21 November 2022 Passing of Ed Sanders, Pioneer of the “New Perspective on Paul” #otdimjh

Ed Parish Sanders FBA (18 April 1937 – 21 November 2022) was an American New Testament scholar and a principal proponent of the “New Perspective on Paul”, along with James Dunn and N T Wright. He was a major scholar in the scholarship on the historical Jesus and contributed to the view that Jesus was part of a renewal movement within Judaism. Sanders identified himself as a “liberal, modern, secularized Protestant” in his book Jesus and Judaism; fellow scholar John P. Meier calls him a postliberal Protestant. He was Arts and Sciences Professor of Religion at Duke University, North Carolina, since 1990. He retired in 2005.

Sanders was a Fellow of the British Academy. In 1966, he received a Doctor of Theology degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. In 1990, he received a Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Oxford and a Doctor of Theology degree from the University of Helsinki. He authored, co-authored, or edited 13 books and numerous articles. He received a number of prizes, including the 1990 University of Louisville and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Grawemeyer Award for the best book on religion, Jesus and Judaism (Fortress Press, 1985).

I met Ed Sanders when studying Theology at Bristol University in 1976, the year before his trailblazing Paul and Palestinian Judaism was published. Not only was he dating my New Testament lecturer, Meg Pamment, but he was also in regular discussion with my other New Testament lecturer and Pauline Scholar, John Zeisler. As we worked our way through the Greek text of Paul’s letter to the Romans each week, John would often remark “yes, it’s funny that you should read the passage like that, as I was just talking on the phone to Ed Sanders about it, and he sees it like that also.”

Little did I know, as a young Jewish follower of Yeshua, how revolutionary Sanders’ views would be, or how helpful they would be for those of us looking to rediscover the Jewishness of Paul, Paul within Judaism, and Paul as Torah-observant Jew. But Sanders blazed the trail for an important trend in Pauline scholarship, from which the Messianic movement has benefited greatly. Scholars such as Mark Nanos, Daniel Boyarin, Mark Kinzer and David Rudolph are indebted to him.

I remember a conversation some of us had with him in a restaurant in Bristol back in the 1970s. One of the students asked him if he believed Jesus had truly risen from the dead. His answer was “Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that”. It was clear that for him then, with such scholarship and expertise on the New Testament, the issue of Yeshua’s resurrection had not been a guiding factor or key element of his research, although few had gone as deeply into the study of the life of Jesus in his Jewish context. I believe he has the answer now.

Blessing on seeing a scholar

 ברוך אתה ה’ אלקינו מלך העולם שחלק מחכמתו לבשר ודם

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheynu Melech HaOlam shechalak MeChachmato LeBasar VeDam – blessed art Thou O Lord our God who has given wisdom to flesh and blood.

A prayer of Thomas Aquinas

Ineffable Creator,

You who are the true source of life and wisdom and the Principle on which everything depends, be so kind as to infuse in my obscure intelligence a ray of your splendor that may take away the darkness of sin and ignorance.

Grant me keenness of understanding, ability to remember, measure and easiness of learning, discernment of what I read, rich grace with words.

Grant me strength to begin well my studies; guide me along the path of my efforts; give them a happy ending.

You who are true God and true Man, Jesus my Savior, who lives and reigns forever.


To read more on the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) see here and here

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28 November 1889 Birth of Werner Simonson – German judge and Anglican minister #otdimjh

It was October 1914. The First World War had just started. On the western front French and German armies were already locked in fierce battles. Werner Simonson was one of a group of fifty German soldiers from the 4th Guards regiment involved in the Battle of Diksmuide in Belgium. They had just taken prisoner over thirty French soldiers. The man Simonson had captured had been a schoolmaster before being called up. He seemed particularly distressed at the turn of events, so Simonson spoke kindly to him in French and shared some of his rations with the unhappy man.

As daylight came and the early morning mist cleared, the fifty German soldiers, with their prisoners, found that they were trapped between two French trenches. The French immediately opened fire. Within a few minutes most of the Germans were killed or wounded. The two officers in charge of the Germans, a major and a captain, were killed right next to Simonson. He survived by lying down in a small hollow in the ground. The firing stopped. Fifteen Germans remained alive.

The French now came out of their trenches to deal with the fifteen Germans who were left. In a victorious mood the French took their prisoners. Then the attitude of the victors changed dramatically. The French were outraged to discover that some of the Frenchmen previously captured by the Germans had been killed in the confusion. The Germans were wrongly accused of having shot them deliberately. As a reprisal, five Germans, including Simonson, were lined up for execution.

Just as the French officer was about to shout, ‘Fire!’ the former schoolmaster came forward and said something to the officer in charge of the firing party. As a result, Simonson and one other German were led away and saved from death. The other three German soldiers were shot. The schoolmaster who had saved Simonson’s life did not even wait around to be thanked.

Werner Simonson recorded this story in his memoirs – The Last Judgment – to show the importance of small acts of kindness. In later life he became known for them. He realized how often very small things can have unforeseen effects, either for good or evil. What he did not record was that he was awarded the Iron Cross. It was given for the bravery and good conduct he displayed during the fighting in Flanders.

During that comparatively minor battle two thirds of Simonson’s battalion were killed in a single night. Most were young students from Berlin. Whenever Simonson subsequently referred to the Battle of Diksmuide, he called it the ‘slaughter of Berlin’s youth’.

So Werner Simonson became a prisoner of the French. He was not to know that his imprisonment was to last for over five long years. Considering the enormous casualty figures among infantry soldiers on both sides in the First World War, his capture may well have saved his life. For most of the time he was forced to work on farms in the south of France. Even though he was not treated cruelly, he found life as a prisoner both hard and tedious.

He longed to see his father, mother and two sisters – Ilse, the eldest and Maggie who was younger. His father was an important Supreme Court judge in Berlin. Werner had been brought up in an atmosphere of high culture, appreciating music, painting and an aristocratic lifestyle. If only he could go home and resume his university studies to become a lawyer!

He now began to believe that he had given these studies up too quickly in the excitement of the early months of the war. Knowing only what the censored German newspapers told them, he and his friends had rushed to join the army in case the war ended before they had a chance to fight. They had been given six weeks of hurried training. Then they were issued with new grey uniforms and put on a train heading for Belgium and France. Somebody painted the words, ‘Holiday train to Paris,’ on the carriages packed with high-spirited German soldiers. He felt proud when civilians threw sweets and cigarettes to the departing troops. Enthusiastic crowds cheered them on their way to what seemed inevitable triumph. He recalled seeing a ‘victory’ parade in Berlin with large quantities of guns and military equipment that had been captured on the Russian front. Deep down he had the unpleasant feeling that it would have been better to wait until victory really was won. He had suppressed such thoughts at the time, carried along by enthusiastic propaganda and patriotism. If only he had not believed the Kaiser when he claimed falsely that Germany was being attacked! He thought about the Kaiser’s boast that he would eat his Christmas dinner in Buckingham Palace. Being a prisoner gave Simonson a different perspective. It all seemed so empty now.

