I am a sucker for a well-researched book. Do your homework and communicate your findings in clear, engaging prose, and you will have my attention. Agree or disagree with your conclusions, it does not matter, you will have a seat at the table. Messianic Jewish Rabbi, Itzhak Shapira has done exactly that: he has produced a well-research, engaging book dealing with the divine claims of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
Christ is the most polarizing figure in all of history. So polarizing, in fact, the calendar too is divided by his advent. He was born to be both Israel’s Messiah and the world’s light. He was adored by the sinner but despised by the religious elite. And yet, he was more. Infinitely more. He was, and is, the very Son of God.
Rabbi Shapira, knowing the magnitude of this claim, the divine nature of Christ, tackles the topic with vigor and candor. He has researched thousands of years of literature, specifically Jewish literature, with the goal of proving beyond all doubt that not only are the claims of divinity not only reasonable, but they aren’t distinctly Christian. If the research of Shapira is to be believed, Jewish writers and historians have long held that their Messiah would be divine, and that fact changes the entire tenor of the conversation. It is important to note that Shapira is not necessarily writing a treatise on the divine claims of Christ, but more specifically to inform the audience that those claims have long been held by influential Jewish Rabbis and teachers and thus the creeds of Christianity are not as unorthodox as one would assume.
The book is divided into 5 sections: Framework, Identification, Evidence, Exploration, and Reconciliation. The book is systematic and thorough, sometimes to the point of being overwhelming. Many of the readers will no doubt have very little exposure to the Hebrew language and many of the terms Shapira uses. He does include a dictionary for reference, but I am not sure it will be all that helpful. Which makes me wonder-who is this book intended for? If for Jewish readers, I imagine that helps will prove superfluous. If intended for a goy like me, then by volume there is simply too much for the reader to retain. You almost need to have a degree in Judaic Studies to be appreciate the magnificence of the arguments. And if I may, I found his Messianic Jew/Christian distinction to not only be unhelpful, but even detrimental to the overall vision. Perhaps Shapira desires to remain separate from “Christiandom” and the atrocities committed by the nations in the name of Christ, but this is not the book for this conversation. Believers in Christ, Jew and Goyim alike, can rejoice in the content of this book, celebrating the true, divine claims of our Lord. This is not the forum to discuss the sins of Christiandom.
I recommend this book for the reasons I mentioned. Shapira has done the Body of Christ a tremendous service. Pastors, teachers and students of the Word should read this book. It is unique and powerful. It is a game-changer for the conversation.