The Jews and Jesus
My story could have easily ended another way.
For a time during high school, I attended Bible Study and church with a group of born-again Southern Baptist friends. I knew so little about Judaism back then. Without too much effort, they might have persuaded me to become a Christian. Thinking back to those days, it scares me to realize how vulnerable I was.
Back then, I knew virtually nothing about the Bible. I would not have had any answers for the texts they might have shown me, had they been actively trying to get me to accept Jesus. In time, I fell away from this group of friends. And I eventually began to learn what it means to be a Jew.
Not everyone is so lucky.
Rabbi Tovia Singer is an expert on the Bible and on the techniques that Christian missionaries use to try to convince Jews to become Christians. He packed nearly everything he’s learned into a massive, 2-volume book called Let's Get Biblical!: Why Doesn't Judaism Accept the Christian Messiah?
Let's Get Biblical! runs overs 700 pages. Singer is a master of his material. His meticulous research and command of Biblical sources is most impressive.
The first volume of Let's Get Biblical! is the core of Singer’s work. In it, he presents the arguments that Christian missionaries use to “prove” that the Hebrew Bible speaks about Jesus as the messiah. Then he eviscerates them, one by one.
In Volume 2, Singer answers questions that have been posed to him over the years. Some are from Jews who want to know how to answer the claims of a Christian friend or co-worker. A surprising number of questions are from Christians who challenge Singer’s conclusions.
One of Singer’s central claims is that, “Christendom – beginning in the earliest epistles of the New Testament – deliberately altered the Jewish Scriptures in order to make these sacred Hebrew texts appear Christological.” According to Singer, “The Church quite deliberately tampered with the words of the Jewish Scriptures in order to bolster their most startling claim: The Old Testament clearly foretold that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. With this goal in mind, missionaries manipulated, misquoted, mistranslated, and even fabricated verses in Tanach in order to make Jesus’ life fit traditional Jewish messianic parameters and to make traditional Jewish messianic parameters fit the life of Jesus.”
This startling claim is backed up with reams of evidence. In Let's Get Biblical!, Singer gives example after example, in great detail, of how Christian missionaries use incorrect translations of Hebrew words, overt omissions, verses quoted completely out of context, Rabbinic statements that are simply made up and other textual sleights of hand to make it appear that the Hebrew Bible supports Christian doctrine.
Although Singer’s original intention was to educate Jews about how to recognize the falsehoods of Christian missionaries, his work has unwittingly touched the lives of many Christians who, faced with this information, are forced to rethink some of their assumptions about their faith. Singer often refers to the massive theological challenges a correct reading of the Hebrew Bible poses to Christians. He explains that, “What has made Christian believers so vulnerable to Bible tampering is that almost none of them can read or understand the Hebrew Bible in its original language.”
The primary audience for Let's Get Biblical! is Jews. Singer is deeply committed to the continuity of the Jewish people. Nevertheless, he is not shy about chastising Christians who are unable to understand why Jews reject Jesus. In doing so, he amplifies the God-given role of the Jewish people in teaching the nations.
“Do not think in your heart that the Jewish people have missed the stirring messianic message contained in Tanach, or that we somehow do not understand our own Bible. It is our nation which is ordained to protect the integrity of these Holy Scriptures, our people who brought these sacred Oracles to the world’s nations, and it is our people to whom these promises were addressed.
For both Jews and Christians, Let's Get Biblical! is an eye-opening work.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There are Christians who do not evangelize Jews.
Have you ever had a theological debate with a Christian trying to convert you? Please comment below to share.
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