Jesus & Christianity – From Faith to Fiction

Geza Vermes in ‘Jesus and the World of Judaism: Chapter 4 – Jesus and Christianity‘ does yeoman’s work to point out how Jesus was a clear adherent of the Judaism of his times. He was not a figure external to Judaism, but internal to the faith of his forefathers.

He followed Torah, in fact, taught on Torah ideals and how to delve further into them. He kept sabbath, purification rituals, and celebrated the festivals (IE: Passover). He had eschatological ideals, along the lines of the Essenes, and was a healer – like Honi from the Galilee. He followed the idea of being an ‘imitator of God‘, which had a rich history inside Judaism at the time. He was in an era when Judaism was making it’s codes for it’s faith and Jesus had his ideas which both differentiated him but also grounded him into the conversation.

It is plausible Jesus taught the idea, alive in Judaism in his era, that Israel would become a ‘light (un)to the nations‘. As David Ariel says about this idea in Reform Judaism ‘stressed that Israel was not only to be a moral exemplar but to see its re­ligion as missionary, with morality as the Jewish mission‘.

Maybe Jesus saw a return to Torah, a better adherence, and building this relationship with God again (like the prophets) would lead Israel to (a) freedom and (b) influence. At this point in time Israel does not have a sovereign state and the religious fervor, apocalyptic in nature, was calling for this type of cleansing. If I am not to be believed surely 2 revolts – 68 CE and 132 CE – over this exact issue are to be considered.

Jesus fits in that mold of Judaism and he is an active participant in that faith. Did Jesus come to establish a whole new religion? This is the crux of the issue in Christianity.

Christianity has become a foreign idea to Jewish ears. Many ideas illegal to Torah have sprung up, accredited to Jesus, like blood atonement, end of the sabbath, Jesus’ equality to God, the law as a ‘curse’, and the overall usurpation/cancellation of Judaism by Christianity as God’s favored system.

Are we sure Jesus taught that? Are we sure Paul taught that even?

It is almost impossible for me to see Jesus as teaching such filth about his own beloved faith, in his Father-son ideas, and in the ideas of imitating God. No one in Judaism would make such claims against a God they proposed to love so dearly, in a religion established by God, and in the words (Torah) handed directly from God to Moses. That is ludicrous thinking.

So we must look at who wanted to usurp Judaism and take it’s integrity/place. This can only lie at the feet of Gentile writers. These writers/compilers never met Jesus nor were they taught in the ways of Torah (Judaism). They were, at best, taught Pauline ideas (who also never met Jesus), which were constructed from his Hellenistic-Jewish background and best interpretation of what he heard. What we find is we have 2nd and 3rd hand sources writing and compiling for the Christian canon.

I am claiming Gentiles complied/wrote/edited the teachings of Jesus (and Paul) so as to bend the faith in their favor. History not only bares this out but so does Christian thought (Philosophical Greek in nature – not Jewish).

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16 thoughts on “Jesus & Christianity – From Faith to Fiction

  1. Hi Jason, Merry Christmas. I hope all is well with you.
    **Geza Vermes in ‘Jesus and the World of Judaism: Chapter 4 – Jesus and Christianity‘ does yeoman’s work to point out how Jesus was a clear adherent of the Judaism of his times**
    I don’t see how this could be true as Jesus clashed with the Pharisees of His time over the Sabbath and other laws which had been distorted. Also, He interceded for people who had broken the Law and forgave them saying “your sins are forgiven”. Only God can do that, which is why the teachers of the Law were so offended by Him.
    Jesus did not leave it open to say He was just another good Jew. He claimed to be the “Holy One of Israel” of the Old Testament, the Son of Man, Son of God, the One who pleased Abraham and the Prophet Isaiah. He was the Messiah foretold over and over again.
    And how is blood atonement “illegal to Torah” if those animals’ deaths over thousands of years were just that? If you don’t accept Jesus, you are calling the Old Testament a fiction by default because NOTHING ever came of its greatest proclamations.
    Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and company were all Christ followers. I pray you will be one too. Merry Christmas.

  2. “Jesus clashed with the Pharisees of His time over the Sabbath” (Jim)

    True, in the stories he does this. However, this is perfectly normal behavior within rabbinics. Jesus is not doing something ‘odd’ by debating his points and taking the stands he does on the sabbath issue. He is teaching different then what the Pharisee’s are but only in regards to content – not the sabbath itself.

    Jesus never actually does break the sabbath in and of itself. The rabbninic idea of the time was that ‘life’ mattered more than the sabbath and anything could be done on the sabbath as long as it saved ‘life’. Jesus’ healings fall under the idea of ‘life’ and in most cases he does no ‘work’ (says some words usually). In this sense, his teaching ‘sabbath was made for man’ (not vice versa) is actually about saving life on the sabbath as a matter of more importance than the day itself. He is not annulling sabbath, he is merely teaching on importance during sabbath.

  3. “He interceded for people who had broken the Law and forgave them saying “your sins are forgiven”. Only God can do that, which is why the teachers of the Law were so offended by Him.” (Jim)

    Jesus does no such intercession. Jesus merely pointed out that he had the power to heal, either via saying their ‘sins are forgiven’ or ‘you are healed’. Honi the healer also did the same thing – and the pharisee’s had issues with him as well – but relented because God heard his words. That alone would explain why the teachers of Pharisee tradition might be miffed for starters. Jesus was different than them but God still worked through him.

    Only God can forgive sins, are you sure about that? If you wrong someone and feel bad about it and say ‘I’m sorry that I hurt you’ then they in turn forgive you – is this God or human? Don’t for one second think only God has power to forgive.

    Jesus merely pointed out the obvious in the situation of the healed – they were forgiven of God (thus healed) and no matter how it was said that much was obvious to all.

  4. “Jesus did not leave it open to say He was just another good Jew” (Jim)

    He was a ‘man of God’ within the borders of the Torah and Prophets – his faith is Judaism – in the Father – as a son of God – because he is an Israelite.

    “He claimed to be the “Holy One of Israel” of the Old Testament, the Son of Man, Son of God, the One who pleased Abraham and the Prophet Isaiah. He was the Messiah foretold over and over again.” (Jim)

    This is going to burst the bubble created for you but here it goes.

    Holy One of Israel – I cannot find this exact quote used of Jesus

    Son of Man – He was this – but it was never even insinuated with Judaism (Monotheism) that the ‘son of man’ was equal to ‘God’. Actually, the title alone tells you enough that the person is ‘man’. This ‘son of man’ could of been a prophet or the messiah but never were they God. That’s reading an idea into the term.

    Messiah – which messiah exactly? The coming King of the Davidic line of the last days? Messiah of Aaron or high priest? The prophetic Messiah? These are 3 common perception of messiah from the Essenes. Was he all of them? Was he one of them? How come the end times did not happen if he were one of them? Define messiah and we’ll talk about it.

    Much of the passages used as messianic passages are nothing of the such. Let me give one very clear example.

    “He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” (Matt 2:15)

    I ask – is that what passes for a prophecy?

    This passage is not in the Torah or Prophets or Writings. So how does a prophecy become out of something that is not even scripture?

  5. “And how is blood atonement “illegal to Torah” if those animals’ deaths over thousands of years were just that? If you don’t accept Jesus, you are calling the Old Testament a fiction by default because NOTHING ever came of its greatest proclamations.” (Jim)

    Blood atonement was accepted – of animals. Was Jesus an animal? Are humans animals? Clearly the answer is ‘no’. God never once accepted a human sacrifice, unless that’s God name was Ba’al.

    I have zero clue how I am claiming the Tanakh is fiction by citing obvious teachings of Torah/Prophets and not accepting your version of Jesus’ prophecies (which many were not – they were made up to relate to messiah but had no credence in Jewish circles).

