Some People Still Don’t Know That Yeshua-Jesus Was Jewish.
A photo from the film “Killing Jesus.” Photo: National Geographic.
When I tell people that I’ve written extensively about the “Jewish Jesus,” they frequently say, “but everyone knows that Jesus was Jewish.” It would seem so.
But dig deeper, and you will find what I discovered in interviewing Christians and Jews: That most people actually mean that Jesus used to be Jewish.
Yes, he was born Jewish, but somehow he was really a Christian. They say that he preached Christian teachings, or that he officially became a Christian when he rejected Judaism and was baptized by John the Baptist.
These views are all false.
The truth is — based on depictions of Jesus in the four Gospels of the New Testament (Matthew Mark, Luke and John) — Jesus lived and died as a dedicated Jew. His argument with the Jewish leadership — King Herod and the Sanhedrin (the ruling body of Judaism) — was about their abandonment of the spiritual core of Judaism, which Jesus sought to restore.
The fact that Jesus was a dedicated practicing Jew throughout his life is the consensus of both Christian and Jewish biblical scholars.
For example, Episcopal priest Bruce Chilton states in his book Rabbi Jesus, that: “Everything Jesus did was about Jews, for Jews, and by Jews.” And former Catholic priest James Carroll, author of Constantine’s Sword, expresses a similar view when he asks: “If Jesus were alive today, would he be one of those fervent black-hatted figures dovening [praying] at the Western Wall [the remnant of the Jerusalem Temple]?”
Adding his voice, Shaye J.D. Cohen, a professor of Hebrew literature and philosophy at Harvard University, explicitly attests: “He [Jesus] was born of a Jewish mother, in Galilee, a Jewish part of the world. All of his friends, associates, colleagues, disciples, all of them were Jews. He regularly worshipped in Jewish communal worship, what we call synagogues. He preached from Jewish text. … He celebrated the Jewish festivals. He lived, died, taught as a Jew.”
A striking passage in the Gospel of Luke (4:16) backs up Father Chilton, James Carroll and Shaye Cohen: “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” That Jesus, “as was his custom,” attended synagogue services on the Jewish Sabbath and read passages from the Torah — as Jews did then and continue to do today — says a lot. And there is much more.
So why do so many people maintain the contradictory position: “Yes Jesus was a Jew, but he was a Christian.”
The tenaciousness of this incongruity was driven home to me when Bill O’Reilly, author of the bestselling book Killing Jesus, expressed the same contradiction on his TV show “The O’Reilly Factor,“ when he slammed one of my articles. In response to my statement quoting O’Reilly himself that “Jesus affirmed his Jewish identity right up to the crucifixion,” he said: “Of course I affirmed that because it’s true.” But O’Reilly then added: “He [Starr] goes off the rails when he says that Christianity didn’t exist in Jesus’ lifetime and he never proposed a new religion; that is false.”
I wish Bill O’Reilly would tell us when Jesus started the new religion — if he died a dedicated Jew?
O’Reilly also objected to my assertion that one of the most powerful and overlooked supports for the denial of Jesus’ Jewish identity was Mediaeval and Renaissance artwork. But search through the vast archives of these artworks spanning centuries, and you will be hard pressed to find any representation or hint that Jesus, his family or followers had any connection to Judaism.
Jesus is typically portrayed as northern European in appearance, embedded in anachronistic later-day palatial Christian settings surrounded by Christian artifacts — all totally alien to his ethnicity, religion and identity as a practicing Jew who resided in a rural Galilean village. Yet, wherever the Renaissance Christian populace turned — in churches, public spaces and homes — they would only see images of a totally Christian Jesus.
Anti-Semitism was so deeply embedded in Medieval and Renaissance society that it was unthinkable for an artist to paint a Jewish Jesus — that is, if the artist valued keeping his head attached to his neck or not getting burned at the stake.
But why should we care about this pervasive falsification of biblical history? Because in denying Jesus’ Jewish identify through omission, these powerful images falsely established Jesus as a Christian and Jews as “the others,” who Christian society claimed killed Jesus — a lingering and bizarre accusation, when one considers that all of Jesus’ followers were Jews — and that without those followers, there would be no Christianity.
Had Jesus been pictured authentically as a Jew, might some forms of anti-Semitism not have occurred, or might they have been mitigated and challenged?
The power of images has convinced me that film, rather than words alone, would be the most effective medium to establish Jesus’s true identity — and to lead to a deeper understanding of historical anti-Semitism. I knew that several compelling films, including “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “The Passion of Christ,” and “The Da Vinci Code,” despite public condemnations for blasphemy and anti-Semitism, generated vigorous public debate about Jesus.
