Brown besmirches Judaism again. He “informs” his readers about “the great contrast between Rabbinic Judaism and the New Covenant Faith”. Brown points to the closing verses in Deuteronomy which speak of Moses unsurpassed greatness. He then contrasts the Christian reading of these verses with what he presents as the Rabbinical reading of these verses. Brown claims that in light of Jesus alleged miracles, Christians are entitled to believe that Jesus was greater than Moses. We will deal with this non-scriptural assertion shortly. For now we will move on to Brown’s presentation of the Rabbinic reading of these verses in Deuteronomy.
I quote; “What does Rabbinic Judaism say about these verses in Deuteronomy 34? Remarkably, there is a saying that goes, “From Moses to Moses there was none like Moses” – referring to none other than Moses Maimonides…”
I find this argument incredible. For starters, Maimonides himself, gave expression to one of the foundations of the Jewish faith by stating that Moses is the greatest prophet, greater than all who preceded him and greater than all who will follow him. No Jew ever believed that Maimonides was greater than or even equal in stature to Moses. The saying: “From Moses to Moses there arose none like Moses” was never presented as an interpretation of the passage in Deuteronomy, or of any other Scriptural passage for that matter. The saying originates from the period of mourning that followed the passing of Maimonides as an exaggeration generated by the grief of the moment that was never meant in a literal sense, and until Brown put this saying in his book, was never understood in a literal sense.
In “great contrast” to Judaism, Christianity completely fails to appreciate the greatness of Moses, and believes that Jesus was greater than him. Christianity’s failure to understand Moses’ stature is not a peripheral mistake. It is not simply a matter of misunderstanding these verses in Deuteronomy. It is a failure to understand the foundations of the faith structure of the Jewish Scriptures.
The faith of the Jewish Scriptures stands on one concept: honesty and credibility. The more credible the concept, the more weight it is given in the theology of Judaism.
All of the miracles of the exodus, the miracles of the wilderness, and the Sinai revelation established the credibility of the two foundational concepts in Judaism: that God is the only true power, and that Moses is His prophet. These miracles are so great because they are so credible, because they go so far in satisfying our sensitivity to truth, our sense of honesty. These were events that were collectively experienced. These events had a tremendous practical impact on the lives of two great nations.
The concept of credibility is the very thrust of these verses in Deuteronomy. The Scripture emphasize that the miracles that were performed through Moses impacted Pharaoh and ALL of his servants and ALL of his land. The Scripture emphasizes that the miracles were done to the eyes of ALL of Israel.
How could these miracles compare to the faith healings of Jesus that only impacted the lives of individuals, were only witnessed by individuals, and were only worked with people who already believed in him (Matthew 13:58)? When we consider the credibility of Jesus’ miracles and/or the lack thereof, Jesus doesn’t even remotely approach Joshua, let alone Moses.
Brown’s pointing to these verses in Deuteronomy as an example of Christianity’s faithfulness to the spirit of Scripture is the height of insolence. The fact that this is coming from a Jew who has been denied his rightful heritage, is heartbreaking.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal