Did History Channel’s “The Bible” get it wrong?

posted at 10:01 am on March 31, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

I’m one of those people who have been tuning in every week to watch The Bible on History Channel. And there are apparently plenty of “those people out there, since the series has been one of the highest rated shows in the network’s history, even beating out the prime time lineups of the major alphabet networks in some cases. I’ve found it both familiar and intriguing and the only complaints I’ve had about it were rather superficial, certainly not rising to the level of turning me off from watching. But how good of a job has Mark Burnett done in bringing the actual Bible to the small screen?

According to at least one Biblical scholar, it’s a pretty good show but it has problems.

Telling the story of The Bible is a tricky business, said biblical scholar Dr. Peter E. Enns, who teaches Biblical Studies at Pennsylvania’s Eastern University. But it was clear, he notes, that series creators Mark Burnett and Roma Downey had an agenda – and that every episode they told had one goal: To get to the climax of Jesus’s life and death.

“They were focusing on the final stage of the Bible story, which is Christ’s appearance,” he said. “It’s all a buildup to that. They take a celebrity approach to The Bible, and highlight the figures people know and present them in ways that make it seem that when you get to Jesus, you’ll feel that this was how it was meant to be all along.”

Dr. Enns has a few specific items from the show to critique, which I’d like to touch on below, but the above paragraph seems to be his overarching gripe with the series. In his view, the show rushed through centuries of history shaping events, treating them as little more than a special effects laden telling of Bible School tales, intent upon getting to the “meat of the story” dealing with Jesus Christ’s adult life.

In some ways you can sympathize with Burnett on that score, since there’s an awful lot to cover in a limited series of two hour shows, but members of the Jewish faith in particular might have felt that the Old Testament stories merited a bit more screen time. Looking deeper, as noted in some of the specific complaints, Dr. Enns seemed to pick up on a bit of extra “flavor” in the telling of some of the earlier tales, imposing parallels to the life of Jesus and making it seem as if they were all prelude to the big event.

Take, for example, his analysis of the story of Samson.

Samson is a “minor character in the Bible,” said Enns, but gets a lot of screen time in the series. Why? He’s a precursor to Christ, said Enns: He gave his life for the community, is unjustly treated, chained and blinded. “We’re seeing Jesus in preview form,” he said.

I’m not sure how much of a “minor character” Sampson is, given his role toward the end of the time that the Children of God were given unto the Philistines. (He was also one of the earliest examples of a guy who was hounded to distraction by his wife, leading to his eventual downfall, but that’s another story.) But he certainly did suffer at the end.

And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free. But he knew not that Jehovah was departed from him. And the Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison-house.

If Dr. Enns is complaining that Samson is being made out as too much of a prelude to Jesus, I suppose I’ll have to take him at his word, but I didn’t react that way when first seeing it.

Some of his other complaints were less based in scripture than in production values and decisions. He notes, as I did on Twitter during the show, that there were a pretty large number of white people with British accents, but it’s a TV show designed for an English speaking audience. And actors traditionally cross many demographic lines from their physical appearance if the portrayal is good. He also touches on the “Satan looks like Obama” complaint, but I certainly didn’t notice it when the show aired, so I pretty much discounted that one.

All in all, I can sympathize with some of Dr. Enn’s issues, but none of them have stopped me from enjoying the show. I plan on watching the conclusion of it tonight, so please don’t put any spoilers in the comments. ;-)

EDIT: (Jazz) Sorry… I didn’t spell Samson correctly.

Happy Easter.


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aunursa on April 7, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Heh. That’s funny. “Increasingly effective Christian evangelism”. Remember when I said, if you think it looks bad from the outside you should see it from the inside?

My view is that they are becoming convinced DESPITE Christian evangelism rather than BECAUSE of it.

I cannot think of a single high profile Christian “evangelist” who I think is worth his or her salt. Maybe they are out there but I just don’t see them. Maybe you do, I don’t know.

No. I think they know that something is up, what with Israel being a nation again, and surrounded by their enemies, etc. I think perhaps it may be JEWISH Christian evangelism, maybe but it certainly isn’t mainstream Christian evangelism. At least not that I’ve seen. Those Jewish believers that I know have told me that it was more a result of their own investigation than anything else. Granted, their curiosity is piqued by the Christian message from Gentiles but I would doubt if it is so much individual conversations such as we are having here.

Cleombrotus on April 7, 2013 at 1:52 PM

My view is that they are becoming convinced DESPITE Christian evangelism rather than BECAUSE of it.

Cleombrotus on April 7, 2013 at 1:52 PM

If you have an hour to spend, take a look at this 2-part Jews for Jesus video seminar: “Witnessing to Jews.” It teaches Gentiles how to bring their Jewish friends to Jesus. What to say, what not to say, how to get their Jewish friends to become comfortable with the idea that they can believe in Jesus and still remain Jewish.

There are more than 100 Christian organizations with the express purpose of bringing the Jewish people to Jesus. There are now several hundred “Messianic congregations” in the United States (and more around the world) that combine Evangelical theology with Jewish traditions and terms. A messianic “synagogue” holds services on Friday night and Saturday, not Sunday. The “rabbi” leads worship, which features readings from the Torah, the Haftarah, and a selection from the “Brit Hadassah” (New Testament.) The congregants wear kippahs and Star of David jewelry. They don’t say “Jesus Christ”, but rather “Yeshua Mashiach.”

aunursa on April 7, 2013 at 2:43 PM

aunursa on April 7, 2013 at 2:43 PM

So, do you think these Jews are stupid?

