Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Summation of the Competing Claims of Classical Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism

So here's the core theological differences (three of them) between Classical Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism:

(1)  Jewish Law (Sinaitic ritual law and Sinaitic ethical law) vs. Christian Law (New Testament ritual law and general ethical law):

"2. Christ and Torah.  When asked for the antidote to the sinful human condition, Judaism and Christianity concur that God in his grace provided means of righting the relationship that went wrong at Eden.  For each, God provided both a model of regeneration and a medium for renewal.  For Judaism, the model is set by the revealed teaching, or Torah, of Sinai.  The counterpart model, for Christianity, is the last Adam, who is Jesus Christ.  Communion with him--the identification effected by baptism, prayer, ethics, and Eucharist--makes of each believer a child of God according to the model of Jesus' sonship." pg. 38 of Classical Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism:  Comparing Theologies by Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner

(2)  Jewish theology of sin and atonement vs. Christian theology of sin and atonement:

 "5. Sin and atonement.  Rabbinic Judaism and classical Christianity concur that man sins by nature.  The source of sin is man's will gone wrong, as the story of man and woman in paradise stresses.  There God expressed his will in one regard only, and man and woman exercised their freedom of will in that same regard.  Sin, therefore, begins with man's will and atonement must correspondingly be an act of will that expresses remorse and brings about reconciliation.  How in the two faiths atonement for sin is attained forms the focus of this shared, native category.  In Judaism, repentance (teshuvah) is attained through resolve not to repeat a sin and sealed by the Day of Atonement, while Christianity relies not on a salvific Torah but on a redemptive Christ." pg. 39 of Classical Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism:  Comparing Theologies by Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner

(3)  Rabbinic Judaism's rejection of Trinity vs. Christianity's interdependent doctrines of Trinity and Christological divinity:

Classical Christianity takes Yeshua at His word when He says things like that recorded in John 8:

John 8:58-59  "58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds."

Rabbinic Judaism, however, in the Thirteen Principles (Maimonides) rejects the possibility of Trinity and Christological divinity:

Principle II. The unity of God
Meaning to say to accept that this is the quintessential idea of Oneness. It is not like the oneness of a pair (i.e. pair of shoes - one group) and not one like a species. And not like man that has many individual (members) nor like a body that divides into many different parts until no end (every part being divisible). Rather, God is one and there is no other oneness like His. This is the second principle and is taught in what it says, “Hear Israel, Hashem is Our God, Hashem is one.”

Principle III. The denial of physicality in connection with God
This is to accept that this Oneness that we have mentioned above (Principle II) is not a body and has no strength in the body, and has no shape or image or relationship to a body or parts thereof. This is why the Sages of blessed memory said with regards to heaven there is no sitting, nor standing, no awakeness, nor tiredness. This is all to say that He does not partake of any physical actions or qualities. And if He were to be a body then He would be like any other body and would not be God. And all that is written in the holy books regarding descriptions of God, they are all anthropomorphic. Thus said our great Rabbis of blessed memory, “The Torah speaketh in man’s language” (i.e. using human terms to offer some understanding). And the Rabbis have already spoken at length on this issue. This is the third pillar and is attested to by the verse, “For you saw no image” meaning that you did not see an image or any form when you stood at Sinai because as we have just said, He has no body, nor power of the body.

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