Monday, November 07, 2005

Review of Israel Knohl's The Messiah Before Jesus

Israel Knohl's The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls is an important book in Bible scholarship. It is short, and a rather easy read, but extremely interesting. In the book he advances the following thesis: Jesus was a messiah who was following the pattern of an earlier messiah.

It was earlier believed that although there were many messiahs of Jesus' period, but many things about Jesus like the suffering servant" and the "son of man" attitude were later inventions of the church, and not authentically from Jesus. Knohl believes that they were actually Jesus' attitude. He claims that there was an earlier messiah, just before Jesus lived who followed the same pattern. This was a messiah who is reflected in the Dead Sea scrolls. He then conjectures that this messiah was in fact a certain Menachem who was mentioned in the Talmud as the other leader with Hillel in the time of the "pairs" of leaders in Tannaitic times. His evidence for this is impressive and well thought out.

It was an intersting read.

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