Idolatry – by Concerned Reader

I often find that well meaning Christians, and well meaning Jews talk past and over each other on the question of idolatry, its proper definition, and whether or not a given person is engaged in the service of idols in their tradition or not.

From the perspective of Judaism Deuteronomy 4 and Deuteronomy 13 clearly emphasize that G-d is not to be likened to or worshipped in any form, nor is the “whole host of heaven” to be worshipped ie G-d’s entourage is not to be served, (even though they work for him) and G-d is to be known to Israel as he revealed himself at Sinai.
In this post, I would like to tackle this whole discussion from another, (and I believe very neglected) angle. Where does the NT and the Christian tradition itself stand (in terms of its own teachings and definitions) concerning these important messages of Duteronomy 4 &13? Does the Christian text contain similar warnings?

1. You saw no form on the day the lord spoke to you at horeb out of the midst of the fire. (Deuternomy 4:15)

Concerning the incorporeal and ineffable nature of G-d that cannot be pictured, wholly grasped, or contained.
-John 4:24, Romans 1:20-26 Luke 24:39 Acts 7:42 Acts 15:20, and many others

(from the tradition)
Tatian the Syrian
“Our God has no introduction in time. He alone is without beginning, and is himself the beginning of all things. God is a spirit, not attending upon matter, but the maker of material spirits and of the appearances which are in matter. He is invisible, being himself the Father of both sensible and invisible things” (Address to the Greeks 4 [A.D. 170]).

Athenagoras
“I have sufficiently demonstrated that we are not atheists, since we acknowledge one God, unbegotten, eternal, invisible, incapable of being acted upon, incomprehensible, unbounded, who is known only by understanding and reason, who is encompassed by light and beauty and spirit and indescribable power, by whom all things, through his Word, have been produced and set in order and are kept in existence” (Plea for the Christians 10 [A.D. 177]).

Irenaeus
“Far removed is the Father of all from those things which operate among men, the affections and passions. He is simple, not composed of parts, without structure, altogether like and equal to himself alone. He is all mind, all spirit, all thought, all intelligence, all reason . . . all light, all fountain of every good, and this is the manner in which the religious and the pious are accustomed to speak of God” (Against Heresies 2:13:3 [A.D. 189]).

Clement of Alexandria
“The first substance is everything which subsists by itself, as a stone is called a substance. The second is a substance capable of increase, as a plant grows and decays. The third is animated and sentient substance, as animal, horse. The fourth is animate, sentient, rational substance, as man. Wherefore each one of us is made as consisting of all, having an immaterial soul and a mind, which is the image of God” (Fragment from On Providence [A.D. 200]).

“Being is in God. God is divine being, eternal and without beginning, incorporeal and illimitable, and the cause of what exists. Being is that which wholly subsists. Nature is the truth of things, or the inner reality of them. According to others, it is the production of what has come to existence; and according to others, again, it is the providence of God, causing the being, and the manner of being, in the things which are produced” (ibid.).

“What is God? ‘God,’ as the Lord says, ‘is a spirit.’ Now spirit is properly substance, incorporeal, and uncircumscribed. And that is incorporeal which does not consist of a body, or whose existence is not according to breadth, length, and depth. And that is uncircumscribed which has no place, which is wholly in all, and in each entire, and the same in itself” (ibid.).

“No one can rightly express him wholly. For on account of his greatness he is ranked as the All, and is the Father of the universe. Nor are any parts to be predicated of him. For the One is indivisible; wherefore also it is infinite, not considered with reference to inscrutability, but with reference to its being without dimensions, and not having a limit. And therefore it is without form” (Miscellanies 5:12 [A.D. 208]).

Origen
“Since our mind is in itself unable to behold God as he is, it knows the Father of the universe from the beauty of his works and from the elegance of his creatures. God, therefore, is not to be thought of as being either a body or as existing in a body, but as a simple intellectual being, admitting within himself no addition of any kind” (Fundamental Doctrines 1:1:6 [A.D. 225]).

