Actually, if memory serves me correctly, many of the Rabbis throughout the centuries insisted that even though these "laws" existed in principle in the Tanakh, that they were never carried out in practice. Another view has taught that the carrying out of the death penalty while correct in principle, should require such a strict amount of evidence that it makes the actual act of carrying it out impossible.
I could see such an interpretation developing in the disapora, when the Judaic community lacked power to enforce OT laws, living in Christian kingdoms. I'm very glad they have this view, but I just don't think that's what it says. I mean, it talks about stoning kids for disrespecting parents. I disagree with the rule itself, whether or not it was commonly practiced. It's not something I can believe in. Maybe in that time it was ok, but not today, and rabbinical Judaism doesn't say then it was ok, now it isn't. That's why I like Christianity. It says we don't have to focus on stoning blasphemers and gross eye for eye eye-deas.
If I thought all this stuff was ok, I would be in favor. But I reject it. That's not what I believe in or want.
Forty years before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, i.e. in 30 CE, the Sanhedrin effectively abolished capital punishment, making it a hypothetical upper limit on the severity of punishment, fitting in finality for God alone to use, not fallible people.OK, SO NOW WE HAVE EVIDENCE THAT STONING OF CHRIST'S FOLLOWERS BY PAUL AND OTHERS DID NOT HAPPEN??
Most followers of Judaism[who?] either oppose the death penalty altogether or support it only in extreme cases with absolute proof, such as well-documented cases of genocide.
I guess former prosecutor & PA governor Rendell isn't very faithful.
I also remember reading that some of the Rabbis took much of the Hebrew Scriptures as allegorical. The idea that people took the Bible absolutely literally in the ancient world is actually a modern construct of Fundamentalist Protestants, (and Fundie Atheists) and not the reality of the Church fathers or the Talmud.
I think that alot of people in the ancient world took the story of the flood literally, but it sounds like others you are saying understood it allegorically. That's heartening.
I had a friend who went to an Orthodox Jewish school and they told him he HAD to take it literally.
My point in raising this was that describing the OT as allegorical would make it easier to convert to Judaism, since its clear that the unusual New Testament story about Jesus is meant to be taken literally.
But nevertheless, the OT is too vengeful, and I reject its approach once I know about the gospel.
The only way to get around it is reconstructionism- saying that the prophets were wrong about the rules, or that the Tanakh is wrong. People were living by these rules in Jesus' time, so even if the Jewish community changes its interpretation, the harsh rules are still there.
No, they were not living by these rules at the time of Jesus. For starters, only Rome could carry out an execution. Now, certainly some Jews did believe the death penalty was correct for certain immoral behavior, however there are in fact Christians today who think such things. So that doesn't prove anything.
OK, my idea was that Jesus took issue with observance of harsh rules and stopped a prostitute from being stoned, but you are saying people didn't live by them at that time?
It's also important to realize that pre-Christian Judaism was never a monolithic block. Different interpretations of the Tanakh existed, as is obvious by the various sects at the time of Jesus, all with radically different interpretations of Israelite history and the Hebrew Scirptures.
So And it's not just a few bad quotes like you find in the New Testament. The view of God in the Old Testament IS quite different. You can't just dismiss it as allegorical, because many of the allegories themselves (eg. bears eating kids for disrespect) focus on a vengeful view of God.
well the Old Testament view of God is not quite as monolithic as we read in our English Bibles. In fact it's quiet chaotic at times. One moment God is a loving father concerned about the poor, the widows, and helpless as in the Prophets, next moment is striking down people in rage. None of that makes any sense, that is until one begins to study the origins of the bible, biblical editors, and redactors and the fact that it didn't drop down from heaven alll bound in leather. With that said, generally speaking I cannot really disagree with you that the God as portrayed in the OT is very different at times, than the view of Him in the NT.
The only way to get around these rules and the Old Testament, if one accepts the Tanakh's validity is for someone greater than the prophets to change it. You either need God to speak like he spoke to Moses, or you need Messiah to make the change.
But we as Christians still find our foundation within the Old Testament. I realize the OT has been ignored within Orthodoxy for quite a long time, and that many raised Orthodox can't even tell you who Samson was, or really any other story from the OT, but that doesn't mean we've tossed it away. We have almost the identical problem in "defending" the Old Testament that Judaism has. I mean without the Old Testament 'proofs' of Jesus Messiahship, we'd have no ground to stand on at all.
Sure, it's a foundation, and the proofs are very important, but that doesn't make it ok in our time to follow these rules about killing people for failing to observe sabbath etc, and making a New Covenant was an important way to replace this outdated idea, which may have been ok in 2000 BC.
The very concept of a Messiah comes right out of Judaism. Not to mention, parts of the New Testament, at least according to some people are in fact WORSE than the Old Testament. How so? Well, the OT has no concept of an eternal hell at all. It just isn't there. Once you die, you're dead! That's it! At best, one can find reference to hades, which is described as some sort of eternal drunken stuper. Yet the NT is full of references to people being tortured and burned for all of eternity simply because they don't ascribe to specific teachings about Jesus. Weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth because some is not sure Jesus is who He said He is! Most skeptics and atheists will take the OT "afterlife" over the NT afterlife any day.
