The Oral Law in Judaism and Christianity – by Jim

The Christian missionary often challenges the existence of the Oral Torah with the question: “Where in the (Written) Torah does it say anything about an Oral Torah?” He assumes that the text should come with some statement instructing the reader that it has an accompanying unwritten explanation that one should seek out if he wishes to understand the work. Barring such a statement, any claim to an Oral Torah can only be an excuse to impose upon the text the interpretations of the rabbis and to substitute divine instruction with their own. This objection, however, is unreasonable. Other—more able writers—have already shown that the Written Torah cannot be understood without accompanying information. Certain commandments, for example, are too indefinite in the text to be practicable. Because this territory has been well-explored by others, this brief essay will attempt a different course, demonstrating the priority of the Oral Torah by drawing an analogy from Christianity to Torah.

Christianity does not begin with the written word. It begins, rather, with the teachings of Jesus as delivered to crowds on hillsides, in the houses of various interested parties, and in private with his disciples. He is not known to ever have written any of his teachings but given them over orally. After his death, his disciples carried on in the same way at least initially. Peter did not begin his own ministry by composing a body of Christian scripture but by teaching in Jerusalem. Later, he composed a few letters, but those were not the foundation of his teaching. Similarly, though Paul wrote several letters, his ministry began orally, teaching various communities outside of Israel. From this fact it can be seen that within Christianity, oral teaching preceded written teaching; oral teaching is prior in time to Christian scripture.

It was decades after Jesus’ death that his teachings were written down. The first gospel is thought to have been written by Mark and is generally considered to have been based on the teachings of Peter. In order to show the importance of the oral tradition, even within Christianity, the following two thought experiments are presented for consideration:

Thought experiment #1:

Mark has just completed his gospel, based on the oral teachings of Peter as above. Several copies are distributed to various communities, including a Church community in Emmaus. Peter has been travelling, ministering to different communities and has not yet seen the completed work. In the course of his travels, he comes to Emmaus, where they are studying the newly received gospel. As a leader reads the gospel aloud to the congregation, among whom Peter is sitting, the leader reads that Jesus imparted to his disciples such-and-such a saying, at which point Peter interrupts and says that Mark has not got that quite right. Jesus did not say such-and-such, but something similar, the difference of which is important enough to correct. At this moment, a conflict has arisen between the oral tradition and the written transmission. Is it possible that the congregation will ignore Peter and adhere to the written gospel before them?

It is possible, but it is not likely. The written word depends upon its adherence to Peter’s teaching for its own authority. Mark is purportedly giving over what he was taught. If his teacher says that on some point or another Mark is mistaken, either misunderstanding or misremembering, then Mark’s writing is subject to correction and alteration upon that point. The fact that his work is written rather than oral does not imbue it with special authority. On the contrary, the authority of the written tradition is derived from the oral tradition. Any deviation from the oral tradition in the written word is a flaw. From this, it can be seen that the oral tradition has priority over the written word, both in time and in authority.

Thought experiment #2: Imagine the same scenario as above, only this time, when Peter listens to the reading of Mark’s gospel, he has no objection to what is written. Instead, the congregation has a question about just what such-and-such means. Jesus is supposed to have spoken in riddles, after all. After their local leader propounds an interpretation, Peter says that the man has not got it quite right. Peter puts forward a different interpretation of Jesus’ words. In this instance, the question is this: whose interpretation is more likely to be in line with Jesus’ actual teaching?

Again, the answer is Peter. Peter is not relying merely on the text to determine what Jesus’ meaning was. He learned from Jesus for about three-and-a-half years. His familiarity with the teachings of Jesus must be more thorough than almost anyone else’s. At the least, he would have a feel for Jesus’ meaning, an intuition based on his learning directly from Jesus. Moreover, those riddles that Jesus spoke in the hearing of the masses, he is supposed to have explained privately to his disciples. They had opportunity to ask questions and gain clarification on issues that might have confused them. Similarly, they would have heard the same teachings multiple times, phrased in different ways, so that it would become clearer to them. The leader of this congregation does not have any of those advantages of insight. A chasm of understanding separates those that study with a person and those that have only read a book that he wrote. So, even in matters of interpretation, priority must be granted to the oral transmission over the reading of the written word.

These thought experiments and the beginnings of the Church serve as a rough analogy to relation of the oral transmission to the written transmission within the Torah system. The Five Books of Moses were not documents found in the desert, void of context. Nor was the teaching of the Torah confined to those five books. Even before Sinai—and certainly before the written Torah—Israel had knowledge of God and of certain commandments, though they had not been written down. They knew and kept the Seven Laws of Noah. They kept circumcision. Before Sinai, they kept Passover and the Sabbath, even though the laws thereof were written nowhere, but were transmitted orally to the people: from God to Moses, from Moses to the elders, and from the elders to the people. Israel was a community of people that was taught how to observe its laws, not merely through the written word, but through the instruction of Moses, a prophet whose credentials were established before them.

It is the oral transmission that verifies the written word. Israel knows that God spoke to Moses, not because it said so in a book, but because the nation witnessed the event and passed that knowledge on from generation to generation. The book is known to be true, because it comports with their knowledge. Similarly, because they were already keeping Sabbath before the written word, they understand the meaning of the written word through their prior knowledge. R’ Hirsch compares the written Torah to a system of notes. It is not the entire teaching that the Jewish people received. But it is a system used to bring to memory what the people learned already. One outside the Torah tradition can read those notes and understand some but not all without consulting a student of the Torah, one who heard the lecture to which the notes correspond.

Another thought experiment may be useful to elucidate this point.

Thought experiment #3: Imagine that the written Torah has been finished for a couple of months and one copy of it is misplaced by Fred, who is known for his carelessness. And the missing copy is found by a man who, for whatever reason, believes that he has just come upon what he considers to be undeniably divine revelation. And, he seeks out Israel, so that he can join them. In the meantime, he practices Sabbath observance according to his own interpretation of the text he has found. When he finds the Jewish people, he is excited and wishes to join them. But, he is dismayed to find differences in their Sabbath observance and his own. He pulls out his copy of the Torah—the one that Fred lost—and he shows them a verse, and he tells them that, clearly, they are supposed to do such-and-such or abstain from doing this-or-that. Will they follow his interpretation?

It should be obvious that they will not. They were intimately familiar with the details on how to keep the Sabbath before receiving the written Torah. Any ambiguities in how to keep the Sabbath could be cleared up by asking questions. They did not need merely to probe the text looking for clues. If a stranger, who did not receive this instruction and had not practiced keeping the Sabbath in a community of other Sabbath observers, introduces his own interpretations of the text, it will hold no weight with them. He does not have the context necessary to understand the Torah the way that they do.

The written Torah relies upon the oral Torah. It is the oral that verifies the written, not the other way around. Moreover, the written Torah cannot be fully understood without the oral Torah.

But, if this is true—and if it is as true for Christianity as it is for Torah—then one might well ask why Evangelical missionaries seek confirmation of the oral transmission from the written transmission. What I have written here argues that their question inverts relationship of written teaching to the oral teaching and suggests that their error is quite basic. If it is so basic, obvious even, how do they even make such an error?

The error of the missionary is rooted in the loss of the oral tradition in the Church. It is not just that Evangelicals, being Protestants, denied the oral traditions of the Church, cutting themselves off from tradition. The problem is much deeper and more significant than that. No reliable oral tradition existed in the Church from the beginning, so that, within the first generation after Jesus, confusion about his message already existed.

This confusion is evident from the beginning of the post-resurrection movement. According to Matthew, even after Jesus appeared to the surviving eleven disciples, “some doubted” (28:17). This suggests that from the beginning of the movement, different accounts existed for what happened, that not all eleven disciples believed they had seen the resurrected Jesus. It is suggestive of competing claims being made from the first generation of Jesus’ students. This doubt is remarkable, because it is hard to doubt a shared sensory experience. Jesus is supposed to have appeared to them and taught them, but still, some doubted? Thus, even the written transmission suggests that no unified understanding of the resurrection existed among the supposed witnesses. It is quite possible, likely even, that not all the early followers of Jesus’ message taught that he was resurrected, including among his immediate disciples, which is why Matthew has to comment on some doubting.

Certainly, as the gospel spread, it became muddled. It is clear from what Paul writes to the Galatians that multiple gospels with competing claims were being spread within decades of the death of Jesus. He issues a warning to the Galatians that they heed no other gospel than his own. Multiple oral traditions, then, circulated early on. Confusion beset the Church within the second generation of believers, if not earlier.

Paul, himself, is not a reliable source of Jesus’ teachings. When Jesus was alive, of course, Paul did not study with Jesus. However, he claims that his gospel comes to him through Jesus, through a revelation—a claim that could not be verified (Galatians 1:12). He goes on to insist that his gospel did not come through studying with Jesus’ disciples, and that when he went to Jerusalem, he only stayed with Peter 15 days. If a reliable oral transmission had existed at that point, from Jesus to the disciples, that chain was broken with Paul.

Indeed, it is remarkable that two of the most influential figures in the early Church are two men that did not learn from Jesus, one being Paul and the other James, Jesus’ brother. From the gospels, it appears that James did not follow Jesus’ teachings while Jesus was still alive. Only later would he become involved in the Jesus movement. This provokes certain questions that are not immediately relevant, so they will be put aside. What must be noted, however, is that he did not study with Jesus, just as Paul did not. It is not clear that James ever studied with Peter or the other disciples, and it is not surprising then, that these two men, neither of whom studied with Jesus, should end up in conflict over what the teachings of Jesus meant.

The early conflicts in the Church speak to the lack of a reliable oral transmission. The Church did not know what it meant for non-Jews to become believers in Jesus. Did they need to convert to Judaism? Or could they remain non-Jews, observing the Seven Laws of Noah with a couple new practices to commemorate Jesus? As time went on, the questions and disagreements became larger. Was Jesus divine, semi-divine, or not at all divine? From early on in Church history, the message of the Church was a muddle, with various gospels and theologies circulating and competing.

Moreover, much of Church doctrine is received only through the written word. When a Christian reads the epistle to Ephesus, he does not have the context of what Paul taught to the Ephesians in person. He has no access to the oral teaching given over in that church or at Corinth or at Philippi. He does not even have access to the oral teaching in Jerusalem, only bits and pieces of it. And this is not a matter of things being lost to the modern age, it was a problem from the foundation of congregations outside Jerusalem. The Church was a diffuse body—not a Church, but churches—that did not have the context of the teachings in other areas. Those churches were receiving different gospels, which they interpreted in different ways based on their lack of context.

The diffusion of the Church is not its strength, but a source of confusion. In order to maintain an oral tradition, one needs a community. A community is able to identify new teachings as they arise. If someone says that he believes God should be worshipped in this or that way, based on his own interpretation, the community can counter that his teaching is unknown to them. A community has the strength to resist innovation, because the teachings do not reside with a few, which, if corrupted, can pollute the entire system. Rather, the community can always appeal to the common knowledge.

For a long time, the Jewish people had just such a community. As a nation, as a community, they had a system of checks and balances in place to avoid the introduction of error or the loss of information. The Torah system did not rely solely upon the knowledge of a few in the clerical class. The knowledge of Torah ran through the whole society, so that it did have teachers in the Levites, but it also had judges who must be also learned in Torah, and it was carried also from parent to child, so that the whole nation served carriers of Torah knowledge. Even while some departed the way of Torah, they did not corrupt the Torah system, as it was guarded by the nation as a whole and not a few, which could not be held accountable.

With the Church, things were the opposite. The Church had no reliable system to guard its teaching. Being geographically spread out, distortion and confusion were easily able to enter the Church. Ideas counter to the original message—which itself was a distortion of Torah—or distorting the original message were carried into the diverse churches. Gospels multiplied and the oral teachings of the Church were lost.

The dispersal of the Jewish people created a similar problem for the Torah system. However, the Jews were careful to preserve their oral teachings and not let the message be lost. Some small elements of confusion crept in, but the essentials were preserved. However, the Church lost its original teachings. It is for this reason that missionaries ask a question that is based on confusion. The Church lost its oral tradition, so the missionary does not consider the foundation of the written tradition. He comes to his religion solely through the written word, and it does not occur to him that the written word is subsequent to oral teaching or that its authority is borrowed from the oral transmission.

Jim

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103 Responses to The Oral Law in Judaism and Christianity – by Jim

  1. Bible819 says:

    Jim,

    “When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

    The temple has been destroyed.

    The Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood, and until the end there will be war; desolations have been decreed.

    Israel is still in exile.

    Now we are waiting for:

    And on the wing of the temple will come the abomination that causes desolation, until the decreed destruction is poured out upon him.”…

    The Anti Christ

    In my vision in the night I continued to watch: And I saw One like a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence.

    Then Jesus will Return:

    His clothing was white as snow, and the —–> hair of His head like pure wool <—— His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.

    The Description of the Lord Yeshua

    All Praise to King Yeshua who is a Jew, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Amen

    • Jim says:

      Aaron,

      I do not understand the relevance of your comment to the essay under which it appears. As far as I can tell it is a random off-topic support of your faith. If I am missing something, please elucidate for me how your comment relates to the essay.

      Moreover, the figure in Daniel described as having hair like wool, etc. is the Ancient of Days and not the one that is like a son of man (which is Israel, not Jesus. See 7:18.)

      Forgive me for saying so, but your comments are often incomprehensible to me, and it would help me greatly if you could both stay on topic and explain the purpose of your random and disconnected quotes.

      Jim

      • Bible819 says:

        Jim,

        You describing a faith throughout your essay and where it fell short of its original teaching.

        I’m describing the spiritual state of Jewish People.

        Moreover, the Ancient of Days is a Human Being. Amen

        I do forgive you.

        As Isaiah said:

        Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”

        Daniel locked it up in the old testament:

        But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end.

        Forever Praised:

        You are worthy to take the scroll

        and to open its seals,

        because you were slain,

        and with your blood you purchased for God

        persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

        10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,

        and they will reign b on the earth.”

        Praise Jesus!

  2. Sharon S says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thank you for the beatiful and clearly written article on the oral law in both Judaism and Christianity. I have replied to the above article , in the thread that it was initially posted on here https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-58234 . I hope that my reply is not off topic and address the points in the article.

    Let me add a one more point to my earlier reply.
    I understand Matthew 28:17-“some doubted” to mean that some disciples are hesitant to worship Jesus out of obedience to the Torah. Most of the disciples would have been carried away by Jesus’s glorified form and instinctively worshipped him , but some disciples had the sense to remember the prohibitions against idolatry and thereby restrained themselves , thereby they “doubted”.

    You interpreted this verse to support the argument that no reliable oral tradition exist from the beginning , because there is “no unified understanding of the resurrection existed among the supposed witnesses”. Have you considered Acts 1:13-14? The 11 “all joined together constantly in prayer , along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers”. It is very far from your suggestion that they did not have a unified understanding of the resurrection .

    I have deep respect for your work here , your character ,kindness and commitment.I remember reading many of your articles and posts here , especially on Christianity and the position of the non Jew within Judaism in this blog . I learn so much from them . Thank you.

    However I do have one big nagging concern whenever I read your comments and posts . You do not give Christianity a fair hearing . I see this most clearly in your replies to me-namely in “Sufficient” (which includes this article ) and “Turning on a Dime” .

    This article is a glaring example on the lack of fair hearing that you give to Christianity . Perhaps I may be wrong , that you are writing out of ignorance to the oral traditions in Orthodox Christianity.

    According to your article ,Paul claimed the Gospel came to him through Jesus (Galatians 1:12) ,not through studying with Jesus’s disciples . However you did not consider Galatians 1:18 , a mere 6 verses away or Galatians 2:1-2:2 which may put your whole argument in question.

    You did not consider the verses supporting Paul’s interaction with the Apostles , which is more than one occasion . You did not consider the quotations in Paul’s letters that are actually coming from the Apostles and are a common teaching to the Christian communities at the time. You did not consider the breaking of bread/The Lord’s supper or the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist as it is known in the Catholic church. Both Jewish and Gentile believers of Jesus carry out this ritual . Refer Acts 2:42 and 1 Corinthians 11: 17 to 33.This is a practice distinguishing believers of Jesus alongside baptism , like what the Sabbath is to the Jews.

    I remember one of your replies to my comment on the resurrection here https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-44058 . According to you ,”The Church “brings as a support of the resurrection the “fact” of an empty grave. “ .That the Church removes itself from the burden of proof and place it on the unbeliever. I argued , from 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 and a few other verses in the NT that the Apostles and thereby the Church has never based their belief on an empty tomb.You did not reply to this conversation after that.

    Another comment that I would like to bring out is on your parable of the muffin laced with poison here https://judaismresources.net/2014/07/30/turning-on-a-dime/#comment-47578 . You are responding to my statement that there is some good in Christianity and that it has shaped my values. However I disagree with your characterization of Christianity along the lines of your parable.

    I actually came across a video produced by Jews for Judaism: “The Cockroach in the Gospel Muffin” presented by Daniel Ventresca. He described the gospel as a muffin that has cockroaches inside , but you described it as laced with rat poison! To me that is very vicious. I can’t accept the credibility of your argument after watching that video.

    I will repeat again what I have written to you previously .I notice there is a tendency by some ex-believers to condemn every element of their previous beliefs as falsehoods. They refuse to see any truths from their previous beliefs. I used to be that kind of person . Eventually I come to realize that there is some good in Christianity . Christianity has shaped my values. I learnt to appreciate my friends of various races and religion thanks to the Catholic education I received .

    I appreciate Islam for what it has taught me about re-evaluating my beliefs, on idolatry and the worship one G-d . However I discern between what is true and what is not true . It is unfair to lump these faiths as pure evil without giving them a fair hearing .

    I hope you don’t take what I am writing as an ad hominem argument. The purpose is not to condemn but to highlight what I have observed in our previous conversations -in “Sufficient” and “Turning on a Dime” so that this can be clarified.

    I hope this blog will be a beacon of truth.

    Thank you

    • Jim says:

      Sharon,

      You will have to bear with slow responses, as always, due to time constraints. You bring up a lot of arguments and questions, and I have a lot of work ahead of me outside of these comments. In this brief comment, I wish only to address a couple of errors in your methodology.

      The first regards your accusation that I am unfair to Christianity. In your accusation—which you are free to make by the way—you argue that I exaggerate the evils of Christianity. You compare what I wrote about the poisoned muffin of Christianity to the Jews for Judaism video that puts only a cockroach in the muffin of Christianity. This, you assert, shows that I carry a strong antipathy to Christianity and exaggerate its faults due to my having formerly been a Christian: “[Daniel Ventresca] described the gospel as a muffin that has cockroaches inside , but you described it as laced with rat poison! To me that is very vicious. I can’t accept the credibility of your argument after watching that video.”

      Now, I have no interest in defending myself. If you find me vicious, I will be saddened that you think so, but I do not wish to try to assert that I am not. However, I would like to address the argument itself and show that it is not sound.

      Mr. Ventresca and I are not addressing the same topic when we compare Christianity to a muffin, with either a cockroach or poison inside, so that one argument cannot be an inflation of the other. Mr. Ventresca is speaking to the confused testimonies of the gospels regarding the crucifixion and resurrection narratives. He demonstrates that certain elements of the stories cannot be attributed to differing points of view and are irreconcilable with one another. His metaphor regarding the cockroach and the muffin relates to how one cannot pick and choose which parts of the testimony one will accept. Just as one would not eat a muffin in which a cockroach had been baked, only being careful to eat only muffin, one does not carefully read around contradicting testimony to support a predetermined conclusion. My topic, however, was about Christian doctrine. Certainly, some Christian doctrine is good, particularly those parts that come directly out of the Torah without being misrepresented. However, Christianity also contains doctrines that are damaging to the believer. Among the responses I plan to offer you is a further outlining of the poison in the Christian muffin, but among them are the notions that God will not forgive one’s wrongdoing unless an innocent is punished and, of course, that one should worship a human being.

      It is a mistake to compare our arguments the way you have done. If he compared the errors in Christian doctrine to a cockroach and I to a poison, then you might argue that one of us minimized or one of us inflated the dangers of Christianity. Or, if we were both writing about the testimony of the gospels, then you might have said the same thing. But, the only element that our works share is that they both use a muffin as a metaphor, a superficial similarity. Therefore, contrasting our work you have is an error.

      (But, this does not prove that I am not too hard on Christianity, and, as I say, I have no interest in defending myself on that charge.)

      Regarding your other error of methodology: you frequently invert the authority of the Torah and the later religions of Christianity and Islam. So, for example, you sometimes subject Torah to a test based on Islamic teachings, asserting the superiority of the latter. Recently you asked this question: “My question-Scriptures and history aside ,is there anything unique about the universal truths Judaism has to offer which other faiths , such as Islam has not already taught?” But this question is backwards, based on your private experience of learning from Islam first. Judaism is 2,000 years older than Islam, so that the question should be: “Does Islam have an unique truths that Judaism has not already taught?”

      The Torah precedes Christianity and Islam, and both of those religions based themselves to some extent off of the Torah and affirm (to some extent) the truth of the Torah. Moreover, they both seek to establish their authority through the Torah. Therefore, Torah is the canon against which they are to be measured, not the other way around. Also, neither has a verified prophet. So that, onn any point that those two religions differ from Torah, they must be incorrect. Moreover, inasmuch as they both distort Torah, it is not reasonable to base your understanding of Torah on their claims.

      It is unsound to treat them as the baseline by which Torah is measured, when it is the other way around.

      I write this with kind intentions, and I hope that my directness has not offended you.

      Jim

  3. Jim says:

    Aaron and Sharon,

    I am afraid that I have been unclear in my purpose. The above essay was not an attack upon Christianity. It was an attempt to explain the priority of the Oral Torah and a partial explanation as to why the Church does not recognize its priority, despite the obviousness of the argument. My point is that the Church does not recognize the priority of the Oral Torah because of the early corruption of its own oral tradition. There are other reasons, as well, but it is clear that from the early days of the Church, confusion ensued. In bringing this out, it is not to show specifically that the Church strayed from its early message, though it may have, but to show why the Church does not give much weight to the oral tradition.

    Let me provide another line of evidence. As I understand it—but, I have not had a chance to verify—Eusebius writes of the Ebionites that they originated in Jerusalem and left before its destruction in 70 CE. Due to their physical proximity to the early Church, one would expect that the faith of the Ebionites was that most directly influenced by the disciples of Jesus. However, the Church fathers considered them heretics, due to various differences between the Ebionites and the Church as it developed outside of Israel. The Ebionites did not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. They did not believe he was divine. They did believe, however, that the commandments of the Torah were still to be fulfilled.

    Outside of Jerusalem, many different churches were founded by many different people, not just Paul. Some of these also had what would be considered heretical views by the Church fathers. Even among those, however, that were not heretical, two items must be considered. The first is that these communities grew up away far away from the original and central church in Jerusalem. The second is that these churches grew up among non-Jews who had no understanding of the basic principles of Torah that were supposed to be the backbone of Jesus’ teaching and his claim to Messiahship. Moreover, as one can easily see in the letters of Paul, the teachings of the Torah were greatly misrepresented to them. (See for example his letters to the Romans and the Galatians.)

    Let us accept for the sake of argument—though we know it to be false—that the Church outside of Jerusalem had a unified understanding of Christianity. Let us accept also that it contrasted with the Ebionites on the following points (as it must have done in order not to be considered heretical by the Church Fathers): 1. It affirmed the divinity of Jesus. 2. It affirmed the virgin birth. 3. It believed that the commandments of the Torah, particularly ceremonial commandments, need not be fulfilled by the Christian.

    Then, we have two branches of Christianity, one that grew up in Jerusalem among those that were most likely to have heard the disciples’ teaching and one that grew up outside Jerusalem and had less contact with the disciples. And the one that grew up outside of Jerusalem was comprised of those that did not know the Torah and who easily accepted misrepresentations of it in support of the theology of their teachers. It would appear that the community most likely to represent the earliest Church tradition would be the Ebionites, but the Church Fathers call them the heretics and claim apostolic authority for those churches that were furthest from the apostles and furthest from the Torah.

    It is easiest for the Christian, then, to glide over the oral tradition, because it does not seem likely that the Ebionites are the group farthest from early Church doctrine. Yet, the Ebionites no longer exist. The dominant Church doctrines grew up away from the apostles, where confused notions were taught to those without a sufficient Torah background to understand what was taught. The tradition of the Ebionites was lost, and they are known only through a few comments sprinkled throughout early Church writings. It is easiest for the Christian to ignore questions about those early traditions and accept just another oral tradition to establish the authority of the Church and the authorship of the gospels. Having accepted the canon of the “New Testament” then, he has something that appears more firm than the oral tradition that is lost to him.

    It becomes inconceivable to him that the Jewish people should have an oral tradition. While it is obvious that the written tradition relies on the oral tradition, he only accepts his own oral tradition far enough to establish Church authority and nothing further. It is easiest for him if he accepts it generically without thinking about the details. Probing too far shows the tenuousness of his tradition. It does not occur to him that the Jewish oral tradition has a much firmer footing, so he denies its existence.

    Still, it is clear that the Oral Torah validates the Written and not the other way around. And it is clear that the Oral Torah is necessary for a complete understanding of the Written.

    Jim

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you for making clear your position on this article. You stated that the “Church does not recognize the priority of the Oral Torah because of the early corruption of its own oral tradition” . You go on to write about the Ebionites, a group that was deemed heretical according Eusebius. The Christian ignored the oral tradition (of Judaism) since it regarded the Ebionites, who subscribe to the Torah as heretical . The Christian follow another tradition which you claim grew away from the doctrine taught by the Apostles , a tradition which establish the authority of the Church and the authorship of the Gospels. Do correct me if I am wrong.

      If I may recall , you stated in an earlier comment before this article: “If I understand you correctly, you posit that a SIMILAR oral tradition exists in Christianity. But, this has no legs. I will get more into why in my lengthier comment to come”. I understand that the purpose of this article is to explain in detail why the oral tradition in Christianity “has no legs”.

      Hence I understand this article as a comparison between the Oral tradition in Judaism and Christianity and not on the credibility of the Oral Torah in the written scriptures as raised by the Christian missionary. You explained that no reliable oral transmission exist from the beginning and I was trying to prove to you from the NT that your assessment is not accurate.

      In my opinion , it is unfair to argue that the oral tradition in Christianity is corrupted because the Church did not accept the authenticity of the Oral Torah . I have shown you that there is evidence from the NT of an oral transmission unique to the believers of Jesus and common teachings/rituals adhered by both the Jewish and Gentile Christians at the time . There is a reliable system within the Church to transmit these oral teachings from the Apostles to the present Church today .

      In addition , the council in Acts 15 did not require the non Jewish Christians to be Torah observant . It is sufficient that they observe a few rules as set by the council . Hence the tradition that is derived from the worship of the Jerusalem church will be devoid of Torah observance , for Torah observance is incumbent on the Jewish Christians alone .Since the gentile Church grew and become more dominant , it is natural that these traditions , devoid of Torah observance take centre stage.

      If we accept that the Apostles and disciples of Jesus regard the Torah observance as required for the Church , then why do they themselves violate the command of the Torah on idolatry? They worship the risen Jesus as described in Matthew 28:17 , except for a few who doubted . Why did Cephas (Peter) or James not berate Paul for his high Christological claims, if indeed they did not regard Jesus as divine? There seems to be no record of this sort of disagreement in the NT. The only concern of James and the elders had was on Paul’s teaching that Jews living among Gentiles to turn away from Moses . Even then Paul agreed to follow their suggestion to join the four Jewish Christians in their purification rites according to Mosaic law.

      The central focus of Christianity , the Apostles and of Paul is a Person –Jesus and that influenced their interpretation of the Jewish scriptures. To these Jewish Christians there is no conflict in their reverence to the exalted Jesus and adhering to the Torah prohibitions on idolatry -which has been affirmed by scholars such as Richard Bauckham and Larry W Hurtado.

      You mentioned about the Ebionites . Did you consider “Nazarene” Christianity , another Jewish Christian group at the time ? I learnt about this group , as with the Ebionites in two books written by scholars so far. The Nazarenes , according to Larry Hurtado had a view of Jesus which is compatible with beliefs of Proto -Orthodox circles -the dominant circle which is to be the face of Christianity. They regarded Jesus as divine. What are your views about them? Don’t they deserve some mention?

      In my opinion , your arguments on the lack of oral transmission in Christianity comes about from ignorance of oral traditions WITHIN Christianity itself , given your evangelical background . The position of the evangelical Christian on the Oral Torah comes from the lack of appreciation of the oral tradition WITHIN Christianity itself. If the evangelical Christian does not accept the authenticity of oral tradition within Christianity , how then can they accept the existence of Oral tradition in Judaism?

      I see your arguments as trying to deflect that and to point of the resistance by the Christian towards the Oral Torah as a weakness in the transmission of oral tradition within the first generation of Christianity itself . That is why I stated that you do not give Christianity a fair hearing.

      I admit my initial question that brought about this discussions come from a Sola Scriptura mindset . I am raised in the Catholic tradition , however I was influenced of this mindset by my brief involvement in Evangelical Christianity . However I find it easier to accept the Oral traditions within Judaism for I see a similar tradition in my own-except for the 7.

      • Jim says:

        Sharon,

        You misunderstand my position. I am afraid I do not make myself clear at all. The purpose of this article is not to explain why the Christian oral tradition has no legs. Indeed, I do not consider it at all important to argue against the Christian oral tradition as an argument against Christianity. I only have a few minutes, so I will keep my comments here brief.

        Even if Christianity had an identifiable and clear oral tradition, that tradition would be of no value, because:

        1. The Jesus of the New Testament was a false prophet, as has been demonstrated elsewhere. Therefore, even if his teachings were kept in tact by his apostles and passed down through the Church faithfully, they would have only faithfully preserved the teachings of a false prophet.

        2. Early Christians, such as Paul, misrepresented the Torah. Even if they faithfully transmitted Jesus’ teachings, they did not faithfully transmit the Torah. They are deceivers and not to be trusted.

        It is not important to me to undermine the Christian oral tradition. However, you ignore multiple facts to assert that you know the one true tradition. As the NT testifies, multiple traditions had already sprung up. You have ignored that Paul has to warn others against foreign gospels. You only assert that you know what the true tradition is by cherry-picking certain verses and ignoring others. I know that you say the same thing about me, but I will have to defend my arguments regarding Paul at a later time when I have more time.

        But again, I am only explaining one reason why Christians do not see the obvious priority of the Oral Torah, a priority that is so obvious, that you seek to establish a Christian oral tradition, despite the clear evidence of multiple traditions.

        Jim

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi Jim,

          Firstly , my apologies for describing your parable on the muffin as “vicious”. I assumed that you had based your parable on Daniel Ventresca’s presentation based on the common usage of the muffin as a metaphor . In addition , you stated that it is the good elements of Christianity which makes the evil palatable . I understand from that statement that you find Christianity as evil. I then came to a conclusion that your arguments is vicious based on the above two factors.

          You stated that I “sometimes subject Torah to a test based on Islamic teachings, asserting the superiority of the latter” , that my methodology is faulty . Let me respond by saying that you and I come from very different spiritual backgrounds . I assume you come from an evangelical Christian background and come to know the errors of Christianity -trinity and idolatry through the Jewish Scriptures. I come from a Catholic background and come to know of the same errors through Islam . I was not aware that the message of monotheism and prohibition against idolatry is the central message in the Jewish scriptures at the time . I only come to know about this after listening from Jewish counter-missionaries, many years after I explored Islam.

          I assumed initially that Judaism and Islam share the same message of monotheism . However I have found the answer to your question “Does Islam have an unique truths that Judaism has not already taught?” through my own studies of Judaism. I highlighted these findings during our previous discussions in “Sufficient” .

          My question “Scriptures and history aside ,is there anything unique about the universal truths Judaism has to offer which other faiths , such as Islam has not already taught?” does not imply that I am asserting superiority of Islamic teachings . I am just stating that there is another group of people that has the same claims of monotheism -worship of the one G-d as Judaism . What is the difference between the two? What is the unique message that Judaism has on this? Is it wrong for me to ask this question?

          I am also sensing that you are changing your positions in the light of my arguments. You started with the Christian missionary questioning the authenticity of the Oral Torah . Yet you devote 8 to 9 paragraphs of your article to prove why the Oral tradition aka the transmission of Jesus’s teachings to the Apostles and the church (no Oral Torah mentioned here) has no legs. If you can consider the possibility that the oral transmission in Christianity is identifiable and clear , despite transmitting the message of a false prophet with the twisted interpretation of the Torah , why bother devote 8 to 9 paragraphs discrediting the twisted oral transmission of Christianity? Why do you even bother to write the scenario of oral transmission involving Peter and the early Christians in Thought Experiment #1 and #2? Why not use the example of Moses and his transmission of the Oral Torah to the judges in your thought experiment instead?

          I do not wish to discredit you . I understand that you are highly respected here . However I notice that there is an error in your methodology . From your article and comments it is clear that you do not regard Christianity as having a sound oral tradition . I can understand if it is coming from your evangelical background . However you have implicit trust in both the written and oral torah in Judaism judging from the above article. If I were you , I would look back at the Christian faith I left behind in its whole totality (Orthodox + Evangelical) and try to study and appreciate the oral traditions within Christianity . That is what I did. The knowledge of the Oral Torah in Judaism inspire me to study similar oral traditions in Christianity .I come to appreciate the effort to preserve this transmission even more-even though it successfully transmits the message of a false prophet with the twisted interpretation of the Torah.

          Perhaps you might want to read up on the Oral tradition in Catholicism by Mark Shea and link to his website that I put in my previous reply to you (in Sufficient).

          Thank you.

  4. Dina says:

    Sharon, since Jim will not defend himself from your charge that his words are “vicious” and unfair to Christianity, I am taking that task upon myself. I have been reading Jim’s comments on this blog for years, and I have never seen his writing to be anything but dispassionate, presenting clear, thoughtful, reasoned arguments to support his position. Far from being vicious, I have seen Jim respond to the most biting personal attacks with courtesy and kindness.

    It would take more time than I have to find his comments to prove my assertion that I have seen Jim freely admit that there is good in Christianity. I have never found that he is like people who, once they leave a religion or ideology behind, criticize everything about it while refusing to admit that it might contain some good, or some truth.

    But ultimately, imputing bad motives to people with whom you disagree, is, I find, unhelpful to uncovering the truth. The question to ask ourselves is not, is this argument vicious? Or even, is this person giving my side a fair hearing? The question to ask is, is this argument true? And if found to be false, to prove it. But if found to be true, to acknowledge it.

    • Dina says:

      And I hasten to add, Sharon, that I have seen you exhibit remarkable courage in doing just that, and I hope you will continue to examine Jim’s arguments in that manner.

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Dina,

      According to Jim ,the Church does not recognize the priority of the Oral Torah because of the early corruption of its own oral tradition. I see this as a glaring example on the lack of fair hearing when it comes to Christianity.

      The oral tradition of Christianity is devoid of Torah observance and thereby Oral Torah as it is not the requirement of the Council in Acts 15 for a non Jew to adhere to Mosaic Law. The Church of today comprise of mainly Gentile Christians. Jewish Christians have died out by 4th century .

      Despite that , I argued that the transmission of oral tradition WITHIN Christianity ( devoid of Torah) is sound and provided verses from the NT to support my claim , notwithstanding that it transmits the message of a false prophet with twisted interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures. There is no major departure within the belief and practice of Jewish Christians in the Jerusalem Church with say a Gentile Church in Corinth . The Jewish Christians worship the exalted Jesus but they observe the Torah. There are common words , hymns and terminology used in the worship of Jewish and Gentile Christians , minus Torah observance on the part of Gentile Christians.

      I find Jim’s argument as being unfair as it assumes that there is no reliable of oral transmission WITHIN Christianity in order to justify why the missionary does not recognize the authenticity of the Oral Torah. In my opinion the missionary , being evangelical does not even recognize the authenticity of the oral transmission WITHIN Christianity . How then can the missionary recognize the authenticity of an oral tradition OUTSIDE of Christianity?

      I find that the argument ignores the fact that 50% of the Christian population today believe that there is a reliable oral tradition in the church from the time of the Apostles. In my opinion Jim’s argument stems from his own ignorance on the oral traditions in Christianity , given his background and does not reflect the true picture of Christianity as a whole (Orthodox + Evangelical )branches of Christianity.

      That said , I respect Jim and the work he has done here. I appreciate his patience , character ,kindness and commitment during our conversations . However I also believe that we should always represent the beliefs of others fairly and accurately , even though we are convinced that the belief itself is false. I have tried my best to live up to that spirit in my interactions with Christians who misinterprets the Jewish scriptures to support arguments that the Jewish people are spiritually blind or legalistic. I try my best to live up to that spirit in articulating the convictions of my muslim brothers and sisters. I am trying my best to do the same here.

      Feel free to look into the comments that I have linked to get a better understanding and judge for yourself . Do highlight if I am in error.

      Thank you.

      • Jim says:

        Sharon,

        In order to establish the one true tradition among competing traditions, one has to eat around the muffin surrounding the cockroach. It is clear even in the New Testament that multiple opinions of what Christianity might mean existed early on. One cannot ignore Paul’s warning to the Galatians that they should heed no gospel other than that which he already delivered to them. This passage relates to Acts 15, and the problem of the early Church, a problem that demonstrates that no oral tradition existed regarding the non-Jewish believer.

        According to Acts 15, two different teachings were promulgated by earlier carriers of the gospel. Some, “who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees” taught that non-Jews needed to convert to Judaism in order to become part of the incipient Church (v. 5). Others, such as Paul, taught that this was unnecessary. Already then, in the first stages of the Church’s development, two opinions existed regarding the treatment of the Church.

        This provokes a question in the reader: What did Jesus teach his disciples about this when he taught them “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you”? (Matthew 28:29-30) Over the course of 40 days, Jesus appeared to his disciples, teaching them. One might surmise that he prepared them for this mission, telling them what was required for its completion, what salvation for the non-Jew would require. The Jewish people spent time at Sinai learning the Torah, preparing for their mission. One would expect the same thing with the disciples, before embarking upon their mission to “make disciples of all nations.”

        However, nothing is more certain than that the disciples had no instructions on this matter. One can see this in that the matter arose at all. If the disciples had received instructions on this, one would expect them to have conveyed those instructions to those that taught the non-Jews the gospel. Before sending them out, they would have told those Pharisees and others what was required for the non-Jew. They would have told Paul what was required and Barnabas and John Mark. However, it is clear that they gave no instructions on these matters. They were entirely unprepared for the question when it arose.

        Moreover, the question, once it had been raised, was not resolved by appeal to Jesus’ teachings. Peter does not say that he and the other disciples received from Jesus a teaching that such-and-such was to be the status of the non-Jewish believer. He does not refer to Jesus’ command to make disciples; nor does he argue that the command was only to baptize and nothing else. Instead, he appeals to his experience as the first selected by God to teach the gospel to non-Jews, by which he seems to be referring to the incident in Acts 10, regarding Cornelius. After Cornelius and those with him believed on Jesus, Peter argues, they received the Holy Spirit just as the Jewish believers in Jesus had “and in cleansing their hearts by faith, he has made no distinction between them and us” (Acts 15:9). Then, Paul and Barnabas appeal to the signs and wonders that they have done among the non-Jews (v.12). And finally, James makes a ruling. In the entire preceding, as recorded in Acts 15, no mention is made of the teaching received from Jesus. Indeed, reading Peter’s argument, one is suspicious that Jesus never commanded his disciples to preach to the non-Jewish world. His account implies that God first gave him that mission privately in a vision, so that the post-resurrection commandment by Jesus appears to be a retrojection. Regardless, it is quite clear that the apostles had no teaching on this matter from Jesus: they had no oral tradition regarding this matter.

        Further confusion of the early tradition comes out of this story, a conflict between the ruling of James and the teaching of Paul. James’ decision included the injunction that non-Jews should “abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood” (Acts 15:20). Despite this ruling, Paul later writes to the Corinthians that they are permitted to eat meat offered to idols, because they know that idols are nothing. Only they must not do so in the company of the “weak,” those that still think of food as being actually offered to idols (I Corinthians 8). This is a violation of the ruling in Acts 15, and, read one way, implies a weakness in James in Paul’s opinion. On this matter, then, two traditions were taught in the early Church, that of James and that of Paul, the former teaching the impermissibility of eating food offered to idols and the latter the opposite, except under certain circumstances.

        From Acts 15, then, it is evident that the early Church did not have one solid tradition going back to Jesus. One sees that from the beginning, the Church could not have received instructions relating to the conversion of non-Jews, or else the question of their circumcision would not have arisen. And, once the question did arise, it was not resolved through appealing to Jesus’ instructions. And finally, when the matter was settled, further fracturing ensued, as Paul violated the ruling of that council. From its inception, the Church began to resemble the Tower of Babel, various sects with various claims to tradition breaking off early on, with no one solid tradition reliably transmitted.

        Jim

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi Jim,

          Thank you for your enlightening reply . You intend to show that church does not have one solid tradition going back to Jesus , by showing that no oral tradition existed regarding the non-Jewish believer.

          Let me start by stating that the knowledge of the Oral Torah in Judaism helps me to understand the oral tradition in Christianity, particularly of the Catholic faith . I believe that as a student of the Torah , you would have come across the term “ Lo Bashamayim Hi” or “Torah is not in heaven”. This term is based on Deuteronomy 30:12 to mean “that the meaning of the Torah itself is to be uncovered not by prophets, or even God’s miracles or words, but by man’s interpretation and decision-making. “(source: Wikipedia).To me this means that Moses may not be able to realise the full length and breadth of the Torah at the time of its giving at Sinai. The meaning of the Torah is further expounded by the Jewish community over the centuries to become the body of knowledge that it is today. I have heard of one tradition which described Moses with the Sages and where he expressed his surprise at their breadth knowledge. Do correct me if I’m wrong.

          I have heard of this argument personally from a Jewish believer of Jesus- that the Judaism practised today is not the practice of biblical Jews . I can see from the outside that there is some truth to his words , a good example will be Chanukah and Purim in which its observance is not mentioned in the Jewish Scriptures . Does that mean that there is no reliable oral transmission from Sinai , that the Jewish people add , subtract or created new innovations beyond what was revealed to them?

          I am sure that your answer would be a flat “No”.

          I take on what I learnt in Judaism and took a good look back at Christianity. I see something similar in what Catholicism terms as the “deposit of faith”. This is the body of saving truth entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles . Jesus ordered his disciples to teach the nations “to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).

          I learnt more about this deposit , handed down by the Apostles in Sacred Scripture and Tradition . This deposit when handed over was at its embryonic stage and is continually developed and expounded over the centuries . This deposit is further defined and developed when the Church had to clarify issues of Jesus’s divinity among the many competing teachings at the time.

          Am I trying to eat around the muffin with cockroaches in order to establish one true traditions among competing traditions as you say? Or is there really one true tradition which required development over time?If you really appreciate the oral transmission and development of Torah over time then you should consider a similar pattern in the Christian oral transmission as well.

          You argued that Jesus did not leave detailed instructions to the Apostles on what the non Jew would require for salvation , despite instructing his disciples to “make disciples of all nations”. Actually Jesus did ask his disciples to baptise and teach what he ( not the Torah) has commanded them to the nations . That is a start. Perhaps Jesus did not leave further instructions beyond that . That is for the Apostles to figure out , based on the deposit of faith entrusted by Jesus to them and through the working of the Holy Spirit.

