Handman, “Figures of history: Interpreting Jewish pasts in Christian Papua New Guinea”

Handman, Courtney. 2016. Interpreting Jewish pasts in Christian Papua New Guinea. HAU 6(1):237-260. 

Abstract: This article examines two competing historical formations that expatriate missionaries and Papua New Guineans respectively have used to create connections between local ethnic groups and “the ancient Jews” of the Bible. In part through 1970s publications analyzed here, missionaries introduced redemptive and repetitive historicist models that established Melanesian ethnic groups as generically and iconically Jewish. The article then examines the ways in which Guhu-Samane Christians in rural Papua New Guinea take up these missionary narratives in order to produce indexical, genealogical connections to biblical Jews. Ancient Jews have become “figures” of Guhu-Samane history through interpretive discourses in which local people discover the prophetic revelations of their Jewishness that anticipate a future Christianity. Guhu-Samane Christians thus particularize their relationship to Christianity by taking up the history of another group, a Christian historical imagination that runs counter to secular forms of history that orient around issues of autonomous identity.

Kaell, “Under the Law of God: mimesis and mimetic discipleshipamong Jewish-affinity Christians”

Kaell, Hillary. 2016. Under the Law of God: mimesis and mimetic discipleship among Jewish-affinity Christians. JRAI DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.12443.

Abstract: Messianic Judaism, a network of congregations that incorporate Jewish ritual into evangelical worship, is one branch of a fast-growing trend among Christians globally towards ‘Jewish affinity’. Drawing on a multi-site comparison in North America, this article examines one of Messianic Judaism’s most significant internal debates: should non-ethnically Jewish ‘gentile believers’ (GBs) obey biblical laws? It argues that GBs do not simply imitate Jews badly, as outsiders and their own leaders often believe. Rather, their actions are best characterized as mimesis in two complementary forms: mimesis of Jews and ‘mimetic discipleship’ of Jesus-the-Jew. Taken together, these forms offer a heuristic tool sufficiently capacious to explain both individuals’ propensity for Jewish practice and the socially specific ways it is constructed. I conclude that Jewish affinity reflects a key problem in contemporary Christianity, namely what happens when people in one religion (Christianity) come to believe that their God incarnated in the body of a man they now associate with another religion (Judaism)?

Feldman, “A Jewish Guide in the Holy Land: How Christian Pilgrims Made Me Israeli”

Feldman, Jackie. 2016. A Jewish guide in the Holy Land: how Christian pilgrims made me Israeli. Bloomington; Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Publisher’s description: For many Evangelical Christians, a trip to the Holy Land is an integral part of practicing their faith. Arriving in groups, most of these pilgrims are guided by Jewish Israeli tour guides. For more than three decades, Jackie Feldman—born into an Orthodox Jewish family in New York, now an Israeli citizen, scholar, and licensed guide—has been leading tours, interpreting Biblical landscapes, and fielding questions about religion and current politics. In this book, he draws on pilgrimage and tourism studies, his own experiences, and interviews with other guides, Palestinian drivers and travel agents, and Christian pastors to examine the complex interactions through which guides and tourists “co-produce” the Bible Land. He uncovers the implicit politics of travel brochures and religious souvenirs. Feldman asks what it means when Jewish-Israeli guides get caught up in their own performances or participate in Christian rituals, and reflects on how his interactions with Christian tourists have changed his understanding of himself and his views of religion.

Shapiro, “The Messiah and Rabbi Jesus: Policing the Jewish–Christian border in Christian Zionism”

Abstract: For all their ostensible difference and separateness, Judaism and Christianity have a long history of mutual engagement and profound entanglement. I take Daniel Boyarin’s assertion that ‘…the borders between Christianity and Judaism are as constructed and imposed, as artificial and political as any of the borders of the earth’ (2004, 1) as my starting point. But what Boyarin sees as an ongoing process of differentiation between Judaism and Christianity and distinct identity-building in late antiquity, I look for still today in Christian Zionism. The busy border crossing continues to separate people and ideas at the same time as it serves as the meeting place between them, the uncomfortable place where Judaism and Christianity rub up against each other. This paper examines some constructions of the Jewish–Christian border by way of two case studies of prominent religious leaders, each firmly at home in their respective communities, Jewish and Christian, who ventured out to the borderland of Christian Zionism. This is the story of what happened when they returned home to find themselves examined by those who monitor the Jewish–Christian border, and deemed to be over the limit with intoxicants brought over from the ‘other side’.