Yeshua in the Talmud Lesson 1 by Joseph Yeshua in the Talmud Lesson 1 by Joseph Shulam It is a common

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    Yeshua in the Talmud

    Lesson 1

    by Joseph Shulam

    It is a common misconception both in the Jewish world and the Christian world, that the New Testament belongs to the Church and not to the Jewish people, and that Jesus established a new religion, a new faith. That the old concept is not valid that the Judaism is the religion of truth and the only true G- od of the Jewish people who are the elect people of G- od. Concept speaking about the new Israel or about the spiritual Israel reflect this idea, which is very prevalent in the Christian world, that the Church has taken the place of Israel and the Jews, and that if they (the Jews) want to be saved, they need to become Christians, by implication to leave Judaism behind.

    When we examine the Biblical material and the post Biblical material in Judaism, we see that the New Testament, it’s teaching, it’s person and it’s message, is deeply routed in the world of the first century, in the Land of Israel, and in the Jewish heritage, both the Biblical heritage of the Old Testament, and of course, the rabbinical heritage of the contemporaries of Jesus Christ in the first century.

    This series of lectures is intended to bring the knowledge and experience that rabbinical Judaism has on the issue of the Messiah, and more specifically, to deal with how these literal passages from the Talmud and from the Mishnah effect our understanding of the world of Jesus Christ and of the New Testament itself.

    There are a number of definitions that we need to define and clarify before we actually will get into the material. The first definition is what is the New Testament. Is the New Testament the document of the Church or is it a historical document of the Jewish

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    people. First let us deal with term New Testament. In Christianity, it has being ingrained that there is a New Testament and there is an Old Testament.

    The term New Testament of course is not from the book that we call today the New Testament. The term New Testament comes for the first time from the mouth of Jeremiah the Prophet. In Jer chapter 31 verse 31, the prophet says in the name of the Lor-d, that G-od will make a New Testament, New Covenant, a new contract with the people of Judea and with the people of Israel. The term there certainly does not imply a book. It refers to the covenant, just like the covenant that was made with Israel on Sinai, or like the covenant that was made with Abraham on Mount Moria.

    Calling these books Old Testament and New Testament, is a misnomer. The books are really libraries that contains material that was written over a period of a thousand years by, some people might say, over 40 different writers, that were compiled to make up the Bible. Just considering the vast amount of time and cultural settings in which the Bible was written, such as during the period of wilderness wondering with Moses, the beginning of the house of David in the kingdom of Israel, then under the divided kingdom influenced strongly by Assyria, and later Babylon later, then during the return from the exile by Ezra and Nehemiah. Hundreds of years and spanning those periods, and different languages have made their impression upon the people of Israel. These languages are reflected in the documents of the Bible.

    The New Testament is the same way. It was written over a period of a hundred years from the time that Jesus, Yeshua, was crucified, until the end of the century. New Testament writers, some Israelites, some immigrants to Israel, visitors, foreign students, like the apostle Paul who was originally from Tarsus, but he came to Jerusalem to study in the school of Gamaliel. Some that came were gentile doctors, like

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    Luke. In other words, we have here a library of books inspired by the Holy Spirit, written over a thousand years, and it would be a great oversimplification to refer to these compilations as the Old Testament and the New Testament.

    Yes! The book that we call the Old Testament or in Hebrew the TaNaH includes Torah, Neveem u-Ktuvim which means Torah, Prophets and Writings. These are the three major divisions of the book that in English we call the Old Testament, within there are many different kinds of literature. It is not only a question of a legal covenantal document or a testament, but it also has poetry, like the Song of Songs, beautiful love poems. It has the song of Deborah, which is the war monument to the victory of Deborah and Barak over the Cananites. Also the psalms of David that are deeply devotional and emotional hymns of praise or requests for help from G-od. It includes historical documents like portions of the book of Samuel, and 1st and 2nd Kings, and 1st and 2nd

    Chronicles. There are prophesies, like the classical prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Amos and Habakkuk. This book is a very broad piece of literature that deals with everything from the legal documents to stories told around the camp fire, poetry and historical documents.

    One can not just lump the whole thing and say, the whole thing is just the Old Testament, and then say - well, this is the Law. In the New Testament, as well we’ve have a very similar spread of literature types. Some legal, there are laws in the New Testament. Paul speaks a number of times, and the apostles speak in Acts number 15, actually make legal demands, laws that are abiding upon the Church and upon the followers of Jesus Christ, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, each one having their specific requirements that the apostles, by the power of the Holy Spirit, make. So one can’t say as traditional Christianity has said, that the Old Testament is law, and the New Testament is grace. No! There is grace in the law, and there is

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    law in the grace that we receive from Jesus Christ. Lumping these things together and saying, Old Testament and New Testament misses the point.

    This is not terminology that is biblical. This is terminology stems from Christian tradition attributed to the books that we call the Bible, the book. The Bible means the book. The book of all books. Now, when we talk about the New Testament, the question that needs to be asked is, is it a book of Christianity, or is it a Jewish book. When one examines Christianity, even in the second century or in the 20th century, he immediately sees that issues the New Testament deals with, are non-Christian issues. It doesn’t deal with the Ecclesiastical problems, it doesn’t deals with the issues of the Holy seed, or the Pope, or archbishops, or cardinals, none of these things, that are all the marks of Christianity. Neither the holidays, nor the politics, nor the basic tenets of Christianity are really addressed in the New Testament. All the issues mentioned are issues that are involved within the Jewish world of the first century. For example, one of the main issues which Paul discusses in a number of the letters, was what to do with the Gentiles. Should the Gentiles keep the law of Moses, or not. Should they be circumcised, or not. This is not a problem of the church, Jews asked these questions and Jews gave the answer to these questions by the inspiration of G- od and the Holy Spirit.

    The New Testament framework is the framework of Judaism, the early church is a Jewish church. G-od had to actually, with the supernatural vision, convince the apostle Peter that he had to go and preach to Gentiles, to Cornelius and his household in Caesarea. G-od did not make it clear before that vision to the apostles that the Gentiles are part of there mission. This had to take place only at the end of Yeshua’s ministry, before he ascends to heaven and after his resurrection. He sends the apostles to all the nations. In other words, the three years that he taught the apostles, the people of Israel, argued with

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    the Pharisees and with the Sadducees. During these three years, we have no Biblical record that Yeshua told them: Listen, the prophet of Israel - Isaiah says - my house will be a house of prayer of all the nations. We do have the very different story of a Syropheonician woman that comes to Yeshua to be healed. He tells her, one doesn’t give the food of the children to the little puppy dogs. Only after she presses him and impresses him with her humility and with her hunger to be healed in the name of the G-od of Israel, Yeshua healed her daughter. There is no impression from his ministry that the Gentiles have a part in the domain of salvation. And that domain of salvation for Yeshua and the apostles is the Jewish world, the Torah world, the world of the Land of Israel in the first century, from which Yeshua never left. He never went to school in Rome, and he didn’t graduate from Harvard.

    The issue is, is the New Testament the Jewish book, yes or no? If it is a Jewish book, then in order to understand it, we need to put it back in it’s place in life, back to it’s historical, linguistic, cultural, religious background. I believe that this is the only way that we can understand the New Testament and what its real meaning is for us today. If we will take it back into it’s first century contexts, and in that context of the 1st century, which is the Jewish context, you could say it has touches of Hellenistic Judaism, but it is not of Hellenism in itself, but only of Hellenistic Judaism, these were some of the cultural constrains in which the Land of Israel was engulfed at that time. However, still it is a Jewish book, a Jewish message.

    It starts with the words: ‘This is the book of the generations of Yeshua the Messiah, the son