reform Rabbi Michael Cook says many Jews are paralyzed by their
ignorance of New Testament writings, and is urging their study in order
to improve interfaith relations and answer Christians who ask why Jews
don't accept Jesus as the Messiah.
Cook says this lack of knowledge about the New Testament is the Jewish "Achilles' heel," reported the Associated Press. Jews they must learn how the Gospels molded Christian attitudes toward Judaism, he says. This "self-imposed ignorance" is dangerous, he adds.
"The New Testament is the greatest single external determinant of Jewish history, and deleteriously so in it’s causing Jews grievous problems," Cook, a New Testament professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, told the AP.
"Once Jews catch on to this, most will recognize how valuable this venture can be," Cook was quoted as saying. He is working on a book he plans to publish next year, "Modern Jews Engage the New Testament.”
Many scholars agree that Jews would benefit from studying the Christian texts. But most Jews shun Christian Scripture due to both religious law and historical experience.
Fellow scholars say there are too many other pressing issues in Jewish education, including the increasing secularization of Jews, to make New Testament learning a priority.
Currently, the text is almost completely absent from coursework for rabbinical candidates, students at American Jewish colleges and the many young people enrolled in Jewish high schools. There are a few Jewish colleges that include a course on New Testament studies.