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March 24, 1978 - Image 53

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-03-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

;54 :Friday.; 14024 01978

lif211E11011 ionsaixrits

'Jewish Expressions on Jesus' in Historical Perspective

"Jewish Expressions on
Jesus," an anthology -edited
by Trude Weiss-Rosmarin
(Ktav) proved so fascinating
that the temptation occur-
red to paraphrase it "The
Strangest Story Ever Told."
One wishes that this
documented and penetrat-
ing analysis of the historical
Jesus were available to all
those enticed by the current
proselytizing process.
There always was a dual
Jesus image among Jews:
"Jesus as one of us after all,"
versus "Jesus of the
Crucifixion, Deicide, and
the ultimate cause of
Jewish persecution."
The contributors to the
anthology include out-
standing authorities: J. Z.
Lauterbach, S. Zeitlin, J.
Klausner, Martin Buber,
- Abba Hillel Silver, and
Talmudic references to
Jesus do not include one liv-
ing witness. Everything re-
corded was by hearsay and
is rather vague, fragmen-
tary, and generally depre-
catory. It is probable that
the talmudic attempt to de-
rogate Jesus was a reaction
to the Gospel's apparent dis-
tortion of the historical con-
cepts of Judaism. One can-


not escape the conclusion
that the historical Jesus
bears little resemblance to
the Jesus of Faith and Reve-
lation, for the obvious
reason that the ideas woven
around him occurred de-
cades and centuries after
his death, when verification
was not possible.
Zeitlin asks two very per-
tinent questions: How can a
doctrine that proclaims for-
giveness hold the Jews of all
generations guilty of
deicide? And further: If Is-
rael can deal with present
Germany, with the memory
of the. Holocaust still alive,
what remote justification
can there be for "eternal
Second, if the doctrine
that God decreed Jesus
to be crucified as a sac-
rifice for the sins of man-

kind is valid, then how
and why should guilt be
One is intrigued by re-
corded inconsistencies, con-
tradictions about basic as-
pects of life of Jesus. The
various names ascribed to
Jesus in the Talmud are of
significance to Lauterbach.
The most common name is
Jesu, an abbreviation of
"may his name be annihi-
lated." Another interpreta-
tion is the dropping of the
last letter in Joshua —
which means savior or re-
deemer. Another name
given to Jesus was Balaam,
which refers to false gods, or
it could be "without a

Some even referred to
him as the unknown, as
"John Doe" or the "Lame
One" due to one version that
he cut his thigh and placed
in the open wound the
parchment with the letters
of "the Holy name".
Another name given to
Jesus was "son of lustful
Other questions raised
are: Who was the legal hus-
band of Mary? Did she con-
ceive while betrothed, or did
she conceive in impurity?
It is very clear to any
neutral observer that the

Jason Tickton's 45th Anniversary
as Beth El Music Director Cited

Prof. Jason H. Tickton,
music director for Temple
..Beth El, will be honored on
his 45th anniversary with
the temple at its annual
Hebrew music festival 8:30
p.m. March 31.
"The Sacred Service (Av-
odet Hakodesh)" will be fea-
tured at the music festival,
with the Oakland Univer-
sity Singers of 100 voices
participating, under the di-
rection of John Dovaras,
Cantor John H. Redfield as
soloist, the Temple Beth El
Choir, Chorale and Religi-
ous School Choir, directed
by Mrs. Jason H. Tickton.
In addition there will be a
"Concertino for Flute,
Clarinet and Piano" by
Cindy, Kim and Collette
Salon Rosner and the rendi-
tion of "America" from
Bloch's Symphony
"America." Dr. Richard C.
Hertz will be the narrator
and will pay tribute to Er-
nest Bloch.
A reception honoring
Prof. and Mrs. Tickton
will follow. The public is
The music festival is
sponsored by the Sandra T.
Bloom Memorial Music

