In memoriam Eyal, Gilad and Naftali

by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/in-memoriam-eyal-gilad-and-naftali/)

3heroes

This past Shabbat we read the parsha of Chukkat with its almost incomprehensible commandment of the red heifer whose ashes mixed with “living water” purified those who had been in contact with death so that they could enter the Mishkan, symbolic home of the glory of God. Almost incomprehensible but not entirely so.

The mitzvah of the parah adumah, the red heifer, was a protest against the religions of the ancient world that glorified death. Death for the Egyptians was the realm of the spirits and the gods. The pyramids were places where, it was believed, the spirit of the dead Pharaoh ascended to heaven and joined the immortals.

The single most striking thing about the Torah and Tanakh in general is its almost total silence on life after death. We believe in it profoundly. We believe in olam haba (the world to come), Gan Eden (paradise), and techiyat hametim (the resurrection of the dead). Yet Tanakh speaks about these things only sparingly and by allusion. Why so?

Because too intense a focus on heaven is capable of justifying every kind of evil on earth. There was a time when Jews were burned at the stake, so their murderers said, in order to save their immortal souls. Every injustice on earth, every act of violence, even suicide bombings, can be theoretically defended on the grounds that true justice is reserved for life after death.

Against this Judaism protests with every sinew of its soul, every fibre of its faith. Life is sacred. Death defiles. God is the God of life to be found only by consecrating life. Even King David was told by God that he would not be permitted to build the Temple because dam larov shafachta, “you have shed much blood.”

Judaism is supremely a religion of life. That is the logic of the Torah’s principle that those who have had even the slightest contact with death need purification before they may enter sacred space. The parah adumah, the rite of the red heifer, delivered this message in the most dramatic possible way. It said, in effect, that everything that lives – even a heifer that never bore the yoke, even red, the colour of blood which is the symbol of life – may one day turn to ash, but that ash must be dissolved in the waters of life. God lives in life. God must never be associated with death.

Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were killed by people who believed in death. Too often in the past Jews were victims of people who practised hate in the name of the God of love, cruelty in the name of the God of compassion, and murder in the name of the God of life. It is shocking to the very depths of humanity that this still continues to this day.

Never was there a more pointed contrast than, on the one hand, these young men who dedicated their lives to study and to peace, and on the other the revelation that other young men, even from Europe, have become radicalised into violence in the name of God and are now committing murder in His name. That is the difference between a culture of life and one of death, and this has become the battle of our time, not only in Israel but in Syria, in Iraq, in Nigeria and elsewhere. Whole societies are being torn to shreds by people practising violence in the name of God.

Against this we must never forget the simple truth that those who begin by practising violence against their enemies end by committing it against their fellow believers. The verdict of history is that cultures that worship death, die, while those that sanctify life, live on. That is why Judaism survives while the great empires that sought its destruction were themselves destroyed.

Our tears go out to the families of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. We are with them in grief. We will neither forget the young victims nor what they lived for: the right that everyone on earth should enjoy, to live a life of faith without fear.

Bila hamavet lanetzach: “May He destroy death forever, and may the Lord God wipe away the tears from all faces.” May the God of life, in whose image we are, teach all humanity to serve Him by sanctifying life

Do not like it or cannot answer it. Just delete it!!

ImageIn the above we have a confessional by Derek Leman which is supported by one of his own Christian Buddies in a book  called “How God became Jesus, a response to Bart D. Ehrman. The book co-authored by Michael F. Bird , Craig A. Evans , Simon Gathercole , Charles E. Hill  and Chris Tilling.

Derek was so uncomfortable with the above comment and others he just deleted them! Possibly he was uncomfortable with them because after all he was promoting his own book ‘divine messiah’ and you cannot let facts get in the way of book sales. Facts he chooses to ignore includes the activities of G-d’s son Israel, G-d’s servant Israel and Israel described collectively as the son of man.

The activities of G-d’s son Israel and G-d’s servant Israel is further explained in terms of Israel described collectively as the son of man. In the 7th chapter of the book of Daniel, we learn of a prophetic vision granted to Daniel. He tells us of four great beasts rising out of the sea, one after another. After describing each of the four beasts Daniel sees “one like a son of man (כבר אנש Aramaic) coming with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13). Nearly all Christians do not entertain the slightest doubt that this verse is talking of their messiah Jesus! Indeed, they will even selectively quote that Jewish commentators like Rashi, who says that this verse is speaking of the King `moshiac’ (משיח Hebrew). To the Christian mindset `moshiac’ and `messiah’ are understood as interchangeable and are equivalent terms! A look at Daniel 7 shows that the Hebrew word `moshiac’ cannot appear anywhere in Daniel 7 because Daniel 7 is in Aramaic. The term `one like a son of man (כבר אנש Aramaic)’ is found in Dan 7:13.

Dan 7:13 is one of the few passages in scripture that comes along with a commentary. The commentary is Daniel 7 itself and the commentary informs us who the “son of man” is in Daniel 7:13! The commentary informs us that after Daniel had seen the vision he approaches an angel and asks for a clarification of all that he had seen (7:16). The angel replies that the four beasts represented four kingdoms, and the final dominion will be given to the “holy ones of the most high” (7:18) – a reference to the nation of Israel. The angel elaborates further by telling us that the dominion under all of the heavens is given to “the nation of holy ones of the most high” (7:27) – again a clear reference to the nation of Israel. According to the angel, each of the beasts represents a different kingdom, while the son of man in Daniel’s vision represents Israel. Can a man represent a kingdom/ people? Speaking of Babylon; “and four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first [was] like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man (כאנש), and a man’s (אנש) heart was given to it. (Dan 7:4, 5)

The history and account of the activities of G-d’s son Israel, G-d’s servant Israel and Israel as the son of man is the context of scripture in stark contrast to what comes later. What comes later is the introduction of an idea of a world thick with angels, demons, a devil, cosmic powers, and numberless semi-divinities weaved into how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus. The idea further including the notion of God’s exclusive one and only Son and the singular son of man which eclipses and supersedes the context of scripture as summarized by the creed of Nicea. The idea of how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus is so significant to Paul that he counts all things [his own cultural background and a pharisee] but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, Phil 3:8. A recent blurb for a book “Divine Messiah” by Derek Leman readily admits the new innovation of the “Divine Messiah”:

“In the early half of the first century, it happened so suddenly that there are no records of the way the innovation came about. The early community of Yeshua-followers started believing and practicing something beyond any previous concept. The Divine Messiah realization can be described from two perspectives, from below and from above. From below, it is the recognition that one who appeared to have been a teacher and miraculous messianic figure was actually someone much more exalted. From above, it is the realization that God and Messiah are different and yet utterly one in nature.”

