Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Jewish New Testament

...Nearly all these Bibles are edited by and for Christians. The Christian Bible comprises the Old and New Testaments, so editors offer a Christian perspective on both books. For example, editors might add a footnote to the story of King David, in the Old Testament books I and II Samuel, reminding readers that in the New Testament, David is an ancestor of Jesus.

Jewish scholars have typically been involved only with editions of the Old Testament, which Jews call the Hebrew Bible or, using a Hebrew acronym, the Tanakh. Of course, many curious Jews and Christians consult all sorts of editions, without regard to editor. But among scholars, Christians produce editions of both sacred books, while Jewish editors generally consult only the book that is sacred to them. What’s been left out is a Jewish perspective on the New Testament — a book Jews do not consider holy but which, given its influence and literary excellence, no Jew should ignore.

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.”
Read the rest here.


Theron said...

This is interesting, and I would probably really be offended if it were a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, New Age, etc. version of the NT.

Yet since it is Jewish, there might be some value. I hope no one takes the notes as authoritative for doctrine. Because of the Jewish roots of Christianity, there could be value.

A friend of mine who regularly reviews Bibles on his blog, picked this up at the recent Society of Biblical Literature. I look forward to his thoughts.

The example given regarding the Magi is interesting, and as a Christian demonstrates the foolishness of the gospel, and another way that could have been seen as a stumbling block to the Jew.

Thanks for always ferreting out interesting stories

Quasimodo said...

A number of authors (Joseph Fitzmeyer in many of his works; and Claude Tremontant, "The Hebrew Christ") both linguists, make an excellent case that most of the gospels were taken from accounts first written in Hebrew. (There are, as they point out, innumerable puns and word plays in the Hebrew versions--too many to be accidental.) These were, after all, first written down by Jews, for other Jews, about a Jewish (messianic) hope.

If so, then "magi" would not have been the word employed, but more likely a word meaning "sage"--ie, the "wise men".

Jason said...

Dr. Levine quote from the article:

"The more I study the New Testament, the better Jew I become."

I'm not sure what she means here, however it seems as if she's stating that the more she studies the Gospel, the better she gets at refuting it in order to stay within her Orthodox synagogue.

This feature article on Levine's Jewish NT study, which it states is a "Jewish perspective on the New Testament," is remarkably silent on actual Orthodox rabbinic teachings regarding Jesus.

Perhaps the Times will follow up with a feature on a Christian perspective of Judaism. One was recently published this month: "Judaism's Strange Gods" (Revised and expanded 2011 edition) by Christian researcher Michael Hoffman. A NYT feature on this book may shed considerable light as to why Judaic views of the NT remain sparsely published.