Testimonials and Reactions to
The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus

by Nehemia Gordon

Originally posted to the Karaite Korner Newsletter
September 30, 2005

Earlier this week I responded to accusations from a Messianic Rabbi against Karaites in general and me in particular. Since I released my book The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus nearly a year ago I have been the target of many accusations coming from all sides. I have been accused of being a Christian missionary by Rabbanites and of being an anti-Missionary by Messianic Rabbis. I have been accused of writing my book just to promote Karaite Judaism by Christians and accused of tarnishing the name of Karaism by some Karaites. However, these negative reactions are exceptions to the rule. Overall, the responses to my book have been very positive. I learned a long time ago that you just cannot please everyone all of the time. Nor should you! There will always be naysayers. In previous posts I have focused on negative criticism. In this post I want to balance out the picture by giving voice to the positive reactions to my book.

Before I published the book I was most concerned about the reaction it would receive from my fellow Karaites. Would they tar and feather me and drive me out of the Karaite community for writing about Yeshua? Part of my fear was that Karaites have historically been active in Jewish apologetics as part of the overall Jewish-Christian debate. So how would a book portraying the historical Yeshua in a positive light be received by my fellow Karaites? Before I went to press I sent the book to a well-known Karaite teacher who some might describe as an "anti-Missionary". I thought if anyone would denounce me for the book it would be this person. When I told him I had written a book about the "Hebrew Yeshua" I could detect the anger and disappointment in his voice. But I asked that he keep an open mind and read the book before he passed judgment. A few days later he contacted me with a completely different tone and asked me to immediately send him the Hebrew Matthew so he could learn more about the "Karaite aspects" of Yeshua's message!

My second greatest concern before I released the book was how my Rabbanite brothers would react. Although I am very openly critical of Rabbanism, I still consider Rabbanites to be my fellow Jews and really do not wish to offend them. Overall the reaction from Rabbinical Jews was very positive. The most common reaction from Rabbanites was that they had gained a better understanding of Yeshua. Most Rabbanites who read the book told me that they had understood Yeshua to be a "self-hating Jew" who "despised the Torah". After reading the book they realized that whether or not the Hebrew Matthew had any validity, it was clear even from the Greek Matthew that Yeshua was actually a good Jew who loved the Torah.

Before I released the book I really wasn't worried about how Christians and Messianics would respond. I genuinely thought that since they profess to believe in Yeshua they would be extremely happy to hear what Yeshua really taught, or in the worst case scenario would respectfully disagree with me. In retrospect I was very naive. In my book I uncover how Yeshua was challenging the power of the Pharisees of his day and some modern "Messianic Rabbis" have seen this as a challenge to their own power. I under-estimated the degree to which those in power make remaining in power an end unto itself, even more important than the search for truth. Still, this was only the reaction of a vocal minority. Most Christians and Messianics, and even Messianic Rabbis, responded very positively to my book. Some of the reactions were quite surprising to me.

On my speaking tours I had many people walk up to me and proclaim that my book had "strengthened their faith in Yeshua". Quite frankly, this made me feel awkward. My intention was neither to strengthen nor weaken anyone's faith in anything, only to examine what Yeshua really said based on the historical sources and the ancient texts.

One reaction I will never forget was from a young Catholic man wearing the largest wooden crucifix I have ever seen. This Catholic man walked up to me in tears, hugged me, and told me that he now understood that "Jesus Christ was really a Jew".

One common reaction was from Gentiles who told me they had "always hated Jews because of the Talmud" but now they realized that, "Jews are just as much victims of Pharisaism as anyone." When someone tells me something like this, I really don't know what to say. I'm glad you don't hate Jews anymore, but I am not so quick to forgive a lifetime of anti-Semitism.

The single most surprising reaction was from a Jordanian-Arab Christian minister who got up on the microphone after one of my presentations and proclaimed, "We all need to be reminded of the Jewish roots of our faith."

Below are excerpts from e-mails I have received which are typical of the most common reactions from Messianics and Christians. I have removed last names to protect people's privacy.

Nehemiah, I continue to be impressed with the spirit and tone of your messages... I hope you will not think ill of all who profess Yahushua as the Messiah because of the very poor characters and arguments of those who I believe severely misrepresent Him. I feel you have vindicated Yahushua from Christian errors more than anyone else I know. So many Messianics claim to be removed from the errors of Christianity while they continue in her spirit of intolerance. May Yahuah help us make straight paths for our feet as we seek and follow the Scripture truths in the spirit of truth. Yahuah bless you, Addar

Dear Mr. Gordon, Thank you so much for your wonderful presentation in Pascagoula, Miss. We have been trying to learn Torah since 1998. We have walked in Torah to the best of our knowledge. The information you presented that night has impacted our family in a mighty way. May Yahweh bless you for your efforts. We purchased the book and video and we are sharing this information with friends. Thank you once again for giving of yourself so that we might learn the true way to live Torah. Shalom, Cammy P.

Dear Nehemia, I received your book The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus this week and read it in two sittings this Sabbath Day. I want to thank you for your research and most of all for writing the book. I purchased a second copy today so that I can send mine to a friend in Florida. I'm convinced beyond any doubt of fundamental truth that Yeshua upheld the Old Testament and when there is a confusing verse or passage in the New Testament, I must research it out to see how it has been misrepresented (most likely not intentionally but ignorantly) in the translation being read. Allen

I enjoyed hearing you and Michael speak in Eugene Tuesday night. Your perspective helped me understand the Scriptures better. In search of truth, Judy A.

Shalom Nehemia, I recently enjoyed your appearance on Zola Levitt's cable T.V. show. I purchased your book and have completed "The Hebrew Yeshua vs. The Greek Jesus." Congratulations, this work is illuminating and impressive. I am a Messianic Nazarene. I do admire and respect your scholarship and your courage. Jeff G.

Nehemia, We so enjoyed last evening....what a blessing! I have read your book, The Hebrew Yeshua vs. The Greek Jesus. I read it in just a few hours, and will read it again and again I am sure. It is an amazing book! Sincerely, Jon and Renee L.

You totally bless those with whom you share your knowledge! Thank you, again, for your time with us in Salt Lake City. May Ya bless you and keep you. Baruch atta, Ach! Trish K.

Nehemia, thank you so much for your efforts and continued workings in helping others to see the difference in the one Yeshua that we should be understanding about. It really makes a difference in my life in a way that is good, specifically the purposes that Yeshua came to fulfill. To see his great love for the Father and how he ministered to the "lost sheep of Israel". Gary M.

Shalom Nehemia, I am a Messianic Nazarene and have been following your post for several years. I am saddened by the continual assault against you by my fellow believers in the Messiah. I have never seen you twist anything out of context in your posts. Conversely, I cannot say the same for some of the Messianic community. I want to say that not all of us feel this way toward you even though you do not accept the Messiah we follow. I have always found that the concept of a Rabbi and those who subscribe to it are at times very vindictive and insecure which causes them to lash out. John C

Nehemia. I am a believer in Y'shua, but I really cringe at being called a Messianic, because there is so much trash attached to that title... hopefully others of your belief don't judge true, torah observant Believers in Y'shua by what is going on in the Messianic community today. It is a mess. They have even been known to call themselves messy-anic. In peace Sandie B.

Shalom Nehemia, be at peace for it seems there is a lot of name calling and discord among Torah believing brethren. I thank the Holy One for some of your insights and your willingness to share with all who are interested. I am only one person, but your book and the interviews that I have shared with others have been so uplifting to our knowledge of the Holy One. May the Holy One bless and keep you and your house. shalom, Sonjia