A Christian Jew's Review of "Jewish Literacy" by Joseph Telushkin
I shall post reviews of sections of Jewish Literacy as I read it, mainly to correct any inaccuracies in there about what Christians believe, since I am pretty much an expert on general Christian theology. This is to help me as I portray my rabbi in my work in progress called Silver Skies 1996 Version.
From p. 24, Telushkin states that the idea that Jews have been chosen by God to spread His message to the world has been appropriated by other religions, including Christianity, which, he states, “contend that the special covenant between God and a people had passed from the Jews (Old Israel) to the Church (New Israel).” I’d like to state that Christians who are Dispensational in theology, do NOT believe that the special covenant relationship between God and the Jewish nation is finished and do NOT believe that this relationship has passed from the Jews to the Church. Dispensationalists consider the belief that the Church has replaced the Jews to be INCORRECT BIBLE TEACHING and call it Replacement Theology, which Dispensationalists heartily REJECT. This is a rather complicated subject, but this article addresses how the HERESY of Replacement Theology took root in Christian churches. https://israelmyglory.org/article/the-roots-of-replacement-theology/
Christians who rightly divide their Bible, understand that God has two programs, one for the church and another for the Jewish nation. We must NOT confuse the two programs or we are not rightly dividing the Bible as we study it.
On p. 33, “A week later (after Jacob married Leah), Jacob takes Rachel as his second wife.”
Huh? Did he forget to mention that a week in this instance meant seven years? I will say that reading how Jews interpret the Bible has given me some real insights into them and in some ways, I think they interpret the Bible better than Christians. BUT, all Christians believe that Jacob married Rachel SEVEN YEARS after he married Leah, which shows how deeply he loved Rachel. The Jews sympathize with Leah for being the unloved wife. I can see their point, but they fail to point out that God allowed this to happen to Jacob cuz Jacob was a trickster and God may have been giving him a taste of his own medicine. But Jacob is to be admired for being willing to work an entire SEVEN YEARS for Rachel, I think. Jews, don’t lie about Jacob, just to justify the actions of Leah’s children against Joseph. He writes, “Not surprisingly, Leah’s sons later grow to hate Rachel’s eldest son, Joseph.” I am noticing a tendency for Judaism to practice lousy Bible exegesis to forward their own pet theologies, something Christians are guilty of as well. But EVERY Bible I’ve read says Jacob waited SEVEN YEARS (a Hebrew week) for Rachel.
On p. 37, “There is a subtle suggestion in the Bible that Sarah was outraged. After Abraham descends from the mountain with Isaac . . . Abraham stayed in Beersheva (Gen. 22:19). Only seven verses later, he says, Sarah died in Kiryat Arba. He is hinting that Sarah was justified to be outraged.
Okay, first of all, seven verses later does NOT mean right away. This is some really lousy Bible exegesis. I’m not very far into this book, and am getting the impression that Jewish religious leaders play loose and fast in Bible exegesis. Christians seem to have a greater respect for the Jewish Bible than the Jews themselves. Simple logic tells you that Abraham deeply loved Sarah and she did not die right away after the binding of Isaac. Sarah was ninety when she gave birth to Isaac. So we can guess that she was about 100 to 105 when Abraham was willing to offer Isaac on the altar for God. Sarah died at the age of 127 when she was at Kiryat Arba. So she died about 22 years after Abraham offered Isaac. It seems to me in a vain Jewish attempt to justify the women’s liberation movement, the Jews have botched their interpretation of the relationship between Abraham and Sarah in the Bible. I won’t comment on some other Biblical interpretations that are really wild (like the notion that God may have been a bit of an ogre to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah), but I am noticing a Jewish tendency to question God and feel good about it. This Jewish writer and rabbi, after extrapolating on scanty evidence his claim that Sarah was furious at Abraham over the Isaac sacrifice, he then says, “The medieval Jews, on occasion forced to slaughter their own children, wives, and themselves to avoid being forcibly baptized (see Crusades), saw themselves as acting in the spirit of Abraham.” EXCUSE ME. . . Boy will I have some thoughtful insights into my novel as I write it.
What the Crusades did to the Jews was from the pits of hell, but being willing to acquiesce to them by sacrificing your children is just plain cowardice and treachery. The current Jesuits under Loree McBride are the children of the Crusades (all Roman Catholic). I can see why the Jews didn’t recognize Jesus as their Messiah when he showed up, when it should have been as obvious as the nose on their faces! Any ways, this is great research. Giving me lots of insights into my Jewish characters. However, I don’t agree with some Christians calling Jews the Christ killers. We ALL killed him. He had to die on the cross for our sins. But if you want to get technical, he suffered a ROMAN death, crucifixion. But it was the Jews who handed him over to the Romans and they said, “His blood be on us and on our children.” And you can see how things have turned out. . .
Thus far I’ve concluded that when evangelical Christians try to witness to Jews, you may want to use the Jewish Bible to reason with them, but I’d start pretty elementary. If their own rabbis treat their own Bible with such disdain, what can you expect of the average Jew? It’s obvious that Jews are not taught the Bible accurately, even their own Jewish Bible. Also, you will need to be very, very patient. Just give them food for thought and pray for them. They’ve been fed a bunch of lies about true evangelical Christians and the Bible their whole life. Just love them, pray for them and understand they’ve had a lot of brainwashing against Christianity. The average Jew will be won over with prayer, love and lots of patience. I won my Jewish husband Brent Spiner to the Lord when, if he didn’t have Jesus, it would have been over for him. Now he’s a student at Dallas Theological Seminary and, thus far, is probably going to graduate with highest honors.