Answering Jewish Gospel Critics 


Head of Christ, Flemish, 16th century


Younger Brother Say Not Three
Incomprehension Pure Words
Reversion to the Mean Mass Guilt
Changes Beautiful Words
The Evidence The Messiah
Christians United Conspiracy Theory
Must Not, Therefore Did Not
Jacob's Son On the Cross
Anachronism Wrong Day
Was Dead But Lives Appropriation
Saved by the Blood Rabbi Gamaliel
Hyam Maccoby


Younger Brother

Two major faiths survived the flaming wreckage of second temple Judaism: Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Objectively, Christianity is the elder of the two estranged siblings, arising in the first century A.D. Rabbinic Judaism, a creative improvisation striving to craft a functioning religion after the destruction of the temple and the expulsion of the people from the land, took shape several centuries thereafter. In the centuries subsequent to Bar Kochba's failed Messianic revolt in the early second century, the Rabbis invented a new religion, and codified their progress in the Talmud. See from Rabbi Boteach's own words how novel is Rabbinic Judaism: "Judaism resoundingly denies the idea that people need an intermediary between themselves and God." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 162). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) Really, no high priest? Well now, of course not, nor any temple, the Romans took care of that. By adopting the conceit that Moses transmitted an oral tradition in addition to his written revelation, Rabbinic Judaism supplies itself with the ancient heritage it otherwise lacks.

Care should be taken to avoid the anachronism of thinking Rabbinic Judaism is the ancient faith of Israel. Author Shmuley Boteach, who reinvents Jesus of Nazareth in his popular book 'The Kosher Jesus,' takes the ahistorical view that Judaism has never changed, and that thus whatever modern Jews may happen to think on any topic can safely be projected back into the first century. The reader who can share this belief is an adept of the sort who can easily believe ten impossible things before breakfast. The mismatch is glaring: Biblical religion is premised on the idea of blood atonement: ". . .for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." (Leviticus 17:11). But where is the blood now? The Rabbis have discovered there is no need. How convenient! Since, "to declare sacrifices of the essence of Judaism would have been to pronounce modern Judaism an impossibility." (Alfred Edersheim, The Temple, Its Ministry and Services, p. 74). Other readily available things will make do: "From this it may be inferred that when a sage lectures to the public it is accounted to him in Scripture as if sacrificing fat and blood upon the altar." (The Babylonian Talmud, edited by Michael L. Rodkinson, Volume 9, Tract Aboth, Chapter I, Kindle location 37040). Thus Judaism became a bloodless religion of legal scholarship. Rabbinic Judaism is an application of the principle, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

This tendency to back-date everything Jewish and post-date everything Christian leads to 'time travel.' The 'Kosher' Jesus (a prophet indeed!) studies the Talmud, not yet compiled, and quotes Rabbi Tarphon, not yet among the living:

"Jesus was equally familiar with Talmudic sayings. When Jesus instructs his listeners, “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye,” he alludes almost word for word to a Talmudic teaching of Rabbi Tarphon: “If someone urges you to remove the speck from your eye, he must be given the answer, ‘Take the plank out of your own.’” (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (pp. 23-24). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

Normally when an earlier figure quotes a later speaker "almost word for word," the earlier is not suspected of borrowing from the later, but the other way around. The Talmudic authors are very conscious of precedence, yet the Talmud admits its own process is subject to manipulation: "In truth this is not so. R. Jose never said this; but Rabba asserted this in the name of R. Jose so that R. Joseph should listen to him; for it was known that R. Jose was final authority and that the Halakhas prevailed according to his opinion." (The Babylonian Talmud, edited by Michael L. Rodkinson, Volume III, Section Moed, Tract Erubin, Chapter IV, Kindle location 11166). Yet surely where even the quoted authority is later, it cannot be back-dated! It would be a profitable study to find all the unacknowledged quotes of Jesus of Nazareth in the Talmud, because there are many such parallels. And where does that mysterious word 'Metatron' come from, as for instance, "It was Metatron [who said that], he replied, whose name is similar to that of his Master, for it is written, For my name is in him. But if so, [he retorted,] we should worship him!" (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhredin, 38b): "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with [meta] my Father in his throne [throno]." (Revelation 3:21).

The revisionist 'Jesus' presented in this book is a familiar figure to readers of old-line Socialists like Karl Kautsky: He is Jesus the Revolutionary, this time tricked out with side-curls:

"The stage has been set for us to see Jesus for who he truly was: a wise and learned rabbi who despised the Romans for their cruelty to his Israelite brethren, who fought the Romans courageously and was ultimately murdered for trying to throw off the Roman yoke of oppression." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus. Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

He has inherited all of the problems inherent in the original socialist 'Revolutionary Jesus:' the very extensively documented moral teachings do not line up with the new beret and Kalashnikov, so they must be discarded; it is far from obvious how a small strike force armed with two swords expects to take down an empire; scissors must be taken to passages like "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36), etc. How else to make room for 'Jesus of the Loud Battle Cry:' "An armed insurrection against Rome was his battle cry. . ." (Shmuley Boteach, The Kosher Jesus, p. 142). There is not much that is new in this book, and very little of interest. Rabbi Boteach breathlessly informs us that Jesus quoted the Old Testament,— can anyone have thought otherwise? Any reader equipped with a 'Chain Reference Bible' could, with the investment of a rainy afternoon's effort, come up with a much fuller assortment of citations than does our author, which makes you wonder why he did not equip himself with such a resource before undertaking the project. The only novel twist our author contributes is that now our 'Jesus the Revolutionary' utters the implied threat: accept me as I am or be outed as an anti-semite. Funny, some of the folks who used to pitch the 'Revolutionary Jesus' were Nazis: "My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter." (Adolf Hitler, speech of 12 April 1922, quoted p. 311, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins).

Rabbi Boteach relies upon the scholarship of Hyam Maccoby, who, however, does not consider Jesus to have been a fighting failed Messiah like the violent bar Kochba, but rather a failed Messiah of the "non-militarist enthusiast" school (Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, p. 37). Maccoby admits that Jesus never took up arms against the Romans: "The analogy between Theudas (or the proto-Theudas in the original source) and Jesus is closer than the analogy between Jesus and Judas of Galilee, for Jesus never engaged in organized military activity, but, like Theudas, relied on a miracle from God." (Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, p. 53.) Given that, as is admitted, Jesus never took up arms against Rome, it is far from obvious why the impetus for His execution would come from that quarter. To assume, as does Rabbi Boteach, that all Messianic aspirants fit within his Zionist freedom fighter model, suggests very limited awareness of actual Jewish Messianic aspirants down through history.

It might seem fine to say, with our author, that virtuous men should fight against oppression. But how does that mandate operate in an actual conflict situation, like the struggle between the Israeli overlords and the Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories? Both sides are convinced that they already are fighting oppression. The bias people inherit in favor of their own side makes the rubric, 'fight oppression,' into a mandate for endless war. Better to teach, as Jesus did, that God looks with favor on those willing to sacrifice their own legitimate interests; then it is at least theoretically possible that someday there might be peace.

Say Not Three

Shmuley Boteach effuses over his own great friendliness and good wishes toward Christians:

"Restoring Jesus to his authentic Jewish roots can allow a new era of Jewish-Christian rapprochement to begin. Jews and Christians may not meet in religious belief. Our theologies are different and sometimes contradictory. But for the first time in two millennia, we can forge a deep bond of togetherness using Jesus of Nazareth as a bridge, even as we understand him in completely different ways." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus. Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

Mohammed ibn Abdallah is an earlier practitioner of this same school of tolerance:



  • “O ye people of the Book! overstep not bounds in your religion; and of God, speak only truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, is only an apostle of God, and his Word which he conveyed into Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from himself. Believe therefore in God and his apostles, and say not, ‘Three:’ (there is a Trinity) — Forbear — it will be better for you. God is only one God! Far be it from His glory that He should have a son! His, whatever is in the Heavens, and whatever is in the Earth! And God is a sufficient Guardian.”
  • (Koran, Sura 4:169).




Mohammed ibn Adballah is actually far more liberal than Rabbi Boteach, because he allows the Christians to continue to call Jesus the Messiah, whereas Shmuley Boteach wants it understood Jesus is a failed Messiah, on a par with Simon bar Kochba. Thankfully, unlike bar Kochba, He did not massacre Christians! Both demand, as the price of their proffer of toleration, that Christians moderate their views, discarding such objectionable features of their faith as their conviction that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. Never mind that, if gutted in the way they prescribe, the Christian faith would not last a generation. . .or maybe that's the point. Both extol their own tolerance, but it is an 'if only. . .' type of tolerance: they would find it possible to tolerate Christianity, if only the Christians would abandon their current beliefs and replace them with other, more congenial, beliefs. Is it not apparent that an arrogant proffer of toleration which demands, as a condition of its acceptance, that the believers renounce their beliefs, is no toleration at all?

"[W]e can forge a deep bond of togetherness" how, according to Rabbi Boteach? By ceasing to acclaim Jesus as Messiah and by denying that He is God incarnate. But if we cease to do these things, the stones will cry out.

Incomprehension

"Unlike Christianity, Judaism does not associate blasphemy with a person claiming to be God. If a person made such a claim in a Jewish court, he or she would be told to go home and get a good night’s rest. Alternately, such a person might be sent to an asylum. But a punishment of death would never have been issued because absolutely no one would take the claim seriously." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 102). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

According to Rabbi Boteach, the Jewish population of Palestine would have responded with incomprehension to Jesus' claim to be God incarnate. We know this because contemporary Jews would respond in this way. Let's test this claim. Some years back a young man named Prem Rawat came to this country, an emissary of enlightenment. After the Beatles journeyed to an Indian ashram, return traffic was brisk, of enterprising gurus who saw virgin territory to be exploited. The counter-culture eagerly devoured Eastern 'wisdom.' Prem, the Maharaj Ji, had inherited the governance of his father's Divine Light Mission at the tender age of eight. His rise was meteoric. Alas, his decline was only slightly less so. He married an older woman, his secretary, which was not in the script. This led to conflict with his mother, who still held the reins of the parent organization. An overly ambitious effort to stage a jamboree in the Houston Astrodome left the enterprise saddled with debt. The Maharaj Ji got into the habit of showing up late for his appearances, and ultimately did not show up at all, though evidently he still dabbles in the enlightenment biz. In his glory days, he had claimed to be a god.

