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)

If you found this information useful, please let us know by going to The Real Yeshua Facebook page by CLICKING HERE and “Like it.” 

Shalom,

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.

If you found this information useful, please let us know by going to The Real Yeshua Facebook page by CLICKING HERE and “Like it.” 

If you consider this information valuable enough to help me fund my work – take a moment to make a donation now by CLICKING HERE. Any amount will help, no matter how small.

Shalom,
Jim Myers


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Today is Shavuot aka Pentecost


Shavuot began on May 23 and ends on May 25. In Judaism it is known as the "Feast of Weeks" and in Christianity it is called “Pentecost.” In The Torah Shavuot is mentioned in connection with Passover and with bringing offerings from the harvest.  “You shall count off seven weeks [from Passover]…then you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, offering your freewill contribution according to how Adonai your God has blessed you.” (Deut. 16:10). During the Temple Period, two additions were made to the observance of Shavuot.  First, the priests would make a special offering of two loaves of bread on behalf of the nation.  Bread was an unusual offering, since it is made by human hands.  In general, offerings were animals or grain, raw materials coming directly from the earth to God.  This offering of bread, representing a human-Divine partnership in giving food to the world, would soon become important in the rabbis’ radical re-interpretation of Shavuot. The second special feature of Shavuot during the Temple period was the bringing of first fruits of the harvest, fruits of any of the seven species, to the Temple.  Each family travelled to Jerusalem, carrying their first fruits, to make a special offering at the Temple. Read the complete article at -- http://www.heschel.org/page.cfm?p=445

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise’s Sermon at Synagogue on Jewish Jesus Causes a Storm

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise gave this sermon in late December 1925 and it set off a storm of protests in Jewish communities. 

“Jesus of Nazareth is not a myth as He has been pictured in Hebrew teachings, but was a man . . . The very foundations of morality are contained in the unparalleled code of ethics which comprises the teachings of Jesus.”



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Salvation Message of the Real Yeshua

What must one do to be saved? The answers to that question reveal the answer to another question – What does it mean to be a “Christian?” – that have been given over the past 2,000 years. Interestingly, the one answer that I have not been able to find among all of those is the answer given by the Real Yeshua. Why?

Have you ever worked on your genealogy?  I have been the family genealogist for a long time and love searching for and finding ancestors. I want to introduce you to a new term – memealogy or memeology. Remember this word because in the very near future it is going to revolutionize the way you understand Belief Systems.

In 1976 Richard Dawkins introduced the world to “memes” in his book The Selfish Gene. To emphasize commonality with genes, Dawkins coined the term "meme," which comes from a Greek word[i] that means "something imitated."[ii]

A meme is a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events such that more copies of it are created in other minds.[iii]  A gene is the unit of genetic heredity and a meme is the unit of memetic heredity.[iv] Memes are units of information that exist only in the human mind.

Memes are the thoughts we share with others that are reproduced in their minds. They have histories which can be traced just like genes. They also evolve as they are passed from mind to mind and when we place this information in chronological order it paints a very interesting picture. If you haven’t read my earlier blog – How We Received the Words of Jesus – I recommend that you take time to read it and study the two graphics before you continue.

Before I discuss Yeshua’s salvation message, it is important for you to understand the following:

(1) He was speaking to a Jewish audience.

(2) He was speaking to them about a Jewish subject they completely understood.

(3) It was a message for Jews about their salvation.

(4) It was not a message to non-Jews about their salvation.

Now let’s look at Yeshua’s salvation message. Every Christian probably knows the following words very well – they just don’t understand that it was Yeshua’s salvation message. His message is found in Matthew 25:31-46 (the format will be different from your Bible):

Narrator:         When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory and before him shall be gathered all nations. He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. He shall set the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.

Narrator:         To those on the right:

King:               Come, you (plural) blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. (I was) naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me.

Right:              Master, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and gave you a drink? When did we see you (as) a stranger and took thee in, or naked and clothed you? Or when did we see you sick or in prison and came to you?

King:               Amen! I say to you, inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me.

Narrator:         To those on the left:

King:               Go from me you cursed into the eternal fire, having been prepared for the devil and his angels, because I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger and you did not take me in; naked and you clothed me not; sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.

Left:                Master, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or as stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?

King:               Amen! I say unto you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.

Narrator:         The ones on the left shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous (ones on the right) shall go into life eternal.

What did the ones on the right do that those on the left did not do?

(1) Gave food to those who were hungry.

(2) Gave drink to those who were thirsty.

(3) Gave shelter to a stranger.

(4) Provided clothes for those who needed clothing.

(5) Visited those who were sick.

(6) Visited those who were in prison.

Those who did the above things entered into eternal life, while those who did not went away into eternal punishment. The people on the right were saved from eternal punishment during the Great Day of Judgment. A lot of people leave off the ending – eternal punishment or eternal life -- and mistakenly view the message as a poverty program.

But Yeshua and his Jewish audience understood that these are not merely humanitarian acts. They are rooted in the divine command to love Yahweh. Each act done by those on the right was an act of SHALOM – a subject that was well known by the Jewish audience.

Yeshua -- “Blessed are the SHALOM makers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who purse TZEDAQAH (righteousness), for they are the kingdom of God.”[v]

Hillel -- “Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving SHALOM and pursuing SHALOM, loving your fellow-creatures, and drawing them near to the Torah.”[vi]

Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel“On three things the world is sustained: on truth, on judgment, and on SHALOM, as it is it says (Zechariah 8:16): `Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make SHALOM.’"

SHALOM is usually translated “peace,” which English speakers interpret to mean “the absence of war or strife.”  The Hebrew word SHALOM means something very different.

SHALOM is the state of wholeness and completeness.[vii]

The three quotes above agree that SHALOM is God’s highest priority.  “Making SHALOM” means “make the lives of people you encounter in your daily life whole and complete when you see they are not whole and complete.” A hungry person’s life can be made more whole and complete when you give him or her food. The list of things Yeshua gave in his message – food, water, clothing, etc. – doesn’t mean that these are the only things that people will be judged for. His audience clearly understood the message to mean that when one becomes aware of a lack of wholeness and completeness in the lives of others – make SHALOM!

They also knew that Yeshua was simply repeating a lesson that is found throughout the Jewish Scriptures and that “making SHALOM” was synonymous with “love.” It should also be noted that the Bible taught people to do acts of “love,” even when the word “love” itself does not appear in the text – and love isn’t done just for one’s friends.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and Yahweh will reward you. (Prov. 25:21)

If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey (which has) gone astray, you shall bring (it) back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under his burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it, you shall help him lift it up. (Ex. 23:4).

It is precisely in such deeds of love that the command to love Yahweh and love your neighbor can be seen in a proper perspective – love is the norm that the Creator expects of the creatures He made in His image.

After the crucifixion something new happened to Yeshua’s movement – non-Jews learned about it and wanted to join it. Pay close attention to the account recorded in Acts 15:1-21 (Jacob is the brother of Yeshua who is usually called “James”):

Narrator:         And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brothers.

Judeans:          Unless you are circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved.

Narrator:         Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and arguments with them (the brothers) and determined that Paul, Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being sent on their way by the congregation, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling in detail the conversion of the nations, and caused great joy to all the brothers. And when they came to Jerusalem, they were received by the congregation, apostles and elders. They reported what God did with them.

Narrator:         Some of the ones from the sect of the Pharisees who believed stood up.

Pharisees:       It is necessary to circumcise them, to command them to keep the Law of Moses, and for the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

Narrator:         There was a great deal of arguing.

Peter:              Men and brothers, you understand that from the old days, God chose among us, that through my mouth the nations should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, who knows the hearts, witnessed to them giving them the Holy Spirit, as he did unto us; and put no distinction between us and them, by faith purifying their hearts. Now therefore, why do you test God, to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But through the grace of the Master Jesus we believe to be saved in the same was as those also.

Narrator:         Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had worked among the nations through them.

Jacob:              Men and brothers, listen to me. Simeon has declared how God at the first did visit the nations, to take out of them a people for his name. The words of the Prophets agree, as it is written:

After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up, that the rest of men might seek after the Lord, and all the nations, upon whom my name is called, says the Lord, who does all these things.

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is:

We trouble not the ones from among the nations who are turning to God. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, from fornication, from things strangled, and from blood, because Moses from ancient generations has in every city the ones proclaiming him, being read in the synagogues every Shabbat.

Keep in mind that purpose of this meeting was to answer this question -- What must non-Jews do to be saved? The members of Yeshua’s movement who were also Pharisees argued that they must be circumcised, which meant the non-Jews must convert and become Jews. Jacob, as the leader of Yeshua’s Movement ruled that the only requirements that should be placed on non-Jews are these:

(1) abstain from pollutions of idols

(2) abstain from fornication

(3) abstain from (eating) things strangled

(4) abstain from (eating) blood

(5) keep the Shabbat

Most people miss the last requirement, but in Greek it is clear from the statement “because Moses from ancient generations has in every city the ones proclaiming him, being read in the synagogues every Shabbat.” This reveals another interesting point about conversion to Judaism. Before anyone can convert to Judaism, they must be taught about Judaism and demonstrate they understand they lifestyle they will be living as a Jew. This is reflected in Jacob’s decree – the non-Jews will be attending a synagogue every Shabbat and hearing the Law of Moses read and discussed. I have little doubt that he expected many of them to convert when they understood the Law of Moses that Yeshua taught and lived. They would also understand what his salvation message meant.

