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Mainstream Christian theology's position held that Judaism had been supplanted, the Jewish covenant with the divine no longer valid, because of the incarnation of God as Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.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.
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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.
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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."
To my Jewish friends: Jesus Christ is alive. That's my theology and all the proof that any of us have. How do we know? He showed us. Ask and He will show you, too. That's how He works, whether it appeals to your intellect or not. Cling to Him and Him alone because He is the ark who will preserve you to and prepare you for the next life. God bless you my friends.
That’s the same thing Charles Manson’s girls said.
Tom, Tom don't see you here that much, I must have really left a mark to run you off for that long or was it just that you couldn't access a keyboard at the Betty Ford Clinic until now. God bless
Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Cor 4:4
The One Ring corrupts all who hold it until it is cast into the volcano. Praise Frodo.
He puts the lotion into the basket
The blindness comes because of what is in human heart.
Those who seek Him will recognize Him, but those whose hearts are darkened by pride, love of Self and sin that's in their hearts, they will fall prey to satan's lies. He loves to work out of shadows, and his favorite tactic is to convince his captives that he doesn't exist. That gives his freedom to chisel their minds, to shape their thinking, and condition them to his will .....That's how he gets them like flies in a fly-trap!
Christ is a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. Luke 2:34-35
“So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’
"And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they SAW the Lord.” (John 20:18-20, written eyewitness testimony by John that Jesus was RAISED FROM THE DEAD)
You have a 2000 year old anecdotal account of an event that violates all known laws of physics? Well, that settles it then, lol.
If God created something from nothing, then both something and nothing would be apart of him. The problem is that something and nothing are total opposites. Like good and evil. Nothing is associated with no movement, something is associated with movement and to be both would be like saying that truth and lies are the same. If God created something from nothing, he would not be a jealous God because he could easily turn something back into nothing. The point here is that no scripture in the Bible specifically states that God created something from nothing. Science is promoting it and the church is beginning to accept it.
Our God is a God of the living and not of the dead, thus he has no plan to create nothing or become it. (Luke 20:38) In our God the creator of our Lord Jesus Christ, time has no beginning or end. Whose Son is the Christ? David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son? (Luke 20:41-44)Baptism is associated with accepting Jesus and being saved by grace. Being saved by grace means you should have received a punishment for your sin which hurt other people. The problem is that Grace tends to be put above The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:37. If Grace were above the Greatest Commandment, then the devil could be forgiven and he would be in heaven. The devil does not love God and this is the reason he is not in heaven. The purpose of following the law is to show others that we love God. Unfortunately, those that view Grace above the Greatest commandment are using the law as a means to judge others as being not good enough to follow it. This is the common argument against the Jew. Love or judge, the choice is yours! Matthew 22:37 states you are called to Love and the law tells us how. Not knowing that God loves us is associated with our inherited sin from the fall of Adam and Eve. For God so loved the world that he sent his son not to condemn the world but to save it. Christ forgives our old sinful ways, since being born again is associated with a change in behavior because we now see that God loves us and therefore we now desire to love him. If grace is infinite, then it would not be a choice to love God. If grace is infinite, there would be no reason to change our ways and become a new creation or be born again. If grace is infinite, then God would accept evil and thus be evil. To forgive and not expect any change in behavior would produce more of the same behavior that the original forgiveness required.
"If God created something from nothing, then both something and nothing would be apart of him. The problem is that something and nothing are total opposites. Like good and evil. Nothing is associated with no movement, something is associated with movement and to be both would be like saying that truth and lies are the same."
WTH is this jibberish? This sounds like some of the rantings I hear from friends when they are stoned.
Finite Universe – zero and one are equal (matter can be infinitely divided into nothing – God is Nothing that created everything out of emptiness) "At the Planck distance and the Planck time all physics, as we know it today collapses. This is the reason we call the beginning of the big bang a singularity. You cannot apply ordinary reasoning there. Zero and one have no sense there.OK?" J-P Burri There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Big Bang views one and zero as being equal, since it states that zero appeared out of the absence of zero; then zero created something. Many scientists believe or have faith that light does not have mass, thus they believe the Universe is Finite. Religion promotes the most commonly accepted idea of the group. If light does not have mass, then it would be impossible to move an electron. Light described as a particle means nothing, if it has no mass since it would be impossible to distinguish from nothing because no mass means void of substance. If it has no substance, then nothing is present to distinguish the particle from other particles.
The Big Bang theory prevents any condition where something has always been. Infinity is defined as the difference between one and zero. Once one and zero are the same according to the big bang, the definition of infinity as stated above is no longer valid. If the big bang occurred, all math's must deal with the proof of 0=1.
Infinite Universe – zero is not equal to one (there is a point where matter can't be divided – God is Something that can neither be created nor destroyed that is dependent on nothing.) An infinite universe lacks a beginning, so there is no one set past or a given future. The infinite Universe supports the view that all particles considered to be energy have mass or substance; that there is one fundamental particle which accounts for all the diverse forms of matter in the Universe. It is the ultimate example of team work, since it fundamentally has no reason to destroy itself. So, why does evil exist? Free will and without freewill, God would lack choice. Balance is the nature of perfection in the Infinite Universe. In an infinite Universe the total amount of something remains constant. When an atom is divided it no longer has the characteristics of the original element. There is a point where matter can't be divided and at this point something and nothing are distinctly defined. In the infinite Universe, the term infinite is used to describe the difference between something (1) and nothing (0). There is an infinite difference between zero and one.
Therefore the principles of human evolution from an insane species require a virgin birth of Adam and Eve for the establishment of a moral and just human government (Isaiah 9:6).
Why is it important what a person believes? Why isn't there more importance to who a person is? Why don't people realize the goodness in all religious beliefs and be respectful? Why do people use organized religion and national flags to justify actions? Why do people who truly love their beliefs feel comfortable with love emanating from within?
Because religion was DEVELOPED as a means to control people, so it stands to reason that those to believe in it have been taught (brainwashed) into trying to convert/control people as well. Even those who don't believe in it will say "God bless this" or "God bless that" knowing some of the sheep will follow their lead when the time comes simply because God was mentioned.
Also, there are a bunch of Republican theists trying to become president and they have the intention of interfering in secular law with their voodoo and witchcraft. So I would say it matters.
I realize many people do not know that Yahoshua/Yashua is the Hebrew Name given to Messiah at Birth, but it would be very prudent for news people to start using his real given name in News articles so that people start getting used to it. Why? Any Conservative or Orthodox Jew ( not Reform, Agnostic, Atheist ) would not accept a name that is not founded in the Original Hebrew. So, when U say Rabbi's are accepting jesus – you are not seeing the next battle. As much as it makes me sick to my stomach to say this – Let the Gentile Believers keep their jesus, but give the Hebrew/Yisraelite believers their Messiah/Mashiach Yahshua. Then everyone can sit down and reason out why these two names are perceived to be at odds with each other. You may not understand what I have just presented, but Wisdom will be revealed. The choice is always yours to start a good trend in relationship building between people.
Dear Rabbi Shaul , Many Christians have been for Years referring To Our Lord Jesus as "Yashua a Mashiac ".
Please do not think that REAL Christians do not know and respect Jesus Roots . The only Gentiles that have a
problem with Yashua Bieng Jewish are Gentiles that were not Christians to begin with . Like in the Inquisition
there werre many popes , priests and people that called themselves Christian that were not .
I don't see how you can come up with middle ground for the subject. Either Jesus was Lord and Savior, or he was a con-artist.
There are a lot of potential explanations, just look at modern day cult leaders. All religions start as cults that eventually grow large enough to be called a religion.
The third option is...he didn't exist at all! There are NO historical records of him except for the Bible, and even then, all records are hearsay and third party re-tellings of his "deeds" 40 years or more AFTER the fact.
That is why you fail, luke.
Prayer is delusional.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Even though the post is by a fraud the wonderful Truth that 'atheism is not healthy for children and other living things' is being proclaimed in bold print for all to see. Prayer answered. God bless
Welcom back repitive three word TROLL
DO NOT FEED. IT IS USELESS TO EXPECT INTELLIGENT DIALOGE
Not gifted in reading comprehension are you Elmer? Was that Gantry or Fudd? God bless
Who am I imitating? I just want people to know that prayer is delusional and it changes things. It turns otherwise rational adults into believing they can talk to an imaginary friend. People need to know this.
People need to know "atheism is not healthy for children and other living things " not the lying drivel you post afterwards. God bless
Well written and insightful article, Mr. Greene.
“Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had RAISED FROM THE DEAD.” (John 12:1, written eyewitness testimony by John that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead)
"I see bigfoot"
If it is written it must be true
I love when someone calls religion "nonsense". Bet you teach your kids there's a Santa Claus too.
At least you accept it is no different than believing in Santa Claus.
You seem confused. Disbelief in Santa Claus is part and parcel of the same rationality that rejects ludicrous religious claims.
When do you all begin dancing around a fire and chanting?
Prayer changes things ..
Yes, it changes people into slavish m0r0ns!
I've prayed for months for you to go away and thus for it has accomplished nothing.... much like all other prayer.
Why an all knowing and all seeing being would need a quota filled on requests as if he is a cosmic DJ in the clouds in beyond me. Especially since everything is supposed to be part of his master plan, I recon little speaks of the insanity of this egotistical deity more than the notion of prayer.
demons are drawn like moths to a flame to oppose prayer which calls mankind to God
Nothing quite like reading people who believe in fiction arguing that other people that believe in fiction are wrong. Especially when the fictional character in question that one group so reveres was a student of the religion of the other group.
"No my god is best"
"no you killed my god's son (who is actually my god)"
"no he bowed to my god first (and he isn't his own son)"
"no my god hates your people which is why you have been through so much hardship"
"no my god is going to send a warrior to show that he loves us best and chose us"
"hey do you want to do billions of dollars in weapons deals to make sure the brown's guys' god doesn't win out over my god and your god?"
"good thing we all have nuclear weapons AND we believe in all this nonesense"
Bravo, Jemz - you are so right! (LOL)
The fact is there was a historical Jesus All of wha he said is recorded properly and even accuratly more so than
Julias Ceasers book about his travels If you cand believe in Julias Ceaser then why not Jesus ? Before commenting
on the Bible READ the BIBLE !
Thanks W.G.... you lost me at the talking snake
Its obvious you have not read it word for word cover to cover.
Neither have you Elmer.... you have read a book translated from Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Hebrew which no longer exists anywhere in its original form. That (much like the telephone game) leads me to worry about how authentic any of it could possibly be.
This may work in your favour though as maybe the part about the giant boat that managed to put polar bears and elephants and all 250 000 species of beetle on it may have been mistranslated and there for not require me to lower my IQ by 100 points in order to believe it.
Watch what anthropologists, archeologists and religious historians seeking the truth have to say about where god came from.
I don´t have enough faith to be an atheist . Anyone can make a film and make it say anything they want .
But to this day PLEEEZE , Show me where Jesus´s Body IS Point to it and say HERE IT IS and I´ll believe you
It takes a leap of blind faith to believe in organized religion.
It does not take faith to not believe in an organized religion.
“Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]
“They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]
“The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]
“No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. The only people to heed your warnings are those who reverence their Lord, even when alone in their privacy, and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat). Whoever purifies his soul, does so for his own good. To God is the final destiny. [35:18]
“…anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people....." Qur'an [5:32]
Most exalted is the One in whose hands is all kingship, and He is Omnipotent.The One who created death and life for the purpose of distinguishing those among you who would do better. Quran [67.2]
Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous. Quran [5:46]
Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.
God sent down His of prophets (Noah, Ibrahim, Mosses Jesus and Mohammed were among thousands) who carried this single message to the whole humanity (And they all had the highest moral standards). That is the message of Islam.
O people of the scripture, do not transgress the limits of your religion, and do not say about GOD except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was a messenger of GOD, and His word that He had sent to Mary, and a revelation from Him. Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messengers. You shall not say, "Trinity." You shall refrain from this for your own good. GOD is only one god. Be He glorified; He is much too glorious to have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. GOD suffices as Lord and Master. Quran [4:171]
(Jesus) As a messenger to the Children of Israel: "I come to you with a sign from your Lord – I create for you from clay the shape of a bird, then I blow into it, and it becomes a live bird by God's leave. I restore vision to the blind, heal the leprous, and I revive the dead by God's leave. I can tell you what you eat, and what you store in your homes. This should be a proof for you, if you are believers. [3:49]
I love how christians feel the need to quote scripture. Written by MEN. Men living 1800 years ago whose knowledge of the world is surpassed by a kindergartener in modern times. And those who claimed to be divinely inspired would now be called divinely schizophrenic. We all scoff at the Roman and Greek mythology now. In 2000 years I truly hope humans reside in a peaceful, science and reason based society that similiary scoffs at popular beleif in a grumpy jealous judgmental bearded man in the sky and his tortured cosmic zombie son, or an old ex-slave wizard parting entire seas with a wave of his hand, or a violence loving prophet who takes a spin on a flying donkey. GET A GRIP PEOPLE. ATHEISM ISN'T A RELIGION, IT IS A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH REALITY. One love y'all.
Not gifted with reading comprehension i see. The post is not by a Christian quoting scripture. God bless
To smk -You keep referring to the koran which in its beggining was corrupt ( Surah 53 in it´s unchanged original entirety)
Where Mohammed says that Allah had daughters ! I´ve never ever in the old testament or new Testament seen a mistake .
Jesus even Claimed to be GOD . Jesus was Fully man and Fully GOD This is why HE could become the sacrifice for our sins .
Just saying. Your powers of comprehension are mind boggling. I, with my feable mind, was merely making a blanket statement and since this was the most scripture I had seen I posted. I will make a general post to appease you.
"Jesus even Claimed to be GOD . Jesus was Fully man and Fully GOD This is why HE could become the sacrifice for our sins ."
A M E N !
No Jew is complete without Yeshua. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. My heart rejoices when I see Jews recognizing their Messiah.
But this too is the fulfilment of the Scriptures, for the last chapter of human hysory, but only the beginning of it. God will cause the Nation of Israel to be born in one day. It was born physically in 1948, but spiritual birth of it is yet to come.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out... He has hidden them from those who are wise in their own eyes, but revealed them to the humble, and those of broken and contrite hearts...
“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were EYEWITNESSES of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16, written testimony by Peter, A.D. 65)
"I saw the loch ness monster"
(2 jemzinthekop 1:16, written testimony by me, April 2012)
Makes it true right?
But you never did right ? But Pe. ter and all the Apostles along with 500 other witnesses saw Jesus
after he had risen and saw him Accend for the last time into the clouds . 500 eye witnesses . Jesus also told a story about a beggar named Lazerus that died and how the rich guy in front of who´s house Lazerus would beg used to steo over him . One day the beggar and the rich guy died and the rich guy pleaded with Abraham to tell his brothers to change before it was too late and Abraham said they have the Torah to teach them if they won´t believe that then what will telling them anything do .
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.