What others say
“E J Westerman’s book sets the standard for a new genre of theological literature – a post-supersessionist biblical theology which re-casts the biblical metanarrative along the lines of R K Soulen’s “The God of Israel and Christian Theology”. – Dr. Richard Harvey
Learning Messiah is the title of the translation into English of de Messias leren. The process of translating and editing, that started in Spring 2016, has been finished summer 2018. The book has been published by Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, Oregon on the 27th of September 2018.
Starting with the endorsements of the book (related to the English edition) that have been written between 2016-2018, we will present here reviews and reactions. The most recent contributions you will find at the top of this page.
For the reception of the book in the Netherlands visit the Dutch website.
Recent blurbs and reviews
Learning Messiah … [a] … ground-breaking book …
In From the Editor of Kesher, A Journal of Messianic Judaism, Issue 38 Winter/Spring 2021 the editor Russ Resnik writes “Learning Messiah—Israel and the Nations: Learning to Read God’s Way Anew … proposes a new, Israel-centered way of reading Scripture, with profound ramifications for biblical hermeneutics … Our book-review section includes this ground-breaking book.”
Also see the blog of 18th of March 2021 on this website.
Jennifer M. Rosner, Affiliate Assistent Professor of Systematic Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote a review article for Pro Ecclesia about both Learning Messiah and the latest book by Mark Kinzer, Jerusalem Crucified, Jerusalem Risen.
Her last evaluative paragraphs say:
The work of Kinzer and Westerman highlights the fact that the church’s task in rethinking its theological mainstays is formidable. As Soulen explains, “just as a flaw in the heart of a crystal distorts all of the light that passes through it, the logic of supersessionism has tended to distort the doctrinal patterns of Christian thought in ways that have hindered areas of Christian discipleship far beyond the church’s posture toward Israel.” 
What is needed is not merely a Christian rethinking of its doctrine of Israel, but rather a thoroughgoing reassessment of all of Christian theology in light of God’s enduring covenant with Israel. Kinzer is among the major players pointing the way forward in this sweeping endeavor, and Westerman has shown himself to be an important voice in this regard. Both thinkers offer not only significant elements of a thorough recasting of Christian theology in non-supersessionist terms, but also a much-needed assessment of the implications of such a recasting. Hopefully their work is merely the first fruits of a new theological era.
 R. Kendall Soulen, The God of Israel and Christian Theology, 18.
The review article can be found here. The website of Jen Rosner shows more of her work. The website of Mark Kinzer provides much information about his work and books.
If readers have problems accessing the article they are invited to contact me through the contact form.
It puts forth a challenge to supersessionism that requires a response.
“I applaud this book for providing a comprehensive overview of the biblical narrative. It contains a wealth of information. It seeks to address a very recent and relevant debate regarding the merits of supersessionism and replacement theology. It challenges those who hold to supersessionism to rethink and reconsider its importance.
[… ] I recommend reading it (critically) for its rich, substantial and heart-felt content on a topic of increasing critical-theological importance for all evangelicals, regardless of one’s hermeneutical or theological camp. It puts forth a challenge to supersessionism that requires a response.”
Prof. Dr. W. Creighton Marlowe, Leuven, Belgium, in the October 2019 issue of the European Journal of Theology.
Download a scan of the review or a printer-friendly version of it.
The first thoroughly Israel-centered systematic biblical theology … in this new century
“Learning Messiah is the first thoroughly Israel-centered systematic biblical theology by a gentile in this new century. Written by a Dutch pastor who has been mulling over the Israel-centeredness of the Bible for more than forty years, it will reward every reader with deeper insight into the biblical notion that Israel was—and always will be—the center of God’s creation. Strengthened by reflection on rabbinic thinking, Westerman shows how Israel is key to the future restoration of the nations.”
Prof. Dr. Gerald R. McDermott – June 2019
Prof. Dr. Gerald R. McDermott is the Anglican Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, AL, USA. He edited The New Christian Zionism. Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2016.
Endorsements based on the English text of Learning Messiah
“E J Westerman’s book sets the standard for a new genre of theological literature – a post-supersessionist biblical theology which re-casts the biblical metanarrative along the lines of R K Soulen’s “The God of Israel and Christian Theology”. His proposals will not be accepted by all, as they challenge a deep-rooted and prevailing paradigm. But anyone interested in a renewed biblical understanding of God’s ongoing purposes through Jesus the Messiah with both Israel and the Church and all nations, and a detailed exposition of the whole of Scripture in support of such an understanding, will take serious note of this exciting and radical approach.”
Dr. Richard Harvey
(Dr. Richard Harvey is the author of Mapping Messianic Jewish Theology. A Constructive Approach (2009). He is also a participant in the yearly informal dialogue between the Roman-Catholic Church and leaders of the Messianic Jewish movement.)
A much fuller detailed picture …
“E. J. Westerman has written a very important book that revolutionizes our understanding of both Israel and the Church. In the case of the latter, a more deeply rooted Biblical identity of the Church arises on the basis of a new canonical approach to Biblical theology. This new canonical approach restores the ongoing meaning of Israel to God’s purpose in creation and consummation and hence the unity of purpose for Israel and the Church.”
