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Our Abraham, Not Theirs

Inheriting Abraham, by Jon Levenson, expertly dismantles the idea of the patriarch as the father of three religions

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Wenceslaus Hollar, Abraham’s dream. (University of Toronto Wenceslaus Hollar Digital Collection via Wikimedia Commons)

We like to think that mutual understanding promotes tolerance. But sometimes we hate people because we understand them. Martin Luther’s exhaustive study of rabbinic commentaries as well as Hebrew scripture did not prevent him from proposing the destruction of every Jewish home along with every synagogue. Adolf Eichmann hoped to study Hebrew with a Berlin rabbi, the better to understand the people he planned to exterminate.

In Inheriting Abraham, Jon Levenson, the Albert A. List Professor of Bible at Harvard’s Divinity School, throws cold water on the mutual-understanding campfire. Misunderstanding is not what divides the image of Abraham in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the misnomered “Abrahamic religions”; on the contrary, the founders of the younger religions well understood Abraham’s role in Judaism. St. Paul’s transformation of Abraham into the father of all who believe, and the Quran’s recasting of Abraham as a Muslim prophet who prefigured Muhammed, both rejected the Jewish version by design, by inventing their own Abrahams to serve their own doctrinal purposes.

Through published excerpts and interviews, Levenson has been drawing attention to his most provocative conclusion: that it is wrong to present Abraham as a unifying figure who transcends the differences among Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The progressive wings of Christianity as well as Judaism have a great deal invested in this reassuring claim, and Levenson’s devastating refutation of the “three Abraham religions” thesis will be unwelcome. He makes short work of pop theologians like Bruce Feiler, whose best-selling book on the patriarch claims that “Abraham belongs to all of humanity” and that “the carefully balanced message of the Abraham story [is] that God cares for all his children—a tradition that existed for hundreds of years before the religions themselves existed.” Feiler and his co-thinkers, Levenson observes, have essentially invented another Abraham—“a neutral Abraham who can be made to serve as a control on the Abrahams of the three traditions that are thought to derive from him.”

So, it is clear that Levenson’s new book will be resented in liberal religious circles. What it won’t be, however, is easily refuted.


Why should Abraham belong to all of humanity? For Jews and Christians, the answer lies in paternity and covenant: Abraham is the father of God’s people, through his son Isaac in Judaism, and for Christians, through the faith of those who belief in Jesus’ resurrection. Christianity’s departure from Judaism is an argument about lineage and legitimacy. The Abraham of Genesis, as Levenson notes, never preaches monotheism. The Abraham who smashed the idols in his father’s workshop appears in Second Temple sources, and that is the Abraham of the Quran: the prophet of monotheism who prefigures Muhammed. Abraham’s definitive act for Christians and Jews, his obedience to God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, is simply a prooftest of submission for Muslims, who are instructed by Muhammed as prefigured by Abraham.

As Levenson showed in his 1993 book on the binding of Isaac, and reprises here, Jews and Christians sacrifice every day, albeit vicariously—through such rituals as circumcision and the redemption of the firstborn, and above all through sacrificial service. The purpose of religion is to triumph over death. We give our lives to God, who gives us eternal life in return. In ancient Judaism, sacrifice was the religious service for which the rabbis substituted the thrice-daily prayers after the Temple’s destruction in 70 C.E. Jews recite the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22) in every morning service, remembering that God swore by himself to bless the patriarch and his descendants because he did not withhold his only son.

For Jews, the vicarious sacrifice of the ram in place of Isaac prefigures the lamb of the Exodus, whose blood keeps out the Angel of Death. Sacrifice is God’s gift of love, the means by which death is displaced from Isaac and by extension from the whole family of Abraham. Christianity transmutes these themes of love and sacrifice: In place of the near-sacrifice of Isaac, who is bound for death but miraculously spared, Jesus dies and is resurrected.

Paul takes this challenge a step further, Levenson continues. The commonplace notion that Paul wanted to extend the Covenant of Israel to all peoples is entirely wrong: “For Paul, the Gentile Christian has abandoned the Adamic identity for the Abrahamic. He has left the universal identity associated with the sin-infected human essence and been recreated as one who attains righteousness in the sight of God on the basis of his faith, just as Abraham did in the Pauline reading.” Christians thus styled themselves the adoptive children of Abraham, separate from the sinful mass of humanity. On the strength of the promise in Genesis that Abraham would become “the father of the multitude of nations,” Paul proposes a separate lineage for Gentile Christians. As Paula Frederiksen puts it, “Pagans-in-Christ are also from Abraham’s lineage, since Abraham was the father of many nations (Gen. 17:4; Rom. 4:17); but they descend from Abraham alone, not also from Isaac and Jacob.”

A number of Jewish scholars, notably Michael Wyschogrod, have proposed similar readings of Paul. This approach helps explain why the founder of Christianity accepted the continuing existence of the Jewish people, Abraham’s children of the flesh, despite our refusal to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Whether Christians are persuaded by such readings of Paul is a different matter. From the beginning, the church identified itself not as a new Abrahamic religion but as Israel itself. St. Peter said (I Peter 2:9), “But you [Christians] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” From the standpoint of the Catholic Church, the independent existence of the Jewish people represents a schism within Israel, and so it will never abandon its hope for the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. What has changed in Catholic thinking since Vatican II is that the church considers that a question for the end times rather than for missionary activism today. Church doctrine today therefore looks benignly on the Jewish presence on earth—until Jesus should appear once more.

What is “maddeningly unclear in Paul,” Levenson adds, “is the relationship between the new community, which is the Church, and the old community, which is the Jewish people apart from the Church.” In some places Paul emphasizes that the “glory” and the “covenants” belong to the “kindred according to the flesh.” Elsewhere he asserts that Christians, not the Jews who reject Jesus, are the children of God. Paul’s belief that the end times were at hand made the question moot, for Jesus’ imminent return would soon persuade the Jews of their error.

Traditions diverge within the two religions as well. Jewish authorities differ as to whether or not Abraham practiced the whole of the Torah before it was given at Mt. Sinai. Rashi takes this position but failed to persuade his grandson the Rashbam, who held that Abraham practiced only those parts of the Torah that are accessible to natural reason. Divergent Jewish views resonate in turn with differences in Christian accounts, for example, between Paul’s Epistles and the Letter of James.

Things get trickier when we move on to Islam, though. Levenson correctly notes that the Akedah is downplayed in Islam. The Quran mentions the binding of Abraham’s son in just six verses (Sura 37:102-107). The same sura mentions Isaac a couple of verses later, suggesting that the Muslim version is a thumbnail of the biblical account in Genesis 22. Later Muslim commentators insisted that the son was Ishmael rather than Isaac, contrary to the plain sense of the text. Muslims today recall the deliverance of Ishmael by killing and eating a sheep or goat on the Feast of Eid al-Adha. Yet the custom has no cultic significance whatever. It is performed by family members, not by a cleric and not in the mosque. A fatwa quoted on and numerous other Islamic sites explains:

Sacrifice is not a pillar of Islam. … Not only did the pagan Arabs sacrifice to a variety of gods in hopes of attaining protection or some favor or material gain, but so, too, did the Jews of that day seek to appease the One True God by blood sacrifice and burnt offerings. Even the Christian community felt Jesus to be the last sacrifice, the final lamb, so to speak, in an otherwise valid tradition of animal sacrifice (where one’s sins are absolved by the blood of another). Islam, however, broke away from this longstanding tradition of appeasing an “angry God” and instead demanded personal sacrifice and submission as the only way to die before death and reach fana or extinction in Allah.

Then, midway through the book, the reader encounters this astonishing question: “Why are Jews, Christians and Muslims not sacrificing their beloved sons? Why are so few Muslims engaged in mass murder à la Sept. 11 suicide bombers?” Levenson implies here that jihad, including its manifestation in terrorism, is a mode of sacrifice in Islam—the spiritual heir of the binding of Isaac. That is not a new thought. As the great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig put it, “Following the path of Allah means in the narrowest sense propagating Islam through holy war. In the obedient journey upon this path, taking upon one’s self the associated dangers, the observance of the laws prescribed for it, Muslim piety finds its way in the world.”

To be clear, Jews and Christians also continue to sacrifice their beloved sons, albeit vicariously—for example, through circumcision, which (as Levenson correctly notes in his 1993 book on the binding of Isaac) is a substitute for human sacrifice. Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik taught that the redemption ceremony for the firstborn asks the father to personally relive the binding of Isaac. For Christians, in turn, Jesus’ sacrifice is a continuing presence through the Lord’s Supper. But Islam eschews vicarious sacrifice—the substitution of the lamb for Isaac—and instead demands personal sacrifice, which Muslims understand to be an advance over the more primitive versions of monotheism that preceded their own faith.

So, if death in jihad is the Muslim equivalent of the sacrifice of the beloved son in Judaism and Christianity, one understands why it continues to shape life in Muslim countries and in countries where Muslims live. The National Counterterrorism Center lists 79,766 terrorist attacks globally from 2004 through 2011 with 111,774 dead and 228,317 injured, almost all by Muslims. Although a tiny minority of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims takes part in jihadist terrorism, such sacrificial acts have a solid doctrinal foundation in the faith. A majority of respondents to a 2011 Pew Center survey in Egypt, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories said that suicide bombing against civilians was sometimes justified.

Yet Levenson rejects out of hand the idea that the story of the binding of Isaac inspired Muslim terrorists to sacrifice themselves. “The accusation that the Quranic version of the Aqedah lies in the background of the mass murders and suicides of September 11, 2001, and kindred atrocities underestimates the ostensible theological basis for the crimes in the minds of the perpetrators themselves—the Muslim institution of jihad.” The trouble is that jihad is more than a legal issue. It is a theological issue, and—if the use of a Christian term is permissible—a sacramental issue. It is disappointing that Levenson declined to pursue the implications of his own work here. Levenson shows with great clarity how Christianity and Judaism compare as “Abrahamic” religions—that is, religions of covenant, sacrifice, and paternal love. But the concept of a divine covenant with the descendants of a man beloved by God is alien to Islam for two reasons. The transcendent God of Islam deigns to make no covenants with humans, And the matter of lineal or figurative descent from the patriarch is irrelevant to Islam.

So, if Islam is not an Abrahamic religion in the sense that Jews and Christians understand the concept, what sort of religion is it? What leap of faith defines the devout Muslim? Levenson gives us a hint or two in his passing discussion of jihad, but no more.

His allusive but incomplete account of Islam is a lacuna in an otherwise magisterial work. For Jews who want to understand Christianity and especially Christianity’s understanding of Judaism, Inheriting Abraham is likely to remain an indispensable guidebook for a long time to come. The authoritative Jewish critique of Islam, though, remains Franz Rosenzweig’s work of nearly a century ago.


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Well, I shall be sorry if you insist on taking him back. I hope you don’t insist on the return of Torah and Tanach as well.

Maimonides says:

This article is nonsense, though I would blame Goldman before I would blame Levenson, not having read his book.

Goldman is using Levenson’s book as an excuse to present his theory that “jihad” is form of “sacrifice” in Islam, though he doesn’t present any evidence for this except the claim itself. He then says that circumcision is a substitute sacrifice for Jews and Christians, except that Muslims also practice circumcision and not all Christians do. So he doesn’t really know what he’s saying, except that Islam = terrorism, which all he’s been saying for ten years.

    On the theology, pick a fight with Rosenzweig, not me. I claim no originality here. And I never said that Islam = terrorism. I argued that jihad (which is not necessarily or even typically terrorist) has a religious function in Islam, and that terrorism can be (and frequently is) assigned this religious function. That does not mean that all Muslims think this way or that Muslims necessarily must think this way. But they can think this way and many do.

      Maimonides says:

      You wrote:
      “Then, midway through the book, the reader encounters this astonishing question: … ‘Why are so few Muslims engaged in mass murder à la Sept. 11 suicide bombers?'”

      I’m afraid you must speak for yourself on that point. The notion that these types of actions constitute a “sacrifice” or any other kind of “sacrament” in Islam is totally unfounded, regardless of whether you or Rosenzweig are proposing it.

      Which is not to say that Islam is pacifist, only that military service is an obligation like alms-giving or prayer, not sacramentalized mass murder or suicide.

        steiner says:

        It is often noted that muhammad said that those who die while on Jihad go straight to paradise…

        would you agree with such a statement?

          Yes, except jihad doesn’t mean holy war. It means to struggle or to strive for something, which in this context means to struggle to stay on the righteous path. The whole jihad = holy war notion is false. And terrorism has no religious connotations. It occurs for the same reasons it occurs everywhere else, for political reasons. So levenson’s whole thesis about jihad and the sacrifice is wrong right from the start.

          RORI says:

          Regarding the 911 mass murder perpetrators, investigative reporting disclosed that these were people with a taste for alcohol and easy women. It is twelve years later making it difficult to tell fact from fiction, but are you claiming that they were closet religious zealots but their public lifestyle was their cover to better blend in ?

        I think you ignore the commands of the Koran to annihilate or subjugate the Jews, and all others who will not “submit” to Islam. That takes them a long way from being pacifists. It probably make them the direct opposite. And although there have been periods when this drive to subjugate everyone else has not been predominant, those periods when it has (like today) have been bloody and terrifying.

          No such commandments exist. Produce your evidence if you’re truthful.

          Qur’an commands to kill infidels:

          Allah is an enemy to unbelievers. – Sura 2:98

          On unbelievers is the curse of Allah. – Sura 2:161

          Slay them wherever ye find them and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. – 2:191

          Fight against them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme. (different translation: ) Fight them until there is no persecution and the religion is God’s entirely. – Sura 2:193 and 8:39

          Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. – 2:216
          (different translation: ) Prescribed for you is fighting, though it is hateful to you.

          ….. martyrs…. Enter heaven – Surah 3:140-43

          If you should die or be killed in the cause of Allah, His mercy and forgiveness would surely be better than all they riches they amass. If you should die or be killed, before Him you shall all be gathered. – 3:157-8

          You must not think that those who were slain in the cause of Allah are dead. They are alive, and well-provided for by their Lord. – Surah 3:169-71

          Let those fight in the cause of God who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fights in the cause of God, whether he is slain or victorious, soon we shall give him a great reward. – Surah 4:74

          Those who believe fight in the cause of God, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil. – 4:76

          But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever you find them. – 4:89

          Therefore, we stirred among them enmity and hatred, which shall endure till the Day of Resurrection, when Allah will declare to them all that they have done. – 5:14

          O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Those of you who make them his friends is one of them. God does not guide an unjust people. – 5:54

          Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme – 8:39

          O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there are 20 steadfast men among you, they shall vanquish 200; and if there are a hundred, they shall rout a thousand unbelievers, for they are devoid of understanding. – 8:65

          It is not for any Prophet to have captives until he has made slaughter in the land. – 8:67

          Allah will humble the unbelievers. Allah and His apostle are free from obligations to idol-worshipers. Proclaim a woeful punishment to the unbelievers. – 9:2-3

          When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. – 9:5

          Believers! Know that idolators are unclean. – 9:28

          Fight those who believe neither in God nor the Last Day, nor what has been forbidden by God and his messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are People of the Book, until they pay the tribute and have been humbled. – 9:29 (another source: ) The unbelievers are impure and their abode is hell. (another source: ) Humiliate the non-Muslims to such an extent that they surrender and pay tribute.

          Whether unarmed or well-equipped, march on and fight for the cause of Allah, with your wealth and your persons. – 9:41

          O Prophet! Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites. Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey’s end. – 9:73

          Allah has purchased of their faithful lives and worldly goods, and in return has promised them the Garden. They will fight for His cause, kill and be killed. – 9:111

          Fight unbelievers who are near to you. 9:123 (different translation:
          Believers! Make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Let them find harshness in you. (another source: ) Ye who believe! Murder those of the disbelievers….

          As for those who are slain in the cause of Allah, He will not allow their works to perish. He will vouchsafe them guidance and ennoble their state; He will admit them to the Paradise He has made known to them. – 10:4-15

          Allah has cursed the unbelievers and proposed for them a blazing hell. – 33:60

          Unbelievers are enemies of Allah and they will roast in hell. – 41:14

          When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds, then set them free, either by grace or ransom, until the war lays down its burdens. – 47:4
          (different translation: ) When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield, strike off their heads, and when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly.

          Those who are slain in the way of Allah – he will never let their deeds be lost. Soon will he guide them and improve their condition, and admit them to the Garden, which he has announced for them. – 47:5

          Muslims are harsh against the unbelievers, merciful to one another. – 48:25

          Muhammad is Allah’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another. Through them, Allah seeks to enrage the unbelievers. – 48:29

          Prophet! Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal sternly with them. Hell shall be their home, evil their fate. – 66:9

          The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of hell. They are the vilest of all creatures. – 98:51

          Fight them so that Allah may punish them at your hands, and put them to shame. (verse cited in Newsweek 2/11/02)

      I am not sure what qualified Rosenzweig as an expert on Islam.

        steiner says:

        I am not sure what qualified muhammad to be anything since it is said that he could not even write.

          Just the usual anti-Islamic bunk.

          Is God giving literacy tests before he confers revelation?

          The Classic Arabic
          term ‘Ummi’ refers to a gentile or someone who is not familiar with
          the Law of Prophet Moses. It is not necessarily someone who is illiterate.

          Jesus was also an unscriptured or unlettered prophet.

          The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” (John 7:15)

          Not only is this particular attack often made by Jewish and Jewish Zionist Islamophobes typical of long-standing Jewish bigotry and prejudice, but it is also an implicit expression of scorn for Jesus.

          This example of Islamophobia should be treated with scorn by all decent human beings and by all Christians.

          steiner says:

          “Is God giving literacy tests before he confers revelation?”

          Are you saying muhammad was illiterate before his god gave him revelation, but then consequently became literate?…please clarify…

          ” It is not necessarily someone who is illiterate.”
          so…its not as tight and as conclusive as you make it out to be.

          I suspect that the name calling is just a diversion from the issue at hand…as regards to islam…I treat it as a cult….and certainly do so in the freedom of Jesus Christ…

          Your threats are hollow; those who would treat me with utter contempt for not believing the islamic cult are like Cain, who killed his own brother Abel because Abel was more acceptable to God…

          With respect to your comment about Jesus being unlettered, I doubt that to be true. He was raised as a carpenter, so would need math and writing. I suspect his brothers were also literate.They were NOT likely taught in the law, and were NOT scribes. However the point is moot, since Jesus claimed to be the creator of the universe and the giver of the law, His knowledge of it exceeded that of mere reading. It was the knowledge of an author of His writings. Hence the marveling at His knowledge of the Scriptures IF he was untrained in the synagogue.

          “This example of Islamophobia should be treated with utter contempt by all decent human beings and especially by all Christians.”

          You make the statement with no rational given. I cannot think of ANY reason decent human beings, let alone Christians, would have contempt for this concept. What is it exactly you are attempting to defend?

There is another way of conceptualizing the issues in this article. I would like to suggest that the key to Paul’s view of the Christian covenant versus the Jewish one has less to do with Abraham than with Noah. Paul, in his epistles, systematically ignores and suppresses the Torah and Pharisaic-Rabbinic concept of the Noahite Covenant, with its assurance that there can be salvation for righteous people in all cultures and religions. He does this even though his own self-appointed role as a diaspora emissary for the new messianic sect, and his pleading that gentiles should not be required to convert to Judaism to join, was only accepted by the Jerusalem council of the sect on the basis of the Noahite Covenant and/or ger toshav “God-fearers” ideas (cf. Acts 15:1-29, where “the Pharisees” amongst the sectarians, by the way, are represented as opposing these tolerant possibilities, not allowing them, contrary to the actual endorsement by the mainstream Pharisaic-Rabbinic movement of B’nai Noach and ger toshav “righteous gentiles”). There is another reference in passing in the N.T. to the Noahite Covenant concept in Acts 10:34-35, although again in a polemical anti-Pharisaic-Rabbinic context that suggests that the idea is new with Peter and he only applies it through Christian affiliation: ‘And Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”‘ In effect, Paul and the early Church had to obliterate the Pharisaic-Rabbinic notion of the Noahite Covenant and its universalistic implications in Judaism in order to claim that the only universal path to salvation lay through Christian affiliation, and that Judaism was merely a particularistic faith.

In this regard it is interesting that the very notion of a universal covenant of righteousness sealed with Noah and allowing salvation for the righteous of all peoples without the need for conversion to any particular religion, disappears from Christian commentaries on the Bible even up to the present day, and few Christians even know of its existence in Judaism. Instead, the usual Christian commentaries stress the “Chosen People” theme: Judaism is presumed to teach that salvation is only available through joining the people of Israel. That is why Christianity is necessary, to make salvation available to gentiles. Even Christian commentaries on the Book of Job and the Book of Jonah still fail to bring in the Noahite Covenant universal salvation idea, although this is the clear basis for both books in the Tanakh.

The reference to Abraham, therefore, is less about affirming universal salvation, which related to Noah and the Noahite Covenant, than appropriating the primal patriarchal symbol of conversion to Judaism, and reserving it for Christianity. Abraham, in Judaism, is not the symbol of the universality of salvation available to righteous gentiles, but of the foundation of the Jewish people as such. Converts to his way of life enter the specific religion and peoplehood of Judaism, according to Jewish tradition. His way of life and “birthright” inheritance is continued through Isaac, not Ishmael, and Isaac’s through Jacob, not Esau. That is why Jewish converts are given Hebrew names that declare that “Abraham” is their father and “Sarah” their mother. Paul appropriates this for his new sect, presenting it as expanding the particularistic Jewish identity (“Israel after the flesh”) through which alone salvation can be gained into the universalistic Christian identity (“Israel of the spirit”). Salvation is impossible outside this Abrahamic-Christian membership.

