".....command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths....." 1 Timothy 1:3

Christian Myths

Myths that are symptoms of failure to comprehend the proper place of Gentiles and Israel in the purposes of God.

Some reveal Replacement theology and some reveal arrogance on the part of the Gentile church.

In the cathedral in Strasbourg there are statues depicting Church and Synagogue; the triumphant church and the blindfolded synagogue with a broken staff.

Such arrogance is unbecoming to the church of Jesus, is offensive to Jews, and serves as a reminder of the way the church has treated Jews down the centuries of their dispersion.

These replica statues are in the Museum of the Diaspora (Beth Hatesutsoth) in Tel Aviv.

Please do not read more into these comments than is actually there, but consider what changes we might make in the church.

 

 

1 - The disciples were ignorant hayseeds

Consider Peter preaching at Pentecost. Apart from preaching an amazing sermon and seeing Holy Spirit conviction fall on three thousand Jews, bringing salvation, Peter quoted sizeable chunks of Joel and two Psalms, as well as alluding to Daniel. Peter may have been a tradesman rather than a scholar but he knew his scriptures. As a Jew he would have heard the scriptures read in synagogue and school. Also He would have committed it to memory, since the ordinary working man could not have his own copy.

We Christians may have become spoiled by the easy availability of Bibles and unable to recall passages of the Bible (except favourite texts taken out of context) but we should not impute that to the Disciples. (or to present-day Jews )

Remember, Matthew/Levi and John both wrote Gospels and John wrote down his Revelation and pastoral letters.

The problem with this myth comes if we assume Peter's preaching ability fell on him magically with the Holy Spirit and we can just wait passively for that to happen to us. What material will there be for the Holy Spirit to use if we do not know our scriptures like Peter did?

2 - Pentecost was the birth of the Church

The Gentile church did not come into existence until much later and should not have come into being in that form at all. The body of the Messiah was supposed to be one new man; Jew and Gentile together. Initially the body was entirely Jewish and the faith was known as "the Way" and regarded as a branch of Judaism. What happened at Pentecost (Shavuot) was a major, once only Revival of God's faithful people. (His olive tree) The Spirit of God had come upon his people at various times but only for specific ministries. The Pentecost manifestation was new.

God's community of faith began with His covenant with Abram (Abraham) so that by him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (Genesis 12) This line continued through the Jewish saints of the Hebrew Bible (see Hebrews 6 v13 to 12 v5) until The Holy Spirit was poured out with tongues at Pentecost and God's olive tree went international by grafting in wild olive shoots from the Gentiles. (see Romans 9 to 11)

3 - Jesus brought revolutionary new teaching

Jesus' / Yeshua's teaching is only revolutionary if seen from a perspective that has not understood its roots in the Hebrew Bible. It was observed that He taught with authority, not as the Scribes and Pharisees, but not that he taught different stuff that did not come from the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus clearly brought these scriptures to life. See Rabbi Jesus

4 - Women were downtrodden until Jesus came

I fear this myth stems from seeing how Muslim women are treated in the Middle east and projecting backwards to assume that this applied in Israel in Jesus' day.

It could also be a spin-off of looking at the Bible through post-modern, secular, feminist spectacles which assume that women being equal means being the same. Men and women had different roles in the Jewish culture of Jesus' day. (and observant Jewish homes today) Women might have stayed at home but their importance as queen of the home with responsibility for raising children in the godly way should not be belittled. Women were / are treated with great respect. The end of Proverbs is often recited at family Shabbats, honouring the wife / mother.

See Women about several misconceptions about the place of women.

5 - Jewish faith is joyless

Have you seen the Jews rejoicing at Feasts, especially Simchat Torah? If so you would not accept this myth.

6 - Jews did/do not relate to God as Father

See A Prayer to Our Father, page 87-89. God is known as Father in Isaiah 63 vs 15-16, Jeremiah 3 v19 and Malachai 2 v10. Also, The Mishna mentions Jews praying "upon whom shall we rely? Upon our Father in Heaven." And there are more.

7 - Jewish faith was/is legalistic - under LAW but we are under grace

See Grace and Law

8 - The same crowd that welcomed Jesus as the Messiah on Palm Sunday called for his crucifixion the day before Good Friday.

The Bible does not say it was the same people.

This myth may have originated as someone's sermon point to bring out the fickle nature of the human heart, but it is not true, for reasons Dr Dwight Prior explained.

The word used for the crowd calling, "Crucify him" suggests a mob; perhaps we could call it a "rent a mob."

While Jesus was being arrested and taken before the illegal (nocturnal) court of the High Priest, the faithful who had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem would have been sleeping off their Passover Seder meal (four glasses of wine) and would only have been out and about in time to see Jesus, already condemned, on the way to his execution. All they could do then was lament what was happening (Luke 23 v27)

The danger of this myth is that it sits so well with Replacement Theology, "The Jews rejected Jesus, so God rejected the Jews. Period." Clearly this is not true, since, shortly after this, three thousand Jews responded to Peter's message, repented and were saved. (Acts 2)

9 - Saul of Tarsus changed his name to Paul when he became a Christian

Saul (Shaul), like many Jews not resident in Israel had a local name and a Hebrew name that was given to him at his circumcision. He did not cease to be a Jew when he met Yeshua, or change his name, but he used his Greek name when ministering among Greeks. One must not build replacement theology doctrines on this myth.

10 - Sunday School syndrome

Christianity tends to portray many Bible characters as children, presumably in order to make stories relevant to children. In the case of the binding of Isaac (the Akeda) this assumption if seriously adrift. Isaac was 33 at the time, a man in his prime, the same age as Jesus / Yeshua when he was sacrificed.

11 - Romantic Travel writing

Related to the above in the time honoured teacloth and sandals epics that are Sunday school plays.

Mark Twain visited the Holy land in 1867 and recounted his experiences in his famous and most enjoyable "Innocents Abroad." This book provides some interesting insights into Eretz Israel during the Roman Diaspora.

Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists--over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead-- about whose borders nothing grows but weeds,

He observed how forlorn and empty the land was, writing before the Jews started to return home.

But, care should be exercised in using Twain's writing as history. Mark Twain was a satirist; he loved to poke fun at people. One of his motivations for publishing this book was his impatience with the popular travel guides of his time, which described tourists sites with an exaggerated and romantic reverence that he found ridiculous.
Twain satirised these contemporary romantic travelogues and the associated art that still colour our perceptions of Bible characters as attired in tea-towels - as seen in Sunday school plays.

But by reading carefully one will notice how Twain too fell into assuming that the Arabs he saw were the descendants of the Bible characters and that they presented an accurate picture of how those Bible characters had looked. He appears to have completely overlooked the fact that these Bible characters were sopisticated Jews but he was observing Arabs living in squalour. This, unwittingly, aids those who would have us believe Jesus was a Palestinian.

Some more detailed observations on Innocents Abroad.

breakingisraelnews.com - ameicainpalestine.blogspot

Critical of Twain

hyperallergic.com - debrabooks

12 - Jesus never said he was the Messiah

We may not have the words, "I am the Messiah" in our translations of the Gospels, but reading them carefully one will fine plenty of occasions when his words could mean nothing else.

Some other assumptions challenged

Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg challenges various popular Christian interpretations in his new book, "JEWISH INSIGHTS INTO SCRIPTURE" - ISBN 9781981822041. You might find that you can't accept all his assertions, but it is always good to challenge long held and cherished assumptions.

Updated 12/05/18

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