Skip to comments.Jesus the Jew
Posted on 11/06/2001 10:13:10 AM PST by JMJ333
*I know this is an extremely old article [I dug it out of the back of my closet} but it is well worth the read.
Jesus was a committed Jew of his day. And to truly understand Jesus, we need a solid background in Jewish religious, social, and political history.
Jesus, a rural Jew, lived in Galilee, in the northern part of Palestine. And in Jesus day, Galilee was divided into an upper and lower region. The lower region, where Jesus lived was a rich valley that stretched from the Mediterranean to the sea of Galilee, a distance of about 25 miles.
As far as we know, in Jesus' time there were four principle Jewish sects: The Essenes, the Zealots, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees.
The Essenes, whose name may come from an Arabaic word meaning "pious," had already withdrawn from Jerusalem and Temple participation by the time of Jesus. In isolated monastic communities established in the Judean wilderness, they studied scriptures and developed a rule of life. Essenes were known for their piety--daily prayer, prayer before and after meals, strict observation of the Sabbath, daily ritual bathing, emphasis on chastity and celibacy, wearing white robes as a symbol of spiritual purity, and sharing communal meals and property. Nowhere in the Gospels, however, is Jesus presented as adhering to the Essenes way of life.
Jesus was not a zealot either. Zealots were Jews who vehemently opposed the Roman occupation of Palestine. But there is no evidence in any of Jesus' teachings that he encouraged revolt against Rome.
Jesus also was clearly set apart from the Sadducees, whose name in Hebrew means "Righteous ones." These Jews believed in a strict interpretation of the Torah and did not believe in life after death. Jesus, of course believed in bodily resurrection (Mark 12:18-27)
Contrary to common understanding, Jesus may well have been close to the Pharisees, even if he did debate them vigorously. Many of Jesus' teachings and much of his style was similar to theirs. To understand this, we need to compare the central teachings of the Pharisees to Jesus' teachings.
The Pharisees were a lay reform group within Judaism. The name Pharisee itself means "separate ones" in Hebrew, which refers to a ritual observance of purity and tithing; the word Pharisee can also be translated as "The interpreter," referring to this group's unique interpretation of Hebrew scripture.
As reformers, the Pharisees did not oppose Roman occupation; rather their focus was on reforming the temple, especially with respect to its liturgical practices and priests. And the Pharisees turned their attention toward strengthening Jewish devotion to the Torah, which, they said, had to be continually readjusted within the framework of the contemporary Jewish community. While the Pharisees insisted that the 613 commandments found in the written Torah remained in effect, the commandments had to be carefully rethought in light of new human needs.
The temple priests, though, looked upon the precepts of the Torah more literally and primarily in terms of sacrificial observances at the Temple. The Pharisees, on the other hand, taught that every ordinary human action could become sacred--an act of worship. Doing a "good deed" for another human, a "mitzvah" in Hebrew, was accorded a status that in some ways, surpassed Temple worship. This was truly a revolution in religious thinking.
In addition, a new religious figure in Judaism--the teacher--or Rabbi--emerged within the Pharisaic movement. For their part, rabbis fulfilled a twofold role in the community: They served as interpreters of the Torah and, more importantly, they helped make its teachings relevant. Their principle task was instructional, not liturgical.
From the Pharisaic reform emerged what was later called the synagogue ("assembly of people"). The synagogue became the center of this movement, which quickly spread throughout Palestine and the cities of Jewish Diaspora. Unlike the Jerusalem Temple, the synagogues were not places where priests presided and sacrifices were offered; rather they were places where the Torah was studied, rabbis offered interpretations, and prayers were said. Thus, synagogues became not merely "houses of God" but far more "houses of the people of God."
The Pharisee also emphasized table fellowship--a way of strengthening relationships within a community. In the eyes of the Pharisees, the Temple altar in Jerusalem could be replicated at every table in the household of Israel. A quiet but far reaching reform was at hand. There was no longer any basis for assigning to the priestly class a unique level of authority.
The Pharisees saw God not only as creator, giver of the Covenant, and much more, but in a special way, as the Parent of each individual. Everyone had the right to address God in a direct and personal way, not simply through the temple sacrifices offered by the priests.
The Pharisees also believed in resurrection. Those whose lives were marked by justice would rise once the Messiah had come. Then they would enjoy perpetual union with God.
There is little doubt, then, that Jesus and the Pharisees shared many central convictions. The first was their basic approach to God as a parent figure. In story after story in the Gospels, Jesus addresses God in this way. And Jesus' central prayer begins by invoking God as "Our Father" (Matt. 6: 9-13). The effect of this emphasis was fundamentally the same for Jesus as for the Pharisees (although Jesus had a unique position as God's "Only begotten Son"). More than anything, this approach led to both an enhanced appreciation of the dignity of every person and ultimately to the notion of resurrection--and perpetual union with God.
Jesus' own public stance closely paralleled the evolving role of the Pharisaic teacher. Jesus on a number of occasions in the Gospels are filled with examples of Jesus teaching in synagogues.
Jesus clearly picked up on another central feature of Pharisaism as well, that of the oral Torah, which refers to interpretations given by the Pharisees to various Torah texts. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus offers interpretations of Scripture quite similar to those of the Pharisees.
Finally, Jesus also embraced the table fellowship notion of Pharisaism. The meal narratives in the New Testament are an example of this. In the end, He selected table fellowship for a critical of his ministry, the celebration of the first Eucharist.
Then why, in the Gospels, do the Pharisees appear as the archenemies of Jesus? Here is gets complicated. For one thing, some Pharisees were praised by Jesus (for example the scribe of Mark 12:32). And we know that Jesus ate with Pharisees (Luke 7:36; 14:1).
But there was still conflict between the Pharisees and Jesus, nevertheless. And here scholarship offers three possible explanations.
The first sees Jesus and his teachings as quite similar to the Pharisees. The animosity in the Gospel results from subsequent interpretations of Jesus' action. For example, Jesus' practicing healing on the Sabbath or his disciples picking grain in the holy day were actions clearly not supported by the Pharisees.
Another possible explanation results from our enhanced understanding of the Talmud, the collected teachings of the Pharisees and their rabbinic heirs. In the Talmud are references to some seven categories of Pharisees, which clearly shows that the Pharisaical movement encompassed a wide range of viewpoints and, more important, that internal disputes, often of the heated variety, were quite common. The Gospel portraits of Jesus disputing with the "Pharisees" were examples of "hot debates" that were common in the Pharisaic circles rather than examples of Jesus condemning the Pharisees.
A third scholarly approach stresses positive connection between Jesus' central teachings and those of the Pharisees. In light of these, one becomes suspicious about the so-called texts of conflict. Surely Jesus would not denounce a movement with which he had so much in common.
Hence, either Jesus was speaking in a very limited context, or what are commonly called "the conflict stories" represent religious tensions existing in the latter part of the first century when the gospels were written. The Christian community--now formally expelled from the synagogues--was engaged in intense competition for Jewish converts. The New Testament statements about conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees may reflect that competition.
Regardless, one fact remains. Jesus' own Bible was the Hebrew Scriptures. His attitude toward the sacred writings is summed up in the assertion "Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish the Law but fulfill (Matt. 5:17).
On the whole, Jesus' teachings were wither literally biblical or filtered through the Pharisaic use of the scripture, or both.
The way the Pharisee and Jesus used the Hebrew Scriptures becomes more clear when Jesus argues his position by using so-called "proof-texts." Here, Jesus quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures to prove a point or refute a critic (See the Sermon on the Mount Matt 5, 6, & 7). In such instances, Jesus was drawing on a technique used by the Pharisees in trying to make a point.
The "Proof-Texting" that Jesus used did, at times, pit him against the Pharisees--such as when He challenged certain claims they made about the unwritten law and called them hypocrites for placing higher value on teachings of humans than of God (Matt. 23: 1-36).; such as when He used scripture to refute the Pharisaic teachings about plucking grain on the Sabbath (Matt 12: 1-8). or unwashed hands (Matt. 15:20).
At other times though, Jesus' "proof-texting" placed him on the side of the Pharisees. Once in an impressive debate with the Saduccees, He used Hebrew scripture to reinforce his belief, and that oft he Pharisees, in an afterlife. Jesus was so impressive he won the Pharisees' applause (Matt. 22: 23-33).
