Amy-Jill Levine, a professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt University, has teamed up with Marc Z. Brettler of Brandeis University and 34 other Jewish scholars to produce the The Jewish Annotated New Testament (Oxford University Press). Levine, who teaches students preparing for Christian ministry at Vanderbilt Divinity School, hopes The Jewish Annotated New Testament will help Christians understand the Jewish context of their faith and help Jews see that the Christian Scriptures are not only informative about Jewish history, but are also in many places "beautiful and profound." CT editor in chief David Neff recently talked with Levine about this first-of-its-kind study Bible.
Why publish The Jewish Annotated New Testament now?
The publication is certainly timely; as several friends, both Jews and Christians, have suggested to me: "It's about time!" For Jews, looking at the New Testament is a recovery of part of our own tradition. Indeed, the more I study the New Testament, the more I learn about early Judaism, and consequently the better Jew I become.
For Christians and Jews both, it's always helpful to know the common roots of church and synagogue, to understand what we share and how we came to separate. The annotations, which draw from contemporaneous Jewish sources as well as discuss later rabbinic views on the topics in question, provide this information.
In working with Christian congregations and clergy groups, I find an enormous interest in Jesus' Jewish context—how the parables would have sounded in Jewish ears and what the controversy stories suggest about early Jewish practice. I think that if Christians want to take the Incarnation seriously, they should also take seriously where and when and to whom it occurred. ...