Jesus: Jewish or Christian?

This is the last post in the #31days series, although this might technically be post #32, depending on whether or not you count the index post. You can find an index of all the 31 Days of Encountering Judaism here.

Sometimes Christians forget Jesus was Jewish ...

... is Jewish ...

... and will be Jewish ...

His words of wisdom have been compared to Hillel, the Jewish sage from 1 BCE, particularly in the area that loving God and loving your neighbor are paramount. His criticisms of those in the Temple, remind me of Jewish thought today: if it's a choice between keeping one of the commandments or saving a life, you save the life.

And yes, some of his sayings are quite unJewish, like turning the other cheek and bread being his body...

The question is for me, as a Christian: how do I pray to a Jewish Jesus? A Jesus that both called the Jewish people to repentance and to go back to the way God wanted things (to love God, love your neighbor) and radically saw Judaism moving in a slightly different way?

What changes in prayer? What stays the same? Can I imagine Jesus in a tallit and kippah? With the skin, eyes, and hair of a Mediterranean man? Are visualizing externals even important?

All over the world Jesus has been portrayed as African, Native American, Chinese, Indian, Peruvian, etc...  He has long since transcended his physical appearance and what matters instead is His heart, His love for us.

That said, sometimes, I think that I might be missing out on part of the message by not having knowledge-able enough ears to hear His words as He first said them.

For my Christian friends, how would you pray to a Jewish Jesus?


  1. A thoughtful and insightful post, Leanne.

  2. If you haven't already, you might buy the _Jewish Annotated New Testament) ed. Amy-Jill Levine. Levine is a Jewish scholar of the NT (at Vandy, I think). From the description on Amazon: "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."

  3. Gillian - I have this -- still in the shrink wrap, but as soon as I'm done with the Bible in a Year Challenge (again) the shrink wrap is coming off. I can't wait to get into it! (Except of course, I am)

    Thanks for the rec!


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