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  1. #1
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    David Friedman's "They Loved the Torah"

    I just read most of David Friedman's "They Loved the Torah" but unfortunately he didn't address any of the really important questions. It was a small book, and easy to read. He successfully showed that Jesus was Torah observant, but everybody already knew that because He was "born under the Law to redeem them that are under the law" (Galatians 4.4-5). So the fact that Jesus fulfilled the Torah is not news to anyone and it does not impact the question of "Torah observance" in the life of a Christian at all.

    Friedman then tried to show that all the disciples - most importantly Paul - also were completely "Torah observant" but I think he failed in that respect because he didn't deal with any of the really important texts. I mean, he didn't even mention Galatians anywhere in his book!

    His conclusion is very revealing. Here's a snippet:

    From David Friedman's Conclusion ---
    The evidence clearly confirms that the individuals studied in this book, including Yeshua himself, lived a Torah-observant lifestyle. Though the exact methods of Torah observance may have differed between people - the Torah was not discarded as an invalid document. Their continued observance of the Torah implies its ongoing significance in their lives and their acceptance of this theological fact.
    This is an example of the fundamental problem with the whole discussion about "Torah-observance." I do not know of a single Christian theologian worth his salt who would ever suggest we should "discard" the Torah as an "invalid document." And it is my opinion that anyone who would compose such a sentence is not familiar with the profound theological issues involved with question of "Torah observance" for a follower of Jesus Christ. I'm not trying to be judgmental. I'm just stating the facts as I see them. For example, when trying to show that Peter (whom he called Shim'on) was "Torah observant" Friedman wrote: "If Shim'on had a problem with the validity of the Torah after becoming a Messianic Jew, he certainly would not have quoted from it to prove his points." That assertion is, of course, absurd, because Paul himself quoted the Torah to prove that because of sin, the Torah contained a curse that could be alleviated only through faith in Christ. And in the same epistle, Paul explicitly contradicted the Torah's circumcision commandment, saying "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing." (Galatians 5.2). And besides that, the removal of the "yoke" of the Torah through its fulfillment in Christ does not contradict its continued existence as the sacred Word of God which is "holy, and just, and good." (Rom 7:12).

    So the bottom line is this - Friedman's book contained no theology at all, and so offers no help in resolving the the theological question concerning "Torah observance" and the Christian.

    As a final note, I strongly reject Friedman's invalid reference to Paul as "Rabbi Sha'ul" - an error he repeated throughout the book. I consider that to be unnecessarily divisive to the Body of Christ and grossly disrespectful of the revealed Word of Almighty God in which the Apostle Paul is always called "Paul" in his Epistles, a name confirmed by Peter in his second epistle and by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself when He called him "Paul" in Acts 23:11:

    Acts 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
    Some Messianics argue that Paul had two names, which is a possibility, but not certain. If he really did have two names, then we would expect his Hebrew brother Simon Peter to call him by his Hebrew name when he wrote to the Hebrew tribes "dispersed abroad." But Peter called him "Paul" even when speaking to fellow Hebrews:

    2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
    This is confirmed by the fact that Paul called Peter by his Aramaic name Kepha but Peter never called Paul "Sha'ul." And finally, I do not know of any early church documents that called him Sha'ul. So if we started calling him "Shaul" now in the 21st century, it would seem like we were turning away from our "Hebrew roots" rather than towards them, since the original Hebrews who knew him - including Jesus, Peter, all the early Church fathers, and most notably Paul himself - called him "Paul."

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  2. #2

    Friedman book

    You obviously do not understand what Dr. Friedman's purpose was. This was a brilliant book, and his sole purpose was clearly to prove the Torah observance of Jesus, which he did. Why would or should you expect him to have done anything else???? And you stated: " he didn't address any of the really important questions." I have to scratch my head and wonder what in the world you are thinking? Of course he addressed the really important issues TO the subject matter he was dealing with! It seems to me like you just felt like attacking the typical Messianic Jewish position on a number of matters that indeed he didn't deal with, and so you very unjustly lash out at this author with your own personal theological frustrations. And may I add that I happen to disagree with most of your stated positions.

    Larry "Sabra" Holtzmann

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr_sabra View Post
    You obviously do not understand what Dr. Friedman's purpose was. This was a brilliant book, and his sole purpose was clearly to prove the Torah observance of Jesus, which he did. Why would or should you expect him to have done anything else???? And you stated: " he didn't address any of the really important questions." I have to scratch my head and wonder what in the world you are thinking? Of course he addressed the really important issues TO the subject matter he was dealing with! It seems to me like you just felt like attacking the typical Messianic Jewish position on a number of matters that indeed he didn't deal with, and so you very unjustly lash out at this author with your own personal theological frustrations. And may I add that I happen to disagree with most of your stated positions.

    Larry "Sabra" Holtzmann
    Hi Larry,

    First, let me say "Welcome to our forum!"



    Now as for your comments. You wrote "his sole purpose was clearly to prove the Torah observance of Jesus." That is not correct. It was not his "sole purpose." On the contrary, his ultimate purpose was obviously to promote "Torah observance" amongst modern Christians. This is a fundamental error that Paul addressed in Galatians:
    Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
    This is why I said he did not deal with any of the really "important" issues. He used the fact that the first century Jewish believers were Torah observant to support his false conclusion that Christians should be Torah observant. But this directly contradicts the teachings of the NT on many points. For example, the Torah teaches that male children must be circumcised whereas Paul explicitly stated that was not necessary to fulfill the commands of the Lord:
    Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
    No teacher promoting observance of Torah could write those words. Friedman did not address any of these important issues. That's why I said he did not address any of the really important issues.

    Your perception that I "just felt like attacking the typical Messianic Jewish position" because of some "personal theological frustrations" has no foundation in fact. I quoted the actual words written by Friedman, and supported my argument with logic and facts. It would be good if you did the same if you want to criticize my writings. As it stands, you have not shown any error in anything I have written. I would be delighted to pursue this topic if you are so inclined.

    All the best,

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  4. #4

    Funny!

    Well, Richard, unless you are Dr. Friedman, how do you know what his purpose was? You clearly are projecting your own feelings on this matter. Why don't you write Dr. Friedman and ask him what his purpose was? No, you'd rather take a wild guess, and a wild guess (and a wrong one, may I add) is what you did.

    Dr. Friedman is known in the Messianic Jewish world for NOT believing that Christians should keep the mitzvot of the Torah like a Jewish person would. But you wouldn't know that, would you? If you'd like, I'm happy to give you Dr. Friedman's e-mail. I know him. Want to take me up on this?

    Larry

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr_sabra View Post
    Well, Richard, unless you are Dr. Friedman, how do you know what his purpose was? You clearly are projecting your own feelings on this matter. Why don't you write Dr. Friedman and ask him what his purpose was? No, you'd rather take a wild guess, and a wild guess (and a wrong one, may I add) is what you did.

    Dr. Friedman is known in the Messianic Jewish world for NOT believing that Christians should keep the mitzvot of the Torah like a Jewish person would. But you wouldn't know that, would you? If you'd like, I'm happy to give you Dr. Friedman's e-mail. I know him. Want to take me up on this?

    Larry
    Hey there Larry,

    I do not need to "be" Dr. Friedman to read and understand his words. I know his purpose because he explained it in his book. Specifically, here is what he wrote in the conclusion of his book concerning his purpose:

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Friedman in They Loved the Torah, pg. 121
    It behooves followers of Messiah to develop a theology that is true to the pattern of observance found in the Scriptures. While doing so, care must be taken to fulfill the mitzvot in a merciful manner, without placing pressure on others to do as we do. Therefore, speaking as one who believes in a merciful, grace-filled, and Torah-observant Messianic Judaism, I urge a closer study of Yeshua's practice of Torah observance. He is the perfect role model.
    I wrote that "his ultimate purpose was obviously to promote 'Torah observance' amongst modern Christians." My statement is true. It is fully supported by Dr. Friedman's own words. He said it himself. He said Jesus was Torah observant and Jesus is the perfect role model. It appears you did not even read his book. You have falsely accused me of "projecting [my] own feelings on this matter." Will you now admit the truth?

    All the best,

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  6. #6

    You misinterpret yet again...

    Dr. Friedman directs his words, AND his book AND his message TO OTHER MESSIANIC JEWS! Again, I know him, and that is the audience intended for his book. He writes: "WHATEVER WE DECIDE OUR CALLING AND PURPOSES ARE AS MESSIANIC JEWS..." (his conclusion and his audience!). And again: "...those of us IN THE MESSIANIC JEWISH COMMUNITY need to exhibit..." (again from his conclusion, showing his audience and his own self-identification); and finally he specifically states: "...WITHOUT PUTTING PRESSURE ON OTHERS TO DO AS WE (Messianic Jews) DO..." (p.121). He can't get much clearer than that. But if you persist in your stubborn and wrong conclusion, I am happy, again, to have Dr. Friedman write to you. It would only take a phone call from me, his former student. Lenny

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    As a final note, I strongly reject Friedman's invalid reference to Paul as "Rabbi Sha'ul" - an error he repeated throughout the book. I consider that to be unnecessarily divisive to the Body of Christ and grossly disrespectful of the revealed Word of Almighty God in which the Apostle Paul is always called "Paul" in his Epistles, a name confirmed by Peter in his second epistle and by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself when He called him "Paul" in Acts 23:11:

    Acts 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
    Some Messianics argue that Paul had two names, which is a possibility, but not certain. If he really did have two names, then we would expect his Hebrew brother Simon Peter to call him by his Hebrew name when he wrote to the Hebrew tribes "dispersed abroad." But Peter called him "Paul" even when speaking to fellow Hebrews:

    2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
    This is confirmed by the fact that Paul called Peter by his Aramaic name Kepha but Peter never called Paul "Sha'ul." And finally, I do not know of any early church documents that called him Sha'ul. So if we started calling him "Shaul" now in the 21st century, it would seem like we were turning away from our "Hebrew roots" rather than towards them, since the original Hebrews who knew him - including Jesus, Peter, all the early Church fathers, and most notably Paul himself - called him "Paul."
    Larry,

    Do you have an answer for this criticism?

