Tags

, ,

A number of years ago I purchased a book (title above) that explains from a Jewish perspective why Jesus is not the anointed, the Messiah of God.[1] The author of the book is Asher Norman, an orthodox Jew, an expert in Christian-Jewish polemics, and a lawyer. These credentials allow me to get from a trained mind the best material, and presumably, the best arguments on the issue. With this material I will be using a number of other sources. The Chumash, the works of Michael Brown, the Jewish Study Bible (JSB), The Torah Revealed (Abraham Yaakov Finkel), a number of rabbinic commentaries on the Scriptures, and an encyclopedia of the Talmud.[2]

This will be a long study and postings will be at irregular intervals. I appreciate your patience on this.

The intent of the author in this book is not to convert Christians to Judaism (p. xxi), but to thwart the aggressive activities of the so-called messianic Jews (p. xxi). He does not intend to offend any genuine Christian, but does plan to be forthright in his plan (attack) on the issues that divide the two communities. In making his case he recognizes the gentile community does not need to become Jewish. For the Jewish community, however, Christianity is not an appropriate spiritual path (p. xxix). Mr. Norman denies that Jesus is the Son of God (to say as much would be idolatry). On the other hand, for the Gentiles, this can be affirmed and it is not idolatry (p. xxx). Mr. Norman then gives an analogy that contrasts Judaism and Christianity: Judaism is an intellectual appreciation that man has to being responsible to maintain high ethical standards. Christianity, on the other hand, is man’s approach to an emotional longing to be received (not his words). Norman does not intend to denigrate Christianity, but his words can hardly neutralize his intention. “Arguably, Christianity’s main appeal is to our inner child while Judaism’s main appeal is to the adult aspect of our nature” (xxx). The irony of this remark is in direct relation to what the apostle Paul said in Galatians 3. The Lord’s apostle wrote to the churches of Galatia about the role the Law of Moses had in people becoming Christian.

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:21-29, NKJV).

Continuing his introductory remarks, Norman speaks of the exaltation the Lord extended to the Jewish people at Sinai. “The Torah states that no other people will ever receive a national revelation by God” (xxxi). He cites as support for this remark Deuteronomy 4:32-35. Compare the following translations.

NKJV. For ask now concerning the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether  any great thing like this has happened, or anything like it has been heard. Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live? Or did God ever try to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him.

RSV. For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him.

JPS (Jewish Publication Society). For ask now of the days past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever a people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before thine eyes? Unto thee it was shown, that thou mightiest know that the LORD, He is God; there is none else beside Him.

Brenton (LXX). Ask of the former days which were before thee, from the day when God created man upon the earth, and beginning at the one end of heaven to the other end of heaven, if there has happened any thing like to this great event, if such a thing has been heard: if a nation have heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard and hast lived; if God has assayed to go and take to himself a nation out of the midst of another nation with trial, and with signs, and with wonders, and with war, and with a mighty hand, and with a high arm, and with great sights, according to all the things which the Lord our God did in Egypt in thy sight. So that thou shouldest know that the Lord thy God he is God, and there is none beside him.

Finally, I looked at the Jewish Chumash translation and the commentary along with the translation. Not a word is spoken along this line that Asher Norman asserts. Thus, if this is a Jewish teaching, it is a Jewish teaching from a source other than the Scripture and the composite commentary by the rabbis.[3]

******

Just before his concluding remarks of his introductory section, Norman speaks of the Jewish Mission and the role of the Jewish people in history. With regard to the former, it is worth notice that, up to this point in Jewish theology, Messiah ben David has yet to arrive. In fact, the Jews are “to be a light unto the nations (to serve as examples of ethics and holiness and the lead the world back to God), and to bring the Messiah ben David[4] into the world” (xxxiii).

As will be demonstrated in the articles that follow, the assertion of the author, Asher Norman, will not be sustained.

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his custom was, went in unto them, and for three sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, opening and alleging that it behooved the Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom, said he, I proclaim unto you, is the Christ. And some of them were persuaded, and consorted with Paul and Silas, and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews, being moved with jealousy, took unto them certain vile fellows of the rabble, and gathering a crowd, set the city on an uproar; and assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them forth to the people (Acts 17:1-5, ASV).

Introductory article completed/revised 8.3 (26).2015

[1] I have noticed that the word “messiah” is not capitalized in the book. In this writing, I choose to capitalize the word, but I will not when I am quoting the author’s words.

[2] Complete bibliography at the end

[3] The importance of this is in credibility. If the Scripture does not teach it, and if the rabbis do not teach it, then, at the very least, from the sources I have, his point is not sustained. It is possible that there is a teaching like this somewhere in rabbinic teaching, but there is nothing that I have on it, and certainly not from the passages referenced (including from the Jewish Study Bible (Jewish Study Bible)).

[4] The anointed (Christ) of God, the son of David.

Advertisements