A resurrected Jewish Savior for Gentiles, not for Jews??


This doesn’t have anything specifically to do with universalism, but I wrote out a bunch of commentary on this proposal (from a German Orthodox non-Christian Jewish scholar) here at the Cadre Journal this morning.

The short version is that I can’t imagine how this could possibly be feasible. :wink:

Or, as I concluded near the end of the article: “It seems a staggering level of scholarship (if I may put it that way), that can be impressed enough with the historical data to allow that maybe God did miraculously raise Jesus bodily, yet is somehow not impressed enough with the historical data to agree that this same rabbi at least taught about his signal importance to Jews as Jews. Or to suppose that, if perhaps Jesus did teach this (and his immediate followers after him, resulting in the content of the NT texts), maybe he was just wrong about that and God possibly raised him anyway to be the savior (but not the messiah??) of only the Gentiles instead.”

Or, as I put it even more pithily at the end (paraphrasing C. S. Lewis): it looks very strange for this scholar “to swallow the textual gnat of the Resurrection while straining out the textual camel of Jesus’ relevance to Jews.”


Most Jews think they are saved because they are Jewish - they believe they remain the people of God as a group. The author is reflecting that ‘knowledge’ in submitting a gentile savior for gentiles as a warm up for the real thing: The Jewish Messiah. It’s the arrogance springing from such status that makes it feasible to the author’s mind.

Facts have nothing to do with it. :mrgreen:


Incidentally, I learned this morning that Time had actually re-released this article online from 1979! So in fact, not only is the book now available (since 1983) in translation here from Amazon for instance, but Prof. Lapide has since passed on (in 1997).

I’ve updated the original article accordingly. (And ordered a copy of the book to satisfy my curiosity on several points. :slight_smile: )


I can see several objections for any acceptance of Judaism of Jesus being a resurrected Savior, for the Gentiles or anyone else for that matter, even without the stigma of accepting Jesus as the Messiah:

  1. **One man cannot pay for another man’s sins **- According to Exodus 32:31-35, Moses pleads with God to either forgive the sins of the people or blot him out of His book. However, God’s reply is that the person who committed the sins will be the one’s blotted out. The same is reiterated in Deut. 24:16, and expanded further in Ezekiel 18.

  2. God disallows human sacrifices in the law - In Deut 12:30-31 it is seen as a pagan practice (see also Ezekiel 16:20, Jeremiah 19:4-6 and Psalm 106:37-38). Now it may be argued that these are indeed sacrifices offered to idols, but would God change His mind when it comes to offering similar sacrifices to Him?

  3. **Legitimizing of Jesus’ message **- Even without the above reasons, a prime objective would be that if God did indeed raise Jesus from the dead, then He must somehow approve of Jesus, and by extension His message. Certainly from the things Jesus claimed about Himself, not the least that He proclaimed Himself as the Messiah, would in the Jew’s eyes brand Jesus as a false prophet.


I didn’t specifically touch on this in my article; but then, I don’t (yet) know why PL seems to have widely disavowed the huge amount of NT textual testimony to the effect that Jesus was supposed to be important to Jews as Jews. (Ran’s guess seems plausible, and I expect the answer is something along that line, too; but I mean I don’t know for sure what PL’s specific rationale is, what he himself says on the topic.)

If that mountain of material is thrown out, then of course the Resurrection need not be evidence God approves of Jesus being of any prime religious importance to Jews as Jews.

Whether a Jew would agree or not that what Jesus claimed about himself, or Himself, was blasphemous, is a related but somewhat different question. That might be disputable as a matter of correct interpretation; but the huge amount of testimony about Jesus being important to Jews as Jews is pretty broadly simple and straightforward, and doesn’t require that the specifics of His-or-his importance to Jews be agreed upon.

This is probably better answered by the reminder that Jesus voluntarily sacrificed himself, which the Tanahk is far from disapproving about. It might be replied that, regardless of this and its propriety, this wouldn’t let off God from engaging wrongly in human sacrifice (even if Jesus was admirable for volunteering for that purpose). To this, though, there are several possible answers, one of which is that if ortho-trin is true (or even modalism) then substantially speaking God is still self-sacrificing, not putting someone else up on the chopping block.

(Abraham’s akeda of Isaac could be adduced in favor of the propriety of a father sacrificing his son for God’s sake, but that will probably be answered by pointing out God stopped the sacrifice after all and provided one more suitable–which wasn’t another person. However, then we get to your first point. :wink: )

I tend to agree that this is true, in the sense that the objector is probably talking about. But then, Christians seem to have gotten that sense from the same rabbinic tradition found in the Talmuds!–where there are very many rabbinic agreements and praises for the idea that an innocent man can, by dying, pay for another man’s sins, including by drawing the wrath of God down upon himself and away from the deserving sinner. This idea is still somewhat prevalent today in Conservative and Orthodox Jewish circles, which is why it is traditional for people to pray at the death of a righteous rabbi “Let the death of Rabbi X atone for this generation!” The voluntary self-sacrifice of Isaac is routinely treated as being the archetypal paradigm along this line, even though he didn’t die. It’s practically the whole reason why Isaac is considered religiously important, according to his personal merits, in rabbinic tradition; and is even regarded as what secures the resurrection of the righteous by God.

(I’ve been reading the Jewish Christian evangelist and apologist Michael Brown a lot on the topic recently; his first large swatch of discussion about this can be found here in Volume 2 of his multi-volume project. I can’t say I’m very surprised that his attempts at scripturally justifying this type of substitutionary sacrifice are few, and not very well thought out in my opinion; but I was very interested to see him quoting non-Christian Jewish tradition a lot on the topic. Though even then, he seems to misread the data sometimes, reading his own position in against other possible options or even against some obvious exegetical meanings otherwise.)

Anyway, it is in fact very common in post-Biblical rabbinic tradition (at least) for one man to either sacrifice himself for the sins of another, or to have the merits of his righteousness applied at death as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of many others (even if he himself didn’t specifically seek death for that purpose). So, hey, if the Jewish opponent wishes to go against 2000 years worth of rabbinic tradition on the topic, I have no complaints. :mrgreen: But then, I don’t think the sacrifice of Christ was of the sort they’re complaining about either.


There are many other objections related to atonement found on sites such as Jews for Judaism and What Jews Believe. These sites are designed to sway Jews who have converted to Christianity to return to Judaism. I have to admit, they do have some pretty convincing points. Indeed, I once almost became a Noahide through discussions along similiar veins, before I became a universalist (I’d just actually had come to the point where I no longer felt that religious affiliation was a deterrent to salvation, which seemed conflictant to the orthodox Christian view. I just could see God condemning someone merely on the grounds that they were raised Muslim or Hindu or Mormon or even athiest, simply because they either had little or no access to scripture, or had a misunderstanding, or turned off in some way by misguided Christians) But I still have a lot of questions raised on these issues.


Good links, Dondi; thanks!


FYI, here is the criteria for the Messiah that *Jews for Judaism *has posted in their website:

Heavy stuff. If we are ever to ‘win’ the Jews over, we would have to answer these questions to their satisfaction.

I hardly see much endorsement of the idea of a ‘Gentile Savior’ in Jesus Christ in the Jewish community at large. Certainly, they wouldn’t claim such anyway since it says in Isaiah:

*“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” - Isaiah 45:22

“I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” - Isaiah 42:8

“I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.” - Isaiah 43:11*


There have, of course, been Jews highly educated in scriptural studies and languages and Jewish theology, including high ranking rabbis, who have become Christians (and not just unitarian Christians either. :wink: ) As far as I’m concerned, those are the people non-Christian Jews really have to contend with.

The first (or zeroth?) criteria is simply question-begging, of course (and wouldn’t be accepted anyway by unitarian Christians).

The other ‘first’ criteria is itself inconsistent, since the question of whether one is born a Jew or not is dependent on whether one’s mother is Jewish; not one’s father. (The practical rationale behind this is that it’s much harder to be unsure who one’s mother than one’s father is. :wink: ) The legal status derives from one’s father, which is why neither NT genealogy traces explicitly through Mary. This legal status includes formal adoption into one’s house, which would apply to Jesus as son of Joseph (so long as Joseph accepts him as such); just as it applied to Solomon whose mother, as preserved in her Biblical nickname, was not born Jewish: Bath-sheba, daughter of Sheba, an ancient civilization of the Arabian peninsula southwest of Palestine, whose princesses from of old were given diplomatic courier missions–testified to outside scripture as well as with the “Queen of Sheba” later visiting Solomon himself on such a mission.

So one way or another, Solomon himself was only Jewish thanks to legal adoption; either his mother converted (and was legally adopted into a family) or Solomon was adopted by David as legal heir.

The legal adoption issue goes a long way toward explaining the disparate form and contents of both NT genealogies. Matthew’s shows Joseph’s physical descent, while highlighting four mothers of questionable propriety to any ‘Messianic’ lineage via Judah through David, not least Bathsheba, and Ruth herself the great-grandmother of David!–but also the Canaanite prostitute Rahab (and Judah’s widowed daughter-in-law Tamar who had to seduce him in order to obtain an heir when Judah was lax in providing a new husband for her: a terribly scandalous event.) The complaint about purity of descent is thus voided in any case: like it or not, the Messiah will not be of ‘purely’ Jewish descent back through Judah to Abraham, even where David and Solomon are involved. In one way, a fatherless ‘virgin’ birth would actually solve some predictive problems regarding the pure ancestry of the King Messiah.

Luke uses a different phrase which indicates Joseph’s legal descent (exemplified not only by Nathan as an adopted member of David’s family but also most importantly by Adam who certainly didn’t descend by physical begetting from God!) This probably connects to the ancient tradition (though not stated directly in NT scripture) that Mary was the eldest of only daughters to her father and so her husband (Joseph) was adopted into his family in order that her father’s lineage would continue.

The quote from 2 Sam 7 need not refer to Solomon, and in fact must be spiritually interpreted to some degree even by non-Christian Jews, since by any earthly or natural standard the throne of Solomon (builder of the Temple) did not endure forever. In point of fact, 2 Sam 7 is routinely interpreted even by non-Christian Jews to mean that the King Messiah is who will build the final everlasting ‘house’ (or dwelling or tabernacle–typically interpreted to mean a Temple like the first one, but exceeding the first one per later prophetic promises, which the Second Temple never did do). Certainly it is the King Messiah, not Solomon (or David) except by figurative extension, whose throne will be firm forever; a point which is not in much dispute among non-Christian Jews any more than among Christians (of various sorts.)

If 2 Sam 7 does not in fact have to refer to Solomon (which of course it cannot in its fullest sense anyway, since Solomon was hardly the King Messiah himself), then it might be an heir of Solomon’s or an heir of anyone else adopted into David’s house who will be the King Messiah. The NT, notably, puts it both ways (with Joseph physically descending from David via Solomon, and legally descending from David via Nathan probably through marriage to Mary. But even Mary’s physical lineage may converge back at Shealtiel, physical descendent of Solomon, before diverging again.)

Ironically, it is the Christians who recognize the real complexities of Jewish lineage tracing here, which would not be much simpler for any other final Messiah (especially at this late date, 2000 years later!)

‘Work’ work to do here this afternoon; maybe more later. :slight_smile: Thanks for the post-up!


Yet what we have in the latter chapters of Ezekiel is the vision of the Third Temple, in which a figure called the Prince has an intregral part in leading the people into the gate and offering sacrifices, something that was only meant for the tribe of Levi, something for which the tribe of Judah has no part in, as you well know from your studies in Hebrews. However, there may be some trace of Levite blood in Jesus. In Luke 1, we learn that Elizabeth is one of the daughters of Aaron, though that could simply mean that her father or some immediate ancestor was named Aaron. However, being married to Zechariah, of the priestly division of Abijah, suggests the former. It is assumed that there was every effort to at least keep the Levitical line intact to preserve the lineage of Aaron as pure as possible, so it is not unreasonable to assume this is the case here, particularly when speaking about Jewishness established from the maternal line (Elizabeth).

Then again, Elizabeth, we learn in the same chapter, is a relative of Mary! So evidently there was some intermingling of the tribes in there casse, which isn’t hard to see since the tribal division seemed blurred anyway in 1st century Palestine; the land wasn’t divided as such (no doubt due to the kingdom split and Babylonian exile). At what extent that Levitical blood crossed into Mary at some point is unclear. But the possibility is there. If we believe, as some do, that Luke traces Mary’s lineage, who’s to say that one of the male figures listed wasn’t married to a Levite woman? If Elizabeth and Mary were cousins, for example, then it’s not hard to imagine that Mary’s father, Heli, to be married to Elizabeth’s mother’s sister, who would be a Levite woman as well. Thus what we would have is a two-prong descent from Judah, from a legal status through Joseph, and Levi, through the natural line in Mary. (or even more provacative is that Mary would have both lines of decent, Judah from her father, and Levi through her mother).

And though there was a High Priest named Joshua around the time of the prophet Zechariah, I’m not so sure that Zech. 3:1-10 might be not prophesying a future High Priest of the same name, one that could fulfill both priestly and princely duties (in Ezekiel) simultaneously. :wink:


True, although to be fair it isn’t entirely clear whether this is supposed to be the Third (per se) or not. The exegetical issues there are so sticky that the rabbis later admitted that those portions almost kept the Ezekiel book (or scroll or scrolls) from being considered canonical. :exclamation: According to one tradition, a lone rabbi working tirelessly on commentary for the text convinced the leaders to keep it; but this commentary has been lost and no one seems to clearly remember how it worked. Other major rabbis (including Maimonides) have opined that only Elijah-to-come, precursor of the Messiah, will be able to explain it; and/or that it cannot be explained at all this side of the Day of the Lord to come. Various figurative attempts have been made as well.

Obviously one such attempt is that the Messiah himself will build the Temple and will serve in it as both priest and king. This is the line Christians take, too, with the variant being (per the NT canon in various places including Hebrews and RevJohn–though notice that those two books are historically on the edge of the canon, too) that the Messiah himself will be the Temple and/or that the Temple prefigures the Messiah. The main problem with this line of approach, is that Ezekiel seems to be being promised that he (or possibly his immediate descendents) will be instrumental in building this special version of the Temple he’s envisioning.

Still, yeah, good thought. :slight_smile: And whoever the immediate ‘father’ is of Joseph in the Lucan genealogy, (h)Eli would seem to be of priestly caste anyway. Which would fit extremely well with the habit, not specifically noted in NT material, of priests of a certain ‘course’ to congregate at the Nazareth tower area for caravans to Jerusalem to serve twice a year (plus the two Great Feasts). A practice originally set up in the OT, if I recall correctly (though the Nazareth watchtower was called something else back then, a far more ancient version of the word. The tower was set up to keep watch north and south at the juncture of two plains, one higher than the other, where battles frequently occurred–one of which was Har Maggadon–and over one road from the coast to Galilee Lake.)


Good stuff, Jason.

Speaking of Nazareth, I’ve been casually looking into some of the OT prophesies that the Gospel writers attribute to Jesus. One in Matthew 2:23 says, “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’.” I do not find any equvilent reference in the OT about this prophesy, so I thought you might be able to shed some light. Perhaps, as you’ve said, the area of the Nazareth watchtower was called something else. Perhaps the prophesy is given in it’s ancient name? Nazareth didn’t come into being until well after the OT was written.

Whatever the prophesy, I’m hard pressed to believe, like some, that it refers to being a Nazarite. Jesus certainly didn’t live like a Nazarite.


A Nazarite didn’t have to be hard-corps; he could just be someone who has taken some religious oaths, like not to get married or to leave part of his hair uncut, as a disciplinary devotion to God. There is practically no evidence Jesus got married, which was very strange (but not altogether unheard of in special cases) for a rabbi (though there’s some evidence women were flirting pretty heavily with Him :mrgreen: ); and interestingly the Turin Shroud features an image where the man seems to have had a well-kept ‘tail’ of hair.

But no, I agree, it doesn’t mean Nazarite. It’s more likely a midrashing pun on the Messiah being occasionally known as the Branch of David in the OT; the term “branch” is very similar to Nazarene. (GosMatt’s author has a tendency to reach pretty far for OT fulfillment refs, in obscure ways. Great for arguing that those narrative elements strongly predate GosMatt’s composition, which the author thought he had to connect to the OT somehow; not so great for a specially high view of GosMatt’s inspired authorship. :wink: )

I’d have to search through my notes for what the watchtower there was called when it was first set up as a territory station after Joshua’s invasion of Palestine–it’s easy to see how the name could shift to Nazareth by the 1st cent, but also easy to miss when people are looking for information about whether Nazareth’s existence predates the 2nd century (aside from NT testimony). Even then, though, the first extracanonical mention of the town involves it being settled by a particular family of priests (maybe Christian, maybe not, sources are unclear) after the destruction of Roman war against Israel. Settling just some random location?–not, it’s far more likely that a family of priests would be re-settling an area previously held by their family, such as a prior staging area for a family’s caravan gatherings, which would be pretty important even well after the destruction of the Temple. And the community itself needn’t be more than a waystation (thus practically not even a town at all), compared to a huge nearby city like Sepphoris.


While the issue of canonicity are extremely important, merely discarding a book simply on the ground that one doesn’t understand it ought not be the reason of it’s dismissal. Unless one can demonstrate that the book does not fit the criteria, as in does it conflict with established doctrine or have any obviously heretical material, then we ought to give the benefit of doubt.

After having examined the text, I come to some observations that sem to reinforce the idea that Ezekiel’s Temple is the Third Temple (assuming that what is meant by the Third Temple is the Millenial Temple). From what I understand, and I admit I hadn’t had time to compare measurements, the dimensions of the Ezekiel Temple does not correspond with either Solomon’s or Herod’s Temple, so the assumption is that it refers to a future structure, presumably place on the same site as the formers. Ezekiel does spent quite a bit of time with exacting measurements, as if he fully expected to be built to those instructions.

Ezekiel 40 begins with a vision, where he is taken up high on a mountain facing the city, and greeted by a man (assumed to be an angelic being based of his brazen appearance) with a reed prepared to measure the house or temple area, which seems to parallel the measuring of the city in Revelation. Skipping over the measurement parts and description of the temple structure, we see in Ezekiel 42:13-14 that there will actually be animal sacrifices and other purification rituals to be performed by the priests. From a Christian perspective, this seems like a step backwards from the sacrifice of Christ. But from a Jewish perspective, it would absolutely be expected that God remember His Covenant with Israel and reinstitute the ritual sacrifices in Messianic anticipation. In Ezekiel 43, we have the Shekinah Glory filling the temple, something that hasn’t happened even in Herod’s time, perhaps as far back as Solomon. Notice verse 7:

“And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.”

One gets a sense that the victory of Armegeddon has already taken place. The kings of the earth are laid waste. And the house of Israel shall no more be defiled, by the AntiChrist or otherwise. But notice what it says in verses 9-1:

*“Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.
Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.
And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.” *

Seems to me like the similiar pattern we see in Rev. 21:24 with the repentant nations coming forth.

But the kicker for me, and I was quite delighted reading it for the first time, is found in Ezekiel 47, with the description of a healing river and trees on each side of the river with fruit borne monthly and leaves for medicine (for the healing of the nations no doubt).

Either John plagerized Ezekiel or he saw just what Ezekiel saw. Either way, if we dismiss Ezekiel as canonical, then we might just as well toss out Revelation, which I’m sure some here would agree. :confused:




I also especially enjoy the imagery of the sea being healed by the waters of the river, and the fishermen spreading their nets for the multitudes of fish. :sunglasses:



Hey, do you really think Jesus is going to give up one of his favorite hobbies? :smiley:


:sunglasses: I think He’s busy gathering/making “fishers” now to join him in it! :wink:



It gets even better when one recalls what the sea (especially the salt sea) represents in Jewish religious typology. :slight_smile: And the parallels with RevJohn continue in that as well, since in the final chapter we see the Spirit exhorting the church to (in effect) keep fishing for those lake-of-fire sinners still outside the city!

