WHY I WROTE "NEW TESTAMENT PEOPLE" By Rabbi Raymond Apple I have spent my whole life studying and teaching Judaism. I have been a spokesman for Judaism on a wide array of platforms – the pulpit, the classroom, the written and printed word, the audio-visual media – not excluding the university campus and Christian theological colleges and the church Press. I have constantly tried to present the evidence that the teaching of Moses has "an undimmed eye and unabated natural force". I even heard myself described by a fervent Christian believer (as I now recall with some amusement) as "like Our Lord in using parables and explanations". Despite many years of interfaith involvement I have – time and again - found how true are Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's words that it is impossible for a Jew to get inside the mind of a Christian... and vice-versa. Regardless, I embarked upon this new book because I felt I had to, and could, present material that underlined the view of Paul van Buren that the modern age of mutual respect possesses a radical significance in the long and often difficult history of Jewish-Christian relationships. Writing about the "theology of displacement", Van Buren said: "The church looked at the Jews from its own position and saw only a stubborn refusal to accept what the church preached as the truth. It seems never to have crossed Christian minds that what the church called Jewish stubbornness was, from Israel's perspective, fidelity to Torah and Torah's Author" (A Christian Theology of the People of Israel, NY: Seabury Press, 1983, p. 276). In writing this book I have endeavoured to show how "fidelity to Torah and Torah's Author" can help Christians themselves to gain in understanding of their own doctrine, history and literature. Perhaps a bit patronizing, but true.
"New Testament People" is a new book by Rabbi Raymond Apple with pen-and-ink drawings by David Wansbrough. It shows how Jesus and the early Christians can only be understood against a Jewish background. It explains that Jesus was a Jew, but the two faiths broke with each other in an atmosphere of hostility. Raymond Apple, emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Sydney, never resiles from his own faith and commitment but his book will advance the cause of mutual respect. David Wansbrough is a Sydney and Moscow based poet and exhibiting artist.