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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2013
A great simple book that goes straight to the point. Don't expect in-depth scholarly exegeses of Biblical texts or theological wonders, just a few clear points and references which prove the basic thesis. To go deeper, you'd have to read the works of Professor Emeritus Geza Vermes, who's been making this very same point for the past 30 years, with important books such as The Authentic Gospel of Jesus,The Changing Faces of Jesus,Jesus the Jew, etc. In fact, this is exactly what Boteach's book does: provokes you to search deeper and go further to discover the "original" Jesus. With candour, humour and accessibility, KOSHER JESUS opens your mind, whether you are a Christian or a Jew - challenging you to venture out of your comfort zone in a new (and necessary) journey toward a real appreciation of one of the most exceptional (kosher) Jews who ever lived.
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Rabbi S explains clearly and simply why the majority the Jewish people do not and cannot in his view believe in Jesus. In my long experience most Christians struggle to really understand this. Rabbi S wants the Jewish people to embrace Jesus as a kind of defender of the Jewish people and its religion. He tries repeatedly to make the claim that Jesus was in fact really a political zealot of some kind and not a religious threat.This he fails to do. He provides no supporting evidence from chronaclers of the time of Jesus (like the Jewish historian Josephus) to support the view that Jesus was politically motivated. Rabbi S quotes one or two lines that could be misconstrued as suggesting that Jesus was a political zealot but it does not stand firm and is rather wishy washy.

Surprisingly Rabbi S tells us that Jesus' teachings were not in conflict with the Pharasees, the religious group of His day of which Jesus Himself so the Rabbi claims was a member of too. This is in complete disagreement to the New Testament Gospel accounts which implies the opposite. Who is right? The Rabbi clearly demonstrates repeatedly that many of the teachings of Jesus were in complete agreement with the Pharasees and that Rabbi S believes all Jesus teachings were all rooted in Judaic past teachings

Rabbi S takes issue with the Gospel writers concerning the emphatic anti-semitic phrasing. He believes the editors have deliberately perverted, changed the emphasis/slant making the oppressive, brutal and cruel Romans goody goodies in the story of Jesus and the Jews the 'baddies'. He argues convincingly that the Gospels have been whitewashed/sanitised to make the tyrranical and cruel Pontius Pilate seem like 'a very nice reasonable, affable person when the historical evidence shows clearly the complete opposite. Pilate was brutally cruel as historical documents testify.

Rabbi S says that there was no historical evidence to show that prisoners were released at the Passover as the Gospels claim.The Rabbi cites the fact very convincingly in my opinion, why would Pilate choose to release Barabbas, a revolutionary fighter against Rome? The suggestion is absolutely ridiculous and makes no sense.

Rabbi S highlights Peter who denied even knowing Jesus 3 times. Then later Peter's anti-semitic outrage rhetoric accusing the Jews of killing Jesus. This not long after his own denial of Jesus. This is very human behavour. Ironical to say the least consider Peter's earlier denial of even knowing Jesus.

Rabbi S is not convinced that Paul was as legitimate to his pharasaical background and learning as he claims to be. He suggests that Paul was in fact a convert to Judaism who then later embraced Christianity.He suggests Paul was a little bit unhinged, volatile, unscupulous in his conversion methods and often anti-semtic in his rhetoric. Paul does seems fanatical and ruthless in his methods and seems to dislike his own people at times who he was originally born into or converted to.

What struck me greatly was the obvious huge huge impact Paul made on Christianity. In terms of a new religion it would be Paul who is the instigator/ founder as he is the one is working out the theology.

There are 2 distinct things at work in the NT.

Jesus words in the Gospel accounts and this new religion created by Paul and imputed by Peter re what is acceptable to eat.The discarding of Kashrut, keeping Kosher supported by a very questionable dream Peter had. To expect Jewish people to stop Kashrut which is enshrined in Jewish Law, Torah because of a dream/vision of Peter had does seem to be bizarre. Ridiculous in Rabbi S view and to honest mine too.

Christians tend to quote St Paul and give him the same authority as Jesus. Many take the words of Paul 'as Gospel' rather than the opinions of a very very enthusiastic follower of Jesus who could be a bit 'over the top' sometimes.

