Of all the texts considered required reading in a thorough Jewish education, one major work with Jewish roots is usually missing from everyone's list: the New Testament.
Most Jews shun Christian Scripture. As a result, they can't answer Christians who ask why Jews don't accept Jesus as the Messiah.
Reform Rabbi Michael J. Cook says this "self-imposed ignorance" is dangerous.
At a time when many Christians are embracing the Jewish origins of their faith, holding Passover seders before Easter, Cook says he has taken on the "Herculean task" of convincing Jews they must learn how the Gospels molded Christian attitudes toward Judaism.
"The New Testament is the greatest single external determinant of Jewish history, and deleteriously so in its causing Jews grievous problems," said Cook, who holds the unusual job of New Testament professor at a Jewish seminary, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In a book he plans to publish next year, "Modern Jews Engage the New Testament," he will present an education plan for how Jews can learn enough to answer "why they process it differently from Christians."