Judaism's view of Jesus

Judaism's view of Jesus

While Judaism has no special or particular view of Jesus, and very few texts in Judaism directly refer to or take note of Jesus, Judaism takes a strong stand against many views expressed by Christian theology. One of the most important Jewish principles of faith is the belief in one God and one God only with no partnership of any kind, [ [http://www.chabad.org/library/article.asp?AID=9970 Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4] ] and belief in Jesus as deity, part of a deity, son of God, or Christ, is incompatible with Judaism. A belief in the divinity of Jesus is incompatible with Judaism:
*"The point is this: that the whole Christology of the Church - the whole complex of doctrines about the Son of God who died on the Cross to save humanity from sin and death - is incompatible with Judaism, and indeed in discontinuity with the Hebraism that preceded it." Rayner, John D. "A Jewish Understanding of the World", Berghahn Books, 1998, p. 187. ISBN 1-57181-974-6
*"Aside from its belief in Jesus as the Messiah, Christianity has altered many of the most fundamental concepts of Judaism." Kaplan, Aryeh. "The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology: Volume 1, Illuminating Expositions on Jewish Thought and Practice", Mesorah Publication, 1991, p. 264. ISBN 0-89906-866-9
*"...the doctrine of Christ was and will remain alien to Jewish religious thought." Wylen, Stephen M. "Settings of Silver: An Introduction to Judaism", Paulist Press, 2000, p. 75. ISBN 0-8091-3960-X
*"For a Jew, however, any form of shituf is tantamount to idolatry in the fullest sense of the word. There is then no way that a Jew can ever accept Jesus as a deity, mediator or savior (messiah), or even as a prophet, without betraying Judaism." Schochet, Rabbi J. Immanuel. [http://www.cjnews.com/pastissues/99/july29-99/feature/feature2.htm "Judaism has no place for those who betray their roots"] , "Canadian Jewish News", July 29, 1999.
* [http://foundationstone.com.au/HtmlSupport/WebPage/Missionaries/missionariesAndCults.html Judaism and Jesus Don't Mix] (foundationstone.com)
*"If you believe Jesus is the messiah, died for anyone else's sins, is God's chosen son, or any other dogma of Christian belief, you are not Jewish. You are Christian. Period." (" [http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/virtualtalmud/2006/08/jews-for-jesus-whos-who-whats-what.html Jews for Jesus: Who's Who & What's What] " by Rabbi Susan Grossman (beliefnet - virtualtalmud) August 28, 2006)
*"For two thousand years, Jews rejected the claim that Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies of the Hebrew Bible, as well as the dogmatic claims about him made by the church fathers - that he was born of a virgin, the son of God, part of a divine Trinity, and was resurrected after his death. ... For two thousand years, a central wish of Christianity was to be the object of desire by Jews, whose conversion would demonstrate their acceptance that Jesus has fulfilled their own biblical prophecies." ("Jewish Views of Jesus" by Susannah Heschel, in "Jesus In The World's Faiths: Leading Thinkers From Five Faiths Reflect On His Meaning" by Gregory A. Barker, editor. (Orbis Books, 2005) ISBN 1-57075-573-6. p.149)
*"No Jew accepts Jesus as the Messiah. When someone makes that faith commitment, they become Christian. It is not possible for someone to be both Christian and Jewish." (" [http://judaism.about.com/library/3_askrabbi_c/bl_jesus.htm Why don't Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah?] " by Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner)] For this reason, related issues such as the historical existence of Jesus and whatever his life involved, are likewise not considered relevant in Judaism.

Jewish eschatology holds that the coming of the Messiah will be associated with a specific series of events that have not yet occurred, including the return of Jews to their homeland and the rebuilding of The Temple, an era of peace [(, [http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/2637/Q1/ "Why Jews Don't Believe in Jesus"] , Ohr Samayach - "Ask the Rabbi", accessed March 14, 2006; [http://www.askmoses.com/qa_detail.html?h=120&o=350 "Why don't Jews believe that Jesus was the messiah?"] , AskMoses.com, accessed March 14, 2006.] Authoritative texts of Judaism reject Jesus as God, Divine Being, intermediary between humans and God, Messiah or saint.

The belief in the Trinity, as with many other central Christian doctrines, [Examples of other beliefs central to many forms of Christianity, which contradict Judaic thought, include:
* that God has a son in human form;
* that there are intermediaries between man and God
* that one person can be saved or otherwise through the death or blood of another
* that belief in the divinity of Jesus will save a person from damnation
* that the laws of the Torah can be (or have been) revoked by their giver.
] is also held to be incompatible with Judaism.

Judaism's worldview and Jesus

Indivisibility of God

In Judaism, the idea of God as a duality or trinity is heretical — it is considered a deviation from strict monotheism and is akin to polytheism. [The concept of Trinity is incompatible with Judaism:
* [http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/web/faq/faq-tr.html Response - Reference Center - FAQ - Proof Texts - Trinity] (Jews for Judaism)
* [http://www.outreachjudaism.org/trinity.html The Trinity in the Shema?] by Rabbi Singer (outreachjudaism.org)
* [http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/beliefs/trinity.htm The Doctrine of the Trinity] (religionfacts.com)
] According to Judaic beliefs, the Torah rules out a trinitarian God in Deuteronomy (6:4): "Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one." See also Shema Yisrael.

In his book "A History of the Jews", Paul Johnson describes the caused by a divergence from this principle:

To the question, Was Jesus God or man?, the Christians therefore answered: both. After 70 AD, their answer was unanimous and increasingly emphatic. This made a complete breach with Judaism inevitable. [)] and understanding where "the knowledge of God" fills the earth [()] .

Therefore, any Judaic view of Jesus "per se" is influenced by the fact that Jesus lived while the Second Temple was standing, and not while the Jews were exiled. He never reigned as King, and there was no subsequent era of peace or great knowledge. Jesus died without completing or even accomplishing part of any of the messianic tasks, instead promising a second coming. Rather than being redeemed, the Jews were subsequently exiled from Israel. These discrepancies were noted by Jewish scholars who were contemporaries of Jesus, as later pointed out by Nahmanides, who in 1263 observed that Jesus was rejected as the Messiah by the rabbis of his time. [Nahmanides in the Disputation of Barcelona with Pablo Christiani in 1263 paragraph 103.]

Further, according to common beliefs of Judaism, Christian claims that Jesus is the textual messiah of the Hebrew Bible are based on mistranslations [ [http://judaism.about.com/library/3_askrabbi_o/bl_simmons_messiah3.htm Why did the majority of the Jewish world reject Jesus as the Messiah, and why did the first Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah?] by Rabbi Shraga Simmons (about.com)] [ and ,]

Authoritative texts of Judaism that mention Jesus

The Talmud and "Yeshu"

The name "Yeshu" (alt: "Jeshu", "Yeishu", Heb: _he. יש"ו) appears in various works of classical Jewish rabbinic literature including the Babylonian Talmud (redacted roughly before 600 CE) and the classical midrash literature written between 200 CE and 700 CE. Scholars have debated the meaning of the name, which has been used as an acronym for the Hebrew expression _he. ימח שמו וזכרו ("yemach shemo vezichro" – "May his name and memory be obliterated"). The word is similar to, and may be a wordplay on, "Yeshua",Fact|date=November 2007 believed by many to be the original Aramaic or Hebrew name of Jesus. Due to this fact, along with the occurrence in several manuscripts of the Babylonian Talmud of the appellation "Ha-Notzri", which has been variously understood as person from Nazareth or a person belonging to a group called Notzrim (Guardians, or watchmen) and some similarities between the stories of the two figures, some or many of the references to Yeshu have been traditionally understood to refer to the Jesus of Christianity. Conversely, others have criticized this view, [In the 13th century Jehiel ben Joseph of Paris wrote that the Yeshu in rabbinic literature was a disciple of Joshua ben Perachiah, and not to be confused with Jesus the Nazarene ("Vikkuah Rabbenu Yehiel mi-Paris"). Nahmanides too makes this point, and Rabbis Jacob ben Meir (Rabbeinu Tam) (12th century) and Jehiel Heilprin (17th century) also belong to this school. Likewise the comments of Rabbi Jacob Emden cannot be reconciled with the collective identification. In addition, the information cited from the Munich, Florence and other manuscripts in support of the identification are late comments written centuries after the original redaction of the Talmud.] citing discrepancies between events mentioned in association with "Yeshu" and the time of Jesus' life, [ The oppression by King Janneus mentioned in the Talmud occurred about 87 BCE, which would put the events of the story about a century before Jesus. The Yeshu who taught Jacob of Sechania would have lived a century after Jesus.] and differences between accounts of the deaths of "Yeshu" and Jesus. [The forty day waiting period before execution is absent from the Christian tradition and moreover Jesus did not have connections with the government. Jesus was crucified not stoned. Jesus was executed in Jerusalem not Lod. Jesus did not burn his food in public and moreover the Yeshu who did this corresponds to Manasseh of Judah in the Shulkhan Arukh. Jesus did not make incisions in his flesh, nor was he caught by hidden observers.]

In all cases of its use, the references are to individuals who (whether real or not) are associated with acts or behaviour that are seen as leading Jews away from Judaism to "minuth" (a term usually translated as "heresy" or "apostasy"). Therefore, whether "Yeshu" equates with "Jesus" has historically been a delicate question, as "Yeshu" is portrayed in a negative light, and negative portrayals of Jesus in Jewish literature might incite, or be used as an excuse for, antisemitism among some Christians.

Some argue that there is no relationship between Yeshu and the historical Jesus; some argue that Yeshu refers to the historical Jesus; some argue that Yeshu is a literary device used by Rabbis to comment on their relationship to and with early Christians. Some rabbis [Nahmanides in his dispute with Pablo Christiani in 1263 paragraph 22. "Vikuach HaRamban" found in "Otzar Havikuchim" by J. D. Eisenstein, Hebrew Publishing Society, 1915 and "Kitvey HaRamban" by Rabbi Charles D. Chavel, Mosad Horav Kook, 1963; Also "The Kuzari" by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi Section 3 paragraph 65.] understood these references as referring to Jesus and based on them believed that Jesus lived 130 years prior to the date that Christians believe he lived, contradicting the Gospels' account regarding the chronology of Jesus.


The primary references to Yeshu are found in uncensored texts of the Babylonian Talmud and the Tosefta. The Vatican's papal bull issued in 1554 censored the Talmud and other Jewish texts, resulting in the removal of references to Yeshu. No known manuscript of the Jerusalem Talmud makes mention of the name although one translation (Herford) has added it to "Avodah Zarah 2:2" to align it with similar text of "Chullin 2:22" in the Tosefta. All later usages of the term Yeshu are derived from these primary references. In the Munich (1342 CE), Paris, and Jewish Theological Seminary manuscripts of the Talmud, the appellation "Ha-Notzri" is added to the last mention of Yeshu in "Sanhedrin 107b" and "Sotah 47a" as well as to the occurrences in "Sanhedrin 43a", "Sanhedrin 103a", "Berachot 17b" and "Avodah Zarah" 16b-17a. Student [http://talmud.faithweb.com/articles/jesusnarr.html] , Zindler and McKinsey [http://skeptically.org/bible/id4.html] note that "Ha-Notzri" is not found in other early pre-censorship partial manuscripts (the Florence, Hamburg and Karlsruhe) where these cover the passages in question.

Although "Notzri" does not appear in the Tosefta, by the time the Babylonian Talmud was produced, "Notzri" had become the standard Hebrew word for Christian and "Yeshu Ha-Notzri" had become the conventional rendition of "Jesus the Nazarene" in Hebrew. For example, by 1180 CE the term "Yeshu Ha-Notzri" can be found in the Maimonides' "Mishneh Torah" ("Hilchos Melachim" 11:4, uncensored version). Although the word "Ha-Notzri" literally means "the nezarene" ("the one who was born in Nazareth"), Maimonides' reference is clearly intended to indicate Jesus.

To explain the dearth of references to Jesus in the Talmud, it has been argued that
*The Talmud was subject to censorship. During the medieval period in Europe, Jewish texts were often placed on the "Index of Forbidden Books" and passages deemed insulting to the Church were expurgated as of 1264 (The entire Talmud was placed on the "Index" by Pope Paul IV in 1559).
*Although restoring these passages still produces only a few mentions of Yeshu, the Mishnah, which forms the skeleton of the Talmud, was written at a time when Christianity was first emerging. The Christians were just one, apparently usual, sect with which the authors contended (others included Sadducees, Samaritans, and Gnostics).
*The final redaction of the Talmud, the Babylonian Talmud was created in Babylonia, where Christianity did not have the same impact as it did in the Mediterranean Basin. As such, it was not perceived of as a particularly notable religion.
*Although it is generally comprehensive, the Talmud is also prone to instances of self-censorship, particularly in response to controversial Jewish factionalism and the fear of antisemitic reaction (e.g. Hanukkah, a celebration of Jewish rebellion against pagan Syrian-Greek rule, is only mentioned in passing in the Talmud, possibly for these reasons).
*The Talmud may mention Jesus and Christianity in coded terms, such as "min" (מין, sometimes translated "apostate" or "heretic"), though this term refers to various sectarian groups. In terms of labeling Christians as "minim" it is important to note the adage of Rav Nahman in the name of Rava bar Avuha in Tractate "Chullin 13b": "There are no "minim" among the gentiles," i.e., the appellation could only be applied to converts from Judaism.
*The Talmud was essentially the writing down of the basics of the Oral Law - despite its great size, it is still a very condensed form compared to the knowledge that existed originally, therefore, due to the limited space, only the necessities were discussed that might otherwise be forgotten.

Maimonides' Mishneh Torah

Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon) lamented the pains that Jews felt as a result of new faiths that attempted to supplant Judaism, specifically Christianity and Islam. Referring to Jesus, he wrote:

"Even Jesus the Nazarene who imagined that he would be Messiah and was killed by the court, was already prophesied by Daniel. So that it was said, “And the members of the outlaws of your nation would be carried to make a (prophetic) vision stand. And they stumbled” (Daniel 11.14). Because, is there a greater stumbling-block than this one? So that all of the prophets spoke that the Messiah redeems Israel, and saves them, and gathers their banished ones, and strengthens their commandments. And this one caused (nations) to destroy Israel by sword, and to scatter their remnant, and to humiliate them, and to exchange the Torah, and to make the majority of the world err to serve a divinity besides God."

Nonetheless, Maimonides continued,

"And all these things of Jesus the Nazarene, and of (Muhammad) the Ishmaelite who stood after him – there is no (purpose) but to straighten out the way for the King Messiah, and to restore all the world to serve God together. So that it is said, “Because then I will turn toward the nations (giving them) a clear lip, to call all of them in the name of God and to serve God (shoulder to shoulder as) one shoulder.” (Zephaniah 3:9). Look how all the world already becomes full of the things of the Messiah, and the things of the Torah, and the things of the commandments! And these things spread among the far islands and among the many nations uncircumcized of heart.("Hilkhot Melakhim" 11:10–12.)

Maimonides' Epistle to Yemen

Jesus is mentioned in Maimonides' Epistle to Yemen, written about 1172 to Rabbi Jacob ben Netan'el al-Fayyumi, head of the Yemen Jewish community during a time when Jews of that country were passing through a crisis, namely a forced conversion to Islam, inaugurated about 1165 by 'Abd-al-Nabi ibn Mahdi, and a campaign conducted by a recent convert to win them to his new faith. The context of Maimonides' mention of Jesus is during a portion retelling the history of those who tried to destroy Judaism 1) by the sword, 2) by controversies, and 3) by both conquest and controversy. The latter category begins with Jesus, and goes on to mention Paul, and then Muhammad (who is referred to in the text as "the Madman").

Ever since the time of Revelation, every despot or slave that has attained to power, be he violent or ignoble, has made it his first aim and his final purpose to destroy our law, and to vitiate our religion, by means of the sword, by violence, or by brute force, such as Amalek, Sisera, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Titus, Hadrian, may their bones be ground to dust, and others like them. This is one of the two classes which attempt to foil the Divine will.

The second class consists of the most intelligent and educated among the nations, such as the Syrians, Persians, and Greeks. These also endeavor to demolish our law and to vitiate it by means of arguments which they invent, and by means of controversies which they institute....

After that there arose a new sect which combined the two methods, namely, conquest and controversy, into one, because it believed that this procedure would be more effective in wiping out every trace of the Jewish nation and religion. It, therefore, resolved to lay claim to prophecy and to found a new faith, contrary to our Divine religion, and to contend that it was equally God-given. Thereby it hoped to raise doubts and to create confusion, since one is opposed to the other and both supposedly emanate from a Divine source, which would lead to the destruction of both religions. For such is the remarkable plan contrived by a man who is envious and querulous. He will strive to kill his enemy and to save his own life, but when he finds it impossible to attain his objective, he will devise a scheme whereby they both will be slain.

The first one to have adopted this plan was Jesus the Nazarene, may his bones be ground to dust. He was a Jew because his mother was a Jewess although his father was a Gentile. For in accordance with the principles of our law, a child born of a Jewess and a Gentile, or of a Jewess and a slave, is legitimate. (Yebamot 45a). Jesus is only figuratively termed an illegitimate child. He impelled people to believe that he was a prophet sent by God to clarify perplexities in the Torah, and that he was the Messiah that was predicted by each and every seer. He interpreted the Torah and its precepts in such a fashion as to lead to their total annulment, to the abolition of all its commandments and to the violation of its prohibitions. The sages, of blessed memory, having become aware of his plans before his reputation spread among our people, meted out fitting punishment to him.

