Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus – Excerpt From Critique of Volume 1

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

16.Objection 1.8
Here Brown tries to explain to his readers why Jews have not accepted Jesus as their god. Brown lists several explanations for the Jewish position but Brown fails to tell his readers the most important reason why Jesus was never an option for the Jew. The Christian Scriptures themselves testify that the most important Jewish reaction to Jesus was: “how can a man claim to be god?” In other words, Jews in Jesus’ time and until today, recognize that attributing divinity to a human being is idolatry. It is for this reason and for this reason only that Jews gave their lives rather than accept Jesus. Judaism teaches that human life is sacred, but in order to avoid idolatry, one must be ready to die.
Imagine the following scenario. A certain drug manufacturer developed a drug that he claimed would cure chicken pox. The FDA refuses to approve the…

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The Historical Jesus – excerpt from Kosher Reality

The Historical Jesus and the Historicity of the Christian Scriptures
Much ink has been expended in the effort to uncover the historical Jesus. The questions abound. Was Jesus a radical revolutionary against the oppressive Roman Empire or was he a pacifist who decried the use of force? Was Jesus an imposter or was he a messenger from on high? Was he a prophet or was he a deluded dreamer? What theology did Jesus preach? Did he preach a Trinity or did he advocate a pure monotheistic faith?
All of these arguments center on the work of literature that is known as the Christian Scripture. It is in this set of books that the character and the history of Jesus are depicted. This series of books brings a new set of questions to the discussion. Who authored these books? When were these books authored? Was there another document that preceded these books from which these writers drew their narratives? Are these books reliable?
It is not for me to attempt to resolve these questions. I do not believe that these questions can be resolved decisively and conclusively. The events in questions took place in the distant past. Any theory, no matter how convincing, can only remain speculation.
What we can do and what is incumbent upon us to do is to put this discussion into perspective. In the complexities of the conversations certain common denominators tend to get lost. By recognizing the common thread that is present in all of the theories about Jesus and the books that describe his life we can bring some balance to this debate.
Any discussion about a human being must recognize its limitations. No man can truly know what transpires in the heart of his fellow man. Only God can see the heart (1Samuel 16:7). What we can judge are the words and the activities that our subject brought out into the open. Since this discussion is about a man who lived and died a long time ago, we cannot evaluate all of his words and actions. We can only measure those words and those actions that were preserved in the writings and in the hearts of those who were impacted by his life. In other words this can never be a discussion about Jesus. We can only discuss the impression that Jesus left behind him in this world.
These impressions themselves are ever-changing. New interpretations of Jesus’ words and teachings are being developed on a regular basis. Is it at all possible to determine with any accuracy the content of the original impression that Jesus left behind him? I think that not. But I do believe that we can be confident about one element of the original impression that Jesus made on those who lived with him. There is one constant quality that every strand of evidence affirms concerning the impression that Jesus left behind him. There is no dispute that Jesus raised up a following that saw love for Jesus as a central feature, if not the central feature of their universe.
Since that time, all who considered themselves followers of Jesus accepted this constant. All who follow Jesus accept that a person’s love for Jesus or lack thereof is the most important defining quality of man. These followers of Jesus defined themselves and they evaluated their connection to other people primarily on the basis of their feelings toward Jesus.
Yes, there was and there still is conflict about which Jesus to love. Is it a Trinitarian Jesus or is it a Unitarian Jesus? Is it a pacifist Jesus or is it a Jesus who wants to see his enemies destroyed? But all who like to see themselves as extensions of Jesus’ impact on human society agree that love for Jesus is a central feature of their worldview.
The books of the Christian Scriptures were products of this community. It is difficult to determine with any certainty the precise theological parameters of the writers of the gospels, but there is no question that they saw love for Jesus as a principal element of existence. The most important line in the universe of the gospel writers was the divide between those who love Jesus and those who don’t.
It is naïve to read the books of Christian Scripture without recognizing this truth. These writers loved Jesus in an extreme way. It is clear that these people would not have demanded the same standard of evidence that an objective outsider would demand before accepting something positive or before discounting something negative about their hero.
To say that the books of Christian Scriptures are historical documents is misleading. Yes, these books were written a long time ago. But do these books present objective historical facts? It would be foolish to believe so. It is clear that these books are presenting the worldview of people whose hearts were completely committed to Jesus. Not only were these books written by people with a deep love for Jesus in their hearts, but these books were written with the express purpose of promoting and justifying that love. Few factors can distort a person’s view of reality to the same extent as the factor of love for an individual.
The ramifications of this truth are manifold. When the Christian Scriptures report that Jesus performed many glorious miracles, we need to read those words with the understanding that those who wrote them had a deep motivation to believe those reports. When these writers present fanciful Scriptural interpretations that exalt Jesus we need to recognize that there was a driving force in their hearts that wanted to see these interpretations in the words of the prophets. When the gospel writers vilify those who did not share their love for Jesus, we need to realize that the centerpiece of their worldview would have them reinterpret reality in this way.
We can know very little about Jesus today, so many centuries after his death. But we can be sure that he left behind him a legacy that elevated people’s love for him to an extreme degree.
The question that needs to be asked when reading the Christian Scriptures is if this love is justified. What legacy of justification did they leave for this central element of their message? Perhaps more important is the question of what kind of legacy of respect did they pass on concerning the ethical and moral responsibility for people to question that love.
Did the community that Jesus raised respect the process of honest questioning before loving? Or did they redefine honesty according to the love that was so central to their universe?
These are the questions that we should be asking about the historical Jesus. For this is the imprint that he left on the minds and hearts of men.

