Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Jesus in Jewish Culture

Adam Kirsch reports for the New York Sun on a recent conference at the Center for Jewish History on "Jesus in Jewish Culture" featuring Susannah Heschel, amongst others. The sub-title was "What's He Doing Here?"

From the article:-

Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of the New Republic, resisted a too easy identification of Jesus as a Jew. During a dialogue on messianism with the Catholic historian James Carroll, Mr. Wieseltier insisted that Jesus was not the most famous Jew in history, but the most famous ex-Jew; and that it was precisely his transformation into the Christ, the Messiah, that marked his divorce from Judaism. In mainstream Jewish teaching, Mr. Wieseltier said, the Messiah is not the apocalyptic figure that he becomes in Christianity, the herald of a new heaven and a new earth. "For Jews," he argued, "redemption does not mean the transformation of the world as we know it;" it is rather a criticism and improvement of the world. Quoting several medieval Hebrew texts, Mr. Wieseltier offered definitions of the Messiah as a worldly reformer and political leader, rather than a divine savior. He underscored the point with a contemporary image: "When the Messiah comes, he will be on CNN all day long."

By using Jesus to investigate what is distinctively Jewish about messianism, the dialogue between Mr. Wieseltier and Mr. Carroll offered the best answer to the conference's title question.

1 comment:

lcusick said...

It would appear that the concept of "messiah" has not changed in 2000 years. A contemporary Jewish scholar is saying the messiah is the same thing that Jesus' contemporaries expected: a political reformer/commentator. So, is Jesus the messiah, or something else? Several titles are used in the gospels, Son of Man comes to mind, among others. Does this affect our Christian view of Jesus?