Interpreting Conversion: Nineteenth Century Messianic Jewish Leaders in the Struggle for Legitimacy

The influence of Christianity on the development of Jewish tradition and vice versa is a well debated subject among scholars. Among them are Jewish historians Daniel Boyarin and Israel Yuval who focus on Rabbinic Judaism’s self-construction in reaction and opposition to Christianity.1 However, despite the concession of some scholars of Jewish history to the presence of Jews who believed in Jesus, this small group, which gained momentum in the latter half of the nineteenth century, has been marginalized. Observant Jews who believed in Jesus were an important part of Christianity in antiquity, under the leadership of James, traditionally known as the head of the Church in Jerusalem.2 With the passing of time, the self-definition of Christianity and of Judaism, as developed by church leaders and rabbis, sought the abjection of the other, creating two exclusive identities.

However, the Jewish origins of Jesus and of the Christian Bible would become issues of concern at various points through the centuries. The effects of Enlightenment rationalism led to the questioning of the person of Jesus as presented by Christianity in the mid-nineteenth century through such works as those of David Strauss and Ernest Renan.3 Important Jewish scholars in the quest for the historical Jesus, such as Abraham Geiger, presented Jesus as a typical Jewish rabbi. This de-Christianization of Jesus led Christians to an unavoidable interaction with Judaism.4 The expansion of the historical knowledge about Jesus occurred simultaneously with the increase of Christian missions toward Jews. This effort was headed by Christians and converted Jews in Britain. A joint Episcopal representative of England and Prussia was set up in Jerusalem in 1841 with the convert and former Rabbi of Norwich, Michael Solomon Alexander, as the new see. The English Hebrew Christian Prayer Union was established in 1882 with branches in Romania, Russia, and Palestine.5

Jews in Central and Eastern Europe came into contact with these missionizing converts and a type of movement began due to personal conviction and due to their social, economic, and political context. A small but significant number of Jews who came to believe in Jesus (or Yeshua) as Messiah stressed the importance of Jewish tradition and Torah observance. These Messianic Jews believed in the basic tenets of Christianity but felt that these doctrines should be accepted without a rejection of Jewish identity. Talmudic scholar Max Reich, a Jewish believer in Jesus, expounded on Romans 11 saying, “Gentiles . . . must not crowd out the branches that have never been broken off. . . . God has always recognized an inner and outer Israel.”6 Leaders in the movement engaged in a difficult balance between the two exclusivist faiths, many by presenting their identity as an acceptance of Christ in continuation of Jewish tradition. In examining the teachings of two such leaders, Isaac Lichtenstein (1825-1908) and Joseph Rabinowitz (1837-1899), on the identity of Jesus and the authority of the Talmud a better image is formed of the spectrum and role of nineteenth century Messianic Jews.

Messianic Judaism emerged as a result of the discourse within Judaism on the historical Jesus and in reaction to growing Christian missions toward the Jews. Lichtenstein and Rabinowitz reveal different ways in which Jesus was reclaimed as Yeshua – the Jewish Savior – and how they presented the Jewish Jesus as the fulfillment of the faith for both Jews and Gentiles. It is their interaction and dialogue, and their insistence that they were not converts or apostates but Jews (and the different ways they defined themselves as such), which provides an added dimension to Christian and Jewish interactions.

The Characters

Isaac Lichtenstein was an Orthodox Jewish rabbi in Tápiószele, Hungary. The 1882 blood libel, the Tiszaeszlár Affair, drew him to read the New Testament which led to his belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. He began to use parts of the New Testament in his teachings in the synagogue until he voluntarily stepped down from his position in 1892. He retained the title of Rabbi and refused to be baptised despite pressure from the Budapest Rabbinate, international Christian churches, and fellow Messianic Jews including Rabinowitz.7

Joseph Rabinowitz was raised in a Hasidic household in Bessarabia (now Moldavia) but as a result of exposure to Haskalah literature and the spreading influence of Geiger’s works, he became a well respected maskil involved in seeking reforms for the Jewish community. Jechiel Zebi Herschensohn-Lichtenstein (who later became Rabinowitz’s brother-in-law) gave him his first Hebrew translation of the New Testament sometime after 1855.8 Amidst his attempts at reform, Rabinowitz sought a way to alleviate Jewish conditions through settlement in Palestine, which he visited in 1882. It was his disappointment with the situation there and what he described as a revelation on Mount Zion that led to his belief in Jesus as the one who held the keys to the Holy Land.9 He founded the congregation of Bnei Israel, Bnei Brit Chadasha (Israelites of the New Covenant) formally in 1884 in Kishinev. He was baptised in 1885 in Berlin through an interdenominational ceremony. However, he staunchly defended the Jewish character of the services of Bnei Brit Chadasha and of himself as a son of Israel despite objections of both Christians and Jews.10

Lichtenstein was a respected Orthodox Rabbi while Rabinowitz was a Hasidic Jew influenced by the Haskalah, who later became something between a rabbi and a pastor for his congregation in Kishinev. Both came from regions in the east of Europe but lived under different imperial contexts and were raised in different Jewish traditions. However, they both confessed an acceptance of what, until that time, had been considered the Jesus of Christianity, but on their own terms and in their own way, often in opposition to both Judaism and Christianity.

The Identity of Jesus

Christian Trinitarian doctrine and the insertion of Jesus of Nazareth into the divine is the major point of contention between Judaism and Christianity. An acceptance of this by Jews would mean going against the Shema and the unity or oneness of God.11 Lichtenstein and Rabinowitz, by claiming Jesus of Nazareth as Mashiach (Messiah), were forced to engage with the history of this discourse.

Both Jewish leaders presented Jesus as Yeshua in their writings and teachings to avoid the negative connotations the name Jesus or Yeshu brought to the minds of their Jewish listeners.12 Lichtenstein, due to his desire to remain an Orthodox Jew, relied heavily on the Tanakh and the Talmud to argue the identity of Jesus as being in unity with God and as “Divine Man” and “Incarnate Love.” Lichtenstein wrote a type of formula for going from an acknowledgment of Jesus to accepting him as one with God: “Whoever knows [Yeshua] must love Him, whoever loves Him must honour Him, whoever honours Him must adore Him, and whoever adores Him understands Him when He says, ‘I and My Father are one.’ ”13 The Jewish Jesus was a man, argued Lichtenstein, but he was also the Messiah chosen for the entire world and as the means for the final redemption of all Israel. He identified the Messiah to his Jewish congregation as the Shekinah – the incarnation of God and his residence on earth among his people. He quoted as support Rabbi Abba, son of Kahana, who said that the true Name of Messiah is “God.”14 Lichtenstein described his own relationship with Yeshua in reference to the Song of Solomon, applying the Jewish interpretation of the book as the intimate relationship between God and Israel to that of Israel and Jesus.15 Largely in conformity with Christian doctrine but couched in Jewish imagery, he presented Jesus as Jacob’s ladder which led to heaven and as the lamb sufficient for atonement (for Jews and Gentiles).16

To further clarify Yeshua’s identity, Lichtenstein refers to him as “our brother Joseph, whom his Father loves more than all His children; whom we for that reason would banish from the Father’s house, although God has sent Him.  . . . for our lives’ sake, [for our] great salvation.”17 “Jesus as the brother of the Jews” was used by Rabinowitz after his return from Palestine. When criticized for the phrase by Christian theologians he defended it by citing the apostle Peter and the martyr Stephen in Acts 3:22-23 and 7:37.18 This affinity with Jesus as brother, influenced by the growing de-Christianization of Jesus spurred by Geiger, also influenced later Jewish writings such as that of Martin Buber, who wrote of Jesus as his “great brother.”19 However, Rabinowitz’s famous quote that the keys to the land of Israel lay in the hands of Jesus the brother of the Jews, similar to Lichtenstein’s quote that “[t]he true balm of Gilead for Israel lies in the hand of Jesus,” reveals they attributed to Jesus restoration-power.20

Rabinowitz claimed boldly in a number of sermons that Jesus was God: “Messiah is everything.  . . . He is the Torah! He is God!21. . . [Yeshua] is our Adon ha-Gadol (our great Lord).”22 To claim an intimate link between Judaism and Jesus, Rabinowitz’s “Twelve Articles of Faith” (26 March 1884) followed the structure of Maimonides’s “Thirteen Articles of Faith.” He stressed the unity of God in the first point but in point nine presented the identity of Jesus as the Righteous Zemah (shoot) of the house of David, the Messiah sent by God.23 In Rabinowitz’s Seven Articles of Faith (1885), Jesus is presented as the Redeemer of Israel, born of a virgin, who will judge the world. In the Passover Haggadah composed by Rabinowitz, the fourth cup symbolized the salvation provided by Jesus and was meant to serve as a liturgy for communion among the Israelites of the New Covenant.25 Interestingly, though Rabinowitz agreed, like Lichtenstein, to the divinity of Jesus, he argued against the Christian formulation of the Trinity, preferring to focus on God, the one Father. He writes:

