Brown summarized Rabbi Boteach’s viewpoint as being completely opposed to any reasonable interpretation of the New Testament. Brown suggested that Shmuley turned Jesus into a rebel against Rome, who taught nothing new and died because of his treason against Rome.
According to Shmuley, Paul was the person who reinvented Jesus and transformed him into a Divine Messiah who died for the sins of humanity.
In effect, according to Dr. Brown, Shmuley has stripped Jesus of the uniqueness ascribed to him in the New Testament scriptures.
Shmuley responded by painting a picture of Jesus as a Jewish freedom fighter who was both a sincere zealot for Jewish causes and a great rabbi who taught in a way similar to the rabbis of his day.
Mike said that the only way Shmuley could be correct would be to assume that the entire New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, was edited and influenced by later Christians, inspired by Paul, who elevated Jesus to a status he never claimed for himself. Mike noted that Shmuley gave very little historical or other type of evidence to justify such a radical reinterpretation of the New Testament.
The debate was successful in raising critical issues about Jesus. Clearly both Mike and Shmuley agreed that Jesus was Jewish and spoke as a rabbi and a Jewish prophet But that is where their agreement ended!
There has clearly been more interest in the Jewishness of Jesus within the Jewish community, from Kosher Jesus to a new Jewish Annotated New Testament edited by Jewish scholar Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler.