🔻(article in Italian at bottom - articolo in italiano a piè di pagina)“We know nothing about death, nothing but the one fact that we shall die…. But what does it mean, to die? We do not know. It is therefore appropriate that we should accept it as the end of everything that we can imagine. To wish to project our imagination beyond death, to anticipate in our minds what death can reveal to us only in existence, appears to me to be disbelief disguised as belief true belief says: I know nothing about death, but I know that God is eternity; and I know furthermore that he is my God. Whether what we know as time continues beyond our death becomes quite unimportant beside this knowledge that we are God’s, who is not ‘immortal’ but eternal. Instead of imagining our self as being alive although dead, we desire to prepare ourselves for a real death, which is perhaps the end of time, but which, if this is so, is certainly the threshold of eternity.”
~Martin Buber, Gleanings
...And the End of Time was what Jesus the Jew was announcing, right or wrong that he was.
Fact is that, if Jesus returns as the Messiah he will be circumcised in the flesh (again, in case his first circumcision has disappeared), will require kosher food to eat and insist on a Synagogue to pray on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, not a Church with crosses representing his crucifixion on a Sunday.
Jesus was not a Christian; he was a Jew! He lived his entire life as a Jew and died as a Jew. On what Christians today celebrate as Easter Jesus came to Roman occupied Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Pesach – Passover. He had a traditional Passover ceremony and meal called a ‘seder’ which after his death Christians called his ‘Last Supper’. To most Jews of Jesus’ age (although not necessarily to Jesus himself) ‘salvation’ meant ‘regime change’. Those advocating regime change were often called Messiah’s by the Jews. The Romans crucified those who advocated such change. It was their customary death penalty; thousands of Jews were put to death in that manner for a host of reasons.
comparable to the radical Prophet Jeremiah almost killed by the Jews several times, the Priests from Qumran who rejected the Temple and its Priesthood; Rabbi Hillel the Elder, the greatest sage of his day who lived during Jesus’ lifetime and was considered a dangerous radical; and Honi Ha’magil (the Circle Maker) a charismatic and miracle worker who called God ‘Abba’ – Father – and who made demands of his Abba.²
Renowned biblical scholar Géza Vermes (1924 – 2013) treats the topic in several important books, among which The Authentic Gospel of Jesus (2003), examining every saying attributed to Jesus, scraping aside millennia of Christian tradition and writing to return to the true teaching of the man behind the Messiah.
The sayings of Jesus reveal practically nothing about his background and past life. In Mark, the oldest of the Gospels, he turns up suddenly like the hero of a novel or a film. We are told very little about his family, writes Vermes, and nothing about his education or his early professional life. It was not his primary concern to reflect on his own person. The little "biographical" information we have is due, not to Jesus, who never reminisces of his childhood or youth, but to storytellers, the evangelists (Mark 6:3; Matt. 13:55; John 6:42). They tell us that Jesus hailed from the insignificant Galilean town of Nazareth, unknown to Josephus or to the Mishnah, where he was a tekton, the Greek word designationg a builder or a carpenter.³ The same Mark and Matthew also mention Mary (Maria, in Hebrew Miriam), the mother of Jesus. His father, Joseph, also a carpenter, appears by name only in Luke 4:22 and John 1:45 and 6:42, if we disregard the artificial genealogies and legendary infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. Mark and Matthew name four brothers of Jesus (James, Judas, Joses or Joseph and Simon) and refer anonymously to his several sisters (Mark 6:3; Matt. 13:55-56). For Jesus, however, the real members of his family – mother, brothers and sisters – are not his flesh and blood, but those who listen to the word of God and are prepared to do his will (Mark 3:33-35; Matt. 12:48-50; Luke 8:21).⁴ One may deduce from these allusions that during his Galilean activity Jesus was not on good terms with his relations, who wanted to interfere with his calling (Mark. 3:21). Further maxims of disillusioned wisdom intimate that Jesus met with a cool reception among his relatives and neighbours: "A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house," he once remarked (Mark 6:4; Matt. 13:57).
According to his own words, the scene of his Galilean ministry was the northern shore of the Lake of Gennesaret. The places explicitly listed in a saying of Jesus are Chorazin, a townlet lying a few miles north of the lake, and the fishing villages of Bethsaida and Capernaum, where many of Jesus' healing and exorcisms are reported to have taken place (Matt. 11:21-23; Luke 10:13-15). None of the Synoptic evangelists, let alone Jesus himself, ever alluded to the larger towns of the area: Sepphoris, the regional capital, within a stone's throw from Nazareth, Gabara (or Araba), Tarichaeae, centre of the local fishing industry, and the new city of Tiberias, built in the lifetime of Jesus by Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, in honour of the reigning emperor Tiberius.⁵ Jesus was not attracted to urban life; he was clearly a son of the Galilean countryside.
His first appearance in public is associated with John the Baptist, the eremitic prophet who called his Jewish compatriots to repentance in the wilderness lying alongside the river Jordan. Jesus, like many of his fellow citizens, responded to John's appeal. The Gospels have preserved no direct account of Jesus conveying to John his thought and appreciation of him. However, the fact that his original proclamation, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15), echoes John's theme (Matt. 3:2), and the incidental fulsome praises lavished by him on the Baptist – "among those born of women there has risen no one greater than [he]" (Matt. 11:11; Luke 7:28) – prove the high esteem in which he held the man who, to all intents and purposes, can be recognized as his model and source of inspiration. Entering public life, he set out to continue in Galilee the mission of the Baptist, which came to an abrupt end when Herod Antipas imprisoned him in the Transjordanian hilltop fortress of Machaerus and order his execution by the sword (Mark 1:14-15; Matt. 4:12, 17; Josephus, Antiquites 18:116-19).
The three aspects of the public activity of Jesus, curing the sick, delivering people from demonic possession and preaching,⁶ are also disclosed in his sayings. His exhortation to adopt teshuvah or turning (repentance) and his proclamation of the way leading to the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:15; Matt. 4:17) were accompanied by charismatic acts of exorcism and healing: "Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures" (Luke 13:32). Or even more powerfully, "If it is by the Spirit/finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matt. 12:28; Luke 11:20). Jesus' unusual style of argument provoked amazement. He did not quote the Bible to prove his message, but displayed charismatic power instead. People commented that he introduced a new form of teaching, one "with authority", in subjugating the forces of evil through the Spirit of God (Mark 1:21-22, 27-28; Matt. 7:28; Luke 4:32, 36; Matt. 12:28; Luke 11:20). His disciples were also entrusted with identical tasks: "Preach as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons" (Matt. 10:7-8; Luke 10:9, 17).
According to the evangelist, he occasionally showed compassion to Gentiles. The servant of the Roman centurion resident in Capernaum (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10), the Gergesene demoniac (Mark 5:1-19; Matt. 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39) and the daughter of a Greek woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7:24-30; Matt. 15:21-28) became beneficiaries of his charismatic power of healing and exorcism. Nevertheless these cases are given as exceptions. In fact Jesus found it astonishing that Gentiles were able to display deep trust in God. While non-Jews were now and again healed by him, we do not encounter any example of his instructing them. What is more, he had no hesitation in declaring that is message was strictly for "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 15:24). He spoke harshly to, and about, Gentiles, comparing them disparagingly to dogs and pigs (Mark 7:27; Matt. 7:6; 15:26). When Jesus dispatched his apostles on mission, not only did he specify that they were to address only Jews, but he also expressly forbade them to approach Gentiles, or even to enter Samaritan localities (Matt. 10:5-6). The only logical inference that can be drawn from these premises is that Jesus was concerned only with Jews, because in his view citizenship of the Kingdom of God was reserved for them alone.⁷
Despite the patriotic fever that impregnated Jewish, and in particular Galilean, society in the age of Jesus, his ministry for the Kingdom was devoid of poltical, i.e. revolutionary inspiration. He had no anti-Roman bias. He embraced the doctrine of non-resistance to evil, and as a lover of hyperboles he even advocated love of one's enemies (Matt. 5:39; Luke 6:29; Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27). In amore down-to-earth vein, in the memorable words, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" (Mark 12:17; Matt. 22:21; Luke 20:25), Jesus approved of, or at least did not object to, paying tax to Rome, which was considered the ultimate betrayal by Jewish revolutionaries. The small company of his close disciples, mostly uneducated Galilean fishermen, whom he selected for spreading the good news of the Kingdom and dispensing the charisma of healing and exorcism, were not trained in warfare. He did not appoint them to be freedom fighters or guerrillas, but benevolent "fishers of men" (Mark 1:17; Matt. 4:19; Luke 5:10).
As a representative of God, a latter-day prophet, a Hasid, Jesus devoted himself totally to the cause with which, he believed, God had entrusted him. His religious personality is reflected in his ideas about God, his Torah and his Kingdom. His character, personality and way of life are mostly revealed in obiter dicta, in incidental utterances. Convinced of the proximity of the day of the Lord, Jesus was happy to embrace the harsh existence of a wandering preacher. He forsook family life and declined the comforts of the home fire. "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests," he told his followers, "but the son of Man has nowhere to lay his head" (Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58). His modesty is revealed not only in his choice of the humble and unshowy way of referring to himself as the "son of Man", but also in his dislike for honorific titles: his disciples were not to be called "rabbi" or "master". "He who is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matt. 23:8-11). He was an irenic spirit and sponsored non-violence: "If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt. 5:39; Luke 6:29).
Jesus never chose to call himself "Messiah" or "Son of God" and even when others questioned him about his Messiahship, he usually declined to give a straight answer.⁸ As for the epithet "Son of God", disallowing the combined expression "Messiah, the Son of God" in Matthew (Matt. 26:63; 16:16) where "Son of God" and "Messiah" are synonyms, it is never spoken by Jesus himself. One has to be foolish to believe the mockery of the chief priests and scribes, taunting Jesus to get down from the cross because he had claimed to be the "Son of God" (Matt. 27:43). Only demons or people possessed by demons addressed Jesus by this title (Matt. 4:3; Luke 4:3, 9; Mark 3:11; Luke 4:41; Mark 5:7; Matt. 8:29; Luke 8:28). The only example in which the disciples call Jesus "Son of God" and "worship him" comes from a late legendary addition by Matthew to the story of Jesus walking on the water (Matt. 14:33). In the parallel passage of Mark the astonishment of the companions of Jesus is caused, not by his walking on the water, but by the earlier miraculous feeding of the five thousand with five loaves (Mark 6:51-52).
Though frequently and spontaneously acknowledged as leader and master, Jesus insisted that he was not there to rule but to serve (Luke 22:27). He saw himslef as the champion of the weak and the despised; his appointed task was to "seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10), to be the shepherd who spared no effort to find a missing lamb (Matt. 18:12-14; Luke 15:4-7). He cherished the proverbial pariahs of Jewish society, the repentant tax-collectors and the harlots (Matt. 21:31-32), and scandalized the genteel pious by sharing the table of those ostracized by the conventionally devout bourgeoisie (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34). He loved children, and on account of their absolute faith in paternal goodwill he proclaimed them models of the genuine religious spirit: "Let the children come to me,... for to such belongs the kingdom of God... Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it" (Mark 10:14-15; Matt. 19:14; 18:3; Luke 18:16:17).