          You mentioned that Peter and the other disciples did not receive such and such on the status of the non Jewish believer. However Peter did quote a lesson he learnt from Jesus while explaining his action to the other Jewish believers (Acts 11:16). That is the starting point in the shift of the Apostles’s ministry by reaching out to the non Jews.

          You stated that there was a conflict between the ruling of James and that of Paul .In my opinion Paul’s ruling would be in conformity to what Jesus had taught. According to Jesus “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” (Matthew 15:11) and again “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”( Mark 9:42) with regards to the weak believer.

          Since you are touching on the non Jew , I would like to point out the situation of the non Jew in the Judaism. The written Torah only prohibits mankind on murder and eating meat that has lifeblood in it . The written Torah however commanded man to be fruitful and multiply, which I learnt was only binding to the Jewish people based on the Talmud .

          There are no specific verses on 7 laws in the Torah , we only know of them through the Talmud (Sanhedrin, Chulin) , of which passage in Sanhedrin 56b is frequently referred to.You have explained R’Yochanan’s allusions to the 7 laws based on Genesis 2:16 here https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-58234

          However Talmud Avoda Zara 2b states that the 7 laws have been nullified and this is based on interpretation of Habakkuk 3:6 by the Rabbis. However I learnt from another Rabbi that this does not mean that the 7 is no longer binding.

          You wrote “R’ Hirsch compares the written Torah to a system of notes. It is not the entire teaching that the Jewish people received. But it is a system used to bring to memory what the people learned already.” There are no notes in the Torah on 6 out of the 7 laws or that the non Jew is not required to obey the written law on procreation . We see that the Talmud itself have conflicting views on the 7 which requires further clarification . So why do you harp on the conflict between the ruling of James and that of Paul? Why do you harp on the fact that Jesus did not give “such-and-such” instruction on the status of the non-Jewish believer? Why do you regard R’Yochanan’s interpretation of Genesis 2:16 so highly and not consider Avoda Zara 2b , or bothered that there are no notes on 6 out of the 7 laws in the written Torah?

          I don’t think that Moses would have come up with the tefillin as a device to be a “sign for you upon your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes” (Exodus 13:9) instantly. The development of these observances take time . Similarly the Apostles need time to work out Jesus’s command in Matthew 28 . Why do you not consider this?

          I do not wish to impute bad motives to you, but I find that you are inconsistent in your methodology. You do not consider the circumstances surrounding the development Oral Torah and analyse the oral transmission in Christianity in the same light. You see only the falsehoods, which you described as rat poison in your parable to me . You do not give a fair hearing when it comes to Christianity.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Jim,

            The correct link to your detailed explanation of the 7 laws here
            https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-45103

            Thank you

          • Dina says:

            I hope you guys don’t mind my jumping in here to say a couple of things. Number one, Sharon, you said that Purim is a holiday not mentioned in Scripture. The injunction to observe Purim is in the Book of Esther, which is part of the Hebrew Scriptural canon. It is true that it is a later book and that Moses did not observe this holiday. Nevertheless, it is to be found in Scripture.

            We have a solid oral tradition stretching back to Moses; this includes the authority granted to rabbis to make rabbinical enactments. You are correct that many observances have been added, but this is expected as part of the oral tradition.

            However, there is a huge difference between Christian oral tradition, if such a thing there be, and Jewish. The arguments between religious, devout sects of Christianity center on fundamental issues, like the trinity. All the religious, devout sects of Judaism, be they Hasidic, ultra-Orthodox non-Hasidic, centrist, modern, or anything outside and in between, agree on the basics. There is no difference of opinion on God’s oneness, on what constitutes violation of the Sabbath, what makes a food non-kosher, when Passover should be observed–even though there are varying levels of strictness in observance. So the differences between the sects boil down to hair-splitting differences on how strict to be in observing the law (not in how to interpret it). But you will never find one group arguing that there is no afterlife (as some in the media mistakenly attributed to Judaism), one group arguing that God is really three (God forbid!), one group arguing that one is permitted to eat beef with milk but not goat meat with milk, or anything like that.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Dina,

            Thank you for correcting me on Purim.

            I do agree that there is a huge difference between Christian oral tradition and that of Judaism . There is also a huge difference between Christian oral tradition and that of Islam as well . If you look at the bigger picture , there is more diversity of beliefs in Christianity as compared to Judaism and Islam . This is a common argument brought about by critics of Christianity .

            However that does not mean this diversity occurs mainly due to no reliable oral transmission from the beginning of Christianity or within the generation of the Apostles . This diversity aka other gospels have existed from when the Apostles started their ministry , in their own lifetime! It takes councils such as the one in Acts 15 to clarify the teachings of the Apostles ,such as on the requirement of the non Jew to be saved.
            If indeed there is no reliable oral tradition ,these other gospels would have been propagated long after the Apostles had passed ,not during their lifetime.

            The diversity in Christianity that you see today is mainly due to the major split in the church during the 15th century. The faction that split follow a Sola Scriptura method of interpreting the scriptures . Naturally more denominations will come out as those that break away from the Catholic church will interpret scripture differently . However most of these denominations follow the basic doctrines established by the Catholic church , such as the Trinity and the hypostatic union.

            In my opinion we should check further the root cause on why this diversity occur in the first place and when did it start .I see there are two major periods where there is a breakout of this diversity -the first few centuries in the beginning of Christianity and after the reformation to present day. Attributing this diversity to the lack of reliable oral transmission from the beginning of Christianity to me is too simplistic.

            This is my observation . I do not have a deep knowledge of Church history as some commenters here . Do correct me if I’m wrong.

          • Jim says:

            Hi Sharon,

            You present a lot of thoughts on the Oral Torah, which I would like to address, but that will probably not happen until next week some time. While I have a quick moment, I would like to address only the follow-up on Acts 15. You write that Peter does refer back to the words of Jesus, indicating an oral tradition.

            This has not relieved us of the problem at all. Notice to what it is Peter refers. In order to justify baptizing the non-Jewish believers of Cornelius’ house, he does not refer to the commandment that they should go into all nations baptizing in the names, etc. Instead, he makes an appeal to the fact that the non-Jews already had received the greater baptism that comes from Jesus, that of the holy spirit, and so, they must be eligible also to receive the lesser baptism of John: “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” (Acts 11:16-17). This argument should have been wholly unnecessary if Jesus had already told them that they were to go into all the world, etc., which command included the instruction to baptize. Again, this suggests that no such commandment was ever given.

            After Peter tells those that questioned him about this, they respond: “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). This indicates a sense of wonderment on their part. They say this as if it is to them new information. Yet, according to the end of Matthew, Jesus already had given them this mission. Christians call it the Great Commission, after all. However, the text indicates that they had no idea that such a thing was possible. Did they not know their mission?

            Apparently not.

            Four chapters later, they must discuss whether or not the non-Jew must become a Jew or not, the arguments there having been briefly discussed here already. Moreover, Paul’s epistle to the Galatians suggests that much confusion continued around this question. In the second chapter, Paul writes of his conflict with Peter, who apparently had been convinced by representatives of James (who decision was followed in Acts 15) to stop eating with the non-Jews (v. 12). Moreover, Barnabas, Paul’s teaching partner also adopted this practice, it appears (v. 13). To all appearances, those in authority in Jerusalem, who Paul claims had succumbed to hypocrisy, had a different view of the Church’s mission to the non-Jews than Paul had. It would require a great stretch to say that the Church shared one common tradition on this matter.

            Indeed, the evidence suggests that they had no teaching from Jesus on this matter, not even a commission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them. Otherwise, people should have been much less surprised by non-Jewish acceptance of Jesus, and Peter would not have to argue from the greater baptism to the lesser baptism. Moreover, Paul would not be in conflict with Peter still much later and in conflict with James, who seems to lead the Church in Jerusalem. It is clear that confusion about the Church’s mission begins early in the Church, even regarding what are considered basic matters of the Church, even its mission.

            Jim

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Jim,

            Thank you for continuing this discussion.

            You intend to show that there is no commission for the Apostles to make disciples of all nations .You highlighted the difficulties and conflicts within the followers of Jesus in expanding their ministry to include non Jews , by referencing to Acts 15 , particularly on verses 16 to 17 and on Paul’s conflict with Cephas (Peter) in Galatians 2.

            The commission for the Apostles to make disciples of all nations is not only found in Matthew 28: 19-20 , but also in Luke 24:47 and Acts 1: 8 . Hence we see this commission attested in two sources. Hence , there is evidence to believe that Jesus had instructed the Apostles on this matter. I agree that Jesus did not leave a detailed “operating standard”, SOP, or guide such as “Reaching out to the non Jews 101” as you would have liked. However, as I wrote previously, that is for the Apostles to find out, based on the deposit of faith entrusted by Jesus to them and through the working of the Holy Spirit.

            The shift in the Apostle’s ministry to include non Jews actually started with Phillip , an Apostle (Acts 1:13) and his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch , described in Acts 8:26 to 39. Phillip interpreted Isaiah 53 in order to explain to the eunuch the good news about Jesus . Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch later went down to the water, where Phillip baptized him . There was no confusion about the greater baptism (of the Holy Spirit) to the lesser baptism (of water) on Phillip’s part.

            I do acknowledge that there confusion and even conflict within the disciples of Jesus in their ministry to the non Jews . However, based on the above facts , these conflicts does not arise due to the lack of a reliable oral transmission or that Jesus did not commission the disciples on making disciples of non Jews. These conflicts arise out of the existing mindset that the Jewish Christians already have about the non-Jew from their Jewish upbringing and adherence to the Torah.

            The events in Acts 15 started from the events in Acts 10. The story of Peter’s encounter with Cornelius (Acts 10) started with both Cornelius and Peter having a vision . Peter had a vision of a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners and contained all kinds of four footed animals . A voice told Peter to kill and eat to which he replied “ Surely not, Lord” , and followed by “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” (Acts 10:13-14). The voice responded “ Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15). This happened three times. Peter only realized the meaning of that vision upon his meeting with Cornelius . He stated “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (10:34) . This is later affirmed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit even among the Gentiles which left the circumcised believers with Peter astonished (Acts 10:45-46). Peter then baptized them with water , realizing that they have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit just as the Jewish Christians have (Acts 10:47-48). This is the background behind Peter’s quotation of a lesson from Jesus in Acts 11:16-17 . The point is that the Holy Spirit does not discriminate between Jew and non Jew , as stressed by Peter again in Acts 15 :9.

            Similarly , the conflict between Paul and Peter , described by Paul in Galatians 2 is due to Peter and Barnabas having to reconcile their new found convictions from the events in Acts 10,11 and 15 with their adherence to Jewish law, such as concerns on violation of kashrut laws when associating with non Jews. I will not rule out peer pressure i.e the need to please the circumcision party either. Paul is a Hellenistic Jew .He might have a broader outlook and is able to associate with non-Jews more freely then Peter and Barnabas. Perhaps that is why he saw their actions as hypocrisy.

            I need to sidetrack a bit here. Dietary laws can be a source of friction between those who follow them , such as Jews and Muslims and those who do not follow them . I experience this in my interactions with Muslims in catering to their dietary restrictions for a group event involving muslims and non muslims. Some Muslims are concerned with the choice of restaurants and insist on a restaurant with a “halal certificate” by the local muslim religious authority ,certifying that the restaurant comply to Muslim dietary law. Some Muslims are not too concerned with the choice of restaurant as long as what is served to them is does not resemble any forbidden items . There are some muslims , who may not be too concerned with the choice of restaurants when out with their non-muslim friends on their own. However the same person may insist to eat in a restaurant that is certified when they fellow muslim friends are present. My non Muslim friends and I always go to great lengths to cater to the dietary requirements of our muslim friends. The fellowship is more important. However we do understand if they choose not to join in us in these gatherings.

            I don’t see how Paul’s mission differ from those in authority in Jerusalem . Paul wrote “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law , but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we too have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law”(Galatians 2:16).

            Peter’s statement in Acts 15:10-11 is similar to what Paul had written to the churches in Galatia –“Now then ,why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No , we believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved , just as they are”. James therefore judged in favor of Peter, Barnabas and Paul based on their testimony. How are these two statements any different?

            To recap ,I hope to have shown that the incidences in Acts 15 and Galatians 2 does not come about due to the lack of oral transmission and teaching from Jesus on making disciples out of non Jews. These difficulties and conflicts arise due to the existing mindset that the Jewish Christians already have about the non-Jew from their Jewish upbringing and adherence to the Torah. Hence they had initial difficulty to reconcile their new found convictions from the events in Acts 10,11 and 15 with their adherence to Jewish law.

          • Jim says:

            Hi Sharon,

            Neither Luke 24:47, nor Acts 1:8 contain a commission, they are more predictive than prescriptive. They contain even less information than the Great Commission as it is given in Matthew. Moreover, from all that has been noted here, a great lack of information was evident from the beginning with the Church.

            According to you, the disciples did not have a clear understanding whether Jesus should be worshipped as a divine being or not, even at his resurrection. Some thought that they ought to adhere to the Torah, and some thought it proper to violate one of the fundamental precepts of the Torah. While you argue from the opening chapters of Acts that the disciples must have all become convinced of one opinion or the other, it is clear that this would be a point of contention in the Church going forward.

            Moreover, the disciples, having been commissioned to preach the gospel to all nations and to baptize believers, exhibit an appalling lack of knowledge regarding that mission. They seem to not know that non-believers can be saved. An argument must be made in favor for their baptism, as if they had not been told to baptize non-Jewish believers. They do not know whether or not the non-Jew must be circumcised or not.

            Further examples have been brought and can be recapitulated here, but the point is that it is clear that no single tradition was communicated by Jesus to the disciples and the early Church was a cacophony. The term “deposit of faith,” is an admission of this fact. It is to say that the early believers had to develop both theology and practice, because of either the lack of or the confusion of the tradition. (Or both.)

            I know that you remain unconvinced, which is fine. I have no plans to argue any further on this subject.

            Jim

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Jim,

            Thank you for your feedback.

            I do see your point , but I think it is important to consider the surrounding factors , especially the mindset that the Apostles already have about Gentiles . This may cause the confusion and conflict in Acts 15 and Galatians 2.

            To conclude that there is no tradition communicated by Jesus to the Apostles without considering these factors is simplistic.

            However we have both put up our opinions and arguments. It is up to the reader to consider for themselves and judge accordingly.

            Thank you once again for your patience, kindness and commitment during our conversations in “Sufficient”, “Turning on a dime” and in this thread as well . My apologies if you find whatever I’ve written as rude or offensive.

          • Jim says:

            Hi Sharon,

            You have nothing for which to apologize, but I thank you for your sensitivity.

            I have a couple of questions for you that might help me address your comments regarding the Oral Torah.

            1. A rabbi has already told you that Avodah Zara 2b should not be understood to release the non-Jew from keeping the Seven Laws. Why do you reject his teaching?

            2. Let us assume that the non-Jew has been released from the Seven Laws: what would be the proper response for the non-Jew? Should he act lawlessly? Should he plead with the Lawgiver to reinstate those laws and accept his service? What do you envision the proper response would be, and why?

            I hope you are well,

            Jim

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Jim,

            “1. A rabbi has already told you that Avodah Zara 2b should not be understood to release the non-Jew from keeping the Seven Laws. Why do you reject his teaching?”

            The concerns I raised to the rabbi and now to you are as follows:

            What I learnt is that gentiles somehow “lost” the transmission of the 7 laws -and that the only way to regain it (in other words to know what is G-d’s will for us) is to learn it from the Jewish people . I am uncomfortable with this truth due to a few reasons:

            a.It portrays Gentiles as incapable of knowing G-d’s will on their own -This is in contradiction to the example of Abraham and how he came to know the truth.
            b.It seems to show that whatever good the Gentile does -such as helping the needy or standing up for truth and justice – has no reward as it is not done out of conscious reverence to God.
            c.The gentile will have to learn G-d’s will for him/her through the Jew. How will this be possible when there are roughly 16 million Jews for close to 7.5 billion world population?
            d.The Jews I encountered with online see themselves fulfilling a mainly priestly role and see the teaching of Torah truths to humanity as a secondary one , or not of much importance.These truths are revealed to counter missionary propaganda , not to actively teach the truth seeking Gentile like myself.

            “2. Let us assume that the non-Jew has been released from the Seven Laws: what would be the proper response for the non-Jew? Should he act lawlessly? Should he plead with the Lawgiver to reinstate those laws and accept his service? What do you envision the proper response would be, and why?”

            I remember having a conversation with Dina which touched on your question here https://judaismresources.net/2014/07/30/turning-on-a-dime/#comment-48242

            In summary:
            1.There are two ways G-d reveals His will to man . G-d reveals the Torah , which is revealed knowledge to the Jewish nation to be used with existing human faculties of reason and conscience.
            2.G-d also reveals His will indirectly to all peoples through reason and conscience (without revealed knowledge).
            3.If G-d reveals His Will differently to Jew and Gentile, perhaps there may be a different set of expectations for Jew and Gentile as well .
            4.The Jewish people are bound up in a covenantal relationship with G-d where there is a higher set of expectations.The punishment meted out on the Jewish people are mainly due to idolatry.
            5.Although G-d demands exclusive worship , I don’t think this is required from Gentiles as much.The destruction of the 7 nations , Sodom and Gomorrah among others is because of their wickedness , not because of idolatry alone.
            6. The proper response would be more in keeping with G-d’s Will for the Gentile, to be a decent human being –not to kill , steal or having illicit relations. There is no need to abandon the faith one is born into. One can be idolatrous or atheist but still be a far more decent person than a monotheist.

            I hope to have answered your question.

          • Jim says:

            Sharon,

            I am sorry, but I have not asked my questions well, which made it difficult for you to answer them. Thank you for taking the time to answer as thoroughly as you could, despite my lack of clarity. Let me try clarifying the questions.

            You have indicated that you understand Avodah Zara 2b to mean that non-Jews are released from keeping the Seven Laws according to Judaism and that you understand this to mean that they receive no reward for keeping them. For example, in answer to my first question, you write: “b.It seems to show that whatever good the Gentile does -such as helping the needy or standing up for truth and justice – has no reward as it is not done out of conscious reverence to God.” The rabbi with whom you consulted has indicated that this is not the case, which implies that you have misunderstood the passage.

            Question 1: On what grounds do you reject the rabbi’s explanation? Why do you disregard his interpretation, favoring your own?

            Question 2: If your interpretation is correct, that God has released non-Jews from keeping the Seven Laws and no longer rewards them when they do, what would be the proper response from the non-Jew in that scenario?

            Neither of these questions is asking for a refutation of the teaching of the doctrine or your general views on Judaism. Those views may be quite important, but they do not relate to these specific questions. I hope that I have made these questions more clear.

            Jim

          • LarryB says:

            Sharon
            Dina made a comment that you gave a link to and that I would like to add to, “As long as non-Jews attempt to lead a righteous life and sincerely believe that they are doing nothing wrong–and in fact believe their orthodoxy is correct–then God’s judgment will be tempered with mercy. This applies to idolatrous nations as well as to individuals. But once they find out the truth, I don’t see how there is any going back.”
            Doesn’t that go along with what Exodus says?
            9:15 For now I could have sent My hand and stricken you and your people with pestilence and you would have been obliterated from the earth. However, for this reason have I let you endure, in order to show You My strength so that My Name May be declared through the world.
            Also, who would the Egyptians go to to learn about Hashem? Who would the world go to?

          • Bible819 says:

            Larry,

            God speaking through Isaiah:

            We were pregnant, we writhed in pain, we gave birth to wind. We have brought no salvation to the earth, nor brought any life into the world.

            God speaking through Jeremiah:

            I looked at the earth,
            and it was formless and empty;
            and at the heavens,
            and their light was gone.

            God Speaking through Isaiah:

            He saw that there was no man— He was amazed that there was no one to intercede; so His own arm brought salvation, and His own righteousness sustained Him.

            The Branch is another prophetic name of the Messiah:

            —>>>>Joshua <<<>>>man<<<>>>name = is the Branch, and He will branch out from His place and build the temple of the LORD.

            That is Yeshua or Jesus.

            Praise to the Son of the Most High God. Yeshua!

            In the United States we know Yeshua as Salvation.

          • LarryB says:

            Bible 819
            I have no idea what your talking about. Can you be more clear?

          • Jim says:

            Hi Sharon,

            A few weeks back, I wrote that I would like to move past the issues regarding non-Jewish believers in Jesus. If you do not mind, I would like to re-open that topic. I left several things unsaid, which I thought to just ignore, but I am afraid of having left the impression that they are unanswerable, if not with you, then with other readers. Because I do not want to steal the last word from you, and because we agreed to move on, I do not want to re-open that topic without your consent. Do you mind if I re-open that topic?

            Jim

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Jim,

            This is your article. You have the right reopen this topic and I think you should do it so that readers can benefit.

            I do appreciate your sensitivity and courtesy for checking with me.

            Please share your thoughts.

            Thank you.

          • Jim says:

            Sharon,

            Thank you. I appreciate your graciousness.

            Jim

          • Jim says:

            Hi Sharon,

            Regarding dietary restrictions: you have illustrated yet another area in which it is obvious that no reliable tradition from Jesus was established. According to you, Jesus taught in his lifetime that dietary laws were no longer in effect. Because he is addressing hand washing before meals, specifically, when he said that it is not what goes into a man’s mouth but what comes out of it that makes one unclean, others take this to refer only to hand washing, which is a rabbinic command. Let us consider whether or not it is likely that Jesus taught his disciples that they need not follow kosher laws anymore.