The world suffered a disastrous influenza epidemic during 1918 and 1919. Millions died from what the newspapers called ‘Spanish flu’. Six million people died in India, and tens of thousands in most other countries. More United States soldiers in Europe lost their lives because of influenza than were killed in action by the enemy. Simonson was struck down with it in the autumn of 1918, and was fortunate to survive. The family of the French farmer for whom he was working nursed him back to health. Even though he was one of the ‘enemy’, he was treated as part of the family. Nevertheless, many captive Germans and French villagers perished because of the flu epidemic. Understandably, not all German prisoners were treated as kindly as he was.

At 11.00 on a grey November morning in 1918, he was working in the fields of Provence as usual, when the bells of the village church began to peal. He could also hear the bells of churches in surrounding villagers. The First World War was over. The bloodshed had ended at last. The unconfined joy of the French was matched by the misery of the Germans who knew that they were defeated. News came through that the Kaiser had fled to neutral Holland seeking asylum.

At first Simonson and his friends thought that release would soon follow. In April 1919 they were escorted to a train. The German prisoners were excited. Surely this train would take them home? Slowly the train made its way from the beautiful Mediterranean coast to the north of France. After Dijon, it travelled through areas devastated by the war. From the window Simonson could see houses in ruins, trees cut down and laid waste. Then came disappointment. They would not be going home. They were split into groups to help with the restoration of the war-torn areas. It was not until early 1920 that Simonson was eventually released.

At the time he thought his five years in captivity were completely wasted. Later on he changed his mind. As life unfolded, he realized that he had learned lessons that moulded his character and taught him how to cope with difficult situations. In his words, ‘We all had to live together in conditions of hardship, accept our limitations and renounce any notions of self-importance.’ No experience in life is wasted, he concluded.

Simonson returned to his family in Leipzig, arriving late one night. Naturally, they wept with joy and surprise. Before many days had passed he noticed the obvious: he had come back to a land that was totally different from the one he had left more than five years earlier. People were bitter and disunited by the defeat. His father, who was an ardent monarchist, was greatly upset by the change from the autocratic Kaiser to a republican democracy. Germany was engulfed by political strife. Even in the streets of Leipzig there was totally unexpected shooting. There were also disturbances in many other German towns. Political parties accused one another of being responsible for the nation’s debacle in the recent war.

After a few weeks of recuperation, Simonson plunged into his interrupted university studies. He was a man with considerable ability. As a result, his progress was rapid. In 1921, at the age of thirty-one, he passed the examinations to become Doctor of Law. In 1925 he was appointed as a judge. By 1928 he was a high-court judge presiding over commercial law cases. Although qualified in both criminal and civil law, he always preferred dealing with civil cases. His income was increased by writings for legal periodicals. His name became well known in legal circles because of his authoritative contributions to a lawyer’s yearbook.

During this period of success and advancement, he married Leonie in July 1923. She too had an aristocratic background. Their only child, a son called Juergen, was born in 1924. Considerable financial security enabled them to travel and enjoy excellent holidays every year in the most luxurious surroundings – such as the Bavarian Alps, the Tyrol, Lake Lucerne, Zermatt and the Dolomites. There were few limits on their pleasures.

The Simonsons’ circumstances were so comfortable that their way of life appeared to be unaffected by Germany’s economic problems. From 1919 to 1933 Germany was ruled by a parliament called the National Assembly. This held its meetings at Weimar because Berlin was torn by political unrest. As a result the government became known as the Weimar Republic. The politicians had no experience of democracy, and Germany was in virtually constant political and economic turmoil.

Most Germans felt frustrated by the Treaty of Versailles that had been imposed on their delegates in Paris at the end of the war. A large number believed that Germany had been treated unfairly. People were ready to believe the myth that Germany had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by the Jews and other traitors, and that the German army had not been beaten on the battlefield. Ordinary people did not feel that they had been beaten because the Allies had never occupied the country as conquerors. Dr Simonson was not particularly interested in these things. He did not like the instability in his country, but he made no attempt to change the direction of public affairs. Law was his sphere, not politics.

In 1933 Adolf Hitler was legally appointed Chancellor of Germany. On the day he took office a friend remarked to Simonson, ‘This is the end of Germany’s freedom. In future the Nazis will suppress all other views.’ Before long this was proved correct. All political groups other than the Nazi party were abolished. The parliament building was burnt down. Hitler became a dictator with all the levers of power in his control. At the end of March 1933 Simonson heard a radio broadcast by Hitler’s propaganda minister and leading spokesman, Goebbels. In it he called the Jews ‘sub-human monkeys’ and ‘the dregs of society’. Then came the news that the great Jewish conductor Bruno Walter had been forbidden to give a concert.

Windows of businesses owned by Jews were smashed. No Jew was allowed to hold public office. Because of this ruling, Nazi leaders went to all places of employment asking if there were any Jews working there. They interviewed Werner Simonson and found out that, although his parents had converted to Christianity and been baptized as Lutherans, all four of his grandparents were Jewish. Therefore, by race Simonson and his parents were Jewish, though they had no connections with any Jewish people.

The moment the Nazis found out his racial background, the fact that he had fought for Germany and had won the coveted Iron Cross for gallantry counted for nothing. His career as a judge was over. He was sacked there and then. That happened just as he was on the verge of appointment to a very senior job in the legal profession – judge in an appeal court.

Shortly afterwards, Simonson received letters from his publishers saying that, for obvious reasons, they were no longer able to publish books he had written. One of his works, a legal commentary, was even published under a false name. Overnight he became an outcast. People who had been eager to visit the family because of his social position now changed their minds. Some would walk on the other side of the street to avoid meeting him. It saddened him that highly educated people were quickly influenced by this prejudice. But as he said, ‘We learned who were our real friends.’

All his advantages vanished. He could not obtain work of any kind. Even the boys in his son’s class at school wrote on the blackboard, ‘We do not want a Jew in our form; the Jew must go.’ Simonson’s passport had a huge ‘J’ (for ‘Jew’) stamped on it. Theatres and hotels put up notices saying, ‘No admission to Jews.’

In 1938, under the strain of waiting to be arrested, Simonson’s health broke down. He had a heart attack and a nervous breakdown. The first doctor who was called refused to see him because Simonson was ‘Jewish’. Eventually, his friend Dr Schmoeger treated him, at the risk of losing his own job.

In the same year, when he was forty-nine years old, Simonson had an experience that was to change his life. In a gloomy mood, he went to Dresden to visit his married sister Maggie and her family. It was his niece’s confirmation service. This involved attending a local Lutheran church. At the time Werner Simonson thought Greek philosophy was more important than the Christian faith. He believed that the philosopher Socrates was a greater man than Jesus. Why? His explanation was that ‘Jesus had died expecting to rise again, but Socrates had given his life for his convictions without expecting any reward. I did not believe in a personal God, nor in a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus.’

During the service the preacher spoke about some men who need to reach a kind of abyss, when they can go neither forward nor back, where they are completely at the end of all hope, before they can discover the way to God. Simonson wrote, ‘He pictured this situation so vividly, as though he knew exactly my state of mind, my frustration, and was preaching just for me. It was as if God spoke to me and called me by name, as if he said, “I have a new way for you, a new life, if you will respond.”

He could not resist God’s call. ‘In the utter darkness that had engulfed my life I saw a new light. I met God, not only as the God of nature, not as the unapproachable God, far too great to be accessible to man, but now as a personal God in a “You – I” relationship, as a completely new experience. He in his mercy had revealed himself to me through the preacher’s words. God had touched my heart. It was more than an emotional effect.’ It was the beginning of a new era in his life.

He returned to his wife and son with a new hope and with faith in his heart. Praying, reading the Bible and going to church with his family became regular parts of his life. The church was in a small village near Forst, south of Berlin. It was Lutheran, and its leader, Pastor Jacob, preached only from the Bible and supported the Confessing Church. Simonson’s ideas began to change. He recorded: ‘From the Gospels I saw that my ideas about Jesus were wrong. I came to the conclusion that either Jesus was the Son of God, as he had claimed to be, or he was a deceiver or self-deceived. No Old Testament prophets had dared to forgive sins, because they knew that God alone could do it. Jesus forgave sin. The prophets spoke in the name of God. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”; “I am the light of the world”; I am the bread of life”; “I am the good shepherd”; I am the door”; I am the resurrection and the life”; I and the Father are one”; “Before Abraham was I am”.’

Werner Simonson began to understand for the first time that Jesus’ death on the cross was ‘God’s act of love, his power to overrule man’s will, forgiving sin, and drawing people to the Father’. He wrote, ‘We cannot come to God in our own strength, or by what we do, but by what Jesus has done to forgive sin by faith in him. The more I read the Bible, the more God’s Spirit entered into me. Through God I came to Christ and in Jesus I found the truth of God. In this connection, another thought came to me: if the gospel is not true, if God does not exist, then human life is accidental, without purpose and not worth living.’

He came to believe that godlessness was one of the causes of Nazism in Germany, a country so long full of criticism of the Bible. Simonson’s memoir says, ‘The evil in this world results from man’s separation from God. It is not the fault of God.’

He was now not only a marked man because he was ‘Jewish,’ but because he associated with the Confessing Church, composed of both Lutherans and Reformed Christians, all of whom openly opposed Hitler. Members of the Confessing Church particularly rejected those who called themselves ‘German Christians’ for adopting Nazi beliefs. Simonson knew that the cross had been removed from some of these ‘churches’ and replaced by a picture of Hitler. The Nazis had appointed one of this group, Mueller, as a bishop, with the aim of controlling the ‘German Christians’.

It would only be a matter of time before the Gestapo, the sate secret police, arrested Simonson. His wife was safe because she was not Jewish in any way. One woman asked his wife why he didn’t commit suicide to make life easier for her! Leonie started to urge him strongly to escape from Germany.

With the help of Dr. George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, and other English friends, Simonson obtained a visa from the British consulate. Even with this he had to be interviewed by the Gestapo to procure a passport as an emigrant. He and his wife had to report to a Gestapo building. On entering, non-Jews could walk on the carpet in the centre and sit down. Jews had to stand on the stone floor by the wall until they were called. So his wife was allowed to sit, while he had to stand. Leonie decided she would stand with him. When he was called it was made clear that if he ever returned from England he would be immediately sent to a concentration camp.

On 7 March 1939, when he was nearly fifty, Simonson arrived in Southampton ‘and took a deep breath of freedom’. He could speak only broken English, although he was fluent in French and understood Latin and Greek. The German authorities had only allowed him to take ten marks out of the country (a trifling sum). Though virtually penniless, he had something the Nazis could not take away – his faith in God through Jesus Christ. His plan at this time was to be in a position to support his wife and son, and then send for them.

The clouds on the political horizon darkened. People everywhere in Europe were restless and uneasy. It was evident to most people who were alive at the time that Europe was about to explode into the flames of the Second World War.

The moment that war started, an ‘iron curtain’ came down between Britain and Germany. Simonson’s parents, sister, wife and son were all in Germany. What was he to do? The only possible answer was the one he offered in his memoirs: ‘I trusted in God and his guidance.’ His English friends understood the predicament in which he found himself. Here was a man cut off from his family through no fault of his own. Most of them shook him by the hand to show that they cared and understood.

As he grew in grace and understanding, he experienced the Lord’s call to serve in the Christian ministry. Travelling in England he found sympathy, kindness and Christian fellowship. As his English improved, he started to study. In 1940 the only college prepared to teach him theology and how to preach was the evangelical Anglican college Ridley Hall in Cambridge. There were no fees to pay. The age gap between him and the other students was significant: most of them could have been his sons. He was well past middle-age when converted to faith in Christ and, as with many older converts, he was anxious to make the most of what life was left to him.

Suddenly there came a shock. All Germans in Britain were to be rounded up and interned in case they were spies. With Britain under threat of invasion in 1940, the decision to classify all German nationals was understandable. Simonson was put on a train and taken to a newly built housing estate at Huyton near Liverpool. From there he was shipped to Douglas on the Isle of Man, where hotels had been requisitioned.

It took the British authorities some time to sort out which of their German internees were friendly and innocent. Simonson shared a house with other Christians who had escaped from Germany. He discovered that strict Orthodox Jews occupied the hotel next door. He and his friends had discussions with them. The Jews kept up their rituals based on the law. Simonson recorded: ‘They were still waiting for the coming of the Messiah. We knew that the Messiah had come, that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. Jesus lived with us and in us. They missed this inner assurance that gave us so much strength during our internment.’ There was no place in Judaism for such a personal knowledge of God. As a result of their discussions, several Jews became Christians and were baptized in the hotel by a Lutheran pastor. After six months, Simonson was released and returned to Ridley Hall.

From this time onwards tragic news started to come from Germany. His father had died. His eighty-four-year-old mother was murdered in a concentration camp and his sister Ilse was gassed in Auschwitz. His non-Jewish wife and son, however, were spared, along with his sister Maggie, who was married to a non-Jew. Simonson was devastated. For some days he was overwhelmed by darkness and grief. He wrestled with God about it until the Lord’s compassion restored the light and joy of his salvation.

In the summer of 1942 his time at Ridley Hall came to an end. Even though he was now fifty-two, the call to the ministry was very strong. But would any English church want a German citizen as its minister? The legal authorities of the Church of England wanted proof that he really was a Doctor of Law since he had no documents. Somebody suggested asking the British Museum. Sure enough, it had a record of his thesis dated 17 March 1921, complete with its full title in German.

On 27 September 1942 Simonson was ordained in St Paul’s Cathedral, London. British newspapers were full of the amazing story of a German citizen becoming a Church of England minister in the middle of a very serious war against Germany. A typical headline announced: ‘Ex-German Judge to be Curate in London.’

At his first charge, Christ Church, Fulham, he maintained a programme of study and prayer in the mornings and four or five evangelistic visits in an afternoon, or twenty-five to thirty every week. He believed that, to sustain his ministry, it was necessary to study the Word of God daily. ‘We need to read God’s Word as spiritual food as much as we need our daily bread,’ was how he expressed his strong conviction on the matter.

One day he heard the sad news that the son of a church member had been killed while flying in the RAF over Germany. Thinking that they would not want to see a German in their grief, he was prepared to be turned away, but when he visited the home, the father and mother were waiting for him. ‘We had a wonderful time of fellowship and prayer together,’ Simonson later recalled.

In 1944 Werner Simonson received the exciting news that his son, Juergen, now twenty-one, was still alive. He was being used as a slave labourer by the Nazi Todt organization. However, he survived the ordeal, came to England, became a Christian and, like his father, entered the Church of England ministry.

More joy was to come: Leonie, his wife, was the first German civilian to be allowed into England once the war ended in 1945. She proved to be remarkably calm on finding the husband she had last known as a judge had been ‘transformed’ into a Christian minister. Two years later Dr and Mrs Simonson became British citizens.

After seven years at Fulham, he became vicar of St Mark’s, Dalston, also in London. While at Dalston he was asked to return to Germany. The new democratic West German government was genuinely short of judges who were not contaminated by Nazi ideas. Would he be a judge? If not, would he accept a pension for the post he had held before the Nazis had sacked him? It must have seemed an attractive offer. His income at the time was well below the average. He had no car. A bicycle was used for all his visiting. To Werner Simonson the decision was obvious. ‘Had I returned,’ he wrote, ‘I would have been appointed to a high position in the legal profession, yet I could not consider this offer for a moment. I could not exchange service in the ministry of God for service in the administering of man-made law; accepting this offer would have meant abandoning God’s call to me, and this I could not do.

At the age of sixty-five, he moved to St Luke’s Church, Hampstead, where he stayed for over nine years. There were many Jewish people living in Hampstead and during his ministry there ten Jewish people came to faith in Christ and were baptized by Simonson.

By the time he was nearly seventy he was beginning to find cycling on his pastoral visits tiring, so he invested in a motor-cycle. He had it for one day, fell off and went back to the bicycle! At the age of seventy-five he retired and was succeeded by Bible scholar and preacher Alec Motyer.

Werner Simonson lived to be 101, dying in February 1991. Those who knew him commented on his godliness, prayerfulness and the favourable impression that he made on people from all walks of life. He was a humble, self-effacing man who learnt from all the experiences of his varied life. After all, he had been a soldier, a prisoner, a student, a lawyer, a judge, a husband, a father, an author, a persecuted nobody, a refugee, a theology student and, last but not least, the evangelistic minister of three parish churches.

He continued to preach in weakness until a few weeks before his death, still witnessing the blessing of God. Because of his ministry, there are many in heaven today. Though virtually blind, he wrote to the author encouraging the use of his writings, photographs and correspondence to convey this testimony to any who would listen to or read it.

If Werner Simonson could speak from the grave, he would doubtless be calling on all who have no relationship with God to be reconciled to their Creator by repentance and faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, the benefits of which come directly to the individual soul by the sovereign grace of the Holy Spirit.

His little book of Memories, The Last Judgment, sets out at the beginning his motive for writing: ‘I have written this small book to show that God can change lives.’ It is hard to argue with that in the face of Werner Simonson’s experience.

From WAR AND GRACE – Short biographies from the World Wars, by Don Stephens, published by Evangelical Press, Faverdale North, Darlington, DL3 0PH, England

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6 January 1989 Lili Simon reaches her final destination #otdimjh

Lili Simon was the daughter of the timber merchant Fritz Simon. She was born in Königsberg in 1908 as the oldest of four siblings.  In 1920 the family moved to Bremen.  Her father had three grandparents of Jewish origin and was considered a “full Jew” according to the “race laws”, and Lili as “half-Jewish” developed an interest in theology in her childhood.  The relationship between Jews and Christians would become the focus of her theology, her own identity and the key to her existence.

After graduating from high school in 1928, Lili began studying theology and philology in Bonn.  She studied with Karl Barth, who had taught in Bonn since 1930.  As one of the inner circle of his students, she gave seminar presentations, asked and responded to his questions, and would maintain correspondence with him until his death in 1968.

In 1932 she moved to the University of Erlangen and received her doctorate in June 1933 under Benno von Wiese with a thesis on Goethe, graduating “summa cum laude”.  However, as a “half-Jew” she was not allowed to take the state examination.  Thereupon she emigrated in October 1933 convinced that there was no future for her in Germany, partly because of her Jewish ancestry, and partly also because of her political views. Like Barth and others, she opposed the developing nationalism that would emerge under the National Socialists.

She came to Switzerland via England and France, where she did language studies, and passed the theological faculty examination in Basel in July 1936.  But she only had permission to study in Switzerland and had to find work elsewhere. From a distance, she watched what was happening in Germany and wrote to Karl Barth on January 1, 1935: “It is often incredibly difficult for me to be so far off the beaten track and alone.  […] I am shocked and I cannot understand why our church, which has appeared as a “confessing” one, is so silent and hesitates.”

From September 1936 Lili Simon taught at the school for Jewish children run by the Church’s Ministry among the Jewish People (CMJ) in Bucharest, Roumania. 

Article by Lili Simon on her work in Bucharest – article not yet online
CMJ School Bucharest – Lili Simon is on the front row, on the right – with thanks to David Pileggi for supplying the photo

After the pogrom in Roumania against the Jews in 1941, she fled to Palestine. There she joined the Anglican school run by CMJ in Tel Aviv, teaching English language and literature.  In 1944, through the mediation of friends, she found employment as an English teacher at the Hebrew speaking Rehovot grammar school, where she was known as a Christian. For Lili, the years in Palestine/Israel were far more than just another stop on the run from the Nazis; the land became her home. 

Letter sent from BAD SCHANDAU 7 3 41 and addressed to Bucharest where it arrived (the backstamp is dated 20 MAR 41) for “Fräulein Dr Lili Simon.” From Bucharest, it was forwarded to Jerusalem – and again it got there, as shown by the British censor tape. This letter appears to have been censored when leaving Germany and may have been censored again when leaving Bucharest for Jerusalem. Though Romania formally aligned itself with the Axis powers on 23 November 1940, it still proved possible for this letter to travel to Mandate Palestine. Either Romania counted as a Neutral power or else Palestine did, which would account for a second German censorship when the letter was forwarded.
Lili must have been very surprised to receive this letter, though unfortunately we cannot tell when:
With thanks to Trevor Pateman for this information and pictures – note the Nazi censor’s stamp on right

Lili longed for a state in which Jews and Arabs could live together, and worked to create  understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Jews and Christians.  As a German and a Christian, she was exposed to questions like: “What do you have in common with Jesus, as your Gospels show him?  From a saving remnant you have become an aggressive majority, from being persecuted you have become the persecutors! Persecuted Christ yes – but Christians, no!”   She wrote to her friend and teacher, Karl Barth – “that is my daily bread in Eretz-Israel ”(letter sent on September 17, 1947). 

