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A History of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Messianism

The concept of a utopian society was developed by the Bible and represented a momentous milestone in the history of civilization. This idea would evolve within Judaism into the messianic concept. But where did the messianic concept from? How did Christianity and Islam adopt the messianic idea? Why did many Christians and Muslims eventually turn against Jews to the point of hatred? Is the current redemption of the Jewish people foretold by the Torah and ancient prophets of Israel messianic or not? And if not, what is it? These are some of the questions that provided the impetus for the writing of this book.


To explore these issues, Dr. Arnold Slyper describes the stories of the individuals most influential in developing utopian and messianic concepts for the three main monotheistic faiths. He relates how these ideas were influenced by the historic period in which they lived, and how their ideas influenced Jewish and world history. These figures include Abraham, Moses, the prophets Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Haggai and Zechariah, John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, Paul of Tarsus, Muhammad, Maimonides, Nachmanides, Rav Kook, and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini.


This is not a religious work but a history book, albeit written from a Jewish perspective. As such, it discusses numerous Biblical and post-Biblical theological positions. It is a scholarly work and there are numerous footnotes in its 17 chapters. It is also extremely readable and quite riveting.


The book advances the theses that religious messianism has been and continues to be an extremely powerful force in world history and that many of the external conflicts related to Jews and Israel can only be understood by appreciation of their messianic roots. Similarly, much antisemitism, and conversely love of Jews, have messianic underpinnings.


Other topics covered are ethics, redemption, death, resurrection, jihad, End of the World, apocalypse, and the Temple Mount.

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Watch a short video about the book by clicking on the bookmark below

Purchasing options:

The book is available on Amazon as a paperback for $20 and hardback for $30 (click on this sentence) with delivery to Israel. It is also available in Israel from Pomeranz Booksellers in Jerusalem for 89 NIS (will also deliver by courier service 02 623-5559) and within Israel by Paypal from my sales page for 89 NIS with free delivery by regular mail (click on these last few words for the sales page).

Reviews of the book "The Struggle for Utopia":

"I found "The Struggle for Utopia" to be a comprehensive, fact-filled, well-organized and very readable explanation of messianic beliefs along the continuum of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As the author points out, understanding these beliefs within the three different religious contexts isn't some empty academic exercise but a fascinating, enlightening (and at times equally glorious and frightening) picture of the forces driving geopolitics and global conflict. By tracing the three messianic traditions through historical and textual sources regarding the primary individuals responsible for shaping and spreading these eschatological concepts, Dr. Slyper unpacks the complexity of one of the most powerful philosophies guiding much of the world's past, present, and future for better or for worse. Highly recommended reading."

Abigail Leichman, Associate Editor of ISRAEL21c


"This book is a must-read for anyone interested in one of the potentially most explosive issues in the world today—messianism in the Middle East. It presents the stories and views of some of the most influential figures in history: Abraham, Moses, the Biblical prophets, Jesus, the Apostles, and Muhammad among others, and charts their influences on both historical and current events.  The book is meticulously documented and contains a wealth of sources. At the same time, it is written in clear and straightforward language, and therefore is accessible to both scholars and laypeople. People of all faiths will gain a richer understanding of their own religion and, more importantly, of others' beliefs. I recommend this book to those interested in history, religion, philosophy, and –most important—the future of the world."

Rose Pack Pilzer, Senior Lecturer at the Hebrew University and professional editor.


"Erudite and well-written. This is an impressive survey that covers a great deal of material and puts diverse texts into conversation with one another."

Review on Amazon (5 stars) by Dr. Malka Z. Simkovich, Crown-Ryan Chair of Jewish Studies, Director of Catholic-Jewish Studies, Catholic Theological Union


"This book, in seventeen chapters, tells the stories of the individuals who were most involved in developing utopian and messianic concepts for the three main religions. There is much of interest in this wide-ranging book for everyone, regarding both ancient history and understanding contemporary events. It is well-organized and very readable. You will all learn much!"

Review on Amazon (5 stars) by Mitchell First, attorney, author of five books on Jewish history, liturgy and etymology and numerous articles in scholarly publications including Biblical Archaeology Review.

Full review in the Jerusalem Post Magazine on July 15, 2023, "Without fear of damnation. The messianic forces driving global conflict" by Jordana Benami. Click on this link or read below:

'The Struggle for Utopia': How messianic forces drive global conflict - review


While the book provides an equally glorious and frightening picture of the messianic forces driving geopolitics and global conflict, it’s much more than a treatise on messianism.



Published: JULY 15, 2023 16:43

“Why would anyone want to read a book about messianism? After all, the subject is abstruse and irrelevant to most people’s concerns,” Arnold Slyper asks in his prologue to The Struggle for Utopia.


“This book will attempt to show that the very opposite is true,” he continues. “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are messianic religions and their messianic goals have profoundly shaped, and continue to shape, the lives of individuals and the direction of the world we live in.”


It is fair to say that the author has achieved his goal with this comprehensive, well-organized, and highly readable explanation of the three messianic traditions, which Slyper defines as “belief that a utopian existence will be created by miraculous or nonmiraculous means under the sovereignty of God, with or without the involvement of a messianic-like figure.”


He shows how the concept of a utopian society was developed by the Torah and evolved into a messianic ideal that was later adopted and adapted by Christianity and Islam. 


How had messianism evolved throughout history?

Messianism in its various permutations was driven by personalities whom today we might call “influencers.” Among those singled out by Slyper are Abraham, Moses, several prophets, Rabbi Akiva, Maimonides, Nachmanides, the Vilna Gaon, and Rav A.Y. Kook (in Judaism); John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, and Paul of Tarsus (in Christianity); and Muhammad and Jerusalem Mufti Amin al-Husseini (in Islam).


Slyper argues cogently that much of the world’s historic and current attitude toward Jews and Israel – love us or hate us – has been affected by messianic beliefs, which he explains in depth.


The prophet Isaiah “had the most influence on the Jewish concept of messianism and, via Judaism, on that of Christianity and Islam,” writes Slyper.


“He prophesied that a time will come when the omnipotence of God will be fully revealed to all mankind, and a utopian existence will be created on earth. This period will subsequently be called the messianic age. He wrote that in this messianic age, the righteousness and justice of the Jewish people will become a light unto the nations.”


Regarding Christianity, Slyper writes that Paul “developed doctrines more appealing to the gentile world. To do this, he directed the messianism of his new religion towards a spiritual, rather than earthly World to Come and dispensed with most of the laws of Judaism.” He points out that the Book of Revelation gave rise to varying approaches to eschatology and messianism that continue to influence Christian attitudes toward Jews and Israel.


As for Muslims, Slyper writes, “Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas hold apocalyptic beliefs and regard the murder of Jews and elimination of Israel as a prelude to the Day of Judgment and World to Come. ISIS and al-Qaeda believe in creating an Islamic caliphate at the expense of global stability. Neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority is able to make an end of the conflict agreement with Israel because of its messianic beliefs.”


The last of the 17 chapters, “The Messianic Struggle for the Temple Mount,” predicts that “Muslims will never agree voluntarily to share the Temple Mount. The eschatological aims of Judaism and Islam on the Temple Mount are in total conflict with each other.”


While the book provides an equally glorious and frightening picture of the messianic forces driving geopolitics and global conflict, it’s much more than a treatise on messianism.


The Struggle for Utopia is also a thorough primer for Jews and non-Jews seeking to understand the foundational stories and core theologies underpinning Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.


For the most part, these sections serve to explicate the book’s central theme, although one chapter in particular (“The Exodus from Egypt and Canaanite Conquest – Facts or Fiction?”), while fascinating, seemed to me like an unnecessary detour.


In the course of presenting the roots of the three monotheistic faiths, Slyper examines the complicated relationship among their followers in antiquity and today and delves into messianism-related topics such as redemption, death, resurrection, jihad, apocalypse, and even Zionism. Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland was, after all, a novel about a Jewish utopia; and Rav Kook “equated Zionism allegorically with the Messiah ben Joseph.”


Kook, he notes, “believed that humanity would be redeemed through the spiritual heights the Jewish people would achieve, and through the harmony they would create in the human and cosmic planes.”


A retired physician and active hiker and history buff, Slyper is not waiting passively for this ideal to happen; he has started a Facebook forum, “Jewish, Christian and Islamic Messianism Scholarship,” with the ambitious vision of “a utopian world of peace where people of all faiths can coexist without fear of damnation in hell, conversion or annihilation.”


It’s safe to assume that we all yearn for a better future free of conflict and hatred; therefore, The Struggle for Utopia is a worthy reference to have on hand in any home or academic library. <


The Struggle for Utopia: A History of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Messianism. By Dr. Arnold Slyper Kochav Press368 pages; $30 hardback, $20 paperback. 

About the author:

Dr. Arnold Slyper was a full professor of pediatrics at a number of US medical schools with a clinical and research interest in cardiovascular disease and obesity in children. Since his retirement, he has authored a number of books, including a book on nutrition and a best-selling guide to Jerusalem. He has a long-standing interest in the history of religious ideas. “The Struggle for Utopia. A History of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Messianism” is a scholarly work with numerous footnotes in its 17 chapters, but is also extremely readable and quite riveting.

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