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Messianic Jews and their Holiday Practice

History, Analysis and Gentile Christian Interest


Evert W. Van de Poll

Celebrating Biblical and Jewish holidays is most characteristic of the Messianic Jewish movement, and it arouses much interest among Gentile Christians. This practice arose in the struggle of Hebrew Christians in the 19th century against «Christian assimilation». From the 1970s onwards, a new generation of Messianic Jews identified strongly with their people’s socio-cultural heritage, including the practice of Sabbath, Pesach and other Jewish holidays. A thorough analysis of calendars, reinterpretations, observances and motives shows that this is a novel, Christian-Judaic practice. Why and how do Gentile Christians adopt it? To return to «Jewish roots»? What does this term stand for? As the author takes up these questions, he shows that this is rather a contextualisation of the Gospel.
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12. General Conclusions

(1) These Holidays serve to express the identity of Jewish believers as belonging to the Chosen People


12. General Conclusions

As we bring our study to a close, we present a summary of our findings by means of twelve general conclusions.

Our historical survey (Chapters 1 and 2) has brought to light the social-cultural situation in which JBJ (Jesus-believing Jews) began to celebrate Biblical and Jewish holidays. Caught in the middle, between Church and Synagogue, they were up against the pressure of assimilation on the one hand, and rejection on the other. Accordingly they had to find ways of ‘surviving’ as a special category of believers within the Church at large. At the same time, there was the need to affirm ethnic identity, in words and deeds.

At first community development seemed to be the answer. Eventually the need was felt for a more ‘Jewish’ form of worship and celebration. This led to the practice of Jewish holidays, especially those that were already part of the Biblical festal calendar. For JBJ these sacred times have a direct link, not only with the Bible but also with the place of this particular people in the economy of salvation. Celebrating these holidays is a means by which Jewish believers express their identity as belonging to the Chosen People.

In our analysis (Chapter 3) we have brought to light the fact that JBJ have developed a novel holiday tradition. As they keep the sacred times of the Old Covenant, as well as a number of Jewish holidays of later origin, they reinterpret...

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