Book Review: Taylor Marshall’s The Crucified Rabbi

Marshall bookMy dear friend Taylor Marshall has recently published a fantastic new book entitled: The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. This is a book for anyone interested in understanding Catholic teachings and practices more, and particularly their biblical and Jewish roots. The book is clear and accessible to a wide range of readers, and it is beautifully written. Its orientation is certainly popular, but the scholarship that went into producing this text is apparent in the text itself as well as in the endnotes which conclude each chapter. I would recommend this book to both Catholics and non-Catholics. It is a quick and enjoyable read (I had difficulty putting it down when I first began reading it—I’ve read it twice already and am looking forward to reading it a third time when I am able). 

The Crucified Rabbi is available for only $14.95 from Amazon.com. Marshall’s book encompasses a wide-range of topics exploring their OT and Jewish roots: Jesus’ messiahship; Mary as Queen mother of the fulfilled Davidic kingdom (the Church); the papacy; Catholic view of baptism; the Mass and the Eucharist; Catholic priesthood; priestly vestments; cathedrals; parishes; monasticism; Catholic views on marriage; holy days and the liturgical calendar; Saints; and the afterlife. His book also includes a very helpful appendix which lists over 300 OT passages Marshall believes Jesus fulfilled in His NT life and mission. His bibliography includes both useful scholarly and popular works for further reading. This book is a must read. 

In this book, Marshall beautifully shows how Catholic Christianity is intimately connected with its Jewish origins. He masterfully weaves together biblical narratives, traditional Jewish literature, the lives of the Saints, magisterial Catholic sources, and his own personal anecdotes, to produce a gripping story of discovery. With this book, Marshall has successfully shown how Catholic Christianity’s roots lie in the OT narratives as they reach their fulfillment in the NT. 

Marshall’s work is particularly interesting to me because he was an ordained Episcopalian priest, and it was through his study of the OT and Jewish roots of Christianity, which he presents in this book, that he became convinced that the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus founded. Despite many hardships and difficulties, he and his family entered the Catholic Church, and he is currently completing doctoral work in Philosophy at the University of Dallas. His conversion story is available online from his popular blog Canterbury Tales.

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Taylor Marshall’s The Crucified Rabbi”

  1. Quote: “and it was through his study of the OT and Jewish roots of Christianity”

    (le-havdil,)A logical analysis (found here: http://www.netzarim.co.il (the website of the only legitimate Netzarim)) of all extant source documents and archeology proves that the historical Ribi Yehosuha ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical.

    The roots of Christianity is not Judaism, the religion that Ribi Yehoshua and his talmidim Netzarim
    taught, but Hellenism. Learn more in the “History Museum” in the above Netzarim-website.

  2. Mr. Branderud,

    You wrote:

    “The roots of Christianity is not Judaism, the religion that Ribi Yehoshua and his talmidim Netzarim taught, but Hellenism.”

    The thesis of the The Crucified Rabbi proves that early Christianity was not Hellenistic but thoroughly Hebraic – much more Abrahamic and Mosaic than so-called rabbinical Judaism in that it retained the cultic/sacrificial/priestly identity of the Patriarchs, Moses, and David. The Torah is dedicated to a religion of this sort – not to the synagogal pattern of the rabbis.

    May God richly bless you.

    Godspeed,
    Taylor Marshall

    PS: Jeff and all Caritas et Veritas brethren – you are too kind. Thank you for this review.