Many of the non-Jews that were showing up were followers of Paul, a man that declared that he had received the only true Gospel from Yeshua after the crucifixion – a Gospel that no other apostle had been given. He also declared that he had also been appointed to be an apostle – even though no other apostles knew anything about it. The new meme he introduced was his salvation message – one must believe that it was through the resurrected that Yeshua became the Christ. Paul replaced the requirement for salvation -- “making SHALOM” -- with “believing what he said about Yeshua.” In other words, “right beliefs” replaced “right acts.” The Real Yeshua would not have agreed with Paul!

New memes would emerge over the next 2,000 years. Keep in mind that these were not part of the Real Yeshua’s message, but many became requirements for “salvation” in Christian churches (the number is the year they appeared). I will also switch to the term “Jesus Christ”:

● 325 – Jesus Christ and God are from the same substance.

381 – There is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. 

● 418 -- The Doctrine of Original Sin adopted.

● 451 -- The Doctrine of the Trinity adopted.

● 1215 -- There is only one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.

● 1525 -- The Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God; the only source for Christian doctrine; and, it is accessible to all. The Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself. Justification, being declared right by God and saved, is received by faith alone, without any mixture of or need for good works. Salvation comes only by God's grace or "unmerited favor." Salvation is accomplished solely through His will and action and those who will be saved were determined at the time of the creation.

1560 -- God saves every person upon whom he has mercy, and that his efforts are not frustrated by the unrighteousness or inability of humans; people are not by nature inclined to love God but rather to serve their own interests and to reject the rule of God; God has chosen from eternity those whom he will bring to himself; and, atonement is intended for some and not all.

1600 -- Rejected the pre-existence of Christ; Jesus Christ did not exist until he was conceived of the virgin birth; humans are created mortal in the beginning and would have died naturally whether Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree or not; rejected the doctrine of original sin; rejected the view that the death of Jesus was the atonement of sin; God's omniscience was limited to what would definitely happen and did not apply to what might happen).

1610 -- Salvation and condemnation enabled by the faith or unbelief of man; the Atonement is limited to only those who trust in Christ; unaided by the Holy Spirit no person is able to respond to God's will; man may resist the Holy Spirit; and, believers are able to resist sin through grace, and Christ will keep them from falling.

1689 -- Once Saved, Always Saved (once persons are truly "born of God" or "regenerated" nothing in heaven or earth "shall be able to separate them from the love of God").

● 1727 -- Free grace, free salvation, free will, the Bible is the very word of God without error in all that it affirms, conditional eternal security, voluntary tithing, totally abstention from alcoholic beverages, no work on Sunday, and rejected the doctrine of "once saved always saved."

● 1727 -- The Bible is the inspired word of God; there is One God eternally existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; salvation came by grace through faith in Christ, a free gift bestowed by God on those who repent and believe; Christians should live as brothers; Church is to be separate from the State and committed to peace; a lifestyle of discipleship, good works service and holy living; and, if good works outweighed the bad works God will allows a person to go to heaven.

● 1745 – The distinguishing proof of salvation is a personal religious experience of overpowering emotions.

1895 – The essential requirements for salvation are belief is the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, the Atonement of Jesus for human sins, the physical Resurrection of Jesus, the imminent return of Jesus to earth, and the inerrancy of Scripture. 

Literally thousands of answers to the question of salvation have come from Christian leaders and institutions over the past 2,000 years – just look at the Christian memealogy. The question that Christians usually ask after becoming aware of the memealogy is – Where do we go from here? 

My answer is – Why not just do what the Real Yeshua taught? Regardless of what one’s theology is or isn't – if people committed to “making SHALOM” the world will become a better place for many people and the lives of those making SHALOM will be more fulfilled.

Shalom,
Jim Myers

If you found this information useful, please let us know by going to The Real Yeshua Facebook page by CLICKING HERE and “Like it.” 

If you consider this information valuable enough to help me fund my work – take a moment to make a donation now by CLICKING HERE. Any amount will help, no matter how small.



[i] μιμήμα (mimema)
[ii] mnema (mnema)
[iii] Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme by Richard Brodie © 1996; Hays House, Inc., New York, NY; p. 11.
[iv] Virus of the Mind; p. 6.
[v] Matthew 5:9-10
[vi] Avot 1:12

Thursday, May 7, 2015

How We Received the Words of Jesus

Jesus wasn't an American who lived in the 21st century and spoke native English to his audience. He wasn't a Christian and didn't attend a church every Sunday. Based on what we know from the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus was a Jew who lived in the 1st century, spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, practiced Judaism, attended a synagogue every Shabbat and engaged in rituals at the Jerusalem Temple. This is very important information to know when our goal is to linguistically understand the words of Jesus. Read the complete article at -- http://bhcbiblestudies.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-we-received-words-of-jesus.html



Accurately Understanding the Words of the Bible