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I don’t know if you noticed this before or not, but it is interesting to see the perspective on Jesus from the Jewish Encyclopedia. Here is the link. Some of it is off obviously, but there are some interesting observations from the entry I thought were notable.
For example, regarding Jesus’ view of the Kingdom of God –
“The kingdom of God of which Jesus spoke had a decidedly political character, and all the apocalyptic writers so regard it. The Messiah with the twelve judges of the twelve tribes was expected to rule over the land (Matt. xvi. 27, xix. 28); the Judgment Day was to have its tortures of Gehenna for the wicked, and its banquet in Paradise for the righteous, to precede the Messianic time (Matt. viii. 11-12, xviii. 8-9; Luke xiii. 28-29, xiv. 15-24); the earth itself was to produce plenty of grapes and other fruit of marvelous size for the benefit of the righteous, according to Jesus‘ own statement to John (Papias, in Irenæus, “Adversus Hæreses,” v. 33-34).”
And on the crucifixion –
Before Pilate the sole charge could be attempted rebellion against the emperor. In some way, it would appear, the claim to be king of the Jews (or possibly of a kingdom of heaven) was made before him by Jesus himself, as is shown by the inscription nailed up in derision on the cross. To Pilate the problem presented was somewhat similar to that which would present itself to an Indian official of to-day before whom a Mohammedan should be accused of claiming to be the Mahdi. If overt acts in a disturbed district had accompanied the claim, the official could scarcely avoid passing sentence of condemnation; and Pilate took the same course.
Anything else stand out to you? Thoughts?

10 Responses to “Jewish Encyclopedia Entry on Jesus”

  1. on 27 Jul 2008 at 4:25 amWolfgang

    Hi Victor,

    indeed interesting …

    Especially in the fact that it repeats the incorrect wrong (!) expectation of the Jewish religious leadership of Jesus’ day who understood and interpreted the Scripture passages concerning the coming kingdom of God as a political re-establishing of their nation of Israel and who therefore expected a Messiah who would be a political leader … a catastrophic error in their understanding which was perhaps the root of their disbelief in Jesus the Messiah and which disbelief and disobedience also led to their utter destruction a generation later when they revolted against the Romans and in their error counted on God via a Messiah would defeat their political enemies and re-establish their nation as a liberated nation.

    Now, why would so many Christians today also hold to this idea of Jesus being a political liberator type of Messiah? Sure, they come up with a “fix for the interpretation problem” by claiming that Jesus’ first coming was not really meant to be of a political nature and that he will therefore come in his supposed yet future second comign as exactly such a political leader and political Israel liberator … I would however deem it not only possible but very probable that all such ideas of Jesus as being a political Messiah and the kingdom of God being a political kingdom/nation on earth as reflecting a wrong understanding of the Scripture records about the Messiah not only in Jesus’ days but also any other days.
    To say — as many Christians nowadays do — that the Jews in Jesus’ days were actually partly correct in their understanding of the Messiah being a political liberator and that they were just wrong in their timing seems to me to be incorrect as well

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  2. on 02 Aug 2008 at 10:36 amMark

    What happened to the other comments?

  3. on 02 Aug 2008 at 1:29 pmSean

    We had a problem with spam lately and were not able to keep up with the 1700 erroneous comments. JohnO fixed the problem but unfortunately several recent comments were deleted. So, sorry for the inconvenience. If you would be so kind, please rewrite your excellent comment, Mark. Thanks.

  4. on 03 Aug 2008 at 9:17 amMark

    For some reason I saved a copy of my first comment. I don’t think I saved the second, long one. I’ll work on rewriting that. Meanwhile, here is my first response.

    I hesitate to get into this again, as we went around in circles about it before (a year or two ago). But for the sake of anyone reading this who genuinely wants answers, I would ask you to provide specific proof that the understanding of the Kingdom of God which Jesus and his disciples preached (i.e. a political kingdom) is wrong. It agrees with everything the prophets foretold, and there is nothing in the NT that teaches that such an idea was wrong or was replaced by a “spiritual kingdom.” Yes, there is spiritual rulership in the church at this time, but nothing in the NT says that such spiritual rulership has replaced the idea of a literal kingdom on earth.

