Reviews - What do customers think about The Suffering Servant of Isaiah?
Wonderful Source of Jewish Interpretation Mar 16, 2007
The first thing that you must know about the book is that it is not the writings of a Christian, as another reviewer has claimed. The only writing that the author did was the introduction, apart from that, it is merely a collection of Jewish interpretations from the Talmud, Targums, and other Rabinical documents.
Jewish rabbis today now claim that Isaiah 53 is not concerning the Messiah, but Israel. They would say that the messianic interpretation is the Christian interpretation, not the Jewish one. But as this book clearly shows, the history of Judaism shows otherwise. The original interpretation of Isaiah 53 by Jewish rabbis was that the passage was speaking of an individual, and this text is the primary source of the Rabbinical understanding of Masaich ben Yoseph.
I will give just a couple of examples of the texts quoted by the book:
From the Midrash Thanhumi: Rabbi Nahman says, The word "man" in the passage...refers to the Messiah, the son of David, as it is written, "Behold the man whose name is Zemah"; where Yonathan interprets, Behold the man Messiah; and so it is said, "A man of pains and known to sickness(p. 11)
From the Mahsor, or the Prayer Book for the Day of Atonement: Messiah our righteousness is departed from us: horror hath seized us, and we have none to justify us. He hath borne the yoke of our iniquities, and our transgression, and is wounded because of our transgression. He beareth our sins on his shoulder that he may pardon our iniquities.(p.239)
From the writings of Rabbi Don Yitzchak Abarbanel of the Targums of Jonathan ben Uzziel: The first question is to ascertain to whom (this Scripture) refers: for the learned among the Nazarenes expounded it of the man who was crucified in Jerusalem at the end of the second Temple and who, according to them, was the Son of God and took flesh in the virgin's womb, as is stated in their writings. But Yonathan ben Uzziel interprets it in the Thargum of the future Messiah; and this is also the opinion of our own learned men in the majority of their Midrashim...(p. 153)
The entire collection of works is most useful, and insightful.
Total waste of money Oct 20, 2004
This was a 19th century apology by a Chrstian named Pusey who wanted to prove that the Jews had not always said that the "suffering servant" in Isaiah 53 was the nation of Israel. His contention was that the suffering servant was Jsus, and that early Jews knew the messiah was to suffer (based on Isaiah 53). He set out to peruse Jewish writings to bolster his theory and the result was this book which is now quoted throughout the internet.
E. B. Pusey was a Chrstian theologian who lived in the 19th century. So he wasn't Jewish and his knowledge of "Jewish interpretation" of anything was limited (to be kind). Pusey read Hebrew, German, Aramaic and Arabic - but he was not learned in Judaism. So when he "gleaned" through writings he didn't know the difference between theology and story telling (which abounds in Jewish writings).
His thesis was in error -- nowhere in Jewish theology or writings is the messiah considered to be a "suffering servant." The quotes in this book are all from mystical or midrashic (story telling) sources -- or non normative Jews.
The whole premise is wrong (that early Jews saw Isaiah's servant as the messiah and changed it in the 12th century with Rashi). As early as 248 CE a church leader (Origen) quoted Jewish sources that the servant in Isaiah was the nation of Israel (see Contra Celsum by Origen).
Pusey wrote a VERY long introduction to this book, which contains many, many errors. Two fellow Oxford men did the translations -- which are very selective and often mistranslated. The translations were courtesy of Driver and Neubauer.
Although the title speaks of Isaiah 53, the misquotes often ignore that chapter, and often Isaiah itself, to glean misquotes and distortions from various sources.
Read the intorduction to the book itself and you will see that Neubauer DID NOT want to include the passages that appear from Martini as they are forgeries. However Pusey insisted that they appear (as he states in his introduction) and so there now appears a text that is claimed to come from the talmud Sanhedrin, which disagrees with all texts of Sanhedrin, and is IN FACT taken from Martini.
This issue of falsification and distortion is a common one. The targum Jonathan is quoted for verse 52:13 but not 52:14 or 53:1.
The Zohar (II 212) is quoted in part but NEVER in full where it would contradict what the quoter is trying to prove. The same could be said about the Ramban (who says that the simple meaning of the passage is that it is about Israel) or the Alsheich who mentions the messiah, but says that the messiah he means is King David. etc etc.
This, then, is the source that "proves" we Jews changed the meaning of the servant from the messiah to Israel. Hardly bullet-proof and yet time and again we must refute it.
1. Isaiah clearly identifies the servant as Israel (there are no chapters in the original document).
2. An early church father, Origen, in 248 CE, speaks of Jews telling him the servant was Israel and not the messiah.
3. Pusey's 19th century book states we Jews changed it from the messiah to Israel with Rashi, circa 12th century CE yet many of the quotes he uses as "proof" are dated long after Rashi - as late as the 16th century CE.
4. The book throws in quotes from midrash aggadah, zohar and targum as if they were pshat (plain meaning) without educating the reader to the mysticism, allegory and story telling inherent in the different formats.
5. Apologists will quote a sentence where a source speaks of a messiah without stating they have also identified the servant as Israel (or Moses or someone else) and ignoring the messiah in question is moshiach ben Yosef not David. Nowhere do they explain who moshiach ben Yosef IS.
6. The book quotes Karaites as Jewish sources. Karaites are about as representative of Judaism as Mormons are of mainstream Xianity. Karaites do not follow the oral law. Yet nowhere does the book identify for the reader that Karaites do not follow Jewish teaching.
Your money is far better spent on other resources.
Great reference !!!!!!! Nov 28, 2001
This is a very unique reference book. It contains English translations of as much as 50+ Jewish commentaries on the Suffering Servant Passage, namely 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah. Including but not limited to such rabbinical commentaries as Rashi, Radak, Abarbanel, Zohar, Rambam, Ramban, and Ibn Krispin. It also contains several commentaries that were written by so called Quaraites, Jewish Bible scholars who rejected the Talmud. In my opinion this book is a "must to have" for all who are serious about Bible studies, equally Jews and Christians.