Jesus the Israelite was not a Jew: correcting misleading nomenclature

It won’t display a preview of the article, and attempting to download it will share too much personally-identifying info for my taste. What’s the case he’s making?

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Quoting from the piece: “Jesus was neither a ‘Jew’ nor a ‘Christian’. This is true at diverse levels and stages of discourse. For one thing, Jesus was neither a ‘Jew’ nor a ‘Christian’ in the sense that these terms are used today in ordinary discourse.

“As Jacob Neusner and a growing number of scholars have been emphasizing for some time now, the concept ‘Jew’ as understood today derives not from the first century but from the fourth and following centuries CE. It denotes persons shaped by and oriented to not only Torah and Tanakh but Mishnah, Midrashim and Talmudim.

“In similar fashion the name ‘Christian’ as used and understood today designates persons marked more by doctrines and events of the fourth and later centuries (trinity of the godhead, double natures of Christ, consolidating and hierarchically structured catholic church) than by those of the first.

“Thirty years ago Rosemary Radford Ruether had already pointed out that it was in the fourth century that Judaism and Christianity assumed the features by which they are known today. Indeed, Jewish scholar Daniel Boyarin (‘Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism’ p. 6) cites Ruether with approval and aptly describes both collectivities as ‘twins in the womb’ until the fourth century.”

“To call Jesus a ‘Jew’ or a ‘Christian’, as these words are understood in the vernacular today, not only confuses the matter historically, but has led to disastrous social and inter-religious consequences.

“Despite the growing number of scholars in agreement with these positions (see below), use of ‘Jew’ and ‘Judaism’ in reference to Israel and Israelites in the Second Temple period and use of ‘Christian’ and ‘Christianity’ in reference to Jesus and his earliest followers continue unabated in both professional and lay circles.”

Me summarizing t the conclusionh: Jesus called Himself an Israelite, Judaean was a term primarily used by non Israelites to describe them. Israelite was the preferred in group term. Jesus thought of His mission as to the children of Israel. Paul and other NT data, and external data confirm the preferred usage of Israelite over Judaean. In addition, the Greek Ioudaioi is best translated as Judaean, not Jew for historical reasons. Using Jew and Christian ( “Christ lackey” or “Christ partisan” similar to Herodian “Herod lackey” or “Herod partisan” creates false mental associations in the minds of readers, and ideas of “conversion” etc. Paul didn’t convert, “religion” didn’t exist as a separate institution from politics and family/tribal groups, Jesus and all early followers were Israelites entirely. The Jesus movement was in the beginning and thought of itself as an Israelite renewal movememt. Judaism should not be used in translations, but rather “a Judaean way of life” as Judaean was used in ancient times as an outsider designation of the people in that land, not some religious designation. In addition to all of this, Jews are a post-mishnaic group, and Christians in the modern sense began centuries later. Calling people in the Bible Jews also causes false readings of the conflicts of the early Jesus movements and the other Israelites, making openings for anachronistic anti-Semitic readings. Israel is also preferable for grandeur and antiquity reasons, since it is used in the Torah to designate the group Jesus is from.

Also Christian was not used as a self designation in those times.

He provides evidence for all of these conclusions in spades, so it is best to refer to Jesus and His early followers as what they thought of themselves: Israelites. It is best not to use anachronisms.

Me summarizing t the conclusionh: Jesus called Himself an Israelite, Judaean was a term primarily used by non Israelites to describe them. Israelite was the preferred in group term. Jesus thought of His mission as to the children of Israel. Paul and other NT data, and external data confirm the preferred usage of Israelite over Judaean. In addition, the Greek Ioudaioi is best translated as Judaean, not Jew for historical reasons. Using Jew and Christian ( “Christ lackey” or “Christ partisan” similar to Herodian “Herod lackey” or “Herod partisan” creates false mental associations in the minds of readers, and ideas of “conversion” etc. Paul didn’t convert, “religion” didn’t exist as a separate institution from politics and family/tribal groups, Jesus and all early followers were Israelites entirely. The Jesus movement was in the beginning and thought of itself as an Israelite renewal movememt. Judaism should not be used in translations, but rather “a Judaean way of life” as Judaean was used in ancient times as an outsider designation of the people in that land, not some religious designation. In addition to all of this, Jews are a post-mishnaic group, and Christians in the modern sense began centuries later. Calling people in the Bible Jews also causes false readings of the conflicts of the early Jesus movements and the other Israelites, making openings for anachronistic anti-Semitic readings. Israel is also preferable for grandeur and antiquity reasons, since it is used in the Torah to designate the group Jesus is from.

Also Christian was not used as a self designation in those times.

He provides evidence for all of these conclusions in spades, so it is best to refer to Jesus and His early followers as what they thought of themselves: Israelites. It is best not to use anachronisms.

It isn’t anachronistic though. The terms are both in use in sources contemporary to the period. Like the New Testament.

-Fr ACEGC

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Jew isn’t the right translation of Ioudaioi is the argument, so Jew wouldn’t be used then. Christians were called Christian by others, and it appears 3x in the NT, and wasn’t for a while the selfdesignation of our religion. The earliest ones wouldn’t have called themselves that. It also causes issues of continuity, and thinking they thought of religion as a separate sphere of life like we do. So while Christian isn’t anachronistic, it isn’t what the first groups would call themselves, and might make us think they were more like us than they were. So he argues that Christian should only be used in those 3 instances in the NT where it is used.

Earliest being in Jesus and the first followers lifetime, not the first century entirely.

If you want to read the whole thing, you can find it on Google Scholar, which provides a link to a PDF that doesn’t require sign-in to download (it’s to the right of the search results). You can also click “All 8 versions” underneath the results to find other places the article was hosted online, several of which also have PDFs. It’s a long article…

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I’d be more interested in reading about why the peanut is neither a pea nor a nut…

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Exactly the question I was about to ask. In the Greek New Testament, the word Ἰουδαῖος (Ioudaios) occurs nearly 200 times. In some cases, no doubt, it could adequately be translated as “Judean” rather than “Jew”. In the many cases where it obviously can’t, such as Acts 18:24, what English word does the author of this paper suggest as a replacement?

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Hmm… maybe he should tell that to St Paul; apparently, the author thinks Paul was confused when he considered himself the “apostle to the Gentiles”. :wink:

“Self-designation” is the key word here. Acts 11 shows that it was already in use in the earliest days of the Church. Should we assume that no Christians referred to themselves as such?

“Israelite” is an ethnic / political / geographic term. Clearly, “Jew” was in use in that period, as well, and wasn’t unused by Israelites. (Remember the complaint from the Jewish leadership to Pilate? Did they say, “excuse me, Pilate? would you please change that sign to ‘This man claimed to be the King of the Israelites’?” Nope… not the way that it went down.

I think the author overstates his case. At best, he’s asserting that we’re unable to distinguish between the use of the terms “Jew” and “Christian” in the first century A.D. and the use of these terms today, and therefore, we shouldn’t use them. That’s just ludicrous.

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Seems to be a chronological issue…Israelites and Judaean in the broader sense would only have any meaningful difference after the split of Israel into the Northern (Israel) and Southern (Judea) Kingdoms.

Jesus of Nazareth, would have identified himself as an Israelite geographically.

But those in both Kingdoms, with some exceptions, were Jews in both the religious and ethnic sense.

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So… you’re saying that the Jewish Christians who were thrown out of the temple after 70AD didn’t think of themselves as separate from Jews? Really?

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“Jews” are already referred to as such in the Book of Esther. There’s a clear demarcation in the Old Testament between when we would’ve called it the Israelite religion and when it becomes what we now call “Judaism.”

I’m an academically oriented person, so I don’t dismiss scholarship. But this sounds like someone trying to be clever to write an article that sounds like something novel, and it just isn’t borne out by the historical realities. If a handful of people on an internet forum can poke holes in a theory based on a cursory reading of it, then it’s probably not a very good theory.

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He suggests Judaean in every instance. The word in that verse is Ioudaios, so he would say: now a Judaean named Apollos… Etc. He goes into how Judaean was used for the diaspora in those tikes, for people like Apollos.

He mentions and accounts for this. It proves his case. To outsiders, Judaeans often called themselves that, but within themselves they said Israelites. See Matthew 27. Everywhere you read “Jew” he says the translation should state “Judaean.” Notice who uses what term and to who:

Pilate says: are you the king of the Judaeans? (Roman)
Soldiers mock: king of the Judaeans (more outsiders)
The priests, scribes, and elders say: he is the king of Israel, let him save himself. (Insiders, fellow group members of Jesus)

All other examples follow. This shows that how Jesus ethnic group called themselves was usually “Israelite” and not “Judaean.” The claim of the article is little more than all English bibles have a minor translation issue, and should just use Judaean. that is why it is not clear “Jew” was used, it is clear we translate it that way, but he says we should not. That is all.

I’m sorry, @Mythicalbio, but that is a meaningless sentence. The word “Judaean” was not used in those times. “Judaean” is an English word, and the English language didn’t come into existence until several centuries after those times.

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So today’s Jews are not descendants of Abraham and David ?

The Hebrew translation of the NT used in Israel by the Catholic Church (and by most other churches as well) translates the Greek word Ioudaios by the Hebrew word Yehudi, which is the everyday word for “Jew”. For example, the wording of the titulus in John 19:19 is rendered as “יֵשׁוּעַ מִנָּצְרַת, מֶלֶךְ הַיְּהוּדִים” (Yeshua ma-Natsrat, melech ha-Yehudim).

If there had been complaints, I think the churches in Israel would have taken steps to address those complaints.

https://haktuvim.co.il/en/study/John.19

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Tbh all I can say is read the article and you’ll see what he thinks of that. I am horrific at communicating, which is why the OP is a link.

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