“John says in the gospel, ‘No one has AT ANY TIME seen God,’ clearly declaring to all who are able to understand, that there is no nature to which God is visible, not as if he were indeed visible by nature, and merely escaped or baffled the view of a frailer creature, but because he is by nature impossible to be seen” (ibid. 1:1:8).

Athanasius
“God, however, being without parts, is Father of the Son without division and without being acted upon. For neither is there an effluence from that which is incorporeal, nor is there anything flowering into him from without, as in the case of men. Being simple in nature, he is Father of one only Son” (Letter on the Council of Nicaea 11 [A.D. 350]).

Didymus the Blind
“God is simple and of an incomposite and spiritual nature, having neither ears nor organs of speech. A solitary essence and illimitable, he is composed of no numbers and parts” (The Holy Spirit 35 [A.D. 362]).

Hilary of Poitiers
“First it must be remembered that God is incorporeal. He does not consist of certain parts and distinct members, making up one body. For we read in the gospel that God is a spirit: invisible, therefore, and an eternal nature, immeasurable and self-sufficient. It is also written that a spirit does not have flesh and bones. For of these the members of a body consist, and of these the substance of God has no need. God, however, who is everywhere and in all things, is all-hearing, all-seeing, all-doing, and all-assisting” (Commentary on the Psalms 129[130]:3 [A.D. 365]).

Basil the Great
“The operations of God are various, but his essence is simple” (Letters 234:1 [A.D. 367]).
Ambrose of Milan
“God is of a simple nature, not conjoined nor composite. Nothing can be added to him. He has in his nature only what is divine, filling up everything, never himself confused with anything, penetrating everything, never himself being penetrated, everywhere complete, and present at the same time in heaven, on earth, and in the farthest reaches of the sea, incomprehensible to the sight” (The Faith 1:16:106 [A.D. 379]).

Evagrius of Pontus
“To those who accuse us of a doctrine of three gods, let it be stated that we confess one God, not in number but in nature. For all that is said to be one numerically is not one absolutely, nor is it simple in nature. It is universally confessed, however, that God is simple and not composite” (Dogmatic Letter on the Trinity 8:2 [A.D. 381]).

Gregory of Nyssa
“But there is neither nor ever shall be such a dogma in the Church of God that would prove the simple and incomposite [God] to be not only manifold and variegated, but even constructed from opposites. The simplicity of the dogmas of the truth proposes God as he is” (Against Eunomius1:1:222 [A.D. 382]).

John Chrysostom
“[Paul] knows [God] in part. But he says, ‘in part,’ not because he knows God’s essence while something else of his essence he does not know; for God is simple. Rather, he says ‘in part’ because he knows that God exists, but what God is in his essence he does not know” (Against the Anomoians 1:5 [A.D. 386]).
“Why does John say, ‘No one has ever seen God’ [John 1:18]? So that you might learn that he is speaking about the perfect comprehension of God and about the precise knowledge of him. For that all those incidents [where people saw a vision of God] were condescensions and that none of those persons saw the pure essence of God is clear enough from the differences of what each did see. For God is simple and non-composite and without shape; but they all saw different shapes” (ibid., 4:3).

Augustine
“In created and changeable things what is not said according to substance can only be said according to accident. . . . In God, however, certainly there is nothing that is said according to accident, because in him there is nothing that is changeable, but neither is everything that is said of him according to substance” (The Trinity 5:5:6 [A.D. 408]).

Cyril of Alexandria
“We are not by nature simple; but the divine nature, perfectly simple and incomposite, has in itself the abundance of all perfection and is in need of nothing” (Dialogues on the Trinity 1 [A.D. 420]).
“The nature of the Godhead, which is simple and not composite, is never to be divided into two” (Treasury of the Holy Trinity 11 [A.D. 424]).
The Christian bible and tradition (as can be seen above) also teaches the incorporeality and ineffibility of G-d. He has no parts, he has no introduction in time, he has not been seen at any time.

Do not Worship the whole host of heaven Deuteronomy 4:19 (physical entities of any shape, the servants of G-d, nor the angels of G-d.)

