Jesus for Judaism Expands Social Media Presence

20140717th-jesusforjudaism-starofdavid-500x500It’s been over 10 years since the Jesus for Judaism project was launched.

The project continues to inspire and engage many people toward deeper understanding of the Jewish faith and life of Jesus.

Today we’re expanding our social media presence to include Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

Although this project has been quiet, it’s not been inactive and today we’re moving into the next phase of outreach. Follow our news feeds and signup for updates for the latest announcements.

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Is the Pope Catholic? Maybe Not!

RLI NEWS – Jerusalem, Israel. Recent Biblical and archaeological evidence now confirms that Jesus was, in fact, Jewish. For approximately 2000 years, followers of this first century Rabbi were apparently unaware that their leader was Jewish. This amazing discovery was made by Dr. Hadassah Hillel of the Zion Historical Research Institute. When asked about the discovery, Dr. Hillel explained, “It wasn’t that difficult to figure out. Both his parents were Jewish going back many generations. He grew up in a Jewish community, and after he was of age, he continued to attend Synagogue and pursue Judaism as an adult. So, he was not only Jewish by birth, but someone who chose Judaism as a way of life. It’s hard to believe nobody noticed this until now.”

Is the Pope Catholic? Maybe not! Apparently the Vatican was aware that Jesus was Jewish, but did not make the information public. This would explain why the Pope and other Catholic leaders wear a Yarmulke (Jewish head covering) as seen in the photos below. Representatives of various Protestant and Catholic organizations have now made official statements apologizing for the oversight.

Jews who were in the process of converting to Christianity are being told to return to Synagogue, while many devout Christians are now in the process of converting to Judaism out of respect for their Jewish leader. “It’s all very confusing,” exclaimed one Baptist minister. Rabbi Ariel Cohen has seen his congregation increase dramatically, “It’s really quite amazing. Jews who had left Synagogue to join churches are returning to Synagogue and bringing their Christian friends with them.”

A professor of Hebrew at a local university commented, “Part of my rejection of Jesus at any level was because he didn’t seem to do much for Judaism or Jewish community. Historically his followers have been indifferent or even hostile toward Judaism. That’s not a very good track record for someone who wants to be the Messiah of the Jewish people. It will be interesting to see what develops in light of this recent discovery.”

The North American based organization Jesus for Judaism was also instrumental in this discovery.

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The news story above, while based mostly on true events and facts, is fictitious. It presents the general points about the Jewish faith of Jesus from a humorous perspective.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Paula Fredriksen

Paula Fredriksen, a Professor in the Department of Religion at Boston University, has written an excellent article on the collective conceptual transformation of Jesus. An excerpt from the article is below. Hopefully sufficient to entice you to read the full article on the Jewish Review of Books website. You can learn more about Paula Fredriksen in the Spring 2009 Bostonian interview with her.

Arguments over who has the authority to interpret traditions of Shabbat observance. Reprimands for bad behavior when food appears after community service. Boasting of accomplishments in Jewish education. Concern over the proper size of tefillin. Discussion of the holidays, both minor (Hanukkah) and major (Pesach, Sukkot, Shavuot). Collecting funds in the diaspora to send back to Jerusalem. Endless infighting over the correct way to be Jewish. Sound familiar? It’s all in the New Testament.

An anthology of 1st-century Jewish texts written in Greek, the New Testament provides some of the best evidence we have from (and for) the rough-and-tumble days of Judaism in the late Second Temple period. The intrinsic Jewishness of the New Testament—and that of its two prime figures, Jesus and Paul—has long been obscured because of two simultaneous and linked accidents of history: the rise of Gentile Christianity and of Rabbinic Judaism.

As with Gentile Christianity, so with Rabbinic Judaism: both asserted, very loudly, that though Jesus may have been a Jew, he was a special sort of anti-Jew. (Paul had a more checkered career, either as the ultimate apikoros or, in some Jewish retellings, a secret agent of the high priest working to ensure that something as outlandish as Christianity would flourish only among the goyim.) The anti-Jewish rhetoric of the Christian churches in late antiquity helped to produce long centuries of sporadic violence. Yet, at those times in Western history when Christian scholars availed themselves of Jewish learning, there came moments of fleeting recognition: the gospels tell a Jewish tale. [More…]

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The article quoted above is What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Paula Fredricksen published in Jewish Review of Books.

Kosher Jesus by Shmuley Boteach

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Kosher Jesus is a project of more than six years research and writing. The book seeks to offer to Jews and Christians the real story of Jesus, a wholly observant, Pharisaic Rabbi who fought Roman paganism and oppression and was killed for it.

While many Christians will be confused by its assertion that Jesus never claimed divinity and not only did not abrogate the Torah but observed every letter of the Law, they will find comfort in my tracing most of Jesus principal teachings back to Jewish sources, this before he was stripped of his Jewishness by later writers who sought to portray him as an enemy of his people. This is especially true of Jesus’ most famous oration, the Sermon on the Mount, which is a reformulation of the Torah he studied and to which he was committed. A small sampling: Jesus: (Matt 5:5) Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Hebrew Bible: (Psalms 37) The meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace. Jesus: (Matt 5:8) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see G-d. Hebrew Bible: (Psalms 24) Who shall ascend the mount of the Lord the pure-hearted. Jesus: (Matt 5:39) But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Hebrew Bible: (Lamentations 3:30) Let him offer his cheek to him who smites him…. Jesus: (Matt 6:33) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Hebrew Bible: (Psalms 37:4) Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Jesus: (Matt 7:7) Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. Hebrew Bible: (Jer 29:13) When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart. Jesus: (Matt 7:23) Then I will declare to them, I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers. Hebrew Bible: (Psalms 6:9) Depart from me, all you workers of evil…

The book is also for Jews who remain deeply uncomfortable with Jesus because of the Church s long history of anti-Semitism, the deification of Jesus, and the Jewish rejection of any Messiah who has not fulfilled the Messianic prophecies. We Jews will forever reject the divinity of any man, the single most emphatic prohibition of our Bible. And we can never accept the Messiahship of any personality, however noble or well-intended, who died without ushering in the age of physical redemption. But as Christians and Jews now come together to love and support the majestic and humane Jewish state, it s time that Christians rediscover the deep Jewishness and religious Jewish commitment of Jesus, while Jews reexamine a lost son who was murdered by a brutal Roman state who sought to impose Roman culture and rule upon a tiny yet stubborn nation who will never be severed from their eternal covenant with the G-d of Israel.

Kosher Jesus, on the other hand, represents a sort of vernacular translation of the work of the late English scholar Hyam Maccoby. For Maccoby the synoptic gospels’ accounts were thin contrivances through which one can still glimpse the real Jesus, a man who adhered fully to Jewish law and who sought, above all, the deliverance of his people from servitude to the Romans. What Boteach has gleaned from Maccoby’s work he has blended with his own thoughts on Vatican II; the charge of deicide; the Romans (Romans liked war; Jews, however, liked peace); the true meaning of the gospels; America; modern evangelicals; and much, much more. [Source]

Daniel Boyarin’s The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ

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In July 2008 a front-page story in the New York Times reported on the discovery of an ancient Hebrew tablet, dating from before the birth of Jesus, which predicted a Messiah who would rise from the dead after three days. Commenting on this startling discovery at the time, noted Talmud scholar Daniel Boyarin argued that “some Christians will find it shocking—a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology.”

Guiding us through a rich tapestry of new discoveries and ancient scriptures, The Jewish Gospels makes the powerful case that our conventional understandings of Jesus and of the origins of Christianity are wrong. In Boyarin’s scrupulously illustrated account, the coming of the Messiah was fully imagined in the ancient Jewish texts. Jesus, moreover, was embraced by many Jews as this person, and his core teachings were not at all a break from Jewish beliefs and teachings. Jesus and his followers, Boyarin shows, were simply Jewish. What came to be known as Christianity came much later, as religious and political leaders sought to impose a new religious orthodoxy that was not present at the time of Jesus’s life.

In the vein of Elaine Pagels’s The Gnostic Gospels, here is a brilliant new work that will break open some of our culture’s most cherished assumptions.

Boyarin is a scholar of Talmud at University of California, Berkeley; Boteach is a media personality and popular author whose website identifies him as “America’s Rabbi.” The intellectual muscle mass of the two works corresponds accordingly. Their common goal seems to be to take what, as a Christian datum, seems very strange and foreign to Jews, and then to prove that this datum is in fact profoundly and/or originally Jewish.

For Boyarin, that datum is Christian theology about the divinity of Jesus. In his book’s four chapters he brings together an assemblage of (canonical and non-canonical) ancient Jewish texts well known to scholars and juxtaposes these to aspects of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. (A much briefer sample of his technique is available in his essay on Logos/memra and the Gospel of John in The Jewish Annotated New Testament.)

Boyarin’s premise and conclusion is that ideas of radically divine mediation figure prominently in all of these late Second Temple texts, not just the “Christian” ones. The authors of the gospels—and maybe Jesus himself, though Boyarin proposes this rather than argues it—were thinking with these ideas when they framed their teachings. The Jewish Gospels concludes by inviting the reader to place gospel traditions of Jesus’ divinity “within the Jewish textual and intertextual world, the echo chamber of a Jewish soundscape of the 1st century.” [Source]

Welcome to Jesus for Judaism!

The Jesus for Judaism project began in the late 20th century as an online research initiative to explore and promote the Jewishness and Jewish faith of Jesus.

From very small beginnings, today, the Jesus for Judaism movement has grown. This new website has been established to accommodate the growing interest in and support of the movement.

Jewish Heritage of Christians

(Note: This is an early writing on the topic of overlap between Judaism and Christianity. It’s provided here for reference purposes.)

INTRODUCTION

The text below discusses the importance of our Jewish roots and heritage as Christians. In summary, the essay proposes that Judaism and Christianity are not incompatible and that if someone is of Jewish heritage and culture, they should not be made to convert to a “Christian Religion” that attempts to strip them of their Jewish identity.

THE ESSENSE OF CHRISTIANITY

Christianity at its core is not a religion. It is about having a relationship with Jesus Christ, in which, hopefully, He is honored, respected and given authority over one’s life (accepted as Lord). Religion, if anything, threatens to replace our relationship with Jesus. The New Testament has very little to say about religion apart from this verse, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” [James 1:27 NIV] In fact, the word religion only occurs five times in the entire Bible and that is limited to the New Testament.

JEWISH FAITH

It is entirely possible to live as a Jew, in fact, to be a Jew, while believing in Jesus Christ as Messiah. The Apostle Paul was offended at the suggestion that his beliefs and lifestyle were anything but Jewish (see Acts 24:14-15). He believed that his hope in Messiah was central to his Jewish faith. Many of the early believers in Jesus were, in fact, Jewish or converts to Judaism who saw Jesus as the Messiah who was written of by the prophets.

CAUSE FOR ALARM

There is a disturbing trend in the church away from the life and teachings found in the first century family of Christians. We are drifting away from some important aspects of our Jewish roots and heritage.

TO BE LIKE JESUS

To be more like Jesus, it would be reasonable to eat broiled fish, visit Synagogue regularly, observe the Jewish feasts and Holy Days, study Hebrew, honor Saturday as the Sabbath beginning Friday evening, drink Kosher wine from Israel, refer to the Hebrew calendar, have Deuteronomy 11:20 and other scriptures nailed to door frames, not eat unclean foods, and try to observe the Old Testament laws. One’s beliefs can be Evangelical Christian, yet be living somewhat Jewish.

Ananias is an example of a Christian who lives like a Jew: “He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews.” [Acts 22:12 NIV]

ON BEING JEWISH

“…a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God. What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.” [Romans 2:29-3:2 NIV] “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” [Romans 9:4-5 NIV]

GIVING TO THE JEWS

“if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.” [Romans 15:27 NIV]

ABRAHAM IS THE FATHER OF US ALL

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring — not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” [Romans 4:16 NIV] “So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” [Galatians 3:9 NIV]

DO NOT BE ARROGANT, BUT BE AFRAID

“Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree! I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’” [Romans 11:20-27 NIV]

CITIZENS WITH ISRAEL — MEMBERS OF ONE BODY

“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (that done in the body by the hands of men) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” [Ephesians 2:11-13 NIV] “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” [Ephesians 2:19-20 NIV] “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” [Ephesians 3:6 NIV]

OBSERVERS OF THE LAW

“I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets…” [Acts 24:14 NIV] “I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple…” [Acts 25:8 NIV] “… the requirements of the law are written …” on the hearts of the Gentiles. [Romans 2:15 NIV] “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” [Romans 2:13 NIV] “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” [Romans 3:31 NIV] “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more…” [Romans 5:20 NIV] “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.” [Romans 7:12 NIV] “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.” [Romans 7:14 NIV] Regarding the law, it is written in James 4:11, “… When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.”

THE ABSENSE OF THE LAW IS LAWLESSNESS

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” [1 John 3:4 NIV] “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders…” [2 Thessalonians 2:9 NIV]

REGARDING THE CUSTOMS OF MOSES

In the scripture, those who claim that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a threat to the customs of Moses are false witnesses: “They produced false witnesses, who testified, ‘This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.’ ” [Acts 6:13-14 NIV] Speaking against the Temple or The Law is not part of the Gospel message.

SALVATION THROUGH WORKS AND LEGALISM? NO!

I’m not saying that “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” [Acts 15:1 NIV] Nor am I trying “to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?” [Acts 15:10 NIV] Regarding The Law, I stand with Paul and say, ” ‘Everything is permissible’ — but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’ — but not everything is constructive.’ ” [1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV] So I’m not yoked to the law but have taken up the yoke of Christ. While I feel totally free in the grace of salvation, I see there are many aspects to The Law that are beneficial and constructive. After all, it was Jesus who said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:17-20 NIV]

WHAT ABOUT THE LAND OF ISRAEL?

Regarding Israel (the political geographical location), the scripture has much to say about it. I believe that God can set apart a people, time or place as Holy. I believe Saturday is a day that has been set apart (like a geographical place in time) by God as blessed and Holy. [Gen. 2:3] I believe the scripture indicates that Israel as a place has been set apart by God as blessed and Holy. It seems like 8,000 square miles is a fairly small plot of land compared to the 3.7 million square miles of land we have here in the United States. The land for peace agreements don’t sound like a very good deal. They remind me of our arrangement with the Native Americans. As I recall that didn’t go too well for them either. I would think that since the Jewish people have roots in that region that date back to the time of King David and Solomon, earlier than the 10th century B.C., that they would have rights to the land.

WHAT ABOUT THE HEAVENLY ISRAEL?

When I think of Israel, I think of a heavenly country. [Hebrews 11:16] I think of present day Jewish people who are walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. I believe the whole earth has the potential to become an Israel — that the people and the land of this earth will one day, perhaps gradually, maybe suddenly, become citizens of a God ordained Israel.

WHAT, THEN, OF CHRISTIANITY?

In summary, I believe our Christianity will, like the early church, be a blend of Jew and Gentile. [Gal. 3:28] “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” [Galatians 6:15 NIV] “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” [2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV] If we are not already Jewish by birth, we may very well be Jewish by re-birth.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, let’s do all we can to promote Jesus as Lord (one who walked as a Jew while on this earth) without becoming arrogant (Romans 11:20), offensive or anti-Semitic. I welcome any comments or feedback you might have.