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4 A Scholarly Journal for Reflection on Ministry
FOCUS O N JEWISH-CHRISTIAN RELATIONS A. Roy Eckardt, Consulting Editor The Relationship of Judaism and Christianity Irving Greenberg Jews and Christians John T. Pawlikowski Post-Holocaust New Testament Scholarship Clark M. Williamson The Jewish " N o " to Jesus and the Christian " Y e s " to Jews J. (Coos) Schoneveld Heschel's Significance for Jewish-Christian Eva Fleischner Homiletical Resources from the Hebrew Bible for Lent Michael Chernick
QUARTERLY REVIEW A Scholarly Journal for Reflection on Ministry A publication of The United Methodist Publishing House Robert K. Feaster, President and Publisher and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry F. Thomas Trotter, General Secretary Editorial Director, Ronald P. Patterson Editor, Charles E. Cole Editorial Board F. Thomas Trotter, Chair Fred B. Craddock Candler School of Theology Keith R. Crim Westminster Press Brita Gill Moderator, Northern California Conference, United Church of Christ Leander Keck Yale Divinity School
Lloyd R. Bailey Duke Divinity School Cornish Rogers School of Theology at Claremont Roy I. Sano Bishop, Denver Area, United Methodist Church John L. Topolewski Christ United Methodist Church Mountaintop, Pennsylvania
Quarterly Review (ISSN 0270-9287) provides continuing education resources for professional ministers in The United Methodist Church and other churches. A scholarly journal for reflection on ministry, Quarterly Review seeks to encourage discussion and debate on matters critical to the practice of ministry. Falling within the purview of the journal are articles and reviews on biblical, theological, ethical, and ecclesiastical questions; homiletics, pastoral counseling, church education, sacred music, worship, evangelism, mission, and church management; ecumenical issues; cultural and social issues where their salience to the practice of ministry can be demonstrated; and the general ministry of Christians, as part of the church's understanding of its nature and mission. Articles for consideration are welcome from lay and professional ministers, United Methodists, and others, and should be mailed to the Editor, Quarterly Review, Box 871, Nashville, Tennessee 37202. Manuscripts should be in English and typed double-spaced, and the original and two duplicates should be submitted. No sermons, poems, or devotional material are accepted. Queries are welcome. A style sheet is available on request. Payment is by fee, depending on edited length. Quarterly Review is published four times a year, in March, June, September, and December, by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and The United Methodist Publishing House. Editorial Offices are at 100119th Avenue, South, Box 871, Nashville, TN 37202. Circulation and business offices are at 201 Eighth Avenue South, Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202. Second-class postage paid at Nashville, Tennessee. Quarterly Review is available at a basic subscription price of $15 for one year, $26 for two years, and $33 for three years. Subscriptions may be obtained by sending a money order or check to the Business Manager, Quarterly Review, Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202. Postmaster: Address changes should be sent to The United Methodist Publishing House, Box 801, Nashville, T N 37202. Subscribers wishing to notify publisher of their change of address should write to the Business Manager, Quarterly Review, Box 801, Nashville, T N 37202. An index is printed in the winter issue of each year (number 5 for 1981 only; number 4 thereafter). Quarterly Review: A Scholarly Journal for Reflection on Ministry Winter, 1984 Copyright © 1984 by The United Methodist Publishing House and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry
VOL. 4, NO. 4
Focus on Jewish-Christian Relations editor 3 A. Roy Eckardt, consulting Editorial: W h e n a n E d i t o r N e e d s a n E d i t o r T h e R e l a t i o n s h i p of J u d a i s m a n d Christianity; T o w a r d a N e w Organic Model Irving Greenberg 4
Jews and Christians: T h e C o n t e m p o r a r y Dialogue John T. Pawlikowski Scholarship 37 23
The N e w Testament Reconsidered: Recent Post-Holocaust Clark M. Williamson
T h e J e w i s h " N o " to J e s u s a n d the C h r i s t i a n " Y e s " to J e w s /. (Coos) Schotteveld for J e w i s h - C h r i s t i a n Relations 64 52
H e s c h e l ' s Significance Eva Fleischner
H o m i l e t i c a l R e s o u r c e s from the H e b r e w Bible for L e n t Michael Chemick 82 103
I n d e x to V o l u m e F o u r
W h e n an Editor Needs an Editor
W h e n you look for a consulting editor, you normally seek an expert in the field. W e had n o trouble identifying such an authoritative figure w h e n we decided to publish an issue with a focus o n Jewish-Christian relations. A. Roy Eckardt has published an enormous number of books, articles, and reviews on this theme over a period of several decades, and we were fortunate that h e agreed to serve as our consulting editor for this winter. Roy recently retired from the Department of Religion Studies at Lehigh University, but he continues to research and write. A m o n g his m a n y works are Elder and Younger Brothers: The Encounter of Jews and Christians (Schocken, 1973), Your People, My People: The Meeting of Jews and Christians (Quadrangle/ N e w York Times, 1974), and as co-author with his wife, Alice, Encounter with Israel: A Challenge to Conscience (Association Press/Follett, 1970) and Long Night's Journey into Day: Life and Faith after the Holocaust (Wayne State, 1982). O f course Roy has done more than write and teach, and his participation in seminars, symposia, and various interfaith discussions on this continent and abroad would take another page or two to describe. For those w h o would like to continue to reflect on Jewish-Christian studies after reading parts of this issue of QR, an excellent resource is an annotated bibliography Roy prepared for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion in March, 1981, " R e c e n t Literature on ChristianJewish Relations." As a consulting editor, Roy has helped us locate writers w h o are knowledgeable and can write perceptively on sensitive and critical issues. He has offered his own criticisms and suggestions on the manuscripts and has used a variety of creative devices to see that writers produced w h e n they were supposed to and in the way we asked them to. W e h o p e readers will appreciate the " u n s e e n h a n d " b e h i n d this special edition, and if they do they should direct their gratitude to R o y , w h o s e counsel and work w e greatly admire.
THE RELATIONSHIP OF JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY: TOWARD A NEW ORGANIC MODEL
" T h i s paper is an attempt to ask Jew9 and J e w i s h thinkers to focus not only on Christian failure and the Christian tradition o f teaching o f contempt . . . [but] whether it is p o s s i b l e for J u d a i s m to have a more affirmative model of Christianity/' This paper does not focus o n the Holocaust but in part it is a response to the Holocaust. In the light of the Holocaust, the willingness to confront, to criticize, and to correct is the ultimate test of the validity and the vitality of faith. O n e might say that that religion which is most able to correct itself is the one that will prove itself to b e most true. T h o s e w h o claim they have the whole truth and nothing but the truth and there is nothing to correct thereby prove h o w false and h o w ineffective their religious viewpoint is. T h e most powerful proof of the vitality and the ongoing relevance of Christianity is the work of people like Alice and Roy Eckardt w h o s e fundamental critique of Christianity is surely o n e of the most sustained and devastating moral analyses in its history. But their work, and that of others like t h e m (Paul van Buren, Rosemary Ruether, Eva Fleischner) is both healing and affirming of Christianity. In that spirit, this paper is an attempt to ask J e w s and Jewish thinkers to focus not only on Christian failure and the Christian tradition of teaching of contempt. " T h e Holocaust cannot be used for triumphalism. Its moral challenge must also b e applied to J e w s . " (See my "Cloud of S m o k e , Pillar of Fire: Judaism, Christianity, and Modernity after the Holocaust," in Eva Fleischner, Auschwitz: Beginning of a New Era? [New York: K T A V , 1977], pp. 20-22.) This paper asks whether it is possible for Judaism to have a more
Irving Greenberg is an Orthodox rabbi and is president of the National Jewish Resource Center, an organization devoted to leadership education, policy guidance, and intra-Jewish, ecumenical spiritual renewal. Rabbi Greenberg has written extensively on Judaism and Christianity after the Holocaust. 4
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affirmative model of Christianity, o n e that appreciates Christian spiritual life in all its manifest power. If for n o other reason, let this be done because if w e take the other's spiritual life less seriously, we run the great risk of taking the biological life less seriously, too. It was the Christian theological negativism and stereotyping of Judaism that created that moral trap into which all too m a n y Christians fell during the Holocaust. At the least, it encouraged relative indifference to the fate of the other. In the light of the Holocaust, J e w s have to ask themselves: Is there anything in Jewish tradition or the Jewish model of other religions like Christianity that could lead to some indifference to the fate of others? After the Holocaust, a model of the relationship of Judaism and Christianity ideally should enable one to affirm the fullness of the faith-claims of the other, not just offer tolerance. It is important to avoid a kind of affirmation of the other that is patronizing. Take Martin Buber, our master and teacher. In Buber's book Two Types of Faith, and other writings on Christianity, one is fascinated b y the incredible openness (which profoundly affected m e ) . Martin Buber speaks of " m y brother J e s u s . " (The daring and the power of that statement! I could never use that term.) Yet in Buber's approach, Jesus' true religion is the subterranean religion which runs through Judaism also. T h e Christianity that Buber loves turns out to be suspiciously like the Judaism that Buber loves. That religion, theologically misled b y Paul, turns into the Christianity w e all know. N o w Buber in his o w n way was a remarkable pioneer—but is that ultimately the message?—that Christianity is a wonderful religion w h e n it fits (our) Jewish ideas? Should not Jewish theology seek to be open to Christian self-understanding, including the remarkable, unbelievable claim of Resurrection, Incarnation, etc.? Can o n e , as a J e w , take these claims seriously without giving u p one's Jewishness? U p to now, the agreed response is that if you take such claims seriously, there is nothing further to be as a J e w . This is w h y J e w s who are serious J e w s have rejected these claims in the past. This paper seeks to articulate a model that would allow for the Christian possibility without yielding the firm conviction that Judaism is a covenant faith, true and valid in history. I believe that Judaism has never been superseded, and that its work is yet unfinished. W e need a model that would allow both sides to respect the full nature of the other in all its faith-claims. ( O n e must recognize that there is a whole Orange of Christian self-understanding and a whole range of Jewish self-understanding, from the most secular to the most fundamental5
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ist. Ideally, a model should allow room for that range of model, and still not exclude the fullness of the faith-claims of the other.) Last, but not least, the model is willing to affirm the profound inner relationship b e t w e e n the two, and to recognize and admit h o w much closer they are to each other than either has b e e n able to say, without denying the other. U p to n o w , the affirmation that the two religions are profoundly close was made by Christians w h o claimed that Christianity grows organically out of Judaism in the course of superseding Judaism. T o the extent that there have been Christians w h o have affirmed Judaism as valid, they have had (to a certain extent) to overemphasize Jewish differentiation in order to make space for Jewish existence. T o the extent that there were Jews willing to see Christianity as a valid religion, they also tended to stress the differences, in order to protect Judaism. This model will seek to reduce the gaps without denying the authenticity of the other.
THE SCRIPTURAL MODEL
Judaism is a religion of redemption. T h e fundamental teaching of Judaism is that because this world is rooted in an infinite source of life and goodness, which w e call God, life within it is growing, increasing, perfecting. Life is developing to b e c o m e more and more like God. T h e ultimate achievement so far is the h u m a n being. T h e h u m a n being is in the image of G o d , so m u c h like G o d that one can literally use the imagery of a human-like G o d . In the case of the human, life is of infinite value, equal and unique. Judaism claims that this process will continue until life's fullest possibilities will be realized, until life finally overcomes death. If that is not incredible enough, Judaism makes a further claim. T h e world that we live in, in the realm of the history of h u m a n s , is where this perfection will c o m e . There is another realm—rabbinic Judaism affirms a world to c o m e . This perfection of life will be achieved in the realm which the five senses can see and measure, in the realm of history. Sickness will be overcome; poverty and oppression will be overcome; death will be overcome. T h e political, economic, and social structures will be restructured, to support and nurture the perfection of life. Finally, Judaism said that if G o d is good and God is a source of infinite life and infinite goodness, no one should have died in the first place. To perfect the world, it would not be enough to overcome death prospectively. Judaism goes on to say there will be resurrection. All
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those w h o have died will come to life. T h e n all will k n o w that everything about G o d is true. Faith is not a fairy tale. If all this does not h a p p e n , then the whole Torah is an illusion, a fable. This affirmation is part of the courage and daring of Judaism. It set the test of its truth not in another world which cannot be measured, not in a world from which there are n o travelers w h o have returned with firsthand reports. Judaism insisted that redemption is going to h a p p e n in this world, where you can see it, measure it—and if it does not happen, then the religion is revealed to be an illusion. This vision of Judaism was set in motion by a great event in Jewish history—the Exodus. Exodus points to a future goal in that it promises that not only Jews will reach the Promised L a n d of freedom and equality but all people will. B y its o w n definition, then, Judaism is a religion that is o p e n to further events in history. O r to put it another way, Judaism has built into its o w n self-understanding that it must generate future messianic m o m e n t s . A n d the central revealed metaphor that guides this process from the beginning is covenant. T h e covenant is b e t w e e n G o d and Israel. G o d could do it alone. But the achievement of total perfection of the world will take place as the result of the efforts of both partners. Although the promised perfection s e e m s b e y o n d h u m a n capacity, the two partners between t h e m can achieve it. In theory, the divine respects h u m a n free will. Therefore this final perfection cannot simply b e given b y God or brought on by h u m a n effort. T h e covenant makes possible the process of getting to the final redemption. T h e covenant is Israel's c o m m i t m e n t not to stop short of perfection. It is the pledge to testify, to teach the world, to witness to other h u m a n beings. A n d the covenant also implies that w e can answer the question: W h a t do I do n o w ? T h e answer is: step by step. Use an army to reduce the possibility of war. If o n e has to fight, kill as few people as possible. A commitment to achieve perfection step by step m e a n s that the model of perfection itself unfolds in history. T o summarize: Judaism is a religion of redemption and perfection, rooted in history, operating through a covenant, illuminated by history, open to further events of revelation which will clarify its message, with an implied pedagogical model of the relationship of G o d and h u m a n s in which God will help the h u m a n s unfold, but will not force them to be free.
JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY
In light of all this, to be a faithful J e w is to look forward to further events of revelation and redemption beyond the Exodus—events that
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will illuminate the covenantal way a n d guide it forward. W h e n should one most look forward to those kinds of events? In time of great despair a n d setbacks. That is the time to anticipate the messiah. T o those committed to the triumph of life, goodness, and justice, the m o m e n t of great injustice is the time to look forward even more to messianic redemption. W h e n evil reigns supreme, the true balance a n d direction of history has b e e n disturbed. T h e only event that can correct such imbalance is a major redemptive move on the other side. T h e logic of covenantal redemption explains w h y Judaism, in fact, generated Christianity. O n e might argue that generating Christianity is a necessary sign of Judaism's vitality. It is a sign that the dynamics of the covenant are operating. If Judaism did not generate messianic expectations, did not generate a messiah, it would be a sign that it was dead. As long as J e w r y is generating messiahs, it is faithful to its o w n
As long as Jewry is generating messiahs, it is faithful to its own calling.
calling. If Judaism does not generate messiahs—at least until the final messiah does c o m e and straighten out the whole world—then there is something wrong. (In writing about the Holocaust, I once wrote that I was ashamed of the fact that, in this generation, there was not at least a false messiah. A false messiah would s h o w that the Jews were truly living up to their vocation, which is to hope and expect the messiah, particularly in such tragic times. If o n e h o p e s for the messiah and a false o n e shows up—well, it is regrettable but at least o n e has tried. Not to generate even a false messiah is a sign that people are complacent; they have either lost h o p e or do not care.) T h e later event which illuminates the earlier event and guides us to its fulfillment is the messianic m o m e n t . This is w h y I believe the early Christians were faithful Jews w h e n they recognized Jesus. Like good, faithful J e w s , they were looking for the messiah, particularly in a different century. Lo and behold! T h e y recognized his arrival. That is a very faithful response of a Jew—to recognize that the messiah has arrived, and to respond. T h e early Christians were equally faithful, a n d equally acting out of loyalty to their Jewish understanding, w h e n they responded to a
RELATIONSHIP O F JUDAISM A N D CHRISTIANITY
further event, o n e they had not anticipated at all; namely, the messiah's death. Caution: W h e n e v e r o n e responds to a n e w event, believing this event illuminates the original event, there is a risk. O n the o n e hand, the response s h o w s faithfulness. O n the other hand, there are great dangers. O n e risk is to give your trust and faith to a false messiah—the n e w arrival may turn out not to be the true messiah. T h e r e is a further risk—the n e w developments m a y lead to a transformation of the original ideas. T h e n , out of trying to be faithful to the n e w experience, o n e m a y find oneself in some way leaving behind or betraying the original commitments. W h i c h then are true: the old ideas or the new ones? O r both? T h e answer, of course, is that there is n o guarantee in advance. Wait until it is all clarified and it will be too late. O n e must respond right n o w . Faith response is a w a g e r of one's o w n life, out o f faithfulness. Consider the Jewish Sitz im Leben of those faithful Jewish Christians responding to the messiah. Here w a s this m a n w h o m they experienced as the messiah. He was shockingly killed. It was a terrible, degrading death. Equally shocking was the belief the messiah w a s supposed to bring the final perfection: peace, dignity, prosperity, independence. Instead o f doing all this, this messiah died miserably, according to some reports, even in despair and self-denial. N o w , as faithful Jews (they still were not Christians) h o w ought they to have responded to his death? Should they have said, " H e was a false m e s s i a h " ? Should they have betrayed the original insight that this person was the messiah? O r should they have thought, " M a y b e this death is another event that illuminates the m e a n i n g of the previous e v e n t " ? M a y b e the Crucifixion is not a refutation of Jesus' being the messiah, but rather a clarification of the nature of redemption. U p to n o w , they thought that the messiah would straighten out the political and economic world, because that was the mental image of what it meant to perfect the world. But if I as an early Christian k n e w this was the messiah but h e did not bring worldly liberation, I had an alternative to yielding faith. T h e alternative was to say that the death is teaching a lesson. T h e lesson is that true redemption is not in this world. T h e kingdom of G o d is within you. Faith leads to a world of spiritual perfection: even though I a m a slave, I a m free in Christ. T h e Christians responded faithfully but later history suggests t h e y m a d e a hermeneutical error. T o put it another way: In retrospect, it was a mistake to say that the explanation of the Crucifixion is that
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the redemption is b e y o n d history. That j u d g m e n t generated a fundamental continuing problem of Christianity. In its faithfulness to its vision of Christ come—pitted against the shocking reality of a world of suffering a n d evil and poverty—Christianity is continually tempted to answer: " T h i s vale of tears is not the real world. T h e world of suffering a n d oppression does not matter. It is trivial or secondary. T h e world that really counts is the spiritual world. That is where you can b e born again—and free right n o w . " But this finding betrays the fundamental claim of Judaism that life itself and not only after life will be perfected. As they struggled with the m e a n i n g of their faithfulness to Jesus, Christians went on to make a second error, w h e n the destruction of the temple c a m e a generation later. But this second error was again the outgrowth of a response of faith to a great historical event—an other paradigmatic, authentic act of a religious J e w . In the light of the destruction, Jewish and Gentile Christians concluded that they had misunderstood. T h e y thought that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Jewish promises within the bounds of Jewish life and hope going o n as before. But if the J e w s do not accept Jesus, even after their temple is destroyed, is this not a proof that G o d has in fact rejected them? A n d using the s a m e hermeneutical model, would not Gentile Christians conclude that the acceptance of Christianity in the world proves that Jesus came not to continue the old and the original covenant, but rather to bring a n e w covenant to humanity? A n d since the Jews failed to understand, have they not forfeited the promise? In short, the
In short, the classic Christian interpretation that Chris tianity has superseded Judaism is an understandable hermeneutic, rooted in Jewish models of interpretation and capable of being derived out of faithfulness to past Jewish modes of thinking.
classic Christian interpretation that Christianity has superseded Judaism is an understandable hermeneutic, rooted in Jewish models of interpretation and capable of being derived out of faithfulness to past J e w i s h m o d e s of thinking. T h e paradox is that although Jewish thinking is involved in arriving at this conclusion, the
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conclusion itself was devastating for future Jewish-Christian rela tions. In effect, the response to the destruction created a model of relationship in which the mere existence of the J e w s is a problem for Christianity. T h e obvious temptation—continually given in to—was to solve the problem by getting rid of the Jews. There were and are three classic Christian ways of removing the Jewish problem. O n e was to insist that the J e w s were not really alive: Judaism was a fossilized religion; J e w s are children of the devil; they are dead, but the devil is pumping them u p , etc. This is the way o f caricature and dismissal; of stereotypes of legalism and sp&t Judentum. In taking this tack, Christians did not deal with the possibility that God was keeping the J e w s alive because G o d wanted their testimony to go on until the world itself was redeemed. T h e second way was to convert J e w s to b e c o m e Christians so there would be no problem. However, by and large, the J e w s declined to yield their witness. T h e third way, if the other two did not work, was to kill the Jews—then there was no contradiction between Jewish existence and Christianity anymore. T h e supersessionist interpretation continually tempted Christianity into being neither the gospel of love it wanted to b e , nor the outgrowth of Judaism seeking to reach out and realize Israel's messianic dream that it could have been. Christianity was continually led to b e c o m e an otherworldly, triumphalist religion that put its own mother down; it spit into the well from which it drank. T h e rabbis and the J e w s had a similar problem from the other side. After all, they sensed the profound continuity from Judaism into Christianity. T h e hermeneutical language of H e b r e w Scriptures makes many of the same claims. W h a t m a d e it worse, or more difficult, was that Christianity triumphed. Christianity became a world religion, far greater in its numbers than Judaism. H o w can one account for that, if o n e believes that Judaism is true and the messiah has not come yet? In Jewish terms, could there be more clear proof of Christian claims than the fact that it triumphed in history? The Jews, too, handled the problem b y a series of responses. First, the Christian victory was not really a victory: " L o o k h o w evil the world is even after Jesus' career." This is the bedrock of Jewish response to Christianity but it did not deal with the possibility that the nature of redemption was being redefined—or widened—or partially realized. S e c o n d , Christianity is neither a gospel of love nor G o d ' s message, because look h o w cruel Christians are to J e w s . Far from bringing
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redemption, Christianity has brought a whole n e w s u m of evil a n d cruelty into the world. That is the best proof Christianity is not a true religion. Third, Christians claim to supersede Jewry. Christians themselves say that if Christianity is true faith, then Judaism d o e s not exist or has no right to exist. But Jewry k n o w s that it is alive and vital. Obviously, Christianity must b e false. If your truth m e a n s that I a m not valid, but I k n o w m y o w n validity, then y o u must b e false. T h e fourth Jewish response was that Christianity triumphed a m o n g the Gentiles. N o J e w would fall for that fairy tale of a virgin mother. If you were pregnant from s o m e o n e else, what would y o u tell your husband? This is fundamentally h o w medieval J e w s handled Christianity. J o s e p h was a fool e n o u g h to believe. With o n e J e w , you never can tell. But the J e w s as a w h o l e would not b u y it. That a whole world would buy it proves that Gentile heads can be filled with anything. This understanding bred contempt for Gentiles rather than appreciation for their joining in the work of achieving total redemption, i.e., both worldly and spiritual. O f course, the contempt was earned and reinforced by Christian mistreatment of Jews. Just as Christians were tempted to step out of history because the messiah h a d c o m e already and the ongoing suffering was a problem, so the answer was that history did not matter. J e w s were also tempted to step out of history because in that arena, Christianity h a d won. T o which the Jewish a n s w e r w a s that what h a p p e n e d in history was n o w unimportant. Christianity had triumphed—temporarily. W h e n the final redemption c o m e s , all these h u g e statues a n d towers will c o m e crashing d o w n , a n d humanity will k n o w the truth. Jewry, this small, pitiful people which h a d n o political clout h a s really been the heart o f the world. All the rest has b e e n just a big, flashy show, u p front—temporarily. Therefore, Judaism also stepped out of history to wait for its final redemption. T h e o n e thing the rabbis would give Christianity, then, is that Jesus was a messiah—a false messiah. This negative view conceded very little. Jesus was not the only false messiah in Jewish history; he w a s neither the first n o r the last. In the seventeenth century, Shabbetai Tsvi, one of the great false messiahs of Jewish history, swept the J e w i s h world. T h e J e w s are still looking for a messiah. S o , if a few J e w s followed Jesus, it proved nothing. T h e rabbis concluded that Christianity was an alien growth, developed b y those w h o followed a false messiah. T h e rabbis perhaps erred here. Understandably, they did not do
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greater justice to Jesus b e c a u s e they were surrounded b y an enemy (i.e., Christians) one h u n d r e d times larger than Jewry, aggressively proselytizing and persecuting the J e w s in the n a m e of J e s u s ' claims.
Out of defensiveness, the rabbis confused a "failed" messiah (which is what Jesus was) and a false messiah.
Out of defensiveness, the rabbis confused a "failed" messiah (which is w h a t Jesus was) a n d a false messiah. A false messiah is o n e w h o has the w r o n g values: o n e w h o would teach that death will triumph, that people should oppress each other, that G o d hates us, or that sin and crime is the proper way. In the eighteenth century, a putative Jewish messiah n a m e d Jacob Frank e n d e d u p teaching his people that out of sin comes redemption; therefore, one must sin. Such is a false messiah. A failed messiah is o n e w h o has the right values, upholds the covenant, but w h o did not attain the final goal. In the first century, 1 3 0 - 1 3 5 , Bar K o c h b a , the great Jewish freedom fighter w h o led a revolt against R o m e that temporarily drove R o m e out of Jerusalem, sought to free the land. H e was hailed by Rabbi Akiva and m a n y great rabbis as the messiah. His rebellion was crushed; it did not bring that final step of redemption. It turned out that h e was a failed messiah. But Akiva did not repudiate him. Since w h e n is worldly success a criterion of ultimate validity in Judaism? Calling J e s u s a failed messiah is in itself a term of irony. In the Jewish tradition, failure is a most ambiguous term. Abraham was a "failure." He dreamt of converting the whole world to Judaism. He e n d e d up barely having one child carrying o n the tradition. Even that child he almost lost. M o s e s was a "failure." He dreamt of taking the slaves, making t h e m into a free people and bringing t h e m to the Promised Land. T h e y were hopeless slaves; they died slaves in the desert; neither they nor M o s e s ever reached the Promised L a n d . Jeremiah was a "failure." He tried to convince the Jewish people that the temple would be destroyed unless they stopped their morally and politically w r o n g policies; h e tried to convince them to b e ethically responsible, to free their slaves, not to fight Babylonia. N o one listened. All these "failures" are at the heart of divine and Jewish
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achievements. This concept of a "failed" but true messiah is found in a rabbinic tradition of the Messiah b e n Joseph. T h e Messiah b e n David (son of David) is the o n e w h o brings the final restoration. In the Messiah ben J o s e p h idea, you have a messiah w h o c o m e s and fails, indeed is put to death, but this messiah paves the w a y for the final redemption. In fact, Christians also sensed that Jesus did not exhaust the achievements of the final messiah. Despite Christian claims that Jesus was a total success (the proof being that redemption has b e e n achieved; it is of the otherworldly kind) even Christians spoke of a S e c o n d Coming. T h e concept of S e c o n d Coming, in a way, is a tacit admission that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. O n e might argue then that both sides claimed—and denied—more than was necessary in order to protect their o w n truth against the counterclaims of the other. Both sides were too close to recognize each other, and too close and too conflicted to c o m e to grips with each other's existence as valid in its o w n right. Both faiths stepped out of history to protect their o w n position—Christians denying anything revelatory further can h a p p e n in history because Christ is the final revelation; J e w s denying any further revelation in history because Judaism is a covenant that cannot b e revoked. There was even more theological fallout to these moves. Religion tended to abandon the world to Caesar or to m a m m o n . Religion all too often ended u p as an opiate of the m a s s e s , i.e., promising people fulfillment in the great by-and-by if they accept suffering and the world as it is. In a way, each group was defining the sacred out of history into another realm. Placing the sacred b e y o n d history protected faith from refutation and disappointment but the cost was high. It is not surprising then that each faith tended to generate m o v e m e n t s from time to time that sought to redress the balance or that sought to bring the "missing" part of redemption into being. W h a t was defined as " m i s s i n g " grew out of the interaction of tradition, local culture, and the historical condition of the group. Since the concept o f redemption can be p u s h e d toward a spiritual realization or a worldly o n e , both religions developed parallel responses along a spectrum of positions within each faith. T h e s e developments further complicated the relations b e t w e e n the two faiths even as they ensured even greater overlap and parallelism b e t w e e n them. In retrospect, a key m o m e n t of division c a m e in the differential response of the two groups to the destruction of the S e c o n d Temple.
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T h e Christians reacted to the destruction as the best proof that the Jews had forfeited their covenant. If the main vehicle and channel of Jewish relationship to God has been cut off a n d destroyed, is this not decisive proof that G o d has rejected Jews? In fact, the Jewish Christians left Jerusalem before the final destruction, thus, as the J e w s saw it, abandoning the Jewish people. Christians assumed that Jewry had n o future and went off to make their o w n religion, their o w n faith, their o w n h o m e , their o w n future. T h e Christians were wrong. Judaism did not disappear, the Jews did not disintegrate. The rabbis encountered a crisis equal to the early Christians' experience of the Crucifixion, i.e., being cut off from the channel of revelation and connection to God, with the question gnawing at their faith: W h y did evil triumph in this world? T h e same questions that Christians raised, Jews understood, too. Does the destruction mean that the Jews are finished? Does it mean the covenant is finished? The rabbis responded with faith in the covenant and trust in God and the goal. T h e rabbis answered, as the prophets before them, that the destruction was punishment for sins, and therefore a mark of divine concern—not rejection. The most fundamental insight of the rabbis was: W h y did God not vanquish the Romans, even as God had destroyed the Egyptians? The rabbis concluded that G o d had "pulled back"—but not to abandon Jews and not to withdraw from this world because of some weakening of concern. Instead of splitting the Red Sea again, God was calling the people of Israel to participate more fully in the covenant. Instead of winning the war for the Jews, God was instructing the Jews to participate in redemption themselves. The Jews failed to do so adequately. They engaged in civil war and fought each other instead of the Romans. Since they had timed and conducted their rebellion wrongly, the Jewish failure was the Jewish failure, not God's rejection. The lesson of the destruction was not that God had abandoned Israel, but that God was deliberately hiding in order to evoke a greater response, a greater participation in the covenantal way. This " h i d i n g " can be seen as a kind of "secularization" process. In the temple, the manifest G o d s h o w e d overwhelming power. In the old temple, G o d was so manifest that holiness was especially " c o n c e n t r a t e d " in Jerusalem. If one w e n t into the temple without the proper purification ritual, it was like walking into a nuclear reactor without shielding: one would inescapably die. T h e synagogue is a place one can enter with milder preparation and far less risk. T h e divine is present but its power is " s h i e l d e d . "
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In " h i d i n g , " divine was calling on Israel to discern the divine, which was hidden but present everywhere. T h e manifest G o d is visible in Jerusalem. T h e hidden G o d can b e found everywhere. O n e need not literally go to Jerusalem to pray. O n e can pray anywhere in the world. T h e synagogue, w h i c h was a secondary institution before the destruction, b e c a m e a central institution afterward. In the temple, G o d spoke, either directly, or through the breastplate, or through the prophet. T h e synagogue is the place you go to w h e n G o d n o longer speaks to you. T h e deepest paradox of the rabbis' teaching was that the more G o d is hidden, the more G o d is present. T h e difference is that in the good old days o n e did not have to look—the divine illumination lit up the world. N o w , one must look. If o n e looks more deeply, o n e will see G o d everywhere. But to see G o d everywhere, o n e must understand. T h e key to religious understanding is learning. T h e Jewish people, in biblical times an ignorant peasantry, awed by sacramental, revelatory experiences in the temple, were trained b y the rabbis to learn and study. N o w that G o d n o longer speaks directly, h o w would o n e know what God wants? T h e a n s w e r is to go to the synagogue; there o n e does not s e e G o d visibly, but one prays and asks G o d for guidance. G o ask a rabbi: " W h a t does G o d want from m e ? " and the rabbi answers, " I do not have direct access. I will study the record of God's past revelation. I will study the precedents for the situation and give you m y best j u d g m e n t as to what G o d wants right n o w . " Note that the h u m a n agent takes a m u c h more active part in discerning God's will but the answer is m u c h less certain at the end of the process. W h e n e v e r o n e asks a question, rabbis disagree. W h e n there is h u m a n participation, there is disagreement but both views are valid. In the triumph o f the rabbis, there w a s an incredible transformation of Judaism. T h e manifest, sacramental religion of the Bible was succeeded by the internalized, participatory, more " l a i c " faith of the rabbinic period. Indeed, the rabbis came to the conclusion that they had lived through events comparable almost to a reacceptance of the covenant. E v e n as Christians responded to their great religious experiences by proclaiming its record to b e a N e w Covenant, Jews responded to theirs by affirming a renewal of the covenant. In short, to reverse a classic Christian explanation of the relationship of Judaism and Christianity, I would argue that both Judaism and Christianity are outgrowths of and continuous with the biblical covenant; that indeed Christianity is closer to the biblical world, but not in the triumphalist way that Christianity has always
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claimed. Rather, Christianity is a commentary on the original Exodus, in which the later event—the Christ event—is a manifest, "biblically" miraculous event. G o d b e c o m e s incarnate and self-validating through miracles. Obviously, m a n y J e w s will argue that closing the biblically portrayed gap between the h u m a n and the divine, between the real and the ideal, b y Incarnation, is idolatrous or at least against the grain of the biblical way. But even if Incarnation is contradictory to some biblical principles, the model itself is operating out of classic biblical modes—the need to achieve redemption, the desire to close the gap b e t w e e n the h u m a n and divine which includes divine initiatives, etc. T h u s one can argue that Incarnation is improbable and violative of other given biblical principles or that it is unnecessary in light of the continuing career of the Jewish people. But o n e can hardly rule out the option totally, particularly if it was intended for Gentiles and not intended for Jews. This approach grants Christianity legitimate roots in the biblical, but also locks it into a biblical m o d e of theological action. By contrast, Judaism went into a second stage, continuous but developed out of the biblical mode. In this stage, G o d is more hidden, Judaism is more worldly. In this stage, the h u m a n matures and the covenantal model leads to greater responsibility for h u m a n beings. I personally consider the rabbinic to be a more mature m o d e of religion. However, I would also affirm that the sacramental mode (Christian ity) is most appropriate for Gentiles. This is the first step of Gentile covenantal relationship with G o d . J e w s were in the same mode in their first stage, also. T h e choice of this mode bespeaks the divine pedagogy of love which approaches people w h e r e they are and, only after they have grown into the covenant, leads t h e m to n e w levels of relationship. Nor does my analysis foreclose the possibility that sacramental Christianity is in fact a higher form of biblical religion, i.e., o n e in which G o d is even more manifest and present. N . B . : T h e foregoing model of the relationship o f Judaism and Christianity to each other and to biblical faith is offered with great diffidence. T h e statement that Christianity is closer to the biblical m o d e can be misused to reassert the old Christian claim that Christianity is the true outgrowth of the biblical covenant and that Judaism is cut off from its roots. Moreover, the model opens great vistas of Christian legitimacy in Jewish eyes without any guarantee that the ongoing Christian denial of Jewish validity will b e stopped. M y affirmations, then, may feed Christian triumphalism and supersessionism. I acknowledge the risk but I think it is worth risk to
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overcome the dismissals and divisiveness which w e a k e n the role of both religions. I turn to Christians in trust and love and depend on them to prevent triumphalist abuses. Failure to prevent would only prove that Christianity is not a valid hermeneutic on the biblical covenant. It would suggest that the s u m of w o e brought into the world by Christianity will go o n and on, undermining its claim to be a legitimate major step forward on the road to redemption. By the s a m e token, m a n y Christians will find the concept that G o d called Jewry to a n e w level of relationship in the covenant a denial of their o w n belief in Christ as the ultimate event. I do not underestimate the challenge in giving up the m o n o p o l y claims or in recognizing Judaism as a form of independently valid relationship to G o d . Yet, this model offers the affirmation of the fullest possibilities of Christ: from G o d Incarnate to prophet or messiah or teacher—freed at least of the incubus of hatred and monopolistic claims of owning G o d . For this model to work, J e w s as well as Christians will have to have faith in the sufficiency of G o d ' s capacity to offer love enough for everyone and that the Lord w h o is the Makom/Place, w h o is "the ground of all existence" has m a n y messengers.
IN A N E W E R A : A F T E R M O D E R N I T Y A N D AFTER HOLOCAUST AND REBIRTH OF ISRAEL
T h e history which both religions denied in order to claim their own absolute validity c a m e b a c k to h a u n t t h e m . In the modern period, the revolt of h u m a n s against oppression, suffering, and inequality led to an e n o r m o u s growth of secularism a n d rejection of religion. Both Christianity and Judaism lost serious ground to revolt in the name of the very goal they were pledged to achieve in the first place. A n d both faiths were forced back into history b y the overwhelming weight of m o d e r n culture a n d scholarship which continually dug at their claimed foundations, i.e., transcendent extrahistorical truth. Modern scholarship insisted that the denial of history is false. Revelation is in history. T o deny that, o n e must ignore or contradict archeology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, history, which is to say, to b e j u d g e d to be false, nonfactual, by the standards of modern culture. Reluctantly but inexorably, both religions have b e e n forced to confront their o w n historicity. A n event of great historical magnitude has n o w gone beyond modernity in pushing faith back into the maelstrom of history. In the Holocaust, J e w s discovered they h a d n o choice but to go back into
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history. If they did not have power, they would be dead. T h e only way to prevent a recurrence was for Jews to go to their land, establish a state and protect themselves, to take responsibility so that the covenant people could be kept alive. In this generation, the Jewish people—secular as well as religious—took responsibility for its fate, and for the fate of the divine covenant with Jewry. This is the meaning, not always recognized, of the re-establishment of the state of Israel. Christians also have b e e n forced back into history b y the impact of this event. T h o s e faithful Christians realized that the evil portrait of Judaism, the w h o l e attempt to assure Christian triumphalism, had b e c o m e a source of the teaching of contempt and had convicted Christianity or implicated it in a genocide to which it was indifferent or silent. T h e Holocaust forced Jews and Christians to see that the attempt to protect faith against history was an error and that both religions can have n o credibility in a world in which evil can totally triumph. I have argued elsewhere that the true lesson of the Crucifixion h a d b e e n misunderstood b y Christians because of their past triumphalism. In the light of the Holocaust, one would argue that the true lesson of the Crucifixion is that if G o d in person came down on earth in h u m a n flesh and was put o n the cross and crucified, then G o d would be broken. G o d would be so exhausted b y the agony that G o d would end up losing faith, and saying, " M y G o d , m y G o d , w h y have you forsaken m e ? " If G o d could not survive the cross, then surely no h u m a n can b e expected to. So the overwhelming call for both religions is to stop the Crucifixion, not to glorify it. Just as Jews, in response, took u p arms a n d took u p the power of the state, so Christians are called simultaneously to purge themselves of the hatred that made t h e m indifferent to others, and to take up the responsibility of working in the world to bring perfection. This is the c o m m o n challenge of b o t h faiths; they can ill afford to go o n focusing on each other as the e n e m y . There is another possible implication. Destruction of the temple m e a n t that G o d was more hidden. Therefore, o n e had to look for G o d in the more " s e c u l a r " area. Living after the Holocaust, the greatest destruction of all time in Jewish history, o n e would have to say that G o d is even more hidden. Therefore, the sacred is even more present in every "secular" area. Building a better world, freeing the slaves, curing sickness, responsibility for the kind o f economic perfection that is n e e d e d to make this a world of true h u m a n dignity, all these activities pose as secular. But in the profoundest sort of way these
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activities are where G o d is most present. W h e n G o d is most hidden, G o d is present everywhere. If w h e n G o d was hidden after the destruction of the temple, one could find G o d in the synagogue, then w h e n God is hidden after Auschwitz, o n e must find G o d in the street, in the hospital, in the bar. A n d that responsibility o f holy secularity is the responsibility of all h u m a n beings. Similarly, apply the rabbis' analysis of w h y G o d did not stop the R o m a n s to the question of w h y G o d did not stop the Holocaust.The question is not: W h e r e was G o d during the Holocaust? G o d was where G o d should have b e e n during the Holocaust. G o d was with God's people—suffering, starving, being gassed a n d burnt alive. W h e r e else would God b e , w h e n G o d ' s people are being treated that way?
The question is not: Where was God during the Holocaust? . . . God was with God's people—suffering, starving, being gassed and burnt alive.
T h e real question is: W h a t was G o d ' s message w h e n G o d did n o t . stop the Holocaust? G o d is calling h u m a n s to take full responsibility for the achievement of the covenant. It is their obligation to take arms against evil a n d to stop it. T h e implication of this model is that Judaism is entering a third stage, or at least a n e w level of covenantal development. This is the ultimate logic o f covenant: If G o d wants h u m a n s to grow to a final perfection, then the ultimate logic of covenant is for h u m a n s to take full responsibility. This does not m e a n the h u m a n arrogance that dismisses G o d ; the h u m a n arrogance that says more h u m a n power is automatically good. "Covenantal c o m m i t m e n t " implies the humility of knowing that the h u m a n is not G o d . T h e h u m a n is like G o d but is ultimately called b y G o d to be the partner. This implies the humility of recognizing that o n e is a creature as well as a creator. Using this covenantal understanding, o n e can perceive G o d as the Presence everywhere—suffering, sharing, participating, calling. But trust in G o d or awareness of G o d is necessary but not sufficient for living out faith. T h e awareness moderates the use of power; trust curbs power ethically. B u t the theological c o n s e q u e n c e is that without taking power, without getting involved in history, o n e is religiously irresponsible. T o pray to G o d as a substitute for taking power is blasphemous.
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T h e n e w h u m a n responsibility level implies that the events of our lifetime are revelatory. Therefore, o n e has to incorporate those events into religion a n d into our understanding. If w e are to be true partners with G o d , and if w e have full responsibility, then w e are morally responsible for our o w n traditions. If there is anything in our o w n traditions that d e m e a n s , or denies, or degrades somebody else, then o n e cannot answer: it is the W o r d of G o d a n d so be it. O n e must answer: it is m y responsibility. G o d has given m e a call to take responsibility. Even if that m e a n s o n e must argue with God or confront G o d , that also is responsibility. If, indeed, G o d said that only a male can stand in for G o d , then s o m e o n e w h o is faithful to G o d would have to argue with God: "It is not right—woman is also your creature, in your i m a g e . " If G o d declared the Jews blind and hateful, to b e treated as pariahs, then o n e must confront G o d a n d call G o d back to the universal love which G o d has revealed to humanity. This is a time of major transformation in which the past experiences o n the road to perfection are reinterpreted in light of the events of our lifetime for b o t h religions. I believe w e are living in an age of the J e w i s h re-acceptance of the covenant. T h e re-creation of Israel is the classic covenantal symbol. If you want to k n o w if there is a G o d in the world and is there still h o p e , if you want to k n o w w h e t h e r there is still a promise of redemption—the Bible says o n e goes back to Israel and m a k e s the streets of Jerusalem resound with the laughter o f children a n d the sounds of bride and groom dancing. That is what is happening in Jerusalem right n o w . This is true notwithstanding all the political, economic, a n d moral flaws of the n e w earthly Jerusalem. T h e flaws, the tragic conflicts with Arabs, the difficulties, all these are part of the fundamental proof that here w e have the hidden Presence. This m o m e n t of revelation is fully human; this m o m e n t of redemption is h u m a n l y fully responsible in the presence of G o d . O n e might suggest that the Holocaust has its primary impact o n Judaism. Nevertheless, as a Jewish theologian, I suggest that Christianity also cannot be u n t o u c h e d b y the event. At the least, I believe that Christianity will have to enter its second stage. If w e follow the rabbis' model, this stage will be marked b y greater "worldliness" in holiness. T h e role of the laity would shift from being relatively passive observers in a sacramental religion to full (or fuller) participation. In this stage, Christianity would make the m o v e from being out of history to taking power, i.e., taking part in the struggle to exercise power to advance redemption. T h e religious message would be not accepting inequality but demanding its correction. T h e
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m o v e m e n t is toward learning and understanding as against hierarchy and mystery. Christians—as Jews—will recover the true role of Israel/Jacob w h o struggles with G o d a n d with people, for the sake of G o d and of humanity. Unless this shift takes place, those Christians w h o seek to correct Christianity vis-^-vis Judaism will be blocked by the fact that within the N e w T e s t a m e n t itself are hateful images of J e w s . Therefore, h u m a n s must take full responsibility—not out of arrogance, not out of idolatry. It must be done without making G o d into the convenient o n e w h o says w h a t o n e wants to hear. O u t of the fullest responsibility to its covenant partner, Christianity can undergo the renewal which I believe it must undertake. T h e unfinished agenda of the Jewish-Christian dialogue is the recognition o f the profound interrelationship b e t w e e n both. Each faith c o m m u n i t y experiencing the love of G o d a n d the chosenness of G o d was tempted into saying: I a m the only o n e chosen. T h e r e was a h u m a n failure to see that there is e n o u g h love in G o d to choose again and again a n d again. Both faiths in renewal m a y yet apply this insight not just to each other but to religions not yet worked into this dialogue. H u m a n s are called in this generation to renew the covenant—a renewal which will d e m a n d o p e n n e s s to each other, learning from each other, and a respect for the distinctiveness of the ongoing validity of each other. S u c h o p e n n e s s puts n o religious claim b e y o n d possibility but places the completion of total redemption at the center of the agenda. Judaism as a religion of redemption believes that in ages of great destruction, o n e must s u m m o n u p an even greater response of life a n d of re-creation. Nothing less than a messianic m o m e n t could possibly begin to correct the balance of the world after Auschwitz. This is a generation called to an overwhelming renewal of life, a renewal built o n such love a n d such p o w e r that it would truly restore the image of G o d to every h u m a n being in the world.
JEWS AND CHRISTIANS: THE CONTEMPORARY DIALOGUE
JOHN T. PAWLIKOWSKI
T h e age o f proselytizing is over; the age o f dialogue has b e g u n b e t w e e n J e w s and Christians. A Jewish leader in the contemporary interreligious dialogue, Rabbi Henry Siegman of the American Jewish Congress, once termed the church-synagogue relationship "asymmetrical." What he meant was that Jews and Christians frequently come to mutual sharing today with different goals and different histories. This needs to be understood by both sides if the dialogue is to be meaningfully sustained. J e w s , as a minority, more often than not look to the dialogue as a way of ensuring the security of the people Israel throughout the world. Eradication of the vestiges of classical anti-Semitism from Christian education a n d liturgy naturally b e c o m e s a prime compo n e n t of this goal. Generally speaking, spiritual and theological enrichment has not b e e n very high on the Jewish agenda. Christians on the other h a n d are usually led to the dialogue from a twofold motivation. First, there is the genuine desire to overcome the brutal legacy of Christian anti-Semitism which, while not the sole instigating cause of Naziism, certainly was its indispensable seedbed. Allied to this goal is the desire to improve concrete relations b e t w e e n church a n d synagogue today, in part to forge coalitions on other joint social objectives. But just as vital is the realization that a proper understanding of Judaism—biblical, S e c o n d Temple, and postbiblical—is absolutely crucial to the full articulation of the basic Christian message.
John T. Pawlikowski, O.S.M., is professor of theology at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. His books include The Challenge of the Holocaust for Christian Theology (1978) and Christ in the Light of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue (1982). Hispanic readers will be interested in his article on the Jewish roots of Christianity and their implication for dialogue, "Nuestras Raices Judias," available from the author. Pawlikowski has conducted workshops in business ethics for corporate officials, has been a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Conference on energy questions, and has been involved in politics and ethical questions in Poland, Northern Ireland, and South Africa. 23
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A m o n g those Christians who have been touched by the dialogue with Jews and the Jewish tradition there exists a growing conviction that a subtle Marcionism still resides in the churches. This anti-Jewish disease not only harms relations with Jews but blocks the church from genuine engagement with the world. T h e latter point has been emphasized, albeit indirectly, in the insistence of several prominent liberation theologians that the liberating spirit of the Exodus covenantal tradition must become central in present-day Christian faith expression. Authentic renewal in the church is dependent on a recovery of the Jewish context of its origins. Judaism stood at the heart of Jesus' spirituality and that of the early church. Judaism was not merely perceived as prelude, much less foil, as Christians have so often maintained subsequently. S o even if the Jewish response to actual dialogue might b e slow at times and places (at least partially understandable given the history of Christian anti-Semitism) Christians still have every reason to engage in a thorough study of the Jewish tradition past and present for the sake of their o w n religious integrity. In the following pages w e will explore the issues from the church's side in the dialogue, both in terms of improved Christian-Jewish relations a n d the e n h a n c e d understanding of Christianity itself through a greater appreciation of its Jewish roots. T h e r e are, of course, issues that the Jewish community must face for honest encounter with Christians. But before Christians p u s h the Jewish community too hard on s o m e o f these, w e need to c o m e to grips with the agenda o n our side. W e must never forget that there has b e e n a tremendous imbalance in our relationship over the centuries. T h o u g h this fact should not prevent Christians from making justified critiques of Jewish stances o n s o m e issues, our historical " o p p r e s s o r " status relative to the Jewish people does place u p o n us the burden of starting the reconciliation process as a demonstration of our sincerity a n d conversion. T h e first issue that deserves our attention is in fact one of the oldest—the Crucifixion story. Throughout the centuries the accounts of J e s u s ' death served as a source of deep conflict b e t w e e n the communities. J e w s , a s s u m e d by Christians to b e responsible for J e s u s ' death, were frequently persecuted as "Christ-killers." Vatican II and numerous Protestant denominations have laid to rest this historic deicide charge against the Jews which m o d e r n biblical scholarship has s h o w n to b e baseless. But this change at the official teaching level has not e n d e d all the problems connected with the narration of Christ's death. O n a popular level m a n y believing m e m b e r s of the church
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remain profoundly tainted in their outlook on the Jewish people b y this fable. Popular culture with its Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell and with its myriad passion plays tends to reinforce the stereotype of Jewish collective responsibility for J e s u s ' death that has been so traditional in the churches. O v e r and above removing the negative aspects of the classic depiction of the Crucifixion story it is important for people in the church to begin to recognize its potential for unifying J e w s and Christians. T h e Lutheran ethicist Franklin S h e r m a n captured this
Many Christians still see Jesus as standing alone against the authorities, but in actual fact many other Jews also opposed the Romans and the oppressive priestly elite of the Jerusalem Temple.
point well s o m e years ago w h e n he wrote, " T h e symbol of the agonizing G o d is the Cross of Christ. It is tragic that this symbol should have b e c o m e a symbol of division between J e w s and Christians, for the reality to which it points is a Jewish reality as well, the reality o f suffering and m a r t y r d o m " (Worldview, September, 1974, p. 29). Until this more positive side of the Crucifixion story relative to Judaism begins to e m e r g e in Christian consciousness the anti-Semitic interpretation long associated with it will not be finally excised from the church. In relating the story of J e s u s ' death the Christian churches need to begin stressing that the religious ideals which Jesus preached, and which he tried to implement in the social structures that were part of his milieu, w e r e shared by the most creative and forward-looking forces in the Judaism of the period. It was this preaching and action that brought Jesus to Calvary. Most Christians still look u p o n Jesus as standing alone in his challenge to the authorities, as in conflict with the entire Jewish population of the period. In actual fact Jesus and his followers stood in concert with a significant part of the Jewish community in opposing the R o m a n s and the oppressive priestly elite of the Jerusalem T e m p l e . In a real way his death bore witness to the same ideals proclaimed by other rabbis.