    The only things misunderstood were the necessity of Messiah’s suffering, the fact that there would be an interim period of time during which the kingdom would be present in a hidden “seed” form, the nature of the church during that interim period, and the fact that even Gentiles would be part of it. But the understanding of these “mysteries of the kingdom” are not merely “fixes for the interpretation problem,” they are what Jesus himself taught, both in person and through the NT writers, especially Paul. Yet nowhere is it said that the original message of a coming world rule has changed or been replaced.

    You make the broad statement that this understanding of the Kingdom is and was wrong but I’d like to see specific Scriptural proof.

  5. on 03 Aug 2008 at 10:47 amjoseph Kiereck

    My name is Joe:

    According to the Bible two thirds of the angels did not rebell in the beginning. No sin was found in them much like Jesus having no sin found in him. Is their a similarity between the two or not.

  6. on 03 Aug 2008 at 2:24 pmWolfgang

    Hi Mark,

    you request

    But for the sake of anyone reading this who genuinely wants answers, I would ask you to provide specific proof that the understanding of the Kingdom of God which Jesus and his disciples preached (i.e. a political kingdom) is wrong.

    The specific proof is in the very statements Jesus and his disciples made, in particular concerning the timing, and comparing it with what happened! The Jews were mistaken with their ideas / interpretation of the OT scriptures / expectations that the promised Messiah would be a political ruler and would liberate them from the Roman rule and set up the “Davidic kingdom” once again and for all time.

    Jesus and his disciples NEVER (!) preached a political kingdom … else, where is it? why did it not come to pass as prophesied? there is no idea in Scripture which would teach that Jesus would set up a political nation or liberate the existing political nation of Israel, or that he would be a “political world ruler”, etc ….

    The proof you request is in the very scriptures which speak of the then imminent coming kingdom … one need only compare the prophecies made with their fulfillment and it is not difficult to recognize that Jesus and his disciples were NOT preaching a political kingdom … if anything, the unbelieving Jews were proclaiming such expectations concerning the Messiah and his rule!

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  7. on 04 Aug 2008 at 1:24 pmMark

    One of the problems with the whole debate about whether the Kingdom Jesus preached was a political one was the question of timing. Skeptics who don’t even believe in Jesus point to the fact that he preached a coming world kingdom and yet it didn’t come to pass, so he must not be what he claimed to be. Others who do believe in him tend to admit that Jesus seemed to be referring to a world empire, but since it didn’t come to pass they conclude that he must not have been referring to a literal kingdom – it must be figurative or spiritual.

    I believe the best way to determine what the Bible in fact says, is to begin with the definition of what God’s Kingdom is, according to the Old and New Testaments. THEN we can get into a discussion about the timing. I think it is a mistake to begin with the timing issues and try to define the Kingdom based on that.

    I have written a lot about it on my website (especially the OT Foundation page – http://godskingdomfirst.org/OTFoundation.htm) and there are extensive audio, video, and written articles on Sean’s Kingdom of God resources page. But a brief overview has to go back to Abraham. God promised him LAND, not only to his descendants but to HIM. This promise is extended to his offspring, and later to the nation of Israel. Paul writes that we who are Christ’s are heirs of Abraham according to the promises that God made to him. This is the very foundation of our faith.

    Later, God told David that He would “appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more” (II Samuel 7:10). Moreover He promised that of David’s kingdom there would be no end.

    While the immediate fulfillment of II Samuel 7:12 was in David’s son Solomon, like many prophecies there was also another, long-term fulfillment. The second Psalm is a Messianic prophecy, referring to the future rule of God and His anointed (Messiah, or Christ). “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (vs. 2-3). But God says that He will “set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (v. 6). He also says, prophetically, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” (v. 7). The coming king would not only be of David’s lineage, but also the Son of God. He would rule the nations mightily on his Father’s behalf. “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (vs. 8-9). For this reason, the kings of the earth are warned, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss [give honor, do homage to] the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way” (vs. 11-12). God will eventually send His anointed king to rule the earth and rid it of those who would rebel against God’s judgment. This has been the hope of Israel all along, starting with the promise of land to Abraham, and the promise of a never-ending kingdom to David. (See also Psalm 72:1-20.)

    The children of Israel did not stay faithful to their end of the covenant, and as a result were sent into captivity. Jeremiah 16:10-15 says that the reason for Israel’s great calamity was that they continued to serve idols. But in the same breath God promises to restore them to their land. He makes a similar prophecy in Jeremiah 23.

