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Spiritual Ecstasy: Israeli Spirituality in the Days of Jesus the Messiah, by Kevin Williams

The spirituality of First Century Jewish people continues to have an impact on the faith and theology of Christians and Jews today.

On the other hand, there are Messianic Jewish congregations and synagogues; that is to say, congregations of Jews and Gentiles proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah of Israel and the whole world. Unheard of before the 1970s, today there are Messianic Jewish assemblies all over the globe, and many of them express their faith very charismatically. It is common to find these children of Abraham lifting holy hands, praying in tongues, making prophetic utterances, and to witness God manifesting miracles. Not all messianic groups are charismatic, but many as the twice-chosen of God, experience the reality of the Ruach HaKodesh—the Holy Spirit.

To summarize, we do the Pharisees of Jesus’ day—and the Hebrew people as a whole—a great disservice if we believe them to have been unspiritual and devoid of mysticism. They were in fact, as immersed in spirituality as many true Christians today. For many, their mystical beliefs held that the Messiah would heal the lame, give sight to the blind, restore hearing to the deaf, cure lepers, and raise the dead to life. This was commonly held mystical thought. That Jesus could do these things was as much an affirmation of their religion, as their religion was an affirmation of Jesus’ own Messiahship. To reiterate C. S. Lewis, “The true religion gives value to its own mysticism; mysticism does not validate the religion in which it happens to occur.”



1 “The Logos of Philo that both can be conceived as a genuine reflection of the Deity, what would be called in the Christian-apocalyptic sense a ‘Son of God’” (A History of Jewish Mysticism, Ernst Müller, ©1946, Barnes & Nobel Books, New York, NY, p. 53-54).
2 Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend, Alan Untermann, ©1991, Barnes & Nobel Books, New York, NY, p. 168
3 Editor’s note: See “Mayim Chayim: The Living Waters” by Kevin Williams, appearing in the Fall 1999 (2:4) issue of the Pneuma Review.


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Category: Church History, Fall 2005, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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