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Hugh Joseph Schonfield (London, 17 May 1901 – January 24, 1988, London) was a British Bible scholar specializing in the New Testament and the early development of the Christian religion and church. He was born in London, and educated there at St Paul's School and King's College, doing postgraduate religious studies in the University of Glasgow, Doctor of Sacred Literature. He was one of the founders and president of the pacifist organization Commonwealth of World Citizens "Mondcivitan Republic".

Religious and political beliefsEdit


At one time he was president of the H.G. Wells Society. He founded the "Mondcivitan Republic," Commonwealth of World Citizens, in 1956.[1]

Hebrew Christian and Messianic JudaismEdit

Schonfield was a liberal Hebrew Christian. In 1937 Schonfield was expelled from the Executive Committee of International Hebrew Christian Alliance (IHCA), of which he had been a member since 1925, (this organisation is now the International Messianic Jewish Alliance or IMJA).[2] He later associated with Messianic Judaism for a while, but was bitterly disillusioned by the experience.[3]


Schonfield was one of the original Dead Sea Scrolls team members.

Schonfield wrote over 40 books including commercially successful books in the fields of history and biography as well as religion. In 1958 his non-ecclesiastical historical translation of the New Testament was published in the UK and the US, titled The Authentic New Testament. This aimed to show without idealised interpretation the meaning intended by the writers while maintaining the original structures. A revised version appeared in 1985 titled The Original New Testament. In 1965 he published the controversial The Passover Plot, a book whose thesis is that the Crucifixion was part of a larger, conscious attempt by Jesus to fulfill the Messianic expectations rampant in his time, and that the plan went unexpectedly wrong.

Schonfield followed The Passover Plot with a sequel in 1968, Those Incredible Christians. This was also described as controversial, but had less impact than the earlier book.[4]

An additional aspect of his work was the revision of the Hebrew writing system.[5] In The New Hebrew Typography, published in 1932, he argued for a significantly revised version of the Hebrew alphabet modeled after the Latin alphabet, including a capital-lowercase distinction, no final forms, a vertical emphasis, and serifs. This alphabet has not been adopted.

Selected bibliographyEdit

  • An Old Hebrew Text of St. Matthew's Gospel, Translated (translator, with notes and appendices, 1927)
  • The Lost 'Book of the Nativity of John' (1929)
  • Letters to Frederick Tennyson (editor, 1930)
  • The New Hebrew Typography (1932)
  • An Astounding Scientific Discovery: The Authentic Photograph of Christ: His Face, and Whole Figure as Marvellously Appearing on the Shroud Which Was Thrown over His Body after the Crucifixion (by Kazimir de Proszynski; edited with an historical supplement by Hugh J. Schonfield)
  • The Speech That Moved the World (1932)
  • For the Train: Five Poems and a Tale (by Lewis Carroll; arranged poem order, wrote preface, 1932)
  • The Book of British Industries (editor, 1933)
  • Jesus Christ, Nineteen Centuries After: The Search Symposium by Leaders of the Great World Faiths (1933)
  • The History of Jewish Christianity from the First to the Twentieth Century (1936)
  • Richard Burton, Explorer (1936)
  • Ferdinand De Lesseps (1937)
  • According to the Hebrews: a New Translation of the Jewish Life of Jesus (the Toldoth Jeshu), with an Inquiry into the Mature of its Sources and Special Relationship to the Lost Gospel according to the Hebrews (1937)
  • Travels and Researches in South Africa
  • The Suez Canal (1939)
  • Jesus: A Biography (1939)
  • The Treaty of Versailles, The Essential Text and Amendments (1940)
  • Readings from the Apocryphal Gospels (editor, 1940)
  • The Divine Plan of World Government: An Introduction to the Doctrine of a Holy Nation (1940)
  • Italy and Suez (1941)
  • Judaism and World Order (1943)
  • This Man Was Right: Woodrow Wilson Speaks Again (editor, 1943)
  • The Jew of Tarsus: An Unorthodox Portrait of Paul (1947)
  • Saints Against Caesar: The Rise and Reactions of the First Christian Community (1948)
  • The Suez Canal in World Affairs (1952)
  • Egypt: Cross-Road on a World Highway (1953)
  • Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Studies Towards their Solution (1956)
  • The Bible Was Right: An Astonishing Examination of the New Testament (1956)
  • The Song of Songs (editor and translator, 1960)
  • A Popular Dictionary of Judaism (1962)
  • A History of Biblical Literature (1962)
  • The Passover Plot: New Light on the History of Jesus (1965)
  • Reader's A-to-Z Bible Companion (1967)
  • Those Incredible Christians (1968)
  • Suez Canal in Peace and War (1969)
  • Travels in Tartary and Thibet (1970)
  • Politics of God (1970)
  • The Jesus Party (published in the UK as The Pentecost Revolution: The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, A.D. 36-66, 1974)
  • For Christ's Sake: A Discussion of the Jesus Enigma (1975)
  • The Shroud of Turin
  • The Original New Testament (originally published in 1958 as The Authentic New Testament, updated and re-published under this title in 1985)
  • The Essene Odyssey: The Mystery of the True Teacher and the Essene Impact on the Shaping of Human Destiny (1984)
  • After the Cross (1981)
  • Proclaiming the Messiah: The Life and Letters of Paul of Tarsus, Envoy to the Nations (1997)
  • The Mystery of the Messiah (1998)
  • Jesus: Man, Mystic, Messiah (2004)


  • Wells as religious humanist[6]


  1. ^ The Cramoisy Queen: A Life of Caresse Crosby - Page 168 Linda Hamalian - 2009 All that was required, she thought, was formal official status, and so she merged with the legally established Commonwealth of World Citizens founded by Dr. Hugh Schonfield, a British historian and scholar of what the West called..."
    • The politics of God, Hugh Joseph Schonfield - 1970 "There shall be identical treatment of those outside the Commonwealth as of those within it, treatment that is founded on reverence for the human personality. 3. The Commonwealth of World Citizens shall ever promote and actively assist ..."
    • World citizenship and mundialism: a guide to the building of a ... - Page 23 John Charles de Villamar Roberts - 1999 "The Commonwealth of World Citizens offered itself as an example of a new "nation" devoted solely to serving humanity. Its founder, Dr. Hugh Schonfield, a distinguished Biblical scholar, had worked for world citizenship and mundialism ..."
    • Alternative approaches to world government Hanna Newcombe - 1967 "The Commonwealth of World Citizens, or Mondcivitans , was founded long before Garry Davis. In 1938, Dr. Hugh Schonfield, distinguished British Jewish scholar and diplomat, conceived the civilized world's need for a new "independent and ...
    • No Sense of Obligation: Science and Religion in an Impersonal Universe - Page 141 Matt Young - 2001 "Hugh Schonfield was a New Testament scholar who was educated at King's College, London, and earned a doctorate in sacred literature at the University of Glasgow. He was a prolific author but received attention mostly for The Passover Plot..."
  2. ^ The Apostle Paul in the Jewish imagination: a study in modern ... - Page 155 Daniel R. Langton - 2010 -"Schonfield was expelled from the Executive Committee of IHCA, of which he was a member from 1925 to 1937). 3 The origins of this organisation, later renamed the Mondcivitan Republic, are described in Hugh Schonfield, The Politics of ."
  3. ^ David A. Rausch Messianic Judaism, its history, theology, and polity 1982 "Note 43. It is interesting that Daniel Juster, the Spiritual Leader of Beth Messiah Congregation in Rockville, Maryland corresponded with Schonfield several years ago. Schonfield confirmed to him that he indeed had had a bad experience with the ... He said that after that experience he began to rethink everything and came to new conclusions ... Schonfield indicated to Juster that Juster' s faith in Messianic Judaism was naive and that he would have to someday "grow up" as Hugh Schonfield had done. 44. Note "Greetings From Friends" Hebrew Christian Alliance Quarterly" 1982 p48-49
  4. ^ Da Vinci code decoded - Page 119 Martin Lunn - 2004 - ... Dr. Hugh J. Schonfield. Dr. Schonfield was one of the original researchers working on the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran and his most notable book on Biblical history is The Passover Plot. He applied the code to some of the scrolls that ..."
  5. ^ "The Schonfieldian Script Page". Archived from the original on August 25, 2003. Retrieved 2007-05-06. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. ^ Religious humanism: Volume 3 Fellowship of Religious Humanists - 1969 WELLS AS RELIGIOUS HUMANIST By Hugh J. Schonfield - Experiment in Autobiography, by HG Wells"

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