Romans 1:20-26 Acts 7:42 Revelation 19:9-10 Revelation 22:8-9 Collosians 2:18 (pay special special attention to Acts 14:11-15, because the gentiles therein want to worship Paul as a god in human form, read his reaction.)

Given all the above information, Christians should not be at all surprised at the Jewish interpretation of proper divine service, or the Jewish reaction to common christian services, because your own texts and your own teachers teach you the clear warnings that the Jewish people are trying to teach you, and your teachers reacted similarly when they saw deviation.

The problem is, your incarnational devotion to Jesus, his cross, and his blood, often crosses this clearly defined line of proper behavior. Even the institutional Church itself admited throughout its doctrine in the Church councils and history that the idolatry line is crossed in your worship of Jesus, if you do some of the following:

1. If you act with worshipful devotion, or do homage to Jesus of Nazareth believing him to be only a mortal human teacher, you are guilty of idolatry. (arianism)

2. If you believe in “Jesus only” to the exclusion of the father and his commandments, you are likewise guilty of idolatry. (oneness pentacostalism/modalism, and gnosticism)

3. If you worship as divine any other being who claims he is Jesus, or claims he is like Jesus, (and even if this person is cured from a deadly wound,) the Church also says you are guilty of idolatry. (revelation 13)

4. If you believe the trinity to be a corporeal reality, you are likewise deemed an idolater by the orthodox and guilty of tritheism. (Mormonism.)

In what sense then would there supposedly be a meaningful incarnation? The logos (speech/word) of G-d was allegedly revealed in Jesus. Dear Christian friends, you do not need a cross, a communion wafer, a 2,000 year old man’s blood, a Church building, or an organization, in order to embrace the ethical logion (words) of Jesus.

If Jesus’ word is the word of G-d, then his actual teaching should matter to you far more than the trinitarian or incarnational theological formulae about his alleged nature. EVEN THE CHURCH KNOWS ITS A SLIPPERY SLOPE.

Also if the word of G-d is in Jesus, this word shouldn’t contradict G-d’s already clealry stated instructions from the Torah. Look at common Christian devotions to Jesus, and tell me with a straight face that you blame the Jewish people for levelling an idolatry charge.

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33 Responses to Idolatry – by Concerned Reader

  1. Concerned Reader
    Thanks for this post – in light of the words of these Christian teachers – all of whom lived centuries before Maimonides, the missionary accusation (or people like Daniel Boyarin) that Maimonides taught an incorporeal God based on Greek philosophy is simply laughable

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Yes, rabbi, it is laughable indeed. Many don’t know that Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica recognizes his indebtedness to Maimonides, and mentions it. I think sometimes Christians and Jews argue so much about the differences between faiths, that we forget that there is indeed a lot of common ground, if only we look. Given the early Church’s reliance on Philo of Alexandria, believing that G-d is incorporeal doesn’t surprise me that much. The only corporealist I am aware of was Terullian, and he believed such because of the clear dangers that philosophy posed to doctrines of divine providence, in reaction to denials of G-d’s activity in the world, etc.

      This knowledge of my tradition is what made it extremely hard to accept the charge of idolatry in the first place. All the same kind of warnings are right there in the Christian Bible saying, “don’t exchange the glory of G-d for that of mortal men,” “G-d has not been seen at any time, etc.”

  2. Fred says:

    The thing is, though, CR, that while these quotes definitely speak of God as incorporeal, they do not address the nature of Jesus in the eyes of the same commentators. These same commentators would, in the whole body of their work, attest that Jesus is God and had an incorporeal nature as the pre-existent, self-existent “son” before the incarnation. Even Arius did not contest the deity of Jesus, with the whole Arian/Athanasian controversy based on the use of a single word (Homoiousios vs Homoousios: same substance vs like substance). Then if we include the Holy Spirit as a person, then the substance of the Father is again changed, since in the trinity the Father is not the holy spirit, but a separate “hypostasis” from the holy spirit ( yes, that came later, but it is Christian orthodoxy). What then IS the Father in these teachings? I know that more and more in the contemporary Christian movements, the Father is increasingly irrelevant and seldom even spoken of in the pulpit. Churches now pray directly to Jesus and even pray directly to the holy spirit. And this is the logical conclusion, since in the trinity the Father is actually the least involved in the daily existence and subsistence of the church. Jesus provides the forgiveness, atonement and the “love”, the holy spirit is the active force ( even though a person) in the life of the Christian. The Father logically has no active role and is little more than a “silent partner”.

