Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Misunderstood Jew: the Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus

Amy-Jill Levine. The Misunderstood Jew
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006.

This book is worthwhile reading for both Christians and Jews. The author, Amy-Jill Levine, has done an excellent job of overturning stereotypes and positioning Jesus in his original social, religious, and historical contexts. In an unattributed comment on the Harper-Collins website we read, "Her truth–telling here will provoke honest dialogue on how Christians and Jews should understand Jesus and our New Testament heritage."(1) Levine is an Orthodox Jew and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee. Yes - a Jew teaching New Testament studies!

I can only speak from a Christian perspective, and I am embarrassed to admit that I have fallen into the same errors Christians are prone to repeat - taming Jesus' more provocative sayings and mistaking the meaning of others. Levine's book does more than educate me; it challenges and holds me accountable.