Channuka – Excerpt from Contra Brown

  1. 1.    Haggai 2:6 – 9.
  2. “For thus says the Lord of hosts: There will be one more; it is a small one. I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. I will shake the nations and the precious things of all the nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. Mine is the silver and mine is the gold – the word of the Lord of hosts. Great shall be the glory of this house – the latter more so than the former, said the Lord of hosts, and I will grant peace in this place – the word of the Lord of hosts.”

The prophet is encouraging those who returned from the Babylonian exile. They were disappointed with the modest nature of the SecondTemple (2:3, 4, Zechariah 4:10), and this was God’s message of reassurance. God encouraged the people by telling them that this Temple will be filled with glory (vs. 7), a glory that will surpass that of the FirstTemple (vs. 9). This prophecy did not come to pass in its most literal sense. Brown admits as much[xxiii]. Still, Brown contends that in a certain sense the glory of the SecondTemple actually did exceed that of the First and that is because Jesus – who Brown believes is God Himself, visited the SecondTemple but did not visit the FirstTemple.

One problem with this interpretation is the simple fact that God did visit the FirstTemple in an open and obvious way (1Kings 8:11, 2Chronicles 7:1 – 3). All who witnessed that visitation – and the entire nation was present – recognized that the God of Israel had come to dwell in His house. When the people saw Jesus walking in the Temple courtyard (he couldn’t enter the sanctuary itself for he was not a priest), they just saw a man. So which visitation was greater? Or does Brown believe that Jesus is God while God is not God?

The second problem with Brown’s interpretation is that Jesus never came to glorify the Temple. According to Christian theology he actually came to replace the Temple. According to Brown Jesus came to replace both the atonement that was provided through the Temple offerings and the connection to God that the Temple represented[xxiv]. How could the career of Jesus, a man who claimed the glory of the Temple for himself, be considered a glorification of the same Temple?

So what did Haggai mean with this prophecy? The fact that the prophecy was not fulfilled in the most literal sense, lends weight to the explanation[xxv] that this prophecy was conditional on the nation’s full repentance – as was the prophecy of Zechariah (6:15 – see below). When the nation ultimately turns back to God[xxvi], then the glory of the Temple will indeed surpass the glory of the First Temple[xxvii].

If we will insist on a fulfillment of this prophecy during the time of the SecondTemple, we ought to allow the scriptures to tell us how the glory of God was manifest in the Second Temple[xxviii].

The scriptures teach that the purpose of the sanctuary was so that God could dwell in the midst of Israel (Exodus 25:8, 29:45, Ezekiel 37:27), and so that He could meet with Israel there (Exodus 23:17, 29:43, Deuteronomy 16:16). The primary purpose of the Temple was the connection it created between God and His beloved nation.

The Godly spirit which guided the nation during the SecondTemple era was not as dramatic or as openly manifest as was the prophetic spirit that was manifest in the FirstTemple period. But the connection that it created between God and His people ran deeper and was more fully absorbed by the nation. In the context of this same prophecy, Haggai assured the people that God’s own spirit had come to dwell in their midst (Haggai 2:5)[xxix]. Under the influence of this spirit the leaders of the Jewish people were able to seal the canon of scripture. It was through this spirit that God influenced our leaders to establish a network of rabbinical institutions which preserved the nation’s loyalty to God throughout the darkness of the exile. The divine inspiration bestowed through this spirit enabled our leaders to formulate the Mishnah and Talmud, the books that would unite all of Israel throughout the realms of time and space in their ongoing discussion of God’s Law.

In the historical context of the SecondTemple, the spirit that dwelt amongst our people encouraged the brave resistance to the Greek persecution. The people were inspired to take on the might of the Syrian-Greek Empire in order to maintain their loyalty to God and His holy Law. The victory that was achieved against overwhelming odds and the miracle of the Menorah associated with that victory, still testifies to the world that God was with the Jewish people (Zechariah 9:13 – 16).

The glory that was manifest in the SecondTemple was not more spectacular than the glory that was manifest in the FirstTemple. But it went further in achieving its purpose, and in that sense it was greater than the glory manifested in the FirstTemple. That still and silent spirit that came to dwell in the Second temple is still manifest amongst us, and will remain with us forever – just as God has promised (Isaiah 59:21, Haggai 2:5, Zechariah 4:6).

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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155 Responses to Channuka – Excerpt from Contra Brown

  1. Dina says:

    You wrote: “Or does Brown believe that Jesus is God while God is not God?”

    In a psychological sense, I think the answer is yes. Christians seem to pay lip service to the idea of God, whom they call God the Father as opposed to Jesus, whom they call god the son. Yet they reserve all their adoration and praise for Jesus. Listen to any Christian talk about his faith, and it will be all about Jesus.

    They can talk all they want about the co-equal status of the three members of the trinity, but in their scripture Jesus is clearly subservient while in practice he is clearly the most important.

    Happy Chanukah to all!

    • LarryB says:

      The catechism of the catholic church says: 291 “In the beginning was the Word (Jsus). . . and the Word (Jsus) was God. . . all things were made through him (Jsus), and without him (Jsus) was not anything made that was made.”129 The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word (Jsus), his beloved Son. In him (Jsus) “all things were created, in heaven and on earth.. . all things were created through him (Jsus) and for him (Jsus). He (Jsus) is before all things, and in him (Jsus) all things hold together. I think it’s fairly clear what christians believe.

      • LarryB says:

        I agree, Jsus is the most important to christians. I wonder, If Jsus is the son was he just doing his fathers will when he created everything? Where and what was the father doing when Jsus was so busy?

      • LarryB says:

        Sincere Jsus is the “word” when god spoke at Sinai, that was really Jsus. Surprise!

        • Dina says:

          LOL, Larry, and that’s exactly the point we’ve been making about Deuteronomy 4–that Jesus wasn’t present at Sinai; therefore it’s a grave sin, the sin of idolatry, to worship him.

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            With Christians its about man, not god. Their desire to be immortal. Again I give you the catechism of the Catholic Church. 460. “80 “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”81.
            Mormons believe they get their own planet from what I have heard.

          • Dina says:

            Yes, Larry, it’s pretty clear. “Might make men gods.” It’s even worse than I thought!

            What the Mormons believe is, to me, not any more or less ridiculous than what Catholics and other Christian denominations believe.

  2. Concerned Reader says:

    I don’t mean to be rude, but this is a very superficial understanding, it is very judgmental of you both to just read that out of catechism and say, “Ha, they just want to be G-d.” Look into it more. Being “gods,” or partakers in Christ’s nature is Christianity’s way of teaching that the pious will have the adoption of sons of G-d, while Christ has it by nature. The Christian “deification” is a euphemism for resurrection. Whose is this promise? “the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.”

    http://learntanya.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/chapter-2-the-g-dly-soul-part-1/

    • Dina says:

      Con, your picking on one small detail here tells me you agree with the rest of the arguments on this page. Is that right?

      P.S. You dropped out of all the previous conversations. What does that signify?

    • rambo2016 says:

      if a god can reduce his powers and ADD to his nature, why can’t he add you to his nature?

    • rambo2016 says:

      if jesus’ flesh and blood was created AND added to gods nature, why can’t god add you to his nature? jesus’ blood was CREATED. jesus’ body was CREATED. jesus also had DOUBLE mind, which according to christians CONNECTED and disconnected . one time he asks his dad to take the cup away from him i.e to save him from the cross, but in john he thinks he has the power to lay down his own life. this is clearly a connection and disconnecting confused double minded god.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Rambo 2016 Can Hashem raise the dead? Did G-d’s nature change when he breathed into Adam the breath of life and gave him access to the tree of life? I’m not dictating what G-d can, can’t, will, or won’t do. I look at the totality of what I see G-d has done in scripture, and I don’t see it as contrary to what Christianity teaches.

        • rambo2016 says:

          C R, did god incarnate and become amos , aron and enoch?
          these guys had powers beyond any angel and human.

          :::::::::::::
          24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God (ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ)!”

          Who or what is “the holy one of God”? It’s not a title of a king. Nor of a prophet, although in 2 Kgs 49 and Judg 16.7 we read of Elisha and Samson respectively being called “a holy one”. Crispin Fletcher-Louis:

          God is Israel’s Holy One. And angels are often called holy ones. But the only precedent for a singular ‘the Holy One of God’ is Aaron (Ps. 106.16; Num. 16.7 ‘the holy one (of the LORD’), who dramatically wins the right to the title in the battle with Korah and his rebellious company in Numbers 16. (p. 63)

          You shall make a rosette of pure gold and you shall engrave on it the engravings of a seal ‘holy to Yahweh’ (or, ‘and you shall engrave on it the engravings of a holy seal…), “You shall put it on a blue cord that it may be on the turban, on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead and Aaron shall bear/remove/forgive … the guilt of the holy things that the sons of Israel sanctify for all their holy donations; it shall always be on his forehead,… (Exodus 28:36-38, Fletcher-Louis)

          Then again in Leviticus 10:17

          Why did you not eat the sin offering in the sacred area? For it is most holy, and God has given it to you in order that you may remove/forgive … the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement on their behalf before the LORD

          Fletcher-Louis:

          Such passages convey the idea of the high priest having the power to remove guilt, to forgive sins. We know that some Jews took these passages to mean that the high priest’s job was to take away—to forgive—sin because in 2 Enoch 64 his contemporaries come to Enoch at the site of Israel’s future temple, they fall in reverential prostration before him, kiss him and say:

          2 Enoch 64.5 You will be glorified in front of the face of the LORD of all eternity, because you are the one whom the LORD chose in preference to all the people upon the earth; and he appointed you…to be the one who carried away the sin of mankind (J recension; A recension has ‘who carries away our sins’) and the helper of your own household.

          Enoch has already been installed as high priest in chapter 22 (vv. 8-10) and here he does what Exod. 28.38 and Lev. 10.17 say he should do: he takes away the sin of the people.(p. 73)

        • Dina says:

          If that is truly the case, Con, then you have learned nothing from your interactions with the Jews and non-Christians on this blog. Nothing of significance anyways.

          Jews hold that the totality of Scripture repudiates Christianity. So that is about the most insulting thing you can say to a Jewish person.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Dina, I am not trying to be disrespectful to you, or to anyone else. This is an opinion I’m expressing based on the evidence available. I support your commitment. That said, Your traditional perspective says G-d will not take any form. That appears incorrect according to the plain sense of the scripture. Jewish Sources independent of Christianity speak of G-d, the logos, etc. you don’t accept these sources as valid because they are against your traditional perspective.

            This does not mean these sources aren’t ancient, or aren’t there, or that Jews didn’t believe them at one time. I know you don’t accept them, but I can’t ignore them if I want an unbiased historical picture. This blog admits that Judaism spawned Christianity, but then rejects categorically the notion that there is anything genuinely Jewish in content about Christianity. Does that seem likely? To me it doesn’t. I mean that question seriously and respectfully. Again, Consider that Christian like theology of a rising messiah has arisen in Judaism in modern times without Christian influence. (Chabad Messianists.). Your reading of scripture works, but so does theirs, as evidenced by the fact that their movement has been replicated in Judaism in our times.

            From a historical perspective, you can call Christianity heresy, that’s fine, but to say that it’s a non Jewish phenomenon, or that Jews never would or could have believed in anything Like Christianity, while within Judaism seems entirely unlikely.