    The more I learn of Judaism, the more I believe the common ground you speak of exists on only the most superficial semantic level. When one gets down to precisely defining the theological/doctrinal terms, Judaism and Christianity have [almost] nothing in common, especially since anyone who denies the “full deity” of Jesus is considered a heretic/cultist and not even a Christian.

  3. Concerned Reader says:

    Fred, I realize full well what you mean. I see the disturbing issue that the father is treated by Christians as less and less relevant, believe me. My point was, the same warnings that we find are crystal clear in the Torah are directly correlated in the Christian text, all their mythologizing of Jesus notwithstanding. Walking contradiction. Even if I held to the trinitarian formulae as true, I wouldn’t agree with modern (or many ancient) Christian views, that’s the point I was making.

    Most Christians talk about the trinity without having the slightest bit of background knowledge of what it meant to those who came up with it.

    Its true that Jesus is deemed more relevant, (how scary that is,) but the Church always has to fly in the face of the most clearly expressed ethical teachings, and the warnings, even those in their own books to maintain that devotion, that was the point I was making.

    I have little doubt that revelation 13 is one reason (among many) why that book’s canonical status was initially in doubt among the orthodox. After all, It explicitly warns people not to look at a human individual as a deity, even if he’s healed from death.

    The texts provide several Torah warnings, (but the Christians make exceptions for Jesus,) that’s the sad irony of it all.

    For instance, you mentioned this, “Jesus is God and had an incorporeal nature as the pre-existent, self-existent “son” before the incarnation.

    (contrast that incorporeal nature with the temporal earthly human nature that all the Christians say began to exist 2,000 years ago.)

    Two natures, one personality. The term “persons” never signifies corporeality in the literature of the Church fathers, never signifies anything but rational relations in a philosophical sense. “Sight” or “seeing” of the “persons” or of J’s “divinity” always signifies beatific visions, prophetic insight, or intellectual perception in the literature, never plain physical eyesight of physical entities. (Mathew 16:17) You only ever “see” G-d, in the minds eye, based on the knowledge of the things that are made, or if you have a pure heart. (Mathew 5:8 Romans 1:20) The text itself makes that distinction internally, and Christians don’t notice.

    The hypostatic union (which theoretically exists in order to maintain these very important distinctions of definition) is ignored and or glossed over by most Christians.

    My point was, yes, they are interested in the earthly human, but If they actually followed their own doctrine through as it was intended, you wouldn’t ever honor the earthly Jesus, or his blood, etc. as much as you should honor his teachings, which are really the only meaningful reflection of the intended meaning and sense signified by the words logos and prosopon/person.

    By this I mean, even within Christian theology and literature itself, the term “persons” (in relation to the trinity) is not ever meant to be taken anthropomorphically, but signifies an individual substance of a rational nature, not human bodies or human minds.

    The terms have specific meanings that are rooted in philosophy that most Christians don’t understand, know, or care about. The theoretical point of the teaching (as you know) is that G-d is personal, he’s not a platonic monad, a demiurge, not an emanation, not a creature, etc. The term “persons” exists to remind that G-d is personal, he’s not abstract.

    Even Arius did not contest the deity of Jesus, with the whole Arian/Athanasian controversy based on the use of a single word (Homoiousios vs Homoousios: same substance vs like substance).”

    (Homoiousios vs Homoousios) are terms though that signify huge differences, and that’s the point. To the orthodox, If you viewed Jesus as a created 1st born of creation who was “like” his father,” and invested with his power, you might have antecedents in angelic speculations for that theological construct, but from an orthodox Christian view, you’d be guilty of idolatry because you believe a creature can be called god and act with his authority.

