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An annotated New Testament for practicing Jews

An annotated New Testament for practicing Jews

Two practicing Jews who are also New Testament scholars have published an annotated version of the New Testament that is meant to introduce Jewish readers to the texts.

“So what does this New Testament include that a Christian volume might not? Consider Matthew 2, when the wise men, or magi, herald Jesus’s birth. In this edition, Aaron M. Gale, who has edited the Book of Matthew, writes in a footnote that “early Jewish readers may have regarded these Persian astrologers not as wise but as foolish or evil.” He is relying on the first-century Jewish philosopher Philo, who at one point calls Balaam, who in the Book of Numbers talks with a donkey, a “magos.”

Because the rationalist Philo uses the Greek word “magos” derisively — less a wise man than a donkey-whisperer — we might infer that at least some educated Jewish readers, like Philo, took a dim view of magi. This context helps explain some Jewish skepticism toward the Gospel of Matthew, but it could also attest to how charismatic Jesus must have been, to overcome such skepticism.

This volume is thus for anybody interested in a Bible more attuned to Jewish sources. But it is of special interest to Jews who “may believe that any annotated New Testament is aimed at persuasion, if not conversion,” Drs. Levine and Brettler write in their preface. “This volume, edited and written by Jewish scholars, should not raise that suspicion.””

Lots more here.

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Rod Gillis

I hope folks will take time to click and read the whole article, thanks so much! Jewish scholars have added so much to a more complete understanding of Jesus the Jew. As a hopefully not too distant aside, the article reminded me of the songs of Leonard Cohen. His lyrics have some of the most interesting observations on Christianity--something he picked up as a child growing up in Montreal.

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