Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Early Rabbinic Belief That G-d Has a Body: A Look at Genesis Rabbah

The more I learn about early Rabbinic Judaism, the more I'm coming to realize, despite protestations from modern Orthodox Judaism, that it is very Jewish to believe that G-d has a body.  To that end, here is a midrash I was reviewing this morning in which the angels mistook Adam for G-d since Adam was made in the image of G-d:

"...
A.  Said R. Hoshaiah, 'When the Holy One, blessed be he, came to create the first man, the ministering angels mistook him [for God, since man was in God's image,] and wanted to say before him, 'Holy, [holy, holy is the Lord of hosts].'
B.  'To what may the matter be compared?  To the case of a king and a governor who were set in a chariot, and the provincials wanted to greet the king, 'Sovereign!' But they did not know which one of them was which.  What did the king do?  He turned the governor out and put him away from the chariot, so that people would know who was king.
C.  'So too when the Holy One, blessed be he, created the first man, the angels mistook him [for God].  What did the Holy One, blessed be he, do?  He put him to sleep, so everyone knew that he was a mere man.
D.  'That is in line with the following verse of Scripture:  'Cease you from man, in whose nostrils is a breath, for how little is he to be accounted' (Is.2:22).' (Gen. R. VIII:X)," as quoted in "The Incarnation of God" by Jacob Neusner

20 comments:

  1. It's midrash... not reality. Is this so hard for Christians to grasp?


    But I wanted to touch upon Jacob Neusner, your favorite "scholar" to whom you frequently go for supposed support of Christian dogmas within Judaism, including "incarnation":

    "...one begins to doubt the credibility of the translator [Neusner]. And indeed after a superficial perusal of the translation [of Talmud], the reader is stunned by [Neusner's] ignorance of Rabbinic Hebrew, of Aramaic grammar, and above all of the subject matter with which he deals.....I conclude with a clear conscience: The right place for [Neusner's] English translation is the waste basket." (Saul Lieberman, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1984)

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    1. Gene,

      RE: "It's midrash... not reality"

      So you're denying that exegetical midrashim have any authority to explain the reality of Scripture--in effect, you are denying Rabbinic authority.

      As to your assertion that Neusner's translation of Genesis Rabbah is flawed, please show us the flaws.

      Oh, and, if you cannot prove that the above-cited midrash is flawed then you should have the decency to admit that (1) the translation above is correct and (2) that it demonstrates an EARLY Rabbinic belief that G-d has a body.

      Looking forward to your response.

      Shalom,

      Peter

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  2. "So you're denying that exegetical midrashim have any authority to explain the reality of Scripture--in effect, you are denying Rabbinic authority. "

    No, I deny your right to the gross misuse of the rabbinic literature, that is your attempts to make it claim things that Judaism abhors - the G-d is corporeal or that He can even take on a human body.

    "As to your assertion that Neusner's translation of Genesis Rabbah is flawed, please show us the flaws. "

    My quote about Neusner is to show that his prolific sensationalists materials (of which "The Incarnation of God" is one) are to be viewed through the lens of how people superior to him in knowledge (e.g. Professor Saul Lieberman) viewed both them, Neusner and his "expertise" on the subject of rabbinic Judaism: "ignorance of Rabbinic Hebrew, of Aramaic grammar, and above all of the subject matter with which he deals".

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    1. Gene,

      You failed to show us ANY flaws in the above translation (because the translation is fine).

      You failed to show us that the above midrash is not exegetical in nature (because it's clearly exegetical).

      You failed, therefore, to show us that the above midrash is not reflective of reality.

      You failed to show us how the above midrash can be taken in some way OTHER than as a teaching that G-d has a body (because it clearly teaches that G-d has a body).

      That said, I've enjoyed the discussion.

      Shalom,

      Peter





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    2. Hi Peter, let's say that you are right. G-d has a body. Then what makes you go any farther than than. It does not say that it was Jesus. It could be actually anybody on earth (past or future). What is the purpose of you showing that G-d has a body in that midrash? Is it to show that it's fine to worship Jesus. Then you forget Deuteronomy 4. If it is to show that Judaism also portray G-d with a body, then what's the point. You do not believe in "rabbinical" Judaism.

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    3. Remi,

      The Prophets talk about a suffering, Divine Messiah. Yeshua fits the profile. And for many other reasons.

      And Deuteronomy 4...there's nothing in there that says G-d is incapable of assuming corporeal form.

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    4. Yes, you are right about Deut 4. It does not say he is incapable. It says that you have not seen. Thus even if He could have a corporal form, we should not worship that form or that entity.

      For Isaiah 53:
      he shall be exalted and lifted up, and he shall be very high. Has not happened yet (second coming prophecy)

      So shall he cast down many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him. Does not fit Jesus (second coming prophecy?)

      Now shall we desire him? Despised and rejected by men People wanted to crown Jesus,... That does not fit him.

      a man of pains and accustomed to illness. Jesus?

      despised and we held him of no account. Again crowds went around Jesus.

      And he gave his grave to the wicked (Jesus grave was with the rich)

      and to the wealthy with his kinds of death (Jesus cross was with two thieves..

      he shall see children... This is Literal children

      he shall prolong his days, and God's purpose shall prosper in his hand. That does not talk about Jesus in heaven!

