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Leaving Jesus: A Book Every Christian Should have Read before they believed in Jesus Paperback – January 29, 2012
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About the Author
Born in January 1963, James entered the world at a turbulent time. James' loving parents offered stability and support in raising him. Later James moved to a small rural town near Washington, D.C. James graduated high school and was deeply immersed into the electronics industry. When life became too hectic, James left his field and delivered newspapers for a number of years as his grandparents and parents had before him. When the opportunity came to enter another type of work, James seized it and became a contractor in the construction industry but he never forgot his dream to write books. That is why you are reading this now. James and his wife are busy in the task of raising three children of their own.
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In twelve chapters, Mr. Wood discusses topics such as the true meaning of the word Messiah (anointed one), what the Hebrew scriptures say about sin and atonement, examines the "Messianic" prophecies, answers the question "who is satan" (its not what you think), and shares his theories on the real messiah as prophesied by Ezekiel. Most people will be most changed by the revelation that there is no fallen angel, satan, who tortures man and tests God. Nothing happens without his allowing it as proclaimed in Isaiah 45.
I am eternally grateful to James Wood for writing this work and answering any and all questions I could have as I worked through my beliefs in the man called Jesus. The only criticism I have of the work is that he uses the King James Version of the scriptures from which to quote including all of the "thous" and "thees." Enjoy!
Upon leaving it lying around, I noticed it got very emotional reactions before anyone opened the book. The cover and mere precept seems to be inflammatory to Christians. I would urge any Christian looking at this book to buy a copy even though you don't think you agree with it. Take a notebook and refute the book point-by-point. I was not able to challenge many of its points. But then, take the book and challenge your preacher point-by-point. If you want to "share the gospel" with a Jew, these are the objections you'll have to overcome. You may as well study-up ahead of time.
I would recommend the online-for-free audio series by Tovia Singer as a companion for this book.
VERY good job Mr. Wood!!
It should be noted that Wood freely acknowledges his intellectual debts to Rabbi Tovia Singer, founder of Outreach Judaism, and author of the excellent book Let's Get Biblical!: Why doesn't Judaism Accept the Christian Messiah? Volume 1, as well as the Let's Get Biblical Lecture Series DVD.
Of the "her seed" reference in Gen 3:14-15 [which Christians consider a messianic prophecy], he points out, "[Christians] think this is the only reference in the entire Bible to seed coming from a woman... I wonder why Christians haven't found the following verses... `...And the angel of the LORD said unto her [Hagar], I will multiply thy seed exceedingly...' [Gen 16:7-12]... The angel is speaking to Hagar and uses the same basic term referring to `her seed.' This scripture also shows a child being referred to as her (Hagar's) seed... why do you suppose that Christians still believe that the statement in Genesis is a prophecy foretelling of a virgin birth? Could it be that they are relying on centuries of misuse of the Hebrew Bible passages because it is the way that it has always been done?" (Pg. 16)
Of the statement in Hebrews 9:22 [`without shedding of blood is no remission'], he comments, "This is a total misrepresentation of Leviticus, in which God says that the only legitimate use of blood is on the altar, so it is not permissible to eat it. It does not say, however, that blood is the only way to atone for sin... blood is used only to atone for sin and not just any sin. It is only used to atone for UNINTENTIONAL sin. It cannot be used to atone for iniquity as there is no sacrifice for iniquity... God DID NOT require an animal sacrifice for INTENTIONAL sin... What did God require of those that had willfully sinned? If the sin was not punishable as a capital offense he wanted repentance and, of course, restitution if it involved a loss to the party who was offended." (Pg. 27-28)
