When Judaism Jumped the Shark

or The Undeserved Immunity of Devilish Talmudism

“For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”
Matthew 23:4

One of the great benefits of understanding the “preteristic” nature of the New Testament is the way the many supposedly “generic” apostolic warnings in the epistles are suddenly grounded in their Jewish context. The destruction of the Temple barely gets a mention in any church today, yet when the letters of Paul, Peter, James and John are understood to be aimed at Jews outside the Church and Judaizers inside it, the New Testament doesn’t become less relevant to us, but more relevant.

To modern Christians, the Herods and the Pharisees are clearly the bad guys when mentioned by name, yet there is a strange reluctance to recognize their presence or influence when they are not. Many scholars rail against first century Greek rhetors and Roman cultists as the target of the apostles’ ire, but nothing could be further from the truth. Those issues are out in the shadows, but judgment begins at the house of God.

James Jordan has done a great job in explaining the presence of the Herodian line as it was predicted, not by name but by nature, in the book of Daniel. [1] Peter Leithart has also made some interesting observations in his commentary on the epistles of John. [2] One reviewer, however, doesn’t think he goes far enough:

Leithart identifies the enemies against whom John is writing as a variant of Judaism. He then gives a thorough discussion of the various nuances of post-apostolic Judaism(s) and Gnosticism(s). He explains that scholars are divided on whether the enemies are Gnostics or Judaizers. The problem is that the enemies display characteristics of both groups, but are not reducible to either. John is writing before Gnosticism really became a problem, and the Judaizers seem to display anti-Jewish presuppositions.

Leithart is baffled by the Judaizers’ anti-material worldview. Is this not fundamentally at odds with the rich, creation-oriented worldview of the Old Testament? Leithart cannot really answer this question except to say the Jews were influenced by some Eastern proto-gnostic cults. That’s a half-truth, though. Leithart does not factor in the influence of the Talmud at all. This remains a fatal weakness in the Federal Vision movement. They note certain qualities of the Old Testament and read that into the worldview of “all Jews and all times.” When this happens, as we see here, they cannot account for the anti-Christian character of the Jews in John’s time.

Nevertheless, Leithart is onto something. His discussion points the reader to the interplay of Gnosticism and Judaism. Leithart’s weakness, though, is that he keeps wanting to see Judaism as something good and Old Testament-ish. After the Jews killed Christ, though, and in the book of Acts began defining themselves as violently anti-Christian, they became a different creature.

Perhaps Dr. Leithart is simply being polite in his assessment of post-Pentecostal Judaism. Or perhaps there was a marked difference between the “Old Testament” religion of the people and the “Talmudic” religion of the Jewish leaders, who oppressed the people and led them astray. Michael Hoffman writes:

Recall the scene in the Book of Luke when the Pharisees, using their sly ability to twist words, which has remained with their spiritual heirs to this day, tried to ensnare Jesus, when they asked Him, “By whose authority do you teach?” Jesus countered by asking of them a question in turn, “By whose authority did John baptize?”

This passage in Luke illuminates the extent to which the peasantry among the Jewish people, the am ha’aretz, were on Jesus’ side at that time. The Pharisees murmered among themselves, “If we answer that God sent John, He will say why were you not then baptized? But if we say John’s authority did not come from God, the people will stone us because they believe that John was a prophet.”

The “people” of Israel, the am ha’aretz, for a time believed John the Baptist and did not hold with the Pharisees or their anthropomorphic traditions. What is the status of Judaics in our time who do not believe in the Talmud? How do the rabbis judge Judaics who have not learned and may even have rejected the Talmud?

Hoffman goes on to quote some rabbinic definitions of the am ha’aretz in the Talmud, showing how Jews who did not highly regard or acquaint themselves with the oral tradition were viewed by the Pharisees. The quotations are astounding and disgusting, and they give modern Christians a glimpse of the perfect hatred of which Jesus and the first martyrs were victims. I will repeat only one quotation here:

“Rabbi Eleazaer said: An am ha’aretz — it is permitted to stab him (even) on the Day of Atonement which falls on the Sabbath.

“Said his disciples to him, Master, may we slaughter him (ritually)?

“The rabbi replied: This (ritual slaughter) requires a benediction, whereas that (stabbing of the am ha’aretz) does not require a benediction.

“Rabbi Samuel ben Nachmani said in Rabbi Yochanan’s name: One may tear an am ha’aretz like a fish!

“Said Rabbi Samuel ben Isaac: And (this means) stab him along his back.” [3]

Rabbinic Judaism was not and is not in any way “Old Testament-ish.” When Jesus warned His disciples about the “leaven” of the Pharisees, it had more to do with elitist hatred than “works salvation.” Familiarizing ourselves with the Talmud’s perversions would not only help us to interpret the New Testament more clearly (including the “ritual slaughter” of Christ and His Firstfruits), it would free many modern Christians of the erroneous idea that modern Jews worship the God of the Bible.

Critics of Islam are the toast of western society… It is not that we are opposed to honest Christian or scholarly analysis of Islam, however critical. We can’t help noting, however, the deafening silence of all these “courageous” crusading Christian authors and “politically incorrect” Conservatives when it comes to the “dark side” of what the Talmud “really teaches.” They have apparently forgotten that the first mission of Jesus Christ was to the “lost sheep of the House of Israel” (Matt. 15:24). Today we are content to let them remain lost, while we thump our chests in glorious crusades against the hated Muslim. The modern Roman Catholic Church forbids speaking to the gentiles the truth about Judaism just as the rabbis tried to forbid Christians from doing so (1 Thessalonians 2:16). [4]

The sin of the Jewish people in Jesus’ day was not high-handed. They had been led astray by their teachers. The sin of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, however, was “high-handed,” that is, conscious sin. They knew the Scriptures, but they were a den of snakes in the Garden of God. They twisted and replaced the words of God. Consequently, Jesus told them that their spiritual father was the devil.

But this was before Pentecost. The coming of the Spirit of God enlightened the eyes of the Jews who believed and darkened the eyes of those who would not. The cult of the Talmud ceased to be merely “high-handed” concerning its opposition to Christ and His people. [5] It became outright demonic, which explains not only the apostolic hatred of the Judaistic false teachers, but the description of the “sorcerous” Covenant crimes of the great whore in the Revelation. Jesus condemns not “the kings of the earth” but “the rulers of the Land.”

Hoffman has a great deal to say about the manipulation of the modern West by “Talmudists.” Much of it will be seen as inflammatory, but on this I agree with him: Since World War II, the rabbinical “archetypal persecutors, haters, killers and racists” have used the victimization of Jews to render their religion immune from criticism by the Church. The accusation of “antisemite,” like “racist,” is a devilish use of historical, ethic truth to mask and protect a continued doctrinal lie. [6]

[1] See his Daniel commentary, The Handwriting on the Wall.
[2] See John’s Real Enemies.
[3] Michael Hoffman, Judaism’s Strange Gods, pp. 13-14.
[4] Hoffman, pp. 17-18.
[5] See Strong Delusion.
[6] Jesus taught us not to confuse ethnic origins with spiritual character, which is why credobaptism is crucial to the mission of His Church.

Related posts:
Parallel Theologies
The Future of Israel Re-examined

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One Response to “When Judaism Jumped the Shark”

  • MarkO Says:

    interesting. even Jesus said the religious leaders of His day had departed from Moses.

    We are studying Mark 7 in our SS class where the Pharisees are so concerned with externalism, ie., an intrenched Rabbinc traditional that had clouded over the Gospel according to Moses.