A Portable God: The Origin of Judaism and Christianity

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Press: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (October 15, 2007)
Publication Date:2007-10
Author Name:Kohn, Risa Levitt/ Moore, Rebecca


Many Christians and Jews believe that their faiths developed independently from each other, and that their religions are distinct, even antagonistic towards each other. 
A Portable God dramatically departs from the idea that the birth of Judaism and Christianity are two separate, unrelated events.
Judaism and Christianity's origins are not seen as following a linear, chronological process that places the Israelites in the beginning, followed by the Jews, and finally the Christians.
On the contrary, A Portable God shows that both Judaism and Christianity emerge from the same religious tradition_that of ancient Israel_at the same time.
By telling the common story of Jewish and Christian origins, A Portable God shows Jews and Christians as siblings, rather than as parent and child, showing that the similarities between Judaism and Christianity far outweigh their differences, ultimately fostering appreciation for the shared heritage of Judaism and Christianity.

About the Author

Risa Levitt Kohn is professor of Hebrew Bible and Judaism and director of the Jewish Studies Program at San Diego State University. 
She has lectured extensively on the Hebrew Bible, Jewish and Christian Origins, and Judaism.
Rebecca Moore is associate professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University.
She teaches Christianity and New Testament and her research is on Jewish and Christian dialogue, particularly on issues of biblical commentary.
Rebecca Moore's latest book is Voices of Christianity: A Global Introduction.


Religion & Spirituality,Judaism,History,History,World,Religious,Judaism,Sacred Writings

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Comment List (Total:7)

  •     This book is a scholarly, yet readable, look at both Judaism and Christianity. I found it interesting, enlightening, and accessible. Having studied many of the world's religions, I appreciated the authors' fresh perspectives.
  •     Extremely well-written and interesting topic about the common origins of Judaism anc Christianity. Uniquely put together by two female professors who write jointly, not in series, of their expertise, Risa Levitt Kohn and Rebecca Moore are writing essentially a curriculum for their course teachings. They explore the presence of God in the absence of a temple and the question of a Messiah. A good read with a different and fresh perspective.
  •     This book offers insightful, historical and timely information in an age of significant confusion and media misinformation. A must read for anyone interested in learning about the origins of their own or others religions.
  •     Makes clear that the earliest followers of Jesus of Nazareth thought of themselves as still being Jews, albeit with a difference. The charts and tables are excellent. Prof. Kohn and her co-author are really, really smart.
  •     Professor of Hebrew Bible and Judaism Risa Levitt Kohn and associate professor Rebecca Moore present A Portable God: The Origin of Judaism and Christianity, an exploration of Christianity and Judaism as sister religions tracing their lineage back to the common parent of ancient Israelite religion. Written to be accessible to readers of all backgrounds, A Portable God discusses the legacy of the Israelite religion, divine presence as recognized in the absence of the temple, the question of the messiah, and much more. "...successors of ancient Israel use the Torah, the Prophets, and some Writings, such as the Psalms, as their guide to understanding what it means to be Israel. in order for these texts to remain meaningful, communities read them in light of their current experiences and, by doing so, interpret or reinterpret these writings anew. This process is further complicated when a number of different communities share the same texts but have different experiences and different interpretive views. Each community interprets scripture uniquely." A glossary and index round out this welcome and astutely thought-out contribution to modern Judeo-Christian studies and dialogues.
  •     It's no secret that Judaism got a massive makeover in the wake of the Babylon Beat-down of 586 BCE. This book tracks that shift, offering a comparative overview of how different groups within the religion responded to past and then-present situations, sharing equal focus on theological and physical innovations within ritual, practice, and thought.APG manages to maintain a non-biased tone throughout, so readers of any Judeo-Christian faith will learn about their own heritage plus the "other side."A central premise of APG is that post Babylonian Judaism and Christianity are not so much father/child religions but more on the line of a sibling relationship. I found this to be a novel take, and the evidence presented for their case was fairly compelling.Although I knew much that was in this book, I had forgotten a chunk of it in the past few decades, and it was nice to get a refresher. Probably the part that intrigued me most was an exploration into the term "Jew" in its historical use - I was surprised to find this is a very late term and one which is apparently the frequent subject of subjective translation. I also enjoyed the time spent on Talmudic Judaism, a subject I know next to nothing about.All in all, a good job. Personally, I found the book best "sipped": read a chapter, mentally digest the contents for a few days, then crack the spine for the next section. I plan to reread it again, and don't doubt I will get nuances out of it that escaped me the first time.
  •     A Portable God should attract a wide readership. Whichever tradition one claims, misperceptions and half-truths are a part of much religious education. With persuasive clarity and good humor, Moore and Kohn cut through some of these misperceptions. They show how Judaism and Christianity evolved together out of an ancient Israelite tradition. This readable book is a refreshing combination of strong scholarship and engaging, careful thought. It is a pleasure to read.

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