In college, I subscribed to Relevant, a magazine for evangelical Christians trying to stay in touch with what’s hip though not necessarily holy. I found the magazine enjoyable, but the writing in want (probably because its freelance writers are paid about 10 cents a word).
This month’s cover carries an unexpected face. Not that of Jesus the Messiah but of Matisyahu the Hasidic rapper/reggae artist who’s praying for messiah. Inside Relevant asks the wildly popular musician about Hasidism, Zionism and what Jesus means to Judaism.
(W)ithin evangelical Christianity thereâs a big lack of appreciation for the Jewishness of Jesus as a rabbi, as a prophet and so on and so forth. How does the historical character of Jesus fit into Judaism in a practical way?
I mean, practically, you see that a lot of times amongst religious Jews thereâs a negative feeling toward Jesus, and I think the reason for that is because, you know, with anything thereâs the initial thing, the initial idea, the initial person or whatever it is. And no matter how pure or good it is, you have to look at whatâs the result five years down the line, a hundred years down the line. For example, Nietzsche was coming up with all types of ideas and stuff, philosophical ideas. But then later on down the line those ideas basically formed the basis for Nazism, even though he was against Nazis. So his ideas, at the end of the dayâthey didnât really work. I think itâs kind of the same thing with Jesus if you look down the road a thousand years or five hundred years or whatever, the basis of what came out. Whether thatâs what He wanted or not, what resulted was, in my eyes, not necessarily a positive thing. I donât think itâs truth, and I think, therefore, you see how it led to all kinds of destruction and violence. And in terms of knowing what Jesus was really all about, I personally donât really know because I wasnât really in those times, and I donât necessarily trust the sources that talk about it. But one thing thatâs known is that He could see that there was corruption and He got turned off by it, which is understandable. And then He kind of started a new wave of Judaism, but it didnât work, which is kind of a danger, I guess, with anyone that starts a movement, you know, a breakaway kind of thing.
Interesting to see Matisyahu refer to Christianity as “a new wave of Judaism,” as if it were the Reform movement.
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