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Letter to SY about Messiah

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

The following essay was sent to a Messianic leader. He suggested that we exchange our respective views about the Messiah that was predicted by the prophets of the Jewish Scriptures. I sent him my point of view, but I never received any response from him. I do find it interesting that most of my correspondence with Messianics and Christians adhere to the same template. I write something based on Scripture, and the response I get is generally the same: silence. I wonder why?  

As we agreed – here is my presentation of the Messiah from the perspective of the Jewish Scriptures.

Genesis 49:10 tells us that the Messiah will have the nations gather to him.

Numbers 24:17-19 tells us that the Messiah will achieve military victory over Israel’s enemies.

Isaiah 11:1-12:6 Describes a leader imbued with a spirit of God, wisdom, understanding, council, strength, knowledge and fear of God. He will be a righteous…

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The “Resurrection” – by Jim

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Aaron,

You call it speculation for Fred to say that Jesus did not come back from the dead. To some degree this is true, but it is also speculation to say that Jesus did come back from the dead. After all, you did not see him. I did not see him. Fred did not see him. Apologists will say that the tomb is empty, but of course that does not imply a resurrection. For that you would need a living body. They want us to speculate; only they want us to speculate that Jesus came back from the dead. But this is not a reasonable conclusion.

I would like to conduct a thought experiment with you, if you are willing. It is one I have asked others to consider when they have insisted that we accept the resurrection. I would like you to take yourself back in time mentally. I…

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The “Other” Messiah – by Jim

You write that Christianity fills in the gaps of the Jewish definition of the role of the Messiah and argue that the only difference between Jews and Christians is that the Jews expect the first coming of the Messiah, while Christians expect the second coming. As all are aware, the Church claims that Jesus fulfilled many prophecies about the Messiah, all of which related to his first coming. Various lists are produced claiming that he fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, claims which have been answered in detail. I would like to turn my attention to just a couple of those prophecies and show why they do not fill in any gaps in definition, that they are not essential works of the Messiah, and that these prophecies do not indicate two comings.

Please imagine the following scenario: After the death of Jesus, Peter is preaching the gospel in Jerusalem, healing the sick and all of the things that he is supposed to have done in the Book of Acts. One day, he comes to a man—we’ll call him Shem—and he tells Shem the story of Jesus, his death, resurrection, and all the prophecies that Jesus is supposed to have fulfilled. At the end, Shem thanks Peter for his time, but he does not put his faith in Jesus. In fact, he claims that, based on what Peter has told him, Jesus cannot be the Messiah. “Why not?” asks Peter.
“Because,” answers Shem, “you said that Jesus was brought out of Egypt in fulfillment of Hosea 11:1. But that cannot be: everyone knows that Hosea 11:1 refers to the second coming of the Messiah, not the first. So, Jesus cannot be the Messiah.” How could Peter answer Shem?

This situation must seem incredibly far-fetched, perhaps even a bit funny. The reason is because the text indicates nothing about a first and second coming. This was not a big discussion among people before Jesus, which prophecies referred to the first and which to the second coming of the Messiah. This is because nothing in the text indicates any such thing. It is an invention, necessitated by Jesus’ failure to fulfill Messianic prophecy. Peter would have no way to answer Shem from the text. He could not point to any indicator in Hosea 11:1 and say, “This portion here shows that this is a first coming prophecy.” On the contrary, first coming prophecies are deemed such by the Church only after Jesus failed to fulfill Messianic prophecy. The difficulty was not with the gap-filled definition of the Jewish people; it was the need for a new definition of Messiah which could be ascribed to Jesus.

These fulfilled prophecies do not add essential knowledge to the office or person of the Messiah, as can be seen from the following:
Imagine that Jesus did not fulfill Hosea 11:1, but he had fulfilled other Christian Messianic prophecies, such as being born of a virgin. Under this condition, Peter is preaching the gospel in Jerusalem. He comes upon Shem, and he gives over the whole gospel to Shem. Shem again says that Jesus cannot be the Messiah. And again, Peter asks, “Why not?”
Shem answers, “Do you not know that the Messiah had to be called out of Egypt as it says in Hosea, ‘…out of Egypt I have called my son?’ Jesus failed to fulfill this prophecy. Ergo, he is not the Messiah.” How would Peter answer Shem?
It is tempting to say that Peter would put this off on the second coming, as the Church does with anything that Jesus did not fulfill on the first trip. But, this is not necessary, and I do not believe this is what he would do at all. Instead, Peter would point out that Hosea 11:1 is not a messianic prophecy. The “son” in that verse is Israel, and the prophet is referring back to the Exodus, not forward to the Messianic era. Peter can afford to do this, because nothing essential is lost from the definition of the Messiah by denying Hosea 11:1 is a prophecy. He only needs to appeal to a second coming when prophecies are clearly Messianic and contain essential qualities of the Messiah, yet remain unfulfilled in Jesus. So, universal knowledge of God must relate to the second coming, because it does not relate to Jesus, but it is undeniably linked to the reign of the Messiah. But, if Jesus had not been brought out of Egypt, no recourse need be made to a second coming, because nothing essential to the Messiah would have been missing.
Indeed, no one would have noticed. The situation with Shem would not have arisen, because a straightforward reading would not relate Hosea 11:1 to the Messiah; it would not occur to him to ask the question. The same is true of other prophecies that Christians claim Jesus fulfilled. If he had had a broken bone on the cross, it would have made no difference to the Christian claim that Jesus was the Messiah. If he had neither been born of a virgin nor come from Nazareth, it is the same. None of these prophecies is essential to the Messiah and add nothing meaningful to the definition. All of them rely upon texts taken out-of-context (except the Nazareth one, which does not exist), which texts could be dropped without changing Christian opinion regarding the Messianic claims of Jesus. None of them would require a second coming to explain why Jesus did not accomplish them. But with the Jewish understanding of the Messiah, an explanation is demanded precisely because those prophecies are essential.

