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Mainstream Christian theology's position held that Judaism had been supplanted, the Jewish covenant with the divine no longer valid, because of the incarnation of God as Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.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."
Tanakh is clear that Messiah Is more than a mere man. "The Lord said to My Lord; sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool." Ps.110:1 "You hav loved righteounsess and hated wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has annointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows." Ps. 45:7 Torah and Tanakh are full of such references to Messiah. May the people of Israel find peace in Yeshua Ha Meshiach, Messiah of Israel.
Good reference in Psalms. Indicates too that the Messiah (Jesus) has a God whom he worships. No doubt his Father YHWH (Jehovah)
@Stephen "May the people of Israel find peace in Yeshua Ha Meshiach, Messiah of Israel."
“‘I declare to you that the Lord will build a house for you: 11 When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. 14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.’” 1 Chronicles 17
CNN misleads as always. Sadducees were scriptural literalists. Pharisees were scriptural legalists. Sadducees would have ignored Jesus until the decision to condemn him. Pharisees would have debated with Jesus trying to find common ground. No traditional Jewish sect would have accepted a demigod among them, because the concept is foreign and pagan. Jewish mystics would have accepted Jesus as a wonder-worker, and his story evolved into its present form as more and more pagans came into the Church. Jews have always known Jesus was Jewish. Jews simply do not believe men are gods.
I enjoyed hyour comments. It's of interest that even their own scriptures refer to their judges as gods (Lit. "godlike"), see Psalms 82:1.
The apostle Paul quoted this Psalm when he wrote to the Corinthian Congregation, 1 Corinthians 8::5.
He was reasoning with regard to eating food sacrificed to idols, however in doing so he clearly indicated that, "there is no God but one." (Jehovah) vs 4. And, "there is one Lord, Jesus Christ,...". Paul made it very clear that Christians like the Jews worshipped "one God", and that Jesus was distinct and seperate person. True Christians do not worship a Trinity of God's.
Ashley said; “Jesus Christ is God as the SON. He was not created,…”
I enjoyed your post Ashley. However your understanding of the Son needs clarification from the scriptures.
The scriptures clearly state that Jesus was “created”, the apostle Paul refers to him as “the first born of all creation” Colossians 1:15. If he is the “first born” of all creation, then who created him. The obvious answer is his Father Jehovah. That is why he is refered to as the “only begotten”, John 1:18. Thus indicating he had a beginning, or the only first born son of God. This is in harmony with the rest of Colossians as Paul explains that everything else was created through him and for him.
So Jesus was the “master worker” Proverbs 8:30, working alongside his Father (Jehovah) in the heavens many eons ago creating all other angels and the universe and our planet.
Yes Jesus is special, but he is not Jehovah (Father), he is Jehovah’s Son. Not God incarnate. This is a pagan teaching not founded in scripture. The Jews have always believed in Jehovah as they are Mono Theistic. Jesus too was a Jew and prayed to his Father in the heavens and was mono theistic. The teaching that Jesus is God was not assimilated into Christianity until 400 years after Christ by the apostate church.
So before accusing Muslims of being wicked or false you had better check your own teachings.
They pierced My hands and My feet. ...Psalm 22:16
JESUS IS LORD, and believe in your heart that GOD raised HIM from the dead, thou shalt be saved, and thy house.(cf. THE HOLY BIBLE: ROMANS 10:9 and ACTS 16:31b)
Have you received THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL’S MOST BELOVED and ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, to be your personal Lord and Savior?
If not, say this prayer: “LORD GOD, please forgive me of my sins. Thank YOU for YOUR Faithfulness in always being with me and loving me so much to send me YOUR MOST BELOVED and ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, to die on the cross for me. I receive HIM now into my heart and life to be my Lord and Savior. I pray this in the name of GOD, THE FATHER; GOD, THE SON; and GOD, THE HOLY SPIRIT. † Amen.”
“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that GOD has made this JESUS, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” ACTS 2:36
"For I tell you, you will not see ME again until you say, ‘Blessed is HE who comes in the name of THE LORD.’ " MATTHEW 23:39
Visit and share with family, friends, fans, and followers: http://www.BIBLEstudycd.com/Lessons.html
May you be blessed abundantly! Hallelujah!
Please, visit Christian Studies in Israel blog http://christianstudies.eteacherbiblical.com/
Lord Yeshua, messiah of the covenant and savior of the world. He was prophet of truth, prince of peace,Lord of shabbat, the Lamb of all feasts and supreme sacrifice of Elohim. May his name be exalted among nations, his words be remembered forever, may he usher in the glorious new Heaven and earth.
amen. Nice post. Worhty is the Lamb that was slain to receive glory and honor and wisdom and thanks.
