Koshering Jesus More: An Evangelical Review of Shmuley Boteach's 'Kosher Jesus'

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By Dr. Paul de Vries , CP Guest Columnist
March 23, 2012|5:20 pm

The Torah, in the first five Hebrew books, agrees — because it was there first. Abram repeatedly encountered God in human form, as in Genesis 12, 15, 17 and 18 — and he responded by treating this human as God himself. God has enough of human presence that he hand-writes the Decalogue on stones, twice, and double-sided! In addition, the special "angel" bearing the Lord's Name within, speaking with God's authority, guided Moses (Exodus 23). If a divine-human were so offensive, why not scissor out these numerous passages, too?

More positively, with these and other precedents in the Hebrew Scripture that Jews and Christians share, why not see Jesus as part of—the epitome of — this splendid, documented role of a divine-human? Forget divisive doctrines; ignore confounding creeds. What about this life, this example, this Jesus, so immersed in the world of his Hebrew Scriptures and culture? The "divine-human" may have been a pagan Greek idea (earliest 1000 BCE) — but before the Greek myths it was Moses' (1300 BCE) idea, and earlier Abraham's (2000 BCE) idea and God's idea (before time).

Even more elemental, the divine-human should be no real surprise, since all humans are the Image of God already from the beginning (Genesis 1). The very definition of human is to be shaped matter with God's Spirit breathed inside (Genesis 2). If the divine-human gap seems unbridgeable, is that more because of the influence of modernity and Darwinism focusing us on the origins of our matter — rather than on what matters even more? Do we all too easily ignore the Spirit's presence within? Perhaps the exemplar, the real divine-human Jesus, can spark a timely revaluation of ourselves. Are we more than fleshly matter? Can the real kosher Jesus help us matter more?

Today, I am grateful that Jesus is back in the discussion; that Jews and Christians are talking again about this singular, towering figure; that one extraordinary life can motivate Jews, Christians and others to stand up for non-violence, defend religious liberty and other basic divinely-given rights, and pursue the best that we are made to be; and that the exemplary Jesus can be kosher, again.

Thank you, Rabbi Boteach, for introducing the vibrant, kosher Jesus once more — and thank you, Howard Teich, for drawing me into this renewed conversation about Jesus. Perhaps he is the bridge for revitalizing and strengthening the much needed Judeo-Christian culture, community, collaborations and commitments.

Paul de Vries, Ph.D., is President of the New York Divinity School, a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals and a published evangelical leader in business ethics and creation care. He can be emailed at phdevries@nydivinityschool.org.
 

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