Cleombrotus on April 7, 2013 at 4:15 PM

So, do you think these Jews are stupid?

Cleombrotus on April 7, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Which Jews? The Jews who convert to Christianity and still call themselves Jews? Why would consider them stupid?

Smart people make mistakes. And many otherwise smart people fall for deceptions. (In this case the deception is not Christianity per se, but accepting Christian theology dressed in Jewish terms and traditions.)

aunursa on April 7, 2013 at 5:15 PM

aunursa on April 7, 2013 at 5:15 PM

But not you though, right?

Cleombrotus on April 7, 2013 at 5:40 PM

But not you though, right?

Cleombrotus on April 7, 2013 at 5:40 PM

I am not perfect. What’s your point?

aunursa on April 7, 2013 at 7:26 PM

Smart people make mistakes.

aunursa on April 7, 2013 at 5:15 PM

It’s not possible that it’s YOU who is making the mistake?

Cleombrotus on April 7, 2013 at 9:44 PM

It’s not possible that it’s YOU who is making the mistake?

Cleombrotus on April 7, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Making WHAT mistake?

aunursa on April 7, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Sorry I fell asleep last night. Very busy this weekend and this week coming up will be busy too.

Hopefully by tonight I can get back here to respond to your posts to me.

God bless you all.

Elisa on April 8, 2013 at 7:59 AM

aunursa,

I can understand your irritation when another religion takes the truths of your faith and your Scriptures and uses them (even with all good intentions and love and sincerity) to come up with beliefs and doctrines that you disagree with or distort your faith. False doctrines or untruth. And your desire to correct what you believe to be falsehood.

To be honest, there have been a few times when I have been irritated by the same thing in relation to the Christian Scriptures and all the many interpretations of them. At an extreme point of distortion, Islam itself is a Judeo Christian heresy. Untruth mixed with truth can often be the most insidious. And the evil one uses it to draw people away from truth.

But Our Lord in the end can and will overcome this. I know you realize that even people with sincere incorrect beliefs can and do love the Lord with all their heart and seek to obey and serve Him. So in the end the evil one fails in his ultimate mission.

God alone reads the hearts and minds of each man. The Holy Spirit speaks to each man in His own way and at different points in their lives. Some ignore God’s call because of sinful reasons (pride, indifference, hatred, stubbornness, laziness, etc.) But others still aren’t there yet on the journey God has set for them. I trust that before a person dies, (even if He appears to them personally in the moments between life and death) God gives sufficient grace for truth to all those who seek it, all those belonging to Him.

I am under no illusions that what I say will get you to change your mind about Christianity. My point throughout this discussion is your statement that ACCORDING TO JEWISH LAW it is impossible for Jesus to be the Messiah. That is not true.

Will come back when I have the chance.

Elisa on April 8, 2013 at 8:47 AM

And you forgot to mention Hebrew Catholics. lol

Elisa on April 8, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Making WHAT mistake?

aunursa on April 7, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Well, we were discussing Jews who believe in Jesus, were we not?

Cleombrotus on April 8, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Well, we were discussing Jews who believe in Jesus, were we not?

Cleombrotus on April 8, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Yes, but I’m not clear what you mean by…

It’s not possible that it’s YOU who is making the mistake?

Cleombrotus on April 7, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Are you referring to my assertion that Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah? My assertion that Christianity is not simply Judaism plus Jesus? Or my assertion that “Messianic Judaism” is nothing more than Christian evangelism masquerading as Judaism in order to deceive naive Jews?

aunursa on April 8, 2013 at 9:53 AM

your statement that ACCORDING TO JEWISH LAW it is impossible for Jesus to be the Messiah.

Not according to Jewish law. According to the Hebrew Bible.

Will come back when I have the chance.

Elisa on April 8, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Take your time. Your real life is more important than this discussion.

aunursa on April 8, 2013 at 10:07 AM

aunursa on April 8, 2013 at 9:53 AM

All of the above. And all of their derivatives. ;)

Cleombrotus on April 8, 2013 at 7:12 PM

All of the above. And all of their derivatives. ;)

Cleombrotus on April 8, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Regarding the 2nd and 3rd assertions, that Christianity is not simply Judaism plus Jesus … and that “Messianic Judaism” is nothing more than Christian evangelism masquerading as Judaism —

No, it’s not possible. “A” and “not A” cannot both be true.

* God cannot be both a singular unity (Judaism) and a tri-unity (Christianity).
* The Messiah cannot be God in human form (Christianity) and not be God (Judaism).
* Angels cannot all have had free will (Christianity) and all not have free will (Judaism).
* The Mosaic laws cannot be eternally binding (Judaism) and fulfilled by Jesus (Christianity).
* A blood sacrifice cannot be the only valid method of atonement (Christianity) and one of several valid methods (Judaism).
* The New Testament cannot be divinely inspired (Christianity) and not be divinely inspired (Judaism).
* The Oral Law cannot be authoritative (Judaism) and not authoritative (Christianity).

