Tuesday, April 26, 2011
A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel by Abba Hillel Silver, D.D., published in New York by the MacMillian Company in 1927. This book was the result of his doctoral thesis at Hebrew Union College in 1925. Dr. Silver traces the progress of messianic thought in Hebraism and Judaism. There are some very interesting things said in this book and some perplexing ones. First, the book doesn't reveal an expectation of two messiahs; Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David, the suffering messiah and the conquering messiah until after the beginning of Islam. I had always been told that that idea of two messiahs was prevalent in Old Testament times. It bears further investigation. In addition, the constant Jewish attempt to set a date for their messiah to come parallels Christian attempts to calculate the Second Coming of Christ. To many of the great Jewish sages of the past this was an exercise in occultism and wickedness. In addition all of the playing with numbers as having great meaning, hidden Bible codes, and secret messages within the scriptures are a way of avoiding the commands of God, or so it appears. On page 251 Silver says, "Jewish mysticism in general based its authority not upon vision or revelation, but upon an inspired and occult interpretation of the words of the Bible." Sadly, I have seen many Christians in the last forty years spending a great deal of time, not so much in trying to obey God's word, as in trying to figure out a hidden meaning in it. It is as sad an exercise for prophecy mongerers as it was for the Jewish kabbalists of the Middle Ages. This is a book worth reading, but if you're into setting dates and prophecy-end times conferences it will make you angry and possibly have you reevaluate what your Christian focus has been.
Posted by Frederick Widdowson