The Bad Guys Of The Bible


There’s no doubt about it: the Pharisees are the bad guys of the  Bible.


They’re portrayed as nothing short of selfishness and hypocrisy personified. Indeed, the very word ‘pharisee’ has become part of the vernacular and is shorthand for someone who is hypocritical, arrogant and, above all, legalistic.


Legalism being, of course, one of the basic things that Christianity has, historically,   condemned  Judaism for.


In the Bible, the Pharisees are portrayed as being fixated on adhering to man made laws, especially those that pertain to ritual purity. Jesus is presented as being the exact opposite: dismissive of the Jewish laws, and instead, concerned with ‘love’.


One typical example: according to the New Testament, Pharisees wanted to punish Jesus for healing a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath. However, no historical Rabbinic rule has been found according to which Jesus would have violated the Sabbath.


The Christian Scriptures aren’t subtle in condemning the Pharisees, either.


In fact, they give us the ‘Woes Of The Pharisees’ – an entire list ofcriticisms by JesusScribes and Pharisees. The Woes are found in the Gospel of Luke 11:37-54 and Gospel of Matthew 23:1-36.





Crucially, in some places within the Christian scriptures, it’s clear that ‘pharisee’ is used to represent Jews, period.

Thus it’s important to examine the way that, historically, Christianity has presented this particular Jewish sect.


Is the New Testament depiction an accurate one? And if not, why did the authors demonise this particular group?


Well, there’s an easy answer to the latter point. Of all the Jewish sects, it was the Pharisees that most resisted the influence and ideology of early Christianity. For Jews it was always incomprehensible for anyone to state that G-d would take human form.


So the Christian belief that a deity, in mortal form, could ‘die’ was rejected as being inherently ‘pagan’ by the Pharisees. Understandably so, since a deity in mortal form is a motif that we find in many Pagan religions and cults.


Similarly, the idea of the ‘trinity’ was irrational in the view of the Pharisees,  since it seemed to violate the sacred Jewish teaching of G-d being One.


Given their disagreement with core Christian beliefs, is it any wonder that the Pharisees are presented so negatively in the Christian Scriptures…?



Yet the evidence suggests that the Christian Bible is far from accurate when it comes to the Pharisees.


For instance, though the New Testament presents the Pharisees as obsessed with avoiding impurity, Rabbinic texts reveal that the Pharisees just tried to offer ways of removing impurities, so that a person could again participate in the community.


And while in the New Testament the Pharisees objected to Jesus approaching outcast groups such as beggars and tax-collectors, Jewish texts actually stress the availability of forgiveness to all.


Indeed, much of Jesus’ teaching, for example the Sermon on the Mount, is consistent with that of the Pharisees and later Rabbinic thought.


Some scholars believe that those passages of the New Testament that are most hostile to the Pharisees were written after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in 70 C.E., at a time when it had become clear that Jews knew Jesus was not their Maschiach.


At this time Christians sought new converts from among the Gentiles; they thus had to be able to explain why converts should listen to them, rather than the Jews, concerning the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh.


Of course, the Pharisees were just one of several sects within Judaism at the time of the second temple. They were the most significant group, though, because it’s from their traditions that contemporary Judaism arose.


But contrary to the Christian portrayal of them, the Pharisees were by far the most egalitarian sect. They believed that everyone, whether rich or poor, deserved an education, and that Torah should be accessible to all Jews. The Pharisees, then, were the ‘blue collar’ Jews of their time.


One of their staunchest beliefs was in the importance of the Oral Torah. This was given by G-d to the Jews at Mount Sinai, along with the written Torah. The Oral traditions were not codified until centuries later, and today we know it as the Talmud. Prior to that, the traditions were passed along orally, from father to son.


The Pharisees also believed in an ‘afterlife’ of some sort, and that those who were wicked on earth would be punished accordingly after death. Finally, they were sure that the Jewish Maschiach would arrive – the Messiah who, as we believe today – will fulfill the 23 Jewish prophecies and usher in world peace. The Messianic Age, in other words. So far, then, we can see that the Pharisees adhered to core, traditional Jewish beliefs.


But perhaps most crucially, the Pharisees were responsible for ensuring that Judaism survived, unadulterated by the influences of other, conflicting faiths and lifestyles.


This was a time when the Greeks were keen to assimilate the Jewish people by trying to combine their own, multiple deities, with Jewish theology. The Pharisees resisted any attempt at violating or diluting core Jewish tenets, and they were probably vocal about it. Nothing terrible about that, though.


Rather than recognising the devout nature of the Pharisees, though, the New Testament condemns them as taking part in the Jewish rituals without being spiritually involved in them. Over and over and over, Christian Bible tells us that the Pharisees were abject hypocrites.


