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Surprised by Christ: My Journey from Judaism to Orthodox Christianity

ISBN: 9781888212952
  • Format:Digital


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Surprised by Christ tells the story of a man searching for truth and unable to rest until he finds it. Raised in Queens, New York, by formerly Orthodox Jewish parents whose faith had been undermined by the Holocaust, Arnold Bernstein went on his own personal quest for the God he instinctively felt was there. He was ready to accept God in whatever form he chose to reveal himself—and that form turned out to be Christ. But Bernstein soon perceived discrepancies in the various forms of Protestant belief that surrounded him, and so his quest continued—this time for the true church. With his Jewish heritage as a foundation, he studied and evaluated, and eventually came to the conclusion that the faith of his forefathers was fully honored and brought to completion only in the Orthodox Christian Church.

Surprised by Christ combines an engrossing memoir of one man’s life in historic times and situations—from the Six-Day War to the Civil Rights Movement to the Jesus Movement in Berkeley—with a deeply felt examination of the distinctives of Orthodox theology that make the Orthodox Church a true home not only for Christian Jews, but for all who seek to know God as fully as he may be known.

Key Features

  • Provides a comprehensive introduction to Orthodox Christianity
  • Explains key ideas about the Orthodox Church
  • Presents insights into the journey of faith


  • Not the Messiah I Expected
    • Raised in the Shadow of the Holocaust
    • My Conversion
    • Is Christ Divine?
    • Discovering the Prophecies of Christ
    • College Years
    • In the Holy Land
  • Discovering the Church
    • Evangelical Protestant Ministries
    • Why the Scriptures Are Not Enough
    • Worship in the Ancient Church
    • A New Commitment
    • Finding the Original Church
    • Orthodoxy: Jewish and Christian
    • What Became of the Apostolic Jewish Christian Church?
  • Discovering Salvation with Depth
    • How Fallen Are We?
    • What Salvation Is Not: Solutions to Problems That Don’t Exist
    • What Is Salvation?
    • God Became Man So That Man Might Become God
    • Is God Humble?
    • The Divine Fire of God’s Love

Praise for the Print Edition

The story of Fr James’ journey is fascinating. It reminds us again of the sovereignty of God, and his desire to reach every one of his beloved children, no matter where they are.

—Frederica Mathewes-Green, author, Facing East

In life you meet a handful of people whose stories crash through the usual categories of human experience and form a new kind of stand-alone narrative. Enter: Fr. James Bernstein. Son of a Jewish rabbi, national chess champion, leader with Jews for Jesus in Berkeley, Orthodox Christian priest – whew! You will love and be greatly encouraged by his unusual story of life in Christ.

—Peter E. Gillquist, author, Becoming Orthodox

A marvelous volume! It shows how in our time, just as two millennia ago, the question posed by Christ, ‘Who do you say I am?’ (Matt 16:15), is resoundingly answered: ‘The Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ All conversions are miracles of God’s grace. Fr. James Bernstein allows us to share in the special miracle of his conversion.

—H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr., professor of philosophy, Rice University

Fr. James Bernstein’s roots are here in Jerusalem even as he ministers in the Pacific Northwest. Though separated by vast distance we are one and united in our desire to actualize an authentic Jewish Christian Orthodox Church in the Holy Land as in the beginning. His book compellingly presents why of all branches of Christianity, Orthodox Christianity has by far the greatest kinship to Judaism.

—Alexander Winogradsky, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate—Jerusalem

In sharing his ‘surprise’ with us, Fr. James Bernstein shows that he is a Hebrew prophet in the definition of prophecy provided by that other ‘Hebrew born of Hebrews’ who knew the same ‘surprise.’ In sharing his story and convictions, Fr James ‘speaks to people for their edification and encouragement and comfort.’ (1 Cor. 14:3) The grace and spirit of His words match the grace and truth of their content. We thank God for this prophetic gift.

Thomas Hopko, dean emeritus, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

  • Title: Surprised by Christ: My Journey from Judaism to Orthodox Christianity
  • Author: A. James Bernstein
  • Publisher: Ancient Faith
  • Print Publication Date: 2008
  • Logos Release Date: 2015
  • Pages: 337
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bernstein, A. James, 1946-; Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America › Clergy--Biography; Christian converts from Judaism › United States--Biography; Orthodox Eastern converts › United States--Biography
  • ISBNs: 9781888212952, 1888212950
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2020-06-05T16:03:18Z

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

A. James Bernstein converted to Christianity at age 16. His spiritual journey has included a number of twists and turns: he was chapter president of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at Queens College, helped found the Jews for Jesus ministry in San Francisco, was a staff member of the Christian World Liberation Front in Berkeley, served as a pastor of an Evangelical Orthodox Church near Silicon Valley, and later became an Eastern Orthodox convert and then priest. He now serves as pastor of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Seattle, Washington. Father James is the author of the booklets Orthodoxy: Jewish and Christian, Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament, and Communion: A Family Affair. He was also a contributor to the Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms.


Digital list price: $14.99
Save $3.00 (20%)