I am reading an interesting book entitled Zeal for Zion:  Christians, Jews & the Idea of the Promised Land by Shalom Goldman.  The book in a little over 300 pages discusses six different historical examples of relationships between Jews and Christians related to Israel and its land.  Its emphasis is on “Two Zionisms,” the Jewish version and the Christian version and how they have interacted beginning in the middle to late 1880s and on till today.  There is the expected chapter on recent relationships involving evangelicals like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee as well as the almost required chapter on Theodor Herzl and his Christian associates.  However, a couple of unexpected discoveries emerged that I was not aware of in the history of Zionism.  One was Herbert Danby, the Anglican who translated the Misnah into English starting in 1914 with his Masters work at Oxford.  I have used Danby’s translation numerous times and it still seems to be a standard in the field. 

The second unexpected historical discovery was the connection between Edward Irving and the Irvingites to Naphtali Herz Imber who published the words to Hatikvah (“Our Hope” or “The Hope”) in 1886.  This poem set to music became the official national anthem of Israel in 2004 although it had been the unofficial theme song of the nation long before that time.  What I find interesting is that Imber gives credit to the Zionist hopes of Laurence Oliphant, a Christian Zionist whose  father Anthony Oliphant was an Irvingite following the teaching of Edward Irving.  Anthony was present at some of the Albury Conferences sponsored by Irving from 1826 to 1830 in England.  While Anthony seemed more deeply committed than Laurence, the latter (the son) apparently never gave up his millennialist leanings which he inherited from his father.  Laurence became instrumental in promoting the idea of a Palestinian homeland for the Jews.

Another thought that arose in my mind as I read the section on Oliphant and Imber was that the song “Our Hope” was the name of the monthly publication put out by Arno C. Gaebelein, associated editor of the Scofield Reference Bible, for over 50 years (1894-1945).  I have named my blog by this magazine in light of my dissertation work on Gaebelein many years ago.  I wonder if Gaebelein was aware of this new Jewish poem/song which came out in the 1880s?  Most likely this was a common expression among the Jewish faithful whom Gaebelein ministered to in his New York City outreach to the Jews.