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Jews reclaim Jesus as one of their own
Some Jewish leaders are encouraging Jews to see Jesus as one of their own.
April 5th, 2012
02:36 PM ET

Jews reclaim Jesus as one of their own

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Mainstream Christian theology's position held that Judaism had been supplanted, the Jewish covenant with the divine no longer valid, because of the incarnation of God as Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.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."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Jesus • Judaism

soundoff (2,641 Responses)
  1. CM

    Many non believers say that what Jesus taught was taught by others before him, such as the second commandment, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself", to forgive your enemies no matter what. Wow!!! what human being on the history of this world would come up with such a thing. NO HUMAN BEING would had ever said that. If there was one, I guess he/she did a horrible job because is not celebrated as Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    In order for Eternal Life the first and second commandment needs to be in our daily lives.
    We study the skies and the Universe and the dark matter in the Universe and we still want to see something.
    We come empty.
    You don't have to go as far in the skies, you can see the goodness of Our Lord here on Earth, just listen.

    and to the Jews, you gave us Abraham, Isaah, Moses and Elijah, and the beauty of it is that they have eternal life for doing God's work along with Jesus Christ. Remember this earth is just the beginning, just wait for your Good Friday that Easter will be there in three days.

    Go ahead an celebrate your celebrities, but you will come empty handed, that my friend is your Fee Will to do whatever you want and not following the instructions, the manual, the commandments.

    The Free Will, the Freedom you have it. You have the Freedom to do whatever you want, but we have commandments to follow., is up to you to follow them. Just like your parents know where you are heading with your decisions you make in life the Father know too.

    God Bless and have a wonderful Good Friday.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • reason

      Check out this video to see how anthropologists, archeologists and religious historians believe God evolved:

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg&w=640&h=390]

      April 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  2. MANOFGOD

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYEeb2ysy6U&w=640&h=390]

    April 6, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • momoya

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lOq8WCih5w&w=640&h=390]

      April 6, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  3. xmxm

    Enough already. God does not exist, stop wasting your time, and talk about something real.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Bill P

      xmxm – If as you assert that indeed God does not exist, then why are you here, as you say, "wasting your time"? But, instead, you are drawn to discussions about God, so that while you pronounce denial, you keep an eye out on what you fear is the truth.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • reason

      Bill, atheists and other non-religious people are trying to make the world a better place by waking people up. If in your heart you want to better understand where they come from watch this video:

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries&w=640&h=390]

      April 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Double R

      Bill P – Well said, brother.

      xmxm – Do me a favor, I'm sure you believe that we cannot prove he exist. Tell me, can you prove he doesn't? Simply stating something doesn't make it fact, right? That's what Atheists always say to Christians.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Get Real

      Double R,

      The default/fall-back stance in this case (can't be proven or disproven) is NOT that it IS true.

      You cannot prove that there are not any fairies under your garden, helping it to grow - does that mean that they *are there* until disproven?

      April 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • 1st

      Rev 2:9 & Rev 3:9.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Bill P

      reason – It is usually incorrect to so generalize that "exceptions to the rule" are precluded. What is in the heart and mind of an atheist, individually, is not necessarily what is embodied by the whole. In other words, certainly there may be atheists who view, with sincerity, that refuting the fact (or notion) of a Supreme Being is useful and healthy. To the Christian, a true believer in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the adamant belief in no God, while not necessarily surprising, has in its origins the evil side of the belief equation (i.e., Satan) – whether the atheist understands or believes that or not. When the atheist embarks upon an "activist" role to frustrate, suppress, or counter belief in God, it begs the question of why? Shakespeare wrote, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." We assign our greatest energies to those things that we think are most important. So, why do atheists spend their money on bill-boards to counter belief in God? Why do atheists take over (ergo, Santa Monica, Christmas 2011) 90% of the "nativity scene" display positions on a major street only to post anti-God messages? Why do atheists really care when a public assembly of folks desire to have a word of prayer? Since, in the mind of an atheist, there is no cause and effect of prayer, why bother taking that to court? I would have you understand that I look at that and believe that folks are inherently cognizant of God's existence, they cannot escape it, and are simply in denial. The more they protest, the more they reveal that truth.

      April 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  4. treblemaker

    Are you trying to tell me that the only people who can ascend to heaven are Christians?

    April 6, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      That's what they say and on top of it only 144,000 them. Incredible isn't it?

      April 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Woody

      Just how far up does one have to ascend to get to heaven? What's the approximate alti-tude? You seem to know a lot about heaven, how about some technical data?

      April 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  5. Bill P

    It is an interesting notion that the Jews may be looking to study and understand Jesus today. What they will find is that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, having fulfilled every facet of prophesy regarding Him in the Old Testament. All they have to do is (honestly) read chapter 53 of Isaiah and they will get it. In addition to the most recent fulfillment of prophesy that Israel be re-gathered together and restored as a nation (in 1948), it is believed that the Jews are the source of witness for Christ as revealed in the Book of Revelation – i.e., the 144K Jews sealed by God as believers (Revelation 7) – during the Tribulation (final years of judgment on earth). I always wondered what the mechanism would be for the Jews to make that profound about face in belief. Of course, God could simply speak it to be and it would happen, but He wants folks to come to Him on their own. (Free will.)

    April 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • WASP

      @bill p: according to this "Jesus Did Not Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies"

      What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? One of the central themes of biblical prophecy is the promise of a future age of perfection characterized by universal peace and recognition of God. (Isaiah 2:1-4, 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)

      Specifically, the Bible says he will:

      Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
      Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
      Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
      Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world ― on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).
      If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be the Messiah.

      Because no one has ever fulfilled the Bible's description of this future King, Jews still await the coming of the Messiah. All past Messianic claimants, including Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Cochba and Shabbtai Tzvi have been rejected.

      Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming. Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright; in the Bible no concept of a second coming exists.

      ____________________

      2) Jesus Did Not Embody the Personal Qualifications of Messiah

      A. Messiah as Prophet

      The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moses. (Targum – Isaiah 11:2; Maimonides – Yad Teshuva 9:2)

      Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE. During the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews remained in Babylon, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets ― Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

      Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended, and thus could not be a prophet.

      B. Descendent of David

      Many prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5)

      The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David (see Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father ― and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father's side from King David. (1)

      According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, (2) nor will he possess supernatural qualities.

      C. Torah Observance

      The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4)

      Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), "He does not observe Shabbat!"

      ____________________

      3) Mistranslated Verses "Referring" to Jesus

      Biblical verses can only be understood by studying the original Hebrew text ― which reveals many discrepancies in the Christian translation.

      A. Virgin Birth

      The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an "alma" as giving birth. The word "alma" has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as "virgin." This accords Jesus' birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.

      B. Suffering Servant

      Christianity claims that Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the "suffering servant."

      In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews ("Israel") are regarded as one unit. Throughout Jewish scripture, Israel is repeatedly called, in the singular, the "Servant of God" (see Isaiah 43:8). In fact, Isaiah states no less than 11 times in the chapters prior to 53 that the Servant of God is Israel.

      When read correctly, Isaiah 53 clearly [and ironically] refers to the Jewish people being "bruised, crushed and as sheep brought to slaughter" at the hands of the nations of the world. These descriptions are used throughout Jewish scripture to graphically describe the suffering of the Jewish people (see Psalm 44).

      Isaiah 53 concludes that when the Jewish people are redeemed, the nations will recognize and accept responsibility for the inordinate suffering and death of the Jews.

      ______________________

      4) Jewish Belief is Based Solely on National Revelation

      Throughout history, thousands of religions have been started by individuals, attempting to convince people that he or she is God's true prophet. But personal revelation is an extremely weak basis for a religion because one can never know if it is indeed true. Since others did not hear God speak to this person, they have to take his word for it. Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, they do not prove he is a genuine prophet. All the miracles show ― assuming they are genuine ― is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy.

      Judaism, unique among all of the world's major religions, does not rely on "claims of miracles" as the basis for its religion. In fact, the Bible says that God sometimes grants the power of "miracles" to charlatans, in order to test Jewish loyalty to the Torah (Deut. 13:4).

