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Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History    by David Klinghoffer order for
Why the Jews Rejected Jesus
by David Klinghoffer
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

In his concluding chapter, 'A Kingdom of Priests', David Klinghoffer writes, 'You would be right at this point in wondering if any of the reasons we have touched on ... is the real one for the Jewish rejection of Christ, or if maybe only one of these is the ultimate reason while the rest are secondary ... to try to answer this question in a theological, a mystical, and finally a historical way ... all come down to the same ultimate truth. All the reasons we have considered so far are genuine and substantive, but they may not be ultimate.'

Klinghoffer, a journalist, takes a historical approach, telling us 'the Jews are ... inclined to debate and question.' Though he addresses a controversial subject, it is clear that his writing is meant neither to anger nor to add to existing prejudices. In the book he examines and analyzes how the momentum of followers of Jesus began with a small number, breaking away from Judaism to form the Christian church. Klinghoffer tells us that his major purpose in writing the book is 'to explain why the Jews, or most of them, continued with their Jewish religion and practices and refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah'.

He reviews the history of Israel and Judaism from the year A.D. 27 to modern times, and the relationship between Jews and Christians. He tells us that only a small percentage of Jews even knew of the existence of Jesus, and discusses why many Jews were skeptical of Jesus's claims to be the Messiah. Klinghoffer suggests that Jesus's 'first priest', Paul, was not highly educated as claimed, that he 'misrepresented Judaism', and that perhaps Paul was not a Jew to begin with, considering the inability to trace a 'tribal lineage'. He tells us that 'the rejection of Paul, or rather of Paul's conception of Jesus Christ, was the very turning point of Western history.' And, yes, he addresses Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of Christ.

I admit to some difficulty as a layperson reading the book. There are many quotations of the Old Testament/Torah, the Talmud, the New Testament, and exhaustive accounts of what Jews and others have thought and said about contending faiths over many centuries. I also found the author's writing strayed from its paths, often referring to other chapters and disrupting the reader's train of thought. I recommend Why the Jews Rejected Jesus to students and teachers of religion, and to general audiences no matter what belief or persuasion. Read with an open mind, and form your own opinion, respecting David Klinghoffer for having 'tackled a touchy subject'.

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