Lili applied for both British citizenship and Palestinian passport (see pictures below), as a “Hebrew Christian”[more information needed here].

In 1952 an eye operation forced her to return to Europe.  The doctors advised against a permanent stay in Israel, and in 1953 she returned to Bremen.  This was followed by years of tough struggle for reparation (financial compensation), which was urgently needed because of her difficult economic situation.  But this was refused many times because she left Germany “voluntarily”.  Finally, after several court cases, she was awarded compensation. 

Lili also was appointed to a lectureship in religious education at the newly-founded University of Education in Bremen.  But this was resisted by the institution and Lili Simon found herself working in a climate characterised by disinterest and wanting to be free from any ecclesiastical influence.  Lili  found little support from the local pastors and felt abandoned by the Bremen Church.  Despite enjoying the work with the students, she gave up her job at the university and in 1958 was assigned to the State Youth Ministry of the Rhenish Church. 

A progressive illness forced her to adopt a less active lifestyle.  She hoped to find this at the Youth Academy in Radevormwald, where she taught contemporary literature and Judaism from 1964.  She also led weekend conferences, which were very well received.  But the work of the academy was focused on psychological and socially-oriented group dynamics.  In Lili’s view, theology was insufficiently represented, and this led to conflicts with the Youth Academy. Unwilling to compromise on the importance of theology, she retired in 1972.  Lili continued her extensive conference and lecturing activities – most recently confined to a wheelchair – whenever possible.  Shortly after traveling to Israel on her 80th birthday, Lili died of the consequences of an accident on January 6, 1989.

Reflection and Prayer. Discovering this lady, a student of Karl Barth, a gifted theologian and teacher, and a refugee whose travels took her through England, France, Switzerland, Roumania and Israel, I am full of wonder at how her life reflected not only the travails of her times, but the faithfulness of God to his people Israel. How I would love to have met her, and hear her story at first hand, her life of prayer, her theological and political concerns, and the impact that she had on her friends, students and disciples. I look forward to meeting her in heaven!

CMJ Employment Register – with thanks to David Pileggi

Lili Simon * December 23, 1908 in Königsberg, † January 6, 1989 in Wuppertal.  1928–1933 studies of theology and philology in Bonn and Erlangen, doctorate;  1933 emigrated to England, 1934 language studies in France;  1936 theological faculty examination in Basel;  1936–1941 teacher in Bucharest;  1941 escaped to Palāstina, teacher in Tel-Aviv, 1944 in Rehovot;  1952 return to Switzerland;  1953–1958 lecturer at the University of Education in Bremen: 1958–1965 State Youth Parish Office of the Rhenish Church;  1964 / 65–1972 lecturer and lecturer at the Radevormwald youth academy.

Evangelisch getauft – als »Juden« verfolgt,

Evangelisch getauft – als “Juden” verfolgt. Theologen jüdischer Herkunft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Ein Gedenkbuch herausgegeben von
Hartmut Ludwig und Eberhard Röhm in Verbindung mit Jörg Thierfelder
Theologische Literaturzeitung. Monatsschrift für das gesamte Gebiet der Theologie und Religionswissenschaft. Calver Verlag Stuttgart, 2014, pp. 324-5.

http://www.caspari.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/mishkan61.pdf, p74 – Harold Adeney’s recollection –


Type:    Article in Book
Title:    Israels Hoffnung gibt den Juden und uns Zukunft
Ein Beitrag im Gespräch mit Karl Barth über die Juden
Title in English:    Israel’s Hope Gives a Future to the Jews and Us
A Contribution in Conversation with Karl Barth on the Jews
Author:    Simon, Lili
Book:    Antwort
Language:    German
Pages:    712-731
Wildi ID:    18091.1
Keyword:    Israel / Jews
Reference ID:    13592

P279 – Another set of much more complicated questions concerned the Christian belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and the implications of this belief for Jewish-Christian 73 Ibid. 74 Ibid., 428-430. 278 relations. Here workgroup members were themselves clearly divided. Pastor Leuner, a Jewish Christian argued that it was only the actions of Christians, their centuries of persecution against the Jews, that prevented Jews from recognizing Jesus as their Messiah. Schalom Ben-Chorin, a Jewish speaker, acknowledged the respect that many modern Jews had for Jesus as a Jewish teacher. But he reiterated their rejection of Jesus’ messianic claims. And another workgroup member, Lili Simon, worked to explain Jesus’ comments that he was the only way to the Father. These comments, she suggested, did not exclude the Jews since, in context, he was speaking here of the path that his disciples should follow, not making any universal claim. Rabbi Geis, by contrast, reaffirmed the important theological differences between Judaism and Christianity, arguing “the things that separate us need to be allowed to remain; it would be a fundamental misunderstanding to not take these seriously or to try to discuss them away.” Nevertheless, all of these speakers called for Christian humility in relation to the Jews and for tolerance and continued discussion.75


DEKT 1961 – 430-440

Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag. Berlin 1961. Dokumente. Stuttgart: Kreuz Verlag, 1961. [DEKT 1961]


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Friend of Charlotte von Kirchbaum, Professor Helmut Gollwitzer and Dr. Lili Simon, who came to know her while they were students in Basel.closer circle of his students included Georg Eichholz, Walther Fiirst, Helmut Gollwitzer, Heinz Kloppen- burg, Werner Koch, Walter Kreck, the student ad- viser Erica Kiippers, Georg Lanzenstiel, Lili Simon, Karl Gerhard Steck, and Hellmut Traub.” Among them she made many good friends, and these friend- ships continued even after the years in Bonn.

P279 – Another set of much more complicated questions concerned the Christian belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and the implications of this belief for Jewish-Christian 73 Ibid. 74 Ibid., 428-430. 278 relations. Here workgroup members were themselves clearly divided. Pastor Leuner, a Jewish Christian argued that it was only the actions of Christians, their centuries of persecution against the Jews, that prevented Jews from recognizing Jesus as their Messiah. Schalom Ben-Chorin, a Jewish speaker, acknowledged the respect that many modern Jews had for Jesus as a Jewish teacher. But he reiterated their rejection of Jesus’ messianic claims. And another workgroup member, Lili Simon, worked to explain Jesus’ comments that he was the only way to the Father. These comments, she suggested, did not exclude the Jews since, in context, he was speaking here of the path that his disciples should follow, not making any universal claim. Rabbi Geis, by contrast, reaffirmed the important theological differences between Judaism and Christianity, arguing “the things that separate us need to be allowed to remain; it would be a fundamental misunderstanding to not take these seriously or to try to discuss them away.” Nevertheless, all of these speakers called for Christian humility in relation to the Jews and for tolerance and continued discussion.75


DEKT 1961 – 430-440

Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag. Berlin 1961. Dokumente. Stuttgart: Kreuz Verlag, 1961. [DEKT 1961]

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1 January 1897 “To the Jew first” – Hudson Taylor sends donation to John Wilkinson #otdmijh

Happy New Year to all our readers!

“On this day in Messianic Jewish history” enters its 8th year – bringing you significant events in the life of Jewish believers in Yeshua. What are the events in the history of the Church and the Jewish people that have shaped Jewish expressions of faith in Yeshua? How have they impacted Jewish Christianity in the past and its contemporary expression in Messianic Judaism today?


As we begin a New Year we reflect on the principle and practice illustrated in the life of Hudson Taylor, the pioneer missionary to China, and John Wilkinson, founder of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews on the 1st of January 1897. I would also like to invite you to follow their example.

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On the first day of every year during his time as head of the China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship), Hudson Taylor sent a donation by check to the Mildmay Mission to the Jews, London, on which was written, “To the Jew first.” And, at the same time, John Wilkinson, leader of the Mildmay Mission, sent his personal check to the China Inland Mission with the notation, “And also to the Gentile.”


The details are recorded by Mrs Hudson Taylor here:

And her last gift to the Rev. John Wilkinson expressed the deepest interest in his work among the Jews. Work among God’s ancient people occupied a special place in the prayerful sympathy of both Mr. and Mrs. Taylor ; and Mr. John Wilkinson, founder of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews, recalled an interesting phase of their long friendship. Taking advantage of a New Year’s Day spent at home (1897), Mr. Taylor went round to Mr. Wilkinson’s house with a brotherly note enclosing a gift for the Mission. ” To the Jew first,” were the words with which the cheque was accompanied. Mr. Wilkinson’s warm heart was touched, and he immediately wrote a brotherly reply, enclosing his own cheque for the same amount, with the words : ” And also to the Gentile.” This helpful interchange of sympathy was kept up ever after, the only change being that each doubled the amount of their contribution.


The exegesis of Romans 1:16 to argue for a ‘missional priority’ for Jewish evangelism, that the Jewish people remain today the starting point has not always been accepted. But today, as much as ever, believers in Yeshua have a responsibility towards the Jewish people which includes not only repentance and reconciliation, but sharing of the Good News of the Messiah of Israel as a priority.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the example of Hudson Taylor. Help us in our lives to live out his principles of faith and put them into practice. May we too have a right understanding of your love and concern for your Jewish people, and how best to show this. May this coming year be crowned with good things, and may Yeshua be made known as the glory of his people Israel. In our Messiah’s name. Amen.

If you are enjoying these posts, would you like to contribute to their production by sending a donation to support the work of the author? You can do this by selecting “Designation: Richard Harvey” here. You help is much appreciated, and will reflect the principle outlined by Hudson Taylor, the pioneer missionary to China.



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10 December 1933 Karl Barth preaches on the Jewishness of Jesus

This Advent sermon by Karl Barth, with its clarion call to challenge the growing power of Hitler, the Nazi party and the German Christian group, displays at the theological level the complex issues of faith, justice, protest and resistance that Barth, Bonhoeffer and others would demonstrate in the days to come. But it is all done in the language of preaching and exegesis of Scripture, and the message must be decoded and interpreted in the light of its context to see the radical nature of its confrontation with the incipient Third Reich. Below is the sermon in full with an introduction by John Michael Owen.

Prayer and reflection: As we sing the well-known Advent hymn we recognise how it has been used against the Jewish people over the centuries for foster anti-Judaism and antisemitism. As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of the Messiah may we also welcome all Israel and all Nations to enjoy God’s love and hospitality, without judgment based on ethnic pride or theological prejudice. In our Messiah’s name we pray. Amen.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


 Romans 15:5-13, December 10, 1933 (2nd Advent), University Service in the Schlosskirche, Bonn. Tr. J. M. Owen. Colloquium 36, no. 2 (2004): 172-180.


Reflection: Jewish-Christian relations and Advent hymns

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July 10 1903/1983 Birth and Death of H L Ellison, Hebrew Christian Scholar and Gentleman #otdimjh

I am reblogging this with the addition of a copy of the last IHCA Theological Bulletin which Harry Ellison edited, from November 1979. He edited and largely wrote this bulletin three times per year, and it is full of his wit, wisdom and sharp observations on the biblical, theological and Hebrew Christian studies of his day – see https://www.dropbox.com/s/f7bo511il0w9zfm/Ellison%20IHCA%20Theology%201979.pdf?dl=0

On This Day In Messianic Jewish History

Henry Leopold Ellison (July 10, 1903 Krakow, Poland – July 10, 1983 Dawlish), usually cited as H. L. Ellison, was a biblical scholar, professor, missionary, speaker, and author in the 1900s. His parents were Leopold Zeckhausen and Sara Jane Ellison. His father, being a Jewish Believer, was a missionary to the Jews throughout Europe.

He and his brother, Christian (a missionary in China), changed their last names from Zeckhausen to Ellison in 1925 to better assimilate into British society.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Ellison was an Anglican missionary to the Jews in Europe in the late 1920s and ’30s. However, after receiving Believer’s Baptism, he was kicked out of the Church of England. Upon his return to Britain, he held many positions in the academic realm as a respected Old Testament scholar and became associated with the Open Brethren.

He was a friend and colleague of F. F. Bruce.

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22 November 1963 Death of C S Lewis: Author, Apologist, Advocate for the Jewish people #otdimjh

“In a sense the converted Jew is the only normal human being in the world. To him, in the first instance, the promises were made, and he has availed himself of them. He calls Abraham his father by hereditary right as well as by divine courtesy. He has taken the whole syllabus in order, as it was set; eaten the dinner according to the menu. Everyone else is, from one point of view, a special case, dealt with under emergency regulations … we christened gentiles, are after all the graft, the wild vine, possessing ‘joys not promised to our birth’; though perhaps we do not think of this so often as we might.” (Forward to Smoke on the Mountain)

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was a British writer and lay theologian. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1925–1954) and Cambridge University (Magdalene College, 1954–1963). He is best known for his works of fiction, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. They both served on the English faculty at Oxford University and were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the Inklings. According to Lewis’s 1955 memoir Surprised by Joy, he was baptised in the Church of Ireland, but fell away from his faith during adolescence. Lewis returned to Anglicanism at the age of 32, owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, and he became an “ordinary layman of the Church of England”. Lewis’s faith profoundly affected his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

Lewis wrote more than 30 books which have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularised on stage, TV, radio, and cinema. His philosophical writings are widely cited by Christian apologists from many denominations.

Joy Davidman’s home in Headington, Oxford (with Andrew Barron)

In 1956, Lewis married American Jewish Christian writer Joy Davidman; she died of cancer four years later at the age of 45. Lewis died on 22 November 1963 from kidney failure, one week before his 65th birthday. In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis was honoured with a memorial in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.

