Thursday, June 14, 2007

Modern day Jewish atonement

I openly admit that I am far from an expert on modern day Jewish theology, but I have done some reading on the subject (as well as partaking of a lot of conversations because the majority of the people I work with are Jewish). I have a logical question that I would like to see if anyone out there (preferably someone with a Jewish background) can answer.

As most people reading this probably know, Christian theology is based upon blood atonement. It holds that blood is necessary for the atonement of sins. The shedding of Christ’s blood made this atonement for us. However, the whole concept of substitutionary atonement and atonement by blood was foreshadowed in the Old Testament by the animal sacrifices instituted by God.

During the time of the Old Testament prophets the Jewish people started believing that these sacrifices were in essence a “get out of jail free card.” They made little to no effort at actual devotion to God, figuring that as long as they made the sacrifices they could keep God happy with them. A number of the Old Testament prophets spoke out against this attitude.

Of course, the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed, leaving modern day Jews in a quandary. If sacrifices are necessary for atonement, but there is no Temple at which to perform the sacrifices, how are they to make atonement for themselves?

The answer given (to my understanding) by modern Judaism is that God set up two alternative methods of atonement: (1) substitutionary animal sacrifices; and (2) sincere repentance, seeking forgiveness from those you have wronged and confession to God. Today, on Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement), they first prepare ahead of time by confessing and seeking forgiveness from everyone they have wronged over the past year. Supposedly, by going through this process and seeking forgiveness from God, their sins can be atoned for even without an animal sacrifice.

The important question, then, is why would God have ordered animal sacrifices if they were not necessary? The modern Jewish answer to this question is that the sacrifices were one alternative method of atonement, so they weren’t meaningless. But Jews could also opt for the repentance/confession method of atonement if they chose. If they chose the path of trying to walk in God’s law, and confessing their sins seeking forgiveness when they fail, then the sacrifices were not needed.

And here’s my dilemma. We have two alternatives. I will call the first “(1) sacrifices” and the second “(2) repentance.” Supposedly, according to modern Jewish theology, these are two alternative methods of atonement. Modern Jews allow (2) to stand on its own because they use it every Yom Kippur without (1) playing any part at all. But if (1) really is an “alternative”, it too should be able to stand on its own, without any regard to (2). But if we examine the Biblical condemnations against the empty sacrifices that were being made by the Jews, they always suggested that the sacrifices were meaningless to God because the Jews were making no attempt at sincere devotion, or at sincerely following God’s law. In other words, if the sacrifices were to have any meaning, the Jews would first have to be sincerely repentant for the sins for which they were seeking atonement. (2) is a prerequisite to the efficacy of (1). Sacrifices are only effective if they are preceded by repentance. But if this is the case, before we ever get to (1), we have already satisfied the requirements of (2), so our sins are already atoned for before we make a single sacrifice. We are back to the problem of God meaninglessly ordering animal sacrifices even though they served no purpose whatsoever. So how are these really two alternative methods of atonement?

Of course, under Christian theology, repentance is necessary, but it does not eliminate the need for the atoning sacrifice. Repentance will lead us to recognize the need for the sacrifice, which makes our partaking of that sacrifice sincere. So repentance does not make atonement for our sins. That role is played by the sacrifice. But sacrifice without repentance is simply going through the motions and is empty. If I have misstated modern Jewish theology in any way, I would appreciate if someone would clarify it for me. Are these really viewed as alternative methods of atonement, and if so, how do you get around the dilemma I have outlined? Thank you and God bless.

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wanted to say I appreciate your posting here. I'm unfamiliar with the Jewish position on atonement after the temple was destroyed, and this has helped me understand it a bit better. Although I didn't give you a answer to your questioning whether this is the modern Jewish position; I do want to say I've read this and it seems very on-track from what I understand from an Old Testament reading.

Anonymous said...

"Why would God have ordered animal sacrifices if they were not necessary?" Since you are a lawyer the correct answer should be simple. To have prior proof in place of a religious system that cannot be used for salvation from eternal death. No person is going to be able to present any argument to God that he can or has been saved from the penalty of death by any other system of faith other than the Way Jesus has perfected to obtain relief from the penalty of eternal death. God does not respect persons.

You have misunderstood the reason for Jesus crucifixion. Because of Jesus' life having been taken by bloodshed and relative to the fact of God having stated that unilaterally all men were going to be required to give a direct accounting to God, Gen 9:5b NIV, regarding taking the life of your fellow man by bloodshed one word has been added to the law of God. See Rom. 5:20 and Heb. 7:12. This word is Repent. But this command can only be obeyed by repenting of the one sin of Jesus murder in order to be forgiven of all sins. See Acts 2. The small narrow gate into the kingdom of God is the faith of repenting of the one sin of Jesus' murder but if you refuse there is no relief from the penalty of eternal death for not repenting of the sin of Jesus crucifixion is a disobedience of God's law. A lawyer ought to know the correct answer before he asks a question.
Theodore A. Jones

Ten Minas Ministries said...

"Anonymous" number 1, I thank you for your comments.

"Anonymous" number 2, I believe you have misunderstood my question. I disagree with your theory of the atonement, but that is not even the point. Your entire comment invokes Jesus. My question is how modern day Jews; i.e., those who do not accept Jesus as Messiah, resolve the atonement issue. In order to answer this question, you must do so without invoking the name of Christ, yet still accomplish the purposes of atonement.

Keep in mind that modern Jews will not agree with you that the OT sacrifices were simply pointing ahead to Christ's sacrifice (although on this point you and I agree). According to their theology, those sacrifices were adequate to atone for sin. But as I explained in my post, if this is so, all sorts of problems result with the absence of the Temple.

Your comments only further support my point. I believe modern Jews have a serious problem with their theories of atonement and I fail to see how they resolve them.

Anonymous said...

I am interested to read this discussion, as I began to ponder this question about 6 months ago. I would occasionally ask Christian friends "how do Jewish people atone for sin?" No one seemed to have an answer as atonement of sin, according to the old testament, must involve blood sacrifice and the temple was the holy place where this would occur. So you have confirmed my thoughts that there is no way for modern day Jews to atone for sin. Jesus gave his blood as a perfect sacrifice for our sin. This is the only way.

Ten Minas Ministries said...

I ahev also seen the question of how Jewish people atone for sin raised in relation to the old testament Jews; i.e., if their sacrifices were inadequate, are they all condemned to hell? The answer comes from Hebrews, Chapter 11. If they lived by faith (i.e., a recognition that they were sinners and could never live up to the standard set by God), then they would see the need for a sacrifice to take their place, a sacrifice that can only be given to them by the grace of God. Then Jesus' sacrifice would cover them as well.

As to how this applies to modern day Jews, I guess that is up to God. But now that the "word is out" that Christ is the Messiah, I naturally have my concerns as to how anyone's sins, Jews included, can be atoned for without recognition of who He was.

Let us continue to keep everyone who does not yet know Jesus in our prayers.

Ken

Mavric said...

Found your question very thought provoking, so did a little serching, came across this link whick, from a Jewish point of view trys to explain the dilema. Pray it helps. I am a Christian.
http://whatjewsbelieve.org/explanation02.html

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Thanks for the link. That article seems to confirm my suspicions. Supposedly blood sacrifice was one alternative method of atonement (and according to that author, only for unintentional sins). The article never (in my mind) adequately responds to my objection, though. If it was just one alternative, why was it set up as an alternative in the first place when the Bible makes it clear that repentence is needed for the sacrifices to be effective anyway? Why not simply have repentence and stop at that? It still seems to be completely unnecessary.

The article basically makes these points:

(1) Leviticus allows poor people to use a tenth of an ephah of flour instead of a live animal as their sin offering, so blood was not necessary.

(2) In the book of Jonah, God forgave the Ninevites based solely on their repentance and changing their ways. No blood sacrifice was necessary.

(3) When blood sacrifices are mentioned, it is only for unintentional sins. Intentional sins were only atoned for through repentance and punishment.

As for (1), the author ignores that for anyone who could afford it, blood was necessary. Only if the person was totally unable to bring a live animal was it excused. The point was still that you are supposed to bring blood. Was the blood of an animal technically required to atone for sins? No, but that is because the sacrifices themselves did not really atone for sins. They were merely symbolic at that point. The whole point of them was simply to point forward to Christ's sacrifice (See Hebrews chapter 10; an animal can never adequately atone for the sins of a man). God isn't going to send the priests into the home of a poor Jew to scour for any live animal, then punish him if he can't find one, all over a ritual that was purely symbolic at that time to begin with! But even that poor Jew would learn that once he could afford an animal, blood was necessary.

In regard to (2), the "forgiveness" here was simply the decision not to annihilate the city then and there. It had nothing to do with atonement. The author is comparing apples and oranges. The Ninevites temporarily prolonged the existence of their home, but they still were guilty of violating God's law. The annihilation of the city is what God threatened at the beginning of the book, and that is what is relented from doing based upon their repentence. God never said the Ninevites' sins were atoned for such that they could join Him in heaven.

Finally, (3) is the easiest objection to dismiss. The description of the Day of Atonement (i.e., what modern Jews refer to as "Yom Kippur") in Leviticus chapter 16 is not limited to unintentional sins. In fact, Leviticus 16:16 (ESV) says, "Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, ALL their sins" (emphasis added). The notion that blood atonement only deals with unintentional sins is simply not true.

Thank you for pointing out that link to me. That was very educational. God bless.

Ken

Anonymous said...

Partly it is because only the only place sacrifices were allowed were in the temple, and most people were very remote from the temple.

Other than that, it has to do with the requirements for atonement. There are many places in the Jewish scriptures that show that sacrifice of grain, sacrifice of the lips, and actually says sacrifice of animals was not desired.

For example look at Isaiah 1:11-18.

The concept of atonement is to show humbleness and acknowledgment of your wrong, to ask forgiveness, and to change your behavior so you don't do it again. Prayer, fasting and alms giving are often used as the acknowledgment of error.

Ten Minas Ministries said...

I understand that as a practical matter Jews were displaced from the Temple, but that does not change what God commanded. I believe that only illustrates the Christian view that the Old Testament sacrifices were not effective in themselves, but rather were pointing to Christ’s perfect sacrifice that was yet to come. God commanded blood sacrifice to atone for sins. If the Temple sacrifices were necessary for this (which I believe God unmistakenly said that they are) why would He then allow the Temple to be destroyed so that atonement was impossible? Why would He command something then make it impossible to abide by His command?

Jews and Christians actually may have some common ground here in that neither believes that atonement had to be accomplished by animal sacrifices; Jews because other forms of sacrifices were allegedly sufficient, Christians because the old sacrifices were allegedly only pointing the way to a future sacrifice and were ineffective in themselves. Either one of these options could explain why God allowed the Temple to be destroyed.

But does the “alternative methods of atonement” explanation hold up under scrutiny? I do not believe it can. Take the passage you cited from Isaiah, for example. I do not believe that this passage can be interpreted to be saying that blood was not necessary for atonement. In order for that position to be true, you would have God contradicting Himself, in one breath saying that blood is necessary to atone for sins and in another breath saying it is not. I believe if you read the entire context of that Isaiah passage, what God is saying is essentially to stop paying Him lip service. “Stop going through the motions. You come before me with a sacrifice, claiming to be sorry for your sins, but then as soon as you leave the altar you go right on in your old sinful ways. You don’t mean what you say. That TYPE of sacrifice is meaningless because there is not true repentance underlying it.” This does not mean that blood is not necessary to atone, but rather that in order for a blood sacrifice to be effective, it must be accompanied by true repentance and sorrow for the sins you have committed. This is why Christ’s sacrifice is only effective for those who have faith in Him.

I believe that the problem with your reference to the grain offerings, for example, is that nowhere does God say that these offerings are for atonement. There are a number of offerings set up in the Old Testament for various different purposes (sin, fellowship, etc.). Nowhere (to my knowledge) does the Bible say that a grain offering can accomplish atonement of sins. Only blood offerings do that. So again, we get back to God commanding blood sacrifice for atonement of sins, but by my reading of Jewish theology, later saying (in essence) that He did not really mean it. God does not change His mind, so this cannot be the appropriate interpretation.

Thank you for your comments.

Alex Millington said...

Ken,

You have no idea how with you I am on this whole issue. I thank God that I found your site today!

Today I am writing a discipleship session on Sin and I have come to the part regarding atonement. I have heard again and again that Jews believe that the animal sacrifices were not in themselves effective or even necessary but I can never understand why they were commanded and the only answer I have received to this is that 'God said so so we do it'. Even Jews don't consider that answer satisfactory on many counts so why this one?

Here is a link to a question I asked regarding this issue on a chat forum called Yahoo! Answers:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Arx9vEd8GFpyO6am2HZvfn7sy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20081007070155AAKktbL

What struck me is that certain Jews practice a tradition (not orthodox but a tradition nonetheless) of sin transference on the night before Yom Kippur. It seems that somewhere along the line certain Jews realised their need for sin transference (indicated in the Law by placing hands on the head of the sacrificed animal) and so perform a ritual of transferring their sins to a chicken on the night before Yom Kippur which they then sacrifice. While this practice is not followed by the more orthodox Jews it does to my mind demonstrate that Jews recognised their need for an alternative or substitutionary sacrifice.

Regarding your points (1), (2) and (3) above:

(1) I concur with this wholeheartedly. Although I found this article (which I have yet to substantiate) that claims that the flour was actually intermingled with the blood of previous sacrifices and in this way atoned for the sins:

http://www.realmessiah.com/antiPart1-Skobac.htm

It sounds very plausible although I certainly need to do more research on the matter to determine the truth in it.

(2) An interesting point to note here is that Nineveh was not a Jewish city. The Ninevites were not Jews. That I feel is an important distinction to make here when discussing with a Jew who will tell you that Gentiles (non Jews) only need follow the 7 Noahide Laws in order to be righteous before God:

http://www.aish.com/wallcam/7_Noachide_Laws.asp

The Jews, however, must follow Torah. Torah included animal sacrifices to atone for sins so in my mind the Ninevites, by the Jews own admission, did not need to present sacrifices to God to be made right with Him. This, however, does not negate the need for the Jews to do so - once again a flawed argument.

(3) You dismiss this effectively. However I would also add that if the blood sacrifice was only for unintentional sins and Jews do not intentionally sin then surely the sacrifices are still needed today to atone for the unintentional sins?!

There are some good arguments against the intentional sin aspect of blood sacrifice here:

http://www.lightofmessiah.org/resources/articles/intentional_sin_atoned.pdf

My greatest concern with this whole point is that Jews seem to contend that such a central aspect of Torah Law is unnecessary. See here for what I mean by this:

http://jewsforjudaism.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=53&Itemid=355

They say that Jews who were exiled never worried that their sins weren't atoned for so why should they worry now given there is once again no temple? I would agree with them that without a temple they cannot sacrifice but I do not agree that this makes the whole point moot. Personally I read Hebrews 11 and see people who had great faith being counted among the saved. People who saw the need for blood sacrifice but felt it was ineffective and insufficient to achieve what it should achieve. To say that this aspect is unnecessary is to minimise God's abhorency of sin and reduce His perfect justice to something far more fluffy. Why do Jews not long for the time when they can make blood sacrifices again? Why do they not see this as a necessary part of atonement as you argued so well in the first part of your post?

To my understanding God desired sacrifice because the life was in the blood and the blood must be spilled to make atonement as He had said that the wages of sin was death. In Jesus there was true life and this life was effective to bear the weight of sin. When it was spilled the atonement of all sin could be purchased by Jesus.

That is the Christian contention (as you rightly say) and that is what Jews seems to misunderstand regarding their laws.

Thank you so much for your helpful and logical arguments which have really helped me to organise some of my thoughts on this matter!

Every blessing to you in Christ,

Alex

Alex said...

Hi again Ken,

I just read this article on wikipedia which I thought might interest you:

http://bible.tmtm.com/wiki/ATONEMENT_(Jewish_Encyclopedia)

It explains how the thought process changed from one of sacrifice to repentance and suggests fours means of atonement.

To me, as I read the article, it still pointed the way to Jesus. Particularly one of the things it mentioned how Jewish thought progressed to say that the suffering and death of a righteous person atones for mankind's sin (hence the idea of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53).

Actually, this article helped piece together a number of things that Paul possibly had heard in his learning as a scholar and which he then understood as all pointing the way to Christ following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Fascinating article that, to me, only reinforces the idea that repentance is of fundamental importance but ultimately does not pay the punishment for the crimes committed against God - our hope must be in God alone through Jesus Christ to fully and completely pay for all the sin of mankind.

Wayne Grudem also has an interesting chapter on Atonement in his book Systematic Theology which you might find interesting on the subject of Christ's atoning sacrifice. It doesn't address this idea of atonement through blood in contrast to Jewish thought but it does, nonetheless, add some interesting thoughts to what Christ experienced in those final days and hours of his life.

Blessings,

Alex

Charles Barton said...

Here we have an example of Christian misrepresentation of Jewish views and of the Hebrew Bible. The Bible teaches, "loving kindness I desire, not sacrifice". (Hosea 6:6).

"For I spoke not unto your fathers, nor commanded them on the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices; but this thing I commanded them, saying, "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you". (Jeremiah 7:22-23)

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me?" sayeth the Lord. "I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs or of he-goats...bring no more vain oblations.... Your new moon and your appointed feasts my soul hateth;...and when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood. (Isa. 1:11-16)

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Yea, though you offer me burnt-offerings and your meal offerings, I will not accept them neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy song; and let Me not hear the melody of thy psalteries. But let justice well up as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. (Amos 5:21-4)

"To do charity and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice" (Prov. 21: 3).

With what shall I come before the Lord, bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, 0 mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8).

There is no mystery why Jews believe as they do about sacrifice. Jews believe what the Bible says is true. Christians only pretend to believe that.

Alex Millington said...

Charles

You should know that Christians believe you are right in every thing you said except the misrepresentation of scripture.

Why do I say that?

Every verse you quoted is part of a larger context where the prophet (and Solomon) is lamenting on behalf of God that the people thought it was the burnt offerings and sacrifices that pleased God when the reality is that justice, mercy, humbleness, faithfulness, self-control, obedience and love are really the things that please God.

Indeed if the sacrifices are only required when sin is committed then surely it makes sense to say that these were not the things God desired! If there was no sin then there would be no sacrifice for sin so we can confidently agree that God does not delight in sin offerings but delights in the repentance. That, however, does not go so far as to say that the sin offerings are no longer required by God - not at all - only that He does not delight in them and certainly that He will not accept them when accompanied by false religion and ungenuine 'repentance'.

Christians believe that God is unchanging and that His requirement for sacrifice to atone for sin never changed. That Jews have decided that sacrifice is no longer required seems, to us, to be contrary to the very command of God that you hold so dear. Would you recommence the sacrifices if the temple was rebuilt? Would you do so willingly? Or would you maintain that this practice was no longer required? If you would recommence it then why - it achieves nothing except following the command of God to do it. Christians believe that the command has not weakened nor failed in this time but that it stands strong and necessary. The article I linked to:

http://bible.tmtm.com/wiki/ATONEMENT_(Jewish_Encyclopedia)

Shows how Jewish thought has changed regarding sacrifice and the things that can replace it. However, even this does not go so far as to say that the practice is now futile and unnecessary. If you delight in Torah then you surely we delight when this practice can begin once more? Why, because people still sin - and if they do then sacrifice is still commanded in the law of God. This, to my mind, has not and will not change - ever.

You say we misrepresent your scriptures? I say we interpret them in the light of Christ. I also say that we do not misrepresent them for we still see the utmost important in the command that Moses gave and we see why it was given.

When you can satisfactorily show that these laws regarding sin and guilt offerings have actually been revoked by God (and not just the things He doesn't desire - we agree on this point), then perhaps we will find resolution on this issue.

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Mr. Millington,

Thank you for your comments. As you could probably guess, I agree.

Mr. Barton,

I also thank you for your comments.

I am sorry you believe that I have misrepresented Jewish views. In fact, the entire point of my post was to ask for more information about Jewish views. I never pretended to be an expert on Jewish ideas of atonement and was hoping someone could give me more information on what I perceived to be an inconsistency.

That being said, your post does not seem to add anything new to what has already been said in this chain. We all know there are multiple verses in the Bible in which God speaks out in favor of repentance over sacrifice. I think Alex gives a very good defense of the Christian position on that so I won't add anything to it.

All I will do, Mr. Barton, is to pose the following questions. Please understand that I do not mean to come across antagonistically. I am sincerely trying to understand your position.

(1) Do you agree that God told the Jews to perform sacrifices for the atonement of sins?

(2) You quote Amos as saying "I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Yea, though you offer me burnt-offerings and your meal offerings, I will not accept them neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts." Assuming you admit in question (1) that God told the Jews to perform the sacrifices, why would God tell them to do something He hates? Why would He tell them to do something for atonement of sin then refuse to accept that same thing for the atonement of sin? Does God lie?

For the moment, please try not to focus on the scriptures devoted to repentance and try to explain to me the scriptures on sacrifice. If your interpretation of the atonement is correct, why did God institute the sacrificial system in the first place?

Thank you again.

Ken

Anonymous said...

Shalom.

So many theologies so little time. If we read Leviticus chapter 5: 9 - we can see that if someone was so poor that he couldn't afford even a pair of turtle doves he or was ordered to being fine flour, minus the olive oil and incense. I am Jewish and have practiced Messianic Judaism for the last 3.5 years. I am now coming to conclusions based on my studies that a lot of what is taught in the church as well as in Messianic congregations are not true. Example 1: 1st Samuel 15:1 - Samuel tells Saul that GOD desires obedience rather than sacrifice. -- God would not sacrifice a man for the sins of everyone else. The sin sacrifices were unintentional sins, nor purpose filled ones. The entire first half of our bibles clearly states that GOD desires our return. Yeshua is not a get out of jail free card. We are all responsible for our wrong doings but God loves us enough to forgive us as long as we repent.

