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Messiah: An Introduction to a Complicated Topic

From the Biblical Period through the Early Rabbinic Period

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The concept of the Messiah is one of the most fascinating aspects of Jewish theology, but also one of the most confusing.

Historically, the idea of the Messiah, is based on idea of Israel's restoration. As a result of King Cyrus’ edict, the sons and grandsons of the Judahite exiles returned to the land of their fathers.[1] Their descendants were reinforced a generation later by the arrival of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Despite the significant progress that was made in the reestablishment of the Temple, the biblical prophets active during this period gave people a sense that there was still unfinished business. God had indeed returned the captivity of Zion, but the restoration of Israel was incomplete. Judah remained a Persian province.

The idea that this incomplete redemption would eventually be resolved initiated a discussion regarding the mechanism that would bring that about. The Messiah or Messiahs, as we will soon learn, was determined to be the vehicle for a future and final restoration.

The Second Temple era began in 515 B.C.E. and ended in 70 C.E. The period that followed through the end of the Second Century C.E. was very much tied to the aftermath of the destruction of the Second Temple. This era witnessed the rise of Christianity and the early ascent of rabbinic Judaism.


This study focuses on these two critical periods of Jewish history and the messianic expectations that characterized them. The goal is to provide a historical overview of texts without the polemical bias often found in other courses available.


[1] 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1-4.


Your Instructor


Rabbi Dr. Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez
Rabbi Dr. Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez

Rabbi Dr. Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas where he earned a bachelor of science in electrical engineering. He studied at the Siegal College of Judaic Studies in Cleveland and received a Master of Arts Degree in Judaic Studies. He completed his doctoral studies at the Spertus Institute in Chicago in 2015. He studied at the American Seminary for Contemporary Judaism and received rabbinic ordination in 2011 from Yeshiva Mesilat Yesharim.

Rabbi Dr. Bejarano Gutierrez was a board member of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies from 2011-2013. He has published various articles in HaLapid, The Journal for Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto-Jews, and Apuntes-Theological Reflections from a Hispanic-Latino Context, y es el autor de What is Kosher?and What is Jewish Prayer?, Who is a Jew?, Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism, Against the Greeks, He is currently the director of the B’nai Anusim Center for Education at CryptoJewishEducation.com.


Course Curriculum


  Messiah: An Introduction to a Complicated Topic
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  Messiah: Biblical Texts
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  The World of the Second Temple
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  A Messiah or Messiah?
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  The Messiah in Jewish Writings
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  The Dead Sea Scrolls
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  The Mishnah
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  The Targumim
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  Philo and Josephus
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  Resources
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