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The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other Hardcover – February 26, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Peter Schäfer, Winner of the 2007 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

"This volume combines several provocative theses. Schäfer suggests that arguments in the Talmud against ostensibly heretical teachings are aimed not only at opponents of the rabbis but also at circles among the ancient rabbis themselves that found such teachings attractive. . . . The author is a highly respected scholar of ancient Judaism, and the present book continues lines of thought that appeared in his earlier writings, including Jesus in the Talmud. This volume's presentation is erudite yet accessible. The arguments against scholars with other views are especially robust and forthright."--Choice

"Schäfer's book is very illuminating and fascinating. The author examines a rich collection of rabbinic texts, which shed light and better understanding on many concepts included in the Old and New Testaments. His emphasis on the geographical distinction between Palestine and Babylonia, in the evaluation of the rabbinic sources is worthy of attention. . . . [T]he book is an excellent presentation of the mutual interaction between the sister religions and deserves an important place amongst the studies about early Judaism and Christianity."--Miroslaw S. Wróbel, Biblical Annals

"There have been a number of revelatory books in recent decades on the relations between early Christianity and Judaism, especially on how each influenced the other. This book by Peter Schafer . . . is among them."--Glenn W. Olsen, European Legacy

From the Back Cover

"Watching Peter Schäfer explicate Jewish and Christian texts is like watching a great restorer work on a fresco damaged by time, wind, and water. Blurred outlines come into focus, dull colors become brilliant, and suddenly a forgotten story of exchange between the two religions comes back to dramatic life. This is great scholarship, applied to a subject so complex and difficult that nothing less could do it justice."--Anthony T. Grafton, Princeton University

"The Jewish Jesus is the natural sequel to Peter Schäfer's widely acclaimed Jesus in the Talmud. Against overly simplistic conceptions of Christian influences on Judaism, Schäfer posits a dynamic dialogue between two not yet clearly demarcated communities. Christianity grew out of Judaism, but Judaism also developed and changed in constant exchange with and differentiation from Christianity. Schäfer's fascinating and highly readable book offers an important change of perspective from traditional religious histories and deserves many readers."--Günter Stemberger, author of Jews and Christians in the Holy Land: Palestine in the Fourth Century

"Schäfer's thought-provoking book challenges readers to reimagine the relationship of early Judaism and Christianity and the theological matrices in which they developed. Must reading for students and scholars alike."--Burton L. Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary

"This excellent and important book will be seized on eagerly and read with attention. Peter Schäfer makes his argument with great clarity and a formidable command of the sources, building his case from close readings of the texts. The scholarship is impeccable."--Philip Alexander, professor emeritus, University of Manchester


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (February 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691153906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691153902
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,353,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The title of this book would suggest that it is yet another monograph affirming the truism that Jesus was a Jew, standing alongside other books of this genre by John Dominic Crossan, E. P. Saunders, and especially Geza Vermes.

There is no need to turn to these books to acknowledge the following points, easily derivable from the four canonical Christian Gospels. From his birth Jesus was raised a Jew. He was circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2.21) and bore a common Jewish name, Yeshua, "he [God] saves" (Matthew 1.21). In fact, scholars have determined that Yeshua was the fifth most common male Jewish name of the time. Joseph was the second most common male name and Mary the most common among women. The child Jesus was presented to the Lord in the Jerusalem temple (Luke 2.22; cf. Deuteronomy 18.4; Exodus 13.2,12,15), A sacrifice was offered for him, a pair of doves and 2 young pigeons, indicating that his family were not wealthy (Leviticus 12.2,6,8; Luke 2.22-24). Thus Jesus was raised according to the law (Luke 2.39).

These points being granted, it should be noted that Jesus belonged to pre-Rabbinical Judaism, differing in many ways from the faith of the two Talmuds (where he is sometimes denounced, as Schäfer showed in another monograph). One must be wary of anachronism.

Evidently, "The Jewish Jesus" essentially replicates the author's German original text, which I have not seen. In translation the title of that book is "The Birth of Judaism from the Spirit of Christianity." At all events, in this book Schäfer prefers a more interactive model in which a number of ideas circulated freely among both parties.

The conventional view of the contrast between Judaism and Christianity is that one is strictly monotheistic, the other tritheistic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brave Old World

Christianity was issued from a dissident faction of post-Temple Messianic Judaism that underwent powerful second century Hellenistic influences more conform to Greco-Roman ideals. We know little about 2nd-3rd-century CE Christianity tempting post-Temple Judaism and the counter-reactions. And out of academic circles, the rabbi’s seventh century messianic literature and homilies cover only a restricted audience. Schaffer’s book repairs these important lacunae.

Schaffer’s Jesus in the Talmud offers a useful preparation to tackle his present publication: it trains the reader with the rabbi’s tortuous exegesis and Schaffer’s enlightening interpretations.

Chapter 1-2 of The Jewish Jesus posits that Christians with two divine figures, God and his Son, were provocatively pointing to all the biblical textual references that could mirror their own theology: Genesis where on several occasions God is mentioned in plural and in Exodus where God is depicted as a young warrior God in Egypt very different from the Mt. Sinai old God of justice and mercy. Using the OT as a springboard that announces Christianity, 2nd century CE church fathers could argue that even the Jewish Bible had two Gods. During the early centuries CE the rabbis were trying to talk themselves out of such difficulties. Attempting to explain the apparent contradictions the rabbi’s were in for a spell of exegetical acrobatics difficult to understand without Schaffer’s clear explanations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a rare book that crosses an expert knowledge of the Rabbinic literature, especially the difficult to trace midrashim, with a knowledge of early Christianity. It is unique in so far as it works in the opposite direction to most scholarly analyses of the relationship between late Judaism and early Christianity. We normally trace the impact that Jewish traditions have had upon emerging Christianity. This books devotes careful attention to the possible influence emerging Christianity - especially the concept of a triune God - had upon Rabbinic Judaism.

Schaefer shows that it was something of a two-way street.
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