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January 8, 2006 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Philo-Semitism: Just another form of Anti-Semitism? Interesting Wash Post article on Evangelicals turning away from supersessionism -- the centuries-old belief that with the coming of Jesus, God ended his covenant with the Jews and transferred it to the Christian church, and the concerns it is raising. ..."That hope is felt and expressed by Christians as a kind, benevolent hope," ... "But believing that someday Jews will stop being Jews and become Christians is still a form of hoping that someday there will be no more Jews." ... Is it that philosemitism is just as dehumanizing as antisemitism and, because it masquerades as its opposite, more insidious, or just the most recent manifestation of the longstanding appropriation of us Jews as symbols, whether it helps or hurts us?
posted by amberglow (138 comments total)

 
The scary thing is that fundamentalists love Israel - simply because they see it as the fulfillment of some end-times prophecy. They like the Jews because they are bringing about the end times, but they also want them to become Christians which means they secretly don't like them? Wild. Proto-Machiavellian madness.

Thanks for the links, that Forward article was really good.
posted by tweak at 9:07 AM on January 8, 2006


Religionists worry about the strangest things...
posted by Djinh at 9:14 AM on January 8, 2006


In fairness A Christian might say that by the nature of their own beliefs (including salvation and the possible consequences in the afterlife) that they want all people to become Christians and accept Jesus into their hearts. If they didn't believe this then they wouldn't be living up to their own faith.

That said, the unholy aliance between conservative U.S. religio-political groups and the zionist movement is double plus creeptastic.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:15 AM on January 8, 2006


They like the Jews because they are bringing about the end times

neither Jews nor Christians "bring about" the end times, and it is sad, twisted thinking that thinks they do.

manifestation of the longstanding appropriation of us Jews as symbols

"See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall..."
posted by quonsar at 9:19 AM on January 8, 2006


quonsar: yes, I miss-typed. Some Christians think they are bringing it about, whether they admit it or not.
posted by tweak at 9:22 AM on January 8, 2006


Since many Jews see the recreation of Israel is prohetic, as well, I'm still not sure it really matters. Moreover, since there's no strand of Christianity that calls for forceable conversion (WTHTI), does it really matter? Does it really matter if support for Israel is a kind of religious poker?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:25 AM on January 8, 2006


Jews are particularly picked on in the interpretation of Revelation, which as I understand it sort of differentiates between Jews, Christians, and atheists. Atheists will not be killed by the anti-christ when he comes, and can still get into heaven. Jews, on the other hand, will either be killed by the anti-christ or they will have to renounce their faith and accept Jesus. Tough spot to be in. Still, though, to me it's no more offensive than Jews believing that they are "the Chosen people". Should the rest of us just give up?
posted by billysumday at 9:25 AM on January 8, 2006


Oh, and this quote is at the end of the Washington Post article, by the Baptist preacher featured:

"She started crying, he started crying, and I started crying," Mooneyham said. "Then I said, 'Lord, help me, because I'm really going to throw my congregation a curveball today. We're going to help Jews -- we're not going to witness to them, we're just going to help them. Because I know what home means.'"

If only Christians could think that way all the time, about everything. We're not going to witness to them, we're just going to help them. Too bad it's hardly ever the case.
posted by billysumday at 9:31 AM on January 8, 2006


There is another more important but less insidious reason for the affinity between between practicing Christians and observant Jew: religious people, despite any differences in theology, share values in common that the non-religious do not. It is not surprising that this angle would escape the grasp of a secular liberal writer at The Washington Post, who might take offense at the idea that a person of faith (any faith) might put greater trust another person of faith (any faith) not to lie, cheat, or steal than a person who is not particularly religious.
posted by esquire at 9:32 AM on January 8, 2006


tweak: Some Christians think they are bringing it about

yep, i didn't mean your thinking, i meant theirs.
posted by quonsar at 9:33 AM on January 8, 2006


If only Christians could think that way all the time, about everything.

You nailed it: See St. Francis, Mother Teresa, etc.
posted by Jikido at 9:34 AM on January 8, 2006


Did you read the article, esquire?

...it has strong roots, not only in the Hebrew scriptures shared by both faiths but also in the belief that today's Jews and Christians have common antagonists, such as secularism, consumerism and militant Islam.
posted by billysumday at 9:34 AM on January 8, 2006


To say "the hope is one day there will be no more Jews" is a literal interpretation. There is a more gentle allegorical interpretation, that one day there will be no more division. Christianity is highly allegorical, always has been. It is the religious fundamentalists who see things literal, and that goes both ways, including secularists who interpret Christianity literarly and ignore the allegorical.
posted by stbalbach at 9:38 AM on January 8, 2006


I'm glad that I now have a name to attach to this phenomenon, which has annoyed me for a while. Not too long ago, I was at a party speaking to some stranger when a drunkish friend approached me and asked me "Why are Jews so smart?" and proceeded to talk about his admiration for the chosen people while insisting that I answer his question. Had I known the word philosemite, it would have been an interesting way to confront the question.

(his rambling gave me time to come up with a fairly good answer though. I said something like "You should meet my cousin Millie's husband, the one with diabetes. That one, he's troubled in the head, just not a smart man. She should have married that nice boy from the shetl, but whose going to listen to me?")
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:38 AM on January 8, 2006


I did, and the quoted passage really supports my point. The common ground to which I referred (and I think the author of the article missed) is not that Orthodox Jews and Evangelicals are partners in the battle against the evils of modernity. That's basically the caricature (fanatics fighting apocalyptic culture wars at the end-times) that is the author's theme. I am talking about putting aside the politics and the issues and the debates, there are religious people who trust religious people to share their values in every-day matters, like raising children, dealing fairly, and being good neighbors generally.
posted by esquire at 9:42 AM on January 8, 2006


billysumday: Atheists will not be killed by the anti-christ when he comes, and can still get into heaven. Jews, on the other hand, will either be killed by the anti-christ or they will have to renounce their faith and accept Jesus.

you got citations for this?

it's no more offensive than Jews believing that they are "the Chosen people". Should the rest of us just give up?

biblically, God chose the Jews through which to reveal himself to all men. in that sense, they are His chosen people, not in the silly grade school teacher's pet sense you apparently entertain. yes, you should give up on that one because it evidently happened a long time ago.
posted by quonsar at 9:43 AM on January 8, 2006


Allen.spaulding: Orwell's Notes on Nationalism iis an interesting read on loyalties, both religious, political, and transferred.
posted by athenian at 9:48 AM on January 8, 2006


But...but...I love the Jews, I can't help it!! With their sexy theology, and rational religious practice, how can anyone resist loving Judaism?
posted by Hildegarde at 10:18 AM on January 8, 2006


Does it really matter if support for Israel is a kind of religious poker?

if you're not bothered by the fact that those supposed "friends of Israel" like the Jewish State only because in their apocalyptic dreams it is the battleground they read about in Revelation, well, I guess it doesn't matter.

also, if you're not bothered by the fact that those supposed "friends of Israel" think that two thousand years of antisemitism, pogroms and gas chambers are the deserved payback for yelling "stauroson stauroson", well, I guess it doesn't matter either.

so, one cannot deny that, for example. the 1.4 bn dollars business of evangelical tourism to Israel is good for the economy. but I can understand why many Jews are actually scared shitless of the evangelicals clammy embrace.
posted by matteo at 10:19 AM on January 8, 2006


I am sick of stupid Christians and/or devout followers of other religions . If I wanted to hear about them I would see, for example, "the rest of society." Please stop posting this.
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:26 AM on January 8, 2006


quonsar: Here's a good link that sort of describes the craziness of Revelation and how the Jews fit in, both scripturally and also their place in the apocalypse in the minds of present-day fundamentalists.

As far as your comments about me personally, there are many Jews who believe that they are the chosen people (and many Christians believe the same), and they quote as their source the Bible. The Bible says a lot of stuff. I can't be a little pissed that God didn't pick my race to be chosen?
posted by billysumday at 10:28 AM on January 8, 2006


allen.spaulding, you could have cited this, maybe.
posted by oflinkey at 10:38 AM on January 8, 2006


philosemitism is just as dehumanizing as antisemitism and, because it masquerades as its opposite, more insidious

Reminds me of this movie.

And, the observation that the desire to convert all the Jews is rhetorically identical wanting to get rid of Jews (because their Jewishness would be gone) is spot-on. It is actually applicable to the evangelical point of view about all non-evangelicals -- who are acceptable as potential converts, but never respected or understood or loved as themselves -- it is essentially a colonialist mindset.
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:40 AM on January 8, 2006


"if you're not bothered by the fact that those supposed "friends of Israel" like the Jewish State only because in their apocalyptic dreams it is the battleground they read about in Revelation, well, I guess it doesn't matter."

Look, I didn't say it was ideal, just not bad. As a Jew (and as PP), I believe that Christianity is not only wrong, but ridiculous, and possibly even dangerous.* But the tourism and political support, whatever its MO, is, on the whole good for Israel.

And, maybe, in the process of visiting Israel, the "fundies" will realize how stupid their beliefs are? Naaahh....


*Why? Because it pretends to know with much more precision, the will of G-d; thwarts critical thinking, is heaven-elitist, and seems to foster tackyness...
posted by ParisParamus at 10:44 AM on January 8, 2006


biblically, God chose the Jews through which to reveal himself to all men. in that sense, they are His chosen people, not in the silly grade school teacher's pet sense you apparently entertain. yes, you should give up on that one because it evidently happened a long time ago.

A little bit of both. God chose them because God preferred them over other peoples, and because God chose them, they bear the extra responsibility of spreading God's message.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 10:50 AM on January 8, 2006


trust another person of faith (any faith) not to lie, cheat, or steal than a person who is not particularly religious.
posted by esquire at 5:32 PM GMT on January 8


Heheh. Thats right - you kee playing them odds, sir. I work with 6 other non-believing people that I trust with my wallet. Well, metaphorically I do (they know how little is in it). I would pretty much ignore someone's faith when estimating the chances they would ie, cheat, or steal. Ya know why? 'Cos believers like Nixon (lying, cheating & stealing), Clinton (lying & cheating), and Bush (lying) compare badly to Carter (believer) and, say, my colleagues (non-believers all).

Personal ethics are not dependent on faith. Faith does not necessarily increase ethical behaviour.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:56 AM on January 8, 2006


You nailed it: See St. Francis, Mother Teresa, etc.

Mother Theresa? Really?

With their sexy theology, and rational religious practice, how can anyone resist loving Judaism?

Not to mention the stylish garb of the orthodoxy, with their long black coats and Borsalino hats.

If religion was compulsory, I'd have to go with the four by twos.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:57 AM on January 8, 2006


Allen... that's a perfect answer.

It's hard to know what to make of this... because it's been hard to ignore. I mean, on one hand, President Bush has been a great supporter of the Jews -- he has not waivered one bit in his support for Israel and prominently employs a fair number of Jews in the Administration.

On of the other hand, it's Bush. His policies, on any number of levels, are not really compatible with what most of us Jewish folks were raised to believe. Israel... it's important, but it's not the only thing we care about.

Plus, it's hard to embrace someone who wants to bring about the end of the world as a true kindred spirit.

I tend to be an optimist and chalk this up to America's increasing embrace of multiculturism/diversity. As Jews, we notice it, but I bet you that Mormons, Blacks, Latinos, East Indians, Asians, etc... are all kind of feeling the same way.

I get the gist of what he's talking about, but I'm not really sure I understand the Forward piece's slight at Spielberg, though -- as far as I'm concerned, that dude has done all right as a representative of our people. Much better than, say, Ambramoff... or Perle... or... yeah. (Fill in the blank.)

Is the Forward calling Spielberg out as not being Jewish enough, ritually or whatever?

Interestingly enough, a lot of this seems to be happening on a grassroots level -- my buddy, who studied to be a Rabbi at the Reconstructionist school in Philly -- had a ton of contact with the students studying at the Lutheran seminary down the street. It was a little weird going to parties populated mostly by young people of God, but there's a shared kinship in terms of the deep scholarly study of the bible there...
posted by ph00dz at 10:58 AM on January 8, 2006


...all of which goes to show how nutty these religious nuts truly are! Jews believe that the Messiah is coming. Christians believe he came and left and is coming again...get comfortable and wait, but not in places such as Indonesia, New Orleans, Mississippi etc
posted by Postroad at 11:03 AM on January 8, 2006


billysumday: quonsar: Here's a good link that sort of describes the craziness of Revelation

here's a better one.
posted by quonsar at 11:28 AM on January 8, 2006


No, I think Christians believe "he" is still here, and never left, which is patently absurd, given the condition of the world.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:34 AM on January 8, 2006


Mother Theresa? Really?

If she said this then, yeah:

There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God.
I've always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic


which sounds much better (to this questioning agnostic/buddhist) than a lot of the fundies who use questionable : public statements, working practices, political connections, and funding (from Wikipedia)
posted by Jikido at 11:38 AM on January 8, 2006


Love and hate, alike in many respects, are far closer siblings to each other than to casual and peaceful indifference.
posted by ori at 11:44 AM on January 8, 2006


...prominently employs a fair number of Jews in the Administration.
Um, no--he certainly does not. There's no one Jewish person in his cabinet, nor in his inner circle.
posted by amberglow at 11:57 AM on January 8, 2006


(unless you count Abramoff, of course)
posted by amberglow at 11:57 AM on January 8, 2006


Love and hate, alike in many respects,

For example, they are both each other's opposite!
posted by billysumday at 12:02 PM on January 8, 2006


Help or hurt? Perhaps we'll find out here:

FRONTLINE's "APOCALYPSE!" concludes with a look at how fundamentalist Jews and fundamentalist Christians are joined in their belief that Jerusalem is now ground zero for apocalyptic expectation as the year 2000 nears. For these believers, the return of the Jews to Israel, and their capture of Jersusalem in 1967, are prelude to the final event needed to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah: the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

Some are preparing for it with steadfast certainty. On a cattle ranch in Nebraska, Pentecostal preacher Clyde Lott believes a specially-bred herd of Red Angus may yield a "Red Heifer" like the one described in Numbers 19 in the Old Testament. By breeding a pure specimen, Lott hopes to help Jewish priests facilitate the rebuilding and rededication of their Temple. For Lott and others, this will be the final sign that the end is near. As FRONTLINE's program "APOCALYPSE!" airs, Lott is preparing to send two planeloads full of pregnant Red Angus cows to Israel.
posted by Jikido at 12:11 PM on January 8, 2006


It looks like a modern take on good old fashioned 19th century dispensationalism, combined with some attempts to join forces against differing secular viewpoints. I don't think that dispensationalism is a positive thing for Judaism as they are looking for the eventual conversion of the Jews, and especially not for Israelis as dispensationalists tend to diplomatically support the settler movement and hardliners in ways which make things worse in the region.
posted by Flitcraft at 12:14 PM on January 8, 2006


And, the observation that the desire to convert all the Jews is rhetorically identical wanting to get rid of Jews (because their Jewishness would be gone) is spot-on. It is actually applicable to the evangelical point of view about all non-evangelicals -- who are acceptable as potential converts, but never respected or understood or loved as themselves -- it is essentially a colonialist mindset.

Nevertheless, it is substantially different from, say, wanting to kill Jews.

Don't get me wrong. I understand the similarity, and I understand how the one can lead to the other, and I can see how many evangelicals would end up skipping merrily down that path. But wanting someone to change is often all kinds of different from "change or die!" and saying they're identical is a broad stroke indeed.

I was at a party speaking to some stranger when a drunkish friend approached me and asked me "Why are Jews so smart?" and proceeded to talk about his admiration for the chosen people while insisting that I answer his question.

allen.spaulding, your answer made me grin. :) But as a casual observer from outside, I've often thought there might be aspects of jewish culture that place greater value on learning and knowledge than some other cultures, though individuals within a jewish population may be on average no smarter or less smart than any other population.

In that respect, and to the extent that it's true, would that the rest of the world were "more jewish."

Whether or not that wish makes me a zionophilosemitafascist. ;)
posted by namespan at 12:24 PM on January 8, 2006


I've always found it rather puzzling that the Bile says that Jews were chosen by God to spread his word, and yet Judaism is not at all an evangelical religion; most branches have traditionally discouraged converts. So Jews were supposed to spread the word of God by keeping it to themselves? How does that make sense?
posted by spira at 12:37 PM on January 8, 2006


A couple of useful sources: William D. Rubinstein and Hilary Rubinstein, Philosemitism: Admiration and Support for Jews in the English-Speaking World, 1840-1939 (Rubinstein--who has been saying some odd things lately, I know--has some axes to grind, and he seems oddly unwilling to think about why Catholics were conspicuous no-shows on the philosemitism bandwagon, but it's mostly reliable); Stephen R. Haynes, Reluctant Witnesses: Jews and the Christian Imagination (study of the "witness-people myth," that is, the idea that the existence of Jews in and of itself "testifies" to Biblical truths of one sort or another).

I've written about Victorian philosemitism, which certainly improved on anti-Jewish sentiment in a number of respects; among other things, evangelical philosemites supported Jewish civil rights, strongly denounced discrimination and anti-Jewish slurs, and mustered charitable relief efforts for Jews under siege in Russia. (There are didactic children's novels specifically about the evils of anti-Jewish behavior.) At the same time, though, philosemites also thought that Jews could never be happy as Jews; that the religion endangered the structure of the family [1]; that Jews could not develop a full moral sense; and so forth. The point of philosemitism was to convince Jews to be Christians. Not surprisingly, the emergence of Reform Judaism infuriated evangelicals as much as it did the Orthodox--according to prominent evangelicals like Lord Shaftesbury, the point of rejecting rabbinical Judaism was to become Christian, not develop a new type of Judaism, darn it!

On preview: I've always found it rather puzzling that the Bile says that Jews were chosen by God to spread his word, and yet Judaism is not at all an evangelical religion; most branches have traditionally discouraged converts.

Modern Judaism's mostly anti-evangelical stance results from untoward historical contingencies (like, evangelizing could get you killed...).

[1] This took some twisting, as evangelicals also frequently noted that Jews seemed to have very strong family ties. In any event, the Jewish "threat" to the family was usually treated as primarily a problem for Jews, as opposed to the Catholic "threat, " which was thought to endanger all families.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:45 PM on January 8, 2006


There's no one Jewish person in his cabinet, nor in his inner circle.

Except for Chertoff, of course. And surely the "inner circle" also includes Melman, Wolfowitz, the president's personal aide, and the deputy chief of staff?
posted by naomi at 12:52 PM on January 8, 2006


I've always found it rather puzzling that the Bile says that Jews were chosen by God to spread his word

Presumably, you mean the bible. Where does it say 'spread his word'? They (we, so to speak) are the 'chosen people,' but what they're chosen for exactly is not that clear...unless it's simply to understand the nature of the one true god, etc.

I was at a party speaking to some stranger when a drunkish friend approached me and asked me "Why are Jews so smart?" and proceeded to talk about his admiration for the chosen people while insisting that I answer his question.

There's no need to make fun of this guy, and there definitely is an answer to his question. For a very long time, Jews rewarded the smartest men in the community by making them rabbis, and rabbis, being relatively important and powerful men, tend to have no trouble obtaining wives and having children. A certain other religion rewarded such men by encouraging them to enter a profession which required them to remain celibate. It isn't hard to see the effect that such a system would have on the gene pool in both cases. Naturally, in the case of Judaism, such a system also helped give birth (so to speak) to a culture that rewards intelligence and education in general.

On preview:

Modern Judaism's mostly anti-evangelical stance results from untoward historical contingencies (like, evangelizing could get you killed...).

It's gotten plenty of Christians killed too, but that doesn't seem to have stopped them. Another major difference is that Judaism doesn't have the notion of saving the souls of others. You are not a better Jew if you go out and convince some gentile to become a Jew, and it's not clear that the convert would necessarily be better off either. Jews are not on a mission to make the world Jewish.
posted by bingo at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2006


I enjoyed reading this article, and I'm always happy to see dialogue between faiths. But it still strikes me as odd to see Evangelicals making the leap into modernity of "Wow, these Jews, they're people like us!" It wasn't that long ago that a Pope was helping Nazis incinerate as many of them as possible.

Grains of salt liberally ingested, this seems like a good thing (although Mooneyham's weak evasion of the $64,000 question, why Jews reject Jesus as Messiah, speaks volumes).

spira: I disagree that the Hebrew Testament gives any credence to the idea that Judaism is supposed to "spread the word." Western societies tend to read all religion through the lens of Christianity, and make a lot of ill-informed assumptions. The God of Genesis doesn't tell Abram/Abraham to go out and convert, he simply wants him to recognize his authority, not because he's wonderful and benevolent, but simply because he is the creator. Christian theology tends to be based around a notion that accepting Christ will make your life better, more wonderful and rosy, etc., which is kind of an anomalous position. Jews, and Muslims (literally, "those who submit" to Allah's will) don't pick and choose between godheads--they worship a creator who chose them. Christianity is singular in major theological traditions for saying that you will suffer for eternity for not accepting Jesus=Messiah. Jews and Muslims certainly look down upon non-Jews and non-Muslims, but for the most part they don't condemn those who disagree with them to hell (yes, there are extremists in both camps, but Christianity as it's written condemns the rest of us to damnation, making it, IMHO, the most morally reprehensible of major world traditions).
posted by bardic at 12:56 PM on January 8, 2006


Amberglow... I was under the impression that Rumsfeld was Jewish and the Secretary of Defense. Chertoff, our Secretary of Homeland Security, is also Jewish -- the son of a Rabbi, in fact. We could go through the list of people in the Administration, but I'm sure other people have done that for us.
posted by ph00dz at 1:08 PM on January 8, 2006


"I feel jealous sometimes. This term that keeps coming up in the Old Book -- the Chosen, the Chosen," says the minister... -from the first article

This movie comes to mind, as an interesting illustration of how jealous/obsessive philo-semitism can go badly.

Though I also remember seeing a documentary about a Southern French town comprised mainly of Christians that banded together to help hide hundreds of Jewish children in a local boarding school. I can't remember any details (a little help, anyone?), but I remember that several of the townspeople interviewed said they felt compelled to help the Jews because they were "God's people." So i guess it can go either way. Judge the tree by it's fruit and all.
posted by es_de_bah at 1:13 PM on January 8, 2006


Oops. I stand corrected: Rumsfeld, not a Jew. Who knew?
posted by ph00dz at 1:15 PM on January 8, 2006


es-de-bah: Maybe you are thinking of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. An amazing story. I played there last year for the reunion of the surviving children who had been protected by the villagers. I wouldn't call the brave actions of the Chambonais philosemitism, though. The village is a Protestant island in a Catholic area, and the village had a histoiry of independent thinking. It was just pure, no-nonsense human dignity and bravery.
posted by zaelic at 1:21 PM on January 8, 2006


or just the most recent manifestation of the longstanding appropriation of us Jews as symbols, whether it helps or hurts us?

What do you mean 'us' white man?
posted by blasdelf at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2006


ph00dz--you put Adam Sandler's Hannukah Song in my head. Damn you. ("OJ Simpson--not a Jew! But guess who is? Hall of Famer Rod Carew! (He converted.)")
posted by bardic at 1:30 PM on January 8, 2006


thanks zaelic. You're right: I wouldn't call the actions of the Chambonias philo-semitism either. I'm on the fence as to whether or not I'd call the charity of the Tabernacle folks philo-semitism.
posted by es_de_bah at 1:31 PM on January 8, 2006


We could go through the list of people in the Administration, but I'm sure other people have done that for us.

Jews in the Bush Administration. </derail>
posted by brain_drain at 2:17 PM on January 8, 2006


im glad i published this on December 28:
CLICK HERE FOR THE ARTICLE
THE RAW LINK:
http://sundaymag.ca/textpattern/index.php?event=article&step=edit&ID=67
AND HERE IS THE SYNOPSIS:
CONFUSING JEWISH INFLUENCE WITH THE EMPIRE Conspiracy theorists love to claim that ‘International Jewry’ controls our banking institutions, the media, and most western governments. They may have a point. Look around you in any of these social activities and you see Jews over-represented. It’s easy to nod your head to these allegations, feel terribly bad and then quickly change the subject without taking your time to examine them. But really, are Jews in control of the world?
posted by sundaymag at 2:48 PM on January 8, 2006


SORRY FOLKS:
here is the link
CLICK HERE FOR THE ARTICLE
posted by sundaymag at 2:49 PM on January 8, 2006


I have the impression that Metafilter is being taken over by THE JEWS. Can something be done about that?
posted by ParisParamus at 3:24 PM on January 8, 2006


Can something be done about that?

You could post less I suppose.
posted by boaz at 3:33 PM on January 8, 2006


I also heard that Christians control Mars! Jupiter, must be the Buddhists!

You know, it's really easy to come up with nonsense.
posted by dwordle at 3:54 PM on January 8, 2006


Jews do control Judiaism! That's the real problem!
posted by ParisParamus at 3:57 PM on January 8, 2006


good piece, sundaymag...that should be required reading for all.
posted by amberglow at 4:01 PM on January 8, 2006


I became a Christian because of the influence of a Christian Jew. She did not cease being Jewish simply because she accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah.
posted by konolia at 4:12 PM on January 8, 2006


Perhaps not in her eyes, but certainly in the eyes of non-Messianic Jews (which is, like, almost all of us.)
posted by ltracey at 4:23 PM on January 8, 2006


That was a good article, thanks sundaymag.
posted by dwordle at 4:38 PM on January 8, 2006


ltracey, seriously, why is that?
posted by konolia at 5:03 PM on January 8, 2006


Actually, it's an interesting question. "Jewish" is both a religion and a culture. It is possible to be religiously Jewish without being culturally Jewish (through the somewhat difficult process of conversion), and many would argue, including me, that it's possible to be culturally Jewish without being religiously Jewish - for example, I do not believe in anything even remotely close to the Jewish religion, but I call myself Jewish, meaning it as a cultural term, and most other Jews know what I mean when I say that.

However, some Jews - particularly the orthodox religious ones - do not make the same distinction, and for them Jewishness = Judaism, that is to say the religion *is* all that matters. But I do, so I know many Jewish agnostics, atheists, Budhhists, and even Jews.

Conversion to Christianity, however, is a touchy point for most Jews, as a result of a couple of thousand years of shared history, which has included both persecution and proselytization. Many Jews who are laid back when their fellows convert to Buddhism regard Jews who convert to Christianity with a certain amount of distrust and even resentment.
posted by kyrademon at 5:11 PM on January 8, 2006


She did not cease being Jewish simply because she accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Sure she did. That's like saying somebody doesn't stop being Christian just because they accept that Muhammad is Allah's only prophet.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:21 PM on January 8, 2006


(There are other factors involved in that as well, of course, but that gets into treading on sensitive ground pretty quickly, frankly.)
posted by kyrademon at 5:21 PM on January 8, 2006


whoa. great self-link from sundaymag. thanks.
posted by es_de_bah at 5:44 PM on January 8, 2006


konolia, what is the name of your friend's rabbi?
posted by bardic at 5:55 PM on January 8, 2006


Look, like most Jews I know, I don't have a rabbi, don't believe in a god, and don't practice any rituals whatsoever. I would never argue that I practice Judaism. I am, however, Jewish. If you have arguments that I am not, I'll be fascinated and amused to hear them.

I must say that I do not have, for cultural and other reasons, a particularly high regard for Jews who convert to Christianity. But, *shrug*, I really can't say why they're any less Jewish than I am.
posted by kyrademon at 6:13 PM on January 8, 2006


I lost track of her years ago (I knew her in the early 1980's ) but the guy's name was Cohen. Her home congregation was Temple Aron Kodesh.

(and yes it was a messianic Jewish congregation. It included at least one Holocaust survivor, a lady everybody called Tante Rose.)
posted by konolia at 6:35 PM on January 8, 2006


Dang, Google is my friend. She's still alive and kicking!
posted by konolia at 6:45 PM on January 8, 2006


From konolia's link - "the lost sheep of the House of Israel"?

That is exactly why messianic Jews/Jews for Jesus/Jewish converts to Christianity piss me off.
posted by kyrademon at 6:48 PM on January 8, 2006


And here's Temple Aron Ha Kodesh.

Dang, this brings back some memories.
posted by konolia at 6:54 PM on January 8, 2006


The only people who think you can be Jewish and Christian at the same time are Christians and Jews who have converted to Christianity (or the variation that they define as "messianic Judaism.) Converting to Christianity from Judaism is apostasy.

I would agree that these poeple may still be vaguely culturally Jewish, as Jewish agnostics, atheists, and Buddhists are (and, as a Taoist, as I am), but they certainly have not remained within the fold as a religious Jews, and there is nothing within Jewish teachings to justify any other interpretation.

Of course, Christians have other arguments, believing, as some do, that Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism, and therefore its successor. But since when to Christians get to decide who is and who isn't a Jew?
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:58 PM on January 8, 2006


Astro Zombie - while I think the cultural heritage of Jews is more important than you are giving it credit for, I do agree with you. If konolia is speaking of such people as being religiously Jewish, she is simply wrong.
posted by kyrademon at 7:03 PM on January 8, 2006


Help me out here, AZ, are you saying that Jewish Buddhists or Taoists are in a sense more Jewish than selfidentified Messianic Jews? If so, why?

I mean, like yourself, I have encountered people who identified themselves as Jewish atheists, Jewish Buddhists, Jewish agnostics and whatnot. I have never noticed anyone except the Jewish Christians catch flack-of course I understand there are historical reasons for why this particular faith combo might be objectionable, but is that the only reason?
posted by konolia at 7:06 PM on January 8, 2006


And I am not trying to be argumentative. I just know that the messianic Jews I have known strongly insist they are still and unequivocally Jewish. Who am I to argue?
posted by konolia at 7:07 PM on January 8, 2006


Oh, don't think I'm slighting the cultural heritage of Judaism, which is all I've really got, and means the world to me. I agree with the interpretation of Judaism as being a significant cultural heritage -- the whole "Jews as civilization" theory.

At the same time, it is important to make distinctions. You can't just do anything and still claim that its a legitimate expression of Judaism, especially when the whole of Jewish teaching and history disagrees with you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:10 PM on January 8, 2006


I have never noticed anyone except the Jewish Christians catch flack-of course I understand there are historical reasons for why this particular faith combo might be objectionable, but is that the only reason?

I think the frustration here is that messianic Judaism is an offshoot of an evangelical brand of Christianity that seeked primarily to convert Jews, and there seems to be an essential duplicity to their actions, as though, knowing there were Jews who wouldn't convert to Judaism outright, they invented some middle ground that potential converts might seem more comfortable with. You just don't see Jewish Buddhist or athiests spreading pamphlets outside synagogues.

Also, non-practicing Jews never say, "Oh, I'm a Buddhist, but that's a kind of Judaism." They identify Judaism as a cultural heritage. Messianic Jews make another claim altogether -- that they are simply a sort of Judaism (and, if pressed, the right sort of Judaism). This is a horse of a different color, and invites a different response.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2006


Seeked? Sought?
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2006


Yes, konolia, there's a couple of things going on here.

1) The people who are claiming to be Jewish atheists and Jewish Taoists and whatnot are, almost universally, *not* claiming that they are still religiously Jewish. There is an important distinction between the culture and the religion here which is often, I believe, difficult for Christians, who have a religion which spans a multiplicity of cultures, to understand. Saying you are a Jewish atheist is roughly equivalent to saying you are an American atheist, and has the same religious implications.

2) Many Messianic Jews *are* claiming that they are still religiously Jewish. This is considered a ridiculous and to some extent offensive claim by the vast majority of Jews, as it is the rough equivalent of someone saying, "I am a Christian because I believe the Raelian space brothers will come to earth and save us all."

3) Because of the proselytizing by Christians which has resulted in (2), among numerous other reasons, many Jews find the "Jews for Jesus" phenomenon particularly offensive, and you're likely to raise a lot of hackles by bringing it up.
posted by kyrademon at 7:20 PM on January 8, 2006


Ha! Beat you!

That being said, I'm not out to tell anybody they can't be a Messianic Jew. There's all sorts of self-delusion in this world, and people are free to their own. As long as they don't bother me about it, I won't bother them
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:23 PM on January 8, 2006


From sundaymag's article: "Israel is a hapless colonial client state like Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic."

Oh come on. You can't be saying this with a straight face.
Are we talking about the same Israel?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:54 PM on January 8, 2006


I understand your confusion, konolia.

(On preview, Astro Zombie and kyrademon said most of what I wanted to, but what the hell).

Jewish law is quite clear that apostasy (as distinct from atheism) puts you outside the community. Specifically, once you formally renounce Judaism or join another religion, you lose your standing in Jewish law to do pretty much anything. "You have no part in Israel, no portion in Jacob." This is why so-called secular Jews are still part of Jewry even according to religious Jews, whereas converts are not.

Part of the routine for the Messianic folks is to claim that they're still worshipping the same God and keeping the same laws, and to avoid using the word "convert". From a Jewish POV though Jesus-worship is not worship of the same God, it contravenes the law in and of itself, and to accept it is by definition to be apostate. You'll note that there is no organised bunch of Jewish Buddhists out there, funded by non_jews, trying to convert Jews to Buddhism.

Understand that the Messianic crowd are on a hiding to nothing with their claims, because to anyone inside Jewish tradition they have no authority. And if someone with authority, a respected Torah scholar let's say, were to convert, then presto! By that very conversion, they lose their authority. By definition, they've become Christians, and Christians can't be telling Jews what the law is. And that's why the Messianic types target the secular.

I understand there are historical reasons for why this particular faith combo might be objectionable
I think that is one reason. For Jews in the Western, Christian-dominated world, becoming a Christian, and accepting the benefits that flow from no longer refusing to assimilate, is the ultimate departure from the community. Perhaps that's not so true now that discrimination is less mainstream, but still, there is something singular about converting to Christianity of all things.

See here for claims that apostates to Christinianty were famed for perseucting their former co-religionists.

Who am I to argue?
Finally, when it comes right down to it, the so-called Messianic Jews are not Jews because other Jews say they're not. It's no different than when the kids kick another kid out of the club. That kid can whine all they like about how they belong, and that kid can get together with the other kids who were kicked out and form their own club - with many of the same rules as the first one. But they're still not members of the original club if the original club's members don't want them.

It's right and polite of you not to argue with them, what with you being a Christian and all, but trust me that plenty of actual Jews have good standing to do so. Who gets to say who's a Jew? Jews do, and no one else.

Oh yeah, there's a kind of nasty racism in the whole Jewish Christian thing too, which doesn't sit well with everyone being brothers in Christ. What kind of people are these Southern Baptists who want to convert a whole ethnic group but keep them in a segregated church?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:55 PM on January 8, 2006


Jews for Judaism.

konolia, I think this might be a good parallel. Latter-day Saints maintain they are Christians. But most Christians would dispute that. So are Mormons Christians? Only according to Mormons.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:06 PM on January 8, 2006


Also, Christianity is not like Buddhism or Taoism in that it's crystal clear that you have to accept Jesus as your saviour, and believe that he is some sort of god or godlike figure. If you do that, you're not Jewish. It's one of our 10 Commandments, i believe--a very basic thing about no other gods.
posted by amberglow at 8:39 PM on January 8, 2006


and that whole baptism thing would certainly count as an official renouncement of whichever old religion you had.
posted by amberglow at 8:43 PM on January 8, 2006


but the guy's name was Cohen</em

You don't say?

posted by bardic at 9:00 PM on January 8, 2006


Bardic -- maybe it strikes you as odd because you are accusing a Pope of "helping the Nazis incinerate" as many Jews as possible based on an article that accuses the Pope of, at worst, not doing enough affirmatively to help Jews who needed it while privately helping Jews with whom he was more personally connected.
posted by esquire at 9:04 PM on January 8, 2006


I know a number of people, including myself, with one Jewish parent who were raised Catholic, and we pretty much never encounter the kind of hostility I'm seeing here. No one denies that we have a connection to the Jewish ethnicity and culture. Maybe because it's not our "fault" that we were raised Catholic?
In any case, I'm pretty sure that most people's aversion to ethnically Jewish Christians has almost nothing to do with the apostasy/atheism distinction, and everything to do with painful history.
posted by transona5 at 9:11 PM on January 8, 2006


Judaism is unique among the religions of the world. Almost without exception, the world’s religions begin with a single individual, be he Jesus, or Buddha, or Mohammed, or Confucius, or Lao-tze. This individual gradually gathers a following, either through “miracles” or through sheer charisma.

But from the beginning the entire foundation rests on a single individual. Judaism is the one exception to this. It did not begin with any individual. An entire nation stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and heard G-d introduce Himself. Only G-d, speaking to an entire nation could reveal a true religion.

And once G-d speaks, He does not “change His mind,” or revise the truths He proclaimed as absolute and eternal.
Our most basic beliefs were taught by G-d Himself at Sinai. The Bible says (Deut. 4:35), “Unto you it was shown, that you might know, that the L-rd is G-d, there is none else besides Him. Out of heaven He made you hear His voice, that He might instruct you.”

This brings us back to our original question. What can a Jew lose by embracing Christianity?
The answer is: Everything.

Aryeh Kaplan (pdf)
posted by Jikido at 9:24 PM on January 8, 2006


transona5, any hostility in reactions to amberglow's links is directed at people who fetishize Jews as symbolic objects in their own religion. Hostility to the so-called Jews for Jesus originates in their deceptive claims and recruitment tactics. I don't think you score on either count.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:35 PM on January 8, 2006


Wait, so does this make all atheists anti-Semites? I mean, they want a world with no jews in it, right? Gotta fan those flames....
posted by nightchrome at 10:10 PM on January 8, 2006


Despite what a couple of particularly belligerent atheist Mefites might lead you to believe, the vast, vast majority of atheists don't actually give a rat's ass what other people believe. So, I'm gonna say "no" in answer to that one, nightchrome.
posted by kyrademon at 10:17 PM on January 8, 2006


Darn, where are all the belligerent atheists tonight? Usually they never pass up a chance to stomp all over a discussion about religion.
posted by nightchrome at 10:19 PM on January 8, 2006


They don't want to be accused of antisemitism.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:57 PM on January 8, 2006


jikido:Almost without exception, the world’s religions begin with a single individual,

um...hinduism? shintoism?
posted by dhruva at 12:10 AM on January 9, 2006


Blame Rabbi Kaplan. And Judaism did begin with one individual -- Avram, later ccaled Abraham.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:29 AM on January 9, 2006


They don't want to be accused of antisemitism.

I 8> Astro Zombie.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:46 AM on January 9, 2006


"Oh come on. You can't be saying this with a straight face.
Are we talking about the same Israel?"

funny how your link just proves my point. the BBC article is about how UK covered israel's secrets. its not about how israel independently did anything. did you ak yourself why UK, of all countries would be helping Israel's nuclear program? with their background in the middle east you think Brits may know better!
posted by sundaymag at 1:05 AM on January 9, 2006


the Evangelical Xtian "Rabbi Cohen" (aka Jewie MacJewjew, I guess), Jews For Jesus, Kosher Taoists -- this thread is the gift that keeps on giving.

I'd just like to add that, clearly, one doesn't need a degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary to understand that a Jew who thinks Jesus is the "Messiah" and Son of God, well, is clearly turning Jewish Theology upside down and is, well, an apostate (try putting the Nicene Creed and Rabbinical Judaism in the blender at your own theological risk, children). it's in fact heretical for a human being to claim to be a part of God or God; Yeshua of Nazareth is by necessity then just one in a looooooooooooooooong list of false claimants to the crown.

sadly enough, the Moshiach (משיח) of Jewish thought is a radically different character than the Christian Messiah -- Maimonides (a Jewish thinker whom I trust more than I trust konolia's friend, sorry!) is very clear on this point: the anointed King, the HaMelekh HaMoshiach, has one clear mission: restore the Davidic Kingdom to the old glory, build the Temple and gather the diaspora. HaMelekh HaMoshiach, in Maimonides' definition, is the very last of the anointed Kings (the first was David) -- that Moshiach does not have to perform miracles or "signs" (buh-bye to John's "semeia" obsession!). as for Yeshua of Nazareth, that ultra-Jewish Palestinian Jew obsessed by the Temple and by God's Kingdom and utterly uninterested in preaching to the Goyim (Matthew and Luke are pretty clear on this point), well, the great Maimonides (unlike konnie's Jews For Jesus) is crystal clear on the many reasons why he cannot be the HaMelekh HaMoshiach (in a word: he was supposed to save Israel, instead he got himself murdered and soon after his death the Temple was destroyed -- imagine what an American nuke erasing Mecca during the Hajj could do to Islam and you can start to understand the impact of the Temple's destruction on Judaism).

anyway, in a nutshell -- and I pray our Jewish friends to correct this Goy's mistakes, because they have been made with respect and in good faith:

Orthodox Jews are required to accept Maimonides' work completely re: the Moshiach's coming. Conservative Jews have, unsurprisingly, more space for speculation and can read Isaiah with more leeway for metaphoric meaning and symbols. Reform Jews instead, are way more skeptical and may simply consider a future, almost Utopian age that all Jews must strive for in their daily life, working for tikkun olam and all that.

it's all immensely different from Christain thought, that once again, takes a Jewish idea and heavily corrects it with a healthy dose of Greek philosophy (homoousion? it's nowhere in Scripture, it's a Nicaean invention) and sheer chutzpah.
posted by matteo at 3:07 AM on January 9, 2006


Interestingly enought Jesus prophesied the destruction of Herod's temple, saying that not one stone would be left on another.

In Christian thought our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. Some do believe that an actual physical Temple will be rebuilt when Jesus returns. I don't know what I believe on that but suspect my Theology 102 class next semester might shed some light on it.


To add another wrinkle to this thread I know quite a few goyim who get into celebrating the Jewish feasts and such-they are really into all things Jewish as an expression of their Christianity. Although the Jewish feasts such as Passover do indeed have religious significance to Christians-as symbolism-the amalgamation-whether from the messianic side or the goy Christian side-is a little bit weird to me. But whatever.
posted by konolia at 4:01 AM on January 9, 2006


Isn't it a bit contradictory to observe that conspiracy theories are only a way to shift political responsibility and then replace one conspiracy theory where the US is the pawn of Israel with one where Israel and the Arabs are all passive, unwitting pawns of the US? Not responsible for anything? The whole thing started only with UK/US involvement, no prior history? Jews would have been just as happy to set up Israel in other continents? Hmm...

Seems to me the other side of the anglo-centric coin, to believe everything must be the effect of "bad western policy".
posted by funambulist at 5:53 AM on January 9, 2006


Jikido : "Judaism is the one exception to this. It did not begin with any individual. An entire nation stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and heard G-d introduce Himself. Only G-d, speaking to an entire nation could reveal a true religion."

You can't really be saying that, can you? What shall we do with the religions and legends of all ("Native") American people and all African people and (as noticed above) Hinduism and Shintoism and even Wicka? Ignore them as "not fitting in the argument"? Cute.

And as this is scrolling down I would like to add my praise to sundaymag's article. It's been quite a while since I heard such a coherent original view of this problem (on the other hand, sunday, you DON'T HAVE TO SHOUT. Really.)
posted by nkyad at 5:58 AM on January 9, 2006


funambulist : "Seems to me the other side of the anglo-centric coin, to believe everything must be the effect of 'bad western policy'."

But as "blame" is a divisible entity, blame should be otherwise divided in deserving portions, shouldn't it? Israel position clearly benefits the US hegemonic strategy and helps mitigate the English guilty (pride?) for their role in building the Middle East mess. And if you think all this is in a distant foggy past, just remember that every other week we have news of genocidal wars in Africa whose roots are directly traced to the arbitrary borders established by the colonial powers.

It makes much more sense to analize the money flow and view Israel as a US pawn than the other way around (how would a nation a few million strong in permanent deficit dictate the most powerful nation in the world policies?).
posted by nkyad at 6:05 AM on January 9, 2006


Scooter Libby's Jewish? Oy.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:07 AM on January 9, 2006


Interestingly enought Jesus prophesied the destruction of Herod's temple,

er, not really. Paul, the only pre-70CE writer in the entire NT, does not mention that not-unimportant quote (Paul who, by the way, expected Parousia to be about to happen -- in a matter of years or even months. so much for prophecy. Luke, decades later, was much smarter).

let's say that what we can sure about is: Gospel writers, working post-destruction, could not take into consideration that essential fact -- the place where Jesus ended (according to the the synoptics) or began (John) his preaching had been destroyed, and the face of Rabbi Yeshua's religion (ie, Judaism) was changed forever.

but then, it's all about history remembered vs prophecy historicized, isn't it?

saying that not one stone would be left on another.


heh.


posted by matteo at 7:28 AM on January 9, 2006


It makes much more sense to analize the money flow and view Israel as a US pawn than the other way around (how would a nation a few million strong in permanent deficit dictate the most powerful nation in the world policies?).

nkyad, you misunderstand me - I have a problem with both "pawn" theories, because reducing everything to a matter of western influence is just as simplistic and absurd as saying the US foreign policy is manipulated by Israel. I'm not denying the US interests in the Middle East, I just think it's quite a stretch to attribute to them the whole origins and responsibilities of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and to say that as pawns they just aren't responsible for their actions. As if they wouldn't be fighting but cooperating if it wasn't for the US. The mutual animosity was a US creation? Remove the US puppet masters and you have peace? Sounds like wishful thinking to me.

And it does sound far-fetched to say that the majority of zionist Jews would have settled for any other continent.
posted by funambulist at 7:28 AM on January 9, 2006


typo:

"could not avoid to take into consideration that essential fact " etc

sorry.
posted by matteo at 7:31 AM on January 9, 2006




Jikido : "Judaism is the one exception to this. It did not begin with any individual. An entire nation stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and heard G-d introduce Himself. Only G-d, speaking to an entire nation could reveal a true religion."

You can't really be saying that, can you?


I'm not saying it. click on the provided link. OR if you abhor pdf files (it was written by Rabbi Kaplan)

Blame Rabbi Kaplan. And Judaism did begin with one individual -- Avram, later ccaled Abraham.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:29 AM PST on January 9 [!]


Thank you AZ
posted by Jikido at 9:40 AM on January 9, 2006


Interestingly enought Jesus prophesied the destruction of Herod's temple, saying that not one stone would be left on another.

I'm not usually one to pile on konolia, but I have to say that I find this interpretation to demostrate just how dysfunctional evangelical interperative methods are. Here's the text to which she's referring:

19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20 The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?" 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

That's from the Gospel of John, chapter 2. Note that in spite of the fact that the writer of John's gospel does all the heavy lifting and interprets the prophesy for the reader, konolia still manages to misinterpret the passage. Ironically, she misinterprets it just as the Pharisees did at the time. modern incarnation of the Pharisees.
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:05 AM on January 9, 2006


No, Judaism is unique in that it was created when an entire generation, hundreds of thousands of souls, witnessed the revelation of G-d when moses brought down the Tablets from Sinai. There was no Judaism before then, at least not as we know it today.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:46 AM on January 9, 2006


(ok, as some of us know it today...)
posted by ParisParamus at 10:51 AM on January 9, 2006


"First to Inspire Christian Magazine"?

"Steve's Corner?"

you're linking to very incorrect, badly written history.

konolia, if you write in 2006 that your uncle, in 1975, prophesied that two planes hijacked by terrorists would destroy the WTC, well, you're bound to encounter some well-founded skepticism if, say, 27 books had been written about the same uncle before 2001 and not a single one mentioned that extraordinary prophecy.

see?

not to mention, the Wall is there. it's there because Titus wanted it to remain standing, as a memento of the enormous Temple that once was there and had been destroyed by all-powerful Roman military might.

you can also read some Josephus, it's a fascinating story.

and the same site, that they call al-Buraq, is also holy to Muslims, konolia -- Muhammad tethered his flying horse to that wall. check it out.


as some of us know it today..

somewhat true, but Rabbinical Judaism (the one we know today) was born much later than that. it's about as old as, ahem, Christianity. the destruction of the Temple was really a religious nuclear bomb

I myself like to think of the birth of Judaism this way -- when Abraham performed brit milah on himself and made himself a Jew -- the start of the Covenant.
it's a story I really like, and again, I hope our Jewish friends will excuse me if this is somehow incorrect or inappropriate
posted by matteo at 11:06 AM on January 9, 2006


I must admit that a debate over whether or not a retroactive prophecy assigned to Jesus many decades after his death by someone who never knew him is literally accurate strikes me as entirely silly. Wake me when the city of Tyre is destroyed. Or rather, don't.

Both Jews and Christians regard Christianity as having its origins in Judaism (take the often misused phrase Judeo-Christian.) I don't think there's an argument about that.

The difference in perspective seems to be that this makes some evangelical Christians tend to regard Jews as "one step away" from being converted, somehow, whereas Jews often regard Christianity as a somewhat bizarre messianic cult splinter-sect that got way out of hand.

This causes friction.
posted by kyrademon at 11:09 AM on January 9, 2006


Actually, Matteo, as a Jew I agree with your assessment. Perhaps Judaism didn't exist as a mass religion until the delivery of the 10 commandments, but the Tanakh doesn't start its telling there. The story of the Patriarchs is important in the development of Judaism, and Abraham started that whole thing by smashing some idols and poking at his weiner with a sharp knife.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:19 AM on January 9, 2006


Eustace, you are quoting the wrong scripture reference, hon. I was referring to this:

Luke 21: 5-6

5Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6"As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."
posted by konolia at 11:21 AM on January 9, 2006


Astro, I was only referring to one of the fundamental differences between the two religions; that Judaism didn't reach critical mass (critical minyan?) gradually, but relatively quickly.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:25 AM on January 9, 2006


Aha. Agreed.

Critical minyan. Hah! You do have your good qualities.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:32 AM on January 9, 2006


quoting the wrong scripture reference, hon.

"wrong" = "harder to explain"

also, I thought you guys considered the whole big book to be, you know, "inerrant". whatever that may mean since we don't even have a reliable text to begin with
posted by matteo at 11:33 AM on January 9, 2006


and "critical minyan" is genius
posted by matteo at 11:34 AM on January 9, 2006


konlia, you're right -- that's what I get for joining a pile-on.

However, I think, given the context, of Luke 21, that Jesus' prophesy is about the end of the world, not AD 70 -- since the disciples ask "when will all this stuff happen?" and Jesus launches into his description of the "last days". Of course, a skeptic would point out that it doesn't take much prophetic power to say the Temple will be destroyed by the end of the world...
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:43 AM on January 9, 2006


eustace, there is some controversy about whether Jesus was talking about the destruction that would happen 70 years hence or about the actual end times. Some say a little of both. Perhaps this gets covered this next semester as my theo 102 course covers eschatology. ;-)
posted by konolia at 1:00 PM on January 9, 2006


Thanks to all in this thread for the relatively difficult - and rare, in this community - achievement, of a sane and nigh on respectful discussion on religion. Especial thanks to the big beasts - you know who you are.
posted by dash_slot- at 1:18 PM on January 9, 2006


Christians for Krishna!
posted by MotherTucker at 1:52 PM on January 9, 2006


eustace, there is some controversy about whether Jesus was talking about the destruction that would happen 70 years hence or about the actual end times.

Well, one would think that, as matteo pointed out, there are quite a few stones left on top of one another, that the more sensible position to take would be that Jesus was talking about the end of the world.
Or, an even more sensible approach would be that it wasn't intended as a prophecy at all, but rather a comment on their present circumstances -- the whole speech is, after all, in response to the disciples oogling the Temple's oppulence (which is itself a response to the parable of the widow's mite) -- Jesus was probably just saying "pretty things break, so don't put much stock in them."
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:56 PM on January 9, 2006


What interests me is the extent to which modern Christianity, by omission, or active misrepresentation, modern Judaism. As I wrote in an AskMeta thread, it would seem that were there actually a Christ, he would have founded Reform Judaism more than Christianity. (I'm not suggesting the two resemble, just that Reform would seem closer to what you would get if you were protesting the Judaism of the time)
posted by ParisParamus at 1:58 PM on January 9, 2006


oops: (...or active misrepresentation, distorts modern Judaism.)
posted by ParisParamus at 2:01 PM on January 9, 2006


Don't forget tho, that our diaspora Judaism, with its modern branches and portability and stuff, is vastly different from Temple Judaism. Temple Judaism (which wouldn't even be considered Orthodox i don't think, but very pagan in a lot of ways) would not have survived thru the ages like ours has, i don't think.
posted by amberglow at 3:20 PM on January 9, 2006


Paris, that's an excellent point, just excellent. it all started when the first Christian communities (say, end of first Century CE) noticed how the Jews weren't always that eager to become, so to speak, Ur-Jews for Jesus.

why? because neither Yeshua nor Christ, that God invented after Yeshua's death, did not make any sense at all as the Jewish Moshiach. the Moshiach was going to be a Jewish leader, an anointed King, the man who would save his people. instead Yeshua got killed as a nobody, as a nuisance, his corpse -- as terrified Jews in occupied Palestine knew all too well -- then thrown in a ditch or left as carrion. the Cross itself
was the symbol of his defeat (not even Xtians used it a symbol until much later, centuries later, when Christians ruled the same Roman Empire that had killed their leader, once upon a time)

so, for the eraly Christians, Jesus had to be right -- he had to be the Messiah. hence, the Jews must be wrong.

Paris, you should check out the many, many textual changes perpetrated by antisemitical scribes -- evil textual corruptions all meant to made Jews look bad (there's even one where the Jewish mob, not Roman soldiers, crucify Jesus -- still there, in the Codex Sinaiticus I seem to remember)

so when the Gospels (Matthew and John especially) declare them fair game, the torrent of hate begins -- even with Origen and Tertullian gloating horridly for the destruction of Jerusalem -- payback for the Christ-killers, see?.

so sad that the actual Yeshua was a Jew who kept Jewish customs and talked about Jewish Law and gave his (very interesting, and often very obliquely stated, see the parables for example) interpretation of Jewish Scripture. in a few decades after his death -- even faster, if you consider Paul's own anti-Jewish paragraphs -- the religion founded in his name had already become staunchly anti-Jewish. the Temple destroyed, the Pillars in Jerusalem (James and the others) either killed or defeated -- Christianity was out to convert the Pagan goyim, as in Paul's game plan, Jews (literally) be damned.
posted by matteo at 3:22 PM on January 9, 2006


Matteo, have you ever read Isaiah 53?

There is a lot in the OT prophets about a suffering Messiah. It is true the Jews were looking for a conquering King which is why many missed Him the first time when He came as the Suffering Servant. Even Jesus' own disciples were under the delusion He was gonna be some OT Rambo and He spent quite a bit of time trying to disabuse them of that notion.

Conquering King?

Yeah, next time, that's what we get.
posted by konolia at 4:46 PM on January 9, 2006


I myself like to think of the birth of Judaism this way -- when Abraham performed brit milah on himself and made himself a Jew -- the start of the Covenant.
it's a story I really like, and again, I hope our Jewish friends will excuse me if this is somehow incorrect or inappropriate


It's not 'inappropriate,' but what you're describing is the birth of the Hebrews. There weren't any Jews until the exile in Babylon.
posted by bingo at 6:39 PM on January 9, 2006


konolia,

most scholars today agree on the fact that those 15 verses do in fact refer to God's relationship with Israel during the Babylonian exile, and Isaiah was not predicting the birth and death of Yeshua (and by the way Deut. 24:16 easily blows up the Yeshua-as-Isaiah'sSuffering-Servant theory).

Using Tanakh to make sense of the many New Testament's logical holes is as old as, ahem, the New Testament itself. Because of course Yeshua was a Jew and the early Christians were mostly Jews or goyim somehow close to Judaism (Paul's "God-fearers"). hence it's easy to see why they relied on Tanakh to augment and make sense of their new-found faith -- a lot of reverse engineering going on, after Yeshua's sudden execution, by his followers: why did it happen?
(the flip side is, of course, the Gospel writers' efforts to exorcise Yeshua's Judaism)



Yeah, next time, that's what we get

heh. next time. keep shifting those goal posts, someday you'll score.

;)
posted by matteo at 7:47 AM on January 10, 2006


Well, I for one welcome our conquering king overlord.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:56 AM on January 10, 2006


Matteo, nothing says it couldn't be both. Biblical prophecy sometimes has double meanings.

He had to be the Suffering Servant to obtain our salvation. But bear in mind he did usher in the Kingdom of God when He was here-only not the way people expected. It will reach its culmination when He comes back.

And He most definitely is coming back.
posted by konolia at 9:50 AM on January 10, 2006


He had to be the Suffering Servant to obtain our salvation.

Salvation is not really what the messiah's about, nor is suffering. Among these criteria, is an affirmation that the Messiah will be a catalyst for world peace, harmony and prosperity. That all the nations of the world will live side by side, recognize the sovereignty of G-d and there will be no more wars.

Unfortunately, we live in a world of continued suffering...


(i've never met a single person who is seriously waiting for a messiah. We all have taken responsibility to help make the world a little better than we found it, whether a messiah's coming or not. There's also all sorts of stuff about how the age has to be right--even if there is a messiah alive now, he's not the messiah if it's not the messianic era.)
posted by amberglow at 5:06 PM on January 10, 2006


kyrademon: I care what people think. I wish everyone was an atheist. To paraphrase Dawkins, Religion is a virus that needs a cure.

Which I guess means that I'm an anti-semite.
Which is a bit of a shock.
posted by seanyboy at 4:03 AM on January 22, 2006


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