Other Jewish sects, less passionate about preserving Judaism, are not indicted in this manner. The Sadducees, for instance, were far more relaxed and open to the Hellenic influences that many Jews encountered. The Sadducees also rejected the Oral Torah, instead preferring to focus on the Temple and all the associated rituals.


They also disagreed with any notion of an afterlife. Perhaps it is not surprising that after the Romans destroyed the temple in AD 70, the Sadducees faded into obscurity. They are not portrayed nearly as negatively.


There is a certain irony, also, in that the Christian scriptures show Jesus bitterly castigating and condemning the Pharisees. Yet from what we do know of his attitudes, Jesus actually agreed with many of the Pharisees’ conclusions.


In particular, he agreed with much that was taught by Hillel, who always taught ‘love thy neighbour’, long, long before Christianity adopted it and attributed it to Jesus.


The Pharisees also supported Gentiles who wished to convert to Judaism. Other sects were less supportive. Again, it is therefore somewhat strange that it’s the Pharisees who are consistently demonised in the New Testament.




One of the most bewildering aspects of the Christian Bible for Jews, or at least those of us who read it, is this idea that Paul was a Pharisee. Frankly, he didn’t seem to get even the basics of Judaism.


And there is not a single Jewish reference, anywhere, to any rebel student of Gamaliel who had a life changing vision either on the road to Damascus or anywhere else. Nor is there any mention of any follower of Gamaliel who suddenly became a heretic and started urging other Jews to abandon Torah and all the Jewish religious laws!


Paul spoke out against keeping the Kosher rules, and against circumcision, yet nowhere do we find even a fleeting mention of him! Why not?


Other miscreants and heretics are certainly referenced in the Jewish texts, warts and all.


And if Paul was such a brilliant student, why are all his references from the Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures, the Septuagint?


How is it that he seems so lacking in knowledge of the Hebrew Tanakh, and so ignorant regarding Halacha, the Jewish religious law?


Indeed, some writers question whether Paul was Jewish at all.


Hyam Maccoby, for example, has raised some intriguing points about Paul. And he reminds us that there were good reasons for Paul claiming to be a Pharisee, even if he wasn’t:


It should be noted that modern scholarship has shown that, at this time, the Pharisees were held in high repute throughout the Roman and Parthian empires as a dedicated group who upheld religious ideals in the face of tyranny, supported leniency and mercy in the application of laws, and championed the rights of the poor against the oppression of the rich.

The undeserved reputation for hypocrisy which is attached to the name ‘Pharisee’ in medieval and modern times is due to the campaign against the Pharisees in the Gospels — a campaign dictated by politico-religious considerations at the time when the Gospels were given their final editing, about forty to eighty years after the death of Jesus.


Paul’s desire to be thought of as a person of Pharisee upbringing should thus be understood in the light of the actual reputation of the Pharisees in Paul’s lifetime; Paul was claiming a high honour, which would much enhance his status in the eyes of his correspondents.


Maccoby and several others have pointed to the writings of the Ebionites, an early group who believed Jesus was a normal mortal and nothing more. They had some very definite views on Paul. Maccoby explains:


Their writings were suppressed by the Church, but some of their views and traditions were preserved in the writings of their opponents, particularly in the huge treatise on Heresies by Epiphanius. From this it appears that the Ebionites had a very different account to give of Paul’s background and early life from that found in the New Testament and fostered by Paul himself.

The Ebionites testified that Paul had no Pharisaic background or training; he was the son of Gentiles, converted to Judaism in Tarsus, came to Jerusalem when an adult, and attached himself to the High Priest as a henchman. Disappointed in his hopes of advancement, he broke with the High Priest and sought fame by founding a new religion.

This account, while not reliable in all its details, is substantially correct. It makes far more sense of all the puzzling and contradictory features of the story of Paul than the account of the official documents of the Church.

The Ebionites were stigmatized by the Church as heretics who failed to understand that Jesus was a divine person and asserted instead that he was a human being who came to inaugurate a new earthly age, as prophesied by the Jewish prophets of the Bible.

Moreover, the Ebionites refused to accept the Church doctrine, derived from Paul, that Jesus abolished or abrogated the Torah, the Jewish law.

They were the same group that had earlier been called the Nazarenes, who were led by James and Peter, who had known Jesus during his lifetime, and were in a far better position to know his aims than Paul, who met Jesus only in dreams and visions.

Thus the opinion held by the Ebionites about Paul is of extraordinary interest and deserves respectful consideration, instead of dismissal as ’scurrilous’ propaganda — the reaction of Christian scholars from ancient to modern times.


The Ebonites, then, stated categorically that Paul was not Jewish. Their statement on this is to be found in the writing of Epiphanius in the 4th century, which says:


“They declare that Paul was raised in a pagan household. He went up to Jerusalem and when he had spent some time there, was seized with passion to marry the daughter of the high priest; and this was the reason he became a proselyte (Jew) and went through the Jewish ritual of circumcision. But when the lady rejected him, he flew into a rage and wrote against circumcision and against the Sabbath and the Jewish Law.”

(Pamarion 30.16.6).


There is one final irony in the awful portrayal of the Pharisees in the Christian scriptures. And that is the possibility advanced by some that Jesus was himself a Pharisee.


Several scholars have argued that Jesus’ arguments with the Pharisees is a sign of inclusion rather than any real enmity. Debate was, after all, the main narrative mode employed in the Talmud as a search for truth.


As we touched upon earlier, Jesus’ teaching of ‘love thy neighbour’ reflects the teaching of the school of Hillel.


Jesus’ views of divorce, meanwhile, are closer to those of the school of Shammai, another Pharisee.


Hyam Maccoby writes:

“In my earlier book on Jesus, Revolution in Judaea, I showed how, in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus speaks and acts as a Pharisee, though the Gospel editors have attempted to conceal this by representing him as opposing Pharisaism even when his sayings were most in accordance with Pharisee teaching.

In the present book, I have used the rabbinical evidence to establish an opposite contention: that Paul, whom the New Testament wishes to portray as having been a trained Pharisee, never was one. The consequences of this for the understanding of early Christianity are immense.”


One thing seems certain: the Pharisees were probably far more decent, and far less sinister, than is suggested by certain parts of the Christian bible.

Judaism: FAQ

Sometimes it’s hard for people to get accurate information on Judaism.  The increase in Christian Evangelical sites which pose as “messianic judaism” exacerbates this problem.

So this is the first in what will be a regular feature: questions about Judaism and Jews – along with clear, candid answers.

If anyone reading this has their own query, please feel welcome to submit it, and I’ll post an answer on Friday, when this FAQ post will appear again.

For now, though, here are a few very common questions about the Jewish faith:

Q: What are the Jewish messianic prophecies that Jesus did not fulfill?

A: There are 23 Jewish messianic prophecies. They must all be fulfilled – and in one normal, mortal lifetime. There is no ‘second coming’ in Judaism!

To qualify as maschiach, a person must thus fulfill them all *before* he dies.

Here are the actual prophecies:

* The Sanhedrin will be re-established (Isaiah 1:26)

* Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)

* The whole world will worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:17)

* He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via King Solomon (1 Chron. 22:8-10)

* The Moshiach will be a man of this world, an observant Jew with “fear of God” (Isaiah 11:2)

*****In other words – this must all be accomplished in a human lifetime*****

* Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)

* Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)

* He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10)

* All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)

* Death will be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:8)

* There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)

* All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)

* The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)

* He will be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 52:7)

* Nations will end up recognizing the wrongs they did to Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:5)

* The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)

* The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)

* Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)

* The Temple will be rebuilt (Ezekiel 40) resuming many of the suspended mitzvot

* He will then perfect the entire world to serve God together (Zephaniah 3:9)

* Jews will know the Torah without Study (Jeremiah 31:33)

* He will give you all the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)

* He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9).


Q:How do Jews achieve salvation?

A: As there is no concept of ‘original sin’ in Judaism, there isn’t really any concept of needing to be ’saved’. You’ll never, ever hear any Jew speak of this, in fact.

Judaism teaches that we are all born with a divine spark within us, and that we are born pure and innocent. It is entirely possible for every person to draw closer to G-d, and he has provided us with ways of doing this.

For Jews, that ‘way’ is studying Torah and applying it to our everyday life, and in general, simply by behaving with compassion and integrity to our fellow men.

Non Jews are advised to follow the seven Noahide Laws.

Nobody is expected to be ‘perfect’. Only G-d can ever achieve ‘perfection’.

What we as humans must do is learn from our mistakes, sincerely repent when we have offended either G-d or any fellow human, and to make amends to anyone we have hurt. We must try our best – and our actions count more than our beliefs. Thus Judaism says that the ‘righteous of all nations will have a share in the world to come’.

We don’t believe in ‘hell’, so we don’t act with honour to avoid ‘punishment’ in the afterlife. Rather, we try to do the right thing purely because it *is* the right thing to do :)

In Judaism we have a concept called ‘tikkun olam’ or ‘repairing the world’. We try to make the world a tiny bit better through our own actions.

This Lethal Myth


I was nine, the first time someone accused me of being a ‘christ killer’.


It happened at school, and I had no idea who ‘christ’ was, but was fairly confident that whoever it was, I hadn’t murdered them…


Later that day, when I asked my mother about it, she paled. After all, it’s pretty tough having to explain to a young child that millions of Christians worldwide still hold you accountable for the death of a man who lived over 2000 years ago…


And it is this one myth about Jews which, above all others, has induced hatred and violence down through the ages. The weary, terrible old charge of ‘deicide’.


I can personally testify to the fact that *some* Christians still harbour hatred towards Jews because of this belief. I’ve received emails accusing me of being a ‘christ killer’ on several occasions. And in numerous online forums, I’ve responded to that same accusation.


Happily, two Popes and many contemporary Christian leaders and theologians have publicly acknowledged that the Jews had no hand in the death of Jesus. But that still leaves many Christians being taught that the Jews ‘killed god’.


Hardly going to induce warm fuzzy feelings towards Jews, is it…?


Joseph C. Hough, Jr., a Christian theologian, writing in the June 2002 issue of Bible Review, states:

“By the end of the second century, anti-Judaism and the Christ-killer myth had become prominent in the teachings of church leaders. The early church fathers perpetuated this with even greater vehemence than John did in his gospel.

By the fourth century, Augustine and John Chrysostom were among those who gave credence to the awful depiction of Jews as the enemies of G-d who crucified Christ. The power of the ‘Christ-killer’ myth created a cultural climate in which hatred and killing of Jews occurred with impunity. What emerged was a relentless and continuing persecution of Jews . . .”

Before we go on to consider the details of the ‘deicide’ charge against Jews, there are two vital points to note:


1 – Christian accounts of the trial were all written decades **after** the event. They are **not** eyewitness accounts.

2 – One of the main criticisms voiced by early Christianity of Judaism was that it was ‘legalistic’ and that the Jewish authorities were ‘obsessive’ about adhering to the Jewish religious laws. Yet at the same time, the Christian scriptures portray the Jews as *violating* those very same laws with regard to Jesus. So which was it?!



The Jews & Jesus


Contrary to what some of the Christian scriptures say, there was no particular enmity between Jesus and his fellow Jews. Why would there be?

Jesus taught basic Judaism. Sure, he sought to reform certain aspects of the faith, but that was nothing new. There already, at that time, existed several different sects within Judaism – all of whom bitterly disagreed with each other. The Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t find consensus on much, while the Essenes disagreed with both of them. And the Zealots disliked all of them.

Debate and disagreement between Jews was common then – as indeed it is now. In fact the debates between Jesus and the Pharisees can easily be seen as standard Jewish practice.

The only people who actually viewed Jesus as a threat were the Romans. Jesus apparently sauntered around claiming to be ‘the most powerful man in Rome’. He was one of many young Jewish preachers who posed a threat to Roman rule over the unhappy and ‘rebellious’ Jews.

Many Jewish men proclaimed themselves ‘maschiach’. Yet other than in the Christian Gospels, no one in the entire history of the Jews was ever accused of ‘blasphemy’ for declaring to be the Maschiach.





Judaism always outlawed this manner of killing. Although in theory there was a death penalty under Jewish law, it was stoning, and it was rarely if ever used. In fact it’s said that if one person in every seventy years was killed for violating the Jewish laws, this was ‘excessive’.

The Romans, on the other hand, had a real passion for crucifying anyone who irritated them. Some 250,000 Jews met their death in that way.

Is it not logical to suppose that Jesus was simply one of them…?

For anyone who can’t quite absorb how many Jews were crucified by the Romans, here are some figures that should leave you in no doubt.

Josephus, the historian during this era reports many incidents of crucifixion: Antiochus IV crucified Jews in Jerusalem who would not relinquish their faith (Ant., 12:256).

Two thousand rebels were crucified by Quintilius Varus (Ant., 17:295). Seven years later (about 52 C.E.) there was another wholesale crucifixion of zealots at the hand of Quadratus (Wars, 2:241)

Felix crucified not only zealots and rebels, but also citizens suspected of collaborating with them (Wars, 2:253).

Think about that – 500 Jews a day were crucified.

Florus had Jewish judges tortured and crucified before his eyes (Wars, 2:306–8). When Jerusalem was besieged, ***Titus ordered all Jewish prisoners of war to be crucified on the walls of the city and there were as many as 500 crucifixions a day ***(Wars, 5:449–51)

According to Frank K. Flinn, Ph.D., professor of religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis, the Jews had nothing to do with killing Jesus – the Romans are actually to blame:


“Had the Jewish authorities been directly involved, Jesus would have been stoned, as Stephen was in Acts 7. Only Roman authorities could authorize crucifixions and they often did so on a gruesome, massive scale.”

Jesus just happened to be one of the many, many Jews who were murdered in this way by the Romans.


