Biblical Archaeology Review 38:3, May/June 2012

ReViews: How Jewish Is the New Testament?

The Jewish Annotated New Testament

Edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011), xxviii + 637 pp., $35

This excellent volume consists of introductions and notes on the New Revised Standard Version text of the New Testament, together with 30 brief essays by some 50 Jewish scholars. Appendices provide timelines, lists of rabbis, calendar, weights and measures, etc.

The explanatory footnotes, together with more extended notes at the top of many pages, amount to small commentaries. For example Mark’s introduction, text and notes runs to more than 40 pages. The amount of information packed into the footnotes, regularly citing Jewish and rabbinic sources (though not modern bibliography), is impressive.

The notes well represent the character and quality of New Testament scholarship (not just Jewish scholarship) today. None of this can be regarded as one-sided, far less as Jewish propaganda, though the Jewish perspective gives many observations a special relevance. For instance, Aaron Gale, commenting on “the strong anti-Pharisaic rhetoric in Matthew” points out that “adherents of a particular group or set of beliefs often polemicize most strongly against those who share similar, but not identical, beliefs.”

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