Other and Brother: Jesus in the 20th-Century Jewish Literary Landscape
In a groundbreaking book, Neta Stahl examines the attitudes adopted by modern Jewish writers toward the figure of Jesus. Stahl argues that 20th-century Jewish writers reconsidered Jesus’ traditional status as the Christian Other and looked to him instead as a fellow Jew, a “brother,” and even as a model for the “New Jew.”
Other and Brother analyzes the work of a wide array of modern Jewish writers, beginning in the early 20th century and ending with contemporary Israeli literature. Stahl takes the reader through dramatic changes in Jewish life from the Haskalah (or Jewish Enlightenment) and Emancipation, to Zionism, the Holocaust, and the formation of the state of Israel. She shows, for example, how the emergence of quasi-messianic Zionist ideas about returning to the land of Israel, where the actual Jesus was born, helped make the figure of Jesus a source of attraction and identification for Hebrew and Yiddish writers in the first half of the 20th century, and how the fateful events of that century brought about a major transformation in the Jewish attitude toward Jesus.
Stahl’s nuanced and insightful historiography of modern Hebrew and Jewish literature will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in the role of Jesus in Jewish culture.
For almost two thousand years, various images of Jesus accompanied Jewish thought and imagination: a flesh-and-blood Jew, a demon, a spoiled student, an idol, a brother, a (failed) Messiah, a nationalist rebel, a Greek god in Jewish garb, and more.
This volume charts for the first time the different ways that Jesus has been represented and understood in Jewish culture and thought. Chapters from many of the leading scholars in the field cover the topic from a variety of disciplinary perspectives—Talmud, Midrash, Rabbinics, Kabbalah, Jewish Magic, Messianism, Hagiography, Modern Jewish Literature, Thought, Philosophy, and Art—to address the ways in which representations of Jesus contribute to and change Jewish self-understanding throughout the last two millennia. Beginning with the question of how we know that Jesus was a Jew, the book then moves through meticulous analyses of Jewish and Christian scripture and literature to provide a rounded and comprehensive analysis of Jesus in Jewish Culture.
This multidisciplinary study will be of great interest not only to students of Jewish history and philosophy, but also to scholars of religious studies, Christianity, intellectual history, literature and cultural studies.