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The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus [Hardcover]

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Item Number 56202  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   250
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2007
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0060789662  
EAN  9780060789664  

Availability  0 units.

Alternate Formats List Price Our Price Item Number Availability
Hardcover $ 24.95 $ 21.21 56202
Paperback $ 15.99 $ 13.59 68965 In Stock
Item Description...
A leading biblical scholar demonstrates how both liberal and conservative Christians share a fundamental misunderstanding of Judaism and the New Testament that directly contributes to intolerance and anti-Semitism, in a guide that invites Christian and Jewish readers to develop fuller understandings of Jesus and the gospels.

Publishers Description

Country Western singer Kinky Friedman often performs a song entitled "They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore," and New Testament professor Amy–Jill Levine would agree. In fact, her career is dedicated to helping Christians and Jews understand the Jewishness of Jesus, thereby deepening the understanding of him, and facilitating greater interfaith dialogue. In this book, she shows how liberal Christians misunderstand Judaism, misunderstand the New Testament, and thus yank Jesus out of his Jewish context and wind up promoting hatred of Jews. Only with the deeper understanding this top Jewish, Southern–born New Testament scholar provides can we hope to respect each other's beliefs, as well as enrich our own.

Through a extremely busy teaching and speaking schedule, Levine has honed her message at synagogues, Catholic conferences, Jewish Community Centers, denominational meetings, in the classroom and in her highly successful Teaching Company audios and videos. Levine is brilliant, charming, funny and forceful, and uses these traits to give a completely fresh perspective on Jesus and the New Testament. In addition to offering new insights with great skill, she has the remarkable ability to be tough, pointing out how even liberal Christians can be unwittingly anti–Semitic in their understanding of what Jesus stood for.Her truth–telling here will provoke honest dialogue on how Christians and Jews should understand Jesus and our New Testament heritage.

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More About Amy-Jill Levine

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Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at the Divinity School, College of Arts and Science, Graduate Department of Religion, and Program in Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.
Marc Z. Brettler is Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies at Brandeis University.

Amy-Jill Levine was born in 1956 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Vanderbilt University, Tennessee.

Amy-Jill Levine has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Feminist Companion New Test Early Chris Writ
  2. Feminist Companion to the New Testament and Early Christian Writ
  3. Feminist Companion to the New Testament and Early Christian Writ
  4. SkyLight Illuminations

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General   [31520  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > New Testa   [1782  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology   [2037  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > General   [3019  similar products]
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > History of Religion   [1161  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Misunderstood Jew Excellent Read  Mar 25, 2007
Amy Jill-Levine has helped all of us understand Jesus in the context of his Jewishness more fully. This is helpful for those who have been tainted by "Churchianity" - i.e. the excessive Christianizing of Jesus to remove him from his Jewish roots for Christianity's own purposes. Indeed, the Christianizing of Jesus seems more and more scandalous as I grow in my understanding of him.

Levine is straightforward about her own roots as an orthodox Jewish girl growing up in a largely Roman Catholic neighborhood. The book has great integrity both in its scholarship and honest assessment of the socio-economic and historical times that brought us a Jewish Jesus. Indeed, Levine helps me see Jesus as more credible in the context of my own Western faith tradition and that's refreshing!
Wake up  Mar 23, 2007
This book is a wake up call for all Christians to no longer rely on what they have heard from the pulpit about the Jewish culture and faith during the lifetime of Jesus. The Misunderstood Jew should be required reading in every seminary. Finally a scholar breaks down the complex issues that strain Jewish/Christian relationships and provides suggestions for moving forward with intelligent dignity for both backgrounds of faith. Probably the most important religious book of this decade.
Describing Jesus within his culture  Feb 25, 2007
Countless times I've listened to Christian sermons where the speaker parses one or two of the Greek words and attempts to bring perspective to the text by describing the Jewish cultural context and paradigm of the time. In nearly all cases where this practice is on display, the "illumination" is merely self-serving to reaffirm the wishful thinking of the speaker and the dogma he defends. It's nearly always obvious the speaker really has no understanding or context of his own; the description of Jewish culture is merely used to reaffirm his beliefs rather than seek knowledge and insight.

Ms. Levine, a Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University is not just a scholar of early Christianity. She is a Jew who is also a Jewish scholar and expert on Jewish history. Ms. Levine's work is astonishing and eye opening due to her ability to put the NT and Jesus within the context of Jewish culture and how Jewish law was practiced by devout Jews of that time.

With Ms. Levine's guidance, text that is mere drudgery to wade through becomes alive with meaning and context. Most enlightening is Levine's analysis of where Jesus is acting in accordance with Jewish culture, while relating that context to the tangents often digressed upon by Christian ideologues who use these texts to define Jesus as either unique, a radical, or anti-Jewish when in fact the text is describing actions and words that fit perfectly into the Jewish culture of that time. Examples are the healing stories, the woman at the well, and especially the relationship Jews have with their law and religious leaders.

Like Robert Price's hypothesis that if Jesus existed, he most probably would have been a Rabbi from the tribe of Nazerites that roamed the country, Levine is easily able to place Jesus within the rabbinical traditions of the time and explain how his words compare to the rabbinical traditions of the time.

Where Levine falters is her own bias, which is rampant throughout the book. Ms. Levine as a Jew despises anti-Semitism in all its forms, including the explicit and implied forms pervasive in books like the Gospel of John, a position in which I fully empathize. However, Prof. Levine makes the claim that we should interpret sacred scripture in a manner that minimizes hatred and divisiveness. This makes for an astonishing suggestion; rather than seek truth and knowledge, Levine argues truth and knowledge in sacred texts is impossible to determine so lets all interpret our dogma in as conciliatory a manner as possible, this is no better than the stereotypical pastor I described above who filters out truth to indoctrinate his listeners.

While I agree with Ms. Levine that knowledge regarding early Christianity is nigh impossible given the poor reportage and protection of manuscripts by early Christians, I can't support interpreting text in a manner that is inclusive just because we all want to get along; instead I would propose we endorse condemning the text that perpetuates hatred and wars, like "no man cometh unto the father but by me" as hate speech pure and simple, especially since the evidence that Jesus actually made such a claim is not only non-existent, but not even logical.

Given this bias, I still highly recommend getting this book because I can no longer imagine understanding the NT without guidance by someone like Levine who has the understanding and knowledge of the Jewish culture within which Jesus and the authors of the NT lived. Especially since Prof. Levine is very capable of distinguishing between knowledge, facts, and her opinion in her published work.
An important, accessible book  Feb 13, 2007
The importance of this book can be measured in terms of the numberless churches in whose pew racks it should be available--and in equivalent spaces in synagogues, and, I daresay, mosques. Levine, a Jewish professor of New Testament studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School, has set herself a monumental task: bringing awareness about the often subtle and insidious ways that anti-Judaism (she distinguishes it from anti-Semitism) keeps pervading the belief and practices of otherwise well-meaning and good-willed Christians--while she peels apart the thoroughly Jewish Jesus from the Jesus who, as his own vexing figure, became the Christ of the Christian faith. She does it superbly, and with a light, disarmingly direct touch. As a student of Biblical scholarship and archaeology, I found her opening chapters on the life and death of Jesus and the subsequent relationship of Peter, James (Jesus' brother), and Paul in shaping the early church--and their relationship to the Judaisms of their time--to be as succinctly clear a summary of a complex history as possible. (I do wish she had spent a page or two explicating her assessment, or even guesstimation, of Jesus' disturbance in the Temple, what it might have been, and what those actions reflected of his relation to that Temple and to his Judaism.)

She charmingly sets the tone and provides her bona fides in her introduction by revealing her visceral childhood draw to matters Christian, despite being (and remaining) devoutly Jewish. I was raised in a devout Methodist home, both of whose grandfathers, an aunt, and an uncle were ordained ministers. As immersed in it as I was and am, Levine clearly has a better grasp of the reach and recesses of the Christian narrative than I do--though I probably know the words to more hymns, but I wouldn't bet on it.

I feel that this book is most challenging in what it implies about the "work" required of thoughtful, prayerful Christians: to explore both the Jesus who was completely of his Judaic time, and the Jesus whose particular and troubling messages about the poor, justice, love, and his expectation about the end-time are much more challenging than can be neatly packaged. Those two figures are paradoxically one and the same and forever different each from the other. Yet both Jesus the Jew and Jesus the Christ demand, as all meaningful faith-based engagement does, a willingness to struggle, with one's heart open, with both the joy and pain of being children of God.

Amy-Jill levine doe sit again  Feb 12, 2007
I wish I had Amy-Jill Levine as my professor of New Testament back when I was in seminary. Her insights and provocative comments (provoking thought not reaction) are challenging and faith-forming. (I heard her lecture for a week at Chatauqua a few years back and regard those lectures as furthering my Jewish-Christian sensitivities.) "The Misunderstood Jew" would be an outstanding read for a church-synagogue study group. Her critiques of liberals and conservatives open an avenue for dialogue that could take the conversation beyond ideology. As much as I like the work of Borg, et. al., I must confess that Levine has opened my eyes to some inherent anti-Jewish biases liberationists and liberals bring to their work.

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