Book Review: The Concealed Light

The Concealed Light by Tsvi SadanThe Concealed Light:
Names of Messiah In Jewish Sources
by Tzvi Sadan
Vine of David, 2012

Ordering Info

They say that quite often big things come in small packages. This is definitely the case with Tsvi Sadan’s, The Concealed Light. It is the most recent publication put forth by Vine of David, a ministry arm of First Fruits of Zion that specializes in early Messianic Judaism and the development of Messianic liturgical resources. Committed to excellence in both academic integrity and aesthetic presentation, Vine of David pushes the envelope in their latest offering. First, let me introduce you to Dr. Sadan.

“Dr. Tsvi Sadan is uniquely qualified as the author of this book. Born in Israel, where he currently resides, he holds a Ph.D. in Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has researched Jewish and Christian views of the Messiah for more than twenty years. Tsvi has taken on the task of becoming familiar with traditional Jewish materials. In this book he draws on this knowledge to give a picture of the Messiah found in Jewish literature but known to few Jews and fewer Christians.” 1 He also had an article published in the latest issue of Messiah Journal, entitled Halachic Authority in the Life of the Messianic Community.

Now, let us move into the actual book.

Acher (Different), Even (Stone), Adoni (My Lord), Or (Light), Ar’yeh (Lion)… The list goes on from Alef (א) to Tav (ת). These are the names of the Messiah of Israel according to what the sages have derived from the Holy Writ. In this beautifully crafted book, you will find one hundred and one names in all, each presented in Hebrew with their English translations, explained in laymen’s terms by native Israeli and Hebrew scholar Tsvi Sadan. In The Concealed Light, Sadan goes deep into familiar rabbinic sources, such as the Talmud, Midrash Rabbah, Sifrei, Pesikta Rabbati, Zohar, etc. to pull obscure references to Messianic titles expounded upon by the sages, and clearly explain the significance of each one. But then he takes it one step further by delving into little known sources such as Sefer Yeshu’ot Meshicho and the Perushei Siddur HaTefillah laRokeach—many of which are only available in Hebrew—to bring out even more insights into the Messianic identity as affirmed by Judaism.

Here is a sampling of the amazing research he has pulled together for this:

Orphan

“‘We have become orphans without a father (Lamentations 5:3 NAS). … God said to Israel: ‘You have said to me, “We have become orphans without a father”; therefore the redeemer I will bring from among you has no father, for it is said … “Today I have begotten You””’ (Psalm 2:7). [He] “concluded from this that their Messiah … has no human father” (Sefer Yeshu’ot Meshicho). (page 116)

Olive

“‘Oil … for the light’ (Exodus 27:20)—this is King Messiah, who is also called ‘Green Olive Tree’ (Jeremiah 11:16). [He is called] ‘pure oil’ (Exodus 27:20) because he will light up the darkness for Israel, as it says: ‘That You may say to the prisoners, Go forth’ (Isaiah 49:9), and it also says, ‘The Gentiles shall come to your light’ (Isaiah 60:3)” (Otzar Midrashim, 138). (page 75)

Gold

“On ‘one day which is known to the LORD’ (Zechariah 14:7)—that day is a day of vengeance, when the Holy One, blessed be he, intends to wreak vengeance upon other nations. When he does, then ‘I will make a man more precious than gold’—this is King Messiah, who will transcend and be more precious than all the inhabitants of the world, all of whom will worship and bow down before him, as is written: ‘Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him … The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents’ (Psalm 72:9-10)” (Zohar, Vayera, 107b). (page 186-187)

Glorious

In an outstanding Jewish commentary from the ninth century CE on Psalm 36:9, “In Your light we see light,” the author offers an imaginary conversation between God, Satan, and Messiah which reflects his own understanding of who is Messiah and what is his role. In this conversation, Satan attempts to deter God from honoring Messiah. Challenged, God asks Messiah what he intends to do in light of the suffering inflicted upon him because of those whom he came to save, and the Messiah answers:

“Master of worlds, with the joy of my soul and the pleasure of my heart, I accept upon myself that none from Israel will perish and that not only the living will be saved in my day but also those hidden in the soil…and not only those will be saved, but all hosts whom you have thought to create but have not. This is what I desire, this is what I accept upon me” (Pesikta Rabbati, 36). (page 120-121)

This is just a small sampling of what this little package has to offer. In a sense, it is somewhat akin to Raphael Patai’s The Messiah Texts, in that it culls from a large volume of sources to offer us the very best gems. Couple this along with Sadan’s fluid elucidation, and you have a very palatable work. For Christians, this is a wonderful introduction to the Jewish concepts of Messiah and will help bridge the gap between the very limited understanding of the role of Messiah within Christianity and the dynamic range of insights found within Judaism.

In addition to the quality of the text itself, Vine of David has done a brilliant job of packaging this gem to make it outwardly appealing as well. With its darkly contrasted tone-on-tone cover, deckled page edges and beautiful typesetting, The Concealed Light is not only a unique reference source, but could also double as a daily devotional or inspirational coffee table book. With its list of resources, which will inspire further research from the more scholarly, and its quick reference list of the various messianic titles in English, The Concealed Light will definitely be an attention grabber wherever it goes. I highly recommend it as an addition to your reference library, book club discussion or coffee table adornments. This book is available to purchase online from the Vine of David bookstore.

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book from Vine of David.

  1. Taken from the book jacket.

Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels Released

Delitzsch release

As many of you know, Vine of David (a division of FFOZ) has been working diligently on an English translation of Franz Delitzsch’s Hebrew translation of the Gospels for the past few years. It is officially called the Delitzsch Hebrew-English (DHE) translation. As of yesterday, it has been released and is available for pre-ordering.

Another Translation?

Why is such a work important? Because it attempts to place Jesus and his apostles back into their proper place among Jewish history and spirituality. It is an attempt to reconnect Jesus and his message with his people. It is an attempt to bring the reader into the Jewish world of Jesus. While David Stern’s The Complete Jewish Bible attempts the same, it only works to bring the non-Jewish reader into the Jewish text. The DHE takes it another step by trying to connect Jewish people with their Messiah. This has been done through presenting the full text of the Gospels in a parallel Hebrew translation, along with traditional blessings for the studying of the Holy Text, all in an elegant presentation as you would expect from publishers such as Artscroll. This text hopes to help Jewish readers see Jesus and his Jewish message as part of Judaism, rather than an outside voice from a separate religion.

Delitzsch & His Translation

Franz Delitzsch (1813–March 4, 1890) was a German Lutheran theologian born in Leipzig, Germany who grew into a unique man of God. Widely known and respected as a “Christian Hebraist,” he was a pioneer in the area of Jewish studies in the New Testament and in the development of the Hebrew language. Delitzsch was a prolific writer, translator, and biblical commentator. His greatest and most enduring work is his New Testament translation into Hebrew. At his eulogy, Delitzsch was memorialized with the following words: “Indeed, not only in the Christian, but also in the Jewish world the name of Delitzsch has shone. For he was at home in the literature of the Rabbis as none other among the living, and perhaps as none before him. We may say the truest friend of Israel is dead. A great man has fallen in Israel.”

Delitzsch’s work is important, because of his “extensive knowledge of mishnaic Hebrew and first century Judaism… [which created] a translation and reconstruction of the Greek text back into an original Hebrew voice.” It is reported that the famed Dr. David Flusser, a devout Orthodox Jew and renowned New Testament scholar of Hebrew University, said that the Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament was the best translation of the New Testament extant in any language.

Needed Support

Much support is needed for this project. It is going to take people like yourself to purchase the DHE and share it with others. You can do that on a personal level, or at a larger level. Vine of David is also publishing a Levy Hirsch Memorial Edition, which will is available solely for the purpose of distributing to Jewish people who do not yet know their Messiah. Vine of David will be taking donations to dedicate a specific number of these editions toward distribution among Jewish people.

If you would like to a part of this momentous event, then support Vine of David and order your copy now.

Website Link

http://vineofdavid.org/resources/dhe/index.html

In Heaven As It Is On Earth?

Recently, fellow Messianic (& prolific) blogger Derek Leman posted an article highlighting what is typically known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” He details a few issues surrounding this prayer (the differences between Matthew’s record and Luke’s, the connection of disciples with the prayers of their rabbi, use of liturgy, etc.), and also introduces us to Vine of David’s upcoming DHE (Delitzsch Hebrew-English) Gospel translation, which I was fortunate enough to be on the review team (I intend on posting more about this resource soon).

At the beginning of his post, however, he links to Roman & Alaina, a messianic music group who have created melodies for the Avinu (the “Our Father”) in both Hebrew (based on the DHE) and English. As I listened to the sample of the English version I heard the following:

Our Father, Who is in Heaven
May we sanctify Your Name
Your Kingdome come
As Your will be done
In Heaven as it is on earth

Unfortunately, we see a problem immediately. The last line takes poetic license, and reverses the phrase from “On earth as it is in Heaven,” to become, “In Heaven as it is on earth.” I am definitely one for poetic license, but not when it reverses the sense of the text. So, now, rather than the will of the Almighty coming in perfection from His throne in Shammayim (“Heaven”) and bringing Ha’aretz (“the Earth”) into its submission, this top-down approach put forth by Yeshua has been turned on its head. In this version we see the will of Heaven submitting to that of Earth.

I see where they may have tried to work around this by changing a few of the conjunctions, but overall it has the same end result: the will of (perfect) Heaven being transformed into the image of what is done on (imperfect) Earth.

This goes against the entire mission and teaching of our Master. I would encourage Roman & Alaina to consider re-working the English version, even though they have probably sold many copies of their CD already, in order to maintain the integrity of the teachings of our Master