The “Jewish Roots” or “Hebraic Roots” of Christianity?

IN SHORT…The newest technique used by Christian missionaries and some other Christian clergy is to be found in what they teach when they use the terms, ‘The Jewish Roots of Christianity,’ or ‘The Hebraic Roots of Christianity.’ One might think this means how, in their opinion, Christianity began with Jews, or developed from Judaism. However, this is not what they mean by ‘the Jewish Roots.’ The way these people try to show that the roots of Christianity are to be found in Judaism is by putting a Christian theological interpretation into a Jewish ceremony or ritual. They then claim that this planted Christian theological interpretation, having been ‘found’ in something Jewish, demonstrates that Christianity was a natural outgrowth of Judaism.


A Story: David had a garden that was absolutely beautiful. In it, he grew the most perfect tomatoes that you have ever seen! One day, Matthew came along and planted cucumbers right in the middle of David’s garden. When the cucumbers started sprouting, Matthew told everyone that the tomatoes were the root of his cucumbers. In other words, that the cucumbers had developed from the tomatoes, and were the natural result — the goal — of the tomatoes as they grew to maturity.

The above story may seem to you to be ridiculous, but this is exactly what many people who teach ‘The Jewish Roots’ or ‘The Hebraic Roots’ of Christianity actually do. They plant Christian cucumbers, so to speak, in the midst of the Jewish tomatoes, and then claim that what they planted there sprouted naturally from the tomatoes that were already growing there. In other words, they put a Christian theological interpretation into a Jewish ceremony or ritual. Then they claim that this planted Christian theological interpretation, having been ‘found’ in something Jewish (it was planted there by them in the first place), shows that Christianity came from Judaism.

This clearly does not make any sense. It is merely an effort to claim Jewish legitimacy. Let me give you an example:

Most people are aware that there are three pieces of matzah on the Passover Seder plate. Most people know that the middle matzah is taken out, broken into two, and one of the two pieces is then hidden away, brought out at the end of the meal, and is called the Afikoman. The matzah has stripes and lines of holes on it. Some Christians will claim that the matzah as well as the ritual with the Afikoman is symbolic of Jesus, and therefore indicates that the basic theology of Christianity can be found in Jewish rituals. They will claim that the stripes and holes represent the marks on Jesus from the scourging he received, and the holes represent those on Jesus that were caused by the crucifixion. They will claim that the three pieces of matzah represent the trinity of 1. the Father, 2. the son, and 3. the Holy Spirit. Please take note that it is the middle matzah, the ‘son’ in the trinity, that is taken out and broken (crucified), hidden (buried), and brought back out (resurrected).

The problem with this is that it is an absolute fabrication, wedged into its ill-fitting place by the Christian agenda. There was no Seder, no Haggadah, no three pieces of Matzah on any Seder plate, at the time of Jesus. There was not even so much as a Seder plate. The entire ritual developed hundreds of years after Jesus lived. The first discussions of a Passover ritual describe only one and a half pieces of matzah. The half piece is itself broken in half, then one of these two smaller pieces is set aside, to be eaten as the last part of the meal. It is not hidden, it is merely set aside, remaining in plain view. The idea of hiding it came in the middle 1600’s, in Germany, as a way to keep the children interested in the service, a very successful idea that eventually caught on throughout the world. The reason the matzah has stripes and holes is that it is machine made. The machine causes the stripes and the holes as it pulls the dough through the machine. This machine was invented only about 150 years ago, in the middle of the 1800’s.

How can something invented many hundreds of years after an event be considered a foreshadowing of an event that occurred before it? The answer is, it cannot, without ignoring the rules of logic.

Of course, Christian missionaries, and those who want to see Christianity as coming from Judaism, can interpret anything at all in a Christian way. But that does not mean that Christianity developed from whatever they are interpreting.

One might ask, ‘But weren’t the first Christians actually Jews?’ Yes, but this is irrelevant. The first Protestants were Roman Catholics. Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic Priest. The Roman Catholics do not consider Protestant Christianity to be merely another form of Catholicism.

If you read the Apocryphal Book of I Maccabees, you will see that the first person killed in the Maccabee rebellion was a Jew. He was willing to go ahead and sacrifice a pig to Zeus, which Mattathias had refused to do. Obviously, he had to have been a very secular, assimilated Jew. Had he survived Mattathias’ attack, and later formed a religion that was dedicated to the worship of Zeus and Zeus’ half-human sons, would that make his newly formed faith just another form of Judaism? Would that mean that his new faith had ‘Jewish Roots’ since the founder of this faith was originally a Jew?

Just because it is a Jew who creates something, does that mean that what was created is Jewish? Just because a Jew holds to an idea, does that automatically mean that the idea the Jew holds to is a Jewish idea?

Christian missionaries, including ‘Jews’ For Jesus, Messianic ‘Jews,’ and ‘Hebrew’ Christians, will go to amazing lengths to get even one real Jew to convert. They will claim that, since they can now find Christian symbolism in a Jewish ritual, this proves that Christianity developed as a natural outgrowth of Judaism, that Judaism was the source of Christian theology, and that the Jews are too stubborn to see how Christian theology is what Gd wanted to lead them to in the first place. – Rabbi Stuart Federow

However, this convenient trick can be done with a thing that is not Jewish as well.

Let’s take pizza.

Pizza has three basic elements to it, the bread, the tomato sauce, and the cheese. The middle element is the tomato sauce, which is red. One could easily give a Christian interpretation to these three elements that define pizza.

The bread:

Jesus is called the bread of life. The dough is kneaded. This image of kneading the dough is the same as someone being beaten which could represent Jesus being scourged. The dough to make the bread is rolled over with an instrument, which pokes holes in the dough to allow air to escape during baking. This could be likened to Jesus receiving the holes in his body from the crucifixion, just as certain people erroneously say of the matzah.

The tomato sauce:

The sauce is red like Jesus’ blood, and it is spread all around the dough like the blood of a sacrifice is put on an altar.

The cheese:

The cheese covers the rest, like the death of Jesus ‘covers the sins of the people.’

From this hypothetical interpretation, you can easily see how even pizza could be used to symbolize Jesus. But this clearly does not mean that the symbolism one could find in pizza indicates The Pizza Roots of Christianity.

Although Jesus himself was Jewish, and preached to Jews, the religion that now considers him the messiah is clearly not Jewish.

While there may be historical Jewish Roots to Christianity, there are no theological Jewish Roots to Christianity because the theology that supports Christianity is antithetical to what the Bible says, and diametrically opposite of what Judaism believes.

by Rabbi Stuart Federow

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