The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation, edited by Zev Garber, 2011

THE JEWISH JESUS: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation, edited by Zev Garber.  West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2011.  405 pp.  Illustrations, Notes, Annotated Bibliography, Index.  Paper, $59.95. 

The Jewish Jesus

Zev Garber, editor of this important anthology, offers essays by nineteen Jewish and non-Jewish scholars in a collaborative work examining the life, times, and controversies surrounding Jesus of Nazareth.

For almost two millennia Christians and Jews have pointedly ignored each other’s faith.  Few Jews take the time to read and study the New Testament, and Christians, though acknowledging the Old Testament, often do not recognize the fact that Jesus was born and raised in the Jewish faith.

As a result, mutual respect and understanding have long been ground under by ignorance, persecution, and hatred.

The contributors to this volume demonstrate their mutual respect in their scholarship and commitment to exploring the connections between Judaism and Christianity.  The articles cover a wide range of topics, but they all recognize that the historical Jesus was Jewish and that he was a person of great influence in his time.

Where the scholars agree to disagree is on whether Jesus was the Messiah.

The articles include an examination of the society in which Jesus lived, Greek and Roman views of Jesus, misunderstandings between Jews and Christians regarding Christ, and comparisons of Moses and Jesus as prophets.

The articles are refreshing in their pursuit of objectivity and in opposing old myths and prejudices.

One of the more fascinating studies is the story of Edith Stein, born Jewish but who became a Carmelite nun.  She used the word “holocaust” in the 1930s, and she died at Auschwitz.

Another article laments the failure of Jewish scholars to research deeply into the life of Jesus, accepting the myths and legends instead of seeking the facts.

One hopes that Jews and Christians, particularly rabbis, priests, and ministers, will read and learn from the articles presented here.

Unfortunately, it probably won’t find an audience among the racists and bigots who hang on to old prejudices in a world already tired of prolonged religious conflicts.


Abraham Hoffman teaches history at Los Angeles Valley College.

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