Still Unanswered, Questions that Dr. Brown Continues to Avoid

Still Unanswered, Questions that Dr. Brown Continues to Avoid

A few weeks ago, I made a presentation entitled “Unanswered, Questions that Dr. Brown Has Failed to Address.” Dr. Brown responded with a video of his own entitled “Dr. Brown Answers Rabbi Blumenthal’s Questions.” As disappointed as I am with Dr. Brown’s video, I will thank him for engaging. By putting his thoughts on the table, the conversation which has stalled for 10 years can now proceed.

As I stated in my previous video, if you have read Dr. Brown’s 5 volumes of Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus and you have read my written critique of his work, then you don’t need these video presentations. Each of the questions that I raise on the video deserves so much more than a few minutes. And in my writings I attempt to do justice to these questions by illuminating them from different angles. So if you have read Dr. Brown’s books and my written work then you have all the information you need to make an informed and educated decision. The purpose of my talk is to encourage you to study the matter more deeply and to learn. I encourage you to overcome your reluctance and read the relevant material, study and analyze.

In my previous video I shared a brief segment of my comprehensive critique of Dr. Brown’s 5 volume series, “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus.” I wanted to put these questions on the table and my primary goal was to demonstrate you that my critique of Dr. Brown presents a serious challenge to his writings.

So I only asked three questions, three basic questions. Dr. Brown took 28 minutes of your time. Did he give you the answers to these questions? I will repeat my questions and I want you to go back to his video and ask yourself, what are the answers? This is supposed to be about education, were you educated?

He filled his video with diversions and distractions and I have responded to those diversions and distractions in the format that we agreed upon 15 years ago. We agreed to answer the challenges that we present to each other in writing. For 15 years now, I have been keeping my end of the deal and I hope to be able to continue to do so. If you want responses to all of his distractions, go to my blog, you will find my responses. https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2016/09/15/responding-to-dr-browns-distractions/

On this video I will repeat my questions. In case you haven’t understood them, and perhaps Dr. Brown did not understand them, I will try to articulate and clarify. Maybe this is my fault? Perhaps I was not clear.

So, to remind you, my three questions were about Dr. Brown’s reader’s guide to the Bible, the Jewish devotion to God and the contradictions that are inherent in Dr. Brown’s presentation of the Messianic prophecies.

Reader’s Guide to the Bible, Dr. Brown vs. God

Jews and Christians read the same Bible. And each of them comes out of this book with a completely different theology, world-views that are polar opposites. Only one of us can be reading this book right. The other one is misusing the text or should I say, abusing the text. One of us allows the text to speak for itself while the other tries to get the text to say something that it does not.

Both Jews and Christians acknowledge that Scripture has a structure to it. Some passages, some concepts are like the central pillars of a building or like the trunk of a tree, while other passages are like the bricks and paint of the building or like the branches and leaves of the tree. But the set of passages that Jews see as central to the narrative of Scripture is not the same set of passages that the Christian is pointing to. One of these two belief systems is looking to the Author of Scripture, to the literary context of the passage in order to make the determination as to whether a verse is indeed foundational and the other belief system is not. This belief system looks to its own theology in order to make that decision. If the verse says something that could be manipulated to be read as supportive of the theology that is being promoted then it becomes “foundational.”

So which is it? Which of these belief systems is looking to the context of Scripture and to the cues of the Author to determine the centrality of a given verse and which belief system is violating the intent of the Author to make this determination? Is it Judaism or is it Christianity?

Dr. Brown makes this very easy for us. Let us read his words. In The Case for Jesus, page 199, when Dr. Brown wants to highlight the priestly role of the Messiah he tells us that Zechariah 6 is “the most overt passage in the Bible where a human being is explicitly identified with a Messianic figure.”

Dr. Brown is telling us that the Divine Author is drawing our attention to this passage. According to Dr. Brown, identifying a human figure with the Messiah is the Author’s way of telling us, “I am about to present an important teaching about the Messiah.” It’s as if an arrow is pointing at this passage with the words “an important teaching about the Messiah” inscribed on its shaft. Fine and well.

But in volume 3 of Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, page 172, Dr. Brown notices that this same passage in Zechariah tells us that this Messianic figure will build the Temple and that doesn’t fit his theology. So Dr. Brown tells us that this passage is found in only one book of the Hebrew Scriptures. The fact that this concept appears in one book is the Author’s way of telling you that this is not important. To use Dr. Brown’s own words “fringe at best” (Line of Fire February 7 2013, 33 minutes in).

But didn’t we have an arrow pointing to this verse telling us that this passage is going to be teaching us something important about the Messiah?

It is obvious that Dr. Brown is not looking to the context of the passage to tell him if the text is central or not. It is his theology that is telling him which texts to highlight and which texts to put into the background. And his non-Scriptural theology could get him to highlight and to minimize the very same text.

But Dr. Brown’s hypocrisy is only symptomatic of the 2000 year approach of the Church to the Jewish Scriptures. In order to get the Scriptures to point in the direction of Jesus the Church is forced to violate the Authorial intent and recreate the literary landscape of Scripture.

When it comes to the question of directing our worship the Church highlights texts such as Genesis 18, Exodus 24 and Numbers 12. But the Author of Scripture never associated these passages with the question of directing our worship. The Author had a lot to say about the question of directing worship and He knows how to tell you when He is going to present a teaching on the subject and he does NOT point to those passages. Instead he points to Deuteronomy 4, Exodus 20, Isaiah 44, Jeremiah 10 and to many similar passages as teachings on this question.

And guess what, these passages, presented by the Author of Scripture as teachings on directing worship is exactly where Judaism draws its theology from as it relates to this question. So which one of us is following the lead of the text and which one is attempting to get the text to follow our lead?

The same applies to the question of sin, guilt and repairing your relationship with God. From the Jewish standpoint, the central texts are Deuteronomy 30 and Ezekiel 33. Both of these are introduced by the Author of Scripture as answers to the question of sin, the former on a national level and the latter on an individual level. But from the Christian standpoint these texts are peripheral to the question of repairing our relationship with God. According to Christianity the central principle of atonement is that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood, a concept which appears nowhere in all of Scripture.

It is on this subject that Dr. Brown actually attempts to provide a partial answer to my question. He argues that since the word atonement appears in Scripture so many times in conjunction with the blood sacrifices, this then tells us how central and important these sacrifices are to the Author of Scripture.

You see, this is a valid point, this argument shows me that Dr. Brown agrees to the premise of my question. He is acknowledging that if the Author of Scripture wants to emphasize something, He repeats it dozens and dozens of times. What Dr. Brown is NOT sharing with his audience is the fact that I have addressed this argument at length in “You are My Witnesses” and in “Contra Brown.”

At this time I will share part of my answer with you.

So Dr. Brown is arguing for the importance and the centrality of the blood offerings described at length in the book of Leviticus. Does Dr. Brown hear what he is saying? Is he encouraging you to obey the Torah and bring the offerings that Moses commanded us to bring? When was the last time that Dr. Brown brought a goat to the Temple in Jerusalem to atone for his sins? Does he yearn to fulfill God’s commandments concerning the sacrifices as do the Jewish people? Of course not! He doesn’t care about the animal sacrifices that are described in the Torah.

But it gets even worse. Does he really believe God when He says that the animal sacrifices brought in the Temple have the power to atone? Or does he believe that Book of Hebrews which declares that the animal sacrifices never atoned to begin with (Hebrews 10:4)? Dr. Brown believes that the sacrifices described at length in Leviticus never really atoned for sin at all and that once Jesus came on the scene, they were discarded and done away with. Is this “acknowledging the centrality of the offerings”? I am sorry, this is just a mockery of God’s word.

Let’s put this whole question into perspective. How important is the Sabbath from the standpoint of a Christian? How does it compare to the “principle” that posits that there is no remission for sin without the shedding of blood? Now search the Jewish Bible, how many times do the prophets exhort our people to guard the Sabbath? Dozens of times. How many times does the Jewish Bible say that there is no remission for sin without the shedding of blood? Zero. Does God not know how to emphasize a point? Did he forget how to write?

Is the Christian looking to the Bible to tell what is important and what is peripheral? It is clear and obvious that Dr. Brown’s read on the Bible is produced by the theology he is trying to promote and that his theology is NOT produced by his read on the Bible.

So that was my first question. How could we ignore God’s reader’s guide to the Bible?

Idolatry, the Violation of a Relationship

Dr. Brown and the 2000 year old missionary campaign of the Church are not only trying to get us to believe a set of beliefs. The Church wants us to commit our hearts. The Church wants us to look at the life and death of Jesus and to get excited about what we see. The Church encourages our hearts to be overwhelmed by what we see and bend our hearts in devotion. It’s not just a matter of believing something with your head, the Church wants us to do something with our heart.

Judaism is also about our heart. Judaism is not just something that we believe with our heads, it is about something that we do with our hearts. Judaism is also about excitement, passion, joy and a deep satisfying relationship. We see God as the source of all goodness and righteousness and our hearts are drawn into complete devotion.

