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The Hebrew Yeshua and the Greek Jesus

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By Mick - Posted on 20 October 2006

by Mickey Denen
This is the title of a small but well written book, by Nehemiai Gordon, which I stumbled upon recently. In it he describes the journey he is making in his understanding of who Jesus is. He is a Karaite Jew, but concludes, “Through all these investigations I have been repeatedly surprised about what I have learned about Yeshua. I still do not believe Yeshua to be the Messiah: like all Karaites I eagerly await the coming pf the anointed Davidic king who will reign as king over Israel… However, my understanding of who Yeshua was as an historical person has changed. I once thought him to be a usurper who came to do away with Torah. Yet the more I study the Hebrew Matthew, the more I find that wherever Jesus seems to be doing away with Torah in the Greek, Yeshua ends up upholding Torah in the Hebrew…”This is the title of a small but well written book, by Nehemiai Gordon, which I stumbled upon recently. In it he describes the journey he is making in his understanding of who Jesus is. He is a Karaite Jew, but concludes, “Through all these investigations I have been repeatedly surprised about what I have learned about Yeshua. I still do not believe Yeshua to be the Messiah: like all Karaites I eagerly await the coming pf the anointed Davidic king who will reign as king over Israel… However, my understanding of who Yeshua was as an historical person has changed. I once thought him to be a usurper who came to do away with Torah. Yet the more I study the Hebrew Matthew, the more I find that wherever Jesus seems to be doing away with Torah in the Greek, Yeshua ends up upholding Torah in the Hebrew…”Mr Gordon makes a case in his book that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew and later translated into Greek. I will not go into all of the evidence he offers as that is beyond the scope of this article. If you are interested get the book. The last evidence he offers is the testimony of Papias, one of the “Early Church Fathers” To quote the book, “When my colleague at the university first told me that according to some scholars, the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, I thought he was pulling my leg. This was before I knew about Shem-Tov’s Hebrew Matthew so at the time I thought that this sounded pretty incredible. One thing everyone knows about the New Testament is that it is documented by numerous papyri fragments and over 5000 manuscripts dating back to the first few centuries after it was written...


From a Covenant Eschatology point of view I found the discussion of Matthew 5: 33-37 interesting.

33“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Mr. Gordon tied this passage in Matthew to Jeremiah 12:16

(NIV) 16And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people.

Mr. Gordon correctly associated this passage in Jeremiah to the Time of the End when the “Gentiles will learn to swear, ’As YHWH Lives.’” and “through this they will be built into Israel. What the Hebrew Matthew and some better English translations (ESV,YLT) correctly reveal is the sin that is of the evil one is to swear by YHWH falsely. What is the point? Jeremiah and Jesus are pointing out that in the restored Kingdom of God we need to honor YHWH with our lips and never make a vow in YHWH’s name that will not be truth, for this is to dishonor His name.

The book is an interesting read. I would be interested to see comments from anyone who is familiar with Shem-Tov’s Hebrew Matthew.

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