Why Write this Book?
This book, “A New Look at Rabbi Jesus: Jews and Christians Finally Reconnected,” is based on decades of conversations with friends and colleagues. Over that time, I concluded that there is an uncertainty in the relationship between Jews and Christians. The Christian Biblical stories partially create this puzzlement. For example, the very first verse of the Christian Testament, Matthew 1:1, speaks about the Jewish lineage of “Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.” It then proceeds to reconfirm this point by giving generational data which prove that assertion. Within this initial chapter is the first of fifty references to the Hebrew scriptures, especially the prophets, which are used as texts to authenticate the belief that Jesus was the Messiah and son of God. Thus, the role of Jews and Judaism seems to be established as crucial elements to the ministry and life of Jesus. Yet, as the life story of Jesus is told, the main antagonists to him seem to be other Jews. People and groups such as Judas, the High Priest, the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, even every-day Israelites, are portrayed in negative ways, creating an antipathy toward Jews and Judaism.
I think that most people are unable to reconcile the beginning part of Jesus’ story in a totally Jewish world, with the latter stories which describe the above mentioned groups as major adversaries. This unsolved riddle and inability to make a spiritual connection has led to two thousand years of prejudice, stereotyping and horrible acts of anti-Semitism (anti-Judaism). It is long past time to correct this unbelievably sad situation. I will attempt to do so.
Let me state what the goals of this work are: First, to educate Jews and Christians about the numerous areas of connections which exist between the two faiths. Second, to demonstrate Jesus’ life long religious affiliations including his prayer life, education and life commitments. Third, to examine the parental, family and community influences that shaped his personality and beliefs. Fourth, to offer additional interpretations to the well known stories found in Matthew. This process encourages readers of holy texts to create new meanings and interpretations of popular Biblical stories. In the Jewish tradition, this approach is ongoing and normative. It is hoped that as people consider different textual views they will reach new conclusions about the stories and their ultimate meanings.
We live in an era of terrorism and violence. It is time for these two major faiths to act as the spiritual siblings that they are as an example for the rest of the world to emulate. This approach can be applied to Islam as well. I firmly belief that if Jesus were able to give us a grade on our overall religiosity or our spirituality, it would not be a passing one. We often go through life not really knowing about others and not taking the time to learn and experience what they believe and feel. An honest and very-real question each of us can ask in a moment of quiet and reflection is: Do we really love our neighbors as ourselves? This book helps us better answer that question.