May 22, 2014
Review of The Return of the Kosher Pig
Reading The Return of the Kosher Pig will leave some feeling a bit like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Strange names, unfamiliar terms, an unconventional hermeneutic, and a challenging train of argumentation could prove to be a challenge. But if the reader is willing to enter into the world of this book, he or she will find truths worth considering.
The author states that this book is the result of his quest to discover the Jewish Messiah. The title is derived from a quote from the Rabbi Menachem Schneerson that, “In the Messianic Era, when the true divine nature of every creature will be openly revealed, the pig will stand vindicated as a kosher animal.” The author, Rabbi Itzhack Shapira, ties this idea in with the widely held view within Judaism that Jesus of Nazareth like a pig, is unclean. Shapira, does not intend this to be a derogatory connection. Indeed, his book is a sustained attempt to prove the idea of a divine Messiah and that Jesus is that Messiah, all from a Jewish perspective. Shapira’s argument is divided into five parts: (1) Framework—Defining the Historical and Theological Background of the Case of the Kosher Pig, (2) Identification—Understanding the Case of the Case of the Kosher Pig Within a Traditional Jewish Framework, (3) Evidence—Examining the Primary Evidence in the Case of the Divine Kosher Pig, Yeshua of Natzeret, (4) Exploration—Weighing the Secondary Evidence in the Case of the Kosher Pig, and (5) Reconciliation—Proposal for Reconciliation between the Kosher Pig(and His followers) and Traditional Judaism. The book also includes a glossary of over 300 terms (and most readers will need it), a directory of all major rabbinical works on the issue of Messiah in the last 2,000 years, an index of all references from the Torah, Prophets, Writings, New Testament, and the Talmud, and a fairly extensive bibliography.
By way of evaluation, I cannot but commend Rabbi Shapira for his desire and effort. Whether one is persuaded or not, he has presented a comprehensive case and amassed much evidence to support it. This book is not for the casual reader. It will require sustained effort. The author does try to define his terms an explain his concepts, but I did not always find these definitions or explanations to be sufficient. Shapira provides helpful summaries on pages 107, 137, 165, 192, 226, 263. It might be helpful to start with these summaries so that one would get a clearer idea of where the argument is going and what the main points are. The difficulties aside, I wish that there was more consistency in the Hebrew fonts that are used and a bit more consistency in the use of pointed and unpointed texts.
I see The Return of the Kosher Pig as having a fairly limited readership. But if one is interested in looking at a case for Jesus as a divine Messiah from a Jewish perspective, then this book may be for you.
Thanks to Lederer Press for providing the free review copy used in this review.