".....command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths....." 1 Timothy 1:3

Christian Myths

Myths that are symptoms of failure to comprehend the proper place of Gentiles and Israel in the purposes of God.

Some reveal Replacement theology and some reveal arrogance on the part of the Gentile church.

In the cathedral in Strasbourg there are statues depicting Church and Synagogue; the triumphant church and the blindfolded synagogue with a broken staff.

Such arrogance is unbecoming to the church of Jesus, is offensive to Jews, and serves as a reminder of the way the church has treated Jews down the centuries of their dispersion.

These replica statues are in the Museum of the Diaspora (Beth Hatesutsoth) in Tel Aviv.

Please do not read more into these comments than is actually there, but consider what changes we might make in the church.



1 - The disciples were ignorant hayseeds

Consider Peter preaching at Pentecost. Apart from preaching an amazing sermon and seeing Holy Spirit conviction fall on three thousand Jews, bringing salvation, Peter quoted sizeable chunks of Joel and two Psalms, as well as alluding to Daniel. Peter may have been a tradesman rather than a scholar but he knew his scriptures. As a Jew he would have heard the scriptures read in synagogue and school. Also He would have committed it to memory, since the ordinary working man could not have his own copy.

We Christians may have become spoiled by the easy availability of Bibles and unable to recall passages of the Bible (except favourite texts taken out of context) but we should not impute that to the Disciples. (or to present-day Jews )

Remember, Matthew/Levi and John both wrote Gospels and John wrote down his Revelation and pastoral letters.

The problem with this myth comes if we assume Peter's preaching ability fell on him magically with the Holy Spirit and we can just wait passively for that to happen to us. What material will there be for the Holy Spirit to use if we do not know our scriptures like Peter did?

2 - Pentecost was the birth of the Church

The Gentile church did not come into existence until much later and should not have come into being in that form at all. The body of the Messiah was supposed to be one new man; Jew and Gentile together. Initially the body was entirely Jewish and the faith was known as "the Way" and regarded as a branch of Judaism. What happened at Pentecost (Shavuot) was a major, once only Revival of God's faithful people. (His olive tree) The Spirit of God had come upon his people at various times but only for specific ministries. The Pentecost manifestation was new.

God's community of faith began with His covenant with Abram (Abraham) so that by him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (Genesis 12) This line continued through the Jewish saints of the Hebrew Bible (see Hebrews 6 v13 to 12 v5) until The Holy Spirit was poured out with tongues at Pentecost and God's olive tree went international by grafting in wild olive shoots from the Gentiles. (see Romans 9 to 11)

3 - Jesus brought revolutionary new teaching

Jesus' / Yeshua's teaching is only revolutionary if seen from a perspective that has not understood its roots in the Hebrew Bible. It was observed that He taught with authority, not as the Scribes and Pharisees, but not that he taught different stuff that did not come from the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus clearly brought these scriptures to life. See Rabbi Jesus

4 - Women were downtrodden until Jesus came

I fear this myth stems from seeing how Muslim women are treated in the Middle east and projecting backwards to assume that this applied in Israel in Jesus' day.

It could also be a spin-off of looking at the Bible through post-modern, secular, feminist spectacles which assume that women being equal means being the same. Men and women had different roles in the Jewish culture of Jesus' day. (and observant Jewish homes today) Women might have stayed at home but their importance as queen of the home with responsibility for raising children in the godly way should not be belittled. Women were / are treated with great respect. The end of Proverbs is often recited at family Shabbats, honouring the wife / mother.

See Women about several misconceptions about the place of women.

5 - Jewish faith is joyless

Have you seen the Jews rejoicing at Feasts, especially Simchat Torah? If so you would not accept this myth.

6 - Jews did/do not relate to God as Father

See A Prayer to Our Father, page 87-89. God is known as Father in Isaiah 63 vs 15-16, Jeremiah 3 v19 and Malachai 2 v10. Also, The Mishna mentions Jews praying "upon whom shall we rely? Upon our Father in Heaven." And there are more.

7 - Jewish faith was/is legalistic - under LAW but we are under grace

See Grace and Law

8 - The same crowd that welcomed Jesus as the Messiah on Palm Sunday called for his crucifixion the day before Good Friday.

The Bible does not say it was the same people.

This myth may have originated as someone's sermon point to bring out the fickle nature of the human heart, but it is not true, for reasons Dr Dwight Prior explained.

The word used for the crowd calling, "Crucify him" suggests a mob; perhaps we could call it a "rent a mob."

While Jesus was being arrested and taken before the illegal (nocturnal) court of the High Priest, the faithful who had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem would have been sleeping off their Passover Seder meal (four glasses of wine) and would only have been out and about in time to see Jesus, already condemned, on the way to his execution. All they could do then was lament what was happening (Luke 23 v27)

The danger of this myth is that it sits so well with Replacement Theology, "The Jews rejected Jesus, so God rejected the Jews. Period." Clearly this is not true, since, shortly after this, three thousand Jews responded to Peter's message, repented and were saved. (Acts 2)

9 - Saul of Tarsus changed his name to Paul when he became a Christian

Saul (Shaul), like many Jews not resident in Israel had a local name and a Hebrew name that was given to him at his circumcision. He did not cease to be a Jew when he met Yeshua, or change his name, but he used his Greek name when ministering among Greeks. One must not build replacement theology doctrines on this myth.

10 - Sunday School syndrome

Christianity tends to portray many Bible characters as children, presumably in order to make stories relevant to children. In the case of the binding of Isaac (the Akeda) this assumption if seriously adrift. Isaac was 33 at the time, a man in his prime, the same age as Jesus / Yeshua when he was sacrificed.

