Green Room

Jesus, Early Palestinian

posted at 1:59 pm on September 15, 2010 by

Melanie Phillips (author of The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power) writes in the UK Spectator about an article from the UK Guardian this week, describing Europe’s first Christian theme park. The park, to be built on the Spanish island of Mallorca, will “aim to emulate the success of Christian attractions in the US such as the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida.”  The Guardian piece includes a photo of an actor playing Jesus at the Orlando theme park, with a lamb in his arms.

What Phillips picks up on, however, is the wording used by the Guardian’s author to describe a similar theme park in Buenos Aires:

Exact details are scant, but the Buenos Aires park offers its re-enactments of the creation of mankind, the birth of Christ, the resurrection and the last supper eight times a day. With a cast of extras in the costumes of Romans and early Palestinians, the park advertises itself as ‘a place where everyone can learn about the origins of spirituality.’

Early Palestinians?  A friend pointed out yesterday that the article doesn’t mention the word “Jew” or “Hebrew” even once, in spite of the fact that its topic is theme parks that reenact the main narrative of the Bible.

Phillips identifies this false depiction of historical reality as the product of a campaign by Arab Christians in Jerusalem to invent a “Palestinian” history and claim Jesus for Arabs rather than Jews.  And there is certainly such a campaign underway.  The effort is much broader than a few Arab Christian theologians, however.  Its main thrust is claiming Jesus, as a Palestinian Arab, for Islam.  (Islam already calls Jesus a prophet: the second greatest after Mohammed.  The Palestinian refinement is to claim him explicitly as a non-Jewish, Palestinian Arab.)

The Jerusalem Post’s Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has a number of useful links here, here, and here, documenting the Palestinian Muslim effort to invent a history for “Palestinians,” erase the historical reality of Jews in Israel, and – among other absurd claims – call Jesus the first “tortured Palestinian.”

This is not by any means a fringe development.  Yasser Arafat, speaking to Arab reporters at the UN in 1982, said this:

Jesus Christ was the first Palestinian fedayeen who carried his sword along the path on which the Palestinian today carry their cross.

The Bible, of course, calls Jesus a Jew – specifically a descendant of Abraham’s son Isaac, and of Jacob, Judah (ancestor of one of the twelve tribes), and King David; a genealogy outlined in the Old Testament and repeated in the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew.  The Roman administrators of Judea and Samaria in the time of Jesus Christ dealt with the occupants politically as “the Jews,” acknowledging in particular the religious authority of the Judaic high priest and the Sanhedrin. Phillips points out Jewish traditions in which Jesus participated; the gospels list his observances of, and encounters with, Jewish law.

Rome did not refer to the region as “Palestine” until more than a century later; there was no such thing as an entity called “Palestine” peopled by the ancestors of today’s “Palestinian” Arabs.  In fact, the narrative of a historical “Palestinian” claim to the territory of today’s Israel is a modern fiction.

But in the US, we’ve had little exposure to this explicit effort to build a fictional narrative – and in particular, to its theological aspect.  I am unconvinced, moreover, that this narrative has won over very many MSM journalists in Europe.  The connections documented here are undoubtedly relevant, but I think something more insidious is at work.  In the case of a writer like Giles Tremlett (author of the Guardian piece), I judge that the dynamic in question can be described in well-understood terms: political correctness has turned him into a useful idiot.

Tremlett probably couldn’t give a valid definition of theological “supersessionism” if put on the spot.  If you asked him whether revisionist theological theories should govern our understanding of history, he would want badly to say “No,” because that’s the obvious answer for the properly skeptical empiricist.  He certainly wouldn’t state the fictional Palestinian narrative, wholesale, as his argument for anything.

But he understands instinctively that a categorical “No” would preempt a whole revisionist industry in the “victimized world.”  So he would almost certainly decline to answer the question, reverting, as if a switch had been flipped, to the modern Palestinian victim narrative instead.  That narrative, with its emotional tug, gives the Palestinian Arabs carte blanche to make up whatever stories they want.  And it compels political correctness as a sign of allegiance from the sympathetic.

The effect of this dynamic is to induce people to say very foolish things.  Politically correct speech prefers internal correctness over reason, as, for example, when an American confusedly refers to a black Englishman as an “African-American,” because he can’t say “black.”  The man in question may be a third-generation Englishman who’s an accountant in Birmingham and is fed up with voting for those Labour twits, but what matters in the American’s indoctrinated mind is the narrative of political correctness: skin color = African origin = victimization => officious solicitude, euphemism, and ellipsis.

