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The Messiah Before Jesus


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About the Author

Israel Knohl teaches at the Bible department of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He taught as a visiting Professor at Berkeley, Stanford, and Chicago. He is the author of The Sanctuary of Silence (1955), which won the Z. Shkop Award for Biblical Studies.


After ten years, the recently released texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are still creating waves. In his second book, Knohl (chair, Bible Dept., Hebrew Univ.) challenges liberal and conservative New Testament scholarship. He asserts that "Jesus was the heir and successor of the Messiah of Qumran," whom he identifies as Menahem the Essene. Knohl arrives at his hypothesis through an examination of two purportedly messianic hymns from Qumran, the Oracle of Hystaspes, the Book of Revelation, Josephus, and Talmudic literatureÄcombined with imaginative historical reconstruction. Though the story makes fascinating reading, the evidence Knohl presents for the role of Menahem as both Qumran leader/Messiah and member of the court of Herod is not overwhelming. Likewise his claim that Menahem was slain as a messianic leader in the revolt against Herod in 4 B.C.E. Even less convincing is his assertion, based on its use of the "Paraclete" concept, that the Gospel of John preserves a tradition that Jesus saw himself as a "second Menahem." Though intended primarily for general readers, this book depends heavily upon material that is not readily available to them; thus, it is more appropriate for academic collections.ÄCraig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Readers who share Knohl's questioning attitude about 'the Jewish context of Jesus' messianic career' will find [this] brief, accessible book fascinating and informative." - Booklist "A small but mind-bending book...a stunning imaginative leap. The impulse to reject Knohl's thesis is very strong...yet Knohl's consummate scholarship and intimate familiarity with other scholarly work gradually prevails. Is this book important to anyone but scholars? Yes, courageous, responsible scholarly work such as Knohl's deserves attention-and admiration." - Christian Science Monitor "This is a very significant, original, and daring book. It illuminates an important era in the history of the Jewish people as well as the background of Christianity, making full use of the new Qumran material." - Professor Emanuel Tov, Editor-in-Chief, Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project "This is a work of very high quality....Knohl convincingly points out the historical event of a Messiah who predated the more famous one, Jesus Christ....This is one of the most fascinating findings regarding the history of Jewish Messianism and the understanding of the emergence of Christianity...I am confident that it will mark a new phase in research of ancient Judaism." - Moshe Idel, author of Messianic Mystics "Fascinating....Knohl's book is an original piece of research that defies some of the most solid beliefs of our time." - Avraham Burg, Chairman of the Keneset (Israeli Parliament).

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