Cover image for Brother Jesus : the Nazarene through Jewish eyes
Brother Jesus : the Nazarene through Jewish eyes
Ben-Chorin, Schalom.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Bruder Jesus. English
Publication Information:
Athens : University of Georgia Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xiv, 252 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BM620 .B213 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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No matter what we would make of Jesus, says Schalom Ben-Chorin, he was first a Jewish man in a Jewish land. Brother Jesus leads us through the twists and turns of history to reveal the figure who extends a "brotherly hand" to the author as a fellow Jew.

Ben-Chorin's reach is astounding as he moves easily between literature, law, etymology, psychology, and theology to recover "Jesus' picture from the Christian overpainting." A commanding scholar of the historical Jesus who also devoted his life to widening Jewish-Christian dialogue, Ben-Chorin ranges across such events as the wedding at Cana, the Last Supper, and the crucifixion to reveal, in contemporary Christianity, traces of the Jewish codes and customs in which Jesus was immersed. Not only do we see how and why these events also resonate with Jews, but we are brought closer to Christianity in its primitive state: radical, directionless, even pagan.

Early in his book, Ben-Chorin writes, "the belief of Jesus unifies us, but the belief in Jesus divides us." It is the kind of paradox from which arise endless questions or, as Ben-Chorin would have it, endless opportunities for Jews and Christians to come together for meaningful, mutual discovery.

Author Notes

Schalom Ben-Chorin (1913-1999) wrote some thirty books on Jewish historical and cultural themes, of which Brother Jesus was his acknowledged favorite. German-born and -educated, Ben-Chorin emigrated to Jerusalem in 1935, where he spent the remainder of his life. In the aftermath of World War II, he worked tirelessly to repair relations between Jews and Germans and between Christians and Jews. His many awards include the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal and the Leo Baeck Prize. Jared S. Klein is a professor of linguistics, classics, and Germanic and Slavic languages at the University of Georgia. Max Reinhart is a professor of German and head of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages at the University of Georgia.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

According to Ben-Chorin, Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, a "mental healer," and itinerant preacher who was executed for political reasons. While Jesus' teachings should be esteemed along with those of Hillel or Shammai, Ben-Chorin insists that Jesus was not a prophet and did not think of himself as the Messiah. The story of Jesus' execution is not about a demigod or myth, but a real Jewish man who dies with screams of pain and a sense of hopeless despair at being forsaken by God. Ben-Chorin is a Jewish writer who moved from Germany to Israel in the 1930s. He sees in Jesus a likeness for the Jewish people who have been hanged repeatedly on the cross of antisemitism. The resurrection message serves as a parable for modern Israel, which has risen out of incredible suffering to a new incarnation. This book is well indexed and contains extensive endnotes and a bibliography. Suitable for undergraduates and general readers. Brother Jesus is a translation of a book originally published in 1967, so it is somewhat dated. For a more current perspective by a Jewish scholar, see The Historical Figure of Jesus, by E.P. Sanders (1993). D. Ingolfsland Crown College