So, let's talk about Jesus.
Theologically, of course, there's no need to. Because Jesus does not feature in Judaism - not at all. But as Jews are asked so frequently about their views of Jesus, let's clarify:
You could go to every synagogue on planet Earth, and I guarantee, you will never hear Jesus being mentioned. Not even once. He is about as relevant to Judaism as, say, the Tooth Fairy is to Christianity. Many people find this strange; after all, millions of Christians proclaim Jesus as their 'messiah' and their 'saviour'. Why on earth don't Jews themselves place any importance to this most famous of historical figures?
Well, let's remember the context:
Back when Jesus was busy gallivanting around Judea, declaring himself as 'messiah', the Jews were living under Roman oppression. And it was tough. The Romans had a nasty habit of crucifying people - mainly Jews. Sometimes up to 100 Jews in a single day.
And as at many other hard times in Jewish history, the Jews longed for their Maschiach. The Torah makes it clear: the Jewish Maschiach is a normal mortal man - he's born, he lives, he dies. And BEFORE he dies, he must usher in world peace, rebuild the temple, redeem Israel, and redeem the world.
So where was he?
Numerous young Jewish blokes believed themselves to BE that messiah. Jesus was one of them but - Christian friends, brace yourselves - he was far from unique.
Indeed, the vast majority of Jews had no awareness of Jesus. It was only ever a tiny sect of Jews that followed Jesus. Christianity very swiftly became an entirely NON Jewish faith. There were NEVER thousands of Jews following Jesus.
Now, many Christians claim that Jesus 'fulfilled' the messianic prophecies - and they point to Jewish scripture in a bid to 'prove' this. They claim that, among other things, Isaiah mentions a 'virgin birth', for example.
What they forget is this:
1 - the very concept OF 'messiah' originated with Judaism. The messianic prophecies and description of the Maschiach were written in Hebrew, by Jews, for Jews. Thus it seems logical to include that the people who first described their messiah, are sufficiently intelligent to IDENTIFY THEIR OWN MESSIAH.
2 - when Christians study the 'old testament' many of them assume they are reading the 'jewish bible'. Well, newflash: they're not!
The OT is just a MIStranslation of a translation of the actual Jewish bible - the Tanakh. This was written, of course, in Hebrew - then translated into Greek and THEN into various other languages. Talk about meanings getting lost in translation! Many versions of the OT are FULL of incorrect translations. And as if that doesn't muddy the religious waters enough, the material is also organised differently in the OT - thus altering the context on many occasions.
Let's look at one of the most well known examples.
Many Christians insist that Isaiah references a 'virgin birth'.
But the Hebrew word used is ALMAH.
ALMAH = YOUNG WOMAN
It has always meant 'young woman' or 'maiden'.
The Hebrew word for 'virgin' is an entirely different word: it's 'BETULAH'.
Interestingly, SOME Christian bibles have now AMMENDED their translations to bring them into line with the original Hebrew. Here they are:
Christian Translations of Isaiah 7:14
Revised Standard Version: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Revised English BibleBecause you do, the Lord of his own accord will give you a sign; it is this: A young woman is with child, and she will give birth to a son and call him Immanuel.
New English BibleTherefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: A young woman is with child, and she will bear a son, and will call him Immanuel.
New Revised Standard Version: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures(Jehovah Witnesses) Therefore Jehovah himself will give you men a sign: Look! The maiden herself will actually become pregnant, and she is giving birth to a son, and she will certainly call his name Immanuel.
Good News Bible: Well then, the Lord himself will give you a sign: A young woman who is pregnant will have a son and will name him "Immanuel."
The Jerusalem Bible: Readers EditionThe Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: The maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.
The Bible: A New TranslationAn omen you shall have, and that from the Eternal himself. There is a young woman with child, who shall bear a son and call his name "Immanuel" (God is with us).
The Bible: An American Translation:Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold! A young woman is with child, and is about to bear a son; and she will call him "God is with us."
The International Critical Commentary:Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a damsel is with child, and shall bring forth a son, and call his name Immanuel.
The New Jerusalem Bible:The Lord will give you a sign in any case. It is this: The young woman is with child and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.
The Layman's Bible Commentary:In reply, Isaiah says that the Lord will provide a sign. It will be a most unusual and remarkable event. A young woman shall bear a son and name him "Immanuel," meaning "God is with us."
World Biblical Commentary: Therefore my Lord himself will give you (pl) a sign. Behold, the woman shall conceive and bearing a son -- she shall call his name "Immanuel."
The Bible in Basic English: For this cause the Lord himself will give you a sign; a young woman is now with child, and she will give birth to a son, and she will give him the name Immanuel.
Clearly, many Christian authorities now admit that there is NOTHING about a 'virgin birth' in Isaiah - or indeed anywhere else in the Torah. And why would there be? The mere idea is totally alien to Judaism.
The Jewish G-d NEVER takes human form - and certainly doesn't pop in to planet earth to quickly impregnate young Jewish chicks!!!
And there are other reasons why Jesus was not the Jewish Maschiach, quite apart from this. Jesus did not fulfill ANY of the Jewish messianic prophecies.
The Jewish Maschiach must:
- usher in world peace
- unite all Jews in Israel
- bring Torah to all the nations
- rebuild the temple
- REJECT doing miracles
- redeem Israel, and the world
- be from King David's line
- create G-d's kingdom, here on earth.
Now, did Jesus fulfill ANY of these BEFORE he died?
Answer: NO. NOT EVEN ONE.
Conclusion: Jesus was not, indeed could not have been, the Jewish Maschiach.
To reiterate a key point: the concept of 'messiah' is a JEWISH concept. Judaism was the first faith to articulate the idea. Christianity has revised the definition of 'messiah' so much that now, many Christians don't even know that THEIR messiah bears NO relation to the original Jewish Maschiach.
So, what DO Jews think about Jesus?
Well, there's no official line on him. Some Jews probably doubt he ever existed at all - remember, Jesus is not mentioned by any of the contemporary writers of his own time.
Many Jews regard Jesus as a young, charismatic preacher who sought to reform Judaism - but who never intended to 'start' a new faith. Jesus lived and died a practising Jew. He TAUGHT Judaism. 'Love Thy Neighbour' appears first in the TORAH.
Most Jews, though, don't think about Jesus at all. He simply is not relevant to Judaism.
And he certainly was not our Maschiach.
In short, then, Jesus was just a Nice Jewish Boy. And let's face it - if ever he should somehow return, he'd head straight for the nearest synagogue.