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Soundings in the Religion of Jesus

Perspectives and Methods in Jewish and Christian Scholarship

edited by Bruce Chilton, Anthony Le Donne, Jacob Neusner

Publication Year: 2012

Jesus was a Jew and not a Christian. That affirmation may seem obvious, but here an international cast of Jewish and Christian scholars spell out its weighty and often complex consequences for contemporary Jewish-Christian dialogue. Soundings in the Religion of Jesus contextualizes Jesus and the writings about him that set the stage for Jewish-Christian relations for the next two thousand years.

Of equal importance, this book considers the reception, celebration, and (too often) the neglect of Jesus' Jewishness in modern contexts and the impact such responses have had for Jewish-Christian relations. Topics explored include the ethics of scriptural translation, the ideological motives of Nazi theologians and other "quests" for the Historical Jesus, and the ways in which New Testament portraits of Jesus both help and hurt authentic Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-11

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pp. xi-xiv

Bruce Chilton is Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion and director of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College. He wrote the first critical commentary on the Aramaic version of Isaiah (the Isaiah Targum) and is the author of a...

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pp. xv-21

This book poses a deceptively simple question: Can a consideration of Jesus’ Jewishness benefit Jewish-Christian dialogue? The answer seems obvious: yes, of course. The very notion of a Jewish Jesus signals the significant common ground shared between Judaism and Christianity. Acknowledgment of this common...

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Introduction: Allowing Historical Study to Serve Interfaith Dialogue

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pp. 1-8

In his book Jesus the Jew, Geza Vermes begins chapter 1 with these words: Most people, whether they admit it or not, approach the Gospels with preconceived ideas. Christians read them in the light of their faith; Jews, primed with age-old suspicion . . . Yet it should not be beyond the capabilities of an educated man to sit down and with a mind empty of prejudice read the accounts of Mark, Matthew and Luke as though for the first time.1 These words, first written...

Part One The New Testament Jesus and Exclusionary Boundaries

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pp. 9-31

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CHAPTER ONE Translating Jesus and the Jews: Can We Eradicate the Anti-Semitism without Also Erasing the Semitism?

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pp. 11-28

Most readers of the New Testament are, I would imagine, Christians. And for many, if not most, of these readers, the modern-language version of the New Testament they read is, or at least functions as, their New Testament. In a sense, this is as it should be. After all, the heart of the New Testament, the sayings attributed to Jesus, is translation: Jesus spoke in Aramaic and perhaps a bit of Hebrew; his words are preserved, with very, very few exceptions, only in translation...

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CHAPTER TWO A Jewish Teaching: Jesus, Gentiles, and the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

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pp. 29-46

If a consensus of scholarship on the interpretation of this pericope were to be sought, it would support the view that the saying is, in large part, from Few Matthew scholars today would agree with what Lamar Cope could claim about Matt. 25:31-46 a mere forty years ago. While some might agree that the core of the sheep and the goats passage goes back to Jesus himself, moderately few scholars hold such a position today.2 Most Jesus ...

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CHAPTER THREE A Dogmatic Jesus*

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pp. 47-58

As an observant Jew whose scholarly expertise lies in modern Hebrew literature and Jewish women’s studies, rather than in New Testament studies, I find myself both troubled and encouraged by the story of the Syrophoenician woman that appears in Mark 7:24-301 and its parallel in Matthew 15:21-28.2 As an outsider, I...

Part Two Early Jewish and Gentile Perspectives on Jesus

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pp. 59-81

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CHAPTER FOUR The Distribution of Jewish Leaders in the Synoptic Gospels: Why Wariness Is Warranted

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pp. 61-80

Over many centuries, the well-being of the Jewish people has been jeopardized by Gospel traditions—especially about the Passion—blaming the Jews for Jesus’ death. Here, Jesus is presented as arrested by Jewish conspirators, condemned by a Jewish court, and charged with blasphemy, a Jewish crime. The aroused Jewish mob opts to free not the innocent Jesus but Barabbas, a murderer as well as an...

