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From Donation to Diatribe: How Anti-Jewish Interpretation Cashes Out
Amy-Jill Levine delivered this year's Comparative Theology Lecture. Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences.
In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus says of a poor widow who makes a donation to the Jerusalem Temple: "she has thrown in her whole life." Is the widow exploited by a Jewish system that values money over compassion? Is she a faithful worshiper who reveals the Temple's welcome of rich and poor, male and female? Is she a foreshadowing of Jesus, who will give up his life as a "ransom for many?" The answers depend upon the reader's sensibilities.