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Hebrew New Testament
KARAISM & KEITH JOHNSON
 
Mr. Keith Johnson is a United Methodist Christian Pastor and co-author with Mr. Nehemia Gordon (Karaite Jew) who publishes books claiming Shem Tob's "Hebrew" Gospel was based on a "original Hebrew" manuscript.  The opinions of these two men are not only in opposition to the Aramaic New Testament (click here for short list of publications and Scholars), but every credible and honest scholar on earth.  Both these men have refused debate on Aleppo codex (Masoretic texts) DSS and LXX texts (see 134 emendations). 
 
     Mr. Keith Johnson has chosen to make disparaging comments against the Aramaic New Testament, Andrew Gabriel Roth, God's Learning Channel, and pretty much the entire Aramaic primacy community in favour of his mentor Nehemiah Gordon.  On his website and radio interview Mr. Johnson references Mr. Andrew Gabriel Roth as the "Aramaic converted Jew".  Mr. Keith Johnson stated that "Aramaic primacy" people have forced a ban on his books, videos and teaching materials.  Mr. Keith Johnson has stated that Aramaic Primacists have attacked his scholarship and called for a ban on his teachings, a malicious untrue fabrication, possibly a lame publicity stunt.  We've asked Mr. Keith Johnson to come to the table and discuss these matters but he and Nehemiah Gordon refuse open public debate with anyone except with unsophisticated followers who buy into their religious ideas.
 
     Mr. Keith Johnson and Mr. Nehemia Gordon's disparaging comments appear to be eliciting sympathy for their cause, making themselves out to be persecuted and downtrodden minority of "believers".  Undoubtedly, many are discovering that mainstream Judaism and Christianity have betrayed the original Torah teachings of Mashiyach and ancient texts.  Many suffer religious persecution by family, friends, rabbis, pastors, priests and congregations because they are returning to a Torah based lifestyle, observing Shabbat, vocalizing the Name of YHWH etc.  It appears as Mr. Johnson is courting this specific group for sympathy while making unfounded and disparaging statements about those who have questions about the validity and sources of primary texts.
 
     The attacks of Mr. Keith Johnson and Mr. Nehemia Gordon are against Aramaic primacy scholarship yet they reject dialogue and debate that would compare Masoretic, Dead Sea Scrolls and LXX texts, and Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek New Testament texts.  Baruch Ben Daniel was invited to respond to an assault against Mr. Roth and the Aramaic New Testament on an Australian radio show.  The interviewer prominently features Mr. Nehemia Gordon and Mr. Keith Johnson's teachings and books on his website.  However, because of the nature of the interview many intended points didn't make the radio, so let's address some of the disinformation right here.
 
    Numerous sources are confirming that Karaite Jews and non-Jewish converts to Karaism are infiltrating English and Spanish speaking Messianic congregations around the world seeking converts.  Karaites admit themselves that "Most of us came out of this background".  Their mandate is to find people who are disillusioned with religion but being called into Torah observance, the Feasts of YHWH (Moedim) etc and convince them under crescent moon Karaite religious authority.  Many Two House, Ephraimite or Israelite leaders in America look to Mr. Nehemia Gordon for visible sighting of the crescent moon in Israel and to follow him as he sanctifies his feasts.  The Karaite calendar authority dovetails with World Wide Church of God theology and numerous Sacred Name groups that came out of WWCG and other Christian Sabbatarian groups.
 
     Once a person has converted to Karaism it is taboo (embarrassing) for them to acknowledge their past Christian or Messianic roots.  Many Karaites show great disdain for Christians, and consider the roots of Christianity to be paganism, rather than recognize that pagan elements were brought into Christianity as early as the First Century.  What Karaites don't see is the heavy influence of Samaritanism, and Gnosticism within their own religious identity.  On numerous occasions while meeting with converts to Karaism, an uneasiness to dialogue about previous Christian affiliation is evident, many want to think themselves to be "pure Jews", but the irony of that is a Jew is one who is inwardly, not outwardly according to the religion of men.  Karaism doesn't know the difference.  No Karaite leader has articulated or demonstrated a "Karaite" spirituality because it's a religion of supposed "reform", much like Protestantism.
 
