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Paranoid Android

The Non-Christian Jesus

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Below is my attempt at looking at Jesus from a purely human perspective. I apologise for the length, but it's not a quick topic to discuss. Anyway, enjoy, and as always feedback is appreciated :tu:

~ Regards,

The Non-Christian Jesus (or the Gospel of Jesus the man), by Paranoid Android. Last edited, 5/5/2014

When asked "what is the greatest Commandment", Jesus responds: "The first is to love the Lord God with all your heart and soul and strength. And the second greatest is like it - Love your neighbour as yourself".

For nearly two millennia, Jesus is accredited with bringing the so-called “golden rule” to the mainstream. But what led him to do this? Why was this so ground-breaking among Jesus’ earliest followers, fellow first century Jews? Today it’s as obvious as the image staring back at a person in the mirror, but back then was it so clear? In the broadest sense, this is the purpose of this paper. However it shall also be looking at other teachings that contributed to the social milieu of this period of history.

No Christian with any knowledge of the Bible would suggest that Jesus’ earthly ministry was anything but primarily for the Jews. It wasn’t until after Jesus’ death that the message was expanded to include gentiles. As such, I shall confine this discourse to Jesus’ earthly ministry, from an entirely earthly perspective. The alleged miracles, prophecies, claims of Messiah-hood, or the expansion of Jesus’ message to the gentiles from early Christian leaders such as the apostle Paul will be put aside. For the purpose of this commentary, only his earthly ministry will be examined, with specific emphasis on why his message was revolutionary, relevant, and timely to Jews living in this society in the first century AD.

To clarify, I use the word “alleged” in the sense that I am a Christian and therefore believe Jesus’ claims to the Messiah and the accompanying miracles and prophecies therein, but in order to focus solely on the earthly Jesus I’ll keep that aside and work under the assumption that the message was directly for First Century Jews. At some point in the future I may either add to this paper or write a companion piece to it that expands the ministry of Jesus beyond the Jews, but for now I’ll confine it to the “gospel of Jesus the man”, for lack of a better phrase.

The historical position of Jews:

The term “Pharisaic Righteousness” is commonly understood today to mean a person who follows the letter of the law but not its spirit. In modern 21st Century society, the understanding that laws are not absolute is paramount to most legal systems. The circumstances surrounding an event are taken into consideration and moderated against what actually happened. As such, it can be confusing to look at 1st Century Pharisees and ask “why don’t they get it”? The best way to begin this is to put Jewish history into perspective and see what brought Jews to this position in the first place.

According to Jewish ancient history, after the reign of King Solomon, Rehoboem and Jeroboem fought and ultimately split the Jewish people into two kingdoms. The Southern Kingdom, Judah, comprised of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, comprised the other Ten Tribes. In 722 BC, the Northern Kingdom was invaded by Assyria and destroyed. This was seen as God’s Judgement against them for being almost entirely devoid of Yahweh worship. Likewise in 590-580 BC the Southern Kingdom was invaded, this time by the Babylonians. Again this was attributed to a lack of Yahweh worship (the “judgement” of Judah was postponed several generations because the kingdom of Judah was more faithful to Yahweh [approximately half their kings were worshippers of Yahweh]). However, differently to the Assyrians, the Babylonians had a more “enlightened” view of treating conquered nations. Instead of destroying their civilisation entirely, the Babylonians allowed the Jews to continue their ancestral beliefs concerning Yahweh. What proceeded was a period Jews today call the “Diaspora”, when they were literally cast out of their homeland to live as nomads.

Ten years after the Diaspora began, the king of Babylon gave permission for the Jews to return to their hometown, Jerusalem. The Jews viewed this as the end of God’s judgement against them, and though a seemingly insignificant comment, became the driving force behind the next five hundred years of Jewish thought. In the mind of the Jews, they were redeemed, the sins of their past forgiven. And so minds began to turn towards methods to ensure that God would NEVER punish them again for faithlessness. From now on, the Jews would ensure their survival by never again sinning against Yahweh. And through the centuries until Jesus, hardships befell the Jews. Rebellions, persecutions, wars, but they retained their ancestral home of Jerusalem, and were reinforced in their view that they were following Yahweh.