Beth Shalom
Dialogue Series

Cong. Beth Shalom will
have the fourth program in
its classroom dialogues
series 8 p.m. Thursday in
the synagogue.
Rabbi David Nelson will
lead the session entitled,
"Understanding and Lead-
ing Prayers." Refreshments
will be served.

music at Wayne State Uni-
versity for 41 years.
He is a composer of
liturgical music, organ
recitalist, lecturer and
contributor to periodi-
cals. For 10 years he con-
ducted WSU's radio
course, "Introduction to
Music Literature," and
for five years he has been
the lecturer for the De-
troit Symphony Or-
He twice received the
award for the Adult Educa-
Prize for Creativity in
Fund of Temple Beth El.
Prof. Tickton was edu- the Arts, and last year was
rated at Wayne State Uni- the winner at WSU of the
versity. He has been af- "President's Award for Ex-
filiated with Temple Beth cellence in Teaching," one of
El for the past 45 years and six recipients out of a fa-
has served as professor of culty of 1,500.

Archeologist Gordon Speaks
for Shaarey Zedek Program

Archeologist Dr. Cyrus H.
Gordon will speak under the
auspices of the Cong.
Shaarey Zedek Cultural
Commission 8 p.m. April 4
in the synagogue, sponsored
by the Berry Family.
Professor of Hebraic
studies at New York Uni-
versity, Dr. Gordon has un-
dertaken archeological as-
signments in Iraq, Israel,
Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Leba-
non, Iran, Turkey and
Greece. The former chair-
man of the department of
Mediterranean studies at
Brandeis. University, Dr.
Gordon has lectured
throughout the U.S. and in
Latin America, Europe, the
Near and Far East and in


He is the author of several
books and lectures both on
archeology and Israeli-Arab
The community is invited
free of charge.

above references are defi-
nitely biased in tone even if
true in substance, and as
indicated previously must
be in retaliation for the
Gospel's hostile reporting of
the events leading to the
Zeitlin even questions
other data. There is no
proof that Jesus expres-
sed himself to be God,
since he called himself
"Ben Adam" — the son of
Man. There is even one
version that there were
two Jesus figures that
came from Egypt with
similar sermons. Zeitlin
also challenges the date
of Jesus' birth, and fi-
nally estimates it vaguely
between 6 BCE and 6 CE.
The birth at Bethlehem is
to Zeitlin another conscious
fiction, as David's family
came from Bethlehem and a
conscious attempt was
made to trace Jesus' geneol-
ogy to King David in order
to conform to biblical
Zeitlin continues to probe
further into the idea of bet-
rayal, since Jesus' identity
was well known and he
could have been arrested at
any time. It was also inti-
mated that the betrayal was
caused by a demoniacal
force of a mentally dis-
turbed person.
The date of his arrest is
also in doubt — rather sur-
prising since the first day of
Passover or the day before
Passover is enough of a
memorable event.
The significant historical
issue is whether the trial
was essentially political or
religious. One discrepancy
cited was that Pilate was
said to have washed his
hands after the crucifixion,
symbolizing his innocence.
The latter was a Jewish and
not a Roman custom.
Zeitlin points out three
distinct differences bet-
ween Jesus and the Jews:
resist no evil; total rejec-
tion of divorce; sinful
thoughts are as evil as
sinful deeds. As may be
noted, all three principles
represent an unrealistic
morality. Generally,
Jewish ethics emphasize
deeds, not mere affirma-
tion of faith.
From all reports, Jesus
regarded himself as a
Jewish teacher, and his
quarrel was with the
Pharisees, not with all
Jews. Very recent research
supports this concept with
the revelation that the
Greeks translated errone-
ously the biblical term "Ju-
deans" to mean all Jews.
Therefore, Jesus' strong
condemnation was limited
to the Judean faction.
Like all figures appealing
to the masses, Jesus
preached what his people
wanted to hear. Hence
numerous inconsistencies
abound, depending on the
audience. Though Jesus be-
lieved it impossible for a
rich man to enter heaven,
he did not hesitate to dine
with the wealthy; and also
stated that "the poor ye
have always with you."


Though forgiveness was
his motto, he did not hesi-
tate to chase the money
changers out of the temple.
Changing money, when
*multitudes gathered in
Jerusalem, was considered
a useful function. Under-
standably, a service charge
was added. That some of the
moneychangers were dis-
honest may be taken for
When Jesus was told
his mother and brother
were waiting to see him,
he said: "Who is my
mother and brother, for
whoever do the will of
God, the same is my
brother, sister, and
mother." This is not in
keeping with the com-
mandment to "honor
thine father and mother."
This also supports the
idea that his own family
rejected some of his
While he first refused to
pay the Roman tax, a half
shekel, he did compromise:
"Render unto Caesar the
things that are Caesar's and
unto God that are his". The
latter remained a rationali-
zation for many future in-
equities that the Church ig-
It appears to this re-
viewer that Jesus was not
really the placid person por-
trayed, but was highly re-
strained in his aggression.
Even his silence at the trial
manifested hostility; and
his few remarks were chal-
lenging, angry and aggres-
What is particularly in-
comprehensible, to this re-
viewer at least, is the un-
realistic dictum of "Love
thine enemy", as it is
psychologically untenable.
It would be wholly credible
to preach for understanding
the enemy and refrain from
revenge. But how can a
Dachau survivor love his
torturer? Why turn the
other cheek? Why glorify
This wide gap between
doctrine and reality may
account for the increased
manifeStation of
psychological repression
and conflict, and the need
for confession in religi-
ous people who are
taught to "turn the other
cheek". Such passivity
was not even the basic
practice of Christianity
in its history of two
One is left with two dis-
tinct impressions: First, the
remarkable technique that
enabled Paul of Tarsus to

sell the religion of the
downtrodden to the masters
of Rome. Madison Avenue
could take lessons. Even as-
suming that the times were
ripe for a spiritual change
from the Hedonism, it still
was a remarkable feat.
Historical truth was un-
doubtedly a casualty in the
sweep across the Roman
The other distinct impre-
ssion is that knowledge of
the historical Jesus may
serve to increase the self es-
teem of Jewish heritage and
thus render our youth im-
mune to the inroads of the
various cults.
Another book, "Jesus
— Historical Review of
the Gospels," by Michael
Grant (Scribners) is a
non-Jewish historian's
point of view.

Except for the talmudic
irreverent allusions to
Jesus, it is noteworthy that
this academic study is es-
t with

Grant adds two signific-
ant points: that Jesus knew
he was going to meet the
fate of John the Baptist and
he wanted to achieve his
mission, in martyrdom in
the city of Jerusalem, what
he had failed to achieve
alive, in the Galilee.
The author corroborates
that Jesus was unduly pro-
vocative in his "temple
cleansing," that his replies
to the Sanhedrin and to Pi-
late were evasive and chal-
Though Jesus was ul-
timately sentenced by Pi-
late as the rebel "King of
the Jews," the author in-
timates that both Jewish
factions, the Pharisees
and the Saducees, were
hostile to him because of
his claim to be the son of
God and to have the
power to forgive human
sins — a sacrilegious pre-
sumption to the Jews.
For that reason, it was
considered not improbable
that some Jews collaborated
with the Romans or at least
did not vehemently protest
the sentence.
Another point the author
makes is that of the nearly
100,000 volumes written
about Jesus since 1800,
each school of thought
looked upon Jesus as a re-
flection of its own wishes,
philosophy and milieu.
To some people Jesus was
the Rebel, to others the
Pacifist, the Social Re-
former, the Champion of the
Poor and Downtrodden, the
Upholder of Civil Author-
ity, the Militant, the
Preacher, Teacher of Ethics,
the Savior, the Healer, the
Redeemer, the Son of God.
With such universal ap-
peal, how can one fail?
There is something for
everyone. Does it not re-
mind us of the present-day
politicians who win elec-
tions by being everything to
The book is a fair and im-
partial presentation of a dif-
ficult and "touchy" subject.

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