    Tzur, the Gentiles never have been satisfied with Noahide salvation. I think it is a waste of time to argue the point with them, as I recently saw some young Luvavitchers do on the IRT bound for Crown Heights. Christianity, as Michael Wyschogrod once observed, expresses the Gentiles’ longing to be loved by God as the Jews are loved. That is a fraught desire from our standpoint for it can lead either to admiration and friendship, or to the attempt to substitute themselves for us. Like it or not, that is the “desire of the nations” of which Christians speak

      David, my point was simply that, regardless of what Christianity has traditionally taught or is willing to grant, the Noahite Covenant idea is present both in the Written and Oral Torah, and characterizes Judaism as such, Biblical and post-Biblical. Judaism is a very universalistic religion, contrary to the stereotypes, just universalistic in a different way than Christianity and Islam her daughter religions. The absence of reference to the Noahite concept in Christian commentaries (and Muslim writings too, at least those I have read) is because of internal Christian doctrinal reasons relating to self-definition of the Christian community and its role in God’s plan, which I mentioned above. As for the longing by non-Jews and non-Jewish nations to be loved of God, that is already available to them if they return to him — as the Noahite Covenant idea suggests. There is a truly outstanding treatment of what the Noahite Covenant idea, and other universalistic themes in the Torah, imply for wider humanity, in Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ book The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations (2003), developed even further in his The Home We Build Together: Recreating Society (2007) and his especially brilliant Future Tense: A Vision for Jews and Judaism in the Global Culture (2009). I recommend these to our readers.

        RORI says:

        Christian doctrine doesn’t necessarily result in displacement theology and/or anti-semitism. In fact there are several prominent examples in today’s church leaderhip that consider themselves Christian Zionists. These support Israel’s political leadership policies right or wrong. There are others that believe that Christians can be instrumental in facilitating the reconciliation between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac. For example: meet

      RORI says:

      “Christianity, as Michael Wyschogrod once observed, expresses the Gentiles’ longing to be loved by God as the Jews are loved.”

      I would paraphrase this differently, Christianity, as RORI once observed, expresses God’s longing to love Gentiles as He loves the Jews. This is because in all other religions, faiths and persuasions there is a quid pro quo. In all these religions (including Judaism) you do something, sometimes called good deeds, to earn God’s love. However, in Christianity, He loved us first and this is undeserved just like a mother’s love is. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone believing into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

        Tzur says:

        RORI, you are again merely reflecting Christian teachings, not Jewish, so you can certainly not instruct Jews on the teachings of the Jewish Scriptures, Rabbinic tradition and Judaism itself. Judaism quite simply does not teach that God’s love is conditional. It stresses its unconditionality. Indeed, even his chastisements spring from love, it is taught. Punishments there might be, but never the loss of God’s love, for he is like a loving parent, with the metaphor sometimes being a loving Father, sometimes being a loving Mother (Shechinah, the Divine Presence). Nor is this solely restricted to Jews. It is mainstream Jewish teachings that God’s grace grounds the relationship with the whole of humanity. It is an universal grace. That is the explicit point of the entire Noahite Covenantal relationship as described in Gen. 9, the symbolic meaning behind the rainbow in the sky, God’s promise never again to wipe out humanity regardless of its sins since the Flood was too painful for him, etc. — read your Jewish Bible again. And this is also the foundation of God’s relationship with Israel, again as described in the Bible. E.g., it is not stated that God brought Israel out of Egyptian slavery because of their righteousness, but rather in spite of their enslavement to Egyptian idolatrous ways. It is not stated that they were led through the Wilderness to the Land of Israel because of their righteousness (in fact the Exodus text goes out of its way to stress their dalliance with the Golden Calf, their complaints and failings, and their general unworthiness to reach the Land). But God has mercy on them and his love triumphs over his justice, and he even promises that it always shall do so. That is the foundation of the covenantal relationship at Sinai and forever after.

        When Moses first went up the mountain at Sinai, he was told the longer name of God, which contained in it the “Thirteen Attributes of Mercy,” as Rabbinic tradition (the Oral Law) tells us. It is part of the Ten Commandments, and says, Exod. 20:5-6, that while the sins of the fathers affect and shape their descendants unto the third and fourth generations (as we do indeed see all around us), bringing down punishments upon them, nevertheless God shows covenantal love, Hesed, unto thousands of generations after a righteous ancestor, which shows metaphorically how boundless God’s mercy is. For the passage means that God’s justice is to his loving mercy as three or four is to countless thousands. Even though many or even most of those generations might be evil, their just punishments are lessened immeasurably both in their severity and their duration due to the sustaining righteousness even of a few ancestors uncounted thousands of generations before. The source of the Sinai covenant with all its commandments is therefore love and grace: God chose to bestow the commandments in love on Israel, and even to create Israel through that gift, so as to surround them with his Presence and love. This precisely is why the covenant is an eternal one, and is not dependent on whether Israel is worthy in any particular generation.

        The Prophets keep stressing this, as clearly as possible, even when warning of coming punishments, and they seek all manner of metaphors to express their joyful assurance of it. The prophet Hosiah, for example, likens the relationship of God to Israel as being similar to a husband who will never divorce his wife however wanton and erring she might be, because of the great love he has for her and the forgiveness he promises when she returns to him. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and all the post-Exilic prophets also declare the same thing: God’s covenant is an eternal one, and God will always welcome a purified Israel back with joy and love. It is interesting that the Talmud teaches that if God judged the world with justice alone, it simply could not endure and would revert to the primal chaos, but actually God’s love, mercy and grace are the foundation of the universe itself and sustains all. Grace, in short, is not a Christian innovation and Christians have no patent on it. The very idea comes from Judaism. The Hebrew word is Chen, and it is found throughout the Hebrew Bible and the Rabbinic literature, usually mentioned together with Hesed, empathetic lovingkindness or covenantal love, and Rahamim, mercy. These are the central attributes of God. Not justice. That is secondary to love.

        Another key point bearing this out in terms of actual experience: what the pious Jew feels when he or she does a commandment is precisely God’s grace. It is there all the time, but when a person enacts God’s will here on earth and between self and other, in that way becoming a kind of medium for the creative expression of God in the world, a great outflowing of joy and love is experienced (at least when the commandment is done with full awareness). Effectively, the person experiences the sustaining power and love of God that always binds everything together, and through enactment and intention includes him- or her-self in this eternal but ever-renewed bond. If Luther, and before him the Apostle Paul, did not understand this, it is simply because they never took the Biblical commandments seriously to begin with. The commandments are not the opposite of grace. They are the vehicle of grace and are constituted by the experience of grace.

        The Jewish daily prayers, recited unchanged over the past two thousand years or more, underline this. Almost every page of the prayer book offers beautiful and powerful expression of these beliefs, but one might be quoted here: “Cause us to return, O our Father, unto thy Teaching; draw us near, O our King, unto thy service, and bring us back in perfect repentance unto thy presence. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who delightest in repentance.” Even repentance, which is an act of free will, ultimately derives itself from God. Everything is from God.

          God is the same yesterday, today and forever. God IS the protagonist in His dealings with humankind whether it is with jews or gentiles. I didn’t state that God dedicated His Grace exclusively for Christians. It rains and then the sun shines after for both believers and unbelievers. I just paraphrased David Goldman’s quoting of Michael Wyschogrod which makes the gentiles the protagonists. I am glad you quoted Hosiah, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezequiel . If you look at: Isaiah 43 and Ezekiel 36:21-24; and I would add Zechariah 10:6-12 it refers to all Israel which includes Efrain or the house of Joseph. Where is Efrain today? Jesus, Peter, Jacob and Paul were primarily driven to reach out to the Jews and the lost sheep of Israel. They stated this repeatedly through out the New Testament. There were token gentiles among the followers of the Way like Luke, Cornelius, Titus, Lidia, etc. but the majority were jewish. I am convinced that those that readily answered the call to come out of the idolatry and follow the Way, as announced by Jesus, Peter, Paul, Jacob and others, were and are mainly the descendants of the northern tribes that were scattered among the gentiles and forgot their inheritance. They were not cut off entirely because God remembers His promise made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the 12 patriarchs. To quote you: “God shows covenantal love, Hesed, unto thousands of generations after a righteous ancestor, which shows metaphorically how boundless God’s mercy is.” There are recent scholarly “Y” chromosome studies showing how two in ten spaniards in average are genetically linked to sephardic jews and in the kingdom of Asturias which was more isolated and tolerant to judaism during the middle ages the proportion is even higher (5 in 10). It is common knowledge that the spaniards and portuguese went on to colonize the Americas. Then, more than 60 years ago the U.N. voted for resolution 181 to end the British Mandate and to order the British army to leave. Israel was being created with the help of 13 latin american votes out of total 33 votes in favor. 13 nations voted against including only one latin american vote. 10 abstained including 6 latin american votes. This empathy and identification with Israel is more remarkable since it happened 60 years ago while latin america was under a stronger influence from the Vatican with Catholicism having a negative influence in Christianity due to the existence back then of prejudice such as judeophobia and substitution theology. I am not claiming that all lost sheep of Israel are or went on to make a life in the Americas but the evidence is there as food for thought.

          Tzur says:

          Your conception of the Jewish people errs, RORI. It is not a race, but a peoplehood unlike any other, made up of all those who have chosen it voluntarily through conversion as well as those who have accepted it from birth. One cannot “convert” to being a Mongolian, a black African, an Arab or an Indo-European, but one can convert out of all of those backgrounds to being a Jew, and many from those backgrounds have done so: visit Israel and see for yourself. So when we pray the Standing Prayer and begin by stating our grateful and humble reliance on the merits of Abraham (and the other patriarchs and matriarchs), we do so not because of genetic descent, but spiritual descent. We are grounded before God by that past, and gladly and humbly declare our dependency on it. The dependency is not genetic, since even the most recent convert is officially given the Hebrew name of so-and-so (whatever Hebrew given name is chosen), “son” or “daughter” of “Abraham and Sarah.” Thus every convert joins the Jewish “family” and is sustained before God by the merits of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and those of all other holy Jews down through the ages, like any other. That is why conversion itself is likened to a new birth. (Of course, a converted Jew must still honor her or his natural parents: this is commanded after all by the Ten Commandments and is not cancelled by conversion. The rebirth however is a real and experiential one.)

          Similarly, apotasy removes one from the Jewish heritage if not immediately then eventually, by the second generation in the male line or at most the third generation regarding solely the female line (I am talking about the standard rulings of Jewish law, from before the Talmudic era to the present, at least as I understand it, not anyone’s personal opinions). Thus it is that if someone after generations of apotasy wishes to return to their ancient Jewish heritage, he or she can only do so through genuine conversion again as is required by Jewish law, formally accepting Judaism as their faith and practice before qualified witnesses, to the exclusion of all other religions. Just as the genetic descendants of Abraham through Ishmael, and of Jacob through Esau, etc., ceased completely to be members of the Jewish people when they separated themselves and adapted their beliefs to their surroundings, so do the genetic descendants of Jews of any generation who choose other paths. They cease to be part of the great Jewish story, and can only re-enter it through proper conversion. In the modern day a surprising number of such converts from the ends of the earth and the most diverse cultures and peoples have “returned to Judaism” in this way.

          Certainly a significant proportion of Jews do have a very ancient family lineage, some going all the way back to Moses and his father Amram in the male line, as revealed by DNA analysis of the distinctive Aaronite, about 3,400-year-old (according to genetists specializing in gene chronographic analysis) male haploid, I think it is called, passed down only from father to son and still present in just about all “cohanim,” those known to be from the priestly lineage in the Jewish community. But there have been converts to Judaism from the very start. This actually began with Abraham himself. After all, what are we told about Abraham? That as he wandered about he gathered many to himself because of the transcendental truths he taught and his own manifest greatness and goodness, who became his disciples, so that he became a great sheik. When he went off to rescue Lot from the armies that had captured him, we read (Gen. 14:14): “he called out all his 318 disciples who had been born in his house.” When the 70 sons of Jacob went down to Egypt, they also took with them not only their wives and children, but also very large numbers of followers who helped with their herds, etc.; they formed a large community that required a whole region of northeastern Egypt to be set aside for them. Over the following generations, they became a huge multitude, over a million, not only because of their own children but because of others who joined them, especially at the time of the Exodus when we read that along with the “Children of Israel/Jacob” there went out under Moses a “mixed multitude” of others seeking freedom, both slaves and free-born Egyptians (Exod. 12:38; etc.). They all became Jews at Mt. Sinai, for that is when Judaism as such was revealed and the full covenant sealed; the entire people were therefore converts together. I will not detail all the evidences of that, but it is sufficient to say that this is the traditional interpretation, supported by many suggestions in the text itself. Following that, the Jews entered the land of Israel, and as we read in the Books of Joshua, Judges, I-II Samuel, I-II Kings and Chronicles, etc., the Jews intermarried with the peoples of the land and eventually they all became Jews, for it was as “Jews” that the whole population was exiled from their land. In the Diaspora, more conversions occurred, sometimes of individuals unremarked by the world, sometimes of whole kingdoms, and so it has gone on down through the ages in almost all the lands of the world. The Book of Ruth is devoted to the conversion of a humble Moabite girl, merely one amongst innumerable similar others not recorded in the Scriptures, but related here because it was so important in its consequences, since Ruth’s grandson turned out to be King David. You, too, no matter what your background is, can convert to Judaism, and if you do so, you will become a full Jew equal to all others in Jewish law.

          But you will have to disbelieve in all that “Yeshua” stuff, RORI, if you want to convert; it is not Judaism but a quite different religion, with a different view of God, Scriptures and “Israel.” I think it is too bad that non-Jews are so keen down through the ages to wipe out both Jewish peoplehood and their faith, either physically (by massacres and expulsions), or spiritually (through conversions). Frankly, I think Christians have no business telling Jews what to believe about their own religion, and they long ago lost any moral right to “save” Jewish souls by their own persecutory behaviours — the record shows that their true moral and even spiritual obligation to Jews now calls for their own repentance, and should direct them simply to encourage more immersion by Jews in their actual Judaism; otherwise the task of Christians is to look to the rectification of their own souls instead. That is quite enough of a challenging task. Such is humanity in general, in fact, that it is good advice for all of us, irrespective of religion or culture.

          RORI says:

          Err…no. First of all, your reply reads as a standard response to someone that is trying to define judaism or re define it, whatever. That would be a scarecrow fallacy because that is not my intent here. I have asked a simple and legitimate question regarding the final destination of the 10 tribes or the Northern Kingdom. The reason why I am compelled to ask this rhetorical question is that in what we call our New Testament (Brit Chadasha) Yahshua, Shimon, Shaul and Ya’acov were ultimately reaching out to them, when preaching about The Way of Yahshua first to the jews and then to the lost sheep of Israel. As you can see there is no intention to define judaism for you nor convert you to my faith. I am not trying to convert to judaism as defined by your rabbis either. [ Yes, I am aware of “the whole kingdom” converting to judaism part of your history. And yes, I am intimately familiar with the new birth=conversion concept because it was also taught by Yahshua] I am also reviewing the books quoted here as part of an interfaith dialogue long overdue. I do this to further my understanding of some myths and misconceptions deeply held by some representatives of the so called monotheistic faiths. I saw that you skirted the subject of UN resolution 181 and how Christian nations empathized with Israel’s birth pangs. There was no islamic nation in favor of resolution 181 by the way. You also dismissed the notion that there is an absence of replacement theology if The Way of Yahshua, Shimon, Shaul and Ya’acov was in fact reaching out to the lost sheep of Israel (meaning the Northern Kingdom as differentiated from the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Benjamin and Levites…ok…Cohens ) because these are people that your rabbis would have long considered apostates and thus lost to the jewish faith. So we are not trying to replace you: whether you are genetic or converts to judaism. I am just saying that God didn’t forget His promises and the blessings of Jacob to Ephraim.

    RORI says:

    David P. Goldman and Tzur, equate Jewish with Israelite which is a common error if stated by the uninformed. But it can only be construed as misinformation given that Goldman considers himself a cultural historian and a student of Jewish theology. Jewish is a covenantal & cultural, national identity trait for the descendents of the Southern Kingdom of Judea which included Judah, Benjamin, Levites and Cohens. The Jewish national identity also describes indo-aryan-mongol stock converts from the Turkish Khazarian kingdom subjects. They became Jews after the mass conversion took place several centuries ago. But there were representatives of 12 tribes (and egyptians) present at Mount Sinai with Moses. The ten lost tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel are NOT Jewish. They are Israelites and they were lost through their captivity in Assyria. They could not be Jewish following a Pharisaic Rabbinic concept as this was developed in Babylon long after the Northern Kingdom was taken to Assyria. No one but God knows where the Israelites are today and who they are. But the true sign of the Messiah’s return is His regathering of the ten lost tribes and His restoration of them to their inheritance in the land of Israel. Messiah will sit on the Davidic throne and rule over both Judah and Israel. Present day Judaism, both secular and religious representative based in Jerusalem, claim to speak for the twelve tribes of Israel but they can only speak for the Southern Kingdom due to a conflict of interest (read proof of this in the Jewish bible’s book of Ezekiel 11:15). The Southern Kingdom of Judah kept their national identity “alive” in spite of exiles and captivities by keeping sabbath, Torah and feasts. But there are millions of descendants “in the flesh” of the ten lost tribes who forgot their Israelite covenantal & cultural national identity because they didn’t keep sabbaths, feasts, circumcision or Torah in their exile. These Israelites are “in the valley of the dried up bones” Ezekiel 37:11. Yet, they are still “chosen ones” to partake of their inheritance in the holy land although they have lived as goyim (gentiles) among the gentiles through many generations. Think of the parable of the prodigal son, as depicting the home bound prodigal son, Israel. Repentant Israel is different from the sour grapes son, Judah, who remained home keeping the Torah, circumcision, sabbaths and feasts but was upset & saddened by his Father’s joy due to his brother’s unexpected return.

      Tzur says:

      I have no idea who you are talking about, RORI, with your remarks on the “sour grapes son” who is “upset and saddened” by the return of lost Jews to their Judaism. There is a lot of joy in Israel in the ingathering of all the Jewish communities, however diverse they may be ethnically. But I suspect that it is an echo of Christian antisemitism, based on the parable in the New Testament about the prodigal son. It is a pity that the Christian Scriptures encourages such antisemitic tropes, or at least that they are still used that way today, however inappropriate the application.

      In a way, the sour grapes is that of antisemitic Christians who are not pleased with the survival of the Jewish people and religion, much less their flourishing today despite all the best efforts of antisemites. How dare the Jews do this when they should have given up and admitted long ago the supremacy and correctness of Christian supercessionism? The grapes are very sour indeed. I much prefer the more truly Christian teachings of Christian Zionists, who see their own religion and faith strengthened, not threatened, by the strengthened Jewish people’s survival and religious renewal.

      There were not two different peoples in Biblical Israel, the “Israelites” and the “Jews.” One might think so from the common usage in Christian Biblical commentaries. They were the same people, really indistinguishably one by every measure, even the political measure (there were two kingdoms only for a short time, and they both came from a prior more ancient Judean-centered kingdom). We can call people “British,” or we can call them “English,” but they are not two separate peoples, just one people. Everything we call “Jewish” began with the revelation at Mt. Sinai, and the faith behind it goes back to Abraham. It is no more a misnomer to call those who entered the land of Israel “Jews” who were practicing “Judaism” than it is to call the religions and peoples of 500 BCE China “Chinese”and “Confucian” or “Taoist,” or the religions and peoples of 500 BCE India “Indian” and “Hindu.” Actually, the terms “Chinese,” “Indian,” “Confucianism,” “Taoism,” “Hinduism,” etc., are all modern Western terms, but we easily accept their applicability to the past of those cultures, as do the Indians and Chinese themselves.

      On the supposedly lost Ten Tribes, see Ziva Shavitsky, The Mystery of the Ten Lost Tribes: A Critical Survey of Historical and Archaeological Records relating to the People of Israel in Exile in Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia up to ca. 300 BCE (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012). She shows that those amongst the Ten Tribes who were still faithful to the Torah after their exile from the northern Kingdom in 722 BCE naturally maintained their faith in the Diaspora, and when Jews from the southern kingdom of Judea were exiled into the same lands after 586 BCE, the two groups fused anew in the Diaspora; they were all called “Jews.” She also shows that right after 722 BCE many came to Judea from the destroyed northern kingdom of Samaria as refugees, and over the succeeding century others returned to Judea, the last remaining Jewish kingdom in the Jewish land, from exile, so that they too were part of the Judean exile of 586 BCE.

      The “Ten Lost Tribes” were not lost. Those amongst them that still practiced Judaism were always a part of the Jewish Diaspora, mixed with and intermarried with other Jews, and are accounted Jews to the present day.

      Any community that lost its faith in Torah of course ceased to be Jewish. Jewishness is not a racial thing, contrary to Nazistic antisemites; it is religious in its source and foundation. People of many races have converted to Judaism, including significant portions of whole kingdoms; they are fully Jews to the present day. Any traveller to Israel will discover this for him- or herself. If a formerly Jewish group should re-emerge and wish, after perhaps millenia of non-observance, to reaffirm their faith in the Written and the Oral Torah, and therefore their tie to the Jewish people, as various communities around the world have done, they of course have to go through a proper conversion ceremony to affirm their Jewishness, just as any other non-Jewish person or group would do. Israel was established precisely to be a welcoming refuge and shelter for Jews of all backgrounds, and a center of renewal for Judaism and the Jewish people; Israelis welcome such “baalei-teshuvah,” people returning to Judaism and Jewish identity, as a chief justification for their own Zionism. There are no “sour grapes” there.

        RORI says:

        Tzur, the biblical language is very precise. I take it literally. There is no mention of Jews or Judaism in the Torah. There is only mention of Israelites at Mount Sinai. To speak of Jews or Judaism at Mt. Sinai is a historical anachronism. Jews are mentioned in the Tanakh only after the Davidic kingdom split. Historically, Judaism as it exists today (rabbinical version) developed in the Babylonian captivity as there was no Temple sacrifice service possible so an alternative system of belief had to be developed. With respect to your assertion that Judaism speaks for all of the 12 tribes, I already countered that with scripture in Ezekiel 11:15. ” Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the LORD: unto us is this land given in possession.” There you see that those in charge of Jerusalem were dismissive of the land rights of Jews and Israelites in captivity (diaspora). So there is a conflict of interest, after all, recorded in the Tanakh that refutes your not guilty protestations about the sour grapes consternation shown by the prodigal son’s older brother in the gospel parable. Here is another verse in the Tanakh that supports my statement that there is a family feud between Judah and Israel Isaiah 11:13 “The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.” As far as the ten lost tribes remaining faithful to the Torah in their captivity, this is a very bold claim. The ten lost tribes were taken into captivity because they were unfaithful to Yahweh. Jeroboam made them worship two golden calves and other deities at Mt. Ephraim. King Jeroboam took them away from their three harvest pilgrimage feasts to Jerusalem. The curses of Deuteronomy 28 befell them. If someone was afflicted with Judeophobia (antisemitism is a misnomer as many Jews are not semitic and most semites are not Jews) it was king Jeroboam and his successors. I can only remain sceptical about the scholarly of people claiming otherwise when the scripture is very clear about it. The end of the family feud between Ephraim and Judah will only come when Messiah ben David sits on the reunified kingdom. This is a future event prophesied in Deuteronomy 30:3; Isaiah 11-11-12; Jeremiah 30:3; 32:37; Ezekiel 11:17; 36:24

Kavanna says:

A very interesting article, but it’s a muddle. I haven’t read Levenson, so I can’t say directly who’s responsible for what. Paul’s views of Judaism can’t be divorced from the fact that he wrote when the Temple still stood and there was still Jewish independence in Palestine. The later Christian view of the Church as the “new Israel” arose only after the Jewish revolts were crushed by the Romans. The Church eventually came to view the Roman empire as the worldly vehicle for Christian truth, and Rome as the “new Jerusalem.” But that was several centuries later.

