“Understanding Jesus Means Understanding Judaism” Author Tells

By Laura Fawaz, TMO

Royal Oak, MI-Author and Professor Dr. Amy-Jill Levine dedicated her career to do what she calls “helping Christians and Jews understand the Jewishness of Jesus.”

643-2She explains what Jews should know about the new testament, and gives tips to Christian Preachers on how to teach the understanding of Jesus; all in her book Understanding Jesus Means Understanding Judaism: Tips for Preaching and Teaching.

Dr. Levine is a Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences. A self-described “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible belt.” She’s been touring the county speaking at churches, synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, and other Christian institutions such as University of Detroit Mercy. Last Friday, she spoke at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Woodward in Royal Oak. Those in attendance to hear Dr. Levine speak were of all faiths, and she was sure to make each group feel includes in her speech.

In addition to offering the knowledge gained from research for her book, Dr. Levine has the remarkable ability to be hard-hitting, pointing out how even liberal Christians can inadvertently misunderstand who Jesus was, as a Jew, and what he stood for. Still, she has a witted humor with analogies that really hit the point she’s trying to make, and in an entertaining manner.

642When asked what inspired her to write on this topic, Dr. Levine answer “For the Jewish annotated new testament, there were two things that were driving me: One, I was very interested in trying to get Jews to read the new testament, I think Jews should read the new testament, I think we should read the Qur’an, I think we should read our own holy text that we don’t read as fully as we should because I’m tired of religious illiteracy.”

She brought up a point that seems to be common among all minorities, that, as she put it, if we want our neighbors to respect us, which means not only just meeting us, but also knowing something about our traditions and our values and our scriptures, we owe our neighbors the same courtesy.

“This book serves as its annotations and its essays to correct unfortunate negative stereotypes, and then allow the Christian gospel to shine through as the wonderful text that it really is,” concluded Dr. Levine.


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