    Jeremiah 23:
    1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
    2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
    3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
    4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
    5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
    6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
    7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
    8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

    All of the Old Testament Prophets speak of God’s promise to restore the kingdom to Israel. In Daniel, we are given a vision of future events, including a succession of world empires that would dominate Israel following Babylon. But the last one would be replaced by God’s kingdom on earth. “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

    These and many other verses (many of them referenced on my web page) refer to a literal kingdom, wherein righteousness would rule. God’s Messiah would reign as king on a restored earth, and eventually the world would be restored to a paradise as God had originally designed earth to be.

    To be continued….

  8. on 04 Aug 2008 at 2:02 pmMark

    When Jesus came along and said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” the Jews who were familiar with the writings of the Prophets knew what he meant.

    He quoted Psalm 37:11 when he said that the meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). He taught his disciples to pray, “Thy Kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10, etc.). He said that “many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28-29).

    Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, which is the anointed King to come. He claimed to be the Son of God, which is also a Messianic title, based on Psalm 2:7. He also referred to himself as the Son of Man. The term “son of man” literally means a man, and is used as such in a number of places in the Old Testament, referring to other men. But the title of “The Son of Man” comes from Daniel and refers to the man to whom was given “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom,” and whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14). It is a title that is closely linked to the Messiah’s rule of God’s Kingdom.

    Jesus referred to the Son of Man coming in his glory (Matthew 16:27; 19:28; 24:30; 25:31; Mark 8:38; 13:26; Luke 9:26; 21:27). At that time he would come with his angels, and judge the world. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:43). “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). Everything that he preached revolved around him being the coming King that would rule the world on God’s behalf, as foretold by the Hebrew prophets.

    Jesus promised that the Kingdom would be inaugurated “in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,” and the disciples would “sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28). At that time, many would “come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).

    If Jesus changed the definition of the Kingdom of God in his teachings, there is no record of it. The idea that it really meant a spiritual kingdom, or a figurative reign, or the reign of God in one’s heart, all came about later, as ways of trying to explain the fact that the kingdom had not come to pass. What those who use such explanations fail to undestand is that Jesus never changed the definition of the Kingdom of God, but he added some details about what would take place before the Kingdom was set up.

    He referred to the “mysteries of the Kingdom” including the necessity of him dying for our sins so we could have access to that kingdom. They also included the fact that there would be an interim period before the Kingdom was inaugurated, during which the Kingdom would be present in a partial, hidden form. The parables about the kingdom deal with this. In addition, Paul wrote (by revelation from Jesus Christ) about what Jesus’ death had accomplished, and also that the Gentiles were now to be fellow heirs and of the same body, and partakers of the same promises that God had made to the Jews. All these things were added details that had not been known or understood previously. But nowhere does Jesus redefine the Kingdom of God.

    One reference that was made in Wolfgang’s post that got lost was where Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). The word for “of” is the Greek word ek, which Strong’s defines as, “a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds).” It’s referring to the source of the Kingdom, not where it would be located. The Kingdom comes from God and not from this world, but it will be located on earth.

    There are many who consider the idea of an earthly kingdom to be carnal and spiritually immature. They think that the more mature understanding is that of God’s reign in our hearts. They point to Luke 17:21, from which Jesus is frequently quoted as saying “The Kingdom of God is within you.” They interpret this as Jesus teaching that the “real” meaning of the Kingdom Gospel is a kingdom in the heart and not a literal kingdom on earth. It is thought that just as Jesus changed many of the Old Testament laws, he also redefined the nature of God’s Kingdom.

    First of all, the wording in the KJV is an unfortunately poor translation. The words for “within you” can also be translated “among you” or “in your midst” and are rendered as such in several other English versions of the Bible. In this passage Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees who were constantly against everything he was doing, and whom he called children of the Devil. If he meant to say “the kingdom is within you,” he would certainly not have said it to the Pharisees. He was actually referring to the fact that manifestations of the Kingdom were among them for all to see. He couldn’t have been suddenly changing the definition of the Kingdom, as it would contradict the many Scriptures that clearly present the Kingdom as a literal, future one, in particular the verses immediately following this passage. Read the rest of Luke 17 and you will see that.

    The understanding of the Kingdom of God is based on the words of the Prophets. The Jews were expecting a political Messiah, based on what the Prophets had spoken of. They were not wrong about their expectations, but they did not understand the things that had to happen first. But these “Mysteries of the Kingdom” are not just made up to explain away the problems in the timing. They were spoken of by Jesus himself, both directly and through Paul and the other NT writers. (I have refenced many of these Scriptures on the Kingdom Come page of my web site: http://godskingdomfirst.org/KingdomCome.htm).

    In order to knowledgeably discuss this, I urge you to read the resources I refer to and find out what it is we believe. Then weigh your “truth” against our “error.” If you think we are wrong then provide what you believe to be proof from the Scriptures, as opposed to just a blanket statement, “this is wrong.”

  9. on 04 Aug 2008 at 2:03 pmWolfgang

    Hi Mark

    you mentioned above

    I believe the best way to determine what the Bible in fact says, is to begin with the definition of what God’s Kingdom is, according to the Old and New Testaments. THEN we can get into a discussion about the timing. I think it is a mistake to begin with the timing issues and try to define the Kingdom based on that.

    The trouble with this approach is this: It leaves out a very essential aspect which will help determine the nature of the kingdom/rule that is being spoken about in the OT and NT scriptures … and in fact pretty much assumes a certain nature of the rule or kingdom which then produces problems with the timing factors and ends up in all kinds of wild speculations concerning the timing of the Messiah’s reign.

    Even in the OT sections, such as those in Daniel, rather clear statements concerning the timing of the coming of the Messiah and his rule are made … and these simply do not match what happened IF one insists on a political earthly kingdom rule and that the Messiah is to be a political ruler of either an earthly nation of Israel or even the whole world. The expectations for a political Messiah liberator and ruler of the Jews in Jesus’ day reflected a wrong understanding of the OT prophecies … and those same expectations being held by Christians nowadays do not turn into a correct understanding just because almost 2000 years have passed in the meantime and Christians put the fulfillment of those prophecies in the still future (thereby contradicting what OT prophets such as Daniel wrote amd what the Lord Jesus himself as well as his apostles taught)

    By the way, a “literal rule” still does not have to mean a “political rule” or a “rule over a physical earthly nation or planet earth as a whole” …

    IF the timing aspects of the prophecies and their supposed fulfillment are disregarded or postponed while endeavouring to understand the nature of the kingdom, one will arrive at a wrong understanding of the nature of the Messiah’s rule … one will arrive at ideas which perhaps sound great (“a restored earth” or “world as a restored paradise as Hod had originally designed earth to be”, etc) but which do not agree with the overall scope of the Scriptures which includes a change from the “physical, earthly and temporal” to a “spiritual, heavenly and eternal” (cp 2Co 4:18 – 5:1ff)

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  10. on 04 Aug 2008 at 4:26 pmMark

    The trouble with this approach is this: It leaves out a very essential aspect which will help determine the nature of the kingdom/rule that is being spoken about in the OT and NT scriptures … and in fact pretty much assumes a certain nature of the rule or kingdom which then produces problems with the timing factors and ends up in all kinds of wild speculations concerning the timing of the Messiah’s reign.

    It doesn’t assume a certain nature of the rule or kingdom, it arrives at that nature by reading the Scriptures that refer to it.

    The timing issues do not determine the nature of the promised Kingdom, because many of the Scriptures which clearly describe what it will be like make no statement as to when it will come to pass (Daniel being the most obvious exception, but even he says that the prophecy is sealed until the time of the end.)

    The expectations for a political Messiah liberator and ruler of the Jews in Jesus’ day reflected a wrong understanding of the OT prophecies … and those same expectations being held by Christians nowadays do not turn into a correct understanding just because almost 2000 years have passed in the meantime and Christians put the fulfillment of those prophecies in the still future

    You’re still just making a sweeping statement that it was a wrong understanding. Can you demonstrate Scripturally that it was wrong other than saying “it must be wrong because it didn’t happen”? The vast amount of Scripture that plainly describes it as a Kingdom on earth which subdues the nations and establishes God’s righteous rule cannot be swept away so easily. And if the Jews in Jesus’ day had a wrong understanding of the Kingdom, where does he correct them?

  

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