Review of ‘Testimonies’ edited by Ruth Rosen

Review of ‘Testimonies’ edited by Ruth Rosen

This insightful book chronicles the journeys of how fifteen Jewish people from a range of backgrounds came to faith, believing that Yeshua (Jesus), is their Messiah. It navigates their expectations, presuppositions, struggles, challenges and joys. This carefully compiled collection commences with a variety of reasons for why some Jewish individuals do not believe in Jesus and what it was that changed their lives.

Themes

From comparing the accounts several themes became increasingly apparent. Firstly some experienced first- hand or had friends and family who had suffered awful atrocities in the horrors of the holocaust. Some had relatives who had fled from Russia to escape the pogroms.

Secondly to add insult to injury, many had been labelled ‘Christ killers’, ‘dirty Jew’ and even from a very tender age had been accused of ‘killing our Jesus’. Others had been beaten up by strangers repeating those obnoxious accusations.

Thirdly, though the New Testament has been read by countless millions, many Jewish people are understandably reluctant to read it, considering their personal experiences of being at the receiving end of those are antisemitic, or what they have heard others say about the Brit Hadasha. Though when they read it, they were surprised concerning the unmistakeable Jewish background and that it was written by Jewish authors concerning the Jewish Messiah. Also many people were fearful prior to reading it, since if it were true, it inevitably meant in some cases either estrangement, or tension between family and friends.

Fourthly, many of these accounts included meeting someone that was ‘different’. This meant either a non-Jewish person that believed in Jesus that was a friend, or someone they greatly respected. One comment included a person ‘that had a morality as if God was watching’. In addition, those individuals actually loved God and Jewish people and had a strong biblical framework and lived a life that was consistent with what they believed. Others met Jewish believers who positively celebrated their Jewish identity, had clear evidence for what they believed, and who greatly desired to share with them, what they had found to be true.

Fifthly, invitations to a church, messianic fellowship, concert, or Passover celebration was instrumental. Many were surprised to discover that in evangelical churches there are no idols in the buildings and that many people have a respectful attitude towards Jewish people and recognise Genesis 12:3 and Romans 1:16 as true and applicable today. Furthermore they would be welcomed genuinely, since community and real friendships are important.

Sixthly, Bible studies were key. This afforded time to meet with others and look at the scriptures in context and ask questions and to see what the text is actually saying and to apply that. Many of those Bible studies involved the messianic prophecies, especially Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9. These two references are essential. Isaiah 53 is a detailed and specific prophecy concerning how Messiah would make atonement for sins. Many Jewish people have never read this passage and since it is controversial, it is not included in the synagogue readings. Daniel 9 is a vital prophecy well worth considering in context, because Daniel 9:24-27 explains that Messiah had to come and be killed before the temple was destroyed.

Seventhly, the resurrection of Jesus is absolutely essential. If this is not true and the resurrection of Jesus did not happen, then biblical Christianity would be meaningless and have nothing to offer (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).  If it is true, then it changes everything. If He rose then we will also have a resurrection and the question is, where are we going? A careful examination of the gospel accounts presents an incredibly compelling case. When this is compared with what is written in the prophets it becomes clear that Yeshua came to fulfil the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17-18).

Continuations of the case

Lastly, the book closes in a similar way to how I have summarised the main points. In a section entitled ‘continuations of the case’ it is acknowledged that in the varying accounts there are distinct themes and experts go on to examine three vital issues. These are ‘The Jewishness of the New Testament’, ‘The Messianic Timetable according to Daniel the Prophet’ and ‘Christian Anti-Semitism’. The conclusion ends with a touching and thought- provoking story about a younger and elder brother, but to discover how it ends, you will need to read it. You will not be disappointed, and it may well change your life!