Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew
Most people today acknowledge that Jesus was Jewish. Yet a surprising number of Christians and Jews hold the belief that Jesus converted to Christianity at some point in his life or that he actually launched a new religion. In Jesus Uncensored psychologist, teacher, and spiritual writer Bernard Starr draws on a wealth of sources, including a close reading of biblical texts, to portray Jesus’ lifelong commitment to Judaism, the synagogue, and the Torah. He also reveals that Paul, the founder of Christianity, never gave up his Jewish identity nor, like Jesus, did he intend to launch a new religion.
If indeed Jesus was an ardent practicing Jew and preached only to Jews, why then did classical artworks depict Jesus and his fellow Jews as blond, fair-skinned Gentiles? Why did artists transform a community of orthodox Jews into latter-day northern European Christians? Starr takes the reader on a fascinating journey through Medieval and Renaissance art (including a walking tour of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art). He argues that the ethnic cleansing of Jesus and the world around him —so vividly depicted in hundreds of paintings—created a powerful platform for anti-Semitism. Contributing to this was the fact that throughout much of their history Christians were forbidden to own, read, or translate their Bible into a native language, which prevented them from discovering the firm Jewish foundation of Christianity. If the populace had access to the Gospels, says Starr, they surely would have noticed that the “multitudes” of Jesus’ followers were Jews.
Starr then turns to the crucial question, “Did the Jews kill Jesus?”—a charge that has echoed with deadly consequences since the crucifixion. Carefully scrutinizing the Gospels’ account of Jesus’ arrest and trial and the events leading up to them, he arrives at a startling conclusion, one that is certain to provoke wide discussion and debate.
The accusation that Jews killed Jesus is at the root of virulent and enduring anti-Semitism. What might the thoroughly Jewish Jesus have said to church leaders, monarchs, and other despots who launched murderous acts such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, and genocides in his name? Starr tackles this question in a mock trial, in which Jesus asks these perpetrators, “How do you justify your violent acts based on my teachings and mission?”
Mindful that many Christians today are eager to let go of long-standing antagonisms, Starr courageously appeals to fellow Jews to drop the “Jesus Phobia” and accept Jesus as a faithful Jew--without having to embrace the claim that he was the Messiah. Citing the pantheon of false Jewish Messiahs throughout the centuries, many of whom were destructive to Judaism, Starr questions why some “Messiahs” are still revered for their teachings while Jesus is rejected.
Finally, Starr explores the popular novel The Da Vinci Code, which, like classical artworks, begins with a Jewish story but promptly converts it into a Christian one. Starr shows how The Da Vinci Code gets recoded when Rabbi Jesus’ wife and daughter are authentically recast.
In exploring the realities of Jesus’ life, Starr sheds new light on the history of anti-Semitism and on the destructive forces that have alienated Christians and Jews. His aim is to heal the rift between the religions and to help bring forth a new spirit of reconciliation. Broad in its scope yet intimate in its authoritative detail, Jesus Uncensored will forever change readers’ understanding of Jesus, Judaism, and Christianity.
- Bernard Starr, January 2013
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