Mixing rigorous scholarship with helpings of both wit and pastoral care, Amy-Jill Levine reveals Jesus as "The Misunderstood Jew," Levine shows how Christians often misunderstand Judaism in general, misunderstand the New Testament in particular, and thus yank Jesus out of his Jewish context— resulting in intolerance (and sometimes outright hatred) of Jews. She doesn't let Jews off the hook either, cutting through willful ignorance of Jesus and his message. A Jewish scholar who teaches in a primarily Protestant divinity school in Nashville, Tennessee— the buckle of the Bible Belt— Levine offers a unique, deeper understanding of who Jesus was and what he taught.
There's no getting around the fact that Christianity started as a Jewish movement before spreading to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean. Levine helps readers understand the culture in which Jesus grew up and that he celebrated— the diet and dress of first-century Palestine, Jewish holidays and customs, the numerous public roles of Jewish women, and the rituals of the Temple. All those head-scratching sayings and acts of Jesus's that have befuddled Bible readers for generations suddenly make sense in light of his Jewish heritage.
Levine also takes an unflinching look at modern anti-Jewish readings of the New Testament, including the stereotyping of Judaism as legalistic, purity-obsessed, Temple-dominated, xenophobic, violent, greedy, and misogynist. She shows how Christian theologians often make Judaism look backward and antiquated so that Christianity can, in contrast, look progressive and superior.
Levine's candor will prompt much-needed conversation and debate about how Christians and Jewsshould understand Jesus, the Gospels, and the New Testament.