I’ve seen a few bloggers comment that they would not be buying The Jewish Annotated New Testament based on its decidedly opinionated Jewish viewpoint on issues within the New Testament.
Personally, I am very taken with the book for its massive dose of Jewish background to a collection of books written by and often for, first century Jews. It is certainly much better reference for bible study than the “gnostic” gospels, which are typically so un-Jewish as to be from a different planet than the traditional four gospels.
The book has a series of very useful tables in the back and a nice glossaryof historic and modern terms. Sidebar essays are some of my favorite features in study bibles and this one features over seventy. Some thirty longer essays in the back address the background and history with a bit more depth and in keeping with quite recent scholarship. Finally, the translation chosen is the NRSV, which remains scholars’ default version, and thus handy to have.
If you have doubts about whether you would be able to agree with the conclusions in the book, I suggest this for a test: get hold of an open copy (mine was shrink-wrapped in the store, nice but on the other hand, annoying), flip to the back, and read Amy-Jill Levine’s essay, “Bearing False Witness: Common Errors Made About Early Judaism”. She hits ten famliar ideas about Judaism in Jesus’ day and dismisses each of them. If this essay sets your teeth on edge or raises your “holy ire”, this is not the book for you. Too bad, I say, as there is much to learn in it, I think.
The book is selling quite well these days, and the Kindle edition is due on December 15, just in time for a Christmas gift for all those new Kindles. (The Fire is the poor man’s IPad, this year, it seems). Go forth and buy the book in some edition, I recommend. And if you or your special someone hasn’t gotten it yet (its six years old, and boy does that seem like yesterday) I recommend the Jewish Study Bible as a companion to the Jewish New Testament. It has many great essays too, and features the JPS Tanakh translation, an excellent counterpoint to Christian Old Testament translations.