      Of the thousands of religions in human history, only Judaism bases its belief on national revelation ― i.e. God speaking to the entire nation. If God is going to start a religion, it makes sense He'll tell everyone, not just one person.

      Maimonides states (Foundations of Torah, ch. 8):
      The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of the miracles he performed. Whenever anyone's belief is based on seeing miracles, he has lingering doubts, because it is possible the miracles were performed through magic or sorcery. All of the miracles performed by Moses in the desert were because they were necessary, and not as proof of his prophecy.
      What then was the basis of [Jewish] belief? The Revelation at Mount Sinai, which we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears, not dependent on the testimony of others... as it says, "Face to face, God spoke with you..." The Torah also states: "God did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us ― who are all here alive today." (Deut. 5:3)

      April 6, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • jimtanker

      Prophesy, ha ha. That is a good one. It doesn't matter how you try to spin your book. It hasn't predicted anything that has come true.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Bill P

      WASP – Yours is a long treatise with references to the Bible as well as (I am guessing) the other Jewish writings, The Talmud? Not that I would propose a lengthy debate on each point that you make, but I would say,

      1) The rebuilding of the temple, after a two thousand year hiatus in fulfilling the requirement for blood sacrifice, is a perplexing issue. Perhaps you can help me understand how the Jews are able to fulfill the law without blood sacrifice? After the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the Jews were dispersed, and at least by virtue of modern tradition, blood sacrifice was halted. How do the Jews obtain, in keeping with Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, the requirement for atonement of sins? To the Christian, that is an easy answer. Jesus fulfilled the law and the Jews, likely, mistook the humble Jesus as nothing more than a trouble-maker, thus ignoring Isaiah 53.

      2) (A) Jesus, the Messiah, was not the greatest prophet? He predicted His resurrection. And fulfilled it three days after being crucified. Which prophet in the Old Testament exceeded that? Moses was a great prophet but he had doubts and he was disobedient. Jesus was obedient even until death, sacrificing Himself on the cross for the atonement for all sins – past, present and future. Of course, Jesus was more than simply a prophet. He is the Son of God.
      (B) As to lineage, Mary was a descendant of David. As to the Messiah being directly from the seed of a man, that is speculation on your part. I read those verses and do not see such a requirement.
      (C) I guess that this really boils down to can God change the rules? But, just in case you missed it, Hosea 6:6 says, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” This is a problem for those whose strict adherence to rituals become a stumbling block to a personal relationship to God. Go back to the Garden of Eden. Ask yourself, what did God intend for man when He created him? Chapter 3: it is right there. God “walked” and “talked” with Adam and Eve, side-by-side, face-to-face, in person. The whole business of sacrificing animals was not because God was some sort of blood thirsty being that liked to throw down lightening bolts on people below. But the matter of sin separated us from Him, thus Adam and Eve were immediately thrown out of the Garden, lest they ate of the fruit of the Tree of Life and live forever in their sins. Every step of the way, throughout the Old Testament is God showing His love and mercy towards His creation. But sin separates us from Him and cannot be mitigated without anything other than blood. All of that which was done in such sacrifices was in anticipation of Jesus Himself being sacrificed on the cross. Isaiah 53 says it right there. In virtual bold print. I believe that the modern Jews think that the Messiah will simply carry on (actually restart) with “burnt offerings” in the rebuilt temple. Correct? And, if not, why not? Again, isn’t that problematic that there was no form of available redemption for the Jews for 2000 years?

      3) I simply do not agree with your interpretation here. However, your last statement is interesting: “Isaiah 53 concludes that when the Jewish people are redeemed, the nations will recognize and accept responsibility for the inordinate suffering and death of the Jews.” In a way, I look at what you said and think, your saying that the Jews were somehow of paramount importance in and of themselves. Yet, on occasion, the Lord was ready to “consume” them and start all over (with Moses). Much of the suffering of the Jews (and I am not talking about the 1940’s) in Biblical history was because of their disobedience to God. Look back at the Book of Kings, Samuel, and Chronicles. Cycle after cycle of rebellion and sin – and they were endowed with an understanding and personal knowledge of God that was not revealed to others. The Jews are not important because of themselves, they were and are important because of God’s purposes – the provision of a redeemer from sins as well as their role in the final days (which of course is found in Revelation).

