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  #1  
Old 10-25-2004, 07:23 PM
WeRSauron WeRSauron is offline
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Jesus

In his book The Religion of Jesus the Jew, Geza Vermes deals with the so-called antitheses. These are verses in the Bible wherein Jesus is said to invoke a Mosaic law or directive and then proceed to replace that law with one of his own. A good example of this is the law that prohibits adultery, which Jesus replaces with forbidding adulterous thoughts. Vermes attempts to show that rather than replacing the old law, Jesus was attempting to elaborate on the Law or emphasize some of the inner aspects of the Law. As such, the Law prohibits adultery, and Jesus attempts to elaborate on it by stating that this includes adulterous thoughts/desires/fantasies. This goes to defeat one argument (among many) that Jesus intended to do away with, replace, or abrogate the Mosaic Law.

One argument that Vermes does not include is that of Jesus potentially attempting to build a fence around the Law. This fence-building is an important aspect of Jewish jurisprudence.

As it is written:
"Moses received Torah from Sinai, and passed it to Joshua, and Joshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets passed it to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: be deliberate in judgment, make many students, and make a fence for/around the Torah" (Chapters of the Fathers/Pirqei Avos 1:1).

Evidently many past and current halakhic rulings were motivated by this creating a fence around the Torah ("seyag latorah").

So, if one assumes that Jesus believed in, upheld, and followed the Mosaic Law, and believed in its permanence and endurance (a la "Ani ma'amin be'emunah sh'lemah, shezot hatorah lo t'he muchlefet v'lo t'he torah acheret meet habore yitbarakh sh'mo," even though this formulation came later), could it be said that one possible motivation for the so-called antitheses may have been Jesus' desire to create a fence around the Torah to prevent its violation?

WRS
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  #2  
Old 10-25-2004, 07:24 PM
WeRSauron WeRSauron is offline
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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! The title is supposed to be "Jesus' Antitheses - Could they be his attempt to build a fence around the Torah?"

My finger hit the "Enter" key instead of the apostrophe.

Grrrrrrrrrr.

Hmmmmmm. Wonder if this is a sign.

WRS
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  #3  
Old 10-25-2004, 08:03 PM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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  #4  
Old 10-26-2004, 05:10 PM
foolsguinea foolsguinea is offline
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Well, yeah, probably. Then go listen to a Xtian fundamentalist talk about how "God gave the Jews 10 laws, & they couldn't even keep those, so now we have grace."
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  #5  
Old 10-26-2004, 05:40 PM
WeRSauron WeRSauron is offline
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Thanks, Czarcasm. If you can raise the dead too, you may want to check out starting your own religion. :-)

Thanks for the comment foolsguinea. Whereas Jesus probably would not have been part of a movement that gave birth to Rabbinic Judaism after the destruction of the Second Temple, I think the case can be made that Jesus was simply a Jewish preacher/teacher/charismatic leader, whose followers misunderstood him and formulated a whole new doctrine and faith (particularly when Jesus' followers became Hellenized). As such, Jesus' teachings died even before the Teacher of Righteousness's (the ToR was the founder of the Qumran sect, often called the Essenes) did.

WRS
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  #6  
Old 10-26-2004, 07:31 PM
JMS@CCT JMS@CCT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeRSauron
In his book The Religion of Jesus the Jew, Geza Vermes deals with the so-called antitheses. These are verses in the Bible wherein Jesus is said to invoke a Mosaic law or directive and then proceed to replace that law with one of his own. A good example of this is the law that prohibits adultery, which Jesus replaces with forbidding adulterous thoughts. Vermes attempts to show that rather than replacing the old law, Jesus was attempting to elaborate on the Law or emphasize some of the inner aspects of the Law. As such, the Law prohibits adultery, and Jesus attempts to elaborate on it by stating that this includes adulterous thoughts/desires/fantasies. This goes to defeat one argument (among many) that Jesus intended to do away with, replace, or abrogate the Mosaic Law.

One argument that Vermes does not include is that of Jesus potentially attempting to build a fence around the Law. This fence-building is an important aspect of Jewish jurisprudence.

As it is written:
"Moses received Torah from Sinai, and passed it to Joshua, and Joshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets passed it to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: be deliberate in judgment, make many students, and make a fence for/around the Torah" (Chapters of the Fathers/Pirqei Avos 1:1).

Evidently many past and current halakhic rulings were motivated by this creating a fence around the Torah ("seyag latorah").

So, if one assumes that Jesus believed in, upheld, and followed the Mosaic Law, and believed in its permanence and endurance (a la "Ani ma'amin be'emunah sh'lemah, shezot hatorah lo t'he muchlefet v'lo t'he torah acheret meet habore yitbarakh sh'mo," even though this formulation came later), could it be said that one possible motivation for the so-called antitheses may have been Jesus' desire to create a fence around the Torah to prevent its violation?

WRS

Matthew 5:17,18,19 clearly establishes that Christ didn't remove the observation of the law as a requirement for his followers. He didn't replace the law, but rather, as you have observed, magnified it. Anyone who takes Matthew chapter 5 as a literal statement, must concede that it is one of the most severe codes of human conduct ever. In chapter 6 he tells the disciples that they are to "take no thought" for what they will eat, where they will sleep, what they will wear, which I take to mean: "we only have a short time together, because I'm going to depart--soon---so I need your absolute, undivided attention, therefore forget about everything you've heretofore paid attention to, including your family, friends--everything. I just don't need your bodies, I need your minds." By chapter 19 the requirements had become so unattainable that it drew the question from the disciples in verse 25: "who then can be saved?"

The idea--perpetrated by the Christian establishment--that the reason Jesus came was to "show how we ought to live," and that these requirements were written for the obedience of people today, who claim to be followers of Jesus, is ridiculous.
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Old 10-26-2004, 07:44 PM
elucidator elucidator is offline
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Seems to me, just speaking as someone who doesn't know what he's talking about, that Jesus is raising the importance of repetence, that no crime is permanent, that no breach with grace is irreversible.

Hence, if you stone to death the woman taken in adultery, she has no opportunity to repent and seek forgiveness. This places the Law above God, in the sense that it denies God the capacity to forgive. This would be rather like God creating a rock he cannot move.
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Old 10-26-2004, 08:29 PM
WeRSauron WeRSauron is offline
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That whole episode of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery is one which is often considered suspect according to modern translations of the New Testament. And for good reason. From what I have read, Jewish authorities were very, very reluctant to enforce the death penalty for a violation of the Torah. I do not think there is any justification in believing that Jewish authorities were wont to stone wanton women and other violators of the Torah, which the episode seems to suggest. It just may be that the episode involves a group of ultra-zealous Jews (which would not be out of place in Second Temple Judaism), or it may simply be an invention of the Hellenized Church against Jews. (Vermes gives ample reasons why the Hellenized Church can be considered to be anti-Jewish: Jesus' followers were pretty Jewish and Jew-friendly until they began preaching to and receiving converts from the Gentiles. This caused a rift (evidence of which is in the New Testament) between Gentile followers and Jewish followers, the latter which wanted to keep the Torah and the former who wanted to not adopt the Torah. Eventually, the Gentiles won, and they turned from a Jewish group to a Gentile group, complete with change of theology, doctrine, beliefs, etc.)

Jesus' answers to tests put to him are, I must admit, amazing. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." The message wasn't that only God should punish sinners (although maybe it is) but that sinners, which every human is, should not be so zealous in rooting out sin in other people. Parallel to the mote in thy brother's eye and beam in thy own.

WRS
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His Dread Lordship SAURON ANNATAR GORTHAUR
By the Grace of MELKOR: the Dark Lord of Middle-earth, the Lord of the Rings, the Flaming Eye, the Nine-Fingered Sovereign, the Chief of the Maiar, the Challenger of the Valar, the Terror of All Sentient Beings, Lover of Truffles and Dainty Chocolates.
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  #9  
Old 10-27-2004, 08:32 AM
JMS@CCT JMS@CCT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elucidator
Seems to me, just speaking as someone who doesn't know what he's talking about, that Jesus is raising the importance of repetence, that no crime is permanent, that no breach with grace is irreversible.

Hence, if you stone to death the woman taken in adultery, she has no opportunity to repent and seek forgiveness. This places the Law above God, in the sense that it denies God the capacity to forgive. This would be rather like God creating a rock he cannot move.
The message in this famous and oft preached on passage (John 8:1-11), is not about repenting of sin(s). Obviously, the woman knew she was guilty of the sin, because she didn't defend herself, but notice that Jesus didn't demand a confession from her. His purpose is not to correct her--he realizes she's sorry for the sin--but rather to point out that sin is not an action, it is a universal condition of mankind ("he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her"). In Mark 7:15-23, he establishes this in the statement that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but rather it is what is in his heart. This is well established in OT passages like Jeremiah 17:9; Ps. 39:5; et. al.; and in Romans 3:23 and 512: "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God...by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."

Man's remedy for sin is religion: confess, repent, confess, repent, confess, repent, ad. infinitum. No amount of confessing and repenting is ever going to change man's nature, and therefore cannot satisfy God's demand for sin: death. The only thing that can satisfy this demand is grace: "Where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more. These are the most comforting words anyone could ever hear. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus....who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Romans 8:1,34)
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  #10  
Old 11-01-2004, 03:36 PM
WeRSauron WeRSauron is offline
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One thing I found out recently that throws the whole issue in a different light. Although I have yet to verify it, it seems that Geza Vermes is a Jew who became a Christian then reverted to Judaism. Perhaps he has an agenda with this book, to show how Christianity does not follow what and who Jesus really was and what he really believed and taught. Very interestingly, Vermes often calls Jesus "the Master" in his book, which very few Jews or scholars would in a scholarly book.

WRS
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His Dread Lordship SAURON ANNATAR GORTHAUR
By the Grace of MELKOR: the Dark Lord of Middle-earth, the Lord of the Rings, the Flaming Eye, the Nine-Fingered Sovereign, the Chief of the Maiar, the Challenger of the Valar, the Terror of All Sentient Beings, Lover of Truffles and Dainty Chocolates.
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