03 March 2010

Starting to Read the NT


After arriving to the great sunny land of California, my benefactor handed me a bunch of literature with information about what proselytizing Christians might say, including many quotations from the NT. After reading some of it, I realized that all the scriptural verses were not in their context. Moreover, how could I discuss, with any knowledge, what the NT or Christianity believed about various matters? So, I set aside that literature and began to read the NT, itself. So far, it's been good - I'm progressing. Although there's a lot in there that, for lack of better phrasing, I just don't believe, nonetheless, I've found reading it interesting on three accounts:
1) Seeing how it/Jesus uses Biblical verses (that is, from the Hebrew Bible) that aren't necessarily the way that we Jews read them. On the other hand, it is also interesting to see how the NT is describing certain Biblical laws being followed in that time.
2) Getting a better sense of the origins of certain ideas that have trickled down to our day in contemporary America, but more interestingly, phrases, as well.
3) Reading about certain social circumstances as well as outlooks that would also be reflected upon rabbinic literature as well as similar statements (or dissimilar, for that matter).
This last one is something that may not appeal to a lot of people, but is the most intellectually fascinating aspect to me. Although I may be reading it on account of needing to know this stuff for professional reasons (whether that would be confronting missionaries, contrasting NT statements to Jewish positions, or even just to discuss with Christian clergy), it's this third reason that really keeps me going, as someone who enjoys reading and studying rabbinic literature.

7 comments:

R' Daniel said...

When you read the Gospels, especially Matthew, you are going to find many parables between the actual words of Jesus/Yeshua and the words of many of our sages.

When you read Paul, you will notice some literary motifs similar to Midrash, but on the whole, you will find Paul at odds with Jesus many times.

I am trained in both Jewish and Christian religious studies, and I do advocate separating the words of Jesus and the dogmas created about him which abound in the Christian Scriptures. I take the approach of Jefferson, Hyam Maccoby, and Barrie Wilson in this regard. Viewing it in this light, while also taking into account Rav Emden and other rabbinical teachings on Jesus and Christianity, will prove to be most beneficial. You really do need to draw together the traditional sources and the fantastic academic works done on Early Christianity and Judaism.

你怎麼說 said...

向小善致敬,它使人生旅程較為平順。........................................

簡單嗎 said...

沒有友情,人生何樂?........................................

R' Daniel said...

That should say "many parallels."

wrpn said...

I don't like the Gospels that much Drew. On the other hand I find the Pauline epistles fascinating. The line "we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses"from Hebrews is great prose for funerals.

Drew_Kaplan said...

R' Daniel - I'm still in the gospels and they are interesting (especially Matthew), so we'll see how they compare with the other pieces.
I'm not familiar with "Jefferson, Hyam Maccoby, and Barrie Wilson" or their approaches.... What was Rav Emden's take on this?
wrpn - Why don't you like the Gospels that much?

wrpn said...

@Drew-I find the Epistles very inspiring but the Gospel narrative makes me ill at times.