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Jesus the Jew
March issue, 1995 pages 1-6 [I typed it in.] | Arthur Zamboni----Catholic Digest--condensed from Catholic Update

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The Essenes, whose name may come from an Arabaic word meaning "pious," had already withdrawn from Jerusalem and Temple participation by the time of Jesus.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.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
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To: ArGee
Acts 2:22 "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:"

A man. Was Paul wrong?

281 posted on 11/13/2001 7:05:34 AM PST by ET(end tyranny)
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To: ET(end tyranny)
NO! I do not think that the psalmist was calling God wicked! Sheesh.

Then I missed your point about the reference to Psalm 82. Would you please make it again? How does Yeshua's reference to Psalm 82 apply at all to the discussion of the archetypes?


282 posted on 11/13/2001 7:15:14 AM PST by ArGee
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To: ET(end tyranny)
A man. Was Paul wrong?

First, Paul was not in the story in Acts 2. That would be Peter. But that is a small point.

Peter was not wrong. Yeshua is man.

Peter was also not wrong in his letter. 1 Peter 3:21-22 "... It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him." or again in 2 Pet 1:1 "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:" or even in Acts 2:21 and in Acts 4:12 where he calls Yeshua 'savior'. Any good Jew would know that G-d has declared that he is the only savior.


283 posted on 11/13/2001 7:26:37 AM PST by ArGee
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To: ET(end tyranny)
You keep attacking me, by saying that I am attacking.

Call it an accusation. I described a method of attack and distinguished it from an honest attempt at understanding. I pointed out that you were using this method of attack. If this is your approach to gaining a better understanding, as opposed to an attack, I apologize for the false accusation.

I submit that it isn't the best method.


284 posted on 11/13/2001 7:28:58 AM PST by ArGee
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To: ArGee
By implying/saying that he was God.
285 posted on 11/13/2001 7:29:37 AM PST by ET(end tyranny)
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To: JMJ333; biblewonk
And to truly understand Jesus, we need a solid background in Jewish religious, social, and political history.

Start with the Holy Bible. It's all about Him, including the Old Testament.


286 posted on 11/13/2001 7:36:11 AM PST by newgeezer
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To: ArGee
And I explained to you that things are entwined. Sometimes one has to look at the BIG picture, like the many correlating verses. One verse alone doesn't do it and can be brushed off, but so many?????

There are many things entwined/overlapped. It was done so on purpose. Its difficult enough to spot them and extricate them, much less discuss them.

I tried to post them in the best manner possible, so that each would not be lost while looking at the whole.

287 posted on 11/13/2001 7:38:11 AM PST by ET(end tyranny)
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To: newgeezer
Unfortunately, there is a lot missing from the Bible. One needs to ask, why?
288 posted on 11/13/2001 7:40:08 AM PST by ET(end tyranny)
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To: f.Christian
buggy whips in the Amish religion forever too!


289 posted on 11/13/2001 8:13:47 AM PST by AmishDude
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To: ET(end tyranny)
Unfortunately, there is a lot missing from the Bible. One needs to ask, why?

"A lot missing," eh? Granted, there are precious few recipes for zucchini squash in there, but I don't wonder why.

Or, maybe I missed your point.

290 posted on 11/13/2001 8:48:40 AM PST by newgeezer
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To: ET(end tyranny)
By implying/saying that he was God.

OK, for the sake of argument, that would only be a problem if it were not true, correct? The reason Psalm 82 calls the people wicked is because they were elevating themselves to the position of G-d without actually being G-d. If Yeshua were actually G-d, then there would be no problem with this, right?

Did you ever see Miracle on 34th street? Do you remember when the Lawyer for Kris said to the judge something like, "Claiming to be Santa Claus would only make one insane if one were not, in fact, Santa Claus." He then went on to prove that Kris was, in fact, Santa Claus and therefore not insane.

I know that you do not accept that Yeshua is G-d. But you can not prove that Yeshua is not G-d by telling us that only people who are enemies of G-d claim to be G-d. G-d also claims to be G-d and He is not His own enemy, nor is He blaspheming. So that logic falls apart. You must first prove that Yeshua was not G-d. Then you can prove that He was blaspheming and, by extension, an enemy of G-d.


291 posted on 11/13/2001 9:34:47 AM PST by ArGee
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To: ET(end tyranny)
I tried to post them in the best manner possible, so that each would not be lost while looking at the whole.

I apologize for the mischaracterization. I don't see them as so entertwined. But you now seem to be willing to stick to the archetypes question. Now you still have to answer my question to you. Can you not see that the archetypes of the enemies of G-d have the one thing in common, self exaltation? And doesn't it make sense to look to this one common point, the pride that G-d talks about all through the Tanak, as the reason they were G-d's enemies, and not the trivial issues like how they died or how they were buried?


292 posted on 11/13/2001 9:38:41 AM PST by ArGee
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To: newgeezer; JMJ333
Start with the Holy Bible. It's all about Him, including the Old Testament.

The point is you can understand the Holy Bible better, especially the New Testament, by remembering that almost all the authors were Jewish. To really dig deeply into the Bible, you must understand the times and the writers, not just the words.


293 posted on 11/13/2001 9:40:25 AM PST by ArGee
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To: TwoHouse
They had become GENTILES!!!!

I think it's impossible for any Hebrew to become a heathen. I don't think you'll find scriptual support for the above statement.


This also contradicts your premise that Israelites had become gentiles. Gentiles didn't have a covenant with God, unless they were circumcised. The Mosaic covenant, (and those under it) had to be dealt with before the New covenant (grace) could take affect for both Jews/Gentiles.

you will see GOD'S PLAN and how the prophecy ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED is going to play out.

There's a physical Israel (Hebrews), and then there is the Israel of God (body).

295 posted on 11/21/2001 5:40:45 PM PST by Dallas
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To: WTSherman4
>where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty.

There is no biblical basis whatever on which to believe this. Nice Sunday School myth, but no documentation. In fact, there is much more basis to believe he traveled extensively during those years.

> He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place he was born.

Again, not a shred of evidence, and no Biblical basis ...

>When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

MUCH more than a friend. Joseph of Arimethia was big time politician, member of the Sanhredrin, and a major shipowner and importer of tin and other products from the west of England. He was also probably Jesus Uncle, a brother of his Mother. These were not poor folks, and Jesus did not grow up among the poor. He later assumed poverty to send a message, but then he had all the power of the universe behind him, and could call down Angeles to help if he chose.

296 posted on 11/22/2001 12:11:30 PM PST by skraeling
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To: Nephi
...or the House of Israel's (represented by the only remaining tribe - Judah, at the time of Christ...)

You persist in the same error. The tribe of Judah was NEVER part of the House of Israel. It was part of the House of Judah. All 12 Tribes were ISRAELITES, but only the 10 "Lost Tribes" were designated House of Israel.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not Jews, but were Hebrews. Some Jews are Hebrews, but not all Hebrews are Jews.

Where then were these "Lost Tribes" at the time of Christs arrival? Enlightenment is only a click away, at my Profile.

297 posted on 11/22/2001 12:31:09 PM PST by LostTribe
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Comment #298 Removed by Moderator

Comment #299 Removed by Moderator

To: LostTribe
You persist in the same error. The tribe of Judah was NEVER part of the House of Israel.

Geez, talk about revisionist history...Name the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel without naming Judah.

All 12 Tribes were ISRAELITES, but only the 10 "Lost Tribes" were designated House of Israel

Not true. The tribe of Judah might not have been lost, but it was part of the House of Israel and was scattered. I'd love to see the contortions you'll need to master in order to disregard David's many references to the House of Israel in Samuel, let alone the many references in Exodus, Leviticus, etc. Lastly, you'll have a hard time convincing people that Jews would worship from a book that clearly shows G_d's preference for the House of Israel over the "House of Judah" (sic).

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not Jews, but were Hebrews. Some Jews are Hebrews, but not all Hebrews are Jews.


Where then were these "Lost Tribes" at the time of Christs arrival? Enlightenment is only a click away, at my Profile.

No need - you have amply demonstrated your confusion.

300 posted on 12/12/2001 12:33:29 PM PST by Nephi
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