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Rabbi Talks with Jesus, A

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  153 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
A fascinating, challenging, imaginary dialogue between Jesus and a distinguished modern rabbi explores and debates the difference between Judaism and Christianity in a uniquely enlightening way.
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 1st 1994 by Image (first published 1993)
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C. Varn
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent breakdown of the differences between Post-exilic Judaism and Christianity in the terms of Matthew's Jesus and the exposition of the Torah. Parts of the book aren't going to be convincing to non-Jews, but Neusner isn't aiming for that. Neusner's exposition of Judaism of the Talmuds into modern Judaism does show the fundamental differences in reading the Torah, but I must admit that perhaps it would be easier if Rabbi Neusner had stuck to the grounds of Judaism that were shared at the ...more
I truly enjoyed this book even though I disagree with Neusner's conclusions (as he would have wanted me to).

Pros:I enjoyed the conversational style in which this book was written. For me, the most valuable take-away from this book is the Jewish perspective written by, as the book description says, "the world's preeminent authority on first century Judaism". I have often heard something to the tune of, "a first century Jew would have understood Jesus' words to mean . . . " However, with Neusner,
Kristofer Carlson
This is a fascinating, illuminating, frustrating, and (for me a) melancholy book. The author, a rabbi, addresses Jesus using the most Jewish of gospels, the book of Matthew. Since Matthew's gospel focuses on Jesus' relationship with the Torah, Rabbi Neusner addresses Jesus on that basis, the Torah being the common ground of both Judaism and Christianity. This is not a contentious book, nor is it any sort of polemic. Instead, it is a respectful examination of the claims of Jesus. Surprisingly, th ...more
Jan 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, non-fiction
Neusner does a good job handling this discourse without being a bully. His purpose is to demonstrate why he, as a Jew, would not follow Jesus.

He says--over and over--how he respects Jesus but could not follow him, and that he doesn't want to harm either Jews or Christians in their faith. He does this by outlining the situation and leaving one variable a variable: Christs divinity. He shows how Christ was in conflict with the Torah and how he was seeking to replace it, which the Jews couldn't acc
Aug 15, 2008 marked it as reference  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to booklady by: Pope Benedict XVI
It arrived today; I wish I didn't have class tonight and so much other reading to do. Should I play hooky? No, not skip class, but read this instead of doing my assigned reading? The author places himself within the Gospel of Matthew, not my favorite evangelist but what matter, Jesus is there.


In Chapter 4 of Jesus of Nazareth PBXVI quotes this book extensively. Read his endorsement:

'More than oth
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rabbi Neusner offers a fascinating take on Jesus from the perspective of a practicing Jew who would have encountered Jesus in the first century. At the outset, Neusner helpfully articulates the need for dialogue, conversation, and disagreement as a means of showing respect to other human beings. Thus, his argument with Jesus should not be taken in a mean-spirited fashion. And indeed, Neusner goes out of his way to offer respectful disagreements with a teacher who he believes clearly has a teachi ...more
Brandon LeTourneau
I am a little disappointed with this read. It has been claimed many times as an essential Jewish refutation of the messiahship of Jesus, when In fact it was a single presupposition manifested over and over again. That presupposition being "Jesus claimed to be God, and no man can be God". At the foundation of every argument, or rather every "encounter" between the author and the Jesus he describes found in the book of St. Matthew, he walks away supposedly choosing Torah over Christ. There is unfo ...more
Jul 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Essentially, this books is about how Jesus lies when he said that he came to fulfill the Torah because he clearly encourages his followers to violate its commandments. Given that the book was supposed to offer a dialogue with Jesus from the perspective of one of his contemporary Jews, I found the actual "dialogues" sparse and unsatisfactory. For one thing, the contemporary Jew was always gifted with precognition (one day, rabbis would answer this question with this story...) and Jesus always see ...more
Jan Rice
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, theology
Sheds light on what is Judaism other than not Christianity, or other than a foil for Christian apologists. Not a polemic! See the Pope's response in his 2007 book Jesus of Nazareth. And listen to an NPR radio interview, also from 2007, in which Neusner replies:
Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious
recommended by the Pop Benoit XVI
Albertus Magnus
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
an excellent dialogue, gives one much to think about the dichotomy between God's kingdom to come in the Gospels, and the kingdom of God in the here and now, which from the Authors point of view is the kingdom of the Torah.
Frank Roberts
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A marvelous example of interfaith dialogue. Left me respecting both Judaism and my own Christian Faith on a higher level.
Kevin de Ataíde
An excellent book although unsatisfactory - four stars right away. Rabbi attempts to speak to Rabbi, synagogue to synagogue. This then is dialogue: the peaceable recognition of the impasse between Christianity and Judaism, which the author himself declares clearly to be the person of Christ. The question in the end is about authority which, for the Christian, belongs to Christ and, to the Jew, belongs to the Torah. It is nice that this is made so very clear in a book of this size. I was rather s ...more
Emilia P
Jews! Once upon a time on 7th Heaven, the oldest son converted for his girlfriend, and once, on Sex and the City, Charlotte converted for sexy old Harry. How do they do it? What do Christians have in common with Jews? What don't they? How does this actually play out in practice versus how it looks in theological differences?