His appearance was so marred more than any man. And His form more than the sons of men. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrow He carried; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of G-d, and afflicted. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him... Isaiah 52-53 Clearly the prophet is speaking of Messiah Yeshua/Jesus. He atoned for our sins and now is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Baruch Atah Adonai PTL
wow... I'm not reading all these comments. But some of them are so judgmental. I'm a Christian. But people, why do you feel the need to preach to people what they should believe all the time? I don't know where you live, but I live in America which thankfully has freedom of religion. I have a right to believe in the divinity of Jesus, but so do other people have the right not to believe that. I'm glad Jews can find positive aspects about Jesus; hopefully Christian/Jewish relationships will only strengthen from this. Again, to a lot of the people who posted on here... less preaching, people!
"You worship what you do not know, we worship what we know for salvation is from the Jews". ...Yeshua/Jesus John 4:22 There is only one way to God the Father and that is through Jesus the Son. We must come to God on his terms, not on our terms. Yeshua was sent to atone for our sins, which He did, and He said: "It is finished". Any other attempt to try to merit God's favor will only come up empty, and will cause us to die in our sins. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest".....Jesus Mathew 11:28
I wish to share that I wrote a free e-book Jesus Son of Man- A Jew Which honors that He practiced the Jewish culture and much of it pointed to Him as He fulfilled prophecy of the Old Testament. It is a book of poetry. Hope this might appeal to some of you as we learn from each other. God Bless
Dear Isaiah_Christian and M,
You can say whatever you want to... Al Quran teaches that God created human in different nationality, ethnicity, language so that one can interact with other and then HE gave free will to every single one of the human... and every one of us will be held accountable for the using of this 'free will'.... if HE wanted to make every single human to believe in HIM alone without any association with HIM, HE could have... then where is the test? then there is no need of hell and heavens, no need of good and evil... every one will be a good one... but because of free will we have human doing wrong things to others in terms of preaching them to take them away from worshipping one God and so on... and also no will be accountable for others... its like you are on your own on that day and no counselor/helper... the only helper will be your good deeds that you have done in this earthly life...
O our Lord, have mercy on us on that day as we all are sinner...
Anyways, I hope you have read following verse where John wrote:
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
26 But the Counselor, the Ruach HaKodesh, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything; that is, he will remind you of everything I have said to you.
And so it is mentioned in the quran:
And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad." But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, "This is obvious magic." Al Quran 61: 6
Also if you would like to know what Jesus will be asked by his Creator on that day:
Al Quran 5:17 And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'" He will say, "Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.
Al Quran 5:18 I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness.
Al Quran 5:19 If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
Now decision/choice is yours dear brothers and sisters in humanity...
Jesus Christ that Christians worship and love is God incarnate. The Jesus of the Koran is not the real Jesus. And Muhammad was a false prophet. Jesus Christ is God incarnate. Islam is a wicked religion and they're Pagans. Muslims worship the fake moon god called Allah, and he is NOT the God of Israel. Jesus Christ is God and I'll prove it. And I can't believe not many know this. How can you not know, you can feel Jesus the Christ tugging on your heart. If you're Jewish, please read this..
Amos 8:9 Fulfilled
Psalm 22:1 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:46
Psalm 23 is all about Jesus Christ
Psalm 22:15,69:21 Fulfilled “They pierced my hands and my feet”: Psalm 22:16, since when were King David's hands and feet ever pierced? Never. He lived to a full age and died well stricken in years. That is about Jesus Christ. The promised Messiah to the Jews. He trusted in the Lord, let him rescue him, let him deliver him, since he delights in him!” (22:7-8 ) And when they crucified him, they divided his garments, casting lots for them . . . . (Mark 15:24; Matt 27:35; Luke 23:34; John 19:24)
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. < Jesus Christ was between two criminals on the cross. All these things were fulfilled. Luke 23:39
Oh and side note... when God said He was going to raise up a prophet like Moses, well, Moses wanted to die for the Children of Israel, but could not take their sins away, because he was a man and all humans sin, when Jesus Christ did it, He had never ever sinned, Jesus Christ is God incarnate. Seek Him, Seek Jesus Christ, is it any wonder more Jews are embracing the Messiah? That was predicted too.
Romans 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Also read the Old Testament where God says He would turn to the Gentiles. See, Jesus Christ is God, the Great I AM THAT I AM, the ALMIGHTY. Jesus Christ is God as the SON. He was not created, Jesus Christ is the First and the Last. But Jews, be careful because Satan, the enemy of God will try and use the Muslims to kill Jews and Christians in these last times, the Muslims need to be awaken as well. See the savior in the Koran , is the anti-Christ to the Christians. We Christians read from the King James Version, the Holy Bible. There are other versions, but if you speak English then I recommend the KJV. Its truth comes from Antioch.
John the Baptist was the voice of one crying in the desert.,.. remember, Jews? Isiah 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
This was fulfilled in John 1:23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. Esaias is Isaiah. John the Baptist (baptizer) was sent out before Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The only BEGOTTEN SON of the Living God.
Genesis 49:8-10 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. < The scepter will never depart from Judah, Jesus Christ is the King of kings Lord of lords, when He comes back, all will know. Jesus Christ is the Lion of Judah, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..
It hurts my heart when Jews say that Jesus Christ isn't for them, and I was a Gentile. I'm Christian, (but there is no Jew, nor Gentile in Christ Jesus).. You will be part of the church, the body of Christ and your body will be the temple of the Living God. The God of Israel doesn't dwell in man-made things. Jesus Christ is the Messiah you have all been waiting for and most of your ancestors didn't recognize Him when they saw Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ made Himself a little lower than the angels. He came to redeem us all.
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. < Fulfilled in Luke 19:31 and Luke 19:33 Please read for yourself in Luke. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?"
John 1:29 about Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is for everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike. Remember how the Jews of then said to let His blood be on them and on their children? Matthew 27:25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. ...... Matthew 27:26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Well, the Jewish people have gone through some very very tough times. But can't you see the overwhelming evidence here? I plead with the Jewish people to accept Jesus the Christ, He is God incarnate. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, He died for the sins of the world, and three days later rose from the dead. Jesus Christ is God the Son, and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Does anybody alactluy think any colors, or smalls or sounds or tastes alactluy exist? They are all figments of our imaginatio-n, ways in which our brains interpret various electrical impulses generated by different forms of physical stimuli. Is a particular wave length of light alactluy blue, yellow or red? Does a particular molecule of a certain size and shape alactluy have a distinct, intrinsic smell? The ways we perceive the world are an artifact of the way our brains and nervous systems are organized.
Mark: You must be “born again” to see the Kingdom of God?
Yes that is true, if you are to inherit the hope of living in heaven with Christ you must be born again as flesh and blood cannot exist in heaven, one must be born again in spirit. 1 Corinthians 15:50
But what of those who inherit the earth as subjects of the Kingdom? Obviously as they are humans there is no need to be born again. Psalms 37:29 “The righteous themselves will process the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” These ones too will see the Kingdom of God in the sense that they will benefit from it as subjects.
Those who receive a resurrection to the heavens (born again), become heirs with Christ, in that they share the rulership of the Kingdom of God. (Romans 8:16, 17)
Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. .....Messiah/Jesus Jn. 3:3 I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me. ....Yeshua/Jesus Jn. 14:6
I never did it either. It’s what they do in New York. And for bteter or worse, the American Jewish community has to fall in line behind NY when it comes to Jewish trends, fads, stereotypes, etc. I never understood that “rule” till I moved there either.
Jesus, a rebel with a cause.
Some may see it that way. But actually everyone else are the rebels. He was getting our lives back on track to restore our relationship back with God.
Cloud man see previous page :-)
To Paul: Read my answer in the prior page. ;-)
Hey Marni, I have to say, you are approaching it rllaey rllaey well. You need to be 100% realistic while being inspired, optimistic, creative, open-minded and flexible at the same time. I mean, that's what I would tell anyone interested in moving here. You have to be fluid; go with the flow. Because, at least in my first two years here, a lot has changed, and I've been open enough to change with them. You also don't have to make aliyah right away if you want to test it. I've known a quite a few single people who have come here to live, but have first settled in, found a job, etc and then made the official aliyah. The paperwork and teudat zeut are not the point. If you ever want to ask me anything, please feel free. You can email me too(look in my profile). Your questions won't offend me; I'm hard to offend, at least in these cases. Good luck!
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worhsipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. This verse tells us how we are called to worship God and how his true followers will do that. Some will put up a front or give up when things get hard but the true believers and worhsipers will praise God in times of joy and in times of trouble. God is awesome and he deserves every ounce of praise we give him all the time so we just have to give him what he deserves after everything he does for us.
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.