Wow, you must watch this video in which Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, an Orthodox rabbi, praises “Rabbi Jesus.” He subsequently has clarified (h/t Hirhurium) that his comments were “carelessly edited” — shrewdly edited, might be more like it, to give emphasis to one thread in Rabbi Riskin’s discussion. Be that as it may, what Riskin says is remarkable and plausible to me, though he goes farther than I ever have done, even in my recent “Jewish Case for Christmas” post.
My personal view, as I wrote in Why the Jews Rejected Jesus
, is that there’s no sure way of recovering the authentic, historical Jesus from the Gospels and any attempt to do so runs the risks of simply finding what you want to find. It makes more sense to read the Gospels and Paul and take them at face value, as representing a unified teaching in competition in interesting ways with Orthodox Judaism.
Speaking of which, I’ve been rereading Matthew recently. Quite an amazing book. The main theme, as I see it, more than anything else, is a critique of Jewish hypocrisy and much of it rings true on that count. Judaism at its worst is very much as Matthew describes it.
However, Christianity at its worst has historically been a far, far more terrible thing — “terrifying” might be the right word — without any parallel whatsoever in Jewish history. Which leaves us with the enigma of what God really intended in watering the plant that grew into the various Christian churches. If God has a plan, than Jesus must somehow be part of it. That’s the enigma I sought to address in my aforementioned pre-Christmas post