“The Alexandria Letter” by Dr. George R. Honig, Synergy Books (Austin, 2010).
Review by Rich VW (Jan. 26, 2011)
The Alexandria Letter offers a bold and touching view of the Jewish Jesus (the book more accurately uses traditional Jewish and Greek names) and a somewhat troubling view of Christianity; one based upon both a different perspective of the “historical Jesus” and the Church’s schism (or schizophrenia) relating to its own history. This fictional book contains several stories centered on the discovery of a 1st century manuscript (a “letter” as per the book’s title) which tells a different story of Jesus and Paul than offered in Christian scripture. Although the “Alexandria Letter” is a fictional creation, it is well supported within history and the New Testament gospels – the difference being that Jesus is treated as a devout Jewish follower of John (the Baptist) and Paul is viewed from a Jewish perspective.
Although this book could avoid typical reproaches from the Christian community if it were not written by a Jewish author, it is likely that only a Jewish author who understands the kind of devotion shown by Jesus could offer the depth of insight offered by Dr. Honig. Christians who deny reason and fact will find this book challenging - as they should since it is filled with both. The fact is that Jesus was wrong about God’s Kingdom arriving before his generation would pass and that Paul was wrong in teaching that Jesus sought to overturn Jewish law. Reason dictates that the Jews are best able to interpret their own scripture and that those who destroy documents which oppose their views have something to hide.
While keeping us focused on the main theme, Dr. Honig also develops two other stories of interest: a scholarly romance which offers several worthy messages and speculative drama regarding the Vatican and the battle between its subversive elements and its “true Christians” (my concept of those who actually follow the teachings proffered in the Gospels). Unfortunately, it is my belief that this second side-story detracts from the whole.
Even if based upon a historical reality and even if somewhat justified by a history of Christian “Jew-bashing”, the anti-Christian undertone lies in contradiction to the beauty of the Alexandria Letter itself and its message of loving kindness. Lacking a statement of the author’s intent (there is no Preface or introduction), it will be too easy for Christians to misread this “provocative” and “unquestionably controversial” (Back Cover comments by Dr. Homer U. Ashby, Jr.) book as provocation. I hope that they will take the time to read “Judaism and Christianity” at the books website before making such a judgment.
The book is a pleasant and easy read with plenty to offer. It reflects a great deal of research which is poorly noted (other than a listing of “Primary Sources” at the end). Most importantly, it helps usher in a more accurate and meaningful perspective of the best known Jew in history.
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