So I just glanced through Gene’s latest post entitled “Jesus’ Five Most Unbiblical Teachings” in which he tries to forestall the Jewish reclamation of Yeshua by bringing five charges against Yeshua. I’d like to respond to the 5th charge that Yeshua distorted Torah commandments.
The 5th charge Gene bases on Mark 7:18 which reads:
“And he said to them, ‘Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him'”
Gene interprets this as Yeshua attacking Leviticus 11, the food laws regarding foods which cause defilement.
But was Yeshua’s statement in Mark 7:18 an attack on Leviticus 11?
Here’s a little excerpt from Furstenburg’s article entitled “Defilement Penetrating the Body”:
“Interpreting Jesus’ saying in light of first-century Halakhah– and not as a reaction against the biblical laws of ritual purity–offers us a completely different point of view with a new set of considerations. Kister has suggested that, in its first-century context, the first limb of the logion, ‘there is nothing outside a person which by going into him can defile him’, could not be related to the impure animals listed in Leviticus 11. Their consumption was prohibited and thus they were not part of the normative diet. Rather, Kister argues, this kind of statement might refer to foods which became contaminated by touching sources of impurity such as a corpse, swarming creatures or a menstruant. Indeed, understood in this way, Jesus’ statement lies on solid halakhic foundations. Contaminated food does not cause the person eating it to become impure,” Yair Furstenburg, Defilement Penetrating the Body: A New Understanding of Contamination in Mark 7.15
In conclusion, Gene’s 5th charge is rather frivolous as it deliberately avoids the first-century context and the rather obvious possibility that Yeshua, an Orthodox Jew accepted by large segments of the 1st Century Pharisees, was engaging in an intra-halachic dispute regarding two competing models of ritual purity during a time when halacha was less settled than it is today.
As for the other charges, Yeshua does claim to be Divine. Indeed, His student John refers to Him as the Creator. But this isn’t a problem when once recognizes that the Torah says there would be a Divine Messiah who would die for the sins of Israel.
Source: Orthodox Messianic Judaism (http://goo.gl/tTgTQM)