Apostates, Hybrids, or True Jews?: Jewish Christians and Jewish Identity in Eastern Europe, 1860-1914

By Raymond Lillevik

A study of the ambiguities of communal identity among 19th-century Eastern European Jews, through the lives of three believers in the messiahship of Jesus.

ISBN: 9780227174937


This book explores the relationship between Christian faith and Jewish identity from the perspective of three Jewish believers in Jesus living in eastern and central Europe before World War I: Rudolf Hermann (Chaim) Gurland, Christian Theophilus Lucky (Chaim Jedidjah Pollak), and Isaac (Ignatz) Lichtenstein. They were all rabbis or had rabbinic education, and were, in different ways, combining their faith in Jesus as Messiah with their Jewish identity. The book offers a biographical study of the three men and an analysis of their understanding of identity. This analysis considers five categories of identification: the relation of Gurland, Lucky, and Lichtenstein to Jewish tradition, to the Jewish people, to Christian tradition, to the Christian community, and to the network of Jewish believers in Jesus. Lillevik argues that Gurland, Lucky, and Lichtenstein transcended essentialist as well as constructionist ideas of Jewish and Christian identity in very different ways.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 402

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Raymond Lillevik (PhD) is lecturer in Kristen VideregÄende skole in Nordland, Nesna, in Norway.


List of Illustrations
Foreword by Oskar Skarsaune

1. Introduction
     Jewish Believers in Jesus: The Road Less Taken
     Previous Research
     Method: A Narrative and Analytical Approach
     Constructing Identities
     The Problematic Term “Jewish Christian”
     Jewish Identification: Sergio DellaPergola

2. Eastern European Jews between 1860 and 1914 and the
Christian Missions
     The Term “Eastern Europe”
     The Jews
     Christian Mission Work to the Jews

3. The Biographies of Gurland, Lucky, and Lichtenstein
     Rudolf Hermann (Chaim) Gurland (1831-1905)
     Christian Theophilus Lucky/Chaim Jedidjah Pollak (1854-1916)
     Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein (1825-1908)

4. Analyzing the Relationship between Jewish Identity and Faith in Jesus
     The Relation to Judaism and the Jewish Tradition
     The Relation to the Jewish People
     The Relationship to the Christian Tradition and Doctrines
     The Relation to the Christian Community
     The Relationship to Jewish-Christian Groups and Individuals

5. Conclusion
     Three Jewish-Christian Identities
     Further Perspectives

Appendix: The False Doctrines of Talmud
     Text: “False doctrines of the Talmud”

Index of Subjects and Names


Endorsements and Reviews

This fascinating, groundbreaking, and much-needed study of these three pioneers highlights their contribution to nineteenth-century Hebrew Christianity and to Messianic Judaism today. Lillevik tells their stories, traces their theological development, and explores the challenges they posed and faced. Through the lens of history and comparative analysis, his careful scholarship calls for renewed attention to the role of Jewish believers in Jesus as the bridge between church and synagogue. Read, reflect, and enjoy!
Richard Harvey, Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies, All Nations Christian College, Hertfordshire

Lillevik’s book is a timely and pioneering study of three Jewish-Christian leaders of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. How did they negotiate the difficult challenge of combining two apparently incompatible identities, Jewish and Christian? Lillevik addresses this question with great empathy and methodical finesse. No one has presented and studied these three leaders in such breadth and depth before. His book will remain a landmark study of Jewish-Christian identities in the modern period.
Oskar Skarsaune, Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo, Norway