Christianity might have stayed just a fascination [for Amy-Jill Levine], but for an unfortunate episode in second grade: “When I was 7 years old, one girl said to me on the school bus, ”˜You killed our Lord.’ I couldn’t fathom how this religion that was so beautiful was saying such a dreadful thing.”
That encounter with the dark side of her friends’ religion sent Dr. Levine on a quest, one that took her to graduate school in New Testament studies and eventually to Vanderbilt University, where she has taught since 1994. Dr. Levine is still a committed Jew ”” she attends an Orthodox synagogue in Nashville ”” but she is a leading New Testament scholar.
And she is not alone. The book she has just edited with a Brandeis University professor, Marc Zvi Brettler, “The Jewish Annotated New Testament” (Oxford University Press), is an unusual scholarly experiment: an edition of the Christian holy book edited entirely by Jews. The volume includes notes and explanatory essays by 50 leading Jewish scholars, including Susannah Heschel, a historian and the daughter of the theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel; the Talmudist Daniel Boyarin; and Shaye J. D. Cohen, who teaches ancient Judaism at Harvard.