I couldn't help writing on Jesus. Since I first met him he has held my mind and heart. I grew up, you know, on the border of Poland and Russia, which was not exactly the finest place in the world for a Jew to sit down and write a life of Jesus Christ. Yet even through these years the hope of doing just that fascinated me. For Jesus Christ is to me the outstanding personality of all time, all history, both as Son of God and as Son of Man. Everything he ever said or did has value for us today and that is something you can say of no other man, dead or alive. There is no easy middle ground to stroll upon. You either accept Jesus or reject him. You can analyze Mohammed and...Buddha, but don't try it with him. You either accept or you reject....1
He was a Jew among Jews; from no other people could a man like him have come forth, and in no other people could a man like him work; in no other people could he have found the apostles who believed in him.2
Rabbi and Theologian
The New Testament is also our book, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.3
From my youth onwards I have found in Jesus my great brother. That Christianity has regarded and does regard him as God and Savior has always appeared to me a fact of the highest importance which, for his sake and my own, I must endeavor to understand...
I am more than ever certain that a great place belongs to him in Israel's history of faith and that this place cannot be described by any of the usual categories.
Israeli Teacher and Author
If the prophet Elijah has ridden
in a fiery chariot into heaven, why should not Jesus rise and
go to heaven?
Cited by Pinchas Lapide, p. 138 in The
Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (Minneapolis:
Augsburg Publishing House, 1983).
Novelist and Essayist
Jesus was a Jew -- the best of Jews....
Jesus was not only a Jew. He was
the apex and the acme of Jewish teaching, which began with Moses
and ran the entire evolving gamut of kings, teachers, prophets,
and rabbis -- David and Isaiah and Daniel and Hillel -- until
their pith and essence was crystallized in this greatest of all
For a Jew, therefore, to forget that
Jesus was a Jew, and to deny him, is to forget and to deny all
the Jewish teaching that was before Jesus: it is to reject the
Jewish heritage, to betray what was best in Israel....
I know a number of Jews who believe
as I do, who believe it is time that the Jews reclaimed Jesus,
and that it is desirable that they should do so...To take three
examples among them, one is a novelist, whose books are about
Jews and read by Jews; one is an educator, whose work is among
Jews and who knows Jews exceptionally well; and one is a scholar
interested in Jewish Sunday schools--if he were permitted by
the elders he would include among his readings of "gems"
of Jewish literature the Sermon on the Mount.
In An Open Letter to Jews and Christians
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1938).
Former Editor of the Saturday Review
There is every reason for Judaism
to lose its reluctance toward Jesus. His own towering spiritual
presence is a projection of Judaism, not a repudiation of it.
Jesus is not to be taxed for the un-Christian ideas and acts
of those who have spoken in his name. Jesus never repudiated
Judaism. He was proud to be a Jew, yet he did not confine himself
to Judaism. He did not believe in spiritual exclusivity for either
Jew or Gentile. He asserted the Jewish heritage and sought to
preserve an exalt its values, but he did it within a universal
context. No other figure -- spiritual, philosophical, political
or intellectual -- has had a greater impact on human history.
To belong to a people that produced Jesus is to share in a distinction
of vast dimension and meaning....
The modern synagogue can live fully
and openly with Jesus.
"The Jewishness of Jesus,"
American Judaism 10:1 (1960), p. 36.
Physicist and Professor, Princeton University
As a child I received instruction
both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled
by the luminous figure of the Nazarene....No one can read the
Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality
pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.
Jesus is too colossal for the pen
of phrase-mongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity
with a bon mot.
George Sylvester Viereck, "What
Life Means to Einstein," The Saturday Evening Post,
October 26, 1929.
Hyman G. Enelow
President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
and Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, New York City (Reform)
Jesus was not only born a Jew, but
conscious of his Jewish descent.
Jesus realized the spiritual distinction
of the Jewish people, and regarded himself as sent to teach and
help his people.
Jesus, like other teachers, severely
criticized his people for their spiritual short-comings, seeking
to correct them, but at the same time he loved and pitied them.
His whole ministry was saturated with love for his people, and
loyalty to it.
Jesus, like all other of the noblest
type of Jewish teachers, taught the essential lessons of spiritual
religion -- love, justice, goodness, purity, holiness -- subordinating
the material and the political to the spiritual and the eternal.
Who can compute all that Jesus has
meant to humanity? The love he has inspired, the solace he has
given, the good he has engendered, the hope and joy he has kindled
-- all that is unequaled in human history.
"A Jewish View of Jesus", pp.441-442,
509 in Selected Works of Hyman G. Enelow, Volume III: Collected
Writings (privately printed, 1935).
Solomon B. Freehof
Author and Professor at Hebrew Union College
All this vast diversity of opinion
has not lessened the vividness of the personality of Jesus. The
opposite opinions have not balanced each other into immobility.
All the opinions are still staunchly held and ardently defended.
The years have not diminished the urgency of the question: "What
do you think of Jesus?"
...The significant fact is that time
has not faded the vividness of his [Jesus'] image. Poetry still
sings his praise. He is still the living comrade of countless
lives. No Moslem ever sings, "Mohammed, lover of my soul,"
nor does any Jew say of Moses, the teacher, "I need thee
In Stormers of Heaven (New York:
Harper and Row, 1931).
British Zionist and Author
The charm of his personality has
sent its rays all over the world, and infused countless human
hearts with the spirit of love and self-sacrifice....Yet the
roots of the life and thought of Jesus lie entirely in Jewish
In The Synagogue and the Church
(1908), quoted in Jewish Views of Jesus: An Introduction and
Appreciation by Thomas T. Walker (New York: Arno Press, 1973
[reprint of 1931 ed.]), p. 25.
German and American Reform Rabbi and Chief Rabbi of Luxembourg
In order that Jesus' power of hope
and greatness of soul should not end with his death, God has
raised in the group of his disciples the idea that he rose from
death and continues living. Indeed, He continues living in all
those who want to be true Jews.
Cited by Pinchas Lapide, p. 137 in The
Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (Minneapolis:
Augsburg Publishing House, 1983).
Historian and Professor, Hebrew University
Jesus of Nazareth...was a product
of Palestine alone, a product of Judaism unaffected by any foreign
admixture. There were many Gentiles in Galilee, but Jesus was
in no way influenced by them. In his days Galilee was the stronghold
of the most enthusiastic Jewish patriotism...In all this Jesus
is the most Jewish of Jews...more Jewish even than Hillel.
Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Macmillan, 1925), pp. 363, 374.
Chief Rabbi of Stockholm
The background [of the Synoptic Gospels]
is definitely Jewish. The odor of the Palestinian earth which
streams up from these pages is so strong that only unbridled
fantasy could transform this historical Jesus into a myth....
Here is a fact which rests on so
firm a foundation that no philosophy can shake it: Jesus of Nazareth
is a historical personality.
In "Is Jesus a Historical Personality?"
cited by Pinchas Lapide, pp. 116, 118 in Israelis, Jews, and
Jesus (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979).
Rabbbi and Educator
The times of Jesus were ripe for
a social upheaval, for the Messianic Age, when the proud will
be brought low, and the humble will be lifted up. Jesus, the
most lowly of all men, the despised, beyond comparison, of the
despised Jewish nation, has ascended the world's throne to become
the Great King of the whole earth.
In Judaism at the World's Parliament
of Religions (Cincinnati: Clarke, 1894).
Orthodox Jewish Scholar, Germany
I accept the resurrection of Easter
Sunday not as an invention of the community of disciples, but
as a historical event.
If the resurrection of Jesus from
the dead on that Easter Sunday were a public event which had
been made known...not only to the 530 Jewish witnesses but to
the entire population, all Jews would have become followers of
Jesus. To me this would have had only one imaginable consequence:
the church, baptism, the forgiveness of sins, the cross, everything
which today is Christian would have remained an inner-Jewish
institution, and you [Gentiles], my dear friend, would today
still be offering horsemeat to Wotan on the Godesberg. Put in
other words, I see in the fact that the Easter experience was
imparted to only some Jews the finger of God indicating that,
as it says in the New Testament, "the time is fulfilled."
Jewish Monotheism and Christian Trinitarian
Doctrine: A Dialogueby Pinchas
Lapide and JÃ¼rgen Moltmann (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
1981), pp. 59, 68.
Maimonides (Moses Ben Maimon)
Philosopher and Legal Codifier
All these matters which refer to
Jesus of Nazareth...only served to make the way free for the
King Messiah and to prepare the whole world for the worship of
God with a united heart, as it is written: "Yea, at that
time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him
with one accord" (Zeph. 3:9). In this way the messianic
hope, the Torah, and the commandments have become a widespread
heritage of faith -- among the inhabitants of the far islands
and among many nations, uncircumcised in heart and flesh.
"Mishneh Torah" (Hilkhot Melakhim
XI, 4), cited by Pinchas Lapide, p. 143 in The Resurrection
of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing
Isaac Joseph Poysner
Christianity is bone of our bones,
and flesh of our flesh. The bearers of the Christian message
were Jews, and they hailed from Judaism.
In The Kingdom of the Messiah
Hans Joachim Schoeps
Professor of the History of Religion at Erlangen
The church of Jesus Christ has preserved
no portrait of its lord and saviour. If Jesus were to come again
tomorrow, no Christian would know his face. But it might well
be that he who is coming at the end of days, he who is awaited
by the synagogue as by the church, is one, with one and the same
In The Jewish-Christian Argument:
A History of Theologies in Conflict (New York: Holt, Rinehart
and Winston, 1963).
Dr. Elie Soloweyczyk
Jesus had no other end in view than
to animate men with faith in the one God and to urge them on
to the practice of all the neighborly virtues and love for everyone,
even enemies. May God grant us all, Jews and Christians, that
we may follow the teaching of Jesus and his shining example,
for our well-being in this world and our salvation in the next.
Kol Kore o Ha-Talmud Wehabrith Hachadasha III: 9; published 1875; cited in Pinchas Lapide,
Israelis, Jews and Jesus (Garden City NY: Doubleday, 1979),
American Reform Rabbi
If what Jesus said or did in his
time among his people, appear strange to the Jew of our day,
it is only because we are removed from the thoughts and life
of his period by twenty centuries. We read his life, we judge
his acts and his views, by our own present day knowledge and
understanding of religion generally, and Judaism in particular.
The misjudgment we oft-times impute to Jesus is completely that
of our own.
Pharisaism and Jesus (New York: Philosophical Library, 1963), p.
Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies, University of Oxford
...No objective and enlightened student
of the Gospels can help but be struck by the incomparable superiority
Second to none in profundity of insight
and grandeur of character, he is in particular an unsurpassed
master of the art of laying bare the inmost core of spiritual
truth and of bringing every issue back to the essence of religion,
the existential relationship of man and man, and man and God.
Jesus the Jew: A Historian's Reading
of the Gospels (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1973), p. 224.
American Businessman, Synagogue President, and Author
His wisdom and gentleness, his unselfishness
of spirit and his love for humanity, his desire to live in the
spirit of the early Jewish prophets, and to practise in his daily
life the ethics of Judaism, are becoming better understood, so
that the modern Jew looks upon Jesus as one of the greatest gifts
that Israel has given to the world, and he is, therefore, proud
to call Jesus his very own: blood of his blood, flesh of his
Had there been no Abraham, there
would have been no Moses. Had there been no Moses, there would
have been no Jesus. Had there been no Jesus, there would have
been no Paul. Had there been no Paul, there would have been no
Christianity. Had there been no Christianity, there would have
been no Luther. Had there been no Luther, there would have been
no Pilgrim fathers to land on these shores with the Jewish Bibles
under their arms. Had there been no Pilgrim fathers, there would
have been no civil or religious liberty....Without Jesus or Paul,
the God of Israel would still have been the God of a handful.
Jesus the Jew and Other Addresses (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1902).
Rabbi Stephen S. Wise
American Reform Rabbi
Neither Christian protest nor Jewish
lamentation can annul the fact that Jesus was a Jew, an Hebrew
of the Hebrews....
Jesus was not only a Jew but
he was the Jew, the Jew of Jews...
In "The Life and Teaching of Jesus
the Jew," The Outlook, June 7, 1913.
Scholar and Visiting Professor at Hebrew and Tel Aviv Universities
The Book and the Land have become
sanctified to the world and this was not the work of the Diaspora
Jews who, in spite of the injunction, did not become "a
light to the Gentiles," but was the work rather of a single
Jew and his band of Jewish followers, all of them Sabras. They
were all born and bred in the Land, which is in this sense the
most fruitful land on earth.
In Israel: The Sword and the Harp,
(Cranbury, NJ: Associated U. Presses, 1969).
- Ben Siegel, The Controversial Sholem Asch: An Introduction to His Fiction (Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1976), p. 148, quoting an interview with Asch by Frank S. Mead in The Christian Herald in 1944.
- Quoted by Shalom Ben-Chorin in "The Image of Jesus in Modern Judaism," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 11, no. 3 (Summer 1974), p. 408.
- Kol Kitve, Ha-Poel Ha-Mizrachi, Vol. VI (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1927), pp. 103-4.
- Two Types of Faith (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961), pp. 12-13.