I’m a sucker for buying Bibles, as I described in an earlier post. I know, I know… It’s sort of my line of work, but how many Bibles does one person need? If I read just one of them more often than I do, I’m sure I’d be a better person!
Last year, I was enthralled by the C.S. Lewis Bible (which I purchased and treasure) and the Common English Bible (from which I now read in church). This year a new scholarly study Bible—an NRSV New Testament, actually—has caught my eye: The Jewish Annotated New Testament, co-edited by a New Testament scholar at Vanderbilt named Amy-Jill Levine. (Click here for an article about it in the New York Times.)
Some of us Methodists may have encountered Dr. Levine before. She was a very insightful and winsome commentator on the video portion of the short-term Disciple New Testament study. I think she pops up in some other Disciple videos as well.
I should point out one interesting fact about Dr. Levine: although she obviously has an abiding love and respect for Christianity, she is religiously and ethnically a Jew—Orthodox, even. This makes her an anomaly in the world of New Testament scholarship, but it also makes her perspective on the thoroughgoing Jewish-ness of the New Testament and the Jewish roots of Christianity invaluable.
If you happened to take the short-term Disciple class, you know what I’m talking about. Her words about dietary laws, “uncleanness,” and even evangelism were fascinating.
Why do we need to understand the New Testament from a Jewish perspective? Because, as my man N.T. Wright is always pointing out, the story of the New Testament is, first and foremost, Israel’s story. By all means, through faith and baptism, we Gentile believers become part of that story, but it is Israel’s story first. We will be better Christians if we understand how it is that way.
If this study Bible facilitates that understanding, I’m sure I’ll be a fan.
I’ll let you know. Amazon.com just received my order!