Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


The Jewish Case for Christmas

posted by David Klinghoffer
I happened to overhear recently when a friend of mine asked the poised young wife of a Chabad rabbi if her family celebrates Thanksgiving. In general, ultra-Orthodox Jews shy away from marking non-Jewish holidays.
“No,” she answered with sort of a secret smile, “but we do appreciate it.”
This is exactly how I think of Christmas and I’ve been feeling less guilty about that lately. 
In general, the classic Jewish ways of dealing with this most beloved of Christian holidays have included eating Chinese food, going to the movies, or if you’re a real mensch, working at the office as a way of saying thank you to Christian colleagues who fill in for you when you take off for Jewish holidays or leave early for Shabbat. For myself, when I lived in New York, my wife and I used to mark the occasion by going out for drinks at Aquavit, a fancy and festive Scandinavian restaurant.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, without whom there would be no Christian religion. So for Jews the day also poses the question of how we’re to regard the rival and younger faith. I wrote a whole a book about the reasons faithful Jews have given for rejecting Jesus, but this doesn’t tell us whether, from a Jewish traditional and authentic perspective, we should feel that his birth was on the whole a good thing or bad thing.
Christianity poses a theological challenge to us. Both the Hebrew Bible and our own oral and rabbinic tradition going back millennia have seen the Jewish people as called upon by God to transform the world spiritually. Yet spiritually, in any practical day-to-day sense, our impact on others has been and remains minimal. This has become especially painful in recent generations when Jews achieved in America all the freedom, acceptance and influence that we could ever hope for in a gentile country. In the spiritual realm, we’ve done very little with our privileged position. 
Jews stand out for our level of achievement in virtually every sphere of endeavor — whether playing the violin or making motion pictures, doing physics or doing business — that is, every area except the one that the God of Israel cares most about, that of moral and religious leadership. Jews who speak out in public on moral issues almost invariably do so on questions where they stand in defiance of the Torah. Either that, or they lecture others on moral issues that are of great relevance to Jews (anti-Semitism, support for Israel) but much less so to anyone else. Religiously faithful Jews, per se, remain almost entirely irrelevant on the American scene.
This is in sharp contrast to traditional and conservative Christians. Defending the sanctity of human life or the traditional family, standing up for God’s honor as the creator of the world, or reaching out to and teaching the spiritually lost and searching of all ethnicities — these are all seen as Christian vocations, not Jewish ones.
This has sometimes depressed me. It’s as if Christians have taken the appointed Jewish role in the world and made it their own, as Jews sat passively by or, worse, offered only sniping, critical comments from the sidelines. But then it occurred to me, what if God meant things to turn out this way?
I mean to offer no concession to Christian theology, the most telling Jewish objections to which remain as cogent as ever. Christianity has functioned through its history as the most effective acid on the existence of the Jewish people. Jesus-believing Jews invariably disappeared with their descendants into the wider gentile population. That the Jewish Messiah would turn out to be the person ultimately responsible for that I find unthinkable to accept. At a more fundamental level, Christian belief sits uncomfortably on the foundation of the Hebrew Bible. The latter insists over and over again that the grammar of law through which God asks us to form our relationship to him is an eternal aspect of his blueprint for humanity. The New Testament overturns Torah law and so, if embraced, divorces the Jew from God.
In other words, if you read the Hebrew and Greek Bibles consecutively, in the historical order in which they came into the world, the latter cannot readily be reconciled with former. But what if you read them in the opposite sequence? That is exactly how Christians do it and, looked from this very different perspective, it’s not as if the Christian reading makes no sense.
On the contrary, the Hebrew Bible is an extraordinarily enigmatic book. Jewish tradition places its own interpretation on Scripture, an interpretation I find enchantingly beautiful and powerfully, electromagnetically true. Yet the Jewish interpretation is not without its implausibilities. Nobody who picked up our Scriptures with an open mind but zero background in Judaism or Christianity would ever read out of it the structure of traditional Jewish belief with which we are familiar. From the pages of our Bible, the teachings of the Talmud do not tumble forth effortlessly.

