Archive for September, 2010

Jacob Jocz – The Jewish People and Jesus Christ

September 7, 2010

A book review: The Jewish people and Jesus Christ, The relationship between Church and Synagogue, Jacob Jocz, first published in 1949.

I never ever had read such a good book on the history and relationship of Church and Synagogue, and the role of Messianics. This is really a wonderful book! I recommend it to everyone who wishes to have a right picture of history from the time of Jesus until now.

He writes with a scholarly hand and it is a comprehensive story about the difficult matters between Church and Synagogue and the experience of Messianics trough out the time of the Apostolic church, the Catholic church, orthodox Protestantism and the evangelical church, alongside with Orthodox- and Reform Judaism.

One of the great benefits is that he keeps mentioning the Church in general and as one entity inclusive the bad and the good without giving it any judge. But he inclines to the good. And so he deals with the Synagogue too. As so, the book reads easy and clear.

Some quotes:

It is no exaggeration to say that the empirical church, i.e. the church of history, has shown herself the greatest enemy of the Jewish people. (p.92)

Neither the Renaissance nor the great Reformation Movement following in its wake made any impression upon Jewish life. The great change came with the Age of Enlightenment. (p.100) What neither the sword nor the stake were able to achieve in the days of persecution, was unintentionally accomplished by the Liberalism of the eighteenth century. Jewish emancipation in the West was attended by an alarming drift towards Christianity. (p.103)

It is an effort to recover Jesus from the entanglements of Christian doctrine in order to make him presentable to the Jewish mind. (p.145)

To be a disciple meant to be persecuted, to carry a cross, and to love the Master above everyone else. (p.148)

There are many Jews in the Synagogue who, though never challenged by the Christian message, have been led to aknowledge their utter helplessness by falling back upon God’s grace; in this, their inward disposition, they are potentially Christians. On the other hand, there are many Christians in the Church who faithfully adhere to traditional Christianity, but who in their self-sufficiency have assumed an attitude of independence vis à vis God; in this, their inward attitude, they are Jews. To the first Jesus Christ says: “He that is not against us is for us” (Mk.9:40); on the latter he says: “The last shall be first and the first last” (Mt. 20:16) It is from this position of inwardness that the demarcation line between Church and Synagogue becomes fluid. The real test lies not in the rigid adherence to tradition but in the inward attitude of the individual believer. To deny this fact is to deny not only a vital Christian truth but the basic principle of true religion. (p.203)

Many hold, with a good reason, that a Hebrew-Christian Church in the dispersion is an utter impossibility. A native Hebrew-Christian church can only come into existence under conditions of independent national life. This is increasingly being recognized by both Gentiles and Jews. Canon Hasting Kelk has already argued that the conditions for a Hebrew-Christian church “are a Hebrew-Christian people, and a land in which they are the supreme authority”. (p.239)

(End quotes)

In chapter VII he describes some interesting theological issues where the parting of Judaism and Christianity clearly emerges. As e.g. The Unity of God, The Jewish conception of Man, Free will, Revelation etc.

He argues that the Jewish conception of Man is of great importance. Because (in my words) Judaism emphasizes man and and says he is able to complete, to perfect mankind. Christianity is quite the opposite: It must come from above, man isn’t able to do good without intermediation of God. As Jocz say: “The Synagogue emphasizes the Imago Dei in man; the Church stresses man’s fall.” (p.268) This draws also the different view on the concept of the Messiah.

Many other things are to say about it. (Below are some pictures of the contents table.)

The book was first published in 1949 after WWII and the establishment of the state of Israel. The third publishing was in 1979. I’m very glad there was a reprint made in 2010 by dr. Pieter de Vries from The Netherlands. And I was very thankful that one of them came to me by a gift from my pastor ds. Egas from Middelharnis. A took a quick look on the internet but didn’t find any place to download or purchase it. From which publisher the latest print is, is not mentioned in this book.

Jacob Jocz (a Messianic Jew) lived from 1906-1983. He was born in Lithuania and studied in Warsaw (Poland), Frankfurt-am-main (Germany) and Birkenhead (England). In England he served as head of the London mission to the Jews from 1939-1948. In 1957 he went to Canada and in 1960 he was appointed as professor of theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto.

Pictures of the content table: