Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,741,889 articles and books

Christianity in Jewish Terms: A Project to Redefine the Relationship.



The time has come for Jews to learn about Christianity in Jewish terms.

In September of this year 2000, an interdenominational in·ter·de·nom·i·na·tion·al  
adj.
Of or involving different religious denominations.


interdenominational
Adjective

among or involving more than one denomination of the Christian Church

Adj.
 group of Jewish scholars and rabbis made public the fruits of several years of work and two millennia of memories. They published a public statement and an academic book, "Christianity in Jewish Terms, possibly the first effort ever by a formal gathering of Jews to initiate a Jewish theology of Christianity. [1] In this essay, two of the project's editors introduce Cross Currents readers to the purposes, hopes, and struggles that lie behind this initiative.

Christianity in Jewish Terms is a theology offered both about and in response to Christian theologies that themselves arose from within, about, and in response to Judaism. It also recognizes that, since the dawn of Christianity, Jewish theologies have often been a response to Christianity. In the past, these mutual influences have been obscured by a rhetoric of rejection. It is only recently that scholars and theologians have become aware of the almost symbiotic relationship symbiotic relationship (sim´bīot´ik),
n in implantology, that relationship assumed by an implant and the natural teeth to which it has been splinted.
 between the two traditions. This Jewish theology is offered, moreover, in response to efforts by courageous Christians who, in the years since the Shoah, have exposed those aspects of their tradition that helped create Western anti-Semitism and who offered new Christian
For other uses: see New Christian (Swedenborgian).


The term New Christian (cristianos nuevos in Spanish, cristãos novos
 visions that affirm the rightful place of Jews and Judaism in the cosmic order. Our theological project has therefore been dialogic in form, part of an ongoing history of responses to responses; in keeping with that theme, we introduce the project here by illustrating how our editorial group responded and to what we responded, with what effects.

Bleak images before the eyes. We editors work, still, in the shadow of the Shoah and the dominant images out of which this project grew are terrible images. We were all children born into a world of shadows as members of a traumatized people -- and children of parents and grandparents grandparents nplabuelos mpl

grandparents grand nplgrands-parents mpl

grandparents grand npl
 whose memories and images of Christianity were, to say the least, dark.

But there are also more recent, more positive images. We were all educated, in part, in American universities, alongside Christian students and teachers of religion and theology, some of whom became friends and colleagues. And compatriots, too: fellow students of scripture and history and philosophy and ethics. Each of us had Christian colleagues whose concerns overlapped with aspects of our own Jewish pursuits: our concerns, for example, to nurture disciplines of reason as instruments of our religion and to revitalize the role of biblically based studies as sources of ethical thinking. We knew that Jews and Christians took different approaches to Bible studies: our approach was rabbinic rab·bin·i·cal   also rab·bin·ic
adj.
Of, relating to, or characteristic of rabbis.



[From obsolete rabbin, rabbi, from French, from Old French rabain, probably from Aramaic
, theirs was based on patristic pa·tris·tic   also pa·tris·ti·cal
adj.
Of or relating to the fathers of the early Christian church or their writings.



pa·tris
 and/or contemporary Catholic or Reformation models of reading. But each of us found -- to our initial surprise and against the expectations of other Jewish colleagues and kinfolk -- that an expanding number of contemporary Jewish and Christian thinkers adopted analogous strategies for defending their biblical traditions against three common challenges.

One common challenge was the emergence of radically secular, materialist, and relativist rel·a·tiv·ist  
n.
1. Philosophy A proponent of relativism.

2. A physicist who specializes in the theories of relativity.
 tendencies that diminished the influence of any biblical religion in the contemporary West. As our work in the university matured, we each discovered that we shared with a circle of Christian as well as Jewish colleagues some analogous strategies for recovering and defending the status of biblically based modes of reasoning within the academy. [2] For example, we all studied and practiced biblical and post-biblical forms of interpretation as modes of reasoning rather than as some extra-rational form of confession. We held these interpretations to sophisticated standards of criticism, but we also applied the same standards to our university colleagues' studies of philosophy or literature or science. We argued that these studies held no more privileged position in the orders of being and reason and ethics than our religious studies. Even more, we argued that, in this century of terrible destruction in the West, the hegemoni c traditions of modern humanism had to be called to account for their ethical and political failings. And we were no longer willing to be bullied by secular critics who preached suspicion of biblically based ethics while protecting their own vast assumptions from rational -- and moral -- inspection.