The difference between how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus makes for interesting reading, however, the context of scripture, i.e. Israel is unwittingly ignored and instead replaced by the innovation of the “Divine Messiah”. To add further to the confusion is Paul’s new thinking which includes the notion of an “Israel “after the flesh” (i.e., the Jewish people), non-Jews whom he calls “the nations,” (i.e., Gentiles) and a new people called “the church of God” made of all those whom he designates as “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:32). In contrast to Paul’s new thinking is the already established idea of humanity divided as “Israel and the nations”. What divides Paul from the already established idea of humanity divided as “Israel and the nations” is his insistence that God’s justifying forgiveness is only extended to those who accept his Divine Christ faith. Paul’s insistence is regardless of the difference between how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus. The stark contrast to Paul’s insistence are the parts of the New Testament attributed to Jesus whom Paul never met, which appear to have missed the efforts of the redactors of the New Testament. Jesus affirmed the oneness of G-d and upheld the commandments of the Torah as the way to eternal life in contradistinction to the Pauline invention of belief in the Divine Messiah alone:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, `Love your neighbour as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10

Infamous Aliyahs, Davening Mincha & Me$$y Fraud

It used to be that when someone presented himself to you as a Jew, there would be no reason to question it. Although I am more wary these days, for a number of reasons, this past week – I was duped.

A bearded gentlemen, donning Talleth and Tefilin, showed up at our “Power Minyan.” He was wearing a plastic hospital bracelet, and said that his wife just had a baby girl and he would like to name the girl during the Keriat haTorah.

We obliged.

The man read the berachot flawlessly and gave us his wife’s name and the name of the new baby in perfect Hebrew. We wished him a mazal tov.

After Tefilah, we asked him who he was, and where he’s from.

Tim Buckles, and he’s from Everett.

Now what would a modern “Hasidic” – looking Jew be doing in Everett? What kind of Jewish life is there up there?

You see, Seward Park is just too darn expensive….

Uh huh…

A trusty minyan attendee was suspicious and started looking into this person’s background. Mr. Buckles, in the internet age, it’s pretty tough to be a practicing charlatan!

Tim Buckles is none other than Timothy Layne. He is not Jewish. He is one of the leaders of the Tzemakh David Messianic group in Everett WA.

That has not stopped Rabbi Tim from trying to get a foothold in the Orthodox community, including an attempt at infiltrating Chabad outside of Seattle.

thumb_tzemakh david

Tzemakh David women, who embrace the divinity of Jesus, would not dare show a strand of their hair..

Look, it’s a free country, and people can believe in whatever religion they want, even make up their own religion which somehow reconciles classical Judaism with the belief in Jesus as one’s personal savior.

It’s the deception that’s troubling. I’ve put a call into Matthew Steele, President of the Tzemakh David Messianic group, to request that his congregants, maybe even his rabbi (?) conduct their missionary work elsewhere.

You see, in an effort to “win souls”, Mr. Buckles, Layne, or whatever his name may be tomorrow….feels that God is on his side.

****************************

Praying Mincha without a Minyan

Stuart Daurmann pausing to daven Mincha [afternoon prayers] while visiting the magnificent Chabad Center Synagogue in Moscow.

In yet another famous desperate attempt for gaining authenticity we see another attempt by ‘Rabbi’ Dr. Stuart Daurmann to gain authenticity no doubt in line with his policy of pandering to the Jews by convincing them, by your elevated observance, that the Torah is “best interpreted in concert with the historical stream and transgenerational discussion of that people to whom it was given”[to use Staurts words of course]? Attempts for legitimacy now of course include the study of ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism. The inclusion of ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism would appear to be a new way of evangelism and may address the growing problem(?) of intermarriage in Messianic Judaism [if Stuart's Interfaithfulness website facebook page is to go by] and how the Christian part of ‘the intermarriage equation’ deals with the Jewish in-laws.

Stuart Daurmann is seen left pausing to daven Mincha [afternoon prayers] without a minyan and of course capturing the moment of beating his chest during the shemoneh esrei, how touching! No doubt the lack of a minyan was to ensure his modesty and not wanting to make a show of things!

Sticking the Knife in

Then again we have the latest shocking news according to a good friend and colleague of Stuart Daurmann, ‘Rabbi’ Derek Lehman. Thepassion shocking news is that Jim Staley [Pastor, Rabbi, Messianic] of Passion for Truth ministries has been indicted for fraud by the Federal Government. A great opportunity no doubt for ‘Rabbi’ Derek Lehman to stick the knife in to establish his authentic position as a real ‘rabbi’ etc…

I have been a vocal opponent of Jim Staley’s (Jim Staley) ideas, of the way he promises people a better identity with God if they start living Torah. There are a thousand variations of the “snake oil” message (“get your snake oil, the only good kind, right here, for a lifetime of easy installments of 10% of your gross income”)

http://www.derekleman.com/musings/jim-staley-arrested-and-indicted/

Sure that your sin will not find you out Derek Lehman and it is not a reflection of your own brand of snake oil too?

Just goes to show.

