Jesus the Jew
102 Pages

Jesus the Jew


102 Pages


The ramifications of the crucifixion of Jesus by Jews are still felt deeply today. Discussion of Judaism and Christianity, Israelis and Palestinians, and the Jewish heritage of Jesus evoke high-level emotional responses from Christians and non-Christians. Discussion becomes heated argument as factions divide and take sides.Centuries-old feelings of fear, anger, hostility, resentment, repression, and blame fan the flames of unrest and disagreement.
Jesus the Jew speaks to these issues. Markus Barth addresses Jews and Christians, in fact, everyone who is looking for a new or deepened understanding of Israel and of the church, especially in respect to servicing truth, justice, freedom, and peace.
Barth considers two major areas of conflict--What Does It Mean That Jesus Is a Jew? and Israel and the Palestinians. He explores biblical testimony, the uniqueness of Jesus, and Christian responsibility. He deals with the protests and arguments of Arab scholars, biblical scholars, and modern journalists.
Jesus and the Jew offers an insightful look at tradition, history, and the Scriptures to provide a perspective through which Christians, Jews, Arabs, and Moslems may learn to accept each other.



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Published 22 December 2015
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EAN13 9781725235519
Language English
Document size 12 MB

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Wipf and Stock Publishers 199 W 8th Ave, Suite 3 Eugene, OR 97401 Jesus the Jew What does it mean that Jesus is a Jew? Israel and the Palestinians By Barth, Markus and Prussner, Frederick Copyright©1978 by Barth, Markus ISBN 13: 978-1-4982-2429-1 Publication date 5/1/2014 Previously published by John Knox Press, 1978
It was the year 1973 that îrst saw the origin of not just one buttwo books entitledJesus the Jew.Curiously but appropri-ately, both were by New Testament scholars, of whom one was a Christian, the other a Jew. The Jewish scholar was the Hungarian-born Oxford pro-fessor of Jewish Studies GézaVermés, then just beginning his trilogy of books on the man Jesus of Nazareth. Author of two books on the Dead Sea Scrolls, dyed-in-the-wooltalmîd, 1 co-author of the new three-volume “Schürer,” Vermés was eminently well equipped to re-anchor “Jesus the Jew” unshak-ably in his own context of îrst-century Palestinian Judaism. By so doing, Vermés placed himself îrmly in the venerable line of eminent Jewish scholars from Joseph Klausner to Amy-Jill Levine and Paula Fredriksen who—to the delight of the more open-minded of their colleagues, not least of the Pontiîcal Biblical Commission (1983) and the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion (1988)—have made the New Testament and especially the man Jesus of Nazareth their own special area of study. But for theologically minded Christians, such veneration and such delight cannot long endure unless thoroughly grounded in a îrm theological base. But who is better qualiîed to provide such a base than the Swiss-American New Testament scholar Markus Barth? For Markus Barth is not just a New Testament exegete, but a biblical theologian. Furthermore, he is an “engaged” theologian with a history of îrsthand experience
1  Emil Schürer, Géza Vermés et al,The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, vols. I–III (1973–1987).
and passionate involvement with the “Jewish question,” starting from his student days in early-1930s Germany, when his father founded the anti-NaziBekennende Kirche, right to the end of his life. And how better to explain that biblical-theological base than Markus Barth does in his three slender worksIsrael and the 2Church (1969; 2005),Jesus the Jewand (1978), The People of God(1983) ? Throughout these three books, Barth’s primary concern is to overcome old Christian attitudes toward the Jews: as deicides, as enemy, as parties to the “Old Covenant” now superseded by the Christian “New Covenant,” as interesting forebears worthy of respect and even dialogue but no more, or as just one of so many vital and interesting “world religions” today.Instead, by appealing to such New Testament passages as the parable of the Prodigal Son, Rom 9–11, and Eph 2–3 (which he considers Pauline), what Barth wants to show is that the Christian church is no more but also no less than the younger prodigal son of God and brother of Israel (Luke 15:11–32), or—changing the metaphor—the wild olive shoot engrafted “contrary to nature” into—and thus owing its very life and existence to—the original olive tree which is Israel (Rom 11:17–24). But Markus Barth does not draw his examples from Romans and Luke alone. In a bold move, Barth—in these three slim books, 5 in his earlier bookThe Broken Wall, and in his two-volume Anchor Bible commentary on Ephesians (1974)—concludes not only that Paul himself wrote Ephesians, but that the letter speaks of the reconciliation in Christ, not just of Jewish Christians and
2  Markus Barth,Israel and the Church: contribution to a dialogue for peace(Richmond, VA.: John Knox Press, 1969; repr. with Fore-word by Eberhard Busch, Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2005).  Markus Barth,Jesus the Jewcontaining “What does it Mean that Jesus is a Jew?” and “Israel and the Palestinians” ([1973/1974] Atlanta: John Knox Press, ©1978; square brackets indicate date of original composition and/or publication in original language).  Markus Barth,The People of God([1977] JSNT Supplement Se-ries, 5; Shefîeld, England: JSOT Press, ©1983). 5  Markus Barth,The Broken Wall: a study of the Epistle to the Ephe-sians(1959).
Gentile Christians, but ofallEspecially Jews and Christians. in regard to the Pauline authorship of Ephesians, this is a move in which fewer and fewer New Testament scholars follow Barth. For Ephesians is now generally attributed to a gifted student of Paul, who carries Paul’s thought further, wraps up many loose Pauline ends, and înally presents us with a cosmic Christology might well have taken Paul’s breath away. With regard to Jewish-Christian reconciliation, almost the îrst thing we note is that when the author says “we,” he means Jewish-Christians (cf. 1:12–13); when he says “you,” he means Gentile Christians (2:1—3:1; cf. 4:17–24); and when he says “they,” he means unconverted pagans (4:17–19). The vast majority of Jews who have not accepted Christ—who so obsessed Paul throughout Romans but especially in Rom 9–11—are not even on Ephesians’ radar screen. Yet Barth seems to concede this point, even while re-emphasizing his two main theses, when he writes: “This body, bride, or temple [in Ephesians] consists only of those Gentiles and Jews who believe in Christ and are sealed with the Spirit (1:12–14; 4:30). And yet, the sealing of part of the Jews and Gentiles reveals God’s claim upon thewhole‘circumcision’ and ‘uncircumcision’ (2:11). It conîrms and manifests the validity of Jesus Christ’s rule, and of peace as well, for thewhole creation6 (1:10; 2:17).” For in these books Markus Barth presents us with not just one buttwomain theses. His îrst thesis concerns “only” Jews and Christians, according to which God’s great “mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations . . . has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs [with the Jews], members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (3:4–6). For this reason—and not just because the two are reconciled in Christ, but all the more because the Jews are senior—Gentile Christians cannot subsist without an especially close relation, not just with
6 The People of God, p. 47, my emphases.
Jewish Christians, but withall Jews.Barth says, “‘In the As [Jewish] Messiah’ [‘in Christ’] . . . it is impossible to claim or to enjoy any communion with God which does not include the Jews.”’ Barth’s second thesis concerns not just Jews and Christians 8 but, as we have just seen, “the whole creation“Especially.” For in the Pauline letters it is made very clear that the overcoming of the separation between Jews and Gentiles is the key to the re-moval ofalldividing walls, whether they exist between races, nations, social classes, or age groups.” Again: “According to I Corinthians 12:13, Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:28 (cf. Ephesians 2:11–22 and 5:20—6:9), the removal of the Jewish-Gentile segregation and discrimination precedes, illustrates, 10 and entails the unity overcomingall otherAnd separations.” again: “The Jews and Gentiles united by Christ were . . . a beginning that was and is representative of thewhole mass of 11 all mankind.” A înal point: Ever since 9/11/2001, the West and perhaps the whole world have been preoccupied by those religiously fanatic Muslims who have now become not only our problematic “neighbor” but indeed our “enemy,” whom we nevertheless are 12 enjoined to “love” and even to “pray for” (Matt 5:44–45). But given today’s disheartening circumstances, just how are we supposed to do that? Here too, perhaps Markus Barth’s New Testament theology can give us strength and guidance. For according to Ephesians, he says, Christ reconciles not only Jews and Gentiles, but—mysteriously, and in his own good time—allhumankind. Hence the Church’s continuing need for an ever-
Israel and the Church,p. 99. 8 The People of God,p. 47, my emphasis. Israel and the Church, p. 41, my emphasis. 10 Israel and the Church, p. 123, n. 36 to p. 41, my emphasis. 11 Israel and the Church, pp. 9495, my emphasis. 12  Although unreservedly afîrming the Jews’ right to their own state, in “Israel and the Palestinians” [1973/74] Barth also emphasizes the legitimate rights and concerns of the Palestinians. But today the Mid-dle Eastern situation has moved far beyond that of 1973 and 1974.
renewed eschatological orientation. For it is in that hope alone that we may—and indeed must—continue to work and to pray for the great reconciliation that is to come.
Charles Dickinson La Garde-Freinet, France, July 2006