When Islamic commentators say that sacrifice is not a significant part of Islam, they’re correct. The near-sacrifice of Ishmael was an historical test of Abraham’s faithfulness. The apparent sacrifices in Muslim practice today are actually communal meals, dedicated to the divine. These were common in ancient pagan societies, as well as in Judaism.

The Islamic perception of Christianity is also correct. Christians view Jesus as the “final sacrifice,” to cope with an extreme level of cosmic sin not contemplated in Judaism. The authorized communal meal is communion. But the Islamic commentators’ focus on sacrifice in Judaism is somewhat misplaced, I think. The prophets and rabbis had already declared “prayer, study, and charity [tzedakah]” as substitutes for sacrifice. And the word “sacrifice” itself is misleading, as the ancient Temple system played down this element, as evidenced by the word “qorban” (something brought near, i.e., near to the altar). This communal meal in Judaism is closer to Islam than the Islamic commentators seem to think.

And yes: modern Islamic terrorism is definitely not a sacrificial act, at least not in its legal justification, whatever human-sacrificial overtones it may have in practice. The shari’a source of it is jihad, armed struggle to spread or restore Islam. One who kills and dies in pursuit of it is a “shaheed,” the exact Arabic equivalent of the Greek Christian “martyros” (witness). But the indiscriminate assault on civilians is a modern twist to it, as is the rise of large-scale violence of Muslims against Muslims. Traditionally, it was Christians who shed each others’ blood in attempts to impose orthodoxy. That was the classical mode of Christian religious violence, not Christians against non-Christians.

Some historical perspective is in order here. Judaism started on the fringes of ancient civilization and has a settled, peaceful life in the Promised Land as its goal. Christianity started as a quasi-pacifist, otherworldly underground movement in a sophisticated urban civilization. Islam started among the feuding tribes of Arabia. The chronic violence of such a life was not entirely suppressed by Islam, but instead focused, narrowed, and turned outward against non-believers. It wasn’t making religion violent; instead, it was making violence religious, taking a pre-existing tendency and “dedicating” it, as it were. Underlying much of Islamic history is the cycle of settled, civilized life being disrupted and violently purified by unsullied true believers from the desert.

Related to this is the different roles that warfare plays in the three religions. There’s no concept of holy war in Judaism, although there is “milchemet mitzvah” (commanded war), as well as “wars of choice.” Commanded wars include self-defense, as well as the historical conquest of the Canaanites and the perpetual war on Amalek (whoever that is). In post-biblical times, only wars of choice or self-defense have had any relevance in Jewish history.

In Christianity, the concept of holy war is an oxymoron. The early Christians viewed warfare, like sex or making money, as part of the lower, fallen world that would be soon swept away. Only under Islamic pressure in the Middle Ages did the concept of crusade arise, in response to and imitation of jihad. Since the Renaissance, Christians have been generally embarrassed by the concept, because it fits so poorly with Christianity’s origins.

And finally, Christianity and Islamic are universalistic religions, aiming to save everyone, like it or not. Judaism views itself as a carrier of universal truths, but not to the extent of missionary activity or forcibly converting others. The universalism of Christianity and Islam are powerful motives to spread the news, by force or otherwise.

(And an endorsement: Rosenzweig is always worth reading on this topic, and any other.)

    We don’t perform the Temple sacrifices, but we still circumcise male infants and pray that the child’s blood be acceptable to Hashem. If you don’t like the term “sacrifice,” come up with another one. Again, I recommend heartily Levenson’s 1993 book on the Aqedah.

      Kavanna says:

      Thanks, I will check the book out. I’ve heard good things about it. Like many things in Judaism. there’s a displaced sacrificial element (or “qorban,” brought near) in circumcision or using salt for the challah, etc., without actually being a sacrifice. It’s an “as if.”

      And I’m honored to have a response from the author, Spengler himself.

    An excellent comment, Kavanna. But your final observations need a further nuancing, I think: we often hear Judaism being contrasted to its daughter religions as not “universalistic,” or “universalistic enough,” and that the offshoot religions therefore developed “universalistic” ideas to supplement the Jewish heritage they built on. This contrast is incorrect.

    Rosenzweig is wonderful and enlightening, but he tends to (over-) stress the interdependency of Judaism and Christianity in the ultimate divine plan of history, reflecting his own experience and situation: however, contrary to this poetical vision the autonomy of Jewish universalism is entirely coherent in itself. I would even say that Judaism is as such and without supplementation very universalistic, more so than her daughter religions; what it is not is exclusivistic: it does not claim to be the sole covenanted salvation-path to God.

    The Noahite Covenant idea, which I mentioned in another post on this page, reflects the conviction that God is already covenanted with all humanity, and that this universal covenant is already built into every culture, religion and society as their own heritage from Noah, however imperfectly it may be recalled or fulfilled. So the Noahite Covenant really is universal in a way that exclusive claims to saving truth cannot be.

    It is therefore not up to Judaism to “save” everyone and every culture; everyone and every culture must do this with God directly, from within their own existence and innermost truth where God dwells and stretches out the covenantal promise and its terms to them. Non-Jews are part of the divine plan.

    Interestingly, the prophetic promises regarding the messianic age generally make clear that in those days, the “nations” will remain along with the Jewish people, but they will not be Jewish per se, since all Jews will be ingathered into Israel and serve God there as a priestly people on behalf of all humanity. The nations will simply turn to God and practice righteousness amongst themselves, and will come up to Jerusalem especially on Sukkot (as Zech. 14:16ff. promises — i.e., they will not celebrate the other specifically Jewish festivals) to offer sacrifices there to humanity’s universal God, recognizing at last Jewry’s appointed role as their priestly intermediaries to the one God.

      RORI says:

      Interesting points! I agree that Judaism is not exclusivistic but I disagree that in its early writings it was meant to be completely autonomous and independent in the ultimate divine plan of history.

      It is hinted in the Torah that there will be a unifying agent for all the human races.

      Gen 14:18 -20 records the existence of a pre-jewish priestly royal that serviced the most high God and Creator while representing both the pre jew Abraham and the Noahite gentiles.

      For Christians this person remains forever to service the most High God and Creator while representing both jews and gentiles according to Hebrews 7:1-10.

        tzur says:

        The priest-ruler Melchizedek was manifestly a Noahite, i.e., he preserved the pure heritage of Noah, as indicated by the Torah chronicle, which places Melchizedek after Noah. The reference to him in the Torah is very brief in any case, basically is just said in passing, and Abram-Abraham has nothing further to do with him in the later narrative. This brevity and subsequent indifference to him — Abraham has no further recourse to him at any time — would not be the case if he were uniquely spared the human fate of mortality, or were in any case the eternally ordained central priestly representative of both Jew and gentile before God. Nothing in the text supports such views. We hear nothing further about him. On the contrary, as the Torah states and even emphasizes heavily everywhere, Jews are already directly present before God through their service in their daily prayers and mitzvot, so, it follows, they do not need a Melchizedek representative (and no Torah passage says they do).

        Noahites too can serve God directly, without intermediaries, through their prayers and righteous deeds in conformity with the Noahite Covenant (there is nothing in Gen. 9 nor in the Seven Noahite Commandments implicit in that narrative about the need for a priestly intermediary).

        Still, as far as priestly intercessors for both Jews and gentiles are concerned, the Torah and later teachings inform us that through their pious observances as a “kingdom of priests,” the people Israel serves as priestly intercessors for Noahites as well as on behalf of Israel itself, and this is especially true of the Tabernacle-Temple service. Their role is encapsulated in that of the High Priest who enters the Holy of Holies once a year, on Yom Kippur. He serves as a priestly intercessor for the entire Jewish people, and beyond them and symbolized through them, the whole of humanity. The symbols of the High Priest’s clothing, and especially the twelve stones he bears on his breastplate (which are inscribed with the names of the Twelve Tribes: Exod. 39:8-14), are traditionally associated not just with the twelve tribes but with all the peoples of the world, as later Jewish exegesis has pointed out. Deut. 32:8-9 is a source text on this: the “sons of Israel” (bnai yisrael) referred to there are the 70 immediate descendants of Jacob-“Israel,” grouped under Jacob’s 12 sons and emblematic of the “70 nations” of the world. Priestly intercession for the seventy nations is also effected through the seventy sacrifices in the Tabernacle sanctuary prescribed for the festival of Succot, which is why this is above all the festival for all the nations to observe in the Messianic Age.

          RORI says:

          Thanks for articulating so eloquently your faith and perspective.

          My turn.

          You are quite correct that Christians are required to turn (or return) to God. But we don’t do this just once a year during a solemn feast. We might do it daily as we may just fall below the standard during our daily walk.

          Furthermore, we don’t consider our Lord Jesus an intermediary as He is God. As a human being He offered a vicarious sacrifice once and for all. The veil separating the holy of holies was torn opening the way for us to access the place where the Shekinah IS, anytime.

    RORI says:

    Agree for the most part but disagree with your last sentence. The New Testament teaches that war or the use of force has greed as motive not the desire to spread the good news of the Gospel. There is absolutely no support for holy war in the New Testament but that hasn’t prevented politicians from launching wars of choice and recruiting support for it from church leaders. The preachers that support war are likened to the beast that has two horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon Revelation 13:11.

Joseph G says:

Well, for one thing, people understand perfectly well that applying the term “Abrahamic religions” to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is a PC denial of deep seated differences. So there are no shocking revelations here. The overused terms “Judeo-Christian” serves a similar purpose of pretending that Judaism and Christianity are so similar they can be referenced by one term. These are terms considered polite to use in public though no one – and I mean no one – actually believes the unity they imply.

Having said that, inasmuch as it is doubtful there ever was an historical Abraham (and even if there was our accounts of him are so interwoven with myth that it is of little consequence), to me this sounds a lot like arguing over the true nature of a comic book character.

But I digress…

    One of the interesting things to come out of the Ebla archives excavated in the 80s, I believe (relating to the Ebla Empire that existed in eastern Turkey and northern Mesopotamia from ca. 2,500 to 1,650 BCE in various forms), is that they contained names like Abram, Abraham, Bilhah, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Israel, and Esau, Michael, etc., and theophoric names using “Yah” too, indicating its equivalency to the High God “El,” like Ishmaya, Israya and Michaya — no other culture in deep antiquity, from around the time of our own Abraham and after (aside from the Jews themselves), had such names in circulation. The Ebla language is generally assigned to the “western Semitic” language family, and it was possibly ancestral to or at least close to the later Hebrew. The overall religion was definitely a polytheistic one, but it clearly provides precursors to our own Biblical tradition (although I should add that the Syrian-supported and obligatory position amongst archaeologists permitted to work at the Ebla sites is that there is no connection at all). We should not be entirely astonished by these precious evidences confirming the historicity of the Genesis account and the veracity of Torah. It stands to reason that the names of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs were not picked entirely out of the blue, but were culturally available as children’s names in the time and place where Abraham’s parents and ancestors lived. If an Abraham lived nowadays in a gentile world, it would not be surprising if his name were “Bruce” or “Robert,” since these names are common nowadays.

    So, Joseph, it is indeed quite possible that there was a historical Abraham, and that the entire Genesis narrative about the Patriarchal Age is well-grounded historically. says:

None of this hair-splitting really matters because the God of Abraham is no more real than the Gods of Hinduism. Three individual religions with common roots and cross-pollination. What’s important is what the followers do with their religions now, take the best that’s there and do the best for the world with it.

    Joseph G says:

    Religion tends to do the most good when it isn’t taken very seriously.

      You should then opt for those secular ideologies of death called Communism and Nazism, Joseph. Hitchens is dead wrong about religion. What he is really fulminating against is meaningfulness. Religion is about the meaning of life, something that science as such cannot deal with nor disclose, since facts are not value and give us no meaningful human direction in life, nor morality to deal with each other. Science is about how things work causally. But to know the cause of something, how it developed, or even what it will evolve or devolve into, is not to know the meaning of it. That requires the provision of a context that may go well beyond nature itself, and even defy it. Attempts to reduce meaning to “science” and secular reason, however, typically produces such results as the “survival of the fittest” endorsement of all-pervasive social bullying, racism and genocide, and glorification of violence as such, as in Nazism, or the “historical determinism” that produces gulags, Great Leaps Forward over the corpses of 40 million people, and auto-genocide such as in Cambodia, as in Communism. Secular systems of meaning are no more moral than religious systems, and are very often far worse: the deaths from what might be called “secular religions” far exceeds those of religions generally so-called.

      It should not be thought that these consequences of secular substitutes for religion are accidental. It is intrinsic to the “universal application of scientific reason” itself, which logically and almost always historically leads to totalitarianism. The first appearance of secular ideological religion-substitutes set the rule that was followed over the next two centuries; I refer to the “Reign of Reason” that inaugurated the French Revolution, a “scientific” and “equalizing reason” eager to “écrase l’infame,” i.e., to crush the infamous Church and “medieval” social differences as such. It almost immediately produced the “Reign of Terror” whose victims were from every social class and group, and culminated inevitably in the despotism of Napoleonic France and its expansionary wars to save humanity for “liberty, equality, fraternity,” covering the whole of Europe with corpses before it collapsed.

      Secularism has no magical power to solve the problem of meaningfulness, or even the moral problem of evil.

        Joseph G says:

        It’s not a question of “science vs religion”, it’s a question of what ideas are most plausible and reliable. Claims which are subjected to and can withstand critical scrutiny are more plausible and reliable than those that cannot. That’s what distinguishes scientific claims from religious claims. A purported “meaning of life” isn’t worth much if it isn’t plausible.

        Forget about the labels “science” and “religion”; the only thing that matters is whether we have good reason to believe a claim is actually true. We have a well established method for doing this. It involves making specific, unambiguous predictions as to what must happen if the claim corresponds to reality and then putting it to test, which must sustain or invalidate it. And then the test must be independently corroborated. Any claim which can be subjected to and withstand such scrutiny is plausible and reliable. This method is called science, and it is the reason why its claims are reliable and plausible.

        Now you can say “well, this method is inapplicable to questions of ultimate meaning”, and you may be correct. But this only means that we have no reliable means of determining “ultimate meaning” or even if such a thing exists. Labeling them religious claims doesn’t mitigate the implications of the fact that they cannot withstand (or cannot be subjected to) such critical scrutiny. They as a consequence remain unreliable and implausible claims, regardless of how devoutly we wish them to be true.

          You confuse establishing empirical conclusions with establishing the meaning of anything, so you have completely missed my point. The meaning of anything cannot be determined by scientific methods. It is not just a matter of “ultimate meaning,” but even of everyday meaning. For example, let us say that we have established that people born poor, in single-parent homes, tend to crime, alcoholism, etc. But actually we observe that in the very same families, one child might turn out to be a fine upstanding person, a good husband or wife, with a stable family life and employment record, etc., and another might go the way of the statistics — all largely depending on the meaning each child has given to the experiences he or she has had, and what actions the child takes in consequence. Exactly the same “empirical reality” can lead to very contrasting meanings, depending on who is construing them. Mozart is not explained when we have finished exhaustively reviewing his genetic history and early childhood, not at all. For in the end everything depended on how he construed things, which in turn promoted further outcomes that shaped him, but even this does not explain the actual result: how his astonishingly harmonious genius expressed itself in music. Let us say that I get a headache, or take a mental stimulant, or whatever, and get an extraordinary breakthrough in understanding a problem I have been struggling with for a long time. The meaning of that understanding has nothing to do with the circumstances that helped to bring it about.

          My point is that meaning involves putting things into a larger whole. That whole includes much more than how these things were caused. That is so on every level, from the mundane right up to the ultimate. That is why the meaning of the universe as a whole cannot be determined by what is inside it, but by what lies beyond it, in transcendence. Science, quite simply, can never tell us about that, since it can only know what is within the universe and available for examination.

          A big part of the problem for the “scientific” critique of meaning (i.e., religion and morality) rests on a confused understanding of structural dynamics. It assumes that every system is explained when you catalogue and describe what is in it. But no system is explained that way. No system can even exist on such a narrow basis. For a system can only exist, just as Jean Piaget pointed out in his elegant little book Structuralism (1968 in the French edition), if it has three characteristics: that it is a whole, not just a collection of parts (e.g., cells form organs which work together in a living body, and the specific parts are not important in themselves, do not determine the whole but are determined by it and can be replaced, so wholes are not understandable in terms of aggregation of component parts alone); that the system is self-regulatory (the system rules the workings of each part and adjusts them to circumstance in order to maintain the whole); and that the system is sustained through transformation. This last characteristic is the most crucial one: each system only exists through taking what is not itself and transforming it into itself. The body must eat, or it dies and falls apart. Quadratic equations only exist as such during their operations in which they transform “x” into a specific value. The sun only exists through consumption of energy derived in the first instance from beyond itself and directed out from itself. But this means that the heart of every system lies outside it; only on that basis can it exist at all. Meaning lying beyond the thing described is therefore necessary to understand every event and the universe as a whole, and science as such cannot deal with this. This does not mean that science must be dismissed when we discuss religious matters or assertions, not at all, but only that it cannot deal with meaning.

          I have mentioned the works of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks before on this page. The man is truly brilliant, and he has written on precisely this subject in his The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning (2011), a gracious but devastating refutation of the philosophical assumptions behind the Hawking, Dawkins and Hitchen “scientific” attacks on religion. He does not mention Piaget’s analysis, but he does very well without it.

          Joseph G says:

          “You confuse establishing empirical conclusions and predictability with establishing the meaning of anything, so you have completely missed my point. The meaning of anything cannot be determined by scientific methods.”

          -I confuse no such thing. Science doesn’t endeavor to “establish meaning”, it seeks to explain. Science, particularly neuroscience, can certainly provide insights into why we find certain experiences (including religious or aesthetic ones) meaningful. All of the best available evidence strongly suggests that all conscious experience results exclusively from brain processes.

          “Predictability tells us nothing about meaning. Meaning itself is unpredictable, in terms of science. A meaningful occurrence is explicable only after the event, not before it. It is not just a matter of “ultimate meaning,” but even of everyday meaning. For example, let us say that we have established that people born poor, in single-parent homes, tend to crime, alcoholism, etc. But actually we observe that in the very same families, one child might turn out to be a fineupstanding person, a good husband or wife, with a stable family life and employment record, etc., and another might go the way of the statistics — all largely depending on the meaning each child has given to the experiences he or she has had, and what actions the child takes in consequence.”

          -With all due respect, this is a very simplistic analysis. It conveniently overlooks or dismisses the fact that “the meaning each child has given to the experiences” is largely determined by brain chemistry and brain processes that are well within the purview of scientific inquiry and far beyond the scope of religion or religious belief. Moreover, there are means by which researchers can predict, with some accuracy, the path the children in the situation you describe might be more or less inclined to take, based on their genetic profile, and their brain chemistry and structure.

          “Exactly the same ‘empirical reality’ can lead to very contrasting meanings, depending on who is construing them. Mozart is not explained when we have finished exhaustively reviewing his genetic history and early childhood, not at all.”

          -I know of no competent 21st century scientist who would suggest that we could “explain Mozart” by exhaustively reviewing his genetic history and early childhood, certainly not why we find his music aesthetically pleasing. But again, this doesn’t mean that the neurological basis of aesthetic experiences are beyond the purview of scientific inquiry. On the other hand, while religious literature may wax poetic about such experiences, it neither ‘establishes’ or explains them.

          “For in the end everything depended on how he construed things, ”

          -But how he construed things was again in large measure a function of his brain chemistry and various other material processes which are amenable to scientific inquiry.

          “…which in turn promoted further outcomes that shaped him, but even this does not explain the actual result: how his astonishingly harmonious genius expressed itself in music. That was not predictable. ”

          -I don’t think we could predict the specific works of Mozart or their reception using scientific inquiry (or religious doctrine for that matter), but we certainly could predict that someone with a certain genetic heritage and brain structure would be more likely to have musical talent than another. In any case, the fact we couldn’t predict “how his astonishingly harmonious genius expressed itself in music” is neither a plus or minus for either science or religion. It’s irrelevant.

          “Let us say that I get a headache, or take a mental stimulant, or whatever, and get an extraordinary breakthrough in understanding a problem I have been struggling with for a long time. The meaning of that understanding has nothing to do with the circumstances that helped to bring it about.”

          -You take a mind altering, brain stimulating drug and afterwards have a novel insight and you think the drug had NOTHING to do with it? Clearly, it very likely would have had something to do with it. That’s not to say one could give a stimulant to anyone and expect them to have the same insight of course, or that this would amount to a scientific explanation of your insight, but it doesn’t mean something supernatural or religious or non material has occurred. Quite the opposite.

          “My point is that meaning involves putting things into a larger whole. That whole includes much more than how these things were caused. That is so on every level, from the mundane right up to the ultimate. That is why the meaning of the universe as a whole cannot be determined by what is inside it, but by what lies beyond it, in transcendence.”

          -The meaning of the universe as a whole may very well never be determinable, inside or outside of it. Of course, to the extent that one understands the term “universe” to ultimately mean “all that exists”, the notion of something outside of it is incoherent.

          “Science, quite simply, can never tell us about that, since it can only know what is within the universe and available for examination.”

