Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus vol 2

Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus volume 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2000.

This is a more taxing read than the first volume in the series. It’s worth it, though. Brown surveys the key arguments concerning Trinity, Sacrifice, and Blood Atonement.

Theological Objections

3.1. Jews don’t believe in the Trinity. We believe in one God, not three. Here is the issue, though: Does ‘echad mean generic or numerical unity, or something else? The same word is used of the sexual union between Adam and Eve. Whatever the word means, it does not mean an absolute unicity.

Brown gives a very skilled exegetical argument on how God can both be transcendent and with his people. This is standard “Two Powers of God” theology. If God can be seated in heaven yet still manifest himself on earth, where is he: heaven or earth? Or both? The Hebrew tradition even speaks of God’s Word as a concrete entity

Brown also points out that traditional Jews have no problem with the divine emanations from the ten Sefirot. How does this not also compromise the unity of God?

If the Trinity is the most difficult problem, the most practical problem is sacrifices. Given the detail Torah spends on ritual and sacrifice, how does the rabbinic Jew get around this problem? The standard answer is that by the time of the prophets, prayer replaced sacrifice in terms of importance. The main problem, though, is that none of these texts actually say that. They warn against hypocritical religion.

This section is probably the heart of the book and the next most common Jewish objection. Given that the temple was destroyed in OT times, yet God still forgave his people’s sins, does it not also stand to reason that he will forgive Jewish sins post-70AD? The main problem here is that the OT saints in exile looked forward to the rebuilding of the Temple. If prayer and repentance replaced sacrifice, then why did the Jews want to rebuild the temple and get back to sacrifice?

Moreover, Daniel’s praying 3x a day cannot replace sacrifice, since sacrifice was only prescribed 2x a day!

The best way to approach Brown’s material is to have the pages reference-ready. You probably won’t need to memorize his arguments, but you do need to be aware of the arguments counter-misionaries will use.

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