“The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes & examines him.“–Proverbs 18:17
What I’m writing here should bother Jews, because Christians don’t merely teach that Jesus was a localized savior to Gentiles, but that He was the Messiah prophesied in Hebrew scripture, preserved & transmitted by Jews. For the most part, they have despised & rejected Him. That’s a serious indictment, so unlike my usual blog tone (where I mix in humor & trite pop culture for entertainment purposes whenever possible), I will do my best to remain serious throughout this one.
To eradicate any basis for being labeled “anti-Semitic”, I will name my opponent AJJ, Anti-Jesus Jew, to distinguish him or her as a subset of Jews in general. I am not against Jews or Judaism or Jewish traditions so long as they glorify God in the process. I am not against anyone who does not understand how Jesus can be one with God as the Son of God, how His death alone could atone for our sins, or how He could have been resurrected from the dead by God. I am against anyone who has studied these issues, & claims that they are lies. Even then, I’m not necessarily against the person per se, just against the person’s fraudulent claims.
Being brought up in a Catholic family, I was never exposed to Jewish opinions on the subject. I’ve been wondering what reason erudite AJJs would offer to defend their rejection of Jesus. Now I know!
In my 2 previous blog entries focusing solely on Isaiah 9 (as a preview to this long one), I showed how AJJs arbitrarily ignore the grammar of certain verses to suit their bias. One justification they offer is that the context of the verse demands the interpretation to harmonize with other passages. My purpose in this essay will be to show that AJJs have no rational basis for their interpretation of those other passages either; hence, I will flush their entire argument down a spiritual sewer.
In this essay I will not address the problems of people who profess to be Christian or who attempt to explain Christianity using fallacious arguments. On some other occasion or in some other forum, I will join Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, & atheists in agreeing that many Christians don’t know a sound argument from a hole in the ground.
Nor will I address spurious claims by AJJs who base their reasoning on hearsay, without specific Bible references, or on other Jewish writers beyond the TNK (i.e., the OT). The Talmud & Jewish sages may bear educational, informative writings, but they do not claim to contain revelations from God, & that is the core issue I’m discussing here. Today our primary evidence for who Jesus is & what He did comes from historical documents containing revelations from God, communicated by otherwise-ordinary people like you & me (not much different in style from the TNK writings).
Again, this essay is not an argument for Christianity, nor against Judaism; it’s a rebuttal of arguments used by AJJs against Christianity. My theme throughout will be not merely “Here’s my defense of what I believe” or “My interpretation is just as valid as an AJJ’s”, but will be “My Christian theism is correct & rationally defensible, whereas AJJs are incorrect & irrational.” It’s a war, & I intend to figuratively slay my dragon-opponent, not find some harmonious middle-ground. In fact I not only plan to slay this dragon, but I want readers to conclude that I thrust in my “dagger” so far that “the haft also went in after the blade” (Judges 3:21-2). In this respect, if you are an AJJ, “I have a message from God unto thee.”
The inspiration & choice of this essay’s pun-title came from an August 2011 E-mail by the Hebron community spokesman, David Wilder. Ironically, his statements reflecting how AJJs feel about Christians match these 3 definitions of “wild”:
“5. Lacking regular order or arrangement; disarranged”
“6. Full of, marked by, or suggestive of strong, uncontrolled emotion”
“11. Based on little or no evidence or probability; unfounded”
Aside from Wilder’s E-mail, the 40 AJJ arguments (AJJAs) I’m listing below are either exact quotations or compilations/redactions based on these AJJ sources:
- “You Are My Witnesses (Is. 43:10): The Traditional Jewish Response to Christian Missionaries” by Yisroel C. Blumenthal (PDF available online at Jews for Judaism)
- “Why Jews Don’t Believe In Jesus: Reason 8 of 26” by Asher Norman
- “Why Jews Don’t Believe In Jesus” by Rabbi Shraga Simmons (including more than 100 comments by AJJs in support of Simmons)
- “The Real Messiah? A Jewish Response to Missionaries” by Aryeh Kaplan (PDF available online at Jews for Judaism)
- “The Disputation of Barcelona (1263): the Hebrew Report of Moshe Ben Nachman” by Ramban himself (translated into English by an AJJ)
- “Mashiach: The Messiah” on Judaism 101 by Tracey R. Rich
- “Isaiah 53: The Suffering Servant” by Marshall Roth
- “Almah, virgin and parthenos” by Gerald Sigal
After having read these documents, I could discern the consensus of reasoning. If, however, you are aware of any valid arguments not addressed below by me, feel free to post a comment.
When discussing specific Hebrew words, I’ll utilize my own system of 22 English symbols (which I chose for working with ancient Hebrew seal inscriptions):
A B G D E U Z H @ Y K L M N C O P $ Q R S T
SECTION I OF IV: ONE GOD, A SINGLE TRINITY
AJJA #1) “God is one & cannot be divided, multiplied, added, or subtracted; therefore the Christian Trinity concept is heretical. Jesus was a blasphemer, & Christians are idolaters.“
The primary basis AJJs use to support this statement is “The Shema” (named after the opening word in Hebrew of Deuteronomy 6:4): “Hear, O Israel: The LORD, our God, the LORD is one.” The key words here are “LORD” (YEVE; hereafter “HaShem” out of respect for this Jewish tradition), “[our] God” (ALEY[NU]), & “one” (AHD).
Is “one” always only a single whole thing from God’s perspective?
Christians, like Jews, believe there is only one God … but we believe the One God has been revealed to us in 3 persons, the Father (supreme authority), the Son (spokesman), & the Spirit (inspirational force). This is not a contradiction claiming that 1=3 or 3=1 because when the 3 Persons are mentioned, it’s not in the same context as saying there’s only 1 Person; or when it refers to 1 God, it doesn’t also say there are 3 Gods in the same context. A philosophical contradiction only occurs when something is said to be not-something at the same time in the same context.
Aristotle articulated emergence in his famous saying that the whole is distinct from (or greater than) the sum of its parts (“Metaphysics” book 8, section 1045a, lines 8-10).
A classic modern example is an airplane: none of its individual parts is capable of flight. Though all analogies break down eventually, you could think of a trinitarian single-thing-that-flies, or “flyer” in terms of its physical parts, its human pilot, or its organization. Then you could say that a Boeing 747 flew me to Israel, or Captain X flew me to Israel, or El Al Airline flew me to Israel. You could translate this into an equivalent Shema, “Captain X, our flyer, Captain X is one,” or “This Boeing 747, our flyer, this Boeing 747 is one,” or “El Al, our flyer, this El Al is one.”
So I can dispel this AJJA from several angles using TNK texts about God:
1) Poetic angle: There was “one” ancient nation named Israel, yet it was comprised of multiple (originally 12) tribes. Judges 20:1 equates all the men of Israel as “one” (AHD) man. In Ezekiel 23, God poetically analogizes the kingdoms of Israel & Judah as 2 harlots, though obviously they were comprised of multiple people. (Later in my Section III, we’ll see AJJs rely on this concept for interpreting a single figurative man as the Jewish nation.)
2) Hermeneutical angle: 6:4 doesn’t say “our God is only one” (some AJJs arbitrarily insert the word “only”); it says HaShem, our God, is one HaShem. This is equivalent to me saying that Jesus, the Christian God, is one Jesus. As with my airplane example, this interpretation doesn’t rule out the possibility that a Holy Spirit can exist in a different context for a different divine purpose, while still representing the same unified God.
3) Theological angle: Coincidentally while drafting this essay, I began a relationship with a nice Jewish bachelorette. We are 2 independent chunks of flesh. As improbable as it may be, if some day we marry, thereafter we will still be seen by other people as 2 pieces of flesh, but from God’s perspective, we will be a single flesh per Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father & his mother, & shall cleave unto his wife; & they shall be one (AHD) flesh.” Unlike Judges 20:1 where Israel is described poetically “as one man” (KAIS AHD instead of AIS AHD, the Kaf prefix creates the figure-of-speech simile), Genesis 2:24 says the 2 people (man & his wife) “are one” using the same Hebrew grammar that Deuteronomy 6:4 uses to say that HaShem is one. Jesus employed this same theological premise when saying “I & My Father are one” (John 10:30). It stays consistent with a unified, multi-Person deity.
4) Physical angle: Multiple passages describe God in time-based circumstances with physical attributes (see AJJA #15 below for references). Genesis 1:1 states that “God” (ALEYM) created everything. 1:2 states that “God’s Spirit” (RUH ALEYM) interacted with [physical, time-captive] waters. If God cannot be divided, why didn’t 1:2 simply state that “God” interacted with the waters as 1:1 said God created? Some Hebrew scholars translate RUH ALEYM as “Divine Presence”, which is a legitimate translation; however, 6:3 again refers to God’s Spirit (RUHY = “My Spirit” of the same HaShem as in Deuteronomy 6:4) in a dynamic action with descendants of Adam (not just primordial waters). Again, if God is always a single One in a sense where It can never be divided or multiplied into distinct/distinguishable attributes or constituent Parts/Persons, why didn’t the quotation say “I” will not always strive with [physical, time-captive] Adam? Furthermore, 3:8 records “God’s sound” literally walking in the garden. (Note that some AJJs translate QUL as “sound” in 3:8, but “voice” is equally valid as in 3:17.) Same argument: If God cannot be divided or multiplied, why didn’t Genesis simply say Adam & Eve heard “God” walking in the [physical, time-captive] garden? So here in the early chapters of the Torah we have clear evidence for at least 2 Persons of God: the Spirit & the Spokesman.
5) Scientific angle: Is it not curious that Genesis 1:1 records God creating a world defined by 3 parameters: time (“In the beginning”), space (“the Heavens”), & matter (“the Earth”)? Is it not curious that each of these 3 things is described/defined scientifically in terms of 3 parameters: past/present/future for Time, length/width/height for Space, & solid/liquid/gas for Matter? Looks like the consistent trademark of a Master Craftsman to me.
Conclusion from Section I: My Christian interpretation of God as a Trinity is defensible from multiple perspectives, whereas the AJJ cannot account for God being divided into an entity named HaShem with a distinct Spirit & distinct voice that at times act together with or apart from HaShem (or Elohim or Adonai or El Shaddai). This revelation of God in the Hebrew TNK/OT continues consistently in the Christian Greek NT; it even harmonizes with empirical science & secular metaphysics.
Since AJJs cannot account for these descriptions in a logically consistent manner, AJJs are wrong, & my Christian position withstands this test.
Deeper dagger thrust: The ALEYM of Genesis 1:1 is a plural word. The common interpretation of this is that it represents a single God’s greatness or majesty; however, as we’ve seen God being revealed in the Torah to be a Trinity, there’s no theological problem interpreting this plural word for God as that of 3 majestic Persons, which at times are described as being “one”.
SECTION II OF IV: DUAL MESSIANIC ROLES/PURPOSES
We saw in Section I via multiple TNK passages that the AJJ’s concept of a one-Person deity does not comport with Scripture & must be rejected. Now it’s not their limited-view of God vs. the Christian full-view of God; it’s their messiah vs. the Christian Messiah. Here I’ll tackle 2 closely related arguments:
AJJA #2) “Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies for the end-of-time messianic kingdom, therefore could not have been the real Messiah. From a Jewish perspective, the messiah is identified by his tangible acts, and promises to finish the job in the future aren’t going to convince us.“
This is rather easy to dispel because even the AJJ’s interpretation of the messianic kingdom requires an extended period of time for events to complete before Jews can identify him:
“Event A) Build another temple & re-establish worship there (Isaiah 2:2-3; Jeremiah 33:18; Ezekiel 37:26-8; Micah 4:1).”
“Event B) Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 11:11-2; 27:12-3; 43:5-6; Jeremiah 23:8; 30:3).”
“Event C) Usher in an era of world peace, ending all hatred, oppression, suffering & disease, by establishing a government in Israel that will be the center of all world government for Jews & Gentiles (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:10; 42:1; Jeremiah 33:15; Micah 4:3).”
“Event D) Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one (Isaiah 11:9; 40:5; Zephaniah 3:9; Jeremiah 31:33; Zechariah 14:9).”
(Sidebar: AJJs can’t resist referring to humanity as “one”, consisting of multiple persons, thereby demonstrating they understand the basic Trinity concept, & profess it to be legitimate when applied to humans made in the image of God!)
None of those prophecies were foretold to happen overnight, nor could they without multiple miracles, & elsewhere AJJs argue that their messiah will be an ordinary human, not a miracle-worker like Jesus (see AJJA #15 below). For example, to fulfill B, Jewish leaders will first need to agree upon who qualifies as a Jew, then identify them, locate them, & transport them. Though Zechariah 14:11 assures the safety of Jerusalem’s residents, the overwhelming theme of that chapter reference in D is one of war, slavery, & plagues, thereby delaying events described in C for an indeterminate period.
There could be a time when some Jews will point to a human & assert that he’s the messiah because of certain tasks he has accomplished (e.g., the building of a temple on the Temple Mount), but other Jews will point to things remaining to be accomplished (e.g., the end of disease & sin; see also AJJA #34 below). Days may turn into weeks, into months, into years, into decades, into centuries, or even millennia. How can I argue this with confidence? Because it has already happened once!
The prophecy of another temple in Ezekiel 37 was given at a time prior to the rebuilding of the 2nd temple after Jews returned from the Babylonian exile. Jews flocked to it, & it stood in use for several centuries till being destroyed by Romans. So even if another temple were to be rebuilt in our 21st century through the leadership of one man, it would in no way guarantee that he is the real Messiah. Scripture doesn’t specify a limit to the number of temples that will be built/destroyed prior to the final one!
How will anyone know if someone in China hates people in America? Who could definitively say that nobody in Africa has an asymptomatic disease? Though modern technology could help a human messiah in ways never imagined by ancient people, only God knows each person in the intimate, internal way required by the prophecies (“[M]an looketh on the outward appearance, but HaShem looketh on the heart“–1Samuel 16:7; “I HaShem search the heart…“–Jeremiah 17:10); therefore the real Messiah must be divine in some respect, & must be capable of speaking authoritatively on behalf of God to inform us that the prophecies have been fulfilled.
Jesus qualifies for this role after returning in glory (Daniel 7:13-4). Christianity comports with the TNK on this issue, whereas the AJJ interpretation poses a logical inconsistency, requiring contradictory circumstances (e.g., an ordinary human who can know whether all people are perpetually at peace).
AJJA #3) “In the Bible no concept of a second coming exists.“
Daniel 9:25-6 prophesies that “Messiah the Prince” will appear & “be cut off“, but other passages (including some from other prophets) such as Daniel 7:14 assure us that the Messianic kingdom will be everlasting. If Jesus is the Messiah with a 2-fold mission on Earth, this makes sense. The AJJ interpretation of 9:25-6, however, is that the referenced messiah was an ordinary anointed person, not the Jewish Messiah. This interpretation seems viable when taken in isolation from the rest of Scripture, so let’s test it.
“Of the increase of his government & peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, & upon his kingdom, to order it, & to establish it with judgment & with justice from henceforth even for ever.“–Isaiah 9:7
Sounds like the messianic kingdom, doesn’t it? Too bad it doesn’t tell us the name of this eternal governor/peacemaker … oh, wait a minute … the preceding verse actually gives us several of His names including Mighty God, Everlasting Father, & Peace Prince! It’s not that AJJs aren’t aware of the Isaiah 9 prophecy; it’s that they deliberately mistranslate it to suit their erroneous interpretation. But that’s not the only problem for AJJs on this issue.
The Messiah’s appearance in Daniel 7:13 on “clouds of heaven” receiving “dominion, & glory, & a kingdom” directly from “the Ancient of days” is completely opposite that of Zechariah 9:9, where He appears “lowly, & riding upon an ass, & upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” Jesus already fulfilled this latter prophecy, commemorated annually by Catholics during their Palm Sunday celebration.
It should strike you, my readers, as somewhat odd that all but one of the AJJ sources I read even mention this problem. At least Aryeh Kaplan mentioned it (on p. 43 of the “The Real Messiah?” book in “The Real Messiah” chapter):
“The Talmud was aware of this CONTRADICTION, and answered it by stating that there are two basic ways that the Messianic age can commence. If we are worthy of miracles, it will indeed be miraculous. If we are not, the Messianic Age will arrive in a natural manner (Sanhedrin 98a, OrHaChaim on Num. 24:17).”
I emphasized “CONTRADICTION” because the Holy Bible does not contain any philosophical, theological, or metaphysical contradictions (at least not if you’re a rational Christian)! If it were to contain a single contradiction (in the strict sense as I defined earlier), then it would be a worthless pile of words in its entirety (as I explained in my blog article about Islam, “Muhammad the False Prophet, Jesus the True King”).
Conclusion from Section II: Though AJJs don’t admit it or don’t understand it, their messianic beliefs require an extended period of multiple occasions & a Messiah with divine attributes per Isaiah 9 & Daniel 9. Jesus fits this description without posing a contradiction, so the AJJ arguments fail.
Since AJJs cannot account for these passages in a logically consistent manner, AJJs are wrong, & my Christian position withstands the test.
Deeper dagger thrust: AJJs figuratively shoot themselves in the foot by asserting that Jesus was a false messiah, because the 2nd temple has been destroyed, & therefore the prophecy given in Haggai 2:9 was left unfulfilled. However, if Jesus really was the Messiah, the Prince of [true] Peace, it was fulfilled when He taught there (Matthew 21:23; 26:55; Mark 12:35; 14:49; Luke 19:47; 20:1; 21:37-8; John 7:14,28; 8:2,20; 18:20).
SECTION III OF IV: ISAIAH 53, THREE ACTORS & THREE AJJ FAILURES
We saw in Section II via Daniel that the AJJ’s fallacious, ordinary-human messiah must be rejected. Now it’s not their messiah vs. the Christian Messiah; it’s themselves (Jewish people) vs. the Christian Messiah.
AJJA #4) “The so-called Suffering Servant prophecy of Isaiah 53 is not about the Messiah suffering on behalf of sinners to atone for them; it’s about the Jews who’ve suffered at the hands of Christians.“
When I first read this argument, it shocked me. Even now I have a hard time believing any Jew would assert this, so for posterity, here are 2 exact quotations by AJJs so I won’t be accused of maligning or misrepresenting their position:
“Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews (‘Israel’) are regarded as one unit.” [Note by G.M. Grena: AJJs can’t get away from the many=one Trinity concept, can they?!?!] “Throughout Jewish scripture, Israel is repeatedly called, in the singular, the ‘Servant of God’ (see Isaiah 43:8). When read correctly, Isaiah 53 clearly refers to the Jewish people being ‘bruised, crushed and as sheep brought to slaughter’ at the hands of the nations of the world. These descriptions are used throughout Jewish scripture to graphically describe the suffering of the Jewish people. Isaiah 53 concludes that when the Jewish people are redeemed, the nations will recognize and accept responsibility for the inordinate suffering and death of the Jews.“–Rabbi Shraga Simmons
“[Isaiah 53:9] is speaking of the entire Jewish people. A careful reading of the entire passage may well convince you that it is speaking of the Six Million Jews killed by Hitler. … According to the commentators who contend that the ‘Suffering Servant’ [of Isaiah 53:11] is the entire Jewish people it is not very far fetched to say that the prophet is speaking of the Six Million who died for the sins of mankind.“–Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
Isaiah 53 centers around 3 actors; in order of appearance, they are:
- we/our/us/”my people”
- he/him/his (a.k.a., the “suffering servant”)
There is also a controversial “they” or “them” (53:8), which I’ll discuss below.
Christians interpret actor #1 as Isaiah foreseeing 1st-century Jews & other people at the Crucifixion in the shallow/temporal context, extending to all humans in the deep/spiritual context. Christians interpret actor #3 as Jesus Christ in His role as our vicarious sacrifice for our eternal salvation, which had been typified throughout the Hebrew Scripture via animal sacrifices, the initial one being killed by God in Genesis 3:21 (rather than killing Adam & Eve for their sin, God “covered” them with skins of animals killed in their stead). Though Isaiah’s book covers many topics, I see the overall subject as Jews (representing all humans) being warned of impending punishment for their evil ways, yet God provides a method by which everyone can legally be saved in the end. God does not judge capriciously.
AJJs interpret actor #1 as Gentiles (non-Jews), where Isaiah imagines the guilty reaction of Gentiles to their atrocities against Jews, whom AJJs interpret as the innocent actor #3 (“the Jew” or Israel/Jacob as a nation).
How can we know for certain who the speaker & servant really are? Isaiah 1:18 records HaShem extending an invitation: “Come now, & let us reason together…” The AJJ’s interpretation fails in three fallacious ways.
First failure: sudden switches (a logical fallacy named Special Pleading).
The AJJ’s interpretation only works for the first 10 verses, so they arbitrarily switch roles for the last 2 verses, & instead of Gentiles speaking, they believe it’s God suddenly speaking. For Christians, this switch is unnecessary; Isaiah the writer remains the prophetic reporter throughout.
AJJs also have to make an awkward, arbitrary switch in verse 8 from a singular actor #3 (“he”) to a plural one (“they”), then immediately back to a singular one in verse 9. Again, the Christian interpretation maintains a consistent singular actor #3.
Second failure: identity crises (a logical fallacy named Hasty Generalization).
AJJS disagree on actor #1, alternately ascribed to world leaders, Nazis, popes, Christians, Palestinians, or any Gentiles (non-Jews); if anyone afflicts/tortures/kills Jews, whichever group they can be associated with becomes actor #1, no matter how misrepresentative that person is of the group. It’s a form of bigotry, unjust stereotyping.
Historically, most Jews have not suffered affliction, but have lived ordinary lives like other ethnic groups (AJJs admit that Nazis accrued wealth stolen from Jews after killing them). Historically, most Gentiles have not afflicted/killed Jews; in America we’ve respected them & highly valued their contributions to society as doctors, lawyers, & entertainers. Historically, most Germans have not afflicted/killed Jews; not to minimize the tragic loss of life during the Holocaust, but Nazi Germany only lasted about 1 decade out of many centuries. Historically, most world leaders have not afflicted/killed Jews; in fact world leaders joined forces to defeat Hitler. And out of more than 250 Catholic popes, far fewer than 125 have ever condoned the torture/death of Jews; altogether only about 50 ruled between the 15th-18 centuries during the Inquisition. So the “bad guy” in the AJJ’s interpretation (actor #1) lacks definition.
Also actor #3 lacks clarity. Some AJJS claim it’s Israel (including the highly esteemed Rabbi Nachmanides/Ramban at the Disputation of Barcelona in AD 1263), but it would have to be Jews as a subset of Israel because some world leaders can trace their lineage through the “lost tribes” of Israel (Hosea 1:10; Ezekiel 37:16-22; LXX 2Esdras 13:39-47 & 1Maccabees 12:20-21), so this contradicts the AJJs who claim that world leaders comprise actor #1. Even some Nazis were ethnically Jewish.
Furthermore, while other passages in Isaiah refer to Israel as a servant, Israel is surely not God’s only servant, so actor #3 is not necessarily Israel:
““And the LORD said, ‘Like as My servant Isaiah hath walked naked & barefoot three years…’“–20:3
““I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah…“–22:20
““I will defend this city to save it for My own sake, & for the sake of My servant David.“–37:35
(Note that God distinguishes other people as “My servant” in other books.)
Here is Marshall Roth’s AJJ-biased translation with the proposed actors inserted in brackets by me (Roth irrationally assigns ambiguous “world leaders” to actor #1 & a misrepresentative Israel to actor #3, but that is so untenable for the aforementioned reasons that I felt obligated to substitute Nazis & “the Jew” to make it seem as plausible as possible, lest I be accused of creating a strawman fallacy; nonetheless, feel free to consistently substitute Roth’s or any non-Christian’s set of actors for the pronouns, & it will be just as easy for me to refute):
“Who would believe what we Nazis have heard! For whom has the arm of God been revealed! The Jew formerly grew like a sapling or a root from dry ground; the Jew had neither form nor beauty. Nazis saw the Jew, but without a desirable appearance. The Jew was despised and rejected of Nazis, a man of pains and accustomed to sickness. As one from whom Nazis would hide their faces, the Jew was despised, and we Nazis had no regard for the Jew. Indeed, the Jew bore our Nazi illnesses and carried Nazi pains – but Nazis regarded the Jew as diseased, stricken by God and afflicted. The Jew was wounded as a result of Nazi transgressions, and crushed as a result of Nazi iniquities. The chastisement upon the Jew was for Nazi benefit; and through the Jew’s wounds, Nazis were healed. Nazis have all strayed like sheep, each Nazi turning his own way, and God inflicted upon the Jew the iniquity of all Nazis. The Jew was persecuted and afflicted, but the Jew did not open his mouth. Like a sheep being led to the slaughter or a lamb that is silent before her shearers, the Jew did not open his mouth. The Jew was released from captivity and judgment; who could have imagined such a generation? For the Jew” [singular] “was removed from the land of the living; because of Nazis’ sin, Jews” [plural] “were afflicted. The Jew” [singular] “submitted his grave to evil people; and the wealthy submitted to the Jew’s executions, for committing no crime, and with no deceit in the Jew’s mouth. God desired to oppress the Jew and God afflicted the Jew. If the Jew’s soul would acknowledge guilt, the Jew would see offspring and live long days, and God’s purpose would succeed in the Jew’s hand. The Jew would see the purpose and be satisfied with his soul’s distress. With the Jew’s knowledge, the Jew will cause the masses to be righteous; and the Jew will bear their sins.” [new speaker] “Therefore, I, God, will assign the Jew a portion in public and the Jew will divide the mighty as spoils – in return for having poured out the Jew’s soul for death and being counted among the wicked, for the Jew bore the sin of the many, and prayed for the wicked.”
