1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources
In the spring of 2010 I wrote a booklet entitled “The Elephant and the Suit” https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/the-elephant-and-the-suit/ . This work is a critique of Dr. Michael Brown’s five volume series in which he attempts to argue for the alleged Messiah-ship of Jesus. Dr. Brown has not responded to my arguments despite his assurances to do so. In light of the silence of Dr. Brown, a different follower of Jesus, Charles Soper, took up his pen to respond to some of my arguments http://strateias.org/ProBrown.pdf . In a 12 page essay, Soper attempts to invalidate two of the arguments that I presented in The Elephant and the Suit.
The first of my arguments that Soper addresses is based on Deuteronomy 4:35. In that passage God points to the knowledge that He imparted to the Jewish people as a sign that His covenant with them still stands. These words are addressed to…
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would value a careful response.
After some consideration, I think that we can agree that you have only enhanced R’ Blumenthal’s argument. Your rebuttal to his arguments shows very clearly how reticent you are to face scripture.
You consider the identity of the Messenger of HaShem to be a central question to this discussion. The centrality of this question is an invention of the Church. If you took the Torah on its own merits, you would see that the question is not central to the Torah at all. You are trying to redefine the conversation. The central issue of the Torah, and especially Deuteronomy 4, has nothing to do with the Messenger of HaShem. Instead of facing the scripture, you are turning away from it to the interpretation of the Church, which is derived not from Torah, but later Church doctrine.
In fact, you admit that the issue hinges on “Who at Sinai revealed Himself,” but then you shut out the voice of the Torah to pretend that it is Jesus. You can make reference to burning bushes, angels, or whatever else you would like to, but none of those are to Whom Deuteronomy 4 refers. “Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of the words but saw no form; there was only a voice” (v. 12). “Since you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire, take care and watch yourselves closely, so that you do not act corruptly by making an idol for yourselves…” (v. 15). Moses is not talking about a messenger. He is emphasizing the very opposite. They saw no form. And yet you ignore this so that you can redefine how God revealed Himself at Sinai.
You treat it as a word game, as if you declare that you are still worshiping God “as He revealed Himself at Sinai” that automatically makes it so. But you ignored the definition attached to that and created your own.
Now consider the lead in to v. 35. What is the testimony of the Jewish people? You wish to make them witnesses to Jesus. Then you can say that the remnant are those who worship a man. But how does that correlate to the verses preceding v.35?
“For ask now about former ages, long before your own, ever since the day that God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of heaven to the other: has anything so great as this ever happened or has its like ever been heard of? Has any people ever heard the voice of a god speaking out of a fire, as you have heard the voice of a god and lived? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation from himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by terrifying displays of power, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?” (vv. 32-34).
Nothing here could possibly lead us to think this is about the angel or the bush or whatever other non-deity you wish to deify. The testimony of the people is based on their direct experience. And it has nothing to do with a man who will live 1300 years later.
But we still have not seen what they are to testify, exactly. That appears in v. 35 itself, a verse you have attempted to subvert to your purpose, but if you had read it with the care you would like your own reads to be read with, you would have noticed that you have ignored the essential element of their testimony: “To you it was shown so that you would acknowledge that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him.” What is this? This is the very opposite of what you want them to testify. You want them to testify to Jesus as messiah and god. But God showed them all this so that they would not imagine another being with Him, so that they could carry the message to the world that “there is no other besides Him.”
And yet, you have told us that being made in the image of God is to be made in a state of relationship to another. This is a blatant contradiction of the facts. You have focused on the witnesses and missed their testimony. You have steadfastly refused to face the scripture, even as you turn it to your own ends.
Continue down to v. 39: “So acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” It is reiterated that God is alone. On the one hand, the Church is urging you to worship bushes, men, and angels. On the other, you have the Torah, emphasizing that “you saw no form” and that “there is no other besides” God.
Like Brown, you started with assumptions and ignored all the scripture that did not conform to those assumptions. You have tried to put a new meaning on the scripture by ignoring the inconvenient. You write that Christian Jews attest to the God as revealed at Sinai, but you ignore what “revealed at Sinai” meant. It meant no form. It was meant to teach one God and no other. It did not attest to the burning bush. It did not attest to an angel. And it certainly did not attest to a man alive more than a millennium after the Sinai event.