There are already a great many books by Jewish and Christian writers about the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in the first century, and anyone familiar with the subject will find much that is familiar in this book: to them it will hardly be "a new view of the Jewish contexts in which the New Testament and the community of Jesus followers arose", as the blurb has it. It is, however, a very useful reference book. Its purpose is to show what the teaching of the early church had in common with the Judaism from which it was born, where it diverged, and where New Testament texts became - in intention or in interpretation - the cause of Christian hatred of the Jews. But it particularly aims to make both Christians and Jews especially aware of what Jesus and Paul had in common with the Judaism of their time.
The annotations are to the text of the New Revised Standard Version of 1989, and they are extremely detailed - explaining the meaning of words; giving historical background; relating sentences in the New Testament to other sentences in the New Testament and/or to sentences in the Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament"), and much else besides: by no means all of them concern themselves with Jewish perspectives.
In addition there is an introduction to each New Testament book; there are useful maps and tables; and 63 boxes in which some topics are dealt with in summary (there is, for example, one on the treatment of the Pharisees in Luke's Gospel, another on the role of the High Priest. Ten of these boxes explain aspects of the Book of Revelations.)
There are also 32 longer essays (87 pages of double columns and, like the annotations and the boxes, in rather small print), mostly on Jewish ideas and institutions (for example on Synagogues) or on Jewish ideas before, during, and, for a century or two, after the time of Jesus (for example on the Afterlife and Resurrection or on Jesus in the Rabbinic tradition). Some of these essays - the one on Paul and Judaism or the one about Jewish Christians - are contributions to ongoing discussions rather than undisputed interpretations. The penultimate essay gives an account of modern Jewish writers (from the early 19th century onwards) who have seen Jesus as a good Jew, though, oddly, there is nothing on Christian theologians who had done the same. Many of these Jewish scholars believe that it was Paul and not Jesus who was the true founder of Christianity and who regard him as a Jewish heretic; but the last essay shows that there are now even some Jewish scholars who are sympathetic to Paul as a Jew.
on 11 October 2015
This recent publication is a superb resource for any student wishing to understand Christianity in its first century context of Rabbinic Judaism and the Roman Empire. Of particular note are the collection of essays numbering 100 pages at the end of the volume, together with charts and glossary. One particularly useful element is the list of available English translations of ancient texts (such as the Talmud, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, the Nag Hammadi texts, etc.) – an invaluable resource to any student without the confidence to work in the original languages. Each book of the New Testament (NRSV) is accompanied by extensive notes shedding light on the Jewish aspects and context of their contents from the perspective of a particular scholar. This work should be in the library of any Christian seminary student.
on 3 March 2014
I love this version because the annotations give a really great insight into the culture and context of Jewish life around the time of Jesus, and it also gives lots of references, not only to other parts of Bible but to other sources such as Talmud, Mishnah, non-Canonical Scriptures such as Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hamadi finds, as well as writings by secular contemporary writers such as Cicero. This book is great for students of theology, but also for other people who just find this sort of thing fascinating.
on 15 May 2013
This compact but overflowing book is full of Hebraic insights and information. Although I don't always agree with the applications made by the contributors, they do bring to the discussion documents that I would not necessarily have had access to. That said it looks like a an invaluable resource for biblical study.
One down side is the smallness of the type, but this is easily offset by the sheer quantity of data and insights.
on 4 January 2014
This is a well-appointed book of a nice quality.
The annotations are at the back, and consist of essays about the New Testament et alia., including details of Jewish life.
The New Testament text is the NRSV, containing all that is needed to meet God by a faith that is true to His word.