My 2nd and 3rd assertions are less important to our discussion than my 1st assertion, but I want you to consider the above before I move on to address whether I could be mistaken regarding Jesus’ messianic candidacy.

aunursa on April 8, 2013 at 9:00 PM

aunursa on April 8, 2013 at 9:00 PM

;) <——- means the same thing as "tongue in cheek"

Cleombrotus on April 8, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Cleombrotus on April 8, 2013 at 9:17 PM

I thought that ;) referred to “And all of their derivatives.”

aunursa on April 9, 2013 at 9:57 AM

aunursa on April 9, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Well, I suppose it does more so than the rest but I have to ask, do you really think we’re getting anywhere any longer?

I mean, I’m happy to continue but it seems that we’re kind of going on circles, no?

Cleombrotus on April 9, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Cleombrotus on April 9, 2013 at 5:52 PM

While I have your attention, may I ask you a question about a New Testament passage? (The Parable of the Prodigal Son)

aunursa on April 9, 2013 at 7:31 PM

aunursa on April 9, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Certainly.

Cleombrotus on April 9, 2013 at 9:22 PM

aunursa on April 9, 2013 at 7:31 PM

And then, if I may, I’d like to ask you one about that passage in Deuteronomy 18.

Cleombrotus on April 9, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Cleombrotus on April 9, 2013 at 9:22 PM

I consider the Parable of the Prodigal Son to be perhaps the most Jewish story in the New Testament. This lesson so perfectly aligns with the Jewish view of atonement. The son sincerely repents, and the father responds with forgiveness and welcoming him back. This is precisely how we see the atonement process. No one has to die to atone for our sins.

I’m perplexed at how Christians can so enjoy this story and yet not recognize the essential meaning.

aunursa on April 9, 2013 at 11:48 PM

Just checking in for a moment, to see if y’all are still alive.
.
Looks good ….. carry on ! . : )

listens2glenn on April 10, 2013 at 12:13 AM

I consider the Parable of the Prodigal Son to be perhaps the most Jewish story in the New Testament. This lesson so perfectly aligns with the Jewish view of atonement. The son sincerely repents, and the father responds with forgiveness and welcoming him back. This is precisely how we see the atonement process. No one has to die to atone for our sins.

I’m perplexed at how Christians can so enjoy this story and yet not recognize the essential meaning.

aunursa on April 9, 2013 at 11:48 PM

Well, again, I think you are looking at the parable as a literalist instead of as a poet. Remember, it IS a parable.

True, no one “died” but if you are going to insist that, in order for the parable to apply to Christian teaching it must include a death you might be overlooking other aspects of the point of Christ’s death. You might be missing the fact that the cost of the son’s profligacy was born by the father and it cost him a great deal and that for which the son was entirely unable to bear himself. This is entirely consistent with the Biblical (both New AND Old Testament) idea of salvation.

There are so many lessons in the parables that it is difficult to single out which one is the essential meaning. The great thing about them is their seemingly endless teachings. There just isn’t enough time and space right now to go into all the lessons we can derive just from this one parable but suffice it to say that we Christians do see Christ’s death in this parable.

Cleombrotus on April 10, 2013 at 8:09 AM

Cleombrotus on April 10, 2013 at 8:09 AM

Thanks for sharing your perspective.

Anyway, you have a question about Deuteronomy 18?

aunursa on April 10, 2013 at 1:07 PM

aunursa on April 10, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Yes. In that passage, Moses tells us that a prophet is coming. How are we to identify this person according to Moses? By what criterion or criteria will we identify him?

Cleombrotus on April 10, 2013 at 8:16 PM

How are we to identify this person according to Moses? By what criterion or criteria will we identify him?

Cleombrotus on April 10, 2013 at 8:16 PM

With Deuteronomy 18, Christians read “a prophet like Moses,” and say, “This is about Jesus!” Christians recite all of the ways that Jesus was similar to Moses and ignore all of the ways that Jesus was different from Moses.

Muslims take Deuteronomy 18, read “a prophet from among your brothers,” and say, “This is about Mohammed!” Comparing this passage with Genesis 25:9-18, Muslims say that “brothers” is a reference to the descendants of Ishmael. Muslims recite the ways that Mohammed was similar to Moses and ignore the differences.

Alas, Christians and Muslims are both so focused on finding the founder of your religion in the Hebrew Bible that you fail to consider the entire passage in context and thus miss what the passage is actually about. One could almost say that the followers of Jesus and Mohammed miss the forest for the trees. ;-)

Deuteronomy 18:9-22 is not a prophecy about a single individual. Rather, this passage describes the office of a prophet and explains the role of every Jewish prophet after Moses. The prophet declares to the people the message that he receives from God. The reason that the people receive the Word of God through prophets rather than directly from the Source is explained in verses 16-17.