            Let me put it to you this way. I support your commitment to your Judaism because it’s biblically based, historically verifiable, plausible, and is godly, and fit to make you strong as a people. I don’t need an agenda to say you should observe Halacha, as even the Christian bible supports that view. Jesus and his students observed the Halacha of their day within the context of second temple discussions between groups about the law. That’s historical fact.

            When I examine the Christian bible with the same eye to criticism and history, it does not seem implausible to me that the Christian religion could arise from second temple Judaism, even with it’s distinctively Christian teachings like Jesus’ divinity. I’m not saying it to be mean, just trying to offer an honest opinion based on the dates of the sources, non Christian sources, and the later emergence of similar ideas within Judaism in later history. I apologize to you all if that seems insensitive, but I promise I’m not trying to show favorites. I look at the evidence, and it seems likely that both rabbinic and Christian readings can arise from the Bible without any agenda or malicious intent on anyone’s part.

            Hope everyone is having a blessed Hannukah.

          • Dina says:

            Con, you did not respond to my argument. I said nothing about tradition. I said nothing about a dying and rising messiah. I said that Judaism thoroughly and completely rejects the notion of worshiping a man as god. That is the main thing that separates Judaism from Christianity, yet you say that there is nothing in the Torah that disapproves of such a practice? That the Torah supports it? That’s insulting even if you don’t mean to be insulting; and it’s disrespectful even if you don’t mean to be disrespectful, because it shows that you learned nothing of significance in all our interactions.

          • Sharbano says:

            CR, just because You “believe” Xtianity is a form of Judaism doesn’t make it so. You are trying to “learn Judaism” from a book, from “scholars”. All one has to do is look at how Xtianity has interpreted Torah. It has been said that Judaism has evolved to what it is today because they abandoned the primitive barbaric practices. This idea comes from a misunderstanding of how the system worked. People “assume” the slaves of Torah were no different than how slaves were treated in early America. The slave system of America would be an abomination of Torah principles. This is the same method You are using to justify “That appears incorrect according to the plain sense of the scripture”. You are trying to understand something without the benefit of All the information. Since you Want to believe what you believe you will use what justifies that belief, facts notwithstanding.

    • LarryB says:

      CR
      Superficial? Thats like the skillet calling the kettel black. lol Jesus not god created the universe and everything in it. Through Jsus, everything holds together, not god. For Jsus everything was created. Of course it all works if you believe in a man god. Na, thats not superficial. Just read the torah and you’ll see.

  3. Concerned Reader says:

    I didn’t drop out of any discussions. Its the holidays, I’m busy too. I see you applying to the people as a whole, and to the sages specifically, what Christians apply to Jesus, with regard to the glory of the second temple. As I’ve pointed out numerous times, I agree with your commitment to Judaism, but I don’t see the rationale to beating up Christianity when so much of it stems from Judaism itself.

    The fact that Judaism can apply the passage about the glory in the second temple being greater than the first, to the wisdom of the sages in their quest for solidarity, speaks volumes to the development of Logos theology if you think about it. If you don’t need the text to “know”, but only the experience of your people at Sinai, then we “know” G-d, by talking to the pious who are his “son.” It’s ironic really.

    • Dina says:

      Con, you are being disingenuous (I am sure unintentionally). There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like the worship of Jesus–the worship of a man as god–in Judaism.

  4. Concerned Reader says:

    People “assume” the slaves of Torah were no different than how slaves were treated in early America. Not necessarily true Sharbano. We are all more than capable of realizing that Torah “slavery” is more like indentured servitude than American Chattel slavery, but that’s a moot point. It’s moot because of the fallacy that is “separate but equal.” Even when you have indentured servitude, it’s not better than American slavery, it’s still advocating the leasing of a person.

    Believe it or not, I am interested in learning your perspective, I’m here, I read your responses. The scholars I’m reading (both Jewish and Christian) have noted points of contact between Judaism and Christianity, not just me. It’s not that I want to ignore your perspective.

    • Jim says:

      Con,

      You say that you are here to learn “our” perspective, and yet, as has been shown over and over, you make no attempt to understand or even “listen” to it. Rather, you rewrite it and reinterpret it. Even in this discussion, you limit the responses of those who disagree with you to an appeal to tradition which has not been the main thrust of our arguments.

      Jim

    • Sharbano says:

      In typical Xtian fashion you pick the example of a point without confronting the point itself. You say scholars (Jewish and Xtian), but a scholar doesn’t necessarily understand the perspective from culture. Scholars aren’t a true “representation” of knowledge. This can only be achieved through those who have “direct” knowledge, and it comes from an understanding of all the sources. The only ones who Have direct knowledge are Rabbis who learned from Rabbis that trace back to the original.

    • Dina says:

      Con, a rabbi once said about the New Testament that whatever is new isn’t true and whatever is true isn’t new. So yes, there are points of contact (like the Golden Rule), but where we diverge is what is under discussion.

      Points of divergence (some of which you may personally disagree with but in my opinion that’s irrelevant):

      1. Creation of a new type of worship (the trinity).
      2. The doctrine of original sin.
      3. Belief that the job of the messiah is to save you from sin.
      4. Only blood can atone for sin.
      5. Belief in a power that operates independently of God (Satan).
      6. Belief that your deeds are worthless and only your faith in your heart matters (I know you don’t subscribe to this one).

      And others.

      • Not all Christians accept 4 with that emphasis.
        2. As I’m aware there are sources which say that certain righteous men only died because of Adam’s sin? Original Sin doesn’t mean automatic guilt as Augustine emphasized, but that we have a diminished nature, ( ie no longer living eternally, etc.)
        3. The messiah’s job is universal peace and brotherhood isn’t it? The source of contention and strife is Sin, ergo the messiah must deal with sin, by opening the path to everyone equally from where they are at.
        5. Not everyone believes that Satan is a separate power or a competitor. All indication is that G- d placed Satan in his station ie Job and Luke 10:18.
        6. The idea that deeds are worthless in salvation is wholly Protestant, not Orthodox, or Catholic. Not even Protestants really believe that you can live sinfully and be ok. That’s actually a common stereotype of Christianity. (Mathew 7:21-23 Romans 2:13)

        • Dina says:

          You missed the point again. These are points of divergence between Judaism and Christianity; your explanations simply emphasize that. It’s irrelevant to me which denominations of Christianity believe what. If you really paid attention to what I wrote, you would have seen this disclaimer: “some of which you may personally disagree with but in my opinion that’s irrelevant.”

          There is no branch of Christianity that can claim ultimate authority over correct doctrine, so you can’t plausibly argue, well, only Protestants believe that. Unlike Judaism, which Jews agree that Orthodox Judaism is traditional, authentic Judaism, even non-Orthodox Jews.

          Con, despite your busyness with the holidays, you seem to be having an awful lot of time responding to this blog post. So how about you go back to your previous conversations with Rabbi B. and me and answer us?

        • Sharbano says:

          The Messiah’s “job” is universal peace and brotherhood, deal with sin, opening up paths???
          And you assert Xtianity “is” Judaism. Not likely. Not with those ideas.
          I take it you’re quote regarding the Satan is the one of “falling from heaven”. This is one of the most absurd accounts in the Xtian text. Isaiah couldn’t be more precise in his writing. If one cannot be trusted in the precise, how can they be trusted in the vague. The Xtian writers obviously had an agenda.

  5. Concerned Reader says:

    You say that your reading is not an appeal to tradition, but in your reading you emphasize certain passages, bust not others, meaning you interpret. That’s not bad, it’s not wrong, but it’s your interpretation. The emphasis laid on national revelation is an interpretation that relies largely on Devarim, a second hand recounting. I am listening, but I have thoughts, and so I respond. It’s not meant disrespectfully.

    • Dina says:

      Devarim is, you say, a second-hand recounting. So Genesis 18, where God “appeared” as a “man,” that’s a first-hand account because Abraham wrote down what happened immediately after it occurred, right, and that’s the account that was handed down through the generations. Who are you kidding? You accuse of relying heavily on a second-hand recounting (not true, but not arguing the point now), but you have better sources on whom to rely?

      Devarim is as legitimate as the rest of the Torah. Your attempts to discredit it are very telling.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        I’m not trying to discredit anything. I’m pointing out The fact that Deuteronomy is written post national revelation, and the fact that rabbi B says you don’t need the text at all to know. This shows that the idea of national revelation as some ironclad proof, doesn’t have as much direct biblical emphasis as you claim. I’m not saying it’s not there, but that it is far from the linchpin of the bible that you make it out to be. Moses’ recounting, and the transmission from generation to generation are far more important for preserving the details, then the actual event.

        As you are fond of pointing out, the Christians don’t have “national revelation” and the blog uses this to say “aha, their ideas are like a myth.” I’m trying to point out that the Torah itself internally reflects the same structure, based on what happens in the text, based on the number of verses (spoken by Moses’ recounting), and based on rabbi B’s statement that you believe the text to be secondary to the testimony of your ancestors. Your people have the role that the Logos has in Christianty. Your testimony more than the event reveals the will of G-d to humans.

        • Sharbano says:

          You miss the point of the “national revelation”. It being “national” means there is no disagreement about what occurred. Moshe reinforces that by telling the people no one will ever claim, or even make it up, that same revelation. Xtianity only concerns a select few. Because of that there are doubts. One who wasn’t there can say, “it didn’t happen to me”. Since all the Israelites saw and heard there is No One who can say “it didn’t happen to me”. This is why, and according to Moshe, that it would never happen again, not in his lifetime or any time in the future.

        • Dina says:

          Okay, Con, let’s boil down our two positions to a simple statement.

          The Jewish Argument:

          Deuteronomy 4 clearly teaches that Jesus may not be worshiped as a god.

          Con’s Response:

          It doesn’t matter what Deuteronomy 4 says; it’s just not an important part of Scripture. It’s not necessarily reliable, so it can be ignored.

          Thanks for the clarity. Sometimes it’s good just to understand the crux of the disagreement. I believe the Torah is the word of God. You do not. Herein lies our disagreement.

          This renders scriptural arguments into an exercise in futility. Since Scripture is the only common ground we can argue from, is there a point to continuing this discussion?

  6. FYI Jim, when rabbi B said, “I don’t need the text to know that my nation entered into a covenant with the Creator of all at Sinai – and that at Sinai they were taught were to direct all of their worship.” This is either an appeal to his personal experience, or his received belief in the legitimacy of ancestral beliefs (ie tradition) concerning the revelation if rabbi B says he doesn’t need the text of the Torah.

  7. Dina, scripture itself says that G-d appears to Abraham in Genesis 18. His word manifests in full authority in the captain of hashem’s host (seen as a man) in Joshua 5 prompting prostration and service. I know your tradition has explanations for these verses, but so do the Christians, and that’s the point. The book can be read sans malicious intent in different ways.

    Christians are not claiming “G-d only manifests through Jesus.” They are claiming that the word of G-d (known from diverse pre Christian sources) manifested in and as Jesus. In other words, we know that, as 1 Corinthians 15:24 says “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.” We know that Hashem will be one, and his name one, and he will be all in all. So, while our interpretations are very different, the point is the same that Hashem is the only true G-d under heaven.

    • Dina says:

      Hang on a second, Con! How does that answer the argument that Judaism explicitly rejects the notion of worshiping a man as God?

      Furthermore, Con, this shows that you haven’t been paying attention to an argument I and others on this blog have repeatedly presented to you. So I will say it again in the hope that perhaps this time you’ll hear me.

      Let us say your interpretation is correct (which it is not). If God manifested as a man to Abraham, well, then, why didn’t Abraham go around for the rest of his life worshiping this physical manifestation? You must surely have noted that he didn’t give it a name and talk about him as if he were God. Furthermore, the same Torah that you say recounts this event this way also says that we are only to worship God as He appeared as Sinai, so even if he manifested as a man MILLION TIMES it’s irrelevant because He instructed us not to worship Him as such.

      The Torah also defines idolatry as a type of worship unknown to our fathers, so by this definition Jesus worship is idolatry no matter how you justify it.

      You have NEVER responded to these arguments.

      But here is another point. You wrote, ” I know your tradition has explanations for these verses, but so do the Christians.” It makes no sense for Christians to come to our Scripture and interpret it willy-nilly, because they are not the target audience. It’s like reading your friend’s wife’s love letters and deciding what she must have meant. Really only her husband would know that! And besides, God appointed His servant Jacob to be His witnesses, so it only makes sense that those appointed by God to be His witnesses will have any credibility regarding explaining Scripture.

      Finally, our interpretation is supported by Scripture; yours is not. Scripture in fact repudiates your interpretation, as we have shown.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Why would G-d appear in so many different ways, through so many confusing phenomenon such as a man, angel, etc. before and after Sinai, if he doesn’t want humans to know him that way? Also, You have been told multiple times that we know G-d is one, and incorporeal, and that G-d is not limited to a Jesus box, or any earthly phenomenon, but that his word, which is one with him, (a manifestation) speaks through these phenomenon, and as Jesus. As for your ancestors not knowing, Genesis 48:16. MAY THE ANGEL WHO REDEEMED me from all harm BLESS the youths, and may they be called by my name and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and may they multiply abundantly like fish, in the midst of the land.” טז. הַמַּלְאָךְ הַגֹּאֵל אֹתִי מִכָּל רָע יְבָרֵךְ אֶת הַנְּעָרִים וְיִקָּרֵא בָהֶם שְׁמִי וְשֵׁם אֲבֹתַי אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק וְיִדְגּוּ לָרֹב בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ:
        the angel who redeemed me: The angel who was usually sent to me in my distress, as the matter is stated: “And an angel of God said to me in a dream, ‘Jacob!…I AM THE G-D of Bethel’ ” (Gen. 31:11-13). – [after Targum Jonathan ben Uzziel] Is Jacob worshiping a creature by recognizing the Malach as “The G-d of Bethel” and asking it for blessing of the youths?

        המלאך הגאל אתי: מלאך הרגיל להשתלח אלי בצרתי, כענין שנאמר (בראשית לא יא – יג) ויאמר אלי מלאך הא-להים בחלום יעקב וגו’ אנכי האל בית אל:
        bless the youths: Manasseh and Ephraim.

        יברך את הנערים: מנשה ואפרים:
        and may they multiply…like fish: [Just] like fish, which proliferate and multiply, and are unaffected by the evil eye. — [from Onkelos and Gen. Rabbah 97:3]

        but, I digress, you keep going with your straw man. So, Gentiles are not the target audience of the Torah. Why then do we believe in it? We should be worshiping Zeus by your reckoning, because we didn’t get the message from the correct source.

        • Sharbano says:

          Your assumption is false. G-d doesn’t manifest “Himself”. All the encounters are the “agents of Hashem”, not unlike the same role the Rabbis play. If you are a scholar then surely you have studied Talmud regarding agents. As has been said before, G-d cannot manifest Himself, instead there are levels wherein His power is brought down. The more the levels the less the power transmitted. Otherwise He wouldn’t be hidden, as the Hebrew word defines the world. These levels are the ladder that is spoken of.

        • Dina says:

          Con, in this comment you asked three questions:

          1. Why would God appear in so many different ways if He doesn’t want humans to know him that way? (Or if He doesn’t want humans to worship Him that way–that’s what we’re arguing about, ultimately.)

          2. Jacob asked an angel for a blessing–isn’t this clear proof that he worshiped an angel as god?

          3. Since gentiles aren’t the target audience of the Torah, shouldn’t we all be pagans?

          Here are my answers.

          1. You asked a question that never occurs to Jews who read the Bible. Why do you think that is? I propose that this question occurred to you after you accepted your theology because you started with an answer. In other words, you looked for justification for your theology, then found the question to fit your answer. This is circular reasoning of the first order.

          Furthermore, I would like to know why our Scripturally-supported explanations of such encounters as Genesis 18 are unsatisfactory to you. Not only are they Scripturally supported, but they also harmonize with the pure monotheism that the Torah demands. I believe it was Blasater who pointed out an important principle of hermeneutics: the clear passages shed light on the unclear passages, not the other way around!

          2. Since when is asking for a blessing worshiping as a god? We ask for blessings from humans all the time! In our tradition, the closer a person is to God, the more he can expect to be approached with requests for blessings. Angels are close to God, so their blessings are quite meaningful. But where do you read that Jacob worshiped this angel as God?

          3. Do you disagree that the Torah’s target audience is the Jewish people? It’s pretty clear that God is addressing the nation of Israel throughout. That doesn’t mean that gentiles need to be idolaters. It means that to understand the truth of the Torah, to obtain answers to their questions regarding its interpretation, they need to ask the Jewish people and not make up interpretations to fit their own made-up theology.

          (I anticipate that you might then argue that those who taught that theology to the gentiles were Jews. That’s unserious, as Sharbano pointed out. Just because a Jews says something does not mean it is legitimate. Reform Judaism is not legitimate, for instance.)

        • Clueless Reader:

          I honestly can’t believe you are arguing in circles about the same things that we have explained to you over 9000 times. You really seem to be unwilling to listen to truth and only wish to have Jewish people accept your belief system as being a valid expression of Torah.

          Try this on for size for the 9001st time! Deuteronomy 4:9-19!

          Deut 4:9. But beware and watch yourself very well, lest you forget the things that your eyes saw, and lest these things depart from your heart, all the days of your life, and you shall make them known to your children and to your children’s children,

          Here we see that G-d is commanding Israel to teach these things throughout their generations. G-d is directly telling Israel to teach their children about the things they saw and the things on their hearts. What are these things you ask? Lets continue reading:

          Deut 4:10. the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, “Assemble the people for Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.

          Deut 4:11. And you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire up to the midst of the heavens, with darkness, a cloud, and opaque darkness.

          Deut 4:12. The Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of the words, but saw no image, just a voice.

          Here we have G-d explaining to the children of Israel what they “saw.” Notice that what they “saw” was no image according to G-d Himself! Moving on…

          Deut 4:13. And He told you His covenant, which He commanded you to do, the Ten Commandments, and He inscribed them on two stone tablets.

          Deut 4:14. And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances, so that you should do them in the land to which you are crossing, to possess.

          This verse is important to read in context with the next few verses because it reiterates the fact that these commands are not just a “one time deal.” Rather, G-d is commanding Israel not to worship Him in any form throughout all our generations! With this in mind, lets continue reading:

          Deut 4:15. And you shall watch yourselves very well, for you did not see any image on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire.

          Deut 4:16. Lest you become corrupt and make for yourselves a graven image, the representation of ANY FORM, the likeness of MALE or female,

          Deut 4:17. the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the heaven,

          Deut 4:18. the likeness of anything that crawls on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters, beneath the earth.

          Deut 4:19. And lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and see the sun, and the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, which the Lord your God assigned to all peoples under the entire heaven, and be drawn away to prostrate yourselves before them and worship them.

          CR, from this passage, we see two explicit themes:

          1. G-d is explicitly commanding Israel not to worship Him in any form. (Deut 4:16)

          2. G-d is explicitly commanding Israel to teach this to their children and their children’s children, even after they come to the land of Israel. (Deut 4:9-14)

          I would like to reiterate that this prohibition includes more than just “man made” images. Did man “make” the moon the sun and the stars? Did man “make” Adam, the first man? No! But we both agree that G-d would never manifest Himself in the form of the sun.

          We know that G-d would never do such things because G-d extends this prohibition to any form in Deut 4:16. You can’t get any more explicit than that!

          So CR…The question you should be asking me is “WOULD G-d take on the form of a man?”

          To which the appropriate response is, WOULD G-d take on the form of a golden calf?

          We know that G-d would never manifest Himself in the form of a golden calf us. By these same token, He made it clear that He will not appear in the form of a man to us. Deut 4:15-19 was not a “one time deal.” It was a commandment for all generations! It was also not limited to “man made forms.” It extends to “any form,” including the form of a man.

          So even if assumed your “god angel” nonsense to be true, it would have no relevance in terms of how Israel is commanded to worship Hashem. G-d’s explicit commands to Israel concerning how we are to worship Him override any eisegetical assumptions you make about a supposed “pre incarnate jesus angel” popping up every time a nameless angel appears to a Patriarch, such as in Deut 18, Joshua 5, and whatever other passage you wish to contextually abuse to proclaim as an example of your false yoshke pre-incarnate angels.

          And as I’ve said to you an equal amount of times, your jeezer never even claimed to be “the angel of the Lord” or any other angel in the Tanach. In fact, Hebrews 1:6 makes the outrageous, idolatrous statement that ALL THE ANGELS WORSHIP jesus! That would include the angels who appeared to Abraham, as well as the angel who appeared to Joshua, Manoach, Moses, etc. Thus, even your NT shows us that jesus cannot be these angels that you claim him to be in the Tanach.

          But lets take this a step further, Clueless Reader…Let’s say hypothetically that your jesus claimed to be the angel of the Lord and all those other angels who appeared to Abraham, Joshua, Manoach, Moses, etc…

          What does that prove?

          It proves absolutely nothing except that yoshke made the statement. Nothing in the Tanach supports the idea that yoshke is these angels. You have to rely on extra biblical sources in order to come to even entertain that possibility.

          Knowing all this, why in the world are you so hell bent on convincing people that your beliefs are a valid expression of Judaism?! Clearly, you aren’t even using the Tanach to justify your beliefs. You are using faulty hermeneutics to not only justify the false idea that G-d “took on flesh” in the sight of the Patriarchs in the Tanach, but that your pagan man god/false messiah, jesus, is the only possible candidate for being this false angelic deity!

          Neither of your premises have any foundation in the Tanach, yet you sit here and whine about the fact that we scrutinize your beliefs when you try to present them as authentically divinely inspired by Hashem. Even if you were hypothetically able to prove that Hashem appeared to Abraham, Joshua, Manoach, Moses, etc. in the form of a human being, this would STILL NOT PROVE YOUR JEEZER AS THIS ANGEL/DEITY!

          The big elephant in the room is that you ALWAYS turn the conversation into this giant “jesus angel hunt” so that you can avoid dealing with the more obvious holes in your beliefs system which expose your NT as a lie. I have no problem exposing the lies of Matthew’s abuse of Isaiah 7:14 and Hosea 11:1 again to you. If you expect anyone to even consider that your yoshke has anything to do with being a god let alone the Messiah son of David, you best explain why your gospel of Matthew contextually abuses the Tanach over and over again, starting from the very first page of the first chapter!

          If you want to keep spinning your wheels about jesus angels and the pagan idea of G-d revealing Himself as in the form of a “man,” then please, keep on trolling this blog with your pseudo-history and continue to whine and insist that your beliefs are authentically Jewish.

          In the mean time, we will continue to worship the one true G-d of Israel and reject your pagan man god colloquially known as jesus.

          Merry baby worshipping day!

          • Concerned Reader says:

            I hope you had a happy Hannukah Yehuda. I hope you all had a pleasant holiday.

