Books and Articles

"Removing Anti-Jewish Polemic from our Christian Lectionaries: A Proposal."  This clear, cogent article by Professor Norman A. Beck, PhD., is accessible at http://jcrelations.net/en/?item=737.

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The Jewish Annotated New Testament: New Revised Standard Version Bible Translation, Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, Eds., Oxford University Press, 2011

As the title says, this version of the New Testament is edited entirely by Jews. Professor Levine teaches New Testament at Vanderbilt and Professor Brettler teaches at Brandeis.  It includes notes and essays by 50 leading Jewish scholars, showing how Jewish practices and writings influenced the New Testament writers.  To read this book is to gain new insight into what the New Testament means.

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The New Testament: A New Translation and Redaction, Norman A. Beck, Fairway Press, Lima, Ohio, 2001

Professor Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University.  He has also written Mature Christianity in the 21st Century: The Recognition and Repudiation of the Anti-Jewish Polemic of the New Testament (Crossroad:1994).

This book offers a new, more sensitive translation of the New Testament.  For instance, in the Gospel of John, in each instance where “the Jews” is used disparagingly, Beck may substitute, “some of Jesus’ own people,” or “some of the religious leaders who opposed Jesus,” etc., depending on the context.  Professor Beck has also worked out a four-year lectionary, which is appended to the translation.  This new lectionary avoids the use of defamatory texts.

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The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, Amy-Jill Levine, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006

Publishers Weekly wrote, "A strong and convincing case for understanding Jesus as 'a Jew speaking to Jews,' and for viewing Christianity as a Jewish movement.

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Preaching Without Contempt: Overcoming Unintended Anti-Judaism, Marilyn J. Salmon, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2006

Salmon writes in the Preface, "Caricatures of Judaism are so deeply ingrained in Christian tradition it is difficult to recognize them for what they are: a creation of early Christianity apologetics to show the superiority of Christianity....  The purpose of this book is to raise awareness of the negative images of Judaism that commonly occur in preaching, to learn to recognize them, and to adopt strategies to avoid repeating them."  This book is not only for those who preach, but for teachers and church leaders.

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Jesus, Judaism and Christian Anti-Judaism: Reading the New Testament after the Holocaust, Paula Fredriksen and Adele Reinhartz, eds., Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 2002

From the Introduction, page 5:
“We argue, and by the presentation of historical data we seek to demonstrate, that first-century Judaism was first-century Christianity’s context and its content, not its contrast; that this Judaism was not Christianity’s background but its matrix.  Think otherwise, and it becomes impossible to understand, much less to see, the two historical figures who stand as the churches’ foundation, namely, Jesus and Paul.  Think otherwise, and it becomes impossible to hear what they said.

As scholars of ancient Christianity who are also committed to interfaith dialogue, we assemble these essays for you to think with as you study the New Testament.”

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Paradoxy: Creating Christian Community beyond Us and Them,
Ken Howard, Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA, 2010


This is about overcoming divisions between conservative and liberal Christians, but its principles speak also to how different religions can have a common relationship to God without sacrificing the integrity of their respective beliefs.

 

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Constantine’s Sword: the Church and the Jews: A History, James Carroll, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2002

Anti-Semitism can become theoretical for those of us who are not Jews, who are not anti-Semitic, and who have not witnessed first-hand acts of hatred.  That described me until I read this book.  History came alive for me then, as did my grief over the atrocities Christians have perpetrated against Jews.  This is a book to quicken the conscience of Christians.

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Anti-Semitism and Early Christianity: Issues of Polemic and Faith, ed., Craig A. Evans and Donald A. Hagner, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1993

Education constitutes one effective measure in combating anti-Semitism.  This book is a compilation of essays that could provide the basis for a thorough-going adult education program on Christianity’s issues with Judaism.  It takes the point of view that a proper understanding of the historical and cultural context of the New Testament (and post-New Testament) writings, does not support anti-Semitism.

Among them, the fourteen authors address: antecedents of New Testament polemic, anti-Semitism and the New Testament writings, and anti-Semitism and post-New Testament writings.


Preaching the Gospels without Blaming the Jews: A Lectionary Commentary, Ronald J. Allen & Clark M. Williamson, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2004

This provides a wealth of information on the first century context of Judaism.  By showing that the tensions between the Jesus’ disciples and those of other expressions of Judaism were largely trumped up, the authors open our eyes to the possibility of a richer Christian faith.  They comment on all Sunday readings in the three-year cycle of the lectionary in this enriching way.


The Enduring Covenant: the Education of Christians and the end of anti-Semitism.  Padraic O’Hare, Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997.  

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Has God only one blessing?: Judaism as a source of Christian self-understanding. 
Mary C.
Boys, Mahweh, NJ: Paulist Press, 2000.

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Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism, Rosemary Radford Ruether, WIPF & STOCK Publishers, Eugene, 1995

This is a scholarly history and very readable.  At least, it is clear and thoughtful in expression; it may so trouble the reader’s conscience as not to be readable.  It is a strong start in reconfiguring our faith along lines faithful to its Jewish roots, not in conflict with them.