God loves the Jewish people. The chosenness of the Children of Israel is undeniable. God has expressed His love for Israel and has called the Church to share His love. Unfortunately, I believe many Jews ignore the gospel claims because some Christians ignore the gospel call. True Christian service transcends “go and tell,” though Christians do preach the gospel. Sadly, some ignore the call to show and tell. Modern Jews have rarely been shown the love of Jesus. They have been told but not shown. For that lack, Jews do not often experience the love of Jesus because Gentile Christianity has generally offered retribution, not love. Centuries of hatred and persecution have followed the Jewish people around the world. The roots of this problem can be traced to a Gentile Church that ignored the Jewish origins of the Christian faith. I believe it imperative that mainline Christians be accurately informed about the Jewishness of Jesus. Jesus the Jew must be re-introduced to His non-Jewish followers. His Jewish heritage must be carefully excavated from the rubble of centuries of Gentile domination.
This booklet is not about Jewish evangelism. It is about an important aspect of Church history—the birth of the Church as a sect within Judaism. My hope is that it will serve to sensitize my readers toward the tremendous link that undeniably connects ancient Judaism and modern Christianity. As a Jew, I am painfully aware that Christianity does have a legacy of sinful, willful, violent anti-Semitism. Nonetheless, as a Christian, I am eternally grateful for the love of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. I sincerely hope that this research will encourage every reader to dig deeper to learn about the correct attitude that Christians should maintain toward the Jewish people. Additionally, you may identify the unmistakable truth that Jews, Judaism, and the Jewish Scriptures have molded the Christian faith. God is not done with the Jewish people. We will endure!
The technical nature of this work may be unfamiliar to some within my audience. Many writers try to convince through flowery opinions or cute allegorical stories. In matters of Church history, I believe the Church deserves plain old-fashioned scholarship, research, and documentation to insure accuracy. When these communication tools are combined with God’s anointing, relevance meets up with revelation. Please pray about the details included in this work. Above all else, I ask you to pray for my people. God loves the Children of Israel—do you?
A JEWISH RELIGION!
Does the title strike an odd chord? If so, it might be because the Jewishness of the early Church is often forgotten. If the Gentile Church had a better recollection of its own beginnings, the darkness of Christian anti-Semitism would not be allowed to fester in the shadows. The historical authenticity of the original Jewish nature of Christianity is genuine and well documented. The body of compelling evidence to support this idea includes the various Gospel accounts and New Testament depictions of life in the early Church. These rich, historical writings often revolve around Jewish festivals, customs, and Temple or synagogal worship. The Jewish nature of Christianity is unquestionable. The Jewish nature of the earliest Christian writings is profound.
The only Bible read by the early Church came from teachings within their Jewish heritage. Truth was sought in the sacred writings of Judaism. The Torah that was studied in synagogues was also revered as the sacred writings studied by men of the early Church. Even Jewish texts that were not included in the Jewish Bible were read and valued by the early Church Fathers. Examples of this important category of revered ancient Jewish writings include the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Though not included in the accepted Jewish or Protestant canons of Scripture, they were extremely relevant to the early Church.
The writers of the New Testament valued these ancient Jewish works so highly that they were quoted in our Christian Bibles. Perhaps you have wondered about the origins of some of the “curious” information in Jude. If so, you will be interested to learn that “Jude explicitly quotes Enoch and introduces the quotation with the formula ‘Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying’ ” (found in Jude 14-15). Jude also refers to the obscure text of The Assumption of Moses. The discussion arose about the body of Moses and the archangel Michael disputed with the devil but “dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘the Lord rebuke you!’” (Jude 9). “More details about this dispute may be gleaned from other Fathers, some of whom explicitly name the Assumption as their source.”
Early Church Fathers were not in complete agreement as to what should be included in the canon. Many of the writings which were important to the Jews (both Jewish Christians as well as the rabbinic Jews) were also important to the original Gentile Christians. Some were so vital that they were viewed as potential candidates for inclusion into the New Testament. Sources as significant to the early Church as Tertullian (late 2nd century) and Origen (mid 3rd century) accepted Enoch. St. Augustine (early 5th century) “admitted that Enoch had written ‘not a little’ by divine inspiration.”
The information contained in this booklet has been reprinted from short sections out of two full length books written by Randy Weiss, Ph.D. The titles are The Passion Conspiracy: Did the Jews Kill Christ or Was Jesus the Victim of Identity Theft? and Does Jacob’s Trouble Wear a Cross? The Ancient Legacy of Christian Anti-Semitism.
In this booklet, anti-Semitism has been used as an expression referring specifically to hostility against Judaism and Jewish people. No other Semitic peoples are included within the usage of the term herein.
In contradistinction, there was only one Temple which was in Jerusalem, whereas there were many synagogues. The holy site for all of the sacrificial and ceremonial rites for observant Jews took place exclusively at the Jerusalem Temple. Synagogues were a later development of the Babylonian exile.