The believing Gentiles call the three persons in the Godhead: ‘Father, Son, and Holy Ghost;’ we name them: ‘One God, and His Word and His Holy Spirit,’ which is the same. Why should the Christian Church burden Israel with doctrines, which were taught by their fathers to keep them from false conceptions of the Godhead? We do not find anywhere in Holy Scripture that the belief in ‘Three persons’ is to form a necessary part of our confession.26

In line with Geiger and other Jews seeking reform, Rabinowitz identified Judaism as the genuine religion and as the faith of Jesus, protesting the infringement of Gentile understanding of Jewish concepts.27

Prior to the consolidation of his congregation, Rabinowitz presented Thirteen Theses in which Jesus is offered as the leader to bring renewal for Jews, as the head of Jacob’s lineage, and as the brother of the Jews who gave his life for the sake of the law and the prophets.28 Rather than stressing the victory of Jesus, they both identify him as the King of the Jews who has suffered alongside his people, whose crown was one of thorns, as Lichtenstein wrote, and who was the scorned, crucified, and then glorified King.29 In Messianic Jewish perception Jesus became for both Zionists and more traditional Jews the way to achieve the will of God and receive blessing, both as a nation and individually.

The Authority of the Talmud

The Christian hostility towards the Talmud and the derogatory statements seeming to refer to the Jesus worshiped by Christians also pitted one faith against the other on the question of authoritative texts.30 Rabbi Lichtenstein’s writings are largely composed of quotes from the Tanakh or Talmud followed by similar passages from the New Testament to show how Yeshua was the Messiah awaited by the Jews and that he was God as the Christians said, but not in the way they presented him. Rabinowitz also used Jewish texts to show Jesus as the divine Jewish Messiah. Due to his Hassidic background he made use of the Kabbalah in his interpretations of Hebrew words to conceptualize a Christology of Jesus. He argued that the Talmud, Midrash, and Zohar could also be used to find allusions to the life of the Messiah and understand how these were lived out in Jesus.31 He sought to bring together the identity of Jesus as presented in the New Testament with that of Jewish tradition. However, his liberal view towards Talmudic interpretation resulted in a more ambivalent approach towards the Talmud than is seen in Lichtenstein’s work.

Rabinowitz’s questioning of the significance of the Talmud came from his Haskalah days and was similar to the critical attitude of other Haskalah Jews. This distancing from the Talmud influenced and then was carried into his adoption of Messianic Judaism. In point seven of his Twenty-Four Articles of Faith Rabinowitz wrote against the use of the Mishnah and the Talmud for establishing doctrine. He presented the Shulkhan Arukh (code of Jewish law considered contemporarily applicable) as a “monument of the spirit of deep slumber which God permitted to fall on the Jews,” and as a stumbling-block.32 He viewed enlightened Jews as leading people away from the faith, despite agreeing with their intentions for reform, while the teachings of Jesus, which he claimed brought renewal and new meaning to Jewish religion, were scorned.33 Rabinowitz’s negative view of rabbinical tradition revealed how converts’ (as some would consider him) attacks on anti-rabbinism from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century had developed. The anti-Jewish “zeal” of Medieval and Enlightenment era converts was replaced in some instances with a strong hold or even love of their Jewishness.34

Rabbi Lichtenstein’s view of the Talmud was more accepting, but in contrast to Rabinowitz, found its application negatively influenced by the spirit of the age.35 His frustration with the Talmudists was that they allowed for liberal interpretations that took the meaning out of the texts. He felt that Jesus’s words as a Torah observing Jew would bring back authority to the Jewish scriptures which had been affected by the Halakhists. Lichtenstein incorporated the sayings of various rabbis from the Talmud along with verses from the Tanakh and the New Testament to show the importance of the law and at the same time point to its fulfillment in Jesus. He presented Jesus as the one who expounded the doctrine of the Talmud since his teachings were founded on those of Moses.

