Thursday, 31 October 2013

Pauline Conspiracy: Examining the claims of Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal 3

Let us carry on with our refutation of Yisroel Blumenthal in the claims that he makes about Paul. He posed the question that "If the Jewish Christians suspected Paul of lying with his mouth, why would they be so naive to think that he could he not lie with his actions?" which I have already covered. But now onto his next point.

"The more likely explanation is that the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem could not care less what it was that Paul believed in his heart. What they wanted with this public demonstration was an act of repudiation of his teaching. They wanted to make clear, that in the presence of the disciples of Jesus, Paul did not have the backbone to stand for his own principles. This was not to be a demonstration of loyalty, it was to stand as a public renunciation of Pauline Christianity."

No, it was a demonstration of loyality to the Torah. To accuse Paul of lacking a spine against the apostles backtracks against the fact that Paul did confront Peter for his mishandling of the Gospel. Now that is one with a backbone, confronting an apostle when he made a mistake. Paul was not one who tolerated compromise at all. To accuse the Jewish Christians of wanting to make it clear that Paul had no spine when speaking with the apostles, is simply a false statement by Blumenthal.

"Whether you believe that this activity on the part of Paul was to serve as a demonstration of loyalty, or you feel as I do, that this was a forced retraction, there are several questions that the author of Acts leaves unanswered. Of all the activities proscribed by the law of Moses, why did James choose a Temple rite for this public presentation? If the only purpose of this demonstration was to reassure the Jewish Christians that Paul was loyal to the law, a public act of observance of any point in the law would have served. Furthermore, we must ask ourselves, why was this particular Temple rite chosen by James? Why did it have to be a Nazirite offering? Why would a simple burnt offering not have served the same purpose? It is clear that nothing less than a Nazirite offering on the part of Paul would satisfy the Jerusalem Christians. Why not?
The answer is staring us in the face. A Nazirite offering includes a sacrifice that is offered for the explicit purpose of the expiation of sin (Numbers 6:14). Paul’s central teaching is that the only valid method of expiating sin is through the blood of Jesus. The Jewish Christians did not accept this teaching. They believed that the Law of Moses provided for the expiation of sin through various methods including the offering of animals in the Temple for this purpose. When Paul would participate in this rite, he would be publicly repudiating his own teaching on the matter."

This is already answered in my article on Acts 21: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/response-to-yisroel-blumenthal-on-acts.html
Then of course Blumenthal is once again not satisfied with some responses Christians have given, although when this and the other articles had been posted for the first time, he hasn't read them yet. Anyway onto his points.

"Some Christians have argued that these offerings on the part of the Jewish Christians would not serve as a repudiation of Pauline Christianity. These offerings were understood to be pointing back to the sacrifice of Jesus. This explanation fails for several reasons. First, the offerings were to be processed by the non-Christian Temple establishment. The priests who processed the offerings would have understood them as Moses explains: that these offerings themselves atoned for sin. The concept that the sacrifices no longer atoned stands as a polar opposite of the soul and spirit of the Temple establishment. The idea of handing offerings to these people as an expression of loyalty to Christian doctrine is flatly ridiculous."

The Levites if they were unbelievers wouldn't even care about what Paul taught. The argument offered by Christians here still stands, Why? Because Paul knew what he was teaching was not repudiated by James. IT IS IRRELEVANT what the unbelievers attitude to the teaching of the atonement was.

"The second reason that this Christian explanation does not work is because this act was meant as a public demonstration. Paul was not given an opportunity to explain his actions. He was simply to go into the Temple and participate in this offering for the expiation of sin. James trusted that the onlookers would fully understand the message that is inherent in these actions. How would the Jerusalem crowds have understood this message? There is no question that these people would have read the message of Paul’s actions as an affirmation of the efficacy of the Temple sacrifices. No one ever taught these people a different understanding of the sacrifices. The entire concept of “sacrifices pointing back to Jesus” was invented recently under polemical pressure. This concept is not mentioned anywhere in the Christian scriptures or in the writings of any Christian theologian until recently. We can be sure that this concept was not popular currency in the Jerusalem Church of James."

Invented by who? and when? By Paul? Jesus himself said he came to give his life as a ransom for many, which is found in Mark 10:45 and Matthew 20:28. Jesus DID teach his death was a vicarious atonement, which he taught to the apostles, Paul has it revealed to him AND GOES TO CHECK WITH THE APOSTLES THEMSELVES. Furthermore, Let's turn Blumenthal's arguments against him.

He believes in the concept of the Oral Torah, yet this concept is not mentioned anywhere in the TANAKH, let alone the NT writings. Blumenthal may reject what I have to say regarding Paul's teaching going back to Jesus, but by his own criteria. Let's have a conspiracy hypothesis of my own.
Why should I accept this idea of an oral Torah going back to Moses which was convieniently written down AFTER the time of Jesus? I could easily say that the Rabbis invented this concept, thus is a later invention under polemical pressure. Blumenthal can say otherwise and give an explaination but then I can try to refute his point.

"Finally, this explanation (the sacrifices pointed back to Jesus) fails to explain why the members of the JerusalemChurch saw in this act of Paul a declaration of loyalty to the principles they held so dear. Why would this act stand as a symbol of their zeal for the Law?
Let us summarize what we have learned. Paul claimed that no living person taught him anything. He claimed that the teachings that Jesus imparted during his lifetime were meant for the Jews, while the teachings that Paul learned in his visions were meant for the gentiles. Paul accuses the Jewish followers of Jesus for failing to respect this division and attempting to influence the gentiles. Paul tells us that there were people who were very influential in the Church who preached a different gospel than his own. Despite the fact that Paul’s disciples redacted the synoptic gospels, it is still difficult to find a clear Pauline statement attributed to Jesus in these books. The book of Acts makes clear that the JerusalemChurch never acknowledged Paul’s claim to prophecy. The book of Acts also makes clear that there were deep differences between Paul and the members of the JerusalemChurch. (There is more to discuss here, such as the tone and the emphasis of the book of James, the fact that the Jewish disciples of Jesus were shocked by his death, and the fact that the Church of James was allowed to flourish in Pharisaic Jerusalem, but the discussion has already become too lengthy.)".

These bottom points have been addressed in previous articles:
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/pauline-conspiracy-examining-claims-of.html
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/pauline-conspiracy-examining-claims-of_30.html

Also, Paul's act would show that the rumours about him telling the Jews to abandon the Torah was a rumour. Simple as that.

"We have an abundance of evidence that Paul, and not Jesus, was the inventor of Christianity. How does Brown deal with this accusation? In the thirteen pages that Brown devoted to this subject, there are only a few sentences that deal with the issues we raised here. On page 201 Brown tells us that Paul was “recognized as a key player by the other key leaders in Acts 15″. Brown does not explain how the description of the author of Acts contradicts Paul’s own version of the event. Brown also does not tell us that the episode as described in Acts makes clear that the leaders of the JerusalemChurch did NOT accept Paul’s claim to prophecy."

I have already showed in the previous articles that the point about Paul's prophecy was NOT an important point at the council and that the apostles accepted him in Acts 14, in the very book that Blumenthal quotes to demonstrate his point. The articles above also cover the "contradictions" between Paul and Luke's accounts.

"Brown tells us that Paul “dispelled any doubts about his teachings and personal practices in Acts 21″ (page 201). This is quite a bizarre statement. The story in Acts 21 reveals the deep friction that existed between all of the Jewish believers and Paul. The JerusalemChurch saw the core of their differences in the Temple offerings. And Brown is satisfied with the pat assurance that Paul “dispelled any doubts”?! Why was there this deep distrust between Paul and the JerusalemChurch? Why were the members of the JerusalemChurch busy with Temple offerings after the crucifixion of Jesus? Why could Paul not reassure the Jewish believers with a simple speech? Why did James and Peter not reassure their own followers? Why did Paul have to do it? Why were the members of the JerusalemChurch so zealous for the Law of Moses? Brown does not seem to have answers for these questions."

Don't actions speak louder than words? What's amazing is that Jews often emphasise the deeds of a man. Surely that principle of Paul's ACTIONS would speak louder than his words? There is a certain hypocrisy in this section of the article by Blumenthal.

"Brown tells us that Paul “passed on what he received”. Brown does not make clear to his readership that when Paul says the word “received” he does not mean that he received the teaching from the Jewish disciples of Jesus, but rather, that he personally received these teachings in visions from the dead Jesus."

This point about the "dead" Jesus giving Revelation to Paul has already been covered. Also, Keith Thompson on his article regarding the apostleship of Paul says the following:

"Disinterested Comment about James
We can know Paul was a reliable true Apostle because of his disinterested comment about the Apostle James in Galatians 1:19:

“18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother.” (Galatians 1:18-19)

Notice the disinterested off the cuff remark from Paul about James. The point is if Paul was a false Apostle inventing stories we would not expect him to just mention James in passing without making a point. The fact that Paul merely mentions James in this off the cuff way persuades historians that Paul is trustworthy showing that he wasn’t out to merely prove he was an Apostle with fanciful detailed stories, but that he was actually recalling real events about his association with the early church and Apostles.

Paul’s Gospel in the 1 Corinthians 15 Apostles Creed is the original Gospel

We can know Paul was a genuine Apostle preaching the original Gospel because his 1 Corinthians 15 Creed, which he received very early from the Apostles (Peter and James), is dated very closely to the time of Jesus’ crucifixion by scholarship which shows that Paul’s message was not some later innovation. The creed states:

“3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

Here Paul reminds the Corinthian church that this Gospel message or creed which he previously preached to them orally was first given to him. It is important to note that Paul mentions that he received this creed before giving it to them. The 1st century evidence demonstrates that Paul received this creed from Peter and James around A.D. 35 in Jerusalem. This demonstrates that Paul’s Gospel (Jesus’ sacrifice for sins, the resurrection and appearances) was not some later corruption but that it goes right back to the beginning – coming from the original Apostles who walked with Jesus. I will demonstrate this by constructing a timeline based on the early data."
I highly recommend this article to you guys, as well as the documentary that Keith has put together, considering the length of legwork he has done with respect to the issue of Paul:
http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/thompson/paul-historical.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qz-2eDaQlzI

"Brown tells us that “with the exception of some heretical groups (like the Ebionites), Paul’s teachings were received by the second generation of believers, including men who were disciples of the original apostles (such as Polycarp).” I find this sentence quite astounding. Brown tells us nothing about the deep opposition to Paul from within the Church in his own lifetime. This opposition came straight from Jerusalem, the place where Jesus lived and taught. Instead Brown is satisfied to pass on to his readers a piece of Christian mythology. None of the original Hebrew and Aramaic writings of the Jewish disciples of Jesus and their subsequent followings survived the blind fury of the Pauline Church. All of the writings we have from the early Christians were either written or redacted by the gentile followers of Paul. The writings of the early Church fathers tell us precious little about the life and teachings of the Jewish disciples of Jesus. There is one association that Brown and other fundamentalist Christians seize upon. Polycarp! It is claimed that Polycarp was a disciple of John. Polycarp died approximately in the year 160 C.E. If he ever saw John, it could only have been at a time that he was a small boy and John was an old man. Polycarp does not quote John. He does not tell us anything about the life and teachings of John. The entire claim of Polycarp’s discipleship of John, is at best, an exaggeration of a brief sighting in his youth."

Paul had opposition in his day, he mentions this in his letters, again, They were FALSE CHRISTIANS who attacked Paul, NOT the apostles. In this article: http://www.tektonics.org/ntdocdef/johndef.html, Tetonics.org has suggested the following and the quotes I have highlighted in italics are the key points:

"Against the identification of this person with the apostle John, Kümmel objects:
It is unclear that Polycarp is referring to the apostle John. Some have suggested that there is a confusion between the apostle John and a later disciple named John in Polycarp's statement [Stree.4G, 434]. However, Robinson [Robin.PJ, 102-3; see also Gund.Mk, 1027ff] makes the following points:

  • The issue is that a "John" is mentioned twice in a statement by Eusebius, referring back to Papias, once in a list of "elders"/"Lord's disciples" (along with Matthew, Peter, Thomas, etc) and immediately thereafter, once paired with an "Aristion" and named as "John the Elder" who are "disciples of the Lord." But Robinson notes that it is Eusebius who "introdudes the distinction" between apostles and elders; Papias calls all of the people elders.
  • Eusebius had a specific interest in finding two Johns in the list: He desired to attribute Revelation to another person besides the apsotle, following Dionysius of Alexanrdia.
  • The order of words in the listing with Aristion is not "John the elder" but "the elder John" which can be understood to mean "the aforementioned John" in the previous list.
  • The purpose of the listing of John twice is that Papias is distinguishing between a list of those he conferred with long ago, and those who were still alive. Only John among the apostles was still in this class at the time of Papias.

Polycarp makes no appeal in his epistles to a relationship with an apostle. This is an argument from silence, and assumes that we have all of Polycarp's extant material and that there was a need for such an appeal, a most gratuitous assumption especially from a high-context document and society in which such background facts if true would be taken for granted. Blomberg [Blom.Jn, 24] notes that Polycarp's epistle is exhortational in nature and thus has no place for direct appeal to John's Gospel or John himself."

This covers that section regarding Polycarp.

"If you are a Christian, I beg of you, please absorb what you have just read. The accusation that Paul invented Christianity has deep foundations in the Christian scriptures and in the history of the early Church. Dr. Brown, who is a very capable person (and I do not mean this sarcastically), could not provide a defense against this accusation aside from four hollow sentences. So what is the basis of your faith?"

Yet the quotations provided by Blumenthal were grossly taken out of context. This Pauline Conspiracy has been shredded for a long time. Any accusation that Jesus and Paul taught 2 different things, is simply an unwillingness to read the context.


I hope these articles regarding the Pauline conspiracy have helped and I hope you may find them useful.

