The Sadducees Return

“For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today!” NASB Acts 24:21b

Resurrection of the dead – The Amidah is the daily sacred prayer of Judaism.  It has been so for thousands of years.  In many ways, it is treated like the Tanakh itself, held in highest honor as the best possible way of approaching God.  You would imagine that this would mean you shouldn’t mess with the text.  Ah, but just like liberal theological criticism of the Tanakh, social ideology influences the reading (and writing) of the Amidah.  What’s amazing is that one of these changes directly affects belief in the resurrection of the dead.  It is as if the Sadducees have returned to the modern era.  Here is the traditional version of the second blessing of the Amidah:

You are mighty forever, my L-rd; You resurrect the dead; You are powerful to save.

He sustains the living with loving kindness, resurrects the dead with great mercy, supports the falling, heals the sick, releases the bound, and fulfills His trust to those who sleep in the dust. Who is like You, mighty One! And who can be compared to You, King, who brings death and restores life, and causes deliverance to spring forth!

Now read the same blessing as written by some Reformed Jewish texts.[1]

You are eternally mighty, Adonai, You give life to all, greatly do You save: . . .

You rule death and life, You cause salvation to blossom:  You are faithful in giving life to all.

The traditional Amidah Blessing uses the Hebrew words מְחַיֵּה מֵתִים (resurrect the dead).  The words demand a doctrine of resurrection.  But the contemporary Amidah (Reformed) removes this idea.  In the rewritten blessing resurrection is no longer an accepted belief.  Now God brings life and improves people.  As the commentary suggests, “This prayer does not say anything about winning or defeating enemies.”[2]  Not even death, apparently.  This isn’t the only place where Reformed Jewish social justice trumps traditional theology.  This is a case where contemporary ethical concerns and political correctness are taught as the words of the Sages and, ultimately, God’s words.  I cited a version of the Amidah intended for fifth-graders.  Early adoption of these ideas sets the stage for adults who no longer believe in resurrection or an afterlife.  Social justice prevails.  Jews who grow up in this world don’t accept the resurrection of the Messiah because they, like the ancient Sadducees, don’t believe in resurrection at all!

Christian Replacement Theology is an insidious attempt to replace the Hebrew God with a Greek substitute by shifting God’s choice of Israel to the Church.  But is it any less disastrous than the Jewish attempt to remove God’s promise of a resurrected life?  It seems that both the Christian Church and this Reformed Jewish tradition have rewritten history to fit their own agendas.

Topical Index: Amidah, G’Vurot blessing, resurrection, Acts 24:21b


[2] Ibid.

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Richard Bridgan

And so it seems we’ve gone from “messin’ with the text” to “textin’ with the mess.” How profound… the accomplishments of man!

Derek Satz

Maybe I’ve missed something. Where in the Bible (other than in the new testament) does it talk about what happens after you die? I understand that there is a prayer that talks about what happens after you pass, however I honestly thought most of it was speculation . Am I missing something?

Derek Satz

Honest question, how do we know how that thought developed with life after death? I surely would like to believe in it. I tend to because I believe in the teaching of Yeshua. When you read about NDE’s (near death experiences) there seems to be antidotal evidence of, “it’s not over”. But where did these thoughts develop because I don’t see them in the Tanakh. It appears to me randomly in the NT from my perspective.

Derek Satz

Wow. That is extremely interesting . Thank you!