How has the Jewishness of Jesus Impacted You?

Shalom friends,

Jewish JesusThe subtitle of Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus is pretty bold: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith.

I’d think it was just sensationalism if it wasn’t profoundly true in my own life. Over the past dozen years, as I’ve learned about the historical reality of Jesus, it has given his words a depth and meaning that I never could see before. All of the Scriptures are so much more vibrant when I try to read them with the eyes of a follower who was right there on the scene.

Many of you who are reading this blog have been studying Jesus’ Jewish life and have seen your own faith challenged and changed. How has it done so? This time I’m asking you for you to respond in your comments below. Feel free to share!


P.S. To celebrate release of Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus this month, I’m going to have a book giveaway! Each week I’ll draw the name of one lucky person to receive a signed copy of the book. All you need to do to enter is to register for the Our Rabbi Jesus monthly email. I’ll announce the winner each Monday through the end of March, and notify the winner by email.


10 Responses to “How has the Jewishness of Jesus Impacted You?”

  1. 1
    Alicia|March 4, 2009

    I am fascinated by this topic. I am sure that my interest is fueled by the fact that I am a Jewish Believer. I also realized that the Jewishness of the first century was critical to understanding the Bible in a deeper way when I was in Seminary. Unfortunately the Seminary I attended did not teach from this context.. but I have done reading on this and want to learn more.

    Thanks for delving deeper into all this.. it is so needed.

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    John|March 5, 2009

    I am so enjoying “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus.” I appreciate that you have made it easy to read and understand the concepts and contexts of Jesus’ day. I had not thought much about the “Jewishness” of Jesus until my wife and I were blessed to spend 3 months in Israel in 2007. There the seed was planted, and it has been a fun and enlightening adventure. It has made the Gospels so much richer.
    Something I’m curious about, when the children would begin their study of Torah (Bet Sefer?)at the local synagogue, was that taught by a rabbi or one of the rulers of the synagogue? Was that the same for Bet Midrash? And lastly, was it a year-round school, or was it based around the work seasons?
    Thanks so much for sharing all your work and study!

  3. 3
    Cynthia Prentice|March 5, 2009

    Last night I posted the following comment on your blog entitled, “Getting Perspective From Two Eyes,” the “two eyes” being traditional Christian beliefs and Jesus’ Jewish Life. I would like to repost my comment here…

    I have started this sentence three times and I am having a difficult time finding the right words to express how learning to look through “both” eyes (since the summer of 2005) has impacted me.

    I have always loved the Text, been nurtured by the Text…but it is as if what I have always read has gone from flat words on a page to brilliant pop-up pictures. As a pastor’s wife, I lead the women’s Bible study at our church. It has moved my soul to see how our women have responded to looking at the Text through “both” eyes. This then spilled over to our men and then on out to our congregation.

    We have not undergone a huge “theological” shift but it is as if something in us has come alive. It’s a lot like a child’s connect the dots book. As we learned to connect the dots of the feast of Shauvot (not cutting the corners of the field, sharing the feast with the poor) with the birth of the church at Pentecost, we literally started feeding the children living in the apartments surrounding our inner city church. We sold our property on the “good” side of town and decided to stay where we are needed the most. I could go on and on and on. I bless God that he has used you, En Gedi Resource Center, RVL and others to teach us.

    Cynthia Prentice
    Arlington, Tx

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    John H.|March 5, 2009

    I saw mention of your book in the email version of Christianity Today. I look forward to reading it very much.

    Seeing Jesus in his Jewish context really is the only way to truly see Him. I believe many of us have accepted a type of revisionist history. The Jewishness of Jesus was often ignored. One could make a case that antisemitism was at the root of this. Some, like Martin Luther, harbored deep animosity for the Jewish people, especially later in his life. Luther had other redeeming qualities, but his was an all too frequent bias. Down through the centuries it is as though Jesus was gradually stripped of who and what he was when here on earth. The Sunday school Christ I knew seemed to have little relation to a Jewish carpenter who kept the law, attended synagogue and temple. Thankfully with your book and others the true story is being revealed in its context. I recall a few years ago when I was reading Alfred Edersheim’s book, “Jesus the Messiah”. He was explaining the ritual of pouring out the golden pitcher of water by the priest during the Feast of Tabernacles. This was done following a beautiful procession. The water symbolized God’s Spirit and provision. When I understood this it made sense why Jesus stood up at the feast, as it states in John, and cried out that from him rivers of living water would flow. Without this context Jesus comes off as being perhaps a little strange! When you start to look at Jesus within the Jewish context the scriptures really come alive in a new way.

    I too am Norwegian on both sides with grandparents coming over here. A good cup of coffee is one of the great pleasures of life, especially for the Norsk. Thanks for your website.

  5. 5
    Doug Ward|March 18, 2009

    When I was 18, I joined an adventist denomination to which I belonged for a number of years. From my point of view now, there were both positive and negative aspects to that experience.

    On the positive side, this was a group of very dedicated disciples of Jesus, with a love for the entire Bible. We had a very meaningful worship calendar centered around the Sabbath and festivals of Israel.

