This article appeared in the July 14 web page for The Australian Jewish News (ajn.com.au), see article in original setting here. Many thanks to a reader, Glenn, who pointed me to the article.
Amy-Jill Levine is a professor at Vanderbilt. She is Jewish, liberal, academic, and an interesting person. I did a series of posts about her recent book, The Misunderstood Jew (get it here). Read the posts about Amy-Jill Levine here.
I appreciate a Jewish scholar of religion speaking up for Messianic Jews and Jewish Christians. Her comments will only appeal to liberal Jews, but that is a great start. She is not, of course, agreeing with Messianic Judaism by her comments, but confessing that Messianic Jews are not necessarily crackpots. Considering how many crackpots have given Jewish faith in Jesus a bad name over the years, this is a great start.
Here is the article by Peter Kohn writing for The Australian Jewish News, July 14…
Scholar predicts softer line on messianic Jews
Professor Amy-Jill Levine trains Christian pastors at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and describes herself as “a Yankee-Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Protestant divinity school in the buckle of the Bible belt”.
Prof Levine and her partner Professor Jay Geller are lecturing at Monash University’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation Winter School program this month.
On the subject of messianic Jews, Prof Levine said that for many people there was a “dividing line here over which one cannot step” and “once the Jewish person accepts Jesus as lord and saviour, that person is no longer a Jew, but a Christian”.
Prof Levine said she respected that view but also looked at the subject from “the other side”.
Prof Levine said it was an “exceptionally complicated issue” because Jews who say they accept Jesus have “palpable and real” views.
“It’s often easier,” she said, “to simply say ‘I’m not a Jew for Jesus, I’m a Presbyterian or Lutheran or Catholic’, but what happens when they want to hang on to that Jewish identity, and what do we do with that individual’s family?
“One could look at them simply as a Christian, one could look at them from a traditional Jewish perspective as a ‘bad’ Jew or an apostate Jew, or a very confused Jew.
“On the other hand, if the argument is that they have a different way to the divine, a different pathway to God, then I can say the atheist Jew doesn’t care about God at all. Why would I accept one and not the other?”
Prof Levine said she was concerned at the impact on Jewish families. “Sometimes children of these marriages will say to their grandparents, ‘Gee, bubby and zaide, it’s too bad you’re going to hell’.”