Possibly the best example we have of Jesus' use of Hebrew Scriptures is his teaching on love. "Teacher," one Pharisee asked, "which commandment is greatest?" And Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronamy 6:5, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment" (Matt. 22: 36-39). Them Jesus went on quoting Leviticus 19:18, "The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." In brief, Jesus was proof-texting his answer.
Jesus' use of the Hebrew Scriptures, therefore, was unabashedly Jewish. And it was similar to that of his contemporaries, particularly the philosophy of the Pharisees.
Knowing and appreciating the Jewish origins has at least three advantages: First, it helps us revise negative understandings of the Pharisees. It also helps us to avoid anti-Semitism. Finally, it allows us to better appreciate the Jewish roots of Christianity. Ultimately, understanding Jesus as a Jew will help us to better understand both our own faith and that of the contemporary Jews.
Not quite accurate. First of all, the Jews did execute....'stoning' and beheading. The Jews had control over 'religious' problems... the Romans had control over 'state' problems. This would indicate that Jesus was seen as more of a STATE problem (declaring himself 'King'). This would be seen as TREASON and its punishment was the most harsh...crucifixion (a gentile death), reserved for offenses against the STATE. The Romans were not concerned if Jews blasphemed as in the alledged case of Jesus declaring himself God.... the Romans called themselves Gods all the time.... nope, the crucifixion wasn't about Jesus declaring himself God, it was because of the 'King' of the Jews statement. He was seen as a threat to the government.
See post #120. JMJ333 explained it better than I could, that the "assignment" doesn't belong to me or to you. So using human "weapons" such as logic and reason isn't going to convert the infidel (Moslems, in this case). If you're so worried about Moslems taking over the world, they won't be as successful against strong Christians, only the spiritually weak.
Did you know they have the skull of Magdalene in France?
Who is the "they" that supposedly have a human skull that is attributed to Mary Magdalene? The Syrians supposedly have the head of John the Baptist in a mosque that used to be a church. What good is a skull going to do you, as far as your salvation is concerned? John the Baptist's head isn't what is important, it is the example of his life that's important. The Gospel is more important than human body parts. The Spirit is more important.
What does any of this have to do with what I said? If this is your response, you either didn't read what I wrote or just don't get it.
Which is precisely what I accuse you of. You reject or figurize what you don't like, and take literally what is meant to be a symbol.
Nothing new about it, Hal Lindsey has been doing it for years, but I guess he is just a newcomer to the practice.
It's in a church near Marseille. "They" trot it out every year in a public parade.
Just a quick read of Genesis confirms what you are saying. It is truly one of the lost messages of contemporary theology, and as a result, of contemporary politics.
Your choice of words is very telling. C'mon, say it with me, I'll help you--Ch-ch-ch-chris-christ-christians! There, that wasn't so hard was it?
Yes, that is why Yeshua taught from it.
Since there are quite a few verses from the OT that speak of God's enemies, and these same verses matched up with Jesus, is this why so many Jews were opposed to Jesus as the messiah?
Your post deserves a more careful read than the one I can give it at work. I have read all of these scriptures before and have never noticed that G-d's enemies resemble Yeshua in any way. It is possible that I missed the connection. It is also possible (probable?) that you have missed some important points that distinguish Yeshua from the enemies of G-d.
Because he fit so many of the verses speaking of God's enemies?
I will let you know. From what I have seen so far, though, it is more because the Pharisees did.
I have, and it is my contention that the Jewish understanding of the messiah is the correct one. As one example, there is nowhere in the Hebrew scriptures any suggestion that the messiah will come more than once.
The old covenant was broken by the Jews, and fulfilled in Jesus. All you have to do is search your own scriptures.
You look at the Hebrew scriptures, and see Jesus fulfilling them, because that is what you expect to find there. In Deuteronomy 28 and 29, God tells the Israelites all that will happen to them if they violate the Covenant. But then in Chapter 30 He says:
 "And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you,
 and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you this day, with all your heart and with all your soul;
 then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes, and have compassion upon you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.
 If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will fetch you;
 and the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, that you may possess it; and he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.
 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
 And the LORD your God will put all these curses upon your foes and enemies who persecuted you.
 And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD, and keep all his commandments which I command you this day.
