Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (Sort of): One Converso’s View of Jesus

Last year I did a series of posts on Jewish views on Jesus. Here, in an article by David Graizbord, is a view of Jesus, by an early seventeenth century converso, liable to perplex both Jews and Christians. Espiritu Santo was born a Jew in Marrakesh but converted first to Islam and then to Christianity. He was living in Spain when the Inquisition picked him up on charges of sorcery, crypto-Islam and crypto-Judaism. According to Espiritu Santo:

… the one who had come [namely, Jesus] was [a Messiah] of the tribe of Joseph; and that the messiah of the tribe of David [sic] had yet to come, and that he [the defendant] would go to heaven [if he was burned], and that when Jesus [sic] came to judge the living and the dead, the first he would absolve would be the Jews, because Christ is the son of God, and he is below the Father at [the Father’s] right hand, and that only the Father is a true God, because even though there is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit, only one God shall judge – and that is the Father. The Son is [merely] a prophet [of God], as when a master sends his servant; and the old Law of Moses is written and adorned with diamonds … and it is written by the hand of God, adonai, God of Israel … and that in the Law of Jesus Christ there are many images, and that, there not being more than one true God, he did not believe in the [images], neither in the crosses, and that he [the defendant] was a Jew, of the stock of Aaron the priest, and that [earlier] when God had inspired him to turn to the holy Catholic faith, the reason that he had converted to it was that he understood that it and the Law of Moses were one; but afterwards, having recognized that they are opposed, he wished to keep the Law of Moses … because there is no more than one God, who is a pearl and a diamond that cannot be cut.
(David Graizbord “Historical Contextualization of Sephardi Apostates and Self Styled Missionaries of the Seventeenth Century.” Jewish History 19(2005): pg. 300.)

So here we have a Jew who believed that Jesus was a messiah, just not the Messiah, and that he was part of a Trinity, though an Arian Trinity. He believed that Jesus came to save people from sin just not the same sorts of sins that the inquisitors had in mind. He converted to Christianity even though he still believed in Mosaic Law and was prepared to die for that belief. So where does this Espiritu Santo fit in?

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