- Jul 16, 2004
Why don't Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah?
I tend to agree with this actually, would like to see a Christian debunk this.No Jew accepts Jesus as the Messiah. When someone makes that faith commitment, they become Christian. It is not possible for someone to be both Christian and Jewish.
Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah because he didn't fulfill Jewish expectations of the Messiah.
The Hebrew Bible (called the Old Testament by the non-Jewish world) is not proof for anything in the New Testament regarding a Messiah.
The Hebrew Bible describes the Messiah as a national savior who would arrive at the time of the Babylonian exile (hundreds of years before Christianity) and restore the nation of Israel with a capital at Jerusalem.
The original "messianic" aspirations of the Jewish People was to return from Exile and to restore the Davidic dynasty and the Jewish nation. While there was partial fulfillment of those hopes, given the return from Babylonia and the rebuilding of the Second Temple, new ideas were arising in that part of the world.
In fact, it's hard to "dissect" out the incredibly varied and related philosophical, religious, theological ideas that individuals and communities began to develop from 515 BCE - roughly the time of the beginning of the Second Temple - through the year 200 CE which was the editing of the Mishna, following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE and the failures of several revolts, especially that of Bar Kochba in 132 CE.
The major questions began to shift under Greek influence (Plato's idea of two entities - body and soul, material and spirit) and the Zoroastrian dualism of two competing forces, good and evil. When you complicate that mixture with the "obvious" reality of an unfair world in which the majority of people simply tried to survive, let alone hope for justice, equity and reward for their piety or their good deeds even though they witnessed many evil people "succeed" at least materially - there "had to be a better way." Enter the notion of a world after this one, or perhaps a time period after this present, where the good would be rewarded and the bad punished.
Hmmmm. That's a problem if you are dead. Soooo, we now have new theories of eternal spiritual selves awaiting a Day of Judgement or a theory of resurrection after which God would sort out the good from the bad people.
I hope you understand by now it's far from simple. In the middle of all this, some Jews began to look for a national leader - not unlike the restored kings of the Second Temple, the military leaders and kings, not unlike the Hasmoneans or Maccabbees (who turned out not to be what they started out being), perhaps even Bar Kochba - who would restore a Jewish country where Jews could live, worship and practice their own tradition. If and when you believe this, then the idea of a Messiah becomes part of the mix.
The various political and religious parties disagreed over such ideas, including that of a Messiah, and those who did believe in a future Messiah - not Jesus or any of the other messianic figures running about at that time - they survived and kept the belief and hope for a Messiah in our tradition such that Maimonides himself includes it in his essential principles of Jewish belief.
In sum, today some do and some don't believe in a personal Messiah or a person as a Messiah, and others speak of a messianic period when life is good for all humanity.
I don't preach to anyone what I believe, but I wouldn't object to a world at peace with families living free from terror and having all of their needs met.
For more information, please read "Judaism and Christinity: The Difference" by Dr. Trude Wesi Rosmarin. Best Wishes,
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner