Orthodox Rabbi Denounced as Heretic Over Latest Book

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Orthodox Rabbi Denounced as Heretic

Via the Los Angeles Times:

Shmuley Boteach is no stranger to the limelight. The Orthodox Jewish Rabbi has made it onto the best-seller list with two books, Kosher Sex and Dating Secrets of the 10 commandments. However, as comfortable as Boteach is in the public eye, he may not have been prepared for the controversy he’s drummed up with his latest release, Kosher Jesus.

The book is a meditation on Jesus’ life as a Jew, and portrays him as a hero who stood up to the Roman occupation of Palestine. In accordance with the Jewish faith, the book rejects the notion of his resurrection and divinity, and even asserts that the New Testament intentionally demonized Jews for the crucifixion of Christ. However, it is Jewish, rather than Christian critics, who have taken Boteach’s new book to task.

Rabbi Yitzchok Wolf of Chicago proclaimed the book apikorsus, a Hebrew word which roughly translates to heresy, and said that he had “utter contempt” for the book, even though he had only read the title. Immanuel Schochet, a Canadian rabbi, said that Kosher Jesus:

...poses a tremendous risk to the Jewish community…[it] is forbidden for anyone to buy or read this book, or give its author a platform in any way, shape or form to discuss this topic.

In his defense, Boteach has said that his book is designed to appeal to both Jews and Christians and bridge the two faiths through different interpretations of the life of Jesus:

We can either, as has happened for 2,000 years, allow the Christian community to teach us about the Christian Christ, or we can take the initiative and responsibility of teaching the Christian community about the Jewish Jesus…

Boteach waved off criticisms that he is deliberately courting controversy in order to boost sales, and denounced an Orthodox website that refused to publish his rebuttal to Wolf’s criticisms: “We are the People of the Book. We aren’t the people who ban books.”

John Jarzemsky

News by John Jarzemsky

John is a freelance writer who has been with LitReactor since the days of its halcyon youth. You can check out John's blog, the poorly titled Super Roller Disco Monkey Hullabaloo!, for other reviews, random musings, and ill-thought out rants. He was recently published in Bushwick Nightz, a collection of short stories about the Brooklyn neighborhood in which he resides.

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Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 8, 2012 - 5:53pm

None of these religious authorities has explained themselves...such strong opinions from merely reading a title? What's "functionally illiterate" mean...?