When a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is not the first time; it is a homecoming. – Elie Wiesel
David and Martha Stern came home to Israel in 1979, in David’s words, as “part of the great ingathering promised by God for which Jews have prayed three times daily for 2,000 years.”
Even before they arrived, David had begun working on what he humbly refers to as his “Messianic Jewish writing projects.” The fruits of those projects, listed below, are now recognized as landmark works of Messianic Jewish faith and testify to the Sterns’ insight, courage and profound service to the worldwide Messianic Jewish community. David’s descriptions follow the titles within quotes:
- Messianic Jewish Manifesto, a systematic view of the “history, ideology, theology and program of Messianic Judaism.”
- Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel: A Message for Christians, “an abridgment [of the Manifesto] for Christians who have not seriously considered the Jewishness of their faith.”
- The Jewish New Testament, an original translation into English of the New Testament “in a way that expresses its Jewishness.”
- The Jewish New Testament Commentary, “which deals, verse-by-verse, with the Jewish issues raised in the New Testament.”
- Complete Jewish Bible, “which combines in a single volume the Jewish New Testament with [Stern’s] modernized version of an existing Jewish translation of the Tanakh.”
- Messianic Judaism: A Modern Movement With An Ancient Past
- How Jewish Is Christianity? (with others)
Of these, perhaps the most impactful and important is the Complete Jewish Bible.
“My first purpose,” Stern writes in the Bible’s introduction, “is to restore the unified Jewishness of the Bible, and, particularly, to show that the books of the New Covenant are Jewish through and through.”
By any reasonable measure, Stern has eloquently accomplished that purpose – it is impossible to measure his unique translation’s impact on the understanding and growth of Messianic Judaism. According to an article by Sarah Posner in The Atlantic, there were an estimated 350,000 Messianic Jewish believers worldwide in 2012, including “a tiny minority in Israel,” between 10 to 20,000, but that number continues to increase, “according to both its proponents and critics.”
Stern remains one of Messianic Judaism’s foremost representatives and spokesmen. From his article, “Coming to Messianic Jewish Faith” in Ben Hoekendijk’s book, Twelve Jews Discover Messiah, published in 1998, he addressed one of the major obstacles to understanding Messianic Judaism.