A New Book Presents a Very Jewish—and Flawed—Perspective on the Death of Jesus

In his book The Messiah Confrontation, Israel Knohl of Hebrew University argues, firstly, for the Jewish origins of Christian ideas about the nature of the messiah and, secondly, that the execution of Jesus must be understood through the lens of the dispute between the two major Jewish sects of his time: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. John J. Collins explains how Knohl brings these two lines of though together:

He argues that the basic conflict over the nature of the messiah was originally an intra-Jewish one between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, which predated Jesus. The Sadducees, who [according to Knohl] initially condemned Jesus to death, were a small anti-messianic group that disappeared from history a generation later. For other Jews, notably the Pharisees, arguing about who was or was not the messiah was nothing out of the ordinary. They did not condemn other messianic pretenders to death, and they would not have condemned Jesus.

To Collins, this is an “engaging, provocative book” that gets much correct, but that also relies heavily on unconvincing readings of certain Dead Seas Scrolls. Collins also disputes Knohl’s specific conclusions regarding Jesus’ death:

According to this story [in the Gospel of Mark], the high priest asked Jesus directly, “Are you the messiah, the son of the Blessed One?” He answers, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” . . . Knohl argues persuasively that Jesus’ answer would not have been judged as blasphemy by the Pharisees. Only the Sadducees, who held to the anti-messianic ideology of the Torah, would have regarded it as such. But ultimately, Jesus was not crucified because Sadducean judges convicted him of blasphemy. He was executed by the Romans on a political charge, because some people were saying that he would restore the kingdom of Israel.

From the viewpoint of a Christian scholar, Knohl’s willingness to take the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospels at face value seems a little naïve, although it also bespeaks a generous respect for Christian tradition.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Jesus, Religion & Holidays

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security