  The Karaite and Keith Johnson mandate to regard the Shem-Tob ben Isaac Shaprut of Tudela as an authoritative Hebrew New Testament is understandable.  Karaites do not regard the New Testament teachings of Y'shua Mashiyach as sacred.  Mr. Keith Johson and Mr. Nehemia Gordon provide halakhic directives from their scholarship of Shem-Tob Hebrew New Testament and Masoretic text opinions, which whether people agree or otherwise should always be a matter of public discussion, rather than antagonism and "disputation" as they are claiming.  In a recent newsletter by Mr. Nehemia Gordon and radio interview with he and Mr. Keith Johnson many particulars of an inquiry for debate were obfuscated and misrepresented for example:
 
     The letter from GLC to Mr. Keith Gordon it was stated, "For the sake of the Body, we feel it is crucial that all of the facts be on the table, and we feel that the best way to settle this matter is a debate between Nehemia and Andrew Gabriel Roth regarding primacy of the texts.  As a dear brother in Yeshua, we're confident that you understand the need for dialogue between these peers on this important subject." 
 
     Mr. Keith Johnson went on the radio and said, "As a result of that controversy on the Name of YHWH the Aramaic Letter came to basically say two things:  The information that you're providing people to build up the Name of God must stop.  And the relationship that you have with Nehemia Gordon, who is not a Messianic and not a Christian, we also want to get two birds with one stone, we want you to stop teaching about the Name and we want to confront Nehemia Gordon in at public debate"... "cancel everything unless you can bring your friend Nehemia for a public debate."  (At radio section 1:26:11.) Clearly, Mr. Keith Johnson willfully misrepresented the heart and intent of the request from GLC.
 
     Mr. Keith Johnson on radio talk show with host Jono Vandor claimed to be quoting GLC when stating: "there will be no discussion, the only option you have is to bring your friend and co-author...". (1:19:40).  In reality GLC asked for debate, lively discussion, on textual criticism rather than listen to hearsay and/or various opinions about the text.  As the letter stated, "It has been brought to our attention that there is a question regarding the primacy of the texts upon which you are basing your information."  It was I who suggested that having all parties present together to discuss these things would provide a better picture of the underlying elements of textual criticism and allow time for question and answer between parties.  There was a reluctance at the TV station to air the debate so as not to stir needless controversy.  However, Mr. Nehemia Gordon and Mr. Keith Johnson stirred the pot, created as much controversy as possible and bore false witness regarding the nature of the request.
 
     GLC stated, "We are also seeing the potential for some confusion regarding Hebrew and Aramaic primacy of the New Testament and we want to clarify some of these issues before revisiting your program.  We have very much enjoyed having you and Nehemiah Gordon at GLC and we hope and pray that both you and Nehemiah will understand our position as a viewer supported ministry."
 
     In response to GLC's goodwill Mr. Nehemia Gordon stated on radio that an ultimatum was levied such that, "If you ever want your Christian friend to get back his 52 episodes on Television you must come and debate a Jewish convert to Christianity.  Uh.  You know.  You gotta be kidding me.  It was like weíve now gone back to the period of the Spanish Inquisition, this was part of the Spanish Inquisition.  To pressure the Jews to enter into these debates I couldnít believe it.  Now look, if this was an honest textual discussion about our Hebrew Matthew I would be fine with thatÖ. I donít think itís a translation, I think I can prove that.  Itís not a translation, itís the original language.  Iíve said that more times than I can count."  (1:12:35)
 
     As stated in previous webpages the Shem-Tob is in the original language, but so is Frans Delitzsch Hebrew New testament in Hebrew, but, BOTH texts are translated from Greek.  The only difference is that Frans Delitzsch was honest enough to admit he translated his text from the Greek.  Shem-Tob wasn't a man of such honor though, he falsified the text in order for Orthodox Jewish anti-Missionaries to debate against Christians.  It doesn't take much of an imagination that for the more than 1,000 years before Shem-Tob that there are NO references to the "Hebrew" texts that Shem-Tob claimed to have in his possession.  What is the true source of Shem-Tob's texts.  It is customary in Orthodox Jewish circles to burn the New Testament.  I happen to know this from personal experience after giving Bibles to Orthodox Jews. The conspiracy of text originated with Shem-Tob.  Clearly Mr. Nehemia Gordon and Mr. Keith Johnson are willing to continue to spread falsehoods and controversy around the text in order to drum up interest for their "work".  Nothing about the chain of custody of Shem-Tob texts has been forthcoming.  No historical references about these texts (which would be EXTREMELY valuable to Christian and Messianic Jewish scholars) have been forthcoming.
 
     Mr. Nehemia Gordon publicly states that "In our book and interviews we explain that Hebrew Matthew has gone through a long process of textual transmission. Its importance is that, despite this long transmission, it is not a translation."  However, when asked to supply some scholarly references to the "long process of textual transmission" we get nothing from him.  Nada.
 
     Mr. Nehemia makes such statements that he was,  "...angry with shaking, meaning your nerves are shaking.  Livid is I think is the closest English equivalent.  I was shaking with anger when this happened.  I was upset and I was really upset more than anything for Keith he had this huge opportunity to teach 52 programs and they silenced him.  We saw the guy in Oregon, his skills, that he canít read his own Aramaic text I said look, ok youíre challenging the Aleppo codex, hereís the Aleppo codex Iím now going to read and translate from it.  Then Iíll turn it over to him on television and Iíll say now can you read the Aleppo codex.  Oh you canít read the Aleppo Codex ok then how can we have a serious textual discussion if you canít even read the text.  And then I was going to go through the Aleppo Codex, the Leningrad Codex and then I was going to go to his own text and show that he canít even read his Aramaic text."
 
     Mr. Nehemia Gordon and Mr. Andrew Gabriel Roth were at dinner together on two occasions in Salem Oregon, yet, Mr. Gordon refers to him as the "Aramaic Converted Jew" and "the guy in Oregon" and condemns him for being the one who stirred up the acrimony.  Mr. Gordon does not speak either fairly or truthfully about the matter.
 
     GLC stated that, "No one ever said there is only room enough for one opinion.  As we have come to find out, there seems to be an incredible amount of opinions on the subject of primacy of texts."  That was and is the issue that Mr. Gordon and Mr. Johnson chose to blow out of proportion for their own interests.
 
     Mr. Keith Gordon sent a message to the management at GLC where he wrote, "Last week Nehemia and I were in Egypt where we spoke to a young man who lived under dictatorship his entire life. The young man said to us, "Under Mubarak we had unity. Now there is division." In a way this young man was right. In Mubarak's Egypt there was only room enough for one opinion. Anyone who openly disagreed was made to disappear in the middle of the night, giving the false impression there was unity."  After such statements that likened GLC to forcing Nehemia to wear a "yellow star" GLC and the controversy Mr. Gordon incited regarding the Name Yehovah, GLC withdrew the offer of the debate because of the controversy being incited by Mr. Gordon and Mr. Johnson.  That being said if GLC doesn't want one, I know of plenty radio stations who would welcome a debate.
 
     The management from GLC wrote, "No one ever said there is only room enough for one opinion.  As we have come to find out, there seems to be an incredible amount of opinions on the subject of primacy of texts.  For GLC, the issue of ďThe NameĒ seems to be one that can only cause distraction and impede the Bodyís ability to focus on the things that we can be absolutely sure of.  GLC was created to be a voice for YHWH to call His people to return to Him and His commandments with their whole heart.  In fact, weíve decided that itís best to withdraw our offer of a debate altogether, so we can focus on that goal.  We made a mistake in producing and airing your program. The topic of ďThe NameĒ is not one that will be taught over GLC at this time."
 
