Jesus as God. What do JW believe?
I've been looking into Jehovah's witnesses beliefs and came up with a serious question, as I've found is that Witnesses don't believe that Jesus IS God, same with the Father. But even in the New World Translation, Isaiah 9:6 (one of the ancient prophecies of Jesus Christ) it says "For a child has been born to us,+A son has been given to us;And the rulership* will rest on his shoulder.+His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,+ Mighty God,+ Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
how can the Witnesses reconcile that prophecy and claim that Jesus isn't God?
how can the Witnesses reconcile that prophecy and claim that Jesus isn't God?
WatchTower Tells Them To..
We Jews have had this text in our Scriptures for millennia. Not only do we not accept that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, we have not ever read this to think it foretells the incarnation of God. The text isn't even viewed as messianic.
While I totally reject the teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses, even its anti-Trinitarian stance (though I don't subscribe to the Trinity, of course), these texts never literally say the child is "the Messiah," and the use of the word "God" in a name is very common in Hebrew. "Michael," for instance, is literally "Who is like God?" The Witnesses take advantage of such views to promote their very odd take on Christology.
Jews see these verses as applying to Hezekiah. He is given a name at his birth at Isaiah 9:5 which in Hebrew reads: Pele-joez-el-gibbor-abi-ad-sar-shalom. The "el" part is the word "God." In Hebrew it means: "The Mighty God is planning grace; The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler." It is describing Hezekiah as being the graceful, peaceable ruler planned by the Mighty God, the Eternal Father. Jews don't read it as if it is saying that the child is God.
However, the central view of Christianity is that God came in the Person of Jesus Christ. While not immediate from Scripture, the idea predates the canonization of the Bible (at least the New Testament). The teaching that Jesus is not God come as Epiphany creates a foreign, problematic form of Christianity. Christian tradition is that God became man so man could share in God's divine nature. The Watchtower view is a poor cousin form of Christianity by comparison.
I agree with David-Jay on this one. Either Isaiah was talking about his own son or Hezzekia . Jesus was a new deity to be the god of the Christians . To get the pagan to go along he absorbed the likeness and traits of several of the gods before him. The trinity was introduced later so was other things about Jesus at the bishops had more meetings from 325 on .
I disagree with David Jay [no offense Dave] in so much as I had thought the OT indicates that the Savior would be God in the flesh.
David, Who do you think the savior would be? Would it be God in the flesh or an angel of God or someone else?
Curious on your take on who you expect to be savior
David_Jay, thanks for that well thought out and very respectable response. Off topic here, but what OT prophesies do Jews believe are about the Messiah? Do you know any specific examples off hand?
TTWSYF, are you a Witness? I'd love to bounce more stuff off you if you are
I was not writing about my personal views. I was explaining the general Jewish understanding of the text. The following is also the same, as I am merely offering the nominal Jewish view (not my personal one as a Jew). I will offer my person take at the end, however.
First off, Jews don't believe there is a need for salvation. There is no belief in the Christian theology of Original Sin, therefore there is no theology in Judaism about the coming of a savior of any type.
The Jewish tradition of "the Messiah" developed after the time of the Prophets and before the rabbinic era began*. It was partially set in place due to the hope of restoring the Davidic dynasty after the Babylonian exile ended. When the Hasmoneans (Maccabees) began to rule, this set off the hopes even more, especially since the Hasmonean dynasty evolved into the Herodian rule, and it turned out to be corrupt and oppressive. Messianic hopes were thus shaped on the popular hopes and needs of the people, especially once the Herodians became partnered with Rome.
Thus prior to the Bar Kokhba revolt (which happened about 100 years after Jesus of Nazareth's ministry), the Jews conceived that the Messiah would be a literal person. After the Bar Kokhba revolt ended in 135/36 C.E. and the Romans removed the Jews from Judea, the idea of the Messiah became more abstract. Today some Jews still see the Messiah as an individual who will rule as king. However in today's modern society it is not likely that a monarch will be accepted by all living in Israel, let alone all people in the world. The Messianic concept speaks of the Messiah's rule as having at least some effect on the world scene, if not directly ruling over every nation. The past views of a "monarch" or "high priest" Messiah, therefore, don't seem to be literally possible, effective enough for ruling today's complex society or even desirable now.
Therefore the Messianic concept is viewed by some Jews to have been a personification of a time when humanity will reach peace between nations, when humanity will see past its differences, when the world will be a better place. As a consequence, some Jewish denominations, like those belonging to Reform Judaism, do not accept the idea of the Messiah being viewed as a literal person. It is also unclear to a few if the Messianic Era is something that will precede Olam HaBa (the eschatological "World to Come" of Judaism) or run concurrently with it. Most Jews seem to share the view that it will come before.
As for my personal views? Well, since Jews don't subscribe to "beliefs," I don't have an opinion as to which of these Jewish views are the "correct" one and which are not. Since there has never been nor is there now an expectation of a "savior" in Judaism, I have no view on the matter. It is a non-issue to me since Judaism does not read these texts in Isaiah as promising as "savior."
*--The rabbinic era is believed to be coming to an end today after about 1000 years. There will likely always be a need for rabbis to help serve Jews, but they are less and less being accepted as the final word on Jewish practices and theology. Today, especially with the Internet, most Jews live without a particular rabbi as their consultant and find the answers they search for themselves. Many rabbis serve merely on an ad-hoc basis, such as for weddings and funerals, etc.
This evolution in Judaism is now considered a normal earmark. First, we had the era of the Patriarchs, followed by that of Moses, then of Joshua and the Judges, the Kings, the Prophets, and then the era of the rabbinical teachers. Today Jews often speak of the current era as being "post-denominational, post-rabbinic," with members in the denominations under rabbis steadily decreasing in comparison with the post-denominational Jewish group which is increasing.
There are no direct Scriptural references anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures that mention "the Messiah." No Bible verse, as you know, says "the Messiah will do this" or "the Messiah shall do that."
It is important to realize that there are no universally agreed upon texts in the Hebrew Scriptures that all Jews accept as being Messianic. The only texts that Jews do agree upon that speak of the Messiah are those that literally speak of "the Messiah," such as in the Gemara and Midrash, post-Biblical rabbinic literature. There are no agreements among the sages or rabbis or Jews in general as to what texts of the Hebrew Bible specifically and unequivocally mention the Messiah, if at all.
Of specific interest in this matter is the Roman Catholic Church's take. Being the Church (along with the Orthodox and Eastern churches) from which Christology took shape, it's recent words are apropos here:
Christian faith recognises the fulfilment, in Christ, of the Scriptures and the hopes of Israel, but it does not understand this fulfilment as a literal one. Such a conception would be reductionist...Jesus is not confined to playing an already fixed role — that of Messiah — but he confers, on the notions of Messiah and salvation, a fullness which could not have been imagined in advance...It would be wrong to consider the prophecies of the Old Testament as some kind of photographic anticipations of future events. All the texts, including those which later were read as messianic prophecies, already had an immediate import and meaning for their contemporaries before attaining a fuller meaning for future hearers. The messiahship of Jesus has a meaning that is new and original.
--The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, the Pontifical Biblical Commission, 2002, 5.21.ii, italics added.
With this in mind, it can therefore only be said that Christianity is the religion that claims to see Hebrew Scripture texts as specifically "messianic" in nature, not Judaism. Therefore I don't have much of an answer to give. The Jewish view is not static, and therefore there are no current texts I can point to in the Tanakh that are specific or generally agreed upon. Some view texts that mention a king ruling in the name of David and of peace on earth between animals in the Prophets as messianic, but like the Catholic Church, I have to admit that the rest is really Christianity's doing.