Jesus Christ King Messaih/Alred Edersheim
On the comment section of my blog, to the previous post about the ancient church, there is a squabble brewing between myself and a guy who claims to follow "Yeshua." He's not a typical Messianic Jew because rejects the Gospels and believes that Jesus, although Messiah, was totally pharisee and would be utterly against any form of the Christian Gospel. I can't help but see this as an attempt to divert Jews from an interest in Jesus to a form of Orthodoxy that recasts Jesus in the shade of Tovia Singer (notorious anti-missionary). The links between Jesus and the early church are solid. Do not let any convince you that they have any sort of secret historical information that would pit Jesus against the church. We do not know this. The only valid evidence we have of Jesus from history is the New Testament documents, the scant traces of remembrance in the "Apostolic fathers" and tantalizing suggestions and speculative maybes teased out of apocryphal literature. There is no secret cache of Rabbinical docs that tell us anything of any real substance about Jesus.
There are some hints in the Talmud. There are a few passages that may talk about him. But these are not of any length and they confirm his existence and few facts about him but nothing more. They do not show us any reason to believe that he was opposed to any sort of teaching that would latter be associated with the Church.The odd thing is that most Orthodox Jews will try to deny that Jesus is in the Talmud at all. The Talmudic passages pretty much prove that Jesus existed. They don't prove much more and most of what they say is defaming propaganda. You can read more about this on my website, Doxa.
The real issue between me and Anders is not so much Jesus, as Paul. I'm sure he rejects Paul as a total hieratic. The Jewish Christians of Jesus day saw him as the man of lawlessness foretold in Daniel. But that doesn't mean they were right. The Jewish Christian church disappears from history in the fourth century, probably re assimilated since it was totally cut off from its gentile counterparts, and dependent upon its Jewish roots for survive. There is no secret repository of Jewish info that disproves the link between Jesus and the church. The Gospels were written by communities started by Jesus' earliest disciples. They followed the Apostles. The Apostles appointed Bishops to guard the teachings that Jesus entrusted to them. The communities produced wittings that would preserve the testimony of the earliest disciples. The Bishops, chosen by Apostles and latter handed down in sequence after their time from prior Bishops, eventually decided which of these works were to be put in special list and given primary status as "cannon."
The problem with these pseudo Orthodox Messianic groups is that They never understand that Judaism was not the same in Jesus day as it is now. It was very diverse. There were groups who absolutely opposed the Pharisees. The probability is high that the twelve Apostles represented heterodox factions that where not Pharisees. Anders tries to appeal to the dead sea scrolls to link Jesus to Pharisees. But the only quote he has that the Pharisees accepted the Tenach. That is not proof that the Qumran sect accepted the Pharisees.
Andres (see comment section):
It’s documented in 4Q MMT Qumran Dead Seascrolls that Pharisees followed Torah including Halakhah.
He would have been a false prophet according to Devarim (some translate it Deuteronomy) 13:1-6.
The reason the Qumran sect was in the desert was to escape the faction that stile the priesthood and murdered their guy, the teacher of righteousness who was the valid high priest. In his place the put the wicked priest, and that faction became the Pharisees. The diversity of Judaism is important because it means that the pharisees could not claim they were the true and proper Jews. The only reason the modern Talmudists claim that is because they descended from the pharisees. In AD 70 when the temple was destoryed, the heterodox factions, which were numerous, either died fighting or they had become Christians already. The only surviving faction were the pharisees so by default they got to claim Judaism as their own. But prior to that time there were facts that were messianic, claiming to have the true messiah, claiming to know who he would be when he would come. The pharisees were not doing that. the Qumran guys were doing that. That's a dead giveaway as to why the Pharisees hated Jesus. Anders tries to blame the Saducees for Jesus' execution but it was the pharisees who had the high priesthood and controlled the sandhedron and they are the wones who did Jesus' trial and who crucified him. After the Pharisees took control they began to change the expectations about Messiah. They moved away form the LXX and adopted a new Greek Translation that did not put things the way the LXX did because the LXX is what the chruch used to claim Jesus was Messiah. The Pharisees took out the bits about the Messiah being rejected and executed and returning.
The diversity of Judaism in the second temple period is well documented.
see First Century Jewish Expectations of Messiah (on my website, Doxa).
