Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Art that falsifies biblical history and reinforce the divide between Christians and Jews

I discovered, with Renaissance images of Jesus, his family and followers. In one respect a vast trove of Renaissance artworks inspire devotion and intensify faith in Christianity. On another level, though, they falsify biblical history and reinforce the divide between Christians and Jews, which has had lethal consequences for Jews over many centuries. The falsifications were all the more compelling because they were made subtly, by omission. What has been omitted is Jesus' Jewish identity. You can walk through gallery after gallery in museums around the world, as I have, and you will rarely see any evidence that Jesus was a Jew or had any connection to Judaism or to the Middle East where he was born and where he preached. Indeed, he is typically pictured as Northern European in appearance, with fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. And you will likely find him and his family and followers in regal attire, in palatial Renaissance settings, surrounded by symbols of a religion -- Christianity -- that didn't exist during his lifetime. Read the complete article at -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernard-starr/art-can-inspire-faith-it_b_7837456.html

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Yeshua Movement and First Century Judaism

The movement Jesus eventually forged had attractions for those who identified with the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes or Zealots. Jesus had his share of sympathizers even among the Pharisees. Under the reign of Jesus’s brother James, large numbers of Pharisees identified with the movement that John the Baptizer and Jesus had inaugurated. As surprising as it sounds to modern ears, there were in fact Nazarene or “Christian Pharisees” – and lots of them. Luke reveals that “large numbers: of Sadducean priests in Jerusalem became part of the movement even though Jesus seems to the least in common with the Sadducees. Even though the Essenes had a much more rigid interpretation of the Torah than Jesus, there were surely some who must have identified with the apocalyptic excitement that John the Baptizer and Jesus began to ignite all over the country. When we grasp the history, core values, and mythological world of this movement we will be able to place Jesus properly within the incredible diversity of 1st century Palestinian Judaism. (SOURCE: The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity by James D. Tabor © 2006; Simon & Shuster, New York, NY; pp. 120-121.)

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The Four Religious Sects

Four religious sects or parties existed in Israel at that time: the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Herodians. The most prominent were the Pharisees and Sadducees.  The Pharisees were the most popular sect; their main focus was on the primacy of the Torah, and their leaders were the expert interpreters of the Torah. The most conservative Sadducees, who represented an older establishment of priests, aristocrats, and wealthier merchants, had less influence on the religious views of the larger community, but they dominated the Temple worship and the Sanhedrin, the central religious council based in the Temple.  The other two sects were the Essenes, a pious brotherhood of separatists, who lived in isolated monastic communities in the desert, and the Herodians, a religious party allied to Herod the Great.

SOURCE: The Life and Teachings of Hillel by Yitzhak Buxbaum (Jason Aronson, Inc., Northvale, NJ; 1973); pp. 9-10.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Some Stats Every Christian Should Ponder

Ponder is defined as “to consider something deeply and thoroughly; weigh carefully in the mind; consider thoughtfully.”[1] Something I have done a lot of pondering about began when I became aware of the stats below.

(1) Christians trace the beginning of their religion to Jesus, the founder of a small Jewish sect in Palestine in 30 CE.

(2) In 1970, there were 1,130,000,000 affiliated Christians who belonged to 1,449,600 congregations/churches of 18,630 denominations / paradenominations.[2] Paradenominations have existed since the 19th century, operating alongside denominations, crossing boundaries and enabling joint efforts between various groups.[3]

(3) In 2000, there were 1,888,000.000 affiliated Christians who belonged to 3,447,900 congregations/churches of 33,820 denominations / paradenominations.[4]

(4) In 2000 there were 322 Baptist denominations alone.[5]

Some things to ponder:

(1) How did a single exclusively Jewish sect in Palestine become 33,820 denominations / paradenominations with members from around the globe?

(2) Why do 33,820 denominations / paradenominations exist?

(3) What beliefs do the 33,820 denominations / paradenominations share?

(4) What beliefs separate the 33,820 denominations / paradenominations?

(5) Does the existence of 33,820 denominations / paradenominations strengthen or weaken Christianity?

(6) Is this the vision Jesus had for his group?

If you would like to share your ponderings, post them on this blog or email them to me (click here).

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Jim Myers

[2] World Christian Trends AD 30 – AD 2200 By David B. Barrett & Todd M. Johnson, © 2001 by David B. Barrett;  William Carey Library, Pasadena, CA; p. 33.
[4] World Christian Trends AD 30 – AD 2200; p. 33.
[5] World Christian Trends AD 30 – AD 2200; p. 390.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Being Right vs. Acting Righteously

My friend and TOV Center Partner, Jim Myers, received a 6 page list of Biblical quotes in a reaction to his blog about the Real Yeshua -- Jesus the Jewish teacher. I noticed after reading through this huge list, that the point of the writer was to convince and prove his "RIGHTNESS." This sense of "RIGHTNESS" is something I've experienced my entire life. Many people are absolutely sure that what they "BELIEVE" is "RIGHT!" So many expend their energy on defending their BS (Belief System), some even go to the point of killing others. The real crime, however, is that they ignore and do not practice the Values and Lessons that the Jewish Jesus taught – and are clearly recorded in those same Scriptures. Read Rabbi Leynor’s blog at -- http://tovcenter.blogspot.com/2015/06/being-right-vs-acting-righteously.html

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Relationships of the Israelite Religion, Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity

For the past 30 years I have been engaged in research about the Jewish Yeshua (Jesus) and the evolution of Christianity from a Jewish sect to a universal Gentile religion. The work of Dr. David Flusser had played an important role in my work. David Flusser (b. 09/15/1917 – d. 09/15/2000) was a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem where he taught Judaism in the Second Temple Period and Early Christianity. He was a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Flusser published over 1,000 articles in Hebrew, German, English, and other languages. His work was rewarded by the State of Israel in 1980 with the Israel Prize.

His famous book, Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (© 1988 Magnes Press, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel), is a valuable resource for anyone studying the Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity. I use it regularly in my work. Today, while working on something, I came across two passages that I believe are very important. I encourage you to read them a couple of times, and then seriously consider the implications of Flusser’s words. I added underlines to stress specific points.

The latter-day Judaism as well as Christianity did not evolve from the religion of Israel in the Old Testament, but from the Jewish religiosity that flourished during the intertestamental period. This type of religiosity is no longer identical with the creed reflected in the Old Testament. The investigation of this type of religiosity can lead us to warranted conclusions only if we pay due attention to the diverse trends and movements within Judaism of the Second Commonwealth. By encompassing all these data we shall realize that in spite of all the respective shades of difference among the groups and sects, we can, on the one hand, formulate ideas and attitudes, trends and approaches common to them all which, on the other hand, distinguish them all clearly from the world of thought and belief that prevails in the Old Testament. (p. 471)

The Jewish origin of Christianity is an historical fact. It is also clear that Christianity constituted a new community, distinct from Judaism. Thus, Christianity is in the peculiar position of being a religion which, because of its Jewish roots, is obligated to be occupied with Judaism, while a Jew can fully live his Jewish religious life without wrestling with the problems of Christianity. (p. 617)

From its very beginnings, Christianity understood itself more or less as the heir of Judaism and its true expression, at the same time that it knew itself to have come into existence through the special grace of Christ. As the vast majority of Jews did not agree with their Christian brethren in this claim, Christianity became a religion of Gentiles to whom, from the second century on, it was forbidden to fulfill the commandments of the Law of Moses –- a book which was, at the same time, a part of their Holy Scriptures.  (p. 617)

Already then the majority of Christians thought that the Jewish way of life was forbidden even to those Jews who had embraced Christianity, an attitude which later became the official position of the Church. While anti-Semitism existed before Christianity, Christian anti-Judaism was far more virulent and dangerous. The latter rejected most of the motifs of Greco-Roman anti-Semitism, as these were used also against Christians, but invented new arguments. Most of these existed as early as the first century – some of them have their roots already in the New Testament – and by the second century we can recognize more or less clearly the whole direction of Christian anti-Judaism. (p. 617)

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Jim Myers

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

History of the Name "Jesus"

The history of the name “Jesus” begins in the Torah in the account in which Yahweh commanded Moses to choose one man from each of the twelve tribes to spy out the land of Canaan.

Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea[1] the son of Nun . . . These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Yehoshua.[2]

The root word of Hoshea is HOSHUA, which means "salvation." It is important to understand that "salvation" in the Hebrew Scriptures or the Jewish culture did not mean “go to Heaven after death.” It meant “being delivered from some danger or threat.” When Moses changed Hoshea to Yehoshua the meaning of the name changed to "Yahweh-is-Salvation." When the spies reported back to Moses ten of them delivered the following report:

“The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”[3]

But two of the spies, Yehoshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Yephunneh, delivered another message:

“The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If Yahweh delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against Yahweh, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and Yahweh is with us. Do not fear them.”[4]

By the 5th Century BCE the name Yehoshua was shortened to Yeshua:

Those who came with Zerubbabel were Yeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.[5] 

So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Yeshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness.[6]

By the 1st century CE, probably due to Hellenistic influence, Yeshua was shortened to Y'shua. In the Greek New Testament, the name Yeshua appears two times as Iesous:

Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Iesous into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David.[7]

For if Iesous had given them rest, then he would not afterward have spoken of another day.[8]

In 382 Jerome made a Latin translation of the Christian Scriptures called the “Vulgate,” or “common Bible.” Jerome translated the Greek word Iesous as Iesus. The Latin spelling and pronunciation of Iesus dominated the Western Christian world for almost 1,000 years.[9]

The Norman invasion of 1066 introduced the letter "j" to England but the sound of the letter did not exist in the Old English language until the early 1200's. In 1384, John Wycliffe made the first English translation of the New Testament from Latin. He preserved the Latin spelling and pronunciation of Iesus.[10]

The letter “Jwas first distinguished from “'I” by the Frenchman Pierre Ramus (1515 – August 26, 1572) in the 16th century. Ramus was an influential French humanist, logician, and educational reformer. He was a Protestant convert who was killed during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.[11] The “J” did not become common in Modern English until the 17th century. Early 17th century works, such as the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible (1611), continued to print the name Iesus.[12] Soon, the hard "J" sound started to replace male names that began with I or Y -- Iames became James, Iakob became Jacob, Yohan became John, and Iesus became Jesus.

It should be noted that in the Talmud (6th century CE) the name Yeshu is used instead of Yeshua. It is an acronym for yemach shmo u'zikro, which means "may his name be blotted out."[13] This clearly reflects the growing conflict between Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism.

The word “Jesus” did not appear in an English Bible until after the King James Version was published. No one in the first 1,500 years of the Yeshua Movement or Christianity called him “Jesus.” When we return to the name he called himself – Yeshua – we begin the process of viewing him and his words in his Jewish culture.

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Jim Myers