John 8:31–59 from a Jewish Perspective

  • Adele Reinhartz


Rarely A week goes by that I do not face the question, ‘How did you end up in New Testament studies?’ Behind this query often lies the assumption that there is a contradiction between my area of study and my Jewish identity. Interestingly enough, this query comes more often from Jews than from non-Jews. The notion that being Jewish is incompatible with a professional interest in the New Testament reflects two profound and rarely articulated views held by many Jews. One is the perceived theological gulf between Judaism and Christianity. Related to this perception is a suspicion of the New Testament itself, perhaps fuelled by the fear, or the suspicion, that reading this set of texts may cause Jews to question or even to reject their Jewish identities. A second is the view that the New Testament is inimical not only to Jewish faith but also to the Jews as a people. Many Jews believe that the New Testament is in some way implicated in the roots and development of anti-Semitism and therefore helped to lay the groundwork for genocide.


Jewish Identity Eternal Life Biblical Text Divine Attribute Loeb Classical Library 
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  1. 1.
    J.L. Martyn, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), p.xviii. This statement appears also in the second edition of this book (Nashville: Abingdon, 1979), p.18.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
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  12. 26.
    For a discussion of the question of whether the Fourth Gospel is a missionary text or not see Adele Reinhartz, ‘Historical Critics and Narrative Texts: A Look at the Missionary Position in Johannine Scholarship’, in The Making of Proselytes: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Hellenistic World, ed. by Amy-Jill Levine (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 2000 [forthcoming]).Google Scholar
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • Adele Reinhartz

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