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An Educated Man: A Dual Biography of Moses and Jesus
384 pp., $26.00
Moses and Jesus
If you don't already know the lives of Moses and Jesus from reading the Bible, you might want to begin David Rosenberg's new book, An Educated Man: A Dual Biography of Moses and Jesus, from the beginning. If you do, you might want to begin at the end with Rosenberg's letter to Pope Benedict. In that letter, which constitutes most of Chapter 7, "A Community of Readers," Rosenberg makes clear that he is one writer in dialogue with other writers about the historical Jesus and his education as a Jew in the first century. With that framing in mind, you can loop back to the first chapter.
Although Rosenberg initially appears to be writing to a secular reader with a decent college education but little biblical knowledge, this last chapter clearly reveals that he is participating in a larger conversation. Rosenberg is specifically responding to Pope Benedict's biography Jesus of Nazareth (2007), which pays particular attention to the Jewishness of Jesus. His perspective on Jesus differs from that of the pope (whom he calls "my dear Benedict"): from Rosenberg's point of view, Jesus cannot be the "greater Moses" who supercedes the original; it is Jesus who is indebted to Moses, whose Torah he studied, taught, and quoted in his role as a 1st-century rabbi. When the pope writes, "Jesus was God," Rosenberg responds, "You claim something almost ahistorical."
Knowing who Rosenberg is—a student of the Great Books of Western literature; a former professor; an accomplished poet; a non-literal, poetic translator of the Bible (and many other works, including those of the esteemed poet Yehuda Amichai); and a believing Jew who wants to retain a historical approach to the Bible without reducing it to the record of a mythic journey devoid of sacred qualities—helps readers to appreciate the contributions his new dual biography makes to building a bridge of understanding between Jews and Christians.
Rosenberg suggests that readers must be willing to suspend disbelief when they read ...