The Diversity of First century Judaism:"The Essenic movment and heterodox Judaism spread throughout the entire Jewish world. Reflecting the power of the 'splinded isolation' that gave rise to the Hasiedan movement.... Pharisaic Judaism and Christinity represent different offshoots of old Testament religion. The one emphasized the Law of Moses but in terms of oral tradition and adaptability of ancient revelation to contemporary conditions. The other places stress on prophecy and fullfillment of promises in terms of the Messianic fulfillment....It is clear that the Essenes were closer to the Jewish-Christian in terms of Messianic expectation and eschatological fulfillment, although they were at different points on the time table. Thus the people of Qumran awaited royal and preistly Messiahs, while in the New Testament the term "Messiah" is clearly of the Dividic King."
--Gallayah Cornfeld, Archaeology of The Bible Book by Book, New York: Harper and Row, 1976, p. 265.
I. Diversity of Judaism in frist century Palestine.
Most Chrsitian arguments about fulfillment of Messianch prophesies seem unbelievable to skeptics, and that's because we really don't understand the way the early chruch looked at them. We tend to look at them and say "how could so many predictions be fulfilled? The odds are agaisnt it being a natural occurrence." Yet most of these things do not look like prophecies. This is because they did not have the notion of statistical probability. They didn't look at it in that way.They excepted Jesus as Messiah because of his teachings, his miracles and his character, plus some superficial fulfillments such as his linage and place of birth.But the real rason the early church looked at prophsey was to explain his death. Jesus died a shameful death, wehreas the Messiah was expected to reign in triumph. Upon closer examination they realized that there were deeper assumptions and that Jesus fit them, more importantly, his death was in the plan of God for the Messiah. As we look at these expectations which people in Jesus day had for the Messiah,we realize that the stroy they describe is the story of Jesus, right down to his death and ressurrection.
A. Diversity of Jewish Outlook.
It is alledged by Jewish expositors today that the verses sited in the Gospels pertaining to Jesus fulfillment of Messianic prophecy are not really Messianic verses. Hence, the expositors argue, Jesus did not fulfill any propheicies because the Jews did not expect a Messiah like Jesus. They argue the Messianich expectations were never applied to the verses that Christians have sited for 2000 years.
However, ther were many groups, with a diversity of expectations, that even verses wich don't seem to apply at all can be assumed to apply.After all, why whould the Jews of the first century be so daft as to just allow someone to come and tell them what their expectations were? Wouldn't they know? The main point of this page is to argue that he actual Messianic passages and expecations of the Messiah held by the Jews of Jesus day were not only fulfilled by him, but that they actually mark out the Jesus story as it is presnted in the Gospels, with the exception of those verses that pertain to the end of times, but even where those are concenred the Jews expected a gap between the first appearance of the Messiah and his eventual Kingdom.
Rabbinical tradition of Jesus' time was diverse. Judaism today is nothing like it was in the first century."Judaism has not stood still and what may apply for the fourth century may be wholly misleading if applied to the time in which Jesus lived." (Neil, 295). After the temple was destroyed in AD70 several sub-traditions and factions were swept away. Essntially only the Pharaseical tradition survived and became the mainstream of what we know as Judaism today. The Essenic type survived, and became the Hassidem, but they are less "mainstream." The Hassiedics are more fringe, being niether Orthodox, nor conservative, nor even liberal. The groups that were swept away were the bitter rivals of the pharasees. Their opinions are not recognized, and they are forgotten. We can see the efforts of the surviving tradition to change certian facts which favored Christian views. First, the LXX (Greek Translation of the Old Testament) was the favored text for Hellenized judaism before the destruction. It was also the Bible of the early chruch because it favored the Christian views of prophecy. Don't forget, it has already been documented taht the LXX renders Pslam 22 as "peirced hands and feet," and that the LXX is closer to the Dead Sea Scroll. In the early second century Judaism produced another Greek translation, "Aquilla's translation" which replaced the LXX and was taylored to be less Messianic (Steven Neil, The Interpritation of the New Testament).
