The Judaism of Jesus.

Author:Lang, Ivan M.
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

In "The Passion's Passionate Despisers" (June/July), Kenneth L. Woodward summed up his critique of the Jewish critics of the film by writing that "Jews should realize [it] is not about them." Mr. Woodward's conclusion is accurate, but that is precisely the problem with the movie.

Jesus was Jewish and he never renounced Judaism. In fact, Jesus clearly stated that he did not come to change the Law, i.e., the Torah and its teachings, but rather to fulfill it. This is exactly the pledge that all Jews take on their bar/bat mitzvah day. Almost all of the followers of Jesus during his lifetime, i.e., in the time frame of the movie, were Jewish. Jesus did not introduce a single new moral concept and all of his moral teachings came straight from the Torah. The Golden Rule, for example, is stated clearly in the Torah and the Torah even extends this rule to include non-Jewish immigrants in addition to neighbors.

Jesus did have conflicts with the Jewish establishment, but his complaints were typically Jewish complaints that Jews had had and expressed for centuries. Jesus fought the Sadducees because they believed in a form of Judaism in which special privileges were provided to a small minority, i.e., priests, and in which this minority put itself between the people and God. It is interesting that present-day Judaism has rid itself of this priestly class, while Christianity (and especially Catholicism) has not. Jesus also had conflicts with the Pharisees, but these complaints concerned their use of the Oral Law or extra-Torah sources to interpret the Law. This is the same complaint that was lodged by...

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