These are two different excitements and devotions. It is entirely possible to be excited about God, the Creator of heaven and earth and not commit oneself to Jesus. And it is completely possible to get excited and worship Jesus and not get excited about the Creator of heaven and earth.

The Church sees the heart of the Jew completely devoted to the One Creator of heaven and earth and the Church is not satisfied. It would have that heart also give devotion to Jesus. The Church would introduce to the Jew a new excitement, a new passion and a new relationship that the heart of the Jew never knew.

So I ask; what are we missing when we sense God’s endless love in every breath we take? What excitement, passion and satisfaction does devotion to Jesus have to offer to us?

Dr. Brown claims that he answered my question in objection 6.8.

I don’t know how you could answer a question without acknowledging the existence of the question. Throughout Dr. Brown’s 5 volumes he never once acknowledges that it is love for God that prevents a Jew from committing to Jesus, but let us see what he says in objection 6.8.

In that section of his book, Dr. Brown tells us about the benefits that we stand to gain if we follow Jesus. But my question has nothing to do with benefits and kickbacks, not even spiritual benefits. Love is not about benefits. Love doesn’t calculate, asking; what do I stand to gain? Love finds joy and satisfaction in the relationship itself.

So here is my question. What joy, what excitement, what passion and what satisfaction are we missing in our relationship with the One Creator of heaven and earth?

Messianic Prophecies, Dr. Brown vs. Dr. Brown

On page 182 of volume 2 (in his series, “Answering Jewish Objections”) Dr. Brown speaks about the prophecies that would indicate a restoration of the sacrificial system in the Messianic era. He tells us that “out of all the prophets whose words were recorded in Scripture, four others (aside from Ezekiel) make mention of future sacrifices.” He goes on to say that the references to future sacrifices in the books of Isaiah, Zechariah and Malachi take up a total of three verses. He concludes with the words, and I quote; “These are hardly major subjects in these prophetic books.”

Dr. Brown goes on to offer the possibility of a non-literal interpretation of these passages.

Yet in volume 3, when he notes that Maimonides states that the Messiah does not necessarily have to perform miracles he passes judgment on Maimonides and he tells us that Maimonides’ interpretation of Scripture was “no doubt” motivated by the need to “rule out” Jesus as the Messiah. Why? Because Maimonides puts forth the possibility that the Messiah does not necessarily need to perform miracles.

Why are the alleged miracles of the Messiah so important to Dr. Brown? You see, Jesus tells the Jews that if they would have believed Moses they would believe him (John 5:46). This was before the crucifixion, before the alleged resurrection and before he even rode on a donkey. So which prophecies did he fulfill up until that time? None! Unless you believe that the prophets said that the Messiah must perform miracles and you also believe that Jesus did perform those miracles. So these miracles are critical for Dr. Brown. Dr. Brown absolutely needs Maimonides to be wrong.

But there are a grand total of three verses that could be misconstrued to read as if the Messiah must perform miracles. They appear in only one book of the prophets.

So according to Dr. Brown’s own standard, Maimonides is completely justified to offer a non-literal interpretation of Messiah’s miracles. And the fact of the matter is that the context of those 3 verses in Isaiah makes it clear that they are not talking of literal miracles.

Furthermore, in order to minimize the restoration of the sacrifices in the Messianic era Dr. Brown makes a point of counting how many times in Scripture this concept appears. But he missed 4 prophecies (Isaiah 56:7, 60:7, Ezekiel 20:40,41, Malachi 3:3,4). His count is completely off!

How does Dr. Brown explain this? The prophecies that speak of the restoration of the sacrifices take up more than double the space than do the prophecies that speak of Messiah’s miracles even according to Dr. Brown’s interpretation and even according to Dr. Brown’s sloppy count. So why is it OK for him to reinterpret the restoration of the sacrifices and allow for a non-literal interpretation but for the miracles of the Messiah, he makes no such allowance? Why the double standard?

And my question is quite simple. If Jesus is the Messiah of the Jewish Scriptures than why does Dr. Brown have to tie his argument in the knot of self-contradiction when he tries to make a case for Jesus?

Conclusion

All I asked was three questions. Dr. Brown responded with a 28 minute video entitled “Dr. Brown Answers Rabbi Blumenthal.” But he does not answer my questions.

Please, try to understand my questions and ask yourself if they deserve answers. If you agree that these questions are indeed valid and that they deserve to be answered I encourage you to go back to Dr. Brown’s video and see if he answered them. This is not about me, this is not about Dr. Brown, this is about you. Did his video give you answers or did they not?

And to Dr. Brown my message is simple. If you have any clarity or insight to add to this discussion, please share it with us. Answers that you carry around in your head or that are found on papers that the public may not see benefit no one. You owe it, not to me, but to the public to share your answers.

I sincerely believe that such a discussion can lead to greater clarity and will benefit the public. I have put all the clarity that I am able to muster up until this point on the table for everyone to read and see. Questions from people like you have forced me to study more deeply. These challenges have allowed me to achieve greater clarity and have forced me to articulate the position of Judaism more clearly for myself and for others. So again, if you have something to add to this discussion, please take the time and share it with us.

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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47 Responses to Still Unanswered, Questions that Dr. Brown Continues to Avoid

  1. Yehuda says:

    Hello Rabbi B.

    G’mar Chasima Tovah.

    Just wanted to let you know, in case you hadn’t noticed that Dr. B. posted another youtube entry in this exchange. You are obviously free to do with it as you please. I for one don’t think it adds much substance. It’s more of the same. A mix of

    – reiterating his challenge to debate you live.
    – Triumphantly claiming that your arguments are futile
    – calling you a nitpicker in the face of his – how many pages was it again? Oh yes FIFTEEN HUNDRED – how could I forget, he keeps repeating it over and over again.
    – continuing to reiterate that he HAS in fact addressed portions of scripture you raise but unable (or unwilling) to acknowledge that you are not just claiming he hasn’t responded, you HAVE acknowledged his prior responses and are now articulating specific challenges to the merit of those responses.
    – his continued insistence on the pointlessness of these video clips and how ineffective you are being and not worthy of response…before he proceeds film his latest response.

    One I really liked is when you asked about the relative emphasis scripture places on Sabbath observance vs, the doctrine of “no atonement without blood”. I believe when you verbalized that one you said something like “If you’re a christian let me ask you this. On a scale of 1 to 10…” Dr. Brown then proceeds to respond to that by starting off with “When did the Torah ever command gentiles to keep the Sabbath?”. Good Grief. First of all you never said “Gentiles” Furthermore, anyone following this – especially someone like Dr. Brown and the rest of the viewers who have the opportunity to pause and rewind – realizes that your mention of “christians” in introducing that question was not directed at gentile Christians per se. You were simply posing the question to the christian perspective in general – and to the christian jewish missionary perspective in particular – whether gentile, Jewish, or other. That much was self evident to any honest follower of this exchange. But that would have deprived Dr. Brown of his irrelevant smokescreen opportunity to mention the inapplicability of the sabbath to gentiles. Seriously?

    Anyway a gut gebenscht yahr.

    Y.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Yehuda,

      Can you post the link to the youtube video? Sometimes I have to give in to my masochistic tendencies…

      Thank you, and gmar chasima tova.

    • Yehuda A Gut gebentchte yohr to you – gmar chasima tova. I know about his “response” – I hope that my response to him will be posting in the near future. I was wondering where the Scriptures say that gentiles need blood sacrifice? Also did you get why he said that the Scriptures that he forgot were not relevant to the issue of restoration of sacrifices? I didn’t – Isaiah 56:7, 60:7, Ezekiel 20:40,41; Malachi 3:3,4 – are pretty clear.

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • Yehuda says:

        Nope not really. He seemed to be saying something about 3 out of 4 not necessarily referring to the messianic era proper. I didn’t get it. Also when he then at the end goes on to list all the stuff he didn’t bother to mention a) he begs the question as to why he didn’t, if he thought them relevant to his point, and b) based on my admittedly quick perusal he includes anything speaking of the greatness of the messianic era – miraculous or otherwise – as somehow relevant to the question of miracles unequivocally attributed to personal performance by messiah himself, which they are clearly not.

        Note to CP, (by the way, Hi,, nice to meet you.) this is one of the reasons not to debate Dr. Brown live. Despite his repeated assurances that his motivation is his conviction in the “Truth” to guide him rather than debating style, like it or not, he is a debating tactical expert. That’s his specialty and he knows it It’s a craft he has honed over decades. Unfortunately too many people who have agreed to debate him do not appreciate this are ill equipped to debate him or both. He fully recognizes that Rabbi B. is a formidable foe, but he would still like to stand there with his nice suits, well groomed mustache, perfect teeth, his impeccable delivery, his generally unflappable demeanor, his well practiced condescending/borderline sympathetic chuckle coupled with the feigned politeness in response to arguments he thinks are false. Then you layer all those things on top of his habit of blurting out a litany of irrelevant scriptural references which he knows most of his audience will never bother to look up and claim victory.