There is no Business like the Me$$ianic Bu$$ine$$

In the Shadow of Death

by Kay Wilson

FEBRUARY 15, 2014, 3:37 , http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/in-the-shadow-of-death/

Bound, gagged and barefoot with machetes at our throats, we were pushed through the trees to the site of our execution. I whimpered, “Please don’t kill us.” One of the terrorists looked me in the eye, put his hand on his heart and declared, “I am good, I not kill.” I believed him. I did so because I subscribed to the delusion of reprieve, the hope that if we did what they say, we would be set free.

Throughout three years, where day has blurred into night, I have relived the horror again and again. I shudder to remember their deranged faces contorted by deluded, perverted, intoxicating power. I recall that unfathomable half hour of helplessness, placating, pleading and promises of liberation, all meshed together in a concoction of sadistic terrorism.

A few months after the attack, I approached a certain “Christ At The Checkpoint,” (CATC) a Christian conference held in Bethlehem. I wanted the opportunity to speak and honour the memory of my murdered, Christian friend. The conference prides itself on being ecumenical and draws a mixed audience of western Christians and Palestinians. One protagonist of the conference is an Israeli Arab. I hoped that the seeming openness of the CATC towards Israelis coupled with the fact that Kristine was a Christian would grant me a platform. I was declined on the grounds, “there is no space” bizarrely concluding, “this is not what the Lord wants.”

I suspect that I was refused because the CATC manifesto does not allow a voice like mine to be heard. It calls only for partisan justice,“There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored.” This bias conveniently ignores Israel’s innocents, Israel’s murdered and Israel’s maimed.

The CATC manifesto also states, “All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally.” However, they have no qualms about inviting violence into their room, by giving the platform to the likes of personalities from the PA, that hateful organisation which overtly sponsors terrorism. They also have no reservations in inviting Victor Batarseh, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem. Batarseh is a supporter of the savage, Marxist terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP’s armed division is the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, which has carried out many suicide bombings in Israel, murdering civilians.

For any self-respecting person, and especially for Israelis such as myself, the endorsement of terror by association, at a Christian conference, is obscene. Yet it is also a spurn for Palestinian Christians such as the Bethlehem Baptist minister, Naim Khoury. Khoury has been shot three times and his church has been bombed fourteen times because he advocates Zionism based on his understanding of the Bible. Khoury is too busy to care. He is exerting his energy pastoring a vibrant and unexpectedly, flourishing congregation, even though the PA has informed Khoury that his church now lacks the authority to function as a religious institution – announcing this decision the week following CATC. Unlike Khoury, a Christian minister who is always welcome at conference is the Reverend Stephen Sizer.

Sizer, an Anglican priest who oversees an English congregation, has been accused of anti-Semitism – a charge that he vigorously denies. The allegations arose in part due to links that he posted on his numerous blogs that directed people to anti-Semitic sites. Sizer, insistent that he “loves Jews” and “loves Israel,” agreed to remove the links, although he still has photos of himself standing alongside those who advocate the murder of the very Jews and Israelis whom he loves; people such as Yassir Arafat, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Raed Salach and Nabil Kaouk the senior commander of Hezbollah forces in Southern Lebanon.

Stephen Sizer raging anti-Semite

direct quote from Gideon Levy: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.598719.

The Reverend Sizer also asserts, “Israel has the right to live within secure international borders…” He sees no conflict between this exhortation and his dealings with Zahra Mostafavi, the daughter of the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini. Mostafavi participated in an international convention that praised girls who carried out martyrdom and sacrificed their lives for the Palestinian people. Mostafavi sent a letter to Sheik Nasrallah commending him for Jihad. Mostafavi translated Sizer’s book on Christian Zionism into Farsi. This was surely the first and only Christian book to be published by the Khomeinist regime, as the Iranian police arrest Muslim converts to Christianity for distributing Bibles.

When blogger Joe Weisman questioned Sizer’s activities and the company that he keeps, the priest alerted the British police. No charges were pressed and no warnings were issued because no crime had been committed. When all the attention had died down, Sizer astonishingly continued to fan the flames of animosity. He posted another response to a critical blog,“You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police… one more reference to me and you will be reported.”

Some have questioned if Stephen Sizer is fit for the office of the Anglican Church. Some continue to be angered at his constant taunting of Jews and the State of Israel. Sizer’s behaviour however is eye-opening. His relentless, attention-seeking exploits testify not of a man who possesses any genuine compassion for others, but rather a self-seeking, immature, emotionally-deprived juvenile who has an insatiable need for affirmation. Like all spoilt children, his sulking should not be taken seriously. Although he continues to have “Israel-tantrums,” and throw his toys out of the cot, Jews and Israelis would do well, for his sake, not to indulge him by being overly angry about his embarrassing behaviour.

Like all the conference protagonists, Sizer claims that he is a peaceful, Christian activist, advocating for justice on behalf of the Palestinians. History has not been kind or fair to the Palestinians. Neither has it been kind or fair to the Kurds, the Polish, the Serbs, the Aborigines, the Native Americans, the Armenians or the Jews. History has not been kind or fair to me either. But it is history. I was a victim of a terror attack but what happened to me does not need to define me. Just as there is more to me than “being stabbed,” there is more to being a Palestinian than being a “victim.”

Together with Ben White and other Christian activists, Sizer identifies with the graffiti on the security barrier, “Injustice, oppression, discrimination, suffering, violence and dehumanisation.” In Israel, I have never gathered with Israeli survivors of terrorism to spray, “Injustice, oppression, discrimination, suffering, violence and dehumanisation,” on the remains of exploded buses. On the contrary, I have participated in art classes with parents who have buried their murdered children. Together we painted portraits, sunsets, flowers and cites. I have even attended comedy clubs, pioneered by parents whose child was bludgeoned to death. I have marvelled at disabled survivors of terrorism running marathons for those in need. I thank G-d for these inspirational Israeli survivors of terrorism who spur me on to celebrate life.

sizer-cz-jihadi

Watching ISIS Jihadists slaughter unarmed Iraqi troops, praying for the safe return of hundreds of girls kidnapped by Jihadist Boko Haram in Nigeria or the Al-Shabab Jihadist attacks in Kenya, to name but a few, gives a clear view of what a Jihadi is. However, despite all this recent coverage of Jihadi murder and terror, for Rev Stephen Sizer the vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, England, it is those pesky Christians who ideologically support Israel and especially hold him accountable for all the extreme statements he regularly makes about Israel, that are the Jihadists!

