The Jewish Annotated New Testament
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Unique to this work is its demonstration of how utterly Jewish are the writings of the New Testament, not only in relation to their Old Testament heritage but also to the faith and culture of their origin. A major contribution of this work are the notes that list close similarities between New Testament statements and the writings of post-biblical Judaism, especially the Mishnah and Talmud (described in a helpful glossary).The claim that the New Testament are "utterly Jewish" will, I believe, cause some consternation amongst some in this forum. My question then is this: if the Jewish scholars who produced this book see the connections, why should we reject them?
The editors, who deserve our lasting gratitude, describe the two-fold purpose of this book. The first is to invite Jewish readers to see the New Testament as a way of understanding their own religious heritage. This is itself a tribute to the growth in understanding between Jews and Christians over the past decades. The New Testament for the most part contains writings by Jews and for Jews who accepted Jesus as a Jewish prophet and a messiah. Jewish readers will find significant information on first century Jewish practice, beliefs and lives of ordinary people, including monotheistic faith at the center of life, cycle of festivals and religious groups, along with insight into the social and economic context of first-century Judaism.
But Christians, the second intended category of readers, may benefit most. The 18 extended essays that follow the commentaries could qualify as an independent collection and are themselves, to use a commonplace, “worth the price of the book.” I would highlight the initial essay by Amy-Jill Levine, “Bearing False Witness: Common Errors Made About Early Judaism”; I recommend that it be read first. While others will have their favorites I found especially helpful the essays “The Law,” “Jewish Movements of the New Testament Period,” “Messianic Movements,” “The Concept of Neighbor in Jewish and Christian Ethics” and “Afterlife and Resurrection.”
But lawecon, who is the one who has espoused the opposite view if I remember rightly, has also pointed out that the essence of Judaism is argument between scholars, so although he may disagree with these scholars, as long as they have good reasons to support their position there should be no consternation...