Some Jewish people have started to reassess their attitudes toward the most famous Jew of all time Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. The following quotations are taken from Jewish leaders and scholars whose thoughts reflect some of these changing attitudes.
“As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.” (1)
Albert Einstein, Nobel prize winner in physics; former professor, Princeton University
“Jesus is a genuine Jewish personality, all his struggles and works, his bearing and feeling, his speech and silence, bear the stamp of a Jewish style, the mark of Jewish idealism, of the best that was and is in Judaism. He was a Jew among Jews ….” (2)
Rabbi Leo Baeck, for many years the religious leader of German Jewry
“I couldn’t help writing on Jesus. Since I first met Him, He has held my mind and heart…. I floundered a bit, at first; I was seeking that something for which so many of us search – that surety, that faith, that spiritual content in my living which would bring me peace and through which I might help bring some peace to others. I found it in the Nazarene…. Everything He ever said or did has value for us today, and that is something you can say of no other man, alive or dead… He became the Light of the world. Why shouldn’t I, a Jew, be proud of it?” (3)
Sholem Asch, Yiddish novelist and author
“It is a peculiar manifestation of our exile-psychology that we permitted, and even aided in, the deletion of New Testament Messianism, that meaningful offshoot of our spiritual history. It was in a Jewish land, that this spiritual revolution was kindled; and Jews were those who had spread it all over the land…. We must overcome the superstitious fear which we harbor about the Messianic movement of Jesus, and we must place the movement where it belongs, namely, in the spiritual history of Judaism….” (4)
Martin Buber, author and former professor at Hebrew University, Jerusalem
“Jesus was a Jew and a Jew he remained till his last breath. His one idea was to implant within his nation the idea of the coming of the Messiah and, by repentance and good works, hasten the ‘end…’ In all this, Jesus is the most Jewish of Jews… more Jewish than Hillel…. From the standpoint of general humanity, he is, indeed, ‘a light to the Gentiles.'” (5)
Joseph Klausner, author and professor at Hebrew University
“Jesus has become the most popular, the most studied, the most influential figure in the religious history of mankind…. No sensible Jew can be indifferent to the fact that a Jew should have had such a tremendous part in the religious education and direction of the human race…. Who can compute all that Jesus has meant to humanity? The love he has inspired, the solace he has given, the good he has engendered, the hope and joy he has kindled – all that is unequalled in human history…. The Jew cannot help glorying in what Jesus has meant to the world; nor can he help hoping that Jesus may yet serve as a bond between Jew and Christian, once his teaching is better known and the bane of misunderstanding at last is removed from his words and his ideal.” (6)
Rabbi Hyman Enelow, past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
“Neither Christian protest nor Jewish lamentation can annul the fact that Jesus was a Jew, an Hebrew of the Hebrews. Surely it is not wholly unfit that Jesus be reclaimed by those who have never unitedly nor organizedly denied him, though oft denied by his followers; that Jesus should not be so muchappropriated by us as assigned to the place in Jewish life and Jewish history which is rightfully his own. Jesus was not only a Jew but he was the Jew, the Jew of Jews…. In that day when history shall be written in the light of truth, the people of Israel will be known not as Christ-killers, but as Christ-bearers; not as God-slayers, but as the God-bringers to the world.” (7)
Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, Zionist leader and founder of the Jewish Institute of Religion
“We certainly do not get in the Hebrew Bible any teacher speaking of God as ‘Father’… like the Jesus of Matthew. And this habitual and concentrated use rightly produces upon us an impression … we are moved by it to wish that we too could feel that doctrine, even as Jesus teaches that we ought to feel; and that we, too, could order our lives in its light and by its strength.” (8)
C.G. Montefiore Reform Jewish scholar
“Jesus was utterly true to the Torah, as I myself hope to be. I even suspect that Jesus was even more true to the Torah than I, an Orthodox Jew.” “I accept the resurrection of Easter Sunday not as an invention of the community of disciples, but as a historical event…. I believe that the Christ event leads to a way of salvation which God has opened up in order to bring the Gentile world into the community of God’s Israel.” (9)
Dr. Pinchas Lapide, Orthodox scholar
“Perhaps, too, in this enlightened age, as his mind expands, and he takes a comprehensive view of this period of progress, the pupil of Moses may ask himself, whether all the princes of the house of David have done so much for the Jews as that prince who was crucified on Calvary.” (10)
Benjamin Disraeli, Former Prime Minister of Great Britain
All quotations, except that of Dr. Pinchas Lapide, may be found in The Messiahship of Jesus: Are Jews Changing their Attitude Toward Jesus? by Dr. Arthur Kac, revised edition, 1986, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids.
(1). Quoted from an interview by George Sylvester Viereck, “What Life Means to Einstein,” The Saturday Evening Post,October 26, 1929, Curtis Publishing Company.
(2). Quoted by Shalom Ben-Chorin in “The Image of Jesus in Modern Judaism,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 11, no. 3 (summer 1974), 408.
(3). Sholem Asch, One Destiny (New York: Putnam Publishing Company, 1945).
(4). From “Three Talks on Judaism,” translated by Paul Levertoff in “Jewish Opinions About Jesus,” Der Weg 7 no. 1 (January-February, 1933), 8.
(5). Joseph Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth (New York: MacMillan, 1925), 363, 368, 374, 413.
(6). Hyman Enelow, A Jewish View of Jesus (New York: MacMillan, 1920), 4-5.
(7). Stephen S. Wise,”The Life and Teaching of Jesus the Jew, The Outlook, June 7, 1913.
(8). C.G. Montefiore, The Old Testament and After, (London, MacMillan, 1923), 205-6.
(9). Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus, Augsburg Publishing House, 1983.
(10). Benjamin Disraeli, Lord George Bentinck: A Political Biography (London: Colburn, 1852), 363-64.