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The Jewish Messiah [Paperback]

By Daniel C. Cohn-Sherbok (Author) & Dan Cohn-Sherbok (Author)
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Item description for The Jewish Messiah by Daniel C. Cohn-Sherbok & Dan Cohn-Sherbok...

A detailed exploration of the biblical idea of the Messiah and its development over three thousand years.>

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Item Specifications...

Studio: T. & T. Clark Publishers
Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.49"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 14, 2000
Publisher   T. & T. Clark Publishers
ISBN  0567085864  
ISBN13  9780567085863  

Availability  109 units.
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More About Daniel C. Cohn-Sherbok & Dan Cohn-Sherbok

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok has a Ph.D. in theology from Cambridge University, UK, and an honorary doctorate in divinity from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, USA. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Judaism, University of Wales: Honorary Professor, University of Aberstwyth: Visiting Professor at St Mary's University College and York St John University; and Visiting Research Fellow at Heythrop College, University of London. He has written numerous books, including The Paradox of Anti-Semitism, Dictionary of Jewish Biography," Atlas of Jewish History, Modern Judaism and Judaism Today."

Daniel C. Cohn-Sherbok was born in 1966.

Daniel C. Cohn-Sherbok has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Animals and the Liberation of Theology

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Jewish > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Jewish
3Books > Subjects > History > World > Medieval
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > History of Religion

Reviews - What do customers think about The Jewish Messiah?

A British rabbi, lecturer, abandons traditional Jewish Messianism  Jun 12, 2007
The thesis of this book will surprise and shock Christians used to mainstream discussion of Christian-Jewish relations. Its author is the Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, Lampeter. If accepted, it renders impossible the link between Christianity and modern Judaism that the Christian churches seem bent on developing. One must ask: with what `Judaism' does Christianity have to deal?

The ordinary Christian, I believe, assumes that there is a single "Judaism" existing today with whose leaders Christian leaders can dialogue, and a clearly defined Jewish belief (the `Torah' that comes down to today's Judaism from the Old Testament) which modern Judaism follows. Neither of these is even remotely true. Judaism is divided into a very large number of incompatible groups, Orthodox, Reform and Liberal, religious, secular and (like Cohn-Sherbok, apparently) atheistic. The `Torah' of the Old Testament (which is the foundation document of the New Testament) is no more the supreme law for modern Jews than are the Mishnah, the Talmuds, other more disparate teachings of the rabbis, and purely secular views.

Chapter 1 outlines the standard background material on the idea of the Messiah in the Old Testament, though the author fails to stress that many of the `messianic' texts he quotes from the OT only gradually came to be seen as messianic. The OT concept of `Messiah' was not fully developed. Chapter 2 discusses messianic ideas in early Jewish theological writings not included in the Jewish Bible - Enoch, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, The Psalms of Solomon, Jubilees, Ben Sira and The Wisdom of Solomon. Surprisingly, there is no treatment of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are very significant in this matter.

Chapter Three gives `The Rabbinic View' of the Messiah. Only after that comes the chapter on `Jesus the Messiah'. This order is a serious error, because the NT account of Jesus is the most complete treatment of Messianism in the Jewish world, and it comes long before the rabbis composed the Mishnah and the Talmuds between about 200 AD and 600 AD. The chapter on Jesus, however, gives a generally fair statement of the Christian claims. Cohn-Sherbok does not accept them.

The second block of four chapters is a shock. Cohn-Sherbok showed in Chapter 3 that the Jewish hope for the coming of a political/military/religious Messiah remained alive among Jews in spite of the failure of the two Jewish revolts against Rome, in 66-73 AD, and then under Bar Kochba from 132-135 AD, which most Jews had hoped would end with the military triumph of a Jewish Davidic Messiah.

These four chapters run through the seventeen centuries from the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD up to about the year 1800. They describe how, throughout the Near East and then in Eastern Europe and later in Western Europe, a large number of individual Jews claimed to be the expected Messiah, often claiming to have performed miracles, sometimes leading armed followers in revolt. But every claim ended in the death or killing of the Messianic claimant and his followers. These chapters tell a truly tragic story, not only of the physical suffering of various Jewish populations, but of the repeatedly dashed hopes of the Jews who for centuries kept on dreaming of messianic liberation in their time and for their people. A very disturbing part of these chapters are the astonishing, indeed unreal, exegetical contortions of the later rabbis: following the failure of each messianic claimant, they set about re-calculating the date when the Messiah would at last really come - basing themselves on obscure references to dates or unnamed people in Daniel, counting the number of letters in some `prophetic' passages, or reading incredible meanings into other texts. Often the new calculations based on identical texts would arrive at conclusions that contradicted previous findings. Cohn-Sherbok quotes (p. 86) an interpretation of Genesis 15.12: " `As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and lo, a dread (meaning: Rome), and great (meaning: Persia) darkness (meaning: Greece) fell (Babylon) upon him (meaning: Ishmael)' - in this verse various words were identified with different empires. The implication [here] is that Messiah will come after the emergence of Islam". Really? After every major political or religious upheaval (fall of Rome, rise of Islam, Crusades, Reformation, various pogroms and expulsions) the date of the coming of the hoped-for Messiah was recalculated - only once more to pass without fulfilment, and often with fresh suffering. To read these four chapters is painful in the extreme.

Chapter 9 deals with modern times, the 19th and 20th centuries, especially with the growth of Zionism, the debate over the appropriateness of a Jewish homeland and nation-state, and new Jewish groups forever emerging. Important and interesting.

But the real sting in the book is in the tail. In the final chapter (`Beyond Messianism') and the immediately-following `Conclusion', Cohn-Sherbok totally rejects all Jewish religious belief, and not merely Messianism.

I quote.

"Despite the significance of the Messianic idea for Jewish life in the past, modern Jews have found it increasingly difficult to believe in a miraculous divine intervention which will change the course of human history... Jews should themselves strive to create a better world for all peoples" (p. 171) ... Within this new theological framework, the absolute claims about God, the Messiah, divine redemption, the ingathering of the exiles, and the world to come should be understood as human conceptions stemming from the religious experiences of the ancient Israelites as well as later generations of Jewish sages (p. 196) ... it must be recognized that Jewish eschatological beliefs are human in origin (p. 197) ... the various Jewish messianic figures of the past were all pseudo-Messiahs ... these messianic pretenders suffered from a delusion about their messianic role" (p. 198) .

Cohn-Sherbok shows how modern `Judaism' has lost its way. Isn't it because it rejects the one resurrected and authenticated Messiah, Jesus Christ?

[This Review has figured on the this site UK website since 23 Feb. 2007.]


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