Levine-she did not


Amy-Jill Levine is Jewish.  She grew up in a Catholic neighborhood with both an admiration for the church (she wanted to grow up and become Pope) and a reaction to some antisemitism she encountered.  This gave her an abiding interest in Jewish-Christian relations and she has become a New Testament scholar.

So I am reading her book about Jesus, The Misunderstood Jew.

Early on she tells about her childhood with some humor.  When she was seven, a girl told her on the school bus, “You killed our Lord.”  Amy-Jill responded with indignation, “I did not.”  She discovered that the girl had gotten this impression from a priest.  This further astounded Amy-Jill because she believed that the priest’s collars were to keep them from lying : )

So from age seven she became fascinated, even obsessed, with the question of Jesus and the Jews.

She points out that American Jews and Christians tend to misunderstand each other.  Jews may think characters like Pat Robertson represent Christianity  (or Southern Baptist leader Bailey Smith, who said in 1980 that “God Almighty does not hear the prayers of a Jew”).  Christians have false impressions about Judaism.  They tend to think, for instance, that the relatively minor holiday of Hanukkah is Judaism’s most significant day.

But the main problem of Christians is that they do not really grasp the importance of Judaism in their own faith.  Hence the subtitle of Levine’s book: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus.

“After two thousand years of ignorance, the time has come for Church and Synagogue, Jews and Christians, to understand our intertwined histories, to see Jesus as a Jew who made sense to other Jews in a Jewish context, to learn how our two traditions came to a parting of the ways, to recognize how misunderstandings of Jesus and Judaism continue to foster negative stereotypes and to feed hate, and to explore how the gains of interfaith relations made over the past several decades can be nurtured and expanded (p. 16).”


About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
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