Rabbi S argues and shows very convincingly that the NT editors did manipulate the Gospels to make the Romans appear unoffensive, even 'good', but the Jews trouble makers and personifying all that is bad and evil in the world.

Despite all this Rabbi S still would like the Jewish people to embrace Jesus as one of their own for his good teachings and his commitment to Torah, Jewish Law and the community.

What Rabbi S did not challenge and question which I think he should have done is the fact that though Christians claim that Jesus was sent by God to suffer death on the cross for the expiation of sins of the whole world for all time (by faith in His blood sacrifice), that His death was foretold in the Scriptures. That Jesus was meant to die to bear the sins of the world in His body on the cross so that by faith people would not have suffer punishment from God for their sins and that He rose from the dead. If Christians believe this then why oh why are they complaining and blaming the Jewish people for His death!

The whole point of the story of Jesus' life and death is that He was meant to die!

So why oh why blame the Jewish people that He died on the cross when that very death and the manner of it was supposed to happen!

It is almost as though for 2000 years Christians have missed the obvious.

Why complain of the death of Jesus by crucifixion when it is the very death of Jesus by crucifixion that is necessary for atoning blood of Jesus that covers the human races sins by faith and gives you eternal life by faith!

Christians cannot have it both ways. The facts are according to their inherent belief is that God sent Jesus to die for the sins of the world.

And remember Jesus is not dead now. He is risen as He was meant to. So what oh what is the problem O Christian who still blames the Jews for His death?

You cannot have the resurrection of Jesus without His death. And you cannot have Him dead without Him being deaded! He's got to die so that His blood can be shed to cover humanitys sin. Without that your doomed mate! Also Jesus resurrection means that He has overcome death and so will you. When you pass away you will end up in heaven with the living Jesus.

So will you all stop blaming the Jewish people for the death of Jesus please!

Again Jesus resurrection is 'meant to be' and is as Christians believe part of God's plan, prophesied in the Scriptures so why are Christians still bearing a grudge and blaming the Jewish people for the death of Jesus, when it is the death of Jesus that gives them life eternal (by faith)!

The Rabbi also failed to stress that in the resurrection accounts of Jesus, nowhere, nowhere does it suggest that Jesus has a bee in His bonnet or is annoyed. resentful, furious that He was crucified. This is because He knew he was meant to be crucified. That is what is what all the mental torment He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemene was about. But sadly so many Christians still do not grasp these facts. They want to blame the Jewish people for the death of Jesus when God intended for Jesus to die.

Rabbi S failed to state Jesus' own view of His life and most importantly His death. He could have shown from the Scriptures that Jesus Himself did not view His death in the same way many Christians today view it. Jesus knew it was God's will for Him to die to fulfil the Scriptures, so for Christians to blame the Jews for the death of Jesus is unjustified.

If anyone is responsible for the death of Jesus I argue it is God! Because it is God who initiated this plan of salvation that Christians preach. Just as God told Abraham his descendents would become slaves in Egypt and so it came to pass.

God is responsible at the end of the day for that too.

God is the backbone of history I argue. Rabbi S should have stated that!

Although Rabbi S emphasized that we cannot blame the descendents for the sins of the fathers and this he supported with Scriptures I personally think and again the Rabbi could have said this that the worldwide Church has an obligation to teach its congregations church history.

To educate their congregations on what their ancestors in the church have done in the name of Jesus. Despicable and terrible things of which they must not forget.

This is necessary so that we 'all learn from history' and also for true repentance from Christians for the atrocities that have been done in the name of Jesus.

Christians in my 40 years of experience tend to dismiss the Crusades and the terrible and wicked atrocities done to the Jewish people by the Church, by Christians by saying these people were not 'real' Christians. This is simply not true.They did what did because they believed so fervently! Christians tend to naively presume that if a person is 'born again' that they do not participate or engage in wickedness.They never seem bothered or ashamed over their appalling, appalling church history.

Christians don't seem to be that bothered about their terrible history of persecutions against the Jewish people in my view. They seem to think it has nothing to do with them and we must move on. Yes we must move on as Rabbi S says but one of the fundamental reasons people don't want anything to do with religion is because of Christianity appalling history of cruelty to not only the Jewish people but their own people!

