Fact-Checking Reza Aslan 1: "Love Your Neighbor as Yourself" (David Wood)
In his book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” creative writing professor Reza Aslan claims that the Jewish command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” only applied to one’s fellow Jews, and that Jews were ordered to expel foreigners from the land of Israel. Aslan writes:
“When it came to the heart and soul of the Jewish faith—the Law of Moses—Jesus was adamant that his mission was not to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). That law made a clear distinction between relations among Jews and relations between Jews and foreigners. The oft-repeated commandment to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ was not Jesus’s invention. It comes directly from the Torah and is meant to be applied strictly in the context of internal relations within Israel. The verse in question reads: ‘You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18). To the Israelites, as well as to Jesus’s community in first-century Palestine, ‘neighbor’ meant one’s fellow Jews, whether friend or foe. With regard to the treatment of foreigners and outsiders, oppressors and occupiers, however, the Torah could not be clearer: ‘You shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not live in your land’ (Exodus 23:31-33).”
But what happens when we go to the chapters Reza quotes and find them saying the exact opposite of what he claims? Find out as David Wood fact-checks Reza Aslan.
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