A scholarly attempt to reconcile the long-standing theological divisions between Jews and gentiles.
The definition of Israel has always been somewhat contentious; in ancient times, it was more symbolic than tangibly linked to a geographical location. After the rise of Christianity, Jews insisted on the priority of their time-honored rites, and Christians argued that following Christ has nothing to do with Judaic observance. Debut author Mikolajczyk charts a middle ground between these topics that aims to reconcile Jews and gentiles by demonstrating that Jesus is actually the embodiment of the idea of Israel. To that end, he carefully examines the discussions of Israel in both the Old Testament and the New Testament and pieces together what he believes is a coherent, exegetically sound synthesis. Part of the problem he confronts is that historical events, such as the creation of the modern state of Israel, have confused these messages of revelation. In particular, Mikolajczyk discusses “supersessionism,” the view that the Christians simply supersede the Jewish people as God’s special elect, and “premillennial dispensationalism,” which attempts to accommodate Israel’s creation in 1948 by recognizing it as the fulfillment of prophecy, which more thoroughly acknowledges the significance of Jewish heritage to Christians. Although the author is a self-professed Christian, he aims for a theological union of sorts rather than a triumph of Christian theology: “What I mean for readers to gain from this book is that Jesus Christ arrived in the world to reconcile the divisions of God’s people, not to create new ones.” The author’s analysis is consistently fair, painstaking, and lucid, and the treatment of Christ is memorably provocative: “If there is no judgment against those who believe in Jesus (Rom. 8:1), there are likewise no separations based on gender, race, religious background, or socioeconomic status, because he has united the church in his name (Gal. 3:28).” Overall, this book has the virtue of great brevity. That said, the concision is also a touch frustrating, as many readers will be left pining for an elaboration of how the biblical notion of Israel has been transformed by worldly events. Nevertheless, this is an edifying introduction to a historically and philosophically important subject.
An excellent treatment of the concept of Israel.