Hebrew Roots of the Apostolic Faith

The study of the Hebrew Roots of Christianity is a study of the original Hebrew Monotheism, One-God Faith. It is not a religious study but a cultural study. As a cultural study, it looks into the ancient Hebrew worldview and belief structure. The Hebrew worldview is how the ancients viewed the structure of the cosmos and how humans fit into it. The Hebrew belief structure is the belief system that derives from their worldview. As a cultural study, it is sometimes known as Biblical Anthropology and even Christian Anthropology [1]. Biblical Anthropology, applied to the Christian Faith, looks for the worldview and belief structure of the ancient Hebrews, the ancestors and forefathers of the 1st century Jews. This is how the apostle Paul taught gentiles to view the Jews: enemies due to their rejection of the gospel of Jesus but honor them due to their forefathers [who preserved the knowledge of Jehovah] (Romans 11:28).

Biblical Anthropology is NOT a study of Judaism! Judaism is the religion of the Jews developed by the Pharisees. Pharisee-Judaism contains not just the Torah (five books of Moses, the first five of the Christian Bible) but also reforms and commentary which they insisted that all Jews honor and obey - even above Scripture. Their 'reforms' and commentary were taught as equal to and often greater than, the Laws of Moses. (See the essay Hebrew Roots of Christianity: Problems and Solutions on the Download Page) Christianity did NOT grow out from Pharisee-Judaism but grew out from the original Hebrew Monotheism, the Jew's ancestors.

The history of Pharisee-Judaism, if the modern rabbis are to be believed, goes back to the time of Moses. However, if the historians are to be believed, the rise of the Pharisees, as a significant Jewish sect, can only be traced back to around 160 BCE. One of the two opinions, the rabbis or the historians, are wrong. This author sides with the historians. The major reason for this is the nature of Jesus' earthly as a teacher of the original Hebrew Monotheism, and reformer of Pharisee-Judaism [2]. Another reason is the way the New Testament continually resists the Pharisee mindset.

A study of the Hebrew Roots of Christianity, (Biblical Anthropology), reveals many little know facts about the Hebrew worldview and belief structure (see Rare Faith Facts page). These facts greatly effect one's understanding of 1st century Christianity. The ancient Hebrews are the background concepts and belief structure of Jesus and his apostles - not Judaism. Their concepts of how the cosmos is structured, their view of time and the nature of the divine are very different from modern western concepts. If these ancient Hebrew cultural concepts were held by the biblical writers, then these concepts must be what the biblical writers were thinking when they wrote the documents we call the Old and New Testaments.

Consequently the ancient Hebrews' concepts should be the foundation and support of the faith. The 1st century apostolic faith grew out of the Hebrew Culture, out of the Hebrew sect of the Nazarenes. Although most 1st century Jews rejected their Messiah, it does not mean that later converts to the faith can excuse rejecting the Jews' forefathers (Romans 11:28).

... although a wild olive shoot [gentiles], were grafted in among the others [Israel] and now share in the nourishing root [Hebrew heritage] of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches [ancient Israel]. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. [ancient Israel's worldview and belief structure] (Romans 11:17-18 ESV - explanation inserted)

There are no historians, or scholars, using any discipline of anthropology, who will tell you the 1st century writers were anything less than Hebrews, thinking, speaking and writing like Hebrews. Even though our most ancient preserved documents are nearly all Greek, the thoughts expressed in the Bible are all distinctly Hebrew. The Bible student needs to understand the Hebrew worldview and belief structure to understand the biblical messages. This might seem radical to some and to others perfectly logical. However, in the history of Christianity, studying the Bible from this perspective has only been approached by biblical scholars since mid 20th century! Leading the charge is not the majority of Christian scholars but Jewish scholars who are "reclaiming Jesus" as their greatest Jewish Rabbi! Truth be told, many of them still reject Jesus as their Messiah but they are embracing him as the greatest teacher of the ancient Hebrew Monotheism (Pure Torah Observance) ever to walk the earth![3] Many other scholars concur, both secular and Christian.[4].

So what are the implication of using the ancient Hebrew culture for definitions of the concepts in the Bible? Almost everything modern western Christians think everyone believes (and probably do) are not supported when reading the Bible from a Hebrew cultural perspective. For example, "heaven" to a Hebrew is a place where Jehovah dwells and humans cannot approach or dwell there. The positive afterlife for a Hebrew is Abraham's Promised Land with David's Promised godly Anointed King ruling it.

For another example, Jehovah interacts with the earth and its inhabitants through Agents to carry out His words. These Agents are either angles or humans with His spirit energizing them. Sometimes Jehovah's Agents were priests, sometimes prophets and sometimes just men He called out to do a job and empowered them to do it. In the Hebrew view, Jesus was God's best Agent, being His first born son in his family. In the Hebrew view, God's son means God was Jesus' natural biological father, nothing more. In the Hebrew view, assigning deity to Jesus, due to his lineage or for any other reason, is condemned as idolatry.

For still another example, the Christian Trinity is repugnant to Jewish Christians who retain their ancestral cultural heritage. (exceptions being Messianic Jews who were converted and talked out of their heritage by the mission efforts of western Christian denominations). The primary and most foundational teaching of the ancient Hebrew Monotheism (and Judaism) is stated in Deuteronomy 6:4, the Jewish "Shema" (also quoted by Jesus, Mark 12:28-34): "Hear, O Israel! Adonai is our God – Adonai alone" or another way to translate the passage: "Hear, O Israel! Adonai is our God! Adonai is One!

This issue is being raised by many Christians today. Consider a Yahoo Questions from last year (2011): [5]

Why did Jesus quote the Shema ...?
Why did Jesus quote the Shema, but not the "Athanasian Creed"? "Yeshua answered, 'The greatest is, 'Hear, Yisra'el, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.'" -- Mark 12:29, (Hebrew Names Version)

Best Answer:
You know and I know that the Trinity is nowhere to be found in Scripture. Interpreting verses with a Trinitarian understanding is anachronistic.[6] Jesus preached one God. Paul preached one God. James preached one God. No one said anything about "three persons, one being." That would be the spirit of the later "Athanasian Creed"[7]. "The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; and yet they are not three Gods, but one God." -- Athanasian Creed.

All this might seem like we're talking as though the 1st century Hebrews were following a completely different faith from Christainity. You would be very close to the truth to say that. Modern Christianity does not have its habits, practice and doctrinal roots in the Hebrew apostolic faith of the first century Judeans. The modern western version of Christianity is rooted in the Roman-Byzantine courts of the 4th century emperor, Constantine (and his descendants) who capitalized on the gentile's version of the Christian faith. He approved its emerging philosophical doctrines in creeds and institutionalized the church as government political arm to serve the Roman Empire. This is the version of Christianity which is most popular today: the Roman-Byzantine Christian Faith.

By contrast, this Hebrew Rooted version of the faith is nearly unknown today. Why? Because all historical records suggest it went extinct by the middle of the 2nd century. By then, the church had become predominately gentile. The older Jewish form might have survived in a few isolated pockets to the end of that century, but as far as history is concerned: Hebrew Rooted version of the faith went extinct about a century after Pentecost. This is why the study of the Hebrew Roots of Christianity from a historical and cultural perspective is so important. The very foundation and roots of our faith is almost completely unknown today ... even among the Hebrew Roots crowd! Along with the faith's Hebrew cultual roots,the Pentecostal power seen in the New Testament and documented in historical died out. If Christianity is to survive into succeeding generations, and manifest its original power, western Christians must rediscover their ancestral roots in the Hebrew belief structure of Jesus and his apostles. Western Christian must also rediscover the Pentecostal power of the Hebrew apostles which transformed the world.

“A proper Hebrew Roots study will be heavily based in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament),
— This is your primary source of the ancient Hebrew worldview and belief structure.”

  1. This is a term Wikapedia uses for Biblical Anthropology. Also see the website, Ancient Hebrew Research Center for more insight on using anthropolgy to study the Hebrews.
  2. Dr. Michael L. Brown, in his book, The Real Kosher Jesus, quotes the Jewish scholar, Dan Cohn-Sherbok: "Placing himself in the line of prophetic tradition, Jesus was anxious to call the people back to the true worship of God ... page 41
  3. ibib, "Section 1: Yeshua-Jesus-Yeshu: Who Is He?" , pages 1-88
  4. See the books and website authored by Sir Anthony Buzzard, Greg Deuble, Jeff A. Benner, Nehemiah Gordon, and many others.
  5. Click Here for the Yahoo Q & A page.
  6. anachronic: chronologically misplaced
  7. This creed reflects 4th century theological thinking but probably was not written until the 5th or 6th century.
Page Last Modified: Sep 21, 2012
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