C S Lewis’ Grave in Oxford

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the life, work and loves of C S Lewis, for you, for his wife Joy, and for your people Israel. May we be inspired by his creativity, wisdom, scholarship and personal faith, as we sail the Dawn Treader of our lives into shores unknown and adventures new. Help us persevere as we wrestle with the Problem of Pain and resist the temptations of Screwtape and his minions to distract us from the way of Aslan. In our Messiah Yeshua we pray. Amen

New Book by P H Brazier – published October 2021
https://wipfandstock.com/9781725291973/a-hebraic-inkling/An apologist, philosophical theologian, and Oxford academic, C. S. Lewis valued the Jewish religious tradition. Underpinning Lewis’s corpus is an enlightened, foundational respect for the Jews as God’s chosen people. Much of Lewis’s mature understanding came from his wife, Joy Davidman (Lewis referred to her as a Jewish Christian), born to American Jewish parents; she was an adult convert to Yeshua Ha Mashiach–Jesus Christ. A Hebraic Inkling, examines this Jewish-Hebrew heritage in Lewis’s life and works, by analyzing key texts: theological and philosophical, literary and apologetic, biblical. As a boy and young man he reflected much of the implicit anti-Semitism inherent to the public school educated Edwardian establishment; this is replaced by deep respect when he became a Christian. Along with the Hebrew Scriptures, we examine Lewis on Hebraic poetry (Reflections on the Psalms), the “The Incarnation Nation,” the Messiah in the Hebrew scriptures, supersessionism, Israel, his rigorous stand against anti-Semitism, and how Christians are enfolded into the chosen people. With marriage revelation gets deeply personal: a familial witness. When one of Joy’s children–David–sought to return to his mother’s birth-faith, Lewis moved all to accommodate his wishes and raise him as a Jew, after Joy’s untimely death.


On one of my office walls hang the pictures of eight Messianic Jewish Luminaries and below them is one lone picture of C.S. Lewis. People who come into my office often ask, “Who is that?” Although many people don’t know what he looked like, every time I tell them who it is a smile comes across their faces.

I have always loved the writings of C.S. Lewis since I was a small child at Christian summer camp. One of the activities we had was story time where a counselor would read one of the Narnia Chronicle books to us. It wasn’t long after that that I read the entire series myself. When I got older I read more of his theological stuff such as Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters. He is one of my favorite writers of all time and always seemed to communicate with such ease and grace.

While most believers are familiar with his works on some level, very few people know about his Jewish wife and the impact that she had upon him. Joy Davidman Gresham was of Jewish descent and had come to believe in Messiah after being an atheist for most of her life. Lewis wrote of her:

In a sense the converted Jew is the only normal human being in the world. To him, in the first instance, the promises were made, and he has availed himself of them. He calls Abraham his father by hereditary right as well as by divine courtesy. He has taken the whole syllabus in order, as it was set; eaten the dinner according to the menu. Everyone else is, from one point of view, a special case, dealt with under emergency regulations … we christened gentiles, are after all the graft, the wild vine, possessing “joys not promised to our birth”; though perhaps we do not think of this so often as we might. (Forward to Smoke on the Mountain)

While I balk a bit at the expression “converted Jew,” we must remember the time in which C.S. Lewis lived and wrote. From that perspective the respect and honor that he gives the Jewish people is profound and progressive and his words about Gentiles are sobering and certainly in line with the Apostle Paul’s warning, “Do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you” (Romans 11:18).

He expresses a similar sentiment while commenting on the gospel story of the Syrophoenician woman:

I think to myself that the shocking reply to the Syrophoenician woman (it came alright in the end) is to remind all us Gentile Christians—who forget it easily enough or flirt with anti-Semitism—that the Hebrews are spiritually senior to us, that God did entrust the descendants of Abraham with the first revelation of Himself. (The Quotable Lewis, 348)

After Joy passed away from cancer Lewis continued to raise her two boys Douglas and David. While Douglas would go on to become a follower of Messiah like his mother, David became an Orthodox Jew and eventually took up the profession of a schochet (ritual slaughterer). While he still lived with C.S. Lewis, Lewis would provide him with kosher food, which was no small task in 1950s Oxford, England. This was certainly a testament to Lewis’ character and his compassion for the Jewish people.

On this day, November 22nd in 1963, Lewis passed on into the world of truth. May his writings continue to inspire us all, and may the humility he expressed as a Gentile believer toward the Jewish people be an example to us in the Messianic movement today.


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9 December 1995 Baptism and Passing of Gillian Rose, philosopher, cultural theorist and believer in Yeshua #otdimjh

Whilst Gillian Rose’s death occurred on the 9 December, I am re-blogging this now to alert readers of a special offer on a new book introducing Rose’s social philosophy, available on from Wipf and Stock for just $2.99 until 30 November 2021 (you may need to register to receive their email offer) – what a great way to enjoy her work and celebrate this extraordinarily gifted philosopher and Jewish disciple of Jesus.

On This Day In Messianic Jewish History

Whilst Gillian Rose’s death occurred on the 9 December, I am re-blogging this now to alert readers of a special offer on a new book introducing Rose’s social philosophy, available on from Wipf and Stock for just $2.99 until 30 November 2021 (you may need to register to receive their email offer) – what a great way to enjoy her work and celebrate this extraordinarily gifted philosopher and Jewish disciple of Jesus.

The Social Philosophy of Gillian Rose (Veritas Book 27) by [Andrew Brower Latz]

rose 2

“In the wake of the perceived demise of Marxism and of Heidegger’s Nazism, everybody’s looking for an ethics. But in fact they should be looking for a political theology.” – Gillian Rose

I am grateful to Rev. David Pileggi for drawing my attention to this outstanding Jewish Christian thinker, and reproduce here the obituaryin the Tabletthat appeared a month after her death.

tablet2 rose

Page 14, 6th January 1996

Last journey

The brilliant Jewish philosopher, Professor Gillian Rose…

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28 October 2021 Rochester Cathedral Dean Consecrates Messianic Jew #otdimjh

Historic Event at Rochester Cathedral – Jewish Disciples of Jesus Are Welcome!

On Thursday 28th October Paul Stevens, a Jewish disciple of Jesus, leader of the Havdalah Messianic Fellowship in Chislehurst, South London, and a member of the Anglican Church, was prayed for and consecrated as “A Messianic Jew with the Church”. The service was led by the Dean of Rochester Cathedral, the Very Revd Dr Philip Hesketh, with participation from Gerry Cohen, the Vice-President of the British Messianic Jewish Alliance, and music from Jonathan Newman, of the Barn Torah Group Community, Woking.

The service, prepared by Rev. Alex Jacob, the CEO of the Church’s Ministry Among the Jewish People (CMJ), affirmed the presence, gifts and calling of Jewish people who have become followers of Jesus, but see no need to renounce their Jewish heritage and identity.  Rather they are to celebrate it as part of their special role within the Church and among the Jewish people. Paul gave a moving testimony to how his father, a refugee from Odessa, Ukraine, changed his surname from  Shlisselman to Stevens, and Paul discovered more of his own Jewish identity when he came to a living and personal faith in Jesus as his Messiah and Lord. His own journey of self-discovery led him to the realisation that he had been entrusted with a “special ministry of reconciliation” as a member of two distinct communities that did not know or understand each other, far less see their mutual bond.

