The Saints as Real People

You have probably all seen certain pictures of the saints—usually Western pictures—in which all the saints look more or less the same: the same doe-eyes, the same piously folded hands, the same soft, feminine features found on both women and men. These images offer a particular view of sanctity, proclaiming sanctity as soft, meek, harmless, quiet—and utterly ineffectual. Looking at these pictures you would never guess that those saints were real people,…

Jewish Evangelism: the Lessons of History

Finally in our dialogue with our Jewish neighbours we look to the patterns and lessons from Jewish history as interpreted by the Hebrew Scriptures. Thinking about the catastrophe that befell Israel in 70 A.D. when the Temple was destroyed and the people of Judea scattered through all the world, I would like to make two points. The first point involves the promises of God made to Israel through the prophets. The promise…

Jewish Evangelism: the Life of Jesus as the Fulfillment of Prophecy

We continue with our apologetic project of commending the Christian Faith to our Jewish neighbours, and today look at the life of Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophetic elements in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (compare Luke 24:44-47). Right at the outset a problem confronts us in dealing with the notion of an ancient literature containing prophetic intimations of the future life of Jesus—namely, the modern prejudice against the…

“Also Sprach Barbour-Evans”

In the late 1880s, Friedrich Nietzsche published a work entitled, Also Sprach Zarathustra—in English “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”. Zarathustra (more commonly known as “Zoroaster”) was the founder of Zoroastrianism, a dualistic Persian religion which posited that the world was the site of the battleground between good and evil. In the words of the oracular Wikipedia, “Nietzsche is clearly portraying a ‘new’ or ‘different’ Zarathustra, one who turns traditional morality on its head…[As Nietzsche…

Jewish Evangelism: The Religion of Israel as Preparatory, Not Final

In my last blog post I looked at the patristic project of commending the Christian Faith to one’s Jewish neighbour, and concluded that the project, though fraught with potential for misunderstanding, was still worthwhile. Here I would like to suggest that the religion of Israel was clearly preparatory, and was never meant to be God’s final word to Israel or to mankind. In discussing Israel’s religion it is important to differentiate the…

Jewish Evangelism: “To the Jew First”

I have just finished reading a wonderful book by the late scholar Louis Feldman (d. 2017) entitled Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian. In it, he mentions the patristic attempts to convince the Jews of the truth of Christianity by citing examples of Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Jesus, and he remarks that Jews in those days could hardly have found such Christian arguments…