Messiah Texts: Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years
by Raphael Patai
Paperback Reprint edition (January 1989)
Wayne State Univ Pr
Table of Contents
From the back cover: "Following a detailed introduction to the
world of messianic ideology and its significance in Jewish history, The
Messiah Texts traces the progress of the messianic legend from its biblical
beginnings to contemporary expressions.
"Renowned scholar Raphael Patai has skillfully selected passages from a
voluminous literature spanning three millennia. Using his own translations
from Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Latin, and other original texts, Patai excerpts
delightful folk tales, apocalyptic fantasies, and parables of prophetic
power. All are central to the understanding of a magnificent heritage.
Patai also investigates the false messiahs who have appeared
throughout Jewish history, the modern Messiah-influenced movements such as
reform Judaism and Zionism, and the numerous reasons put forth by the various
branches of Judaism as to why the Messiah has not yet appeared.
"Raphael Patai is an internationally regarded anthropologist,
Orientalist, and biblical scholar. He has written over six hundred
articles and two dozen books..."
Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, Amazon Review:
"This book is the most comprehensive compilation of Jewish texts about
the Messiah that I know of in English. When it first came out, it filled a great
need for an intelligently-written book where both Jews and non-Jews could read
the traditional sources on what Jews believe about the Messiah. As it turns out,
those sources are much richer and far more complex that you might imagine.
"Patai does not seek to present any particular doctrine as 'the truth,'
nor does he seek to convert anybody to anything. He simply presents all the
materials he could find, with some academic overviews of the basic themes. His
approach is that of an academic folklorist, not a theologian — in fact, the
book is subtitled 'Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years.'
"The chapters cover such things as pre-existent names of the Messiah,
prophecies, apocalyptic writings, birth of the Messiah, stages of the Great
Redemption, Last Judgement, Resurrection, dreams and visions of the future
world, etc. There are sources from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, medieval texts,
Hasidic teachings, and modern accounts. Plus there are literary references to
the Messiah from such writers as Elie Wiesel, Scholom Asch, Martin Buber, Jacob
Wasserman, etc. All in all, 337 pages of prime material.
"Most interesting were the various people who have claimed (or were once
thought to be) the Jewish Messiah, ranging from Bar Kochba to Shabbetai Zevi to
— get this — Theodore Herzl! Yes indeed, the founder of the Zionist movement
once dreamed that he was the Chosen One (see pp. 272-73) and apparently saw
himself as a savior of the Jewish people — albeit a secular one."
(Please read more of what Rabbi Yonassan Gershom
has to say about The Messiah Texts as well as his other interesting
reviews at Amazon.com.)