But another common challenge was the emergence of radical religious fundamentalisms as reactionary bulwarks against modern secularism sec·u·lar·ism  
n.
1. Religious skepticism or indifference.

2. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.
. We found that our Christian colleagues also shared with us comparable criticisms of the fundamentalist movements within each of our religions. Our shared criticism was that radical secularism and radical religious fundamentalism share a comparable logic of either/or: the dichotomous di·chot·o·mous  
adj.
1. Divided or dividing into two parts or classifications.

2. Characterized by dichotomy.



di·chot
 reasoning that enables individuals to imagine that they each, somehow, conceive of Verb 1. conceive of - form a mental image of something that is not present or that is not the case; "Can you conceive of him as the president?"
envisage, ideate, imagine
 the whole of things on heaven and earth and that, whatever they believe to be true of this whole is true, while its contrary is false. So, God is either this or that and each of us knows which; Judaism is either this or that, and each of us knows which.

Along with our circle of colleagues, we judged this logic to contradict our biblical teachings. This did not mean that we affirmed some contrary position, as if to say that if we do not individually know the whole then there is no knowledge of it and we succumb to some nihilism nihilism (nī`əlĭzəm), theory of revolution popular among Russian extremists until the fall of the czarist government (1917); the theory was given its name by Ivan Turgenev in his novel Fathers and Sons (1861). . We all judged, instead, that this logic of either/or simply fails accurately to represent the way that knowledge works and that we work within traditions of interpretation that represent knowledge appropriately.

There was, however, a third common challenge that gnawed at our traditions from within: the implosion implosion /im·plo·sion/ (im-plo´zhun) see flooding.

im·plo·sion
n.
1.
 of religious faith and confidence that has followed the Shoah. As Eugene Borowitz and Elie Wiesel have written, we Jews did not lose faith in God during the Shoah -- many had lost that faith already after the Enlightenment and emancipation. What we lost was faith in humanity -- faith in the humanism that for so many had replaced our traditional religion. For many Jews, this humanism had already appeared in Jewish dress as if it were our modern Judaism, so that the loss of Jewish humanistic faith after the Shoah did, after all, mean a crisis of religious faith. It is not as if, now mistrusting secularism, Jews rush back to some form of traditional Jewish practice. The crisis of Jewish confidence is that many Jews do not have any strong idea about what belief or knowledge or faith to adopt. This is the kind of crisis that leads to moral and ontological enervation enervation /en·er·va·tion/ (en?er-va´shun)
1. lack of nervous energy.

2. neurectomy.


enervation

1. lack of nervous energy.

2. removal of a nerve or a section of a nerve.
. And this is a terrible problem for us.

While Jews and Christians face this same problem, it challenges us in different ways. For Jews, the Shoah remains a defining event of our collective existence. It means that humanity, Western civilization Noun 1. Western civilization - the modern culture of western Europe and North America; "when Ghandi was asked what he thought of Western civilization he said he thought it would be a good idea"
Western culture
, Christianity, and God all have some explaining to do - that our relationship with all of these begins with questions, challenges, and uncertainties. And this means that, under the surface at least, we do not assume that "existence," or maaseh breshit (the order of creation), is fully ordered, or rational, or even good. For many or perhaps most Jews, a part of the darkness of being is displayed in the questionable behavior of many Christians during the Shoah and in the troubling ways that many forms of Christianity have, for two millennia, defined themselves over against Judaism, as either critics of or substitutes for Judaism.

We know that there are Christians for whom the Shoah appears in no way to be a significant aspect of their religious identities. But we judge that, independently of individual opinions, the Shoah remains an irrepressible aspect of contemporary Christian self-identity. This fact reconnects us to the circle of Christians and Jews, mentioned earlier, within which we carry on our theological work. The Christians in this circle share our judgment that Christianity cannot define itself today without including a serious response to the Shoah and the Christian failings that are implicated im·pli·cate  
tr.v. im·pli·cat·ed, im·pli·cat·ing, im·pli·cates
1. To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly: evidence that implicates others in the plot.

2.
 in it. They have also introduced us to a broader movement of Christian scholars who appear to think about the Shoah as much as we do and who, with great courage, have worked to revise the words of Christian liturgy Noun 1. Christian liturgy - the Christian worship services
liturgy - a rite or body of rites prescribed for public worship

doxology - a hymn or verse in Christian liturgy glorifying God
, teachings, and doctrine that underwrite Christian anti-Judaism and supersessionism.

