Uncovering the Jewish Context of the New Testament

Bible History Daily write:

Jewish New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine reveals what Jews (and Christians) should know about Christian scripture and Jesus the Jew

Most Jewish readers approach the New Testament, if they approach it at all, with at best a certain unfamiliarity. This is unfortunate, according to Jewish New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine, for much if not all of the New Testament is Jewish literature. She points out that Jesus the Jew is the first person in recorded history to be called “Rabbi,” and Paul is the only undisputed first-century Pharisee from whom we have written records. Most of the other New Testament writers were also Jewish, writing for a Jewish audience.
Unfortunately, for many who are Jewish, New Testament writings may well leave a first impression of dismay, if not worse. For these readers, a second look is advisable. When the New Testament is understood within its own historical context, not only can Jews recover part of Jewish history, but they can also comprehend the New Testament’s polemics, its assertions of Jesus’ divinity and its claims of fulfilled prophecy.


In the free eBook Paul: Jewish Law and Early Christianity, learn about the cultural contexts for the theology of Paul and how Jewish traditions and law extended into early Christianity through Paul’s dual roles as a Christian missionary and a Pharisee.


In the gospel stories about Jesus, the Jews are often identified as the opposition—even the enemy. This conflict is now read as Christians vs. Jews, rather than the internal Jewish dispute it was in the first century. It is a text that has shaped Jewish-Christian relations, often in negative ways. In looking at the New Testament in context, readers can appreciate what Jews and Christians hold in common and how the two groups gradually came to form separate religions.

 

Source here

Biblical Reconciliation vs Worldly Reconciliation?

There is much talk about the ministry of reconciliation in the context of Palestinian Christian and Messianic Jewish interaction, however what is the real Biblical foundation for reconciliation in the heated crucible of Middle Eastern politics? Galen Peterson gives his considered opinion in this worthwhile paper Proclaiming the Prince of Peace: Missiological Implications of Biblical Reconciliation.

Take the time to read this paper in full, it really is worth the time, however for the time-strapped here are some highlights from this paper:

 

The BDS movement may be more genteel than Pax Romana, but forcing others to submit to your will through boycotts, divestment, and sanctions is nevertheless a manifestation of bullying that is inconsistent with the teaching of Jesus in the way of solving the problem of enmity…

 

The demand for justice fosters the demand for revenge…

 

The inclination toward revenge is especially inherent in clan-based societies…

 

For Paul, the reconciliation between people is not directly sought, but is a beneficial byproduct of the reconciliation established between people and God…

 

True justice originates in and proceeds from the cross of Christ Jesus affirmed a prioritization of love that was the foundation of the Law, in that our first love must be for God and our second must be for other people (Matt 22:39; cf Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18; 1 John 4:20). The former is associated with justification and crediting of righteousness through Christ (2 Cor 5:21), and the latter is associated with acts of righteousness that should arise from our love of God (Heb 6:10). These acts of righteousness include caring for “the least of these” (Matt 25:34-46) and the oppressed (Zech 7:10), which altogether can be rightly characterized as social justice.

It is possible to have the second love without the first, however, and that is the case when the call is for “justice and only justice.” But as Jesus warned the Ephesian church in Revelation 2, that kind of exclusion requires repentance because of the disregard of the first love of God.
And the demand for “only justice” fosters a perpetual quest that cannot be fully satisfied. The recurring message of Scripture is horizontal ministry such as social justice extending outward from the salvific justice of the cross. John Piper prioritizes the two aspects of justice well by
saying, “churches should labor to relieve suffering in the world, especially eternal suffering…

 

This gospel-centered transformation starts with individuals becoming reconciled to God and then believing communities becoming reconciled to each other, thus providing godly motivation for social justice…

 

In the midst of a seemingly impossible situation, we have been given a workable solution in the Word of God, namely to set aside reconciliation as the world gives, to rise up from indifference, and to make a commitment to reconciliation as Jesus gives…

Dr R. Kendall Soulen: Understanding the Jewish people in God’s Big Plan

Dr. Kendall Soulen (Professor of Systematic Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary and author of The God of Israel and Christian Theology (Fortress Press, 1996) deals with issues such as:

· Did God make a mistake when He chose the Jewish people?
· Has the church replaced Israel as God’s people?
· How do the Jewish people fit into God’s plan of salvation and redemption of all people?
· Do Jews need to stop being Jews?