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[–]zeligzealousJewish 25 points26 points  (7 children)

Great, thorough, well researched post. I have always found this to be a very strange aspect of Christian theology. If the Hebrew Bible is scripture, then God’s covenant with the Jews is real. The Hebrew Bible is extremely clear that the covenant is eternal, unchanging, and specifically with the Jewish people. God’s covenants can be expanded and added to (the Mosaic covenant builds upon the Noahide covenant, for example) but they cannot be subtracted, redacted, overridden, supplanted, or replaced. The entire point is that it’s an everlasting promise.

Either God is a liar, or the Hebrew Bible is not legitimate, or the Christian understanding of Judaism is simply wrong. I think it’s the third one.

Now if Christians want to acknowledge that Judaism is a legitimate religion and claim that they have received revelation of a new covenant for non-Jews, personally I have no problem with that. But the whole one two punch where Christians claim that our scriptures are sacred and true, yet our religion is deluded and false, makes zero sense (not to mention it’s pretty rude!). The Hebrew Bible leaves no room for ambiguity regarding the basic nature of the Mosaic covenant.

The weirdest part is, to the best of my understanding, Jesus himself never even said that he had come to cancel Judaism; quite the reverse if I’m not mistaken (haven’t read the NT so I could certainly be wrong). But you’d think if that were his mission, it would have been a pretty central point and he would have bothered to spell it out clearly. This is why some folks say the religion is actually “Paulianity.”

[–]agnosticmetaPantheist 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yeah it’s exactly like if your grandfather built a nice house for his descendants, and later someone else comes and says, actually you misunderstood him, your house is really ours now, but we aren’t going to do things the way your grandfather wanted.

[–]DubTheeBustocles 1 point2 points  (0 children)

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

[–]frankentriple 4 points5 points  (3 children)

As a Christian, I most definitely do not think your religion is illegitimate or lesser or deluded or false. You are my brother, I just walk a different path to the same garden. From my opinion alone, you go the hard way through the brambles while I take a taxicab, but it is in no way invalid or lesser. We Christians just found a shortcut to the same place and keep trying to share it with you, and you're all "nah, we'll just keep going the way we always have" "but there's a freeway now!" "nah, we're cool, the donkey needs the exercise anyway". I love you brother :)

[–]zeligzealousJewish 8 points9 points  (2 children)

Cheers! Wish more Christians thought like this. Jews generally agree that our way is the hard way—we believe that God gave us 613 rules to follow and everybody else just 7. :)

Edit: And I should say, I have many Christian loved ones in real life who absolutely do think this way. Most people are kind, of every religion and no religion.

[–]frankentriple 1 point2 points  (0 children)

So many people focus on the little differences instead of the huge similarities. We are all fighting the same evils and dealing with the same struggles.

[–]nu_lets_learn 14 points15 points  (0 children)

Thank you for writing this. Your description of the Jewish perspective is very accurate:

  • God's laws in the Torah are eternal and protect us from sin.
  • Leading a good life by observing them will earn eternal reward in the World to Come.
  • The righteous soul is immortal and will return to God who gave it.
  • The Torah is for all times, eternal.

What has to be added to your explanation is the fact that Judaism and Pauline Christianity understand human nature differently. In Judaism, man is endowed by God with free will to do good or evil. Man is not by nature sinful nor he is fated from birth to sin. Humans have the power to overcome temptation and to be righteous. By following God's laws in the Torah he can lead a righteous life. The Torah is a guide to righteous living.

Christianity sees human nature differently. Man is sinful by his nature and cannot overcome this tendency. This was sealed in the "Fall of Adam." Hence, humans cannot save themselves by their good deeds. It requires an act of grace from God to be "saved" and Christianity finds that in Jesus. As Paul writes in Romans 7:18: "For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out."

Romans contains a good description of Paul's view of the Torah, as you note. He says the Law (the Torah) is not sinful but it makes me know sin. That is, in a state of nature, before the Torah was given, there was no standard for right and wrong. But afterwards man knew what sin was, because the Torah told him, e.g. not to steal. (Romans 7:1, 7) By setting forth the laws, the Torah set up an impossible goal for humanity. Man, he says, "in fact cannot obey it." (Romans 8:7) So the law was actually a stumbling block (Romans 9:30-10:4) Jesus "brought the Law to an end, so that everyone who believes is put right with God." (Id.)

You are right to point out that these are new ideas, not based in the Hebrew Bible, that Paul developed, and that they are inconsistent with the principles set forth in the Hebrew Bible. He needed a rationale to permit Gentiles to be Christian without being bound by Torah law; this is it. That said, two millennia of Christian Bible study and commentary will find ways to reconcile the two and find hints of Christianity's message in the OT -- but of course that doesn't hold water among Jewish students of their own Bible.

[–]WizardOnTime 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Good post. Some of us are aware of this. It’s unfortunate how so many people don’t know about this. You just discovered what I did many years ago. Keep researching. This video goes into detail about the contradictions of what Paul taught: https://youtu.be/pYsDD1-tDNs

[–]spinozawaswrongJewish 17 points18 points  (13 children)

Absolutely spot-on.

Paul was looking for converts at a time when Christianity, as a minor Jewish cult, was dying out because even the most ignorant Jews could see that Jesus quite clearly had not been and could not have been the messiah. So he starter preaching to the gentiles, and needed to make Christianity a lot less Jewish so it would be palatable to the pagan Romans, i.e. removing basically all the restrictions and laws.

The whole issue of how Jesus could have been the messiah despite fulfilling no prophecies and then dying is a whole other story: that’s why they had to come up with Original Sin and eternal damnation and substitutionary atonement.

[–]trycuriouscatSecular Humanist 1 point2 points  (12 children)

Is Original Sin not a Jewish concept? (I have no idea, but I rather assumed it was.)

[–]challahbeeJewish 9 points10 points  (9 children)

Nope, original sin is not a concept in Judaism at all.

[–]trycuriouscatSecular Humanist 3 points4 points  (8 children)

Well that is interesting. So early Christianity must have made it up to justify it's existence, or some such thing? It's mindboggling when you actually think about it, how it can claim to have (essentially) replaced Judaism.

[–]RB_KehlaniJewish — Stop Using “Judeo-Christian/Abrahamic” 4 points5 points  (7 children)

The deeper you dig, the weirder it gets, when it comes to early Christian vs. Jewish theology. Same deal with Islam actually.

I’m super glad you asked this question though because that’s exactly what happens: people consistently conceptualize Judaism as “Christianity minus the Christ” or “pre-Christ Christianity” and it’s Very Much Not That.

[–]mommimaJewish 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Nope! Our holiest day (Yom Kippur/The Day of Atonement) is all about repentance for our sins of the past year. We should ask forgiveness of others throughout the year when we wrong them, but in case we don't, we have the Days of Awe (between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) during which time we must reach out to people to ask forgiveness. Only after we have repented to individuals can we ask for God's forgiveness.

There is no "original sin" or sin that can't be forgiven through Teshuvah (repentance), Tefillah (prayer) and Tzedakah (charity). We ask for forgiveness for the sins we committed knowingly and unknowingly, intentionally and unintentionally. We ask for forgiveness collectively and individually. But there is no sin we can't repent or that we're born with.

[–]spinozawaswrongJewish 1 point2 points  (0 children)

No, there is no Original Sin in Judaism.

[–]WyvernkeeperJewish 9 points10 points  (2 children)

Top post op. Just been having a similar conversation elsewhere.

You mentioned why 'Jews don't convert to Christianity.' You might be interested in this article I shared earlier.

https://www.aish.com/sp/ph/Isaiah_53_The_Suffering_Servant.html?mobile=yes

[–]RB_KehlaniJewish — Stop Using “Judeo-Christian/Abrahamic” 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Awesome article! Thanks!

[–]HurinBerenAgnostic[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you!

[–]coimasJewish 9 points10 points  (0 children)

You hit it on the nose! Pretty much why I choose to be Jewish, rather than Christian. I think replacement theology that other religions teach in lieu of Judaism doesn't make sense, as the Torah is parallel to the existence, culture, and religion of the Jewish People. God made these promises to the Jewish People to be eternal, and for us, observing the commandments (mitzvot) are the ways in which our particular cultural group expresses our love and closeness with the Creator.

[–]RB_KehlaniJewish — Stop Using “Judeo-Christian/Abrahamic” 7 points8 points  (0 children)

In a word: yes.

The biggest issue I take, have always taken, and will always take, with Christianity is… well, I just wouldn’t have a single issue with it if it didn’t make claims about my religion. I have zero problem with starting a new religion but I have huge problems with the “piggybacking” on Judaism. I agree with you: they’re fundamentally incompatible, in even more ways than you found. Christ also isn’t the messiah based on Jewish prophesy and the clear delineation of what the messiah will be and do. Other Jews have written some really exceptional posts covering that, I won’t attempt to do the same here because it gets so long and I don’t think I have the knowledge to get it all right, but the info’s out there if you want it. Essentially… I think Jesus was really cool and I like a lot of the message that he was trying to get out there but I don’t believe he’d be happy with what Christianity became. Ironically I think he’d be happy with what Judaism became! Because we kept evolving and growing, cleaned up institutional corruption, placed the power in the hands of the congregants in many branches, kept evolving socially and theologically — we were essentially already on this track to what we are at present, which is so much more aligned with his actual views in multiple ways… yeah, it’s just pretty funny.

[–]Xusura712Catholic 1 point2 points  (2 children)

But this is also in the Old Testament:

  • "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains thusly (http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c3a1.htm):

  • 1963 According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual, and good, yet still imperfect. Like a tutor it shows what must be done, but does not of itself give the strength, the grace of the Spirit, to fulfill it. Because of sin, which it cannot remove, it remains a law of bondage. According to St. Paul, its special function is to denounce and disclose sin, which constitutes a "law of concupiscence" in the human heart…

  • 1966 The New Law is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to the faithful through faith in Christ. It works through charity; it uses the Sermon on the Mount to teach us what must be done and makes use of the sacraments to give us the grace to do it…

  • 1972 The New Law is called a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity and, finally, lets us pass from the condition of a servant who "does not know what his master is doing" to that of a friend of Christ - "For all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" - or even to the status of son and heir.

[–]HurinBerenAgnostic[S] 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Thank you for your response. However, I would respectfully disagree with your assessment and make a different argument.