          • Dina says:

            Yehuda Yisrael, then you should know that Moses in Devarim is recounting second-hand (although he was an eyewitness) events decades after they occurred. Therefore, his account is unreliable. Furthermore, the Jews themselves did not know what they witnessed and needed Moses to clarify it for them. So you see, it’s not such a clear teaching after all, and you are placing too much emphasis on it.

    • Sharbano says:

      THIS has been my entire point. Your interpretations of those events are your Own belief. Who would a person, as an outsider, believe, a scholar that has a “belief” or those “OF” the book, the authors of which told their descendants who told their descendants. Explanations by those who are promoting a different ideology, by definition, have an agenda and will go to any extents to further that agenda. THIS is what is going on here.

      All this talk of “word” / “logos” is an attempt to further that agenda. It may work in Greek but in Hebrew it doesn’t fit and completely falls apart. It’s not surprising there was no Hebrew original Xtian text. The writers had to go to the Greek since it can’t work in Lashon Kodesh.

      • Your interpretations of those events are your Own belief. Who would a person, as an outsider, believe, a scholar that has a “belief” or those “OF” the book, the authors of which told their descendants who told their descendants. Explanations by those who are promoting a different ideology, by definition, have an agenda and will go to any extents to further that agenda. THIS is what is going on here.

        Sharbano, this wouldn’t be a problem if there wasn’t an assumption that the Christians are just getting and making their religion out of the air. This ideology was taught to them by Jews, members of the covenant people, like yourselves. Also, there are sources which I have mentioned that are not accepted, “because they are not your tradition,” but there is no reason to. Judge these sources so harshly, if there is, point them out. Your argument ends up being a form of, “those Jesus Jews weren’t honest, they fooled the European world, but we are honest.” As for the “you don’t know Hebrew” argument, I make a point of not using Christian bibles for this reason. Also, if the ideas are so foreign, Judaism shouldn’t have any replicas of dying and rising messiahs, or asking angels/men called G-d for blessings right?

        • LarryB says:

          Torah, Christian Bible.
          1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
          No mention of a Second or third party.
          For replacement theology, See below……
          ………………………………………………………………………………….
          Christian Belief
          The catechism of the catholic church says: 291
          “In the beginning was the Word (Jsus). . . and the Word (Jsus) was God. . . all things were made through him (Jsus), and without him (Jsus) was not anything made that was made.”129 The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word (Jsus), his beloved Son. In him (Jsus) “all things were created, in heaven and on earth.. . all things were created through him (Jsus) and for him (Jsus). He (Jsus) is before all things, and in him (Jsus) all things hold together. I think it’s fairly clear what christians believe.
          ……………………We seem to have two beginnings.

        • Sharbano says:

          Taught to them by Jews??? Really. That doesn’t make it correct. Marx was a Jew, so, by your rationale then Communism is according to Torah. It was the Hellenistic influence that compromised certain “Jewish teaching”. Not only that but Jsus disciples certainly weren’t men learned in Torah. How could they then be expected to teach others in Torah truth. This was true in Moshe’s time and the reason the institution that became known as Rabbis originated. Therefore, anything taught outside that circle is suspect.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            If that’s the case, how do you gaurs against error among rabbis?

          • Sharbano says:

            What errors? More to the point, what about ALL the errors in the Xtian text. Where is the analysis of all Those. One should look at their own house.It’s certainly Not an issue within Judaism. All one has to do is look at the Rashi.

          • Dina says:

            If I may insert myself, we do not have an infallibility doctrine regarding rabbis. Rabbis may make errors in good faith, and we accept that. However, if a rabbi rules against Torah law or accepted tradition, we will reject him.

            Jesus ruled against Torah law and against accepted tradition, and in so doing caused his own rejection by the Jews.

        • Dina says:

          Con, you wrote: “Also, there are sources which I have mentioned that are not accepted, “because they are not your tradition,” but there is no reason to. Judge these sources so harshly, if there is, point them out.”

          Okay, I will point it out. God promised to protect the righteous remnant of Israel. Any Jewish faction that did not survive as a Jewish group can automatically be assumed to have lost God’s protection because they were not part of the righteous remnant. The early Christian movement was made up entirely of Jews but did not survive as a Jewish movement. It obviously did not receive God’s favor and therefore there is good reason to judge its sources so harshly, to use your words.

          The only group to survive beyond the destruction of the Second Temple were the Pharisees, the rabbinic Jews. Every Jew today with the exception of converts is descended from those Pharisees. So the only acceptable tradition is ours. God has shown us it is the only one He favors by keeping us alive–only us–in a way that can only be described as miraculous.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Dina, how do you guard against confirmation bias if this is the case?

          • Dina says:

            Con, this is not confirmation bias. Even devout Christian writers of Jewish history acknowledge that rabbinic Judaism is the only viable form of Judaism (such as Paul Johnson and James Carroll). Do you think it’s coincidental that God preserved only this group? I do not.

            I look forward to your responses to my other comments.

        • LarryB says:

          CR
          You might like these two videos, just add the www.
          http://. .aish.com/h/c/mm/sf/Hanukkah-Why-Light-Candles-and-Ignore-the-War.html?tab=y

          • Dina says:

            Also a great article on Aish, and funny too:

            http://www.aish.com/h/c/s/g/Merry-Shpitzvinkel.html?s=mpw

          • Dina says:

            I liked the vid, Larry, but I thought it was kinda weird that every time they mentioned God the sun appeared. I don’t get why an Orthodox website would do that.

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            I watched it again and GD is mentioned fairly evenly in day time or with the sun in view out doors about 8 times. With candles lit 3 times. Night time 8 times. In doors or neither clearly day or night 7 times. But when in doors and the sun can’t be inside, or outside clearly there seems to be a ray of light seemingly representing GD. But the story is about the light and the miracle of the candles. I don’t know what you could use to portray GD presence other than a beam of light maybe fire.

          • Dina says:

            Nothing, I would use nothing, because the graphics don’t have to portray everything all the time. When God is mentioned no additional graphics are necessary. Does that make sense?

          • LarryB says:

            It makes sense so I asked the question, lets see if he answers.

          • Dina says:

            Great! Keep me posted!

        • LarryB says:

          CR
          “This wouldn’t be a problem if there wasn’t an
          assumption that the Christians are just getting and
          making their religion out of the air.” ….Religion “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods….
          There are many things and doctrines that should bother
          christians and one of them is who is GD’s mother. The
          Jewish people may have had their golden calfs that
          have come and gone but christians have the equilavent
          of the golden calf. with Mary, The Mother OF GD
          himself. and, She is not going away. The Pope said
          “God’s ineffable declaration” that “Mary was
          preserved by Immaculate Conception when conceived in
          her mother’s body and was miraculously free from
          pollution of sin inherited from Adam”. There are four
          considerations of her earthly life. She came in
          sinless, she lived sinless, she lived as a virgin,
          upon death was immediately ascended or assumed into
          heaven. All these beliefs took years to develope. As
          with much of christianity you cannot just say “This
          ideology was taught to them by Jews, members of the
          covenant people”. Mary has become equal to GD, in fact
          she really is superior to GD/Jsus. She rules in
          heaven as queen, sovereign, saving,sanctifing,
          sympathizing. In the book “Fundamentals of
          Catholicism” No grace is imparted to mankind without
          the intercession of Mary. Roman Catholic Catechism,
          page 252, number 969: “Therefore, the Blessed Virgin
          is invoked in the Church under the title of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix”. She is the chief and sovereign refuge of Catholics in their trials.
          Mary is given the power to save us. I could go on and
          on and alot of christians dont agree with the
          Catholics. That doesn’t matter though because they
          have their problems to. The Penocostals have their
          Drunken With the Spirit seminars with some heavy
          weights on TV that no longer do this but the point is
          they did profess this at some point in time. Not that
          long ago. But when GD is human what do you expect?
          He is gonna have human traights and problems and is
          also very predictable. He thinks and acts like a
          human…………………………
          Merry Calfimas and Happy Horace’s Tree

  8. Blasater says:

    Seems to me that Brown lives in opposite world. Not only did Jesus not glorify the temple (He had no shekinah to overwhelm the Priests as in the 1st temple) usually Jesus was running around the temple looking for a place to hide. “god” has to run and hide in his own temple? I cant think of a more disgusting thought.

    Brown also claims Jesus was 1st time around a high priest. He was supposed to:

    Mal 3: He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

    The man from Nazareth failed at this too. Just the opposite occurred. More corruption and failure of the temple.

    • Dina says:

      You know what your problem is, Blasater? You’re being hyperliteral. This is all symbolic, don’t you know. Jesus was symbolically the high priest, and he purified everyone–not just Levi–in a symbolic way, because he is symbolically the temple. He was also only a symbolic human, so he had to act like one so people could get really confused–is he a human or is he a god?

  9. Jim says:

    Once upon a time, there was a man who discovered an ancient Jewish tradition. This is the story of how it changed his life.

    It had been his belief up until that time that the Jewish religion excluded any representation of God. Now this did not sit well with him. How could he possibly identify with a transcendent God, a God beyond all human understanding? The only way he could possibly connect to God, he thought, was by having some sort of physical representation.

    Now, he knew that the Torah prohibited directing one’s worship to foreign gods. And he knew that one was not supposed to bow before idols. But it occurred to him one day that the totality of the error of bowing to idols was that the idolater was directing his worship to the physical form. But what if, when one was directing himself to an object, he was not directing himself at all to the physical form? What if he were not worshipping the matter at all, but an underlying spirit? What if the statue were only something to direct his mind to God, not to be worshipped in lieu of God but only with God, but giving the man some idea with which he could identify? Surely this would not be idolatry, not really.

    But what the man needed was (not permission from the Torah, certainly not!) precedence. He needed something in the tradition that could justify his belief. Well, not THE tradition. All he really needed was some prior practice by some Jew somewhere that fit his desired practice.

    He thought to find such a thing would be difficult. Surely, he would have to scour the Torah and other Jewish sources to find hidden within the sort of worship he desired. But he was convinced that it must exist. God could not possibly have expected people to worship Him when they could not even understand Him. Surely there must be some sort of intermediate form to which they could offer their devotion.

    It turned out not to be half so difficult as he imagined. Exodus was the foundation of all he needed. In those pages, he found an early “Jewish tradition” that worshipping a golden calf was a perfectly acceptable practice. It was a variant strain of Judaism, one that could not be easily dismissed by those who rejected anything “un-Jewish”. (As he was not Jewish himself, one wonders why he bothered so hard to find something he could reconcile to Judaism in the first place. But we must consider our word count, after all, so the question will remain on the table.)

    He could hardly believe his good fortune. As it turns out, this was not a passing fad. He discovered that the Israelite monarchy revived the ancient practice of bowing to golden calves, and it was in place for centuries. There could hardly be anything more Jewish. What luck!

    He immediately began scouring the pawnshops for all the gold he could find. He was not a rich man, so his calf would not be terribly large, but he figured that a calf of six inches was sufficient for his purpose. He took all the gold he could find to a smith who fashioned a calf for him, while he built for it an altar. And then he erected it in a shelter in his back yard. I will not describe the tragic acts that followed.

    Of course, people heard about his idolatry. It was terribly shocking to them. He did his best to calm them, however, explaining patiently how he came to the conclusion that his practices were historically accepted practices. They were rooted in Jewish tradition.

    This was outrageous to many of his friends and they tried to convince him of his error. They found, however, that there was no scripture he could not give a new meaning, convenient to his practice, by de-emphasizing one point and emphasizing another. (That was what he called it. Others called it self-deception.) But he did not argue merely from the scripture. He argued from his cultural understanding of idolatry (not the Torah’s, although he appealed to the Torah incessantly.) He argued from history.

    So, when his friends pleaded with him not to do this thing, he responded that it was a perfectly viable Jewish tradition. (Let us not forget that he was not Jewish.) They pointed out to him that the Torah frowned on the incident of the golden calf. He told them that that was their tradition. But obviously they had overlooked some very important facts.

    The first is that Aaron, the brother of Moses, was involved in the entire incident, and he was not punished. Moses was displeased with him, because Aaron did not operate according to Moses’ understanding, but God still appointed Aaron as high priest. This means (in the mind of our poor misguided soul) that God was not angry about the idol worship per se. And in fact, according to the Calfian, is that the Jews were not worshipping a false god. They were merely representing their God, which is why they claimed that it was the god who led them out of Egypt. They introduced nothing new at all.

    This shocked his friends. However, he continued in his justifications. He pointed out to them that what he was doing was not really idolatry. He did not worship the gold. He did not worship the cow qua cow. He worshipped its spirit. And he did not worship it in lieu of God. That would be wrong. He worshipped it in conjunction and only in conjunction with the God of Israel. It would be heresy to worship it alone. This is an error that some made when erecting the calf, which was why they were punished. But obviously Aaron understood this and so avoided punishment. He was still to be the high priest so that he could teach people the true acceptable Calfianity, which was not idolatry at all, but made God accessible to the masses. (His friends pointed out that the Torah forbids making images, but he had a different emphasis, based on historical understanding.)

    He found further proof in the golden calves erected in Israel during the time the kingdom was divided. He asked his friends why, if the calves were so bad, did Elijah only slay the priests of Baal and not those who served before the calves. His answer, which he thought rather obvious, was that because the calves were part of an accepted Jewish tradition. Only the rabbis later excluded the calf sects, not accepting other Jewish traditions. Elijah, however, who was renowned for his strictness, did not practice this level of exclusion. He accepted other Jewish traditions, including the calves.

    And so, this poor lost soul concluded, the golden calf was unfairly excluded from Jewish practice. Clearly, laws proscribing idolatry did not originally include the golden calf. It was in fact a historical fact that the Jews did not worship God only in His formless form. He was also worshipped in his calfic form, even from the very founding of the Jewish religion. It was always a part of it.

    His mistake was obvious. He confused what is with what ought to be. He confused tradition with truth. And so he worshipped an object of his imagination.

    • Dina says:

      The analogy is very clear.

    • LarryB says:

      Mooie Califmas everyone!

    • LarryB says:

      Jim
      CR would definitely agree with this guy, “This ideology was taught to them by Jews, members of the covenant people”. You know, I kinda of like the idea of the golden calf, maybe more than Horace’s tree. It’s got more Bling, ill have to think about it.

      • LarryB says:

        I know that’s not the point of the story. I was thinking of a fad and quick cash. Plus, it’s not like I want people to think the cow is GD, just what it represents. Anyway, I have decided I like horace’s tree better. If the fad took off and I was able to make some quick cash with my luck MSNBC would run a story with the headline and a big picture of the Golden Calf “Whats your carbon foot print?” Then they would run dozens of stories of the ground being torn up, the amount of fossil fuels burned etc. Yea, horace’s tree is much more environmentally friendly.
        PS I truly liked the anology

        • rambo2016 says:

          The sun is vital for plant and animal life to exist on Earth. It is our ultimate energy source, affecting all aspects our lives from the food we eat to the air we breathe. It all begins with the action of the sun on plants, and the benefits imparted are then disseminated throughout the animal kingdom.

          Energy to Grow and Thrive
          Energy is one of the most important benefits of the sun for animals and plants. Sunlight is essential for plant life. Plants use the sun’s energy to sustain themselves by producing sugars and other nutrients. Animals then consume the plants and convert the plant’s energy (which came from the sun) for their own use. In the animal world, herbivores (plant eaters) get all their energy directly from plants. Carnivores (meat eaters) get their energy from plants indirectly, by ingesting the animals that ingest the plants. Omnivores (plant and meat eaters) get their energy both ways. But all, ultimately, get energy from the sun.

          Oxygen
          Another important benefit of the sun for animals is oxygen. Animals need oxygen to breathe, and plants provide it. But it is the sun that induces plants to make oxygen. Plants convert the sun’s energy into glucose and store it for their use in a process called photosynthesis. The byproduct of photosynthesis is the release of the oxygen all animals need to survive.

          comment : for the sun to do all this it must have some kind of divine nature in it, right? even jesus’ life depended on the sun. jesus is dead and the sun still exists. why are christians not worshiping and bowing before the sun?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            All jibing at Christians aside, there is something that is being overlooked. The NT (despite the trinity) describes G-d in the away that the 13 principles describe him. Incorporeal, ineffable, unseen, etc. it even says that Jesus will hand over the kingdom to the father, which means Hashem is most important. Jesus isn’t worshipped for his own sake.

          • Sharbano says:

            The key word here is worship, but not for his own sake, but worshiped nonetheless. Where do you find that G-d actually Allows this type of worship.

          • Sharbano says:

            I should also say how is this different than those who actually worshiped the calf.

          • Dina says:

            Con, “Jesus isn’t worshiped for his own sake,” but he is worshiped.

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            It is an absurdity to say that anyone can “hand over the kingdom to the father”. It is absurd also to say that an object of worship is to be worshipped for the sake of another. (I do not use the word “absurd” pejoratively, but descriptively.)

            Jim

        • Dina says:

          Besides, you could get all the wacko environmentalist tree huggers to join your cult and fatten your coffers. Sounds like a plan!

  10. Dina says:

    Chanukah is over, but here’s a last hurrah, an inspiring video from Aish:

    http://www.aish.com/v/ho/Hanukkah-Fighting-the-Darkness-with-Light.html

  11. Dina, with respect, when your argument is Centrally that G- d let rabbinic Judaism survive, so therefore it is true, that is circular reasoning par excellence. Also, the argument doesn’t even hold up when we consider that the oldest copies of the Torah that we have today come from copies preserved by the Dead Sea sectarians, not even an “orthodox” group by your definition. (yes it’s true they preserved the Masoretic text too, but also others.) the point though, the oldest copies, (and those closest to the autographs) come from a sectarian (non surviving) source.

    • Sharbano says:

      Is it Your contention that all Torah scrolls we use today originated from the Dead Sea scrolls? Where did you find this information.

    • Dina says:

      Con, you wrote, “your argument is CENTRALLY that G- d let rabbinic Judaism survive, so therefore it is true” (my emphasis.)

      How do you read that this is my central argument? It’s a side point. My central argument has been Deuteronomy 4.

      Nevertheless.

      God promised to protect the righteous remnant of Israel. The survival of my people is nothing short of miraculous. No other nation or group of people withstood the pressures to disappear and made it. When Christianity was forcibly imposed on Europe, it did not take long for the Picts, the Druids, the Norsemen, to disappear. And they were not persecuted anywhere near to the same extent as the Jews. Over eighty expulsions, numberless mass murders, public executions, forced conversions, and attempted genocides culminating with the Holocaust, and we’re still here.

      Through it all, numerous schisms opened up in the Jewish community. Time and time again, the group that remained was the rabbinic faction. Given the unusual prediction that we would survive, and that we did, against all odds; and given that God promised his protection to only the righteous remnant and that with 100% consistency the rabbinic group is the only one to survive–well, these conditions render false your charge of circular reasoning.

  12. Concerned Reader says:

    The key word here is worship, but not for his own sake, but worshiped nonetheless. Where do you find that G-d actually Allows this type of worship.

    In all the instances in the Tanakh where Hashem is speaking with his full authority, and getting the reaction. From humans prompting their worship, ie those involved are asking for blessings from supposed angels, prostrating, asking for redemption, preservation, Joshua 5, Genesis 48:16, etc. The burning Bush, etc. in all of these instances there are “angels” (apparently limited created beings, though Christians would say it can’t be mere angels based on what is happening,) that nonetheless are treated by the people present as though Hashem himself is present and speaking with them. They engage in actions which can only be properly explained as worship, and G-d does not stop them! It s this phenomenon of G-ds word speaking through these events that Christians call Logos/son of G-d. Christians draw the distinction between the uncreated still small voice, and the natural phenomenon (angels, “men,”etc.) this is called hypostatic union as it relates to Jesus.

    In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in VARIOUS ways, (these phenomenon above) 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he BECAME AS MUCH (as relating to his human nature) superior to the angels as THE NAME he has inherited is superior to theirs.(because it is his name, reflecting his presence.)

    We all know that in the Tanakh certain phenomenon carry hashem’s name, and speak as though they are Hashem himself.

    • Sharbano says:

      I guess we can call this Xtianese. When a religion changes the original definition how can they be trusted with anything related. None of the instances you cite relate to worship. If you are a scholar have you not studied Tractate Avodah Zara.
      Apparently the text you cite is from the Xtians book of Hebrews. This indicates to me the authors were unlikely even Jewish. There is a method by which we study Torah and not a single instance can be seen in ANY of the Xtian writings. If it were the case they happen to be Jews then certainly they were 100% Hellenized and nothing Jewish remained. It would take very little reading of Talmud to see how a Jew approaches learning Torah. These writers show no resemblance. Your fixation on this “logos” is evidence to that fact. It is a Greek, Hellenistic philosophy, Not Jewish. How can you say you are here to learn when you rely on Greek thought instead of Jewish. Also it is apparent from the text you cite that the writer didn’t understand the nuance of the Hebrew language, otherwise he would understand the “essence” of the language itself and its construct.

  13. Concerned Reader says:

    The question could be stated if G-d said I will not appear in a form, and I will not be worshipped as such, why does he do it and moreover why does he allow worshipful actions during these occurrences? All of the interpretations you give for how he wont or doesn’t do this are explicitly contradicted by the text. You can interpret your way out of these verses in deference to your halachic ruling (as I used to do ) or you can read the text for what it’s saying, and then showing you is happening. That’s the problem I have with the interpretations on offer. Your view can be reconciled consistently through interpretation to say G-d doesn’t appear, and he doesn’t get worshipped in a form. The problem is, in the text, this actually does happen on several occasions.

    • Sharbano says:

      Who WROTE the text, “You” or the Jews. You come to the text with a preconceived philosophy and therefore come to the conclusion to “Fit” that philosophy. Since you are unable to imagine anything BUT the physical you are unable to fathom that which is beyond. How many times must it be said the level at which G-d resides is far from our physical level and therefore G-d is hidden, as the Hebrew language signifies. This is only understood by understanding the nature and essence of the Hebrew language, which evidently the Xtian writers were ignorant of.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Christians understand that you heard G-d speak, but they know it was a process. The entire bible is filled with events that don’t fit a neat little pattern. There is change, there is struggle, there are moments when the people (minus a remnant) forgot a lot, etc.

        • Sharbano says:

          Those people who “forgot a lot” undoubtedly were the first Xtians, as they didn’t Know how to understand what is written. This is surely evident by what is written regarding Stephen, and the numerous changes of the text by Paul.

        • Dina says:

          That remnant is not exactly parenthetical. It is the key to our survival and the integrity of our mesorah.

