MAPPING MESSIANIC JEWISH THEOLOGY: A CONSTRUCTIVE APPROACH
Richard Harvey, Paternoster, 2009
As I said in my review of Harvey’s first chapter, my intent is not to give away so much content from MMJT that you will find the blog discussion a replacement for buying the book. Simply put, MMJT along with Stern’s Messianic Judaism, Kinzer’s Postmissionary Messianic Judaism, and Juster’s Jewish Roots is part of an essential library of Messianic Judaism.
In the second chapter of MMJT, the topic is previous studies of Messianic Judaism. You may be surprised to find out how many PhD dissertations, monographs, and books have been written already about Messianic Judaism by Jewish, Christian, and Messianic Jewish scholars (even one Jewish-Buddhist scholar).
Chapter 2 is only about historical, anthropological, sociological studies of Messianic Judaism. Theological treatments of Messianic Judaism are reserved for chapter 3.
Questions raised by the writers surveyed in MMJT chapter 2 include:
–What is the relationship between fundamentalist Christianity, evangelical Christianity, and various Hebrew Christian/Messianic Jewish groups that have emerged?
–Are Messianic Jews Christians, Jews, or neither?
–Will Gentiles in the movement dominate and remove Messianic Judaism from the sphere of Jewish life?
–Will Torah observance and Jewish tradition lead to a departure from Yeshua-faith amongst Messianic Jews?
–Will Messianic Judaism emerge as a religious tradition in its own right, distinct from both Judaism and Christianity?
–Is Messianic Judaism primarily about reconstructing 1st century practices of faith in Yeshua (a la the book of Acts, what many scholars call early Jewish Christianity) or about structuring a modern Jewish movement for Yeshua which has its origins in first century Messianic Judaism? (In other words, is Jewish tradition since the first century vital or alien to the aims of Messianic Judaism?)
–Has Messianic Judaism transcended its origins in Christian missions to the Jews? If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?
–Is the Hebrew Christian, parachurch organization, mission from within the church to the Jews approach a part of Messianic Judaism or to be regarded as a passing stage, a failed project, a separate continuing stream, or what?
–One element in the formation of Messianic Judaism has been a repudiation of pagan-syncretistic elements in Christian tradition. What role does this repudiation play in the formation of Messianic Judaism?
–Is Daniel Cohn-Sherbok right that Messianic Judaism is a seventh branch of Judaism and should be recognized by all Jews who believe in pluralistic tolerance?
–Is Walter Riggans right that Messianic Judaism must develop more into the Jewish hermeneutical models (ways of interpreting Bible texts) instead of dwelling in Reformational Christian models (contextual exegesis)?
Summary and Discussion
The many studies summarize in chapter 2 span the period from the early 1970’s into the 2000’s. They cover a spectrum all the way from early congregations barely emerged from Hebrew Christianity and Christian missions to the Jews to pentecostal-charismatic forms of Messianic Judaism to non-pentecostal, evangelical Christian style Messianic Judaism to emerging Messianic Judaism more of the Hashivenu, Jewish-traditional approach.
Theological studies of Messianic Judaism are reserved for chapter 3.
What questions from the above list interest you most and what are your thoughts about them?
This discussion is to be a place for free exchange of ideas and ethical dialogue (see tab above, “Ethics of Discussion,” if you want pointers for ways to dialogue without insulting).
I am not interested in merely hearing ideas similar to my own. If you are not Messianic Jewish, but you are interested in the discussion, don’t hesitate to join in.