Probably not - but he would've used Facebook! So says Vanderbilt UniversityScripture scholar Amy-Jill Levine. Her insights into the Jewishness of Jesus and the Scriptures, have helped many Christian leaders come to a more authentic understanding of Jesus and his ministry.
Dr. Levine, author of The Misunderstood Jew and The Meaning of the Bible (among others), has devoted much of her academic career to helping people develop a deeper understanding of Jesus within his context.
In this interview she talks not just about the historical Jesus, but of the importance and opportunity of intentional interfaith dialog today - which can build our churches and ourselves.
Bringing reasoned common sense to Scripture is perhaps the best starting point to dispelling harmful stereotypes and giving us a deeper understanding of Jesus. Here are my notes from the interview:
The Big 'C'
Yes, it's context. And it influences more than we probably think. So the best way to understand Jesus, is to work at understanding Jesus, first through studying the Scriptures, then learning about his own context by looking all resources from the period: archaeological, inscriptional, literary.
It's a term Dr. Levine borrows from Krister Stendahl that suggests people with different religious beliefs and practices approach one another with more than mere tolerance of the 'other,' but of sincere appreciation for how people experience the Divine.
Creative ideas like a bus tour of other places of worship, to take people out of their churches and into the holy places of others, can be a great place to start real interfaith conversations. How might you do this in your community?
About Amy-Jill Levine
Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Science in Nashville, TN; she is also Affiliated Professor, Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge UK. Holding the B.A. from Smith College, and the M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University, she has honorary doctorates from the University of Richmond, the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, the University of South Carolina-Upstate, Drury University, and Christian Theological Seminary. Her recent books include The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus (HarperOne) and The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us, co-authored with Douglas Knight (HarperOne). With Marc Brettler she edited the Jewish Annotated New Testament (Oxford). A self-described Yankee Jewish feminist, Professor Levine is a member of Congregation Sherith Israel, an Orthodox Synagogue, although she is often quite unorthodox.
Books Amy-Jill Recommends
The Jewish Annotated New Testament - Levine and Brettler