Pontius Pilate


Some Christians argue that the Jews ‘pressured’ the Pilate into killing Jesus. This has to be the most absurd of all the arguments.

Pilate held his position for over a decade; he was brought in precisely because he had a reputation as a brutal and uncaring individual!

 He was eventually removed for excessive cruelty.

Pilate was the one signing the death orders for the thousands of Jews who were crucified. ***To suggest that he was simultaneously cowed by the same minority he was busy killing is devoid of all logic and common sense!***


The major Jewish historians of the period, Josephus and Philo, discuss Pilate at length. Philo, who was Pilate’s contemporary, wrote an appeal to the emperor Caligula that included a description of Pilate.

Philo wrote of “the briberies, the insults, the robberies, the outrages and wanton injustices, the executions without trial constantly repeated, the **endless and supremely grievous cruelty“** of Pilate’s rule.

To reiterate: Pilate was eventually dismissed from office because of complaints of his widespread and injudicious executions.

Yet according to the Christian scenario, the oppressed Jews, the ones *being* crucified left, right and centre, were somehow able to ‘make’ Pilate kill Jesus?

It’s truly absurd.


Jesus & The Romans


Jesus was one in a series of Jewish religious-political rebels bent on destroying the Roman empire and the status quo at Jerusalem in the name of the kingdom of G-d.


These Jewish messiah-figures described by the Jewish historian Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities (especially in Books 17, 18 and 20) often used religious symbols and traditions to gain a popular following and to begin an uprising. The Roman governors dealt with them swiftly and brutally.

I want to reiterate this key point: **Jesus was one of several messianic figures who were crucified by the Romans.**


Others included:

* Theudas: claimed to be a prophet and a would-be maschiach. He is mentioned in Josephus (Antiquities, 20:97).

In 44 C.E. he was crucified by the Romans.

* Judas of Galilee: led Jewish uprising against Rome, 6.C.E. Mentioned in Josephus (Wars, 2:118). He tried to liberate the Jews from Roman rule – his followers called him the Saviour, and the Messiah.

He was crucified by the Romans.

* Benjamin the Egyptian: Mentioned in Josephus (War 2.261263). He claimed to be the Maschiach, and he inspired rebellion against Rome.

He too was crucified by the Romans.

* Menachem: grandson of Judas the Galilean, 67.C.E. Outspoken, zealot, leader, claimed to be the Maschiach.

He was crucified by the Romans.


Whitewashing The Romans


Flinn, an expert on Catholicism, notes that our earliest accounts of the crucifixion, such as the Gospel of Mark written circa 60-70 C.E., make clear that it was Pilate who had Jesus crucified:

It was the Gospels written much later, such as those of Matthew and Luke, which reflect different interests and viewpoints, and each places more and more blame on the Jews.

Matthew puts the ultimate blame squarely on the shoulders of the Jewish authorities. In Luke, the ‘whitewash’ of the Romans becomes nearly complete.

By the Middle Ages, the epithet ‘Christ-killers’ became the verbal club to justify the ghettoization, persecution, and murder of Jews. We all know the end-term of this lamentable history.”

The Gospel of John, as most scholars maintain, stands by itself but one of the signs of its lateness in its present form (ca. 100-110 CE) is that John does not lay Jesus’ death so much on Pilate, or Pilate Jewish authorities, or even the Jewish authorities alone, but “Jews” as a whole (John 19:12).

The break with Judaism is nigh complete. The stereotype is set for the later, fateful charge that “the Jews killed Jesus”.



The Trial Of Jesus


Oh, where to begin…?


The contradictions within the New Testament itself on the ‘trial’ are numerous. And again, note that all the accounts were written decades *after* Jesus died. These are *NOT* eyewitness accounts!


The entire description of Jesus’ death is in fact odd – why would the Romans have allowed a convicted felon to be almost immediately removed from his cross and put in a tomb?


Crucifixion was chosen precisely to make a public point that the most cruel and humiliating form of punishment awaits those who oppose Rome’s will. Roman disposition on this point was perhaps best summed up by Quintilian (AD 35-95, Decl 274) when he wrote that:

“Whenever we crucify the guilty, the most crowded roads are chosen, where most people can see and be moved by this fear. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect.”


Reverend Kenny Nailimup has made the following points:

The real, the historical Pontius Pilate was arrogant and despotic. He hated the Jews and never delegated any authority to them.

However, in Christian mythology, he is portrayed as a concerned ruler who distanced himself from the accusations against Jesus and who was coerced into obeying the demands of the Jews. Pontius Pilate was singularly crass in his treatment of the Jews, offending them repeatedly. He was spiteful, unjust, greedy and indiscreet.

As soon as he was appointed, he carried Roman standards bearing the image of Caesar into Jerusalem, and possibly into the temple, knowing the Jews would have been incensed.

He strongly favored the Priestly Party of the Sadducees—disliked by the masses—and its leaders, the Annas family.

According to Christianity, every Passover, the Jews would ask Pilate to free any one criminal they chose. *This is of course a blatant lie.*

Jews never had a custom of freeing guilty criminals at Passover or any other time of the year.

According the myth, Pilate gave the Jews the choice of freeing Jesus the Christ or a murderer named Jesus Barabbas. The Jews are alleged to have enthusiastically chosen Jesus Barabbas.

This story is a vicious anti-Semitic lie, one of many such lies found in the New Testament (largely written by anti-Semites). What is particularly disgusting about this rubbish story is that it is apparently a distortion of an earlier story which claimed that the Jews demanded that Jesus Christ be set free!

The name “Barabbas” is simply the Greek form of the Aramaic “bar Abba” which means “son of the Father.” Thus “Jesus Barabbas” originally meant “Jesus the son of the Father” – *in other words, the usual Christian Jesus.*

When the earlier story claimed that the Jews wanted Jesus Barabbas to be set free it was referring to the usual Jesus.

Somebody distorted the story by claiming that Jesus Barabbas was a different person to Jesus Christ and this fooled the Roman and Greek Christians who did not know the meaning of the name “Barabbas.”

Luke tells us in chapter 26 that Jesus was taken in the middle of the night to the home of Caiaphas for questioning. There are several problems with this gospel account:

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was probably during the Feast of the Tabernacles, not Passover. (the palm leaves strewn in front of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem would not have been in bloom during Passover) The Sanhedrin would not have met during the eight-day festival for any reason.

The Elders of the Sanhedrin would no more strike or spit on an accused person, than would the Supreme Court of the U.S. hearing a case! Luke’s account is completely out-of-context and shows *remarkable ignorance* as to the machinations of Jewish Law.

If the gospel of John is to be the authority, this account disagrees with the synopticists since the High Priest Caiaphas interrogates Jesus alone and charges him with sedition, not blasphemy, as the synoptic Gospels allege.

Clearly, the pseudipigraphical author of John is not as ignorant of Jewish Law as are the synopticists because his account is in context with the findings thus far revealed. If Jesus were charged with sedition, then a gathering of the Sanhedrin would not be necessary; the affair would be preliminarily investigated by the High Priest before turning the matter over to the Roman authorities. Caiaphas would not wish to involve the Sanhedrin if Jesus really was seditious.

The authors of the world’s greatest fairy tale go to great lengths to defame the Jews and falsely accuse the Sanhedrin of condemning the fictional Jesus to death.

*This just proves their ignorance of all things Jewish*.

Let us look at the laws of a Jewish Sanhedrin which judged capital cases. The sources are Talmud tractate Sanhedrin and Miamonides Laws of Judges:

No capital cases were allowed to be tried outside the court chamber in the Temple, certainly not in a private home. Forty years before the destruction of the Temple the Sanhedrin was exiled from the chamber of hewn Stone and from that point on ceased ruling on capital cases as well as on monetary cases involving fines;

No capital cases were tried at night; nor on the festival; nor the eve of a festival, as the guilty party had to be put to death the following day and executions were not allowed on Sabbath or festivals.. Anyone arrested on the eve of Sabbath or a festival was held in custody till after the Sabbath or holiday and then tried.

No defendant could be convicted on his own testimony or confession No defendant could be convicted unless he was warned by two qualified witnesses and then within seconds of the warning he ignored the warning and committed that sin which he was warned not to commit.

Then we have the question of what sin was Jesus accused. Was he a blasphemer or was he a Maysit U Maydeeach ― one who persuades a Jew to worship idols? To be a blasphemer one must curse god using the ineffable name, which Jesus did not do. Thus one more flaw in the fairy tale.

We also must discuss the issue of a Jew who turns over another Jew to gentile authorities to be killed. One who does this is called a mosair ― an informer and is punished by death. So any Sanhedrin that turned a Jew over to the Romans was signing their own death warrant.

Last but not least one must know that Sanhedrin had only four prescribed methods of execution:





Crucifixion was not one of them! Regarding crucifixion, most historians agree that that the Romans tied their victims to the cross and did not use nails.

Once an accused was convicted, Sanhedrin then sent out messengers for 40 days to announce that so-and-so was convicted of such-and-such crime and sentenced to be executed. During that time witnesses who had proof of the accused’s innocence were allowed to come testify.

According to Jewish law, convicting someone of a capital crime requires a Sanhedrin of 23 judges. After hearing testimony from eye-witnesses, the judges vote. If at least thirteen of the judges vote “guilty” the defendant is executed.