It is in this climate that the religious leaders arose. The Pharisees, the Saducees, the Essenes, being the most notable groups (at the time Jesus ministered, at least). It was their job to ensure that the people of Israel kept to the path of Yahweh. The way decided upon by what became the dominant religious sect (the Pharisees) was to ensure that people didn’t break the law, not even by accident. These religious leaders began to place “fences around the Torah” as Jews describe it, commentaries on not just what rules are what, but extra ways to preserve the letter of the law, so the law would never be broken, therefore never earning God’s wrath.

Jesus the upstart:

It was a noble goal, but ultimately disastrous. The 613 laws (the Mitzvot) of the Torah were scrutinised, and analysed, and ways were invented to ensure these laws were kept. For example, questions of “working on the Sabbath” were dissected – what does it mean to “work”? When is an action on the Sabbath “work”, rather than something else? Rules were added to define “work”. By knowing what was and wasn’t work, Jews could then know whether what they are doing was actually in line with Yahweh’s wishes or not. This became the basis of Talmudic literature that was put to paper in the 2nd and 5th Century AD.

This reasoning is obvious to a religious sect intent on ensuring the continuation of Yahweh worship in their ancestral home of Jerusalem. It is also ultimately flawed. To continue with the Sabbath-example, the Pharisees declared that if you carried something within your house (for example, a pot of water to boil for the evening meal), then it was acceptable in the eyes of Yahweh. It is “essential labour”, and not part of extra work. However, if that same pot is carried outside, it is unnecessary to daily activity and therefore deemed “work” and thus sinful.

To put an extreme example forward, using this “legalistic righteousness”, if a neighbour were to knock on the door of a Jew, and the neighbour were very thirsty, the neighbour could enter the home, get given a drink of water, and that is the end of it. However, if the same Jew looked outside their home and saw a thirsty looking man on the street, to bring out water from the house to the individual would be classified as “work”, and therefore sinful.

In this social and cultural period enters the person of Jesus. He lived at a time when the religious leaders are (justifiably) pushing forward the letter of the law. He also sees that things are not quite kosher (pardon the pun). The system that has grown organically since the 6th Century BC is not as right as it appears. Legalism has replaced love as the central core of Yahweh worship. Jesus read the scriptures himself, clearly an intelligent and charismatic man. He saw the hypocrisy of legalism at the expense of love, and took action. He confronted the Pharisees and attempted a form of Cultural Revolution. For five centuries the Jews had lived in their homeland, and for five centuries the Pharisees had seen that their theology worked (Yahweh had not brought retribution on them). Jesus challenged the status quo. Does God care about actions, or does he care about the heart (for example, Hosea 6:6, where God asks which is more important – love and knowledge of God or burned sacrifice and liturgy).

Jesus takes a look at the 613 laws of the Jews, the countless “fences” constructed by the Pharisees, and turns it all on the head – why make it so hard? That is Jesus’ thought. Instead of worrying about every minor transgression, why not just be content to “love your neighbour as yourself”. And naturally that he is addressing fellow Jews, obviously he includes “Love the Lord with all your heart and soul and strength”. Both these commands are explicitly stated within the Torah.

This is the essence of Jesus’ ministry, and considering the historical context at this period of time that has just been examined, it is easy to see how and why it earned itself a “fan base” that has clearly lived long past the original purveyor of that message.

Fences around the Torah:

The Torah is what the Jews refer to as the first five books of the Tanakh (Jewish name for the Old Testament) – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. The Pharisees expanded those laws found within and included many conceivable ways to ensure said laws weren’t broken. Arguably, Jesus stripped back the laws and kept them back to the essential views of “love God, love your neighbour”. However, it’s clear through several teachings that he also attempted his own version of “fences around the Torah”. In his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7, though he also made a similar sermon in a different location in the gospel attributed to Luke) Jesus adds his own “fences around the Torah”. He uses a repeated pattern of “You have heard that it was said.... *insert Law here*.... but I tell you... *insert new approach*”. As an example, he uses adultery and says that it’s been said “you shall not commit adultery”, but Jesus then says “but I tell you, if you have even looked at a woman with desire to lust, you have committed adultery in your heart”.

Considering the legalism of the Pharisees, it is not too preposterous to ask whether Jesus is adding in his own “legalism”, his own “fences around the Torah” so to speak. At this time, I suggest not. There is a difference! The legalism of the Pharisees revolved around “actions” – things a person did or did not do in order to be righteous. Jesus once again turns this around by declaring it is our ATTITUDES that show our righteousness. While I am not an expert in Pharisaic tradition, I expect if “do not commit adultery” was addressed in these “fences”, it would include many do-nots. Do not spend time with your neighbour’s wife while your neighbour is away. Do not hang around the local alehouse getting drunk and waiting for the town prostitute. Do not open your door to a beautiful and alluring woman.

In contrast, Jesus’ comments were about matters of the heart – simple and to the point. Don’t get bogged down in rules, but simply ensure that you don't turn your thoughts towards looking lustfully at a woman.

Many reading this are probably aware of the ancient Jewish Rabbi Hillel. He is accredited with a statement similar to the “golden rule” that Jesus is known for espousing. Hillel, concerning the treatment of our neighbours, noted that we should “not do to others what we would not want them to do to us”. This is a similar statement to Jesus, and has led some to suggest that Jesus was a student of Hillel’s. Whether he was or not is irrelevant (I’m agnostic on this issue, though leaning towards him not being a student of his), what is important is the difference between them. Hillel was firmly in the Pharisees corner. It wasn’t attitude, but actions – DON’T do to others what you DON’T want done to yourself. Jesus subverted that message when he turned it around from a matter of action to a matter of attitude – “DO unto others as you would have them DO to you”. It’s a proactive statement that mirrors Jesus’ disdain for the Pharisaic approach to first century Judaism. What we do is not as important as the way in which we do it – in love or in legalism.

The message of Jesus:

I admit in this that I haven’t addressed every single teaching of Jesus in this “gospel of Jesus the man”. Ultimately the exact teaching of Jesus in every situation was not the goal of this paper. What I hope to leave the reader with is that Jesus’ message was uniquely Judaic, for a people who had an issue they needed to hear. Much like Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I have a dream” speech, the message of Jesus is clearly rooted in the culture of its time (1st Century Judaism, rather than 20th Century America, of course). It was a message that hit to the heart against the Pharisees, particularly their authority as teachers of God’s word, so in their fear, they attempted to squash it and re-establish their own authority. Ultimately this led to Jesus’ execution by the Roman authorities after the Jewish leaders implied that Jesus was destabilising society and was therefore a rebel to Rome. It is a message that resonates with Jews living during that time, and obviously it sparked a movement that grew beyond its intended audience. Though I did note that I would not address any overtly non-Jewish matters, so I’ll leave it there with the non-Christian message of Jesus, and not address the wider ramifications of people such as Paul (at least not in this version of the paper).

As always, if there are thoughts or concerns, or additions that people would like to address, I’m always willing to learn. This paper (as it stands) represents my current understanding of the situation, and depending on new information it is always open to change. I may have missed some historical events or situations (obviously, I’m not an historian), so any information that may not be in line with my current hypothesis could easily change (or even subvert) the current hypothesis presented.

Thank you for your time and any feedback.

*special thanks to Marcus Aurelius for feedback in an earlier draft of this. While I did leave out your suggestion from this paper, I am still in complete agreement with your comments about Jesus' claims to special authority. While the Pharisees APPEALED to authority, Jesus claimed to BE the authority - his authoritative way of declaring "but I tell you..." through the Sermon on the Mount, for instance. It was a tough call, but eventually I felt that an addendum to finish this would be better than including it within the body of the paper. Thank you for your time in reading and giving your feedback. It was appreciated

Thanks also to StarMountainKid for the suggestion of the topic title of "the gospel of Jesus the man"*

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What influence did the Roman occupation have on Jesus' message? Also, on the Jewish heirarchy?

Did not the Romans appoint the head Jewish rabbis who's goal was to appease the Roman authorities to maintain a peaceful coexistance? To what extent was Jesus' message a rebellion against the Roman occupation and its influence on Judiasm?

I would think the Roman occupation had some influence on the thinking of Jesus the man.

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What influence did the Roman occupation have on Jesus' message? Also, on the Jewish heirarchy?

Did not the Romans appoint the head Jewish rabbis who's goal was to appease the Roman authorities to maintain a peaceful coexistance? To what extent was Jesus' message a rebellion against the Roman occupation and its influence on Judiasm?

I would think the Roman occupation had some influence on the thinking of Jesus the man.

Relevant questions. I'm not an historian, but I will definitely attempt to address these questions. I know that the Roman wanted peaceful co-existence, but Jesus' message was subversive and required response, and thus this led to implications of Jesus' questionable "loyalty" to Rome. I'll attempt to look at that question shortly (not tonight, I'm afraid, at the moment I'm just trying to get ready for sleep). But since it was the Romans who are attested to have actually sentenced Jesus to death, I think the Romans definitely had some influence on the thinking of Jesus the man.

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Posted (edited)

What influence did the Roman occupation have on Jesus' message? Also, on the Jewish heirarchy?

Did not the Romans appoint the head Jewish rabbis who's goal was to appease the Roman authorities to maintain a peaceful coexistance? To what extent was Jesus' message a rebellion against the Roman occupation and its influence on Judiasm?

I would think the Roman occupation had some influence on the thinking of Jesus the man.

Jesus was more anti-Temple cult, and more love thy enemy with render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

The Epistles talk on how that the way things like government is set up is God's will.

The Gospels are more literary creation than history.

For example; http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=265917&st=30#entry5160394

Edited by davros of skaro

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Jesus is the Son of God. Period.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

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Jesus is the Son of God. Period.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

I don't think Paranoid Android is trying to deny that. In fact, he is a Christian and one of the best defenders of our faith on here.

What he is trying to do is focus on the ministerial content of Jesus' earthly ministry, and how even putting the miracles aside....His message...even His ethics...were revolutionary.

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Gospel of John itself is often considered an enigma and bane at the same time. But laypeople know nothing about this.

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What influence did the Roman occupation have on Jesus' message? Also, on the Jewish heirarchy?

Did not the Romans appoint the head Jewish rabbis who's goal was to appease the Roman authorities to maintain a peaceful coexistance? To what extent was Jesus' message a rebellion against the Roman occupation and its influence on Judiasm?

I would think the Roman occupation had some influence on the thinking of Jesus the man.

Hi again Star Mountain. Now that it's the next day and I've got time to put my thoughts into a better answer than the one I gave last night, I hope I can answer about my thoughts on this. I think Jesus' message was primarily an attempt to revert back from legalism to love. This would have been true whether Rome was there or not. However, it is clear that Rome did affect the way in which Jesus went by his message. The Pharisees, for example, tried to trap Jesus into either alienating his own followers, or angering the Roman authorities. The question they asked was about paying taxes to Caesar. If Jesus answered by saying paying taxes was right, the Pharisees would quote the Torah where everything belongs to God, while simultaneously it may give Jesus' own followers misgivings about a Jesus being a puppet of Rome. If Jesus answered that it belonged to God and money should go to God, then the Romans would see rebellion in Jesus' words. Jesus' actual response was to point to the image of Caesar on the coin and then say "render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and render to God what is God's".

I think this shows that Jesus wanted to work "within the system" as best he could. He had no desire to anger Rome, because his primary teaching was about bringing Jews back to loving God. However, the Jewish leaders were there only at the sufferance of the Romans (not so much "puppets", though that was the first word that popped into mind to describe them - more a case that they had power only because Rome gave it to them, and only for the purpose of keeping the Jews under control and out of the way of Roman authority). So when Jesus debated against the Jewish authorities, it threw their power into doubt. This is ultimately what brought Rome into the picture when it was hinted that questioning the Jewish authorities was destabilising society and potentially a rebellion/uprising of Jews against the authorities.

Does this address your question properly, or was there something else you were thinking of? All the best, SMK :tu:

~ Regards, PA

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Posted (edited)

Jesus is the Son of God. Period.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

This is what I believe also, Ogbin. However, it wasn't the reason I composed this paper. I was attempting to look at the "Jewishness" of the story. To understand that Jesus was a Jew, who came to minister to the Jews, that he had an important and vital message that they needed to hear is an important step in understanding Jesus' teachings, how important they were to 1st Century Jews, and why it gathered such a following so quickly. Jesus even forbade his disciples to minister to the Gentiles. It wasn't until after his death and resurrection that Jesus presented the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Edited by Paranoid Android
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Jesus is the Son of God. Period.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

There is NO evidence to support that statement!

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This is what I believe also, Ogbin. However, it wasn't the reason I composed this paper. I was attempting to look at the "Jewishness" of the story. To understand that Jesus was a Jew, who came to minister to the Jews, that he had an important and vital message that they needed to hear is an important step in understanding Jesus' teachings, how important they were to 1st Century Jews, and why it gathered such a following so quickly. Jesus even forbade his disciples to minister to the Gentiles. It wasn't until after his death and resurrection that Jesus presented the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

So, as we're discussing Jesus the man here, the Non-Christian Jesus, you say that Jesus forbade his disciples to minister to the gentiles, Only after Jesus' death and resurrection did Jesus tell his disciples to preach to all nations.

Why did Jesus change his mind?

In my view, Jesus the human man ministered to his fellow Jews, this was the real Jesus, the historical Jesus. The resurrection stories only appeared much later, perhaps sixty to eighty years later, written by anonymous authors who never knew Jesus, and therefore were not witnesses to an actual resurrection.

It seems to me that the events of Jesus' resurrection, and events after his resurrection must be considered in a different light than the reports of Jesus' life before his death, if we are discussing Jesus as a human being.

Of course, the stories of Jesus' historical life as a man were also written down much later. My point is, if we are discussing Jesus the man, leaving out the miracles we should also leave out his reported resurrection and anything he said after his resurrection.

It is my view that Jesus the man may have been an actual person, but the miracles, resurrection and the portrayals of Jesus after the resurrection were added later, as there is no surviving first-hand record of Jesus' life during the first eighty or so years after his death.

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Posted (edited)

So, as we're discussing Jesus the man here, the Non-Christian Jesus, you say that Jesus forbade his disciples to minister to the gentiles, Only after Jesus' death and resurrection did Jesus tell his disciples to preach to all nations.

Why did Jesus change his mind?

In my view, Jesus the human man ministered to his fellow Jews, this was the real Jesus, the historical Jesus. The resurrection stories only appeared much later, perhaps sixty to eighty years later, written by anonymous authors who never knew Jesus, and therefore were not witnesses to an actual resurrection.

It seems to me that the events of Jesus' resurrection, and events after his resurrection must be considered in a different light than the reports of Jesus' life before his death, if we are discussing Jesus as a human being.

Of course, the stories of Jesus' historical life as a man were also written down much later. My point is, if we are discussing Jesus the man, leaving out the miracles we should also leave out his reported resurrection and anything he said after his resurrection.

It is my view that Jesus the man may have been an actual person, but the miracles, resurrection and the portrayals of Jesus after the resurrection were added later, as there is no surviving first-hand record of Jesus' life during the first eighty or so years after his death.

I'm afraid I must disagree with you on the primary concerns of your post. The apostle Paul not only mentions the resurrection, but highlights it multiple times, and this is less than 15 years after the events themselves. And there is strong textual evidence based on Paul citing an even earlier piece of oral tradition that the resurrection predated that 15 year span by several years (he quotes a phrase that is in complete contrast to his own unique writing style, and therefore is evidence that he did not compose it but simply heard it and passed it on - if he heard it, it must predate the writing of said letter).

But as said, the point of my paper wasn't to argue that Jesus resurrected. Though that is my personal belief, it was removed from the agenda in discussing the teachings of Jesus. Again, why Jesus "changed his mind" was not technically at stake. However, I will note that even within his ministry to the Jews he helped those who were not Jewish. His parable of the good Samaritan is of particular note. In this story, Jesus is quizzed as to who is our "neighbour", for without that knowledge we can not say "Love your neighbour as yourself" with any certainty. In this parable, a badly beaten man is lying on the side of the road. Several Jews (including preachers and Pharisees) walk by and ignore him. Then a Samaritan walks by, stops, and offers aid. At this point, it's worth interjecting that Jews and Samaritans hated each other. But the moral of the story was that the person who stopped to give aid (regardless of what belief or nationality they were) was the "true neighbour"; thus the clear suggestion that everyone is our neighbour (another difference to Pharisaic tradition - in the Torah, when it is written "Love your neighbour", it is referring to fellow Jews only, non-Jews are not afforded ownership of "neighbour status"). This is one event (there are several others) in which Jesus did indeed reach out beyond the Jewish people and include all of humanity.

As a Christian, I'd argue that events such as this were a foreshadow to show Jesus' true ministry, greater than the earthly ministry to the Jews. I don't think it was ever a case that he "changed his mind". But whether one agrees with that sentiment or not, the ministry of Jesus on earth was primarily for the Jews, promoting a primarily Jewish agenda, and it was a message that took root to the heart of many Jews, and whether we agree with the reasons or not, ultimately spread beyond Judaism, because "love" is a good basis for any world view, regardless of its origins.

I'm trying to answer this within the confines of a "non-Christian Jesus", but your points are inexorably linked to the risen Jesus so I'm afraid it's quite impossible to keep that idea entirely out of the discussion. But I hope this addresses my points as I see them.

Best wishes, SMK :tu:

~ Regards,

Edited by Paranoid Android

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I'm trying to answer this within the confines of a "non-Christian Jesus", but your points are inexorably linked to the risen Jesus so I'm afraid it's quite impossible to keep that idea entirely out of the discussion. But I hope this addresses my points as I see them.

Thanks. I was sort of referring to other posts here as well as yours. I don't want to go off topic.

So, what are your conclusion as to the subject of Jesus the man? Also, to my limited knowledge, Jesus was prophesied in the OT in some detail, can we separate these OT prophesies from Jesus the historical figure?

Prophesies of Jesus in the OT:

http://christianity.about.com/od/biblefactsandlists/a/Prophecies-Jesus.htm

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Posted (edited)

Thanks. I was sort of referring to other posts here as well as yours. I don't want to go off topic.

So, what are your conclusion as to the subject of Jesus the man? Also, to my limited knowledge, Jesus was prophesied in the OT in some detail, can we separate these OT prophesies from Jesus the historical figure?

Prophesies of Jesus in the OT:

http://christianity....ecies-Jesus.htm

My conclusions of Jesus are beyond his simple "human" view. It is also true that I believe Jesus was attested to in the Old Testament, in quite some detail. Can we separate said prophecies from the historical? I would say yes, if the goal of the discussion is to simply snip the human Jesus from the spiritual. Perhaps this is the natural progression of the argument presented here, wherein the details of Jesus are stripped back purely into human terms with no further reference to other issues.

I suppose it's expected considering the express purpose of this thread was to divorce the teachings of the man from the teaching of the saviour. But as noted, the point of this thread was to examine the "non-Christian Jesus", the Jesus as existed in Jewish views. But your questions are directly asking me about the "Christian Jesus", so I'm not sure I can answer without inserting my own Christian views.

Edited by Paranoid Android

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I suppose it's expected considering the express purpose of this thread was to divorce the teachings of the man from the teaching of the saviour. But as noted, the point of this thread was to examine the "non-Christian Jesus", the Jesus as existed in Jewish views. But your questions are directly asking me about the "Christian Jesus", so I'm not sure I can answer without inserting my own Christian views.

Okay, I understand this. Jesus the Jew must have understood the prophecies in the OT. Do we think Jesus purposely followed or obeyed these prophecies? Did he the consider these prophecies applied to him, or were they added to the account of Jesus later?

I think this is an important point if we are to discover Jesus the man, Jesus the pre-Christian.

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Gospel of John itself is often considered an enigma and bane at the same time. But laypeople know nothing about this.

Do you mean the book of 'Revelation"? If so I agree.

peace

mark

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I don't think the pre Christian Jesus was against the roman government, his message to love they neighbor per say was for all, and give Caesar his due, Was`nt it the Jewish priests that sentenced Jesus to death? but in doing his messages took over the whole roman empire.

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Posted (edited)

Okay, I understand this. Jesus the Jew must have understood the prophecies in the OT. Do we think Jesus purposely followed or obeyed these prophecies? Did he the consider these prophecies applied to him, or were they added to the account of Jesus later?

I think this is an important point if we are to discover Jesus the man, Jesus the pre-Christian.

I consider that Jesus was human and thus in terms of his humanity he was as normal as the next man, what I mean by this is that sometimes we have this supernatural view that shadows every aspect of his humanity. Some early examples of this shadowing can be seen in some non-canonical gospels such as the infancy Gospel of Thomas, mentions that he spoke as a newborn infant, that he could talk to animals and other such stories.

Jesus learnt to read and write and speak as any other human being, he did not have the knowledge and divine qualities that mark divinity. All that he later did was not through himself but through god, just as any other Christian today can do as well.

That being said Jesus studied Torah from an early age, just like any other Jewish child and those writings influenced his mindset along with a perceptiveness regarding those writings that few others had. He was also a child of his times, meaning that it was exactly at the time he was 8 years old (6 C.E.) that Israel lost its independence and became a province of Rome. When Coponius was appointed Prefect, the legal power of the Sanhedrin was restricted and adjudication of capital offenses was lost.

See: Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2:8; Antiquities 20:9.

This caused a major upheaval in the region, many Jews became and freedom fighters, although they were classed as outlaws and bandits. The general consensus was that Israel had lost its self determination, and the Messiah had not yet come. The expectation of the Messiahs' immanent arrival was apparent in many of the days writings, some of which are found in Qumran.

The expectation of a Messiah was at its greatest and most intense point when Jesus was a child. This had its influence on the boy Jesus. As he read Isaiah, one of Jesus favorite prophets, he noticed some interesting correlations from that book that would later put him on the path that led to his ministry. (It's not a coincidence that Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the New Testament)

It is from Isaiah 61:1-2 that he quotes when he commences his ministry:

Luke 4:18-19

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

It is also from the book of Isaiah that he learns of his destiny and what awaits him. It is from the book of Isaiah that he modeled his life and ministry.

See: THE MESSIAH IN THE FIRST CENTURY: A REVIEW ARTICLE

Edited by Jor-el
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Okay, I understand this. Jesus the Jew must have understood the prophecies in the OT. Do we think Jesus purposely followed or obeyed these prophecies? Did he the consider these prophecies applied to him, or were they added to the account of Jesus later?

I think this is an important point if we are to discover Jesus the man, Jesus the pre-Christian.

When I began this paper, I noted that I was expressly putting aside the claims of miracles, prophecy, and messiah-ship. I did this because what we think about the prophecies inevitably goes to our world view concerning the matter. I'd argue that Jesus knew the prophecies, knew they were about him, and followed them, not as a script in a movie, but because that's what needed to happen. Others would argue that they were retroactively introduced into the story as the myth of Jesus rose. It depends on how they look at Jesus. Since that is a matter of faith, I chose not to address the matter in my discourse, focusing on the essential Jewishness of the story to explain why it was an important message, and why it gathered such a following so quickly.

The rest is faith. I have faith that Jesus was the Messiah. Therefore I believe the stories of miracles, prophecies, and his messianic status. What you believe about it will depend on whether you think Jesus was the messiah, or whether he was just turned into the messiah by his followers in the years after his death.

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I don't think the pre Christian Jesus was against the roman government, his message to love they neighbor per say was for all, and give Caesar his due, Was`nt it the Jewish priests that sentenced Jesus to death? but in doing his messages took over the whole roman empire.

The Jewish priests did not have the authority to execute one of their citizens. Only Rome could do that.

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When I began this paper, I noted that I was expressly putting aside the claims of miracles, prophecy, and messiah-ship.

And I keep asking questions about these things, I guess. Sorry. I just think all these things are interwoven in Jesus' life and it may be a complex task to separate the above from Jesus the actual man.

I'm wondering what is the conclusion, here? If we consider Jesus the man as a devout Jew and his teachings, leaving out all of the above, who is this Jesus?

In my view, we are left with a human being who at some point in his life had a enlightening experience, and the only way he could express this experience was within the culture and religion he knew. Therefore he expressed this personal revelatory experience in terms of Judiasm.

When Jesus says things as, "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me", etc., Jesus is telling people that through his enlightening experience he has discovered certain truths of human life (as the Buddha did, for instance), and he includes 'the Father' because he is a devout Jew.

Jesus also says, "I am the son of man" many time in the NT. The term 'the' (definite article) that is always in translations from the Greek is an addition used by the translators. In the Greek lnaguage, the definite article is usually left out, so in the original Greek we read, "I am son of man". In general parlance, the term 'a' is usually inferred. So a more correct statement would be either, "I am son of man", or "I am a son of man".

This may be nit-picking, but I think it is important in this way: If Jesus thought in terms of "I am son of man", or "I am a son of man", then it can interpreted as leaving open the possibility that others can have the same enlightening experience Jesus had, and this is the object of Jesus' teachings.

If this is the case, then Jesus the Divinity, the sole Son of God, is either a later addition or an analogy to Jesus' religious beliefs. In other words, to be enlightened as Jesus was (which is a possibility for all men), this is the same as being analogous to God.

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The Jewish priests did not have the authority to execute one of their citizens. Only Rome could do that.

Only after 6 C.E., before then they did indeed have that authority, given to them by the kings of the Herod line who reigned before Israel was annexed and became Judaea, a province of Rome

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When I began this paper, I noted that I was expressly putting aside the claims of miracles, prophecy, and messiah-ship. I did this because what we think about the prophecies inevitably goes to our world view concerning the matter. I'd argue that Jesus knew the prophecies, knew they were about him, and followed them, not as a script in a movie, but because that's what needed to happen. Others would argue that they were retroactively introduced into the story as the myth of Jesus rose. It depends on how they look at Jesus. Since that is a matter of faith, I chose not to address the matter in my discourse, focusing on the essential Jewishness of the story to explain why it was an important message, and why it gathered such a following so quickly.

The rest is faith. I have faith that Jesus was the Messiah. Therefore I believe the stories of miracles, prophecies, and his messianic status. What you believe about it will depend on whether you think Jesus was the messiah, or whether he was just turned into the messiah by his followers in the years after his death.

Jesus messiahship irrespective of the rest of the other issues, are the basis of Jesus the Jew and what he did. I doubt you can actually divorce that from the human being called Jesus. His whole ministry, every single word he spoke had this as its underlying context.

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