Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

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cnorman18

Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #1

Post by cnorman18 »

This is a reedited version of one of my first posts on this forum, from five years ago. I think it bears repeating.

A word before I begin:

This post is NOT an attack on Christianity; nor is this post an invitation to debate. This post is intended to EXPLAIN something that very many non-Jews, including many Christians but also including many others, do not, apparently, understand.

Jews, as a rule, do not comment on the truth or falsehood of any other faith, and that includes the Christian faith; we have no right. We only claim to know how, in the words of our tradition, God chose to speak to US. If He chose to speak to another people in another manner, that is no business of ours, and we have no warrant to say that He did not. Only in the matter of literally worshiping idols as divine beings do we pronounce judgment, and that is rather rare in the modern world.

The battle has never been between Christians and Jews, anyway. We are on the same side. On the other side are today's idol-worshippers -- those who worship things; money, power, fame, gratification, status. May we both always remember that.

This post is also not addressed to atheists. I have spoken on the radically different theology (insofar as it exists) of the Jewish religion elsewhere, and many times noted the fact that very many Jews ARE atheists; but all of those issues, and the debates and discussions connected thereto, are not for this thread, and I will not be dealing with them here.

This post is on the rather more limited topic of why the Jews did not, and do not, accept Jesus as our Messiah.

That some few have, and do, does not matter. Peace to them, but there are reasons why very few Jews who are familiar with and committed to their faith and tradition ever have, or ever will, believe in Jesus. This post is an effort to explain some of the most important of those reasons. If you do not agree with them, that is your right, but these matters are not, for Jews, open to debate or argument.

To begin, then:

Jesus, to put it plainly, simply did not perform the very specific actions that the Messiah was expected to do. There can be no "wiggle room" here; the tradition has been constant for, quite literally, thousands of years, and it has not changed.

The issue was never that there were certain "prophecies" that the Messiah had to "fulfill," as many seem to think; most of the “prophecies� which it is claimed that Jesus fulfilled were never considered “prophecies� by Jews in the first place (the very term has a different meaning in the Jewish religion, which is only occasionally related to “foretelling the future�). The Messiah was never to be identified by “prophecy�; he was to be identified by the PERFORMANCE of certain concrete, real-world actions. To do them was to be the Messiah, and the meaning of the word "Messiah" was "the man who does these things."

Jesus did not do them. He was not the Messiah. There is no "therefore," because the phrases are synonymous.

Jesus fulfilled one and only one attribute of the Messiah; he was of the tribe of Judah. Much is made of this in two of the Gospels, Matthew and Luke, with elaborate genealogies given for Mary, and, oddly, for Joseph.

Other than that, St. Paul and the Gospels to the contrary, Jesus did nothing expected of the Messiah. Three such expectations will suffice for our purposes: (1) The Messiah was to be a military and/or a political leader, an actual, rightful King who would restore the line of David to the throne of Israel and reign in Jerusalem as the actual, literal earthly monarch of the Jewish nation. (2) He would restore the political independence of the land of Israel and free it from foreign rule. (3) Most importantly, he would institute a reign of perfect peace, justice, liberty and piety that would shortly extend over all the earth -- in THIS world and THIS life; not in a symbolic or “spiritual� way, but in literal, present human history. This last is, as I say, the most important task of all; the Messiah would institute the Messianic Age. He was named for it, and it was named for him. The two would come together, or not at all. They were, and remain, one.

It seems rather clear that none of these occurred, and most glaringly the last, which was and has always been the most important sign and task of the Messiah. The short answer, for many Jews, to the question "Why don't you believe in Jesus?" is "Oy! Look around!" The Messiah has not come.

Another issue is that Jesus claimed (or it was claimed for him) that he had power and authority that no Jew could or would claim for any man, and power and authority far beyond any that were ever attributed to the coming Messiah. These claims were and are alien to Judaism, and in fact often blasphemous from a Jewish point of view. It was even claimed that Jesus was God incarnate, that a human being was, in fact and truth, God Almighty Himself.

It would be hard to think of an idea more repugnant to Jews, then or now. The oldest and most fundamental and nonnegotiable tenet of Judaism is that God is One, which means a good deal more than "one God." Among other things, it means that God is unique and indivisible, and shares His Essence and Being with no one and nothing. He is Alone. He is One.

It would be easier for Jews to begin chowing down on ham-and-Swiss sandwiches on Yom Kippur than to accept the claim that a man could be, in any sense, God. The Messiah was never conceived to be anything other than an ordinary mortal man; anointed by God, to be sure, but no more a God himself than King David was. There is no hint of such a thing in any Jewish tradition; it is about as likely as the High Priest carving a stone idol and placing it in the Holy of Holies. It was, and remains, quite literally unthinkable. (The one -- count ‘em, ONE -- verse from Scripture that is commonly given as proof that this notion DID have a part in Jewish tradition is, without apology, a gross misreading and mistranslation of the passage in question; and it is also unique. The idea that such a radical departure from the ancient tenets of the Jewish religion would not be known and even heavily emphasized throughout Jewish teachings over the centuries is more than a little ludicrous.)

Second, Jesus was said to be the literal son of God. This was way beyond bizarre. The idea that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Moses and Sinai, could or would come down to earth and father a human child is as foreign to Judaism as temple prostitution. That is a Greek idea, not a Jewish one -- consider Zeus and Hercules -- and it may be no coincidence that Paul was speaking to Greeks, not Jews, when he formulated it. There has never been anything within a light-year of that idea anywhere in all the enormous tradition and long history of the Jewish people. It is, again, unthinkable:

Third, Jesus claimed the power and authority to forgive sins.

All sins.

Now this is more difficult, because this is not widely known: Jews do not believe that God Himself has that power. God can forgive sins against Himself--ritual offenses, broken vows, and so on--but no more; a sin against another human must be forgiven by that person, or not at all. (This is why there can be no forgiveness for murder. The only one with the power to forgive is dead. This is also why the Jews of today cannot "forgive" the Holocaust. You must ask the six million for that forgiveness; we have no right to give it.)

By claiming this power, Jesus was not claiming to be coequal with God, but in fact greater than God. No wonder some tore their robes when they heard him speak.

And again, as if all this were not enough -- it was claimed that Jesus took on a role that had never been contemplated by any Jew from Abraham onward, a role that was not necessary and was, again, alien to the whole of Jewish teachings and traditions from the beginning to the present day -- the role of “Savior.� it is claimed that Jesus was the sacrifice that saves all men from their sins, and that this salvation is accessed by believing in it.

This seems simple; but for Jews, there are no less than six separate problems here.

First, the idea that people need to be saved from their sins in the first place. Jews have never believed in "Original Sin," nor that all people are born sinful. We believe that everyone has an impulse to do good, and an impulse to do evil, and that these remain with us all our lives; our job is to follow the first and resist (or redirect) the second to the best of our ability.

Second, St. Paul to the contrary, Jews have never taught, nor do we believe, that we are obligated to fulfill "the whole of the Law" or face eternal damnation. We believe that, since God made us, He knows our imperfection and our weakness, and does not demand that we be perfect and without fault or flaw. That would be the act of an unjust God, and we do not believe that God is unjust.

Third, Jews do not believe that any human can bear the sins of another. That principle is underlined in the Torah over and over again. Each man bears his own sins, and that cannot be changed. Sins are forgiven through prayer, repentance, and “deeds of lovingkindness.� No blood is necessary.

Fourth, we do not believe that a "sacrifice" is necessary to obtain forgiveness for sins, whether animal or human (and the idea of a human sacrifice is so far from any Jewish belief or practice that it is barely comprehensible that anyone would even propose it as a possibility). It is true that animal sacrifices were performed in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, but it is clear throughout the Torah and the Prophets that the sacrifice itself was meaningless without the repentance and devotion of the individual human heart.

Fifth, in Judaism, "belief" accomplishes precisely nothing by itself. There is no Creed in Judaism, no specified set of acceptable beliefs. What one "believes" is all but insignificant next to what one does, and no amount of "belief" cancels or ameliorates the results of one's actions. Believing the proper "doctrines" in Judaism is utterly irrelevant to anything at all.

