What’s the Incarnation … Really?

Introduction

When one considers what has been called the Christian idea of the INCARNATION, it can’t just be addressed in one simple way. So … we have broken it down into three shorter ideas:

(1) How Could God Become a Man?

(2) How Can a Virgin Have a Child?

(3) Why Would God Come to Earth in the First Place?

Jump around (click on the links for questions 2 and 3) to the issue that interests you most. And remember at any time, we are ready to discuss these thoughts with you at the CAFÉ Kehillah Discussion Board.

How Could God Become a Man?

Confession time – this was my kindergarten picture. I am desperately hoping that no one uncovers my junior year in high school picture because it will confirm the inevitable truth … I am the “Queen of the Nerds.” If the picture and the confession is not enough … perhaps the following will do it for you – the topic of my doctoral dissertation that is now a book:

MAIMONIDES’ YAHWEH: HOW HIS VIA NEGATIVA GOD INFLUENCED RABBINIC JUDAISM AND ITS SUBSEQUENT MISUNDERSTANDING OF INCARNATIONAL CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

Even if you have not been to Temple in a while, the name Moses Maimonides (Rambam) is one that you probably remember from Bar/Bat Mitzvah training days – including his two most famous works Mishneh Torah and Guide for the Perplexed. Born in the 12th century Spain, his teachings I would argue still influence Judaism today more than even the first Moses from Mount Sinai days.

Rambam believed that God could only be known by his negative attributes – in other words God is unknowable, unattainable, and unapproachable. Now why would a “nice Jewish boy” like Maimonides do such a thing? I don’t know about you but this sounds a lot like Deism and not Judaism to me.

I for one (yes, this is the “Queen of the Nerds” with Rambam in Cordoba, Spain) argued in my PhD work that he did so as the one of the first major apologetic/anti-missionary efforts against the Christian arguments of the Incarnation.

In fact, he even tried to change the wording of the Shema in order to accomplish his goal! Maimonides wanted to change the word “Echad” to “Yachid” but why since they both mean the word “One”? Perhaps because they mean different types of “One”…

The word “Yachid” is the idea of the solitary and lonely ONE – if you like 1960s semi-psychedelic music and Lego Batman think of the song by Three Dog Night called “One is the Loneliest Number”

It can mean nothing but ONE. However, “Echad” has a different nuance as it means a ONE of UNITY (i.e., people group or hours in a single day). For example, a person goes to the store to buy “Yachid” gallon of milk but “Echad” carton of eggs.

So … for Maimonides … I would argue that the idea of unity of oneness in the Shema struck him as sounding too much like the Christian idea of the Trinity. Perhaps for a reason…? Is it possible that Jesus was around before He showed up in Bethlehem? Did He show “His face” before we even knew Him as Jesus? This idea that Jesus shows up in the Torah/Tanakh is called by Bible scholars (both Christian and Jewish) by the big words – Theophany and/or Christophany. Basically, it means a “an appearance of God/Jesus to someone, specifically in the Hebrew Scriptures.”

You can imagine that Rambam hated this idea and wanted to read almost all of Scripture allegorically/metaphorically but I would ask you to read the following passages for yourself and see what you think:

(1) Genesis 16:7-13; (2) Genesis 18:1-33; (3) Genesis 28:12-17; (4) Genesis 32:24-32; (5) Exodus 3:2-6; (6) Exodus 24:9-11; (7) Numbers 12:6-8; (8) Joshua 5:13-15; and (9) Daniel 10:1-21 – After you are finished reading this passage – do yourself a favor and ask a rabbi why the Book of Daniel is skipped in the synagogue readings? 

Explore Messiah…? wants you and everyone to know that you can actually KNOW God. We can recognize who He is when we worship Him. We can have a closeness to Him. We can know that He actually does love/care about us. This is Biblical Judaism in its truest form.

Perhaps this idea was a little mind-blowing but wait until you read the section on “How Can a Virgin Have a Child?” or “Why Would God Come to Earth in the First Place?” If you would like to discuss this view with us more, come to the CAFÉ Kehillah Discussion Board and someone will either be there or will get back to you ASAP.

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