As a Jew who grew up in New Jersey and attended public school with Italian Catholics, Mottel Baleston assumed Jesus was Italian.
“My expectation was that the New Testament was a book on how to persecute the Jews,” he recalls.
Since many Jews incorrectly identified Hitler as Christian, generations have warned their children about the dangers of Christianity (there is also a long history in the Middle Ages of Christians persecuting Jews).
But the Jewish rules didn’t appeal to young Mottel either.
“You’ve got to first shave your head, dress in black, you’ve got to wear a white robe, eat only kosher foods, you’ve got to become a vegetarian. You have to face Jerusalem and you’ve got to face Israel when you pray, you pray in Hebrew, and grow a nice big beard,” he remembers. “And if you do all of those outward cultural things, you’ll know the God of the universe.”
He was unconvinced.
“I’m thinking this is crazy that someone thinks that they can force their culture on God or that God is going to be impressed by what you wear, what direction you face, what you eat and all other sorts of things.”
It seemed to him that if there was a God out there who could be known, he should be able to be recognized no matter where he faced, no matter how he’s dressed, because he’s God.
Eventually, his curiosity got the better of him because of his doubts about Judaism. He went to the library and got a New Testament. To be sure, there was a dose of fear with reading a book that his elders had warned him was basically a manual of war on the Jews.
“My expectation was a book on how to persecute the Jews and it was something you should stay away from.”
But as he read the words of Jesus, Mottel was shocked. He discovered the Jesus was Jewish and that the New Testament was written almost entirely by Jews.
He couldn’t believe it.
“I was expecting to find a handbook on how to persecute the Jews,” he says.
But the first sentence (in Matthew) described Jesus as the son of David, and the son of Abraham — all who were Jewish. Read the rest: Jew thought New Testament was a manual of how to wage war on the Jews.