The personality of Jesus of Nazareth stands as an enigma in Jewish history. Hailed by millions as a Savior and giver of life, his name has been used to condemn the Jews and as an excuse to take Jewish lives.
As a result, except for a few references in the Talmud and in Jewish legends, Jesus was largely ignored by the Jews.
Then came the Enlightenment and the awakening of Jewish nationalism. A flood of books about Jesus issued from Jewish writers somehow trying to make Jesus fit into Jewish history and some attempted to reclaim him for Judaism. In the last two decades, however, this flood has dwindled into a trickle.
But at the turn of the 1970's, the Jewish community was again wrestling with the question of Jesus as Jewish people, young and old, began to accept him and claim him as their Messiah. Rabbis became alarmed and wrote articles of lament against these young people lost to “Judaism and the Jewish people.” The Beth Din of Boston decreed that these Jewish believers in Jesus were no longer to be considered Jews, and have forfeited their right to marry Jewish males or to be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Paradoxically, they added that these same “converts” to Jesus were nevertheless obligated to keep Jewish law. That's an odd thing to add if they were no longer Jews.
Soon, every Jewish newspaper across the United States and many of the secular ones began reporting on this new movement of Jews for Jesus. Jesus became an issue in the Jewish community and again it was debated as to exactly where Jesus fits into Jewishness. This book, rising out of these conflicts in the Jewish community, is an attempt to deal with that very issue.