A concrete example, put simply: if I am in need, what do I care what you "believe"? Will you help me, or not? Nothing else matters.

Sixth, Jews are not even certain that there is a Heaven at all. Judaism has rather little concern with the afterlife; it isn't mentioned in the Torah, and belief in it seems to have been entirely absent from its teachings in the early years of our religion. Even those Jews who do believe in Heaven spend little time or energy thinking and talking about it -- and there is no belief in an eternal fiery Hell at all, anywhere in all of Jewish history or tradition. The point of the Jewish religion is THIS life in THIS world. The next, we leave to God. “Salvation,� in the Christian sense of “going to Heaven,� is a non-issue for Jews. It is not even a peripheral interest, let alone a central principle.

As you can see, though Judaism and Christianity share an ethic, basic values, and many religious practices, as well as (in part) common literature, our views of the nature and structure of the relationship between God and man, the nature and importance of sin and the means of its forgiveness, the significance of the afterlife, and many other matters, are so profoundly different that they really do constitute two entirely separate religions. That one was derived from the other, and that we share a large body of Scripture, no longer matters. We stand beside each other as brothers; but we have long since taken separate paths. We ought to respect one another and work together where our ideals and ethics converge in the real world -- which is almost everywhere. Where our beliefs differ, we should agree to disagree and leave each other alone.

One more note: It is wholly illegitimate and improper for a follower of any faith to attempt to dictate to a follower of another what his beliefs OUGHT to be, then castigate him because they do not follow his prescription. No one has any warrant to point out passages of "prophecy" in our own Scriptures that we do not, and have never, read as such, and overrule the traditions and beliefs that we have held for more than three thousand years--and tell us what we ought to think and believe. No one has that right.

We have no warrant to deny that Jesus is your Savior, or to deny that, for you, any belief you may hold about him is true. That is between you and God, and is none of our business; for all any Jew knows, those beliefs are true and correct for Christians and God will honor them. Jesus may very well be YOUR Messiah, even though he is not ours. That is not for us to say.

But in the same way, it is not your right to insist that we abandon our own beliefs and convictions in favor of an understanding of our own Scriptures that we have never held. As I say; this matter is not open to debate. This determination was made by my people two thousand years ago, and it is reaffirmed in every generation.

Thank you for reading. May we all work together for the good of the Kingdom of God and forgive each other our disagreements.

I'll close with a saying from the Talmud. When the sages of old disagreed and could find no way to reconcile their differences, they would often allow both rulings to stand as equally acceptable options in Jewish law. When asked how this was possible, it was said that "When Elijah comes, he will explain which of us was right--or why we both were."

In that spirit, I'll also offer this: I have said for many years that, when (if) the Messiah finally comes, the Jews will look up and say, “You’re here!� the Christians will look up and say, “You’re back!� -- and then we’ll all hug each other and laugh about it.

Peace to all.

Charles

cnorman18

Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #31

Post by cnorman18 »

Jayhawker Soule wrote:
A Troubled Man wrote:
cnorman18 wrote:
Er, that's the way Judaism has ALWAYS worked. Of what does a "religion" consist if not the beliefs of the people who follow it? There is no Central Authority in Judaism to make such determinations, and there has not been one since the Sanhedrin was finally dissolved in 358 CE.
Er, isn't God the central authority in any religion?
No. Next.
(Sigh) If only I could learn to be that succinct...

Well said.

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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #32

Post by A Troubled Man »

Jayhawker Soule wrote:
A Troubled Man wrote:
cnorman18 wrote:
Er, that's the way Judaism has ALWAYS worked. Of what does a "religion" consist if not the beliefs of the people who follow it? There is no Central Authority in Judaism to make such determinations, and there has not been one since the Sanhedrin was finally dissolved in 358 CE.
Er, isn't God the central authority in any religion?
No. Next.
Typical. Next.

