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The Origins of Jesus and Biblical Semantics

February 09, 2001

Regarding Letters ("Jesus Was a Jew, Not an Anti-Semite," Jan. 30): I would like to dispel the myth once and for all that Jesus was or could possibly be a Jew. Jesus was no more a Jew than Moses was a Christian.

First, Jesus was born of a "virgin" and therefore had no earthly father. This made Joseph and Mary his earthly guardians--and nothing more. There never was or could be any genetic blood or biological link whatsoever. Jesus lived among Jews, but he was not of them.

LILY JAMIL

United Kingdom

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When Jesus, or others quoted in the word of God, referred to "the Jews," this was not in reference to the Jewish population in general, which would be written "jews." When capitalized, this refers to the very important leaders of Jerusalem at that time. Jesus was very definitely a jew who was one of the common people, a carpenter, with no title of great distinction given to him by the Jews who were in the seats of power. So when he rebukes the "Jews," he is not rebuking his "fellow jews," but he is speaking to the corrupt leaders of the people, as well as any who would practice their hypocrisy. And, of course, he was never an "anti-Semite."

VIVIAN LINDNER

Glendale

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In 1st century Palestine there were only two political entities (besides the Romans) in community politics. The "executive" segment was primarily practiced by the monarchies. The administrative and religious/judicial arenas of community life centered more around the priesthood. To be a practitioner of 1st century Jewish politics, one had to also be a Jewish rabbi, because in its occupied entirety Israel remained, in fact, an unrequited theocracy.

Jesus was a Jew. What's more important to realize is that Jesus was a practicing Jew, right up to his moment of death.

In Jesus' time, the "us against them" politics of Jewish society was wholly a Jewish event. It was only after Christianity sufficiently separated itself from Jewish identity that anti-Jewish sentiment was also redefined as "pro-Christian." It was after these initial times of Christian persecution that Christianity ultimately became the preferred religion of Rome. Consequently, anti-Jewish payback also became the reactive Christian activity of the day.

D.N. DAUGHERTY

Pasadena

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