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Thank you for your comments.

I am always amazed at how this post, which I wrote almost 1 1/2 years ago, seems to keep surfacing with new comments from time to time. :)

I disagree with your interpretation of 1 Samuel 15. Yes, the concept you cited is mentioned in verse 22, but this is in the context of Saul very clearly disobeying God. God told him to destroy everything of the Amalekites. He didn't. Saul claimed that they saved the best of the livestock to sacrifice to God. Samuel told him that obedience is more important than sacrifice. This is not a lesson in the non-necessity of sacrifices (I would point out that Saul never mentioned any particular sacrifice he was planning on making), but rather the seriousness of deliberate disobedience of God. God's instructions were clear. Saul disobeyed, claiming he had a good purpose for disobeying. Was it Saul's job to second guess God? Thsi lesson has nothing to do with the necessity of sacrifices. Saul's motivation for wanting to offer the sacrifice was misplaced, because it arose out of disobedience. It is like stealing money then donating it to charity. Does the fact that you donated it excuse the fact that you stole it?

You say God would not sacrifice a man for the sins of mankind. I agree. He didn't sacrifice a man. He sacrificed Himself, the ultimate act of love.

Many of your other points already came up in an earlier comment to which I already responded (see the 7th comment overall in this chain). Briefly, though, the use of flour, etc., was ONLY for the poor. This was an act of God's justice and mercy. After all, if the sacrifices were not really effective to begin with (but only were designed to point the way to a later, meaningful sacrifice) then we are not going to condemn people because they do not have the financial means to follow the "letter" of law that was only symbolic to begin with. But I simply ask, "If someone did have the financial means to afford an animal, were they allowed to get away with only using flour?" If not, why not? There clearly was some reason why blood was the norm.

The sin sacrifices were not only for unintentional sins. See my earlier comments on Leviticus 16:16.

God does not want "empty" sacrifices. As you have pointed out, He does desire our obedience and our return. But we will never be able to fully satisfy Him. This is very easily demonstrated:

Is God perfect?

Are you?

Inevitably, you will never completely please God. Therefore, there will be some sins that need to be atoned for in order for you to appear completely just in God's eyes. If you have EVER sinned, you are tarnished and in need of atonement. This does not mean that God does not WANT us to please Him. Of course He does. The point is that we are INCAPABLE of completely pleasing Him, so we need atonement.

Again, this does not mean Jesus (Yeshua) is a "get out of jail free card." If we truly have faith and appreciate the fate Jesus saved us from, we will WANT to please Him out of gratitude. Our lives will be changed. We will constantly strive to follow God's law out of love, not compulsion. Yes, we will fall short, but we will be trying.

If someone really think that he or she can just go on sinning to his or her heart's content because Christ's sacrifice has them covered, then they don't really appreciate the sacrifice in the first place and are not saved to begin with.

I close with this thought. If a criminal murders someone, but sincerely repents from their heart (they really are sorry) should that person be excused from all punishment? You may believe it is "loving" to completely forgive them, but how is justice satisfied by that result? God is also just. To me it appears that your solution to the atonement focuses exclusively on God's love and mercy but does not take into account His justice.

Thank you again.

Ken

Tabatha said...

Being Jewish myself, I am rather troubled by the article that appears here. It does ***not*** reveal a good understanding of Judaism and in places, it is entirely incorrect.

For those out there who are interested in accurate facts about the Jewish concept of atonement, I offer this:

Sacrifices were only ever used for certain, specific sins - they were NEVER the sole route to atonement. And we can see this throughout the Torah. G-d repeatedly forgives and shows mercy to people, without any mention of a sacrifice.

Jews have *always* used prayer and repentance for atonement. The sacrifices, when applicable, were used as a means of drawing closer to G-d. It had nothing to do with a 'blood sacrifice' because this is *forbidden* in Judaism and always has been. Indeed, when the temple still stood, often the sacrifice involved burnt flour and no animal at all.

After the temple was destroyed by the Romans there was no huge 'quandrary' as stated by the author of this blog. As we have always used prayers for repentance in Judaism, we simply continued doing so!

And as has been mentioned, we have Yom Kippur, the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. This is our Day Of Atonement. We fast for 25 hours, and we spend most of that time in Synagogue, praying and reflecting over our actions during the past year.

In Judaism, atonement involves acknowledging that we have transgressed, and making a sincere vow to ourselves and G-d that we will not repeat the same error again. We must also make amends *directly* to any of our fellow men that we have upset or offended.

We are not expected to be perfect. Only G-d can achieve perfection. Our task as humans is to do our best and to treat others with fairness and compassion.

Finally, I need to address the comments made in this blog which suggest that while the temple stood, the Jews 'just made sacrifices' and didn't bother behaving honourably.

This is not just insulting - it is absurd.

There is nothing to suggest that this attitude was held by the Jews. If the author of this blog is indeed relying on the Christian scriptures for his 'facts', then may I remind him that the New Testament is hardly an objective nor reliable source of information on Judaism!!!

Being Jewish, I deal regularly with genuine misunderstandings about my religion. I don't expect non Jews to understand Judaism if they never have any contact with Jews. But what I find troubling is that the author of this blog, while acknowledging that he does not actually understand Judaism, nevertheless felt comfortable stating as 'facts' things that are wrong *about* Judaism.

I would never presume to try and explain any religion other than my own. And had he genuinely wanted to, the author of the blog could easily, in a matter of seconds, have accessed GENUINE facts about Judaism's vision of atonement. They are readily available here:
http://www.whatjewsbelieve.org/
http://www.askmoses.com
http://www.jewwithaview.com
http://www.jewfaq.org/
http://www.outreachjudaism.org/

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Tabatha,

I am truly sorry you feel insulted. I can only ask that you take a fresh look back at my various posts under this topic and see that there was never any intent to offend. Please understand that the mere fact that we disagree is not equivalent to disrespect. I hold many Jews in the utmost respect, including you. You stated, "I don't expect non Jews to understand Judaism if they never have any contact with Jews." I can only assume that you believe I have had no contact with Jews. Actually, this is incorrect. I work in an office every day in which approximately 50% of the workers are Jewish, and I quite regularly talk to them about their religious practices. So if your assumption is meant to apply to me, you are mistaken. Again, I ask you to please not assume that just because someone does not agree with your religious interpretation, they have not examined your religion. However, in the course of these discussions I have come across this apparent inconsistency that I have yet to hear anyone adequately explain.

I have also never disagreed that modern day Jews say exactly what you have said; i.e., Jews have supposedly always practiced repentance as an alternative manner of atonement to sacrifice. I agree this is exactly what the modern Jewish church teaches. I simply do not believe that this position is borne out by your own scriptures. Your own sacred texts, written contemporaneously with the sacrificial system we are discussing, do not, I believe, show that Jews at that time were practicing repentance as an alternative to sacrifice. In order to support this position, you would have to respond to the dilemma I posed in the original post, which I have yet to see anyone even attempt to answer. Could sacrifices be "effective" if they were not accompanied by repentance? If so, why bother repenting? If not, what was the point of the sacrifices (i.e., if repentance alone was good enough, why would God order sacrifices too)? Does God order meaningless action?

Which brings us to your statement, "If the author of this blog is indeed relying on the Christian scriptures for his 'facts', then may I remind him that the New Testament is hardly an objective nor reliable source of information on Judaism!!!"

In the course of this discussion, I have examined the following scriptures in presenting my position:

Leviticus 16:16
Isaiah 1:11-18
Amos 5:21-4
1 Samuel 15

For anyone reading this who is not terribly familiar with the Bible, none of these scriptures are from the New Testament, not one. If my quick review of my prior comments is correct, the only time I mentioned a New Testament scripture was in explaining how Old Testament Jews could be saved before Jesus came to Earth. All of the scriptures I have cited in regard to the Old Covenant sacrificial system have come from the Old Testament, not the New Testament. That is precisely my point. You may say that repentance has always been an alternative method of atonement, but I do not believe your own scriptures support that position, and I have presented this argument by referring to Old Testament scriptures, not New Testament scriptures.

For example, you said, "Sacrifices were only ever used for certain, specific sins." Then how do you explain Leviticus 16:16 (ESV) which says, "Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, ALL their sins" (emphasis added)? It does not say this sacrifice was for "some" sins, but for "all" sins. This verse does not seem to support what you have been taught, and it comes from the Torah, not the New Testament.

Also, in response to your opinion that " the New Testament is hardly an objective nor reliable source of information on Judaism" may I point out that all of the authors of the New Testament were Jewish. I would also ask on what basis you believe it is not "objective"? Is it merely because these authors have arrived at a different conclusion than modern Jewish scholars, or do you have something else on which to base this opinion? This is a problem in critical analysis today. If it does not apply to you, I would be very glad for that. But too many people, I am afraid, automatically disregard any evidence against their position based solely on the fact that it is opposed to their views. We do not like to hear anything that may challenge us. Nobody wants to confront the possibility that they are wrong, so we shield ourselves against the possibility by disregarding opposing viewpoints without ever giving them a fair hearing. Have you read the New Testament? If not, may I suggest that it may speak to you more than you realize?

You stated, "I need to address the comments made in this blog which suggest that while the temple stood, the Jews 'just made sacrifices' and didn't bother behaving honourably." When did I ever say that? Nobody ever claimed Jews did not try to behave honorably. My point is and always has been exactly what you admitted in your post. "Only G-d can achieve perfection." Yes. Exactly. God can. Man cannot, whether you are Jew or Gentile. Because we are not perfect, by logical necessity there will be sins that need to be atoned for. After all, the only way to avoid the necessity of atonement is to live a life of perfection, which even you admit we cannot do.

So I ask you, as I have asked others, to examine your heart and sincerely answer the following questions:

(1) Did God order sacrifices? I believe this requires a "yes" answer. To answer "no" is not even remotely supportable by the Jewish scriptures.

(2) Assuming you answer "yes", why did He order them?

Your answer to the second question (or your inability to do so in a manner consistent with contemporary Jewish theology) will, I hope, open up new possibilities in your heart to the meaning of the Jewish scriptures.

God loves you. I love you, as I love all creatures made in God's image. I sincerely regret any offense you may take from my comments. I am not trying to offend you. I am simply looking for someone to answer the last question I posed. If repentance alone was sufficient, in and of itself, for the atonement of sins, why did God order sacrifices? The number of sacrifices is irrelevant. Even if you think He only ordered one, why did He do it? Why order the butchering of an animal if it served no necessary purpose? Do you believe it served a purpose? If so, what was it?

Please reflect on these questions and let me know your thoughts. Thank you and God bless.

Ken

Tabatha said...

Ken,

Right now I only have time for a brief response, though I will return later to elaborate. To respond to a few of your main points:

1 - there is nothing to 'disagree' with. There is not a Christian 'side' to Judaism, so I'm afraid you don't *get* to 'disagree' with what Judaism defines as Jewish belief and Jewish practise. Judaism alone gets to define Jewish theology. Christianity does not get a vote on this!


If, as you state, you truly do ' respect' Judaism, then my question is: why do you not respect the ability of Jews to correctly interpret our **own** scriptures?

How would you feel if members of another faith repeatedly stated that Christians didn't correctly 'interpret' the Christian bible?

2 - no, the authors of the NT were most certainly not Jewish. Firstly, you cannot state that because the identity of the writers of the gospels were unknown to start with. The Church assigned authorship. This is something my Christian friends themselves have stated; indeed, I first heard this from a Christian friend!

Secondly, by the time the Christian scriptures were compiled, Christianity was an entirely Gentile faith. Any Jews that followed Christ *left* Judaism the second they accepted that the 'resurrection' and 'virgin' belief' were possible and had occurred.

I accept fully that you intended no offence. And I not only welcome but thoroughly enjoy debates and discussions about religion with those of other faiths. But they have to be based on a position of true mutual respect - and it is not 'respect' when Christianity states that Jews are somehow 'misinterpreting' the Jewish texts. Texts written by Jews, about Jews, and for Jews. For 2000 + years, this is what the Church has been saying about Judaism.

Would you inform a Muslim that they were 'wrong' or were 'misinterpreting' the Quran?

Alex Millington said...

Hi and welcome Tabatha,

I enjoy reading the updates on this site and so I hope you and Ken don't mind me joining in here ;o)

I don't think that either Ken or I have a problem with Jews interpreting their own scriptures. Indeed that is their prerogative and they should do it. In fact, we are both asking for a Jewish interpretation on this issue - not a Christian one for we know the Christian interpretation but are unclear in our understanding of the Jewish one. Indeed we are not trying to define Jewish belief on this issue but merely understand it and state in our responses the things which we have heard, which we do read and which we evaluate and understand to come from purely Jewish sources. When we define Christian faith we make sure that we state this is what we are defining as we have only the right to determine and explain Christian belief and not Jewish belief.

Ken states his question adequately and mine echoes that... Were sacrifices sufficient in and of themselves without the need for repentance? If yes then why repent? If no and repentance is sufficient in itself without sacrifice as is contended today, then why sacrifice at all? Was there a point or was there none?

I don't think either of us can happily believe that a Jew would sacrifice simply because God told them that animal sacrifices were good, without questioning why. Jews have a long history of being questioners and thinkers and not being satisfied with simply saying 'it is as it is' and never questioning it again or welcoming questioning about the topic. You say yourself that you enjoy such questioning - do you not question this yourself? Do you not wonder if God had a motive in asking the Jews to sacrifice? Do you not wonder if He made that motive known?

Also, I think there is a misconception that we ought to clear up as you have referred to it elsewhere in our correspondence and it is pertinent to this subject.

Christians do not think of Jesus as a human sacrifice in the way that an animal sacrifice was a sacrifice. Rather, we see Jesus' statement that:

"Greater love has no man than this: than he lay down his life for his friends"

As a statement that no-one actually sacrificed Jesus but rather he sacrificed himself - and to save us. Let me ask you this: Let us say for arguments sake that we are married to eachother and a robber comes to our house while we are there. Seeing us the robber says he is going to shoot you. I step forward and say if you are going to shoot one of us then let it be me for my wife is pregnant and we also have another child. The children should not be without their mother. The robber consents and shoots me in your place before he runs away. In such a situation are you telling me that my actions are displeasing to God? Surely not for they are noble and pure in motive - saving the life of another. That is the sacrifice we think of Jesus as making... No one forcibly took him to the cross. He did not deserve to go there. Indeed he could have avoided it if he wanted to. However, he went there willingly so that he could face the wrath of God for the sins of man and thereby enable us to live in the freedom he purchased. He took our place - not because we sacrificed him thinking that that would please God but because he stepped into our place to face the wrath of God on our behalf.

Now I know that you say that each shall pay for his own sins - but then surely each can only repent for his own sins as well. If you truly believed this then surely saying Kiddesh is pointless for in it you pray for the deceased that God should have mercy on them - yet it is them and not you who need to repent. If God hears your prayers and could possibly answer them, then is it not also possible that he could determine to pour his wrath on another in the deceased persons place instead of pouring it on them? And could He not do this once and for all - the perfect Kiddesh? That is the role we see Jesus as filling. Not our blood sacrifice that we needed to make but rather our perfect High Priest who made a sacrifice willingly on our behalf.

Anyway, back to the issues at hand in this post...

The NT is indeed largely Jewish in its authorship (although I will agree that they have moved on from the orthodox Jewish interpretations and therefore you would no longer consider them Jewish). We know this because the majority of the NT is written by Paul who does the majority of the actual explaining of Christian doctrine. Paul defines himself as the Jew of Jews in his upbringing and you can read that in Philippians 3:4-6. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee, circumcised on the eighth day, zealous for the law and much more. He was not a convert to Judaism before he became a follower of Christ but he was a true born and bred Jew. So while there may be some uncertainty on the authorship of the gospels, the true expounder of the Christian faith most certainly understood Jewish thought and would have known the Oral Traditions as well as the Tanakh perhaps better than most Jews today (and even then) know them. The NT is most definitely Jewish in its roots and it draws on understandings of the Messiah that were prevalent in Jewish thought 200 years ago only in doing so it expands on them for the reality was so much better than the hope.

To end then, I'm going to echo Ken's closing statements:

"God loves you. I love you, as I love all creatures made in God's image. I sincerely regret any offense you may take from my comments. I am not trying to offend you. I am simply looking for someone to answer the last question I posed. If repentance alone was sufficient, in and of itself, for the atonement of sins, why did God order sacrifices? The number of sacrifices is irrelevant. Even if you think He only ordered one, why did He do it? Why order the butchering of an animal if it served no necessary purpose? Do you believe it served a purpose? If so, what was it?"

Blessings to you Tabatha,

Alex

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Thank you both Tabatha and Alex for your continuing comments.

I will not rehash the same ground Alex has already covered because he has done so quite eloquently, and all I would do is bring down the quality of work I am sure.

I will only add one additional thought from a philosophical perspective. Tabatha, you stated, “If, as you state, you truly do ' respect' Judaism, then my question is: why do you not respect the ability of Jews to correctly interpret our **own** scriptures?”

I agree with Alex that you have the perfect freedom to come up with your own interpretation and I would never dream of denying you that right. But when we are talking about truth claims, there are “correct” interpretations and “incorrect” interpretations. Allow me to illustrate.

In your previous comment you stated, “Sacrifices were only ever used for certain, specific sins - they were NEVER the sole route to atonement.” This is an assertion of historical fact. You are making a truth claim here. In other words, you are saying that it is “true” that sacrifices were never the sole route to atonement. If we can show that Jews 2,000 or 3,000 years ago believed that sacrifices were not the sole route, then your truth claim is correct. If we can show that they believed sacrifices were the sole route to atonement, then your truth claim is incorrect. Either way, it is a testable claim.

This is hardly surprising because truth, by its very nature, is exclusive. Truth is objective. You seem to be suggesting that the Torah may have one meaning for Christians and another meaning for Jews, and that Christians have no right to try to convince Jews that the Jewish interpretation is incorrect. This would mean that the “truth” of the scriptures is relative, meaning one thing for Christians and another for Jews.

But that statement is not logically supportable. Take the assertion, “All truth is relative.” Is that statement true for everyone? If so, it is an example of an objective truth while trying to deny that objective truth exists. If not, then that statement in itself is relative and therefore not always true. Either way, truth must be objective and apply equally to everyone.

This means that if the Jewish scriptures were inspired by God, God only had one meaning. He did not mean one thing for one people and another thing for another people. Our job is to try to determine what He meant. You actually practice this yourself when you disagree with the Christian interpretation of the Jewish scriptures. You believe that we are incorrect, but at the same time attempt to deny us the right to argue that you are incorrect.

So you have made a testable truth claim and all I am trying to do is to test that claim. Is it true or not that the Jews always believed that sacrifice was not the only path to atonement? What better source to look to in order to examine the validity of this claim than the Jewish scriptures themselves? Let us pull open those scriptures and see what Jews at the time said about the atonement.

We all must be willing to examine our worldviews and ask ourselves if they are really supported. All I am asking is that you ask yourself whether your worldview is supported by your own scriptures.

You asked “How would you feel if members of another faith repeatedly stated that Christians didn't correctly 'interpret' the Christian bible?” Actually, I would feel fine, and I regularly interact with people who do precisely that. The Bible is probably the most heavily examined and criticized book in history, whether the attacks come from a textual criticism angle, arguing that it is filled with contradictions, claiming that the original texts were not preserved in the copies, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses simply telling us that we are interpreting it wrong. This type of interaction happens all the time and I welcome it. After all, how do you ever know whether what you believe is true if you do not allow your belief to be tested?

You asked, “Would you inform a Muslim that they were 'wrong' or were 'misinterpreting' the Quran?” Actually, I would go a step further and suggest to a Muslim that the Quran is not a divinely inspired book in the first place, and therefore not a good source for discovering divinely revealed truth, regardless of how you interpret it.

Belief is not simply a matter of what makes me feel good. In “The Republic” Plato introduced the concept of the “noble lie,” an untruth that was fed to a society by the elite in order to maintain order. It was not true, but it served a good purpose so the elite allowed it to spread anyway.

I am not a believer in the noble lie. I base my belief system on what I believe to be objectively true, whether it makes me feel good or not. There are many aspects of Christianity that are not terribly appealing. We are called to put ourselves in the proverbial “line of fire.” But I hold to it because I believe it to be true. For that reason I welcome criticism of Christianity from any angle. I do not see the point of believing in a stack of cards, but rather like to place my faith upon a firm rock.

I hesitated before making my comments because I did not want you, Tabatha, to feel like Alex and I were “ganging up on you.” I have been involved in many debates in which it has felt like it was me versus the world, and I know it is not a pleasant feeling. I can only encourage you to realize that what Alex and I say we say out of love. You must be willing to open your interpretation of the scriptures up to outside criticism in order for you to know whether or not what you believe is true. Christianity openly welcomes this type of criticism. 1 Peter 3:15 simply tells us to be ready to give a response when this criticism arises.

So I close in again asking you for a response. “If repentance alone was sufficient, in and of itself, for the atonement of sins, why did God order sacrifices? The number of sacrifices is irrelevant. Even if you think He only ordered one, why did He do it? Why order the butchering of an animal if it served no necessary purpose? Do you believe it served a purpose? If so, what was it?”

Thank you again.

Ken

Tabatha said...

Hi Ken and Alex :)

- I'm in the middle of composing my response to Ken's original post but just want to address something Alex just wrote.

I do realise that you are both genuinely seeking to understand the rationale for the sacrifices, and I will do my best to provide a clear explanation!

