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Jesus does not play an active role in the Jewish religion. Although the historical figure of Jesus was known to be Jewish, he is not incorporated into Jewish religious thought or law.

Judaism and the Moshiach

Part of Judaism, especially ancient and modern-day Orthodox and Hasidic Judaism, is the belief in a figure known as the "moshiach," which is Hebrew for "one who has been annointed" with oil. This is the source of the word and concept of the messiah found in Christianity.

An Earthly Leader

In Judaism, it is believed that the moshiach will be an earthly human king, who will be a great military leader and judge who unites Jews within a Jewish state. Christians believe that the messiah, in the form of Jesus, will return to Earth to reign, while Jews believe the moshiach will come only once.

Famous Ties

Jesus may be mentioned in the Talmud as "Yeshu." This figure is presented as a heretic and a person who leads Jews astray; however, the exact identity of this individual has not been conclusively determined.

Early Jewish Following

After Jesus' death, his brother James led a small group of Jews who believed Jesus was the moshiach (See References 7, p. 120). In these early days before Saul of Tarsus -- renamed the Apostle Paul -- began spreading Christianity to the Gentiles, followers of Jesus constituted a small sect within Judaism rather than a separate religion. This is not the only time this has occurred; during the 15th century, a rabbi known as Shabbethai Zebi claimed to be the moshiach and gained a large following as well.

Theological Considerations

Because of a number of Jewish beliefs, namely that God is indivisible and cannot be personified, Jesus is not considered by Jews to be a legitimate candidate for being the moshiach. Modern Judaism does not, however, preach actively against or for Jesus or his views.