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Jesus

Is Atonement Possible Without Blood? A Jewish-Christian Divide

Blood has a significant role in many biblical stories and rituals, most prominently in the atonement sacrifices of Leviticus. With the destruction of the Temple and the loss of sacrifices, Judaism and Christianity took very different paths to achieving atonement.

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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Prof.

Amy-Jill Levine

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Was Haman Hanged, Impaled or Crucified?

The manner in which Haman’s execution was depicted had real world consequences.

Dr.

Abraham J. Berkovitz

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Psalm 2: Is the Messiah the Son of God?

YHWH declares to the Davidic king, “You are my son; today I have begotten you” (Psalm 2:7). For the New Testament, this verse is a prooftext for Jesus’s divinity, but what did it mean in its original context, and how did Jewish interpreters understand it?

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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Prof.

Amy-Jill Levine

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John the Baptist – A Jewish Preacher Recast as the Herald of Jesus

The historical John, יוחנן, was a thoroughly Jewish religious preacher, who had little if any relation to Jesus and his movement. Here is the story of how John and his central rite, baptism, became part of Christianity.

Prof.

Tamás Visi

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Did Early Christians Mourn the Destruction of the Temple?

When the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in the summer of 70 C.E., the Jews lost their religious and political center. Practically speaking, this did not adversely affect Jesus’s followers, who continued to grow and flourish in this period. But what did they feel about the Temple’s destruction?

Prof.

Eyal Regev

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Love Your Neighbor: How It Became the Golden Rule

The precept וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” in Leviticus, is one of many action-oriented commandments focused on Israelite social cohesion. Only in Late Antique Jewish and early Christian sources, did the rule take on a transcendent role as the principle in which all of the Torah is encompassed.

Prof.

John J. Collins

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“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” — Jesus or Esther?

A midrash imagines Queen Esther reciting Psalm 22 the moment she was about to enter Ahasuerus' inner court. Are the rabbis responding to the Passion Narrative, in which Jesus, in his final moments, recites this lament on the cross?

Dr.

Abraham J. Berkovitz

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The Jewish Origins of the Christmas Story

The narratives of Jesus’ conception and birth as presented in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke echo Jewish history and cite Jewish prophecy. In that sense, the Christmas story can be said to have Jewish origins.

Prof.

Amy-Jill Levine

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Shabbat with Food: From Biblical Prohibitions to Rabbinic Feasts

Biblical prohibitions against preparing food on Shabbat are further developed in the Second Temple and rabbinic periods. At the same time, a new emphasis emerges: celebrating Shabbat with festive meals.

Dr.

Sarit Kattan Gribetz

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The Depiction of Jeroboam and Hadad as Moses-like Saviors

Set against the Pharaonic Solomon, Jeroboam frees Israel from servitude and founds the Northern Kingdom. Hadad plays a similar role on behalf of the Edomites. Why are these two “rebels” depicted as heroes?

Dr.

Tzvi Novick

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Balaam the Seducer of Jews and an Early Christian Polemic

Ancient Jewish interpreters imagined Balaam as the prototypical Gentile seducer. This trope was used by John of Patmos, the author of the book of Revelation and himself a Jew, to polemicize against his rivals among the early Christians.

Prof. Rabbi

Joshua Garroway

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Parents Eating their Children – The Torah's Curse and Its Undertones in Medieval Interpretation

Early rabbinic interpretation connected the curse of child eating (Lev 26:29; Deut 28:53-57) with the description of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in Lamentations (2:20 and 4:10) and the Roman destruction of the Second Temple. In the Middle Ages, however, Jewish commentators de-emphasize this connection. The reason for this may lie in the 12th c. development of Christian Bible commentary.

Dr.

Wendy Love Anderson

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Attaining and Forfeiting Adam’s Immortality at Sinai

The Jewish Version of the “Fall”

Prof.

Joel Kaminsky

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Sukkot, the Temple and the Messianic Controversy

“הרחמן הוא יקים לנו את סוכת דוד הנופלת – May the All-Merciful One reestablish the fallen sukkah of [King] David.”  Birkat Hamazon

Dr.

Malka Z. Simkovich

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Ma’oz Tzur and the “End of Christianity”

Ma’oz Tzur is an intense anti-Christian text reflecting the mood and experience of Ashkenazi Jews during the Crusades, when dozens of Jewish communities were slaughtered in the name of the cross.[1] 

Prof.

Yitzhak Y. Melamed

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Akedah: How Jews and Christians Explained Abraham's Faith

God promised Abraham that Isaac would be his heir, yet God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. What did Abraham believe that allowed him to reconcile this divine contradiction?

Dr.

Devorah Schoenfeld

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Can a False Prophet Perform Miracles?

Deuteronomy 13 discusses the case of a false prophet who does not have a message from God, but advocates worshiping other gods. Oddly enough, the false prophet can successfully perform miracles, or is able to predict the future.  How is this possible?

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Eating from Your Neighbor’s Field

Deuteronomy gives broad permission to eat your fill from a neighbor’s vineyard and grain field, so long as you don’t gather in a vessel or cut with an implement. Famously, the disciples of Jesus gather grain on the Sabbath, earning the Pharisees’ wrath not for theft but for violating Shabbat. Commentators debate the reason for this law and whether it has any limits.

Prof. Rabbi

Shaye J. D. Cohen

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Passover Becomes about Matzah when the Paschal Lamb Becomes Associated with Jesus

As late as the Second Temple period, Passover and Chag HaMatzot were viewed as two separate holidays. What was the final impetus to concretize the synthesis of these holidays into one?

Dr.

Malka Z. Simkovich

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Sukkot in the New Testament: From Lulav and Hoshana to Palm Sunday

Jesus is famously associated with the holiday of Passover. However according to the Gospel of John, Jesus makes his debut and final visit at the temple on Sukkot, while the Book of Revelation uses Sukkot imagery to describe Jesus’ future appearance on earth. These repurposings of Sukkot and its rituals highlight Sukkot’s eschatological significance for Jews in Second Temple times (Zech 14).

Dr.

Shayna Sheinfeld

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Do Not Covet: Is It a Feeling or an Action?

In English, to covet means to desire someone or something obsessively, wrongfully, and/or without due regard for the rights/feelings of others. It is a strong emotion, to be avoided. But does “covet” capture the meaning of the Hebrew verb חמד?

Prof.

Leonard Greenspoon

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Nittel Nacht: An Inverted Christmas with Toledot Yeshu

How Jews responded to the celebration of Jesus' birth by creating a cynical version of Christmas Eve lampooning him.

Shai Alleson-Gerberg

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The Subversive Kaddish

The Mourner’s Kaddish strengthens the connection of living Jews with their deceased relatives. The custom was developed by twelfth century Ashkenazi Jews as a way of saving their loved ones from Gehenna (hell) and making heaven available to all.[1]

Dr.

David Shyovitz

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Moshe Rabbeinu Never Died: The Hidden Ending

Rabbi

Eric Grossman

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Isaac's Divine Conception?

“The Lord visited Sarah” (Gen 21:1) – When God (and his angels) appears to Abraham to announce the birth of Isaac, the text implies a hidden visit to Sarah. Does this mean, as both Philo and Paul claim, that Isaac was born from a divine conception?

Dr. Rabbi

Samuel Z. Glaser

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