    1. Dear Taylor,

      I agree with the gist of your comment. I would probably phrase things a little differently. The Judaism that emerges from the scholars, the Pharisees, is very Mosaic. In fact, much of the distinctives are found precisely where the Pharisees and later rabbis erected fences around Torah. Christianity erects its own fences around Torah. To use St. Thomas’ distinctions, Pharisaic and later rabbinic Judaism places fences especially around what St. Thomas calls the ceremonial law, precisely that part of the law Christianity no longer follows. We might read the OT in light of what we would see as it’s natural trajectory, as we would read Jesus in the Gospels and St. Paul reading it (and Jeremiah, etc.), and we would conclude that much of the Mosaic legal corpus was to separate the people from the nations for a number of reasons (including growth in holiness, pedagogy, etc.). When we get to the Davidic covenant, however, we enter into an international phase of Israelite history which is meant to include the nations (as foreseen by the Abrahamic covenant). Christianity is more international (and cosmic) in its Abrahamic and Davidic elements than Pharisaical Judaism which focused more on the Mosaic. That’s probably more how I would phrase it. Thanks for your comments, and I love your book.

      Yours in Christ,

      Jeff

      1. Although, Taylor, of course you’re completely on target with the cultic/sacrificial/priestly element. With the destruction of the Temple and the end of animal sacrifices, the sacrificial Christian priesthood, making Jesus’ high priestly sacrifice of self perpetually offered from heaven, present on earth at every Mass, does seem more Mosaic than the Torah-centered worship which emerges in the synagogues, or Bible-centered worship which we find in some Christian communities today.

  3. Dear Anders,

    Thanks for stopping by and reading the blog. I appreciate your comment. In regard to your comment, “The root of Christianity is not Judaism…but Hellenism,” I would respond that it is not so easy to make such a clear distinction when looking at the Second Temple Judaism in which Jesus lived. The Judaism of Jesus’ day, even in Palestine, was more Hellenized than your comment implies. Moreover, as Marshall so eloquently and persuasively argues in his fine book, Christianity’s roots are not solely Greco-Roman (contrary to much of the late 19th and early 20th century [often anti-Semitic] German scholarship of the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule), but are deeply embedded in the Judaism of the Old Testament and of Jesus’ immediate environment.

    All the best,

    Jeff

  4. Jeff,

    100% agree. I would only add that the original Mosaic economy had an eye to what would eventually become the international Davidic manifestation of “being a light to all nations” – it was just put on probation because of the golden calf incident and through the subsequent probational Levitical priesthood. This turned Israel inward instead of outward.

    Of course, Jeff, I’m preaching to the choir – you’ve read Kinship so you already know all about this. 😉

    Thanks again for the rocking review!

    in Christ,
    Taylor

    1. Thanks Taylor for your additional comment. We’re definitely in agreement. And of course I agree with the trajectory we both see in the Pentateuch.

  5. Friends,
    I’m short on time, but must say, if the Mass is truly a sacrifice and indeed a presentation of Christ’s once for all sacrifice, why does it not have the properties and effects of that sacrifice as set forth in scripture? To me it looks precisely like the endless, imperfect sacrifices of the Old Covenant explicitly abrogated by the singular sacrifice of the Son of God – which is able to remove all sin and make perfect forever those who are being made holy. Read Hebrews again tonight. (Heb. 10:1-14 etc.) I contend that the Mass as you understand it cannot possibly be made to accord with its message.

    I also dispute that the New Covenant only abrogates the specific ceremonial dimension of the Law. When Paul says we are dead to the law and saved by faith apart from the works of the Law, he is talking about something much bigger than mere ritual (which, in any case, is closely paralleled in the RC system, I might add). Consider how Paul says that the Law is written on the hearts of the gentiles (Rom. 2), that it arouses sin in the natural man (does mere ceremony do this?), and his specific mention of the command against coveting in Rom. 7. It is manifestly the case that he was speaking of the Law in its entirety, ethical and ceremonial.

    What Paul is saying is that the believer in Christ is no longer under the Law as a covenant of works that can alternately bless or curse, give or take life. Through the body of Christ, who was made a curse for us, we died to the Law in all its fullness so that we might live to God and truly fulfill the law. The Law has a continuing function in the life of the faithful, but not as a basis for our standing with God. Such a status can kill, but it can never give life and is the antithesis of the gospel. Understanding this is utterly essential. If you get this wrong your understanding of what the New Covenant brings will be truncated at best, if not utterly undone.

  6. Josh Anderson,

    Good comment and solid objection.

    However, I have a couple of questions. Help me understand what you’re saying here:

    “if the Mass is truly a sacrifice and indeed a presentation of Christ’s once for all sacrifice, why does it not have the properties and effects of that sacrifice as set forth in scripture?”

    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass does have the properties and effects of the sacrifice of Christ, because it is that same sacrifice. It offers blood. It remits sin. It communicates grace. It accomplishes communion between God and man and men with one another – all because it *is* Christ’s sacrifice – one and the same. However, the mode of offering is different.

    It fulfills the todah (“thanksgiving”) sacrifice of the Old Covenant, which was brought to the forefront of God’s economy by King David. The Jewish rabbis even believed that only the today/thanksgiving sacrifice would endure into the Messianic age (which is exactly what Catholics believe!!!). This is why the Apostles called it “eucharistia” which is the Greek for “thanksgiving.”

    Also, it is not the historic (or biblical) teaching that Christ “abrogates the Law” or any part of it. Christ “fulfills the Law”. He fulfills the moral, ceremonial, and judicial precepts and transforms them.

    We still uphold the Law through faith – we just don’t depend on it for justification! Law cannot justify. I think that we Catholics are in full agreement with you on that.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Taylor

    1. No time to reply now Taylor, but the New Testament speaks about the work of Christ from a variety of standpoints with respect to the Law. Christ clearly states that he came not to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it. Yet, it is precisely inasmuch as Christ fulfilled the Law on our behalf that, as Paul says, we died to the Law through the body of Christ. And as he says elsewhere, Christ is the end of the Law for all those who believe. Understood properly, these two ideas are in perfect harmony.

      I would dispute that the Roman Catholic does not depend upon the Law for justification. Indeed, I contend that this is precisely what is going on, at least in part and considered from a certain perspective. Incidentally, I would love to get your feedback on some of the other recent comments I have submitted. I really want to understand what you guys believe and where we agree and differ. Blessings.

    2. Taylor,
      I wanted to responsed to your request for clarification. When I said that the mass doesn’t have the properties of the sacrifice of Christ, I didn’t have in mind modes or substances (though we differ here as well). What I mean is this: Scripture portrays the sacrifice of Christ is a final and all-sufficient sacrifice. As such, it is able to cleanse those who embrace it from all guilt, pay fully the penalty for sin, and guarantee eternal life.

      Even passages RC’s reference in support of their view of the Eucharist proclaim this in unmistakable terms. In John 6 Jesus declares that those who eat his flesh and drink his blood will infallibly be raised to enjoy everlasting life (6:50-54 etc.). The entire passage is shot through with the language of necessity.

      Nevertheless, the RC Mass is does not relieve those who come of the full penalty of sin. It does not guarantee them eternal life. It must be repeated endlessly and to only limited effect.

      The reseason for this discrepancy is that John 6 is not speaking primarily of the Eucharist. (Though as a secondary, derivative referent it is possible and even likely insofar as the Supper pictures the gospel).

      Rather a careful reading shows that Jesus is speaking of coming in true faith to the supreme sacrifice that is his death. Eating and drinking are manifestly metaphors for belief. He mixes the literal (belief) and figurative (eating/drinking) throughout so that we may discern the meaning of the vivid language – “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never go thirsty” and so forth.

      As Jesus said at the end of the discourse, “the words I have spoken are spirit and they are life.” His listeners made the fatal error of reducing what he said to something carnal and finite. We must not do the same. IYet, I submit for your consideration that this is precisely what the Roman doctrine does.

