From Rebel to Rabbi: Reclaiming Jesus and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture

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From Rebel to Rabbi establishes how the changes that occurred in Jewish culture during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries stimulated a widespread fascination with the figure of Jesus and with Christian motifs among numerous Jewish theologians, historians, intellectuals, writers, and artists. It illustrates how and why the process of modernization for these Jews involved a radical reevaluation of Jesus of Nazareth. This book analyzes works of Jewish history, theology, Yiddish literature, Jewish visual art, and intellectual debates, in an attempt to situate this phenomenon within the broader context of a cultural history of how Jews have related to and depicted the figure of Jesus in the modern period. It suggests that for writers and artists, such as Sholem Asch and Marc Chagall, refiguring Jesus as intrinsically Jewish and using Christian themes to express aspects of the modern Jewish experience were an integral part of creating a new and distinctive modern Jewish culture.