Published on September 26, 2009 By lulapilgrim In Religion

Who Are The Jews?

On another JU forum, I was told that I  “don’t understand the Jew. To understand the Jew is to understand what’s going on. To understand the Jew is to understand History.”

I decided that in order to respond to this charge in a thorough manner, it would be better to do so in my own forum. Besides that, in my view,  there is no better answer than from the one I found by reading a June 2004 article written by E. Michael Jones, editor of Culture Wars. The article is entitled, “Is the Gospel of John Anti-Semitic? Meditations on the Birth of the Revolutionary Jew.”   

I think in order to understand the Jews, we must know who the Jews are. The Jews have defined themselves and both actual history as well as salvation history as per the Scripturesbears this out.

 As with all things, the dividing line is Christ Himself.

 Please keep the following passages of Sacred Scripture in mind.

  "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." 12 But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name. 13 Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  36 He that believeth in the Son hath everlasting life, but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abide on him". St.John 1:11-13, 36.

 “I know thy tribulation and how poor you are, though you are rich: and thou art blasphemed by them that say they are Jews but are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”  Apoc. 2:9.


Let's start with the Old Testament Book of Daniel which  “according to the editors of the New American Bible, ‘was composed during the bitter persecution carried on by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (167-164) and was written to strengthen and comfort the Jewish people in their ordeal’ by showing ‘that men of faith can resist temptation and conquer adversity.’”  Chapter 7 verses 14 and 15 are where we read Daniel's "Son of man" prophecy.

 The Douay Rheims version has Daniel 7:14-15 as:

“I beheld therefore the vision of the night, and lo, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the Ancient of days: and they presented them before him. 14 And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all the peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom that shall not be destroyed.”

 Many of the Jews read this and believed the "Son of man" as the Messianic designation for the long awaited Messias. Only, the Messias they had in mind would be a mighty warrior, a kind of superman, invincible at war and deliver them from foreign and political oppression. Through the ages, this oppression fueled Messianic fervor and the desire for a mighty military-type Messias became stronger and stronger.

 Jones writes:

 “The Jewish desire for a “superhuman” savior would find both fulfillment and disappointment in Jesus Christ. Christ ultimately convinced His followers that He was superhuman, but in order to do so He had to disabuse them of the notion that being superhuman meant  being merely a more powerful version of David or Alexander the Great, or Caesar.”

 Even though Jesus clearly identified Himself as the "Son of man" and inaugurator of the Messianic kingdom that would last forever, He just wasn't the mighty warrior who wielded military power the Jews had in mind. Jesus did not meet their expectations at all.  

Turns out that Jesus clearly proposed something else, something entirely different from what the Jews thought the Messianic Messias would be and do for them.  In the New Testament, we read the conflict in expectations that led to heated discussions between Jesus and the Jews. St.John describes the debate between Jesus and "the lost sheep of the House of Israel", the very people He came to save. As we read through the heated discussions, we can easily see Christ brought the messianic expectations of the Jews to a crisis. It is at this point we learn “the Jews define themselves by their relationship to the Man who claims to be the "Son of man" or the Messias”.  When Jesus claimed He was the "Son of man", it was decision time for the Jews.  As a result of Jesus' claim, and the debates, we learn from the Jews themselves of what it means to be a Jew.

Who are "the Jews" mentioned so many times? St.John 7:11-13, "The Jews therefore sought him on the festival day, and said,  "Where is He?" And there was much murmuring among the multitude concerning him. Some said, "He is a good man"; others, "No, he is seducing the people" Yet no one spoke about Him openly for fear of the Jews."


Jones writes:

 “The use of the word "Jew" in this context is clear. A "Jew" is someone who is openly hostile to Christ and willing to persecute those Jews who accept Him as the Messias. The fact that John mentions "fear of the Jews" indicates that at this point in time Jews were afraid of "Jews". The well-being of the Jews who accepted Christ was being threatened by the Jews who rejected Him.

The parents of the man born blind exhibit “fear of the Jews” because the “Jews” threaten to expel followers of Jesus from the synagogue. The identity of both groups is essentially religious, and not ethnic, both identities were a function of Christ. The Jews who acknowledged Christ were expelled from the synagogue. The Jews who rejected Him, the people John calls “the Jews” defined themselves by that rejection.