  7. One last thing, and I sincerely mean no offence, but does it not strike you as supremely ironic that the Roman Catholic system (at least many Catholic scholars I have read) contends that the ceremonial dimension of the law alone was nullified, and yet it is precisely this excised component that they replace with their own ceremonial apparatus. And, as I said, it is uncanny, how closely this resembles the Old Covenant in its overall ethos and spirit. Endless sacrifices that really perfect no one, the necessity of following the ethical law as a gauge of ones standing in righteousness.

    You, I think, see in this validation and continuity with the Hebraic system. I see in it a failure to get the big point of the New Testament. One of us is mistaken. Just consider the possibility.

  8. Josh,

    I also hope not to sound offensive. However, let me suggest that you do not understand what the Catholic Church teaches on this subject. First, the language of nullify isn’t quite right. Also, the Church doesn’t believe that only the ceremonial are fulfilled/nullified or whichever you are asserting.

    I would challenge you to realize that your position approximates a more subtle version Marcionism.

    Please read quickly what Saint Thomas Aquinas taught about the New fulfilling the Old Law as regards the moral, ceremonial, and judicial precepts. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised:

    Summa theologiae I-II q. 107 a. 2
    http://newadvent.org/summa/2107.htm#article2

    I’m organizing a doctoral dissertation on the subject so I’m pretty excited about it. Pardon my overzealous approach. I hope that I haven’t spoken too strongly.

    In Christ,
    Taylor

  9. I think what you are missing with Anders point, which may be due to broken English, is that the Mashiach by definition is/was a Jew and that if he is/was non-Torah observant in any respect he can not be the Mashiach. But historically the man was completely Torah observant even as the Catholic doctrine and every other Xtian sect professes. But because they are correct on a few points does not make them correct on the whole. The Torah is self preserving in that it condemns anyone that turns someone away from Torah, Devarim 13:6. So as many times as one may say it to himself the NT is neither an addition nor a replacement for the Torah. It is by definition flawed as it purports to replace that which defines the will of HaSheim. The man Yehoshua ben Yoseph didn’t turn anyone away from Torah but the myth that rose out of the putrefaction of his life, Jzeus, has destroyed countless lives both passively and actively. In a nutshell if you turn to non-selective Torah observance which is the only way one can allow HaSheim to make kippur for anyone, then you will know what the real Mashiach taught.

  10. Eliyahu,

    I hate to break this to you, but you are NOT Torah observant, because you do not have access to the sacerdotal and sacrificial system instituted by Moses. Most of the Torah cannot be fulfilled by you because the Temple was destroyed in accordance with God’s will and in fulfillment of Jesus Christ’s prophecy (Mt 24:34).

    If the Torah is the most important set of religious instructions, why has God seen fit to abolish the Temple which is required for its obedience? If God wanted the Temple to stand, then it would stand i in Jerusalem. Instead, he has given us the Third Temple – the Holy Catholic Church – and the priesthood of Melchizedek – who was a priest greater than Aaron (who molded the golden calf and taught Israel to commit idolatry).

    Thus, it is 100% impossible to be “Torah-observant” according to your interpretation. The Prophet Daniel prophesied this, as well.

    Remember also that Moses, in Deuteronomy 18:15-18, said that another Prophet would come and that we should listen to Him. This is the true meaning of being “Torah observant.” We listen to the Messiah who is the Torah made flesh – the Wisdom of God in our midst.

    Catholic Christians still claim to have the daily sacrifices and tabernacle of Moses. Moreover, in Isaiah 6619-22, it is prophesied that God will take Gentiles to be His priests and Levites. We have that, too!!!!

    We actually do fulfill the Mosaic precepts as Catholic Christians – unlike “Rabbinical” Judaism and Protestantism.

    Sincerely in JESUS Christ the Proverbial Wisdom of God and the High King and Priest of the Everlasting Covenant,

    Taylor Marshall

    PS: You’re purposefully misspelling of the Messiah’s name to evoke the name of a pagan god is highly offensive. I hope that you will avoid this grave sin in the future. Moreover, if you really want to avoid Anglicization – write in Hebrew characters…not ad hoc English.

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