From Publishers Weekly
How do Jews understand Jesus? In this slender book, 19 Jewish writers answer that question. Joseph Gelberman's "My Friend, Jesus" compellingly suggests that Jesus himself would be distraught at all the anti-Jewish violence perpetrated by Christians in his name. Lawrence Kushner offers a moving ode to the Christian priest who, 25 years ago, helped him "understand about how God might really become a person." Arnold Jacob Wolf raises (though does not answer) pressing questions about perceived anti-Semitism in the Gospels. Not all of the contributions are essays: the opening poem by Laura Bernstein, "A Jew Writing About Jesus the Jew," is alone worth the price of admission. But the anthology is uneven. Some of the essays here do little more than rehearse understandings of Jesus that have been central to the historical Jesus debates for years: Daniel Matt, for example, trots out the familiar (and anachronistic) idea that Jesus was "a Galilean Hasid." Some Christian readers will quickly grow tired of the volume's repeated insistence that, as Allen Secher puts it, "Jesus was `the son of God' and so are we all," perhaps trivializing the theological uniqueness of Jesus. Many Christians will also look askance at the editor's insistence that the historical Jesus can be separated from the Jesus of church tradition. Still, both Jewish readers looking for fresh ways of thinking about Jesus and Christians who are interested in situating Jesus in his Jewish context will find this volume useful.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
*Starred Review* Bruteau gives several reasons for this book, making clear that conversion wasn't one of them: Jesus should be known in his own terms, with his own voice, in a conversation with his own coreligionists, and while this book is theoretically by and for Jews, the most likely audience will be Christians who will see Jesus in a new context. Although these objective reasons sound straightforward and rather pedestrian, the collection of essays itself is anything but. The Jewish writers invited to comment on the historical Jesus take this opportunity and fly with it. New perspectives and fresh insights will stimulate the many people who are fascinated by the Jewish Jesus who hovers in the shadows of Christianity. Some of the writers felt trepidation about writing about Jesus, persona non grata of their youth. Others couldn't "leave Christianity out of it," considering the abuse and worse that Jews have had to endure over the centuries. But every one of the essays is thoughtful, even heartfelt, despite differences in tone, approach, and topic. Some are scholarly ("Talking Torah with Jesus"); some deal with contemporary social questions such as intermarriage ("The J Word"); and some are highly personal ("My Lunch with Jesus"). Full of surprise, clarity, and emotion, these insightful and moving essays will affect Christians and Jews alike. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved