The Western World Through The Eyes Of the Torah – Rome Part 2

In part one we looked at the biblical origin of Greece, its philosophy and its similarities and differences with the Judaic worldview. Greece is even by secular reckoning the foundation of much of western culture. In terms of Politics, Philosophy, Architecture, Art, Music and is probably most credited for the idea of democracy.

Greece itself did not last forever as an empire, but its philosophy and way of life did. Its successor Rome which was a much greater empire in terms of its power, spread Greek ideas.

Rome 

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How we know that Jesus, Paul and John the Baptist were not Prophets – Understanding Prophecy in Torah 

The majority of the books included in the New Testament were written or ascribed to have been written by the apostle Paul. Paul claims to have the status and authority of a prophet and experienced visions and learned teachings directly from a heavenly Jesus. He never knew Jesus as a person. He says:

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12)

The Gospels make the claim that John the Baptist too was a prophet. (Matthew 11:7-15)

It is fairly obvious that Jews do not accept these claims. What is not clear to the devout Christian missionary is why. It is crucial to understand why this is in order to make progress to finding clarity on the Jewish approach to the Torah and then by extension why it rejects the claims made by Christianity and the New Testament.

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The Western World Through The Eyes Of the Torah – Greece Part 1

Before we delve into the subject of defining what the characteristics of Western culture are and the Torahs perspective on it, we must first look at the Torah’s view of the origin of the Western western world. In the Book of Genesis, following the Flood, Noah and his family would repopulate the world. Noah had three sons, Ham, Shem and Yafet. The Jewish people and other Semitic peoples descend from Shem, Shem is where the word Semite comes from. Ham descended to Africa and Yafet north towards Europe.

Yafet – Greece

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In the book of Genesis, the table of nations lists the descendants of Yafet.1 One of them is named Yavan. Yavan is the founder of Greece. The philosophy of the Greeks and the Jews can be traced back to the names of their forefathers Shem and Yafet. Shem translates as Name. In Jewish philosophy and indeed in the Hebrew language the essence of something is in its name. The focus of Jewish thinking is on what lies beneath the surface on what is internal.

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The Land of Israel and the People of Israel

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The Torah tells us something very unique about the Land of Israel and its relationship to the People of Israel. It says in the book of Vayikra (Numbers):

“I [G-d] will lay the Land desolate, and your enemies who live in it will experience desolation.”1

The Ramban in his commentary on the Torah on this says:

“[This verse] comforts us with the realisation that during all our exiles, our Land will not be hospitable to our enemies. This is another strong proof for eventual redemption, and a promise to us, that nowhere on earth is there another land as fertile and as welcoming as the Land of Israel, which has been in a state of ruin for such a long time. For since the time we left it, it has not accepted any other people. They have all tried to settle it, but to no avail.”2

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Original Sin – Salvation through Faith in Jesus Vs Mitzvot as the Path back to the Garden

Arguably one of the most central doctrines of Christianity is the belief in what is called Original Sin. That is the belief that human beings are all born in sin and are sinful by nature. The reason for this goes back to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

After the first humans ate of the fruit they and all of their offspring would inherit this sinful state and this provides for the rationale to the problem that Jesus would serve as its only solution according to Christianity. Through accepting Jesus and undergoing baptism one can be cleansed of that sin.

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Egypt Vs Nazi Germany

One of the subjects that always bothered me and many others for that matter when it comes to religion is the question of human suffering. Particularly that of the Jewish people. One of the greatest events in Jewish history is the Exodus from Egypt. In short, Exodus is the story of God intervening in history, saving a weak, enslaved, persecuted people from the most powerful empire in the world, bringing them from generations of slavery in a foreign land to freedom and independence in their own land.

The Tanakh teaches us that the Jews migrated to Egypt as a result of famine in the land of Israel, following Jacob’s sons selling their brother Joseph into slavery.

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Why Jews Are Not Impressed By The ‘Miracle’ Of Jesus’ Resurrection

“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.…” (1 Corinthians 15:13)

Many Christians claim that of all the arguments for Jesus being the Messiah, of all the proofs, through ‘fulfilled’ Messianic ‘prophesies’ in the Hebrew Bible, or the miracles that he allegedly performed, the nail on the head for them that convinces them is the miracle of his resurrection from the dead after three days.

Some Christians will even go so far as to claim that this event was the greatest miracle of all time and what their faith is based on. Up until the point of his crucifixion they claim they can understand why one still may have an element of doubt in their mind, but then claim that those doubts were removed by his resurrection.

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Holy Spirit Vs Ruach HaKodesh

Many of us are all fairly familiar with the Holy Spirit defined by Christianity as one of the three co-equal persons of the Godhead, as described within the doctrine of the Trinity.
It should be noted that as discussed amongst the early Christian movement different sects argued over the humanity or the divinity of Jesus, another topic that was debated was on the question of whether the Holy Spirit was equal to the Father and the Son. The Pneumatomachi sect, were proponents that the Holy Spirit was inferior to the Father and the Son, whilst the Cappadocian Fathers opposed, claiming that the Holy Spirit was equal.

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A Traditional Jewish Perspective on Corrie Ten Boom’s Quote

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Many people have been discussing this quote, mostly from various Christian perspectives. Some agreeing with it, claiming that Jesus was a Jew and God chose the Jewish people and belief that Salvation is of the Jews, meaning that when the Jews come to accept Jesus the world will be redeemed. So according to many Christians, the Jews play an essential role in the redemption of all humanity by them coming to accept Jesus, so from that perspective, in order for that to happen Jews need to be brought to Jesus through love, not hate and this is all ultimately done for the love of God.

A contrary view is that of Christians subscribing to the idea of replacement theology, that the Jews are no longer chosen, anyone is chosen who accepts Jesus. Which makes love for Jews no more of priority than love for anyone else, nor are they believed to play any significant role in the redemption of humanity. The Christian is obligated to spread the gospel to Jew and non-Jew alike.

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The Son Of God Vs God The Son

Christianity claims that Jesus was the Messiah, or sometimes uses the term the ‘Son of God.’ In the Christianity we encounter today for the most part, the term God the Son is used in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity, which claims that Jesus is of the same substance as the Father (Hashem) through a process called hypostasis, that God is triune consisting of three co-equal parts: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy spirit.

Whilst there is a lot of discussion around this topic, and there are Christian groups that deviate in some form or another from some aspects of this doctrine, we will in this post be looking at the term Son of God in Jewish and biblical understandings in contrast to the above view.

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