The New Testament is not usually found on Jewish bookshelves. As a statement of religious belief that may be understandable. However for those interested in the historical underpinnings and events surrounding the “parting of the ways,” these documents are quite significant. Unfortunately, for too long the New Testament has been a doctrinal text and source of liturgy for the Church. Now for the first time, in a work that far exceeds The Interpreters’ Bible we are presented with an annotated text written by a group of world class Jewish academics who specialize in this period of Jewish history. It is, if you will, a Rashi-like commentary, line by line to the text. Shorn of religious overtones, the commentary sets the milieu and historical background, and gives the reader an understanding of what is taking place. Where there are contradictions they are pointed out, where problematic texts occur they are indicated, and there are no apologetics.
Almost as important as the line by line commentary by these erudite and prominent scholars are the maps, charts, sidebar essays, diagrams, tables, glossary, and index. In addition, there are thirty brilliant essays; topics include Jewish Family Life in the First Century CE, Divine Beings, Afterlife and Resurrection, Paul and Judaism, Messianic Movements, Jewish Miracle Workers in the Late Second Temple Period, and Jesus in Rabbinic Tradition. Fifty scholars contributed to this volume so that the New Testament can be read and understood from a Jewish perspective.