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 |   JUDAISM IS UNIQUE |

 

 

Judaism vs. Christianity:

 

Revelation on Sinai vs. Jesus’ Resurrection

 

 

RABBI MOSHE BEN-CHAIM

 

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The following italics are excerpts from “The Case for Christ: What’s the evidence for the resurrection?” by Brent Landau (https://bit.ly/CaseJesus)

 

In 1998, Lee Strobel, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and a graduate of Yale Law School, published “The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus.” Strobel had formerly been an atheist and was compelled by his wife’s conversion to evangelical Christianity to refute the key Christian claims about Jesus. Paramount among these was the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, but other claims included the belief in Jesus as the literal Son of God and the accuracy of the New Testament writings. Strobel, however, was unable to refute these claims to his satisfaction, and he then converted to Christianity as well.

 

As a religious studies professor specializing in the New Testament and early Christianity, I hold that Strobel’s book and the movie adaptation have not proven the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection for several reasons.

 

First Corinthians, written by the Apostle Paul to a group of Christians in Corinth to address controversies that had arisen in their community. Paul is thought to have written this letter around the year 52, about 20 years after Jesus’ death. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul gives a list of people to whom the risen Jesus appeared. These witnesses to the resurrected Jesus include the Apostle Peter, James the brother of Jesus, and, most intriguingly, a group of more than 500 people at the same time. Many scholars believe that Paul here is quoting from a much earlier Christian creed, which perhaps originated only a few years after Jesus’ death. But what of the 500 people who saw the risen Jesus at the same time? First of all, biblical scholars have no idea what event Paul is referring to here. But one leading scholar has suggested that this event was added to the list of resurrection appearances by Paul, and that its origins are uncertain. Strobel also argues that the resurrection is the best explanation for the fact that Jesus’ tomb was empty on Easter morning. Some scholars would question how early the empty tomb story is. There is significant evidence that the Romans did not typically remove victims from crosses after death. Therefore, it is possible that a belief in Jesus’ resurrection emerged first, and that the empty tomb story originated only when early critics of Christianity doubted the veracity of this claim. But even if we assume that the tomb really was empty that morning, what is there to prove that it was a miracle and not that Christ’s body was moved for uncertain reasons? Miracles are, by definition, extremely improbable events, and I see no reason to assume that one has taken place when other explanations are far more plausible.

 

 

This means Paul was the sole claimant, but even this is uncertain, as no one witnessed Paul making such a claim. But even had Paul made such a claim, obviously damaging to this purported claim is that the very people Paul claims as witnesses, fail to transmit the claim of resurrection. This is akin to a person reading a story of a wizard who performed in front of many, and claiming it is historical truth, based solely on the story. However, without those witnesses transmitting the story, the story goes unproven. Paul too was repeating a previous creed, not recording what he and others witnessed. “Strobel also argues that the resurrection is the best explanation for the fact that Jesus’ tomb was empty on Easter morning”. Paul adopted a “faith.” Resurrection is a belief; it’s not a “witnessed event” of a dead body undergoing resurrection. In fact, nothing was witnessed. To suggest an empty tomb proves anything is irrational.  “Therefore, it is possible that a [mere] belief in Jesus’ resurrection emerged first, and that the empty tomb story originated [was fabricated] only when early critics of Christianity doubted the veracity of this claim.” Thus, resurrection is conjecture.

 

In stark contrast, Revelation at Sinai was witnessed by 2 million Israelites, whose tribal names, family names, census, dates, and travels are unanimously transmitted for over 3300 years. Had Revelation been a fabrication, the Jewish nation today would possess that fabricated story (Moses tried to lie), plus the “actual” history of those Jews, had there been one. For masses will not accept a liar (Moses) who tells the nation 9 times in Deuteronomy “Don’t forget that you heard God’s voice emanating from the fiery Mt. Sinai.”  Had Moses lied with these words, the people would not abandon their true history and accept lies, and then lie to their children about miracles they never saw. They would never transmit the Biblical narrative Moses fabricated. But, as there is a single world history of the Jews on May 2, 1312 BC (Revelation at Sinai) this verifies Revelation as fact. Mass witnesses is the litmus test of all historical truths. This exists at Revelation and in no other religion’s claims. Other nations unanimously accepted Jewish history as they too know that if masses unanimously share one history, it is impossible to get so many people to lie.

It is vital to note that the Old Testament prophets performed miracles in front of masses, such as the Jordan River splitting before Joshua and the Jews, the fire which descended from heavens in response to Elijah’s prayer in front of the idolatrous Baal worshipers, the sun standing still for Joshua in response to his prayer, and Naaman’s leprosy vanishing and his skin returning to that of a youth after immersing in the Jordan river 7 times at Elisha’s instruction. With miracles, God thereby endorses His true prophets who taught His Biblical will. But such witnessed miracles are unheard of regarding later personalities of the New Testament or in any other religion. This is why such stories of Jesus’ resurrection are doubted, as there are no witnesses. All that exists are “stories” of witnesses, but no individuals transmitting eye-witnessed events from that supposed event, and onward. The claim of resurrection first surfacing 20 years after Jesus died adds to the doubts.

When God wants man kind to accept a truth, He makes certain masses witness the event and the story undergoes no doubt whatsoever. This is precisely why God orchestrated Revelation on Sinai with 2 million witnesses hearing intelligence emanating from flames. For no earthly life form can speak from inside an inferno. It was God’s voice, commanding the Jews in His 10 Commandments. He then dictated to Moses the Bible. God never gave another religion or changed this one. In fact, in His Bible, God forbids any alteration of the Bible: “Be careful to observe only that which I command upon you: neither add to it nor detract from it” (Deut. 13:1). Thus, the New Testament’s Biblical additions, detractions and changes violate God’s words. This is an authoritative reason. And from the point of reason too, this is sensible that God commands we do not change His word, for He knows the future, and no consideration demands His perfect Bible system be altered. For man remains unchanged throughout time, with his unchanging human nature: psychologically, morally and philosophically. As man does not change, God’s perfect system does not change.

The Bible ends with the words that Moses was the greatest of all prophets: “Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses—who knew God face to face” (Deut 34:10).  Thus, any changes to Bible proposed by Jesus violates this verse as well. The Rabbis of Jesus era did not recognize Jesus as a prophet, as he failed to comply with God’s test of a prophet: “If the prophet speaks in the name of the LORD and the oracle does not come true, that oracle was not spoken by the LORD; the prophet has uttered it presumptuously: do not stand in dread of him” (Deut. 18:22).

 

This of course is a very small glimpse into Judaism. A more encompassing appreciation of God’s wisdom is only possible through much more study. We invite you to use our Search tool, and our Philosophy and Bible Study links to continue learning about the Bible, the Jewish religion.

 

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