Posts Tagged ‘Jewish mind set’

A Jewish Perspective

It seems that I can’t get away from a “Jewish perspective of the first century”. From emails to posts on various forums, to books and articles online/in book stores, there is an abundance of theories referring to this strange phenomenon. It’s as if suddenly, to be in the “loop” of solid spirituality, one must discover some kind of ancient culture or language in order to understand who Jesus is and what He said with complete clarity.

That probably comes as shock to some and for others, total agreement. It’s as if the NT forgot that itsy bitsy detail and so for 2,000 years, most of the believers in the world have “missed it” for the sake of blindness to their “true” historical “roots” …. or as some have termed it, to “enhance their faith” and their walk with Christ.

There was a time when I was caught up into the Jewishness of the Bible or going back to “the ancient paths” of the time of Jesus. It was how I got drawn into the Messianic Hebrew Roots movement. That was the hook for me [and it brought me down some very slippery slopes toward orthodox Judaism and kabbalah]. I supposed that if I found Jewish believers, they could accurately speak to me of the truths of the Bible hidden from Christians who had been guided away from the “real truth”. That canard is played rather heavily in the HR movement, but interestingly now being promoted with Christianity as well. Does it have any credibility?

What is a Jewish perspective?

Depending on the venue it can be defined as first century Jewish practice that is thought to be applied to Christ and the disciples. Or it can mean discovering Hebraic primacy of the NT, which would leave the Greek as a “mistranslation” of the text. Or worst of all, a Hellenistic [Greek] pagan influenced view of Hebraic “Judaism”.

From the sources that I have studied, Jewish practice is pretty much defined by the Talmud, which is a Rabbinical look at the history of Judaism from Mt Sinai onwards. The Talmud, in the broadest terms, is considered the “oral law” transmitted by mouth, from generation to generation from Mt Sinai until about 150 CE when the Mishneh began to record those “transmissions”. The Talmud, from 200-500 CE continued with the process and throughout the centuries till the middle ages, the Rabbinical system contributed to Talmudic concepts and interpretations of the Torah [Mosaic Law] by a debate system from Rabbi to Rabbi in the ensuing centuries. The Talmud consists of many volumes of works – an extensive library of discussions and “rulings” that are Judaism.

An early form of Judaism was expressed through the Pharisees from about 300 BCE [birthed from the Hasmodean period also known as Maccabeen] until 70 CE when the Temple was destroyed. From there, the pharisaical sect “morphed” into what is the Rabbinical system today.

Other than through the Talmud and Josephus, there is not much “history” of first century practices. What we read in the NT is pretty sketchy, but that is probably because it was not necessary. The Gospel, the Good News, is not bound or explained by historical significance. That is the beauty of the cross. The cross of Christ completely transcends history, culture and language – for those IN Christ know Him by His indwelt Spirit.

I have heard it said that because Jesus was Jewish, therefore; we need information about that Jewishness in order to understand Him and what He spoke. According to this concept, the true meaning of the parables and allegory of the NT is hidden from those who do not have this Jewish perspective. I really have to smile at that one. I am not sure what is so important about what Jesus said that has to be filtered though “Jewishness”. Loving God above all, loving your neighbor as yourself. Wow. That’s really tough to grasp [smile].

This same Jewish perspective is quite fond of calling Jesus “Rabbi” who taught/practiced the true “Jewishness” of the “Law” and therefore, one must “follow in His footsteps” by being Jewish. For some this means keeping the Mosaic Law. However; a “Rabbi” is a Talmudic classification, it is not a first century position. There were no Rabbis in Jesus’ day. There were Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes. The Rabbinic title is given to Jewish men who study Talmud specifically to be ordained as a Rabbi. There was no Talmud in the first century.

When Jesus was referred to as “Rabbi”, it simply meant teacher. A Rabbi today, within Judaism, is an expert on Talmudic Law. So the obvious question is: what did Jesus need with a Talmudic title to teach what is interpreted to be the Law through a man made system that denies Him and His finished work?

In case one points out the “oral law” from Mt Sinai as part of the first century Jewish practice, I should probably explain a bit on that concept. If there was an oral law [extremely speculative because of Israel’s history of disseminations, dispersements, and separations – it would be highly unlikely for any kind of accuracy ….. it’s just common sense … think telephone game], we need to check what the Bible has to say on it. According to a multitude of Scriptures, ALL the laws of Moses were WRITTEN DOWN. There is not one reference to oral transmission of the laws given at Mt Sinai in the OT. This poses a huge problem for those who try to wedge anything that Jesus said into the oral law tradition.

It is a fact that Jesus condemned the traditions and laws of the Pharisees. He hated their interpretations and added laws that put a yoke on people. He even stated that by those traditions they rendered the Law of Moses worthless. Those are hurting words! Isn’t that like a “DUH” moment? It amazes me that people think Jesus took phrases and sayings from a pharisaical sect that He condemned and then supposedly promoted their heresy? It’s like, WOW – who woulda thunk it?

