Jesus, Paul, Aj Nyerere discussed on Jewish History Matters
We know when we speak to our undergraduate classes for example. There are certain technical. We tend to avoid because their students have no clue what we're talking Huma for me. My ideal audiences my mother-in-law who was born in Williamsburg. She's smart but she doesn't know anything about Jesus so I figure if I can explain stuff to her. You're in a way that makes sense to her. I will have accomplished my goal and that impart how we formulated some of our annotations so it doesn't sound all highfalutin scholarly scholarly. We're talking about the catalogue concerns regarding Sotirios the payroll we talk in normal language that somebody can understand and during this coming back to the basic question I think our readers al-Rida reserve very able to understand that is originally a Jewish book that became the basis or a base for Christian religion books that start as is being central in one religion can become more central and differently interpreted in another religion. There's nothing terribly hopefully surprising Beth's one thing that really interests me. I'm very curious about what the reception has been clearly in a certain way. There's been a positive reception because you published a second edition in particular one thing that I saw was they recently the two of you had a visit with the pope to talk about the book actually and so I'm curious you know sort of what the reception has been like an and what the reception has been like from different communities thinking about just the contribution that the volume and and how they how they receive it initially was perceived as controversial and I must admit that I did not think get would-be controversial and maybe that was naive on my part so soon after was published article in The Washington Times that said as follows donated bibles usually don't make headlights but the Jewish annotated new testaments the title alone is enough left to provoke a spirited discussion has created quite a stir was really on both sides and this really relates to the questions kids that you began with Jews felt what are we doing. This is national Jewish book had could even put the word Jewish in the same in title as New Testament. Some Christians felt that we were taking as shoes we were taking back doc the New Testament and taking it away from the Christian community. Obviously both of those positions were wrong. I think that the vast the job of readers understand why those positions were wrong but still there are some people who felt that way that they were people who said as much Gotcha even before the publish just based on the tidal so there was some initial frustration I think when people started to read it they he realized what he was trying to do and it was felt to be much less controversial filled to be more important. I'll give the agent chance to talk about the role that has had with the Christian community built within the Jewish community. One of the things that has been incredibly gratifying is is any number of people who've come to have said that as Jews they're starting New Testament study groups and in typical Jewish style style style impaired learning. They're studying the text together. Clearly is beginning to have an impact on the the Jewish community as shoes start to read. That's blaming litigated talk about it. From the Christian side will come back to the question about the pulp. It's being used across the Christian spectrum from Evangelical to Liberal Protestants to Roman Catholics to members of Church took Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I get letters all the time for ministers or people involved in adult study groups based in churches as to how helpful will the text has been people are using it within the Christian community also for personal devotion because they say it's pointing out to them material in their texts that they had never noticed noticed and never realized so that on a personal level on a congregational level it enhances the meaning of the text of the Individual Christian at the same same time it prevents sermons from going down anti-jewish tracts or sermons that had in the past used Judaism is a negative oil in order to make Jesus Jesus look all bright shiny and what we've made clear in this text is that Jesus quite fascinating on his own and one does not need a negative Jewish foil in order to make him look worthwhile. It's also done very well in classrooms including in seminaries and divinity schools as a requisite book for say introduction into the New Testament. I think that's fabulous. Finally I've been doing numerous clergy workshops clergy get copies of the Jewish annotated and then we go through the standard mistakes that Christian clergy had made about early Judaism not because of bigotry but because of ignorance fixed those mistakes mistakes and then hope Christian clergy see in a more rebound in historically informed way just interesting. This ancient text is how better to understand Jesus how better to understand Paul because if we get the context wrong we're going to get Jesus and Paul and the rest of this New Testament figures wrong as well. It is worth noting that the volume also has over fifty essays to my mind the most important essay it is the one by Aj which is called bearing false witness common errors need about early Judaism which attempts to correct act many of those errors and I think that this volume can really play a major role in how Christians understand understand the new testament especially if they start with that particular yeah. Actually I really want to talk about that. I hope will come back to it but I think that what you just brought up here as well as this important way in which of volume like like this one can play a role in dialogue between the various religious communities and this briefly back to something that I mentioned before which is that I just find it so it's so interesting and fascinating about this idea that that you ended up having a meeting with the pope to talk about the book the program with the Pope was part of a longer program facilitated by the Gregorian University here in Rome so not only did we get this special audience where we were able to present send him an autographed copy but we had a formal discussion extremely well attended on the importance of Jewish entertainers and that Rome has embraced race. This text is just phenomenal. The pope was terrific. He told us it was an important book. He told us we needed to continue our work. He could not have been more gracious use the fact that he accepted this work that we were invited to the special. Audience really does indicate that from the Vatican addicts perspective. They understand how important this particular work is is the type of a stamp of approval understanding the New Testament estimates in its original setting as a Jewish fuck and understanding and appreciating the Judaism of Jesus and Judaism awesome of Paul and I hope that the fact that this was sending such publicly we'll beat encouragements for others within the Roman Catholic communicating getting beyond to consider similar perspectives. I mean it was only fifty years ago. The Roman Catholic Church officially decided that