To discover our own Judaism in the Bible requires turning the Scriptural text in a certain way, as you would turn a crystal under the sun. At this angle it reflects light in a particular, Jewish manner. But turn it again and you see not the Jewish understanding of the Hebrew Bible but the Christian one. Retrospectively looking back on the Biblical text, the New Testament seeks to explain all that is so confounding and mysterious in a radically different manner, one that is, if we are honest, plausible in its own way. Less plausible to me, but then I am a Jew.
One possibility, preferred by secularists, is that God wasn’t intimately involved in revealing the Torah, Prophets and Writings that make up the Hebrew Bible. The other possibility is that he was very much involved. But if so, why did he allow such a degree of ambiguity in Scripture?
In the classic medieval philosophic work Kuzari, Rabbi Yehudah Ha’levi selected an apt image to describe the impact of Judaism on the world. Torah is like a seed planted in the ground that draws the nutrients in the soil to it. The seed disappears in the earth, but then there springs forth a tree whose fruits are those very same nutrients transformed into a new creation. The tree is the Jews and the fruit are the non-Jewish nations, which are made into one living being with the people of Israel.
The Hebrew prophets speak insistently and gloriously of the metamorphosis of humanity into a single community in the worship of God. Very mainstream and Orthodox rabbinic thinkers like Samson Raphael Hirsch and Jacob Emden saw the eruption of Christianity into the world as a “necessary” (Hirsch’s word) condition of this alchemy. Hirsch stressed the gradualness of the education of man up to the level of Israel.
True, rabbinic sources associate the church of Rome with Isaac’s son Esau as they link Islam with Abraham’s son Ishmael — both problematic figures, to say the least. Yet the Bible, explained by Jewish tradition, also foresees Esau and Ishmael ultimately reconciling with Israel. These are transmuting, transforming personalities, not irreversibly negative ones. How different from the supernaturally evil Amalek, the mysterious entity that the rabbis associated with a belief in randomness as the driving force of reality and a characteristic chilliness in opposition to everything the Jews are meant to stand for. It is only with Amalek that there can never be any reconciliation.
It almost seems as if there might be a sense in which non-Jews gradually do transmute themselves, becoming one with us. Many Christians have this intuition as well. When I spoke recently at an Evangelical church in Santa Monica, the pastor offered me a shofar to blow before my speech. (Though charmed, I declined.) He explained that the congregation has a custom of shofar-blowing before every service. When at one point I asked if there were any Jews in the audience, I was startled to find that most of the hands in the audience went up. 
I then asked how many considered themselves Christians. The same hands shot into the air. They were not Messianic Jews, Jews for Jesus, or anything like that. They considered themselves, as Christians, to have been “grafted in” to the Jewish people. The phrase was originally Paul’s.
Very different from the old and frequently venomous replacement theology, the phenomenon of a profound philo-Semitism in Evangelical culture is striking and increasingly widespread. And maybe that is God’s plan. Jesus spoke to his followers of their being “the light of the world,” and advised, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16). As an Orthodox Jew, I’m not unaware that this is exactly what God asked the Jews to be.
The seed is not the fruit and the fruit is not the seed yet in nature they are part of the same continuing process of growth and development, too slow to see happening except in their results. One is necessary to the production of the other. For this reason, as the Chabad rebbitzin said of Thanksgiving, while not observing Christmas, I do appreciate it. If nothing else, it is an apt time for Jews to contemplate the mystery of what, in bringing the Christian faith into the world, exactly God had in mind.


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Daniel Mann

posted December 15, 2009 at 11:36 am


David,
Your instincts serve you well in writing, “Jesus spoke to his followers of their being “the light of the world,” and advised, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16). As an Orthodox Jew, I’m not unaware that this is exactly what God asked the Jews to be.”
Indeed, this too was expected of Israel. Moses wrote,
“Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deut. 4:6-8).
In general, there is profound continuity between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.