    • Concerned Reader
      You argue that we “interpret our way out of these verses in deference to our halachic ruling” –
      You have been commenting on this blog for some time now – did you learn anything? Is it “our halachic ruling” that moves us to explain the verses the way we do or is it the testimony from Sinai? Have you dismissed Deuteronomy 4 as Moses’ personal halachic ruling and excluded it from your canon of Scripture? If you have done so – can you not appreciate that we have not taken this radical step?
      Not that I expect you to understand what I wrote here –

      • Rabbi, I can appreciate what was said by Moses in Deuteronomy. I’ve tried to explain to you multiple times though that Christians know 1 that G-d is not a form. 2 he is not limited to Jesus. The notion that G-d’s word can come through an apparently limited phenomenon is attested by scripture multiple times, including Deuteronomy, because it is Moses’ recounting. I’m not ignoring what Moses said, but noting that the way the content is conveyed in scripture makes room for the Christian faith structure to arise from the Tanakh. As Annalise said the point was ( to paraphrase ) in the Christian perspective, the Christian view can be reconciled and flow from the Bible, and doesn’t need another source.

        • Concerned Reader
          That God’s word can come to earth through multiple phenomenon is not the subject of our debate. Our debate is if God can be worshiped through the worship of multiple phenomenon. Read Deuteronomy 4 with this question in mind and tell me with a straight face that it is only a Jewish obsession with halacha that has us rejecting your claims.

          • Did I say obsessed? I said in deference to your halachic ruling. You say that G-d will not take a form, and that he will not be worshipped in such a form. I am saying That this interpretation is problematic based on the events in scripture. We both agree that G-d is not a form, we agree that he is not limited to a form, we are merely noting that you say he won’t do things which he has in fact done in scripture before, and after giving the Torah without there being a contradiction to this law. It’s simple really. Deuteronomy 4 says, do not deal corruptly to make a likeness for yourselves of any shape, for you saw no form the day The Lord spoke, you heard only a voice. We Get It. WE ARE NOT TO MAKE IMAGES. This was not G-d saying “see I will never appear in a form, or be worshipped as such.” You are making a practical law into a metaphysical principle not explicit from scripture, that’s the problem.

          • Dina says:

            Con, just jumping in here, you wrote that you get it, Deuteronomy 4 teaches that us not to make images. Do you really think that’s all it teaches?

            If Mr. Schmoe decided that God manifested as a burning bush, and therefore the bush is worthy of being worshiped, he could justify it by saying that he doesn’t worship bushes, he doesn’t make images of bushes, he simply worships the one bush that God manifested as, the one that is God but that God is not limited to, etc. So he prays to God, the bush, and the fire, his very own trinity. In his house you will not find a painting of so much as a landscape with a blade of grass. He never makes images.

            If you really believe Deuteronomy 4 is about not making images, then tell me what is wrong with Mr. Schmoe’s worship.

          • Dina says:

            Con, Christians don’t make images? In what universe?

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            In answer to your comment here: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/channuka-excerpt-from-contra-brown/#comment-16341

            I see what you mean when you say that you emphasize things differently than R’ Blumenthal, or indeed the Torah. You capitalize the prohibition on making images. Somehow this allows you to ignore the introduction, which remains uncapitalized (i.e. de-emphasized.) Moses could easily have reminded the people not to make images. But he does not do that. He begins by reminding them that God did not represent Himself to them in a form. If you capitalized this, you might have understood the passage better. The way you read the passage makes Moses’ introduction superfluous. Perhaps he just likes the sound of his own voice.

            Let us try a different capitalization: “SINCE YOU SAW NO FORM WHEN THE LORD SPOKE TO YOU AT HOREB OUT OF THE FIRE, TAKE CARE AND WATCH YOURSELVES CLOSELY….” This, which you seem to take as meaningless introduction, indicates that one is not to associate God with a physical form. God specifically did not present Himself thus, so as not to give the impression that He was like any created thing. Moses is linking the prohibition of idolatry with the experience at Sinai. They are not to conceive of God as having physicality, whatsoever. If he is only telling them not to make images of God, these words are unnecessary.

            In fact, he does not only prohibit the crafting of images. He tells them not to worship the objects in the sky. The prohibition is against the worship of any created thing. One should not worship animals, humans, the sun, moon, or stars. God made sure not to present an image, so that the mind would never associate Him with these things. So, in fact, one is prohibited from worshiping Jesus.

            If you are going to change the emphasis of passages this way, you might as well rewrite Exodus 20.3 in the following manner: “YOU SHALL HAVE (no) OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.” (“Well, what he really means is one that you worship for his own sake, rather than God’s sake.”) One can readily see that such re-emphasizing and de-emphasizing is really rewriting.

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            That’s exactly right, and I’d like to emphasize that by quoting the first verse in the Torah:

            “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

            God created everything. Everything that is created owes its existence to the Creator. It is a logical impossibility for the Creator to become the created and owe His own existence to Himself.

            What is created is not worthy of worship as divine. It is a logical impossibility for the Creator to become unworthy of worship.

          • Jim says:

            Dina,

            And it is impossible for the created to hand over creation to the Creator.

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            Right-o, Jim!

    • Dina says:

      Con, it is disingenuous for you to appeal to the plain meaning of the text. When it suits you, you argue that the text is unreliable; when it suits you, you argue that we should follow the plain meaning. How do you arbitrarily decide which passages are reliable and which are not? Arguing Scripture with you has become an exercise in futility.

      You say that Moses’s account is second-hand (eyewitness accounts are generally considered first-hand, but never mind). By your own logic, then, the texts you are citing are third hand. Of course, I don’t buy your logic.

      And I’ll tell you what’s wrong with your argumentation. All your proofs are accounts of people encountering messengers of God, not teachings on how to worship God. So if you want to appeal to the plain meaning of the text, how about this:

      Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:11; Isaiah 42:5; Exodus 20:2-5; Numbers 23:19; Deuteronomy 4:35;
      Ibid 4:39; Ibid 6:4; Ibid 6:14; I Samuel 15:29; 1 Chonicles 8:60; Isaiah 40:25; Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 43: 10-11; Isaiah 44: 6-8; Hosea 13:4

      These are clear teachings about how to worship God.

      Finally, although you reject our interpretation, you have not shown that it is not Scripturally based. For example, Hosea identifies Jacob’s assailant as God (12:4). In Genesis and Numbers in the angelic encounters of Hagar and Balaam, the Angel and the Lord are used interchangeably.

      The problem for you is that Scripture repudiates your interpretation of how to worship God while it supports our interpretation.

      • Dina says:

        Oops! I meant to write that Hosea identifies Jacob’s assailant as an angel.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        You say that Moses’s account is second-hand (eyewitness accounts are generally considered first-hand, but never mind).

        Deuteronomy Is second hand regarding the national revelation claim that you emphasize. (I’m Not Questioning that Moses was an eyewitness to the Sinai event, or even Moses’ authorship) how is that hard for you to understand?

        If I tell you “hey, remember when we all as a group saw the Tohoku earthquake? You were there, you saw it,” but the account that I describe this event in detail in was written several years after the event, to a changing generation (ie many people remained who actually were there for the event, while the young people at the time the account was written and recited actually weren’t, but heard about it, it does not have the same thrust of a national revelation the way you make it sound. while the source is an eyewitness one, it, and it’s details, are recorded long after the actual event transpired, and more details are added from the story in Moses’ telling of it in Deuteronomy. The passages in Exodus make it clear that Israel heard something, but that they were far away, scared, and fell into Sin almost immediately after the event. Moses and Aaron however were closer, and it seems they got a better understanding of what exactly happened at the time then everyone else in the nation. They served to clarify things later.

        This blog is always knocking the Christian texts for not being eyewitness accounts that are contemporaneous with Jesus or the events described. When you place so much of an emphasis on your national revelation claim as so unique that it’s treated like a lynchpin to some of your arguments, but then you show that most of the thrust of your reading comes from a text written after the events in question, it shows that the way you are presenting things isn’t so clear as you say. That’s all I’m saying.

        How can you compartmentalize the text to say, “here is how G-d expects to be worshipped” vs “here is how he acts, and appears to act before and after Sinai to people in scripture.” If G-d doesn’t want to confuse things, why does he have the Malach speaking in the first person as if to say “I am G-d” on several occasions? It’s simple really. Why cause the confusion at all?

        • Sharbano says:

          Confusion?? WE are not confused. WE understand the literary style. WE understand the why. How many times does the same thing have to be explained.

          • Dina says:

            Right, Con, I made the same point as Sharbano on another thread. This question never occurs to Jews. It occurs only to Christians who approach the Hebrew Scriptures with an answer, then find questions to match.

        • Sharbano says:

          What do you think the book of Devarim IS? What is its purpose? Why was it written??

        • Dina says:

          Con, do you not see the difference between a clear teaching on worship and a story that is not at all a teaching on how to worship?

          Even if I accepted your understanding of Scripture, there is no confusion at all in the very clear passages I cited above. Read them again. They as clear as clear can be.

          Therefore, your understanding of all those stories where it seems that God manifested in a physical form are COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. I have shown you many times why this is so but you have not answered me on this. Remember, even if I accepted your understanding, which of course I don’t.

          Having said that, I’d like to point out that God told Moses that no man can see Him and survive to tell the tale–so now you need to explain how all these people gazed upon God and lived to fight another day, when even the greatest prophet of them all could not. Why didn’t God say, sure, I’ll manifest as Mr. Wigglesworth, and we can chat over a cuppa?

          You also have to explain why God would emphasize, time and time again throughout Tanach, that He is not a man, that He will share His glory with no one, that there is no Savior beside for Him, that we should have no other gods before Him, if He wanted to sneakily teach us the opposite by including passages where He manifests in physical form and where the physical form is worshiped as God. (I say sneakily because, as you must surely know, people only started understanding these passages the way you do after Jesus was apotheosized; until then and even after among Jews and non-Christians it NEVER occurred to anyone to understand the stories you cite the way you do. Why does that not bother you? If the meaning is so plain, why did it take so long to figure it out?)

          To conclude, we reconcile–in a Scripturally-supported way–all those stories with God’s extremely clear teaching on monotheism. Keep in mind that in hermeneutics the clear passages shed light on the unclear, not the other way around.

          You, on the other hand, are not reconciling these stories with God’s teaching on monotheism. Instead, you make God out to be a liar (God forbid!).

      • I’ve admitted that they are based on scripture, and that Christians see things this way too, but that isn’t enough for you apparently.

        • It’s a recitation, repeating, and clarification of the Torah written quite a while after the national revelation. Most of the text is written by Moses, and part by Joshua, or some other author, as it recounts events post Moses.

        • Dina says:

          My quibble with you is you discredit Deuteronomy 4 because it’s “only” a second hand account but then go on to support your theology with other passages from the Torah. I don’t see how we can have an honest debate under those circumstances.

          If you want to recant on Deuteronomy 4, that would be fine.

  14. Sharbano says:

    I just wonder, do Xtians think Jews just happened to find a Torah scroll some 2000 years ago and came up with what “they” thought the text means. That’s been the impression I’ve gleaned from Xtians for many decades now. Evidently our Sages really didn’t have a reliable Tradition that taught them Torah.

  15. Jim says:

    Con,

    You repeat, as if by repetition something becomes true, a rather bizarre and obviously false argument—all of the ingredients for Christianity come from Judaism without any other (i.e. non-Jewish influences). I do not know what is more bizarre about this claim, the fact that it is so obviously untrue or that you maintain it in light of the fact that it has been shown to be untrue in conversations you have had on this board.

