Sunday, January 22, 2017

Was Rabbinic Judaism founded by Apostate Christians?

That is a shocking question isn't it?  First of all this is another post where I need to remind people up front that I'm ultimately a Futurist because of how I view Matthew 24, Revelation, the Thessalonian Epistles and 2 Peter 3.  But yet I'm open to Preterist interpretations of many Prophecies most Futurists aren't because I think God has his hand in all eras of Human History.

For this I am returning to the subject of Zechariah 12-14.  In the last post where I brought that up, I mentioned how Preterists have argued Zechariah 13:7-9 including the two thirds being killed detail can apply to the Jewish-Roman War of 66-73 AD.  I disagree with them wanting to make Matthew 24 part of that, but much of Luke 21 can apply.

The only problem with that, which I suspect most Preterists ignore, is that part of what Zachariah 13:7-9 says is that all or most of those who survive will be right with God when it's all over.  And from a Christian perspective that would mean becoming Christians.

Well it is interesting that the sects of Judaism that were most hostile to Early Christians, the Sadducees, Zelots, and Shammai Pharisees, were the ones mostly wiped out by that war.  (there is a theory that some Sadducees went to Arabia and became the Himyar kingdom.)  Rabbinic Judaism basically grew out of the post 70 AD evolution of the Pharisees who followed Hillel.  There are plenty of Christians out there seeking to argue that basically Jesus was a Hillel Pharisee.

Chuck Missler likes to say if you study Acts closely it seems like eventually all the Pharisees became Christians.  Well after 70 AD the Pharisees are all that were left.

Karaite Jews reject the Rabbinic traditions, but they as a community are not an independent descent, they are people who left Rabbinic Judaism in the 10th and 11th Centuries, like how Protastants left The Catholic Church.  Today a lot of Karaite Jews get along well with Torah Observant Christians.  Yet I once years ago read a rant from a Karaite on a message board basically blaming the Talmud and the Mishna for why so many Jews are becoming Messianic Jews now days.  He pointed out how much of what's said in those traditions imply The Messiah already came and was rejected, and even that this happened around 1-100 AD.

I already talked about the Menahem traditions including the Sefer Zerubabel, which has come to define the Eschatology of Rabbinic Judaism.  How they seem to teach that Messiah Ben-David had already come and is waiting to return, and even imply he'll descend from David's son Nathan.  And the strange emphasis on the Mother of the Messiah.  And I've also had my thoughts on how the Messiah Ben-Joseph tradition could be related to the White Horseman of Revelation 6 and/or The Two Witnesses.

Gamaliel the grandson of Hillel the Elder is mentioned in the New Testament twice.  He appears early in Acts encouraging tolerance of Christians.  And then Saul aka Paul a fellow Benjamite claims to have been mentored by Gamaliel.  There are extra Biblical traditions that say eventually Gamaliel converted to Christianity, these are dismissed by mainstream sources since the Jewish traditions know no hint of it.  But it's interesting to recall that he and his family were the intellectual leaders of Rabbinic Judaism until the Sanhedrin was dissolved around 600 AD.  And much later Rashi descended from the house of Hillel.

The traditional succession of the Exilarchs (descendants of Zerubabel who were leaders of the Jewish Community in Babylonia) skips right from those mentioned in The Hebrew Bible to a contemporary of Trajan.  Is it possible that large gap could be partly filled by The New Testament?  Both Matthew and Luke's Genealogies trace the family of Joseph and Mary to Zerubabel.  I did a post on the Half Brothers of Jesus, and another on Adiabene, which seem to make it plausible that the Exilarchs that popped up in the Second Century could have descended from the Half Brothers of Jesus.

The Epistles of The New Testament seem to foretell a coming Apostacey, not just in II Thessalonians 2.  Apostacey means leaving the faith, not bad doctrine.  Maybe that isn't limited to the End Times, maybe it foretells many Jewish Christians of the East backsliding back into Rabbinism in the late first and early second centuries?  I see today a major problem of many Hebraic Themed Christian leaders calling themselves Rabbis and acting like Rabbinic interpretations are valid, even though Jesus said "Call no man Rabbi" in the same place he said "Call no man Father" which we love to use against the Catholic Church.  Being Torah observant is good, but over valuing the Rabbis, even though they got a few things right, is dangerous.

But I'm not necessarily saying the majority of these Jewish Believers fell away.   Maybe many who spread The Gospel to Gentile nations simply in time become absorbed into their populations?  Edessa for example was a city with a major Jewish population in the days of Trajan (when Christians were still seen as a sect of Jews by the Romans) and later became a major center of Syraic Christianity later.  Also there are apparently families in Antioch that claim descend from Simon Peter.

Update May 2nd 2017:  Leaders of the Sanhedrin.

I mentioned Gamaliel I up above.  He is traditionally the Nasi of the Sanhedrin till about 50 AD.  Then his son Simeon or Shimon II is from 50-70.

After 70 AD things get more clouded.  Sometimes no one is listed between Simon II and Gamaliel II.  But often Gamaliel II (the son of Simon II) isn't said to have become Nasi till 80 AD.

Between them is sometimes placed the last Nasi not of the House of Hillel.  Johanan ben Zakai.  He is given the credit for arguing to abandon the Sacrifices.

Some fringe theories out there will try to say Johanan ben Zakai is the same person as John The Baptist, since Zakai could be a shortened variation of Zacharias, and the Mandean tradition sometimes imply John The Baptist lived at least to see The Temple's destruction, contradicting the timeline of The Gospels and Josephus.

However John The Apostle's father's name also began with a Z, Zebedee.  And like the other disciples he did Baptize people.  And was among the Disciples who had previously been a student of John The Baptist.  So maybe sometimes oral traditions confused these two Johns?

John The Presbyter is an obscure figure of early Christian mentioned by Papias sometimes confused with John The Apostle, partly due to both being associated with Asia minor.  But I've been thinking, what is John The Apostle being linked to Asia minor/Ephesus at all is solely because of this John being confused with him?

Johanan ben Zakai like John The Apostle is said to have been surrounded by students on his deathbed.  And ben Zakai's last words were a prophecy of the coming of Messiah Ben David.

The Talmud's dates could be muddled by wanting a clear succession and not wanting to have Johanan and Gamiliael II's eras overlap.  Meaning maybe ben Zakai didn't till till the reign of Trajan.  So maybe Johanan ben Zakai is a corrupted oral memory of John son of Zebedee?  On the other hand, I have recently become more open to a 67 AD date for when Revelation was written, just now preterists would use that date.

Gamaliel II (80-118) is noted for disputing with early Christians.  In fact he seems to be the earliest known example of someone misusing Matthew 5:17 to support legalism.  Perhaps it is under him this Apostacey began?

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