Who is the Messiah? – excerpt from Covenant Nation

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Who is the Messiah?
Boyarin wraps up his arguments by telling his readers that the followers of Jesus did not “invent” the idea of a divine savior, but rather that they drew this idea from the well-springs of Jewish thought that was current in their times. Boyarin argues that the Jewish concept of Messiah as it was understood in the generations preceding Jesus included, or at least allowed for, a second divine figure that is to suffer and die (TJG, pg. 160). The followers of Jesus simply applied these ancient Jewish teachings to Jesus of Nazareth, but they did not invent these teachings.

Aside from the fact that Boyarin ignores the evidence of the Christain Scriptures which clearly indicate that Jesus’ followers did NOT expect Jesus to suffer and die, this after they had positively identified him as the Messiah, Boyarin has also missed the heart and soul of the…

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7 Responses to Who is the Messiah? – excerpt from Covenant Nation

  1. A Yiddishe Mama says:

    I recently had a conversation with a leader in the Messianic movement about Boyarin’s theories and I pointed out that if they 1) believe in a divine messiah and 2) push the notion that J*sus was Moshiach ben Yosef (as they do), then, in essence, they have just have opened themselves up to expand their “godhead.”
    Because if J*sus arose in bodily form and will be coming back, then he will have to have a cousin from the tribe of David to who will become Moshiach ben David…
    Walla! Two “divine” Moshiachs and an ever-expanding “godhead”…
    And who’s to stop it at a three or four? Why not ten?
    The Messianics work so hard to find texts that they can somehow manipulate to “prove” that Judaism has allowed room for worship of multiple deities. But none of their texts are graphic and on the scale of credibility — when pitted against the graphic text of the Tanach that insists that G-d is not a man and that He is one — they fail dismally. It’s a game of smoke and mirrors. They try to make up convoluted theories that right verses out of context that could offer some sort of “support” for their claims and hope that people will overlook that which is right in front of their noses…

    • A Yiddishe Mama says:

      A made a few typos there. Of course, I meant tribe of Yehudah from whence David came.

      • bible819 says:

        Jesus is the Messiah, True Bread of Life, who WAS-IS and IS to come, I AM HE, the Son of God, raised from the Dead, descendent of David. The Testimony of the Father, Amen

        • Jim says:

          Bible819, Aaron,

          What is the purpose of a comment such as the one above to which I am responding? Is it merely to “troll” the blog, as the kids say? Mere assertion without argument does not contribute to the conversation at all.

          Imagine this scenario: Mormon missionaries have become more aggressive in their efforts to convert Christians to members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. You have steadfastly resisted their efforts and have undertaken to show their belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet is unfounded. In your efforts to counter the Mormon missionary, you establish a website on which you bring proof from the “New Testament” that Mormon teaching is not supported by the foundational Christian documents. In response to your arguments, a missionary posts a comment, not countering your argument but merely reiterating his faith in the prophecy of Joseph Smith. What would you think of his comment? Would you not think that his comment did not contribute to the conversation? Would you not agree that his mere assertion does not make his belief true?

          So, I ask again, what does your comment contribute to the conversation?


        • John-William says:

          The word “Messiah” is not found in the O.T. as a proper name or as a technical term. It simply means “anointed” in the O.T. and in the N.T. There were many such persons in the O.T. and you could say that Yahshua (aka Jesus) may have been anointed (as a prophet with a mission). Beyond that, you could also use the statements of Yahshua from what is quoted by him having said in the synoptic Gospels as ” . . . . and he (Yahshua) said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is ‘God’ . . . . .” so Yahshua himself said he was not good enough to be “God.” Furthermore, for your information “Bible819” there are many sons and daughters of “God” in the Bible. One IS a brother and sister, and mother of Yahshua by doing the will of his Father, . . . . . ” Matt. 19: 17. So, if we who are doing the will of the Father are now a brother and sister or mother of Yahshua, then we must also have the same position as Yahshua’s (son relationship) by doing the will of the Father, (this is according to what the Messiah Yahshua (Jesus.) himself said in Matthew 12: 50. Simple.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      @ A Yiddeshe Mama: I think the point with the Messianics pointing to those concepts is less about messianics saying that Jesus fits the rabbinic definition, model, and picture of Moshiach Ben Yosef, exactly, (why would he? that was an idea formulated by theological rivals of Christianity?) then it is them pointing out “These texts that we DO agree upon from Tanakh can be read in myriad ways, have been so, and there is even some degree of interplay and overlap present in how the two different traditions read certain texts even if the specifics are very different, and even in spite of a hostile relationship between both traditions.

      Personally, I think Christianity makes trouble for itself when arguing against rabbinic Judaism out the gate when its adherents claim to use “just the word of God.’ Personally, I think either tradition doing that is silly, easy to disprove, and counterproductive. Both religions very clearly have preexisting traditions and assumptions about how to read the books.

      When I am looking at any disputation I can find between Jews and Christians, I see the trend where Christians routinely rely heavily on oral traditions and trends of interpretation, from within Jewish tradition, but also from within their own Christian traditions, and then turning around and claiming “its ok for me, but not for thee,” when arguing with Judaism’s use of tradition. Its disingenuous of them at best, downright wrong at worst.

