The Urantia Book from a Jewish Perspective
By Martin Greenhut, Reader of the Urantia Book since 1970
I am a graduate of Talmudical Academy High School and of Yeshiva College in New York City. I also attended the Hebrew Teachers Institute at Yeshiva for six years. For my entire youth I was intensely active in Jewish life and was a practicing orthodox Yeshiva student until my senior year in college when I chose to give up my orthodoxy and its consequent segregation from the rest of the world. I became what is known in Israel today as "a secular Jew". It simply means that I gave up my orthodox involvements and practices and lived as an agnostic... although not hostile to religion... just not able to relate to the various sectarian doctrines. I believed that If God existed he didn't love any people on earth any better than the others and certainly wouldn't exclude anyone from eternal salvation just because they were born into the wrong religion.
As a Jew, the obstacle to relating to Christianity was my resentment for the anti-semetic confrontations that were thrust upon me by Christians. I grew up during WWII and as a teenager I saw the first filmed evidence of the Nazi Holocost that was presented as evidence at the Nuremberg trials. Whenever I heard quotations from "The New Testament" I regarded them as teachings hostile to the Jews and consequently would not read it.
I lived a life dedicated to improving the world and it brought me into contact with all kinds of people. When working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s movement in the civil rights struggle I often found myself in churches of the blacks and that is where I was first introduced to the love of Jesus.
I was not satisfied that things were as we were taught. I always lived in hope and never left the "Kriat Shema" behind. "Hear o' Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord, your God with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your might." I just knew that He was out there, but I didn't know where.
As it turned out, my search for truth brought the Urantia Book into my hands and since that day I have been taken up with its study and in the practice of its teachings.
Getting into the Urantia Book meant that I had to be open to new truth and this process has meant an ongoing expansion of my understanding of life and of the problems that we are facing in this world. It brought me to the doors of faith which are opened as I knock.
The greatest problem that I had as a Jew were in the teachings about the Paradise Trinity but a careful reading of Book One of the Urantia Book dispelled these doubts with no problem. As for Jesus, the Urantia Book gave me an opportunity to meet him as a Gallilean Jew. I didn't ever have to become a "Christian". If anybody asks me to this day what my religion is I unhesitatingly tell them that I am a Jew.
Knowing Jesus as a jew is an unspeakable blessing. The Urantia Book reveals Jesus' Jewish upbringing, education and racial outlook in such a way as to allow me to identify with him as a Jew. He had the same kind of home and schooling as did I, went to the synagogue as did I, and lived in a jewish culture which has not significantly changed to this day. The prayers and biblical passages that he quoted were the same ones that I used, he attended seders and read from the Torah, had a Bar Mitzvah and his teacher was a chazan. His apostles were Gallilean Jews and his earliest followers were also jews.
The distortions that Pauline Christianity imposeed on the Teachings of Jesus along with the mistakes of his apostles who preached a religion about Jesus rather than the religion of Jesus compromised the Gospel Message. I find Christianity's doctrines of the virgin birth and the doctrine of atonement by the shedding of blood (the crucifixion of Jesus as a sacrificial offering for the sins of man) both alienating and degrading of the wondrous bestowal and the life of truth that Jesus lived here among us. The Revelation of God's love in the human life of the Son of Man will continue to enrich us spiritually in all eternity.
As for the rest of the Urantia Book, its revelations are both challenging and eddifying, inspiring and supreme.
In my opinion, any Jew who gets into the Urantia book will not only gain a profound understanding of our religion but also has a head start in understanding the teachings of our Lord and Creator who lived here as one of us and revealed the Father in Heaven as he lived a human life among us.
There is some especially interesting Jewish Lore that relates to the Urantia revelation which has significance to me.
Pentecost is the Jewish Festival of Shevuoth. It is the Hag HaBikkurim... The festival of the First Fruits. It is also called Z'man Ma-tahn Torateinu... the time of the giving of our Torah; the day of Pentecost on which Jesus poured his Spirit of Truth upon all flesh is the same day celebrated by Jews for the giving of the Torah to the world through Moses.
Passover which celebrates the liberation of the Jews from slavery was the occasion on which Jesus chose to celebrate the liberation of the spiritual captives by the rite of the Supper of Remembrance. The Matzah, symbol of the escape to freedom and the wine, the "Cup of Blessing" at the Passover seder now become the symbol of the Bread of Life; the truth of God, and the Living Water; The Spirit of God which ever flows throughout all creation.
Having celebrated Passover seders all my life, it was a great experience to ponder these new meanings at seders after reading the Urantia Book. I believe that the Passover seder must have been Jesus' favorite ritual and his inauguration of the meatless Passover seder is a very pointed teaching about sacrifice and worship. I have celebrated many Suppers of Remembrance since I have become a Urantian and never have these special meanings escaped me.
Hannukah is another special celebration for me as a Jewish Urantian. The miracle of Hannukah; the acknowledgement of God's participation in the celebration of the re-dedication of the Temple, only a few generations before the birth of Jesus, takes on very special significance when we realize that the stage was being set for him to come to the temple and reveal the Father to the world.
It seems to me that there will be a corner in the new cult of Urantia for a synagogue. I call it "Kehilat K'far Nachum". The congregation of Capernaum, The synagogue where Jesus announced his public ministry. The original synagogue of Capernaum was recently unearthed and discovered to have a plaque on its cornerstone memorializing a Roman Centurion who donated funds for its construction.