The Jewish Death of Yeshua

I was planning to write on something else tonight, but I am tired. I wanted to explain the lack of contradiction between John and the synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) about the Last Supper, the Passover, and the timing of the crucifixion. I read yet another scholar I respect today (N.T. Wright) this time, saying that the Last Supper was not the correct night of Passover. I disagree. This is a familiar issue to many and I will write about it soon (b’ezrat HaShem).

Anyway, in a desire to keep material on the blog on a regular basis, sometimes I may simply write up cool ideas I found in my reading. Here is a cool thought from Michael Wyschogrod’s The Body of Faith:

“Because the body is not an extraneous outer garment, Judaism views death as a calamity. If we are not convinced of this, we need only compare the calm and detached death of Socrates with the agony of Jesus’ very Jewish death.” (p.177).

Wyschogrod is pointing out in this section the difference between Judaism and many forms of Christian theology as well as many other forms of religious thought. Many make the “spiritual” supreme and the physical inferior. Judaism views the body and soul as united and physicality as part of the image of God.

Socrates believed his soul needed liberation from his body. He viewed death (at least theoretically, but inside I bet he wanted to wet his tunic) as a good thing.

Yeshua hated death. He cured it whenever he saw it. Death was never God’s desire. The laws of impurity in the Torah all have to do with death or loss of life (blood and semen equal loss of life, corpses are highly unclean, skin disease makes one look like a corpse and is unclean, etc.). God is a God of life and not of death. He takes no pleasure in the death even of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23). So Yeshua railed against death. He chose to allow himself to be killed. Yet in the experience of it he railed against it (“Eli, eli, lama sabachtani”). His was a Jewish death.

And Michael Wyschogrod, an Orthodox Jewish scholar, points that out nicely for us. It reminds me of Pinchas’ Lapide’s book, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective.

Anyway, all I am trying to say is this: Yeshua is in every way an authentic Jew. The New Testament is a surprisingly Jewish book. It is surprising because so many people have read it without the foggiest notion of the Jewish ideas it contains. So let’s enjoy it when Orthodox Jewish scholars do our work for us and help us see the death and resurrection of Yeshua through the Jewish eyes they were originally intended for.



About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Messianic Jewish, Theology, Yeshua. Bookmark the permalink.

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