Jesus (as) Judaism

Book Review

Book Review Is Christianity True? (By Michael T. W. Arnhein. 1984 published by Gerald Duckworth and Co. Ltd. London ISBN 0 7156 18806 U.K. £7.95 207pp. This book comes hot on the heels of many attempts to explain the Gospel accounts away in “High flown jargon” as mythical or figurative representations of a transcendant and not easily intelligible set of truths. The Jewish author is a professor of classical civilisation in the University of Witwatersrand. The idea that Jesus was the son of God originated from the special father-son relationship that was always believed to exist between God and the Jewish kings especially at the time of their coronation. The concept of God physically “begetting” a son was a pagan concept which from the Jewish point of view lowers the stature of God. As far as Jesus’s virgin birth is concerned, the author notes that the annunciation of the birth is made to Mary in Luke while in Matthew to Joseph. Both offer different genealogies to prove Jesus’s Davidic lineage and even get Joseph’s father’s name wrong. The author concludes that they both started with the conclusion and manufactured evidence to justify the conclusions. Whereas there were a number of claimants as Messiah at the time of Jesus, the prophecies of Isaiah relate to the present unification of the Israelites. The Messiah was supposed to be an earthly king but both history and Jesus’s lineage of a dubious descent from David rule him out according to the author. Jesus was crucified as a Roman punishment by Pontius Pilate, and naturally the Jews had little to do with either his trial or crucifixion. Jesus’s resurrection is another myth required in order to believe that Jesus was the Messiah of Hosea, because a failed and executed Messiah was seen as a contradiction in terms. The concept that Jesus will come down to earth “to judge the quick and the dead” was contrived to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah (3:13; 5:6) where it is associated with the Messianic age. Not only was Jesus not a Messiah (as he does not fulfil Biblical prophecies) he was not much of a Prophet either since his prophecy (Matthew 24:34) did not take place within the then generation. BOOK REVIEW 49 Jesus was a Jew. His teachings were an orthodox interpretation of Judaic law. The author thus finds the impracticality of loving your enemy, the liberation of the adulterous woman, turning the other cheek and several other teachings on which Christianity claims it has an upper hand over Judaism whereas they all smack of hypocrisy. Christianity as a new ethic was initiated by Paul. It is a creed religion which found success in the conversion of Constantinople. Essential to it is that Jesus was no mere mortal but the Christ, whose death changed the course of human history forever and who continues to exist as “God the Son”. It upholds the narrow and literal truth of the Bible. Judaism, on the other hand, is a communal religion which rests on no one figure, with the Biblical figures portrayed as anything but fallible, frail and highly imperfect. Because it is exclusive, it is tolerant of other faiths. Judaism is rooted in history which is its identity of culture law and life but it does not depend upon the literal truth or accuracy of any particular event or Biblical episode. Having proven each of its main tenets as a myth or fallacy by Jewish standards, the author roundly concludes that Christianity is a “big lie”. The book contains a number of allegations which no doubt the Christians will attempt to answer. It does not mince its words and at places is even irrelevant. Because of the standards applied and the contradictions and inaccuracies of the Bible by which Jesus is so debased as to deny him even the title of Messiah, Prophet and divine teacher can be applied equally to aspects of Judaism. We trust that this brief review will prompt a Muslim reader to exalt Jesus to his true status and judge him by a much higher standard of truth which has escaped the full blast of allegations put forward by the author. Nevertheless this book provides an excellent summation of why the Jews reject Jesus and whereas we may agree with some of these arguments there is no reason why we should accept all of them. The REVIEW of RELIGIONS The Review of Religions is the oldest magazine of its kind published in the English language in the Indo-Pakistan Sub-Continent. Its first issue was published in 1902 and it has been continuously published since. It bears the distinction that it was initiated under the direction of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah himself. During more than eighty-three years the message of Islam has been conveyed through this magazine to hundreds of readers and many fortunate persons have recognised the truth of Islam and accepted it through studying it. The articles published in it deal not only with the doctrines and teachings of Islam but also set forth a comparative appreciation of the teachings of other faiths. One of its outstanding features is the refutations of the criticism of Islamic teachings by orientalists and non-muslim scholars. It also presents solutions in the light of Islamic teachings of the problems with which the Islamic world is from time to time confronted. A study of this magazine is indispensable for the appreciation of the doctrines of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the teachings of its holy Founder. Printed by The Eastern Press Ltd, London and Reading Published by The Review of Religions, The London Mosque, 16 Gressenhall Road, London, SW185QL