According to Time Magazine, Benedict XVI, in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth:
… acknowledges [Rabbi Jacob Neusner’s] point that Jesus is offering the Jews a transformation rather than a continuation of the Torah but maintains that the trade-off is worth it, provided Jesus is not merely “a liberal reform rabbi” but “the Son.” That Neusner and other Jews regard that very Sonship as a deal breaker does not bother him much. “It would be good for the Christian world to look respectfully at this obedience of Israel,” he writes, “and thus to appreciate better the great commandments” as universalized by Jesus. (Time Magazine Online Edition, “The Pope’s Favorite Rabbi,” May 24, 2007)
Could there possibly be more deception crammed into that single sentence?
Judaic rabbis of Talmud and Kabbalah are Israel whom Christians should respect for their obedience to the commandments of the Bible? Not according to Jesus Christ. Jesus said that the Pharisees don’t do the works of Abraham (John 8;40). Jesus said that the Pharisees do not hear the Word of God because they are not of God (John 8;47).
Rabbi Neusner has stated quite plainly in many of his books that his “religion,” rabbinic Judaism, traces it’s roots to the Pharisees:
“The Pharisees are important for two reasons. First, the Gospels portray them as one of the principle opposition groups to Jesus. Second, Judaism as we know it generally traces its roots back to the Pharisees.” (Jacob Neusner, Judaism in the Beginning of Christianity [Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1984], p.45)
So anyone who has read the Gospel of John knows that a spiritual descendant of the Pharisees cannot even hear the Commandments of God, much less obey them. If they did hear and obey God’s Word they would be followers of Jesus Christ. (John 14)
But this claim from Benedict can be demonstrated to be backwards even if the “Christological” argument is put aside, for Rabbi Neusner himself has written on many occasions of how the rabbis themselves create “Torah” (see:Talmud) and that their god studies it!
This is what Benedict identifies as the “obedience” of “Israel” which Christians should “look respectfully” to in order to better appreciate the “great commandments”? What great commandments could he possibly be speaking of!?!?! The Biblical commandments? There couldn’t be worse abrogators of the Biblical commandments than the rabbis.
Benedict accepts Neusner’s argument that He rejects Christ because He changed the Law, but that’s exactly what Neusner, his fellow rabbis and their spiritual Pharisaic forefathers have done!!!! Rabbi Neusner demonstrates it himself. They make void the word of God through their tradition. (Mark 7;13) These are the last people Christians should respectfully look to as an example of obedience to the Biblical commandments.
And do I need to point out the backwardness of the Pope of the Catholic Church identifying the spiritual descendants of the Pharisees, who Christ identified as the spiritual sons of the Devil, as “Israel”(John 8;44)? Christ denied the Pharisees their claim to be “Israel” even though they truly were flesh descendants of Abraham (John 8;37). The rabbis of our time are neither flesh or spiritual descendants of Abraham. How much more absurd is their claim to be Israel than that of the Pharisees of Christ’s time? And the Pope is attempting to sell us on this claim? Double-minded insanity.
Even if what was implied in Benedict’s statement was true–that the rabbis uphold the Biblical commandments as Abraham did–this would be nothing for Christians to admire. Our Messiah, Whom Abraham rejoiced that he might see, has come. Christians have the grace imparted through His sacrifice on the cross and by the descent of the Holy Ghost at the Pentecost (but are they cooperating with it?). Christians have a New Testament infinitely superior to the crude Old Testament which was suitable for a perverse people stained by original sin. Jesus said that John the Baptist was greater than all of the Old Testament Prophets. What would emulation of the Old Testament Prophets merit post Pentecost?
Now in saying a new, he hath made the former old. And that which decayeth and groweth old, is near its end. (Hebrews 8;13)