He sought to show the Gospel in accordance with the Torah, the prophets, and the Talmud, and that Christianity as “it ought to be according to the Divine mind of its founder,” was Judaism renewed or at its best. He provided a parallel of good examples of the Rabbis from the Talmud to that of the evangelists. Rather than the Talmud being an iron wall separating Israel from the Gospel, Lichtenstein claimed there were Talmudists who worshiped Jesus (though he fails to provide names). It was the stress on tradition and the corruption of certain rituals by the Christian church which influenced Lichtenstein to refuse a public act of baptism.


Isaac Lichtenstein and Joseph Rabinowitz are largely considered apostates of Judaism by those within. However, they insisted theirs was no conversion. They set out to prove through Jewish authoritative texts that the identity of Jesus was actually Yeshua the Jewish Messiah. Rabinowitz, unlike Lichtenstein, gave less importance to the Talmud but insisted on the need to continue Torah observance. His baptism, not affiliated with any Christian church but still in the presence of non-Jewish participants, grew out of his Haskalah desire to engage in non-Jewish culture. Rabinowitz straddled a more difficult line between Christian and Jewish ritual but ultimately kept Torah observance infused with symbolism from the New Testament. Nevertheless, he stressed the elect position of Jews in the midst of pressure from Christians to abandon what they perceived as national limitations on salvation. Providing a new interpretation of Maimonides, Lichtenstein emphasized the superiority of Judaism. Christianity, according to him, only aided in filling the earth with messengers of Israel’s Prince of Peace; Israel’s Psalms, prophets, and Torah were the ones revered. He stressed that the kingdom of God could not be complete without the Jews: “Salvation is of the Jews, for Jesus the Saviour was a Jew, and in the first place He was sent to us Jews.”42 By accepting conversion they would be denying the Abrahamic covenant. After all, did Paul not write that theirs was the tree into which the Gentiles were grafted – not the other way around?


Adler, James. Articles, Creeds, and Form of Worship of Joseph Rabinowitch and the Sons of the New Covenant. London: Shaw and Wheeler, 1885.

Boyarin, Daniel. Border Lines: Partition of Judaeo Christianity. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

Carlebach, Elisheva. Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Germany 1500-1700. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Clark, Christopher M. The Politics of Conversion: Missionary Protestantism and the Jews in Prussia, 1728-1941. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.

Darby, Michael R. The Emergence of the Hebrew Christian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Leiden: Brill, 2010.

Dunn, James D. G. The Parting of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and their Significance for the Character of Christianity. London: SCM Press, 2006.

Dynner, Glenn. Holy Dissent: Jewish and Christian Mystics in Eastern Europe. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2011.

Fauerholdt, J. “Joseph Rabinowitsch. A prophetic figure of the modern Judaism.” Leipzig, 1914.

Gartenhaus, J. Famous Hebrew Christians. MI: Grand Rapids, 1979.

Gerdmar, Anders. Roots of Theological Antisemitism: German Biblical Interpretation and the Jews, from Herder and Semler to Kittel and Bultmann. Leiden: Brill, 2010.

Heschel, Susannah. Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Kjaer-Hansen, Kai. Joseph Rabinowitz and the Messianic Movement: The Herzl of Jewish Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995.

Lancaster, D. Thomas. The Everlasting Jew. MO: Vine of David, 2013.

Lichtenstein, Isaac. An Appeal to the Jewish People. London: King & Jarrett, 1894.

___. A Jewish Mirror or the Scriptures Reflecting Christ. London: Mr. Fegan’s Homes, 1897.

___. Judaism and Christianity, trans. Margaret Alison, Edinburgh: Morrison and Gibb Printers, 1893.

___. The Points of Contact between Evangelical and Jewish Doctrine, trans. Mrs. Baron, London: Mr. Fegan’s Homes Inc., 1908.

___. Talmud auf der Anklagebank: durch einen begeissterten Derehrer des Judenthums, Budapest: Duchdruderei von Victor Hornysnszty, 1886.

Lillevik, Raymond. Apostates, Hybrids, or True Jews?: Jewish Christians and Jewish Identity in Eastern Europe, 1860-1914. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014.

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Schäfer, Peter. Jesus in the Talmud. NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

_____. The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012.

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Yuval, Israel. Two Nations in Your Womb: Perceptions of Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006.

Zipperstein, Steven Jeffrey, “Heresy, Apostasy, and the Transformation of Joseph Rabinovich,” in:  Jewish Apostasy in the Modern World. Edited by Todd M. Endelman. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1987, 206-231.


1   This is best observed in the debate between Daniel Boyarin and Peter Schäfer.  Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: Partition of Judaeo Christianity (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004); Peter Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud (NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007); Israel Yuval, Two Nations in Your Womb: Perceptions of Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006).

2   James D. G. Dunn, The Parting of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and their Significance for the Character of Christianity (London, England: SCM Press, 2006), 4-5. Dunn examines the diversity in first century Christianity.  Differentiation is made between James’s followers, Gentile and Jewish followers of Peter who each followed their own tradition and those who identified with Paul’s idea of the Church as the new Israel.

3   David Strauss, Das Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet (1835). Ernest Renan, Vie de Jésus (1863).

4   Susannah Heschel, Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 13. As part of the Christian discourse Martin Kähler published Der sogenannte historische Jesus und der geschichtliche, biblische Christus in 1896 and later Albert Schweitzer, The Quest for the Historical Jesus (London: A.&C. Black, 1910).

5   Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Messianic Judaism: A Critical Anthology (London: Continuum, 2000), 15-17. In 1865 London, Dr. C. Schwartz attempted to unite Jewish Christians in the Hebrew-Christian Alliance and launched the first Jewish Christian journal,
The Scattered Nation.

6   Max Reich, “Israel,” Hebrew Christian Alliance Quarterly (Vol. 6:2, 1922), 45 in Cohn-Sherbok, Messianic Judaism, 35.

7   One source claimed Lichtenstein secretly baptized himself.  Raymond Lillevik analyzes the varying testimonies in Apostates, Hybrids, or True Jews?: Jewish Christians and Jewish Identity in Eastern Europe, 1860-1914 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014), 167.  Also see  D. Thomas Lancaster, The Everlasting Jew (Marshfield, MO: Vine of David, 2013), 12-13, 26.

8   Herschensohn-Lichtenstein is a fascinating figure in Messianic Judaism.  He is considered the most prolific Messianic Jewish writer in Hebrew of the late nineteenth century, teaching at the Institutum Judaicum of Leipzig. Jorge Quiñónez, “An Introductory Bio-bibliography to Jechiel Zebi Herschensohn-Lichtenstein (1831-1912),” Kesher 15 (2002), 79.

9   Joseph Rabinowitz, “The Autobiography of Joseph Rabinowitz” (Kishinev, 27 Nov 1886) (accessed 21 November 2014).

10   Kai Kjaer-Hansen, Joseph Rabinowitz and the Messianic Movement: The Herzl of Jewish Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 70-71, 83.

11   Peter Schäfer describes this argument in rich detail in The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other (NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012), 8-10, 55-67.  However, Boyarin makes a strong point in favor of a first century Jewish binitarian doctrine of God in Borderlines, ibid., 131-147.

12   Kjaer-Hansen, Joseph Rabinowitz and the Messianic Movement, 117.

13   Isaac Lichtenstein, Judaism and Christianity, Margaret Alison, trans. (Edinburgh, Scotland: Morrison and Gibb Printers, 1893), 28-29, 104.  He quotes Jesus’s words from John 10:30.

14   Isaac Lichtenstein, The Points of Contact between Evangelical and Jewish Doctrine, Mrs. Baron, trans. (London, England: Mr. Fegan’s Homes Inc., 1908), 5, 7-8.  Lichtenstein argues that God never spoke to Jesus as he did to Moses and prophets because God was in Jesus and spoke through him.

15   Lichtenstein, A Jewish Mirror or the Scriptures Reflecting Christ (London: Mr. Fegan’s Homes, 1897), 12.

16   Ibid., 8.

17   Lichtenstein, Judaism and Christianity, 19, 23-25.  He also identifies Jesus as the Isaiah 53 suffering servant but acknowledges the logic of Hillel in ascribing the Messiah of Israel to the time of King Hezekiah or of Rabbi Akiba identifying Bar Kochba as Messiah.

18   Rabinowitz’s references to Jesus as brother can be found in his Thirteen Theses (points 12 and 13), Hebrew poem of 1884, Kol Kore (1884), and Joseph’s Misfortune in Kjaer-Hansen, 118-120.

19   Heschel, Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus, 13.

20   Lichtenstein, An Appeal to the Jewish People (London, England: King & Jarrett, 1894), 20.

21   Kjaer-Hansen, 121.

22   Kjaer-Hansen, 122.

23   Jewish Herald 1884, 118 in Kjær-Hansen, 93-94.

24   Articles, Creeds, and Form of Worship of Joseph Rabinowitch and the Sons of the New Covenant, James Adler, trans. & ed. (London, England: Shaw and Wheeler, 1885), 28-29.

25   I. Fauerholdt, Joseph Rabinowitsch. A prophetic figure of the modern Judaism in Small writings on the Jewish mission, Volume 8 (Leipzig 1914), 15.  First cup of Abraham – chief of patriarchs, second cup of Moses – chief of prophets, third cup of David – chief of kings. This was never used since authorities refused him permission to administer sacraments. Orthodox Church-influenced-politicians felt his ideas (closer to Protestantism than to Orthodoxy) would encourage other groups such as the Baptists in their sectarianism. Kjaer-Hansen, 116.

26   Kjaer-Hansen, 107-108, 119, 148.  Rabinowitz presented Jesus of Nazareth as Son of Man sacrificed for humanity’s rebellion and as Son of God who rose for humanity’s justification.

27   Heschel, 147, 153, 161. Unlike Geiger, Rabinowitz believed that though Christianity was corrupt Jesus was still the Messiah.

28   Ibid., 47-49.

29   Lichtenstein, Jewish Mirror, 6; Kjaer-Hansen, 191.

30   Peter Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).

31   Joseph Rabinowitz, “An Exposition,” The Jewish Herald (1884), 130; quoted in Kjaer-Hansen, 109.

32   Cohn-Sherbok, Messianic Judaism, 21. Franz Delitzsch wrote that it was logical for Rabinowitz to view the Talmud as the source of the Jews’ misfortune because of the confusion it provoked in regards to divine revelation and how it perpetuated Jewish national exclusiveness; in “Joseph Rabbinowitsch,” The Peculiar People (Vol. 2:10, 1890), 245. However, Rabinowitz’s view of Jewish exclusiveness was stronger than Delitzsch would admit.

33   Pawel Maciejko, “The Peril of Heresy, the Birth of a New Faith: the Quest for a Common Jewish-Christian Front against Frankism,” in Holy Dissent: Jewish and Christian Mystics in Eastern Europe, Glenn Dynner, ed. (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2011), 226.  This renewal of Judaism from within through acceptance of a messiah who fulfilled traditional promises of redemption was present among the followers of Sabbatai Tzevi (1626-1676).

34   For more on earlier Jewish converts and their interactions with Jewish and with Christian society: See Elisheva Carlebach, Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Germany 1500-1700 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001); Naomi Seidman, Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 141-142.

35   Lichtenstein, Talmud auf der Anklagebank: durch einen begeissterten Derehrer des Judenthums (Budapest: Duchdruderei von Victor Hornysnszty, 1886).

36   Lichtenstein, Judaism and Christianity, 44-48. Lichtenstein chastised Jewish readers for not seeing Jesus’s link to the Talmud and for hindering the final redemption through their unbelief: “Why do you not hasten this salvation; why do you not communicate the essence of this doctrine of the Talmud in the name of Him who has expounded it, who brought it to acceptance through suffering, who with His life and blood has bought and sealed it?  Why do you shun calling the great Teacher, the true Shepherd, by His right name?”

37   Ibid., 54.

38   Ibid., 83-84.

39   Lichtenstein, Points of Contact, 9.  He mentioned the use of the Talmud by Christians in the Middle Ages who tried to prove that the Messiah had come as a way of showing the value of the Talmud for Jewish believers in Jesus.

40   Lichtenstein did not want to be baptized as though he were a proselyte. He claimed he always followed the God of Israel and would continue to do so.  The history of the baptism debate between Jews and Christians is presented in Gerard Rouwhorst, “A Remarkable Case of Religious Interaction: Water Baptisms in Judaism and Christianity,” in Interaction between Judaism and Christianity in History, Religion, Art and Literature, eds., Marcel Poorthuis, Joshua Schwartz & Joseph Turner, eds. (Leiden, England: Brill, 2009), 103-125.

41   Messianic Jews were pressured to adopt Christian rituals, spurred in part by the works of W. de Wette and Friedrich Schleiermacher and by certain interpretations of Paul’s epistles. The beliefs of Lichtenstein and Rabinowitz developed as part of the opposition during this period of intensification of anti-Judaism.  Anders Gerdmar, Roots of Theological Antisemitism: German Biblical Interpretation and the Jews, from Herder and Semler to Kittel and Bultmann (Leiden, England: Brill, 2010), 61, 64-71, 85.

42   Lichtenstein, Jewish Mirror, 14, 17, 20.