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Now Available for Review: Witness at the Cross
Digital copies and a limited
number of hard copies are available for review. All reviews will be
due by February 28.
This is a small, more informal tour, so upon completion of review,
please email the review link to Audra.
Place Yourself as a
Witness at the Cross Dr.
Amy-Jill Levine leads readers in a study
of those present at the crucifixion
(Nashville, Tenn.) – In her latest Bible
study, Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday,
New Testament and Jewish Studies scholar Dr.
Amy-Jill Levine explores the importance of the
various witnesses—human, divine, and from nature—to the death of
Jesus. She leads readers in a study of these figures in both their
historical and literary contexts and shows how they might be
interpreted by and for readers of the Bible today.
Dr. Levine invites readers to experience Holy Friday from the
perspective of those who watched Jesus die:
Simon of Cyrene,
forced to carry Jesus’s cross
Mary, his mother
Disciple from the Gospel of John
Mary Magdalene and
the other women from Galilee
The two men,
usually identified as thieves, crucified with Jesus
The centurion and
Joseph of Arimathea
God and nature
Jews and Romans,
friends and strangers, the powerful and the powerless, the
hopeful and the despairing.
The story of Jesus’s death is not
something we just read: we think about it, and we experience it. As
the author writes, “We hear the taunts of the soldiers, the
priests, and the passersby even as we hear the famous ‘seven last
words’ (there are actually more) from the cross. We taste the gall
held up to Jesus’s lips even as we feel his thirst. We inhale the
fetid smells of sweat, of blood, and of death, and then the hundred
pounds of spice Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea use to provide
Jesus’s body a royal entombment. We touch each other, as did the
Beloved Disciple when he took the mother of Jesus to his home. We feel
the wind blowing in the darkness, and we sense the Holy Spirit.
With the tearing of the Temple curtain, we recognize that the
universe is in mourning. We filter these visions through the
witnesses at the cross. Each saw something different.”
In Witness at the Cross, Levine shows how the
people at the cross each have distinct roles to play. Each Gospel
writer presents a distinct picture of the death of Jesus. Each
portrays different individuals and groups of people at the cross,
each offers different images and dialogues, and so from each,
readers will learn how those meanings and messages cross the
centuries to any who would come to the cross today. Levine’s unique
perspectives both as a Jew and as an historian adds a layer of
insight that readers may not have considered before.
“Each Gospel has a different story to tell. Such distinctions,
which occur throughout the Gospels and not just at this climactic
moment, reveal that the story of Jesus’s death, like that of his
life, was refracted through the different experiences of those whom
Luke calls the ‘eyewitnesses and servants of the word’ (Luke 1:2),”
Levine explains. “The story was also developed as Jesus’s
followers, retelling the events at the cross, understood them
through the Scriptures of Israel and, in particular, Psalm 22.”
Witness at the Cross can be read independently
or used with the companion study resources in a group setting.
Components of the study, each available separately, include a book,
a Leader Guide, and video sessions (with closed captioning). The
Leader Guide includes session outlines for each group meeting with
Scripture, prayer, opening activity, discussion questions,
activity, and closing call to action. The 10-12 minute videos
feature Dr. Levine guiding participants through each chapter. The
video sessions, when combined with the six book chapters, make an
ideal six-week group study. The videos are available on DVD, via
digital download from Cokesbury.com, or streaming through a
subscription to Amplify Media.
Witness at the Cross: A
Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday
“In each chapter of Witness
at the Cross, Levine parses out the Gospel’s witness
accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion and invites readers to be
transformed by this theological symphony of the cross. This
informative, witty, and accessible study provides a welcome
preaching and teaching resource for clergy and laity. Small group
leaders will also appreciate its six-chapter format ideal for a
- Rev. Dr. Deborah Appler, Professor of
Hebrew Bible, Moravian Theological Seminary
“Amy-Jill Levine reminds us that the story of Jesus’s death is
something we do not just read; we are meant to experience it. In Witness
at the Cross, she takes us by the hand and walks with
us through the story, pausing alongside each of the characters to
see and hear and feel how they individually experienced it, how
each was affected by it.
- Larry J. Beasley, Presbytery Leader and
Stated Clerk, Presbytery of Utica
Amy-Jill Levine (“AJ”) is Rabbi
Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor of New Testament and
Jewish Studies at Hartford Seminary and University Professor of New
Testament and Jewish Studies Emerita, Mary Jane Werthan Professor
of Jewish Studies Emerita, and Professor of New Testament Studies
Emerita at Vanderbilt University.
An internationally renowned scholar and teacher, she is the author
of numerous books including Short Stories by Jesus: The EnigmaticParables
of a Controversial Rabbi, Entering
the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week, Light
of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to Advent, Sermon
on the Mount: A Beginner’s Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven,
and The Difficult Words of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to His
Most Perplexing Teachings. Her latest release is Witness
at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday. She is
also the coeditor of the Jewish Annotated New Testament.
Levine is the first Jew to teach New Testament at Rome’s Pontifical
Biblical Institute. In 2021 she was elected to the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences. AJ describes herself as an unorthodox member
of an Orthodox synagogue and a Yankee Jewish feminist who until
2021 taught New Testament in a Christian divinity school in the
buckle of the Bible Belt.
Professor Levine has done more than 500 programs for churches,
clergy groups, and seminaries on the Bible, Christian-Jewish
relations, and Religion, Gender, and Sexuality across the globe.