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Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History Hardcover – March 15, 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (March 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385510217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385510219
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,395,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
David Klinghoffer wrote his recent book "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus" (2005) in response to Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ". The major purpose of the book is stated in the title: to explain why the Jews, or most of them, continued with their Jewish religion and practices and refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Klinghoffer is a practicing Jew who was raised in a non-observant home and came to take Judaism seriously during his college years. He is also a political conservative which, for me, is refreshing. He has written, on the whole, a solid interesting study showing extensive reading and thought. There is much to be learned from this book. Unfortunately, portions of the book are unduly polemical. Klinghoffer goes out of the way, frequently, to be provocative. In addition, the tenor and theme of the book tend to shift as the study goes along. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the reader needs to be aware of it and to see it happening. Klinghoffer greatly overstates the originality of his work, but this is common enough among writers.

There is something to surprise every reader in this book. Klinghoffer begins by noting that Jewish traditional texts include materials about Jesus that is frequently suppressed. Some of these materials suggest that some leaders of the Jewish community did indeed play a role in the death of Jesus. I had not realized this before, and Klinghoffer is to be comended for his candor in making this information available to a wider readership.

The question remains of the reasons which compelled the Jews to stay with their own faith. Here Klinghoffer gives a variety of answers which could have been organized more coherently.
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Format: Hardcover
David Klinghoffer's Why the Jews Rejected Jesus is a pretty interesting book. This is a somewhat long review, which I'll break up into little pieces.

+ The Jewish Soul and Jesus -- Klinghoffer makes a good point that it's rather hard to say that "the Jews" rejected Jesus because only a very small portion of them got a chance to hear His teachings in the first place, and even the group that heard Him wasn't always presented with some sort of decision to accept or reject Him. So while it's clear that a small group of Jews did reject His claims, it's not as if we can attribute this to the entire Jewish nation at the time.

However ... having said that, Klinghoffer later argues that there is something in the Jewish soul that urges them to reject Jesus (he entertains "the possibility that the Jews reject Jesus in every age from some other cause or purpose of which they may not consciously be aware") ... and that something is the Sinai covenant that makes them Jews in the first place. That is, to become a Christian is to reject the obligation to Torah, which is at the heart of the Jewish soul (according to Klinghoffer). The Jewish soul, Klinghoffer seems to say, was formed at Mt. Sinai along with the kosher laws and all the special requirements Jews have to live by, and asking them to give that up is asking them to deny who they are.

This is a rather dubious proposition in light of biblical history, in which the Jews repeatedly reject the law. It seems far more probable that this equation -- Jew = observer of the Sinai covenant -- was formed in the Babylonian captivity and the return to the land under Ezra. But that gets way beyond the scope of this book.
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Format: Hardcover
David Klinghoffer is a political conservative who has much in common with Evangalist Christians on a political and social level. In this book, he explains why Jews cannot share their belief in Jesus, however. Belief in Jesus encompasses two concepts, that Jesus is the Messiah and that he is a deity. In looking at purported messianic prohesies of Jesus in the Jewish Bible (in books such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekial, and other prophets), there are two different viewpoints. Christians, who have already accepted Jesus as the Messiah see passages, such as Isaiah 53 as pointing to Jesus. Messianic prophesies are cryptic and somewhat obscure but, if you have accepted Jesus, these verses seem to make sense. On the other hand, if you have not accepted Jesus as the Messiah, these verses do not lead to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah and any such Messianic proof seems like circular reasoning. In other words, since X happened to Jesus, prophesy Y must apply to him. But, if you were to say, prove that X happened to Jesus, the proofs don't add up. Stated differently, Klinghoffer says that there is a certain "heads I win, tails you lose" quality to many Christian proofs. For example in Jeremiah, there is the specific reference to a "new covenant." The argument is that this new covenant is the abrogation of Torah which is replaced by Jesus. But, when the next sentence makes it clear that this new covenant means that Torah will be etched in our hearts and not replaced, the words are considered symbolic. So if there is a specific reference to a new covenant, it is "heads I win." But, if there is a specific reference to something that would disprove the alleged prophesy, another, symbolic interpreation is given to that verse and it becomes "tails you lose.Read more ›
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