Answering Judaism.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Pauline Conspiracy: Examining the claims of Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal 2

Well folks here is some more responding to the claims of Yisroel Blumenthal again, let's take a look at them shall we?

"The book of Acts was written by a follower of Paul. It is clear that he was motivated to present a picture in which Paul and the Jewish followers of Jesus agreed on the fundamental issues. The story that the book of Acts relates is quite different than Paul’s version of the events."

To those who have been reading my responses to Blumenthal, Didn't he already claim that Acts 21 has the Jewish Believers and James telling Paul to repudiate the idea that Jesus was a final sacrifice? Now he saying the writer presented a picture of Paul and the Jewish followers agreeing on the fundamentals. He has completely shot his own thesis in the foot. Question, Did the writer make it seem Paul was in agreement? or is the text clear Paul's teaching was wrong? You can't have it both ways.

"When Paul speaks of his own conversion, he finds it important to tell us that “straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up toJerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days” (Galatians 1:16,17,18).
But when the book of Acts describes the same events we get an entirely different picture. No word is mentioned of a trip to Arabia. Paul spends time with the disciples in Damascus, then he preaches in Damascus. It is then told that he arrives in Jerusalem where the Christians were not convinced of the sincerity of Paul’s conversion to the degree that they were afraid of him. (This gives the impression that it was much less than three years between Paul’s conversion and his arrival in Jerusalem.) But Barnabas reassures the apostles and Paul was “with them going in and going out at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:28)."

The trip to Arabia was probably not a relevant point when Luke was writing his book. Paul is speaking of his own testimony in his letter to the Galatians and what he did when Jesus came to him. Blumenthal does admit this "contradiction" can be reconciled, but in the next paragraph he asks his audience regarding the bigger picture.

"I am well aware that all of these contradictions can be reconciled by agile minds. But there is a deeper question to be asked. Why the differences? Why does Paul consider it of utmost importance to tell us of his trip to Arabia, of the three-year period that elapses before he comes to Jerusalem, and of the fact that he saw none of the apostles aside from Peter and James? Why does Paul start out his post-conversion story by telling us that “he conferred not with flesh and blood”? And why does the author of Acts regard these same facts to be so insignificant that the picture he paints leaves us with the opposite impression?"

For the reasons I gave above, It is not something that Luke was concerned with. Luke doesn't need to record everything that Paul did. In fact Paul's later execution is not recorded in the Book of Acts either.

"It is clear that the author of the book of Acts was motivated to present Paul’s preaching as a smooth progression from the preaching of the other apostles. Paul, on the other hand, was motivated to show that his preaching is from a source that is superior to the preaching of the other apostles. It was not important to Paul to show a smooth progression. It was enough for Paul to tell us of a begrudging acknowledgment of his preaching by the apostles who saw the live Jesus."

Where is Blumenthal getting this conspiracy from? Luke is not claiming any superiority of Paul or supremacy of him. Also, Why would Luke be motivated to present a false view of Paul if he knew that Paul was a fraud? The conspiracy theory doesn't work. As I mentioned in my previous paper, Ignatius and Polycarp would not side with Paul if they knew he was a false apostle, it's the same thing with Luke. Why would they invent this story if they knew in their hearts that Paul was some uspurper of the church? This isn't Shabbatai Tsvi we are dealing with, this is the apostles of Christ we are tackling. In fact ha-Yakini was guilty of forging a document to try and prove the Messiahship of Tszi

For info about this incident with ha-Yakini, read here the following article: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13480-shabbethai-zebi-b-mordecai

"The story that Paul tells us in Galatians 2;7-9 is also roundly contradicted by the author of Acts. Paul claims that the leaders of the JerusalemChurch “saw that I had been intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter with [the gospel] of the circumcision”. Paul is claiming that these men recognized that the dead Jesus had spoken to him and authorized him to teach just as the live Jesus had spoken to Peter and authorized Peter to preach in his name.
The book of Acts tells us that no such acknowledgment ever took place. In chapter 15 of the book of Acts we are told that when a question arose concerning gentile observance of the Law, Peter and James speak and present their understanding of the matter. If, as Paul claimed, Peter and James truly acknowledged Paul’s apostleship, they should have simply said; Jesus appointed Paul as an apostle to the gentiles, let us obey him. According to the book of Acts, they did nothing of the sort. Furthermore, the book of Acts describes the last meeting between James and Paul, and again the issue of gentile observance comes up, and again James makes reference to the previous decision of the Jerusalem Church and says not a word about Paul’s apostleship (Acts 21:25)."

Why should he mention Paul's apostleship? It wasn't even an issue that James raised in Acts 21 to begin with. Acts 14 already shows Paul was accepted by the apostles, Again, I ask, Did the writer make it seem Paul was in agreement? or is the text clear Paul's teaching was wrong? Which is it? Blumenthal is going back and forth between these options judging by what I am reading. I am amazed. Anyway, there is no contradiction, it's simply Blumenthal forcing something onto the text that is simply not there.

"Another revealing episode is described in chapter 21 of the book of Acts. Paul arrives in Jerusalem and is informed by James that “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of them that have believed; and they are all zealous for the law. and they have been informed concerning thee, that thou teachest all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children neither to walk after the customs.What is it therefore? They will certainly hear that thou art come.” (Acts 21:20-22).
According to James, all the Jewish Christians are zealous for the law. The word that James uses (zealous), implies ardor, enthusiasm, passion and excitement. Is this Pauline Christianity? Which Christian denomination encourages Jewish people to be “zealous for the law”?"

Er.. Gentiles were not required to keep certain ordinances of the Torah, only the moral minus the death penalty. I have already covered this issue of what laws Gentiles follow in this article: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/examination-of-some-arguments-raised-by.html

There is no question that the Jewish Christians kept the Torah, I have no problem with this personally. If a Messianic Jew wants to keep the Torah because they believe it pleases the Lord and they are convinced in their conscience, then that's ok. It's only if they have the attitude of the Judaizers I have a problem because they are forcing it on others. If they keep it to themselves that's fine. Romans 14 speaks on this issue of food, as does Colossians 2:16, I am NOT to act as their judge if they feel that keeping certain ordinances honors their Messiah. As long as they are not Judaizers, I will not confront them.

"According to James, it is not the JerusalemChurch that oversteps its boundaries by trying to influence the gentiles (as per Galatians 2:14), but it is Paul who is overstepping his boundaries in trying to influence the Jews. The author of the book of Acts gives us the impression that this was a false accusation that was not accepted by James, but he does acknowledge that all the Jewish believers believed this accusation.
The author of the book of Acts does not explicitly tell us how the members of the JerusalemChurch felt about this accusation. But from the little he says, we can understand that this was no friendly misunderstanding. The words “they will certainly hear that thou art come”, imply that the mere fact of Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem will stir up agitation amongst the Jewish Christians. This agitation was not something that could have been settled by James reassuring his following that this was an innocent misunderstanding, and that Paul was truly loyal to the law. The conflict was so deep that a verbal explanation on Paul’s part would also not put the issue to rest. It is clear that the Jewish Christians did not trust Paul’s words."

Where is Blumenthal getting this "overstepping the boundaries" from? Paul was rebuking Peter for not handling the Gospel correctly, Peter was mistaken and CORRECTED by Paul, that's first an foremost. Second, As I pointed out in my article where I respond to Blumenthal on Acts 21, Rumours were spreading about Paul that he was telling the Jews to abandon the Torah, but James told Paul to demonstrate to the Jewish believers that he is NOT abandoning the Law of Moses and put down the rumours. You can find the article here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/response-to-yisroel-blumenthal-on-acts.html

"The only way James could end the conflict was by telling Paul; “Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men that have a vow on them; these take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges for them, that they may shave their heads: and all shall know that there is no truth in the things whereof they have been informed concerning thee; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, keeping the law.” (Acts 21:23,24).
The author of the book of Acts would have us believe that this action on Paul’s part would serve as a declaration of Paul’s true beliefs. Paul’s participation in the Temple rites, would demonstrate to one and all that he was truly loyal to the law of Moses. This explanation fits with the inclination of the author of Acts to minimize the conflict between Paul and the JerusalemChurch. But this explanation is highly unlikely. If this conflict could not be settled through a verbal declaration on Paul’s part, why would a public performance put the accusations to rest? If the Jewish Christians suspected Paul of lying with his mouth, why would they be so naive to think that he could he not lie with his actions?"

They would be satisfied with his actions, not because of naivety but because of Paul proving his very actions. Also the apostles already approved of Paul in the very book Blumenthal quotes. If Blumenthal is going to nitpick the text, there isn't much I can say to persuade him regarding the apostleship of Paul.

If the Lord Wills, more articles regarding this Pauline Conspiracy written by Blumenthal, may put his
arguments to rest.

Answering Judaism.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Pauline Conspiracy: Examining the claims of Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal

This article is going to be the first of a few looking at some of the claims of Yisroel Blumenthal and some of the points he makes about Christianity being invented by Paul and not being consistant with Jesus. Although I have written on the subject of Acts 21 to refute Blumenthal's claims, I want to examine some of the points he claims in his treatise, Supplement to Contra Brown. Any quotes from scripture, Blumenthal and other sources shall be placed in bold.

IV. 11. Objection 5.26
Here Brown attempts to address the argument that it was Paul who invented Christianity as it is known today and not Jesus. Brown responds with the claim that Paul’s teachings are in complete harmony with the teachings of Jesus. Brown states: “The consistent testimony of the New Testament … affirms this point”. This statement is incredible.

The most common conspiracy is trying to pit Jesus against Paul and vice versa, or Jamed and Paul and vice versa. I have seen this tactic among Muslims and Atheists and it's a shame that some of the Rabbinic communities are resorting to this.
You need to read the NT as a whole to see the consistent message running all the way through the books of the NT, which we may get into later.

A simple reading of Paul’s words reveals that Paul himself claimed to be the inventor of Christianity. Christians who want to believe that there was a smooth progression from the Jewish following of Jesus to the gentile following of Paul will find that there is no basis to their belief.

Really? Or is it Rabbi the fact you are not willing to reconcile the "contradictions"? One thing I can say is I can play the same game with the TANAKH, For example God instituted sacrifice, which became a staple part of the Law of Moses, yet if I were take Hosea 3:3-5, 14:1-2, Micah 6:6, Jeremiah 7:22 out of context and say "Well the prophets are contradicting Moses and they invented Judaism", I am sure BLumenthal will say "You have to read in context". If that's the case, thank you I return the complement.

Let us allow Paul to speak for himself. “For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through revelation of Jesus Christ.”(Galatians 1:11,12). Paul is telling us that the gospel that he preached was not taught to him by the disciples of Jesus. Paul is admitting that his gospel was revealed to him in a vision by the deceased Jesus. Paul takes his point a step further. “But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth not man`s person)– they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me: but contrariwise, when they saw that I had been intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter with [the gospel] of the circumcision (for he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision wrought for me also unto the Gentiles); and when they perceived the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision; only [they would] that we should remember the poor; which very thing I was also zealous to do. But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation.” (Galatians 2:6-13).
Let us understand what Paul is saying here. He is telling us that “those of repute” imparted nothing to him. Who are these people “of repute”? Paul tells us in verse 9 that these people of repute were James, Peter (Cephas) and John. In other words the disciples of Jesus taught Paul nothing.

Where do you get that from the text Mr Blumenthal? The apostles were not teaching Paul "nothing", You can read the chapters here:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+1&version=NIV
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%202&version=NIV

In the contexts, Paul goes to the apostles to confirm his Revelation to see if what he had said was accurate and sure enough the apostles not adding to his message would indicate that they declared his message to be reliable and accurate.

Paul takes this a step further by drawing a distinct boundary between himself and the Jewish disciples of Jesus. He tells us that he and they were charged with two different missions. They (the Jewish disciples) were charged to minister to the Jewish people (“unto the circumcision”), while he (Paul) was charged to minister to the gentiles. This means that the teaching that Jesus imparted to his Jewish disciples in his lifetime was meant for the Jewish people, while the teaching that the deceased Jesus imparted to Paul was meant for the gentiles. What this implies is that the disciples of Jesus could teach Paul nothing because they were entrusted with a mission that was apart from his own.

Being sent to the uncircumcised or the circumcised simply refers to whom they were to be ministers to, not to what messages they are to bring with respect the Gospel. The apostles checked Paul's message to be reliable teaching and sent him to the Gentiles, While they themselves administered to the Jews, taking THE SAME message to both.

Paul claims that the Jewish disciples of Jesus acknowledged this division in the gospel. He then criticizes Peter and the Jewish followers of Jesus for violating this accepted boundary. He tells us that Peter and other believers from Jerusalem were trying to influence the gentiles to follow the teachings that were meant for the Jews.

Peter was not handling the Gospel accurately because of the men who approached him. In the book of Acts, Peter is shown a vision from Jesus (Wonder why Blumethal doesn't go after Peter for this), to show that not only certain foods are clean, but Gentiles are also clean. Peter later retracts from the Gentiles to which Paul rebukes him, because he was not handling the Gospel accurately. The men who came to Peter were Judaizers trying to put Gentiles under the Law of Moses, something the Jerusalem Council told not to do, including James funnily enough. Feel free to also check out the following commentaries as well regarding the men from James: http://biblehub.com/galatians/2-12.htm

We can now understand the opening verses in the book of Galatians. “Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead),and all the brethren that are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father: to whom [be] the glory for ever and ever. Amen. I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another [gospel] only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema.” (Galatians 1:1-9).
Paul is surprised that the gentile church of Galatia has so quickly abandoned his teachings. He is informing them that no man or angel has a right to disagree with him because his is the true teaching. Now who were these people that were trying to influence the people in Galatia to disobey Paul? It is clear that these would have been the Jewish disciples of Jesus, whom Paul accuses of duplicity (again – Paul claims that to his face they acknowledged that he had been appointed by the dead Jesus as an emissary to the gentiles, but behind his back they tried to influence the gentiles to follow their own version of the gospel. Remember, Paul accuses Peter; “…how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” Galatians 2:14). Paul does not hide the fact that his teachings were considered false by people who were very influential in the early Church (1Corinthians 9:2, 2Corinthians 11:13).

