Rabbi Tovia Singer Distorts The Bible So People Reject Jesus

Rabbi Tovia Singer is famous for criticizing Christian beliefs in the Bible, but I want to show you an example of how he distorts the Bible so people reject Jesus. This isn’t the first time I’ve engaged with Rabbi Tovia Singer (it won’t be the last).

This is from his call-in show. Look at what he says from a short clip so you get the flavour.Rabbi Tovia Singer Wants You To Reject Jesus But You Shouldn't

“But that James doesn’t agree with other [books] of course they don’t agree with each other because these are all books written by different people who held different Christology’s completely different views that completely contradict the other.”

Rabbi Tovia Singer Must Stop Misleading Jews

I’m going to show you how to address many of the claims. In his video. He talks about the New Testament writers contradicting on whether Jesus was God. I’m also going to show how something he says about James backfires too.

This video I’m engaging with started with a question. Listen to the question…

“I was always taught that Jesus was God made flesh, that he had all, full power and authority was given to him. Um, and uh, I guess in Colossians 2 and 9 um but also uh, one of the main things that we hear about Jesus is that just like us he was uh, you know, tempted by the devil for 40 days and for 40 nights.

Well, a glaring error in that I found out is that if Jesus was god made flesh and if he had all power and authority of God like it says he does, in the book of James in the first chapter verse 13 he talked about that God can’t be tempted nor does he tempt others.”

The caller has a reasonable question. It’s easy to think people are always attacking Christianity from negative motives. Some have genuine questions they would like answers to. The caller is confused. Jesus is God, we know he’s tempted by the devil, but James says God can’t get tempted with evil. How does that make sense? I’m going to answer that, but I want you to hear Rabbi Tovia Singer’s response first.

[chuckling] Where do we start um right so Jesus in the wilderness tempted by the devil in the synoptic gospels, so the notion that the word became flesh is not in the synoptic gospels that passage is from the prologue of John John 1:14.”

Rabbi Tovia Singer’s Bold Claim Must Be Corrected

Rabbi Tovia Singer doesn’t answer about James at the start, but decides to discuss some other things first along the way. Let’s deal with his first distortion of the Bible.

He said “the notion that the word became flesh is not in the synoptic gospels that is from John 1.”

Let me unpack that because there’s a lot there.

The Word who John says is God in his Gospel became flesh Rabbi Singer says. This teaching he says is not found in the synoptics.

Whenever you hear the word synoptics, this is talking about Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It’s a technical term which refers to seeing similar things. Those 3 Gospels are very similar and cover much of the same stuff.

They have different stuff too but it’s like watching a movie from three different angles. Anyway, the rabbi says these 3 Gospels don’t teach that the Word became flesh. This is a big distortion of the Bible, they all do and it’s emphatic.

Beware Of Word Games

I was thinking about this, the only way Rabbi Tovia Singer would be right is if he meant they don’t use the literal words the word became flesh. But that’s not what he means, or what viewers would take from what he’s saying.

If I say to you now…Hi my name is Israel I’m a Bible teacher. Then after you read this article you send it to a friend and say I read this article from a man named Israel, he teaches the Bible. That sounds accurate right? But then I turn around and say no I never said I teach the Bible I said I’m a Bible teacher. That doesn’t make sense does it because they mean the same thing?

All I would be doing is playing semantics.

This is what it’s like when people say Matthew, Mark, and Luke don’t teach the Word became flesh. They all do. They all teach Jesus is the God of the Old Testament who took on flesh. Let me give you 3 examples.

Jesus is God In The Synoptic Gospels

Example No. 1 is from Mark chapter 1. Mark 1:1-3 says,

The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God as it is written in the prophets behold I send my messenger before your face which shall prepare your way before thee the voice of one crying in the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord make his paths straight.

Mark opens his Gospel quoting two Old Testament verses about God and applies them to Jesus. By doing this he is saying Jesus is the God of the Old Testament who was coming to save his people. Jesus is God, or the Word made flesh. Before God came in those passages, a messenger would come.

According to Mark, that messenger is John the Baptist.

In Matthew 1, like Mark he mentions Old Testament passages and applies them to Jesus too.

In Matthew 1:23 for example it says,

Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel which being interpreted is God with us.

Matthew says Jesus’ name is Emmanuel because God is with us.

That sounds like Matthew believes Jesus is God, the Word made flesh.

In Luke 1:17, like Mark and Matthew, Luke refers to an Old Testament passage and applies it to Jesus. This is the angel Gabriel speaking about John the Baptist to his father…

And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

I did a whole livestream on this passage showing why even though some try to say this passage is not about Jesus it is. Verse 76 of the same chapter says the same thing anyway, and it’s clear in that verse it’s about Jesus. These are some quick examples from the Synoptic Gospels.

These are all in the first chapter.

Handling The Bible Is A Big Thing

There’s more examples in them all, but Rabbi Tovia Singer was laughing as he started talking about this stuff like it’s laughable. But these are serious matters.

When I talk about the Old Testament, I take care and you should too. Our words have influence. when I make these articles, I’m very aware my words have influence. I don’t want you to go astray. but this is such a glaring mistake Singer is making. But look at what Rabbi Singer says next about the ancient times.

Rabbi Singer’s Appeal to Cultural Context

It’s almost like Rabbi Tovia Singer knows his claim is false. Because he starts discussing why Jesus is called God. This would undo his previous argument. He could only be talking about John here with his next point. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and guess that he is.

This notion that Jesus was divine again be careful in the ancient world you could be god but you’re not God big difference you could be god, divine but you’re not Zeus very important there was a tiering of the gods.

Nobody should deny there are tiers of gods in the ancient world. People called different people gods. Emperors get called god. Key individuals too, but this is not what the New Testament writers were doing.

We know this because for a Jew, there was one God. Also, we know they are not taking a pagan approach here because they are quoting the Old Testament passages about the one true God and saying this is Jesus. It’s clear this is either true, or blasphemous. There was no middle ground for how pagans spoke about deities. Everything in the New Testament gets grounded in the Old Testament, not pagan practices.

Rabbi Tovia Singer may believe that, or want his viewers to believe that, but that’s not true.

Deflating Rabbi Tovia Singer’s Theory About John’s Gospel

Let me slow things down for a second.

Rabbi Singer thinks John is borrowing from a different writer…

Paul! 😯 😮 

He thinks Paul exalted Jesus to God and John is copying him but the other gospels are not.

Look at what he says here,

Very intriguing that Paul gives us a fairly high Christology. Paul’s letters are all dated to the fifties and that high Christology that we find in Paul’s letters um are not to be found in the synoptic Gospels Matthew Mark and Luke who did not have that Christology they didn’t have that high Christology but we again find in the book of John

I’ve already shown how all the Gospels align in the teaching Jesus is God. But I can thank Rabbi Singer for acknowledging that a high Christology is early in Christianity.

By admitting Paul teaches Jesus is God (high Christology), he shows there’s a common thread through Paul and the Gospels. This article is not about dating of the New Testament writings, so I won’t say more.

He did talk about one of Paul’s clearest passages about Jesus being God in his video (Philippians 2:5-11). His interpretation was not the best, but I’m not going to cover it in this article for sake of time either.

The Development Theory Doesn’t Make Sense

The point Rabbi Singer is trying to make is there is a development in the writings in the New Testament. For years people have argued like Rabbi Singer.

They say Mark doesn’t show Jesus is God. So their theory is, as time is passing from Mark to John, Jesus now becomes God. Meaning the traditions got exaggerated over time.

It’s like when we used to play the telephone game in school. You hear a message from someone, and then you tell someone, and then they tell someone. And by the end of the line it’s something completely different. That’s the point they are making.

This does not make much sense though. If Paul writes first and teaches Jesus is God, then the synoptics don’t teach this, then John teaches this, this isn’t development.

That means Jesus was viewed as God very early. Not Late!

Paul is a spanner in the works for their theory.

It sounds good in theory to people who don’t know better. But when we examine the claims, it doesn’t survive even a little bit of pressure. The development theory doesn’t hold much weight, but the rabbi gives an example of why it does…

So John is picking up on Paul whereas the synoptics are not another example of that just one other example of that is the that that Jesus is the Lamb so we find that in 1st Corinthians 5 7 as an example he’s our Passover and then we find it in John but it’s completely absent in the synoptic Gospels in Matthew Mark and Luke.

Jesus Is The Lamb In The Synoptics

Some of these statements are mind-boggling to me.

Let’s start by reading this verse in 1st Corinthians he mentioned. Let’s see what it says for clarity.

Purge out therefore the old leaven that you may be a new lump as you are unleavened for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.

This verse says Christ is the sacrifice in our place. This again is like the Bible teacher example I gave you earlier.

An allusion to Jesus being the sacrifice is in Matthew 1:21

And she shall bring forth a son and you shall call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins.

Jesus will save people from their sins. Matthew alludes to Jesus being the Passover lamb here, then he develops this through his Gospel.

Look at Matthew 8:16-17 for example.

When the evening was come they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils and he cast out the spirits with his word and healed all that was sick that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.

Jesus is the one who takes the sicknesses the diseases and cleanses us. He’s the Passover lamb that saves by his blood.

In Mark 10:45 Jesus says this,

For even the son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a Ransom for many.

His life’s given as a ransom, a payment for others. This is all Passover language.

Another passage you could look at is Mark 14:24 which is even clearer.

Luke talks about Jesus as the Passover during their Passover meal in Luke 22:19-20 it says,

And he took bread and gave thanks and break and gave unto them saying this is my body which is given for you this do in remembrance of me likewise also the cup after supper saying this cup the New Testament in my blood which is shed for you.

This is all Passover typology and reference. Jesus’ blood saves, like the lamb’s blood did in the first Passover in Exodus. Luke’s other book Acts also has these themes too.

Rabbi Singer goes on in the video to reject this passage as not genuine. Some argue Luke 22:19-20 isn’t genuine scripture because, some manuscripts don’t have these verses. But these verses are in manuscripts in different parts of the world. It’s much harder to get scripture in different places like this, if it’s not genuine.

Rabbi Tovia Singer Gets Back To James

Now Rabbi Singer tries to steer the ship back to the original point about James but says one more thing first.

Getting back to your point these books didn’t read each other I mean Luke didn’t read Matthew if he would have he would have written his um infancy narrative somewhat differently wouldn’t he have.

Luke opens his Gospel by saying other people have written Gospels before him. Based on history, Matthew and Mark are clear examples of this. He doesn’t say directly, but the fact we call them the synoptics, this is the most logical answer.

It’s easier to argue for development when you have authors unaware of each other. Rabbi Singer gives an example of the two birth stories of Jesus in Matthew and Luke. I won’t cover that here because I did a whole article & video on this, engaging with Dr Bart Ehrman making this argument previously.

Rabbi Singer’s View Of James

The rabbi gets back to James now and this is what he says,

Who wrote James you’re quite right, whoever wrote the book of, his name could have been James, he says he’s James um who wrote it I don’t know but he had a very different view than Paul did right as far as um being observant keeping commandment and when James said let no one say when he is tempted and I’m tempted by God because God cannot be tempted with evil and therefore he doesn’t tempt anyone so it doesn’t fit it doesn’t fit cause it’s a completely different author with a completely different view utterly different view.

James and Paul go hand in hand when you understand who they are writing to. James is encouraging believers to live godly, love fulfills the law. This is the same thing Paul says to believers.

Paul’s letters like Romans also cover things for people who are not believers though. Once you understand this, there’s no contradiction or problems.

I want to quote one more thing. This highlights the point Rabbi Singer wants to get across, and he also mentions James saying God is not tempted one last time here.

It’s not a departure from Judaism it’s in it is in rebellion against the prophets of Israel and the God of Israel and that’s why you have this highly variegated theology rather than one that’s consistent I mean how could god be tempted how ridiculous.

James Believed His Brother Jesus Was God

I want to make 2 points.

First as Christians we don’t believe Jesus gets tempted as God, He became flesh and His human nature gets tempted as passages like Hebrews say. But He was sinless. Christians believe in Christ’s two natures. That’s why He’s the GodMan.

In Genesis 18, God appears to Abraham. Some Jewish commentators (like Rashi) talk about God visiting him as he recovered from circumcision. But God in that passage appeared as a man, He walked, He ate, He drank, He was in a finite location, He appeared to Abraham in a physical location at his tent door.

We can’t turn around and say how could God eat, or drink, or walk, or be in one place. He did this because he appeared in this form for His own reasons. That did not stop Him from being God.

In the same way, God in the New Testament takes on flesh, and eats. and drinks etc

Second point is, James believed Jesus is God too. In chapter 2 of his letter, he does the same thing the Gospel writers do. He calls Jesus the Lord of Glory. This is a title for God alone, this kind of verse would remind a Jew of passages like Psalm 29.

Look at how the Psalm begins…

Give unto the Lord O ye mighty give unto the Lord glory and strength give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness the voice of the Lord upon the waters the God of glory thundereth the Lord is upon many waters.

The more you understand the Old Testament the clearer you see what the disciples are doing in the New Testament. That’s why you should read my article next on what many Jews get wrong about Jesus, God bless.

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He’s learning to serve the Christian community better and better each day through his teaching on the Bible (both theory and practical application for everyday life). Israel Ikhinmwin loves to share the truth of God’s Word and be an example for other Christians looking to develop your faith.

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