David Klinghoffer's "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus"

A good part of this book makes good sense, and even sounds like an advertisement for The Impossible Faith: Klinghoffer explains several reasons why Jews of the first century rejected Jesus, such as not matching up with messianic expectations and not meeting the expectations of rabbis of the day. He also spends a good deal of time recounting the history of relations between Jews and Christians.

So far, so good. But Klinghoffer simply can't resist taking things too far in an effort to counterbalance the pendulum.

It starts slowly in the book: Eg, when it comes to things like pretending that the NT is actually trying to depict ALL Pharisees as "fussy nitpickers" [21] it is simply baseless; the NT in no sense universalizes this portrait of the Pharisees, but rather, as Klinghoffer admits reflects reality, puts this sort of behavior down to only some of them.

By the middle of the book Klinghoffer is charging NT writers with error in "proof texting" but keeping very darned quiet about the fact that the NT writers were doing normal and acceptable exegesis for their contemporaries. By the last third Klinghoffer practically posits conspiracy everywhere, suggesting that Paul was not the person of superior education he claimed to be and perhaps not even a Jew. (He errs on such claims as that Paul could not say he was of Benjamin because the tribal distinctions were "lost" after the Exile; as Bauckham shows in Gospel Women, some still could or did trace a tribal lineage in that day.) He even dismisses "contemporary scholars" and opts for the insulting claim that Paul misrepresented Judaism, which is not an idea supported by Pauline scholarship beyond second-tier objectors like Maccoby.

Klinghoffer is not a scholar but a journalist, and he makes the typical mistakes of the journalist in thinking that he has adequately addressed his subject with as few sources as he has. But there is little sign of knowledge of the broad range of scholarship in his index or bibliography (the only evangelical sources he uses are Michael Brown and the Left Behind series). He tackles the popular works of Michael Brown briefly [203-10]; having not read Brown, I cannot be sure if he even reports his arguments fairly, but it is clear from his one-paragraph treatment of the Trinity [204] that he hasn't even tried to plumb the depths of any serious scholarship.

What is rather clearly happening (perhaps unwittingly) is that Klinghoffer is making illicit use of the real problem of anti-Semitism to give his ill-informed responses a free pass to acceptance. In this case, it's not the thought that counts.