Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler (eds.), The Jewish Annotated New Testament, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. (

The Jewish Annotated New Testament edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marx Z. Brettler is already proving to be an exceptionally valuable resource. I’m not one who purchases study Bibles or other themes Bibles. This project is different though. Unlike most study and/or themed Bibles I guarantee that the reader will learn much about the New Testament (NT) and the Jewish world in which it was written. The editors and contributors of this work have created a tool for helping people who may be overly familiar with the NT revisit their presuppositions and traditional readings.

Each book of the NT comes with an introduction by a Jewish scholar. These two pictures provide a preview:

Introduction to The Revelation to John by David Frankfurter.

As you can see the introductions function both in a traditional sense covering authorship, date, themes, etc. Sometimes there will be an additional section on how the book relates to the Judaism of the day. The print is easy on the eyes (in picture two toward the bottom the squiggled font is because of my photo, not the print). The introductions are short, but sufficient.

The annotations run continually through the NT. The most similar NT to this one may be the NET, though the notes are different. There are some translation related aspects, but most of those are covered in brief footnotes (a,b, c….). For someone looking into more information on the translation decisions of the NRSV this is not the book for that. Rather, the annotations are more or less Jewish commentary on the NT. See this example:

Annotation on Romans 9.

You will find some useful notes that you may not find elsewhere. For instance, on p. 101 covering Luke 1.71-2.10a there is a note on Quirinus that reads, “…appointed “legatus” (military governor) to suppress the revolt by the Homonadensians in Cilicia; the actual governor was Varus. Josephus (Ant. 17.354; 18.1-2; cf. J.W. 2.117; 7.253) reports a census under Quirinius in 6 CE, not during Herod’s reign.” This allows the reader to notice the controversy over this passage (something you may not see in an evangelical’s annotated NT) while being given ancient sources for further study. On the “Annunciation to shepherds” on the same page it says, “…contrary to some Christian teaching, Jews of the time did not view shepherds as outcast or unclean, as numerous positive images of shepherds in Israel’s Scriptures, the association with Moses and David with shepherding, and the connection of sheep with the sacrificial system indicate…” As you see the notes themselves will give a reader a new perspective on some matters.

Unlike many NT’s this one discusses the DSS in the notes with frequency. I found this helpful and valuable since the DSS have yet to make their impact on NT scholarship like they should.

In the next part of my review I will provide examples and comments on some of the maps, charts, sidebar essays, and diagrams. After that I will do a post on the essays, which may be one of the most important contributions of this volume.