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  8. #8

    Wowzers! Now I'm almost laughing.

    Now you're just being stubborn and showing, well, I hate to knock you, but your ignorance of both Hebrew, Greek and Jewish Second Temple custom. You wrote: "As a final note, I strongly reject Friedman's invalid reference to Paul as "Rabbi Sha'ul" - an error he repeated throughout the book. I consider that to be unnecessarily divisive to the Body of Christ and grossly disrespectful of the revealed Word of Almighty God in which the Apostle Paul is always called "Paul"

    Richard, my friend, 'paul' is a Greek name. It is a nickname (Ι started to type in Greek but this site doesn't support Greek text)! Did you change your name when you became a believer? No. Neither did he. He wrote people under his nickname, 'servant' (paulos). Friedman can call Shaul whatever he wants to...Shaul was his given name, and it IS respectful. Many Jews today are called by that same 1st name. Is it disrespectful to name someone Shaul (or Saul in English)? You'd have to argue such in order for your comment to be valid! Shaul is RESPECTFULLY called a rabbi by Dr. Friedman, and every other Messianic Jew who calls him such (and the great majority do so). 'Rabbi' is a title of respect in the modern Jewish world. All it means is 'an ordained teacher' and a scholarly community leader. That's all, but if you've never studied Hebrew, you wouldn't know that, right? And if you make a stink about 'Rabbi' Shaul, why don't you make a stink about Christians calling themselves 'Reverend' or 'Elder' or 'teacher'? Or how about St. James (a totally culturally Christianized name that has nothing to do with his real historical name (which was Yakov ben Yosef). St. James? He wouldn't know who you're talking about. Do you call Abraham ever by his name Abram? If you do, you sin. You would be (your words) "grossly respectful" to the Biblical commandment. Why? Specifically we are told in the scriptures that God changed Abram's name to Abraham, and from then on, Abraham was to be his name. Why don't you make a stink about Christian authors who refer to Abraham by his name Abram? I've read enough authors who do this indiscriminately. But no big deal, right, unless it's a Messianic Jew calling Paul by his real name. Now, to me, this sounds a little like a bit of anti-Jewish slant...no, that couldn't be.
    So go ahead and strongly reject what you want, but that doesn't change the facts.

  9. #9

    Names

    'Shaul' means 'someone who has been asked for [their conception or birth] by God', which is a beautiful meaning. All Hebrew names in the scriptures carry a meaning, many expressive of wonderful meanings. 'Paulos'--either a 'little person' or a 'servant'. Such a name in the ancient world, both Greek and Jewish, was common for Jews, especially Diaspora Jews. Look at Shmuel Safrai and Menachem Stern's 'The Jewish People in the First Century', an encyclopedic work by two Israeli scholars, and you will learn there (among many many other places where you obviously have never looked) to learn about how names were used in the 1st century. And then you'd know that Greek names were given to Jewish families in the Diaspora, but did NOT cancel out their Hebrew names, also given at birth. One used the name that fit the country where one lived. Just like in the USA, or France, or Canada or Britain...a Jewish person is most often given 2 names: a Hebrew one (Shaul, e.g.) and a foreign one (Paulos, e.g.). They NEVER canceled each other. Shaul used his name Shaul while in Israel, like everyone else did. And when writing his letters to GREEK SPEAKING peoples where he spoke to them in Greek (as in Corinth, where he was for a year and a half), guess what? He used his Greek name. There was no canceling out one for the other! That was not the culture, not in Israel and not in Greece, nor the practice. And if you want to reject that, then you are putting your heavyweight scholarly experience up against Stern, Safrai (two Hebrew University scholars, PhDs and department heads for many years), against Dr. Lawrence Schiffman (go look up his bio), Dr. Eldon Clem (world class Aramaic scholar, Hebrew Union College), Drs. David Bivin, Robert Lindsey, Joseph Frankovic and Randall Buth (all 4 are Christian scholars) and lastly, Dr. Lenny Holtzman (that's me, PhD in Jewish studies and Messianic Jew).
    That kind of makes you need to argue v. proven history with some facts, and not your fiats. Until then, we'll remain calling Paul by Rabbi Shaul, and we still love Yeshua our Messiah and God with all of our hearts, minds and lives. Unless you, of course, decide otherwise.

  10. #10

    typo

    " My 'You would be (your words) "grossly respectful" to the Biblical commandment", should read "grossly disrespectful" '

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