    Does Judaism still exist? Do the Jewish people still exist? How can you claim nothing ever came of the Tanakh?

    “Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and company were all Christ followers. I pray you will be one too. Merry Christmas.”

    None of these people followed Jesus nor the messiah. How do I know this? None ever stake a claim to that fact and none ever lived in the same timeframe as the messiah.

    What’s really astounding here is you basically have zero understanding of Judaism and it’s concepts outside of Christian circles (which also have very little on the subject). Which really begs the question – how can you be certain your interpretations of what you are reading is even accurate, not knowing the context Jesus lived in?

    That’s like reading Shakespeare and not knowing the language used in the same time frame – or the socio-economic-political atmosphere of his days. You’d be left with incomplete pictures having to fill in voids you had no context for. This is what has happened in Christian teachings on Judaism.

  6. “accredited to Jesus, like blood atonement, end of the sabbath, Jesus’ equality to God, the law as a ‘curse’, and the overall usurpation/cancellation of Judaism by Christianity as God’s favored system.”

    Agreed. I have these beefs too. I think blood atonement is a tragic misstep in theology since 1100s and is based on Anselm’s misunderstanding of the poetry found in Hebrews (a VERY Jewish letter).

    “I am claiming Gentiles complied/wrote/edited the teachings of Jesus (and Paul) so as to bend the faith in their favor. History not only bares this out but so does Christian thought”
    -I think this claim stands. Lots of hard feelings after the early church was kicked out of the synagoges and then started marketing to the Gentiles. Smart move on the early church’s part: more gentiles than Jews and the Jewish people aren’t known for agreeing 100% on any particular doctrine outside of “God is one” and a handful of others. Vast oversimplification, but there’s merit to it.

  7. “I think blood atonement is a tragic misstep in theology since 1100s and is based on Anselm’s misunderstanding of the poetry found in Hebrews (a VERY Jewish letter)” (Luke)

    I am going to read a book called ‘Blood’ soon about the fascination with the subject within religious circles – namely Christianity.

    As for Hebrews, my correction would be this, ‘a very Jewish SOUNDING letter’. That letter resembles Judaism about as much as I resemble a Muslim.

  8. Sorry dawg. Temple metaphors abound. No gentle is going to write about a “high priest” and all the blood stuff. Pretty clear it’s written to a jewish audience in jerusalem even though we don’t know who exactly wrote it.

  9. I see very little issue of someone writing a thesis on Jewish beliefs for a Gentile audience and converting them to mean something they may not mean at all – to attach a level of integrity to their own belief system. In fact, the gospels are just that – documents written by Gentiles (Greek writing) for Gentile use – why should Hebrews get an exemption?

  10. Cause scholar after scholar has said so. 😉

    Even Amy Jill Levine, who can find Antisemitism in Taylor Swift lyrics starts with that premise in Women’s Bible Commentary (westminster john knox press, 1998). Mary Rose D’Angelo goes even further and suggests that it could have been written by a woman.

  11. However, you’ll find a friend in Bart Ehrman who states that this is a sermon or homily delivered by a Christian preacher to his congregation. Yet he speculates on whether this person was a Jew or Gentile. (New Testament: A historical introduction pages 375-384)

  12. I contend it may be possible a Hellenistic Jew wrote Hebrews, I personally have my doubts since it flies in the face of Judaism, but it is possible. Regardless, Jesus never taught Hebrews and it’s contents anyways and nor was he a Hellenistic Jew (nor were his leanings for that matter).

  13. Reading Ehrman right now oddly enough – not too much of a fan since he misses a lot about Jesus’ Judaism background and attributes things to Jesus that can be easily answered in other ways. But all in all, I like his writing.

  14. Even Origen said, “from whence it came, no one knows” in the 2nd century. Stands today. It’s a strange little letter, that’s for sure.

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