Third failure: character mismatches (a logical fallacy named Wishful Thinking).
When facing torment & death, do history records show that “the Jew did not open his mouth” (i.e., did not protest in any way)?
According to section “III. The 1929 Riots” in Noam Arnon’s article on the history of Hebron (brought to my attention by David Wilder, thank you, sir): “The Jews pleaded for mercy, wailing and beseeching at the top of their lungs. The Arab monsters responded by … mercilessly tormenting and butchering old people, babies, women and children.”
According to #30 on The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s “36 Questions About the Holocaust”: “[M]any [Jews] engaged in armed resistance against the Nazis … there were many ghetto revolts in which Jews fought against the Nazis.” (See also “Jewish Resistance to the Nazi Genocide” at the Jewish Virtual Library.)
According to the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, approximately 30,000 Jews fought against the Nazis in a formal, organized manner. “These Jews were responsible for blowing up thousands of armored convoys and thwarting the Nazi war machine in countless ways.” We have no way of knowing how many Jews fought during their final moments inside the gas chambers. If AJJs are correct, they were fighting against God (as I’ll demonstrate below).
But AJJs are not correct, because sheep don’t fight “in a formal, organized manner” while being led to the slaughter. According to the Vilna Partisan Manifesto, “We will not offer our heads to the butcher like sheep. Jews defend yourselves with arms!” (p. 15 “Resistance during the Holocaust” by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, published after 1996).
If an AJJ argues that 30,000 rebels were only a small subset of the 6,000,000 that were killed, then they need to be consistent & recognize that those 6,000,000 were a small subset of all Jews throughout history, & therefore this cannot be the correct interpretation of Isiaiah 53. But irrational people are seldom consistent.
AJJs imagine Isaiah foretelling how Gentiles will react in the future when they realize how badly they’ve treated Jews. If so, then it’s completely unrelated to the context of God criticizing Jews in chapter 52 where 4 times the context is clearly located in Zion, 4 times Jerusalem is named, & 3 times God refers to the Jews as “My people”. Nowhere does Isaiah imagine speaking on behalf of Gentiles alone. Throughout Isaiah, God primarily addresses the problem of recalcitrant, faithless, idolatrous, evil Jews, hoping they will repent; if not, their once-great kingdom would disintegrate. And it did!
AJJs ignore the Jews’ problem God addresses in 52, then in 53 suddenly imagine a small subset of modern Jews as a victim of a small subset of Gentiles, rather than all Jews learning after-the-fact why God allowed them to be conquered, & Zion/Jerusalem destroyed. They rejected God during Isaiah’s time, & centuries later they rejected Jesus.
I can’t overemphasize this point: Have Jews truly been “innocent” victims, “committing no crime, & with no deceit in [their] mouth” while suffering historically at the hands of “evil” Gentiles? Let’s look at how God views Israel & the Jews as reported unequivocally by Isaiah:
“I have nourished & brought up children, & they have rebelled against Me. The ox knoweth his owner, & the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters, they have forsaken HaShem.“–1:2-4
“For Jerusalem is ruined, & Judah is fallen: because their tongue & their doings are against HaShem.“–3:8
“[T]his people draw near Me with their mouth, & with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me…“–29:13
“Who gave Jacob for a spoil, & Israel to the robbers? Did not HaShem, He against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in His ways, neither were they obedient unto His law.“–42:24
“[S]how My people their transgression, & the house of Jacob their sins.“–58:1
Obviously if Israel & Judah had been in harmony with God’s ways, God would have had no cause to complain against them like this, then use Assyrians & Babylonians to conquer them, & lead them into captivity. How can anyone imagine such a sinful, guilty people (as we all are) being characterized as “committing no crime, and with no deceit in [their] mouth“?
It is also against God’s character to “desire” to afflict any creature, especially humans:
“‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me?’ saith HaShem. ‘I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, & the fat of fed beasts; & I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he- goats.’“–Isaiah 1:11
“For Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it. Thou delightest not in burnt offering.“–Psalms 51:16
“‘I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth,’ saith the Lord HaShem.“–Ezekiel 18:32
“As I live, saith the Lord HaShem, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked…“–Ezekiel 33:11
Of course, if God has no pleasure in the death of animals or the wicked (such as the House of Israel in the context of 33:11), certainly God would not be pleased by the death of non-wicked people (assuming there are any, which there are not; AJJs arrogantly assume God owes them an overall reward for their occasional good deeds).
It is heretical to assert that “God desired to oppress the Jew,” especially in the context of the Inquisition & Holocaust. AJJs are literally saying that God desired the Catholics & Nazis to torture & kill Jews. How then can any Jew blame any Gentiles for atrocities against the Jews? It’s one thing for a righteous God to punish a sinful nation such as Israel & Judah; it’s another thing to assert that God desired to do it. Parents don’t desire to afflict their children, but a responsible parent must discipline the child (Proverbs 22:15; 23:13; 29:15), & would gladly give his/her own life to save the life of their child. Absalom deserved to die for his rebellion, yet how did God’s anointed king, David, react to the news of his death?
“O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! If only I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!“–2Samuel 18:33
Here is the same AJJ-biased translation using actors proposed from the Christian interpretation (bear in mind that this prophecy focuses on the horrific crucifixion of Jesus, not on the inspirational delivery of His beatitudes speech, nor on His vindictive resurrection, nor on His glorious future return):
“Who would believe what we people have heard! For whom has the arm of God been revealed! Jesus formerly grew like a sapling or a root from dry ground; Jesus had neither form nor beauty. People saw Jesus, but without a desirable appearance. Jesus was despised and rejected of people, a man of pains and accustomed to sickness. As one from whom people would hide their faces, Jesus was despised, and people had no regard for Jesus. Indeed, Jesus bore our illnesses and carried our pains – but people regarded Jesus as diseased, stricken by God and afflicted. Jesus was wounded as a result of people’s transgressions, and crushed as a result of people’s iniquities. The chastisement upon Jesus was for people’s benefit; and through Jesus’ wounds, people were healed. People have all strayed like sheep, each of us turning his own way, and God inflicted upon Jesus the iniquity of all people. Jesus was persecuted and afflicted, but Jesus did not open His mouth. Like a sheep being led to the slaughter or a lamb that is silent before her shearers, Jesus did not open His mouth. Jesus was released from captivity and judgment; who could have imagined such a generation? For Jesus was removed from the land of the living; because of my people’s sin, they were afflicted. Jesus submitted his grave to evil people; and the Wealthy submitted to Jesus’ executions, for committing no crime, and with no deceit in Jesus’ mouth. God desired to oppress Jesus and God afflicted Jesus. If Jesus’ soul would acknowledge guilt, Jesus would see offspring and live long days, and God’s purpose would succeed in Jesus’ hand. Jesus would see the purpose and be satisfied with Jesus’ soul’s distress. With Jesus’ knowledge, Jesus will cause the masses to be righteous; and Jesus will bear their sins. Therefore I, Isaiah will assign Jesus a portion in public and Jesus will divide the mighty as spoils – in return for having poured out Jesus’ soul for death and being counted among the wicked, for Jesus bore the sin of the many, and prayed for the wicked.”
(Note on Roth’s translation of plural “executions” instead of singular “death” in verse 9: Jesus, the eternally wealthy One, indeed submitted to multiple executions in the form of crucifixion & stabbing. If AJJs insist that the plural word for “executions” must imply multiple persons dying multiple deaths, then I would ask them to be consistent & interpret ALEYM in Genesis 1:1 as a multiple-person God. Jesus’ death here is arguably the greatest, most important death, so if ALEYM can be translated as a single great God, I don’t see any reason why the same rationale couldn’t apply to His “Death” since it atoned for “the many”.)
Again, this is not the way I would translate Isaiah 53, but it shows that even an AJJ-biased translation can make sense from a Christian perspective.