        Take a moment to look at the comments that get posted by his devotees on his youtube videos in this exchange. See how many of them comment on loving Dr. Brown and calling those who avoid debating him chicken as opposed to how many (if any) point admiringly to any specific argument he made in the video. That’s why you don’t debate him live.

        Let me ask you this CP, Dr. brown devotes some time in each video response to condescendingly criticize Rabbi B. for refusing to debate him and continuing with these video posts. He of course talks about how nothing has been refuted and that these posts hardly advance the truth and only make Rabbi B’s arguments only look more feeble and that on the whole they really don’t earn a response….And then he responds…Why do think that is?

        • CP says:

          Yehuda,

          Thanks for the note.
          Nice to meet you also.

          Yes, you bring up some valid points. Debates of this kind should expose the spectator to both sides of the issues being discussed rather than who is the better debator. Perhaps this finely honed talent of Dr Brown is beginning to be a liability as more refuse to debate with him. Unfortunately we are the real losers, unable to listen to the best in their fields discuss the issues we ourselves are passionate about but perhaps lacking the knowledge of both sides.

          Here’s a suggestion; Pick one topic, separately both Dr Brown and R’ Blumenthal could make a 15 – 30 minute YouTube video on that subject or Scripture passage. Then both could respond to the others video in another 15 minute video then no more on that topic. If it works do it again on a new topic; one video and one response each.
          That should level the playing field some so we can all see both sides clearly.

          • Yehuda says:

            Well CP, that’s more or less what we’re watching in this video exchange. I for one think it’s going rather poorly for Dr, Brown. Even when he claims responsiveness he just isn’t. he disguises his non-responsiveness in partial references to the verses in question and subtly bending the discussion in a direction that was never really the point.

            Let me provide a clear example. Rabbi B has challenged Dr Brown – citing chapter and verse from his books – to address the issue of his double standard on whether the number of books or verses supporting a doctrine is a valid standard of support for the doctrine. Listen to the exchanges again and tell me if Dr. brown has been truly responsive. His last attempt at deflection was to try to bury the listener in an avalanche of utterly irrelevant quotes to show that he could have cited much more than he originally did but for some reason just didn’t – until now.

  2. CP says:

    Honestly curious; what is preventing a debate?

  3. Yehuda says:

    DIna,

    Nothing personal but I’d prefer to leave it to Rabbi B. to post if he sees fit. It’s his blog. But it’s easy enough to find on youtube. It’s about 20 minutes long and was posted within the last week.

    Kol Tuv.

  4. Dina says:

    I watched Dr. Brown’s response this morning and I have not found that he answered the arguments, mostly just asserting that he did and pointing to his books or citing some Scripture. I found especially strange his obsession with the animal sacrifices ending with the idea that the Sabbath was not given to the gentiles to observe. I have news for you, Dr. Brown. Neither were the sacrifices.

    He especially did not respond to Rabbi B.’s point that he believes the sacrifices are worthless and has never personally sacrificed a goat at the Temple, himself.

  5. Dido's Desolate Domain says:

    Dr. Brown cannot answer these questions, because Christianity fundamentally contradicts many fundamentals of Judaism.

    • CP says:

      @DDD,
      While I agree Christianity fundamentally contradicts Judaism, it must be admitted Judaism contradicts Torah. While I agree even Yeshua was in agreement with the Oral Torah to some extent, an extra 250 thousand words can hardly be ignored as not adding to Torah.

    • bible819 says:

      Yes, for Christians, the Law is written on our hearts. Yes, Faith in Yeshua is the fulfillment of what was written on a rock while Israel was making a golden calf.

      Like Abraham, not 1 law was written, but his heart was Circumcised to illustrate true righteousness.

      Faith to believe God to go to the Promise land = Abraham

      Faith to believe God to go to Yeshua= Christianity

  6. Concerned Reader says:

    Debates between these guys simply cant work because Rabbi B and Dr. Brown are both working from 2 distinct intellectual traditions. Dr. Brown is operating as an orator, and a person with a background in near eastern studies, he is a talented speaker.

    Rabbi B wants to argue Talmud’s way. Let all the arguments in their detail be written, and let the responses be given in writing, until the issue is settled.

    Unfortunately, both Rabbi B and Dr. Brown are also working from a different set of assumptions and starting positions which will make them talk over and past each other.

    For example, Dr. Brown might find certain appocrypha, theological trends, or certain theologians in Judaism’s past that have some semblance of support for his positions. (Dr. Brown finds this information contextually illuminating,) but Rabbi B (nor Judaism generally) would find those sources to be acceptable or authoritative in any way to determine context.

    So, the question as to which hermeneutic approach to take seriously often clouds the issue. Dr. Brown and Rabbi B both say to let scripture interpret scripture, but both are wearing and using different lenses.

    -Dr, Brown employs a more historical critical approach (because of his background in near eastern languages and studies,) while rabbi B takes the halachic approach.

    Rabbi B assumes the oral Torah as being the authentic explanation of the Torah’s meaning, Dr. Brown does not assume that, because his sacred text shows division on that question.

    Dr. Brown does believe that certain aspects of rabbinic literature may be insightful however, but all the same he sees it as anachronistic to interpret the New Testament through the lens of later Jewish literature.

    When either side says “lets argue Moshiach from scripture only,” both sides in fact recognize this as a futile exercise, because again, starting points and assumptions guide a person’s hermeneutic at all times.

    Both sides understand that most of what is mentioned in scripture involves the era of the messiah, with disagreements as to which specific verses allude to his person.

    Take for example Daniel 9’s weeks. Both groups recognize a period that ends with the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE in Daniel’s weeks.

    For Dr. Brown the text is a prophetic text and is messianic. For Rabbi B, its in the writings, and its not messianic, and this can change the reading.

    For Dr. Brown the actual presence of the word Moshiach (though it doesn’t specify David,) and Daniel 9:24’s seemingly clear parallels to the spirit of Isaiah chapter 11 make Daniel 9 a good candidate for a messianic passage.

    For some in Judaism, those passages were fulfilled in king Cyrus of Persia (who was called a messiah,) and Herod Agrippa as the one who was “cut off.” Also, according to the rabbis, the book says prophecy was sealed, so it cant be a messianic prophetic text.

    I honestly think its not going to be a fair dialogue to either side, because you both have different approaches and assumptions, and you both have support to martial to your positions that you both regard as legitimate or illegitimate to differing degrees.

    • CP says:

      @Concerned Reader

      Personally believing both the Talmud and the NT are NOT inerrant

      Here is a debate I’d like to see:

      Dr Brown and Rabbi Blumenthal need to debate as if they lived before Yeshua, using only the Tanakh to speculate what the Messiah might be.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          If rabbi B and Dr. Brown had that discussion, I think Rabbi B would win (based on a plain contextual reading,) and not Dr. Brown. If we look at just the Tanakh alone we find a few things.

          1. The Torah (the 1st five books) sets down the standard that says “obey these commandments I am giving you today to be blessed.” or “disobey them and you will be cursed and exiled.” Also, “return to observance and I will accept you,” “leave observance and you will be punished.”

          2. There was no king for Israel until king Saul, and when the people of Israel 1st asked for a king the prophet chastised them for even asking for a king like the nations have. IE in Torah by itself, kings are not actually a priority, but commandments are .

          3. The Torah speaks about people (who are not even covenant members of Israel as a nation,) as being godly people IE Naamaan the Syrian, Cyrus of persia, or Rahab the harlot who helped hide the spies.

          If we look at Isaiah 11 we are told to expect an era of peace and universal knowledge of G-d under a descendant of David.

          The Torah text (speaking of descendants) says that tribes are reckoned according to their fathers, and the kings will come from David’s own insides. 2 Samuel 7:12 “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.”

          So, we see the text by itself teaches

          1. Follow Torah and mitvot = good do not follow Torah and mitzvot =Bad
          2. following Kings are not a necessity to follow hashem.
          3. Non covenant members can be blessed by hashem even if they are not perfect.

          So, to me it doesn’t seem like Torah itself talks about a vicariously suffering redeemer as a product of just the Torah alone.

          In fact, I watched a debate between Dr. Brown and some rabbis where the agreed upon source was supposed to be just the Tanakh. Dr, Brown couldn’t stick just to the written text and brought Talmud and midrash into the discussion.

          That’s another reason that I think the argument itself is absurd. jesus’ movement never relied on “just the Bible,” they accepted at least some of the traditions. As I said, there would be no Nazarene Messiah if Jesus was born a Sadducee.

      • CP I laid out all these arguments in writing – Dr. Brown only asks for a debate because he has no answers – he had 1500 pages to fill with his answers and he didn’t

        1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

    • Concerned Reader Excuse me! I am working from any honest context in Jewish Scripture – Dr. Brown is working from the “Jesus is th only valid hermeneutical principle for interpreting Scripture” angle. I have laid out my arguments in writing – I hope to do so in video format – there is nothing to Dr. Brown’s arguments

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • KAVI says:

        Rabbi,
        Concerned Reader fairly assessed the issue regarding this Brown/Blumenthal debate.
        __________________________

        I think there was once a story about about a student who approached their professor in a quandary regarding a particular perceived discrepancy in the Tanakh/B’rit Chadashah [take your pick– they both have plenty– along with plenty of extremely well-educated scholars to help explain them].

        **Student– “Professor, I’m in terrible straights and can’t sleep at nights! I have been reading and listening to debates and studying for weeks and weeks trying to figure out this problem with Scripture. All I found out is that one group of scholars say one thing while another group says the complete opposite, and yet there’s others in between. Who’s right?”

        **Professor– “Yes, you have correctly identified what the scholars say. But, now it’s time for you to carefully choose YOUR scholars.”

        For myself, I think the point is that each individual should at least try to understand another person’s Faith whether they agree or not [hence I am also presently reading about Islam]– but in the end, each person must make a vitally important, eternal choice.
        _____________________

        I decided to buy Dr. Brown’s entire series of “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus” and first read through Volume 1 and then switched over to read parts of Volume 5 [much of which covers problems with the Oral Law].

        Although I believe L-rd Yeshua to be the Mashiach of Promise found in Genesis and throughout the Tanakh, I also thought it would be fair to begin reading your “Contra Brown” discourse.

        As to one of your comments, I can agree that, “. . . the true message of scripture emerges from an understanding of the totality of scripture.” But what happens when someone reads the totality of Scripture and comes to a reasoned conclusion that Mashiach is L-rd Yeshua?

        As to Dr. Brown, what I read so far, at a minimum, is well-researched and logical– so isn’t it just a tiny, wee bit of a stretch to say, “. . .there is ‘nothing’ to Dr. Brown’s arguments.”?

        • KAVI I don’t expect you to take me on my word – I laid out all of my arguments in writing – Contra Brown, Supplement to Contra Brown and The Elephant and the Suit. Dr. Brown’s work is a work of deception – it is actually worse than nothing. The fact that he hasn’t reacted for 10 years until I started putting my arguments in video format – should also tell you something

          1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • KAVI says:

            Rabbi,
            Dr. Brown calls you a friend in his first video dated 09/09/16.

            I also listened to your video and continue to read through your documents– but I haven’t yet seen where you reckon Dr. Brown as a friend?

            In Rabbinic Judaism, is there any place for you to maintain a friendship with someone like Dr. Brown– a fellow Jew?

    • Dina says:

      Con, no, you’re wrong. Dr. Brown is reading Tanach with his Jesus glasses on. This makes it impossible for him to read the Torah honestly.

      Rabbi B. is reading the Torah with his Mount-Sinai-Revelation glasses on. That is the only way to read the Torah honestly.

      There is no moral equivalence here.

      They cannot both be right. One of them is wrong, and it sure ain’t Rabbi B.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Dina, I said in my comment that rabbi B wants to argue Talmud’s way, IE yes, he has his Sinai glasses on, i’m not in disagreement. As you know, As rabbi B noted once, the Torah does not make arguments to convince those who are outside the fold. The Torah’s argument for its legitimacy rests on the historical experience of the people Israel.

        There are a great many people however who have faith in Hashem, but do not have the benefit of your historical experience. IE they don’t just take your word for it that your interpretation is the correct one.

        I’m not trying to make a moral equivalence here, you are. I am noting that we have two men with different sets of glasses on who can both martial support for their position. I am not making a judgement against rabbi B. That isn’t my intention. My intention was to say what I said. In a debate, they would be talking over and past each other.

  7. Yehuda says:

    Con and CP,

    I think you are both overcomplicating the issue in this dialogue. Here’s another example – Have you actually listened to this exchange and the relative treatments of Deuteronomy 30? Rabbi B. has made clear that Dr. Browns very brief touching on the passage provides answers that are inadequate because they are at odds with the simple meaning of the very words of the passage in question. Dr. brown by contrast keeps responding as if Rabbi B’s complaint is that he hasn’t addressed the passage at all. Rabbi B. acknowledges that Dr. brown has addressed it, but he has explained why Dr. brown’s response is entirely unacceptable. Dr. Brown just keeps responding that he has addressed it without acknowledging the nature of Rabbi B’s counter-objection – or that he has even registered one.

    This isn’t about differing worldviews, or about competing hermeneutics, or about emphasis on historical vs. rabbinic approaches. It’s just about dodging an issue while triumphantly claiming you have refuted it. It’s what Dr. Brown does best and it is the reason you do not debate him live. In fact go back and listen again to Dr. Brown’s explanation of Deut 30 where he reiterates his “two” possible interpretations. Tell me if you can actually distinguish two different explanations or whether he actually just repeats only one using two different sets of words. They both just amount to a declaration that the return to God described in Deut 30 means a return via acceptance of Jesus – an utterly untenable interpretation if you actually read the whole passage – but the only acceptable one if you are a christian.

  8. Yehuda says:

    If you want specific directions (Dina provided the link in an earlier comment) listen specifically to Dr. brown hold forth from 9:05 to 9:45 and tell me if he has responded to Rabbi B.s question on his treatment of Deuteronomy 30. Listen especially from 9:30 – 9:40 for a particularly funny demonstration of double-talk.

    That’s right folks Deuteronomy 30:2 which reads

    “And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and hearken to His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul”

    and Deuteronomy 30:8

    “And thou shalt return and hearken to the voice of the LORD, and do all His commandments which I command thee this day. ”

    in particular, are both NOT describing a return to G-d that consists of obedience to the Laws of the Torah as taught by Moses. Rather, they are describing accepting the new-covenant of jesus.

    You gotta love it.

    Tell me folks, is that a man reading the scripture and finding the Jesus, or having found Jesus, playing where’s Waldo to find him in scripture.

  9. Yehuda says:

    I apologize for the backwards presentation , but just to be absolutely clear, Rabbi B posted (both in his video and in the accompanying written post) the following reaction to Dr. browns two (one?) interpretation(s) of Deut: 30 in his post of September 15 “Responding to Dr. Michael Brown’s Distractions” (Actually Rabbi B acknowledged these Brownian interpretations and lodged his counter-argument several years ago with his publication of “The Elephant and the Suit” from which these quotes are taken.)

    “Both of these positions are openly refuted by the text. Moses told the people that they will return to obey God, “according to all that I (Moses) command you (Eternal Israel) today”. These words were spoken by Moses more than 1000 years before Jesus was born. Moses made it clear that he expected the last generation of Jews to look back to him (Moses) as their ultimate teacher, and that he expected them to follow his commandments as they were understood on the day he presented them to Israel. These words of Moses clearly preclude the Christian belief that Jesus is the ultimate teacher, and that the teachings of Jesus are somehow superior to the teachings of Moses.

    The second position that Dr. Brown attributes to followers of Jesus is also invalidated by the Biblical text. The passage opens with words: “And it shall be that all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse…” The curse that Moses is referring to is the curse that God warned would befall Israel should they fail to obey His voice. How then can one make the claim that on account of Israel’s failure to obey God, this Scriptural prophecy will never be fulfilled? This same prophecy clearly predicts Israel’s failure to obey and tells us how, after our failure, we will ultimately return to God. It is clear that God took our failures into consideration when He encouraged us with these words, and God’s promises are irrevocable. ”

    Dr. Brown then responded with his video of September 28th in which he includes my above referenced segment 9:05 – 9:45.

    So this is what I ask. Did Dr. brown acknowledge that Rabbi B. knows about his two (one) interpretation(s), and has questions about them (it), and then set out to address those questions, or did he simply pretend that Rabbi B is still accusing him only of not addressing the passage at all and merely repeat his two (one) interpretation(s) and claim to be done with it…Which did he do? You decide.

    • Dina says:

      Excellent point, that is exactly right, Yehuda. Dr. Brown is one of the slickest, slipperiest missionaries I’ve ever encountered.

    • Sharon S says:

      Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

      Good day.

      You wrote that Jews and Christians read the same bible, but each come out with a completely different theology. Only one is reading the book right.

      From my experience ,most of the articles and arguments I find in this blog or other Jewish counter missionary sites compares the doctrines of Christianity  ( the New Testament) against the Jewish Scriptures . These arguments point out on how Christianity differ significantly from the message of the Jewish scriptures.

      However, one thing that I have learnt, -BOTH Jews and Christians rely on separate authoritative sources – the Jewish tradition and the Christian Scriptures (NT) / Christian tradition in Orthodox denominations to further interpret  and  “flesh out” the message of the Jewish Scriptures. The interpretation both communites derive from the Jewish Scriptures may differ from the plain meaning of the text.

      I have come across teachings in Jewish tradition which seems similar to the teachings of Christianity. These teachings in Jewish tradition, some listed below  seem to contradict the Jewish Scriptures as well.

      1.“all the Torah learned in the present world will be vain compared to the Torah of Mashiach.”

      What does “all Torah learned in the present world” mean? Does this mean the Torah taught and interpreted by Moses, the Sages , the tannaim, amoraim and all esteemed Rabbis (Savoraim, Geonim, Rishonim, Acharonim) up to present day? If we go by that definition , then does this mean that the Torah (and Halacha) taught by these esteemed individuals will be in vain/nullified once the Torah of Mashiach is revealed?

      2.“the unique pre-existing soul of Mashiach ‘stored’ in Gan Eden from aforetimes will descend and be bestowed upon that tzadik’’

      The teaching that the soul of the Mashiach which is “preconceived from the very beginning” and “precede the creation” seems similar to Paul’s description of Jesus in Colossians 1:15 as “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation”

      3.Teachings by Ramchal (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato) that mankind (apart from the Jewish nation) is “found to be fit to stay on the lowly level of mankind that Adam and his offspring had reached due to his sin – and not higher than this at all.”

      It seems what Ramchal is teaching here echoes the teachings of Christianity , that man have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) .

      There are contradictions within the Jewish scriptures as well:

      a.The sacrificial act of Jesus in the NT does not accord with the purpose and mechanics of the sacrificial offerings in the Torah,

      b.The written Torah has stated clearly that “Parents are not to be put to death for their children nor children put to death for their parents, each will die for their own sin” (Deuteronomy 24:16) . This principle is repeated in Ezekiel 18 & 33.

      c.However , we do see in the Jewish Scriptures of God laying the iniquity of a group of people on another .The famous example is in Isaiah 53 .  We have to acknowledge from this passage that God can transfer sin liability on anyone He wishes. The person on whom sin liability is laid upon may be punished for it (Isaiah 53:4-5). God makes his life as an “offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10). This seems to contradict the teachings from the Torah (a & b)

      My question as follows:

      a.Are the Jewish Scriptures meant to be read in a Sola Scriptura manner, or are these Scriptures meant to be interpreted within a living community/ tradition?

      b. Can we really rely on the context and cues of the Author from the written Scripture itself   when the interpretation BOTH communites derive from the Jewish Scriptures may differ from the plain meaning of the text?

      c. Should we compare  the Jewish Scriptures with authoritative sources in BOTH Judaism ( Jewish tradition) & Christianity ( New Testament/ Tradition)?

      d. Should  we reconsider the differences between Judaism & Christianity  when there seem to be similar teachings  in both Jewish  tradition & Christian Scriptures/ tradition?

      Thank you

      • Sharon S Thank you for your questions. Although it is true to say that both communities (Jewish and Christian) read the Jewish Scripture through the lens of their respective social contexts – however there is a vast difference between the position that Jewish Scripture has in the Jewish mind/heart and where it stands in the Christian mind/heart. The Jew sees his/her tradition as a fleshing out of the Scriptures – the Scriptures still remain the only document that contains the raw word of God. The primary source of Jewish dogma is the Jewish Scriptures. In the case of the Christian this is not true. Since the Christian has elevated the Christian Scriptures to the same and even higher status than that of the Jewish Scriptures – practically, the dogma of the Jewish Scriptures has been superseded for the Christian.

        So to address the points you brought up – The Torah of this world is vain compared to the Torah of the Messiah – since we know that Moses is the greatest prophet this is not taken to mean that the Messiah will supersede Moses in any way – it is understood to mean that the Messiah will reveal so much deeper meaning in Moses’ Torah that the understanding we had before the Messiah will pale in comparison – it will not be a different Torah – it will be understood on a deeper level – not in a way that nullifies the previous but in a way that adds more meaning and light to the previous.

        The soul of Messiah precedes creation – this does not make the Messiah divine or worthy of worship – everyone’s soul is said to be carved from God’s throne of glory which also preceded creation – this has to do with Messiah’s mission and his ability to reach all of mankind

        Ramchal’s teaching that the gentile is lower/less than the Jew. This is not parallel to Christianity’s dehumanization of the Jew. The Ramchal’s understanding of the inherent nobility of the humanity of the non-Jew is way higher than the Christian’s understanding of the humanity of the believing Christian – the Ramchal is not dehumanizing anyone – he is speaking of the universal mission of the Jew in contrast to the mission of the gentile which is personal and not universal.

        And the idea that one can atone for the sins of others is not stated in Isaiah 53 when taken in context of the rest of Scripture and in local context – the bearers of the vessels of the Lord bear the responsibility of everyone in honoring the vessels they bear – so in that sense they carry the sins of the world – but this is not in the sense of those people not needing to repent and atone for their own sins.

        I hope this helps you with your questions – please keep on asking

        1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

        • Sharon S says:

          Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

          Good day.

          Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment.

          The focus of my comment is actually on questions (a) to (d) , which is on the Jewish Scriptures & Tradition. You have answered question (a). However I do appreciate that you explained clearly the points of departure in the teachings of Jewish tradition which seem similar to Christianity that I have highlighted in my comment.

          I hope you don’t mind if I comment further on your explanation of Ramchal’s teachings.

          You stated that Ramchal is not dehumanizing anyone and that he is speaking of the universal mission of the Jew. However I humbly disagree. The Ramchal stated the following in his work “Derech Hashem”:

          ‘’ From the deepest matters in His direction [of the world], may He be blessed, is that matter of Israel and the [other] nations of the world. For from the angle of man’s nature they truly appear to be the same; but from the angle of the Torah, they are completely and greatly different – distinct like two completely differing species.” (Part two , On Israel and the nations”)

          Is Ramchal merely pointing out that Jews have a universal mission from this statement? Is he not stating clearly that Jews and non Jews are of a different species altogether?

          You stated at the beginning of your comment that the primary source of Jewish dogma is the Jewish Scriptures. However the Ramchal’s teachings ,which we can see above does not accord with the written Torah:

          •According to the written Torah man is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) . There is no mention of different species of man.

          •God saw all that He has made and it was very good (Genesis 1:31) . I would assume all species had been created at that point. The Ramchal’s teachings on the different species of man only came about after the sin of Adam and the the call of Abraham .

          Of course , this is just one example and that I am dwelling on this teaching way too much. However I think that this needs to be looked into . There are other similar teachings in Jewish tradition on differences between the nature of the Jew and the non Jew, not solely on the universal mission of the Jew alone. These teachings seem to indicate that there is a huge unbridgeable gulf between God and man (the non Jew which comprise majority of mankind).

          In addition these teachings does contradict your expose of Christianity in the article ”Christianity Unmasked -especially on the inherent Godliness of mankind and the relationship that man shares with God. These points are the heart of Christianity’s message and man’s yearning in general to have a relationship with our Creator. To me the concept and the identity of the Christian Messiah is secondary .There is no point to worship the Christian Messiah if he did not bridge the gulf between God and Man.

          So my question is as follows:

          a. Can we really rely on the context and cues of the Author from the written Scripture itself when the interpretation the Jewish community derive from the Jewish Scriptures may differ from the plain meaning of the text?

          b. Should we compare the Jewish Scriptures with authoritative sources in Judaism
          (Jewish tradition) in order to get the cohesive message of Judaism?

          c. Should we reconsider the differences between Judaism & Christianity when there seem to be similar teachings in both Jewish tradition & Christian Scriptures/ tradition?

          Thank you.

          • Sharon S says:

            Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

            Good day.

            Appreciate if you can reply to my comment above , when your schedule permits.

            Thank you .

  10. Concerned Reader says:

    Sharon S, I have not posted here in a while, (and I am not speaking for rabbi B) but I would like to chime in.

    I know that both communities have their own approach to interpretation, that they both have oral traditions and interpretations that contradict the plain meaning, and even that many intetpretations within both Judaism and Christianity can be seen as supporting the view of each tradition’s stated antagonists, IE eacg other, whether you look from one side or the other.

    For example, where you can see semi Christoligical allusions to a supernatural element of the messiah in Jewish sources, or you see allusions to a suffering messiah and messianic Torah in Jewish midrash, I can counter that The New Testament contains the sayings, example, ethics, and moreover the expectations, practical and theological of a 1st century halachic Jew, or God fearing non Jew.

    Where you can “tit” the rabbis can very easily “tat” and in my opinion its a useless exercise, because you or they may come out the other end with mo belief in any of this at all.

    I would, probably not so humbly suggest that you try not to worry about these questions. Its a headache, and neither community is going to give you fully satisfactory answers to these kinds of questions.

    Go to a Catholic or Orthodox Church and tell them you want to observe the Jewish law because Jesus did, the ebionites did, and guys like Justin Martyr even said it was cool to have communion with such people.

    Tell them how Torah is not hollow legalism and self righteousness.

    You WILL get strange looks, and might be told to find some Protestants to be heretical with, to start your Judaizing sect with.

    It doesn’t matter to the Church that Jesus and his students lived very similarly to how a modern rabbinic Jew would. It doesn’t matter that he told people to follow the words but not the deeds of the Pharisees because they hold the knowledge but dont share it as they should.

    Nachmanides tried to tell Christian clergy this kind of information at the disputation he was FORCED to participate in, and they ran him out of the country even though the king gave him the right to free speech.

    Are there numerous paralells in Jewish mystical traditions and mudrashic interpretations to Christian ideas? Sure as life, yes there are.

    But, do you know what else there is? All the ideas that you could say apply to Jesus applied to other messiah claimants by their own students. Whether Shabbatai Tzvi, The Rebbe, Jacob Frank, or Jesus. There is actually one more.

    Our own Christian tradition records evidence of this phenomenon via the presence of arguments between the Christians, and the then still extant students of John the Baptist, who today claim to be trepresented by the Mandeans.

    John’s mother Elizabeth kinswoman of Mary would have a connection to David, giving John a matralineal link to King David just like Jesus has in Christianity.

    John’s father was a priest meaning that John could literally halachically serve in the temple of God as a priest. Jesus can only do this spiritually.

    Both John and Jesus came and died prior to the destruction of the second temple and had a gentile and Jewish following.

    If two groups wanted to, they could legit argue using the same exact texts Christians use (Isaiah 53 or Daniel 9) over whether Jesus or John was the suffering servant or messiah son of David. There answer would depend on their experiences.

    So, what should an observant person do? Sit and argue with messianics about miracles, fulfillments, or who truly is going to be messiah IF or WHEN they show up?

    These different messianic factions with all their hypotheses, theology, and different candidates still agree that Christ is not here now, that universal peace is not here yet.

    “Ir will happen when he returns”

    Golden! We can wait until that actually happens instead of arguing about WHO IT IS.

    All one can do to be safe, wise, and responsible is Just to live the common denominator.

    What do all the different groups actually agree on? Allegedly they all agree on norms of behavior consistent with the Bible.

    So, stick with what you know.

    Remember in Tanakh when Saul was still king but God was actively choosing David as the new true king? That caused a ton of fuss. There were TWO KINGS WHO GOD AT ONE POINT CHOSE IN FRONT OF OTHERS.

    Imagine if you had seen Saul get annointed in person yourself, but you DID NOT see it happen later with David, only hearing about it second hand via a letter or even hearsay?

    How do you choose? How do you stay safe, sane, and solid?

    Follow what is agreed on by both parties, ie commandments.

    • Sharon S says:

      Concerned Reader,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my comment. It is much appreciated.

      To recap ,I have laid out my questions to Rabbi Blumenthal ( and to anyone reading my comment) specifically in points (a) to (d) of my comment above.

      I hope that my questions , specifically (a) to (d) does not mislead you. These questions are not intended to prompt discussion on the identity of the Messiah . The focus of these questions are on the Jewish Scriptures.

      You have acknowledged that both communities have their own approach to interpretation, that they both have oral traditions and interpretations that contradict the plain meaning of the Jewish Scriptures.

      My question then is should anyone having access to the Jewish Scriptures continue to seek the will of the Author of Scripture from the plain text alone?

      Can we really rely on the context and cues of the Author from the written Scripture itself   when the interpretation BOTH communites derive from the Jewish Scriptures may differ from the plain meaning of the text?

      Should the Jewish Scriptures be compared with authoritative sources in BOTH Judaism ( Jewish tradition) & Christianity ( New Testament/ Tradition) so that one can get a full picture on the arguments arising in Jewish Christian polemics?

      You stated “many intepretations within both Judaism and Christianity can be seen as supporting the view of each tradition’s stated antagonists”.Should  we then reconsider the differences between Judaism & Christianity  when there seem to be similar teachings  in both Jewish  tradition & Christian Scriptures/ tradition?

      You advised that we should not worry about these questions, that both communities will not give satisfactory answers. Just stick to what is agreed upon by both parties/ the common denominator- the commandments.

      I honestly am not able to grasp what you are suggesting here. We both acknowledge that both communities have something more in common than just the commandments. What then is the point of departure?

      Is the point of departure on the identity of the Messiah alone? Is this the only topic relevant to be discussed in this forum?

  11. Concerned Reader says:

    Its not only the identity of the messiah that is in conflict, but the fact that these traditional interpretations (where a messianic candidate is described in supernatural terms, the belief expressed that he will reach heights unknown to us, etc.) are things directly contradicted by other teachings in the plain meaning of the book where a Messiah, IE the king, is just treated as a human monarch, prophet, or priest like any other nation would have.

    You have texts where a figure seems to be just a plain guy, others where another figure appears to be a mouthpiece of God who must be obeyed. Those are mutually exclusive concepts, different concepts hints of which exist within the same books. Traditions develop by trying to reconcile or explain, connect, the ideas in their books, even if its not the best idea.

    A book can have many meanings, the pit people fall into lies in saying “its only this or only that.”

    My point, you might as well stop worrying about trying to make things fit which are made of patchworks of different themes and concepts, that have formed over different eras of religious development.

    There is as much an external point of departure between Jews and Christians as there is an internal departure among sectarian groups of messianic believers within both traditions.

    Let me try and give you a pertinent example.

    If a scholar of Christianity scoured the literature of numerous Christian sects dating from the 1800s, and through the past long enough, he or she may be able to find groups with literature and theologies that would fit a kind of proto mormon understanding of Christian doctrine.

    You can find ancient examples in Christian literature of people arguing over whether God has a physical body and shape in his ineffible form for example, something that would accord with Mormon belief.

    You can find commentary based off of Christian source texts, including the New Testament, along those lines, and in a loose sense someone could say “those are traditional sources”

    However, you would find no, or very few “traditional” Catholic, Orthodox, or even main line Protestant group who would consider these ideas (though they exist) normative, or even an authentic part of their tradition.

    Nonetheless, Mormonism was a real Christian sect that developed, and they have historians and theologians who will make the attempt connect their faith to earlier sources across the ages.

    Just because one can find sources does not mean that this is an authentic religious expression to a particular group of people.

    You want to believe it for yourself? Fine, but dont come to another community who does not agree and expect them to call you an authentic expression of their faith.

    Messianic expectations are part of Jewish tradition and religion, but are also somewhat more peripheral, and not essential. It has not proven a good idea for Jewish people to latch on to Messianic movements, because they have not succeeded in a way that accords with a straightforward biblical reading.

    Look at what happens in the Tanakh when Israel first asked for a king. The prophet essentially said “you don’t need one, god is king, but if you do get a king like other nations there will be problems.”

    In other parts the plain text seems to suggest that a king was part of the deal from the start.

    DIFFERENT IDEAS EXIST IN BOOKS AND THEY DONT ALWAYS INTERACT COHESIVELY.

    When I say stick to what is agreed upon, I mean IGNORE THE MESSIAH QUESTION. Its not relevant until the era materializes, because as both communities Jewish and Christian understand, there are charlatans out there who will take advantage of messianic hopes.

    When Christians are working so hard to plug Jesus into the Tanakh, they miss the fact that in the whole of the written text, barely any of their ideas are directly mentioned. They often have to dive into homiletic interpretations, scour extra biblical literature, or random parts of mystical Jewish ideas, and say “AHA! It fits!” They do this, while at the same time calling Jewish tradition fables, traditions of men, godless additions, etc.

    “Should the Jewish Scriptures be compared with authoritative sources in BOTH Judaism ( Jewish tradition) & Christianity ( New Testament/ Tradition) so that one can get a full picture on the arguments arising in Jewish Christian polemics?”

    Getting a full picture would necessitate having access to all facets of the traditions that to this day continue to grow. Its a headache. To me, the juice is not worth the squeeze and you should just try to be the best person you can be.

    AS I said above, even if you can plug Jesus into the text, or even into Jewish traditions, he is not the only one who has been plugged in.

    As to questions A-D the Bible does not give just one answer on anything and that’s why the world has priests and rabbis in it. The life of the traditions lies in answering and navigating difficult questions that don’t always have a clear answer.

    The real issue though is that you should not need approval from the community that is not your own. If you feel in your conscience that you are correct, just live your life respecting the rights of others to their own communities conclusions.

    Literature by its nature is non dogmatic and full of diverse and sometimes contradictory meaning.

    • Sharon S says:

      Concerned Reader,

      I do appreciate your points and advice , yet I sense that you and I are both looking at these questions from different perspectives.

      My questions are from the perspective of a truth seeker. It seems to me that you are looking into these questions from the perspective of an academic.

      I don’t understand why you keep bringing the topic of the Messiah up when I have stated clearly that the focus of these questions are on the Jewish scriptures. Do you assume that my concern is about the Messiah , given my Christian background?

      Please focus on the argument at hand , not on the one making the argument.

      You stated clearly that different ideas exist in books and they don’t exist cohesively. It seems from your explanation that one should not rely on the plain meaning of the text. So what should a person who is seeking the will of God do? Should one look at the Scripture itself or to the people to whom it was revealed to ?

      Should we consider shifting the overall arguments in Jewish Christian polemics by comparing Jewish tradition with Christian scriptures , since Jewish Scriptures is not the definite source to learn of God’s will? I don’t see why we should not be exposed to teachings from Jewish tradition if these information are crucial in the decision making process.

      Thank you.

  12. Concerned Reader says:

    “Should we consider shifting the overall arguments in Jewish Christian polemics by comparing Jewish tradition with Christian scriptures , since Jewish Scriptures is not the definite source to learn of God’s will? I don’t see why we should not be exposed to teachings from Jewish tradition if these information are crucial in the decision making process.

    Thank you.”

    Its not a question of shifting arguments, its a question of starting points, foundational assumptions, and what someone considers to be the overall point.

    Its not that relying on the plain meaning of scripture is bad, its that it wont lead a person to one cohesive answer or perspective, because the document always exists in relation to the people reading, living, and interpreting it, and even communities can disagree among themselves.

    If you are interested in what Jewish people say and believe and why, you need a Jewish community to experience it.

    Sadducee and Pharisee sects shared the Hebrew Bible texts, and they even shared observance of biblical laws and made rulings. However, reading the same text they often came to mutually exclusive positions that they regarded as authoritative.

    Sadducees would say “resurrection of the dead does not appear in the plain meaning.”

    Pharisees would say the opposite, even though textually, it would appear the Sadducees had a very strong argument.

    The Pharisees had ways of reading certain verses that made them believe resurrection was refereed to plainly and literally. Their foundational assumption about the role of the book going into the discussion was different.

    Take the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 as an example. Is it just a metaphor for a national reconstitution of the people of Israel and not meant “literally,” to refer to life after dying or is it literally talking about the literal resurrection of the people of Israel from death in the future?

    It depends greatly on who is reading, and what their assumptions are about the text, what truths it contains, and its role going into the discussion.

    “should one look at the Scripture itself or to the people to whom it was revealed to?”

    Definitely the latter, because those are the people who are navigating the question of the plain meaning vs a traditionally accepted interpretation and what the proper relationship between the two should be, and the culture that wrote the book should know it in theory better than others.

    The reason I bring up Christianity and the messiah is because you have mentioned this question as it pertains to Jewish Christian relations, and you come at the question from a specific perspective, even unconsciously so.

    Think of it this way. Why do you as a non Jewish person even find interest in the Hebrew Bible? If we went back thousands of years to your ancestors as far as BCE, do you think they would have cared about what the Bible said? Probably not. The interest modern non Jews have in the Jewish Bible usually stems from their exposure to either the Christian or Islamic traditions and their experiences there.

    Both of these traditions have their own assumptions about what the proper role of a scripture should be, what “truth” is essential to be gleaned from it, etc.

    However, these traditions have totally different and unrelated foundational assumptions when reading the Hebrew Bible.

    You personally can look at the Jewish scriptures and various extra biblical traditions to try and answer what is the “source of truth” from a Christian perspective or even generally as a seeker of “truth,” but to try and root that in the Jewish tradition or in the question of interfaith dialogue would be next to impossible, because though the two traditions share scripture, and may have overlap in certain concepts, both communities have a fundamental difference in alignment to the texts, to their experiences in history, and even to the question and reaon “why do I believe these texts represent truth in the 1st place?”

    When you are saying “I see things like X Y Z in the Hebrew Bible and it appears to be similar to ABC in the Christian Bible”

    That may be the case that those parallels exist as far as you see them. However, another community, grounded in a different historical experience, and a different view of what the overall point of the text is, might not get the same message from those “similar” concepts as you do.

    Your questions would be kind of like asking the Europeans and the Chinese to explain the significance and unifying reason for the creation of the printing press as though it was just one thing that unified both in their quest for such a device.

    Both cultures created a press that is true, but did so using entirely different methods, for entirely unique purposes and reason.

    Just because there is overlap (the brute fact that both groups have indeed created a printing press) does not mean there is one unified thing to explain its source or reason as common to both.

    When you approach the question of the Hebrew Bible as a truth seeker, you are approaching as an individual truth seeker.

    The Hebrew Bible as understood by the Jewish community is meant to be understood as a communal book. A national manifesto of sorts that is speaking to them.

    The Christians did an incredible thing by getting the whole world interested in the Hebrew Bible, I don’t deny that, but now the problem is, thousands of people in distinct cultures now believe in a national document due to many personal and experience driven reasons.

    These people then come to Jewish people and ask them to explain the underlying logic.

    That’s near impossible when people are looking at the same source for entirely different reasons from an entirely different place.

    Did that answer your questions?

    • Sharon S says:

      Concerned Reader,

      Let me list down the questions I asked and what I understand of your response to them:

      a.Are the Jewish Scriptures meant to be read in a Sola Scriptura manner, or are these Scriptures meant to be interpreted within a living community/ tradition?

      Your answer:

      1.Different ideas exist in books and they don’t exist cohesively

      Its not that relying on the plain meaning of scripture is bad, its that it wont lead a person to one cohesive answer or perspective, because the document always exists in relation to the people reading, living, and interpreting it, and even communities can disagree among themselves.

      b. Can we really rely on the context and cues of the Author from the written Scripture itself   when the interpretation BOTH communites derive from the Jewish Scriptures may differ from the plain meaning of the text?

      Or related question:
      So what should a person who is seeking the will of God do? Should one look at the Scripture itself or to the people to whom it was revealed to ?

      Your answer :

      Different ideas exist in books and they don’t exist cohesively

      One should look at people to whom the Scripture was revealed to discern the will of God .These are the people who are navigating the question of the plain meaning vs a traditionally accepted interpretation and what the proper relationship between the two should be, and the culture that wrote the book should know it in theory better than others.

      c. Should we compare  the Jewish Scriptures with authoritative sources in BOTH Judaism ( Jewish tradition) & Christianity ( New Testament/ Tradition)?

      Your answer: Many intepretations within both Judaism and Christianity can be seen as supporting the view of each tradition’s stated antagonists. Just because one can find sources does not mean that this is an authentic religious expression to a particular group of people.

      We need to consider starting points, foundational assumptions, and what someone considers to be the overall point when comparing Jewish Tradition with Christian Scriptures

      d. Should  we reconsider the differences between Judaism & Christianity  when there seem to be similar teachings  in both Jewish  tradition & Christian Scriptures/ tradition?

      Or related question:

      Should the Jewish Scriptures be compared with authoritative sources in BOTH Judaism ( Jewish tradition) & Christianity ( New Testament/ Tradition) so that one can get a full picture on the arguments arising in Jewish Christian polemics?”

      Your answer:

      Refer answer to question (c) . In addition ,getting a full picture would necessitate having access to all facets of the traditions that to this day continue to grow. Its a headache. The juice is not worth the squeeze and you should just try to be the best person you can be

      You have answered the four questions.

      I would like to respond to your point on why you brought up Christianity and the Messiah. You stated that I came to the question from a specific perspective, even unconsciously so.

      In response , please refer to Rabbi Blumenthal’s article and video to Dr Brown above. Rabbi Blumenthal brought out the following points:

      a. Reader’s Guide to the Bible, Dr. Brown vs. God

      b.Idolatry, the Violation of a Relationship

      c.Messianic Prophecies, Dr. Brown vs. Dr. Brown

      Elsewhere, in the article ” Christianity Unmasked, Rabbi Blumenthal exposes Christianity along the following points:

      a.The Universal Principles of Justice and Charity

      b.The Inherent Godliness of Mankind

      c.The Testimony of the Jewish Nation

      d.The Jewish Scriptures

      e.The Messianic Hope

      f.The Relationship That Man Shares With God

      My question to you- is Christian Jewish relations/ arguments all about the identity of the Messiah?

      My questions are from the perspective of a truth seeker. I am  considering the arguments  that Rabbi Blumenthal made on these points  with what I have come across in Jewish tradition. I find that there seems to be a contradiction between what is stated in these articles with Jewish tradition, particularly on the inherent godliness of mankind ,relationship that man shares with God , equality of man , exalted position of the Torah and Messiah ( which to me borders on idolatry).

      The arguments made by Rabbi Blumenthal is derived mostly by comparing the plain text in Jewish Scriptures with Christian Scriptures. However we have already confirmed that different ideas exist in Jewish Scriptures and they don’t exist cohesively . Relying on the plain text alone  won’t lead a person to one cohesive answer or perspective. One should look at people to whom the Scripture was revealed to discern the will of God.

      I appreciate our discussion. I would also strongly urge Rabbi Blumenthal to respond to the above questions , when his schedule permits him.

      Thank you

  13. Sharon S says:

    Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

    Good day.

    I hope you don’t mind , but I would like to know your feedback to my comment here https://judaismresources.net/2016/09/22/still-unanswered-questions-that-dr-brown-continues-to-avoid/#comment-130170.