11 - Romantic Travel writing

Related to the above in the time honoured teacloth and sandals epics that are Sunday school plays.

Mark Twain visited the Holy land in 1867 and recounted his experiences in his famous and most enjoyable "Innocents Abroad." This book provides some interesting insights into Eretz Israel during the Roman Diaspora.

Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists--over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead-- about whose borders nothing grows but weeds,

He observed how forlorn and empty the land was, writing before the Jews started to return home.

But, care should be exercised in using Twain's writing as history. Mark Twain was a satirist; he loved to poke fun at people. One of his motivations for publishing this book was his impatience with the popular travel guides of his time, which described tourists sites with an exaggerated and romantic reverence that he found ridiculous.
Twain satirised these contemporary romantic travelogues and the associated art that still colour our perceptions of Bible characters as attired in tea-towels - as seen in Sunday school plays.

But by reading carefully one will notice how Twain too fell into assuming that the Arabs he saw were the descendants of the Bible characters and that they presented an accurate picture of how those Bible characters had looked. He appears to have completely overlooked the fact that these Bible characters were sopisticated Jews but he was observing Arabs living in squalour. This, unwittingly, aids those who would have us believe Jesus was a Palestinian.

Some more detailed observations on Innocents Abroad.

breakingisraelnews.com - ameicainpalestine.blogspot

Critical of Twain

hyperallergic.com - debrabooks

12 - Jesus never said he was the Messiah

We may not have the words, "I am the Messiah" in our translations of the Gospels, but reading them carefully one will fine plenty of occasions when his words could mean nothing else.

13 Purgatory

Where we go when we die is discussed elsewhere, but the Catholic church developed the teaching of "Purgatory" which is not supported by scripture.

God created man that he might possess his Creator forever in the beatific vision. Those who die in the state of enmity toward God are deprived of this happiness. Between these extremes are people who are neither estranged from God nor wholly dedicated to Him when they die. What will be their lot after death?

The response of faith is that nothing defiled can enter heaven (Rev 21:27), and therefore anyone less than perfect must first be cleansed before he can be admitted to the vision of God.
The Reformation was occasioned by a dispute over indulgences, with stress on indulgences for the souls in purgatory. Since that time, the existence of an intermediate state between earth and heaven has remained a stumbling block to reunion and its final acceptance by the Protestant churches would mean a reversal of four hundred years of divergence. (What if the Catholics recognised their error?)
Those in Purgatory
When we speak of the souls of the just in purgatory we are referring to those that leave the body in the state of sanctifying grace and are therefore destined by right to enter heaven. Their particular judgment was favorable, although conditional: provided they are first cleansed to appear before God. The condition is always fulfilled.

The poor souls in purgatory still have the stains of sin within them. This means two things. First, it means that the souls have not yet paid the temporal penalty due, either for venial sins, or for mortal sins whose guilt was forgiven before death.
What about our complete forgiveness (only) through the work of Jesus?

The Catholic practice of offering prayers and sacrifices for the dead is known as offering suffrages. These suffrages are offered both by the individuals and by the Church. They are intended to obtain for the poor soul, either partial or total remission of punishment still to be endured.

The angels and saints in heaven can also help these souls in purgatory and obtain a mitigation of their pains. When they do so, the process is not by way of merit or of satisfaction, but only through petition. A study of the (Catholic) Church's official prayers reveals that saints and the angelic spirits are invoked for the Church Suffering (i.e., those in purgatory), but always to intercede and never otherwise.


In Catholic theology, Limbo (Latin limbus, edge or boundary, referring to the "edge" of Hell) is a speculative, non-scriptural idea about the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the Damned. Medieval theologians of western Europe described the underworld ("hell", "hades", "infernum") as divided into four distinct parts: Hell of the Damned,[2] Purgatory, Limbo of the Fathers or Patriarchs, and Limbo of the Infants. However, Limbo of the Infants is not an official doctrine of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic church appears to have had to devise these teachings in order to justify other non-biblical teachings and corrupt practices, like selling indulgences.

Hebrews 9:27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: KJV
My understanding of our standing at Judgment depends on our state of righteousness* at death. This righteousnessn is NOT the quantity of our good deeds, but our state of trusting in the completed atoning work of Jesus the Messiah in his death and resurrection. If we haven't got right with God by then - there is nothing anybody can do for us.

14 "once saved - always saved."

This is an evangelical idea, but it can not be supported in scripture. David Pawson wrote a whole book about this and pointed out, among other things, that most of Jesus' warnings about Hell were not to unbelievers, but to believers who might slip away from their saving trust. I was not saved (as a once only deal) when I came to faith, but I started being saved.


While tithing can be an excellent principle, one of the main proof texts for it is a mistranslation, possibly based on assumptions and traditions.

Genesis 14:18 (KJV)And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Many teach, as the NIV says, that Abraham gave him tithes. But this is an assumption imposed on the text. The KJV correctly translates the Hebrew as "he gave him". So who gave what to whom? Logically, since the story is of Abraham restoring to Mekizedek the goods that had been taken, at the same time as Lot had been captured, it makes sense that Melkizedek gave Abraham a tenth of that goods as a reward.

Some other assumptions challenged

Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg challenges various popular Christian interpretations in his new book, "JEWISH INSIGHTS INTO SCRIPTURE" - ISBN 9781981822041. You might find that you can't accept all his assertions, but it is always good to challenge long held and cherished assumptions.

Updated 25/08/19

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