    For example, the Trinity is not a Torah concept. I showed in a comment somewhere that Augustine was convinced of it from the Neo-Platonists. He did not get it from the “Old Testament”. He did assert, groundlessly, that Plato must have gotten the idea from Jeremiah when the two were in Egypt, by his reckoning at the same time. Their meeting is a fabrication of Augustine’s, necessary because if there is no such meeting, he cannot explain how Plato has a concept of the Trinity. But this does not solve his dilemma, because he assumes that Jeremiah must have known about the Trinity, although he does not bring one proof from Jeremiah. He only assumes Jeremiah must have known about it, because Augustine holds a belief in the Trinity. Underlying his argument is the admission that, although one can read the Trinity into the Torah, as he would do, one cannot derive the Trinity from the Torah. It is a Platonic idea.

    When I brought this to your attention, you did not address this issue at all. You began to write about Philo’s Trinitarian ideas, or the logos in Philo, or some such thing. But Philo, while Jewish, was influenced by outside ideas. He was Hellenized. His ideas were not strictly derived from Torah. He was attempting to reconcile Judaism with certain Greek ideas. Just because he was himself Jewish does not mean that no ideas foreign to Torah entered his work.

    Another idea foreign to Torah, but essential to Christianity, is the doctrine that a man-god would have to die for the sins of the world. This is nowhere in Torah. Nowhere can you find a teaching that the only way to be right with God is through sacrifice, and certainly not through human sacrifice. Even Isaiah 53, which is the chapter most often cited by Christians to support their idea that the Messiah would die does not establish the idea that without a perfect human sacrifice, one is unable to come to God.

    These ideas and others are foreign to Torah. Because some Jews somewhere believed them, does not mean that the Torah birthed them. The Jewish people have had contact with many different people. And some Jews have been enticed by their philosophies. Some have invented their own philosophies. These Jews have served as midwives to foreign doctrines, but those ideas are not Jewish. They do not originate in Torah.

    Jim

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Jim Philo supported, observed, and practiced Torah observance, so while he employs Greek thought, he is no more an authentic Hellenist in his ideas than is the Rambam, or Saadia Gaon is Hellenistic or Muslim. The facts are that the Logos is in Philo, and similar ideas are still in Judausm, though the “messenger” in questionis deemed created, with a name like that of his master. It is not sophistry or deception on my part to say that all the details are in Tanakh of an apparent “messenger” who actually speaks as Hashem in the first person, despite apparently being distinct from Hashem. These ideas are in the Torah, and when the patriarchs encountered this being, there was no question that they said they saw and spoke to G-d. The understanding you have of Deuteronomy 4 is also shared by the NT and the Church btw, or did you forget these:

      Tatian the Syrian (the man who wrote the first gospel Harmony known as The Diatessaron)

      “Our God has no introduction in time. He alone is without beginning, and is himself the beginning of all things. God is a spirit, not attending upon matter, but the maker of material spirits and of the appearances which are in matter. He is invisible, being himself the Father of both sensible and invisible things” (Address to the Greeks 4 [CE 170]).

      Athenagoras
      “I have sufficiently demonstrated that we are not atheists, since we acknowledge one God, unbegotten, eternal, invisible, INCAPABLE OF BEING ACTED UPON (that means change,) incomprehensible, unbounded, WHO IS KNOWN ONLY BY UNDERSTANDING AND REASON who is encompassed by light and beauty and spirit and indescribable power, by whom all things, through his Word, have been produced and set in order and are kept in existence” (Plea for the Christians 10 [CE 177]).

      Irenaeus
      “Far removed is the Father of all from those things which operate among men, the affections and passions. He is simple, NOT composed of parts, WITHOUT STRUCTURE, altogether like and equal to himself alone. He is all mind, all spirit, all thought, all intelligence, all reason . . . all light, all fountain of every good, and this is the manner in which the religious and the pious are accustomed to speak of God” (Against Heresies 2:13:3 [CE 189]).

      Origen
      “Since our mind is in itself unable to behold God as he is, it knows the Father of the universe from the beauty of his works and from the elegance of his creatures. (By the design) God, therefore, is not to be thought of as being either a body or as existing in a body, but as a simple intellectual being, admitting within himself no addition of any kind” (Fundamental Doctrines 1:1:6 [CE 225]).

      “John says in the gospel, ‘No one has at ANY TIME (That includes while Jesus lived folks,) seen God,’ clearly declaring to all who are able to understand, that there is no nature to which God is visible, not as if he were indeed visible by nature, and merely escaped or baffled the view of a frailer creature, but because he is by nature IMPOSSIBLE to be seen” (ibid. 1:1:8).

      In the above references, we can be certain, indeed absolutely certain, that G-d has no composition, parts, or earthly likeness of any kind, and that he can be likened to nothing upon the earth, or in the heavens, or indeed above them in perfect harmony with Deuteronomy 4. Seeing G-d in both Testaments is a metaphor for knowing about G-d.

      I am not asking anyone here to abandon their religion, I’m only noting that ours (should the knowledge be made known) reflects the same truth though it’s in
      a distinct form. If you really want to stick it to the missionaries, than show the Church, using its own text, that it contains no truths that you don’t already posses from Tanakh. If you can show them that there is nothing new, but rather concepts that need more elucidating, the missionaries will have no ground.

      • Sharbano says:

        A person’s claim is subject to the facts at hand. There is within Xtianity a worship, as a god, the one named Jsus. As I recall, in the book of revelation, it considers this man as being the one and only Creator. When Jsus says do this thing in remembrance, using HIS blood and body, he HAS created a new form of worship, which is, of a man.

      • Dina says:

        Con, every history that I have read about Philo describes him as a Hellenized Jew who attempted to harmonize Greek philosophy with the Torah. He was not a Pharisee! How Torah observant he may have been is not relevant.

        Hellenists, even Jewish ones who kept some observances, are not a part of our tradition. No Jews have been following their ideas for at least 2000 years.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Con, every history that I have read about Philo describes him as a Hellenized Jew who attempted to harmonize Greek philosophy with the Torah. He was not a Pharisee! How Torah observant he may have been is not relevant.

          Dina, Rambam does the exact same thing with Aristotle’s philosophy’s, that Philo does with Plato, yet you support him. His observance of the Torah is absolutely relevant, as it shows him to be a good faithful Jew. It doesn’t matter if he was a Pharisee or not, his thought has pharisaic counterparts and resonances, and there was more than one sect of Judaism in his time. If Philo was such a Hellenist why does he chastise those who abandon halachic observance? It’s extremely relevant.

          • Dina says:

            Yes, and I responded to this by explaining that Philo was first schooled in Greek philosophy, then tried to fit the Torah into it. Whereas the Rambam was first schooled in Torah. He appreciated whatever it was in Greek philosophy that fit with the Torah and rejected the rest. You can’t see the difference?

      • Jim says:

        Con,

        Thank you for admitting that Philo employed Greek thought. This supports my contention that Christianity employs elements foreign to Judaism, elements that do not come out of Torah. Thank you for your acknowledgement that your argument that Christianity relies on nothing but Torah was erroneous. Greek elements have been mingled with Jewish elements.

        The quotes add nothing to the discussion and are irrelevant, so I have nothing to say regarding them. They only distract from the topic.

        Regarding your advice, I cannot imagine heeding it. In fact, Christianity contains many doctrines that do not originate in the Torah, as you have just admitted. I cannot violate the truth, and pretend that there is nothing new in the New Testament. Just because it draws upon some things from the Torah, that does not justify its gross abuse of Torah, its blatant misrepresentations. (I know that you deny such misrepresentations, but you could not defend even the first so-called “midrash” of the NT.)

        I have elsewhere shown how Jesus actually redefined Jewish Passover. You can in no way maintain that the NT did not introduce elements foreign to Judaism, foreign to the Torah. These things did not simply arise as natural outgrowths of Torah. Their teachings are not found in Torah. They are perversions of Torah.

        Moreover, the Trinity and the need for a perfect human sacrifice, as well as other Christian doctrines are not rooted in Torah. They are sometimes supported after their acceptance by the abuse of Torah, but they are not derived from Torah. Augustine as much as admitted this, but this point you continue to ignore, and the reason is obvious: it cannot be denied. Your argument that all Christian doctrine can be found in the Torah is mere posturing and blatantly false.

        You say that I should show the missionaries how the Jews already have Christian doctrine and need not convert. This would be a grave disservice to the truth and to the missionary. In fact, it is not just the Jew who ought not worship the man Jesus, but the non-Jew as well. Just like the Jew, the non-Jew owes his allegiance only to his Maker. My devotion, and the missionary’s as well, should only be given to Hashem. And it is to his detriment to rewrite the Torah into his own image rather than learn the ways of Hashem.

        But not only that, he should leave not just the Jew alone, but the non-Jew. I recognize that the Christian missionary believes he is doing me and others a good by sharing with us the gospel. He believes that he has found a medicine for our diseased souls. However, he is in error, and he is instead practicing quackery. No, it is worse than mere quackery. He does not offer something which is merely ineffective, but something which is poison to the soul. He diverts one from worshipping God to worshipping a man.

        (I know that you will reiterate that the Christian does not worship Jesus qua man, but only the divinity within him. You should refer to my parable of the Golden Calf above. Idolatry was never related to the matter but the supposed spirit of an object. Your assertion that Jesus had any divinity is an unfounded belief. It is even contradicted by certain acts and teachings of his life. So, whether you or the missionary tries to convince me that worship of a man is acceptable, I must reject the notion. Your unfounded attribution of divinity to him makes no difference. He is still an idol, no different than one who worshipped the spirit of the Nile, the golden calf, or Horace’s Tree. Supposing divinity in the object of worship does not make it divine.)

        So I must reject your unsolicited advice.

        Jim

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Thank you for admitting that Philo employed Greek thought. This supports my contention that Christianity employs elements foreign to Judaism, elements that do not come out of Torah. Thank you for your acknowledgement that your argument that Christianity relies on nothing but Torah was erroneous.

          NO JIM! YOU MISS THE POINT. Judaism itself doesn’t rely exclusively on the Torah as evidenced by every one of its major philosophers, so your argument means nothing. Saadia Gaon is indebted to Islam, Rambam’s son Abraham is indebted to Sufism, Rambam himself to Aristotle, and Hasdai Crescas to both Aristotle and Plato. Your entire argument that Christianity has foreign influence. And must be rejected by Christians, is so spurious that I don’t even know how to respond. If you throw Philo out because of influences, be prepared to throw out many others who employ similar methods and diverse sources.

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            I am sorry, but you miss the point, not I. It is your contention that one need only the Torah to arrive at Christianity. I am countering that. I have not said that no outside philosophers had anything valuable to say. I do not claim and have never claimed that everything non-Jewish is bad. However, you have exaggerated claims that one need only Torah to come to Christianity and nothing else.

            Moreover, you do not analyze the ideas for truth. Rather you appeal only to the Jewishness of the source. As long as a (religious) Jew said it, you imply that it is legitimate rather than analyzing the thought. And further, when we show that it contradicts the Torah in some way, you appeal to their status as Jews. You ignore our arguments and claim legitimacy for an idea merely for having been expressed. And then you misrepresent our arguments by saying that we appeal only to our own tradition. The fact is you only appeal to these other traditions because you think they lend you support, and not because you believe they are legitimately transmitted.

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            Indebted?

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            Also, there is no need to shout. I can read just fine.

            Jim

          • Sharbano says:

            I’d say You are the one who is missing the point. The Greek religion or philosophy are Not used to make “decisions” regarding Torah. There may be philosophical discussions but discussion on philosophy do not have the authority Torah has. Torah IS the guidebook that renders all decisions valid, not philosophy of the Greeks.

  16. Jim says:

    Con,

    Reposting a two-month old comment you have either not noticed or neglected. You continue to assert the unfounded notion that Jesus was divine and came to show the gentiles the way to God. You have never answered any of these points:

    It is an incorrect notion that Jesus was God come among us to live to teach us how to live. It is very obvious why this is a fallacy, so I shall attempt to be brief—not Twitter brief, but brief.

    1. The number of people exposed directly to Jesus’ life is very few. They would be the only ones who could observe his life and deduce from it the correct lifestyle. Everyone else would have to hear it from stories.

    2. Most of Jesus’ life was not reported. This leaves us with a real dearth of information on how to conduct ourselves. For example, if Jesus was a carpenter, we never see how he conducted his business, so his life offers no guidance. Also, how he conducted himself in private is unknown.

    3. Jesus never married or had children. His life can serve as no guide on how one is to conduct himself as a husband or parent. If he had been married, his life would serve as no guide on how to be a wife.

    4. Christians learn more by Jesus’ teachings than his example. This is for an obvious reason. There is much more about what he taught than what he said. Teaching is not example. And the Torah already existed for that.

    5. Jesus’ life could not serve as a guide for the gentile. Jesus was a Jew and bound by Torah. The life of a gentile is a little different, and they would have no guidance in those areas of difference.

    6. Jesus broke the Sabbath. As a Jew, he was obligated to keep it. His violation of the Sabbath should not be emulated.

    7. Jesus did not honor his mother. When he was 12, he goes missing without permission, making her worry. He has not the grace to apologize but answers contemptuously. At Cana, he addresses her disrespectfully. His violation of the commandment to honor one’s parents should not be emulated.

    8. He stole some pigs.

    9. Upon finding a fig tree devoid of figs (for it was not the season), he selfishly and petulantly shriveled the tree, denying any future fig-seekers the pleasure of finding figs. Neither selfishness nor petulance should be emulated.

    10. Virtually nobody knew that he was God, not even his disciples it seems. Therefore, those who were there to observe him could not have been, at the time, studying his actions carefully to deduce proper action.

    Quick summation:

    Because Jesus was not known to be God, people could not know to carefully observe his behavior. (Not that he was God. Please let no one think such a thing.) His life was not widely observed. Much of it was not observed at all. Most of that was not even recorded. So his example serves little practical purpose. Among that which was recorded are violations of the commandments. So, his life could not serve as an example, both because of the low quantity of his known acts and the low quality of them.

    Jim
    Reply

    • Concerned Reader says:

      I did answer these Jim. In regard to stealing pigs, thats a misquote,. Jesus drove demons into pigs, he stole nothing.

      • Jim says:

        Con,

        They were not his pigs into which he cast the pigs. The swineherds ran away afterward, which shows that they were not free-roaming pigs. He stole them.

        Jim

        • Dina says:

          Con, why is it okay to cast demons into someone else’s animals?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Better question Dina, why were people in Israel raising swine? Jesus did those folks a favor.

          • Dina says:

            The swineherds were Israelites? The NT doesn’t say. Did you know that the Romans lived among the Jews in that time period?

        • Dina says:

          Why would it have been okay for Jesus to abolish the kosher laws and violate the Sabbath and abolish the fast days?

        • Jim says:

          Con,

          You do not know that they were Jewish swineherds. There were non-Jews living in Israel. The New Oxford Annotated actually footnotes that the area was heavily populated by non-Jews.

          Even if they were Jewish pigs, what gives him the right to take them? He offered no reproof to those raising them. He did not take them to court. He just took their pigs, their livelihood, made use of it and destroyed it. Even if they were not to own the pigs, he stole them.

          Jim

  17. Pingback: Definitions – An Open Letter to “Concerned” Reader | 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources

  18. Concerned Reader says:

    1.The number of people exposed directly to Jesus’ life is very few. They would be the only ones who could observe his life and deduce from it the correct lifestyle. Everyone else would have to hear it from stories. Same is true with the Torah narrative Jim! Think about it. The covenant was reviewed several times after national revelation, to up and coming generations.

    2. Most of Jesus’ life was not reported. This leaves us with a real dearth of information on how to conduct ourselves. For example, if Jesus was a carpenter, we never see how he conducted his business, so his life offers no guidance. Also, how he conducted himself in private is unknown.

    There are many things unknown (even in Judaism) because some issues are still under discussion.

    3. As you note, the Torah exists already: and Christians employ its wisdom, if even not observing Jewish Law. Look at Christian manuals like the Didache, and tell me, which text does it quote from more? Hebrew Bible or NT? Your mockery notwithstanding, I have answered you.

    • Jim says:

      Con,

      What mockery?

      Jim

      • Dina says:

        I second that, Con. Jim has been very respectful.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Asking me to answer questions that have already been answered, as if I’ve dodged questions, is not respectful.

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            When I copied these points, I saw no answer to them. I am unaware of any pre-existing answer. Also, I did not say that you dodged them. I even said that you may not have seen them.

            Even so, these are largely non-answers. You have insisted on the perfection of Jesus, a perfection that if he had you could not know. And yet I’ve shown that there are multiple failings on his part.

            It does no good to be so thin-skinned. No one made you come in here and insist that we accept the worship of Jesus as legitimate. If you are going to “correct” us, you will need to be more willing to be contradicted than this.

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            Con, it seems to me you haven’t answered questions that have been repeatedly asked. You may have good reason for not addressing them, but it is fair to assume you are dodging. We could just as easily say that it is disrespectful of you to ignore us, couldn’t we?

    • Jim says:

      Con,

      It was your argument that Jesus’ life was meant to serve as an example. However, I have shown that his life shows no such thing, because it was not much observed, people did not know to observe it, and little of his actual living was reported. Worse, among some of the things reported about hims are character flaws and sins, which means that he did not live a perfect life to serve as an example. Your replies do not address this issue.

      No one claims that Moses came to live an exemplary life to be observed, or Abraham, or David. No one claimed that they were divine beings entering into the world so that people would know how to live a good life. Some examples are used from their life to teach lessons, but their lives themselves are not claimed to be examples.

      The fact that not everyone in history was present to receive the Torah misses the point. The Torah is a set of teachings. They are not the same thing as a living example. You claimed Jesus came to be an example. However, there is little of his life to be examined. His teachings you could go over, assuming that the NT gives his teachings accurately, but not his life. But you claimed his life was the example. The comparison to the Torah is irrelevant on these grounds.

      (This is to say, my challenge was not to the establishment of Christianity because of its lack of eyewitnesses. It is a response to a different claim, one you made, that Jesus’ life could serve as an example. Since you know virtually nothing about his life, it does not serve as an example to you.)

      The fact that Christians quoted from the Hebrew Bible is irrelevant to the topic. The topic is whether or not Jesus, as part of the godhead, entered into the world to show people how to live. The fact that Christians quote from the Hebrew Bible to learn moral lessons only shows the value they placed on that book, not the validity of Jesus’ life (as opposed to his teachings) as a moral guide.

      Once again, I feel compelled to remind you to pay attention to the topic. You are clearly responding not to the argument, but what you expect the argument to be. Also, your implication that I am using a double-standard does not establish Jesus’ life as exemplary. It is a mere changing of the topic. You have failed to address, and possibly understand, my arguments in any meaningful way.

      Jim

  19. Jim says:

    Con,

    I was thinking and it occurred to me that you might be confused why I dismissed the quotes from various church fathers above. It might seem as if I was saying that I did not care what they had to say, that I was, in effect, sticking my fingers in my ears and saying, “I don’t hear you.” So I want to explain why I said that they are irrelevant.

    You have consistently misrepresented the argument. No one holds that Christians took nothing from Torah. No one holds that Christians never said anything correct or good. However, you have asserted that the source of all Christian doctrine is Judaism. This point is untrue.

    When you quote Church fathers who affirmed some point of Christianity in line with Torah, that does not weigh in on the question of the elements foreign to Torah. Showing that some portion agrees with Torah does not show that it all agrees with Torah. So, when a Christian says that one should worship Hashem, there is no point of contention. When he says that one should worship Jesus, this is the point of contention. In this way, their quotes are no help to you, because they do not relate to the points of contention. Surely you realize that the same mouth may affirm at one time a truth and at another time a lie. It has even been known to happen regarding the same issue. Human beings frequently contradict themselves.

    So, when you cherry-pick a quote that affirms a Torah truth, it has nothing to do with the quotes of those men that affirm arguments foreign to the Torah. In fact, we would be well within our rights to ask how many of them agree with your interpretation of Xtianity that makes Jesus the redeemer of the gentiles and not of the Jews. I think you will find that they agree with you much less than you suppose.

    So, when I say that it is irrelevant, I am not dismissing their ideas because they are Christian. I am not expressing disinterest in their opinions and affirmations. I am only pointing out that the quotes you have chosen do not weigh on the issue. The question is not whether they affirmed certain Torah truths; the question is whether or not elements of the Christian faith contradict the Torah.

    And we have seen over the course of the past several months, many ways in which the Christian faith contradicts Torah. For example, Jesus rewrote the meaning of Passover (an eternal festival), drawing attention away from God and to himself. We have seen that your assertion that Jesus is like Moses is false; the worship of Jesus is nothing like the respect shown Moses as God’s prophet. It has been shown that one should not worship a God different from the one as revealed at Sinai, “a god you have not known,” which makes the worship of Jesus a crime a grave sin. You told us once that when your position is shown to be in error that you recant. You have recanted on none of these that I know of, or any other significant point of error that you have made.

    You have continued, in fact, to justify Christian devotion to Jesus by mentioning various angels. You cannot show that those angels were Jesus, but that is not even the real problem with your argument. The real problem is that none of those occasions began a new and competing religion or even a new practice within Judaism. Not on any one of the occasions you suppose to have been a divine manifestation, was a new practice instituted. None of them were joined to a ceremony in the temple. And yet, you appeal to these occasions as if they indicated some permission to worship a human being.

    One can hardly imagine such a thing! (And I used to be a Christian.)

    If I told you I was divine, would you worship me? Would it be idolatry? How do you know? As long as you aren’t worshipping my body, but asserting that I have a divine spirit that you do worship (in conjunction with God, of course) would it be all right? No. It would not. Assuming my divinity would be a grave error, a disgrace.

    If you wish to worship Jesus, that is your business. However, you do a grave disservice to tell us that we should accept that the worship of a man is acceptable to Hashem. You do a grave disservice to us to urge us to abandon the truth. You do a great disservice to yourself to worship the created, even alongside the Creator.

    I have wandered off the main point. I hope I have not obscured my meaning through my digression.

    Jim

  20. Jim says:

    Con,

    I thought I should point something out regarding your accusation that I misquoted the NT when saying that Jesus stole some pigs. Well, I suppose it is two things, although the first is of minor importance to me, and I only add for the sake of accuracy. That first point is that I did not quote anything at all, and therefore I did not misquote anything.

    The more important point is that you cannot legitimately raise an objection to my misquoting the NT. It has been pointed out time and again that the NT misquotes and misrepresents Tanach. You have dismissed this point and ignored the ignorance or malfeasance of the NT authors time and again. You had no problem, for example, with Matthew altering the words of Isaiah to make a messianic prophecy and a virgin birth where none exists (Isaiah 7.14). If it is a principle that one should properly quote a source so as not to alter its meaning, then you must take up arms against the NT and stop riding to its defense. It it is a principle that one should fairly represent a text, then you must defend the Torah from all those who distort it and cease lending aid to their misrepresentations.

    Jim

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