In the March/April 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), now available on newsstands and on the Web, Jewish New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine discusses “What Jews (and Christians too) Should Know About the New Testament.” Just as the upcoming holiday of Easter has its roots in the Passover celebration, so does the Christian New Testament draw on a rich tradition of Jewish literature. In fact, as Levine points out, the New Testament is itself mostly (if not completely) Jewish literature—composed by Jews, for Jews, about Jesus the Jew. By reading the New Testament, she explains, Jews can gain an appreciation of its deep Jewish context.
Addressing issues of concerns for many Jews—including anti-Jewish polemics, claims of Jesus’ divinity and his fulfillment of Hebrew prophecies—Levine shows that the New Testament’s sometimes-harsh rhetoric can still be offensive but more understandable as conventional rhetoric of its time, often found in other Jewish situations against fellow religionists.
Can an understanding of Jesus the Jew provide a bridge between church and synagogue?
Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences. A self-described “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt,” Professor Levine combines historical-critical rigor, literary-critical sensitivity and a frequent dash of humor with a commitment to eliminating anti-Jewish, sexist and homophobic theologies.
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The Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) was founded in 1974 as a nonprofit, nondenominational, educational organization dedicated to the dissemination of information about archaeology in the Bible lands.