The Palestinians, like any people, should never be denied the opportunity for their pain to be heard. In trauma therapy I was encouraged to embrace my own pain and fears by returning to the forest. My friends gathered around and watched as I knelt on the painful and hallowed ground, clawing in grief at the earth that cried out with Kristine’s blood. They did not leave me on my knees, drowning in my tears, they stretched out their hands and helped me to my feet. Together we then planted a tree in honour of Kristine’s memory. In the place of her gory death, we sowed a seed of life. I thank G-d for people who help me to my feet. I thank G-d for people who soothe my pain and don’t exacerbate it. I thank G-d for people who show me that I am not helpless and I do not need to be a perdurable casualty. I thank G-d that even though my life is not at all what I would have envisioned, it is still very much life. I cannot work six days a week, but at least I can work. I am no longer able to sit and play the piano for hours on end, but at least I can play. I am in pain when I breathe, but at least I am breathing. I thank G-d that I am still alive to count my blessings.

This year at the CATC, Stephen Sizer and others like him, will bully the Palestinians into a world of make-believe. Sizer will do so by making them believe that they are only victims and their lives amount to nothing but perpetual misery. He will do this to build himself up at their expense. He will sadistically hold them hostage in the Shadow of Death, never once urging them to look up to the light that creates that very shadow. He will offer them the Islamist falsity that their aspirations will be fulfilled by virtue of antipathy. Sizer will leave them shackled with resentment. He will not reach out his hand to help them up. He will not urge them to look to Heaven and see the countless signs of wonderful life happening all around.

Metaphorically, Reverend Stephen Sizer will place his chained hands on his heart, just beside the cross which he readily preaches “sets you free.” He will look his victims in the eye and declare, “I am good, I not kill.” I can only hope, that unlike me, the bound and the gagged in this particular able-bodied and well-fed audience, will have the fortitude not to succumb to his futile and deathly delusion of reprieve.

sizer quote

Everyone Hates Menashe?

derek&menasheWell he is at it again, that Menashe!! What with taking folks writings, reading them and then drawing conclusions from them. What a nerve of Menashe to actually use his own G-d given brain and buck the trend of a whole trail of ‘yes men and yes women’, heaping praises on a book just recently published. Imagine, Jews having the chutzpah to own an i-pad and then using it to download books, read them and then offer an opinion online. Of course if you only write complementary things which maintain book sales at the very least, the other issue of whether you have read the book or not are of no significance, apparently. Otherwise if the comments come from Menashe and the like…well its just Loshon Hara or just downright devious according to the standards which do not apply to messianics! Then again the classic weasel out clauses of “we do not debate” or the famous “this is not a venue for theological discussion” seem to be a bit out of vogue at the moment on the emerging me$$ianic scene!! After all one has to maintain the façade of academic integrity, forums for discussion and the right to ask questions and/ or make points.  So long as they are they ‘right’ questions and points of course!

Rather, I still have a phenomena of everybody hating Menashe if Facebook is anything to go by! The phenomena being manifest in the numbers of me$$ianic leaders on the me$$ianic scene who have taken ‘wise caution’ between themselves and blocked that Menashe. The problem is that such Facebook blocking technology does not stop reviews of the stuff that plops out of the organs of messianic Judaism. Now come on you me$$ianic leaders do you really think that Jews are not savvy about computer technology too? How do you think it should go? You have right to ‘evangelize’ wherever you please especially here in Israel? Churn out your materials and not expect a response, lazily resort to personal insults, questions of integrity of Jews and then undermine your façade of academic integrity? And all this from rabbis who are not real rabbis!

Shame on you messianic leaders to suggest that Jews in general do not have a spiritual or personal connection with G-d by virtue of just ordinary Jews thinking for themselves! For good measure, messianic leaders [who call themselves Rabbis] also add that the ”real” learned Ultra Orthodox Jews’ which they have interacted with, in orthodox neighborhoods, are also devoid of a spiritual or personal connection with G-d also by virtue of…..well, just because the messianic leaders say so!

Derek

All that has been said above leads me to another prong in the efforts of the MJTI et al via ‘Rabbi Lehman’ and “Rabbi Stuart Daurman” for example to gain legitimacy and acceptance from any of the movements of Judaism. They are really desperate to gain legitimacy. Attempts for legitimacy now of course include the study of ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism. The inclusion of ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism would appear to be a new way of evangelism and may address the growing problem(?) of intermarriage in Messianic Judaism and how the Christian part of ‘the intermarriage equation’ deals with the Jewish in-laws. In a case where the Jewish in-laws are just academic at heart, the Christian part of ‘the intermarriage equation’ or even the other half of the equation may be able to use impressive academic terms such as “an anticipatory or proleptic position”, “a post-supersessionist position” or a “post cryptosupersessionist position”, to help them in their evangelistic efforts with their Jewish in-laws . Yep I think you are onto a winner with this one Stuart Daurmann!

However, where the Jewish in-laws are just too frum [too religious] to appreciate academic reasoning, it may be beneficial to ignore centuries of grimed in distrust or ridicule of the halachic rulings of the wider Jewish community. Instead, why not pander to the Jewish in-laws by convincing them, by your elevated observance, that the Torah is best interpreted in concert with the historical stream and transgenerational discussion of that people to whom it was given?

Alternatively, where the Jewish in-laws are neither academics or too frum but instead more business and/ or marketing orientated, it may be possible to use the Stuart Daurmann “Yes and” approach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Me and Stuart Daurmann.

The YES-AND option whereby the Yeshua believer genuinely respects, hears, and values what his Jewish significant other reports about the value of his/her Jewish life, faith and experience. This involves saying a YES to all of that, AND going on to report how, in and through Yeshua, God is at work to deepen Jewish life experientially, while bringing the Jewish people and their tradition to their foreordained consummation. (This is no longer on Stuart’s blog as far as I can see)

Implicit in the above, apart from the obvious need to ‘win’ them Jewish in-laws, is the nauseating idea of an evangelical paradigm that the Yeshua believer is somehow superior! Winning them Jewish in-laws to Yeshua means they are not going to get thrown onto the eternal BBQ (as per Mark 16:16) because they have accepted the superior offer! Of course such black and white terms of the evangelical paradigm presented in the New Testament, Stuart Dauermann conveniently chooses to deny by saying that no such things are said in the apostolic writings which witness the efforts of the apostles to convert Jews to Yeshua. Moreover, to divert further, Stuart claims I have stolen and projected onto his paradigm. The bottom line, no matter how Messianic Jews try to ‘spin it’ in the present with various new tricks, Yeshua will never be Kosher just as no matter the number of times one scrubs a pig will ever make the pig Kosher either! The answer is YES Stuart and has always been without ands, buts and/ or degrees!

Can there be a greater stumbling block than [Christianity]? All the prophets spoke of Moshiach as the redeemer of Israel and their savior, who would gather their dispersed ones and strengthen their [observance of] the mitzvos. In contrast [the founder of Christianity] caused the Jews to be slain by the sword, their remnants to be scattered and humiliated, the Torah to be altered, and the majority of the world to err and serve a god other than the L-rd.” (Expurgated by medieval Christian censors from the Mishneh Torah of Rambam, Chapter 11)

‘But Look at How Believing in Jesus Changed My Life!’

‘But Look at How Believing in Jesus Changed My Life!’

by Tovia Singer

Question:

Dear Rabbi Singer,

I am certain that the question will surface somewhere in this general commentary I am making. I hope you will bear with me until the question does arise.

For one who has been a Christian all his life, I find your commentaries very compelling and thought provoking, but, at times, dismaying, while there have always been questions in my mind inherent to matters of truth concerning the Gospels, and the remainder of the New Testament. The question is, as Pilate said it, What is truth? Everyone has a different version, and all claim their particular version to be the final word. Regarding your commentaries, I do not find anything that I would consider to be misleading or mean-spirited in your answers to your reader’s questions when you criticize Christianity, but it is obvious to me that you base practically your entire criticism on legalism. Jesus Christ had much to say about the legalism of the scribes and Pharisees in the context of how it applied to their religious worship. The one thing you seem to miss is that much of the teachings of Jesus related to the depth of the love of the individual towards God. I can understand how you can use legalism to apparently refute many of the claims of Christianity, so I believe my question is: How do you refute the almost unbelievable change in the character and personality of people after they are converted to Christ?

I have seen this again and again, so I believe my observations are, at least, reasonable. I have seen this change continue throughout lifetimes. What you seem to observe as a zeal to convert others is actually a zeal to help others, and of course to witness to that person for Christ. I am not aware of any pressure to convert. The basic premise is to show other people the change in your life and how it came about. As much as I am swayed by your legal criticism, I cannot deny the knowledge of Christ in my being, even when I sin. Surely, the God of all mankind would preempt a false religion, proclaimed in His name, which would lead millions from the true path and towards damnation. If this is not the case, then the existence of man on this world appears quite pointless.

Thanks for your time.

Answer:

toviaI am certain that many readers will not fully grasp the importance of your main point because your letter touches on an intangible condition rooted in the heart of the believer. It would not be an overstatement to say that your thoughtful letter contains one of the most important questions that could be asked of me.

Ever since I began working to help Jews return to the Jewish faith, I have received numerous letters, and listened to many stories from people just like yourself. Their accounts are filled with personal anecdotes illustrating how their lives miraculously changed as a result of their newfound religion. Many of the accounts describe how their drug addiction and alcoholism inexplicably ceased.

Recently, I received a letter from a middle-aged Jewish woman who maintained that as a result of her conversion to Mormonism, her festering infection in her swollen leg was miraculously cured. Following a recent lecture, a young man vividly recalled how his plaguing depression had lifted soon after he embraced the Catholic Church.

For him, the euphoria that had now replaced his nagging bouts of depression bore testimony to the validity of the teachings of Roman Catholicism.

While I was speaking in Southern California a number of years ago, I met four young men who were members of Hare Krishna. It wasn’t a planned encounter; we just happened to strike up a conversation as we were crossing the same busy street in Los Angeles. To my utter shock, three of these lost souls were Jewish. As I listened attentively to the testimonials of these oddly dressed fellows, each of them enthusiastically described how their newfound religion had transformed their lives.

As they joyfully spoke of their joining this eastern sect, I could sense the elation and inner peace they experienced. They were certain that what they believed was true; it was apparent that they were more spiritual now than they had ever been in their former lives.

When considered individually, each of these moving accounts appear quite impressive. Once these remarkable testimonials are examined as part of a larger pattern, however, they present us with a serious theological problem.

Although each of these personal anecdotes appears to the novice as evidence of the validity of their newly acquired faith, the fact remains that these variant religions cannot all be valid. When it comes to spiritual experiences and miraculous occurrences, things get very messy.

The realm of faith would be very tidy if only one religion produced life-altering transformations and miraculous occurrences. To the dismay of the fervid believer, however, this may be the most disorganized arena of organized religion.

In fact, the life-changing experience that you describe in your letter is a phenomenon found among adherents of all religions. Followers of every religion claim an “almost unbelievable change in the character and personality,” regardless of the truth of the doctrines they preach. In essence, there is no relationship between spiritual transformation that occurs in the heart of the believer and the spiritual truth which he espouses.

Bear in mind, our planet is brimming with world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, each of which boast many hundreds of millions of adherents. The multitudes of these devout believers, in their competing diverse faiths, all remarkably speak of the very same “character and personality” transformation that you describe within the context of your new found religion – Christianity.

jesukrishYet, when their personal testimonials are scrutinized and considered, as they recount how their religious faith has transformed their lives, it seems as if they all somehow belong to the same religion their testimonials all pulsate with the experience of an encounter with the divine.

