The Jew­ish Jesus: How Judaism and Chris­tian­i­ty Shaped Each Other

Peter Schäfer
  • Review
By – October 24, 2012

It has long been rec­og­nized that Chris­tian­i­ty arose out of Judaism, but in recent years more atten­tion has been paid to the ways in which Chris­tian­i­ty influ­enced devel­op­ments with­in rab­binic Judaism as well. Pro­fes­sor Peter Schäfer of Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty is one of the lead­ing schol­ars in such reap­praisals of the ways in which the iden­ti­ty bound­aries of emerg­ing Chris­tian­i­ty and rab­binic Judaism were less sta­ble and more per­me­able than tra­di­tion­al­ly rec­og­nized. Schäfer­’s research explores the ways in which this inter­ac­tion played out, with spe­cial atten­tion to cer­tain cas­es in which rab­bis appro­pri­at­ed ideas that grew out of Judaism that Chris­tians were devel­op­ing, and thus that reflect a dynam­ic inter­play in which, in some cas­es at least, it stands to rea­son that rab­binic Judaism reap­pro­pri­at­ed orig­i­nal­ly Jew­ish ideas that were usurped by Chris­tian­i­ty.” For exam­ple, some rab­bis insist­ed that cer­tain ideas about God were orig­i­nal­ly Judais­m’s ideas and belonged to Judaism still, which led to dis­putes about the divine sta­tus of fig­ures such as Adam, David, Meta­tron, and angels, and in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion, to var­i­ous suf­fer­ing ser­vants. The twists and turns of these dis­putes among the rab­bis, as well as the way they are now being approached by oth­er con­tem­po­rary schol­ars engaged in these debates, are intrigu­ing to fol­low under Schäfer­’s able guid­ance.

Chap­ters are devel­oped around the fol­low­ing top­ics: Dif­fer­ent Names for God; The Young and the Old God; God and David; God and Meta­tron; Has God a Father, a Son, or a Broth­er?; The Angels; Adam; The Birth of the Mes­si­ah, or Why Did Baby Mes­si­ah Dis­ap­pear?, and The Suf­fer­ing Mes­si­ah Ephraim. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, index.

Mark D. Nanos, Ph.D., Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas, is the author of Mys­tery­of Romans, win­ner of the 1996 Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award, Charles H. Revson­Award in Jew­ish-Chris­t­ian Relations.

Discussion Questions