Another favorite ploy is to assign Jesus an affiliation with Hillel who lived middle 1 BCE to about 10 CE. So things that Jesus said like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” comes from the negative Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow”. Unfortunately, the only assumed recorded Hillel version was written long after Jesus ……. in the Talmud. So let’s take another look at the Talmud to find the answer.

The Talmud [including other works like the Toldot Yeshu] is the most polemical anti-Christ writing ever written. It contains many references to His birth, life, and death and of Mary and Joseph in the most denigrating and perverted ways. The Talmud was written to replace Christianity’s influence and to keep Jews from converting to Christ. From the amount of teachings in the Talmud that reflect what Jesus spoke, but twisted, I suspect that the Talmud took from Him, not the other way around – and probably to inflate their system to make Jesus look bad. The Talmud is considered superior to the written Word [Mosaic Law specifically] so why would they not elevate themselves above Christ, saying that He took their sayings as His own? I cannot imagine how people would think that Jesus would “paraphrase” the ungodliness of the “oral law” that was supposedly spoken before Jesus’ time and included in the Talmud, which denies and hates Him. It does not add up. Why would anyone want to reference that work as customs and teachings that Jesus adhered to in the first century?

The traditions of the Talmud like the tallit, bar mitzvah, the Passover Seder, mikveh, the title of Rabbi, the 8 day miracle of oil for Hanukkah, etc are all Talmudic traditions added around the middle ages CE. None of the customs that people apply to Christ were part of the first century. So how can one now say that we must return to those traditions when they did not exist then?

Does it make one feel more “Jewish”? Probably. But is that a necessary part of knowing Christ? I find it interesting that Paul said all of his Jewishness was dung. WOW. Not that being Jewish was bad, but what he practiced as a Jew – the culture, the traditions, his position as a Pharisee were dung. What Paul focused on was the cross of Christ and running unhindered with his eyes focused on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Unbelievably simple.

One of the most favorite ploys of the “Jewish perspective” is that the “Jewishness of the Gospel” was stolen by Hellenistic Christians aka the converted Greek gentiles. Of course, the full load is dumped on Constantine who is the “fall guy” because he “ordered” the elimination of all Hebraicness from Christianity in 325 CE. I sometimes wonder at people’s ability to gloss over one little fact. If God wanted the Gospel to retain “Jewishness” it would not have disappeared in the first place. I also am puzzled as to why the NT never refers to keeping Jewish traditions and a Hebraic mindset in order to understand Jesus’words or the writings of the disciples. I probably just over-looked it (smile).

Hellenism was a huge part of the Jewish life style during the first century. It was not some “new” philosophy that overcame the Gospel. Rome had ruled Israel from about 325 BCE. If anyone understands how the culture and language are integrated into the current culture and language, it’s not difficult to grasp that the Jews not only spoke Greek [Aramaic and Hebrew as well], but were affected religiously by the Greek “mind set”. Plus we read in the NT that Hellenism had already infiltrated the church.

It amazes me that people actually think the first century Jews were “pure”. They had broken their covenant with God and were quite literally without the presence of God in the Temple [no ark of the covenant]. The priesthood was in shambles and a cursed king was on the throne. The ruling leadership [Pharisees, Sadducess, and scribes] were corrupt. Jewish history consisted of rebellion against God and idolatry, not to mention the kingly line of David, and the Levitical [Zadok] priesthood that were both overthrown by the Maccabees. Quite a background for “pure” Jewishness in the first century.

I think the problem lies in the lack of knowledge of who Jesus is. As God, He had no need of a culture or language to teach. People understood Him quite well – at least those who believed on Him. If we look at the people who believed on Him and took His teachings to heart, they were not just Jewish people. There were Samaritans, Greeks, Roman centurians and others. For some odd reason, they did not have a “Jewish” perspective, but understood from the heart as revealed through the Holy Spirit. Peter is a great example of this. He declared Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God because God revealed it to Him, not because of his Jewishness. When Jesus called the disciples, it was not because of His Jewishness, but because God stirred them to follow Jesus.

Paul tells us that we have the mind of Christ. Is Jesus’ mind, Hebrew? Or is the NT correct when it states that He grew in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Did Jesus need a Jewish mind set to teach the things of God? Wasn’t the Jewish mind set corrupted by years of sin and rebellion?

Hopefully my commentary has given you some thought as to your current understanding of a “Jewish” perspective. I have several articles that go in-depth on many of the topics I included here with Scriptural and historical documentation. Please read them for further study. Please take time, also, to surf through my “daily” posts and the topics listed at the top of my blog page or at the right side. I ask that you not take my word for what I have written, but search these things out for yourself and prove all things, as we are instructed to do.

Another great place to come and get involved in an open discussion is the Seek God Forum. We have tons of topics and you are more than welcome to sign up as a member to post or to start new topics [you can read as much as you like without joining, but we’d love to have you jump right in and give us your thoughts! – http://www.seekgod.ca/forum/index.php ]

Some articles to look at:






Read Full Post »