One thing to note, though: you are still viewing Judaism via Christianity. For example, Alex posted:

"Paul defines himself as the Jew of Jews in his upbringing and you can read that in Philippians 3:4-6. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee, circumcised on the eighth day, zealous for the law and much more. He was not a convert to Judaism before he became a follower of Christ but he was a true born and bred Jew. So while there may be some uncertainty on the authorship of the gospels, the true expounder of the Christian faith most certainly understood Jewish thought and would have known the Oral Traditions as well as the Tanakh perhaps better than most Jews today (and even then) know them. The NT is most definitely Jewish in its roots and it draws on understandings of the Messiah that were prevalent in Jewish thought 200 years ago only in doing so it expands on them for the reality was so much better than the hope."


- Do you appreciate that what Paul said in the NT about his Jewish roots is utterly inaccurate? There is no evidence whatsoever that Paul even came from a Jewish family - there were hardly any Jews in Tarsus, as it happens. Nor is there any evidence at all that he was from the tribe of Benjamin.

Nor is there anything which indicates that Paul 'knew' the Tanakh.

I am venturing into another topic here, I know, but suffice to say that there is SO much incorrect information about Jewish religious law within the NT, especially surrounding the 'trial' of Jesus. No doubt we will discuss this in the near future....!

Whereas Jesus indeed knew Torah and teached basic Torah, Paul never showed ANY sign that he was conversant with Judaism. He was definitely not a Pharisee, as some claim. Indeed, interestingly, the stances adopted by Jesus on many issues were far more similar to that of the Pharisees than anything Paul is reported to have said!

Also, let me clarify what Alex said about the NT drawing upon the Jewish concept of 'maschiach'. Again, this is not the case.

In Hebrew 'maschiach' simply means 'anointed'. The Jewish concept of messiah has ALWAYS been most clear: the Jewish messiah is a normal, mortal man. He does not perform miracles (indeed, the Tanakh specifically warns against the Jews following anyone who offered miracles!).

The Jewish messiah gets ONE normal, *mortal* lifetime in which to fulfill the 23 Jewish prophecies. He MUST fulfill them before he dies - there is no 'second coming' in Judaism. Never has been.

Christianity revised the concept of 'maschiach'. This is clear. The Christian messiah is supposed to have been the 'son of god' and 'god incarnate', correct? He is believed to have died - then been resurrected. He is believed to have been born to a virgin. He is believed to have died for the sins of mankind.

**All** of these beliefs run counter to Judaism. The Torah makes it clear: NO MAN can EVER die for the sins of others. And in Judaism, it is in fact BLASPHEMY to state that G-d would ever take human form.

So no, the Christian scriptures do not develop or 'continue' the Jewish thinking on the nature of the 'maschiach'. The two religions have two entirely different ideas on this topic - and they will never agree on this. Judaism originated the idea of 'maschiach' thousands of years before Jesus was born. To argue that Christianity somehow 'continues' the Jewish idea makes no sense - as I've shown, Christianity contradicts the Jewish beliefs about the 'maschiach'.

Sorry for digressing - I just worry that if I don't at least try and address some of the points being raised along the way I won't return to them as I'll be too busy on the topic of sacrifice.

I'll be back later with my post addressing Ken's original post :)

curls said...

Hi, As a Jewish person I'd like to jump in. There is so much said here, that I can't possiblity addrees every point made, but I'll start.

Basically your interpretation of Judaism is mistaken at practically every turn. Blunt, but a big problem for Judaism in relating to Christians & to Christianity, is that Christians are taught in correctly & tend to "hear" through that lens, even if they have co-workers.

Judaism does not have a concept of original sin or inherent sin. Therefore any needs are for repentance for one's actions NOT a Christian defined need of sacrifice as above ALL. Sacrifices were made as an act of contrition, the showing statement of the repentance already done....not as appeasement for the sin itself. If one makes mistakes in life, then one is human, & that is okay. There is no hell, so no essential need to always be in a state of "grace", which is a Christian concept. An excellent explanation on this specific topic with Tanakh references is at www.whatjewsbelieve.org.

Ask your co-workers about other aspects of Judaism, only then will you start to understand it, rather than focusing on this one tiny patch of ground about sacrifices, so central to Christianity. Your missing out on ALL the depth that would make it easier to understand WHY this isn't central.

Two religions are quite different. Judaism has a "this world" focus. It's about establishing morality definitions for this world. The defintiions are much more specific, layed out, analyzed & defined than in Christianity. It's about repairing this world (tikkun olam), which is more than charity but extends to how to elevate this world at every turn with our personal actions. It's about philosophical debates on the unknowable using Torah as a guide, for which we won't come up with final answers. Judaism itself is a journey, not set of beliefs, and Torah is the story of our forefathers journey through spiritual growth as they gained new ideas from monotheism to the moral laws to greater understanding of them in Temple days. Example on morality being defined: Ask about Lashon Hara - not speaking incorrectly about others. It is much more complex than a concept of "don't gossip". Or ask how charity should be done - because that has been debated subtaintally & defined so that the receipent is not shamed & the giver doesn't go on an ego trip.

It is extremely frustrating to here non-Jews say THEY have a right to a CORRECT interpretation of our scriptures. That negative, imposing relationship to Judaism has been at the crux of attacks on Jews for centuries, so trust us when we exhaustedly tell you -- NO. Not only don't you understand our interpretations, but you don't understand, or even look at, the underlying morality of your words, when talking with us.

Consider how you would feel if some other religion had as it's base, the picking apart of your religion? Then say they didn't understand your religion at all? It makes one think of Christianity as a hateful piece of baloney. I've known Christians & the value of the religion. However, this aspect of it is, to my obervation, against the very concepts Jesus was supposedly teaching.

Back to Temple days & sacrifices, Paul's knowledge of Judaism as described in NT is completely lacking. So the book can not be used as an accurate historical description of the Jewish religion. Whatever the reasons for the way the book was written (including by God), one needs to go to JUDAISM to learn who it worked. Not to unproven statements that Jews has stopped thinking of repentance as needed & thinking of sacrifice as good enough. (What's bizarre is that Christians sometimes come to that conclusion for themselves.)

So why would God ask for animal sacrifices? First, animal sacrifices are a kosher killing of an animal so it is in a least painful way, cooking & eating, all with a thank you to God. So it's basically a BBQ with prayer. It is not a parallel to human sacrifices of the day where a live person was thrown on a fire to appease the Gods. So, when you take away the animal sacrifice itself, you're left with prayer still intact. Prayer was used before the Temple was destroyed when a person couldn't come to the Temple. Also, flour was substituted by those who choose (mostly financially). It is expressly stated (see site for verse reference) that blood was not required.

So, in Judaism at this point one can come up with classicly already thought of reasons to explain, or a newer one to debate. God asked for these in the Temple only. There are verses specifying that these commandments are to be done only in the Temple. So why ask for them, then stop?

During Temple days, Judaism was continuing it's spiritual journey of development that is described in the Tanakh & a large part of the point of the Tanakh. At this stage they were surrounded by ancient cultures using human sacrifice & sexual orgies to reach the Gods. Therefore to reach out to those people (other nations used the Temple to reach to God) & to keep Jews moving forward without totally losing them -- God asked for animal sacrifices. At the next step of the journey when prayer has now been fully implemented alongside the sacrifices, as Judaism was uprooted, there was no more need for this central action. People, Jews, were ready to move forward still armed for repentance but no longer needing the visible counter reference.

Agree or disagree, come up with your own reasons... However, do not base your reasons in Christian concepts of sin. At least not when talking about Jews. God gave US a different concept of sin & religious base. Maybe there is reason for both to exist.

Christianity is one long effort to obfuscate Judaism. Yet the basic underlying concepts do not line up. Making conversation extremely difficult.

I can go on for hours. I need to stop. I hope this gives you incentive to learn more about Judaism from another angle.

curls said...

On an explanation of why brought Christianity that is different than "replacement of a corrupt Judaism"...

So, Jews & Judaism was ready to move forward with prayer & no longer needed animal offerings as a counter point to human sacrifices of other religions.

Judaism was supposed to be a light unto other nations through it's actions (not thru converting others). However, if other nations were not stopping their human sacrifices quickly enough, God sent another religion & enabled Paul to spread it to the gentiles to prove a counter point to human sacrifice, Jesus's sacrifice. (I don't believe it ever happened, but that's totally irrelevant to this topic.) In this way, gentiles were able to stop their sacrifices & be brought forth on a journey of spiritual growth too. Maybe the countering of Judaism was needed at the time to enable the gentiles to accept this big shift in their thinking. However, maybe the extending of that beyond metaphoric to trying to overwrite Judaism itself, isn't wants intended by the scriptures.

God can create more than one pathway to him, & if he loves his children, he will give to each (each nation) what THEY need. In this way the Christian religion, does not need to overwrite the Jewish one in order to be meaningful & very valuable.

This is not a "Jewish" belief since Judaism makes -no- comment on Christianity itself. I wanted to get some thinking outside the box going. Also to incorporate so essential Jewish ideas, such as that God gives to each his children (nations is how it's worded in Torah) & that there can be more than one pathway to God.

Note too that Jews can experience the same high point of Christianity, the love of God. It is just that we don't go to/through Jesus. We experience it directly with God. Christians often don't seem to realize this - I've had several odd real life conversations this way. We also pray as a community & have a community & even global world relationship with God.

So another area to of Judaism to ask more about is our concept of God. It's actually quite different than the Christian one. A good starting place on Judaism is

www.jewfaq.org

I saw some sites mentioned above & they also are good resources.

I hope this helps.

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Thank you Tabatha, and a special thank you to Curls for attempting to answer the question posed head on. I really do appreciate that.

If you do not mind me asking, how did you all find this particular blog post? I am curious because it was originally written over 1 ½ years ago, was dormant for quite some time, and then recently sprung back to life. It hasn’t been on the front page of the Ministry blog for eons!

Tabatha,

I believe for the sake of all of our sanity, I am not even going to go into the digression you raise. I believe that if we go down too many alternate paths, we will lose track of our original goal. I would simply say that I could pull out many historical Jewish texts from before Jesus was born that I believe would show that what you call the “Christian” interpretation of your scriptures was actually the Jewish interpretation at that time, and only changed after Christianity was born. But as I said, that would take us down an entirely different road. Perhaps another day.

Curls,

Along the same lines, I will try to be brief so we do not get sidetracked. For that reason I am not even going to get into your claims about Paul’s alleged misunderstanding of Jewish tradition. Suffice it to say that I believe that in order to support your position you would also have to discard many old Jewish sources.

“Blunt, but a big problem for Judaism in relating to Christians & to Christianity, is that Christians are taught incorrectly & tend to ‘hear’ through that lens, even if they have co-workers.”

Respectfully, I see somewhat of a double standard here. You say that Christians only see things through their own lens, and yet I am the one inviting people with different “lenses” to converse with me, even on their perspective of the “Christian” scriptures. You and Tabatha seem to both be trying to restrict the dialogue on the Jewish scriptures to only people with the Jewish “lens,” so that only people with a like perspective are allowed to even give their “two cents.”

“Judaism does not have a concept of original sin or inherent sin.”

I have not argued otherwise. I agree that the Jewish interpretation of sin involves actions done while alive. In fact, that is the form my argument has taken so far. As I pointed out previously, if mankind is not perfect, then by logical necessity there will be some actions that they took during their lives that will require atonement, however we think that is done. Original sin or inherent sin has nothing to do with it. Does mankind sin? I think we both answer this question in the affirmative. Therefore, some level of atonement is necessary. That was the point I made previously.

“It is extremely frustrating to here [sic] non-Jews say THEY have a right to a CORRECT interpretation of our scriptures.”

I do not claim to have a “right” to anything. But I do claim that there IS a correct interpretation, whether it is the Christian interpretation, the Jewish interpretation, or some other third option. All I am saying is that contradictory interpretations cannot both be true. And I believe that when you call them “your” scriptures and try to prohibit anyone from outside your religious circle from even proposing an alternative idea, you are narrowing your investigation of the truth so that the only voices you listen to are those who agree with you. I fail to see how that can give you any security in the correctness of your position because you deny others the right to even challenge it. After all, it is probably more proper to say that the scriptures are “God’s” scriptures, not Jews’ or Christians’. God is the creator of everyone, Jew and Gentile alike.

“Consider how you would feel if some other religion had as it's base, the picking apart of your religion?”

That is precisely what Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses do every day, and I have no problem with it whatsoever. I will engage them in a healthy discussion about our different views, but I would never deny them the right to present their position in the first place by saying these are “Christian” scriptures, so you do not even have the right to tell me your opinion. In fact, only recently I was quite upset when a couple of Mormon missionaries came to my house when I wasn’t home, my wife asked them to come back that evening when I would be there (they said they would), but they did not return. I openly welcome the opportunity for this type of dialogue.

“So why would God ask for animal sacrifices? First, animal sacrifices are a kosher killing of an animal so it is in a least painful way, cooking & eating, all with a thank you to God. So it's basically a BBQ with prayer.”

And here I truly commend your work. You really do face the issue head on, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that.

Would you agree with me, though, that there has to be something more going on here than just kosher killing and eating? After all, God had already ordered that, and Jews were doing that as part of every meal, with no reference whatsoever to it having anything to do with atonement. This is something that had to happen (as you pointed out) at the Temple under certain prescribed circumstances. So this was more than merely a meal.

“At this stage [the Jews] were surrounded by ancient cultures using human sacrifice & sexual orgies to reach the Gods. Therefore to reach out to those people (other nations used the Temple to reach to God) & to keep Jews moving forward without totally losing them -- God asked for animal sacrifices. At the next step of the journey when prayer has now been fully implemented alongside the sacrifices, as Judaism was uprooted, there was no more need for this central action. People, Jews, were ready to move forward still armed for repentance but no longer needing the visible counter reference.”

This is a very eloquent explanation of your viewpoint and you should be applauded for it. I can actually agree with quite a bit of your content here. I agree, for example, that the animal sacrifice system set up by God certainly, at least as a practical effect, allowed God to keep the Jews walking down the path he wanted them to go but doing so in a manner that was somewhat familiar to them based upon what was happening in the surrounding cultures.

You say “at the next step” repentance was “implemented alongside sacrifices.” Are you arguing that initially repentance was not required to accompany the sacrifices? This would be different from what Tabatha has thus far argued, so I want to make sure we are all clear on each of your positions.

If I understand your position correctly, you are saying that the atonement procedures evolved in the following order:

(1) Sacrifice only
(2) Sacrifice plus repentance
(3) Repentance only

Please let me know if this is correct.

Can you please direct me to somewhere in the Torah where these shifts occurred? Where does God say, “From now on sacrifice alone is insufficient, now you must include repentance as well”? Similarly, where does He say, “Now that you have been doing both sacrifice and repentance for a while, you no longer need to offer the sacrifices”?

One problem I see is that the scriptures routinely relied upon to argue that repentance will suffice instead of sacrifice tend to have a very disappointed tone to them. In other words, God seems to be expressing His disappointment with the Jews over their lack of repentance. Why would God be disappointed over something He had not yet told them to do in the first place? In other words, there has to be a “first command.” There must be a “first time” that God told the Jews to start including repentance (similar to His initial commands to Adam and Eve in the Garden) free of judgment or disappointment (because they could not have fallen short of a standard He was only first setting). Where is this “first” scripture? When I read the scriptures, I do not see any such clear division of phases in the manner of atonement.

Also, if Jews really were “ready to move forward still armed for repentance but no longer needing the visible counter reference” (i.e., the sacrifices) as you claim, then why does God scold them for their LACK of repentance? It seems from these scriptures that they were NOT ready to move on to a repentance-only system.

“…as Judaism was uprooted, there was no more need for this central action.”

Then why did Jews return to it? Jews were first “uprooted” in the exiles to Assyria and Babylon. During that time, there was no Temple, so they could not engage in sacrifices. Then after they were allowed to return to Jerusalem, Ezra led them in the rebuilding of the Temple and the sacrificial system was reinstituted. If the phases moved from “sacrifice plus repentance” to simply “repentance” when the Jews were uprooted, why then did they go back to “sacrifice plus repentance” when they returned? If the “uprooting” you are referring to was when the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, then that would mean they were still in the “sacrifice only” or “sacrifice plus repentance” stage when they were exiled to Assyria and Babylon. But that would mean that a sacrifice was still necessary but not being made. Were the Jews able to adequately atone for their sins during this time period?

Finally, if “Sacrifices were made as an act of contrition, the showing statement of the repentance already done....not as appeasement for the sin itself,” then why sometimes allow a priest to make them on behalf of the people instead of requiring the people to make them themselves? I understand your position that the sacrifice can be an outward expression of the inward repentance. After all, the sinning individual is giving up something of value to him or herself and offering it to God. This will “hurt” and can indicate (if they do so willingly) that they are truly sorry. But this has no applicability whatsoever when a priest offers a sacrifice on behalf of all the people (as in Leviticus 16:16). In that case the person who actually committed the sin is not giving up anything. Again, there must be something more going on here.

Thank you both again for your comments. I apologize that I did not succeed in my goal to be brief, but this just goes to show all the more why I do not think we should start traveling down side paths.

Ken

Tabatha said...

Ken,

LOL LOL - the reason that you're probably suddenly getting more responses on your original post is that someone (Alex?!) posted a link to this blog and article on Yahoo Answers! I saw it and so did several others and of course, we felt it only right to try our best to answer your questions on our religion. So that's why you're suddenly getting more Jewish visitors than perhaps normal!

------------------------------

I have something on sacrifice in Judaism to post now but first, just to briefly address one comment you made...

You have suggested that Jewish scripture/belief was 'changed' after Jesus. This is nonsensical, I'm afraid.

The Jews were, as you already know, scattered across the globe. Yet from Iraq to Russia to Sweden to Japan ALL Jews have now and always did have the same scriptures and beliefs. These communities had NO contact with each other, so it makes no sense for you to suggest that somehow the Jewish scriptures got 'changed'
and then that the exact same 'changes' showed up in Jewish texts across the planet!

In addition, the material found as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls proves that the Jewish scriptures have remained UNchanged since before the time of Jesus.

And in all candour, the very implication that you make is rather insulting to Judaism. Why on earth would we need to change our texts?
Answer: we did not need to, and we did not DO so.

Please do read again my post on the nature of the Jewish messiah. You will see that the concept of 'maschiach' bears NO relation to the Christian idea of 'messiah'.

Now to Judaism, this does not matter. We respect the rights of all other faiths to their beliefs - we do not need Christianity to agree with us on the concept of 'maschiach'.

It is Christianity that for over 2000 years has tried its best, sometimes with fatal results, to get US to agree that Jesus was the messiah.

So again, I ask: why on earth would we 'change' our religion/texts when frankly, it makes no difference to us whether Christianity agrees or not?

I'm sure that if you read your post back you will in fact realise that to even imply, let alone pretty much state, that Judaism deliberately altered its own scriptures was an insulting thing to say...

The suggestion also grossly over-estimates the Jewish response TO Christianity. Judaism respects Christianity. And all that we have ever asked is for that same respect to be shown to us in return. And I'm afraid that, again, for you to suggest that the Christian interpretation OF the JEWISH scriptures might be the 'objectively correct' one is deeply disrespectful.

Christianity uses a translation of a translation, in the form of the 'old testament'.

Jews study the original Tanakh IN the original Hebrew. The Tanakh was written by Jews, for Jews, about Jews.

Yet you really do believe that Christianity understands the Jewish scriptures better than Judaism???

That's like telling an Italian person who reads a text IN Italian, that you can read a translation of that Italian and yet understand it more fully than they do!

------------------------------

OK, here is some information specifically on sacrifice in Judaism. I think and hope that it does address some of your queries - if it does not, please do say so and I will attempt to clarify further.

KORBANOT (sacrifice)

This is a most interesting topic. The Rambam, probably the most revered Jewish theologian and Torah commentator ever, suggested that the element of sacrifice in Judaism was allowed as a way of containing man's more 'primitive' desires.

Indeed, as you probably know, sacrifice predates the Torah. Cain and Abel offered sacrifices, as did Noah and his sons. When the laws defining the nature of sacrifice were given to the Jews in the Torah, this system of offering sacrifices was known and accepted.

The Torah, and Judaism did not establish the practise of sacrifice; rather it defined and limited it so that sacrifices could be offered only at specific places, times and by specific people. The Rambam says that maybe these limitations were in order to draw the Jews away from the Paganistic rites of their neighbours.


To understand the Jewish nature of sacrifice fully, we need to look at the actual Hebrew word. 'Korbanot' comes from the root of qof reish beit - this means to 'draw near'. And this coveys the main reason for the offerings: to draw us closer to G-d.

So there are three basic concepts underlying qorbanot: giving, substitution and drawing closer to G-d.

Giving: the Korban involves giving away something belonging to the person making the sacrifice. This is why domestic and not wild animals were offered; as of course wild animals don't belong to anyone. Similarly, food offerings were usually a meal or flour, which required work to prepare.


Substitution: One basic notion is that thing being offered is a substitute for the person making the sacrifice. Anything done to the offering, 'should' have been done to the person instead. Thus the offering is 'punished' in place of the offerer.


Drawing closer:

One popular misconception is that sacrifices were just to gain forgiveness from sins. Although this was true for some Korbanot, in addition there were other reasons.

Often, Korbanot had the purpose of praising G-d - just as prayer did and does. It was an expression of thanks, love and gratitude. Korbanot were also offered to celebrate festivals and holidays.


Korbanot and 'sin'

Sacrifices were only used for unintentional sins. No atonement was ever required for sins committed under duress or lack of knowledge.

***** Crucially, Korbanot could ONLY work IF the person making the offering genuinely repented his or her actions before making the sacrifice. They also had to offer some form of restitution to anyone who was harmed by the sin or error they committed.

As well as my own info on this topic, I have also made use of the following sites, which I list here in case they are of interest:
http://www.askmoses.com
http://www.virtualjewishlibrary.org/

Ten Minas Ministries said...

I have to give something of an apology. Upon re-reading my initial comments about the "double standard" I realized that they could have been phrased more delicately. While I continue to stand by the logical point made, upon re-reading it I believe a certain "tone" could be read into it which was certainly not my intention. So to the extent anyone takes those comments to be attacking, insulting or belittling, I apologize. My intent was not to do so, but rather to simply provide a response to Curls' point with which I did not agree.

Ken

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Tabatha,

For clarification (I have not yet finished reading you latest comment) I am not claiming that the Jewish SCRIPTURES changed. You are correct, they did not (as you correctly point out is demonstrated by the Dead Sea Scrolls). I am suggesting that the INTERPRETATION of those scriptures changed. There are examples of non-scriptural texts before Christ was born, for example, suggesting that Isaiah 53 refers to the Messiah, something I have seen many modern Jews deny. That is all I was suggesting and I apologize for any confusion in my sloppy phrasing.

Ken

Tabatha said...

Ken,

Do you know how many Christians bring up Isaiah 53 and genuinely seem to conclude that they have 'proved' something?

It's really quite strange.

Again, the answer is quite clear: when we read the original Hebrew we see that again and again, the 'suffering servant' is ISRAEL.

This is made clear over and over and over.

If you try reading Isaiah IN context, as opposed to the way the pages have been REorganised in the OT, then you can easily see this for yourself.

Look at this discussion from my viewpoint:

I come across a link which leads me to your very articulate and interesting article on Jewish atonement etc.

In this post you clearly and openly state that you welcome answers from Jews so that you can better understand Judaism and Jewish belief.

I then respond, as have a few other Jews. What happens next? You THEN state that the 'objectively correct' interpretation of the JEWISH scriptures is the CHRISTIAN interpretation - and moreover, you then state that you can 'show' that in fact, Judaism has 'changed' its interpretation of its OWN texts!

So I ask you: if that is your position, why ask for Jews to clarify Jewish belief for you?

Clearly, you don't believe a word we say because you hold the utterly incorrect and insulting idea that Judaism went and 'altered' its OWN BELIEFS in order to... what, precisely...? Thwart Christianity?

Do me a favour.

Can you SEE how impossible it is for any Jew to have a good natured debate under these conditions?

Your premise is that EITHER Judaism has incorrectly interpreted the Jewish Tanakh OR that Judaism has 'CHANGED' its interpretation of the Tanakh.

So you leave NO room for the - brace yourself! - possibility that gasp! JUDAISM CORRECTLY DEFINES JEWISH SCRIPTURE AND BELIEF.

Tabatha said...

Apologies for 'shouting' in my previous post.

I'm sure that when you read that post you will appreciate why I 'raised my voice'....!

There is a website I think you might find interesting if you haven't already seen it. It is http://www.outreachjudaism.org/

There is a Q&A forum where a Rabbi addresses questions put by non Jews; he is especially good at understanding both the Jewish and Christian viewpoints and I know a lot of Jews and non Jews enjoy his posts; I recommend it :)

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Tabatha,

Thank you for your continued participation. Allow me to respond to a few of your latest comments.

"Please do read again my post on the nature of the Jewish messiah. You will see that the concept of 'maschiach' bears NO relation to the Christian idea of 'messiah'."

I agree that the Jewish understanding of the Messiah was of a human leader. But that is not the question. Are the scriptures the Jews' books or God's books? If they are God's books, why do you keep resorting back to how the Jews interpreted them instead of trying to ask what God meant by them? If the important question is what God meant by them, the God who created all humanity, why do you believe that Jews have the sole license, the be all and end all, to determine what they mean? So the point here is not what did the OT Jews believe the Messiah was going to be but rather what did God mean the Messiah was going to be? The only time I bring up what historic Judaism believed is to counter arguments that Jews have "always believed x," or similar arguments.

I've already addressed your concerns about Jews "changing" their scriptures. That is not what I meant and I hope that is cleared up.

"And I'm afraid that, again, for you to suggest that the Christian interpretation OF the JEWISH scriptures might be the 'objectively correct' one is deeply disrespectful."

If you will take it as an insult for someone to even propose that you may be mistaken and offer an alternative, then may I ask whether you will ever open yourself to the possibility that you may be wrong? If you are not willing to even consider the possibility, then there really is no point to any further dialogue. If you are open to the possibility, then why take offense when someone tries to politely discuss it with you?

"Christianity uses a translation of a translation, in the form of the 'old testament'. Jews study the original Tanakh IN the original Hebrew."

This is simply not true. Christians study the Old Testament in the original Hebrew too; not just the Greek Septuagint or English translations (and by the way, none of the modern translations are based upon the Septuagint, they are all based upon the original Hebrew). This is not to say that all Christians understand Hebrew, but it is a pretty standard course in seminary.

"The Tanakh was written by Jews, for Jews, about Jews."

This comment may explain the heart of our disagreement. I do not see the Tanakh as written "by Jews," but rather as written "by God through Jews." I also do not see it solely as "about Jews." Doesn't God say that He will bless the world through Abraham's descendants? Not just the Jews but the world? He is the God of everyone, not just the Jews. Genesis tells how He created everyone, not just the Jews. If you believe your own scriptures to be true, then do you also accept He is the God of all of us? If this is true, why do you continue to insist upon "ownership" of His divinely revealed Word to the exclusion of all His other people?

"To understand the Jewish nature of sacrifice fully, we need to look at the actual Hebrew word. 'Korbanot' comes from the root of qof reish beit - this means to 'draw near'. And this coveys the main reason for the offerings: to draw us closer to G-d."

We have common ground here. Christians would agree that one purpose of Christ's sacrifice was to bring us closer to God.

"Substitution: One basic notion is that thing being offered is a substitute for the person making the sacrifice. Anything done to the offering, 'should' have been done to the person instead. Thus the offering is 'punished' in place of the offerer."

Again, more common ground. Christians can agree to this too. In fact, I believe this presents a problem for Curls' notion that the sacrifices were an outward manifestation of the inward repentance because that idea does not contain any element of substitution. So I am pleased to see that we can agree that there was a substitutionary role for the sacrifices in terms of transferring the punishment that the offeror deserved onto the offering.

"Crucially, Korbanot could ONLY work IF the person making the offering genuinely repented [of] his or her actions before making the sacrifice."

Precisely. I agree. But this brings us back to the original question. You admit here that a sacrifice had to be accompanied by genuine repentance in order to be effective. Elsewhere you have argued, though, that repentance alone was an alternative, sufficient method of atonement and that the sacrifice was not necessary. So if the sacrifice was ineffective without repentance, but repentance alone would suffice, what purpose was served by the sacrifice? I believe your comments bring us full circle right back to the main point of the original post, but we are still without an answer. I am still very much interested in learning how Judaism would resolve this dilemma, but at the moment I feel as if I have gotten two completely different explanations of the atonement from you and Curls, neither of which solves the dilemma.

"Sacrifices were only used for unintentional sins."

I disagree with this, but we've already covered this ground previously (i.e. Leviticus 16:16) so I won't rehash it again.

"Do you know how many Christians bring up Isaiah 53 and genuinely seem to conclude that they have 'proved' something? It's really quite strange. Again, the answer is quite clear: when we read the original Hebrew we see that again and again, the 'suffering servant' is ISRAEL."

Actually, I never claimed to have "proved" anything with Isaiah 53. I never even offered my personal interpretation of it. I simply pointed out that Jews before Jesus walked the earth interpreted it as applying to the Messiah. You are correct that modern Jews claim that it applied to Israel as a whole (an interpretation that I also disagree with, but that would be going down another side path). So again you are claiming that I am resorting to some "Christianized" interpretation of the Jewish scriptures when in reality I am citing a Jewish interpretation of the Jewish scriptures, and one that predates Jesus. However, modern day Jews no longer hold to the interpretation that many historical leaders of their faith believed. I make no conclusions about why that is. I simply point out that when modern Jews state that these interpretations have "always" been present, that is not correct.

"You THEN state that the 'objectively correct' interpretation of the JEWISH scriptures is the CHRISTIAN interpretation."

Actually, my exact quote was, "I do not claim to have a 'right' to anything. But I do claim that there IS a correct interpretation, whether it is the Christian interpretation, the Jewish interpretation, or some other third option. All I am saying is that contradictory interpretations cannot both be true."

Logically, there must be a correct interpretation. And yes, I believe it to be the Christian interpretation. I fully expect that you will believe it is the Jewish interpretation. I do genuinely want to understand the Jewish interpretation. The fact that I currently see what I believe to be an inconsistency in it does not mean I am not open to that inconsistency being cleared up.

My biggest issue with the arguments I have heard in these comments is the very postmodern idea of limiting truth to your particular narrative and refusing to acknowledge that there may be an objective metanarrative that applies.

"Can you SEE how impossible it is for any Jew to have a good natured debate under these conditions? Your premise is that EITHER Judaism has incorrectly interpreted the Jewish Tanakh OR that Judaism has 'CHANGED' its interpretation of the Tanakh. So you leave NO room for the - brace yourself! - possibility that gasp! JUDAISM CORRECTLY DEFINES JEWISH SCRIPTURE AND BELIEF."

Why does the possibility that Judaism has incorrectly interpreted the Jewish Tanakh make it impossible to have a good natured debate? Perhaps you can answer this question for me: How exactly are we supposed to "debate" if we do not disagree? In one breath you tell me that I have no "right" to even question the Jewish interpretation of the Jewish scriptures, saying that it is "disrespectful" for me to do so. You then go on to say that if I would only be respectful, you would be happy to debate me. But under your definition of "respectful" what exactly would we be debating? What you have told me is that you would be happy to debate me as long as I do not voice any disagreement with your views. Where is the "debate" in that?

It is a very postmodern belief that it is "rude" to even politely voice disagreement with someone, but this belief only leads to the suppression of the marketplace of ideas. It makes us feel good because no one ever tells us we are wrong, but we can never make any progress toward discovering what the truth actually is if we only surround ourselves with proverbial "yes men."

You insinuate that I am not open to the possibility that Judaism correctly defines Jewish scripture and belief. Of course I am. That is why I asked the question in the first place. This is not exactly threatening to my faith in Jesus. It is not like my entire belief in Christianity hinges on the consistency or inconsistency of the modern Jewish notions of the atonement. But are you open to the possibility that Judaism may incorrectly define "Jewish" scripture? If I even propose any other possible interpretations you say I am being disrespectful and you are offended. I have not cast any dispersions. I have not belittled the reasoning abilities of Jews, their personal moral codes or anything else. I have simply proposed the possibility that they may have arrived at the wrong conclusion. For this I am called (by various posters here) disrespectful (this one came up more times than I could count), nonsensical, negative, imposing, not even looking at the morality of my words, insulting, and absurd. You say that you are open to debate, but when I present an alternative viewpoint, these various comments are thrown my way, all the time insinuating that I am the one being disrespectful. How do you expect to engage in a debate about Jewish scriptures if you are the only one allowed to voice an opinion?

Let me close with one example. Both you and Curls questioned what you have referred to as the "Christian" scriptures when you questioned whether Paul was really Jewish, whether he was a Pharisee or whether he had any understanding of Jewish scripture. These are obviously points made in the "Christian" scriptures, yet you felt free to question them. Did I ever try to deny you this right? Did I ever tell you that as a non-Christian, you did not have the right to even raise these objections, or that you were somehow rude or disrespectful for doing so? No, I did not. Yet even though you reserve the privilege to yourselves to criticize the "Christian" scriptures, you deny others the right to criticize what you call the "Jewish" scriptures. I hope that if you reflect upon this concrete example of arguments you have actually presented in these comments you will see how valuable and necessary it is to willingly open up your belief system to outside criticism. You obviously see that value when criticizing Christianity. In return you must allow that criticism to be presented against Judaism as well.

Thank you again and God bless.

Ken

Curls said...

Brief:)?

I will address only a few things.

"though one's own lens". Obviously people see things through their own lens & can miss the point that way. This is why diversity is important in bringing in new ideas -- because no matter how hard one tries one sees through the eyes of their life experinces. Your perception is clearly filtered to the point that you aren't always "hearing" what's actually said. ...something to consider & which I explained how to get past by asking more meaningful questions about Judaism.

The concept of original sin is what triggers the need for salvation, a concept non-existent in Judaism. Therefore this difference in definition of sin is "critical". It makes it possible for mere mortal actions, & not a God-human sacrifice to be needed in order to right the wrongs of us humans.

Quote: "But I do claim that there IS a correct interpretation [...] All I am saying is that contradictory interpretations cannot both be true."

In Judaism it is assumed there WILL be more than one interpretations of all sorts of things, sometimes contradictory. Second it is assumed that we do not know all, & may not figure out what is true. Everything in life is interpretation & on many levels. This too is true of the Torah. Each passage is read & understood on many levels in many ways. It is more important to find new depth, than to argue someone else's interpretations can't exist.

Mormons & JVs do not have at their base picking apart of your religion. They have contradicts they try to sell to you. They share quite a bit with Christanity.

Given the history of abuse of Jews by Christianity, I would think you would have worked harded to understand what I said, instead of attacking Jews as intolerant. We have no issue with Christinaity having an intepretation of whatever it wants. However,
1. It insists on beating us up on our interperations.
2. It insists we place it's interpetations on level with ours -- when it doesn't use the same techniques or original meanings in any way. So they don't fit in at all.
3. It goes much deeper than door to door conversations. It is the base of the way the religion is expressed, which says Judaism is to be eliminated as corrupted & wrong. It has lead to a lot of violence & we have no reason to tolerant it any further, even verbally. That you equate this to your willingness to talk to Mormons is an insult to Jews, especially those who died from these beliefs of Christanity.

Quote: "You say “at the next step” repentance was “implemented alongside sacrifices.” "

No, I said prayer as a tool was implemented along side animal sacrifices as a tool. Therefore a swap in tools was possible. I had already established the role of repentance separately. It did not disagree with Tabatha's. Go back to my sentence about contrition vs. appeasement. You are mixing up apples & oranges by equating only prayer or sacrifices, with repentance & not the act of making amends, with repentence.

Contrition is NOT about giving up something of worth to oneself in order to feel hurt. THAT is appeasement. Contrition is simply restating in a public way, in a subservant way, that we needed to do the repentance that we have already done. It's a public pronouncement of what has already been acknowledged to oneself. It's the buying of flowers after resolving the issue to repeat "I'm sorry", vs. buying of flowers as the resolving & apology. Or in the case of the high priests, it's a reinforcement of the intent of those who'd already done the hard work of drawing together with intent. It's a messy slightly inaccurate explanation, but look up the definiton of contrition, & that should work.

I don't know what you mean by disappointed. We do as God commanded & he commanded these within the Temple. The idea of rebuilding the Temple is to recreate a central community place. That is needed. However, for whatever reason the Temple isn't there now & God was quite clear that that is only where the sacrifices should occur. One can only assume that this is what God wished & that he gave us prayer & we should be thankful for that.

Scolded -- going forward always had it's blips -- he did a lot of scolding after Mt. Sinai too. That doesn't mean the pathway was wrong but that the ablity to follow them was still developing. Again, not sure what you're referring to.

Have you taken time to read the links Tabatha gave yet. It really is a shame to say you want to know what Judaism thinks, but not to go to experts at explaining (as compared to our attempts).

Tabatha said...

As usual I will return later with a full response but for now:

I can easily answer why the Christian interpretation cannot be the correct understanding of the Jewish scriptures:

Judaism began with a national revelation: G-d spoke to a huge gathering of Jews, all of whom heard his voice when he gave them the Torah. The Torah is, for Jews, the DIRECT voice of G-d.

And in the Torah, it specifically states: G-d 'is NOT a man'.

G-d does not take human form. G-d does not visit earth in the shape of a young Jewish preacher and impregnate a young Jewish woman.

We Jews believe this because of what G-d himself made clear to us.

This was thousands of years before Jesus was born and so when Christianity states that Jesus was 'god incarnate' then this is a blatant contradiction of what G-D told us at Mt Sinai.

Also: Christianity says that Jesus died for the sins of mankind - correct?

Again, this runs counter to Judaism and what G-d himself told us. No human can die for the sins of others. No human can be 'divine'. Indeed, this idea is blasphemy for any Jew.

So to recap: as Christian belief blatantly violates what G-d TOLD us, it makes no sense for you to suggest that in fact, the Christian interpretation of the Jewish Tanakh can be the 'right one'.

We believe what G-d himself told us. If G-d states he is 'not a man', then we take him at his word.

------------------------------------

Re the OT

I'm afraid I do have to correct you slightly: NOT ALL versions of the OT are a direct and accurate translation of the original Hebrew.

Yes, some are - in fact, in recent years quite a few Christian bibles have revised their text to bring them into line with the Hebrew.

For example: in Isaiah, in the original Hebrew, there is no mention of any 'virgin' giving birth. The Hebrew word used is 'almah', which means 'young woman'.

Historically, though, Christianity always mistranslated this and put it as a 'virgin' gave birth. But recently a number of Christian bibles revised this and now they too have the accurate translation of 'young woman'.

But some versions still have 'virgin' and this is objectively an incorrect translation.

So no, the OT is not always a direct and accurate translation.

-------------------------------

Re Paul in the NT

You mentioned that I challenged what the NT says about Paul.

But this was just because you were using the NT define something about Judaism. So naturally I had to clarify. I have no desire nor need to try and find fault with the NT *but* if you use it to define anything about Judaism, and if the info given there is simply incorrect, then yes, of course I will address it.

---------------------------------

Re Korbanot

Can I make sure I'm understanding your basic question?

You're asking - I think! - why, if sacrifice alone was sufficient, there was a need for sacrifices to start with?

I think the answer really comes down to a question of what was possible at the time. The sacrifices brought the offerers closer to G-d. But with no temple, and thus no sacrifice, obviously prayer and repentance still remained. Instead of three things, there were two.

Just because we can also use prayer and repentance alone, it doesn't mean the sacrifices were superflous. They were helpful, they were useful, clearly they were important at that time - but when it was simply not possible to perform them as required, it didn't detract from the other ways of atoning.

Does that help to answer your original query about sacrifice?

Tabatha said...

- just to revise one word; your original question was: if **repentance** alone was sufficient, then why was sacrifice needed to start with?

In my last post I put 'sacrifice' instead of 'repentance', so just ignore that error :)

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Curls,

"In Judaism it is assumed there WILL be more than one interpretations of all sorts of things, sometimes contradictory. Second it is assumed that we do not know all, & may not figure out what is true."

I agree with your second statement, but not your first. We are finite creatures. God is infinite. So inevitably there is a need for divine revelation for some knowledge that we can never arrive at on our own. But we do not "throw out the baby with the bathwater." The fact that we cannot know everything does not mean that we cannot know anything.

If I told you my wife was not pregnant, but someone else told you she was pregnant would you assume that both statements are simultaneously true? You would likely assume that if it turned out that she really was pregnant, then I did not know, or else we did not want it public yet, etc. But you would not assume that she was both pregnant and not pregnant at the same time. One or the other can be true, but not both.

Yes, there will be multiple interpretations, and yes some will contradict each other. But the fact that they contradict each other tells us that they cannot all be correct. At least some of them must be false. Two contradictory statements may both be false, but they cannot both be true. That is my point. Nobody should ever be denied the right to raise their own viewpoint, but considering the logical necessity that contradictory views cannot both be true, why get offended by the mere dialogue of competing interpretations?

No, I have not read the links Tabatha sent yet, but that is because I have a day job, and I am hoping to get to it this weekend. However, our conversation has inspired me enough that while on that day job I asked a Jewish friend of mine to "hook me up" with a Rabbi acquaintance of hers so that I can address some of these questions to him. I think a personal one to one would be the most productive arena. Your comment "It really is a shame to say you want to know what Judaism thinks, but not to go to experts at explaining (as compared to our attempts)" was wrong. In fact, you seemed to assume I hadn't tried to get answers from "experts" without even waiting for my answer. In fact, I have taken steps to try to consult an "expert", and to do so face to face.

"Mormons & JVs do not have at their base picking apart of your religion. They have contradicts they try to sell to you. They share quite a bit with Christianity."

I am not sure what you mean by "contradicts", but actually Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are a very apt example of how you describe Christianity versus Judaism. Both Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses claim to be Christian. But they have VERY different concepts of the nature of God, the identity of Christ, the meaning of salvation, the path to salvation, our relationship to God, and our ultimate destiny (in other words, they differ from Christianity in just about all of the "essentials"). The fact that they also use the word "Christ" to refer to Jesus does not mean they are the same. They routinely tell us that our interpretation of scripture is wrong, so much so that the Jehovah's Witnesses have even come up with their own translation. They believe all other translations are not accurate and lead to an incorrect theology. So in reality they do at their base pick apart Christianity.

"It goes much deeper than door to door conversations. It is the base of the way the religion is expressed, which says Judaism is to be eliminated as corrupted & wrong."

I do not know where you are learning about Christianity from. Have you consulted any Christian "experts", because this statement could not be further from the truth? I have, unfortunately come across many Jews who feel this way, and it is regrettable. Actually, many Christian groups rally to support Israel, for example, in its conflicts with surrounding nations, and given that Christians believe that God's Holy Word was revealed first to the Jews, there should at a minimum be a level of respectful admiration for the Jewish people.

"Given the history of abuse of Jews by Christianity, I would think you would have worked harder to understand what I said, instead of attacking Jews as intolerant."

"It has lead to a lot of violence & we have no reason to tolerant it any further, even verbally."

I thought I should copy these two of your statements side by side so you can take another look at exactly what you said.

First, when did I ever say Jews were "intolerant"? My presentation up to this point has merely been attempting to argue that any people, Jew or otherwise, if they truly want to know if their worldview is true or not, must open it up to outside criticism. I never said Jews were "intolerant" (another postmodern catch phrase, I might add).

Second, right after you stated that I called Jews intolerant, you went on to say that Jews have no reason to tolerate Christians any further, even verbally! So you argued that Jews are not intolerant (a proposition with which I agree), but then went on to say that they should not be tolerant of Christians!

I agree that there has historically been much violence against Jews in the ALLEGED name of Christianity, and it has been disgraceful. But as Ravi Zacharias once said, a worldview should be evaluated based upon the teachings of its founder, not upon its abuse by its followers. In other words, when people committed these atrocious acts against Jews, they were not acting in accordance with Jesus' teachings. I am sure you would not like all of Judaism to be judged based upon its least appealing alleged adherents. All I can ask is that you do the same for Christianity and understand that when people did those things they were acting CONTRARY to what Christianity teaches, no matter what they claimed.

You seem to be very hostile toward Christianity, and I do not believe I would be doing either of us a service to keep lobbing our positions back and forth. It seems there is absolutely nothing I can say without offending you, so I think it is best to end our conversation. As I said before, I love all creatures made in God's image, including you Curls. I pray that one day you will be able to see that Christians are not your enemy, and there is nothing wrong with having an open dialogue about where we agree and where we disagree. It is nothing you need to take offense over. It is simply the marketplace of ideas doing its work to help us arrive as close to the truth as our finite minds can achieve.

Tabatha,

Thank you for your comments. They were very insightful and quite helpful.

I understand that the Jewish understanding is that God did not become man. This is exactly the type of dialogue that I believe to be healthy. This is what I have been urging this entire time; no one should be afraid to put their ideas "out there," and we certainly should not be insulted simply because someone disagrees.

My question for you in response to your ideas, then, would be how you account for Isaiah 9:6-7 when the prophet says that the Messiah shall be called "Mighty God"? True, some earthly rulers were referred to as gods (although I believe this would be frowned upon by the one true God as contrary to His commandments), but Isaiah goes on to say that this person shall reign "forever", clearly not possible for any human king. This passage must be referring to the Messiah because it says that this person shall reign on David's throne, a privilege reserved for the Messiah.

"No human can die for the sins of others."

Alex already addressed this, so I won't rehash it again.

In regard to "almah", yes you are correct that it can be translated "young woman," but are you aware that this term is never used in scripture to refer to a young MARRIED woman? If a woman was unmarried, at least in that culture, it would be assumed that she was a virgin.

Also, your statement that "Christianity" is responsible for this alleged "mistranslation" is also not correct. The Septuagint (the pre-Christian Jewish translation of the scriptures into Greek) translated this term as "virgin" (in Greek). This is the translation that was largely in use at Jesus' time. So it was the Jews at that time that understood this term to mean "virgin." The Christians did not create that idea.

If you do not mind me asking, when did I use the New Testament to define anything about Judaism? I may stand corrected, but I believe I tried to make it very clear that I was only relying upon Old Testament scriptures, even to the point of providing a list of the scriptures I relied upon.

Thank you for your clarification about the notion of sacrifice. You have correctly understood my question, and I am grateful for your answer. I guess my "sticking point" is this: I believe (and you may or may not agree, perhaps you can elucidate on Jewish theology on this for me), that mankind are mere stewards of God's creation. In other words, everything in this world ultimately belongs to God. We are mere caretakers. Because we are caretakers, we are to respect His creation and not needlessly abuse it, destroy it, etc. For example, we are to respect the environment because, while we are allowed to use it responsibly, it does not belong to us and we cannot overstep our bounds.

So if God wanted us to learn to respect His creation and not abuse it unnecessarily, and if repentance alone was sufficient, why order sacrifice in the first place? Why not just institute a plan of repentance-only atonement "from the get go"?

I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thank you again.

Ken

Alex Millington said...

Hi again all, it seems about time that I jumped back in with some comments/thoughts. I can't believe how much has been said in the last two days!

First off, Ken, I think the rising of the Phoenix of this blog entry is probably my doing... I often visit a question and answer site called Yahoo!Answers and in a question asked by a Christian on the Jewish idea of atonement I linked to your blog saying that it had helped me clarify some of my thoughts while unfortunately still not posing any answers to my questions. It seems some of the Jews who visit that site did indeed come here to see what I was linking to and perhaps try and provide some of those answers :o) Personally, I found this blog on a link from Google when searching for some information on the Jewish concept of atonement and as I said in my first post, found it a really interesting read with some well thought through arguments - similar to those that C.S. Lewis might have raised (I believe you must be a fan).

Anyway, to the issues at hand. It seems that there are many many things that have been raised that have side-tracked us from the original question and it seems that some of these come from either misunderstandings of the Christian theology regarding how various sacrifices were antitypes of Jesus and also whether the New Testament has any authority to tell us anything about the Old Testament scriptures. On this basis I propose that we set Jesus and any theology of atonement through his work on the cross to one side. Let us also do the same with any of the writings of Paul. Let us assume that these writings have no more authority than any book written by J.K. Rowling for example and say that all they could do is raise questions about atonement that then ought to be addressable and resolvable - at least to some degree.

So, if I may now summarise the position's held (or at least my understanding of them).

In the Tanakh God commanded to the people of Israel that they make sacrifices (a holy kosher barbeque if you will) to Him as a response for thanksgiving, tithing and sin or guilt. For all of these offerings it was possible that if a person was not sufficiently weathly that they could bring a cow, sheep or bird, they could bring an offering of grain or flour. There was only one sacrifice where no alernative was offered and that was the sacrifice to be offered by the High Priest for the sins of Israel on Yom Kippur. I hope I am stating things correctly thus far... If I am not then please take this paragraph and address it individually with scriptures that show why there is error in it...

Moving on. Prior to the erection of the temple, sacrifices were offered on an alter to God by the Priests, since the temple, God commanded that be offered there. Then, during the various periods of exile / since the destruction of the temple, because God did not command that sacrifices continue on makeshift alters, no sacrifices are made to this day. Again, I hope I am at least correct enough in these statements that we can agree to this point.

I want to post again the link to the article on atonement from the Jewish Encyclopedia:

http://bible.tmtm.com/wiki/ATONEMENT_(Jewish_Encyclopedia)

In this article there are many references to how Jewish thought moved from an understanding of atonement through sacrifice to the modern idea of atonement through prayer, repentance and restitution. However, what Ken and I are trying to address here is the issue that sacrifice was commanded to make atonement for the people of Israel in the Torah and yet it is this very command that it seems (in our current understanding) is seen as redundant today. The question then becomes: if it is redundant then how do you know it is redundant?

Now I know that reading this you will probably say "it isn't 'redundant' per se, just not possible". If it isn't redundant then it still has a purpose. And if it still has a purpose then do you long for it's reinstatement? For if it has a purpose then you are currently missing that at the moment - there must be something missing from your experience of worship or atonement otherwise we can clearly state that it no longer has a purpose making it redundant and therefore we need to find the passage in the scriptures that tell us that sacrifices are no longer required (not just disliked because they aren't accompanied by repentance but no longer required). Ken and I do not see such a passage in the scriptures and so we can only assume that they are not redundant, do still have a purpose and therefore there must be something missing from your experience of God. That is the only logical conclusion that we can posssibly see. Anything else appears to be an argument based upon traditions and developments in understanding without having strong or definitive support from the Tanakh.

Let me quote a few of the verses that we read and draw our attention back to the scriptures and their interpretation and away then from opinions and conjecture. Let us determine to support our statements with clera scripture from which the given interpretation to which we hold can then be either dismantled using other scriptures or supported as a very plausible interpretation. All scriptures I quote will be from the NIV which might not be considered the most reliable translation by you. Please review your Tanakhs and present your translation if it differs.

1) Leviticus 9:7

Moses said to Aaron, "Come to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and the people; sacrifice the offering that is for the people and make atonement for them, as the LORD has commanded."

Now it seems to me that this statement made by Moses tells Aaron that the sacrifice is linked with the atonement at the time that this scripture was written. Perhaps I am wrong but I fail to see how Jewish interpretation of this passage could have never linked the two (this doesn't make them inseprerable at a later date but provides the linking for them).

2) Leviticus 1:4 and Leviticus 10:17

He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.

[Moses said] "Why didn't you eat the sin offering in the sanctuary area? It is most holy; it was given to you to take away the guilt of the community by making atonement for them before the LORD."

These scriptures perhaps define the link even stronger.link between sacrifice and atonement. Again it doesn't say that the two cannot be separated at a later date only that the atonement is linked to the sacrifice.

3) Leviticus 5:16

He must make restitution for what he has failed to do in regard to the holy things, add a fifth of the value to that and give it all to the priest, who will make atonement for him with the ram as a guilt offering, and he will be forgiven.

It seems here that this scripture is saying that the atonement is not made by the restitution (which would naturally follow repentance) but by the sacrifce of the ram (guilt offering). Perhaps sacrifice makes the atonement and not repentance and restitution? But repentance and resititution are required...

4) Leviticus 6:30

But any sin offering whose blood is brought into the Tent of Meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place must not be eaten; it must be burned.

Again the blood is brought in to make atonement. This seems to support a link between the two...

You know that I could go on with this as I go through Leviticus because there is a clear theme running through the book that links sacrifice to atonement. It seems therefore that unless you require me to continue doing this I shall cease for now and conclude only that a plain reading of Leviticus at the very least links the need for a sin offering or guilt offering with atonement. There are other places where the word atonement is used for oil or for money but these are specific circumstance and not catch-alls. Instead we must look to the offerings of guilt and sin which would be presented by all (because all sin at some point irrespective of whether they are inherently sinful or not). If all sin at some point then all ought to make a sacrifice of sin/guilt and if all ought to do then and the scriptures say that the sacrifice makes atonement for them then we ought to conclude that the sacrifice has at least some part to play in the doctrine of atonement as it stands through to the end of the Torah. This might change later as we shall consider but I hope you will at the very least either demonstrate how my current understanding is flawed or concede that the two were at least linked at some point in Jewish history and thinking. Moving on then...

5) 1 Samuel 3:14

Therefore, I [the Lord] swore to the house of Eli, 'The guilt of Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.'

Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice. Interesting. Does that mean that Eli's house will never be atoned for, or that another method of atonement will be required. Possibly this could either be understood that the sacrifice will never atone because it is not accompanied by repentance or that sacrifice is not needed in this case - only repentance. I lean towards the first understanding because unless this is the introduction of the idea that sacrifices will be unlinked from atonement it seems that the natural understanding might be that repentance is required in addition to sacrifice. However, I'm not precious on this and could have my mind changed.

6) 2 Chronicles 29:24

The priests then slaughtered the goats and presented their blood on the altar for a sin offering to atone for all Israel, because the king had ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for all Israel.

If 1 Samuel 3:14 above had been introducing a shift then we see that this did not catch on just yet because a sin offering is still commanded to atone for the sin of all Israel. Notice that it is not repentance that atones in this passage but the sacrifice. This continues into Nehemiah 10:33...

7) Proverbs 16:6

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.

This is perhaps the first of the verses that tell us that there might be another way to make atonement. So we must ask ourselves - is the writer saying that sacrifices carry no value, is he simply saying that there is another equally effective way as well or is he saying that because love and faithfulness come as a result of fear of the Lord by which we avoid evil then these are also required for the atonement of sin (and not just an alternative). I believe he is saying the latter of the two.

Of course we can add to this Proverbs 15:8, 21:3 and 21:27 which all suggest that the sacrifice of the wicked is detestable and doing what is just and right is more acceptable. Again two possible interpretations are that either sacrifice is a lower method of atonement which must be accompanied by repentance and restitution and going justice and good things actually replaces them (which the passage does not say) or that sacrifices are still good and doing good is better than sacrifices (because doing good requires no sacrifice as it is not sinful). If we sacrifice when we sin then surely to do good and not need to sacrifice is better. My understanding of these verses then is that God is saying - 'I would rather you did not need to sacrifice because you do good. Don't think that I want the sacrifices, truly I don't. I want you to be good'. However this does not negate the need for sacrifice when sin has occurred.

8) Ezekiel 16:59-63

'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you. So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD. Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign LORD.'

Here we have the Lord declaring that He will make atonement for His people. This does not suggest that sacrifice can be unlinked from atonement only that God will Himself make that atonement for His people rather than them trying to make it for themselves. This is at least my understanding of the passage but I welcome alternative views.

I would like to point out however that Ezekiel continues to talk about how sin offerings are still necessary to make atonement for the people in Ezekiel 43-45. Also I would like to quote the words of the article from the Jewish Encyclopedia here:

"But the prophet Ezekiel—a priest and therefore more deeply penetrated with the sense of sin and purity than other prophets—is not satisfied with the mere negation of ritualism. Repudiating, like Jeremiah, the idea held by his contemporaries that men undergo punishment on account of their fathers' sins, he lays the greater stress on the fact that the fruit of sin is death, and exhorts the people to cast away their sin and, returning to God, to live (Ezek. xviii. 4-32). For him Atonement is wrought by acquiring "a new heart and a new spirit" (ib. 31). In striking contrast with the other prophets, Ezekiel combines the belief in a complicated atoning ritual (as mapped out in Ezek. xl.-xlvi.) with the prophetic, hope in the redeeming power of God's spirit which shall cleanse the people from their impurities and endow them with "a new heart and a new spirit" (xxxvi. 26)."

---------------------------------

With regard to the word 'atonement' I then find no further references to this word in the Tanakh and so have not yet seen anything that clearly supports a view that atonement was ever unlinked from sacrifice. Perhaps it was but I have not yet found the verse that tells me that it was.

I know that during the time of the exile you tell us that Jews never worried that their sins were not atoned for because they substituted sacrifce for prayer. Yet I do not see any support that prayer can substitute sacrifce in regard to atonement. Prayer most certainly can evoke God's mercy and can mean that He chooses to allow a sacrifce made at a later date to provide the atonement for the sins committed during the exile but I find no support that repentance, prayer and resitution in themselves were completely effective in this regard.

Indeed if we are to conclude that Moses was the greatest prophet of God then surely his ideas and view on the linking of atonement with sacrifice carry more weight than any other prophet? On this basis then we consider once more what the Jewish Encyclopedia has to say:

"In no one, however, does the most elaborate ritualism of the Atonement sacrifice appear so closely intertwined with the profoundest spiritual conception of God's atoning powers as in Moses the lawgiver himself ... Moses' own self-abnegating love, which willingly offered up his life for his people, disclosed the very qualities of God as far as they touch both the mystery of sin and the divine forgiveness, and this became the key to the comprehension of the Biblical idea of Atonement"

Now, before I close I want to make a statement that I believe that sacrifices were ineffective at providing atonement for sins because they did not change the state of a person who would only go forth and sin again and need to return to make further sacrifices. To this end I agree that prayer, fasting, repentance, penitence and restitution are far more preferable to God than sacrifice and in the sense that it is by these methods that we spiritually draw close to God as opposed to the physicality of the sacrifice, they are bound to be more effective in transforming the heart and soul of a person and rendering them on a path towards God rather than away from Him at every step and turn.

What I fail to see however is a point at which the sacrifice was declared as fully redundant by any prophet (promoting the benefits of prayer, fasting, repentance and restitution does not declare sacrifices as pointless, worthless or ineffective in playing any part in atonement). Indeed when reviewing the summary from the Encyclopediea:

"There are four different modes of Atonement. If a man fails to fulfil the duty incumbent upon him in case of a sin of omission, for him repentance suffices, as Jeremiah (iii. 22) says, 'Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding.' If he has transgressed a prohibitory law—a sin of commission—the Day of Atonement atones: of him the Law says, 'On this day He shall atone for your sins to cleanse you' (Lev. xvi. 30). If he be guilty of crimes such as entail the death penalty and the like, repentance and the Day of Atonement can not expiate them unless suffering works as a purifying factor: to this the Psalmist refers when he says, 'I will visit their transgressions with the rod and their iniquities with stripes' (Ps. lxxxix. 33 [A. V. 32]). And if the crime amount to a desecration of the name of God and the doing of great harm to the people at large, nothing but death can be the penalty; as Isaiah (xxii. 14) says, 'Surely this iniquity shall not be atoned for you [A. V. "purged from you"] till ye die, saith the Lord God of Hosts'"

Whether the Day of Atonement atoned only for sins committed in error and ignorance or involuntarily (Heb. ix. 7), or also for those committed wilfully with a high hand (Num. xv. 26, 30), whether only after due repentance or without it, is discussed by the Rabbis (Shebu. 13a; Yoma 85b); and the resulting opinion is that just as the scapegoat atoned for all the sins of the nation, whether committed involuntarily or wilfully (Shebu. i. 6), so also does the Day of Atonement, true repentance having the power of turning all sins into mere errors, such as are forgiven to the whole congregation according to Num. xv. 26. All the greater emphasis is laid on sincere repentance, without which the Day of Atonement is inefficient (Maimonides, "Yad," Teshubah, i. 3).

I find myself asking what has happened to the sin offering? An unintentional sin might become a sin of omission or commission when you become aware of it but it still began unintentional and therefore sin offering required per the law (surely?). It seems that this final conclusion, while generally agreeable (in that the more grave the sin, the greater the atonement from repentance to Yom Kippur to suffering to death) fails to deal with how sacrifice ever became disentagled with atonement.

I understand that the passage above clearly states the view that Jews hold on atonement (or at least it is my understanding that it does) however, Ken and I are still left with the seeming conclusions that either the propets Moses and Ezekiel are superseeded by other prophets in declaring that sacrifices are only needed while the temple exists but in reality achieve nothing for repentance achieves all the atonement that is necessary, or that somewhere along the line the unlinking of atonement from sacrifice only occurred to account for the experience of the Jews without the temple. That is, without the temple we cannot sacrifice, God would not leave us unable to make atonement and be reconciled with Him following our sin, therefore sacrifice does not play a necessary part in atonement any more not because it never did (for that was clearly to satisfy the pagan instincts) but because we have realised that repentance is better.

For Ken and I we still find ourselves unable to satisfactorily accept that sacrifice is no longer a part of atonement because we find no conclusive scripture to tell us this and only scriptures that tell us God would rather we were prayerful, repentant, penitent and made restitution while not negating the fact that if we aren't like this through and through - or if we fail at any point - sacrifice still plays a part in God's plan for atonement.

Perhaps if we state this as clearly as possible... Given the understanding that at some point atonement was always linked with sacrifice (that was how Moses appears to have perceived it) and that today it is no longer linked with sacrifice, there must be a point at which the disengaging occurred and that is what we are trying to examine. Is there anything conclusive that enables us to say with complete certainty that God declared something along the lines of:

"I never want you to bring sacrifices again for I have noted that you no longer need the visual aid to remind you to repent for your sins. Instead come only to me with prayer, repentance and fasting for I have changed my mind on what I said to Moses about the linking of sacrifice for atonement."

Basically, if sacrifice was ever linked with atonement as necessary in any way shape or form and now it is not, then God must have changed His mind and unlinked sacrifice and atonement. Man cannot do this for God and so we must be able to point to something from God where He says that in all cases and for all needs we have for atonement, sacrifice is no longer necessary at all. If this is the case then we might also expect that there is no need for sin sacrifices to resume unless God takes some pleasure in them (which it seems clear He does not).

Sorry this post was so long but I wanted to try and steer us back onto the track of the original train of thought and the original questions:

1) Were sacrifice and atonement ever linked and was sacrifice ever necessary as a means for atonement (take your thinking here right back to before anything other than Torah existed).

2) If sacrifice and atonement were ever inextricably linked then at what point did God unlink them and declare that sacrifice was no longer necessary in any shape or form for providing atonement for sins.

3) If He did this, why did He do it? Why change His mind? And not only change His mind on something but actually change His theology?

Those are the pertinent questions and those are the questions that I don't believe we have received a satisfactory answer to thus far.

Blessings to all and Ken, I hope you're still enjoying this discussion and learning more (as indeed I am). Thank you for beginning it :o)

Alex

Tabatha said...

Ken,

Am just dashing out but before I go, I do have to correct your comments on the Septuagint.

The only part of the Septuagint that was translated by Jews into Greek was the Torah, the five books of Moses.

The rest, Isaiah included, was not translated by Jews at all. So it's irrelevant that it may have used the word for 'virgin' because the author of that translation was not a Jew.
And what counts is only what appears in the *original* Hebrew' and as we know, in the Tanakh there is no reference to any 'virgin' birth.

The Septuagint, then, is not a Jewish document, but rather a Christian one. The original Septuagint, created 2,200 years ago by 72 Jewish translators, was a Greek translation of the Five Books of Moses alone. It therefore did not contain prophetic Books of the Bible such as Isaiah.

IN addition, the Septuagint as we know it today, which includes the Prophets and Writings as well, is a product of the Church. In fact, the Septuagint remains the official Old Testament of the Greek Orthodox Church, and the manuscripts that consist of our Septuagint today date to the third century C.E.

The fact that additional books known as the Apocrypha, which are sacred to the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church, are found in the Septuagint should signal to anyone wondering about this text that it is in no way a Jewish text.

Dr. F.F. Bruce, professor of Biblical exegesis, notes that, the Septuagint deals only with the Pentateuch and not the whole Old Testament. Bruce writes, "The Jews might have gone on at a later time to authorize a standard text of the rest of the Septuagint, but . . . lost interest in the Septuagint altogether. With but few exceptions, every manuscript of the Septuagint which has come down to our day was copied and preserved in Christian, not Jewish, circles."

I believe that addresses your comments about the Septuagint.

I'm heading out now but I will return either later or tomorrow to address your other comments.

curls said...

Ken,
Your answer was patronizing & attacking of me personally.

You've twisted around my words to the point of aburdity.

ex. My encouraging you to go to references provided is, something you need to attack me on? Since this started there've been several exchanges in which you had made statements that were explained there in better detail. And the list goes from there.

I can not begin to answer, because you are not "hearing" me. You are being very hateful toward me with your twisting of words then claiming I am intolerant or have defensiveness at Christianity.

You haven't accepted or acknowledged a single statement I made on face value.

This is very sad. I really don't know how there can be peace, when you work so hard to make me "wrong" at every turn. To say I can't have meaningful thoughtful discussions is not true. So if you've come to that conclusion, it's because you see criticisms (or comments) of mine that you can't answer to -- so you turn them around at me instead.

I am extremely disappointed at the endless attacks you've made on my comments.

There is really very little I can say in reply. You have painted me into a self-defense of my very wordings, rather than stuck with the issues you supposedly raised. I don't usually have a discussion break down to this level, so I don't know what to do.

contradicts was a typo. It was contradictions.

Rallying to support Israel is irrelevant to claiming Christianity supports Judaism as a soveign religion. It does not for many people, yet they too claim "love" of Judaism. It has endless criticisms of Judaism built into it. Some people read past them, others don't, but to claim that Christians shouldn't be sensitive on that & it's past is insane.

I made a number of comments about Christian theology relevant to the conversation at hand that you ignored in favor of being offended. Ken, you attacked Tabatha, myself, & Judaism way back. I stated some self-defenses. However, instead of leaving those be -- you are claiming me as the attacker that you can't tolerant. You're winning the battle but not the war. All you've proven is that you won't give up those original positions of yours that attack Judaism -- while claiming you "love" it. It's all gotten too odd for me. By positions, I mean your attacks that "Judaism" wasn't letting "Christianity" have an opinion on the scriptures it uses -- when our complaint was much deeper than that. That Christinity insists on attacking Judaism for IT'S interpretions. I was trying to show room for more than one view. You do not have room for that, as you start out saying. Sorry, but right there is the crux of a huge difference between the two relgions. Until you understand that -- you can not be respectful of Judaism.

On the original topic of sacrifice i've lost track. You didn't reply on that at all.

I will check in once more to see if you have anything meaningful to say. All you've proven here is that you are good at twisting statements to claim they are attacks, then "counter" attacking in a deep, personal way.

I answered in good will. You didn't seem to recognize that even in the slightest. You didn't even try to look for that.

curls said...

I am going to put this more succintly.

Usually, when I (anyone) hits truth in their comments effectively...when they hit the deeper issue, another person has... you get back the kind of personal attacks you displayed along with a demand to shut down.

curls said...

On the Mormon & JV issue there are dimensions of difference. I'll quickly add those. (To be brief I'll just reference one.)

1. Mormonism doesn't argue with Xtianity based on false knowledge of Xtianity. Not the way Xtianity argues with Judaism back in Temple days & current, based on all sorts of misinformation.

2. Mormonism shares much with Xtianity. I realize to you it seems they seem like large differences, but they are nothing compared to the gulf between Judaism & Xtianity. This is why I suggested asking about other dimensions of Judaism. It gets tiring in Judaism for conversations "debating" with Christians, so be on their topics of interest that miss so much of the depth & beauty of Judaism in other areas. This winds up feeling disrespectful of Judaism, even when it's not purposely or knowledgably so. It's like talking about the nose on one's face. I like my nose, but after a while I'd find it disrespectful not to discuss the rest of me.

3. Christianity has a history of taking these conversations into the violent. To say there shouldn't be ultra sensitivtiy as Xtianity moves into more tolerance? Also, that sensitivity should include recognizing when Jews tell them they are crossing the line, rather than insisting that THEY know where the line is & should be drawn.

4. Literal size & relationship comes into play. Mormons are miniscule in number compared to the rest of Christianity. They do not present a threat. Judaism is around 14 million people world wide. Xtianity presents a threat by numbers (not on converting) but we defend with concern. Part of that based on the past.

5. Xtianity is based in being better than Judaism. It is not "one" of it's beliefs, but the central reason for it's coming into existence is the claim that Judaism was no longer valid. Mormonism & JV claim Xtianity gets it wrong. They do not come into existence on the claim that Xtianity gets it wrong. The difference is the deeper level to which it's central focus in the religion. Mormons & JV's have their religion then look & see it's differnt than Xtianity & claim Xtianity is wrong. Xtianity IS a replacement to Judaism in many theologies of it. It's very essense of being is that for some. That is what I was referring to.

Now that I expanded it, do you start to see where the conversations differ? I hope so.


*I use Xtianity because i frequently mistype Christianity,so I'm using a short cut I've seen Christians use to avoid being rude with my spelling constantly. I don't mean it as offense.

curls said...

It's so frustrating when I think of something to say AFTER I've sent my post, but the noses idea gave me an easy way to explain different views.

God made noses. My nose is my interpretation of a nose. Your nose is your interpretation of a nose. They are both from God & they are both valid interpretations.

Judaism has it's interpretation & it is right for Jews. Christanity has it's interpretation & it is right for Christians. If as a Christian you want to learn about the Jewish interpretation in order to enhance your Christianity, that's fine if it makes you happy. However, that does not mean that Judaism needs to use Christian interpretation in it's understanding of Judaism. (This was where the conversation sidetracked.) Further, in order to understand Jewish interpretation, takes more knowledge of the rest of Judaism, than addressed here. There's a lot of background & depth that goes into interpretations. (I assume for Christianity too.) Therefore going back to my closing statement on my original post -- it makes conversations challenging.

While some things have absolute interpretations, others do not.

On sacrifices you ask why God did not give directions to stop the animal sacrifices. I dont' know why it would be required that he do so? However, maybe he anticipated the destruction of the Temple, & so stating they only be done in the Temple, effectively did give such instruction. On a different aspect you brought up, the first destruction was a wake up call for Judaism which prompted changes to support a wandering religion. So the coming back in between seems to flow with set of spirtual growths & changes.

Anonymous said...

Jewish atonement is known as teshuvah (returning to G-d).
It includes:

confessing the sin;
if the sin was committed against another person, asking that person's forgiveness;
ceasing to commit the sin;
regretting the sin;
firmly resolving never to repeat the sin.
The first, third, fourth and fifth stages are "before God" and are the standard process of teshuva, a matter to be dealt with between the sinner and God. But if someone has committed a crime against another person to achieve atonement he must first ask the wronged person for forgiveness, and make it up to them. For example, if one stole an object, the stolen item must be returned, or if one has pained someone else in any way, he must be placated. This is an integral part of the teshuva.

Guides to the process of repentance in Judaism can be found through the rabbinacal literature, see especially Maimonides' Rules of Repentance in the Mishneh Torah.

The High Holidays are times that are especially conducive to teshuva. Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is a day of fasting during which judgement for the year is sealed. Therefore, Jews strive their hardest to make certain that they have performed teshuva before the end of the day.

When the Temple in Jerusalem was active, a Jew was required to bring various sacrifices for certain types of sins. Although sacrifices were required, the most essential part was teshuva, the person bringing the sacrifice would confesses his sins. Presently, with the Temple destroyed, atonement may nevertheless be granted by doing teshuva.

If one believed that a blood sacrifice was necessary before God would forgive you, then even one example where God forgave without a blood sacrifice would prove that this idea is UnBiblical. There are many such examples, but the most interesting is found in the Book of Leviticus. The reason this is so interesting is that it comes right in the middle of the discussion of sin sacrifices, which is found in the first chapters. In Leviticus 5:11-13, it states, "If, however, he cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, he is to bring as an offering for his sin a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering." One can also see that one does not need a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins in the Book of Jonah 3:10. There, the Bible simply states that God saw the works of the people of Ninevah. Specifically it says that the works God saw were that they stopped doing evil, and so God forgave them. There are plenty of other examples, and the idea that one needs a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is UnBiblical.
The Bible is clear, and it is consistent. One person cannot die for the sins of another. This means that the guilt from the sins committed by one person cannot be wiped out by the punishment given to another person. First, in Exodus 32:30-35, Moses asks God to punish him for the sin of the Golden Calf, committed by the people. God tells Moses that the person who committed the sin is the person who must receive the punishment. Then, in Deuteronomy 24:16, God simply states this as a basic principle, "Every man shall be put to death for his own sins." This concept is repeated in the Prophets, in Ezekiel 18 "The soul that sinneth, it shall die... the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."
Christians identify Messiah with Jesus and define him as God incarnated as a man, and believe he died for the sins of humanity as a blood sacrifice. This means that one has to accept the idea that one person's death can atone for another person's sins. However, this is opposed to what the Bible says in Deuteronomy 24:26, "Every man shall be put to death for his own sin," which is also expressed in Exodus 32:30-35, and Ezekiel 18. The Christian idea of the messiah also assumes that God wants, and will accept, a human sacrifice. After all, it was either Jesus-the-god who died on the cross, or Jesus-the-human. Jews believe that God cannot die, and so all that Christians are left with in the death of Jesus on the cross, is a human sacrifice. However, in Deuteronomy 12:30-31, God calls human sacrifice an abomination, and something He hates: "for every abomination to the Eternal, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods." All human beings are sons or daughters, and any sacrifice to God of any human being would be something that God would hate. The Christian idea of the messiah consists of ideas that are UnBiblical.
What, EXACTLY does God say about human sacrifice in the TaNaCH? In Deuteronomy 12:30-31, God calls Human sacrifice something that He hates, and an abomination to Him, "for every abomination to the Eternal, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. In Jeremiah 19:4-6, God tells us that Human sacrifice is so horrible a concept to Him, that it did not even come into His mind to demand it from His creation, "They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind." We see the same thing in Psalm 106:37-38, and in Ezekiel 16:20. This means that God would not accept Jesus's death on the cross as a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. The very idea of that God would accept a human sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is UnBiblical.

Alex Millington said...

OK, aside from the fact that your thinking regarding Jesus' work of atonement on the cross is not orthodox Christian theology on this subject, you have once again strayed from the question.

I asked that we forget any mention of the New Testament and I know that Ken has not been focusing on this either. This is not a question that seeks to prove Christianity right, it is a question that seeks to determine why sacrifice was ever required.

So once again, let's get back to the question and stop going off on tangents all the time.

anonymous - you raised an interesting point. If indeed God did not only forgive sins but atone for them (that is the price paid for them) without a sacrifice of any form (let us ignore the idea of blood sacrifice for a moment) then you are right, there are two different methods for atonement that work side-by-side, one requiring only repentance and restitution and the other requiring sacrifice as well.

You mention Jonah as an example and that the people of Nineveh were forgiven their sins by repentance alone. First, we have to note that the Ninevites were not Jewish and so the Torah Law did not apply (I believe this is consistent with Jewish belief that Torah applies only to Jews and the 7 Noahide Laws apply to everyone else - these not including sacrifice). Second there is no mention of atonement in Jonah. It says that the Lord had compassion on Nineveh and did not bring upon them the calamity that He had intended. That doesn't mean that they were reconciled with God, only that He determined not to destroy them at that time. We cannot therefore say with confidence that their actions here atoned for their sins and reconciled them with God once more.

I still find no clear evidence that true atonement which includes somehow making restitution to God. Remember, all sins are ultimately committed against God and so somehow we must make restitution to Him for the wrong we have committed. The only place I find God saying what the price we pay to Him for sins is, is in Genesis where God says that the penalty for sin is death. This is understood not only as physical death but spiritual death as well in that it results in separation from God. It is this command that I believe began the concept of animal sacrifice as a substitution of us so that we might live and God might look upon the death of the animal in our place. If God demands death for sin then how can we make restitution without it?

You say that when we repent we also make restitution. So if I steal something and then repent, I must make right what I stole and add 20% to it. That restores the human sin - but what about the sin against God? How can I make things right with Him?

This concept of linking restitution to God with animal sacrifice flows right through the Torah which formed the backbone for testing whether something was of God or not. Therefore all ideas found in the Prophets can surely also be found in the Law. In which case we would find a concept of restitution to God that required us to pay nothing except humbling ourselves in the pages of the Law.

My problem is that I have not found this. So this then is the question we return to...

Ignoring the Mishnah, Talmud, Prophets and other books, where in the Law can we find the concept of two differing methods of atonement? One which requires sacrifice and one which doesn't.

Most certainly the other things please God more, but in making restitution is there something that God asks that we offer to Him (our life?) and then is there something that He says He will accept in place of this price (the sacrifice?). Alternatively did God never demand a price for sin and are we misreading this text as well?

Anyway, please go back and read my last post and then let's get back to the issue at hand without being side-tracked into Christian doctrine which does not form a part of why this question was asked in the first place. Truly, we want to understand how sacrifice and atonement were unlinked, the point at which this happened and why God changed His mind on the price that He said man would pay for His sins.

Blessings,
Alex

Tabatha said...

Alex

- just a brief comment before I post a fuller response tomorrow. You realise you can't 'ignore' the Talmud when seeking to understand Torah? The Talmud is the Oral Torah, it clarifies and elaborates upon the written Torah. No Jew studies written Torah in isolation.

If you want to understand Judaism or any of the Jewish religious laws, then you can't just dismiss Talmud. I'll post more tomorrow.

Alex Millington said...

Hi Tabatha,

understand that the Talmud is like a commentary on the Torah and gives you wise advice and guidance for interpreting it but surely the Talmud is the interpretation of the Torah and so when we come to interpreting the Torah we can draw from concepts found in the Talmud but we cannot exalt any of the writing there up to the same level as Torah (can we?) and so each idea presented in the Talmud must be supported by the Torah for to quote Rob Bell "God has spoken, everything else is just commentary"

That was all I mean. To me, if you are going to quote a concept from the Talmud you must be able to support it from the Torah Law books else how can the concept be consistent with God's revelation of Himself through His prophet Moses?

That was why I made the suggestion I did. It would be like saying let's interpret Christianity without referring to the concepts found in the NT. However, we believe that the NT is not a special new revelation but all the concepts are found in the Old Testament and the life of Jesus in the New Testament is only a fulfillment of that revelation in parts and reaffirms it in others.

What I am saying here is that you can draw concepts from the Mishnah and Talmud and other writings but please let us know where the support for the concept is to be found in the Torah - for surely it must be there?

Once again, let's not get side tracked from the issue at hand onto other issues which I'm sure that we have no real disagreement on.

Blessings,
Alex

Dana said...

You know very little about atonement in Judaism (teshuva--returning to G-d), so allow me to enlighten you:
According to Jewish practice, if someone commits a sin, a forbidden act, he can be forgiven for that sin if he performs teshuva, which includes:
confessing the sin;
if the sin was committed against another person, asking that person's forgiveness;
ceasing to commit the sin;
regretting the sin;
firmly resolving never to repeat the sin.
The first, third, fourth and fifth stages are "before God" and are the standard process of teshuva, a matter to be dealt with between the sinner and God. But if someone has committed a crime against another person to achieve atonement he must first ask the wronged person for forgiveness, and make it up to them. For example, if one stole an object, the stolen item must be returned, or if one has pained someone else in any way, he must be placated. This is an integral part of the teshuva.
The High Holidays are times that are especially conducive to teshuva. Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is a day of fasting during which judgement for the year is sealed. Therefore, Jews strive their hardest to make certain that they have performed teshuva before the end of the day.
If one believed that a blood sacrifice was necessary before God would forgive you, then even one example where God forgave without a blood sacrifice would prove that this idea is UnBiblical. There are many such examples, but the most interesting is found in the Book of Leviticus. The reason this is so interesting is that it comes right in the middle of the discussion of sin sacrifices, which is found in the first chapters. In Leviticus 5:11-13, it states, "If, however, he cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, he is to bring as an offering for his sin a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering." One can also see that one does not need a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins in the Book of Jonah 3:10. There, the Bible simply states that God saw the works of the people of Ninevah. Specifically it says that the works God saw were that they stopped doing evil, and so God forgave them. There are plenty of other examples, and the idea that one needs a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is UnBiblical.
The Bible is clear, and it is consistent. One person cannot die for the sins of another. This means that the guilt from the sins committed by one person cannot be wiped out by the punishment given to another person. First, in Exodus 32:30-35, Moses asks God to punish him for the sin of the Golden Calf, committed by the people. God tells Moses that the person who committed the sin is the person who must receive the punishment. Then, in Deuteronomy 24:16, God simply states this as a basic principle, "Every man shall be put to death for his own sins." This concept is repeated in the Prophets, in Ezekiel 18 "The soul that sinneth, it shall die... the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."

Alex Millington said...

Dana,

Welcome to the chat. However, it would be helpful if you read what had already been said before copying and pasting the same chunk of text that the anonymous poster two posts ago did.

What you say is nothing new. In addition, what we are arguing is not that God was merciful to those who could not afford an animal sacrifice, it was that the Law indicates that the sacrifice brought to the alter was a substitutionary sacrifice that God declared in His word that He would accept on behalf of that person in place of the ultimate price that He declared which was 'each shall die for his own sins', i.e., life.

If you had read the last few posts you would realise that what we are examining here is not whether a human sacrifice could atone for sin but whether the atonement and any form of sacrifice (be it animal or flour) as commanded by God were inextricably linked in the 5 books of the Torah and then whether there was unanimous clarity among later prophets that these two had been unlinked.

Please don't just copy and paste from one of the websites that have not only been already linked to but has already been copied and pasted already. It adds nothing to our conversation.

Alex Millington said...

Sorry, just to add to that last post...

I have read the 10 articles on the site 'www.whatjewsbelieve.org' and also the description of Repentance in Judaism from wikipedia. It would help if you are going to simply quote from other sources that you reference them in future.

We are asking here for your input and wisdom and if you want to direct us to outside sources then please do feel free to do so. Just don't cut and paste from them without referencing them.

Thanks

Dana said...

The Hebrew word korbon, which the Torah uses to describe animal offerings, is not a sacrifice (as in, giving something up), and it is not an offering (as in, bringing a gift to the gods). Rather, korbon means "to come near." These help a person get closer to God.

In the Temple, we take the animal parts and elevate them onto the altar of God. This is a personal declaration of intent to elevate our material resources to a higher level - to direct it toward the service of God.

We have to differentiate between Greek mythology and Judaism. The pagan sacrifices were to appease finite gods who had control over a limited aspect of existence. Every god needed something else and the humans could avoid the wrath of the gods by giving them what they needed.

Jewish offerings are not for God. He doesn't need them. God is All Powerful and has everything already. Rather, the offerings are for us. They teach us to take the physical - the body - and sanctify it.

One of the 613 mitzvot is that the Kohen Gadol must keep the Ephod (breastplate) constantly attached. Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch points out that in idolatry, the ceremonial breastplate was typically tied onto the idol. The philosophy was to control the idol and "get it on your side." But in Judaism, the Kohen Gadol ties the breastplate to himself - because it is ourselves that we want to control.

Every human being is comprised of two components - the physical body and the spiritual soul. Each part wants to be nourished and sustained, yet each achieves this in very different ways. The body seeks comfort and immediate gratification: food, sleep, power, wealth. The soul seeks longer-lasting, eternal pleasures: meaning, love, good deeds, connection to God.

The Mitzvot of the Torah are designed to guide us toward "soul pleasures." However, when the body exerts dominance, the consequence is a transgression of these Mitzvot.

The way to repair that mistake is to bring an offering. The transgressor steps forward and declares: "I have made a mistake and regret the damage it caused my soul. My animal side got the best of me. I don't want to repeat that mistake again. I hereby pledge to slaughter animalism as the dominant force in my life."

Alex Millington said...

Dana,

Thanks for your comments. There were some new additions there and some interesting points you raised.

One thing I would like to draw on though is your translation of the word Korban. Srong's Lexicon translates this as Sacrifice and the word is always used in connection with a sacrifice of some kind or other. However, it also notes that it comes from a root word Qarab which does indeed mean to draw near, to approach or to enter into. Accordingly one might best translate Quorban (Korban) as the sacrifice by which one draws near to God or enters into His presence.

When we have seen this interpretation (which I do not believe is in any part a twisting of the Hebrew although I concede I am not a scholar in this area) we might understand that a sacrifice draws us into God's presence. But why? Was there something about the sacrifice that achieved this? Did God ordain the sacrifices because of this - or were the sacrifices always incidental to drawing near to God as Maimonides appears to contend in his much later writings written centuries after sacrifices had in any case ceased. Would he have written differently had he lived 1,000 years earlier?

Again, most definitely I agree that sacrifices are not desired by God in the same way that He desires love, mercy, justice, kindness, charity or a whole host of other things. But requiring something as a result of something else while not desiring that the something else occurs to make the something that is required actually required, does not in itself demonstrate that the initial thing (i.e., the sacrifice) is not required any more. In order for us to draw that conclusion we would have to have something much more concrete which declares that sacrifices are powerless to achieve what they originally were intended to achieve and that something else has actually replaced that.

Indeed, the wiki article on Korban:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korban

highlights in several places that the significance of the sacrifice (Korban) is still not conclusively cast aside in Jewish thinking.

Once again though we are left with finding the evidence that the Torah (which is the Law) itself enables us to draw such a conclusion - that korban of some kind was unnecessary for atonement. And that is the one thing that I fail to find evidence of.

Indeed, even in your last statement:

"The way to repair that mistake is to bring an offering. The transgressor steps forward and declares: "I have made a mistake and regret the damage it caused my soul. My animal side got the best of me. I don't want to repeat that mistake again. I hereby pledge to slaughter animalism as the dominant force in my life.""

I find echoes of this recognition that something is brought to God in substitution of you animal nature (that is the body) which deserves the punishment proclaimed by God for that sin - i.e., death. I agree that the sacrifice does not please God as pagans thought their many sacrifices please their gods, nor is it about giving something up expressly because God already gave all things so we have nothing that wasn't first His... However, the sacrifice still represented drawing near to God achieved by setting aside something of yourself and something that was physical - something that ultimately cost you. And not only that, but something which God said that He approved of.

And that is exactly where we come to with regard to charity and restitution - does God say that making things right with others and being charitable now replaces sacrifice? Surely he required these things anyway? Rather I see in the Prophets an emphasis on another important aspect of the Law which would render their korban acceptable as a mode to drawing near to God... As it is, without such a state of heart of course korban is ineffective for if it were effective it would render God unjust.

So again I echo my earlier comment - when did God say that not just were sacrifices not desirable but that drawing near to God (i.e., korban) was now achieved through charity, prayer and restitution instead? And if this was so clear then why are differing arms of Judaism in conflict as to whether all sacrifices will be restored in the era of Messiah or indeed whether none will be restored? Surely the reason is because such a direct substitution of the korban for the charity, prayer and restitution is not clear from the Torah?

Your continued thoughts are helpful in this regard...

Also, perhaps it might be good to go back to a few posts ago where I posted quite a lengthy reaffirmation of what we were trying to examine through this continuing discussion.

Continued blessings to all,

Alex

Tabatha said...

Alex,

If you look back at one of my recent posts, you'll note that I did elaborate a bit upon why sacrifice was useful; it was not used only for atonement, it was used also for other reasons which I briefly discussed in that post.

It does at times rather seem as if you are making this overly complicated. After the temple fell, sacrifice could not be done. So we simply use the other methods that achieved the same thing. That doesn't mean that sacrifice was in any way redundant - just that at present, we can't do it.

If you want to find a specific reference in the Torah, then rather than anyone here giving you an isolated phrase, why don't you look at a good translation of the Torah? If you haven't already, that is. I can't help feeling that you might find that more satisfying, somehow, then some of the posts here.

And to answer an earlier question that was posed: no, there is nothing 'lacking' in Judaism now that we don't sacrifice and no, we don't miss it. No Jew alive today was present during temple times, so we have never experienced Qorbanot.

And one has only to visit a Synagogue for a Shabbat service or for a festival, to see that there is nothing 'lacking'. Thanks for the concern though........!! LOL LOL.

I'll try and post more a bit later today.

Alex Millington said...

Hi Tabatha,

No concern that something is necessarily 'lacking' in your experience as far as you all are concerned :o) Indeed when I set out on this journey and rather hijacked Ken's blog for this purpose (sorry Ken, I hope you don't mind too much) I had no intention of mocking or belittling the Jewish faith which at its core is truly a beautiful expression of how to draw near to the one who sustains all things by His powerful word. I believe God always honours a sincere heart that seeks Him with all humility.

Just one comment on your last post...

"in Judaism now that we don't sacrifice and no, we don't miss it. No Jew alive today was present during temple times, so we have never experienced Qorbanot."

Sometimes we don't know what we're missing until we have experienced it for the first time... If you've never experienced it how could you know you are missing it unless God said in His word that it should be a part of worshipping Him and a joyous part at that for it represented something much deeper than the physical reality...?

That said, I think we could go round in circles on this all day.

Personally I have never read a good translation of the Tanakh - but then I'm based in Malawi at the moment and so the only copy I could get would be on-line and that is just not satisfying :o( Perhaps I'll try and get myself a copy when I get back to the UK - can you buy one on Amazon? Are they expensive? Could you recommend one?

However, I'm not sure that I will find what I am searching for in the Tanakh even then. From what I understand: God told the Israelites that charity was good in the Law. He told them that prayer was good in the Law. He told them that repentance was good in the Law and that restitution was important when we had wronged someone. He then ordained sacrifice as well and it seems that this was for a purpose (see my post earlier unless these are all bad translations). Then He either determined that all these other things which He had previously instituted were now better than sacrifice in achieving the purpose that He originally ascribed to sacrifice (or always were - which might indeed be the case) or He simply took sacrifice away because it was distracting to the Jews who had begun to focus on this rather than seeking God (which also might be the case).

Truly we can all affirm that seeking God in our hearts and minds is better than sacrifice and I would not disagree on this one. Much better that we all seek God and do our best to have a positive impact on this world than we go around doing whatever we want and simply trying to make sure we bring the right sacrifice to recompense - indeed this is what some misguided Christians try and do (perhaps these are those of whom Jesus will say 'I never knew you'). But then if sacrifice ever actually achieved or represented anything at all theologically that wasn't also represented elsewhere then without it there is something missing in your expression of worship - even if that is only that you cannot perform the Mitzvah that God commanded to be performed.

And that is where I think we shall always differ. Christians believe that the sacrifice did represent something uniquely but that has now been replaced with a better something. Jews on the other hand believe that it didn't represent something uniquely for that something is represented elsewhere. Honestly I don't think either of us will find a full resolution to this matter for both of us consider our arguments as sufficiently solid proof of our beliefs and positions on this one.

Christians believe that the final 'korban' was offered by God Himself rather than by man (note very different to the idea of human sacrifice). They believe this was a lasting and eternal 'korban' offered on behalf of all mankind and extended to them for them to partake in; that this 'korban' was not just to draw near to God but this was the full penalty paid for all time for all sins - full, complete and lasting atonement for all who wish to partake in it (no continued sense of going through purification in 'Gehenna' after death in order to be separated from sin because the separation occurs the moment we partake in the korban). However, just as the original korban was ineffective and even abhorrent to God when not combined with repentance, prayer and restitution (and an attitude of justice and mercy), so this final korban bares the same conditions and any Christian who tries to tell you otherwise has misunderstood their own doctrine of atonement as presented in the Bible.

Conversely, to my understanding, Jews believe that the korban has been 'substituted' for repentance, prayer and restitution (as well as an attitude of justice and mercy) as the original korban was not a necessity for the atonement of sins (in that the penalty for sin was substituted onto the animal) but rather was an aide to drawing closer to God and nothing more. Repentance, prayer and restitution always atoned for sins before God.

Either way the end result is the same in practical, worldly terms - sacrifices no longer continue and both of us strive to be as good as we can possibly be within the boundaries of our understanding, education and society seeking to repent when we do wrong and make things right with those we offend. And both of us are then confident in our continued connection to God... And perhaps He will honour us both?... Perhaps the removal of the temple and sacrifices was actually a blessing because it changed the focus from temple worship to personal relationship and expression and perhaps that achieves the same ultimate end - a people who seek their Maker with all their hearts, souls and minds. A people who acknowledge that they are not perfect and nor will they ever be until God perfects them in Gan Edan... And then, our hope is the same - both of us trust in the goodness of God who will one day restore all things and allow us to be a part of that renewal.

In the interim we continue to worship God in different ways and to focus on different aspects of who He is and how He relates to us... But there is beauty and ugliness in both... Christians and Jews can be ugly alike and so none of us can say that a particular religious branding has any temporal or eternal effect on us and while we can all be 'good' or 'bad' in temporal terms, only connection with our Creator and Father can have any eternal impact on us - so let us continue to seek Him with all our hearts, mind and strength (spirit, soul and body).

Shalom to you Tabatha, curls and other posters :o)

Alex

Tabatha said...

Alex,

That was a lovely post :)

And in fact, as it happens I do agree with you. Although the fall of the second temple was lamented at the time, naturally, I do agree with your comments that it led to Judaism becoming rather more 'personal'.

I want to address a question you asked the other day ,which was a great one. You were wondering if sacrifices would ever be resumed when/if the temple was rebuilt.

This is a very interesting topic. At present, as you know, it's a moot point - a huge mosque sits slapbang where the temple stood, and I'm sure we can imagine the response should anything ever happen to the mosque, which of course is a holy site for our Muslim cousins.

If you ask many Orthodox Jews, they will say that yes - sacrifice will indeed resume! Many other Jews - me included - cannot imagine participating in animal sacrifice. And there are Orthodox Jews who also say they would never do it either!

(have you come across Kapparot in your reading?!)

I think this conveys a fundamental truth about Judaism. All Jews share certain core, sacred beliefs. But aside from these, within Judaism there is an enormous amount of debate and disagreement, and this is a tradition which goes back a long, long way.

Indeed, even on the topic of Korbanot, we can find dissent and I've read the thoughts of one of the most revered Jewish theologians of all time, who suggested that sacrifice was more to do with catering to man's more 'pagan' (I don't mean the word as any insult to today's Pagans) inclinations. The early Israelites had close contact with the Canaanites of course, and many of the Canaanites were Pagans who practised various forms of sacrifice.

So while we can find specific parts of text in the Torah, which address sacrifice and what we do when we can't practise Korbanot, Jews don't tend to take the Torah literally in all cases. In fact it is a basic teaching that the Torah cannot be understood at face value, but rather can be read and interpreted on *many* different levels. Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, involves a certain and deeper way of approaching Torah.

If it seems I've travelled rather far from our original topic, then I think it's because Judaism (much like Christianity, I suspect?) is a very complex religion, all the more so because of how much debate occurs.

Which brings me to a comment on your most recent post. I understand that for Christians, Jesus was the 'final' and ultimate sacrifice. And it is precisely THIS belief that lies right there at the HEART of why Judaism and Christianity conflict.

For in Judaism, no man can ever die for the sins of others. This is a key tenet of the Jewish faith. Every human being is responsible for their own sins.

That's one reason why when *some* Christians go round insisting that Passover is 'actually' about Jesus and the way he sacrificed himself, it is deeply troubling for Jews.

Now - I wonder if you might be kind enough to answer a few questions I have on Christianity?!

I've been trying to get answers to these for a while in R&S on Yahoo but I got nowhere. I'm sure you can help though :)

My first query: what are the core or essential Christian beliefs, the ones that if rejected, would render a person a NON Christian?

I thought they were:
- virgin birth
- resurrection
- Jesus as messiah
- Jesus as 'son of god' and/or 'god incarnate'
- the 'second coming'

But I gather I'm totally wrong?!

Please enlighten me!!

- also, I have a link for you that offers a fairly decent translation of the Tanakh, I'll post it tomorrow.

If you ever decide to purchase a translation of the Torah or Tanakh, I would recommend the STONE edition, it is a really, really good one!

I've also heard some excellent things about 'The Living Torah' by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan; this is on my list of books to get, in fact :)



KEN :)

- I read that you have asked a colleague if you can speak to their Rabbi? Great. Do you know by any chance if the Rabbi is Orthodox, Conservative or Reform? This *can* colour their views but whichever movement they belong to, they will give you some fab answers and certainly, will understand the topic of Korbanot in depth.

Also, you can contact a Rabbi at these sites, and they will answer;
http://www.askmoses.com
- you post a query, a Rabbi answers

http://www.chabad.org/
- you email a query in, and within a day or two, a Rabbi will answer you.

I recommend the latter site, to start with :)

Alex Millington said...

Hi Tabatha,

I'm happy to answer your questions but I fear we should not use Ken's blog for that...

Email me on malawimissionary@yahoo.com and I'll see what I can do :o)

Perhaps I could even explain where Christianity draws its substitutionary doctrine from regarding Jesus suffering God's wrath against sin on our behalf so that by trusting in his gift, we can be confident of our eternal destiny with God in heaven. I don't think that it is quite as you seem to understand it...

Anyway, thanks for your comments and suggestions. Speak to you soon I hope,

Shalom,
Alex

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Hello everyone,

I am swamped at the moment and haven't even read the plethora of comments that have been made since Friday. However, I did notice Tabatha's last question to me at the bottom, and FYI, the Rabbi is orthodox (at least that is what I have been told; I haven't met with him yet, although he did order some girl scout cookies from my daughter so I will see him for the delivery!).

Thank you to everyone for keeping the discussion going in my absence. Feel free to continue. This is a ministry blog, not specifically "mine", so as long as the discussion concerns theological issues, I don't really care if I am a part of it or not. I love open and honest discussion, regardless of whether it includes me! :)

Ken

Ten Minas Ministries said...

I finally had a chance to read the various comments. You all have been quite busy in my absence! :)

Tabatha,

To bring up one old comment, regardless of who translated the Septuagint, it was in fact translated in its entirety during the period from the 3rd to the 1st century BC, before Jesus was born. It is impossible for it to have been a “Christian document.” There may be uncertainty about who translated the remainder of the contents other than the Torah, but one thing is clear: it was not Christians because Christianity did not even exist yet.

Alex and Tabatha,

I invite the two of you to continue your conversation here. Your continued discussion was very intellectually stimulating and I would love to continue to be a "fly on the wall", perhaps chiming in from time to time. I can add a new post on the last question Tabatha posed if you like so that we can discuss the issue under a heading that is more clearly devoted to it. Of course, if you would like to continue your conversation privately, I will gladly respect that as well.

Ken

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Hello again,

I really believe that Tabatha's question is worthy of a detailed response, and I am sure that many people other than Tabatha have that same question. Therefore, I went ahead and wrote a new post on her question (see the blog's main page) so that hopefully others will chime in with their thoughts as well (and so that the answers will not be buried under 57 other comments in a post that is 1 1/2 years old so that other people can find them).

The ideas I proposed in the new post are really just introductory, and I make no pretense of them being exhaustive. It was more just an effort to "get the ball rolling", but I sincerely hope that both of you can participate.

Thank you and God bless.

Ken

Alex Millington said...

Me again :oD

I was just on Yahoo!Answers again and I came across a question that made me think and then made me try and define whether there is a difference between forgiveness and atonement. Can one be forgiven (at least in part) if one's sins have not been atoned for or is atonement essential for forgiveness?

It seems that this question might be at the very heart of what we are discussing here as our Jewish friends appear to be equating forgiveness with atonement whereas Christians seem to see that they are not the same - forgiveness does not necessarily demand justice whereas a fully perfect and just God would most certainly demand justice - but can He forgive (that is delay His wrath and show mercy in its place until a later time) without demanding justice at the same time?

I'll post my answer to the question here to see what you all think. I welcome your comments and thoughts - as always it's best to discuss our ideas in community - especially when they appear as if they might be new even to us. For instance I contend in some part that Jesus did not enable forgiveness but rather satisfied God's wrath. Forgiveness was always available with repentance and restitution but God's wrath remains to be satisfied and that is where the sacrifice comes in - be it Jesus or an animal.

The asker essentially posed the question - are there two options available for forgiveness or just one? Did God change his mind (but God is unchanging) and say Jesus was now OK or are we to think that forgiveness is available through both animal sacrifices and the sacrifice of Christ?

Enjoy the read!

Before we go any further it is important to note that there may be a distinction between the forgiveness of sins and atonement. The concept of forgiveness is exactly that - you are forgiven and your sins are no longer counted against you. The concept of atonement is the satisfaction of God's wrath against sin so that the sin that separates us from God can not just be forgotten but God's justice can actually be served as well. This distinction is important when considering atonement from the viewpoint of a Christian as we maintain God is unchanging in this regard because the animal sacrifices were not the requirement but the prescribed substitute until something permanent was revealed. The sacrifices point the way to the permanent thing. They are, for want of a better word, an antitype of the real thing.

In Leviticus, we read how the person who had sinned must bring their offering and then lay their hand upon it, thereby identifying themselves with the animal which was to be presented as a offering before God. It should be noted that this then talks about the sacrifice making atonement for the person or community and not enabling God to forgive the person or community. The concept here is that the sacrifice enables God's wrath against sin to find an outlet in a substitutionary sacrifice other than mankind.

Let us now turn our attention to Leviticus 16 where perhaps the biggest distinction between atonement and forgiveness (as it relates to the sacrifice) is made. There were three animals invovled in this ceremony - two goats and one bull. The bull was offered as a sin offering for himself and his family and one of the goats offered as a sin offering for the Israelites. The second goat was a scapegoat... And this is where it gets interesting...

Read with me if you will the passage in Leviticus 16:20-22...

"When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert."

Here we read that all the sins of Israel are confessed over the goat who is not slaughtered but released far from the camp of Israel. I'm reminded of how the Psalmist later said "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12). To be forgiven does not require in itself a sacrifice but for the forgiveness to be complete, God's justice must be satisfied and so the punishment must be executed, His wrath must be borne by something or someone - this is why the symbolism of the removal of sins (that is the forgiveness) is combined with the sacrifice which atones (satisfies God's wrath) for sin.

Whenever God is merciful in the Bible we might say that He has forgiven the sins of the people. Consider the people of Nineveh. After Jonah preached his message there the people repented and God had compassion on them and spared them. God is seen here apparently forgiving a whole city yet there is no sacrifice that is made for their forgiveness... So is God's wrath against their sin satisfied by their repentance? Or is it just that His wrath is delayed for a time such that it is not poured out on them?

Having established this we can consider where Jesus fits in.

The theology is not that we can only be forgiven our sins because Jesus died but rather mankind can only be reconciled with God because God's wrath against sin was satisfied on the cross when He poured out His anger upon Jesus (who willingly accepted it). Remember, Jesus forgave sins before He had died. Surely if sins could only be forgiven after his death or by sacrifice then the passages where he is recorded as forgiving sins go directly in the face of such a theology for he has neither died by this time, nor is a sacrifice made (or even comanded) in these instances.

Forgiveness is therefore possible in part without atonement for forgiveness does not demand or command reconciliation. This is something we all know - you can forgive a person without being able to trust them again or be reconciled with them fully. While you might desire or seek reconciliation, the forgiveness can occur a long time before the reconciliation. For instance - someone murders a friend of yours. They demonstrate remorse and are truly repentant. You can say that you forgive them in that you no longer consider them in your debt BUT you still want them to face the penalty for their crimes for that is only just and right. However, complete forgiveness (which includes reconciliation) requires the satisfaction of justice.

So there are not two methods for forgiveness and nor are there two methods for atonement.

The method for forgiveness has always been repentance and restitution. Jesus also said that if we do not forgive others then our Father in heaven will not forgive us either. The Lord's Prayer itself reminds us that we ought to forgive others. Repentance involves coming to God with humility and seeking His favour again... restitution is merely the outward demonstration of that inward condition of repentance for if a person is repentant they will desire to put right the things they have done wrong in as far as they can put things right.

The method of atonement has always been the satisfaction of God's wrath and justice against the sin by a substitutionary sacrifice that He has considered acceptable. Now here is where things never changed. If you read Hebrews (and particularly chapters 8-10) you will see that Christian doctrine is that the old method of animal sacrifice was ineffective to atone for all sins because sacrifices were continually required and there was always a chance of having a sin against which God's wrath was not satisfied for no sacrifice was presented. Consider how diligent Job was in this regard when he presented sacrifices for his children after their parties just in case they might have sinned! Rather, the old method was there to point the way towards the reality. It is not that the reality is new (rather it always was the case) but that the old was an antitype, a shadow, of the reality. In sacrificing and realising a need to satisfy God's wrath for sin, the Israelites were recognising God's justice while accepting His mercy.

On the cross, Jesus presented himself as our atoning sacrifice before God. The author of Hebrews describes Jesus as the great High Priest, the one who didn't need to present a sacrifice for himself before he presented it for others and the one whose sacrifice was powerful to overcome because not only was it without blemish (that is without sin - as was required of the sin offering in Leviticus 4) but its life-force, the very life-force of God, was powerful to withstand God's wrath and overcome. This same statement - that love overcomes wrath - is the statement that C.S. Lewis makes of Aslam in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe when Aslam sacrifices himself in the place of those who deserved the punishment - but love overcame.

This is why those who have faith in Jesus have confidence when approaching the throne of grace - because we can be sure that every sin is covered 'by the blood of the lamb' (which is Jesus). Because Jesus' sacrifice is already made once and for all time, every sin is already covered and I cannot miss presenting the appropriate or satisfactory sacrifice to God because a satisfactory one has already been made to all those who will accept Christ and thank him for offering the necessary sacrifice on our behalf.

This brings me to my final point. The Old Testament is not cast aside. When God makes a covenant with His people it is eternal. Truly if any many can keep the commands of the Law then he shall live by them. That is the promise of scripture and that is the promise that Christians believe was fulfilled in totality in Christ but which Jews believe has yet to be fulfilled and can be applied in a smaller way to each and every person as it was before Christ. Therefore those who keep all the commands written in the books of the Law shall surely find that not only are they righteous before God but all their sins are atoned for.

So, in conclusion, there are not two modes for the forgiveness of sins but one - repentance and the restitution that comes with a humble and penitent heart. There are not two modes for atonement but one - a full satisfaction of God's justice against sin - and that is where we can either continually present animal sacrifices for individual and corporate sins (Judaism) or we can trust in the great high priest who has presented a once and for all sacrifice that fully satisfies God's wrath for the sins of all mankind. Either way, God's wrath is satisfied and He demonstrates Himself to be just and unchanging in His hatred of sin (which is ultimately rebellion against what is good - that is the commands of God).

-------------------

Please do call me on any potential errancies in my doctrine that I present here... However that might also be the subject of a different post as it once again will draw us away from the subject of this thread - that is atonement in Jewish thinking.

Anyway, just another thought for us all to ponder as we make our way through life :o)

Blessings to all and shalom.

Alex

Tabatha said...

Hi Ken :)

Only the Torah part of the Septuagint was translated by Jews. The rest was not. And regardless, all that counts is what appears in the original Tanakh.

I've been enjoying the running dialogue and am very glad you are happy to host it :)

You'll have seen that I asked Alex a question about Christianity - I'd love to get your answer also!

Ten Minas Ministries said...

My goodness we are having a plethora of good questions here!

Alex,

I agree the question you came across is a fascinating one. However, I also agree it is really a different issue than what this thread is about. With your permission, I would like to copy and paste your comment (giving full credit to you as the author) and publish it in a separate post on the site so we can have a thread devoted to answering that particular question (I have some initial thoughts on it and will post them when I have a chance).

Tabatha,

We agree wholeheartedly about the orginal Tanakh being the source we look to for accurate theology. The original documents, in Hebrew, were what God inspired. I only raised the point about when the Septuagint was written to point out that it was not written by Christians, not to say that it is somehow a superior text than the originals.

As for the question you posed to Alex, go to the home page for this blog (just click on the blog title in the header) and you will see where I posted a (very preliminary) response to you in a separate post. I am just trying to keep things as neat and clean as possible and not have one thread that covers three different topics. :)

Ken

Alex Millington said...

Hi Ken,

But of course you can start a new blog with some thoughts on what I posted - always happy to continue to discussion and not get it confused with something else.

I'll look forward to your first comments on it.

Blessings,
Alex

Leibel said...

I have to say that your knowledge of Judaism is lacking. As a Modern Orthodox Jew I would suggest futher reading. Perhaps Rabbi Tovia Singer at Simpletoremember.com

I have always been amazed that Christians lack a basic understanding of Judaism and constantly try to write Jesus into the Torah. You view the Torah through the eyes of the "New Testament". We view the Torah as it was as G-d gave it to us. We view it in "its original form".
The Xtian Bible has mistranslations in it that may seem small and minor but are not.
I cannot even get Xtians to explain to me the concept of the Trinity. Each seems to understand it differently.
I have studied the Xtian NT and much of it seems to lack historicity.
I do not claim that only Jew "go to Heaven" but Xtians seem to say only Xtians are "saved".
The Torah sacrifices do not point towards Jesus in any way. You are seeing the Torah from the starting point of the NT. You are, in effect, going backwards.
We do atone for our sins and we will be judged by G-d for those sins. When I was younger (I am 20) and my brother was in trouble I did not tell my father (a Rabbi) that I was guilty and take his punishment not he mine. We answered for our own misdeeds. G-d will judge us and had nor has no need to die for us. That idea is totally foreign to Judaism and the Torah.
People might believe we have a problem with atonement but as most of us see major problems with your basic religious texts, your opinions, with respect, mean little.
I am sorry and not trying to be rude but I found this to be wrong and some of the comments to be insulting and at the behest of a friend, was compelled to answer.

If anyone really wants I can go into greater detail but I do suggest you check out lectures on the Jewish position of atonement at Aish.com or Simpletoremember.com. This might help anyone who want to understand better the Jewish position or at least much better than I probably can although I am willing to take a shot if desired.
I am a Yeshiva student by the way.

Alex Millington said...

Hi Leibel,

Thanks for your comments. I had a look at the websites you lined to and found some really interesting articles on www.aish.com - I particularly liked the articles entitled 'Stalking True Atonement' and I think every Christian (and indeed every person) would do well to read this article and consider it carefully.

Honestly, as I've said above, I can see much of the sense in what Judaism focuses on in regard to atonement and in regard to doing teshuvah. It truly is a beautiful concept and makes sense right the way through to the very core...

The thing that we are questioning here though is not whether Christians are right or not or what the doctrine of Christian atonement is - we are discussing Jewish atonement and the linking of the sacrifice with the atonement. Once again you have failed to address this issue in regard to the questions that have been raised. This is not a demonstration that Christians are right and Jews are wrong, it is an honest attempt to try and understand the place that sacrifice played in Judaism according to the Torah (and not the Talmud - which we all admit is commentary - even if it is incredibly important commentary)

The question is - was sacrifice ever required by God to satisfy His wrath against sin? If not then on the issue of the scapegoat - why have a goat that symbolises the separating of sin from self and then sacrifice another goat to atone for sins? Surely the scapegoat symbolism would have sufficed? Did the sacrificed goat satisfy God's wrath or is it possible that we can diffuse God's wrath by repentance thereby avoiding justice? And if the concept (as explained by aish) is that when we repent we are no longer identified with the sin and so it cannot be counted against us then who can it be counted against? Our scapegoat? Or the atoning sacrifice that we identified with through the laying on of hands?

This was partly where I was going in my last long post where I talked about whether there was a distinction between forgiveness and atonement. Can a person be forgiven without justice being satisfied? Or is justice required in order for a person to be truly forgiven their sins? Who or what or how will God's wrath be satisfied if not against sin identified on a person, animal or other object?

Do you not see how these questions have been raised again and again and the only answers we get range from 'God isn't human and abhors human sacrifice' to 'Christians think this, or that' to 'visit this website and ask them'. Why not address the questions head on?

But then, as I said in my previous post to Tabatha, Curls and others, I think this is an areas where Christians and Jews will continue to disagree on their understanding of atonement. Christians see the sacrifices as a necessary part to satisfy God's wrath whereas from what I can ascertain Jews believe God's wrath can be diffused. For Christians, justice outweighs mercy, for Jews mercy outwieghs and even seems to cancel out the need for justice...

Ultimately I believe where we are at is that anyone reading this thread can understand what the Jewish view of atonement is and so I don't think we need ot rehash that ground. Perhaps though, the questions I have just repeated still remain unaddressed...

Anyway, I truly am interested in your opinions (and I know Ken is as well) if you are interested in sharing them.

Every blessing,
Alex

Alex Millington said...

Actually, one thing I did read on aish that I would be interested on your take on is found in this article:

http://www.aish.com/torahportion/mayanot/The_Scapegoat.asp

I have heard that Judaism says God would not require human sacrifice to play a part in atonement and yet this article expressly points out that Aaron's two sons are considered to have been taken as part of the sanctifying and atoning for the Holy of Holies. It seems to note this apparent problem but then I did not feel it dealt with it very well. Let me quote the section here...

"Moses consoles Aaron with the thought that the deaths of Aaron's two sons were required to sanctify the Temple. Apparently two of the holiest Jews alive had to die in order for the Temple to be properly sanctified."

Now that sounds to me like something that a Christian might say about Jesus... And if Jews do not consider this a human sacrifice then why do they feel the need to consider Jesus in this way when there is a good chance that orthodox doctrine would present his 'atoning sacrifice' as far closer in theological terms to the sanctifying of the temple through the death of Aaron's sons than the concept of human sacrifice to appease God for some reason or other.

Your thoughts on this would be particularly interesting... But please do address my questions about the sacrifice in the last post before you begin to consider this question.

Thanks and blessings,
Alex

Leibel said...

I am sorry, I seem to have lost the questions in the various postings. I did get a bit carried away in the last "answer" and I apologize.
In the days of the Temple the Priest would sacrifice the animal. It was to show the consquences of sin. There was also a need for giving to charity and Teshuva. You had to not only say you were sorry but to show you were sorry yourself.
When the Temple was destroyed, we no longer could have animal sacrifices. Therefore the concept of Teshuva became stressed even more. We fast (fasting during the time of the Temple would not have been as hard as it is now as people did without food more often and certainly were not used to 3 square meals a day along with snacks and bedtime cocoa. Fasting is very personal and it shows Hashem that we care and do repent. Fasting is seen as though we, ourselves, are the sacrifices on the altar. So, we fast and give Tzedakah. On Yom Kippur we give give even more than the 1/10 of what we normally do.
On Yom Kippur, we need to feel sorry for our actions. We need to understand atonement. At my Yeshiva (all male of course), on Yom Kippur we lift up our shirts and the Rabbi strikes our backs with a strap. Not hard but it symbolizes the pain that we should have endured. The reminder that we pay for our own sins and we atone for them (or choose not to atone for them if you desire I suppose)on a personal level.
Perhaps I am explaining it poorly. If I have still not addressed it as you wish, please let me know and I will try again. I do apologize for the tone of my previous response.
G-d knew the Temple would be destroyed. He knew we would not always be able to have sacrifices. This is discussed in the Talmud at length. I have not read enough of your site or previous posts to know if you are knowledgeable in Talmud but it is discussed.
One of the criteria of the Moshiach is that he will rebuild the Temple and when that hapens, once again, the sacrifices will happen. Until then, G-d knows we cannot preform them and G-d knows most of us try to atone as best we can.
The question to a previous poster was "Where is it written that Sacrifice evolved to sacrifice and atonement to just atonement?" That is not quite accurate but for the purposes here will say it is. I cannot show you where. Is that what you want to hear? We have no Temple. We cannot have sacrifices. G-d knew that our Temple would be destroyed and as we are told to have sacrifices only in the Temple, it stands to reason that we can no longer have them.
I suppose some things are just faith alone. Your religion has that and so does ours.
Again, if I have missed answering something (or attempting to answer), let me know.
Leibel

Alex Millington said...

Hi Liebel,

Thanks for your post...

I guess this issue largely boils down to whether you attach any spiritual importance to the sacrifice or not (as in whether it played any actual role in atonement or whether it was mere symbolism).

I can fully understand that without a temple there can be no sacrifice and given Jews do not see Jesus' role in this in the same way Christians do that you would be left with the dilemma - what now?

It seems to me that the what now became an return to the weightier matters of the law such as justice, mercy and forgiveness and their spiritual significance in terms of the way our actions affect our spirit and soul. Given no satisfactory alternative to sacrifices existed the conclusion must logically be that God would not leave his people without means for atonement and so there was a gradual realisation that the role of the sacrifice in atonement was an external symbol of something deeper and that it had no role to play other than this - perhaps in much the same way that Christians view baptism in water today as symbolic of something spiritual with no actual power in and of itself... Although I must be careful here because Christians do still baptize in water and see this symbol as fundamentally important (so in that sense it is different).

Anyway, I would still be interested in your take on the article I linked to from aish in my previous post which hinted that the death of two men played a part in the sanctifying of the first temple and that their death was required by God to make atonement for it...

Blessings,
Alex

Tabatha said...

Hi all :)

- I just found this piece on sacrifice at a new website I've stumbled across. Some of the info in it may address the queries raised here:

It is important to note that in Judaism, sacrifice was never the exclusive means of obtaining forgiveness, and was not in and of itself sufficient to obtain forgiveness. For some transgressions sacrifice was not even effective to obtain forgiveness.

Jews believe that sacrifice is the least important way to gain forgiveness from G-d. Repentance is more important. Very few sins required sacrifice (per Leviticus).

For example., the animal sacrifices are only prescribed for unwitting or unintentional sin (Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:5, 15 and Numbers 15:30).

The one exception is if an individual swore falsely to acquit himself of the accusation of having committed theft (Leviticus 5:24-26).

Intentional sin can only be atoned for through repentance, unaccompanied by a sacrifice (Psalms 32:5, 51:16-19).

This is re-enforced: "And you shall call upon Me, and go, and pray to Me, and I will hearken to you. And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

Given its relative unimportance even in Biblical days, what comprised an acceptable Jewish sacrifice?

Many people think that Jewish sacrifice required blood sacrifice. This is not true.

The primary commandment about blood is that it shouldn't be eaten. (Leviticus 17:10) "And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people."

This can be paraphrased: "Don't eat blood." The next phrase (Leviticus 17:11) goes on to say, "For the soul of the flesh is in the blood and I have assigned it for you upon the altar to provide atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that atones for the soul."

This explains why blood is not to be eaten, and that when it is used as part of a sacrifice it must be sprinkled on the altar of the Temple.

Note that it doesn't say, "blood is the only way to atone" it says that you shouldn't eat the blood because its only use is for sacrifice.

Since this is a little confusing lets use an example: we can say that all little boys are people, but does that mean that all people are little boys?. So Leviticus says "Don't eat blood. You can use it for sacrifice," but it doesn't say that blood is the only acceptable sacrifice.

What is an acceptable sacrifice? Well, we know what isn't: the Torah strictly forbids human sacrifice, unlike most religions of the Biblical era.

What kind of sacrifices were allowed? Throughout the Book of Leviticus, only distinct species of animals are permitted for use in blood sacrifices.

There is also atonement by a cereal offering (Leviticus 5:11-13), atonement by gold (Num. 31:50), and atonement by the burning of incense: "So Moses said to Aaron, 'Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the L-RD." (Numbers 17:11). Remember that prayer and repentence must accompany sacrifices.

When Jews were not near the Temple (they lived too far away, or were captives as in Babylon) sacrifice was not done by them.

King Solomon said that even in the days of the Temple prayer could be used by those away from the temple to obtain forgiveness (I Kings 8:46-50).

Synagogues from the time of the Temple have been excavated by archeologists. They were used, as they are today, for prayer. Once or twice a year sacrifices were sent to the Temple from these Synagogues.

Now that there is no Temple there are no sacrifices. In accordance with the words of Hosea, we render instead of bullocks the offering of our lips (Hosea 14:3); i.e., prayer and repentence.


- does that help to clarify? I found it interesting, and it supports some of my earlier comments, I think. Hope it helps!

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Leibel,

Welcome to the conversation. You say that you cannot show where in the Torah there is a transition from sacrifice, to sacrifice plus repentance to repentance alone. You also commented that the sacrifices were solely meant to illustrate the consequences of sin. I do not want to put words in your mouth, so I do not want to necessarily conclude that the first comment I listed here includes the second. Is there any point in the Torah that you can point to in order to show that the ONLY purpose of the sacrifice was to show the consequences of sin? Thanks.

Tabatha,

Thank you for the latest information. I understand that there are many commands for sacrifice for unintentional sins. But following the same logic you laid out in your post, saying sacrifice is necessary for unintentional sins does not mean it is only necessary for unintentional sins. Have you by chance come across any articles explaining Leviticus 16:16, which as I quoted earlier, says (ESV), "Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, ALL their sins" (emphasis added). This seems to require a blood sacrifice for both intentional and unintentional sins? I would be very curious to hear an explanation of why that verse does not include intentional sins.

Thank you both (and Alex as well, of course).

Ken

Jerry T. said...

Just in case anyone is still reading this. I stumbled across and I dont' think my point has been made. I'll send in two installments cuz my first it said was too long to be accepted.

INstallment A.

The crux of the question appears to be why are sacrifices called for in the Jewish Bible if repentance alone was sufficient, in and of itself for the atonement of sins.

The difficulty in descerning the answer is in believing that there is some sort of dual method of atonement -- (1) ritual sacrifice or (2) personal repentance.

This duality is itself not an accurate understanding, imo. Instead, (1) and (2) work perfectly well togehter. they are not alternatives as much as complimentay means to reach something else.

G-d's goal for us, His greatest desire, is not about whether we have "sin" in us or "stains" etc, but is all about how we are treating His other children (the rest of humanity)

The text makes clear as others have said that G-d does not care about blood sacrifices etc, and instead cares most and utlimately only about how we treat each other. This all makes sense within the Jewish Bible given that we are all G-d's children and He cares therefore most about how we treat each other.

So, the proper phrasing of the question is -- how is it that He cares nothing about the sacrifices yet instructs us to perform them anyway? why do that?

My understanding is that both sacrifice and repentance are a means to an end, and the "end" is better treatment between humans. That is what the prophets keep saying over and over -- change your behavior toward your fellow man and G-d will forgive your sins. (example: Is 1:16-17 -- if you "seek" to do justice and "learn" to behave better, you will in G-d's eyes be "white as snow" even if your past deeds were "scarlet" level bad)

It may be that Christians are focused on obtaining the forgiveness itself, as if that were the "end" goal, because Christian theology is so rooted in concepts of the afterlife reward/punishment.

But to Jews who undestand G-d's end goal as being better behavior among His children, they may be able to focus more on G-d's ulitmate goal for us.

If you focus that way, as G-d appears to do Himself, you may be able to see that the what may appear as two different ways of atonement are actually simply two compatible means to get closer to G-d's end goal.


Jerry Tanenbaum

jerry T said...

INstallment B

Ritual can often be an aide in helping us to recoginize our errors, which in turn can inspire us to make behavioral change (the end goal, according to what the prohpets say about what G-d wants from us -- seek justice and walk humbly etc)

Sacrifice must therefore be understood in that context.

First, remember too that it was given as a tool for us at a time in which the entire world believed across all thologies that ritual sacrifce was needed to please G-d or the "gods". The revelation of the Bible that G-d cared far more about out interactions with each other was indeed a hugely revolutionary concept. It could not be delivered succesfully in a world consumed with sacrificial concepts, even the horror of human sacrifice. So, the issue for the revelation was how to transform these misplaced concepts of "pleasing G-d" by shedding blood or ceremonies etc with pleasing G-d through changed behavior? The answer was to use the sacrifical concept but in a new way, directed not to please G-d but instead to help us change our behaviors, which is what will actually please G-d in the end.

therefore, the sacrifice was primairly understood as applying to unknown or unintentional sin. We know that because the Bible is very clear that other forms of sin actually require persnal repentance and re-commitment to better behavior.

So, it should be readily understood that such ceremonies do indeed impress on a person that in addition to the mistakes he knows he has made, there are likely many more that are unknown to him at all.

This is a profound teaching for the individual, and if properly accepted and understood will prompt a person to do even deeper self-examination and, accordingly, increase his level of proper behavior toward others.

Understood in that fashion, the sacrifical ritual is an excellent tool in that regard.

In today's era which is no longer dependant on sacrifices anyway, that tool is substituted by the underlying reminder of such sin both thru study and by other rituals that force us to confront that concept -- such as the High Holy day services and ceremonies.

So, instead of two alternative methods. Sacifice (or other ritual) and repentance are both tools to reach the far more profound goal of G-d -- more moral and ethical treatment of His children.

the ultimate point of teh Jewish Bible is that if you change your behavior and commit to striving for justice and ethics etc ("seek" and "learn" better behaviors as said in Is. 1) you will be as "white as snow".

Could you get there by repentance alone without the ritual? Perhaps. Do you hav a better chance with both? Yes!!

That, in my humble opinion, answers the question as to why both are revealed to us in the Bible, even tho the Bible also reveals that G-d really does not care about blood sacrifices.

Jerry tanenbaum

Anonymous said...

WHY WON'T TAB AND CURL BACK UP WHAT YOU SAY WITH SCRIPTURE!?!

Not one lick of scripture has been presented to back up your claim accurately. All I've read is word of mouth philosophy and not a lick of Torah to back up the claims that God changed.
I'm sorry but you blaspheme God's word by suggesting God changed his mind.
ALSO, Christians have EVERY right to read and interpret Torah because it is the root that holds our faith by being able to show how Christ fulfilled every last prophesy, including David's description of how the Messiah would die. He describes dieing on a cross HUNDREDS of years before it was even invented.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE GIVE SCRIPTURE TO BACK YOUR 'NEW TESTAMENT'

Anonymous said...

OH!!!
AND FORGIVENESS THROUGH PRAYER AND REPENTANCE IS FROM CHRISTIANITY NOT JUDAISM!
Sorry I'm being so blunt and combative but the man asked a legit a question and you responded with venom.

Where's all the kindness you are saying is what is essential?

Brood of vipers.

Anonymous said...

Here's some prophesies about the Messiah and what the forgiveness of the worlds sins will cost. Or DID cost rather.

Isaiah 53:8, 11 [8] By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. [11] After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 700 B.C.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 700 B.C.

Psalm 22:16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. 1000 B.C.

Isaiah 53:5-6 [5] But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. [6] We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 700 B.C.

Psalm 69:4 Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal. 1000 B.C.

Isaiah 53:5-6 [5] But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. [6] We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 700 B.C.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 700 B.C.

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 500 B.C.

Psalm 22:17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. 1000 B.C.

Psalm 34:20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. 1000 B.C.

Isaiah 53:8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 700 B.C.

Isaiah 53:9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death 700 B.C.

Isaiah 53:8, 11 [8] By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. [11] After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 700 B.C.

BEATEN WITH A ROD
Micah 5:1 Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel's ruler on the cheek with a rod. 700 B.C.

Psalm 69:21 They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. 1000 B.C.

Ten Minas Ministries said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for joining the discussion. You have highlighted some important issues we discussed previously in this chain of comments about which I obviously agree wholeheartedly. For example, I (like you) also do not find any scriptural references to God changing the method of atonement.

That being said, I ask you to remember 1 Peter 3:15-16, "Always be prepared to give a reason to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

Ravi Zacharias has told of an old Indian proverb that says (roughly translated), "There is no point cutting off someone's nose then giving them a rose to smell." The gospel will not smell sweet to someone whose blood has just been made to boil.

Unfortunately, tone of voice is often difficult to convey in the written form, but overusing capital letters and exclamation points gives the impression of yelling. And while Jesus did use the term "brood of vipers," we are not Jesus. He has the moral authority because He is the perfect God. We are not, and should always humbly remember our own sinful condition. This is why Peter tells us that ours should be an approach of "gentleness and respect" so that no one can interpret out behavior as a black mark against Christ.

I personally love the saying, "But for the grace of God, there go I," because it is quite literally true. I am saved because of God's action, not my own efforts or worth. Therefore, I should never treat others as if I am in any way superior to them. Perhaps God shed His grace on me because I was the worse sinner.

So to all who make their contributions here, please feel free to do so, regardless of your theological slant. I will not delete anyone's comment. And for those of you who are not of the Christian persuasion, I do not place expectations upon your tone. After all, if you do not accept Jesus Christ as your Lord, why should I expect you to care what the scriptures say about the proper tone for debate?

But for any Christians on this blog, I would like to remind us all of Peter's admonition about how we should approach the world and encourage us all to do our best to abide by it.

I will leave all comments on the blog regardless of their source so I am not accused of attempting to slant the discussion one way or the other. But to the Christians in the group I would simply like to remind us all of the "marching orders" we have been given.

God bless.

Ken Coughlan

Nanette said...

Thank you so much to everyone involved for this very lengthy :) discussion! I've been wondering about this issue for a while and found this thread very helpful - both in pinpointing what exactly 'bothered' me from a Christian point of view regarding how Jews today atone for their sins, and in understanding how atonement and forgiveness work in Judaism.

Ken,
Thanks also for your last post regarding our marching orders as Christians. Well said!

God bless you all

I will go and check out the new threads Ken started through this one, now :)

Anonymous said...

Very valid question. And the answer is simple. "There is no remission of Sins without the shedding of blood"

No ifs or buts. The Jewish do not have any means of Atonement at present. Why would Gods "chosen" have no recourse for the last 2000 years??? And they control the world economy!

Proof that Yeshua is the Messiah and He put an end to sacrifice.