MembersThe Other Consequential Messianic Movement in Jewish History

A look at the Messianic movement centered on Shabtai Zvi, from 1665-1666 and beyond

By Solomon Kirsch | | Topics: Jewish Messianism
Photo: Abir Sultan/Flash90

By understanding the concept of messianism in Jewish history and texts, we can come to a deeper understanding of what is original in the New Testament description of the Messiah, and perhaps gain a better understanding of the influence the New Testament has on the Jewish concept of Messiah.

There are only two cases in Jewish history of a consequential messianic movement including a concrete apocalyptic worldview, an actual messianic figure at the head of the movement believed to be the messiah, a significant following, and an abundance of literature and interpretive application of prophecy and canonic scripture. The first was that of Jesus of Nazareth in early Christianity in the New Testament.

The second occurred suddenly, only in 1665, following Shabtai Zvi (often spelled Sabbatai Zevi), a movement that rocked the Jewish world with paranormal outbreaks, creative theological writings, including bizarre rituals, antinomian concepts, and kabbalistic mystical ideas.

In Judaism, Christianity, and later Sabbateanism, presented false messiahs. As a result, attitudes toward messianic expectations built into...

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