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Islamic and Jewish Views of Jesus

Image via Pixabay

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Although Judaism, Christianity and Islam all assert that they teach pure monotheism, only Christianity proclaims that Jesus was the Son of God; and a third of a Divine trinity (a trifold unity. Christians also believe Jesus was a Divine Messiah (Greek Christ) predicted centuries before by several Jewish prophets in the Hebrew Bible. Jews say the Messiah is always human.

In the Qur’an, Jesus is referred to in ninety three verses in fifteen surahs; and mentioned by name twenty-five times as “son of Mary” or “Messiah Jesus, son of Mary”.

Islam agrees with Christianity that Jesus was born to a virgin, was sinless, performed miracles, and was superior to other prophets. Both Islam and Judaism teach that Jesus was not in any way Divine. Jews think Jesus was only a Rabbi. Islam teaches Jesus was no more than a prophet.

Islam, denies the central teaching and belief of Christianity by denying Jesus’ divinity, crucifixion, and resurrection. Judaism denies divinity. Both religions deny original sin.

Jews and Muslims are both in fundamental agreement that neither Jesus, nor any other human, should be worshiped as a God or as any part of the one and only God.

But doesn’t the Qur’an state: “The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call the Messiah a son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (thus) they only imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say (pagans who believed their many Gods had many divine or semi-divine children). Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! (Qur’an 9:30)

English: Baptism of Christ

Baptism of Christ via Wikipedia

Now there are a half dozen different places in the Qur’an where the Christian claim that Jesus is the son of God is refuted and denied. For example, “Jesus son of Mary, did you ever say to people ‘worship me and my mother as Gods beside Allah?’ and he will answer, ‘How could I say what I had no right to say?’” 5:116

Also, “Jesus in the sight of Allah is like Adam” 3:59. and “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger of Allah…do not say :Trinity. Stop saying that.” 4:171 Jews agree 100% with these ayahs.

And general statements like “those who say, ‘Allah has begotten a son.’ have no knowledge about it, nor did their forefathers; this is a monstrous word that comes from their mouths. They utter nothing but a lie.” 18:4,5 and 5:72-75, and 19:30. Jews also agree 100% with this.

Indeed, the verse that follows 9:30 specifically applies to Jesus: They take their priests (Ahbar) and their monks to be their Lords in derogation of Allah, and (take as their Lord) the Messiah the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him). (Qur’an 9:31)

Then how shall we understand the Qur’an’s statement: ‘The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah”?

Al-Tabari and Abdallah ibn Ubayd state that only one Jew (Pinhas) viewed Uzayr as the son of God. Ibn Abbas and Qurtubi say only four Jews, whose names they record, believed Uzayr was a son of God. Ibn Hazm said that just a small group of Jews in Yemen worshipped ʿUzayr as a son of God in some remote period.

Since the Jews of Yemen, who have lived there since the third or fourth century, do have an old tradition not to name their children Ezra, perhaps there was such a small, short lived, heretical sect that later generations wanted to forget.

English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, wit...

Child Jesus with the virgin Mary, with the Holy Spirit (represented as a dove) and God the Father, with child john the Baptist and saint Elizabeth on the right via Wikipedia

But most Christians to this day, proudly proclaim that they do indeed worship Jesus, the Son of God. Jews however, have always vehemently denied that they worship any partner or other God except the one and only God. So how can we understand the difference between the two seemingly parallel statements in ayah 9:30?

There is a Hadith in Sunan Al-tirmidhi which says that the Jews worship their Rabbi’s. One of the companions said that this is not true. Then Muhammad said that they accept what their Rabbi’s say over the word of God; so in this way they worship them. This Hadith provides an important clue.

Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians actually do venerate and pray to both Jesus and his mother Mary; but only a small party of Jews figuratively venerate their rabbis as Muhammad says because, “they accept what their Rabbi’s say, over the word of God, so in this way they worship them”.

This Hadith is correct. Orthodox Jews believe in both a written Torah and an oral (unwritten) Torah which has been handed down for over 3,200 years, ever since Sinai. They often observe Judaism according to the rabbinic interpretation of this oral Torah.

For example, the Torah states that the new Jewish year starts: “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow ram horns”. (Numbers 29:1)

This one day holy day, was turned into a two day holy day some 17-18 centuries ago, when most Jews lived outside the Land of Israel and could not be sure exactly when the lunar new year calendar began. A similar issue exists for Muslims in determining the start of Ramadan, which is why in some years two different days mark the beginning of Ramadan in various parts of the world.

