I seldom find a book that grabs my attention so strongly that I would rather read it than eat dinner. I discovered this book in February of 2016 and have kept it nearby for continual reference. It isn't a novel, but it's intriguing.
Since the Bible is my all-time favorite book, what am I talking about? For decades, I've told people if they want to know Jesus, read the Gospel of John. But people have read it for centuries; and because they don't know the history, they don't get the full impact of what took place.
In the first chapter, this book informs us that the Gospel of John is not anti-Jewish; it is pro-Christ. But some scholars -- who can't or won't accept the Christ of the Bible -- go to great lengths to try to explain the mysteries of the Bible and of the universe. Rather than accept the Christ of the Bible, they laboriously talk about the cosmological christ -- the concepts of God, but without a real personal God. More on that in a minute.
So, what is it that grabbed my attention? "The Jewish Gospel of John -- Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel."
The author is Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg who teaches Jewish Studies for Christians in Tel Aviv, Israel. The following is part of the review I wrote for the book in 2016.
Many with a higher-criticism mentality search for the Cosmological Christ, or the Historical Jesus. They attempt to find "it" or "him" in the depths of eastern religions, ancient philosophies, outer space, and/or human kindness -- whatever that is. They spend enormous amounts of time and money to search for a quality of life that this mythical Jesus presents, but they do not want to accept the God that Jesus ultimately is. Much of this is because they haven't been able to understand the message in the Bible. It's true that sometimes the Bible can be difficult to understand because many of the translators failed to recognize both the culture-specific idioms and idiomatic phrases and the history behind the cultures. But Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg's book, "The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of all Israel," helps to overcome many of these shortcomings.
One of my favorite paragraphs in the book is on page 10. Dr. Eli said: "While the juxtaposition of law and the gospel was present in the Church Fathers, it is not until the time of the Reformation that the juxtaposing [contrasting] of law and grace became pronounced. This became a dominant emphasis. The opposite of grace became law; the opposite of law became grace. In all reality, the opposite of law was never grace but lawlessness. Just as the opposite of grace was never law but disgrace." I heartily agree.
"The Jewish Gospel of John" is not just another book about Jesus that was written from a Jewish perspective. We current readers need to step outside of our Gentile understanding and read the Bible from the point of view that aligns with the Hebrew culture; and Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg enables us to do that.
Instead of reading it as though it was written for Gentile Christians today, "The Jewish Gospel of John" reveals the Gospel in light of first-century Israel. The book proves what the late Krister Stendahl (Swedish theologian and New Testament scholar, and Church of Sweden Bishop of Stockholm) stated long ago: "Our vision is often more abstracted by what we think we know than by our lack of knowledge."
Instead of challenging the long-held interpretations (and many misunderstandings) of well-known stories, Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, with the skill of an experienced tour guide, lets us hear the Gospel fresh with those who heard it in the first century. The real Jesus is revealed in Dr. Eli's book.
Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Head of the Talmud and Late Antiquity Department, Tel-Aviv University, said, "For some time, research on the Gospels has suffered from stagnation, and there is a feeling that there is not much new that one can say. In light of this, Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg's new commentary on the Gospel of John, with its original outlook on the identity of the original audience and the issues at stake, is extremely refreshing."
I heartily recommend "The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of all Israel."
Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg is President and CEO of Israel Bible Center. The book can be found at Amazon.com.
You'll be glad you did.
-- Gene Linzey is a speaker, author and mentor. Send comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
Religion on 09/04/2019
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