Marc Z. Brettler, Amy Jill Levine: New Testament edition meant for Jews, Christians

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Source: Brandeis Now, 11-28-11

Jewish-annotated edition a best-seller on Amazon religion lists

Marc Z. Brettler, the Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies

It is not often that a bunch of professors’ scholarly work on an ancient religious text shoots past the thrillers, diet fads and self-improvement books that dominate the rapidly changing Amazon.com best-sellers list.

But that’s what happened over Thanksgiving break with the just-published book “The Jewish Annotated New Testament,” edited by Marc Z. Brettler, the Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies at Brandeis, and Amy-Jill Levine, the University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt.

The book peaked at number 31 of Amazon’s top 100 in all categories, and while it then settled back a bit it was still number one yesterday in both the “Bible and Other Sacred Texts” and “Christian Reference” categories. It also was the subject of a feature story last weekend in the New York Times.

The editors will hold a book party and discussion at Brandeis at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 9 in the International Lounge of Usdan Hall.Father Walter Cuenin, head of the Brandeis Interfaith Chaplaincy; Rabbi Elyse Winick, the Jewish chaplain, and Barry Shrage, director of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston also will speak.

“I had this idea after ‘The Jewish Study Bible’ was published,” says Brettler, referring to a similarly organized work that came out in 2004 and won the National Jewish Book Award. “People were excited about that, and I thought it would be interesting to try another such project. The New Testament seemed to be the logical book to do next.”

More than 30 people, all Jews, contributed introductions, annotations and essays to the new book.

“I wanted more Jews to read the New Testament and understand the majority religion in America,” Brettler said. “It also is important for Jews to know their history, and the New Testament is important to that, since the first Christians were Jews.”

But, Brettler said, “I knew Jews shied away from reading the New Testament” both because othey thought New Testaments from Christian publishers sought to proselytize and because the New Testament is deeply connected in the Jewish psyche with anti-Jewish attitudes. Because all the contributors to the project were Jews, he said, he hopes Jewish readers would feel more comfortable reading the volume.”…READ MORE

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