Back at the end of February, I received my copy of “The Complete Jewish Bible”. I am truly enjoying this translation of God’s Word. There are many nuances covered in the Introduction of the book, but one of the things that has truly moved me is David Stern’s writing about the Bible [Section III – Introduction]. In the section titled “The Messianic Community” [Introduction xix], he states:
The B’rit Hadashah [New Covenant] also describes formative events among the early Jewish and Gentile followers of Yeshua [Jesus] and explains how this new Messianic Community or “Church” is related to the Jewish people. Unlike much Christian theology, the B’rit Hadashah does not say that the Messianic Community replaces the Jews as God’s people. Nor does it say that the Messianic Community stands alongside the Jews as a second eternal people of God with a separate destiny and separate promises. Rather, the relationship is more complex: Gentiles are grafted as “wild olive branches” into a Jewish “cultivated olive tree” some of whose branches “fell off” but will one day be “grafted back into their own olive tree”, so that in the end, “all Israel will be saved.” [Rom 11:16-26] Thus the Jews are not, as many Christians think, and as many Jews fear, annihilated as a people by being “absorbed into the Church.” On the contrary, as Yirmeyahu [Jeremiah] states — in the same passage as where he announces that God will make a New Covenant with the house of Isra’el and the house of Y’hudah [Judah] — the Jews remain God’s people forever, for as long as the sun, moon and stars give light to the earth. [Jer 31:31-37] But the Jews will become a people who honor the Messiah for whom they have hoped and waited so long: Yeshua. It is on this basis that unity will be restored between the Messianic Community and the Jewish people and the great schism finally healed.
He states elsewhere in the Introduction [xxxv – xxxvi ]:
The New Testament [Covenant] is a Jewish book. …For the Central figure of the new Testament, Yeshua the Messiah, was a Jew who was born into a Jewish family in Beit-Lechem, grew up among Jews in Natzeret, ministered to Jews in the Galil, and died and rose from the grave in the Jewish capital, Yerusalayim — all in Eretz-Yisra’el, the land God gave the Jewish people. …The New Testament was written entirely by Jews [Luke being, in all likelihood, a proselyte to Judaism]; and its message is directed “to the Jew especially, but equally to the Gentile.” [Rom. 1:16] …Indeed the main issue in the early Messianic Community — that is the “Church” – was not whether a Jew could believe in Yeshua, but whether a Gentile could become a Christian without converting to Judaism! [Act 15:1-29, Galatians in its entirety] …The Messiah’s vicarious atonement is rooted in the Jewish sacrificial system. [see especially Lev 17:11] …The Lord’s Supper is rooted in the Passover. Immersion is a Jewish practice. …The very concept of a Messiah is exclusively Jewish, and that Jewish Messiah taught that “salvation is from the Jews.: [John 4:22]
Mr. Stern’s point is that the Messianic Jew and the Gentile are at the same place — that Christianity is not an alien religion that must be “converted” to. His hope is to heal the split between those who see Christianity as a means to the end of Jewishness [non-Messianic Jews] and those who do not recognize that they have joined Israel, not replaced it, as God’s people.
I wish I could reproduce the entire Introduction for you to read! It is so interesting. I am currently CRAMming the book of Romans using this translation. I hope to be able to share through my postings as I learn.