Christianity vs. The Sabbath – excerpt from Supplement

Throughout Brown’s attack on the Rabbinic understanding of the Sabbath the recurring refrain is: “is this what the Lord intended?” Brown expects his readers to come to the conclusion that the Rabbinic observance of the Sabbath is not the observance that God intended when He presented this commandment to His people.

If one’s understanding of spirituality in general and of the Sabbath in particular has been acquired from the literature and the general milieu of the modern Western world, then Brown’s argument will find a listening ear. But if one’s understanding of spirituality and of Sabbath is rooted in the Jewish Bible and in the environment of ancient Israel, then Brown’s argument is meaningless.

The Western world does not consider a procedure, in which people follow a detailed set of physical instructions, to be a rich spiritual experience. But the Jewish Scriptures teach us otherwise. Some of the pivotal narratives in Scripture teach us that man’s obedience to a series of detailed physical instructions bring man into a closer relationship with God. This is a feature in the episode of Noah’s ark. One of the central lessons integral to that account is the fact that God chose to renew life on this planet through Noah’s ark; an ark that was built according to a specific set of instructions. The entire Tabernacle narrative has the Jewish nation obediently following a detailed set of instructions and that this obedience was favored by God to the degree that He came to dwell amongst this nation. Scripture makes it clear that man’s obedience to intricate instructions is an important feature of the relationship between man and His Creator.

The historical record clearly indicates that every community of Jews in ancient Israel understood that the work that God prohibited on the Sabbath consists of a set of prohibitions that proscribe many minor physical activities. Some of these communities (such as the Qumran community represented in the Dead Sea Scroll literature) actually took a stricter view than Rabbinical Judaism in this area. The concept of Sabbath espoused by Protestant Christians, which is limited and confined to an indistinct “spiritual rest”, was unknown in ancient Israel. In ancient Israel the Sabbath was understood to be a spiritual rest that is amplified and supported by a defined set of rules prohibiting certain actions.

The Christian Scriptures themselves confirm the truth that the Biblical prohibition from work on the Sabbath applies to minor physical activities. Brown himself half-heartedly acknowledges this point when he tells us: “Now, it is more than likely, that Yeshua himself lived within the framework of SOME of these laws…” (page 226). In other words, Brown recognizes that Jesus himself observed the Sabbath according to the Rabbinic understanding of God’s holy day. Brown attempts to modify his admission with the argument that it was only “some” of the laws that Jesus observed, and with the myth the Rabbinic understanding of the Sabbath was not yet fully developed. But after everything is said and done, Brown is admitting that Jesus observed the Sabbath by refraining from minor physical activities.

The authors of the Christian Scripture clearly acknowledge this. In all of the Sabbath controversies that Jesus has with his opponents, not once does he disagree with the definition of “prohibited work” that his opponents espoused. His argument with them is that for the purpose of healing the Law of Sabbath is moved aside. But never does he argue that his opponent’s understanding of the Sabbath law is erroneous.

This means that mixing dirt and spittle is prohibited on the Sabbath (John 9:14), carrying a mat is prohibited in the Sabbath (John 5:10), and picking kernels of grain is prohibited on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1). These minor physical activities would hardly constitute a violation of the Sabbath according to the philosophy espoused by Brown. Yet Jesus never denies that these activities ought to be prohibited on the Sabbath, barring extenuating circumstances.

The Christian Scriptures actually take this one step further. They have Jesus quoting a detail of Rabbinic Sabbath law to prove a point. In John 7:22 Jesus bases his argument on the Rabbinic law which would generally prohibit an incision to the flesh on the Sabbath, yet permits it in the situation of circumcision. According to Brown’s understanding, why should a cut to the flesh be prohibited to begin with? And once it is determined that it is indeed prohibited, how can we know that for the sake of circumcision it is permitted?

It is clear from the Christian Scriptures that the Rabbinic understanding of the Sabbath was common knowledge in Jesus’ days, and that Jesus never disputed this conception of the Sabbath. Brown’s attack on the Rabbinical Sabbath is but a poor attempt to rewrite history.

