- Since I regarded the movement evangelical, I was not surprised about such reaction. Occasionally, evangelicalism appears to me not explicitly fond of social science.
- When the late Lucie Begov returned from Auschwitz to Vienna, she made it her life-goal to find out how the Holocaust became possible at all. She concluded and conveyed her message:
As long as the common inheritance of the peoples of Christian tradition remains preserved, as long as there are a „Jewish question” and an anti-Semitism among the peoples, the free, democratic West-Europe, which is at stake here, will not be able to achieve its contribution to the harmonization of humanity, to the realization of a today still utopian, better world (Begov 1983: 307, English ed.).
- The name could also indicate that the Israeli alliance consciously embraced pluriformity.
- I had nearly finished this essay when I found a recent Dutch study of the movement (Meijer 1997, 1998). While it appears like a social science study, its intent is theological, performed by an agrarian engineer, who associated himself with one particular group. The study measures statements of Messianic Jewish leaders against conservative Dutch Protestant theology. Ordinary members and women get little to no voice. The publication shows many tables and long quotes from interviews, related to and structured after Dutch theological issues. The colored pictures and the text of the later and much smaller publication, intended for wider Dutch public, largely ignore the cultural plurality of the movement. Its pictures represent only one particular side of the movement, which shapes its life after the synagogue, which presents not even the majority part of it. I observed that Christian organizations like to stuff their publications on Israel with pictures of an Orthodox Jewish appearance. Yet at the same time, they may not at all appreciate believers in Jesus actually living the Orthodox Jewish way. Apparently, their publications „sell” better with an Orthodox Jewish vernier. I will not treat this study here for two reasons. Firstly, because of its narrowing theological national particularity and limitation. Secondly, because it disregards the security of the respondents, which is contradictory to my approach.
- The number before the slash, „/”, refers to a particular respondent. The number after the slash, „/”, refers to the year of the interview. Appendix A2 shows a table with a systematically overview of the research population while protecting its anonymity.
- Later I found a similar distinction in literature of the movement (Stern 1991a: 199).
- See the remark on pursuit of theory versus description in the preface.
- For example, with his „Rock of Israel” (Weiner 1961: 223), already Ben Gurion took advantage of ambiguity. A rabbi and a Marxist had a problem about a phrase in the Declaration of Independence of Israel. Ben Gurion suggested the words„Rock of Israel” which each group might interpret according to its own philosophy” (idem). Weiner doubted that ambiguity would solve differences lastingly (Weiner 1961: 223, 245).
- In daily events exploitation of the supernatural became not obvious. Still, evangelization could be considered to thrive on an underlying exploitative understanding, on „Tikkun-ha'olam”, literally „fixing up the world, ... hastens the coming of the Messiah” (Stern 1991a: 47). Believers also „expect that Messianic Judaism will succeed in reaching its goal of healing the split between the Church and the Jewish people” (Stern 1991a: 58).
- The complete list I included as Appendix A1.
- Appendix 2 holds a table that presents the respondents according to the fourfold typology and other criteria, while at the same time it preserves their anonymity.
- Only once in the Netherlands I observed a man wearing something like phylacteria, tefillin, during a Christian church service. Though they appeared differently from how Orthodox phylacteria usually look like. I had no opportunity to inquire into that observation. So I cannot say whether it was a Jewish expression at all, or some other kind of religious, or still other expression.
- After Weiner, Zaretsky observed the field in 1972 and 1973 (Zaretsky 1974: 395). Yad La'Ahim, which means Help to Our Brothers, is a militant nonprofit organization whose ideology is „clear: it represents Orthodox Judaism, and anything incompatible with that should be eliminated from the State of Israel” (Beit-Hallahmi 1991: 210). Since the fifties they struggled against old and new „groups, of which Messianic Jews were only some, which culminated in the passing of an anti-missionary law by the Knesset in 1977” (idem). Their publications may be interesting and revealing, but apparently do not exhibit scholarly intent. Beit-Hallahmi, who explicates on this „helping hand” in relation to new religions in Israel between 1970 and 1990, mentions Messianic Jews only sideways (Beit-Hallahmi 1991: 210, 216). It may be time for a fresh look on them through the eyes of an outsider.
- Jesus was used to worship on Sabbaths in a synagogue (Luke 4:16) and perfectly accustomed to its traditions (Luke 4:17). Though it may seem only all too obvious, I often find Christians taken off guard when they become aware of the fact that Jesus was a pious Jew all of his life. He never ever attended a gentile Christian church. They did not even exist yet in his time. The same is true of his disciples, who used to worship in the second temple in Jerusalem (Acts 2:46, 3:1, 5:42) until it got destroyed in 70 A. D. Paul, right after his supernatural encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:5, 9:20), and then on his mission journeys around the Mediterranean, ever set out to evangelize in the local synagogue (Acts 13:5. 14. 42). If none was available, he looked for a Jewish worship place at a river (Acts 16:13), where there was at least running water, which was necessary for the ritual ablutions, immersions. Only in the face of official opposition did Paul leave the synagogue and turned to non-Jews (Acts 13: 46). Therein some have perceived the first hints towards a gentile Christian church. - I regard New Testament texts trustworthy for straight forward quotation, since they resemble one of the best preserved and researched text collections of the ancient times (Bruce 1976, Goppelt 1978). Jewish authors can refer to it on their own (Buber 1994, Ben-Chorin 1994), but also together with Christian authors (Lapide and Weizsäcker 1980).
- I remember no church that displayed the Shema. Only „Das Juwel des Barocks, die Karlskirche” (Ziak 1964: 178) in Vienna, as a probably rare exception, displays at least in Hebrew the Tetragrammaton,
above its high altar. Like „black fire on white fire”, the black letters stand in a golden triangle, obviously referring to the Trinity, surrounded by a wide corona of beams of gold.
- Enculturation in Christian mission regards the particularity of the culture in which Christianity gets negotiated. Its approach can be regarded as an active criticism of Eurocentric Christian mission praxises. Enculturation infers the development of awareness of cultural conditioning of Christianity in its occidental expression. It aims at transferring the cruciality of Jesus Christ for redemption in such a way into a foreign culture that its religious questions are taken seriously and answered (Brockhaus 10 1989: 514).
- An interestingly similar case in the Netherlands appears to be R. Süss. Yet Süss shows no intent to start his own religious group. He joined an Orthodox Synagogue (Trouw 1 4 1999: 16).
- These rituals, many prayers and prescribed times refer to the ancient temple service. The whole Siddur is a „supplication” for what has become impossible after the destruction of the second temple, the sacrificial temple service that involved burn-offerings at certain times. The whole order of the Siddur kept alive the remembrance of the second temple and the hope for a third temple, and the restoration of a national Davidic rulership „next year in Jerusalem” (Donin 1980: 11-14, 293-294, Petuchovski 1981).
- While I finish this paper, I am told that the MAC worked out detrimental, as the induced foreign protests often failed to be Israel friendly. This would shed an incorrect and unfortunate light on the movement. Whenever I read appeals of the MAC, they warned that protests must be positive about the Jewish state and not be excuses for anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli expressions.
- Interestingly, no interviewee referred to evangelization as a means to hasten the coming of the Messiah. Literature very rarely does so (Stern 1991a: 47, 58). If evangelization would be more outspokenly presented as a means to hasten „the second coming of Christ”, it would be justified to interpreted this motive in Droogers' terms as an exploitative mode of supernatural construction (Droogers 1993).
- This can literally mean into the front of the congregation during a regular service.
- In the first three Months of 1999 I learned of three instances in which so called „zealots” threw Molotov cocktails. In the first instance a hose of a Messianic Jewish family got ruined, while they themselves remained unhurt. In the second instance the Jerusalem Baptist bookshop got damaged. Again no person was hurt. This instance shows that the „zealots” make no distinction between Christians and Jews, but regard both as „mission” that has to be fought. The third attack was against a popular Messianic leader. On a Sunday morning in March 1999, at 3.45 AM he woke from noise. Coming to his living room he saw fire at the window, on the second floor of an apartment building. Opening it, he found the bottle of the „cocktail” did not break. He drowned the burning bottle in a pot of water in his kitchen. The police was there within five minutes. His presence of mind and cool reaction saved not only his own life and property, but also the some twenty other families in the apartment house. Had the fire spread in the living room, it is questionably that he could have escaped and what had happened to the other inhabitants of the building. This case shows how reckless the „zealots” have become. Apparently it is only a question of time when such murderous attempt will succeed. Still, the result also of this attack on the life of the popular Messianic Jewish leader showed results adversary to the obvious intent of the attackers. The TV made an interview with him in his home and congregation. He could show what had happened to him, carefully explain the Messianic Jewish cause, what they believed and why they are persecuted by some probably ultra-orthodox „zealots”. However, a publication of the MAC that reported this instance also complained that the Israeli police would only „file” such incidents and do nothing to investigate them to seek out the attackers.
- I found myself on Sunday morning having a Monday feeling, as I set out to work again in Israel. I realized this when I wanted to ride off my car from the parking place of a chapel and the pastor explained to me that he needed every free place for his members who started arriving for the Sunday service. I had completely lost track of the Christian time frame. I had „gone native”, so to speak.
- The particular similarity and difference between the Catholic church and the synagogue, as well as their ancient painfull relationship, finds expression in a legion of jokes. The following a Messianic leader told:
During the Medieval time a pope planned to expell the Jews from Rome. The Jewish leadership petitioned. He agreed to allwo them to stay if they found one Jew who could outwit him in a spiritual discussion. Since they regarded the case hopeless, yet still wanted to leave no stone unturned, the Jewish leaders decided that a Jew, who had no reputation to loose whatsoever, should face this unequal duell. So they asked Moishele their street sweeper to stand in for his fellow-Jews. He agreed on the condition that the dispute would be held without speaking even a single word. Again the Pope agreed, on the condition that he would have the first word. Moishele was content with this, too.
Like many jokes this one also thrives on the ambiguity of symbols and unresolved differences. While the Pope treats creeds, Moishele is after concrete deeds. Thereby the most simple of the Jewish community outwits the most outstanding Christian authority. Real communication happens on a high level on the grounds of mis-communication on different levels. The practical Jewish concern surpasses the theoretical Christian one. The great famous Pope loses, the little unknown Jew wins. Miraculously the Pope must give in. The joke reminds one of Moses facing the pharao, where his and the wizard's sticks transform into snakes, yet Moses” snake eats up all the others. He has the stronger magic.
When the great day came, the Pope and Moishele took seat on a podium. The Roman Curie and the Jewish leaders stood on either side to witness the dispute. The Pope began and raised his hand high, showing three stretched fingers. Moishele answered instantly, shook his head and stretched out one finger above his head. Now the pope drew a circle with his hand above his head. Again Moishele answered in an instant, shook his head and pointed with his finger to the ground in front of his feet. Finally the pope took out wavers and a goblet. Instantly Moishele reclined in his chair and brought forth an apple from his garment. The Pope jumped to his feet and shouted: „I quit! You can't beat that man. The Jews may stay!”
The stunned Curie surrounded their pope, asking what this all meant. „First I lifted three fingers to show the Trinity. But he raised one, because God is of course still only one. Next I drew a circle above my head to depict God's omnipresence. Yet he correctly pointed to the ground between us, correctly insisting that God was really present also right here. Finally I took out the wavers and the goblet to testify for Christs atonment of sins. Yet he too knew he knew better, relaxed and took out the apple to speak to me of genuine sin. There is nothing to reply. The Jews may stay.”
Also Moishele was besieged with questions. „Well,” said he, „first the Pope lifted three fingers to tell me we had three days to leave. I lifted one to tell him that we would not even leave one single day. Then he waved his hand over his head that we had to leave from everwhere. I pointed in front of me to tell him that we would stay right here. When he gave up and took out his lunch, I also got out mine, the apple.”
- The discussion around the „royal intercommunion” (Brico 1998: 3) during the ecumenical wedding of the Protestant Dutch prince Maurits and his Catholic bride Marilène, on 2nd June 1998 in Apeldoorn, refreshed the awareness about and the validity of this ancient and classic gap between the two churches.
- Yet type ℸ Israeli Messianic Jewish architects draw up modern synagogues with balconies. In case a group of Orthodox Jews would recognize Jesus as Messiah and join the congregation, for their sake the balcony could be used to comply with the tradition to have different rooms during worship for men and women.
- The man was member of a type ℷ (gimel) congregation. I never interviewed him with a recorder.
- I could not verify this observation and critique. Even the so obviously American Lubavitcher at Lod airport, who friendly explained to me the complex production of tefillin, made no fanatic impression on me. He exposed a joyful, patient and warm personality. I can report only one encounter with a religious fanatic. When I once on my own visited the Western Wall, a man yelled at me from behind, „are you Jewish?” First I felt not addressed at all as the tone was so unfriendly. Yet there were so little people that at the second shout I could no doubt any longer that I was meant. So I went to the young man who sorted prayer books and tefillin on a table. He threw me a glance, „make sure your head remains covered”. Of course had I a skullcap with a clasp. I asked him to show me how to use it properly. He refused and instead threw a little paper at me. It listed Noachite rules for gentiles, similar to those in Acts 15:29 (Stern 1991a: 99-100). The encounter vividly reminded me of Christian sectarians in Europe. Disrespectful fanaticism or fundamentalism is no privilege of any particular religion.
- This point of view strikingly corresponds with Begov's „Message” (Begov 1983).
- In March 1999 was a new attempt to burn the new building that fortunately failed.
- 2 Samuel 6:5.
- Once I was „channel hopping” and found that BBC showed a documentary about an African tribe worshipping a river god, while a Dutch station showed a documentation about the Toronto movement. The similarity was striking. In both cases the worshippers, mainly women, resisted to surrender to the supernatural. Finally they did, in the West they were laid on hands, and fell back over like a clog of fire wood. In Africa they entered a trance-like stage by singing and dancing and also fell back over. The Western meeting took place in a hall, where people were laid on the ground to recover. In Africa the meeting happened in a river. The ladies were caught up, so they would not fall into the water, and brought to a safe place. Similar forms I have observed with type ℸ
rabbis. The phenomenon of „falling in the spirit” deserves attention. While the believers ascribe it fully to the working of the supernatural, I have the impression that also the social dimension appears to play a vital role in this experience.
- This is an obvious hint to the Gospel of Matthew 16:18.
- Occasionally, Israelis depicted Russian and other immigrants as underdeveloped and bothersome.
- It appears to me that abroad Messianic Jewish leaders are more easily called rabbi.
- 36. Marc 2:10.
- Yet at the same time it is exactly and apparently only a type ℷ (gimel) group that displays a cultural artefact with full human beings, diametral to Jewish Orthodox tradition (Leymarie 1981).
- 38. It might be an interesting multicultural study whether Orthodox Judaism felt the existence of the supernatural questioned likewise. If so, they might have found different answers to „prove” the existence of the supernatural by obvious supernatural phenomena to a secularizing environment.
- 39. The Didache, „Die Lehre der zwölf Apostel”, a script contributing to constituting the Patristic, writings of the fathers, offers insights into praxis and regulations of charismatic phenomena within synagogal groups in Israel in immediate post-New Testament times (Lilje 1956).
- 40. Interestingly, after I had finished this paper, I found that one Israeli Messianic Jewish author explicated exactly on the same two differences in a fine, human manner. Treating „interpersonal holiness”, he called for „being a mentsh”, German Mensch, man (Stern 1991a: 191-194).
- Quotes are taken from a draft that was not (yet) intended for quotation (Wells 1997: 21).
- The historical drama film Agora - Spanish: Ágora, 2009 - visualises the painful relationship between Chrisitians and Jews.
Historical fiction highlights the relationship between religion and science
amidst the decline of Greco-Roman polytheism and Christianization.
„Agora” refers to the gathering place in ancient Greece, similar to the Roman forum.
Rachel Weisz plays Hypatia, a female mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in late 4th-century Roman Egypt,
who investigates the flaws of the geocentric Ptolemaic system and the heliocentric model that challenges it.
Hypatia struggles to save the knowledge of classical antiquity from destruction by religious turmoil,
Christian superstition and social unrest.