How odd that the counter-culture looked eagerly to gurus of this sort. The mainstream Protestantism which then dominated this country's culture had taught its young people to bow down to no man. But Indian gurus expected to be venerated by their acolytes. So bow down these deluded young people did; Rennie Davis, of Chicago Seven fame, acclaimed this young man as the Messiah. The anti-authoritarian counter-culture adored authoritarian gurus who demanded worship. Did the Jews hang back, ashamed to bow down before a pudgy and immature little god, fond of conspicuous consumption? Not at all:



  • “Maharaj Ji returned to India to tend to the members of the Mission there, but came back to the United States a year later and established a national headquarters in Denver. Within months, hundreds of American youths accepted the guru's invitation to receive Knowledge and flew with him to India in several chartered jumbo jets for a festival called Hans Jayanti. On their arrival, his followers were taken to the family's ashram, or religious commune, for several weeks.

  • “By this time, about a thousand members had moved into a dozen Divine Light communes in Denver, and soon there were several thousand members nationwide. Commune residents devoted their full time to the group, and took an active role in developing a national organization for the guru. The study I carried out then provided a profile of sect members, revealing that they were typically single (82%) whites (97%) in their twenties (73%). The distribution of Catholics (32%) and Protestants (44%) was not very different than the general population (38% and 57% respectively), but there was a greater proportion of Jews (21% vs. 2%).


  • “(Respondents' average age was 25. By eliminating "none" and "other" responses, the relative distribution of major religious denominations among the remaining sample prior to joining was obtained: 44% Protestant, 32% Catholic, and 21 % Jewish. Comparable figures for the nation overall (Yearbook of American Churches, 1972, U.S. Church membership) were 57%, 38%, and 2% respectively.)


  • “The members' middle class background was reflected by the large majority that had attended college (76%), as had one or both parents (71%). Typical group members were middle class young adults, many of whom had interrupted higher education to join the sect.”
  • (Cults: Faith, Healing and Coercion, by Marc Galanter, Page 204)



If in fact contemporary American Jews are ten times more likely than Protestants to entertain the god-claims of a pudgy young man of no obvious merit, then where is our author's claimed incomprehension?

"When Hans Maharaj died (1966), he was succeeded by his youngest son, Prem Pal Singh Rawat, who was initiated at the age of six and who, two years later, was recognized as the new 'Perfect Master,' an embodiment of God on earth and hence an object of worship and veneration, assuming the title of Maharaj Ji." (Odd Gods, edited by James R. Lewis, pp. 252-253).

When an Indian guru encounters a Western newspaper reporter, the reporter, having heard that the guru expects his acolytes to adore him as a god, challenges him to walk on water or turn water into wine. Unable to pass this exam, the gurus get cagey about their claims, as did this young man. Or he may have been genuinely ambivalent, as would any young person pushed onto his life's path prematurely. The Divine Light movement arose out of Sikhism, which is at least notionally monotheistic. In any event, he ultimately abandoned this god-claims:

"By the end of the 1970s, an estimated 80 percent of the followers had left the Mission. In the early 1980s Maharaj Ji ordered all of the ashrams disbanded, and declared that he was no longer to be venerated as God." (Odd Gods, edited by James R. Lewis, p. 253).

What do you do for a second act in life, when the first act was being God? Diligent scrutiny of the evidence, however, reveals that Jews are ten times less likely to consider this claim crazy as are Protestants, although Rabbi Boteach has told us otherwise:

"Claiming to be God involves no penalty whatsoever, as it would be seen as crazy rather than blasphemous."  (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 103). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

Rabbi Boteach persists in his phraseology, that no Jew could ever believe Jesus is God, when he must know many Messianic Jews; indeed, he even debates them. What is the status of such persons in his eyes? At what moment do they become non-persons, non-Jews? He says, ". . .worship of a man as deity, or belief in a messiah who did not fulfill the messianic prophecies, is anathema to us Jews, a fact that will never change." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 150). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) "[A]nathema" to which Jews? Peter, Paul? To 'Jews for Jesus'? It would appear these have become non-persons in the Stalinist sense. Rabbi Boteach insists Jews expect and have always expected a political Messiah; meanwhile in real life, he himself was acquainted with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a man who was not a politician, but who was hailed by many Jews as the Messiah. The only sense in which it is true to say that no Jew will ever accept Jesus as God incarnate and as Messiah is by appending the codicil, because the minute they do, they cease to be Jews.

Truth be told, the man who claims to be God, whether a Gentile like Father Divine or Wallace D. Fard, or a Jew like Sabbatai Sevi or Jacob Frank, had better be prepared to meet with a fair amount of incomprehension. Certainly Jesus did:



John Everett Millais, The Pharisee and the Publican


Pure Words

Any act of vandalism against God's holy word is an assault upon God, not against man. In proposing to rip out of the New Testament those passages he happens to dislike, Rabbi Boteach relegates to the dumpster God's own pure words:



  • “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”
  • (Psalm 12:6).


  • “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.”
  • (Psalm 119:140).


  • "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
  • (Proverbs 30:5-6).



Pure Words Sufficient
Blind Eyes The Logos
Unbroken Doctrine of the Trinity
To What Purpose? Tradition



What is here proposed is blasphemy, not one-upsmanship; it is God's own composition which is proposed for editorial correction.

What passages does he dislike? Any passage where the speaker, Jesus, departs from the 'Revolutionary Jesus' script: out it goes. Any passage in which any Jewish person is represented as behaving in any way that is less than morally exemplary, for example those passages in the Book of Acts which recount the persecution endured by the infant church at the hands of the Jewish authorities. Primarily, of course, those passages which indicate that the Jewish religious authorities were out to get Jesus: a point which the Talmud fully concedes:



This approach: no Jewish person can ever be reported as having done anything less than morally exemplary,— is not how we do history. It is in fact plain bigotry. Ascribing all moral excellence to one's own group, and all evil to others, is a distressingly common trait, nor is it an admirable one.

Reversion to the Mean

The technique of Rabbi Boteach's and other Jewish reconstructions of Jesus may be called 'reversion to the mean:' anything said of Jesus in the New Testament can be corrected upon a showing that the pattern of behavior recounted was atypical. For example, if Josephus describes several political Messiahs, and he does (though he does not use that word to characterize them), then Jesus may be presumed to have been a political Messiah, because these were plentiful, and as far as is known, the less-political type were less plentiful. But this is not the way to do history. As physicist Richard Feynman used to point out, most of what happens is unlikely:

"You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won't believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!" (Wiki-Quote ascribed to Richard Feynman).

The reader who picks up a newspaper and reads a story about a family with eight children, cannot 'correct' the story to read 2.5 children, because even though it is uncommon for a family to have eight children, it is by no means impossible. The result of 'correcting' every unlikely event to the common-place is a fantasy world, not the real world. So if it could be shown there were more political Messiahs than not-primarily-political ones, and that Josephus' disproportionate mention of the former is not simply in consequence of his political subject matter, it would still not follow that Jesus must have been a political Messiah. In fact, an objective list of Messianic aspirants, who attracted meaningful numbers of Jewish followers, includes more non-politicians, like Rabbi Schneerson and Sabbatai Sevi, than politicians, to say nothing of blood-stained hatchet-men like Simon bar Kochba. The cover graphic of Rabbi Boteach's book quite misleadingly shows an open, nail-scarred hand, palm forward, the universal sign of non-aggression. This may well be Jesus' hand, but not his Jesus' hand. He ought rather to have shown the hand clamped around a mace, club or dagger, the blood not his; that would be truth in advertising.

If God were to become man, as Christians propose, is there any reason to suppose that the man He became would be typical of His time and place? is it not rather self-evident that He cannot have been typical? One cannot do history by striking from the record any and all documented events and circumstances that are uncommon or unusual. For a Messianic aspirant not to lead an army is in any case not uncommon or unusual.

Up

Mass Guilt

The people of Rwanda were fed up with a long-simmering guerrilla insurgency that kept devouring lives, to no purpose and with no end in sight. Inasmuch as most of those attracted to this insurgency were Tutsis, they proposed to end the problem by exterminating the Tutsis. What is wrong with this logic? It is unsupported by justice and reason. While most of those involved in the insurgency were Tutsis, not all Tutsis supported the insurgency. Certainly those individuals who have taken up arms against their government are justly met with force, but law-abiding people who do not harm their neighbors ought to be left alone.

Rabbi Boteach ascribes mass guilt to Christianity as a whole, on the basis of misbehavior by some, not all, members of the group. Peter the Hermit committed atrocities; therefore Christianity must be defused and disabled by hacking away at its holy book. Is this logic morally acceptable? No. We do not ascribe mass guilt to an entire population because of the misdeeds of a few. It is simply wrong to fail to make any moral distinction between a young American service-man who gave his life in the struggle to defeat Hitler, and Adolf Hitler. Though both are Gentiles, there is no moral equivalency between them. We do not punish the guilty along with the innocent.



  • “Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.”
  • (Deuteronomy 25:13).




Sigmund Freud was a notorious quack whose 'therapy' cured no one, though it sucked up immense sums of money. The insurance companies, finally catching on to the scam, will no longer pay for Freudian 'therapy,' so the game is over. Some people, though, just don't ever give up: "This seems, if anything, a case of Freudian wish-fulfillment." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 124). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition). Should anyone say, 'The Jews must apologize! This assault against human dignity went on far too long,' who would not reply, 'What nonsense! 'The Jews' did none of this, rather those Jews and Gentiles who supported this imposture and siphoned funds from gullible people ought to apologize. Those Jews and Gentiles who had nothing whatever to do with it have nothing for which to apologize.' I don't say, 'and disgorge the obscene profits amassed through this grotesque fraud,' because the statute of limitations has probably run. This is the proper moral calculus, not mass guilt with its indiscriminate assignment of blame for crimes committed by parties not under the control of those to whom guilt has been thus arbitrarily assigned.

Jews were present disproportionately in the Bolshevik leadership. It does not however follow that Bolshevism was a Jewish plot to destroy Mother Russia. To Richard Nixon, an anti-semite, it was self-evident the Jews must answer for Abbie Hoffman, a sleaze-ball who evangelized for petty thievery:

"NIXON: Like the Chicago Seven, Aren't the Chicago Seven all Jews? Rennie Davis is a Jew, you know.
"HALDEMAN: No, not Davis.
"NIXON: Abbie Hoffman! He's a Jew!
"HALDEMAN: Yes, Hoffman, definitely a Jew.
"NIXON: Then at least half of the Chicago Seven are Jews." (Tales of Hoffman, by Al Giordano, 1989 Valley Advocate (a remembrance of Hoffman after his suicide)).

But what consequences follow from this fact? If one sleaze-ball is Jewish, how can this one bad apple contaminate those Jews who are not sleaze-balls? We don't evaluate people wholesale, by the gross. Individuals must answer for their own actions, what they advocate, and what they condone; they cannot be made to answer for what Leon Trotsky did. . .or, for that matter, what Peter the Hermit did, on his own authority and without any Biblical sanction. Rabbi Boteach leaves the impression that American Christians are responsible for the Holocaust, a grotesque and wildly unfair accusation. Evidently in his mind, mass guilt is a unexceptionable category. . .at least when Christians are on the receiving end. One suspects even he would see the injustice in it, if aberrant and anti-social Jewish behavior were under discussion. Indeed: "How could we believe God would condemn every last innocent individual that has done nothing wrong to anyone, just because he or she was a Buddhist or a Jew?" (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (pp. 165-166). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) Only, not if the innocent party is a Christian, because, of course, there are no innocent Christians. We seem to have a tendency to catch guilt from one another like a contagion, at least in this man's hate-riddled mind. Think I am exaggerating, dear reader? Then you must not know that the neo-pagan Nazis acted in Jesus' name. I read it here: "It is unjust to hold Jesus accountable for the millennia of anti-Semitism perpetrated in his name. . .And what he certainly did not do was put the Zyklon-B gas into the crematoria of Auschwitz." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus. Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) Evidently we Gentiles look so much alike, it is difficult to tell one from another.


On the One Hand Fear-Mongering
Equal Justice Undergound Railroad
Equal Protection Who is my Neighbor?
Salvation Plan The Virgin Mary
Jesus in the Talmud Contamination
The Crux of the Matter Eighteen
Daniel's Vision Philo Judaeus
Country of Origin Et Tu



The hanging judges of pagan Rome solemnly proclaimed themselves innocent of the blood of the condemned, lest any avenging fury fail to realize that justice had constrained their hands:

"Consider even the judicatures of this world, by whose power we see murderers, adulterers, wizards, robbers of sepulchers, and thieves brought to trial; and those that preside, when they have received their accusations from those that brought them, ask the malefactor whether those things be so. And though he does not deny the crimes, they do not presently send him out to punishment; but for several days they make inquiry about him with a full council, and with the veil interposed. And he that is to pass the final decree and suffrage of death against him, lifts up his hands to the sun, and solemnly affirms that he is innocent of the blood of the man. Though they be heathens, and know not the Deity, nor the vengeance which will fall upon men from God on account of those that are justly condemned, they avoid such unjust judgments." (Apostolic Constitutions, Book 2, Section 6, Chapter LII, pp. 831-832 ECF).

When Jesus was crucified, Pontius Pilate went beyond this stereotyped and formal protestation of innocence, actually identifying Jesus as a "just" man: "When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it." (Matthew 27:24). Thereupon voices from the mob rang out, "Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children." (Matthew 27:25). But this, too, was a formal and stereotyped form of expression, not a novelty invented upon this occasion. This was the form of adjuration expected of witnesses,

"Then answered all the people,.... They were as unanimous in their imprecations upon themselves, as in desiring the crucifixion of Christ:

"and said, his blood be on us, and on our children; not for the cleansing of them from sin, which virtue that blood has, but if there were any stain, blot, or pollution, through the shedding of it, they wished it might be on them and theirs: not for the forgiveness of sins, which that blood was shed for; but on the contrary, if there was any sin and guilt in it, they desired it might be imputed to them: nor for their justification before God, and security from wrath to come, both which are by his blood; but all the reverse of this, that if there were any punishment, and condemnation, and death, due for the shedding of it, they imprecated it all upon themselves, and their posterity: so this phrase is used in Joshua 2:19, and in other places, and in the Talmud (s): and it is a notion of the Jews, that the guilt of innocent blood, and the blood of that innocent man's children, lie not only upon the persons immediately concerned, but upon their children to the end of the world: and so the judges used to address the witnesses upon a trial, after this manner (t);

"know ye, that capital causes, are not as pecuniary ones: in pecuniary causes, a man gives his money, and it atones for him; but in capital causes, דמו ודם זרעו תלויין בו, "his blood, and the blood of his seed, hang upon him", to the end of the whole world: for lo! of Cain it is said, "the voice of the blood of thy brother cryeth", &c. his blood, and the blood of his seed.''
"(s) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 110. 1. Yoma, fol. 2l. 1. & Avoda Zara, fol. 12. 2. (t) Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 12. sect. 3." (John Gill Commentary on Matthew 27:25).

See,

"MISHNAH. How were the witnesses inspired with awe? Witnesses in capital charges were brought in and intimidated [thus]:. . .Know then that capital cases are not like monetary cases. In civil suits, one can make monetary restitution and thereby effect his atonement; but in capital cases he is held responsible for his blood [sc. the accused's] and the blood of his [potential] descendants until the end of time. . ." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, 37a).

It's not what the Lord wanted: "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34). Nor is it what God has ordained: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." (Ezekiel 18:20). When we take oaths, we say, 'so help me God;' is 'help' a pious substitute for phraseology closer to the actual intent of an oath, to call down judgment?: "Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." (Ruth 1:17). Whatever is accomplished by oaths and adjurations, they are not categorical imperatives compelling any and all by-standers to 'make it so.'

When historical actors are reported as saying what those in their position might well be expected to say, it is less than obvious why right-thinking people must exercise all their will-power to deny, deny, deny. Moreover it remains perplexing why, to moralists like Rabbi Boteach, the concept of mass guilt is horrific if applied to persons of Jewish heritage, but just fine and dandy when applied to persons of Gentile background. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If Jews today are not responsible for the persecutions of the church recorded in the book of Acts and in early Christian writers like Justin Martyr, then neither are unoffending Christians responsible for Peter the Hermit. People must be held to account for their own thoughts, words, and deeds, not for those of persons unknown to them over whom they exercise neither control nor influence.

Changes

Our author identifies with the Pharisees, but would they identify with him? In what ways has Judaism changed from the early Christian centuries to the present day? One change, and not for the good, is racialism. In Jesus' day, Judaism was an actively proselytizing religion: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." (Matthew 23:15). By the time of the compilation of the Talmud, some (not all) of the Rabbis were not sure proselytizing was even a good idea, nor did they consider Gentile converts to Judaism as first-class citizens. Rabbi Boteach concurs: "Moreover, we Jews do not proselytize." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus. Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) This however is an innovation. Throughout the Old Testament period, membership the people of God was not first and foremost through ethnic heritage, but upon belief:




Just as entry into the people of God was accomplished by belief, so exit was achieved through renunciation of that belief. The Pharisees would not have said, as modern Jews say, that Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, both atheists, are Jews. Those who disregarded the first commandment were cut off from the congregation. What has changed? The definition of the community has taken a racialist turn.

Another point the Pharisees would not have comprehended is that nowadays large numbers of Jews self-identify as such, and even go so far against the grain as to make converts, not based on any attempt or even aspiration of abiding by the Torah, but simply upon espousal of a vague ethical monotheism. In the first century, Paul's missionary enterprise became controversial because he admitted men into the congregation of Israel without requiring circumcision. 'Reform' Jews do this all the time. There is no objective basis for the conclusion that Paul's converts were illegitimate, whereas theirs are just fine.

Another difference: in the early Christian centuries, heresy-hunters like Irenaeus and Tertullian sounded the alarm over the presence of gnostics in the congregations. The gnostics were a self-consciously elitist outfit: they did not want to take over the entire church, they wanted only a presence, a platform from which to search out a few sympathetic souls. But how can a gnostic, who despises the creator God, be permitted to sit there and chortle while the congregation sings hymns extolling the creator God? So the heresy hunters unmasked them, publicized their beliefs, and expelled them from the congregations.

The first wave of gnostics were not a comparable problem in the Jewish congregations as in the Christian, yet after gnosticism was revived in the middle ages and represented to the synagogue as 'ancient wisdom,' the gnostics were welcomed as honored guests. I suppose someone thinks the Pharisees, who worshipped the creator God of the Bible, would be delighted to discover that creation was the inadvertent result of a cosmic catastrophe, the shattering of the vessels:




It is more likely, I think, that the Pharisee would be genuinely alarmed to discover the neighbor seated beside him in the synagogue is a pagan. Our author seems to dislike paganism: "The Jewish faith has stood for millennia as both a monument to monotheism and antidote to paganism." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 154). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.). But he quotes the Zohar. He is a man who cannot make up his mind.

He is indignant at the idea that God is divided into three parts, which, as per usual, is not what Christians believe: "Based as it is on a proud tradition of rationalism, Jewish theology cannot embrace the mysterious division of God into three parts." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 161). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) Moreover, "For Jews. . .it is unthinkable to conceive of a God split into multiple beings." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 162). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.). . .as if Christians believe in a God "split into multiple beings."  Presumably like other Kabbalists he does believe in the division of God into ten sefirot. One of these wears a name tag 'one,' and so thus, and not otherwise, they believe God is one: "Kabbalists refer to God’s essence as indivisible, with no separation between elements of God." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 161). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) "God's essence is indivisible. . ." 'Ein sof' then begins to emanate, yup, emanate (Kabbalah is a gnostic revival), till you end up with ten of 'em; one down, nine to go.

