Straw Target

Was Jesus Called Rabbi?

In Spanish we call roses, ‘rosas’. In Welsh they are called rhosyn. Strangely enough, by whatever name you choose to call them, roses smell the same. RosesBy the same token, the idea of ‘Teacher’ in English is named ‘Professor’ in Spanish. Morah would be a closer transliteration in Hebrew and again, the idea of someone in whom we place trust and from whom we hope to learn is the same.

Straw Men

In the book, Last Letters of Jesus, I have used the term, Rabbi Yeshua bar Yosef for the Jesus of History. I have used these names for several reasons but the most important one is that I am trying to call attention to the fact that Jesus was a Jew. The spiritual movement of which he was a part was extremely important to Jewish history in particular and world history in general. Unfortunately, there are more straw men in this discussion than in an archery competition and it is easy to get caught up in largely irrelevant details.

My book was written for people who live in the modern world. Most people in the West understand the term ‘Rabbi’ and its implication. I used the term in the book to express the idea of a Jewish religious teacher. Unfortunately, most people know very little about Jewish language and culture.

Historically, the term Rabbenu was used to refer to Moses and means ‘our teacher/master’ but it is much more than that. The actual word for ‘teacher’ in Hebrew is ‘Morah’ but if I had used that term nobody would have known what I actually meant. In reality, the mostly likely term used by the students of Jesus would have been Maran. Indeed, Syriac Christians historically did use this term.

Pharisees

The term ‘Rabbi’ and the codification of its designation was created by the Pharisees after the fall of the Second Temple in 70 AD. After that war, the Pharisees had no choice but to make a sensible accommodation with the victorious Romans. The Pharisees set up a university in the north and became what we now call Rabbinical Judaism.

That being said, Rab or Rav was used as an honorific much earlier than the first century but its meaning was somewhat less codified. The Synoptic Gospels refer to the Jesus of Paul as ‘Rabbi’ and I would argue that this says more about the date of their composition than hint at what the students of the historical Jesus actually called him.

Names

Yeshua bar YosefWith regard to the term, ‘Yeshua’; Josephus refers to James the Just as the ‘brother of Jesus’. He uses the Greek term for the Hebrew Yeshua, ‘Iesous’. When we say the Latin Jesus in Spanish it sounds more like the original Hebrew or Aramaic, ‘Yesu’. I think there is general agreement amongst most scholars that the name of the historical Jesus would have been Yeshua so I will not labour the point.

The common slur the Pharisees used against the people they didn’t like was ‘bastard’ or (if they were women) ‘whore’. Within a strongly nationalistic movement, this insult would have been to put the victim beyond the pale.

Pantera

The common Jewish spin on the Jesus story of the Gospels is that Jesus was a bastard of a Roman soldier called Pantera. The Romans often used rape as weapon of war and as the accusation was that Mary was raped, it is not beyond the realms of imagination that the insult may be true.

Under Jewish law she should have been stoned to death unless the crime was committed in the countryside in which case the Roman would have to pay a fine and marry her. Obviously that was never going to happen.

Just as with the story of Beruryah who was a famous second century female teacher and the wife of a Gentile who converted and became famous for his Torah wisdom. Predictably enough, the scribes leave us a story of how she had sex with her students.

I’ve used the term, ‘bar Yosef’ in the book for several reasons, most of the early historical sources including Paul’s letters all agree that Yosef was the biological father of Jesus. I could see no reason to go against those sources. I’ve used the term ‘bar’ as in ‘son of’ in order to emphasis the fact that Jesus was first and foremost ‘Jewish’.

William Shakespeare

Most Jews tend to lose their mind if anyone mentions ‘Jesus’ and if you’ve been unlucky enough to see the evangelical posts on Facebook you can understand why. But Jewish sensibilities to one side, I’ve used the terms I have in order to focus people on the fact that John the Baptist, Jesus and his brother James the Just did not see themselves as anything other than Jewish and had no intention of starting a new religion. The words we can reliably attribute to them are an expression of a purely Jewish view of the world and focuses us on correcting ourselves instead of crowing over any advantages we think we might have.

As the bard said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Whether we call Jesus Rabbi or Maran it would not change the historical Jew that lived and died. The Last Letters of Jesus as a work of historical fiction, is an attempt to cut through the preconceived ideas and tribal flags and look with empathy at the life of an extraordinary Jewish man.

Historical Fiction – ‘The Last Letters of Jesus: The Secret of the Nazarenes

If you enjoyed this Blog, then you might like: ‘What did Jesus say and what did he actually mean’ and ‘Did Jesus Really Exists?

