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Although it has been made clear that this site is not interested in Jesus, which is exactly as it should be, some questions display an interest in the historical Jesus, his relationship to Judaism, and how Jews should feel about him (for example, this, this, this, this, and this - in all, there are 134 questions and answers on Mi Yodeya that mention the word "Jesus"). As such, I thought it might be useful and productive to provide some reading recommendations that would suit these purposes.

I am no more interested than you in hearing evangelical, proselytic, or apologetic arguments about Jesus; and the inevitable agendas that one finds in such works are actively detrimental to understanding the historical figure of Jesus. However, I believe that the more Jews and Christians know about each other's beliefs, the more likely it will be that they will learn to respect one another and live together in peace and tolerance.

The following works are serious academic sources that don't take a theological or doctrinal position on the issue, and only reflect the views of either Jewish or secular scholarship on the subject of the historical Jesus, particularly as it relates to Judaism. None of them are the work of Christian missionaries, evangelists, so called "Messianic Jews", or apologists. None make "truth claims", none suggest that Jesus was really the messiah or divine in any sense, and all are focused on a scholarly examination of the historical evidence.

I hope this post is taken in the spirit in which it was intended - as an attempt to facilitate understanding and provide an alternative to the Christian evangelical agendas that tend to inform and dominate the dialogue between Jews and Christians.

In the future, when questions like the ones linked above are asked, we might point the OP to this post for further reference.

Jewish Scholarly Work on Jesus:

Jesus the Jew: A Historian's Reading of the Gospels, by Géza Vermes

The Religion of Jesus the Jew, Géza Vermes

Jesus in his Jewish Context, Géza Vermes

Jesus and the World of Judaism, Géza Vermes

Jewish Views of Jesus by Susannah Heschel, in Jesus In The World's Faiths: Leading Thinkers From Five Faiths Reflect On His Meaning by Gregory A. Barker, editor.

Jesus Reclaimed: Jewish Perspectives on the Nazarene, Rabbi Walter Homolka

The Jewish View of Jesus, Rabbi Martin A. Meyer, PhD (Available here free of charge)

The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, by Amy Jill-Levine

Jesus the Jew (BBC article available here for free), by Dr. Edward Kessler

Jesus Through Jewish Eyes: Rabbis and Scholars Engage an Ancient Brother in a New Conversation, Beatrice Bruteau (Author, Editor)

Secular Scholarly Books About the Historical Jesus as a Jew:

The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, John Dominic Crossnan

A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, John P. Meier (5 volume set)

Jesus and Judaism, E.P. Saunders

The Historical Jesus in Context, Amy Jill-Levine, John Dominic Crossnan, Dale C. Allison

How Jesus Became Christian, Barrie Wilson

How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee, Dr. Bart D. Ehrman
Note: The title is a little misleading. Ehrman is a well respected secular scholar, and an agnostic. The book is about the process by which Jesus' followers came to believe what they did about him. From an itinerant preacher during his life, to the messiah after his death, to the literal son of G-d in the ensuing centuries. At no time does Ehrman suggest that these beliefs are true. He is simply a scholar explaining how an unimportant Jewish peasant from Galilee came to be called the messiah and the son of G-d by his followers, through the adoption and alteration of Jewish concepts

Scholarly Work on Jewish-Christian Relations:

The Origins of Anti-Semitism: Attitudes Toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity, John G. Gager

Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism, Rosemary Radford Ruether


If there are no objections, I will add other suitable material to this list as I find it.

  • Caveat: Obviously, many of these books are likely to contain descriptions of what people believe about Jesus, despite the fact that the book and its author don't promote said beliefs. – Wad Cheber Aug 25 '15 at 1:36
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    Quite an impressive collection for a chef :) – mevaqesh Aug 25 '15 at 3:10
  • @mevaqesh - I'm a complicated man. An atheist who studies textual and historical criticism of the bible, early Christology, patristic theology, the history of the early church, the history of the bible, and biblical hermeneutics at Princeton Theological Seminary, but who also prefers Judaism to Christianity. – Wad Cheber Aug 25 '15 at 3:12
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Personally, I prefer free online encyclopedias. Below are a few links to relevant scholarly articles from both Wikipedia |WP| and the Jewish Encyclopedia |JE|:

  • Hellenistic Judaism | WP | JE |

  • Septuagint / LXX | WP | JE |

  • Philo of Alexandria | WP | WP | JE |

  • Logos | WP | JE | JE |

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