1.12.2011

Awkward

I invited a non-Jewish friend of mine over for tea. Normally, someone's status as a Jew or a non-Jew is not so important in my daily life, but it happens to be that the vast majority of my friends are observant Jews. It's difficult to socialize with non-Jews, what with rules about eating out, and since I don't really like to drink alcohol, that remove the ever-popular bar option.

So, I have this non-Jewish friend, who knows that I am Jewish, and I know that she is some kind of religious Christian. She does liturgical dance, which sounds really cool, and refers to Jesus as "Jesus Christ."

So, anyway, she is over for a cup of tea, and because I don't have so many non-Jewish friends, I forget about the calendar on my fridge--with Shevat/Tevet written on some of the days, and parshiyot, and local candle-lighting times. Suddenly, that strikes me as weird. She asks me what "Shevat" and "Tevet" are, and I explain that there is a Jewish calendar that is different from our regular calendar, and that those are the names of two of the Jewish months.

Then she says, "So, you don't believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and savior?"

And I say, "No, I don't."

And she says, "You just believe he's a prophet, right?"

And I say, almost apologetically at this point, "No, I don't believe that he was a prophet, because I don't believe that a lot of what he said was the truth. I believe that he was a teacher."

Super awkward. I hope I didn't offend her. I don't mind if she thinks that Jesus is her Lord and savior. I mean, it's totally alright with me.

But then she asked me what he had said that I didn't believe, but the truth is--Jesus said some pretty nice things! Many of which I believe! And I couldn't remember what was Paul and the various apostles and what was Jesus, so I kind of didn't know what to say. I said something about getting rid of the need to follow all of the commandments, and she said that she followed the ten commandments, but then I told her that there were 613.

Then we got into an interesting discussion about my eating habits:
"So, you'll never have a tuna melt!"
"No, tuna isn't considered meat."
"So you'll never have a hawaiian pizza with bacon and pineapple?"
"No, because bacon isn't kosher, so I wouldn't have it even if it wasn't meat and milk."
"So you don't eat ham?"
"Nope."
"Doesn't that bother you?"
"No, not really. What really bothers me is that I can't eat vegetarian food out cooked. Like, pizza without any meat on it. Or a baked apple. Or a hard-boiled egg. Also, sometimes Shabbat bothers me."

I did not get into the gender thing, or various issues I have about kohanim and converts, or how some Jews are just absolutely crazy.

So I turn to you, dear readers. What did Jesus himself say (even if as reported by Mark, Luke, John, etc.) that was so objectionable to our rabbinic antecedents? Thanks.

12 comments:

Clarissa said...

Back at Yale, my fundamentalist Christian colleague once stormed out of a restaurant where we were eating while screaming: "How DARE you say that our Jesus was a Jew!"

As for the most offensive thing Jesus ever said, I always thought it was him claiming to be the Mašíaḥ. And this is what most Jews couldn't accept for many obvious reasons.

Abacaxi Mamao said...

Oh, right. There's that!

I was trying to think of things other than that basis tenet. But I should have just said that. I sort of didn't want to offend her, though. Maybe I worry about that too much. She's nice, maybe I'll talk it over with her.

elizabeth said...

cannot say i would want to continue that conversation, but there is the small point that Jesus did not like Pharisees, and their love of the details of the law, and
modern Orthodoxy is proud of it's Pharasaic forebears.

rebkatz said...

I don't know if it was anything he said, just things that were said about him--like the messiah thing, and the son of G-d thing. But I know as little about Christianity as it is possible to know.

David said...

I'd have to go with the whole "the way, the truth, the light" bit, along with the "no one gets to Heaven but through me."

Interestingly, the Sermon on the Mount begins "Our Father, who art in Heaven," which to my ears sounds remarkably like Avinu shebashemayim...

Abacaxi Mamao said...

David, I wasn't familiar with that one, so I looked it up:

John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me."

And, RebKatz, I also wasn't sure what claims the Biblical
Jesus (as opposed to the historical Jesus, who wasn't the Jesus under discussion here) made for himself, so I did a little research:

John 4:25-26 (New International Version, ©2010):
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Mark 14:61-62 (New International Version, ©2010):
61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”


John 10:24-38 (New International Version, ©2010):
24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Janet said...

I would just say that Xtianity is based on misunderstandings and mistranslations of the Hebrew Bible and leave it at that. Refer her to Jews for Judaism website if she really cares, and if you want to have some fun, evangelize her to become a Noahide. No matter what you say, in-depth conversations about Xtianity with evangelicals only encourage them to think that they're "planting a seed" that will eventually turn someone to their side.

Abacaxi Mamao said...

Janet, I don't think she's evangelical, just religious and curious. And I found it somewhat surprising that I couldn't answer off the bat. Now I have some material should someone else ask me what Jesus said that I think is wrong. But, yeah, these are not conversations that I go around looking for! And definitely not with evangelicals.

Sarah said...

I always explain to Christians that Jesus per se is not really the problem. A person can make an honest mistake about being Moshiach. He obviously did. The easiest way to explain our doubts on this point to Christians is to say, well, we're not living in a time of peace & freedom, etc.. They believe in a "millenial reign of Christ," 1000 years of peace, before olam haba proper kicks off.

IMHO, virgin birth, resurrection, etc. are just red herrings. I always say, yes, God can perform miracles, no question, but these miracles, even if they DID happen, which we of course do not believe, are not the point. Trinity, also, whatever, we ourselves have the Shechinah.

What is the big problem? There are 2.

No. 1 I don't have New Testament sources for, unfortunately. It is the doctrine that Jesus was simultaneously 100% human and 100% divine. It was probably developed by the Church Fathers, anyway, not the NT. Present-day liberal Christianity downplays this. But it is _the_ central paradox of Christianity. You're supposed to meditate on it. I always explain to people that we are very insistent on God not having a body or anything definite attached to God. That is what makes being a Christian totally impossible for us. I always say that the Burning Bush is as close as we get to direct encounter, and even then, we're noting chiefly the negative, that the bush was not consumed.

Paul was the other big problem. Obviously he had a major anti-rabbinic agenda. See Galatians 3:24-25:

"[T]he law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."

That ALSO is not the problem. The problem is that per Paul Jewish identity itself, observant or not, is totally obsolete. One of the core texts of Christianity comes in 3:28:

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

It's a shame that so many evangelical Christians act in a non-Christlike way. I have several highly educated fundamentalist friends and it IS possible to agree to disagree--we each think that the other is sadly mistaken, but with good and Godly intentions.

Sarah said...

Or you could further cloud the issue: "Did JESUS invent the CALCULUS? NO, I think NOT."

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

You might want to consider a distinction between what Jesus said and what was said about him. The Apostles wrote their accounts some time after his death, and Paul, at least, had a serious political agenda. The evolution of the various main branches of Christianity, sectarianism all complicate the picture - unless your friend has a pretty good sense of religious history, the question of what, exactly, Jesus said may be the very first place to begin.

Even so, it's a tricky conversation to have...

Avi said...

You think she's off her rocker for the same reason she thinks you are: this nonsense was taught to all of you when you were too young to know any better. Any adult who hears any of this (Jewish, Christian, etc.) for the first time thinks it's crazy-talk unless of course they're in prison, in which case they suffer the same vulnerability a child does.