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Dan

posted December 15, 2009 at 12:51 pm


I find it interesting Christians celebrate the “birth” of an individual when they have no reliable, physical evidence for him ever existing. And the only data they can point to is an inconsistent collection of short stories and letters written decades and centuries after his supposed departure, which religious authorities later voted on and declared to be official manuscripts sent by a divine being.
Fascinating modern mythology, complete with all the rituals, too



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Daniel Mann

posted December 15, 2009 at 1:35 pm


Dan,
Ask any Orthodox Jew about the existence of Jesus and even His crucifixion! They will gladly attest to both these things!



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David Klinghoffer

posted December 15, 2009 at 1:37 pm


Yes, Daniel Mann is right. Trying to argue that Jesus didn’t even exist will not repay the effort.



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Dan

posted December 15, 2009 at 3:23 pm


And where, again, is the RELIABLE data, documents, and evidence describing the following (citing Pat Robertson or naive creationsists probably will violate the “reliable” part):
1) the virgin birth
2) walking on water
3) turning water in wine
4) healing the blind man
5) healing the bleeding woman
6) raising Lazarus from the dead
7) feeding the multitudes
8) the resurrection 3 days after the cruxification
BTW, I never said Jesus didn’t exist – I personlly accept the possibility that an apocalyptic Jewish prophet named “Jesus” from Nazareth, son of a carpenter, taught moral lessons, had fervent followers, and was crucified some 2000 years ago. These followers then fought to establish an exclusive, monotheistic religion, centered on Jesus’ teachings and ‘resurection’, in the face of paganism. They also looked to agree with interpretations of ancient Jewish scritptures and set out to generate their own holy books and canon, eventually voting in various texts and killing those in opposition. In the market place of ideas after a few hundred years, Christianity began to thrive, especially after Constantine became delusional – much like people today are delusional and think some diety or spirit tells them to do stuff – like go on a crusade for WMDs in Iraq, or drown their kids, or jump on Oprah’s sofa and describe their affection for Katie Holmes, or start a cult, etc, etc.
Also, where are all the great Jewish athletes? Jews also stand out in not sending soldiers to fight in the wars of its allies, despite all the aid and military equipment they’ve been given.



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Jonathan

posted December 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm


David,
I enjoyed your article and agree with much of it to the extent you’re discussing Judaism and Christianity in today’s America. The “classic” Jewish activities you mention are only true in relatively recent times. My grandparents remmebered a more difficult day in eastern Europe when it was better to stay at home with the doors and shutters closed. I’m sure they didn’t appreciate the day then.



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Jonathan

posted December 15, 2009 at 3:58 pm


One more quible. You note:
“Nobody who picked up our Scriptures with an open mind but zero background in Judaism or Christianity would ever read out of it the structure of traditional Jewish belief with which we are familiar. From the pages of our Bible, the teachings of the Talmud do not tumble forth effortlessly.”
This suggests that the Talmud was developed after the Bible. While the Talmud was written down after the Bible, the central ideas of the Talmud must have been from the same time as the Bible. There are many instances in the Bible that allude to a parallel oral tradition. The meaning of tefillin is one example.
Also, I think you’re talking about the minutae of modern practices. Even in the written Bible, with no consideration of the Talmud, many of our central practices are clear. I’m reading Tanakh now one page by page and I am frequently amazed how many still observed Jewish practices are clear in the text (at least to my biased eye).
On the other hand, you’re certainly right that many of the exacting details of Jewish practice would not be readily apparent to someone with no background.



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Your Name

posted December 15, 2009 at 4:59 pm


Dan, What are you talking about (“Jews also stand out in not sending soldiers to fight in the wars of its allies, despite all the aid and military equipment they’ve been given”)? Can you provide an example?
Mark Twain once made the same mistake and later apologized to the Jews. I hope you’ll do the same. Here is an excerpt from Twain: “When I published the above article in ‘Harper’s Monthly,’ I was ignorant –like the rest of the Christian world–of the fact that the Jew had a record as a soldier. I have since seen the official statistics, and I find that he furnished soldiers and high officers to the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War. In the Civil War he was represented in the armies and navies of both the North and the South by 10 per cent of his numerical strength–the same percentage that was furnished by the Christian populations of the two sections. This large fact means more than it seems to mean; for it means that the Jew’s patriotism was not merely level with the Christian’s, but overpassed it. When the Christian volunteer arrived in camp he got a welcome and applause, but as a rule the Jew got a snub. His company was not desired, and he was made to feel it. That he nevertheless conquered his wounded pride and sacrificed both that and his blood for his flag raises the average and quality of his patriotism above the Christian’s. His record for capacity, for fidelity, and for gallant soldiership in the field is as good as any one’s. This is true of the Jewish private soldiers and of the Jewish generals alike. Major-General O. O. Howard speaks of one of his Jewish staff officers as being ‘of the bravest and best;’ of another–killed at Chancellorsville –as being ‘a true friend and a brave officer;’ he highly praises two of his Jewish brigadier-generals; finally, he uses these strong words: ‘Intrinsically there are no more patriotic men to be found in the country than those who claim to be of Hebrew descent, and who served with me in parallel commands or more directly under my instructions.'” http://www.classicreader.com/book/3095/1/



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LazerA

posted December 15, 2009 at 10:48 pm


Daniel Mann wrote that “any Orthodox Jew” “will gladly attest” to the “existence of Jesus and even His crucifixion.” I have to disagree. While, as David points out, most Orthodox Jews will concede that he probably was a real historical figure, and he may have even been crucified by the Romans, they will not “attest” to such. To “attest” is to testify, to state – with the force of an oath – that one knows something to be true. No Orthodox Jew knows for certain that Jesus even existed, let alone any specific details of his life story.
There are a few – very few – brief (and very negative) references in the Talmud to figures who appears to superficially resemble the Christian Jesus. Upon serious examination, however, most of the similarities crumble. The individual will be in the wrong historical period, and have other major differences in his life story. It is far from certain that any of these figures is the Christian Jesus at all, let alone that, if one of them is the Christian Jesus, then we have major conflicts on basic aspects of his biography (including the crucifixion).



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Condition Of Anonymity

posted December 16, 2009 at 1:28 am


LazerA, this is not true, the Talmud is clear that Jesus did live at this time, unless you disagree in the Talmud?
Let us examine further some of these anti-Christ Talmud passages:
Gittin 57a. Says Jesus is in hell, being boiled in “hot excrement.”
Sanhedrin 43a. Says Jesus (“Yeshu” and in Soncino footnote #6, Yeshu “the Nazarene”) was executed because he practiced sorcery: “It is taught that on the eve of Passover Jesus was hung, and forty days before this the proclamation was made: Jesus is to be stoned to death because he has practiced sorcery and has lured the people to idolatry…He was an enticer and of such thou shalt not pity or condone.”
Kallah 51a.”The elders were once sitting in the gate when two young lads passed by; one covered his head and the other uncovered his head. Of him who uncovered his head Rabbi Eliezer remarked that he is a bastard. Rabbi Joshua remarked that he is the son of a niddah (a child conceived during a woman’s menstrual period). Rabbi Akiba said that he is both a bastard and a son of a niddah.
“They said,’What induced you to contradict the opinion of your colleagues?’ He replied, “I will prove it concerning him.” He went to the lad’s mother and found her sitting in the market selling beans.
“He said to her,’My daughter, if you will answer the question I will put to you, I will bring you to the world to come.'(eternal life). She said to him,’Swear it to me.’
“Rabbi Akiba, taking the oath with his lips but annulling it in his heart, said to her,’What is the status of your son?’ She replied,’When I entered the bridal chamber I was niddah (menstruating) and my husband kept away from me; but my best man had intercourse with me and this son was born to me.’
“It was declared,’..Blessed be the God of Israel Who Revealed His Secret to Rabbi Akiba…”
In addition to the theme that God rewards clever liars, the preceding Talmud discussion is actually about Jesus Christ (the bastard boy who “uncovered his head” and was conceived in the filth of menstruation). The boy’s adulterous mother in this Talmud story is the mother of Christ, Blessed Mary (called Miriam and sometimes, Miriam the hairdresser, in the Talmud).
“The Editio Princeps of the complete Code of Talmudic Law, Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah — replete not only with the most offensive precepts against all Gentiles but also with explicit attacks on Christianity and on Jesus (after whose name the author adds piously,’May the name of the wicked perish’)…–Dr. Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion, p. 21.
“The Talmud contains a few explicit references to Jesus…These references are certainly not complimentary…There seems little doubt that the account of the execution of Jesus on the eve of Passover does refer to the Christian Jesus…The passage in which Jesus’ punishment in hell is described also seems to refer to the Christian Jesus. It is a piece of anti-Christian polemic dating from the post-70 CE period…” –Hyam Maccoby, Judaism on Trial, pp. 26-27.



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Daniel Mann

posted December 16, 2009 at 6:49 am


Let me just add to this one passage expunged from the Talmud, acknowledging that Jesus was a miracle worker. It states that Jesus was able to perform his miracles because he cleverly retrieved from the Temple Holy Place the secret name of God and to deceive a guardian angel in the process.
Here’s another that survived the cut: “On the eve of the Passover Yesu was hanged…because he practiced sorcery and led Israel astray.” (Babylonian Talmud)
In fact, even the skeptical scholars of the Jesus Seminar affirmed the miracles of Jesus based upon the highly compelling historical evidence:
1. “On historical grounds it is virtually indisputable that Jesus was a healer and exorcist.” Marcus Borg
2. “Throughout his life, Jesus performed healings and exorcisms for ordinary people.” John Dominic Crossan



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Your Name

posted December 16, 2009 at 10:45 am


Why is it important whether Jesus is mentioned in a few places in the Talmud that was written after Jesus died? Judaism has a long history of men who were considered Messiahs by some of their followers at some time. That is not surpising given how often Jewish prayers call for the Moshiach to come. It is a fundmanetal Jewish belief that the Messiah will come and that we should be waiting for him every day.



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Daniel Mann

posted December 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm


“Why is it important whether Jesus is mentioned in a few places in the Talmud…Judaism has a long history of men who were considered Messiahs by some of their followers at some time.”
Yes, Israel has had its false Messiahs. However, the reason that the question of Jesus should be of paramount interest to the “Children of Abraham” is that he might have been our promised Messiah. One thing that should give us some concern are the prophecies that point to this tragedy – that we would reject our Messiah:
• Zech. 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”
• Isaiah 53:3-6 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
• Psalm 118:22-24 The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
• Isaiah 8:14 and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
• Isaiah 49:6-7 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” This is what the LORD says–the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel–to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation [of Israel], to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
However, I feel that I need to place these verses within the context of the entire revelation of God, lest anti-Semites manipulate these verses for the purpose of hate and the denigration of Israel. God’s rejection of Israel is only temporary:
? Hosea 1:9-11 Then the LORD said, “Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.” Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited…
? Isaiah 49:14-17 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Your sons hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.
• Romans 11:25-29 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.