AJJs rely upon a theological contradiction to support their interpretation of chapter 53: On the one hand they believe that Gentiles (world leaders, Arabs, Christians, &/or Nazis) have afflicted them, while on the other hand verse 10 tells us plainly that God is the one afflicting the servant, & that God desired to do so. This “desire” is such a crucial point. Verse 10 is unambiguous in translations from an AJJ bias as well as a Christian one:
“God [HaShem] desired to oppress him and He afflicted him.”
“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; He hath put him to grief.”
Atonement is God’s way of temporarily sparing humans from what they deserve, because God wants something from humans that makes the sacrifice worthwhile.
In a Christian context, this interpretation of Isaiah 53 harmonizes with Scripture since we already have a record in Genesis 3:21 of God killing an animal for Adam & Eve’s sake because of their sin. We also have a record in Genesis 22 of God rewarding Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac, yet restraining him from doing so. And we have the extensive list of required animal sacrifices throughout the other 4 Torah books.
What we do not have is any precedent for the AJJ context. We do not have a record of God desiring Adam to kill Eve (or vice versa), though they both deserved to die. We do not have a record of God allowing Abraham to kill Isaac & blessing him for it. We do not have a record of God desiring Gentiles to kill “innocent” Israelites in the tabernacle or the first temple (note that the people HaShem ordered to be killed in Ezekiel 9 were against God; those who were on God’s side were marked & spared).
When you truly love somebody else, it would please you to make the ultimate sacrifice for them (as a decent husband would for his wife & children). That’s what God did for us, for the Jews, not to us, not to the Jews. AJJs insist that God desired to oppress & afflict Jews in the same context as a Nazi death camp, completely counter to what God revealed to us in Ezekiel 18:32. While throughout the Bible God allows us to be tested as gold gets refined by fire, nowhere in the Bible is there a suggestion that God desires to oppress or afflict anyone other than this special Servant.
AJJA #5) “The notion of an innocent, divine or semi-divine being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in Jewish thought. God never told the Jewish people to believe in the Messiah for salvation. Christians can’t find a verse which states that worship of the Messiah can achieve atonement.“
God never told the Jewish people to build & worship a golden calf, but they did it anyway. Which demonstrates allegiance with God, choosing to do something wrong without being told, or choosing to do something right without being told? I just showed that the Christian interpretation of Isaiah 53 is the only sensible one: Jesus, our Messiah, atoned for our sins. I agree, though, that it’s foreign to “[anti-Jesus] Jewish thought”!
AJJA #6) “We must obtain forgiveness from those we have wronged, and receive it by our own efforts, not through the vicarious act of another.“
The person making this claim apparently has no understanding of the extensive animal sacrifices recorded throughout Leviticus. Repentance can only apply to sins we know about. (If you’re not aware of any sins, why would you repent?) Yet how many times have we repented, then repeated the same mistake? Repentance can be pragmatic for society (relationships between people), but as persistent sinners, we need something else to legally repair our relationship with God, otherwise we become presumptuous (e.g., “God will forgive me, so why should I bother being obedient?”). If repentance alone were an adequate cure-all (from a judicial perspective), the majority of Leviticus becomes irrelevant, as does the Wilderness Tabernacle & Solomon’s Temple (which were types foreshadowing Jesus). Christians look beyond the shallow temporal aspect of animal sacrifices to a deep eternal message God is teaching us. I’ll cover this subject even deeper in AJJA #33.
AJJA #7) “Jesus obviously did not save us from our sins because there is so much sinning in the world still today. If Jesus was God, what restricted him from convincingly redeeming the world from its woes?“
This person doesn’t understand what the word “redeem” means; it’s an exchange, not a change. If you’ve ever used paper currency to purchase something in a store, you understand what redemption means; it’s a legal transaction between 2 parties. Christianity doesn’t claim an end to sin; it claims a judicial act that figuratively breaks down a legal barrier between God & humans, thereby granting us true spiritual peace knowing we’ll have eternal life with God. The payment Jesus made was a legal transaction that will apply to each of us on Judgment Day. We’re temporarily forgiven & allowed to live freely now, but we’ll eventually die (this concept was typified by 2 goats in Leviticus 16:7-10; one was killed, the other was allowed to wander in the wilderness till it died naturally). What God ultimately wants is figurative gold tried in fire, literal faithfulness, not blood. On Judgment Day, we will exchange this faithfulness in the Messiah for eternal life (Zechariah 3:1-4).
AJJA #8) “Why would God want to sacrifice his son?“
God wants something that can’t be created (voluntarily faithful creatures, not robots), but the first humans were unfaithful, & caused legal consequences for themselves & their descendants. According to the common Christian interpretation of Isaiah 53 I articulated above, God considered it worthwhile to make the ultimate sacrifice to rescue us from our legal predicament. Jesus, by becoming kindred with humanity, accomplished this task similar to the way Boaz redeemed Ruth’s dead husband’s inheritance (Ruth 4; the literal events recorded therein prophetically foreshadowed what Jesus would do).
AJJA #9) “There is no Torah Law that makes man a Valid sacrifice. This means that Jesus was not Kosher for sacrifice.“
Isn’t God kosher?!?! Seriously. Was Isaac kosher in Genesis 22:2? Christians interpret the Torah laws as shallow temporal acts teaching deep eternal truths that harmonize extremely well with Isaiah 53. Guilty people must pay for their crimes, & Jesus is our financial Instrument. The sacrifices recorded in Leviticus were adequate at the time they occurred, but we continue sinning every day (on some level) until we die. We’re not just sinners because we sin; we sin because we’re sinners. It pleased God when Jesus chose to be our Sacrifice, to the same extent that it displeased God when Adam chose to be unfaithful.
Conclusion from Section III: AJJs cannot identify the actors in Isaiah 53 without resorting to logical fallacies with nonsensical claims, & attributing contradictory attributes to God (e.g., claiming to not desire any human deaths at any time, but desiring deaths of Jews at the hands of Inquisitors & Nazis). Even with a skewed translation, the elegant Christian interpretation of this passage remains logically consistent, & harmonizes with the rest of the TNK.
Since AJJs cannot account for this holy Scripture in a logically consistent manner, AJJs are wrong, & my Christian position withstands the test.
Deeper dagger thrust: Genesis 22:8 records Abraham saying unwittingly but prophetically, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”
SECTION IV OF IV: FURTHER FALLACIOUS AJJ ARGUMENTS
Herein I will refute many of the other misinterpretations/misunderstandings of AJJs pertaining to Jesus, but will not defend any arguments of AJJs against Christians (i.e., Catholics & Protestants who uphold erroneous interpretations of the Bible). As you read these, bear in mind that Sections I-III already destroyed the AJJs’ foundation. These 31 remaining AJJAs bulldoze the building.
AJJA #10) “God would not pray to God if they are the same person, so since Jesus prayed to God (John 17), Jesus cannot be God.“
God created humans in God’s image, & humans are capable of talking to themselves (our ears are functionally distinct from our mouths), so there’s no problem with God the Son praying to God the Father. I don’t claim to fully understand the nature of God, or the 3 Persons of God who have been revealed to us; I just know there’s no logical problem with them intercommunicating. By analogy, an Ephraimite could speak to Reubenites, Gadites, & Manassites, yet they were all one Israel (Joshua 1:12; 22:1).
AJJA #11) “Certainly no ‘G-d’ or ‘Son of G-d’ could have called out on the cross as Jesus is supposed to have said, ‘My G-d, my G-d, why have you abandoned me?’ If he was G-d’s son, he would at least have said, ‘My Father …’“
He was quoting Psalm 22:1 in a moment of severe anguish. Since when was it a bad thing for God to quote Scripture? Who is God’s God? (Hints: Genesis 22:16; Isaiah 45:23; Jeremiah 49:13) I would not recommend telling God what God cannot say unless you’ve got some really big brass matzo balls. (Did you really think I could post a blog article this long without at least one attempt at humor?)
AJJA #12) “Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended, therefore could not have been the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-8).“
This is a great example of a horrendously irrational argument! If prophecy indeed ended during the Persian period (after Jews had returned from Babylon), then that would mean that the Deuteronomy 18 prophecy can never be fulfilled, & therefore Moses himself was a false prophet. Actually, there is no statement from God or any of God’s prophets suggesting that prophecy would end after the Temple was rebuilt. Daniel 9:24 makes it clear that “vision & prophecy” won’t end till sin ends. If your local newspaper has a Crime Statistics section, it’s still possible for God to give us prophecies.
AJJA #13) “The Bible openly states that there would never be another prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10), ‘And there shall not arise a prophet in Israel like unto Moses.’“
If that were the correct translation, it would nullify 18:18, “I will raise them up a prophet among their brethren, like unto you (Moses).” The correct translation is, “And a prophet has not arisen again in Israel [at the time this verse was written] like Moses who knew HaShem face to face.”
AJJA #14) “Messiah means ‘anointed with oil’. In Israel, every priest, every prophet, & every king was anointed with oil into God’s service. Jesus was never anointed with oil in this formal tradition, so he wasn’t the Messiah.“
Was Melchizedek, the priest to God Most High (LAL OLYUN) in Salem (Genesis 14:18), anointed with oil? Where was that event recorded?
Was Balaam, the prophet for the Moabites (Numbers 22:5) who is often quoted by AJJs (“God is not a man”), anointed with oil? Where was that event recorded?
God has the supreme authority to anoint anyone a king; in fact, the first king over Israel was of the tribe of Benjamin, not Judah (Genesis 49:10; 1Samuel 9:1-2; 10:1; 12:13). God also exercised that authority to de-select Eli’s family from the priesthood (Exodus 29:9; 1Samuel 2:30). I’ll repeat Religion Rule #1: Don’t tell God what God cannot do!
Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 61:1, where HaShem anointed Him with the Spirit of God (John 1:33-4; Luke 4:17-21). God’s Spirit has higher anointing authority than physical oil processed by humans.
AJJA #15) “The Messiah must be fully human; saying that God assumes human form makes God small, diminishing both His unity and His divinity. God is not a man (Numbers 23:19; 1Samuel 15:29; Hosea 11:9)!“
Tell that to Abraham, who saw HaShem appear in the form of (at least one of) three standing men (Genesis 18:1-3), & addressed them as “My Lord” (ADNY). Tell that to Isaiah who saw “the Lord” (ADNY) appear in the form of a seated man (Isaiah 6:1), & addressed Him as HaShem (6:5). The context of those verses in Numbers, 1Samuel, & Hosea declares that God is not merely a human, not that God can never appear to humans in human form while remaining divine. If God is not human in any way, why does Hebrew Scripture record God speaking, walking, sitting, & creating humans “in the image of God”?
AJJA #16) “If Jesus was divine, why did his own family turn against him?“
His mother, Mary, never turned against Him (Matthew 13:55; 27:56; Mark 15:40,47; 16:1; Luke 24:10; John 19:25-6). Obviously she was the only person living at the time who knew she had been impregnated by God. Though James, His brother, was not with Him at His crucifixion (for reasons unknown), he remained loyal to Jesus till his own martyrdom (while doing his best to remain loyal to Judaism). As for any other biological family-members, Jesus Himself said that families would be divided over Him (Matthew 10:36).
AJJA #17) “Christians borrowed the idea of the virgin birth of Jesus from pagan religions. The prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 was only relevant to the people living at that time, centuries before Jesus was born.“
Christians used the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Hebrew Bible. More than a century before Jesus was born, Jewish scholars chose the Greek word for “virgin” (parthenos). While AJJs interpret the Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 as merely “the young woman” (EOLME), a young woman giving birth is not much of a miracle, which is the context of the verse. No other instance of this word in the TNK precludes it from meaning “virgin”.
Some AJJs argue that the birth of Jesus centuries after the prophecy would have no meaning to King Ahaz; yet God did the same thing in Genesis 15. Abram asked God how he would know that he’d inherit the land. God’s response was a prophecy that would span 4 centuries; it would not be verifiable till long after Abram had died. Also, Genesis 3:15 records a prophecy about a “seed” of the first woman (not necessarily a child of the first man & woman) that can be interpreted in a messianic context, which comports with the concept of a virgin birth. Finally, there is no record at the time of King Ahaz of an ordinary child named Immanuel documenting that the prophecy had come true (as was done in 8:3 for another prophetic child, plus 3 others recorded in the first chapter of Hosea).
AJJA #18) “Matthew 1 & Luke 3 list contradictory genealogies for Jesus, obviously fiction.“
Christians interpret the Luke 3 genealogy as Mary’s, with verse 23 stating parenthetically that Jesus was believed to be the son of Joseph. The emphasis is on the humanity of Jesus, tracing Him through Mary’s father back to Adam. We interpret the Matthew 1 genealogy as Joseph’s, which is only a partial list emphasizing the role of women in the royal lineage (Tamar, Rahab, & Ruth) as a prelude to announcing the birth of Jesus via Mary. There is no way to prove or disprove genealogies, but they don’t contradict any aspect of Christian theism.
AJJA #19) “Tribal affiliation goes only through the birth father’s side, not the mother’s (Numbers 1:18; Ezra 2:59). Even if the genealogies in Matthew 1 & Luke 3 are genuinely of Joseph & Mary rather than fictitious contradictions, Mary couldn’t confer her father’s inheritance to Jesus.“
Numbers 27:8 records HaShem allowing women an inheritance if they had no biological brothers. Since there is no record of Mary having any brothers, her Son, Jesus, could legally claim her father’s inheritance.
AJJA #20) “The Messianic King must be descended from Judah (Genesis 49:10), Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), David (Jeremiah 23:5; 33:17), & Solomon (2Samuel 7:12-3; 1Chronicles 17:11-2; 22:9-10; 28:5-7). While the Matthew 1 genealogy traces Jesus to Solomon, it goes through Jeconiah/Jehoiakim who was cursed (Jeremiah 22:30; 36:30); & the Luke 3 genealogy traces Jesus to David bypassing Solomon; therefore Jesus does not qualify.“
Jesus was not a biological descendant of Jeconiah/Jehoiakim, so the curse against his physical descendants remains valid (“no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne“). The promise to Solomon was that of an eternal kingdom (“his throne shall be established for evermore“); it was not restricted to his biological “seed”, but could be transferred legally to qualified recipients (for an analogous precedent, see Genesis 25:31-3 where Esau transfers his birthright to Jacob, allowing Jacob to be treated as a firstborn). By not being a physical descendant of Jeconiah/Jehoiakim, Jesus was able to inherit the right to Solomon’s promise when Joseph legally married Mary. As her biological “seed”, He was also able to fulfill the promises given to David & Jesse (“a rod out of the stem of Jesse, & a Branch shall grow out of his roots“; “unto David a righteous Branch, & a King“).
It’s highly unlikely that Matthew or Luke would use fictitious genealogies that disqualify Jesus in an effort to demonstrate the historical veracity of Jesus as the Messiah (especially true for Luke, who in all likelihood had read Matthew’s account, & was aware of the genealogy therein; Luke 1:1-3). It would make more sense to invent genealogies going through Solomon while circumventing Jeconiah/Jehoiakim, which neither of them does.
AJJA #21) “Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat; anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:1-4).“
No verse of the New Testament records Jesus saying the Torah is no longer applicable, though He did occasionally give a deeper meaning to the Torah (thereby fulfilling the Jeremiah 31:31 prophecy of a “new covenant”). In Mark 3:4 & Luke 6:9, Jesus asked the contemporary Jews if it was lawful to do good by healing someone on the Sabbath, & apparently no Jew could offer a legitimate reply. I’ll pose the same question to any AJJ reading this blog. The primary purpose of the Sabbath commandment was to preserve the historical fact that God created the world “very good” in 6 days, then sanctified the 7th day in an act of faith that nothing else was needed to keep it in that condition. Alas, our ancestors acted irresponsibly. Making paste to heal someone, or nowadays driving them in an ambulance, & all the associated infrastructure as an act of faith to accomplish that good work, in no way violates this commandment; in fact, I would argue that it also honors the Shemah commandment to love God, which supersedes all other commandments. I’ve yet to read a rational (non-arbitrary) definition for the type of “work” not allowed by Jews on sabbaths. If you know of one, feel free to post a comment on this blog … any day of the week!
AJJA #22) “The resurrection & other miracles don’t prove Jesus is God or the Messiah. God sometimes grants the power of miracles to charlatans in order to test Jewish loyalty to the Torah (Deuteronomy 13:4).“
And sometimes God works miracles to demonstrate Who is boss! But I agree with the spirit of this AJJA; a Christian’s faith should not be based on miracles. Our faith in Jesus, as I’m showing throughout this essay, is based on it being the only rational religion known to mankind, comporting with all that we experience. The teachings of Jesus in the NT harmonize with the dramatic revelations from God in the OT/TNK. Christ’s miracles were examples of God interacting with humans. Isn’t that exactly what we would expect of God? Everywhere He went, Jesus was doing good things … like healing the sick, & criticizing irrational hypocrites.
AJJA #23) “Christianity irrationally accepts the Jewish scriptures, while rejecting the testimony of the Jewish nation which is the only basis for accepting the veracity of the Jewish scriptures.“
It’s possible to preserve a revelation from God while misunderstanding it. On multiple occasions, Israelites/Jews as a nation had abandoned their writings, & become idolatrous (Judges 17:5-6; 2Kings 22:13; 2Chronicles 34:21; Nehemiah 9:26). According to “HaShem thy God, the Holy One of Israel” in Isaiah 43, “[Jewish] teachers have transgressed against Me.” If you want to demonstrate that you’re teaching on behalf of the true God, you need to be rational, & be able to prove your point logically using Scripture as I’m doing herein. The writings were preserved by a relatively small portion of the nation under God’s special care (one example we’re given is recorded 1Kings 19:18; see also Jeremiah 44:28).
AJJA #24) “Judaism bases its belief on national revelation, God speaking to the entire nation. If God is going to start a religion, it makes sense He’ll tell everyone, not just one person.“
I shook my head in disbelief when I first read this one! How could any Jew, even an AJJ, be so ignorant as to use this argument to support any aspect of Judaism? Do they not know that when God appeared to their ancestors & gave them a national revelation at Mt. Sinai, that they begged God not to give it to them directly, but to Moses alone (Exodus 20:19; Deuteronomy 5:27)? Do they not know that God destroyed that entire generation (including Moses & Aaron, all except Joshua & Caleb) because they were disobedient, despite having heard God speak to them (Numbers 14:33-4; 32:13)? Do they not know that God honored their request & gave numerous revelations via individual prophets for centuries thereafter? Do they not know that God used a pagan Assyrian king to conquer the northern tribes of Israel (2Kings 15:29; 17:6,23; 18:11; 1Chronicles 5:26), & a pagan Babylonian king to conquer the southern tribes of Judah because they were so out-of-touch with God (2Kings 25; 2Chronicles 36)? Do they not know how God really felt about them as a nation (Ezekiel 23)?
AJJA #25) “Contemporary Jews heard Jesus teach & saw his actions, but were neither impressed nor persuaded, so why should a modern Jew be?“
This logical fallacy is known as an Argumentum ad Populum, Appeal to Consensus/Common Belief, Appeal to Majority, or simply the Bandwagon fallacy. (It’s a favorite of evolutionists!) Even after the Israelites heard God’s voice at Mt. Sinai, & had seen God’s actions against the Egyptians, the vast majority of them were impressed & persuaded to build & worship a molten calf (Exodus 32:1-8). Descendants of these stupid Israelites rejected HaShem as their King (1Samuel 8:7), & rejected knowledge of HaShem (Hosea 4:6). The Jews have a track record of rejecting HaShem’s words & law (Jeremiah 6:19). Extremely bad argument, yet it too was used by the Jewish sage, Ramban, in his famous debate at Barcelona.
AJJA #26) “The NT contains fictitious, unreliable, false, forged, fabricated, contradictory texts, therefore cannot be a revelation from the true God. Most Christians are completely unaware of the sheer butchery that the NT went through before the Roman emperor accepted it and declared it to be true. When you see that the NT writers copied most of what was written in the OT for the natural history of Jesus, clearly there’s another major credibility problem.“
These are false accusations based on hearsay & speculation. It’s amusing to see AJJs utilize poorly preserved myths from other ancient cultures in an effort to substantiate claims that NT writers based Christianity upon them. For example, if you hear an AJJ say that the 14th-century BC Persian deity, Mithras, was born on December 25th, just ask him or her how they know that to be true. Where is the 3,400-year-old document? How do its dates relate to the Julian/Gregorian calendar? When did people begin celebrating birthdays? Then, since the NT writers never mentioned the exact birthday of Jesus, ask that brilliant AJJ how such a coincidence would even be relevant to the NT’s veracity.
AJJA #27) “It is not possible to kill a god. The Messiah was not supposed to die!“
AJJA #28) “It is a given that Esav hates Ja’akov (Edom versus Israel) and our Sages long ago recognized Edom as Christianity.“
Both genealogies of Jesus trace through Jacob, not Esau. Though there are Christians who hate Jews without cause, Jesus commanded us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27,35), & any sane human would know that in terms of population percentage, far more Arabs hate Jews than do Christians, plus the bonus point that some Arabs (particularly Palestinians) trace their lineage through Esau (via the region of Edom/Idumea). The unidentified “sages” mentioned in this AJJA apparently overlooked these annoying little details!
AJJA #29) “Judaism rejects the notion of putting anything or anyone between oneself and one’s Creator. The relationship should be direct and personal.“
It’s a good thing Jesus is our Creator (John 1:3), so our relationship is direct & personal (Hebrews 8:1)! By the way, which religion is it that allows only Levites to minister in a physical temple to maintain a barrier between ordinary people when they worship their Creator? Is it Islam? Buddhism? Hinduism? I can’t seem to remember at the moment…
AJJA #30) “Jesus was never named Immanuel.“
The TNK records multiple names of God on appropriate occasions (Elohim, Jehovah/Yahweh, El Shaddai, El Elyon, Adonai, etc.; Exodus 6:3). Throughout history, people have used multiple names including myself. Isaiah 9:6 lists multiple names for the Messiah, none of which is Immanuel; however, despite one of those names being “Mighty God” (El Gibbor), AJJs don’t believe their messiah will be divine. That’s what’s known as having a “stiff neck” in the Bible. When Jesus was with us in bodily form, being God, He was literally Immanuel, “with us” (Matthew 28:20; John 7:33; 13:33).
AJJA #31) “According to Exodus 4:22 & Hosea 11:1, Israel is God’s firstborn son; therefore Jesus could not have been God’s son, or at least not His firstborn.“
This is clearly allegorical, referring to a group of people (men, women, boys, girls), not a biological offspring. A clear demonstration of “firstborn” not always meaning a literal initial child of a woman appears in Psalm 89:27. There King David received a vision of God claiming God made him “firstborn” as if he were God’s direct product, which he obviously wasn’t. Then in Jeremiah 31:9 HaShem claimed that Ephraim was “My firstborn”, again obviously allegorical (note that Ephraim was not even Joseph’s biological firstborn according to Genesis 41:50-1). But even if Israel (the single man originally named Jacob) were a biological son of God, it would still not invalidate anything Jesus did, nor prevent Him from being the Son of God. In a general sense, we’re all sons of God through Adam (Deuteronomy 14:1; Hosea 1:10).
(Note to atheists who might see these multiple “firstborn” references as contradictory: remember that they’re not in the same context, & that birthrights can be legally transferred. David was later than Ephraim, & Ephraim was later than Israel.)
AJJA #32) “The first worshipers of Jesus did not claim that with their worship they were following a tradition which goes back to Sinai. According to the definition of scripture, worship of Jesus is idolatry.“
Apparently this AJJ is not familiar with Jeremiah 31:31-2. Actually, the NT records Jesus claiming to go back even earlier: “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58; see also John 1:1-3, which pushes the origin of Jesus back as far as it can possibly go!). But this AJJ is correct in that Christians do not (should not) claim to merely follow a tradition: “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matthew 15:6) & “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:9).
AJJA #33) “The Christian cannot point to any verses in scripture that tell you repentance does not bring about the expiation of sin.“
Try Numbers 14:39-41 on for size! The recalcitrant Israelites waited one day too long, & pushed God too far. They mourned & they pleaded, & they even presumed to do that which God had originally wanted them to do, but they failed. God rejected their repentance, & their sin was not forgiven them. (See also Psalm 95:6-11.) Can an AJJ point to any verses in Scripture that tell you how many times God will allow you to repeat the sin/repent/sin/repent cycle before you die? This AJJA #33 is similar to AJJA #6, but I want to expound on it outside of Isaiah 53.
Christians have been shouting “Repent!” since John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2; too many other verses to list here). We need to constantly repent because we’re constantly sinning every day, occasionally in big ways, but almost constantly in small ways because our minds are easily diverted from God. We strive to stay in God’s will, but realize that we’ll need a “safety net” on Judgment Day. Israelites typified this act dramatically each year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-34). It was only for the sins committed during the previous year, not for future sins. Immediately after offering the sacrifices on that day, the first sin again condemns the person.
The context of Ezekiel 18:21-2 is not simply repentance, but the contingent “and” keeping of all God’s statutes. If they’re not kept perfectly, the person once again becomes unrighteous & therefore damned. It’s a vicious cycle that includes sins we’re ignorant of, for which we can’t repent. Just because we’re not doing something wrong, doesn’t mean we’re doing something right. This bears repeating: Just because we’re not doing something wrong, doesn’t mean we’re doing something right. Any instance of self-centeredness we overlook (e.g., in moments when we’re not loving God with all our mind, soul, & ability per Deuteronomy 6:5), will condemn us. Only a general atonement that we claim by faith can guarantee our eternal salvation after we die.
Some AJJs refer to 2Samuel 12:13 as an example of HaShem forgiving sin upon repentance; however, note that Nathan informed King David that he would not die. If the context were that this one repentance guaranteed his salvation, David did eventually die, so obviously God was referring to him not being killed in immediate judgment over this one particular sin.
Other AJJs point to 1Kings 8:46-50, where King Solomon prayed for HaShem to forgive people if they repent; but again, it was conditional upon them returning with all their mind & soul. One slip, & you’re back to square one in need of atonement. Can you maintain a clean slate on your own merit up to the point of death? What will you be thinking of during the moment prior to a drunk driver running a red light, or when a nearby Muslim starts chanting to Allah while pressing a detonator? What will you be thinking about the last time you go to bed? Did you remember to repent of every sin you committed since your last repentance, including the moments of your life when you were not focusing on God with all your mind, soul, & ability? Does your mind ever drift from God as you drift into slumberland?
Can an AJJ point to any verses in Scripture that tell you God will forgive your trespasses you don’t repent about after repenting for the ones you do know about? The bottom line on this issue is that Judaism offers hope, but Christianity offers a guarantee.
AJJA #34) “For whom would the Christian Messiah be providing atonement, in a world which sees the blood offerings of Moses being offered in the Jerusalem temple as they were in days of old?“
This question refers to the temple referenced in Section II, AJJA #2, Event A. Those blood offerings would be achieving the same purpose they did back in the other 2 temples & Wilderness Tabernacle: they’d be commemorating Christ’s sacrifice. Since Jesus only suffered/died once, He will not need to give a repeat performance; however, for those who don’t understand the concept, Jews will still be teaching it the old-fashioned way. Turning the table on AJJs, if their ordinary-human messiah ends all sin, why will blood offerings be needed in the temple foreseen by Ezekiel?
AJJA #35) “Christianity stands upon Paul’s word that Jesus appeared to him. Why should anyone believe him?“
No, Christianity doesn’t stand solely upon Paul’s personal testimony. A better understanding of what Jesus accomplished can be obtained from Paul’s writings, & they comport with the other NT writers who were firsthand eyewitnesses before Jesus’ death/resurrection (the only possible exception is James, which is a whole separate discussion unrelated to the issue of whether Jesus was the Messiah; Paul & James differed over our role in obtaining salvation).
AJJA #36) “If his rising from the dead was so crucial to demonstrate who he was, why did this take place in secret and not in the presence of his ‘thousands’ of devotees?“
This fallacy goes by the names Complex Question, Loaded Question, & Plurium Interogationum. Before asking why it took place in secret, the AJJ should ask if it took place in secret. It didn’t. Everyone knew where He was buried including the Roman soldiers the Jews asked to be stationed there; everyone else voluntarily chose (for whatever reason) not to camp there. They probably would’ve been dispersed by the Romans anyway. (By the way, on what basis would this AJJ know “His rising” took place “in secret”?)
AJJA #37) “Why did his followers consist of a handful of people, almost all of whom were poorly educated?“
Whether Jesus had a legion of educated followers or only mentally retarded groupies, it would not be a rational argument for or against the fulfillment of prophecy through His life, or the harmony of His teachings with those of God in the TNK. When you argue against the person instead of against the person’s position, it’s a logical fallacy named Ad Hominem; but in this case, the AJJ is arguing against a particular class of people associated with the Person against whom they’re arguing! That’s quite a desperate, convoluted position!
For the record, most people living at that time were poorly educated, but lack of formal education does not equate with ignorance (as witnessed by presumably educated AJJs who can’t defend their position without resorting to logical fallacies & nonsensical misinterpretations of Scripture). Paul, whose writings comprise about 1/3 of the NT content (not counting the epistle to the Hebrews, its authorship being uncertain), was trained by a famous rabban, Gamaliel (Acts 5:34; 22:3), the grandson of Hillel the Elder. Luke, who was a physician (Colossians 4:14) & knowledgeable historian, wrote the longest of the 4 gospels plus the letter named Acts (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1). Matthew, Mark, John, James, Peter, & Jude knew the TNK literature fairly well in order to quote it as frequently as they did. That’s impressive if indeed they were “poorly educated” as this AJJA inferred.
(By the way, if Jesus was not divine, where did He receive His training that has confounded Jewish scholars for 2,000 years? Why was no contemporary Jewish scholar held responsible for training Him?)
AJJA #38) “Christians have committed atrocities (e.g., the Crusades & the Inquisition), therefore cannot be representing the true God.“
If no AJJ had ever committed any sin against God, this argument might be valid; but even if Christians have collectively committed worse sins than any other group, relativism is not a rational argument against an absolute religion promoting a 1-on-1 relationship between people & their Creator (Numbers 14:26-39; Ezekiel 33:12-13). If AJJA #38 were true, it would prove that Jews cannot be representing the true God because they’ve committed atrocities against God (Ezekiel 23, esp. vv. 35, 38-9).
AJJA #39) “Why do Christians eat pig when the Torah forbids it (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8)?“
Every Jew who reveres the Torah & eats any animal product testifies to the fact that God has at times made changes to the original plan. For example, all animals were originally created to eat plants (Genesis 1:29-30), but God changed this in response to the severely altered conditions following the global flood (Genesis 9:3), then restricted this for Israelites to illustrate things declared to be holy distinct from unholy things (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14). Peter & Paul, under the authority of Jesus (being one with God), taught us that all animals were still available for people to eat (Acts 10:9-16; 11:5-10; 1Corinthians 10:25-7). We also know that one day God will restore conditions to the way they originally were, ending carnivorism (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25; Hosea 2:18). So we see in the Bible another ABCBA chiasmus (the other ones are beyond the scope of this essay). It’s true that God declared swine to be unclean; however, God cares more about the spiritual things coming from our hearts than the physical things going into our mouths (Isaiah 29:13).
AJJA #40) “Jesus commanded his disciples to preach to the Jews only and not to the Gentiles (Matthew 10), yet his disciples disobeyed him and did just the opposite. He clearly thought of himself as the Messiah of the Jews and of no one else.“
False premise. On the particular occasion described in Mat 10, He told them to not go to the Gentiles, but noted that their preaching would be making a testimony to Gentiles; at the end of Mat before His ascension, He told them to make disciples of all Gentiles (28:19).
Conclusion from Section IV: Since AJJs cannot account for these multi-faceted issues in a logically consistent manner, I have proved (in the formal philosophical sense) that AJJs are wrong, & my Christian position withstands the test.
Deepest dagger thrust: There is no rational argument against Christianity.
I hope that this essay will help AJJss understand what they believe & why they believe it. Those beliefs should be based on an accurate understanding of Christianity, not on fallacious strawmen. I’m fully aware that every argument I articulated above is subject to the same Proverbs 18:17 scrutiny by someone wiser than me, & I welcome any Jew or Gentile who can explain where I’m wrong or illogical. I spent 8 weeks drafting, researching, revising this essay, & could easily have spent the next 8 years improving it as I continue learning.
My faith in God is not based upon the testimony of a nation or a subdivision of that nation or a single person, but upon the message of God transmitted through those people despite problems caused by those people. That message is the only explanation that comports with all that I experience.
Some people claim truth is where you find it, & what works for one person might not for the other. Christianity, as taught by Jesus, presents a dichotomy:
“He that is not with Me is against Me; & he that gathereth not with Me scattereth (abroad).“–Matthew 12:30 & Luke 11:23
From the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, we know that things tend toward disorder; they scatter. This process does not produce poems, books, technological wonders, or any other products of an intelligent source. Any form of Judaism that is against Jesus, is guilty of the same unintelligent scattering.
(And please don’t attempt to use Mark 9:40 to refute my previous point by saying that anyone who “is not against [Christians] is on our part.” The context of that verse references another Christian who wasn’t traveling with the disciples of Jesus at the time.)
It’s unfortunate that many Christians use false arguments against Judaism because they misunderstand it, but equally sad to see AJJs do the same. And just because someone professes Judaism or Christianity, it doesn’t mean they are correct or incorrect, & will be saved or not saved in the final Judgment. Each person can only evaluate his/her own relationship with God. We should each strive to learn about God as much as we can in this life. It’s okay to be ignorant or misinformed on theology; it’s not okay to be against learning about God.
“And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him.“–Matthew 12:32, Luke 12:10