    Yes, Jesus is said to have an incorporeal divine nature. A nature that has no body, cannot ever be pictured, etc. This is partly what I was talking about. If Christians carried their own doctrines through logically, they would have no real need of venerating the flesh of Jesus as much as they do. I realize that’s what they do anyway, but its a fact that their texts and even their tradition are constantly battling this contradiction, that was my point.

    Christianity is a form of idolatry that destroys its own purposes and core premises. It tells you on one hand “venerate Jesus,’ with ignored provisos, but then says “DON”T VENERATE HUMAN PEOPLE.” Its got to battle that contradiction, even on the doctrinal level, that was my point.

  4. Fred says:

    Point taken and well put. I tried for years to show my Christian colleagues that the NT , and Jesus himself, denied this deity they insisted was part of the faith from the beginning. The big problem was that while the NT, not to mention the “OT”, was chock full of texts that denied such a doctrine, they would take a few here and there, such as John1:1, and build on that. There can be no doubt that the “deity of Jesus” ( to at least some degree) was one of the themes of John and that is the reason why missionaries and pastors often insist that new [Gentile] believers start with John in their biblical studies.
    The biggest problem with a non-deity Jesus for Christianity, however, is that the historical Jesus has nothing to offer in terms of a religion outside of Rabbinical Judaism/Bnei Noach.
    I believe Jesus was a follower or even possibly a student of Hillel, as hinted at in his own teachings. A charismatic repeater of Hillel’s basic message could indeed develop a following, and possibly even find fault with overly rigid rabbis and priests, but would not think to start a new religion. If Hillel didn’t, why would his students?

    But without the Roman mythos Jesus and the doctrines of Paul, Christianity has nothing to offer. As stated by the Roman Church, the trinity is the entire foundation upon which Christianity was built.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      I wouldn’t exactly call the Christian theology Roman, as the theology thoroughly predates imperial Christianity by a long shot. I would say that its more likely that there were second temple mystical notions run Amok in this theology, and that this is where the Christians got hung up. Trinitarianism is just a later convoluted attempt to reconcile all the difficulties.

      There is a reason that the Tanakh says that the secret things are for hashem. We see even in Judaism of today people who focus on mystical speculations about sefirot, partzufim, etc. (to the point that sometimes their intention in prayers are directed at certain “emanations.”) Further, we have seen rabbis other than Jesus get deified. I think the best thing for dialogue is to just be honest about it. I don’t hate the Christians, and I don’t blame them for believing what they believe. From their vantage point it all seems plausible, because it is replicated in Judaism itself. They examine the question historically/theologically, not halachically, so is it any wonder they believe the way they do?

      I mean, in the Talmud we have all the signs of this behavior. Several warnings against prayers to Michael and Gabriel, warnings to avoid a heresy of “two powers,” we have within Judaism itself the angel/shaliach that acts on G-d’s behalf, doctrines of prophecy and emanation etc. If you were not reading the Bible from Judaism’s point of view, it is very easy to come to Christian conclusions.

      Like I said though, the NT itself contains the same warnings that the rabbis teach, so its interesting.

      • robert2016 says:

        cr, in christian theology is god possessing a body or is he becoming a body?

        there is an invisible god who is infinite and is not measurable.
        so does this invisible god become visible by becoming created?
        what in this invisible becomes weak ? does his invisibleness change?
        if christians argue that god does not change and neither does time and location effect him like it does human beings, then did god in their beliefs really become created/man?

  5. CP says:

    R’B,
    In the above blog you’ve done an awesome job of showcasing where Christianity goes astray, I thank you for a job well done. Respectfully I’d like to point out it only showcases the excesses on one side of the coin; an over exultation of Jesus by Christians. What about the other side of the coin?; a total lack of Jewish respect for Yeshua.. What did he do to deserve being cut off from his people?

    Yeshua came calling for repentance and warning of judgement. The religious leaders of his day didn’t listen and this is some how his fault?

    Don’t see him as Messiah, okay. Reject the idea of a suffering Messiah, okay. These things I don’t agree with but at least I understand them. But to not respect Yeshua for doing the same as Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah is to disrespect a righteous devoted observant brother who gave his life in the service of Israel and then to declare him cut off and irrelevant is simply unfathomable!

