Oh How Tricky They Are!
My Jewish education was not what it
should have been. Oh yes I went to
Hebrew School from age 5 to my
Bar Mitzvah.I was brought up an
Orthodox Jew but I knew almost nothing
as far as our Tanach was concerned.
So when I was challenged with Isaiah 53
and Daniel 9:24-27 I eventually fell to the
onslaught of the well trained missionaries
not realizing that their tools actually were mistranslations
and misapplications of our sacred text. Thus
I was led astray from my faith by those who
care for only one thing. That is carving
another notch (a Jew) in their spiritual
revolvers .Some interesting sidelights:.
I spent many years trying to prove to myself
that which I as a Christian was professing
to believe. In other words the longer I spent in Christianity
the less convinced I was of its truth. Isaiah 53 became
a drug to me. I actually turned the pages ragged in
my King James bible from studying it night after night.
This uncertainty led me into depression lacking resolution.
I finally spoke to rabbis and saw the the entire
house of cards called Christianity was just that. The
foundation of Tanach they proudly stated their new
testament was built upon crumbled under the weight
of our Torah, N’veeim, and Ksoovim. What is the answer?
Only one. A real Jewish education so that one can be prepared
for this plague that the Jewish people must deal with today.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
Well, gird thy loins, Tsvi: the historical core of the Pentateuch is a complete fabrication. Do you really want to go down that rabbit hole again?
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
Welcome back! I appreciate your input but I ask you to pause a moment and appreciate the difference between Christianity and Judaism even from your atheistic perspective. Christianity doesn’t work out according to the very documents that it points to in order to validate itself – in other words it is internally inconsistent. Your critique of Judaism is based on studies that stand outside the range of the average student of Judaism.
Yes, I agree completely with you. Christianity is self-defeating because it is internally inconsistent.
Judaism is also self-defeating not because it’s inconsistent but because it’s historically vacant. Although many Jews divert themselves with trying to maintain a ridiculous law in the name of piety, the entire religion served a very different purpose, namely, to unite disparate people into a whole. by creating a special identity… one that serves a military cohesion very necessary for survival as a linguistic culture. That’s why so many Jews today have no problem identifying as culturally Jewish even if they are non believers. Judaism in this sense serves a real world purpose whereas Christianity serves as a death cult and is therefore reasonably fractured into an incoherent and oftentimes incompatible multitude of competing sects. In addition, a very good argument can be made that Christianity in any form that promotes the Jesus figure to be a god is unquestionably idolatry.. in spite of word games and tortured reasoning that attempts to make a trinity. Ironically, that Jesus was said to have believed in so much of the historical accuracy of the Pentateuch demonstrates the figure was as much a god as thee or me who can be fooled by our indoctrinated teachings.
Tildeb I understand that you have a dim view of the Bible as a historical work (and that is putting it mildly) but what do you say about the story with Sennacheirib’s army getting destroyed outside of Jerusalem? From what I know – there is outside historical corroboration for that particular story. In your view – how do you see it? 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
YPF, I read much of the OT as I would any Harry Potter novel: all kinds of references to real places, real people, real events (although as with any aural tradition we find many differences, some quite significant). None of that makes the story itself historical.
The core of Judaism is a mythical creation – and a compilation – for a very real purpose, to make a ‘people’ by creating a war god as the central pillar and unifying leader. This is what survived. The followers of other and more popular gods were defeated in battle and so it’s inevitable that belief in those gods would decline while belief in the harsh and vindictive Yahweh the war god – whose followers were either more successful in battle or whose losses promoted a greater need for a Yahweh – would rise. That’s why we still have so much confusion about which gods are being presented in which bits of scripture. This is what we would expect to find in a compilation versus a divine dictation.
This tactic of creating a people is not unusual. Thomas Jefferson used it in the Declaration, trying to unite disparate colonies and significantly different groups found therein as if they actually formed a cohesive whole people… not by calling upon a common heritage, tongue, religion, or culture but by pointing out a common enemy. That’s why the Declaration is about 80% shared grievances. It’s much easier to align a group of people with a shared complaint than it is to find a common positive identity (especially a historical one that simply never existed). Trying to live Jewish law accomplishes the same: shared suffering. That’s why suffering is so central to the Jewish identity no matter which other languages or cultural backgrounds may make up the people, the ‘chosen’ people; all of that doesn’t matter, you see. What matter is submission to the unifying Dear Leader who will make you suffer even more if you don’t (hence the vast and immoral destructive punishments meted out by Yahweh for trivial disobedient actions).
Tildeb Your theory of the foundations of Judaism is interesting but it remains just that – a theory. Thanks for sharing it. I would venture to say that there would have to be something more to the declaration of independence than a shared grievance. there is something positive that is shared also and that is an appreciation for liberty and justice. Perhaps it was the shared grievances that brought out the appreciation – but the appreciation outlived the grievances and kept them together (sort of) long after the grievances disappeared.
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
Oh, my opinion is far more than a mere hypothesis (which is what you meant when you used the term ‘theory’); it is informed by biblical scholarship, linguistics, anthropology, and history. But my opinion is – as always – subject to change if addressing compelling evidence warrants it.
Regarding the Declaration, of course buzz words are always used as justifications – words that sound sweet and easy to agree with. The Republicans especially excel at abusing them. The framing of ‘all men are born equal’, for example, rarely are but must be understood in context; Jefferson was specifically referring to why primogeniture law (inheritance to the first born male, specifically) needed to be abolished. Again, a grievance. And Groupthink is always most appealing to those who have a weakness in the independent thinking bit. One does like to belong, after all, and suffering shared is suffering halved.
I find your respect for your opinion interesting – one line in your comment begs a question – you wrote that this is what you would expect to find in a compilation versus a divine dictation. Do you have any examples of a divine dictation that you are comparing this to?
Furthermore – if you are going to form an opinion about what observing Jewish Law accomplishes (shared suffering – if I understood you correctly) wouldn’t it be scientific to study the people who actually observe this law?
YPF, you ask, Do you have any examples of a divine dictation that you are comparing this to?
One might think a divine dictation should, at the very least, be free from factual errors. Because billions of people think they know how to discriminate between the two, I simply borrow an absolutely minimum standard and demonstrate how even this fails to elevate scripture to anything more than a compilation of very human and very error prone writing.
You then ask about my claim about suffering being an essential component to drawing people together and that trying to observe Jewish law does just this, wouldn’t it be scientific to study the people who actually observe this law?
Indeed. But in order to do so, one has to come up with a metric to compare and contrast and quantify. I simply use Jewish history and, I think, accomplish the same goal.
tildeb I acknowledge that factual errors preclude the claim of divine dictation – but they still do not prove “compilation.” And when you say that you use “Jewish history” – what sources? 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
YPF, I’m not speaking of ‘proof’ of compilation, I’m speaking of consistency. The factual errors are consistent with the hypothesis of a scriptural man-made compilation.
Sources about Jewish history? Many and varied. Are you suggesting Jewish history is not overflowing with suffering?
Why so much suffering? Is this God’s plan for His Chosen people?
Well, my point is that by following Jewish law, Jews remain a separate and distinct people even when living in other cultures among other people. I’m saying that, by design, following Jewish law makes the Jew into a people but it comes at a huge cost: it is a guaranteed way (a self-anointed way) to become the Other – and treated as the Other – and that this Otherness has regularly and consistently produced a vast amount of suffering… all in the name of using piety as a means to create a people. In other words, the more shared suffering there is because one insists on being Other, the stronger the bond becomes identifying as a people. I think this is the goal of these intentional and often irrational laws and not the health and lifestyle benefits of following them.
Tildeb My understanding is (and please correct me if I am wrong) that those who posit that the Jewish Law is a man-made invention still accept that it was created while Israel was still in its land – in the days of Josiah for example. It s hard to imagine that someone would expect the people to be out of the land for so long and created this system so that his people can suffer so that they remain a people. Is there another example in history where a person designed a system so as to produce suffering in order to get a group to maintain their self-identity?
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
Lots. Such strictures are the outward sign of a particular religious identity. Just look at the rigid instructions for Muslims how to do just about everything… including which direction to face when defecating.
I have no idea what you mean when you talk about Jews to be ‘in the land’. The nomadic nature of many tribes (in the time of the fictional character ‘Moses’) makes this sense of being ‘in the land’ – as if each tribe takes ownership of vast swaths of land over which many different tribes travel – a modern idea transferred backward.
We don’t have to look past the first few commandments to understand that during this time (say, roughly 650 – 600 BCE) there were many gods common to many tribes. You can’t impose the idea of a cohesive ‘Judaism’ backwards when the historical record clearly demonstrates a pantheon of gods not only between tribes but amongst them. But the general religious beliefs were related because of the oral tradition of their history and we see this in common stories between far away regions borrowed and inserted into the local religious practices.
With rise of Yahweh during a time when Hammurabi’s code was held in such esteem, it would be unusual if the idea of code of conduct wasn’t included with an allegiance to a particular religious sect.
I think my term ‘suffering’ is causing you some angst; you may prefer to think of it under the pious term ‘sacrifice’ to get an idea why it’s important to establishing and showing a particular set of sacrificial behaviours throughout one’s day as if this represented ‘proper’ piety. It’s a central controlling feature to all kinds of ideologies. In the case of Jewish law, this is the means to unite other believers into seeing themselves as part of an ideological community separate and distinct from a physical or economic one (although there is no end to how intrusive a religious belief can be pushed by those who make their living and establish their hierarchy in a community from elevating and policing the religious laws of that belief onto believers).
Your comment is confusing to me. The conventional “wisdom” which I (now realize mistakenly) thought that you subscribe to is that the Mosaic code was written in the times of Josiah – when Israel was already united under politically powerful monarch when the tribal affiliation was already merged into national identity. I understood your previous comment to mean that the “inventor” of Judaism wanted his/her people to survive in foreign lands so he gave them a law which would produce suffering/sacrifice and thus keep his people united.
I now realize (and again correct me if I still misunderstood) that you are putting the invention of the Mosaic code back into the times of Hammurabi (which is way before 650 BCE) and the purpose of the code was to unite disparate tribes through a regimen that induces suffering/sacrifice. Which of these, if any, is your position?
And by the way, both words; suffering and sacrifice, do not describe the motive behind Israel’s observance of the Law. David’s songs go back a long way and they give expression to the nation’s feelings about the Law (Psalms 19 and 119) are examples.
Developed in the former, solidified in the latter.
I have a problem with this post for just a couple of reasons.
Chalking up Christian prophetic fulfillment claims to solely “mistranslation and misapplications” fundamentally ignores the underlying root causes and trends, such as the fact that many groups of very religious Jews (both past and present,) have fallen pray to many false messiahs, who made similar, yet not identical claims to those of the Church. How telling is it that the Church can point out replicas in the midst of Jewish history?
How did this occur? Some contemporary historical experience or hope of a given group was interpreted in light of the sacred texts, (this interpretive method/practice in and of itself is not a heretical practice, unless or until it causes a breach.)