Meanwhile: to be clear, I wasn’t advocating that Ezekiel be dropped from the canon. I was only pointing out how tough that particular text is to work with. From the perspective of Jewish canonical discernment, part of the problem is that there are contradictions with Pentateuchal laws, and terms which do not occur elsewhere. I think it’s interesting that Talmudic rabbis (of all people!) considered the difficulties of those final chapters so great that they almost came to suppress the text from the canon; also that they remember Chaniniah (or Chaninah or Haniniah) ben Hezekiah ben Guiron as the one who stayed in his attic using three hundred cruzes of oil without rest until he completed a commentary that allowed them to ‘save’ the text from being expulsion–and yet this commentary has been so completely lost that subsequently they can only make guesses about its contents. (Their explanation is that this commentary has been so utterly lost due to Israel’s sins against God!)

Whereas, I don’t know of any Christian authors who felt so threatened by the text. :wink: It kind of hints that the post-Christian rabbis (because this didn’t become a problem until the time of the rabbis collected in the Talmud) thought this text was a problem in light of Christianity; that R. Chaninah thought he had solved ‘the problem’; and then it was discovered he had only made it worse (maybe in light of Christianity) so the solution was conveniently lost and suppressed (as they had been planning to do with Ezekiel itself; thus the commentary is sacrificed for the sake of the text). The explanation that this all has occurred due to the rebellion of Israel against God, sounds awfully suggestive, too.

Anyway. One of the problems is that the wording of Ezekiel indicates he was supposed to share his design for the Temple with his contemporaries so that they could build the Temple and enact the sacrifices to those specifications. In fact, in chapter 43 the prophet seems to be told that he himself is to give a young bull as a sin offering among several other things, after the Temple is completed and the sacrifices set up along the lines directed by God. This kind of thing continues throughout chapters 44-48: Ezekiel seems to be told that he will perform Temple functions, divide out land and city portions to tribes, etc. There is no indication that he has a third temple in view. But then again, God seems to be telling Ezekiel that the Day of the Lord to come is about to happen.

Maybe the problem is that the people rejected Ez’s plan?–perhaps because it seemed, not only too big to try to do with the resources they eventually had, but also because it seemed to contravene Torah? Major rabbis have thought that this was all supposed to happen on the return of Ezra but that Israel did not in fact repent of all her sins, thus fulfilling the conditional part of the prophecy (“and if they are ashamed of all they have done”).

On the other hand, one traditional Jewish explanation (most famously proposed by “Radak”, Rabbi David Kimchi) is that this is actually a reference to the resurrection (much like Abraham’s expectation that Isaac would be returning with him to basecamp)!–i.e. Ezekiel is indeed prophesizing that the people he’s directed to explain this all to, will build this Temple, but in the day of the Lord to come.

It occurs to me that another explanation is that God obfuscates things a bit by first referring to Ezekiel as “son of man”, and then shifting over to the coming “son of man” (i.e. the Messiah) as the one to fulfill the duties and prophecies of this temple (whether literally or figuratively or some combination thereof). There are definitely times in prior prophecies where (regardless of one’s theological beliefs or scepticism thereof :mrgreen:) God starts off talking about one person (for example Cyrus the Tyrant) and soon afterward shifts into talking about someone else altogether (Himself and/or the King Messiah, in Cyrus’ case). It’s certainly interesting that, for example, atonement sacrifices are expected to be made in this Temple, in conjunction with Day of the Lord promises and imagery, and yet there shouldn’t be anything to atone about in that day!–scriptural testimony elsewhere indicates that only thanksgiving sacrifices will be made.

I have heard, and seen some solid evidence, that there is a pre-fabricated Temple in storage ready to be put in place (with all the items necessary) the moment God clears the Temple site of the Dome of the Rock. I wonder if it’s designed to Mosaic or to Ezekiel specs… :wink: