How will Jewish readers (if there ever are any) react?

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EmilySC

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AS NOTED IN MY LAST POST BELOW: I HAVE BEEN CONVINCED BY THE RESPONSES ON THIS THREAD THAT PORTRAYING A MODERN-DAY JEWISH SECT AS THE BAD GUYS WOULD NOT BE ACCURATE, PLAUSIBLE, PROBABLE OR BELIEVABLE. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO RESPONDED.

In my YA paranormal thriller with a religious premise, the wine jar used to turn water into wine and the basket carried by the young lad to feed the ten thousand (Jesus's first and fourth miracles according to the book of John) are confiscated by decree of the Jewish high priest.

These 'relics' are later stolen, remain hidden for centuries, and are eventually to be restored to the Greek Orthodox Church.

Although it's fiction, I am wondering what kind of reaction I may receive if I portray a fictional modern-day Jewish sect (named The Scribes) as the group who wants to destroy the relics to keep them from being put on display for the world to see. In the book, the jar still turns water into wine and the basket can never be emptied.

My alternative is to let Judas Iscariot be the one who gathers up the relics and let another non-Christian group be hell-bent on destroying the relics.

Suggestions?
 
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StephanieFox

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A difficult call...

It's always tricky when you portray an existing group, in this case a Jewish group as the evil guys. Jews are still sensitive about this because, believe it or not, we're still accused of "killing our lord." This is a very sensitive issue and you'd have to write it very carefully.

Would it work to have the bad guys as a wacked-out Christian cult that you could make up? I don't want to get in the way of your creative process and you'd know best what would be necessary to make this story work.
 

Smiling Ted

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The Second Assumption

In my YA paranormal thriller with a religious premise, the wine jar used to turn water into wine and the basket carried by the young lad to feed the ten thousand (Jesus's first and fourth miracles according to the book of John) are confiscated by decree of the Jewish high priest.

Although it's fiction, I am wondering what kind of reaction I may receive if I portray a fictional modern-day Jewish sect (named The Scribes) as the group who wants to destroy the relics to keep them from being put on display for the world to see. In the book, the jar still turns water into wine and the basket can never be emptied.

My alternative is to let Judas Iscariot be the one who gathers up the relics and let another non-Christian group be hell-bent on destroying the relics.

Suggestions?

Hi, Emily.

There are two assumptions here: The first is that the Gospels are true; the second is that Jews want to nefariously destroy the news of Jesus' divinity.

The first assumption isn't a problem. Either people believe in Christianity or they don't. But the second assumption is very offensive. It has been the excuse for Christian massacres of Jews for more than a thousand years.

It also just ain't true. Judaism in general is not a missionary religion. Jews don't compete with other religions for converts, or try to spread the Gospel of Judaism to the non-believer. We are not responsible for the way non-Jews relate to God (except by example), so there is no doctrinal reason to mess with Christian relics to attack Christian faith.

Also, Jews don't believe that miracles prove the validity of a faith - it is part of Jewish doctrine that both true and false prophets (e.g. Moses and Pharaoh's magicians) can perform them. So there's no theological reason for Jews to feel threatened by a magic basket.

I'd suggest the Iscariot option, unless you want your novel to move into territory that has nothing to do with the story you want to tell (or at least, that's what I'm guessing).

I hope this helps.
 
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Menyanthana

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What about the Romans? As far as I know, they were the ones who disliked Jesus most. So, a cult of a Roman god could have stolen the relics.
 

Evaine

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It's interesting, and something I never thought of before - in the Middle Ages there were enough bits of the True Cross to make a good sized woodland, girdles of the Virgin Mary, and all sorts of other relics, (there was more than one head of John the Baptist!), but I never heard of anyone claiming to have the wine jar from the Wedding at Cana, or the basket from the Feeding of the Five Thousand.
It's the sort of thing that would have been pretty easy to fake, too - so maybe there was a conspiracy to hide them!
 

EmilySC

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Smiling Ted,

thanks,

Your input is very valuable.

I was reading in Isaiah 65 and 66 last night and it certainly looks like Jews are to BE more missionary minded in the future.

Of course, I was inventing some overzealous, misguided Jewish sect. You're right, however, it would have the potential for being applied in general by equally misguided, overzealous Christians and quasi-Christians.

I might do better to have a group similar in beliefs to the Christian Scientists--who don't believe in miracles at all--be the bad guys. The original gathers of the relics is proposed as a possible explanation, in any case. I do need more story to build my word count up.

Thanks again.
Emily
 

IceCreamEmpress

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Of course, I was inventing some overzealous, misguided Jewish sect. You're right, however, it would have the potential for being applied in general by equally misguided, overzealous Christians and quasi-Christians.

I might do better to have a group similar in beliefs to the Christian Scientists--who don't believe in miracles at all

The what, in the where, now?

The Church of Christ, Scientist is all about miracles. The central tenet of their religion is the power of faith over the physical world--that's why they choose healing by prayer over medical intervention.

They simply redefine "miracle" as "science"--the central belief is that the Divine Mind can do anything. Jesus could certainly change water into wine or multiply loaves and fishes, because he was identical with the Divine Mind, and the Divine Mind can do that. Mary Baker Eddy has a very very long discussion of the wedding at Cana in Science and Health.

--be the bad guys. The original gathers of the relics is proposed as a possible explanation, in any case. I do need more story to build my word count up.

I think a long-underground group of zealots committed to the ideals of what is otherwise a totally defunct religious group would be the safest and most interesting antagonists. I suggest Mithraism or Catharism perhaps.

I'd also suggest reading some books on comparative religion/history of religion. It seems like that might be useful research for a novel with this plot.
 
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EmilySC

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Misguided Christians It Is

Perhaps, I should stick with what I already know ONLY TOO WELL.

There are millions of quasi-Christians who don't believe in miracles. Theological schools are full of them. They would surely be ticked off if their 'previously irrefutable' pontifications were shown to be in error.

The novel, so far, has two Jewish guys gathering the artifacts. One sees the miracles as proof that Jesus is divine. The other acknowledges the miracles, records exactly what he has seen and done, and continues to be a Jewish religious leader. They are affected in completely different ways.

I realized I was wrong about the CScientists after I posted my last response. IceCreamExpress is right; they believe in the supernatural. I do have a superstar singer amongst the bad guys but she won't be like TC or any other C. Scientist.

Thanks to all of you for commenting. I'll just pick on misguided Christians. I know them best and they should be used to it by now.

Emily
 

StephanieFox

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Of course, making the bad guys ancient Pagans might offend neo-Pagans (who honestly probably wouldn't be reading this). I know it seems that people from minority religions are too sensitive, but that's because a cultural diet of anti-Jewish, anti-Pagan, anti-Islamic, anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, anti-Hindu or whatever often ends in discrimination or persecution of those who seem different.

Non-Christians do not consider one of their own converting to Christianity as a happy outcome.

However, I think that your story sounds interesting and hopes that it does well in the bookstores.
 

Autodidact

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Speaking as a Jew, I'm offended. The combination of Christians having actually slaughtered us by the millions for the last 2000 years, while making up stories in which we fictionally do bad things to them, really grates me.
 

Gray Rose

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It's always tricky when you portray an existing group, in this case a Jewish group as the evil guys. Jews are still sensitive about this because, believe it or not, we're still accused of "killing our lord." This is a very sensitive issue and you'd have to write it very carefully.
I would like to second that, and add that even if you write it very carefully, it will still probably come across as antisemitic to many people, since there isn't a lot of evidence these days to support the assumption that any Jewish "sect" would be interested in doing this.

Hi, Emily.

There are two assumptions here: The first is that the Gospels are true; the second is that Jews want to nefariously destroy the news of Jesus' divinity.

It also just ain't true. Judaism in general is not a missionary religion. Jews don't compete with other religions for converts, or try to spread the Gospel of Judaism to the non-believer. We are not responsible for the way non-Jews relate to God (except by example), so there is no doctrinal reason to mess with Christian relics to attack Christian faith.

What Ted said. In addition, orthodox Jews strongly believe that it is best for non-Jews NOT to convert, because as a religious Jew you are obligated to observe 613 commandments (well, if you are male); however, as a non-Jew you are only obligated to observe the seven laws of the Children of Noah. Thus the chance of you going astray and not being righteous is much higher when you are a Jew, and in fact the rabbis are obligated to strongly discourage converts for this very reason. A normal Orthodox conversion takes about 2 years, and most ultra-Orthodox do not convert at all. The conservative and reform conversions are easier, but show me a conservative/reform "sect" and I will laugh myself silly.

In Judaism, you are not obligated to believe anything in order to be a good observant Jew. All you have to do is to observe the commandments. You can even get by without praying. This is a religion that assigns most importance to doing, rather than believing.

Smiling Ted,

thanks,

Your input is very valuable.

I was reading in Isaiah 65 and 66 last night and it certainly looks like Jews are to BE more missionary minded in the future.

Huh. When Messiah comes, he will do the work, sure. The temple will be rebuilt, sure. The animal sacrifices may even begin again, sure. The land will flow with milk and honey, etc, etc.

The only thing Jews have consciously done to speed the coming of the Messiah is to settle again in the land of Israel. Then again, there are some ultra-Orthodox sects that frown upon this even, because the Messiah will come when he comes, and we have no business interfering.

Now, your regular ultra-Orthodox "fanatic" or something will not even pronounce Jesus's name, let alone touch Christian relics or care about Christians in general. I would go with a different scenario if I were you.
 

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Well, after an illuminating visit to bible.com, I can say that I see how that passage can be interpreted to say that, though I think its clear that the pork-eating, non believing people that are mentioned are in fact the hebrews during one of their lapses in proper behavior, rather than gentiles. A description of the past, rather than a prophesy of the future.

I can't say what Jews would think about this, but people who have a strong interest in biblical studies might wonder what justification you have to read this passage as a prophecy.
 

EmilySC

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You guys and gals have been really nice and have shown much restraint in dealing with my question.

Rather than head for the hills, I'm moving the question about Isaiah 65 and 66 to a separate post. It really has nothing to do with the fictional endeavor which will be called Fragments That Remain if it ever does get to the book stores.

I promise not to portray Jewish people as bad guys in any way in the book. You've convinced me that wouldn't be a realistic portrayal.

For those I offended, I apologize. For those I didn't: I'm sorry I tested your patience and forebearance.

Emily S-C
 

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