"Daniel had already alluded to him when he presaged the downfall of a wicked one and a heretic among the Jews who would endeavor to destroy the Law, claim prophecy for himself, make pretenses to miracles, and allege that he is the Messiah, as it is written, "Also the children of the impudent among thy people shall make bold to claim prophecy, but they shall fall." (Daniel 11:14)."Halkin, Abraham S., ed., and Cohen, Boaz, trans. "Moses Maimonides' Epistle to Yemen: The Arabic Original and the Three Hebrew Versions," American Academy for Jewish Research, 1952, .]

In the context of refuting the claims of a contemporary in Yemen purporting to be the Messiah, Maimonides mentions Jesus again:

"You know that the Christians falsely ascribe marvelous powers to Jesus the Nazarene, may his bones be ground to dust, such as the resurrection of the dead and other miracles. Even if we would grant them for the sake of argument, we should not be convinced by their reasoning that Jesus is the Messiah. For we can bring a thousand proofs or so from the Scripture that it is not so even from their point of view. Indeed, will anyone arrogate this rank to himself unless he wishes to make himself a laughing stock?Halkin, Abraham S., ed., and Cohen, Boaz, trans. "Moses Maimonides' Epistle to Yemen: The Arabic Original and the Three Hebrew Versions," American Academy for Jewish Research, 1952, .]

Nahmanides' disputation at Barcelona

In 1263, Nahmanides, rabbi of Girona and later chief rabbi of Catalonia, was ordered by King James I of Aragon to take part in a public disputation with Pablo Christiani, a Jewish convert to Catholicism.

Christiani had been trying to make the Jews of Provence abandon Judaism and convert to Christianity. Relying upon the reserve his adversary would be forced to maintain through fear of wounding the feelings of the Christian dignitaries, Pablo assured the King that he could prove the truth of Christianity from the Talmud and other rabbinical writings. Nahmanides complied with the order of the King, but stipulated that complete freedom of speech should be granted, and for four days (July 20-24) debated with Pablo Christiani in the presence of the King, the court, and many ecclesiastical dignitaries.

The subjects discussed were:

# whether the Messiah had appeared;
# whether the Messiah announced by the Prophets was to be considered as divine or as a man born of human parents;
# whether the Jews or the Christians were in possession of the true faith.

Christiani argued, based upon several aggadic passages, that the Pharisee sages believed that the Messiah had lived during the Talmudic period, and that they ostensibly believed that the Messiah was therefore Jesus. Nahmanides countered that Christiani's interpretations were per-se distortions; the rabbis would not hint that Jesus was Messiah while, at the same time, explicitly opposing him as such. Nahmanides proceeded to provide context for the proof-texts cited by Christiani, showing that they were most clearly understood differently than as proposed by Christiani. Furthermore, Nahmanides demonstrated from numerous biblical and talmudic sources that traditional Jewish belief ran contrary to Christiani's postulates.

Nahmanides went on to show that the Biblical prophets regarded the future messiah as a human, a person of flesh and blood, and not as a divinity, in the way that Christians view Jesus. He noted that their promises of a reign of universal peace and justice had not yet been fulfilled. On the contrary, since the appearance of Jesus, the world had been filled with violence and injustice, see also But to bring a sword, and among all denominations the Christians were the most warlike.

He noted that questions of the Messiah are of less dogmatic importance to Jews than most Christians imagine. The reason given by him for this bold statement is that it is more meritorious for the Jews to observe the precepts under a Christian ruler, while in exile and suffering humiliation and abuse, than under the rule of the Messiah, when every one would perforce act in accordance with the Law.

ee also

* Early Christianity
* Rejection of Jesus
* Shituf
* Christianity and Judaism
* Judaism's view of Muhammad


External links

* [http://www.jewsforjudaism.com Jews for Judaism]
* [http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/spark5756-22.html The False Prophet]
* [http://www.aish.com/spirituality/philosophy/Why_Dont_Jews_Believe_In_Jesus$.asp Why Don't Jews Believe in Jesus]
*PDFlink| [http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/web/pdf/RealMessiahBookPages_v4ab.pdf The Real Messiah? A Jewish Response to Missionaries.] by Aryeh Kaplan

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