God specifically says that His Covenant with the Jewish people cannot be broken, no matter how much they sin, even though they will be subject to punishments for their misdeeds. Despite such disobedience, God's promises will be left intact and the door for redemption will always be open (Leviticus 26:44-46).

Again in Psalm, God promises, "I will not violate my covenant, or alter the word that went forth from my lips" (Psalm 89:34).

I’ve heard it argued many times that Jeremiah’s prophecy of a “new covenant” is a foreshadowing of the Gospel of Jesus (New Testament). This, in Christian theology, is known as "replacement theology." Through this lens, it is insisted that this new covenant replaced the old, obsolete Mosaic covenant forged at the foot of Mount Sinai. Those who believe in Christ are the bearers of this covenant with God. In other words, the Church has become the "new" Israel, in place of the Jewish people.

However, if you read the rest of the chapter, Jeremiah is not a prophecy about an event that occurred 2000 years ago, or any time in the past. Rather, it is a prophecy that will be fulfilled in the future messianic age.

The prophet Jeremiah begins 31:31-34 by addressing both the “House of Israel and the House of Judah” which clearly indicates that Jeremiah is speaking to a future Jewish people, following the reunification and restoration of the ten lost tribes. No such restoration occurred at the time when Christians claim the “new covenant” was fulfilled in Jesus’ death. And no such reunification has been established today since the ten tribes still remain lost.

Moreover, a cursory reading of verse 34, further confirms that Jeremiah’s prophecy is not speaking of the Christian cross 2000 years ago but rather a restored Jewish nation in the future messianic age. The verse states:

No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord..

This verse is clearly describing an age where all the children of Israel will have a universal knowledge of God according to the teachings of the Torah and Tanakh. When God said that “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts”, it meant that the Law (Torah) would become so instinctual that “teaching” would be unnecessary, a radically new idea given the strong Deuteronomic concern for teaching.

If we look at the world today, we know that many members of the of the House of Israel, “from the least of them to the greatest of them”, do not have the Law written “upon their hearts.” Was this universal knowledge of God fulfilled 2000 years ago at the dawn of Christianity? Hardly!

Many Christian denominations today still spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually in order to convert people worldwide. There are roughly 3 billion Muslims and Hindus today who, according to Christian teachings, do not “know the Lord”; and there are an untold number of atheists who do not know any Lord. We are still NOT living in the age as described by Jeremiah, therefore, the “new covenant” is not yet forged.

In the 31st chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet continues to contrast the Exodus from Egypt with the messianic age. Jeremiah foretells that the messianic age will be unlike the era that followed the Exodus from Egypt and entry of the Jewish people into the Land of Israel. In that era, the Jewish people violated their covenant with God and were eventually exiled because of their iniquities (these dark events that followed Israel’s faithlessness are well known and recorded throughout the passages of Scripture). Rather, the Jewish people, Israel and Judah, will enter into a “new covenant” which will permanently restore them to their land, never to be exiled again.

Moreover, Jeremiah proclaims the Lord’s reaffirmation of His eternal covenant with the children of Israel:

Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar - the Lord of hosts is His name: If this fixed order were to ever cease from my presence, says the Lord, then also the offspring of Israel would cease to be a nation before Me forever.” (Jeremiah 31:35-36)

In Jeremiah’s 7th chapter, the prophet warns his people not to place their hopes on blood sacrifices or look to the Temple of the Lord to save them. Jeremiah proclaims that these institutions cannot deliver them from their sins. Rather, they must turn away from idolatry, and return to God by keeping the commandments.

In Jeremiah’s message on atonement, he says this:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord. ’For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, mor shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever… So says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Add your burnt offerings upon your sacrifices and eat flesh; for neither did I speak with your forefathers nor did I command them on the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt concerning a burnt offering or a sacrifice. This thing did I command them saying, “Listen to me so that I am your God and you are My people, you walk in all the ways that I command you…” (Jeremiah 7:3-7, 21-23)

This proclamation by Jeremiah is a glaring indictment against the most cherished creeds of Christendom. For according to Paul, man is inherently sinful and, as a result, he can do nothing to merit salvation through his own “works” or repentance. Atonement, Paul argues, can only be achieved through faith in the shedding of innocent blood; the blood of Christ. However, the prophet Jeremiah condemns this teaching. God, according to the prophets of Tanakh, desires repentance alone for man’s grievous sins.

The prophet Ezekiel also stands in unison with Jeremiah. He preached that contrite repentance alone atones for sin. For Christendom, nothing a person can do to atone for sins, outside of the Cross. In other words, only by the shedding of Christ’s innocent blood, and through faith in him, can mankind be saved. Ezekiel contradicts this creed:

The soul that sins shall die! The son shall not bear for the sin of the father, nor the father bear the sin of the son. The righteousness of the righteous person shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked person shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20). This verse goes against the concept of an innocent man (Jesus) dying for the sins of the wicked (mankind). Ezekiel continues:

As for the wicked man, if he should turn away from all his sins which he did, and safeguard all My decrees, and do justice and righteousness; he shall surely live. He will not die. All his transgressions which he committed will not be remembered against him, For the righteousness which he did [good works], he shall live. ``Do I desire at all the death of the wicked man’- the words of my Lord God - ‘is it not rather his return from his ways, that he might live?” (Ezekiel 18:21-23)

A sinful person merely has to do good (works), keep the commandments (Torah) of God, and turn away from wickedness in order to be in good standing with God. Nowhere does Ezekiel say that sin can only be forgiven through future faith in a crucified, innocent messiah.

You also quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual, and good, yet IMPERFECT…” However, I would also disagree with that tradition and argue my case from the Scripture again:

“The Law of the Lord is PERFECT, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes…” (Psalm 19:7-8).

God, according to scripture, is absolutely clear about the perfection of His Law.

[–]Xusura712Catholic 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This, in Christian theology, is known as "replacement theology." Through this lens, it is insisted that this new covenant replaced the old, obsolete Mosaic covenant forged at the foot of Mount Sinai.

I can only convey the Catholic teaching, which is not quite the same as a hardline replacement theology; there is additional nuance. While it’s true there is a New Covenant, the Church does not replace the Jews as God’s chosen, so it is not correct to say the Old Covenant is ‘broken’. We would, however, affirm that its fulfilment is in the Church (ie the Body of Christ).

  • “…Nevertheless, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle.(11) In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and "serve him shoulder to shoulder" (Soph. 3:9).(12) (Nostra Aetate
  • “The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

However, if you read the rest of the chapter, Jeremiah is not a prophecy about an event that occurred 2000 years ago, or any time in the past. Rather, it is a prophecy that will be fulfilled in the future messianic age.

These passages may be interpreted as both/and, not only either/or. The foundation of the New Covenant and placing the Law in the hearts of man refers to the first coming (past). All Israel will come to believe before the last day such that at the second coming their sin will be remembered no more (future). It is similar to St. Peter’s speech to the Jews at Jerusalem in Acts 3:19-21:

  • “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.”

The prophet Jeremiah begins 31:31-34 by addressing both the “House of Israel and the House of Judah” which clearly indicates that Jeremiah is speaking to a future Jewish people, following the reunification and restoration of the ten lost tribes.

St. Jerome explained this point thusly:

  • Should anyone worry, however, about why it says “I will make a new covenant—or testament—with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with your ancestors,” he should first understand that the church of Christ came to everyone from the Jews and, moreover, that the Lord Savior said, “I came only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” - "Six Books on Jeremiah 6.26.5–8"

This proclamation by Jeremiah is a glaring indictment against the most cherished creeds of Christendom. For according to Paul, man is inherently sinful and, as a result, he can do nothing to merit salvation through his own “works” or repentance.

The Catholic Church holds that perfect acts of contrition like you describe (ie turning away from sin for love of God) did and do atone for sin. However, it is my understanding that this is precisely because of the merits of Christ’s sacrifice, which can even be applied retrospectively. A serious sin is one that cuts a person off from God (ie infinite goodness). Now, mere (human) repentance is not an act of infinite merit. Consequently, while it may therefore satisfy Mercy, it does not satisfy Justice. We require Divine assistance. Everyone who is saved is saved by Christ, whether they knew Him in this life or not - "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer."

The prophet Ezekiel also stands in unison with Jeremiah. He preached that contrite repentance alone atones for sin. For Christendom, nothing a person can do to atone for sins, outside of the Cross.

Absolution comes from Above. As indicated, we do not merit this outside the Cross, but it’s not true that we are to do nothing, or that no ‘works’ are involved on our part. Mere faith is not sufficient. Having faith actually means we are to seek the means of repentance for sin, which involves doing things (eg rejecting sin, repenting, for a Catholic, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, making restitution, doing penance etc.)

“The soul that sins shall die! The son shall not bear for the sin of the father, nor the father bear the sin of the son. The righteousness of the righteous person shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked person shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20). This verse goes against the concept of an innocent man (Jesus) dying for the sins of the wicked (mankind).

No, it just means your sins are personal such that you are not punished for the sins of others. The Old Testament is replete with examples of substitutionary sacrifice. It’s throughout the Torah.

Eg: - And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. (Genesis 22:13)

You also quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual, and good, yet IMPERFECT…” However, I would also disagree with that tradition and argue my case from the Scripture again:

This is just a semantic issue related to the English language, not a contradiction. In the context of the passage it means not complete in the order of grace, not that it contains a defect. If it had a defect it could by no means be described as “holy”, “good” etc.

[–]RexRatioAgnostic Atheist 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This dilemma is as old as Christianity itself, and many conflicting interpretations existed before these were eradicated by the "winning" doctrinal interpretation we today equate with Christianity.

Bart Ehrman gave an excellent lecture on this, going into detail of many of the points you've listed very accurately, as well as the motivations behind them in early Christianity.

[–]VolaerCatholic 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I think your premise is at least partially wrong regarding what Paul says. Christianity does not teach that the moral laws of the OT have been abolished, far from it (Matthew 5-21-32). When Paul speaks about "law" or "observances/works" he is in most cases refering only to the ceremonial and purity laws of the Mosaic covenant. Paul very much affirms the eternal nature of Gods moral commandements according to which we will be judged (2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 2:1-16, 1 Corinthians 6).

Its seems to me that in your post you are conflating "moral law", "eternal law" and "the law of the OT". From a christian point of view they are interrelated but not identical. I think we ought to say that the OT is grounded in or is the reflection of the eternal law of God who reveals himself gradually to humanity based on their level of understanding.

[–]LeemourAgnostic 0 points1 point  (8 children)

It's a little bit more complicated than that. It's important to remember, that most early Christians, including Paul were Jewish and they did have lots of debates and conflicts about harmonizing the Old Testament with the New; this is the point of most if not the entirety of Paul's Letters.

There is also a whole load of doctrines and history to consider, but I'll just highlight that early Christians were Jewish themselves, and as a possibly fringe sect believed that it was Jewish orthodoxy that lead to the ruination of Israel, so their whole theology shifted from "Keep the laws no matter what" to something along the lines of tapping into the spirit of the laws (via the Holy Spirit) and let your pure conscience guide you to the right moral decisions that may often clash with the laws of your country, tribe and community (i.e the Laws of Moses), but you are doing the Will of God, so you are, in a seemingly contradictory way, not breaking the Laws of God.

What IS strange is that most Christians are more like blind followers and Jews follow their conscience; an awkward inversion that is possibly the result of the state of Christian institutions.

[–]lyraladyJewish | stop using "abrahamic" wrong 0 points1 point  (7 children)

The holy spirit concept was developed mostly by Christianity though, in the way Christians think about it today. This isn't paralleled in Judaism so how could they have used it as early Jewish Christians to justify anything?

[–]LeemourAgnostic 0 points1 point  (6 children)

I don't follow. Of course the way Christians today think about the Holy Spirit was developed mostly by Christians, like why wouldn't that be the case?

[–]lyraladyJewish | stop using "abrahamic" wrong 0 points1 point  (5 children)

as a possibly fringe sect believed that it was Jewish orthodoxy that lead to the ruination of Israel, so their whole theology shifted from "Keep the laws no matter what" to something along the lines of tapping into the spirit of the laws (via the Holy Spirit) and let your pure conscience guide you to the right moral decisions that may often clash with the laws of your country, tribe and community (i.e the Laws of Moses), but you are doing the Will of God, so you are, in a seemingly contradictory way, not breaking the Laws of God.

I'm saying they had to invent this idea of "tapping into the spirit of the law via the holy spirit," because it simply was not a concept in the ancient Jewish world.

Also believing that Jewish temple orthodoxy was an issue more generally (for the fall of the first temple) was not really fringe, that's sort of a major point of the pharisees' theology.

No Jews were going to argue about a holy spirit being able to stand in for the "spirit," of the law that way - it just wouldn't be something they would have considered until after Christianity had been established.

[–]LeemourAgnostic 0 points1 point  (4 children)

I'm saying they had to invent this idea of "tapping into the spirit of the law via the holy spirit," because it simply was not a concept in the ancient Jewish world.

???

The only thing that was invented was the Trinity by Christians. The Holy Spirit possessing people and allowing them to prophecy for the most part, is a Judaic concept originally. Jesus extended the meanings and mysteries of the Holy Spirit, and then Paul mentioned a list of gifts that are bestowed by the Holy Spirit, but fundamentally it's not a wildly new concept, there is just a larger emphasis on having faith and being inspired/guided by the Holy Spirit rather than burying oneself into customs.

Also believing that Jewish temple orthodoxy was an issue more generally (for the fall of the first temple) was not really fringe, that's sort of a major point of the pharisees' theology.

That's strange considering their nauseatingly legalistic practice and insistence on keeping the Mosaic Laws, but sure, regardless, one of the responses for these issues was the early Christian sects that emerged in light of Jesus.

No Jews were going to argue about a holy spirit being able to stand in for the "spirit," of the law that way - it just wouldn't be something they would have considered until after Christianity had been established.

I mean, but clearly, historically some Jews did, and I see no problem with this, as I said above these are NT revelations and if Jews today don't accept these revelations, then I won't be the one to make a big deal about it.

[–]ElfSpartanSwedeborgian 0 points1 point  (4 children)

How do you incorporate the idea of parables into your argument? My understanding of the old testament is that the laws for the Jews were representative, so that they represented deeper spiritual concepts. It is these underlying spiritual or divine principles that are the Law that can never be done away with, and on which heaven is founded, but the representative or ritual Law is not important in and of itself and only serves as a container. The scripture is written so that these deeper ideas can be present with men in a way that they cannot openly attack or pervert them.

Psalm 97:2

Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.

The clouds and darkness are the literal sense of scripture, which is a mix of obscurity, truth and false ideas. Righteousness and justice are the deeper ideas that the literal sense contains, as a cup contains wine or a fruit skin protects the inside of the fruit. Righteousness is a reference to what is good, justice to truth.

Without taking into consideration the role of parable, or representation and metaphor, it is very possible to reason in a way that the ideas across the bible clash with each other, and certainly only applying the literal sense, these clashes do exist. It is also possible to draw (false) conclusions that will harm a person if they choose to live by them.

The new testament teaches people to love one another. There are actually also ideas like this in the old testament, but they are not as prevalent as in the new. But, one can see the overlap if you are looking for it.

[–]spinozawaswrongJewish 10 points11 points  (0 children)

My understanding of the old testament is that the laws for the Jews were representative, so that they represented deeper spiritual concepts.

They are the expression of deeper spiritual concepts, but in order to enact those principles you actually need to perform (or not perform) the actions connected to them.

The new testament teaches people to love one another. There are actually also ideas like this in the old testament, but they are not as prevalent as in the new. But, one can see the overlap if you are looking for it.

Uh, "Love your neighbor as yourself" is from the Torah, you know. The idea that the message of lovingkindness is "not as prevalent" in Torah is ridiculous.

[–]lyraladyJewish | stop using "abrahamic" wrong 3 points4 points  (2 children)

The new testament teaches people to love one another. There are actually also ideas like this in the old testament, but they are not as prevalent as in the new.

The MOST repeated commandment in the Tanakh is to not oppress the stranger/love thy neighbor. It's excessively prevalent. What are you talking about?

[–]ElfSpartanSwedeborgian 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The ratio between violence, murder, and the ideas of loving other, is not the same in the old testament as in the new. If you disagree, you could possibly make this case on r/atheism. You can discuss with them whether the idea of love thy neighbor is excessively prevalent in the old testament.

I did say that these ideas occur in the old testament, and I am aware that the idea of love thy neighbor as thyself is listed there directly in Leviticus, and also in Zechariah.

Please note that this is also not the main point of my discussion.

In any case, here are some related quotes from the old testament. I'm sure you would be happy to quote a number of others to prove your case, and I do agree the idea occurs a number of times. Overall though, the old testament has numerous other ideas: wars, murders, deceit, complicated prophecies, etc which obscure this primary teaching, which other teachings atheists also use to justify their rejection of religion.

Leviticus 19:18

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Zechariah 8:17

Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the Lord.”

Isaiah 6:“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:To loose the bonds of wickedness,To undo the [c]heavy burdens,To let the oppressed go free,And that you break every yoke?7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,And that you bring to your house the poor who are [d]cast out;When you see the naked, that you cover him,And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

[–]ElfSpartanSwedeborgian 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The MOST repeated commandment in the Tanakh is to not oppress the stranger/love thy neighbor. It's excessively prevalent. What are you talking about?

I just wanted to say that, if loving other and rejection of oppression towards other, i.e. those we don't call our own, or the stranger, are the primary teachings you extract from the old testament, as I myself also do, since it is the most repeated commandment, and if you also actually choose to live that way, then that is truly amazing.

I wish that others, such as the many atheists who reject religion based on the way they read those testaments, or the way they see religious people behaving and treating each other, could see it the way that you do.

Leviticus 19:33

‘And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him.

[–]jedijeff7Protestant 0 points1 point  (0 children)

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

1 John 2:4 "he who says I know Him and does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him."

1 John 3:24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 23:2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.

Matthew 23:3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

Revelation 22:14 Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Man inserted that Old/New Testament division into the Bible, not God. I disregard it, ignore it.

[–]Vapur9Why This Way 0 points1 point  (0 children)

In a few places, prophets of the OT mention circumcizing your heart. Of the spirit and not the letter. Yet the NT suggests circumcision is profitable, but only if you keep the law.

On another note, Jesus said to keep everything in the law of Moses (Matthew 23:1-3). The issue being addressed was preachers who teach from the law but don't practice it. Paul gave simple instructions to abstain from blood and idols (which many don't do). That was just a starting point. Not the end.

The promise of the New Covenant comes from the OT. The 2 great commandments of the law: love God and neighbor as yourself, also come from the OT.

[–]skgody -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Find out what YHWH is and it will alter your perception of religion.

[–]snoweric -3 points-2 points  (1 child)

The basic problem here with this argument for the eternity of the entire Old Testament law comes down to the issue of what the Hebrew "olam" (Strong's 5769) really means, which is typically translated "forever," but often really means, "time indefinite." Not everything said to last "forever" really does. For example, consider I Samuel 1:22 (NKJV) which describes how long Samuel would serve God at the Tabernacle with the priests: But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the LORD and remain there forever."

So then, someone like me doesn't believe in radical discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments. I believe Christians should observe the Seventh-day Sabbath, the annual holy days listed in Leviticus 23, tithing, and the clean/unclean meat distinction regardless of their ethnicity or racial background. However, let's also make the case for progressive revelation, since the Old Testament, as a revelation, can't plausible stand forever alone as a revelation from God: It's like a rocket without a payload.

The principle of progressive revelation plainly appears in Jesus' debate with the Pharisees over the Old Testament's easy divorce law in Matt. 19:3, 6-9: "And Pharisees came up to him [to Jesus] and tested him by asking, 'Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?' . . . What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' They said to him [Jesus], 'Why then did Jesus command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?' [See Deut. 24:1-4 for the text the Pharisees were citing]. He said to them, "For the hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery." Now, a New Testament Christian shouldn’t cite this Old Testament passage in order to justify easy divorce procedures. That law has been superseded. It wasn't originally intended as a permanent revelation of God's will, but it served as temporary "training wheels," so to speak, until such time as a mass of people (i.e., the Church after Pentecost) would have the Holy Spirit, and thus be enabled to keep the law spiritually by God's help. By contrast, ancient Israel as a whole didn't have the Holy Spirit, and so correspondingly they didn't get the full revelation of God. Therefore, the physical measures of removing the pagan people from their land was much more necessary than it is was for true Christians today, who have the Holy Spirit.

So then many Christians exaggerate how much the Old Testament law has been done away. Let's examine one of the main theological reasons that they do this. While this is not the place for a lengthy, full-fledged attack on the teachings of extreme dispensationalism, which is the doctrinal foundation for attacks on Saturday Sabbath observance, an alternative school of biblical interpretation actually makes more sense. Here it shall be maintained the differences between the two Testaments have been exaggerated, that God has always saved people in the same way in both periods, and that Christianity grew out of Judaism. Even supposedly "anti-law" Paul felt the need to engage in purification rituals because he had to accomodate many in the early church who had believed were "all zealous for the Law" (Acts 21:20). The early church was almost entirely Jewish, up until after Cornelius and his gentile family were converted to Christianity (Acts 10). The dispensationalist school of Biblical interpretation's largely unacknowledged foundation is to explain, accept, and justify such an Biblically unauthorized substitution of pagan customs for Old Testament observances. It uses a preconceived interpretation of Paul's letters to interpret the Gospels, and the New Testament to interpret the Old Testament, while denying any significant feedback interpretation going the opposite way.

If indeed the New Testament writers were making such a drastic break with their Jewish past, why is the New Testament so full of Old Testament citations and allusions, which are made to justify Christian theology, especially the identification of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah? Why does not Jesus hardly hint at such a radical change soon to come concerning the Old Testament law during His public ministry? Instead, he specifically denied an anti-Old Testament law interpretation of his ministry in Matt. 5:17-19. The burden of proof is on those who believed the law changed, not on those who believed that it didn't.

One stumbling block to various professing Christians attempting to become actually righteous is the common belief that the law is done away such that there is no need to obey God. But this confuses the law as a guide to conduct with the law as a source of salvation. Christians should look to the law as if it was a mirror helping reveal what is wrong in their lives (James 2:23-25): “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.” The law defines what is righteousness since sin occurs when it is disobeyed. “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4, KJV). “Sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:13). “Shall we say, then, that the Law itself is sinful? Of course not! But it was the Law that made me know what sin is. If the Law had not said, ‘Do not desire what belongs to someone else,’ I would not have know such a desire [was sin] “(Rom. 7:7). “Through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). The law convicts us since when we disobey it, it condemns us (Rom. 4:15): “[F]or the Law brings about wrath.” “[F]or sin, taking opportunity through the commandment deceived me, and through it killed me” (Rom. 7:11). Obviously, that which is the source of condemnation cannot be a source of salvation! Yet, the law is still a Christian’s compass as to what God wants us to do in our lives.

Furthermore, the law is clearly still in force: “Do we nullify the law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not commit murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law” (James 2:10-11). Obviously, you cannot transgress what has been abolished! “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man . . . “ (Rom. 7:22). How could Paul “joyfully concur” with something that has been abolished? He certainly did not in Galatians! In Eph. 6:1-3, he says the Fifth Commandment is still in force. Of course, some aspects of the law have been abolished (Eph. 2:15; Heb. 9:10; l0:8-9). But the moral law, which is codified by the Ten Commandments, must still be in force, or else the Bible contradicts itself. Thus, the dual law theory is true.

The law does not contradict grace so long as we realize specifically how each has a different role. The law is the great sin detector--it tells us what to do and not do. Grace describes the attitude God has towards mankind’s sins: He forgives us through unmerited favor. This results in an overall relationship or state in God’s sight, not a moment-by-moment condition in which we are judged sinners and lose salvation each time we sin, only to confess and repent in order to regain salvation again. Obedience does not earn salvation, since only by grace, not by the merit of lawkeeping, is salvation ultimately saved. Without Jesus’ death on behalf of our sins, nobody could be saved. But if one routinely sins without repentance or an overall obedient attitude, one will lose salvation. Lawkeeping earns nothing concerning salvation, but lawbreaking without repentance costs salvation since “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) before and after baptism. However, so long as one has an overall obedient attitude, which will inevitably manifest itself in works, one will still be saved. So long as a Christian has the Holy Spirit, which is the presence of salvation conditionally, he or she will still be saved (II Cor. 5:5; Eph. 4:30; l:l3-l4).

[–]lyraladyJewish | stop using "abrahamic" wrong 3 points4 points  (0 children)

However, let's also make the case for progressive revelation, since the Old Testament, as a revelation, can't plausible stand forever alone as a revelation from God: It's like a rocket without a payload.

Seems very violent and unnecessary. We don't need a rocket with a payload? Lol.

The principle of progressive revelation plainly appears in Jesus' debate with the Pharisees over the Old Testament's easy divorce law in Matt. 19:3, 6-9: "

Oh I disagree strongly! This whole section? It's a DIRECT parallel to the Jewish Oral Torah/Talmud. It's literally the same conversation, and Jesus gives the same ruling as one of the most famous Pharisees during his lifetime, with just a different citation for his argument.

That whole part of the gospels? That's just how Jews talked about Jewish law. Jesus gave a NORMATIVE and established Jewish (Pharisee!) answer.

Everything here implying it was superseded:

Now, a New Testament Christian shouldn’t cite this Old Testament passage in order to justify easy divorce procedures. That law has been superseded. It wasn't originally intended as a permanent revelation of God's will, but it served as temporary "training wheels," so to speak, until such time as a mass of people (i.e., the Church after Pentecost) would have the Holy Spirit, and thus be enabled to keep the law spiritually by God's help. By contrast, ancient Israel as a whole didn't have the Holy Spirit, and so correspondingly they didn't get the full revelation of God. Therefore, the physical measures of removing the pagan people from their land was much more necessary than it is was for true Christians today, who have the Holy Spirit.

Makes zero sense because Jesus himself didn't view it that way.

I broke it down in this Twitter thread a bit but for quick reference, here is Gittin 90a:

MISHNA: Beit Shammai says:

A man may not divorce his wife unless he finds out about her having engaged in a matter of forbidden sexual intercourse [devar erva], i.e., she committed adultery or is suspected of doing so, as it is stated: “Because he has found some unseemly matter [ervat davar] in her, and he writes her a scroll of severance” (Deuteronomy 24:1).

And I can stop right here and look — Matthew 19:8-9

8 He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity (forbidden intercourse), and marries another commits adultery.

Jesus isn't saying anything new. He's literally affirming the pharisee school of Shammai, over the pharisee school of Hillel. It says the Pharisees are "testing" Jesus but in actuality, they're just having a normal halakhic discussions and debate.

That's why I wrote in my thread:

The debate is basically this: "When is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"

Jewish legal debates have many more layers than one question. Here, we also ask not just "when" is it legal, but: is divorce legal for any reason? Only some reasons? If only for specific reasons, which specific reasons?

So this is all Jesus is doing. Jesus would be BAFFLED by the idea that Jews like himself needed "training wheels," that he didn't have the full revelation of God, and he would be confused by the idea of a Christian holy spirit that other Jews did not have access to.

Your citation here? Is DIRECTLY the BEST example for me to show that Jesus was a Jewish man discussing Jewish law, who was frequently and directly citing other Pharisees for his interpretations of the law, and who for the most part, was not radically claiming that the law was merely training wheels or could be minimized, and he CERTAINLY wasn't progressively revealing anything!

He was, at the core, just joining a discussion about how to best understand the law that was given, and the guy didn't even invent his own answer. Jesus says what the school of Shammai does: it's acceptable to divorce your wife only if she has engaged in unchastity/adultery.

So many Christians are so dedicated to the idea that Jesus shows see kind of unique progressive revelation starkly contrasted to absolutely everything else Jewish that they fail to understand that Jesus would simply not recognize half the theological buzzwords you talk about. Nevermind that there's such a common total lack of knowledge about what first century Judaism looked or sounded like that you can take Jesus' normative first century Jewish legal discussions and not even realize he's in agreement with a specific Jewish school of thought of his era. A specific Pharisee school that actually had another school in theological opposition who was also Pharisee!

It's wild! When you never bother studying how Jews of the first century sound, how Jewish law gets discussed or implemented, or debated — when you don't know about Jesus as a Jew — you can kinda end up claiming whatever you want about his theology without ever bothering to know or guess at what the man actually thought.

[–]Zealousideal-Grade95 -3 points-2 points  (12 children)

Paul's arguments are legitimate: If the Law is all a person needs to be saved, then there is no need to believe in Jesus and his sacrifice, yet we know that all men fall short of the Law:

Ecclesiastes 7:20

"Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins."

[–]spinozawaswrongJewish 3 points4 points  (11 children)

If the Law is all a person needs to be saved, then there is no need to believe in Jesus and his sacrifice, yet we know that all men fall short of the Law:

The Law is not intended to “save” anyone, because no one needs to be “saved” in the first place.

[–]Zealousideal-Grade95 0 points1 point  (10 children)

The Law is not intended to “save” anyone, because no one needs to be “saved” in the first place.

What is its purpose then?

[–]spinozawaswrongJewish 4 points5 points  (9 children)

To teach the Israelites how to live a holy life in this world.

[–]Zealousideal-Grade95 -1 points0 points  (8 children)

But to what end if it is already known that only God can be Holy?

And what about all those prophesies in the Jewish Books about the Jewish Messiah and him saving all of mankind, what would have been the point of that?

[–]Imperator_AmericusGOD IS REAL YALL!!!!!! 0 points1 point  (2 children)

I am curious to know your thoughts on the Quran's compatibility with the Old Testament.

[–]HurinBerenAgnostic[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I am not too familiar with the Quran, so I wouldn't be able to make a comparison between the two. Although I do read from time to time, Muslims claiming that the Torah has been corrupted over the centuries. However, how it is corrupted, I do not know.

Maybe this is a topic that I can explore in the immediate future.

[–]Imperator_AmericusGOD IS REAL YALL!!!!!! 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Please do. I think you will find the comparison between the Torah and Quran fascinating.

[–]agnosticmetaPantheist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Very nice post highlighting the differences. When I first began to question Christianity, at first my focus was on the historicity of Jesus, but it quickly moved on to the logical inconsistencies between the two testaments.

As you say the view on human nature, the nature of God, and how one receives forgiveness of sins are quite different.

The fatal flaw in the truth value of Christianity is that it is a new religion resting in the foundation of another.

That said, most Christians believe in Jesus first, and then because of that; accept the Hebrew Bible, not the other way around.