide evidence that it had taken place . However I find that there is no mention of external corroboration. It is true that the exodus events had caused a great fear in the surrounding nations (Joshua 2:10) , however the dust would definitely settled at this time with no substantial evidence from archeology as proof. So the only proof of mass revelation here is the social memory which is confined within the Jewish community.
Likewise , the resurrection is an event in which the social memory is confined within the early believers of the Jerusalem church with no external corroboration . In light of this is it fair for you then to discount the resurrection as compared to Mass revelation?
In addition , if I were to put these two events side by side without any bias , the resurrection would be a more credible claim . There are a few examples of the dead who were brought back to life in the Jewish Scriptures. There are also many modern day stories of people who were pronounced clinically dead but came back to life. However the Mass revelation is totally unique . There is no supernatural event that can come close to it , thereby making it a totally spectacular , unbelievable and very hard to prove.
You stated that my counter arguments are baseless without the NT . What is your reaction to the following scenario- A group of people are claiming that their beloved spiritual guru who died 2 months ago (due to a government crackdown) was raised from the dead and taken up to heaven. They are winning many followers . The authorities are investigating on their activities and have arrested them in a few occasions .There was no body produced as of this time . Do you think these followers are lying or that they stole the body? Are they motivated by self-interest? These followers doesn’t seem to backtrack from their convictions despite pressure from the authorities. There seems to be a unified front with no one telling on their “lies”. These people seem to be of sound mind-one of them is a highly regarded member in society. They are organized and they go around doing good, helping the poor and healing the sick. The authorities could have just produced a body and it will destroy their claims completely, however that did not happen .My counter arguments are along these lines. The resurrection narratives in the NT is congruent with what I have just described. You still see them as baseless?
Let me leave with a quote from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus :
“3. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (Antiquities of the Jews – Book XVIII” 3.3 (written AD 93 to 94))
Again , I do agree with you that we should not be acting in a defensive mode. I believe the points above are derived logically and without bias . Also I would advise you to consider your approach , documentation , bias (if any) and response to my points in your argument.
Do correct me if I’m wrong.
I would like to retract the quote by Flavius Josephus that I have put in my earlier comment. I was curious as to why Flavius , a Jew state would state that Jesus is the “Christ” . I later learnt that this quote was heavily interpolated by medieval Christian copyists . Please refer link for further details here https://jamestabor.com/the-ancient-jewish-historian-josephus-on-john-the-baptizer-jesus-and-james/
The points I raised still stand and is not dependent on the quote.
Apologies for the error.
Millions of Jews were forcefully converted to Christianity and Islam. The term can be explained to describe other religions or to describe the wooden crosses and the stones at Mecca and Medina.
That reading seems incredibly forced Dovid, and as you say it “could” mean this, but it not necessarily does.
I understand what you are saying, and how these parallels are interesting, but it doesn’t prove anything. You have faith that it does.
Aside from the obvious fact that the majority of rabbis themselves state that Muslims are not halachically idol worshipers, and Christians do not worship crosses, not to mention that you are boiling down the complexity of these faith systems to an absurd degree, this reading is a stretch.
“I agree with the importance of these key tenants in Christianity. But the question is whether it actually happened.”
That is also the question for the central claims of the Torah, for which we only have the Torah making claims that any of it happened, and you are using alleged prophecy from within the Torah (that you “believe” is externally validated,) to validate Torah. just as a Christian does with his NT.
Because your arguments are baseless without the NT.
Anthropologically speaking, Christians do not have to exist for a Christian like theology to exist within your own faith tradition.
You have mentioned the bias of the New Testament, but I can tell you personally, that for 3/4 of the beliefs of what is written in those books, we do not even need those books, Yeshu, or Christianity itself to exist.
There was no such thing as “Christianity” stereo typically speaking for the first 100 years of the Church! There was not yet a codified set of books called a New Testament until Marcion, even though writings and oral traditions did exist before then.
There are parallels within Midrash, later Jewish messianism, mysticism, and Jewish philosophy that roughly approximate many of the beliefs that Christians hold about their would be dead Moshiach, they are just ideas not often (thank god) put within a messianic configuration.
Case in point, Jesus isn’t even the only Jew that has had his movement go down this route of a dead man being claimed as a moshiach, who has godliness as an essential part of his being.
Here is a link to a relevant article describing these points.
Just to be clear, I am no longer a Christian (read the articles under “concerned reader” on this blog.)
My point has been, when I hear rabbis and Laymen state “It didn’t happen,” “he didn’t exist” “he never died” “they didn’t die for their belief that he rose,”
You have an extremely hard uphill battle against you, because they can indeed bring evidence, inference, and ammo that has absolutely nothing to do with believing in their books.
Take the NT claims out where you know you can in good faith, IE halacha! The minute that you say to them “it didn’t happen, its not possible, etc.” they can hurl this right back at you, and dismiss you as easily as you dismiss them.
Hi Concerned Reader,
Thank you for the challenges. I will respond quote by quote.
“That reading seems incredibly forced Dovid, and as you say it “could” mean this, but it not necessarily does.”
That is correct. indeed it isn’t the first and most preferred interpretation. As a matter of fact, I will agree with you that it is a little bit of a forced interpretation. So why do i insist on interpreting it in that manner? Because it fits with the overall narrative. This is something that you should agree with as well. Either we can say that humans wrote the chapter and gave wild guesses that happened to play out accurately against all odds. Or we can say that the Torah is divinely inspired which is how the future was known. Which one, in your opinion, honestly makes more sense? If you are gonna pick the option that it was man-made, please explain why you do so. Is it the Jewish history that we argue about? Is it the Hebrew or interpretation that we argue about? it is not fair for you to just tell me that “I’m using faith” when all I did until now was use logic. If we can agree on the general narrative of Deut. 28, then the interpretation of “gods of wood and stone” becomes a petty issue to the greater picture at hand.
“I understand what you are saying, and how these parallels are interesting, but it doesn’t prove anything. You have faith that it does.”
I’m just curious: did you thoroughly read the document or are you guessing what I’m saying?
“Anthropologically speaking, Christians do not have to exist for a Christian like theology to exist within your own faith tradition.”
Please clarify what you mean.
“You have mentioned the bias of the New Testament, but I can tell you personally, that for 3/4 of the beliefs of what is written in those books, we do not even need those books, Yeshu, or Christianity itself to exist. There was no such thing as “Christianity” stereo typically speaking for the first 100 years of the Church! There was not yet a codified set of books called a New Testament until Marcion, even though writings and oral traditions did exist before then.”
That has nothing to do with the conversation at hand. We are discussing the accuracy of the Resurrection claim, whether it be in oral tradition or in writing – it makes no difference.
There are parallels within Midrash, later Jewish messianism, mysticism, and Jewish philosophy that roughly approximate many of the beliefs that Christians hold about their would be dead Moshiach, they are just ideas not often (thank god) put within a messianic configuration.
So what? We are not arguing those ideas. In fact, we haven’t even brought up Jesus as a messiah in this conversation.
“Case in point, Jesus isn’t even the only Jew that has had his movement go down this route of a dead man being claimed as a moshiach, who has godliness as an essential part of his being.”
Cool thing, pal… But nothing to do with our conversation.
“My point has been, when I hear rabbis and Laymen state “It didn’t happen,” “he didn’t exist” “he never died” “they didn’t die for their belief that he rose,””
I never said he didn’t exist. And if he existed chances are he probably died. You are creating a strawman argument. Our discussion here is about the Resurrection, which is certainly not an uphill battle given that no other book records it other than the NT.
“You have an extremely hard uphill battle against you, because they can indeed bring evidence, inference, and ammo that has absolutely nothing to do with believing in their books.”
Do I have to wait so long to get this treasure trove?
“Take the NT claims out where you know you can in good faith, IE halacha! The minute that you say to them “it didn’t happen, its not possible, etc.” they can hurl this right back at you, and dismiss you as easily as you dismiss them.”
Except that there’s a key difference, that was discussed earlier (you must have missed it). I am not basing my belief in Judaism based on a historical fact said in the Talmud, for example. First I have my belief in Torah set strong based on various arguments outside of the Torah or Oral Law, and from there I work my way up to the belief in the Oral Law.
My rationale for the death of James, and what I meant about cult leaders…
“And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges , and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.”
This passage tells me that James was at least tolerated by the people, maybe even popular to the point of most people not wanting him killed.
It tells me by extension that any messianic beliefs James espouses have not yet sufficiently aroused the anger of the common people (at least the majority of whom were Pharisees.)
The passage is telling me that a Sadducean priest waited for a Roman procurator to die so he could illegally convene a Sanhedrin in order to enact the death penalty,for a specific crime, because the penalty was stoning.
(very interesting as Jews were forbidden from enacting the death penalty like this on their own)
Ananus flouted norms so badly in doing this that the people entreated the Romans/Agrippa.
James being stoned to death tells me that the trumped up charges against him had to be a specific set of alleged crimes, IE blasphemy.
At this point, both James and Paul are still alive. We know from reading between the lines of Paul’s epistles that Paul’s and James’ schools of thought do not get along at all, and that later editors of what became New Testament texts tried to smooth over their theological differences.
James emphasizes the ethics and Torah observance of his brother Jesus and teaching that to everyone, Jew and Gentile, and he does not emphasize the supernatural generally.
His understanding of Jesus’ movement focussed on keeping Jews Jewish, and giving the gentiles the opportunity to learn basics by coming to the Synagogue. In other words, James was a moderate in almost every way.
Paul by contrast emphasizes grace over works, the beginings of a doctrine of the vicarious atoning death of Jesus, Jesus as the Second Adam, Paul seeks confirmation of himself as an authentic apostle of Jesus whether or not people oppose him, and emphasizes making gentiles equal participants in the covenant with Israel by abolishing some important covenant distinctions like circumcision and Jewish conversion. He also arouses the ire of Rome with reckless abandon, to the point that they put Paul in prison.
As we can see above, if anyone represents more of the status quo and a relative state of normalcy vis Jewish values, the proper Torah defined role of gentiles, less radical messianism, etc. it is James the brother of Jesus, and not Paul of Tarsus who according to Christian scripture was imprisoned, and released the year of James’ death.
IE it was politically expedient to keep James alive, the exact opposite of what this Sadducee did. If he killed him for the usual litany of reasons, the Romans could have done it.
Keeping James alive would have kept Paul in check.
We know that James is killed in 62 CE by Ananus before Paul of Tarsus was killed by the Romans. The question is why on earth would a person actively seek to frame and kill James (the moderate voice in the embryonic Jesus movement who could keep it contained and more moderate) rather than kill Paul (the existential threat?)
How is this move politically expedient for this Sadducean priest? Its not, as Josephus plainly shows.
If we say that Ananus killed James due to his popularity, or due to his belief that Jesus was a messiah, or merely because he allegedly violated some aspect of the law, (even trumped up charges) then Ananus could have had the Romans or Agrippa execute James and these others via crucifixion, or in another manner, and that would have been more expedient, and would not have required breaking Roman law.
Its at least logical to deduce then that James’ death was purely ideologically motivated by this Sadducean priest, especially given the punishment of stoning, (a punishment for blasphemy) and that Ananus risked the ire of Rome, and of the people in killing these men without their consent.
I believe it is probable that the only motivation that makes any sense is that James believed in the core early Christian belief, IE that Jesus rose from death, and that this priest wanted to hit the Jesus movement where its most credible voice was, his brother.
It seems he felt killing James would be the death of Christianity.
Concerned Reader You are reading so much into the text that I can’t even call your theory a “theory” – Josephus tells us nothing about the motivation of the wicked High-Priest. Furthermore, Josephus does not tell us the identity of the others who were killed with James, if the killing was because they were followers of Jesus, it would be strange to leave this part of the story out. Furthermore, belief in the resurrection is not a crime that is subject to stoning (or any death penalty for that matter). The form of blasphemy that is subject to stoning is cursing God. Your argument that had it been for any other reason aside from ideological, then Ananus could have had him executed through the normal channels is refuted by this Josephus text itself. Since the populace recognized that the execution was unjust, the normal channels wouldn’t have killed him.
BTW – Since you brought up this text I have read what people have written about it. I have seen the following argument – Many people believe that the words “who was called the Christ” are an interpolation. If that is so, then this James may not have been the brother of the NT Jesus, but rather the brother of the Jesus who is mentioned later in the text, i.e. the next High Priest.
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
Reading this text, it seems to me that Ananus was a power-hungry, murderous psychopath, not a religious zealot.
Do you think that could be a motivating factor in his behavior?
Con, I don’t think the discussion about why Ananus had James killed is important, but I think the truth is important. Your take bothers me because I don’t think it comports with reality.
If Ananus was bothered by James’s belief in resurrection, there were a lot of popular leaders, both Jesus followers who believed in his resurrection, and other Jews who believed in it in general, for him to kill.
If he was so zealous for the strict interpretation of the Torah that belief in Jesus’s resurrection would have bothered him, he would never had tried to have anyone killed for it, because the Torah does not mandate killing anyone for a belief in resurrection.
Then there is the point that Rabbi B. raised, that he was murdered along with a bunch of unidentified Jews. Surely if they were Jesus followers it would have been interesting enough to record it.
It is very interesting that someone will put their faith in Christianity because of the SUPPOSED motivation of an individual, who could have been mistaken (i.e., he believed in the Resurrection for naive or bias reasons, just like most believers these days).
Its not about that. You were aaking for a non Christian source, so I have given you one, with an analysis. Im not Christian, so it makes no nevermind
Furthermore, belief in the resurrection is not a crime that is subject to stoning (or any death penalty for that matter).
Not to a Pharisee it wouldn’t be, but to someone whose school believes Ressurection is an addition to the law?
“Who is called Christ” is not a declaration, it is merely a statement that people call Jesus that.
People can call it an interpolation if they wish, but it makes no sense to do so.
Why would the Romans care what the people consider unjust?
How many Jews did Pilate kill before the Romans recalled him? It wasn’t just a couple.
Rabbi, you say I’m reeading into the text, while you are the one trying to dispute that this text is even about James the brother of Jesus!
You want to say that its a Christian interpolation, even though this reference, and the reference to John the Baptist are considerd
authentic by most.
My comment about who this is talking about has no bearing on my comment about what the text does NOT say. The text says nothing about the motivation for the killing. The text does give us to understand that this killing would not have happened through the “normal” channels, even the Roman system, simply because those opposed to the killing were able to make the Roman governor understand that it was unjust or at least unlawful.
And since when is an addition to the Law punishable by stoning?
Hi Concerned Reader,
Thank you for taking the time to write up that elaborative comment. I will reply, quote by quote on your main points.
“You stated extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You explained that your faith in the Torah is due to extraordinary evidence. You attached a document explaining the fulfillment of prophecies of Deuteronomy 28 . There were 9 prophecies in which their fulfillment is explained in detail, which I take it as the extraordinary evidence that you speak of.
I questioned this approach. Which is more important in advocating belief in a religion? Extraordinary claim or extraordinary evidence?”
Please clarify what you mean.
“You then backtrack a little by saying that “extraordinary” doesn’t mean that it has to be important to the faith , only that is supernatural and unlikely given the world and how it runs.”
I never backtracked anything. The saying “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is a rather famous line that I have not invented (Google it). I’m afraid that I haven’t explained what the saying means, so see https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Extraordinary_claims_require_extraordinary_evidence
“That is what I am trying to get at. Yes, I do acknowledge that the fulfillment of prophecies in Deuteronomy 28 is unique and there is a very low probability of another nation having similar circumstances (you need to consider the Parsis –they come quite close).”
As we spoke about before, the Parsis are incomparable both in their history and in the fact that their sacred texts don’t prophecy that future for them. Although unrelated to this particular comment, I would like to add to the discussion we had earlier about the verse that says “and they will serve gods of stone and wood”. This may have been fulfilled right after the Roman exile when many Jews were sent to Rome and Egypt where many of them, I believe, assimilated or were forced to adapt pagan worship. Correct me if I’m wrong in that piece of history.
“However to base your belief on this alone is not very wise. It is like saying that I should believe that the Quran is a revelation from G-d because it contains claims that is scientifically proven to be accurate (embryology, mountains, origin of the universe among others) , even more so as compared to the Bible . How can an illiterate Arab man living in 6th century Arabia arrive at these facts if not for Divine Guidance?”
They are not comparable in any sense. You can find many objections online to those “scientific” facts in the Quran.
“If you agree with this, then I would further state that there should be other criterion to advocate belief in a religion. In my opinion the document that you attached is not very sufficient as it is only on fulfillment of prophecies. Dina has provided a link (in a previous conversation ) which I think is a more comprehensive here
According to Rabbi Dr. David Gottlieb, the author of this document , only one piece of evidence is not enough to point out that the Torah is true . He explained in depth on a few evidences such as fulfillment of predictions in Deuteronomy 28 to 30,archeology, revelation and miracles (on the Mass revelation and manna which he explained the Kuzari principle at length-page 32 to 40) and Jewish survival.”
I agree with you on this. However, in my opinion, the prophecies of Deut. 28 and Jewish survival are the strongest evidence. I do have some criticism on the Kuzari Principle, beyond the scope of this discussion.
“Likewise , the resurrection is an event in which the social memory is confined within the early believers of the Jerusalem church with no external corroboration . In light of this is it fair for you then to discount the resurrection as compared to Mass revelation?”
As discussed earlier, the Mass Revelation is not being used as an argument by me – but the Resurrection is being used as an argument to authenticate Christianity by you. Additionally, as discussed earlier, the Mass Revelation includes the entire nation, versus the Resurrection which was witnessed by an unidentified 500 people probably a few generations after the event. I feel like there’s no reason to elaborate on this because we already covered this ground.
“In addition , if I were to put these two events side by side without any bias , the resurrection would be a more credible claim . There are a few examples of the dead who were brought back to life in the Jewish Scriptures. There are also many modern day stories of people who were pronounced clinically dead but came back to life. However the Mass revelation is totally unique . There is no supernatural event that can come close to it , thereby making it a totally spectacular , unbelievable and very hard to prove.”
Exactly! The Resurrection, even if it happened, isn’t unique and therefore isn’t sufficient in proving Christianity.
“You stated that my counter arguments are baseless without the NT. What is your reaction to the following scenario- A group of people are claiming that their beloved spiritual guru who died 2 months ago (due to a government crackdown) was raised from the dead and taken up to heaven. They are winning many followers . The authorities are investigating on their activities and have arrested them in a few occasions .There was no body produced as of this time . Do you think these followers are lying or that they stole the body? Are they motivated by self-interest? These followers doesn’t seem to backtrack from their convictions despite pressure from the authorities. There seems to be a unified front with no one telling on their “lies”. These people seem to be of sound mind-one of them is a highly regarded member in society. They are organized and they go around doing good, helping the poor and healing the sick. The authorities could have just produced a body and it will destroy their claims completely, however that did not happen .My counter arguments are along these lines. The resurrection narratives in the NT is congruent with what I have just described. You still see them as baseless?”
Let me know what you think about the following scenario: two thousand years ago, a man writes a book based on legends, or lies of his own, and writes an incredible inspiring story of 12 disciples of a man named Jesus who they crowned as the Messiah. They were ultimately killed for staying strong to their beliefs…
I have many other scenarios even if they did exist as described in the NT, but I will cut short for the moment.
“Let me leave with a quote from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus :
“3. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (Antiquities of the Jews – Book XVIII” 3.3 (written AD 93 to 94))”
This is highly likely to be a tampered text. The early works of Josephus were exclusively in the hands of a few who had the power to tamper with it. You can probably realize for yourself how Christiological this sounds – arousing much suspicion. It is clear that Josephus was a devout Pharisee but that text you quoted seems to suggest that he was an Apostle himself.
I would appreciate if you can explain your criticism of the Deut. 28 prophecies as well as why you trust the NT for its narrative of the Resurrection.
Looking forward to hear form you,
This was Sharon S’ comment Fovid, not mine.
Just to clarify , the quotes that you are responding to in your comment comes from me and not from Concerned Reader. Since you are responding to my comments then I take it that you expect me to respond to them.
You state “I would appreciate if you can explain your criticism of the Deut. 28 prophecies as well as why you trust the NT for its narrative of the Resurrection.”
I don’t criticize the Deut 28 prophecies . In fact I wrote “I do acknowledge that the fulfillment of prophecies in Deuteronomy 28 is unique and there is a very low probability of another nation having similar circumstances……. However to base your belief on this alone is not very wise.” I do believe that there is a supernatural or Divine hand at work , but to conclude that the Torah is from G-d on this basis alone is too far-fetched. Perhaps this may be sufficient to you . This evidence will not be enough for me had I been a skeptic.
That is why I see the Mass Revelation claim/evidence as important and need to be considered . However based on Rabbi Dr. David Gottlieb’s document , the evidence for this is the social memory of the Jewish people and no external corroboration is mentioned.
Similarly , there is no external corroboration for the resurrection narrative. I mentioned previously that no one can confirm or deny that it actually happened. Christians believe that it happened based on the testimony of the Apostles. I don’t see why you need to discount the resurrection when there are no external corroboration for the Mass revelation either.
I trust the NT for the narrative on resurrection firstly because of the testimony that Paul had handed down to the believers in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. This is the earliest creed taught to the early believers from the Apostles , as early as a few years after the resurrection of Jesus.
Secondly , the resurrection accounts in the Gospels and Acts , though written later ,records circumstances of the resurrection that can embarrass the Apostles or made it easy for the resurrection to be refuted in the first place as follows:
1.Apostles’ fear and disillusionment during the crucifixion-they never thought that Jesus whom they acknowledged as the Messiah would be killed by the Romans.
2.They did not believe the testimony of the women who first saw the risen Jesus
3.The apostles did not realize that Jesus rose from the dead even though they saw the empty tomb –it was only made clear when Jesus appeared to them
4.The apostles proclaimed that Jesus rose from the dead 2 months after the event in Jerusalem –so the memory of the crucifixion would still be fresh and the body could have been produced to refute their claim –but that did not happen.
5.James , who was skeptical of Jesus during his ministry became a believer and the leader of the Jerusalem church.
6.Saul of Tarsus , an enemy of the church became a believer and boldly proclaimed Jesus to the point of imprisonment and death.
Thirdly , the apostles, Paul and early believers boldly proclaimed that Jesus is the Lord and Messiah and were willing to suffer and die for this belief.
Fourthly , I see the resurrection as a credible claim as there are similar events in the Jewish scriptures , the fact that the Jewish people believe in the resurrection of the dead despite it not explicitly stated in the scriptures and that there are accounts of those pronounced dead brought back to life reported in the present day.
Please refer link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0iDNLxmWVM
which discuss the various theories for and against the resurrection of Jesus.
The point I’m trying to make is if we believe in G-d and that He intervenes in history to redeem the oppressed then we should believe that the Mass revelation happened based on the testimony of the Jewish people. Likewise , the resurrection of Jesus give hope to those who attach significance to it that good will ultimately triumph over evil and that there is eternal life .It should be seen as a credible claim , but it can be a test as described in Deuteronomy 13.
My apologies also if you feel that my comments seem to made light of the beliefs and convictions of the Jewish people.
I hope I have answered your questions .Do let me know if you have any further concerns.
“ust the NT for the narrative on resurrection firstly because of the testimony that Paul had handed down to the believers in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. This is the earliest creed taught to the early believers from the Apostles , as early as a few years after the resurrection of Jesus.”
this creed does not describe what exactly appeared. this creed does not mention that women had first appearance(mark confirms when he said , “they said nothing to anyone…”)
how do we know that this creed is not a rumor repeated by Paul?
2.They did not believe the testimony of the women who first saw the risen Jesus”
mark says that the women did not tell peter
Matthew says that the women did and both mat and mark never have peter check out the tomb,it is the gospel of luke which has peter go to the the tomb
reading Matthew alone ,one sees that the 12 listen to the women and shoot of to Galilee. there is absolutely no indication in mat or mark that any of the 12 went to check out the empty tomb.
I am asking, why isn’t it possible that disbelief is created for apologetic purposes in the later gospels?
“3.The apostles did not realize that Jesus rose from the dead even though they saw the empty tomb”
john and Luke.
so an appearance was more important than an unknown tomb?
4.The apostles proclaimed that Jesus rose from the dead 2 months after the event in Jerusalem –so the memory of the crucifixion would still be fresh and the body could have been produced to refute their claim –but that did not happen.”
How many knew where the body was buried two months later? how many would remember who was crucified two months later? how many would,two months later, even go to check out where the body was placed?
why didn’t the followers of Jesus produce his body as proof of resurrection?
Say somebody said that they definitely knew the burial location of Jesus and they knew that Jesus was in the ground cause they saw him get buried, how many would allow the exhume of the body?
“5.James , who was skeptical of Jesus during his ministry became a believer and the leader of the Jerusalem church.
6.Saul of Tarsus , an enemy of the church became a believer and boldly proclaimed Jesus to the point of imprisonment and death.”
having a change of mind and repeating a creed which no one knows the origin of?
“Thirdly , the apostles, Paul and early believers boldly proclaimed that Jesus is the Lord and Messiah and were willing to suffer and die for this belief.”
and this is proof that they really saw jesus?
Sorry for the slight confusion with the name changing.
“I don’t criticize the Deut 28 prophecies . In fact I wrote “I do acknowledge that the fulfillment of prophecies in Deuteronomy 28 is unique and there is a very low probability of another nation having similar circumstances……. However to base your belief on this alone is not very wise.” I do believe that there is a supernatural or Divine hand at work , but to conclude that the Torah is from G-d on this basis alone is too far-fetched. Perhaps this may be sufficient to you . This evidence will not be enough for me had I been a skeptic.”
Please explain why it isn’t sufficient. What are the chances of such prophecy being prophesied by a human and thereafter being fulfilled completely? It’s not only one prophecy which can perhaps be explained away with the chance of luck, but it is a string of prophecies, that all oppose each other, that clearly happened to completion. How can a skeptic – logically – refute this?
“That is why I see the Mass Revelation claim/evidence as important and need to be considered . However based on Rabbi Dr. David Gottlieb’s document , the evidence for this is the social memory of the Jewish people and no external corroboration is mentioned.
Similarly , there is no external corroboration for the resurrection narrative. I mentioned previously that no one can confirm or deny that it actually happened. Christians believe that it happened based on the testimony of the Apostles. I don’t see why you need to discount the resurrection when there are no external corroboration for the Mass revelation either.”
Perhaps I haven’t explained myself until now. I don’t view the lack of external recording of the Resurrection as a negative, rather I view it as a lack of positive. Even if, say, all external documents of the time were to be destroyed hundreds of years ago, I would still reject the Resurrection account. I would do so not because of the lack of external documents but because why should we accept such a claim. Anyone who comes and claims a Resurrection needs evidence to back it. It is an extremely wild claim that is unlikely to happen, thus needing much support.
Imagine someone walks out of a cave and says that he saw a miracle in there by himself, would you believe them? You probably wouldn’t, not because of lack of outside evidence – because no one else was with him in the cave and thus we do not expect anyone else to record it – but by the virtue wild claim itself it is rejected until sufficient evidence is provided.
Similarly, the NT account of the Resurrection is rejected until there’s evidence for it. That hasn’t been provided yet. The Mass Revelation also needs evidence to back it up – and it does. Firstly, it has the tradition of millions of a nation who say that ALL their parents heard from their parents etc… Secondly, there’s a string of prophecies that by no scope of imagination could have been predicted by a human, being that they’re so unlikely and thus unpredictable.
“I trust the NT for the narrative on resurrection firstly because of the testimony that Paul had handed down to the believers in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. This is the earliest creed taught to the early believers from the Apostles , as early as a few years after the resurrection of Jesus.”
This is the recording of ONE individual, who has an agenda to promote Christianity, as evident from his writings. Additionally, Paul’s writings may have been written much, much after Jesus’ lifetime.
“Secondly , the resurrection accounts in the Gospels and Acts , though written later ,records circumstances of the resurrection that can embarrass the Apostles or made it easy for the resurrection to be refuted in the first place as follows:”
As mentioned earlier, there are two options of what the NT writers were writing. (1) lies of their own. (2) legends that evolved over the years. If it is the second option, then your next few arguments don’t even begin.
“1.Apostles’ fear and disillusionment during the crucifixion-they never thought that Jesus whom they acknowledged as the Messiah would be killed by the Romans.”
That enhances their message by saying that the only reason for his death at the hands of the Romans, was in order to be Resurrected.
“2.They did not believe the testimony of the women who first saw the risen Jesus”
This dramatizes the idea of a Resurrection even more. In fact, this is always used in stories. People say like “at first i didn’t believe it until…”
“3.The apostles did not realize that Jesus rose from the dead even though they saw the empty tomb –it was only made clear when Jesus appeared to them.”
Again, this (i.e., that they saw Jesus) is enhancing the drama of the story. Additionally, this (i.e., that they didn’t believe at first when they only saw an empty grave) is actually making them sound like normal humans who don’t jump to the resurrection nuclear option when seeing an empty tomb.
“4.The apostles proclaimed that Jesus rose from the dead 2 months after the event in Jerusalem –so the memory of the crucifixion would still be fresh and the body could have been produced to refute their claim –but that did not happen.”
This probably never happened. Again, you are basing your history facts on the NT – which is not the smartest idea given the agenda they clearly have. The NT writers either fabricated this storyline or they were innocently recording the legends of the time.
“5.James , who was skeptical of Jesus during his ministry became a believer and the leader of the Jerusalem church.”
So what? Every religion, especially in the beginning, have people who were once skeptical join. Also, again you are basing your history facts on a book that still wasn’t verified as authentic.
“6.Saul of Tarsus, an enemy of the church became a believer and boldly proclaimed Jesus to the point of imprisonment and death.”
Again basing your facts on the NT. Additonally, every religion has people who are tortured and put to death for their beliefs. I don’t see the irony in this.
“Thirdly , the apostles, Paul and early believers boldly proclaimed that Jesus is the Lord and Messiah and were willing to suffer and die for this belief.”
Again basing your facts on the NT.
“Fourthly , I see the resurrection as a credible claim as there are similar events in the Jewish scriptures , the fact that the Jewish people believe in the resurrection of the dead despite it not explicitly stated in the scriptures and that there are accounts of those pronounced dead brought back to life reported in the present day.”
For the same price, you should believe when I claim that my grandfather died and was resurrected.
“My apologies also if you feel that my comments seem to made light of the beliefs and convictions of the Jewish people.”
That’s what this blog is for. If I was uncomfortable with it, I would just exist my browser.
From your arguments, it seems there is no reason for me to believe in the resurrection solely on the account of the NT , which you distrust so much but is growing in favor even among critical scholars. Likewise ,there is no reason for me to believe in the authenticity of the Mass revelation solely on the account of the Torah and the testimony of the Jewish people.
The Mass revelation is a unique supernatural event which has no equivalent in the history of mankind. Hence the evidence given must prove that this event have taken place. I see the fulfillment of prophecies and Jewish survival as indirect evidence and not persuasive enough on its own. Similarly I see the testimony of the Jewish nation on par with the testimony of the Apostles. Why should I believe in these testimonies when there are no external corroboration for BOTH?
From prior experience , fulfillment of prophecies is not enough to establish belief that a scripture is divinely revealed. In my opinion the criterion to evaluate if a scripture is divinely revealed should be as follows:
1.The message is consistent throughout scripture with no contradictions (such as different names recorded for similar accounts recorded at different places in Scripture)
2.The earliest Scripture manuscripts should be dated as close as possible to the period of revelation
3.There is no possibility of tampering of manipulation of the scriptures.
4.The message should be transmitted accurately with a documented chain of transmission from the time it was first revealed.
5.The chain of transmission should comprise individuals who are trustworthy and with impeccable character.
6.The message should be consistent with previous revelation (if it is claimed that it carries on from that revelation)
7.The message should not indicate anthropomorphism or attributing human like qualities to the Supreme Being in that scripture.
8.The characters to be emulated in the Scripture should be described in ideal terms (they should not cheat , murder , commit adultery , etc).
1.The description of nature and of creation in that Scripture should be attested by modern science
2.The scripture concerned should have an accurate description of the human condition
3.The scripture , revealed to a universal or particular audience should have some relevance to humanity.
The method of revelation plays an important role . A revelation to a single individual is not as strong as a revelation to a group of people or to a nation . However to prove that a revelation from the Divine had taken place –be it to an individual or a nation is impossible . The burden of proof lies on the individual or nation to prove that it took place.
My apologies if this offends your sensitivities. I am stating the above from the skeptic’s point of view. If there is no reason to believe that the resurrection had taken place, then there is no reason to believe in any other supernatural events as well.
“From your arguments, it seems there is no reason for me to believe in the resurrection solely on the account of the NT , which you distrust so much but is growing in favor even among critical scholars.”
These critical scholars you mention do reject the Resurrection account, especially due to the contradictions on some fundamental details between the accounts of the Gospels.
“Likewise ,there is no reason for me to believe in the authenticity of the Mass revelation solely on the account of the Torah and the testimony of the Jewish people.”
That is correct. Which is why I don’t have so much faith in the Kuzari Principle.
“The Mass revelation is a unique supernatural event which has no equivalent in the history of mankind. Hence the evidence given must prove that this event have taken place. I see the fulfillment of prophecies and Jewish survival as indirect evidence and not persuasive enough on its own.”
Please clarify why you think of it as indirect and insufficient, even with all the compelling factors of it discussed at length in the document link sent. If I may ask, did you read the entire document with the footnotes? I think after doing so, the argument becomes very strong.
“From prior experience , fulfillment of prophecies is not enough to establish belief that a scripture is divinely revealed.”
I’m not sure which experience you’re referring to but if its the prophecies in the Prophets such as Isaiah and Ezekiel, I’m totally on board with you. However, those are incomparable to the Deut 28 prophecies, which unlike those prophecies are clear, consistent and we know were written before the events unfolded.
“My apologies if this offends your sensitivities.”
I have no sensitivities when it comes to these things. I have trained myself to separate my character from the beliefs I have. The facts are the facts no matter what I feel about them.
“I am stating the above from the skeptic’s point of view.”
The skeptic’s point of view is just as naive as the believers point of view. We need to have a logical point of view which is to have the right balance of skepticism and acceptance to facts based on the evidence provided.
You mentioned that extraordinary claim require extraordinary evidence . You posit that the Torah is a Divine revelation based on the fulfillment of its prophecies (Deuteronomy 28) and the remarkable story of Jewish survival . My contention that these evidences alone are not enough . I have laid out 8 + 3 additional points to consider apart from the evidences you put forth in your arguments.
Appreciate if you go through these points first before replying to this comment.
I derive these points from listening and reading on criticisms of the Bible (both the Jewish and Christian scriptures) from Muslim apologists and from other sources . In my opinion these points are highly relevant and should be considered.
The Jewish scriptures in my opinion should be subject to the same level of scrutiny as the NT. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the earliest manuscripts available to date . These documents are dated 2nd century century BCE which is probably written during the Babylonian exile/Second temple period –more than 1,000 years after the Torah was supposedly revealed .Without earlier manuscripts, there is a possibility that Torah may have been produced at a later period and not written by Moses as claimed.
There are also factual contradictions in the Jewish Scriptures and questions of authorship on some of its books. I would suggest that you look into the videos of Muslim apologists like the late Sheikh Ahmad Deedat or Shabir Ally for details of the factual contradictions in the Bible. You should consider documentary hypothesis as well which raise the possibility that the Torah may be a product of a few authors.
Both the Jewish Scriptures and the NT have been the target of biblical criticism by liberal scholars. The evidences you speak of do indirectly put the Jewish scriptures on a higher edge. The prophecies of Deuteronomy 28 were mostly of events that occur from the destruction of the 2nd temple to the 2,000 year exile , which is the period after the dead sea scrolls were written .
However I need to consider along with that, the earliest manuscript of the Torah which is dated more than 1,000 years after the death of Moses and the possibility that it may not be authored by him , but rather the work of a few authors. So there is possibility of embellishment or development of legends over a 1,000 year period –a higher risk as compared to the NT (less than 100 years).
That explains why your evidences is insufficient. I hope to have made my position clear. Do correct if there is any error.
Sharon, let us say the resurrection happened. In light of Deuteronomy 13 and 18, why is it relevant?
In one of your earlier comments, you explain that there is a greater rational basis for Christianity than for Judaism because there is historical evidence of the birth of Christianity but not for the birth of Judaism (if I have understood you correctly).
When it comes to extra-biblical historical evidence, that is inarguably true.
But that is not the problem for Christianity. The problem for Christianity is deriving its authority from the Torah and accepting it as true. Jesus believed in and accepted the truth of the Torah and its descriptions of its foundational events. Is it reasonable to follow a religion that contradicts its accepted authority?
Is it logical to say, then, that the Torah isn’t true, but Christianity is?
It seems more logical to me to say that if the Torah isn’t true, Christianity cannot possibly be true. And if the Torah isn’t true, Christianity cannot possibly be true because it rejects many of its basic tenets.
I agree with you 100% Dina that Christianity’s problem comes with trying to derive its Authority from the Torah, and it is with the sole exception of extra-biblical historical data that I’m making my point.
When I gave Rabbi B a possible reading of the James Passage in Josephus, I was delibrately trying to be overly charitable to Christians, but it is to make a point.
I have seen more rabbis than I can count who deny Jesus’s historical existence, or can’t even bring themselves to admit that Jesus’ early followers actually believed and died for crazy things about him like belief in a ressurection.
My point was that if you cannot hear the data on things that Christians come to extra biblically, (without need of their own books,)
then it’s hard to convince them to examine the Tanakh charitably after destroying the theological aspects of Christianity.
I always try to remind people that gentile Christians don’t believe in the Torah based on its own merits, or claims, they believed in it because they already believed the Christian stories about Jesus.
In most cases, their ancestors went from paganism directly into Christianity.
The Hebrew Bible is in many ways externally relevant to a gentile believer. In their minds Jesus’ believed credability is what props up stories in the Torah which Gentiles would find too Fantastic, or unlikely to be true. Jesus serves in their mind as corroboration for the claims in the torah which they can’t verify.
I know that’s not how it should go, but that’s how it did go.
I have no doubt that the Jewish Disciples of Jesus would have believed everything about Sinai that their fellow Jews believed, but this was not the driving Factor for Gentiles becoming Christians. It’s a sad thing, but it’s what I mean by an uphill battle.
No one should make light of the suffering of Christians today because of their beliefs. The fact of persecution is a horrible one. And as you pointed it out, it was horrible for the Jews as well (and was more persistent, widespread, and generally worse).
I don’t think anyone here would make light of that.
It cannot be used as evidence of the martyrs’ beliefs, however. Neither for Jews nor for Christians. All it proves is that they believed so deeply in whatever they believed in that they were willing to suffer and die for it.
For example, one can argue against the New Testament’s depiction of Judaism as a cold, legalistic institution devoid of spirituality, because that could never inspire such fierce loyalty and such deep devotion unto death. But it does not prove that Judaism is true.
By the way, your English is excellent.
Dovid, mass revelation belongs in the category of mind-blowing prophecies in Deuteronomy. The Torah uses this principle as proof of itself and predicts that no one other nation will ever use such a claim. History shows the fulfillment of this prediction as well.
It’s great to have you in this intriguing discussion. About your point: the prophecies I like referring to are ones that were clearly fulfilled beyond the shadow of a doubt. The ones of Deut. 28 are in that category.
Thank you, Dovid! I’m not aware that the fulfillment of that prophecy is disputed.
I really like Rabbi Keleman’s take on this. Let me know if you’d like me to post the video link.
I’ve heard his lecture some time back and I remember being not so impressed by it. He presents it beautifully, but it is a little one-sided. Other nations definitely didn’t have the experience but it can be argued that the Israelites haven’t either. There are scenarios, although unlikely, that would explain how the “Sinai myth” developed into the Jewish community.
I personally could not poke holes in it, but okay then!
You may disagree with Dovid’s assessment that prophecy fulfillment is evidence of the Torah’s truth, but it is not circular reasoning.
It is circular in the sense that the prophecies are only found within the book that is in dispute.
Prophecies of woe, dispersion, and reathering are also things that you would expect kingdoms and Empires to hypothesize about, because kingdoms fall everyday.
Would I call Galileo Galilei, Jules Verne, or Nikola Tesla prophets because of the technologies that they described in intricate detail that have come to fruition in modern times?
Or is it more rational to suppose that great minds can see logical progressions within fields of study or matters of Interest?
“It is circular in the sense that the prophecies are only found within the book that is in dispute.”
The issue with circular reasoning is establishing a FACT based on the book that wasn’t yet verified. But in our case, we are not establishing any fact from what it says in Deut. 28. The facts are all in the history books and the daily news.
“Prophecies of woe, dispersion, and reathering are also things that you would expect kingdoms and Empires to hypothesize about, because kingdoms fall everyday.”
As I have stated multiple times, you have no say in this discussion until you take your time to read the entire document. I can tell from your comment here that you haven’t done any more than skimming through the document. But just to answer what you are saying here: kingdoms do fall everyday. However, almost none were EXILED, and none were dispersed, persecuted, all the while still retaining their identity, preserving their Torah and eventually return to their homeland after thousands of years.
“Would I call Galileo Galilei, Jules Verne, or Nikola Tesla prophets because of the technologies that they described in intricate detail that have come to fruition in modern times?”
Obviously not because they used natural means, i.e. science, to claim their theories. In contrast, the “human author” would have no means of knowing the future turnabouts in history.
Please respond only after reading the entire document. We don’t need you to be the devil’s advocate.
Looking forward to hear from you,
“You mentioned that extraordinary claim require extraordinary evidence . You posit that the Torah is a Divine revelation based on the fulfillment of its prophecies (Deuteronomy 28) and the remarkable story of Jewish survival . My contention that these evidences alone are not enough . I have laid out 8 + 3 additional points to consider apart from the evidences you put forth in your arguments.”
I agree with the criteria you laid out. However that is not the only way of verifying the authenticity of a document. Another method in verifying the document is seeing that there are prophecies in there that couldn’t have been predicted by a human even under the most abstract imagination. I think we can agree that the prophecies of Deut. 28 are of that nature. If you disagree, please clarify under what plausible or even improbable circumstance the predictions of Deut. 28 could have been predicted by a human and thereafter be completed with perfection.
“The Jewish scriptures in my opinion should be subject to the same level of scrutiny as the NT. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the earliest manuscripts available to date. These documents are dated 2nd century century BCE which is probably written during the Babylonian exile/Second temple period –more than 1,000 years after the Torah was supposedly revealed .Without earlier manuscripts, there is a possibility that Torah may have been produced at a later period and not written by Moses as claimed.”
That is correct, strictly from a historical point of view.
“There are also factual contradictions in the Jewish Scriptures”
There are answers for the contradictions and if you want we can go through specific contractions. Also, if you want we can go through what are regarded as the biggest contradictions in the Torah, and from those we’ll set an example for the remaining contradictions.
“and questions of authorship on some of its books.”
I assume you are speaking of the second half of Isaiah. Correct me if I’m wrong. We can talk about this as well, if you want, but in general there’s no consequence even if it wasn’t written by Isaiah and there are many proofs that it in fact was written by him.
“I would suggest that you look into the videos of Muslim apologists like the late Sheikh Ahmad Deedat or Shabir Ally for details of the factual contradictions in the Bible. You should consider documentary hypothesis as well which raise the possibility that the Torah may be a product of a few authors.”
I have read up and considered all of these theories/hypothesis already. The Documentary Hypothesis deals with the Torah strictly from a historical point of view, ignoring the philosophical arguments such as prophecy (and Mass Revelation). Anyways, even if we are to grant the Documentary Hypothesis its claim that the Torah was written by multiple authors, that poses no question on the divinity of Torah.
First of all, the Torah only says that the book of Deuteronomy was written by Moses. The rest – is only a strong tradition that it was written by him. So theoretically, even if other authors wrote the remainder of the Pentateuch, that doesn’t invalidate the Torah itself, rather it invalidates that tradition alone. If that is the case, how do we know there was no tampering with the text? Well if we know that at least part of the text is divine (e.g., Deut. 28), then we can rely on G-d that He wouldn’t allow humans to tamper with His message to us by adding parts that are inaccurate. I think He is strong enough to arrange that.
Secondly, the Talmud says (I believe it is in Gittin 61b) that the Torah was written by Moses in parts. Meaning, that right after the Israelites left Egypt, he wrote the story up until there. As the story progressed, he wrote more and more. This is not only what the Talmud says but it seems so from the text itself which isn’t always a flow from the previous chapter precisely because it was written as a independent chapter only to be added together with the rest towards the end of Moses’ life. This would explain different the different terminology we find throughout Torah. Over the years, Moses’ vocabulary and usage of words would change slightly and thus it would so appear in his writings.
Thirdly, it is possible that Moses wrote the Torah through other scribes working under him. This would explain differences in terminology used.
If there are any crucial points of the Documentary Hypothesis that I missed, let me know.
“However I need to consider along with that, the earliest manuscript of the Torah which is dated more than 1,000 years after the death of Moses and the possibility that it may not be authored by him , but rather the work of a few authors. So there is possibility of embellishment or development of legends over a 1,000 year period –a higher risk as compared to the NT (less than 100 years).”
Myth formation and legend development can happen very rapidly and thus there is no difference between 100 and 1,000 years.
Hope I explained myself, looking forward to hear from you,
Sharon, you wrote that the NT is more accurate than the Torah because it was written sooner after the events happened (something which is merely conjecture; you cannot know this for sure). Jesus believed the Torah to be true and accurate. A close reading of the New Testament shows that he was a religiously observant Jew closely aligned in his observances with the Pharisees, despite his harsh criticism of them. How does it make sense to say the NT is more accurate if your man believed the Torah to be the word of God?
If you believe in Jesus, it makes no sense to dismiss the Torah.
Hope you are well.
You asked “Sharon, let us say the resurrection happened. In light of Deuteronomy 13 and 18, why is it relevant?”
I believe the resurrection did happen based on the testimony of the Apostles . However I see the resurrection as a test in light of Deuteronomy 13 & 18 . In Deuteronomy 13 the Jewish people were warned against following a prophet who announces a sign or wonder even when it comes to pass and if that prophets call them to worship gods they have not known. Unfortunately the apostles attached too much significance to the resurrection that the warning of Deuteronomy 13 fled from their consciousness. They came to a wrong set of conclusions and proclaimed this as truths. As a result they made a 180 degree turn from the faith of their fathers . Their legacy brought a big chunk of humanity astray.
You also asked “ How does it make sense to say the NT is more accurate if your man believed the Torah to be the word of God?” and that if one were to believe in Jesus, a religiously observant Jew then it makes no sense to dismiss Torah.
To reply-I started the conversation with Dovid on the assumption that the Torah is Divinely revealed and that it is true. I also believe that the NT faithfully recorded the testimony of the Apostles on the resurrection and justify from the NT why it is true. However I receive feedback that the NT account of the resurrection cannot be relied upon and that the NT writers either (1) lied about it or (2) that the resurrection is a legend that evolved over the years. The counter arguments I raised in support of the resurrection were not discussed on their own merit but rather I am seen as heavily relying on the NT which is seen as advocating Christianity.
If indeed the resurrection account in the NT is a lie /legend than we should come to a conclusion that ALL accounts in the NT are lies or myths . This would include accounts of Jesus being a religious, observant Jew who follow the Torah .
(Let me add that if the authors of the NT are advocating Christianity they would not have written or implied in their narratives that Jesus was an observant Jew that follows Torah, after all Christianity advocates that there is salvation apart from the Torah. That is unless there is a hidden apologetic agenda which I am not aware of )
If we were to continue down that line of thought, then it makes no sense to believe in the Torah . It would also make no sense to believe that the Torah was written by Moses as claimed by the NT .According to the NT Jesus , the Apostles and Paul believe the Torah was written by Moses . The NT and the Torah would be seen as two separate and independent set of documents , not linked to each other as advocated by Christianity . The Torah should then be subject to the same level of scrutiny as the NT .
I hope that I have answered your question. Please highlight if I missed the mark. Thank you for your compliment on my English. I appreciate it very much .There is still more room for improvement especially on the grammar.
Sharon, thanks for clarifying that you are coming from a perspective of belief in the truth of both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
I am not arguing whether the resurrection happened or not. I am trying to meet you on your turf and thus am arguing as if the resurrection did occur (although I believe that yes, it is a fabrication, and that while the NT contains some truths, it contains many lies, especially the vicious ones about the Jews which led to horrific persecution).
I asked why, if the resurrection happened, it is relevant in light of Deuteronomy 13 and 18. Your answer is incoherent to me. A false prophet can perform miracles; if he predicts a sign and it comes to pass, and then that sign is used to lead people into idol worship, then he is a false prophet who must be rejected. Jesus (or his followers) tried to introduce a new type of worship into Judaism–worship of himself. The Jewish people rightly rejected this false prophet and refused to engage in idol worship. Why then is the resurrection relevant? (Please note, I am not asking why the resurrection is true; I am asking why it is relevant when miracles are not supposed to be the yardstick of measuring truth.)
In Deuteronomy 18 we are given another way to test a prophet: the prophet must produce a sign that comes to pass. Although this isn’t sufficient, if the sign doesn’t come to pass then we can at least rule out that he is a true prophet.
The Pharisees asked for a sign, Jesus predicted one, then failed to produce the sign to the very people who rightly, according to Deuteronomy 18, asked for one (though he castigates them for this).
Thus, according to the Torah’s standard of true prophet status, Jesus fails both tests. I do not understand how you reconcile this.
I’m afraid I did not understand your question initially . Apologies if my answer is incoherent to you.
The resurrection should not be relevant to the followers of Jesus who were Torah observant Jews ( even if it did occur) in the light of Deuteronomy 13 & 18 . Rather they should see it as a test of fidelity to G-d . Jesus predicted a sign (the resurrection) and it happened. These followers should have questioned Jesus when he advocated worship, which I do not think they did .Instead, they were devoted to the risen Jesus and worshipped him, but some doubted (Matthew 28:17).
The resurrection should not be regarded as relevant to Jews then and now .
Hope it answers your question.
I had compared your replies against the 8 points listed in my previous comments . In my opinion you have addressed 5 of the criterions I listed in my previous comments. You have addressed the concerns on documentary hypothesis very well. I do agree with you that the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28 prophecies show that the text has not been tampered with and may have gone through reliable transmission . Concerns on the earliest manuscripts may not be as relevant .
Unfortunately, I don’t think that this is alone is enough for me to be convinced that the Torah is divinely revealed. I have further concerns on the documentary hypothesis and the contradictions in the Jewish scriptures.
I was reading up the Torah portion (Toldot-Genesis 25:19 to 28:9) which is on Jacob acquiring Esau’s birthright. The overall message is that one can use less than ideal means such as deception to fulfill the Divine Will i.e putting Jacob as the progenitor of the Jewish nation. This portion seems to show a portrait of a divided family who have very poor communication skills. However I come across an article on this portion which suggest that there may be two stories woven into this narrative. Refer link https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/portion-of-the-week/torah-portion-of-the-week-an-esau-we-didnt-know-1.5468692
I find the narratives of the deception sandwiched between the narratives of Esau’s marriage to the Hittite women and the daughter of Ishmael . It seems the relationship between both brothers will be a more harmonious one without the deception narrative (Priestly source).It is more justifiable for Jacob to be the founder of a nation due to him marrying “within the family” rather than stealing a blessing meant for Esau.
As you can see , the alleged documentary hypothesis here shows two narratives which could significantly alter the meaning and lesson learnt from this story .
On contradictions-I don’t see significant issues with regards to difference in names, numbers and other circumstances on a similar account described in different books of the Jewish scriptures. I do have concern on conflicting messages in the Jewish Scriptures .
Refer example below:
“for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:4)
The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child (Ezekiel 18:19)
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. (Ezekiel 33:11)
There are conflicting messages in Exodus and Ezekiel . So which should take precedence, the Torah or Prophets? Does G-d really pardon the wicked of the third generation who repent?
My apologies for dragging on this conversation . I would also apologize if the questions I have on the Torah offends Jewish sensitivities.
You are impressively well read and knowledgeable. If you don’t mind, I’d like to recommend to you the books I recommended to Sharon. It might change your opinion of Christianity and Christian scripture.
Thy Brothers Blood by Malcolm Hay
Christian Anti-Semitism: A History of Hate by William Nicholls
Holy Hatred by Robert Michael
Thank you, Dina! My opinion of the Christian Scriptures is pretty much the same as yours – I don’t believe it until its authenticated.
You mention a few points that I would like to comment on. If I understood you correctly, you say that a Jew has no reason to be affected by the Resurrection due to Deut 13 & 18. First of all, if Deut. 13 says that a false prophet CAN do such things (assumedly through sorcery), why then should a non-Jew be any different? Additionally, if the apostles themselves – being Jews – went astray in their conclusions about the Resurrection, why then should one have faith in them and their writings?
Another point you make is that the counterarguments you have presented in favor of the NT weren’t dealt with on their own merit. I would like to humbly differ. The arguments were all based on the facts AS DESCRIBED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. For example, you found the suffering of the apostles as evidence in favor of the Resurrection… Additionally, you mentioned James who initially didn’t believe in Jesus… But these stories are only true if we accept the NT as reliable history, something we still have no reason to do given their bias agenda.
You mention that there was no reason for the NT writers to write that Jesus was a religious Jew when their whole religion is coming to cancel out that religion. You ask what their hidden agenda may have been. To me it seems obvious that if indeed they fabricated that piece of history as well, they did so in order to give subconsciousness support to their claim. Their claim is that Christianity is the offshoot of Judaism and replaces it. If Jesus wouldn’t be a religious man, he would be seen as an outcast heretic. Now that he is a religious Jew, his claim is seen as much more real – that even though he’s an insider, he still rejects the Pharisee way of life. As an insider, he can also give his claim that the Rabbinic form of Judaism is hypocritical. Additionally, their claim of Jesus as a religious man isn’t opposing their new religion, since they are saying that indeed until his death, the Torah was to be kept.
You finished off saying that the Torah should be put under the same scrutiny like the NT. I agree. It indeed is put under the same scrutiny – yet it has answers and has a basis in the first place to believe in it. Our very discussion is precisely that – which of the two, Judaism or Christianity, can withstand the scrutiny.
To my understanding the command and warning in Deuteronomy 13 & 18 were only addressed to the Jewish people. That is the rationale behind my statement.
You clarified that my counterarguments are based on facts as described in the NT . If we assume these arguments does not come from the NT will you view them any differently? I have included a link to an informative video which considers all theories on the resurrection which is not all based on the NT . Have you watched the video?
Thank you for enlightening me on the hidden apologetic agenda behind the description of Jesus as an observant Jew on the NT. I am just surprised at the feedback here. Why can’t the NT be accepted at its face value? Why the need to put in a sneaky agenda behind every narrative?
Looks like we agree that the NT and the Torah should be subject to the same scrutiny. From my observations the Jewish Scriptures the same issues as the NT but with an edge-fulfilled prophecies . Please refer to my earlier comment to you (just before this one).
Sharon, there wasn’t a sneaky agenda. I disagree with Dovid’s speculation. From my reading, it seems more likely that the portrayal of Jesus’s religious observances is accidental, which is why Christians never recognized him as a religious Jew. It took Orthodox Jews to recognize throwaway lines that went over the heads of Christians. We recognize the significance of his wearing fringes, we would find familiar his particularly Pharisaic style of argument, and we would recognize some of his actions as stemming from the oral/rabbinic tradition.
Sharon, forgive my bluntness, but it makes absolutely no sense to say that Jews are right to reject Jesus as a false based on the standard of the Torah but that gentiles could and should because that is a standard only for Jews.
Something is either true or not; it isn’t false for me but true for you.
As for the contradiction you cited, I don’t see it. God punishes up to the third generation FOR THOSE WHO HATE HIM. In other words, the subsequent generations are following in the footsteps of their sinning ancestors.
To me it is a sign of God’s unwillingness to punish that He stops at generation number four for bad behavior. And it’s a sign of His desire to reward that He goes on for a thousand generations.
Sharon, I’ve a lot to say but will stick with one more point. I hope to have more time soon.
Jesus was a messianic claimant who attempted to attract a following exclusively from the Jewish people. Therefore, we must take their rejection very seriously.
In the Torah, we see that God never expected the Children of Israel to take Moses at his word. He was going to introduce them to a radically different lifestyle, and they were going to need the most solid proof of all to accept that he was in fact God’s messenger.
In Exodus 19:9, God explains the purpose of the Revelation at Mount Sinai: The Lord said to Moses, “Behold! I come to you in the thickness of the cloud, so that the people will hear as I speak to you, and they will also believe in you forever.”
The purpose of the Revelation was to establish the credibility of Moses as a prophet.
Furthermore, the Torah testifies that “Never again has there arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord had known face to face.”
Finally, the miracles God performed, using Moses as his agent, affected the Egyptians and the Jews on a national scale, further cementing his credibility in the eyes of the Jewish people.
Jesus presented himself to the Jewish people with an extraordinary claim, one that changes the nature of worship of God as taught at Sinai. Jesus taught that no one comes to the Father but through him, in contradiction to the myriad examples of Biblical characters as well as the entire nation crying out to God and being heard (such as in Exodus: “They [the Children of Israel] cried out to the Lord…the Lord heard their groaning).
He taught that the absolution of sin comes only with belief in him and his atoning sacrifice, in contradiction to Genesis 4:7; Deuteronomy 30; Ezekiel 18 and 33; and I don’t have the means to find the source that each man dies for his own sin.
And so on.
For these claims that would overturn the teachings of Moses in the Torah, we require at least the same kind of evidence God provided to establish the credibility of Moses.
That means God would have another revelation to the eyes of the entire nation where they would hear Him speak to Jesus.
God would testify that Jesus is at least as great a prophet as Moses.
Jesus would perform miracles that, rather than affecting a few individuals, would affect the whole nation on a grand scale (such as, for example, fulfilling the actual mission of the messiah as described by the prophets).
If this poses a problem for Jews, it should also pose a problem for gentiles.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions in this conversation . I truly appreciate it.
My statement that “The resurrection should not be regarded as relevant to Jews then and now .” is based on the understanding that Deuteronomy 13 & 18 were only addressed and commanded to the Jewish people in the context of the covenantal relationship with G-d. However from both your responses (you and Dovid) , I understand that the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people is equally binding to the Gentile as well.
I would like to bring up an important point for your consideration. I don’t see how it can be wrong for a Gentile to reject anyone who claims or proclaims themselves/someone else as a prophet and attempt to lead their followers to idolatry . This is because the Gentile is not warned or commanded like the Jew. The Gentile who is presented with these claims are only able to evaluate them from conscience and reason alone. The Gentile should reject the so-called prophet if he seeks public worship because it is against conscience and reason to worship a created being. However most people may not be in tune with their conscience and engage their reason. Hence they are susceptible to mistake signs and wonders as from the Divine and engage in idolatry. G-d will not punish them for what they don’t know.
Jesus is regarded as a false prophet who attempt to introduce strange worship to the Jewish people. Hence it is right for the Jewish people , who have been commanded on this to reject him . I agree with you that the Gentile should reject Jesus based conscience , reason and the testimony of the Jewish people ,for there is no command to the Gentile on this.
In my opinion the Apostles , Paul and the Church , knowingly and unknowingly have exploited the ignorance of the Gentile in order to sell Jesus ,even to the present day. The Church had also tried to destroy the testimony and influenced the systemic persecution of the Jewish people, the only people who are able to refute this falsehood for a long time.
I would also like to respond to your explanation on the contradiction between Exodus and Ezekiel. I understand from your reply that G-d will punish up to the third generation “for those who hate Him” (Exodus 20:4) . Say if the third generation of those who hate G-d decide to repent. Will G-d pardon them , from a plain reading of Exodus 20:4 ?
Do you think that if you repent any transgression you will be forgiven? Or is this one different?
I’m not so sure,especially after comparing Exodus 20:4 with Ezekiel 18:20 and 33:11
I’m confused. Are you just reading 18:20 or 18:14-20? It seems very clear to me. The son shall surely live if he did not follow his fathers ways.
You need to compare between Ezekiel and Exodus
Please refer https://judaismresources.net/2014/07/30/turning-on-a-dime/#comment-46945 for further details
Ex 20:04 is “you shall not make yourself a carved image nor any likeness of that which is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the water beneath the earth”
I think your talking about Ex 20:05 ?
Sharon, I would like to try again if you don’t mind.
In EX 20:05 this is a terrible warning and is part of the warning from 20:04.
“Strangely mothers are not mentioned but they can influence children just as much as fathers think of single moms, widows, divorced.”
Both father and children are mentioned before enemies, and all three are mentioned before “those who love me” is mentioned. If enemies were not mentioned this would clearly be about the fathers and their children. But because enemies is mentioned and “those who love me” is not defined as either father, child or anyone, then enemy can be either father or child. So an only child who does not follow his fathers evil ways will receive God’s kindness.
I’m trying to make sense of what you wrote and I still don’t understand what you are trying to say. Let me explain my position and then perhaps you can clarify yours.
Although the Torah was given to the Jewish people, and nearly all the commandments are binding on the Jewish people alone, the Torah is true for everyone. Of course, the worship of non-Jews who don’t know better and are led astray by signs and wonders is mitigated by that very fact.
What confuses me is not the overwhelming numbers of sincere, good Christians who don’t know better. What confuses me is you. If you know that the Torah says that a sign is meaningless if the one proclaiming the sign introduces a new type of worship, then why is the resurrection still so important to you that you decided to re-embrace your Catholic faith?
It is the Torah that forbids idolatry to both Jew and gentile, and so it is the Torah that defines idolatry.
Please know that there is no judgment on my part. The courage it takes to do what you are doing, especially in your country, is outstanding. I’m just trying to understand your reasoning.
As for the passage in Exodus, yes, from a plain reading of the text it seems clear to me that God will not punish the subsequent generations who repent. This is how Jews have always understood this passage.
I understand that my comments of late may have caused some confusion .Dovid was confused as well and he had asked me to clarify beliefs and I have explained them at length here https://judaismresources.net/2014/07/30/turning-on-a-dime/#comment-45424 .
I appreciate you clarifying your position and your interest in understanding mine , especially since it involves the intent to return to the Catholic faith which is totally against the Torah . My explanation will be a bit lengthy so please bear with me.
I was disillusioned with the whole idea of seeking truth and decided to go back to the Catholic Church . However what I learnt (or rediscovered) about the Catholic faith –especially on the resurrection does give me reason to believe in Jesus and the Church. I believe the resurrection did happen based on the earliest teaching handed down by Paul on 1 Corinthians 15 , which is a very early creed indeed as attested by critical scholars .The only thought that is stopping me is the realization that the Catholic faith requires me to worship Jesus , which is against my conscience and reason.
I do admit that abandoning one’s faith to worship the one G-d can be a lonely experience . It is better to ignore the pull of reason and conscience rather than to go down the path of truth. However there are many other reasons for me to remain in the faith I am born into though it may be faulty. I would like to highlight these reasons for your consideration.
The Torah is given to the Jewish people alone and other nations does not know of it (Psalm 147:20) . I don’t agree that the Torah forbids idolatry for gentiles. If the definition of idolatry is in the Torah and if it is the intent of G-d for the whole world to know of it then the Torah should be addressed to all , similar to the Quran . However that did not happen.
It seems then that there are two ways G-d reveals His will to man . G-d reveals the Torah , which is revealed knowledge to the Jewish nation to be used with existing human faculties of reason and conscience . G-d also reveals His will indirectly to all peoples through reason and conscience (without revealed knowledge).The Gentile can contemplate of nature and infer His laws therein (Psalm 19:1-6). I do believe that the Torah is true for everyone , but it is not addressed to everyone. Hence the commands of the Torah are not binding to those whom it is not addressed to such as myself . Hence I do question the need to obey this “command” many times. Let me illustrate my struggle by way of parable (it may not be as good as Jim’s but please bear with me).
Jane loves flowers. She regularly goes to a park which has many species of beautiful flowers , with many colors . She spends her time at the park by admiring these flowers from afar , by touching , smelling or taking photos of them. She is aware that it is wrong to pick flowers at the park as these are public property. In addition she is aware that there are signboards being put up prohibiting this in other public parks . However she has seen many visitors picking flowers at this particular park . She also realized that there are no signboards and there is no one to monitor the activities at the park . Will Jane continue her stand not to pick flowers due to her inner conscience? Will she not give in eventually as there is no prohibition and that everyone is doing it?
Another point to consider – I may be wrong here so please correct me . If G-d reveals His Will differently to Jew and Gentile, perhaps there may be a different set of expectations as well . The Jewish people are bound up in a covenantal relationship with G-d where there is a higher set of expectations . This is because He has revealed His Will to your people and to no other. The punishment meted out on the Jewish people are mainly due to idolatry. Although G-d demands exclusive worship , I don’t think this is required from Gentiles as much .The destruction of the 7 nations , Sodom and Gomorrah among others is because of their wickedness . In my opinion , G-d did not punish these nations because of idolatry alone. If that is the case then many nations will cease to exist . There are nations that do not acknowledge the one G-d in present time but still flourish-Japan is a good example . These nations have orderly, civilized societies with good values although they are not conscious of G-d.
Based on the above point , is it really necessary for a Gentile to abandon the faith he/she is born into? Isn’t it better and more in keeping with G-d’s Will for a Gentile to be a decent human being –not to kill , steal or having illicit relations ? I have seen people who do not have a deep consciousness of G-d (such as free thinkers, agnostics, atheists) who are exceptionally kind and go out of their way to help others-even to those who may be of a different religion or creed. I am have friends like these who are far more generous and kind than I , with my higher consciousness of G-d could ever be. Perhaps these actions are not done out of a conscious awareness of G-d and thereby their reward will be lesser than a Jew but it does count. Why the need to abandon the faith ? Why not focus instead to be a better human being ? Does worshipping G-d exclusively makes one a better human being? I guess you can tell from the acts of terrorism in the word today that this may not be true.
I agree with your interpretation of the Exodus passage .I have checked rabbinical commentaries on Exodus 20:4, such as Rashi and Chizkuni and look up the Talmud passage on this (Berakhot 7a) . I understand that G-d delays punishment to give the sinner opportunity to repent and will punish if the subsequent generations fail to repent .
I hope my explanation is clear and that it answers your question. Please correct me if I’m wrong . Thank you for your concern.
Sharon, in your comment you raise a number of questions:
1. If God intended for all people to worship Him exclusively, why did He reveal Himself only to the Jewish nation? Surely, since He did not give commandments to the other nations, they are not responsible to worship Him and Him alone.
2. If God doesn’t punish a nation for idolatry, isn’t that proof that He is okay with it?
3. If someone can be a good person without God, why do we need God anyway? (Okay, you didn’t ask this question; I just inferred it from your statement on atheists and people of other religions.)
I do not know why God did not reveal Himself to all and command their exclusive worship. And I agree that it does seem unfair. But to say that the perceived unfairness or the not knowing gives one license to worship idols does not logically follow.
Your parable with Jane in the garden is an excellent one and I would like to take it further. Suppose Jane sees no signs prohibiting picking flowers and she observes that everyone is picking flowers freely. At first, she is inclined to join in. But then she pauses for a moment because she is troubled. At all the other botanical gardens, the visitors were never allowed to pick flowers. What if that is the case here? She decides to ask one of the employees, and he tells her that under no circumstances is she permitted to pick flowers.
It is strange that the park authorities never erected signs to that effect, but what should Jane do now? If she refrains from picking flowers, her friends will laugh at her for being holier-than-thou. But an employee of that very garden told her she is not allowed to pick.
As long as non-Jews attempt to lead a righteous life and sincerely believe that they are doing nothing wrong–and in fact believe their orthodoxy is correct–then God’s judgment will be tempered with mercy. This applies to idolatrous nations as well as to individuals. But once they find out the truth, I don’t see how there is any going back.
I agree with you that there are a great many people of all faiths and no faith who are good, decent, moral human beings. In our traditional terminology, they are called “The Righteous Ones of the Nations of the World.” In the famous Holocaust museum in Israel, there is a section devoted to the Righteous Ones who risked their lives to save Jews.
There is no doubt that there are good elements in every religion. Every argument you raise on behalf of Catholicism can be marshaled on behalf of Islam and other religions–including Judaism!
If you don’t know that the beautiful, fresh blueberry muffin has a bit of rat poison, you eat it, and you might not even suffer obvious harmful side effects, because the amount is so small. But would you eat the muffin if you knew it had rat poison, no matter how little?
Thank you for your feedback , in particular for taking the parable of Jane a bit further . I think we can see from this that Jane is in a big dilemma.
Jane , on one hand is aware that it is wrong to pick flowers by virtue of :
(a) the flowers did not belong to her
(b) that she saw signs prohibiting this act in other public parks (or rather botanical gardens)
(c) An employee at the park confirmed (upon her query) that she is not permitted to pick flowers at the park.
However , the park management did not put up any signs prohibiting the act , despite what the employee had said to Jane . In addition almost all the visitors at the park are picking flowers like it’s their own garden , including Jane’s friends. I can imagine Jane sitting at a corner, with this huge internal struggle in her heart every time she visits the park (including taunts from her friends). Why can’t she pick flowers like everyone else?
Jane could have asked the employee why are there no signboards in the park which prohibits visitors from picking flowers, if indeed they are not permitted to do so . If there are no signboards then no one , herself included should be held accountable for picking flowers at the park. Jane could argue that the park management did not see any issue with visitors picking flowers , hence no signboards.
Jane can choose not to pick flowers from her convictions and the warning by the park employee .On the other hand I don’t see any issue with Jane picking those flowers because there are no signboards prohibiting it , to her or anyone else.
Likewise I am aware of Christianity and its falsehoods. I can choose to stay away because it advocates worship of a created being which is against my convictions .However I don’t see why is it wrong for me to worship a created being when I am not “commanded” against it in the first place. Where is the “poison”?
It is a huge dilemma.
Sharon, if Jane knows the park has management and employees and bothered to seek out the answer to her question by asking one of the employees who works at the park, then she can no longer in good conscience pick flowers. There is no dilemma here.
Jane could ask the employee why there are no signs. The employee might say he has no idea, but the fact remains that she got a straight answer from someone who knows the rules.
The others who don’t know better are another story.
You believe the Torah is true. The Torah says worship belongs exclusively to God. The Jewish people, the target audience of the Torah–the employees, if you will–tell you that worship of a human as God is forbidden. There is no dilemma. It’s very clear.
The only dilemma for you is the searingly painful, emotional one of leaving a beloved faith in a country that hates Jews and Judaism. That is something for which you have my greatest sympathy and no judgment.
Thank you for your continued response in this discussion . I do appreciate your thoughts and your sensitivity to my situation.
I have considered your reply . I understand from them that the testimony of the Jewish people on idolatry should regarded as the final word ( as though it is a direct command from G-d). There should be no dilemma. Please correct if I’m wrong.
Leaving one’s beloved faith has many implications. The implications are much greater if one comes from a tight knit religious community . The religious community plays an important role in one’s circle of life –birth , rites of initiation , marriage , sickness and death . I’m sure you will find this in the Jewish community as well. Hence leaving it is akin to being “cut off” from the religious community . This should not be taken lightly . Hence I need to have a strong reason for leaving my faith .
I do not mean to undermine the position of the Jewish people as G-d’s witnesses . However I don’t see why should I leave my beloved faith just because it is false and prohibited based on the testimony of a nation alone. In my opinion we should also consider the purpose, intended audience and the applicability of the Torah.
I do believe that the Torah is true . However the target audience of the Torah are the Jewish people , not to non jews such as myself. There is a strong possibility that the commands of the Torah are for the Jewish people alone as part of their covenantal relationship with G-d .As a non Jew I can learn lessons from the Torah such as the prohibition to worship a human as G-d. However these are just lessons , not commands for me to obey . Hence it is not reasonable for me to leave my faith just because of a lesson.
In addition the level of observance demanded from the Jewish people when it comes to idolatry are stricter than the non Jew . For example the Jewish people are prohibited from uttering names of other gods (Exodus 23:13) , in which a Noachide or G-d fearing non Jew are allowed to do. There are no guidelines for a non Jew to observe this prohibition in the written Torah . How can the non Jew properly observe this “command” without any guidelines? This again goes to show that the Torah is solely for the Jewish people alone.
The Torah also contains commandments that are not applicable to the non Jews such as Sabbath observance . If the Torah is true for everyone then why is it not applicable for everyone? How to know which commands are applicable for the non Jew and which is not?
Currently I am still following the “command” (or rather lesson) of the Torah not to worship Jesus . However based on the above reasons there is no need for me obey them . I am also aware on the strong philosophical arguments against idolatry .To me the arguments for idolatry is as strong as the arguments against idolatry .Hence anyone honest enough to accept these facts should see this as a real dilemma.
Sharon, what is Jesus to you?
I am surprised that you ask me this question.
With all due respect ,why must this discussion gravitate towards Jesus?
This discussion to me was never about Jesus.The intent behind my comments is to direct you and those reading this to consider the following question:
Why would a non Jew be required to abandon his/her idolatrous beliefs (and that includes partnerships such as Christianity) when
G-d did not expressly demand EXCLUSIVE worship from them in the first place?
Any truth seeking individual should consider the above question seriously ,especially when it involves letting go of cherished beliefs whatever these beliefs might be . I hope we can stick to the above and not drag Jesus in this discussion.
I am aware my views may not very popular here.Thank you for your patience and time in considering and responding to them.
Sharon, I am surprised by your answer! My impression all along is that you are seeking justification for your return to Catholicism. Isn’t Jesus the center of Catholicism? So isn’t it natural I should ask?
I cannot prove to you from the Torah that idolatry is forbidden to the nations, only from our long-standing Jewish tradition, which you do not accept. Thus, you are within your rights (though wrong to do so) to claim that the Torah is true only for Jews and that non-Jews can do whatever they feel is right according to their conscience and reason.
I cannot understand, however, how one can overhear God’s conversation with the Jewish people by reading the Torah, hear His tremendous revulsion toward idol worship, listen to Him proclaim that He is the One and Only Creator of the heavens and the earth, that He is alone, that there is none beside Him, that He does not share His glory with another and wish to worship idols nonetheless. Why would someone want to do that? If you love God, what stronger reason do you need than that He hates idolatry and has proclaimed that there is no one else?
I asked you what Jesus is to you because if I understand the specifics of your beliefs, I can offer strong reasons against them (or not, as the case may be). For example, if you don’t believe Jesus is God, then that eliminates a whole slew of arguments and saves a lot of time. If you believe he is the messiah, then I can offer strong reasons to reject that belief on rational grounds even if you believe the Torah is only for the Jewish people.
Thank you for answering my question. The reason I did not respond was because your response required some thought .In addition , I thought the conversation , if continued will somehow lead to Jesus and not to the question I posed in the above comment.
I do appreciate that you are checking in on your reply , so I will respond .I will answer your question by making clear what Jesus is not to me. I don’t see Jesus as divine nor do I see him as the messiah. Reason , conscience , Islam ,history and this blog has done a good job in debunking the claims of Jesus as being divine , a prophet or the Messiah.
I do , however have an attachment to the lifestyle and culture of my people that is heavily influenced by Catholicism and by Jesus , who is the centre of Catholicism.
Your have provided a very strong reason on why a gentile should leave idolatry despite the Torah and in particular its prohibition on idolatry as being addressed to the Jewish people.
However I can’t get over the fact that there is no written proof that the command against idolatry was addressed to all mankind . It is also difficult for me to accept that the non Jew who happens to overhear the conversation between G-d and the Jewish people (on the command against idolatry) is compelled to obey this command and that those who did not hear the conversation are not accountable . I find that unfair.
The parable of Jane and the flowers (or Jane’s dilemma) clearly illustrate the above points. I wrote of Jane having this huge struggle in her heart when she sees her friends picking flowers ,while she is not allowed to do so (thanks to her enquiry to the park employee). Jane should not be held accountable for picking flowers just like anyone else because there is no signboard prohibiting it in the first place.
Let’s look at the park employee .The park employee would have been given a staff handbook.The staff handbook is a guide addressed to the employee . This handbook would have clearly stated that picking flowers is forbidden. However the staff handbook will include many other rules-such as working hours , break times ,rest days, dos and don’ts specifically on their employment , disciplinary procedures as well as compensation and benefits. Does all this apply to Jane? Surely not , unless Jane wants to work for the park.
In addition , what criterion does the park employee use to distinguish rules that are applicable to employees and visitors from the staff handbook? The employee is supposed to demonstrate impeccable behaviour and conduct in the park because they represent the park management . Are visitors required to behave in the same manner?
The point is there are many rules ,regulations and expectations that does not apply to Jane the visitor, so why must the prohibition to pick flowers apply to her?
I am seeking justification to return not because of Christianity (Catholicism in particular) being 100% true . There are certain elements in Christianity that are true . If I can hold on to what is true , that is sufficient enough to justify my return .
In addition, like the parable above ,I don’t see the Torah ( the employee handbook) though true , as applicable to non Jews . There is no command to the non Jew against idolatry . Christianity advocates partnership ,not outright idolatry-the G-d of Israel is still being worshipped ,though not in an ideal manner.
Why should a non Jew be required to abandon his/her idolatrous beliefs (and that includes partnerships such as Christianity) when
G-d did not expressly demand EXCLUSIVE worship from them in the first place?
Sharon, let us grant for argument’s sake that the prohibition of idolatry does not apply to gentiles (I will drop that later and present a reason why this is not so). Let us say, for the moment, that the Torah is true but is applicable to Jews only with the exception of some laws that God delivered before the Jews became a nation (i.e., the prohibition of murder).
Why then should a gentile who believes that the Torah is true abandon idolatry or idolatry in partnership with God?
Let us say that the gentile loves God. When you love someone, fairness is not part of the equation. When you love someone, you don’t ask, why should I get my wife flowers on her birthday if she never explicitly asked me to get her flowers? Why is it fair that I have to get my wife flowers but my neighbor never gets his wife flowers? Those kind of questions don’t even enter the mind of someone who loves and wants to please his wife.
A gentile (and a Jew, for that matter) who loves God asks himself the only relevant question, which is NOT what do I want. The only relevant question is what does God want.
This question is a guiding light in my life whenever I have to make difficult decisions, whenever I face a dilemma. When I remember to think about not what I want but what God wants, the right choice becomes clear. And as it happens, the right choice is so often the harder choice, the path I would rather not take. But when I make the right decision, I never regret it.
You are facing a painfully difficult, soul searing moment in your life, for which I cannot help but have the greatest sympathy. When I try to put myself in your shoes, I do not know what I would do with myself if I discovered that my beloved Judaism was based on falsehood. So it’s very hard for me to say, from the safety of my comfort zone, that it seems as though you are arguing more from emotion than from reason.
Therefore, the only advice I can fairly offer to you is to pray for clarity and guidance and for the courage and strength to make the right decision and to gently remind you to ask yourself not “Is it fair?” but “Is it right?”
Now I will address your contention about the lack of explicit prohibitions to gentiles in the Torah.
Before the Torah was written down, Moses taught everything to the Jewish people. For example, every set of laws is preceded by some sort of statement such as “Moses spoke to the Children of Israel.” The Torah, once written, became the lecture notes. What I mean by that is this: let’s say you miss a lecture by a college professor and you borrow your friend’s notes. The notes don’t contain everything the professor said; they are your friend’s summary of what he said, written in such a way that she would be able to recall everything he taught. Before the exam, you would be wise to ask your friend to review her notes with you and fill you in on everything you missed.
The Torah is similar. It is obvious even from a cursory reading that not everything was written down. For example, the Torah instructs us to “tie them (the words that Moses spoke today) as a sign on your hands, and they shall be for totefot between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:8).
How on earth is someone who wants to observe this commandment supposed to do it? Which words of Moses? How to tie them? Wrap a Torah scroll around your arms? Between your fingers? What are totefot? For how long? All day? Forever? Part of the day?
There is another commandment to afflict your souls on Yom Kippur (the Torah says nothing about fasting). What does afflict your souls mean? The punishment for this is being cut off from the nation, so we are supposed to take this very seriously–but how are we supposed to observe this commandment?
There are many, many examples such as these. The instructions on how to observe these commandments have been passed down through the generations, and we know how to differentiate, in our oral tradition, from rabbinic law and Mosaic law.
Why should you trust the testimony of the Jewish people? Because God appointed us to be His witnesses and promised that His spirit and His words would never leave the Jewish people. Therefore, if God promised it, we can trust Him that He has figured out a way for us to preserve His testimony accurately.
“You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “and My servant whom I chose,” in order that you know and believe Me, and understand that I am He; before Me no god was formed and after Me none shall be” (Isaiah 43:11).
“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My spirit, which is upon you and My words that I have placed in your mouth, shall not move from your mouth or from the mouth of your seed and from the mouth of your seed’s seed,” said the Lord, “from now and to eternity” (Isaiah 59:21).
Therefore, if the Jewish testimony to gentiles is the Seven Laws of Noah, you can trust that this is from God.
I hope to soon respond to your excellent questions on “Sufficient.” I have tried to follow along with the comments made here as well, by you, Concerned Reader, David, and Dinah. I would like to put in just a couple thoughts, specifically in regard to an idea that you have floated a couple of times, that it might be acceptable for the non-Jews to worship Jesus or accept him as Messiah or a prophet.
Jesus did not come as a prophet to the non-Jews. Or as their Messiah. Indeed, he specifically claims to have come to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24.) I cannot imagine on what grounds, then, the non-Jew could claim him as their prophet or their Messiah.
Moreover, because he did come to the Jews, he is subject to the Torah’s standard of establishing a prophet and their definition of Messiah. He fails on both counts. On what grounds is then he taken up by people to whom he did not present himself as either and be accepted on terms wholly foreign to the system under which he made his claims.
Why should anyone want this second hand false prophet and failed messiah?
And if they do, on what grounds could they possibly accept him as either?
Regarding him as a divinity, an idea with which you may no longer be flirting:
One of the most tragic mistakes people can make is to worship a created object. Some are worse than others in one way or another. Worshiping Jesus is in some ways the most futile of all the acts of worship, which I hope to illustrate.
When people worship a created object, the reason is typically that they derive some benefit from it. So, for example, people worshiped the sun, because they relied upon its light and heat. They needed it for crops. We know the benefits of sunlight, and I need not enumerate them. But, of course, the sun has no will. It did not do this as an act of kindness. It only did what it was made to do by the Creator, and it was to Him that all gratitude was owed. HaShem’s beneficence established the sun for the benefit of humanity. The sun only did what it was made to do, and even then, not in obedience. It just did it, because it has no other choice. So worshiping the sun was misplaced gratitude.
And, when people sacrificed to the sun to earn its favor, this was misplaced supplication. The sun neither could nor would favor people any more or any less based upon their service or their merit. The sun is senseless and shines alike on the just and unjust.
One can imagine a religion started today, devoted to bees. Some concern has been raised about the honeybee, that it is not pollinating the way he used to do. If this continues, real problems could arise. Imagine, then, a group of people who believe that they should pray to the honeybee to ask him to favor them with his continued pollination. Imagine that they bring sacrifices to him. Imagine that they vow to do kindness to their neighbor, if only he will resume pollinating. These acts of worship and entreaty are absolutely futile. The honeybee is not withholding pollination willfully. Honeybees only act as they were meant to act. They neither reward nor punish. They wish neither well nor ill. All the prayers in the world—devoted to the honeybee—will be of no avail.
It is vain to worship the honeybee.
It is even more vain to worship Jesus.
The honeybee, at least, does provide a benefit. Certainly, it is independent of any worship devoted to it, but it does benefit humanity nevertheless. But when one worships Jesus, he gets…
I do not mean he feels nothing. I mean that Jesus cannot provide any benefit for him. People imagine that HaShem requires a sacrifice on their behalf to cover up for their sins. Yet, HaShem says differently. HaShem says that if one repents of his wrongdoing and makes restitution where he can with those he injured, that he will be forgiven and be counted as righteous. So, one is not in need of Jesus at all. At least the sun and the honeybee perform a benefit to humanity. Jesus does not even do that.
Worshiping Jesus is an incredibly futile act.
Thank you for your advice and for the parable . I am touched by your concern and your patience in explaining why Jesus should not be regarded as prophet and messiah by the non Jew. I can see from your posts and comments that you have a heart to educate on Christianity and its falsehoods. I appreciate it very much.
Please refer to my comment to Dina here https://judaismresources.net/2014/07/30/turning-on-a-dime/#comment-47179 .
It is not wrong for a non Jew to accept a false prophet like Jesus as we are not commanded like the Jew. The non Jew , in the absence of revelation can only rely on reason and conscience to evaluate claims made by a false prophet . If these are faulty then the non Jew is susceptible to mistake signs and wonders by these false prophets as from the divine and fall prey to idolatry.
The non Jew can corroborate their assessment of Jesus with the testimony of the Jewish people , who were warned and commanded on false prophets. I agree with Dina that we should take the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people very seriously.
Your parable of the honeybee is based on reason , which is consistent with what any non Jew should do in evaluating any belief . I admit that questioning existing beliefs in the light of reason is not an easy thing to do. There is a tendency to make excuses or to justify why we should remain in our false beliefs despite being aware of its falsehoods. I admit that I have done this many times . However reason and conscience always prevailed.
There is a point for you to consider. I notice there is a tendency by some ex-believers to condemn every element of their previous beliefs as falsehoods. They refuse to see any truths from their previous beliefs. I used to be that kind of person . Eventually I come to realize that there is some good in Christianity . Christianity has shaped my values. I learnt to appreciate my friends of various races and religion thanks to the education I received . I believe that Christians carry out these values not because to “appease” Jesus , but because in doing these acts to others , they are doing it unto him.
I believe the Apostles are sincere people . Unfortunately they have come to a wrong set of conclusions .
There is no benefit in being a Christian . Jesus has stated that following him comes with a price . One has to deny himself completely to follow Jesus . Only those who prescribe to some sort of “prosperity Gospel” would expect some benefit from worshipping Jesus . There are many Christians who are persecuted just because they are Christian.
Despite all this , I believe strongly that we should not worship a created being , no matter how exalted he may be or how noble the values may be. However I believe we should not deny that there is some good in Christianity which made us the people that we are today. This is the reasoning behind my comments here.
Again thank you for your looking into the questions on “Sufficient”. Please take your time.
If it is a danger that one should exaggerate the faults of Christianity, it is also a danger that one should look upon it too favorably. Certainly, many former Christians speak quite harshly about the Church. This is only natural, inasmuch as they have been deceived by the Church, sometimes for all of their lives. For some, this creates a great deal of resentment, and they may have a hard time measuring their responses to the Church. On the other hand, one should remain far away from Christianity.
It is those elements within Christianity that are true or beautiful that make it most dangerous. It is true of all successful false religions that they contain universally recognized truths and beautiful thoughts. It would be impossible for them to be successful otherwise. Few people are so depraved as to be moved to chase after the absolutely false or the absolutely disgusting. The seductive appeal of false religions is in their apparent sublimity and their propagation of truths that are universally recognized. But it is just those good elements which make the evil elements palatable.
Consider the following scenario:
I am particularly fond of blueberry muffins. Fred offers me one. He says he has used the finest flour, the richest cream, and the plumpest blueberries. Over the top is sprinkled cinnamon and sugar. The muffin certainly looks quite wonderful and my mouth waters at the smell. But I notice that he has some rat poison on the counter, and I ask why he has that out while he’s cooking. He answers that he put a little in the muffin. Will my response not be to refuse to eat the muffin? Of course, it will be. Would it be correct for Fred to angrily accuse me that I always focus on the negative?
The proper response with Christianity—and any false religion—is to push it far away from oneself. One should not indulge in this or that part, hoping to suffer no harm. This would be like me just pulling out the blueberries to eat and hoping that I do not get sick, or if I do get sick, hopefully not to death. This is a recipe for disaster.
Whatever truths Christianity espouses, it will be of the greatest benefit to turn away from it entirely. It is a danger. Truth can be found in purer sources. In HaShem, one can put his full trust. With HaShem, no calamity lurks behind smooth words. In looking back toward the false faith of Christianity one invites disaster; one must look toward HaShem instead.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts . I do agree with you that it is normal to feel angry or betrayed upon realizing one’s beliefs are false. However ,I think staying away from Christianity altogether (like how you stay away from a muffin laced with rat poison) without honestly and objectively analyzing its falsehoods is hasty and not a very wise move.
Let us go back to your parable of the blueberry muffins . I understand from your parable that the blueberry muffins represent Christianity with its message of forgiveness of sins and salvation through Jesus. The rat poison in the sweet muffin represents the falsehoods of Christianity .
My question-Is it accurate to label the falsehoods of Christianity as “rat poison”? What if some of these “falsehoods” are not falsehoods at all , but are actually certain aspects from the worldview of Judaism (its parent) which has been repackaged and given a new meaning and solution in Christianity?
Let us take one example . According to Christianity one need to believe in Jesus and his atoning sacrifice to be right with G-d (vicarious atonement) . I suggest that we take a step back and analyze what is the background behind this doctrine . What sin does this death atone for? To my understanding , the background here is the sin of Adam and Eve which affects all mankind . This belief did not originate with Christianity , but from its parent , Judaism. The Jewish people are able to partially remove that negativity but not so with the rest of mankind . Christianity repackage this belief, amplify it (the concept of “Original Sin”) and proposed a solution –Jesus .
Is it right then to see this doctrine as “rat poison” when this belief have radically changed the life of many people for the better ? Is it right to see this doctrine as “rat poison” when it has turned many hearts towards the G-d of Israel?
I would like to make an additional point for your consideration . I first learnt of the above falsehood (vicarious atonement ) from Muslim apologists in their argument for Islam. Islam sees the sin of Adam and Eve as a one off event. G-d forgave them .The sin of Adam did not affect humanity in Islam , unlike what is advocated in Judaism and Christianity. According to Islam , every human being is born with a certain knowledge of G-d and that we are all pure-not tainted by the sin of Adam. It is our parents raised us to Jewish , Christian , Hindu etc. We are born pure and we can come back to that original knowledge that is always there by tuning in to our conscience and reason.
I saw concept of vicarious atonement as a “rat poison” when I first read and watched arguments against it by Muslim apologists . The knowledge that I’m pure and that I don’t need a middleman to G-d was truly liberating. That knowledge gave me tremendous joy . I am not born “tainted” for factors beyond my control.
However I don’t see the concept of vicarious atonement as a “rat poison” when considered from the worldview of Judaism because of the belief that mankind is somehow flawed due to the sin of Adam is already there. So what if vicarious atonement is false? I am still “tainted” in some sense. Christianity actually provided the antidote for the poison that was already there.
Also , another point to consider . I do not mean to cause division here , but we have to honestly consider how this parable is relevant to the Jew and Gentile. A Jew will see the falsehoods of Christianity as “rat poison” as this fundamentally goes against their covenantal relationship with G-d . The Jew in my opinion should stay away from Christianity . However to label these falsehoods as “rat poison” to the Gentile is not so accurate , because there is already an ambivalent attitude towards the Gentile in the Jewish worldview . This is also evident from the interactions between Jesus, Peter and Paul , who were Jewish to the gentiles in the NT (Matthew 15:26-27, Acts 10:28)
In my humble opinion we need to honestly and objectively analyze the falsehoods of Christianity . We need to see the underlying beliefs behind these falsehoods and the possibility that it may be inherited from Judaism . If analyzed that way , is the falsehoods of Christianity truly a “rat poison”? If Jesus did not come to the scene would Man’s relationship with G-d improve?
Do correct me if I’m wrong or missed the mark . Thank you.
Sharon, the concept of original sin is a Christian concept. Judaism rejects the Christian teaching that all humans are born tainted by the sin of Adam and Eve. That is a poison Christianity injected into its theology. Once it invented the poison, then it invented the supposed antidote.
In this one particular case, the Jewish view of the sin of Adam and Eve is similar to the Muslim one.
Traditional Judaism holds that all humans are born innocent and are inherently good.
I have listened to the YouTube video link you’ve sent (although I’m not that good at audio concentration and only managed to get the main points). I can respond to all the arguments, of which most are reliant on the information provided by the NT, but that would take a whole lot of writing that I’m not interested in doing and you’re probably not interested in reading. So, I therefore find it more fruitful if you can pick one or a few of your favorite arguments he mentions in the video which we can discuss.
You ask, “I am just surprised at the feedback here. Why can’t the NT be accepted at its face value? Why the need to put in a sneaky agenda behind every narrative?”
The reason is simple. There are thousands of religions worldwide, of which only one can be true (because truth by definition is singular). As a result, all of the “sacred” texts are to be analyzed under heavy scrutiny in order to prevail over the remaining thousands of worldwide religions.
You mention the contradiction of how many generations G-d punishes the descendants of a sinner and if at all. I haven’t done research on this but Dina provided a good answer. In addition, many different explanations can be given. For example, it can depend on the severity of the sinner, the type of sin, and the how much the children follow in his footsteps.
You bring the story of Jacob and Esau and the Documentary Hypothesis that explains two narratives in it. The hypothesis might work but I see no reason why the story as is written could have also happened. Are there any major questions on the story-line as is told?
I appreciate your effort in watching the video
According to the video there are 4 possible theories to account for the resurrection . I suggest the following two theories:
1.Mythic Theory-all events and miracle claims by Jesus were made up at a later time and were not made up by early eyewitness (NT writers created a legend)
2.Conspiracy Theory–the disciples made up the story about Jesus rising from the dead
I see the arguments are quite similar so the two theories can be combined together. Appreciate if you can share your thoughts on the following :
1.Why would the NT writers embarrass the leaders of their Church (the Apostles & James) in the Gospels by describing them as fearful (the Apostles) , skeptical (James) and the enemy of the church (Paul)?
2.Why would the author of Matthew include the narrative that the Apostles stole the body (Matthew 27:62-66) and create suspicion among his readers if they actually stole the body ?
3.The message of the Gospel is disgusting and horrendous to both Jew and Gentile . According to NT Wright , Christianity “ was born into a world where its central claim was known to be false”. Why would anyone want to make up a message about a messiah who died on the cross and rose three days later?
4.Cult leaders would normally bring their followers into a secluded spot or away from public areas so that their activities will not made public and thereby put under scrutiny. The apostles instead proclaimed that Jesus rose from the dead in Jerusalem , 2 months after the crucifixion . Would liars take this measure when the evidence may not be in their favor (such as the authorities producing the body )?
5.Why didn’t the authorities just produce a body (not necessarily of Jesus) to refute the Apostles’ claims that Jesus rose from the dead? This would have stopped many riots from taking place at the time due to “Chrestus”
I am curious about the story of Jacob and Esau because there are actually two complete independent stories (Genesis 26:34,46; 28:1-9 and Genesis 27:1-45) . I’m not sure which one is true , or whether both is true , or if both can be false.
Breaking the stories could have produced a very different impression of characters in the story as well as a different lesson altogether than when combined together.
If combined , the stories paint the Isaac’s family as dysfunctional-husband and wife keeping secrets and not communicating with each other . The lesson learnt is that deception is necessary to achieve the Divine Will (establish Jacob as the founder of Israel) . It also paints Esau as being more vengeful towards Jacob .
If the deception narrative (Genesis 27:1-45) was removed from the story , the relationship between both brothers will be a more harmonious one. In my opinion it is better for Jacob to be seen as founder of a nation due to him complying with his parents’ wishes (marrying in the family) rather than stealing a blessing meant for Esau.
“1.Why would the NT writers embarrass the leaders of their Church (the Apostles & James) in the Gospels by describing them as fearful (the Apostles) , skeptical (James) and the enemy of the church (Paul)”
the problem with argument of embarrassment is that the writers probably knew of even more embarrassing/damaging details , for example, peter is attacked by the author of mark , in the end ,he becomes apostate and when safe repents, mark does not tell us that if there was an even greater embarrassing detail like peter become apostate and trying to refute pauls dying and rising jesus. we read that not all leaders were skeptical or enemy of the church.
please explain how any of this is evidence of resurrection. how is mind change evidence? where did james have his experience? what did he see? was he ALONE?
“2.Why would the author of Matthew include the narrative that the Apostles stole the body”
he knows that in his community there is talk of body being stolen and his source is silent on guards and claim of stolen body, so he creates fabrication that the WOMEN saw the angel role away the stone and he never has the disciples visit the tomb. after reading the link at reddit, how can anyone trust the apologist saint matthew?
Sharon, I know you wanted to end the discussion on the credibility of the Christian scriptures. I am responding therefore for the sake of others who are following this conversation, and if you find benefit from this as well, then my endeavor will be truly worthwhile.
One reason to doubt the credibility of Christian scripture is that it was written during a period of time that history was recorded by a great many writers. Unlike the Hebrew Bible, when large works of such a nature during that time period simply do not exist, chroniclers of different nationalities and religions were recording history during the time of Christianity’s birth.
Christian scripture describes Jesus as incredibly popular, drawing thousands of people wherever he preached, and performing public miracles in front of huge crowds.
Incredibly, every single extra-biblical historical work of that time period seems barely to have registered his existence, and the rare instances where his name is mentioned are disputed by some scholars who believe they are later Christian interpolations.
Jewish chroniclers have never been shy about reporting on the most embarrassing episodes in Jewish history. For example, there are loads of internal writings on Shabbetai Zvi, the false messianic claimant of the seventeenth century who garnered the support of thousands of Jews who were ultimately humiliated by his capture and conversion to Islam. The testimony of gentile observers corroborates this account.
Thus, one would expect the redactors of the Talmud to have remembered at least some of the stories in Christian scripture. Yet Jesus and Christians get barely a mention. They remembered the Romans, they remembered the other Jewish sects from that time period which they considered heretical, but the sect of Jewish followers of Jesus gets no mention. The likelihood that the memory of Jesus and his sect was deliberately expunged is zero. So one has to wonder if Jesus was as well known as the gospels make him out to be.
Of course he was not. He did not become famous until Christianity gained power and was forcibly imposed on a whole continent of peoples several hundred years later. During his own lifetime and for a good while thereafter, history tells us he was virtually unknown.
There are many other reasons to doubt the credibility of Christian scripture. Jim has pointed out in these pages (not to you, I think, but to others) the many misrepresentations, misquotes, and outright fabricated quotes from Tanach that Christian scripture appeals to in order to strengthen its own authority. Because that is a huge topic, I will leave it at that.
But the worst is the vilification of the Jewish people. They are blamed for the murder of all people from Abel thousands of years before the Jewish people were formed. This is so ridiculous I don’t even know what to say.
The whole story of the trial of Jesus and the handing him over to Roman authorities is impossible to have happened for many reasons, but most of all because the Sanhedrin did not operate the way the gospels describe. On the one hand, the gospels would like you to believe that the Pharisees were sticklers to the law to a fault, and on the other hand they would like you to believe that they broke every procedure in the book to condemn Jesus.
Matthew jeers at the Pharisees for blowing the trumpet to call people to alms on Friday, but that never happened. The trumpet was blown on Fridays to alert the people to the arrival of the Sabbath, a custom that is still kept in many Jewish communities using a siren. Apparently he got his customs mixed up.
Finally, how can there be ultimate truth in a book that led so many people astray into blind hatred and murder for so many centuries–not just of Jews and other non-Christians, but also of their own co-religionists?
“According to the video there are 4 possible theories to account for the resurrection . I suggest the following two theories:
1.Mythic Theory-all events and miracle claims by Jesus were made up at a later time and were not made up by early eyewitness (NT writers created a legend)
2.Conspiracy Theory–the disciples made up the story about Jesus rising from the dead”
I would like to add another similar and likely scenario: the story, which either did or didn’t happen even on a small scale, may have developed overtime with the NT writers faithfully selecting and writing from the legends of their time.
“1.Why would the NT writers embarrass the leaders of their Church (the Apostles & James) in the Gospels by describing them as fearful (the Apostles) , skeptical (James) and the enemy of the church (Paul)?”
It isn’t embarrassing at all. It actually enhances the message being presented. For example, a missionary or salesman will frequently tell people something like “I was once also skeptical about it, until…” It creates a relationship withe the reader and it brings out how strong the message is that even the skeptical James and Paul eventually were compelled to concede to the truths of Christianity.
“2.Why would the author of Matthew include the narrative that the Apostles stole the body (Matthew 27:62-66) and create suspicion among his readers if they actually stole the body?”
Because it is either way an obvious possibility. It was actually wise that it was addressed and then sort of debunked with the narrative of the soldiers.
“3.The message of the Gospel is disgusting and horrendous to both Jew and Gentile. According to NT Wright , Christianity “ was born into a world where its central claim was known to be false”. Why would anyone want to make up a message about a messiah who died on the cross and rose three days later?”
Apparently history says otherwise. People were very attracted to the religion and its tenants. As for why someone would create a message about a messiah who died at the cross and was later resurrected: the dying messiah is seen as a servant who took the blame of mankind and suffered in order to forgive our sins. That is incredibly inspiring. The idea of the Resurrection is fundamental, as you pointed out earlier, that no one wants to serve a dead rabbi.
“4.Cult leaders would normally bring their followers into a secluded spot or away from public areas so that their activities will not made public and thereby put under scrutiny. The apostles instead proclaimed that Jesus rose from the dead in Jerusalem , 2 months after the crucifixion . Would liars take this measure when the evidence may not be in their favor (such as the authorities producing the body )?”
They may have believed they were doing the right thing and were ready to fight the public for it. Alternatively, the entire narrative of the apostles never happened or wasn’t as described in the NT. The NT writers were either innocently writing down the legends of their time or they fabricated the story entirely or a combination of both. [It can be argued that we see an evolution in the story as told by the four gospels with each consecutive writer writing the story with more and more drama, until we reach the 500 witnesses claimed in Matthew.]
“5.Why didn’t the authorities just produce a body (not necessarily of Jesus) to refute the Apostles’ claims that Jesus rose from the dead? This would have stopped many riots from taking place at the time due to “Chrestus””
If we accept the possibility that the NT writers weren’t writing accurate history, then this is obviously no question. Furthermore, in your parenthesis you suggest that the authorities could have shown a different body. but that is proving a different point. The authorities clearly didn’t believe the resurrection claim and EITHER WAY hadn’t produced another body. As for why they didn’t produce the actual body of Jesus, if the story is accurate, perhaps the body was stolen by a follower of Jesus.
“I am curious about the story of Jacob and Esau because there are actually two complete independent stories (Genesis 26:34,46; 28:1-9 and Genesis 27:1-45). I’m not sure which one is true , or whether both is true , or if both can be false.
Breaking the stories could have produced a very different impression of characters in the story as well as a different lesson altogether than when combined together.
If combined, the stories paint the Isaac’s family as dysfunctional-husband and wife keeping secrets and not communicating with each other. The lesson learnt is that deception is necessary to achieve the Divine Will (establish Jacob as the founder of Israel). It also paints Esau as being more vengeful towards Jacob.
If the deception narrative (Genesis 27:1-45) was removed from the story, the relationship between both brothers will be a more harmonious one. In my opinion it is better for Jacob to be seen as founder of a nation due to him complying with his parents’ wishes (marrying in the family) rather than stealing a blessing meant for Esau.”
Are you saying that it seems that the stories are to be combined because they work in harmony and produce a better narrative? Maybe you should view it from your “criterion of embarrassment” lenses you were using earlier for the NT which would in fact support the stories as are written – separate.
Looking forward to hear from you,
Thank you for replying to the 5 questions.
I had actually taken the time to study the video and come out with these questions. These questions are different from the other arguments that I have raised in previous comments.
It seems from your replies that you see the facts surrounding the resurrection as a giant conspiracy theory. You do have a point for questions (1) & (2) . However I strongly disagree on your replies to questions (3) to (5) . Anyway I think it’s pointless to continue discussion on this matter any further.
I have also done some reading on the Jewish revolts during the 1st century. I actually came across a very good article from a Christian-based website describing these events here https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/the-jewish-revolts . The description of Roman atrocities in Jerusalem and other cities –the infighting, killing , the whole works strongly matches with the prophecies in Deuteronomy 28. It was a sad time in Jewish history , reading it made me sad too. I will read up more on this when I have the time.
I would like suggest that we end the discussion on the credibility of the resurrection, NT and the Torah at this point . I need to think about these matters and discussing them here may not be appropriate. Thank you for the discussion and for sharing your thoughts on the resurrection . I appreciate the points you raised .I am considering them seriously.
You are a brilliant person . Do continue in the path of knowledge and you will go places.
Thank you Sharon for giving me the opportunity to have an incredibly intellectual and honest conversation. You are truly a genuine person seeking the truth.
Good luck on your research and best wishes,
Dovid, I hope you will forgive me for calling you out on something. I enjoy your comments immensely. But a while back–I don’t have time to check where, but if you need me to find it I can hunt it down next week–you were quite rude to Con.
You insisted Con read a linked article and told him that no one is interested in hearing what he has to say until he reads it (or something to that effect). I don’t remember what else you said, but I do remember that it was unkind. Worse, it was presumptuous. You are not the moderator of this blog, and thus you have no right to tell people to leave or to tell them what they may or may not do.
I guess I was bothered by this because Con is one of the menschiest (if I can coin a word) mensches I have ever met. He is always unfailing polite and respectful and empathetic. Even more, he is courageous. Con was raised a Christian, but he bravely faced the tough questions and left Christianity. For me who was raised in Judaism and can comfortably stay with my faith, this is one of the most admirable actions a person can take.
Con has degrees in history and comparative religion. His breadth of knowledge is huge, and I have learned a lot from him. Although sometimes we disagree–and even get into heated debates sometimes–I have nothing but respect for him.
I would rather have told you this privately, but that is not an option here. So please accept my apologies for the public manner of this rebuke, and please accept my words in the spirit in which I offer them, which is to make peace.
Looking forward to more great posts from you!
I appreciate knowing what others think about my posts. Now that you mention it, I realized that I indeed shouldn’t have written it. I was writing it while deeply immersed in the subject without considering his feelings.
I too have great respect for Con and appriciate his vast knowledge. I’m sorry Con
“However , the park management did not put up any signs prohibiting the act , despite what the employee had said to Jane . In addition almost all the visitors at the park are picking flowers like it’s their own garden , including Jane’s friends. I can imagine Jane sitting at a corner, with this huge internal struggle in her heart every time she visits the park (including taunts from her friends). Why can’t she pick flowers like everyone else?
Jane could have asked the employee why are there no signboards in the park which prohibits visitors from picking flowers, if indeed they are not permitted to do so . If there are no signboards”
Sharon, I would like to add to this analogy, that sometimes the representative of the highest level of management is sometimes directly watching people pick flowers, tacitly encouraging it, and recieves no disciplining from his superior even if the superior is aware of it.
In fact, there was enough ambiguity due to the lack of “signs” and tacit approval, that the average stewards at the garden had to put up their own thin wires around the flowers without being told by the manager.
To put this in terms of the Torah. The angel of the lord, the captain of the lord’s host, is often the subject of righteous people hitting the deck in submission, or in fear, he gives warnings that he represents the holy one, etc. (At the burning bush, is it an agent angel speaking? Is it God? Is it Both? ITS HARD TO TELL EVEN THOUGH TORAH SAYS DONT WORSHIP THE HOST.
True, it says he WILL NOT firgive your transgressions later in the text.
This doesn’t however stop the righteous people from asking god that this agent should redeem them, or to bless their children.
In fact, at one time a righreous man even has a relative fan girl moment about this agent, and is not repremanded by God in spite of clear warnings from Deuteronomy 4.
So, I agree with you that there seems to be somewhat of a dichotomy in how Torah handles this issue.
A point to ponder.
This is only confusing to Christians. Jews have never found these passages confusing or ambiguous; nor did these passages ever make them question their worship.
Why do you think that is?
I actually think that the way the rabbis polemically handled the figure of Metatron, the way Philo spoke about the Logos, and the way that the gnostics (both Jewish and Christian varieties of gnostics) handled doctrines about emanations/Aeons/powers shows that real people did indeed contend with ambiguities in these passages, and found what was there problematic to the plain meaning, and thus in need of harmonization/interpretation.
The fact that the rabbis say Metatron (a later analogue of the angel of the lord ) was a heavenly scribe who recieved lashes for doing what only hashem should do, “being seated in heaven,” shows that they had to write polemic against Jews who held different and problematic readings than they did.
It seems blatantly obvious based on all the available data Dina that this was indeed an issue, not just for the sages, but for the Church as well.
Think about how easily you (and rabbis) say that Metatron, ie the Malach Hashem is just a mouthpiece. Do you not realize that you are harmonizing the text?
The whole reason the Minim (who may just be Jewish gnostics) have ground for argument with the rabbis at all, is because the rabbinic harmonization doesn’t actually solve the fundamental issue.
Torah says plainly, “dont bow down to, or worship the host.”
That angel whether you call it a created mouthpiece/agent or an uncreated manifestation of god’s wisdom, it clearly still has people bowng to it, making requests, asking God to send it for blessing/redemptiion, etc.
That is an issue. Its such an issue that Jewish Sages and Churchmen spent time harmonizing/resolving.
IE whoever reads these texts whichever way, clearly had issues with it, because they spent great effort harmonizing/explaining in different ways what Torah meant.
What I’m sayig Dina is that when you say “we dont have an issue with it,” that is because your rabbis developed a harmonization of difficult passages.
So did the Christians.
IE your easy answer is actually a well crafted response that took time, to something clearly textually problematic otherwise.
Also, Con, bowing down to others beside God is not forbidden. You know this, so I’m surprised you raised that as proof of worship that belongs only to God.
If you didnt have your harmony or well developed concept of whats “really” going on in those texts, and you just read the words on the page, this figure that is a member of the host has interactions that clearly go against Deuteronomy 4 UNLESS AND WITHOUT someone there to try and “tell you” what it “Really means,” as opposed to what it says and
The passage is easy after you have been told what it means. Just reading it, would (and did) lead to diverse explanations.
Metatron is not mentioned in Tanach. I never learned about him, and I grew up Orthodox with rigorous religious instruction. This means that you are picking on esoteric writings that are not mainstream. (You cannot use proof from Kabbalah about anything, because it is highly esoteric and highly misunderstood.)
We argued about Philo before. Bringing Philo into the conversation is like bringing a Reform rabbi into the conversation. He was a Hellenized Jew who did not even speak Hebrew and got his ideas from Greek philosophy (which he then tried to harmonize with the Torah).
The reason these passages are not hard for us is that we read the Torah through the lens of Deuteronomy 4. The reason these passages are hard for Christians or former Christians is that it’s hard for them to shake the idea of shared divinity, and that is the lens through which they read Tanach.
In other comments, I heard you argue that the captain of the host is not to be worshiped, based on Deuteronomy’s explicit prohibition not to worship the whole host of heaven. I heard you present this argument to Christians who used it as proof that it’s okay to worship Jesus. So I’m wondering if you’ve changed your mind on this?
Do you think Jane should continue picking flowers? Do you think Sharon should continue worshiping Jesus?
That is actually not true. I read those passages, and the questions were never even raised, as a student in school and thereafter–because we automatically understood them in light of the Torah’s attitude to idol worship.
The first time I heard these questions asked was by Christians when I joined this blog.
Sharon S, I hope you dont mind if I put a thought forth in response to Dina asking you about Jesus, or who he was to you.
You are technically 100% correct in stating that the target audience of the Torah is the Jewish people, (and by extension, only technically gentiles who wish to
convert. That is the plain meaning of the text.
Deuteronomy even has God stating “do not worship the sun, moon, and stars, for they have been apportioned to the nations.” IE, “I let them, but not you.”
The Noachide commandments are likewise also extrabiblical in the sense that it was ancient sages who sussed out practices in order to aid non Jews in their transition to Judaism from polytheism.
An interesting aside is that Christian manuals of discipline like the Didache and Didascalia, Tertullian’s treatise “on Idolatry” and the advice found in Acts 15 likewise draws on these extrabiblical norms.
In many respects, your question is 100% fair. Can’t people of good faith disagree and coexist? Sure they can.
The problem though is, (and the reason Dina asks you about Jesus) is because of the blog’s raisond’etre.
This blog is chiefly concerned with combating the concerted and costly industry of missionary efforts to convert Jewish people into Christianity.
It is sad that people cant live and let live.
The probkem is that Christianity claims that it is the New Covenant of Jeremiah, that the old will pass away, and that every knee will bow to Jesus to the father’s glory, or face a lake of fire in Gehenna FOREVER, otherwise knows as hell, Satan’s Barbecue, or the non believer’s no good really bad day.
In a lot of ways, the Synagogue has a white flag that reads “leave us the hell alone to follow commandments and believe what you wanna”
But the Church comes with a NEED, AN OCD LEVEL NEED, to be correct. That is where the issue is.
The Jewish people do not have this need.
In fact, it is rather dispassionately, and patiently, that they are literally just waiting for their book’s promises of redemption given to them in detail to come to pass.
Let’s say the ressurection of Jesus was proved 100% unambiguously factual.
Let us say that Peter, James, Paul, etc. could all be proven 100% right.
Let us say they went to their deaths knowing for absolute certain that they were gonna wake up after their sufferings, and have breakfast with Christ Jesus.
Where would we suppose they want to eat breakfast at the dawn of the millinial reign?
Acts 1:6 When they therefore had come together, they asked of Him, saying, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”
(One might guess Israel is where the disciples want to chill with Jesus.)
Think about that. Think hard about that.
What a question to ask the 1st person EVER to litetally reverse the effects of Adam’s sin! Like really?
He’s the 1st glorified ressutected son of the living eternal master of ALL THINGS and…………. this…….is……their question?
As a non Jewish former Christian (who respects your choice to remain Catholic if you want to) my reaction to the disciples question to a ressurected Jesus is WHAT? Huh? How or why would you ask this of all things if you saw that?
To their reaction to Jesus’ appearance I could only think. (for myself) that Jesus would have responded to their queries with “WOW….OK……
But he doesn’t he SAYS “I DUNNO! FATHER KNOWS!
To a gentile, this still sounds freaking weird right?
But guess what? Its a perfectly reasonable question for any Torah literate Jews to ask the Messiah.
Its literally like “hey Jesus…..cool magic trick cousin/bro/rabbi but whence singeth the proverbial fat lady? Is it soup? Is it time?
Being perplexed over this one little verse in Acts is like a guide to understanding the whole bloody history of Jewish Christian relations.
Gentiles: HE IS LITERALLY THE 1ST FRUIT OF THE WORLD TO COME! ARE YOU NOT IMPRESSED?
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
GENTILES: HE DID AWESOME MIRACLES AND TAUGHT GREAT THINGS!
JEWS: The recipe IN THE BOOK WE ALL AGREE ON is not done yet, and his diciples even ASKED HIM ALREADY when it would BE DONE, and he said I DUNNO….SO……WE….WILL…WAIT.
Sharon, have you read up on the antichrist tradition in Christianity? The tradition where a Jesus wannabe shows up and sits in the temple claiming he is God, desiring worship and fooling many?
Do you know who this Christian text says ARE NOT IMPRESSED BY THIS CLAIM?
Those who keep the commandments, and the FAITH OF….notice it does not say in….Jesus.
The book, its hopes, and its instructions, IE Torah is literally the Raisond’etre of the messiah.
Jews would love to let you be. They are just waiting. It is the Church who is insisting even though they too should be waiting.
Hi Concerned Reader,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts . I appreciate it very much.
I fully agree with you that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves and refrain from imposing them to other people .
However every human being has the responsibility to exercise the gifts of intellect,reason and conscience G-d has given us to pursue the truth. It is whether we choose to exercise or ignore the pull of truth that makes the difference.
I am aware that this blog is established to counter missionary propaganda and it has done that job very well.
In Jewish -Christian polemics , the battle is between the Jewish counter missionary and the Christian missionary -both aiming for the hearts and souls of the Jewish people.
However there is one category that I think is being ignored-that is of the sincere truth seeker. The truth seeker is the most vulnerable to the arguments between the two sides .I consider myself as being under that category.
The truth seeker should always strive to seek knowledge and to exercise reason and conscience in assessing claims between the two parties. The truth seeker should also have an independent mindset and be willing to question all claims including cherished beliefs.
Without these qualities , the truth seeker is susceptible to make hasty life changing decisions in which they may regret later on . Like I did.
Another point to consider -I have mentioned before that “one truth does not fit all” when it comes to Judaism. A good example is idolatry-it may be prohibited to the Jew but not so to the Gentile . The counter missionary tend to highlight the sin of idolatry as a violation of the covenantal relationship in which the message is primarily intended for the Jew . However the truth seeker reading the same message may think that the message is intended for them without noticing the fine print.
That is why it is important for the truth seeker to know the “raisond’etre” behind the establishment of the blog .This is reflected in the blog’s tag line and its “about” page. Unfortunately the tag line and purpose of this blog does not reflect its “raisond’etre” .This may confuse the truth seeker.
I am sharing this from experience . I hope that counter missionaries such as Rabbi Tovia Singer will be mindful that the Torah is intended for the Jew and make that distinction clear when refuting Christianity (from the perspective of the Torah) to a mixed or predominantly non Jewish audience. Don’t mislead the sincere non Jew. If these counter missionaries sincerely believe that idolatry is wrong for the non Jew then lay all the facts ( like what I have highlighted to Dina ) on the table. I have emailed to Rabbi Tovia Singer on this but there was no reply. Hope that someone can relay that message to him.
I hope that those reading in , especially the truth seekers out there will find this helpful .
Sharon, I agree with everything you said about truth seeking. Well said!
This blog has made it crystal clear that non-Jews are forbidden to worship idols. I don’t see the confusion; I do see all the cards laid out on the table at least in that regard. I can’t speak for Rabbi Singer because I do not follow his writings.
That was very good😆
Wow, Con, that is such a good point about the disciples’ question to Jesus. Fascinating.
Metatron is not mentioned in Tanach. I never learned about him, and I grew up Orthodox with rigorous religious instruction. This means that you are picking on esoteric writings that are not mainstream.
I am not picking on the esoteric, just pointing
out that it exists, not jusr in rabbinic texts, but many texts from the relevant time period.
It is problematic that there was an agent angel who appears to be doing God only activitues. Maybe its not a problem now, maybe we never learned it, but it was an issue back when. Why else have ink dedicated to defining the role, place, etc.?
You may not have heard it, ok, fine. There was plenty of things about my faith that I didn’t learn until I went to a secular university where a Church was not being my lens.
I can’t argue specifically about Metatron because this stuff is simply not taught, so I don’t have enough background to argue about this intelligently. This is just not mainstream, Con, and hasn’t been since, what? 2000 years ago? When I doubt it was mainstream even then.
My point, though, is that passages that are confusing to Christians are so not even on the radar of questionable to Orthodox Jews that I never even heard of these questions until I started following this blog and heard them from Christians. And I answered them, without even reading “the rabbis” “well crafted” “harmonizing” of the text with monotheism, because to Orthodox Jews it’s pretty clear. There isn’t any ambiguity. And that is because we read the Tanach through the prism of our shared, collective, national, lived experience, which does not include worship of angels and humans.
For people whose shared, collective, lived experience includes worship of Jesus, these passages are confusing because they are reading through a different lens.
I raised a point to ponder to you a very, very long time ago: if these passages are so problematic, why have they never led Jews into angel/human worship? I mean, think about it! Even Jesus’s first Jewish followers didn’t believe he was God. It was only the later gentile converts to Christianity who deified Jesus.
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