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LazerA

posted December 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm


These quotes are anti-semitic staples that can be found repeated over and over again on websites of this sort. Virtually all of it is based upon based upon extremely biased “scholarship”, and the virulently anti-Jewish writings of people like Israel Shahak (who is neither competent nor honest in his writings about Judaism). There is a vast amount of absolutely ridiculous material about the Talmud, and especially Jesus and the Talmud, circulating online.
A good source for this topic is Rabbi Gil Student’s website, http://www.angelfire.com/mt/talmud/. He deals at length with the supposed “Jesus in the Talmud” sources, as well as other standard anti-Talmud canards.
The “Jesus” figure described in Sanhedrin lived about a century before the Jesus of the New Testament, was executed by a Jewish court (not by the Romans), and is described as having powerful friends in the government (forcing the court to handle his case with unusual leniency). So, is this the same person as the Christian Jesus? Almost certainly not.
Similar problems exist with virtually every other such “Jesus” reference in the Talmud. The fact is that “Jesus” (and Anglicized version of the common Hebrew name Yehoshua and its related nickname, Yeshu) was a commonplace name in Talmudic times (a period lasting several centuries. The fact that there is a reference to a heretical figure with that name does not mean that one can immediately assume it is the Christian Jesus.



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James O'Brien

posted December 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm


This is the first time I have read and posted anything on this site. It is very interesting to see the thought lines and discussion I see here.
Raised as a Catholic I had little exposure to the bible but as an adult I have pondered the same verses you have and of course from the Christian perspective. It is to Christians a wonder that Jews don’t all come to believe as we do. Paul writes as quoted on this site that God has kept the Jews blinded for our sakes. This should keep us humble. We (Christians) are much in debt to our Jewish frinds and not in anyway superior. At the same time, God has a way of evening things out and it is another wonder. Perhaps this is a case of the first shall be last and the last shall be first.



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Jonathan

posted December 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm


In response to your comment “It is to Christians a wonder that Jews don’t all come to believe as we do”, I highly recommend David Klinghoffer’s book “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus”. From a Jewish perspective, the answer is easy–Jesus did not meet the criteria for the Jewish Messiah based on the Torah. You are likely reading the “Old Testament” though the lens of Christianity. That’s understandable. You have to try to imagine what it would be like to measure Jesus against the Torah standards if all you had was the Torah (written and oral) and the events of that time, without the subsequent 2000 years of Christian theology. Again, I think David’s book would provide for perspective.



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leora

posted December 16, 2009 at 7:14 pm


Beautiful post.



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Gary Bell

posted December 16, 2009 at 8:31 pm


David, there was some deep thought put into your post, and you looked at some key issues between the Christian view and the Jewish view. I appreciated it.



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Adam Baker

posted December 19, 2009 at 9:25 am


On Christian interpretations of the Hebrew Bible, I would commend the writings of N.T. Wright, who is quite well versed in the Jewish religious and secular literature that formed the backdrop within which the Christian New Testament was written.
I would also suggest that subsequent interpretations of facts is often better than earlier interpretations. How do we interpret the European political situation leading up to 1914? Solely through the triumphalistic “peace for our time”-type writings that dominated the late modern period, or through the devastating conflict that followed? It’s unfortunately a negative parallel, but if God did unite Himself to humanity (!), wouldn’t that suggest that we interpret everything backward (and forward) from that cataclysmic event, rather than holding on to earlier understandings of texts?



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Your Name

posted December 20, 2009 at 12:10 am


Dear James: I always cringe when I read statements such as yours — “Raised as a Catholic I had little exposure to the bible.” First, please, for not just you but Catholics everywhere,it’s Bible, with a capital B, out of respect for the book and English writing standards. Second, you must be sleeping through Mass if you haven’t noticed that the first half of every service is devoted to Scripture (the Bible). Third, did you never have the least desire to simply pick it up and just read it? If it’s inspired by God and one of the pillars of your faith, why should you wait for the Church to force you to examine it? Please, and I mean this in all respect and seriousness, if your faith means that little to you, consider not calling yourself Catholic or even Christian anymore. Call yourself something that means something to you, like, perhaps, Irish.



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