There is a surprising exception to this; however if ALL the judges vote guilty, then the defendant is acquitted. Here is why:

There are two ways to look at everything. There is no situation in this world without some merit or positive side. If not one judge was able to see the good side and declare the defendant innocent, something is wrong. The positive side of the case must have been missing during the presentation of the evidence. Therefore, he is acquitted.

It is blatantly obvious that the Christian accounts of the ‘trial’ are inaccurate. Jewish trials did not occur in the dead of night, in a private home, with no witnesses. Nor did they ever take place during Passover!



Why Were The Jews Blamed For The Death Of Jesus, Then?


In a word: Politics.


 The Christian authors of the Gospels knew they would be living under Roman rule for quite some time. They could hardly demonise the Romans in their literature. Far easier and far safer to switch the blame onto the Jews.


This also meshed very nicely with the Christian notion that – having stated that Jesus was not their maschiach – the Jews were ‘guilty’ of ‘disappointing’ G-d. Killing ‘the son of god’ fit perfectly.


We must also remember that Pagans were quite often drawn to Judaism, and the early Christians saw the Jews as competition. It was politically convenient, for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to thus malign the Jews and scapegoat them for the crucifixion of Jesus.


And never mind that the accusation went against all historical and theological *fact*!


Let’s leave the last word to Historian William Nicholls, who ends his detailed examination of the Christian scriptures with this statement and appeal to all Christians:

The time has come, and came long ago, for Christians to drop all accusations against the Jewish people in the death of Christ. … There can be no doubt that the Romans bear the responsibility for Jesus’ death, which they and not the Jews brought about.

If any person is to blame for Jesus’ death, it is Pontius Pilate, so implausibly represented in the Gospels as his defender. In any scholarly inquiry, many conclusions remain uncertain. This is not one of them. The Jews are innocent of Jesus’ death.

Jesus – A Nice Jewish Boy?

So, let’s talk about Jesus. It’s not a topic that comes up when Jews talk.  Jesus does not feature in Judaism – not at all. But as many of us are asked by our Christian friends and colleagues what we ‘really think’ about him, let’s clarify: Jesus occupies the same place in Judaism, as Mohammed does in Christianity. In other words: you could go to every synagogue on Earth, and I guarantee, you will never hear Jesus mentioned.

Many people find this strange; after all, millions of Christians proclaim Jesus as their ‘messiah’ and ‘saviour’. Why on earth don’t Jews themselves attach any importance to this vital, most famous, and above all Jewish historical figure?

Well, let’s consider the context:

Back when Jesus was busy gallivanting around Judea, declaring himself as ‘messiah’, the Jews were living under Roman oppression. And it was rough. The Romans had a nasty habit of crucifying people – mainly Jews. Sometimes up to 100 Jews in a single day.

And as at other tough times in Jewish history, the Jews longed for their maschiach. They knew full well he could be right there, in their midst. After all, the Torah makes it clear: the Jewish maschiach is a normal, mortal man – he’s not ‘divine’ and he doesn’t have supernatural powers. In short: he wouldn’t look any different from any other Jewish man.

So where was he?

Numerous young Jewish blokes believed themselves to be the maschiach. They too sauntered around Jerusalem, their faithful believers scuttling after them and hanging on every word. There was nothing unique about Jesus, he was one of many. Contrary to the way he’s portrayed, Jesus was *not* some ancient David Beckham of the middle east, known and adored by all.

Indeed, the vast majority of Jews had no awareness of Jesus. It was only ever a tiny sect of Jews that followed him.

Christianity claims that Jesus fulfilled various messianic prophecies. They point to the ‘old testament’ in a bid to ‘prove’ this. There’s just one problem – the OT is not the Jewish bible. It never has been. Think about it logically: why would Judaism define its own scriptures as ‘old’?

The OT is a Christian text.
It is a Church-approved, mistranslated version of the actual Jewish bible, the Tanakh. No Jew reads nor studies the OT.
So when Jews and Christians discuss the ‘Jewish bible’ they are usually referring to two entirely different texts. Christians assume, for the most part, that the OT is ‘jewish’. Jews then have to break the news that in fact, it is not anything to do with Judiasm.

And since, for the most part, Jews read the Tanakh in the original Hebrew, we are bemused when some Christians state that we are somehow ‘misinterpreting’ it, when we explain to them that no, Jesus does not appear in the Tanakh.

Christianity ignores something else when it insists that Jews have ‘rejected’ Jesus and ‘missed’ their own messiah.
They ignore that the very idea of ‘messiah’ originated with Judaism. The messianic prophecies and description of the Maschiach were written in Hebrew, by Jews, for Jews.

It seems logical to conclude that the people who first described the messiah, the people who studied the Hebrew scriptures, the people who read the messianic prophecies in Hebrew, were sufficiently intelligent to identify their own messiah.

But no. Christianity says not. On the contrary, the Christian bible calls Jews ‘ignorant’ and ‘blinded’ for their refusal to name Jesus as messiah.

And historically, Christianity has always gone a step further. It has suggested that Jews managed, bizarrely, to misunderstand the Jewish bible!

One of the most well known examples of this is when Isaiah – according to Christianity – describes a ‘virgin birth’. A clear reference to Mary and Jesus, insist Christians. A clear prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus. A clear example of Jews misinterpreting their own bible.

But the Hebrew says something entirely different.

Isaiah uses the word ‘almah’. This means ‘young woman’. It has *always* meant ‘young woman’. It has never meant ‘virgin’.

If Isaiah had wanted to say ‘virgin’ he would have used an entirely different Hebrew word: ‘betulah’.

Happily, the traditional Christian stance on this seems to be softening. Recently, a few Christian bibles have been amended and brought into line with the original Hebrew. Here they are:

Recent altered Christian Translations of Isaiah 7:14

Revised Standard Version: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Revised English Bible
Because you do, the Lord of his own accord will give you a sign; it is this: A young woman is with child, and she will give birth to a son and call him Immanuel.

New English Bible
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: A young woman is with child, and she will bear a son, and will call him Immanuel.

New Revised Standard Version:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures(Jehovah Witnesses)
Therefore Jehovah himself will give you men a sign: Look! The maiden herself will actually become pregnant, and she is giving birth to a son, and she will certainly call his name Immanuel.

Good News Bible:
Well then, the Lord himself will give you a sign: A young woman who is pregnant will have a son and will name him “Immanuel.”

The Jerusalem Bible: Readers Edition
The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: The maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.

The Bible: A New Translation
An omen you shall have, and that from the Eternal himself. There is a young woman with child, who shall bear a son and call his name “Immanuel” (G-d is with us).

The Bible: An American Translation:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold! A young woman is with child, and is about to bear a son; and she will call him “G-d is with us.”

The International Critical Commentary:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a damsel is with child, and shall bring forth a son, and call his name Immanuel.

The New Jerusalem Bible:
The Lord will give you a sign in any case. It is this: The young woman is with child and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.

The Layman’s Bible Commentary:
In reply, Isaiah says that the Lord will provide a sign. It will be a most unusual and remarkable event. A young woman shall bear a son and name him “Immanuel,” meaning “God is with us.”

World Biblical Commentary:
Therefore my Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the woman shall conceive and bearing a son — she shall call his name “Immanuel.”

The Bible in Basic English:
For this cause the Lord himself will give you a sign; a young woman is now with child, and she will give birth to a son, and she will give him the name Immanuel.

Thus many Christian authorities now admit that there is nothing about a ‘virgin birth’ in Isaiah – or indeed anywhere else in the Tanakh. Why would there be? The idea is totally alien to Judaism.

The Jewish G-d never, ever takes human form – and certainly doesn’t pop in to planet earth to impregnate a Nice Jewish Girl…!

Above all, though, Jesus did not fulfill any of the Jewish messianic prophecies.

The Jewish Maschiach must:

usher in world peace
unite all Jews in Israel
bring Torah to all the nations
rebuild the temple
REJECT doing miracles
redeem Israel, and the world
be from King David’s line
create G-d’s kingdom, here on earth.

Now, did Jesus fulfill anyof these before he died?
Answer: No. Not a single one.

Conclusion: Jesus was not – indeed could not have been – the Jewish maschiach.

So, what do Jews think about Jesus?

Well, there’s no official line on him. Some Jews probably doubt he ever existed at all – remember, Jesus is not mentioned by any contemporary writers of his own time.

Many Jews regard Jesus as a young, charismatic preacher who sought to reform Judaism – but who never intended to ‘start’ a new faith. Jesus taught basic Judaism. ‘Love Thy Neighbour’appears first in the holy Jewish text, the Torah. Yet he did apparently break the Jewish shabbat, which no truly observant Jew would do. And if he claimed to be ‘god’ that also violates Torah. Yet more reasons which prove he was not our maschiach.

Most Jews, though, don’t think about Jesus at all. He simply is not relevant to Judaism.

In short, then, Jesus was just a Nice Jewish Boy. And let’s face it – if ever he should somehow return, he’d head straight for the nearest synagogue…:)

But we totally respect that our Christian friends believe in and worship Jesus as their messiah and indeed, as being divine. Judaism and Christianity both have so much to offer – we may differ in ideology, but we share similar ideals.