The Lubavitcher Rebbe As Messiah: Twenty Years After?

Do Lubavitch believe the Rebbe was the Messiah–twenty years after? This insightful piece by David Berger is long and complex but the article is well worth a careful reading for any wanting to understand Jewish Messianic movements in our time–or for that matter any time.

As a scholar of Christian Origins, that by definition deals with a “failed” or “dead” Messiah, the fascinating variations within the Lubavitch movement worldwide, and especially in Israel, become all the more fascinating and instructive. For one to assume that some of the same kinds of variations and conflicting interpretations were not operative among Jesus’ followers after his death–during what Crossan calls the “missing twenty years” between the crucifixion and Paul’s first letters–is surely naive. Variation is the substance of the making of any “Christology” and we all have much to learn from contemporary examples from Waco to 770 Eastern Parkway.


Did the Rebbe Identify Himself as the Messiah—and What Do His Hasidim Believe Today?


A New Beginning of a New Life

Today I begin the first day of what I am calling my New Life. I officially stepped down as Chair of our Dept. of Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte after 10 years on July 1st, but then there was the Mt Zion dig, the Society of Biblical Literature Conference in Vienna, and last week lots of lose ends to tie up back on campus with the Chair transition, including my last official meeting with the Dean as outgoing Chair. So today marks a new week and a new beginning of a New Life. I return to the honored and privileged status of a Professor of Religious Studies, which means a Teacher first and foremost, a Researcher, and a public Servant. I have also just gained 40+ hours a week of unscheduled time that used to be given to Administrative Duties. Hurray! I am celebrating this day!


If you have any comments you can leave them on my Facebook page here or via Twitter @jamesdtabor. Thanks to all my readers and I look forward to a much more active Blogging life, among many other things.


Amnon Rosenfeld is Dead: Read His Last Published Article

Update: Just published “In Memoriam” by Howard R. Feldman.

A personal note: I have been more or less off-line with regard to my blog during the four weeks of the Mt Zion dig and the International Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Vienna last week (though I have posted lots of photos on Facebook and my page is open to anyone with a FB account to view. I just got home this weekend.  Dealing with all the normal stress of an excavation with 40+ participants not to mention the tensions that broke in Jerusalem the day we arrived over the kidnappings and murders, the beginning of Ramadan, staying in east Jerusalem by the Albright at the Ritz hotel, and now the rockets from Gaza and Israel’s response made it nigh impossible to devote time to writing. I hate that my first post has to be the sad news of the death of a dear friend and colleague.

I got the sad and shocking news last night via e-mail from Robert Deutsch:

Amnon Rosenfeld was killed in a car accident on July 10
The funeral will take place tomorrow Sunday, July 13, in Givat Shaul Jerusalem
His wife is still alive in the hospital.

AmnonRosenfeldI know no other details but his Facebook page is here with a lovely photo that captures his fresh-faced wonderful personality. As Matthew Kalman wrote me last night in shock, “he was a lovely, lovely, man.” Besides Kalman I think Amnon might be the only person who attended all sessions of the infamous “Trial of the Century,” regarding the case against Oded Golan, et al. that he and certain accomplices had dealt in stolen artifacts and forged, among other things, the inscription on the James ossuary and the Jehoash tablet.

Ironically, his last article appeared yesterday morning on Bible & Interpretation without the editors even knowing Amnon was dead–so it turns out to be a posthumous publication. His vast knowledge of the facts of the fiasco as well as his acute analysis of the poisonous and spiteful atmosphere among many in our field is in my view “spot on.” This contribution is one of his best think and most important. Don’t miss it:

The Antiquities Game – Behind the Trial of the Century

Amnon was a retired Geophysicist from the Geological Survey of Israel and was involved in the early physical tests on both of these controversial articles. He also wrote about the Talpiot tomb. You can find many of his most important contributions archived here at Bible & Interpretation. I should also mention the high quality reporting on all of these matters by veteran reporter Matthew Kalman, which you can find archived here.

Amnon and I corresponded regularly and when I saw his article up at Bible & Interpretation yesterday I thought it strange I had not heard from him that it was posted. Of course I had no idea he was dead. We saw many things eye to eye and I enjoyed our occasional meetings for coffee or a snack in Jerusalem and we would talk avidly about all the latest in the crazy world of “Biblical Archaeology.” He was wise, witty, with a keen analytical mind and a quick smile. I send his family my deepest condolences and will be praying for them today with the funeral taking place just as I am finishing up this post. Like a billion+ others I will watch the World Cup this afternoon but I will have Amnon on my mind today and for a long time to come.