That the Christian prophecies are unessential can be demonstrated in another way. Imagine a third scenario: This time, the Messiah has come, identified according to the Jewish understanding. He is a Davidic King, ruling over Israel in a time of universal peace and a universal knowledge of God, etc. And, imagine that Jesus had never lived. Peter is again on the streets of Israel, but he has a different message. He is now the head of a group that is waiting for the other Messiah. He approaches Shem and invites him to their meeting. Peter tells Shem that a second Messiah is to come, one that will fulfill the other prophecies. This one will be born of a virgin, come out of Egypt, and live in Nazareth. Could anything entice Shem to join this group? I hardly think so. All of those so-called prophecies are nothing in comparison to those already fulfilled. None of them give reason for a greater hope to come; they pale in comparison to those prophecies universally acknowledged to be Messianic. The Messianic Age could come without them having been fulfilled and nothing would be lost. No one would look for a second Messiah or a second coming whereby those other prophecies could be fulfilled.

Therefore, the Christian definition of the Messiah does not fill any gaps. It is a redefinition employed to explain how Jesus can be considered the Messiah while having none of the qualities of the Messiah, having done none of the accomplishments of the Messiah. The prophecies Jesus is said to have fulfilled are not essential to the definition of Messiah. If they are stripped away from the conception of the Messiah, the core definition of Messiah would remain unchanged. Moreover, those elements that relate to the first or second coming could not be identified as such by the text. Those essential to the Messiah were only labeled as second coming prophecies when Jesus did not fulfill them. One can only conclude that the Church is not filling in gaps but covering its tracks.
Jim

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The Endorsement of Itzhak Shapira – a Video, an Appeal and a Challenge

The Endorsement of Itzhak Shapira – a Video, an Appeal and a Challenge

Itzhak Shapira took down the video in which he displays his incredible ineptitude. I appeal to him to take all of his “teachings” out of circulation for the same reason he took down this video.

Itzhak Shapira holds “full ordination” from the IAMCS and his book; “The Return of the Kosher Pig” comes with ringing accolades from some of the top names in Messianic and Evangelical circles. With these endorsements in his back pocket, Shapira disseminates his teachings in person and online to innocent and well-meaning people all over the world. These people cannot on their own evaluate Shapira’s expertise because they do not know the language of the texts that serve as the basis of his teachings. Instead, they rely on the appraisal of those who have granted him ordination and who claim to see him as a serious scholar.

Recently, Shapira released a video of one of his teachings. In this video, Shapira does not limit himself to the teaching itself. He tries his hand at reading a few lines of the Talmud. The Talmud is the foundational book of rabbinic literature and Shapira is described by these Christian leaders as a scholar in the field of rabbinic literature. But Shapira is nothing of the sort.

I showed this clip to a few elementary school children, ages 12-14. These youngsters are beginners in the study of Talmud. These children were convinced that this was some type of comic skit. Shapira’s inability to make his way through a few simple lines of Talmud was so embarrassingly obvious to these beginners that they could not imagine someone posting such a video unless he was trying to make a joke.

I now turn to those leaders who have put their names behind Itzhak Shapira and I appeal to you. Please check out this video. Absorb the incredible ineptitude displayed in this video and ask yourselves if this man can lay any legitimate claim to expertise in the realm of rabbinic literature. On what basis do you allow this impostor to mislead innocent people? How can you aid and abet Shapira’s ongoing deception?

I challenge you to live up to your calling as human beings created in the image of God and publicly withdraw your endorsements from Itzhak Shapira. I hope and pray that you do so with tact and with sensitivity, but also effectively and decisively. Those who have put their trust in your leadership deserve no less.

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Testimony of History

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Testimony of History

When scientists test a drug they do so with the understanding that things might not work out as they expect. Before allowing a given remedy to be widely distributed the researchers will subject this new treatment to a set of experiments. One of the experiments that these researchers will use is the distribution of this drug to a broad range of people. The scientists will take a large group of men and women, young and old, healthy and weak and administer the drug to them. At the same time they will take another, similar group of people and withhold the drug from them. Perhaps the researchers will give this second group of people a placebo during the trial period. At the end of the designated time, the scientists will evaluate the two groups of people, those that took the drug and those that didn’t.

It is obvious…

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