Different innovations that claimants instituted only (gradually and over time) lead to a breach in Judaism’s fundamentals. IE we are kidding ourselves if we say that the only way one can become a messianist is to be uneducated in Judaism’s fundamentals, concepts or doctrines. This is one reason why I always point out the presence of many concepts in Judaism and Christianity that are common. Many concepts are very common between these two religions, but are misapplied. Its important that we realize that a concept that is deemed misapplied, is in many ways only a subjective understanding in light of one’s experiences.
For example, in Judaism, the concepts of the death of the righteous atoning, or of the Shaliach who bears G-d’s name, or of a lofty/G-dly soul that is so nullified to its source, as to be close to angelic etc. are not unknown, but Christianity’s use of these concepts is non normative. (never forget that the earliest followers of Jesus were Torah observant people who regarded him as a man.)
In spite of being only a man in their theology, (and being understood by many Jewish Christians as only a man,) he still bore the title of G-d, angel, sent one, apostle, messiah wisdom, logos, etc. in their sources, because that language existed concerning agents in the Torah, and contemporary literature.
Did they play fast and loose with the rules? Yes. Did they believe they were heretics? No! Those early followers of Jesus were able to use the language and concepts common in the second temple period, and apply them in a unique way. The ideas were present in regular Judaism, but were misapplied and taken to extremes by a minority.
How is it that someone could see their teacher die, and yet believe he lives and will come again? Because of the traditional tales about Moses, about David, about Isaac, about Elijah, about Enoch etc.
When the rebbe passed away, some small number said, “he only appeared to die, for the righteous are never truly gone from the world.” Where does this come from if not from traditional sources? All it takes is for an allegory to be taken too literally. Why were there so many converts to Christianity in the middle ages in places like Spain before the expulsion? Because students were learning “deep mystical concepts.” Don’t fool yourselves into thinking that Christians or woefully ignorant of your sources and history. That is a huge mistake.
You missed the point of this post. Tzvi was a Christian for 40 years. He rose in the ranks of the Messianic movement to various positions of leadership. Not long after he was persuaded to join Christianity he realized that the arguments that were used to persuade him were invalid. Perhaps the words “mistranslations and misapplications” are not the right words to use for every last Christian proof-text but they certainly are the right words to use for most of them. And Tzvi’s point is that those very arguments that persuaded him to enter Christianity – he discovered them to be faulty – from his own perspective. Not because his bias changed – if anything he had more reason to believe – but his education changed – he had learned more of the Jewish Bible and he realized that he had been tricked. His ignorance was exploited. Do you understand?
The whole Jewish and Christian sectarian argument seems based on history to be like this.
A group of native Australians and zookeepers visiting Australia are intent upon capturing a kangaroo. These particular zookeepers have only seen a kangaroo a handful of times, but mostly only in pictures, zoology textbooks, videos, etc. In an attempt to capture the animal a trap was created. This trap was designed only to catch a kangaroo. No other animal could possibly fit in this particular trap. Thrilled after setting up the trap, the zookeepers rest, hoping to catch their prize by morning. In the morning they hear a rustling and run to the trap. Thrilled as can be, the beast is caught. It has a long tail, a pouch, two powerful legs, it can only be the kangaroo.
Some of the zookeepers, (who have seen a kangaroo before,) look bewildered. “It’s rather a small roo isn’t it?” “Is it a Joey?” An Aborigine walking by looks in amazement at this sight. “looks like you boys have caught yourselves a wallaby!” “What are you talking about? This is a kangaroo only trap!” “well yes, a wallaby is very very closely related to a kangaroo, they can even breed together, but they are very different.” “Well the people back home will be thrilled and enriched for seeing a creature like this, and if they are able to interbreed, I guess the trap was a success.
Its more like a situation where a group of trappers pick up a used car and they try to sell it to a zoo as a kangaroo. The people who have a bit of an inkling of what a kangaroo is supposed to look like and who are actually searching for a kangaroo don’t go for the charade. But these trappers manage to persuade people who were never looking for a kangaroo to begin with that (a) – they SHOULD be looking for a kangaroo and (b) that this IS a kangaroo. When these trappers are criticized for deceiving people they respond by attacking their critics and accusing them of spiritual blindness and besides, they contend that when the used car comes back it will be a kangaroo.
Rabbi, if your analogy held water the Christian movement never would have got off the ground at all period. Whether we like it or not, something spurred a bunch of 1st century Jews to believe in this crazy theology. And yet again, this theological type has replicas within later Judaism, so it can’t be as simple as you are implying. That’s the whole point. I realize there are many sources that are not a part of rabbinic tradition, but those sources were a part of Judaism in the time of Jesus, so (from a historical perspective,) that means something. Off course, I’m not saying anyone has to believe in Christianity, far from it, but it is naive to believe that those people were just idiots that had absolutely no ground on which to build.
The Bible is like any other book. It has multiple ways to read it, some better than others, but many possible readings.
As I said, we don’t even need to invoke the trinity to see the presence of G-dlike agent figures present in second temple Judaism. The theology didn’t just spring from nowhere.
Is there any place else their theology could have come from? Any of it.
Well, any group of people, (Jews included,) do not exist in a vacuum. So, We do have people like Philo who were influenced by Greek philosophy, I’m not denying that. (Although the way Philo used that philosophical influence is not a Greek form of usage at all.)
If there were “foreign” influence, I would agree with professor Boyarin that its probably extremely ancient Canaanite influence, but here is the rub. That would mean the influence is so old, that it is internal to the biblical sources themselves, not external to them.
Any purported Canaanite influence on the NT, (or on second temple Judaism more generally,) would have already been so thoroughly naturalized, and incorporated into native Jewish culture, and brought into normative Jewish sacred texts, that any borrowing would have been unintended, and unrecognized.
The problems existed well before Jesus was even born, probably thousands of years before. IE Jesus and Christianity are largely irrelevant to the presence of the controversy of two powers, mediator figures who are like superman/godly figures, etc. those issues are issues in the Torah itself.
For instance, why is it that the Angel agent Shaliach figure is so often treated as interchangeable with G-d in the text? The traditional explanation says, “no biggie, its just an agent,” but if this were the true and simple easy explanation, the concept would never have been applied the way the text applies it, and it never would have caused so much discussion or debate as it did in the ancient sources like Talmud, Philo, or appocrypha.
If the traditional explanation is so crystal clearly the plain meaning, the historical controversy, the presence of the debate makes no sense. People generally don’t just accept ideas that they believe have no merit. Generally, you believe something because you feel that the belief has ground and merit.
Think about this for a moment. Rabbis never mention Christianity in their literature. It simply was not yet on the radar when these books were put down on scrolls. And yet, this controversy over mediators, over two powers, over confusing G-d and messengers is mentioned in the books. No Christians involved in the equation.
Christianity was still tiny and insignificant, the community of Jesus followers still within Judaism, just a heresy when rabbis were codifying sources. The fact that Minim are mentioned in the Talmud at all, or the Acher episode etc. tells us this wasn’t a gentile issue, but an internal Jewish argument.
That agent is often depicted as confusingly close to G-d, being perceived as a “second power” by some. The Talmud testifies to the controversy, Philo testifies to it, the Enoch literature testifies to it, and other period literature does too, and that’s without even needing to mention Yeshu.
The point Larry is, if the Christians didn’t exist, if Jesus didn’t exist, this discussion/controversy over the “two powers” still would have existed because it was a native born issue.
Most people who claim polytheistic origins of Christianity forget a simple, yet very important detail. Pagans HATED Christians and they hated Christianity, and they outlawed it when possible.
The Romans allowed every religion you could think of to exist in their empire as long as adherents paid taxes, lived and let live, and had an ancient rite. If Christianity indeed had the alleged similarities and deep roots in polytheistic culture (like the often claimed alleged similarities to the Isis and Osiris cult, or to a Mithras’ cult,) that is claimed by so many people, it simply would not have been illegal to practice Christianity within the Roman empire.
History simply makes no sense at all if Christianity was a non Jewish invention. There would have been no controversy, no massive historical upheaval, no need to systematically persecute western polytheism out of existence.
The Romans only made a belief system illegal if it truly could not be reconciled or syncretized (blended) with their own traditional and religious worldviews.
As Tildeb mentioned, I understand the exegetical reasons that rabbis read the sacred text the way they do, that this explanation is internally consistent, but that explanation does absolutely nothing to answer the historical realities. I realize that those non rabbinic texts are of no concern to Jews, but those texts and the history surrounding them existed, and they existed before Christianity among the people.
So, I don’y blame Christians when they believe they have some basis, some foundation in the Bible to build on. As I said, I think it is far more dangerous to just say “Its just mistranslation and ignorance.”
hundreds of years of research tells us that the issue is not at all so neat, so black or white
Concerned Reader The point of Tzvi’s post was that he came to realize that he was duped and he realized this as a Christian – how does your comment relate to his post? And by the way – your question about how Christianity got off the ground – not on the basis of truth but on the basis of the magnetism of Jesus. Any group of people that are drawn into the charisma of a person will use symbols and themes from their own culture and religious background to justify their position – but its the magnetism that produces the read not the read that produces the magnetism. 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
That’s fine that Tzvi has his experiences that lead him away from Christianity, but I was responding to the assumption that this faith system is just the result of some mistranslations and misapplications. There is a lot of material that the faith system of Christianity is built on that goes largely unaddressed by the blog. Literary sources that contributed to the formation of Christian like ideas that the blog doesn’t try to address, because its not the blog’s aim to address it. In other words, its just like Tildeb said, there are things that simply go unanswered due to the nature of the blog.
If we are going to use rhetorical statements that imply that Christians just made things up when history suggests differently, then I feel that needs to be addressed, and not glossed over.
Concerned Reader The point of Tzvi’s blog post is not that “his experiences led him away from Christianity” – but that he was duped into joining it and that his education led him away from Christianity. The missionaries appealed to the courtroom of his mind without presenting all of the relevant evidence. And when that same courtroom became aware of the evidence it realized that it had been deceived – that’s all. 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
Well Concerned reader…..Whether I am a kangaroo or a Wallaby I got snookered in their ingenious trap as you say they can breed together so It isn’t like the trap was really for a gorilla. The real issue is far more serious than Kangaroos or wallabys. I was a Jew who had little knowledge no matter where the fault lies. I was raped by individuals who themselves were raped by their teachers. Ignorance all the way back. Paul’s ingenious teaching of “Gentiles not needing circumcision IE keeping torah (Though Torah says that a gentile must to become a Jew) is what led to this mishegas called christianity.
Hi All, I am only interested in the statement: “A real Jewish education so that one can be prepared
for this plague that the Jewish people must deal with today. Tsvi Jacobson.” I am not a Jew and rely on the promise of Zach 8:23, where can I get a Jew to educate me? shalom Dolf
Dolf write to me at email@example.com and I will try to help you 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
but on the basis of the magnetism of Jesus.
