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Mainstream Christian theology's position held that Judaism had been supplanted, the Jewish covenant with the divine no longer valid, because of the incarnation of God as Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.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."
the people who say the Romans killed Jesus not the jews are idiots! the Romans wouldn't have killed him if the jews didn't beg them to.
Very few Jews knew who Jesus was... especially the ones in Jerusalem. The Romans needed no Jewish begging to kill Jesus. He had just made a dramatic show of defiance to Roman rule by riding into Jerusalem while his followers, in an act of great symbolism, tossed palms in his path.
He wrote his own crucifixion warrant, pal.
Exactly. The book of John recounts that Jesus said to Pilate “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
You know, just because Jesus is called "God" in the NT doesn't mean he is the same person as the Father. Calling anyone else but the Father a god is not unheard of in the Scriptures. Judges were called gods, heck God said to Moses that he was made "God" to Pharoah. Jesus said all authority had been given to him, so in effect, he is God to us right now.. That doesn't dishonor the Father at all – he was the one who gave Jesus this authority. Think about it.
A Jew by definition denies the divinity of Christ, while in the Gospels Christ affirmed his own divinity repeatedly and thus he cannot be a Jew. A Semite, maybe. Not a Jew.
Evidently they do not teach the BOOK OF ISAIAH to young Jews . Specifically Isaiah 53 Jesus´s mission is 2 fold
You can´t comeback a King If you´ve never left !
I think you need to get a new dictionary, that's not the definition of Jewish at all – especially considering that Judaism predates Christianity. You cannot define your faith by the rejection of a concept that didn't even exist yet.
You are not Adonai. You are not given the right to decide who is a Jew and if Yeshua is the Messiah of a Jew, they are no longer a Jew in your mind. Yeshua is my Messiah and I am more of a Jew than you.
Jesus was a Jew He was a Rabbi , I guess they do not teach the BOOK of ISAIAH Specifically ISAIAH 53
to young Jews anymore
Rabbis didn't exist until after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, the term Rabbi as used in the bible simply means "teacher". Jesus was not a Jew, he was the Son of God.
Boteach's needs to do a little more study of both the old and new testaments, for he makes two mistakes based on both.
First he states, "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."
The scriptures are clear that Paul met the ressurected Jesus on the Road to Demascus, Paul was against the Christians and then followed Jesus.
The old testament makes it clear that into us a Child would be born who would be called "EL GABOR" or Mighty God.
6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
And as Far as Jesus' claim of being God, he made it clear who he was by the scriptures he quoted.
“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “ Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
They can have him...
Richard Allen Greene cites some well-credentialed sources. I'm sold on their intellect and their ability to do well for themselves, but the jury is still out on their character, interests, and relevence until it is explained exactly what they have done to help other people overcome their problems. If my legs are lame and I have a mountain to cross I need a competent guide, not just someone who's done it before.
True Christians who read and study the Bible, do not blame Jews for Jesus' death. Yes, Jesus was a Jewish man and the men who carried out the act of crucifixion were also Jewish. However, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. He chose to stay on the cross even though He had the power at any moment to be freed by the entire forces of Heaven. He even told Pilate that he (Pilate) only had as much power as God gave him. Again, He had the power to be freed by the forces of Heaven, but he chosed to stay and die as payment for all the sins of mankind. He even prayed for the men who killed him because they didn't really know what they were doing. Someday we'll know. I'm a Christian and I believe the Jews are God's chosen people. As a Gentile, we'll know someday just how much Jesus loves all Jews and every man regardless of his Faith. Read the Bible.
The men who carried out the sentencing and crucifixion were Roman, not Jewish.
you said "He even told Pilate that he (Pilate) only had as much power as God gave him."
My question is than how he is GOD?
He was a true messenger of God indeed and brought the message to all human beings to bow down to one God who is the only sovereign and omnipotent.
I'm not a Christian. One of the reasons for this is that most Christians refuse to open their minds beyond their southern pastors limited interpretations of Christianity. They pick and choose the verses they live by. You read the Bible for what it is and the valuable lessons it teaches. Thanks for that.
Jesus is God
John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
John 8:58 – Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
John 14:6-7 – Jesus said to him, “I AM the way, the truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 10:30-33 – Jesus answered them, “I and My Father are one.”
John 19:10-11: So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
1st Thessalonians 2:14-16: For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.
Revelation 2:9: ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Rev. 3:9: Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.
I believe in the Trinity of the Godhead. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Very nicely put...God doesn't want there to be this wall between Jew and Gentile, because Jews are God's chosen people he wants all of them to be with him, but he knows that many of them don't believe that Jesus is the human form of God, that's where us Gentiles come in to the scene. God wants us to help teach the Jews about Jesus so his people can live in heaven with Him. There isn't supposed to be a division between us, we are to work together as it says in the New Testament. Jews need to understand that just believing that Jesus was a Jew doesn't seal the deal, Jesus has always been a Jew whether they believed it or not. Jews need to believe that there is salvation from their sins THROUGH Jesus Christ, that is why God came to earth in human form, to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin because he knew that the blood of animal sacrifices only covered the sin, it didn't abolish it...Jesus' human blood sacrifice abolishes it, why?? Because in God's thought, to sacrifice a human means more to Him than a mere animal, it's human blood that was needed to cleanse us of our sins.