Christian rescuers. We stand, perhaps, in the third generation of Jewish respondents to the Shoah. The first generation, in the numbing first decade after the Shoah, attended for the most part to collecting testimonies and recounting the horrible facts of atrocity. For the second generation, of which Elie Wiesel's work is prototypical, the time had come to compose fictional but historically realistic accounts of the victims' suffering. While extending the work of the first two generations to new media, primarily cinema, this third generation appears to turn its historical gaze to rescuers (Christian rescuers in particular), as well as to victims and oppressors. In other areas of inquiry, philosophers now ask what lessons of ethics are to be learned from these horrible years; psychologists examine the lives of the children of survivors; humanistic scholars examine the early history of Jewish memorializations of the Shoah. Theologians ask what has happened to our relationship to the one to whom we pray, what h as happened to our covenant, and what do we have to say, now, about Christianity -- the religion of some of our rescuers as well as of our oppressors?

Popularly, "rescuers" refers to those Christians and others honored at Yad Vashem Yad Vashem (יד ושם) — ("Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority") — is Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust established in 1953 through the Memorial Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament.  and elsewhere for helping save Jews during the Shoah. But it also seems appropriate for us today to apply the label "theological rescuers" to our Christian colleagues who seek and have sought to rescue Christianity itself front anti-Jewish or supersessionist tendencies and expressions. Scholars such as James Parkes James Parkes (born 30th November 1980 in Chelmsford) is a rugby union footballer for Leeds Tykes . His usual position is at hooker. , Edward Flannery Edward H. Flannery (1912 – October 19, 1998) was a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, and the author of The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism, first published in 1965.

Fr.
, and Rosemary Radford Ruether Rosemary Radford Ruether (b. 1936) is a renowned feminist scholar and theologian, who is married to the political scientist Herman Ruether. They have three children and reside in California.  have honestly confronted the history of Christian teachings about Jews and Judaism. More recently, A. Roy Eckardt, Norman Beck, Paul van Buren, Clark Williamson, John Pawlikowski and Mary Boys have offered theologies of Christianity, grounded in the traditional Christian sources, in which Jews and Judaism are sources of blessing. These scholars have been part of the Christian Scholars Group that has been meeting for over twenty-five years and has now become a program of the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies Jewish studies also known as Judaic studies is a subject area of study available at many colleges and universities in North America.

Traditionally, Jewish studies was part of the natural practice of Judaism by Jews.
 in Baltimore, which also provided the educational forum in which our project developed. In addition to their scholarly accomplishments, the work of the Christian Scholars Group has been effectively communicated to clergy and lay leaders on the congregational level. Finally, official church bodies, Catholic and Protestant, have publicly repudiated anti-Semitism and the teaching of contempt as inimical inimical,
n a homeopathic remedy whose actions hinder, but do not counteract those of another. Also called
incompatible.
 to authentic Christianity. The recent visit of the pope to Israel--praying at the Kotel and offering a confession A Confession is a short work on questions of religion by Leo Tolstoy. It was first distributed in Russia in 1882.

Consisting of autobiographical notes on the development of the author's belief, A Confession
 at Yad va-Shem--symbolizes the courage of the theological rescuers and the progress that has been made in the last fifty years.

Jews have been happy to assist Christian scholars in this work and to further the efforts, as one Christian colleague puts it, "to clean up our mess." And Jews have been quick both to praise Christian efforts and to point out their weaknesses or shortcomings A shortcoming is a character flaw.

Shortcomings may also be:
  • Shortcomings (SATC episode), an episode of the television series Sex and the City
. To this date, however, few Jews have grappled with the question of how Judaism might respond in its own authentic voice to the profound changes that have taken place in the Christian world.

This is not an indictment of the Jewish community. The wounds of the past are still healing; it is hard to overcome centuries of distrust. Disillusioned dis·il·lu·sion  
tr.v. dis·il·lu·sioned, dis·il·lu·sion·ing, dis·il·lu·sions
To free or deprive of illusion.

n.
1. The act of disenchanting.