The solicitude and euphemism are bad enough, but it’s the ellipsis that gets us in the end.  It’s the facts and reality that we are induced to leave out of our discourse – induced by a willingness to suspend disbelief and to avoid whatever anyone insists is an offense to someone –  that increase our vulnerability to evil developments.  The case of the Christian theme parks is illustrative:  it’s not sufficient to merely refrain from explicitly retailing the “Jesus was a Palestinian” narrative.  Not telling the lie explicitly isn’t enough.  We have to affirm the truth.  It’s necessary to affirm that Jesus was a Jew, and the Jewish people were the ones governed by the Herods and occupied by Rome during Jesus’ lifetime.

The peculiar Western decision to deprivilege our own historical record – indeed, to deconstruct our entire civilizational narrative, and offer an unmerited credulity to any competing narrative that campaigns to supplant it – has softened us up for this.  Having done this consciously, on principle, colors our view of all theory and knowledge.  It weakens our perception of the link between knowing the truth, acting on it, and living successfully.  We have come to believe, oddly, that we can do the latter indefinitely while treating the former as if it doesn’t matter.

And so a competing narrative that rejects everything the West is about – our intertwined roots in Judaic law and culture, in philosophical empiricism and honest investigation, and in the “covenant of grace” conferred by Jesus Christ – is able to gain a foothold through our intellectual self-abnegation.  It’s essential to understand the dynamic here:  it’s not that Westerners, in droves, are explicitly embracing the fictional Palestinian narrative, and certainly not because of its power or intellectual coherence.  It’s that the narrative is quietly backing in, under the banner of the Palestinian victim meme, where we have left a void in our minds.

We can reverse this trend immediately, simply by beginning to think and recover history.  But until enough of us do, we have become the people who, believing in nothing, will fall for anything.

Cross-posted at The Optimistic Conservative.

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Hmmm. Are you aware that “Palestine” means “Land of the Philistines”, and that the word “Philistine” is derived from the Hebrew word for “conquered”? The area where these people lived (the Israeli seaboard) was called, in Hebrew, Paleseth, at the time. Of course, if you really want to get interesting, the earliest name for the entire area was “Syria”.

Are you also aware that the name “Palestine” is also mentioned in the Old Testament? Read Joel 3:

“Now what have you against me, O Tyre and Sidon and all you regions of Philistia? Are you repaying me for something I have done? If you are paying me back, I will swiftly and speedily return on your own heads what you have done. For you took my silver and my gold and carried off my finest treasures to your temples. You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, that you might send them far from their homeland.

“See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own heads what you have done. I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, a nation far away.” The LORD has spoken.

I wouldn’t get too carried away with this usage — the New American Bible calls the entire area Palestine also.

unclesmrgol on September 15, 2010 at 3:09 PM

unclesmrgol — Of course I’m aware of the information you cite. You misrepresent it, however, by equating the use of the word Philistia in the prophecy of Joel — written in the 9th century BC — with the Roman-era word “Palestine” (Latin Palaestina), which did not occur until after AD 135.

The Philistines were not, ethnically, “the” ancestors of today’s Palestinian Arabs. They weren’t even Arabs, nor do we call them what they called themselves. We call them Philistines today because of the Greek influence on our understanding of the history of this area.

The spread of the people we now call Arabs across the Middle East and North Africa occurred after the Islamic conquests, which didn’t start until the 7th century AD. Some Palestinians are descended from peoples who inhabited “Philistia,” which included Philistines, but just as many Jews are too, if not more. The Arab ethnicity primarily associated with the modern Palestinians is from immigration in the era of the Crusades and the Ottoman Empire. Yasser Arafat, reportedly a descendent of the Idumaean Herods (who also were not ethnic Philistines), is an outlier in this regard, not ethnically representative.

You may be aware, as well, that the Romans began referring to Judea and Samaria as Syria Palaestina after the Bar Kohkba rebellion, specifically as a means of delegitimizing Jewish nationalist sentiment.

You may also be aware that the reason the larger area was called Syria, in the annals of the West, is that those annals were written by the Greeks — who colonized and traded with areas on the coast — and adopted by the Romans. The Greeks referred to the area as Syria. Their early records were written at least three centuries after the reign of David in Israel, however. You may be aware that recent archeological findings have verified David’s reign in the 10th century BC. Solomon had been referenced in non-Biblical historical records previously.

Pointing out the historical record isn’t getting “carried away.” With respect, that kind of dismissive comment is what sets us up for failure.

J.E. Dyer on September 15, 2010 at 3:49 PM

When I was very small, the first thing my mother taught me about Jesus was that he is our Savior. The second thing she taught me was that he was a Jew. I never forget it: If not for the Jews, we Gentiles wouldn’t have a Savior. Where else could He have come from, but from God’s chosen people?

A belated L’Shana Tovah to all the Jewish folks out there in HotAir-land. May you and yours be blessed all year!

Mary in LA on September 15, 2010 at 3:52 PM

And so a competing narrative that rejects everything the West is about – our intertwined roots in Judaic law and culture, in philosophical empiricism and honest investigation, and in the “covenant of grace” conferred by Jesus Christ – is able to gain a foothold through our intellectual self-abnegation.

Thank you for highlighting this issue, which has been an ongoing project of the revisionist Leftist for several decades now. This ahistorical narrative has also been adopted by major Christian denominations here in the US, who ought to know better, notably UCC, and PCUSA. Jews have attempted “dialogue” with these churches repeatedly and been treated with dishonesty and disdain.

However, as you know, us Jews by definition don’t accept the “covenant of grace conferred by Jesus Christ.” so are you reading us out of Western Civilization almost as much as the Palestinian sympathizers? Of course you don’t mean to do that. Then please rewrite that sentence to recognize our rightful place here as Jews, especially since – as you acknowledge – we created the basis for Western Civ which we are all want to preserve.

This is not trivial, because conservatives (who claim to support Israel and Jews) often blithely refer to the US as a “Christian country.” The “roots in Judaic law and culture” led to the radical idea that a state religion is a violation of individual rights. The US is not a “Christian country” precisely because we have an Establishment Clause. Our founding fathers accepted us as Jews helping create the covenant of the United States, they did not require that we become Chrsitians to do so, nor did they treat us a 2nd-class citizens as did most countries with state religions.

YehuditTX on September 15, 2010 at 3:58 PM

JE, thanks for the history addendum about “Palestine.” I was going to do it, but you were more thorough than I could have been, so thanks muchly.

WRT the Judaic roots of modern limitations on government power, I have been promoting this article, which describes a long-standing historical revisionism which erases the influence of the Hebrew Scriptures from the Enlightenment, similar to what the Palestinian sympathizers are attempting to do with the Bible.

Almost everyone who’s ever written on the birth of modernity has recognized that the 17th century was the crucible in which modern ideas, science and political institutions were born. Less familiar is the fact that this same period was also a time of spectacularly intense Christian interest in the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Talmud, and later rabbinic sources. This is not just a matter of a few collectors of linguistic relics studying Hebrew. The effort to retrieve Jewish learning and traditions was a massive undertaking whose effects were felt, directly or indirectly, across the European intellectual landscape. An indication of what was happening is the astonishing effort at translation of rabbinic sources into languages accessible to Christians—an effort that, by century’s end, had led to the translation and publication in Latin of 15 tractates of the Talmud, the Mishnah, a range of Midrashic compilations, the Targums of Onkelos and Yonatan, rabbinic works by Maimonides, Yehuda Halevi, Ibn Ezra, David Kimchi (Radak), Levi ben Gershon (Ralbag), Abravanel and others, as well as the Zohar and other kabbalistic texts…..

The story of the birth of the modern West, as it’s been told and retold since it was given definitive form by partisans of the Enlightenment, tends to ignore all this furious Hebraizing activity…..that the writings of leading 17th century thinkers such as Descartes, Grotius, Milton, Selden, Hobbes, Boyle, Newton, Harrington, Locke and Leibniz are full of theological speculation and biblical interpretation are to be dismissed as “window-dressing”…

I am not an historian, philosopher, nor any kind of academic, so most of this intellectual jockeying takes place way over my head, but I am pleased to see the Jewish spiritual/intellectual tradition getting its due. I think Hazony’s conclusion is especially important because it emphasizes the most salient feature of Judaism, to my mind, which differentiates it from Christianity, and which most informs the American creed:

The term secular comes from the Latin saeculum, which is used to refer to “this world,” as opposed to some other world. What, then, are we to make of the Hebrew Bible—which is almost exclusively about “this world,” and has between little and nothing to say about any other? Are we to understand by this that the Bible, which celebrates prudential knowledge, is a secular text? Or that in the Hebrew Bible, secularism and religion are not opposed to one another, but rather reinforce one another? Or should we perhaps just say that when it comes to the Hebrew Bible, these terms—which are in any case external to Judaism, and imposed on it from outside—are completely meaningless; and begin the search for better fitted concepts, which can really help us understand what we’re talking about? [Emphasis mine]

The conundrum of “Judeo/Christian” vs “secular” values could use some input from what we Jews have to offer on our own terms, not processed through Christian assumptions and stereotypes.

(I’m not creating straw men here – I have been discussing these issues with Christians in comment threads for 10 years, and I am reacting to real attitudes and misconceptions.)

YehuditTX on September 15, 2010 at 4:38 PM

This is not trivial, because conservatives (who claim to support Israel and Jews) often blithely refer to the US as a “Christian country.” The “roots in Judaic law and culture” led to the radical idea that a state religion is a violation of individual rights. The US is not a “Christian country” precisely because we have an Establishment Clause. Our founding fathers accepted us as Jews helping create the covenant of the United States, they did not require that we become Chrsitians to do so, nor did they treat us a 2nd-class citizens as did most countries with state religions.

While I understand your points, I think taking offense that conservatives refer to teh U.S. as a “christian country” is again falling for political correctness. I believe that when people so refer, they mean that the U.S. was founded mostly by christians and christians have been, and currently continue to be, the majority. I don’t think people mean to say that we are a “christian country” in that there is an official christian church or that only christians are citizens.

Monkeytoe on September 15, 2010 at 4:40 PM

Jesus the Settler
would have been chased from his home by palestinian islamic extremists if such a thing had existed then.

Rea1ityCheck on September 15, 2010 at 5:08 PM

The “Great Commandments” Christians follow “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength” and “Love your neighbor” are a summarization of the Ten Commandments. Christianity is built on Judaism and Christians who forget that are making a mistake.

We are a “Christian Nation” in that our founders were Christian, but it is the Ten Commandments all over our government buildings.

PastorJon on September 15, 2010 at 5:47 PM

JE, as a Native American, I’m offended!
Don’t get me wrong; I’m a native American in the sense that I was born in Michigan, & I’m offended at the twistory of the Left & their allies in Europe.

itsnotaboutme on September 15, 2010 at 6:02 PM

We are a “Christian Nation” in that our founders were Christian

PastorJon on September 15, 2010 at 5:47 PM

I believe some founders were Christians, some were CINOs (Christian in name only), & some were deists.

itsnotaboutme on September 15, 2010 at 6:04 PM

YehuditTX — I hope it’s clear that when I speak of Jesus and the covenant of grace, the intention is most certainly not to read the Jews out of Western Civilization. Jews and Christians don’t agree on whether the Messiah has already been here, but that doesn’t mean either of us is, or has to be, read out of anything.

I actually gave some serious thought to what words to use in that sentence, and I settled on “covenant of grace” because it’s the most comprehensively explanatory way of putting the relationship of the Jesus-salvation message to Western history. It had a profound and unique effect on philosophy, politics, and societal development. That does NOT mean that Jews and Judaism didn’t also have a profound and unique effect.

I agree with you that there have been effects from Judaism that were not necessarily brokered through Christianity. Some of them, I think, resonated even better with original Greek thinking than Christianity did. There is plenty of evidence of Greeks and Romans coming into intellectual contact with the Jews, and vice versa, in the couple of centuries before Jesus’ birth (and after it, for that matter). Americans tend to learn our ancient Levantine history in Sunday School, so we don’t always have a good handle on that, but it’s been in the historical record for centuries.

I do think it’s historically mandatory to recognize that the defining characteristic of Europe was its development as a Christian civilization. There were strong and identifiable Judaic influences that were attributable to both the independent intellectual strength of Jews and Judaism, and the links of Christianity to the Law and the history of the Jews. But objectively, European civilization since the 6th century is inseparable from the name “Christendom.” In historical time, that has only begun to change recently, in the last century.

Whether that civilizational development was “good” or “bad” is up to people to decide for themselves, of course. One very important thing I believe we can say is this: Jews and Christians can talk about these things without heat, seeking objective truth as to who did what, because the legacy of both of our threads in European history ultimately affirms the same principles of tolerance, empiricism, honesty, respect for the truth, and trust in the Almighty for vindication. Christians didn’t have to “teach that” to the Jews (indeed, there were long stretches of European history in which it would have been embarrassing for many Christians to make the attempt), or vice versa.

