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Rabbinical sympathy for Jesus

by Anton Stier

A growing number of rabbi’s is showing interest for the New Testament. Recently the Jerusalem Post published an article of an American rabbi who’s writing a book called ‘The Jewish identity of Jesus’.

Most famous Jew

The author states in his book: “Jesus Christ is the most well-known Jew ever, but he’s considered to be a Christian. It’s remarkable that the Jewish community accepts a falsification of history and considers Jesus to be an apostate. In this way the Jewish people accept a Christian view on one of their brothers while they don’t discover the man behind the Christian myth. Like a mummy, the bandages of 2000 years Christianity have to be taken away so that we’re able to discover the Jewish identity of Jesus.”

It truly is disappointing that the Jewish identity of the Lord Jesus has been covered up in Christian theology. I remember a meeting where a preacher was talking about the Jewish identity of Jesus when a listener interrupted him and asked: But sir, wasn’t only Judas a Jew? It’s really appalling how few Christians know about the Jewish background of the New Testament.

The Jewish identity of Jesus is only historical according to the author of the book. He states: “The proof that Jesus has been a dedicated follower of the Pharisees during most of his life is derived from the fact that most of his doctrines are but a reformulation of Biblical and Pharisaical doctrines.

Like for example Jesus’ most famous statement in the beatitudes: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” This is a reformulation of Psalm 37:11: “But the meek shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

Another example is being read in Matthew 5:39: “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” According to the author, this verse is a reformulation of Lamentations 3:30: “He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him; he is filled full with reproach.”

To this level Jesus is being called a ‘Jewish brother’. The Bible however does not only reveal the historical Jesus, but also reveals Him as the Messiah “Who died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, ….” (Rom. 8:34). May the Lord reveal this Biblical truth in rabbinical hearts!