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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Maimonides Accidentally Argues that Jesus is Messiah

Maimonides is one of Judaism's greatest opponents of Christianity. He believed it unacceptable for a Jew to convert, and that Jews who do should be shunned. However, Maimonides gives an argument which actually supports the claim that Jesus is Messiah, an argument that I have not heard any Christian give.

In his Laws of Kings, Maimonides writes:
The thoughts of the Creator of the world are not within the power of man to reach them, ‘for our ways are not His ways, nor are our thoughts His thoughts.’ And all these matters of Jesus of Nazareth and that of the Ishmaelite who arose after him are only to straighten the way of the king Messiah and to fix the entire world, to serve God as one.
Maimonides argued that Christianity and Islam will help the world eventually submit to Israel as God's sovereign nation. What if Maimonides was right for the wrong reasons?

Let's assume that the rabbis are right and that some future Jewish ethnic and religious leader (let's call him David Goldstein) came to power and did what the rabbis said that Messiah would do. He will rebuild the temple, reinstitute the priesthood, be anointed king of Israel, and subdue the world to Israel's sovereignty.

How will the Christian and Islamic nations react to this new King David?

Since this person is not a Muslim, and not a recognized prophet of Islam, the Muslim world is not just going to obey his orders. If he tries to rebuild the temple on the Temple Mount, he will be chiseling Muslim territory, which is an act of war under Sharia. Islam also expects a Mahdi leader to subdue the world to Sharia Law in preparation for the last Day of Judgment.

So Islam will not accept such a leader, so David Goldstein will have to subdue the Muslim world by force, until the true believers in Islam are dead, and the moderates eventually submit to Goldstein's power, at the cost of considerable bloodshed.

Christianity will be even worse, since anyone other than Jesus who fulfills these prophecies will be labeled immediately as the Antichrist, and as a lying, trickster servant of the Devil. Such a person must be opposed to the last man. Therefore, in such a scenario, Goldstein will have to wage war against the Christian world until all resistance is stamped out as well.

So theoretically, there could be a future Jewish Messiah who brings the world in submission to Israel, but any such person will have to kill a half billion people or more in order to achieve these ends.

Now let's assume that Jesus is Messiah. In both Christianity and Islam, Jesus is a prophet, or even greater than a prophet. Both religions require that its adherents do whatever he says. If Jesus returned to Israel, and told the world that they must submit to Israel and allow the new temple to be built, the next thing you would hear is 3 billion people bending the knee in submission to Israel, without anyone having to fire a single shot.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Correcting Dovid Gottlieb: Christianity's Prediction of the Jewish Exile

I have been reading Dovid Gottlieb's Living Up to the Truth. It is a propaganda packet, about 100 pages long, and arguing that Rabbinic Judaism is uniquely confirmed by the facts of history. Gottlieb is not a historian. His expertise is in mathematical logic, a subject he taught for 10 years.

As a non-historian, he is not familiar with the conventions of history. For example, the practice of history is the practice of matching explanations to hard data. There is a certain amount of hard data, such as artifacts and ancient texts, and the goal of the historian is to evaluate rival explanations on criteria such as explanatory power, explanatory scope, plausibility, ad hoc-ness, accord with accepted beliefs, and superiority to rival hypotheses.

Like a magician, Gottlieb exploits the ignorance of his target audience. Because they are not practicing historians, Gottlieb can run a lot of tricks on his audience that he would not be able to run against experts in the field.

The "Prediction"
Gottlieb's first blunder is his strawman attack on Christian theology. Here is the relevant section from Chapter 2:
It is fine to make predictions, even unique predictions, but if they do not come true, then, of course, you are in serious trouble. Certain Christian sources assert that the reason the Jews are in exile is because they have not accepted the Christian Messiah. They predict that the Jews will remain in exile until they convert. Now, that is the right sort of prediction, that the Jews will be in exile until they accept the Christian messiah. Here, at least the logic was right because that is a prediction that no one else would credit. No Hindu would have any reason whatsoever to expect Jews will stay in exile until they accept the Christian Messiah. He would have no reason to believe that. Nor would a Buddhist, a Moslem, a Shintoist, a Taoist, a Confucianist, or an Atheist. Certainly Jews will not credit it. So that is the right sort of prediction to make: a prediction that no one else will credit.

