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An unusual study Jewish study Bible

September 2, 2011

9780195297706Update 10/27/11 :  See also this post.

Update 10/25/11:  This book is now available.  See first impressions here.

In 2004, Oxford University Press published The Jewish Study Biblea mainstream study Bible with an extensive commentary and supplements of the NJPS translation of the Hebrew Bible.

Now Oxford University Press is publishing a “sequel” of sorts.  Marc Brettler (Brandeis), who co-edited The Jewish Study Bible, has teamed-up with Amy-Jill Levine (Vanderbilt) to publish The Jewish Annotated New Testament.

As of the time of this posting, I have not yet seen a copy of this volume.  Here is the description at the Oxford University Press website:

Although major New Testament figures–Jesus and Paul, Peter and James, Jesus’ mother Mary and Mary Magdalene–were Jews, living in a culture steeped in Jewish history, beliefs, and practices, there has never been an edition of the New Testament that addresses its Jewish background and the culture from which it grew–until now. In The Jewish Annotated New Testament, eminent experts under the general editorship of Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler put these writings back into the context of their original authors and audiences. And they explain how these writings have affected the relations of Jews and Christians over the past two thousand years.

An international team of scholars introduces and annotates the Gospels, Acts, Letters, and Revelation from Jewish perspectives, in the New Revised Standard Version translation. They show how Jewish practices and writings, particularly the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, influenced the New Testament writers. From this perspective, readers gain new insight into the New Testament’s meaning and significance. In addition, thirty essays on historical and religious topics–Divine Beings, Jesus in Jewish thought, Parables and Midrash, Mysticism, Jewish Family Life, Messianic Movements, Dead Sea Scrolls, questions of the New Testament and anti-Judaism, and others–bring the Jewish context of the New Testament to the fore, enabling all readers to see these writings both in their original contexts and in the history of interpretation. For readers unfamiliar with Christian language and customs, there are explanations of such matters as the Eucharist, the significance of baptism, and “original sin.”

For non-Jewish readers interested in the Jewish roots of Christianity and for Jewish readers who want a New Testament that neither proselytizes for Christianity nor denigrates Judaism, The Jewish Annotated New Testament is an essential volume that places these writings in a context that will enlighten students, professionals, and general readers.


  • First New Testament annotated by Jewish scholars
  • Brings out Jewish background of early Christianity, New Testament writers
  • Explains Jewish concepts (e.g., food laws, rabbinic argumentation) for non-Jews, Christian concepts (e.g., Eucharist) for Jews
  • Helpful for non-Jewish readers interested in the Jewish roots of Christianity

Product Details

700 pages; 20 Line Drawings; 6-1/8 x 9 1/4; ISBN13: 978-0-19-529770-6ISBN10: 0-19-529770-9

About the Author(s)

Amy-Jill Levine is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at the Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Marc Z. Brettler is Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies at Brandeis University.

This edition follows closely on the heels of Willis Barnstone’s The Restored New Testament, which is also a fundamentally Jewish look at the text of the New Testament.

Who is this Jewish Annotated New Testament written for, one wonders?  Will it have a largely Jewish set of contributors, like The Jewish Study Bible?  (If it were written for an academic audience, arguably it should simply have a set of qualified contributors, without regard to personal belief.)  Is it designed to introduce a largely non-Jewish audience to particular views from Jewish scholarship (analogous to the way that The African Bible Commentary was designed to introduce non-Africans to some aspects of African theological thought)?  Is it designed primarily to introduce a Christian text to a largely Jewish audience (thus “for readers unfamiliar with Christian language and customs, there are explanations of such matters as the Eucharist, the significance of baptism, and ‘original sin.’ “)?

It certainly seems to be a worthwhile exercise to explicate Jewish foundational thought as illustrated in the New Testament, but that seems to be something that most academic treatments of the New Testament attempt.  Why is the study of Judaism in the New Testament fundamentally a Jewish (rather than a non-denominational academic) effort?

Playing off the words of the old cliché, I wonder if this new volume will be “good for the Jews”?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. September 5, 2011 11:02 am

    My previous exposure to Levine is her book about Jesus. It was mostly one huge apologetic why it makes sense for a Jew to not believe in Jesus. I was hugely disappointed. So I assume similar about this book.

    There are already some NTs by Messianics which give good insight into the Jewish context, the most famous is by Stern.

