TheMessiah Texts: Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years
by Raphael Patai

Paperback Reprint edition (January 1989) 
373 pages
Wayne State Univ Pr
ISBN: 0814318509

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From the back cover: "Following a detailed introduction to theworld of messianic ideology and its significance in Jewish history, TheMessiah Texts traces the progress of the messianic legend from its biblicalbeginnings to contemporary expressions.

"Renowned scholar Raphael Patai has skillfully selected passages from avoluminous literature spanning three millennia.  Using his own translationsfrom Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Latin, and other original texts, Patai excerptsdelightful folk tales, apocalyptic fantasies, and parables of propheticpower.  All are central to the understanding of a magnificent heritage. Patai also investigates the false messiahs who have appearedthroughout Jewish history, the modern Messiah-influenced movements such asreform Judaism and Zionism, and the numerous reasons put forth by the variousbranches of Judaism as to why the Messiah has not yet appeared.

"Raphael Patai is an internationally regarded anthropologist,Orientalist, and biblical scholar.  He has written over six hundredarticles and two dozen books..."

Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, Amazon Review: 

"This book is the most comprehensive compilation of Jewish texts aboutthe Messiah that I know of in English. When it first came out, it filled a greatneed for an intelligently-written book where both Jews and non-Jews could readthe traditional sources on what Jews believe about the Messiah. As it turns out,those sources are much richer and far more complex that you might imagine.

"Patai does not seek to present any particular doctrine as 'the truth,'nor does he seek to convert anybody to anything. He simply presents all thematerials he could find, with some academic overviews of the basic themes. Hisapproach is that of an academic folklorist, not a theologian — in fact, thebook is subtitled 'Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years.'

"The chapters cover such things as pre-existent names of the Messiah,prophecies, apocalyptic writings, birth of the Messiah, stages of the GreatRedemption, Last Judgement, Resurrection, dreams and visions of the futureworld, etc. There are sources from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, medieval texts,Hasidic teachings, and modern accounts. Plus there are literary references tothe Messiah from such writers as Elie Wiesel, Scholom Asch, Martin Buber, JacobWasserman, etc. All in all, 337 pages of prime material.

"Most interesting were the various people who have claimed (or were oncethought to be) the Jewish Messiah, ranging from Bar Kochba to Shabbetai Zevi to— get this — Theodore Herzl! Yes indeed, the founder of the Zionist movementonce dreamed that he was the Chosen One (see pp. 272-73) and apparently sawhimself as a savior of the Jewish people — albeit a secular one."

(Please read more of what Rabbi Yonassan Gershomhas to say about The Messiah Texts as well as his other interestingreviews at    

Table of Contents

1.   The Biblical Preamble
2.   Preexistence and Names of the Messiah
3.   Early Messiahs
4.   The Ancestry of the Messiah
5.   The Waiting
6.   Counting the Days
7.   Hastening the End
8.   Son of the Clouds
9.   The Bird's Nest
10. Contest in Heaven
11. The Pangs of Times
12. The Suffering Messiah
13. The Mother of the Messiah
14. Elijah the Great Forerunner
15. Gog and Magog
16. Armilus
17. Messiah ben Joseph
18. Wars and Victories
19. The Ingathering and the Return of the Shekhina
20. The Triumph of the Lord
21. Resurrection
22. The Last Judgment
23. Messianic Jerusalem
24. Miraculous Fertility
25. The Banquet
26. New Worlds and a New Tora
27. Universal Blessings
28. Messiah Dreams
29. The Modern Postlude
30. Recapitulation
Appendix I:   Prayers for the Coming of the Messiah
Appendix II:  Maimonides on the Messiah
Appendix III: A Messiah Catechism
Appendix IV: The Pope's Letter
Appendix V:  A Messianic Disputation
Appendix VI: Grimmelshausen's Account
Chronological List of Sources
Abbreviations and Annotated Bibliography


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