2. The condition or fact of being disenchanted.
 with universalism Universalism

Belief in the salvation of all souls. Arising as early as the time of Origen and at various points in Christian history, the concept became an organized movement in North America in the mid-18th century.
 and frightened by the inroads inroads
Noun, pl

make inroads into to start affecting or reducing: my gambling has made great inroads into my savings

inroads npl to make inroads into [+
 of assimilation, Jews are turning away from the world and into their own communities. Furthermore, the recent changes in the Christian world are not universally accepted by all Christians; missionary activity and anti-Jewish rhetoric are still integral to sectors of the Christian community. Nevertheless, while we recognize all the factors that lead to these reactions, we believe that they no longer function as an effective means of responding to today's challenges.

A New Response. We believe that, living as a minority in a still largely Christian America and Christian West, Jews need to learn the languages and beliefs of their neighbors. They need to understand the meaning of what their Christian neighbors are saying: about what modern society should become and about the place of the Jewish people itself in that society. Jews need to learn ways of judging what forms of Christianity are friendly to them and what forms are not, and what forms of Christian belief merit their public support and what forms do not. They need, as well, to acknowledge the efforts of those Christians who have sacrificed aspects of their work and of their lives to combat Christian anti-Judaism and to promote forms of Christian practice that are friendly to Jewish life and belief. They need to know enough about Christian belief that they can explain their own Jewish goals and ideals for society in terms their Christian neighbors will understand.

For the past hundreds of years, when Jews have been taught about Christian belief, it has been primarily in non-Jewish terms. During the years of their residence in Christian Europe, Jews learned about Christianity only through the untranslated terms of a Christianity that separated itself from its Jewish roots. Then, during the years that followed Emancipation, Jews learned about Christianity through the equally non-Jewish terms of secular European thought. This was often the most difficult kind of learning, since secular European thought often treated Christianity as a universal religion, as opposed to the particularity par·tic·u·lar·i·ty  
n. pl. par·tic·u·lar·i·ties
1. The quality or state of being particular rather than general.

2.
 or "tribalism" of Judaism. We believe it is time for Jews to learn about Christianity in Jewish terms: to rediscover the basic categories of rabbinic Judaism rabbinic Judaism

Principal form of Judaism that developed after the fall of the Second Temple of Jerusalem (AD 70). It originated in the teachings of the Pharisees, who emphasized the need for critical interpretation of the Torah.
 and to hear what the basic categories of Christian belief sound like when they are taught in terms of this rabbinic Judaism. This is to hear Christianity in our terms and therefore understand it deeply, perhaps for the first time.

If Christianity is changing in these years after the Holocaust

Main article: The Holocaust
Further information: The Holocaust (responsibility)
The Holocaust became the dark symbol of the 20th century's crimes against humanity.
, Judaism is changing as well. During the past two hundred years, Judaism has suffered from an increasing inner division, separating the realms of science and reason on the hand and faith and tradition on the other. It is as if the Jewish religion itself spoke of an unbridgeable gulf between the human and the divine. The editors of Christianity in Jewish Terms, however, are animated by a different vision. The Judaism we editors encounter in the Bible, Talmud, and our other classic sources has always emphasized the partnership of humanity and God. We have therefore gathered together essays that help us rediscover the power of the classical sources of Judaism to heal the divisions from which we suffer today: between human reason and Jewish faith, as well as between Judaism and Christianity.

There are two main concerns at the heart of our book: how to renew our understanding of Judaism today from out of the sacred texts and, then, how to understand Christianity in terms of this Judaism.

Our first goal is to educate American Jews American Jews, or Jewish Americans, are American citizens or resident aliens who were born into the Jewish community or who have converted to Judaism. The United States is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.  about the religion of their Christian neighbors. American Jews, proud of their knowledge of so many things, know relatively little about the actual theologies of Christianity. Too many Jews understand Christianity only in oppositional terms that grossly oversimplify o·ver·sim·pli·fy  
v. o·ver·sim·pli·fied, o·ver·sim·pli·fy·ing, o·ver·sim·pli·fies

v.tr.
To simplify to the point of causing misrepresentation, misconception, or error.

v.intr.
 or actually distort both traditions. Thus, many Jews believe that original sin original sin, in Christian theology, the sin of Adam, by which all humankind fell from divine grace. Saint Augustine was the fundamental theologian in the formulation of this doctrine, which states that the essentially graceless nature of humanity requires redemption  and incarnation are totally alien to Judaism, just because they are emphasized by Christianity. Such misunderstanding is also displayed in the commonplace Jewish assertion that theology is a uniquely Christian endeavor Christian Endeavor, association in evangelical Protestant Churches for strengthening spiritual life and promoting Christian activities among its members. The first Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor was started in 1881 by Dr. Francis E. . In addition, many Jews -- including those who have no fear of everyday social interaction with Christians -- fear that theological engagement with Christianity will lead to weakened Jewish commitment and intermarriage in·ter·mar·ry  
intr.v. in·ter·mar·ried, in·ter·mar·ry·ing, in·ter·mar·ries
1. To marry a member of another group.

2. To be bound together by the marriages of members.

3.
. We suggest, however, that ignorance of Christianity leaves Jews ignorant of differences between the traditions as well as of differences between either tradition and the prevailing modern culture in which both Jews and Christians participate. We hold that a sound understanding of Christianity is as essential for Jewish survival as it is for mutual understanding among Jews and Christians.

Our second goal is to explore and expand Jewish theology for its own sake (l'shma, as we say). American Jews often know relatively little about the theologies of Judaism as well! We sense, in fact, that secular Jews' resistance to learning about Christianity may, in part, reflect their resistance to their own theological traditions. Our goal is to stimulate renewed interest in the theologies of classical rabbinic Judaism and, then, to extend Jewish theology to include theologies of Christianity.

Our third goal is to contribute to the revitalization of Judaism after the Shoah and in the face of modern secularism and postmodern doubt. We turn away from the modern Jewish tendency to cultural assimilation Not to be confused with Intermarriage.

This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject.
 and reaffirm the enduring voice of the scriptural and rabbinic sources in our daily lives and our intellectual disciplines. But our turn is not antimodern. We appeal to standards of reason that are irreducible irreducible /ir·re·duc·i·ble/ (ir?i-doo´si-b'l) not susceptible to reduction, as a fracture, hernia, or chemical substance.

ir·re·duc·i·ble
adj.
1.
 to the modern/anti-modern dialectic between "reason and faith," or "universality and particularity." Our reasoning is at once hermeneutical, scientific (in the classical sense), text-based, and responsive to the historically lived context of all textual interpretation. Our scriptural and rabbinic hermeneutic her·me·neu·tic   also her·me·neu·ti·cal
adj.
Interpretive; explanatory.



[Greek herm
 is therefore irreducible, as well, to the modern/anti-modern dialectic between a wholly universalized Judaism that is supposed to be identical to some universalized Christianity and a wholly particularized par·tic·u·lar·ize  
v. par·tic·u·lar·ized, par·tic·u·lar·iz·ing, par·tic·u·lar·iz·es

v.tr.
1. To mention, describe, or treat individually; itemize or specify.

2.
 Judaism that is supposed to be incommensurable in·com·men·su·ra·ble  
adj.
1.
a. Impossible to measure or compare.

b. Lacking a common quality on which to make a comparison.

2. Mathematics
a.
 with any elements of Christianity. Our J udaism is neither assimilated to the Western world nor cut off from it. Reconnected to its scriptural and rabbinic roots -- but without losing its critical edge--it is prepared to speak to the world once again: reintroducing ancient teachings that can offer renewed wisdom for a culture that has lost its bearings. And it is prepared to enlist sympathetic Christians--and Muslims--as co-workers in the task of repairing a troubled Western civilization.

Our fourth goal is to acknowledge and encourage the good work of Christian theological rescuers. For Jewish scholars to take Christian theology this seriously is to complement and compliment the courageous work of the Christian scholars who have sought to remove anti-Jewish and supersessionist language from church teachings and practices. This work is two-fold: to let the Christian world know that Jews are aware of and appreciate this work and to let Jews know that this work is being done and needs to be appreciated.

In closing, here are two brief illustrations of the theological voice of Christianity in Jewish Terms.

On God. [3] The name of God refers to the ultimate reason why we would write our book like this. We write as members of a people pulled apart from the world only because of our relationship to the one we call creator of the world (bore olam), merciful father -- or "womb-like father!" (av harachamim Av Harachamim (אב הרחמים "Father [of] mercy" or "Merciful Father") is a Jewish memorial prayer which was written in the late eleventh or early twelfth century, after the destruction of the Ashkenazi communities around the Rhine River ) -- the name YHVH YHWH also YHVH or JHVH or JHWH  
n.
The Hebrew Tetragrammaton representing the name of God.

