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A House Divided: Why Can't Jesus Be Both Jewish Hero and Risen Lord?


What are Judeo-Christian values? How can Jews and Christians learn from each other to strengthen one another's faith? What are the obstacles that stand in the way? Rhonda Robinson explores these questions and more in her ongoing series on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's Kosher Jesus. Check out her previous installments in the series: 

July 7: Restoring Our Judeo-Christian Culture

July 21: Jesus a Pharisee?

August 4: If Jesus’ Miracles Kept with Talmudic Tradition, Isn’t That Evidence He Was Sent from God?

August 11: How the Father of Lies Made Jews Evil and Christians Murderous

August 18: Who Was Pontius Pilate? Benevolent Pawn, Bloodthirsty Tyrant or Misunderstood Hunk?

August 25: Under Whose Law Did Jesus’ Crimes Require Crucifixion?

September 1: Would Jesus Have Preached, ‘Render Unto Hitler What is Hitler’s?’ Or Are We Missing Something?


After over two thousand years of Christianity, the historical character of Jesus remains shrouded in mystery. Scholars, clergy, and lay-people have used many methods in an effort to unlock the secrets of Christianity's founder.

-- Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Kosher Jesus

Perhaps the most famous mystery surrounding Jesus, as the risen Christ, is the shroud of Turin. Whether you accept its authenticity or believe it is a forgery, the controversy itself bears witness to the impact that Jesus of Nazareth still has on the world to this day.

As all good authors do, Boteach has loaded the bases to drive home his theory. But first, let's underscore the few simple points we can agree upon. Jesus lived. Jesus was a devout Jew. He lived as a carpenter and a rabbi (a teacher). Jesus was crucified.

The answers to questions such as "Why did he die?" and "Who killed him?" should be what separate Judaism and Christianity in faith -- not hatred. This, I believe, is the heart of what Boteach is trying to convey.

The bulk of the author's work points to the Christian text (New Testament) revealing Jesus as a devoted Jew. Comparing his knowledge of Jewish laws and tradition with the life and words of Christ, leads the author to conclude that Jesus should be embraced as a beloved Jewish son. Followers of Christ should have no problem with this.

However, Boteach paints a picture of a bipolar Jesus by contrasting the scripture where Jesus called Jews "a pack of vipers" with his instructing the disciples not to go among the gentiles but rather go to the "lost sheep of Israel."

Then concludes:

"The two Jesuses-- the anti- Semitic firebrand condemning Jews to hell, and the soft shepherd of Israel with no interest in proselytizing gentiles-- are utterly irreconcilable. One is authentic, the other manufactured."

I have a different theory.