A truly amazing little by book. I couldn't put it down once I started it, and read it over a few days....Then I immediately started to read it again.
It follows the main events of Holy Week, from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to his agonies at Gethsemane.... but from a uniquely Jewish point of view. Professor Levine uses her knowledge of the Hebrew language and the Jewish scriptures and traditions to help us to pay attention to, and to better understand, a story that has become perhaps too familiar. She makes us stop and think. She explains the meanings of words like “Hosannah” and “Amen”, which we tend skate over. She looks at meaning behind Jesus’ statement that he had not come to “... abolish the law or the prophets;... but to fulfill [them](Matthew 5:17) by discussing how the 613 commandments of Moses, came to be summarized by David into 11 commandments (in Psalm 15) , by Isaiah into 6 (in Isaiah 33:15), by Micah into 3 (in Micah 6:8), by Isaiah, again, into 2 (in Isaiah 56:1) and finally by Habakkuk into 1 (Habakkuk 2:4); and then, in the New Testament, by Jesus into 2 (in Matthew 22: 37-40). None of these summaries were meant to cancel the law, but to distil it.
She compares the 40 days of Lent to the 10 days between Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) when Jews examine their consciences and make amends for the sins committed in the past year. The idea, as with Lent, is to reflect and repent, to become a better, more caring, more compassionate, person.
As it says in the introduction, “...this study is not only a review of Jesus’ Passion. It’s also a form of personal introspection. Jesus is about to give up his life, which requires determining what a life is worth. And that means we all have to determine what our own lives are worth. What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? What are our values, and have we lived up to them?”. These are very good questions.
Jesus gave us an example of how to live -- to love one another as he has loved us -- i.e. to love to the end. To take up our cross and follow him. It’s an example of Kiddush HaShem - sanctification of the Name of God....a way of life, a way of living, we should all try to emulate....a life of service. It’s about making choices, following our good inclinations, not our bad.
This is an excellent book to read at any time, but especially for Lent, and it would definitely be worth reading in a discussion group -- it provides such a fresh perspective; there's plenty to think and talk about. I’d recommend it to Christians of all denominations. Written by a Jew it’s about what it actually means to be a Christian.