I know Christians believe that Jesus is God and that's kind of a no-no in Judaism. The thing is, Jesus himself did not say he is God.

Well, there are esoteric things. For example, he said that, "I and the father are one". Well, Kabbalah also says that Israel, God and Torah are one.

He declared that sin is forgiven. Then he claimed that "son of man" can indeed forgive sin. This seems to "imply" that he claims that he is God. But not necessarily. "Son of man" may be someone else. Forgiving sin may be something many angels can do. You can check more here: the site tries to convince people that Jesus did claim to be God, but even the strongest claim are vague.

In any case, Jesus' claim that he is God is always very circumstantial. It's never direct and can have many meaning. On the other hand, this site argues that Jesus simply tried to convey that he is a prophet or God's representative.

Then there is this son-of-God thing. Nephilim are also called sons of God. It could mean many things.

Jesus said to love your enemy which differ from rabbinical teaching. Perhaps he means that we should have mercy even for mass murderers, rapists, etc. which we did. He probably think that it's what Torah really means. There is something in Torah about helping cows of your enemies. Perhaps small gestures of kindness are good even for enemies, but not too much.

So if we don't take into account that Christians think that Jesus is God's Avatar, is Jesus himself a really bad guy? I mean, it's not like he killed, robbed or raped anyone. Could he really be a rabbi or prophet? After all, rabbis and prophets often have different opinions than mainstream.

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    This presumes historicity and that Jesus has any place in the scope of what Judaism thinks. If the gospels are not accepted as authoritative then not only is making an argument based on their text useless, but citing them in any discussion is not relevant. But regardless, Jesus (if he existed and the texts are remotely accurate) challenged the accepted hierarchy, subverted law and advocated unacceptable reform (among other things).
    – rosends
    Dec 28, 2013 at 22:48
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    @Danno In addition, it excludes any and all Jewish sources to bear on the question of Jesus's being a "good or bad guy".
    – WAF
    Dec 29, 2013 at 0:03
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    Yea in Talmud there are several Jesus and we have no idea which one is the famous one assuming the Christian Jesus do exist in the first place.
    – user4951
    Dec 29, 2013 at 1:45
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    You need to start this question by asserting what Jesus did, not what he didn't do. Dec 31, 2013 at 5:29
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    It was compiled then, the Mishna was compiled earlier. Both are full of quotes of earlier sages May 7, 2014 at 20:21

2 Answers 2


First, it is hard to really know what Jesus said or thought. Modern theories are all over the place as to the historicity of the documents, how and when they went through redaction, etc. So, the first point must be one of uncertainty.

Second, as someone with Christian Testament credentials I can say that there is more than enough "proof" that Jesus, according to the Christian texts that are canonical, did claim divinity. A few subpoints: a) when he said "I am" he used a specific form that stated "I. I am" that apparent in the Greek but not in translation. b) He is called kurios (kyrios) which was a title for "Lord" lifted directly from the Septuagint translation of Tanakh and used to denote the Name.

Third, as far as your interpretation of the few texts you cited, you are fine. There are many ways to interpret many of Jesus' words, and the vast majority do not seem to claim divinity, whereas most seem to posit that G-d alone has authority and power (ie. Jesus claimed lack of knowledge about the Last Days and said only G-d had that).

Fourth, the title "Son of G-d" is not all that difficult, as you note. It is the later Christian title "G-d the Son" (not in the Christian Testament) that poses issues. an interesting look at another title, "Son of Man," that the canonical Jesus uses to refer to himself, does however reveal that he is at least portrayed as one thinking he is Messiah (read this book to see some great research into this title).

Lastly, the canonical Jesus does teach an impenetrable love for one's enemy as one's neighbor. He does intend that one approach things from a merciful and forgiving point of view, and proposes an ideal forgiveness with no limit to how many times one should be forgiven. He could not have been a prophet by Jewish standards, but he most certainly was a teacher/rabbi, even if he did not garnish much of a following from the primary leaders of the day. Instead, as the Gospels do attest, the canonical Jesus was the teacher of the poor, a man who focused on social justice and a unique interpreter of Torah who, while taking much of his foundational thought from Rabbi Hillel (see this for a treatment of Jesus and Hillel), went in his own direction that might have actually resembled the way many Galileans and "border town Jews" viewed Torah (my first book rec above elaborates on this extensively).

So, was Jesus a good guy or a bad guy? There is no definitive answer to this subjective question, but many would agree with your premise and, if hypothetically he was the teacher he is portrayed to be minus the claims to divinity, he would certainly stand as a teacher whose ideas need reevaluation. This is not to say he does not depart from the Jewish tradition (esp. Oral Law, which he probably did not know too well), but he still stands as one of history's most interesting and captivating teachers, whatever he thought he was.

  • I agree. Forgiving your enemies is stupid. It does have some deeper meaning. Something Law of attraction practitioners do.
    – user4951
    May 8, 2014 at 3:59
  • @JimThio. What exactly do you mean? I'm sure there is something to it. May 8, 2014 at 21:24
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    The idea of law of attraction is you don't concentrate on those who wrong you. You concentrate on those who benefit you. You get more benefit that way. If people wrong you, rather than holding grudge and stuff, you just move on and concentrate on people that love you and treat you fairly.
    – user4951
    Jan 26, 2019 at 5:44
  • So in a sense forgiveness. Jesus may teach something along life strategies. Given that jews are being slaughtered around his time in fall of Jerusalem, what Jesus teach may make sense if we see it from, "What should we do if we are weak and we want to survive". Of course, another strategy would be to forgive your enemies only if your enemy is strong. But that would lead to another problem, namely that you are being unfair.
    – user4951
    Jan 26, 2019 at 6:02

the verse in Deuteronomy 4:2 says

"You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it"

He came to change/detract from the torah and for that he was rejected and branded a dangerous heretic.

This was unlike Rabbinical enactments which come to safeguard the existing commandments.

  • Does that apply to individuals or just to courts? I think you want to quote the pasuk about being a false prophet.
    – avi
    Dec 30, 2013 at 11:00
  • @avi it applies to everyone. go ahead and make another answer if u want
    – ray
    Dec 30, 2013 at 11:33
  • Torah have many different interpretation. Maybe Jesus think that what he say is what it really means. And yea, how does it not like Rabbinical enactments? It safeguard the existing commandments? By what? By declaring that no body can be mamzer (like what reconstructionist jews did?)
    – user4951
    Dec 31, 2013 at 6:46
  • "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Mathew 5:17.
    – mevaqesh
    May 22, 2016 at 22:29
  • @mevaqesh - Just because Jesus said that doesn't prove he didn't try to detract from the Torah.
    – ezra
    Aug 9, 2017 at 15:54

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