This book almost got to the heart of these matters. It was a conversation between the word of the Torah and the words of Jesus' lower-case torah in the Gospel of Matthew (the
Eric Nelson
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-but-unowned
A great work written to Jews and Christians alike stands alongside Cost of Discipleship in terms of its ability to convey the radical nature of Christ�s message (and person). As this book is written by a faithful and wise Jew who has clearly pondered the words of Christ much more carefully than many Christian pastors, Christians are cautioned when deciding whether or not to read this title. Neusner introduces us to Jesus in his Second Temple Jewish context and will not allow readers to walk away ...more
Aug 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jacob Neusner explains why he has chosen not to follow Jesus, based on statements that Jesus made, as recorded in the book of Matthew. My understanding of his overall conclusion is that Jesus speaks of salvation and the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven (Jesus' torah), but Neusner believes that God commands Israel to obey in the "here and now" (through the Torah from Mt Sinai and Moses), and that they are to be holy in the conduct their daily lives. Neusner is not convinced by Jesus' claims and co ...more
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a compelling and challenging book. Neusner can tell a good story and teach a great lesson. He argues that Jesus and Judaism ultimate say different things when it comes to God and life. According to Rabbi Neusner Jesus preaches salvation in the future while the Torah teaches sanctification in the here and now. Therefore an effective argument regarding God and life cannot be had. I don't agree with Neusner in much of this book when he speaks to Jesus but he does say much about Jesus that I ...more
Sep 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
A thoughtful if sometimes difficult to read explanation for why the author, a highly respected Orthodox rabbi, would have rejected Jesus' message. His rejection rests on several key reasons: Jesus addresses the personal "I" while the Torah addresses the Israelite "we"; Jesus instructs his followers to be perfect rather than the Torah's injunction to be holy; and Jesus focuses on being clean and sin-free in preparation for the imminent Kingdom of God, while Torah teaches people to sanctify their ...more
Jill Hudson
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating look into the life and teachings of Jesus from a Jewish perspective. It has often been suggested that Jesus was just a 'good teacher' with a high moral code who never claimed to be anything more than a normal human being but was misunderstood by his followers - and especially later on by the apostle Paul - who invented the idea that he was God's son. Jacob Neusner shows that pretty well everything Jesus said and did would have been interpreted by the Jews of his day as bein ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
as a near-convert to orthodox judaism who decided instead to be confirmed a catholic, I can't stand this book. I read it for a literature of religion class and feel that neusner misses the key arguments that describe why Jews reject Jesus, or the key purpose intended in Jesus' very pointed political statements on things like family and the Sabbath. He doesn't understand the essence of either religion beyond the social level to the spiritual. Furthermore, some of his arguments make false accusati ...more
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's a great book for those who want to understand Orthodox Judaism and it's response to Jesus. Rabbi Neusner interacts with the Jesus of the Gospel as though he were encountering Jesus in the 1st century. He gives an Orthodox reason for why Jews shouldn't follow him. Essentially, to follow Jesus is to reject the One True God and His Torah. Both Orthodox Jew and Christian will be able to appreciate this.

Michael Preston
Neushner explains why he has chosen not to follow Jesus based on passages in Matthew. He deals with Jesus opinion of the Torah and produces his opinion that Jesus was against the Torah. This is a great book for Disscussion. Kind of confusing if you are not up to speed with Some Jewish beliefs, but this is a great book for a discussion group.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unusual & thoughtful book. Neusner imagines he was living in the Galilee around the time of Jesus & could actually engage Jesus in discussion, as he argues which parts of Jesus' teachings he, as an observant Jew, could & could not accept.
Mar 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great (though cursory) view of the Jewish take on who Jesus is.
Arthur Sumual
May 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very challenging yet this is exactly the type of book that I've been looking for: something about Jesus and His teachings from the perspective of a Jewish person.
Joshua Trombley
rated it really liked it
Jul 25, 2011
Jacob Molén
rated it it was amazing
Jan 06, 2015
rated it liked it
Feb 17, 2009
Jeff H
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Jan 20, 2011
Lee Ann
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Jan 09, 2015
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Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Neusner was educated at Harvard University, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (where he received rabbinic ordination), the University of Oxford, and Columbia University.

Neusner is often celebrated as one of the most published authors in history (he has written or edited more than 950 books.)Since 1994, he taught at Bard College. He also taught at Columbia Un

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