      4) I have to come back to what is the fundamental message that is being conveyed in the New Testament, whether you believe it or not:

      “That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and that He rose from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9,10)

      Everything in this debate boils down to: did Jesus rise from the dead after three days? If you don’t believe that, you are not a believer in Jesus Christ.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • WASP

      @bill p: 1) the temple of soloman can't be rebuilt because a muslim mosque sits on the site. so jesus failed to rebuild the temple.
      2) jesus status is arguementive point seeing christians claim him to be a demi-god, yet the messiah is suppose to be human. plus his own existance can't be verified beyond religious text.
      3) on this point you put forth an interesting enigma, god did kill everyone but moses and his family. so the 40 years spent wondering the desert was for nothing. if you include the 1940's if god permitted that to happen he really is pis.sed at the jewish people.
      4)"Everything in this debate boils down to: did Jesus rise from the dead after three days?"
      the problem here is only the christians accept that version of events. so by your own logic everyone else is doomed to hell. now i don't know about you but to me that makes god sound kindof an elitest.

      as far as the matter of my belief system, i'm atheist. i just love studying anything i can get my hands on. researching things and asking the hard questions is what makes my life enjoyible because it forces people to think.

      April 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Bill P

      1) The “Dome of the Rock” as it is called is certainly an issue for rebuilding the temple. Perhaps a few more tunnels under the mosque will do the job. Kaboom!

      2) No point if arguing

      3) Actually, Moses staved off the destruction of the Israelites. (Perhaps you are mixing up what happened with Moses and Noah.) It was an interesting account. Some rather pompous members of the camp in the wilderness decided that they should be able to approach the tabernacle and burn incense – a task that God assigned only to the Levites. In fact, God said that He would destroy anyone who attempted to ignore that rule. So they did, and so did He – almost. Moses interceded, as a “type of Christ”, to seek forgiveness on behalf of God’s people and hold off on destroying them. Moses “reminded” God of His promises. Interesting: had the Creator of the universe simply forgotten the promise to Abraham, to Israel, or did He want to see what Moses would do?

      4) Imagining that we can judge God is really futile. If He created all things, then His knowledge and power are beyond the collective reasoning of all humanity to fathom. Yet, He created us for a reason. Some say, as an “experiment”, or to “play” with us like we are in a “zoo”. I will venture for a moment that these notions are really too absurd as such a Creator of everything must already have all of the knowledge that might be gleaned from experimentation and His ways and thoughts so beyond our own that the notion of simply messing around is beyond even human logic. Here is what He said, "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) I want emphasize the “let us reason together” part. It may be that once we engage in “reasoning” with Him, that we fall into alignment with His way of thinking – relative to purpose and meaning of life – but it certainly defies the notion that God is some sort of ogre. As I pointed out before, He defined the parameters for the Garden of Eden in which He “walked and talked” with Adam and Eve, face-to-face, side-by-side, and in person. Sounds like “fellowship” to me. WASP, short of understanding and experiencing the love of God, there is not otherwise much point.

      April 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  6. Last Call

    In response to Jacques Strappe, the proof are the prophecies that have been fulfilled. Read Isaiah 53 which was written 700 years before Jesus came:

    Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b] He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes[c] his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e]; by his knowledgemy righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong,because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • WASP

      @last call: read this link to understand why you are mistaken.
      http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892792.html or just read above post.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      That's not proof. It's something written in a book thousands of years ago. If Jesus existed, you can't prove the Bible is accurate about his existance. How can you say for sure that they didn't write stories about him to try to fit it into prophecies made beforehand. The only proof you offer is the Bible which is subjective and is NOT proof. The NT is nothing but second-hand accounts or made up stories.

      April 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  7. B rad

    Religion serves a function for the unfortunate masses. However, for those actually here reading this, I don't mind saying that this serves to undermine the unfounded belief system that is faith.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  8. Leucadia Bob

    HAVA NAGILA HAVA NAGILA HAVA NAGILA bum bum bum bum bum
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIu5aPIIzzM&w=640&h=390]

    April 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  9. Limbaugh is a liberal

    What? Jesus was Jewish? I thought he was an American-born gun-toting small-business owner who rallied against taxes and worshipped himself, just like the republican prophets on Foxnews tell me...

    April 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  10. Brother Maynard

    Thing I've been thinking
    God knows everything; including past present and future
    God created man; God gave man free-will
    If god knows everything ( past, present, future ), he knew that man, when given free-will, will do inhumane things to his fellow man.
    How can we ( man ) really choose IF god knows apriori what we will utlimately choose.
    Is free-will really free?

    April 6, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • 21k

      free willy! and thanks for giving us a democratic president to stop hitler, since you would not do it, god.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  11. ttwp

    For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to SAVE the world through him. John 3:17

    April 6, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      2,000 years later, he hasn't saved crap.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • ttwp

      May God open your eyes to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and turn your heart from darkness to light.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • xmxm

      May you understand science and nature, and stop believing in fairies.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • ttwp

      May you come to find the knowledge and grace found in Christ only.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  12. J

    I despise this argument as to whether Jesus existed at all. Atheists, and the like, believe that Christians just follow the Bible without any further proof of His existence, and sadly for some this is the case. But for others, they demand more than what is written, they demand to know for sure. These are the true followers of Jesus, these that knocked, these that searched. That is what Jesus meant when he said that our faith must exceed that of the Pharisees and Scribes, for their knowledge was bound by law, not by love. That's what Jesus meant when He told them to study the passage that says "For I desire compassion, not religion."

    "For if they had know Him who sent Me, they would have known Me."

    April 6, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Actually for most this is the case. Here you are, professing belief in Jesus without any proof (besides the Bible). Please, provide me some evidence that Jesus existed not using the Bible?

      I don't know if Jesus existed. I don't claim he didn't exist but I'm certain that if he did, he was more-than-likely just another philosopher.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • 21k

      jesus does exist. he cuts mitt romney's lawn. but at some point, oppo researchers will find out that jesus is in the country illegally. mitt will then have to deny he hired him, 3 times. jesus will be taken away and crucified by the angry gop mob. after a few days he will be secretly deported back home, and found to be missing from his ICE cell. the gop will say it's a miracle. the dems will weep that a good man has been wronged. but jesus will sneak back into the country to cut other's lawns so he can support his family. he will be hired by paul ryan or dick cheny, who will not do a background check. the myth of jesus will live on forever, in the green lawns of gop leaders.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • seyedibar

      If Jesus and his followers were based in reality, there would have been recorded evidence of them. The only references to them are merely made by other followers much later and can all be disproven and poorly translated. When you pare away the misinformation and the folk tales that existed long before that era, you really aren't left with enough truth to found a religion on.
      If anyone reading this is so certain as to the existence of Christ, then by all means try and find a reference from any of the historians, politicans, writers of his supposed day. If you're just going off the writings of Mark or the gospels, then you're just reading cobbled fairy tales that historians disproved centuries ago.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • phearfactor

      Was there any doubt that Jesus was a Jew? It says so in the bible in multiple places.

      There is nothing to reclaim, he always was a Jew.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Steve the Goat

      You do realize that if a "true believer" in christ demands proof, there wouldn't be any true believers, right? There is exactly 0 proof that jesus actually existed. Given that the jesus story is a reused story from older mythology, anyone with a brain will dismiss the whole son of the space ghost story as a just that, a story.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • ttwp

      "Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you."Acts 13:41

      April 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • xmxm

      ttwp: Common sense says some people will not "believe" the hard facts even when they are right in front of them. Some people will never look at evidence and choose to believe what they like to believe. Religious people like you are in that category,

      April 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • 21k

      oh boy, now look what you guys have done! ttwp is invoking the "end of days" thing. he must be a palinista.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • ttwp

      Your right some refuse to accept the "hard fact." The fact is many unbelivers refuse to come to Christ to have life. They go their own way because of the hardness of their heart.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  13. JW

    This article gives the false impression that Jews are somehow wanting of a 'Jesus' figure in their religious tradition, and that Jewish thought has hardly evolved and advanced in the last thousand years. Modern Judaism is not a "1.0" version of Christianity, and even leading Christian scholars wouldn't characterize it as that. Sorry CNN, but I wish you would do a bit more research before spewing out articles like this one.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • zulux

      I think it's more like version 1.0 with service pack 1

      April 6, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  14. David L.

    Jesus has absolutely no relevance today in 2012. People need to educate themselves so this Christian mythology is not passed on to our children or the next generation. Most of the stories surrounding Jesus have been completely fabricated and it is not a historical fact that Jesus even existed. Study Christian history. I am not an atheist by the way but religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are all man made mythologies. Education is the key to combat ignorance.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • 21k

      too late, there is way too much money being made by religious businesses to kill this.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Bill

      Where are you getting your information? There are historic references to Jesus outside the Bible. If you are so committed to your stance, at least research it better.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • firebrand

      If education is key to combat ignorance, you might follow your own advice and learn something about Christianity at least. Hearsay and speculation don't count. Go to the sources. Go to the historic writings throughout the centuries. Discuss with a learned expert who practices his faith seriously. There is a rich tradition and history. Christianity is not a theorem or a philosophy. It is a living encounter between God and his people, often likened to a marriage covenant in the Old and New Testaments, taking place throughout history even to this day.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • 21k

      fire, why would david or any other thinking person waste time with the bible. might as well read comic books, or science textbooks in texas.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • LinCA

      @firebrand

      You said, "Christianity is not a theorem or a philosophy. It is a living encounter between God and his people, often likened to a marriage covenant in the Old and New Testaments, taking place throughout history even to this day."
      But if "[h]earsay and speculation don't count", you've got nothing to support the notion of your god upon which the entire "tradition and history" is built.

      Regardless of what these "sources". "historic writings" and "learned expert[s]" say, all you've got is tradition and history.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • David L.

      Bill: I am quite well versed in early Christian history and the formation of the Bible.....this is besides the fact that the story is utterlly and completely ridiculous. The vast majority of Christians know absolutely nothing about their own religion. They have no clue regarding Christian history and how this belief system started and how the Bible was put together. Why ruin a story with facts?

      April 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • David L.

      Firebrand: God has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. Again this is what we have to protect our children from. We can not teach mythology as truth. We will never progress as a society with teaching ignorance as fact.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • WASP

      @firebrand: researched the topic of "jesus" could only find religious sites and wikipedia that even mentioned the possiblity of him existing. seeing wiki isn't considered a reputible site, that only leaves religious sites and those are biased. so david is correct in his statement that jesus existance is misunderstood and exaggerated.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  15. zulux

    Jews think Christ is like West Bank or Gaza. Let's occupy it and make it our own.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  16. 21k

    actually, he was an arab. all the jews and arabs are genetically from the same population a few thousand years ago. the difference is cultural. over 2000 years ago some of the arab tribal leaders decided to come up with a story to keep their people in line and broke off from the rest of the arabs. they later called themselves jews. the story grew from there.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • firebrand

      Umm ... what are you smoking? He was of Jewish descent. Both his parents were Jewish – Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, whose husband was a priest in the Temple (he was offering incense in the Sanctuary when the angel Gabriel appeared to him and announced the birth of John the Baptist). All this is related in the Gospel of Luke. Matthew also goes through his lineage (he was a descendent of David, and born in Bethlehem even, which was predicted in the prophesies of the Old Testament). The fact that the Jews allowed Jesus to preach in the Temple and the synagogues, the fact that he celebrated the Passover, the fact that Pilate even coined him as "King of the Jews" should also make it quite obvious that Jesus was Jewish.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • WASP

      @firebrand: pontius didn't coin jesus as the king of jews. here is what scripture saids "29 So Pilate came outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They replied, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate told them, “Take him yourselves and pass judgment on him according to your own law!” The Jewish religious leaders replied, “We cannot legally put anyone to death.” 32 This happened to fulfill the word Jesus spoke indicating what kind of death he was going to die. 33 So Pilate went back into the governor’s residence, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 Jesus replied, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or have others said it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own people and your chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would fight to prevent me being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But now my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Then Pilate said, “So you are a king!” Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. I have been born and have come into the world for this reason—to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate asked, “What is truth?”

      jews lied to pontius so he would be more angry with jesus and punish him. pontius merely asked jesus "33 So Pilate went back into the governor’s residence, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

      read your bible a little better next time.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  17. peace247

    The Holy Qur'an: Surah Nisa

    The people of the Scripture ask of thee that thou shouldst cause an (actual) Book to descend upon them from heaven. They asked a greater thing of Moses aforetime, for they said: Show us Allah plainly. The storm of lightning seized them for their wickedness. Then (even) after that) they chose the calf (for worship) after clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty) had come unto them. And We forgave them that! And We bestowed on Moses evident authority. (153) And We caused the Mount to tower above them at (the taking of) their covenant: and We bade them: Enter the gate, prostrate! and We bade them: Transgress not the Sabbath! and We took from them a firm covenant. (154) Then because of their breaking of their covenant, and their disbelieving in the revelations of Allah, and their slaying of the prophets wrongfully, and their saying: Our hearts are hardened – Nay, but Allah set a seal upon them for their disbelief, so that they believe not save a few – (155) And because of their disbelief and of their speaking against Mary a tremendous calumny; (156) And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger – they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. (157) But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. (158)

    April 6, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Sean

      Please, Mohommend saw the religions of the Jews and Christians and was jealous, so he basically stole them, used them to make up his own version to put his people first. First he sought to steal their religion and then used his made up religion to steal their lands and temples.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Sean – just like the early itinerant bronze-age shepherds who founded your religion 6000 years ago cobbled your god together from other minor deities worshipped by other tribes in the area.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  18. reason

    To all the FOOLS who are saying the Easter Bunny one day pooped out Santa Claus like any other egg, I say this: Santa Claus created the Easter Bunny as a present but shipment was delayed until April. That is the origin of your false Easter Bunny religion. And do not even get me started on the Tooth Fairy!

    April 6, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • 21k

      but easter did bring us peeps, right? so not all bad.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • sam

      Mmmm...peeps.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  19. treblemaker

    The one greatest problem that most Jews have is their feeling that there is no redemption; that a person whose life is in disarray or has been destroyed for whatever reason, self-inflicted or not, does not deserve a second chance. That was the message of the radical Jewish rabbi from Nazareth. The Sermon on the Mount is nothing more than the Ten Commandments the way God meant for us to follow them. The Last Supper was nothing more than His last Passover seder. Jews wear yarmulkes-the Pope covers his head, also. The belief that Jesus was resurrected from the dead is the line of demarcation that separates Judaism from Christianity. The Christian faith is not a separate religion-it is more the ideal continuation of the Jewish faith that Jesus tried to steer the Jews toward, to cross over the bridge from devotion by rote to devotion with love.

    April 6, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Except they got rid of all those pesky little laws like circu-mcision and Sabbath.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  20. peace247

    The Holy Qur'an: Surah Imran

    Behold! the angels said "O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah. (45) "He shall speak to the people in childhood And in maturity and he shall be (of the company) of the righteous." (46) She said: "O my Lord! how shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" He said: "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth; when He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it `Be', and it is! (47) "And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel. (48) "And (appoint him) an Messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay as it were the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah's leave; and I heal those born blind, and the lepers and I quicken the dead by Allah's leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe. (49) "(I have come to you), to attest the Law which was before me, and to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me. (50) "It is Allah who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a way that is straight." (51)

    April 6, 2012 at 10:55 am |
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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.