“Adoration of the Shepherds” by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622 via Wikipedia

Thus, different circumstances produce different rituals and legal systems, but basic theology can differ only in unessential details. As the sage of Konya, Jalal al-Din al-Rumi says, “Ritual prayer might differ in every religion, but belief never changes.” (Fihi Mafih 49)

The Qur’an also states 4:171 “O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ (Messiah) Jesus the son of Mary was (only) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (He is far) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth.”

The Qur’an credits Messiah Jesus as being a Word of God. What does this mean? The Qur’an also states 43:61: “And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour), but you (should) follow Me: this is a Straight Way.”

Jews do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, son of David; because the Messianic Age of international peace clearly has not yet come about. But Jesus could have been the Messiah, son of Aaron or Joseph (Yusuf) who according to rabbinic teachings will be killed by the anti-Messianic forces (Romans) before the coming of the son of David Messiah, and the final judgement and resurrection.

Bernardino Luini – Holy Family with the Infant St John via Wikipedia

The belief in two different messiahs, one a moral political leader from the house of David (Davidson) and the other, a religious reformer from the house of Aaron (Aronson), and a special “end of days” prophet like Elijah or Jeremiah (Matthew 16:14) is also found in inter-testament literature.

A Dead Sea scroll states that the Qum’ran community must live according to the original discipline “until there shall come a prophet (Elijah) and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel” (Manuel of Discipline 9:11). There is also a rabbinic belief in a messianic figure from the northern tribes; a son of Joseph, Mary’s husband, who is killed by Roman enemies.

Rabbi Maller’s website is: www.rabbimaller.com. An ordained Reform Rabbi who retired in 2006 after 39 years as the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California, Rabbi Maller has published over 100 articles about Islamic and Jewish connections on Islamic and Jewish web sites. His newest book is ‘Judaism and Islam: Synergistic Monotheisms.’ He is also the author of a book on Jewish mysticism.

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Abduction (2017) – Review

Title: Abduction
Genre: Science Fiction, Parody, Comedy, Horror, Cult
Production: Onview Films
Directors/Writers: Maurice SmithMol Smith
Stars: Karolina AntosikTessa McGinnKemal Yildirim (…full cast and crew at IMDB)

Abduction is a clever romp into the unknown realms of alien abduction, sexuality, violence and interdimensional rivalry.

Essentially a spoof, I couldn’t help get the feeling that, underneath all the camp, a deeper significance just waits to be discovered.

The film can be taken on several levels. As parody, imagine Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Repo! The Genetic Opera. On another level, Abduction probes the oft unspoken sexual undercurrents in alien abduction lore. In that sense, it’s almost Freudian.

But Abduction doesn’t stop there. Sci-fi fans will appreciate its look at interdimensional affairs. That is, if aliens exist, how might things actually work out there?

The Hive Queen argues with an ET

The story hinges on a hauntingly beautiful Hive Queen who wants to colonize the earth by creating hybrids.

She’s a hybrid herself but imperfect. She can’t have kids. So she does her evil best to create hybrids to take over the planet.

Kemal Yildirim plays a doctor, Asil, who heals abductees with the most unusual treatments. Meanwhile, a government man (Thorson), a psychiatrist (Melissa) and Asil use high tech meds to try to track victims, with comical side effects.

Any more plot summary would be a spoiler. But I will say that Abduction is relatively easy to follow – we’re never left hanging too long – and it does have a nice, trick ending.

The Doctor with Bozena

Okay so I loved it to bits, right?

Well, no film entirely pleases me and Abduction is no exception.

My nitpicky side felt that an outdoor scene with Thorson and Melissa had a slightly rushed dialog. But things level out as the pair move indoors. And as a send-up, a touch of forced dialog is par for the course. Some might find it just adds to the laughs. It certainly does with the Hive Queen, who obviously hams it up.

Abduction also has its fair share of partial nudity and grotesque scenes, the horrific being more in-your-face than the sensual.

I wasn’t too hot on the blood and gore. But I realize this is important to horror fans. I just flick my Vulcan “inner eyelid” whenever something rubs me the wrong way, be it in Abduction, Game of Thrones, whatever.