According to your doctrinal barometer, however, billions of these devoted faithful are lost souls merely following a “false religion.” Realize, therefore, that their startling religious experiences cannot possibly speak of the validity of their beliefs.

For example, Hinduism and Islam have radically different teachings on the nature of God, yet, how is it that Hindus, Christians, Mormons, Muslims and those that embrace New Age movements, all experience this profound religious conversion, which you describe?

This question becomes particularly puzzling when we consider your implied assertion that spiritual transformation among the faithful will point us in the direction of spiritual truth.

All of these religions cannot possibly be transmitting truth; nevertheless, each of them can ignite profound spiritual changes within the character and personality of their devoted masses.

This is the profound question that comes to mind: Why would God allow all religions, regardless of the theological untruths they espouse, to spark a spiritual passion within the heart of the believer? The Bible contains a record of many individuals and nations who possessed fervent devotion to their idolatry. Nonetheless, their spiritual adultery is condemned as an utter abomination, regardless of the spirituality and transformation they experienced.

Why would the Almighty permit religions whose fundamental teachings have no basis in truth to produce life-transforming experiences and miraculous occurrences in the lives of their devout followers?

The answer is found in the beginning of Deuteronomy, where the Torah addresses this dilemma with a more startling scenario than the anecdote you presented.

In Deuteronomy 13:1-2, the Bible raises the question of how to respond to a “prophet” who offers to show a miracle to support his message. How are we to respond if, in fact, the promised miracle comes to pass just as he predicted? Should we then follow this “prophet” even if he encourages us to worship other gods which our fathers did not know? “You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer,” the Almighty emphatically declares. “I did not send him,” says the Lord.

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them. You must not listen to that prophet or dreamer of dreams.’” (Deuteronomy 13:1-2)

In the following verses, the Torah reveals why God allows prophets who teach unsavory doctrines to produce miraculous transformations:

The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him.(Deuteronomy 13:3-4)

 In other words, your experience was a test from God. This is your choice in a world where freewill hangs in perfect balance. Will you worship the God of Israel alone, or turn to gods whom the nation of Israel has not known? If we lived in a world where only one religion could produce spirituality and miraculous life-altering experiences, the balance of freewill could not exist.

In the chapter of I Kings 18, Elijah proposes a direct test of the powers of Baal and the Almighty. The people of Israel, 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah are summoned to Mount Carmel. Two altars are built, one for Baal and one for God. Wood is laid on both altars. Two oxen are slaughtered and cut into pieces; the pieces are laid on the wood. Elijah then invites the priests of Baal to pray for fire to light the sacrifice.

The Bible vividly recounts how they enthusiastically entreated Baal and prayed fervidly for a miracle from morning to noon without success. It seemed as though there was no doubt in the minds of these pagan worshipers that Baal would hear their supplications, intervene on their behalf, and consume their bullock with a heavenly fire. They even climbed on top of the altar and began to prance beside their sacrifice. Elijah ridicules their efforts.

When no heaven-sent flame appeared, a peculiar and gruesome spectacle followed. They responded by frantically cutting themselves with swords and lancets, adding their own blood to the sacrifice (such mutilation of the body was strictly forbidden in the Mosaic law).

These prophets of Baal were clearly enraptured and devoted to their gods. Regardless of their unyielding zeal for their idols, they were commanded to turn away from these abominations.

In fact, the prophet Jeremiah warns us that the spirituality gained from following false prophets and corrupt teachers may become so encompassing and overwhelming that one may begin to have dreams regarding these prophets. Jeremiah concludes,

…for thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed; for they prophesy falsely to you in My name. I have not sent them, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:8-9)

Jeremiah’s message is clear: If messages of false prophets so completely permeate you psyche, to the point that you are having dreams of these presumptuous messengers, you alone are responsible for these improper apparitions. God did not send them.

Furthermore, at the very end of your question, you suggest “the God of all mankind would preempt a false religion in His name, which would lead millions from the true path, and towards damnation.” This claim is unfounded.

If your assertion were accurate, why do masses of spiritually blind believers make such deplorable choices about their religious affiliations? Why didn’t God preempt false religionsmediator and foil their success? Why is Islam the fastest growing religion in the world when your Christianity is supposedly the only life-transforming truth? In essence, how could so many be so wrong about something so crucial as religion when, according to your reckoning, the Almighty would never “lead millions” away from His true path?

A careful reading of the Bible reveals that God never led mankind away from a pure and true path. The prophets of Israel were given the power to preach repentance to those who do not want to hear the message, and to warn of God’s wrath for disobedience.

The decision to indulge in sin is an individual decision alone, and it will forever remain man’s domain. Your Creator never removed freewill from your grasp, as the Torah declares,

See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. If, though, your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. (Deuteronomy 30:15-19)

 God permits man to become enraptured with false religions for the same reason He permits a married man to be attracted to women other than his wife. Freewill is within your grasp.

Virtue is only possible when sin is alluring. If alien religions were unappealing, there would be no merit for rejecting their blandishments. If this tender balance of freewill were ever injured or compromised, virtue would be impossible.

God has given all humans the gift of moral agency. Only the proper exercise of unfettered choice leads to the ultimate goal of returning to God’s presence. Having the choice to do right or wrong is vital, because God wants a society of a certain type —those who are devoted to His eternal laws. The belief in freewill is axiomatic in Jewish thought, and is closely linked with the concept of reward and punishment, based on the Torah itself:

“I [God][/God] have set before you life and death, blessing and curse: therefore choose life.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Don’t, though, seek out miraculous life-changing events as your guide to God’s sacred truth. Look to the Bible alone for this eternal instruction. Once you have committed your life to truth in the God of Israel, joyously take part in the spiritual food it provides. Never permit spiritual expressions to become your barometer for truth. Your foundation must be the Jewish Scriptures alone.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

Very sincerely yours,

Rabbi Tovia Singer

Judging books by their covers

 How God Became Jesus or How Jesus Became God?

©By Menashe Dovid

BartThe saying goes that one should never judge a book by its cover. However, when one has two book covers to consider and where one book is in answer to the other, it is possible to make a judgement based on the titles of the books alone without getting into the details of both books. The book in question is “How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee” by Bart D. Ehrman[1] (Mar 25, 2014) and the response to the book “How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature—A Response to Bart D. Ehrman” by Michael F. Bird (Author), Craig A. Evans (Author), Simon Gathercole (Author), Charles E. Hill (Author) and Chris Tilling  (Author). Questions are always a good place to start:

“How did ancient monotheism allow the One God to have a ‘son’? Bart Ehrman tells this story, introducing the reader to a Jewish world thick with angels, cosmic powers, and numberless semi-divinities. How Jesus Became God provides a lively overview of Nicea’s prequel.” (Paula Fredriksen, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and author of Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews)

As those who are familiar with my blog know that have a tendency to state the obvious! To the initial part of the question: “How did ancient monotheism allow the One God to have a ‘son’? It is an actual fact very easy to answer this part of the question:

19 And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian: ‘Go, return into Egypt; for all the men are dead that sought thy life.’ 20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt; and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. 21 And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘When thou goest back into Egypt, see that thou do before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in thy hand; but I will harden his heart, and he will not let the people go. 22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh: Thus saith the LORD: Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 And I have said unto thee: Let My son go, that he may serve Me; and thou hast refused to let him go. Behold, I will slay thy son, thy first-born. Exodus 4

The activities of G-d’s son Israel, is further explained in terms of Israel described collectively as a servant. Certain of the prophetic specifications, which Christians often view as pointing exclusively to Jesus, are in fact borrowed from biblical descriptions of Israel’s experience. For example, in Isaiah 53:7 the servant of the L-rd is said to be like a flock led to the slaughter. In Psalms 44:22 Israel is said to be like a flock led to the slaughter.

“For on your account we are killed all the day; we are considered as a flock for the slaughter.”

To give another example, Isaiah 53:11 says “my righteous servant shall make many righteous.” We have just such an expression in the Book of Daniel regarding Daniel’s people Israel. Daniel 12:1b-3.

“At that time your people will escape, everyone found written in the book. Many among those sleeping in the dust of the ground will awake, some to the life of eternity and others to shame and to the contempt of eternity. And the prudent will shine like the brilliance of the firmament, and those who make many righteous like the stars, for eternity and ever.”

To give another example, Isaiah 53:11 says “my righteous servant shall make many righteous and carry their iniquities.” This language comes from the operation of Israel’s sanctuary. It was the duty of Israel’s priests to carry[2] the iniquity of others. Leviticus 10:16-17.

“Concerning the goat of the sin-offering Moshe diligently inquired. There it was ― ablaze. He was angry with Elazar and with Itamar the surviving sons of Aaron. He said, ‘Why did you not eat the sin-offering in a sacred place, for it is most holy? And it was given you in order to carry the iniquity of the congregation, to make expiation on them before the L-rd.’”

Numbers 18:1 is also explicit in this connection.

“The L-rd said to Aaron, ‘You, your sons, and your father’s house with you shall carry the iniquity of the sanctuary; you and your sons with you shall carry the iniquity of your priesthood.’”

Carrying the iniquity of others is also a prophetic gesture. Ezekiel 4:4-6.

“And you shall lie on your left side and place the iniquity of the house of Israel on it, the number of which you lie on it you will carry their iniquity. I have given you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of days, three hundred and ninety days. And you shall carry the iniquity of the house of Israel. And you shall finish these, then you shall lie on your right side, and you shall carry the iniquity of the house of Judah, forty days, a day for a year, one day per year I have imposed on you.”

During the exile, the children of Israel complain that their punishment is too severe, because they’re carrying the iniquity of previous generations.

“Our fathers sinned and they are no more, and we are carrying their iniquities.” [Lamentations 5:7]

In order to end the exile, the L-rd calls his righteous servant to resume Israel’s original mission task of carrying the iniquity of others. This is what priests do, and Israel is a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6).

It should be noted that in addition to the prophetic specifications borrowed from biblical descriptions of Israel, certain of the prophetic specifications do not seem applicable to Jesus at all. For example, Isaiah 53 verse 3 describes the servant of the L-rd as,

“A man of sufferings and familiar with sickness; like one who hides his face from us. He was despised, and we held him of no account. Yet it was our sickness he was bearing.”

Verse 10 adds,

“Yet the L-rd was pleased to crush him with sickness.”

The New Testament accounts relate numerous instances of Jesus healing people, but never is it told in the NT that he got sick in their place. If his work load and hiking itinerary is anything to go by, Jesus seems to have been a robustly healthy individual. If Jesus was characterized by sickness, the gospel writers do not note the fulfillment of prophecy.

Another particular which does not easily fit Jesus is in Isaiah 53:3,

“like one who hides his face from us.”

Hiding the face from others is the behavior proscribed by the Torah for a leper (Leviticus 13:45). We have no record of Jesus hiding his face. In fact, Christian teaching emphasizes the opposite: that Jesus is the disclosure of God; that in seeing Jesus’, God’s face is seen [2 Corinthians 4:6; John 14:9; 1:18].

Another particular which does not easily fit if the servant of the L-rd is Jesus comes in verse 8. It is evidently one of the astounded non-Jewish kings who confesses,

“On account of my people’s rebellion he plagued them.”

Within the framework of standard Jewish interpretation the statement makes good sense. If “my people” refers to the said king’s misbehaving subjects and “them” refers to the children of Israel, the prophecy is then saying that the L-rd plagued his servant Israel on account of these other people’s rebellion. But if, as Christians commonly claim, “my people” refers to Israel, who then can the antecedent of “them” be? Can Israel be both the referent of “my people” and the antecedent of “them?” Of course, it is a biblical truism that when God’s people Israel misbehave he punishes them, but why would the prophecy bring that up in connection with vicarious substitution? It is not vicarious substitution when people get what they deserve. Unless Jesus is the antecedent of “them,” it is difficult to construe this statement as referring to Jesus.