    • CP Please give credit where credit is due – it was Concerned Reader who wrote this educational and informative article. So your problem is that we lack respect for a leader who laid down his life to teach a message of repentance and loyalty to God. Do you know how many such leaders our nation had? Do you respect any of them? Do you care to find out about their careers? These were people who taught a message of repentance and turning back to God and somehow they managed to make sure that their message didn’t get confused and exalt them instead of God – so do you respect these people? If we would believe that Jesus did what you claim he did we would respect him for being a righteous teacher. But the available evidence that we have tells us that he taught self-exaltation and repentance was the excuse, the justification to exalt him. He exploited the message of repentance for his own self-aggrandizement. I suggest you read Kosher Reality.

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

    • CP says:

      Concerned Reader & R’B,
      I sincerely apologize for an honest mistake; I didn’t reader the title, just the article which I thought was very good. I was kinda surprised that R’B was so familiar with early Christian writings, lol, it all makes sense now.
      Sport for the mistake, excellent article!

      • CP says:

        Sorry for the typos; typing on my phone without glasses and predictive text; a recipe for disaster, just glad it didn’t spell anything really offensive!

    • Dina says:

      CP, I’m addressing you directly once and, I hope, for all. Your inability to empathize with the Jewish position and your contempt for Jews make dialogue with you futile. Talking to you is like talking to a wall, as shown by your repeating assertions and questions, ignoring months of hours of writing.

      You know what is truly unfathomable? That you expect us to believe your testimony over that of our own flesh and blood. Our own ancestors, who supposedly actually encountered Jesus, testified that he was a false prophet and a false messiah. To assume that we would reject the testimony of our own people who met and spoke with the man in favor of yours, coming 2000 years later trying to “rediscover” Jesus, is unfathomable.

      Lest you say that we should indeed reject their testimony because they were corrupt, I will tell you this:

      God laid out what punishments we could expect in exile as a result of our disobedience. Tanach is replete with examples. But one punishment that God did not mete out is the punishment of having to seek truth from the gentiles and learning from the gentiles who God’s prophets are.

      Good bye and good luck!

      • LarryB says:

        Dina
        “But one punishment that God did not mete out is the punishment of having to seek truth from the gentiles and learning from the gentiles who God’s prophets are.”
        I laughed out loud, that’s funny……………..

      • CP says:

        “That you expect us to believe your testimony over that of our own flesh and blood. ”

        Dina, I don’t think I’ve ever asked you to accept my testimony about anything. All I’ve asked for is good honest discussion.

        “Our own ancestors, who supposedly actually encountered Jesus, testified that he was a false prophet and a false messiah. ”

        Dina, you’re cherry picking which ancestors to believe. There were many who believed Yeshua; Priests, Pharisees, and a multitude.

        “But one punishment that God did not mete out is the punishment of having to seek truth from the gentiles and learning from the gentiles who God’s prophets are.”

        Dina, nobody is asking you to learn from Gentiles.

        • Dina says:

          CP, for the last time, since you are listening with your fingers in your ears:

          The Jews I am picking are my ancestors. The only Jews who survived the encounter with Jesus went on to produce the next generations of Jews. I am picking the Jews from whom I am descended. I am not a descendant of anyone who believed in Jesus. That’s not cherry picking.

          Everyone today who knows about Jesus has learned about him from gentiles, not Jews–or from Jews who learned about him from gentiles. So to lecture Jews on respecting Jesus is, yes, expecting Jews to take their theological lessons from gentiles.

          You asked for a good honest discussion (a bit rich coming from you). I gave you a good honest answer. My great-great-and-so-on grandparents who actually met Jesus decided he wasn’t the righteous man you–who never met him or spoke to him but were born thousands of years later–claim he is. I believe them over you. That’s my answer, end of story.

          • CP says:

            Dina,
            It is cherry picking; you choose ‘Your’ ancestors. I don’t have a problem with that; it’s your choice. However I will ask; if God thought continuous human oral tradition passed from parent to child would preserve the truth uncorrupted, then why did God have Moses write it down? And why have these Texts been preserved?

