Roots and Branches

A Sourcebook for Understanding the Jewish Roots of Christianity, the Jewishness of Jesus, Replacement Theology, and Anti-Semitism

Roots and Branches is a comprehensive sourcebook focusing on the primary theological issues that concern Christians and Jews. Encyclopedic in scope, this resource text will help students of the Bible understand the innate connection between Judaism and Christianity. It is designed specifically for use in academic, church, and synagogue courses or adult education programs.

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Contact Rabbi Zaslow at to arrange for him to visit your church, synagogue, college, or institution.

The reader will learn:

  • The difference between Hebraic and Western thinking
  • How Judaism understands the remission of sin
  • The ancient sacrificial system and its relevance today
  • The Jewish understanding of suffering and vicarious atonement
  • The difference between the historical Jesus and the theological Jesus
  • How the story of Jesus is related to the story of Isaac in the Torah
  • How the miracles of Jesus parallel the miracles of Elijah and Elisha
  • How Jesusʼ teaching methods are firmly rooted in the Rabbinic tradition
  • The Biblical concepts of messiah and salvation
  • How Judaism understands faith, works, and grace
  • How Jesusʼ teachings and the spiritual practices of Jesus are firmly rooted in the Jewish tradition
  • The theological parallels and differences between Judaism and Christianity
  • The roots of Replacement Theology and Anti-Semitism
  • The fulfillment of prophesy and the final redemption from a Jewish perspective

 In March 2008 Time Magazine cited “Re-Judaizing Jesus” as one of “10 Ideas That are Changing the World.” Rabbi David Zaslow believes that re-Judaizing Jesus can not only strengthen both Christianity and Judaism, but also reduce the millennium-old anti-Semitism based on de-Judaizing Jesus in the first place.

 Of his two decade long project, Rabbi David writes, “This book is a small effort to promote mutual respect and understanding between faiths. The time has come to advance interfaith relations from simple tolerance to a sense of mutual interdependence where members of faith communities can acknowledge how much we have to learn from each other. My teacher, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi calls this higher level of interfaith relations by the term ʼradical ecumenism.ʼ I hope this book contributes to that aim.”

A Review by Dr. Pam Vergun

Having spent countless hours in churches I have been struck by how much more Rabbi David knows about Jesus’ life and teachings than most Christians, including many church leaders. Rabbi David shows how Jesus’ ministry drew from the wealth of Judaism that I have come to appreciate with so much gratitude. Christians will find their understanding of Jesus’ life and teachings grow deeper through this class than then may have ever expected. They will also be able to see more clearly than before their connections to their Jewish sisters and brothers.

For Jews, this class can shine light on the rich heritage that Judaism as a spiritual and daily path can hold for us and can illuminate why there there is so much to love and appreciate within Judaism. It can also clear up misunderstandings for both Jews and Christians who have heard inaccurate and sometimes insensitive teachings about the relationship between the two religions many times over the years.

An example from my own experience: Rabbi David’s research on the interrelationship of Judaism and Christianity allow him to explain how Jesus’ Golden Rule was almost certainly his phrasing of Rabbi Hillel’s statement of the same principal, rather than, as one Rabbi I heard speak said, that Jesus’ Golden Rule was a naive departure from Jewish teachings.

And so, if you are Jewish, or Christian, or neither but interested in understanding more about these two religions (a parent and child) that have shaped much of the world, or just for the purpose of increasing your knowledge in a world that needs a true understanding of its diversity, I urge you to take this class. If this is not possible, I hope you will buy the book…and share what you learn with others.