My point in saying generally that the men were Jewish who carried out the crucifixion, was merely to point out that the Jews wanted Jesus crucified. When asked by Pilate whether to set him free or crucify him, overwhelmingly the Jews cried out "crucify" him. They chose a well known criminal to be free in his stead.
This was all part of the plan. Just as God had hoped Adam and Eve would not sin, they did. This was part of the plan for saving mankind (and womankind) unlimately.
Why does god punish offspring for the actions of their parents? If an earthly father punished his kids because of something their mother did, we'd be calling CPS.
Jesus was sent to cure the jews of their moral decilne. where morality was cast aside for the rule of law. there it was okay to sell out your family as long as it was "legal"
I never looked at jews as the ones who killed Jesus however I do think this is all a tactic to warm up to American Christians so we continue to support israel. The only thing I have against American jews is that they put isreal first and are willing to see the USA crumble if that's what it takes for them to realize their mad dream. Other then that I do feel I do feel a spiritual kinship with.
reclaiming?? Jesus Christ was always Jewish.... BOW DOWN TO A POWER GREATER THEN YOURS.... BOW....
Read this part again. He states that Jesus is a man of great wisdom, beautiful ethical teachings, and profound Jewish patriotism and yet you don't believe him. If you believe that Jesus was just a man and deny His divinity (he is not God), then He is a liar because He said that He is the Son of God. If He is a liar then how is He a man of great wisdom and beautiful ethical teachings. You can't have it both ways.
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."
He said He was the Son of Man, not the son of God. He referred to God as Our Father and, yes, as His Father but only becuase He is a part of us. Maybe you should read the Bible before trying to refer to it.
The "divinity" of Jesus was voted on at the Council of Nicea.
Everyone is the son or daughter of God, even those who don't believe in God. Jesus's message was one of forgiveness to anyone. No one is beyond redemption. So, in the end, it doesn't matter to Jesus if you believe him to be divine or not.
And taking lessons and recognizing the beauty and wisdom of another religion does not mean you have to subscribe to the dogma. Have an open mind.
1.Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
2.Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).
3.Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27).
4.My God, My God, why have you forsaken me, (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
5.I thirst (John 19:28).
6.It is finished (John 19:30).
7.Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46).
Th-th-th-th-that's all, folks! (Porky Pig)
“For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
“Professing to be wise, they became fools,” (Romans1:20-22, written testimony by Paul to the church at Rome, A.D. 55)
Reason for new pursuit by jews: they realize there is money to be made with jesus. It was up until now a pure spiritual path, that even they could touch. Now, with business opportunities scarce they are emboldened. Oh well, something else that will turn into cr_p.
Wow, religion turning to cr_p. Can't be a long journey
Watch what anthropologists, archeologists and religious historians who are seeking the truth have to say about where god came from:
Christ is Risen. Christos Enesti; Kristos Voskres!
@ just sayin': (from an earlier post, page 17) "just sayin
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"
so i'm not a patriot according to you a little nobody and a laughing stock ex-president. lmao i served eight years as active army, my MOS was 13 bravo artillery cannon crewmember. i went to fight in your presidents fictional war. i was there, no weapons of mass destruction YOUR president lied to you, but i had to go fight his war. i proudly served in the armed forces until i was honorably discharged due to injury. so here is the deal, if i'm not a patriot how about you bring your scrawnny rear over to where i'm at and we can settle this insult like men. i live in brroklyn ny, if you want my e-mail so we can settle things i will gladly give it to you. second note bring YOUR president bush, i have a few things i would like to say to him about HIS war.
Thank you for your service, WASP. This is going to be a bigger problem as leaders who have never served are voted into the White House, and have no clue what it is like, personally, to have been put in harm's way. At least Bush I actually served, his son Bush II did everything to screw off and get out of it.
? Is that a real quote from Bush or another made up rumor?
@double double: don't know but "just sayin" crossed a line with this old soldier. he wants to spout stuff directed at me about not being a patriot then he better be able to back it up. i swore an oath to protect this country and i still stand by my brothers and sisters in arms. i apologize for sounding aggressive but he really set me off.
Sigh. Here's what one Atheist thinks of all this: leave us out of it. No one asked you what you think of us, and fortunately our beliefs do no require you to approve.
Why not just stay out of the conversation altogether.
Graham, as an atheist, why are you reading religious articles and the related postings, only to whine that there are posts about atheists? The only reason atheists are mentioned in debates here, is their seemingly endless desire to attack those who don't believe in their dogma. You know that thing they like to bash theists for?
While I can't speak for Graham, I think that theists have brought this upon themselves. They are the ones who brought the lawyers to the school boards, and are now pushing legislation through their state legislatures. Fortunately, most of it has failed to this point. This has brought atheist members of the community out in force, because we are tired of our economy being destroyed, our educational facilities being destroyed, dealing with doctors who secretly don't "believe" in the medical science that they are practicing, and an increasingly anti-science environment. No wonder why the Chinese and Indians are taking over our economy!
This article does not even acknowledge the existence of Messianic Jews who do believe in Jesus. Is this normal?
By definition, Messianic Jews, are not Jews. They are Christians. They are typically good Christians that incorperate the Old Testament into their practice, acknowledging and celebrating the customs, festivals and holidays. Jews do not belive in the Worshiping of Jesus as God and since the Messianic Jews do, they are Christians.
It is bizarre that so many define "Jew" as one who rejects Jesus. How empty ones faith must be to define it by the rejection of something. Either way, a Jew who believes in Jesus is a Jew, just as Paul, John, Jesus and all the rest of the original "Christians"
Where people get confused is that Gentile converts to Christianity were given a waver to become Christian without following Jewish Law.
In short a Christian is not usually a Jew, but a Jew can be a Christian.
@Well–If ignorance is bliss, you must be very blissful. Happy Passover and Easter. May they both, together, provide you enlightenment.
Clarify: You are not Adonai. You are not given the right to decide who is a Jew and if Yeshua is the Messiah of a Jew, they are no longer a Jew in your mind. Yeshua is my Messiah and I am more of a Jew than you.
@WJS3310–If ignorance is bliss, you too must be very blissful. Happy Passover and Easter. May they both, together, provide you enlightenment.
Every single author of every single word of the New Testament was an observant Jew. They were Jews who believed their Messiah had come. This is why they persecuted and killed the Christian Jews. Paul changed his mind on this.
The Romans allowed this persecution to happen, because all involved were JEWS. Some Jews might not like it, but it is not their job or their right to decide who is a Jew and who is not.
@Well..Interesting how hostile you become when your beliefs that are not mainstream Jewish are discussed from the traditional point of view. In no modern Jewish Temple is Jesus ever prayed to as G_D. Jews pray to G_D by many names, none Jesus. Jews, born Jews, who belief Jesus is the Messiah, are Christians. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Christian. Christians all have Jewish roots. You may continue posting your retoric until the Messiah comes home, but the reality will not change.
My Jewish brothers and sister will morn when they see the Messiah because they cursed him and did not believe.
I'm a born Jew and Jeshua is my Messiah and I'm proud that He is a Jew.
Amen! from Beth M
Athiest require cold hard facts, because sadly they have never experienced the Divine personally in their lives, for the Angels dont go where they are not welcomed, FREE WILL is always honored. Happy Easter
And what of us apostates who have finally put away our childish belief in imaginary friends?
Your 'reasoning' is circular – if you believe, then you will believe! lol
Also freewill is completely incompatible with an omniscient deity.
Thanks for playing, Happy zombie Jew day.
No, it's that atheists do not suffer from the delusions you are afflicted with.
Atheists do not require facts to support their faith system. Take the origin of the first living cell. They believe with absolute certainty that DNA formed through an unknown process which has never been repeated by experimentation. Further, again through an unknown process never repeated experimentally a semi-permeable membrane formed around this DNA. Thankfully all the supporting cellular hardware and DNA programing required for mitosis also came to be through random forces never described or shown through experimentation. But theists are the ones who believe in unproven fairy tales.
"Athiest require cold hard facts"
of course, because without facts people are free to make up any old nonsense....hence religion.
"But theists are the ones who believe in unproven fairy tales."
yes because atheists dont resort to saying 'it was magic' like the theists do.
and seriously, its really poor logic to try to use the argument that because we are unable to recreate something in the lab it must therefore be false.
"Atheists do not require facts to support their faith system. "
What facts aren't required? We know that DNA exists (FACT), and was formed from a natural process that has yet to be decoded (FACT), like every other process that we don't fully understand yet (FACT). We don't require an imaginary creator in the gaps of our understanding, nor his/her/its pitiful, foolish followers.
Cedar, I don't know your faith system directly, but most atheists will claim only to believe in things supported by science. There is no scientific explanation for how DNA formed, became encased in a membrane or where RNA came from. There is only the belief, the faith if you will that it happened.
Show me the science. Show me a chemical process in nature that could create life and I will accept that you are not putting your FAITH in unsupported "magic".
Atheists. Trolling the comments sections of religious forums? Are you really so possesed of a deity you do not even believe in? Tools. You are practicing worship and do not even know it. Devotion of time, energy, and resources. But to what end?
BTW, your self-imposed sense of superiority is unwarranted. Get over yourselves. When you're done patting yourselves on the back, there's real work to do.
LOL @ #around. Who do you think DOES the "real work"?
It's so much easier to throw up your hands in the face of hard answers and so "Oh, well, god did that. My work here is done."
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. 1 Cor 1:18-19
For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 1 Cor 1:21
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 1 Cor 2:14
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.