Jesus Christ was no Moses

by smiddy 32 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • David_Jay


    Again as a Jew I really appreciate where you are coming from. But arguments to support Moses might need to be approached differently to be effective and, most importantly honest.

    For instance, as a Jewish man I can clearly attest that we are not all convinced that Moses literally wrote the words one reads in the Torah. The only thing we know about Torah authorship is that Moses is responsible for what is written therein or played a major part in our receiving Torah. Maybe he did write every single word you read there, but there is a lot of evidence to argue against it. Regardless of what Moses literally wrote with his hand or not, you won't find many Jews describing the type of inspiration process as you will find supported by Fundamentalist Christianity.

    So the argument that 'Moses wrote things but Jesus didn't', except for sounding good at first blush, is not efficacious. Neither is the 'number of Jews' argument much good as there is nothing in Torah which states that the more Jews that follow a prophet the more truthful he is. Often we Jews ignored our prophets, even persecuting the ones that told us truths we didn't want to hear.

    However this does not mean you are on the wrong track. The basic premise is good, especially if you are a Jew trying to defend your stand as to why you don't personally accept that Jesus is the promised Prophet like Moses.

    To do that effectively and honestly you need to concentrate not on arguments that those exposed to Christianity use, but find the views that shape Jewish thought on the matter. My reason for offering counter arguments as a Jew on your points is to illustrate the it is not effective to approach this argument without learning the Jewish stance.

    There are significant reasons Jesus is not accepted by Jews as the so-called "Greater Moses." Some are:

    1. Jews don't see a promise in Scripture for a "Great Moses." The "prophet" following him is viewed as Joshua and all prophets to Israel that followed.

    2. The Messiah concept is not centrally important to Judaism and as such not definitively formed enough to make such a comparison as you present important. In Judaism it is good to debate, but a diatribe for diatribe sake can be a waste of effort better spent living out Torah than arguing it.

    3. The Messiah is not supposed to be greater than or a replacement for Moses in Jewish thought, so making a comparison like this doesn't prove or disprove anything from a Jewish view. The issue itself is superfluous in Judaism, so when you have to discuss it you need to show that the final conclusion either way effects very little in Jewish thought.

    4. Claiming Moses was greater by what he supposedly wrote, how many Jews he influenced, how long his teachings have been around, etc., is the wrong approach. Moses is great because he received the Torah. Thus the Torah makes him great, not the other way around.

    5. Jesus brought Torah to the Gentiles, or so his ministry is seen by many Jews. As such many Jews today, as the Rabbinical Statement on Christianity explains, view what Jesus did as part of God's plan to reach the world. Jews don't see Jesus or his ministry as an accident. Making such a comparison as you are doing therefore would be like comparing Moses to Isaiah, thus making Isaiah look as if he was unnecessary compared to Moses. This is not a right way to look at things in Judaism. One looks at what one accomplishes in line with their particular purpose from Heaven, and as such Jesus' role shouldn't be diminished just because Jesus was not Moses.

  • David_Jay

    I just want to reiterate that Smiddy has raised a good issue. I don't want what I am saying to be seen as necessarily disagreeing with Smiddy's basic argument. My additional points are merely food for thought as sometimes we can lose the effectiveness of an argument but not trying to get holes poked in it. An argument is only good after its been in a wind tunnel and withstood testing. Sometimes seeing what gets blown over during the test can only help improve the final product.

  • nonjwspouse

    David, your postings have given me new food for thought. Thank you.

  • smiddy

    Thank you David_Jay for putting the Jewish prespective on my post .I was going by memory that the Society said something to that effect that Jesus was a greater Moses but I cant be 100% sure ,

    Maybe it had something to do with one of these scriptures .Acts Ch.3 ,Acts CH.7 or Heb,Ch.3

  • fulltimestudent

    Smiddy: "Thank you David_Jay for putting the Jewish prespective on my post .I was going by memory that the Society said something to that effect that Jesus was a greater Moses but I cant be 100% sure ,"

    Hebrew 3:3 certainly featured in the JW storytelling. And, from time to time, the term 'the greater Moses,' was used to describe Jesus.

    Hebrews (another anonymous document) also introduced the concepts of 'shadow' (and reality), and 'type' (and antitype) which were once so popular among the JWs (see: You May Survive Armageddon into God's New World).

    Of course, the author of Hebrews was, most likely, borrowing an idea from Greek philosophy, that of Plato's "theory of Forms or theory of Ideas (which) argues that non-physical (but substantial) forms (or ideas) represent the most accurate depiction of reality."

    As to Moses, I think its fair to say that its difficult to make known history fit the Biblical narrative. Of course, for an Egyptian Prince to turn against his own elite is not an abnormal situation. (Lots of historical dynasties have been overturned by dissident royalty) So the Moses of Acts 7 could be real from the viewpoint of vs 22:

    "Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action."

