In the early 1970’s the Associated Press ran an interview with my late father, Dr. David Neiman. The main theme of the article was that Christians need to understand Judaism in order to be better Christians. The column appeared in major papers across the country, particularly in the Bible belt. One paper featured a picture of my father with the caption “Jesus Scholar”.
At the end of the 1990’s, my father moved out to Los Angeles. He kept busy teaching at a variety of colleges and studying Talmud with the Orthodox Jewish community of the Fairfax district. One of the strangest memories I have of this time was when I found out he was involved in a lawsuit at the local Beth Din, or Jewish Rabbinical court. The issue: An Orthodox Jewish man was working on publishing a book by my father. The conflict arose over passages that depicted Jesus in a positive light. My father, stood by his words, and refused to make the changes. He was at the Beth Din to get out of his contract. In effect, he was in rabbinical court in Los Angeles to defend Jesus.
The following audio segment of Dr. David Neiman is an excerpt from a lecture on the Jewish character of Jesus. This portion explores passages from the New Testament that paint a portrait of Jesus as a normal First Century Jewish boy from a modest, traditional Jewish family.
Jesus, the man, was a product of his times and his environment. The words of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, are replete with references from Jewish literature, both traditional texts and popular works of the 1st Century AD such at Pirkei Avot, “The Wisdom of the Fathers”.
The people of Judea in the 1st century were split into a number of factions that crossed the political spectrum. Jesus’ words indicate that his attention was focused on preaching to his fellow Jews. Jesus’ world outlook was apocalyptic. He had a vision of an upcoming conflict that promised to be very violent.