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Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church Paperback – February 1, 1998
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... must reading for serious students... I enthusiastically recommend this enlightening study.... -- Marvin Wilson, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of Biblical Studies, Gordon College
...opens up the history of the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. Every Christian should read this book. -- Brad Young, Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Oral Roberts University
From the Author
[P]revious histories have generally left out the Jewish factor. By beginning their research with the later second- and third-century Church, after it became predominantly a Gentile organization, they have lost the history of the first hundred years and the necessary understanding of Jewish roots. Many difficult Hebraic phrases and theological dilemmas can be understood by investigating the original Jewish roots of the early Church.
Today, scholars agree, on the most basic level, that Jesus was a Jew who was born, lived, and died, within first-century Judaism. His teaching methods, parables, proverbs, and symbolic style was characteristic of the Judaism of that day. Since both the Old and New Testaments are highly Hebraic, with the background, writers, culture, religion, traditions, and concepts being Hebrew, any analysis should be done from this perspective.
This book will propose to show that the earliest Church and its first fifteen elders were Jewish and that the original organizational structure of the early Church came from the synagogical prototype. This investigation will examine major Jewish terms such as Torah, or Law, which, when communicated in the Greek mind-set, have been completely misunderstood. This study will show that the Pharisees of the first century were the orthodox fundamentalists who had within their camp both hypocrites and heroes. Finally, our study will suggest that the early Church was one of the many sects within first-century Judaism, which neither Jesus nor Paul ever tried to leave. Because the early Church remained within Judaism for the first hundred years, the proto-rabbi and the Hebrew culture are essential to understanding its organizational structure.
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Top Customer Reviews
Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church by Dr. Ron Moseley was recommended to me. It is an in depth writing regarding who Yeshua was/is and the relationship we are to have with Him. Yeshua is everywhere in the Old Testament as well as in the New. This book also allows great insight that will enhance your understanding of how the church lost most of the teachings that Yeshua wanted us to retain from the Old Testament. If you really believe that Yeshua is the same yesterday, today and forever, this book is for you.
I quickly realized that the book was for Messianic Jews and for college students who were most likely enrolled in one of the classes in his institute (American Institute of Middle Eastern Studies) in Little Rock, Arkansas. [..] His emphasis on the Jewish aspect of the historical Jesus, and the extensive apologetic defense of the Pharisees and their rabbinical tradition, sets the tone and scope for the book. His layout of the book as a course for Bible college students is evident from the study questions (with blanks to be filled in) that he supplies at the end of each chapter. Thus, he accomplishes his task of providing a primer on the Jewish aspect of what came to be known as Christianity (or the Christian church), and he simultaneously provides a textbook for religious schools and colleges. That is the positive aspect of his erudite book with lots of biblical references and quotes from other biblical scholars.
The negative aspect, in my humble opinion, is that he limits Yeshua (he uses the Hebrew name only in his title, choosing to use the Greek form Jesus throughout the book) to his Jewish roots, emphasizing only his affinity for the Pharisees - even though most of us Bible students grew up seeing the hypocritical Pharisees of Yeshua's day and age as contrary to the teachings of Christ (the Messiah). Ron Moseley even devotes four chapters to an in-depth analysis of the Pharisees prominent position in Jewish Second Temple history (chapter 6-9) and their influence on the early (Messianic) church. "Was Jesus a Pharisee?" becomes a central issue in his study. However, he does not provide a definitive answer, except to say that "the teachings of Jesus had more in common with the teachings of the Pharisees, especially the school of Hillel, than with any other group of his time." (p. 107)
And that is where my enjoyment of the book came to a disappointing end. I expected the knowledgeable scholar of Yeshua to expound on the Essene roots of Yeshua's mission on earth - to preach "the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." (Matt. 10:7) After all, many biblical scholars are aware of the Essenes, especially through the glorious treatment of Josephus (Jewish Wars, Book II, chapter 8, sections 2-13), where Josephus devotes twelve sections to a thorough description of the community of Essenes, and only one section to the Pharisees. Many scholars are also aware that the ascetic John the Baptist most likely came from the community of Essenes, who held everything in common just like the Early Church (Acts 4:31-35). Ron Moseley does not mention that. He only curtly mentions the common beliefs and practices of the Essenes and Pharisees (p. 87-88). That is the shortcoming of his book on Yeshua.
To be honest - Dr. Ron Moseley is a very erudite scholar and his defense of the Pharisees was very convincing. Also convincing was Dr. Moseley's treatment of the Mosaic Law and the commandments of God that were given to the children of Israel and carried on through Jewish tradition by the Pharisees to the present day (modern rabbinic Judaism, as Dr. Moseley calls it). However, when he tries to glorify the concept of the Law over and above the concept of Grace ("there can be no grace without Law," p. 63), the argument in support of Judaic Law using Christian terminology (primarily from the Book of Romans) becomes very confusing. It becomes hard to differentiate between specific Jewish (Mosaic) Law (and commandments) and the general concept of the "law of sin" (sinful nature of man) in contrast to the "law of Christ" (spiritual nature). It would have been simpler to say that there were ancient (primitive) laws given to Mesopotamia (Hammurabi Laws) that were handed down to Moses - and these laws included stoning to death for sexual, and other, infractions. We don't stone people for adultery anymore! Jesus (Yeshua) said, "He that is without sin let him cast the first stone." (John 8:7) Contrast that with the Law: Deut. 17:1-7. I would say Yeshua showed the preeminence of Grace (mercy) over Law.
I know Dr. Moseley has a different interpretation of Luke 16:16 - "The law and the prophets were until John (the Baptist), but since that time the kingdom of heaven is preached." (p. 41) I would advise Dr. Moseley to follow the thread of "the kingdom of heaven" and discover that the Pharisees had a physical kingdom in mind instead of the spiritual kingdom that Yeshua tried to bring to the hearts and minds of his listeners (and followers). For example: the Pharisees asked Yeshua, "When will the kingdom of God come?" and Yeshua replied, "the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21) On another occasion Yeshua told the Pharisees - "For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither allow ye them that are entering to go in." (Matt. 23:13) The Gospel of Yeshua - after all - was the same gospel that John the Baptist (the Essene) preached: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (here in your midst)." (Matt. 10:7, Mark 1:14-15)
In conclusion, I would like to share a positive experience that I had at the Jordan River when Dr. Ron Moseley administered the "Hebrew baptism" for me, teaching me that the baptism of Yeshua was a form of the Jewish ritual of purification, performed by self-immersion as stated in Matthew 3:16 - "Yeshua... went straightway (up) out of the water." [youtu.be/ZcoItj7OnZc]
I believe I can learn many more things at the feet of this learned man. Someday, I would like to have him expound to me what he meant when he said, "the Eternal Messiah." (p. 56) What is that all about?
The tests at the end of the chapters are good prompts to see how much one has learned; unfortunately, the reader is better off not bothering with this book.