Here is an interview with Jewish scholar Amy Jill Levine. Keep in mind, she is not a Jewish follower of Jesus. But the interview is an interesting one indeed!
Jesus was smack in the middle of the Jewish tradition of his time. Remembering that can make you a better Christian, says this Jewish scholar of the New Testament.
Train, for a moment, the long lens of history on Amy-Jill Levine’s life story. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council likely had no idea that their declaration Nostra Aetate, issued in 1965, would so affect the life of a Jewish grade-school kid riding the bus with her Portuguese Catholic friends in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. This Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions would at least attempt to put a stop to comments like the one that was hurled at Levine one day: “You killed our Lord!”
Her Catholic accuser got this information from whom? Why, the parish priest, of course. Shortly thereafter Nostra Aetate would go forth, admonishing him and the whole Catholic Church that the events of Jesus’ passion “cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today.”
Undeterred, Levine grew up to teach New Testament at a divinity school in the middle of the Bible belt. She has held office in the Catholic Biblical Association. The Jewish Annotated New Testament, which she co-edited, zoomed to number 31 on Amazon’s top 100 list when it was first published last year.
Levine also teaches New Testament courses on Monday nights at Riverbend maximum security prison. She meets with divinity school students and Riverbend inmates over biblical texts. Jesus would definitely approve.
But then he was Jewish, too.