 The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground; for the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers (Deuteronomy 30:1-9)
Even after Israel violates the Covenant, even after God punishes them for their violation, when we turn back to God and His Law, He will forgive us, bless us and restore us. The Covenant was not and can never be broken.
Jesus said that if you were faithful to the Law, you would know and believe Him. It isn't just Jesus you reject.
Yes it is. It is precisely Jesus as divine messiah that I reject.
It is your own Law and your own prophets you reject.
You may think so, but you would be wrong.
I am sure it does. And others need to know that the so-called "friends" are nothing else but useful idiots to the Israelis, because the sole basis of the "friendship" are the beliefs that Jews don't share with them.
Jews are not any less guilty of selective interpretation of scripture than anybody else. This is a 2000 year old argument. Of course, the Jews of Jesus' day wouldn't have had a problem with Jesus if they believed He was the Messiah! None of us are experts here. If one side can quote Scripture to support his own belief, there's nothing stopping the other side from doing the very same thing. As I said, this is a 2000 year old argument and it's going to get none of us anywhere.
If Jesus is not the Messiah, then Jews shouldn't be treating him with any respect at all, because a gifted, learned and respected man like him who went around calling himself the son of God would have been a complete loony, not to mention a heretic, and it would be wrong to say he was a great teacher, if he was in fact a heretic. (This is the C.S. Lewis argument, from Mere Christianity) If Jesus is the Messiah, then all the Scripture-quoting and debunking in the world can't make him NOT the Messiah. Either He is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, Lamb of God, etc. or He isn't. That was the argument then, just like it is now. Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah, most Jews don't. I believe Jesus is the Messiah as foretold in the Scriptures. I don't know why I believe while others don't. I don't even know why I butted in, except maybe to point out that "proving" it one way or the other is futile, but I felt the need to get it off my chest.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Hebrew scriptures contain numerous examples of atonement by means other than blood sacrifice. The passage which the epistle to the Hebrews takes out of context actually has nothing to do with atonement! It is about dietary laws.
So I ask you once again, produce ONE verse that shows how the OT sacrificial system has been changed, or been done away with ? Rabbi's have tried, but to no avail.
Rabbis have tried and failed, huh? Yeah, right.
This is really not that difficult. God commanded that sacrifices be offered only at the place(s) He commanded. The last place so designated was the Temple in Jerusalem. In the absence of the Temple, there is no place for sacrifices to licitly be offered. It would be an act of disobedience for Jews to try to offer sacrifice at a place other than where God commanded they be done.
You think Jesus was the 'perfect sacrifice'? Sacrifices were supposed to be physically unblemished; Jesus had been scourged. Sacrifices were only allowed to be performed in the Temple. Jesus was crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem. Human sacrifice was forbidden by the Torah. Furthermore, no one can atone for the sins of another:
The person who sins, he alone shall die. A child shall not share
the burden of a parents guilt, nor shall a parent share the
burden of a childs guilt; the righteousness of the righteous
shall be accounted to him alone, and the wickedness of the wicked
shall be accounted to him alone.
Moreover, if the wicked one repents of all the sins that he
committed and keeps all My laws and does what is just and right,
he shall not die. None of the transgressions he committed shall
be remembered against him; because of the righteousness he has
practiced, he shall live. Is it my desire that a wicked person
shall die?--says the Lord God. It is rather that he shall turn
back from his ways and live. (Ezekiel 18:20-23)
Explain to me how Jesus was of the line of David.
I guess I cloud go through life hating everyone, but I don't see the point.
The article didn't mention...There were two types of Pharisaism in the days of Jesus...
Actually, it said there was a variety of differing viewpoints within Pharisaism, but it focused on the one most similar to Jesus' teaching, and where he may have drawn upon those teachings and incorporated them into his own style.
to: TwoHouse, I don't understand your point at all. It doesn't seem logical or correct.
Israel was the name given to Jacob. Israel's (Jacob's) 12 sons each became one of the 12 tribes of Israel. One of Israel's sons was Judah. From Judah came the Jews. Hence, The House of Israel includes the House of Judah, so obviously the House of Israel includes the Jews. They are not "seperate entities" at all. The House of Judah is a subset of the House of Israel, whom The Lord called "The Children of Israel" in Exodus, for example.
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