Research Paper: Did He Really Exist – The Jesus Family Tomb

Watch: The Jesus Family Tomb Reopened Part 1 and Part 2

The Last Letters of Jesus

Rose

Read Yourselves into a Story

By way of a reply to the Kabbalah Centre and to Billy Phillips, I would like to tell you a story:

Beelzebub is another word for Satan. The name Beelzebub has nine letters. Rav Berg who started the Kabbalah Centre came from Brooklyn in New York. The original name of Brooklyn was Breukelen named after the Dutch city. Breukelen also has nine letters. Did the Americans change the name to hide this infernal link? Rav Berg’s name was originally Gruberger, which also has nine letters, so if you have an elevated consciousness, like me, this is a clear indication that Rav Berg was really Satan and the Kabbalah centre is a work of the Devil.

Is this true, in the real world? No of course not! Rav Berg was a lovely man and a great teacher and the Kabbalah Centre, despite their many difficulties, bring much light into the world. So what is my point?

Any story has three meanings:

  1. The first meaning is in the mind of the author. The sum of that persons experiences and their beliefs about their past and their hopes for their future. You cannot find meaning number one without understanding the historical and philosophical context of a story.
  2. The second meaning is slightly harder to define. What did the original author want his audience to believe/feel about his story. Again this cannot be approached without understanding the contemporary context.
  3. Anyone else reading this story will bring with them their own context and prejudice unless they try very hard to understand meanings one and two.

For instance, when Shakespeare wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” he was not giving gardening tips. His implication is that a thing does not change its essence by changing its name.

exegesis-vs-eisegesisExegesis does justice

Exegesis, is the process of trying to find the deepest level of meaning within level one. In modern terms this is like trying to understand the Zen Koan, ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping’. Sometimes we cannot arrive at a profound understanding of a phrase or a word without a leap of logic. It is true then that logic will not carry us all the way to an elevated level of consciousness of which we are capable BUT when we do arrive at this point, our insights (if they are true) do not contradict logic.

For instance the word ‘Sh’ma’ means more than just ‘listen’ – Sh’ma Isra’el, at its deepest level means that the process of deeply listening forces us to abandon the ‘self’ and entirely give ourselves up to the silent voice of the Creator within. This transcendental unity within the sound of silence can only be found through experience but when found does not contradict logic.

Eisegesis leads to a misinterpretation

Eisegesis, on the other hand, is to take level three and run with it off the pitch. This is to impose one’s own meaning on a text or story and ignore level one and two as I did at the beginning of this article. Just as I did above, one could say that ‘as I am such an elevated person and my consciousness is so beyond normal people, if you don’t understand or accept my interpretation of this story then by implication you must be spiritually retarded’. This is an easy ploy that many people beside the Kabbalah Centre use. It is very tempting to live in the cave of our own self and listen to the warm comforting drone of our own opinions. Our ego finds validation in other people’s approbation.

If you were to indulge me in my opening story, the legacy of Rav Berg would be obscured by my fantasy. Everything that Rav Berg stood for and everything that he tried to achieve would be lost.

This fate did happen to another Rabbi two thousand years ago and this crime is still being propagated today. Many scholars agree, and you would find on investigation, that only 18% of the words attributed to Christ were likely to have been spoken by the Jesus of History. Billy Phillips is right, because the truth is that it is impossible to understand that 18% without understanding Kabbalah.

Unfortunately we have two thousand years of Shysters telling their own stories about this Rabbi and putting their own words into his mouth.

As an example, Golgotha – as the place of the skulls and its connection to Kabbalah. Actually, Mark was the first Gospel to be written. For reasons too numerous to mention here, it is obvious that it was written after 70 AD by a Greek who was not familiar with Israel or Hebrew customs. The name ‘Gol Goatha’ is Aramaic for ‘Place of Execution’ when Paul was creating his own version of Mithraism he used just enough Jewish sauce to give his fantasy a kick for Greek and Roman consumption. Errors like the meaning of Gol Goatha are legion. From Christ ridding two donkeys at the same time to his mother being a virgin it is obvious that the Church can’t make up their mind when or where their Christ was born, nor can they agree when or why he died.

Make-believe

While fantasies may be entertaining, they inevitably obscure truth and the truth about the Rabbi is so much more complicated and profound than any of the Christian or Jewish fantasies.

The Jesus of History said, “Why call me good? There is none good but one, God” (Mark 10:18) and this is typical of this Rabbi’s teaching – Zen like Koans that force us toward deep understanding. By the middle of the second century, Christian shysters had given us the long, seductive Greek speeches entirely in the syntax of the author, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” (John 14:6).

