A real gem of a book and badly needed. Scholars of the highest caliber, they lay out the logic and consistency of each religious interpretation, thus nurturing mutual, informed respect and dialogue. Highly recommended.
"How can Jews and Christians read the Scriptures they share without denigrating each other’s interpretations? This book is an extraordinary effort to guide us through our readings of the Bible while respecting the differences of our traditions. The world has been waiting for two thousand years for this book!"
This exploration invites both Jews and Christians to look at texts whose meanings we take for granted and see them from the other side. It is a delightful read through a mind-opening adventure that will do more for Jewish-Christian relations than many official documents."
"In an age where polemics and talking past one another is common, the appeal to respectful interpretation and dialogue is refreshing and helpful. Perhaps it is not too much to expect that we see ourselves as others see us or see our sacred texts as others see them. Highly recommended."
Imbued with the best of modern biblical scholarship, which particularly shines in the moving treatment of the Sermon on the Mount, and written clearly and beautifully, this accessible study is highly recommended for all students of the Bible.
A book like this has been greatly needed. It should get wide use.
A must read for all concerned with peace and well-being in our civil societies in their rich diversity.
Jews and Christians read the Bible with different histories, interpretations, contexts, and emphases. How can the two understand each other better? No two persons are better suited to answer this question than Brettler and Levine. It requires expertise in the Bible itself and in the history of interpretation. These two respected scholars bring that dual expertise with style, clarity, wit, and visible honesty. They replace ignorance with mutual respect, and replace polemics with possibilities. Truly a book for everyone.
Levine (New Testament, Vanderbilt Univ.) and Brettler (Judaic studies, Duke Univ.) had previously collaborated to produce The Jewish Annotated New Testament. This new project focuses on the lenses by which Christians call the Old Testament and Jews frequently refer to as the Tanakh is interpreted. For Christians, that would be Jesus, while Jews look to their shared experience as filtered through the Talmud. Using stories and passages most familiar to Christians, Levine and Brettler attempt to reconstruct possible ways these passages might originally have been heard. They then look at the various reinterpretations of the text in the first centuries BCE and CE, how they diverged according to Christian and Jewish belief, and the subtle and not-so-subtle polemics that were then developed. VERDICT Previously, Levine and Brettler have provided support for the idea that Christians and Jews should view the New Testament as Jewish literature. Here, they go a step further to argue that the scriptures that some call the Old Testament and others the Tanakh owe their meanings to the communities in which their interpretations have developed, effectively showing how the separate interpretations may never converge, but the integrity of each can be appreciated.—James Wetherbee, Wingate Univ. Libs., NC
An ecumenical look at the Bible.
Biblical scholars Levine and Brettler, editors of The Jewish Annotated New Testament, tackle the worthy yet weighty task of examining the Jewish Scriptures through both Jewish and Christian eyes, seeking to promote further understanding between adherents of both religions. The authors make clear that while both Jews and Christians have similar beliefs regarding what is variously called the Tanakh, the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Bible, the lenses through which each religion views these Scriptures—as reflecting either the story of Israel or the story of Christ—are quite different. Additionally, the original hearers and readers of these Scriptures viewed the texts through yet a third type of lens. Demonstrating how these three views of Scripture differ from and interact with each other, Levine and Brettler hope “to foster a different future, where Jews and Christians come to understand each other’s positions and beliefs, and at the minimum, respectfully agree to disagree.” To perform this task, the authors present 10 passages or themes from the Tanakh and examine how each has been read in different eras and across various faith traditions. These passages all tie in closely with the Christian understanding of its own faith tradition, yet some may not be as essential to Jewish readers—e.g., the story of Adam and Eve, the priesthood of Melchizedek, the Suffering Servant in Isaiah, the story of Jonah. In each case, the authors provide context for the theme based on other Scriptures and on what scholars know of the language, culture, and events of the time. They go on to explain how the Scripture in question has been viewed by both Christians and Jews and why and how modern believers might be able to find a common ground of understanding and tolerance between these interpretations.
A thorough, readable addition to the consistently fecund Jewish-Christian conversation.