Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Short Stories by Jesus

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Short Stories by Jesus

Article excerpt

SHORT STORIES BY JESUS

By Amy-Jill Levine (HarperOne, 2014)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Amy-Jill Levine is a Jewish scholar whose particular interest is Christian scripture. That's reason enough to read her for those who hope to engage the New Testament perceptively. Since nearly every important character in the New Testament is Jewish, including Jesus and his mother, appreciating the intrinsic Jewish elements in these texts is enhanced by having a friendly insider offering you the backstory.

Levine has at least four goals in writing about the parables of Jesus. One is to return our focus to each parable's original target: essentially, the listener. "That man is you" isn't just an accusation the prophet Nathan once made to guilty King David. In every parable, we should feel the cold fingers of a warning: The bull's-eye of these stories is drawn on us! To deflect that aim to another person or group is to ricochet.

The second objective is to restore a first-century Judean context to these stories. …

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