            Your position begs the question; Where would you look for truth had your great grand parents converted to Christianity?

            You’d (hopefully) be doing the same as me; rather than simply taking your ancestors word for it you’d be prayerfully searching the oldest documents of both Judaism and Christianity trying your best to know the truth.

          • Dina says:

            Really? I didn’t know you could choose your ancestors. Wow, you really will say anything to get away from simple facts. The only sect to survive Second Temple Judaism was the Pharisees, and every single Jew alive today is their descendant. This historical fact is not in dispute.

            So, yes, I believe my ancestors. Hashem told us how to preserve the Torah in the Torah. I’ve pointed out this to you and cited numerous scriptural references on this very point–but you don’t pay attention. For someone who came here to learn, you are a poor student.

            Your personal search for truth is irrelevant to this particular discussion. You’re picking on traditional Jews for dissing Jesus. That’s what I’m responding to.

            We don’t respect Jesus as a righteous leader of the Jewish people because our own flesh-and-blood ancestors who encountered him told us not to. They were there. You weren’t. And there isn’t anyone alive today whose ancestors met Jesus and believed in him and who passed on an opposing tradition.

          • CP says:

            Dina,
            If your ancestors are like mine or most people; some were good, some were bad, none were perfect and all made mistakes, it may to be unwise to rely on just one generation’s opinion passed down. Since they are human like you and I then we should be able look at the evidence we have and make a decision just like they did.

            If you don’t mind a straightforward question; If Yeshua is the son of man spoken of by Daniel, what did he say or do that requires you reject him?

          • cflat7 says:

            Pardon my butting in again: CP, if Jesus is not the son of man spoken of by Daniel, what did he say or do that requires you to not reject him? And please explain what you mean by rejecting him.

          • CP says:

            cflat7,
            Feel free to butt in; you’re always welcome!

            If Yeshua is not the one spoken of in Daniel 7 then obviously he was mistaken. He wouldn’t be the first or last to be mistaken, as you well know; many have claimed Messiahship, they are still accepted as righteous Jews. Although there are those who have done things worthy to be cut off from Israel, such as converting to Islam and they were cut off, but I don’t see Yeshua doing any such things worthy of expulsion from the Jewish race.

            It is ‘understandable’ to reject Yeshua as Messiah, but to cut him off from Israel for calling for repentance and challenging a corrupted system meant to represent God, is…. well….continued non-repentance.

          • Dina says:

            That’s what you say he did; that’s not what my ancestors say he did. I would rather rely on them, imperfect as they may or may not have been, than listen to people who never knew him.

            I already spent months and months of hours and hours explaining exactly why Jews reject Jesus and what Jesus taught (or the teachings that were attributed to him) that was problematic. The fact that you still don’t know the answer to this question means that you are not listening. I don’t see the point of repeating myself. It’s like talking to a wall. You lack the empathy, understanding, open heart, and open mind to hear Jews out with respect and compassion.

          • Dina says:

            Why didn’t you respond to Rabbi B.’s very strong argument to you?

          • CP says:

            Dina,
            Forgive me for being stubborn, hard headed and skeptical. Would you please in just a few sentences say what Yeshua did to deserve expulsion from the Jewish race. I know R’B has answered, I’ve read it and letting it sink in before answering. However you seem extremely adamant, so I was curious as to your personal reasons for disowning Yeshua.

          • Dina says:

            I don’t care if you’re stubborn, hard-headed (-hearted?), and skeptical. Believe what you want. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I spent several months explaining the Jewish position to you. You don’t have to agree, but if you lack the ability to understand and empathize with a different point of view, then you failed before you even started.

            I went through all of this with you several times. You didn’t hear me the first many times. You won’t hear me again. I’m not wasting any more time. I only engaged for so long for the sake of the audience. I’m pretty sure they got the message by now, even if you didn’t. So good bye and have a nice life!

  6. Dina says:

    Following.

  7. Concerned Reader says:

    1st off CP, you should address the Questions at me, (I wrote this article as the title says)

    I wrote this to respond to the Christian charge that Maimonides somehow changed how Judaism views G-d to exclude incarnation.

