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Theological objections, treated at length in the current volume, cut to the heart of the differences between traditional Judaism and the Messianic Jewish/Christian faith. They revolved around the nature of God (the Trinity, the deity of Jesus, the person of the Holy Spirit), the nature of man and the need for salvation, and sin and the means of atonement. In sum, these objections claim, “The religion of the New Testament is a completely foreign religion that is not only un-Jewish but is also unfaithful to the Hebrew Bible.”
With regard to cutting “to the heart of the differences between traditional Judaism and Messianic Jewish/Christian faith,” I really appreciate the way Michael Brown demonstrated in a scholarly and balanced way that the Christian faith was perfectly compatible with the Jewish Tanakh.
His discussion on the Trinity (the Tri-unity) was excellent. He demonstrated that the Hebrew word for one, ‘echad, does not necessarily refer to absolute unity and, in fact, could very well refer to compound unity (Page 4). He provides examples from the Hebrew Bible where ‘echad is used of a compound or complex unity as per the oneness of Adam and Eve, the many components of the tabernacle being one “unified” tabernacle, and the one nation of Israel which is made up of hundreds of thousands of people (5). I loved the way he backed up his discussion of the Shema as referring the concept of uniqueness (Deut. 6:4) by citing the New Jewish Publication Society Version: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone” (page 6)
Brown demonstrated the deity of Christ by focusing on Him as the Son of God and Word of God, who shares in the divine nature, and who revealed Himself to His people in the Old Testament (15-37). I enjoyed Brown’s treatment of the apparent conflict between the passages which declare that no one has seen God with the other passages which clearly state that God was seen by Abraham, Moses, and Jacob (27-34). As he put it, “it is Jesus the Messiah—the divine Son, the image of the invisible God, the Word made flesh, the exact representation of the Father’s being—who solves the riddle and explains how someone could really see God, even though God cannot be seen.
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Brown did a superb job in dealing with the denial of modern Judaism with regard to “original sin” and the need for a “middleman.” I liked the way Brown demonstrated the need for a middleman from the priesthood in the Tanakh. Brown’s illustrated man’s sinfulness by pointing to biblical history as well as to the atheism, materialism, drug use, pornography, and even prostitution that are rampant in the Holy Land (204).
Brown spends a considerable amount of time on the issue of blood atonement—and with good reason since this is a crucial issue since modern Judaism has no temple or sacrificial system. Brown handles the various Jewish prooftexts that are used for the assertion that there is no need for blood atonement (e.g. Prov. 21:3; Hos. 6:6; Amos 5:21) by examining the context of these passages which depreciate sacrifices. He brings out the context and demonstrates that the contention that God does not require blood sacrifice because a passage says God hates sacrifices one would have to also believe that God hate prayer since that is also mentioned as things God detested (cf. Isa. 1:11-15). I really enjoyed the way Brown substantiated his view of these passages with citation an article in Encyclopedia Judaica written by Anson R. Rainey, a foremost biblical and Semitic scholar (84). His discussion on the blood substitutionary atonement as it relates to the Suffering Messiah of Isaiah 53 and Jewish literature was very enlightening (220-231). Brown’s evidence from various Jewish sources demonstrate that there was indeed an ancient Jewish belief in a coming suffering Messiah.
Throughout this book Brown demonstrates that the religion of the New Testament is not an un-Jewish foreign religion. He shows that the doctrines of the New Testament are not only compatible with and in fact fulfill Old Testament theology. The deeper one looks the more connectedness one sees between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
I thoroughly enjoyed Brown’s book on Jewish apologetics. He provides a valuable resources for the church in an area that many Christians need help. He is straightforward in style and tone, avoids straw man arguments, interacts with the reader in the second person, and provides a wealth of information from the Old Testament and other Jewish sources that demonstrate that the roots of Christianity are in the Old Testament. I would heartily recommend this book. The only thing that I disagree with would be his view that we are in a transitional age (instead of the church age of parenthesis) of the Lord building a worldwide spiritual Temple (179). However, this would not keep me from highly recommending the book to anyone. The book is enjoyable, enlightening, and a must read for anyone trying to reach a Jew.