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Surprised by Christ: My Journey From Judaism to Orthodox Christianity Paperback – May 15, 2008
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In sharing his "surprise" with us, Fr. James Bernstein shows that he is a Hebrew prophet in the definition of prophecy provided by that other "Hebrew born of Hebrews" who knew the same "surprise." In sharing his story and convictions, Fr James "speaks to people for their edification and encouragement and comfort" (1 Cor 14.3). The grace and spirit of His words match the grace and truth of their content. We thank God for this prophetic gift. --Fr. Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
In life you meet a handful of people whose stories crash through the usual categories of human experience and form a new kind of stand-alone narrative. Enter: Fr. James Bernstein. Son of a Jewish rabbi, national chess champion, leader with Jews for Jesus in Berkeley, Orthodox Christian priest -- whew! You will love and be greatly encouraged by his unusual story of life in Christ. --Fr. Peter E. Gillquist, author of "Becoming Orthodox"
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If you are interested in hearing an interview with the author about the book, the link follows:
While most of that group was led by former staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ, Fr. James, then known as Arnold, joined forces with them after being raised as a devout Jew in Queens, and becoming a Christian while secretly reading a Jehovah's Witness translation of the New Testament under his bedcovers at night. He became active in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in New York before being selected by Moishe Rosen to help start Jews for Jesus in San Francisco.
While in the Bay area, Arnold (now Fr. James) became involved with the Christian World Liberation Front in Berkeley, which was led by Jack Sparks, a former Crusade staffer, and he became part of their quest for the New Testament Church while participating in evangelistic street theater.
I like to say that "Surprised by Christ" was written in three speeds, or rhythms. The autobiographical portions of this book, his childhood in Queens, his days in college, his year in Israel during the time of the "Six Day War," and in street ministry, are all a fascinating quick read, and are memorable reflections of those turbulent times.
Then Fr.Read more ›
Another plus, is that Fr. Bernstein is not overly critical and hostile of Protestants and Catholics. In fact he admits that some non-Orthodox friends of his are spiritually and morally ahead of him. He does however compare doctrines and makes a Biblical and historical case for the Orthodox viewpoint. In this sense, I think this is a good first book for non-Orthodox Christians to read.
Overall, a good read. Also, the writing style is very simple, clear, and succint. The reading is easy and therefore fast.
As I grew to understand the Orthodox Faith in its fullness, I came to learn of many Evangelicals who came to the Orthodox Church. This group had made many tracts available and the one that caught my eye was titled, "Jewish and Orthodox too" by A James Bernstein.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent interesting biographical read that at the same time shows the theological differences between Judaism and Western & Eastern Christianity. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Chief Tatelli
A unique story from a unique perspective. Very illuminating on the relationship of the Jewish foundation of Christian Faith vs Orthodoxy.Published 1 month ago by Poindexter
Thank you Father James for the magnificent and uplifting story of your journey to authentic Christianity.
Initially...fairly impressed...a lot of interesting information about prophecies concerning the Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures but...and this is a BIG BUT... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Robin Osborn
An absolutely wonderful and extremely enjoyable book that I literally could not put down. I LOVE theology, and I equally love people and hearing/reading about their lives and... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kimberly Lloyd
Bought as a gift. Receiver loved it and sings it's praise. Intellectual and thought provokingPublished 8 months ago by aimee l.
Every person who considers themselves Christian ought to read this book. It will change your thinking about your faith, as you retrace the spiritual travel of Fr. James.Published 9 months ago by L. Hatzilabrou
An excellent presentation of the Orthodox understanding of the gospel message. As a non-denominational Christian and former Catholic I had great difficulty understanding the... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jerry Prugar