One Rabbi’s Response

Question to the Rabbi: “How come, if Jesus Christ was Jewish [or so I have heard], do the Christians take him on as their “founder” [or something like that]?” [January, 2000]

Answer: “You ask a wonderful question. In fact, it is often shocking to Christian groups to play out the full implications of this statement. They know that Jesus was Jewish… but play it out… this means that the religion that Jesus practiced… was Judaism. That, in fact, he did not eat shrimp. That he had a bar mitzvah (well, or he would have, had the ceremony been invented by then, which it was not). That he, ahem, didn’t celebrate Christmas (except maybe as his birthday). Christianity, then, is NOT the religion OF Jesus (as so many Christians think it to be) but the religion ABOUT Jesus, which is an entirely different matter. The real historical answer to your question is that the very early Christians were Jews who followed this man as a teacher, but who later focused more and more on the man over even the message. With Paul … the new group was transformed from people who still tried to use the Torah as a way of life, to those who viewed the “Old Testament” only as a book of predictions for the coming of the Messiah. And that break, and the fact that Christians concentrated so much on the messenger as well as the message, is really how a Jewish teacher wound up as the founder of another faith.” – Rabbi Michael (last name withheld for privacy).