      Therefore, I will allot him a portion in public. Second coming again?

      and with the strong he shall share plunder (Plunders is usually from war. Jesus did not share plunder!)

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    5. Here's what I think about Christian/Messianic quoting Jewish texts...

      https://therealmessianic.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/pagan4jesus/

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  3. Are you serious Peter?

    1) G-d has a body
    2) Antiochus Epiphanes said he was god
    3) It's ok to worship Antiochus Epiphanes

    Make sense!

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    1. Remi,

      If you think that I said something that was not logical, then cite to what I wrote; don't cite to an example of twisted logic that you wrote yourself.

      Shalom,

      Peter

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    2. No, my point was as follow. You point that G-d in that Midrash has a body. It proves nothing about Christianity. Anybody that claimed to be god could actually use that passage and say they are the god of the bible. So what did you want to prove in the end?

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  4. Peter said: "The Prophets talk about a suffering, Divine Messiah."

    Gotta stop you there, Peter. Nowhere does Tanakh speak of a divine messiah. Show me a verse or verses and I'll gladly easily disprove them.

    A suffering Messiah? Absolutely. However, if you're quoting Isaiah 52-53 about the Messiah suffering, here is a some quote from the latest post on my blog which is the text of my long email correspondence which a believer in Yeshu:

    "Isaiah 52-53, "My servant" refers to Israel. It says so in Isaiah 41:8. You should read these verses in context."

    Now that being said, this could refer to Messiah's suffering and not just Israel's, but that means Messiah's suffering is Israel's suffering at the hands of the nations while in exile. You claim Israel's suffering is for rejecting the Messiah, but that's because your theology is anti-Semitic. Yeshu has been one of the most used names in the persecution of Jews - thus this is the opposite of what the real Messiah will achieve.

    How about another quote?

    "Zechariah 13:6 who has wounds "between his hands", meaning on his back (see Rashi) is a FALSE PROPHET, who was disciplined for being such. I don't know where you get these silly interpretations of these verses you quote - but it is sure getting old fast."

    And one more, about Zechariah 12:10:

    "You should read the Aramaic Targum (Yonatan) to Zechariah 12:10."And they shall supplicate Me because of their wanderings. And they shall look to Me to complain about those of them whom the nations thrust through and slew during their exile." In other words, they will look to HaShem about being killed, persecuted, and exiled by the nations, especially by the Romans and Christians who used Yeshu to disqualify the Jewish people and remove their importance, they identity, their supreme role in the world, and reduce them to dust. Again, Yeshu is the exact opposite of what we would hope for as the Messiah - plainly and clearly.

    On the last part about "mourning over an only son", the Sages comment that one of the Messiahs will be slain and the people of Israel will mourn over him as if he were their only son. Not "God's only son", see the difference?
    Why wasn't this Yeshu? Because he didn't fulfill the role of the Messiah, and we don't consider him as valuable to us as an only son - instead, we consider him as an enemy, evil, wicked, exactly as he was."

    You guys just love to twist verses and read whatever you want into them, without studying them in any sort of depth. Sometimes not even by reading the plain text, which is the case in the Isaiah 7 'Immanuel' claims (since Isaiah says in the next chapter Immanuel was his literal son, and chapter 7 & 8 tell us why this child was born to Isaiah and his wife, the almah).

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    1. Aaron,

      Check out my newest post:

      http://orthodoxmessianic.blogspot.com/2016/02/should-jewish-people-have-expected.html

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  5. "You guys just love to twist verses and read whatever you want into them, without studying them in any sort of depth."

    And they laugh at the true meaning of the verse, that's irony!

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  6. "The more I learn about early Rabbinic Judaism, the more I'm coming to realize, despite protestations from modern Orthodox Judaism, that it is very Jewish to believe that G-d has a body."

    Amusingly, that's exactly what Mormonism believes! They believe that the Christian "god the father" and "god the son" both have their own physical bodies!

    At least the mainstream Christianity acknowledges the Jewish belief about the G-d of Israel by saying that "god the father" is a spirit (John 4:24) and that the Christian god didn't have any body, at least not until the "second person of the Trinity" incarnated himself into a baby born to a Jewish woman.

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  7. But wait Gene, what about the pre-incarnate post-incarnate glorified Pre-christ,... or THE Angel of the lord?

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    1. Remi, stop making so much sense on this site. Christianity is absurdity defined, a house of cards built on sand. One can poke truck-sized holes in it all day long.

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  8. No Gene, Jesus was the third pre-incarnation of the same person. First Genesis 18 proves it. Second, Samson's mother, then Jesus!

    You cannot disprove it... so I am right! And by the way, if Isaiah's wife was a virgin, why can't Jesus appeared many times as (THE) omitted in Hebrew Angel of the lord.

    And if not, Jesus in his glorified body could have come back in time. That makes also a lot of sense and YOU cannot disprove that either! There is nothing to hard for the lord κύριος.

    And Jesus could come back there is an increase of virgins wondering if they could be pregnant!

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  9. And also Gene, you really get me! Look at that prophecy "For a child has been born to us, a son given to us, and the authority is upon his shoulder, and he was called wondrous adviser, the mighty God, the everlasting Father"

    See, all in the past! Haha! that proves my point. It proves that Jesus was incarnated in the time of the prophecy! Thus it was Jesus (The) Angel of the lord!

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