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CHAPTER FIVE Viewing the Jewish Jesus of History through the Lens of Matthew’s Gospel

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pp. 81-96

In July 2009, I had the pleasure of presiding at the Colloquium Biblicum Lovanienses, the venerable international biblical meeting that each year brings scholars from around the world to the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, to explore biblical topics of interest. The theme of the 2009 meeting was “The Gospel of Matthew...

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CHAPTER SIX The Trial of Jesus and the Temple:Sadducean and Roman Perspectives

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pp. 97-108

Throughout Jesus’ trial before the Jewish high priest and Pontius Pilate in Mark 14:53—15:20, two accusations are presented: that he is guilty of committing a sacrilege against the temple, and that he is a false messiah regarding the charge that led to Jesus’ arrest and execution.1 In this article I would like to (briefly) question the former accusation and argue for the latter one. I will present several reservations...

Part Three Jesus Research before and after German National Socialism

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pp. 109-131

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CHAPTER SEVEN Remapping Schweitzer’s Quest through Jewish-Christian Polemic, Apology, and Dialogue

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pp. 111-128

In many ways, Albert Schweitzer’s map still charts the topography for Jesus research. Not only was his (re)construction of Jesus inimitably compelling, his charting of the intellectual history of Jesus research provided a guide for almost all future research. It is as if the same architect who designed the landmark also plotted the contours upon which it rests. But while Schweitzer’s landmark work still represents an important...

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CHAPTER EIGHT The Dissimilar Jesus:Anti-Semitism, Protestantism, Hero-Worship, and Dialectical Theology

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pp. 129-142

Is Christian theology that is Christo-centric and Jesus-centered institutionally anti-Judaist? The theological dilemma for Christians is arguably as old as the New Testament itself: how to understand and positively appreciate Jesus in his distinctiveness without being negative about Judaism. The tragedy is that this dilemma has not always been seen as a problem! A number of cultural, philosophical...

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CHAPTER NINEJesus within Judaism: The Political and Moral Context of Jesus Research and Its Methodology

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pp. 143-158

Whether Jesus was situated within Judaism was not at all an academic question. During the National Socialist Regime of 1933–1945, it was a political and moral issue in Germany. Anti-Semitic prejudices and politics exercised a disastrous influence on scholarship. Already before the Third Reich some writers denied that Jesus....

Part Four Jesus in Jewish-Christian Dialogue

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pp. 159-181

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CHAPTER TEN The Importance of Jewish-Christian Dialogue on Jesus

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pp. 161-174

To respond adequately (I hope) to the chapters in this volume has been a fascinating and sometimes frustrating challenge. It proved simplest to respond to each essay/chapter in turn. Leonard Greenspoon’s chapter takes us into the intriguing issue of what constitutes a legitimate or appropriate translation. And the central issue he elaborates is very important, for it is certainly the case that the rendering of Jewish names by later equivalents...

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CHAPTER ELEVEN Jesus in Jewish-Christian Dialogue

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pp. 175-188

...within the academy, or in Jewish-Christian dialogue. The Christian Scholars’ Group’s 2002 statement “A Sacred Obligation” summarizes the consensus view in its second proposition, “Jesus of Nazareth lived and died as a faithful Jew”; it glosses the statement by explaining, “Christians worship the God of Israel in and through Jesus...

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pp. 189-204

In two vital ways, the study of ancient Judaism changed in the latter part of the twentieth century. Owing to the intrinsic relationship between ancient Judaism and early Christianity, those changes have influenced the understanding of the connections between these two religions, and have even altered the ways in which Judaism and Christianity...


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pp. 205-234


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pp. 235-252

Index of Modern Authors

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pp. 253-258

Index of Ancient Sources

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pp. 259-268

E-ISBN-13: 9781451424294
E-ISBN-10: 1451424299
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800698010
Print-ISBN-10: 0800698010

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2012