Book: The Crucified Rabbi, by Taylor Marshall

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Jesus Rabbi

It’s easy for Christians to forget that we were Jews before we were Christians.

For some Christians, I think that’s because their expression of Christianity has not only cut loose from their Jewish roots, but sadly their Christian roots as well. For others (like we Catholics), we simply fail to recognize the Jewish soil all around us from which our Christianity sprung.  So many Christians these days, quite happy to take the New Testament in their own context, take for granted the significance of our Jewish roots. But it is all intimately tied together. It is all a part of the same plan. The New covenant didn’t get rid of the Old, it fulfilled it. It didn’t void it, it built upon it.

That’s why I was excited to read a book by Taylor Marshall (an Episcopal Priest turned Catholic), The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity It’s actually the first book in a trilogy:

This first book (Crucified Rabbi) examines the Jewish origins of Catholicism and the third book (Eternal City) examines the Gentile origins of Catholicism, especially the role of the city of Rome in salvation history. The middle book on Saint Paul (Catholic Perspective on Paul) is the bridge between the two. Paul was a Jewish rabbi and he became the Apostle to the Gentiles. Moreover, I perceive the book of Acts as the linchpin: Acts begins in Jerusalem and ends in Rome. This is the early Christian ecclesiastical narrative and I hope to remind Christians that their origins are both Jewish and Roman—consequently Christianity is best expressed in Roman Catholicism with its Jewish inheritance of liturgy, sacrifice, art, priesthood, and ritual. That’s the trilogy thesis in a nutshell. [read more here]

I just finished reading The Crucified Rabbi. It’s great! It really demonstrates the continuity from the practices in the Old Testament to those of the New. All of these new age and protestant denominations are really missing out!

The book focuses a fair bit on the over 300 Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfills. Which by any bout of probabilities, statistics and reason is an overwhelming case for the credibility of the Christian story. But the book is about much more than that.

The fundamental principle of the book is that we can better understand our Christian liturgy by having better knowledge of the Jewish people’s faith (CCC 1096). The Crucified Rabbi does just that.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from it:

“Many Jews who visit a Catholic Mass often comment that it all seems so very Jewish. The reason for this is that the Catholic Church grew out of the Judaism of its original Rabbi and High Priest, Jesus the Messiah.” – Taylor Marshall, The Crucified Rabbi

The book goes on to further appreciate this familiarity in the story of Rabbi Israel Zolli. Rabbi Israel Zolli was the Chief Rabbi of Rome beginning in 1939. And through a sequence of amazing events, 6 years later he joined the Catholic Church…finding the ultimate fulfillment of his Jewish faith. He had this to say:

“I can accept only that Church which was preached to all creatures by my own forefathers, the Twelve Apostles, who, like me, issued from the Synagogue.” – Rabbi Israel Zolli

The majority of the book is an adventure in learning how the Catholic faith concerning hierarchy, baptism, the Mass, priests, bishops, vestments, monastics, Marriage, holy days, Saints, the afterlife and much more is significantly wrapped up in the ancient Jewish faith. And Taylor Marshall does a great job of explaining it all to the average lay person (like me).

It’s funny how much of the Catholic Tradition can seem so foreign to so many non-Catholic Christians. And they have trouble understanding why Catholics do certain things in light of their own personal interpretation of scripture and contemporary culture. Yet when you put those same misunderstood teachings in the context of their Jewish roots, they not only make sense – they make the best sense.

You can buy the book here. And here’s a video promo of the book for your viewing pleasure:

7 comments Add comment

Ian July 28, 2010 at 10:47 am

I really want to read this book! I am not Catholic but have a great appreciation for the work the Catholic church has done in the area of LIFE!

Back to the subject of this post: Something we Christians miss out on because we do not have a proper understanding of the Jewish faith is the eternal reality of Christ as an earthy King. We rely heavily on our knowledge of Christ as our heavenly King but totally miss the former point!

Anyway, great blog. Lot’s of good materials.

Susan Fox July 28, 2010 at 6:59 pm

I ordered the book. Thanks for the info. We are finishing the Bishops’ Catechism for Americans in our book discussion group and if this book is as interesting as it sounds, I will recommend it to follow. The idea that he has written books to continue the discussion of early Christianity is intriguing. I liked the words, “Follow Moses to Rome.” Blessed be God forever.

Bill B (AKA Theocoid) July 30, 2010 at 11:53 am

The book does sound intriguing, but I think he’s overstating the Roman influence. Early Christianity was influenced laregly by Jewish and Hellenistic culture. The Latin aspect really doesn’t get heavy until the 5th century. There’s plenty of Catholic culture in the east. I think Maronite and Chaldean Catholics would find his claim about the Roman Catholicism rather surprising. It certainly plays down the importance of the eastern Fathers in the devleopment of dogma.

Matthew Warner July 30, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Bill – did you read the book? In which ways is he overstating the Roman influence? Roman influence on what?

Bill B (AKA Theocoid) August 2, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Hi, Matthew.

No, I haven’t, but here’s the claim in his own words: “This is the early Christian ecclesiastical narrative and I hope to remind Christians that their origins are both Jewish and Roman—consequently Christianity is best expressed in Roman Catholicism with its Jewish inheritance of liturgy, sacrifice, art, priesthood, and ritual.”

On his blog, he actually emphasize “Roman,” so I don’t think I’m misunderstanding his claim. I will have to read the book, but the claim itself, unless he considers “Roman Catholicism” to include all rites in communion with Rome, seems to downplay the enormous influence that Hellenism and eastern Christianity had on the Church. I guess you’d be in a better position to say whether the book actually makes that argument.

Matthew Warner August 2, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Bill, I won’t pretend to speak for Taylor Marshall, but I would say that by “Rome” he means the entirety of historical Christianity including, of course, all of those rites in communion with Rome.

Lucy August 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm

This was a fantastic book! I never realized how much of Catholic Tradition is carried on from the Jewish tradition.I bought two books, one to keep, the other to share. :)

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