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The Jewish Gospels Hardcover – April 1, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"If Boyarin is right, the consequences go beyond making a few adjustments to our understanding of the past. As the Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jack Miles writes in his foreword to The Jewish Gospels, Jews and Christians will have to radically rethink their identities and relationship to each other."

"Boyarin proposes that by constructing the categories of religious orthodoxy and heresy,second-century Gentile Christians created the concept of religion which pervades the Western world to this day . . . intensely provocative and innovative."

"A brilliant and momentous book."
—Karen L. King, Harvard Divinity School

"Raises profound questions . . . this provocative book will change the way we think of the Gospels in their Jewish context."
—John J. Collins, Yale Divinity School

"It’s certainly noteworthy when one of the world’s leading Jewish scholars publishes a book about Jesus . . . extremely stimulating."
—Daniel C. Peterson, The Deseret News

"[A] fascinating recasting of the story of Jesus."
—Elliot Wolfson, New York University

About the Author

Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships. His books include A Radical Jew, Border Lines, and Socrates and the Fat Rabbis. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; 1St Edition edition (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595584684
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595584687
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Daniel Boyarin is one of the world's great scholars of Jewish Theology. In this book, Boyarin argues that the concept of the Trinity, which has always been considered the great original contribution of Christianity, is really derived from ideas that were common in Jewish thought before the time of Christ. He also demonstrates with great learning that the irreconcilable schism between Jews and Christians did not really come about until several hundred years after Christ. Boyarin demonstrates how there were Jews who believed in Jesus and Jews who didn't, but they were all part of the Jewish identity.

I imagine that this book is going to generate some very heated debate. It won't be popular with Jews who think of themselves as the first and longest standing monotheistic religion. And it is certain to make Christians uncomfortable, because he argues with great learning that the idea of a God who is both father and son is not original to Christianity.

I think that the conversation evoked by this book will be heated, but very interesting, indeed.
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Daniel Boyarin has done a great service for the Body of Christ and especially for those who are involved in the study of the Jewish Roots of Christianity.

Over the past few decades it has become increasing clear that to understand more fully the New Testament writings we need to have a greater, more in-depth understanding of the conceptual and cultural world in which these texts were written...and this is primarily the world of Judaism.

Understanding the Jewish conceptual and cultural world in which Jesus, the disciples and writers of the New Testament lived and moved in has open up the richness of Scripture and given it greater clarity in innumerable ways.
One area that has now been greatly enriched by understanding the Jewish Background involves the Deity of Jesus.

Boyarin's work deftly demonstrates through the use of various streams of Jewish thought and literary works that the idea of a Divine Messiah was not foreign to Jewish thought and belief....and was even expected. He lays out the various beliefs about the Messiah down through the centuries before and during the time of Jesus using texts such as Daniel 7:13-14, the Similitudes of Enoch, First Ezra as well as insights from the Talmud and other rabbinic literature that may reflect earlier Jewish thought on this subject.

Boyarin view is that the seeds of the concept of a divine Messiah were present in Judaism before and during the time of Jesus. This is important for three reasons :
1. It explains how the first century disciples and followers of Jesus could believe that Jesus is God/deity. Boyarin's work demonstrates pretty well that such a belief and concept was NOT outside the scope of Jewish belief within the First century

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A conundrum that periodically puzzles me is how easily it seems that the Jewish followers of Jesus accepted "new" gods - or a "new" definition of God that postulated other divine beings sharing the glory of the One God.

Think about this - the conventional view of pre-Christian Judaism is that it was rigorously monotheist, and, yet, by the middle to end of the First Christian Century, we see the formula of "the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" is being used as the baptismal formula in Matthew. I often think that it is strange that Jews - who only knew of one God - accepting two other divine characters without wondering where they came from and why God hadn't bothered to mention them previously.

Boyarin's answer is simple, straightforward and logical; the Jewish tradition included a germ or type of the incarnation and "trinitarianism" long before the First Century C.E., and, in a way, the answer is obvious to anyone who is familiar with the Bible.

Boyarin argues that there was a "binitarian" tradition in ancient Judaism that can be found in Daniel 7, notwithstanding the effort of the author to obscure its binitarian implications, which introduces the "Son of man" and the "Ancient of Days." Under Boyarin's guidance, it seems clear that Daniel 7 can be understood as introducing two divine beings, an older divine being who invests the younger with suzerainty over the world. Boyarin explains that there were several ways in which Israel's messiah was understood. One tradition was that the Messiah who was to be an heir of David who would institute a reign under which all nations would bow to Israel and Israel's God.
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This short but sweet book challenges the assumption that Jesus and his earliest Jewish followers had a theology which was completely at odds with the New Testament and orthodox "gentile" Christianity. Daniel Boyarin is a Jewish scholar looking at Christianity from a Jewish perspective. He is not a fundamentalist Christian trying to defend his faith. I would also recommend his other outstanding book, "A Radical Jew, Paul and the Politics of Identity". In this book, he clearly demonstrates that the core doctrines of orthodox Christianity such as the incarnation, the trinity, and the vicarious suffering of the messiah/redeemer were ideas which originated in Judaism and which were firmly rooted in the Jewish faith in the time of Jesus. These doctrines were neither Hellenistic ideas nor were they elements of pagan mystery religions which were foisted upon the Christian faith by the early Greek church fathers or the Romans.

This book challenges theories put forth by modern liberal Christian apologists who draw a distinction between a "good Jesus" and a "bad Christ". In other words, we can no longer see the historical figure of Jesus as merely an ethical sage who, under the influence of Hellenism, was promoted to a divine status. The conviction that Jesus was elevated to a divine status as the "Son of Man" goes back to Jesus' earliest Jewish followers and was probably planted in their minds by Jesus himself. The charges of blasphemy leveled against Jesus can only be the result of his identifying himself as the future Son of Man and using the term "I Am" as a self designation. I would add that according to Hegesippus, an early Palestinian Jewish Christian, James was charged with heresy for making the same claims about his brother, Jesus.
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