Archive for the ‘book reviews’ Category

The Jewish Gospel of John, a book review

August 16, 2016

I finished a book worthy to read: “The Jewish Gospel of John, Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel”, by Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, 2015. Recommended for all those who are seeking to fit the message and the purpose of the Gospel of John in its right context. (More info on his website: http://jewishgospelofjohn.com)jewishgospelofjohn

Eli has done a great job with writing this book. He understands Judaism, historic circumstances of the time of Jesus and Christianity.

The Gospel of John usually turns out to be an anti-semitic book, or at least containing anti-judaism. However, this is not the case.

Eli shows us a thoroughly thought through and a brilliant designed message composed by John to his own Jewish people. It is written in Greek, probably to the exiled Jews, with some distance to the subject as a writer can do.

From the beginning of the gospel John shaped a message as sharp as it could be for the Jews (and all who accepted the gospel too) showing that Jesus is the Messiah and King of Israel. And that there is no place in-between, one has to hear the voice of Jesus and accept his Messiah-ship. And to accept is to accept the whole package, also that Jesus is God Himself revealed as such. Jesus is even more than a “son of God”. He is also more than just a “God”, as that could be referring to a king. He is the Lord God and the holy Word being flesh on earth. The only One God has come among us.

One of the great questions of the book of John is what is meant by “the Jews”, in Greek: Ioudaioi. The answer of Eli is the Judeans opposed to the northern Israel, the Samaritans. So there is a difference between Jewish groups.

The Judean leadership is the contemporary authority representing the Jewish people. Those are representing the evil shepherds (Ezekiel) and now the “Son of Man” has come (Daniel) to re-establish the true faith. “It is Jesus who has come as the covenant prosecutor to press charges against the evil shepherds of Israel.” (page xv) Eli walks through the whole gospel to show this. It is one story with one goal: that Jesus is the King of all Israel. Not only the ‘Ioudaioi’ but also the 10 tribes and all who are in exile. Maybe especially written for those who are in exile, because of the Greek language. It is at least written for those who understand Judaism. This becomes also clear in this book. Probably John went on to reach “Israel” abroad since the Jerusalem Jews did not accept Jesus.

John deals with the fact that the Ioudaioi did not accept their Messiah at that time. He wants to persuade them and other Jews. He certainly does not rule out his brothers. He rules out evil do-ers as the ancient prophets did. It is not against a person or a Jew, it is about the attitude of the very heart. They did not understand, and a conflict about the authority of Jesus was inevitably the result.

Jesus has the ultimate authority and that is the mean problem of the Ioudaioi, the Judean leadership. “There was no place for them and Jesus together. Either they would remain in power, or he would replace them.” (page 126) Several times Jesus “as a matter of principle did not respond to their requests to submit to their authority.” (page 78)

At the difficult passage of John 6 about the bread and wine, Eli points to “an interpretive error to read this passage in the context of a religious polemic of a “Christian Jesus” and “Jewish Jews.” It should rather be read in the original context of an intra-Israelite polemic.” (page 99) He also argues that the passage is “referring to national salvation and not simply to individual salvific experience.” (page 107)

It is good to read that “As was customary for Jesus, he didn’t argue with the Ioudaioi about the legitimacy of the Torah of Moses. After all, the Torah of Moses was Jesus’ Torah. He only argued with them about its interpretation.” (page 125) As Eli says, this gospel contains high Christology. And the reader must be quite familiar with the very concepts of the Torah to understand the bread and wine typology, because it is deeply rooted in the Torah. And one who did not understand (like the church departed from Judaism and purposely opposed to it) likely concludes that Judaism at all is abandoned by Jesus by reading this chapter.

Eli also is familiar with the Protestant concept of belief. On page 100 and 101 he gives a nice explanation of the difference of the Jewish 1st century view and the Protestant 16th century view.

