Posted by: aboutalbion | May 22, 2013

Jews and Christians …

In the aftermath of the recent death [8 May 2013] of Professor Geza Vermes [aged 88], I was glad to read a review of a book that arose from a 2009 university symposium entitled “Jesus in the Context of Judaism and the Challenge to the Church”.

Vermes argued that the historical Jesus was a Jew who did not reach out to non-Jews, and (as I understand his position) did not intend to start a new religion.

The nineteen essays that have arisen from the symposium have been edited in a book by Zev Garber.  The reviewer (Amy-Jill Levine) highlights Garber’s challenge to Jews and Christians “to speculate on what the claim that the ‘Christ of Christian belief lived and died a faithful Jew’ might mean [p1] … [for] the difficult questions of how Jews and Christians, after the Shoah, relate to each other.”

If there is any substance in the view that ‘religion’ is increasingly being used as a marker in society in place of ‘race’, then this is a very timely challenge.

As I see it, this challenge echo’s Vermes’ conclusion that the Christ of faith is so different from the historical Jesus that Christians may well want to re-evaluate the basics of their faith.  And especially so in the UK, where the phrase ‘the Jewish question’ has been in use since around 1750.

[Garber, Zev (ed) (2011) The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation.  West Lafayette: Purdue University Press.]

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