If I’ve learnt anything from the teachings of the Jesus of History it is that if Hashem is all goodness, then it would also be true to say that Hashem is all truth. When we abandon objective truth we are giving up on God and the world. If you tried to defend the name of Rav Berg in the face of my libellous fantasy, I could say that you are spiritually retarded but it wouldn’t make it true.

If you enjoyed this Blog, then you might like ‘What did Jesus say and what did he actually mean?

Research paper – ‘The Jesus of History: Did He Really Exist – The Jesus Family Tomb

Watch: The Jesus Family Tomb ‘Part One’ and ‘Part Two

Non-Fiction Book – ‘The True Sayings of Jesus: The Jesus of History Vs. The Christ Myth

The True Sayings of Jesus

Aliens

Early Jewish Christian

Before the fall of the Second Temple, the Jewish people were trying to decide the nature of God. With the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, the Romans prevented a reformation of Judaism and have left Jewish religious vision frozen in time like a fly in amber. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the texts of the early followers of James the Just have preserved an early vision of God, which is virtually identical to modern Kabbalah and is the complete opposite to the Blood God of the Judeans. These lost texts reveal a people struggling to come to terms with their own stories.

Twin Towers

On 9/11 two planes flew into the Twin Towers. The attacks on the Twin Towers are an historical fact and each story told about the event says more about the people telling the story than the event itself. Depending on your religion, cultural heritage or agenda, the story you favour regarding 9/11 might be one of the following:

  • The rise of fundamentalist Islam and the reigniting of a thousand year holy war caused the attack
  • Mossad and the Jews did it in order to blame innocent Muslims
  • It was an act of God punishing a sinful people
  • Government conspiracy to create a pretext for an invasion of the Middle East
  • Aliens did it

People cling to stories as if they were a part of themselves and rarely give any thought to the implication of those beliefs. When the story inculcates a concept of God, the images of that story tend to immediately bypass any capacity for reasoned thought and immediately lodge directly in the subconscious. For some Muslims supportive of the attack, it was the ‘will of God’. If any thought is given to the innocent people who were killed, the general conclusion is that the innocent dead are now martyrs.

Sunan Abu Dawud

Sunan Abu DawudThe Jewish people have been trying to reconcile the images created within the stories of the Torah (Old Testament) for over two thousand years. Most Christians know the name of the book but assume that it has been made irrelevant by Jesus. Islam (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38) initially embraced the Old Testament vision of God only to lose interest during the beginning of the twentieth century. The revival of a fundamentalist version of Islam by the Wahhabi movement has led many within the Ummah to enthusiastically embrace the moral ambivalence and blood thirsty horror of the Torah’s original vision.

So in the twenty-first century, we have reached a strange position. Because of these stories about God, some people ‘of conscience’ feel compelled to become atheists and reject this vision. Many people feel obliged to bring the horrors of the Torah to life and graphically re-enact the punishments described for the benefit of the world’s media.

Kabbalah

Torah

In researching early Jewish Christianity and its relationship with Kabbalah, I have found an obvious and clear philosophical link between the two, which we will shortly explore but the connection between Kabbalah and the Torah is less obvious and requires careful examination.

For most Jewish people, the Torah (Old Testament) and its stories are a tribal flag. In discussions with Goyim (Non-Jews) they tend to oscillate between two positions.

 

 

  • The Torah is the revealed word of God and everything that Jewish culture demands is sanctioned by God’. If passages involving racial genocide and animal sacrifice are mentioned, they often dig in like our Muslim supporters of the 9/11 attacks and use the same justifications for violence. The alternative argument used by many Kabbalists is to switch effortlessly to position B.

 

  • ‘The Torah doesn’t mean what it says it means: you have to speak Hebrew and learn the secret language of the Torah to understand it’. This is a clever avoiding technique and it is usually successful in shutting down any further discussion. To push beyond this point would be considered anti-Semitic. At this point, the telephone usually goes dead.

Stories

Before it is anything else, the Bible is a collection of stories. Like 9/11 many of those stories are based on real events. For example the actual Hyksos expulsion from Egypt is a dramatised account detailed within the stories of the Exodus. It is disingenuous to say that this story doesn’t mean what it says it means. You cannot have your scholars declare the historical accuracy of the text and then say it doesn’t mean what it says it means.

The Torah then is part history, part cultural repository of proverbs, poetry, and philosophy. We should not be surprised when events or characters are merged and changed to reflect the agenda and view of the writer; that doesn’t change the reality upon which the story is based. Serious problems arise, however, when the writer presumes to speak for God.

I could say that the Governments of the world caused 9/11 to bring about ‘one-world-government’. I could say that Mossad organised the attack to further its hegemony in the Middle East. I could even say Aliens did it but the moment I say that God wanted three thousand people to die I cross a line. We must be very careful of the stories we tell. Stories can change the world.

Genocide

For believers, when God orders the racial genocide of the Amalekites and the Midianites (1 Samuel 15:3/ Numbers 31) that’s considered good. When the Nazis try to do the same that’s bad. When God orders the sacrifice of every first born son (Exodus 13:2) that’s good. When a woman wants an abortion that’s bad. When God wants to have a goat thrown down a cliff, to a painful death. (Leviticus 16:10) Good! When Satanists sacrifice goats: bad. The Gospels hint at the indignation that many Galileans felt at this moral hypocrisy. We know from Epiphanius of Salamis that many Galilean movements rejected the books of Moses as forgeries and clung to an oral teaching not now available. I would posit that it is this disenchantment that led to the evolution of Jewish belief within Kabbalah.

Stories then are reflections of the inner life of the teller. Over a thousand years, the inner life of the Jewish people matured. Their vision of the blood God of the Torah evolved into the most profound transcendental teachings the world has ever known. How? As we have previously discussed, the Israeli Elohist view of God is incorporeal.

God

Sometime during the first millennium BC this view deepened and gave rise to a view of God as the ‘force that animates all life’, within which ‘we are all united’. From being a God who demanded sacrifice he became a God that treasured all life.

Exodus 13:2 ‘Sacrifice to me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me’. Became: Psalm 145:9 ‘The Lord is good to all; his loving-kindness extends to all he made.’

An argument can be made that many of the statements made by the historical Jewish teacher we know as Jesus were based on the Torah. ‘Why call me good? Jesus answered ‘There is none good but God alone.’ Mark 10:18. is obviously a mirror of Psalm 145:9. But it is hard to trace the genesis of this evolution.

Modern Kabbalah

When I say modern Kabbalah, I am referring to the teachings of Rav Ashlag and his commentary on the ‘Ten Luminous Emanations’ and Rav Kook who said that ‘in a still small voice the wisdom of Israel speaks through Kabbalah’.

Today Rav Michael Berg and Rabbi David Aaron are possibly the most accessible teachers of this view of Kabbalah. I do not have the space here to go into these concepts in detail but will just touch on the parallels.

When Jesus taught the concept of ‘Repentance’ we can see this mirrored in the Kabbalistic concept of ‘Teshuvah’. When Jesus taught the ‘Kingdom of God’, we can see the concept of ‘Emunah’. So much is obvious. But what of more complex ideas?

Point of View

Kabbalah teaches us to not give in to the evil inclination to ‘receive for the self alone’. We learn to find the path of ‘receiving in order to share’. We learn how to be proactive. When Jesus says, “if you are struck on one cheek, offer them the other. If you are pressed to walk a mile, go with them two.” From a Western or Christian point of view, this approach makes no sense but in the context of Kabbalah it is the only logical course of action.

When the Nazarene movement says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.” It is reflected in the teachings of Kabbalah ‘Baat Kol’ which is the ‘still small voice’ that Rav Kook, of blessed memory explained.

Only by viewing the world through the prism of Kabbalah can a statement like the following make sense. ‘But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.’ Within the Father of lights we are all one and if my enemy is me, then in forgiving him I am forgiving myself.

Which Path?

In 2015 in Paris, Colorado Springs and in Duma, fundamentalists calling on the name of Allah, Jesus, and Yahweh, respectively killed too many innocent people. These fanatics killed because they believed a story about God. On 9/11 three thousand people were killed because of a story that had started three thousand years before in the Torah. In the Q-Document, the historical Jesus taught that the stories we tell are of the utmost importance. Every second of every day we are all faced with a crossroad and we must choose the path of life or the path of death.

It is only within Modern Kabbalah that we can learn to understand how to take the path of life. It is fitting that I should end with the words of the great Rav Kook,‘ The tendency of unrefined people to see the divine essence as embodied in the words and in the letters alone is a source of embarrassment to humanity, and atheism arises as a pained outcry to liberate man from this narrow and alien pit, to raise him from the darkness of focusing on letters and expressions, to the light of thought and feeling, finally to place his primary focus on the realm of morals. Atheism has a temporary legitimacy, for it is needed to purge away the aberrations that attached themselves to religious faith because of a deficiency in perception and in the divine service. This is its sole function in existence…’

Maybe the historical Jesus would see our belief in these ancient stories about God as a kind of idolatry. Maybe within our stubbornness and racial pride, he would see the ultimate blasphemy.

If you enjoyed this Blog, then you might like: What is Spirituality and can it be found in a book?

Watch: Did the Jesus of History invent Christianity?

Non-Fiction Book: The True Sayings of Jesus – The Jesus of History Vs. The Christ Myth

The True Sayings of Jesus