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Anthony Grafton claims that "the Christian discovery of a Jewish Jesus began not in the 19th century but in the Renaissance"; elsewhere, "Sixteenth and seventeenth-century scholars came to see, as clearly as contemporary specialists on the New Testament, that Christianity began as a Jewish sect". 2

I didn't watch the entire lecture, but I wasn't even aware that there was any point in history where it was believed that he wasn't Jewish. He's referred to as "King of the Jews" in the New Testament, after all. I couldn't find any sources discussing this; does anyone know of any?

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It might be more a matter of emphasis - in some times and places the church authorities did not bother to tell people that Jesus was Jewish. The film "In darkness" shows this poignantly. –  Felix Goldberg Mar 16 '13 at 22:50
Many, if not most, Russians didn't and still don't have a clue that Jesus was Jewish. The typical opinion of an average Russian about Jewish people is "they crucified our Christ" ("они распяли нашего христа") –  DVK Mar 17 '13 at 0:12
Yes, but that's not what's being referred to. "Sixteenth and seventeenth-century scholars came to see... that Christianity began as a Jewish sect" suggests that this was not only missing from popular knowledge, but from the entire intellectual community. –  Hypercube Mar 17 '13 at 4:55
maybe should be rephrased as "didn't care that Jesus was Jewish". The emphasis on his status as a Jew was afaik largely influenced by anti-semites wanting an argument for condemning Jews for condemning him to death, which required him to be a Jew because in Roman Palestine Jews were only allowed jurisdiction over their own people. –  jwenting Mar 18 '13 at 11:50
This sounds like it might possibly be a better fit on Skeptics. Have you considered that the format for this question is less one of history and more one of a notable claim being forwarded that needs (in)validating? –  Caleb Mar 18 '13 at 14:19

1 Answer 1

Being Jewish is more to do with ethnicity than religion per se , it is interesting to note that although Jesus was born in a Jewish household ,he never claimed or asserted that his religion was Judaism in the entire gospel in spite of the fact that he observed the Torah commandments. The early disciples and subsequent followers of Jesus knew this hence they never used the equivalent terms like "Yahoodi" (Aramaic), "Judaism" etc to refer to themselves.

A similar question was asked on Christianity.SE, here is a brief excerpt of the relevant portion of the answer:

19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever [a]the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)

Jesus's religion was therefore not one of the established theologies of the time, but rather a lifestyle of submitting to the will of the Father. Jesus had such a close and intimate relationship with the Father that Jesus understood the character of the Father well enough that He could operate as the Father would do in the same situations.

Hence Jesus did not belong to any named religion of his time which he was very explicit as above but he did obey the commands of God by submitting his will to God. Thus the earlier "Christianity" itself never viewed him as a Jew by religion. Regarding the NT statement about his claim to be the "King of Jews", then he himself never claimed to be "King of Jews" as he himself never made this assertion ,but rather the Jews around him made such an allegation against him:

New International Version (©2011) "Are you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate. "You have said so," Jesus replied.( Mark 15:2 )

Moreover Jewish leaders prefer the designation "King of Israel", as in Matthew 27:42, Mark 15:32. Hence Jesus never accepted this allegation of he being "King of Jews" this is the reason why the governor Pilate found no fault with Jesus as Jesus did not acknowledge that he was the "King of Jews":

Pilate washes his hands with water in front of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; you will see." (Gospel of Matthew)

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-1 mostly for not answering the question - the question was about perception of Jesus's identity, not about his identity. You gave arguments for the (uncommon) view that he was not a Jew; whether right or not, they are irrelevant to the question. P.S. The forum you linked to contains more answers which argue quite the opposite. –  Felix Goldberg Jul 7 '13 at 13:15
regarding perception I clearly stated "Thus the earlier "Christianity" itself never viewed him as a Jew by religion." that even his disciples did not claim themselves to be following the religion of Judaism as understood by the Pharisees and saducees. –  hist Jul 7 '13 at 13:19
But that's your interpretation, others exits as well and are, afaik, more accepted. I suggest you read the other answers in the thread you linked to. –  Felix Goldberg Jul 7 '13 at 13:54
the other answers are more of Christian interpretation, the accepted answer Just interprets that Jesus was Jew , infact most of the other answers dont answer the question which clearly assumed jesus was Jew by race, but was asking whether Jesus himself claimed to be so? –  hist Jul 7 '13 at 14:34
jesus was a jew man. end of story –  Bak1139 Jan 29 at 6:49

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