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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #33

Post by A Troubled Man »

cnorman18 wrote:
That was one opinion among several at that link, and that -- once again -- comes back to how one wishes to define "religion." Obviously Ms. Oko, who made those remarks, defines "religion" as "belief in God." That's a valid enough opinion, but there are others that are just as valid.
What other valid opinions as to the definition of religion are there? Why do we not see them contained within the standard definition? What I usually see as a definition for religion is the belief in a supernatural deity that controls human destinies.

How is it that we can define religion as we wish?
The idea in that book is that "religion" is a category which did not exist for Jews before the Enlightenment, since for us, culture, heritage, belief, practice and community were all pretty much the same thing. They still are, and one emphasizes the parts of the whole that one chooses; but before that time, the distinctions did not matter, because were were, through no choice of our own, almost entirely isolated from the Gentile world. We lived in separate communities, either shtetls, separate villages, in rural areas, and ghettos (often walled) in towns. The distinction between "religious" and "secular" did not exist for us, and Jews who did not believe were still embraced by the community as a matter of solidarity and survival; they had nowhere else to go. Further, the kind or style of a "proper" belief in God has never been defined in the Jewish religion. My own belief in God, for instance, would hardly be recognizable as such a belief by one who holds supernaturalistic and literalist views -- but both are well within the spectrum of acceptable Jewish belief, as is no belief in God at all.
Sorry, but isolation from other cultures or communities does not preclude ignoring, rejecting or changing definitions.

I still see a major contradiction there with Jewish beliefs in God or no God at all and have yet to see any explanations.
If one insists that "religion" MUST entail a belief in a personal God -- well, then some, even many, Jews cannot be called "religious." If one assumes that "religion" entails a belief in a personal God with all the usual characteristics -- omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, wholly good, and so on -- then very many more Jews would not be "religious." Of course, very many Jews ARE "religious" in that conventional and familiar way.
It does not appear that the word "personal" is a requirement for belief in God.
However, if one wishes to make a distinction between styles of belief, and between belief and absence of belief, and redefine some categories as "religion" and exclude others, one must deal with the fact that we Jews ourselves make no such distinctions, either between Jews who hold different kinds of beliefs about God or between Jews who hold some such beliefs and those who hold none at all, and have not done so for thousands of years. We don't even know who holds what kinds of beliefs, in practice; we just don't bother to talk about those issues. They are of little to no importance in our "religion," you'll excuse the expression.
And yet, God is of primary importance to the Jewish faith even though many Jews have differing opinions as to how they express their faith. Their opinions do not preclude that primary importance that there is one God and that He is present in their everyday activities.
Sorry, but that doesn't necessarily follow. We don't even talk about these things within the family; they are not that important to us. Even there, one is "allowed" to believe as one chooses. I doubt that my wife, who was born Jewish, could tell you what her parents believed on that score. She herself holds a rather more conventional belief in God than I do; on the other hand, she does not hold any belief in the "Afterlife" at all. We don't argue about it. What would be the point? Can either of us PROVE to the other that our approach is the "correct" one? Judaism is a very practical religion, and we don't waste our time on issues that can neither be finally and conclusively determined -- nor have any practical real-world significance. We don't even argue with each other about the right way to "keep kosher" or whether to keep kosher at all (I and my wife do not). Freedom of thought and practice is the rule. The only restrictions on belief are against following the tenets of OTHER religions, e.g. worshiping multiple gods, or Allah, or of course a divine Jesus (as discussed in the rest of this thread).
Ah, now we're getting somewhere. If there is no importance held in God and some Jews consider themselves atheist, there is no reason why they can't follow the tenets of other religions.
LOL! If one does not BELIEVE in God, that "authority" obviously doesn't apply; but even if one does, God would only be the "central authority" in theory. In practice, the idea is meaningless -- and again, Judaism is a very practical religion, in that it concerns itself with real things in the real world, most notably ethical behavior and community. Without prejudice as to whether God ever spoke directly to humans in the past, he certainly does not do so NOW; and since we do not regard the Torah itself as finally authoritative, and since NO ONE is acknowledged as speaking for God, what's left? Just us.
Then, the entire premise of God and His commands are irrelevant to Judaism, which of course is not the case at all. Sorry, I just don't buy that contradiction.
In the Jewish religion, humans, through the collective consensus of the wisest in the community, who are also identified by consensus, are the ultimate authority.
LOL! So much for God then, at least, for those who are supposed to follow His commandments and the tenets of Judaism. Humans speaking for God.


This is not a matter of human arrogance; Jews believe that we were, and are, commanded to do this in the Torah itself.

We are to work out the meaning of the Law in every generation, while never turning our backs on the tradition--the cumulative wisdom and judgment of the generations of the Wise who came before us.
So, the Torah has nothing to do with gods and everything to do with what men have contrived about gods.

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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #34

Post by Jayhawker Soule »

A Troubled Man wrote: What other valid opinions as to the definition of religion are there? Why do we not see them contained within the standard definition? What I usually see as a definition for religion is the belief in a supernatural deity that controls human destinies.
Do you insist, for example, that Taoism is not religions?

cnorman18

Post #35

Post by cnorman18 »

A Troubled Man wrote:
cnorman18 wrote:
That was one opinion among several at that link, and that -- once again -- comes back to how one wishes to define "religion." Obviously Ms. Oko, who made those remarks, defines "religion" as "belief in God." That's a valid enough opinion, but there are others that are just as valid.
What other valid opinions as to the definition of religion are there? Why do we not see them contained within the standard definition? What I usually see as a definition for religion is the belief in a supernatural deity that controls human destinies.

How is it that we can define religion as we wish?
As I said:
If one insists that "religion" MUST entail a belief in a personal God -- well, then some, even many, Jews cannot be called "religious." If one assumes that "religion" entails a belief in a personal God with all the usual characteristics -- omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, wholly good, and so on -- then very many more Jews would not be "religious." Of course, very many Jews ARE "religious" in that conventional and familiar way.
Funny you didn’t get the point of that, even though you quoted it below. You can define “religion� any way you like. Neither I, nor Jews in general, are obligated to define it in the same way as you or anyone else, including any “standard definition.�

As I’ve said many, many times here, There is no such thing as “religion.� There are only religions, and there is no single characteristic, belief, practice or attitude that is common to them all. That is an objective fact. Insist on a “standard definition� if you like; no one else is required to buy into it, and there will always be many religions, and not only Judaism, that do not fit it.

As I also said,
However, if one wishes to make a distinction between styles of belief, and between belief and absence of belief, and redefine some categories as "religion" and exclude others, one must deal with the fact that we Jews ourselves make no such distinctions, either between Jews who hold different kinds of beliefs about God or between Jews who hold some such beliefs and those who hold none at all, and have not done so for thousands of years. We don't even know who holds what kinds of beliefs, in practice; we just don't bother to talk about those issues. They are of little to no importance in our "religion," you'll excuse the expression.
Again, you quoted that without getting the point. If you don’t wish to regard some varieties of Jewish belief and practice as “religious,� that’s fine with me. Knock yourself out. I don’t think that’s going to matter much to many other Jews, either; we don’t make those distinctions.

We’re rather used to being judged and found wanting by others, in many ways and for many reasons. It’s never mattered much; we do what we do. If there’s a problem there, it’s your problem, and not ours.

Let me make something clear to you: I’m trying to tell you how these ideas work in the Jewish tradition. That’s all. I’m not trying to justify it or make it palatable to you or show how it fits your assumptions and stereotypes. The Jewish religion is qualitatively and practically different from other religions, whether you accept that idea or not. I’m trying to show you HOW it’s different, and nothing more.

If you’re here to argue that I’m wrong or that Judaism shouldn’t be what it is or that I’m thinking about these concepts in the wrong way, you’re wasting your time. I’m not interested in that conversation.
The idea in that book is that "religion" is a category which did not exist for Jews before the Enlightenment, since for us, culture, heritage, belief, practice and community were all pretty much the same thing. They still are, and one emphasizes the parts of the whole that one chooses; but before that time, the distinctions did not matter, because were were, through no choice of our own, almost entirely isolated from the Gentile world. We lived in separate communities, either shtetls, separate villages, in rural areas, and ghettos (often walled) in towns. The distinction between "religious" and "secular" did not exist for us, and Jews who did not believe were still embraced by the community as a matter of solidarity and survival; they had nowhere else to go. Further, the kind or style of a "proper" belief in God has never been defined in the Jewish religion. My own belief in God, for instance, would hardly be recognizable as such a belief by one who holds supernaturalistic and literalist views -- but both are well within the spectrum of acceptable Jewish belief, as is no belief in God at all.
Sorry, but isolation from other cultures or communities does not preclude ignoring, rejecting or changing definitions.
Like I said -- problems of “definition� are yours, not mine. If we choose to call it a “religion,� WHATEVER we believe or don’t, that doesn’t mean you are obligated to agree. If you don’t, that bothers me and other Jews not at all. If it bothers you -- well, like I said...
I still see a major contradiction there with Jewish beliefs in God or no God at all and have yet to see any explanations.
We don’t see any contradictions, as I’ve been trying to show you. Do you think someone owes you an explanation -- especially one that you will agree with and sign off on?
If one insists...[already quoted above]...
It does not appear that the word "personal" is a requirement for belief in God.
That would be correct.
However, if one insists...[already quoted above)...
And yet, God is of primary importance to the Jewish faith even though many Jews have differing opinions as to how they express their faith. Their opinions do not preclude that primary importance that there is one God and that He is present in their everyday activities.
Not so fast. First, we don’t have “differing opinions on how [we] express [our] faith.� We have differing opinions on what the word “God� means.

What do you mean by “there is one God�? A personal God? A universal Force? The quality of Rationality itself -- the thing that makes the Universe make sense? The quality or power of Life? Consciousness? All of those have been proposed, and none denied or forbidden. Those, and more, all all options for Jewish belief -- and so is the idea that the word “God� is metaphor entirely, a mental construct that we use to think about these matters, but which may or may not have an objective, existent referent. Are you getting this?

The same goes for “present in their everyday activities.� What do you mean by that? I believe that God -- whatever that word means -- shared, or gave, or IS, the power of rational thought and the sense of right and wrong, and that thought and a moral sense are "present in my everyday activities;" if that qualifies, fine. If that’s not what you meant -- well, our concepts of how God might be “present� aren’t so limited and defined. Those words also have no clearly defined referent.

Sorry if you want to make it simple and plain, up/down, yes/no. It isn’t, for us, and there’s no rule nor law nor definition that says it has to be.

Again; you may certainly disagree. That is no concern of ours. And, yes, on this matter I can speak for all Jews.
Sorry, but that doesn't necessarily follow. We don't even talk about these things within the family; they are not that important to us. Even there, one is "allowed" to believe as one chooses. I doubt that my wife, who was born Jewish, could tell you what her parents believed on that score. She herself holds a rather more conventional belief in God than I do; on the other hand, she does not hold any belief in the "Afterlife" at all. We don't argue about it. What would be the point? Can either of us PROVE to the other that our approach is the "correct" one? Judaism is a very practical religion, and we don't waste our time on issues that can neither be finally and conclusively determined -- nor have any practical real-world significance. We don't even argue with each other about the right way to "keep kosher" or whether to keep kosher at all (I and my wife do not). Freedom of thought and practice is the rule. The only restrictions on belief are against following the tenets of OTHER religions, e.g. worshiping multiple gods, or Allah, or of course a divine Jesus (as discussed in the rest of this thread).
Ah, now we're getting somewhere. If there is no importance held in God and some Jews consider themselves atheist, there is no reason why they can't follow the tenets of other religions.
Of course there is; but before we get to that, you’re misquoting. The NATURE or DEFINITION of God is of little or no importance; that is not the same thing. Further, the passage you quote above is in response to your remark that parents are going to make sure that their children believe in the same way they do. Jewish parents make sure their children understand that they are JEWS; what they specifically believe within that broad spectrum is left up to them. As I’ve also said many times, Judaism is more a matter of IDENTITY for us than of a specific set of required beliefs, as is the case in most, if not all, other religions. That's just the way it is.

When it comes to “following the tenets of other religions,� there is also TRADITION. It has been said that Judaism IS tradition. We honor that tradition and that heritage, and affirm ourselves as members of that community. We are not bound by abstract definitions, or lists of beliefs and doctrines, or rules concocted by others; but there are limits nevertheless. As I’ve often said; there are no PRESCRIBED or REQUIRED beliefs in the Jewish religion, but there are some that are forbidden. That’s been our way for three or four thousand years. We’re not going to revise things because you don’t agree. We do change our practices and perspectives over the centuries, but we do it as WE choose, as a people. If you’re not Jewish, you don’t get a vote and your opinion is irrelevant.

Like I said; I’m not here to satisfy your standards or definitions.
LOL! If one does not BELIEVE in God, that "authority" obviously doesn't apply; but even if one does, God would only be the "central authority" in theory. In practice, the idea is meaningless -- and again, Judaism is a very practical religion, in that it concerns itself with real things in the real world, most notably ethical behavior and community. Without prejudice as to whether God ever spoke directly to humans in the past, he certainly does not do so NOW; and since we do not regard the Torah itself as finally authoritative, and since NO ONE is acknowledged as speaking for God, what's left? Just us.
Then, the entire premise of God and His commands are irrelevant to Judaism...
I never said that nor hinted at it. The stories in the Torah are our LITERATURE and our HERITAGE. Whether God ever actually spoke directly to anyone is not important; the laws stand on their own, because they have been reaffirmed by rational human thought and debate in every generation for centuries on end. That’s what “tradition� means. We take the Torah seriously, but not necessarily literally.
...which of course is not the case at all.
Of course it isn’t, and I have just given you the reason.
Sorry, I just don't buy that contradiction.
For us, there is none.
In the Jewish religion, humans, through the collective consensus of the wisest in the community, who are also identified by consensus, are the ultimate authority.
LOL! So much for God then, at least, for those who are supposed to follow His commandments and the tenets of Judaism. Humans speaking for God.
You are pretending that there is no tradition of debate and thought that reaffirms all these things, going back for thousands of years. We don’t get to start from scratch in every generation; that’s part of the tradition, too. We continue the conversation that started with our ancestors, and it continues to this day. Jewish thought is a living conversation, consisting of many different voices, between past and present, and open to the future; it is not a static set of unchanging concepts and beliefs and definitions that must be swallowed whole. The conversation within the community continues, and a Jew may participate whether he believes that the Torah was given by God or figured out by men. BOTH perspectives are permitted.

You seem to be having a hard time grasping what I’m telling you Again, it seems to me that you want to simplify everything and make Judaism into some sort of crypto-fundamentalism: believe THIS way or it isn’t “religion� -- and if it doesn’t fit that simplistic paradigm, then it’s nothing at all.

Sorry. We go our own way. No one says you have to see things as we do, and no one particularly cares if you don’t. We’re not out to make converts. Think as you like; we don’t claim to have the Only True Truth. (That we don’t is an old Jewish tradition, too.)

This is not a matter of human arrogance; Jews believe that we were, and are, commanded to do this in the Torah itself.

We are to work out the meaning of the Law in every generation, while never turning our backs on the tradition--the cumulative wisdom and judgment of the generations of the Wise who came before us.
So, the Torah has nothing to do with gods and everything to do with what men have contrived about gods.
[/quote]
Isn’t “contrived� a rather polemic choice of words? How about “conceived� or “understood�? In any case, some actually do believe in that way (excepting the rather precious little gibe of “gods,� of course). But then, some also believe that the Torah WAS dictated by God Himself; most are somewhere in between; and very many don’t bother to think about it at all, because the Torah, the TRADITION, is what matters, not coming to some rigid conclusion about where it came from and enforcing that belief -- which is just another clumsy human attempt to define God and His role in the world, and thus limit Him and put Him in a nice neat little intellectual box where He can be fully understood and controlled. That can’t be done, and it’s a waste of time to try. Who says that we have to set up these absolutely irrelevant and impractical and meaningless hoops, and then force each other to jump through them?