What magnetism of Jesus rabbi? Your own opinion expressed on the blog many times is that we know virtually nothing about the real figure of Jesus, and that what we do know comes from Paul. IE according to the metric used on your own blog, none of Christianity’s founding moments had anything to do with charisma, or indeed with anything original in content, or remarkable. We know there are no ethics of Jesus that are unique to him. Everything he taught was based on already existing earlier Jewish ethics.
This suggests to me, that something must have existed before Jesus, (and must have existed within Judaism,) upon which the Christian religion was able to be built.
As I pointed out, Christian theology couldn’t have just appeared from nowhere, and it appears from Jewish history that the building blocks for the theology existed before Jesus, and were capable of resurfacing in later Jewish movements.
One of the things that makes me confident that Jesus was a historical figure is actually how thoroughly unremarkable he was. We know he lived, we know he taught derivative teaching, and we know that he died on a cross. Beyond that, we can’t speak of Jesus’ charisma or other qualities. Not to mention, a cult that leads you to martyr yourself doesn’t seem to be very charismatic, or to provide much incentive to join its ranks, particularly when the form of death was guaranteed to be slow and extremely painful.
It seems to me, this movement felt (to its followers at least) like it had something more than just charisma driving it, like it had some basis or framework within existing known or expected traditions of the day.
Concerned Reader Please read Kosher Reality where I address these issues – I point out that we can know more about Jesus and the detail that we can be confident about – which every report of him agrees to – explains the rise of Christianity. And of all the failed Messianic movements – they start with a charismatic figure not with a study of Scripture. 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
How could you study the New Testament if you are not spirit filled?
Were you Baptized into Christ to receive the Holy Spirit? Did you speak in Tongues when you received the spirit as evidence.
Otherwise you wasted your time.
As it written,
1 Corinthians 2:13
13And this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14
Your wisdom is not enough.
CR: aside from mistranslations and inaccuracies the real issue is that the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God (John 1:1) and that Jesus is not God (John 20:17) where Jesus has a God (not that he is a part of the trinity) but he has God and Father just as I do. Thus 2 gods are not better than one. You must see that the real issue is idolatry. It is just too difficult for a Jew to read the New Testament and not be faced with idolatry. Oh I was told the Hebrew Scriptures prove that Jesus is God. Never found one verse that stated that God would take upon him flesh It is as much of an assumption as that of Catholicism assuming Mary up into heaven.
the real issue is that the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God (John 1:1) and that Jesus is not God (John 20:17) Yes, it teaches both, and that’s because the doctrine is paradoxical.
Tzvi, I’m sure you are aware that in the Torah (see some of my earlier conversations with rabbi B,) some agents of G-d are often treated as though they are identical with him, (at least in terms of acting like his mouthpiece?) At the very least in certain texts there is a lot of veneration that is very easy to misconstrue.
Genesis 31:13 (the agent angel says the words,) “I am the the god of bethel” in 1st person.
Judges 6:14 (Rashi says on this verse “And the Lord turned toward him:” (“Not the angel who is clearly the contextual subject of this verse, but Rashi says) “the Holy One, Blessed be He, Himself,” spoke IE the agent is speaking with the voice of his master hashem.
the agent angel (who is clearly a created being) speaks interchangeably (as though it is hashem speaking) to Gideon. The rabbis say this angel is the prince of the presence whose name is like the name of his master, in every verse wherein such happenings are found. In other words Tzvi, in the Tanakh itself, (independent of the Christians,) a creature that was created by hashem is allowed to speak in such ways that the words he speaks are hashem’s words, and the people involved in each encounter respond in such a way that it is crystal clear that they regard the encounter as not simply ordinary.
Check out this Shiur, it is at least partially helpful in illustrating my point. What is my point? You don’t have to consider something to be literally G-d to end up treating it as if it is G-d, and we see that happen in the Torah, and in many sources from the time of Jesus of Nazareth.
I’m sure you are aware that while the NT says Jesus is hashem, it also says that he is functionally subordinate to the father’s will. (IE a paradox)
It says he has a heavenly component and an earthly component to his existence. There were traditions about earthly figures/agents who likewise had a heavenly component to them as well, (such as Enoch,) Christians just took pre existing motifs to an extreme.
I’m sure you are aware that there were many early Christians who didn’t view Jesus as hashem himself, but still regarded him as “heavenly” and at the very least in some sense “special.”
In other words Tzvi, the trinity is mostly a reactionary doctrine. The existence of the trinity as a doctrine is irrelevant when we see how even when such a doctrine doesn’t exist, messiahs and agents are still extremely venerated, to the point that people conflate the two.
Many messiah claimants after Jesus have gone down a route of extreme veneration by their followers, and those people had plenty of Torah education, and they also had examples of agents who spoke with G-d’s voice to draw from.
Concerned Reader And as I pointed out to you many times now – never is the magnetism, attraction and devotion attributed to the agent
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
Rabbi, very respectfully, I already responded to this point you have raised by pointing out to you Gideon’s clear and unambiguous actions of paying undue attention to the agent in judges chapter 6. Even though it said in the text that hashem was right there, Gideon’s focus was clearly on the agent. You even admitted that we might not know exactly what’s going on in those verses, concerning how interchangeable the agent and hashem seem to be in that text. You went on at length about how hashem has many agents that might inspire awe, so Gideon’s reaction may be normal. My point was, if hashem is in a text too, then all awe should be devoted to him alone, not to an agent.
Also, even if I accept your explanation, we know that attraction and devotion can develop even when the “proper” explanation/interpretation is already known, accepted, and even applied. History has clearly demonstrated this as we have seen independent of opinion.
I provided you with the example of Muhammad to illustrate this. Muslims clearly do not view him as divine, but nonetheless they exhibit clear devotion to him, that has even erupted into violence, even though Judaism regards islam with a unique status concerning its devotion to monotheism.
There are also articles on Mesora.org which clearly speak about certain sources within some mainstream branches of orthodox Judaism that walk a very fine line of undue devotion, whilst still being considered Kosher by the majority, and the point is, both sides (those in favor of such sources being considered kosher, and those against them,) in those articles, make good points to support their positions based on scripture and tradition. Both views can be accounted for.
My main point has been that when we see undue devotion to a given messiah claimant or to an agent figure, (that later blossoms into a Christianity or a sabbateanism for instance,) we fool ourselves if we think that there is no connection to the biblical narrative, and try to say instead that such is polytheistic.
We see agents who get a ton of attention in the Torah. Even if praying to them is not explicit, things like offering sacrifices is explicit, obeying the voice of the agent as if it were G-d’s own voice is explicit, asking the agent for a blessing is explicit. The agent being given charge of the community is explicit.
These occurrences in scripture are enough to account for the behaviors and movements that we have seen manifest themselves in history. My point to Tzvi was to not assume that there is simply no biblical connection, or to assume that the people involved utterly lack a knowledge of Biblical literature. Its an issue that arises in spite of a groups interpretations.
Just the other day, I was watching a video of a young man who converted to orthodox Judaism, (by way of his exit from the “messianic” movement.) He states clearly that by the end of his ordeal, Jesus was no longer seen as G-d by him, but was merely a walking talking Torah, an admor that he followed, who was his source for carrying the Torah out. In other words, this man (prior to his conversion to Judaism) was living as close to orthodox as anyone could, and yet Jesus became a kind of rebbe to him.
There is another messianic that I know who is observant who has enveloped Jesus in chassidic philosophical concepts. The way rebbe Nachman is perceived is the way this messianic views Jesus.
The point is, that devotion that they had as a messianic didn’t subside just because Yeshua was believed to be human.
Concerned reader I appreciate your respect but I would rather have your attention – When we are talking about a relationship we are talking about an attraction, a magnetism a reason for devotion, a thirst that is quenched in the devotion and a satisfaction. None of these are ever attributed to agents. Yes, there are stories that describe worship in which it is not clear who is being worshiped – but this does not touch the point I am trying to make. The Tanach doesn’t speak of an agent in a way that encourages to find joy in a relationship with the agent – that needs to come from some other source. Once you have that source you will find your theological justification/excuse in Tanach. So yes – there is a “Biblical connection” but this Biblical connection is only seen when the heart of the Bible, which is love for God as articulated by the real Messiah – David, is utterly ignored.
Just to put this in another format – the Bible describes idolatry as spiritual adultery – this is not about theology it is about violating a relationship – so there is a relationship with the One Creator of heaven and earth – where is there room in the heart for something else? The person who goes to the agent – what was he/she missing with God? – in the sense of relationship.
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
Concerned Reader Furthermore – your entire point is completely irrelevant to the point that Tzvi made in his post. Tzvi just pointed out that the missionaries capitalized on his ignorance -when he became more educated – in Tanach – and not necessarily from an Orthodox Jewish source but from the fullness of Tanach as opposed to a selection of passages and with an eye out for the heart of Tanach – then he saw right through the very arguments that sounded convincing to him in his ignorance – how does your point have anything to do with Tzvi’s point?
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
When you have to rely on twisting Scripture, fabricating, misquoting, and so on–then you are acting in bad faith. That is why, Con, your strenuous defense of Christianity is utterly meaningless. The Church is a bad actor.
I have argued before and I will say it again:
None of these movements arose because people read the Scriptural passages you cited and said, “Ooh, we must find a man to deify so that these passages can be fulfilled.” Instead, first they fell in love with a charismatic leader and then they found these passages to justify it.
Your argument would have a lot more merit if the first scenario had ever taken place rather than the second.
I have also argued that apotheosis is not unique to Judaism. The Greeks and the Romans engaged in it as well as many cultures around the world from ancient times to the present day, so you cannot argue that deifying a human is a process unique to Judaism because of its scripture.
“Most people who claim polytheistic origins of Christianity forget a simple, yet very important detail. Pagans HATED Christians and they hated Christianity, and they outlawed it when possible.”
a lot of sects within the same religion hated each other. can you show any proof that the pagans knew that the christians were worshipping a dead and defeated yhwh who came out of his tomb half naked, and appeared to his little group? can you prove that pagans didn’t like stories about defeated heroes? defeated gods?
pagans will see commonality between beliefs only after it was explained to them. was the hatred 100 years after jesus? do you know 100 years is a long time after jesus? hatred of the bacchic cult was more widespread and more known than the cult which brought back yhwh to life (even though he has immortal life. )
can you show proof that the pagans knew that the christians believed in 3 triplets in trinity? where is your proof that it was outlawed for what it BELIEVED? how long after jesus was it outlawed? when paul was “persecuting” the christians did he even know what they believed? christians today hate each other because they accuse each other of heresy and all other stuff. what i am asking is how do we know that the pagans had a clear and perfect understanding of christianity before they “hated” it?
you christians can’t give generalisations to 93% population of the roman empire.
how do you know 93 % population of roman empire hated the pagan stuff in christianity?
you say you are not christian , but what i see you do is repeat christian apologetic.
matthew says jews said that the disciples stole the body, how does this mean that all jews from different areas were saying the same stuff?
you see my point?
you say you are not christian , but what i see you do is repeat christian apologetic.
I’m not getting any of my material from apologists, but from scholarship’s discussions of many topics, and even from primary sources. I don’t read apologetics, I’m not a Christian. I studied comparative religion in college, so I’ve studied a lot of actual old world polytheism, I’ve studied pagan polemics against Judaism and Christianity. (So when people say Christianity is SOOO similar to polytheism,” I take issue with that statement because its the pagans themselves who clearly saw that claim as nonsense, and tried to defend their own positions from such attempted comparisons.
The pagan derivation argument against Christians is also a suicide bomb against the Torah itself if paralell is the standard of evidence you go by.
This is because one can attempt to draw and find parallels between any of the religions of the Mediterranean, and you can find similarities. Why? Is it because they all consciously copied from one another? Or could it be more likely because they are all Mediterranean religions that share the area?
People draw parallels between the epic of Gilgamesh and the Torah all the time, because they both have narrative similarities, (as the Torah also has with the code of Hammurabi,) but this doesn’t mean these three are carbon copies. It means they come from a similar area with similar cultural baggage.
I draw attention to the agent angel from the Torah, because its presence in the Torah highlights theologically problematic passages that existed before Christianity, that even rabbis themselves had to struggle with interpreting. Even when you knew the proper interpretation of agency, (such as Acher probably did, and as the Ebionites did,) there was still something to struggle with and discuss. There is a being that is not the father that is extremely elevated.
The Jewish Christians, (who did not believe Jesus was G-d,) who were strict nontrinitarian monotheists, still applied the title “G-d” to him as an agent, just as we find is done with agents from the Torah who are treated as interchangeable in the texts. I don’t bring it up for apologetic, but to highlight an anthropological connection between the Christian movement and Jewish texts from the relevant period, the debates and discussions of the day, etc.
“The Jewish Christians, (who did not believe Jesus was G-d,) who were strict nontrinitarian monotheists, still applied the title “G-d” to him as an agent, just as we find is done with agents from the Torah who are treated as interchangeable in the texts. ”
….Can you give an example how they did this? I have never heard anyone say this before.
(Excerpt from Epiphanius of Salamis’ Panarion) “They say that Christ was not begotten of God the Father, but created as one of the archangels.”
“the heavens was opened and he saw the
Holy Spirit in the form of a dove that descended and ENTERED INTO him.
And a voice sounded from Heaven that said:
“You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased. ”
And again: ” I have this day begotten you”.
In this text the holy spirit does not “rest” on Jesus at his baptism as it does in all the other versions of the gospel texts, it actually is said that it “enters into him,” that’s because in Ebionite theology, the holy spirit itself is called “Christ,” and preexists like one of the archangels, etc. So, the spirit of G-d itself in this gospel, while deemed an “angel” is within Jesus possessing him.
It is evident that these Christians are viewing Jesus as an agent, but also as a second power possesed by the spirit of G-d. He is called chief of the archangels in their gospel, IE the same as the “captain of the lords host” who bears G-d’s name in the Torah itself. The Torah is comfortable treating the agent as interchangeable, IE the agent is called “G-d” even though it is deemed to be a creation. The Ebionite fragments still have all the other features of Mathew’s gospel where John the Baptist falls on his face before Jesus saying, “lord baptize me.”
It isn’t a trinitarian text, but it is a text that deifies Jesus in all ways but calling it a trinity. (this is evident from the Ebionite gospel’s conflation of Christ with the holy spirit.)
You find in a lot of early Christian sources that Logos, Christ, Son of G-d, Wisdom, and holy spirit are conflated and or interchangeable. In ebionite theology there are two persons, a Human Jesus, and an angelic spirit of G-d being called “Christ” that enters him.
“People draw parallels between the epic of Gilgamesh and the Torah all the time, because they both have narrative similarities, (as the Torah also has with the code of Hammurabi,) but this doesn’t mean these three are carbon copies. It means they come from a similar area with similar cultural baggage.”
do you believe that the concept of shaliac is an apologetic assumption which is trying to make the agency other than god?
if yes, then do you believe that it is possible that the torah is pagan?
if a pagan heard the hebrews talk about an agent called yhwh killing all the first born, the pagan would hear nothing knew because the pagan already believed that gods or their forms come down to earth to do work.
so it seems that there is a possibility to read torah as a pagan text.
i am not saying it is pagan, i am only using your understanding.
i see trinity as 3 conscious gods using action verbs to work for each other.
if you think such idea exists in torah, then how would the pagan neighbour of israel understand this back in moses day?
the wood work is already there.
We have to remember, the word “pagan” itself is only an apologetic term created by monotheistic religious communities to attempt to draw barriers between their worship and the worship of others.
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Could you rephrase your question about the Shaliach?
The Torah itself testifies that Israel struggled to differentiate itself entirely from Canaanite religion, (which is why the prophets were always trying to draw the distinction.) At one level though, various peoples can only think of so many ways to worship deities.
People in the Torah go to the graves of patriarchs to be reminded of their lives, so we all say, “they aren’t praying to the dead, so its ok, they are just being introspective.”
If you look at the actions of a Therevadah Buddhist, he does the exact same thing (in terms of action and intent,) for the same reasons, yet Judaism and Christianity would say the Buddhist practices foreign service.
thanks for the reply
Epiphanies was Greek not Jewish.
That would be Epiphanius
Epiphanius is writing about the Jewish Christian texts that he had access to.
From a greek point of view?
“They say that Christ was not begotten of God the Father,”. I am curious who they are. Also how many humans were deified by the Greeks?
Dina, the fact that you said “your argument would have merit if..” is exactly getting at what I have been trying to point out all along.
This is the whole point I’m trying to make. My argument would indeed have merit in the *IF* scenario.
This deification or apotheosis formula we are talking about exists in scripture independently of the various people in Jewish history who have been deified. You are right that apotheosis isn’t unique to Judaism, but my point is and remains, ITS IN THE BIBLE.
Guys like Jesus had a preexisting title and role applied to them by overzealous followers that was merely applied to them despite their deaths that went to more extreme levels.
Let’s say someone indeed comes in the future, who builds the temple, regathers Israel, and spreads the knowledge of G-d, who fits your expectations.
If this person succeeds in these things and is called by his followers the unique agent who bears G-d’s name whom we must obey according to scripture, we would all need to accept that according to what we see in the Bible. If the guy succeeds in these things and speaks interchangeably with G-d, he will be merely following a biblical pattern.
All these verses I’m pointing to (that you say have lead to deification or apotheosis around various charismatics,) would still lead to that end, even if it is finally the correct messianic paradigm that comes to pass. Do you see what I’m saying?
The Bible alone without Jesus, Shabbatai Tzvi, or the Rebbe, contains all the notions of the righteous one who acts as the agent of G-d and who speaks G-d’s words (sometimes in 1st person,) and who must be obeyed by humans at great cost.
We have established
– the existence of the agent (who speaks interchangeably with hashem’s voice) from scripture.
– That all nations will follow G-d through the true messiah when he does come.
– That Moshiach’s role will lead to the lifting of the veil where we will perceive the godliness inherent in creation.
Concerned reader If that happens (the Messiah turns out to to be the agent/angel) we still only love God, are attracted to God, find satisfaction in our relationship with God – the agent NEVER has our heart/cause/pull for devotion – the cause for devotion is always completely with God alone
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
Rabbi, I absolutely hear your point, but again, I have to point you to judges 6 (where hashem and his agent are thoroughly conflated and hashem offers no rebuke to a very unorthodox and out of place response,) and I also refer you to Jewish history where this phenomenon keeps occurring even when your proper explanation is well known and well understood.
Do the Christians not also teach
“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”
“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
“When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
JESUS IS CLEARLY AND UNAMBIGUOUSLY DEFINED AS THE SENT ONE IE A SHALIACH (the caps are not to indicate yelling, just to make the text bold.)
“And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”
Christians in their texts clearly apply the agency paradigm to Jesus, the difference is that this paradigm is viewed as ontological as opposed to a role bestowed in time. Orthodox Christian creeds and theologians all use this same paradigm. WHAT IS THE PARADIGM? JESUS OBEYS THE FATHER, NOT HIS OWN WILL.
What is the point I’m getting at? To the Christian, just as to the Jewish person, the fact is that the will of G-d, IE the father’s primacy, is set in the heart of every person. Its unassailable based on either group’s texts.
If I agree with you that the doctrine of Jesus’ divinity is utterly blasphemous, idolatrous, dangerous, etc. If I agree that this doctrine detracts from the love of G-d, I have to explain away or contend with the following Christian verses that clearly go against the grain of your perspective that says Christians are believing in Jesus solely because he is Jesus and they couldn’t cope with his death.
IE IF THE DOCTRINE IS AS YOU SAY: TO MAKE MEN FAWN OVER THE IDOL JESUS, WHY DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT ASSAIL ITS OWN INTERESTS BY SAYING ITS NOT JUST ABOUT JESUS?
Mathew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
IE Jesus teaches asking for miracles is unseemly.
John 10: 37-38 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
Luke 11:15-20 “But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Jesus notes above that many people in his day were said to be healers IE “driving out demons,” and if Jesus is said to be doing it in a seemingly evil way through demons, how are others doing it? How can one tell the difference? The answer Jesus gives is, if the fruit of the work is unifying, if it has an outcome in conformity with the spirit of G-d’s wishes, then it is wrong to say that it comes from Demons.
JESUS SAYS IN SEVERAL VERSES NOT TO BELIEVE IN HIM BECAUSE OF MIRACLES OR BASED ON HIS OWN AUTHORITY. BUT NOTES THAT FAITH IS TO BE BASED NOT ON THE SIGNS BUT ON THE GODLY FRUIT OF THE WORK, THE MIRACLE ALONE MEANS NOTHING. THE ENTIRE PREMISE OF THE NT IS THAT JESUS VOLUNTARILY SET ASIDE THE POWERS HE ALLEGEDLY HAD (Philippians 2:6-8)
Judaism maintains that the Christian heart belongs to Jesus (a charismatic) in an idolatrous way, mainly because of his charisma and because they are just in love with the teacher. IE THE CHRISTIANS COULDN’T LET GO OF THEIR RABBI, SO THEY DEIFIED HIM!
If that is the case in truth, then the following texts interfere with this modus operandi of the Christians.
Mathew 24:5 “For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.”
2 Thessalonians 2:7-10 “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
1 John 3:4 4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
Revelation 13 and 14 BOTH CLEARLY AND UNAMBIGUOUSLY WARN AGAINST ACCEPTING SOMEONE’S MIRACLES AND CLAIMS TO DESERVE WORSHIP.
THESE CHAPTERS SHOW THE LITMUS TEST OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUE G-D IS TIED TO ONES ABSTINENCE FROM IDOLATRY AND FROM FORNICATION IE REVELATION 14:12 “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
A clear feature of the Christian gospel is the clear contrast between Jesus (who is portrayed as one who did not grasp for authority,) and a false one who will come who does grasp for authority Philippians 2:6-8.
Even if you want to read Judges 6 as an offering to the agent (I disagree with the reading but for argument’s sake I’ll let it go) It still does not ascribe any magnetism/pull/attraction to the agent.
The fact that throughout the ages Jews have used the agent texts to exalt people does not help your argument – its not about the texts but about human nature
And I don’t understand what you are driving at by bringing up the conflicting evidence in the NT – I explained to you many times before – books don’t commit crimes people do. I don’t care what the NT says and neither should you – what is important is how people hear it and live it out
the attraction and pull is illustrated by Gideon’s clear unambiguous actions and reaction to the agent rabbi.
Judaism, Christianity, and a common worst case scenario: A response to Rabbi B.
Rabbi B, before I start with this response, I want to let you know that I hear and I understand your perspective on religious faith being a matter of a relationship, a marriage contract. I understand that Israel cannot simply abandon that relationship, and I take that to heart. Because I take that to heart, I write this response to your concerns about the Christian religion.
What is a doomsday scenario according to Judaism? I think Rambam said it best. http://www.mesora.org/Christianity-Messiah.htm
Laws of Kings, Laws 11:10-12 (Capach Edition): “ …Can there be a greater stumbling block than this (Christianity)? That all the prophets spoke that the Messiah will redeem Israel and save them, and gather their dispersed and strengthen their Mitzvot, and this (one, i.e., Jesus) caused the Jews to be destroyed by the sword, and scattered their remnants and humbled them, and exchanged the Torah, and caused the majority of the world to err to serve a god other than the Lord.
Serving a deity other than the G-d of Abraham is defined as the greatest doomsday scenario in Judaism.
What if I told you that the Christian Bible shares this exact same doomsday scenario, has fought against it in real history, uses the commandments from scripture to combat it, and so cannot truly be said to be advocating foreign worship.
In texts from the gospels, the Pauline epistles and into revelation, the Church and their commentaries all warn of a coming person or persons who will exalt themselves above G-d, and even claim to be the sole object of devotion, requiring that all peoples to serve this person or entity.
The New Testament sets the rules for G-d fearing non Jews as the paradigm for non Jewish followers, IE as the way to divide truth and falsehood. (the epistle of James, Acts 15, etc.)
The 1st figure of history that the Christian faith dealt with (who fit this appocalyptic description of a false teacher/antichrist from their texts) was the Roman emperor Nero. Nero was the only Roman emperor who required and was offered divine services and honor while he was still alive.
He may well be the figure to whom revelation’s antichrist refers.
Many Christians died as martyrs rather than participate in this or any other emperor’s cult. Simmilar persecution happened Under Diocletain, and both Jews and Christians suffered terribly because of their refusal to serve the emperor and his aims in religious terms.
Another emperor of history (who himself didn’t claim to be G-d per se) was still regarded as this antichrist figure, because he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Even though this emperor wanted to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, and wanted to reestablish Jewish presence in Israel, he also wanted to reestablish the former Roman cults that the Christians had abolished.
He was the Roman emperor Julian. Julian hated Christianity and sought its destruction. Had he succeeded, Roman worship would have been reeinstated.
THIS EMPEROR JULIAN IS ONE REASON WHY CHRISTIANS DON’T VIEW THE PRESENCE OF A TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM AND INHABITING THE LAND OF ISRAEL AS UNAMBIGUOUS IDENTIFIERS OF THE MESSIAH.
During the French revolution, many don’t realize that the Christian faith was actually abolished. The idol was removed from their country’s midst, or was it? The French revolutionaries replaced everything Catholic with “the cult of reason.”
Today, Christians speak out against the leader of North korea who is deemed to be divine by the state.
Rabbis have stated to me that the devotion to previous leaders was merely a case of shifted devotion from one of these men to Jesus.
The same problem, but a different suit they say.
To this accusation I would like to point us to the words of Rabbi Jacob Emden.
“For it is recognized that also the Nazarene and his disciples, ESPECIALLY PAUL warned concerning the Torah of the Israelites, to which all the circumcised are tied. And if they are truly Christians, they will observe their faith with truth, and not allow within their boundary this new unfit Messiah Shabbatai Zevi who came to destroy the earth.”
RABBI EMDEN WARNS THE CHRISTIANS OF A DEIFIED JEWISH MESSIAH CLAIMANT WHO AROSE WITHOUT CHRISTIAN HELP (SHABBATAI TZVI) USING THEIR OWN CHRISTIAN GOSPELS! HE DEFENDS JUDAISM WITH CHRISTIAN BOOKS. CAN CHRISTIANITY BE TRULY FOREIGN?
Galatians 5:3 – “I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, the Messiah will do you no good at all. You can take it from me that every man who receives circumcision is under obligation to keep the entire Torah.”
1 Corinthians 7:17-19 “Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised.Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.”
According to Rabbi Emden
“Many have asked that Paul appears to contradict himself here. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 16), it is mentioned that Paul circumcised his disciple Timothy.” (WHOSE MOTHER WAS JEWISH.)
“It is therefore a habitual saying of mine (not as a hypocritical flatterer, God forbid, for I am of the faithful believers of Israel, and I know well that the remnant of Israel will not speak falsehood, nor will their mouths contain a deceitful tongue) that the Nazarene brought about a double kindness in the world. On the one hand, he strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically, as mentioned earlier, and not one of our Sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah. And on the other hand, he did much good for the Gentiles (providing they do not turn about his intent as they please, as some foolish ones have done because they did not fully understand the intent of the authors of the Gospels.” http://www.biblesearchers.com/yahshua/beithillel/SederOlamRabbahVezuta.shtml
What I have written on the blog is not meant to offend, to dodge, or to find fault with rabbi B’s perspective. My point is,your perspective is shared by them.
Even when Christian theology is present and believed in, the Christians themselves are still on guard against the claims of men to be divine. The Christian Bible combats the doomsday scenario that Judaism insinuates Christianity fully supports.
Even when it comes to Jesus himself, the Christians believe there is a proper way to understand his relationship to G-d, an agent relationship.
Hey Con, if it helps: you can use html tags instead of caps for bold or italic font.
Thanks for the novel, CR. I’ll wait for the movie. 😉
I empathize with the struggle you must be going through. Having left Christianity intellectually does not make it easy to leave emotionally. So you find yourself in a position where you still offer some kind of defense for it, as if it was under assault by the Jewish people.
This has led you, without malice, to adopt an incredibly boorish behavior. You have gone from topic to topic and blog to blog interrupting conversations with points irrelevant to the conversation. You attempt to hi-jack the conversations going on, as you have done on this topic, where you have successfully but unprofitably moved the conversation away from Tsvi’s original point. Instead of engaging his topic, you ignored him and began saying only what you have said many times on many topics where your arguments were also not relevant. Though your tone is civil, your redirecting every topic is uncivil and unwarranted, and if not for the difficulty in divesting oneself of his former faith, would be unforgivable.
But, though your arguments have been irrelevant to the topic, your methods have not. In fact, while you have abandoned Christianity to some degree, you have not yet lost her methods of understanding a text. You read them still, as a Christian does, looking to find your own understanding in it. And this leads you to argue in bad faith.
You have (unwittingly, I am sure) misrepresented the teachings of the New Testament, in order to align it to Judaism just as the authors of the NT misrepresented the teachings of Tanach to introduce their own doctrines. You often ignore the context of a passage and, like Paul and like Matthew, you truncate verses to fit them to your thesis. For example, to show that Paul was not against the circumcision of the Jewish people but only for the gentiles, you mention that Paul circumcised Timothy. What you do not mention is that he did this “because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew his father was a Greek” (Acts 6:3). That is to say, he did not do it to fulfill the mitzvah but for political reasons. When you wrote of this to Eleazar on the “Defeatist Propaganda” page you neglected to mention the reason given by Acts and injected your own. You misrepresented the passage to put your agenda into it, not to understand what it was teaching.
Worse, on that same thread, you misrepresented greatly one of the foundational teachings of Paul. You write that Paul says that the doer of the law is justified, neglecting the context wholly. In fact, he is going to go on to say that no one can be justified by the law but by faith only, and that the law only serves to show that every human being is a sinner. The law only leads to condemnation. Yet you make it sound as if Paul thinks that one who does the law is justified by it. In fact, when he writes that the doer of the law is justified, he is contrasting that to the hearer of the law. He says that those who received the law have no right to brag. It is in this context that he writes: “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law will be justified” (Rom. 2:12). He is only contrasting receiving the law with doing it. If you had read further, you would see that he writes: “For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by deeds prescribed of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20).
I write these words with no ill will, though that may be of little comfort. But I know from where you got these bad habits. You are only carrying on in the tradition of Paul, for it is that very section of Romans in which he truncates Psalm 14 to establish that there is no such thing as a righteous human being. He leaves off the front of the Psalm, which tells the reader that David is writing about “the fool [who] says in his heart that there is no god.” (See Romans 3:10 and Psalm 14:1.) Accustomed to taking phrases out of sentences and sentences out-of-context, you have followed Paul’s folly. You have distorted his teachings, just as he distorted Tanach.
And now you write that Christians are on their guard not to make men divine. This is clearly false, inasmuch as the Church already worships one man. They only do not tolerate the worship of other men. So, if Joseph Smith had claimed to be divine, they would have rejected the claim, just as they rejected his scriptures. Or if Charlie were to come along and claim to be a second incarnation of Jesus, that they would reject.
And in fact, you will find that the NT has rewritten the Torah to accommodate their doctrines and to make Jesus the center of attention rather than God. Even when testing a false prophet, the test is changed. Compare Deuteronomy 13 to 1 John 4:1-5. Deuteronomy 13 tests a prophet by whether or not he teaches people to follow idols. John alters the test: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not come from God.” I am sure that the obvious difference is glaring. In fact, John has substituted Jesus for God. This is not Torah. This is not guarding oneself against the deification of a man.
How many other passages have you disregarded to make Christianity sound Torah compatible? Oh so many, because you pick and choose what will support your argument. You have yet to read Torah to understand what it says, not from when you realized that Deuteronomy 4 excludes Jesus from being divine, a basic tenet of Torah. You have not read Torah to understand its meaning. Instead you have continued to read Torah through the lens of Christianity and your religious history classes.
Too long a list could be compiled to show that Christianity makes too much of Jesus. John 1 has him creating the world, existing with God, in clear contradiction to Deuteronomy 4. In Revelation 1, Jesus is called the alpha and omega. And in fact, throughout the NT Jesus is linked with God constantly in a way incompatible with Torah.
Other passages have Jesus treating the Torah with contempt and ascribing inappropriate authority to himself. He calls himself the Lord of the Sabbath. In Matthew 5, he denigrates the Torah, erecting his own philosophy as superior to it. (This is clearly what he means by completing the Torah, not that he would perform its requirements, but that it was an incomplete, carnal philosophy waiting for his spiritual enlightenment to complete it.) He attempts to make Pesach about himself.
And in fact, the NT spends much time attempting to make Tanach about Jesus. It redirects one’s attention from God’s laws (which cannot save one) to faith in Jesus. Jesus is supposed to have said that he was to be found in the scriptures. Paul writes the same. At every opportunity, the NT authors shoehorn Jesus into the scriptures. At every turn, they would have us not reading Torah to know what God wants from us, but to find Jesus. At every occasion, the NT redirects one’s attention from God and onto Jesus.
At the very least, the NT creates a new commandment and a new religion. It creates a commandment that one must believe on Jesus for salvation. This is not Torah. And it is obvious that this is a new religion, for the disciples attempted to convert their fellow Jews, not just to belief in Jesus for salvation but adopting new practices.
To some degree, I can understand why you misrepresent the NT this way. But you do yourself a grave disservice by cherry-picking passages, truncating them, and taking them out-of-context. If you care little that you do yourself a disservice, please consider the confusion you may give to others. Surely, you must know that you do not know these topics as well as you think you do. By coming here, you learned that you did not know or understand a fundamental tenet of Torah. Yet, you have continued to act as if you are a Torah scholar and a Talmudic scholar because of your degree, and that you know better than R’ Blumenthal, Dina, or other Torah devoted Jews the meaning of their texts. When you represent yourself as an authority on matters you hardly understand, you may do real harm to the understanding of others.
In any case, it would be greatly appreciated if you did not continue to attempt to turn each topic and blog to your pet issues. Not only is it annoying, it derails conversations. Points are lost because the conversation moves into a topic irrelevant to the current conversation. You have become an impediment to dialogue. Just look at what you have done to this topic, wherein you have treated Tsvi rather disrespectfully.
Jim, you say that I derail the meaning of the NT with what I have said, decontextualizing it to make it suit a point I want it to.
Did you not notice that I quoted a rabbi (rabbi Emden) who did that? A rabbi who used the text of the New testament in the same way I have? Are you accusing Rabbi Emden of having a poor reading skill of the same texts?
This blog itself has used the New Testament to defend Judaism’s fundamentals, (myself included.) If I am dealing unjustly with the Christian text, so is the blog.
Also, you must be aware that there are sects of Christianity that do not understand Paul the way a protestant does? The way you do? The way of faith only? Faith is a marriage of action and conviction, it is faithfulness, deeds are important to many Christian groups. I do not put the New testament into a single interpretative box. Its a diverse text with a diverse history.
You accuse me of derailing and disrespecting Tzvi’s original post, but in said post Tzvi makes the claim that only a person without understanding could believe in any of the Christian claims. If one has observed Jewish messianism since the 17th century, I’ve noted that a person can easily see that this claim isn’t true. It isn’t backed by the data someone can observe and check for themselves.
It has very good intention as a post, and I take Tzvi’s experience as being true for him, but I believe it is dangerous to say that only a person without knowledge could believe this, because history demonstrates otherwise.
I think that is decidedly relevant to the conversation. I have noticed that you often shift your points from something of substance into arguing that I must have some great emotional need to defend or uphold Christianity, while wholesale neglecting when I point out that the Christian religion needn’t even be involved with the discussion.
The entire point I raised in the post, (about Judaism and Christianity sharing the same fundamental fear/doomsday scenario (of Idolatry) has gone unaddressed by you, not to mention, my post was written to rabbi B to answer something he posed. The point I made about Christianity itself derailing what you see as its chief aim, namely human worship, is important.
You say that I hijack the blog. I should say, you make this claim again and again. You have made this claim since I first started posting here years ago. I remind you, the rabbi himself is absolutely free to moderate, to block my posts, etc. if he feels that I am veering from the blog’s overall purpose.
Does it not strike you even slightly that several Jewish messianic movements have gone down a Christian route? Jewish movements! No Christian Bible or Paul was required to go there. People with a decent Jewish education were able to fall into the same errors. I don’t think that is inconsequential. I realize that to admit that fact may seem “dangerous” to the blog, but I’m only pointing out what I can actually demonstrate to be reasonable and plausible given the information available. I respect that you disagree.
I would say however, that in accusing me of being “boorish,” you accuse me of being bad mannered. I have not, (contrary to your insinuations,) prevented anyone from voicing their opinions. I have not accused anyone of having an emotional deficiency or attachment. You sir have been the one to do that.
Because of time constraints under which I currently operate, I will make my response to you as brief as possible.
Regarding Rabbi Emden, your appeal to authority, a favorite tactic of yours, does not make the argument true. If I find a rabbi that disagrees with Rabbi Emden, then to whom should I listen? If I find a church authority who disagrees, to whom should I listen? How will I sort out one opinion from another? You use rabbis as cudgels, demanding assent to any that support your view or even appear to do so. This is not sound argument.
Regarding the blog using the NT to defend Judaism’s fundamentals: on this point suspects that you are being intentionally obtuse. I did not indicate that one should not use the NT, you, a Christian, or a Jew. I think you will note that when R’ Blumenthal quotes the NT, he is at great pains to convey its meaning honestly. He does not take passages out of context to paint a false picture of the NT’s meaning. (He might take it out of context in order to show the problems with using Tanach in such a fashion, and I have done so in that limited context.) On the other hand, you have taken both the NT and Tanach out of context regularly and even recently. Therefore, this blog does not deal with the Christian text unjustly. You do.
Regarding faith only: I did not address this issue. You have made assumptions here going off into a bunny trail. The way you project into the things I write is the same reason you cannot understand Paul.
Regarding your derailing Tsvi’s post, I am glad that you responded to this point, because it will illustrate to other readers how badly you like to take things out of context. You justify your derailing of the conversation thusly: “…Tsvi makes the claim that only a person without understanding could believe in any of the Christian claims.” The context of Tsvi’s comments was in regard to the unjust usage of the Jewish scriptures. He writes how painfully went over Isaiah 53. You, of course, did not address the abuse of scripture but went on to talk about something else entirely. When Tsvi writes that the uneducated believe, he is referring specifically to proof-texts, and why a person with knowledge would not read them that way. It is disrespectful to Tsvi, and yes, boorish, because you go about looking for an opportunity to interject the same point on thread after thread across multiple blogs. This is indeed bad-mannered.
Regarding address your emotions, I should leave them out. I agree with you. I should stick to the arguments. In the case of today’s post, I mentioned them by way of sympathy to excuse your bad behavior, both your manners and dishonest arguing. I think you are probably a fine fellow overall, but when you argue, you show yourself to be either incompetent or dishonest, which facts do not seem nice to point out. So I attempt to justify your bad faith and bad manners with sympathy for the difficulty of your position. I am attempting (and failing) to be gracious in offering a justifiable reason for your reckless arguments.
But of course, you do not see it this way. Let me give you an example of your bad faith argument, which I have already mentioned here. You quoted Rabbi Emden. I contextualized Paul’s writing and the passage in acts, arguing from what is written therein that you have abused them. You respond by appealing to authority not by addressing why my contextualizing the passage is really incorrect, really a form of bullying. (Do not worry, I am not cowed.) You, who like to label fallacies, do you know the name of the one you have committed? (I’ll give you a hint: it contains the word “authority”.) I do not know why you should think I would be troubled to say the Rabbi was mistaken. You think his title demands assent. I believe that a sound argument demands assent… from the mind.
Regarding your hijacking of the blog, I did not say that you should be banned or your posts deleted. You are correct; this is R’ Blumenthal’s blog. But I did not make the claim in any unwarranted fashion. When I make the claim I back it up, just as I did a few paragraphs back. However, you have certainly ignored the good rabbi, as he has also pointed out that your comments do not relate to Tzvi’s post.
You may wish to review the following comments from R’ Blumenthal:
On June 22nd, 2016 at 5:02, R’ Blumenthal writes that you “missed the point of the post” and tries to gently steer you back on course. (You ignore him.)
On the 23rd, at 5:40 am, he asks “…how does your comment relate to [Tzvi’s] post?” (You ignore him.)
On July 31st at 11:29, he states: “…your entire point is completely irrelevant to the point that Tzvi made in his post.”
R’ Blumenthal is indeed a gracious host, having not banned you while you continue to ingore the topic. And you indeed have been a rude guest, rude to the rabbi and rude to Tzvi.
Regarding the messianic movements: it does not strike me at all strange, no. And on another thread I already answered why. What I find incredible is that after addressing my accusation that you attempt to hijack the blog, you go on to ask the same questions irrelevant to Tzvi’s post, thereby proving my point. In the very next paragraph, even.
Regarding your last paragraph, I have already shown why you are in fact bad-mannered. I thank you for defining the word “boorish” for me. Did you think I did not know what it meant when I typed it? Did you perhaps think I meant it as a compliment? Three times R’ Blumenthal kindly tried to move you on topic, and every time you have ignored him. Boor, yes. Moreover, as I stated, you have gone about topic to topic trying to start the same conversation there, demanding attention to what you would like to talk about, regardless of what others are discussing at the time. And not on this blog only, but on Remi’s and dailyminyan and, if I recall correctly, Rosh Pina. It has become so bad that I regularly ignore your comments, now. And I know that if someone takes the bait, whatever conversation was happening is now ended.
Is it too much to ask for you to respectfully stay on topic?
Returning to your emotional state. I do not recall ever calling you emotionally deficient, and I do not know what that would mean. But I will try to make a greater effort not to address your emotional state. You are right that it is irrelevant. And I ought not make excuses for your ill-mannered interruptions or your bad faith arguments.
Rereading your post tonight, I was quite moved by your attachment to Isaiah 53. Watching Christian missionaries cling to it, I wonder how many might be turning the pages ragged and falling into their own depression. I can only hope that they seek out the education that is the solution to the problem.
I recall feeling some distress when I read “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell. The subject I was most interested to read in his proofs were the scriptures that Jesus fulfilled. When I got to that section of the book, however, I was quite troubled. When I looked up the prophecies, well, they did not seem to relate to the Messiah at all. I was young at the time, 13 or so, and I thought that I must be crazy to challenge the readings of these passages so long accepted by the Church. That was obviously a mistake.
I put the objection far from me and I did not allow it to trouble me. It was almost 20 years later before I made an honest investigation into those passages. They had not bothered me all this time, for which I admit, I feel ashamed. When I did delve into them, I only sought to know the truth as best as I could understand it. And as I looked over them again, I felt troubled, deeply troubled at the unfair usage of Tanach (or as I called it then, the Old Testament). After some time, it became apparent that, whether or not the Torah was true, the New Testament could not be.
To have learned Torah properly from the very start, to not have to undo decades of miseducation, to have investigated sooner… that would be something. It is a great crime what the Church has done to the Torah of HaShem. I would not wish to be in the shoes of those who placed their own opinions over the Torah of HaShem, and who caused confusion for you and me and so many others.
Jim, you mention that I ignored the point of Tzvi’s post, and ignored his plain contextual reading of Isaiah 53 (under the guidance of rabbis,) that eventually lead him away from Christianity.
I am not ignoring his point, far from it. It is absolutely true and I admit freely that Israel is explicitly identified as the servant of the lord throughout the servant songs in Isaiah, and even indirectly in the Christian Bible itself (Luke 1:54.) I would think you had read many of my other posts by now where I agree with the rabbi.
That said, What we both know is that these same verses can be (and have been historically) applied to messianic figures in both Jewish and Christian traditions.
The Christians apply the passage to Jesus, while some rabbis apply Isaiah 53 to the whole people, (the p’shat,) and others to the figure anointed for war, the messiah son of Joseph.
So, no, I am not ignoring Tzvi’s point of noticing a Christian house of cards in Isaiah 53, I am just well aware that neither reading (the p’shat reading,) nor applying these passages to a messianic figure, constitutes a distortion of the text. Both readings have merit and have been present historically. The rhetorical flourish that always calls Christian usage of the texts “mistranslations and misapplications,” glosses over the historical facts that many groups have applied these passages in the same way Christians have, all the while remaining within a halachic framework.
Its the same as the argument people have about Isaiah 9 and who that applies to. When a rabbi says that Isaiah 9 only refers to Hezekiah, (and NOT to the messiah,) this to me seems partly disingenuous because, If a passage can apply to Hezekiah who was the king of Israel, (whom Hillel saw as a type of Moshiach,) then off course the passage can also be applied to the messiah.
The same goes for Daniel 9. If the anointed who was “cut off,” applies to Agrippa (according to some Jewish commentaries,) then there is mainly a disagreement as to who is referred to, not the time period, or the involvement of a royal figure in the passage. You may disagree with who Christians apply the text to, but it is interpretation, not mistranslation.
I don’t have to argue with rabbi B’s reading of scripture (which is the p’shat,) because I know what he means by his words. I do not repeat and say “bravo for your interpretation rabbi,” because there are numerous posts on the blog where I note that I agree with his reading.
My point is that many times over throughout history these verses have been applied to messianic figures other than Jesus in a way other than the P’shat. The Christians did not develop their hermeneutic in a vacuum.
Bringing up rabbi Emden was not a fallacy of appealing to authority. I brought him up because he was able to use the Christian text to defend his own position, and he did it well. I am not claiming you must listen to him because he is a rabbi. You are falsely accusing me of making that fallacy.
You say that Paul circumcised Timothy for “fear of the Jews,” as the text says, and thereby imply that he only did this for selfish/evil motives. You are making a judgement call that may not be warranted.
Paul makes clear that he submitted himself to receive lashes in (2 Corinthians 11) 5 times. If he was only intent upon being lawless, why does he submit to 39 lashes? Why does he circumcise Timothy “for fear of the circumcision,” why does he take a collection of funds from his congregants to Jerusalem if he doesn’t consider himself to be allied with the Jerusalem Church?
Concerned Reader Tzvi realized that the Christian application of Isaiah 53 to Jesus was faulty long before he spoke to Rabbis – read his post again.
Furthermore – while it si true that there are various levels of interpretation of Isaiah 53 some of which could be Messianic – still and all – to apply this passage as irrefutable proof to teh claims of Jesus requires mistranslation and misapplication.
The entire point of Tzvi’s post was that his ignorance was taken advantage of – Tzvi knowledge of Isaiah 53 now includes the Jewish Messianic interpretations and still and all he realizes he was duped/bamboozled/taken for a ride/deceived – nothing that you have written addresses this truth which is the point fo Tzvi’s post
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
missed the point of the post” and tries to gently steer you back on course. (You ignore him.)
When I already know rabbi B’s opinion on a verse, (the P’shat,) and my own agreement with him is listed in print on the blog, am I really ignoring him? Or is it rather that I’m trying not to simply restate an opinion which I share with rabbi B that’s been stated before? The rabbi asked me what the point was of my comment, and I answered what the point was. The sentiment that says, “I believed Christian idea X because I had no Jewish education,” can be shown to be an irrelevant factor, an oversimplification.
Plenty of Jews who had plenty of knowledge went down the same road as Christians. So, clearly, its not as simple as a lack of proper education. That was an on point contribution that I made to the discussion. I also said, I understand Tzvi’s point that he made. I understand the feelings of “tearing through the pages.”
You could say he was duped in that the missionaries did not present all the interpretations in an honest way, i agree 100% there, but since there are Jewish interpretations which apply 53 to a messianic figure, in that sense, it is not misapplication.
When messiah ben yosef dies in battle, his death stimulates national repentance as per Zechariah.
The Death and sorrow over the loss of MBY is what produces the national turning.
Sorrow over the death of J and repentance is the model found in the Christian book of Acts for the meaning of js death.
Its true, Paul’s vicarious sacrifice is a later development, but the basic groundwork for the basic Christian premise exists within the Jewish interpretations. I think thats one reason that it reccurs.
So the problems are:
1. The circular reasoning aspect of these movements: first the messianic figure is found, then the texts you cite are pointed to as proof that the groundwork for these movements lie in Tanach).
2. The bad faith arguments: the fact that Christian scripture has to misrepresent Tanach to shore up its new religious proposition proves that it argues in bad faith. And as you well know, Isaiah 53 is not the only one of these.
By the way, you missed Rabbi B.’s point about Isaiah 53. If I understood him correctly, he says using an interpretation of the text to change your theology is problematic, since it’s an interpretation and not a plain-meaning assessment about the kind of worship the Author teaches us to engage in.
Also, Con, Jim’s arguments about your method are well-considered. Instead of getting defensive, you would do well, in the spirit of truth seeking, to scrutinize them and yourself deeply and carefully. It’s not easy to accept criticism but we become better people for it when we examine it in an honest way.
Dina, Jim accused me falsely of saying I’ve made an appeal to authority by quoting one of rabbinic Judaism’s teachers. I was merely stating that your own rabbis are able to defend themselves using the Christian Bible. That’s not conjecture, its not clever interpretation, its just historical fact. What Rabbi Emden did, Nachmanides also did, and Isaac of Troki did. This is not meant to invoke their authority, but to show their honest ability to defend Judaism given an honest appraisal of Christian sources.
Jim said: “If I find a rabbi that disagrees with Rabbi Emden, then to whom should I listen? If I find a church authority who disagrees, to whom should I listen? How will I sort out one opinion from another?”
A person must weigh the information, and decide what sounds most credible, and what appears to be in step with the message, to examine it for themselves. If we follow anyone blindly, we do ourselves a disservice.
Jim said: “Regarding the blog using the NT to defend Judaism’s fundamentals: on this point suspects that you are being intentionally obtuse. I did not indicate that one should not use the NT, you, a Christian, or a Jew. I think you will note that when R’ Blumenthal quotes the NT, he is at great pains to convey its meaning honestly. He does not take passages out of context to paint a false picture of the NT’s meaning. (He might take it out of context in order to show the problems with using Tanach in such a fashion, and I have done so in that limited context.) On the other hand, you have taken both the NT and Tanach out of context regularly and even recently. Therefore, this blog does not deal with the Christian text unjustly. You do.”
I have seen Rabbi Blumenthal, Rabbi Scobac, and Rabbi Singer all read the New Testament and come to the honest conclusion that it is very likely that the historical Jesus and his earliest followers did not intend to end observance of the Torah in their movement.
I have even seen rabbis use the New testament to defend the Oral Torah. I have seen messianic believers, (on their way out of the messianic movement,) who had reconciled their observance with following Jesus in some messianic capacity. I’m stating what I have SEEN, not an interpretation of my own creation. This is why my allusion to rabbi Emden is not an appeal to authority, but me pointing out what I have seen rabbis say honestly.
That was an honest reading of the text’s intentions on the part of the rabbis, and they had no reason to fudge anything. I think that when Jim accuses me of misquoting the New Testament, it comes from his unique exposure to the Christian text.
Take Jim’s perspective on Paul. Jim seems to assume that I misquote Paul by noting that he had no problem with people observing works.
Does Jim realize that both eastern orthodox and Catholic Christians (that’s the vast majority of the world’s oldest Christian Churches/populations,) read the same exact New Testament holding that works are integral to a proper Christian walk and life?
I myself have examined many early manuals of discipline used by the Churches for centuries, among them the didache, the didascalia, Canon law, etc. and in those sources, its clear that Christian practice, (while not identical to halacha,) made a large effort to follow certain rules previously practiced by G-d fearers.
These manuals went into great detail about how a person should conduct themselves, what they should eat, how to interact with non Christians, etc. In a sentence, Centuries of Christians emphasized the importance of certain practices IE works, knowing full well what Paul wrote in his epistles. So, It is not misquoting or misreading Paul to point out that he believed a person must DO certain works.
Ephesians 2:10 states explicitly 10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to DO GOOD WORKS, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
When Paul states that everyone has fallen short, or that none are declared righteous by their works, its contextually clear that he refers to “works” in the sense of a person’s community affiliation, (whether they are a Jew or a gentile,) not in respect of their expected behavior.
Jim Said: Tzvi writes how he painfully went over Isaiah 53. You, of course, did not address the abuse of scripture but went on to talk about something else entirely. When Tsvi writes that the uneducated believe, he is referring specifically to proof-texts, and why a person with knowledge would not read them that way.
Jim is (inadvertently) neglecting that THE EDUCATED PEOPLE HAVE read verses that way, which is why these movements keep emerging. Is their decontextualizing going on? Sure!
The issue is, decontextualizing of the text and deriving new meaning from the text has been a traditional practice within Jewish circles since the time of Jesus.
One man’s misquotation is another man’s acceptable insight on a given source. One might say, “midrash doesn’t override the P’shat.” I agree with this, but this is a relatively recent view.
I am not going to judge Christian sources with an interpretive lens that didn’t exist when they were written.
In the time when the Christian Bible was written, opinions were different among different groups of Jews. We have copies of Torah scrolls that have various group’s interpretations within them. These interpretations were given great, even “prophetic” weight.
Jews disagreed in Jesus’ day whether prophecy and inspiration had actually ended, so when we read these Christian texts, (or the texts of another sect who had similar method,) we cannot simply apply to them a rabbinic hermeneutic that was not codified until 200 years after their composition.
Why do I mention this? Because, creative interpretation of scripture in light of then contemporary events was a known genre, and was believed by people in the time period to have an aspect of “prophecy” to it.
I’m not disagreeing with the rabbi, with Tzvi, or with Jim, that context is extremely important.
Proof texting is indeed a bad practice, (in hindsight,) but in the second temple time period, these methods were common among all groups involved, and we can see that it was another genre of interpretation.
Its easy to examine anyone’s texts with one group’s hermeneutic, through a modern lens and say “oh how foolish they were back then,” but that is not judging them honestly.
You cannot judge pre Talmudic literature by the standards that were later established in the Talmud and call that a fair assessment. Tzvi’s claim that someone educated in rabbinic Judaism wouldn’t be susceptible to Christian proof texts, may be accurate, but I would point out that educated people built these kinds of messianism on more than just proof texting, and the same concepts can arise in Jewish tradition without proof texting. Again, its just an examination of what I have seen happen from history.
1. The circular reasoning aspect of these movements: first the messianic figure is found, then the texts you cite are pointed to as proof that the groundwork for these movements lie in Tanach).
Dina, Where exactly is the dividing line between “circular reasoning,” and claimed “prophetic fulfillment”? In one sense, (scholars say this all the time,) all prophecy can be claimed as circular reasoning. IE “this event happened,” it must be what prophet X was speaking about.”
From Con’s comments, one might think that I said that Paul preached that works were unnecessary or even to be frowned upon. I never said that Paul did not hold them to be “integral to a proper Christian walk and life”. In fact, I would not say that at all. I only mention this because one should not be confused about what I said because Con thinks I mean something else. But I do not wish to distract from the actual topic, so I will take this no further.
Con, once again, you’re so busy defending yourself that you fail to see that your post confirms what Jim has been saying all along…
But I agree with Jim–never mind! Either one day you’ll see it or you won’t, not my business, really.
As for your claim that in a sense all prophecy is circular because it’s understood only after the event happens–that’s because you still define prophecy in the Christian sense. Christians think prophecies are supposed to be riddles.
In Tanach, prophecies for the most part (and I emphasize because I know you’re going to rush to show me some that are not) are clear and indisputable–and when they are not, then they certainly cannot be used to underpin new ideas about how to worship God.
A generic example of a clear prophecy is when a prophet says that if you don’t stop worshiping idols you will be exiled from the land and hounded by your enemies. So when that actually happens, the people don’t mull over the text and say, “Oh, shoot, that must be what the prophet meant.” Instead they say, “Dang, we should have believed him and behaved ourselves instead of poking fun.”
One of the (many) reasons for Jews to reject Jesus as the messiah is the very fact that the messianic prophecies paint a clear expectation for the messianic era which Jesus failed to usher in. See for example Ezekiel 37:15-28. There isn’t really anything to dispute over here or to wonder what the prophet means.
So if a prophecy is understood only after it comes to pass–then, yes, that is circular reasoning, my friend, and you should be very skeptical indeed.
A certain commenter here is writing things that are only bound to cause confusion to the uneducated, just as he is himself confused. His writings give shelter to the Christian, lending a sort of credibility to Christian misreadings of Tanach. He tells us that the way the early Church used Tanach was an accepted practice at the time, shared by many Jewish groups. It was not until 200 years after Jesus that the rabbis codified a new hermeneutic approach that would exclude the Christian method of understanding. This misrepresentation is dangerous in two ways. One, it gives license to Christians to continue to misrepresent Tanach by granting them the justification of saying that the forced readings of the NT are a part of Jewish tradition to which the Christians are therefore being true. Two, it implies a rather malignant charge that the rabbis introduced a new method of reading scripture, altering the way it had been read for over a thousand years.
Certain groups in Jewish history did read the Bible in a peculiar way, attempting to fit current events into the scriptures. This is true. Often they would take a particular figure and try to fit various prophecies to him. Sometimes the figure was noble; sometimes ignoble. The writer in question infers from the existence of these readings that they were an accepted form of reading the scriptures. This is absurd.
Of course, every reading is accepted by the one who does it. That every group who read the scriptures to fit their own views accepted their own readings does not indicated the virtue of such readings; it does not make them correct.
Throughout history people have misread the teachings of others, not just Tanach. Frequently this happens when someone prefers his own opinion to that of the work he is reading. Then he attempts to make this reading conform to his own opinions. To do so, he quotes sentences out-of-context, justifying his reading through various methods that are not pertinent to this discussion. One can watch it today in the way people read the American Constitution and other founding documents. It happens with fiction and non-fiction. The practice is not so much a hermeneutic as it is an attachment to one’s own viewpoint. It is the practice of one not aiming to learn but aiming to prove himself correct.
It should be obvious to all that even these groups do not consider this to be a legitimate way to read the scriptures, because they disagree with one another. The Christian cannot point to the Essene to find support for his misreading of scripture, because he does not believe the Essene reading is correct. He does not point to the wisdom of the Essenes or any of the other groups. He only seeks to justify his own misreadings by treating it as part of the culture, even as he rejects those readings. The rejection of those readings implies, however, that the method being used is unsound. The Christian justification for his misuse of scripture is that those other groups, which did not have the truth as he does, also did so.
The writer in question has done another disservice to the Christian, however, in that he has minimized the problem. Christian misreadings do not merely rely on taking things out of context. They rely on bad translations and alterations. It has been discussed quite thoroughly how Isaiah 7:14 does not contain the word ‘virgin’. Nor is this the only altered word. Isaiah writes that the mother will name the boy “Emmanuel,” while Matthew has “they” calling him Emmanuel. These distortions go beyond reapplying a passage to a new context. Few people believe that actually altering the words in a text is just a hermeneutic for understanding it. Finding a second application of a scripture does not rub the Christian wrong in the same way that alterations do. The former does not appear to be tampering in the same way that the latter does. By inviting the Christian to overlook these alterations, he grants license to the Christian to embrace these mininterpretations.
Moreover, the NT does not misrepresent Tanach only to find Jesus within its pages. This, because the Christian is used to it, is not so troubling to him. But the NT also misrepresents passages to build its philosophy. Often that philosophy is in direct contradiction to the Torah. These misrepresentations go beyond the types and shadows that are supposed to prefigure Jesus. The problem is far graver than the writer would make it appear and far worse than the Christian would like to admit.
By lessening the offenses of the NT, the writer has given the Christian carte blanche to make of the scriptures what he will. And the Christian will all the while believe that he is reading the scriptures in a manner approved by the Jewish people. Only the rabbis later eliminated or minimized this kind of reading, a kind of reading that had been done for over a thousand years before the rabbis codified the Mishna and their rules for hermeneutics.
This implication is truly malignant. The writer has subtly given credence to the idea that the rabbis changed Judaism, probably to exclude Christian readings. To the Christian who believes that the rabbis removed Isaiah 53 from the haftorah and changed a word here or there to avoid Christological implications, the writer has just lent credence to their accusations. The rabbis become again the enemy of humanity as they hide the truth, proving once again their treachery and their hatred for the ‘good and true’ Jesus.
I cannot begin to express how troubled I am by this implication.
The writer attempts to appear nuanced. He agrees that by the modern hermeneutic, the NT readings are incorrect. But he writes that such a hermeneutic was not codified until 200 years after the NT books were written. Though he writes, “codified,” and not “invented,” he implies the latter, inasmuch as he writes that he will not “judge Christian sources with an interpretive lens that didn’t exist when they were written.” He wants to be seen as taking the high road. He believes himself to be fair and impartial, following rules of scholarship. But there is nothing nuanced about this. He is implying that the rabbis have invented a way of reading scripture that did not exist at the writing of the NT.
The charge is serious and must be taken seriously. So, one must ask, what is this great invention of the rabbis?
The rabbis stated that a text should be read primarily according to the plain meaning.
Take a moment to collect yourselves. Right now your minds must be reeling from the perfidy of the rabbis, the audacity of their deception.
Let us examine this accusation. The prophet Hosea prophesied about 800 years before the NT was written, about 1,000 years before the rabbis invented their new hermeneutic. (These are rough numbers drawn from one source. If I am off by 100-200 years, it makes no difference.) For almost 1,000 years, we are to believe that there was no principle that one should read an entire sentence to understand it properly. So when Hoses writes: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt,” it was not commonly believed to be talking about Israel, because the rabbis had not told anyone to read the whole sentence. This invention would come later. Instead, it was a free-for-all, when reading, beginning and ending where one wanted.
This is to say, the rabbis invented the notion that if a sentence is 13 words long, one should not only read five of them.
I am afraid some of you are laughing, but the charge is serious. It ties in to a 2,000 year old persecution of the Jews. It should be obvious that for the first 800 years of Hosea’s prophecy it was not read as relating to Jesus. Obviously the invention was on the part of Matthew, who made the verse to be about something other than Israel. Obviously the invention was not on the part of the rabbis. But the writer wishes us to believe that the rabbis invented a hermeneutic and unfairly applied it, and that this new hermeneutic excluded Christian readings, which would not have been excluded prior to the rabbinic invention.
And as I pointed out a few paragraphs above, the NT relies on altering the language of Tanach. The writer, by ignoring this, has quite dishonestly represented the problem. Or else he is saying that the rabbis invented this notion, too, that one should not alter the text in order to understand it. Did this rabbinic hermeneutic only come about 200 years after the NT books were written as well?
Did not this ‘hermeneutic’ already exist in the minds of every reader, because it exists in the mind of everyone who converses with others? Language is predicated upon listening to all of what a person says. It relies upon knowing the immediate context and the broader context of a conversation. When someone says, “You are not listening to me,” they often mean that the listener is missing the point because they have not understood the context of the comments being made. The listener seldom responds, “I am just applying a different hermeneutic to what you are saying that you would do.” The rabbis did not invent the notion that to understand a text one must read all the words in a sentence and take it in context.
The charge is also dishonest because the rabbis who do counter-missionary work do not appeal to mishnaic hermeneutic principles. They appeal to the common sense reading that everyone expects applies to his own words. The argument is not that the rabbis have a different tradition, a special way of reading Tanach that contradicts the Christian hermeneutic. They are not arguing that Christian tradition is not rabbinic tradition.
They argue according to common principles. These principles the Christian upholds in regard to his own work. These principles the writer in question regards as the proper way to understand his own writing. These principles are those employed in everyday conversation. It is generally, if not universally, agreed upon that the best way to understand what someone has written is to read the whole thing. Since none of these groups believes it acceptable to truncate and alter either their words or the words of the NT, they have no right to do it to others’.
The accusation brought by the writer is ridiculous. But we must not be tempted to laugh about it. He has really written something quite ugly. He is saying that the rabbis altered Judaism to exclude legitimate readings by applying a new standard of reading. He is saying that the Jews have obscured the truth. This is the sort of canard that has historically not gone well for the Jewish people.
Let me be the first to thank you for the thought and work that went into that response. Well put.
Well said, Jim. All we are asking for is common sense. I don’t believe that is a modern invention.
This reminds of me a story that was in the news a good few years ago when Alan Grayson was running against Daniel Webster for a congressional district in Florida. Grayson ran ad after ad attacking Webster for his anti-woman record, playing a clip of Webster saying something like “you should submit to your husbands.” The context of the speech was as follows: Webster told his audience that instead of focusing on biblical verses such as “you should submit to your husbands” (which by the way, is certainly not in the Hebrew Bible), they should focus on verses that talk about improving yourself.
When Grayson was confronted by reporters about this ad and asked if this is an outright lie, he said no. He said it’s not a lie because Webster did actually say the words “you should submit to your husbands.”
What Grayson did is no different from what Matthew and the other authors of the New Testament did. If we find it outrageous in Grayson we should certainly hold up writers of supposedly sacred texts to at least the same standard of honesty!