Monday, January 21, 2008

The Chalice of Israel

The Chalice of Israel: Four Novellas Bound by Love, Enchantment, and Tradition, published in 2001 by Barbour Publishing, contains two stories (the third and fourth novellas) which are conversion narratives. In "Cup of Honor," Holocaust survivors Leah and Reuven Shapira emigrate to Israel in 1948. While this love story clearly becomes proselytizing toward the end of the novella, there are few hints of this in the main body of the story. The epilogue to this novella states that Joshua Ben Ami (Leah's husband) "came to believe the Messiah had come. Jesus had poured out His blood for them as the cup's inscription said. Joshua gave his heart to Christ, and Leah soon followed him. They believed the Son of God would come again and bring peace to the land of Israel." (p. 250).

The fourth novella in this book, "Cup of Praise," follows several Jewish characters in Jerusalem, including Sarah Reuben and Michael Van Gelder. Michael tells Sarah how he came to believe in Jesus: "It's all there. And history supports the fact that Yeshua fulfilled all the prophecies. All of them! There's no way to doubt that He was and is God's Son, our Messiah." (p. 271).

Wandering Jude would like to make a friendly neighborhood public service reminder: "It's not all there. History does not support this assertion that Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies. Not all of them. Not even close. And yes, there are plenty of ways to doubt his being the son of God."

Sarah's response to Michael: ""You're not a Jew anymore." His betrayal of his family and his people rocked her to the core. "I could never have imagined you'd do such a thing! I could forgive you most anything, but this is far beyond a crime. You've denied everything we are!" Michael responds: "Please don't think that way. Let me tell you why I am now a completed Jew." (p. 272).

Michael states that "Yeshua was a Jewish rabbi." (p. 290).

WJ: Um, maybe a proto-rabbi. More probably an itinerant preacher.

Sarah states, "Michael, everyone knows that our Messiah will come and be King." "That's right. He'll be coming again as King. Burt first He had to be our pesach, our Passover Lamb." (p. 296).

During a Passover seder, "Sarah found it very significant that the middle matzah was the one broken, hidden away, and finally redeemed and distributed. Michael said it was at this point in Yeshua's last Passover with His disciples that He had said, "This is my body which is given for you." She looked closely at it before she ate with the rest of the family. It was pierced, as Yeshua was. She was sure the stripes and lack of leaven all had meaning too... As a sacrifice lamb, Yeshua had poured out His blood for her." (p. 331).

Sarah says to Michael, "I believe Yeshua is Messiah and want to know what I have to do next. ... Looking into her beautiful blue eyes, he said, "Let's kneel." They did, and he led her in prayer, confessing her doubts and sins and asking Yeshua to come into her heart." (p. 333).

Final Thoughts

Wandering Jude doesn't have much to say about The Chalice of Israel, except that the characters are one dimensional, the theological arguments are simplistic, and the dialogue is trite. Plus, Jews don't kneel when they pray. When Sarah and Michael kneel to say the "sinner's prayer," they reveal the author's ignorance of Judaism and their own rejection of Jewish tradition.

Oh, one more thing. The reference to the stripes on the matzah as being a symbolic allusion to Jesus ("by his stripes we are healed") is a canard repeated by many missionaries but rejected by all biblical scholars, even evangelical scholars.

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