    My comment above is about Jewish Scriptures and Jewish tradition . Should one rely on the context and cues made by the Author of the Jewish Scriptures alone to discern His Will? Or should one consider Jewish tradition alongside Jewish Scriptures to discern the Author’s Will?I prefaced my query by putting forth an example on the teaching from Jewish tradition regarding the distinctions between the Jew and the non Jew.

    I would like to think that your schedule does not permit you to reply . However , I can’t help but sensing that my comment may not be worth replying to due to the following:

    a. The example which I used to preface my query which relates to a topic I frequently brought out in this blog- the distinctions and status of the non Jew in Judaism

    I have discussed this topic in this very blog frequently . The response that I normally from Jews I interact with (Dina and yourself ) are as follows:
    •The teachings that the non Jew is lower /less than the Jew is not parallel to Christianity’s dehumanization of the Jew.
    •The inherent nobility of the non Jew in Judaism is higher than the Christian’s understanding on the humanity of the believing Christian
    •We should consider the vast literature of Jewish tradition on the status of the non Jew in Jewish tradition and not to zoom in on just a few examples here and there.

    b. The interpretation both communities derive from the Jewish Scriptures may differ from the plain meaning of the text. However, I can understand from watching your video to Dr Brown and the article above that the Christian community is clearly misusing/abusing the Jewish Scriptures to justify its own theology .

    I can deduce from this that perhaps you may see the interpretation of the Jewish community is no way comparable to Christianity.

    Do correct me if I’m wrong.

    I would like to justify why my comment is worth replying to as follows:
    a. I do agree with you that Christian Scriptures and Tradition as a whole have nothing nice to say about the Jew at all.
    b. Christian distortion of the Jewish Scriptures is absolutely unparalleled.

    However,

    1.My comment is in the spirit of the tagline of your website , which clearly states “Tap into the strength of Judaism’’ . I understand from this tagline that the focus of the website is to discuss the strengths of Judaism IN GENERAL and not confined to comparisons of its teachings & traditions to Christianity.

    Christianity depends on Judaism for its legitimacy , not the other way round.

    Do let me know if my understanding of your tagline is wrong-that the only matters worth discussing in your blog are the teachings of Judaism which only relates to or in response to Christianity.

    2.I understand that there are positive or neutral statements about the non Jew in Jewish tradition . As an example , non Jews are not obligated in the 613 , hence certain rulings pertaining to the non Jew is reflecting that status. However I have come across teachings and liturgy that can be , frankly speaking a is a “spiritual poison’’ to the non Jew. Ramchal’s teachings is the worse I have encountered so far .

    I have done searches on the teaching of the non Jew in Judaism and have come across a brief survey of Jewish Rabbis and their position on this topic. There are quite a number of Jewish luminaries who have expressed in their teachings that there is a distinction between the Jew and non Jew beyond which goes beyond their mission in the Divine agenda. There is the Zohar,Rabbi Yehudah ha-Levi, the Maharal of Prague, R. Hayyim Vital, R. Shabbetai Horwitz, R. Shneur Zalman, R. Hayyim of Volozhin, R. Kook, R. Avraham Grodzinski, R. Shlomoh Wolbe, Rabbeinu Gershom, R. Abraham Ibn Ezra, R. Menachem ha-Meiri, R. Elijah of Vilna and the Ramchal.

    So far , the Jewish luminaries that advocate more on the equality of the Jew and non-Jew , a only distinction being their mission -is Maimonides and Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.

    I am a numbers person , so it seems there is 15 to 2 .

    I can only deduce from here that the teaching on the superiority of the Jew is a mainstream thought , at least in the Orthodox world , from the influence of these luminaries. Can Maimonides and Rabbi Hirsch’s influence withstand the influence of the 15?

    In addition , there are Jews who have addressed this topic either by writing books or speaking about it , such as Dr. Menachem Kellner.

    How should a non Jew looking at the Jewish people as God’s witnesses respond to these facts ? Is it right to just shove this under the carpet and focus just on the positive teachings? Or should both Jew and non Jew acknowledge that although Judaism recognize the inherent nobility of man better than Christianity (i.e Protestant Christianity-40% of Christendom) , there are still teachings in Judaism which can be just as detrimental to the spirituality of the non Jew?

    3. Based on (2) , can anyone having access to the Jewish Scriptures discern the will of God only from the plain text? Should we consider the teachings in Jewish tradition , even though it may contradict the Jewish scriptures? What appropriate attitudes should a non Jew have when it comes to God when encountering these teachings?

    I hope to have made a good case on why my comment is worth replying. But then again , this is your website. I will respect your decision if you choose not to respond.

    My only consolation is that I trust these comments will be preserved in this blog so that it will provoke thought in those who are reading it , both now and should this video/article be reblogged in the future.

    Thank you.

    Sharon Savage

    • Shalom Sharon My delay in replying to your comments has nothing to do with the “unworthiness” of your comments. Your comments are insightful and worthy of response. It is my schedule that prevents me from spending as much time in this discussion as I would like to. In response to your 3 questions 1 – Your understanding of the tagline is correct – I welcome questions on all aspects of Judaism not only those that have a direct bearing on the Jewish-Christian polemic (although I do appreciate when the comments relate to the article) 2 – Assuming that there is an ontological distinction between the Jew and non-Jew – and as you pointed out, many teachers in Judaism seem to hold by that opinion. This still does not diminish the fact that the concept of “created in the image of God” – which applies to the non-Jew is an exalted and lofty designation that applies to the non-Jew. This designation puts the non-Jew in the scheme of Judaism higher than Christianity places the Christian. – You mentioned Rabbi Avraham Grodzenski – his entire thesis is to negate the idea that the non-Jew is lowly instead he argues that the Jew has been lifted higher and he spends quite a bit of time speaking of the loftiness of the non-Jew. 3 – Anyone studying Judaism should look at the entire panorama of Jewish thought – to the degree possible. However, one must bear in mind that all the teachers who spoke and wrote did so in the context of a society that elevates the Jewish Scripture and their words must be understood in that context.

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • Sharon S says:

        Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

        Good day.

        Thank you for replying to my comment. My apologies for assuming that my comment may not be worthy of response from you.

        I understand that your website attracts missionary , Christians and Jews who are bent on missionizing Jews or defending Jews from missionary propaganda. However your website is public and accessible by everyone. Imagine for example , a Buddhist or a Hindu (i.e someone who has not encountered Christianity at all) were to come across your website. The first thing he/she will notice is the tagline “Tap In To The Strength Of Judaism”. They would wonder “Wow! What is Judaism?” . A rational person , visiting any website will naturally gravitate to the “About” page , in which the first sentence states ‘’Judaism Resources was established in an effort to bring the truth of Judaism to a wider audience’’. This person will have an impression that your website is about sharing the virtues of Judaism in general. However , this person , may be confused to find “Christianity” as a prominent subject being discussed in your website . Is this website all about Judaism or Christianity?

        I observed that the “plain text’’ of your website -be it in the tagline or in the “about’’ page does not accord with the “Tradition” of what is being discussed in the blog. So should a visitor of your website focus on the “plain text” or on the “Tradition”?

        I understand that your video and article is in response to Dr Brown’s writings , which is within the context of Jewish-Christian polemics . However , I find your first point -the Reader’s Guide to the Bible is relevant beyond the realm of Jewish Christian polemics. You are telling the audience that the Author of Scripture has provided guide within the Scriptures (context of scripture ,repeating themes all over Scripture such as idolatry, building the story to a certain climax such as Sinai revelation , etc) for His readers to discern His Will.

        However , I observed that the teachings of the Ramchal , in particular does not accord with the Reader’s Guide to the Jewish Scriptures set by the Author of Scripture. The Ramchal taught that nations , other than the Jewish nation will not exist in the world to come. The righteous non Jew will not be physically resurrected , but will be secondary to the Jew just as how clothing is secondary to a person. I am not sure of the teachings by the other 14 Rabbis .

        So should a reader of the Jewish Scriptures who happen to come across the entire panorama of Jewish thought focus on the teachings of these Jewish luminaries i.e “Tradition” or on the “Reader’s Guide to the Bible” set by the Divine Author?

        I will not ask further , but I would humbly request for you to consider the following:

        a. Please look into the divergence between the “plain text” and the “tradition’’ of your website. What do you want the visitor to your website to focus on?
        You may need to change the tagline if the focus is solely on Jewish Christian polemics. Jews for Judaism is a good example in that they seem to be quite consistent in their “plain text” and “tradition”.

        b. To address the divergence between the “Reader’s Guide” to the Bible and the teachings of the Jewish luminaries . Perhaps you can consider writing an article about Rabbi Avraham Grodzenski’s teachings and how it accords with the Reader’s Guide as an article in your blog. This is to educate your international audience so that we may see clearly how these teachers who spoke and wrote did so in the context of a society that elevates the Jewish Scriptures.

        Thank you.

        Sharon Savage

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