            Certainly, if one says that what goes into one’s mouth does not make one unclean, it would seem to include foods, such as pork. But from the attitude expressed in Acts and in Galatians, it seems that the disciples never received such a message. One might have expected the new Jewish believers (i.e. those that received the gospel from the disciples) to be averse to adopting these new looser dietary standards. It would conflict with their lifetime of Torah observance. And, having never learned with Jesus, it would be all the stranger to them. But it is not only they who cannot wrap their minds around this idea. It is Peter as well, one of the chief disciples. If Jesus taught him that he could avoid dietary laws, especially in order to win gentiles to Jesus—that is, to be a fisher of men—then why, oh why, does he need a vision in triplicate to let him know that he could eat with gentiles? We are supposing him to have learned this long before the Great Commission.

            Did Jesus never invite his disciples to partake in an unkosher meal? When he sent them out to teach while he was still alive, why did he not tell them to go also to the gentiles and not be afraid to eat with them? Why did he not eat with them himself in order to show his disciples the correct path and help them practice it? I submit that either he did not teach them that they could eat non-kosher foods, or he did not teach them in such a way as they could understand. This is but another piece of evidence that no reliable oral tradition was established within the early Church.

            The matter is even a little more complicated. The New Testament treats the reticence of the early believers as a barrier to evangelizing. However, this need not have been the case. In Matthew 23, as Jesus rails against Torah observant Jews, he says: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves” (v. 15). According to the New Testament, then, the most scrupulous of Jews were able to interact with non-Jews, teach them Torah and convert them. This they would have done without violating the kosher laws. How then did it become such a major issue for the early church? If the rabbis were able to convert non-Jews, exerting themselves very much in doing so, why was the early Church at such an impasse?

            It is clear that no oral tradition could have been given to the disciples by Jesus regarding the conversion of non-Jews. Early believers in the Church were surprised that non-Jews were able to become believers. They had to make an argument in favor of baptizing them, despite Jesus having supposedly teaching the disciples to do just that. They did not know what the non-Jew was supposed to observe once he had converted. And they did not know that they could eat with them, or that they were no longer required to eat only kosher foods. It is most likely that the Great Commission was something retrojectively put into Jesus mouth. And, it is clear that different Christian sects had different ideas on what the practice of gentile believers should be.

            Jim

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Jim,

            To recap , you see the confusion and conflict in the early church on the ministry to non Jews as proof that there is no oral tradition given by Jesus to the disciples on this matter. I see these confusion and conflicts arise due to the existing mindset that the Jewish Christians already have about the non Jew from their Jewish upbringing and adherence to the Torah.

            I realized that both you and I did not consider Acts 10:42-43 . Peter declared in that verse that Jesus commanded the Apostles “to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name”. It is true that Jesus instructed the Apostles not to go among the Gentiles during his lifetime (Matthew 10:5-6) . If Peter still interpret the command in Acts 10:42 as only applicable to the Jews , then why did he declare Jesus’s command to preach the Gospel to Cornelius and the other gentiles with him?

            I think you may have misunderstood what I wrote about Peter and Barnabas having to reconcile their new found convictions with their adherence to Jewish law , such as concerns on violation of kashrut laws when dealing with non Jews. It does not mean that Jesus taught that the Jewish disciples need not follow kosher laws anymore. I have written previously that the Jewish Christians were still required to follow Torah. There is no requirement for gentile believers to follow Torah.

            There were restrictions for Jews to associate with Gentiles at the time. Peter himself admitted that it is against Jewish law for a Jew to associate with or visit a gentile (Acts 10:28). This is not a matter of eating unkosher food –it is associating and visiting a gentile altogether! If the Jewish Christians are hesitant to do what Jesus commanded because of this law then is it fair to blame absence of oral tradition for the impasse? That is reason behind Peter’s vision –“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15) . Peter is called to reach out to the Cornelius despite the Jewish law prohibiting him to associate with a gentile –as they are, not as potential converts.

            The Jewish Christians at that time believe that the gift of the spirit was only given to the Jewish people . Hence they were surprised that “the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured even among the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God” (Acts 10:46) . If the Gentiles are able to receive the Holy Spirit as they are –without conversion then why the need to be circumcised according to the Torah to be saved? Jesus indeed gave the command , but it is a series of events which pushed the Apostles to reach out to the Gentiles .

          • quote:
            The Matthean Jesus spells out clearly in .– that all of the Mosaic Law without exception is to be obeyed until the parousia, and it is expected that his followers will obey the Torah and teach it to others until that time. It therefore comes as no surprise to learn that Matthew omitted completely the Marcan comment in Mark :b. In Matthew’s version of this pericope, there is no indication at all that Jesus undermined the Jewish rules regarding clean and unclean foods; the emphasis remains on the non-biblical Pharisaic practice of ritual handwashing.

            David C. Sim (2011). Matthew’s Use of Mark: Did Matthew Intend to Supplement or to Replace His Primary Source?

            Hello sharon, can you tell me what was the point of matthew to have his jesus, DECADES later, say to obey the mosaic law ? what was matthew trying to tell his listeners?

  5. hello sharon

    “Peter had a vision of a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners and contained all kinds of four footed animals . A voice told Peter to kill and eat to which he replied “ Surely not, Lord” , and followed by “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” (Acts 10:13-14). The voice responded “ Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15). This happened three times. Peter only realized the meaning of that vision upon his meeting with Cornelius . He stated “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (10:34) ”

    “i now realize…” seems to imply something new in peters knowledge.

    quote :
    18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
    19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
    20 teaching them to observe ALL THAT I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

    quote :
    After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

    quote :

    15Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

    16“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

    my confusion is with ” i NOW REALIZE….”

    like it is completely new information. it is peter who is seeking clarification(matthew 15:15, mark 7)

    one would expect ” i now remember those parables jesus explained to us….”

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi mrHeathcliff,

      Please refer to the full verse here:

      “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (10:34)

      I agree with you . This knowledge is new to Peter . Jesus during his earthly ministry instructed the Apostles ( the Twelve) not to go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans, but rather go to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6)

      In addition ,refer to the conversation between Jesus and the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:24-28

      “He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
      The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
      He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
      “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
      Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

      This passage comes after the Jesus declared that whatever goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them.

      The interaction between Jesus and the Apostles with the Gentile community may also be restricted due to the Jewish law that forbids a Jew to associate or visit a Gentile as stated by Peter:

      “He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:27)

      Based on the above , it is natural for Peter and the circumcised believers to be surprised when Cornelius and his party started speaking in tongues and praising God. In my opinion they must be wondering how can the Holy Spirit descend on those who are not following the law. They realise then that the Spirit does not discriminate.

      In conclusion ,the risen and exalted Jesus changed his direction and instructed his disciples to make disciples of all nations. This is attested in two sources . However in my opinion it takes time for the Apostles to realise this due to the existing mindset that they have about the non Jew.

      Please read and interpret the verses in its context.

  6. Sharon S says:

    Hi Jim,

    Responding to your comment here https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-60192

    The passage in Avoda Zara 2a to 3a are as follows:

    “The Gemara asks: And from where do we derive that they did not fulfill them? As Rav Yosef teaches in explanation of the verse: “He stands, and shakes the earth, He sees, and makes the nations tremble [vayater]” (Habakkuk 3:6): What did God see? He saw the seven mitzvot that the descendants of Noah accepted upon themselves, and He saw that they did not fulfill them. Since they did not fulfill them, He arose and nullified for them [vehitiran] the command to heed these mitzvot. The Gemara asks: Do they gain from not obeying, as they are now released from the obligation to fulfill these mitzvot? If so, we find that a sinner profits from his transgression. “

    “This serves to say that even if they fulfill the seven Noahide mitzvot they do not receive a reward for their fulfilment.”

    “The Gemara asks: And are they not rewarded for fulfilling those mitzvot? But isn’t it taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir would say: From where is it derived that even a gentile who engages in Torah study is considered like a High Priest? The verse states: “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My ordinances, which if a person do, and shall live by them” (Leviticus 18:5). It is not stated: Priests, Levites, and Israelites, but rather the general term “person.” From here you learn that even a gentile who engages in the study of Torah is like a High Priest. This demonstrates that gentiles are rewarded for fulfilling mitzvot, despite the fact that they are not commanded to do so.”

    “Rather, the verse serves to tell you that they do not receive as great a reward for their fulfillment as one who is commanded and performs a mitzva. Rather, they receive a lesser reward, like that of one who is not commanded and still performs a mitzva. As Rabbi Ḥanina says: Greater is one who is commanded to do a mitzva and performs it than one who is not commanded and performs it.”

    To clarify , I consulted with two Rabbis on Avoda Zara 2b . I first consulted Rabbi Blumenthal on this matter. I shared my understanding of the passage as follows :
    1.A gentile who engages in Torah study is considered like a High Priest
    2.Gentiles are rewarded for fulfilling mitzvot, despite the fact that they are not commanded to do so.
    3.The reward of those who is not commanded to do mizva (the Gentile) but performs it is lesser than the one who is commanded to do mizva and performs it. The rewards for the Gentile who study Torah and fulfill the mizvot , even out of obedience to G-d is lesser than that of a Jew.

    Rabbi Blumenthal explained to me – “A society that lives with the conscious knowledge that we must obey our Creator is inherently different than a society that does not live with that conscious knowledge. Individuals within the society may come to that recognition on their own, but they do so without the weight of a society that does not allow them to do or think different. This is what is meant by “not-commanded”. The Gentile societies lost their sense of that weight of “commandment”.

    Based on (3) , I do agree with you that my earlier answer –that whatever the Gentile does has “no reward” is not an accurate reply . The Gentile is indeed rewarded , but the reward is of those who are “not commanded” , which is lesser than the reward of those who are commanded i.e the Jew.

    Your assume that I reject the Rabbi’s explanations, which I find unfair . I do not reject the explanation of both Rabbis. In fact I appreciate that they have taken the time to respond to these queries . You wrote that I” disregard his (the Rabbi’s) interpretation , favoring my own”. I don’t remember putting any new interpretation on the passage from Avoda Zara . Appreciate if you can explain further.

    I have concerns why the non Jew has a lesser reward . It seems to imply that the reward of the non Jew for abandoning idolatry , for example is lesser than that of a Jew. Rabbi Blumenthal has made the distinction between societies and individuals . If an individual non Jew do what is right out of reverence to G-d than is his/her reward lesser than the Jew?

    In addition , you not addressed the other concerns listed in my previous comment. If indeed the “transmission” has been lost (refer the passage above) , then the non Jew would not have known about the 7 at all. What about Abraham? How did he come to know the truth? Is Abraham a gentile or a Jew when he realized the errors of idolatry? How do you and I come to know this truth ? I come to know on the errors of idolatry through the Muslims , not by reading the Jewish scriptures. How is that possible? What is the role of the Jew in all of this?

    You asked , if G-d has released non Jews from keeping the 7 and no longer rewards them then what is the response? My response is based on your question and your assumptions . I am not refuting any doctrine nor is my response based on the general views of Judaism . Rather , my response is based on the observation from the Jewish bible , by reading articles/commentaries and also through consultation with Rabbis.

    To answer Question 2 , the proper response for a gentile based on what I have learnt thus far would be – to be a decent human being –not to kill , steal or having illicit relations. There is no need to abandon the faith one is born into. One can be idolatrous or atheist but still be a far more decent person than a monotheist. G-d punish the nations out of wickedness , not due to idolatry alone. As an example , Rashi interpreted Genesis 6:13 where G-d decide to put an end to all flesh “for the earth is filled with lawlessness” on account of the sin of robbery (Sanhedrin 108a).Idolatry is not mentioned here .There are many progressive societies that practice good values but do not worship the one G-d , Japan is a good example. These societies would not be in existence today if G-d hold them to the same standards as the Jewish nation.

    I would appreciate if you can address these matters rather than stating that you have not asked your questions well and putting words in my mouth in the process. I don’t see my concerns as a rejection of the Rabbi’s explanations. I have not put in any new interpretation. I don’t see my response to Question 2 as a refutation of the teachings of Judaism nor is it a general view of Judaism. These responses do not come overnight , but rather a result of reading , thinking and e-mail communication with Rabbis over a long period.

    I have mostly consulted with Rabbi Blumenthal on these matters . My apologies for including him in all of this . Understand that our Jewish commenters , including Rabbi Blumenthal will be busy with Passover preparations . I wish them a blessed Passover in advance.

    • Jim says:

      Hi Sharon,

      I seem to have offended you for which I apologize. I seem not to have communicated the intention of my questions, which are not meant to refute any of your statements. I have only sought to understand how you come by your position, which is what I meant by the following: “I have a couple of questions for you that might help me address your comments regarding the Oral Torah.”

      You write: “Based on (3) , I do agree with you that my earlier answer –that whatever the Gentile does has “no reward” is not an accurate reply .” However, I have not said that the reply in inaccurate (in that it does not match the text). I only said that it does not answer my question. I have taken no steps to counter your position.

      You write that I have been neglectful of answering you on certain points: “In addition , you not addressed the other concerns listed in my previous comment. If indeed the “transmission” has been lost (refer the passage above) , then the non Jew would not have known about the 7 at all…” But again, I have not answered you on any of your points. I have only sought an answer to two questions, so I better understood how to address you. Obviously, I have failed to make my purpose clear and have only offended you.

      I apologize.

      Jim

      • Sharon S says:

        Hi Jim,

        I understand clearly the intent of your questions. You want to understand my position regarding the Oral Torah so that you can address my comments. I have tried my best to explain my position in my first reply.

        I understand the passage in Avoda Zara very well . I have never rejected the explanation of both Rabbis that they are no longer binding . However as a Gentile I am uncomfortable with this truth. Why did the transmission of the 7 cease to continue among the Gentiles? Why must the Gentile go to the Jew in order to know about the 7? Is it fair for the Gentile that we are not aware of the 7 but in actual fact this law is still binding on us? Does this mean that we Gentiles are inherently not capable of discerning G-d’s will for our lives on our own? We have seen examples of many gentiles who stood up for what is right , even to the extent being imprisoned , maimed or losing their lives for their cause -there are many examples in the present day -why is their reward lesser than those who are “commanded”?

        Hence , the best way to respond to the lack of transmission of the otherwise still binding law (if the poor Gentile is not aware of them) is to live life as decently as possible . We are all blessed with conscience , with a sense of right and wrong . There is no human being who is not aware that it is wrong to hurt another human being as well as other creatures unnecessarily . We can see from the rise and fall of individuals as well as nations that those who are wicked or greedy will eventually fall . G-d does not penalize these individuals/nations due to idolatry.

        What is it about my replies that you do not understand? It seems from your subsequent comments that you do not accept my responses .You are putting forth the same questions despite my initial reply the first time you asked them. I don’t know what is your real intent.

  7. Jim says:

    Sharon,

    Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    Jim

  8. Sharon S says:

    Hi LarryB,

    Responding to your comment here https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-60195

    I have thought a lot about your comment . I did not wish to respond initially , thinking that my response to Jim would suffice . However your comment is thought provoking and deserves an appropriate response on my part.

    I understand you are quoting Exodus 9:15 is to inform me that the intent of Hashem is for the world to know and worship Him. My initial response to Jim’s question seems to show that this is not the case , that perhaps the intent was only meant for 0.21% of the world population (i.e the Jewish people) . In addition if the transmission of the 7 is indeed lost and the punishments meted out on the nations in the Bible were due to wickedness and not idolatry , then it is a strong indicator that there are different set of divine expectations required from Jew and Gentile.

    If indeed there are two different set of expectations , then there is no need for the Jewish people to teach the world . I have heard that Hashem is sustaining all of creation and that it did not descend to chaos through the Jewish people’s efforts in acting as priests for mankind. This implies that no effort required on the part of 99.78% of humankind .

    I have also learnt , through consultation with a Rabbi that there is one truth and that all of us stand in different positions when it comes to this truth . The Jewish people are granted more, thereby they have a higher obligation than the nations who have not been granted these blessings. In addition, I have also learnt from the Rabbi that G-d demands based on the capabilities and opportunities that He has blessed us . From this I learn that enlightened gentiles such as you and I may be granted more and perhaps we may stand in a position between our friends and families and the Jewish people . This is a grey area with another set of difficulties , of which I had highlighted and discussed with Dina in the thread that you have read.

    I understand that you find my initial response to Jim troubling , hence your comment. However I did not come to these conclusions overnight . I am troubled by it as you are.

    In my opinion , both sides –Jew and Gentile need to clarify their positions with regards to the Divine Intent. The Jew has to clarify their position -is their role primarily a priest , carrying out the mitzvoth with no regards to the spiritual state of humanity around them ? Or do they see themselves as having that responsibility to teach mankind about Hashem? This is a decision for them to make as a people . The ball is in their court.

    As Gentiles who knows better and as human beings , we should realize that we are subjects to Hashem . We should place our worship where worship is due . We are obligated to obey –regardless of whether our reward is of the same level as the Jewish people . Like Cornelius and the Canaanite woman , we should having the positive attitude of seeking the truth wholeheartedly and not let these realities set us back from what we are called to do.

    I hope what I have written is clear to you and answers your concerns. Do correct me if I misunderstood you.

    • LarryB says:

      Sharon
      My question was very limited. It insuinated that since Hashem chose his people, gave Them the Torah, who do we go to to understand the Torah’s teaching. You did not answer that. Also, why Noah is even mentioned in the Torah is another question.

      • Sharon S says:

        Hi LarryB,

        I thought your question was not so limited. I guess I have misunderstood you, as usual. Sorry for that.

        My answer -if I want to learn the Torah then I will go to the Jew.

        Why Noah was mentioned in the Torah? I guess the storyline of the Torah starts from the beginning of mankind and it zooms to the Jewish nation , so there will be an account of Noah and the flood in between.

        What is your intent behind these questions?

        • LarryB says:

          Sharon
          I’m simply trying to understand you better. With all the misunderstanding going on around here, for me, I figured getting some basics out of the way would be a good idea.

          • Sharon S says:

            LarryB,

            Sorry for asking that question. I appreciate your effort to understand me better. I will try to do the same.

  9. Jim says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I am unclear about your position on certain elements in these discussions. If I have misread you, I apologize, but I am going to respond to your comments regarding the Oral Torah and the Seven Laws as I understand them. I will begin with a general discussion about what it means that the Written Torah is a system of notes, and I will proceed to discuss this in light of the prohibition to worship idols incumbent upon all human beings, Jew and non-Jew alike.

    On the one hand, you seem to affirm that the Torah has two components, oral and written. But, on the other hand, you seem to deny it, writing, for example, that you doubt that Moses knew about tefillin. This doubt reflects a misunderstanding of the Oral Torah. As I wrote, the Oral Torah precedes the Written Torah. It is not a body of later inventions derived from the Written Torah, your doubts about tefillin notwithstanding.

    When Rabbi Hirsch compares the Written Torah to a system of notes, he similarly compares the Oral Torah to a lecture. The student’s notes are based on what was heard. The notes need not be detailed transcriptions of each word—a most inefficient form of note-taking. A good note-taker is able to refresh his memory with certain symbols that bring back to his mind what he had heard: underlining a word or phrase, an asterisk beside an idea he finds important to review, a question mark here and an exclamation point there. He may use a symbol beside various ideas that appear in his notes that are linked in some commonality or belong under a particular heading.

    The Written Torah is similar to the notes of a student, in that they are meant to remind one of what is already known. Repetitions of words and phrases—and even omissions—may bring the reader to an association with the “lecture,” the already known Oral Torah. A letter may be enlarged or diminished to bring an idea to the educated reader’s mind. A passage may be placed out of chronology or beside a seemingly unrelated passage in order to make an important association. The main difference between the Written Torah and a system of notes taken by the student, however, is that the Written Torah is given by the Teacher, by God, in order to help the students, the Jewish people, remember what they received in the “lecture.”

    An example of this might be found in Exodus 31, wherein at the end of the instructions on the construction of the tabernacle and its accompanying instruments, the people are warned to carefully guard the Sabbath. The 39 forbidden forms of creative work are not listed in a table in the Written Torah. However, this reminder in the text to keep the Sabbath, juxtaposed to the preceding passages, serves to remind the Jewish people of these forbidden forms of creative work. Those forbidden acts were already known; they were not a later interpretation or invention by the rabbis.

    Similarly, the Seven Laws, not just one or two, were known before the giving of the Written Torah. They were not teased out of it by later rabbis. Signs of this can be seen in various places. For example, Abraham was rewarded by God because he “obeyed my [God’s] and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Genesis 26:5). It is clear that the Torah is referring to universal laws that have not appeared as a table in the book up to that point. Moreover, although Genesis 9 only refers to two laws, they imply the necessity of a third: the establishment of courts. However, the commandment to establish courts is not spelled out explicitly there, nor anywhere else for the non-Jew that I can recall.

    That R’ Yochanan sees the Seven Laws in Genesis 2:16 is not at all far-fetched. He is using the system of notes to recall that which was already known. It is of great significance that he uses the first commandment given to remember the Seven Commandments. Because I have already treated of this in another place, I will restrict my comments here to the prohibition to worship idols.

    In the very name “Elokim” is the notion that it is from God that from all other things receive their existence. This name implies that He is the One that orders the universe, and it is He Who gives laws, both physical and moral. Upon Him, all other things rely, and to Him is our gratitude, devotion, and obedience owed. But then, if this is so, why not relate the first commandment to the first verse of the Torah? Virtually everything I wrote here is implied by the act of creation, and the name “Elokim” appears in that verse.

    You know how much I love thought experiments, and I believe one will help us here, as well:

    Let us suppose that Adam and Eve have been in the Garden for some time, following the commandment not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. We will suppose that they have received no commandment not to worship anything other than God, and we will suppose that nothing prevents them from doing so (despite the unlikelihood). Let us say that one day, Adam begins to think that, not only does he owe gratitude God for his very existence, he owes the sun gratitude, for maintaining his existence. Indeed, he begins to think to himself that God’s contribution was a short, one-time act, and the sun’s contribution is faithfully carried out daily. (Again, this is just a thought experiment. The actual possibility or impossibility of this happening, however repugnant, is not the point.) And, let us suppose that Adam begins praying to the Sun, even entering a trance-like state. Let us suppose further that one day, just when he was in such a trance, he had a vision, wherein the sun informed him that in order to show his devotion to the sun, he ought to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is a commandment from Adam’s other god.

    The thought experiment illustrates a problem with worshipping false gods. (I do not say that it is the only one.) A belief in multiple gods leads easily to conflicting commandments. Or, if one worships another god, but not the God, then one will not follow God’s commandments. The other commandments rely upon this first one; it is indispensable.

    This might not be apparent at first blush, because the Seven Laws are to a large degree acknowledged to be a basic moral code with which anyone will agree, even atheists. This is probably true of no commandment more than the prohibition to murder. However, when looking at the details of the law, one can see that conflicts do arise between those that worship the Creator and those that do not. For example, some Christians believe that their god, Jesus, teaches that the death penalty does not apply to murderers any longer, because of his great mercy. And it is to his teaching they will adhere, and not that of God, even when they acknowledge that the Torah prescribes capital punishment for murderers. Many examples of conflicts between God’s Laws and those of other gods’ laws can be brought. When one worships a false god, he is prone to perform actions that contradict God’s Law.

    In pointing out the link between the Seven Laws and Genesis 2:16, R’ Yochanan has done something important. He has illustrated that the commandments rely upon acknowledging the authority of God. One that worships other gods, will not only violate the prohibition to worship idols. He is likely to violate the others as well, on one point or another. He substitutes an illusionary authority for the real. It is only the Creator, upon Whom all else is dependent, Who can prescribe the moral law.

    R’ Yochanan’s teaching is not akin to the Christian “deposit of faith,” and this must not be forgotten. He is not inventing the Seven Laws and looking for a justification of them. Nor is he discovering them. Those Seven Laws already existed and were known; they were known before Sinai. The deposit of faith is the opposite of the Oral Torah. It is the acknowledgement that the Church had need to fill in gaps—significant gaps in theology and practice—because they had not been entrusted with that information in the first place. No comparison can be made between the Oral Torah and the deposit of faith.

    Jim

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you for your detailed and informative comment. What I understand from them are as follows:
      1.Your comment was about the written and oral Torah in the light of the prohibition to worship idols incumbent upon all human beings.
      2.The Oral Torah , compared to a lecture precedes the Written Torah ,compared to a system of notes.
      3.The 7 laws were known prior before the giving of the Written Torah and not teased out by later Rabbis.
      4.R’Yochanan is using the system of notes to recall all that was already known by using the first commandment in Genesis 2:16.
      5.Linking the seven laws and Genesis 2:16 illustrates that the commands rely upon acknowledging the authority of G-d. Worshipping other gods will not only violate the prohibition of idolatry , but other laws as well .
      6.R’Yochanan’s teaching is not akin to the Christian’s “deposit of faith” and no comparison can be made between the Oral Torah and the deposit of faith. The deposit of faith is the Church’s attempts to fill in significant gaps in theology and practice.

      I will start by explaining the little I know of the Oral law and then focus on the 7 . To my understanding the Oral Law is codified in the Mishna . The Talmud contains analyses and discussions on the Mishna (by the Gemara) . So the Oral Law should be mostly codified in the Mishna.

      Based on your analogy in (1) ,I assume the 613 laws would be mentioned in the Written Torah-the lecture notes . Hence the detailed lectures of the 613 will be mostly codified in the Mishna. If I go by this line of reasoning , then there should be a lecture of the 7 in the Mishna . However ,I am unable to find any reference to the 7 laws in the Mishna.

      It is mentioned in tractate Sanhedrin 56b and 59a that the Noahide Mizvot was taught by the Sages in Baraita. I understand that the Baraita is tradition in Jewish Oral Law that is not included in the Mishnah. I was informed that the Baraita is authoritative as the Mishna .However , there are no literature on the Baraita available either.

      Let us then move on to the Talmud. You base your explanation of the 7 on R’Yochanan’s teaching which is found in Sanhedrin 56. R’Yochanan , as you pointed out was using the system of notes –Genesis 2:16 to recall the 7 .However , there is also another interpretation of the 7 by the School of Rabbi Yishmael , which can be found in Sanhedrin 57a. The School of Rabbi Yishmael recalls the 7 laws from a different set of notes . As an example , the word “corruption” in Genesis 6:11 -“ Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence” -is used to recall the prohibition of “licentiousness and idol worship” instead of Genesis 2:16 .The School of Menashe recalled the prohibition for bloodshed from Genesis 9:6 , robbery from Genesis 9:3 and so on.

      As a result , the composition of the 7 according to the School of Menashe , is different as compared to R’Yochanan’s. The School of Menashe removes judgement (setting courts) and blessing the name of G-d (blasphemy ) and adds two other prohibition-diverse kinds and castration. I was informed that the School of Menashe explained the 7 laws from a different perspective (G-d as creator) ,and as such there are prohibitions on altering His creation. Does this mean that the composition of the 7 can change due to the each Rabbi/school having a different perspective?

      In addition , one Rav Yitzhak taught two of the expositions derived from Genesis 2:16 in the opposite order – “And…commanded” alludes to idol worship and “God” on courts of judgement (Sanhedrin 56b).

      So which version of the 7 is correct?

      There are clues in the Written Torah which shows the Flood , destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, killing of Abel by Cain , Abimelech and Sarah as inferring that these laws have been given but later violated .However straight forward reading of the written Torah only shows that these are for murder and sexual immorality . There is also a clear command for not eating meat with lifeblood and murder in Genesis (9:4-6) and to procreate (9:7). But there is no stated record of punishment due to idolatry ,blaspheming , theft or robbery and establishing courts in the Written Torah.

      In fact , I learnt that the command to procreate , clearly stated in the Written Torah, is no longer binding on the Gentiles , based on the Talmud.

      I have put these queries to two Rabbis. One Rabbi replied that “the “7” as we know them today are simply the best guess we have based on the evidence.” Another Rabbi wrote that ” the Noahide commands came prior to those two very bodies of laws”-i.e the Written and Oral Torah. The commands were oral in nature and to include them in the Torah would indicate that they are uprooted from the era of Adam and Noah .

      Based on the above ,there is no complete lecture notes of the 7 in the written Torah and the Rabbis are not interpreting the 7 from the same lecture notes .These are definitely red flags that the 7 was teased out by the Rabbis . This is also a strong indicator that the 7 is formulated just to govern relationship between Jews and Gentiles .

      Jesus gave his Apostles teachings/lectures (i.e deposit of faith) in which some of it is codified to what we know today as the New Testament (the lecture notes) . The lecture notes is quite clear on Jesus’s divinity and that the earliest believers worship him as they worship G-d. The Trinity is derived from the deposit of faith and this belief is consistent with the lectures given by the Apostles. There are clear lectures and lecture notes in Christianity as compared to the 7.

      It seems that Judaism have to fill in the gaps when it comes to the non Jew because there were no clear Divine laws or that there is a total break in the transmission of these laws. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  10. Jim says:

    Hi Sharon,

    In response to your comment here: https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61717 particularly this:

    “There were restrictions for Jews to associate with Gentiles at the time. Peter himself admitted that it is against Jewish law for a Jew to associate with or visit a gentile (Acts 10:28). This is not a matter of eating unkosher food –it is associating and visiting a gentile altogether! If the Jewish Christians are hesitant to do what Jesus commanded because of this law then is it fair to blame absence of oral tradition for the impasse? That is reason behind Peter’s vision –“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15) . Peter is called to reach out to the Cornelius despite the Jewish law prohibiting him to associate with a gentile –as they are, not as potential converts.”

    For the moment, let us accept the premise that Jews were disallowed from associating with non-Jews. In that case, it would be all the more necessary for Jesus to teach his disciples that they are to disobey this regulation. It could not take much foresight on his part to know that they would have difficulty overcoming something that had been so ingrained as part of their psyches. It would probably have been helpful, if he did not only teach them that the non-Jew is not unclean and that they may associate with them but if he did not equate a non-Jewish woman to a dog (Matthew 15). Such a statement only reinforces the idea that they should remain separate from gentiles. The stronger their aversion to associating with gentiles, the stronger should have been his teaching to counteract that notion and prepare them for their mission. Is it fair to blame an absence of an oral tradition for the impasse? I do not know about “fair,” but it is quite reasonable.

    But the premise is greatly overblown as well. Jews were not strictly prohibited from associating with non-Jews. Certainly, eating in the home of a non-Jew could be a problem, but according to Acts, non-Jews visited the synagogues. As noted earlier, Pharisees made converts according to Matthew 23. Moreover, throughout Tanach, positive interactions between Jews and non-Jews appear. A Tyrian king, Hiram, helped to build the first temple. It is a great exaggeration to say that Jews could not associate with non-Jews, and that this prohibition to associate would be a great barrier between Jewish believers and non-Jews.

    Two other brief comments:

    You write that Jewish believers in Jesus still had to keep the Torah. You also write that they worshipped a man as if he were God. An act of idolatry is a major violation of the Torah. If one is to keep the Torah, then one is not to worship the man, Jesus.

    Regarding your comments on the circumcision: First, your argument does not follow. After the gentiles were baptized with the holy spirit, Peter determined that they should be baptized with water. If your logic held, then one should have said that having the greater baptism, it was obvious that one does not need the lesser baptism. If he had said that, the same principle could possibly have been applied to circumcision. Possibly. I still would have doubts about that logic, because the relationship between one thing and the other is unclear. But, what he did say is that they could not be denied water baptism if they already had spiritual baptism. Under those terms, he might well have argued that circumcision should not be withheld from those who had received the spirit. Indeed, inasmuch as Christians argue that they have received the circumcision of the heart, the logic would indeed follow along these lines: Just as one who is spiritually baptized receives also the physical baptism, so also does one who has been spiritually circumcised receive physical circumcision.

    However, even if the argument were sound, the need for the argument suggests a lack of guidance in this arena. The consternation of the disciples and the need to settle this shows that Jesus could not have told them whether or not the gentile believers would need to convert to Judaism afterward.

    Jim

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Jim,

      I don’t see the prohibition to associate with a gentile as exaggerated. I think it is reasonable to see this as a reason why there is a barrier between the Jew and the non Jew , especially during the 1st century where Israel was under Roman rule. It was a period of political turmoil and unrest , there were many competing religious sects and many individuals were claiming to be Messiahs , capitalizing on Israel’s hope for deliverance from the Romans and G-d’s redemption . Hence there will be a greater barrier between Jew and Gentile , not only due to adherence to Jewish Law but also because of hatred for the Gentile rulers.

      It is true that Jesus forbade his apostles and disciples to preach to the Gentiles during his lifetime. However do not forget that the same Jesus also reached out to the marginalized in the Jewish community at that time. He ate with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:10-13) , something which was frowned upon by the religious establishment at that time . He had a conversation with the Samaritan woman. Jesus challenged the social conventions in Jewish society at that time . Hence I see the risen and exalted Jesus commanding the Apostles to preach to the nations as highly likely .After all Jesus has risen , he is exalted so it’s time to take it international.

      I have always wondered how can the earliest Jewish believers of Jesus keep the Torah and yet worship Jesus . However , according to Christian scholars such as Richard Bauckham and Larry Hurtado , they did just that and did not see any conflict between worshipping Jesus and adherence to the Torah. After all there are many ideas of the Messiah in Jewish tradition and one of those ideas is the Messiah having divine like qualities .

      Why is it necessary for the Gentile who receive the gift of the Holy Spirit , just as the Jewish believers to be circumcised? This is the same question asked by Peter in Acts 15:9-11. G-d does not discriminate between Jew and Gentile . G-d had purified the hearts of Gentiles –“ Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” If the Jewish Christian sees no need for a gentile believer to be circumcised, then why should you? Remember , Jesus commanded his disciples to teach all nations to obey “everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20)-Torah is not mentioned here.

      A point to ponder , when the Messiah of the Jewish Scriptures made his appearance , will all the surviving (Zechariah 14:16) and G-d fearing Gentiles become Jews and undergo circumcision? I don’t think so.

      • Dina says:

        If you don’t mind my jumping in, it is simply not true that Jews shunned interactions with gentiles. The Talmud records many such interactions, even stories of Romans asking rabbis theological questions! Furthermore, you see many such interactions in Josephus, without a hint that they were frowned upon. Jews also had business relationships with gentiles. You are getting your information about Jews from a skewed and biased document, Christian scripture, while ignoring all other historical evidence. (Forgive my bluntness!)

        Furthermore, religious outreach to the marginalized was never frowned upon. In fact, this is a tradition that goes back to the Hebrew prophets. Who do you think they were preaching to? To the Jews who were already observant? No, they were preaching to the idolaters, to the ones who had turned away from the Torah. They were preaching to the sinners.

        There is a great story in the Talmud about a rabbi who reached out to a bandit, to a highwayman! And he got him to study Torah, then married him off to his sister.

        Christian scripture has got it wrong, again. It was never frowned upon to reach out to the marginalized and bring them closer to God. Today we follow in this tradition with the kiruv movement, an outreach movement to bring secular Jews back into the fold.

        Also, while you have found your scholars who postulate that the early Jewish Christians worshiped Jesus as God, there are others who, examining the historical evidence, reject this claim. For example, the Ebionites, who were descendants of the early Jewish Christians, accepted Jesus as Messiah but not as God. They were deemed heretics by the Church and eventually were stamped out, but Eusebius recorded much of what we know about them.

        Observant Jews could never have found a way to harmonize worship of a human with Torah observance. The Torah itself repudiates such worship in the strongest terms.

        Finally, about circumcision. Circumcision is only required for people undergoing full conversion. Gentiles who are God fearing and wish to keep only the Seven Laws do not undergo circumcision. I don’t know too much about the discussion in Christian scripture, but I believe these gentiles under discussion were going to keep much more than the Seven, hence the argument over circumcision.

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi Dina,

          I will respond to your comment on the interaction between Jews and Gentiles. Again , I don’t think that prohibition to associate with the gentile as described in the book of Acts as a great exaggeration .

          I find that studying Jews and Judaism (the good and the bad) gives me further insight and understanding to what is going on in the New Testament. For example , I found that there are laws restricting association between Jew and Gentiles from my readings of Judaism. I also found that there are laws that are biased towards Gentiles . I have even quoted an example from Maimonide’s Law of Kings to you before – a gentile is executed even though he steals a penny but not a Jew . You may refer an article on the non Jew in Jewish Law here https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-non-jew-in-jewish-law/ . According to this article “Jewish law tries to separate Jews from gentiles, in order to prevent Jews from adopting idolatrous behaviors”.

          If this is the situation as codified in the Jewish tradition , imagine how it must be during 1st century AD? In my opinion , laws prohibiting or limiting interaction between Jews and Gentiles would have already been in existence at that time. Also , the 1st century was a politically turbulent time for Israel and it would have worsened the relationship between Jews and Gentiles.

          The author of Acts have described the situation of the early church honestly and without bias . He had “carefully investigated everything from the beginning” and decided to write an orderly account of the Gospel (Luke 1:3). Based on this and my understanding of Judaism , I don’t see the account in the book of Acts as being skewed or biased. There is some truth in these accounts.

          I came across an article in the Judaism’s Answer website “The Soul: Is there a difference between a Gentile and a Jewish Soul?” in which the link can be found herehttps://judaismsanswer.com/The%20Soul.htm . The author of this article is explaining the teaching of the Tanya that the Gentile’s soul is inferior to that of the Jew. He also explained that there is lesser reward for the repentance of the non Jew because the non Jew is not commanded to repent. Hence , I find there is truth in the vision of Peter described in Acts 10-“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” . The Gentile has always been perceived as having an impure or lesser soul in Jewish tradition.

          There is some truth to the New Testament . We should be honest and acknowledge these truths.

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, I read the article from the first link that you posted, and I think your presentation is one sided. The only interactions that were limited were those that could cause Jews to become unduly influenced toward idolatry. Hence, the kosher dietary laws prevent Jews and non-Jews from eating together, preventing the creation of a strong social bond that could lead to, among other things, intermarriage (another biblical prohibition).

            The laws of business are strictly and technically applicable only to promoting idol worship; all other business transactions are permitted.

            Friendly relations, casual conversations–all those are permitted. How else do you think synagogues in the first century were able to welcome gentile God fearers to their services?

            The very first example in that article is a story of Romans engaging with Jews on theological matters! The Talmud presents an argument from the Roman side that it sees as a legitimate question. How did you miss that?

            Given the barbaric behavior of the Romans–and later, the Christians–and both groups’ extreme mistreatment of the Jewish people, I see the Jews’ kindness in reciprocity as nothing less than astounding. Today, when oppressing Jews and engaging in barbaric acts (like leaving your baby on the mountainside to die because it isn’t a boy or because of some birth defect) are unacceptable, the Jews’ reluctance to permit certain interactions seems petty and arrogant. But you must take the historical context into consideration.

            Christian scripture focuses on certain minor restrictions and exaggerates them. I do not deny that some minor limitations were in place, but I reject the notion, based on solid historical evidence, that Jews shunned all interactions with their gentile neighbors.

            You make a grave error by citing only the evidence that supports your view and ignoring all the evidence that I have presented.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Dina,

            Let me make clear the background of my discussion with Jim in which you have some concerns. To recap , Jim sees the confusion and conflict in the early church on the ministry to non Jews as proof that there is no oral tradition given by Jesus to the disciples on this matter. I see these confusion and conflicts arise due to the existing mindset that the Jewish Christians already have about the non Jew from their Jewish upbringing and adherence to the Torah.

            I highlighted on the prohibition in the Jewish law for Jews to associate with or visit a gentile (Acts 10:28). You do not agree that Jews shunned interaction with the Gentile and you put forth some evidences as proof. I have provided two articles to show that there is some truth behind the prohibition and of Peter’s vision from the passage in the NT (New Testament).

            Your point was that Christian scriptures focus on some minor restrictions and exaggerate them . I understand from this that you do acknowledge that there are minor restrictions. You mentioned of kosher dietary laws preventing Jews and non Jews from eating together. I also pointed this out in my earlier comment to Jim .The conflict between Paul and Peter , described by Paul in Galatians 2 is due to Peter and Barnabas’s concerns on violation of kashrut laws when associating with non Jews. How is that an exaggeration?

            You pointed out that Gentile G-d fearers were welcome in the synagogue and there are no restrictions on friendly conversation between Jew and Gentile. There are passages in the NT which acknowledge the presence of Gentile G-d fearers in Jewish synagogues (Acts 13:26). So there seems to be no restriction for Gentile association with the Jew as long as the Gentile visits the synagogue . The Jewish believers accused Peter of going into the house of uncircumcised (Gentile) and eating with them (Acts 11:3).Obviously they were concerned that Peter may have violated kashrut laws . This is also consistent with the kosher dietary laws preventing Jews and non Jews from eating together which you have pointed out. How is that an exaggeration?

            The main question here is whether the conflicts and confusion in the early (Jewish Christian) church in reaching out to non Jews arise because Jesus did not instruct his Jewish believers to do so ? Or is it because the Jewish believers are concerned that reaching out to non Jews may affect their adherence to existing Jewish laws at the time? In my opinion , to blame this confusion on the lack of reliable oral transmission (Jesus to the Apostles) without considering the Jewish laws and customs at the time is too simplistic.

            You look into the article in the first link I posted and highlighted the story of the Romans engaging in a discussion with Jews , as described in the Talmud (Bava Kama 38a). There was a link to the Talmudic passage in that article . Did you read it? The discussion was about the liability that arise when the ox of a Jew gores the ox of a gentile and vice versa. If the Jew’s ox gores the Gentile’s ox , there is no liability . However if the Gentile’s ox gores the Jew’s ox , the Gentile has to make a full compensation. Why is this so? This is because “ He (G-d) arose and permitted [vehittir] their money to the Jewish people, so that in certain cases Jews are not liable for damage caused to gentiles”. Why? Because the Gentiles abandon the 7 laws , which most of us are not even aware of its existence in the first place. As a result , the gentile had violated the minimum commands that gives us the right to live .So the Jew is not liable when his ox gores an ox belonging to the Gentile. Is that fair?

            You were comparing the barbaric treatment of the Romans and Christians against the Jews with the kindness displayed by Jews . What the Romans and medieval Christian societies did to the Jews is despicable. However we must also acknowledge that there are some unfair elements in the Jewish law , be it in the Torah and in the Talmud which must be addressed. It is only by acknowledging the weaknesses in both sides-Gentile and Jew that we can build bridges of understanding.

            As a Gentile , I have done my part . Are you willing to do the same? If you are game about it how about reviewing the second article I linked in my previous comment and share your thoughts about that?

          • Dina says:

            Sharon,

            The word “fair” crops up a lot in your writing. You express your concern with the unfairness of certain rabbinic laws regarding Jewish-Gentile relations, but even more important, the unfairness of a revelation revealed only to a small nation, leaving everyone else out (in other words, it seems to me that the chosenness of the Jewish people troubles you).

            But fair has nothing to do with the truth. Truth is the only standard that is relevant. The question you should be asking is not, “is this fair” but “is this true.”

            That said, let us nevertheless talk about fairness.

            When my kids complain, “That’s not fair!” they usually mean, “I didn’t get what I want!” If you have more than one child, you will observe that the child who receives the coveted item rarely, if ever, says “That’s not fair!” on behalf of the other siblings who were left out. I am seeing something of that attitude in your writing.

            It takes more than a little bit of chutzpah to complain about the unfairness of some obscure rabbinic laws that have had zero negative impact on any gentiles throughout 100% of all of history, including those periods when Jews were sovereign in their land (for example, the reign of King Solomon) and in the same breath defend as superior, religions whose holy texts blatantly and literally demonize the Jewish people, which has produced horrific consequences throughout nearly 100% of their history for the Jewish people–including in some quarters up until the present day. You live in a country where Jews (the tiny handful that lives there) have to hide their identity for their own safety, for cryin’ out loud!