Unrequited or not, our author loves the Pharisees, but he hates the Sadducees. He says unbearably harsh and hateful things about them. This entire sizeable group of people, he alleges, were Roman stooges, each and every one of them on the Roman payroll. Is he an anti-semite? Our author even makes Paul a Sadduccee rather than a Pharisee, for no discernible reason other than to indulge his hatred of a group of people who passed out of existence a long time ago. Moreover, Rabbi Boteach insists Jesus must share his precise hatreds; thus he has come to tell us of "a Jesus who hated the Romans rather than the Jews. Jesus despises the Romans for their cruelty to his people." (Shmuley Boteach, The Kosher Jesus, p. 135). Funny, that doesn't sound like any Jesus we know.

As with most things, our author has borrowed his detestation of the Sadduccees from author Hyam Maccoby, who has in turn borrowed it from the Talmud, which inserts the defunct Sadduccees into its bulging category of the hated 'other,' along with Samaritans, Gentiles of all stripes, heathen idolaters, the 'Minim' or heretics including Christians, etc., etc. One expects to find this approach: demonizing one group of people, assigning all manner of evil motives to them, while exalting another group of people, lifting them up above any possible criticism, in demagogic political pamphlets. It has not hitherto been known to characterize the objective study of history. Evidently this ancient hatred burns so strongly that even the long-ago extinction of its object cannot extinguish it.

Beautiful Words

Rabbi Boteach deeply respects Christians moved by the "beautiful ethical teachings of Jesus:"

"Once we strip his life story of its patina of paganism and the supernatural, Jews will see they need no longer reject the beautiful ethical teachings of Jesus, which find their source in Hebrew scripture and the teachings of the rabbis among whom he counted himself. These can easily be traced back to their original Jewish sources." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus. Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

Unfortunately it turns out those "beautiful ethical teachings" will have to go, because they are immoral. Who knew?

"But Jesus does not tell us to love God’s enemies. It is one thing to love an irritating colleague, a very different thing to love the murderous Ahmadinejad or Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the abominable head of Hezbollah. For Jesus to argue in favor of loving such a man, or any enemy of his people, would be immoral. He neither says nor means anything of the sort." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (pp. 140-141). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

The trouble is, and has ever been for 'Jesus the Revolutionary,' that Jesus' moral doctrine, which is extensively documented, simply doesn't work for this theory, so out it goes:




The Evidence

"But even if this trial did take place – based on the evidence and historical record, it probably did not – Jesus’ statement contains absolutely nothing blasphemous." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 102). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

Based on the evidence, the so-called 'Jewish trial' certainly did take place, inasmuch as not only all four gospels, but also the Talmud, the Book of Acts and also the apocryphal works so beloved by the 'Jesus' publishing industry so report. But this historical fact doesn't fit into Rabbi Boteach's world-view. To him, it is unthinkable for any Jewish leadership to target a "trouble-maker," because "Uniformity has never been a goal of Jewish thinkers." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 195). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)  Never mind the evidence to the contrary:


Capital Jurisdiction
Night Court
Power to the People
Blasphemy
Ways and Means
Gospel of Peter
Book of Acts
Celsus
Moses Maimonides
The Black Death



But Rabbi Boteach has come to set us free from any need to conform our picture of Jesus to the evidence:

"But the elements of Jesus' life and doctrine the Jews find objectionable would have given pause to Jesus himself, throwing their authenticity into question." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus. Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

If the available evidence doesn't 'work' for the Kosher Jesus, just toss it, inasmuch as its "authenticity" has been thrown into question. This is not the proper procedure. We are not at liberty to toss out evidence merely because it doesn't fit our preconceptions. The 'Kosher Jesus' is an evidence-free project, more like finger-painting than photo-realism.

Incredibly, Rabbi Boteach, who will not allow that a night trial can have occurred because that would involve breach of a legal technicality, blithely announces that the Jewish authorities would have happily allowed a lynch-mob process:

"Imagine that Caiaphas and Pilate had standing agreements and orders concerning Passover, whereby any subversive action involving the Temple and its crowds would beget instant punishment with immediate crucifixion as public warning and deterrent. There would be no need to go very high up the chain of command for a peasant nuisance nobody like Jesus, no need for even a formal interrogation before Caiaphas, let alone a detailed trial before Pilate. In the case of Jesus, there may well have been Arrest and Execution but no trial whatsoever in between." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 93). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

What an outrage! Is he an anti-semite or something? The law of Moses requires due process, a "diligent inquiry," as much for a "peasant nobody" as for anyone so high and mighty as Rabbi Boteach. Moses' law forbids respect of persons, a legal principle Rabbi Boteach needs to brush up on:

"One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; and the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you." (Deuteronomy 19:14-19).

According to Rabbi Boteach, it is unthinkable the high priest would have allowed a night trial, but very likely indeed he allowed an innocent man to be handed over without any trial at all, without a hearing, without witnesses, without evidence, which violates not only the man-made regulations of the Talmud, but everything the Bible itself says on this score. One gets the distinct impression this man will say anything at all, provided only he thinks it will harm Christianity.

The Messiah

David speaks with contentment of his inheritance:

"The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." (Psalm 16:5-6).

What is the Messiah's inheritance? Israel, but not Israel only, all nations:

"I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." (Psalm 2:7-8).

In short, all who fear the name of the LORD, Jew or Gentile:

"For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations." (Psalm 61:5-6).

Though the Bible leaves no room for equivocation, there is always the impulse to found a new religion: "On the one hand, the Messiah, in the pre-Pauline Jesus movement, was the King of the Jews and therefore not directly relevant to Gentiles." (The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, by Hyam Maccoby, p. 136). The Bible begs to differ: "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14). They are His inheritance, who can snatch them from His hand?

Many of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah describe how the Gentiles will come flocking to His standard: "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious." (Isaiah 11:10). And so they did. The prophesies were realized, right before the astonished eyes of the apostles, as the greater David did reign over the Gentiles, who magnified the God of Israel, their song of praise rising with His: "Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name." (Psalm 18:49); "Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!" (Psalm 117:1); “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.” (Deuteronomy 32:43).

The Gentiles too are the "inheritance" of the Messiah. They can be taken away from Him, how exactly? As to Israel, there is already a name listed as owner on the deed: Israel are the people of God, the Messiah's inheritance. Israel are the people of the Messiah, and the Messiah is the King of Israel. Certainly our King is no slave-driver, the exit door is always open, the route of apostasy remains free, and is attractive to some:

"For thousands of years, just as they rejected his divinity, Jews have rejected the messiahship of Jesus as well. This too will never change, given that he died without fulfilling the messianic prophecies." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus. Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

Is Rabbi Boteach's claim,— that Jesus was a failure, just another Messianic aspirant who fell short, like Simon bar Kochba only less successful,— accurate?


Born at Bethlehem Pierced
O God His Bones
Cast Lots Born of a Virgin
Mother's Children Lifted Up
Stretched Out My Hands On a Donkey
Weeks The Grave
Thirty Pieces of Silver Light to the Gentiles
Out of Egypt House of David
House of My Friends With the Transgressors
Eyes of the Blind With the Rich
I thirst Darkness over the Land
Gall and Vinegar Shame and Spitting
Familiar Friend Son of Man
Den of Thieves Afar Off
E'er the Sun


According to Rabbi Boteach, "The matter is settled by God’s own pronouncement. No person inherits or is punished for someone else’s sin." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 165). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) According to God, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6).



Let's try translating some of Rabbi Boteach's accusations on this score into ordinary language:

"Replacement theology, the deeply anti-Semitic belief that God discarded the Jews when they rejected Jesus and replaced them instead with Christians, has prevailed throughout Christendom for generations." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus. Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition. )

Paraphrased, this comes out, 'the King of Israel replaced those who refused to follow Him with Messiah-followers ('Christ' is the Greek translation of 'Messiah'), both Jew and Gentile, who were willing to follow where He led.' When the Messiah came, right on schedule, the Gentiles came streaming in to His organization. Unconquered, they freely offered their voluntary submission to His rule. This was prophesied; what is the argument for shooing them out the door? Stripped bare of its pretended indignation, this argument boils down to racialism.

This author might better expend his indignation against his own co-religionists, only 40 per cent of whom agree that the modern state of Israel was founded by God: "For example, twice as many white evangelical Protestants as Jews say that Israel was given to the Jewish people by God (82% vs. 40%)." (Pew Research Center, More White Evangelicals than American Jews say God gave Israel to the Jewish People, Michael Lipka, October 3, 2013). Some of the 'replacement' going on here is replacement with nothing, because only 72% of survey Jews say they believe in God. One must wonder why it is not allowed for any evangelical to agree with the majority of Jews.

Those who say, 'Christians replace Jews,' commit a category error, because most of the early Christians were Jews. It is like saying, 'I am not Asian, I am an American:' but there are many Asian-Americans. When my late father came out of retirement to serve as a census-taker, they sent him to the Puerto-Rican neighborhood of Red Bank, New Jersey, where his innocently asking the scripted question, 'Are you Hispanic?' invariably provoked the angry rejoinder, 'No! I'm an American!' But one can be a Hispanic-American. These are over-lapping categories, which the thesis wrongly presumes as mutually exclusive. Nor would it be helpful to say, 'Gentiles replace Jews;' there never has been a 'Gentile salvation plan,' according to which Gentiles as such, heathen idolaters included, receive salvation merely by virtue of their ethnicity. Talking about God "discard[ing] the Jews. . .and replac[ing] them with Christians" is Jabberwocky, it is an incoherent use of language. It makes more sense to ask, with Lenny Bruce, 'So if Jesus is Jewish, how come He has a Puerto-Rican name?' Let's say, rather, 'God's people are those who follow His leading. . .' a truism which has always been apt.

Through all of Israel's travails, there is none but a remnant saved. This was as true in the first century as in the days of Elijah: "But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal." (Romans 11:4). The readers learns with excitement, reading the Book of Acts, of the tens of thousands of Jewish Christians following the gospel banner. . .except when remembering the population of Judaea and Galilee numbered in the millions. There was never a time when Christians made up the majority of the Jewish population. These believing Jews were natural branches of the olive tree. Other branches were broken off, owing to unbelief: "Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee." (Romans 11:20-21). The Gentile believers in Paul's churches were then engrafted. It is not the church which is engrafted, not 'Christianity:' how can the tens of thousands of Jewish believers who formed the core of the congregation be engrafted onto their own tree? Should they be broken off, and then grafted back in the same place? But they were not unbelievers, and it is was owing to unbelief that the disloyal branches were removed from their place. Rather, the tree grows from the root, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5).

It is not uncommon for leaders to lead those who are willing to follow them, inasmuch as the alternative is coercion. There is an act of 'copyright infringement' going on here, where those Jews who rejected the Messiah claim exclusive possession of the valued names ('Jew,' 'Israel'), having wrested them violently away from those among their brethren who follow Him. This act of expropriation has no Biblical warrant. If you define 'Jew' as 'Someone who refuses to follow the Messiah,' you have defined it wrong. Yet rejecting Jesus is definitional for modern Judaism. Notice how Rabbi Boteach defines "his [Jesus'] own people" precisely as those who reject Him, not those who believe in Him:

"For example, at the end of Mark, when Jesus comes back after the crucifixion, he tells the apostles, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”. . .it’s impossible to imagine Jesus consigning his own people to damnation in this way – throwing into question whether this statement originated with him at all." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (pp. 193-194). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

In promising to save those who follow Him, Jesus is "consigning his own people to damnation"! It may be that no more than a remnant remain loyal, as in Elijah's day. When marching ranks are depleted through desertion, the formation tightens up. And if anyone thinks it should have been possible for the congregation to keep out the unwanted Gentiles, this really cannot be done, as it would deprive the Messiah of the greater part of His inheritance:

"Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things." (Acts 15:15-17).

The nations are specifically handed over to the Messiah: "Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him." (Psalm 72:11). Paul observed the Gentiles lining up to make obeisance to the Messiah, and realized these prophecies were in process of fulfillment:


“‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Isaiah 49:6.)

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Micah 4:1-3.)

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:2-4).

“All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” (Psalm 86:9).

“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’S, and He rules over the nations.” (Psalm 22:27-28).

“‘On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’ says the LORD who does this thing.” (Amos 9:11-12).

“I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” (Psalm 2:7-8).

“The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:3).

“For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, the daughter of My dispersed ones, shall bring My offering.” (Zephaniah 3:9-10).

“‘Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,’ says the LORD. ‘Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst.’ Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.’” (Zechariah 2:10-11).

“O LORD, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, ‘Surely our fathers have inherited lies, Worthlessness and unprofitable things.’” (Jeremiah 16:19).

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Peoples shall yet come, inhabitants of many cities; The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, “Let us continue to go and pray before the LORD, and seek the LORD of hosts. I myself will go also.” Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.’ “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’” (Zechariah 8:20-23).

“‘For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11).




Short of giving unbelievers veto power over the Messiah's mission, Rabbi Boteach's arrogant demands cannot be met. Men cannot nullify God's will. Certainly it's a free country, and anyone is free to regard Jesus of Nazareth as a fraud and imposter; what is astonishing about this project is Rabbi Boteach's expectation that Christians will happily join hands with him in redefining Jesus as a failed Messiah, because He brought into His camp no more than a remnant of Israel. That's the deal:

"There is a Boraitha: R. Simai said: It reads [Ex. vi. 7]: 'I will take you to me as a people,' and (ibid. 8): 'I will bring you in unto the land.' The Scripture compares their exodus from Egypt to the coming in their land. As in entering the land only two from six hundred thousand who made their exodus from Egypt, viz., Joshua and Kaleb, had entered, but all others from the age of twenty to sixty died in the desert, so also from those who made their exodus from Egypt were only two from every six hundred thousand, notwithstanding that they numbered six hundred thousand.
"Said Rabha: And so it will be in the time of the Messiah, as it reads [Hosea, ii. 17]: 'She shall be inflicted there, as in the days of her youth and as on the day of her coming up out of the land of Egypt." (The Babylonian Talmud, edited by Michael L. Rodkinson, Volume XVI, Tract Sandhedrin, Chapter XI, Kindle location 66243).

Insight into diagnosing the conundrum of 'replacement theology' may come from examining the answers contemporary Jews offer to pollsters:

"Among many findings, Pew Research asked American Jewish adults, 'What is compatible with being Jewish?' They found that the majority believe a person can be Jewish even if he or she works on the Sabbath (94%), is strongly critical of Israel (89%), or does not believe in God (68%). In stark contrast: 'Believing in Jesus, however, is enough to place one beyond the pale,' notes Pew. Only 34 percent say that believing Jesus was the Messiah is compatible with being Jewish." (Article, Christianity Today, 'Humor and Jesus: What Massive Survey of U.S. Jews Reveals about U.S. Christians: Questions on Jesus and Jewish affinity produce surprising results, Pew Research finds', by Jeremy Weber, 10/3/13).

It would appear that modern Judaism is more of a 'Holocaust Remembrance Society' than a congregation devoted to worshipping God and following His will; atheists are welcome, followers of the Messiah are not. Paradoxically, it is not only Christians whose definition of the people of God turns out to be confessional at heart rather than ethnic, but Jews as well, — in reverse! Self-evidently, if failure to follow the Messiah is definitional for 'being a Jew,' as it is for the majority of contemporary American Jews, then no follower of the Messiah is a Jew; there is a perfect disjunction between these two communities. But reading he New Testament from this perspective yields only incoherence; obviously Christians, whatever their ethnicity, cannot accept a definition intended solely to read them out of the life to come.

Christians United

Modern evangelical Christianity is strongly pro-semitic. Nevertheless Rabbi Boteach nervously fears for his personal safety, unless large chunks of the gospels are excised and discarded. Though his Christian neighbors have done him no harm, still he cringes in fear, insisting these people remain a menace to him, unless their holy book is taken from them and tossed in the dumpster.

Rabbi Boteach admits that the impetus for his proposal to take a hack saw to the gospels comes from his admiration for those Christians who wave banners expressing their desire to stand with Israel. In this popular tendency he sees a new day dawning when Christians will willingly discard a sizeable part of the New Testament, the passion narratives. Realizing that 'slippery slope' arguments are not generally sound arguments, I would nonetheless hope those involved with these efforts would take a step back and prayerfully consider whether their own rhetoric hasn't landed them at this dead end where soul-sick and lost humankind meet, not the Lord mighty to save, but the 'kosher' Jesus:



Conspiracy Theory

Rabbi Boteach's reconstruction of Christian history falls under the heading of a 'conspiracy theory,' inasmuch as it negates almost all of the available evidence of history. This bold stroke is justified by the ominous suggestion that the evidence has been doctored by malefactors with dark motives. Under Rabbi Boteach's reconstruction, Jesus was a Pharisee who vied with other Rabbis of that sect in his encouragement of punctilious observation of the unwritten Pharisaic traditions. However some more attention to detail will be required to get this conspiracy theory off the ground. The motive for the conspiracy is purported public disgust and disenchantment with the Jews after the unsuccessful Jewish revolt of 66 A.D. - 73 A.D. The hated principal of the conspiracy, the evil Paul, however, never lived to see the Jewish revolt, nor did the apostle Peter whom he accuses of being a liar. Even die-hard conspiracy buffs must admit there is some awkwardness in having the principals of the conspiracy dead before the motive for the conspiracy appears.

If you want to devise a conspiracy theory you can sell to people, first you must sit down with a pad of paper, draw a line on it marked 'time-line,' then you must fit the events and characters onto that line so that the sequence 'cause-effect' is not running in reverse. There is no other way.

Must Not Therefore Did Not

The entire modern enterprise of 'secular' Bible study is founded upon the premise that Jesus cannot have claimed to be God. And why not? Because that's blasphemy:

"We have no reason to believe Jesus ever thought of himself as a deity. As a Jew, he surely would have regarded any such interpretation as blasphemous." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 48). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

The Unitarians, who share Rabbi Boteach's predilections in this matter, inaugurated this 'secular' field. This is an 'ought,' not an 'is:' people do claim to be God all the time, landing often in hospital emergency rooms. But Jesus 'must not' say this, and therefore He 'did not.' That Jesus did claim to be God is one of the best attested facts of history; there is more than ample proof of this fact in the New Testament, and there is no reason on earth to disbelieve it. There is much more actual evidence that Jesus claimed to be God, including the Talmud's report of why He was killed, than there is evidence that Rabbi Tarphon ever existed. And yet a purportedly objective, secular, 'scholarly' enterprise, rejects this very well documented fact out of hand. Why? Because, 'That's blasphemy!'

This way of doing history falls under the heading of Wish Fulfillment. The real Jesus did claim to be God, like it or not. Rabbi Boteach can fulminate all he wants:

"Jews, including Jesus, have always found the deification of human beings to be utterly anathema to Judaism. The belief that God can be human is the ultimate heresy. The chasm separating God and man is infinite and unbridgeable. . .The Bible is unequivocal. God cannot be human." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (pp. 154-155). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

. . .the facts remain:


Jesus Christ is God!

Jesus Christ is God!

The Son is God.


Your Throne, O God The Work of Your Hands Let Angels Worship
True God Express Image Visible and Invisible
For Himself Son of God Kiss the Son
A Son is born Honor the Son Only-begotten God
Pantocrator Believe on the Son Only Savior
The Dead were Judged Everlasting to Everlasting

Jesus is Jehovah.


A Voice Crying Temple Visitor Stone of Stumbling
The Rock of Israel The First and the Last Lord of all
The LORD our Righteousness Holy, holy, holy Captivity Captive
House of David Answered prayers With all His saints
Israel's Savior Giver of Life Every Knee Shall Bow
Pastoral Supply I send you prophets Who forgives sin
I am He He is Lord Call upon the Name
Doxology God with Us Lawgiver
Great Shepherd You Only Lawful worship
Builder I AM THAT I AM Moses' Veil
Wine Press Lord Willing Secret Things
Boasting Excluded King of Israel Fount of Living Waters
Searches the Heart Till Death Do us Part Angel of the LORD
Take Refuge Has Reigned On His Forehead
Me Whom they have Pierced Stretched Out My Hands

Jesus Christ is God.


The Eyes of the Blind Thought it not Robbery Eternally Blessed God
Fulness of the Godhead Great God and Savior Faith in Him
Redeemed King of Kings Spirit of Christ
Destroyed by Serpents Lord of Glory Renewed in the Image
New Jerusalem's Lamp Now is Christ risen Upholding all Things
Light to the Gentiles My Companion Miracles
Prosecutors' Indictment Sun of Righteousness Thirty Pieces
Testator's Death Author of Life The Blood of God
My Lord and My God One Mystery of godliness
God was in Christ The Word was God Shared Glory
Omniscience Omnipotence Omnipresence
Change Not Yesterday, Today and Forever Whose Hand?
Not of Man Receive my Spirit Believe in God
Only Holy Sole Proprietor Priests
Walk on the Water


This form of argumentation infects the entire project. First we ascertain what is good, and thus we determine what Jesus must have done, because He must have done what is good, regardless of what the historical record says He actually did. For instance:

"But how could a man such as Jesus remain so aloof? He was by all accounts a holy and wholesome man, focused on the real practice and enactment of justice. It is therefore impossible to picture Jesus without imagining his political nature. An examination of the evidence suggests that after Jesus’ death, editors removed his political diatribes against Rome from his life story." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 49). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

See how this works: history does not give us a Jesus who was a 'freedom fighter' against the Romans. But Rabbi Boteach thinks He darn well should have fought the Romans. Therefore, He did. How does this strange way of doing history come about? Because Jesus is the desire of nations: "And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts." (Haggai 2:7). Rabbi Boteach is not alone: the entire 'Jesus' publishing industry works this way.

And what is wrong with doing it the 'Wish Fulfillment' way? Everyone can have the 'Jesus' he likes: the aging hippies of the Jesus Seminar get their hippie Jesus, the socialists can have a revolutionary Jesus, the romantics can have theirs happily married to Mary Magdalene, the Zionists can shade their model into another bar Kochba, and the 'swoon' theorists can have Him moving to India. Everyone is happy so what is the problem? History knows only one Jesus of Nazareth, so this diverse crowd cannot all be Him.

Jacob's Son

"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:. . ." (1 Corinthians 11:23).

One of Jacob's twelve sons was named 'Judah,' which brings us to the strange pass that those named after him,— and the reader of Josephus becomes aware that this was a very common name during the first century A.D.,— do not exist. Which is a shame, because the Lord also had a brother named Jude:

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him." (Mark 6:3).

If you don't believe that modern Bible scholarship has progressed to the point where it can ascertain whether somebody existed or not merely upon hearing the name, see:

"With each detail it seems ever more clear that, between his textual forebears and his transparently concocted name, Judas is none other than a literary creation." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 78). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

Where this procedure comes from I wouldn't venture to guess, though may I humbly suggest as antecedent the old blues song with the lyric, "I'm crazy about that woman because Caledonia is her name."



On the Cross

According to Rabbi Boteach, death on the cross was "reserved for political rebels:"

"If he were put to death for blasphemy, he would not have been crucified. Jesus was killed by the distinctly Roman form of capital punishment reserved for political rebels against the rule of Rome: crucifixion on a cross." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 89). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

To say that crucifixion is "reserved for" political rebels implies that an observer, seeing a victim crucified, would be justified in the inference that the party thus executed was a political rebel. And this is Rabbi Boteach's point: "If Jesus were a religious opponent of the rabbis as the Gospels allege, he would never have been crucified." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 90). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.). It is counter-factual. Crucifixion was the punishment "reserved for" all manner of crimes, if those committing them were not Roman citizens. Mischievous slaves who plot theft or fraud overshadowed by the fear of crucifixion are a staple of Greek and Roman comedy. Meanwhile, a Julius Caesar, a Cataline, or a Sulla, however seditious he might be, need fear nothing worse than death by the sword if his schemes collapsed prematurely.

The legal status of the convicted criminal determined the mode of execution, not the crime alone. In our case, to judge by the title Pilate placed atop the cross, the crime for which Jesus was executed was political rebellion, but to claim, as does Rabbi Boteach, that this punishment was specific to that crime, is in error. Drawing sweeping conclusions based on fishy 'facts' about life in first century Palestine is unfortunately typical of this author's procedure. It would be too time consuming to list all of this author's errors of fact, which greatly impose upon the reader. We read that Mani, a gnostic heresiarch (the gnostics were the early Kabbalists; Mani's light particles are also Isaac Luria's), lived in the "second century CE," (page 163), not the third. You'd think he could look this stuff up if he's got the time to write a book. Perhaps serving as Rabbi to the stars imposes too many demands upon his time. His publishing house ought to invest in a fact-checking department, who could liberate the reader from such made-up 'facts' as, "Many of Augustine’s predecessors had advocated policies of forced conversion." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus. Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) Is this state of affairs he is describing historically credible?



Anachronism

As noted, Rabbi Boteach has a problem with anachronism. Here is a case in point: to prove that the scribes and Pharisees who disputed with Jesus cannot really have objected to His healings on the Sabbath, he cites the Talmud, which records several opinions, leading off with Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Akiba, who rendered the verdict,

"R. Ishmael, R. Akiba and R. Eleazar b. Azariah were once on a journey, with Levi ha-Saddar and R. Ishmael son of R. Eleazar b. Azariah following them. Then this question was asked of them: Whence do we know that in the case of danger to human life the laws of the Sabbath are suspended?— R. Ishmael answered and said: If a thief be found breaking in. Now if in the case of this one it is doubtful whether he has come to take money or life; and although the shedding of blood pollutes the land, so that the Shechinah departs from Israel, yet it is lawful to save oneself at the cost of his life — how much more may one suspend the laws of the Sabbath to save human life! R. Akiba answered and said: If a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor etc. thou shalt take him from My altar, that he may die. . .R. Eleazar answered and said: If circumcision, which attaches to one only of the two hundred and forty-eight members of the human body, suspends the Sabbath, how much more shall [the saving of] the whole body suspend the Sabbath!" (Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 85a-b.)

To determine what people believed in the early part of the first century A.D., we query a man born in 90 A.D. (Rabbi Ishmael) and one born 40-50 A.D. (Rabbi Akiba), or a pupil of Akiba (Rabbi Eleazar). These men were not yet alive at the time of the crucifixion, yet they are the witnesses called to show it is impossible Jesus ever met with anyone inclined to dispute His teaching that healing was permissible on the sabbath: "And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace." (Mark 3:4). People who believe, as does Rabbi Boteach, that the Talmud passes along Moses' oral teaching, might well wonder why the Rabbis cited are not ancient, but rather clustered into a circumscribed time window. If this were the universal understanding going all the way back to Moses and Joshua, then why cite Akiba and Ishmael at all?

As to the Jews who already were alive when Jesus walked about healing, some were not sold on the idea of healing on the Sabbath, such as the sectarians who wrote the Damascus Document:

"No one should help an animal give birth on the Sabbath; and if it falls into a well or a pit, he may not lift it out on the Sabbath. . .Any living human who falls into a body of water or a cistern shall not be helped out with ladder, rope, or other instrument." (Damascus Document, The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 69, Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook).

Since this view was heard no more after the destruction of the temple, it may be that Rabbi Jesus had a good influence on people. Rabbi Boteach is obliged to insist that the people unanimously concurred with the verdict of Rabbis Ishmael and Akiba before it was handed down, and indeed before they were born, because he subscribes to the founding myth of Rabbinic Judaism: that Moses delivered, not only the written law as handed down at Sinai, but an oral law to go along with it, comprising all of the 'extra' Pharisaic observances. Therefore Judaism stands outside of time. How likely this is, the reader may reflect by recalling that the written law was lost,— some commentators say in whole, some in part:

"And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses. And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan. And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do it. . . Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.  And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes." (2 Chronicles 34:14-19).

If the written law was lost, and it was, owing to apostasy, then how likely is it any accompanying oral tradition was conserved intact? The 'Kosher' Jesus is misplaced by several centuries; he studies the Talmud, and reflects upon the legal opinions of Rabbis not yet born. How authentic can be be, when he practiced a religion which hadn't yet been invented?

Another remarkable convergence: "It has been taught, R. Meir said: in the measure which one measures, so will there be [measured out] to him, as it is written, in measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt contend with it." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, 100a.) Wow, Jesus quotes Rabbi Meir!. . .who lived mid-second century A.D. There are lots of these wonders, but inasmuch as time travel is not known to have been practiced in that era, they fail to demonstrate that Rabbi Jesus is derivative from the Rabbis of the Talmud.

Wrong Day

Why do Christians join in worship on the Lord's Day, rather than on Saturday? Rabbi Boteach has no idea in the world, and blusters,

"Imagine the implications of just one important commandment, the Sabbath, which Christians no longer observe according to the biblical command or even on the biblical day, all because Paul says that the law has been abrogated. God rested on Saturday, not Sunday. Indeed, if the purpose of the Sabbath is the consecration of rest rather than work, then what sense can it make to observe the Sabbath on Sunday when God did the most work, creating heaven and earth itself?" (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 114). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

There actually is a reason for it, however, as rational folk might have guessed. On Saturday, the Lord lay dead and buried in the tomb. What's to celebrate? Instances like this make you wonder why Rabbi Boteach didn't find out first, and only then comment. Instead he's ladling out the old nonsense:

"However, the Romans worshipped the sun, and venerated Sun-Day as the holiest day of the week. This was part of the Roman cult of Sol Invictus, the unconquered sun-god whom the Romans worshipped." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 127). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)


Was Dead But Lives

"For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." (Luke 15:24).

I've never yet been to a baptism where the baptized person is left lying, face down, in the water, while all the congregation file away to their cars and say, 'That's too bad, he was a nice guy.' If Christianity were a suicide cult, like Heaven's Gate or the Solar Temple Cult, it would deservedly have passed away long ago. Though there is little good in a suicide cult, the one good thing is that they put themselves out of business; they do not stick around, snaring souls. No, Christian baptism differs from drowning in that the dead rise up out of the water:

"God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:2-11).

Point one, they die, point two, they rise. Through faith, we take on not only His death, but also His life. There are two sides to the equation. Paul's reasoning in the next chapter throws Rabbi Boteach for a loop:

"Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." (Romans 7:1-4).

