Jewish New Testament Studies: revisited

Just in case you thought that the Jewish Annotated New Testament reported in a previous blog was unusual, I have just received two other recent titles that speak to a growing field of Jewish New Testament studies. 

Zev Garber is the editor of The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation, while Herbert Basser has produced The Mind Behind the Gospels: A Commentary to Matthew 1-14. Both Garber and Basser are notable and well published Jewish authors. 

As editor of his volume, Garber has assembled a cast of 19 scholars, mostly Jewish or if not Jewish, then involved in Jewish Christian dialogue, to address the subject of Jesus. The chapters, each by a different author, are divided into three sections namely: Reflections on the Jewish Jesus; Responding to the Jewish Jesus; and finally, Teaching, Dialogue, Reclamation: Contemporary Views on the Jewish Jesus. Shofar SupplementsGarber dedicates his book as follows: 

To the courageous and devoted essayists of this tome. Jews, who practice the faith of Jesus, and Christians, who believe by faith in Jesus. By the authority of Torah and Testament, they merge as one in proclaiming the Jewish Jesus and restoring his pivotal role in the history of Second Temple Judaism and beyond. The rest is commentary and controversy. Read and see why. 

The essays cover the historical time frame from the first century to the present. Most are focused on the time of the Second Temple, with contributions examining the Byzantine period, the pre-modern as well as current responses. They also examine documentary evidence outside of the Gospel accounts such as Rivka Ulmer’s Psalm 22 in Pesiqta Rabbati: The suffering of the Jewish Messiah and Jesus. In that essay, Ulmer challenges the ideas that the Messianic expectation of Jesus was something imposed later and that the idea of a suffering servant as a messiah was not part of Jewish thinking. Such approaches have been used to create a sense of distance between Christians and the Jewish ideas of his day. Israel Knohl of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, has also written on the fact that such an idea was current in Jewish expectations at the time of Jesus. Such essays help relocate Jesus as a Jewish reformer within a Judean matrix rather than the founder of a new religious movement. 

Herbert Basser is a noted Talmudic and midrashic scholar at Queens University, Ontario, Canada. It may seem strange to find a Jewish Talmudist preparing a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, but Amy-Jill Levine sums up his contribution by commenting: 

Herbert Basser’s commentary on Matthew 1-14 both offers fresh insights into the composition of the First Gospel and makes a major contribution to the understanding of the Jewish roots of Christian origins. Employing later compilations of Jewish literature along with the expected Tannaitic, Targumic, and Qumran materials, he is able to construct an interpretive model of how Jews read Scripture, discerned orthopraxy, and maintained community. His approach does not artificially force Judaism into a predetermined model; instead it recognizes that within the diversity of that thought there exist particular interpretive strategies and rhetorical modes of argumentation. Confirming many of his connections are both Septuagintal readings and Syriac translations of both Hebrew biblical material and early (Greek) Christian literature.

ISBN 978 1 934843 33 8 The volume covers half of the Gospel account. Basser leaves the reader in suspense as to whether another volume will address the remaining chapters (13). He does provide a listing of articles that he has already published which could or will form the basis for the second volume. For the benefit of a reader who does not have access to the sources of his articles, we hope that he is able to deliver that second volume.

Both books are part of larger series. Zev Garber’s volume is part of the Shofar Supplements in Jewish Studies, published by Purdue University Press, while Herbert Basser’s volume is part of the Reference Library of Jewish Intellectual History, published by Academic Studies Press of Boston.

 

 

 

Tags: Jesus, Judaism, First Century, Second Temple, Gospel of Matthew, Basser, Garber

Major New Testament publication launched.

Following the success of its Jewish Annotated Old Testament, Oxford University Press approached the editor and other Jewish scholars about producing a Jewish Annotated New Testament. The resulting New Testament Study Bible has just been released.

Using the New Revised Standard Version as the basic text, and Amy-Jill Levine with Marc Zvi Brettler as editors, they have assembled a phalanx of Jewish Scholarship to provide commentary on the entire New Testament. This may seem oxymoronic to most Christianity, but in reality, the New Testament addresses a Jewish audience with Jewish issues and challenges much more that a traditional Christian audience. As a result, they are able to illuminate various NT passages in a surprising manner.

Designed to follow the organization of other Study Bibles, the JANT provides introductions to the various books of the New Testament together with commentary on the various passages on the lower section of each page. In addition, some 18 essays on various background issues that are foundational to an appreciation of the New Testament, numerous maps, charts and sidebars are provided to add understanding for the reader.

Aimed firstly at a college student application, the book will also be valuable reading for the general Christian audience in providing a marked contrast and fresh approach to the traditional Christian creedal readings and interpretations of the New Testament provided in other study Bibles.

Care has been taken to avoid reading later Rabbinic teachings of the 4/6 th centuries back into the New Testament so that the commentary provided represents Jewish attitudes and understandings of the first century in which the New Testament is set. Some references to Rabbinic teachings are recorded when they throw light on the practice or teachings on the New Testament period.

For anybody who considers themselves a student of the New Testament, the Jewish Annotated New Testament is a volume that should be added to their library for regular use.

Tags: new testament, Judaism, First Century

Apostle Paul and the Book of Deuteronomy:

It has long been recognized that Deuteronomy, Isaiah and the Psalms were the most frequently quoted parts of the Bible by the writers of the New Testament.  In a new book, David Lincicum evaluates Paul's use of Deuteronomy in his writings. 

Mohr Siebeck, the publishers, provide the following comments on the new title:

Attending to the realia of ancient practices for reading Scripture, David Lincicum charts the effective history of Deuteronomy in a broad range of early Jewish authors in antiquity. By viewing Paul as one example of this long history of tradition, the apostle emerges as a Jewish reader of Deuteronomy. In light of his transformation by encounter with the risen Christ, Paul's interpretation of the end of the Pentateuch alternates between the traditional and the radical, but remains in conversation with his Jewish rough contemporaries. Specifically, Paul is seen to interpret Deuteronomy with a threefold construal as ethical authority, theological norm, and a lens for the interpretation of Israel's history. In this way, the volume sets Paul firmly in the history of Jewish biblical interpretation and at the same time provides a wide-ranging survey of the impact of Deuteronomy in antiquity.

Lincicum's work appears to chart some new territory in the appreciation of Paul's writing that grounds him in a first century Jewish tradition rather than the creator of some new religion as he has so often being portrayed.

Tags: new testament, Apostle Paul, Old Testament, Judaism, Mohr Siebeck, David Lincicum, use of Deuteronomy

The New Testament Environment


Book examines the religious sentiments in Judaea in the first century

"Common Judaism" was a term coined by E.P. Sanders to describe the religious sensibilities among people who lived during the period known as the Second Temple. This period coincided with the life of Jesus Christ, who, like the majority of the populace, did not follow the strictures of the major religious groups such as Sadducees, Pharisees or Essenes. Obviously some of the population had no religious interest at all, but the majority were considered to follow a form of "common" Judaism. 

book published late last year examines the concept of a common Judaism in greater detail, building on the work of Sanders, who, in fact, contributed an essay to the book.

This appears to be a useful work for reevaluating the social environment of Judea and Galilee during the period when Jesus and the apostles taught in the first century C.E., making disciples of "the way." These were the First Followers.

 

Tags: Judaism, Temple, Devout people, First Century, First Followers, Judaea, Synagogues

Jesus and Judaism

E.P. Sanders discusses his early studies

E.P. Sanders, who will be remembered as a force in New Testament studies in the last half of the 20th century, is interviewed by Duke University about his early studies. The impact of his study motivated much of the new perspective on Paul as well as studies of the historical Jesus.

The video is worth viewing as it challenges the basic assumptions that most bring to the study of the New Testament.

 

 

 

 

 

H/T Chris Tilling


Tags: Jesus, Judaism, E P Sanders

What Religion Was Jesus Christ?

Ancient stone creates opportunity for reflection
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Details: What Religion Was Jesus Christ?
Gabriel Revelation

The discovery and publication of an unprovenanced Hebrew document, purportedly from the 1st century BCE and written on stone, has generated some interesting comments about the origins of Christianity and its relationship to Judaism. I'll write more on this in future but in the interim, I'd like to draw attention to one writer in particular. 

James Carroll, writing in the Boston Globe, concludes his article on the 'Gabriel Revelation' with the following comment:

That Christianity defined itself as the polar opposite of Judaism was an accident of history, with lethal consequences. The two religions are and will remain distinct, but it is urgently important that Christians, especially, correct the mistake that saw Jesus in radical opposition to his own people. He remained a devoted Jew to the end, and his first followers understood him, after his death, in fully Jewish terms. If Christians had continued to do so, the tradition of anti-Judaism, which spawned anti-Semitism, would not have developed.

James has summed up the situation appropriately, although we should always appreciate that anti-Semitism predates the time of Jesus Christ.

HT to Jim Davila at PaleoJudaica.


Tags: Judaism, Jesus Christ, early christianity, Gabriel, James Carroll, resurrection, three days

The Context of Jesus Christ and His Followers


Dramatic Change in Perspective

"One of the biggest changes that’s happened in the scholarly world since I was introduced to it back in the 1970’s is the way that Judaism . . . is seen as the context of Christianity rather than as its contrast.”  44:18 

Paula Fredriksen, "Sin: The Early History of the Idea: Lecture 1: God, Blood, and theTemple" October 9, 2007 -- Spencer Trask Lecture, cosponsored by Princeton University Press.


Tags: Judaism, Paula Fredriksen, early christianity, Sin, Spencer Trask Lecture

Temple Mount Plans


International involvement in the Supervision of the Temple Mount reported

Today’s online Jerusalem Post reports an interesting development relating to the supervision and oversight of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem The location of the temple which was the focus of the early church and Judaism until its destruction in 70 CE, will be placed under Jordanian custody according to a statement reported in the London based Al-Quds al-Arabi.  This is the substance of a purported agreement between the Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and the Palestinian Authorities Prime Minister Abbas.

 

While custody is reported to be given to Jordan, supervision of the temple mount will be given to an international body including the United Nations, Egypt, Jordan Israel and the Palestinian Authority according the to JPost report.

 

The report has been denied by the Prime Minister’s Office.  Understandably, it has drawn fierce criticism from the religious parties in Israel’s Knesset.  If any aspect of the report was true, it would appear that Palestinian elements were ceding control and influence over the most valuable bargaining chip in their relationship with Israel.

 

Jordanian involvement with the Temple Mount and the Islamic holy sites located there is not new.  Following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Jordan took control of the West Bank with East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and continued in that role until driven east of the Jordan River in the 1967 war.  Apparently, the Israeli’s in their 1994 treaty withJordan included a provision for a future Jordanian involvement in the Islamic sites underIsrael’s control.  The future of the holy sites is apparently to be on the agenda for a Middle East peace conference to be held next month in AnnapolisMaryland It will be fascinating to see what surfaces at that event.


Tags: jerusalem, Islam., Judaism, Temple Mount, early Christians

Exhibition Highlights Mutual Origins of Judaism, Christianity, Islam


British Library unveils its treasures

Sacred: Discover What We Share is the title of a major exhibition presented by the British Library at its St. Pancreas, London facility. This “Must See” exhibition is drawn from the collections of the Library as well as other UK and Irish collections to highlight the development of the texts considered sacred by Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Starting with a fragment of the Psalms from the Dead Sea Scrolls, dated to circa C.E. 50, the display covers materials relating to the three religions up to the current time. 

 

Given the nature of the British Library’s holding in ancient texts, this is a rich exhibition for anyone to appreciate.  What is more, it is not just a collection of old documents, but a wonderful interplay of the ancient with the modern.  Using the latest technology, visitors can turn the pages of some of the finest items in the libraries collection.  To be able to electronically turn the pages of a 500 year old treasure provides a unique sense of connection with the past.

 

One purpose that the exhibition seeks to accomplish is to show the mutual origins of the three religions, thus contributing to the multicultural environment that is encouraged in theUnited Kingdom.  A recent comment by an Israeli academic, Rivkah Duker Fishman, published in the Jewish Political Studies Review shows how tenuous that relationship has been.  

Thanks to Paleojudiaca for the reference.


Tags: christianity, Islam., Dead Sea Scrolls, Judaism, British Library, Sacred texts

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