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They Call Me Sneeze
10-27-2001, 01:04 AM
Back in the olden days, when Jesus was (supposedly) still running around turing bread into cheese and curing lepers and whatnot, and convincing all these Christians that he was the son of God and by being crucified he would absolve everyone else of their sins, etc etc etc, how come the Jewish people of that time were not sufficiently impressed to believe him, like all the Christian people were?

I'm not implying anything like "Gosh, what was wrong with those Jewish folk who didnt know the very own son of God when he was prancing around in their backyards," or "Psh, can you believe how gullible those old-timey Christians were?"

I just want to know why it convinced one big group of people but not another.

love
sneeze: practicing jessicist

DSeid
10-27-2001, 01:37 AM
Boy, this will be a nice thread.

Actually, a group was convinced. A group of practicing Jews, made up of disciples and others, including James (who some feel was Christ's brother ... or half-brother, anyway) believed that Christ had been the Messiah. They were indeed Jews for Jesus. But most Jews were unconvinced, after all, His coming hadn't resulted in expulsion of the Romans and everything else that the waited for Messiah was supposed to bring. The promise that he would come back again to do all that just didn't sway the majority of Jewish minds. They waited longer, some believing that Simon Bar Kokhbar was the Messiah a few years later (bad choice, the rebellion he led finished off Israel as a Jewish state for almost two millenium)

Modern Christianity took off with Paul's interpretations, which could have been designed for the needs of A Roman empire governing a diverse group of cultures in many lands. Paul espoused a Christianity that did not require obeying Jewish Laws or being Jewish; it instead required faith and it had a centralized structure. Imposing Roman mythology was a hard sell. Rule by overwhelming force was getting costly. Paul's Christianity was a perfect fit for governmental needs. Non Jews didn't judge whether or not Christ was the Messiah on how well He had done for the Jewish people. And Constatine made a great proselytizer.

Please note: this is not intended to dispute or endorse the truth of Paul's interpretations ... I do not mean to offend anyone. But the idea took off because it fit the needs of the time. Other religions, that were more tribal in nature, were poor fits to bind a multiethnic and multicultural world into one global structure.

tomndebb
10-27-2001, 02:03 AM
how come the Jewish people of that time were not sufficiently impressed to believe him, like all the Christian people were?DSeid made an excellent post. On a more basic level: Why did not all the impoverished workers of Europe become Marxists (or why did not all the workers in Russia who were already in revolt against the Czar follow Lenin?); If FDR or Ronald Reagan swept the country so thoroughly of votes, why did they not get all the votes?

At any given time, different people will respond to different messages in different ways depending on their own preconceived views. It is highly unlikely that Jesus raised one dead person to life in every town in Roman Palestine. Anyone who heard of his "signs and wonders" would then evaluate what they had heard according to their response to the teller of the story. If the message sounded good to them, they joined up. If they were skeptical of the stories or not persuaded by the theology, they weren't going to change their beliefs.

Alessan
10-27-2001, 02:26 AM
Do you think Jesus was the only Messiah running around Judaea? We're talking about a very dark period of Jewish history, with fierce religious debate, viciously divided sects, and currupt government. The province was awash with prophets, zealots and faith healers. Christ may have been one of the more prominant ones, but he certainly wasn't unique.

Frank O. Pinion
10-27-2001, 11:48 AM
At Jesus's time, the Pharisees were the big shots of the Jewish religion. They were very, very strict and had hundreds and hundreds of rules stemming from tradition. The Pharisees were the people everyone listened to, and looked up to.
When Jesus came along, he told people that the Pharisees were wrong about their "traditions"(which were mostly highly elaborated versions of God's laws from the Old Testament), and told his followers that they didn't have to listen to the Pharisees, and that he had the authority to change the rules, while re-emphasising the meaning of the Old Testament laws. Well, you can imagine that didn't go over very well with the Pharisees. They really let him have it, but Jesus held his ground and showed them up when they tried to trick him.
By this time, the Pharisees really hated Jesus with a passion. They were furious that Jesus had such a following(which was taking away their total monopoly of religious positions), and were determined to get rid of him. When Jesus declared that he was the Son of God, they knew they had him.
The Jews had been awaiting the Messiah for a long time, ever since the Prophets of the Old Testament. However, they were expecting a military Messiah who would come along and overthrow the Romans and re-establish the kingdom of Israel. So when Jesus came along teaching obedience to both God AND the Romans(give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's), it really set off a lot of people. So now you had the Pharisees who hated him already, and the people who had realized that Jesus wasn't going to overthrow the Romans.
Another reason why more Jews didn't believe Jesus was that since the original prophecies, there had been many people who claimed to be the Messiah, and had been proven wrong. It had turned out to be either crazy people or somebody trying to get a big following for some other cause. Either way, the Jewish ruling powers had been dealing with people who claimed to be the Messiah for a long time. They assumed that Jesus was just another nut.
Now that the Pharisees hated him, a large part of his following had left after they realized that Jesus wasn't a military leader, the rest of his followers were starting to be afraid to admit they believed Jesus, including his disciples. In the meantime, the Pharisees had managed to convince the High Priest that Jesus was dangerous and threatening to him. Together, they convinced Pilate, the Roman in charge, that Jesus had threatened to overthrow the Romans, and that pretty much scared away the rest of Jesus's followers were pretty much scared off. By the time of the crucifixion, Jesus's loyal followers could be counted on a hand.
When Jesus had been ressurected, his disciples came back, abd a few of his followers came out of the woodwork. Most of the Jews had been thoroughly convinced by then that Jesus wasn't the Messiah, and they weren't going to be convinced. The Pharisees had made excuses for Jesus's ressurection, saying it never happened, that his body was stolen, etc. Christianity would slowly bring in some Jews, but really took off among the Gentiles when the message was brought to them.

C K Dexter Haven
10-27-2001, 12:05 PM
<< When Jesus came along, he told people that the Pharisees were wrong about their "traditions"(which were mostly highly elaborated versions of God's laws from the Old Testament), and told his followers that they didn't have to listen to the Pharisees, and that he had the authority to change the rules, while re-emphasising the meaning of the Old Testament laws. >>

Expanding (or reframing) slightly: Please note that Jesus actually called for a MORE STRICT reading of the laws, not less strict. Example: the law of "Thou shalt not commit adultery" was described by the Pharisees in a legalistic sense, when were sexual relationship adulterous and when not. (At the time the law was given, a man could have multiple wives, so it was not adulterous for a married man to have sex with an unmarried woman -- he could always marry her. It was only adulterous for a married woman to have sex with a man not her husband.) Where was I? Oh, yes: Jesus came along and said that it was also a sin to commit adultery in your heart -- that is, to even THINK about having sex with a married person.

Jesus' preachings all called for a HIGHER, STRICTER standard of the existing Law.

This was another reason that most Jews rejected his teachings. The law was strict enough as it was (compared to the licentiousness of the Roman overlords, for instance); to be told that it was a sin to even THINK lustful thoughts, that was too much. It was unrealistic, and God would not set unrealistic standards for human behaviours.

It was Paul who later came along and said he'd had a vision that the resurrected Jesus had changed his mind, and it was no longer important to follow the laws. This change was a major turning point for Christianity: rejecting strict Jewish law allowed the early Christians to preach to the pagans successfully, and set the schism between Christianity and Judaism.

But, of course, the main reason for rejecting Jesus as Messiah is that none of the Messianic prophecies came true. Lions weren't lying down with lambs, swords weren't being beaten into plowshears, nation was still lifting sword against nation, the dead hadn't come back to life, and the evil pagan Romans still ruled with an iron fist.

[Edited by C K Dexter Haven on 10-27-2001 at 11:08 AM]

DSeid
10-27-2001, 03:58 PM
CK speaks the truth, Frank.

It is unfortunate that the New Testament gives the Pharisees a bum rap. At the time of Christ, the Pharisees were just one of three main groups.

The Sadducees were the wealthiest and priestliest class. Their focus was on Temple ritual and they took the written word of the Bible pretty literally ... eye for an eye meant just that to them. They pretty well lost their focus after the Temple was kaput.

The Essenes were a bit of a cult order living in communes out in the desert; they believed in celibacy so it is understandable that this version did not flourish long.

The Pharisees believed that the Torah needed to be interpreted according to a tradition of Oral Law (later written as Talmud) ... the value of the eye needed to be replaced, etc. Pharisees survived the destruction of the Temple and became all of modern Jewery.

