CAN THE TORAH BE AMENDED? Pope & Rabbi Square Off Over the Teachings of Jesus

Lives there a man who actually deplores Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount? Yes, there does. His name is Jacob Neusner, and he is a highly esteemed and scholarly orthodox rabbi and professor, with more than 900 books to his credit, including several that take Jesus to task for His teachings. Rabbi Neusner views the teachings of Jesus as contrary to the Torah, which he regards as the ultimate and final expression of God’s will and commandments. (The Torah is God’s revelation to Moses at Mt. Sinai as set forth in the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch.) Neusner considers that measuring stick fair and appropriate, given Jesus’ statement that He came not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them (Mt. 5:17-20). The culmination of Neusner’s negative analyses, A Rabbi Talks With Jesus, drew the comment from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger that it was “by far the most important book for the Jewish-Christian dialogue to have been published in the last decade.” That was in 1993 — so why bring it up now? Because Cardinal Ratzinger is now our Holy Father, and he has written his own book, Jesus of Nazareth, in which he frames his sixty-page analysis of the Sermon on the Mount (“the new Torah brought by Jesus”) partially as a rebuttal to the imagined dialogues Neusner would like to have had with Jesus and His disciples, had he been alive in their time.