Now, to Rabbi Boteach, this passage is proof positive that Paul was never trained as a Pharisee, as he claimed. Why? Others concur: "Once a man dies, he becomes free of the Torah and good deeds." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbath, 30a). No, because it is "nonsensical:"

"Paul’s argument is so confused that he suggests a dead woman should get remarried. It is nonsensical, and not at all characteristic of a Pharisaic sage whose distinguishing characteristic was razor-sharp legal logic." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 115). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

And why is it "nonsensical?" Why, because everybody knows a dead woman cannot get married! Except, in Christianity, you'd be surprised what dead folks can do. They dance and sing: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." (Isaiah 26:19). 'But I was keeping my eye on her. She was dead, I tell you!' Sure she was, but go ahead and roll a stone against her tomb, it will not keep her down. In Rabbi Boteach's religion, what is dead stays that way, but the gospel is the promise of new lives for old. Lazarus comes forth, and dead women pull themselves up out of the grave, shake it off, and put on a wedding garment. The skeptic may scoff, 'But she wasn't really dead! The pastor didn't hold her under until the bubbles stopped coming up.' Maybe, but God counted her dead, and her new life is from Him, it's His gift, His breath.

The passage is admittedly dense and complex, as is much of Paul's reasoning, and somewhat difficult to unravel. The husband, the testator, dies: "For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth." (Hebrews 9:16-17). But the wife dies also; in some joint catastrophe, like a tragic car crash that took two lives at the same time? In a sense: she takes on His death, she is baptized into His death; He died for her, not for Himself. She also rises into His new life. As a newly born creature, she has sloughed off, not only her sins, but also her prior birth commitments. Was she born a Jew, or a Gentile? She has risen to new life in Christ: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17). He who makes all things new has forged a new creature: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Galatians 6:15). When she was born, she had two parents, and they made her to be part of a tribe or a clan. But she was born again as a child of God. This argumentation is admittedly not Talmudic, because the Talmud follows repetitively a few simple argument-templates. It is however not "nonsensical."



Appropriation

In nominally Christian Europe of the dark ages, it was impossible to bring out an intact edition of the Talmud, because the censors insisted on removing material intended to insult Jesus of Nazareth. Some people have a vivid imagination and invent slurs, like the suggestion that Jesus was the illegitimate outcome of an alliance between Mary and a German soldier named Panthera. Don't worry; this 'Teutonic Jesus' is a fantasy, just like the 'Revolutionary Jesus.' But why is it always Mary who takes it on the chin?:

"Many Christians may be surprised to learn the very idea of a virgin birth is as rooted in pagan belief as the concept of the man-god. Christianity’s adoption of this element of Jesus’ biography is likely the result of Paul’s efforts to make the burgeoning religion more palatable to pagan gentiles. By Jesus’ lifetime, virgin birth was not a new idea. In a number of ancient civilizations, deities were commonly born of virgins. . .This idea of a deity impregnating a woman had become very popular in the ancient world. Little surprise then that it would have been favored by those seeking to make the Jewish leader Jesus more appealing to ancient pagan sensibilities." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 157). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

The Bible The Koran
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Thomas Jefferson
Bishop John Shelby Spong Latter Day Saints
The Talmud Celsus
Perpetual Virginity


Kabbalists understand God to be a sexual being, which might account for some of this author's depravity. Christians do not understand that God "engage[d] in relations with" Mary. Investigators into the Kabbalah will have discovered that the god of the Kabbalah is equipped for the task, which probably explains a lot. The editors of the Talmud had to play 'hide and seek' with the censors to get any of their derogatory material printed at all. Perhaps the censors saw themselves as peace-makers promoting toleration; perhaps they feared mob violence if the public at large became aware of just how vile this material really was. But no one today praises them for their tolerance. They were anti-semites; they maimed the holy book of another religion, which they had no right to do.

Rabbi Boteach falls heir to this heritage of 'toleration.' He feels aggrieved when he encounters Christians who think it plausible their holy book recounts history as it happened; he thinks, somehow, these people are violating his rights. He sings his own praises for a virtue he does not possess; in his mind he has not written a book trash-talking a rival faith, rather he is an apostle of tolerance, with outstretched hand promoting "rapprochement:" "Mutual respect is crucial to the kind of rapprochement I’m advocating." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 206). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) He is good for doing exactly what, when Christians do it, is evil. Did the Palestinians get this memo?: "Judaism is here to promote peace and harmony between nations rather than argue that we are saved while others are damned." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 191). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

In the end he doesn't think it matters what you believe, because salvation is by works. So he believes, and so you must believe: what human beings think or feel is of no interest to God: "Almost no law has anything to do with how a Jew should feel or believe, with the notable exception of the First Commandment. . ." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 164). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) This is not accurate even to the Old Covenant; God wants His people's hearts, not grudging obedience: "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people. . ." (Isaiah 29:13-14).

Proclaiming salvation by works is not mercy, it is merciless; it makes paradise into a depopulated desert. Far from a way to save everyone, it is a way to save no one at all. Must God lean down at Rabbi Boteach's direction?: "Jews do not feel the need to keep the Torah perfectly; they know people make mistakes." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 186). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.) Not so: "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:. . ." (Habakkuk 1:13). The standard is not what a given population group may or may not "feel the need" to do, but God's holiness. Whatever: "Jews simply aren’t that interested in the question of whether they’re going to heaven or hell." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 190). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

When Rabbi Boteach takes it upon himself to instruct Christians, we are to sit still and learn and not fuss or talk back:

"'We in the Jewish community have a choice,' he said in an interview. 'We can either, as has happened for 2,000 years, allow the Christian community to teach us about the Christian Christ, or we can take the initiative and the responsibility of teaching the Christian community about the Jewish Jesus.... He was a Jew, after all.'" (Los Angeles Times, Rabbi's 'Kosher Jesus' book is denounced as heresy, February 5, 2012).

And the New Testament, he wants it understood, is a tissue of lies, and Christian belief is a string of blasphemies. He means that in the friendliest way, of course. He's welcome to his opinion. Certainly no Christian has any reason to share it. Nor will upping the decibel level on his undeserved denunciations of his Christian neighbors give us any reason to share it.

Saved by the Blood

Christianity flows on in placid continuity with Old Testament themes, developing and expounding themes such as blood atonement, an Old Testament type fulfilled by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross as antitype. For Christians, there is no word of God that falls to the ground, nothing in the Old Testament which is discarded or ignored. The Bible teaches there is salvation in the blood:

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." (Leviticus 17:11).

And so Christians believe. But with Rabbinic Judaism, instead of continuity with what had gone before, there is a falling off a cliff in 70 A.D. Rabbinic Judaism is a man-made religion, a frantic improvisation hurriedly slapped together after the pagan Romans had left the prior God-instituted religion an uninhabitable ruin. Large chunks of the pre-70 A.D. faith were simply abandoned, with no explanation, no rationale other than necessity imposed by circumstances. Large swaths of scripture are left hanging in the air by the Rabbis who contributed to the Talmud. Does the Bible say atonement is in the blood? Rabbi Boteach assures us it isn't so, and gives the example of Ninevah:

"'God may yet relent and with compassion turn from His fierce anger so that we will not perish.' Without an animal sacrifice in sight, God listens and indeed relents." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 168). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

And what did the Ninevites get for their repentance? Couches by the river where the roses ever bloom? No, a stay of execution. They did not die right then and there. But even that can't be guaranteed by Rabbi Boteach's futile and fruitless faith; his acolyte Michael Jackson never found even that. Tragically, his last years were spent surrounded by hovering ghouls battening down, draining what little life he had left till there was none. What a shame there was no one to point him to a Savior.

What is perplexing is that, even though its stance toward Biblical religious observance is two fingers firmly plugged into the ears, Rabbinic Judaism has convinced large numbers of people that it is a living fossil, the unchanged survival of the religion of ancient Israel. They say a sucker is born every minute. Where's the blood? The Rabbis reassure their followers: who needs all that outmoded law, prayer suffices; and they know this how? Has God spoken? No, they speak on their own authority; accept their surmises and speculations at your own risk. Readers who learn from Rabbi Boteach that gay marriage is a good thing are getting a taste of this penchant for improvisation. Rabbi Boteach himself does not find the idea of a fickle God plausible:

"Indeed, one must ask the question as to whether God is prone to convulsions or is fickle. One day He decides that His law is everlasting, His covenant eternal; the next day He abolishes it completely, saying His laws were never really that important or permanent. . ." (Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus (p. 183). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

There is no God more fickle or convulsive than the God of Rabbinic Judaism, because one day He proclaims the law, the next day He decides all He really expects is a vague, generic ethical monotheism. He institutes sacrifices, when all He really wanted was prayer. This is not a religion driven by its own imperatives, calmly charting its own course, but thrust this way and that by circumstances beyond its control: the Romans trashed the sanctuary. Oh. So the sanctuary's not important. No doubt those grapes were sour anyway. This confusion is what you get when the divine voice has fallen silent, and the blind lead the blind. It's hard to find points of contact between modern Judaism and Old Testament religion: "Of course, Judaism is very differently placed today. There is no ark, no priesthood, no sacrifices, no tabernacle, no temple." (Michael Green, But Don't All Religions Lead to God? p. 21). Judaism of Mosaic design was a sacrificial religion:



There is a tendency nowadays to emphasize Jesus' Jewish identity, which would be a good thing did it not squeeze like a vise, applying pressure to conform Jesus to the mold of utterly inconsequential people like 'Honi the Circle-Drawer.' At the same time, there is also a tendency to rebrand gnosticism as authentic Christianity, in connection with the marketing of gnostic texts. The gnostics were polytheists who believed a bad god created the world, but a good god sent Jesus to save us from the bad god. One might expect these two tendencies, pulling in opposite directions, monotheism and polytheism, would appeal to different people. But this would be to over-estimate the quality of those drawn into this field. In fact, the very same people stress Jesus' Jewish heritage, accusing somebody or other of having overlooked this, and also claim that the issue of whether monotheism is preferable to polytheism was not resolved for some centuries into the Christian era. In a sense this straddling act conforms ancient Judaism to modern Judaism, because, owing to the popularity of the Kabbalah, today's Jews are both gnostic and Jewish:

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Rabbi Gamaliel

Rabbi Gamaliel appears as a towering figure amongst the people in the Book of Acts, and likewise in the Talmud. In examining our theme of 'anachronism,' it will be instructive to consider what the Talmud tells us about this august first century Pharisee, as reported by his son, Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel:

"But was Grecian Wisdom proscribed? Did not Rab Judah say that Samuel stated in the name of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel: '[The words] Mine eye affected my soul because of all the daughters of my city [could very well be applied to the] thousand youths who were in my father's house; five hundred of them learned Torah and the other five hundred learned Grecian Wisdom, and out of all of them there remain only I here and the son of my father's brother in Asia'?— It may, however, be said that the family of R. Gamaliel was an exception, as they had associations with the Government, as indeed taught: 'He who trims the front of his hair in Roman fashion is acting in the ways of the Amorites.' Abtolmus b. Reuben however was permitted to cut his hair in the Gentile fashion as he was in close contact with the Government. So also the members of the family of Rabban Gamaliel were permitted to discuss Grecian Wisdom on account of their having had associations with the Government." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Baba Kamma, 83a.)

