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The Jewish Gospels

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  259 Ratings  ·  48 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 really liked it
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
May 12, 2012 Tamara rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 10, 2015 Greg rated it it was amazing
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
Lee Harmon
Sep 05, 2012 Lee Harmon rated it it was amazing
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
Dennis Fischman
Feb 17, 2015 Dennis Fischman rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jul 19, 2012 Franz rated it really liked it
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
May 07, 2013 Kelly Head rated it really liked it
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
Charlene Mathe
Mar 26, 2012 Charlene Mathe rated it really liked it
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
Marge Prohofsky
Aug 13, 2012 Marge Prohofsky rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Dec 16, 2013 Michale rated it liked it
Shelves: tribe
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
Henry Sturcke
Nov 16, 2013 Henry Sturcke rated it liked it
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
Sep 08, 2012 Ian Hodge rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, judaism
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
Dec 20, 2014 Mmetevelis rated it liked it
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
Apr 18, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
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
Danny Daley
Mar 24, 2015 Danny Daley rated it really liked it
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
Fred Kohn
Jun 13, 2012 Fred Kohn rated it really liked it
I'm pretty confused, because Goodreads is telling me I read this book in 2012. I know I've read some stuff by Boyarin, but I honestly don't remember reading this one. At any rate, back in 2012 I apparently rated this 3 stars and today I can upgrade that to 4. Likely that is because in the interim I have read a fair bit about 1 Enoch, a book that everybody interested in Christianity should know about and almost nobody does. Indeed, even people that know about this book do not appreciate how wildl ...more
Oct 24, 2013 Suzy rated it it was amazing
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
Zane Akers
Jan 16, 2013 Zane Akers rated it really liked it
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
May 13, 2015 Anne rated it did not like it
Not impressed by his "brilliancy" at all. Actually, I'm surprised that he thinks he's got something new here at all? I don't know why I even picked this one up. I recommend to read better works by Marvin R Wilson, the legendary David Flusser, Ron Moseley, David H Stern, Elaine Pagels, Brad Young, speaker Ray Van der Laan, ETC. (IF you don't believe me, RVL is on Youtube; Flusser was writing in the 50's and 60s or earlier) who all share enlightenment about the jewishness of Jesus and the jewishne ...more
Aug 07, 2012 Jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: religious
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
Stuart Berman
Jan 15, 2014 Stuart Berman rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 10, 2013 Daniel rated it liked it
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.
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.

Benjamin Boswell
Jun 30, 2012 Benjamin Boswell rated it it was amazing
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.
Robert Hutchinson
Nov 18, 2015 Robert Hutchinson rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. Essential reading!
Charlotte Gunther
Jul 04, 2017 Charlotte Gunther rated it it was amazing
from the introduction: "I'm going to tell ... of a time when Jews and Christians were much more mixed up with each other than they are now, ..." I was captivated by the introduction.
Daniel Boyarin talks of the beginnings when Jesus came to the Jews--what were they expecting. Some believed Jesus to be divine, some that he was just human, some that he was both divine and human. He gives the background for the concept of a divine/human Messiah, Son of Man-Son of God, from the prophet Daniel.
He ex
Cheryl Durham
The Jewish Gospels by Daniel Boyarin is an excellent explanation of the background of Jesus and the New Testament writers that many pastors and other ministers are never taught, and this omission subsequently leads them into a path where the bible is misapplied, primarily due to eisegesis. The loss of the Jewish backgrounds of Jesus, his Apostles and all of the New Testament writers in Christian history over the last two millennia has resulted in a group of people claiming belief in the Jesus of ...more
Nov 02, 2013 Samuel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Andy Ross
Jul 24, 2012 Andy Ross rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 24, 2012 Joseph rated it really liked it
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.
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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.” 1 likes
“In the end what was accomplished in Nicaea and Constantinople was the establishment of a Christianity that was completely separated from Judaism. Since Christianity could not define its borders on the basis of ethnicity, geographical location, or even birth, finding clear ways to separate itself from Judaism was very urgent - and these councils pursued this end vigorously. This had the secondary historical effect of putting the power of the Roman Empire and its church authorities behind the existence of a fully separate “orthodox” Judaism as well. At least from a juridical standpoint, then, Judaism and Christianity became completely separate religions in the fourth century. Before that, no one (except God, of course) had the authority to tell folks that they were or were not Jewish or Christian, and many had chosen to be both. At the time of Jesus, all who followed Jesus - and even those who believed that he was God - were Jews!” 0 likes
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