You have to read the book, but I’ll briefly give something here. John 6:28-29 states: “Then they said to him, “what must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Then Eli says about verse 29: “Viewed through the lenses of the 16th century Catholic-Protestant debate this means ‘By what works of ours can we be saved from God’s wrath?”

Then he gives the original view: “How can we be faithful to the Covenant God of Israel?” And hence the answer is: “You can be faithful to the Covenant God of Israel only by believing in his authorized representative (Jesus vs. Ioudaioi).”

Then Jesus gives the answer through the bread typology. Eli: “First he will argue that the Ioudaioi do not understand the basic facts of the Torah they claim as their own. It was not Moses who gave bread to the people, but Moses’ God. Secondly, the manna God gave the ancient Israelites through Moses was but a picture of the true sustenance for the human soul: the incarnate, crucified and finally resurrected Logos of Moses’ God. Jesus called the manna simply ‘the bread of God’. As we reread and reconsider John 6:28-31 inasmuch as we are able within the context of intra-Israelite polemic of the first century, we must be disciplined and adjust theories to fit the facts, not the facts to our theories. If we learn to live with this methodology, our interpretations will be far more accurate.” (page 103)

I would like to finish with a remark of Eli when the Jews (Ioudaioi) reject Jesus and choose Barabbas (meaning Son of the Father), in this chapter 19 he comments: “Yet Jesus is the King of the Ioudaioi in spite of their rejection of him. This is the tension of the entire Gospel.” (page 260)

Recommended!

Joseph Mede and Millenianism

May 19, 2014

I recently came across a very thoroughly research about Joseph Mede (1586-1638). I was very happy to see this study and revision of the ideas of this very important man who founded the basement of Millenianism. Many Puritan and modern Evangelic views on this subject can be traced back to this man.

dr. jeffrey k. jue

dr. Jeffrey K. Jue

This is the book: Jeffrey.K. Jue: Heaven Upon Earth. Joseph Mede (1586-1638) and the Legacy of Millenarianism. 2006.

It is important to know that this research shows that it is not Mede who caused Millenium activism. It were rather his fellows who abused his views and gain political profit from it. Or theologians who rejected (some of) his views on millenianism, because they missed the base and view of this well learned man. It is really sad that also in my own church the legacy of these controverses caused the denial of a future of a 1000 years of peace and kingship of our Lord Jesus. What are they doing with His glorious reign? How do they bless and seek the glory of God? Do they see it now, or in history? I can’t get it not to see it in the future.

But this study encourages me! For years a had still in mind, and it developed over time, that the saying ” the day of the Lord” or “the judgement day” would be that millenial day. And now I see here that this already was an insight of Mede! He stressed that this was a Jewish idea, what the Jewish apostles had in mind. And even the apostle Peter mentioned para-biblical Rabbinical sources and not only Ps.90. I undoubtedly was led to this insight by Rabbinical guidance in exposing biblical scriptures. Only some understanding of Hebrew is enough to go on that way.

Another point were I highly agree with, is the view on the Pope as the Antichrist. A reign dominated by the antichrist for 1260 years with a rise and a fall, that is what we live in now, and thereafter the redemption of the Jews, together with the re-establishing of the real Ecclesia and  the resurrection of the righteous and a peaceful age of people who shall come the mountain of Zion, shall emerge. (Is.2) Most Evangelicals and others differ from this view by placing the 70th week of Daniel 9 into the future, expecting thus a future Antichrist.

I’m really impressed by the work of Jeffry K. Jue. It’s worth it to reconsider Joseph Mede. It will give great benefit to the church if they will listen carefully.

I was lucky to got the book from our university library. It costs above 200 Dollars!

