Coffee, the Sober Drink

The Great Mystery

The Great Mystery: How Can Three Be One? by Christian Pauli, a.k.a. Hirsch Prinz, a.k.a. Rabbi Tzvi Nassi. This was an unusual read for me, and I have a hard time deciding what I think about it. When I first picked it up, I thought it looked interesting if a bit esoteric. The title page, however, tells me that the author was a lecturer in Hebrew at Oxford University, and so adds a bit of respectability to the whole proceedings.

Let me start with the author. The title page says the book was written by Rabbi Tzvi Nassi (Hirsch Prinz). After doing what research I could, I found that the author’s Christian name was Christian Pauli. He was apparently a Jewish convert, and Hirsch Prinz was his birth name. I found no information about the name “Rabbi Tzvi Nassi.” Perhaps he was formerly a rabbi, perhaps he took the name thinking it would give him a better hearing with Jewish readers. (Not unlike a certain not so truthful evangelical leader today who took an Arabic name to seem a more authentic former-Muslim.) Whatever the case may be, I’ve found that Christian Pauli published a number of other academic works on Hebrew and Chaldee, and was a respected scholar in his field. [ADDENDUM: Here is a link that gives a short bio for Rabbi Tzvi Nassi]

Oddly enough, the book is written in the first person from the perspective of a young Jew named Nathanel who is researching the identity of God in his father's theology books. The thesis behind this particular book is that the Hebrew Scriptures as well as early Jewish teachings indicate the Triune nature of Jehovah. I find this thesis not too hard to believe, as the Old Testament clearly attests to the divinity of the Angel of the LORD. In fact, the section in the book about the Angel of the LORD, division 2, was very interesting. What was bothersome to me, however, was that though the author accused the Talmudic scholars of departing from Biblical teaching and affirmed Sola Scriptura, he then went on to use purportedly ancient Kabbalistic sources to support his points, most of which we know today to be from the Middle ages. If he had stuck thoroughly to the Old Testament itself, I would have appreciated the book more. However, I understand that he was trying to reach his Jewish audience by convincing them that the traditional teachings of Judaism are in favor of the Trinity.

Overall the most I can say about this book is that it was…interesting. There are certainly better books on the Trinity out there. Maybe if I ever get around to learning Hebrew, I’ll pick this book up again and give it another go.

Comments

Erica said…
It does sound "interesting" as you put it. Does he mention the three "angels" that visited Abraham? (Or maybe I should read the book myself...some time...in the future...)
Rick said…
It does mention Abraham's three visitors. That was in the second division. The one that I mentioned really liking.

He also had a whole chapter about the "Metatron" in Talmudic writings, which is an angelic being I've only ever encountered in Terry Pratchett's "Good Omens". hehehe...

Another thing that made it hard was that half the book was in Hebrew, which he doesn't always translate, so I had to skip paragraphs at a time and try to pick up the train of thought.
Erica said…
"Metatron" sounds too much like Megatron for my comfort....