the Jews had not been the wants to murder Jesus right so it reflects kind of a sea change in a certain way the acceptance of this volume that really highlights the way Liam which people should read this text in without getting anti-jewish views of it right at the same time they don't sacrifice the particulars of their own tradition so the bullying has enormous respect for various doctrines that work the churches weather's Trinitaria or the idea of Jesus both fully human in fully God all of that stuff stays in place and what we're able to do in some of the bacchus is explain how those particular doctrines developed so going back to something that you said before mark about the role of volume like this in terms of dialogue in one of the things that's very interesting to me is thinking about the way in which the Bible all of its different forms and you know the Jewish Bible the Christian Bible so and so forth becomes a point of contact between different groups of people. Oh between Jews and Christians you know so on and so forth by different cultures you know we just did the episode with Robert Alter where we discussed his translation of the Tanakh not of the Jewish Bible and one of the things that we talked about in that interview was the way in which Bible translations over the centuries have been points of of cultural contact or inflection and hear what's interesting when you look at the Jewish New Testament is it it's also meant to be point of cultural contact but you chose to we use the standard translation the new revised standard version the then Aris fee but with a new commentary annotation to go alongside it so you know when we look look at this project of reframing and reinterpreting taxed. What's the difference in your view between using a commentary to do that and using using translation to do that project? Let me start with this one I think both. Aj Nyerere very practical people we realize is that no translation is perfect and we realized that the NRA the is an imperfect translation. It has certain advantages ages it was done by scholars. It was done by good scholars. It was done on the basis of the Best Greek manuscripts manuscript that were available at that particular points by people who in studying the text carefully in Greek that is not the case for all translations of the new testaments it is more literal than paraphrase so all of those features help today they can be a useful starting point for this particular value. We did think very very briefly you'll know more than a quarter order of seconds having people to their own translations or modified the translations for for each of the books that they are writing on a had that been the case the volume would not have been done. Yes because retrieves is leaving these folks would have taken a tremendous amount of time and then it would have been tremendous amounts of unevenness between the various New Testament books because each person translated a book in her or his away so we really did need to start with the best Standard Bible translation and that was the inner city with that said if you read almost every engage the authors of the entertains are suggesting ways in which the translation could be better or could be different or or there is a certain ambiguity in the Greek that they're bringing. Yes so this way we were able to be both practical and to highlight Sushi problems related needed to Bible translation nine. Just give you a quick example. were speak. It's wrong epistle of James which has probably probably the least amount of information about Jesus that throughout the New Testament in James Chapter two. There's a reference that says if a person with gold rings in in fine close comes into your your gathering place the the inner city translates that term is assembly but the underlying Greek is actually synagogue which in the Gospels Whenever Synagogue shows up its synagogue but why here today Translate Assembly so we're entertainers able to say wait a minute the underlying Greek term. I'm here is synagogue and this epistle may have been addressed to Jews who gather in synagogues but they just happen to be Jews who were gathered in the name Jesus we needed translation translation that everybody agrees is a good translation and at the same time we require invitations that will bring out particular Jewish new nuances that may have been alighted alighted in the English translation. It's very clear that the translation is not perfect and translation action could be right right I mean but but one of the things that I find very interesting about the choice to use the NRA has to do with you know not just the practicality but also the possibilities for reception by easing standard translation one of the side effects of that is for the Christian audience who may already be familiar with his his translation. It's a tax that they already know your annotating in a different way but it's still the same text essentially where we could get copyright clearance yeah because they know it well are highlighting particular problems in the translation and can get something especially important that we were able to. I mean one of the things that also is really interesting in this goes back to what it means to create a Jewish version of the New Testament. I think that when we think about what that means I think that if we look at the history of modern Jewish studies kind of broadly speaking from the nineteenth century onwards words you know one of the contentious sets of issues. was you know who does this tradition belong to you know this is the case of looking at Jewish studies and the figures fish physician to students who were sort of pushing back. You know this is the eighteen twenty s they're pushing back against Christian scholars who they believed were taking kind of a a proselytizing approach studying the Jews you know there's also all sorts of issues regarding super session ISM and the way in which Jewish tradition you know has been adopted did historically speaking by Christians of you know basically all kinds talking about sort of adopting the Jewish tradition as the precursor Christianity Janati even we look at Biblical Studies People Salman Schachter others as well looked at biblical criticism you know as an attack on Judaism certain ways you know he called it higher anti Semitism and all of this I guess along way of saying that when we look at Jewish studies the history of Judaism Biblical studies as well well there are a whole series of contentious debate about who this all belongs to the whole history of the debates about the historical Jesus also fits into this as well about all of it can become very contentious especially when one group is studying the other some curious how this fit into your thinking about the Jewish annotated New Testament and your your approach to creating a kind of a Jewish version of the New Testament because I think that if we think about the development of Christian Jewish relations over centuries in decades and this this can be produced today this reflects very much our current moment you know I'm curious how the history of these kinds of debates about the way in which one group studies the other affects the way in which you think about this idea.