That’s why I’ve written a screenplay about “Jesus the Jew From Nazareth.” I hope my screenplay, and others like it, will get produced, so that the world finally understands that Jesus was thoroughly Jewish… By Bernard Starr.
Bernard Starr holds a PhD in psychology from Yeshiva University in NYC and is a professor emeritus at the City University of New York, Brooklyn College. He is also a past president of the Brooklyn Psychological Association and the Association for Spirituality and Psychotherapy.
When President John Kennedy contemplated nuclear war, what went through the minds of the U.S. bomber crews?
STANDING ON A STEPLADDER IN THE GLOOM of the B-52’s cavernous bomb bay, I squeezed between the lower pair of torpedo-shaped nukes—B28FI thermonuclear weapons— and aimed an inspection mirror and flashlight at the circular viewports on each: “safe” indicators visible, yield settings correct. Satisfied that our bomb load was dormant, the navigator and I connected the mechanical bomb door actuators and backed carefully out of the bay. With the pilot and gunner, we shouldered the heavy doors, sticky with hydraulic fluid, and slammed the latches home with a solid thunk.
In the crew compartment, the radar navigator—who on a B-52 serves as the bombardier—and the electronic warfare officer wrapped up their inventory of our code documents and strike folders. Then the six of us hopped into an Air Force-blue, six-passenger pickup and headed to “the vault.” For the next three hours, we sat within a guarded, windowless, single-story, cinder-block bunker to study the inconceivable: the part we’d play in global thermonuclear war.
Our sortie was just one strike mission in the Single Integrated Operational Plan, a Strategic Air Command script for thousands of aircraft and missile attacks against the Russian homeland in response to a Soviet assault. Laid out in meticulous detail in our strike folder were flight routes, refueling tracks, bomb run airspeeds, our positive-control turnaround point—where we would turn back unless we received a radio order to strike—and finally, deep in the Soviet Union, four targets, one for each of our 1.1-megaton weapons.
In the vault, my crewmates, who ordinarily wouldn’t go more than a few minutes without a joke or good-natured ribbing, were deadly serious. As we concentrated on the maps, the nav team explained how they would take us in and out of the target areas; we discussed countermeasures, fuel reserves, how we would link up if forced to bail out. I was on alert from 1979 until 1983, and each time we studied the SIOP, I knew our six-man combat crew was ready—skilled, trained, willing—to execute a mission from which we would likely not return.
I have wondered since then what went through the minds of other Strategic Air Command crews who, 20 years before my crew met in the vault, came much closer to flying those missions than we did. The bomber crews on alert during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis were studying the SIOP at the only time in the history of the cold war when U.S. forces reached Defense Condition 2. At DEFCON 1, those SAC crews would have been dropping bombs.
“I thought it was unlikely that we would complete the entire mission,” says Augustine R. “Gus” Letto, who, when the missile crisis broke, was a captain and EB-47E copilot with the 353rd Bomb Squadron at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Ohio. “My personal hope was that we could complete enough of the mission to support the low-flying strike aircraft.” The EB-47s were high-altitude jammers, exposed to fighters and surface-to-air missiles. “I decided that the world as we knew it would be at an end,” Letto continues, “and that my family, if they were lucky, would not survive the initial nuclear exchange.”
Letto, 30 at the time, was pulling the week-long ground alert tour required of every SAC crew member nearly twice a month. Crews on ground alert were expected to take off, ready for combat, within 15 minutes of the order to launch. For the entire week they were on alert, they lived in a partially buried, concrete-block alert shack. “We had spent the whole afternoon [of October 22, 1962] in the ‘mole hole’ when they announced a meeting for aircraft commanders only,” he says. Outside, Letto saw crew chiefs and technicians at work on the wing’s EB-47s: topping fuel tanks, loading 20-mm ammo for the twin tail cannon, installing JATO (jet-assisted takeoff) bottles—in short, preparing the bombers for combat.
To the Brink.
Six days earlier, on October 16, President John F. Kennedy’s Executive Committee had begun to act on intelligence gathered by U.S. Air Force U-2 reconnaissance aircraft: The Soviet Union was preparing to deploy medium-range R-12 missiles in Cuba. The missiles had 2.3-megaton warheads and a 1,100-mile range. They could reach Philadelphia, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and the Panama Canal. (Photo-interpreters discovered that Soviet technicians were also preparing sites for 16 intermediate-range R-14 ballistic missiles, with a range of 2,300 miles.)
The U.S. Joint Chiefs began planning air strikes to destroy the missile emplacements and to support the invasion of Cuba that would follow. SAC’s commander, General Thomas S. Power, was a hard-bitten veteran of the B-29 bomber campaign against Japan in World War II; his wartime superior and predecessor at SAC, Curtis E. LeMay, was now Air Force Chief of Staff. Both men saw two roles for the Strategic Air Command: to deter any Soviet offensive action and to meet any Soviet attack from Cuba with a massive retaliatory strike against Russia.
The feverish activity that Gus Letto witnessed from the alert shack on October 22 was a response to a message from the Joint Chiefs sent that afternoon: U.S. forces worldwide were to go to DEFCON 3 at seven that evening. At SAC bases around the world, both air and ground crews raced to get every flyable bomber and tanker “cocked.”
Brexit campaigner Gina Miller named UK’s most influential black person.
Gina Miller outside the high court in central London. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters.
List of 100 most influential people of African or African-Caribbean heritage shows significant rise in female entries.
Gina Miller, the campaigner who won a Brexit legal challenge against the government, has been named as the country’s most influential black person.
The acknowledgement comes in the latest annual list of the 100 most influential people of African or African-Caribbean heritage in Britain, published by the Powerlist Foundation on Tuesday.
It is set against an extraordinary range of vitriol directed at the lawyer over her successful challenge to the UK government over article 50.
“It’s amazing to get an accolade when what I’ve done has solicited a huge amount of abuse,” said Miller, who has previously said she would “seriously consider” leaving the UK because of threats of an acid attack that left her afraid to leave her home.
“To have somebody acknowledge me is extraordinarily kind and counters a lot of what I still get on a daily basis.”
Miller became a public figure when she challenged the UK government over its authority to trigger article 50 without parliamentary approval. The supreme court ruling in her favour in January and, as a consequence, she became a hate figure for many Brexit supporters.
In the same month as the supreme court judgment, the Metropolitan police revealed they had issued eight “cease and desist” notices to people who had sent Miller threatening messages.
In July, Rhodri Philipps, the fourth Viscount St Davids, was jailed for 12 weeks for offering money to anyone who would run over and kill Miller.
The entrepreneur, who founded and leads the online wealth manager SCM Direct and the True and Fair foundation charity, has had 24-hour security installed in her home and hired security guards.
She previously told the Guardian: “I’ve had people say there are only three positions a woman of colour can have – that is a prostitute, a cleaner or having babies.”
The recognition for Miller comes in a year that has seen a significant growth in the number of females on the Powerlist, with black women accounting for almost half of the top 100 and six of the top 10.
The Powerlist 2018 publisher, Michael Eboda, said: “I’m particularly proud that the number of the women on the list has increased so substantially.
“Gina was a shoo-in this year for number one. Brexit is the most important political event to happen this century and Gina’s role in ensuring the sovereignty of parliament was recognised by the courts, has been monumental and has set a precedent that will last hundreds of years.”
UK Vogue editor Edward Enninful, who is 10th on the power list, and Naomi Campbell. Photograph: Timpone/BFA/Rex/Shutterstock.
Miller beat Ric Lewis, chief executive and chair of Tristan Capital Partners, to the top spot. Completing the top three was Ismail Ahmed, founder of the money transfer company World Remit.
In fourth place was Sharon White, chief executive of Ofcom, the communications regulator. She has previously criticised broadcasters for a “woeful” lack of diversity among their staff.
Another woman who made the top 10 was Laura Serrant, professor of nursing at Sheffield Hallam University. Serrant, who has extensive experience in health inequalities, said she was surprised but delighted to be included and commended the awards for demolishing stereotypes.
“It doesn’t restrict our achievements to specific sectors such as sport or entertainment,” she said. “That’s the beauty of the power list, looking into the diversity of occupations and experiences.”
At number 10 is Edward Enninful, who made headlines when he became the first male editor of Vogue in the magazine’s 101-year history.
An outspoken advocate for more diversity in fashion, he has wasted little time in increasing the number of black contributors to Vogue. He said he was “honoured to be on the list with such inspirational individuals”.
The Powerlist, first published in 2006, is picked by an independent panel of judges. Last year’s number one was Tom Illube, the entrepreneur and educational philanthropist.
Others who have topped the list include architect David Adjaye, former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman, philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, and Baronesses Scotland and Amos.
An analysis of Britain’s most powerful and influential people, published by the Guardian last month, found that barely 3% are from black and minority ethnic groups, despite accounting for almost 13% of the population.