Jesus, Judaism

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Reply Sun 8 Nov, 2009 10:43 pm
Was Jesus on a mission to found a new religion, Christianity?
or
Was Jesus merely trying to reform the excesses of temple Judaism?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 07:58 am
@prothero,
I'm not sure the options are so simple. First, we would have to flesh out what it would mean for him to have wanted to found a new religion. We would have to delineate the move from parent faith to new faith, which is not so easy. Did the Buddha want to found a new religion, or did he just want to reform his period's Hinduism? In the case of the Buddha, I think he just taught dharma. Maybe the same can be said of Jesus?

Looking at the scripture, it seems clear that this character Jesus was not so fond of certain practices of the temple; he over turns the money changing tables, specifically criticizes the way some people prayed in the temple. So, sure, Jesus seems to have been trying to reform, by degree, Temple practices, but was this "merely" his aim? Did he have a particular aim other than to simply teach?

Was Martin Luther King, Jr trying to get that particular Civil Rights Act passed when he began marching, or did he just want racial justice and equality? Ya know?
 
prothero
 
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 09:57 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;102978 wrote:
I'm not sure the options are so simple. First, we would have to flesh out what it would mean for him to have wanted to found a new religion. We would have to delineate the move from parent faith to new faith, which is not so easy. Did the Buddha want to found a new religion, or did he just want to reform his period's Hinduism? In the case of the Buddha, I think he just taught dharma. Maybe the same can be said of Jesus?
It seems to me that Jesus teachings and manner of teaching were distinctly Jewish in both form and content. I see no evidence that Jesus thought of himself as a "the unique and only manifestation of god in the flesh". Jesus declined to deal with gentiles on more than a few occassions. The Catholic Church in my view does not seem to be founded on the teachings and life of the historical Jesus. I am a great admirer of the historical Jesus but no fan of the temporal church.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 10:47 pm
@prothero,
prothero;103080 wrote:
It seems to me that Jesus teachings and manner of teaching were distinctly Jewish in both form and content.


And they were, but there are also innovations in his teachings, just as there were innovations in the teachings of post-Temple Judaism which remained Jewish.

prothero;103080 wrote:
I see no evidence that Jesus thought of himself as a "the unique and only manifestation of god in the flesh".


The only? No, of course not. But he was clearly unique. He may not have said outright that he was unique, but I don't think he had to.

prothero;103080 wrote:
Jesus declined to deal with gentiles on more than a few occassions.


In Matthew 28 Jesus instructs his disciples to make disciples of all nations. Granted, this occurs after the resurrection, but we're dealing with a story. It's still teaching attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.

prothero;103080 wrote:
The Catholic Church in my view does not seem to be founded on the teachings and life of the historical Jesus.


We do not know the teachings and life of the historical Jesus.
It would be impossible to found a Church on the historical Jesus, just as it is impossible to build a church out of hot air.
 
prothero
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 08:11 pm
@prothero,
In the gospels in seems to me the major messages were about:
inner spirituality versus external piety
the primacy of love over legalism
the importance of the spiritual world versus materialism.
Jesus taught to feed the hungry, shelter the poor, heal the sick and comfort the afflicted.
I can not help but think modern churches (especially the Catholic Church) have recreated a faith based on temporal concerns, materiaism, legalism, a politics of holiness and purity and not based on the primary teachings in the gospels.
I can not help but think that a Jesus returning to earth would be displeased with the church supposedly constructed on the basis of his teachings.
In my view Jesus would have many of the same criticisms of the modern church as he had of temple Judaism.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 11:36 pm
@prothero,
I'm sorry, did you want to bash the Catholic Church or talk about Jesus as he relates to Judaism? I really don't get where you're going with this.
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 11:53 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;103235 wrote:
I'm sorry, did you want to bash the Catholic Church or talk about Jesus as he relates to Judaism? I really don't get where you're going with this.
I just think that formal doctrinal christianity is only loosely connected with the teachings and example of Jesus. I also think that the temporal church suffers from many of the same features as the temple judaism of which Jesus was so critical. I just wondered if others felt the same. I am not sure that counts as "bashing the Catholic church".
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 06:06 am
@prothero,
Well, you specifically pointed out the Catholic Church when giving a list of rather serious criticisms. That's bashing. Sometimes bashing is okay, even needed, but that's clearly bashing the RCC. Not necessarily a problem, just seems a bit off topic when I look at the title and original post of the thread.

I'm just more interested in the original topic.
 
KaseiJin
 
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 08:40 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;103084 wrote:
We do not know the teachings and life of the historical Jesus.


This particular point should be reiterated, and so I am highlighting it. With this in mind, actually, thought experiments would usually only have meaningful application to other social issues, and offer very little towards the issue of reconstructing the historical Yeshua of the early Christian movement.

Regarding the OP:
[indent]
prothero;102552 wrote:
Was Jesus on a mission to found a new religion, Christianity?
or
Was Jesus merely trying to reform the excesses of temple Judaism?
[/indent]

My position is that we should not concern ourselves with the inquiry of 'trying to do what,' because of the above (i.e. lack of knowledge), and because of branches and divisions within the Jewish system in the late Second Temple era. Whatever the personality and disposition of this historical Jewish man Yeshua, we would be safer in more simply seeing him as doing what he was doing--a part of which had surely been espousing a position which was somewhat different from the Sadducees and Pharisees, among others.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 10:07 am
@KaseiJin,
I'm right with you, Kasei - Jesus was doing what he was doing. If the rest of us see that as founding a new religion, I guess that's fine so long as we take to heart his teaching. If we see that as reforming Judaism, that's fine, too, I guess, again, so long as we take to heart the teaching.

It goes back to something I'm fairly sure of: good teaching is good teaching regardless of anything else. Focus on the teaching, on implementing the teaching everyday, and the rest follows naturally. A sort of 'practice, practice, practice - the rest will follow in due time, so don't worry about the rest.' Reminds me of "seek and ye shall find".
 
 

 
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