Judaism and Jesus
This insightful volume represents the “hands-on” experience in the world of academia of two Jewish scholars, one of Orthodox background and the other a convert to the Jewish faith. As a series of separate but interrelated essays, it approaches multiple issues touching both the historical Jesus (himself a pious Jew) and the modern phenomenon of Messianic Judaism. It bridges the gap between the typically isolated disciplines of Jewish and Christian scholarship and forges a fresh level of understanding across religious boundaries. It delves into such issues as the nature and essence of Jesus’ message (pietistic, militant or something of a hybrid), and whether Messianic Jews should be welcome in the larger Jewish community. Its ultimate challenge is to view sound scholarship as a means of bringing together disparate faith traditions around a common academic table. Serious research of the “great Nazarene” becomes interfaith discourse.
Zev Garber is Emeritus Professor and Chair of Jewish Studies and Philosophy at Los Angeles Valley College, and he has served as President of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew. He has authored hundreds of articles and reviews, and his publications include 14 academic books, including Mel Gibson’s Passion: The Film, the Controversy, and Its Implications; The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation; and Teaching the Historical Jesus.
Kenneth Hanson is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of the University of Central Florida Judaic Studies Program. His many scholarly articles focus on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the historical Jesus, and Jewish Christianity. He has published several books of popular scholarship, including Dead Sea Scrolls: The Untold Story and Secrets from the Lost Bible. He teaches a wide range of courses, including the Hebrew language and literature, the Hebrew Bible, and the historical Jesus.
“This is a book that I can highly recommend to scholars with some background in the field of Jewish-Christian studies. Zev Garber is an Orthodox Jewish scholar long involved in the field who has written numerous excellent works on the subject. Kenneth Hanson, as he tells the readers in his preface to this short volume, started out as an evangelical Christian who was drawn to the Hebrew language and, through interactions with the communities of modern Messianic Judaism, became a convert to Judaism. Garber, in his introduction speaks of his own efforts over the years to combat the ancient Christian teaching of contempt against Jews and Judaism which, as he rightly states, formed the bedrock of modern racial antisemitism that lead to the Shoah (Holocaust). He describes his efforts, and those of other scholars, Jewish and Christian, to help people, Jewish and Christian, to understand the Jewishness of Jesus and his teachings. […] [The] de-Judaization of Jesus and of early Christianity became generally accepted by Christians over the centuries. And it is for this reason that the excellent book by Garber and Hanson had to be written. The point of the book has been to reclaim the essence of Christianity in the Judaism which gave it birth and to help modern Jews and Christians come together in dialogue and, it is to be hoped, in working together, as the Hebrew prophets and Jesus strongly argued for, to bring about a better world, to help those in need, and prepare the way for the coming/return of the Messiah, who will announce the Messianic Age, the age of universal peace, justice and harmony for all Jews and for all Christians and for all humanity.”
Dr Eugene J. Fisher
Distinguished Professor of Theology, Saint Leo University, USA
“As a series of separate but interrelated essays, Judaism and Jesus approaches multiple issues touching both the historical Jesus (himself a pious Jew) and the modern phenomenon of Messianic Judaism. It bridges the gap between the typically isolated disciplines of Jewish and Christian scholarship and forges a fresh level of understanding across religious boundaries. […] A unique and collective work of seminal and meticulously presented scholarship, Judaism and Jesus is an impressively thoughtful and thought-provoking work that will prove to have an enduring value for the study of first century Jewish Christianity and as a curriculum textbook for seminary, community, college, and university library collections.”
Midwest Book Review, MBR Bookwatch, March 2020
“Scholars, religious leaders, and other readers interested in Judaism and Christianity should welcome this attempt by Zev Garber and Kenneth Hanson to explore the relationship between the two faiths. Judaism and Jesus differs from other publications on the same themes by its unusually sensitive and nuanced approach to a potentially explosive subject. It carries a mild and reconciliatory undertone, promoting a tolerant and inclusive line. For most Christian and Jewish writers, it has been more convenient to look at the two traditions as fully separated and even hostile to each other. Garber and Hanson are well aware of the troubled history that has often characterized the relations between the two communities of faiths; at the same time, they pay attention to unifying elements. […] Composed of essays that the authors have published in recent years, Judaism and Jesus is a timely book. It discusses questions and dilemmas that stand at the heart of Jewish and Christian scholarship “since German scholars have begun the quest for the historical Jesus” (vii). […] The book carries, besides a scholarly outlook, a vision of interfaith concord and cooperation. The book’s last paragraph declares that “the time is ripe for collaborative effort and the free interchange of ideas, from the academic world to the general public” (156). This is inspiring. With each chapter standing on its own and carrying its own bibliography, the book makes for easy and pleasant reading. This is not self-understood, considering the richness and complexity of the topic, as well as the extensive number and variety of sources the authors have utilized in in their work. This is a book worth reading and is highly recommended.”
Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Reading Religion, March, 2021
“[T]ime and time again, Zev Garber and Kenneth Hanson prove themselves to be incisive scholars with new and fruitful readings and understandings and above all, they are courageous. I, for one, look forward to reading more of their work, whether together or separately.”
Bar-Ilan University, Israel; Review of Biblical Literature, December 2021
“Works such as Judaism and Jesus by Garber and Hanson are invaluable for the future of interfaith dialogue between traditional Jews and modern Messianic Jews. For centuries, Jews and Christians (including Messianic Jews) have lived in separate parallel religious worlds and have abstained from the controversial subject of the Jewish Jesus. […] Courageous scholars from both theological persuasions have found sufficient grounds to bring them to the same table to discuss difficult New Testament passages and propose helpful interpretations. Zev Garber and Kenneth Hanson find themselves at the forefront of this dialogue.”
Hélène M. Dallaire
Denver Seminary; Hebrew Studies 61 (2020)
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