The growing goodwill among peoples of different faiths, and the more friendly intermingling of men and women of various religious points of view in our land, particularly between Jews and Christians, have brought to the fore a question that has been asked repeatedly by Christians: "What is the liberal Jewish attitude toward Jesus Christ." There is a growing belief on the part of many Jews and non-Jews, that a knowledge of the answer would lead to more friendly relations between the two groups. It is felt that the misconception on the part of many -- both Christians and Jews, of what the latter think of Jesus, and a lack of the knowledge of the reason for the Jewish rejection of the Christ, create animosities which induce suspicion and even hate towards them. The road to mutual understanding is blocked by ignorance or unfriendliness on both sides, and until these are cleared away, there cannot be that mutual goodwill which so many so sincerely desire.
But the attitude of liberal Jews towards Jesus, the teacher, is not only a matter which interests Christians. There are many Jews as well, who need to be informed on his teachings. The days that were darkened by distorted views and traditions regarding him, unfortunately are not over, and it is important that the historical facts be known both to the Jews and to the Christians. Goodwill is a two-way street, and only those religious groups that have destroyed misunderstanding and prejudice can travel in it. There is a vast lack of knowledge regarding the role that Jesus played in his day and what he taught, and only a clear knowledge of his precepts, his desires and his aims can destroy the wall of suspicion and misunderstanding that ignorance has erected.
This is a study of the life, times and main teachings of Jesus, as well as of the prinicpal teachings of Paul, and a statement of the attitude of ancient and modern Jews toward them.
For nearly nineteen hundred years a conflict has waged between the the two great western mother and daughter religions -- and has determined the attitudes of their followers. That conflict resulted in indescribable suffering, and has not yet been satisfactorily resolved. But just as we find an evolutionary process in nature, so too, do we find it in the development of religious thought, though not all stages of this development are of a progressive nature. Just as we find reactionary periods in political and economic life, so are there periods of decline and even retrogression in the development of religions. The science of Comparative Religion teaches us that research, changing circumstances and new conditions of living have their effect both upon the attitudes towards religious questions and upon interpretations of theological teachings.
Let us consider first the teachings of Jesus. The remarkable role that Jesus has been made to play in our civilization, makes it difficult to believe that his life and death were so inconspicuous in his generation that his contemporaries took little or no notice of them. Yet this is a fact!1 He lived during one of the most turbulent periods of Jewish history. It was the period that followed the establishment of the second commonwealth, and its final dissolution due to the quarrels of the later Maccabean and