Martha Himmelfarb. Jewish Messiahs in a Christian Empire: A History of the Book of Zerubbabel. Harvard University Press, 2017.I noted the publication of the book last month here.
In her new book Jewish Messiahs in a Christian Empire: A History of the Book of Zerubbabel, Professor Martha Himmelfarb (Department of Religion, Princeton University) reshapes scholarly understandings of late antique Jewish “Messianism” prior to the rise of Islam. Through her careful analysis of the early seventh-century “text” Sefer Zerubbabel and other contemporaneous sources, Himmelfarb draws out evidence for a body of popular traditions about messianic figures circulating among “ordinary Jews” in the late antique Byzantine milieu. Surprisingly, these traditions suggest that Jews were both deeply attracted to and repulsed by Christian descriptions of a suffering and dying Messiah, his mother Mary, and the figure of an “Anti-Christ.” This slim book rewards close reading, and while what follows attempts to capture the contents of her book, to use Himmelfarb’s own words, “it certainly does not adequately convey its texture.” (p. 17)
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Review of Himmelfarb, Jewish Messiahs in a Christian Empire
ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Jewish Messiahs in a Christian Empire: A History of the Book of Zerubbabel (Jae H. Han).