Christ had a bit of a literalist bent, although he was a practicing Pharisaic rabbi. The early followers, before Paul, followed Jewish law. Peter kept kosher. James demanded that followers be circumscised and ordered Paul to obey Jewish Law as well.

Paul had a different view of what Christ meant. A new religion was born.

kniz
10-27-2001, 04:08 PM
One unmentioned reason was the Jewish Revolt of 66A.D.. A recount of this was can be found here (http://latter-rain.com/Israel/jewar.htm). I disagree with the part about Jesus predicting the fall of the temple. Since all the gospels were written after 70 A.D. there was no problem for the writers to put the words in the mouth of Jesus.

Was Jesus not a rabbi? If he was then he was a member of the Pharisees. It was the Sadducees, who were the opponents of the Pharisees and who sent Jesus to his death.

Jesus never spoke to any Christians, since there was no such thing at the time. Even his apostles were simply followers, not Christians.

Christianity was the same then as it is today: many divergent beliefs. Paul's was just one of them albeit the one that survived.

Paul died pretty much a failure. It was Constantine who rescued Christianity and not for any revelation of faith, but to increase his power.

tomndebb
10-27-2001, 09:21 PM
Was Jesus not a rabbi? If he was then he was a member of the Pharisees.Paul died pretty much a failure. It was Constantine who rescued Christianity and not for any revelation of faith, but to increase his power.Jesus was only a rabbi in the sense that the word means teacher/expounder-on-the-word-of-God and those who followed him addressed him in that manner. He was certainly not a formal rabbi associated with a school. (In fact, the Pharisaic sect was very much responsible for the emphasis on education and the establishment of schools in even the poorest communities. Even the Gospels do not put the title "rabbi" on the lips of people other than followers of Jesus. (Excepting the exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3--in which Nicodemus is looking to become a disciple.) Much of his teaching was very much akin to the Pharisees (certainly as opposed to the Saduccees), but I think we might be stretching the point to claim that Jesus was a Pharisee (or to claim that we actually know the political details surrounding his death).)

As to Constantine "rescuing" Christianity: what would legalizing a failing sect do to increase his power? The whole notion of Constantine cynically making Christianity the state religion is based on the idea that there were huge numbers of Christians (with some amount of political power) that he could rally to his side with his declaration. If he thought that he could "get ahead" by legalizing a small, perscuted group, why did he not simply choose Judaism?

DSeid
10-28-2001, 09:54 AM
I don't know if Constantine "rescued" the faith, or if he converted to curry the favor of Christians. I doubt the latter. But, the essential concepts of Christianity as espoused by Paul, and the structure of that religion, was a great fit for the needs of the time: governing a diverse geographic and cultural empire. Judaism wouldn't have done it. Too many rules.

Judaism, like many other religions before Christianity, was a tribal religion in its focus. It was a good fit for keeping a particular group of people together and following one set of rules, cohesive in the face of a variety of outside threats (including the threat of assimilation). The concept had not been to "spread the word" and have others join the tribe. Rather the rules emphasised the seperateness from the world around them, as the means to ensure the survival of the group. The Roman empire needed a religion that could be embraced by those of diverse cultural backgrounds ... that said that you can continue to practice the same rituals that you've been doing already, and still be "one of us" if you just say that you believe, and say that these rituals are to celebrate Christ, instead of the fertility God, or the tree god, or for winter solstice, etc ... They needed a religion that supported a central power structure. Something without a lot of past baggage to be resentful about. That wasn't Judaism on any of the counts. Paul's Christianity fit.

I don't know if Constatine realized this or was just convinced of Jesus's divinity. I don't know whether or not the concept of Christianity would have taken off eventually without the Roman empire's backing. Perhaps so. But not as quickly.

DAVEW0071
10-28-2001, 12:23 PM
Not to contradict Dex's statements or appear contentious, but I would like to respond to a couple of his interpretations of Jesus's teachings and Christian thought in general. This is basically what I've been taught from the pulpit re: these statements.
Jesus came along and said that it was also a sin to commit adultery in your heart -- that is, to even THINK about having sex with a married person.

Jesus' preachings all called for a HIGHER, STRICTER standard of the existing Law.

This was another reason that most Jews rejected his teachings. The law was strict enough as it was (compared to the licentiousness of the Roman overlords, for instance); to be told that it was a sin to even THINK lustful thoughts, that was too much. It was unrealistic, and God would not set unrealistic standards for human behaviours.
From what I understand, the point of Jesus saying this is to point out that mankind, being sinful in nature, cannot live up to God's standards simply by "following rules." No matter how well you do, you'll fall short because it's in your makeup to be sinful. The illustration of even thinking lustful thoughts points this out. Jesus also said that even calling your neighbor a fool was tantamount to murdering him. Why? Because anger burning in the heart of man separates man from God. The best way I've heard of understanding this is that, for many people, sin is a wall that separates "good" people from "bad" people. But actually, it's a ceiling that separates sinful man from perfect God. No one is exempt, regardless of how well they've attempted to follow the law. Because the law exists to show us we don't and can't measure up to God's standards.
It was Paul who later came along and said he'd had a vision that the resurrected Jesus had changed his mind, and it was no longer important to follow the laws.I'm unaware of Paul teaching this. Do you have a cite?

From what I've read and been taught, Paul actually said the opposite. Romans is full of such teachings. Rom. 6:1,2,15 "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?...What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!"

Rom. 7:7,8,10-12 "What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, 'Do not covet.' But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead...I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good."

Paul's contention is that the law doesn't bring salvation. Rather, since no one can completely live up to it, it points out sin. And as every man is under God's law, and therefore under God's condemnation for the breaking of that law, then it is faith that saves, not legalistic adherence to rules.

At the same time, Paul never says to discard God's law. Rather, because we have salvation through faith, Christians should honor God's law and strive to live by it. Not because doing so will reconcile us to God, but because it brings honor to God and shows obedience to God. (This is simplistic, I know, and not meant to be an ironclad statement of Christian philosophy. My intent is to refute the contention that Paul said the law doesn't matter anymore.)

tomndebb
10-28-2001, 12:47 PM
However, Paul very definitely did argue that Gentile Christians were not bound by the Holiness Code or dietary rules of The Law (Torah), going so far as to argue the case with the elders (Acts 15) and getting in the face of Peter (Galatians 2) regarding hypocritical actions in that regard.

Silentgoldfish
10-28-2001, 01:24 PM
Sorry, I have to.

Roses are red
Violets are bluish
if it wasn't for Jesus
You'd all be Jewish

DSeid
10-28-2001, 03:19 PM
DAVE,

Also at the risk of oversimplification: the Jewish perspective was and is one of "Do the right things and you'll know God."; the Pauline Christian one was and is "Know God and you will be able to do the right things." The Jewish emphasis was on acts in this world; the Pauline doctrine on faith first and foremost.

Before Paul, we had a kosher Peter(Acts 10:14). We had James preaching the traditional Jewish emphasis that following the Law is the highest priority.

Paul (Romans 3:28) espoused that the way to God is through faith alone, and not by doing what the Law commands. That only some of the laws apply or else God is of the Jews alone.

Jewish tradition included teshuva, the opportunity for repentance for the inevitable failure to live up to all of the standards of the Law rather than God's condemnation. Paul taught that God's wrath was unavoidable unless one had faith ... that this was the purpose of the crucifixion.

DAVEW0071
10-28-2001, 04:30 PM
Originally posted by tomndebb
However, Paul very definitely did argue that Gentile Christians were not bound by the Holiness Code or dietary rules of The Law (Torah), going so far as to argue the case with the elders (Acts 15) and getting in the face of Peter (Galatians 2) regarding hypocritical actions in that regard. True. But that is nothing less than what Jesus himself taught (Matthew 15:11).

At the same time, Paul advocated being circumspect if it might cause a Christian brother to stumble, specifically not eating meat that was offered to idols. Even though Paul says there is nothing inherently wrong in doing so, if it caused a problem for someone else, he advises refraining from doing so.

I find no inconsistency in what Paul contends re: the Gentiles. In essence, the Jews were telling them, "This is a Jewish religion, therefore you must become circumcised and follow the laws of Moses to be a Christian." Paul merely pointed out that it was faith (i.e., what you believed) rather than following laws (i.e., what you did) that justified a person in God's eyes. I don't see that message changing anywhere in Paul's writings.

As to what he told Peter, he was pointing out Peter's hypocrisy, not an error in doctrine on Peter's part. The passage in Galatians refers to Peter acting like a Gentile when with the Gentiles, yet withdrawing from them and potentially alienating them in order to appear to be acting proper in front of other Jews. Peter's actions were hypocritical not because of which laws he was following or not following, but because he was inconsistent in his behavior, depending on who he was with.

DSeid, you made my point more eloquently than I could have. While the Christian faith still encourages obeying God and doing what's right, it maintains that doing so is the result of the faith which brings salvation. I find myself understanding my own religion better when I try to understand God's motive force and my own motive force. Not that I'm ever really going to get a handle on either, but I find it helps keep things in perspective.

Liberal
10-28-2001, 04:44 PM
Jesus's moral imperative is "Be perfect". His attitude toward the law is that He Himself is the fulfillment of it. Dex, it seems a bit of a stretch to call someone legalistic Who said that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Pointing out that thoughts (such as adulterous lust) can be sinful simply speaks to the true nature of sin. It isn't found in stone tablets, but in men's hearts.

kniz
10-29-2001, 02:58 AM
Originally posted by tomndebb
As to Constantine "rescuing" Christianity: what would legalizing a failing sect do to increase his power?

First let me say that DSeid did an excellent job of stating my case.

Now, I will probably get in trouble, because I can't cite anything to back me up, but...

I have read several times that Constantine chose Christianity because it made possible the idea of the Devine Right of Kings. In fact, somewhere I read that there was another religion that he favored over Christianity, but it did not catch on.

IMHO, based on some exposure to history, it seems that very few rulers have ever been really devout in their religion. They are either using it to maintain and strengthen their power or fighting against it. The Russians chose Greek Orthodox not because they saw the light, but because they were caught between Roman Catholic and Islam nations and didn't want to take sides. There was also a tribe in Russia that chose the Jewish religion because they didn't want to side with either the Greek Orthodox (Russia) or Roman Catholic Churches (Europe).

CalMeacham
10-29-2001, 08:08 AM
Let me ask a higher question:

When the Egyptians saw the River Nile turn red with Blood, and the FRogs and the LOcusts and the rest of the plgues, the Rod turning into a staff, the pillars of Fire and Smoke, and the parting of the Red Sea (or whatever translation you opt for) with the subsequent closing and destruction of their forces, why didn't they all become Jewish?

The fact that Exodus and the Christain gospels were written by people who were partisans for one side with a goal of making their side look good, and maybe getting converts as well, must make the objective reader wary about their veracity. Maybe things didn't really happen the way they were written down. People have gone as far as to doubt even the existence of Jesus, and to seriously question all of the events in Exodus outside of the existence of a Hebrew contingent that came out of Egypt.

The Mick
10-29-2001, 07:31 PM
I'm sure someone's already brought this up, but I doubt there were Christians in the organized religion sense when Jesus was alive. AFAIK, the faith started after the resurrection of Jesus after the 3 days.

C K Dexter Haven
10-29-2001, 11:54 PM
<< Dex, it seems a bit of a stretch to call someone legalistic Who said that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Pointing out that thoughts (such as adulterous lust) can be sinful simply speaks to the true nature of sin. It isn't found in stone tablets, but in men's hearts. >>

I never used the word "legalistic." I said that Jesus called for a stricter (read: higher) standard than what the Pharisees had set.

DAVEW0071
10-30-2001, 07:48 AM
Originally posted by The Mick
I'm sure someone's already brought this up, but I doubt there were Christians in the organized religion sense when Jesus was alive. AFAIK, the faith started after the resurrection of Jesus after the 3 days. Probably not even then. The way I read Acts, the disciples were pretty clueless right up to the point of the Ascension, since they were standing around gaping up at the sky like turkeys in a rainstorm when the angel told them to get moving.

Even at Pentecost, 40 or so days later, when the Holy Spirit descended on them, allowing them to preach in tongues, they weren't "organized" in the sense that they had codified their creed and established a church hierarchy. The need to become organized is dealt with slightly in Acts 6, when the need for the appointing of deacons (for lack of a better word) arises. This continues throughout the First Century, as churches are established in Greece and other areas further from Israel.

kniz
10-30-2001, 01:22 PM
Originally posted by Libertarian
Jesus's moral imperative is "Be perfect". His attitude toward the law is that He Himself is the fulfillment of it.

In Mark 10 it says: "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone."