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Basic Worldview:
104 Why Christianity?


Rabbinical Judaism Accepts
Christian Interpretations (Part 6)


Judaism and Christianity Introduction and History
History of Judaism Continued
Scholarly Objections and Historicity of Daniel (P. 1)
Historicity of Daniel (P. 2) & Judeo-Christian Syncretism
A Few Words on Gnosticism
Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (P. 1)
Christianity - A Sect of Judaism (P. 2) & Prophecy in Judaism
Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 1)
Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? (P. 2)
List of Messianic Qualifications & the Resurrection of Jesus (P. 1)
The Resurrection of Jesus (Part 2)
Study Conclusions and Overall Comparisons

Additional Material
The Sufferings of Eyewitnesses
Comparison of Mystical Religions to Judeo-Christianity
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 1)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 2)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 3)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 4)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 5)
Rabbinical Judaism Accepts Christian Interpretations (P. 6)

Introduction
| Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3




(Continued)

Conclusions

As a result of our survey a more accurate understanding of the Jewish position can be outlined.

Actual Talmudic and Rabbinic Jewish Teaching:

1. On the Timing of the Messiah – Daniel 9 outlines that the Messiah was to come and the Second Temple would be destroyed after a period of 69 weeks of years. As a result, there was a great expectation among the Jewish people that the Messiah would come about the second quarter of the first century C.E. (prior to the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D.)

2. On the Way the Messiah Would Come – Zechariah 9 prophecies that the Messiah would come riding on a donkey and Daniel 7 prophesied that the Messiah would come on the clouds of heaven.

3. On No Sacrifices – For forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. (starting at about 30 A.D.) atoning sacrifices were not accepted by God even though they were required by God under the law to atone for sin.. And since 70 A.D. no sacrifices have been offered due to the fact that the Temple has been destroyed. However, sacrifices are not required by God since the destruction of the Temple even though the Law of Moses and the prophets clearly taught that sacrifice is necessary to atone for sin. In the Messianic Age atoning sacrifices will not be required.

4. On a Suffering and Dying Messiah – Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 53 prophesy that the Messiah, even the King Messiah, will suffer and die to atone for our sins as Priest, but he will be resurrected from the dead. The interpretation that Isaiah 53 refers to the nation of Israel as a whole and not to a specific individual is a relatively recent view that does not appear in rabbinic literature until the eleventh century A.D. For nearly a thousand years rabbinic tradition understood Isaiah 53 to refer to a specific Messianic individual. The reference in Isaiah 53 to the Messiah seeing his seed does not indicate actual physical descendents. For instance, this passage has been interpreted by some to refer to Jeremiah who was commanded by God not to marry or have children and to the late Lubavitcher Grand Rabbi who also had no children. Most likely, the passage is speaking of persons of the same spiritual qualities. Zechariah 3 does refer to the Messiah and identifies him with Joshua the High Priest through the use of the Messianic term “the Branch.” Zechariah 12 does prophecy that the Messiah will be pierced and die for the sins of Israel who will mourn for him as for a firstborn son. Psalm 16 does refer to the Messiah indicating that his body will not decompose. (Some of the ultra-orthodox Lubavitcher Hasidic movement taught that their deceased high rabbi, who they claimed was the Messiah, would be resurrected and return.)

5. On a Miracle Working Messiah – Many saintly sages of the past were able to work miracles and the Messiah and the Messianic Age will be accompanied by miracles.

6. Descriptions of God – God is one, but God’s oneness is as a man and his body or a tree and its branches. The limbs are many, but the man is one. God is a mystery of three. The Word (or Greek “Logos” or Aramaic “Memra) of God is used in the Old Testament to describe the figure who interacted with man throughout the Old Testament, is the God of Jacob, is savior, is mediator between God and man, led Israel out of Egypt, gave Israel the Law, and created Adam in his own image. The Word of God is the same as the angel (messenger) of the LORD (YHWH) who is himself God (YHWH) (who led Israel out of Egypt under Moses). The Holy Spirit or Spirit of God (YHWH) is a person. He acts as a counsel for the defense, he rebukes, cries out, and tells of things to come.

7. On The Messiah’s Divinity – The Messiah is the same figure described in Isaiah as God’s suffering servant, in the Psalms as the Son of God, and in Daniel 7 as coming on the clouds of heaven to judge and rule the Earth. In Psalms the Messiah is called “elohim” (Hebrew for “God”). In Isaiah 45 the Messiah is called “El Gibbor” (Hebrew for “Mighty God”). As a result of such passages and others such as Isaiah 52-53, where the Messiah is said to be higher than the angels, the Messiah has been regarded as a divine, semi-divine, supernatural figure. The Messiah is also described as existing prior to his birth and having discourse with Old Testament figures. (In accordance with Old Testament teaching, some Hasidic Jews of Lubavitcher Hasidism claim that their deceased Grand Rabbi is both Messiah and God and that he will be resurrected from the dead and return.) The New Testament Christian view of a virgin birth is a legitimate possible interpretation of Isaiah 7 supported by the language of the text as interpreted even by non-Christian Jewish scholars before the time of Christ who translated the (Old Testament) Hebrew Bible into Greek (called the Septuagint.) The language of the prophecy also indicates something unique is occurring regarding the birth and that this remarkable aspect is related to the impossibility of the mother conceiving and bearing a child as a young woman. Micah 5 is a prophecy of the Messiah and foretells of his coming birth in Bethlehem.

8. On the Death of Man Atoning for Sin – The death of a righteous man atones for the sins of many. It is only the blood (of the righteous) that provides atonement for sins even as the death of the High Priest atones for sin.

9. On the Importance of the Messiah – The coming of the Messiah and belief in him are central tenets of Rabbinic Judaism, so much so that to deny this is to deny the Torah and Moses.

10. On the Afterlife and the Age to Come – Rabbinic Judaism contains a substantial belief in the afterlife comparable to other major religions including descriptions of heaven and hell.

Now go back and compare the interpretations offered by actual Talmudic and Rabbinic Teaching with those offered by New Testament Christianity. (For comparison here again are the New Testament Christian interpretations for points 1-10 interspersed with those offered by Talmudic and Rabbinic Judaism.)


1. On the Timing of the Messiah –

New Testament Christian Interpretation:
According to Daniel 9, the Messiah was to come and be killed and the Second Temple would be destroyed after the completion of 69 weeks of years. (The Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.) Jesus lived, died and rose again between approximately 4 B.C. and 30 A.D.

Actual Interpretations of Talmudic (or Rabbinic) Judaism:
Daniel 9 outlines that the Messiah was to come and the Second Temple would be destroyed after a period of 69 weeks of years. As a result, there was a great expectation among the Jewish people that the Messiah would come about the second quarter of the first century C.E. (prior to the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D.)


2. On the Way the Messiah Would Come –

New Testament Christian Interpretation:
According to Zechariah 9, The Messiah was to come riding humbly on a donkey and, according to Daniel 7, will return on the clouds of heaven. The week before his death, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

Actual Interpretations of Talmudic (or Rabbinic) Judaism:
Zechariah 9 prophecies that the Messiah would come riding on a donkey and Daniel 7 prophesied that the Messiah would come on the clouds of heaven.


3. On No Sacrifices –

New Testament Christian Interpretation:
As indicated in the Old Testament, God required a sacrifice to atone for man’s sins. As Messiah, Jesus provided that sacrifice through his death and resurrection in about 30 A.D. Since then atoning sacrifices are no longer necessary to reconcile man to God.

Actual Interpretations of Talmudic (or Rabbinic) Judaism:
For forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. (starting at about 30 A.D.) atoning sacrifices were not accepted by God even though they were required by God under the law to atone for sin. And since 70 A.D. no sacrifices have been offered since the Temple has been destroyed. However, sacrifices are not required by God since the destruction of the Temple even though the Law of Moses and the prophets clearly taught that sacrifice is necessary to atone for sin. In the Messianic Age atoning sacrifices will not be required.


4. On a Suffering and Dying Messiah –

New Testament Christian Interpretation:
According to passages such as Isaiah 52-53, the Messiah was to suffer and die to atone for our sin in fulfillment of his role as High Priest, but would be resurrected from the dead and would return as an exalted, conquering King. Zechariah 3 indicates that the Messiah will be High Priest as well as King, identifying Joshua the High Priest using the term “the Branch” as a symbol of the Messiah. Zechariah 12 speaks of the Messiah being pierced and being mourned by the people of Israel because he died for their sin. Psalm 16 indicates the Messiah will die, but be resurrected as God will not allow his body to decompose, nor leave his soul in the place of the dead (Sheol). On the third day after dying as an atoning sacrifice for sin, our High Priest, Jesus was resurrected from the grave.