In Jesus the extremes met. He led the austere life of an itinerant prophet (Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58), counselled his followers to carry their cross (Matt. 10:38; Luke 14:27), and hyperbolically speaking to undergo self-mutilation (Mark 9:43-48; Matt. 18:8-9; cf. Matt. 5:29-30; 19:12). He loved to employ exaggeration when teaching restraint and abnegation. Yet at the same time, in sharp contrast to his mentor John the Baptist who lived on a diet of locusts and wild honey, Jesus did not dislike a good meal. He sat at the table of wealthy publicans. In the famous parable of the prodigal son the father, symbolizing God, welcomes the return of his wayward child with a lavish party and orders his servants to roast the fatted calf (Luke 15:23). It is not surprising therefore that the convivial Jesus was vilified by his critics as "a glutton and a drunkard, a friend [and table companion] of tax-collectors and sinners" (Matt. 11:18-19; Luke 7:33-34).
Next to these manifestations of kindness and compassion towards children and social outcasts, we find Gospel sayings which reveal in Jesus the fiery nature of his Galilean compatriots, bellicose from infancy according to Josephus (War 3.41).⁹ Jesus could utter impatient and sharp words, calling Peter "Satan" (Mark 8:33; Matt. 16:23), the gravely ill daughter of the Syrophoenician woman a "dog" (Mark 7:27; Matt. 15:26), and referring to the ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas, as "that fox" (Luke 13:32). He could be short-tempered with slow-witted disciples (Mark 10:14) and show his indignation towards the self-satisfied and the hypocrite (Mark 12:39-40; Luke 20:46-47; Matt. 23:5-7). Once when he was hungry, he is even depicted as unreasonable. Looking for figs on a fig tree but finding none, he pronounced a curse on it although the fruit harvest was still some time away (Mark 11:12-14; Matt. 21:18-19). Jesus was not exactly the gentle, sugary, meek and mild figure of pious Christian imagination.
He often spoke and acted with authority, but he was also ready to plead ignorance or confess incompetence. Although he proclaimed the imminent advent of the Kingdom of God, he also admitted that he was not privy to the exact time of its coming: "of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32; Matt. 24:36). Similarly he declared that he had no say in matters pertaining to the protocol of the eschatological banquet; God alone was in charge of the seating arrangements: "To sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father" (Matt. 20:23).
The tragic end of Jesus came suddenly in the course of a fateful pilgrimage to Jerusalem, probably in 30 CE. During his short charismatic ministry in Galilee, although he encountered some jealousy and hostility among small-minded local scribes and synagogue elders, he was on the whole a highly popular and much sought-after healer, exorcist and teacher. For the local people of the region of Lake Gennesaret, Jesus was a man of God, and even in Jerusalem he was hailed as "the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee" (Matt. 21:11).
His downfall resulted from an act of prophetic zeal. He caused a fracas in the merchants' quarter in the Temple a few days before Passover. The nervous priestly authorities in charge of the maintenance of law and order sensed danger, and feared that the disorder might start a rebellion. They felt that it was their duty towards the Jewish nation to intervene. However, they preferred not to act directly, and handed over to the secular arm of Rome the man whom they considered a potentially dangerous revolutionary leader because of his influence on the crowds. Such a justification for the condemnation of Jesus is supported by Flavius Josephus' account of the execution of John the Baptist. Herod Antipas thought that John's eloquence might lead to sedition, so he took an appropriate preventive measure (Antiquities 18:117-18). Pilate, notorious for his crulty, did not hesitate to put to death the "king of the Jews", whom he believed to be an insurgent. Jesus expired on a Roman cross and was buried. But his disciples saw him in repeated visions and continued to perform charismatic deeds in his name, which persuaded them that he had been raised from the dead.
The diverse features of Jesus, which Vermes has assembled from Jesus' genuine sayings in his book The Authentic Gospel of Jesus, form a colourful, complex and rich human personality. It would be essential, for anyone interested in the matter, to consult such a book thouroughly in order to acquire a better understanding of the Historical Jesus.
1. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe died in 1994 and continues to be considered by many of his disciples the Messiah who will return. Among other Judaic similarities, one may consider the Baal Shem Tov, a Jewish mystical rabbi considered to be the founder of Hasidic Judaism.
