By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
(CNN) - The relationship between Jews and Jesus has traditionally been a complicated one, to say the least.
As his followers' message swept the ancient world, Jews who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah found themselves in the uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, position of being blamed for his death.
Mainstream Christian theology's position held that Judaism had been supplanted, the Jewish covenant with the divine no longer valid, because of the incarnation of God as Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.
Jews, for their part, tended largely to ignore Jesus.
That's changing now.
In the past year, a spate of Jewish authors, from the popular to the rabbinic to the scholarly, have wrestled with what Jews should think about Jesus.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
And overwhelmingly, they are coming up with positive answers, urging their fellow Jews to learn about Jesus, understand him and claim him as one of their own.
"Jesus is a Jew. He spent his life talking to other Jews," said Amy-Jill Levine, co-editor of the recently released "Jewish Annotated New Testament."
"In reading the New Testament, I am often inspired, I am intrigued. I actually find myself becoming a better Jew because I become better informed about my own history," she said.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a media personality who recently launched a bid for a U.S. House seat, argues in his own new book, "Kosher Jesus," that "Jews have much to learn from Jesus - and from Christianity as a whole - without accepting Jesus' divinity. There are many reasons for accepting Jesus as a man of great wisdom, beautiful ethical teachings, and profound Jewish patriotism."
And Benyamin Cohen, an Orthodox Jew who spent a recent year going to church, admitted that he's jealous that Christians have Jesus.
"He's a tangible icon that everybody can latch on to. Judaism doesn't have a superhero like that," said Cohen, the author of the 2009 book "My Jesus Year."
"I'm not advocating for Moses dolls," he said, but he argued that "it's hard to believe in a God you can't see. I'm jealous of Christians in that regard, that they have this physical manifestation of the divine that they can pray to.
"There could be more devout Jews than me who don't need that, but to a young Jew living in the 21st century, I wish we had something more tangible," he said.
The flurry of recent Jewish books on Jesus - including this month's publication of "The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ" by Daniel Boyarin - is part of a trend of Jews taking pride in Jesus, interfaith expert Edward Kessler said.
"In the 1970s and 1980s, Christian New Testament scholars rediscovered the Jewish Jesus. They reminded all New Testament students that Jesus was Jewish," said Kessler, the director of the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, England, which focuses on relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
A generation later, that scholarship has percolated into Jewish thought, he said, welcoming the trend: "It's not a threat to Jews and it's not a threat to Christians."
For Jews in particular, he said, "It's not so threatening as it was even 30 years ago. There is almost a pride that Jesus was a Jew rather than an embarrassment about it."
Boteach agrees, writing in "Kosher Jesus" that "Jews will gain much from re-embracing him as a hero."
"The truth is important," Boteach writes. "A patriot of our people has been lost. Worse still, he's been painted as the father of a long and murderous tradition of anti-Semitism."
Boteach aims to claim, or reclaim, Jesus as a political rebel against Rome and to exonerate the Jews of his death. But Boteach's book has attracted plenty of criticism, for instance for blaming the Apostle Paul for everything he doesn't like about Christianity, such as hailing Jesus as divine and cutting his ties to Judaism.
"Paul never met Jesus, and Jesus certainly never would have sanctioned Paul's actions and embellishments," Boteach argues about the apostle who wrote much of the New Testament. "Jesus ... would have been appalled at how his followers would later define him."
"Jews will never accept his divinity. Nor should they," Boteach writes, in one of many instances of presuming to know what Jesus really thought and meant. "The belief that any man is God is an abomination to Judaism, a position that Jesus himself would maintain."
He cherry-picks the Gospels to to suit his arguments, writes in casual modern idioms (calling Pontius Pilate a "sadistic mass murderer" and comparing him to Hitler), and gets wrong the most basic details of the Passion story, such as the amount of money Judas took to betray Jesus.
Other experts in the field label Boteach's book "sensationalistic," and call him a "popularizer," but Kessler sees "Kosher Jesus" as part of the trend of Judaizing Jesus. Cohen, the "My Jesus Year" author, offered some support for Boteach even as he expressed doubts about the book.
"I understand what Shmuley is trying to get at there," he said, but added: "I don't think anyone has the right to say 'This is the definition of Jesus,' especially a rabbi. He's not ours to claim."
Levine, who teaches New Testament and Jewish studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, also framed Jewish efforts to study Jesus in terms of mutual respect.
"Speaking personally as a Jew, if I want my neighbors to respect Judaism, which means knowing something about Jewish history, scripture and tradition, I owe my Christian neighbors the same courtesy. It's a matter of respect," she said.
She urged Jews to "become familiar with the material and make up their own mind as to how they understand Jesus."
Ironically, she added, Jews can understand their own history more thoroughly through studying the life of Jesus.
"The best source on the period for Jewish history other than (the first-century historian) Josephus is the New Testament," she said.
"It's one of those ironies of history that the only Pharisee writing in the Second Temple period from whom we have records is Paul of Tarsus," she said. " 'The Jewish Annotated New Testament' is designed in part to help Jews recover their own history."
But she also wants Christians to use it to understand Judaism more deeply, she said. While many Christian leaders acknowledge that Jesus was a Jew, she said, not many know much about what that means.
"Many Christian ministers and educators have no training in what early Judaism was like," she said. "Not to take seriously first-century Judaism seems to dismiss part of the message of the New Testament."
Cohen, the "My Jesus Year" author, found that Christians were very interested in Judaism during the 52 weeks he spent going from church to church.
"Many Christians look on Judaism as version 1.0 of their own religion. Because of that historical relationship, they're interested in a lot of the theology of Judaism," he said.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
For his part, Cohen learned much that surprised him. "I was shocked when I went to church and heard them give sermons about the Old Testament," he said. "I had no idea Christians read the Old Testament."
"One week, I went to church and the pastor gave exactly the same sermon my rabbi did the night before about Moses and the burning bush, and the pastor did it much better," he continued.
Cohen came away from his Jesus year with a clear understanding of what he believes.
"People ask me all the time if I believe in Jesus. Do I believe he exists? Sure. Do I believe he's your God? Sure, I have no problem with that," he said he tells Christians who ask.
"I understand Christians' love for Jesus and I respect that," he said. "If anything, I learned a lot from them and did become a more engaged Jew, a better Jew, and I appreciate my Judaism more because I hung out with Jesus."
Only for the "newbies":
JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")
Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.
Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.
Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.
Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!
So why would anyone care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would do or say?
Total garbage hit report abuse everytime reality posts appear
You should rename yourself to Parrot-ality!
Jews have acquired all riches (not speaking manner or method in achieve, that's another story) , but squeezed zilch spirituality out of the process. They now discover something new to acquire or collect, Jesus. as usual they will again miss the message. What next? Buddha?
Revisiting Jesus is also a hedge against their own homegrown religion – in recent decade archeologists and others have all but deflated their biblical stories. Relegated to myths taken from other cultures. The exodus is one such work of hebraic fiction.
For anyone interested, watch in more detail what anthropologists, archeologists and religious historians seeking the truth have to say about where god came from:
Doesn't matter who you are... one day EVERY knee will bow.
Dict/Wiki: Every - Adjective: (preceding a singular noun) Used to refer to all, without exception, completely.
And the Easter Bunny poops out chocolate eggs.
The "chuckle of the day"!! Please reiterate on Sunday.
@DJensen Megalomaniacal imbeciles bellow impotent ravings of the sort you quote all the time. Just because some bellicose halfwit uttered it, that doesn't make it true.
Threatening me with your imaginary friend isn't nearly as persuasive as you'd like it to be.
Show me a single eye witness account to any "miracle" Jesus ever was purported to perform and I will start to buy into this childish mythology. The fact is ever gospel was written at least 40 years after Jesus apparently flew into the clouds and although apparently everyone witnessed it, not a single person ever wrote down the account. So all well have are stories from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Pliny the Younger and Josephus and none of them are an eye witness account.
So what do we have? Fiction, hearsay, call it what you will but in the world of historical accounts it is all known as non-authentic writing.
What we do know he is that he existed. That's more than the Jews have to support their stories. Thus the reason for their sudden interest.
No you have stories of myth that were not written down for almost half a century after this so called messiah flew away.... that is not proof that is fiction.
And thanks for proving the "at least we have more than them" fact.... just goes to show you all have nothing. In fact Mohammed has more on you guys as we al least know for certain he existed, but of course he doesn't subscribe to the same god and you guys do so there is no way it could be true right? That is exactly how I feel about all of them.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve.
“After that He appeared to more than FIVE HUNDRED brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep (died); then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me (Paul), also.” (1Corinthians 15:3-8, written testimony by Paul to the church at Corinth, A.D. 55)
A lot of Christians don't even know what the word Jesus means and should look it up in Hebrew. The Bible tells us that Jesus was Judge of all Judges. People should look on top of the U.S. Supreme Courthouse at the Table of Justice statue to see the 13th member who head of the Table of Justice and holds judgment over all the Judges. When preachers teach that Jesus died for the peoples sins and Jesus died so that they could be saved, they are prosecuting Jesus. "Isaiah 56:1 KJV"
The One the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth testifies of, the One whose fingerprints ar all over the Creation, and whose witness is in the conscience of every human being ever born into this world, till they deny it and silence it by the love of Self and sin that's in their hearts... or else they would recognize Him. That's the One!
where are all these fingerprints?
Intresting that Easter, Passover and Good Friday are all on the same weekend, the church's and synagogues will be doing big business bringing in the cash. I, a nonbeliever, will also celebrate the fact that I have a day off of work and that the MASTER'S on TV and will be able to see what is close to heaven on earth, Augusta.
As a Christian that has a deep respect and love for my Lord's heritage. I have been study Jewish history for 10 years. You see this as capitalistic centered week for both Christians and Judiasm. True they will collect money just like every week. Difference is the can hopefully reach more people with their messages than any othter time of the year with the exception of MMother's Day the largest visiting day for both religions. Funny how people get upset that both collect finances to exist. Money is required for every business to maintain financial integrity. Hopefully you will consider visiting one of these places on your time off.
This is all crap. The jews haven't changed at all. They still see their King as just a common jew, not the Saviour of the World. Cohen even says if you can't see him, come on, get real. What do you think faith is? This is all bull. Well, some day they will meet their Master and He will set them straight. Stupid jews.
LOL, because clearly your version of an imaginary friend and life after death is much more reasonable and reality based than theirs.
Why should Jews accept Jesus as their savior OR their king? The Jewish kingship had devolved into meaninglessness by the time Jesus was born, so even if he had been born of the kingly dynasty (instead of to a peasant in a stable), such a designation would have been more contentious than unifying. As for Jesus as savior, Jews don't believe that humanity was damned by Adam's behavior, so there is no stain of Original Sin, so there's no danger of Hell (which Jews also don't believe in), so they don't need to be saved. Furthermore, Jews believe that the divine message–the Bible–had concluded long before Jesus' birth. Saying that the Jews are wrong for ignoring the "New Testament" is like saying that Wings records should be included in the Beatles' catalog.
ok now i was under the impression that jews didn't accept jesus on these grounds.
""Why don't Jews believe in Jesus?" Let's understand why ― not in order to disparage other religions, but rather to clarify the Jewish position.
Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because:
Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies.
Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah.
Biblical verses "referring" to Jesus are mistranslations.
Jewish belief is based on national revelation.
But first, some background: What exactly is the Messiah?
The word "Messiah" is an English rendering of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which means "anointed." It usually refers to a person initiated into God's service by being anointed with oil. (Exodus 29:7, 1-Kings 1:39, 2-Kings 9:3)" link: http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892792.html
so if they are now going to accept jesus, does that mean he does meet the qualifications? i'm atheist and this is just hilarious how religion can change for appearantly no reason at all, other than they are losing followers.
President George H W Bush has said an atheist is not a patriot and should not be a citizen of the USA. We are one nation under God. Adding to the evidence that atheists are totally useless. It follows that the opinion of an atheist is equally useless and a waste of ink. God bless
LOL @ justsayin
Bringing up Bush to argue against atheism is like bring up Jenny McCarthy to argue against vaccinating your kids. Not that I'm surprised that a clueless dolt such as yourself finds wisdom in the words of another clueless dolt.
And we all know that GWB spoke only the gospel truth, now don't we...
Bush Sr. was not only a patriot WW 2fighter pilot, but a man of incredible intelligence that has devoted himself to God, country and family. A role model of Truth and inspiration for generations to come. Your opinion is as useless as the idiot that calls itself wasp. God bless
George "H" W Bush. How is your reading comprehension level ? God bless
WASP – They are not saying they "accept" him as Messiah. They don't. Some Jews though are saying ok he existed and was a Jew but nothing other than that.
I am Jewish and my personal belief is that I am not convinced this person existed. None of the gospel accounts were written until sometimes decades after the events supposedly took place.
1. The article points out that they arent accepting Jesus as Messiah, rather just as a person who was a good Jew
2. The primary reason Jews dont accept Jesus as Messiah is that He didnt have an earthly kingdom, He didnt physically sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem, and kick the Romans out.
According to Jewish thought, the crucifixion demonstrated that Jesus was literally "accursed of God". – Deuteronomy 21: Messiahs simply did not get crucified.
@just sayin': see page 21.
@just sayin': correction see page 20.
Prayer changes things .
No, no it doesn't.
Yes,yes it do
What exactly does prayer change???
ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:
Many Jews don't accept the historical Abraham or the historical Moses. I doubt they will accept the historical Jesus at least the one who rose from the dead.
Only for the newcomers.
o origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482
“New Torah For Modern Minds
Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.
Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “
The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."
hit report abuse on reality garbage
Jesus Christ is God. Praise Jesus Christ!!!!!!!!!!
The Apostles' Creed 2010: (updated based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years)
I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
human-created state of bliss called heaven.
I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
girl named Mary.
Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.
(references used are available upon request)
If someone ... say .. tomorrow... went on national TV and proclaimed that he was the "son of god" and that he has come back ... would you follow him? Of course you wouldn't. your dead zombie guy jesus did exactly that ... 2000 years ago he publicly claimed he was the som of a god. You'd lock up that person today and demand a court-ordred psych evaluation. If you wouldn't believe someone NOW... why do you believe that guy from 2000 years ago who said exactly the same thing?
anything by reality is not worth being printed hit report abuse on all of it
Rabbi Boteach ... that's just it. Jesus did say He was the Son of God. He even called the Almighty "Abba" ... an Aramaic word roughly translated as "daddy". Matthew 16:13-17 Jesus asks the disciples , "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." But what about you?" He asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by men but by my Father in heaven." QED Jews beginning to accept Jesus is one more indication of the end times. Praise God! Maranatha!
Unfortunately for Shmuley the Scripture rings true: "as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day." Romans 11:8
Ever learning , and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:7
There are many reasons for accepting Jesus as a man of great wisdom, beautiful ethical teachings, and profound Jewish patriotism."
But Jesus did claim to be God and He also received worship thus he acted like God. This allows two possiblilties he is a liar or God, not a good teacher. If he was a patriot he would have destroyed Rome or at least gain freedom for Israel.
Uh, there is at least a third possibility – that he was insane, or is an amalgamation and embellishment of several people.
I don't know about you, but I don't take the crazy bum on the corner claiming to be the messiah at his word. I don't see why it should have been any different 2000 years ago.
Top Ten Signs You're a Christian
10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.
11. The only named abomination in the NT is Luke 16:5 where Jesus calls the love of money an abomination. Totally ignoring this one, they prefer to select some of the 65 abominations in the OT to back up their personal opinions.
I really hate it when people that actually believe 1-10 call themselves Christian.
I really hate it more when they go around telling other people that they're Christian, and the fact that atheists believe that they're Christians as well doesn't help, either.
someone is a little bigoted.
Well said. I just wish those who follow contemporary religious beliefs would be abel to do some crirical thinking and have the courage to accept the conclusions.
Don't you have even a little, if not empathy, sympathy for the poor deluded fools that continue to spend their hard earned money to support the Christian and other religious myths. I agree with all of you points, but trying to get even the Holiday Christians, those that only show up at Easter and Xmas, to just be rational and stop supporting the church is an impossible task. Thanks for trying. RAmen blessings from the FSM.
Oh that's right RustyJ....Christians are not bigoted, they just thinnk everyone else is wrong.
I reaally don't understand promoting your religion at the expense of others. I love my own form of Christianity very much but will never say other religions need to follow mine to achieve whatever those followers want. i think freedom of religion must include respect of religions.
Nii, I think the world would be a MUCH better place if we all just kept our beliefs to ourselves. No religion or system of beliefs automatically 'deserves' respect. Respect is earned, not given(IMHO). peace
Respect is not meant to be earned by the reciever. It is earned by the giver. I don't think when u want love u ask the object of ur affection to earn it first. You give and u earn a return on your love. The same goes for respect.
If I loved someone I wouldn't keep him nailed to a cross; the term itself very negative.
this is getting worse, if you have to reclaim him. this is really getting to be something.
this is really getting worse, if you have to do this.
Cartman is Jewish now too. I guess I'll convert as well
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.