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Mainstream Christian theology's position held that Judaism had been supplanted, the Jewish covenant with the divine no longer valid, because of the incarnation of God as Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.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."
Jesus is the messiah. He was talked about in the old testament. I dont know why Jews dont believe. But they will soon. Not all, but some will be saved.
Please show me where Jesus shows up in the old testament.... this'll be good.
So the ones the forget will go to Hell ?? - LMAO
It's because they are still waiting for Moses to come back.
The probably don't believe in Jesus for the same reason they don't believe all the hundreds of other people who claimed to be the messiah as well
Psalms 110:4 (NIV) The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
Hebrews 6:20 (NIV) where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:14-17 (NIV) For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
this site explains all the proofs you need. The old testament prophecied Jesus. Maybe the Jews are still waiting. But he came already, and when he comes back he is coming for his elect.
Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2 and plenty others like Zechariah9:9 etc,
I usually do not leave many renopsses, but i did a few searching and wound up here Most important people in history | SHANE TALK.. And I actually do have 2 questions for you if it's allright. Could it be simply me or does it appear like a few of these remarks look as if they are coming from brain dead folks? And, if you are posting on additional online social sites, I would like to follow everything new you have to post. Could you list of the complete urls of your community sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?
Does anyone know if non converted Jews or Romans from that time ever wrote down their perception of the passion and crucifixion of Jesus? If so, please let me know where I could find it.
Jesus loves Ashkenazi~ that is to say some or most times christians(pagan[?]) acts like more jews...that is the proble with so called christians
Prayer changes things .
Except for the poor 7 Korean bast ages
Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.
An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!"".
Except according to science.
The power of prayer is imaginary. If a carpenter (such as Jesus was) loses a finger in his line of work, no amount of prayer will grow him a new one. Do not pray for atheists, you waste your time and annoy us. If god is so powerful, why can't he make me believe in him?
Because God would prefer to do without disobedient beings?
..It depends if you are turning toward God. If you refuse to believe in him, and have your back to Him, God will not force you to believe in Him. It is your choice and freedom.
make you believe? he can, and will. But while you are here in the flesh, it is up to you. And as an atheist, why are you even reading this article? I will pray for you and everyone else. I hope you live to see him come back. Everyone will know the truth.
Jesus actually did perform miracles and healed many. The choice is yours whether to believe or not, He's knocking at the door, but the choice is yours to either let him in or not.
Everyone will live on - when the body dies – your consciousness goes on – and it does not matter if you were atheist – you will live on. It does not matter if you are atheist, Jew, Christain, etc.
The main point of prayer is not to change the externals. It is to bring about a change in the person praying to better accept God's will and to live up to it. Your idea of prayer is simplistic and is a child's understanding of prayer.
littleBearFN: If that's true, then God isn't omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. A god who was all three of these qualities wouldn't create atheists who, as he well knows because he can see the future, would refuse to believe him him and be consigned to hell... unless he wasn't omnibenevolent.
The Christian universe contains zero freedom and lots of contradictions. But nothing will stop a non-thinking individual from believing what he was taught as a child.
You really dont get it it dosnet matter whar religon u are as long as u have hope thats what faith is. it is hope when u feel there is none yes terrible things do happen but what about all the good just becasue somebody bealives something diffrent dosnet mean she should tell them its wrong cause u dont its about understanding and being one with your self and maybe u will open up to more people and understand why certin people feel the way we do
@Godfrey – God created humanity who revolted against God at the Garden of Eden. Humanity has been cursed ever since Adam ate the apple. Faith is more about restoring the relationship with God. It's not about believing in God unknown to humanity.
If you believe in science, "haplogroup" would support molecular evolution originating from humanity's common ancestor, Y-chromosomal Adam.
God wil not "make" you believe in him because he respects humanity enough to give us free will. He is more like a friend or father than a tyrant. And he remains omnipotent -to freely give up power in respect for other's freedom is a mark of greateness that we celebrate in human heroes, like Cincinnatus, or George Washington.
I will also pray for you – it is nothing worse than wishing you well, and why should that offend anyone?
Someone isn't paying attention. Let's look at this objectively, shall we? You can not acknowledge Jesus outside of "his divinity". Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, i.e., to BE God. That claim is completely anathema to Levitical law, as interpreted by modern and, indeed, especially as interpreted by contemporary Jewish authorities in Jesus's own time. That's why he ended up on a Roman cross. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, let's not have any of this nonsense about Jesus being a good teacher and nice guy, but not God. If he isn't who he claimed to be, then he is a liar. Would you really want to base life lessons and conduct on the word of a liar or a psychotic?
Well, we don't know for sure that Jesus claimed to be the son of god. We do know that some people who likely never met him claimed that jesus claimed to be the son of god – big difference.
dont we already base life lessons on lies alreadey. just look at politicians
How do we know that Jesus claimed to be the son of God? We only have writings from many years later by people who never met him.
See, you weren't paying attention either. The only record is what's in the Bible. You can't argue outside of it. The Bible may all be nonsense, but that's irrelevant to the discussion of "did Jesus claim to be God?" Yes he did. And the Jewish authorities had him executed pursuant to the pervading religious law. Second guessing this is certainly your option, but not germane to the discussion.
You're assuming that Jesus actually said what the Bible tells you he said. Jesus was real. He was a great prophet who introduced radical new ideas to his part of the world. He may have said he was a child of God, as we all are. And he wound up on the cross because the Romans considered him a threat, not for religious reasons.
I thought Jesus was killed by the Roman's for sedition?
The assumption is necessary or you can't have a conversation about Jesus. You miss my point. The only thing we have to go on is the New Testament. I'm not proselytizing here, I just think its disingenuous for a modern Jew, who has no faith in Jesus as a messiah, to acknowledge him as a teacher. He can't be both.
@ Ingourious oh man, please don't tell me you base any of your beliefs on what a politician says...
You can very well have a conversation about Jesus without accepting His divinity; Thomas Jefferson did it all the time.
Sure, why not? The god of the Old Testament/Torah is obviously psychotic, and with all the contradictions in both Testaments it's obviously brimming with lies (and other fun things, like giants and talking donkeys).
So why not take the extra step and just admit that's what you worship?
Thus demonstrating the mental gymnastics necessary to be a politician. Jefferson was also a deist, it would also be silly to for him to accept Jesus's teachings without belief in his divinity.
And I apologize for the politician crack, ingourius, I see now that it was "Anonymous" not you.
Have you ever heard of the Jefferson Bible - he cut (literally) all supernatural passages out from the stories of Jesus in order to get at the heart of His teachings.
Sure. However, that's an idiotic way to look at any philosophy or religion: "let me just take the parts I like". This is what leads to those Westboro Baptist nuts and most cults. You can make the Bible say whatever you need it to. Hitler did it, as did a number of Popes (do you really think God would have condoned the siege of Jerusalem in 1099?). But if you do that, you aren't following the teachings of Jesus, instead, you've formed your very own belief centered on the watered down teachings of a man who died two millenia ago. Feel free to do so, but it'd be easier to just follow Confucian teachings. Then you don't have to worry about all the messy religious stuff.
jason...s....an education will teach that it was a small number of Jews responsible and that it was actually the gentiles who did the dirty work.....His Jewish mother did not kill him nor did His Jewish disciples......it was proud uneducated people making proud uneducated statements that were responsible for instructing little educated gentile roman soldiers to murder Jesus not to mention ever single person that sinned. Jesus clearly stated that the small amount of jews responsible did not even realize what they were doing and that no one took his life.....He laid it down.
Neither the Jews nor the Romans had that power.
Read the Gospels.
Jesus came to fulfill a divine plan and to bring salvation to all mankind including you.
Before the culture warriors start battling it out, it's important to keep in mind–like any religious topic, this is simply one possible way of looking at things. One of many.
They report this as something profound??!?? Jesus was Jewish... DUHH!!!!
The end of the world is near. When Jews worship Jesus it is a sign of the end.
You have pointed to one of many signs of the judgment day. No one knows for sure. This idea is validated by Jesus who claims to return again.
Yes it is only but 1 sign and only Jesus knows when.
Doubtful that it is that close. Even if you do believe in the NT. Nobody knows and its at least several decades away
the problem with accepting his teachings as recorded in the New Testament is you have to take all of it or you take none of it. The guy claimed to be God....last time i checked if someone goes around claiming to be God we usually dont take a lot of his thinking and teaching to the bank. So you either got to accept what he says about himself and the world around him. or reject him entirely. We all agree hitler was a bad guy and said some stupid crazy stuff (but sure he did a lot of good things for the german economy)....still was a bad guy
Black and white thinking at best.
It is Jews who wrote the following scripture in the Old Testament book of Psalms. Why then are Jews offended when Jesus quotes to Jews what the Jews themselves have written? Read the scriptures for yourself!
Psalms 82:6 I said, "You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High.
NO, you don't have take it as "all or nothing." God gave you a brain and you're free to learn and interpret God's teachings and Jesus' teachings for yourself. There are literally hundreds of Christian denominations, all with slightly different views on God and Jesus. It's not an all or nothing system.
Further, Jesus never claimed to be God. Whether he was God or of God is another issue. But Jesus never said, "I am the lord thy God." He did say he was the Son and that through him you could come to know the Father. Better start reading your Bible, bud.
