The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts


Mark S. Smith - 2001
    In recent years, scholars have sought a better understanding of this early polytheistic milieu and its relation to Yahweh, the God of Israel. Drawing on ancient Ugaritic texts and looking closely at Ugaritic deities, Mark Smith examines the meaning of "divinity" in the ancient near East and considers how this concept applies to Yahweh.

Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity


Daniel Boyarin - 2004
    Following this model, there would have been one religion known as Judaism before the birth of Christ, which then took on a hybrid identity. Even before its subsequent division, certain beliefs and practices of this composite would have been identifiable as Christian or Jewish.In Border Lines, however, Daniel Boyarin makes a striking case for a very different way of thinking about the historical development that is the partition of Judaeo-Christianity.There were no characteristics or features that could be described as uniquely Jewish or Christian in late antiquity, Boyarin argues. Rather, Jesus-following Jews and Jews who did not follow Jesus lived on a cultural map in which beliefs, such as that in a second divine being, and practices, such as keeping kosher or maintaining the Sabbath, were widely and variably distributed. The ultimate distinctions between Judaism and Christianity were imposed from above by "border-makers," heresiologists anxious to construct a discrete identity for Christianity. By defining some beliefs and practices as Christian and others as Jewish or heretical, they moved ideas, behaviors, and people to one side or another of an artificial border--and, Boyarin significantly contends, invented the very notion of religion.

Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered


Robert H. Eisenman - 1992
    They have held a fascination over academics, religious leaders, and the lay public alike for the last forty-five years. From 1952, when a team of scholars was appointed and Cave 4 at Qumran was discovered - from which the materials in this book are drawn - they have been under the control of an elite and secretive clique. However, in the autumn of 1991, this monopoly was effectively broken when the Huntington Library in California announced it would allow public access to its collection of Dead Sea Scrolls photographs. This was soon followed by the publication of a Facsimile Edition by the Biblical Archaeology Society in Washington D.C. Robert Eisenman was integrally involved in both events, and with Michael Wise had been working behind the scenes on the unpublished photographs for some time. Their discovery of a tiny Scroll fragment of six lines referring to the execution of or by a Messianic Leader plunged them into a long-running debate. Scholars previously controlling access to the Scrolls had been publically contending that there was nothing interesting in the remaining unpublished Scrolls and nothing throwing further light on Christianity's rise in Palestine. The conclusions of Professor Eisenman and Professor Wise gainsay and challenge these views. The present work is the result. For the first time the public will be able to see the most interesting and exciting texts from the unpublished corpus and judge for itself. Providing precise English translations and complete transcriptions into modern Hebrew characters, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered makes generally available in a clear and accessible style fifty of the best texts. Accompanied by incisive and readable commentaries aimed at both lay person and scholar alike, these texts provide exciting and ground-breaking insights into Messianism, an alternative p

Jesus the Jew: A Historian's Reading of the Gospels


Géza Vermes - 1972
    In contrast to depictions of Jesus as a wandering Cynic teacher, Geza Vermes offers a portrait based on evidence of charismatic activity in first-century Galilee. Vermes shows how the major New Testament titles of Jesus-prophet, Lord, Messiah, son of man, Son of God-can be understood in this historical context. The result is a description of Jesus that retains its power and its credibility.

A Passion for Truth


Abraham Joshua Heschel - 1973
    In this work Heschel explores despair and hope in Hasidism as he experienced it himself through study of the Baal Shem Tov and the Kotzker.

The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times


James L. Kugel - 2017
    Yet over the course of the thousand-year Biblical Era, encounters with God changed dramatically. As James L. Kugel argues, this transition allows us to glimpse a massive shift in human experience—the emergence of the modern, Western sense of self. In this landmark work, Kugel fuses revelatory close readings of ancient texts with modern scholarship from a range of fields, including neuroscience, anthropology, psychology, and archaeology, to explain the origins of belief, worship, and the sense of self, and the changing nature of God through history. In the tradition of books like The Swerve and The Better Angels of Our Nature,The Great Shift tells the story of a revolution in human consciousness and the enchantment of everyday life. This book will make believers and seekers think differently not just about the Bible, but about the entire history of the human imagination.

Moses the Egyptian


Jan Assmann - 1997
    As such, he is the quintessential subject for the innovative historiography Jan Assmann both defines and practices in this work, the study of historical memory--a study, in this case, of the ways in which factual and fictional events and characters are stored in religious beliefs and transformed in their philosophical justification, literary reinterpretation, philological restitution (or falsification), and psychoanalytic demystification.To account for the complexities of the foundational event through which monotheism was established, Moses the Egyptian goes back to the short-lived monotheistic revolution of the Egyptian king Akhenaten (1360-1340 B.C.E.). Assmann traces the monotheism of Moses to this source, then shows how his followers denied the Egyptians any part in the origin of their beliefs and condemned them as polytheistic idolaters. Thus began the cycle in which every counter-religion, by establishing itself as truth, denounced all others as false. Assmann reconstructs this cycle as a pattern of historical abuse, and tracks its permutations from ancient sources, including the Bible, through Renaissance debates over the basis of religion to Sigmund Freud's Moses and Monotheism. One of the great Egyptologists of our time, and an exceptional scholar of history and literature, Assmann is uniquely equipped for this undertaking--an exemplary case study of the vicissitudes of historical memory that is also a compelling lesson in the fluidity of cultural identity and beliefs.

Islam And The Jews: The unfinished battle


Mark A. Gabriel - 2003
    Gabriels transformation from devout Muslim is a powerful reminder of how love can indeed conquer hate. His bold change of heart prompts him to bless the Jewish people rather than curse and hate them.” -Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein “Islam and the Jews reveals the secret agenda that is not being told by the media. I wish U.S. government officials would read this book.” -Sid Roth, President, Messianic Vision

Archaeology of the Land of the Bible


Amihai Mazar - 1990
    Step-by-step, era-by-era, Mazar shows what each major archaeological discovery has to say about the mysterious stories of the Bible--from the beginnings of recorded of human habitation to the tumultuous period of the divided monarchy of Israel and Judah.

What is a Jew


Morris N. Kertzer - 1973
    This book tackles a wide range of subjects in a question-and-answer format. Ideal for conversion students, interfaith couples, and congregants seeking answers to essential day-to-day issues.

The Messianic Idea in Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality


Gershom Scholem - 1971
    This relationship is important not only for an appreciation of the mystic and Messianic movements but for Jewish history in general.Scholem clarifies the Messianic concept and analyzes its transformation in the Kabbalah up to the paradoxical versions it assumed in the Sabbatian and Frankist movement, in which sin became a vehicle of redemption.

Who Killed Jesus?: Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus


John Dominic Crossan - 1995
    In his massive and highly publicized The Death of the Messiah, Raymond Brown -- while clearly rejecting anti-Semitism -- never questions the essential historicity of the passion stories. Yet it is these stories, in which the Jews decide Jesus' execution, that have fueled centuries of Christian anti-Semitism. Now, in his most controversial book, John Dominic Crossan shows that this traditional understanding of the Gospels as historical fact is not only wrong but dangerous. Drawing on the best of biblical, anthropological, sociological and historical research, he demonstrates definitively that it was the Roman government that tried and executed Jesus as a social agitator. Crossan also candidly addresses such key theological questions as "Did Jesus die for our sins?" and "Is our faith in vain if there was no bodily resurrection?"Ultimately, however, Crossan's radical reexamination shows that the belief that the Jews killed Jesus is an early Christian myth (directed against rival Jewish groups) that must be eradicated from authentic Christian faith.

Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle


Pamela Eisenbaum - 2009
    She explores the idea of Paul not as the founder of a new Christian religion, but as a devout Jew who believed Jesus was the Christ who would unite Jews and Gentiles and fulfill God’s universal plan for humanity. Eisenbaum’s work in Paul Was Not a Christian  will have a profound impact on the way many Christians approach evangelism and how to better follow Jesus’s—and Paul’s—teachings on how to live faithfully today.

The Secret: Unlocking the Source of Joy and Fulfillment


Michael Berg - 2002
    Not long thereafter, he received a priceless spiritual teaching that revealed the source of lasting joy and fulfillment from a spiritual master whose name he would never disclose, not even after he himself became the most renowned Kabbalist of the 20th century. The young scholar's name was Rav Yehuda Ashlag, and though his letters and writings offer tantalizing hints of the wisdom that was given to him, the pieces of the puzzle have never been fully assembled until now. Here Michael Berg, himself the descendant of great Kabbalists, shares the result of years spent studying Rav Ashlag's life and work. In this book, Berg shows how the secret offers life-changing power. Drawing on stories and insights from Ashlag and other noted mystics, Berg explains how to discover one’s true purpose in the world and thereby find lasting peace and joy.

One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History


Peter Manseau - 2015
    But the Puritans and the shining city on the hill give us just one way to understand the United States. Rather than recite American history from a Christian vantage point, Peter Manseau proves that what really happened is worth a close, fresh look.Thomas Jefferson himself collected books on all religions and required that the brand new Library of Congress take his books, since Americans needed to consider the "twenty gods or no god" he famously noted were revered by his neighbors. Looking at the Americans who believed in these gods, Manseau fills in America's story of itself, from the persecuted "witches" at Salem and who they really were, to the persecuted Buddhists in WWII California, from spirituality and cults in the '60s to the recent presidential election where both candidates were for the first time non-traditional Christians.One Nation, Under Gods shows how much more there is to the history we tell ourselves, right back to the country's earliest days. Dazzling in its scope and sweep, it is an American history unlike any you've read.