With a New Foreword by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
by Gerald Heard
A Wipf & Stock Publishers reissue is now available.
The Gospel According to Gamaliel is Gerald Heard's fictional retelling of the story of Jesus as seen through the eyes of Gamaliel. Heard writes, "Gamaliel is known to history. His grandfather was the great Hillel, who not only became president of the Sanhedrin, but who also by his deep learning, piety, humility, and passionate love of peace, brought the thought of Judaism into that form which has made it able to survive as a lofty ethic until the present. The favorite maxim of Hillel's group was the Golden Rule. His teaching [stressed] humility, love, patience, that the meek inherit the earth, that gentle righteousness and unwearied forgiveness is the one sacrifice for sin that God requires, that man is forgiven and sanctified by that relationship alone, that all mankind is God's child and men are all brethren. So Gamaliel... was the chief link in that chain which made Judaism a world religion. This narrative sketch is, then, an attempt to see what the dawn of Christianity looked like through the eyes of one who was of great scholarship, of great tolerance, of great loyalty to the Law, and of great love for mankind.
There is another pressing and topical reason why one brought up as a Christian should attempt to view through the eyes of a Hebrew that channel through which the Eternal Gospel has come to Western man. The differences and tensions between Gentiles and Jews have not lessened in the last two thousand years. Today they are not merely one of the disgraces of our common culture; they are not the least of its perils. One of the causes of that conflict is the different construction put by Christian and Jew on the life of Joshua bar Joseph of Nazareth. Anything which will help Gentiles to understand how much their Christ owed to the Judaism of his day; anything which will help Jews to regard Joshua as great with all the greatness of their beloved prophets, may do something, however slight, to help rid our civilization of one of its worst blots. And, should such a mutual understanding be achieved, it might well do more for the world's peace than any number of pacts.
A duty lies, therefore, on any writer to attempt, in whatever manner he may, to popularize this 'peaceful good news to all men of good will.' Thus some small contribution may be made toward the spread of that charity, which was never taught with greater beauty than by the last of the Hebrew prophets whose voice has spoken to more hearts than any of his inspired race.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi — From his Foreword
to the 2009 edition (read excerpts)
The book in which [Gerald Heard] astonished me to the core was his The Gospel According to Gamaliel. Heard widens our perspective to see the larger landscape of those turbulent days during which the drama of the life and death of Jesus and the apostleships of Paul and Peter took place. It is meet and just that this book be made available again.
Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr
An imaginative reconstruction of the life of Christ... really quite rewarding. His reconstruction of many familiar gospel scenes... is accomplished with artistic skill and restraint. Heard... imparts a new vividness to the issues at stake in the life and teaching of Jesus, by looking at them from a new and sharply defined perspective.
The New York Times
In his latest book, convincingly written, Mr. Heard has made a bold attempt to assign a narrative of Jesus to the lips of the Jewish Gamaliel, grandson of Hillel and president of the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem.
A profoundly moving and quickening book. There is freshness and insight in his novel treatment of some familiar Gospel incidents. Reading it is both an intellectual pleasure and a spiritual uplift.
Edna M. Baxter
The Gospel According to Gamaliel attempts to give insight into the life of Jesus through the eyes of the teacher of Paul.
The Times Literary Supplement
Mr. Heard writes with force and conviction and his story is ingenious as well as vivid.
Excerpts from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi's Foreword to the 2009 edition of The Gospel According to Gamaliel
There are some pivotal encounters in our lives, and for me one of these was meeting Gerald Heard. It isn’t easy to estimate the impact of his person and thought when it has become so pervasive in the system files of my thought processor. My work in Spiritual Eldering that became expressed in my book From Age-ing To Sage-ing is based on Gerald’s The Five Ages of Man, where he can be seen as the savant, the repository of the most encompassing cosmology of his generation.
But the book in which he astonished me to the core was his The Gospel According to Gamaliel. In view of the spate of Gospel material published lately it is meet and just that this book be made available again. It takes the genius of Gerald Heard to get into the mind of Gamaliel, to demonstrate how even in the life of Jesus there occurred a turn from the all accepting and embracing Savior, to the now polarized and attacked Jesus and the harshness that he at times expressed when cornered. Heard places himself in the mind of the wise and sage Gamaliel and gives us much understanding about how these polarizing tensions began, grew, and increased. [He] widens our perspective to see the larger landscape of those turbulent days during which the drama of the life and death of Jesus and the apostleships of Paul and Peter took place. So enter the mind of Gerald Heard and see through his eyes looking through the eyes of Gamaliel the story that was pivotal in the history of humanity.
Note: These are excerpts from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi's nearly 1,800-word foreword to The Gospel According to Gamaliel. In his entire foreword, Rabbi masterfully explores the fascinating convergence of several wide-ranging factors that occurred at the time of Jesus. To read the entire foreword, purchase your copy of The Gospel According to Gamaliel at the sites listed above.
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Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is founder of the Jewish Renewal and Spiritual Eldering movements, a pioneer in ecumenical relations, and a participant in world-wide interfaith dialogue. He has taught at the University of Manitoba, Temple University, and Naropa University. Reb Zalman, as he is widely known, has been an influential spiritual teacher for four decades. He has written or co-written several groundbreaking books, including From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older, and Jewish With Feeling: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice. Visit The Reb Zalman Legacy Project.
Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.
Endorsements for the 2008 Wipf and Stock Series of Reissues
Professor Huston Smith, Noted Authority on the World’s Religions
There was a period in my early thirties when these four small books by Gerald Heard served almost as my bible. I read and reread them, and invariably found them to be uplifting and inspiring.
William H. Forthman, Ph.D., Retired Professor of Philosophy
Gerald Heard was an inspiring voice for the life of the spirit. Wipf and Stock is to be commended that Heard's remarkable work is being made available to a new generation of spiritual seekers.
Dr. (Hon.) Rhea A. White, Founder & Director of The Exceptional Human Experience Network
Gerald Heard has been a continuous inspiration in my life since the 1950s. His books are modern spiritual classics that will encourage many aspirants on the spiritual path.