A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament

A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament

A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament

A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament

Excerpt

American Jews, by and large, know the New Testament today only from oblique and random contacts -- a quotation here, a verse there, a chapter read in a literature course, a portion heard at a Christian wedding or funeral. With the physical isolation of the European ghetto far behind us, and with our intellectual homogeneity with fellow Americans taken for granted, our very modern generation of Jews is virtually as sealed off, whether through inertia or a vestigial sense of taboo, from a real knowledge of the New Testament as our forefathers traditionally have been. We are in constant contact with this great body of religious expression that has become a cultural force in our secular environment. Some of its frames of reference are part of the popular heritage, its echoes appear in our speech, and yet most of us have never equipped ourselves with a sound, necessarily rewarding understanding of it. Many average Jews certainly have not read it, and so its mysterious quality evokes Jewish judgments of an often strange and startling nature. Chauvinistic Jews dismiss it with derision. Unity seekers, on the basis of its parallels to Jewish teachings, extend to it an enthusiastic accolade that is often emotionally sound but unsupported by study. Still other American Jews, whose number makes them average, have neither preconceptions nor biases about the New Testament which they have not read, but only a thoughtful curiosity and an earnest desire for information. It is for such Jews that I have prepared this book.

In an earlier generation, even in the United States, such a book would have found few readers. Throughout the centuries . . .

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