Jesus, Judaism, and Christian Anti-Judaism: Reading the New Testament after the Holocaust

Article excerpt

Jesus, Judaism, and Christian Anti-Judaism: Reading the New Testament after the Holocaust. Edited by Paula Fredriksen and Adele Reinhartz. Louisville, Ky. and London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. xi + 129 pp. $19.95 (paper).

Jesus, Judaism, and Christian Anti-Judaism contains five clearly written essays by outstanding Jewish and Christian scholars on the most pressing issue for Christians: how the New Testament is the source for Christian anti-Judaism.

Fredriksen's essay, "The Birth of Christianity and the Origins of Anti-Judaism," argues that as the identity and theology of certain types of Gentile Christianities develop in the second century, so too grows the use of demeaning views of Judaism to express that theology. Arguing how to read the Bible, these theologies serve to clarify self-identity over and against "Jews," that is, the Christian antitype. E. P. Sanders's "Jesus, Ancient Judaism, and Modern Christianity: The Quest Continues" explains Jesus' own piety in its proper Jewish context, while John Gager argues in "Paul the Apostle of Judaism" against the widespread view that Paul was the father of Christian anti-Judaism, the author of rejection-replacement theology, who claimed that God has rejected his people Israel and replaced them with a new people, the Christians. This alternate reading makes sense of pro-Jewish passages in Paul's letters such as his insistence that God has not rejected his people (Rom. 11:1) or his statement that "all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:26), noting that Paul says "will be saved" and not "will come to recognize Christ." Paul, in Gagers reading, is not arguing that Jews should not observe the Torah, that it is ineffective as a means of salvation, or that God has rejected the Jews. …