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Showing posts from July, 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 -- Chr…

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 di…

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.