From Tel Aviv To Nazareth: Why Jews Become Messianic Jews -- By: Scot McKnight

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 48:4 (Dec 2005)
Article: From Tel Aviv To Nazareth: Why Jews Become Messianic Jews
Author: Scot McKnight


From Tel Aviv To Nazareth:
Why Jews Become Messianic Jews

Scot McKnight

R. Boaz Johnson

Scot McKnight is professor of New Testament at North Park University, 3225 W. Foster Ave., Chicago, IL 60625. He wrote the bulk of this article and then gave it to his colleague, R. Boaz Johnson, whose experience and understanding of Jewish evangelism proved to be so valuable that it was not possible to sign off without his own inclusion as an author. At the level of substance, the piece is the product of dual authorship. Whenever the first person is used, it refers to the first of the authors.

I. Introduction

Plotting conversion stories is my sacred hobby.

Lauren Winner's best-selling memoir of her conversion from Reform Judaism to Orthodox Judaism and then on to evangelical Christianity is one of the best reads of the last decade, and her story illustrates one type of conversion by Jews to the Christian faith. Her aesthetically-prompted and liturgically-shaped conversion story is as difficult to plot as it is joyous to read—she tells us about things that do not matter to conversion theory while she does not tell us about things that do matter. In her defense, she did not write her story so the theoretically-inclined could analyze her conversion. Here is a denning moment in her conversion story:1

My favorite spot at The Cloisters was a room downstairs called the Treasury. In glass cases were small fragile reliquaries and icons and prayer books. In one case was a tiny psalter and Book of Hours. ... It lay open to a picture of Christ's arrest. I could barely read the Latin. Sometimes I would stand in front of that psalter for an hour. I wanted to hold it in my hand.

My boyfriend in college was Dov, an Orthodox Jew from Westchester County whom I had met through Rabbi M. Dov thought all this [her studying American Christianity and interest in things Christian] was weird. He watched me watch the Book of Hours, and he watched me write endless papers about religious revivals in the South. He saw that I was reading a book about Southern fiction called, after Flannery O'Connor's memorable phrase, The Christ-Haunted Landscape, and he worried. He said, "Lauren, if a Jewish person converted to Catholicism, wouldn't you think it was strange if she then majored in Jewish Studies at college, spent afternoons at the Jewish museum, and read My Name is Asher Lev once a week?". . .

"Well, look," I said, "a girl can have an intellectual interest or two, can't she?" ...

At the time, I thought Dov was overreacting. No...

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