SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION

The Bible with and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently

HarperOne. Oct. 2020. 512p. ISBN 9780062560155. $34.99. REL
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Levine (New Testament, Vanderbilt Univ.) and Brettler (Judaic studies, Duke Univ.) had previously collaborated to produce The Jewish Annotated New Testament. This new project focuses on the lenses by which Christians call the Old Testament and Jews frequently refer to as the Tanakh is interpreted. For Christians, that would be Jesus, while Jews look to their shared experience as filtered through the Talmud. Using stories and passages most familiar to Christians, Levine and Brettler attempt to reconstruct possible ways these passages might originally have been heard. They then look at the various reinterpretations of the text in the first centuries BCE and CE, how they diverged according to Christian and Jewish belief, and the subtle and not-so-subtle polemics that were then developed.
VERDICT Previously, Levine and Brettler have provided support for the idea that Christians and Jews should view the New Testament as Jewish literature. Here, they go a step further to argue that the scriptures that some call the Old Testament and others the Tanakh owe their meanings to the communities in which their interpretations have developed, effectively showing how the separate interpretations may never converge, but the integrity of each can be appreciated.

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