The religious aspect of people’s lives in the modern world is being discussed continuously everywhere. Political leaders, journalists, teachers, scientists and other representatives of the influential part of the world speak about the importance of religion. So, what makes it so important?
Religion makes people’s lives more sensible. It explains the existence, the origin of the Universe, the source of life and people. Usually, religion is considered to be a “shelter,” where people can hide from the most painful problems of the day. People start to believe in God when they cannot believe in people anymore, when something terrible happens in their lives, and when it is tough to find a way out. However, there are such peoples, meaning nationalities, the majority of members of which are keen followers of religion. Jewish people would make an excellent example to prove the statement mentioned above. Despite a great amount of time that had passed since the foundation of Judaism, Jews continue to be true believers, practicing all necessary devotions accurately. Thus, the theme of Jewish religion continues to be of current importance.
Judaism is now practiced in many countries worldwide, including large congregations in the United States and Israel. Though the Jewish people have suffered much because of their religious beliefs and origin (remember Holocaust), they continue to stand strong not forgetting their religious traditions and customs. As the time went by, Judaism started to have several separate movements, and Messianic Judaism is one of them. A group of authors, contributing to the book “The Enduring Paradox: Exploratory Essays in Messianic Judaism,” decided once again to speak about this religious movement, adding interesting studies on the Messianic Judaism.
Discussion on the Messianic Judaism
The book “The Enduring Paradox: Exploratory Essays in Messianic Judaism” came out in 2000 under the editorship of John Fischer. This book represents collected essays by several authors, among who is John Fischer, Patrice Fischer, Walter C. Kaiser, David H. Stern and others. While the editor of the book is John Fischer, he is also the author of other famous books and scientific articles on religious studies, focused on Judaism, Messianic Judaism and Christianity. One of the other important books by Fischer is “The Distortion: 2000 Years of Misrepresenting the Relationship between Jesus the Messiah and the Jewish People”. The greater number of the essays published in the book is written by John Fischer and his wife Patricia Fischer, who have devoted their lives to studying of this matter.
The main goal of the book “The Enduring Paradox: Exploratory Essays in Messianic Judaism” is to discuss the main issues concerning Messianic Judaism in the modern world. This movement appeared more than 2,000 years ago. It is different from usual Judaism, as the followers of Messianic Judaism believe in Yeshua (Jesus Christ in the Jewish language) to be the Messiah that was sent by God to save the people of Israel. The rest of the Jews believe that Messiah hasn’t come yet and is to come in future. The Messianic movement was always suppressed by the Jewish government, which concerned it to be “wrong”. However, it survived and is now at its maturing stage of development. According to statistical evidence, there are over 200 synagogues in the USA, over 60 of them are situated in Israel, and there is a great number of synagogues belonging to Messianic Jews in other countries worldwide.
The book provides readers with essential facts about Messianic Judaism, which will be interesting for anyone who is studying religion, no matter what religion a reader belongs to. Though the essays in the book are written in a scientific manner, and touch important theological and practical aspects of Messianic Judaism, they are not too complicated and thus can serve as a good source of knowledge for students studying Judaism. The book consists of an introduction, explaining why the authors chose to focus on this topic, and 11 essays organized in three separate sections. The first section, called “Messianic Jewish Theology,” concentrates on religious traditions and customs of Jewish people, their national and religious identity, and the roots of Messianic Judaism in Hebrews. It speaks about the Book of Acts, which reflects the activity of Jewish apostles, who were teaching people how to be saved using Judaism. The second section is called “Messianic Jews and Israel.” It is focused on the essential relation between Judaism and the people of Israel. The first article in this section of the book is devoted to Israel and the Law of Return, according to which any Jewish person has the right to come back to Israel and continue his/her life there. This law also allows the members of Jewish families to immigrate to Israel, despite the differences in religions. However, Messianic Jews are strongly opposed from the side of other Jews and the Israeli government, and thus experience difficulties while trying to go back to Israel. Very often Messianic Jew is considered to be “non-believers”; for this reason, they might be excluded from Jewish communities, and thus, may be forbidden to stay in Israel. It is a very controversial matter, because, as it was mentioned above, Jewish people are allowed to bring their families to Israel to keep together, but Messianic Jews seem to be an exception. This happens due to the laws of the Israeli Supreme Court of 1989 and 1992. The same situation applies to naturally born Jews, who were converted to a different religion. The second section also addresses the issues concerning the importance of Jerusalem (the capital of Israel) to Messianic Jews and Jewish prophecies. The third section of the book “The Enduring Paradox: Exploratory Essays in Messianic Judaism”, which is called “Practical issues for Messianic Jews and Non-Jews”, concentrates on the modern life of Messianic Jews, their expansion in the world and particularly in the Unite States, and the differences between naturally born Jews, God-fearers (Gentiles), Foreigners, and Pagans. The last essay is written by the editor of the book – John Fischer.
Generally speaking, the authors, contributing to the study, are trying to find common traits between Judaism and Christianity, to show Messianic Judaism in a whole different perspective and to determine the relations between Messianic and non-Messianic Jews.
Currently, Messianic Jews continue to face aggression from the side of the Israeli government, as well as the Jewish people. Because of this, Messianic movements are in constant struggle to protect their religious identity, and the effective tool helping in this struggle is the bringing in new members to the movement. It is possible to say that Messianic Jews have been rather successful at this point. This is proved by the number of followers of Messianic Judaism worldwide.
As it has been mentioned earlier in the paper, the book “The Enduring Paradox: Exploratory Essays in Messianic Judaism” aims at discussing the history and the modern life of Messianic Judaism. It provides the readers with relevant information concerning both Judaism and Christianity as they relate to one another. From my point of view, the authors contributing to the study have adequately addressed the issue, which allows scientific researchers, students, and followers of Messianic Judaism to receive a better understanding of this movement while reading the book.
Another reason why the book is so popular among the readers of religious studies is that the authors of the essays published in the book are considered to be the important figures at this field, especially Louis Goldberg, Walter Kaiser and of course John Fischer.
1. Fischer, John. “The Enduring Paradox: Exploratory Essays in Messianic Judaism”. Messianic Jewish Publishers, 2000.
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