Blumenthal fails to inform the audience that those who attacked Paul in 1 Corinhtians and 2 Corinthians were false teachers, false brethen, that is evident from the contexts.

1 Corinthians 9:1-6 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas[a]? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

2 Corinthians 11: 11 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.”[a] 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

The apostles as I have already established approved of Paul's message, thus I can boldly say that those in the context of the 2 Corinthian letters that the people going after Paul were false Christians. The Galatians were swayed by the Judaizers into their false teachings and Paul made it clear that if ANY man was not preaching the Gospel of Christ or perverted it, they would be accursed. It is not Paul VS the Apostles at all, that's simply Blumenthal's fantasy, Just as it is the fantasy of Muslim apologists such as Shabir Ali, Osama Abdallah, Sami Zaatari, Bassam Zawadi, Nadir Ahmed, Gerald Dirks, Paul Williams, Ijaz Ahmad and many others. Not to mention it is the fantasy of heretics such as the Ebionites and modern day heretic and false prophet Sherry Shriner.

It should be noted that the writings of the Christian scriptures as we have them today were redacted by the gentile followers of Paul. The original Hebrew (or Aramaic) version of Matthew was destroyed by the gentile followers of Paul. Still, even the Pauline redactors had a difficult job attributing Pauline Christianity to Jesus. In the three Synoptic Gospels there is perhaps one statement attributed to Jesus that is a clear Pauline teaching (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20). The origin of this statement is highly questionable. The last supper of Jesus is the onearea where Paul comments on Jesus’ lifetime activities. Paul explicitly states that he received this teaching directly from the dead Jesus (1Corinthians 11:23). The Pauline redactors of the gospels had what they considered a “reliable” source for this story. There is no reason to assume that there was any other source for this story. When this story is removed from the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus is no longer a Christian.

The last point regarding Jesus not being a Christian is a non argument. Paul may of gotten the message from the Lord regarding the Supper and confirmed it with the apostles or he got it directly from the apostles, Either way, this wouldn't detract from the fact the apostles were on close terms with Paul from Acts 14 onwards. As for a supposed Hebrew or Aramaic version of Matthew, there is not a shred of evidence that Paul or ANY of his followers EVER destroyed either.

Another thing to consider is the attitudes of the Church Fathers, which I shall provide in this article.

Ignatius Letter to the Romans Chapter 4:
4:3 I do not enjoin you, as Peter and Paul did. They
were Apostles, I am a convict; they were free, but I
am a slave to this very hour. Yet if I shall suffer,
then am I a freed-man of Jesus Christ, and I shall
rise free in Him. Now I am learning in my bonds to put
away every desire.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/ignatius-romans-lightfoot.html

Ignatius Letter to the Ephesians Chapter 12:
12:1 I know who I am and to whom I write. I am a
convict, ye have received mercy: I am in peril, ye are
established.
12:2 Ye are the high-road of those that are on their
way to die unto God. Ye are associates in the
mysteries with Paul, who was sanctified, who obtained
a good report, who is worthy of all felicitation; in
whose foot-steps I would fain be found treading, when
I shall attain unto God; who in every letter maketh
mention of you in Christ Jesus.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/ignatius-ephesians-lightfoot.html

Ignatius was a student of the apostle John. Since John got his teaching from Jesus, Ignatius would of been aware of what Jesus taught, even as a Gentile. If Ignatius was convinced that Paul was a usurper and a false brother, he would of warned the apostles themselves, or confront Paul directly. Accusing Ignatius of a conspiracy, as well as Polycarp, also John's pupil, will not work, considering both were willing to go to the grave while acknowledging Paul was a true apostle of Jesus Christ.

Polycarp was also familiar with the Gospel that John presented. If Polycarp was convinced Paul was false, he would take the same actions that Ignatius would of taken as I have mentioned above.

Polycarp says the following in his letter to the Philippians:
Polycarp Letter to the Philippians 3:
Polycarp 3:2
For neither am I, nor is any other like unto me, able to follow the
wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he came among you
taught face to face with the men of that day the word which
concerneth truth carefully and surely; who also, when he was absent,
wrote a letter unto you, into the which if ye look diligently, ye
shall be able to be builded up unto the faith given to you,

Polycarp 3:3
which is the mother of us all, while hope followeth after and love
goeth before--love toward God and Christ and toward our neighbor. For
if any man be occupied with these, he hath fulfilled the commandment
of righteousness; for he that hath love is far from all sin.

Polycarp 11:2
But he who cannot govern himself in these things, how doth he enjoin
this upon another? If a man refrain not from covetousness, he shall
be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the Gentiles
who know not the judgment of the Lord, Nay, know we not, that the
saints shall judge the world, as Paul teacheth?

Polycarp 11:3
But I have not found any such thing in you, neither have heard
thereof, among whom the blessed Paul labored, who were his 
letters in the beginning. For he boasteth of you in all those
churches which alone at that time knew God; for we knew Him not as
yet.

Polycarp 12:1
For I am persuaded that ye are well trained in the sacred writings,
and nothing is hidden from you. But to myself this is not granted.
Only, as it is said in these scriptures, Be ye angry and sin not,
and Let not the sun set on your wrath. Blessed is he that
remembereth this; and I trust that this is in you.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/polycarp-lightfoot.html

I could present more quotes, but I think that pretty much somes up what some of the early fathers think of Paul.

If the Lord Wills, I may address more of Blumenthal's conspiracy against Paul in future articles.

Answering Judaism.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Examination of some arguments raised by "Supplement to Contra Brown" 3

Hello again, this another article looking at some of the objections that Yisroel Blumenthal, the owner of yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com has presented in his treatise Supplement to Contra Brown.

"II. 29. Objection 3:24
Brown addresses the Christian doctrine of a “second coming” of the Messiah. From a Biblical standpoint, the only argument he has presented is the seeming contradiction between Zechariah 9:9, where the Messiah is to come riding on a donkey, and Daniel 7:13, which has the Messiah riding on the clouds. Brown’s solution for this “problem” is that messiah will come twice. Once as a suffering Messiah, in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy, the second time he will come on the clouds in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. The problem with Brown’s “problem” is that Daniel 7:13 says nothing about the Messiah riding on the clouds. The angel himself told Daniel that this was a symbolic image of Israel acquiring the kingdom in the Messianic age (Daniel 7:18,27)."

Yet Rashi himself interprets Daniel 7:13 as a referrence to King Messiah although to preface this Rashi doesn't believe in the Deity of Christ nor does he interpret the Son of Man as divine, that's important to remember. He also doesn't interpret Isaiah 9:6 as Messianic in nature and issues a challenge to Christians on this subject, but that is another story. Point is, Rashi's commentary says the following which can be found here: http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16490/jewish/Chapter-7.htm#showrashi=true
I have highlighted Rashi's points in italics.

"13. I saw in the visions of the night, and behold with the clouds of the heaven, one like a man was coming, and he came up to the Ancient of Days and was brought before Him. יג. חָזֵה הֲוֵית בְּחֶזְוֵי לֵילְיָא וַאֲרוּ עִם עֲנָנֵי שְׁמַיָּא כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ אָתֵה הֲוָא וְעַד עַתִּיק יוֹמַיָּא מְטָה וּקְדָמוֹהִי הַקְרְבוּהִי:
one like a man was coming: That is the King Messiah.
 
and… up to the Ancient of Days: Who was sitting in judgment and judging the nations.
 
came: arrived, reached.
 
14. And He gave him dominion and glory and a kingdom, and all peoples, nations, and tongues shall serve him; his dominion is an eternal dominion, which will not be removed, and his kingdom is one which will not be destroyed. יד. וְלֵהּ יְהִב שָׁלְטָן וִיקָר וּמַלְכוּ וְכֹל עַמְמַיָּא אֻמַּיָּא וְלִשָּׁנַיָּא לֵהּ יִפְלְחוּן שָׁלְטָנֵהּ שָׁלְטַן עָלַם דִּי לָא יֶעְדֵּה וּמַלְכוּתֵהּ דִּי לָא תִתְחַבַּל:
And He gave him dominion: And to that man He gave dominion over the nations, for the heathens he likens to beasts, and Israel he likens to a man because they are humble and innocent.
 
which will not be removed: [as translated,] will not be removed."

Now the Rabbis are not my authority, Let's make that clear and of course the Rabbis interpretation is not always accepted by all Jews, but according to Blumenthal's criteria, Why does Rashi say it's about the Messiah when Blumenthal says "The angel himself told Daniel that this was a symbolic image of Israel acquiring the kingdom in the Messianic age (Daniel 7:18,27)."? Is Rashi mistaken? I won't dispute Israel aquiring the Kingdom in Daniel 7:18, 27 mainly because I have written on the subject of Daniel 7 in this article here:
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/hebrews-and-daniel-contradictions.html

Scroll down to the section with Daniel 7:15-28 to see what I have said about it.
In light of this, Brown's point still stands.

"II. 30. Objection 3.25
Brown claims that Christianity does more than any other religion in humanitarian aid and charity. Perhaps he is technically right. But when judged proportionately, Judaism surpasses Christianity in every area. When you throw history on the balance (before it was fashionable for the Church to help the masses, while the Jews were always charitable) plus the crimes of Christianity, there is no contest. Many of the achievements that Brown lists were opposed or suppressed by the establishmentChurch. Why was the world plunged into the dark ages with the rise of Christianity? Up until the renaissance, Christian Europe was by and large illiterate – thanks to the Church’s fear of knowledge. Despite the fact that the Jews had their hands tied behind their backs (- thanks again to the “compassionate” Church), Jews played a prominent role in developing civilization. When the Church discouraged the practice of medicine (such as at the Council of Rheims 1135), it was the Jew who kept this knowledge alive. A cursory study of history reveals that only when the power of the Church was tempered with a questioning mind (something the Church tried very hard to eradicate), did mankind move towards progress.
Brown’s argument that Christians did more for humanity than adherents of all other religions combined is mitigated by the simple fact that more people were killed in the name of Christianity than in the name of all other religions combined."

This issue comes down to whether Christians in Europe were actually doing what Jesus says, Remember, a council is not infallible and must be checked in light of the scriptures, both TANAKH and the New Testament. Not to mention there is no NT mandate that other people are to be killed in the name of Christ. I should tremble at Jesus' warning in Matthew 7:21-23 considering the number of Christians are in that category.

"II. 31. Page 240
Brown quotes a book entitled “What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?” I want to answer that question. On the whole the world would be a much better place. The Jews, who were always in the forefront of enhancing civilization, would have played a more prominent role in the development of society. They would not have been locked into ghettoes, tens of million more of them would be alive today. The secular sciences would not have been suppressed during the dark ages.
To sum it up: It is only the Judaism within Christianity which brings good to the world. Anything that is originally Christian is evil. It just so happens to be, that because humans are created in the image of God, that the Judaism within Christianity is the part that attracts people to Christianity, and guides people in their quest for holiness."

It is a harsh statement to suggest that "anything that is originally Christian is evil". Despite my rejection of the Talmud, There are things in there that are of good merit, such as the phrase "Great is the power of repentance". Just because of bad eggs in Christianity, you shouldn't throw out the baby with the bath water and should not judge the religion based on it's adherents, but on the basis of their sacred texts.

If Jesus had never been born, I would not hesitate to be influenced by the Jewish people in my thinking, provided they point out to me and demonstrate that being a Celtic Pagan or Druid or whatever the Brits were is wrong. In fact, Considering the fact that Jesus exists, I still would not dismiss what the Jews would say regarding the societies development and that idolatry needs to be purged.

David Pawson, a prominent evangelical in England, has often spoken of the church departing from it's Jewish roots and has encouraged Christians to return to Hebraic thinking. The question shouldn't be "What if Jesus had never been born", the better question should be, "What if the church did not depart from it's Jewish Roots?". That I think is the better question that Blumenthal and Brown should be asking.

"II. 33. Objection 3.28
Brown addresses a serious objection that is raised against Christianity. Brown words the objection this way; “But I find it impossible to believe in a religion that condemns all people to hell – including many moral, good, kind and sensitive people, not to mention countless millions of religious Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists – simply because they don’t believe in Jesus. I can’t follow a religion whose God tortures people in flames forever for not believing in someone they never even heard of.”
Brown does not answer this weighty objection. Brown is not willing to say that God is fair, and that He will not hold anyone accountable for that which they were not capable of doing, or for that which they were not capable of knowing. The Jewish scriptures teach, and Judaism affirms, that God judges every action, both good and bad (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Even the idolater’s positive actions are rewarded by God. But according to Christianity, a person who lived a moral life is condemned to hell if they did not believe in Jesus."

There is no question God judges us by our works, whether we are pagans or not. The problem with Blumenthal's point is that even a prayer of the wicked is abhorrent to God (unless it's a prayer of asking for mercy and wanting to change). An idolater may be a good upstanding person, but if he is not in a relationship with the God of Israel, that goodness will be USELESS. There are cases where a pagan does what is right in God's eyes in the TANAKH but that wouldn't justify their rebellion.
Jesus paid a debt that you and I cannot pay to the Father, the debt of sin. Jesus pays that ransom to the Father to free us from sin and put us into reconciliation with God. Sadly there are so called Christians who reject this and go the way of their church traditions. Without Christ, there is no salvation. Rabbinic Judaism believes that idolaters will acknowledge they have inherited lies and vanities and sadly they apply this to Christians, but putting that aside there is an interesting principle here. A person who does not know the God of Israel be they Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sorcerer, New Ager or any person in a false system that doesn't submit to him will learn they have been deceived and be judged, Even Daniel speaks of men rising to everlasting shame and contempt in Daniel 12:2.

Now obviously I am not saying Christians are the ones who have inherited lies and vanities, that I would disagree with the Rabbinic Jews on obviously. The only ones in Christian circles who have inherited lies and vanity will be heretics and apostates, certainly they would be in that category.

"III. 2. Page 13
“There is nothing in Genesis 49:10 that would rule out Yeshua.”
This prophecy tells us that the Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah. This clearly eliminates the Christian Jesus as a viable candidate for the title of the Jewish Messiah. The Christian scriptures admit that Jesus did not have a Jewish father from the tribe of Judah. That claim is incompatible with the Jewish scriptures description of the Messiah. In order to qualify for the position of the Messiah according to this passage in Genesis you need a human father from the tribe of Judah."

I contend that the virgin birth would not disqualify Jesus. Although Blumenthal doesn't raise Jeconiah's curse as an argument, I would recommend taking a look at the following articles here where I speak of possible inheritance by adoption:

http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/rabbinic-dilemma-101.html

http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/an-addendum-to-rabbinic-dilemma-101.html

http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/rabbinic-dilemma-101-revisited.html

I will leave you guys to judge my words.

"III. 3. Page 23
Here Brown addresses the “virgin birth” prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. Brown acknowledges that the word the prophet used (“alma”) does not mean “virgin”, rather the word refers to a young maiden, whether a virgin or not. Brown puts forth the argument that the Hebrew word “betula” also does not necessarily refer to a virgin, therefore when Isaiah wanted to refer to a virgin the Hebrew word “alma” was just as good as the word “betula”. Brown fails to tell his readers that when the Bible wants to refer to virginity it always uses the Hebrew word “betula” or a grammatical derivative of that word. (See Deuteronomy 22, and Judges 11:37). If the point Isaiah was making was a point about the virginity of the maiden he would have used “betula” and not “alma”.
Furthermore, this simple Hebraic point (the fact that “alma” means a “young maiden”), seems to have escaped the authors of the Christian scriptures. Both Matthew and Luke fail to tell us that Mary was young."

Regarding the last point about Matthew and Luke, Is this supposed to be an argument? It is obvious that Mary certainly would of been young and give birth to Christ at a young age. Some have proposed that Mary was 16 at the time of her pregnancy. What ever the case, the NT writers quoted mostly from the Septuigant and Parthenos was the word utilised in Isaiah 7:14.

"III. 7. Page 43
Brown points to the passage in Isaiah 49 where God’s servant is called “Israel” yet is sent to redeem Israel. Brown argues that this can only be referring to an individual within the nation. According to Brown this individual can only be the Messiah. Brown seems to have forgotten Isaiah 51:12-16 where Israel is being addressed in plural terminology, yet they are sent to declare to Zion that they are God’s nation. It is obvious that the servant who is sent to Israel is not an individual but rather a plural entity. It is the righteous of Israel as Rashi affirms.
It is also interesting to note that this interpretation is supported by the Christian scriptures. Acts 13:47 interprets Isaiah 49:6, which speaks of the individual servant, as a reference to the righteous community."

The NT application of Isaiah 49 wouldn't refute the Messianic application given by Christians. On the contrary, Rabbinic Jews today claim that the Messiah and Israel are found collectively in Isaiah 53, So the same thing would be the case in Isaiah 49. The Messiah is made a light to the nations and so will also those who put their trust in the Messiah. Not to mention the Messiah in Isaiah 53 suffers on behalf of the rightous remnant, as well as the nations who put their trust in him.*

We'll continue the response in another article if the Lord Wills.

Answering Judaism.

*PS. I was informed that Isaiah 53 is interpreted midrashincally by Rabbinic Jews to be the Messiah. HOWEVER, Isaiah 49 is not read in that way. But considering the fact Isaiah 53 is a viable messianic text, it is possible that Isaiah 49 could be a referrence to the Messiah. I still don't dismiss the interpretation that Isaiah 53 is about Israel.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Examination of some arguments raised by "Supplement to Contra Brown" 2

I am continuing the response to some of the point that Yisroel Blumenthal has raised in his work Supplement to Contra Brown and I hope to address some of the points he raised.

"II. 17. Page 118
Brown claims that he addressed every Torah reference that speaks of atonement without blood. Another falsehood. He did not address Deuteronomy 30:1, 2."

Let's look:
"30 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, 2 and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, "

Why should there be any need for mentioning atonement, it is not relevant to the context. Ezekiel 18 and 33 don't raise the issue of atonement of blood in the context either, which Blumenthal refers to in his treatise later on.

"II. 19. Page 152
“God has always had one system of atonement and one system alone, namely, substitutionary atonement.”
In the book of Micah 6: 1-8 the prophet is clearly talks about substitution. “Shall I give my first born for the sin of my soul?”, and God’s answer is no. ONLY (“ki im”) to do justice and love kindness, and walking humbly with your God. Does this mean sacrifice is not necessary? Certainly not. Included in walking humbly with God, is the acceptance of all of His commandments. But the prophet is clearly telling us that the key is not substitution. The key is obedience. This is also the message of Jeremiah 7:22 where God says that He didn't command us about sacrifices, and that He only demands obedience. Of-course obedience includes bringing a substitutionary offering where we are so commanded, but the key remains obedience. There is no way that the Christian can look at his worship of Jesus as obedience to the God of Micah."

The question is does Jesus death atone? If Jesus' claims are true, then Christians need to submit to him in order to obey the God of Micah. No Christian if he is biblically solid is going to reject repentance and obedience.

"II. 20. Objection 3:15
Brown points to the Talmudic teaching that the death of the righteous has the power to atone for sin. He argues therefore that Christianity’s belief in vicarious atonement is rooted in the Jewish traditions.
Brown has just destroyed his arguments articulated in objections 3:9 through 3:14. Until now Brown had argued that the only method of atonement is substitutionary atonement. He went on to say that with the Temple’s destruction, substitutionary atonement is no longer available to us so we are lost in our sins. But if the death of the righteous has the power to atone, then we still have substitutionary atonement."

The problem is every righteous man falls short of this righteousness. Even Blumenthal admits in the previous article I wrote that we need God's mercy when we slip up. If Jesus is the one who is truly rightous or tzadik through and through, only his rightous death would work. The Talmud doesn't take that into consideration in Moed Qatan 28 a or b, I forget one it is in.
Furthermore, some Jews even would dispute the interpretation of the death of the rightous and I have come across two, one inspiring rightousness, the other referring to dying for ones own sins, both which I would dispute although the first one is very interesting. But that's another issue.

"II. 21. Page 154
Brown speaks of the idea of a “redemptive analogy”. He explains how a missionary could not communicate with a tribal people in New Guinea who did not understand some of the underlying concepts of Christianity. At some point the missionary experienced a breakthrough. He found that a certain aspect of the tribal culture could serve as an analogy for the foundational principles of Christianity. By utilizing this aspect of their culture as an analogy, the missionary was able to communicate with these primitive people.

Brown compares this situation with the concept that the suffering of the righteous atones for sin that is found in Judaism. Brown considers this concept a “redemptive analogy”, an analogy that could facilitate communication between Missionaries and the Jewish people.
The comparison is invalid. There is no communication barrier between missionaries and Jews. Jews have no problem UNDERSTANDING the concepts that the missionaries are preaching. We reject the missionary teaching because we fully understand it and we recognize it as anti-scriptural."

The point made by Brown I am guessing is because you have the redemptive analogy of the death of the rightous making atonement in your Talmudic writings, you should not have a problem with the substitutionary death of Christ. That I think is the point Brown is getting at. If Blumenthal says it is unscriptual, feel free to throw out the Talmudic tradition.

" II. 22. Page 165
Brown points out that the Rabbis taught that a sacrifice has the power to atone for future sins. He sees in this teaching support for the Christian teaching that Jesus’ death has the power to atone for future sins.
It seems that Brown isn’t satisfied to destroy his own previous arguments, he wants to bury them as well. If sacrifices have the power to atone for future sin, then the fact that we don’t have the Temple now does not mean that we are without substitutional offerings. The sacrifices of the Temple could atone into the future. The binding of Isaac can atone into the future. The sacrifices of our martyrs can atone into the future."

Even by a Rabbinic standard, Wouldn't the binding of Isaac as a sacrifice still be an abomination? considering that Isaac, though he didn't die, have his death count as a sacrifice according to that tradition? After all, Rabbinic Jews ABHOR the sacrifice of Christ and compare it to a pagan sacrifice, yet have no problem with the Akidah or the atoning death of a righteous saint? Very strange.
Interesting what the Rabbis said which Brown pointed out, although the sacrifice of Jesus covers our future sins when we repent, not in a works salvation sense obviously. I am sure the Rabbis may of had repentance in mind obviously.

"II. 23. Page 182
Brown addresses the prophecies which tell us that the sacrifices are coming back. According to Brown the sacrifices were replaced with Jesus, so the prophetic prediction of their return poses a problem to Brown. His answer? First he negates the message of Ezekiel by telling us that even the Rabbis had difficulty understanding his prophecy. Then he addresses the other prophecies by telling us that they generally deal with the gentiles bringing offerings, they do not speak of offerings for atonement, and they only take up a total of three verses."

I grant the sacrifices have a possible return, though as a symbolic remembrance for what Jesus has done for us. In other words, they are literal sacrifices but not done for our own sake but done in honour of Jesus, which I think would take place for a time during the millennial reign of Christ, rather than right now. I don't think it would pose a problem, even though the book of Revelation doesn't speak on this issue. I can safely say we need to look at both Testaments as two sides of the same coin, not that I am accusing Brown of not doing so.

"First it is in place to note that Brown seems to be unaware of at least four other prophecies which speak of the blood offerings in the Messianic era (Isaiah 56:7, 60:7, Ezekiel 20:40,41, Malachi 3:3,4). This is aside from the many prophecies that predict complete observance of the Law, which obviously includes a restoration of the sacrifices. In addition, Brown seems to have forgotten the many passages which tells us that the Law is eternal and unchanging, with a special emphasis on the laws concerning the sacrifices. Furthermore, by claiming that the prophets that speak of the offerings in the Messianic era do not speak of atonement offerings, Brown has just buried another one of his arguments. Earlier in this book (page 98), Brown argues that because God called the Temple a “beit zevach” (2Chronicles 7:12), this proves that the primary function of the Temple is to atone for sin through the substitutionary offerings. But here Brown informs us that the Hebrew word “zevach” does not necessarily refer to sacrifices for the atonement of sin. If that is the case, then the verse in Chronicles does not say that the primary function of the Temple is for atonement. Finally, Brown’s argument that the prophecies only take up three verses, implying that they cannot be considered too central to God’s message, deals another fatal blow to  Brown’s previous arguments. Brown has argued that the central concept of salvation is the idea of a “life for a life”. This “central” concept is only spelled out in one verse in the Jewish Bible. According to Brown’s own guidelines this should tell us that the concept of “a life for a life” cannot be too central to God’s message."

If Blumenthal has represented the argument of Brown accurately, I can assume there is a level of inconsistency on the part of Brown. However I wouldn't say Isaiah 56:7, Isaiah 60:7 and Ezekiel 20:40-41 necessarily refer to the Messianic era unless I am missing something here. But again, I don't dismiss the possiblity of sacrifices in the Messianic era for the reasons explained above.

"II. 24. Objection 3:18
Brown speaks about humanity desperately needing God’s salvation. Brown quotes several passages from the Jewish scriptures which describe how the prophetic authors looked forward to God’s salvation. Indeed, we all need God’s salvation in every aspect of our physical and spiritual lives. But the prophets taught us that God Himself has the power to save, without the services of a long deceased resident of the upper Galilee. God is close to all who call upon Him in truth (Psalm 145:18).

In any case, Brown has missed the main point of the Jewish objection. The argument against Christianity is not that we do not need God’s help. Of-course we need God’s help and without His salvation we are lost. The point of the Jewish objection is that no one starts out with damnation to eternal hellfire. And even though we need God’s help to pull ourselves closer to Him, but we are not condemned before we start as Christianity teaches. This teaching has no basis in scripture."

There is no disagreement with the Psalm 145. But the problem is, man spinning his way to damnation is already present when the Book of Genesis says man's heart and inclinations were evil all the time. Noah resisted evil and God was pleased and it's possible that Noah by God's grace was able to overcome his evil desires. I hope to write an article in the future on a biblical defence of original sin, but that's for another time.
However Blumenthal presupposes that man is already good to begin with, even after the fall. If we are not condemned before we start, can you explain WHY man seeks after idols and the lusts of his heart from his youth and needs to be taught righteousness? Forgive me if I have misunderstood your point.

"II. 25. Page 194
Brown points to the shortfalls of our people, and asks, so do we not need salvation? I turn and point to the shortfalls of people who worship Jesus, and ask: do they not need salvation? Are they free of all human shortcomings?"

Yes, Christians need salvation, but coming to Christ doesn't mean we are freed from our mistakes immediately. Once born again, We try to strive for holiness by God's grace, but we are not perfect immediately, Although to the best of my knowledge Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians, both heretics, to some extent claim this perfectionism already. The scriptures of the TANAKH and the NT show man is in need of God's grace due to his fallen nature. Christians struggle with temptation all the time even after being regenerated.

"II. 27. Page 202
“God made Adam in His own, perfect image, but Adam – after his disobedience and fall – produced offspring in his own, imperfect image. The image of God our Father has been corrupted through the image of our father Adam to the point that, by nature, we are more the children of Adam than we are the children of God.”
God called us His children after the fall of Adam (Deuteronomy 14:1). The Bible teaches that the reason murder is prohibited is because God has created us in His image (Genesis 9:6). This is stated after the fall of Adam. If humanity corrupted the image of God, as Brown argues, murder would be permitted. Perhaps the teaching of the Church about the intrinsic evil of man is the factor which lead Christian Europe to attribute so little value to human life – as a cursory examination of their history reveals."

Teaching that man is intrinsically evil would not justify evil of so called Christians in Europe, that is a non-sequitor. Brown's point still stands because murder is forbidden even after our moral corruption and even after our corruption of our image in which God created us.

"II. 28. Page 208
Brown tells his readers that by putting faith in Jesus, they can be free from sin. He then admits, that “we will not experience total perfection”. My question to Brown is; by what criteria do you measure this? According to Brown, the fact that people struggle with envy, pride and greed, proves how binding the nature of sin is (page 202). Are Christians free from these character faults?"

Christians can be free from being ENSLAVED to sin after God has quickened them and should they choose to accept him after being quickened and convicted. Christians struggle with sin, but that doesn't entail them being enslaved to it. There is a difference between FALLING INTO sin and PRACTICISING it. Jesus made it clear that he who sins is a slave of sin, referring to those who willfully wallow in it.

I shall continue looking at some more of his points if the Lord Wills.

Answering Judaism.

Part 3 here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/examination-of-some-arguments-raised-by_27.html

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Rabbinic Dilemma 101 revisited.

I wanted to take a look at the subject of Rabbinc Dillemma 101 once again. Here is a point raised recently:

"Let's take this a step further. Let's say hypothetically, there was a woman named Mary and she married a man named Joseph who was of the tribe of Judah. Now, let's say Joseph and Mary conceived a child together through natural means on their wedding night. Now, let's assume that her husband Joseph was tragically killed the very next morning. Now, let's say Mary found another man to marry shortly after her husbands death. Let's say this man is named Zechariah and he is a Levite. Let's say after Mary's child is born, Zechariah adopts him as his son. Would Mary's son, whose biological father was of the tribe of Judah, now assume the tribe of Levi simply because he was adopted by Zechariah the Levite?

As you can see, this really isn't a "Rabbinic Dilemma." Tribal heritage is passed down biologically through the father. In the case of jesus, joseph marrying mary is simply wishful thinking on your part concerning jesus's tribal status. Women don't "transfer" tribal status to their sons simply because of their marriage to their husbands. Otherwise, the biological son born to Mary and Joseph in the above example would assume the tribe of Levi after Zechariah adopts him, despite the fact that he was biologically descended from the tribe of Judah through his biological father Joseph! Once again, your argument is out of silence and assumptions rather than sound scriptural foundations. Shalom and G-d bless."

Regarding Mary, I agree that tribal lineage doesn't go through the female, My point is that because Mary had Jesus in her womb before the wedding and that since Joseph had married her, Jesus could then be adopted by Joseph into his family tree. Mary's tribal affiliation is not a factor that plays, it's the one she marries who passes on the lineage because of the adoption.

Also Numbers 1:18 says this:
"18 and they called the whole community together on the first day of the second month. The people registered their ancestry by their clans and families, and the men twenty years old or more were listed by name, one by one, "

Even though it speaks of the counting of man 20 years and older, I am not sure how this speaks of lineage only going through the father via BIOLOGICAL descent, Unless I am missing something here. I wouldn't mind someone explaining this to me here. I could simply argue here that there is an argument from silence coming from the one arguing his point. All I can say is at this point, Let the readers come to their conclusion.

Answering Judaism.

Addendum: I raised Numbers 1:18 as an issue. Ezra 2:62 was brought up a while back.

Luke 24:44-48, A forgery?

Often this text is abused by Rabbinic Jews and Muslims to try and claim that Jesus was making a false statement or that the New Testament is guilty of forgery. Let's take a look at the context.

"44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things."

When you actually look at the passage in question carefully, it is important to note the following:

1. Jesus is alluding to several passages of the TANAKH rather than a direct quotation. That is first and foremost.

2. In Verse 45, Jesus is taking the disciples through each passage one by one, speaking specifically of certain passages which we can assume from the NT as a whole were the same passages he alluded to. He is demonstrating how and why he fulfills those passages.

3. When Jesus says it is written, he means that the scriptures as a whole are teaching the message he is giving in verses 46-48. This links back to point 1, Jesus is stating that his mission is written in the scriptures because of them pointing to him.

There is no case of forgery being mentioned in the following passages if you understand the point that Jesus is getting at.

Hope this helps.

Answering Judaism.

Addendum: Some have suggested that Jesus is using Midrash, a form of interpretation within Rabbinic thought. However this can be debated.

Jewish concept of the ‘Word’ being a Divine Person: Examination by Gassen Duu


In Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature:
  1. While in the Book of Jubilees, xii. 22, the word of God is sent through the angel to Abraham,
  2. In other cases it becomes more and more a personified agency: "By the word of God exist His works" (Ecclus. [Sirach] xlii. 15);
  3. "The Holy One, blessed be He, created the world by the 'Ma'amar'" (Mek., Beshallaḥ, 10, with reference to Ps. xxxiii. 6).
  4. Quite frequent is the expression, especially in the liturgy, "Thou who hast made the universe with Thy word and ordained man through Thy wisdom to rule over the creatures made by Thee" (Wisdom ix. 1; comp. "Who by Thy words causest the evenings to bring darkness, who openest the gates of the sky by Thy wisdom"; . . . "who by His speech created the heavens, and by the breath of His mouth all their hosts"; through whose "words all things were created"; see Singer's "Daily Prayer-Book," pp. 96, 290, 292).
  5. So also in IV Esdras vi. 38 ("Lord, Thou spakest on the first day of Creation: 'Let there be heaven and earth,' and Thy word hath accomplished the work"). "Thy word, O Lord, healeth all things" (Wisdom xvi. 12); "Thy word preserveth them that put their trust in Thee" (l.c. xvi. 26).
  6. Especially strong is the personification of the word in Wisdom xviii. 15: "Thine Almighty Word leaped down from heaven out of Thy royal throne as a fierce man of war."
  7. The Mishnah, with reference to the ten passages in Genesis (ch. i.) beginning with "And God said," speaks of the ten "ma'amarot" (= "speeches") by which the world was created (Abot v. 1; comp. Gen. R. iv. 2: "The upper heavens are held in suspense by the creative Ma'amar"). Out of every speech ["dibbur"] which emanated from God an angel was created (Ḥag. 14a).
  8. "The Word ["dibbur"] called none but Moses" (Lev. R. i. 4, 5). "The Word ["dibbur"] went forth from the right hand of God and made a circuit around the camp of Israel" (Cant. R. i. 13).
The above is taken from the Jewish Encyclopedia:

In the Targum:     Memra or Word
In the Targums, which are the Aramic versions of the Old Testament, the word memra is used in many instances of an appearance of God to men or God speaking to a man.
The memra, or Word, shared the nature of God and at the same time was a messenger from God.

For English translations of the Targum
In the Targum the Memra figures constantly as the manifestation of the divine power, or as God's messenger in place of God Himself, wherever the predicate is not in conformity with the dignity or the spirituality of the Deity.
The following is taken from the Jewish Encyclopedia:
  1. Instead of the Scriptural "You have not believed in the Lord," Targ. Deut. i. 32 has "You have not believed in the word of the Lord";
  2. Instead of "I shall require it [vengeance] from him," Targ. Deut. xviii. 19 has "My word shall require it."
  3. "The Memra," instead of "the Lord," is "the consuming fire" (Targ. Deut. ix. 3; comp. Targ. Isa. xxx. 27).
  4. The Memra "plagued the people" (Targ. Yer. to Ex. xxxii. 35).
  5. "The Memra smote him" (II Sam. vi. 7; comp. Targ. I Kings xviii. 24; Hos. xiii. 14; et al.).
  6. Not "God," but "the Memra," is met with in Targ. Ex. xix. 17 (Targ. Yer. "the Shekinah"; comp. Targ. Ex. xxv. 22: "I will order My Memra to be there"). "I will cover thee with My Memra," instead of "My hand" (Targ. Ex. xxxiii. 22).
  7. Instead of "My soul," "My Memra shall reject you" (Targ. Lev. xxvi. 30; comp. Isa. i. 14, xlii. 1; Jer. vi. 8; Ezek. xxiii. 18).
  8. "The voice of the Memra," instead of "God," is heard (Gen. iii. 8; Deut. iv. 33, 36; v. 21; Isa. vi. 8; et al.).
  9. Where Moses says, "I stood between the Lord and you" (Deut. v. 5), the Targum has, "between the Memra of the Lord and you"; and the "sign between Me and you" becomes a "sign between My Memra and you" (Ex. xxxi. 13, 17; comp. Lev. xxvi. 46; Gen. ix. 12; xvii. 2, 7, 10; Ezek. xx. 12).
10.  Instead of God, the Memra comes to Abimelek (Gen. xx. 3), and to Balaam (Num. xxiii. 4). His Memra aids and accompanies Israel, performing wonders for them (Targ. Num. xxiii. 21; Deut. i. 30, xxxiii. 3; Targ. Isa. lxiii. 14; Jer. xxxi. 1; Hos. ix. 10 [comp. xi. 3, "the messenger-angel"]).
11.  The Memra goes before Cyrus (Isa. xlv. 12).
12.  The Lord swears by His Memra (Gen. xxi. 23, xxii. 16, xxiv. 3; Ex. xxxii. 13; Num. xiv. 30; Isa. xlv. 23; Ezek. xx. 5; et al.).
13.  It is His Memra that repents (Targ. Gen. vi. 6, viii. 21; I Sam. xv. 11, 35).
14.  Not His "hand," but His "Memra has laid the foundation of the earth" (Targ. Isa. xlviii. 13);
15.  for His Memra's or Name's sake does He act (l.c. xlviii. 11; II Kings xix. 34).
16.  Through the Memra God turns to His people (Targ. Lev. xxvi. 90; II Kings xiii. 23),
17.  Memra’s becomes the shield of Abraham (Gen. xv. 1), and is with Moses (Ex. iii. 12; iv. 12, 15) and with Israel (Targ. Yer. to Num. x. 35, 36; Isa. lxiii. 14).
18.  It is the Memra, not God Himself, against whom man offends (Ex. xvi. 8; Num. xiv. 5; I Kings viii. 50; II Kings xix. 28; Isa. i. 2, 16; xlv. 3, 20; Hos. v. 7, vi. 7;
19.  Targ. Yer. to Lev. v. 21, vi. 2; Deut. v. 11); through His Memra Israel shall be justified (Targ. Isa. xlv. 25);
20.   with the Memra Israel stands in communion (Targ. Josh. xxii. 24, 27);
21.   in the Memra man puts his trust (Targ. Gen. xv. 6; Targ. Yer. to Ex. xiv. 31; Jer. xxxix. 18, xlix. 11).

Memra / Word is the Mediator

Like the Shekinah (comp. Targ. Num. xxiii. 21), the Memra is accordingly the manifestation of God.
Memra (the Word of the Lord) appears in these passages:

  1. "The Memra brings Israel nigh unto God and sits on His throne receiving the prayers of Israel" (Targ. Yer. to Deut. iv. 7).
  2. It shielded Noah from the flood (Targ. Yer. to Gen. vii. 16) and brought about the dispersion of the seventy nations (l.c. xi. 8);
  3. it is the guardian of Jacob (Gen. xxviii. 20-21, xxxv. 3) and of Israel (Targ. Yer. to Ex. xii. 23, 29);
  4. it works all the wonders in Egypt (l.c. xiii. 8, xiv. 25); hardens the heart of Pharaoh (l.c.xiii. 15); goes before Israel in the wilderness (Targ. Yer. to Ex. xx. 1); blesses Israel (Targ. Yer. to Num. xxiii. 8); battles for the people (Targ. Josh. iii. 7, x. 14, xxiii. 3).
  5. As in ruling over the destiny of man the Memra is the agent of God (Targ. Yer. to Num. xxvii. 16),
  6. so also is it in the creation of the earth (Isa. xlv. 12)
  7. and in the execution of justice (Targ. Yer. to Num. xxxiii. 4).
  8. So, in the future, shall the Memra be the comforter (Targ. Isa. lxvi. 13):
a)      "My Shekinah I shall put among you, My Memra shall be unto you for a redeeming deity, and you shall be unto My Name a holy people" (Targ. Yer. to Lev. xxii. 12).
b)      "My Memra shall be unto you like a good plowman who takes off the yoke from the shoulder of the oxen";
c)      "the Memra will roar to gather the exiled" (Targ. Hos. xi. 5, 10).
d)      The Memra is "the witness" (Targ. Yer. xxix. 23); it will be to Israel like a father (l.c. xxxi. 9) and "will rejoice over them to do them good" (l.c. xxxii. 41).
e)      "In the Memra the redemption will be found" (Targ. Zech. xii. 5). "The holy Word" was the subject of the hymns of Job (Test. of Job, xii. 3, ed. Kohler).


Gassen Duu.

Addendum from Answering Judaism: Regarding the last link, In 1 Timothy 3:16 although God doesn't appear in the earliest manuscripts and says HE WHO, this would not detract from the Deity of Christ. 1 Timothy 3:16 is addressed in the article response to Tovia Singer which can be read here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/response-to-tovia-singer-on-did-authors.html

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Examination of some arguments raised by "Supplement to Contra Brown"

We are  going to take a look at some of the arguments raised by Yisroel Blumenthal in an article he wrote responding to Michael Brown. I won't be looking at every point but I shall be looking at some points Blumenthal raises. Bible quotes, Blumenthal's quotes and other quotes shall be bold. The quotes from Brown if mentioned will be placed in italics. I personally haven't read Brown's material on Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus but I am willing to look at the objections presented by Blumenthal regardless.

This is one of the first points I want to look at:

"Fine, but were they Christians? An honest reading of Christian scripture will reveal that the early followers of Jesus did not subscribe to the Christian belief system. They viewed Jesus as a Jewish Messiah, and not as a god who dies for the sins of the world (as evidenced by their participation in the Temple rituals for the expiation of sin after the crucifixion of Jesus – Acts 21). They rejected Paul’s claims to prophecy (as evidenced by their discussion in Acts 15 without reference to Paul’s alleged prophecy on the matter), and accepted the rulings of the Pharisee Rabbis (as Jesus taught in Matthew 23 – see also Acts 15:5 – see below # IV. 11 and # V. 69)."

I have written on this subject of Acts 21 which can be found in this article right here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/response-to-yisroel-blumenthal-on-acts.html
Now he claims that Jesus accepted the rulings of the Pharisees, What verse he quote? He doesn't give one.

But let's take a look:
"23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

Jesus is anathematizing the Pharisees for their wickedness and hypocrisy. He tells the disciples to obey them but not emulate them. In other words it's to do with the Torah, not the rulings of the Pharisees, although the tradition consistent with the scripture wouldn't of been harmful. He is not saying that we are to accept the Oral Torah because there isn't one, this is Rabbinic Jewish anachronicism being read into the New Testament. The NT may be Jewish, but not necessarily Talmudic.

In Acts 15:5, The disciples are the ones holding the council in the first place, along with Paul funnily enough.

"15 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”
6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon[a] has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. "

The Gentiles didn't have to submit to the Mosaic Law after the apostles consulted God for their answer but what makes this interesting in verse two is that Paul and Barnabas were sent to the council to speak with the apostles. If Paul was teaching some new fangled false doctrine, the apostles would of pointed out his error to him and tell him to repent. In addition to this, Why should Paul's prophecy be even brought up at the council? In the previous chapter the apostles welcomed him, though initially some of the Christians were afraid:
"Acts 14:26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus."

The prophecy of Paul was not the focus of the council anyway. Why raise the objection?

Also, I have written some material on the Trinity which I think Blumenthal should take the time to read:
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-trinity-is-not-truth.html
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/challenge-from-facebook-unitarian.html
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/classical-trinitarian-objections.html
The angel of the Lord ones I have done will need some looking into by me, but these are some of the articles I have written.

The word Christian appears twice in the NT, once in 1 Peter 4:16 and the other in the book of Acts. The apostles did approve of the title given to them even if it was a derogatory insult.

"This statement (about thousands of Jews believing in Jesus within a few years of his death and resurrection) is based on the Christian scriptures. There is no reason to consider this testimony to be reliable. The same system that God put in place to teach us that the books of Esther, Ezra, Ruth and Daniel were written with divine inspiration, teaches us that the Christian scriptures were not."

The Oral Torah decided the Canon of the TANAKH? Hmm, strange. And considering those who followed believed in the Oral Torah, should it be a surprise they rejected the NT? No, but how does this argument deal with the inspiration of the NT? I don't see any objection here.

Also, if the system put in place was not the Oral Torah, then what was it.

"I. 11. Page 7
…we rejected the Torah and the prophets as a nation
If there was any truth to this claim, we would not have the Torah nor would we have the books of the prophets today. It was only the through the Jewish nation’s fierce loyalty to the Torah and to the books of the prophets that these were preserved to this day. Indeed, there were always certain elements of the nation who chose to abandon the Torah, and who refused to heed the prophets’ warnings. Those elements of the population were lost to assimilation. But the spiritual core of the nation preserved the words of the prophets and maintained their loyalty to the Torah. Had they not done so, the world would have never heard of Isaiah or Ezekiel."

It's thanks to God through his prophets that you even have the TANAKH to begin with. After all, the very TANAKH records the people by in large going into apostasy, with only a small rightous remnant being preserved by God. It is not your loyalty to the Torah that has preserved it and the Prophets, It's God who has done it.

"I. 12. Pages 8 and 9
Brown supplies us with a fanciful version of early church history. One sentence runs – “the emerging Rabbinic Jewish community began to disassociate itself from the many thousands of Jews who were followers of Jesus”
Another sentence informs us that – “At some point toward the end of the first century some of the Rabbinic leaders either composed or adapted a prayerful curse to be recited against believers in Yeshua”
There are several points that Brown would have his readers believe, none of which have any basis in fact. Brown wants his readers to believe that the Rabbinic community was “emerging” in the first century CE. In other words, Brown would have us believe that the belief system that he calls “Rabbinic Judaism” was only coming into existence in those years. Every historical document from the times of SecondTemple and beyond – including the Christian scriptures, testify unequivocally that the belief system known as Rabbinic Judaism was firmly in place before the advent of Christianity, and was followed by the vast majority of Jews. The Christian scriptures testify that the masses of Jews followed Pharisee ideology (- the mere fact that they accepted and followed the Pharisee calendar is evidence enough). The Christian scriptures also tell us that many, if not all of the early Jewish Christians were Pharisees by belief. Matthew has Jesus exhorting his disciples to obey the Pharisees because they sit in the seat of Moses. There is no question that the Rabbinic community was not “emerging” from anywhere in the first century CE.

It was the Christian community that began to disassociate itself from the body of the Jewish nation. As the Christians, both Jewish and gentile, began adopting pagan beliefs and practices, they effectively cut themselves off from the stream of Jewish history. When the Christian community began identifying with the Roman oppressors, they became a threat to the physical existence of our people. Their early writings are only a partial reflection of the hatred they harbored towards Jews and Judaism. The Christian scriptures themselves are full of venom against Judaism. The writings of the early Church Fathers continue in that same vein. These include but are not limited to; The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles , the Epistles of Ignatius, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Epistle to Diognetus. All of these writings, dating from the first and second centuries of the Common Era, reflect an intense hatred towards the Jews. By presenting Jews and Judaism in this light to the Roman rulers, they were opening the way for legitimized persecution. The Rabbis instituted a prayer, adopted by all Jews until today that God may save His people from their enemies, and that God’s enemies may see no hope. Indeed this prayer was directed against the early Christians. But this was the prayer of all the people, in a desperate plea to God for their very survival."

The point about Anti-Semitism in Early Christianity and the New Testament would need a seperate article altogether. One thing I can say is you will not find it in the NT. Blumenthal demands historical documentation from Brown earlier in his paper, yet here he doesn't provide a source that affirms the existence of Rabbinic Judaism before Jesus.

"I. 14. Page 17
In an attempt to mock Judaism, Brown presents a parable in which the owner of a professional basketball team offers jobs to people who are less than five feet tall on condition that they make the team. Brown compares this scenario with Judaism’s encouragement that through observance of God’s Law we could be considered righteous before God. Perfect observance of the law is an impossible task according to Brown. It is not Judaism that Brown is making fun of. He is mocking God’s word in the Bible. Throughout the Bible God exhorts humans to be holy, which Brown believes is an impossible task. The truth is that God is fair, He knows our frailty and He takes our humanity into consideration (Psalm 103:13, 14)."

The fact that you need to ask for God's mercy shows that it is impossible to perfectly observe the Torah. It doesn't mean you should have a carefree attitude which I need to preface. I agree, God exhorts us to be holy, but we need to his grace to be such.

"I. 15. Page 19
…both faiths (Judaism and Christianity) believe in One God”
Since one of the salient differences between Judaism and Christianity is their argument about the definition of “One God”, it is misleading to say that they agree on this point. It would be comparable to saying that the communist and the capitalist both agree in principle to the same economic structure, because they both believe that the country should follow the best economic structure. This happens to be the point of contention, what is the best economic structure? Here as well, the point of contention is – What do we mean when we say “One God”? There is no way to say that we agree on this point."

Or you need to understand what Trinitarianism actually teaches. I may get into this point later.

"Here Brown tries to explain to his readers why Jews have not accepted Jesus as their god. Brown fails to tell his readers the most important reason why Jesus was never an option for the Jew. The Christian Scriptures themselves testify that the most important Jewish reaction to Jesus was: “how can a man claim to be god?” In other words, Jews in Jesus’ time and until today, recognize that attributing divinity to a human being is idolatry. It is for this reason and for this reason only that Jews gave their lives rather than accept Jesus. Judaism teaches that human life is sacred, but in order to avoid idolatry, one must be ready to die.....He fails to inform his readers, that the Jewish people, who were entrusted by God with preserving the message of Sinai, consider his product idolatry. Instead he tries to convince his readers that the product he is trying to market was not given a fair trial!

Another point to consider on this issue is Brown’s own admission that the Church had been preaching false doctrine. For centuries upon centuries, the Church had been teaching that Israel is no longer the elect of God. Even today, many Churches contend that the Jewish people can no longer consider themselves God’s firstborn sons. So how are Jews supposed to accept the “truth” of Christianity? The Christian teaching that the elect of God are the followers of the Messiah is nowhere to be found in the Jewish scriptures. Should the Jews have accepted a non-scriptural election and repudiate the scriptural election? According to Brown’s own standard that he set forth in the introduction – “follow the Bible” – and according to Brown’s own interpretation of the Bible, the Church has miserably failed. Why does Brown value the conversion of Jews to Christianity at a time when conversion to Christianity meant rejecting God’s firstborn son? (Exodus 4:22, Jeremiah 31:8)"

Brown is correct that you will not find replacement theology in the scripture, but sadly many churches refuse to let go of that teaching. Also, Christians are a body made up of JEWS AND GENTILES. The Gentile believers in Christ only "replace" if you want to use that term, the unbelieving Jews. If the Jews are cut off because of unbelief, The Gentiles are at that risk as well.

The term Israel in the NT is applied to Israel but ONLY possibly 2-3 times it's speaking of the church. Furthermore, Blumenthal fails to realise that Jesus and Paul said MANY will fall away, which can be found in Matthew 24:10 and 1 Timothy 4:1. Also, Blumenthal forgets that if God is able to preserve a remnant of Jews, he can preserve a remnant of Christians (Made up of Jews and Gentiles) as well. Didn't Moses say to the people of his time they would rebel? Does that mean the Jews failed?

"Deuteronomy 31:24 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, 25 he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord: 26 “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God. There it will remain as a witness against you. 27 For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the Lord while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! 28 Assemble before me all the elders of your tribes and all your officials, so that I can speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to testify against them. 29 For I know that after my death you are sure to become utterly corrupt and to turn from the way I have commanded you. In days to come, disaster will fall on you because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord and arouse his anger by what your hands have made.”"

That's something to pose to Mr Blumenthal. God keeps a REMNANT FOR HIMSELF. Jews are still the chosen people, but that doesn't mean they will be saved without Christ's atonement. Jews and Gentiles alike, need Christ.

"One does not have to be a scholar to recognize that Christianity is not an option for the Jew. Every Jewish child who knows the story of the revelation at Sinai, knows that God taught the Jews “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” We were shown at Sinai that the Creator of heaven and earth is God, there is none else (Deut. 4:35). Since no one ever claimed that it was Jesus who was revealed to our ancestors at Sinai, so he cannot be worshipped. That’s all there is to it.
Brown “graciously” acknowledges “can Jews be blamed for thinking that Christians worship idols when the churches were filled with worshippers bowing before large beautiful statues…?“
Brown would have us believe that idolatry is limited to obeisance to statues. This is not true. Worship of anyone or anything other than the God who revealed Himself at Sinai, is idolatry. In any case Brown himself advocates (in theory) worship of a physical body. Brown, along with all (Trinitarian) Christians, claims that while Jesus was alive he ought to have been worshipped. In other words, while Jesus was alive Christianity would have its adherents prostrating themselves in adoration and worship of a human. This too, is blatant idolatry."

First of all, Old Testament people did not say at Sinai "Hello Jesus" when God revealed himself on Sinai, Jesus wasn't given the name Jesus UNTIL the incarnation. It is Jesus' claim and the apostles that he was God in the flesh. If Jesus was not who he claimed to be, Then the Jews were right in concluding that bowing to him in worship would be idolatry. If however Jesus is God but he is not the Father in heaven and proved that to be the case, then worshipping him is acceptable. We don't bow to the flesh, we bow to the one who took on flesh. He "tabernacled among us" as John 1 puts it.

If Jesus is God as I am convinced he is, then the revelation at Sinai wouldn't present a problem, and I have written on the subject of Deuteronomy 13 if Blumenthal wishes to bring that up:
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/anointed-ones-and-strange-gods.html

The point is in the context of Sinai, the three persons are not required to be seen at once. James White made an excellent point on the Dividing Line on the subject of singular pronouns. He says:
"Every single time, that the context does not demand that we see a particular individual operating differently than the others, would be a reference to the Triune God. So any time where God's general activities, God's general attributes or in reference, can be referred to the entire Godhead acting in unity."

This would cover the Sinai Revelation, considering it was the ONE God acting in that context without having all three persons seen at once. The Godhead was acting in unity in the context of Sinai. Also, James White has stressed that the revelation of the Trinity was revealed in the Incarnation of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It was revealed between the Old and the New Testament. He made this point in his debate with Jalal Abularab.

"Brown presents the Christian scripture’s argument that it is spiritual blindness that prevents Jews from seeing the “truth” about Jesus. Brown does not present another argument offered by the Christian scriptures, and that is that the Jews are children of the devil, and are thus incapable of seeing the “truth”. This “tolerant” and “philo-Semitic” statement is attributed by John to Jesus (John 8:44).

Another important point to consider, is that if Christianity is the “obvious truth” and it is only a supernatural blindness that prevents Jews from appreciating it, where is the evidence? It is 2000 years now, and Christianity has still failed to present a logical and honest argument why it is that one should worship Jesus."

