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Separated Siblings
An Evangelical Understanding of Jews and Judaism
John E. Phelan Jr.
Foreword by Rabbi Yehiel Poupko

PAPERBACK; Published: 10/6/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7455-9
Price: $ 27.99
360 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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In the minds of many American evangelicals today, Judaism exists in two places: the pages of the Bible and the modern nation of Israel. In Separated Siblings, John Phelan offers to fill in the gaps of this limited understanding with the larger story of Judaism, including its long history and key facets of Jewish thought and practice. Phelan shows that Judaism is anything but monolithic or unchanging. Readers may be surprised to learn that contemporary Judaism exists in a multiplicity of forms and continues to evolve, as recent changes in scholarly Jewish perspectives on Jesus and Paul attest. 

An evangelical Christian himself, Phelan addresses what other evangelicals are often most curious about, such as Jewish beliefs concerning salvation and eschatology. Nevertheless, Separated Siblings is geared toward understanding rather than Christian apologetics, aiming for an undistorted view of Judaism that is sensitive to the painful history of Christian replacement theology and other forms of anti-Semitism. Readers of this book will emerge with more informed attitudes toward their Jewish brothers and sisters—those in Israel and those across the street.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Rabbi Yehiel Poupko
1. Introducing Judaism
2. God of Abraham
3. God of Moses
4. God of the Commandments
5. Israel
6. God of Prayer
7. God of Righteousness
8. Exile and Restoration
9. Jesus the Jew
10. Paul the Jew
11. The Rabbis
12. The Age of Genius
13. Jews in Early Modernity
14. Emancipation, Reform, and Danger
15. From the Rise of Zionism to the State of Israel
16. Dialogue and Hope

“In this book, Jay Phelan presents Judaism and the Jewish people to evangelical Christians as Judaism and the Jewish people understand themselves. As such, in years to come, this work will come to be seen as a watershed moment that brought about mutual understanding between evangelical Christians and Jews.”
— Rabbi Yehiel Poupko
from the foreword
“Jews and evangelical Christians often pass like ‘ships in the night’ with little understanding of the other. Professor John Phelan, an experienced veteran of serious evangelical-Jewish dialogue, has provided a very timely and readable text with discussion questions and glossary. On most matters of Judaism, the author wisely draws on the perspectives of Jewish scholars, letting them speak for themselves. This approach provides valuable illumination for Christian readers on a variety of relevant issues such as revelation, commandments, prayer, the law, Jesus, Paul, Zionism, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and dialogue. Without acrimony that can plague sibling encounters, Phelan respectfully and effectively conveys his own evangelical commentary with clarity, honesty, and a palpable, irenic spirit. The author helps define the components and complexities of Judaism and some of the major challenges and responses Jews have faced throughout their oft-imperiled history. Phelan has provided a valuable, carefully researched book that explores areas Jews and evangelical Christians have in common and also where they differ. His illuminating work is must reading for those who wish to think more deeply and thoughtfully about why these respective siblings came to separate. But it also reveals how today there are some positive signs each sibling is seeking to listen to the other, shun caricatures, and grow in understanding, mutual respect, and sincere friendship.”
— Marvin R. Wilson
author of Our Father Abraham
“Writing with a devout heart, keen mind, precise prose, spiritual wisdom, and humility, John Phelan has written one of the finest introductions to Judaism and the Jewish people that I know. With his warm embrace of the Jewish story even as he affirms his Christian faith, Phelan offers a model for Christian-Jewish reconciliation, proving that ‘separated siblings’ can indeed be brought closer together. An instant classic that should become a standard reference for Christians—and for Jews too.”
— Yossi Klein Halevi
senior fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute
“In our day when the evil of anti-Semitism is rising, Christians need to know they stand on a Jewish foundation and are part of a Jewish story. Jay Phelan tells that story down to our own time and draws attention to the questions and efforts Jews made to live in alien cultures, particularly regarding theological issues such as the role of the law, particularity, and the land of Israel. In doing so he draws parallels to similar questions and dynamics in the Christian faith. This is a helpful contribution and will assist Jewish-Christian dialogue.”
— Klyne R. Snodgrass
author of Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus
“In a climate of religious and political polarity, John Phelan’s book is a welcome and timely contribution to the evangelical world and beyond. His insights clearly emerge not only from careful scholarship but also from faithful relationships with Jewish brothers and sisters. I learned much reading his book, and I recommend it for all who seek to reflect the handiwork of the creator in the diversity of peoples!”
— Michelle A. Clifton-Soderstrom
North Park Theological Seminary
The Christian Century
“Phelan is perfectly aware of this dimension of Judaism, and he takes note of it at appropriate places throughout his survey. But his primary interest lies elsewhere. He wants believing Christians to stand alongside believing Jews and see themselves as siblings in faith. Shorn of the old disabling sibling rivalry, they can respect and understand their differences and appreciate the distinct ways they both worship and serve the God of Israel. This book is a major step toward that end.”
Christianity Today
“In a day and age when US law enforcement reports more hate crimes against Jews than any other religious group, and when scholars increasingly find that Jesus and the early church were more Jewish than previously thought, Separated Siblings promises to help Christians better understand the Jewish roots of their faith—and why that understanding is so important.”