The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation

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There is a general understanding within religious and academic circles that the incarnate Christ of Christian belief lived and died a faithful Jew. This volume addresses Jesus in the context of Judaism. By emphasizing his Jewishness, the authors challenge today's Jews to reclaim the Nazarene as a proto-rebel rabbi and invite Christians to discover or rediscover the church's Jewish heritage. The essays in this volume cover historical, literary, liturgical, philosophical, religious, theological, and contemporary ...
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Overview


There is a general understanding within religious and academic circles that the incarnate Christ of Christian belief lived and died a faithful Jew. This volume addresses Jesus in the context of Judaism. By emphasizing his Jewishness, the authors challenge today's Jews to reclaim the Nazarene as a proto-rebel rabbi and invite Christians to discover or rediscover the church's Jewish heritage. The essays in this volume cover historical, literary, liturgical, philosophical, religious, theological, and contemporary issues related to the Jewish Jesus. Several of them were originally presented at a three-day symposium on "Jesus in the Context of Judaism and the Challenge to the Church," hosted by the Samuel Rosenthal Center for Judaic Studies at Case Western Reserve University in 2009. In the context of pluralism, in the temper of growing interreligious dialogue, and in the spirit of reconciliation, encountering Jesus as living history for Christians and Jews is both necessary and proper. This book will be of particular interest to scholars of the New Testament and early church who are seeking new ways of understanding Jesus in his religious and cultural milieu, as well Jewish and Christian theologians and thinkers who are concerned with contemporary Jewish and Christian relationships.
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Editorial Reviews

Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies

Shofar ♦ An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Vo. 30, No. 3, 2012

The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation, edited by Zev Garber. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2011. 405 pp. $59.95.

Zev Garber, distinguished scholar of Judaica and editor of The Jewish Jesus, dedicates this volume to its “courageous and devoted” contributors: “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.”
This dedication helps us understand the primary aim of this volume, which is to show that Jesus was firmly rooted in his Jewish religious identity, that, as Garber claims,“he lived and died as a faithful Jew” (p. 1). This is a view shared not only by the nineteen contributors to this book who are at the fore- front of Jewish-Christian relations, but also by a growing number of religious authorities and scholars, including even Pope Benedict XVI. In his recent book Jesus of Nazareth, the Pope states that “Jesus lived by the whole of the Law and the Prophets, as he constantly told his disciples” (p. 333). Pope Bene- dict’s affirmation of Jesus’ Jewish religious identity obviously is not intended to diminish Christian faith in Christ, and this is certainly not the intent of Garber and his book’s contributors who show us that Christians may affirm classical Christian dogmas about Christ while also acknowledging Jesus’ com- mitment to Judaism.Pope Benedict also says in Jesus of Nazareth that reading Rabbi Jacob Neusner’s book A Rabbi Talks with Jesus “has opened my eyes to the greatness of Jesus’ words” (p. 69). This statement reflects another of aim of The Jewish Jesus—to promote interfaith learning and mutual respect between and Jews. If the Pope’s appreciation of Jesus’ words can be enriched by read- ing a contemporary rabbi’s book, then surely other Christians can have their views of Jesus enhanced by reading Jewish authors. Garber wants to promote this type of interfaith learning. He trusts that when Christians and Jews learn from each other—particularly but not only about how Jesus was a faithful Jew—they are likely to see each other and each other’s religion in a new light and with greater appreciation.
For me, the essay “Before Whom Do We Stand?” by Henry Knight is a classic example of how Jewish-Christian dialogue can bring such a radical transformation. Knight details how his encounter with Zev Garber and other Jewish scholars and his study and friendship with Elie Wiesel have trans- formed his understanding of the Jewish tradition and his own Christian faith. In this essay, which is characterized by exceptional personal candor and in- tegrity, Knight states: “With each reading Wiesel helps me see more—more about myself, more about the world in which we live, more about what happened during that night that was different than any other night and more about the people before whom I stand when I stand as a Christian before a Jew named Jesus” (pp. 323–324).
Jews and Christians, such as Garber and Knight, who have been deeply committed to the interfaith movement, are aware of the dramatic changes in the way many Christians view Judaism. The changes began in earnest with the Second Vatican Council’s extraordinary decree Nostra Aetate (1965), which affirmed that God’s covenant with the Jewish people was not revoked. In re- sponse to positive changes by Catholic and Protestant churches, in the year 2000 an interdenominational group of Jewish scholars issued “Dabru Emet [Speak the Truth]: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity,” which acknowledges that “Christians know and serve God through Jesus Christ and the Christian tradition.” Yet, despite this positive reference to Jesus, even this ground-breaking statement offers no reflection on the significance of Jesus. This is consistent with the approach of Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the most influential Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century and a great friend of some of the major Christian thinkers of his time.At a conference at the Princeton Theological Seminary on October 28,1964, Heschel gave a talk on “The Humanity of Man” in which he said: “The question is often asked of me by Christians, what is your opinion about Jesus, about Christianity?” Here is his response: “Who am I to give an opinion about one of the sublime mysteries in history, about the relations between God and men? Am I to judge? It would be vulgar, if not blasphemous, for any mortal to sit in judgment about what is intimate and sacred to other human beings.”

In one respect, Garber seems to be following in Heschel’s footsteps when he states: “It is not the role of the synagogue to judge whether Jesus the Jew metamorphosed into the Christ of faith or that Jesus and the Christ are one and the same individual. Rather, Jews must do their homework and cleanse the people of Israel of any conceived or perceived anti-Christian bias. . . . In- deed, Christianity is a legitimate partner in tikkun ‘olam, endowing the world in peace, understanding, and unity” (p. 7). Garber’s aim is to examine the his- torical Jesus, not to judge whether Jesus was divine. But insofar as Garber and the other Jewish contributors to this volume engage on an examination of the historical Jesus, they do indeed part company with Heschel.
The Jewish Jesus is divided under three headings: “Reflections on the Jew- ish Jesus,” “Responding to the Jewish Jesus,” and “ Teaching, Dialogue, Recla- mation: Contemporary Views on the Jewish Jesus.” The book was especially conceived for classroom use. At the end of each essay there are questions that will guide the reader to its core ideas to encourage discussion. A number of the contributors, including Stephen Leonard Jacobs, James F. Moore, Henry F. Knight, and Zev Garber, have been engaged in studying Jewish and Christian texts together for the last eighteen years. During that time they have developed good intellectual and spiritual relations, which is so central to genuine dialogue. The Jewish Jesus stands out for its honesty and openness. The contributors do not overlook the strong affinities between Ju- daism and Christianity, but at the same time they do not ignore the profound differences. This became clearest to me in Herbert W. Basser’s essay in which he states: “Jews are often outraged by my citing evidence that supports the early Christian claims detailing the vehemence of Jewish expression of anger and outright hatred, including officially composed curses, against the fledgling Christian religion. Christians may be angered by my claim that the official churches within a decade or so after Jesus sanctioned their saints and evan- gelists to stop at absolutely nothing within reach to delegitimatize Judaism” (p. 103). Such honesty helps us understand why genuine interfaith dialogue presents such a great challenge for Jews and Christians.The boldest Jewish theological formulations of Jesus are presented in Shaul Magid’s “The New Jewish Reclamation of Jesus in Late Twentieth-Cen- tury America: Realigning and Rethinking Jesus the Jew,” in which he explores a number of contemporary Jewish scholars’ radical views of Jesus. Perhaps the most radical view is that of Rabbi Byron Sherwin, who gives Jesus a role with- in Jewish messianic theology. Sherwin sees Jesus as a Jewish messiah and uses Jewish classical sources that claim that before the coming of the final messiah, son of David, there will come a messiah, son of Joseph, who dies to prepare the way for the final redemption. Sherwin proposes that Jews accept Jesus of Nazareth as the messiah, son of Joseph. Magid concludes correctly that Sher- win’s view is a call to accept “Jesus as a Jewish messiah in contemporary Jewish theology” (p. 369). It would be a mistake to think that Sherwin wants to oblit- erate the unique and holy treasures of Judaism or Christianity in any way. For Sherwin, as for all the contributors to this volume, Judaism and Christianity remain two distinct religious traditions.
In my view, one of the gems in this volume is the article by Christina M. Smerick titled “ Taking Thomas to Temple: Introducing Evangelicals to the Jewish Jesus.” This article is based on intensive interviews that the author had with her colleagues in the religion and philosophy departments at Greenville College in Illinois. All the professors who teach courses which deal in some sense with Jesus and Judaism find that their students are extremely challenged by these courses. Smerick writes that the reason for this is “because one of the most consistent messages from the church is that Jesus was exemplary and utterly unique in his work and message. . . and presented a radical break from the Judaism of his day. . . . The historically Gentile church has portrayed Jesus as far more of a Gentile or radical outsider than a participating member of the Jewish community” (p. 275). Fortunately, scholars like Smerick, Garber, and the others associated with this book are spreading the word about Jesus’ Jewishness and its significance for Christian-Jewish relations. One of the most important essays for me is Eugene J. Fisher’s “ Typical Jewish Misunderstandings of Christ, Christianity, and Jewish-Christian Rela- tions over the Centuries.” Fisher, who has devoted more than forty years to Jewish-Christian dialogue, is best known for correcting Christian misunder- standing of the Jewish tradition. In this essay, however, he helps us understand how throughout the ages Jews have misunderstood Jesus and Christianity, often because they fail to appreciate the complexity or diversity of theologi- cal positions found among Christians. The following is one example given by Fisher of a Jewish misunderstanding of Christianity: “Christianity is ascetic because it is other-worldly, and is based on the notion that faith alone, irrespective of one’s actual physical deeds, is necessary for salvation. The latter statement, of course, equates a certain interpretation of the thought of Luther with that of all Christians” (p.
235). He cites Eliezer Berkovits, one of the most influential Orthodox Jewish Philosophers of the twentieth century, who has written that “Christianity is an other-worldly religion. It has no use for this world and no respect for it” (p. 235). Fisher is an expert in both the Jewish and Christian traditions; his views must be considered seriously.Steven Leonard Jacobs concludes his valuable essay “Can We Talk? The Jewish Jesus in a Dialogue Between Jews and Christians” with a quotation from Yossi Klein Halevi, and I find a quotation from Halevi appropriate to share as I draw this review to a close. In his book At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land, Halevi tells of being asked by a Christian, “How do you see Jesus?” His an- swer: “I feel love for Jesus. . . . Obviously I don’t love Jesus the way you do. For me Jesus isn’t the world redeemer, but he did bring a measure of redemption into the world by drawing so many souls to God” (p. 209). For nearly two thousand years, views about Jesus have often caused con- flict between Jews and Christians. Today, however, thanks to the efforts of in- terfaith pioneers like Yossi Klein Halevi and Zev Garber, there are views about Jesus that are fostering harmony and love rather than conflict. I am hopeful that the enlightening views found in The Jewish Jesus will advance Jewish- Christian friendship.

Harold Kasimow Department of Religious Studies Grinnell College

— Harold Kasimow

From the Publisher

"This volume is important because it pushes in quite fresh direction. It is, more than that, both honest as dialogue requires and large-spirited in a way that makes new engagement possible. Garber and his collaborators have rendered an important service to us. The ditch has not been crossed, and perhaps it cannot be. “Perhaps,” because we do not know. But for now it is important to remember that Lessing, as he probed the ditch amid deep religious conflict, urged engagement in large-spirited interpretation that made much room for the other. That is not easy among us, given the long-term wounding enacted by Christians against Jews. This volume, however, suggests that a way ahead is possible.  Whether Messiah will “come” or “come again,” we may commonly live in that hope."  - Walter Brueggemann, Review of Biblical Literature

Book News - June 2011

For all the myriad views of Jesus, there is pretty close consensus that he lived and died a faithful Jew, and theologians and biblical scholars here explore the ramifications of that for Jews and Christians then and now. Among the perspectives are the Kabbalah of rabbi Jesus, the suffering of the Jewish messiah and Jesus, the Jewish and Greek Jesus, Jewish responses to Byzantine polemics from the ninth through the 11th centuries, introducing evangelicals to the Jewish Jesus, Edith Stein's Jewish husband Jesus, and the Jewish Jesus in a dialogue between Jews and Christians. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)

Jewish Ideas Daily
June 15, 2011

The past half-decade has seen a spate of books on the topic written by Jews, with titles like The Misunderstood Jew and From Rebel to Rabbi.  In 2007, the Christian scholar Peter Schafer published a challenging study on the place of Jesus in the Talmud.  The newest entry in the field is a collection of essays edited by Zev Garber, The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation.
While the collection is composed in part of papers presented at a 2009 symposium, the word "reclamation" is a tip-off that the editor's interest in the subject is not merely academic. The Church's task, as represented in this volume, is to foster a more positive and respectful relationship with those who, according to the book's dedication, "practice the faith of Jesus." For Jews, acknowledgment of Jesus' Jewishness opens the door to a deeper and more constructive relationship with those who, in turn, "believe by faith in Jesus." In short, reflection on the Jewishness of Jesus promises to serve as the basis for enhanced Jewish-Christian dialogue.
The contributions to the volume are quite varied. The first section, "Reflections on the Jewish Jesus," focuses primarily on the historical relationship of Jesus to the Jewish communities of his day and the reception of his teachings by Jews living during and shortly after his lifetime.
The second section of the book, "Responding to the Jewish Jesus," provides a glimpse into the long history of Jewish attitudes toward Jesus and Christianity and Christian attitudes toward Judaism. These attitudes are, needless to say, quite at odds with those that Garber seeks to promote. Over the centuries of Christian oppression and Jewish cultural resistance, most "dialogue" took the form of polemic and disputation, in which each side caricatured the other's beliefs. Eugene J. Fisher's essay, which closes the section, suggests that such caricatures, born of ignorance as much as animosity, have not disappeared in spite of the more congenial circumstances in which we now live.
Having written in the past about Christian misconceptions of Judaism, Fisher here turns his attention to Jewish misunderstandings of Christ, Christianity, and Jewish-Christian relations over the centuries. Noting that Catholic education about Jews has changed dramatically since the Second Vatican Council, he calls upon Jewish educators to improve education about Christianity. Because so little is taught about Christianity in Jewish schools, Fisher argues, "many Jews in this country gain what they think is an understanding of Christianity from the media or stories handed down from the shtetls."
Most directly pertinent to Garber's program is the third section of the book, "Teaching, Dialogue, Reclamation: Contemporary Views on the Jewish Jesus." Most interesting, from a Jewish point of view, are the essays of Steven Leonard Jacobs and Shaul Magid on recent Jewish efforts to bridge the gap with Christianity by recognizing Jesus as a legitimate and important Jewish figure. As Magid points out, such efforts began in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, when liberal Jews sought common ground with liberal Protestants by holding up Jesus as a paradigm of Judaism's ethical tradition. Such an understanding made sense for Jewish reformers who identified with Jesus' critique of the orthodoxy of his time, and it was well suited to an American landscape dominated by liberal Protestants—particularly Unitarians—who viewed Jesus above all as a teacher of ethics.
In today's cultural milieu, in which even liberal Judaism is quite varied and evangelical Christianity is on the rise, some Jewish thinkers have sought instead to engage with the messianic and Christological elements of Jesus' figure. Yitz Greenberg, for example, has proposed viewing Jesus as a "failed messiah"—the term "failed" being used here not in a pejorative sense, but as an indication that Jesus' redemptive work is incomplete. According to this view, Jesus takes his place among many Jewish leaders who were not able to complete their missions, including Moses, Jeremiah, and Bar Kokhba, leader of the Jewish revolt against Rome in the second century C.E.
A similar perspective is offered by Byron Sherman, who identifies Jesus with the "Joseph messiah," a leader who, according to one Jewish tradition, is to arrive on earth before the final redemption by a messiah descended from King David. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Daniel Matt, taking a different approach, suggest that Jesus be viewed as a tzaddik, a righteous individual who, according to Hasidic tradition, embodies the divine. Much as Greenberg and Sherman accept Jesus as a messiah but not the messiah, Schachter-Shalomi and Matt accept the possibility that Jesus represented a type of divine incarnation without viewing his incarnation as the unique event of Christian doctrine.
It may certainly be argued that beliefs such as these are not beyond the pale of traditional rabbinic Judaism. Yet it is difficult to imagine that they will be widely accepted within the Jewish community any time soon, making them a questionable basis for genuine inter-communal dialogue. Moreover, as none of the Jewish thinkers cited in these essays accepts the core Christian doctrines of the resurrection and full divinity of Jesus, the gulf between mainstream Jewish and Christian views of Jesus remains quite wide.
This does not mean that genuine, respectful, and productive interfaith dialogue is an unattainable goal. On the contrary, the very concept of interfaith dialogue presupposes the existence of religious difference—often fundamental, irreconcilable difference—in the midst of which it is still often possible to find considerable common ground. For Christians, reflection on the Jewish identity of the incarnate Christ may serve as a foundation for dialogue with today's living Jewish community. For Jews, learning to understand and respect Christian views about Jesus—without necessarily accepting them—may be more fruitful than attempting to claim him as one of our own.
Eve Levavi Feinstein is a College Fellow in Harvard's department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

Choice
June 2012

The Jewish Jesus: revelation, reflection, reclamation, ed. by Zev Garber.  Purdue, 2011.  405p bibl index ISBN 1557535795 pbk, $59.95; ISBN 9781557535795 pbk, $59.95. Reviewed in 2012jun CHOICE.
This excellent collection addresses what it means--both historically and theologically--to take seriously the Jewishness of Jesus. The first of three sections is largely devoted to sharply focused historical examinations of Jesus or classic texts. Bruce Chilton's "The Kabbalah of Rabbi Jesus" and James F. Moore's "The Amazing Mr. Jesus" open fresh perspectives on Jesus by considering him through the lenses of mysticism and midrashim, respectively. The second section explores the relation between Judaism and Christianity in broader, more thematic ways. The titles of fine essays by two veterans of Jewish-Christian scholarship in the section signal the breadth of topics considered: Richard Rubenstein's "What Was at Stake in the Parting of the Ways between Judaism and Christianity?" and Eugene Fisher's "Typical Jewish Misunderstandings of Christ, Christianity, and Jewish-Christian Relations over the Centuries." The final and most diverse section includes Michael Cook's telling critique of Jewish scholarship on Jesus and Shaul Magid's enlightening analysis of four contemporary Jewish thinkers' attempts to "reclaim" Jesus. These 6 essays, along with the 13 others in the collection, exhibit the continuing vitality of scholarship growing out of Jewish-Christian dialogue. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty. -- S. Gowler, Berea College
   

Shofar ♦  An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Vo. 30, No. 3, 2012

Zev Garber, distinguished scholar of Judaica and editor of The Jewish Jesus, dedicates this volume to its “courageous and devoted” contributors: “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.”
This dedication helps us understand the primary aim of this volume, which is to show that Jesus was firmly rooted in his Jewish religious identity, that, as Garber claims,“he lived and died as a faithful Jew” (p. 1). This is a view shared not only by the nineteen contributors to this book who are at the fore- front of Jewish-Christian relations, but also by a growing number of religious authorities and scholars, including  even Pope Benedict XVI. In his recent book Jesus of Nazareth, the Pope states that “Jesus lived by the whole of the Law and the Prophets, as he constantly told his disciples” (p. 333). Pope Bene- dict’s affirmation of Jesus’ Jewish religious identity obviously is not intended to diminish Christian faith in Christ, and this is certainly not the intent of Garber and his book’s contributors who show us that Christians may affirm classical Christian dogmas about Christ while also acknowledging Jesus’ com- mitment to Judaism.Pope Benedict also says in Jesus of Nazareth that reading Rabbi Jacob Neusner’s book A Rabbi Talks with Jesus “has opened my eyes to the greatness of Jesus’ words” (p. 69). This statement reflects another of aim of The Jewish Jesus—to promote interfaith learning and mutual respect between and Jews. If the Pope’s appreciation of Jesus’ words can be enriched by read- ing a contemporary rabbi’s book, then surely other Christians can have their views of Jesus enhanced by reading Jewish authors. Garber wants to promote this type of interfaith learning. He trusts that when Christians and Jews learn from each other—particularly but not only about how Jesus was a faithful Jew—they are likely to see each other and each other’s religion in a new light and with greater appreciation.
For me, the essay “Before Whom Do We Stand?” by Henry Knight is a classic example of how Jewish-Christian dialogue can bring such a radical transformation. Knight details how his encounter with Zev Garber and other Jewish scholars and his study and friendship with Elie Wiesel have trans- formed his understanding of the Jewish tradition and his own Christian faith. In this essay, which is characterized by exceptional personal candor and in- tegrity, Knight states: “With each reading
Wiesel helps me see more—more about myself, more about the world in which we live, more about what happened during that night that was different than any other night and more about the people before whom I stand when I stand as a Christian before a Jew named Jesus” (pp. 323–324).
Jews and Christians, such as Garber and Knight, who have been deeply committed to the interfaith movement, are aware of the dramatic changes in the way many Christians view Judaism. The changes began in earnest with the Second Vatican Council’s extraordinary decree Nostra Aetate (1965), which affirmed that God’s covenant with the Jewish people was not revoked. In re- sponse to positive changes by Catholic and Protestant churches, in the year 2000 an interdenominational group of Jewish scholars issued “Dabru Emet [Speak the Truth]: A Jewish Statement  on Christians and Christianity,” which acknowledges that “Christians know and serve God through Jesus Christ and the Christian tradition.” Yet, despite this positive reference to Jesus, even this ground-breaking statement offers no reflection on the significance of Jesus. This is consistent with the approach of Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the most influential Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century and a great friend of some of the major Christian thinkers of his time.At a conference at the Princeton Theological Seminary on October 28,1964, Heschel gave a talk on “The Humanity of Man” in which he said: “The question is often asked of me by Christians, what is your opinion about Jesus, about Christianity?” Here is his response: “Who am I to give an opinion about one of the sublime mysteries in history, about the relations between God and men? Am I to judge? It would be vulgar, if not blasphemous, for any mortal to sit in judgment about what is intimate and sacred to other human beings.”

In one respect, Garber seems to be following in Heschel’s footsteps when he states: “It is not the  role of the synagogue to judge whether Jesus the Jew metamorphosed into the Christ of faith or that Jesus and the Christ are one and the same individual. Rather, Jews must do their homework and cleanse the people of Israel of any conceived or perceived anti-Christian  bias. . . . In- deed, Christianity is a legitimate partner in tikkun ‘olam, endowing the world in peace, understanding,  and unity” (p. 7). Garber’s aim is to examine the his- torical Jesus, not to judge whether Jesus was divine. But insofar as Garber and the other Jewish contributors  to this volume engage on an examination of the historical Jesus, they do indeed part company with Heschel.
The Jewish Jesus is divided  under three headings: “Reflections on the Jew- ish Jesus,” “Responding to the Jewish Jesus,” and “ Teaching, Dialogue, Recla- mation: Contemporary Views on the Jewish Jesus.” The book was especially conceived for classroom use. At the end of each essay there are questions that will guide the reader to its core ideas to encourage discussion. A number of the contributors, including Stephen Leonard Jacobs, James F. Moore, Henry F. Knight,  and Zev Garber, have been engaged in studying Jewish and Christian texts together for the last eighteen years. During that time they have developed good intellectual and spiritual relations, which is so central to genuine  dialogue.  The Jewish Jesus stands out for its honesty and openness. The contributors do not overlook the strong affinities between Ju- daism and Christianity, but at the same time they do not ignore the profound differences. This became clearest to me in Herbert W. Basser’s essay in which he states: “Jews are often outraged by my citing evidence that supports the early Christian claims detailing the vehemence of Jewish expression of anger and outright hatred, including officially composed curses, against the fledgling Christian religion. Christians may be angered by my claim that the official churches within a decade or so after Jesus sanctioned their saints and evan- gelists to stop at absolutely nothing within reach to delegitimatize Judaism” (p. 103). Such honesty helps us understand why genuine interfaith dialogue presents such a great challenge for Jews and Christians.The boldest Jewish theological formulations of Jesus are presented in Shaul Magid’s “The New Jewish Reclamation of Jesus in Late Twentieth-Cen- tury America: Realigning and Rethinking Jesus the Jew,” in which he explores a number of contemporary Jewish scholars’ radical views of Jesus. Perhaps the most radical view is that of Rabbi Byron Sherwin, who gives Jesus a role with- in Jewish messianic theology. Sherwin sees Jesus as a Jewish messiah and uses Jewish classical sources that claim that before the coming of the final messiah, son of David, there will come a messiah, son of Joseph, who dies to prepare the way for the final redemption. Sherwin proposes that Jews accept Jesus of Nazareth as the messiah, son of Joseph. Magid concludes correctly that Sher- win’s view is a call to accept “Jesus as a Jewish messiah in contemporary Jewish theology” (p. 369). It would be a mistake to think that Sherwin wants to oblit- erate the unique and holy treasures of Judaism or Christianity in any way. For Sherwin, as for all the contributors to this volume, Judaism and Christianity remain two distinct religious traditions.
In my view, one of the gems in this volume is the article by Christina M. Smerick titled “ Taking Thomas to Temple: Introducing Evangelicals to the Jewish Jesus.” This article is based on intensive interviews that the author had with her colleagues in the religion and philosophy departments at Greenville College in Illinois. All the professors who teach courses which deal in some sense with Jesus and Judaism find that their students are extremely challenged by these courses. Smerick writes that the reason for this is “because one of the most consistent messages from the church is that Jesus was exemplary and utterly unique in his work and message. . . and presented a radical break from the Judaism of his day. . . . The historically Gentile church has portrayed Jesus as far more of a Gentile or radical outsider than a participating member of the Jewish community” (p. 275). Fortunately, scholars like Smerick, Garber, and the others associated with this book are spreading the word about Jesus’ Jewishness and its significance for Christian-Jewish relations. One of the most important essays for me is Eugene  J. Fisher’s “ Typical Jewish Misunderstandings of Christ, Christianity, and Jewish-Christian Rela- tions over the Centuries.” Fisher, who has devoted more than forty years to Jewish-Christian dialogue, is best known for correcting Christian misunder- standing of the Jewish tradition. In this essay, however, he helps us understand how throughout the ages Jews have misunderstood Jesus and Christianity, often because they fail to appreciate the complexity or diversity of theologi- cal positions found among Christians. The following is one example given by Fisher of a Jewish misunderstanding  of Christianity: “Christianity is ascetic because it is other-worldly, and is based on the notion that faith alone, irrespective of one’s actual physical deeds, is necessary for salvation. The latter statement, of course, equates a certain interpretation of the thought of Luther with that of all Christians” (p.
235). He cites Eliezer Berkovits, one of the most influential Orthodox Jewish Philosophers of the twentieth century, who has written that “Christianity is an other-worldly religion. It has no use for this world and no respect for it” (p. 235). Fisher is an expert in both the Jewish and Christian traditions; his views must be considered seriously.Steven Leonard Jacobs concludes his valuable essay “Can We Talk? The Jewish Jesus in a Dialogue Between Jews and Christians” with a quotation from Yossi Klein Halevi, and I find a quotation from Halevi appropriate to share as I draw this review to a close. In his book At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land, Halevi tells of being  asked by a Christian, “How do you see Jesus?” His an- swer: “I feel love for Jesus. . . . Obviously I don’t love Jesus the way you do. For me Jesus isn’t the world redeemer, but he did bring a measure of redemption into the world by drawing so many souls to God” (p. 209). For nearly two thousand years, views about Jesus have often caused con- flict between Jews and Christians. Today, however, thanks to the efforts of in- terfaith pioneers like Yossi Klein Halevi and Zev Garber, there are views about Jesus that are fostering harmony and love rather than conflict. I am hopeful that the enlightening  views found in The Jewish  Jesus will advance Jewish- Christian friendship.

Harold Kasimow
Department of Religious Studies
Grinnell College

Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 47:2, Spring 2012

    This collection of essays aims to draw out the implications—for contemporary Jews, Christians, and the Jewish-Christian dialogue—of the fact that “the incarnate Christ of Christian belief lived and died a faithful Jew” (p. 1). The nineteen essays fall under three rubrics: (1) “Reflections on the Jewish Jesus,” which includes considerations of Jesus, e.g., within the merkebah tradition (Bruce Chilton) and as an ancient Jewish thaumaturge (James F. Moore); (2) “Responding to the Jewish Jesus,” which treats, inter alia, the parting of the ways (Richard L. Rubenstein), possible pre-modern images of the Jewish Jesus (Norman Simms), and a historical survey of typical Jewish misunderstandings of Christianity (Eugene J. Fisher); and (3) “Teaching, Dialogue, Reclamation: Contemporary Views on the Jewish Jesus,” which brings the discussion up to the present with a wide thematic and practical range, from Edith Stein’s understanding of Jesus as her own Jewish spouse (Emily Leah Silverman) to how the Jewish Jesus is variously addressed at one Evangelical Christian college in the United States (Christina M. Smerick).
    Situating Jesus in sundry Jewish milieux, this volume offers a thematically, historically, and methodologically rich palette that will prove useful for students and scholars of scripture, ancient Judaism and Christianity, the Jewish-Christian relationship throughout history, and contemporary interreligious dialogue. Garber’s specific aim is to promote the current scriptural dialogue between Jews and Christians by (1) encouraging Christians to proclaim their faith in Jesus without having recourse to the long tradition of anti-Judaism, and (2) encouraging Jews to become more aware of and sensitive to the faith claims of Christianity that grow out of Judaism in various ways. Whereas precisely such interreligious work is both noble and absolutely necessary in our post-Holocaust world, the search for common interreligious ground can lead religious practitioners to overlook or surrender—perhaps unwittingly—distinctive elements of their respective traditions. Garber seems to recognize this common danger and his own susceptibility to it: “Participants in Jewish-Christian scriptural dialogue aim to show the interdependence of Jewish and Christian biblical traditions and do so by truncating the cultural, historical, psychological, religious, and theological differences between them. Some may see this and the absence of sustained critical discussion of texts and historical issues as a major weakness, but I do not” (p. 3).
    Such a potentially hazardous truncation of theological distinctives is exemplified in Moore’s essay, “The Amazing Mr. Jesus,” whose title suggests Moore’s purpose of “pushing the discussion behind the dogmas” (p. 45). In an interesting midrash on Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14) in light of the death of Aaron (Numbers 20), Moore concludes that the water from the rock and the feeding of the hungry must mean, after Auschwitz, that neither Jews nor Christians can any longer see death as a redemptive necessity. Rather, only a present or future event can redeem present terror. Whereas such a reading has great potential to encourage Christian moral action and to build interreligious bridges, it may appear to some Christians (1) to demand that Matthew 14 be isolated from its larger Gospel framework, to which the passion narrative and Jesus’ redemptive death is central; and (2) to replace the traditional conviction that Christ saves humankind (see Mt. 1:21) with the notion that redemption depends principally on human agency.
    Finally, the volume contains numerous, glaring copyediting errors: “on” for “own” (p. 20, line 10), “brakes” for “breaks” (p. 42, l. 19), “an” for “and” (p. 236, l. 17), “Chrysostum” for “Chrysostom” (p. 238, l. 31), omission of “to” and “in” (p. 333, ll. 15 and 23, respectively), etc. Despite these shortcomings, this collection will prove engaging and beneficial to a wide range of students, scholars, and lay readers.

Franklin T. Harkins, Fordham University, Bronx, NY

Jewish Libraries Reviews Newsletter, September/October 2012 Volume II, No. 3

The Jewish Jesus is an outstanding collection of 19 essays: each deals with the Jewish nature of Jesus in the

context of history and theology. A number of the essays were originally presented at a symposium on “Jesus

in the Context of Judaism and the Challenge to the Church,” hosted by the Samuel Rosenthal Center for Judaic

Studies at Case Western University in 2009.

Part one is an historical examination of Jesus based upon classical texts, including kabbalah, various mystical

tracts, and Midrashim, with the notion that he was a rebel Nazarene Rabbi. Part two is devoted to the relationship

of Judaism to Christianity in broad, thematic terms. Particular focus is placed on the tensions that emerged

once Christianity was firmly established and conflicted with its theological and cultural origins, along with

what is considered as Jewish misunderstandings of Jesus. Part three is a diverse collection of essays that deal

with Jewish scholarship on Jesus and the impact of Judaism on the belief system brought about following the

demise of Jesus. One argument presented in this section is an analysis of four Jewish thinkers’ reclamation of

the true origins of Jesus, providing a service to inter-faith discussions. Questions at the end of each essay guide

the readers in further discussions examining ideas that are presented. Overall, this is a testament to the vitality

of a continuing Jewish-Christian dialogue as well as a subject for study by Christian bible scholars and those

interested in early Church history.  - Sanford R. Silverburg, Catawba College, Salisbury, NC

THE JEWISH JESUS: REVELATION, REFLECTION, RECLAMATION.
Edited by Zev Garber. Pp. 405. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue
University Press, 2011. Paper, $59.95
Through the centuries, the relationships between Christians and Jews have all too frequently been characterized by mistrust and even hatred on both sides. More recently, the atmosphere has shifted, first because of the Shoah, and second because of Vatican II and Nostra Aetate. Thus, there is greater openness between Jew and Christian than ever before, and the recent spate of books concerned with Jewish-Christian relations attests to this.
Indeed Zev Garber, the editor of this book, cites several examples (p. 9 n. 1).
Obviously, Jesus is the central figure in Christianity. For Judaism, he is much more peripheral, yet because he lived and died within Judaism, it is pertinent to assess what he means—if anything—for Jews and Judaism today. Thus, he is the common denominator for all the essays in this book. Zev Garber presents nineteen essays by Jewish and Christian authors on Jesus, specifically Jesus as a Jew. The book emerged from a three-day conference in 2009 entitled “Jesus in the Context of Judaism and the Challenge to the Church” (p. 8). Approximately half the essays originated in that conference; the remainder were invited for the volume (p. 8).
The book is divided into three parts: “Reflections on the Jewish Jesus” (chapters 1–7), “Responding to the Jewish Jesus” (chapters 8–12), and “Teaching, Dialogue, Reclamation: Contemporary Views on the Jewish Jesus” (chapters 13–19).
The first section, “Reflections,” primarily deals with Jesus as presented in the New Testament and by prophecy from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Garber (pp. 13–19) begins with an essay on the New Testament as midrash, an interpretation of Jesus’ life and message, and finds that he was a Zealot sympathizer (p. 14). Bruce Chilton follows with a discussion of Jesus’ Kabbalah; that is, his mystical union with the spirit of God, and compares him to Elijah (pp. 20–35). James F. Moore, in his essay, “The Amazing Mr. Jesus” (pp. 36–46), considers Jesus to be the “oral Torah” for Christians (p. 36) and discusses how to understand Jesus’ miracles (p. 37).
He cites two of Roy A. Eckhardt’s books, but never really clarifies how they figure into his argument that only a future event, rather than a past event, canbe redemptive (p. 45). Joshua Schwartz discusses the archaeology of daily life in first-century
Palestine, particularly the rural areas where Jesus lived (pp. 47–64), including housing (pp. 51–53), kitchen utensils (pp. 54–55), crops (p. 56), crafts (pp. 58–59), clothing (pp. 59–60), and tombs (pp. 60–61), in order to give a sense of how Jesus likely lived.
Ziony Zevit evaluates the “Jesus Stories” and the characteristics of ancient story (pp. 65–92). Such stories circulated independently both before and after the Gospels were written. This study considers which stories migh thave been acceptable to their Jewish audience, and which not (pp. 68–69), in particular because of Paul, who focused so completely on Jesus’ crucifixionand resurrection (p. 66). Continuing the theme of Jesus’ reception history, Herbert Besser discusses Jewish reaction to Jesus through the centuries (pp.93–105).
Rivka Ulmer provides a detailed analysis of the text, both Masoretic and Septuagint, of Psalm 22 (MT) and its relation to messianic suffering (pp. 106–128). This psalm was not considered to be a messianic text by the rabbis (p. 108), so there is relatively little in Jewish sources concerning it. The second section, “Responding to the Jewish Jesus,” contains five essays about subsequent interpretations of Jesus through history. Richard Rubenstein considers how the ways parted, in particular through the concept
of human sacrifice in the Bible (pp. 131–158). He agrees with Jon Levenson that the Aqeda was in fact God’s demand for Isaac’s sacrifice (p. 131). He discusses the consequences of this interpretation, and also points out that the Lord’s Supper, originally a fellowship meal, took on a sacrificial motif (pp.147–148).
Yitzchak Kerem discusses the Hellenization of Jesus, his transformation from the “actual Jewish Jesus” (p. 159) to his transformation to the Greek Jesus (pp. 159–180). He also considers Jesus’ setting, the very common Jewish names of Jesus (Joshua) and his parents (pp. 162–163), and contends that the Last Supper was not a Seder (pp. 166–167). His essay is somewhat marred by the fact that he cites a Wikipedia article on the Last Supper (p. 168 and p. 179 n. 40). Surely he could have found something more academically rigorous on this subject.
Steven Bowman considers a later period, the tenth and eleventh centuries in Byzantium, and finds responses to Byzantine Christianity in internal Jewish texts (pp. 181–203). Norman Simms discusses a later period, premodern Europe, and analyzes three specific English texts with caricatures of Jews (pp. 204–227). The final essay of this section, by Eugene Fischer, argues for a more nuanced understanding of Christianity by Jews (pp. 228– 248). Notably, the Middle Ages was not an unremittingly negative time for Jews (p. 243).
The final section, “Contemporary Views,” contains six essays. Michael Cook chastises Jewish scholars for a too-ready acceptance of the Gospel accounts (pp. 251–270). In particular he points to nine topics with Gospel textual issues, such as the Last Supper (pp. 254–257), the Sanhedrin trial(pp. 257–259), and Jesus’ observance of Mosaic law (pp. 264–265), among others. Christina Smerick investigated how students at a small midwestern evangelical Christian college perceived the Jewishness of Jesus before and after courses on the subject through questionnaires and interviews (pp. 271–292). She includes results of a focus group of ten students who discussed their changing perceptions (pp. 286–289). Sara Mandell discusses whether Jesus might be perceived as a prophet by Jews or Christians (pp. 293–314). She concludes that generally neither group tends to consider him so (p. 302). Of course, traditionally, Jews have held that prophecy ceased with Malachi.
Henry Knight examines the impact on the Holocaust on contemporary Jewish-Christian relations (pp. 315–332) and discusses the seminal question of whether Christianity must be supersessionary (p. 328). Emily Leah Silverman takes up the case of Edith Stein, the Jewish philosophy professor turned Carmelite nun (pp. 333–344). Stein truly thought of herself as an atonement on behalf of her unbelieving people (p. 339), and that she was of the same bloodline as her Jewish husband, Jesus (p. 333). Steven Leonard Jacobs examines four questions for future dialogue about Jesus (pp. 345– 357), striking a universalist theme about Jesus’ mission (p. 348).
In the final essay, Shaul Magid discusses further whether Jesus has a place in Judaism, and if so, what that place is (pp. 358–382). As with any compilation, the essays vary in tone and quality; however, I found all to be fascinating and provocative, presenting new ways to look at old questions. A notable feature is the two to four discussion questions at the end of each chapter, after the conclusion and before the endnotes. All but one of the chapters includes these. (The exception is Silverman’s essay on Edith Stein, pp. 338–344.) While some chapters include questions that could be answered simply by scanning back over the chapter itself, most are thought-provoking springboards for deeper reflection and group discussion. I can imagine this book being used in synagogues, churches, and interfaith groups as a way to initiate discussion of difficult topics, although the book’s cost may be prohibitive for smaller libraries. The book is attractively printed and bound, and the type is clear. I did note some disappointing aspects. There are too many typos in the book, such as “on” for “own” (p. 20, line 10) and “brakes” for “breaks” (p. 42, midway down), to give just two of many examples. Fortunately, they generally do not interfere with the text’s readability; at most, they make some sentences awkward. A word rendered in Hebrew letters (p. 168) is written completely backwards, although two other shorter Hebrew words in a different essay are written correctly (p. 112). The lone quotation in Greek
(p. 190) shows typesetting problems with the font, vowels, and accent marks. Perhaps this press is not used to dealing with non-Roman alphabets. Fortunately, other Hebrew and Greek words are given only in transliteration as well as translation, thus bypassing the problem. These quibbles aside, this book is a valuable addition to the growing literature in the field of Jewish-Christian relations; it provides much food for thought for Jew and Christian alike.
Marilyn C. Kincaid
St. Louis University
St. Louis, MO 63108
mckincaid@swbell.net

Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies - Harold Kasimow

Shofar ♦ An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Vo. 30, No. 3, 2012

The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation, edited by Zev Garber. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2011. 405 pp. $59.95.

Zev Garber, distinguished scholar of Judaica and editor of The Jewish Jesus, dedicates this volume to its “courageous and devoted” contributors: “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.”
This dedication helps us understand the primary aim of this volume, which is to show that Jesus was firmly rooted in his Jewish religious identity, that, as Garber claims,“he lived and died as a faithful Jew” (p. 1). This is a view shared not only by the nineteen contributors to this book who are at the fore- front of Jewish-Christian relations, but also by a growing number of religious authorities and scholars, including even Pope Benedict XVI. In his recent book Jesus of Nazareth, the Pope states that “Jesus lived by the whole of the Law and the Prophets, as he constantly told his disciples” (p. 333). Pope Bene- dict’s affirmation of Jesus’ Jewish religious identity obviously is not intended to diminish Christian faith in Christ, and this is certainly not the intent of Garber and his book’s contributors who show us that Christians may affirm classical Christian dogmas about Christ while also acknowledging Jesus’ com- mitment to Judaism.Pope Benedict also says in Jesus of Nazareth that reading Rabbi Jacob Neusner’s book A Rabbi Talks with Jesus “has opened my eyes to the greatness of Jesus’ words” (p. 69). This statement reflects another of aim of The Jewish Jesus—to promote interfaith learning and mutual respect between and Jews. If the Pope’s appreciation of Jesus’ words can be enriched by read- ing a contemporary rabbi’s book, then surely other Christians can have their views of Jesus enhanced by reading Jewish authors. Garber wants to promote this type of interfaith learning. He trusts that when Christians and Jews learn from each other—particularly but not only about how Jesus was a faithful Jew—they are likely to see each other and each other’s religion in a new light and with greater appreciation.
For me, the essay “Before Whom Do We Stand?” by Henry Knight is a classic example of how Jewish-Christian dialogue can bring such a radical transformation. Knight details how his encounter with Zev Garber and other Jewish scholars and his study and friendship with Elie Wiesel have trans- formed his understanding of the Jewish tradition and his own Christian faith. In this essay, which is characterized by exceptional personal candor and in- tegrity, Knight states: “With each reading
Wiesel helps me see more—more about myself, more about the world in which we live, more about what happened during that night that was different than any other night and more about the people before whom I stand when I stand as a Christian before a Jew named Jesus” (pp. 323–324).
Jews and Christians, such as Garber and Knight, who have been deeply committed to the interfaith movement, are aware of the dramatic changes in the way many Christians view Judaism. The changes began in earnest with the Second Vatican Council’s extraordinary decree Nostra Aetate (1965), which affirmed that God’s covenant with the Jewish people was not revoked. In re- sponse to positive changes by Catholic and Protestant churches, in the year 2000 an interdenominational group of Jewish scholars issued “Dabru Emet [Speak the Truth]: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity,” which acknowledges that “Christians know and serve God through Jesus Christ and the Christian tradition.” Yet, despite this positive reference to Jesus, even this ground-breaking statement offers no reflection on the significance of Jesus. This is consistent with the approach of Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the most influential Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century and a great friend of some of the major Christian thinkers of his time.At a conference at the Princeton Theological Seminary on October 28,1964, Heschel gave a talk on “The Humanity of Man” in which he said: “The question is often asked of me by Christians, what is your opinion about Jesus, about Christianity?” Here is his response: “Who am I to give an opinion about one of the sublime mysteries in history, about the relations between God and men? Am I to judge? It would be vulgar, if not blasphemous, for any mortal to sit in judgment about what is intimate and sacred to other human beings.”

In one respect, Garber seems to be following in Heschel’s footsteps when he states: “It is not the role of the synagogue to judge whether Jesus the Jew metamorphosed into the Christ of faith or that Jesus and the Christ are one and the same individual. Rather, Jews must do their homework and cleanse the people of Israel of any conceived or perceived anti-Christian bias. . . . In- deed, Christianity is a legitimate partner in tikkun ‘olam, endowing the world in peace, understanding, and unity” (p. 7). Garber’s aim is to examine the his- torical Jesus, not to judge whether Jesus was divine. But insofar as Garber and the other Jewish contributors to this volume engage on an examination of the historical Jesus, they do indeed part company with Heschel.
The Jewish Jesus is divided under three headings: “Reflections on the Jew- ish Jesus,” “Responding to the Jewish Jesus,” and “ Teaching, Dialogue, Recla- mation: Contemporary Views on the Jewish Jesus.” The book was especially conceived for classroom use. At the end of each essay there are questions that will guide the reader to its core ideas to encourage discussion. A number of the contributors, including Stephen Leonard Jacobs, James F. Moore, Henry F. Knight, and Zev Garber, have been engaged in studying Jewish and Christian texts together for the last eighteen years. During that time they have developed good intellectual and spiritual relations, which is so central to genuine dialogue. The Jewish Jesus stands out for its honesty and openness. The contributors do not overlook the strong affinities between Ju- daism and Christianity, but at the same time they do not ignore the profound differences. This became clearest to me in Herbert W. Basser’s essay in which he states: “Jews are often outraged by my citing evidence that supports the early Christian claims detailing the vehemence of Jewish expression of anger and outright hatred, including officially composed curses, against the fledgling Christian religion. Christians may be angered by my claim that the official churches within a decade or so after Jesus sanctioned their saints and evan- gelists to stop at absolutely nothing within reach to delegitimatize Judaism” (p. 103). Such honesty helps us understand why genuine interfaith dialogue presents such a great challenge for Jews and Christians.The boldest Jewish theological formulations of Jesus are presented in Shaul Magid’s “The New Jewish Reclamation of Jesus in Late Twentieth-Cen- tury America: Realigning and Rethinking Jesus the Jew,” in which he explores a number of contemporary Jewish scholars’ radical views of Jesus. Perhaps the most radical view is that of Rabbi Byron Sherwin, who gives Jesus a role with- in Jewish messianic theology. Sherwin sees Jesus as a Jewish messiah and uses Jewish classical sources that claim that before the coming of the final messiah, son of David, there will come a messiah, son of Joseph, who dies to prepare the way for the final redemption. Sherwin proposes that Jews accept Jesus of Nazareth as the messiah, son of Joseph. Magid concludes correctly that Sher- win’s view is a call to accept “Jesus as a Jewish messiah in contemporary Jewish theology” (p. 369). It would be a mistake to think that Sherwin wants to oblit- erate the unique and holy treasures of Judaism or Christianity in any way. For Sherwin, as for all the contributors to this volume, Judaism and Christianity remain two distinct religious traditions.
In my view, one of the gems in this volume is the article by Christina M. Smerick titled “ Taking Thomas to Temple: Introducing Evangelicals to the Jewish Jesus.” This article is based on intensive interviews that the author had with her colleagues in the religion and philosophy departments at Greenville College in Illinois. All the professors who teach courses which deal in some sense with Jesus and Judaism find that their students are extremely challenged by these courses. Smerick writes that the reason for this is “because one of the most consistent messages from the church is that Jesus was exemplary and utterly unique in his work and message. . . and presented a radical break from the Judaism of his day. . . . The historically Gentile church has portrayed Jesus as far more of a Gentile or radical outsider than a participating member of the Jewish community” (p. 275). Fortunately, scholars like Smerick, Garber, and the others associated with this book are spreading the word about Jesus’ Jewishness and its significance for Christian-Jewish relations. One of the most important essays for me is Eugene J. Fisher’s “ Typical Jewish Misunderstandings of Christ, Christianity, and Jewish-Christian Rela- tions over the Centuries.” Fisher, who has devoted more than forty years to Jewish-Christian dialogue, is best known for correcting Christian misunder- standing of the Jewish tradition. In this essay, however, he helps us understand how throughout the ages Jews have misunderstood Jesus and Christianity, often because they fail to appreciate the complexity or diversity of theologi- cal positions found among Christians. The following is one example given by Fisher of a Jewish misunderstanding of Christianity: “Christianity is ascetic because it is other-worldly, and is based on the notion that faith alone, irrespective of one’s actual physical deeds, is necessary for salvation. The latter statement, of course, equates a certain interpretation of the thought of Luther with that of all Christians” (p.
235). He cites Eliezer Berkovits, one of the most influential Orthodox Jewish Philosophers of the twentieth century, who has written that “Christianity is an other-worldly religion. It has no use for this world and no respect for it” (p. 235). Fisher is an expert in both the Jewish and Christian traditions; his views must be considered seriously.Steven Leonard Jacobs concludes his valuable essay “Can We Talk? The Jewish Jesus in a Dialogue Between Jews and Christians” with a quotation from Yossi Klein Halevi, and I find a quotation from Halevi appropriate to share as I draw this review to a close. In his book At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land, Halevi tells of being asked by a Christian, “How do you see Jesus?” His an- swer: “I feel love for Jesus. . . . Obviously I don’t love Jesus the way you do. For me Jesus isn’t the world redeemer, but he did bring a measure of redemption into the world by drawing so many souls to God” (p. 209). For nearly two thousand years, views about Jesus have often caused con- flict between Jews and Christians. Today, however, thanks to the efforts of in- terfaith pioneers like Yossi Klein Halevi and Zev Garber, there are views about Jesus that are fostering harmony and love rather than conflict. I am hopeful that the enlightening views found in The Jewish Jesus will advance Jewish- Christian friendship.

Harold Kasimow
Department of Religious Studies
Grinnell College

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Zev Garber is professor emeritus and chair of Jewish Studies and Philosophy at Los Angeles Valley College and has served as visiting professor of Religious Studies at University of California at Riverside, Visiting Rosenthal Professor of Judaic Studies at Case Western Reserve University, and as president of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of two academic series, Studies in Shoah (UPA) and Shofar Supplements in Jewish Studies (Purdue University Press), and serves as co-editor of Shofar.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Section 1 Reflections on the Jewish Jesus

1 The Jewish Jesus: A Partisans Imagination Zev Garber 13

2 The Kabbalah of Rabbi Jesus Bruce Chilton 20

3 The Amazing Mr. Jesus James F. Moore 36

4 Jesus the "Material Jew" Joshua Schwartz 47

5 Jesus Stories, Jewish Liturgy, and Some Evolving Theologies until circa 200 CE: Stimuli and Reactions Ziony Zevit 65

6 Avon Gilyon (Document of Sin, b. Shabb.116a) or Euvanggeleon (Good News) Herbert W. Basser 93

7 Psalm 22 in Pesiqta Rabbati: The Suffering of the Jewish Messiah and Jesus Rivka Ulmer 106

Section 2 Responding to the Jewish Jesus

8 What Was at Stake in the Parting of the Ways between Judaism and Christianity? Richard L. Rubenstein 131

9 The Jewish and Greek Jesus Yitzchak Kerem 159

10 Jewish Responses to Byzantine Polemics from the Ninth through the Eleventh Centuries Steven Bowman 181

11 A Meditation on Possible Images of Jewish Jesus in the Pre-Modern Period Norman Simms 204

12 Typical Jewish Misunderstandings of Christ, Christianity, and Jewish-Christian Relations over the Centuries Eugene J. Fisher 228

Section 3 Teaching, Dialogue, Reclamation: Contemporary Views on the Jewish Jesus

13 How Credible is Jewish Scholarship on Jesus? Michael J. Cook 251

14 Taking Thomas to Temple: Introducing Evangelicals to the Jewish Jesus Christina M. Smerick 271

15 The Historical Jesus as Jewish Prophet: Its Meaning for the Modern Jewish-Christian Dialogue Sara Mandell 293

16 Before Whom Do We Stand? Henry F. Knight 315

17 Edith Steins Jewish Husband Jesus Emily Leah Silverman 333

18 Can We Talk? The Jewish Jesus in a Dialogue Between Jews and Christians Steven Leonard Jacobs 345

19 The New Jewish Reclamation of Jesus in Late Twentieth-Century America: Realigning and Rethinking Jesus the Jew Shaul Magid 358

Annotated Bibliography 383

Contributors 394

Index 401

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