Thursday, June 12, 2008

The real inventor



Too bad, Anders, a follower of Ribi Yehoshua has not replied to some questions. I did poke around the web site of the Netzarims. The thesis to me is simple - the Jesus of Nazareth that Christians worship is a corruption of a figure in history called by the name 'Ribi Yehoshua'. More to the point, I believe the group is repeating the theories of some Jewish folk - to the end that it was really Paul of Tarsus, a Pharisee who invented Jesus of Nazareth. Along side that, it was Paul who taught the idea of atonement of Jesus of Nazareth for the world and his rising from the dead. This is not precisely what the web site is saying but put it this way - it was the Hellenist Jews who created this myth about Jesus of Nazareth, something similar to the Paul, the-inventor-of-Christianity idea is happening there.

I note too on the site's insistence of the Torah to be fulfilled by human beings. When I was studying Early Judaism in uni, it came out clear that the Jews believe that God created human beings FOR the Torah.

Contrast this to what the Christian Jesus says
Mark 2:27
Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath".

For Jesus, God created the Torah FOR man, to benefit man, but for the Jews this is reversed.

Now if Paul was the true promoter or even inventor of the Christian Gospel, he must have been a real genius, he was able to pull the wool on the world's eyes. Besides that the message is so so good - it sounds really good news.

You can only approach this "invented" news in two ways - you can say this is just too good to be true, "my sins have been paid for by Christ" and yet be skeptical about it, it must be a hoax. You know, like the hoax you get from the internet, saying they got some money from some place and they are willing to share it with you? Or you can reason - this is so so super incredible a story, so unheard of that only God could have come up with this ingenious news.

Update: Another thing, who is that Jesus that I encounter each time I take communion?
---
I hope to go to Perth this next few days - I heard they have beautiful sunsets and so I am taking the missus there. I have never been there I am off to take some sunset pictures, besides giving ourselves a break. Life, with its trials never ends anyway, it will be there when I get back - so what else is new, eyh?

God bless, in the mean time.

12 comments:

steve martin said...

L.P.,

Interesting info. you've found out about the followers of Ribi Yehoshua.

I like you suggestions about how to talk with folks like this about the real Jesus.

In addition, I would handle them the same way I would handle anyone that is trying to live by the law. I would just pour it on 'em. Keep the law coming and keep it coming hard, until the grace of God in Jesus i like a life giving drink of cool water...which it is.

Have a wonderful trip to Perth with your wife!

Past Elder said...

Although you asked my opinion over on my blog, it seemed more appropriate to answer here, since the discussion is here.

I do not know of this particular group. However, their beliefs as a whole are not limited to them.

In my experience, many Jews -- and many non-Jews, some under the label Christian -- hold to the view that the Jesus of traditional Christian preaching has little to nothing to do with the Jesus of Nazareth of history. Coupled with that is the idea that the Jesus of traditional Christian preaching is primarily the construction of Paul, the only Apostle not to have known him in his lifetime.

In Judaism, there is no such idea as lex semper accusat, the law always accuses. Rather, the Law is something to be grateful for and joyfully observed. It does not crush, it liberates. Before fulfilling a command of the Law, a Jew offers a prayer of gratitude to have been so commanded. In the synagogue we find the original pattern of our lectionary -- IOW, our lectionary is simply a Christianisation of the idea of a yearly (not a three yearly) cycle of readings, whose focus is the Law as opposed to the Gospels which take their place in ours, at the conclusion of which one celebrates the feast of Rejoicing in the Law. Rejoicing. Not feeling crushed. Rejoicing.

There are several things to keep in mind here. For one, the Law is a covenant between God and Israel, not God and Man, and Man is not hel responsible for the Law. For another, Messiah has nothing whatever to do with deliverance from the Law, from sin, or anything like that. For yet another, the Messiah is not divine, he is a man, period, who ushers in a perfect era right here on earth, not in heaven.

So to a Jew, news of a Messiah delivering Man from the Law is ridiculous since Man is not under the Law, news of a Messiah delivering anyone from the Law and from sin is ridiculous since forgiveness of sin is already given under the Law to Israel, and to Man under the Noahide Law in it, and a Messiah who would claim to be divine is absurd since the Messiah of course knows he is not divine.

So the whole Christian message is based on a serious misunderstanding of the Law and the Prophets. Quite apart from any historical arguments, that Christianity and its Jesus could not have come from Jesus is evident on its supposed content which would be quite foreign to any Jew let alone the Messiah.

Enter Paul, who was not an Apostle and was a rather Hellenised Jew. He has some sort of experience after which he recasts the whole thing, and comes out more like the figure in a Greek mystery cult than Hebrew prophecy. This recasting catches on, because what will happen after Messiah comes did not happen after Jesus came, so one either has to renounce the idea that Jesus is Messiah, which the Christians will not do, or re-invent Messiah into something else that can be claimed to fit him to allow the belief to continue. It catches on among the Gentiles because it resembles their various mystery cults, dies out among the Jews because it goes against Scriptural prophecy, and spreads through the Hellenised world and later beyond it after the Roman Empire collapsed. But at heart it remains a corruption of the Jewish religion.

When I was at uni, it was summarised this way: Jesus was a Jew; the first Christian was Paul. In my Historical Jesus versus Christ of Faith classes -- taken by seminarians -- this was the same essential orientation, except the construction of the Christ of Faith overlaid on and put into the mouth of the Historical Jesus was chalked up not to Paul so exclusively as to the reflexion of the Christian community on the continuing significance of Jesus for them after his death. In this way, the Christian for whom Jesus Is Risen is a literal statement and for whom it is a time and culture conditioned expression of the enormous significance of Jesus for one's life equally can say Jesus Is Risen.

The Jesus you meet in the Eucharist is a product of your own faith, a concrete representation of something far more universal, in this mindset.

As a couple of side notes on the differences here: the idea of there being good news in certainty of everlasting life in heaven would strike observant Jews of my experience as utterly selfish. One does not seek to follow the Law for a reward, but for its own sake as a revelation of God, which is reward enough in itself, and the pre-occupation with the afterlife is characteristic of the Egyptian religion from which the People of the Law were delivered! Likewise, the Binding of Isaac, called the Akedah in Judaism, is hardly a figure of Christ, but a direct sign from God that human sacrifice is absolutely NOT what God wants, so the idea that God would become Man to offer it strains all bounds of credibility.

Since the destruction of the Temple and the priesthood, and therefore the possibility of the sacrifices commanded in the Law, it has been the consensus that our prayers and works of righteousness and loving kindness, mitvot, now take their place, adding another dimension to their importance. This ruling is ascribed to Rabbi Yochanan, not the more famous Yochanan bar Nafcha (John son of the blacksmith), but Yochanan ben Zakai, who was spirited out of Jerusalem in a coffin and established a council in Yavne (aka Jamnia) which fixed the Palestinian canon and set the stage for rabbinic Judaism to follow in the absence of the Judaism of the Scriptures.

Yochanan was the youngest of the students of Hillel, who was the grandfather of Gamaliel, who was Saul's (Paul's) rabbi. Small world.

Doorman-Priest said...

Perth? Oooohhh, there be dragons!

L P Cruz said...

P.E.

Thanks for the comments, that bolstered my education, that in Judaism, the Law is easy and doable.

LPC

Past Elder said...

Well, it isn't easy or doable. As my rabbi said, It's hard to be a Jew. And no-one observes the Law perfectly. But in the Jewish faith, this reveals not condemnation, but mercy, as God, who rightfully could demand full payment, doesn't, and accepts our partial payment and cancels the rest, saving us and showing us in our dealings with others that highly as God values justice, he values mercy more.

L P Cruz said...

P.E.

OK so partially doable is enough for God so indeed, the concept of atonement will be different from Judaism vs Christianity.

The Law does not have teeth, is that what you are saying from a Judaistic perspective.

Doing your best is good enough. That is quite 'evangelical' and 'roman' too.

LPC

Past Elder said...

Well, no. The Law does indeed have teeth. God chooses not to bite us with them though he is entitled to. Our best is not good enough. God accepts it not because it is good enough, but because it is our best even if it is not good enough.

That's mercy. And an Orthodox Jew might even say that's what Jesus was getting at with the parable about the servant whose debt was forgiven but demanded his due of his debtor.

L P Cruz said...

P.E.

What if I say that God accepts it because your best is good enough for God, would that do?

This is like saying white is not technically black but no matter, I consider white, black enough. I am trying to make some sense of the circumlocution.

So God does not need apeasing by that theory then. Why? Because he accepts the best you can do, correct? To me it is either he accepts your not good enough best effort or he does not.

At anyrate when I think of the parable of the Pharisee and tax-collector, the Pharisee depicted by Jesus did come to God and thank Him, that he is not like the tax collector, so he does believe he is pulling it (the Law) off.

While I am at it, this concept of Mercy in Judaistic terms is not Mercy really.

It is not mercy to accept your best effort and let you off the hook.

Real mercy accepts no merits from you, it forgives you. It does not say ok I will accept your best effort, that would be like payment. Like you owe me $1M but I will accept as payment your $10. This is not mercy, this is still getting something in return - a discount.

Real mercy says - you owe me $1M and I am letting you go without impunity - take your $10 with you, I do not need it.

So in Judaism, if I take what you are teaching or expositing here, God is not merciful but he does give a discount.

LPC

Past Elder said...

Perhaps since I do not hold these positions I am not the best one to argue them. But until an Orthodox Rabbi appears among the readership --

There is no discount. There is forgiveness of debt. That is not a discount. No-one, not you, not Messiah, not anyone else, can pay what you owe to God. And God in his justice could demand the penalty for a capital offence. The debt is not paid, it is forgiven; in fact if it were paid, it would not be forgiven at all since it is paid. It is not that you are forgiven because someone else has paid your debt, nor is there any mercy in that at all, since payment of the debt was non-negotiable, and if there is a discount it would be in someone else picking up the tab for what you owe -- 100% discount to you, 0 to the payer, no mercy, just a transfer of who pays. Mercy is when what rightly could have been done isn't, not when it is done to someone else in your place. That is the meaning of the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac -- the substitute was not another man, but an animal. Every man shall die for his own sin. There is no vicarious atonement; it does not exist. Forgiveness is when the debt is cancelled, not transferred. So the Christians have converted a Hebrew prophecy into a Greek legal problem and missed the prophecy altogether then covered it back up with Greek mystery religionism.

L P Cruz said...

P.E.

The website has some promo material written by one of their converts, an ex-Baptist minister dealing with their (Judaism) idea of atonement.

Still though the animal sacrifice is a form of substitute is it not? Blank out Christianity at the moment but just go by their system with out NT scripture, would not the Levitical prescription on sacrifices be such, i.e. the animal dies so you do not have to?


LPC

Past Elder said...

Yes, I would agree it is a form of substitute, but also add not the form Christians understand.

The blood of animals does not pay for the sins of men, in the sense that if I owe $100M then it pays $100M. It is a substitute in the sense that it replaces one thing with another, but not a substitute in the sense of replacing one thing with equal kind and value.

Sort of like the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value in insurance (sorry, I had a property and casualty licence for years!)

The Hertz Chumash, which I have mentioned before, has tons of stuff on this and everything else. For a more specific treatment, a classic is Luzzato's The Path of the Just. There is a recent, though I'm not sure if still in print, book by (Orthodox, of course) rabbi Joseph Telushkin called Jewish Literacy, written both for Jews who don't know much about their faith and Gentiles who don't either.

L P Cruz said...

P.E.

It is disappointing that the commenter from Ribi Yehoshua has not returned to conduct some dialog so I have to rely on some old books like that of Epstein.

But the animal sacrifices serve to set one free, I mean the effect is that the offending man is allowed to go without impunity on account of the substitute.

My impression when I was studying was that the Torah was given to enable man to qualify for heaven.

The issue is still in front of us and perhaps the universal question of existence - how may God treat us as righteous.

How does Judaism answer this question,

An angle I am reading is that some Jews believe that they are already saved by virtue of being Abraham's seed thus requires no atonement.

LPC