This cannot be rectified until the Churches take the trouble to hold courses on Church history so their congregants can develop true remorse and repentance for the wicked things done by their ancestors in the body of Christ and in the name of Jesus.

But they don't.

40 years ago Christians, those who claimed 'to love the Jewish people' were more apologetic to the Jews for their awful history of persecution to the Jewish people done in the name of Jesus, but this is lessening. The attitude now is ' I didn't do it therefore I am not blame.' Yes you are not to blame but if would be helpful and constructive if you had a bit of a conscience about the awful things done to the Jewish people and your own people in the name of Jesus.

Many Christians these days embrace the Jewishness of Jesus yet they have little or no knowledge of the Church's historic persecutions of the Jews. I repeat again. It does not seem to bother them'! They enjoy doing Israelie dancing and eating bagels, celebrating Jewish festivals yet they still don't have enough respect for Judaism as a religion.

Ironically Christians regard the practice of the Jewish Law given by Moses with some degree of contempt. They fail to have the respect for God's holy Law that Jesus had. This is a great pity. This is because they have a very negative attitude towards obeying God's commandments as laid down in Jewish Law which Jesus Himself adhered to.

Jews will only embrace Jesus more as a wise teacher and 'good Jew' as Rabbi S advocates when more Christians in their personal relationships with Jews apologise on behalf of the Church for the terrible wicked things done to the Jews in the name of Jesus.

I do remember one German lady asking me to forgive her people for the Holocaust. It was very heartfelt and I was very moved and touched. It helped me and enabled me to move on.

As a Jewess it does hurt me that as more and more Christians embrace the Jewishness of Jesus yet they are still ignorant of the effects of the terrible things done to the Jewish people in the name of Jesus over the centuries and don't seem to realize that it is this history that prevents Jewish people from embracing any aspect of Jesus.

Rabbi S applauds Christians for supporting Israel.

He believes the 'hard' words of Jesus, words that appear anti-semitic, that are directed to the Jewish people are not in fact the words of Jesus. He sees the Gospel texts as being edited to suit the Romans who at that time in history hated the Jews. Rabbi S acknowledges that it is the NT with its anti-semitic rhetoric that has been responsible for the persecution of the Jews for thousands of years. and culminated in the Holocaust.

Rabbi S encounters with Christians have clearly always been very positive.

As a Jewish believer in Jesus for 40 years that has not been my experience. Rabbi S is very gracious towards Christians, more so than me, but then he has not experienced so many unpleasant things at the hands of a people who keep going on how they love the Jewish people.

Until Christians completely stop blaming the Jewish people for the death of Jesus and recognise that the 'death of Jesus was meant to be and ultimately it is God who is responsible, after all He was the one who sent Him here to die for the sins of the world then Jews will not be that interested in embracing Jesus as one of their own.

I don't honestly think Rabbi S realizes that.

Most Jewish people don't have a problem with Jesus per se. It's being blamed for His death that has always and will always be the problem, the sticking point. As a child who was called "Christ killer" I know what that feels like. And many Christians still are resentful towards the Jewish people for the death of Jesus. That cannot be denied.

Rabbi S explores what the Jewish people expect of the Messiah. Also that a person stating they are divine is not a sin. This surprised me! Also the fact that anyone can claim to be the Messiah, They just have to fulfil the criteria. He urges us all to be little Messiah in our devotion to Judaism and our impact of goodness on the world. Christians call this being ' a light in the world. He defines the differences between Christianity and Judaism very lucidly.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2012
Shmuley makes no pretence at being a scholar. But this book summarises scholarly information in a succinct and easily digestible way. If anyone wants a clear outline of the Jewish view of Jesus, either for its own sake or as an introduction to more in depth works, then this is the book for you. Anyone who has read others of his books, or heard Shmuley speak will immediately recognise the style. Easily read and easily understood. The man is a star!
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on 7 April 2014
Boteach at his most erudite and persuasive. A very interesting read for someone who wants to find out more about Jesus the Jewish Rabbi.