Jesus was not saying ALL Jews were of the devil, he was speaking to a particular group of Jews who believed him outwardly. There is nothing anti-Semitic about that. if Jesus said the same statement to Gentiles regarding their hypocrisy, does that mean he is being anti-Gentile? Also, take a look at Isaiah 1:

"Isaiah 1 (New International Version)
Isaiah 1
1 The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
A Rebellious Nation
2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
    For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
    but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its master,
    the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
    my people do not understand.”
4 Woe to the sinful nation,
    a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
    children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
    they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
    and turned their backs on him."

Is this anti-semitic? I think not. Blumenthal should retract his statement if it isn't.

"Brown presents the issue as a question between; following God versus following the ways of our fathers. What Brown does not tell us, is that God Himself designated the national tradition of our fathers as a means to communicate with us about the revelation at Sinai (Deut. 4:9). In the passage from Deuteronomy that Brown quotes, God refers to idols as “those which your fathers knew not”. In other words we are to look to the testimony of our fathers to enable us to identify idolatry when we see it. This means that the testimony of the Jewish nation concerning the revelation at Sinai is a divinely ordained means of communication, and not an immature emotional hang-up as Brown would have his readers believe."

Not much to say here. No problem with the Sinai revelation.

"In this section, Brown presents an age-old philosophical problem with Christianity. Where are all those who did not believe in Jesus? Are they all in hell? Brown throws up a smoke-screen by pointing out that no one is perfect in God’s eyes. But Brown utterly missed the point of the objection. The question is – is there really no difference in God’s eyes between Hitler and someone who may not have been all that righteous but was no Hitler (such as their grandmother)? According to Christian theology it is all the same. Judaism believes that God does not make demands of people that are beyond them. God knows our inclination (Psalm 103:13,14) and is close to all those who call to him with sincerity (Psalm 145:18). God is just, and everyone receives reward and punishment according to their ways (Eccl. 12:14). There is indeed a difference in God’s eyes between Hitler, and Hitler’s victims."

Yes, in this life they are punished according to their ways and sometimes not so. As for those who did not believe in Jesus, Well the answer is obvious, hell. The OT saints where covered by Christ though they had no conscious knowledge of him, which William Lane Craig adequately put in his debate with Tovia Singer:
"They're saved by responding to the revelation that God had given to them, and if they respond in an appropriate way, Then according to the NT, God applies to them the benefits of Christ's atoning death, so they are saved through Christ even though they have no conscious knowledge of Christ,because they respond to the revelation that God has given to them"

That takes care of the OT Saints. As for those during and AFTER the NT period, rejection of Jesus results in hellfire. Also, If God is close to those who call on him with sincerety, who is to say that a Nazi or any person on this planet CANNOT call on God to grant them repentance and help them be better people.

"I. 21. Objection 1.11
Here too, Brown attempts to deal with a major philosophical question. What happens to Nazi murderers who accept Jesus? According to Christian theology, one who accepts Jesus is cleansed of his sins. Many rational people have a hard time believing that a past filled with sin could be so easily erased. This Christian doctrine seems to be giving these evil people an undeserved “free pass”.
Brown responds by telling us that the Bible teaches that through repentance God forgives all sin. Indeed the Bible does teach that repentance atones for sin. It is interesting to note that Brown makes a mockery of this teaching in volume 2 (page 103), but here the teaching serves his purpose.

According to Judaism, repentance includes facing the sin squarely in the face and recognizing the evil and the guilt. If a Nazi murderer would truly repent, the feelings of regret should kill him. How many Nazi murderers actually repented according to the standards of the Jewish Bible? Yet many Nazis did not find the free pass offered by the Church too demanding."

It is not only Brown who says a Nazi has to exercise repentance, The New Testament commands ALL to repent. There is NO free pass as it were. Salvation is by grace, not by works, but that doesn't mean we have a free pass. The Nazis would have to prove their repentance by their deeds. Jesus died on the cross for you and me, but in order for me to have his blood cover me, I need to repent. Of course man is dead in sin until God awakens him, but that is another topic. The point is a Nazi CAN be forgiven, if he truly repents and of course if they didn't make restitution then you would be right in questioning their repentance.

I can assume Brown is 'mocking' as Blumenthal puts it the idea that repentance alone atones.

"Brown claims that repentance is an essential part of the message of Christianity. What is repentance? True repentance includes a departure from sin, and reentry into obedience of God’s holy law. When a person regrets his sin with his whole heart, admits his guilt before God, and makes restitution to the people he harmed, and accepts upon himself to obey God’s commandments in the future – God wipes the slate clean. Is this the process that Jews who put their faith in Jesus undergo? How many of them observe the scriptural commandments of Sabbath, Kosher, or family purity. This is to say nothing of their total disregard of the first two of the Ten Commandments."

The Gentiles are not required to observe Sabbath or Kosher or any ceremonial law in the TANAKH, the Jerusalem council made that clear, but certainly family life is to be pleasing to God. Moral commands without the death penalty are what Christians are required to have. Making amends is biblical and a must, but there is no New Covenant obligation to destory a town that is rife with idolatry or burn a house down if it has dry rot. However, a thief is to return what he stole and a liar is to tell the truth two name a few.

Family life is still to be sanctified to the Lord in the New Covenant. But it is not our works that save us, it's our faith. If one has faith the works follow but the works don't save them. Repentance is not a work, it's something that the apostles commanded and it's something that Christians must do. The Jews who believe in Christ are free to observe the Mosaic Law, provided they are not using it to justify themselves before God. They can keep it if they want if they feel it honors Christ. They days you observe or not observe regarding the Old Testament are a matter of conviction and conscience.

Repentance is something that is often overlooked in Christianity and anyone who claims that repentance should never be done is ignorant of the New Testament's content. In fact what does Paul say in Titus 2:11-14:

"Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

If Blumenthal takes the time to read Paul's letters, he will be astonished at the number of times exhortation to live holy lives can be found.

"Brown describes how some of the Orthodox Jews he interacted with could not describe an intimate ongoing real relationship with God, while Christians are alive with their relationship with their god. At the same time Brown describes how Jewish people he questioned felt that they were not assured of forgiveness for their sins, while Christians revel in the confident assurance that all of their sins are forgiven.
Perhaps this reveals the weakness of the belief system Brown is trying to promulgate. One who is honestly seeking a real relationship with with God, will always be questioning themselves. Am I deluding myself? Or is this real? A real relationship with God is a constant ongoing experience that brings a person into constant soul-searching introspection. Of-course there is joy, real joy, in the relationship with God. Just watch the dancing at an Orthodox Jewish wedding or an Orthodox Jewish celebration of one of the holidays. But this joy does not come at the expense of truth. Orthodox Judaism does not attempt to delude its followers into false assurances. The joy of serving God does not come from the delusion of being “saved”, rather the joy is produced by the realization that we are touching the eternal truth of the God of truth. This joy encourages an incessant, relentless, and ruthless pursuit of truth. The joy of Judaism does not allow one to be lulled into a false sense of security. Judaism does not claim to offer safety. Judaism offers truth."

Christianity provides assurance of salvation to the believer, not a false security. Christians condemn the idea of false assurance. The New Testament exhorts Christians to make their calling and election sure.

"Brown informs us that the crime of rejecting Jesus is the sin which deserves the holocaust. Sad. What is the moral crime of failing to see the scriptural “truth” of institutions that could produce a holocaust?
According to Brown’s own standards of right and wrong, and according to his own interpretation of the Bible, Brown would have to acknowledge that the Jewish rejection of Jesus was no sin. In the opening pages of this volume, Brown informs his readers that the “rule of Jewish faith and practice” should be the Bible (pg. xx). Up until recent years, the vast majority of Christians believed in replacement theology, they believed that the Jewish people are no longer chosen by God. The Christianity presented to the Jewish people was one which came along with a rejection of Israel’s election – a teaching that Brown recognizes as unbiblical. How could the Jews have accepted Christianity? Should the Jews have seen the “powerful evidence” to the alleged Messiahship of Jesus but not seen the evidence to their chosenness as God’s firstborn son?

According to Brown’s own standard, the Jews made the morally correct choice when they rejected a theology that is clearly at variance with the word of God. Is this a sin?

There is a much deeper point to consider here. The tragedy suffered by the Jewish people during the holocaust was indeed terrible. But there was a far greater tragedy that occurred during the holocaust. The greater tragedy was the fact that the vast majority of Christian Europe participated in this terrible crime either practically or implicitly. Not only that, but the holocaust rendered 1900 years of Church history as a preparation for the greatest crime committed against God’s firstborn son. When the holocaust happened, it retroactively rendered all of the Church teachers that lived for the past 2000 years – inciters for murder. Their acceptance of Jesus did not save them from this terrible tragedy. Our rejection of the same Jesus saved us from the worse of the two evils.
If the crime of rejecting Jesus brought the holocaust upon us, we thank God that it effectively prevented us from being the perpetrators."

It is sad that so called Christians did participate in the holocaust itself, that is something upsetting and should not of happened. Replacement Theology to the best of my knowledge came from Augustine, NOT from the apostles. Again, If the Jews were replaced because of disobedience, the Christians will suffer that same fate if they disobey, that is if replacement theology were true. Christians have to face up to the fact that anti-Semitism has damaged the church's reputation to the Jews and should try their best to repair the damage.

"Brown’s compares of the accusation that the Christian Scriptures is a book of hate to the anti-Semitic accusation that the Talmud is a book of immorality. This analogy is outrageous. No one who revered the Talmud ever read it as a license to be immoral, but many people who are still considered authorities on the Christian Scriptures read it as a license to hate Jews."
This issue of anti-semitism needs a seperate article to deal with the issue.
"Did the authors of these books have any inkling as to how their words would be understood in future generations? Did these authors have any idea how the mind-set of their intended audience will influence the way their words are understood? If they did, then they were partners to the murderous activities of the Church. If they were myopic, simpleminded people who could not foresee how their words would be understood by the very audience that they were addressing, then how can anyone attach significance and value to their words?

Brown quotes Jesus as saying “love your enemies”. Where does Jesus say anything positive about his own enemies? Where does Jesus acknowledge the moral responsibility to question his authority? After all, if he wasn’t who he claimed he was (which he wasn’t) then obeying him is the most grievous sin against God. Together with the false prophets of history, Jesus could not recognize the simple truth that God desires an honest heart."

Regarding the first part of this statement, I could ask the same thing about the TANAKH and the Talmud, but where would this get us? Furthermore, Peter warns about ignorant and unstable people who distort the scriptures (referring to the OT and possibly the Gospels) to their own destruction, as well as Paul's letters. Also, Jesus did have harsh things to say about his enemies, but that is not a contradiction with love your enemies. You need to pray for them to repent of their sin and witness to them.

"Brown responds to the contention that Jesus must be a bad tree as the evil fruit that Christianity produced seems to indicate. His basic argument is that anyone who fails to be a moral person cannot be labeled a Christian. (page 115). What line does a person have to cross in order to be considered immoral? If someone says a lie, does that make him lose his standing as a “true” Christian? How about anger, pride, lust, self-centeredness – would any of these character faults remove a person from Brown’s roll of “real” Christians? Where did Brown find a billion Christians earlier in his book?

We all agree that one should be a moral person; that is not the point of contention. The point of contention is should we worship the Master of all and Him alone, or should we worship Jesus? Should we look to the Christian scriptures for guidance or should we look to the Talmud? We have a case history. We have two societies. One worshiped Jesus and revered the Christian scriptures, while the other worshiped God as an absolute unity and venerated the Talmud. Compare.
Idolatry eventually produces immorality. It doesn’t have to show itself in the first generations of enthusiastic, spiritually motivated, and sincere (if misguided) believers. But it will eventually show up."

Regarding the line to cross to be immoral, good question. Firstly, if someone FALLS into sin but repents of it, then they are ok. If they slipped up but realised their mistake and repent to God, they will not go to hell. IF however they decide not to repent, they will not have the assurance of salvation. Simple as that. Jesus is speaking of those who PRACTICE SIN and falsehood, not someone who makes a mistake.

Another note is that no one should be asking how long and how far you need to be sin before you are lost. It is something that shouldn't be asked and the person needs to abide in Christ.

As for what to look to for guidance, well if the New Testament is scripture, we should look to that as well as the TANAKH ultimately. The Talmud is not inspired as the Rabbinic communities acknowledge. If the NT is from your God Blumenthal, I'd rather take my chances with that.

"Brown asks how the suffering of the holocaust brought healing to the world. In contrast, he claims, through the suffering of Jesus, countless millions were healed. The suffering of Jesus inspired countless millions to hate God’s firstborn son (Israel). The holocaust brought the Church’s top theologians to re-evaluate their assessment of this hatred. In any case, the prophet explains that a full understanding of the healing provided by the servant’s suffering will only come with the full revelation of God’s glory upon the servant."

Again, show me aside from the misuse of John 8:44 where anti-Semitism is in the New Testament and is condoned. Christ's death does bring healing only to those whom God has quickened and those who respond to him after quickening. It is clear that Jesus' intention was NOT to have us hate the Jews. I am not going to sweep anti-Semitism under the rug that's for sure.

"I. 49. Page 202
Messianic Jews were excluded from the synagogue by Rabbinic Jews and misunderstood by gentile Christians

Brown tries to get his readers to believe that the treatment the Messianic Jews received at the hands of the Rabbinic community was harsher than the treatment they received at the hands of the gentile Church (excluded vs. misunderstood). The facts are quite different. Rabbinic Jews excluded the Messianics from the synagogues. Why the Messianics would want to join is beyond me. But the gentile Church slaughtered them. Once the gentile Church gained power they cruelly eradicated every form of Christianity they considered heretical, including the Jewish sects that were still extant at the time."

AS stated before, Faithful Jews and Christians are preserved by God. It is possible that Messianic communities may have been preserved by God for their faithfulness to him. Both Rabbinic Jews and Gentile Christians both placed pressure on the Messianics in one way or another, especially the latter because of paganism creeping in.

"I. 50. Objection 2.16
Brown brings up the Jewish objection which points out that the Jews who lived with Jesus and his followers were not swayed by Jesus’ message. Brown responds by encouraging his readers to over-turn the decision of those Jews who lived with Jesus.

Again Brown missed the point of the objection. The people who lived with Jesus and interacted with him were by and large not impressed. Aside from a few who were obviously blinded by his charisma, the populace at large saw a person polluted by the same character flaws that afflict most false prophets. So who knew Jesus better? Is it the GentileChurch (founded by Paul – who never saw Jesus outside of his imagination)? Or is it Jesus’ own Jewish neighbors?"

Jesus' own apostles knew who Jesus was. Others rejected him because their hearts were hard and most of the Pharisees hated him because he exposed their hypocrisy and wickedness. Also to claim the Gentile church was founded by Paul is absurd, If you read Acts 8, Samaritans, half Jew/Gentile Peoples, responded to the message of the apostles, Paul's conversion is not until Acts 9. Paul did have an immense influence on the Gentile world and founded many churches, but to say he founded the Gentile Church as a whole is ridiculous. Also, An ethiopian eunich was a Gentile whom Phillip gave the Gospel to. If Blumenthal is trying to suggest there was a Pauline Gentile church being invented here, he is mistaken. Furthermore, The apostles ACCEPTED Paul as a true apostle. I recommend Yisroel taking the time to watch Keith Thompson's documentary on the reliability of Paul.

"II. 1. Page 4
Brown addresses Maimonides’ statement that Jews must believe in God as an “only one (- absolute unity): There is no doubt that this reaction was due to exaggerated, unbiblical, “Christian” beliefs that gave Jews the impression Christians worshipped three gods.

Brown would have his readers believe that Maimonides’ statement is a “reaction. He would have his readers believe that this “reaction” was due to an incorrect understanding of Christianity.
I have a difficult time imagining a statement that would be more offensive and insulting to Jews and to Judaism. Brown has “no doubt” that the core belief of Judaism is a “reaction” to another belief system. That would be like saying that there is no doubt that Christians revere Jesus as a “reaction” to the Moslem reverence of Mohammed. Or that the reason two people got married to each other was to avoid marrying someone else.

The Jewish people are married to their God. They met Him at Sinai and their hearts are pledged Him ever since. We know our God and we do not have to “react” to redefine our God against other belief systems.
Another underlying misconception that needs to be cleared up is the idea that Maimonides felt threatened in any way by Christianity, as if Christianity is a belief system that somehow loomed large and threatening on the horizon of Maimonides’ thought-process. This is false. It is obvious from the writings of Maimonides that the theology of Christianity in no way intimidated him. He viewed a belief system that deifies a human as something that hardly deserves mention. If Maimonides ever felt the need to “react”, it was not to Christianity.

Finally, a “correct” understanding of Christianity would have done nothing to change Maimonides’ views on the matter. Every form of Trinitarian Christianity attributes deity to a person that walked this earth. This concept, however it is presented, is the antithesis of Judaism."

I won't be focusing in Maimonede's statement about Yachid because that is not my concern, although I fail to see how bringing up the Muslims as an argument is even remotely relevant. Islam came AFTER Christianity, not before. Trinitarians believe Jesus is GOD AND MAN. I will touch on the tabernacle point in which Blumenthal raises.

"II. 3. Page 6
Brown argues that the Shema (-Hear O Israel… Deuteronomy 6:4) only says that God is alone and not that He is absolutely One. This point is also irrelevant. Which God is the Shema referring to? The One that the Jews believed in, the One that took them out of Egypt and who revealed Himself at Sinai, Him alone – and no one else. Who is excluded? If someone were to take a graven image and claim that this is “one and the same” with the God of Israel, is that not excluded? When Jerobaam pointed to the calf and said “this is who took you out of Egypt” (1Kings 12:28), was that not excluded? When the Buddhists point to a stone statue of Buddha and claim that this is the incarnation of the Creator of heaven and earth, is that not excluded by the “one” of Shema? The “one” of Shema points back to the Sinai revelation. At that revelation God made clear to the Jewish people who it is that they should be directing their devotion to. It was not Jesus. Furthermore, at Sinai God gave the Jewish people to understand that everything in the heaven and earth are but His creations. Any theology that justifies worship of an inhabitant of this earth is precluded by the Sinai revelation and by the Shema."

Buddhists, Confucionists, Muslims or anyone outside the Judeo-Christian faiths are not even relevant because those religions don't worship the God of the Bible anyway. Jeroboam's calf was exclude, and I will argue Jeroboam said this for political purpose and for expediency. Limitbreak9001 raised a similar point to Blumenthal's point regarding the calf.

All the Shema says is that there is only ONE God, period. Trinitarian Christians do NOT repudiate the Shema, unless it's in ignorance. The Shema doesn't speak of God's nature anyway, it only says he is the ONLY God. If Jesus is the God at Sinai and a member of the Trinity, he would not violate the Sinai revelation. If he isn't, then Blumenthal would be correct in his assertion that Jesus would be excluded from the Shema.

"II. 4. Page 7
Brown claims that the Jewish rejection of the trinity is the result of a “gut level negative reaction to anything Christian”. Where did this negative reaction start from? According to the Christian scriptures, the Jews rejected Christianity because it did not fit with their understanding of God; an understanding that preceded Christianity.

Another point to consider is the fact that the far more likely scenario is that the Church adopted belief in the trinity as a gut level negative reaction to anything Jewish.

The same Council of Nicea  that adopted the trinity as a Christian belief, was plagued with a “gut level negative reaction” to anything Jewish. The same Church Council that ratified the trinity also prohibited celebration of Easter in conjunction with Passover. The basis for this decision was not some scholarly calculation or an esoteric argument. I will allow Eusubius, the Church historian who was present at that Council, to speak for himself: “And these are the words with which the Emperor addressed the assembly at Nicea; “Why should we follow in the footsteps of these people who are scorned by God, to celebrate our holy festival together with them? Is there any greater impertinence than this, that these hated Jews should be able to say that we cannot celebrate and observe our festival unless we follow their calculations?” (De Vita Constantini 3:2).

Hatred of Jews and Judaism was reason enough to move this Church Council to change their practices. Is it not likely that the vote against Arius (who opposed belief in the trinity) was also influenced by this hatred of Jews?"

The notion that the Trinity is somehow a motivation for Jew Hatred is ridiculous. The NT already applies passages about HaShem God in the TANAKH AND APPLY THEM TO JESUS!!! Jesus is identified as HaShem or God by the New Testament because of those passages being applied to HIM, not merely as a representative as Anthony Buzzard and other unitarians claim and not merely God in a qualitative sense as the TrinityDelusion claims. Jesus is EXPLICITLY referred to AS HASHEM. The only route you can take on how to reconcile Jesus being HaShem and the Father being HaShem yet retaining the monotheism the TANAKH is the Trinity itself. Also this article addresses the idea that the Trinity was invented at Nicea: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/classical-trinitarian-objections.html

Now Easter being in the NT is very unlikely but that's another issue, considering that one using Easter as an argument against the Trinity is a red herring. It's just as silly as using Michael Servetus and John Calvin as an argument against the Trinity, which sadly many unitarians do, not to mention most fail to tell you it was the secular government who put Servetus to death, not Calvin and that Servetus was a Modalist. Though I am not a Calvinist, I would never want to misrepresent history like this. In the past I have been ignorant of Calvinism although I have learned a little bit about Calvinism from others, including Keith Thompson who I have often mentioned in my articles. However, the history of Calvin is not relevant to this article so let's carry on.

" II. 6. Page 15
Brown considers the argument “your god wore diapers”, to be crude. But the Bible ridicules graven images as those which cannot see, hear, eat, etc. I can hear a Native American who pays devotion to a totem pole, laugh at this. “I am not worshiping the wooden pole, I am worshiping the spirit behind this pole. What a crude argument this book is trying to present, these are certainly not the words of an all knowing God.” Most idolaters can provide some sophisticated rationale which seems to justify their worship. The arguments that Brown uses to justify worship of Jesus can just as easily be used to justify worship of the spirit of thunder that the totem pole represents. But God’s words stand forever, despite the derision of misguided men. If an object of worship can be represented by a physical body, then the worship is foolish, and ought to be ridiculed by pointing to the deficiencies inherent in the physical manifestation/representation/incarnation of the object of worship.

Brown tells us about Sai Baba, a Hindu man-god. What Brown does not tell us is how exactly is Jesus different from Sai Baba? Is it just that one of Jesus’s followers can come up with a “Biblical justification”, and Sai Baba’s followers did not? Let one of them come across Brown’s book. They can use most of Brown’s arguments, and using Brown’s style, they could probably come up with more. The followers of Sai Baba can also claim that Sai Baba is an incarnation of Jesus, if they haven’t done so already"

As if Sai Baba claimed to be HaShem at all, let alone claim to be Yeshua. Sai Baba's followers don't claim Sai to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to begin with. Hinduism is idolatrous through and through.

"II. 7. Page 23
Jesus is the replacement of the ancient Tabernacle”.
So was the body of the Tabernacle “cosubstantial” with God? Was the Tabernacle 100 percent God and 100 percent human?"

Blumenthal completely misses the point Brown and other Trinitarians have made regarding the tabernacle being a foreshadowing or typological point related to Christ. In John 1:14, the word used in the Greek for tabernacled is eskēnōsen (ἐσκήνωσεν) which means literally "pitched his tent". HaShem pitched his tent among the Ancient Israelites and that description John uses to show Jesus is the God of the TANAKH who has taken on himself human flesh. The New Testament frequently uses typology to demonstrate how the TANAKH points to Christ. Of course, considering LimitBreak9001 is heavily influenced by Yisroel Blumenthal if I recall correctly, Blumenthal will probably, if he reads this article, dismiss this point as a cheap cop-out as LimitBreak did.

" II. 9. Objection 3.4
Here Brown addresses a basic Jewish objection. According to Deuteronomy 13 Jesus was a false prophet because he advocated worship of himself. Brown responds by informing us that all of Jesus’ miracles pointed to God, and directed people’s devotion to God.

Again, Brown misses the point of the objection. Brown claims that everything Jesus did was for the glory of the God of Israel. These are word games. The worship of the Christian is motivated by an awe and a reverence for the suffering experienced by a human body. The devotion of the Christian is inspired by the righteousness that was allegedly displayed by a man who lived on this earth, breathed the same air that we do, and died. The Christian considers these to be acts of the god to whom he is directing his devotion. This is not the worship of the God of Israel. This is not devotion to the Creator of heaven and earth. This is worship of something that is smaller than heaven and earth. Our devotion is due to God because He is our Creator. To direct the devotion due to God towards a created being is idolatry.

Another way to approach this would be to ask Brown, if the entire function of Jesus was to point people to the God of Israel, then why are you trying to convert people who already worship the God of Israel? The fact that Jesus’ followers encourage people to direct devotion to Jesus even if their heart already belongs to God, tells us that Jesus is not pointing people TO the God of Israel. He is pointing people AWAY from the God of Israel.
Another way of formulating this point would be to ask Brown or any Christian: “do you really believe that devotion to Jesus is only a means through which a higher goal can be reached?”"

This argument would have weight against Arian and Unitarian "Christians", not really against Trinitarians. If Jesus was merely a created being and agent of the Father and not HaShem incarnate, then yes, I would be on the same page as Blumenthal in condemning this kind of devotion to a man. Also, Pointing to Christ as the objection of the devotion would not detract from the fact that Jesus in John 5:22-23 that ALL men are to honor HIM as they honor the Father, which would entail worship considering it is the highest honor you give to the Father, though the word for worship is not used. Although Unitarians (excluding Modalists which is another issue) in Christianity do believe as Trinitarians that honouring Jesus is honouring the Father, their theology would have us succumbing to idolatry.

Nakdimon316 explains this point about John 5:22-23 regarding honouring the Son better than I do in his response to Muslim apologist Sami Zaatari on the Deity of Christ. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU4u83ysSQ0 (Refuting Sami Zaatari 02 point 5-8.

Another point, Jesus made it clear that the one who doesn't honor him doesn't honor the Father who sent him. This point is hammered home also in 1 John 2:19-22 by John.

"II. 11. Objection 3.9
Here Brown puts another objection into the mouth of the Jew in order to be able to condemn Judaism. Brown has the Jew arguing that the sacrificial system of scripture was repudiated and replaced.
Judaism never repudiated the sacrificial system. It is Christianity which repudiates the entire sacrificial system. Jews who are loyal to God and His word believe in every detail of the sacrificial system as taught by Moses. We study its intricate laws and we hope and pray for the restoration of the system. It is Christianity who does not satisfy itself with the anti-scriptural teaching that the sacrifices were replaced by Jesus. The author of Hebrews takes this rebellion against God’s word one step further. He tells his readers that the sacrifices of the Hebrew Scriptures never really atoned at all (Hebrews 10:4)".

Let's read Hebrews 10:1-4
"10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”[a]
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

Christianity does not repudiate the sacrificial system, The point the writer is making is the animals were insufficient in taking away sins completely and all they could do is cover a person until the Messiah came to take away their sins, that's all it is saying. The author is saying that Christ's death is a far superior atonement than the animal sacrifices because it actually takes away our sins. The New Testament states that the sacrificial system was replaced by something better or rather fulfilled in Christ.

More arguments will be addressed in future articles if the Lord Wills.

Answering Judaism.

(Edits conducted on this article will be done without warning).

Part 2 here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/examination-of-some-arguments-raised-by_25.html