Hearty Heresy

Heretic of the Month
July 9, 2007, 1:46 am
Filed under: Faith, Heresy, Judaism, Religion

No, it’s not a new feature of this blog. It’s “a new series” in the magazine American Jewish Life “detailing those famous Jews who broke with the faith.” You’ve probably noticed that my view of heresy tends to be from a Christian perspective. In fact, I’ve heard it said that heresy really is a Christian concept, and that other faiths are much more tolerant of heterodox views. The “Heretic of the Month” series in AJL has a different take on herersy. Jay Michaelson (who writes the series) says that “Jews…have a uniquely love/hate relationship with their heretical brothers and sisters.” And even though theirs “is not a top-down theological tradition, with an omniscient earthly leader telling us what scripture says,” it seems that there are some Jews who still merit the tag “heretic.”

Michaelson started the series with the January/February 2007 issue of AJL, and he chose for his inaugural heretic Shabbetai Tzvi (below), who’s little known today (even among Jews), but may well be the biggest Jewish heretic of all time. He claimed to be the Messiah, retained a number of adherents even after he converted to Islam, and seems to still have followers to this day. Not bad for “an idiosyncratic, possibly bipolar mystic.” I’ll say a word or two about the other heretics Michaelson’s covered so far in upcoming posts. And I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the series in the future. Maybe a “Heretic of the Month” for this blog isn’t so bad of an idea after all….

Shabbetai Tzvi


4 Comments so far
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Thanks for the interfaith/heretic viewpoint.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

I believe boat rockers of all faiths need to get over their petty differences and bring about a new era of heretical ecuminism.

Comment by heartyheretic

Such a coincidence, I’ve just finished reading a book by Amin Malouf called Balthasar’s Odyssey set in the time of Shabbatei Tzvi, who features prominently in the book.
The book is fiction, but the historical detail seems very accurate, and I’ve been meaning to find out whether Shabbatei was real. And now I know!

Comment by Tess

I just read a little something about him recently, too, which piqued my interest in him. Glad this post (and AJL) helped confirm Shabbatei’s historicity for you!

Comment by heartyheretic

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