MembersWhat to do with Jesus the Jew?

Why is a Jewish Jesus so problematic for Christianity?

By David Lazarus | | Topics: Jesus
Jesus the Jew as depicted in The White Crucifixion.
Photo: Creative Commons

Growing up in Boston in the 1950’s – 60’s this was never a question. We knew that Jesus was a Christian. Even more strange was that Jesus was an Aryan Christian who was out for Jewish blood. We wanted nothing to do with “that man.”

How did a Jew from the Galilee become a Christian, and a Jew-hating one at that? The short answer is the problem of uniqueness.


Christianity is better

All religious traditions like to see themselves as special, unique and in some ways better than others. Christianity, too, wanted to define and establish itself as distinctive from the Jewish religion, which meant separating the person of Jesus from his Jewishness and especially his Judaism. For centuries Christian scholars developed theology that ripped Jesus out of the Jewish culture, traditions and worldview in which he lived and taught.

A Jesus who taught and lived like a Jew, and an early Christian community that looked like a Jewish sect, troubled many Christian scholars. They preferred a Jesus who taught a new and unique doctrine, a religious tradition...

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4 responses to “What to do with Jesus the Jew?”

  1. Clark Gear says:

    Yeshua is clearly completely of the House of Judah of His father David, with that said Judaism and Christianity for the most parts are foreign to Yeshua and His word. Both are an exaggerated response to each’s rejection of Yeshua and one another. Remember it wasn’t the atonement of Yeshua that was the primary rejection but the inclusion of the goodnews shared with the Nations that created the division. Gentiles responded to Jewish/ Israelite evangelism not the other way around. Galatians 1:10 … shows this separation and division that led to later Gentiles re-contextualizing their faith and calling as separate from Israel.
    Rome destroyed the Temple not Christianity, The Hatred without a cause led to fratricide among the Jewish people. Killing one’s King led to killing one another.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around.

  2. Susan says:

    This piece is so right on. I think that people forget that the reason Jesus came was to show the lost sheep of Israel how the Law (or teaching) was meant to be lived. He did not come to do away with the law.

    The Jerusalem Council met to figure out how Gentiles could fit into this Judaism, not the other way around! The 4 things mentioned in Acts 15 are from the Torah are the essentials needed for Gentiles to fellowship with Jews and their Messiah. (And these, some suggest, are just the starting point because all of Torah would be heard as Gentiles listened on Shabbat in the synagogues..Acts 15:19-21.

    • Clark Gear says:

      What you say is correct but is not the end of the discussion between believing Jews and believing Gentiles, have you considered the following and how devastating this was to the unity of the faith?Gal 2:11But when Kefa came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, since he stood condemned, 12because before certain people came from Jacob, he ate with the Gentiles. But when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13And the rest of the Jewish disciples joined him in his hypocrisy, so that even Bar Nabba was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that they did not walk uprightly in accordance with the truth of the good news, I said to Kefa before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live as the Gentiles do, and not as the Jews do, why do you compel the Gentiles to become Jews?…
      18For if I build up again those things which I tore down, I demonstrate that I am a transgressor.

  3. Susan says:

    From an article by IBC paraphrased:

    “Jews did not eat in Gentile homes because the Gentiles ate food forbidden by Torah, but Jews would eat with them in their own homes because purity requirements were kept.

    Do not confuse this with the Galatians passage. When Paul challenged Peter it was not because Peter was living non-Jewishly. He was telling him that he (Peter) lived (was made alive) in the same way Gentiles were– by grace through faith.
    Peter’s apostolic commission was primarily to minister to Jews. This makes the de-Judaizing interpretation of “live like a Jew absurd. (Very similar to Peter’s experience in Acts 10)”

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