The Jewish Annotated New Testament


Has anyone heard of or read this book? What did you think of it? I am currently borrowing it from my pastor. On one hand it has been very helpful in showing the connections between the Old and New Testaments that I had never seen before, and showing connections are commonalities between Christianity and Judaism that I didn’t know were there. On the other hand, it sometimes leaves me questioning my face. The commentaries say things such as John the Baptist probably didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah, that Matthew 14:3 is wrong and Herodias was actually the wife of another one of Herod’s half-brothers, Herid Boethus, that Luke got some Jewish traditions and practices wrong in his gospel, that John was probably not the beloved disciple, that the book of Acts’ account of the life of Paul, especially after his conversion, directly contradicts what he wrote in his own letters, and most strikingly that 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 “illustrates Paul’s understanding that Christ (the Messiah) is not God, even though Christ incarnate God’s wisdom and power (1.24), imparts the Holy Spirit (6.17), and is the conduit for all existence (8.6); ultimately “Christ belongs to God” (3.23) who is both a source of all that exists in the universe as well as its purpose”.


I think having a Jewish understanding of the Old Testament (Hebrews Scriptures) can be very helpful, but of the New Testament not so! I am reading a book right now called ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity’ by Larry Hurtado. In this scholarly (yet readable) book, Professor Hurtado looks at the earliest sources of Christian devotion to Jesus. I am only part way through this 746 page book, but yet it is already obvious through their devotion of Jesus, that the earliest Jewish Christian followers of Jesus treated him as the very person of God in their worship!


Hi BrethrenBoy. If it the one that I’m thinking of, I looked it over couple years ago. My impressions at the time were that it wasn’t necessarily a bad read and probably had some insights but I didn’t put much stock in it. It was written by one man that had a bit of difficulty getting it published; it seems to be a matter of his own views and own authority for that matter. Some of his views of Jewish practice, as a modern Jew, don’t line up with Early Fathers’ accounts of Jewish practice, who observed them firsthand in the early centuries, particularly St. Jerome, who spent copious time learning Jewish customs. But I don’t remember any specifics. I think he published 2 volumes: something like ‘The Jewish New Testament’ and then "Commentary to the JNT’ – one was red and the other blue. I don’t know if it is the same. Just my 2 cents.


There are actually two such works. The one edited by Amy-Jill Levine is superior. She is Professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt Divinity School and has been interested in New Testament studies since her early childhood years. You may wish to read about her background online under U.S. Catholic. Her goal is not to convert Christians to Judaism but rather to reveal more profoundly the link between Christianity and Judaism.


If it’s not too much trouble for the OP, can you relate what the author of the Annotated NT writes about the passage in Matthew when the temple veil was torn when Jesus died? Thanks in advance.


This is the one that I am borrowing. What do you think of some other things that the scholars say in it?


It says “could symbolize the temple destruction, Jesus’s function as the “forgiven of sins” and the “divine presence” there by replacing the temple, or divine morning”.


Thanks for that. Did the author offer an opinion/explanation as to whether the temple veil was ever actually torn top to bottom in that time period? TIA


It goes on to talk the second half of the verse, talking about the earthshaking and rock splitting, and then says no non-Christian sources record these events. Based on the way it’s put together in the commentary I am not hundred percent sure if it’s talking about just the second half of the verse or the whole verse. The commentary on this verse’s counterparts in Mark and Luke both basically repeat what was already mentioned and does not offer any commentary on whether or not the temple curtain was actually torn


thanks again


This publication has been widely publicized in Catholic news media and uses the NRSV New Testament text that has been approved for reading by Catholics.

But it is not meant to be a Christian work nor a publication that offers an exhaustive Jewish view of the New Testament. It is also not to be read as a Catholic or Christian study Bible that offers Christian-based commentary and doctrine. This is explained in the foreword.

The idea behind the book is to give a contrasting Jewish view of much of the text, so many of the editors offer this and only this. They do so to give insight by highlighting any Jewish teachings or historical commentary that might illuminate the meaning behind the formation of the text. The New Testament, except for the gospel of Luke, is a product of Jewish people and culture after all.

But it is a study in academia, not a commentary. So when a hypothesis is offered as a contrast to Christian belief it is done in full comprehension that this is what is being done, nothing more. It isn’t suggesting that the Christian belief is incorrect because it isn’t being dogmatic. It’s like playing “devil’s advocate” in some cases in order to ensure that a text isn’t interpreted by purposefully closing one’s eyes to all that data that may be connect to a text’s origin, even that which suggests something different than what Christians are used to hearing.

But some of what you mention is actually nothing more than what is already being discussed in Christian critical study. Again this is not doctrine but analysis based on empirical evidence (and the methodology doesn’t allow much room for tradition for which there is no empirical data). It’s a methodology that is limited to the text itself and what can be validated about the text from independent and disinterested examination.

So when it says something that sounds dogmatic, such as “so-and-so was probably not the original writer of this text” it is with the understanding that the reader knows that this is critical analysis theory. So don’t try to approach this work in any other way. It’s meant to say “this is a possible factor to consider,” not much else.


If you are interested in seeing the responses to the claims of Jewish apologists, please examine the works of Messianic Jew Dr. Michael Brown. In addition to his free material he has a series of books called “answering Jewish objections to Jesus”


Yes I think those links would be more faith-affirming than the Jewish one. Since Messianic Jews beliieve in the divinity of Christ and other Jews do not.


Dr. Michael Brown’s discussions and debates with Rabbi Tovia Singer both online and in print are informative and fascinating.


True to my Jewish heritage, I agree with some and disagree with others!


Yes. There was a review of it a couple years ago in Our Sunday Visitor magazine which recommended it.

The commentaries in the book are generally helpful and useful when they show the Jewish underpinnings of some NT writing. I haven’t examined it critically as you have. I will probably look up one or two of these items and get back to you on it.


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