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Rev. Michelle's Message May 30, 2024

As I write this message, I am deeply immersed in Dr. Amy-Jill Levine’s book, Short Stories by Jesus, burning up some brain cells while trying to understand the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard.


I decided to bring back this series because many folks said they enjoyed it and wanted me to continue with it, and I wanted to delve into some of the parables we didn’t have time to explore last year. I am so glad that people liked the series enough to want to revisit it and want to learn more about Jesus’ parables. And I really didn’t need those extra brain cells anyway LOL.


I find this book both captivating and challenging. Not only is Dr. Levine’s work extremely academic, detailed, and thorough, at every turn she challenges, again and again, things I thought I knew and understood about the Bible. Mostly what she does is expose how so many of our traditional interpretations of these parables (and many other aspects of the New Testament) are problematic because they depict Jews in a negative light and perpetuate negative Jewish stereotypes.


As I will explain in this Sunday’s lesson, I certainly had no idea before I found AJ Levine that many of the ways we have traditionally interpreted the scriptures are anti-Jewish. And of course, I don’t want to contribute to these negative Jewish stereotypes or perpetuate them in any way. So I take this work very seriously.


Dr. Levine’s perspective as a Jewish woman who is also a New Testament scholar and expert on Jesus is so different from anything I had read before. It is startling and eye-opening. I find her work incredibly challenging, even as I am grateful to have stumbled upon her and had my eyes opened.


I look forward to sharing with you what I have learned with whatever brain cells I have remaining by Sunday. See you then!


Many Blessings,

Rev. Michelle


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