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The Jewish Gospels

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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  165 ratings  ·  36 reviews
In July 2008 a front-page story in the New York Times reported on the discovery of an ancient Hebrew tablet, dating from before the birth of Jesus, which predicted a Messiah who would rise from the dead after three days. Commenting on this startling discovery at the time, noted Talmud scholar Daniel Boyarin argued that “some Christians will find it shocking—a challenge to ...more
Hardcover, 200 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by The New Press (first published March 20th 2012)
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Elliot Ratzman
Apr 28, 2012 Elliot Ratzman rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Interested in religion, Christian-Jewish relations, history
Christians and Jews have been misreading the Gospels as signaling a definite break between the two religions for centuries. Jews claim that the Gospels advocate heretical ideas about a divine messiah—a bi-theism— alien to Israelite religion; Christians have been reading Jesus as a radical innovator leaving his Jewish context and hostile to Jewish Law. Both readings, Boyarin argues, are wrong. Boyarin helped spread the framework that Christianity was a version of Judaism for its first few centuri ...more
Tamara
Whew. I'm a little bit in love with Daniel Boyarin's mind. I'm not fully recovered from this book yet, and I'd like to hear Boyarin talk about the gospel of Mark. I plan to pick up his book on Paul soon so that I can continue to hear Boyarin's voice. The Jewish Gospels asserts that Jesus of Nazareth was making a clear claim to divinity when he referred to himself as "the son of man." Boyarin explicates Mark passages verse by verse, linking them to Daniel 7 and other apocalyptic texts. He cites t ...more
Greg
A Review of Daniel Boyarin’s book,
The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ
By Greg Cusack
January 10, 2015

I came across this recent book (published in 2012) by reading James Carroll’s book, Jesus Actually. After reading it I better understand its pivotal importance to Mr. Carroll’s arguments in his own book.
Dr. Boyarin is the Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley and argues, in essence, that the coming of the Messiah was fully im
...more
Lee Harmon
Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, along comes Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic Culture and Rhetoric at the University of California.

You think Christianity’s unique contribution to Judaism was the introduction of a god-man? Wrong. Could it be the idea of a suffering savior? Wrong again. Maybe that Jesus rejected Jewish dietary laws and Sabbath restrictions, freeing us from the Law? Hardly; Boyarin paints a very Jewish Jesus in his reading of the Gospels, certainly a Jesus
...more
Franz
The arguments in this book by Boyarin, a rabbinic scholar at UC Berkeley, will be shocking to many Christians and Jews, but they may be more easily accepted by readers of Bart Ehrman's and James Tabor's books of the history of Christianity in its first couple of centuries. Boyarin reads the Gospels, especially Mark, as textual evidence for regarding Christianity as originally a minor offshoot of Judaism. The Jesus and his immediate followers were wholeheartedly Jewish. Jesus' teachings were soli ...more
Kelly Head
Boyarin, who teaches at UC Berkeley and has written previously on Paul from a Jewish perspective, makes a very compelling case that Jesus saw himself as the embodiment of common Jewish notions of the Messiah/Son of Man contrary to what much of contemporary biblical scholarship has established as a supposed consensus, namely, that much of the "high" Christology of Christianity originated after the death of Jesus in a purely Gentile environment. Using texts like Daniel 7, Isaiah 53, the Similitude ...more
Marge Prohofsky
I have always thought that Jesus lived his life as a devout Jew. If the only argument is in Mark, that Jesus allowed "any" (unKosher) food to be eaten (which I agree with the Rabbi, the argument seems to be more about purity laws, than about kashrut) then, in my opinion, it still wouldn't make sense for Jesus to break with traditional Judaism over "just" kashrut. You could argue that he had to start somewhere, yet, he doesn't start breaking from Jewish tradition in the gospels and just keep expl ...more
Charlene Mathe
This is a brief book (200 small pages including index) that examines the literature of second temple Judaism, especially the Books of Daniel, First Enoch and Fourth Ezra, to reconceptualize the meaning of the Son of Man persona and Messiah expectation. All this leads Boyarin to conclude that, "If Daniel is the prophecy the Gospels are the fulfillment" (p.52).
Boyarin exploits his extensive knowledge of Talmud to tease out disguised references to the historical Jesus. I was very interested in his
...more
Michale
This was tough. I'm no Bible scholar, but I found myself less than convinced by Boyarin that the concepts of apotheosis and theophany were mainstream Jewish ideas at the end of the Second Temple period. His basing so much of his argument on non-canonical books, such as Enoch I and II and Fourth Ezra didn't reassure me in this regard, although I well know that the canon was not codified until quite later, and by those who did not share these approaches. He also draws a direct link between these b ...more
Danny Daley
Noted Jewish scholar Daniel Boyarin challenges the normal Christian notion of Jesus, but rather than doing it from a conspiratorial perspective that can be easily discounted, he relies on his rigorous and trustworthy scholarship as a respected Jewish thinker to cast new light on the Gospel accounts.

For Boyarin, Christianity was a later invention, not at all in direct line with Jesus' intentions. Jesus, rather, was simply a messiah who was consistently in line with Judaism. He was a Jew, serving
...more
Dennis Fischman
Boyarin argues that when Jesus claimed to be a divine being as well as the anointed king, he was saying something other Jews would understand and find normal. From Boyarin's perspective, the difference between Jesus' followers and other Jews was not that he claimed to be the unique Son of God but that most Jews didn't think he was that guy.

I'm not a biblical scholar. I'm a Jew, immersed in the Judaism of the 21st century CE. So, the challenge for me reading this book was to try to imagine myself
...more
Mmetevelis
This work from a decorated Talmudic scholar takes aim at the theory that Christian distinctives were imported from Hellenistic philosophy and were somehow alien to Israelite scripture and thought. Boyarin presents a concise exploration of the Hebrew scriptures and the Apocrypha for the development of the doctrine of the Son of Man and presents illuminating insights into the text of Mark's gospel. His chapter on Jesus' relationship to the dietary laws ("Jesus Kept Kosher") was extremely interesti ...more
Benjamin Boswell
It's turns out that the Trinity and Christology are Jewish ideas. This is landmark work by an incredible scholar that should change Christian theology and the relationship between the Church and Israel forever.
Henry Sturcke
Daniel Boyarin is one of the most original and provocative rabbinic scholars, the author of many valuable books exploring the matrix in which both orthodox Judaism and Christianity arose. He is one of the many scholars who have challenged the assumption that there was, at an early point, a “parting of the ways” between these two movements. In The Jewish Gospels, he sets out to show that the New Testament is “more deeply embedded within Second Temple Jewish life and thought than many have imagine ...more
Ian Hodge
There are attempts in the Christian community to better understand the Hebrew origins of the contents of the New Testament, especially the person of Jesus the Messiah - Yeshua HaMashiach. This has led to a number of books that contain some excellent background material.

In a recent publication, Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, has added to the richness of our understanding of the Gospels. His book has four major chapters
...more
Chris
This book contains some of the main themes Boyarin discusses in his book Border Lines, but done in a less academic form to appeal to a broader audience. His basic argument is that many of the aspects of the Gospels' presentation of Jesus that have been/are seen by modern scholars as innovations inspired by Greek philosophy and culture grafted onto the Jewish faith and culture of Jesus in truth have deep roots in the Jewish beliefs of that time. Through a process of close readings of the earliest ...more
Zane Akers
It's difficult for me to review this book because I'm sure I didn't entirely understand it, but here it is.
Boyarin looks at several Jewish texts to find the roots of certain Christian beliefs and explain them as not innovations but rather continuations of certain traditions of Jewish thought. For instance, he argues very convincingly on the grounds of Daniel 7 that the roots of Trinity and Incarnation are contained within the Jewish community of thought from well before the time of Jesus. He als
...more
Suzy
Jesus was a Jew. His followers were Jewish. Their expectations for the Messiah were not an after-the-fact Christian invention, but a concept deeply rooted in ancient Jewish thought. You'd think these things were a given, but in fact, historically, these ideas are highly controversial. Daniel Boyarin straightens it all out for us with a close examination of ancient writings (leaning heavily on the apocalyptic vision in Daniel 7), messianic writings contemporary with the gospels, rabbinic writings ...more
Stuart Berman
Very well laid out arguments for three aspects of the historical Jesus based upon Jewish traditions. You may not find all of his arguments wholly convincing, but they are worth considering and will add to your knowledge of the historical context of one of the greatest figures in history.
As an example, Boyarin asserts that Jesus was a rather traditional/conservative Jew who tried to counteract the reforms that the Temple leaders were instituting among the Jewish people using "new testament' scri
...more
Emily
Boyarin continues to re-shape the way we think about & teach early Christianity, Second Temple Judaism, and early Rabbinic Judaism.

His arguments about the range of Jewish ideas pertaining to The Son of Man and the Messiah and their relationship to the early Christian uses of these ideas are well supported. This book has made me rethink my approach to teaching early Christian Literature.

Jeremy
One of the more challenging books that I've read in a while. It's definitely one of those books that you can't read lightly. There were several places where I needed to think deeply about the author's argument and whether or not I agreed with it or even understood it. Chapters 3 and 4 were most beneficial to understanding how Jesus kept all of the Jewish law and fulfilled the prophets' expectations of a Messiah. I'm glad to have gained a further understanding of Palestine in the first century an ...more
Alan Divack
Easy to read , original, provocative and grounded in the evidence. While I may not agree with all of his arguments, Boyarin will make the scales fall from your eyes.
Samuel
Disclosure: I did not read chapter 2. I hope to at a later date

I read this for a class and was delighted not only as an amateur scholar but as an Eastern Orthodox Christian. Returning to our Jewish roots as Christians can be invaluable for our intellectual and mystical life in Christ. Jesus was a first century Jew, a second temple Jew and a Galilean (country/traditional Jew)
Context is of high value in my estimation and this book provides it in spades.
Daniel
Definitely worth reading, compelling stuff, turns some traditional beliefs on their ears (Jesus Kept Kosher is a particularly fascinating chapter). It could have been trimmed by a third and lost none of its meaning or import; I found the middle chapters repetitive. And it's writing style tends, at times, toward a more formal, scholarly style. Strongly recommended for anyone interested in Jewish-Christian history, relations, theology.
Joseph
Insightful, scholarly, readable. Without apologetic or bitternes, sets Jesus, the Gospels, and the beginnings of Christianity within the historical Jewish context. Especially good on popular religious Judaism in the time of Jesus as a source for developing Christian understaindings and doctrines. Both Jews and Christians will find Rabbi Boyarin's insights provocative and challenging.
Andy Ross
This is quite simply a brilliant and original book. It is hard to imagine that there is anything new and significant to say about The New Testament that hasn't already been said. But Boyarin has done it. Boyarin, one of the great scholars of Judaism, proves convincingly is that the idea of the Trinity comes directly from Jewish thought of the period.
Sally
The author traces high Christology (human messiah plus divine redeemer) back in Jewish thought to at least the middle of 2nd century BC and argues that Jews around the time Jesus was said to live were in fact expecting just such a figure to appear. I found it a very worthwhile book to read.
Yiska Gallagher
This is an excellent analysis of the ancient (pre 1st century) Jewish concept of a divine messiah. If you are struggling with the concept of Yeshua's (Jesus') identity and divinity, this scholarly work is sure to be a great help. Read the other reviews and read this book!
Ron
Interesting look at specific passages in Mark and Matthew from a Jewish scholarly (i.e. footnotes)historical viewpoint. Provides a different reading then most commonly found in study Bibles/scholarship without rantings.
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“It has frequently been asserted that low Christologies are “Jewish” ones, while high Christologies have come into Christianity from the Greek thought world. Oddly enough, this position has been taken both by Jewish writers seeking to discredit Christianity as a kind of paganism and by orthodox Christian scholars wishing to distinguish the “new religion” from the old one as far and as quickly as possible. This doubly defensive approach can no longer be maintained.” 0 likes
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