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Publisher's Summary

In The Misunderstood Jew, scholar Amy-Jill Levine helps Christians and Jews understand the "Jewishness" of Jesus so that their appreciation of him deepens and a greater interfaith dialogue can take place. Levine's humor and informed truth - telling provokes honest conversation and debate about how Christians and Jews should understand Jesus, the New Testament, and each other.

©2006 Amy-Jill Levine (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Written for the general public, this is an outstanding addition to the literature of interfaith dialogue." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about The Misunderstood Jew

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Courageous

A courageous and forthright book about a difficult and controversial subject: Jesus and Judaism. She presents a substantial amount of evidence that many of Jesus' most familiar teachings derive from Judaism. But at the same time she is respectful of Christian tradition and beliefs.

We do neither side any good, she suggests, by trying to erase the differences between Judaism and Christianity. To Christians, Jesus is the Messiah, and within Christian tradition there are good reasons for believing that. To Jews, he is not the Messiah, and within Jewish tradition there are good reasons for believing that. She presents the reasons on both sides.

Part of Levine's courage appears in her willingness to take even possible allies to task. All too often, she says, even liberal Christian scholars and presses cast Judaism in the role of an oppressive and rigid system against which Jesus was fighting. (The real oppressors in first-century Palestine were the Romans.)

Donna Postel's narration seems at times to be channeling Amy-Jill Levine. I've heard some of Levine's lectures in the Great Courses series, and I had to remind myself from time to time that this book was being read by someone other than the author.

11 people found this helpful

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Defensive Position

Author is a Jew who teaches New Testament. She knows the christian scriptures better than most Christian's. She proposes interfaith conversations. All this is good and some fresh. I feel that she comes off very defensive of Judaism and sometimes thin skinned. Her discussion on interfaith conversations require Christian's to make the more changes and have the most tolerant positions.

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Extremely educational

I may not agree with everything but that is not the purpose of this book. This book is meant to provoke thought and it succeeded beyond expectations.
Thank you Ms Levine

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Excellent scholarship

Excellent scholarship as I am a seminary grad from a Protestant tradition and now a Reform Jew.

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Should Be Read By Every Christian

Excellent explanations for many misunderstandings that many Christians have about the Bible and the Jews.

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Not Levine's Best

Let me be clear - I LOVE Amy Jill Levine! This just wasn't my favorite material of hers. Let me first recommend her book on the Parables: "Stories by Jesus."

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Not What I Expected or Wanted

If you're seeking a book that looks at Jesus' teachings through the eyes of a first-century Jew, then this is not the book for you. I was hoping this was going to be a book that helped readers embrace richer meaning from the Bible by helping us to understand what Jesus' words would mean to his contemporaries. Instead, it's a repetitive exposition of how scripture is interpreted by some Christians with an anti-Judaism meaning. The entire book is more or less a defense of Judaism from anti-Jewish Christians.

4 people found this helpful

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Engaging, fascinating and filled with details you probably never noticed in the NT

I read this book for a Christology course. As a Jew studying Spiritual Direction at a Catholic seminary it’s a required course. Levine not only highlighted the struggles I have experienced in seminary, she also helped me to see things I had never noticed before in the NT. I had no idea that the Catholic Church had Midrashic texts about Mary, Jesus’s mother. I was previously at a Protestant Seminary and I agree with Levine that the Catholics are way more open and accepting of Judaism (at least the Jesuits and Basilians seem okay).
I loved the details “Jesus wore tzitzit”, the “Sanhedrin would not meet during Passover” and her commentary on “Christian” seders.
The book reaffirmed my Jewish belief (not that I was entertaining becoming Christian) while giving me more insight into why there is so much anti-semitism. I was unaware of the explicit blame of Jews for Jesus’s death in the NT. Also her explanation of why the Jewish Tanakh and Christian OT are sequenced in a different order was fascinating.
I think I could re-read this book a few times and come away with new insights. I’m looking forward to reading more of Levine’s books, and now I’m following her on Facebook. She is awesome. I do wonder though how an Orthodox Jew can study and teach the NT and not be shut out by her community. I’m reform and some members of my community have shunned me for going to study at a seminary.
I like Levine’s discussion of Jewish-Christian dialogue but I find myself increasingly cut off from Judaism by the community the more I engage with Christians.

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Too many assumptions

Narration was adequate, but the content lacked any depth of research or validation. Author seemed to simply be providing their perspective on New Testament. Arguments were not insightful. Tried hard, but stopped after five chapters. Did help me go to sleep though.

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Brilliant and Informative

I am niw able to ezplain away all kinds of inconsistencies that plague the darker corners of the Bible, particularly the N.T. which is supposed to base itself on the Old Testament with mathematical precision.

1 person found this helpful