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HolyGround >> Is Jesus the one who's referenced in Deut13: 1-5?


1/28/11 1:26 PM
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770mdm
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Edited: 01/28/11 1:33 PM
Member Since: 7/24/08
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This is a cut & paste / condensed version of an interview with Rabbi Weiler.  He is set to write about the Trial of Jesus and the implications of the Judeo-Christian influence on Western civilization.  I think there is a small wave of interest from Jews regarding Christianity coming.  I find it fascinating and wanted your thoughts.  I've read it and feel by answering these questions would ultimately bring Jews and Christians closer together.  I know it may all seem threatening but I really don't think so.  

The original interview is found here:
http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/tackling-taboos-jews-and-christians-cross-and-deicide

1) The trial of Jesus is not being appreciated sufficiently as the bedrock of Western sensibilities about Justice.

      In the Biblical story, Jesus is defined as the most abject enemy of society. He's the Osama bin Laden, the enemy who threatens the entire nation. Yet at the same time he's the Son of God, he's divinity. He is put on trial, and into our collective consciousness is written the imperative: 'Nobody is so abject that he doesn't deserve a trial, and nobody is so exalted that he can be excused from a trial.' That's why even for the terrorists in Guantanamo, we feel obliged to put them on trial, and why even Mr. Clinton had to stand for a trial of impeachment.

There's a second element. For generations, people have protested the injustice of the trial.
Rule number two, therefore, is that the trial has to be fair. We don't accept kangaroo trials, we don't accept perjury, and we don't accept tampering with witnesses. Of course it's a canon that often has been honored in the breach, but every time our civilization does that, there's a little voice in the ear that says, 'This is what they did to Jesus.'

 

2) Is there any theology of the Jesus' trial?  

For the Christian narrative to work, Jesus has to die blameless, innocent, the Paschal lamb. If we were writing the story ourselves, as opposed to something we receive from God, it actually would be much better if Caiaphas had just sent somebody in the middle of the night to stick a spear into Jesus. He could still have been buried, resurrected, etc., but there would be no question about his innocence and blamelessness. He would be the perfect martyr. So you really have to ask: Why a trial?

 

The question, 'Why a trial?' doesn't come up, even though life would be so much easier theologically had it just been a night of the long knives.

I believe Deuteronomy chapter 13, verses 1-5, is the key. It's an extraordinarily strange thing. The first verse says, 'This is my law. You will not add to it and you will not detract from it, forever.' Then it says that if one day a prophet or a dreamer should come to you giving 'signs and wonders' … that's code in scripture for somebody sent by God. So, if a prophet giving signs and wonders comes along and says to stray away from God, not to follow his law, you have to know that I'm testing you. This is the theologically baffling part: I am putting you to the test, and you must resist. Even though it's a prophet, even though it's signs and wonders which means it comes from God, you must put this man to death.

From a legal point of view, it's a remarkable thing. God ties his hands to the mast. He says this is a law forever, and puts in place a device that will stop even Him from changing the law. (That does not compromise his omnipotence, because otherwise he would not be able to make an eternal promise). My thesis is that Jesus is the person referred to in Deuteronomy.

 

 

 
1/28/11 1:27 PM
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770mdm
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 There's a deep theological challenge which Christianity really has not faced. If Jesus has to die innocently, someone has to kill him unjustly. This is very disturbing if you take the Bible seriously. It should offend the reader, because it means that for God to realize his design it depends on somebody going against God's will.

In my view, the theology I'm proposing makes everybody obey God. If I'm right that the trial is the working out of Deuteronomy 13:1-5, Jesus dies totally innocently since he is the prophet sent by God. Yet the Jews were also doing exactly what God told them to do. He said that if one day somebody comes with signs and wonders, and invites you to change the Law of Moses (which is at the heart of the indictment according to Luke in Acts), you're supposed to resist, and it explicitly says to put him to death.

In the trial, God achieves two things in one stroke. It's a trial of the Jews, to remind the Jews that they have their covenant and their salvation lies in it. It's also a trial of Jesus, in which he dies innocently because in that way he expiates the sins of everybody else. His death is the way of redemption for the world. At the end of the day, according to this vision, everybody is following the path of God.

For Christians, the difficult theological position is this: They have to accept that the covenant with the Jews endures to the end of days. John Paul II once said whimsically that God does not make covenants in vain. This means accepting that the Jews have their covenant, apart from the message of Christ.

 

Rabbi Weiler says, I try to answer the question why the shift of responsibility from the cross to the trial? That's what the culture has done. It's shifted the responsibility for the death of Jesus away from an execution by the Romans to a finding of guilt by the Jews. The reason in my view is not directly deicide. It is the steadfast rejection of Christ by the Jews, before and after the Crucifixion. It's not easy to condemn a people who faithfully stick to a covenant whom God himself proclaimed as eternal, so deicide comes in handy.

I've studied Nostra Aetate [the Vatican II document on relations with Judaism] very, very carefully. Basically it says that not everyone at the time of Jesus, and certainly nobody ever after, was complicit in what the Jewish leadership did. Therefore, because we don't believe in collective punishment and collective guilt, "the Jews" should not be held responsible. The startling thing is that by absolving the Jews, [the bishops] were also absolving themselves. They also say, in the very same statement, that despite the fact we have held the Jews responsible for 2,000 years, and because of that so many Jews were put on the stake … hey guys, there's no collective guilt, no collective responsibility, so don't blame us either.

That is one reason why I believe that John Paul II was one of the most impressive moral persons of our epoch. He never took that position. He said, 'I've got something to say I'm sorry for.' Not personally, of course … the man saved Jews during the Second World War. There are moving, moving stories. But representing the church, he said I'm not going to just rely on 'no collective responsibility.' There is something here to apologize for.

In the book, I say that as a Jew I don't want to be "absolved" either. We have to differentiate between guilt and responsibility. I want to be able to say, yes, we Jews put Christ to death, because that's what the Lord required us to do. Of course personally I'm not responsible, I'm not Caiaphas. But as a Jew, I want to be able to say that when somebody came as a prophet working signs and wonders and trying to change the law, we did what God asked us to do.

 

A good Christian-Jewish dialogue should not involve one side having to deny its core identity, which for Jews is the eternal covenant -- Chukat Olam. I would say, if you just open the Talmud to the Sanhedrin tractate, it's clear. Jesus came along and we put him to death, as we were required to do. The Romans are not even mentioned. The only difference between the Talmud and me is that they said Jesus was guilty of incitement, which is a reference to Deuteronomy 13, verse six onwards. That tractate is written at a time when the Talmud is the enemy of the church, and they don't want to give Jesus the dignity of being a prophet sent by God. For my part, following the great Jewish commentator Baal Haturim, I see no reason not to do so.

 

Christianity -- indeed, the Judeo-Christian tradition -- is one of the foundations of Western Civilization, and the best of that civilization is worth preserving.

Further, think about the century I grew up in, the 20th century. There were three movements which dwarf everything else in terms of a scale of evil. The Inquisition was terrible, but it's nothing compared to Hitler, Stalin and Mao. They represent a world in which man is made God, in which man thinks that his liberty is absolute to do whatever he wants. Hitchens and Dawkins may make a good point here and there, but the fact of Hitler, Mao and Stalin is overwhelming.  
1/29/11 7:21 PM
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RoninBT
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" I think there is a small wave of interest from Jews regarding Christianity coming."

Interesting statement. What leads you to this conclusion?
1/30/11 7:47 PM
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770mdm
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There are a few names that have popped out that are writing about the Jewishness of Jesus and the split between Judaism and Christianity.  I think they'll paint a picture showing, pretty conclusively, that what Jesus said and taught was Jewish and not something outside Judaic thought.  That the Jews did what they had to because of what was written in the Torah, like what this Rabbi Weiler discusses in the above interview.  That Rome was the staging point for this split and that the appeal of no Torah laws won the day over Torah Laws for the gentiles.  Paul despised the Rabbi's but so did one of our greatest sages, Rabbi Akiva - before he invested himself into Judaism at 40.  Akiva lived about 50 years after Paul but I wonder if that would be a better story.  What Paul did to Judaism as opposed to Akiva.  Anyway, I speak to Jews and they're interested in Jesus but Jews have different accounts of him.  Now that our cultures aren't at each others throats we can discard Christian anti-Jewish statements or sentiments and Jews can do the same.  In the end Jews will be Jews and Christians will remain Christians but we'll be closer?  Who knows... 
1/30/11 11:23 PM
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RoninBT
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“Jesus said and taught was Jewish and not something outside Judaic thought. That the Jews did what they had to because of what was written in the Torah,”

Maybe I misunderstand your reasoning but these two statements seem contradicting.

“In the end ...... we'll be closer?”

You might be on to something here. I don’t think any one person or religion has a strangle hold on the truth. If we are both truly seeking truth and are willing to let go of our “fathers inherited lies” then becoming closer will be an inevitability. For my part, I know I have a long way to go.
Hinneh mah tob mah naiym yashab ach gam yachad.


3/24/11 12:37 PM
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Bench
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For later. Phone Post
3/27/11 4:31 PM
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reverend john
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I disagree with some of the rabbi's understandings of what exactly was needed. But overall this is some really interesting thought.

rev

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