Further evidence that this passage refers to prophets in general can be found by comparing verse 18 -– “I will put My words in his mouth…” with such verses as Isaiah 59:21 (“…My words which I have placed in your mouth…”) and Jeremiah 1:9 (“…Behold, I have placed My words in your mouth…”)

The reference to the prophet being “like Moses” distinguishes the human prophet from God Almighty. Although they speak with divine authority, prophets are human and their authority is limited. For example, the role of interpreting and applying the Law according to accepted norms of Biblical interpretation lies not with a prophet, but with the judge. (See Deuteronomy 17:8-13.)

aunursa on April 10, 2013 at 11:39 PM

Further evidence that this passage refers to prophets in general can be found by comparing verse 18 -– “I will put My words in his mouth…” with such verses as Isaiah 59:21 (“…My words which I have placed in your mouth…”) and Jeremiah 1:9 (“…Behold, I have placed My words in your mouth…”)

aunursa on April 10, 2013 at 11:39 PM

With all due respect, aunursa , you CAN’T seriously think it’s generic.

Cleombrotus on April 11, 2013 at 10:14 AM

With all due respect, aunursa , you CAN’T seriously think it’s generic.

Cleombrotus on April 11, 2013 at 10:14 AM

I can certainly understand how someone who reads only Deuteronomy 18:15 could assume that this verse alone is a prophecy of a single individual.

But in Judaism, we don’t take a single verse and read it alone, ripped out of its proper context. By that practice one could read Jesus or Mohammed or Joseph Smith or Rumpelstiltskin into whatever verse one chooses. Jews read and understand the entire passage as a whole, and we compare the words and phrases to similar words and phrases found elsewhere in Scripture. And when we read the entire passage as a whole, the purpose of Deuteronomy 18:9-22 becomes clear.

aunursa on April 11, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Does this thread get an award for being the longest on record at HotAir?

It is definitely the most enjoyable and informative that I know of.

FWIW, returning to the original post, I just finished reading Peter Enns’ book “Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament.” Unless Enns has changed his views since publication (2005), I believe Jazz misinterpreted as a criticism his assessment of the producers’ intent in the mini-series.

“They were focusing on the final stage of the Bible story, which is Christ’s appearance,” he said. “It’s all a buildup to that. They take a celebrity approach to The Bible, and highlight the figures people know and present them in ways that make it seem that when you get to Jesus, you’ll feel that this was how it was meant to be all along.”

The bolded portion neatly summarizes Enns’ position (and purpose in writing) his book.

Enns discusses quite thoroughly “three issues that have not been handled well in evangelical theology.” The details aren’t important to this discussion (although they are quite interesting), but the thrust of Enns’ argument is that the Bible must be read through an eschatological hermeneutic that he dubs “christotelic”, meaning, “to read it already knowing that Christ is somehow the end to which the Old Testament story is heading.” (p. 154)

I do not agree with everything Enns says, but I learned a lot reading his arguments, and think that there are many of you on this thread who would appreciate (in the literary sense) his efforts.

AesopFan on April 11, 2013 at 6:30 PM

*longest = longest-running in duration, not in number of comments.

AesopFan on April 11, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Just checking in to apologize for still not having a chance to get back to you.

My daughter’s bridal shower is this weekend, I had 2 family birthdays this week and I had to work extra time for my boss finishing up some tax returns for him. Plus some other stuff this week.

I think of all the things I’d like to say as I drive in my car. lol

Maybe one day soon. If you are all still here.

Elisa on April 11, 2013 at 7:50 PM

See that. I was just interrupted by 2 phone calls. lol

Just wanted to say one thing about the Prodigal Son.

To echo what Cleombrotus said,

To me the most beautiful part of the story is how the father saw the son still at a distance and he ran out to meet him. Before he heard anything the son had to say. Before any apology. Out of love and joy the father went to him.

We should never forget how much our Father loves us. And how “His mercy endures forever.”

God our Father loved us so much that He came down to earth to meet us where we are, before we even repented. Out of love and because He wants to forgive us and have all His children safe with Him.

God bless all here.

Say a prayer for my family during this blessed time of ours. I started crying today writing my daughter’s card. My sweet little girl. I will miss her so much. Glad she is moving close by.

Elisa on April 11, 2013 at 8:50 PM

But in Judaism, we don’t take a single verse and read it alone, ripped out of its proper context. By that practice one could read Jesus or Mohammed or Joseph Smith or Rumpelstiltskin into whatever verse one chooses.

aunursa on April 11, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Actually, no one couldn’t. No one else fits quite so exactly.

You see, in Christianity, we don’t take a single chapter and read it alone, ripped out of its proper context but we see it all belonging to one intellectual and spiritual whole, leading to one overarching point.

I can see your point concerning Deut. 18 and would agree with you IF we were taking THAT chapter out of its LARGER CONTEXT of the rest of the Old Testament. But here’s the point:

but the thrust of Enns’ argument is that the Bible must be read through an eschatological hermeneutic that he dubs “christotelic”, meaning, “to read it already knowing that Christ is somehow the end to which the Old Testament story is heading.” (p. 154)

AesopFan on April 11, 2013 at 6:30 PM

aunursa, very few of us have come to our faith through reading the Bible first. Most of us came to faith in Christ through some personal experiences or encounters and only THEN did we become familiarized with the Scriptures concerning Him. But He is unmistakably in them throughout – sometimes hidden in figures like Jacob’s ladder and sometimes blatantly obvious, as in Isaiah 53, Zechariah 9 and 12.

But we cannot deny what we see nor can we deny the CONSISTENCY of what we see, which, from what I understand of the Old Testament requirements for a prophet, is crucial.

Cleombrotus on April 11, 2013 at 9:14 PM

but the thrust of Enns’ argument is that the Bible must be read through an eschatological hermeneutic that he dubs “christotelic”, meaning, “to read it already knowing that Christ is somehow the end to which the Old Testament story is heading.” (p. 154)

AesopFan on April 11, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Actually, no one couldn’t. No one else fits quite so exactly.

Cleombrotus on April 11, 2013 at 9:14 PM

There is a story of a prince who, while walking in the forest by the palace one day, came upon a tree that had an archery target painted on the trunk. And right in the middle of the center circle was an arrow stuck in the tree – a perfect bulls-eye! The prince thought to himself, “What a lucky shot!” As he continued on his walk, the prince saw another tree, with another target, and another arrow in the dead-center. He quickened his pace and found a third, fourth, fifth tree, each one with a perfect bulls-eyes.

At the bottom of the sixth tree he found an archer resting at the foot of the tree. The archer confirmed that he was the one who shot each of the arrows. The prince began to acclaim him as undoubtedly the greatest marksman in the kingdom. He asked him,” How many years did you have to practice to get such accuracy?” The archer began to chuckle and said to the prince, “You’ve got it all wrong. First I shoot an arrow into the tree. Then I paint the target around the arrow.”

No one else fits quite so exactly? On the contrary, anyone can fit. All you have to do is shoot the arrow before you draw the target.

aunursa on April 12, 2013 at 10:21 AM

To me the most beautiful part of the story is how the father saw the son still at a distance and he ran out to meet him. Before he heard anything the son had to say. Before any apology. Out of love and joy the father went to him.

Elisa on April 11, 2013 at 8:50 PM

I agree. The father welcomed his son back with open arms. He wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of his love for his son.

As we say in Yiddish, Mazel Tov on the joy of your daughter’s marriage.

aunursa on April 12, 2013 at 10:22 AM

aunursa, very few of us have come to our faith through reading the Bible first. Most of us came to faith in Christ through some personal experiences or encounters
Cleombrotus on April 11, 2013 at 9:14 PM

And that’s precisely what I would expect. You don’t read the Hebrew Bible and conclude: Jesus. You find Jesus and then read him into the Hebrew Bible.

aunursa on April 12, 2013 at 10:32 AM

You don’t read the Hebrew Bible and conclude: Jesus. You find Jesus and then read him into the Hebrew Bible.

aunursa on April 12, 2013 at 10:32 AM

And for those who DO read the Bible and conclude: Jesus? What do you say about them?

Cleombrotus on April 12, 2013 at 7:05 PM

And for those who DO read the Bible and conclude: Jesus? What do you say about them?

Cleombrotus on April 12, 2013 at 7:05 PM

What do I say about those who read the Hebrew Bible (without the influence of Christian theologians) and conclude: a divine Messiah who dies to atone for the sins of the world? I would like to meet them.

* * * * *

It’s almost time for Shabbat. I’ll return on Sunday to see if anyone is still here. Everyone, please have a great weekend!

aunursa on April 12, 2013 at 8:39 PM

aunursa on April 12, 2013 at 8:39 PM

aunursa, it’s nice to know that you think we are all quite incapable of thinking objectively for ourselves.

Cleombrotus on April 12, 2013 at 9:44 PM

aunursa, it’s nice to know that you think we are all quite incapable of thinking objectively for ourselves.

Cleombrotus on April 12, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Cleombrotus, if you want to know what I think, you are welcome to ask. But please do not try to put words into my mouth.

aunursa on April 14, 2013 at 5:35 PM

aunursa, have you given any thought to the possibility that the obverse is true?

That those who come to the Scriptures and FAIL to see Christ in them do so because they come predisposed to NOT SEEING Him?

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 7:49 PM

I would like to meet them.

aunursa on April 12, 2013 at 8:39 PM

try this guy.

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 9:04 PM

bad link. Try this one.

http://moriel.org/sermons/sermons/Online/Jesus_in_the_Talmud/01_Introduction.html

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 9:07 PM

I’m not sure how this relates to my response:

And for those who DO read the Bible and conclude: Jesus? What do you say about them?

Cleombrotus on April 12, 2013 at 7:05 PM

I would like to meet them.

aunursa on April 12, 2013 at 8:39 PM

There’s no indication that the writer read the Hebrew Bible and concluded: a divine Messiah who dies to atone for the sins of the world. On the contrary, he grew up in a mixed Catholic-Jewish family who attended a Catholic school and a Jewish Community Center. Most JCCs provide Jewish cultural programs, while religious classes are generally found in the synagogue.

He is pretty hostile to non-Protestant religions…

When you pass a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall, it is a place of Satan; when you pass a mosque, that too is a place of Satan; when you go by a Roman Catholic Church, it is a place of Satan; when you pass a Hindu Temple, that is a place of Satan; and no less is a synagogue also a place of Satan.

In the article he selectively quotes from the Talmud and ignores the fact that the rabbis employed different types of interpretation when quoting from the Bible. This suggests that he had no formal training in Talmud study, but merely copied from anti-Jewish sources. He refers to the Birkat ha-Minim (ברכת המינים) as a blessing and also refers to the Shmoneh Esreh (שמנה עשרה) as a prayer. In fact the Birkat Minim is a prayer, one of the 19 prayers that comprise the Shmoneh Esreh. This indicates an ignorance of basic Jewish liturgy. The author doesn’t just disagree with Jewish theology, he is openly hostile to it. He also takes quotes of Maimonides and other Jewish sages out of context in order to make them appear hostile to Gentiles.

There are other flaws in the article, but those stand out. If this is the best example you can offer, then I fear that I will never have the opportunity to meet someone who read the Hebrew Bible – without Christian influence – and concluded “Jesus!”

aunursa on April 14, 2013 at 10:31 PM

aunursa, have you given any thought to the possibility that the obverse is true?

That those who come to the Scriptures and FAIL to see Christ in them do so because they come predisposed to NOT SEEING Him?

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 7:49 PM

The way you phrased it, your question is loaded. “Fail to see Christ” presumes that the correct way to read the Hebrew Scriptures is to anticipate Jesus. In other words, circular reasoning.

aunursa on April 14, 2013 at 10:50 PM

aunursa on April 14, 2013 at 10:50 PM

Spoken like a true technician.

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 11:04 PM

then I fear that I will never have the opportunity to meet someone who read the Hebrew Bible – without Christian influence – and concluded “Jesus!”

aunursa on April 14, 2013 at 10:31 PM

In the 21st century?! In America? You’re kidding, right?

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 11:06 PM

let’s try that again:

then I fear that I will never have the opportunity to meet someone who read the Hebrew Bible – without Christian influence – and concluded “Jesus!”

aunursa on April 14, 2013 at 10:31 PM

In the 21st Century?! In America?! You’re kidding, right?

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 11:04 PM

Let’s try it this way. I’ll rephrase your question to something that I can answer…

aunursa, have you given any thought to the possibility that the obverse is true?

That those who read the Hebrew Bible and don’t see Jesus in it do so because they come predisposed to NOT SEEING Him?

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 7:49 PM

I have found a belief among some Christians that Jews spend our time trying to refute Christian theology. They believe that we spend at least part of our time in synagogues seeking to refute Christian theology. The believe that we refuse to read Isaiah 53 and other passages that they consider to be Christological — because deep down we know that they’re right and Jesus is really the Jewish Messiah — but we’re just too darn stubborn to admit it. They can’t understand that Judaism is not “Christianity without Christ,” that we read the Bible in order to learn and apply the lessons contained therein, not to disprove someone else’s religion.

One of my childhood friends is a local rabbi. I once asked him whether students at a rabbinic college study anything about Jesus and the New Testament. He responded that of the more than one hundred courses, there are two that deal with Christian topics. (And there is also a course on Islam.) He added…

Most students take the one course in New Testament, and, simply put, it is taught from an academic, scholarly perspective. In a sense, we are taught what Christian “tradition” says (including Christian apologetics), but the majority of teaching is biased toward what academic scholars, primarily Christians, think of it.

Incidentally, at both HUC [Reform college] and JTS [Conservative college], the Hebrew Bible is taught the same way.

So it’s not a simple, yes we are taught to reject traditional Christian theology. Of course we’re not. What fundamentalist Christians can’t seem to understand (and it’s like talking two different languages) is how irrelevant Christianity, and Jesus himself, are to how we think and behave.

aunursa on April 15, 2013 at 2:06 PM

In the 21st Century?! In America?! You’re kidding, right?

Cleombrotus on April 14, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Why America? Does the entire world have access to the New Testament and “The 700 Club” broadcasts? Surely there are places where Christian missionaries have not reached. Let’s find a Chassiidic community that is as insulated from outsiders as the Amish. Or let’s find a long lost tribe of people who can read but have had little contact with the outside world. Give them a translation of the Hebrew Bible in their own language. Have them read it, study it. And then let’s see whether or not they respond by asking: “Where’s the rest of the Scripture? We read the passages that foretell a divine Messiah who dies to atone for the sins of the world. Who is this person and when did he fulfill these prophecies?”

aunursa on April 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM

I forgot to mention that the two rabbinic courses on Jesus and the NT are elective courses. Not all rabbinic candidates take them.

aunursa on April 15, 2013 at 2:20 PM

aunursa on April 15, 2013 at 2:06 PM

I understand that and it certainly makes much sense, but we’re talking here about a situation where an individual Jew is presented with the case FOR Christ in the Hebrew Scriptures and does not see Him.

Since you posit the scenario where Christians come to the investigation predisposed to seeing Christ as the fulfillment of Jewish Scripture, and THEREFORE see Him, I posit the scenario where a Jew, presented with the Christological perspective, does not see Him for the alternative reason.

My question remains: have you considered that possibility?

Cleombrotus on April 15, 2013 at 2:46 PM

aunursa on April 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Well, there’s at least two things you aren’t considering but time is tight right now so I’ll respond later this evening.

Cleombrotus on April 15, 2013 at 2:49 PM

I understand that and it certainly makes much sense, but we’re talking here about a situation where an individual Jew is presented with the case FOR Christ in the Hebrew Scriptures and does not see Him.

Cleombrotus on April 15, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Oh, I’m sure there are hundreds, thousands of Jews who have been presented with the passages that Christians claim are about Jesus, and then come to the conclusion that they are, indeed, prophecies of Jesus.

My point is that no one would come to that conclusion on her own. No one would read the Hebrew Bible in its entirety and conclude that the entire point of the Hebrew Scriptures is: a divine Messiah who dies to atone for the sins of the world and then is resurrected shortly thereafter.

Since you posit the scenario where Christians come to the investigation predisposed to seeing Christ as the fulfillment of Jewish Scripture, and THEREFORE see Him, I posit the scenario where a Jew, presented with the Christological perspective, does not see Him for the alternative reason.

My question remains: have you considered that possibility?

Certainly there are Jews who are predisposed not to see Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures.

aunursa on April 15, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Why America? Does the entire world have access to the New Testament and “The 700 Club” broadcasts? Surely there are places where Christian missionaries have not reached. Let’s find a Chassiidic community that is as insulated from outsiders as the Amish. Or let’s find a long lost tribe of people who can read but have had little contact with the outside world. Give them a translation of the Hebrew Bible in their own language. Have them read it, study it. And then let’s see whether or not they respond by asking: “Where’s the rest of the Scripture? We read the passages that foretell a divine Messiah who dies to atone for the sins of the world. Who is this person and when did he fulfill these prophecies?”

aunursa on April 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM

I direct your attention to the 8th Chapter of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles:

” And he rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of the Can’dace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship
and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”
So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
And he said, “How can I, unless some one guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
Now the passage of the scripture which he was reading was this: “As a sheep led to the slaughter
or a lamb before its shearer is dumb,
so he opens not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken up from the earth.”
And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, pray, does the prophet say this, about himself or about some one else?”
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this scripture he told him the good news of Jesus.
Acts 8:27-35

You are imposing absurd requirements for knowledge of the Scriptures that even God Himself does not impose on us.

In fact, I would submit that even the knowledge YOU have of your Scriptures did not come by way of personal investigation or personal revelation but they were TAUGHT to you by your elders and by your rabbis.

Cleombrotus on April 15, 2013 at 10:11 PM

My point is that no one would come to that conclusion on her own. No one would read the Hebrew Bible in its entirety and conclude that the entire point of the Hebrew Scriptures is: a divine Messiah who dies to atone for the sins of the world and then is resurrected shortly thereafter.

aunursa on April 15, 2013 at 5:20 PM

On that we are in agreement.

The mistake you are making, however, is in implying that, therefore, they are NOT talking about “a divine Messiah who dies to atone for the sins of the world and then is resurrected shortly thereafter.”

Cleombrotus on April 15, 2013 at 10:15 PM

The mistake you are making, however, is in implying that, THEREFORE, they are NOT talking about “a divine Messiah who dies to atone for the sins of the world and then is resurrected shortly thereafter.”

Fixed.

Cleombrotus on April 15, 2013 at 10:16 PM

Cleombrotus on April 15, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Seriously? You’re citing a passage from the New Testament to support the New Testament’s interpretation of the Hebrew Bible? Where is this Ethiopian that I may interview him to verify that he is not, for instance, just a figment of the imagination of the author of the Book of Acts?

By that reasoning we should accept the Book of Mormon … because it affirms its own divine inspiration…

Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

Book of Mormon title page

* * * * *

The mistake you are making, however, is in implying that, THEREFORE, they are NOT talking about “a divine Messiah who dies to atone for the sins of the world and then is resurrected shortly thereafter.”

Cleombrotus on April 15, 2013 at 10:16 PM

According to Christianity, the single most important event in all history is that a divine Messiah dies to atone for the sins of the world and is then resurrected. According to Christianity information about this person is found throughout the Hebrew Bible – in fact the entire Hebrew Bible points us to him. According to many Christian theologians, Isaiah 53, Daniel 9, and Psalm 22 provide some of the most vivid descriptions of this event – describing the precise manner of his excruciating death and his miraculous resurrection; these passages also are said to pinpoint the exact date that this would happen.

You acknowledge that no one would read the Hebrew Bible in its entirety and conclude that the entire point of the Hebrew Scriptures is: a divine Messiah who dies to atone for the sins of the world and then is resurrected shortly thereafter. Yet you maintain that the Biblical passages are talking about a person and event that no one would comprehend from reading those passages.

Well, which is it?

I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.”
Isaiah 45:19

aunursa on April 16, 2013 at 8:35 AM

aunursa on April 16, 2013 at 8:35 AM

You miss the point. The point isn’t that, because it comes from the New Testament, therefore it is valid. The point is that one needs guidance. And a reference point outside one’s own biases.

” He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man’s mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. ” Ecc. 3:11

And one needs to want to find out.

” You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, ” Jer. 29:13

Now we can go on swapping Bible verses until the cows come home, but, personally, I don’t really think there’s much point, do you?

You’ve obviously got a pretty heavy investment in Christ not being the person those passages are speaking about, but as I’ve maintained from the beginning, I’m not out to convert you. My concern has been simply to correct your incorrect ways of approaching these matters. No one can convince anyone of anything they don’t want to be convinced of but at least they should be honest about it.

