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Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels by Israel Abrahams
Israel Abrahams’s Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels were published in two parts, the first series in 1917 and the second in 1924. It was reviewed in Volume 38, No. 4 of The Churchman in October 1924:
Mr. Abrahams is a foremost Liberal Jew. He has learnt, as he tells us, much from Christian commentators on the Old Testament; and he has a thorough knowledge of the New Testament. Though his scholarship is thus wide he writes as a lover of his people, a patriotic Jew. His varied and profound learning, however, makes him strive to be absolutely fair to Christianity.
(1) In 1917 Mr. Abrahams published his First Series of " Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels." It was designed to be in part a companion to Mr. C. G. Montefiore's Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels. From Rabbinical material Mr. Abrahams wrote extended notes on subjects arising from the New Testament, e.g. "The Sabbath"—"First Century Divorce"—" God's Forgiveness"—" Man's Forgiveness," etc.
The Second Series has now appeared, and it can be said without hesitation that no teacher of the New Testament can afford to ignore either of Mr. Abrahams' Studies. Of course it is no new thing to bring Hebrew literature to bear upon the New Testament; but a good method has so often lacked historical accuracy in the hands of the unskilled. Not seldom Commentators on a New Testament book (unless they are themselves Jewish scholars) are found jumbling up citations from all periods of Jewish literature. This has led to false (but accepted) statements (e.g.) such as that in New Testament times there were "Proselytes of the Gate" and "Proselytes of Righteousness." The same kind of imperfect scholarship makes our Lord be present at services where there were liturgical prayers for the dead (which prayers in reality came into the Jewish services in the Middle Ages and from Roman Catholic services). When Mr. Abrahams quotes, it is from Mishnah, Midrash, or Talmud, and he gives his references. But those who desire only quotations accurately arranged would seek elsewhere. Mr. Abrahams produces interestingly written essays on such subjects as the Good Samaritan—Whited Sepulchres—The Second Death—The Cessation of Prophecy—The Imitation of God. (This last was originally written as the Presidential Address before the Oxford Society of Historical Theology, 1921.) … [pp.327-328]
These volumes, which are still being reprinted, are in the public domain and can be obtained by visited their respective download pages below.
Israel Abrahams [1858-1925], Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, First Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1917. Hbk. pp.178. [Click here to visit the download page for the First Series]
Israel Abrahams [1858-1925], Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, Second Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1924. Hbk. pp.226. [Click here to visit the download page for the Second Series]
Main mage: Jesus at the house of the Pharisean, by Tintoretto, Escorial. Credit: Jacopo Tintoretto
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