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Lew Regenstein

The Jewish Georgian


We donít plug too many books about Jesus in this column, but a new and provocative book on the subject deserves our attention. It is The Lost Religion of Jesus (Lantern Books) by highly respected author Keith Akers, who argues with great persuasiveness that "Jesusí preaching was first and foremost about simple living and pacifism; he never intended to create a new religion separate from Judaism."

Akers points out that "Jesus lived and died a Jew; most of those who heard his message were Jewish; the initial leadership of the church was Jewish . . . When the larger gentile Christian church drove out Jewish Christianity . . . it also lost the core of Jesusí teachings." In other words, Jesusí early followers remained Jewish and rejected the teachings of the apostle Paul, which form the basis of Christianity.

We got a bum rap for killing Jesus Ė even the Christian Bible makes it clear the Romans did it. But because of 2,000 years of persecution, often in the name of Jesus, Jews donít pay much attention to this courageous and very popular leader, with a huge Jewish following, who should be considered not the Messiah but a perhaps great Jewish teacher. Maybe someday, with writings such as Keith Akersí, we can put Jesus in his proper historical perspective.

Indeed, we get the impression from this fascinating and well-documented book that, if Jesus were alive today, he might be trying, along with so many of us, to get extra high holiday tickets to The Temple.

Lew Regenstein

The Jewish Georgian, January-February 2001, p. 4, in "Whatís Happening."



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