Claim #2: The Jewish Bible is full of prophetic references to Jesus
"Hebrew Christians" believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and they attempt to prove this by quoting various passages from the Jewish Bible. Such quotations may sound impressive, overwhelming and confusing to anyone with only a passing knowledge of Judaism and with no command of the Hebrew language.
The Jewish Response
1) The only reason these passages, or so-called "proof texts," appear to be alluding to Jesus is because they have been misquoted, mistranslated, or taken out of context. Any written work, if mistranslated or taken out of context, can be made to suggest meanings which were never intended, as the following examples will clearly demonstrate.
The New Testament is no exception. For example, in the New Testament, (Luke 14:26) Jesus is quoted as saying:
"If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."
An initial reading of this verse gives the impression that one must hate one's family, and even oneself, as a prerequisite to being a Christian. However, any Christian confronted with a literal reading of this passage will react defensively and insist that the verse doesn't mean that at all. It only appears that way, he or she will explain, because it is being read out of context and without a proper translation.
This is precisely the point we would like to make. What a verse says and what it means may be completely different. Before one can understand any verse properly, whether from the Jewish Scriptures or from the New Testament, it must be read in context and with an accurate translation.
Similarly, when a missionary quotes a verse from Jewish Scriptures, one should ascertain that the verse is being rendered correctly. For example, Psalm 22:17 from the Hebrew Bible, when correctly translated, reads "They surrounded my hands and feet like a lion4," referring to King David being pursued by his enemies, who are often referred to as a lion (as in Psalms 7 and 17). Yet, when read out of context and mistranslated as "They pierced my hands and feet," as appears in Christian versions, the passage intentionally conjures up thoughts of Jesus.
This example demonstrates only one of the many verses that the missionaries twist and mistranslate to suit their purposes. Judaism has a response and an explanation for each such instance. The rule of thumb is to always ask: "Are these verses being read in context and with an accurate translation?" Sadly, most "Hebrew Christians" blindly accept the Christian interpretation without ever having heard or fully understood the Jewish view.
After an open-minded re-examination of both sides, thousands of "Hebrew Christians" have returned to Judaism.
2) Missionaries often use the New Testament as proof that events or prophecies in their mistranslated passages have been fulfilled. However, to someone familiar with the Jewish Bible, it is obvious that the touted "inerrancy" (i.e., lack of error) of the New Testament is highly questionable. Consider the following examples:
a) In three different places in the Jewish Bible, (Genesis 46:27, Exodus 1:5 and Deuteronomy 10:22,) it is stated that the patriarch Jacob came to Egypt with a total of 70 persons. Acts 7:14 in the New Testament incorrectly gives this number as 75.
b) Hebrews 8:8-13 of the New Testament, when quoting from Jeremiah, states that G-d replaced His Covenant with the Jews with a "New Covenant," claiming that, because the Jews did not keep the "Old Covenant," G-d "no longer cared for them." However, the original Hebrew text in Jeremiah 31:32 of the Jewish Bible does not say that G-d did not care for them, but rather that He "remained a husband to them." Some Christians interpret their translation to mean that G-d broke His Covenant and rejected the Jewish people. This is completely inconsistent with the biblical stance that the commandments are forever (Psalm 119:151-152) and that G-d promised to never reject or break His Covenant5 with the Jews (Judges 2:1 and Leviticus 26:44-45).
c) Hebrews 10:5 of the New Testament, when quoting Psalm 40, claims that G-d replaced animal sacrifices with the death of the Messiah, by stating that, "sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me." However, the original quote from Psalm 40:6 does not say this; it says, "sacrifices and meal offerings You have not desired; My ears You have opened." This refers to G-d's desire that we listen to Him, as it says, "Behold! -- to obey is better than sacrifice." (I Samuel 15:22)
Fundamentalist Christians readily accept the Jewish Scriptures as the inspired and "inerrant" word of G-d and as the foundation for the New Testament. If they were to be logically consistent, it would follow that, wherever the "Old" and "New" Testaments contradict each other, the New Testament must be admitted to be obviously the one which is in error.