    On the negative side, we were very critical and judgmental toward the rest of Christianity. In particular, we tended to see ourselves as superior by virtue of our dedication to biblical practices.

    Since we were judgmental, our Jesus was rather judgmental too. Our understanding of first-century Judaism was limited because we didn’t pay much attention to intertestamental literature (or to legitimate scholars). What’s more, we didn’t see much need to learn more about Jewish culture. The Talmud, as far as I knew, was a collection of picky Sabbath regulations that worried about the “letter” and neglected the “spirit”. Jesus had written off all of this in one familiar proof text: “But in vain they do worship me, preaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

    In the 1990s our denomination did some major repenting. This also turned out to have both positive and negative aspects.

    On the positive side, we embraced historic Christianity and stopped condemning other Christian groups. No longer were we the critics who sat on the sidelines and condemned everyone else.

    On the negative side, the leaders of the denomination felt that to fully leave our legalistic past behind, we would have to give up our “Old Testament” worship calendar. In order to force that change on the denomination, they made use of arguments that relied on some popular antijudaic interpretations of the New Testament. The Jesus of our revamped church was still pretty judgmental.

    This whole experience left me with lots of questions about the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and in general about what the New Testament was talking about. Some key parts of working through my questions were

    1) digging into the work of some good biblical scholars—e.g., Walter Kaiser.

    2) working through Marvin Wilson’s _Our Father Abraham_ with a small group of friends.

    3) coming to know a more authentic, non-judgmental Jesus via teaching from Dwight Pryor and others. _Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus_ will introduce this sort of valuable teaching to a wider audience.

  6. 6
    Lois Tverberg|March 18, 2009

    Wow, Doug, thanks for your story. (Thanks to all you others too.)

    I grew up in a church background that ignored and disliked the Old Testament, and it created in me a distrust and dislike for the God I found there. To discover the Jewish love for the Torah and see how they find God’s grace in the Hebrew Scriptures was really healing to me. Suddenly the whole Bible was applicable to life, and God’s love was everywhere, not just in the last quarter of my Bible.

    I talk about this in Ch. 11 of Rabbi Jesus. Every chapter in the book has something in it that impacted me personally.

  7. 7
    Minister Lorenzo Alton Williams|March 25, 2009

    Here in Houston Texas about three years ago My wife and I took a two year course in The Institute of Hebraic-Christian By Dr. Richard Booker. Now this class was taught by one of his graduated pupil Pastor Gladys Pratt-Seahorn. We found this knowledge to be stimulating as this relationship between the Jew and Gentile and why Jesus did what he did out of obedience and submission to His Fathers will out of Love.Was stuck on Dr. Booker book”The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread” but now this book “Our Rabbi Jesus”may proved to be my next book to read. Haven’t ordered it yet!!!!! but I will

  8. 8
    The Revd Dr John Bunyan|April 28, 2009

    Have only just discovered this site and look forward to reading more works about the Jewish Jesus. I am an Australian Anglican priest but also a long-time member of the traditional unitarian Christian society of King’s Chapel, Boston, USA. I do have various works related to the Jewish Jesus such as Amy-Jill Levine’s “The Misunderstood Jew” but am indebted above all to Geza Vermes of Oxford for his illuminating writings about Jesus and the Gospels,and to David Flusser for his “The Sage of Galilee” updated now by R.Stephen Notley – the late David Flusser’s assessment being one that really rings bells for me. And all so different to the really frightening totalitarian, fundamentalist Christianity of my own Diocese of Sydney. Thank you !

  9. 9
    Teri|May 18, 2009

    I started studying the Jewish roots of my faith a a couple years ago, when I realized that there was a lot happening in the Bible that went right over my head. For example, Jesus would say something that the Jews would get very angry about, and I’d think “Why did they get so angry about this statement? What’s the big deal?” I asked God to teach me Hebrew from a Christian standpoint so I could understand Scripture at a deeper level, and THAT DAY I came across a website called It has become my favorite website. Your book has also added to the insight of Scripture. I plan to use it as part of our homeschool curriculum next year to teach my son.

    As I learn the Jewish roots so many Scriptures that I didn’t really understand are coming into sharp focus and I gasp, “Oh! So THAT’s what that means!” I always enjoyed Scripture, but now I’m awed by its breathtaking beauty and my life is being transformed.

    After I learned about Passover and the Jewish Wedding ceremonies, I exclaimed to my husband, “Now I understand the whole New Testament” because so many concepts I didn’t understand became clear.

    For example, I learned that discipeship is not just a matter of attending a few discipeship classes and learning a set of beliefs, it’s LIVING and MODELING my faith. I am now discipling others—modeling to them what it means to live in faith.

    As I learn that the Jews prayed blessings throughout their day, from morning to evening, including “good” experiences and “bad,” I understand what Paul meant when he talked about giving thanks in every circumstance and praying without ceasing…and I am seeking to pray blessings to God throughout MY day, no matter what the situation is, which changes my whole mindset.

    These are just a couple examples. I could go on and on!

  10. 10
    Deborah|January 19, 2012

    I am able to draw closer to Jesus now I know His Jewishness. I was brought up Catholic and still follow Rabbi Jesus, my brother. God Bless and thank you!

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