SOMThe activities of G-d’s son Israel and G-d’s servant Israel is further explained in terms of Israel described collectively as the son of man. In the 7th chapter of the book of Daniel, we learn of a prophetic vision granted to Daniel. He tells us of four great beasts rising out of the sea, one after another. After describing each of the four beasts Daniel sees “one like a son of man (כבר אנש Aramaic) coming with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13). Nearly all Christians do not entertain the slightest doubt that this verse is talking of their messiah Jesus! Indeed, they will even selectively quote that Jewish commentators like Rashi, who says that this verse is speaking of the King ‘moshiac’ (משיח Hebrew). To the Christian mindset ‘moshiac’ and ‘messiah’ are understood as interchangeable and are equivalent terms! A look at Daniel 7 shows that the Hebrew word ‘moshiac’ cannot appear anywhere in Daniel 7 because Daniel 7 is in Aramaic. The term ‘one like a son of man (כבר אנש Aramaic)’ is found in Dan 7:13.

Dan 7:13 is one of the few passages in scripture that comes along with a commentary. The commentary is Daniel 7 itself and the commentary informs us who the “son of man” is in Daniel 7:13! The commentary informs us that after Daniel had seen the vision he approaches an angel and asks for a clarification of all that he had seen (7:16). The angel replies that the four beasts represented four kingdoms, and the final dominion will be given to the “holy ones of the most high” (7:18) – a reference to the nation of Israel. The angel elaborates further by telling us that the dominion under all of the heavens is given to “the nation of holy ones of the most high” (7:27) – again a clear reference to the nation of Israel. According to the angel, each of the beasts represents a different kingdom, while the son of man in Daniel’s vision represents Israel. Can a man represent a kingdom/ people? Speaking of Babylon; “and four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first [was] like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man (כאנש), and a man’s (אנש) heart was given to it. (Dan 7:4, 5)

The history and account of the activities of G-d’s son Israel, G-d’s servant Israel and Israel as the son of man is the context of scripture in stark contrast to what comes later. What nicene-creedcomes later is the introduction of an idea of a world thick with angels, demons, a devil, cosmic powers, and numberless semi-divinities weaved into how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus. The idea further including the notion of God’s exclusive one and only Son and the singular son of man which eclipses and supersedes the context of scripture as summarized by the creed of Nicea[3]. The idea of how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus is so significant to Paul that he counts all things [his own cultural background and a pharisee] but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, Phil 3:8. A recent blurb for a book “Divine Messiah” by Derek Leman readily admits the new innovation of the “Divine Messiah”:

In the early half of the first century, it happened so suddenly that there are no records of the way the innovation came about. The early community of Yeshua-followers started believing and practicing something beyond any previous concept. The Divine Messiah realization can be described from two perspectives, from below and from above. From below, it is the recognition that one who appeared to have been a teacher and miraculous messianic figure was actually someone much more exalted. From above, it is the realization that God and Messiah are different and yet utterly one in nature.

editingThe difference between how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus makes for interesting reading, however, the context of scripture, i.e. Israel is unwittingly ignored and instead replaced by the innovation of the “Divine Messiah”. To add further to the confusion is Paul’s new thinking which includes the notion of an “Israel “after the flesh” (i.e., the Jewish people), non-Jews whom he calls “the nations,” (i.e., Gentiles) and a new people called “the church of God” made of all those whom he designates as “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:32). In contrast to Paul’s new thinking is the already established idea of humanity divided as “Israel and the nations”. What divides Paul from the already established idea of humanity divided as “Israel and the nations” is his insistence that God’s justifying forgiveness is only extended to those who accept his Divine Christ faith. Paul’s insistence is regardless of the difference between how Jesus Became God or how God became Jesus. The stark contrast to Paul’s insistence are the parts of the New Testament attributed to Jesus whom Paul never met, which appear to have missed the efforts of the redactors of the New Testament. Jesus affirmed the oneness of G-d and upheld the commandments of the Torah as the way to eternal life:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10

Alternatively and in addition, the Christian before considering the issue of a divine messiah, may wish to consider the context prior to such an innovation as a divine messiah. The context is vital to understand that prior to such an innovation as proposed by the NT alone, the terms son of G-d, son of man, messiah and servant are plainly defined in the Jewish Scripture and are in no ways jettisoned in a single messiah (divine or otherwise) who eclipses/ replaces Israel and G-d forbid, G-d himself. Can a single human being in essence be the embodiment of all that Israel collectively is? Certainly as we have many contextual examples, at the very least we have King David, Yoseph and Moshe who are prime examples of G-d’s anointed ones [Messiahs]. After all is this why at least two of Israel’s messiahs in rabbinic thought are ben Yoseph and ben David for this very reason?

___________________________

[1] Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus and God’s Problem. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. He has been featured in Time and has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, major NPR shows, and other top media outlets. He lives in Durham, N.C.

[2] The goat [of the Day of Atonement] that was sent [into the wilderness] (Ley. xvi. 20, seq.) served as an atonement for all serious transgressions more than any other sin-offering of the congregation. As it thus seemed to carry off all sins, it was not accepted as an ordinary sacrifice to be slaughtered, burnt, or even brought near the Sanctuary; it was removed as far as possible, and sent forth into a waste, uncultivated, uninhabited land. There is no doubt that sins cannot be carried like a burden, and taken off the shoulder of one being to be laid on that of another being. But these ceremonies are of a symbolic character, and serve to impress men with a certain idea, and to induce them to repent; as if to say, we have freed ourselves of our previous deeds, have cast them behind our backs, and removed them from us as far as possible. CHAPTER XLVI, THE GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED, BY MOSES MAIMONIDES.

[3] The Nicene Creed (Greek: Σύμβολον τῆς Νίκαιας, Latin: Symbolum Nicaenum) is the profession of faith or creed that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It forms the mainstream definition of Christianity for most Christians.