I say we end this dialog here and move on. Agreed?

Cleombrotus on April 16, 2013 at 9:22 PM

I have enjoyed this interchange immensely, thanks to all.

I do have a question for aunursa, if he would be so kind. In your opinion (and also that of other Jewish scholars) is Jesus considered a “good” Jew?

Puddleglum on April 17, 2013 at 9:38 AM

You’ve obviously got a pretty heavy investment in Christ not being the person those passages are speaking about,
Cleombrotus on April 16, 2013 at 9:22 PM

NO, I’ve got a heavy investment in understanding the passages as they were intended to be understood, not in affirming or denying the leader of any particular religion.

And YES, I think this is a good time to end our discussion. I appreciate the opportunity to share my views and learn from the perspectives of others.

aunursa on April 17, 2013 at 7:28 PM

NO, I’ve got a heavy investment in understanding the passages as they were intended to be understood…

aunursa on April 17, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Think about that statement for a while, aunursa.

Cleombrotus on April 17, 2013 at 7:42 PM

I have enjoyed this interchange immensely, thanks to all.

Puddleglum on April 17, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Thank you. I’m pleased to hear it. Sometimes one wonders, you know?

Cleombrotus on April 17, 2013 at 7:44 PM

I do have a question for aunursa, if he would be so kind. In your opinion (and also that of other Jewish scholars) is Jesus considered a “good” Jew?

Puddleglum on April 17, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Some Jewish scholars have personal opinions about Jesus. Some want Judaism to reclaim him as a teacher or rabbi, but often it seems as if the scholar is merely trying to be diplomatic so as not to offend Christians. (And there are some who have not-nice-things to say about him. But that too is more typically a reaction to Christian missionaries than about Jesus per se.) And note that interpretations (advanced primarily by anti-Semites) that particular Talmudic passages are supposedly about Jesus or Mary are highly suspect.

Other than that, your question deserves a direct answer: Jesus is not considered a good Jew. Jesus is not considered a bad Jew. This can be hard for some Christians to accept, but the Jewish community does not consider Jesus at all.* It’s nothing personal. We don’t consider Mohammed or Joseph Smith either, even though they are central figures in religions that, like Christianity, make claims about our Hebrew Scriptures.

* Except for in response to questions from our Christian friends and assertions made by Christian missionaries

aunursa on April 17, 2013 at 7:45 PM

This can be hard for some Christians to accept, but the Jewish community does not consider Jesus at all.* It’s nothing personal. We don’t consider Mohammed or Joseph Smith either, even though they are central figures in religions that, like Christianity, make claims about our Hebrew Scriptures.

aunursa on April 17, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Yes, you’ve made the point several times that the Jewish community does not generally consider Jesus at all. That’s what I find weird. He is a documented, historical Jewish figure who arguably has impacted world history as few people have. Whether or not you agree with his claims, for a religious community en masse to consider irrelevant someone who was of your faith and tradition and looms so large historically is somewhat incredulous to me.

To put him in the same category as Mohammed or Joseph Smith seems facetious to me, as neither of them were Jewish.

You have obviously interacted extensively with Christians and seem to have a decent knowledge of the claims of Christianity, and thereby must have in some capacity evaluated Jesus in light of his Jewishness, no?

Puddleglum on April 18, 2013 at 1:49 PM

He is a documented, historical Jewish figure who arguably has impacted world history as few people have. Whether or not you agree with his claims, for a religious community en masse to consider irrelevant someone who was of your faith and tradition and looms so large historically is somewhat incredulous to me.

To put him in the same category as Mohammed or Joseph Smith seems facetious to me, as neither of them were Jewish.

Puddleglum on April 18, 2013 at 1:49 PM

If he were not the central figure in another religion, and if some teachings that are attributed to him didn’t contradict the Hebrew Bible, then it’s quite possible, even probable, that Jews might have embraced him as a notable figure in Judaism. But he is, they do, and we don’t. Everything that he taught that is Jewish wasn’t new. And everything that he taught that was new isn’t Jewish. He may have impacted world history, but he has virtually no influence on Jewish theology, scholarship, or culture.

I’m not trying to be flippant. I’m trying to give you some understanding of the irrelevance of other religious and ideological figures to Judaism. Many ideologies were developed by people who came from Jewish backgrounds, but that doesn’t make those ideologies relevant to Judaism. The fathers of the Communist and Secular Humanist movements were Jews according to Jewish law. But Jews in synagogue don’t study Communism or Secular Humanism, and we don’t seek to embrace Lenin or Kurtz as our own.

You have obviously interacted extensively with Christians and seem to have a decent knowledge of the claims of Christianity, and thereby must have in some capacity evaluated Jesus in light of his Jewishness, no?

I don’t understand your question. What is there for me to evaluate about Jesus being Jewish? Are you asking me to evaluate his teachings and actions with respect to Jewish law? And for the purpose of this evaluation, are you asking me to accept the reliability of the Gospel accounts as completely accurate? (It’s not a problem for me; I just note that the Gospels are 100% reliable is, by and large, an exclusively Christian assumption.)

aunursa on April 18, 2013 at 5:07 PM

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