Modern Jews Engage the New Testament by Rabbi Michael J. Cook, Ph.D., HUC-JIR Professor

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Why Jews Need to Know "Gospel Dynamics" 

Despite the New Testament's impact on Jewish history, virtually all Jews avoid knowledge of its underlying dynamics. Jewish families and communities thus remain needlessly stymied when they respond to a deeply Christian culture. Their Christian friends, meanwhile, are left perplexed as to why Jews are wary of the Gospel's "good news." How can an honest and probing understanding of the processes–the "Gospel Dynamics"–by which such texts came to be equip Jews to engage the New Testament and resolve controversies between Jews and Christians when they arise today? 

MODERN JEWS ENGAGE THE NEW TESTAMENT: Enhancing Jewish Well-Being in a Christian Environment (Jewish Lights / August 2008 / Hardcover / $29.99) is a groundbreaking, solution-oriented book by a foremost Jewish authority on Jewish-Christian relations, Rabbi Michael J. Cook, PhD, with three decades of experience teaching about the New Testament on the graduate level. Intent on leading Jews out of anxieties that have plagued them throughout their history, he offers an unprecedented blueprint for unraveling what generated New Testament texts regarding Jews in relation to Jesus, Paul, Judas, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, and others. Accessible to lay people, scholars and clergy of all faiths, its innovative teaching aids make this invaluable resource all the more ideal for rabbis, ministers and other educators. Topics include:

  • The Gospels, Paul's Epistles, and Revelation–Key Concerns for Jews
  • Jesus' Sanhedrin Trial, the "Virgin Birth," and Empty Tomb Enigmas
  • Misapplying the Talmud in Gospel Study
  • Millennialist Scenarios and Missionary Encroachment
  • The Last Supper and Church Seders
  • Is the New Testament Antisemitic?

"Jews cannot but associate the New Testament as their 'Cape of Storms' to be avoided, but [this has] only compounded Jews' problems," writes Dr. Cook. "[Yet] those Jews who have tried navigating a turn around this Cape of Storms now find themselves on the other side floundering no more, stronger and more secure asJews for doing so. It was certainly not by avoidance but solely [by turning] that corner that the Cape of Storms [became] ... renamed the Cape of Good Hope." 


Rabbi Michael J. Cook, PhD, is professor of intertestamental and early Christian literatures, and holds the Sol and Arlene Bronstein Professorship in Judaeo-Christian Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in Cincinnati.

Enhancing Jewish Well-Being in a Christian Environment

by Rabbi Michael J. Cook, PhD
Jewish Lights (Woodstock, VT); ; 800-962-4544
Hardcover / $29.99 / 416 pages / August 2008/ ISBN-13: 978-1-58023-313-2

Praise for
Enhancing Jewish Well-Being in a Christian Environment
by Rabbi Michael J. Cook, PhD

"A wonderful resource for Jews who seek to take on the challenges posed by the New Testament and for Christians who wish to understand Jews' relationship to Christian theology. Whether for individual or group study, [its] educational value is without measure."
–Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president, Union for Reform Judaism 

"Superb. Builds on Cook's mastery of sound New Testament scholarship with innovative interpretations and lucid [expression] ... Useful for laity, clergy and scholars, [and] essential for [those] dedicated to Christian-Jewish dialogue."
–Joseph B. Tyson, professor emeritus of religious studies, Southern Methodist University; author, Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle 

"Covers the highlights of the Gospels and New Testament Christianity and makes [readers new to the topic] feel more at home. Useful for all engaged in Jewish and Christian dialogue."
–Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies, The Jewish Theological Seminary; author, A Delightful Compendium of Consolation 

"Practical, pointed and provocative.... Points out how and why Jews need to understand this material. A welcome addition to both New Testament scholarship and Jewish-Christian relations."
–Amy-Jill Levine, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School 

"Groundbreaking.... Extraordinary insights into a long-neglected and misunderstood subject. Essential reading for people of all religions."
–Rabbi A. James Rudin, senior interreligious adviser, The American Jewish Committee 

"Distills modern New Testament scholarship in a way that will greatly aid Jews.... Christians reading it will be fascinated by this Jewish 'take' on it, and challenged in a positive way where they disagree, and they will, with some of the author's conclusions. A must read for anyone involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue!"
–Dr. Eugene J. Fisher, associate director emeritus, Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 

"Sharp insights, broad scholarship and straight language ... opens up the world of the New Testament and the dynamics that produced it [and] will yield fruit for virtually every reader. Provocative without being explosive, an inspired and inspiring resource for the next era of Jewish-Christian encounter."
–Rev. Peter A. Pettit, PhD, director, Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding of Muhlenberg College 


MODERN JEWS ENGAGE THE NEW TESTAMENT: Enhancing Jewish Well-Being in a Christian Environment (6" x 9", 416 pp., Hardcover, ISBN-13: 978-1-58023-313-2, $29.99) is available from Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, Cokesbury, Doubleday, Indigo/Chapters, Waldenbooks, B. Dalton,,, and many other booksellers, or directly from Jewish Lights Publishing, P.O. Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091; Tel: (802) 457-4000; Fax: (802) 457-4004; For credit card orders, call (800) 962-4544. Add $3.95 shipping and handling for the first book, $2.00 for each additional book.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.