Mithrae wrote: cnorman18 wrote: Mithrae wrote:
But having read through Cnorman's first post, I don't think I saw any biblical references to this 'messiah' he's talking about. Without subjecting themsleves to accusation of eisegesis, Christians may have no reference to 'messiah' besides Daniel 9 - but by that same standard, what 'messiah' references do Jews have?
To my mind it seems self-evident that 19th or 20th century Judaism no more represents 1st century Judaism than 19th or 20th century Christianity represents 1st or 2nd century Christianity. So we're reduced (sigh) to the level of looking at ancient writings rather than taking folks' word for it. Was the 'interpretation' and wishful thinking of 1st century Jews obviously superior to the 'interpretation' and wishful thinking of 1st century Christians?
For starters, you're laboring under a very common misconception; that the Tanakh holds the same sort of ultimate authority for Jews that the Christian Bible holds for Christians. It doesn't, and never did. Jewish teachings and practices cannot be derived from the Bible; the Bible, for Jews, is unintelligible without the assistance of the tradition of teaching, interpretation, and debate that we have maintained and revised for many centuries. Much of it can be found in the Talmud, but by no means all. That tradition of debate and revision continues to this day.
The same is true of Christians, of course, but only the Roman Catholic Church explicitly acknowledges the fact; there are TWO authorities in the RCC -- the Bible and Holy Mother Church. Protestants, too, have their own interpretations of Scripture which take precedence over other readings, but each sect generally just maintains that its particular reading is the only acceptable one. Sola Scriptura
has always been an unsustainable claim; without some system or tradition of interpretation, the Bible is almost completely opaque.
Jewish thought about the Messiah has changed a very great deal since the first century; today, very many Jews no longer speak of a personal Messiah at all, but of a "Messianic Age." It is also a common belief that the Messiah will not be the agent who institutes a time of perfect peace and justice, but that that is OUR job, we humans (not just Jews), and that the Messiah will come only after that job is accomplished. There are other schools of thought as well, but none of them hold that Jesus was in any sense the Jewish Messiah.
For an excellent discussion and explanation of the rejection of Jesus in his own day, one might consult David Klinghoffer's excellent book, Why The Jews Rejected Jesus.[/i]
For a more modern explanation, consult any good book on basic Judaism, such as Judaism for Dummies
or Milton Steinberg's Basic Judaism.
Excellent points. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me like the Jewish Messiah concept is in many ways comparable to the Christians' hypostatic union; derived from scriptures, with a healthy dose of historical developments/tradition, but not explicitly named or clearly spelled out in those scriptures. Jesus' supposed nature as both God and man is very much an acknowledged and indeed non-negotiable aspect of many Christian sects, but because it's not clearly spelled out in any single bible passage we still have healthy debates cropping up on occasion about whether Jesus was (or claimed to be) God - and to my mind it's areas of ambiguity like that which make religion a subject of continual interest.
I'd be surprised if there were any sect of Judaism, Christianity or Islam which follows with anywhere near complete consistency from the earlier canons of scripture which is why, as you note, they've all been developing and changing across the millenia in response to changes in circumstances, culture and civilization. The world would no doubt be a happier place if members of those groups would embrace their shared heritage and commonalities rather than fixating on their differences. It's always puzzled me, for example, why Protestants don't laud Muhammad as something of a reformer against the degenerate Christianity of his day, his views not so different from the early Ebionites. Ironically the Roman Catholic Church has gone further in recognising Islam than most Protestants
Anyways, long story short I agree that Christians or Muslims trying to persuade Jews that Jesus was the Messiah is little more than an exercise in futility, especially when a large part of the effort relies on gospel stories which may have been crafted to fit their (often misunderstood) prophecies. But by the same token (and my initial reason for posting), sceptics or Jews trying to tell Christians that Jesus wasn't
the Messiah because he didn't fulfill the prophecies would apparently be misunderstanding the fluid nature of the concept relative to scripture itself. In other words, seems to me that any claimed 'messianic prophecies' are an expression of cultural interpretation for Jews and Christians alike - there are no objective criteria.
Well, since Jews, unlike either Christians or Muslims, don't claim to be the keepers of the One True Faith -- and since the Messiah-concept is all but irrelevant to Judaism today - I guess I'm OK with all that. I have no intention of telling Christians not to worship Jesus, or follow Jesus, or whatever it is they do. Like I keep saying, not my business. In that first post of mine to which I posted a link, I mentioned my own suspicion that Jesus was sent as a "Messiah" to the Gentiles. My own rabbi raised an eyebrow at hearing that, but admitted that he had no warrant to say that idea was wrong. Me, I don't claim to know.
I just know that Jesus wasn't the JEWISH Messiah. Beyond that, I have no reason to go.
I don't think the three faiths will ever merge, or anything like it -- they are far too different, with different basic premises, attitudes, and goals. It would be nice if we could drop the mutual hostility, though. From where I sit, we Jews have more often been the object of hostility than its bearers, but of course I admit to some bias in that regard.
Whatever. I think a good first step would be if Islam and Christianity stopped declaring other religions false. That doesn't mean accepting them as true; just leaving it up to God. I'm doubtful whether that's possible, either.
ETA: You're right. The fact is, it was rare even in Jesus's day for a Jew to know which tribe he was from, other than Levites and Kohanim. It's even rarer today. I'd add that I'm not all that sure that Jesus thought of himself as the Messiah anyway. I think it rather more likely that he was an early reformer, a "rabbi" (the term was not yet in general use among Jews) of the Pharasaic persuasion, opposed to the Temple hierarchy, who had a LOT of words put in his mouth after the fact.
But, of course, as a Jew, it doesn't matter much to me.