2. Honi ‘Ha’maggil’, the circle maker - First Century BCE - a native of the Galilee, made the rains come. He did this by making a circle in the sand, entering into it and saying to God: "Lord of the world, your children have turned to me because I am a son of the house before you. I swear by your great name that I will not move from here until you are merciful to your children." At first mere rain drops appeared. Honi said "Abba I did not ask for this, but for rains sufficient to fill cisterns, ditches and caves." So the rains fell in sheets. Honi said "Abba I did not ask for this, but for rains of benevolence, blessing and graciousness." The rain came in the form he requested. In the Talmud, Honi often addresses God as Abba - father. Honi was known as the son of the house - the house of God. The Sages said of him ‘You will decree and it will be fulfilled - you decreed below and the Holy One, blessed be He, followed your word above.’ Shimon ben Shetah, President of the Sanhedrin, said to him: "what can I do with you, since even though you importune God, he does what you wish in the same way that a father does whatever his importuning son asks him? Were it not Honi, I would excommunicate [you]" (B.T. Taanit. 19a).
You can continue reading about this topic and the Historical Jesus by looking up this link: Moshe Reiss, Jesus the Jew. Alternatively you may ask me to email you a short essay by Rabbi Reiss on Jesus the Jew.
3. The Aramaic equivalent of "carpenter" can also mean "learned man", but it is unlikely that this signification is applicable to Jesus.
4. See G. Vermes, The Authentic Gospel of Jesus cit., Ch. 8, no. 3.
5. Tiberias figures in the Fourth Gospel (John 6:1, 23; 21:1), though not even John puts the name of the city into the mouth of Jesus.
6. See G. Vermes, The Authentic Gospel of Jesus cit., Ch. 1.
7. See G. Vermes, The Authentic Gospel of Jesus cit., pp. 400-402.
8. In The Authentic Gospel of Jesus, Ch.1 no. 26, Vermes cites the exception in Mark 14:62. Jesus' only positive approval of being called "Christ" follows the confession of Peter in Matthew 16:17-18. Against the authenticity of this saying, Vermes underlines the silence of Mark and Luke in the corresponding place, and the fact that the neighbouring reference to Peter, the rock on which a church is built, is also inauthentic, being unknown to Mark and Luke. Add to this that a few verses later Jesus disparangingly addresses Peter as "Satan" (Mark 8:33; Matt. 16:23).
9. See Vermes, op. cit., p. 403.
- See these downloadable PDF articles:
➤The Jewish reclamation of Jesus and its implications for Jewish-Christian relations
➤The Jewishness of Jesus and ritual purity
- and the PDF book:
➤The Vermes Quest: The Significance of Geza Vermes for Jesus Research by Hilde Brekke Møller
- Check this out too: NO FRIEND IN JESUS
|«Guarda cosa Gesù stesso ha insegnato invece di ritenerti soddisfatto di ciò che gli altri hanno insegnato su di lui»|
(Géza Vermes, The Authentic Gospel fo Jesus, 2003, p. 417)
- GESÙ, PROFETA APOCALITTICO ERRANTE ED EBREO OSSERVANTE
- da Wikibooks, Biografie cristologiche
Alla luce di ciò che si è detto nei precedenti capitoli, come si può riassumere la religione di Gesù? La sua religione è una particolare risposta ad una situazione specifica data da un uomo straordinario. Il Cristianesimo, d'altra parte, è lo sviluppo della religione di Gesù fatta da persone pratiche che pianificavano il futuro in un contesto temporale ordinario. Le due cose sono definitivamente connesse, eppure sono anche radicalmente differenti.
Seguendo le conclusioni dello storico ed esegeta Géza Vermes, si può certamente affermare che la situazione specifica sorse dal trambusto politico generato dal dominio romano in Palestina, iniziato verso il 63 p.e.v. L'agitazione fu chiaramente palese negli atti di ribellione dopo la morte di Erode il Grande nel 4 p.e.v., che furono soppressi violentemente dai romani, e nell'amaro risentimento causato dal censiomento o registrazione fiscale romana imposta sulla Giudea da Quirinio, governatore della Siria, nel 6 e.v. L'agitazione politica scatenò e alimentò un desiderio febbrile di intervento divino imminente, specialmente dopo il ministero vastamente influente di Giovanni il Battista nei tardi anni venti. Gesù avrebbe reagito e risposto a tale aspettativa febbrile. Il Regno di Dio si credeva fosse alle porte. Tale Regno era una questione prettamente ebraica, che coinvolgeva esclusivamente gli ebrei, e richiedeva una soluzione esclusivamente ebraica. Il mondo non ebraico non aveva nulla a che fare con tale problematica, assolutamente nulla.
Una soluzione fu fornita da un uomo straordinario, Gesù di Nazaret, profeta provinciale, senza educazione "rabbinica", ma colmo di intuito, compassione, magnetismo e potere carismatico, pronto a gettarsi anima e corpo nel crescente movimento lanciato da Giovanni Il Battista e prenderne le briglia. Il suo modo particolare di promuovere la causa del regno derivò dalla sua convinzione totale della necessità del compito al quale era stato preposto. Di conseguenza dai propri discepoli egli pretese una fede illimitata in Dio. A ragione della natura escatologica del loro compito, portarlo avanti non ammetteva né lentezza né procrastinazione e richiedeva una devozione assoluta indipendentemente dai costi. Il fine previsto era un posto al banchetto escatologico preparato da Dio per coloro che rispondevano all'invito che Gesù offrì loro con urgenza profetica. Per seguire il suo appello ed entrare nello spirito del suo Ebraismo escatologico, i discepoli di Gesù dovevano abbandonare una religione banale, rivolgere la propria attenzione ai più alti ideali e progredire decisamente alla massima velocità.
Ciò che rende questa religione particolare è lo sforzo incessante che Gesù impose a se stesso e ai suoi seguaci. Non mostrò mai segni di esitazione, né sopportò tattiche dilatorie o tergiversazioni da parte di potenziali discepoli. La fiducia che il Regno è vicino, sta arrivando, è arrivato, sottendeva una permanente atmosfera di urgenza. Afferma Vermes che la religione rivelata dal messaggio autentico di Gesù è lineare, senza dogmi complessi, o immagini "mitiche" o egocentriche speculazioni mistiche. Somiglia ad una gara che consiste soltanto di un rettilineao finale, che dai corridori richiede un ultimo sforzo di energia e con una medaglia di vittoria preparata per tutti i partecipanti ebrei che attraversino il traguardo. A questo punto, Vermes si chiede "come un genio religioso del calibro di Gesù possa essere stato un tale sciovinista di mentalità ristretta", esclusivista ebreo per soli ebrei. Ma l'escatologia ebraica dell'epoca era esclusiva e forse Gesù era semplicemente un figlio del suo tempo. D'altra parte, potrebbe aver sposato l'idea profetica manifesta nella seconda metà del Libro di Isaia secondo cui l'entrata degli ebrei nel Regno di Dio avrebbe persuaso i gentili ad associarsi. Se fosse così, Gesù potrebbe benissimo essersi immaginato che, dopo il riuscito completamento della sua missione esclusivamente ebraica, Dio sarebbe intervenuto e si sarebbe preso cura del resto dell'umanità. Gesù si prospettava ottimisticamente una buona e positiva riuscita della sua missione nel radunare insieme i figli di Israele e di condurli sani e salvi alle porte del Regno di Dio. Non previde la crisi e la tragedia della croce.
In questo contesto, e dopo un'accurata analisi bibliografica scaturita dalle ricerche storico-esegetiche di Géza Vermes, tra i libri consultati in lingua italiana, si riscontra particolarmente interessante quello di Paolo Flores d'Arcais, Gesù. L'invenzione del Dio cristiano Il libro si è posto all'attenzione specifica dell'argomento qui trattato in appendice grazie alla seguente recensione di Valentino Salvatore (Agosto 2011), pubblicata su uaar.it. La si riporta in stralcio:________________