Should Jews Read the New Testament?Reform Judaism’s Fall 2006 issue contains the article, "Christianity’s Forgotten Jews," adapted from Julie Galambush’s new book The Reluctant Parting: How the New Testament’s Jewish Writers Created a Christian Book. On any number of points, there’s much to both agree and disagree with, but chiefly the author stresses the original Jewishness of Christianity (the article features a re-do of DaVinci’s Last Supper as a full-blown seder) and the intra-Jewish nature of much in the New Testament of that has typically been characterized as anti-Semitism. A companion Study Guide is available for download.
Presumably Galambush’s book is meant, whatever its other aims, to encourage Jews to read the New Testament for themselves. The article meshes nicely with Rabbi Michael J. Cook’s call for Jews to read the New Testament (see his forthcoming book, Modern Jews Engage the New Testament, slated for publication in 2007).
Will Jews be turning to the New Testament in droves? Probably not. Some will object to the term "New Testament" altogether, arguing that it implies that the "Old" is obsolete and that it gives ground to the idea that the Jewish people are no longer the people of God. (Though in my Jewish home growing up, we always talked about the "Old Testament," and after all, it is older in time. If you like, the "Old Testament" has what we Jews call yichus, a respectable pedigree.) Others will see this openness to reading the New Testament as a sell-out of Judaism.
But the New Testament also has yichus. If the Jewish community at large accepts what Jewish scholars have known for a long time, that the New Testament is a Jewish book, maybe the discussion can finally turn on whether or not what it has to say is true, and why it matters.