      If I go by just what the books of the Christians themselves claim, J’s earliest followers would have been described as some Pharisee like, or Pharisee adjacent group, albeit wishy washy in some ways, but observant. As I like to say, “If Jesus had been born a Sadducee, the Christian religion simply would not exist.”

      I have personally taken the Christian Bible apart Thomas Jefferson style, (stripped of its Narrative content) and just looked at the words of Jesus and his followers, including Paul of Tarsus, pertaining to how they taught Jews and Gentiles they interacted with to behave. IE the do and don’t of proper conduct according to them.

      If I look at any Christian writing through that lens, the book is just essentially a gentile’s beginners guide to Jewish ethics, that lines up roughly with the expectations one would have of someone interested in, but not yet fully converted to Judaism. As a result, I don’t even see the value in arguing with them, lol because its an argument over a person (Jesus) who has been experienced by two groups of people (Jews and Christians) in diametrically opposed ways, but the behavior expected is similar on an ethical level.

      There is no objective reason for anyone of Jewish heritage, or historical experience, to look at Jesus, and think, “Gee! This guy was awesome for our people.” No Jewish person slightly knowledgeable of their history with Christianity, being honest, would say this.

      For the gentile world though (Europe and the Americas specifically) the Jesus movement had a profound impact on the culture, the history, and served as a reason for gentiles even taking scripture seriously at all, even though the history is blood soaked. As Muhammad’s personage did the same for the people of the Arabian peninsula.

      To put it this way. If China had invented sliced bread 1st, or if they in fact did it better, even the best, it wouldn’t matter to the people living in a different location, half way around the world, in a different culture, because they would still love the guy who initially gave them the crappier version of sliced bread. That guy might get the credit, even if his version of sliced bread was generic, derivative, or bad.

      As for J needing a cousin of Davidic lineage, while he doesn’t have that, the Christian Bible claims that John the Baptist who had priestly lineage, was his cousin, while Jesus allegedly was claimed to have had Davidic lineage. That’s not to say that its true, or that it is indeed something one could even verify, but it is interesting.

      Other groups in the same period as J believed in both a Davidic and Priestly messianic figure, some texts even have only one messianic figure who seems to share characteristics and the mantle, both royal and priestly. That in and of itself is interesting because one figure that shares priestly and royal characteristics would not strictly be biblical at all, but the Hasmonean dynasty had both royal and priestly roles, (and all the controversy and scandal associated with that since its supposed to be a bicameral system.)

      If I look at Jewish and Christian use of the books, there is a lot of overlap, and a penchant for biblical fan fiction in both.

      The easiest way to put the screws to a Christian is just to read the book plainly the way a Sadducee or a Karaite might do it, because at least then you are just literally going by what little the book actually has to say on any of these matters. The second you bring one tradition’s view in, its decidedly more murky because there are so many ways to read, and even contradictory ways.

    • Sharon S says:

      Recently there was a furore in my country over a locally produced brand of liquor. The brand name of this liquor is somewhat associated with the local Muslim community. Alchohol is forbidden to Muslims under the Islamic law. The fact that a product forbidden to Muslims being marketed with a name associated with the local Muslim community is a concern. It offends Muslim sensitivities and  may mislead those in the community to consume that which is forbidden to them.

      On the other hand,  many outside and some within the Muslim community who see this furore as unecessary. A rational, pious Muslim is able to tell which is forbidden , in whatever packaging, shape and form. The company producing the said liquor is paying homage to the country’s rich history, hence the name and image on the packaging.  The company concerned should not be penalized, or to rebrand its product because of the concerns by the Muslim community.

      I brought up the above scenario as it seem to relate to Yiddishe Mama’s comment.I understand that Yiddishe Mama is pointing out that a rational,observant Jew is able to see through the smokescreens of the Messianics who are attempting to “brand” their beliefs as having some room in Judaism. However there are those in the community who may not be able to see as clearly. As someone who follow both Messianic and counter missionary content, I can say that Messianic content out there can be quite convincing. The presenters have a good grasp of Jewish tradition and are able to marry it with the New Testament. There is a possibility that a disconnected Jew too can fall for these arguments as well. That is why reaching out to disconnected Jews ,as well as the  work of the counter missionary is crucial.

      Responding to Concerned Reader’s point on the Jesus movement and its impact on the gentile world, and associating this movement to a crappier sliced bread- I do agree that Christianity has a profound impact in the Gentile world. However no one in his/her right mind will accept Christianity if this person come to know eventually that it is a “crappier sliced bread”  and if there is a  more  authentic belief i.e  sliced bread out there somewhere. The center of the Christian Bible, assuming if it is the New Testament (NT) alone, is Jesus .The ethical behaviours advocated therein is secondary and flow from the worship of this individual. There is a tendency to see the NT as an ethical guidebook or that Jesus a teacher among many. However the reader may not be able to appreciate the message of the NT in full.

      There are many sources from within Judaism itself for the gentile to learn about Jewish ethics -which is based on Torah and flows out of the worship to the God of the Torah. There are resources and apps available at the touch of one’s fingertips – provided it is guided by an observant , Orthodox Jew.  The New Testament is not one of them.

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