            Can you imagine for a moment being me, listening to you? Can you imagine how petty and arrogant these complaints can sound to a Jew? (Although, I hasten to add, I do not believe for a moment that you are either; your sensitivity in general is admirable.)

            If you want fairness, who got the better end of the deal, historically? The Chosen People, or the gentiles? Whose word meant nothing in a court of law for most of history? Which religion today does not permit the testimony of any witness except for the adherents of its religion?

            Having said all that, I will now proceed to agree with you that some of the rabbinic laws that govern Gentile-Jewish interactions are unfair. I, too, am uncomfortable with the concept of souls having different status (I’m not entirely sure it’s all that simple anyway). I find other laws to be profoundly unfair as well, such as the law pertaining to an agunah (a chained woman). I cannot understand the commandments of total genocide pertaining to the conquest of Canaan.

            I think the suffering of innocents is unfair. I think the suffering of animals is completely pointless because I do not understand what purpose it could possibly serve, being that animals have no souls and cannot attain peace in an afterlife.

            How do I reconcile all of this with belief in the Torah?

            I have found the evidence for the truth of the Torah so compelling that I am able to let go (at least a little bit) and figure that God knows what He’s doing. If I accept the Torah as true, then I accept that I will not be able to understand all of God’s plans and all of His reasons, not being God.

            I haven’t yet read the article on souls, but I think I covered a fair bit of ground here. You are satisfied that you have done your part. Do not grow complacent. Do not assume that you are the only intellectually honest person in the room. Let us debate in good faith, accepting that we all have our own biases and that we are all trying to seek the truth the best that we know how. Our work is far from done. Our work is never done. Because there is always a deeper truth to discover.

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, just a quick word on the exaggeration of Christian scripture of the prohibition of interaction with gentiles.

            You defended those verses, saying that they are not an exaggeration because they mention the dietary laws, which I myself had pointed to. I never said, however, that every single instance in Christian scripture discussing such interactions is an exaggeration. But there is one that you yourself cited, Acts 10:28: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile.”

            In one sense, you are correct. This is not an exaggeration, and I was wrong to characterize it as such. It is, in fact, an outright lie. There is no such law.

      • Jim says:

        Hi Sharon,

        I did not write that non-Jews are or will be required to undergo circumcision. But, the fact that the early Church had to argue about the question indicates that Jesus never told the disciples what was expected of non-Jewish believers.

        Jim

  11. Sharon S says:

    Hi Dina,

    Responding to your comment here https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61812

    You have raised a few points in your comment:
    1.I highlighted “fair” a lot in my writings.

    2.My concerns on the chosenness of the Jewish people and the fact that G-d chose to reveal His will to small nation

    3.That somehow it is unreasonable for me to complain on the unfairness of some obscure Rabbinic law that has zero impact to gentiles and at the same time defend Christianity and the Christian scriptures that demonize the Jewish people . You find these complaints petty and arrogant.
    (What do you mean by “ a little bit of chutzpah?)

    4.You mentioned of my country . Apparently there are a handful of Jews living there but they have to hide their identity.

    5.Despite (1) to (4) , you do agree that some of the Rabbinic laws that govern Jewish –Gentile interactions are unfair.

    6.You stress that the question I should be asking is not “is it fair” but “is it true”. The evidence that the Torah is true enables you to let go a bit of your concerns on these laws and figure out God knows what He’s doing.

    7.Your advice for me not to be complacent and to assume that I am the only intellectually honest person here. I may have my own biases and that we are all trying to seek the truth.

    Let me start by saying that you are right- I do have strong concerns on the chosenness of the Jewish people and the fact that G-d chose to reveal His Will to a small nation instead of to all mankind . Why ? Because I believe that there must there must be a greater purpose behind this in which the ultimate aim is to bless the world (Genesis 22:18) . Abraham , your ancestor chose to leave idolatry and to follow the one true G-d. According to Rabbinic tradition , he called many people to abandon idolatry during his lifetime . That is why G-d created the Jewish nation from him , as he will direct his children and descendants by “doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19).

    Your people are to be a blessing to the world just as the Aaronic priests are to the people of Israel. The priestly class is supposed to “teach your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel” (Deut 33:10) . This means the descendants of Aaron are supposed to teach Israel in addition to doing their priestly duties in the temple. One article I read in the Chabad website states “Just as the Cohanim bond the Jewish people to G‑d, so the Jews, as a Kingdom of Priests, bond the whole world to G‑d.”

    I had enquired on this purpose with Rabbi Blumenthal , in this blog and in private e-mail conversations as well as with you . We have had a lengthy conversation on this matter in the discussion thread for an article titled “Sufficient”. Unfortunately the feedback received gives me the impression that the “Jewish God” is a tribal deity who is only interested in the affairs and the ultimate redemption of the Jewish people. Please look back at our discussions in “Sufficient” and please correct me if my understanding is wrong.

    I asked again this question recently to Rabbi Blumenthal –“what is G-d’s plan ? Is this plan for Israel only or for the world?” The answer –“God’s plan is for the benefit of all mankind – Isaiah 56:7” –That’s all? What about the verses in Genesis? What about Abraham’s legacy?

    You find my questioning some obscure Rabbinic law as “petty and arrogant”. Are you saying that I do not have the right to complain on the unfairness of Jewish law just because the Jewish people had suffered at the hands of Gentiles? Are you using the suffering of your people as a gag order for me not to question these things? Is it “right and just” on your part to question my concerns on these things?

    I live in an anti-Semitic country and I did have some hostility to the Jewish people in the past . I remember sitting in a restaurant at a hotel in northern Israel during a trip there a few years back and speaking ill of the Jewish people to an acquaintance even though I hardly interacted with them during my stay. My perception of Jewish people went from one extreme , that of hostility to the other extreme-unrealistic adulation , similar to like a pendulum swinging from one end to the other when I come learn of what your people went through and the truths of the Jewish scriptures.

    The conversations in this blog for the past two years are a testament to my perception of your people. In fact I was accused of being biased for the Jewish people in my comments at one point in time. Where were your criticisms then? You were praising me and confirming what I have written to the critics of Jews and Judaism in this blog .Why is it only now you are implying that I might be biased? Is it because I am highlighting criticisms of Jews and Judaism that you find “petty and arrogant”?

    I have stated it before and I will state my challenge again. As a Gentile , I have done my part with clear conscience. My comments in this blog , from the time I followed it till today is a testimony of that . Are you willing to do the same?

    I do appreciate that you acknowledge the unfairness found in Jewish Law . At least this is the first step in removing our biases so that we can come to the truth .

    • Dina says:

      Sharon,

      I see that you are very offended, and I realize that is because you completely did not understand what I wrote. I thought I was clear, but I see I need to clarify further.

      I must emphasize, before anything else, that I’m not giving you any gag orders or trying to silence you or trying to suppress your questioning, not at all. If you had only questioned the unfairness of certain rabbinic edicts, that would have been fine. It was only your questioning of this unfairness in light of your continuing defense as superior the religions whose texts are so much more blatantly and unfair and even harmful. The complaints only sound petty and arrogant because of the hypocrisy of claiming superiority for religions that are so much worse in their laws and rhetoric. I’m sorry for being so blunt.

      If you weren’t defending these religions I would have nothing to say.

      Well, I would have one thing to say, and that is to reiterate my point that despite these laws, no gentile was ever negatively impacted by them, nor have they caused Jews to treat gentiles with disrespect or cruelty. Since these laws have had no practical application or impact, ever, your questioning their fairness is really only theoretical. I think that is very significant.

      My comments on bias were a result of your implication that up until this point you have been doing your part but I have not put aside my own bias to explore the truth in an intellectually honest manner. Perhaps you did not mean to imply this, but you made a similar comment to Jim, not too long ago, implying something similar. I do not think this helps advance the cause of truth, so I will say no more on the matter.

      I did answer your question on unfairness. The answer is that I have no answer. I acknowledge the unfairness and accept that this is God’s will. I don’t know what else to say.

      Sharon, sometimes we will sharply disagree and sometimes we will be in perfect agreement. Just because I liked some things you wrote doesn’t mean that I will always agree with what you say. I have the same sort of relationship with Con. Sometimes I praise his posts to the skies, sometimes I tell him his posts are off the wall. That is just how it is with people who are wrestling with the truth. I hope you can accept that, and I hope that you understand that while my words may sometimes be sharp, my intention is never to offend.

      • Sharon S says:

        Hi Dina,

        You stated that I questioned the unfairness in the Jewish law in light of my defending the superiority of the New Testament (NT) which is more unfair and harmful to the Jewish people. The unfairness of the Jewish law does not affect the Gentile as how the NT have affected the Jew.

        However you have misunderstood me . I stated “There is some truth to the New Testament . We should be honest and acknowledge these truths.” This does not mean that I defend the superiority of the New Testament. I am merely saying that the NT provide a picture on the situation of Jewish society during the 1st century AD . I have pointed out that there are passages in the NT which acknowledge the presence of Gentile G-d fearers in Jewish synagogues (Acts 13:26). However there are no restriction as long as the Gentile visits the Jewish synagogue. Similarly there are verses indicating adherence to the kosher dietary laws which prevents Jews and non Jews from eating together. In my opinion these truths in should be acknowledged irrespective of where it is found (NT or otherwise)

        I do understand the texts contained in both the NT and the Quran is the cause of Jewish suffering and persecution . Personally , I find certain texts of the Muslim Scriptures misrepresents Christians and this is the cause behind the killing of innocent Christians . However I also believe that the texts of Islam teaches of monotheism- believe in the One G-d. Do I deny this fundamental truth contained in Islam just because what some of its followers had done to my corelligionists? No. Does this mean that I am asserting the superiority of Islam ?No

        You stated that no Gentile was negatively impacted by these laws. In response I would partially agree with you since there was no Jewish government these past 2 millenia. However please bear in mind that the state of Israel was only established around 70 years ago.There is a possibillity that there may be discrimination to the non Jew in modern Israeli societies due to the influence of these laws in the Jewish leadership, similar to discrimination faced by religious minorities in Christian and Muslim governments in history up till today. As an example, I come across a video of a group of Rabbis endorsing a controversial book “Torat Hamelech” which advocates the killing of non Jewish children. The Rabbi who authored the book was investigated by the local police. Yet he has many supporters. My question is not theoretical . If one is honest , there are unfair elements in Judaism , similar to Christianity and Islam which should be addressed.

        You stated that you have no answer to the unfairness in Jewish law . You acknowledge the unfairness and that it is part of G-d’s will.You found the evidence for the truth of the Torah so compelling that you are willing to let go a bit. I would disagree with this reasoning. Why the need to abandon these questions even though the Torah is true? I think our different responses is due to our different backgrounds .I am born into a religious tradition that is not proven to be true . I had to question my beliefs very early on in life . The journey of questioning does not stop for me , even though I know the Torah to be true.You are born into a religious tradition which is proven to be true . Hence you may not sense the need to question as much.

        In summary , acknowledging certain truths in Scriptures that are harmful does not mean that I assert their superiority. So I don’t understand why you see my questioning of the unfair elements in Judaism as petty or arrogant. It is true that these elements do not negatively impact the Gentile as how the laws in Muslim and Christians impact the Jew. However we have to acknowledge that the Jewish people had no government the past two millenia . These laws may have an impact on the non Jewish societies in Israel today which is headed by the Jewish leadership and the Rabbinate as an influential body.More importantly we have to acknowledge that there are unfair elements in Judaism , similar to Christianity and Islam . The truth of the religion should not stop us from questioning and addressing these unfair elements.

        We have had lengthy conversations here so I am used to your straight forward and sometimes blunt manner . I am not offended as much . Like you I am also wrestling with grasping these truths .However it should not be at the expense of denying the existence of any truths in other religious traditions no matter how false they may be.

        The message that I get from you is if the religious tradition cause tremendous suffering to the Jewish people then there is no truth whatsoever to be found from it . This is the same message that I get from Jim .In addition there is no point to discuss the unfair elements in Judaism because it does not affect the Gentile as much or that the truth of the Torah trumps these concerns. I strongly disagree with that.

        • Jim says:

          Sharon,

          You wrote:

          “The message that I get from you is if the religious tradition cause tremendous suffering to the Jewish people then there is no truth whatsoever to be found from it . This is the same message that I get from Jim .In addition there is no point to discuss the unfair elements in Judaism because it does not affect the Gentile as much or that the truth of the Torah trumps these concerns. I strongly disagree with that.”

          That is a distortion of what I have written. And, though I do not like to “speak” for Dina, it is a distortion of what she has written as well.

          Nor do I see any unfair elements in Judaism. Many of the elements that you believe to be unfair come from you studying sources that you do not understand. You do not have the background to understand them.

          Jim

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Jim,

            My apologies if I have misunderstood your intent. I did highlight to you that there are truths and positive values in Christianity. You responded by describing Christianity as a muffin laced with rat poison .What message do you want me to learn from this?

            What background is required for one to assess if the elements in Judaism are unfair? I notice that this is the sort of reply I receive when I highlighted the unfair elements of any religion by the adherents of that religion.

            In return I would ask you the same thing- what background do you have to conclude that there is no reliable oral tradition in Christianity since you come from a background that does not believe in oral tradition at all in the first place?

            Why haven’t you or any Jew reading in responded by explaining about the unfair elements in Judaism?Dina only provided excuses. Your statement that I have no background gives me an impression that it is not my place to ask this questions!

            So , it is fine for even a fool to discredit Christianity but in order to critique Judaism one should have a certain background? Talk about double standards!

            I hope that you or any Jew reading in will respond to my comment on the various “versions” of the 7 laws by the different Rabbis/schools .

            Once again, I would appreciate an informative response to my queries on the 7 laws and unfair elements of Judaism -not excuses. Thank you

          • Jim says:

            Sharon,

            When I write that you study sources you do not understand, I do not mean to offend. However, Gemara is not a book one can just pick up and read. You have no training in the material. It is written in a highly abstruse manner, meant to be learned with a teacher. When you write that such-and-such attitude or law is unfair, it is not your sense of fairness I question, but whether or not that is the actual attitude or law. It is highly unlikely that you even know what questions are being asked in the Gemara, and reading the material will not yield answers without difficult study. (By the way, I am also unqualified to read Gemara and come to conclusions.)

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            I would also like to add, the Gemara is deliberately written in that abstruse manner so that it can only be understood via the chain of transmission, i.e. teacher to student and father to son. I am not well versed in the Talmud, so I find it difficult to comment on the matters of Jewish law that Sharon raises. I, too, lack the requisite background to expound on these matters.

            I believe that this type of textual study is unique to Judaism.

          • Jim says:

            Sharon,

            In response to this paragraph:

            “My apologies if I have misunderstood your intent. I did highlight to you that there are truths and positive values in Christianity. You responded by describing Christianity as a muffin laced with rat poison. What message do you want me to learn from this?”

            Is that all I said? I do not think so, but I do not know where the original comment is. However, I believe that I acknowledged that Christianity contains some elements of the truth. I believe I even said that all false religions contain some elements of truth, and that if they did not, they would be unlikely to appeal to anyone. But it is the lies of which one must beware.

            This situation reminds me of a story:

            A few years back, an automobile had to be recalled. A consumer protection agency put out a press release telling people that the automobile had a problem with the fuel tank, such that, when it was hit from behind—and not even particularly hard—the vehicle went up in flames and those in the car were immolated. This had occurred 23 times already in the first month since the release of the car.

            A reporter who was covering the press release, and who was a fan of the company that produced the faulty model, found herself annoyed at the one-sided coverage.

            “Why,” she asked the consumer protection agency spokesperson,” do focus only on the negative? This car has a great engine, a highly-rated braking system, and terrific fuel economy. Why don’t you talk about any of those things?”

            He answered, “When one is warning the public of a danger, he does not at the same time write ad copy for the dangerous product.”

            Jim

          • Jim says:

            Sharon,

            You write: “So , it is fine for even a fool to discredit Christianity but in order to critique Judaism one should have a certain background? Talk about double standards!”

            It will be difficult to hear what I am saying if you keep putting words in my mouth.

            Jim

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Jim,

            Thank you for the clarification.

            I do not intend to question Jewish tradition. I do appreciate the tradition and the effort of the Jewish people in preserving them , despite intense persecution.

            In addition , my queries are only directed to matters pertaining to Gentiles in Jewish tradition. The gentile is allowed , even encouraged to learn these things.

            I have shared these queries with the teachers of Judaism . Unfortunately their replies give me the impression that the 7 may not be divinely revealed.

            The aspects of Jewish law which seems unfair to the Gentile needs to be clarified, which is why I ask them here. Unfortunately I only get excuses in response.

            I understand that this is counter missionary blog , dedicated to refute missionary propaganda- by highlighting the strengths of Judaism. But what is the strengths of Judaism? What is G-d’s plan? Is He a tribal deity or the Creator of the Universe? How is He potrayed by the Jewish people , His designated ambassadors? The picture that I get is less than impressive. The lack of response to these queries by G-d’s very ambassadors are very telling

            Are you implying I am not supposed to ask these questions at all?

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, you wrote “The picture that I get is less than impressive. The lack of response to these queries by G-d’s very ambassadors are very telling.”

            Jim and I have taken precious hours of our time to post long and detailed responses to your questions. What lack of response are you referring to?

            If you are not impressed by our answers, would you consider the possibility that this says more about you than about us?

            Then you write, “Are you implying I am not supposed to ask these questions at all?” which is, frankly, crazy, given the thousands of words we have written in response to your questions and given the fact that you haven’t been blocked from this website and given the fact that you keep asking.

            Are you just in a bad mood, or what??????!!!!!!!!!

          • Dina says:

            FYI, I just posted a comment of nearly 1500 words. Just sayin!

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Jim,

            Responding to your comment here https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61856

            Your parable of the blueberry muffins which contains rat poison can be found at the following here https://judaismresources.net/2014/07/30/turning-on-a-dime/#comment-47578

            You wrote:

            “It is those elements within Christianity that are true or beautiful that make it most dangerous. It is true of all successful false religions that they contain universally recognized truths and beautiful thoughts. It would be impossible for them to be successful otherwise. Few people are so depraved as to be moved to chase after the absolutely false or the absolutely disgusting. The seductive appeal of false religions is in their apparent sublimity and their propagation of truths that are universally recognized. But it is just those good elements which make the evil elements palatable.”

            I would also like to comment on your story . As a reporter , my reply to be spokesperson would be as follows:
            a.There is a problem with the automobile’s fuel tank that caused the recall and not on the whole product.
            b.The automobile company have publicly acknowledged this defect and apologized to their consumers . Why didn’t the agency include this in their press release? Surely the public should hear both sides of the story?
            c.The automobile company have also come up with an online /print campaign to inform the customers of this defect and to inform them to get the fuel tank changed at its service centers free of charge . Why did you not put this in your press release? We should inform those who are not aware soonest possible for their own safety!

            The consumer protection agency is being one sided and unfair on its assessment of the product and the company which produces the product. It is also compromising on consumer safety by not informing them that they can get the faulty fuel tank changed and where they could get them changed.

            By putting up these two stories (the muffin and the recalled automobile) you have shown to me that you are indeed biased and one sided in your assessment of Christianity .

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Dina,

            Replying to your comment here https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61861

            I would like to recall one of your comments to me which can be found here:
            https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-42984

            ““Here is something to ponder. The Torah contains 613 commandments, laws which govern our lives from what we eat to when to work to how to conduct our business to how how to treat the poor–and so on and so forth. Some of these laws are unbelievably detailed. Yet in this whole book of instruction, God did not see fit to command us to teach the gentiles. Why do you suppose that is? And should we simply ignore that glaring omission? Should we assume this was an oversight on God’s part?”

            This comment was from a few months back . I am not sure if you have changed or position on this . If you have then I take it back.

            Also you stated “given the fact that you haven’t been blocked from this website and given the fact that you keep asking.” . Why do you mention blocking of all things ? Are my questions offending Jewish sensitivities here? Is there some sort of unwritten rule that I should be aware of?

            Or are you implying that I am not supposed to ask these questions at all?

            Please bear in mind that I have also put in many hours in these conversations . I appreciate yours and Jim’s dialogue and the effort taken to address these queries. I will look into your 1,500 word comment and revert to you if there are any queries/concerns.

          • Dina says:

            Sharon,

            I don’t know how you managed to so completely misunderstand me. Let me be very clear. No one wants to block you. No one is offended by your questions (your slights, maybe, but not your questions).

            Ask away. Keep asking. This is very important.

            Now allow me to clarify.

            You have several times asked us if we are implying that you shouldn’t ask questions. I thought this was a strange question to ask because, one, no one ever implied any such thing, and, two, no one ever considered requesting that you be blocked. Do you see the difference?

            My goodness, Sharon, I know you didn’t mean it, but I’m shocked by the way you misconstrued my words.

            Please forgive me for calling you out on this, but it’s unhelpful to keep berating us for being unimpressive ambassadors and extremely biased or dismissing our answers as mere excuses or complaining that we are guilt tripping you. It’s just not very nice! It would be better if you refrained from personal attacks and instead pointed out the flaws in our reasoning. That takes longer than venting but it is so much more productive. I see that you did this when you explained to Jim why you find his parables to be one-sided and biased. Although I did not understand what you wrote there, that is exactly what I mean by pointing out flaws in reasoning rather than flinging accusations. So although I didn’t get it, I appreciated it.

            It’s worth reading a comment two or more times to make sure you understand it before responding. I rarely read a comment only once, because I learned that when I read it only once I often miss things.

            One more thing. If you think that I am too biased, too unimpressive, and too invested in making excuses, and therefore my dialogue with you is no longer useful, let me know and I will bow out of the conversation. As long as you think I have something of value to add, I will be happy to continue this conversation.

            P.S. When I discuss the persecution of the Jewish people, it’s because I believe it is relevant to a specific point that I am trying to make. I do not ever use it as cudgel to guilt you into a certain response, God forbid. That would be extremely bizarre, especially, seeing as you have had nothing to do with it.

            I do hope this clears the air at least somewhat!

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, you asked if I still stand by a comment I wrote a while back.

            Here is something to ponder. The Torah contains 613 commandments, laws which govern our lives from what we eat to when to work to how to conduct our business to how how to treat the poor–and so on and so forth. Some of these laws are unbelievably detailed. Yet in this whole book of instruction, God did not see fit to command us to teach the gentiles. Why do you suppose that is? And should we simply ignore that glaring omission? Should we assume this was an oversight on God’s part?

            Yes, I still stand by this comment. We are not commanded to actively proselytize. I do believe that I explained that, due to the general dislike of the Jewish people, actively trying to recruit non-Jews to our cause would end up backfiring, certainly creating a backlash in the form of a wave of anti-Semitism. With anti-Semitism rising we are well advised to keep a low profile.

            I know you think this is cowardly. But in Leviticus 18:5 we are told that the one who keeps God’s laws and statutes will live by them. Jews have traditionally understood this verse to mean that we are meant to live by them, not die by them. If any law will cause us to lose life or limb, we transgress that law to preserve life. For example, we must violate the Sabbath to rush someone to the hospital who is in need of immediate medical attention. We must eat non-kosher food if no kosher food is available and we will otherwise starve to death. We must not stick out our neck to proselytize to unfriendly gentiles (especially since, unlike the two previous examples, we aren’t even commanded to do so).

            Honestly, Sharon, if God wanted us to teach the nations, don’t you think He would have made sure to mention it at least once?

            That said, since there is no commandment for or against, it’s sort of open to interpretation. While most rabbis traditionally discouraged it, there are some rabbis today who actively reach out to gentiles and believe that is their mission. I don’t have a problem with that. I also believe that kindness and civility require me to respond to a non-Jew who approaches me with sincere questions.

            I hope that clarifies.

          • LarryB says:

            Sharon S,
            Back on
            April 16, 2019 at 10:37 am
            ………You wrote
            Hi LarryB,
            My answer -if I want to learn the Torah then I will go to the Jew.
            Maybe I asked the wrong question?

            ….You have written these questions along with a fairly new one “is Hashem a tribal deity.” Only You, can answer that one, because only you will accept/reject the response to it.
            “I understand that this is counter missionary blog , dedicated to refute missionary propaganda- by highlighting the strengths of Judaism. But what is the strengths of Judaism? What is G-d’s plan? Is He a tribal deity or the Creator of the Universe? How is He potrayed by the Jewish people , His designated ambassadors? The picture that I get is less than impressive. The lack of response to these queries by G-d’s very ambassadors are very telling.”

            I find it interesting this is not the first time you have complained with most of these questions. Since your not happy with the responses, why do you continue asking the same ones. If you berate people enough will they shape up to your expectations? Will you finally get the answers your happy with? If this blogs Jewish designated ambassadors aren’t impressive enough for you, why don’t you move along? Or do you simply get a lift by putting others down?

          • Jim says:

            Hi Sharon,

            I cannot understand your extension of the metaphor, regarding the automobile recall. You have the manufacturer replacing the faulty system. However, this cannot apply to Christianity.

            Christianity is, of course, not monolithic, but broadly speaking, it contains errors of the various types. It teaches that God is unable to forgive the repentant without someone else absorbing the punishment. It teaches a God that punishes the innocent. It teaches its followers to steal that which was not entrusted to them and the misrepresent it in order to substantiate their own beliefs—i.e. the Torah. It teaches people that they cannot approach God, except through a man and that anyone who does not believe in that man is to suffer eternal torment. It teaches that HaShem’s holy Torah, a Tree of Life, is a curse, the main function of which is to show one that he cannot hope to please God through obedience.

            It teaches idolatry. For a moment, I would like to forget whether or not idolatry is prohibited under the Seven Laws. Please, if you will, put that from your mind. Reason alone tells one that it is unjust to demand the worship of a thing not worthy of that worship. It is unreasonable for one to bow down to a stick or a rock and proclaim it to be his god—or a man. To embrace idolatry is to embrace falsehood and injustice. To demand idolatry of others is to force upon them falsehood and injustice.

            Christianity has not replaced its faulty doctrines. It continues, a faulty religion, offering deception as we see in the world around us.

            Jim

          • Jim says:

            Hi Sharon,

            I have been afraid to comment on your diagnosis of my bias for fear of appearing defensive. But, what I am about to write has nothing to do with me trying to refute your contention. I want only to speak to the nature of dialogue.

            When we address people rather than arguments, we effectively end communication. As long as one can say, “Ah, she only says this, because she is…” then we effectively stop listening to other people. The reasons given for a conclusion become irrelevant, because we grant ourselves permission to assume we know the real reasons others think such-and-such. All stated arguments are mere dressing, a mask covering up their true reason. We need no longer consider seriously what they say. Argument is ended. The pursuit of truth is ended.

            Jim

        • Dina says:

          Sharon, I am responding to this comment: https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61827

          I would like to address the following points from this comment:

          1. You claim that I misunderstood you. You did not assert that Christianity and Islam are superior to Judaism. You are simply looking at what is true in Christian scripture and questioning Jewish observance based on your reading.

          2. You continue to assert the truth of Christian scripture’s claim that Jews are not allowed to visit a gentile but can only welcome him in the synagogue.

          3. Your assumption that if the Jews had power then the laws governing relations between Jews and non-Jews would negatively impact gentiles. Your assumption that Israel practices discrimination against minorities, which leads to your assumption that rabbinic law is the influencer behind this. Your raising the crackpot book “Torat Hamelech.”

          4. The need to continue to question the apparent unfairness of some rabbinic laws regarding gentiles.

          To begin with, you now say that you do not defend Christianity and Islam as superior to Judaism. Then what am I to make of this:

          From your comment to me that was resent two days ago:

          https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-43980

          The teachings of Islam & Christianity shows the Deity as actively reaching out and guiding all humanity to achieve His purposes…To me Judaism is a totally different belief system altogether. Its purposes seem to be very particular in nature…Yes , I am bothered that those who do not believe may be condemned. However I am also bothered by the fact that man is allowed to live in ignorance…Islam and Christianity , as I mentioned , repackages these commands so that it will be applicable to all of humanity.

          Here you seem to be clearly asserting the superiority of these religions over Judaism. Do you still stand by these statements?

          If you do not, then I take back what I said about the pettiness of your complaints. But if you do, then I cannot help but think it strange to focus on an idea that has no real-life consequences while defending religions whose ideas do have such consequences.

          As for your assertion, from Acts, that Jews are not allowed to interact with gentiles except in the case of gentiles visiting the synagogues, if you want to believe the lies peddled by Christian scripture, I can’t do anything about it. It is simply not true. Acts 10:28 is a bald-faced lie. Christian scripture does not constitute Jewish halacha. I challenge you to find me the Jewish law from the Torah that forbids interaction with gentiles. I assure you that you will not find such a law, but you can try, if you wish.

          Your assumption that the country of Israel engages in discrimination of its minorities (any more so than any Western democracy?) is based on propaganda by Israel haters. Have you ever visited Israel? Have you witnessed for yourself discriminatory practices? What is your basis for this assumption?

          From https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/debunking-25-left-wing-and-arab-myths-from-a-left-wing-arab-perspective/

          Israeli laws and police practices do not give preference to any race. All ethnicities, including Arabs, are treated equally. Freedom of religion is also guaranteed and strictly enforced, and so is protection of holy sites of all religions. One proof that Israel values diversity is its fast growing Muslim population. The only preference given to Jews is that Jews have an unlimited right of return to Israel, under the Law of Return, which is understandable considering that one of the reasons Israel exists is to be a haven for Jews who are persecuted elsewhere. Any of many Muslim and Christian countries, some of which are very rich, could provide such a law for Muslims or Christians if they so wished, but none of them do. Israel should be praised by leftists like me for ignoring race, gender, level of education, and economic background in order to accept and support any Jews who wish to return to Israel.

          Israel also guarantees freedom of assembly, movement, and voting to all citizens, which include Arabs. There are a dozen Arabs in the Knesset (Parliament) and an Arab judge of the Supreme Court. Further, Arabs are very well represented in Israeli universities, both among students and staff. As a left-wing Arab who knows the level of bigotry and racism that exists in the Arab world, Israel is a breath of fresh air. I want the same for us!

          I must say, Sharon, I am disturbed by this assumption of yours.

          I am also disturbed by your assumption that if the Jews had power, they would use it to oppress. I have pointed out (but perhaps you missed it), that Jews had plenty of opportunity to use and abuse those laws you mentioned. Jews were sovereign in their own land for about a thousand years, give or take a few centuries. You know, that’s a long time! And Jews have never been shy about recording their own wrongdoings. Surely if those laws had been used against gentiles, there would be at least one recorded instance. But there are zero instances. Why does this mean nothing to you?

          Interestingly, when Israel gained its independence, Arabs worried that now that the Jews had power, they would finally retaliate for centuries of oppression. Why do you not see it as remarkable that they did not? Why instead do you assume the worst of us–even when all the evidence is against it?

          Sharon, I was raised in an Orthodox Jewish community and I live in an Orthodox Jewish community. When there is any momentous news that affects Jews or news of internal controversy, you can be sure I will hear of it. But I never heard of this Torat Emet until you mentioned it. Does that tell you something? It should.

          I did some superficial digging, and I discovered that the two most prominent rabbis of the time, HaRav Ovadia Yosef zt”l and HaRav Shalom Yosef Elyashiv zt”l, who have almost pope-like status in the Orthodox Jewish world, strongly opposed the publication of this book. I also learned that the Israeli security forces and police investigated the authors (but ultimately did not indict them for lack of evidence) for incitement to terror. And yet. And yet. I still never heard about this until now.

          It should be obvious why. It should be obvious that I never heard about this because this was such a fringe book by such fringe rabbis that the Jewish community did not even take it seriously enough to have a conversation about it.

          How are you even finding this stuff? You must surely be aware that there are crackpots in every society. It is intellectually dishonest to look for the craziest elements in a society and use that to prove something about that society.

          You question the unfairness of certain Jewish laws. I presented to you other laws that I find unfair (for some reason those don’t seem to bother you as much). You do not find my answer satisfactory. I’m all for questioning, so go ahead and question. But what is the point, really? What kind of answer will satisfy you?

          You believe the Torah is true, but you will not accept elements such as the oral tradition and rabbinic law. This makes no sense to me. You believe the Torah, but you do not believe the people that God entrusted the Torah to. You do not believe the people God appointed to be His witnesses (I am not talking about me personally, but about the specific concerns you highlighted regarding Jewish law). And thus, you compare the unfairness of Judaism to the unfairness of other religions, as if we can tease out and reform the parts we don’t like. It doesn’t work that way. The Torah is either true or it is not true. If it is true, then the testimony of its witness is true as well. If the truth is unpleasant, so be it. But if it’s the truth, it cannot be changed.

          For example, it is not fair that men are bigger and stronger than women. It is not fair that women have to be afraid to walk alone outside late in the evening and men rarely if ever have to entertain such fear. But it’s too bad, isn’t it? We can’t change that.

          I believe the Torah is true. That is why I accept the parts that to me are impossible to understand. I believe in a loving, personal God. That is why I accept that I cannot understand the suffering of innocents and animal suffering.

          To you, this looks like excuses (“Dina only provided excuses,” you wrote to Jim). To me, this is the truth of the matter.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Dina,

            I am responding to your comment here https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61860

            You raised quite a few points in the above comment:
            1.You quoted a comment of mine made a few months back in which I contrasted the teachings of Islam & Christianity on one hand with Judaism on the other and asked if I still stand by them.
            2.That Acts 10:28 is a lie and you challenged me to find one law from the Torah, which forbids interaction with Gentiles.
            3.Have I visited Israel and witnessed discriminatory practices there
            4.That “Torat Hamelech”/ Torat Emet is a fringe book and is not endorsed by prominent Rabbis.
            5.That I find your answers on the unfairness of Jewish law as not satisfactory.
            6.That I believe the Torah but I do not believe the people to whom it is entrusted to.
            7.That the Torah is either true or it is not true. If it is true, then the testimony of its witness is true as well. If the truth is unpleasant, so be it, but it can’t be changed.

            Point #1 -I still stand by those comments that you quoted. That does not mean that I assert superiority of Islam and Christianity over Judaism. I was just explaining the facts- Islam & Christianity shows the Deity as reaching out to humanity hence these scriptures of these two religions are directed to all humanity. Judaism is different in that the Torah is addressed to Israel and it seems to follow at particularistic approach .

            You can just take any passage from the Christian Scriptures or from the Quran. These scriptures are directed to a wider audience than the Torah. This is a fact. Do you want me to deny this fact just to prove to you that I don’t view Islam & Christianity as superior?

            Point #2 -I have not come across any law which forbids Jew & Gentile interaction in the Torah. I accept Acts 10:28 may not be true. However I still stand by my argument that the conflict in Galatians 2 is influenced by adherence to Kosher laws which prevents Jew and non Jew from eating together . In addition , Peter was questioned by the Jewish Christians for going into the house of uncircumcised men and eating with them (Acts 11:3). These incidences in the Christian scriptures shows that these laws are in existence at that time. The Jewish believers follow these laws closely and that following these laws puts them in a sort of difficulty when it comes to reaching out to non Jews.

            Point #3 -I shared with you that I actually visited Israel before . I visited both Israel and the Palestinian Territories-PA (the West Bank). We were able to pass through the checkpoints without much difficulty. There is a vast difference in infrastructure (roads , condition of buildings, etc) between Israel and the West Bank , with the infrastructure in Israel being far more better than that of the PA. The Palestinians are very creative –they produced beautiful graffiti along the Israeli-west bank barrier wall. There were Arab peddlers everywhere and they literally force us to buy their wares when we get in or alight from the tour bus. Some have sob stories to tell –like they were forced out of their homes , but I can’t verify if it is true. I visited a church in northern Israel-Church of the Multiplication , which was partially burnt by a Jewish extremist a few months prior to our visit. Immigration is strict at the Allenby bridge and I noticed separate queues for Palestinians. There’s just a wide disparity between Israel and Palestinian Territories , but the West Bank was peaceful and safe during our stay there.

            Point #4 -Thank you for clarifying the position of the Jewish community regarding “Torat Hamelech”/ Torat Emet. I came across this book through an article here https://www.jewishideas.org/article/orthodoxy-and-gentile-problem written by a Dr. Menachem Keller. I accidently came across a video of a meeting held in Israel by those supporting the Rabbi who wrote this book. I will not know if any publications that I come across is fringe or mainstream. That is why I highlight this book to you for confirmation.

            Point #5 to #7-I am aware that there are many unfair laws on women in the Torah , including the one you mentioned –Agunah (chained woman). As a non Jew , I find it unfair but I am not supposed to highlight it because it is not my place to do so.

            There are unfair laws in Islam pertaining to women as well , such as “those that your right hand possess”. There seems to be a disparity in the inheritance law , where the woman is given a lesser or no inheritance from her husband’s estate should he pass away. Then there’s the hijab (head covering) . I ask a lot of questions to a Muslim friend I know and he tried his best to explain these concepts to me . I watched many videos by Muslims explaining the concept of women’s rights in Islam. In time I begin to appreciate the different roles and expectation for men and women in Islam.

            I hope that I can accept the unfair laws in Judaism and the reasoning behind them as how I did with Islamic law pertaining to women, but the unfair laws on the gentile is a different ballgame altogether. Take for example the liability that arise when the ox of a Jew gores the ox of a gentile and vice versa. The Jew is not liable when his ox gores the ox belonging to a gentile. However the gentile is fully liable if his ox gores the ox belonging to a Jew. The reasoning behind this is because the gentile violated the 7 laws which he/she is not aware of-the minimum standard that gives us the right to live . As a result , G-d has permitted our money to the Jew hence the Jew is not liable when his ox gores the ox belonging to a gentile.

            Is this reasoning derived from or consistent with the Torah ?

            The Torah clearly states that all man are created in G-d’s image (Genesis 1:27) , yet the non Jewish soul is regarded as inferior compared to the Jewish soul in the Tanya. Doesn’t this bother you? I certainly can’t move past this.

            It’s not that I don’t trust the people to whom the Torah is given . But do you expect me to shut up and just accept that my soul is inferior when it has no basis in the Torah? Fortunately I know one Rabbi who clearly reject this teaching . Dr. Menachem Keller , whose article I referenced above questions this concept as well.

            I hope to have make my position clear. Thank you.

          • Dina says:

            To correct an error, there are over 1.5 million Arabs living in Israel, not 1 million (just a tad over 20% of the population).

          • Dina says:

            My comment before this doesn’t show up in my computer…hmmm….

            It might have to wait till next week, sorry for the delay, Sharon! And thank you for your thoughtful and measured response.

          • Dina says:

            Sharon,

            Responding to your comment https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61907

            I hear you on your point about the differing messages of Christianity and Islam versus Judaism. It seemed to me that you were asserting their superiority. However, you are not making a value judgment, just pointing out that, in your view, the messages of Christianity and Islam are universalistic while the message of Judaism is particularistic. I’ll grant you that, even while I disagree. I believe that the messages of Christianity and Islam are particularistic in that they condemn anyone who doesn’t accept their particular man, while Judaism holds both a particularistic message–the chosennes and mission of the Jewish people–and a universalistic message–the Seven Noahide Laws pertaining to all of mankind.

            It looks like we also resolved our disagreement on the misrepresentation of Jewish-Gentile interaction in Acts, since you concede that Acts might be lying about the prohibition for Jews to shun all interaction with Gentiles, and I agree that certain restrictions like the kosher laws do limit social interaction to a certain degree.

            I am baffled, however, by your response to my questioning whether you had witnessed discriminatory practices in Israel against Arabs. Your answer is puzzling, to say the least. Instead of describing how Israelis treat Arabs in their own land, you compared the state of infrastructure over land that Israel does not govern (the Palestinian territories) and land that Israel does govern (the state of Israel). You do realize that Israel handed over governance of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, so any problems with infrastructure and poverty lie with the PA, and the PA alone. One must ask, what is the PA doing with all the aid money it receives, including the large chunk that Israel donates?

            The same is true for Gaza. Israel withdrew completely from Gaza, leaving behind for the Palestinians the beautifully cultivated greenhouses so they could use them to export produce and jumpstart their economy. In return, the Palestinians wantonly destroyed the greenhouses, elected the terrorist group Hamas, and turned Gaza into a launching pad for rockets against Israel.

            See, for example, this article, which explains what happened.

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-moral-clarity-in-gaza/2014/07/17/0adabe0c-0de4-11e4-8c9a-923ecc0c7d23_story.html?utm_term=.a57e15cde10c

            More than 1.5 million Arabs live in Israel, constituting a bit over 20% of the population. Under Israeli law, Arabs are treated no differently than their Jewish compatriots. They attend Hebrew universities and are elected to the Knesset. They would not prefer to live anywhere else in the Middle East. On the other hand, the Gaza strip is Judenrein, and to the best of my knowledge, Israeli Jews who live in the West Bank live in separate settlements, not daring to mingle.

            I think it’s interesting that you raise an act of Jewish extremism. Very few acts of Jewish terror and/or arson have been committed in all of its 70-plus-year history, all by crazed individuals whose actions were instantly and widely condemned by all stripes of Israeli society, from the ultra-Orthodox right to the secular left. During the same period, countless acts of terror and/or arson have been committed by Palestinians, who are widely celebrated and rewarded–or if killed, are celebrated as martyrs and their families compensated.

            Israel has lived under constant fire since its inception, yet the world applies a double standard to Israel regarding her self-defense. Israel is roundly criticized by the international community for actions that any Western country would take with much greater severity, were they so attacked, while rogue states like Syria and Sudan, whose governments engage in genocidal activities (i.e. mass murder of their own citizens) do not elicit so much as a yawn.

            Therefore, I still stand by my original point that you are wrong to assume the worst of the Jews should they assume power, and to assume that today the Israelis abuse theirs.

            I still haven’t read the Tanya’s position on the soul (if you don’t mind reposting, that would be helpful). I do not think you should just shut up and accept anything that troubles you. The idea that gentiles have an inferior soul troubles me as well. Of course I get that you can’t move past that. I am too ignorant of this topic to give you a satisfactory answer, and I need to explore it more deeply so I can figure out what’s going on here.

            However, it is simply not true that gentiles have no need of repentance or that their repentance is worthless. Scripture attests to the very opposite in the Book of Jonah. Jonah was enjoined by God to proclaim to the people of Nineveh, a non-Jewish populace, to repent and avert punishment. The people of Nineveh repented, and God spared them. How much more clear does it get than that?

            There are a lot of Jews out there with a lot of different opinions, but if their opinion contradicts Scripture, you can be sure they are wrong.

            By the way, I don’t know anything about the ox-goring laws. But it doesn’t sound right to me. Extrapolating from the laws of theft, I have to assume that if it’s forbidden to steal from a non-Jew just as much as it’s forbidden to steal from a Jew, then why would this be different? The fact that there isn’t a single recorded instance of such a law carried out in all of Jewish history, especially during the long period after the conquest of Canaan when the Jews were sovereign in their land for about a millenium, does tell me that even if there were such a law (which I’m not convinced that there was), it was theoretical and not practical.

            But there is one more thing to consider. The Talmud records the discussions of pretty much all the rabbinic scholars of the time, even the opinions that were really out there! We do not follow a great many of these opinions (and certainly not their medical advice). I am not well versed enough in the Talmud to explain to you how teachers of the Talmud differentiate between mere opinion and established law, but this is generally established through the chain of transmission. If this whole ox-goring thing is recorded accurately, it may well have been the opinion of one rabbi, an opinion that was not accepted as established law at any time.

