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Other and BrotherJesus in the 20th-Century Jewish Literary Landscape$
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Neta Stahl

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199760008

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199760008.001.0001

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A New Jew, a New Jesus

A New Jew, a New Jesus

Jesus and Jewish National Culture in the First Half of the Twentieth Century

(p.10) 1 A New Jew, a New Jesus
Other and Brother

Neta Stahl

Oxford University Press

During the first half of the twentieth century, Zionist writers adopted the figure of Jesus not as part of an external and apologetic discourse or as a mediator between Judaism and Christianity, but rather in the context of the new national identity, as a model for the desired New Jew. In the Hebrew literature of the first half of the twentieth century, the figure of Jesus embodies an internal Jewish attempt to redefine Jewish selfhood by reclaiming Jesus for Jewish nationalism and the Zionist project. Zionist writers present Jesus as an ideal type of Jew, one that could serve as a model for the new Jewish national identity, and as an integral and even necessary part of the project of Zionist pioneering and national redemption. This chapter explains why the figure of Jesus was so appealing to these writers, and what literary tools they relied on in their attempts to embrace Jesus as a lost brother, a pioneer, a symbol of a collective suffering and even a real messiah, while still perceiving him as the menacing God of Christianity.

Keywords:   Zionism, Joseph Klausner, Aharon Avraham Kabak, Natan Bistritsky, Hazzaz, Chayim, Moshe Leyb Halpern, Avigdor Ha-me'iri, Abraham Shlonsky, the other, exile

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