Marked down for the substandard quality of the Kindle edition which contains many print errors, although still readable this did spoil my enjoyment.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2012
When I saw the review of the book "Kosher Jesus" by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach last week in the Jerusalem Post I bought the book straight away. I have read the Bible and knew about the fact that Jesus, whose Hebrew name is Yeshua, was a Torah keeping and Torah teaching Jew, probably a Pharisee. Always eager to learn more I anticipated a feast of new information which would broaden my understanding.
I was sadly disappointed. The book does make some, although well known statements, about Yeshua being a Jew who upheld Torah and it does give some background to the parables using and acknowledging the work of Hyam Maccoby which I recognised from his book "Judaism in the First Century" but after that Rabbi Boteach heads off into a headlong attack on Peter, Paul and the early Christians.
Firstly I would point out that the writer seems to have ignored the fact that so many early Gentile Christians had been martyred for keeping Torah particularly Sabbath and The Feasts because Rome had instituted Laws against Judaism and Judaising which these early followers of Yeshua did. All would accept that many Gentile Church leaders from 85 AD onwards sided with Rome and paganised Christianity but there were thousands more who didn't. In fact Christians throughout many parts of what is now the United kingdom, Europe, India and China kept Sabbath even as late as 17th century because they kept Torah as best as they knew how to do. Millions of Christians were slaughtered by the Roman Church because practiced many aspects of Torah particularly Sabbath (seventh day).
Secondly I was so surprised to read that he believed Peter and Paul had abandoned the Torah. On page 112 the writer "states "For example, one of Paul's most monumental claims is that Jewish Law is no longer applicable after Jesus" Why then, I must ask, does Paul say this in the book of Romans;
Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. Romans 3:29-31 (NASB) Or in some other translations he says we uphold the Torah.
Regarding Paul and the issues he raised with the early Church leaders in Jerusalem in Acts 15 and 21 the writer says that the advice to Gentiles not to eat food sacrificed to idols was because it was inhumanly killed and because the prohibition against blood was because it encompasses murder. These are both incorrect assumptions. The prohibition of eating food sacrificed to idols is because the meat that the Gentiles had been used to eating had often been sacrificed to Idols such as in Mithraism when a Bull was slaughtered to the god and the meat was shared amongst the followers. These two prohibitions enforced on the Gentiles by the Jerusalem leaders where in fact enforcing Torah -Not worshipping Idols in any way and not eating blood because the Life is in the blood. The early Church leaders and Paul were enforcing Torah.
Paul also praises the Gentiles for Keeping Torah;
Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts Romans 2:14-15 (NASB)

Paul admonishes Gentiles for going back to their pagan ways and worshipping their old gods thereby breaking the Torah.
8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? Gal 4:8-9 (NASB)
"Elemental things or powers" are translated from the Greek word "stoicheia" which means evil, hostile powers. Gentiles believed that these evil forces threatened their well-being and that certain "magical" practices were necessary to avert their influence. Paul spoke strongly against this practice because it was opposed to Torah.
The writer says that he has been studying this subject for over 20 years, so how could he then write "Even Peter once he began agreeing with Paul and eating non Kosher food " the writer then goes on to quote Acts 10 which has nothing to do with Peter or Paul eating non Kosher but it is to do with Peters visit to the house of a Gentile who God is telling him is OK because through repentance this Gentile is being made clean. See below the way Peter describes this to his brothers when he gets back to Jerusalem;
1 The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticised him 3 and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them." 4 Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened: 5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.' 8 "I replied, 'surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' 9 "The voice spoke from heaven a second time, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.' Acts 11:1-10 (ANIV)

I was so surprised and saddened to read so little about Kosher Jesus and so much about the so called non Kosher Paul and Peter both of whom were clearly Torah keeping and Torah teaching Jews of their time-- not that Rabbi Boteach would know.
Michael S Fryer
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2013
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2012
This is a very clearly written book which explains, in non-emotional language, the contradictions in the gospels which have led to the image of Jesus being distorted by the early creators of the religion. By wrongly blaming the Jews for his death, the authors of the gospels are responsible for 2000 years of anti-semitism. The author convincingly paints a picture of Jesus as an orthodox Jew, rebelling against the brutal Roman rulers and it is for this reason he is crucified by the Romans. Jesus would never recognise the religion created in his name and, although he described himself as the messiah, he never claimed to be the son of God or any other divinity. Self-proclaimed messiahs were not uncommon in that period but they all failed their messianic mission.
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