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.

Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, volume 1

Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus vol. 1.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

This volume introduces Michael L. Brown’s larger project of Jewish evangelism.  Working through these objections is a neat exercise for Christians, as you get to use your Old Testament knowledge in ways you didn’t expect.

Remind them that the rabbinic traditions which they follow aren’t any older than Christianity.  That means the debate is over who is the best expression of the Jewish tradition: Yeshua Messiah or the rabbis?

The Problem of Interpretation.  The key question is not whether Christianity or Judaism is true.  The key question is which is the biblical faith: the rabbis or Yeshua (Brown 1.7)? 

The first section dealt with general objections to Yeshua.  None were formidable. These are the standard CNN/NPR objections.  In section 2 Brown deals with more scholarly opponents.

Why isn’t there peace on Earth? The OT Messianic prophecies point to worldwide peace.   This is a more sophisticated objection than we might think at first. It’s a devastating criticism of amillennialism. The objection is not saying that “We Jews expect a David-like conqueror.”  No, the OT messianic promises point to “the glory of God covering the earth.” 

Brown responds that Messiah must bring purification before peace, judgment before justice (2.1).  The peace that Messiah brings happens at the end of the age (Isaiah 2; Zech. 14). See Hagg. 2:6-9.  See also Daniel 9:24-27.

Daniel 9 is an important chapter for End Times Bible Prophecy, but it also provides an important point here.  Brown notes that “Final atonement for Israel’s sin must be made before the second temple was destroyed.”

If Yeshua is the Messiah, why have wars and famines increased (2.2)?  We’ve already dealt with the faulty premise of the question, as explained in 2.1.  Messiah does not bring in a universal, unqualified peace.

Zechariah’s Sequence of Messiah’s Return

The trumpet will sound; Messiah returns, then Day of Atonement.  Yahweh will protect the City (Zech. 14:1-5), and these nations afterwards will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.  Here is the exciting part: this is laid out in the Jewish calendar: Passover, Firstfruits (Yeshua’s rising from the dead), Shavu’ot/Pentecost [Gap in Time] we are now waiting on the eschatological Feast of Tabernacles following the rescue of Jerusalem.

 

60 Questions Christians Ask About…

Brown, Michael L. 60 Beliefs Christians Ask About Jewish Beliefs and Practices. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.

Michael L. Brown, Semitic language expert and Jewish convert to Christ, writes a good primer introducing Christians to “why Jews do what they do.” While it points out inconsistencies and tensions in rabbinic belief, it primarily serves to a) explain the Jewish foundations of Christian thought and b) combat fringe Christian silliness.

Are there Jewish Denominations?

Reform Judaism was a humanistic reaction to Orthodox Judaism. The Reform motto became “Guidance, not governance.” Conservative Judaism, by contrast, respected the sanctity of traditions but acknowledged a historical development to them. The differing traditions view the following doctrines accordingly:

Scripture:

Orthodox–Tanakh is inerrant and authoritative.

Reform–imperfect human product, but special.

Rabbinic authority:

Orthodox–God gave Moses a written and oral law

Reform–respect their teachings but you aren’t bound to them.

Humor

When speaking of God, Orthodox Jews say “adonoy” (referring to the Eastern European pronunciation). Conservative Jews say “adonai” (referring to the Middle Eastern pronunciation). Liberal Jews say “I-don’t-know.”

What is Hasidic Judaism?

Originated in the 1700s with Eliezer ben Israel, known as Baal Shem Tov. He emphasized joy and laughter and that one good deed was worth more than the 613. Initially opposed by the Formalists, his teachings ended up becoming widespread, if not mainstream.

Unique to the Hasidim was the position of “rebbe,” Grand Rabbi of a community. This position had almost mystical importance and was passed down from father to son.

Lubavitch. They are known as the Chabad, an acronym for [​IMG]

(3) What is the Oral Law?

The oral law explains the written law? Where is the evidence for it? It’s oral, so you can’t find evidence of an unwritten law in a written text (sound familiar?). On one hand there is no problem with saying there are long-standing traditions. Brown, however, points out the irony: it is in their written form that the oral traditions have been preserved.

(4) What is the Tanakh?

It is the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings.

(5) What is exactly meant by the term ‘Torah’?

On one hand, Torah is broader than “law,” yet the Talmud has legal discussions which are considered Torah, yet they insist that Torah isn’t law.

(6) What is the Masoretic Text?

It’s actually a textual tradition, since there are thousands of medieval manuscripts.

(7) What are the holy books of Judaism?

Babylonian Talmud. Commentary on the Mishnah. Covers every aspect of Jewish life.

Haggada. Non-binding rabbinic stories and commentaries.

Halakhah. A specific legal ruling.

Kabbalah. Jewish mystical writings.

Midrash. Rabbinic commentaries.

Mishnah. The oral law.

Targum. Aramaic translations of the Hebrew bible.

(10) Do Jewish People Expect a Literal Messiah?

Yes, but he will be fully human.

(11) Do Jews refer to God by the Name Jehovah?

No. Jehovah is based on a mistaken rendering by those who were educated in Hebrew, but didn’t know the scribal practices. They didn’t know the scribes put the vowels for adonai in the word yhwh.

(13) Why do traditional Jews have separate dishes for milk and meat products?

They think this is how they observe the prohibition for not boiling a goat in its mother’s milk. You can’t eat meat and drink milk together. The problem is that in Genesis 18:8 Abraham did both.

Part of Brown’s book addresses silly myths Christians tell themselves about Hebrew. No, the New Testament wasn’t originally written in history. Jesus’s real name isn’t Yahushua.”

Hebrew Roots

This is where some Christians take their silliness to full-orbed live action role playing. To be fair, there are Jewish roots to the NT. Jesus did not come into the world as a Greek Socrates to establish a Greek-Christian religion. He came to fulfill Moses and the Prophets.

Further, Romans 11:18 makes it clear that we are the branches, not the root. We are grafted into Israel’s new covenant. We understand that the Feast of Tabernacles points to the final ingathering of the nations. Israel is to play a special role in world redemption, whose salvation will be life from the dead. Yeshua himself will not return again until his own people welcome him back (Matt. 23:37-39).

Now for the silliness. If you watch these Hebrew Roots groups, you will see that Torah replaces Jesus in terms of centrality.

On another point, Paul didn’t always follow the LXX. When he quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17, he is not using the LXX. Half the time when Paul cites the LXX, he isn’t citing it exactly. Romans 11:27-28 appears to be a misquotation but is actually closer to the Hebrew.

Nota Bene

Reform Judaism on God:

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