 Following this, “the Jews” claim “we are disciples of Moses.”  In chapter 5, verse 45, Jesus Himself rejects this claim saying, “Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father. You place your hopes on Moses and Moses will be your accuser. If you really believed him, you would believe me too, since it was I that he was writing about (see Deut.15:18) but if you refuse to believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say?”

 Jesus, according to St.John’s account, brings about not only the defining moment in history for all Jews; he brings about a radical discontinuity in history as well at least according to appearances, for those who claim to be followers of Moses are, in fact, not that at all. They are, in fact, the opposite, for in rejecting Christ, they reject Moses and everything that Moses stood for as well.

 Jesus often repeats that the “Jews” are faithful or follow “their law” or “your law” which means that they are not faithful to the law of Moses at all.

 Turns out what is true about Moses and the “Jews”  is also true about Abraham who the Jews claim as their father.  Are "the Jews" the children of Abraham? As we move from chapter 5 to chapter 8, we see the discussion moves from the law to the Jews DNA, or biological inheritance of their status as the chosen people. In both cases there is a radical discontinuity in history.   

 Said another way, those who accept Christ are the real children of Abraham and Moses. Those who call themselves “Jews” are, in fact, liars.”

 Here we see the meaning of the word “Jew” evolving in the course of the debate.

 Jones goes on….

 “St.John begins his definition of the word “Jew”  by describing Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman.  4:22….Jesus tells the woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know;” The “you”/”we” dichotomy is simple. Jesus is a Jew and the woman is not. And it’s important because as Jesus continues “Salvation comes from the Jews”. His declaration means that the Jews are an ethnic group which also happens to be God’s chosen people. It’s from this group that salvation will come.

 Then Jesus adds that, “the hour will come—(is in fact already here)---when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth”. Here, Jesus has arrived the categories “Jews” and “true worshippers” are no longer synonymous. Salvation comes from the Jews yes, but at the moment of Christ’s arrival on earth, that situation will change for the Jews will have to accept Christ in order to remain Israel. The Jews will have to accept Christ to become the “true worshippers” who will “worship the Father in spirit and truth.”

 So here we see the complexity from which St.John begins by saying Salvation is from the Jews and ends by claiming that those who call themselves “Jews” are not the children of Abraham or Moses, and in fact, they have Satan as their father.  

 From identifying the word “Jew” with “we” as Jesus does with the Samaritan woman, Jesus goes on to refer to the “Jew” as “you” which is to say belonging to a group which does not include Jesus. The choice of accepting or rejecting the Messias becomes the principal way of defining what it means to be a Jew.

 Chapter 8 is where the irreparable break comes between Jesus and “the Jews”. When Jesus says to “them” i.e. “the Jews”, “I am going away; you will look for me and you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.”  The irreparable break is that the Jews can no longer be referred to as part of “we” which includes Jesus as Jesus did in His conversation with the Samaritan woman, but rather as “you” i.e. as belonging to a group which does not include Christ because it has rejected Him.

 “You,” Christ continues referring again to “the Jews”, are from below; I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world.”  The issue of what it means to be a “Jew” can only be resolved around Christ’s identity. Christ is the antithesis of sin. Those who reject Christ will die in their sins.

 When Jesus gets to the heart of the matter, “the Jews” redefine themselves by their rejection of Christ as the Messias. With the arrival of Christ and the annunciation of His ministry as “the Son of Man,”, the term “Jew” has either a completely and exclusively ethnic meaning, which is to say, one shorn of any notion of chosenness, or it has a completely and exclusively theological meaning:

 A “Jew” is someone who rejects Christ and as a result will die in his sins. With the arrival of Christ, Judaism ceased being a religion and became an ideology. Similarly, Israel lost at the same moment its biological basis. The New Israel, the true children of Moses and Abraham, was now the Church.

 The confrontation between Jesus and the “Jews” leads to a redefinition of the word “Jew”. What used to refer to the chosen people now refers to those who reject Christ. What used to be synonymous with Israel now means it’s opposite. St.John’s use of the word “hoi Ioudaioi” indicates one of the most profound and radical discontinuities in human history. Those who claim to have Abraham as their father are really children of Satan. Those who, according to the “Jews” seem to have rejected the religion of Moses and Abraham are really the true children of them. They are the Church, and the Church is the New Israel and the True Israel.”




on Sep 26, 2009

Just getting on the screen!