We learn from this that this eminent Palestinian Rabbi ran an academy, with a thousand youngsters enrolled, offering dual curricula: there was a course of study in the Torah, and also a course of study in "Grecian Wisdom." Young Paul no doubt labored in the 'Torah' section, but he must have had daily contact with his fellow students practicing Greek eloquence, perhaps he picked up a few lines. Hyam Maccoby, Rabbi Boteach's guiding light, 'proves' Paul can never have been a Pharisee by his penchant for quoting Greek poets:

"This brings us back to the most obvious thing about Paul's writings, from a stylistic viewpoint, that they are written in Greek. Obvious as it is, this fact often seems to be ignored by those laboring to prove that Paul wrote and thought like a rabbi. . .He is so naturally at home in the Hellenistic world that he even quotes Menander at one point and a contemporary tragic poet at another. No such writing exists from the pen of any rabbi of the Pharisee movement, so if Paul was a Pharisee, he was unique in this regard." (Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker, p. 70).

It is certainly true that later, one finds themes of xenophobia and hatred of the larger culture arising in Jewish thought (the view is even expressed in the Talmud that the heavenly court understand only the Hebrew tongue), but that came later, partly as a result of the larger culture's genocidal reduction of the land to a minority Jewish 'Palestine.' It is fairly easy to hate people who are trying to eradicate you. It is no proof that Paul was not a Pharisee, educated at the feet of an eminent Pharisee who was himself so interested in Greek literature that he offered this learning as an option to those youngsters who flocked to him for an education. Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel, the son, seems to feel this educational experiment was a failure, leading to the defection of most of the students thus educated. Did they join their fellow alumnus Paul in the Christian fold?

Gamaliel's son still retained some fondness for the language it would seem: "Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says: The permission to write the Holy Books in another language was limited to the Greek language only." (The Babylonian Talmud, edited by Michael L. Rodkinson, Volume VIII, Tract Megilla, Chapter 1, Kindle location 33648). "And he says again: What is the reason of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel? Because it is written [Gen. ix. 27]: 'May God enlarge the boundaries of Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem.' That means to say, the most beautiful thing which Japheth has — that is, the Greek language — shall dwell in the tents of Shem." (The Babylonian Talmud, edited by Michael L. Rodkinson, Volume VIII, Tract Megilla, Chapter 1, Kindle location 33695). Greek is indeed a beautiful language. In fact Greek had been used for some time in the holy land: "The coins of Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BC) had a Hebrew inscription on one side and a Greek inscription on the other." (James B. Pritchard, HarperCollins Atlas of Bible History, Chapter Seven, Kindle location 2380). There is no basis for these authors' assumption otherwise.

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Hyam Maccoby

Rabbi Boteach's trusted guide to the strange new world of the New Testament is Hyam Maccoby. with such a guide, it is all too easy to get lost. Here is his high-handed dismissal of the Sermon on the Mount:

"Here he seems to assume a tone of authority and an independence of previous teaching which would justify the description of a 'reformer.' However, since the whole episode of the Sermon on the Mount is Matthew's invention (the sayings being found scattered over various episodes in the other Gospels, except in Luke, where the sermon is transferred to a plain and the grandiose note of authority is missing), the simplest explanation is that the reformer's tone has been imported into the story by later Christian editors. . ." (Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, p. 40)

Has there ever yet once in the history of the world been a public speaker who uses his best applause lines once and only once? What would be the motivation for such a course of action? Even to state the underlying principle is to realize it must be wrong.

Today's politicians offer a standard stump speech, repeated, with small innovations and variations, in East Overshoe, Podunk, Dogpatch, etc. After all why should the inhabitants of Podunk miss out on hearing the speaker's best material, just because the good folk of East Overshoe heard it first? I remember the delighted laughter with which Nancy Reagan used to great her husband's jokes and stories. . .which she must have heard five hundred times before, inasmuch as he used to repeat them over and over. Perhaps she was a better actress than people gave her credit for. When Jesus travelled around Galilee giving the Kingdom of God stump speech, is it really necessary for Him to invent completely new material each time, and if He did not, is that any proof that a given sermon one of the evangelists records never happened at all?

Hyam Maccoby is unafraid of arguing in a perfect circle: the New Testament reports conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees on, among other things, Sabbath-keeping. The Talmud, a sixth century compilation of Rabbinic opinion mostly post-dating the destruction of the temple, does not give quite the same astringency to their views as does the New Testament; perhaps they had softened a bit in the interim. However, their view is still not the same as the Lord's: and so His must be adjusted, because otherwise Maccoby's thesis that Jesus, thought to be in conflict with the Pharisees, was really a Pharisee, and Paul, thought to have been a Pharisee, was really never a Pharisee. Jesus and His disciples, you see, were fleeing for their lives from Herod Antipas!:

"This is the case of David and his violation of the sanctity of the shewbread; and this case is explained in the Pharisee literature (with good support from the actual text) as having been one of extreme danger to life, since David and his men were dying of starvation in their flight from King Saul. That is why, in Pharisee theory, David and his men were justified in eating the holy shewbread, though in circumstances where there was no danger to human life this was regarded as a heinous sin. . .
"Jesus and his followers, in flight from Herod Antipas and the Romans, at the last extremity of exhaustion and hunger arrive at a cornfield. It is the sabbath day, but Jesus, judging the situation to be, like the case of David, an emergency in which all ritual observances, whether of the sabbath or the Temple, are abrogated by Pharisee law, allows his disciples to satisfy their hunger by plucking corn." (Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, p. 41)

There is not the slightest suggestion in the New Testament text that anybody is fleeing from anyone, or that anyone is starving to death; however, since inventing this elaborate set of circumstances is the only way to salvage Hyman Maccoby's thesis that Jesus was a Pharisee, invent he does. And then he waxes indignant that these facts were changed by the evangelists!: "Why then, was the element of emergency removed from the story as we have it in the Gospels, thus reducing the whole episode to nonsense?" (Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, p. 42). But since the "element of emergency" is imaginary, it is not really so awful that the evangelists "removed" it "from the story;" they very likely "removed" it at the same time they "removed" the flying pigs and the dancing elephants.

This author is so whimsical it is easy to make fun of him; however, he remains as a symptom of a very glaring malady. Modern secular Bible study derives from the German enlightenment, which ruled out any possibility of miracle. This field of study, in English, got its biggest boost from Unitarians like Joseph Priestley. Authors like Ernest Renan think it 'sacrilege' for Jesus to claim to be God: "Jesus never once gave utterance to the sacrilegious idea that he was God." (Chapter 5, The Life of Jesus, Ernest Renan). This idea offends the religious sensibilities of these folks, so He cannot have said what all the gospels report Him as saying. But removing this element leaves a gaping hole in the gospel: if Jesus never claimed to be God, then what was the Jewish legal case against Him? An anti-semite like Renan can get by with, 'they hated Him because He was good and they were evil,' but once anti-semitism has passed out of fashion, the problem really cannot be ignored or swept under the rug. But don't worry, they have an excellent solution: it never happened. . .even though all the sources say that it happened, and none says otherwise. When the facts which you seek to explain don't work out for your explanation, just delete them. This leaves the explanation intact, hovering in the air.

It gets even stranger. Hyam Maccoby explains that Paul presents himself as a "quasi-divine" being: "Paul is saying, quite straightforwardly, that he is himself the incarnation of the Son of God. . .but Paul, like Buddha, remains pre-eminent and quasi-divine." (Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, pp. 106-107) Admirers of the Talmud often remark on the 'laser-sharp' reasoning found in that tome, though most of the argumentation in the Talmud is just by analogy, which is not the sharpest nor the shiniest tool in the logician's tool-box. For some logical razzle-dazzle, notice the reductio ad absurdum, the argument which powers Euclid's Elements. May I offer Hyam Maccoby's strange thesis, his Pharisee Jesus and "quasi-divine" Paul, as the reductio ad absurdum of unitarian Bible study: take away Jesus' claim to Godhood and down the rabbit-hole disappears Maccoby with his followers.

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Richard Dawkins Thomas Paine
The Unchanging God Marcion
Issues Apion
A Different Perspective


The Mosaic law contained detailed instructions about building the ark of the covenant. But Jeremiah looked to a day when it would neither be needed nor its loss lamented, God's presence being more freely available: “‘Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,' says the Lord, ‘that they will say no more, “The ark of the covenant of the Lord.” It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore.’” (Jeremiah 3:16). That there is to be a New Covenant is Old Testament doctrine just as much as New. It can be instructive to study the competition. There have been many Messianic claimants who have attracted a sizeable Jewish following. How many of these can be eliminated from history's roll by employing our magic a priori technique, 'No Jew ever believed xyz'? In truth this is a rough crowd; some of these people seem to have been mentally ill. Still, with tens of thousands of European Jews following Sabbatai Sevi, who claimed to be God, and who innovated in the law, the claim that no Messianic aspirant could ever make such representations rings hollow:

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