Thorson, the Doctor and Melissa

The graphics range from intentionally retro (say, 1960s Twilight Zone and Batman) to state-of-the-art blasters, beams and shimmering pod bay doors.

Like the graphics, the soundtrack is a curious mix of old and new. High-end cinematic effects mingle with catchy pop tunes and 8-bit video game sounds.

The ongoing tension between parody and depth along with variable production values keeps this quirky film fresh. Abduction is well the worth the watch, even if you’re not a cult or Indie movie fan. Not constrained by big budget, Hollywood expectations, it’s free to be what it wants to be.

MC

All images © Onview Films UK. Used with permission.

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Freudian Slips – Glitch in the machine or key to countless possibilities?

Most of us know about Freudian Slips. Many of us make them. Every now and then Freudian Slips creep into my own speech and writing.

Sometimes I’ll miss a typo and, on correcting it, consider what the apparent “mistake” might suggest in a bigger picture.

Critics to this worldview might say I have an overactive imagination or that I associate ideas because I want to fit them into my particular cosmology.†

That’s a good thing to keep in mind. Possibly some insane people can’t tell the difference between intuitive connections and imaginative fabrications. But that doesn’t mean that all intuitive connections are crazy. We have to apply reason, experience and humility to sort through it all. Catholics call this discernment. Other religions also try to separate insight from delusion.

So is your particular cosmology adamantly individualistic or about a greater connectivity? How about some intelligent combination of the two?

The other day I revised this earthpages.ca entry about Freudian Slips. It raises some questions that could become increasingly relevant in our collective future. — MC

† The word “cosmology” isn’t just about planets and stars; technically, it means how one sees and understands the world—inside, outside and beyond.

Freudian Slips – Glitch in the machine or key to countless possibilities?

FC&P New York Cocktail Party shoot: Is he envious of my ciggie?

Alexandra Xubersnak – FC&P New York Cocktail Party shoot: Is he envious of my ciggie? via Flickr

Parapraxis, the Freudian Slip

Parapraxis is an obscure word for a pretty common idea—The Freudian Slip. The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, was the first to try to analytically explain its occurrence.

In the Psychopathology of Everyday Life Freud says parapraxes are unintentional acts resulting from an unconscious wish, desire, attitude or thought.¹

This could involve forgetting names and sequences of words. But classic examples of parapraxes are slips of the pen or tongue.

Imagine a guest at a cocktail party accidentally saying, “I love your horse” instead of, “I love your house.”

For Freud, the hidden, unconscious meaning of the slip points to… Read More

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Looking through a glass darkly – The paranormal, normal and bias

English: That's me.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Sometimes I hesitate to talk about the paranormal. On the one hand, we have fanatics and hack investigators running after every Photoshopped image, blowing their alleged significance way out of proportion. On the other hand, we have diehard skeptics so regimented in their thinking that they tend to readily dismiss anything ‘paranormal.’

I think the best approach is to apply reason and experience to any kind of human belief—be it based on interior or exterior data. The following entry at earthpages.ca works toward that aim:

The Latin prefix para means beside or beyond. Like the word supernatural, paranormal refers to any phenomenon that eludes explanation through normal science or conventional wisdom.

Paranormal can be a misleading term because what is ‘normal’ is open to debate and subject to change… Read More

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Paranoia – When the line becomes blurry

From shower curtains to tin foil hats. Here’s a post at earthpages.ca that takes a look at paranoia without lobotomizing the upper half of possibilities, as most ‘learned’ discourses do.


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Panpsychism – The Future Calls?

Does your toaster get tired of making toast for you every morning? Well, that might not quite be how it goes. But some believe that all things possess consciousness. What matters, they say, is how and how much a thing organizes energy.


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Do you hear voices? Why spirituality and transpersonal psychology are so often overlooked

In my youth it was a juvenile joke to ask in a mock psychiatric tone, “DO YOU HEAR VOICES?”

Mature people realize there’s nothing funny about psychological suffering. But I think the joke was directed at the medical establishment’s understanding of mental discomfort instead of at the afflicted. At least, that’s how I saw it.

We shouldn’t laugh at people who suffer in mind and soul. By the same token, there’s nothing funny about how unusual psychological phenomena tend to be regarded by the medical establishment.

The tweeted article (above) seems to be headed in the right direction. But it overlooks two important factors that could play a role in hearing voices—spirituality and transpersonal psychology.

Michele Lamberti COMUNIONE DEI SANTI – SAINTS COMMUNION via Flickr

Spirituality and transpersonal psychology are usually linked. But they are not necessarily identical.

A Catholic churchgoer, for instance, may understand spirituality but knows little about transpersonal dynamics. And adherents of transpersonal psychology may have little appreciation for the Catholic belief in the Communion of Saints and the related idea of intercession.

There are many different stripes and colors among the spiritually sensitive.

So what is transpersonal psychology?

My understanding is that tangible connections among persons at a distance can be perceived by those sensitive enough to perceive them.

This can involve sensing others’ thoughts, feelings, their scent, what they see, hear, smell or physically feel. It can also involve a kind of subtle body awareness – to include sensuality and sexuality – because subtle bodies are said to interpenetrate.¹

For many people this is just New Age or Far-Eastern fantasy. And for most psychiatrists, it is simply “magical thinking.” However, for a certain percentage of the population, it is not fantasy nor delusion. For some, transpersonal psychology is quite real and far more complex and nuanced than a silly, reductive phrase like “magical thinking.”

The Wicked Witch of the West melts, from the William Wallace Denslow illustration in the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) via Wikipedia

This leads to another factor often overlooked or ridiculed by the medical establishment: The possibility of demonic deception. Quite possibly some voices could be caused by a demon messing with a person’s head.

That is a very uncool idea these days. Not in vogue. Great stuff for movies. But definitely not real. Debate over… shut the door. People who believe in demonic influence must be mentally ill.

That is, the medical trumps the spiritual paradigm.

Why does the medical establishment mostly turn a blind eye to spirituality and transpersonal psychology? Presumably this is because the majority of its practitioners are too worldly and conceptually biased to appreciate the subtler, finer aspects of life.

Some doctors might go to church, temple or mosque. But it is doubtful that they sense higher (and lower) mystical states to any great or advanced degree.² If they did, they would probably be monks, sisters or hermits instead of medical professionals.

Hence the mainstream dismissal of important spiritual possibilities.

Funnily enough, when I first became interested in Catholicism a priest pointed to his heart and confided in me by saying, “I hear a voice, right here.” He may have been speaking figuratively, but from our conversation he seemed to be saying that this voice tells him what is from God and what is not from God, and also serves to guide him.

Being a smart guy, this priest keeps his ‘voice’ under wraps. If that kind of terminology got out, his enemies might brand him a so-called schizophrenic, which could hinder his ability to help others.

Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves ~ Matthew 10:16

For the most part, psychiatric theories have a pretty firm grip on the public imagination. Many folks parrot the latest trends and politically influenced classifications as if they were the Gospel Truth.

The medieval Church once controlled others through fear and persecution. Today, science exerts its own kind of ideological influence. But the control is so pervasive and complete that most are hardly aware of it. They conform. They believe what the doctor tells them.

You don’t think so?

Take a look at sites like Quora.com and read how some individuals completely accept medical explanations (and labels) given for their psychological suffering. Some almost seem to enjoy playing the role of “good patient.” They praise their doctors for illuminating the “truth” about their illness. And they seem oblivious to alternative explanations.

Sadly, when alternative explanations are ignored, healthier remedies could also be ignored.

So instead of experimenting with, say, the Catholic Eucharist as well as attitudinal and behavioral changes for the better, sufferers take the latest medications on the market.

God only knows how those medications (arguably a euphemism for drugs) may affect the rest of their body. Long term side-effects (arguably a euphemism for harmful effects) are often downplayed but a quick reading of scientific journals reveals that known harmful effects can be debilitating, even lethal.

Let me be clear: I am not anti-meds. If drugs help a person to cope or if they protect innocents from potentially violent individuals, they probably should be administered. But I believe drugs should always be taken with a view toward finding a better solution.

We must consider alternatives and critically assess the medical and religious ideologies of our time. An integrative approach that includes medical science and spiritual teachings would probably be optimal.

Image via Flickr

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind ~ Albert Einstein

¹ In Eastern philosophy, this involves the doctrines of adhyasa (superimposition) and karma transfer. This kind of interior perception could also include sensing the spiritual environment and influences associated with another person. In contemporary parlance, good or bad vibes.

² The academic study of religion terms this the numinous, after Rudolf Otto‘s and later, Carl Jung‘s adaptation of the Latin numen. Some say that numen is based on the Greek nooúmenon. The English term first appears in 1647.