Actually Jesus did not claim to be God. He claimed to be the son of God. He did not claim to be divine. He never used those words. Get yourself a red letter bible and read the red. And you don't have to accept all of it or none of it. Those aren't your only two choices. There are faith traditions that are neither Jewish nor Pauline Christian (it's true that 'most' of the 'christian' churches teach Pauline Theology, but not all do). In fact, you should check out churches that are Gnostic. Or you might find what you are looking for in the UCC or Unitarian Universalist churches. They are less Paul centric than most.
@John Smith & @ExPaulineChristian – Jesus claimed himself as the Messiah, meaning "savior". It's there in John 4:26. Jesus was speaking to a Samaritan woman who came to draw water. Jesus said that "time is coming true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth," and he claimed himself as the Messiah in verse 26.
Great tone to this article. Although Jesus didn't leave us the "Great Teacher" option. He made the most outrageous claims that anyone ever could, such as "No one can get to the Father except through me" and "Before Abraham was born, I AM!" (using the name the O.T. God used for himself). The problem is that every single one of his claims were validated the moment he rose from the dead. When that happened, the merely "Great Teacher" and "Lunatic" options bit the dust. Only "The Lord and Savior" remains.
Whatever works best to help gather in the herd.
Jesus is Jewish. Matthew Chapter 1 outlines Jesus' genealogy black and white: "fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah". Read verses 1 to 16 for exact reference to who fathered who.
And one of the other NT writers gave a different genealogy. Either way he isnt the Messiah
@halaniceguy – Could you tell me who that person would be? Are you that other person?
@ J.W – Thanks for pointing that out. I did read back on the differences, and here's my observation: there is no difference in both outlines except between David and Jesus. Matthew "traces the lineage of Jesus through Joseph, while the one in Luke actually traces it through Mary" .
No one knows all of Jesus's geanology considering that he was born to the virgin Mary he technically had no human father. Abraham was a Hebrew but to be honest human-kind has evolved over the years so much who knows if he was olive, light-brown or dark-brown for sure? Humans do not look like they use to look thousands of years ago. It's a good thing that there was never an image painted of Jesus when he was on earth so to be honest everyone assumes. I guess the point is is that he was sent to save all humankind not just Jewish people. Jews come in every race & color!
Wow CNN posted this article. I thought illuminate didn't believe in Jesus or God.
Always look on the bright side of death.
Just before you draw your terminal breath.
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
Rabbi, Well said!
I personally think you people (CNN) and so called Jews do not know anything about Jesus Christ (The Son of God) or His Father.
Jesus is Lord
The media is brain washing you people with Doctrine of Demons and Articles of Opinion (Not Factual)
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. i like how ignorant and prejudice you are. it cracks me up that we still have people like you in this advanced society that will stil try and push their beliefs on people. HAHAHAHA
I think brain washed is the operative word here.
Wasn't Jesus a little light in the loafers?
im pretty sure he also had a few screws loose and was tripping on some bad acid.
Why would anyone want to know anything about a blasphemer. Jesus was neither Lord nor Messiah.
The Jews crucify him and now they want to reclaim him?
Yes they want a pocket jesus to
Neither the Jews nor the Romans had that power. Read the Gospels.
Jesus came to fulfill a divine plan to bring salvation to all mankind including you.
Fraud alert God bless
@ The Gospels,,,,,,,,
Condemnation of Acts and Actions regarding the Self, be it self-righteousness or self-worth or even self-dignity
are matters of Faith that can only be for the descrepencies of Godliness consternations. We are but mere creatures, the animals of Godly reprobates against powers we know absolutely nothing about! The sciences of today's timeline cannot fathom the Godly referrendums. As the whisperings of brotherhooded socialists gather their agendas, God will ever know their smugness for so doing their socailist gatherings.
Jesus was given a choice by God to live, or to die and fulfill his purpose for being here. Had he not been crucified, Christianity as we know it would not exist. To blame "the Jews" for this, as if an entire culture is responsible, is absurd. Do Christians not consider the three days between Jesus' crucifiction and his resurrection to be the most holy time of the year? How, therefore, do you attack the jewish people for his death? His death is a symbol of God's love for you. (shaking my head at the ignorance on display here)
The Jews just found him annoying. Its the Roman Empire that needed to keep order with the help of some overly political rabbis.
As a follower of Jesus, the challenge I have with your position is the 95% of the so called Jews are actually Ashkenazi Jews from eastern Europe. Find out what happened to the real Hebrew people during the siege of Jerusalem in 70AD and where they are now. The answers to that are all in the Bible for all to see.
Yes, Jesus is a Jew, HOWEVER, he is not Ashkenazi!!!!!
Can you email me a link to this information because I believe what you are writing. * email@example.com
You're correct & this is what the world constantly depicts him as. Technically Jesus did not have a human father since he was born to the virgin Mary so he was part of whatever she was & the son of God since he's a spirit no one can say what Jesus was a 100% of. But this is why society shouldn't get so caught up in the color because none of us will ever ever know until he returns since there were images & he only had geanology connected to Mary.
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.