I know dude. That's why I said Christianity has it's own problems, and I'm interested to see how you can explain them, but I still reject the vengeful orientation of the OT when I know that compassion and love can be new approach.
Of course all that is assuming these texts were meant to be taken word for word literally in the first place. I tend to prefer Origen's opinion that God deliberately put some of these awful stories in the Bible (like Elijah sending two she bears to kill some children who were making fun of him) to make us look beyond the text, the historical and the literal lessons; to force us to look deeper at the true meaning and the inner depth of what the Scriptures are trying to convey.
. I hope you are right about the particular unreal incidents in the allegories.
That is in fact what the NT writers did with the prophecies concerning Christ. As Marc mentioned I believe, if one reads those prophecies in their historical, literal and textual context, they don't say anything about Jesus or any coming Messiah at all.
Daniel 9? There were no prophecies of the coming Messiah as understood in their correct historical context?
Yet the early Christians believed they did! Were they just grabbing at straws? Well if one is a literal Fundie of some sort, the answer is, yes. They were just making up stuff.
OK, some things, like bowing down to Moses' snake in the desert on the stick=Jesus on a cross.
However if one understands that people back then did not take all the Scriptures literally, (or only literally) and if one understands the tradition of Jewish Midrash, then not only does what the NT writers did begin to make sense, one can begin to "see" the prophecies where no such prophecies actually exist. Because we're looking deeper than the words on the page, we're looking within words, within ourselves, and within a more mystical understanding of the Bible. This is what Judaism does with those offensive texts, and what it has been doing for a very long time.
Yes, you can do this. Here, I'll give it a try: about stoning sinners- what it means is destroying them "as a sinner."
What we are really doing is morphing the meaning to fit a Christian view. Maybe this is ok once you've accepted Christianity. But the spirit and sense of the Old Testament doesn't do this. There's enough of a vengeful angel-forgiveness ratio in the Old Testament that it's not loyal to the spirit or meaning of the book by itself without taking it together with the New Testament.
Anyway, I am not really sure that twisting the meaning of the words to mean the seeming opposite is valid in the first place.
I am left with the problem of how God could have told people to live by the Old Testament before Christ, and the best way to rationalize it is to say it was appropriate for their socio-economic development, since it might have been more compassionate than other religions that corresponded to that same level of development. I am not sure that is satisfactory.
it actually wasn't more compassionate than other religions in fact. the Buddha figured this out 500 years before Christ. The founder of Jainism figured it out, and so did many of the Greek philosophers. (ie: they figured out killing people was wrong) But then of course, my view is that I see God speaking through Israel, through the prophets, and then these men wrote down, over many centuries what they perceived God was telling them. I don't hold a view of the Scriptures anything like "God wrote the Bible". Nor do I believe the Bible is without error. Perhaps it is like Origen suggested, that God put those "errors" there to make us go deeper than we otherwise would. I don't know. But as an Orthodox Christian, it's just not a problem for me personally. God speaks through the Church, through Scripture, through saints, through men, women, Bishops, prophets etc. Just like He always did before Christ. If Church history tells us anything, it is that even when God is speaking through the Church, the Church is not free from error. (Iconoclasm for example) So it's just not a problem for me.
I think that is how Judaism see things as well. Now granted there are Fundamentalists in all branches of religion, but we should base the teaching of a religion based on those people.
I completely sympathize with your post however. And can understand much of what you said. But I think it's important not to mischaracterize Judaism as the religion of a wrathful God, and Christianity as the religion of a loving God, because if you ask a Jew, even an Orthodox one, you'll find that they too believe and worship a loving God.
[I think your sentence construction suggests something you don't mean.]
Well, I have to explain why I am attracted to a Christian approach and why we say we read the scriptures with love, what is special to Christianity. And that's my reason.
OK, religious Jews and Muslims believe in a loving God, and that's what they find in their books. But there's enough of a wrathful view in the Old Testament[and Quran] that I reject the Old Testament as law if it is absent the compassionate view of Christianity.
I mean, the old Testament and Quran talk about flogging bad people. The New Testament doesn't say that. Now Jews and Muslims say I have it wrong, OK. But if you want to give a valid reading of their books, that's what it recommends to a big and clear enough extent that I say no, in today's day and age, I reject that. Maybe OT was inspired, but it's not my faith with our current level of socio-economic development
you raise some really interesting points though, and I hope we can keep this discussion free from zaniness.
OK, well I explained to you what keeps me from converting to Judaism in the face of Christianity's unusual factual claims-- I reject OT rules and approaches in favor of Christian ones.
The proofs of these unusual fact claims are not strong enough, and Judaism offers an afterlife too. As Marc said:
Jews have not accepted Jesus as The Messiah. their case for not doing so is perfectly reasonable
Maybe you can say what your reasons are for not accepting Judaism. My reason is the OT focus on vengeance. It's reliable and exacting, but it's not how I want to live. I believe in something better than that.