“Judeo-Christian” is a formulation that has valid meaning in the sense of tracing religious and moral roots, in my view. For Christians, it has the particular meaning of Jesus having fulfilled the prophecy of the Messiah, although it obviously doesn’t have that meaning for Jews. In the sense of politics and civilizational zeitgeist, I think its meaning is best seen through the prism of the common elements between the two faiths (like forgiveness, generosity, compassion for the alien, respect for reason, and the idea of a God of promises).

You could take either the Old or the New Testament and, adhering to it, come up with a separation of God from Caesar and the idea of keeping Caesar out of God’s realm. The historical developments by which these two faith concepts reinforced each other didn’t happen anywhere else, and I don’t think they would have produced the same result separately — i.e., if Jews or Christians had developed across time in the absence of each other. I also think the patterns of Western philosophy begun in ancient Greece were necessary to the overall development. Only in Europe were all these factors in the mix, and Europe developed very differently from the Levant, North Africa, and Asia Minor, where Christianity was also widespread early on, and Jews were significant and visible elements of many of the major cities’ populations.

It’s a big topic, of course. :-)

J.E. Dyer on September 15, 2010 at 10:56 PM

“Judeo-Christian” is a formulation that has valid meaning in the sense of tracing religious and moral roots, in my view.

I’m not sure what the term means since it can only refer to the values which overlap and are therefore Christian. Levantine is a better term to roll up the monotheistic traditions of the Near East but you have to include Islam as part of that tradition.

There is nothing nefarious about referring to the area as Palestine or it’s inhabitants collectively as Palestinian. The term was in use with Greeks, Romans, and others long before you suggest and long before political correctness on the subject was important to anyone. Jesus was a Jew but the area he came from was in Galilee which was rather cosmopolitan and certainly not exclusively Jewish.

Here is a book on the very subject of Galilee and it’s history.
Note here too the area is collectively called Palestine and the various groups living there are called Palestinian.

As you said, it is a big unwieldy topic but I think your objection to the use of the term Palestinian has more to do with your own political correctness rather than a nefarious leftist plot to change history.

lexhamfox on September 16, 2010 at 12:09 AM

Wasn’t “Palestine” what the Romans called the Jewish lands at the time? Wouldn’t that mean that it is technically accurate?
Second, I remember something linked here a while ago that the current Muslim Palestinians are genetically Jewish.

Count to 10 on September 16, 2010 at 8:15 PM

Phillips identifies this false depiction of historical reality as the product of a campaign by Arab Christians in Jerusalem to invent a “Palestinian” history and claim Jesus for Arabs rather than Jews. And there is certainly such a campaign underway. The effort is much broader than a few Arab Christian theologians, however. Its main thrust is claiming Jesus, as a Palestinian Arab, for Islam. (Islam already calls Jesus a prophet: the second greatest after Mohammed. The Palestinian refinement is to claim him explicitly as a non-Jewish, Palestinian Arab.)

This very well may be — is — so, BUT, in Christianity, from a Christian point of view (that means, from Christ’s perspective), that reduces Jesus Christ to mortal and removes his Divinity.

Which is the ultimate blasphemy of Christ. From a Christian perspective.

So the Islam perspective is, indeed, ultimately blasphemous of and about Jesus Christ, who though they claim was “prophet,” they remove and refuse any Divinity from, even going so far as to place Christ “beneath” Mohammad, of lesser importance than even their own guy, another mortal and not a very nice one at that.

Islam is blasphemous of Christianity and any attempts by Islam to somehow “own” Christ to the detriment of Jews is just awful.

As to Jews, the Hebrews, that’s the origin of Christianity as we Men know it to be historically. But make no mistake here, Christ was both Man AND is Divine. The Divinity of Christ, though denied by some among today’s Jews, is unquestioned in and by Christianity.

Lourdes on September 16, 2010 at 8:43 PM

Count to 10, a good reference on use of the term “Palestine” can be found here.

The Romans did not refer to the territory of modern Israel as “Palestine.” They referred to it at the time of Jesus as Judea (Iudaea). After the Bar Kokhba rebellion they sought to rhetorically eliminate any implication of national distinctiveness for the Jews by changing what they called it to “Syria Palaestina.” That formulation consciously subsumed what they had once called Judea in the larger territorial reference encompassed by Syria — in other words, they deliberately renamed it for political purposes.

Neither Greece nor Rome ever referred to the land the British called Palestine, after 1920, as “Palestine.” That land, as drawn on the map, was referred to by mutiple different names — several at a time, because of the different peoples who lives in sub-areas — over the centuries. (The above link spells this out.) It is an anachronistic application of the British-bestowed colonial name, “Palestine,” to claim that the Romans or Greeks used it to denote the area in the same way. They did not.

The reason that matters is that claiming a historical “nationhood” is central to the “Palestinian” narrative. No such nationhood ever existed.

As for the genetics, all Semites have some comon genetic traits. Arabs and Jews are both Semites (meaning the descendants of Noah’s son Shem), and the Bible accounts for their origins as having the same father, Abraham. Whether Philistines were Semites has been much in dispute. Their origin is thought by some to have been from prehistoric Turkey. Presumably at some point genetic research will sort all this out for us, but it hasn’t yet.

J.E. Dyer on September 16, 2010 at 8:47 PM

There is nothing nefarious about referring to the area as Palestine or it’s inhabitants collectively as Palestinian. The term was in use with Greeks, Romans, and others long before you suggest and long before political correctness on the subject was important to anyone. Jesus was a Jew but the area he came from was in Galilee which was rather cosmopolitan and certainly not exclusively Jewish.

Here is a book on the very subject of Galilee and it’s history. Note here too the area is collectively called Palestine and the various groups living there are called Palestinian.

As you said, it is a big unwieldy topic but I think your objection to the use of the term Palestinian has more to do with your own political correctness rather than a nefarious leftist plot to change history.

lexhamfox on September 16, 2010 at 12:09 AM

To the contrary, what’s being addressed here is the Islam effort to reclaim Jesus Christ as some human, mortal guy in subservience to Mohammad. They’re focused on human DNA as primary or most important, WHILE DISMISSING the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

Christ was born into human life, “became man.” What DNA our Father in Heaven determined to be that of his son’s while in human life on this earth, I am going to be sure to ask God when I get to Heaven, if He’ll answer that…BUT, the point HERE AND NOW among us mortals is that Islam is attempting to somehow own or lay claim to Jesus Christ as mortal to destroy his Divinity, as if DNA determines all.

For mortals, perhaps DNA is all that there is. But the efforts by Islam are clear here: to destroy reverence and belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. Savior means, Lord, Divine, Only Son of God, which is anathema of idea to Islam since they claim God “can’t beget” — meaning, Islam even places limits from a mortal’s perspective on God Himself, claiming God “can’t”…

That removes any possibility of Christ’s Divinity as per what Islam would demand people believe.

They defame the idea that a man could and was born into human life — whatever his DNA — by Divine parentage, they refuse the entire premise of Christ’s purpose, “that God gave His only son to save sinners…”

So Islam just slips Christ as a human, mere mortal, into some sort of workable position so they can continue to promote mortal Mohammad as even supreme to Christ.

It’s blasphemous, it’s really just about the same thing as what the ole’ serpent told Adam and Eve…

Lourdes on September 16, 2010 at 8:52 PM

As for the genetics, all Semites have some comon genetic traits. Arabs and Jews are both Semites (meaning the descendants of Noah’s son Shem), and the Bible accounts for their origins as having the same father, Abraham. Whether Philistines were Semites has been much in dispute. Their origin is thought by some to have been from prehistoric Turkey. Presumably at some point genetic research will sort all this out for us, but it hasn’t yet.

J.E. Dyer on September 16, 2010 at 8:47 PM

All true…but that’s not what Islam is focused on, not what the goal by Islam is.

I already addressed what the goal by Islam is (up, previous two comments I posted here ^^ ), if you want to read…

Focus on these ethnicity issues – DNA, who has what, what is acceptable, what isn’t — is the burkha Islam wears, while concealing the individual (or, their goal) that is underneath it.

Lourdes on September 16, 2010 at 8:55 PM

The “Great Commandments” Christians follow “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength” and “Love your neighbor” are a summarization of the Ten Commandments. Christianity is built on Judaism and Christians who forget that are making a mistake.

We are a “Christian Nation” in that our founders were Christian, but it is the Ten Commandments all over our government buildings.

PastorJon on September 15, 2010 at 5:47 PM

I don’t think many Christians “forget that”…

Lourdes on September 16, 2010 at 8:56 PM

This is not trivial, because conservatives (who claim to support Israel and Jews) often blithely refer to the US as a “Christian country.” The “roots in Judaic law and culture” led to the radical idea that a state religion is a violation of individual rights. The US is not a “Christian country” precisely because we have an Establishment Clause. Our founding fathers accepted us as Jews helping create the covenant of the United States, they did not require that we become Chrsitians to do so, nor did they treat us a 2nd-class citizens as did most countries with state religions.

YehuditTX on September 15, 2010 at 3:58 PM

You’re asserting a Hebrew (as in, Hebrew exclusivity) onto Christianity while also denouncing the tenet of Christianity (Jesus Christ as Son of God, the Messiah Jews denounce and still anticipate will later arrive).

We ARE a Christian nation in the views of many simply because Christianity forms most of our citizens’ values, views, represents the majority of belief in this nation, and always has.

HOWEVER, I understand your concept promoted — that the Christian faith is an outgrowth of Judaism. In that, yes, you are right, but the nation as constructed and formulated and populated by a majority Christian population and ideals is undeniable.

Lourdes on September 16, 2010 at 9:01 PM

Lourdes on September 16, 2010 at 8:43 PM

Lourdes — of course. Jesus can’t be made a “prophet” of Islam without diminishing his stature. He also can’t be made an Arab (or a Philistine) without eliminating his identification as the Messiah. The Messiah was promised to Abraham through the “child of promise” — Isaac — from whom the Jews are descended. “Messiah” is a promise to mankind through the Jews. A non-Jew can’t be the Messiah.

There are multiple layers of problems with this modern “Palestinian narrative.” For Westerners who prize honest history, it’s an offense against that.

For Jews, it seeks to erase their historical connection with the territory of modern Israel — but it also subverts the Messiah promise itself, by seeming to accept the Christian view that the Messiah has already come, but effectively repurposing “Messiah” as a prophet of Allah. One sees regular references by Islamic theologians to Jesus (or Isa) as the Messiah, but those references subvert the concept of Messiah, giving it a meaning subordinate to the narrative of Mohammed.

Obviously the latter revision can’t be acceptable to Christians or Jews. Jews tend to recognize more readily than Christians the danger of accepting the ellipses in the “Palestinian” narrative, in part because the territory of Israel is at stake. But Christians need to be very careful what they’re agreeing with, or at least deciding not to challenge.

The “Palestinian” narrative has a lot more to it than merely the historically inaccurate statement that the Imperial Romans’ word for the Levant was Palestine. It has to do with establishing rightful ownership of the promises of God, as recounted in the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The “Palestinian” narrative zeroes in on the linchpin of both Judaism and Christianity: the Jewish descent of the Messiah, and his connection, through that Jewish descent, to the “promised land” of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.

Recorded Western history doesn’t support the revisionist proposition of the “Palestinian” narrative. But too many Westerners, including Christians, simply dismiss that as something that doesn’t really matter.

J.E. Dyer on September 16, 2010 at 9:12 PM

Go read the Old Testament and discover that the Arabs were nowhere in sight. There might be some talk about the black tents of Kedar, but not too much. The region called Palestine had nothing to do with Arabs. What a lot of Christians don’t realize is that if they swallow the Arab rewrite of Jewish history that they also accept the erasure of Christian history. Christianity is nothing but a branch of Judaism. If there is no Judaism, there is no Christianity. What remains? Islam. Prepare to stick your butts in the air if you don’t stand up and defend the Jews and their historical connection to the entire region of Palestine.

SilentWatcher on September 16, 2010 at 10:30 PM

SilentWatcher on September 16, 2010 at 10:30 PM

The Palestinians are the sum bloostock of all the peoples who passed through and settled the region including Jews who converted to Islam and Christianity. The Old and New Testaments refer to a variety of peoples other than the Jewish tribes who were in the area. Not all the Arabs were Muslim and used to be a fairly sizable community of Christian Arabs so think a bit before you say the Arabs are trying to write Christianity out of history in Palestine and perhaps read the good book and again and wonder what happened to all the other peoples mentioned.

lexhamfox on September 16, 2010 at 10:38 PM

Lourdes on September 16, 2010 at 8:43 PM

Jesus is divine to Muslims. He will return and rule the Earth according to Muslim tradition. Muslims do revere him as a key prophet and messenger of God. He is divine because he ascended directly heaven and will play a key role in the end time. Just to be clear, traditional Jews regard Jesus as a first order heretic and with good reason. Both Islam and Judaism are strictly monotheistic whereas Christianity violates that to a certain extent. Palestinian Christians will of course want to claim Jesus as one of them. It is not all a Muslim plot. Go to Bethlehem and Gallilee around Christmas time and you will see lots of Palestinians observing the rites.

There is a specific strip of coastline which has always been called Palestine… even by Egyptians. It is probably how the larger region became known by that name and was used by Christians too.

lexhamfox on September 16, 2010 at 10:53 PM

Lourdes
no good can come of worrying about the absurdities/tenets of Islam or Christianity or any other religion.

let us concentrate on the actions of people and worry not about whatever mythical stuff makes their lives easier.

audiculous on September 17, 2010 at 12:15 AM

Jesus is divine to Muslims. He will return and rule the Earth according to Muslim tradition. Muslims do revere him as a key prophet and messenger of God. He is divine because he ascended directly heaven and will play a key role in the end time.

Not really divine. Important, yes, but not divine.

And I think you may be mistaken about the “rule the Earth” bit, also. There are some Koranic bits that suggest Isa will have some role in judgement, but I’ve never come across anything about his coming back to rule.

I think it’s important to make the distinction that “Jesus” is not in the Koran, as much as the Muslims want to co-opt him (or at least muddy the issue.) Note, for instance, that there is an effort in Indonesia to change the name of the Christmas holiday there to reflect the Islamic name of their similar character.

The Koran is really scant on narrative story, and what it has is not written in anything like the ordinary, comprehensible prose style readers of the Gospel are used to. While it is obvious that Mohammad was trying to co-opt the character of Jesus, he got so many details confused, and invented others wildly different from the Bible, that we would do well to insist that the assertion that “Jesus appears in the Koran” is completely false. Aside from the clear issues surrounding his God-hood, one humorous example: in the Koran, Isa’s mother is Miriam, sister of Aaron (yeah, Moses’ brother Aaron.) You can find conflicting information about whether Isa died upon the cross, etc. etc. Yes, the standard party line now is that Judas was transmorgrified and placed on the cross in Isa’s place, that’s not really the sum total of what the Koran says about it.

TexasDan on September 17, 2010 at 1:21 PM

TexasDan on September 17, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Agreed, TexasDan. Islam relies heavily on interpretation of the Koran, as its style is impressionistic, often elliptical, and fragmented. The categorical, direct proclamations and “ordinary, comprehensible” prose style of the Old and New Testaments are not characteristic of the Koran.

Somewhat in that vein, it is interesting to review the statements made by lexhamfox here:

lexhamfox on September 16, 2010 at 10:53 PM

Together they form an impressionistic whole, but they don’t parse logically.

“Jesus is divine,” for example, sounds like an endorsement of Christian belief. But Islam explicitly denies the triune Godhead of Christianity. Christians believe Jesus IS God: “God made man,” one of God’s three manifestations. (This is not polytheism; Christians affirm there is only one God, but He interacts with man in three interrelated persons.)

Jesus being “divine because he ascended directly to heaven and will play a role in the end time” could apply to the characters Enoch and Elisha from the Old Testament as well — if those traits conferred divinity. Christians don’t believe they do (neither do Jews). Divinity inheres only in God, according to Christian (and Jewish) belief.

“Traditional Jews regard Jesus as a first-order heretic and with good reason.” This statement may resonate with Orthodox Jews, but Christians can point, chapter and verse, to Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. It’s interesting to see this qualifier — “with good reason” — offered as if it is indisputable in an objective sense. There can be no automatic agreement with the assertion; it’s only valid or invalid from a particular religious perspective, one that may or may not be relevant to a discussion of Islam.

“Palestinian Christians will of course want to claim Jesus as one of them.” There’s no “of course” about it. Jesus was a Jew, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (renamed “Israel”), or he wasn’t the Messiah and Savior of the world. There is no third option. Are the Palestinian Christians claiming to have primarily Hebrew ancestry? This statement is theologically untenable: the Palestinians can’t make Jesus non-Jewish and also worship him as the Messiah-Savior.

It is incorrect that there was always a strip of land known as Palestine. See my link at this comment for more:

J.E. Dyer on September 16, 2010 at 8:47 PM

J.E. Dyer on September 18, 2010 at 3:17 PM