A group of Jewish scholars, led by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine (professor of New Testament and Jewish studies at Vanderbilt) and Dr. Marc Z. Brettler (professor of biblical studies at Brandeis University), have recently produced The Jewish Annotated New Testament:
The book [Levine] has just co-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 great theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel; the Talmudist Daniel Boyarin; and Shaye J. D. Cohen, who teaches ancient Judaism at Harvard.
As any visitor to the book expo at this conference discovered, there is a glut of Bibles and Bible commentaries. One of the exhibitors, Zondervan, publishes hundreds of different Bibles, customized for your subculture, niche or need. Examples include a Bible for those recovering from addiction; the Pink Bible, for women “who have been impacted by breast cancer”; and the Faithgirlz! Bible, about which the publisher writes: “Every girl wants to know she’s totally unique and special. This Bible says that with Faithgirlz!™ sparkle!”
Nearly all these Bibles are edited by and for Christians. The Christian Bible comprises the Old and New Testaments, so editors offer a Christian perspective on both books. For example, editors might add a footnote to the story of King David, in the Old Testament books I and II Samuel, reminding readers that in the New Testament David is an ancestor of Jesus.
Jewish scholars have typically been involved only with editions of the Old Testament, which Jews call the Hebrew Bible or, using a Hebrew acronym, the Tanakh. Of course, curious Jews and Christians consult all sorts of editions, without regard to editor. But among scholars, Christians produce editions of both sacred books, while Jewish editors consult only the book that is sacred to them. What’s been left out is a Jewish perspective on the New Testament — a book Jews do not consider holy but which, given its influence and literary excellence, no Jew should ignore. ...
Thirty years ago, when Dr. Levine was starting graduate school, an aunt asked her why she was reading the New Testament. “I said, ‘Have you read it?’ and she said, ‘No, why would I read that hateful, anti-Semitic disgusting book?’ ”
But Dr. Levine insists her aunt, like other Jews, had nothing to fear. “The more I study New Testament,” Dr. Levine said, “the better Jew I become.”
Read the entire New York Times piece, "A New Look at the New Testament, by Jews, for Jews" (Nov. 25, 2011; ht: CF).