    Christians accuse Maimonides of saying that G-d is incorporeal, and of saying he cannot take a form. They say this cane from Greece and not Tanakh

    I show in the article that Christianity’s own theologians themselves understood G-d to be as Maimonides described.

    This argument does address excesses in Christianity. That said, the thing you dont realize is that even though you say Jesus is only an agent, (and not G-d) it hasnt changed the fact that you see him as a necessary aspect for soneone in their walk.

    You still make Jesus into Nehushtan (the idolized brass serpent.)

    You still inadvertently break Deuteronomy 4 (the prohibition of worshiping the whole host of heaven,) because your theology of atonment through this agent makes you see others who dont believe as lacking in their existing relationship with G-d.

    Christian excess is more than enough justification for Jews rejecting the gospels and Jesus.

    As I have told you, your error lies in treating your historical reconstruction of Jesus as if it were gospel truth (as if that was what the authors intended all along, a fact you cannot check or know.)

    Thus, this reconstruction is yours alone, leaning on your own understanding. A person can be trying to worship G-d and still be guilty of idolatry.

  8. Alan says:

    Exodus 32 (the parsha that was read today in shul) –

    1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him: ‘Up, make us a god who shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him.’

    They panicked without Moses and built the Golden Calf as his replacement. According to the halacha it is permitted to make images of animals as long as they are not meant to be worshiped. Only a small number of the people worshiped the calf (about 3000). But it seems that the people in general needed the calf – not to worship – but as a replacement intermediary for Moses (an intermediary that is not worshiped). After all the miracles Hashem showed them (the 10 plagues, the splitting of the sea, the manna, the revelation at Mt. Sinai), why weren’t they able to trust that no intermediary was required for Hashem to continue to take care of them and for them to have a successful relationship with Hashem? And what was incorrect in their understanding of Moses that led them to think that without Moses it was impossible to have a successful relationship with Hashem?

    • CP says:

      It is my understanding the golden calf was considered by those who made it, a representation of Hashem rather than a foreign God.. The fact they painicked without Moses indicates Moses was their connection (intermediary) with Hashem (contrary to what is taught).

      “After all the miracles Hashem showed them (the 10 plagues, the splitting of the sea, the manna, the revelation at Mt. Sinai), why weren’t they able to trust that no intermediary was required for Hashem to continue to take care of them and for them to have a successful relationship with Hashem?”
      — Perhaps because all of the above events were orchestrated with an intermediary? —-

      “And what was incorrect in their understanding of Moses that led them to think that without Moses it was impossible to have a successful relationship with Hashem?”
      — Fear? They said they didn’t want to hear God’s voice for themselves and asked for a mediator. —-

      • Alan says:

        I believe the golden calf was supposed to be a representation of Moses. As Aaron told Moses in verse 23 – “So they said unto me: Make us a god/power/leader, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him.”

        How it works that a golden calf can be a substitute for Moses, I don’t know. If Aaron and the people had made it as an idol, I believe they also would have been killed for the sin of idolatry. But only 3000 were killed. It does say that Hashem “plagued” the people at the end of the story. I’m not sure if it necessarily means they died.

        Maybe you’re right that they had too great a fear of having a direct relationship with Hashem and they thought they needed an intermediary. Not an intermediary that is worshiped, but one that they can hide behind and do everything for them.

        • CP says:

          Just a thought;
          50 days earlier they were life long slaves, since then Moses had led them. This is the first time in their lives they’ve been all alone, all by themselves with no one to tell them what to do. They were willing to trade their freedom for security – althought Solomon hadn’t said it yet – ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’.

    • Alan says:

      And how could the people buy that a golden calf would be an adequate substitute for Moses? They didn’t ask for a particular kind of intermediary. It seems that either Aaron decided to make a calf or that all Aaron did was throw the gold into the fire and the calf came out to everyone’s surprise.

      • CP says:

        “Aaron did was throw the gold into the fire and the calf came out to everyone’s surprise.”

        — That’s about equivalent to; “I didn’t eat the last cookie, it just accidentally fell into my mouth. —-

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