A few weeks ago at the Hashivenu theological forum, I had the opportunity to pick up Dr. David Rudolph and Dr. Joel Willitts’ new book – hot off the press, Introduction to Messianic Judaism (Zondervan, 2013).
This book is the next great resource for serious engagement with Messianic Judaism. The book contains three sections:
The first part of the book contains thirteen articles written by leading leaders and thinkers from within our movement, on a variety of topics – from the history of Messianic Judaism to Messianic Jews in the land of Israel. The voices also reflect a variety of perspectives, including positions within the mainstream congregational movement, the missions side of the movement, as well as representation from Israel.
The first part really does a great job providing the contours and outline of the Messianic Jewish movement from an insider perspective.
The second part of the book, which I find pretty exciting, contains articles from leading Christian thinkers on Messianic Judaism … including some of the most acclaimed Bible scholars and theologians of our day. These scholars include the likes of Richard Bauckham, R. Kendall Soulen, Markus Bockmuehl, Douglas Harink, etc.
The final part of the book, written by Christian scholar, Dr. Joel Willitts, provides an informative summary of the chapters, we well as presents a compelling conclusion.
For a complete list of the book’s chapters and authors, visit the review at the Gathering Sparks Blog.
Dr. Willitts admits to having known very little about the Messianic Jewish movement prior to beginning his doctoral work at Cambridge University. However, as a doctoral student he became great friends with Dr. David Rudolph, who opened the door to him of looking at Scripture and theology from a whole other perspective. In his conclusion, Dr. Willitts presents a compelling argument for the theological implications of the Messianic Jewish movement, and the seriousness to which it should be taken by all people of faith.
In a brief summary of Willits, the book is important to Christians because:
“It informs the church of a modern move of God’s spirit of which it is largely ignorant. Learning about the Messianic Jewish community should result in resounding praise and glory to the God of Israel for “making good his promises” to his people (Rom. 15:8, CJB). Second, Introduction to Messianic Judaism introduces a post-supersessionst reading of the New Testament … Third, [it] presents a robust ecclesiology that strengthens evangelical Christian ministry by reimagining church planting and mission … Fourth, the book reminds Gentile Christians of the Jewish roots of their Christian faith … and helps to inform Christians about how they can help meet the communal and individual needs of Jewish people who believe in Jesus (p. 317-318).”
But this book is important not just to Christians. It is important for Messianic Jews to understand ourselves. It is important for Jews who do not believe in Yeshua to understand Messianic Judaism as a significant movement worth taking seriously. And finally, the book is helpful to anyone who simply wants a credible and informed introduction to the subject.
Every Messianic Jew, or anyone who cares about this movement, should have a copy of this book on their bookshelf. I highly recommend this book.
Additionally, to go along with the book, I also recommend its accompanying website which helps provide an excellent online introduction to Messianic Judaism – www.MessianicJudaism.net. I have now linked to this website from a number of our own sites.
The book is now available to purchase through Amazon.com in paperback or Kindle edition … or from other major booksellers.