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Claiming Originality – Excerpt from Supplement

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Claiming Originality – Excerpt from Supplement

IV. 25. Page 216

In this section Brown takes a page out of Jesus’ book, and besmirches Judaism and her teachers.

When Jesus presented his moral teachings to his audience, it was not enough for him to encourage his followers to aim for a higher moral standard. It was important for him to claim that his teaching was original, and that the teachers who preceded him failed to understand some basic moral insights. By doing so, Matthew’s Jesus set the stage for the subsequent teaching of John’s Jesus that the Jews are children of the devil. Eventually, the European people came to believe that the Jewish people are so intimately connected with evil that they fail to appreciate some of the most basic principles of morality.

Brown too is not satisfied to present Jesus’ moral teachings. He finds the need to paint a fictitious…

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Christian Anti-Semitism – Is It Still Relevant? – by Jim

Christian Anti-Semitism – Is It Still Relevant? – by Jim

 

The question of Christian Jew-hatred comes up semi-frequently in discussions about Christianity. The Christian wonders how this topic relates to the conversation about whether or not one should accept Jesus or not. The Christian may acknowledge that the Church did persecute the Jewish people, but does not see why this is pertinent. He may even adopt a wounded attitude: “Geez Louise, we said we’re sorry already. Get over it, willya?” One poster on this thread summed up this attitude by calling the Jew (i.e. the victim of 2,000 years of persecution) that brings up the history of persecution one who stirs up hatred, adding that “[t]he rest of us are moving on.” The Christian sees himself as taking the high road by avoiding the discussion of Christian Jew-hatred, while the Jew that mentions it is hateful. It is too bad that the irony is lost on him and is likely to remain so. But the question is not whether Christian Jew-hatred exists or has existed; the question is why talking about Christian Jew-hatred is relevant to discussions about Jesus. At least a few reasons can be given why this topic is relevant.

Perhaps the most obvious reason that the topic is relevant is that Christians claim that Jesus has greatly improved the moral quality of the lives of millions of people throughout history. One of the ways in which this grandiose claim can be examined is to review the history of the Church. Of course, it is a bloody history. The Church has perpetrated great crimes against the Jewish people. They have evicted them from their homes, creating the wandering Jew. They have burned their works. They have killed them in large numbers. It is reasonable that a Jew—or anybody really—should answer that this does not seem to be much of an improvement in the moral quality of these people’s lives. The faith of these Christians did not keep them from being murderers, oppressors, thieves, or destroyers. Moreover, it is the Jew who carries the scars that serve as proof that belief in Jesus failed to improve millions.

The Christian answer to this is rather Orwellian. All of those people do not count; those were not real Christians. Their history is not the history of the true believers. Etc. But even if the Christian had a good answer, that would not mean that the topic would be irrelevant. Because the Christian claims that Jesus has improved the lives of so many people, it is relevant to examine the history of believers.

It is also relevant because Christians frequently mischaracterize Jews as having a phobia of Jesus. Often this is attributed to spiritual blindness. Also, Christians will make it sound that the rabbis fear that if people really knew about Jesus, then they would turn in large numbers to Jesus, so the rabbis to preserve their power have created a stigma around him. In this context, it is relevant to point out that the Jewish people wish little to do with Jesus because in his name terrible crimes were perpetrated against the Jewish people. The aversion comes not from a fear of losing control but from 2,000 years of Jewish suffering at the hands of the Church. In this case, the Jew is answering a charge from the Christian. Unfortunately, too frequently the Christian attempts to bind the hands of the Jew, telling him that this answer is off limits.

Nevertheless many Christians will argue that because Jew-hatred has been greatly diminished in the past 80 years, it is unfair to bring it up. But the crimes of the Church against the Jewish people continue. The Church still continues to make itself the interpreter of the meaning of the Jewish scriptures. Not only that, it borrows from the rabbis what it can make use of to prop up its theology and castigate the rabbis with whom they disagree. They redefine the Jewish scriptures and the words of its interpreters, a great cultural theft and continue to malign the Jew. Too often, the modern acceptance of the Jew is not motivated from justice or kindness but a grab at legitimacy. That Jesus was a Jew is put forward as a reason to cease oppressing the Jew, yes, but it is not left there. It is also a weapon to show the Jew that Christianity is Jewish, the true Judaism. It is a tool to legitimize Christian interpretation of the Jewish scriptures.

