cover image A Rabbi Talks with Jesus

A Rabbi Talks with Jesus

Jacob Neusner. Doubleday Books, $21 (154pp) ISBN 978-0-385-42466-0

In a highly challenging, contentious exegesis that is almost certain to provoke interfaith dialogue, an eminent scholar of Judaism explains why, if he had lived in Israel in the first century, he would have refused to join Jesus and his circle of disciples. Neusner, whose books include Jews and Christians and (with Andrew M. Greeley) The Bible and Us , argues that the Jesus of the Gospel of St. Matthew called into question the primacy of the family and violated the sanctity of the Sabbath. Casting himself as a local rabbi in biblical times, Neusner engages in an imaginary dialogue with Jesus, a Jew who explicitly claimed that he came to fulfill the Torah, not to destroy it. To Neusner, Jesus's message, summed up as ``leave home, follow me,'' shortchanged the priorities of home, family, community and the social order that the Torah had commanded Israel to bring into being. Neusner's earnest polemic will compel both Jews and Christians to look more deeply at the sources of their faith. (Feb.)