     In response to the comment Mr. Nehemia Gordon stated, "The General Manager of the Christian Television station said, ďour Television station is more important than Godís NameĒ.  Amen.  Is that what she said Keith?  What was the exact quote. (56:29)

     Mr. Keith Johnson replied, "The teaching of Godís Name will not trump the mission of the television station."  (56:08)

     Mr. Gordon and Mr. Johnson are false witnesses.  The management at GLC said no such thing at no time.  The fact is that numerous Scholars and Torah teachers who teach at GLC have a profound love and interest in restoring the Name of YHWH in public worship.  As stated on the radio broadcast in response to Mr. Nehemiah Gordon and Mr. Keith Johnson I am a 3rd generation Torah activist who believes in the vital importance of restoring the Name of YHWH.  I have never spoken publicly about the Kingdom of Elohim without introducing the Name of YHWH.  GLC also supports the restoration of the Name of YHWH and clearly intends to do so with wisdom, temperance and a scholarly approach.
 
     Mr. Gordon and Mr. Johnson have made numerous misrepresentations and fallacious statements regarding their communication with GLC, it is understandable that emotions and anger can get the best of people, but when this happens it should be made right.  Another misrepresentation was the claim that GLC had offered Mr. Keith Johnson a 52 part series.  On the radio show (1:12:35) Mr. Nehemia Gordon stated, "If you ever want your Christian friend to get back his 52 episodes on Television you must come and debate a Jewish convert to Christianity."  The reality was Mr. Keith Johnson had officially been offered a 12 part series, perhaps he wanted to become a regular programmer, but again, that was speculation on his part and not factual.
 
     The right thing to do is allow for open and transparent communication, clarify matters, and bring the matter to the table for discussion.  Throwing stones and making enemies and opponents from those who invite you for debate is a very bad sign.  I and dozens of others can testify that Mr. Gordon and Mr. Johnson have always been treated with cordiality and respect, but sadly, they are not returning such sentiments.  I find it difficult to imagine how GLC provided their TV platform for both men, but they have given no consideration to GLC's interests, only their own.  I find it very regrettable that both these men sat at dinner with Andrew Gabriel Roth and myself and then rather than dialogue they accuse us and levy religious discrimination strategies to try to belittle us.  That is something that is neither a Jewish or Christian thing to do, it's the old time religious spirit at work.
 
     Mr. Gordon and Mr. Johnson were suggesting they had grounds to take legal action against GLC, so I've also contacted our attorneys about the misrepresentation levied against Andrew Gabriel Roth, GLC and myself.  If Mr. Gordon and Mr. Johnson continue making fallacious and self-serving public statements we will indeed revisit this matter before a judge.
 
     Nevertheless, we hope for better things from these two men in the future.  However, if you've been influenced by their Shem-Tob and crescent moon calendar authority I pray that you would continue to study and research and keep asking the Ruach of YHWH for His guidance in all these matters.  There is much more to the Name of YHWH, the Torah calendar and Tanakh and New Testament textual criticism ahead.
 
YHWH be with you,
 
Baruch Ben Daniel
 
PS the attacks from Mr. Johnson and Mr. Gordon are reminiscent of the attacks against Andrew Gabriel Roth by a Rev. David Bauscher, who went on a vicious public attack against Andrew Gabriel Roth over Christology.  Bauscher made malicious charges of "Gnostic heresy & plagiarism" that are unfounded and based on religious hatred and bigotry.  Then Rev. David Bauscher ran into the shadows and hid himself so he wouldn't have to take responsibility for his insolence.  Mr. Keith Johnson and Mr. Nehemiah Gordon have manifested the same kind of irresponsible anti-Scholar "religious spirit" tactics.  Honorable men speak openly, vigorously defend the truth as they know it, and when there is an impasse agree to disagree, but honorable men NEVER cower from public discussion and debate.
 
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