So, one will read that Jesus was a student of Hillel. This makes Jesus a rabbi, a legitimate interpreter of the Jewish religion. And the Christian will praise Hillel as one of the good rabbis, making a pretense to knowledge of the rabbis that they do not actually have. What the Christian does not note is that the Jewish community preserved the words of Hillel. They did not preserve the words of Jesus. He does not notice it, because it does not matter to him. He never cared to read Hillel anyway. Hillel was just a tool to establish the bona fides of Jesus and Christianity. He wants to borrow Hillel’s authority, not learn at his feet.

Christian Jew-hatred may have largely ceased, but Christian aggression against the Jewish people has not. The Christian continues to insist that the Jew hear the Christian. He insists that he understands the Jewish tradition better than the Jew. He knows the Jewish scriptures better than the Jew. He is more Jewish than the Jew.

For these reasons, and perhaps more, Christian persecution of the Jew remains relevant. The Christian cannot claim moral superiority by ignoring the moral failures of the Church. It cannot pretend that the aversion to Jesus is rooted in a fear of the Church and not the bloody history of Jewish suffering in the name of Jesus. Nor can it ignore that, while physical persecution has ceased, Christian aggression against the Jew has continued. Missionary efforts continue. Christians misrepresent the Jewish scriptures and the rabbis. Jew-hatred may have lessened, but Christian aggression has taken another form.

Jim

P.S. For more on Orwell Christian talk see here:
https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/a-memo-from-the-church-in-the-year-1984-by-jim/

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Did Dr. Brown Answer? Let’s Evaluate!

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Shallow Similarities, Deep Differences – by Annelise

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Shallow Similarities, Deep Differences – by Annelise

In Proverbs 8 we hear a speech in the voice of Wisdom, who is portrayed as a desirable and life-bringing woman. Wisdom speaks here about how she was created before the universe; how creation was made through her, and the way she delights in its order and beauty. She is seen all through creation as the path of good things for those who choose her.

This character of Wisdom has frequent parallels in other ancient Jewish sources, besides Proverbs. These describe wisdom and, with a similar image, the ‘word of God’ as a tool through which He upholds and interacts with created beings. The people who developed this picture had a careful sense of respect for God, wanting their followers to know that although He holds creation close, and is known within it, He is not to be mistaken for a created thing…

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Song of Solomon 5:16 vs. Three Masters of Persuasion

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Song of Solomon 5:16 vs. Three Masters of Persuasion

The heart of Israel is bound up in a covenant relationship with the One Creator of heaven and earth. Throughout the Scripture this relationship is compared to a marriage. How can I explain love? How can I put Israel’s yearning for God into words? David said: “Whom do I have in heaven? And aside from You I desire none on earth” (Psalm 73:25). Solomon wrote on behalf of Israel: “This is my Beloved and my partner” (Song of Solomon 5:16). There is no room in Israel’s heart for another. And the fire of this love is seared onto every page of Israel’s history with her very life blood.

Israel’s refusal to consider the attempt of the Church to divert their heart towards Jesus is rooted in this love. The story of Israel’s rejection of Jesus is a story of loyalty to…

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Foundation of Worship II

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Foundation of Worship II

The Jewish scriptures together with the sense of justice that God breathed into each one of us makes it clear that the foundation of our worship is the fact that we are completely dependent upon our Creator who is the Author of all existence.

Once this fact is established, it becomes obvious why the Christian claim for the incarnation of Jesus is actually an attempt to redefine the very basis of worship. The scenario proposed by the theology of Christianity, in which Creator takes on the form of created – and demands worship in that form – is in effect claiming that worship is not rooted in our dependence upon the Author of all existence. “Creator”, by definition means the one to whom worship is due, while “created” means the one who owes the worship. By saying that Creator became created that is like saying that…

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