From Publishers Weekly
The provocative title of this unfocused book implies that it contains an answer to the question of why the Jews rejected Jesus. Indeed, Klinghoffer, whose memoir The Lord Will Gather Me In
was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, buries several answers in this study's dense verbiage, but the reader has to struggle to locate them. After numerous citations, many from obscure sources, demonstrating erudite research, Klinghoffer reveals that the Jewish rejection of Jesus was "the founding act of Western civilization." It facilitated the development of Christianity and Islam as mass religions. Thus, according to Klinghoffer, the rejection of Christ was a "civilization-creating act." He arrives at this determination by examining "God's perspective," "God's intention," "God's purposes" and "God's plan." This remarkable display of chutzpah leads Klinghoffer to assert that the Jews are the "priesthood" and the Christians and Muslims are the "laity." Before making his pronouncement, Klinghoffer reviews Jewish history from the year A.D. 27 to modern times. At times, he criticizes Jewish liberals and secularists, and raises hard questions about the directions modern Judaism has taken. Some readers may find that the effort required to read this book is rewarded by its piquant conclusion: that the trajectory of Western history would have been entirely altered if the Jews had accepted Jesus. (Mar. 15)
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Klinghoffer (a conservative writer and practicing Jew) frames his thesis by explaining what the Jews of Jesus' time would have expected from the Messiah whom they were awaiting. He bluntly notes that Jesus did not fulfill these expectations (the defeat of Israel's enemies and the establishment of universal peace), and he carefully debunks the biblical texts, such as Isaiah, that Christians claim prove otherwise. Using Talmudic sources that are little known or barely acknowledged, he paints a more complete picture of what the Jewish community has thought about Jesus through the ages. Writing clearly and cogently, Klinghoffer offers detailed analyses of the prisms through which Jews and Christians view each other. Moreover, the book concludes that Jewish rejection was the best thing that could have happened to nascent Christianity. Even incorporating the teachings of Jesus, Judaism with its many commandments (including circumcision) never would have been accepted by the European masses, and the course of Western civilization would have been forever different. Provocative reading for those on both sides of the Jewish-Christian divide. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved