In “The Pharisee, the Potion, and the Poison of Anti-Semitism,” I examined further the fallibility of man contrasted with the perfection of the LORD Jesus Christ with reference to the question whether Christianity has caused more harm than good. I was asked by “YourPhariseeFriend,” Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal: “Why do you consider only the nice things that Jesus said. To quote the Rabbi: “he (Jesus) said pretty nasty things as well – presenting them to an audience hostile to Jews and to Judaism – you have to be blind to deny Jesus’ evil influence on the history of Europe…”
In this post, I present Rabbi Blumenthal’s response to “The Pharisee, the Potion and the Poison of Anti-semitism” followed by my response to him.
September 26, 2010
I do not see much material worthy of a response – you make assumptions about what I believe that have no basis in reality – you are responding to points that I made without trying to understand what I meant – but in any case – I will try to help you understand the point I was making about the negative influence of the Christian Scriptures.
You focus on the question: “Did Jesus actually say this” – I think that your question is irrelevant – I am focusing on the book of Matthew – in that book there is a character called Jesus – the Jesus of Matthew’s book will change according to the readership of the book – perhaps the readers will envision a character that is similar to the historical Jesus – and perhaps not – but that question is also irrelevant – the question that is important is:”What Jesus did the vast majority of Matthew’s readers envision?” – “How did the vast majority of readers understand the message of Matthew 23?” – “Did the writer of Matthew have the foresight to understand how his book will be read and understood?”
What do you think the answers to these questions are?
Your Pharisee Friend
As far as I understand the strict Orthodox Jewish view, the Torah is breathed out by God. The Torah, therefore, is a direct revelation from God. It was, therefore, not for Moses to decide the effect this revelation would have on the people, and only then write it down accordingly.
A similar situation obtains in the Christian scriptures, which many Christians to be God-breathed. So, when Matthew wrote his Chapter 23, it was not his job to consider the possible attitudes his readers, or he, himself, might have had to the Pharisees. In other words, it was not Matthew’s (or Moses’) job to foresee what the effect on readers would be. I don’t mean, of course, that Matthew, or any of the other NT writers, or Moses, or David, or the Prophets went into a trance-like state of automatic writing.
Ultimately, it is important whether God is “speaking” through Moses or through Matthew. So, the issue in Matthew’s Gospel is two-fold: 1. did Matthew faithfully record what Jesus said, and 2. did Jesus have divine authority to say what he said? The two-fold issue in the Torah is: 1. did God really speak to Moses, and 2. did Moses faithfully record what God said.
For me, the answer to both sets of these respective questions is yes. For you the answer to the second set of questions is yes. If God didn’t speak, and if scripture (as we both understand the term) is not an accurate rendering of what God said, then I see nothing wrong with trashing Moses, and I would do the same to Matthew.
Consequently, it wouldn’t be wrong to accuse those who believe the Jewish and Christian scriptures to be God’s revelation as, at best, deluded, at worst, miscreant.
Here’s a thing: Rabbi Paulus Elkana of Prague converted to Christianity after reading Matthew’s Gospel in Hebrew.
(In the traditional Orthodox Jewish view, the Torah is the only part of the Jewish Bible (Tanakh) that is breathed out by God. In other words, the Torah is the direct revelation – and only direct revelation – from the Ruakh HaKodesh; the Holy Spirit. See “Thus says the Lord in the Torah. And in the Prophets?” for authoritative Jewish references on this view of Torah).