The Council of Christians and Jews, NSW and Rabbi Apple’s “New Testament People. A Rabbi’s Notes”.

December 15, 2016 by  
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Rabbi Raymond Apple’s great desire is for his new book to advance the cause of mutual respect between Christians and Jews.Fifty Jews and Christians attended the launch of Rabbi Raymond Apple’s book “New Testament People. A Rabbi’s Notes” at the Polding Centre in Liverpool Street, hosted by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney under the auspices of the NSW Council of Christians and Jews.

Rabbi Raymond Apple at the book launch

“New Testament People” shows how Jesus and the early Christians can only be understood against a Jewish background. Embedded in the biographical outlines of the characters (listed from Abraham to Zebedee) is the fact that Jesus was a Jew and the two faiths broke with each other in an atmosphere of hostility.

There were four speakers: Dr David Wansbrough, Rev Andrew Sempell from St James, Sydney, Rabbi Benjamin Elton of the Great Synagogue and Rabbi Apple himself, the emeritus rabbi. David Wansbrough, a well-known Sydney and Moscow based artist and poet has beautifully illustrated the book with delicate pen drawings and an artistically painted cover. The faces are particularly expressive and capture the whole range of human emotions. David spent six months researching the first century background of the costumes and customs for the illustrations.

Rev Andrew Sempell said that Rabbi Apple’s book teased out the ambiguity of the New Testament figures. We do not know the full story. He believes that Rabbi Apple has caused us to think differently. It is a moment of ambiguity to speak about a book on New Testament characters written by a rabbi. However, this allows the narrative to ”sit there” and for us to be challenged by it.

Rabbi Ben Elton spoke of the great pioneering teachers from Jews College where Rabbi Apple had studied. These teachers had combined a thorough knowledge of the rabbinic corpus with a real acquaintance and familiarity with the New Testament. Rabbi Apple’s book places him in the long tradition of Jewish New Testament scholarship.

In his concluding comments, Rabbi Apple paid tribute to the late William Szekely, the past President of the ACCJ whose loss is felt by Australian Jews and Christians. He hopes that as many people as possible will obtain the book, which will help to progress the cause of mutual respect.

This report from Marianne Dacy (ACCJ Secretary)


One Response to “The Council of Christians and Jews, NSW and Rabbi Apple’s “New Testament People. A Rabbi’s Notes”.”
  1. Benseon says:

    For more information about Rabbi Raymond Apple’s book, including how to order copies, visit

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