“I think it is a very good extension of the recent call for a canonical narrative that places Israel in its rightful place. Soulen gave us an outline of this, but you now provide us with a much fuller detailed picture, with the place of Messianic Jews and also with the centrality of Yeshua. I think it is an important book …”
Dr. Daniel Juster
(Dr. Daniel Juster authored many books and is director of Tikkun Ministries International.He is also a participant in the yearly informal dialogue between the Roman-Catholic Church and leaders of the Messianic Jewish movement.)
A wonderful theological treatise: accessible, insightful, detailed, engaging, and often profound
“Learning Messiah by Edjan Westerman is a full scale biblical theology that is passionately Christian and passionately “post-supersessionist” in equal measure. As the author of an older work that attempted much the same thing (The God of Israel and Christian Theology [Fortress, 1996]), I can say with confidence that still 20 years later very few such works exist in any language. Learning Messiah has already been published in Dutch, and I believe it would be a welcome addition to English-language post-supersessionist theology. I have spent several hours reviewing the English translation, and the contents of the book have impressed me as accessible, engaging, detailed, and often profound. It is a text that could be read by lay, clergy, and divinity students.”
“It is a wonderful theological treatise: accessible, insightful, detailed, engaging, and often profound.”
Prof. Dr. R. Kendall Soulen
(Professor of Systematic Theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta GA, USA. Prof. dr. R. Kendall Soulen authored the important The God of Israel and Christian Theology, Minneapolis: 1996 and other books).
Much new light …
“Ever since the Holocaust Christian theologians have reexamined previous Christian thinking about Israel. Most have rejected one aspect of supersessionism, that which posited an end to God’s covenant with the Jewish people. Now theologians are wrestling with Israel as a body politic, and its role in God’s story of the peoples of his creation. EJ Westerman provides us with a retelling of the biblical story in which Israel and her messiah are at the center. This retelling sheds much new light on not only the Bible but the meaning of Israel and the nations. This is an important and helpful book for Christian theology, the Church, and Israel today.”
Prof. Dr. Gerald R. McDermott
(Anglican Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School/Samford University. Author of Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the land, Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2017; editor of The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel & the Land, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2016).
Impressive and ambitious re-reading of the bible as a whole …
“This new volume by Edjan Westerman is an impressive and ambitious re-reading of the bible as a whole, with the aim of articulating its coherent narrative in a way that does justice to the enduring significance of the Jewish people and to the unique salvific role of Jesus. While demonstrating knowledge of scholarly currents, Westerman presents his material in a popular and accessible fashion. If this volume gained a hearing, it would stimulate a more nuanced ground-level discussion of supersessionism and the bible.”
Dr. Mark S. Kinzer
(President Emeritus of the Messianic Jewish Theological Institute; he also partakes in the yearly informal dialogue between the RC-Church and [theological] leaders of the Messianic Jewish Movement. He authored Post Missionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People, Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2005; Israel’s Messiah and the People of God: A Vision for Messianic Jewish Covenant Fidelity. Edited by Jennifer M. Rosner. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade, 2011, and Searching Her Own Mystery: Nostra Aetate, the Jewish People, and the Identity of the Church, Eugene, Oregon: Cascade, 2015).
Lucid, comprehensive and compelling …
“Westerman offers a lucid, comprehensive and compelling treatment of Israel’s indelible role in God’s unfolding plan of blessing and redemption for the whole world. Written with a conscious eye to the dark shadow cast by the Holocaust (and the preceding centuries of erroneous Christian Israelology), Westerman’s work contributes an important voice to the growing body of Christian scholarship reassessing Israel’s significance in salvation history and her ongoing, unbreakable covenant with God.”
Dr. Jennifer M. Rosner
(Affiliate Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California; author of Healing the Schism: Barth, Rosenzweig, and the New Jewish-Christian Encounter, Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015; editor of Mark S. Kinzer, Israel’s Messiah and the People of God: A Vision for Messianic Jewish Covenant Fidelity, Eugene, Oregon: Cascade, 2011).
An important book … opens the door to a vivid discussion about a myriad of questions
“ ‘Learning Messiah’ is an important book. Edjan Westerman reads the Bible as a ‘co-reader’ with deep respect for Israel, the first reader. Starting from the belief that we received the Tenach and the New Testament from the beloved and elected people of the Israel’s God, he overviews and corrects the common Christian Biblical theology with his ‘own’ integral canonical approach. The result is a radical post-supersessionist theology in which the Christians from the gentiles never overcome their second position.
It is a passionated book with a continuous repeated message: ‘without Israel the church is not grown up and obedient to God’s calling’. His ongoing emphasis on the ‘Jew-oriented’ reading of the Bible and the necessary paradigm change, stimulates and invites us to reconsider our traditional Christian views.
Westerman is standing in the Reformed Dutch afterwar theological school of post-supersessionists and radicalizes this to a kind of Israel-centrism. ‘Learning Messiah’ opens the door to a vivid discussion about a myriad of questions as the ‘fulfillment in Christ’, the Christology, the missiological implications, the ‘contextualization of the Gospel’, the view to the state of Israel, the Jewish feasts (and Sabbath), etc.
He wrote this book for the ‘common’, interested reader and invites them to react and to take a position. If we receive the Bible in modesty and in acceptance of the priority of God to Israel – what does this mean for our faith and our relation to the people of the Messiah?”
Rev. Dr. Bas Plaisier
(Rev. Dr. Bas Plaisier, during ten year a missionary in Indonesia and China, 10 years as pastor of a City Church in The Hague; from 1997 – 2008 the General Secretary of the Netherlands Reformed Church and the Protestant Church in the Netherlands; from 2010 – 2017 Vice President of the World Communion of Reformed Churches).
This fascinating and revealing study is nothing less than a hermeneutical eye operation.
“This fascinating and revealing study is nothing less than a hermeneutical eye operation. It unveils the beauty of God’s lasting covenant with Israel including the new covenant of the Messiah.
The Christian church has failed to recognize God’s faithfulness in the everlasting covenant with Israel, his people. She often saw the new covenant in Christ as a fulfilment and replacement of the old one. By this she prepared the way for anti-Semitism and still does. Edjan Westerman helps to read Scriptures in a new way. He discerns the great work of the living God, making for Himself a holy dwelling place among his people, calling a royal priesthood and a prophetic nation for the blessing of the whole earth. This calling of Israel received its full realization in the Messiah, who is first of all the Messiah of Israel. The Christian (gentile) church may participate in that calling.
Reading with new eyes yields a twofold fruit: the joy of a new understanding of God’s way in this world, and tears of shame. Because we need to repent from using our traditional reading glasses that caused so much separation between the church and the people of God’s original covenant.”
Rev. Ir. Niek M. Tramper
(Rev. Ir. Niek M. Tramper is pastor of the Protestant Church of the Netherlands with a special commission for the International Christian Fellowship in Delft. Former coordinator for Europe and Middle East of the Reformed Missionary League. Former General Secretary of the European Evangelical Alliance. He was chairman of the board of the Centre of Israelstudies [CIS, Ede, the Netherlands] for ten years.)
The book has helped me tremendously … A must-read for every follower of Jesus the Messiah
“The book [de Messias leren] written by Edjan Westerman has helped me tremendously to deeply understand the great plan of salvation of God in the ongoing story of God’s way with the people of Israel and the nations. It asks for the Bible to be (re)read anew through a Jewish-Christian spectacle. It has once again convinced me of God’s great faithfulness, which He has proved and will prove to Israel and thereby also to those who want to go the way of Messiah Jesus. Recommended! A must-read for every follower of Jesus the Messiah.”
Jaap van de Poll, executive pastor VEZ Zwolle, chairman of the board of MissieNederland
Learning Messiah is above all Biblical Theology
“When reading Learning Messiah I have discovered fully new depths in Holy Scripture, utterly central aspects from the Bible brought to light by Edjan Westerman.”
Kees Slijkerman, chief editor Bouwen aan de Nieuwe Aarde, magazine of the Roman-Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Netherlands wrote a review.
A conscientious and thorough study of Israel’s role in redemptive history
“This is a conscientious and thorough study of Israel’s role in redemptive history. Though not being a fundamentalist myself, I became intrigued by the systematic patterns Edjan Westerman discovered through careful study of the texts. It gave me new insights in the continuing role of Israel and the relation between Israel and the Christians from the nations. This book certainly deserves a broad readership.”
Prof. dr. Dineke Houtman
(Prof. dr. A. Houtman, Professor of Jewish Studies/Jewish-Christian relations (Protestant Theological University, Amsterdam) read the manuscript during its genesis.)
Earlier (2015-2016) endorsements:
“I am eagerly anticipating the publication of E. Westerman’s book de Messias leren (proposed English translation: Learning Messiah) by Boekencentrum, scheduled to appear in September 2015. I believe that this book provides a fresh and challenging new approach to the place of Israel in redemptive history. Proceeding from a post-supersessionist perspective, Westerman seeks to narrate the central message of the Tanach in such a way that the history of Israel as the people of God connects naturally to the coming of the Messiah and the foundation of the Church. While at this point only a summary has been made available to me, I am confident that an English translation and publication of this work will be a significant stimulus for meaningful theological engagement in this rapidly developing area of study.”
Rev. Dr. William T. Koopmans
(Hope Christian Reformed Church, Brantford ON, Canada. Rev. Koopmans is a Dutch reading OT-scholar and served twice as the president of the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church of Canada. He has also served as the chair of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee of the CRC. Until July 2017 he was a member of the Executive Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches).
As I have never read before …
“This “book is a Biblical Theology as I have never read before. … It is a systematic theological study of the Bible starting from the conviction that … (God’s) choice of Israel is still valid and is not in variance with the coming of the Messiah. …
Westerman shows that he can read the texts in a new manner from the perspective of a new canonical narrative. … The book provides a good starting point to rethink the position of the nations in relation to Israel. …”
Mgr. dr. Ron van den Hout
(Roman-Catholic bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden, the Netherlands).