Both Jewish And Christian
Hebrew Christianity: The Thirteenth Tribe, by B. Z. Sobel (Wiley, 1974, 413 pp., $12.50), and Hebrew Christianity: Its Theology, History and Philosophy, by Arnold Fruchtenbaum (Canon, 1974, 139 pp., $2.50 pb), are reviewed by Belden Menkus, Bergenfield, New Jersey.
Is the emergence of separate Hebrew-Christian congregations a legitimate development—a recapturing of a historically valid practice? Do these fellowships, with their distinctive terminology and liturgy, belong within the broad Christian spectrum? Or are they the result of some aberration?
From completely different perspectives, these two books attempt to answer these and related questions. Neither author presents his case very well.
In general, the authors do agree on the definition of Hebrew Christianity. It is a local church fellowship—possibly a formally organized congregation—composed of Christians of Jewish birth. In the minds of both authors this group appears to be distinct from the mission or evangelistic agency witnessing particularly to Jews. Yet both at times confuse the two types of organizations.
Sobel, a Haifa University sociology professor, was at one time a staff member of the Anti-Defamation League. He views Hebrew Christianity as some sort of cult or sect. Fruchtenbaum, staff editor of the American Board of Missions to the Jews, sees the Hebrew-Christian congregation as a recovery of the biblical norm.
The Sobel book appears to be an attempt to expand a 10- or 12-year-old research paper into a more substantial study. What results is something less than the structured objectivity one expects from a competent scholar. The book appears to have been a problem for both the author and the publisher. Troubled by reflections on the ...1
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