Noun 1. YHVH - a name for the God of the Old Testament as transliterated from the Hebrew consonants YHVH
 who cannot be spoken, our God (elohenu). While most modern Jews do not often speak openly about their God, this appears to be more a sign of unfamiliarity than of modesty or even of protest against a God who would be God in this awful century. The cross-cultural evidence is that most people in the world feel comfortable talking about and to the one(s) they call "God." It may therefore require more chutzpah chutz·pah also hutz·pah  
n.
Utter nerve; effrontery: "has the chutzpah to claim a lock on God and morality" New York Times.
 for a human being to claim to have no need for such a God than to admit to participating in such an ordinary practice. As for protest against God, throughout Jewish tradition this has been a primary means of prayer.

Christians as well as Jews today may rely on the ordinariness of talking to Noun 1. talking to - a lengthy rebuke; "a good lecture was my father's idea of discipline"; "the teacher gave him a talking to"
lecture, speech

rebuke, reprehension, reprimand, reproof, reproval - an act or expression of criticism and censure; "he had to
 an extra-ordinary God as a shared resource Sharing a peripheral device (disk, printer, etc.) among several users. For example, a file server and laser printer in a LAN are shared resources. Contrast with shared logic.  in the effort to reestablish moral and religious order after the Shoah and after modernity. What, however, about the names of God “Holy name” redirects here. For other uses, see Holy name (disambiguation).

Monotheistic faiths believe that there is and can only be one unique supreme being; polytheism means the belief in several coexisting deities.
 that we do not share? There is another surprising lesson to be learned from ordinariness. It is in everyday religious practice that Jews and Christians may sound most different, since everyday practice is guided by the linguistic traditions of particular communities; and since Babel Babel (bā`bəl) [Heb.,=confused], in the Bible, place where Noah's descendants (who spoke one language) tried to build a tower reaching up to heaven to make a name for themselves.  we have found that social differences are framed by linguistic difference. Trinitarian formulae of prayer are decidedly not the same as rabbinic formulae. Nonetheless, it is also in everyday practice that Jews and Christians behave in most clearly analogous ways: in the general form and consequences of their turning to a creator God who hears prayer and commands moral action. The analogy that divides us on one level also unites us on another; that is one reason that analogical an·a·log·i·cal  
adj.
Of, expressing, composed of, or based on an analogy: the analogical use of a metaphor.



an
 thinking defies the either/or logic that burdens modern culture.

Some Jews, of a more intellectual as well as religious bent, may seek a bridge to understanding what is less ordinary in Christian religious practice, such as philosophic theologies of the mysteries of Trinity. Surprisingly, such Jews may find it most helpful to begin with questions typically asked by Jewish skeptics Jewish skeptics are Jewish individuals (historically, Jewish philosophers) who have held skeptical views on matters of the Jewish religion. In general, these skeptical views regard some or all of the "principals of faith," whatever these may be (see Maimonides, Albo), but  rather than by traditionalists. Imagine, for example, the Jewish skeptic who asks the traditionalist: "How can you claim that God speaks to us through words of scripture, when you admit that you are finite and God is infinite? If God's word is finite, then there would be nothing to distinguish it per se from other finite words. Do you want to claim that God's word is infinite?" Imagine that the traditionalist says, "Yes." That answer alone, however we judge it, offers sufficient entree for Jewish study of Trinitarian speculations. It is not odd for a Jew to conceive of asking this question nor of answering it this way, and this answer leads to the speculation that the word that God speaks and th at mediates between God and us may itself be infinite: a word that is at once "of God," in this sense, and also "of us." This is not Trinitarian speculation, but a Jew who speculates this way can enter into meaningful conversation with a Trinitarian philosophical theologian. And that is what we mean by a "bridge to understanding."

On Israel. [4] Much of the tragedy of the relationship between Jews and Christians can be traced to competing claims to be Israel, God's covenant partner. Is it possible for both Jews and Christians to lay claim to this name in ways that are not exclusionist ex·clu·sion·ist  
n.
One that advocates the exclusion of another or others, as from having or exercising a right or privilege.



ex·clu
? The Jewish understanding of Israel consists of three aspects. First, Jews are Israel because they are the descendants of a common ancestor, Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Gen. 32). Second, Jews as Israel are covenanted to the God of Israel at Mt. Sinai. Finally, Israel is the name of the land which, according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 Jewish tradition, God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel in perpetuity Of endless duration; not subject to termination.

The phrase in perpetuity is often used in the grant of an Easement to a utility company.


in perpetuity adj. forever, as in one's right to keep the profits from the land in perpetuity.
.

The church also claims to be Israel, although its understanding of what that means differs from the Jewish one. Christian tradition Christian traditions are traditions of practice or belief associated with Christianity.

The term has several connected meanings. In terms of belief, traditions are generally stories or history that are or were widely accepted without being part of Christian doctrine.
 speaks of a "new Israel New Israel is a religion that separated itself from a religions sect Old Israel which is type of Christianity in the beginning of the 20th century. It differs from mainstream Christianity in a number of ways. " or a "true Israel" consisting of those who recognize in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ Jesus Christ: see Jesus.

Jesus Christ

40 days after Resurrection, ascended into heaven. [N.T.: Acts 1:1–11]

See : Ascension


Jesus Christ

kind to the poor, forgiving to the sinful. [N.T.
 the continuation of God's covenant that began with Abraham. According to this exclusionist reading, the Jews rejected Jesus, the covenant, and God--and so, in turn, God rejected the Jews and established a new covenant with the church. Christian self-understanding of Israel is not bound to any one nation or nor does it privilege any particular geographic location.

This exclusionist Christian understanding of Israel leaves no possibility for Jews to be a people in covenant with God. In post-Holocaust Christian theology, however, a new understanding of the relationship between God and Israel, God and the church, and the church and Israel is being articulated. Finding scriptural warrant in passages such as Romans 9-11, the new theology argues that God's promises are eternal -- and that, in particular, God's covenant with the Jews continues and, more importantly, informs and enriches the Christian covenant. Does Jewish tradition contain a warrant for acknowledging Christian claims to be in covenant with the God of Israel? While one starting point is the Jewish concept of the Noahide laws, this is not completely satisfactory, since it is largely a negative formulation and does not specifically address the Christian claim to be in covenant with the same God upon whom Israel calls. If we are serious about developing a Jewish theology of Christianity, then we must admit that this move by Christian theologians challenges the Jewish community to find within its scriptural resources a way of affirming Christianity's relationship with the God of Israel that does not compromise Judaism's integrity.

PETER OCHS is Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies at the University of Virginia. He is co-author of "Dabru Emet": a Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity. Recent books are Reviewing the Covenant (with Eugene Borowitz), and Reasoning after Revelation (with Steven Kepnes and Robert Gibbs).

DAVID David, in the Bible
David, d. c.970 B.C., king of ancient Israel (c.1010–970 B.C.), successor of Saul. The Book of First Samuel introduces him as the youngest of eight sons who is anointed king by Samuel to replace Saul, who had been deemed a failure.
 SANDMEL is the Jewish Scholar on the staff of the Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies. He is coordinating National Jewish Scholars Project, a major initiative to promote a new discussion within the Jewish community and between Jews and Christians, the co-editor of Christianity in Jewish Terms, to which he has also contributed an essay.

Notes

(1.) Tikva Frymer-Kensky, David Novak, Peter Ochs, David Sandmel, and Michael Signer, eds., Christianity in Jewish Terms (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2000).

(2.) Often Muslims shared in this circle as well; we attend for now to the Jewish-Christian exchange that defines this particular project.

(3.) This paragraph paraphrases chap. 5 of the book.

(4.) This paragraph paraphrases chap. 7 of the book.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Association for Religion and Intellectual Life
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:SANDMEL, DAVID
Publication:Cross Currents
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Dec 22, 2000
Words:4206
Previous Article:Post-Holocaust Hermeneutics: Scripture, Sacrament, and the Jewish Body of Christ.
Next Article:Decentering Judaism and Christianity: Using Feminist Theory to Construct a Postmodern Jewish-Christian Theology.
Topics:



Related Articles
Uncovering Jewish roots.
Jewish Responses to Jewish-Christian Dialogue: A Look Ahead to the Twenty-First Century.
We need to revise our perfidious views.
Decentering Judaism and Christianity: Using Feminist Theory to Construct a Postmodern Jewish-Christian Theology.
Jewish-Christian Relations in the Postmodern Era.
The world is full of God: the editors interview Rabbi Lawrence Kushner.
Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism: Catholics, Jews and justice.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters