FROM: CHRISTIAN MESSIANIC ANALYSIS AND APOLOGETICS
BY: Steve Daskal
The Jewish faith, as was being taught & practiced in Jesus’ day, was no longer a single unified faith focused on “the Law and the Prophets,” but was made up of several sects that at best disdained or ignored each other, each following its own particular interpretations that suited them.
The Sadducees denied that anything beyond Torah [The Law, Pentateuch, Five Bks of Moses] was inspired of or delivered from God. So, they didn’t accept that there would be a Messiah at all. The Torah references frequently cited, such as Gen 3:15 and in Deuteronomy when Moses tells them that a Prophet like himself will come to lead Israel back to God after they have “fallen away,” point to from the perspectives of Christians, and of Pharisees, but they aren’t unambiguous/direct statements. The Psalms & the Prophets were considered by the Sadducees the way we’d consider books by C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton — good reading, edifying, but neither inspired nor authoritative for doctrine. The Kohanim [the priesthood-by-descent] and many of the other Levites were Sadducees. They controlled the Temple in Jesus’ day and had a sizeable presence on the Sanhedrin which was the religious court that had been granted ultimate socio-religious authority for the Jews of Judea under Roman rule.
No one has any control as to where they were born or to whom they were born. We are raised by parents who identify with a particular faith and that faith was transmitted to us. Some of us were then sent to religious schools where we were further indoctrinated into that faith. All faiths have variations within them. Movement within these variations can often cause at a minimum verbal conflict or shunning. In contemporary Christianity movement between Orthodox, Catholic, Traditional Protestant, Baptist and Evangelical occurs often without fear of physical repercussions. This cannot be said about Islam. Movement between Shi’a and Sunni groups can often end in violence. A Sunni who is a Salafi could never accept a relative or friend becoming Shi’a. This is so because Shi’ites are viewed as heretics. Judaism is extremely diverse. Rabbinical Judaism encompasses Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Khabad Lubavitch, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist. Khabad Lubavich is one of several kHasidic [or, more commonly, Chasidic or Hasidic] sects which are a branch within what would be considered ultra-Orthodox [kHeredim] Judaism. Khasidim have a different worship style [more music, more dancing, more spontaneity than other kHeredim], but equally strict social and lifestyle rules and similarly insular [avoiding contact with non-Kosher-keeping people who are viewed as ceremonially unclean]. Modern Orthodox Jews keep most of the same rabbinic laws, but will work and do business with, and to a large degree socialize with, non-Jews and secular Jews.
25 But I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last.
26 Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.
27 I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.
My heart longs within me.
Analysis: Before the advent of the prophets Job posed an interesting question. Will the Lord actually stand upon the earth? Will those who have died be resurrected to see the Lord? It was clear from the prophetic books of the Tenakh [but not from Torah] that there would be a resurrection of the [“righteous”] dead in the Last Day, and that God would again be among the people as He was in Eden. The Pharisees accepted this, as do modern or rabbinical Orthodox Jews, though they often add to this the belief that only after the Jews “clean up the world” and become more faithful will Messiah come. [This is not too different from Muslim beliefs about the Mahdi, which are probably drawn from this.]
In this post we continue our journey from non-belief through polytheism. The family of Abraham was also polytheists. From this Abraham heard a lone voice and brought monotheism to the family of humankind. Today the physical descendents of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob practice, to different degrees, Rabbinical Judaism. This is the Judaism that developed during the early Christian era. Yeshua (Jesus) was raised into a traditional Jewish family. As the Roman era initiated after the conquest of Palestine in 63 B.C. the Romans, through their general Pompey, slaughtered all of the Jewish priestly class. From this point forward the Romans appointed the Chief priest to administer Temple ritual. These appointments were usually made through another Jewish sect called the Sadducees. The Sadducees differed from the descendents of the Hasideans, who were the Pius Ones and observed the traditions of the Fathers, by only recognizing the first five books of the Tenakh as scripture. The Sadducees also did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees believed in the totality of the Jewish Bible but interpreted it through the prism of Jewish oral tradition.
Admittedly as I began to conceptualize how I would write this book I knew that I was behind the eight ball when it came to traditional Jewish sources especially as it related to Christianity and apologetics in general. My starting point was David Klinghoffer’s book “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus”. If his sources were good enough for him then they should be good enough for me. Of course I did not want to limit myself to his sources. So I researched another book written by author Roy Schoeman “Salvation is from the Jews”. My hunch was right. Schoeman provided a broader set of sources. While I was compiling these sources by either buying new books or researching on-line I met a man named David who was Orthodox Jewish. David gave me context concerning my sources. We e-mailed for over one year. My exposure to David and what he shared put the material that I was reading into sharp focus. Being hospitable I invited David to my home, but David told me that he could not expose himself or his family to my idolatry (New Covenant scriptures and belief in Yeshua as the Messiah). After I finished my first draft of the book I knew that I needed someone from a Jewish background to make sure that I presented all of the Judaica accurately. At this point while on an email distribution for items relating to the Middle East I met Steve Daskal. While reading one of his posts he spoke about being raised in a traditional Jewish home, but not being in complete agreement with rabbinical opinions. His search led him to read the New Covenant scriptures as a skeptic or one who could prove that these scriptures were a material misrepresentation of the Torah, Writings, and Prophets. Instead Steve, the traditionally raised Jewish man, discovered his messiah. I thought Steve may be open to read and edit my book. Steve was more than happy to make sure that I correctly represented the rabbinical facts in presenting both sides of the issue. Today Jewish Steve and Italian Joe are brothers in every sense of the word.