Sorry. Like I said -- Judaism is a PRACTICAL religion. If you expect us to waste a lot of energy determining, or pontificating on, things that can’t be proven or verified, and establishing whether they fit this or that definition, and doing likewise on exactly what “God� is and what everyone is supposed to think and believe about Him -- well, you are knocking on the wrong door. You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last to try; but you don’t get to tell us how to think about our religion, or even whether or not we have the right to call it that. We go our own way. In that way, we are STiLL separated from the Gentile world. The standards of other religions or philosophies are for those who follow them. We have our own, thanks.

Let me remind you now, once again, of something from an earlier post on this thread, and your response to it:
This post is also not addressed to atheists. I have spoken on the radically different theology (insofar as it exists) of the Jewish religion elsewhere, and many times noted the fact that very many Jews ARE atheists; but all of those issues, and the debates and discussions connected thereto, are not for this thread, and I will not be dealing with them here.
Your reply, again, in your first post to this thread, begins with: "That's fair..."

This thread is on the very specific issue of why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah. If you want to go farther into the issues you keep bringing up here, I suggest that you do so on another thread, as I implicltly requested in my OP.

In the interest of returning to the topic, if anyone is still interested in pursuing it, I will ask you directly not to continue in this vein on this thread, and I here inform you that I will not respond further to your remarks here.

I think I’ve made myself clear anyway. You may define any word you wish any way you wish; you may view Judaism in any way you like. As I say, we are rather used to being judged and found wanting. But somehow, we seem to keep on doing what we do without paying much attention to the prescriptions and objections of others.

If you don’t get it, or if you don’t like it, or if you don’t agree -- well, that’s okay with me. I’m just trying to show you that we think differently. I don’t need your approval.

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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #36

Post by Goat »

A Troubled Man wrote:
Goat wrote:
Well, I can verify at least one :P . I suggest you look up 'Humanistic Judaism' also. They have rejected the supernatural claims of Judaism, but still practice Judaism.
It truly is fascinating to see folks like them deciding what they want to believe in their religions as opposed to what their religions want them to believe.

Perhaps, that's exactly the way religions are supposed to work. ;)
Could be. They think so... and honestly.. I think the choices they made are much more rational than many.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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Post #37

Post by Artie »

McCulloch wrote: I wish that all people of faith (and those of us without) could learn from the wisdom expressed in this post.
I second that. The OP is wise.

cnorman18

Post #38

Post by cnorman18 »

Artie wrote:
McCulloch wrote: I wish that all people of faith (and those of us without) could learn from the wisdom expressed in this post.
I second that. The OP is wise.
Thanks very much, to both of you; but again, this is not my own wisdom. It is all from Jewish teaching and tradition.

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Post #39

Post by faroukfarouk »

Greetings to all
While the moderators make a decision on Are Jews a Race thread i have found this thread very interesting.I don't think all Jews accept Charles view point and hence the question of Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah could be a very interesting discussion.
Before i continue i noticed that Charles stated at the very beginning of this post that it is not an invitation for debate.
Charles my question is can i discuss the question of Jesus the Jewish Messiah on this thread or should i open a new thread.
Await your reply.

May peace and blessings be upon Prophet Jesus and his mother Mary.

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Post #40

Post by Goat »

faroukfarouk wrote: Greetings to all
While the moderators make a decision on Are Jews a Race thread i have found this thread very interesting.I don't think all Jews accept Charles view point and hence the question of Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah could be a very interesting discussion.
Before i continue i noticed that Charles stated at the very beginning of this post that it is not an invitation for debate.
Charles my question is can i discuss the question of Jesus the Jewish Messiah on this thread or should i open a new thread.
Await your reply.

May peace and blessings be upon Prophet Jesus and his mother Mary.
No, he is absolutely and totally correct. Jesus also wasn't a Prophet for the Jews..
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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