Actual Interpretations of Talmudic (or Rabbinic) Judaism:
Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 53 prophesy that the Messiah, even the King Messiah, will suffer and die to atone for our sins as Priest, but he will be resurrected from the dead. The interpretation that Isaiah 53 refers to the nation of Israel as a whole and not to a specific individual is a relatively recent view that does not appear in rabbinic literature until the eleventh century A.D. For nearly a thousand years rabbinic tradition understood Isaiah 53 to refer to a specific Messianic individual. The reference in Isaiah 53 to the Messiah seeing his seed does not indicate actual physical descendents as it has been interpreted by some to refer to Jeremiah who was commanded by God not to marry or have children and to the late Lubavitcher Grand Rabbi who also had no children. Most likely, the passage is speaking of persons of the same spiritual qualities. Zechariah 3 does refer to the Messiah and identifies him with Joshua the High Priest through the use of the Messianic term “the Branch.” Zechariah 12 does prophecy that the Messiah will be pierced and die for the sins of Israel who will mourn for him as for a firstborn son. Psalm 16 does refer to the Messiah indicating that his body will not decompose. (Some of the ultra-orthodox Lubavitcher Hasidic movement taught that their deceased high rabbi, who they claimed was the Messiah, would be resurrected and return.)


5. On a Miracle Working Messiah –

New Testament Christian Interpretation:
Jesus worked many miracles displaying that he was the Messiah.

Actual Interpretations of Talmudic (or Rabbinic) Judaism:
Many saintly sages of the past were able to work miracles and the Messiah and the Messianic Age will be accompanied by miracles.


6. Descriptions of God –

New Testament Christian Interpretation:
God is one being, yet three persons: Father, Word, and Holy Spirit. The Word of God is the angel (or messenger) of the LORD (YHWH) in the Old Testament who is identified as God (YHWH) himself. The Holy Spirit or Spirit of God (YHWH) is a person who is identified as God in the Old Testament, but who is distinct from the persons of YHWH known to us as the Father and the Word. He acts as an advocate, rebukes, cries out, and telling of things to come.

Actual Interpretations of Talmudic (or Rabbinic) Judaism:
God is one, but God’s oneness is as a man and his body or a tree and its branches. The limbs are many, but the man is one. God is a mystery of three. The Word (or Greek “Logos” or Aramaic “Memra) of God is used in the Old Testament to describe the figure who interacted with man throughout the Old Testament, is the God of Jacob, is savior, is mediator between God and man, led Israel out of Egypt, gave Israel the Law, created Adam in his own image. The Word of God is the same as the angel (messenger) of the LORD (YHWH) who is himself God (YHWH) (who led Israel out of Egypt under Moses). The Holy Spirit or Spirit of God (YHWH) is a person. He acts as a counsel for the defense, he rebukes, cries out, and tells of things to come.


7. On The Messiah’s Divinity –

New Testament Christian Interpretation:
The Messiah is a descendent of David and is also the Son of God. He existed eternally as God and became incarnate as a man in the lineage of David, and as such is both God and man and he will come again on the clouds to judge the earth and to rule as its King. The incarnation of the Messiah is foretold in the prophecy of Isaiah 7, which states that the virgin will conceive and bear a son who is called Immanuel (Hebrew for “God with us.”) According to Micah 5, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.

Actual Interpretations of Talmudic (or Rabbinic) Judaism:
The Messiah is the same figure described in Isaiah as God’s suffering servant, in the Psalms as the Son of God, and in Daniel 7 as coming on the clouds of heaven to judge and rule the Earth. In Psalms the Messiah is called “elohim” (Hebrew for “God”). In Isaiah 45 the Messiah is called “El Gibbor” (Hebrew for “Mighty God”). As a result of such passages and others such as Isaiah 52-53, where the Messiah is said to be higher than the angels, the Messiah has been regarded as a divine, semi-divine, supernatural figure. The Messiah is also described as existing prior to his birth and having discourse with Old Testament figures. (In accordance with Old Testament teaching, some Hasidic Jews of Lubavitcher Hasidism claim that their deceased Grand Rabbi is both Messiah and God and that he will be resurrected from the dead and return.) The New Testament Christian view of a virgin birth is a legitimate possible interpretation of Isaiah 7 supported by the language of the text as interpreted even by non-Christian Jewish scholars before the time of Christ who translated the (Old Testament) Hebrew Bible into Greek (called the Septuagint.) The language of the prophecy also indicates something unique is occurring regarding the birth and that this remarkable aspect is related to the impossibility of the mother conceiving and bearing a child as a young woman. Micah 5 is a prophecy of the Messiah and foretells of his coming birth in Bethlehem.


8. On the Death of Man Atoning for Sin –

New Testament Christian Interpretation:
As our sinless High Priest, the Jesus the Messiah’s sacrificial death provides forgiveness and reconciliation with God. It is only by his blood that atonement is made for man.

Actual Interpretations of Talmudic (or Rabbinic) Judaism:
The death of a righteous man atones for the sins of many. It is only through the blood (of the righteous) that provides atonement for sins even as the death of the High Priest atones for sin.


9. On the Importance of the Messiah –

New Testament Christian Interpretation:
The coming of the Messiah and belief in him is the central and critical element of God’s unfolding plan of salvation for mankind.

Actual Interpretations of Talmudic (or Rabbinic) Judaism:
The coming of the Messiah and belief in him are central tenets of Rabbinic Judaism, so much so that to deny this is to deny the Torah and Moses.


10. On the Afterlife and the Age to Come –

New Testament Christian Interpretation:
There is a coming day in which God will judge the world. All men will be resurrected. The righteous will go on to eternal life in the kingdom of God. The wicked to eternal damnation or hell.

Actual Interpretations of Talmudic (or Rabbinic) Judaism:
Rabbinic Judaism contains a substantial belief in the afterlife comparable to other major religions including descriptions of heaven and hell.


As we can see, the quotations above bear out that the actual situation between New Testament Christianity and Rabbinic (or Traditional) Judaism is very similar to the hypothetical trial we outlined above.

Christianity claims that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. Christianity claims that the Messiah was to come humbly riding on a donkey. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah was to come humbly riding on a donkey. Christianity claims that the Messiah was to come before the destruction of the Second Temple, which occurred in 70 A.D. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah was to come before the destruction of the Second Temple, which occurred in 70 A.D. Christianity claims that the Messiah would be a worker of miracles. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah would be a worker of miracles.

Christianity claims that blood is necessary to atone for sin. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, blood is necessary to atone for sin. Christianity claims that the Messiah is depicted as both High Priest and King. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah is depicted as both High Priest and King. Christianity claims that the death of the High Priest atones for sin. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the death of the High Priest atones for sin. Christianity claims that the Messiah was to suffer and die as an offering to atone for sin. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah was to suffer and die as an offering to atone for sin. Christianity claims that since the first century A.D. the sacrifices of the Law of Moses have not been required for atonement. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, since the first century A.D. the sacrifices of the Law of Moses have not been required for atonement. Christianity claims that the Messiah would not be left in the place of the dead, but would be resurrected from the dead. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah would not be left in the place of the dead, but would be resurrected from the dead. Christianity claims that the belief in the Messiah is essential, central, critical, and required of God’s people. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the belief in the Messiah is essential, central, critical, and required of God’s people.

Christianity claims that God’s oneness is understood as a unity within a plurality – God is three divine Persons in one spiritual being. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, God’s oneness is understood as a unity within a plurality – God is a mystery of three. Christianity claims that the Word (Logos or Memra) of YHWH God is one person of YHWH God. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, Word (Logos or Memra) of God is one person of YHWH God. Christianity claims that the Holy Spirit of YHWH God is also a person of YHWH God. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Holy Spirit of YHWH God is also a person of YHWH God.

Christianity claims that the Messiah is a descendent of King David. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah is a descendent of King David. Christianity claims that the Messiah existed before his birth. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah existed before his birth. Christianity claims that the Messiah is identified as God (“elohim”), Mighty God (“el gibbor”), Son of God, and is higher than the angels. Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah is identified as God (“elohim”), Mighty God (“el gibbor”), Son of God, and is higher than the angels. Christianity claims that the Messiah’s birth would be unusual, unique, and remarkable in that he would be born to a young woman for whom it would not normally be possible to conceive or bear a child (as she would be a virgin). Rabbinic Judaism concurs, the Messiah’s birth would be unusual, unique, and remarkable in that he would be born to a young woman for whom it would not normally be possible to conceive or bear a child.

So, Rabbinic Judaism and New Testament Christianity agree on how to understand the Old Testament teachings that describe and identify the Messiah. And the New Testament records that Jesus fulfills these Old Testament Messianic teachings that are expected and agreed upon by Rabbinic Judaism. (Below is a list of some of the most prominent examples.)

1. The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
2. The Messiah was to be a descendent of King David. Jesus is a descendent of King David.
3. The Messiah’s birth would be unusual, unique, and remarkable in that he would be born to a young woman for whom it would not normally be possible to conceive or bear a child. Jesus’ birth was unusual, unique, and remarkable in that he was born to a young woman, Mary, who did not conceive a child in the normal way, but was a virgin when she conceived Jesus in her womb.
4. The Messiah was to come before the destruction of the Second Temple, which occurred in 70 A.D. Jesus came before the destruction of the Second Temple, which occurred in 70 A.D.
5. The Messiah was to come humbly riding on a donkey. Jesus came humbly riding on a donkey.
6. The Messiah would be a worker of miracles. Jesus was a worker of miracles.
7. The Messiah would suffer and die as an offering to atone for sin. Jesus suffered and died as an offering to atone for sin.
8. After the Messiah comes the sacrifices of the Law of Moses will not been required for atonement. Since the time of Jesus the sacrifices of the Law of Moses have not been required for atonement.
9. The Messiah would not be left in the place of the dead, but would be resurrected from the dead. Jesus was not left in the place of the dead, but was resurrected from the dead.

With all this in mind, the question left from our illustration of the court case above reemerges. How can one side accept the other side’s interpretation of the evidence while at the same time rejecting the very conclusion warranted by that interpretation of the evidence, particularly without providing any explanation for that rejection?

Likewise, we must ask how Traditional Judaism can reject the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah identified in the Old Testament in light of these three plain facts.

Do we have an interpretation of the Messianic passages of the Old Testament that Traditional Judaism agrees with? Yes we, do. Do we have a historic figure that fits that agreed upon Messianic picture? Yes, we do (Jesus of Nazareth). Does Traditional (or Rabbinic) Judaism accept that the person who fits the Messianic prophetic picture is the Messiah? No, Traditional Judaism doesn’t. Does Traditional Judaism offer an explanation for why it rejects Jesus as Messiah even though he fits the Old Testament Messianic prophetic picture they agree to? No, Traditional Judaism doesn’t. Does Traditional Judaism agree that there must be a Messiah who fulfills the agreed upon Old Testament prophecies? Yes, Traditional Judaism does require that there would be such a Messiah. Is there some other alternative candidate who is proposed by Traditional Judaism to fit the Messianic description and be the Messiah? No, there isn’t.

Instead, Traditional (or Rabbinic) Judaism concurs with the interpretation of Old Testament Messianic teaching that describes Jesus so perfectly. Traditional (or Rabbinic) Judaism offers no alternative candidate to fulfill these Old Testament expectations and requirements. And Traditional (or Rabbinic) Judaism offers no explanation for the why Jesus is not the Messiah even though he fits the Old Testament Messianic teachings they themselves affirm. On the other hand, Messianic Judaism (Christianity) simply accepts Jesus as Messiah because he (and he alone) fits the Old Testament Messianic description agreed upon by both sides.

Lastly, given that both sides, Rabbinic Judaism and New Testament Christianity interpret the Old Testament so similarly, we cannot ourselves so easily avoid the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah by stating that even the Jews and the Christians come to very different answers. In point of fact, they do not come to different answers but to the same answers.

And just as significant, our perception of New Testament Christianity as a deviation from Old Testament Judaism must also be adjusted. New Testament Christianity is not an erroneous interpretation of the Old Testament mixed with pagan customs. Instead, even its main competition admits that the teachings of New Testament Christianity are a sound and consistent continuation of Old Testament Judaism. With this realization, it is easy to see why so many first century Jews believed and taught that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. Likewise, we must keep in mind that many persons of Jewish descent have believed Jesus is Messiah throughout the centuries.

Given these two facts, (1) the similarity to Rabbinic teaching demonstrating the authentic Jewishness of Christianity and (2) the many Jewish persons who have believed Jesus is Messiah (including some of orthodox background), it is difficult to maintain a view that those who believe Jesus is Messiah are not in any sense Jewish or of the Jewish faith. Instead, belief in Jesus as Messiah is wholly consistent with the teachings of Old Testament Judaism as agreed by ancient, medieval, and modern Rabbinic (Traditional) and Messianic Judaism. Far from making one un-Jewish, believing in Jesus as Messiah makes one a follower of Judaism (and, a reasonable and informed one at that).


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