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Jewish Journal

Rabbi Shmuley challenges Christians to rethink Jesus

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 23, 2010 | 2:11 pm

On his blog for The Jewish Journal, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach—you know who I’m talking about—voices his frustration with Jewish ingratitude toward all that evangelical Christians do for Israel.

Good stuff. But then Boteach turns his gaze to the divinity of Jesus, and it’s not clear that he understands why evangelical Christians believe what they do. He writes:

I am well aware of our immense differences with the Christian evangelical community. I would venture to say, with no intention at arrogance, that I have conducted more debates against leading Christian scholars and missionaries, like my friend Dr. Michael Brown, on the Messiahship of Jesus and the evangelical insistence that only Christians go to heaven, than any other American Rabbi over the past decade, most of which are available on YouTube. Jesus was a devout and observant Jew for every day of his life on earth. He ate kosher, honored the Sabbath, donned tefillin, insisted on the indivisible unity of G-d, and fought for the independence of the Jewish nation against brutal oppression of Rome, beliefs for which he was ultimately crucified. It would behoove our Christian brothers and sisters to conclude that they have much more to learn about the authentic historical Jesus from Jews than any misguided attempts at converting them. Indeed, not only must these attempts be emphatically resisted by the Jewish community with overwhelming scholarship, but precisely the opposite is true. Christians must learn from the Jews to reject any deification of Jesus, which he, as a Pharisee, would have seen as the ultimate sacrilege and which is the subject of my upcoming book on the Jewish Jesus. They must follow Jesus as teacher and prophet rather than divinity. Every human being is a child of G-d, and not just Jesus, as the Bible makes clear in Deuteronomy.

Um ... I’m no theologian but the evangelical understanding of Jesus is that Jesus understood himself to be the divine Son of God. Just because someone is publishing a book about the more earthly Jesus doesn’t mean evangelicals should interpret the Bible differently.

Thoughts?

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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