Boyarin, Isaiah 53 and Interfaith Dialog Done Badly (Part 2 – Debate)

One of the most common–and least enlightening–exercises in religious history is the batting back and forth of biblical verses. Rabbi David Wolpe.

In Part 1 of this series, I looked at one of the most controversial chapters in the Bible, Isaiah 53. For Christians, Isaiah 53 is prophecy concerning Jesus of Nazareth. Jews interpret Isaiah 53 in varying ways, but the dominant Jewish interpretation is that Isaiah 53 predicts the redemption of the people and nation of Israel.

To understand the meaning of Isaiah 53, we need go beyond what this chapter says, and beyond how Jews and Christians have interpreted this chapter. To understand Isaiah 53, we need understand how this text has been used over the centuries. Isaiah 53 has been used in ways that have transformed what the text means.

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Reconceiving Borders

How might I best launch this blog, a blog devoted in part to understanding the formation of a border line between Christianity and Judaism[1], a blog that I hope will inspire participation by people otherwise separated by present-day religious borders?

The best way I can think to get started is with a discussion of U.C. Berkeley professor Daniel Boyarin. Boyarin’s most recent book is The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ, and I plan to discuss this book in upcoming posts, but first I’d like to approach Boyarin’s work here in general and personal terms. I find Boyarin the ideal place of beginning for this blog because, to put it in simple terms, Boyarin dislikes borders.