I’ve been looking through old files on my computer, and found these notes on a book I read a few years ago. It came highly recommended and, as Gileadi touts on his books and web sites, he’s been glowingly endorsed by some very respectable people. I remember sitting in a sealing room of the temple several years ago, waiting for some work to start, and the sealer telling those of us who were there some of his thoughts, including that more Latter-day Saints don’t live by the writings of Hugh Nibley and Avraham Gileadi because we aren’t spiritual enough.
So I started the book with high hopes, and I did find Gileadi to be a talented author who sincerely encourages devotional living. However, I ultimately found his primary thesis to be unfounded and disturbing–he seems to find Isaiah to be almost entirely a testament of a latter-day temporal savior who is not Jesus Christ. In the first chapter or two, I wondered if he was making an inappropriately worshipful homage to Joseph Smith, but I quickly realized that Gileadi’s vision was not congruent with anything remotely mainstream.
Whenever I hear people praise Gileadi, they gush about his Hebrew scholarship and literary discoveries, but I found zero evidence of that in the book. Maybe his other books are more detailed, but the few hints he gives in Isaiah Decoded, including his supposed patterns in Isaiah, clearly seem like a random, arbitrary jumble–there’s no reason or order to it at all.
A fan of Gileadi’s might counter that since he was rebaptized into the Church, he’s operated openly and without opposition from the Church, but I suspect that reflects the Church’s tolerance and focusing on more important things than on Gileadi’s orthodoxy. If I’ve misinterpreted his work, or failed to see the faithful grounding of it, I’m happy to change my mind, but as I’ve read it, this book was ultimately heretical. My notes are below. The four comments in bold reflect my strongest problems with the text.
- Why would Isaiah prophesy more about a temporal servant than about Jesus himself?
- Why doesn’t Gileadi bother to more clearly explain and document the evidence behind his interpretations?
- Why doesn’t Gileadi deal with doctrinal statements that refute him, including those from the Savior himself?
- If there is an important temporal savior / servant coming, why hasn’t it been clearly revealed through the Church?
- If the Church’s origin and doctrine are true, as Gileadi seems to agree, why is he so brazen in condemning its present and future?
- Why doesn’t Gileadi bear a stronger testimony of Jesus Christ than he does of this “servant”?
- How does Gileadi know that types will play out in the end times as he describes? It’s a tempting assumption, but not necessarily accurate. No evidence, research, sources, etc. are given.
- Pages 30b-31a Aren’t these scriptures about a latter-day shepherd about the Savior?
- 35 Good reference to Hezekiah (Is. 38)
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