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THE STRUGGLE FOR UTOPIA
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 exactly 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 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 per se 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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Reviews on 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.
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 wiith numerous footnotes in its 17 chapters, but is also extremely readable and quite riveting.