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Jesus Reclaimed: Jewish Perspectives on the Nazarene

Walter Homolka
Translated by Ingrid Shafer
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 166
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  • Book Info
    Jesus Reclaimed
    Book Description:

    After centuries of persecution, oppression, forced migrations, and exclusion in the name of Christ, the development of a Jewish "Quest for the Historical Jesus" might seem unexpected. This book gives an overview and analysis of the various Jewish perspectives on the Nazarene throughout the centuries, emphasizing the variety of German voices in Anglo-American contexts. It explores the reasons for a steady increase in Jewish interest in Jesus since the end of the eighteenth century, arguing that this growth had a strategic goal: the justification of Judaism as a living faith alongside Christianity.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-580-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Leonard Swidler

    Rabbi Walter Homolka carefully lays out the contributions Jewish scholars have been making to the ever-fuller historical understanding of the most influential Jew—or perhaps the most influential human being—ever, Jesus of Nazareth. It is built on solid scholarship but written in terms that make it accessible to the educated layperson.

    Now in the early twenty-first century, we are still learning more about Jesus of Nazareth as a result of the “third quest of the historical Jesus.” The first quest was launched during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment by scholars like Hermann Reimarus and gained momentum in the nineteenth century with...

  4. Translator’s Preface
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    Ingrid Shafer
  5. Preface
    (pp. xix-xxii)
    Rabbi Walter Homolka
  6. Introduction. When a Jew Looks at the Sources: The Jesus of History
    (pp. 1-12)

    The early Christian Gospels are considered the most important sources for the life of the historical Jesus.¹ The Passion is of course the best documented episode. The earliest of the three Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of Mark, dates to around 70 CE and is based on earlier sources. The source with the highest degree of authenticity is the socalled Q source where we can read Jesus’s words. John’s Gospel—the latest of the four Gospels, dated around the end of the first century—has limited historical value because of its post-Easter faith perspective. The non-Christian testimonials (Flavius Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus)...

  7. Chapter 1 Jesus and His Impact on Jewish Antiquity and the Middle Ages
    (pp. 13-28)

    Rabbinical Judaism’s victory after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE , ushered in a kind of normative Judaism whereby attitudes that did not comply with fundamental beliefs of the newly established standard were dismissed as heretical by the rabbinic elite. The term for antirabbinic Jews and heretics wasmin(plural:minim). In the early Talmudic literature, in addition to “species” (kind) and “anomaly” (variant),minmeant “gender” and “sexuality.” At the time, this insult was not explicitly aimed at Jewish Christians, that is, Christians; Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1 contains an entire list of heretics who will have no part...

  8. Chapter 2 The Historical Jesus: A Jewish and a Christian Quest
    (pp. 29-100)

    The first real rapprochement between Jews and Christians came in the early modern period. The dawn of the Enlightenment was the dawn of new methodologies and questioning across religious and ethnic divides. Rabbi Jacob Emden’s (1697–1776) research was an early Jewish beacon of the changing times. He wrote about how Jesus’s message was not in fact directed to the Jewish people, but exclusively to the surrounding peoples in order to inspire them to follow the Noahide Laws. He wrote:

    Unlike the Karaites and the Sabbatians, Christians and Muslims belong to a community that exists for the sake of heaven...

  9. Chapter 3 Jesus the Jew and Joseph Ratzinger’s Christ: A Theological U-Turn
    (pp. 101-110)

    Despite harsh judgment from Géza Vermes, the quest of the historical Jesus from both Christians and Jews has been given new wind due to Joseph Ratzinger’s (b. 1927) Jesus trilogy, which began to be published in 2007. Is it not incredible that there have been almost no comments on Ratzinger’s book from the Jewish perspective to date? As I was unable to find anything, I asked my colleague Rabbi Michael A. Signer (1945–2009), a professor at the Catholic University of Notre Dame and one of the initiators of “Dabru Emet:A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity” from 2002....

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 111-116)

    Over the last two thousand years Jewish perceptions of Jesus have undergone an exciting transformation: from confrontation, distance, dissociation and anxiety to a cautious repatriation. What began as a defensive attitude has now become a largely self-confident affiliation with Jesus; where Jesus is presented as one of the many voices within the Jewish world of his time. This has been the result of an impressively large body of Jewish research, especially since the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.¹ Parallel to this, and often without any real reciprocity, the Christian quest attempted to strip Christ of his dogmatic veil in order to...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 117-134)
  12. Index
    (pp. 135-144)