On the same page see my argument:
Christianity emerged from Heterodox Factions.
quoting from Robert Eisenman (Pof. of Middle East Religions and chair of Religious Studies Department at California state University Long Beach) and Michael Wise (Arimaic, University of Chicago) "So what do we have in these manuscripts? Probably nothing less than a picture of the movement from which Chrsitiantiy sprang in Palestine. But there is more--if we take into consideration the Messianic nature of these texts [Dead Sea Scrolls] we delieniate it in this book, and allied concepts such as 'righteousness,' 'piety,' 'works,' 'justification,' 'the poor, ' 'mysteries,'was we have is a picture of what Chrsitinatity actually was in Palestine....we cannot really speak of a Chrstianity per se in Palestine in the first century. The word was only coined as Acts 11;26 makes clear, to describe a situation in Antioch in Syria in the fifties of the present era. Latter it was coined to describe a large portion of the over seas world that became 'chirstian,' but this Christiaintiy was completely different form the movement..." (Rober Eisenman and Michael Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, Shaftisburry, Dorset: Element, 1992, 10)
Eisenman and Wise go on to point out that the Christiantiy of James' circle was legalistic, law oriented, and that their vocabulary was right out of the Scrolls of Qumran; their concepts, their orientation to life, while the Pauline group was its mirror opposite transforming law orieneted notions into Grace. They then go on and speak of the movement which produced the Scrolls, wheather it be called "Saducess, Essene, or Zealot, terms which they find all have some applicability but all really miss the Mark. The Qumran community was warlike, militant, but bore commonalities with all these groups including the Jewish Chrsitians. The say of the movment of which Qumran must have been a part:
"IT is for these reasons that we felt it more appropriate to refer tot he movmeent we have before us [Qurman] as a'Messianic' one, and its literature as the literature of 'the Messianic Movement' in Palestine. In so faar as this literature resembles Essenism, it can be called, Essene, Zealotism, Zealot';Sadduceeism, Sadducee; Jueish Christiantiy--whatever might be meant by that term--Jewish Chrsitian." (11)..
"In fact what one seems to have reflected in this Qumran literature is a Messianic elite retreating or 'separating' into the wilderness as per Isa. 40:3's make a straight way inth eWilderness for our God.'
Though they differ in many detalis, this conclusion has much in common with that of John Allegro who demonstrated many parallels between the Qumran community and the early Chruch, espeically in their view of the Messiah (Dead Sea Scrolls, Pelican, 1956). There is, therefore, no basis for the charge that the early chruch made up any of its Messianich claims.
Clearly there were many diverse vews and many groups: The Essens, the Theraputae, Ebionites. Elkasites, Sadducees, and many more. Jesus fullfilled totally the expectations of many of these groups, as the Elkasties and Ebionites became Christian.
A great deal of the evidence in this section comes form a priceless work of great scholarship The Life And Times of Jesus The Messiah An old 19th century work by Alfred Edersheim; an English Jew who converted to Christianity and became a Cambridge scholar. Edersheim compillied a list of 458 passages which rabbinical authority sites as Messianich. He uses theTargumim, the two Talmuds, The most ancient Midrashim but not the Zohar. Also the uses a work called Yalkut, a collection of 50 of the oldest writtings in rabbinical tradition. Most, but not all of what Edersheim quotes comes from the second century or latter. But he argues that is still an indication of the some ideas floating around in the popular quarters in Christ's time, especially ideas which show up in the NT since we can discount chrsitian influence upon Talmudic Judaism. But the evidence from Qumran and Psuedapigrapha is clearly prior to, or contemporanious with, the time of Jesus.
One of the finest soruces we can produce for Jesus Messianic credentials is the classic work Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. by Alfred Edersheim. Edersheim was trained to be a rabbi, he was a linguistic genius who became a Christian in College. He latter became a professor at both Oxford and Cambrige. I once communicated by email with his great Nephew, who told me many interesting things about his family. The most interesting is that Edersheim ran a ministry to the homeless in his hovel of a house, before he was discovered and made a professor. In the day he worked as minsiter and took in homeless and late and night eaked out his book over the years.
One can now find the text of this work on line Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
Edersheim also wrote a history of the Jewish high preisthood, an article which explains the developments, some of which I speak of above. This can also be found on line.
here is a page about Ederhseim's life.
see all My Messiah Pages on Doxa