Messianic Jews Question

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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 28 2018 9:23 AM

I have found a website of the messianic Jews Netzarim branch and it has a bunch of articles teaching their doctrines.  Jesus is Divine but He’s not Elohim, 50 verses that deny the trinity, etc.

Phew! I can now work my way through the articles and see where they’re coming from.

The website is in Spanish so sorry for not posting it.

👍😁👌

DAL

Posts 232
Genghis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 28 2018 3:52 PM

DAL:

Thanks for the link, Genghis! I’ll keep researching this. This Netzarim group seems a little complicated, even though they claim to be Messianic Jews.

DAL

You're welcome.

Just to expand on a few thought I'd said earlier and as a reaction to some of the contributors to this thread:

The whole Messianic Judaism thing and the idea of what constitutes a Messianic Jew is in flux.  That is, the concepts and what people believe is still in development and may change as time passes.

There is no "orthodox" Messianic Judaism though there may be larger groups who hold to one set of ideas about MJ but no one is authoritative and can take a papal tone to deciding what's right and what's wrong, what's in and what's out.  As it should be, since there is much to be debated.

For example, it's interesting that some hold to the biological ethnicity idea of a Messianic Jew:  Unless one has physical "Jewish" DNA then one can't call oneself a Messianic JEW is the thought.  

On the other hand, I have met orthodox rabbis who have said to me "can one call oneself a Jew if you do not love the Lord your God with all your..."  Sounds so much like being saved by faith to me, rather than by dint of biological heritage.

Then the rabbi said to me during the same conversation, and when you consider this, it makes the Holocaust so much more poignant as Hitler sought to destroy a "race" when there is no "race" but a body of believers who have their membership by faith.  

I was struck by how close this thinking was to Christian thinking on salvation. 

Other Jews have argued that the preservation of the Jewish people is fundamental to protecting the Torah; so to fulfil this mission, the integrity of the Jewish people must be preserved and assimilation must be fought tooth and nail.

But then, when you look at certain passages in the Pentateuch, when a non-Jew wanted to live with the Jewish people, s/he was to take on the Torah and it expressly requires that they weren't to live under a separate set of rules; only one set for all.  It even says they were to be treated as if they were their own and to be loved.  

Well, how many years and generations would it be before they were fully assimilated and indistinguishable from the traditional idea of a Jew?  Are they and their descendants to be considered any less than a Jew? 

Perhaps the Jews are thinking of assimilation in the wrong way.  The focus shouldn't be about fighting assimilation into the wider community; maybe it's about assimilating us.

Perhaps, God never intended that Christianity be a separate religion but a branch of Judaism.  Maybe we still are but don't know it.  

The story of Ruth seems to me to be a story that illustrates this reverse-assimilation.

Seeds of this kind of thinking can be seen in the NT ideas of being grafted in; of JC saying he would never abrogate the Torah; of the dividing wall being removed; of believers calling Abraham our father... 

Even Abraham is only identified as Jewish by faith (Hebrews 11).

Which leads me to question whether a Messianic Jew needs to be biologically "Jewish".  

HTH

Posts 89
David Staveley | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 28 2018 9:06 PM

But then, when you look at certain passages in the Pentateuch, when a non-Jew wanted to live with the Jewish people, s/he was to take on the Torah and it expressly requires that they weren't to live under a separate set of rules; only one set for all.  It even says they were to be treated as if they were their own and to be loved.

I think you are confusing what the Tanakh says about different classes of gentiles (gerim) who wished to be more "included" in Jewish society in varying levels of assimilation. According to the Tanakh, there are 3 classes of gentile: 1) the gentile who lives as he pleases - they are referred to simply as the "alien" (Heb: ger); 2) the gentile who agrees to live by the "Seven Laws of Noah". They are referred to as the ger toshav - the "righteous gentile" (literally "rightous alien", but as they are semi-assimilated into Jewish society, ger toshav is always translated as "righteous gentile"); and 3) the proselyte (LXX προσήλυτος = "stranger to Israel". Later Rabbinic sources refer to them as the ger tzedek). This is the gentile who takes upon himself the full "yoke of the commandments". I.e. all of the mitzvot in the Torah (traditionally estimated by Maimonides to be 613, but that's just another Rabbinic invention. There are about 90 clear commandments in the Torah. The rest, Maimonides stretched out from "suggestions" or "good advice" given in the Torah). That is, he effectively becomes a Jew by conversion. 

So, as you can see, different classes of gentile would have accepted different levels of mitzvot. Not as you say "only one set for all".

Dr David Staveley Professor of New Testament. Specializing in the Pauline Epistles, Apocalyptic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Posts 6222
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 28 2018 9:22 PM

Any information on the Netzarim Messianic Jewish group, David?

You seem to be familiar with different branches of MJ’s.

I found a link in English by the same guy that wrote the material in Spanish: 

https://answersintorah.wordpress.com/

From an article I read, they go as far as denying the virgin birth of Christ.  According to this man, most of the core christian beliefs were made up by the Catholic Church.  This is a dangerous branch to say the least.  My friend is still debating since he says he likes it there, but no one has come close to him and his family to even say hello.  So he may not be too convinced after all, but that remains to be seen.

DAL

Posts 89
David Staveley | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 28 2018 9:23 PM

Genghis:

DAL:

What is the Talmud good for (Babylonian and Jerusalem)? 

DAL

Talmud is like a email discussion of rabbinical authorities or a string of dicta from a law journal.  It's a record of rabbinical discussions.

Useful to glean what people were thinking about various topics and passages in their day.  

Like all discussions, you pick out what you will and use it to help make whatever point you want to make.  

Critical thinking necessary.

No different than reading what David Jeremiah or D A Carson says about something.  You still have to weigh it up and decide how to apply it, or not.  

DAL:

And also Jewish Laws? 

DAL

To have a sensible discussion about this we need to define Jewish law.  There is the written law of the Pentateuch.  Then there are the Oral Laws which were then captured in the Talmud and other rulings since then.  

I think of the system as analogous to the English Common Law system which is what most US and British Commonwealth countries use.  There are statutes (equivalent to the Pentateuch) and the Common Law (which is the principals and precedents set by Judges as they practically implement the statutes).  But even in the ECL system, the Statutes always take precedence over the Common Law.  

Same thing in a way.  Often churches have constitutions and bylaws.  They are analogous to the Talmud.  What weight do they have?  Some are good and some are bad.  Setting out a process for selecting elders sounds good to me.  But back in the 70s some Pentecostal churches barred wearing jeans to a Sunday worship service.  Today, many would think that's ridiculous.  Other churches still expect formal attire.  

Seems to me Jesus took Jewish Oral laws on their merit and if he found fault, was willing to debate them.  But to say they have no authority at all we would be going too far.  And to say that the Rabbis and other leaders had no authority to make these laws would also go beyond what Jesus did.  He accepted that they had the authority to set such rules.  But if you notice, he never argues with them about the written law i.e. the Pentateuch. 

HTH

Genghis - I don't want to derail this topic by addressing what you have asserted about the "oral law" here, but may I suggest you please read my posts about the validity of the concept of an Pharisaic "oral law" here:

https://community.logos.com/forums/t/172575.aspx

And what I wrote about who ran what, where, and when in the first century here:

https://community.logos.com/forums/t/172575.aspx

Thanks!

Dr David Staveley Professor of New Testament. Specializing in the Pauline Epistles, Apocalyptic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Posts 89
David Staveley | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 28 2018 9:48 PM

DAL:

Any information on the Netzarim Messianic Jewish group, David?

You seem to be familiar with different branches of MJ’s.

I found a link in English by the same guy that wrote the material in Spanish: 

https://answersintorah.wordpress.com/

From an article I read, they go as far as denying the virgin birth of Christ.  According to this man, most of the core christian beliefs were made up by the Catholic Church.  This is a dangerous branch to say the least.  My friend is still debating since he says he likes it there, but no one has come close to him and his family to even say hello.  So he may not be too convinced after all, but that remains to be seen.

DAL

Yes, I've come across them before. They used to be quite dominant in Israel back in the 1980's but they seem to have gone quite over the years. But the point is, they consider themselves to be the direct descendent's of a sect of Judaism mentioned in Acts 24.5 and later by Epiphanius of Salamis as a break-away group of authentic Jewish-Christians who believed that Messiah Jesus had come simply to "complete" or "fulfil" what God had long promised, and finally given the definitive interpretation of the Torah. Not to teach a "law free" gospel. 

I find myself puzzled by their insistence that Paul did not teach that Jesus was the "end" of the law, as what Paul says in Galatians and Romans cannot be easily glossed over: once "graced", for a man to "return to the law" in a binding way is to return to servitude to sin itself. 

Now, of course, therein lies the rub: what did he mean when he said "to return to the law"? This has, of course, been endlessly debated for hundreds of years, in literally thousands of volumes of scholarly articles and books, and is actually the topic of my new book (shameless plug) "Rethinking the Apostle Paul: Beyond the Old and the New Perspectives" (publication date possibly late 2019), where I assert a brand new way of interpreting Paul, an interpretation that has never been proposed before, and that pulls the best of both the Old and the New Perspective together into one brand new paradigm.A paradigm that relocates Justification by Faith as the centre of Paul's gospel, and not just a relic of an old historical curiosity shop.

But even if we don't get into the nitty gritty of what he meant, the fact remains Paul thought there was something about "works of the law" (whatever that means) which is incomparable with being a "free man" in Christ. 

What is also puzzling about them is that they are insistent that following Rabbinic Judaism is the "only way" to be authentically Jewish. They seem not to be aware of the paradigm shift that occurred in the Nineteenth Century when a bunch of German Jews realised you could be Jewish by simply observing the ancestral traditions that reached back to the First Temple Period. And that, as such, you didn't need the Rabbinic corpus in order to be Jewish. This is what we now know as Reform Judaism. As such, the Netzarim seem to exist in an historical vacuum, oblivious to the different expressions of Judaism occurring around the world today. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. 

Still, as I always say: there are as many flavours of belief in the world of men as there are grains of sand in the sea. As the old adage goes: put two Jews together, and you'll have three opinions. 

As to your link, I would counter that with this one:

http://nazarenejudaism.com/?page_id=539

On that website, in an article pointing out how fractured Netzarim Judaism has become, it asserts that "authentic" Netzarim Judaism fully assented  to the Virgin Birth.

Dr David Staveley Professor of New Testament. Specializing in the Pauline Epistles, Apocalyptic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Posts 232
Genghis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 29 2018 3:28 AM

David Staveley:
So, as you can see, different classes of gentile would have accepted different levels of mitzvot. Not as you say "only one set for all".

Hmmm...

Aren't the conception of these classes (ger, ger toshav, and proselyte) relatively recent developments in Jewish history?  I've seen one or two articles that argue that these classes are ex post inferences to the Tannaic texts.

Who said there aren't plenty of questions to investigate in biblical study?  

Posts 6222
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 29 2018 6:26 AM

Thanks for the link David! I saved it for references.

DAL

Posts 89
David Staveley | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Sep 29 2018 9:44 AM

Genghis:

David Staveley:
So, as you can see, different classes of gentile would have accepted different levels of mitzvot. Not as you say "only one set for all".

Hmmm...

Aren't the conception of these classes (ger, ger toshav, and proselyte) relatively recent developments in Jewish history?  I've seen one or two articles that argue that these classes are ex post inferences to the Tannaic texts.

Who said there aren't plenty of questions to investigate in biblical study?  

That all depends on how you see things. The concept of the "alien" resident either within the boundaries of the land of Israel, or just outside it, is mentioned frequently in the oldest strata of the Torah. The word ger is interchanged with the Hebrew words Zar and Nokri. But they mean the same thing: gentiles who did not wish to assimilate to Israelite customs. They had ties with their homelands and did not wish to be permanent residents in Israel.

The concept of the ger toshav is also found in the oldest strata of the Torah. If you look up the word toshav ("sojoiner") in any of the Lexicons, you will find many instances where it is conjoined with the word "ger" to form the phrase "ger toshav". These were the special category of gentile who wished to be resident in the land of Israel and wanted to be on good terms with their Israelite neighbours, so as to do business with them. So, they enjoined to observe what has become known as the "Seven Laws of Noah". By doing this, the ger toshav could not only abide permanently in the land of Israel, it also accorded them certain rights; it allowed them to participate in Israelite worship, albeit with certain restrictions. For example, they could participate in Temple worship, but could not enter the Court of the Israelites or the Court of the Women without being circumcised (Num 15.14-16). If they came into contact with a corpse, they had to participate in the ritual purification laws along with the Israelites, in order to purge themselves from ritual corpse impurity (Num 19.2,10), and follow the same food laws (Lev 17.10), and could be “cut off” from the people of Israel for not doing so. They kept the Sabbath (Exo 20.8-10) and the festivals (Deut 16.14). They were not permitted to participate in idolatry but to worship the God of Israel only (Lev 20.1-2).

Now we come to the tricky one: the proselyte, or "convert". Although there are still scholars who disagree, it is now commonly accepted that Ancient Israelite religion had no concept of "conversion" to Israelite religion in the way we think of conversion today. This was because they had no notion of a separate religion distinct from ethnic descent from Abraham . As such, if you were not born an Israelite, you couldn't "convert" to it as that was nonsense to them. So, assimilation is what the LXX word προσήλυτος refers to. Thus, the gerim who accepted circumcision, and took upon themselves the full "yoke of the commandments" were never regarded as fully fledged Israelites, but their full assimilation of Israel's central teachings afforded them most of the benefits of being so regarded. In this respect, the ger who circumcised and enjoined to observe the full yoke of the commandments were only different from the ger toshav in different levels of assimilation. Not in status vis-a-vis being considered a member of Israel. Neither group were considered Israelites.

The concept of full-blown conversion to Jewish religion, where the gentile effectively becomes a "Jew" can only be found post-exile. But the foundations of the concept began during the Exile with the Prophet Jeremiah. The revolutionary theological change brought about by Jeremiah, by altering the views of Amos and Hosea, is that for the very first time, an Israelite dared to argue that God could be worshipped outside the land of Israel:

Such an insight about God transformed not only the theological views of the Israelites, but their view of gentiles living outside the Holy Land. Just as the concept of a “portable God” made it possible for Israelites to retain their identity outside their promised land, so, too, did such a concept of God allow for gentiles living outside the land to join the people, not by moving to the land of Israel, but by adopting the religious views of the Jews. Non-Jews could join the Jewish people by worshipping God, by renouncing their pagan ways, and by accepting new beliefs.

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/conversion-history-ancient-period/

I'll quickly mention he Book of Ruth because it is a tricky one, depending on which scholarly tradition you belong to. I personally believe it was written in the 5th Century BCE, and so is post-exilic. However, if it was written before the Exile, I'm happy to be proved wrong. If that proves to be the case, then Ruth is the only concrete evidence of full conversion prior to the Exile. But, as it is post-exile (steady now! Don't kill me for saying it!), it doesn't falsify the above stated theory that there was no such thing as full conversion in the accepted sense prior to the Exile. So, no need to panic. 

 

Dr David Staveley Professor of New Testament. Specializing in the Pauline Epistles, Apocalyptic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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