Of the "Suffering Servant" passage in Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12, he observes, "Jews contend that Israel is referred to in a singular fashion here as well as in other passages, and some of the same language is used to describe the servant in parallel passages in the Hebrew Bible." (Pg. 34) He notes about 52:13-14, "Christians say that this is speaking of Jesus during his trial, when he was whipped. Surely Jesus wasn't whipped to the point so that he was `marred' more than any other man, was he? ... Jesus was beaten, but it does not say that he was beaten more than any other man." (Pg. 36) He summarizes, "Christians have a theory that throughout the rest of Isaiah the Servant is in no doubt Israel but in this lone passage Isaiah is speaking about Jesus... If the theory that this passage is about Jesus were correct, then it could be correct on all points not only a few, or only one. One might argue that some of the ambiguous verses would possibly pertain to Jesus, but that would be arguing from verses that are ambiguous against verses that are clear." (Pg. 55) Of the Isaiah 7 [`a virgin shall conceive'] passage, he points out that in Isaiah 8:1-18, "we encounter the almost exact same language found in Isaiah 7. Both the time frame and events match the description in the previous chapter. Isaiah's wife may be the young woman that is being spoken about. She isn't a virgin, because one of her children accompanied Isaiah when he spoke to King Ahaz..." (Pg. 62)
Of the "He shall be called a Nazarene" passage in Matt 2:23, he says, "there is one problem with this prophecy. It is bogus. It is not found anywhere in the Hebrew Bible. Matthew made this one up. Many Christians want to... [suggest] the thought that Matthew is saying that Jesus will take the Nazarite vow but according to Numbers [Ch. 6] Jesus did not... If Jesus had taken this vow for life, he ... would not be allowed to drink vinegar or wine... He would be required to offer a sin offering. Does this fit his pattern of life as indicated in the New Testament?" (Pg. 68-69)
Of the prophecy in Daniel 9:20-27, he states, "The words, `seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks' sound as strange today as it did the first time I studied Daniel seriously when I was a Christian. There is a missing period or semi-colon in this phrase... The ability to understand the presentation of the time line here is hampered because it is presented here erroneously as a single time period with a single messiah. This is wrong... let's look at these anointed persons. Who are they? The first one is a ruler... Cyrus was used by God to give the order to rebuild the city of Jerusalem [Isa 44:28]. This is the anointed person Daniel was speaking of. This is the first anointed `messiah' that came seven weeks or forty-nine years after Jerusalem fell... The second `anointed' mentioned in the passage is the high priest... Some time after the expiration of the sixty-two weeks the high priest was cut off... The `he' that confirms the covenant if the Emperor Titus Vespasian... Titus made an agreement that he would let sacrifices continue but after three and a half years her terminated that covenant and stopped the sacrifices... Daniel's prophecy has nothing to do with Jesus." (Pg. 86-87)
He observes, "In ]... Josh McDowell postulates that ... there exists three and only three possibilities. Either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic or he is Lord. If the New Testament is untrue and disagrees with the Hebrew Bible then it is because of a fourth possibility... The fourth possibility being that, `someone wrote statements about Jesus that simply weren't true.' This was unaddressed by Josh McDowell. Like most Christians, Josh starts with the assumption that the New Testament and every word it says came out of Jesus' mouth must be true, even if they disagree with God's Words that came first." (Pg. 99)
Of the differences in the resurrection narratives, he states, "Christians will read the differing accounts of the resurrection and figure out there is something terribly wrong. Instead of seriously studying the stories, they try to congeal them into one solid mass to solve the problems and contradictions. They will try to blur the differences in the accounts and make them fit together. It only makes things worse. Christian apologists will twist, change, combine and ignore elements in the accounts to make the stories fit together somehow." (Pg. 179-180)
He concludes on the note, "If you are following him, it is my sincere desire and prayer that you consider Leaving Jesus. Jesus is not a cure all for your life's problems... Instead, turn to the God that has laid out his plan for your life in his Torah while there is still time to learn his ways and spend the rest of your life pleasing him." (Pg. 200-201)
If you are interested in a defense of Judaism vis-à-vis Christianity's interpretations of the Bible that is extremely complex and detailed (to the point of being nearly unreadable, at times), this book will be absolute "must reading." (Even Christians who want to read it only to critique it will find Wood's arguments and documentation very challenging reading, that goes far beyond the "sound bite" arguments that too often prevail in this area.)