“It became more and more obvious to me that the predominantly Gentile church didn’t really see who Jesus was, nor indeed recognise the Jewish identity of the apostles and the early Christian community. To me there was something fundamentally missing from the Gentile conception of Jesus that I had known.” Paul remarked in his address.

The service recognised and affirmed this calling, as Paul has expressed it, “to witness to the synagogue that it is no betrayal of Torah or of Judaism to follow the messiah Jesus and to remind the church that Christianity is at root a renewed form of Judaism. And if true reconciliation is possible then there surely will be peace.”

The Dean called on those present, friends, family, church leaders, representatives of the British Messianic Jewish Alliance, members of the Rochester Spirituality Network and Cathedral staff, to affirm and support Paul in this ministry, anointing him with oil and praying for him:

“Most merciful God and Father, You have set your church in the world to bear a living witness to the gospel and you equip us with the gifts to do this. Forgive us when we undermine the Gospel and misunderstand your ways. We thank You for the unity within diversity of your Church and today we thank you for and celebrate the presence within the Church of Messianic Jews, that is of Jewish Believers in Jesus. We rejoice in the significance of this and the promise of blessing this brings. We pray now for Paul Louis and as I now anoint him with this oil we ask that you will anoint him afresh with your Holy Spirit. Protect, guide and empower him so that in the fullness of your plans Paul Louis may walk closely with you and bring many blessings to the Church and to the wider Jewish community. All this we ask in the Name of Jesus Messiah of Israel and LORD of all. Amen.”

The service included the saying of the Shema and the Aaronic Benediction (Numbers 6:25) in Hebrew, and a calling on those present “to root out all forms of anti-semitism from our church community and wider society.”

The service sets a historic precedent for the recognition and welcoming of Jewish disciples of Jesus within the Anglican Church. It also raises again the ongoing challenge of responding to the statues of Ecclesia and Synagoga (Church and Synagogue) that have adorned the entrance to the Cathedral Chapter Room (now the Chapter Library) since the 14th century. The two female figures represent Ecclesia and Synagoga, the Christian Church and the Jewish people. Synagoga holds a broken staff and the tables of the law held upside down, wearing a blindfold to symbolise ignorance of the Messiah. They reflect that belief that Judaism as a religion was made unnecessary after the coming of Christ. It is starkly anti-Semitic, dating from some 50 years after the Jews were expelled from England in 1290.

Can the welcome, recognition and consecration of Paul Stevens begin to make amends and put right the centuries old “teaching of contempt” that led to modern antisemitism?

Paul Stevens – –  Testimony here   

Service of Consecration here


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10 November 1483 Happy Birthday, Martin Luther! #otdimjh

How can Messianic Jews given thanks for the birth of Martin Luther, when his life, literature and legacy are so filled with anti-Judaism and led to terrible acts of antisemitism?

I have tried to answer this question in my book “Luther and the Jews: Putting Right the Lies” where I look forward to dancing a hora (Jewish circle dance) in Heaven with him. He will have repented of his views and I will have forgiven him.


But today we still bear the legacy of his life and work both negatively and positively. His birthday was celebrated by the burning of synagogues and looting and destruction of Jewish homes and businesses:

Today Yachad BeYeshua has a webinar for its members on the third of its Core Values: Love for the Body of the Messiah. Despite the presence of Christian anti-Judaism, Supersessionism and continuing hostility to Jews and Judaism we are commanded not only to love our enemies and seek reconciliation with them, but to have a right love, respect and commitment to the Body of the Messiah – “the Church”. That is why I give thanks for Martin Luther as well as pray for his wrongs to be put right.

Today there is also much discussion about the Judensau – “Jew Pig” on the wall of his parish church in Wittenberg:



Removal Not Enough!

NOV 9, 2021 — Josef Schuster: Removal is still not a matter of course –

The education department’s conference discusses how to deal with anti-Semitic images and abusive sculptures on and in churches

The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, has called on the churches to distance themselves even more from anti-Jewish sculptures and pictures on their places of worship. “For a long time the public display of insulting, anti-Jewish representations was neither dealt with nor commented critically.”

“A lot has changed about that, even if distancing is still not a matter of course,” he said on Sunday evening in Berlin at the opening of the symposium “Ban on images ?! On dealing with anti-Semitic images and abusive sculptures on and in churches «. The three-day conference is organized by the education department in the Central Council of Jews in cooperation with the Evangelical Church in Germany, the Research Institute for Social Cohesion (FGZ) and the Evangelical Academy in Berlin.

My prayer is that Jewish and Christian leaders in Germany may find a way to express repentance, reconciliation and renewal of relationships by relocating such objects to a place where they no longer desecrate sacred space and tarnish public space – a place where forgiveness can be asked for and given.

What Birthday Presents for Luther today? Repentance and Forgiveness

Luther explains “Forgive us our sins”:

The fifth petition. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Say:
“O dear Lord, God and Father, enter not into judgment against us because no man living is justified before thee. Do not count it against us as a sin that we are so unthankful for thine ineffable goodness,
spiritual and physical, or that we stray into sin many times every day, more often than we can know or
recognize, Psalm 19. Do not look upon how good or how wicked we have been but only upon the infinite compassion which thou hast bestowed upon us in Christ, thy dear Son. Grant forgiveness also to
those who have harmed or wronged us, as we forgive them from our hearts. They inflict the greatest injury upon themselves by arousing thy anger in their actions toward us. We are not helped by their ruin;
we would much rather that they be saved with us. Amen.” (Anyone who feels unable to forgive, let him
ask for grace so that he can forgive; but that belongs in a sermon.)

Just as Luther prays, so we ask God to forgive us our sins and to be able to forgive others. In Yeshua our Messiah’s name. Amen

A free copy of my book “Luther and the Jews” if you email me at removejudensau1″at”gmail.com with your postal address!

I particularly like the devotional quality of Luther’s writings – here is something he wrote on prayer –

A Simple Way To Pray
Martin Luther
Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments, and the Creed.
A Letter to His Barber, Master Peter Beskendorf, Spring 1535

This in short is the way I use the Lord’s Prayer when I pray it. To this day I suckle at the Lord’s
Prayer like a child, and as an old man eat and drink from it and never get my fill. It is the very best
prayer, even better than the psalter, which is so very dear to me. It is surely evident that a real master
composed and taught it. What a great pity that the prayer of such a master is prattled and chattered so
irreverently all over the world! How many pray the Lord’s Prayer several thousand times in the course
of a year, and if they were to keep on doing so for a thousand years they would not have tasted nor
prayed one iota, one dot, of it! In a word, the Lord’s Prayer is the greatest martyr on earth (as are the
name and word of God). Everybody tortures and abuses it; few take comfort and joy in its proper use.

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