From a Christian perspective, that title is likely shocking. However, there is nothing divisive about this post. In fact, it is intended to be unifying. Today we are taking a look at the audio book version of a work by Amy Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler. It is titled “The Bible With and Without Jesus”. How Jews and Christians read the same stories differently.
In this book, don’t expect to find confirmation of your personal beliefs on either side of the aisle. Moreover, don’t be afraid that your views are going to come under attack. That isn’t the point of this book. Rather, it is an attempt to help Jews and Christians understand how the other side interprets the same passages.
The Bible With and Without Jesus recognizes that many passages are open to interpretation. Thus, they seek to explain the interpretation of both sides rather than attempting to isolate the intended meaning. In so doing, they end up defending both interpretations as legitimate, although not exclusively correct. The book covers the following topics.
- Adam and Eve
- Sermon on the Mount
- Blood sacrifice
- Virgin birth
- Suffering servant
- Sign of Jonah
- Psalm 22
- Son of Man
Most of these topics are readily apparent. You probably don’t need a rundown on what they are discussing. I’ll address the Sermon on the Mount since it is not. In the book, they take the teachings of Jesus from the sermon in the context of 1st century Judea and Judaism. Then, they see how those teachings match up with what the Jews who were hearing them believed.
So… is The Bible With or Without Jesus?
Herein we find the beauty of this work. The answer is left entirely up to the reader. You are not asked to keep an open mind. You’re not being sold anything. Rather, you are simply asked to have understanding and appreciation for how the other side sees things.
I highly recommend The Bible With and Without Jesus. We need more books like this that unite instead of debating. The book treats the reader as an adult capable of drawing their own conclusion. It simply gives one the insight from both sides necessary to draw that conclusion.