- Marco Rubio: U.S. at social, moral crossroads
- ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
- White flags baffle NYPD: ‘We’re lucky it wasn’t a bomb’
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo’s office interfered with, pressured corruption commission: report
- Brit lawmaker: I would fire on Israel if I lived in Gaza
- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
Jewish scholars dare to bridge religious divide
Question of the Day
Annotated Bibles don’t often make headlines, but “The Jewish Annotated New Testament” (Oxford University Press) - the title alone is enough to provoke spirited discussion - has caused a stir.
Co-edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, Bible scholars at Vanderbilt and Brandeis respectively, the volume is proving controversial because of what it says about the very close relationship between Christianity and Judaism. Jewish scholars of the New Testament are saying, effectively, “This is our book, too.”
The annotated Bible shot up to #31 overall on the Amazon best-seller list over Thanksgiving, and it continues to do well among religious books. Sales of its hardcover and Kindle editions now rank #1 and #3, respectively, in the online bookseller’s Jewish History of Religion category.
Most notices of the book have a Rorschach-test-results quality to them. The New York Times advertised the arrival, finally, of an annotated New Testament not aimed at proselytizing. The Christian Science Monitor viewed it as one more marker of “a notable period of reconciliation and bridge-building between Jewish and Christian communities.” The Jewish Daily Forward used it as a jumping-off point to discuss the near ostracism of Jewish novelist Sholem Asch for publishing “The Nazarene,” a sympathetic portrait of a very Jewish Jesus, in 1939.
The editors of this volume have in mind different take-aways for Jewish and Christian readers: They want Jews to become more comfortable with the Christian holy book and Christians to be more comfortable with its Jewishness.
Ms. Levine recalls the story of her aunt, who wondered why her Jewish niece had acquired an unfortunate interest in the Christian holy book. When Ms. Levine challenged her - “Have you read it?” - the aunt replied, “No, why would I read that hateful, anti-Semitic disgusting book?”
Now, having digested that disgusting book and taught it for the past 15 years at Vanderbilt, Ms. Levine told the New York Times, “The more I study the New Testament, the better Jew I become.”
Mr. Brettler seconds that notion. He told the Forward that Jews should no longer regard the New Testament as “dangerous,” but rather “important for Judaism.”
That is an intriguing claim; let’s come back to it after considering the book’s prospects with Christian readers, whose long-term buy-in may prove more elusive than the editors imagine.
As its title indicates, “The Jewish Annotated New Testament” is an annotation, not a translation, of the New Revised Standard Version of the New Testament. The NRSV is a relatively new translation and is not terribly popular with many Christians (for reasons unrelated to this project), so any annotated version starts with a strike against it.
Further, Christians who are not scholars may have a hard time wrapping their heads around the need for this particular New Testament - as I discovered while reading it publicly. My conversations with maybe half a dozen evangelical Christians in my small town all went something like this:
Composite Evangelical: What is that?
JL: “The Jewish Annotated New Testament.” It’s what 50 Jewish scholars have to say about the New Testament.
CE: What kind of Jews?
JL: Come again?
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized War College master's thesis: report
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Hezbollah warring in Syria could join fight against Israel
- Netanyahu's Wikipedia page replaced with giant Palestinian flag
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
- Pro-Russia rebel commander suggests passengers died days before Malaysian flight
- TYRRELL: The birth of a new alignment in the Middle East
- Despite rhetoric, gun prosecutions plummet under Obama
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq