WE JEWS AND JESUS by Samuel Sandmel


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This uneven little book can be viewed two ways. First, and most manifestly, as a resume of Jewish and Christian attitudes toward each other, with scholarly rummagings through certain theological or historical texts. All more or less concerns the life and meaning of Jesus, and many pinpoint or represent the anti-Jewish elements latent in much Christian tradition. This is its objective side, and very illuminating it is. But it has another face, quite subjective, openly partisan and, alas, a little parochial, so that a number of statements are rather impatient and assertive, e.g. ""Most of us Jews never penetrate to the point of understanding what Christians mean by the atoning death of the Christ. Most of us do not accept it because it is so foreign to our basic intuition."" or ""A Christian reading the Gospels has an empathy with Jesus, but I find that I have only a sporadic empathy with the Gospels in general, and I warm up only to scattered items."" Honest as these admissions may be, they raise a doubt in the reader's mind whether the author isn't incapacitated by them, both in his overall commentary on Christian teachings and in his plea for a rapprochement between the two faiths. The book, however, is altogether admirable when dealing with writers like Renan, Strauss, Bauer, Graetz and Geiger, the various shades of liberalism and orthodoxy, and the historical picture of Jesus.

Publisher: Oxford