THERE IS NO MESSIAH—& YOU'RE IT: The Stunning Transformation of Judaism's Most Provocative Idea

Robert N. Levine, Author . Jewish Lights $21.95 (170p) ISBN 978-1-58023-173-2

The concept of the Messiah arouses discord between Jews and Christians. In classical Judaism, God will ultimately send the Messiah to raise the dead and open the way toward the restoration of Eden. For Christians, the second coming of Jesus, the true Messiah, will bring final redemption and the kingdom of God on earth. Levine, a Reform rabbi, ably explores these differences while emphasizing Jewish notions of the Messiah and their history. He traces the stories of the false messiahs such as Bar Kokhba in the first century, Sabbatai Tzvi in the 17th century and Jacob Frank in the 18th century. Also, he examines the question of whether or not the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was the Messiah, as some of his followers believe. Throughout, Levine explains his own idea about the Messiah by exhorting his readers to accept responsibility for "the messianic mission intended for each one of us." He argues that individual efforts to follow the mitzvoth (commandments) constitute the kind of "messianic behavior" that will prepare for the Messiah and bring the Messianic Age. His inspirational emphasis on personal accountability offers a distinctive message. While it is primarily directed to Jews, Levine's wide-ranging consideration of the idea of the Messiah suggests the utility of his thesis and the general appeal of his book even though it is a departure from normative Judaism. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
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