Scholar Amy-Jill Levine on Persecuted LDS

for-bolg-hi4lds-1.jpgI have been poorly digesting a large amount of Amy-Jill Levine’s book, The Misunderstood Jew (HarperCollins, 2006). I picked this book up because of Ben Witherington III’s quote on the back cover:

Full of the usual vim, vigor, and vitality that so characterizes Levine’s lectures, and writings, The Misunderstood Jew is quite simply the best book ever written about the Jewishness of Jesus and his earliest followers. This book is such a seminal work that it makes us all reexamine what it really means to be a Jew or a Christian.

For my LDS friends, I quote Levine on page 65 for your interest:

Why Paul persecuted the church is a matter of some speculation. Was he concerned that members of the Way were seeking to replace the Torah with Jesus? If so, his action resembles that of Protestants of all types–frontier Evangelicals (Methodists and Baptists), urban mainline Christians (Presbyterians), and other restorationists (Campbellites)–who attacked members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the charge was this group was teaching something contrary to the basic tenents of their theology and moral vision.

This is very interesting.

How would a community who is following someone teaching tenents contrary to my biblical theology see Christ in me if I am breaking their windows, flaring hell from my nostrils, mobbing them in the streets for a good tar & feather, and terrifying their children?

But at the same time, I don’t know what I would do if someone stole my wife’s heart.

There are a lot of heart issues that I would like to discuss with Amy-Jill Levine, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee.


  1. Ya have to scroll down a little in the section, it starts with my “Zen” article (read it also while yer at it, it’s sorta……well………FUN!)

  2. Kerry, I will need to read your scoop.

    I find Amy-Jill sharp minded (far more so than me) but not open-minded. She is biased (just like me).

    For instance:

    1). “I am disgusted by Ezekiel’s misogynistic images:” (p. 15).
    [But isn’t this the LORD talking in this passage referenced by Levine?]

    2). “But it is Luke, not Jesus, who provides the context for the parable. By Luke’s time, the Pharisees had come to represent for the church the Jews who refused to follow Jesus; their portrait is primarily composed of polemic, not objectivity” (39).
    [I thought these words in Luke were ultimately Jesus’ words and just penned by the author.]

    3). “As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 1:23, ‘We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block [skandalon] to Jews and foolishness [morian, i.e. moronic] to Gentiles.’ Some may have perceived Paul’s views to be more akin to those of mystery cults than to the Scriptures and practices of Israel. This business about dying to sin and rising to Christ and immersion in water as an initiation rite representing rebirth smacked of something the followers of Isis, Dionysus, or Attis or those folks who participated in the Eleusinian mysteries would do” (67).

    4). “James’s compromise allowed Jews in the churches to maintain their distinct practices and Gentiles to avoid pagan worship, but the compromise would ultimately fail. The common ground the church accepted was the common ground of its gentile members. The gospel it proclaimed was that of Paul, not that of James or Peter” (78).

    5). “The Bible is capable of taking on innumerable interpretations” (115).
    [Hmmmm . . . Keri . . . do the Bible authors project this?]

    Presently, I am studying John 4 so I took particular notice of The Misogynistic Morass: Part 1, The Samaritan Woman(131-138).

    Levine seeks to blow the myth of the Samaritan woman as a “sinner”.

    “Although having been married to five husbands and currently living with a man who is not one’s husband is by no means conventional, it need not be seen as sinful either” (137).

    Does this sound biased? For me, Levine is bypassing the fact that this sinner needed a Savior in John 4.

    “The poor wife is unfortunate, but she is not sinful.”

    Is this being faithful to biblical text?

  3. Oh but of course Levine is biased…… heavens that is partly what made her book so darn fun to read, truly.
    You asked a pertinent question:
    “The Bible is capable of taking on innumerable interpretations” (115).
    [Hmmmm . . . Keri . . . do the Bible authors project this?]

    They may not project this, but it is what happens. After all, even Paul and Peter had differences over the Gentiles, circumcision, eating meats sacrificed to idols, etc. yes?

    Hope all is well with you and the family….


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