Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reveiw of Garber, "The Jewish Jesus"

Jesus for Jews

By Eve Levavi Feinstein (Jewish Ideas Daily)

That Jesus lived and died a Jew would hardly be regarded as news by most educated Jews and Christians today. Still, while the historical Jesus is ever-elusive, the figure of Jesus, for Jews, has become more accessible. The pronounced decline of Christian anti-Semitism in our day has allowed for more freedom to discuss not only the tortuous and changing relationship of Jews to the Church, but also to its founder and the central figure of its concern: namely, Jesus.

The past half-decade has seen a spate of books on the topic written by Jews, with titles like The Misunderstood Jew and From Rebel to Rabbi. In 2007, the Christian scholar Peter Schafer published a challenging study on the place of Jesus in the Talmud. The newest entry in the field is a collection of essays edited by Zev Garber, The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation.

While the collection is composed in part of papers presented at a 2009 symposium, the word "reclamation" is a tip-off that the editor's interest in the subject is not merely academic. The Church's task, as represented in this volume, is to foster a more positive and respectful relationship with those who, according to the book's dedication, "practice the faith of Jesus." For Jews, acknowledgment of Jesus' Jewishness opens the door to a deeper and more constructive relationship with those who, in turn, "believe by faith in Jesus." In short, reflection on the Jewishness of Jesus promises to serve as the basis for enhanced Jewish-Christian dialogue.