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A Rabbi Talks with Jesus Paperback – February 16, 2000
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Mr. Neusner, took some getting used to, I'll admit that, but after you work your way through, it becomes easier and even more so, a joy. Neusner's focus on on the Christian Mystery, while remaining true to his own faith, was revealing and enlightening to the Christian mind. He provided an atmosphere of mutual respect for open dialogue, and brought to light some of the most intrinsic points of Christian doctrine, validating their rightful interpretation and outcomes.
While Neusner does not accept Jesus, he points out that those who accept him, have only one natural path to follow... and the rest, as they say, is history.
Thank you, Mr. Neusner for such an awesome read and I look forward to delving into more of your other works.
I definitely recommend this to all Christian and inter-faith readers.
The book is 161 pages long, and Neusner takes 36 pages to tell us what he's going to do and why he didn't focus on the other gospels and on other teachings and stories of Jesus. Obviously, this is necessary, but I felt it took too much space and too much time. Moreover, I had some issues with some of the things Dr. Neusner shared in this section. He mentioned that he couldn't bring himself to dialogue with the Jesus of John's Gospel because John and the Johannine Jesus abhorred the Jews.
But it could be possible to see John's Gospel as reflecting a "sharp family disagreement" between the Jewish Jesus and Jewish leaders. The books division of Jesus' ministry according to the Jewish calendar is strange indeed for a supposedly anti-Jewish work. The same goes for the sharp disagreements the Matthaen Jesus has with the Scribes and with the Pharisees.
When we get into the book proper, we see that Neusner agrees with many of Jesus' teachings. The stuff he really struggles with are the teachings which showcase the authority of Jesus, like when Jesus says "You have heard that it has been said, but I say to you," or when he says "Leave everything and follow me," or when He says "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath," or when He says "Something greater than the temple is here." Neusner cannot envision anything greater than the Torah given by God on Mount Sinai, and so he is great puzzled by Jesus' unique authority.
At this point, I wanted to say "Nu? Is not the uniqueness of Jesus Christ the main theme of Matthew's Gospel? We see this right from the get-go: His unique genealogy, His unique conception, His unique birth narrative, His unique baptism, His unique encounter with the devil, His unique teachings, and yes, His unique authority.
Neusner also struggles to grasp how Jesus can declare all foods clean when we have the food laws in Leviticus and Numbers. It goes back to the main issue: The unique authority and person of Jesus.
Dr. Neusner also wishes that Jesus would have used the plural form of "you" more often. He wanted Jesus to speak to Israel corporately and not just to individual people within the community. In fact, this is one of the other big reasons why Neusner chooses not to follow Jesus.
I would say that everything written in the Scriptures has implications for our individual lives and our corporate lives and while there is a lot of eschatological teaching directed at the individual, there are texts where Jesus does address the community (Luke 19:19-43 for instance), and he does this without rehashing and reprising all that was written in the Torah (Exodus 21-24).
I couldn't help but think of how Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3 that even when Moses is read in the shuls, a veil covers the hearts of those who hear, and only in Christ is the veil taken away. I realize some may cry "foul" at this, but I couldn't get that scripture text out of my head as I read Neusner's book. I feel sheepish, because the truth is that I deeply respect him as a careful scholar of Judaism and writer and editor of over 900 books. He is a wise and learned man.
I recommend this book and thank Dr. Neusner for writing it.
I enjoy the though challenging discussion for my own Catholic growth.
It is a very USA - Protestant view of Jesus, and yet, Jesus founded the church of Rome. The other christian churches, that can have many holy men and women, must be understood in the development of christianity.