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Jesus Through Jewish Eyes: Rabbis and Scholars Engage an Ancient Brother in a New Conversation Paperback – August 6, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books; First Edition edition (August 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570753881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570753886
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,134,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

*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 Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am one of the contributors to the book so my opinion is probably biased. Be that as it may, I still think it is a good book. What you think of it will probably depend on what your expectations were before reading it.
This book is largely a book of perspectives. While many of the authors have excellent scholarly credentials (I'm one of the few that don't) as should be clear from the title, the purpose of this book is to present the subject from a particular perspective, namely the perspective of Jews.
As with many investigative endeavors, your preconceived notions can frequently influence your conclusions. While I like to think that my perspective is fairly objective, I am sure that who I am as a person has influenced my conclusions about Jesus. When it comes to rather fuzzy topics such as the historical Jesus, you can be sure that we generally find the Jesus that suits our needs or perspectives.
So, don't buy this book thinking you are going to find definitive answers to the question, "Who was Jesus?" However, if you are like me and like hearing different perspectives on a subject then I think you will find the book interesting. Yes, some authors repeat the same theories that have been around for some time. Yes, all authors are subject to their own biases. But who isn't? I still enjoyed reading the many essays of my co-authors just as I enjoyed reading works by those with radically different perspectives than my own.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Marc Axelrod VINE VOICE on August 6, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was fascinated by this well written collection of essays about Jesus. Some of the rabbis who wrote these articles are courageously concessionary in the things that they write about Jesus.

Another writer sees Jesus as not greater than Moses and the Prophets, but as being a failed messiah, one who desired to bring in the messianic age, but couldn't. This same writer also suggests that Jesus may be considered as a figure who helped to prepare the way for the world to worship the one true God, and who helped to pave the way for the coming of the Davidic Messiah.

Others see him as a Jewish sage who needs to be reclaimed and restudied by Jews in order to understand the Christian mindset, and yes, to a certain degree, their own Judaism.

One writer even suggests that the issue of Jesus' messiahship remains unresolved.

There is also a great essay by Lance Flitter, where he shares that he never thought much about Jesus until he started dating a Christian woman. He comes to the conclusion that whatever else one may say about the historical Jesus, one thing that comes through clearly is that Jesus was Jewish and that one of His priorities was teaching equality amongst God's people.

Some of the writers are adament that Jesus is not the Messiah, but for the most part, I was very impressed with the openness in these essays. Get this book.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By MARTIN HELLMAN on August 15, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across this book in searching for reading material for a discussion group "Jesus from a Jewish Perspective" that I plan to lead within a Jewish congregation this Fall. What a find! This is the perfect book for my use, but almost anyone, Jewish, Christian, or otherwise, would benefit from reading it, provided they do so with an open mind, willing to at least temporarily put aside their preconceptions of Jesus.

The fact that the different contributors often have conflicting views of Jesus is a real plus since, as a number of them point out, it is impossible to clearly see Jesus through the haze of 2,000 years, particularly given the lack of written accounts during his life and the agendas that most writers brought to the task once it was undertaken. The contributors' different viewpoints help one to synthesize a more complete picture and, in my case, added some interesting new possibilities that I hadn't considered before.

One of the things that struck me about this book, and which I feel is sorely needed in the world, is the obvious respect that two, often opposed groups demonstrate for each other. The Preface makes it clear that Maryknoll (the publisher) highly values the views of these Jewish scholars and they, in turn, show tremendous respect for Christian beliefs.

Viewed from the perspective of my youth of fifty years ago this book is a miracle. In that pre-Vatican II environment, I and many of my friends were routinely beaten up as Christ killers. We returned the compliment by holding a highly derisive view of Christianity and Jesus. The idea that Catholics and Jews could show this level of respect, even admiration, for each other's religions was unthinkable. Thank you Maryknoll, Beatrice Bruteau (the editor), and all the contributors. While the lion has not yet lain down with the lamb, I feel I have witnessed the beating of some swords of my youth into the ploughshares of today. May tomorrow's harvest be bountiful.
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