To give you just one citation:

“Logically, Christianity shares numerous similarities with Judaism which are not subjected to criticism. Why then should chiliasm? Mede listed a few of the most salient common beliefs. First both Christians and Jews agree that there will be a paradise in the world to come. Mede asked, “Doe not we Christians consent with the Jewes in these things? Have not we names likewise (of the Kingdome of Heaven…) from the Jewish Rabbins?” Second, Christians and Jews both concur that there will be a day of judgement. In fact, Mede argued that the Apostle Peter’s use of the term “day of judgement” was taken from the common Jewish expression – the “Vulgare form and manner of the Jewes” and not the more commonly assumed source, the book of Psalms. Mede’s intent was to demonstrate that mere similarities with Judaism were no ground in itself for dismissing chiliasm as heretical or erroneous. Therefore dismissing chiliasm because it resembled doctrines found in Judaism was neither an adequate nor persuasive accusation.” (page 131/132).

 

Our Place – my new book

December 17, 2012

Finally, my new book is ready!

Our Place

Our Place as Gentiles in the community of Israel

This book is about a key text of the song of Moses, that God went to a no-people (the gentiles, Deut.32:21) what marks the beginning of the time of the gentiles. Paul fixes his view on that since he saw a great gathering of gentiles to the community of Israel. This is described in Romans 9-11.

This book is written for people who are interested in the position of Christians or Messianics related to the Jews. Don’t think it’s a finished study. I hope it will give provoking thoughts and will draw to rethink certain prophecies.

You can purchase this book here on Lulu.com. There you can also download an eBook for free.

And here you can download a pdf-version for free. (I got it for free, you got it for free…)

Update – Now also available at:
Apple iBookstore (Free ebook)
Amazon.com ($9,00 for paperback, 78 pages)
Barnes&Noble (Free ebook)

Please give it a try and let me know what you find of it!

Quotes on “Kosher Jesus”

February 4, 2012

Christianity meets Judaism and it is intensifying. In the discussions on internet about the new book “Kosher Jesus” from Shmuley Boteach I found some interesting quotes. I watch the debates with great interest. What Shmuley would do with his book for Christians works out precisely the opposite way for Jews. Allthough, rabbis are afraid of that. I think it’s not that much attracting for orthodox Jews but what it shows clearly is that there are put efforts in re-picturing the Jew Jesus. One who laid a very worthy basis for both camps is the high respected rabbi Jacob Emden. (17th cent.) His approach of Jesus and Christianity is of great significance for Jews.

So I will begin with citing rabbi Jacob Emden from a post of Shmuley.

“In his commentary Eitz Avos (40b-41a) on Pirkei Avot (4:11), Emden describes Christianity as a ““religion in the service of God,” a religion which God sees as good and, therefore, He sustains it; it came to spread the word of God to those ‘who, until then, had worshipped wood and stone, who denied the existence of God altogether, who did not believe in good and evil, or in the afterlife. Christianity spread the notion of one God, one Ruler of all the universe who metes out justice to His creations. Christians accept the seven Noachide Laws and many other mitzvot which they voluntarily take upon themselves. In addition to these good qualities, God also gave them prophecy through their righteous ones, and through these prophets gave them laws and commandments by which to live. Because of all this – because they met these tests of a holy community – their religion was upheld and maintained by God.” Emden continues: these two families, Christianity and Mohammedanism, which God selected as vehicles to bring faith into the world, were never brought under the yoke of mitzvoth (commandments) of the Torah; their fathers never gave it to them, nor did they stand at Sinai; neither were they slaves in Egypt; therefore, they are not obligated for the 613 mitzvos and are thus exempt from the prohibition of shittuf (loosely translated here as the Trinity).  Emden concludes with the repetition of a previous theme: though some of their evil ones cause us sorrow with their violent actions and false accusations, there are righteous ones who protect us from those who rise up against Jews, and wise ones among them who search for truth in our works and find no fault in our faithfulness to our Torah and mitzvot.”

In the same article Smuley said also:
“We (the Jews) must teach Christians about the Jewishness of Jesus rather than Christians teaching Jews about the Christianity of Christ. Jesus was always a Jew and never a Christian. Period.”

“It is time for the Jewish community to stop playing defense and go on offense. We should stop fearing assimilation and start sharing with the world the universal wisdom and values of Judaism, beginning with demonstrating the Jewish sources of Jesus’ teachings.”

“The political bridge of support for Israel is not enough. A theological bridge between Jews and Christians must exist as well. Kosher Jesus proposes that Jesus the Jew, rather than Christ the Christian, be that bridge. It is not for Christians to teach the Jews about Jesus, as has been attempted for so many centuries, but rather, for the Jews to teach Christians about how Jesus lived, prayed, worshipped, and died as a Jew.”

“Today, Christians want to learn from us.”

“Christians need Jews to discover the truth about their faith”

Rabbi Smuley sees that times has been changed. The most catching saying of him perhaps is this one: “ Christians are our best friends today. “ This is a very interesting one because this is new since WWII (the Shoa). I think the older rabbi’s (with great respect) aren’t able to say this. But younger ones have new perspectives. We are heading a new era. History is a big shame, it’s a scandal. There are no winners at all. We lost. We, all human beings, we lost. And of course, as a Christian I believe that Yeshua, yet the stumbling block but in future the corner stone, will win. (Rabbi Skobac identified the book as a stumbling book.)

Rabbi Smuley wants to “allow a new era of Jewish-Christian reapproachement to begin.”

But, probably he asked too much from his fellow Jews. As Rabbi Blumenthal called it: insensitive.

The book is banned by rabbi Immanuel Schochet. Read the ban here.

There is more at hand. Chabad is also drawn more and more towards Christian tenets. As I read here: “This is fascinating, because what we have seen in the last 20 years is Chabad publicly adopting tenets of Christianity long rejected by Jewish communities and scholars worldwide – most notably a messiah that will come from dead, a second coming.”

The world is changing…

Willem Bilderdijk, bookreview

March 30, 2011

I would like to share with you something of the newest book from Bert Engelfriet: De missie van een Genie, de spirituele wereld van orangist Willem Bilderdijk. (The mission of a genius, the spiritual world of Willem Bilderdijk) I wrote before about Willem Bilderdijk (1756-1831). It’s one of the worlds greatest spirits, at least from the last centuries. However, he was mostly slandered but also received at lot of honor, not at least from a faithful group of Reformed people. It’s like Israel, you are for or against. I tend to see him as the last prophet of the Dutch christian nation, as a remnant of the Protestants, a God-given pillar who encouraged people to go back to the roots. Before the spiritual destruction began.

And the roots are principles of God alone. He was quite against the French Revolution and its contemporary development of the human principles. He counterfeited the rational spirit which was the mainstream of the Enlightenment. To cut off the roots would be ending in Nihilism, he said. In stead of that, he recommended the “spiritual, inner enlightenment and Godly inspiration.” (p.19) The motif of his works relies on the principle of Godly inspiration through His word.

Bilderdijk was quite original. He was aware of the principle of all things from God through which everything exists. An important thing for him to deal with is self-esteem (zelfgevoel), the inner feeling. This, were it is from higher truth, is connected to the elders, the wise men, the root of the truth and to the Holy Spirit.

Bilderdijk had a great wish to join the best of the Jewish and Christian heritage together. So that the Messiah of the Jews and Christians will be recognized as the same. “We (Christians) abide Him with you (Jews), that so exalted Ruler; Your God is our God, your Savior our Prince.” (p.97) He expected a oneness but in quite another way as many church-people do: The Jews must be reinforced in their elderly faith.

As a remnant of the Protestants he was very clear to say that the (protestant) church didn’t come free from the old Roman powers. He said that the early church soon after their flourishing state, dismissed the spiritual principle of Christ and welcomed the Roman principles of power. (p.115) Also later reformations didn’t lead to a breakthrough of the “kingdom of God” because they sought too much support by worldly authority.

About trinity he won’t speak about numbers. “There’s an absolute oneness, not a number one and not a number three.” He supported trinity in a certain sense by consulting ancient rabbi’s. (p.195)

There’s a lot more to say about this beautiful book, but it costs me too much time for now.