Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Sanhedrin Reconvened

After sixteen centuries, Israel has reconvened the Sanhedrin. I believe this time around they'll be presiding over purely religious and theological issues. Maybe when Jesus comes back they can all shake hands and be friends.

In Jewish circles the Sanhedrin is a very well respected body that contained some of the greatest Rabbis ever. People like Gamaliel (who gets an honorable mention and very favorable portrayal in Acts). Historically it contained both members of the Aaronic priesthood (Kohanites/Kohenim?) and various Rabbis. The current version will contain representatives from the various Jewish subgroups like hasidic, sephardic, and ashkenazic Jews.

In Christian circles, the Sanhedrin is most fondly remembered for killing Jesus and then persecuting/martyring the first apostles. La Shawn Barber's post on the subject has some examples from the Gospels. Saul of Tarshish (who became the Apostle Paul) may have been a member.

After the Passion of the Christ came out my pastor got together with a local Conservative Jewish Rabbi and a Catholic priest and had a little discussion board on the topic at the Jewish Community Center. So a priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a JCC and ... Ok ok no jokes.

One of the big sticking points was the portrayal of the Sanhedrin in the movie. Jews had been raised to revere the Sanhedrin and seeing them used as villains twirling their mustaches while conspiring against the Son of God was a bit much. Even discounting the Passion's one-sided caricature of the priesthood, they still had a lot of trouble with the Gospel accounts of Jesus's trial being held on the eve of Passover. Several individuals came forward and told the Christians in the room that we really needed to revise the Bible because the Sanhedrin would never do such a thing. My pastor very politely pointed out that the men who wrote the Gospels were all Jews. They were there during those events and neither they, nor their audience (also other Jews), had trouble believing their story.

For the record folks, suggesting that someone rewrite their religious canon purely to make you comfortable is about the rudest thing you can do in an ecumenical setting. Especially when you are talking mostly to Christian Protestants who believe in scriptural inerrancy. You didn't see the minister or priest bashing the Talmud or questioning the spiritual basis of the Rabbinical system did you? Sorry but that still pisses me off.

Anyway lets hope this Sanhedrin works better and maybe their actions can help build bridges between Jews and Christians instead of burning them.

UPDATE: Let me clarify a bit here. The Rabbi at the meeting was a nice guy who didn't like the movie and had legitimate beefs about stereotyping, etc. He had the typical religious liberal outlook that I don't particularly care for, but hey so do thousands of ministers.

There were a few people I thought were profoundly ignorant. Ignorant is the best word I can think of and many christians at the panel discussion were highly insulted. The ignorant people happened to be Jews, but I referred to them as individuals on purpose since I don't consider them to be representatives of their faith. I don't want to generalize here.

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