Does The New Testament Support Messianic Judaism? -- By: Philip du Toit

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 22:1 (Sep 2016)
Article: Does The New Testament Support Messianic Judaism?
Author: Philip du Toit

Does The New Testament Support Messianic Judaism?

Philip du Toit1


This article considers whether the New Testament supports Messianic Judaism. As a form of Judaism, Messianic Judaism is found to be anachronistic to ancient Israel of the Old Testament and the Judaeans of the second temple, making it problematic to use the New Testament in support of Messianic Judaism. The contention that the New Testament propagates an ongoing distinction between gentile and Judaean Christ-believers is contested in respect of the Apostolic Decree (Acts 15), the claim that Paul was fully Law observant and Paul’s portrayal of the nature of the identity in Christ in respect of gentile and Judaean believers. It is found that belief in Christ constitutes a new identity for both gentile and Judaean believers that fulfilled and superseded the identities in the old age before the Christ event. The notion of an ongoing Judaean-gentile distinction in the early church is thus incompatible with the way in which Paul portrayed the new identity in Christ. The

final conclusion is reached that the New Testament does not support Messianic Judaism..

1. Introduction

Messianic Judaism in its current form is a relatively recent phenomenon that surfaced with the 1960s Jesus movement, and became known as Messianic Judaism in the 1970s (Kinzer 2000:3, 6; Ariel 2006:191, 194-195; UMJC 2013:16). Messianic Jews see themselves as essentially Jewish rather than being (Hebrew) Christians (Kinzer 2000:4, 2013:131-132; Ariel 2006:195). In Messianic Judaism, ‘Judaism’ is the genus and ‘Messianic’ is the species, signifying the priority of their connection and identification with the Jewish people and their religious tradition (Kinzer 2000:4). Their approach is inclusive, in that they recognise and acknowledge other forms of Judaism. They are messianic in that they recognise Jesus as Messiah, who they normally refer to as ‘Yeshua’ (e.g. Kinzer 2000, 2013; UMJC 2013), and acknowledge the New Testament as apostolic and authoritative. But other than in the protestant tradition, Messianic Jews do not normally adhere to the principle of sola scriptura, for that would mean that they would not value the Rabbinic tradition, including the Oral Law, which they are not generally willing to do (Kinzer 2000:4-8).2

Since Messianic Jews see themselves as essentially Jewish, they adhere to the Mosaic Law as well as Jewish culture and tradition (e.g. keeping Jewish feasts and sabbaths, adhering to dieta...

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