            I hope this helps!

          • Dina says:

            Short, 5-minute video on Israel. Worth watching.

          • Dina says:

            Another point, within the Jewish nation there also exists a hierarchy, with priests at the top, Levites in the middle, and ordinary Israelites at the bottom. And of course, the kind and the high priest are the creme de la creme.

            I’ll tell you this, I have never heard an Israelite complain that he’s not a Levite or Kohain or a Levite complain that he is not a Kohain. And yet I sort of see this as similar to Jews and non-Jews. Jews might have been chosen for a special mission, but that doesn’t make the non-Jew not beloved to God.

            Also, anyone who so desires can join the Jewish nation.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Dina,

            Responding to your comment here https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-62003

            I understand that we both have different understanding on the particularism and universalism of the three Abrahamic faiths . I accept your understanding as valid and hope that you will do the same with mine. Let’s close the discussion on the misrepresentation of Jewish-Gentile interaction in Acts as well.

            Let me make clear that I am only describing what I saw during my visit to Israel. I did not conclude that there is discrimination towards non Jews by these observations. Furthermore , I stated here https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61827 that “There is a POSSIBILITY that there may be discrimination to the non Jew in modern Israeli societies due to the influence of these laws in the Jewish leadership, similar to discrimination faced by religious minorities in Christian and Muslim governments in history up till today”.

            I don’t see Israel any differently compared to any other country in the world today. For example , I observed ,during my visit to a city in a neighboring country that the road and building conditions are not that good as compared to my country . A friend of mine , a local , asked me my opinion of the city. I replied that the infrastructure is not as good as my country. He accepted and acknowledged my observation . He was not angry about it.

            I have tried to understand the Israeli –Palestinian situation. I acknowledge that the Palestinians are also to be blamed for the predicament that they are in. There are countries that violated human rights and cause unnecessary suffering to its own citizens-China and Saudi Arabia among them. I am aware of that.

            I have checked on the arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication online and confirmed that Jewish extremists perpetrated it. The damage would have been severe, for the church was re-opened 20 months after the attacks. However the perpetrator , a Yinon Reuveni has just been acquitted by the Israeli courts . You can refer to the link here https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israeli-court-acquits-suspects-in-church-arson-case-1.7016454.

            However ,let me stress again that this is what I saw during my visit to Israel. Again , I don’t see Israel any differently compared to other countries. There are numerous arson attacks , desecration of statues and church bombings happening in the world, much worse than what is happening in Israel. I mentioned in a much earlier comment to you that the Basillica of the Annunciation in Northern Israel is the biggest church in the Middle East.

            I am just curious of one thing . If Judaism accepts all religions as valid then why did Jewish extremist perpetrate this attack in the first place? You are right in that my country is highly anti semitic , but there has never been an incident where a church is burnt by extremists here. I live in a close knit Catholic community and we will be the first to know if such incidents happened.

            The article on the Tanya can be found here https://judaismsanswer.com/The%20Soul.htm . I appreciate your opinion on the status of the non Jewish soul and that of the situation of the gentile goring the ox of the Jew and vice versa.

            I take note on your explanation on the Talmud. I will not know if any Talmudic passage that I come across is followed or not , that is why I point out these passages for confirmation.

            Don’t mind my writing this , it seems that I am treading on eggshells when we discuss matters of antisemitism , state of Israel and the Palestinians.

            I just have this question to ask of you –How do you want me (and the world) to see Israel and the Jewish people ? Do you want me to see Israel as the same as any other country in this world? Or do you want me to regard Israel and the Jewish people at a higher standard compared to other nations-since G-d has called this nation to holiness? Please let me know your expectation.

            Thank you.

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, a couple of things.

            Regarding the burning of the church, it is not clear at all that it was an act of Jewish extremism. Thank you for linking that article, which makes this point. The Jewish kids who were arrested were later acquitted because their confessions were obtained under torture, and that is all the evidence that apparently was presented in this case. It could have been anyone else, for all we know.

            But even if it were an act committed by Jews, your question is unfair. Some crazy person sets fire to something, it’s neither the fault of the religion nor the fault of the general society. In my country, which is one of the most tolerant countries on earth–if not the most tolerant–mass shootings, church and synagogue arson, vandalism of cemeteries, all take place from time to time. Does that mean that the United States is intolerant to schools and religions? To make that inference is illogical.

            I started reading the article you linked but I lost my appetite right away. The writer claims to be a non-Chabad chassid, but he refers to the author of the Tanya as the Alter Rebbe. To my knowledge, and I may be wrong, only Lubavitcher chassidim refer to him that way. This makes me doubt the credibility of the author.

            Furthermore, I do not know how you were able to follow this article, because right from the start I could not make heads nor tails of it. It delves straightaway into Kabbalah, an esoteric branch of Jewish learning that is so brain twisting I cannot wrap my head around it! Mostly, I prefer to stick to the more accessible branches of study.

            That said, there is a variety of views on this topic within Judaism, and because man is created in God’s image, it’s not necessary to subscribe to such a view. But even if one did subscribe to this view, it would have no practical application; that is, it would not impact his actions or how he lives his life.

            Please don’t feel like you are treading on eggshells when discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict. I’m sorry I get so heated, but that’s not your fault. I’m so sick and tired of seeing Israel demonized in the media, and the lies spread about her. So I tend to jump down people’s throats, and I’m sorry. If you have a chance, a book that will be extremely helpful in understanding the conflict is the book I recommended earlier, From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters.

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi LarryB and those reading in,

          I realise that there are many here who are not happy with my questions and comments. One mentioned of blocking me and now you (LarryB) are suggesting that I should ship out (sigh…)

          Larry, I do not intend to berate anyone nor do I intend to get a lift from putting people down. I have a deep respect for Jim for his efforts in writing articles about the 7 laws and on non Jews and the Torah .I learn a lot about Jewish suffering and the non Jew thanks to Dina.

          However the more I learn of Jews and Judaism , the more I have questions and concerns. At first I raised these questions to Rabbi Blumenthal and another Rabbi I know privately . However the answers that come are not that satisfactory. I come to realise that there are gaps in Judaism and Torah when it comes to the non Jew.

          In addition , I find some of the arguments are too biased and one sided. Truth can be easily be discerned from error – without resorting to one sided and biased arguments. Truth can be easily discerned from error- without appealing too much to the suffering of a people and instilling a feeling of guilt on the reader .The reader should have access to an unbiased argument rooted in truth.

          This is why I highlight these matters in this blog- for those who are genuinely seeking the truth , so that they have alternative views to consider .I may not be right, but at least these views are recorded here and its is accessible whenever they read the related articles in which these comments appear.

          One of the articles that inspires me is titled “Anchor” . I would like to quote an excerpt from this article:
          “No matter where we stand we can all be confident in God’s love for us. We can all be confident that the process of asking humble and honest questions is a walk with the God who planted the desire for truth inside our hearts. We can always thank the Creator for these gifts. Nothing can take this aspect of your relationship with God away from you- your thankfulness for existence and your desire for truth”

          Larry, I am just asking humble ( perhaps I am not that humble) and honest questions -just as Concerned Reader is doing . I have never come across you suggesting him to leave the blog. Why me?

          I will confirm to you one more time- If I want to learn the Torah , I will go to the Jew. However I will still question, challenge and probe like what I am doing now. I will not throw away the drive for truth that G-d has given me . This will hopefully challenge our Jewish teachers to live out their calling as a covenant nation.

          I hope to make my position clear. Thank you.

          • Sharon S I haven’t been following this conversation too closely but I just saw your last comment Please keep asking – we all grow from your questions 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Dina says:

            Rabbi B., no one suggested that Sharon leave or be blocked. She misunderstood. I will clarify in a later post.

          • LarryB says:

            Sharon
            A good friend of mine was offered athletic scholarships from 3 very prominent colleges. He chose the one that he believed was the best college. Like you he was not impressed by the other two colleges in many ways. You have mis characterized what I said by saying I “suggested you ship out.” When I was merely asking if your not happy with the responses, why not, like my friend, find some where you will be happy. Believe this, if anyone her did not want to talk with you, including yours truly, they would not. I see you’ve noticed Concerned Reader. He is one of the most polite people here and extremely generous with his time and information.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi LarryB,

            My apologies if I have mischaracterized you.

      • Sharon S says:

        Hi Dina,

        In addition to the above comment , I would like to stress an important point.

        If Jesus is not your messiah then he is not my messiah too .

  12. Sharon S says:

    Hi Dina,

    Responding to the following comments:
    https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61878
    https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61879

    I have a history of misunderstanding a few people here , for example Concerned Reader and LarryB. I have apologized to them for the misunderstanding publicly in the blog as well. I have also received similar feedbacks from Jim and now from you . I thought if my poor English is to be blamed , but you confirmed twice that my English is excellent . Thank you for the compliment.

    You have stated that I should be pointing out flaws in your reasoning instead of engaging in personal attacks . So let’s address this “blocked from the website” issue.

    I will quote your original comment where these words first appear as follows:
    “Then you write, “Are you implying I am not supposed to ask these questions at all?” which is, frankly, crazy, given the thousands of words we have written in response to your questions and given the fact that you haven’t been blocked from this website and given the fact that you keep asking.”

    My question again:
    1.You found my question “Are you implying I am not supposed to ask these questions at all?” as strange and crazy . I will accept if you just responded by stating that you have written thousands of words of response to my questions. Why do you include the statement that I haven’t been blocked from the website of all things?
    I view this statement seriously because blocking someone from the website implies that the person had really done something offensive.
    2.I have followed quite a bit of your conversations here . You have had sharp disagreements and there were strong words between you and those whom you disagree with , most of them worse off than our conversation , but I have never come across the word “blocked” in any of your comments (I’m not sure with CP though). Is my question worse than these and why?
    3.I’m sorry for continuing to bring this up. Please let me know why my question in (1) really offends you until you come out with the “blocked” statement . This is so that I will be mindful not to ask these sort of questions again.

    I would like to respond to the confirmation of your quote on the absence of the command for the Jew to teach non Jews. I will share my understanding of Israel’s role in relation to the world , based on personal study and confirmed by enquiries to Rabbi Blumenthal in this blog:

    1.Although the Torah does not command Jews to proselytize , the Jews are G-d’s “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) . Hence the Jewish people are called to act as priests for mankind.

    2.I have asked about the purpose of Israel’s election to Rabbi Blumenthal here https://judaismresources.net/2019/05/08/the-myth-of-the-frightened-jew/#comment-61730
    Rabbi Blumenthal stated “ Just as God chose a priesthood within Israel – in that same way, God chose a nation of priests amongst the family of mankind. This nation’s role is to serve God in a more direct way and in this way teaching the nations about God.”
    I have asked a follow up question to that which is pending reply.

    3.To my understanding the priestly class is supposed to “teach your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel” (Deut 33:10) . This means the descendants of Aaron are supposed to teach Israel in addition to doing their priestly duties in the temple. One article I read in the Chabad website states “Just as the Cohanim bond the Jewish people to G‑d, so the Jews, as a Kingdom of Priests, bond the whole world to G‑d.”

    4.I have asked the question on the scope of this priestly duties –is it active (active (teaching) or passive witnessing (carrying out the requirements of the covenant relationship) to Rabbi Blumenthal here https://judaismresources.net/2011/03/27/jeremiah-31-teaches-that-christianity-is-not-the-new-covenant/#comment-44499.
    The answer received is as follows:
    “The aspect of our teaching the world by carrying our message is something we have been doing (not as well as we should be doing but still – we have been carrying the message). The aspect of actively teaching is something we need to develop – questions and challenges from people like you will force us to accept that role more quickly”

    So which view is correct?

    I would like to respond to your statement ” It’s worth reading a comment two or more times to make sure you understand it before responding”. Actually it takes between two to three hours for me to come out with a response to a comment . I will put in important points that I get from the person I am having a conversation with so that I get the correct message and also for the benefit of those reading in. I will also put in a statement “ Please correct me if I’m wrong” in my comments. I quote the comments of those whom I am having a conversation with , to minimize the risk of putting words in other people’s mouths.

    I admit that this is not fool proof, that I do misunderstand and misquote other people at times. I admit ego does get in the way or that I may be tired-we live in different time zones so I notice responses to my comments either come very early in the morning or close to bed time (local time). However I will take note of your advice.

    Last point –I appreciate the conversation and I learnt a lot from them. However I am the sort of person who will question , challenge and probe to get more clarity. Unfortunately I sense from both yours (the remark on being blocked from the website) and LarryB (“If this blogs Jewish designated ambassadors aren’t impressive enough for you, why don’t you move along”?) that my questions are not welcome here. It seems that you are more willing to engage the Christian missionary than a sincere truth seeker.

    It is pointless to continue the conversation if you don’t see the importance of these queries or if you are just playing along for the sake of it. I don’t want to waste my time and energy either.

    • Dina says:

      Sharon, did you read my comment where I said that you should continue to probe? Did you read my explanation that if we didn’t want you here we would have requested that you be blocked, which means that we DO want you here?

      You’re so offended by the word “blocked” that you can’t see past it to realize that I am saying exactly the opposite of what you think. I don’t know how I can be more clear.

      I am not the host of this blog, Rabbi B. is, and he speaks for all of us when he says that what you are doing is important and you should not be discouraged from continuing to ask questions.

      Good and honest people can disagree and still respect each other.

      There are some things we agree on and some we don’t, and we are hashing out our areas of disagreement. I will continue to answer your questions for as long as you want me to. But if you decide that I am just making excuses, am being an “unimpressive ambassador,” or whatever, and you wish to hear responses from people other than me, I promise I won’t be offended if you ask me to stop commenting. I can’t promise, however, that I will be able to refrain from keeping my mouth shut all the time :)!

      I really hope this clears the air finally!

    • Dina says:

      P.S. Just a word about CP, I did request that he be blocked, and ultimately, Rabbi B. did block him, for a couple of reasons. One was that he spread inflammatory anti-Semitic comments (like, if the Jews had accepted Jesus as their messiah, they wouldn’t have been dispersed all over the world bothering everybody [!!!!!!], or that we deserved the Holocaust because we didn’t accept Jesus). The other was that he didn’t engage in actual arguments but just kept preaching over and over again. So the dialogue went nowhere.

    • Dina says:

      And one more thing before I get back to my work, I did respond to the Jews teaching gentiles issue here:

      https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61879

      Therein I discussed the idea that since there is no actual commandment either for or against, I have no problem with either position. I would, however, exercise extreme caution, given the murderous nature of anti-Semitism and the general hostility to our worldview.

      • LarryB says:

        Dina
        I looked up proselytize, “Proselytize: convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another: advocate or promote (a belief or course of action). Doesn’t this web site by simply existing promote its beliefs? Clearly it does not tell anyone what to believe or think or encourage anyone to convert.

        • Dina says:

          To proselytize connotes actively recruiting converts. This website’s stated purpose is to counter the lies spread my missionaries, so it doesn’t count as proselytizing.

  13. Sharon S says:

    Hi Jim,

    I am responding to your comment here:
    https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61893
    https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61894

    First , I would like to apologize for the direction of my argument. My intent is not to engage in an ad hominem argument . I need to highlight a pattern that I observed in our previous conversations on Christianity. However , my arguments is directed more and more towards you rather than on your position as our conversation progressed. I wrongly erred by assuming that you do not recognize any truths in Christianity. I sincerely apologize for that.

    However , my apology does not mean that I agree with your position on Christianity. You stated that Christianity, like all successful false religions contain “universally recognized truths and beautiful thoughts” in order to attract followers .However these truths (the good elements) , are just fronts or covers in order to make the evil palatable-and you illustrate it with the parable of the muffin which contains a little rat poison. Hence , the truths of Christianity-such as love for G-d and neighbor , self sacrifice and forgiveness (the muffin) have no value . In fact Christians who live and die for these truths and values are actually depraved human beings at the core (infected by the rat poison). Is my assessment of your position accurate? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    I extended your story on the automobile recall here https://judaismresources.net/2019/03/28/the-oral-law-in-judaism-and-christianity-by-jim/#comment-61856 to show the importance of communicating both sides of the story and to put the situation in perspective . According to your story , the consumer protection agency had put out a press release to inform the public that an automobile had a problem with the fuel tank and had to be recalled. The spokesman for the agency concluded that the product is dangerous. I countered by stating that it is only the fuel tank which is faulty , not the whole product. The public should be aware on the apology and subsequent action taken by the vehicle manufacturer to rectify the issue as well as to ensure public safety. The consumer protection agency is being one sided in their reporting of the situation and is compromising public safety.

    This is a good example of the pattern of our conversation here. Your articles and comments seem to magnify only one side of Christianity –that is on its negative side , its falsehoods , its deceptions. Your position does not put these things in perspective. It is true that Christianity is a false religion , but we should not let its falsehoods trump all the good and noble values it has brought to the world. Christianity universalized the values of the Torah and brought it to the masses .Which is more important , the messenger or the message?

    Your position also ignores the sacrifices of Christians who are standing up for their convictions while facing persecution and the Christians who have been martyred for it. There are many Christians who are standing up for social justice . There are many Christians who have gone to remote places , providing education and improving quality of life. Are their actions a sham , a bluff? Are they depraved human beings at the core, infected by the rat poison? Are their sacrifices less significant because of the falsehoods of Christianity?

    Let’s assume that I accept your position that Christianity is a faulty religion and it offers deception as we see in the world around us. What is the root cause for that deception? Does this deception originate in Christianity or does it have its background in Judaism? For example , Christianity teach that man cannot approach God, except through Jesus. In addition , it teaches a God that punishes the innocent. Let us not forget that Christianity started out as a sect within Judaism . There is a possibility that these errors may have its roots in Judaism .

    I have highlighted to you the Talmudic passage which states that the transmission of the 7 laws have been lost. I understand that this is due to what our forefathers did when they constructed the tower of Babel. The transmission of the 7 continue to be lost down to their descendants – the non Jews. The Jewish Scriptures claims that G-d forgives the wicked who repents . If this is so then these laws would have been revealed with great clarity at a certain point in history- so that non Jews will be able to learn about it thereby giving us the opportunity to repent. According to Maimonides, these laws were revealed again at Sinai. Unfortunately, there are a few versions and interpretation of the 7 laws which leaves me in doubt if these laws were divinely revealed at all .

    In addition , I referenced an article written by a Rabbi Moshe Shulman titled ““The Soul: Is there a difference between a Gentile and a Jewish Soul?” in my comment to Dina. The author of this article was explaining the teaching of the Tanya that the Gentile’s soul is inferior to that of the Jew. He also explained that there is lesser reward for the repentance of the non Jew because the non Jew is not commanded to repent. So you can see here that due to the sins of our forefathers, the transmission of the 7 is lost on their descendants –us . Also this sin affects the condition of our soul in that it is inferior to the Jew and to top it off we are not commanded to repent. It seems in reality that the opportunity for the non Jew to repent is rather limited in Judaism. There are no clear laws/guidance and our soul is inherently inferior.

    To me the above is a strong indicator that the errors of Christianity has its roots in Judaism. The earliest followers of Jesus were Jewish . Their perception of the non Jew would have come from Jewish tradition. It is highly probable that they project these beliefs to justify the impact of Jesus’s death and resurrection to their gentile audience.

    Let’s look this from another angle. If we assume Christianity is a faulty religion and is deceptive, then does Judaism provides a solution to the deceptions of Christianity? Does Judaism provides solution to the human condition? Ravi Zacharias , a prominent Christian apologist stated “ A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny”- Where do I come from? Why am I here? How do I understand what is right and wrong? What happens to me when I die? Can Judaism satisfy the above questions for ALL mankind , Jew and non Jew alike? To me Judaism on its own is not able to satisfy the above questions-especially on meaning and morality for the non Jew.

    I asked a question to Rabbi Blumenthal –What is G-d’s plan? Is it for Israel only or for all mankind?. This question can be found here https://judaismresources.net/2019/05/08/the-myth-of-the-frightened-jew/#comment-61724. I repeated the question again as his initial reply does not answer this question . I hope that he will answer this question in depth. The lack of complete response is a strong indicator that Judaism does not provide solution to the human condition. The lack of complete response also is a strong indicator that the G-d of the Jewish Scriptures is a tribal deity uninterested in the human condition.

    Jim , once again my apologies for my ad hominem arguments which seems to be more directed at you rather than on your position. However I disagree with your position . We should look at Christianity and Judaism from all angles. I acknowledge that Christianity is false , but this should not trump the good that it has brought to the world. We should not see the noble actions of Christians as insignificant just because the belief is false . On the flip side , we should ask if Judaism really provides a solution to the human condition –if proven that Judaism have gaps in this area then does this mean that the G-d of the Jewish Scriptures is not interested in the human condition?

    • Jim says:

      Hi Sharon,

      Last night a building in the community burned down, close to my home. We are all fine, and baruch HaShem, the building was uninhabited and no one hurt, but I have no internet connection right now, so I will keep this comment short. But, I do not want you left with the wrong impression.

      I am horrified that you think that I believe that Christians are “depraved human beings at the core.” I do not believe any such thing! Indeed, this is a Christian notion, of which I would have them disabused. Many Christians are fine and admirable people. I do not even think along the lines that you have attributed to me.

      Briefly, also, I would say that you have altered what I wrote regarding the truths of false religions. You indicate an intelligent plan to mix truth with untruth, in order to deceive people. But, I did not. However, I will have to clarify this later.

      Jim

      • Dina says:

        Yikes, Jim! I’m glad no one was hurt, and I hope you get your Internet and anything else that was damaged up and running soon.

      • Sharon S says:

        Hi Jim,

        Sorry to hear about the fire .Thank goodness that you and your family are fine.

        Please take your time

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