  2. September 5, 2011 1:03 pm

    Levine’s popular Jesus book was intended for a broad audience; this is going to be an academic book (which Levine is only co-editing, not writing). I presume that this book will talk about subjects such as Jewish customs illustrated in the NT and Talmudic parallels in the NT.) I very much doubt that the book will be addressed or be sympathetic to a Hebrew Christian outlook.

    There are, though, many authors that have covered this ground;Geza Vermes, David Flusser, Adele Reinhartz, Daniel Boyarim, etc.

  3. September 5, 2011 2:52 pm

    The co-editing point is not a bad one. The other co-editor, Marc Z. Brettler, will bring a fresh perspective to the NT as a “male feminist Bible scholar” and particularly as a “male Jewish feminist.” Very prolific:

  4. September 5, 2011 2:59 pm

    Yes, his article “On Becoming a Male Feminist Bible Scholar” is an interesting one.

    But perhaps even more significantly, he was also a co-editor of the New Oxford Annotated Bible (3rd and 4th editions) and the (Oxford) Jewish Study Bible, so he knows how to put together a good annotated Bible.

    I am still in awe of Amy-Jill Levine’s 14-volume Feminist Companion series.

  5. September 7, 2011 1:10 pm

    I’ll be pre-ordering this.

    I’m a Christian fan of Amy-Jill Levine. I’m currently reading my way through the Jewish Study Bible and like it a lot. I think that a scholarly NT annotated from a Jewish perspective should be both interesting and useful.

    My only qualm is that it is an NRSV NT. Mind you, I like the NRSV. A lot. I just have so many NRSV Bibles already.

  6. September 7, 2011 1:34 pm

    Thanks Brant. There are now several ecumenical English Bible translations that have had Jewish involvement — besides the RSV and NRSV, the NABRE and CEB come to mind — but perhaps of these four, the NRSV is the best “compromise” edition.

  7. September 23, 2011 8:11 am

    Greetings to all:
    Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Executive Editor for Bible publishing at Oxford University Press. You can reach me at
    I am based in the NY office of OUP (where most OUP Bible publishing originates). I am the commissioning editor for the New Oxford Annotated Bible, the Jewish Study Bible, and now this Jewish Annotated New Testament.
    The purpose of this forthcoming publication (which will be available in October) is at least two-fold. It is first intended to provide Jewish readers with a “way in” to the New Testament, which many of them (for very good historical reasons) are leery of reading. It is also meant to provide Christian, or more generally non-Jewish readers, with access to the complex history of Jewish religious development and thought in the centuries before and during the New Testament period. The aim here is to give non-specialist audiences the information that is currently mostly available only to scholars.
    This is not, obviously, a messianic Jewish publication. The contributors, all of them affiliated in one way or another with Judaism, are fair-minded in their explication of the New Testament texts, but they are not advocates or apologists.
    Please note that Prof. Levine’s full title is “University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, Professor of Jewish Studies, Divinity School and College of Arts and Science, Vanderbilt University.” She’s a remarkable scholar.
    I hope this is helpful to your readers.
    Donald Kraus

  8. September 23, 2011 11:08 am

    Thanks so much for your comment and detailed information. I am looking forward to seeing the book when it appears.

    I meant no slight to Amy-Jill Levine, whose multi-volume “Feminist Companion to the New Testament” I greatly admire. The “house style” on the blog is to usually omit titles and honorifics.

    I noticed the other day that one of the contributors to the volume is Herbert Basser (Queen’s U.), whose notes on Matthew (“The Mind Behind the Gospels) I greatly admire, and who is certainly observant. (Basser reports that he is annotating the Epistle of James.) If the editors have found similarly insightful contributors, this could be a truly remarkable volume indeed!


  1. Forthcoming books: Jefferson Bible, English Onkelos completed, Sweeney’s survey, Torah MiEtzion anthology, Zondervan 2nd edition interlinear Bible, new Matt Zohar volume « BLT
  2. Forthcoming book: Book of Common Prayer–Texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662 « BLT
  3. Annotated Jewish New Testament–first impressions « BLT
  4. Jewish Annotated New Testament: Hey Jude « BLT
  5. Marc Brettler and Amy-Jill Levine speak up about the New Testament « BLT
  6. Jewish Annotated New Testament posts « BLT

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