Al Ha VeDa על הא ודא

Whatever I feel like

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Synchronicity strikes again

<glazou>   smontagu: btw, you think you'll update your blog before the Armageddon ?
<smontagu> glazou: funny you should ask that
<smontagu> I was just asking myself the same question

What makes it especially funny is that I was considering blogging about the Armageddon! Specifically about the Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, which I have been working my way through recently.

These are the first examples I have come across of what you might call Christian Science Fiction. They take place in the not too distant future, at a time when true believers have been taken to heaven in the Rapture, the world is ruled by the Antichrist (a Romanian politician who has made his way up the ladder to become Secretary-General of the United Nations and then Potentate of the Global Community), and, in Israel, a distinguished scholar called Tsion Ben-Judah presents the result of his research on the identity of the Messiah.

Rather disappointingly, Ben-Judah's conclusions (in the second book of the series, Tribulation Force) are no more than a recycling of the same arguments that Christian missionaries have been using for centuries to prove that all the Messianic prophecies in the Bible refer to Jesus. Just to take one example (and I am quoting from memory since I have already returned that volume to the library), he says that Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah will be “born to a virgin”. Well, no. The reference is to Isaiah 7, 14, as quoted in Matthew 1, 23, but how could Ben-Judah, who is described as an expert linguist, be unaware that the original Hebrew talks about עלמה, a young woman, and not a virgin?

The way I see it, the definitive Jewish teaching on the Messiah comes from Yeshayahu Leibowitz (my translation below):

הגאולה מופיעה כמציאות שהיא תמיד מעבר למה שיש, שלעולם אין מגיעים אליה, אך לעולם יש להתאמץ להגיע אליה … המשיח הוא לעולם בגדר מי שבכל יום אחכה לו שיבוא, ואילו המשיח הבא בפועל — תמיד הוא משיח-שקר.
Redemption is always one step ahead of reality. We can never reach it, but we can always aim towards it. The Messiah that we believe in is the one who we wait for every day and hope that he will come. A Messiah who has already come can only ever be a false Messiah
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