    The other details merely reflecting the mythical aspects of the Moses story, that enable Stephen (or the author of Acts) to tell a good story.

    If as many scholars suggest, much of the OT was put together by the exiled elite in the Babylonian captivity we might find (in the storyies) all kinds of details that reflect notions copied from other religious backgrounds.

    For example, think of these claims:

    "Despite the imposing fame associated with Moses, no source mentions him until he emerges in texts associated with the Babylonian exile. A theory developed by Cornelius Tiele in 1872, which had proved influential, and still held in regard by modern scholars, argued that Yahweh was a Midianite god, introduced to the Israelites by Moses, whose father-in-law Jethro was a Midianite priest. It was to such a Moses that Yahweh reveals his real name, hidden from the Patriarchs who knew him only as El Shaddai.

    Against this view is the modern consensus that most of the Israelites were native to Palestine. Martin Noth argued that the Pentateuch uses the figure of Moses, originally linked to legends of a Transjordan conquest, as a narrative bracket or late reductional device to weld together 4 of the 5, originally independent, themes of that work. Manfred Görg, and Rolf Krauss the latter in a somewhat sensationalist manner, have suggested that the Moses story is a distortion or transmogrification of the historical pharaoh Amenmose (ca. 1200 BCE), who was dismissed from office and whose name was later simplified to msy (Mose). Aidan Dodson regards this hypothesis as "intriguing, but beyond proof."

    (Wikipedia entry on Moses: )

    And somehow we have to fit into this story, the very real fact that Palestine was for centuries part of the Egyptian Empire.

  • Stevie Wonder Boy
    Stevie Wonder Boy

    Here's my take on this.

    Moses was a man of his time and he wrote accordingly.

    Jesus was way ahead of his time and he taught accordingly.

    Paul did a Pharisaical retrofit on Christ's teachings inserting shunning, harsh judicial treatment, divisions among brothers etc. Many of the organization's harsh teachings are co-opted from Paul.

    Yes, Jesus was no Moses.

    He was in fact Greater than Moses, Paul, and all who followed.

  • David_Jay

    Stevie Wonder Boy,

    That might be taking it a bit too far, at least from a critical analysis of the situation. Most Jews would argue the point, and outside of it being your personal view on the matter (one that must be respected), it can't be said that one man's religious view of Jesus can be the final word.

    Besides, speaking of the Mosaic Law, Jesus himself taught: "Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven."--Matthew 5:19.

    Jesus here teaches that the true measurement of "greatest" is obedience to the teachings of Moses. It is not Moses that is great, but the faithful adherence to the Law of God that makes a man great. One who is concerned about whether Jesus is greater than Moses or vice versa would do well to put themselves to the test as Jesus taught. How well does our life align with the teachings of God?

    Jesus is obviously not talking about what religious doctrines you believe in because later he mentions that a Samaritan, a member of a false religion, is an example for all to follow. (Luke 10:29-37) Jesus teaches many who believe he is the Messiah will be rejected in the end. (Matthew 7:21-23) Jesus teaches that people who don't even know they are serving Christ will gain eternal life while those who didn't believe they ever came across an opportunity to personally serve him will be forever damned. (Matthew 25:31-46) So being concerned whether Jesus is greater than Moses or vice versa won't help in the end. Only upon understanding that people like the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, the imprisoned and otherwise disenfranchised of the world are as great as Jesus (and deserve to be treated as such) does anyone have any hope according to the Gospel.

  • Stevie Wonder Boy
    Stevie Wonder Boy

    "Besides, speaking of the Mosaic Law, Jesus himself taught: "Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven."--Matthew 5:19.

    Did Jesus condone stoning an adulterer? Using divorce as an escape clause for trivial offenses during a time when women were totally dependent on their husbands for financial support? Did Jesus condemn Abraham for marrying his half-sister as the Law of Moses indirectly did?

    Did Jesus condemn gathering wood on the Sabbath?

    What "law" did the young ruler say he obeyed? Was it not the Ten Commandments the only Law written by God's finger.

    The "Law of Moses" is the law of Moses not the Law of God written on stone.

  • David_Jay

    Stevie Wonder Boy,

    Jesus taught that Moses' own writings were the Word of God, stating that Moses "wrote" about him. Jesus adversely judged those who did not follow what Moses "wrote." (John 5:46-47) Jesus also taught in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus that Moses should be obeyed. (Luke 16:29, 31) I am a Jew, and as I point out here from the Christian Scriptures, I know that Jesus taught his followers to listen to Moses and follow what Moses wrote.

  • Stevie Wonder Boy
    Stevie Wonder Boy


    I'm not here to argue but do you believe Jesus would have agreed with, and taught, that gathering wood on the Sabbath was a capital offense?

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