Saturday, January 1, 2011

Jesus Was Not the Messiah! Can We Lay This One to Rest?

This was an argument I recently got into with a fellow alumnus from Lawrence University, who happened to be Christian: Was Jesus the Messiah?  I was trying to figure out why this became such a contentious debate.  It had something to do with the thesis that Christianity presents, which is Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophecies according to Hebrew Scriptures (תַּנַ"ךְ).  I cannot emphasize the "according to Hebrew Scriptures" part enough.  Just about any other theological claim they make, such as Jesus dying for my sins, Immaculate Conception, the Resurrection, etc., are primarily based in the Christian New Testament.  This claim has a different nature to it because the Christian will lecture me on how I should read my own religious text.  This claim comes with a lot of chutzpah because when I am analyzing the text, I am actually reading it in the original Hebrew.  The Christian, on the other hand, is reading an English translation of the Sepuginant.  For those of you who don't know, the Sepuginant is the Greek translation of the תַּנַ"ךְ‎.  Just so we have that one cleared up, virtually every Christian is reading a translation of a translation.  I can think of no other major religion that discourages, whether intentionally or otherwise, to read what they consider their most sacred of scriptures in its original language.  Just from being multi-lingual myself, I know that meanings get lost in one translation.  Imagine what happens in two!  I never understood how a Christian could not only put so much faith in a translation of a translation, but then have the audacity to tell me that they have a better understanding of the text when I do.

The other reason why this dispute is so confrontational is because the Christian affirmation that Jesus was the Messiah is a negation of Judaism, whereas Judaism's assertion that the Messiah has not arrived is a negation of Christianity. 

With that in consideration, let's get back to the actual fulfillment of the prophecies.  I want to make the argument simpler, and thus make the question simpler: "Were the Messianic prophecies fulfilled?"  I don't want to get into who allegedly fulfilled the prophecies, simply if they were fulfilled. I will, however, add comments specific to Jesus since they have bearing on the conversation.  Therefore, if the claim is that the prophecies in תַּנַ"ךְ‎ were fulfilled, that means the criteria have to be in the תַּנַ"ךְ‎.  That means that you cannot add any new criteria to the list or make up any. Otherwise, you would negate your own thesis.  After listing the criteria, you need to acquire the answer to fulfillment by consulting history.  Let us take a look at the authentic Messianic prophecies:

1) Genealogical. The Messiah must be descended from the House of David (Jeremiah 33:17-20, 1 Chronicles 17:11-12).  Under Jewish law, lineage is traced through the biological father (Numbers 1:18-44, 34:14, Leviticus 24:10). According to the Christian New Testament, Jesus was born of Immaculate Conception (Matthew 1:18), which means Jesus had no biological father.  Having no biological father means that you cannot be considered as a candidate for the Messiah. You can’t use Joseph as Jesus’ father because he was adopted, and the genealogy thus cannot be passed through adoption. But for argument’s sake, let's give Christians yet another benefit of a doubt and use Joseph for a moment. The Christian New Testament has two genealogies for Jesus, one from Matthew (chapter 1) and one from Luke (chapter 3). Not only can these two not agree on who Jesus’ [adopted] grandfather was, but more glaringly, there are an additional fifteen generations in Luke’s version that are not in Matthew’s!  Plus, these two genealogies conflict with the account of David's actual genealogy given in Chronicles 1:3.  If the Christian New Testament were a divine text, I would question its veracity based on this discrepancy. This is particularly ironic since Paul says that we should avoid foolish genealogies (Titus 3:3, 1 Timothy 1:4).  Furthermore, this is very problematic for Christendom because this is the only authentic messianic criterion that Christianity claims that Jesus actually fulfilled.

2) Bringing the people Israel out of exile and back to the land of Israel (Isaiah 11:12, 27:12-13, Jeremiah 33:7). Jesus could not have possibly have fulfilled this prophecy since the people Israel were still living in Israel during his life. What’s more is that the people of Israel were expelled from the land shortly after Jesus’ death.  It is difficult for an alleged Messianic candidate to have brought people back from exile when they were not even in exile in the first place.  Even today, approximately 60% of Jews are still in exile, so to say that this prophecy has ever been fulfilled is inaccurate.

3) Building of the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28, Micah 4:1, Isaiah 2:2-3). During Jesus’ lifetime, the Second Temple was still standing, and shortly after Jesus’ death, the Second Temple was destroyed. To this very day, there still is no Third Temple, and we are thus awaiting its construction.

4) Universal peace (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3, Ezekiel 37:26). Jesus himself did not embody this prophecy when he said that “he didn’t come to send peace but the sword (Matthew 10:34).” Even if you were to contend that the verse is taken out of context, it doesn’t matter because all you have to do is open a history textbook and a newspaper to know that universal peace has not come to mankind during any point since the prophecy has been made.

5) Universal knowledge and recognition of G-d (Isaiah 11:9, 40:5, Zephaniah 3:9, Jeremiah 31:33).  Christians will claim that over two billion people are Christians.  This ignores the fact that the other five billion people in the world are not Christian.  They also have forgotten that they are claiming that they are fulfilling תַּנַ"ךְ‎, which means that the divinity in reference is Infinite Oneness, not some triune deity (please see Zechariah 14:9).  Since not everybody in the world is a pure monotheist, this is yet another prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.

Christian apologetics will contend that the "peace" is in our hearts and that Israel is not an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly kingdom.  We have to remember that if Christians are claiming to have fulfilled a certain text, the criteria have to come from that particular text, or they are actually fulfilling something else.  Much to a Christian's dismay, both the universal peace and the prophecies referring to Israel are very much in reference to this world, not some otherworldly realm.

A similar argument can be made for Jesus supposedly fulfilling these during a Second Coming, which comes with its own problems.  For one, there is no mentioning of a Second Coming in the תַּנַ"ךְ‎.  Second, this notion is strictly a Christian one, one that seems to be derived from, as Rabbi David Wolpe puts it, a Christian disappointment in Jesus' death and a theological compensation for Jesus' failure to redeem the world [as Messiah].  Third, we are technically dealing with Jesus' third coming.  The first coming covers the period prior to Jesus' death and the second coming spans the period from his alleged resurrection to his alleged ascension.  Fourth, this would subsequently discredit Jesus' first coming.  Anybody can round up religious disciples, and upon death, claim that they are going to be resurrected in the Second Coming.  In all sincerity, either you or I could make that claim!  Finally, the Christian New Testament reports that Jesus' return would be imminent (Matthew 16:28, 24:34, Luke 21:31-32, Mark 13:30), i.e. within the lifetime of Jesus' contemporaries.  The passing of nearly two millennia without Jesus' return further enfeebles the Christian argument that Jesus was the Messiah. 

Postscript: Christians claim the Jesus has fulfilled the Messianic prophecies according to תַּנַ"ךְ‎, which means that they are de facto claiming that they have fulfilled Judaism.  In order to do that, they need to prove that these prophecies have been fulfilled according to תַּנַ"ךְ, and subsequently according to Judaism.  As illustrated, we have yet arrived at the point in time in which we can say that the Messianic prophecies have been fulfilled.  Any Christian attempt to explain this glaring reality away has to concoct responses that are separate from the authentic Messianic prophecies, meaning that they are fulfilling something else rather than תַּנַ"ךְ‎.  By using such responses as the Second Coming or that "Israel is in reference to an otherworldly realm," Christians are not responding with evidence.  As Rabbi Mordechai Becher puts it, "They are answers because the evidence go against the thesis [that Jesus was the Messiah]. You can't bring me 'proof' from an answer you are making up (i.e., it is not one of the criterion laid out in the Hebrew Scriptures) in order to deal with contrary evidence."  In summation, Christians have underminded the very thesis they hold dear and have come up with these theological acrobatics to attempt to justify their belief in a failed messiah.  The fact of the matter is that an ample look at Scriptures proves indubitably that we are still waiting for the day that these prophecies are actually fulfilled, and let's hope that they are fulfilled sooner rather than later.

For further information on the topic, please consult the following sources:


  1. Hello,

    Just wanted to help with your confusion. I have no intentions of converting you, but just think you should be aware of what Christianity purports - so you, perhaps, criticize it more accurately in the future.
    1) The bloodline of David was said to have been of Mary, Jesus' mother. There is a difference between what "is," and what is "known to be." Just because the RECOGNITION of the bloodline goes by father, it doesn't matter either way (mother or father) from a genetic standpoint.
    2) This one confuses me. Do you mean that Christians think Jesus' SECOND coming is soon, because Israel has re-formed? Otherwise, what you said makes no sense.
    3)You got me on the third temple! :-) Since many Christians, including myself, believe Jesus will be here about this time next year (per Revelations, and Joel, OT), perhaps he will build it.
    4)Once Jesus kills 'evil' with his SWORD, then there will be PEACE.
    5)I love this one - pure monotheism. Again, the fact that you do not recognize that Christianity is pure theism is just part of the brainwashing you grew up with. But it's easy to answer - in two ways. First is by stating that H2O is ALWAYS H2O. Two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen. YET, depending on it's environment it can take THREE forms...WATER, ICE, AND STEAM. Such it is with God. Plus, jews already have 2 of the 3 parts of the do you call yourself a dualist? No, of course not. You recognize only ONE GOD. Your hebrew word (that I can't remember) for the energy which is everywhere, invisible, indivisible, in plants, etc. I'll have to look up the word again, but that would be the equivalent of the (holy spirit), God the Father (HaShem), and then the third part...God comes in the form of a man. People saying we are not monotheists would be like you saying that because we believe God can take any form (like Native American Indians believed), so when we say he can become a deer, lion, bunny, or eagle...we MUST WORSHIP 4 GODS. How dumb. It is only the evangelicals (3% of ALL Christianity), who seem to think God had a son and one needs to be "saved." But that is new to America, and never part of any other kind of Christianity. Jesus was JUST GOD. He became a human to teach men a better way (Judaism for non-jews, really). THAT'S IT. You have to remember evangelicals are too crazy for the 97% 'normal' Christians to deal with. They writhe around on the floor, speaking gibberish, drinking poison, and handling snakes to test their faith.Most people just consider them a cult (whose members spend alot of time on the internet). Christianity does vary a great deal, but it is in the details. The main backbone of Christianity, that Jesus was simply a form God took, is common among all.
    And the fact that all Abrahamic religions are monotheistic (5 billion) and even Hindus have followed this Judaic trend, and even though they have hundreds of gods, they refer to God, with the capital G. Perhaps the other gods have been relegated to worker bees.
    The only folks that have no God, are east Asians/Buddhists en masse. And they have the INTERNET, and are aware of the singular God concept. You must remember that 'recognize' doesn't not mean 'worship,' or even 'revere.' It simply means to be aware of something.

    1. To Anonymous:

      I am going to address all your points, but I want to address the most egregious of comments first, which is you think that I was brainwashed because my Jewish upbringing allows me to have an inaccurate view of Christianity. I hate to break it to you, but I was raised as a Roman Catholic and converted to Judaism in my early twenties. If any brainwashing was going on here, it was taking place by a Christian institution. I thank G-d that I was smart enough to see through all the lies in Christian theology, so believe when I say I know exactly what Christianity teaches. Now that we got past that your genetic fallacy argument , let’s begin with my point-by-point response.

      1) Much like I stated in the postscript of my blog entry, if Christians are going to claim that Christian Scriptures are a continuation of Hebrew Scriptures, then you need to fulfill the criteria that are in Hebrew Scriptures. Making up new criteria and claiming that you have followed what is in Hebrew Scriptures is merely your own fulfillment of self-prophecy. Hebrew Scriptures states that lineage is determined through the father….end of story. In Christian Scripture, Jesus’ disciples attempted to determine Jesus’ genealogy through his father, and not through Mary. Even your own scripture recognizes this fact, and having to bring up Mary shows just how much you are grasping at straws.

      2) If you read the paragraph before the postscript, I can most definitely assure you that I do not believe in the second coming of Jesus. The idea of a second coming was a coping mechanism for those who could not deal with the fact that Jesus did not fulfill a single messianic prophecy during his mortal, human life. As for whether I think Israel is “re-formed,” there are still plenty of Jews living in the Diaspora, so the fact that we’re waiting for this messianic requirement to be fulfilled means that Jesus failed to fulfill yet another messianic requirement.

      3) No need to respond.

      4) Aside from the fact that Jesus said “he did not come to send peace but the sword,” this goes back to my point of the second coming being a coping mechanism. There is no explicit mentioning in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Messiah needing a second coming. Let’s just accept that Jesus came, he died, and that he didn’t fulfill any of the messianic prophecies.

    2. 5) Your statement of Judaism being a dualistic religion is ill-informed, to say the least. Judaism believes in one, Infinite G-d, plain and simple. It is the second of the Thirteen Principles of Judaism expounded upon by Maimonides. As for your H2O example, water, ice, and steam are still three distinguishable, finite entities, which shows how much you do not understand the concept of Infinite Oneness, i.e., monotheism. Much like your H2O example, your Scriptures are replete of examples showing that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate entities (e.g., Mark 10:18, 13:32, 15:34; Matthew 12:32, 19:16, 20:23, 27:26). Since you believe the Christian idea of a triune deity is based on the erroneous premise that 1+1+1=1, you are hardly in the position to lecture me about the meaning about monotheism (“mono-“ does mean “one”, not “three").

      Although “worship” doesn’t mean “recognize,” that’s not the case when you look at the text in the original Hebrew, which I will actually use to make my point. In Isaiah 11:9 and Jeremiah 31:33, the verb לדעת (“to know”) is used. לדעת means that one conceptually understands, in this case, the idea that G-d is one. The fact I have to have this conversation with you, as well with many other Christians, shows that we are nowhere near that conceptual understanding, or that messianic fulfillment for that matter. Even better is Zephaniah 3:9, which explicitly uses the verb לעבד (“to worship”) in reference to one G-d.

      (Just as a side note, the early Christians believed that Jesus was merely a prophet. It was due to the Nicene Creed in the 4th century C.E. that Jesus became deified under Christian theology, which was the point where Christianity went from being an offshoot of Judaism to becoming an entirely different religion.)

      The concept of a triune deity (or even the Hindu concept of deities) does not line up with monotheism. At best, it has become so diluted that it is no longer recognizable as a form of monotheism (unless you want want to strip words of their meaning, at which point, why bother discussing such matters?). To summarize my comments, I am well aware of what Christianity teaches, mainstream Christian theology does not teach monotheism, and Jesus did not fulfill any of the messianic prophecies.


      The Libertarian Jew