          -I agree that science can only tell us what is available for examination. But that isn’t merely the limits of scientific inquiry, it is the limit of any meaningful inquiry or mode of experience, including religion. To claim that there be gods hiding where we can’t look is of course simply a god of the gaps fallacy.

          “A big part of the problem for the ‘scientific’ critique of meaning (i.e., religion and morality) rests on a confused understanding of structural dynamics. It assumes that every system is explained when you catalogue and describe what is in it. ”

          -This is simply not true. There are many areas of science which deal with the notion of emergent properties which cannot be reduced to a description of their parts. A trivial analogy would be that of bricks to a house; a description of the constituent bricks does not describe the house built of them. This doesn’t mean that the house is ‘supernatural’, transcendent, or immaterial.

          “But no system is explained that way. No system can even exist on such a narrow basis. For a system can only exist, just as Jean Piaget pointed out in his elegant little book Structuralism (1968 in the French edition), if it has three characteristics: that it is a whole, not just a collection of parts (e.g., cells form organs which work together in a living body, and the specific parts are not important in themselves, do not determine the whole but are determined by it and can be replaced, so wholes are not understandable in terms of aggregations of component parts alone); that the system is self-regulatory (the system rules the workings of each part and adjusts them to circumstance in order to maintain the whole); and that the system is sustained through transformation. This last characteristic is the most crucial one: each system only exists through taking what is not itself and transforming it into itself. It must continually regenerate itself through what is not itself, eliminating what would destroy it if retained. The body must eat (and excrete), or it dies and falls apart. Quadratic equations only exist as such during their operations in which they transform “x” into a specific value. The sun only exists through consumption of energy derived in the first instance from beyond itself and directed out from itself.But this means that the heart of every system lies outside it; only on that basis can it exist at all.”

          -Yeah, you are basically describing something akin to the notion of emergent properties. But thus doesn’t mean “the heart of every system lies OUTSIDE it”. See above brick house analogy.

          “Meaning lying beyond the thing described is therefore necessary to understand every event and the universe as a whole, and science as such cannot deal with this. That is why I said above that the meaning of the universe lies in what transcends it, not in terms of what is in it. This does not mean that science must be dismissed when we discuss religious matters or assertions, not at all, but only that it cannot deal with meaning.”

          -But there is no compelling evidence or reliable basis for thinking anything transcends the universe. And even if there is, it is inaccessible to both science and religion. The difference of course is that science acknowledges it’s limitations am refrains from making claims about things it does not know to even exist and the religious often speaks of little else.

          “Religion and science are not opposites nor need they oppose each other when their proper spheres are understood; rather they complement and reinforce each other then, and even need each other. I have mentioned the works of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks before on this page. The man is truly brilliant, and he has written on precisely this subject in his The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning (2011), a gracious but devastating refutation of the philosophical assumptions behind the Hawking, Dawkins an Hitchen “scientific” attacks on religion. He does not mention Piaget’s analysis, but he does very well without it.”

          -If we can agree on something here, it might be this. There is a certain sense of ‘awe’, of ‘meaning’ and ‘mystery’ that every good scientist is familiar with, and there is a sense in which this experience itself cannot be captured simply in a description of one’s brain state. But this doesn’t mean that it isn’t the product of brain chemistry, nor is it evidence of a ‘supernatural’. It’s simply a recognition that this thing called life and consciousness and the universe, and the fact that we’re aware of anything at all, is really too profound for words. I think this is what Einstein was getting at when he said that “Religion without science is blind, and science without religion is lame”. I can agree with that; I can even see myself as ‘religious’ in this non-supernatural sense of the term. It’s ultimately a long word for “WOW!”

          Einstein himself by the way, though often claimed by theists as a believer, did not believe in a personal creator god or an afterlife.

          Anyway tzur, you write very eloquently and thoughtfully and I enjoy reading your posts even if I disagree with much of what you have to say.

          Thank you for your long and courteous response. There are things I agree with and things I do not in it, of course, which is to be expected in such matters, and I even think you have sometimes continued to miss the points I was trying to make, but perhaps this is not the place to have the long and truly interesting conversation I expect we could have together. says:

I’m surprised there hasn’t been a big PC push yet to replace “Judeo-Christian” with “Islamo-Judeo-Christian.” Maybe there has, and I just haven’t heard about it. But then you’re still leaving out other people, so you’ll have to add more again.

    Joseph G says:

    People who refer to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity as “the Abrahamic traditions” are essentially doing precisely this.

      I respectfully disagree. On the basis of a clear reading of their respective content of their holy books and teachings, Islam is the opposite of Judaism. And Christianity. An image in a mirror.

        Greg Easter says:

        All three have the same exact origin. Deal with it.

          Brigham Tennyson says:

          You don’t know what you’re talking about . Muhammad prayed to more than 80 idols and a main one named Hubal also known as Al-ilah or “the God” , the moon God of Babylon , hence their lunar symbol.
          He photocopied a lot from the Torah and made so many mistakes in his attempt to portray that his religion came from the same origins.

    Usually when people say Judeo-Christian, they mean something that is found in the Tanakh, which is literature shared by Jews and Christians. For example, when the 10 commandments are discussed, the term Judeo-Christian is applied because the Torah is holy to Jews and is part of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.

Alex Rad says:

This ownership of Abraham is incredible. What’s more incredible is for followers of the Jewish faith to consider him as “Jewish” and themselves are descendants of his flesh! He is part of a mythological tradition that was later incorporated into a convenient biblical genealogy and later into the Qur’an. Abraham very clearly worshipped the head of a pantheon (El or Il), who is not the same as what becomes the biblical god later, Yahweh, who in the Qumran text is shown more clearly as one of the sons of Il/El, whose functions even his ‘Asherah, are appropriated. Yet, Abraham has been used in all imperial and colonial projects (from the Bible, to Constantine and the U.S.), so why deny that mythological privilege to Islam. In fact, if anything the Allah is Islam is derivative of Il/El, the god of Abraham, more so that the Jewish worship of Yahweh. Let all this be humbling to everyone rather than cause to own and feel imperialistic.

My friend Prof. Reuven Brenner has given me permission to post the following comment:

Literal interpretations of Biblical descriptions – in English, and philosophizing about them have greatly puzzled me for a very long time. Once one reads the text in the original, one notices just how much has been lost in translations, and that the events are metaphors, reflecting recognizable behaviour at all times, in all societies.

Take the binding of Isaac, discussed by Levenson and this review. Why would anyone take this story literally? And what type of “sacrifice” is it about? After all, if taken literally, this would be one of the most unusual Biblical story: God asking a parent to sacrifice his child?! How does this story fit in with the Ten Commandments? The answer is simple: the story like many other Biblical ones should not be taken literally.

Put the story in the proper context: The covenant was signed with Abraham. But Isaac was the very first generation living in the Land of Israel (and never venturing out). Isaac simply represents “Judaism” as practised then (the Abrahamic covenant did not pass to all of Isaac’s offspring).

As with every faith with a short – few generations – history, a basic question has been: What would the first generation of believers (Abraham) do when facing a conflict? Would they choose the “faith” – the way “Judaism” was practised then by the first generation of “Jews” (Isaac being its symbol), disobey God (and not carry out faith-required “sacrifices”) – or listen to God?

Seen through the prism, the story teaches the important lesson (forgotten by many religions throughout millennia and to these days), that people should be ready to sacrifice religious beliefs, practices, customs, tradition – the things that Isaac is a mere symbol for – and stick instead to the voice of a “higher authority.” In fact, “Abraham” is ready to let go of “Judaism” as practised then, to show that he sustains deeper beliefs.

The implied lesson of the story is simple: “Don’t be a “fundamentalist.”” After all, what have fundamentalists in many religions do through the ages? Kill, sacrifice in order to sustain the glory of the “faith,” and forget that the glory is that of God, and whose first command in NOT to kill. There are matters of higher order than succumbing to traditions and customs handed down for generations, which pass for “religion.”

Perhaps it is with good reasons – as Levenson and Goldman note – that the story of this “sacrifice” is downplayed in the Quran, where obedience to “faith” is perceived by some as being the higher goal. But Levenson is wrong implying that that jihad, including its manifestation in terrorism, is a mode of sacrifice in Islam—the spiritual heir of the binding of Isaac. The practice reflects the exact opposite of what the Biblical lesson.

To illustrate with another example how attention to the Biblical context – and reading the book in Hebrew – changes entirely the meaning of the story, consider Cain and Abel’s, where a “killing” – for those taking the story literally – actually does take place. Again, there has been endless philosophizing on this episode, raising not only the question about the killing, but how is it that Cain then becomes the Father of Civilization?

After Cain, the farmer, “kills” his brother, the keeper of sheep, the Bible tells us that he settled down and “knew his wife, and that she conceived and bore Hanokh. Now Cain became the builder of a city, and he named the city after his son.” Little attention has been paid to the fact that it is in this story that the word “city” comes up for the very first time in the Bible – and the word “Hanokh” means education. Note too that Cain’s name is derived from the Hebrew word meaning “to buy” (“kinyan” means “acquisition”).

The story is now familiar, well documented around the world. As populations grew, societies around the world turned gradually from herding animals to farming – and villages grew into cities. We also know that innovations in agriculture did not happen randomly but came in response to sudden increases in population–as did other innovations, such as literacy. We know that the transitions were not peaceful, and for good reason.

The keepers of the sheep, like Cain, let animals graze freely and fought the farmers like Abel, who eventually enclosed land for farming. This sequence of events is not just well-documented around the world, but is a fixture of popular culture too – that’s what the musical Oklahoma is about.

Dusting off layers of misleading translations, and much philosophical baggage built on many things that were lost in translations, Biblical stories suddenly make sense. But one should probably read the text in the original, know the historical context, discard much academic nonsense, and – last but not least – have a good understanding of human nature, which really didn’t change at all since Biblical times. Only the layers of words created tough to penetrate veils, Towers of Babel of misunderstanding.

    Pam Green says:

    Another preposterous comment by David Goldman, this time by his friend, Reuven Brenner, an economist! The history of agriculture does have much to do with economics but does the professor have any background in ancient history? It wouldn’t seem so from the following quote:

    “The story is now familiar, well documented around the world. As populations grew, societies around the world turned gradually from herding animals to farming – and villages grew into cities. We also know that innovations in agriculture did not happen randomly but came in response to sudden increases in population…. We know that the transitions were not peaceful, and for good reason.The keepers of the sheep, like Cain, let animals graze freely and fought the farmers like Abel, who eventually enclosed land for farming.”

    This just isn’t the way it happened.

    (1) It was not population growth that led to farming, because, in the beginning, agriculture did not provide a greater or more stable source of food than hunting/gathering or husbandry. And hunter/gatherer societies regulated their birthrates depending on the availability of food. One could argue that it was population concentration that did it but, in fact, agriculture began in areas that were suitable to farming and nothing else. For instance, Sumeria’s incredibly rich soil was its only natural resource! Food was all it had to trade for raw materials!

    (2) farmers and herders coexisted peacefully in Sumeria, with the vast herds grazing just beyond the fields and cities, not only providing a stable food supply but also a military buffer zone against marauders. The transition to agriculture was not peaceful but the conflict was not between herders and farmers. It was between herder/farmer and nomad/merchant. Agriculture destroyed trade routes by privatizing land and water rights. It ruined the ecology and the lifestyles that depended on it, by blocking migratory paths of animals and birds, and the peoples who followed them. It ended the small, egalitarian hunter/gatherer societies, enforcing a hierarchical structure with a permanent underclass. (The Marxists had a lot of fun with all this).

    (3) innovations did not occur as the result of population growth but by adapting agriculture to new geographical areas.

      RORI says:

      Agriculture developed in geographic areas that were suitable to it. Yes! Nutrient rich top soil from the high Nile seasonal runoffs flows downstream and fertilizes predictably the Nile delta. This led to widespread availability of food which led to population concentration and the development of science and art in Egypt. The same thing happens when nutrient rich topsoil flows downstream from the snow cap Anatolian mountains to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers . The seasonal overflow of these great rivers fertilizes the marshes. Abundant food source was the reason people came to Babel and Babylonia. The concentration of people and the predictability of the harvest led to advances in agricultural science, meteorology, astronomy, etc., a similar pattern of agriculture leading to population concentration leading to science and writing happened with the mayans and incas in the Americas.
      The under privileged slaves, migrant workers, seasonal migrants, cotton pickers, come to these places willingly or by force to pick up the crops and earn a hard living if lucky. In between the harvests they become the pool of slaves, cheap labor, that are useful to build the infrastructure of the rulers such as the: pyramids, palaces, roads, aqueducts, temples, etc. It still happens today.

    While I probably haven’t devoted as much time to studying the matter as many of the previous commentators seem to have done, for what it’s worth, a Christian would likely say that G-d asking Abraham to sacrifice his son is a type, or foreshadow of the messiah ( or Christ). Nonetheless, it seems like quite the trial of Abraham’s faith as he was promised he would become the father of many nations ( hence his name), yet in his old age he had just lost one son and now G-d was asking him to sacrifice another.

    Also, concerning Cain, I think he was a tiller of the ground and Abel was keeper of sheep , as, if I remember correctly, part of Cain’s anger stemmed from Cain’s offering of the fruit of the ground being rejected because the Lord had demanded a blood sacrifice ( such as for the later Akedah); as such, Cain more than likely would have had to rely on his brother to obtain the sacrificial animal, but apparently he chose to “sacrifice” his brother instead.

      steiner says:

      Yes indeed, it is Cain that tilled the ground, while Abel tended the sheep. What I have always wondered is why was Cain’s sacrifice not acceptable to God, while Abel’s was. My conclusion is that Abel’s sacrifice
      (also note that in those days people did not have eat animal meat, but were vegetarians…making the blood sacrifice even more interesting)

      was acceptable because Abel’s faith was based on God’s Word portending the ultimate sacrifice that would take away sin. Hence, Abel believed God, while Cain could not bring himself to agree or believe that innocent blood must be spilled to repair for sin. Hence, not only was Cain against the sacrifice of the lamb, but against the whole notion of God providing His lamb, the Christ, in order to bring redemption to humanity..

      RORI says:

      Not sure that God had demanded any such blood sacrifice but He certainly led the way in clothing Adam and Eve with animal skin coats while rejecting their bloodless leaves of fig tree.

I take the Aqedah story quite literally, in fact. Child sacrifice was widely practiced, if not routine, throughout the Mediterranean, a topic that Levenson addresses well in his 1993 book “The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son.” All sorts of gods asked all sorts of people to sacrifice their children and they did so regularly. The actual history runs against efforts to make the binding of Isaac into an allegory for something else.

    Pam Green says:

    You’re a pompous ass. You are repeating propaganda, nothing more. Child-sacrifice was not widely or routinely practiced throughout the Mediterranean; in fact, there is no hard evidence that it was practiced at all. As for how the issue is addressed by Levenson, it was addressed in the sloppiest, most unethical, unscholarly manner imaginable. If you read the chapter in Beloved Son in which Levenson provides his archeological proof of child sacrifice, you will find that he does not go any farther than asking his Harvard colleague, Lawrence Stager, “Hey, Larry, did you find evidence of child-sacrifice at your Carthage dig?” to which Larry replied, “Tons”. Thanks, says Levenson, and promptly writes that child-sacrifice is a proven historical fact.

      Pam, you use very strong and abusive language, for some reason. And the claim of “propaganda, nothing more,” is far too airily dismissive. I have read a fair number of archaeological books over the years on Phoenician and Canaanite cultures and religions which refer to child sacrifice, and none of them derive this information from the Harvard archaeologist Lawrence Stager, not that his confirmation of its existence disproves that it occurred, as you seem to suppose. Since he is certainly a contemporary authority on the subject, however, it would strongly tend to prove quite the opposite, actually, or at the very least that it remains likely according to serious scholarship.

      In any case, I just now consulted the magnum opus of one of the past generation’s leading authorities on the subject, Sabatino Moscati, The Phoenicians (New York, etc.: I.B. Taurus, 2001, English translation of a 1998 Italian work), a densely written, detailed and richly footnoted work of 650 pages. He writes, pp. 141, that recent scholarship has questioned the significance of finds of profuse remains of small children clearly associated with burnt sacrifices, in special ritual sanctuaries (the tophet, mentioned as such also in the Bible) and with animal offerings included amongst them, found in Carthage and a number of other western Phoenician archaeological sites. It has been suggested that these are merely the remains of children who died in infancy and whose bodies were burnt and offered to the gods in a special place as substitutes for children who might thus live on.

      Moscati summarizes the conclusions of the debate: “As for the ritual killing of human victims, and children in particular, this seems to have been a rather limited phenomenon in the Phoenician and Punic religion, not included in the ordinary forms of worship, but reserved for particularly serious situations. Phoenicians and Carthaginians probably had recourse to this solution only when disaster threatened, according to a practice widespread throughout the ancient world.” However, that means it did happen, and ancient testimony for the sacrifice of children in Canaanite and Phoenician-Punic cultures comes from many sides, Greek, Roman and Biblical. If it was propaganda, it was propaganda from many contemporary cultures around the Canaanite-Phoenicians-Punic cultures, of a sort not directed at other enemies. In a later, fuller discussion, p. 119, Moscati mentions those ancient sources as confirming such rites, although one of his references needs correction. II Kings 23:10 refers not to Joshua as Moscati says but to King Josiah of the 6th century BCE: it tells us that in the course of destroying the paganizing shrines of the people the King”defiled the Topheth in the Vallery of Ben Hinnom, so people could not pass their sons and daughters through the fire to Molech.” So, whether still alive or not (this is not entirely clear from this passage), some children were indeed burnt in Canaanite cult as sacrificial offerings to their gods, just as the Carthaginian sites indicate.

      Jeremiah also refers to this “abomination” as being imitated by assimilatory Jews in Canaan, Jer. 7:31-33 (God emphatically declares, “I never commanded this, and it did not occur to Me,” and promises retribution for those practices — which certainly rules out mere propaganda against others: these are actual severe admonitions concerning the practice of idolatrous Jews imitating Canaanite cult).

      The sacrifice of thousands of captured soldiers by the Carthaginian general Hannibal is described in Roman sources. But this too is not mere propaganda. Independent and incontrovertible evidence of at least Canaanite cultic human sacrifice, especially of captives of war, is testified to by the Moabite Stone, a stele erected by the King of Moab, Mesha, around 840 BCE, discovered by archaeologists and now displayed at the Louvre. In it, Mesha boasts of his victories over Israel and the thousands of captured soldiers he offered up to Chemosh, god of Moab, or in the case of female captives to Ashtar, Chemosh’s consort, in celebration of victories. The Mesha or Moabite Stone does not refer to child sacrifice per se, but the same king Mesha is mentioned in II Kings 3:27 as being severely pressed in one of his battles with Israel, so “Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall.” In this light, child sacrifices at times of need do not seem so improbable as you suppose, Pam, nor is merely this cult of human sacrifice a matter of propaganda by enemies: it is actually the contemporary testimony of the Canaanite cult participants themselves.

        Pam Green says:

        I’ve cut out the pejorative but Goldman IS just repeating propaganda, if unwittingly. And you are too blindly accepting of the verdict as well. I’ve made a very serious study of this topic; in fact, I’m just now finishing a book that refutes the accusation. Every once in awhile, I run across statements like yours and Goldman’s that prove to me once again that my book is needed. It is especially disheartening when Jewish scholars acquiesce on this issue without investigating it. Aren’t you concerned that this accusation is used to foment anti-Semitism?

        As for your arguments, let me take them one at a time. Lawrence Stager claimed that the excavation he supervised proved the existence of child-sacrifice – and he claimed this as early as 1979, before any scientific analysis of infant bones had even been conducted! Jon Levenson never even spoke to the osteologist in charge of studying the bones. If he had just picked up the phone, any time before 1993 when he published Beloved Son, Levenson would have learned from Jeffrey Schwartz at the University of Pittsburgh that Stager had misquoted him and misreported the scientific evidence! Other ‘irregularities’ in Stager’s handling of this topic are gradually being admitted, and they are truly scandalous.

        The Phoenicians was published in 1989, not 1998. (Perhaps you’re dyslexic?) Moscati once supported the child-sacrifice theory but he reversed his opinion in a seminal article published in 1991, which in turn influenced European and Tunisian scholars. Those in Stager’s camp were so infuriated by this that they took many opportunities to ridicule Moscati and dubbed his followers revisionists.

        As for biblical quotations, if they were indisputable, this controversy would not still be raging, would it? The phrase ‘pass the child through the fire’ does not necessarily mean that the child was killed. In fact, there is considerable evidence that this baptism by fire, practiced by Mediterranean and European cultures as late as the Middle Ages, was not sacrificial in nature. And finally, the killing of Mesha’s heir upon the wall of Moab, in full view of Ahab’s army laying siege to the city, is not proof of a widespread, routine, religious practice of child-sacrifice. It was an exceptional case, a desperate act to save the general Moabite population by eliminating the reason for the war.

          Thank you for your response, Pam. It seems that your view and that of Moscati as I cited him are not so very far apart, after all. You do grant that in exceptional cases such as that of King Mesha of Moab, child sacrifice literally occurred, even involving the killing and burning of the victim. The Mesha stele, or “Moabite Stone,” is certainly explicit about massive sacrificial offerings of war captives, which in turn tends to confirm the veracity of the Roman accounts of the similar Carthaginian practices relating to Roman captives. I quoted in my previous comment from Moscati’s book his summary of the debate which was already acknowledged and accepted by him then, so it did not post-date the book The Phoenicians. When I examine my copy of the book more closely it does seem to be as you write ultimately from 1988 in the first Italian edition, and the second Italian edition of 1997, from which the English translation was actually made according to the copyright page, does not seem to have had any significant differences. In any case, Moscati grants in the book that “the ritual killing of human victims, and children in particular, … seems to have been a rather limited phenomenon in the Phoenician and Punic religion, not included in the ordinary forms of worship, but reserved for particularly serious situations.” However, the omission of discussion of the Mesha stele is problematical, since that does prove the existence of human sacrifice on a massive scale, as a normal part of war, and therefore suggests its permissibility on other unusual occasions. It also confirms the historicity of the II Kings narrative and supports the Torah account more broadly.