But, since 1948 (the formation of the state of Israel), that prediction has been wearing a bit thin. All right, in 1948 we didn’t have Jerusalem. Since 1967 (Israel conquered Jerusalem in the Six Day War) it has been wearing even thinner. Still, there was always the Soviet Union holding on to its Jews making it impossible for those Jews to come. So there was a last ditch hold-out position. In the last few years even that has disappeared. (There has been massive Soviet Jewry immigration into Israel since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Jews in Russia are free to leave.) This prediction has simply come out false. The fact that there are Jews who refuse to leave their penthouses in Manhattan in order to come to a smaller dwelling in Tel Aviv could not exactly be regarded as a punishment. That is not what the Christian writings predict. They say that we will be punished in exile for not accepting the Christian Messiah, and that has not happened.
In conversation with Gottlieb, he has explained this passage.
Christian sources predict that the Jews will remain in exile until they convert to Christianity. Now this prediction, if it came true, would certainly be selective evidence in favor of Christianity. No alternative to Christianity would make such a prediction.
But does Christianity even make such a prediction?

The first part of the argument is correct. Early Christian sources do state that the Jews were exiled from the land for the crime of not believing in Jesus. Even Jesus himself predicted such an exile in his Parable of the Tenants (even the extreme-left Jesus Seminar considers this an authentic saying of the Historical Jesus). In this parable, a landowner goes on a long journey and leaves the land to be worked by tenants. He sends servants to collect the rent money, and the tenants kill the servants, one after another. The landowner then sends his own son, and the tenants kill him as well. What will the landowner do when he finally catches the tenants? He will throw them off the property and give it to someone else.

This parable is generally interpreted as the landowner being God The Father, the vineyard being Israel, the tenants being the Jewish leaders, the servants being God's prophets, and Jesus being the landowner's son. God will exile the Jewish nation and give the land to someone else.

That is where the similarity ends. There is no claim that the Jewish return is in any way dependent upon Jewish belief in Jesus. In fact, the book of Matthew implies the opposite. First, the Jews would receive the land back, and later on come to believe in Jesus.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matthew 23:37-39)
Here, Jesus is saying that he would not return until Jerusalem accepts him. But Jerusalem has to be populated with Jews for this prophecy to make any sense, so the Jews will return to Jerusalem, and then later on will accept him, according to Matthew.

Where Gottlieb Gets it Wrong
Gottlieb's claim is about Christian tradition, rather than the Bible. And here, the evidence goes against him even more. The church fathers generally believed in replacement theology, which is to say that the church is now the legal entity "Israel" mentioned in the Mosaic Covenant. The Jewish people as a group, on this view, do not have any special status.

I asked where any of the church fathers predicted that the Jews would remain in exile unless they converted to Christianity. I got the following quote from a book by Edward H. Flannery called The Anguish of the Jews.
Augustine saw the Jews as living proof of the truth of Christianity, noting that their eternal wandering and permanent expulsion from the Land of Israel firmly proved that God had rejected them. Jews were not to be killed, said Augustine, because they had a role to play as the Church’s “slave-librarian.
This is a secondary source, so one would need to prove this from a primary source. The closest reference I could find in Augustine was from his City of God, book 4, chapter 34:
And if they had not sinned against Him with impious curiosity, which seduced them like magic arts, and drew them to strange gods and idols, and at last led them to kill Christ, their kingdom would have remained to them, and would have been, if not more spacious, yet more happy, than that of Rome. And now that they are dispersed through almost all lands and nations, it is through the providence of that one true God; that whereas the images, altars, groves, and temples of the false gods are everywhere overthrown, and their sacrifices prohibited, it may be shown from their books how this has been foretold by their prophets so long before; lest, perhaps, when they should be read in ours, they might seem to be invented by us. But now, reserving what is to follow for the following book, we must here set a bound to the prolixity of this one.
Augustine also has a passage in Book 18, chapter 46:
But the Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him, because it behooved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and were dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ.

And very many of them, considering this, even before His passion, but chiefly after His resurrection, believed on Him, of whom it was predicted, “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved.” But the rest are blinded, of whom it was predicted, “Let their table be made before them a trap, and a retribution, and a stumbling-block. Let their eyes be darkened lest they see, and bow down their back always.” Therefore, when they do not believe our Scriptures, their own, which they blindly read, are fulfilled in them, lest perchance any one should say that the Christians have forged these prophecies about Christ which are quoted under the name of the sibyl, or of others, if such there be, who do not belong to the Jewish people.

 For us, indeed, those suffice which are quoted from the books of our enemies, to whom we make our acknowledgment, on account of this testimony which, in spite of themselves, they contribute by their possession of these books, while they themselves are dispersed among all nations, wherever the Church of Christ is spread abroad. For a prophecy about this thing was sent before in the Psalms, which they also read, where it is written, “My God, His mercy shall prevent me. My God hath shown me concerning mine enemies, that Thou shalt not slay them, lest they should at last forget Thy law: disperse them in Thy might.”

Therefore God has shown the Church in her enemies the Jews the grace of His compassion, since, as saith the apostle, “their offense is the salvation of the Gentiles.” And therefore He has not slain them, that is, He has not let the knowledge that they are Jews be lost in them, although they have been conquered by the Romans, lest they should forget the law of God, and their testimony should be of no avail in this matter of which we treat. But it was not enough that he should say, “Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law,” unless he had also added, “Disperse them;” because if they had only been in their own land with that testimony of the Scriptures, and not every where, certainly the Church which is everywhere could not have had them as witnesses among all nations to the prophecies which were sent before concerning Christ.

Augustine describes the exile, but does not make any predictions about when or even if the Jews would return to the land. The claim that the Jews have been stripped of the Covenant is not a claim that the Jews will never return to the land.

It does not follow that if the reason for the exile exists, that the exile itself will also exist. This inference is based on a rehabilitation theory of justice, where the purpose of punishment is to reform the person. This theory is popular in modern times, but was not popular at all in the days of the early church.

I have asked several of my contacts who are experts in church history, and none of them can find anything in the church fathers making any predictions about whether or not the Jews would be able to return to the land, establish a sovereign state, build a temple, offer sacrifices, anoint a king, etc.

The church fathers weren't in the business of making predictions about whether the Jews would return to the homeland or not.

Where Gottlieb Gets it Right
Nobody but the Jews would have predicted that the Jews as a people group would one day return to the land and establish a sovereign nation-state. This should give us pause to think about replacement theology. If God has replaced the Jews with the church, then why has this group been preserved, and why did God allow the Jews to establish a sovereign nation state after nearly 2,000 years in exile?

I think the best solution is one that acknowledges the role of Jesus and the New Covenant, and also recognizes that Israel is still the Jews, and the church is a different entity, a sort of new Israel. Jews who believe in Jesus are dual citizens.

After a long conversation with Gottlieb himself, I found an actual counterexample to his claim in Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho:
And what the people of the Jews shall say and do, when they see Him coming in glory, has been thus predicted by Zechariah the prophet: “I will command the four winds to gather the scattered children; I will command the north wind to bring them, and the south wind, that it keep not back. And then in Jerusalem there shall be great lamentation, not the lamentation of mouths or of lips, but the lamentation of the heart; and they shall rend not their garments, but their hearts. Tribe by tribe they shall mourn, and then they shall look on Him whom they have pierced; and they shall say, Why, O Lord, hast Thou made us to err from Thy way? The glory which our fathers blessed, has for us been turned into shame. 
 This passage says that the Jews will return to Jerusalem first, and then later come to belief in Jesus. This is the exact opposite of what Gottlieb asserts, that according to Christianity, the Jews will not return to the land until after believing in Jesus.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Star Wars Canon

Not long ago, Disney bought out the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas for $4 billion. Since they wanted to make a sequel trilogy, they declared the entire Star Wars Expanded Universe to be non-canon so that they could have a fresh start. This radical new direction angered fans of the Expanded Universe, whose favorite characters like Thrawn and Mara Jade were considered non-canonical (and no, Mara Jade is not listed in the Return of the Jedi Special Edition credits, so the character is not in the movie).

But was this a radical new direction?

I started becoming involved in Star Wars message board discussions pretty heavily after the Phantom Menace was released. When discussing characters from the movies, it was inevitable that the controversy would surface as to whether we had to take into consideration the Expanded Universe in order to interpret the movies. In other words, was the Expanded Universe canon?

The debate raged on for years, with both sides adamant in their positions. At some point (this was in the year 2000), I decided to  write to Lucasfilm Ltd. and ask them what their official stance was on the matter.

After about two months, I received a letter from Howard Roffman, President of Lucas Licensing About a week after that, I received another letter from Sue Rostoni of Lucas Licensing. Both letters make it absolutely clear that the Expanded Universe was always considered non-canon, just as the Star Trek comic books are non-canon to that series.

I got excited and posted the letters verbatim on the forums. Can you guess how many people changed their minds after reading two letters directly from Lucas Licensing?


Not one person changed their mind on the issue. The people who believed the Expanded Universe to be canon doubted the authenticity of the letters. I then challenged any of them to write to Lucas Licensing themselves, and they would have direct confirmation that the official position of Lucasfilm was that the Expanded Universe was non-canon.

Not one person took me up on that offer.

This is the problem with arguing over the Internet. Most of the people who are willing to argue with you have already make up their minds on the issue, and will not change them no matter what the evidence.

I was also surprised that no one had done this before. Why would two groups argue until they are blue in the face over an issue that can be verified directly?

So I think two lessons can be drawn from this experience. First, if you want to change people's minds, you need to go after people who are not fully committed on a certain issue. People who will argue with you over the Internet are rarely in that camp. You need to engage people in real life, and strike up what might be awkward conversations over these issues. Often it's the only way to reach this group.

Secondly, we all need to make sure that we are not this adamant on controversial issues. Theology is one issue where the stakes are too high for anyone to afford the luxury of denialism. If the evidence strongly supports one position, you've got to embrace it even if it is uncomfortable.

One rabbi that I met said that he wonders how someone like the Pope could be so educated and yet believe these things about Jesus. When I said that I also believe these things about Jesus, and can defend them against objections, he was not interested in hearing any explanation of my position, or a defense of it. His mind was made up, and he did not want to talk to me about it.

Many Christians ask "why don't Jews believe in Jesus?" This is an ignorant and stupid question, and I wish Christians would stop asking it. A better question is "why aren't Jews allowed to believe in Jesus?"

Many of the rabbis that I have encountered appear at first glance to love God and to want to serve him. But they are so hostile to the idea that God manifested himself in the person of Jesus, that no amount of evidence would ever convince them of that. Even if Jesus were to descend from heaven, glowing in white robes, surrounded by legions of angels worshiping him as God, they would still not bend the knee to him. Why would you ever trust such individuals with your spiritual future?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cooking a Kid in its Mother's Milk

Exodus 23:19 states that "You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk."

The rabbis explain that this means that one cannot you cannot cook any milk and any meat together, you cannot eat milk and meat together, and you cannot derive benefit from milk and meat which have been cooked together.

However, there is a passage in the Shuhchan Aruch describing a situation in Jewish Law.

In Yoreh Deah, 87:9, it states: "Chalav found in the kaiva (stomach) of an animal 24) is not chalav and it is mutar to cook with basar even if it is tzalul (liquid)"

Translated into English, this states that milk found in the stomach of an animal is not considered milk, and therefore is allowed to be cooked and eaten with meat, even if this not digested.

This leads to an interesting hypothetical situation. According to the rabbis, it is permissible on a biblical level to feed a young goat its mother's milk, kill the goat, and then cook the goat's meat in the milk taken from the stomach of the goat.

While the Rama states that the rabbis have a custom not to allow this, they say that it is biblically permissible, in this situation, to literally boil a young goat in its mother's milk!

You'd think if there were one thing that this passage would not permit, it's boiling a young goat in its mother's milk. But rabbinic tradition does not really follow the original intent of the text. Archaeologists have discovered that an ancient Canaanite fertility ritual was to boil a young goat in it's mother's milk. The rabbis, not knowing the original context, not only reinterpreted the text so that it prohibited an entirely different kind of activity, but also in a way that allowed a Jew to do the very thing that the text is forbidding in the first place.

Don't ever let a rabbi say to you: "We go with the Bible. We do what the Bible says." The rabbis do not care what the Bible says. They only care about what tradition says that the Bible says, turning the text into putty, which the rabbis can mold into whatever form they desire.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Maimonides 13 Principles of Faith: 4. God as Creator

4. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is the first and the last.

This principle states that God is before all things, and that he created all that is not God, and not from anything.

Abraham Ibn Ezra said that the creation account only refers to the sublunar world, since the heavenly bodies are eternal in his commentary on Genesis, as well as in his commentary on Daniel. In the latter Ibn Ezra states that the heavenly bodies do not begin or end. Many of the rabbis interpret this as a denial of creation ex nihilo, such as Levi ben Abraham, R. Nissim ben Moses, R. Joseph ben Eliezer Bonfils, R. Ezra Gatigno, R. Isaac Abarbanel, R. David Arama, dn R. Joseph Solomon Delmedigo.

According to R. Samuel Ibn Tibbon, the four elements are eternal. Gersonides said that the world was made from formless pre-existing matter. Gersonides even said that cration ex nihilo is imposible.

R. Shem Tov Falaquera also believed taht creation was from pre-existing eternal matter.

R. Abraham Abulafia, R. Hasdai Crescas, and R. Joseph ibn Kaspi argued that God continually creates the world, holding it in existence, from eternity past.

Even Maimonides himself seemed to hold two different views on the matter. In Hilchot Yesodai Hatorah, Maimonides argued taht God is the First Existent, and is the being upon which all else depends. There is no mention of creation ex nihilo.

The Guide of the Perplexed discusses the Platonic position, and Maimonides concludes that both the creation ex nihilo, and the Platonic view of an eternal world are both viable. Maimonides states that there is no religious reason to reject the Platonic view.

According to the Maimonidean scholar Warren Zev Harvey, the Mishneh Torah reveals that the Aristotelian view that the world is eternal is required for the fulfillment of the divine commands to know God that that he is one, and that Abraham had come to know this view based on the premise that the world is eternal.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Curse of Jeconiah

J.P. Holding has an excellent response to the accusation that Jesus cannot be Messiah because Jeconiah's line was cursed:

Maimonides 13 Principles of Faith: 3. Divine Incorporeality

3. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, has no body, and that He is free from all the properties of matter, and that there can be no (physical) comparison to Him whatsoever.
In Rabbinic Judaism
In hopes of securing dhimmi status for Jews in Muslim lands, Maimonides contradicted much of Talmudic tradition by insisting that God not only has no physical form, but that God is incapable of entering into his own creation in physical form.

Marc Shapiro writes that in the Bible, God is described as a corporeal being, with a back, head, and hands. Nowhere in Tanakh is God described as incorporeal or invisible. Even Isaiah 40 can be interpreted (and has been in Jewish tradition) as affirming that God does have a form, but that it is unlike anything else. Deuteronomy 4 also does not explicitly deny that God has a form, but only that his form was not seen.

Adam walked with God in the garden, and hid from him after Adam had sinned. God appeared to Abraham near the oaks of Mamre. Moses and the 70 elders saw God with white hair and sapphire under his feet. Moses hid his face from God. Isaiah said that he saw God sitting on the throne, and was undone, since no one can see God and live.

The targumim tried to shy away from athropomorphism, but still included some of it. The Talmudic and midrashic literature of the rabbis was filled with anthropomorphism.

Indeed, rabbinic scholars such as Alon Goshen-Gottstein and Yair Lorberbaum state that there is not a single statement in all of rabbinic literature that categorically denies that God has a body or form. The rabbinic literature has many examples of God being described as corporeal, which are very difficult to interpret as mere metaphor.

Meir Bar-Ilan said that "In the first centuries Jews in the Land of Israel and in Babylon believed in an anthropomorphic God."

In the Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 6a, God is described as wearing tefillin.

In Leviticus Rabbah 34:3, Hillel tells his students that just as gentiles are ordered to take care of the images of kings, from which they receive their livelihood, so too was Hillel required to bathe and take care of the image of God.

In Avot d'Rabbi Natan, a prooftext is brought forth for why Adam was born circumcised, "because he was born in the image of God."

In Rosh Hashannan 24b and Avodah Zara 43b, a prooftext is brought forth for why it is illegal to make a portrait of a human face, because to do so would be to make a portrait of God's face.

Even R. Ishmael, who was known for de-emphasizing divine corporeality, still taught that God had five fingers in his right hand, and each had a purpose. One showed Noah what to do, another smote the Egyptians, another wrote the tablets, another showed Moses what to do, and the whole hand God used to ruin the children of Esau.

Midrash tanchuma states that the appearance of God was like devouring fire, but God turned away and hid from them, and therefore the people of Israel saw no manner of form.

In Genesis Rabbah, Rabbi Hoshaya said: When the Holy One, blessed be he, created Adam, the ministering angels mistook him for God." God then resolves the event by causing sleep to fall upon Adam, showing the angels that he was a mere mortal.

In Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Shimon said "When Isaac was bound to the altar, he lifted his eyes and saw the divine presence. But it is written that man may not see God and live. In lieu of death his eyes dimmed when he got older. From here you learn that blindness is considered as death."

R. Abraham ben David about Maimonides: "Why has he called such a person a heretic? There are many people greater and superior to him who adhere to such a belief on the basis of what they have seen in verses of Scripture, and even more in the words of those agadot which corrupt right opinion about religious matters."

R. Moses ben Hasdai Taku rejected Maimonides' third principle, and viewed God as being able to take on corporeal form at will. He stated that God sits on the throne literally, and that it is blasphemous to deny that this is the case. Taku interprets Isaiah 40:18 as stating nothing can be compared to God's greatness and splendor, not that nothing can be compared to God's physical form.

R. Solomon Simchah of Troyes said that God was described in human form in prophetic visions, and that this is not to be taken as metaphor. Rather, God actually assumed such a form.

There is good evidence that Rashi himself was a corporealist. He states that the heavenly Torah, measured to be 3,200 times the size of the universe, was measured by the tefach (or cubit) of God himself. Rashi interpret's God's hand in Exodus 7:5 as an actual, literal hand. He also states that for man to be created in God's image is to be created in God's physical form. Rashi then interprets likeness to be man's intellectual understanding. In other words, to be created in God's image and likeness is to be created in God's physical and non-physical aspects.

Rashi's grandson known as the Rashbam might also have been a corporealist. He argues that in Genesis 48:8, Israel both saw God and did not see God, because it is possible to see a person's shape without recognizing the features on his face.

R. Abraham ibn Daud says that masses of Jews believed God to be a material being.

Saadiah Gaon also said that many people beleived God to be a body. Even Maimonides himself said that the majority of the ignorant Jews held an anthropomorphic idea of God.

R. Yedaiah Bedershi writes that it is well-known that in previous generations that belief in God's corporeality was spread throughout virtually all of Israel.

Nachmanides wrote a famous letter to the French sages, who banned Maimonides' teachings on God's corporeality because they contradicted what the majority of French Torah scholars believed.

R. Samuel David Luzzatto openly rejected Maimonides on the issue of corporeality. He argued that the idea of an incorporeal God is what leads to heresy, and that Jews should return to the traditional belief that God is corporeal.

Maimonides is therefore forced to engage in hermeneutical waterboarding, which is to force the text to tell him what he wants to hear. He has to start with the dogma that God is incorporeal and read it into the text. He interprets the interaction with the 70 elders of Israel as the elders having a marred apprehension of God.

So what does one make of the corporealist passages in the Bible? Maimonides argues that the Bible does teach God's corporeality, since the masses need to be instructed in God's existence, and they could only do so on the idea that God is corporeal. The Torah has no choice but to compromise with reality in order to educate the people effectively.

On Maimonides' view, the Torah does not just mislead the people, it actually teaches a heretical doctrine because it is an improvement over the earlier state in which people did not believe in God.

This is absolutely fascinating. Maimonides is so desperate to defend his view, that he would accuse God of not being able to teach his people the truth in a way that they would believe it. Instead, God himself has to openly teach heresy, and one which denies people a share in the world to come because even that is better than atheism.

By implication, this means that belief in Jesus as God, even on Maimonides' view, cannot be worse than atheism, and therefore a Jew is better off in being a Christian than an atheist.

In Christian Theology
John 4:24 says that God is spirit. The definition of spirit by New Testament writers excludes the possibility of God being corporeal. After Jesus was resurrected, the disciples wondered if he was a spirit, and Jesus said that a spirit does not have flesh and bones as he does. 1 Timothy 1:17 also describes God as invisible.

In Contra Brown, Yisroel Blumenthal takes a position which is more at home with Christian theology than with Orthodox Jewish theology.
"In order to establish His relationship with the Jewish people God introduced Himself to the nation as a whole with the words “I am the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:2). This revelation gave the people to understand that there is no power aside from God (Deuteronomy 4:35). This revelation was God’s way of teaching us whom to worship, and through the process of elimination – who we cannot worship. If the being in question was not present at Sinai, then it does not deserve our devotion (Exodus 20:19, Deuteronomy 4:15). Scripture consistently warns against worshipping - “gods that neither you nor your fathers have known” (Deuteronomy 11:28, 13:3,7,14, 28:65, 29:25, 32:17, Jeremiah 7:9, 19:4) – or “that which I have not commanded” (Deuteronomy 17:3). The clear message of scripture precludes worship of a being that was not revealed to us at Sinai. It is on this basis that the Jewish people cannot accept a teaching which deifies a human being."
It is true that if the being was not present on Sinai, it does not deserve our devotion. Since the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one being (but not the same person), then any time that one is present, all three are present. To say that the Son was not present at Sinai is just to beg the question against the Trinity.

Jews will often argue that God is not a man, therefore Jesus cannot be God. This is like arguing that blue is not made of metal, therefore my car cannot be blue. It's a fallacy of predication.

A better way to understand the Incarnation is to think of the Shekinah. This is the glory of God which filled the Holy of Holies. it was visible and located in space and time, and yet it was worthy of worship.

One could say that God created a human body, or even a body-soul composite, and then indwelt that body with the Shekinah. Since the Sheknah is part of that person, then that person would be worthy of worship, in the same way that the temple itself was not worthy of worship, but the temple-Shekinah composite was worthy of such worship.

This position is far less extreme than what has been accepted in Orthodox Rabbinic Judaism, and so it has no grounds to dismiss the traditional Christian understanding of the Incarnation as a violation of Maimonides' Third Principle.

For further reading