          I cannot see that the admission of this in any way promotes antisemitism, Pam. Actually, the very reverse is the case. What Israel’s neighbours did is roundly rejected in the Hebrew Scriptures as being horrific, and Judaism cannot be tarred with it. The Torah is very very clear in its condemnation of such practices, calling them veritable “abominations,” and the very opposite of what God wants. Judaism has never condoned nor endorsed child sacrifice, or human sacrifice of any nature. If maniacal antisemites say it does, they obviously do so out of blind hatred, in open disregard of the truth, and what we find out about pagan Canaanite and Phoenician practices will not influence them one way or another — rather, these researches tend strongly to confirm the Tanakh account and thereby strengthen its testimony. And it is obvious, and always has been, that the Akeda, a founding narrative of Torah Judaism, is an explicit repudiation of such acts, once and for all.

          Pam Green says:

          Unfortunately, Tzur, your assumptions are incorrect. The accusation of child-sacrifice HAS been used to “tar” the Jews and Judaism; just Google ‘Molech’ if you have any doubts. And it is not only “maniacal antisemites” who are doing this – by which I assume you mean fringe groups or fanatical individuals – but the most prestigious universities and church authorities. Our most trusted institutions have aggressively marketed this slander since WWII, and there has been no protest from the Jewish community.

          Regarding the Moscati timeline, he explains in his 1991 article that both he and Sergio Ribichini independently had come to the conclusion by 1987 that child-sacrifice did not occur, but he also says that this was overlooked in important works published between 1987 and 1990. It was for this reason that he felt that he had to republish his evidence and reasoning in ’91. So, I am not really sure to what extent his new position was reflected in The Phoenicians. Neither this book nor the preliminary studies from ’87 have, to my knowledge, been cited as causing the sea change in the consensus among Italian scholars. And the passages you quote are ambiguous, so I’m not sure that you’re right that they represent my own position.

          Pam, these are very serious allegations, that “the most prestigious universities and church authorities … have aggressively marketed this slander [i.e., Jewish rituals of child sacrifice] since WWII … ” Can you give some references that validate these charges? As an academic myself (retired), I have never encountered such things. If what you say were true, I think I would have, and so would have “the Jewish community,” whose absence of protest seems to me entirely understandable as an indicator of the absence of evidence. So please do clarify this.

          Pam Green says:

          Yes, of course, I can validate these charges. My work is thoroughly documented. What was your academic field, Tzur, and where did you teach?

          Let’s deal with the question at hand, Pam. It is not about my CV. Please do present your evidence so we can make a proper assessment of it.

          Pam Green says:

          Tzur, you are very condescending and arrogant. If you think you can make a “proper assessment” of an issue of which you first became aware not 24 hours ago, you should be happy to state your qualifications.

          Come on, Pam, the issue is not my CV. That is actually irrelevant to this matter, and no one needs a higher degree to evaluate such things anyway. If I sound condescending and arrogant to you, then I am quite happy to apologize to you; I do not mean to be. Please share with all of us the basis for your very strong assertions concerning leading universities and church bodies.

          Pam Green says:

          Actually, Tzur, you just provide more proof of your arrogance by requesting that I fit my material into a few comments. There’s too much! Possibly you didn’t read my earlier comments very closely.
          In any case, if you insist on remaining incognito, I will have to end this conversation.

          So you avoid verifying your claims at all, even with a few telling examples that would take up just a few lines? And again you justify this by personal abuse. It is not an academically persuasive argument, and tends to weaken your entire case.

          Well, turning to the other big contemporary issue raised by you in explaining the importance of disproving the existence of ritual child sacrifice amongst the Canaanites, Phoenicians and Carthaginians, and that was to counter antisemitic charges. As I pointed out above, this would imply that the Biblical account actually falsified and very seriously slandered gentile religions around ancient Israel, thus increasing antisemitism, not reducing it, and even by implication justifying the same slanders as payback against the Jews in later Christianity (and now, Islam). You must have a persuasive answer to negate or refute such consequences of your argument, seeing that you do take antisemitism so seriously, so could you share that with us, at least?

          I am not an archaeologist, but it seems overwrought to dismiss the reports of child sacrifice in the Mediterranean as “propaganda.” Simply because archaeologists have not found something doesn’t mean that it did not exist. Why would the Hebrew prophets inveigh against passing children through the fire for Moloch if it never happened?

          Pam Green says:

          No one denies that the reports of child sacrifice in the Mediterranean were propaganda. Specifically, these reports were by Greeks and Romans defaming their arch-rivals and enemies, the Carthaginians. The authors who indulged in this were not the great historians but the hacks like Diodorus Siculus, well known for embellishing and inventing salacious elements in order to increase the sales of his books. Furthermore, as several scholars have pointed out, the references to Carthaginian child-sacrifice are not independent of one another. They appear to have been copied by one author from another, generation after generation.

          Despite admitting that these extant literary fragments are political propaganda, some current scholars accept them as reliable for the unethical reason, which they state in print, that “we cannot yet do without them”. This speaks volumes. It says that the study is not a dispassionate search for the truth but an argument leading to a predetermined conclusion. In other words, propaganda.

          As for your “argument of silence”, it doesn’t apply. Archeologists did find so-called evidence in the Mediterranean (although no physical evidence of any kind was found on the mainland of Israel, Canaan, Phoenicia, Arabia, Syria etc.) The Mediterranean ‘evidence’ was from Carthage and other Phoenician colonies, and consisted of infant cremated bones in urns with the cremated ash of newborn animals, in cemeteries designated for children no older than four years old.

          The Carthaginian infant bones were originally discovered in the 1800s, but not only were several excavation attempts foiled by bizarre accidents and tragedies, but the retrieval and study of cremated infant bones was itself in its infancy. Developing the science took decades. Unfortunately, Lawrence Stager couldn’t wait. He leapt to the conclusion that these infants had been sacrificed. He did not even waver in this opinion when it was found that most of the infants had been pre-natal, aborted fetuses or miscarriages, stillborn or less that 8 days old. In other words, they could not have been sacrificed because they were already dead.

          As for why the Hebrew prophets inveighed against Moloch, see my comment above to Tzur.

          steiner says:

          I have not read the comments and I have only read the article once,(it is late and I wish to go to sleep)…but I would like to note the following: when Paul speaks of Abraham’s faith, he refers to that particular faith of Abraham in believing that God would provide the Lamb to take away sin..( Abraham initially may have thought that the Lamb was Isaac…).

          Furthermore, if we analyze the story of Cain and Abel we are told that Abel’s sacrifice was more acceptable to God’s than Cain’s…I sense that the reason had to do with faith….but what kind of faith? the faith that made Abel sacrifice a Lamb(a vicarious sacrifice of what was to come!)Unlike Cain, Abel’s sacrifice spoke of faith in God’s Word, that He would provide the Lamb which would take away man’s sin….This is the faith of Paul(spoken so clearly by Isaiah in chapter 53) and it must be the faith of those who believe God our Father…our Provider…

          Finally, Islam is a mendacious exercise, similar to the religions of Moloch and Baal…where men takes upon himself to pay with his own means what God expressly notes cannot be paid with our own resources…hence human sacrifice, child sacrifice…etc. The Aztecs practiced the same…and I sense this to be a common denominator among many cults because they corrupted the original message (that God would provide His sacrifice) so that men came to believe that they could provide their own sacrifices…(children, slaves..etc)

          Some wonder where to find the “original message”… we read it in Genesis. Here God explains to Eve that from her posterity there will be one whose heel will crush the head of the serpent and in the process be bitten by the very same…This is what Abraham’s faith was based on, and this is what Paul speaks of…God providing the Lamb to save mankind…

          Here, I am left to wonder and conclude that these original truths were corrupted as people left the “faith” after Adam, and yet they retained bits of the truth which they then used to produce pagan beliefs and rituals (sacrifice of children) or myths such as the Greek myths of Achilles…and so on…

          What of the Jewish people?…Paul preached Jesus to the Jewish people in Greece, in Rome…so I too preach Christ, the Jewish King and …the Emmanuel…God with us (Isaiah 9:6) possessing an everlasting Kingdom…

          I urge you to read Isaiah, and read the letter to the Galatians and then consider Christ.

          Pam Green says:

          The Biblical account doesn’t explicitly state that child-sacrifice was practiced; if it did, there would be no controversy! The literal expression “pass the child through the fire” doesn’t necessarily mean that the child was killed. Have you ever passed your hand through a candle, walked on hot coals, or jumped over a bonfire? As I mentioned before, passing the child through a fire was something that many ancient and medieval cultures did, because it was thought to make a child hardy, ward off infections, or ward off supernatural predators like child-stealing fairies. And of course the Greeks and Romans had many stories about passing the child through the fire – Achilles being the most famous.

          There are any number of reasons why a non-lethal pagan ritual might have been condemned by the prophets – beginning with the fact that children were being dedicated to a pagan god. You may not be aware of this but there was only one Talmudic rabbi who believed that the children were killed, and that was during the Inquisition. The more common explanation was that the child was carried in the arms of the parents between two rows of torches and blessed by an idol.

          The closest the Bible comes to condemning Canaanites for child-sacrifice specifically are a few statements in Jeremiah, and the idea that Jeremiah could have been exaggerating for dramatic or polemical effect is nothing new. So I don’t think your argument about anti-Semitism will hold. Nothing could make Jew-hatred any more extreme than it already is in Islam, and Christians do not equate gentiles and pagans. As for why “Jews as Jews” should care about rectifying the reputation of the ancient Canaanites, you have to understand that the only reason this issue never goes away is because of the Jews. No one really cares if the Canaanites or Carthaginians did this dastardly deed! Proving they did is an obsession only because it makes it more plausible that the Jews did it too.

          The Canaanites are not the subject of Jeremiah’s statements, but the idolatrous Jews of the day. I have responded to the supposedly unclear statements in the Tanakh in my earlier responses above, quoting in my most recent post from the Jewish JPS translation Jer. 7:31; 19: 6, 11-14; and of course II Kings 23:10, which is indeed explicitly and forthrightly about the Moabite practice of child sacrifice. These texts are borne out by the Canaanitic attitudes displayed in the Moabite Stone in no uncertain terms.

          Isaiah 30:33 is another Biblical text that actually describes Tophet, and again it makes it clear that it is a place of killing and death. Perhaps I should have cited it before. Using as before the JPS translation, in the context of End-of-Days retribution to Assyria, “The Topheth has long been ready for him;/He too is destined for Melech — /His firepit has been made both wide and deep,/With plenty of fire and firewood,/And with the breath of the Lord/Burning in it like a stream of sulfur.” The footnote to the term “Topheth” states: “A site near Jerusalem at which human beings were sacrificed by fire in periods of paganizing; see 2 Kings 23:10.”

          So here the Jewish Publication Society has affirmed the very thing that you claim the RSV Christian translation innovates and wrongly states for antisemitic reasons.

          The association of the tophet with death was a Biblical association, and indeed I am surprised that a Talmudic rabbi even lived during the Inquisition, which occurred some 800 years later, but also by the claim that child sacrifice was not linked in Rabbinic exegesis with the tophet until that 13th century CE at the earliest. I confess to some scepticism about that, but have not the time to research it.

          I think Pam is trying to distinguish Rabbinic scholar from a Karaite scholar. Both Jewish communities existed in Spain and both often called their scholars hakhamim.

          Pam Green says:

          Your true nature is revealed, putz.

          Pam Green says:

          As I mentioned in another post, the literal phrase “passing the child the fire” had always been translated literally because no one really knew what it meant. This changed in 1952. Although the phrase was still as much a mystery as it had always been, the National Council of Churches decided that it would translate it “burn the child in sacrifice” in its new version of the Old Testament called the Revised Standard Edition. Moreover, this change was unremarked. It was made without footnote or explanation and, as such, ordinary Christians might assume that it had always read that way. And there was no outcry from the Jewish community! Even though the RSV was hotly criticized by traditional Christians for other reasons, no one complained about this particular change.

          As if this wasn’t bad enough, the Catholic Church then decided to license the RSV and use it instead of their own Old Testament. And other Christian denominations were emboldened enough to take this matter even further in their OT translations, changing “burn the child in sacrifice” to read “burn the child to death in sacrifice”. Yes, now millions of Christians were being taught that the ancient Israelites not only sacrificed their children, but burned them alive! And you wonder, could this be anti-Semitic?

          I do not wonder whether that could be antisemitic, Pam. It is obviously not. Those that did child sacrifice were explicitly stated in the text itself to be following Canaanite practices, not Jewish ones, worshipping the Canaanite god Molech, not HaShem, and they were condemned in the text and by the mainstream Jewish community that preserved the text of Jeremiah, Isaiah, II Kings and the Torah, and by God himself who is quoted as rejecting it as never commanded by him. Canaanite religious practices died out two thousand years ago or more. Nobody follows it since. And it was presented in the Tanakh itself as the antithesis of Judaism. So this hardly amounts to an inditement of Judaism, but rather affirms the blamelessness of those Jews who follow Judaism. It is therefore not antisemitic nor anti-Judaic to translate the passage as the RSV does, and as Jewish exegesis does too, anymore than it would be anti-Christian per se to point out Church denunciations of all sorts of cruel or idolatrous practices by Christians from the time of the early Church to the present. I thought that you were going to present evidence of academics from prestigious universities, and of Church bodies, “aggressively marketing” the idea that Judaism positively endorses ritual sacrifice of children “to Molech,” in your words, and/or that Jews have actually done this down through the ages and still today, Pam.

          I can see something of your point, and might agree that the Christian translations could reasonably stay with the actual words of the text rather than extrapolate something not there. Still, the Jeremiah passage (7:31) is pretty clear that the Tophet, a mortuary site by definition and usage everywhere we can find them (e.g., in the Carthage case), was built to enable paganizers “to burn their sons and daughters in fire — which I never commanded, which never came into my mind.” Jeremiah 19:5 says (and please note I am using the 1985 Jewish Publication Society translation, not the RSV): “[The kings and people Jeremiah condemns] have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. They have built shrines to Baal, to put their children to the fire as burnt offerings to Baal — which I never commanded, never decreed, and which never came to My mind.” That, too, Pam, is pretty clear and explicit, and it is not the RSV but the JPS translation. Is that also antisemitic? Only if the tophet is not a mortuary site would your argument hold, in any case, but it is known precisely as a place of burial: Jer. 19:11-12 (in later tradition it becomes the entry to the Underworld of the death, the very gates of Hell). I also think that the II Kings 3:27 and Moabite Stone testimonies are pretty explicit ones.

          Pam Green says:

          As I mentioned in another post, the literal phrase “passing the child the fire” had always been translated literally because no one really knew what it meant. This changed in 1952. Although the phrase was still as much a mystery as it had always been, the National Council of Churches decided that it would translate it “burn the child in sacrifice” in its new version of the Old Testament called the Revised Standard Edition. Moreover, this change was unremarked. It was made without footnote or explanation and, as such, ordinary Christians might assume that it had always read that way. And there was no outcry from the Jewish community! Even though the RSV was hotly criticized by traditional Christians for other reasons, no one complained about this particular change.

          As if this wasn’t bad enough, the Catholic Church then decided to license the RSV and use it instead of their own Old Testament. And other Christian denominations were emboldened enough to take this matter even further in their OT translations, changing “burn the child in sacrifice” to read “burn the child to death in sacrifice”. Yes, now millions of Christians were being taught that the ancient Israelites not only sacrificed their children, but burned them alive! And you wonder, could this be anti-Semitic?

          I do not wonder whether that could be antisemitic, Pam. It is obviously not. Those that did child sacrifice were explicitly stated in the text itself to be following Canaanite practices, not Jewish ones, worshipping the Canaanite god Molech, not HaShem, and they were condemned in the text and by the mainstream Jewish community that preserved the text of II Kings and the Torah, and by God himself who is quoted as rejecting it as never commanded by him. Canaanite religious practices died out two thousand years ago or more. Nobody follows it since. And it was presented in the Tanakh itself as the antithesis of Judaism. So this hardly amounts to an inditement of Judaism, but rather affirms the blamelessness of those Jews who follow Judaism. It is therefore not antisemitic nor anti-Judaic to translate the passage as the RSV does, and as Jewish exegesis does too, anymore than it would be anti-Christian per se to point out Church denunciations of all sorts of cruel or idolatrous practices by Christians from the time of the early Church to the present. I thought that you were going to present evidence of academics from prestigious universities, and of Church bodies, “aggressively marketing” the idea that Judaism positively endorses ritual sacrifice of children “to Molech,” in your words, and/or that Jews have actually done this down through the ages and still today, Pam.

          Pam Green says:

          You write, “I thought that you were going to present evidence of academics from prestigious universities, and of Church bodies, ‘aggressively marketing’ the idea that Judaism positively endorses ritual sacrifice of children…”

          I hadn’t gotten that far, but, as you mention it, you might as well know that that’s exactly what it’s come to! The current state of this study is precisely that! They ARE saying that child-sacrifice was not only legal from the inception of the religion but a requirement! And that the Jews sacrificed their children not to a god named Molech but to HaShem. They’re saying that Molech never existed, that he was invented by the rabbis to disguise the shameful fact that Jews were sacrificing their children to YHWH all along.

          And that concludes my little lesson, which you certainly did not deserve. I hope other readers on Tablet will read our exchange and come to a firm decision to never engage in a conversation with you, which is a draining, masochistic exercise in futility.

          Where are they saying that “child-sacrifice was not only legal from the inception of the religion but a requirement”? Where are this apparently nameless “they” saying “that the Jews sacrificed their children not to a god named Molech but to HaShem,” and that “the rabbis” invented Molech (though Molech is named in the Torah itself, long before the Talmudic era), etc., etc. So far, no evidence of this whatsoever has been presented. Not even a smidgeon.

          Indeed this has been a very weird conversation, I will agree with you on that.

          Pam Green says:

          Do your own homework. You’re nothing but a vampire.

          Kate HA says:

          Such arrogance! If your scholarship is as rigorous as you claim it is a simple courtesy to provide REFERENCES to the material you have studied and referenced. After 40 years in academe I fear I find your personalised attacks on Tzur offensive proof that what you insist is extensive knowledge exists entirely inside your own head.

          Pam Green says:

          Kate HA HA: You are a joke!

          Did you read through the entire exchange? If so, and you still feel that Tzur deserves your defense, you must be his girlfriend!

          And I doubt you really spent 40 years in academia! If so, would you like to tell us what your position is, and where you work, or do you, like Tzur, refuse to provide your REFERENCES upon request? Yes, “it is a simple courtesy to provide references”! Tell that to your partner in crime!

Jeepers Creepers !!!

The $10,000 Torah
Challenge has been sent to
six professors and ten doctors at The Bible Studies department of Bar Ilan
University in Israel. In addition, it has also been sent to at least fifteen
faculty members at Brandeis University who are in some way or another related
to Jewish Studies or Education. So far, not one of these “scholars” has even
attempted to answer the question:

Can you, according to
the Torah, prove that Judaism does indeed pass through the mother?

Judaism passes thru
the mother merely because the rabbis say so; not because of what
is written in the Torah !

The Torah clearly says
it is permissible to marry Canaanite virgins. How could God have told Moses,
orally, that Judaism passes thru the mother and then made a written law which
says it is okay to marry Canaanite virgins? Do you think it is possible the rabbis
are lying?

A link to this Torah
challenge has also been sent to:

Prime Minister of

President of Israel

The Jewish Agency

The Director of the
Chabad Movement

The AISH Educational

The Progressive Jewish

The Conservative
Jewish Movement

The President of
Brandeis University

and countless other
Jewish Institutions and synagogues.

Yet, not one single
rabbi has responded. Why not?

    Karaites at least have a story straight. To them, Judaism passes through the father because the Torah states that your tribe and clan came from your father’s side, so being part of the Jewish people comes through your father’s side. From what I’ve heard (I don’t know how true this is) but when the Romans occupied Judea, they would occasionally rape the local women, and to make sure that the children were raised as Jews, the rabbis stated that Judaism came from the mother’s side.

      Habbgun says:

      Um no…….
      The Torah is very clear that it is matrilineal. Jacob married Rachel and Leah while Esau married the local women that Isaac and Rebekah were against. There is no Jewish heritage for Esau only Jacob. Rebekah was found outside the local Canaanite population. A Kohen is forbidden to marry a convert. Tribe and clan do come from the fathers side but so what. It is for status within the Jewish people only. Membership within the Jewish people is matrilinearly determined and always was. Right from the beginning since Judaism was handed down to Isaac through Sarah. Not Ishmael though the father was Abraham the mother was Hagar.

        Um no….
        The torah says absolutely nothing about matrilinial or patrilinial decent. Don’t forget that every son of Jacob married canaanite women. Judah, who most of us are descended from, was no different. Moses married a Midianite, yet his two sons were undoubtedly Jews. There is also no Jewish heritage for Esau because he is not descended from the 12 tribes (seeing as he was their uncle), nor did his descendants go to Egypt or receive the covenant on Mt. Sinai. It has nothing to do with who he married. It was not until the 2nd century AD when the Talmud was written that Judaism was deemed to pass through the mom. Of course, this whole point is basically moot. Judaism as a religion didn’t develop until we received the law on Sinai. Before then, we were simply monotheistic Israelites. Judaism as a concept didn’t really begin until the word’s first use in the Book of Esther in the 4th-3rd century BC. The diaspora in Persia was the first time where Jews were written in as practioners of a religion rather than people from the nation-state of Israel/Judah.

          Habbgun says:

          You are missing the basic message. An acceptable mother is what determines a Jew no matter how great the father. You certainly can not argue the reverse since it is clear that patrilinear is not final no matter how great the father. Esau gave up his heritage and his choice of women was a clear part. Yes Sinai gave the laws but the patriarchs are the first Jews and the example they set is relevant. It is relevant to what creates a person competent to send Hashem’s message to the world. How a child is reared is of vital importance, hence the mother as the denominator of ultimately who is a Jew. And by the way the Talmud is a written preservation of what was an oral law already in effect. If matrilinear descent is there it was there beforehand.

          RORI says:

          Ezr 5:1 And the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the JEWS in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the Elah of ISRAEL who was over them.

          The Jews in Judah and Jerusalem have always claimed that Judaism speaks for all the twelve tribes of Israel but there is a conflict of interest so Judaism CAN NOT speak for the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom.

          Eze 11:15 Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the LORD: unto us is this land given in possession.

          RORI says:

          You are only partially correct! Most of you descend from Judah (and Benjamin and Levi/Cohens) that is correct. However, Moses two sons are undoubtedly, levites and Israelites not Jews! There is also no Jewish heritage for Esau because he is not descended from Judah or Benjamin! There is no Israelite heritage from Esau because he is not descended from the 12 tribes. Judaism develops after the Davidic kingdom splits in Northern and Southern kingdom and Pharisaic Rabbinic Judaism develops during the Babylonian captivity.

        RORI says:

        The Torah, meaning the 5 books of Moses, doesn’t even mention “Jews” how can it say anything about Judaism? It mentions Israelites! The jews are only mentioned as a separate people from Israel once the Davidic kingdom split into north and south. Please refer to the book of 2 Kings 16:6. Pharisaic Judaism was born in the Babylonian exile.

    I will tell you why not. Because nobody knows why we say your Jewishness is inherited from your mother. Accepting that fact is the first step towards unraveling this mystery.

    I will give you one clue to get you started. Leah was not really the mother of Dinah, it was Rachel. Take a look at Genesis 30:21 where the very next statement tells us “God did not forget Rachel”. Inexplicably and practically mid-sentence (pretend there are no “verses”) the narrative suddenly switches from Leah’s children to Rachel. This new pedigree explains why the warlord of Shechem wanted Dinah so badly and also why Leah’s sons hotly pursued the interloper. To obtain Dinah’s genetics, all the men of Shechem were willing to be circumcised. Then her half-brothers massacred an entire town to prevent the men from talking about the secret. The story unfolds that Shechem figured out Dinah’s true pedigree while even Jacob was ignorant of it. Dinah’s genetic inheritance was so highly desirable that Jacob stews about these events until Bet-El, where it is revealed to him that his daughter is the first Jewish mother.

    The halachic law on Jewish lineage dates from the time of Dinah, although the hows and whys have been completely forgotten.

As far as I know Martin Luther was not much of a scholar of Hebrew and got his Rashi indirectly in Latin from Nicholas de Lyre, who wrote Postillæ Perpetuæ based to a large extent on Rashi’s commentaries.

Martin Luther had issues with Jewish profiteering, usury, and double-dealing. His anger was based not primarily on religious disagreements but on his probably legitimate perception of the damage that Jewish business practices were doing.

Eichmann’s desire to become of scholar of Judaica is simply a ridiculous myth that far too often goes unchallenged.

Thus Goldman’s first paragraph is nonsense, and the article then becomes much stupider.

    Luther’s attitudes were not based on anything the Jews did, but arose in the first instance out of his environment and religious readings long before he had any actual experience of Jews, shaped his youth, and was apparent already in his early writings in which he was still hopeful of Jewish conversions and guarded his words. The antisemitism sharpened and became more blatant and unguarded when the failure of these hopes was dashed. The religious motivation was primary from the start. He hated the Jews above all for what they did not do, namely they refused to grant his anti-Judaic interpretations of Scripture any validity, and did not convert to his own Lutheranism, which would have been a triumphant testimony to the superiority of his own sect over Catholicism and an evidence of the near advent of the messianic age, as the Apostle Paul had promised. This overriding motivation for Luther’s concept of the Jews is accepted by just about all standard studies of Luther. When the hoped-for conversions never came, he inflated all possible criticisms he could find to make, exaggerating their evil, inventing further libels, and demonizing the Jews themselves. In his On the Jews and Their Lies, written in his later years, he strongly recommended to the princes who ruled Lutheran states that they destroy not only all Jewish synagogues and schools but also all Jewish homes, confiscate all Jewish property and move the Jews themselves into communal barns or barracks in Jewish ghettos. They should be forced into hard labour, and forbidden any practice or even teaching of the Jewish religion. Their rabbis must be muzzled or killed. If this did not result in producing the conversions he demanded, he recommended expulsion or even mass murder. The full text of this work is available on the internet, and continues to be a chief resource for antisemites. Fortunately, since World War II (but not before), the Lutheran Church leaders have formally repudiated this work and dissented from it.

    Eichmann did seek instruction in Judaica but could not find a rabbi to give it to him, and was nevertheless regarded by his SS fellows as a chief Judaica authority: it was precisely on this basis that he became head of the SS division responsible for implementing the Final Solution. He of course pored over the antisemitic distortions and lies about the Jewish religion and literature that had accumulated in the German language since the Middle Ages. Therefore, I am sorry to say, Goldman is entirely justified in his comments on these matters.

    As for “Jonathan Affleck,” and his evident attempt to whitewash all this, it is sufficient just to point these facts out to put that attempt in its true light.

      David Cesarani wrote the most recent biography on Eichmann. His discussion of Eichmann as an expert on Judaica can be found on p. 56.

        Cesarani’s p. 56 of Eichmann: His Life and Crimes (2005: published in some countries as Becoming Eichmann) does not discuss Eichmann’s expertise in Judaica, but rather informs us about Eichmann’s 1937 trip to British Mandate Palestine where Eichmann sought to research Jewish Zionist activities and perhaps to establish links with anti-Jewish Arab leadership. Again Affleck proves himself totally unreliable. By the way, the Cesarani book confirms my remarks made above, including Eichmann’s antisemitism from early years, pointing out on p. 33 that it was simply part of growing up in Austria (and Germany) at the time. Antisemitism was a major and daily part of volkish newspapers like Eichmann’s home-town Linzer Volksstimme, and was inculcated in public life, so it was natural for Eichmann even though he was warmly supported by Jewish employers in his youth.

          I don’t understand how page 33 relates to the question of Eichmann’s expertise in Judaica or Jewish studies or to Goldman’s claims of Eichmann’s desire to learn with a Rabbi.

          It is simply mythography to claim that Eichmann was was an expert in Judaica or Jewish studies or aspired to be such even if he may have benefited from the reputation of expertise.

          On the other hand, we should all keep in mind

          1) that hostility to German and Yiddish Jews was often grounded in legitimate complaints against vile, obnoxious, and atrocious behavior and

          2) that non-Yiddish and non-German Jews often made exactly the same complaints as alleged gentile anti-Semites.

          A good book to start to analyze the legitimacy of modern complaints against Jews is Esau’s Tears by Albert Lindemann, who is a respected Jewish scholar of European studies.

          No one should refrain from condemnation of Jewish Zionist villainy or from contempt for ridiculous Jewish pseudo-scholarship because criticism of Jews in the past was unfounded.

          In reality, a lot if not most or even the vast majority of criticism of Jews in the past was completely legitimate.

          Actually, that is far from what Lindemann claims in his book. He does however point to culture-clash issues arising out of the differences in Jewish and non-Jewish cultures, issues that arise as we know from all cross-culture contacts. The tendency however to demonize Jewish difference came out of the gentile antisemitic heritage, and did not relate to Jewish traits. So I think your account of Lindemann like your account of other matters is blinded by hate. I feel for your poor wife. However warped her previous understanding, she will never learn the truth about her own ancestors and heritage or be guided to a more wholesome and self-affirmative identity with you as a partner.

          It is you, Mr. Affleck, who asserted Eichmann’s “expert” knowledge of “Judaica,” and wrongly cited p. 56 in Cesarani’s book to back yourself up — forgotten that already? The p. 33 reference shows that Cesarani confirms the argument I made above about Eichmann’s ingrained antisemitism. He did aspire to be an expert in the Jewish religion and tradition, however: Cesarani tells us that he sought to get a Berlin rabbi to teach him, despite the opposition of his fellow SS officials; when they vetoed his continuing efforts, he reproached himself for not having thought at the start of just arresting the rabbi and forcing him to teach him — that would have been the efficient and properly “Nazi” route, now closed to him.

      The wiki summary on Martin Luther’s hostility toward the Jews seems reasonable.

      It identifies 1536 as the turning point and places the anti-Semitic writings and agitation only in the last 10 years of his life.

      My wife, who researched Jewish propaganda at Hebrew University points out that the very last complaint that Luther made against Jews focused on usury. When tried to look at the political economic issues of the time period, she found that Luther’s complaints against Jews tracked very closely the damage that Jewish business practices were doing.

      There may have been some blame shifting in the aftermath of the Peasants’ War because Luther for the most part supported the princes against the peasants. It was probably convenient to focus popular anger against Jewish usury and profiteering, but in point of fact Jewish usury, profiteering and exploitation were certainly real, and by the 1630s the rulers were feeling the effects as the peasantry and lower bourgeoisie had 10 years earlier.

      Those were times when political economic grievances were expressed in religious terms, but once one discerns what the religious complaints are really saying, one cannot help but realize that the vituperation against Jews in the 16th century was at least as legitimate as it was in the 19th century or more recently on account of the theft of Palestine from the native population by racist murderous genocidal invading Jewish Zionists.

        Jonathan Affleck is not a reliable source regarding the references he cites for his case; they actually testify against him, and he falsifies their content. E.g., the Wikipedia article “Martin Luther” says, concerning Luther’s antisemitism that it is evidenced throughout his life, since it “reflected a theological and cultural tradition which saw Jews as a rejected people guilty of the murder of Christ, and he lived within a local community that had expelled Jews some ninety years earlier.” This article confirms what I wrote above in every detail, including the content of “On Jews and their Lies” and the malign influence of Luther’s writings on preparing the ground for the Holocaust in German Protestant society. Affleck avoids this article, and cites just the article “Martin Luther and antisemitism.” However, this article, too, does not support his claims, but rather confirms my account above as well. 1536 is not identified as any “turning point” in changing Luther from a philo-Semite to an antisemite, and does not relate to stereotyped charges of usury at all but is merely the first year his anti-Jewish publications changed from attacking their religion and aiming at their conversion to Christianity to calling for their outright expulsion.

        Affleck brings us up to date with the most recent modulations of such antisemitism, with his concluding comment on “the theft of Palestine from the native population by racist murderous genocidal invading Jewish Zionists.”

          steiner says:

          Tzur, you are correct in noting that Luther was, from the beginning, quite an antisemite…This, I believe, was a consequence of his Roman Catholicism. It would be interesting to study the state of affairs between Roman Catholicism and Jewish people immediately before Luther’s day. Luther served His purpose though, by removing the strangle-hold of Roman Catholicism on Europe during that time. Certainly, he was not the first reformer; there were many, even in Italy itself, groups such as the Waldesians, the Bogomils and others were unwilling to accept Roman Catholicism and dated their fellowships to as early as the 300’s…

          Alternatively, I will have to do some research on people like Zwingli (a contemporary of Luther) and even Cromwell to see how they perceived Jewish people…

          I do not know about Zwingli, but the Puritans and the Calvinists were not so antisemitic as were the Lutherans; their positive view of the “Old Testament” precluded that. The Hebraic tradition was deeply respected, even if Jews as such were often still negatively viewed due to the societal weight of antisemitism, and for their refusal to become Christian and persistence in difference. Puritans could be much more welcoming to Jews than some other Christian groups, and Cromwell as is well-known sought (unsuccessfully) for formal admission of Jews into England (he nevertheless facilitated their unofficial admission). In fact, this positive view of God’s revelation still working in the Judaic tradition even after the development of Christianity encouraged some Dutch and English political thinkers to “go back to the sources” (including rabbinic sources) on teachings of state and religion, thus laying the foundations in the 16th to 18th centuries for parliamentary democracy itself. See, on this, Eric Nelson, The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought (Harvard UP, 2010). Just as antisemitism has been a deep wound and hindrance within Western Christianity itself, a more positive view of the Jews and Judaism has opened up very positive new possibilities within Western culture.

          desertvoice says:

          Catholics I know are not anti-semites. Luther although, given his lack of civility, may well have been. I want to swich the topic somewhat in the direction of Christianity.

          It is absolutely false
          to argue that Abraham is the Patriarch of the Israelites. Such claim flatly
          contradicts Genesis 12, 3, which states unequivocally that “in Abraham
          will be blessed all the People of God on
          the earth”! So it doesn’t really
          matter from which tribe Abraham came from. In the eternal Plan of God, he was chosen
          to become the earthly Father of all the People of God!, including, of course
          the Christians, the Buddhists, the Hindus, and yes, the Moslems! Abraham’s greatness consists in his
          uncommon faith in the Power of Yahweh Ehad!
          Because faith itself is a gift from God, Abraham did really nothing on
          his own. All was given to him by the Omnipotent God! Abraham’s greatness also
          consists in his belief in the Divine Omnipotence. Somehow, in a mysterious way,
          Abraham had sensed and concluded, that this One God was there for him as a
          Protecting and Loving Force! Only such
          person, then and now, is able to believe to the end. As a Christian, I am a
          great admirer of Abraham!

          steiner says:

          “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” John 8.56

          Abraham’s faith was based on God’s promise to eventually provide The One and Only Perfect Lamb…the Perfect Sacrifice that would bring about the redemption of mankind: The Messiah, the Emmanuel (God with us): Jesus.

          Those who believe and rejoice (like Abraham) in Christ’s sacrifice are accepted in the spiritual family of Abraham and are saved.

          Those who believe that they themselves can satisfy God’s Holiness by their own means, or add to what Christ has done, have believed another gospel and have in fact despised God’s Own Providence…to their own detriment (much, I believe, like Cain who resolved to offer his own kind of sacrifice).

          As regards to faith: it comes from hearing the Gospel: the Word of
          God: Christ, The Gift to mankind….

          Though He is freely given, few accept Him as their very own and only sacrifice…

          RORI says:

          Hear, hear

          steiner says:

          As regards to the Jewish people…Jesus came as a Jew… We are told as well, in Isaiah 9:6 that He will sit on the throne of David and reign as Israel’s rightful King….

          God rules in the heart of men only by consent, not by force.

          Hence, He will return when the world has become apostate, and in the midst of Israel’s darkest hour, when its unbelieving enemies, having decided to oust the Jews from the land of Israel, combine their resources, their politics,their false religion, and their power, to remove His rightful seat from among the earth…

          only when the Jews cry out to Him for help, in their desperate need, and consequently accept His kingship will He return. Luke 13.35, Zechariah 14, 12.10…

    Cynthia Morris says:

    I love how apologists for racists, antisemites, and those who advocate(d) for ethnic cleansing or genocide always seek to rationalize their crimes against humanity based on the very canards employed by the racists, antisemites, and genocidal maniacs they defend.

    Mr. Affleck, you are a contemptible, Jew-hating piece of garbage. As is well known, Luther wrote “On the Jews and Their Lies” for the Moravian Sabbatarians, who were “Judaizing” in a way that Luther found threatening.

      You are referring to “Against the Sabbatarians,” which was written in 1538 two years after Luther published his letter that marked a shift in his attitude toward Jews.

      “On the Jews and Their Lies” was published in 1543. It makes three minor references to Sabbatarians, two of which direct the reader to his earlier writing on Sabbatarians. The third is associated with a discussion of the correct meaning of le-olam.

      Why don’t you check your facts before you embarrass yourself?

      Here is an Adobe PDF version:

      Bohemia and Moravia have a complex Sabbatarian history that is as much connected with politics and economics as it is with religious doctrine.

      Kafka was probably descended from Hussite converts to Judaism.

        They come here. They ALL come here. How do they find me?

          Maybe because you are an apologist for Jewish Zionist barbarism and fling ridiculous accusations against over 1.5 billion people.

          Read this article from the LA Times.


          A while back my wife Oksana had me read some crap from Max Nordau. He is one of the most important primary Zionist ideologists.

          The practices described by the LA Times constitute a key element of the core eugenics ideals that Max Nordau made intrinsic to Zionism.

          Don’t take it personally, David, it reflects their obsessive-compulsive mania that they bombard Jewish-related websites everywhere with their garbage. We see it generally on the internet. Any reference to Jewish matters draws them out. I have always thought that Natan Sharansky’s “3-D” definition of antisemitism (double standards, demonization, delegitimisation) should have added to it a fourth tell-tale trait, drivenness, just to give it a “d” word or, better put, obsessiveness. For the true antisemite, Jewish hate just cannot be dropped, it becomes the center of their life, the fulcrum of their being, the true expression of their character. It appeals to the paranoid psychotic, above all. It becomes a true mania. And it is a mental as well as a moral and spiritual sickness, I am convinced.

      My former Russian Israeli ex-Jewish wife would be surprised to learn that I am anti-Semite although I have to admit that some of her opinions of Jews make me uncomfortable.

      I just have to concede that because she grew up in the Soviet Union, became a Zionist, emigrated to Israel, became an anti-Zionist, could no longer tolerate living in the perverted Zionist state, and emigrated to the USA, she has immense life experience that I cannot fully ken.

On the issue of “Jihad” this article seems to neglect to mention that Christians and Jews have also have a history of martyrdom or suicide ( e.g. early christian martyrs and Jewish Zealots), and it glosses over the issue of terrorism by suggesting that it is primarily an Islamic problem despite terrorism having been adopted by groups such as the Irgun and Irish Republican Army.

Furthermore, “Jihad” is explicitly mentioned in the narrow sense without any indication of how “Jihad” is interpreted in the broader sense. ( see, “What does ‘Jihad’ really mean to Muslims,”

And lastly, I could not find the NCC’s report on Global Terrorism between the years 2004- 20011, however, it is possible he added up the numbers from each year, but judging from a summary of the 2011 report, I don’t see how one can conclude terrorism is primarily an Islamic occupation. The report does say that the Middle East/ Southwest Asia witnessed the most terrorism incidents, but nearly 85% of those attacks in three countries that are essentially in war zones ( Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan). According to the report, this translates to nearly 65% of attacks worldwide; a significant number, but hardly a muslim majority. ( Granted, the summary of this report does not seem to specify perpetrators by region, so it is hard to know how many attacks in the Middle East and around the world were coordinated by “Islamic groups”.) Additionally, the report mentions that, where religious affiliation was known, 85- 97% of the terrorism victims within the last five years were also Muslim, which doesn’t seem to fit the narrow confines of Jihad as Holy War expressed earlier.

( see ; or

    Also, regarding the statement, ” Sacrifice is not a pillar of Islam” I would have to disagree. The five main Pillars of Islam include; an affirmation of faith ( there is no g-d but Allan), prayer, alms giving, fasting, and hajj. According to the Oxford American Dictionary, Sacrifice ( as a noun) refers to an act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to G-d or to a divine or supernatural figure. So, strictly speaking we can say that alms giving and fasting require the ” surrendering of possession” ( e.g. food and money) as part of a religious duty to G-d, and can in effect be viewed as sacrificial. However, the Hajj itself also requires the sacrifice of an animal in remembrance of the binding of Abraham’s son. Furthermore, if we take the view, also espoused above, that ” death in jihad is the Muslim equivalent of the sacrifice of the beloved son” we have to wonder what to make of the fact that within some aspects of Shia Islam, Jihad itself is a pillar of Islam. Either way, it is quite perplexing why it is assumed that sacrifice bears little to no significance within modern Islam, when it seems apparent that sacrifice, and partially the remembrance and replication Abraham’s sacrifice to G-d, is a major theme within Islam.

    Habbgun says:

    Lets just use numbers and forget 9/11, the Madrid bombings, suicide bombings in Israel, the attack on children at a Russian school, the fact that Moslem deaths from other Moslems is due to the Sunni, Shiite divide, that it is worldwide and aimed at infidels while the other groups you mentioned were localized struggles and were not religiously based the way Islam is. Excuse Islam you don’t get peace you just get the same Islam with statistics. Nice try though.

      Well, to begin with, my arguments never included any religious premises; I was merely examining the spurious argument that “nearly all terrorists are muslim”. However, I don’t understand how violence resulting in tensions between Sunni and Shi’a can be equated with the idea of greater Jihad ( by the sword), or “Holy War” as such a justification for killing does more to deter the spread of Islam rather than promote it, nor does it explain how killing others fits into the self- sacrifice paradigm. Furthermore, as Sunni’s make up between 80%-90% muslims worldwide, one would expect that since this schism has existed within Islam since its infancy, then surely this animosity which compels one to pursue violence against his fellow kindred would have wiped out the small Shi’a community within the first thousand years of Islam. Regardless, it seems that Muslims, or those claiming to be adherents of Islam, are just as often the victims of terrorism as they are the perpetrators of it ( but, then again, I suppose in this age, all Muslims are victims of terrorism when it is portrayed as central to their nature, or belief, although they feel it is contrary to their set of beliefs).

      Nonetheless, aside from 9/11/01, and possibly even including it, Isn’t most terrorism the fruit of localized struggles? And concerning the Irgun, despite any apparent indications of religious motivations for its creation, its existence seemed to have hinged on numerous religious underpinnings ( however, I wouldn’t say I know a whole lot about the subject), which mainly consisted of a desire to form a Jewish or Hebrew State covering all of mandate palestine, which is more or less what Hamas seems to want to do, except with Islam instead of Judaism. Also, like Islam, Judaism and Christianity has produced a number of “its own” extremists individuals or groups whom profess strict adherence to their religion; from Anders Brevik to Yigal Amir, or christians bombing abortion clinics and Jewish settlers attempting to terrorize Palestinians in the West Bank. Yes, there have been numerous perpetrated under the name of Islam, but terrorisms itself belongs to no one group of people or ideology as both the secular and the devoutly religious have used it for their own purposes.


      Some Terrorism articles, Links and Stats

      “No One is Born A Terrorists, Jewish Free Press”

      “All terrorists are Muslims… Except the 94% that Aren’t” , loomwatch

      “Meet the Non-Muslim Terrorists”, Daily Kos

      “Analysis:” The Danger of Ignoring Non-Muslim Terrorists”, InteliNews

      “Claim that all terrorists are Muslim Ignores history”, The American Muslim

      “Terrorism Has No Religion”

        I think the sort of claims made by Craig largely just show his Islamist and anti-Jewish agenda and need no further response, but I did check one of his links given just above, the one called “All terrorists are Muslims … except the 94% that aren’t.” It purports to present the findings of an FBI report on “terrorist acts” in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005. Supposedly 94% of those acts were not by Muslims; 6% were, but 7% were by Jewish terrorists, and were even all done by these Jews for religious reasons, so it is implied that Jewish religiously inspired terrorism is really more of a threat to the American people than Muslim terrorism, while religiously inspired Muslim terrorism is next to no threat at all.

        Of course our readers will know that something must be out of kilter with these assertions. So I linked through to the actual FBI report. And I found that, 1, it does not break up terrorist acts in terms of the religious affiliation of their perpetrators, and does not specify the nature of the motivations of any group. The Jewish Defense League, responsible for all but one of the evidently Jewish acts of terror, is motivated by a desire, explicitly expressed, to fight against antisemitism and specific antisemites on behalf of the Jewish people; it is ethnically justified, not religiously. So the assertion about them in the Craig-linked article is incorrect. And 2, the FBI figures cover all so-called “terrorist acts,” counting as such those which merely involve vandalism of property (graffiti, etc.) and other property damage, including arson, along with those most of us would consider really serious terroristic acts involving injuries and death. The great majority of the “terrorist acts” listed over the period 1980-2005 had no casualties involved at all. They were just property damage. So saying that Muslim terrorism is only 6% of the terrorist threat to the U.S., less than Jewish, merely reflects these broad indiscriminate statistics, telling us very little of significance.

        But, 3, in fact the two worst acts of terror properly so-called (in any definition) against the U.S. in the list provided in the FBI report turn out to have been Muslim and they were explicitly religiously inspired; those were the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and the September 2001 airplane attacks in NYC and Washington, DC; between them, they killed 2,978 people and injured 13,042. No other terrorist acts came remotely close. In fact, all of the rest (even including other lesser Muslim terrorist acts) amounted to 200 killed and 995 injured, of which the Oklahoma bombing by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Clark in March 1995 accounted for 168 dead and 754 injured. Otherwise next to no people were injured or killed in terrorist acts in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005.

        So we find that Muslim religiously inspired terrorism was responsible for well over 99% of those killed, and of those injured, in all terrorist acts on American soil over those 15 years. And, another big difference with other terrorist acts including the Jewish ones is that the intended victims of the Muslim terrorist acts were the entire American people as such.

        Graig is falsifying the entire historical reality of Islamic terrorism, which as we all know is a terrible affliction in the majority of countries in the world, from the Philippines westward across Eurasia and Africa to the US, involving massive deaths not remotely paralleled by any other group.

          Well to begin with, I don’t think that terrorism is ever justified, whether it is supposedly “ethnically” justified or religiously justified. But, if you want to go that route, we could say that any pogrom against jews is ethnically justified by those who orchestrated it, or at least it seems to have been that way historically. Anyways, wasn’t the JDL organized by Rabbi Meir Kahane? Also, your concern about the reported incidents in the “94%” is addressed at the bottom of the article ( but really, just because one extremists group is more “successful” in their efforts does no negate the reprehensibility of acts of other groups who employ similar means, but on smaller scale). But, your point still ignores the fact that 94% of terrorism incidents in the U.S. over that period of time were not carried out by people with any ties to an “Islamic faith” or heritage, or that 87% of these incidents had no connection to Jews or Muslims. And indeed, the articles at the bottom of my original post says that Americans have a greater chance being killed by their TV falling on them then by a terrorists incident. Which has been my point all along. Terrorism, in the USA, seems to be very much overblown, and we seem to be giving it far more attention than it deserves.

          Seems that the deaths by Muslim terrorism of nearly 3,000 innocent people, and the wounding of 13,000, is in your eyes of little significance, our concern with it is “overblown,” and we should just ignore it. Boy, you really reveal yourself, Craig. Your comments are monstrous and openly and merely propagandistic. Talk about “justifying terrorism,” basically that is just what you yourself are doing.

          As I demonstrated in my previous post, the 94% figure is by a great majority property damage incidents, including just graffiti, wrongly in my own opinion put into the same category as terrorist atrocities that intentionally cause deaths and injuries. So it is a very misleading statistic and is largely meaningless. Over 99% of the victims injured or killed in terrorist violence in the U.S., were victims of jihadi Muslim terrorism, and this is the telling statistic that comes out of the FBI report even despite itself; these acts of terrorism were aimed unlike all those other incidents listed against the American people as such, constituting acts of outright war against the U.S.; and all of it was explicitly tied to Islamic faith and heritage as understood by the perpetrators.

          What is more, and even worse if possible, these actions have been viewed as gratifying and justified in mainstream Muslim communities in the Middle East and elsewhere, at the same time as they have been blamed on “Mossad” and the “CIA,” as underhanded “Jewish” and “Christian” ways to blacken Islam. There has been in short a refusal by Muslims to take responsibility for these atrocities, do some soul-searching, and repent for them, and no mainstream attempt to reexamine the roots of such violence in Islamic teachings themselves and to eliminate them, in the Muslim world generally. These are very serious matters, and very ominous for the future peace of the world. Your own posts provide further instances of these attitudes and are not at all reassuring.

          As for the Jewish Defense League, I was not “justifying” its actions, but simply indicating the fact that the article in question falsely described its motivations, yet another in the massive distortions in the entire piece.

          Now, who is falsifying things? The issue with the breakdown of the types of terrorism events was addressed in an second update at the bottom of the article ( or maybe a better word choice would have been After the article). Anyways, in the report itself, “Terrorists incidents” are defined as ” a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, in violation of the criminal laws of the United States, or of any state, to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” I don’t know why you are so fixated on outliers, or why you accuse my religion as having some cultural and/or religious root of violence, but yet you so blatantly defend violence by people with whom are culturally and/or religiously tied to Judaism ( however, I never said you were justifying these acts as I didn’t mention “you” until the sentence about the 94%). As you well know, opinions and opinion polls can be manipulated as well as statistics. But, I don’t see why you talk about statistics and lies, but you keep on bringing up this idea that 99% of all people who died on American soil between 1980- 2005 were muslim extremists. What would happen if you excluded September 11, 2001 from your data? Would your statement still be true? How much of a difference would that make? Your figure is derived from the events of one particular incident which you are trying to use to skew your results, but which only serves to prove my point that terrorism in the USA of any type is statistically/ historically not that common, and all vitriol and name calling isn’t going to change that reality. But, while you bring up 9/11. one must wonder how many innocent/ non “combatant muslims” have died at the hand of Zionists and the State of Israel, and/or the United States. How many muslim women and children have died in the U.S. war against Iraq? And how many children have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, or Yemen? Or, how many palestinians/ Arabs/ Muslim civilians have died at the hands of Israel’s army? Are these numbers equal to your ( or our) own suffering? Could not the famous words of Shylock the Jew be uttered by a Palestinian ( or one of Israel’s many Muslim neighbors) and still be true?:

          If you prick us, do we not bleed?
          if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
          us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
          revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
          resemble you in that. If a Muslim wrong a Jew
          what is his humility? Revenge. If a Jew
          wrong a Muslim, what should his sufferance be by
          Jewish example? Why, revenge. The villany you
          teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
          will better the instruction.

          “Merchant of Venice” Act 3. Scene 1.

          To Mark Twain’s appropriate comments (since you no longer dwell on the statistics that are so embarrassing to you when readjusted only his first two characterisations apply to your present answer) I must now add non-sequiturs, irrelevancies, and red herrings. Pathetic. And, I lament only too typically for a Muslim (I mentioned above the tendency among too many Muslims never to take responsibility for their own faults and seek to correct them), your response attempts to blame the victims for the evil perpetrated against them, with truly outrageous and lying attempts to justify terrorism against Jews.

          But I cannot pass up the opening you give me to point out that relatively very very few “Palestinian/Arab/Muslim civilians” have died in conflicts with Israel. The low casualties are a tremendous testimony to the unequalled moral restraint accepted as a matter of course by the IDF. I am really proud of it. Arab armies have exactly nothing to compare with it, and do not really even try: they make a point of warring against entire civilian populations, even if it is their own people, as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and nowadays notably Syria.

          This fundamental concern for life has been noted by the world’s leading experts in counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency warfare. For example, Col. Richard Kemp, CBE, former Commander of British forces in Afghanistan, and also commander of troops in Northern Ireland and the Iraq war and one of the foremost experts in the world on counter-terrorism problems, informed an UN Human Rights Council inquiry into the 2009 Gaza war that “Mr President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”  His statement to the UN HRC can be seen and heard at

          Retired Major General Jim Molan, American Chief of Operations of Allied forces in the Iraq war during 2004-2005, and who monitored the Gaza conflict closely, strongly agreed in public addresses and articles after the Gaza conflict. See for example his “UN’s bias binds Gaza,” The Australian, October 2, 2009, at,25197,26152548-7583.html.

          Rather than add other testimonies by experts familiar with these conflicts, let me turn to the Muslim record. The first victims of Muslim terrorism have always been other Muslims, especially since it requires what Hamas proudly calls a “religion of death” rather than of life, with all that implies for anguish and internal social relations. Here are the actual figures:  in all conflicts since 1950, about 11 million Muslims have been killed in warfare, of which a miniscule percentage, just 35,000, or 0.3 percent, were killed fighting Israel.  About 90 percent of the 11 million, on the other hand, were killed by other Muslims.  See, on this, Gunnar Heinsohn and Daniel Pipes, “Arab-Israeli Fatalities Rank 49th,” for October 8, 2007, at For a country-by-country breakdown of the figures for Arabs killing other Arabs, that is, focusing chiefly on the Middle East, see “Muslims Killing Muslims – YouTube,” at

          Even al-Qaida shows the same thing: Yassin Musharbash, “Surprising Study on Terrorism: Al-Qaida kills eight times more Muslims than non-Muslims,” at

          Wait, you think I am Muslim? Hah, that is rich. Your willful ignorance is astounding. But speaking of fallacious arguments, within the course of our discussion you have questioned my motives, asserted that I must have some kind of Islamists or Anti-Jewish agenda, accused me of being a liar, or somehow falsifying or manipulating one of my sources and then you created a straw man by ignoring my arguments and then attacking a conclusion of one of my sources ( but even those assertions were shown to be misleading.) After that, you attacked the very nature of statistics, ( by using a thought-terminating cliche) while relentlessly reaffirming one statistic and denying any context of which it should be placed in. And when I asked you to consider whether or not the plight ( or treatment) of the Jews in Medieval Europe, as expressed in the Shakespearian quote, could be related to the current situation with the Palestinians, you say that isn’t relevant, or that it is some kind of red herring ( although it is still related to the topic of the cycle of terrorism in the Middle East while aphorisms about statistics are not.)

          However, one can not necessarily conclude that because there were deaths in a country that has a majority muslim population that those deaths were a) muslims, or B) caused by other muslims. There are, or were, many Christian and Jews living in the the Near East and Mesopotamia at that time, or that these wars/ deaths were religiously motivated. Also, it seems that gathering a huge sample size simply for the purpose of making the deaths of particular group seem insignificant is fairly dubious scholarship. It kind of like say, ” I ate 50 pizzas this month, but there were 50,000,000 pizza sold around the world, so I really didn’t eat that much pizza.”
          Anyways, it might serve us better to compare the number of statistics of Palestinians verse Israeli’s, and to look at comparative average number of American deaths, as well as deaths of American in the MIddle East and verse civilian deaths.

          Total Casualties, 1920- 2012, Jewish Virtual Library.

          United Nations Office for the Coordination for Human Affairs Comparative Deaths after 2000, (

          Israeli’s And Palestinians Killed since 9/29/2000, IfAmericaKnew

          Some B’TSELEM statistics,

          Palestinian Minors in Custody ( 2008-12),
          Punitive House Demolitions ( 2001- 04),
          Land Expropriation of East Jerusalem 68-91), Revocation of Residency in East Jerusalem ( 1967-2012)
          Gap in Water Consumption between Israelis And Palestinians,

          Comparative Deaths between 1987-2012,

          Gaza Abacus, (comparative figures for latest Pillar of Cloud Offensive)

          The GoldStone Report: Something of a A Change of Heart, Economists

          The GoldStone Report and Israel Criminality, Mondoweiss,

          U.N Resolutions against Israel, Dark Politics

          Odd of American being killed by Terrorist.

          Lies, Damned Lies, and Anomalies,

          Terrorism and The Fear Market

          Terrorists Caused Death vs. “Reality”.

          The Real Threat to American

          Anti- Terrorism Spending 50,000 times greater than any other cause of death.


          War on Terror Deaths

          The War on Terror In Numbers

          ( larger comparison of U.S. and Middle Eastern casualiteis)

          U.S. Drone Strike Numbers

          Red herring after red herring. Why not include some pasta recipes? At least there would be some benefit from it, and it goes with red herrings.

          I don’t see how attempting to establish the falsehood of any of your claims is tantamount to ignorance of the nature of refutation ( Ignoratio Elenchi,), when the nature of refutation is to prove a statement is false. My initial point was that other faiths have members who have died for their faith and that the article ignores that “Jihad” has broad applications. However, I your first reply came after I expanded my position by stating my point is that, regardless of motive or justification, “not all terrorists are muslim. ” However, it is true that our conversation has deviated from this point as consequence of your irrelevant contentions about the number of people who have died as a result of terrorism. Nonetheless, one could plausibly infer from some of my sources about Israel and Palestine that a primarily non-muslim entity enacted violence, or terror on muslim and christian populations.

          Additionally, I have provided support for my claim that the focus on terrorism as a matter of policy is disproportional to its rate of occurrence. Thus, why it is true that your argument have been successful in diverting us from the main point at hand, they have not, as of yet, established the falsehood, or refutation, of my claims.

          I did read the article, but apparently not very closely. I guess I was fooled by the ambiguous use of the word ” Palestine”in the heading, as “Palestine” in 1920 was different than what it means now, yet, “Palestinian Christian” can apply to Christians in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Nonetheless, the Christian community has been in decline in Israel as well ( ; ) But anyways, their Numbers have increased ( partially due to a large influx of Immigrants and foreign workers), but their Percentage as part of the population has declined( due mostly to emigration and lower birth rates). But, it is hard to blame Christianity’s decline in the West Bank and Gaza entirely on the PA and Muslim society, when Israel exercises total military control onto and around these communities.

          Your article citation is, for a change, of some real value. However, it does not change what I wrote. At Israel’s founding, Christians were 1.7% of her population, according to her census report for 1948. Today, they are 2.1% according to her census. So that means that the Christian population in Israel is the only one that has actually grown in percentage since 1950 in the entire Middle East. All other states report a drastic, major decline. In a few states, there are practically no Christians left at all.

          I am not sure if we can conclude that Israel Policy has no effect on Palestinian Christians decisions to emigrate simply because the rate emmigration of their Muslim neighbors differs from their own. Either population could likely have their own reasons for staying or for leaving. Christian populations are generally more urban and they are, or were, generally more educated resulting in a greater number of skilled laborers ( see socio- economic profile) ; These factors make it easier for Christians to emigrate to other places. So, although their incomes are often higher than their muslim neighbors, it is conceivable that they could be disillusioned by an economy that has stagnated seemingly in large part due to Israel’s occupation ( , and/ or despair from decades of war.

          But, I know that this can be a contentious issue, which was most recently brought to the forefront by the CBS 60 Minutes special on Palestinian Christians and with subsequent response from Israel and the Israel Ambassador to the US. However, here are some remarks from some Palestinians/ Arabs concerning the issue.

          Brief note: Shylock was not a real Jew, but a figment of Shakespeare’s imagination. Revenge or acts of violence against those around them has not been in any shape or form characteristic of Jews in the past two thousand years. There have been no suicide bombings, no terrorist attacks against Christian populations in Christian countries or Muslim populations in Muslim countries, over all that time. Judaism, unlike Islam, really is a religion of peace.

          Actually, I hear that many scholars believe that Shakespeare took most of his ideas from The Jew of Malta. Now I want to believe you second claim, but I think it is statically impossible for you to be aware of all of the business dealing of Jews throughout time. However, you are correct that such a proposition does seem quite ludicrous. Anyways, I don’t think he ever presented the story as if it was fiction, and while I was not sure if Shakespeare was intentionally trying to slander the Jews or if his story merely represents a commonly held belief system at the time. But alas, I do admit, I am not aware of his own attitudes toward Jews, or if he even had any Jewish acquaintances ( weren’t they pretty much expelled from England by that time?). But, concerning your statement about the absolute goodwill of Jews throughout history, I will have to differ (but that is not to say there has not been any good Jews) . To begin with, Christian populations in Israel are steadily declining ( of course this isn’t completely Israel’s fault and it is part of a broader trend in the middle east– But, Israel has expelled thousands of Palestinians, many of whom are Christians ( And they have attacked numerous Christian and Muslim villages (, but in particular the sieges of Beit Sahour and Beit Jala seem to come to mind. Also, while I understand that there were a large number of suicide bombers that were coming from Jenin during the second intifada, I am still not sure that razing the whole refuge camp was such a great idea; it seems like it would have created more terrorists, or anti-semitic feelings toward Jews. Heck, I have even heard that Israel purposely bombed synagogues in Iraq in order to compel Jews to come live in Israel ( but that story is hard to validate).

          Nonetheless, simply because I am aware of these things does no mean I hate Jews.

        Habbgun says:

        You’ve got an odd argumentative style. It reminds me of those who used statistics to show the Soviet Union was providing equal quality of life as to that in the West. Eliminate the main thrust that there is a 400 pound gorilla in the room Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc…etc….and on and on. Then throw up your hands and say all I want is for everyone to come together in peace but by the way I have statistics showing that the big fat gorilla is not there at all but is really a baby hamster. The same thing was done for years in the university system as Old Fart Communists found problems in American life and then used Soviet statistics to say they had less problems in that area and that lesser services, good , etc. were equivalent. Some were even arguing the USSR was a success. Always statistics and always EQUIVALENCIES…..if your argument is one of equivalence not explanation you are usually a propagandist.

          First you want to focus on numbers, excluding 9/11/2001, but when those don’t seem to work in your favor you decide to resort to using ad hominem arguments. However, if the whole world is a jungle than, in order to survive, shouldn’t we be concerned with all its dangers ( large and small) rather than focusing on a single aspect of it? But really, gorillas? Elephants are far more dangerous, and territorial. I definitely wouldn’t want to run across an elephant.

          Habbgun says:

          It is not an ad hominem attack. It is merely explaining a certain type of methodology of argument which was used by totalitarian sympathizers to support totalitarian and dysfunctional governments. If such a style can clearly be used to hide a clear truth (the USSR was a bloody, dismal failure) it can be used to hide truth when it comes to terror. If you want people to change their minds don’t use a propagandists method.

          Sorry, I am not very familiar with statistical equivalencies or the manner in which the Soviet Union defended it’s economic policies. However, my methods of reasoning have nothing to do with the argument at hand. Attacking my argument style as “odd” or saying it is just some old communist trick, signals that you have completely given up on trying formulate a reasonable counter argument and that you would rather try to discredit my argument by attacking me.To do this, you essentially constructed a fallacious Reductio ad Hitlerum argument, (, except you chose to use the Communism instead.

    Jews have been disproportionately involved in terrorism since at least as far back as the 1870s. If any religion/culture should be equated with terrorism, it should be Judaism, Yiddish culture, and Yiddishkeit.

      Yiddish Jews are a very special case. They were intrinsically part of the extractive and exploitative elite of the Polish commonwealth. After Poland became the first modern failed state and was divided between the Hohenzollern, Hapsburg, and Romanov Empires, Yiddish Jews became an extremely angry disenfranchised former elite that routinely engaged in financial crime and violence — especially in the Czarist Empire where Yiddish Jews were unable to reclaim some of their status by acting as native collaborators.

        Jews had a hand or were the major perpetrators in the three defining assassinations of the Czarist Empire:

        Alexander II

        Pyotr Stolypin

        Nicholas II (and family).

        If one wants to get into comparing terrorism, mass murder, and genocide, by relative and absolute numbers Jews almost certainly come out on top. If we create a category of financial terrorism that causes impoverishment, starvation, and death, German & Yiddish Jews probably count as the worst Tätervolk ever known to the world.

        Before bigoted and prejudiced apologists for Jewish behavior start their usual rant about anti-Semitism, it is worthwhile to note that it is quite easy to dig up complaints from Sephardic, Italian, Tatar Karaite Jews and other non-Ashkenazi or non-Yiddish communities about vicious, rapacious, and unethical business practices or financial predation by German and Yiddish Jews.

        Are those non-Ashkenazi and non-German Jewish critics of German or Yiddish Jewish economic behavior anti-Semites?,7340,L-3342999,00.html

    A truly devastating and deeply depressing account of Islamic teachings about jihad, and of the actual history of it, involving a very readable survey of the subject of 100 pages, 125 pages more reproducing mainstream Muslim sources dealing with jihad, early, medieval, and late, going up to present day publications by leading jihadi Islamists, plus 100 pages of “Muslim and non-Muslim Chronicles and Eyewitness Accounts of Jihad Campaigns,” and 24 authoritative scholarly articles on particular issues over a further 320 pages, can be read in Andrew G. Bostom, ed., The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims (2005). If only one book is read or purchased on the subject, this should be the one: it is a definitive treatment. Just the bibliography alone is 25 closely printed pages, and it will direct you to further reading. It is a unrelieved and painful chronicle of centuries-long unprovoked aggression and extreme cruelty, suffering and injustice.

      I am sure it is a fascinating read. I might have to look into it. But, nonetheless, I imagine there are numerous other people, organizations, and books devoted to exposing atrocities committed by various other religious, secular, paramilitary, or governmental entities. Some of which are employed in honest endeavors to establish a truthful rendering of history while others may intentionally misconstrue history ( or try to recreate history) and possibly even use quotes out of context, for the purpose of maligning, or denigrating a group of people, or class of peoples.

Modern Jewish and Christian understanding of Biblical texts is often tremendously anachronistic. We should probably look to contemporary literature of the Persian imperial and Greco-Roman periods to understand the Akeidah or the Adha.

The Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament incorporate or retain a vestige of the Sacrificial King myth in the accounts of the Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. Studying these Biblical stories in parallel with the Greek myth of Athamas, Nephele and Ino helps to elucidate the underlying mythological substratum of the Jewish and Christian Bibles and its application to questions of the covenantal and royal legacy that the Maccabees seized by force.

From the standpoint of mythological analysis, Abraham of the Bible and Athamas of the Greek myths are married to the triple goddess in disguise. The Biblical triple goddess consists of Sarah, Hagar, and Keturah. Traditional Jewish midrash (exegesis) tries to explain Keturah away as Hagar under another name. The Greek triple goddess consists of Ino and Nephele, who are the wives of Athamas, and Helle, who is the daughter of Athamas and Nephele. The Greek Athamas is an obvious variant of Adam, but Adam in the ancient Canaanite myths is also the Red Man (Edom) of Hebron, who is replaced in the Bible by Abraham. Abraham is originally the high father Av Ram but is also Av Raham or Av Rahab (by a pun or labial consonant transformation as sometimes occurs in Semitic languages and even in English in the case of the word husband).

Av Rahab is the father of the Sea Monster or Poseidon. Worship of Poseidon at inland Hebron seems unlikely, but the ancient glass industry at Hebron was explained by Phoenician settlers or immigrants. If Biblical Abraham or mythic Athamas is associated with Poseidon, at least one of his wives should be a sea goddess or nymph, and indeed Ino is transformed into the sea goddess, Leukothea (White Goddess). In Greek mythology, sea goddesses and nymphs are associated with laughter or mirth probably because sailors often perceive dolphins as laughing. Sarah is Abraham’s wife, who laughs when the birth of Isaac is promised. Nephele (cloud), who bears an heir, and Helle (spark?), who is driven to flight, act in some ways like Hagar while the name Nephele is associated with the meaning of Keturah (incense).

Nephele is the mother of Phrixos (thrilling, causing shivers) just as Hagar is the mother of Ismael, a wild-onager of a man.

In order to guarantee that her sons Leachos and Melicertes will inherit their father’s kingdom, Ino bribes an oracle to tell Athamas that Phrixos and Helle must be sacrificed to save the Athamas’ kingdom from famine.

Just at the moment that Athamas is about to sacrifice Phrixos, a magical golden ram appears to rescue him. Phrixos and Helle climb onto the back of the ram, who flies them toward the east. Helle falls off and drowns while flying over the straights now called Hellespont after her. The ram lands with Phrixos in Aea where Phrixos sacrifices the ram to thank Zeus for his rescue. Phrixos gives the golden fleece to Aeetes the King of Aea. The ram undergoes an apotheosis to become the constellation Aries.

In some sense the Greek version is closer to the common Islamic interpretation that Abraham nearly sacrifices Ismael (the Adha) and not Isaac (the Akeidah) as the Bible describes, but the identity of the near victim is not so important as the idea of associating the transfer of the Abrahamic covenant with the near sacrifice that sanctifies the near victim and his descendants.

[In the pure version of the triple Goddess or White Goddess, the divine king, the consort of the White Goddess, or the high father is sacrificed when his son born by White Goddess reaches majority at the end of the Metonic Cycle which is built into the Jewish and other Lunar-Solar Calendars. In later variants the son is sacrificed as a tanist for the father and becomes the father.]

The issue of the transfer of the covenant (or in the original mythic terms divinity) became important in Judea as the decadent and brutal Hasmonean heirs were supplanted by the even more brutal and corrupt Herodian dynasty.

The Hasmoneans were basically usurpers, but they could claim a Judean and priestly heritage. The Herodians were usurpers of usurpers and traced their origins to the pagan priests of Idumea. As the Judean kingdom collapses in tyranny, its peoples reinterpret the idea of the Covenant of Israel and begin to look for a more personal salvation in lieu of the failed experiment in national political salvation.

The Biblical concept of the suffering servant (or “son”) was an important source of comfort during the crises and oppression of Herodian Judea. The suffering servant lives according to the Law and loves God even as he suffers under unbearable and unjust burdens (to the point of sacrifice). Yet the suffering people of Israel could hope that they would receive God’s ultimate mercy in the same way that God anointed the Persian Cyrus Messiah to restore the exiled remnant of Israel to the Land of Israel or in the same way that God favored Joseph, who was sold into slavery, then rose to the pinnacle of power in Egypt, and in the end saved Israel and the Children of Israel.

For much of the population of Greco-Roman Palestine, the apocalypse and destruction of the 1st and 2nd centuries CE represented a recapitulation of the conquest and apocalypse of the Southern Kingdom and the destruction of the First Temple as described in scripture. In the aftermath of the devastation and as real memory of the Persian imperial period faded, many among the population of Palestine began to analogize themselves with the scriptural depiction of the post-apocalyptic Judahite “surviving remnant” that returned to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian Captivity not as haughty rulers but as humble aspirants to holiness and began to develop a new “surviving remnant” theology that quickly split into three separate currents defined by three very different (often political-economic) understandings of Jesus.

It seems that the essence of Levenson’s claim of “error” on the part of non-Jews is an error of his own making: His assumption that Abraham is complete, not the beginning of a developing, understanding of the revelations of God. The fact that Abraham was not a monotheist has no relevancy …. neither was Moses. Abraham was the one who accepted the challenge that God laid at the feet of Adam, but he was the first to do so, not the final…. Fathers sire sons and daughters, not cloned representations of themselves. They are not sculptors. Did the father of Albert Einstein know of his son’s impending Theory of Relativity ? The development that Christianity represents in the Abrahamic chain cannot be dismissed simply because Jewish inheritors of Abraham have arrived at a differing interpretation of Abraham. Christians cannot invent their own Abraham, certainly, but Paul’s dichotomy means that Paul was human, nothing more. Perfection cannot be ascribed to Paul or Peter any more than it can to Abraham. Abram belongs to both and he does represent the universality and worth of all humanity in the eyes of God.

    Christians have to ask the Jews to use their belief and founding fathers for themselves too! The old testimony is Jewish treasure, asset and virtue.

alan borky says:

Most if not all the apparent conflict in debates like this vanish the moment you take the position the history of religions even from before the time of the Sumerians is the record of a constantly renewed and updated revelation which assumes or adopts characteristics according to the cultures/traditions it newly manifests itself in.

Problems result though from individual members of a particular revelation try’n’o hold onto aspects of a previous revelation/tradition eg Muhammed’s own desire to subsume into Islam as angels the Three Sisters he’d worshipped from childhood led to the Devil’s Verses.

Other problems result from members of an earlier revelation try’n’o crush a newer revelation before it can fully emerge or from members of a newer revelation try’n’o suppress or even extinguish an earlier revelation.

Even when Zoroaster denounces previous revelations as unholy or Hindus denounce Buddha’s revelation as heretical all they’re really saying to their followers/users in the technical language of the day’s the equivalent of Web.2 developers stating while it might work with Web.1 it’s not strictly intended to be completely compatible with it and ultimately Web.1’ll gradually be phased out to enable Web.3 to emerge by which time Web.1 will’ve become so redundant it’ll probably only be able to function in specially created online environments.

Pip Pop says:

I always part enjoy and part die inside at the pomposity of opinion on such matters as our ‘ancient comic book characters’. This is all you’re dealing with here… crappy little fictional stories, about poorly written and morally dubious fruitcakes who are unlikely to of existed in any form that we recognize or are referred to today — if at all. So my question is… why? Why are you all so preoccupied with this intellectual mulch? Why spend so much time talking about, essentially, nothing but stale air? Until further notice, there is no god. Now move along and find something productive to talk about.

    Reiner Torheit says:

    >> Why are you all so preoccupied with this intellectual mulch? <<

    It gives the pseudo-religious the ammunition that fuels their hatreds.

    So, someone lived 2000 years ago? Big deal. Let's move on from this garbage.

dylanatstrumble says:

I have always failed to understand the attraction of Abraham, one of the more dysfunctional characters in the bible. He has an affair with his maid, is quite prepared to kill his own son and then throws the maid and his son out of the house. Sounds pretty awful to me, such behaviour today would undoubtedly have him pilloried rather than revered!

Jihad doesn’t mean holy war. It means to struggle or to strive for something, which in this context means to struggle to stay on the righteous path. The whole jihad = holy war notion is false. And terrorism has no religious connotations. It occurs for the same reasons it occurs everywhere else, for political reasons. So levenson’s whole thesis about jihad and the sacrifice is wrong right from the start.

jesus said that salvation come from the Jews and that he did not come to change one bit of the Tanakh

only two groups for Paul: gentiles and jews. gentiles are able to participate, as a result of Messiah son of Joseph, in the covenant of righteousness and relationship with God – a free gift as it was for Abraham – and which is amply hinted at and foretold in the Tanakh.

but the natural covenants and promises to israel/jacob/jews still stand eg tikkun olam, 1948, 1967, global diasporah and aliyah, IDF, blooming desert etc. this covenant with israel/jacob is and will be the major source of glory for god – as an undeniable confirmation of his prophecies. and will eventually be enforced by Messiah son of David.

the covenant is also spiritual: the majority of the early church including jesus, the writers of the new testament, and paul, were jewish. even in the “time of the gentiles” the % of jews who now receive jesus as the messiah is probably similar to the % of jews in the overall world population. and then zechariah in his last days visions foretells that they will look on “me whom they have pierced” “in the house of my friends” and will “mourn for him”.

Romans 9, 10 and 11 best sums it up and is also best weapon against anti-semitism and anti-zionism – written by a halachic Jew (and “more” so than any today since they still had the temple).

Rom 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not!

vladdrakul says:

Kavana; ”In Christianity, the concept of holy war is an oxymoron…Only under Islamic pressure in the Middle Ages did the concept of crusade
arise, in response to and imitation of jihad. ”

Absolute rubbish. A real blood libel. Your implication that violence and
oppression were forced on the poor christians in the MIddle East is just
backwards a historical rubbish. And viley fits right in with views so distorted by hate and fear that we have rightwing Jews hobnobbing with openly racsit rightwing Europeans politicians, including many who would have gladly helped the holocaust along. Disgusting. SO they hate arabs even more right now that there are more of them in Europe than Jews.

It may not have escaped your attention but ‘christianity’ as a social organised state is the work of the emporer Constantine and his interest in creating christianity had nothing to do with peace and EVERYTHING with strengtheneing and uniting the morals of a degenerated empire. To give it back its unified capacity for violence in the name of Empire,

This continued under the Byzantines who cemented the Caeser as Pope concept of Caesero papism. Who do you think put in the line about; ‘give unto Caeser; that which is Caesers or the phrase that Jesus will return with a sword.

If you want to read a god Jewish account of the real Christ read Macabees *Revolution in Judea’ Jeus as a jewish rabbi. Which clearly shows that there is a
real hsitorical Jesus under the editing and rewrites; the gentle Jesus of whom the
sources give many differant versions of the same story.

Where as the added propaganda not only clearly undermines the clear basic character of Jesus the forgiver and gentle lover of humanity; with the phrases and narrowed texts demanded by Constanine as he; literally from the balcony in Nicea
(325 AD) created a religion of Empire propaganda.

As always today the emphasis is unhistorical revisionism to suit present day prejudices and political needs.In fact as far as tolerance goes; Islams history is one of general tolerance vs the genocidal hatred spread in the name of Chritianity
abusing the life a truelly loving and gentle Jesus. The collapse of the Byzantines in North Africa and the ME when Islam started was the direct result of Islamic tolerance and light rule; so strong many christian communities settled in Islamic lands to escape extermination or the brutal treatment and taxation from the hands of the intolerant Catholics and Orthodox,

The Cathers; the Abligensians; the Coptics, the Nestorians, the Arians, etc etc etc!!!Btw My background is Church of England but with a burning interest in all 3 abrahamic faiths (just so I don’t get misunderstood)!

farang says:

Interesting example of a long-winded rationalization of a myth: “Abram” (not “Abraham”, that name came later, to cover tracks…) “Sarah” , his ancient, barren wife, and his “handmaiden Haggar” able to create new life/sustain life, are metaphors.

Last year, around May or June (in msm articles no less) came a detailed study from India, of the ancient Sarasvati River valley culture that had to migrate out of this valley they inhabited, @ 1800 BC, because of a very severe drought. They migrated first to a tributary of the Sarasvati River: The Ghaggar.

These people were Brahma worshipers. Their priests known as Brahmins. Sarah or Sarai, “barren and old” is a metaphor for the dried up river. “Haggar”, able to bare a child for Abram, is the new location migrated to: The Ghaggar river. Abram was just one of thousands of Brahmins spreading the Vedic/Hindu culture east and west, to Egypt, to Laos.

Further, they have in Vedic/Hindu culture what is known as “Puranic” myths, tales of the “battles between the gods and goddesses” for status/hierarchy.

The so-called “Purim” Jewish religious holiday, featuring “Esther” (Istar/Astarte, the Queen of Heaven/Mother goddess) “Mordecai” (Marduk, the Babylonian Sun god, acquired while enslaved in Babylon for 400+ years) and “Haman” (Haruman, the Vedic Monkey god), in which “Esther replaces a queen of “Mordecai” named Vashti (Vach, the eastern vedic Queen of heaven/Mother Goddess, aka Sarasvati) is a perfect example of the Vedic Puranic mythological tales.

Myth. As in not to be taken literally.

Which is why, the only temple ever located in today’s Jerusalem (not the original, btw) was found a cartouche of Amenhotep III (the great, but not biblical Solomon, there were dozens of Sun & Moon kings, Ramses II being the biblical “Solomon”) and his wife Tiye, along with an alter to the “Queen of heaven”: Istar. Wife of Tae Sheba.

A statue (Amarma Letters) of her was sent (twice) by Amenhotep III’s “brother king” Tushratta of Mittani stating “She is my Mistress, I hope She is your mistress too…” making her the real Queen of (Tae) Shea that visited king “Solomon” in Jerusalem. Sheba, as the noted (by Wikipedia) “ardent Zionist Velokovsky” pointed out: Sheba was a person, not a place.

Judae, the seemingly forgotten but much more prominent Jewsih “kingdom” was in fact northern Egyptian Delta Idj-Tawy. The 18th dynasty in particular, had a hieroglyph of a scarab beetle as their golden Horus throne name: “Kheperu”, silent K according to Velikovsky. Heperu. And, interestingly enough, the 4th king of “Israel” the high priest Hezekiah, also had a symbol, impressed upon on clay bullae, of this very same hieroglyph, the scarab beetle, as a symbol of Hebrew. Hebrew/Heperu. And his clay bullae also had another symbol: The Aten. An “aspect” of Ra/Re/ RAMA.

The Vedic Sun King.

    Tzur says:

    A bizarre attempt at undercutting the Biblical text, but not unprecedented: some of the first European Enlightenment period anti-religious writers made exactly the same highly superficial analogies, based simply on a vague similarity of names; the aim was to make the Biblical authors liars and mythologues, even childishly foolish ones, but the result was rather to make the debunkers liars and mythologues, even childishly foolish ones. The claims could only be made on the basis of next to no knowledge of ancient Near Eastern cultures, let alone Biblical ones. Nevertheless, the absurdly strained parallels even made their way into the Encycopedia Voltaire, Diderot and others drew up as a vade mecum for the Enlightenment. But superficiality invites its own demise. After the inevitable annihilation of the philology, historical issues, etc., of the claims, which was laid out in scholarly discussions even in the late Eighteenth century, all that is left is just the bare bias, without excuse.

“…by inventing their own Abrahams to serve their own doctrinal purposes” But that is exactly what Judaism did. He most certainly is the same Abraham as he is used in the exact same way.

Does it matter. Abraham was a mental case. All that scholarship wasted. Paul made his own arrangement for his authority. “Please God do not make me do it” Oh alright! if you insist. Sheesh

RORI says:

“So, it is clear that Levenson’s new book will be resented in liberal religious circles. What it won’t be, however, is easily refuted.”

Yes, it can be easily refuted.

First of all, the centerpiece of Judaism, the Torah, does not mention jews or judaism even once. Thus the centerpiece of Judaism must then be the Talmud where all the Levenson doctrine of the “Abraham belongs to the jews and judaism” must come from. Judaism is a more recent religion that was required and created after the Davidic kingdom split and subsequently after the Babylonian.captivity and the first destruction of the temple. It was further developed as a reaction to Christianity by Akiva and then later further developed by Maimonides. In its present form, judaism, is quite different from the faith practiced by Abraham and the patriarchs hence the plural number of rival interpretations that didn’t survive the passage of time such as that of the Sadducees, Essenes, Karaites, Nazarenes, etc. Most followers of judaism today don’t even read Torah because if they did they would find compelling evidence that the promises are for Israel (twelve tribes) not exclusively for Jews or Judaism. If they were to read the Tanach instead of focusing just on Talmud and commentary they would realize that the reunification of Ephraim and Judah will occur in the Messianic kingdom (Ezekiel 37) and that it hasn’t happened yet. They would also find compelling evidence that Ephraim is gentile today.

Christians don’t claim exclusivity to the faith of Abraham. In Abraham all nations are to be blessed. .In Christianity, jews or gentiles need to be born of the spirit, or born again to become children of Abraham through the “seed of the woman.”. The seed of the woman is that which has perpetual enmity with the seed of the serpent. Those of the seed of the woman do the works of faith of Abraham and the patriarchs, You can be seed of Abraham after the flesh but still do the evil deeds of the seed of the serpent. Thus both jews and gentiles need to be born again. The covenant at Mt. Sinai was done with Israelites, that is with the twelve tribes (and many egyptians). The covenant was renewed in Shavuot with the pouring of the shekinah in the upper room per Acts of the apostles. 3000 people died at Mt. Sinai and 3000 people from the twelve tribes came to the faith on Shavuot after the preaching from Simon (Kefas-Peter).. Christians believe salvation comes from the Jews, more succinctly from Yeshua and his jewish disciples, not from judaism.

Islam, has twisted both judaism and christianity. It substituted Ishmael for Isaac and it has taken exclusively apocryphal writings about Yeshua and Myriam as a foundation to create an entirely new religion. However, many who subscribe to this new religion are children of Abraham through Ishmael and heirs of many blessings as well.

In conclusion, Abraham is not exclusively Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Abraham is the father of all nations that descend from Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob (Israel).

RORI says:

As Paula Frederiksen puts it, “Pagans-in-Christ are also from Abraham’s lineage, since Abraham was the father of many nations (Gen. 17:4; Rom. 4:17); but they descend from Abraham alone, not also from Isaac and Jacob.”
Sorry, Ms. Frederiksen but you are incorrect per Genesis 48:19 And his father (Jacob) refused, and said, I know it, my son (Joseph), I know it: he (Manasseh) also shall become a people, and he (Manasseh) also shall be great: but truly his younger brother (Ephraim) shall be greater than he (Manasseh), and his seed (Ephraim’s) shall become a multitude of nations (goy goy).

Guest says:

Muslims are not insulting you then why you insult them?
Doesn’t it prove something?

Guest says:

Muslims are not insulting anyone then why you insult them Mr Maimonides?
Doesn’t it prove something? Do your proper research first.

Munir Ahmed Khalili says:

Perhaps the question may sound a bit irrelevant, but just to know I would like in the total population of the Jews all over the world how many number there to be really from the linage of Ibrahim? Are the Israeli Jews his real children or who enjoy power, wealth, influence in the USA?

We have Tons of work to do. I actually invented moment of silence when I was in elementary school The Lords Prayer. The term Politico The term Poetic Justice and many other things. They put me on the Bomb squad in the 1st grade made me the mascot of the cheerleaders dressed me like the cheerleaders in the 1st grade. We had no choices in the 1st grade that followed us in life. I received a special award a purple trimmed in gold My Old fashioned oil lamp shaped like if you rubbed it a wise genie would pop out. It was the Olympic Winter Sports we remain to use. The Girl Scouts Preparing us to carry our ethics morals Learning who we could trust and who we could not. Those remaining few Baby Boomers date of birth 1945-1955 carried the greatest weight upon our shoulders. If our Dads served in the military as officers then became our Electrical Design Engineers of our defense projects our cousins like my James Lewis Barbour Jr Port Tobacco 1st navy medic 2nd USA National Parks 3rd like forever in the State department My female cousin FBI that out lived J.Ed.Hoover long enough to retire set good examples. My cousin Judy Bolton Rh. Figure ICE skating champ of the state of Texas gave it up to get married to a petroleum engineer have 2 children & grandchildren. Those 3years of boring law school as the token female with the federal justice department investigators were dubbed the Southeastern Police Academy. They know to keep tabs on my USA Post Office My Fedx my UPS MY PC. I did via the Saudi Embassy in DC manage to get my 2 girls to the London UK Olympics it did not matter how well they did only a moment in the girls team history books. The Saudi’s also have a law office in their nation that is also a group of The Girls Team. So many Random #s of moments in our lives few too many good ones yet they remain to guide us. I was concerned my national international patent trademark & copyright TigerLadyUsaInc File#10045 Dr.Coppedge delivered me in. Colors purple/gold=lawschool

Brian says:

While the discussion here has gotten too far for me to comment on, I will say that the article itself was interesting to, and I’m curious about the book — at least the take on Jewish & Christian views on Abraham (the Islamic views seem oddly presented, if the article’s rendition of them are correct).

Personally, my own interest is theological AND by covenant. Patrilineally, I’m Samaritan Kohain from the that small part of the Byzantine diaspora that remained in Europe after 529, but my ancestors ended up intermarrying into the Ashkenazi population around stints of Gnosticism, Catholicism, and then Calvinism, and back to Catholicism for me and my recent generations in the US. I’m studying up on the two Israelite Written Torahs and Halakhah*, but haven’t gotten as far enough to understand as much of the different Oral Torah or Rabbinical positions to understand all the points made in the articles. Nevertheless, it’s curious to watch the historical development, especially looking at how the Catholic position has morphed (in comparison to the Protestant position).

[*I have no actual plans to convert or anything, being devout in my Catholicism, but I’m a theologian by nature and have a serious Father-focus to my Trinitarian background from growing up in a Jewish neighborhood — my family’s the local shobbos goy — that led me to want to understand my ancestry and covenantal relationship from the moment I learned of my genetics a few months ago, from both a religious and respect point of view]

farang says:

Interesting: Judaism labeling Islam and Christianity as falsely absorbing “Abraham” in their traditions, while it is plain to see “Judaism” is iteslf falsely absorbing Brahmanic Vedic mythology.

“Judaism” is the mythology of the Yadu/Yona/Matsya Vedic tribes of northern India. Brought to Yona/Ionia and “tranformed” into “Judaism” by unscrupulous scribes.

From the “sacrifice of Isaac” right on down to the present, Levinson is simply exposed as a FRAUD.

farang says:

Brahmins of India: THEIR religion, not YOURS.


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Our Abraham, Not Theirs

Inheriting Abraham, by Jon Levenson, expertly dismantles the idea of the patriarch as the father of three religions