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T h e Jewish historian Ellis Rivkin has brought out as well as anyone the connections b e t w e e n J e s u s and Judaism relative to the Crucifix ion. He insists that for a proper understanding of Jesus' Crucifixion w e need to replace the question who crucified him with the question what crucified him. As Rivkin interprets the events, Jesus died a victim of R o m a n imperial policy. His death was ordered by the type of political regime which throughout history has eliminated those w h o have stood u p for h u m a n freedom, insight, and a n e w way of understanding h u m a n interrelationships. T h o s e J e w s w h o might have collaborated wth the R o m a n s in J e s u s ' execution deserve to be c o n d e m n e d in Rivkin's view. T h e Jewish masses, however, were greatly oppressed u n d e r the R o m a n colonial government, so much so that they would undertake an outright revolt against its tyrannical authority less than thirty years later. Hence, rather than serving as
The time has come to eliminate the term "Old Testament" from the Christian vocabulary about the Bible and to use instead the term "Hebrew Scriptures."
J e s u s ' executioners, the majority of the Jewish population, insists Rivkin, saw in his Crucifixion "their o w n plight of helplessness, humiliation and subjection." Another important element in the restoration of the Jewish context of Christianity is a deeper appreciation within the church of the first part of our Bible—the H e b r e w Scriptures. T o o often Christians have simply looked u p o n the so-called Old T e s t a m e n t as a prelude to the spiritual insights found in the N e w Testament. W e need to increase our consciousness of the Hebrew Scriptures as a source of ongoing religious m e a n i n g for us in their o w n right, and not merely as a backdrop for the teaching of Jesus. It is helpful here to recall that for Jesus and his apostles there was n o " O l d " Testament. T h e y viewed the H e b r e w Bible as "the Scriptures," as standing at the core of their religious identity. This is an attitude contemporary Christianity needs to recapture. Contemporary Christian spirituality and preaching remain peripherally influenced at best b y the Hebrew Scriptures. T h e time has c o m e to eliminate the term " O l d T e s t a m e n t " from the Christian vocabulary about the Bible. T h o u g h admittedly the word old can connote " r e v e r e n c e " or "long-standing experience," used in reference to the first part of the Bible it tends to create an attitude that
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these pre-Christian books are inferior a n d outdated in their religious outlook w h e n compared with passages of the N e w Testament. In such a context the H e b r e w Scriptures at best appear as a foreword to the fullness of faith found in the Gospels and Epistles and at worst as works motivated by legalism a n d spiritual shallowness which Christians can ignore without in any w a y impoverishing their spirituality. Continued use of the term " O l d T e s t a m e n t " tends to keep Christians from the realization that the H e b r e w Scriptures contain rich spiritual insights vital in their o w n right. It likewise continues to give credence to the discredited contrast b e t w e e n Christianity as a religion of love with Judaism as a faith perspective marked by cold legalism. Willingness on the part of the church to forego use o f the term " O l d T e s t a m e n t " would serve as a demonstration of good will in the dialogue. Such a deliberate adjustment of language would also manifest in a powerful w a y a fundamental shift in the church's theological outlook vis-^-vis Judaism. It would mark a significant m o v e away from the traditionally negative approach, with its stress on invalidity a n d outdatedness, toward the clear affirmation of the continuing vitality of the Jewish people's faith perspective. As m u c h as the n e w Christian interest in the H e b r e w Scriptures is to be applauded a n d hopefully increased, it also represents a danger to an adequate understanding of Judaism within the church. Christians may fall into the trap of thinking that the only valid and living form of Judaism is that found in the Hebrew Scriptures. This can easily
The period 150 B.C.E. to C.E. 50 was not altogether sterile religiously and gave rise to many new, creative groups, including the Pharisees.
develop into an attitude that sees postbiblical Jewish religious expression as totally shallow and decadent. This is far from the historical situation. Central to avoiding this dangerous trap is a renewed appreciation of growth during the S e c o n d Temple period in Judaism. Most Christians remain unaware of a gap in the Bible of approximately two centuries. T h e last book of the H e b r e w Scrip tures—the S e c o n d Book of Maccabees—dates from around 150 B.CE, A n d even if w e include the W i s d o m literature written in Greek around
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90 B.c.E. (and not part o f the Jewish or Protestant canon), much more than a hundred years passed until the appearance of the initial Pauline letters around C.E. 5 0 . T h e usual Christian attitude has b e e n that this was a very sterile period in Judaism in which people had lost touch with the soul of the Jewish religious tradition represented by the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Psalms. A n e m p t y legalism dominated J e w i s h faith at this time a n d h e n c e m a n y Jews were h u n g r y for the n e w spiritual insights offered b y the early church—so ran the classic stereotype. A s a result of a growing body of Christian and Jewish scholarship on this historical period, w e n o w know that such a picture of a sterile, legalistic Judaism in the S e c o n d Temple period, or what Christians sometimes term the "intertestamental period," is far from accurate. True, s o m e segments of Judaism had fallen into such a state. But n e w creative J e w i s h groups emerged on the scene to counter this regressive tendency. A n d it was these innovative forms of Judaism that m o s t directly influenced the teaching of Jesus and the structures of early Christianity. A m o n g these n e w innovative groups the Pharisees were the most prominent. T h e mention of the term " P h a r i s e e " typically conjures u p a m o n g Christians images of fierce opposition to Jesus, of harsh legalism, of shallow piety. T h e Pharisees s e e m to most churchpeople to b e representatives of everything J e s u s c o n d e m n e d . This under standing of the Pharisees, however, symbolizes the general ignorance of S e c o n d T e m p l e Judaism in the church. Fortunately an increasing n u m b e r o f biblical scholars a n d historians h a v e b e g u n to question this Christian bias. The Pharisees sought to make the Torah c o m e alive in every Jew by adapting its commandments to changing life patterns in Judaism. Contemporary research has shown that the Pharisees were n o strangers to the deepest meaning of the law. It n o w appears likely that Jesus attacked only certain groups within the Pharisee movement, not the movement as a whole. A n d even in these controversies their differences did not obliterate the similarity of their basic position on what it meant to be a religious person. In large measure Jesus' battle with "the Pharisees" needs to be understood as an "in-house" struggle. As with most scholarly questions about the ancient period, there is far from full agreement a m o n g present-day researchers about all aspects o f the Pharisee m o v e m e n t . H e n c e s o m e caution is necessary in reaching conclusions about Pharisaism itself a n d its relationships to Jesus and the early church. But running through the various viewpoints are s o m e trends which include the following.
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Central to the Pharisee challenge to the established form of Judaism after the rebuilding of the Second Temple stood a n e w outlook o n the relationship between G o d and the h u m a n person. It was o n e marked by a notion of a far more personal and intimate divine-human link than previous expression of Judaism could conceive. This n e w perception represented so fundamental a change in religious consciousness that the Pharisees felt obligated to replace the n a m e s for G o d found in the Hebrew Scriptures with ones more expressive of the n e w union b e t w e e n G o d and the h u m a n family which they had uncovered. A m o n g the principal n a m e s they applied to G o d was " F a t h e r . " While this term has definite limitations in our era because of its inability to express fully the femininity of G o d , in its setting it spoke not of gender superiority but of a heightened sense of the profoundity of G o d ' s link to each individual person. This n e w sense of divine-human intimacy ultimately undercut the basis of the intermediary/hereditary system o f religious elitism which prevailed in the older Sadducean temple/priesthood concept of Jewish religion, up till then the dominant form of Judaism. As the Pharisees saw it, all m e n and w o m e n , n o matter what their social status or bloodline, had such standing in the sight of G o d that they could relate to G o d on a personal basis without further need to use the temple priests as intermediaries. T h e prominent Jewish scholar on Phari saism, Jacob Neusner, has written the following about the ultimate implications of this aspect of the m o v e m e n t in his volume From Politics To Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism (Prentice-Hall, 1973): " T h e Pharisees thus arrogated to themselves—and to all Jews equally—the status of Temple priests, and performed actions restricted to priests on account of that status. T h e table of every J e w in his h o m e was seen as being like the table of the Lord in the Jerusalem Temple. The c o m m a n d m e n t , ' Y o u shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy people,' was taken literally: everyone is a priest, everyone must keep the priestly l a w s . " The consciousness transformation regarding the God-human relationship led the Pharisees to undertake a major overhaul of the liturgical, ministerial, and institutional life of S e c o n d T e m p l e Judaism and, in so doing, lay some of the groundwork for the early Christian church. Picking u p the mantle of the prophets, the Pharisees hoped to translate prophetic ideals into the daily lives of the Jewish people of their time. A m o n g the revolutionary changes brought about by the Pharisees 29
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was the replacement of the temple as the central religious institution in Jewish life with a n e w organizing center called the synagogue.
Among the contributions of the Pharisees were the development of the synagogue and the growth of the role of the rabbi.
Frequently temple and synagogue are employed as synonyms. This regrettably has the effect of blurring the profound differences in their basic conception. T h e temple was seen primarily as the house of God, the synagogue as the house of the people of God. T h e distinction was crucial. T h e temple served chiefly as a locale for cult and sacrifice. T h e synagogue, as developed by Pharisaism, was intended to go far beyond this goal. It w a s designed to address the total needs of the community—prayer, study, justice. T h e second innovative feature of the Pharisee revolution was the growth of the role of the rabbi w h o gradually replaced the temple priest as the central religious figure in Judaism. T h e rabbi's task was to interpret and, more importantly, to specify the religious obligations incumbent u p o n a believing J e w . H e was neither prophet nor priest. A n y layman could b e c o m e a rabbi regardless o f his birth. T h e rabbinic role was an acquired not an inherited o n e in Second T e m p l e Judaism. It w a s based o n the strength of a person's service to the community. T h e crucial dimension of the rabbinate that needs careful scrutiny is the fact that the rabbi was not a cultic figure. His role was one of instruction and interpretation. W h a t is especially significant about the rabbinate is its noncultic status. A person w h o s e primary mission consisted in offering specific interpretations with respect to the religious and social problems of the day gradually replaced the temple priest as the principal h u m a n symbol and representative of Jewish religious commitment. A n e w appreciation of the synagogue and the rabbinate as developed b y the Pharisees will provide a sound basis for discussions about lay ministry and about such movements as the "basic c o m m u n i t i e s " springing u p in Latin America and elsewhere. It will also aid Christian self-understanding in other central areas such as eucharistic theology, the theological meaning of tradition, afterlife, and social ethics. In view of this positive link between Christianity and Pharisaism w e
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n e e d to take u p the supposed hostility in the Synoptic Gospels b e t w e e n Jesus a n d the Jewish m o v e m e n t . Several viewpoints have e m e r g e d in recent scholarship. Prof. Paul Winter, for example, insists that the fierce opposition b e t w e e n Jesus and " t h e Pharisees" depicts a situation that came to pass well into the first century w h e n the church and the synagogue had gone their separate ways. It was not representative of the actual relationship in J e s u s ' lifetime. A n o t h e r possible approach is based o n the research of the Israeli N e w Testament scholar David Flusser. H e has s h o w n that there were m a n y competing groups within the overall Pharisee m o v e m e n t and they frequently spoke quite harshly about one another. In other words, Jesus' condemnations m a y very well reflect internal disputes rather than a total condemnation of Pharisaism. Jesus seems most closely identified with what Flusser terms the "love P h a r i s e e s , " those w h o m a d e the notion of love central to Jewish religious belief and expression. In this perspective the Gospel denunciations, even if they by chance reflect the authentic words of Jesus, were aimed primarily at certain sectors of Pharisaism which, in the j u d g m e n t of the " l o v e " Pharisees (including Jesus), were not living up to the core ideals of the m o v e m e n t . In either case, the surface antagonism b e t w e e n J e s u s and the Pharisees must be read in a far more nuanced fashion than has generally been the case in Christianity. Also, this surface antagonism should not blind Christians to the profound debt both Jesus and the apostolic church o w e d to this creative Jewish m o v e m e n t . Turning to more contemporary questions in the dialogue, w e come head-on to the question of Israel. It cannot be avoided. This question is not simply a political matter, though surely the politics of the Middle East will enter the contemporary conversations between Christians and Jews.
No discussion of the State of Israel in the dialogue will prove successful unless Christians clearly acknowledge the vulnerability of Israel.
N o discussion of the State of Israel in the dialogue will prove successful unless Christians clearly acknowledge the vulnerability of Israel. It remains deeply affected by the general turbulence in Middle East politics, superpower rivalries, a n d a pervasive anti-Israel
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theological stance in Islamic religious circles. Israel's national ethos remains strongly conditioned by the trauma of the Holocaust and the memory of persecution in Arab lands and in the U S S R . As a survivor of Auschwitz once told m e on a late-night walk o n his kibbutz in northern Galilee, " Y o u must understand that this land is our resurrection." T o o few Christians, especially m a n y of those prepared to criticize Israeli governmental policy, appreciate or affirm this continuing sense of vulnerability. All such criticism from Christians that fails to display a deep sensitivity for this understandable sense of J e w i s h vulnerability deserves to fall o n hard ground. A n d the Holocaust too cannot b e forgotten in any discussion of Israel. T h e moral stain remains deeply e m b e d d e d in the Christian soul. While proper response to Christian failure during the Nazi period should not b e excessive guilt but continued support of the people Israel today in both their religious a n d political dimensions, the Holocaust must remain central to Christian m e m o r y . A n d while the establishment o f the State of Israel in 1948 should n e v e r be viewed as a r e c o m p e n s e for the Holocaust from the W e s t , the deep, abiding connection b e t w e e n the two events needs to be understood b y Christians. O n c e Christians have grasped this Jewish sense of vulnerability then they properly m a y raise questions about changing aspects o f Israeli life a n d policy. For one, Christians will n e e d to understand better the gradual e m e r g e n c e o f Oriental Jewry, largely people w h o fled to Israel from Arab countries. T h e y are acquiring a n e w social and political p r o m i n e n c e that in all likelihood will profoundly affect the overall ethos of the country and in time have important consequences for the Christian-Jewish dialogue. S o m e have seen the Oriental Jewish c o m m u n i t y as archconservative in terms o f a political accommodation with the Palestinians. But s o m e Oriental Jewish leaders such as former Israeli president Yitzhak N a v o n have cautioned about any easy assumptions in this regard. O v e r and above politics there is the whole range of Oriental Jewish religious thought and liturgy which has hardly penetrated Christian consciousness in the dialogue. T h e ascendency of Oriental J e w r y m a y be the catalyst for freeing the Christian-Jewish dialogue from its almost exclusively Western context up till n o w . T h e issue of Israeli treatment of Arabs, both in Israel proper w h e r e m a n y have s p o k e n of a growing marginalization of Israel's Arab citizens and in the administered areas, will grow as an issue in Christian-Jewish relations. Certain Christian groups have tended to
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overexaggerate the negative record of Israel in this regard. But there are definite problems of domestic prejudice as well as seeming annexationist policies on the West Bank that can n o longer be swept under the carpet in the dialogue. This also holds true for the case of Jewish terrorism against Christian and Muslim institutions in the country. While such Jewish terrorism pales in comparison to terrorism from the Arab side, it represents a growing concern, as does increasing ultraorthodox Jewish influence in the city o f Jerusalem. Finally, Israel's growing involvement in political events in Central America and Africa must be addressed. This involvement is the basis for increased criticism of Israel within the churches by those with little direct interest in the Middle East. While firmly resisting the attempts in s o m e church and political circles to isolate Israel totally as a political pariah, there is room here for serious questions b y Christians to their Jewish partners in the dialogue. Jewish appeals to Israeli self-interest, while to be taken seriously, will not end the concern o n the part of Christians. Apart from political dimensions of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the dialogue will also need to turn its attention to what scholars have termed the Jewish "land tradition," a tradition with deep roots in the H e b r e w Scriptures. Pioneering work by several Christian scholars will prove especially useful in the discussion. Prominent a m o n g these scholars are W . D . Davies, Walter Brueggem a n n , and J o h n T o w n s e n d . Although differences exist in their perspectives, they nonetheless seem to agree that (1) the New Testament does not clearly rule out Judaism's historic claims to the land; and (2) that land remains important for Christian faith as well, at least to the extent that the process of salvation in Christianity is deeply rooted in the process of h u m a n history. (Davies's most recent volume, The Territorial Dimension of Judaism, is especially strong in bringing out the land dimension of Judaism.) While recognizing that the theological approach to the land may be o n e of the basic differences between Christianity and Judaism, Christians can still profit greatly both in their o w n self-understanding as well as in their understanding of J e w s through discussions of the land tradition. Christians can also properly address s o m e questions to their Jewish brothers and sisters. Does the land tradition in Judaism necessarily demand perpetual sovereignty over a piece of real estate in the Middle East? Could the values inherent in the land tradition be sustained under some other political arrangement? Put another way, is the nation-state defide in Jewish theology? Another major question concerns the relationship between Zionism and the more universal33
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istic trends found in S e c o n d T e m p l e Judaism which s e e m to modify in the eyes of s o m e scholars the emphasis on a particular piece of territory as the locale for G o d ' s presence. Lastly, the whole question of non-Jewish minorities in Israel a n d h o w their role is understood in a n essentially Jewish state has yet to be handled adequately by Zionist ideology. Christians, in light of their o w n continuing reflections on church-state relations, can profitably probe their Jewish colleagues o n this score. N o contemporary encounter b e t w e e n J e w s and Christians can avoid the Holocaust. O n the one hand, the philosophy of Naziism was deeply anti-Christian in orientation and m a n y Christians suffered as a result. O n the other h a n d , traditional Christian anti-Semitism, while it did not directly generate the Holocaust, played a central role in its success. It was truly an indispensable seedbed for the Final Solution. In this regard the words of Fr. Edward Flannery, o n e of the pioneers in the dialogue, are very instructive: "In the final analysis, s o m e degree of the charge (against the church) must be validated. Great or
Jews and Christians must probe the Holocaust together, for Naziism was not simply another example of human brutality on a mass scale—it marked the beginning of a new era in human history.
small, the apathy or silence was excessive. T h e fact remains that in the twentieth century of Christian civilization a genocide o f six million innocent people was perpetrated in countries with many centuries of Christian tradition and b y h a n d s that were in m a n y cases Christian." So the church must engage in serious reflection o n this failure to confront the Nazi attack o n the J e w s and to ascertain whether this classic anti-Semitic tradition remains alive in any form today. A n d together with the Jewish community there is need for Christians to probe the implications of the Holocaust for contempo rary culture. For Naziism was not simply another example of h u m a n brutality on a massive scale. It truly marked the beginning of a new era in h u m a n history. It remains an "orienting e v e n t " for Christians, J e w s , and the whole of Western society, as Rabbi Irving Greenberg has rightly argued. T h e Holocaust w a s a highly planned and finely executed attempt at
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the elimination of people the Nazis were convinced had no further role to play in the future development of humanity, First of all, this meant the Jews w h o were regarded as " v e r m i n . " But it also included the Gypsies, Slavs (especially the Poles), gay people, and the physically/mentally incapacitated. This plan was made possible by the coming together of modern technology and bureaucracy and d e p e n d e d in part at least on ideas generated by some of the giants of modern Western thought. It also succeeded only because of the cooperation extended b y some o f the best minds in Germany, churchpeople included. It systematically reduced masses of people to n u m b e r s , to n o n h u m a n products w h o s e remains could b e used for research and profit. The final area for consideration is the theological. It is a very difficult and sensitive o n e . For what seems necessary is a significant restatement of Christian self-identity relative to Judaism. Tradition ally Christianity has expressed the meaning of the Christ-event in terms of Jewish displacement. J e w s were left at the starting gate after their failure to acknowledge Christ. T h e theological challenge before the church today is to express in a meaningful way the conclusion reached by Paul in R o m a n s that the Jewish covenant remains valid after the Christ-event while retaining the unique revelation to be found in the Incarnation. Put another way, how can Christian doctrine create authentic theological space for Judaism? T h e answer w e give here will never be in complete harmony with Jewish self-expression. J e w s and Christians have some basic differences in faith perception. But especially in light of Auschwitz w e have an obligation, as Jurgen Moltmann has reminded us, to search for ways of eliminating our traditional displacement theology of Judaism. I
The most promising theological avenue to explore is that of seeing Judaism and Christianity as two distinctive religions, each with a unique faith despite their historic links.
have undertaken this effort in m y volume Christ in Light of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue. Paul van Buren is at work on a multivolume effort along these lines. Other Christian scholars are working on pieces of a n e w Jewish-Christian relational model for theology. T h e effort, still very m u c h in its infancy, must continue.
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At this m o m e n t n o single theological reformulation of Christianity's relationship to Judaism has w o n general acceptance. T h e only areas in which there is significant c o n s e n s u s a m o n g scholars who have studied the question are (1) that the Christ-event did not invalidate the Jewish faith perspective, (2) that Christianity is not superior to Judaism in every way, nor is it simply the fulfillment of Judaism, and (3) that Christianity needs to incorporate dimensions from its original Jewish context, most notably the sense of rootedness in history. T h e respective positions advocated b y dialogue scholars that Christianity is essentially Judaism for the Gentiles, or that the Christ-event is o n e a m o n g several messianic experiences in world history, or that Christianity and Judaism are distinctive religions, each with a unique faith perspective despite their historic links, have each drawn support from several scholars. It is m y belief that the third position remains the most promising for further development. Within this third approach certain suppositions are crucial. The first is that any christology which simply presents the meaning of Jesus' ministry as the fulfillment of Jewish messianic prophecies is invalid. Others include the recognition that the basic link between Jesus and Judaism is to be found in his appropriation of the revolutionary vision of Pharisaism, the realization that the basic difference between Christian ity and Judaism lies not so much in fulfillment/nonfulfillment as in the notion of the Incarnation and the awareness that Judaism's principal contribution to christological thought comes from an understanding of the Exodus covenantal tradition and the sense of peoplehood and salvation within history that this tradition entails. Additionally this perspective recognizes that Christian-Jewish dialogue on the christolo gical questions has implications for the church throughout the world and not only in the North Atlantic region as has sometimes b e e n implied. Because there is n o way fully to grasp christology without understanding the thoroughly Jewish context of Jesus' ministry, Christian knowledge of Judaism becomes an imperative, irrespective of the presence or absence of Jews in a particular geographic area. Likewise it is aware that Christianity and Judaism will both have to prepare themselves to relate their covenantal theological traditions to other world religions and ideologies. T h e growing interdependence of the world community makes this a theological as well as an ethical imperative for both faith communities. In summary, the age o f proselytizing, prejudice, a n d confrontation b e t w e e n Judaism and Christianity is over. Despite continued tensions the age of dialogue has begun.
THE NEW TESTAMENT RECONSIDERED: RECENT POST-HOLOCAUST SCHOLARSHIP
CLARK M. WILLIAMSON
Contemporary scholars s e e k to correct an intepretive error made a century ago. First, let us make our presuppositions clear. Whether there is anti-Judaism in the N e w Testament or in certain selected documents or passages within it is a matter of serious scholarly dispute today. It is not the purpose of this essay to enter into this dispute. W h a t is not in question is that there are strongly negative images of Jews and Judaism in the N e w Testament and that what we may fairly call "anti-Judaism" has long constituted a frame of reference in terms of which these images and the larger N e w Testament have been interpreted. It is this interpretive scheme which is being decisively challenged by several recent scholars. This challenge to the anti-Judaic hermeneutical model arose before the period of Hitler's Holocaust against the Jews (1933-45); it is only since the Holocaust, however, that it has been picked u p and renewed within the discipline of biblical scholarship. The purpose of this essay is to indicate the character of the alternative proposal in the hope that ministers of the gospel will familiarize themselves with it and make use of it in their preaching and teaching. Before depicting the constructive alternative, w e must describe the anti-Jewish model of N e w Testament interpretation. In the light of this description, the significance o f the emerging n e w paradigm will be more clearly visible. Three twentieth-century Christian scholars, Charlotte Klein, George Foot M o o r e , and E . P. Sanders, have delineated the structure of anti-Jewish biblical scholarship. Essentially, Klein's work focuses o n four areas of concern: the so-called "late J u d a i s m , " law and legalistic piety, the Pharisees, and
Clark M. Williamson teaches at the Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, and wrote Has God Rejected His People? Anti-Judaism in the Christian Church, published in 1982. One of his recent periodical contributions was an article on theodicy, "Things Do Go Wrong (and Right)," which appeared in Journal of Religion, January, 1983. His current research interests include a rethinking of christology after the Holocaust. 37
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Jewish responsibility for the Crucifixion. Her careful analysis of scores of G e r m a n biblical scholars can only be briefly surveyed here. As a rule, they fix the n a m e of ''late J u d a i s m " (emphasis mine) on that phase of Israelite religion running from Ezra and Nehemiah and the return from Exile to the period of the revolt of Bar Kochba. The very n a m e they use for it indicates that they regard it as Judaism in decline and on the way to its o w n death, a Judaism in relation to which Jesus, Paul, and Christianity can only be understood in terms of the starkest contrast. Overwhelmingly, G e r m a n scholars characterize this Ju daism as inauthentic, a Judaism that turned its back on genuine faith in the Lord, the G o d of Israel, and the message of the prophets. Henceforth, Judaism is o n the wrong track, having abandoned its true faith. Georg Fohrer once said that it failed in its "divine task b y constantly falling away from the w a y of life imposed on [it] . . . and wanting to use G o d merely as metaphysical security for [its] own l i f e . " (Although typical of Fohrer's earlier views, this kind of remark is n o longer indicative of his thought.) Late Judaism is described, hence, as an absurd result of a decadent, " b l i n d " rabbinic scholarship that is exaggeratedly preoccupied with the letter of the law. It mistakenly sought to re-establish temple worship and the political security of the people in a state of their own, failing to realize that J e w s are a religious community rather than a nation and that ideally they should live under nomadic conditions, wandering a m o n g the nations, to ensure the purity of the central Jewish message of freedom. It is incredible that Augustine's old theology of the wandering Jew should have itself found a h o m e in modern, ostensibly "critical" biblical scholarship! But here it is, together with its obvious implications, for anti-Jewish thinkers, for contemporary international affairs: the State of Israel is a theological mistake of late Judaism. " L a t e " Judaism, then, is both preparatory for and inferior to Christianity. Jesus is interpreted as having rejected this " o l d " Judaism and, with his words and work, it no longer forms a part of the history of Israel. In h i m and in his Crucifixion by Jews, Jewish history comes to an end. O n this model, " l a t e " Judaism was in a state of decadence, orthodoxy, and legalism. Its faith had b e c o m e externalized and rigid; G o d had b e c o m e distant and the prophetic message forgotten. Jesus decisively rejects this old, dead Judaism. L a w and legalistic piety typify " l a t e " Judaism and are condemned. That Torah is hardly rendered with accuracy as " l a w " is not acknowledged. Joachim Jeremias goes so far as to call legalistic piety
the " c a n c e r " of J u d a i s m . Such piety "separates us from G o d . " Consequently, legalistic exegesis of the O l d Testament is "blind." O n l y the church can read the Scriptures. Legalistic J e w s were "deaf to the g o s p e l , " Jeremias is or is thought to be by some a counterweight to Rudolf Bultmann in N e w Testament scholarship. Both share a c o m m o n failing, however: neither k n e w Second Temple Judaism from its own sources and each was quite capable of caricaturing it. Bultmann's anti-Jewish remarks are scattered throughout his writings. Critics of Bultmann, however, sometimes go overboard and charge him with anti-Semitism, which is racist Jew-hatred and something different from harboring negative images of first-century Judaism. In an address called " T h e Task of Theology in the Present Situation," delivered on M a y 2, 1933, Bultmann declared: it is clear that we have to decide whether Christian faith is to be valid for us or not. It, for its part, can relinquish nothing of its nature and claim; for 'verbum Domini manet in aeternum.' And we should as scrupulously guard ourselves against falsifications of the faith by national religiosity as against a falsification of national piety by Christian trimmings. The issue is either/or!
Whatever his failings, Bultmann never lost sight of the promise and c o m m a n d of the gospel. The third major theme in the anti-Jewish interpretive model is the Pharisees, w h o continue to be represented as the enemies of Jesus' teaching. This theme can carry over even into liberation theologies. W h e n Jon Sobrino discusses Jesus' approach to prayer, h e does so under the rubric o f " J e s u s ' Criticism o f Contemporary P r a y e r . " H e starts with the Lukan version of the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, in which, he says, " J e s u s c o n d e m n s the prayer of the Pharisees [note the plural] because it is the self-assertion of an egotistical T and hence vitiated at its very c o r e . " Sobrino transforms a parable into a general indictment. T h e Pharisee's "pole of reference" is not to God but to himself. Also, the Pharisee is " e v e n less oriented toward other h u m a n beings. He holds t h e m in c o n t e m p t . . . and he thanks G x l that h e is not like t h e m " (Christology at the Crossroads, p. 147). Pharisaic prayer is a mechanical ceremony in self-deception. The issue of Jesus' understanding of prayer is used merely as an example; on every point Jesus contradicts the teaching of the Pharisees. T h e way Sobrino, following Jeremias, k n o w s this is by
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applying the "criterion of dissimilarity" to the figure of the historical Jesus. Last, Jewish guilt in the death of Jesus is the theme in which the anti-Jewish reading of the N e w Testament reaches its zenith. Klein cites Karl Rahner as stating that " t h e crucified Lord is betrayed and abandoned by his friends, rejected b y his people, repudiated by the Church o f the Old T e s t a m e n t . " Jeremias claims: "It was an act of unparalleled risk which Jesus performed w h e n , from the full power of his consciousness of sovereignty, he openly and fearlessly called . . . [the Pharisees] to repentance, and this act brought him to the c r o s s . " In the last analysis, the religious leaders of Judaism have Jesus killed, because of his teaching. H e "is eventually c o n d e m n e d because of his conception of G o d " (Christology at the Crossroads, p. 206). More than sixty years ago, George Foot Moore pointed out the distorting nature of this anti-Jewish frame of reference. H e showed that the interpretation of Judaism given by Ferdinand W e b e r in his System der altsynagogalen Theologie aus Targum, Midrasch, und Talmud had for forty years " b e e n the chief resource of Christian writers w h o have dealt ex professo or incidentally with Judaism at the beginning of the Christian e r a " ("Christian Writers," p. 228). Weber's collection of Jewish source-material reflected his view of Judaism: antithetical to Christianity, based on the belief that works earn salvation, denying the grace of G o d , a works-righteousness that was uncertain of its o w n salvation. Moore also demonstrated that W e b e r ' s interpretation was continued b y Emil Schurer and Wilhelm Bousset, two highly influential scholars. O n their use of W e b e r , he comments that " a delectus o f quotations m a d e for a polemic purpose is the last kind of a source to which a historian should go to get a just notion of what a religion really was to its a d h e r e n t s " ("Christian Writers," pp. 221-22).
Fifty-six years after Moore's classic essay, E. P. Sanders published his Paul and Palestinian Judaism, in which h e delineates the historical course of this "Weber/Schurer/Bousset description of J u d a i s m . " Sanders corroborates Klein's demonstration that numerous biblical scholars have persisted in using this model to interpret Judaism. His own fresh and penetrating depiction of Second Temple Judaism leads him to conclude that "the Judaism of before 70 kept grace and works in the right perspective, did not trivialize the commandments of God, and was not especially marked by hypocrisy." Sanders proceeds to note:
The frequent Christian charge against Judaism . . . is not that some individual Jews misunderstood, misapplied and abused their
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religion, but that Judaism necessarily tends towards petty legalism, self-serving and self-deceiving casuistry, and a mixture of arrogance and lack of confidence in God. But the surviving Jewish literature is as free of these characteristics as any I have ever read (Paul and Palestinian Judaism, p. 427). W h a t one does find in reading Jewish literature is that the promise and c o m m a n d of G o d are always kept in relationship to o n e another and that the grace of G o d in choosing and ultimately redeeming Israel is strongly emphasized. Although brief, this description of the anti-Jewish interpretive s c h e m e provides the backdrop against which the n e w scholarship can be represented.
In the anti-Jewish paradigm which has just b e e n reviewed, the Pharisees are regarded as the chief examples of what went wrong in Judaism; it was to what they stood for that Paul and Jesus were in total opposition. Yet in the emerging scholarship it is precisely they w h o s e reputation is most being refurbished. T w o points are involved, one negative and o n e positive. Negatively, (a) Paul never mentions Pharisees as his enemies, and (b) scholars increasingly recognize that the conflicts b e t w e e n Jesus and the Pharisees in the Gospels are the products of later hostility between the Pharisee leaders of the synagogue and the church of the late first century. Writes Norman Perrin: So the diatribe against "the scribes and Pharisees" in Matthew 23 does not reflect a conflict between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees of his day, but one fifty years later between Matthew and their descendants spreading their influence from Jamnia.
T h e late first century was a time of desperation and conflict for both church and synagogue, each threatened by turmoil from within and by the Roman Empire from without, and the later N e w Testament writings reflect the Christian side of this dissension. T h e positive point is that in the n e w scholarship the image of the Pharisees is drastically improved. Here they are n o longer the polemically targeted "chief h e a v i e s " o f the N e w Testament but, rather, the o n e group of official J e w s (the others being the Sadducees,
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the Zealots, a n d the E s s e n e s ) w h o are sufficiently popular with the people to survive. All the rest, except for the followers of Jesus, disappear. The problem of reconstructing a historical picture of the Pharisees is m u c h the same as that of retrieving the historical Jesus. W e have to work backwards from later sources, sources motivated by other than historical concerns. Nonetheless, a battery of scholars has devoted m u c h attention to this quest and within the confines of historical probability we can make the following p o i n t s .
The Pharisee m e t h o d of teaching, called the "oral T o r a h , " teaches by w a y o f interpreting the written Torah; "it is written, but the meaning is . . . . " M a t t h e w regularly attributes this m e t h o d to Jesus: " Y o u have heard it said, but I say unto y o u , " a technical Pharisee expression. T h e Pharisees also created the role of the rabbi, the o n e w h o so teaches and w h o interprets, specifies, and transforms
In the new scholarship the image of the Pharisees is drastically improved.
inherited teachings and obligations. All in all, the Gospels contain forty-two references to Jesus as teacher/rabbi and h e teaches not only by oral Torah but b y telling stories, also a favorite rabbinic approach. W e are frequently told by the Synoptics that it was Jesus' custom to go to the synagogue (Luke 4:16), the institution that embodied the Pharisee type of faith. As to content, the teachings attributed to Jesus are so remarkably parallel to those of the liberal Pharisees, followers of Hillel (the conservative Pharisees were of the school of Shammai) that Jacob N e u s n e r declares: " S o m e of his [Hillel's] teachings are in spirit and even in exact wording close to the teachings of J e s u s . " Jesus' proclamation that " t h e Sabbath was made for man, not m a n for the S a b b a t h " (Mark 2:27) reflects the Hillelite saying attributed to Rabbi Jonathan b e n Joseph: "Scripture says, ' T h e Sabbath is holy for you' (Exodus 31:14). This m e a n s it is given to you (man) not you to the S a b b a t h . " J e s u s ' simplification of all the c o m m a n d m e n t s into two is similar to what is found both in Hillel and Philo; his use of the S h e m a ("hear, O Israel") a n d his teachings o n prayer (both the Lord's Prayer and the parable of the Pharisee and the publican) are in the Pharisee
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tradition. Also, the Pharisees were highly self-critical to the extent that the criticism of them attributed to Jesus in the Gospels, if authentic, need be no more than Pharisee self-criticism. In spite of what the anti-Jewish paradigm says, the Pharisees also laid great stress on the all-presence of God (the Shekinah) and on the grace of G o d . A great Jewish scholar of our time, Leo Baeck, a rabbi w h o survived Theresienstadt and Hitler's attempted "final solution," sums it up this way:
Jesus, in all of his traits, is completely a genuine Jewish character. A man such as he could only grow up on the soil of Judaism.. . . Jesus is a genuine Jewish personality, all of his striving and acting, his bearing and feeling, his speech and his silence bear the stamp of the Jewish manner, the imprint of Jewish idealism, and the best of what Judaism gave and gives, but what only existed, at that time, in Judaism. He was a Jew among Jews; out of no other people could a man such as he have been able to have this effect; in no other people could he have found the apostles who believed in h i m .
Jesus' ethical teachings seem clearly continuous with those of the contemporary school of Hillel; w h e n the content differs, the method is the same. Obviously there is much else in the sayings attributed to J e s u s (eschatology and apocalyptic, the coming kingdom of G o d and Jesus' role in that coming) which is beyond the scope of our discussion here. T h e argument is not that Jesus was just another Pharisee or that h e was in n o way different from them. Precision in this matter is probably b e y o n d the reach of possibility. The following do seem to be fair conclusions: (a) a more objective view of the Pharisees results in a more favorable and less biased picture of them; (b) the conflicts portrayed in the Gospels between Jesus and the Pharisees are retrojected from the embattled situation of the later first-century church; (c) ministers of the gospel should familiarize themselves with this n e w scholarship on the Pharisees and cease perpetuating negative images of the forebears of the synagogue across the street; and (d) the good news of G o d is expressed in every pericope of the Gospels, including the conflict stories. This good news is what we should preach and teach, the promise of the love of God for each and all and the c o m m a n d of G o d for justice to each and all.
W h e n we turn to the Apostle Paul, w e find a wealth of scholarship which takes a n e w look at the apostle to the G e n t i l e s . In spite of this
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abundance of n e w scholarship, however, pastors will find that the traditional anti-Jewish interpretation of Paul is still present in commentaries o n his letters. For instance, in his commentary o n Romans, M a t t h e w Black comments: The key to an understanding of Paul's essential thesis is his conviction of the total bankruptcy of contemporary Pharisaic "scholasticism," which seemed to base the whole range of active right relationships within the Covenant ("righteousness") on the meticulous observation of the injunctions of the torah as expanded in the "tradition of the elders." This was "legalistic righteousness," a form of ethics based entirely on a code, external and "written," losing sight entirely of the gracious personal Will of a holy and good God, of which it was originally intended to be the divine vehicle of expression.
W e r e the question for Paul indeed that of Pharisaism or the gospel, it is striking that h e never once put it that way. Nor does he ever juxtapose law and gospel. H e never speaks of Pharisaism. In the o n e passage w h e r e he uses " P h a r i s e e , " h e says: If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless (Phil. 3:4-6). Paul will express regret for having persecuted the church (Gal. 1:13), but h e never expresses regret for having b e e n a Pharisee. A n d his o n e autobiographical c o m m e n t o n his relationship to the law, found in the passage quoted above, states that as to righteousness under it he was "blameless." In Paul among Jews and Gentiles, Krister Stendahl interprets Paul's thinking as having had as a basic concern the relation between Jews and Gentiles with which, he says, the main lines of Pauline interpretation " h a v e for m a n y centuries b e e n out of t o u c h . . . " (p. 1). Stendahl seeks to s h o w that Paul's doctrine of justification was worked out in order to defend the rights of Gentile converts to be full and genuine heirs to the promises of G o d to Israel and not as a response to the kinds of pangs of conscience which Luther had with the law. H e regards R o m a n s 9 - 1 1 as the climax of Paul's most famous letter, i.e., Paul's reflections on the relation between the church and the Jewish people. Paul does not say that ultimately Israel will accept
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Jesus as the Christ but simply that "all Israel will be s a v e d " (11:26), and Paul writes this whole section of R o m a n s (10:18-11:36) without using the n a m e of Jesus Christ. T h e final doxology in the passage is the only one in Paul without a christological reference. Says Stendahl: It is tempting to suggest that in important respects Paul's thought here approximates an idea well documented in later Jewish thought from Maimonides to Franz Rosenzweig. Christianity . . . is seen as the conduit of Torah, for the declaration of both monotheism and the moral order to the Gentiles. The differences are obvious, but the similarity should not be missed: Paul's reference to God's mysterious plan is an affirmation of a God-willed coexistence between Judaism and Christianity in which the missionary urge to convert Israel is held in check (p. 4). In working his w a y toward this conclusion, Stendahl makes several points. First, following his method of insisting on a simple reading of
Stendahl argues that we must see Paul's experience on the Damascus Road as a call rather than a conversion.
the text unobscured by what w e already think w e know, he contends that w e must see Paul's experience on the Damascus Road as a call rather than a conversion. Conversion usually connotes a change from one religion to another, in this case from Judaism to Christianity. Paul, h o w e v e r , was not converted but called to the specific task of apostleship to the Gentiles. O f his o w n experience, Paul says: " w h e n he w h o had set m e apart before I was born, and had called m e through his grace, was pleased to reveal his S o n to m e , in order that I might preach him a m o n g the Gentiles . . . " (Gal. 1:15-16). In this comment are found clear allusions to those calls issued to Isaiah and Jeremiah that they b e c o m e prophets to the nations (Isa, 49:1, 6; Jer. 1:5). Rather than being a conversion, Paul's experience brought him to a n e w understanding of the law " w h i c h is otherwise an obstacle to the G e n t i l e s " (p. 9 ) . A careful reading of the three accounts of Paul o n the Damascus Road yields the same result (Acts 9, 2 2 , and 26). Paul did not change his religion: "It is obvious that Paul remains a J e w as he fulfills his role as an Apostle to the G e n t i l e s " (p. 11). Second, Stendahl notes that "justification" and words related to it
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appear pervasively in the Pauline epistles, while "forgiveness" and the verb "to forgive" shine by their absence. Paul's doctrine of justification by faith has its theological context in his reflection on the relation between Jews and Gentiles, and not within the problem of how man is to be saved, or how man's deeds are to be accounted, or how the free will of individuals is to be asserted or checked (p. 26). W h e n e v e r w e find Paul discussing justification, a quick check of the context will disclose, lying near at h a n d , a specific reference to J e w s and Gentiles. For example: For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of their faith and the uncircumcised through their faith (Rom. 3:28-30). Paul goes on to c o m m e n t in this passage that to hold this view is to uphold, not overthrow, the law. This use of the doctrine of justification is continued by a student of Paul w h o wrote to the Ephesians: " F o r by grace you have b e e n saved through faith"; a n d three verses later says, "Therefore remember that at o n e time you Gentiles in the flesh . . . were . . . separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, a n d strangers to the covenants of promise, having n o hope and without G o d in the w o r l d " (Eph. 2 : 8 , 1 1 - 1 2 ) . T h e doctrine of justification, then, has not so m u c h to do with the forgiveness of the individual as with the salvation-historical inclusion of the Gentiles in the people of G o d . Paul, says Stendahl, is " o u r champion, a J e w w h o b y vicarious penetration gives to us Gentiles the justification for our claims to b e G o d ' s children in J e s u s Christ" (p. 76). Third, Stendahl issues a stern caution against our Protestant and Western tendency to interpret Paul in the light of what he calls our "introspective c o n s c i e n c e . " Usually we follow the AugustinianLutheran interpretation of justification in terms of a struggle with the conscience. Paul, however, had very little to say about his own sin, whereas h e said a lot about his physical weakness, his "thorn in the flesh" (pp. 40-52). Paul's o w n conscience was apparently quite " r o b u s t " (p. 80). Luther's interpretation of Paul arose in the context of late medieval piety in which Paul's c o m m e n t s on law, works, J e w s ,
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Gentiles, etc., came to be regarded as a discussion of legalism and grace. " W h e r e Paul was concerned about the possibility for Gentiles to be included in the messianic community, his statements are now read as answers to the quest for assurance about man's salvation out of a c o m m o n human predicament" (p. 86). This Lutheran interpretation has a considerable impact on the reading of specific texts. Reinterpretation of a classic text is by no means illegitimate; indeed it is necessary if a text is to remain a classic. Also, reinterpretation may make possible significant theological insight, as in Luther's case it certainly did. To fail to note that one is reinterpreting, however, can result, in this instance, in attributing to Paul a view of Judaism that he did not hold and in missing his salvation-historical way of saying that through the no of Jews to Jesus, the W a y was opened for the gospel to move to the Gentiles. In his "Paul and the Torah," Lloyd Gaston argues that Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles, that he was commissioned b y the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15; Gal. 2:1-10) to preach among the Gentiles, that he was not commissioned to preach among Jews and that h e apparently never did. All his letters were sent to congregations overwhelmingly made up of Gentiles. Foremost among the problems faced by those Gentile followers of Jesus was the right of Gentiles qua Gentiles to full citizenship in the people of God without adopting the Torah of Israel. Gaston's thesis is that legalism—"the doing of certain works in order to win God's favor and be counted righteous—arose as a gentile and not a Jewish problem at all" (p. 58). It was the God-fearers not under the covenant who "had to establish their righteousness by the performance of certain works, compounded by uncertainty as to what these works should b e " (p. 58). The term "works of the law," not found in any Jewish texts, refers to the Gentile habit of adopting certain Jewish practices as a means of self-justification. H o w else can Paul address the Galatians with the question: "Tell m e , you w h o desire to be under law, do you not hear the law?" (4:21). In this passage, remarks Gaston, one hears Paul the Pharisee who really knows the Torah replying to amateurs who are only "playing with the idea" (p. 64). " W h e n Paul is most negative about the law, he opposes it to—the law, i.e., the Torah! Opposed to 'the other law, the law of sin' is 'the Torah of God' (Rom. 7:22f)" (p. 65). Paul spoke as he did to Gentiles because with t h e m a new vocabulary was necessary. He never spoke to t h e m of repentance, a central Jewish idea, because "that m e a n t turning back to the G o d o f the covenant, and Paul was interested in gentiles turning to him for the first t i m e " (p. 65). G a s t o n ' s article is useful to ministers in helping
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us to see clearly to w h o m and therefore to what problem Paul was writing. Paul never wrote a letter to a synagogue of J e w s advocating that they abandon the Torah. He did write against Gentiles infatuated with Jewish w a y s and intent on playing at being J e w s and frequently his criticism of t h e m w a s itself quite Jewish: "Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision b e c o m e s uncircumcision" (Rom. 2:25). According to J. Christiaan Beker in his Paul the Apostle: T h e Triumph of God in Life and Thought, the model of Paul as the originator of catholic Christianity was the model of Paul as having liberated Christianity "from its so-called Jewish limitations. Paul the catholic theologian was the 'universalist,' and the key to his achievement was his antipathy to everything J e w i s h " (p. 339). Beker declares that "this popular picture of Paul as the originator of catholic dogma and the e n e m y of Judaism is completely e r r o n e o u s " (p. 340). Contrary to the traditional view, Beker c o m m e n t s frequently u p o n Paul's "lack o f narcissistic self-concern and introspection," and on his reticence "about his conversion e x p e r i e n c e " as contrasted with the fact that Paul was "extremely outspoken about his apostleship" (pp. 4-5). H e attributes m u c h of the interest in Paul's " c o n v e r s i o n " to turn-of-the-century scholarship with "its strong psychological and romantic interests" and contends instead that Paul is preoccupied by his call to the apostolate and gospel as service to the world (pp. 6, 8 , 1 0 ) . It is Beker w h o points out, illuminatingly, that Paul never speaks of Christ as having "fulfilled" the promises of G o d to Israel. In place of such an expression, Paul says that Christ " b e c a m e a servant to the circumcised to s h o w G o d ' s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify G o d for his m e r c y " (Rom. 15:8-9). T h e verb bebaidsai is "to ratify or confirm." Also, Beker points out that Paul maintains a tension between G o d and Christ, so that Christ is never " f u s e d " with G o d (p. 344). For instance, Paul tells the Corinthians, " L e t n o o n e boast of m e n . For all things are y o u r s . . . and y o u are Christ's, and Christ is G o d ' s " (I Cor. 3:21,23). Paul's is a theocentric, not christocentric, christology. Paul's christology is affirmed against the prospect or horizon of God's final eschatological kingdom "that will break into history and transform all creation in accord with the messianic p r o m i s e s " (p. 345), a consummation which will take place only with Israel's participation in it. T h e s e natural olive branches will be grafted back "into their own olive tree" (Rom. 11:24; emphasis mine). The works of Markus Barth, W . D . Davies, and E . P. Sanders are
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also extremely valuable in interpreting Paul. M e m b e r s of the clergy will find that they more than repay being studied. Also, they deal with aspects of Paul not treated in this short e s s a y .
Scholars are now candid about Luther's vulgar writings against the J e w s . In On the fetus and Their Lies (1543), Luther actually advised Christians to burn synagogues, destroy the homes of Jews, and forcibly remove Talmuds and Prayer Books from Jewish possession; finally, he advocated the expulsion of all Jews from Saxony. And, in fact, they were ousted from Saxony in 1543 as a result of Luther's writing and preaching. All the more striking, then, is his earlier (1520) statement which reflects the very core of Luther's theology:
it is not enough or in any sense Christian to preach the works, life, and words of Christ as historical facts, as if the knowledge of these would suffice for the conduct of life; yet this is the fashion among those who must today be regarded as our best preachers. Far less is it sufficient or Christian to say nothing at all about Christ and to teach instead the laws of men and the decrees of the fathers. Now there are not a few who preach Christ and read about him that they may move men's affections to sympathy with Christ, to anger against the Jews, and such childish and effeminate nonsense. Rather ought Christ to be preached to the end that faith in him may be established that he may not only be Christ, but be Christ for you and me, and that what is said of him and is denoted in his name may be effectual in u s .
What Luther is saying here is that the business of Christian preaching and teaching is to preach and teach the gospel, nothing else. Certainly we are not to arouse anger against Jews in the name of Christ nor so to tell the Christian story that our way of telling it will either invite such anger or convey, subliminally or otherwise, the supposition that it is Christian to tolerate it. More fundamentally, we need to take much more radically the insight of Paul and Luther that justification is by grace. The justification of Gentile Christians is by the sheer grace of God and not by some spurious "work" of overcoming Judaism. It is in the nefarious notion of Christian negation and supersession of Judaism that works-righteous ness achieves its final and most deadly triumph. Let us, instead, preach Christ, to the end that faith in him may be established and that he may be Christ for each of us.
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NOTES 1. Charlotte Klein, Anti-Judaism in Christian Theology, trans. Edward Quinn (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978). 2. Georg Fohrer, Studien zur alttestamentlkhen Theologie und Geschichte, 1949-66 (Berlin: 1969), p. 37. 3. Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology: The Proclamation of Jesus, trans. JohnBowden (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971) p. 227. 4. Rudolf Bultmann, Existence and Faith: Shorter Writings of Rudolf Bultmann, trans, and introduced by Schubert M. Ogden (New York: Meridian Books, 1960), p. 165. 5. Jon Sobrino, Christology at the Crossroads, trans. John Drury (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1978), p. 146. 6. George Foot Moore, "Christian Writers on Judaism," Harimrd Theological Review 14 (July 1921): 197-254. 7. E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977), p. 47. 8. Norman Perrin, The New Testament: An Introduction (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974), p. 171. 9. Included in helpful literature on the Pharisees are the following: William Coleman, Those Pharisees (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1977); Michael Cook, "Jesus and the Pharisees—The Problem as It Stands Today," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 15 (Summer 1978): 441*60; W. D. Davies, Introduction to Pftarisaism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967); Louis Finkelstein, The Pharisees: The Sociological Background of Their Faith (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1938); R. Travers Herford, The Pharisees (New York: Macmillan, 1924); George F. Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1927); Jacob Neusner, From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1973); John T. Pawlikowski, "On Renewing the Revolution of the Pharisees: A New Approach to Theology and Politics," Cross Currents, 20 (Fall 1970): 415-34; Jakob J. Petuchowski, Heirs of the Pliarisees (New York: Basic Books, 1970); William Phipps, "Jesus, the Prophetic Pharisee," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 14 (Winter 1977): 17-31; Ellis Rivkin, A Hidden Revolution (Nashville: Abingdon, 1978); Ellis Rivkin, "Pharisees," Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume (Nashville: Abingdon, 1976). 10. Neusner, From Politics to Piety, p. 13. 11. Yoma, 85b. 12. See the section on "Grace" in C. G. Montefiore and H. Loewe, eds., A Rabbinic Anthology (New York: Schocken Books, 1974). 13. Cited in Albert Freidlander, Leo Baeck: Teacher of Theresienstadt (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968), p. 58. 14. In addition to E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, cited above, the following are helpful: (1) Markus Barth, The Broken Wall: A Study of the Epistle to the Ephesians (Chicago: Judson Press, 1959); Israel and the Church: Contribution to a Dialogue Vital for Peace (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1969); Ephesians, 2 vols., The Anchor Bible (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1974); "St. Paul—A Good Jew," Horizons in Biblical Theology, Vol. 1, 1980, pp. 7-45; "Jews and Gentiles: The Social Character of Justification in Paul," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 5 (Spring 1968): 241-67; "Conversion and Conversation," Interpretation 17 (January 1963): 3-24; "Was Paul an Anti-Semite?" Journal of Ecumenical Studies 5 (Winter 1968): 78-104. (2) J. Christiaan Beker, Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980); Paul's Apocalyptic Gospel: The Coming Triumph of God (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982). (3) William D. Davies, Jewish and Pauline Studies (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983); Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, 4th edition (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980); "Paul and the People of Israel," New Testament Studies, 24 (October, 1977): 4-39. 50
NEW TESTAMENT RECONSIDERED (4) Krister Stendahl, Paul among Jews and Gentiles (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976). (5) Lloyd Gaston, "Paul and the Torah," in Alan T. Davies, ed., Anti-Semitism and the Foundations of Christianity (New York: Paulist Press, 1979), pp. 48-71. 15. Matthew Black, Romans (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1973), pp. 47-48. 16. The Gospel of John, of course, requires careful study by any member of the clergy who wants, when preaching from it, not to be trapped by late first-century polemics. Helpful in approaching it are the following: (1) C. K. Barrett, Essays on John (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1982); The Gospel According to St. John (London: S.P.C.K., 1955); The Gospel of John and Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975). (2) Raymond Edward Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple (New York: Paulist Press, 1979); The Epistles of John, The Anchor Bible (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1982); The Gospel According to John, 2 vols., The Anchor Bible (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1966, 1970); (3) John T. Townsend, "The Gospel of John and the Jews: The Story of a Religious Divorce," in AlanT. Davies, ed., AntiSemitism and the Foundations of Christianity (New York: Paulist Press, 1979), pp. 72-97. (4) I have attempted to survey recent scholarship on several important issues in the New Testament as they bear on relations between Christians and Jews in my Has God Rejected His People? Anti-Judaism in the Christian Church (Nashville: Abingdon, 1982), pp. 11-85. 17. See, e.g., Has God Rejected His People?, pp. 101-03. 18. Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, ed., John Dillenberger (Garden City, N. Y.: Anchor Books, 1961), pp. 65-66, from The Freedom of a Christian. Scripture quotations unless otherwise noted are from the Revised Standard Version Common Bible, copyrighted © 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and are used by permission.
THE JEWISH "NO" TO JESUS AND THE CHRISTIAN "YES" TO JEWS
J. (COOS) SCHONEVELD
What is the situation in Germany today with regard to the shameful anti-Judaism of many leading Christian theological and biblical scholars?
W h a t influence has the Holocaust exerted on Christian thinking in G e r m a n y and Europe with regard to the Jewish people? T h e answer to this question really depends o n the extent to which the Holocaust has b e e n allowed to exert an influence, because o n e widespread reaction has b e e n to suppress the thought of the Holocaust and to continue Christian thinking and theology as if the Holocaust had not taken place. In that case the issue of Christian-Jewish relations is avoided. O n the local level o n e can notice that members of church congregations are eager to deal with this issue, but the pastors shun it, perhaps because subconsciously they feel that the foundations of Christian faith are u p for re-examination once the relation between the church and the Jewish people is seriously considered. If challenging questions are asked which touch essential elements of Christian faith, the reaction is often o n e of defensiveness and a refusal to deal earnestly with the questions involved. A n interesting case is the reactions to the Statement of the Synod of the Protestant Church of the Rhineland in the Federal Republic of G e r m a n y . This statement, issued in January 1980, was the result of m a n y years of reflection and meant a recognition by this church that the Jewish people has remained the people called by G o d to fulfill its God-given mission in the world. T h e statement was but o n e further step o f the m a n y taken b y s o m e churches after the Holocaust to find a n e w relationship to the Jewish people. However, shortly after the publication of this statement members of the theological faculty of B o n n University issued " c o n s i d e r a t i o n s , " in which they attacked it with arguments aimed at the restoration of age-long theological
Dr. J. Schoneveld is general secretary of the International Council of Christians and Jews at the Martin Buber House, Heppenheim, West Germany. 52
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positions that denied the Jewish people any legitimate place in God's design after the coming of Christ. T h e whole style of argumentation signified a refusal to reconsider these theological positions, and a tendency to a Christian thinking as if Auschwitz had not taken place. In this regard the B o n n professors failed the theological criterion which the Catholic theologian J. B . Metz had set forth: "not to engage in a theology of any kind that remains untouched by Auschwitz or could have remained untouched b y it." Metz gave his students the
Metz, the Catholic theologian, advised his students, "Leave alone any theology which actually could have been the same before or after Auschwitz."
advice " L e a v e alone any theology which actually could have b e e n the same before or after A u s c h w i t z . " A very different reaction o n the statement of the S y n o d of the Church of the Rhineland was given by a G e r m a n psychologist, Hanna Wolff, in her book New Wine—Old Skins; Christianity's Problem of Identity in the Light of Psychoanalysis."* Her a n s w e r to the synod's statement consists in the glorification of Marcion, the church leader of the second century of the Christian era w h o tried to detach Jesus from Judaism and saw him as the manifestation of a different G o d than the G o d w h o s e will was revealed to Israel. According to Wolff, Christianity has until now never really got out of the shadow of Judaism. That is its guilt, its tragic and existential problem. To cut all ties with Judaism would, in her opinion, be the proper consequence to b e drawn from the guilt-laden history of the Christian relationship toward the Jewish people, a relationship which has culminated in Auschwitz. S h e k n o w s that something is very wrong in the traditional attitude of the church to the Jews, and she quotes a remarkable statement by the famous church historian Adolf v o n Harnack, w h o s e theology displayed Marcionite tendencies. It was quoted b y the Jewish theologian Pinchas Lapide: " S u c h injustice as perpetrated by the Gentile churches towards Judaism is almost unheard of in world history. T h e Gentile church denies it everything; takes its holy book away from it, and while she herself is nothing else than a transformed Judaism, she cuts off every connection with it: the daughter rejects the mother after having plundered h e r . " The mere thought that Christianity might b e a transformed Judaism
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is horrifying for Wolff, a n d tendencies in contemporary Christian theology to seek what J e w s and Christians m a y have in c o m m o n fill her with anger. S h e writes a book in which the whole Hebrew Bible and all Jewish elements in Christianity (or in any case the caricatures she gives of Jewish elements, since she shows herself to be very ill-informed about Judaism!) are thrown overboard. In this way she h o p e s to solve the identity problems of Christianity. Since the J e w s , during the S e c o n d World War, were physically removed a n d exterminated from G e r m a n y , she n o w wants a Christianity in G e r m a n y "purified" from all Jewish traces. It is not surprising that the Christianity she presents is a rather meager extract of s o m e sayings of Jesus adapted to psychotherapeutic n e e d s of individuals in distress. S h e has, however, rightly seen that Christianity had developed a very complicated, ambivalent, a n d almost pathological relationship towards the Jewish people. S h e is aware that, in the words of von Harnack, Christianity has plundered h e r mother, Judaism, by claiming to be the true Israel and b y denying the Jews the ability to read their Scriptures validly and correctly. But her solution of simply rejecting the m o t h e r is self-destructive a n d at least as pathological as the traditional Christian relationship to the Jewish people, especially in view of the post-Holocaust situation in Germany. From b o t h these types of reactions to the statement of the S y n o d of the Rhineland it b e c o m e s clear that the relationship to the Jewish people is still a very sensitive matter to G e r m a n consciousness. Christians in Europe are confronted with the empty place left in their countries b y the disappearance of m a n y Jewish communities. In the first decades after the S e c o n d World W a r , awareness of this absence was suppressed b y the feverish reconstruction of the devastated cities of Europe a n d the rebuilding of the e c o n o m y . N o w after forty years the victims of the Holocaust are more hauntingly present than immediately after the war, despite all the p r o n o u n c e m e n t s that the time has c o m e to forget a n d to forgive. T h e statement of the Rhineland S y n o d is a courageous attempt to c o m e to grips with the real questions posed by the Holocaust to the c h u r c h e s . It is the result of serious and engaged Christian rethinking in relatively small circles of people w h o dared to expose themselves to painful self-examination. T h e center of this m o v e m e n t has b e e n the working group of Christians a n d J e w s at the G e r m a n Protestant Kirchentag. T h e Kirchentag is a large gathering of Protestant Christians convening once in two years and attracting, in recent years, several hundred thousand participants, most of t h e m y o u n g laypeople. T h e y have
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b e e n a source of renewal of the church in Germany, although the relationship with the official, largely bureaucratic church structure is rather tense. O n e of the significant things in this working group was that Christians with the help of a small n u m b e r of the Jews w h o had remained in G e r m a n y , or settled here after the War, became engaged in serious efforts to c o m e to grips with the terrible recent past in the relations b e t w e e n Christians a n d Jews. Christians confronted themselves with this past not in isolation, alone with their guilt, but face-to-face with Jewish dialogue partners w h o helped t h e m to face this past a n d thus to set foot o n the w a y to a n e w future. Christians engaged in this process have experienced this as liberation and as inspiration for n e w Christian thinking. O n the Catholic side in G e r m a n y a similar process has taken place in the lay m o v e m e n t led by the Central Committee of G e r m a n Catholics, which organizes the so-called Katholikentag, an event similar to the Protestant Kirchentag. As a result of this Christian-Jewish dialogue against the background of a horrible past, creative theological thinking has taken place on the Christian side, which took its point of departure in the reflection on the relation b e t w e e n the church a n d the Jewish people but also affected other areas of theology. It b e c a m e very clear that b y dealing with Christian-Jewish relations o n e had to deal with the foundations of the Christian faith. Others received the opportunity to get acquainted with the research on Jewish tradition and history in the State of Israel, where Jewish scholars could examine the past of the Jewish people, especially those crucial centuries of the S e c o n d T e m p l e period, at the end of which Christianity emerged, with far less apologetics and defensiveness than was the case in the Diaspora. Christians w h o had the chance to study at the H e b r e w University of Jerusalem a n d other universities in Israel became deeply impressed by this scholarship, which h a d a great impact on their theological thinking. I a m writing this essay as o n e of those Christians: for thirteen years, from 1967 to 1980, I lived in Jerusalem as representative of the Netherlands Reformed Church especially assigned for ChristianJ e w i s h relations. Since 1980, w h e n I was appointed General Secretary of the International Council of Christians and J e w s which has its seat in the former residence of Martin Buber in H e p p e n h e i m in West G e r m a n y , I have come in close contact with the before-mentioned circles in G e r m a n y which with the help o f J e w i s h friends engaged in serious re-examination of their Christian thinking. In this essay I put into words m y o w n Christian thinking as it has b e e n influenced by
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these experiences in Jerusalem and Germany. It is an individual crystallization of insights which I received in those years. Is Christianity in essence anti-Jewish, as maintained by the N e w Testament scholar, Gerhard Kittel, editor of the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament? Kittel, w h o was a m e m b e r of Hitler's Nazi party, wrote that the N e w T e s t a m e n t was the " m o s t anti-Jewish book in the w h o l e w o r l d . " From a diametrically opposite point of view, that of a sharp critic o f the long anti-Jewish history of the church, the American theologian R o s e m a r y Ruether seems to share this thesis in writing that anti-Judaism is the left hand of christology. If this is so, can one, after the Holocaust, remain a Christian in good conscience? A n d w h e n o n e sees the age-long Christian anti-Judaism against the background of the other records of oppression and persecution in Christian hstory, e.g., of heretics, of w o m e n , o f colonized nations, and of people of different skin color, the question of the intrinsic moral quality of Christian thinking poses itself: Is Christian thinking in its very essence authoritarian, absolutistic, and exclusive? A n d to the extent that this is so, can that have to do with the origin of Christianity as a messianic m o v e m e n t that announced that the end of history had c o m e and claimed to bring the ultimate solution to the problems inherent in the h u m a n condition? A n East G e r m a n writer of Jewish descent, Stefan H e y m , said in his opening address to the 1982 annual convention of the International Council of Christians and J e w s in Berlin:
It seems that whenever the proponents of a doctrine promising salvation fail to deliver the goods within a reasonable space of time, they tend to create a rigid hierarchy and impose on their followers the discipline of rules and dogma in order to keep them in line; and woe to those who dare deviate from the ordained philosophy and its officially approved commentaries.
H e started his address with the words: " I n the beginning there was this false h o p e , " referring to the early Christians awaiting Jesus' fina} return in their lifetime, expecting the kingdom of Christ to be just around the corner. Is Kittel after all right in saying that there are n o more irreconcilable opponents in the world than real Judaism and real Christianity? If I honestly face the fact that the Jewish people and Judaism consciously decided not to accept Jesus as the o n e the church confessed him to b e , can I then as a Christian, i.e., from the depth of m y faith-commitment
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to J e s u s Christ, accept and affirm the Jewish people as still called by G o d to fulfill its God-given mission a n d Judaism as a valid response to this calling? T h e G e r m a n theologian Friedrich-Wilhelm Marquardt has concisely formulated the problem as follows: " W e will have Christian anti-Judaism only then behind us, w h e n theologically w e will have succeeded in making positive sense of the Jewish 'No' to Jesus." But let us first see, h o w w e can say " y e s " to the Jewish people o n the basis of our belief in Jesus Christ. O n l y then can w e deal with the J e w i s h " n o " to Jesus. C o m m o n to Judaism a n d Christianity is the belief that the h u m a n person lives b y the W o r d of G o d . But as w e consider h o w G o d speaks to us, J e w s and Christians do not s e e m to have anything in c o m m o n a n y m o r e . For J e w s , the W o r d of G o d par excellence is the Torah given to Israel on M o u n t Sinai in the double form o f the written Torah and the Torah orally transmitted in tradition. According to the Midrash, the voice of G o d on Sinai was e c h o e d in seven voices, a n d the seven voices changed into seventy languages, so that all nations could hear the W o r d of G o d . Therefore everybody can live b y the W o r d of God. For Christians, the W o r d of G o d par excellence is Jesus Christ, the W o r d of G o d that b e c a m e flesh, a h u m a n person, in Jesus Christ. G o d ' s Spirit was poured out on all flesh, according to the Pentecost story in the Acts of the Apostles, so that each in his o w n language heard about the mighty works of G o d . Everybody, therefore, can live b y the W o r d of G o d . T h e W o r d of G o d , w h e t h e r understood in a Jewish or a Christian s e n s e , has universal meaning: J e w s say it is the Torah; Christians say it is J e s u s Christ. This disagreement is even exacerbated by the traditional Christian claim that Jesus is the true W o r d of God, superseding a n d replacing the Torah. This claim has made possible " t h e greatest injustice in world history" about which v o n Harnack spoke in the above quotation. T h e preservation of "Judaism despite Christianity" which is inexplicable from a traditional Christian standpoint must be a "finger of G o d " for us, forcing us to rethink our traditional views. "Judaism despite Christianity" c o m e s from the title of the English translation of the profound correspondence b e t w e e n the Christian E u g e n Rosenstock and the J e w Franz Rosenzweig written at the front during the First World War. Let us therefore start again with what is c o m m o n to J e w s and Christians despite everything: the W o r d of God. W h a t does G o d say to us? O n e of the first attempts to express this in a short, concise statement is made in Micah 6:8: " H e has told you, O
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man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to be humble in going with your G o d ? " After God had created man and w o m a n in God's image as the governors of all creatures, God attached the phrase "very good" to the finished work. In this verse of Micah, good is doing justice, loving kindness, and being humble in going with G o d . In a h u m a n community where these requirements are fulfilled, God's image becomes visible. That is what God tells humanity through the Word of God. W h e n we look at Jewish tradition this is in a nutshell what the Torah spells out in great detail. T h e purpose of the Torah is to create such a community, and its final goal is that the whole of humanity will live according to these requirements of God, which in the Micah verse are addressed to " A d a m , " humanity. T h e n it will b e visible that " A d a m , " the whole of humanity, has b e e n created in the image of God.
Jesus was "Torah in the flesh/' a man who embodied Torah, all of whose actions were Torah.
As a Christian I confess " t h e W o r d b e c a m e flesh" (John 1:14). I believe that in this confession the " W o r d " should be understood in the sense of " T o r a h " a n d that thus " t h e W o r d b e c a m e flesh" should be understood as: " t h e Torah took o n flesh a n d b l o o d . " This means: Jesus was so to speak, " T o r a h in the flesh," a man w h o embodied Torah, all of w h o s e actions were Torah. In him b e c a m e transparent the purpose of the Torah to bring about a kind of h u m a n existence in w h i c h the image o f G o d is visible. All this is confirmed and strengthened as w e look at the picture drawn of J e s u s in the Synoptic Gospels. W h e n w e disregard for a m o m e n t such polemical passages as those regarding the scribes a n d Pharisees which reflect the tensions b e t w e e n the early Christian community a n d the Pharisee m o v e m e n t about forty years after Jesus' death, and look at what J e s u s actually said a n d did, then a genuinely J e w i s h picture e m e r g e s . T h e S e r m o n o n the M o u n t strongly resembles rabbinic teachings, a n d J e s u s ' parables and sayings find remarkable parallels in rabbinic literature. He lived a Jewish life, marked b y the sign of the covenant, the circumcision, from the eighth day of his life. H e w e n t to the synagogue a n d prayed Jewish prayers that even today are prayed in the synagogues all over the world. His life and behavior were articulated b y the c o m m a n d m e n t s given to
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M o s e s o n Sinai; h e contributed his share to interpreting the Torah, as the Pharisees did, to let it pervade and influence all areas of life in a time w h e n m a n y rules of behavior were not yet fixed, but were still a matter of debate and even controversy. H e shared Jewish h o p e s and expectations of redemption although h e m a y have rejected certain political expressions of these expectations, as did other Jews, notably a m o n g the Pharisees. Jewish and non-Jewish scholars confirm that J e s u s ' teachings stood very near to Pharisee teachings. In all this, Jesus put his o w n e m p h a s e s as was done by other great teachers. He w a s especially concerned about those J e w s w h o lived o n the margins of Jewish society and were looked at askance by the majority: tax collectors, prostitutes, and mentally and contagiously ill people. He wanted to bring these lost sons and daughters of Abraham back to the fold of the community of the covenant (see Luke 15:1-32; 19:1-10). W h e n I confess that " t h e Word became flesh" I affirm that in this Jewish life lived according to the Torah, in which the image of God b e c a m e visible, G o d speaks to m e . There is n o doubt that such a life according to the Torah has also been lived b y others than Jesus, Jews a n d non-Jews, before and after him. W h a t m a k e s the difference is the Resurrection. But here, too, w e are close to Pharisee conceptions. Since the time of the Maccabees the big religious question for many J e w s was h o w one could reconcile the justice of G o d with the fact that those w h o were faithful to the Torah were murdered and martyred. T h e way of life according to the Torah seems to c o m e to a dead end: as soon as the image of G o d b e c o m e s visible in a h u m a n being or a h u m a n community, it is destroyed b y the powers of evil. It is in response to these vexing questions that the belief in the resurrection of those w h o died as martyrs sanctifying the n a m e of G o d emerged in Judaism and b e c a m e strong especially in Pharisee circles. In the resurrection the martyrs were vindicated or justified b y G o d in the face of the powers of evil. Jesus, a Jew w h o lived according to the Torah, in w h o m the image of G o d was visible, also died as a martyr. A s so m a n y other J e w s , before and after him, h e died a typically Jewish death, a martyr's death, or, with a profound Jewish expression, a death for the sanctification of God's n a m e , on a R o m a n cross. At this point the crucial event takes place which is constituent for the Christian faith: the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Through this event J e s u s ' disciples find hard evidence that the image of G o d cannot be destroyed: " W h y seek ye the living a m o n g the d e a d ? " T h e Resurrection m e a n s that the path of the Torah does not c o m e to a dead end but is the way of life. It m e a n s that
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the W o r d of G o d which tells us what is good: to do justice, to love kindness a n d to b e humble in going with our G o d , is trustworthy, discloses the future, a n d is a source o f h o p e . W h e n I believe in Jesus as the Resurrected, I accept this W o r d of G o d . I base myself on the basic assumption and take the stubborn stance, that the image of G o d cannot be destroyed—not in any fellow h u m a n being (therefore I a m required to c o m e to the defense of those w h o s e h u m a n dignity is denied and in w h o m the image of G o d is violated), nor in myself (therefore I don't sink into despair, w h e n I find the forces of evil a n d sin working in myself). T h e preciousness a n d inviolability of the image of G o d in m y fellow h u m a n beings and in myself are proclaimed in the Resurrection of Jesus. T h e Resurrection means the vindication of Jesus as a Jew, as a person w h o was faithful to the Torah, as a martyr w h o participated in Jewish martyrdom for the sanctification of God's name. What else can this mean than the validation of the Torah and vindication of the Jewish people as God's beloved people? T h e Resurrection of Jesus confirms God's promises as well as God's commandments to the Jewish people. Nowhere does the N e w Testament say that Jews by believing in Jesus Christ would cease to observe the commandments. In the past Christians have always connected the Jews with the death of Christ: they were called Christ-killers, or the charge of deicide was thrown at them. I see the Jewish people in the light of the Resurrection. I see their survival throughout the centuries in the light of what the Resurrection means: the affirmation of the Torah, of the people of Israel, and of Jewish existence. Therefore Christian affirmation of the Jewish people ought to belong to the very center of the Christian faith. And if in the present the Jewish people gets a n e w chance to survive and revive, particularly through the existence of the State of Israel, I see this in the light of the Resurrection. Needless to say this does not mean blanket approval of what the State of Israel does. But if it is so good, w h y then is it so bad? H o w are the bitter controversy a n d hate b e t w e e n J e w s a n d Christians to be explained? It s e e m s that the crucial point of controversy w a s the Resurrection of Jesus as the decisive, eschatological act o f G o d , i.e., as the beginning of the great revolution that would "scatter the proud in the imagination o f their hearts, put d o w n the mighty from their thrones, exalt those of low degree, fill the h u n g r y with good things and send the rich e m p t y a w a y " (Luke 1:52 ff.) and would establish the n e w order of the kingdom of G o d governed by justice, peace, and joy (Rom. 14:7).The followers of J e s u s were deeply convinced that the
JEWISH "NO" AND CHRISTIAN "YES"
messianic age had arrived and that they were a community standing at the consummation of history and that the kingdom of God was just around the corner. A part of the early Christian community believed that in the light of the approaching divine revolution n e w rules were required with regard to the Gentiles. N o w in order for the Gentiles to join the covenant of God with Israel and thus enter the world to come (as a rabbinic saying has it: the whole of Israel has a share in the world to come) and b e saved from the Last Judgment, it was n o longer necessary to join the covenant of Sinai involving circumcision and the observance of the " 6 1 3 c o m m a n d m e n t s " of the Torah, but they could enter the covenant with the G o d of Israel through incorporation into the "body of Christ" and in this way get a share in the world to come. This understanding of the Resurrection as the eschatological act of God bringing about the n e w order of justice, peace, and j o y led the disciples of J e s u s to call him " m e s s i a h . " T h e majority of the Jewish community, however, did not perceive that what had happened to Jesus was the decisive turning point in history and did not share the conclusions drawn from it by the early Christian community, nor were they convinced that Jesus was the messiah, since in n o way was the n e w order coming about. Now after 1950 years the plain fact is that the divine revolution on which the early Christian community counted has not materialized. The church had to abandon the thought that it stood at the end of history. It continued to live within history, but by doing so it claimed to continue the history of Israel, to replace the Jewish people as God's people and to be the " t r u e " or the " n e w " Israel. Jesus, n o w designated with the n a m e " m e s s i a h , " remained the central figure of this community, but n o longer as the eschatological figure w h o fulfills the Torah, but as the normative figure w h o replaces the Torah, so that the Torah was n o longer the norm, but Jesus Christ became the norm of thought and action. Although the church maintains that Jesus has fulfilled the Torah, in reality the Torah remains unfulfilled, because the n e w world order of doing justice, loving kindness, and being humble in going with G o d has not yet c o m e to humanity. At this point we meet the Jewish " n o " to the claims made by the church for Jesus. As Friedrich-Wilhelm Marquardt has pointed out, this Jewish " n o " is an expression of Jewish faithfulness to the Torah, to its God-given calling. This is the dignity of the Jewish " n o " to Jesus.
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J e w s k n o w that as long as the world is not redeemed, and the image of G o d has not yet b e c o m e visible in the w h o l e of humanity, they have to remain faithful to the Torah. T h u s is the Jewish people a constant reminder to the church that w e still live in an u n r e d e e m e d world. This m e a n s that their enmity toward the gospel is an enmity for our sake, to speak with Paul (Rom. 11:28).
Jews know that as long as the world is not redeemed, and the image of God has not yet become visible in the whole of humanity, they have to remain faithful to the Torah.
T h e church is often inclined to evaluate the significance of cross and Resurrection so highly that it falls into the temptation of a "realized eschatology." T h e light which it has seen in J e s u s Christ is so shining that it often blinds its eyes for the darkness and the evil that still exist in the world. T h e G e r m a n N e w T e s t a m e n t scholar, Peter von der O s t e n - S a c k e n has drawn our attention to a process that already started in the N e w Testament: Since the consummation of history did not take place within the expected span of time of, at the most, o n e generation, the conclusion drawn by the early Christian community was not that the struggle of the risen J e s u s against the powers of evil was much m o r e laborious a n d tiring than originally expected. Instead, the response was often to ascribe to Jesus in heaven more and more power and might, a n d to make h i m m o r e and more equal to God and to minimize the subordination of Christ to G o d at the end of time (see I Cor. 15:28). This has led to a triumphalistic attitude in the church ignoring the struggle to b e waged for justice a n d peace on earth. It has also led to a tendency to look away from the earth and expect salvation in heavenly, transcendental spheres. T h e claim to possess the invisible salvation led further to authoritarian a n d intolerant attitudes to those (e.g., the Jews) w h o were not prepared to accept this claim. T h e " n o " of the J e w s to the elevated claims made b y the church for Jesus is the reverse of their faithfulness to the Torah, their h o p e for the world's redemption. This " n o " that Paul could not but describe as " a hardening that has c o m e u p o n part of Israel" (Rom. 11:25), is n o w , after nearly twenty centuries, to b e valued positively by Christians as the hard shell to preserve the love for the Torah in a world that is still awaiting redemption. Let us b e honest and recognize that both Israel and the church are
JEWISH "NO" A N D CHRISTIAN "YES"
still far away from the expected redemption. Instead of standing as the eschatological community at the end of history, the church has entered history as a community parallel and often in rivalry and conflict with the Jewish people. T h e net result of the messianic outburst that took place in the year 33 within the Jewish community, as a response to the events around Jesus of Nazareth, has been that a new access, a n e w gate, in particular for non-Jews, has b e e n opened to the w a y of the Lord which began with Abraham (Gen. 18:19) and will end in the kingdom of G o d . It is not true that the church has replaced Israel or has taken over its vocation. Both Israel and the church await the fulfillment of the Torah, w h e n the image of God will be visible in the whole of humanity. T h e J e w s await this final Day incorporated in the people of Israel, the Christians incorporated in the body o f Christ. And both are judged by the same G o d to w h o m they have to answer, if they have b e e n faithful to their particular vocation. T h e J e w s have expressed their faithfulness in a " n o " to Jesus as his church tried to take the Torah away from them. Christians may express their faithfulness in their " y e s " to Jesus w h o embodied the Torah, and therefore also in a " y e s " to his brothers and sisters, the Jewish people.
NOTES 1. Zur Erneuerung des Verhaltnisses von Christen und Juden, Handreichung der Evangelischen Kirche in Rheinland, Nr. 39 (Mulheim, 1980), pp. 8-28; also in B. Klappert, H. Stark, eds., Umkehr und Erneuerung; Erlauterungen zum Synodalbeshluss der Rheinischen Landessynode 1980 "Zur Erneuerung des Verhaltnisses von Christen und Juden" (Neukirchen-Vluyn; Neukirchener Verlag, 1980), pp. 263-81. 2. "ErwSgungen zur kirchlichen Handreichung zur Erneuerung des Verhaltnisses von Christen und Juden" in Dokumentation des Evangelischen Pressedienstes (Frankfurt am Main, Sept. 29, 1980). 3. In G. B. Ginzel, ed., Auschwitz als Herausforderung fur Juden und Christen (Heidelberg: Verlag Lambert Schneider, 1980), p. 176. 4. Hanna Wolff, Neuer Wein-Alte Schlauche; das Identita'tsproblem des Christentums im Lichte der Tiefenpsychologie (Stuttgart: Radius Verlag, 1981). 5. Adolf von Harnack, Die Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten (Leipzig, 1902), p. 50 (quotation translated by this author). 6. Gerhard Kittel, Die Judenfrage, 2nd ed., 1933, p. 61 (quoted in J. S. Vos, 'Politiek en Exegese; Gerhard Kittelsbeeld vanhet jodendom,' in Verkenningen Bezinning, 17e Jaargang, no. 2, September, 1983, p. 13). 7. Stefan Heym, 'Keynote Address to Christians and J e w s / in From the Martin Buber House, issue no. 2, December, 1982, p. 8. 8. Friedrich-Wilhelm Marquardt, "Feinde um unsretwillen; 'Das judische Nein und die christlicheTheologie," in Peter von der Osten-Sacken, ed. Treue zur Thora, Beitr&ge zur Mitte des christlich-judischen Gesprachs; Festschrift fur Gunther Harder zum 75. Geburtstag, 2nd ed. (Berlin: Institut Kirche und Judentum, 1979), p. 174; 1st ed. 1977. (Quotation translated by this author.) 9. This author's translation from the Hebrew. 10. Peter von der Osten-Sacken, Grundzuge einer Theologie im christliche-judischen Gesprach (Munchen: Kaiser Verlag, 1982), pp. 139, 182. 63
HESCHEL'S SIGNIFICANCE FOR JEWISH-CHRISTIAN RELATIONS
A b r a h a m J o s h u a H e s c h e l did his b e s t to h e l p Christians understand they could overcome their failure and b e c o m e truly h u m a n . W e all have our stories to tell about Abraham Joshua Heschel— allow me to tell one also, a story I received from a friend: The Jesuit Daniel Kilfoyle was one of the founders of Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam. After the first few meetings he was forbidden by his superiors to remain with the group. Kilfoyle decided to go to one more meeting, so that he could tell his friends in person why he would not be able to stay with them. Heschel sat across the table from him as he spoke. W h e n he had finished, Heschel got up, came around to where Daniel was sitting, and embraced him saying: " Y o u are my brother!" In some mysterious way Abraham Heschel, the Jew, respected the Jesuit's decision to obey and understood his pain.
What was it about Heschel that gave him this capacity for understanding a tradition and a discipline that were—at least in this case—quite alien to his o w n , a discipline which, by the 1960s, even some Catholics had difficulty in understanding and accepting? H o w was it that, less than three m o n t h s after his death, America magazine published an entire issue dedicated to Heschel, in which Protestant and Catholic scholars joined with Jewish scholars in paying tribute to Heschel? J o h n Bennett, at the time president of Union Theological Seminary where Heschel had b e e n a visiting professor, wrote in that issue that " A b r a h a m Heschel belonged to the whole American
Eva Fleischner is professor of religion at Montclair State College in New Jersey and a member of the Bishops' Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations. She is the author of Views of Judaism in German Christian Theology since 1945 (Scarecrow, 1975) and of a Holocaust bibliography and a number of articles. She also edited Auschwitz: Beginning of a New Era? (KTAV, 1977). This essay was originally delivered at a Heschel Symposium at the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn., in 1983. It has been shortened for publication here, but the full version will appear in a volume to be published by McMillan. 64
religious community. I k n o w of no other person of w h o m this was so true. . . . He s e e m e d equally at h o m e with Protestants and Catho l i c s , " W e have all heard the tributes paid him by the Christian theologians at this symposium. Jewish scholars also bear witness to Heschel's impact o n Christians. Samuel Dresner wrote of Heschel's "fraternity with the Christian c o m m u n i t y . " A n d in a paper given at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Marc T a n e n b a u m said that " A m e r i c a n s of all religions and races discovered in Heschel a rare religious genius o f penetrating insight a n d c o m p a s s i o n . " H o w do w e explain this extraordinary p h e n o m e n o n : a Jewish religious thinker, utterly and profoundly Jewish, w h o touched and affected not just the lives, but the thought of Christian theologians? I h o p e to throw s o m e light on this question b y examining the role that Heschel played in bringing J e w s a n d Christians closer to each other. I shall approach m y subject in three parts: First, I shall examine those writings of Heschel in which h e speaks explicitly of the relationship b e t w e e n Judaism a n d Christianity. To this group belong not only passages that reveal Heschel's remarkable understanding of a n d sympathy for Christianity, but also his trenchant and honest—at times painfully honest—articulation of Christian failure, Christian sin vis-^-vis Judaism in the course of history, such as the attempts at forced conversion, the "Teaching of C o n t e m p t , " and Christianity's role in the Holocaust. T h e second section will deal with Heschel's influence on the Second Vatican Council. It is closely related to the first, but I examine it separately because of the historical importance o f Vatican II for the religious history of the twentieth century in general, and for Christianity's relationship to Judaism in particular. In the third and last part I shall briefly look at Heschel's work more broadly, to see h o w A b r a h a m Joshua Heschel the J e w , Heschel the Hasid, has influenced Christianity today. While the theme of this paper—Jewish-Christian reconciliation—will be implicit rather than explicit here, this area m a y well prove to be Heschel's most enduring a n d profound impact on Christianity. It can perhaps b e seen as the source a n d wellspring o f the first two parts o f m y paper. O n e c o m m o n thread runs through all three sections: the great-heartedness, the generous, deeply caring figure of Abraham Heschel. His personal impact o n Christians— w h e t h e r o n renowned theologians, popes and cardinals, or on large lay audiences, such as the gathering at the 1969 Milwaukee Liturgical Conference—was as immediate and profound as was the impact of his writings, O r to put it
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in a Jewish way: word and deed were always at one in the life of this holy man.
THE RELATIONSHIP OF JEWS AND CHRISTIANS TODAY AND IN HISTORY
Heschel w a s profoundly optimistic about Jewish-Christian rela tions. In a 1966 article h e spoke of the n e w atmosphere of mutual esteem that had c o m e about, and rejoiced in the fact that he n o w had Protestant a n d Catholic students in his c l a s s e s . It was an important time for him: he had recently b e c o m e visiting professor at Union THeological Seminary, and his hard work during Vatican II had borne fruit. He saw the ecumenical m o v e m e n t as a n e w horizon of hitherto unimagined possibilities. But his optimism was not a facile one. Just as during Vatican II it h a d taken m u c h faith a n d perseverance for him to continue to believe that an ancient a n d often sordid history could b e turned around, so too there remained m o m e n t s of discouragement. Jacob T e s h i m a , a student of his at Jewish Theological Seminary, recalls going for a walk with Heschel right after the Munich massacre. Heschel spoke with anguish: " O h , h o w I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. But look at the cool indifference of the world's Christians! . . . " He k n e w times of discouragement, probably m a n y more than w e are aware of. But h e did not allow t h e m to overcome his hope or to paralyze his efforts to bring J e w s a n d Christians closer to each other.
Heschel's theological impact on Christians is all the more striking because he believed that certain limits must b e respected in the dialogue. T h u s h e held that J e w s a n d Christians should not discuss the figure of C h r i s t . Christology was out of b o u n d s because Heschel believed that each religion is entitled to the privacy of its holy of holies; J u d a i s m too " m u s t always be mindful of the mystery of aloneness a n d uniqueness of its o w n b e i n g . " W h a t then was the ground for Heschel o n which J e w s and Christians could meet face to face and engage each other in meaningful conversation? J e w s a n d Christians have much in c o m m o n but are also separated. T h e differences must b e explored, along with the vast heritage which they share. C o m m o n ground a n d separation are both necessary and should be affirmed. For each c o m m u n i t y must retain its identity, while respecting a n d understanding the other. This m e a n s that w e must understand what w e have in c o m m o n , as well as what divides us. T o slight either would make our conversation meaningless. T h e
question for Heschel was always: H o w can w e talk with each other out of our specific and partly different commitment of J e w s and Christians? Out of commitment, not without commitment.
The question for Heschel was always: How can we talk with each other out of our specific and partly different commitment of Jews and Christians? Out of commitment, not without commitment.
In every God-human relationship—and this relationship w a s at the heart of all that Heschel wrote and did—there are four dimensions: creed or teaching; faith or the assent of the heart; law or deed, which concretizes the first two; and the context in which faith is lived in history, the c o m m u n i t y . W e are united in the dimension of the deed b y our c o m m o n concern for safeguarding and enhancing the divine image in our fellow h u m a n beings, by building a world where justice and freedom can prevail. T h e r e is commonality also in the realm o f faith (which for Heschel is always distinct from creed): our awareness of " t h e tragic insufficiency of h u m a n faith," even at its best, our anguish and pain in falling so far short of the divine c o m m a n d , in being callous and hardhearted in response to G o d ' s invitation. All this unites us. A n d what divides us? Creed, dogma: " T h e r e is a deep chasm b e t w e e n Christians and J e w s concerning . . . the divinity and the Messiahship of J e s u s . " Yet the c h a s m need not b e a source of hostility. For, " t o turn a disagreement about the identity of this 'Anointed' into an act of apostasy from G o d Himself seems to m e neither logical nor c h a r i t a b l e . " T h e c h a s m remains, but w e can extend our h a n d s to each other across it provided w e are willing to recognize that doctrine, all doctrine, can only point the way: it can never hold fast the mystery of G o d . T h e goal of our journey is not doctrine but faith; along the way doctrines can serve as signposts, but "the righteous lives by . . . faith, not b y . . . creed. A n d faith . . . involves profound awareness of the inadequacy of words, concepts, deeds. Unless w e realize that dogmas are tentative rather than final . . . w e are guilty o f intellectual i d o l a t r y . " T h e challenge for Heschel was not h o w to relate to a religious institution different from his o w n , but rather, to h u m a n beings w h o worship God in another way, " w h o worship G o d as followers of
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J e s u s , " Can J e w s accept this different way as valid? Can they not just tolerate it, but revere it as holy? Heschel's a n s w e r is an unequivocal yes (we shall see later that h e asks no less of Christians). This yes is based on two convictions— both, I believe, revolutionary not only fifteen years ago but still today. The first, strongly held and repeatedly affirmed, is Heschel's belief in religious pluralism; not as an evil necessity of which we must grudgingly make the best, but as desire, even delight, of God. "God's voice speaks in many languages, communicating itself in a diversity of intuitions." W h y should it not be God's will in this earthly eon that there be a diversity of religions, a variety of paths to God? Heschel finds no evidence in history that a single religion for the citizens even of o n e country is a blessing. Rather, the task o f preparing the kingdom of God seems to him to require a diversity of talents, a variety of rituals, "soul-searching as well a s . . . loyal opposition." In his December 10, 1972, interview with Carl Stern, which was to be his last gift to us, h e asked Stern if he would really want all the paintings in the Metropolitan to be alike; or, would the world be a more fascinating place if all h u m a n faces were the same? In this eon, at least, diversity of religion seems to him to be the will of God, with the prospect of all peoples embracing one form of worship reserved for the world to c o m e . It is not diversity of belief that is responsible for today's crisis; w e stand o n the edge of the abyss "not because w e intensely disagree, but because w e feebly agree. Faith, not indifference, is the condition for interfaith."
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A second conviction underlies Heschel's belief that respect of each other's differences is both necessary and good: his insistence that religion and G o d are not identical. Religion is only a m e a n s , not the e n d . It b e c o m e s idolatrous w h e n regarded as an end in itself. T h e majesty of G o d transcends the dignity of religion. There is only one absolute loyalty in w h i c h all our loyalties have their root, and to which they are subservient, loyalty to G o d , "the loyalty of all m y l o y a l t i e s . " God alone is absolute. Everything else, w h e n it b e c o m e s its own end, runs the risk o f being idolatrous. Therefore religion stands under constant j u d g m e n t and in n e e d o f repentance and self-examination. T h e s e words, written by Heschel with reference to Vatican II and the church's n e e d always again to reform itself, had a wider application for him to all religions, including his o w n . The relationship b e t w e e n J e w s and Christians which is forged out of our c o m m o n ground and differences is today threatened by a c o m m o n crisis. W e live in a time w h e n all that w e hold most dear is in danger of being lost: moral sensitivity, justice, peace, our whole
biblical heritage, the very survival of G o d ' s presence in the world. Because the crisis is universal, J e w s and Christians must work together to save the world from destruction, to preserve those values that make life h u m a n and worth living. W e can h o p e to succeed only through a joint effort; w e need each other, because the task is too overwhelming for each of us alone. Are w e ready to face the challenge? This is h o w Heschel describes our c o m m o n task: " T h e supreme issue is today not the halakah for the J e w or the Church for the Christian. . ,; the supreme issue is w h e t h e r w e are alive or dead to the challenge and the expectation o f the living G o d . T h e crisis engulfs all of us. T h e misery and fear of alienation from G o d make J e w and Christian cry t o g e t h e r . " W e really have n o choice. Either w e work together to k e e p G o d alive in the world, or w e will both be engulfed by nihilism, which Heschel sees as a worldwide counterforce to the ecumenical m o v e m e n t . Because w e confront the same dangers and terrors, and stand together on the brink, "parochialism has become untenable . . . n o religion is an island. W e are all involved with one another, . . . Today religious isolationism is a m y t h . "
The current need for Jews and Christians to work together is, however, more than a strategic necessity for Heschel; it is rooted in history. W e are linked historically, and the destiny of one impinges on the destiny o f the other. It has always been so. Even in the Middle Ages, Jews lived in only relative isolation and acknowledged that Christian ity's spiritual impact o n the world was important also to them. " I f the non-Jews of a certain town are moral, the Jews born there will be moral as well." Heschel quotes Rabbi Joseph Yaabez, one of the victims of the Inquisition, who blessed God for the faith of Christians, without which " w e might ourselves become infirm in our faith." And yet, despite such moments of insight and recognition, our history is full of prejudice and bigotry. "This is the agony of history: bigotry, the failure to respect each other's commitment, each other? s faith." H o w can w e be cured of our bigotry? H o w can we learn to rejoice in one another's triumphs rather than each other's defeats? The answer for Heschel lies in the awareness of our common humanity, which for him is never mere humanity. Meeting another h u m a n being offers m e an opportunity to encounter the divine presence here on earth. In the other's presence I stand on holy ground. W h y should this holiness disappear if the other holds religious beliefs that differ from mine? "Does God cease to stand before m e ? Does the difference in commitment destroy the kinship of being h u m a n ? " Heschel again looks to his own tradition for an answer. " T h e pious
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of all nations have a share in the world to c o m e and are promised eternal l i f e . " J e w s must therefore respect the faith of Christians. T h e y must do more. Following the tradition of Maimonides, Jehuda Halevi, and Jacob E m d e n , they must acknowledge Christianity's positive role in the divine plan of r e d e m p t i o n . Because of Israel's mysterious election ("in you shall all the tribes o f the earth be b l e s s e d " [Gen. 12:3] ) , Judaism has a vital stake in the spiritual life of other peoples, particularly Christians, through w h o m the message of the living God has spread to the ends o f the earth. Unlike s o m e Jewish thinkers w h o , while acknowledging Christianity's debt to Judaism, see the relationship as a one-way street, Heschel believes that the mother cannot ignore her children. Heschel d e m a n d s n o less of Christians, however, than h e demands of himself and his fellow Jews: genuine acceptance of and respect for Judaism. This implies several " p r e c e p t s , " which Heschel spells out quite clearly. I believe h e felt the freedom to do so because they concern the history of Christianity, rather than its central affirmation of faith in Christ.
All attempts to convert Jews must be abandoned, for they are a call to Jews to abandon their people's tradition.
T h e first " p r e c e p t " is n o more mission to the Jews. All attempts to convert J e w s must b e abandoned, for they are a call to J e w s to betray their people's tradition, and proof o f the failure to accept Judaism as a way of truth, a w a y to G o d , valid in its o w n right. Renouncing mission to the J e w s requires a major change in the church's attitude. " F o r nineteen h u n d r e d years the Church defined her relation to the J e w s in o n e word: Mission. W h a t w e witness n o w is the beginning of a change in that relation, a transition from mission to dialogue.. . . W e must insist that giving u p the idea o f mission to the Jews be accepted as a precondition for entering dialogue." T h e problem, however, is that m a n y Christians are still not sufficiently sensitive to this issue, and do not understand that " w e are J e w s as w e are m e n . " Heschel recalls his conversation with Gustav Weigel the night before Weigel's death. T h e y talked in Heschel's study at Jewish Theological Seminary.
We opened our hearts to one another in prayer and contrition and spoke of our own deficiencies, failures, hopes. At one moment I posed the question: Is it really the will of God that there be no more Judaism in the world? Would it really be the triumph of God if the scrolls of the Torah would no more be taken out of the Ark and the Torah no more be read in the Synagogue, our ancient Hebrew prayers in which Jesus himself worshipped no more recited, the Passover Seder no more celebrated in our lives, the Law of Moses no more observed in our homes? Would it really be ad tnajorem Dei gloriam to have a world without J e w s ?
As I reflected on this passage some time ago I began to w o n d e r what Weigel had said in reply. Heschel does not tell us. I thought that perhaps Mrs. Heschel would know, so I went to see her. She r e m e m b e r e d Heschel coming h o m e late that night very m o v e d by his conversation with Weigel, but did not recall his speaking of the Jesuit's response. So the two o f us sat there wondering and talking, and soon we were j o i n e d by S u s a n n a h Heschel and a friend, w h o were visiting that Sunday. W e read the w h o l e passage aloud, slowly. A n d suddenly the a n s w e r emerged, quite clearly. " W e opened our hearts to o n e another in prayer and contrition and spoke of our own deficiencies, failures, h o p e s . " That was h o w their discussion began: in prayer and contrition. H o w could Fr. Weigel's response to what followed have b e e n anything but a profound affirmation of Judaism as Judaism? T h e four of us, as w e sat in the Heschels' living room that sunny Sunday afternoon, felt in agreement, reassured, and at peace. " W o u l d it really be to the greater glory of God to have a world without J e w s ? " W h e n presented in such terms, it is difficult to imagine even the most fundamentalist of Christians answering, yes! But alas, we do not have enough Heschels in the world—men, and w o m e n , w h o s e love of their G o d and people and tradition is so radiant that it is quite obviously sacred, so that it becomes inconceivable to wish it away. Convert Heschel to Christianity? A monstrous idea. It is unlikely that the effort was ever m a d e . W h y , then, the profound indignation that resounds in his famous—and to m a n y o f us so shocking—statement, made at the time of Vatican II and repeated still in the 1972 Stern interview: " I ' d rather go to Auschwitz than be the object of conversion"? His indignation was n o doubt rooted in his identification with his people's repeated suffering in the course of history and the fear that, unless Vatican II explicitly renounced mission to the Jews, the indignity and suffering would continue.
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Fortunately, H e s c h e l saw signs o f h o p e in our time, among both Catholics and Protestants. I shall deal with Vatican II below, but let m e quote here a few words in this context: 'T must say that I found understanding for our sensitivity and position on this issue on the part of distinguished leaders of the R o m a n Catholic C h u r c h . " S o m e Protestant theologians also had b e g u n publicly to reject missionary activity to the J e w s — a m o n g t h e m Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich. At a joint meeting o f the faculties of Jewish Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary, Niebuhr repudiated Christian mission ary activity in part because " 'Practically nothing can purify the symbol of Christ as the image of G o d in the imagination of the J e w from the taint with which ages of Christian oppression in the name of Christ have tainted it.' " This is a reference to what has come to b e called the " T e a c h i n g of C o n t e m p t . " R e n o u n c i n g all such teaching is the second " p r e c e p t " incumbent today u p o n Christians w h o are sincere in their desire to take Judaism seriously. It is n o easy task. T h e problem is almost as old as Christianity. Christianity was born o f Judaism, but "the children did not arise to call the mother blessed; instead, they called her b l i n d . " T h e original affirmation b e c a m e repudiation, Jewish faith came to be seen as superseded and obsolete, the n e w covenant as abolishing and replacing the first. "Contrast and contradiction rather than acknowl edgment of roots, relatedness and indebtedness, became the perspective." A s we today k n o w so well, this perspective was to have tragic consequences, once Christianity emerged from its initial status of a persecuted minority religion and b e c a m e linked with the power of the R o m a n Empire. Heschel is painfully aware of the heavy burden o f guilt which Christianity has incurred vis-^-vis Judaism over the centuries, including a share in the Holocaust. In his talk On Prayer at the 1969 Liturgical Conference in Milwaukee h e said: "It is with shame and anguish that I recall that it was possible for a R o m a n Catholic church adjoining the extermination c a m p in Auschwitz to offer c o m m u n i o n to the officers o f the c a m p , to people w h o day after day drove thousands of people to b e killed in the gas c h a m b e r s . " T h e first four words of this sentence strike m e as truly extraordinary. Heschel speaks here of the failure—the gigantic failure—of a major religious c o m m u n i t y not his own; yet h e uses the word " s h a m e . " Are w e ever ashamed of the sins of others? W e may be shocked and scandalized, w e m a y accuse and blame. But w e are ashamed only if in s o m e way w e feel related to, identified with, these
27 2 S 29 30 31 32
others—if, in other words, they are not totally " o t h e r " to us. H o w are w e to explain H e s c h e l ' s u s e of the word in this context? It s e e m s to m e that, for him, the failure of the church is not simply failure of the church, but threatens faith everywhere; it is a warning to all w h o would call themselves religious, a sign that w e all have lost our ability to be shocked at the monstrous evil all about u s . It was this that m a d e Auschwitz possible; we must regain our moral sensitivity. A n d so he continues, in the very next sentence; " L e t there be an end to the separation of church and G o d , . ., of religion a n d justice, of prayer and c o m p a s s i o n . " T h e Holocaust raises the issue of the complicity and silence of the churches as n o other event in Western history does. This has become a scandal for Jews and, I a m glad to say, for many Christians as well. For some Jews, the scandal is so great that they refuse all dialogue—I can understand them. Others are willing to enter into conversation with Christians, but wonder whether Christianity has lost its credibility since Auschwitz. I can understand them also—some Christians have raised the same question. Heschel's reaction, however, appears different to m e . Here he is, at the Liturgical Conference, speaking in very strong terms of the failure of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet his words are not so much an accusation directed at Catholics as a warning to religious people, to religious institutions, everywhere. What could so easily and understandably have become yet another wall between us becomes instead a source of anguish at h u m a n frailty, a frailty from which none of us—not Jews, not Christians—are exempt. " W e have n o triumph to report except the slow, painstaking effort to redeem single moments in the lives of single men, in the lives of small communities. W e do not come on the clouds of heaven but grope through the mists of history." Notice the " w e , " again a matter of terminology/ seemingly small perhaps, yet so significant. H e s c h e l ' s concern with the plight of being h u m a n , with the tragedy of the h u m a n condition, cuts across all religious creeds. W e are all sinners, J e w s and Christians alike. Perhaps it is this awareness, this d e e p sense of " w e - n e s s , " that enables him to refrain from c o n d e m n i n g Christians. I at least do not feel c o n d e m n e d as I read him, nor do I feel that m y church is c o n d e m n e d by this man—not even w h e n he points to our sins during the Holocaust. Indeed, I have heard s o m e Christians speak much more harshly of Christianity's failure at that time; I have spoken of it m u c h more harshly myself. Is there not s o m e d e e p font o f compassion in Heschel for all h u m a n creatures, everywhere, without exception, a compassion which is s o m e h o w lacking—or at least diminished—in
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me, in many of us? I a m not sure. But I do know that his refusal to condemn is profoundly healing. I believe it is one of his greatest gifts to us as we strive for reconciliation. H e was not blind—far from it: he saw more clearly than many. "His was not the simplicity of i n n o c e n c e . " Yet he does not judge or condemn. It is as if h e suffers with us who have failed. And this, after all, is the literal meaning of compassion. " A s long as there is a shred of hatred in the h u m a n heart, as long as there is a vacuum without compassion a n y w h e r e in the world, there is an e m e r g e n c y . " A n d w h y is there so m u c h hatred and rage? " B e c a u s e w e do not k n o w h o w to r e p e n t . " But if all are in the same predicament, there is also h o p e for all. "History is not a blind alley, and guilt is not an abyss. There is always a way that leads out of guilt: repentance or turning to G o d . " It is typical of Heschel that the overcoming of hostility, the healing of ancient w o u n d s , is a task for both communities. He calls upon J e w s to ponder seriously the responsibility in J e w i s h history for having given birth to two world religions. T h e children did not arise to call the mother blessed but, h e asks—it is his question, I would not dare ask—"does not the failure of children reflect u p o n their mother? D o not the sharp deviations from Jewish tradition o n the part of the early Christians w h o w e r e J e w s indicate s o m e failure of communication within the spiritual climate of first-century P a l e s t i n e ? " Heschel asks this question after centuries of Christian defamation and persecution of Jews; after the Holocaust. . . . Again in typical fashion, h e moves from the problem, the difficulty, the tragedy, to the opportunity, the n e w possibility, the hope. Christianity's turning away from the ancient and pernicious teaching is only the first stage in a n e w era o f friendship between Christians and Jews. Heschel believes that w e live in a uniquely privileged m o m e n t of time, w h e n Christians look to J e w s with w o n d e r and hope, a fact which confronts J e w s in turn with a n e w challenge: " W e J e w s are being put to a n e w test. Christians, in m a n y parts o f the world, have suddenly b e g u n to look at the J e w s with astonishment. In particular, the attitude of the Christian community in America is undergoing a change. Instead of hostility, there is expectation. . . . M a n y Christians believe that we J e w s carry the Tablets in our arms, hugging t h e m lovingly. T h e y believe that w e continue to relish and nurture the w i s d o m that G o d has entrusted to us, that w e are loaded with spiritual t r e a s u r e s . " Permit m e here to quote a brief excerpt from the 1973 French Bishops' Guidelines for Christians in their Relationship with Jews, which is
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proof, I believe, that Heschel's hope was not overly sanguine: The permanence of this people through the ages, its survival over civilizations, its presence as a rigorous and exacting partner vis h vis Christianity are a fact of major importance which we can treat neither with ignorance nor with contempt. The Church which claims to speak in the name of Jesus Christ and which through Him finds itself bound, since its origin and forever, to the Jewish people, perceives in the centuries-long and uninterrupted existence of this people a sign the full truth of which it would like to understand.
This n e w Christian expectation is a challenge to the Jewish community, a kairos. " H e r e is a unique responsibility. S u c h occasions come rarely twice. Are w e prepared for the t e s t ? " H e at least did what he could to meet it. Fritz Rothschild has written that, w h e n asked later w h y h e had let himself b e c o m e involved with Vatican II, Heschel replied: " T h e issues at stake were profoundly theological. To refuse contact with Christian theologians is, to m y mind, barbarous. T h e r e is a great expectation a m o n g Christians today that Judaism has something unique to o f f e r . " A n d so h e allowed himself to b e c o m e involved with Vatican II—"involved" is too weak a word. H e gave o f himself tirelessly during the council, to the point of exhaustion at times, on one occasion traveling to R o m e for a special audience with Pope Paul VI literally o n the eve of Y o m Kippur. Let m e at this point m o v e into the second part of m y paper and consider Heschel's role at Vatican II.
HESCHEL AND THE SECOND VATICAN C O U N C I L "
It is generally k n o w n that Heschel played an important role at Vatican II, although a detailed study o n his contribution has yet to a p p e a r . During the preparatory stage Heschel acted as consultant to the American Jewish Committee and other Jewish agencies, which had b e e n asked by Cardinal Bea's Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity to prepare background documentation for the council. With Heschel's help three m e m o r a n d a were submitted to Cardinal Bea. T h e first two dealt with various problem areas in Catholic teaching and liturgy. In a third, submitted in M a y , 1962, Heschel proposed that a n e w beginning b e m a d e with a Vatican Council declaration that would recognize the " p e r m a n e n t preciousness" of J e w s as J e w s , rather than seeing t h e m as potential converts, and that would expressly repudiate anti-Semitism and the deicide c h a r g e .
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In February, 1962, the year in which the council was to open, three of Heschel's books were sent to Cardinal Bea, w h o warmly acknowledged them "as a strong c o m m o n spiritual bond between u s . " The books were God in Search of Man, Man Is Not Alone, and The Sabbath. Discussion of the Declaration on the J e w s was postponed to the second session, scheduled to o p e n in September, 1963. In the spring of that year Cardinal Bea visited the United States, speaking at Harvard and in N e w York City. Heschel chaired a private meeting between Bea and a group of Jewish leaders and was the speaker at an interfaith banquet held in the cardinal's honor, which was attended by U . N . officials a n d political and religious leaders. O n this occasion Heschel addressed the c o m m o n threat faced by all h u m a n beings today, the threat of evil, of the darkness all about us, a darkness of our o w n making. He also spoke of the great spiritual renewal inspired by P o p e J o h n XXIII. Pope J o h n died o n J u n e 4 , 1963, and the second session opened in September under his successor, Paul V I , w h o supported the secretariat's position with regard to the Jewish people. T h e promising beginning that had b e e n made was, however, destined to undergo m u c h turbulence and controversy. Despite the support of Paul V I , opposition to the proposed declaration grew and pressures on the secretariat b e g a n to m o u n t . In N o v e m b e r , 1963, Heschel wrote to Cardinal B e a , expressing his d e e p concern that the theme of conversion o f the J e w s had b e e n introduced into a n e w text. A n e w version of this draft appeared in a newspaper story shortly before the third session was to open. T h e original text had b e e n watered down, and the h o p e was expressed for the Jews' eventual conversion. In a statement o f S e p t e m b e r 3, 1964, Heschel strongly c o n d e m n e d the n e w version. His harshest words were reserved for the theme of conversion, and s h o w that h e could, if necessary, be sarcastic—a tone which was generally quite alien to him: it must be stated that spiritual fratricide is hardly a means of "reciprocal understanding." . . . Jews throughout the world will be dismayed by a call from the Vatican to abandon their faith in a generation which witnessed the massacre of six million J e w s . . . on a continent where the dominant religion was not Islam, Buddhism, or Shintoism. T h e situation w a s so critical that the A J C arranged an audience for Heschel with P o p e Paul VI for S e p t e m b e r 1 4 , 1 9 6 4 , literally the eve of
Y o m Kippur. Despite the great personal inconvenience to him, Heschel felt h e must go. T h e audience lasted thirty-five minutes, and Heschel later described the pope as having b e e n friendly and cordial. Maneuvering in both camps continued into the fourth session. Eventually e n o u g h support for the earlier text was marshalled so that the document that was officially approved o n October 28, 1965, and which w e k n o w as Nostra Aetate, did not make any reference to proselytizing. It was greeted with a mixture of relief and regret; as admittedly a compromise, but also, as making possible a new beginning. There is n o doubt that the latter view has indeed been vindicated b y developments that have taken place since then—devel o p m e n t s which are greatly indebted to A b r a h a m Heschel. Let m e speak briefly about what I call the aftermath of Heschel's involvement in Vatican II, both from his point of view and from that of the highest authority in the Catholic Church. There are several references to Pope J o h n XXIII in Heschel's writings. In the 1966 Jubilee article already referred to, Heschel wrote that " P o p e J o h n was a great miracle, w h o captured the hearts of Christians and non-Christians alike through his sheer love of humanity. With J o h n and the Council hearts were opened—not only windows . . . but h e a r t s . "
Reflecting on the controversy and on his successful attempts to delete any reference to the conversion of J e w s from the council document, Heschel said in 1967: " T h e S c h e m a o n the J e w s is the first statement of the Church in history— the first Christian discourse dealing with Judaism—which is devoid of any expression of h o p e for conversion." W h a t about the pope w h o had received Heschel in a special audience two days before the third session? Apparently, Heschel's influence on Paul VI had gone far b e y o n d that meeting. In a general audience in R o m e on January 3 1 , 1 9 7 3 , shortly after Heschel's death, the pope reminded the pilgrims that " e v e n before w e have m o v e d in search of God, G o d has c o m e in search of u s . " T h e editors of America magazine, in quoting the Pope's words, c o m m e n t e d that the most remarkable aspect about this statement was the fact that the subsequently published text of the papal talk cited the writings of A b r a h a m Joshua Heschel as its source. In the m e m o r y of veteran observers of the R o m a n scene, this citation was an unprecedented public reference by a pope to a writer w h o was not a Christian.
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HESCHEL'S INFLUENCE ON CHRISTIAN THOUGHT
I believe that Heschel's impact o n Christianity goes beyond his involvement in the ecumenical m o v e m e n t and his work at Vatican II. I shall summarize it in three brief points. First: W e have already seen that Heschel's books were read by Cardinal Bea and Pope Paul VI. L o n g before, however, as early as 1951, Reinhold Niebuhr hailed Heschel as a " c o m m a n d i n g and authoritative v o i c e . . . in the religious life o f A m e r i c a . " A s the body of Heschel's work grew, so did his influence on Christian theologians. J. A . Sanders has proposed the intriguing thesis that Karl Barth's Humanity of God, published in 1956, w a s influenced b y God in Search of Man, published the year b e f o r e . W h e t h e r through personal friendship or his writings—and frequently through both—Heschel affected the very fabric of Christian thought.
Second: Because G o d was a shattering reality for Heschel, because the world of the Hebrew prophets was uniquely his own, Sanders wrote, " m a n y Christian thinkers learned that G o d already was, and had been for a long time, what traditional Christian dogma taught w a s
Precisely because he was steeped in his own tradition, because he was Jewish in every fiber of his being, Heschel was able to mediate to Christians the riches of what is also their biblical heritage.
revealed only in C h r i s t . " Precisely because h e was steeped in his o w n tradition, because he was Jewish in every fiber of his being, Heschel was able to mediate to Christians the riches of w h a t is also their biblical heritage. He saw more clearly than some Christian theologians that the battle with Marcion has not yet b e e n w o n , that all too often the Hebrew Bible still takes second place to the N e w Testament. H e gave a vivid illustration of this from Vatican II, where each morning after M a s s an ancient copy o f the Gospel w a s solemnly carried d o w n to the nave of St. Peter's and deposited o n the altar. " I t was the Gospel only, and no other b o o k . " A simple pious practice, or the expression of a still deep-rooted theological view that the Hebrew Scriptures are not fully equal to the Christian Scriptures? T h e latter, it would seem, in light o f a text Heschel quotes from
Karl Rahner, t h a t " 'ultimately G o d effected the production of the Old Testament books to the extent that they were to have a certain function and authority in regard to the N e w T e s t a m e n t . ' " Against such a view Heschel insisted, again and again, that the Hebrew Bible is primary for Christians as m u c h as J e w s , because J e s u s ' under standing of G o d was the Jewish understanding of G o d , Jesus' preaching was about Torah and the Prophets, and the Christian liturgy is permeated with the Psalms. Heschel's conviction is being validated today by the best Christian biblical s c h o l a r s . W e might ask, h o w e v e r , is it really validation of Heschel, or instead, Heschel's influence on these scholars?
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M y last point is closely related to the second. M o r e perhaps than a n y o n e else Heschel has o p e n e d u p to Christians the splendors of Jewish tradition—of the Bible, the sabbath, Hassidism, the rich life of East European J e w s prior to the destruction, the mystical meaning of Israel. " T o encounter him was to 'feel' the force a n d spirit of Judaism, t h e depth a n d grandeur of it. He led o n e , even thrust o n e , into the mysterious greatness of the Jewish tradition." Allow m e to quote h e r e s o m e words from the guiding spirit of this symposium, Dr. J o h n Merkle, In a letter to m e , Dr. Merkle wrote, " S i m p l y by living and teaching as he did, Heschel m a y have done more to inspire an e n h a n c e d appreciation of Judaism a m o n g non-Jews than any other J e w in post-biblical times . . . . " These words resonated in m e at the time, I had a hunch they were true; but I was then only just beginning m y work on this paper. M y research over the past months has confirmed that hunch. If Dr. Merkle is indeed correct, then this is, I believe, Abraham Heschel's greatest contribution to the reconciliation of our two communities. For I have long been convinced that the greatest hope for achieving this reconciliation, the surest antidote against Christian anti-Judaism, is for Christians to discover the splendor of a Jewish tradition alive today; so profoundly alive that it can give birth to an Abraham Heschel. Let m e close with words which H e s c h e l wrote about another man, a dear friend, Reinhold Niebuhr, at the end of a penetrating critique of Niebuhr's writings o n the mystery of evil. T h e words s e e m to m e to apply also to the m a n w h o wrote them:
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His spirituality combines heaven and earth, as it were. It does not separate soul from body, or mind from the unity of man's physical and spiritual life. His way is an example of one who does justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly with his God, an example of the unity of worship and living."
Q U A R T E R L Y REVIEW, W I N T E R 1984 NOTES 1. Conversation with Toby Stein, January, 1983. 2. "Agent of God's Compassion," America, 128 (March 10, 1973): 205. 3. "The Contribution of Abraham Joshua Heschel/' Judaism, 32 (Winter 1983): 57. 4. "Heschel and Vatican II—Jewish-Christian Relations," p. 4. Paper delivered to the Memorial Symposium in honor of Abraham Joshua Heschel, the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York City, February 23, 1983. 5. "Choose Life!" Jubilee, January, 1966, p. 38. 6. Jacob Y. Teshima, "My Memory of Professor Abraham Joshua Heschel," Conservative Judaism, 6 (Fall, 1973): 80. 7. "What We Must Do Together," Religious Education, 62 (March-April 1967): 140. 8. "No Religion Is an Island," Union Seminary Quarterly Review 21 (January 1966): 117-34. This address also appears in F. E. Talmage, ed. Disputation and Dialogue (New York: KTAV, 1975), pp. 337-59. All my references are to the text in Talmage; henceforth the abbreviated title, "No Island," will be used. The text here referred to occurs on p. 345 in Talmage. 9. "No Island," pp. 347-48. 10. This and the preceding quote are from "No Island," pp. 348 and 352, resp. 11. "The Jewish Notion of God and Christian Renewal," Renewal of Religious Thought, vol. 1 of Theology of Renewal, ed. L. K. Shook (New York: Herder and Herder, 1968), p. 112. 12. "Protestant Renewal: a Jewish View," The Insecurity of Freedom: Essays on Human Existence (New York: Farrar, Straus and Girbux, 1966), p. 177. 13. "No Island/' p. 349. 14. "The Ecumenical Movement," Insecurity of Freedom, p. 182. 15. "No Island," p. 353. 16. "No Island/' p. 352. 17. "From Mission to Dialogue," Conservative Judaism 21 (Spring 1967): 2. 18. "No Island," p. 356. 19. Jubilee, January, 1966, p. 39. 20. References here and through the following paragraph are from "No Island," pp. 344, 345, and 346. 21. "The Ecumenical Movement," p. 180. 22. "No Island/' p. 347. 23. "The Ecumenical M o v e m e n t / ' p. 182. 24. "No Island," p. 351. 25. "From Mission to Dialogue," p. 9. 26. "No Island," p. 355. 27. "From Mission to Dialogue," p. 10. 28. "No Island/' p. 356. 9. The term was first used in the 1950s by the French historian Jules Isaac. See his Teaching of Contempt (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964); and also Jesus and Israel (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971). The term has in recent years become part of our vocabulary when referring to the history of Christian anti-Judaism. 30. "No Island," pp. 330-31. 31. "Protestant Renewal: a Jewish View," p. 169. 32. "On Prayer." Reprinted in Conservative Judaism, 25 (Fall 1970):6. 33. W. D. Davies, "Conscience, Scholar, Witness/' America, March 10, 1973, p. 215. 34. "On Prayer," p. 6. 35. "Sacred Images of Man," The bisecurity of Freedom, p. 165. 36. "No Island," p. 350. 37. "From Mission to Dialogue," p. 9. 38. Stepping Stones to Further Jewish-Christian Relations, compiled by Helga Croner (London-New York: Stimulus Books, 1970), p. 60. 39. "From Mission to Diaogue," p. 11. 40. Fritz A. Rothschild, "Abraham Joshua Heschel," Modern Theologians: Christians and Jews, ed. Thomas E. Bird (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1967,), p. 173. 80
HESCHEL'S SIGNIFICANCE 41. The entire section dealing with Vatican II has been greatly abbreviated from the original text for the purposes of this article. 42. On February 23, 1983, at a one-day symposium held at the Jewish Theological Seminary in memory of Heschel, Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, who had worked closely with Heschel throughout the council, presented a paper on Heschel and Vatican II. I am deeply indebted to Rabbi Tanenbaum for giving me a copy of his paper and permitting me to use it. 43. Tanenbaum, "Heschel and Vatican II—Jewish-Christian Relations." Paper presented at the Memorial Symposium in honor of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The following material on Heschel and Vatican II is taken largely from this paper, especially pp. 1 5 , 1 6 , 1 7 , and 21. 44. Jubilee, January, 1966, p. 31. 45. "From Mission to Dialogue," pp. 10 ff. 46. America, March 10, 1973, p. 202. 47. Reinhold Niebuhr, "Masterly Analysis of Faith," review of Man Is not Alone, New York Herald Tribune Book Review, April, 1951, p. 12. 48. Sanders, "An Apostle to the Gentiles," Conservative Judaism 28 (Fall 1973) :61. 49. Sanders, p. 61. 50. "The Jewish Notion of God and Christian Renewal," in Renewal of Religious Thought, vol. 1 of Theology of Renewal, ed. L. K. Shook (New York, Herder and Herder, 1968), p. 112. 51. Quoted from Rahner by Heschel in "The Jewish Notion of God," p. 112, n. 3. 52. See, for instance, Bernhard W. Anderson, "Confrontation with the Bible," in Theology Today 30 (October 1973):267-71. 53. W. D. Davies, "Conscience, Scholar, Witness," America, March 10, 1973, p. 214. 54. John C. Merkle in a letter to Eva Fleischner, October 10, 1982. 55. "Confusion of Good and Evil," The Insecurity of Freedom, p. 147.
HOMILETICAL RESOURCES FROM THE HEBREW BIBLE FOR LENT
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE JEWISH HOMILY
" O u r people is only a people by virtue of the T o r a h . " This sentiment, enunciated in the tenth century by Saadyah Gaon, a Jewish leader, legalist, and philosopher, has b e e n at the core of Jewish homiletics even prior to its actual formulation. At first, Torah was the Pentateuch, but soon the term covered the Prophets and Writings as well. Interpretations which served as the basis for all of Jewish life b e c a m e the laws of Torah which structured Jewish communal and cultural life. T h o u g h these laws guided a sector w e would n o w call secular, J e w s recognized t h e m as religious regulations because they grew out of G o d ' s revelation to Israel. Similarly, the lore, theology, philosophy, and "salvation history" o f Judaism had their roots in this revelation called Torah. Finally, the term " T o r a h " came to signify all texts, traditions, and sentiments which J e w s recognized as holy and enduring. T h u s , Torah grows, and the outgrowths themselves b e c o m e Torah for other generations, and so the process goes. " T h e words of the Torah are fruitful a n d multiply" (Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 3b; see bibliography). T h e special m e t h o d by which this growth took place is called midrash in Hebrew. S o m e scholars feel that this process began in the biblical period itself, but its most significant developments occurred in the postbiblical era. T h e w o r d comes from a H e b r e w root meaning to inquire, seek, or require. All these translational shades of meaning are important because they all contribute to a n accurate understanding o f the task of midrash. T h e J e w i s h community's rootedness in the sacred texts and oral traditions o f its past created a dialectic with its will to live
Michael Chernick is an Orthodox rabbi who is associate professor of rabbinic literature at Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform) in New York. He was ordained at Yeshiva University and among his writings is "Some TaJmudic Responses to Christianity, Third and Fourth Centuries," Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Summer, 1980. 82
according to G o d ' s Word in the present and future. As the community recognized that it required renewal for its present and future, it inquired of and sought a link with its past. T h e act of interpreting the past for the needs of the present—that was and is midrash. W h e n interpreters sought in Torah for communal standards, rules, and law, they created halakic midrash, interpretations to produce or support law. W h e n they searched Torah for theology, spiritual values, religious principles, ethics, consolation, even entertainment, they created aggadic midrash or homilies. O n e should not be misled into thinking that the interpretational activity described above was dedicated to the pursuit of a progressive uncovering of the plain meaning of ancient texts or traditions. That was the work of commentators and translators, and the Jewish people have produced such people. But the midrashists' work was something else. T h e y saw their task as making the text and tradition live in the midst of the community. H e n c e , as they searched and inquired of the past's legacy, perhaps a verse, or part o f a verse, or even a single word of the tradition might, as it were, leap from the page to provide for the need of the day. T h e element that provided for the community's sustenance was used for that purpose. Inevitably, this meant that issues of conformity to the text's "plain m e a n i n g , " though significant, were not primary, and sometimes they were simply overlooked. T h e "preacher of D u b n o w , " R. Jacob Kranz (nineteenth century), described the process as one of making arrows appear to have hit the bull's eye by painting targets around them. That view rightly indicates that Jewish homilies have b e e n most significant w h e n our teachers found the issues pressing hardest on the Jewish people's minds and hearts and addressed t h e m through the creative and sensitive application of the tradition to life. The process I have described generated various types of homiletical statements. S o m e retold and embellished biblical narratives or painted often startling and probing portraits of biblical personalities. G a p s in the Bible's narrative were filled with oral traditions and folk-lore, and the text b e c a m e illuminated with a n e w light. In such cases, the midrashic preacher used the Bible's text archetypically. In this m a n n e r the redemption from Egyptian bondage could become the symbol of G o d ' s saving power in any generation, and M o s e s could b e c o m e the model for virtuous c o m m u n a l leaders and teachers of any Jewish community. T h e s e homilies gave assurance that n o Jewish generation was an orphan. T h e nation's G o d and its fathers and mothers traveled along with all Israel through time and space. Their
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presence and experiences were as vital and important today as they were in the past. Through the homily, the Bible and biblical forebears lived again and thus could guide the generations. A second homiletical format addressed the meaning o f Jewish religious and ethical life. T h e homily might typically center on a key area of Jewish religious observance in order to explore the multiplicity of spiritual a n d moral messages it contained. For example, a timely homily o n the observance o f the Feast of Tabernacles ( H e b . , Sukkot, see Lev. 23:39-43), a holy day which usually occurs in the middle of the fall, might stress the need for our renewing our closeness with nature. T h e preacher might suggest that w e do this in order to experience our shared "creatureliness" to the end that we m a y recognize G o d as the creator. He or she might indicate that seven days and nights spent in the outdoors, under roofs o f natural material and open enough to see the h e a v e n s , teaches us that the houses w e build sometimes protect us too well. In t h e m w e do not see or feel either the grandeur o f G o d or the shivering of those w h o have only huts as shelter. In this w a y a ritual central to the observance o f the Jewish festivals b e c o m e s a challenge to recognize G o d more directly in our lives and to begin again, with G o d ' s help, the work of redeeming the downtrodden. T h e m e s s a g e is consistent with the rationale which Torah gives for the observance, " s o that your generations m a y k n o w that I provided shelters for the Israelites w h e n I brought them forth from Egypt, I a m the Eternal" (Lev. 23:43, author's translation). It has only b e e n m a d e more manifest and clear b y t h e process of midrash. Finally, Jewish preaching certainly h a s concerned itself with purely theological themes as well. I did not, however, place this form o f homily first because it is a less commonplace p h e n o m e n o n . In the central work of rabbinic Judaism, the Talmud, little direct attention is given to purely theological issues and dogma. This p h e n o m e n o n set the tone for Jewish teaching in general and for sermons as a particular form of Jewish teaching. Nevertheless, important events confronting the Jewish community from the outside or from within frequently set off theological probing, discussion, and debate. For example, Judaism's confrontation with the thinking o f the C h u r c h Fathers led it to consider the question o f covenantal mutability and the question of w h e t h e r G o d changes His/Her mind. Similarly, Karaism, an internal Jewish m o v e m e n t of the eighth century, which sought to dispense with the rabbinic tradition and to understand the Bible as literally as possible, moved rabbis to m a k e theological responses. Obviously, the rabbinic Jewish community was anxious to prove to itself and its
Karaitic opponents that its tradition was as m u c h Torah as the written word o f the Bible. Judaism as w e k n o w it today is testimony to the success of such efforts. O t h e r issues confront the Jewish community today and, of course, generate theological sermons as well as books and essays. W e confront again the ongoing religious problem o f evil, having endured the Holocaust. W e re-evaluate the theological significance of the Holy L a n d because of Israel's rebirth. W e re-examine the idea a n d meaning of Jewish c h o s e n n e s s as w e confront religious pluralism as a serious reality in American society. Indeed, the very m e a n i n g of G o d becomes an urgent sermonic issue in an age that has spoken of G o d ' s " d e a t h " a n d in a time w h i c h has questioned the meaningfulness of almost everything. J e w s , like all others w h o are part o f a community of believers, cannot avoid the theological task w h e n the m o m e n t d e m a n d s a theological response. H e n c e , w e have a renewal of the theological sermon in the synagogue as age-old Judaism seeks to speak of G o d in the contemporary world. N e w d e m a n d s and n e w inquiries lead to n e w midrash. T h e process g o e s on, a n d w e "renew our days as of o l d " (Lam. 5:21). Finally, as part of this introduction a n d orientation to the Jewish homily, I believe it is important to note the significance of particularism a n d universalism as factors in J e w i s h life and thought. Judaism has not b e e n a missionizing faith for well over a millennium, nor h a s it b e e n a "majority" faith at any time. This h a s m e a n t that J e w i s h teachers have directed their m e s s a g e inward toward the Jewish community for a long time. This reality has shaped the language, form of expression, and contents of the Jewish homily making it a particularistic work, a work best understood by J e w s . Side b y side with this particularism there has always b e e n a strong current of Jewish universalism. It expresses itself in the h o p e for the "days of the messiah"" in the future a n d legislation "for the sake of p e a c e " (BT Gittin 59a, 61a) in the here and n o w . Jewish liturgy, especially during the High Holy D a y s in the fall, prays for the entire world's sustenance a n d safety. Similarly, Jewish lore explains the seventy sacrifices of the Sukkot festival (Num. 2 9 ) , which w e r e offered w h e n the temple stood, as offerings o n behalf o f the "seventy n a t i o n s " which constitute the h u m a n family. This mixture of the particular a n d the universal makes the Jewish homily a partly accessible a n d partly inaccessible communication to the non-Jewish world. In each o f m y attempts to share what a J e w would teach about the H e b r e w Bible sources of the lectionary for
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Lent, I struggled with this reality. It is therefore m y h o p e and prayer that the results of this struggle will provide a glimpse into the traditions of Jewish preaching and teaching formulated in such a way that all m a y share their treasure. Note: T h e following lections, taken from the new Common Lectionary, are for the second, third, and fifth Sundays in Lent. Two of the lections have been divided into two parts for interpretation. Preachers may want to combine these for one Sunday's sermon or use them for other preaching occasions in Lent.
" A n d w h e n Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Eternal appeared to Abram and said to him: T am God Almighty [ Heb., ' £ / Shaddai ] . Walk in m y presence and be whole. And I will make m y covenant between me and you, and will multiply you greatly' " (Gen. 17:1-2). With these words w e begin the covenant history of the Jewish people. G o d speaks to Abraham as 'El Shaddai in this event, and as the rabbinic interpreters tell us, this n a m e indicates God's ability to limit. G o d is the o n e w h o said, " e n o u g h " (Heb., dai). Had God not s p o k e n this word, creation would have extended infinitely (Gen. Rabbah, 46:2). T h u s , paradoxically, G o d ' s "limited creation" becomes the sign of G o d ' s omnipotence. W h y does G o d address A b r a m under this name at this m o m e n t ? Jewish mystics understood G o d ' s act of limitation in an especially profound way. T h e y taught that in order to grant space to a finite and corporeal world, G o d b o u n d e d himself in. This act m a d e way for the universe. M o r e than that, it made room for covenantal relationship. By limiting himself, G o d provided the possibility of an " o t h e r , " and the existence of another creates the potential for sharing. In covenant, that sharing occurs. T h e parties to the covenant give and receive according to the terms they have set with o n e another. T h e binding quality of these terms limits the parties to the covenant, but the unity it forges e n h a n c e s them. Amazingly, we find that G o d was indeed under limits as Abram's covenant partner. W h e n considering action against S o d o m and Gomorrah, G o d said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that which I a m doing seeing that A b r a h a m shall surely b e c o m e a great and mighty nation?" (Gen. 18:17-18). G o d w a s no longer a free agent in history.
Covenanted to Abraham, h e would have to counsel with the partner a n d hear his suggestions, A b r a h a m ' s daring bargaining before G o d b e c o m e s more comprehensible in light of the covenant. G o d must hear his requests a n d even grant t h e m so long as A b r a h a m upholds his covenantal obligations. A n d so it w a s . A b r a h a m asks for God's forbearance toward S o d o m and G o m o r r a h o n condition that there are ten righteous persons in the cities, a n d G o d grants it. G o d ' s appearance to A b r a m u n d e r the n a m e 'El Shaddai expressed G o d ' s willingness to be limited by covenant, but was A b r a m prepared to sacrifice his a u t o n o m y to G o d ? H u m a n willingness to part with the figment of our o m n i p o t e n c e is not the n o r m . T h e primordial serpent in E d e n k n e w that well w h e n h e offered A d a m a n d Eve the seemingly limitless power attached to being like G o d (Gen. 3:5). Yet, Abram, despite his tremendous wealth a n d power, was well-trained in the recognition of his limitations. H e and his wife, Sarai, could not get what they desired most, a s o n a n d heir. Addressed b y 'El Shaddai, A b r a m recognizes more than a covenantal offer. H e recognizes a God w h o understands w h a t limitations m e a n . H e recognizes G o d in search of man, a G o d w h o , like himself, needs another. The sign of the covenant which G o d demands, circumcision, becomes a more comprehensible symbol in light of the above. T h e sign of circumcision is placed on the organ which itself connects most intimately two lovers in search of ultimate sharing. Neither one alone is complete. Only in their union can some sense of wholeness be found. Finding one another depends on admitting limitation, confessing mutual dependence, and risking intimacy. All the elements of covenant are present between honest lovers, and G o d and Abram love each other. Circumcision also cedes to G o d Abram's control over his own flesh. B y refashioning his o w n body according to God's command, Abram expresses that he is not so autonomous as to render the notion of covenant meaningless. Abram shows that h e recognizes self-limitation and acquiescence to the demands of an other as the necessary elements of sharing, of giving, and, ultimately, of receiving in return. As w e know, God will test Abram, even to the point o f asking for the return of all he covenanted for, to the end that G o d will bless Abraham with all things (Gen 24:1). After the events at Moriah, both partners—God and Abram—wUl be bound forever. But Abram demands things of God, too, and at the covenantal moment described in Genesis 15, it is a child that Abram seeks. N o w , w h e n God demands that Abram make himself physically less, now is w h e n that demand is honored! Covenant, because of the richness of connections it creates, is often
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bewildering in its manifestations. It e m p o w e r s a n d controls, limits a n d e n h a n c e s , equalizes a n d points out the inequalities of its divine a n d h u m a n partners (see G e n . 18:23-27). But n o matter h o w bewildering aspects of the covenantal relationship may b e , o n e issue is clear. T h e b o n d s of the covenant commit its parties to mutual concern, care, and in A b r a h a m ' s case, love. G o d n o w knows that those w h o will follow A b r a h a m will have b e e n taught by him to b e G o d ' s ambassadors to the family o f humankind. T h e y will sanctify G o d ' s n a m e before all the world. A b r a h a m ' s seed will k n o w that their parent's merit and model assure t h e m o f G o d ' s love. G o d needed A b r a h a m a n d n e e d s u s as well. After all, ' E l Shaddai covenanted with A b r a h a m ' s children after him. S o long as w e c a n y our covenantal responsibility as A b r a h a m did, w e m a y live with h o p e that G o d will, in the e n d , reward covenantal responsiveness with redemption. J e w s throughout the generations have spoken of " t h e joy o f c o m m a n d m e n t s . " Living u n d e r the covenantal obligations o f Torah w a s never a b u r d e n to faithful J e w s . Indeed, w e have insisted that those w h o observe the Torah are truly free (Mishnah, A b o t 6:2). T h e covenant has always reminded us of marriage, in this case, between God and Israel. O u r liturgy—morning and evening—connects G o d ' s love with G o d ' s law. T h u s , w e signal with our lives that w e believe that w e can give something to G o d as G o d has given to us, " I shall betroth y o u to m e forever" (Hosea 2:20) is whispered from God to Israel and back again as each Jewish generation renews the covenant and imprints its sign in the flesh of its children.
" O n e w h o changes his n a m e changes his l u c k " (BT Rosh Hashanah 16b). G o d changes A b r a m into A b r a h a m a n d Sarai into Sarah a n d their fortunes c h a n g e completely. " W h o would have said to Abraham that Sarah should suckle children?" (Gen. 21:7). T h e answer before the renaming would have b e e n , " N o o n e ! " But Sarah did give birth to a son, and A b r a h a m called him Isaac, "laughter," as God had told him. W h a t is in a n a m e ! At creation's beginning we find G o d giving things their n a m e . Day, night, heaven, sea, m a n , a n d w o m a n all receive their n a m e s from G o d according to the biblical narrative. G o d brings all living things to A d a m w h o gives t h e m n a m e s , a n d G o d w a s interested to see what A d a m would call t h e m (Gen. 2:19-20). N a m e s are the beginning o f relationships. H a d A d a m failed to n a m e the creatures h e lived with,
G o d would not have created w o m a n . A d a m would have s h o w n that h e did not need others. But G o d k n e w A d a m ' s need. After all G o d had m a d e him and so k n e w "it is not good for m a n to be a l o n e " (Gen. 2:18). N o w A d a m w o u l d recognize the n e e d for relationship through his desire to b e able to s o m e h o w speak s o m e o n e else's n a m e , to recognize others' existences a n d natures. G o d ' s role in changing A b r a m ' s a n d Sarai's n a m e expresses God's special relationship to these people as G o d ' s own. N o longer will A b r a m be T e r a h ' s son, nor will Sarai b e daughter to h e r parents. A b r a h a m a n d Sarah are G o d ' s n e w creation, n a m e d b y G o d and, thus, b e c o m e n e w creatures with a n e w future planned b y their maker. T h e story of A b r a h a m a n d Sarah tells us that the creation story repeats and repeats. Each n e w creation receives a greater covenantal charge a n d opportunity. A d a m and Eve covenanted with G o d to have E d e n for the observance o f one obligation. N o a h ' s generations had all of the n e w creation they would share in if they would h e w to G o d ' s seven covenantal d e m a n d s . A b r a h a m a n d Sarah, c h o s e n to create a n e w after the disobedience of the tower of Babel, set the stage for Sinai. W h a t connection links creation a n d covenant? T h e n e e d of both h u m a n k i n d a n d G o d for o n e another. G o d , the Almighty, the complete, the perfect, s o m e h o w , s o m e w a y chooses to n e e d us, to n e e d another. W e , seeking to be whole, n e e d Him/Her, too. Covenant creates the link and forges the b o n d b e t w e e n u s . T h e knowledge that there is the ongoing renewal o f creation, that " G o d renews eternally and each day the w o r k of the B e g i n n i n g " (Prayer Book, morning service), provides us with h o p e . N o matter w h a t flaws in creation or the covenant which attends it w e have wrought, tomorrow w e begin a n e w . According to the Jewish tradition, humanity is a partner with G o d in the ongoing act of creation just as w e are G o d ' s partner in covenant. Each day challenges us to make as m u c h right as w e can, "to repair the world in the image of G o d ' s K i n g d o m " (Prayer Book, 'Afenu/Adoration), as both a creative and covenantal act. Is there any w o n d e r then that the c h a n g e d persons, A b r a h a m a n d Sarah, the covenant couple, will n o w h a v e a child? Is there a n y other symbol o f a n e w creation as vivid as birth? A n d the child's n a m e must signify all the j o y linked with new h o p e s and n e w beginnings: Isaac, the o n e w h o will laugh. In the light of these views, Maimonides's rule regarding a penitent person is psychologically sound. H e wrote:
It is part of the way of penitence for the penitent to cry out before God in tears and supplication, to perform acts of charity according to
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his ability, to distance himself from the matter in which one sinned and to change one's name . . . (Laws of Penitence 2:4). T h e n e w n a m e of the penitent points to the totally n e w creation the penitent has b e c o m e . T h e rending of covenantal bonds caused by the disobedience of the sinner is repaired by repentance. In the Jewish tradition even m o r e than that occurs. Repentance out of love turns past faults into merits. T h e very reality of time and space is changed and everything is created a n e w . "Yesterday the sinner was separated from the G o d of Israel; h e prayed and was not answered and performed c o m m a n d e d acts, a n d they were rejected. Today, the penitent cleaves to G o d , prays and receives immediate response, performs the c o m m a n d m e n t s , and is received with joy and pleasure" (Laws of Penitence 7:7). Indeed, " o n e w h o changes his n a m e changes his fortune," and the n e w n a m e is always a joyous o n e if the n e w path chosen links o n e to G o d . A s we read G e n . 17:15-19 w e recognize that the aged Abraham can not believe in being created a n e w . His h u n d r e d years a n d the ninety of Sarah weigh heavily o n him. T h e miracle o f daily re-creation, n e w covenants, n e w n a m e s must compete with the reality of the years and their pains. It will b e e n o u g h if Ishmael will live, says Abraham. But G o d responds, " N a y , but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son!" (Gen. 17:19). W e , too, b e c o m e disillusioned—some would say "experi e n c e d , " worldly-wise—and w e are willing to settle for what is. W e do not share the vision of the world as our Partner sees it: n e w each day and filled with opportunity, open to repair and perfection if we but will and act as if it were s o . This is w h y the covenant as it will be observed through all the generations of Israel is sealed in Isaac's flesh: " A n d Abraham circumcised his son Isaac w h e n h e was eight days old, as God had c o m m a n d e d h i m " (Gen. 21:4, compare G e n . 17:12). Isaac, child o f laughter, son of a new-old couple, n e w h o p e in the face of jaded experience, is himself a n e w creation. S e v e n days must pass in his life and in the life o f every Jewish male child before the covenant of circumcision will b e observed. This signifies God's role in the creation of the world w h i c h took seven days. Circumcision takes place o n the eighth day as a sign of the h u m a n role in shaping n e w life and n e w worlds (compare Kiddushin 30b). T h e m i n d and heart of a newborn are a tabula rasa ready to be shaped and formed toward the making o f a better world, toward striving for better values, toward bringing the redemption. W h e n w e continue the covenant in our children's lives,
w e r e n e w in ourselves the c o m m i t m e n t s to hope for redemption. W e begin again to work to fulfill that h o p e through lives w e would want our children to model and reaffirm with their children. W e pass the covenant from generation to generation. A Jewish folk idea says that prior to birth an angel obliges the child-to-be-born to swear that h e or she will b e c o m e a zaddik, a saintly person, and not, G o d forbid, a rasha', an evil person. It is hard to keep the oath. Life whittles away at our resolution. Creation and covenant alike wear down. "Blessed is our G o d , Ruler of the World, w h o has c o m m a n d e d that w e involve ourselves in the words of the T o r a h " (Prayer Book, m o r n i n g service). W h e n w e fulfill that commandment, then w e read of A b r a m s and Sarais turned into Abrahams and Sarahs, and w e see h o w tired, worn-out lives b e c o m e n e w and laugh out of doubt and into joy. W e see that as broken as life m a y m a k e us, turning to our creator and our covenantal tasks renews, repairs, and, with G o d ' s help, redeems. W h o would have told A b r a m that Sarai would suckle children? No one. But n o o n e would deny that A b r a h a m and Sarah, the changed couple, did have a son. Countless generations have read their story. It still beckons us to c h a n g e our visions and our styles, to believe in n e w beginnings and c h a n g e d fortunes. It challenges u s to h o p e and act in such a way that w e m a y all share in the j o y o f a redeemed creation.
T h e T e n C o m m a n d m e n t s , in H e b r e w the T e n Statements, are central to both Judaism and Christianity. For Judaism, they represent the beginning of revelation which would finally unfold into 613 covenantal responsibilities called mitzvot, c o m m a n d m e n t s . Indeed, Saadyah Gaon, a tenth-century Jewish philosopher, and the great book of Jewish mysticism, the Zohar, claim that all the command m e n t s are contained in concise form in the T e n C o m m a n d m e n t s revealed at Sinai. T h e s e rules represent the details of Jewish living and cover the totality of life's activities. This system attempts to tie the totality of h u m a n activity to G o d , in this m a n n e r to sanctify it, and, thus, to infuse the totality of h u m a n experience with significance and worth. T h e message the 613 c o m m a n d m e n t s seeks to convey is: there is n o h u m a n act or relationship which is unimportant in the eyes of G o d . Furthermore, there is n o realm of being which cannot become a point of departure for a meeting with the divine. Yet, the Ten C o m m a n d m e n t s contain the content of the theophany witnessed by
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all Israel at M t . Sinai a n d therein lies their special place in Judaism. W e shall, therefore, give attention to s o m e o f the T e n C o m m a n d m e n t s individually.
"I a m the Eternal, your God, who took you out of the land of Egypt." (Exod. 20:2)
It is the normal course of traditional Jewish thought to express itself in c o m m u n i t y or group terms. "All Israel is responsible for o n e a n o t h e r " (BT S h e b u c o t 39a) is typical of this pattern o f thought as is the thoroughgoing use of " w e " throughout the liturgy. N o doubt it is this tendency of thought that raised the question, " W h y were the T e n C o m m a n d m e n t s s p o k e n b y G o d in the singular f o r m ? " (Pesikta Rabbati, 21). M a n y answers have b e e n suggested, but o n e of the best of t h e m is that at Sinai G o d appeared to each individual differently. T o o n e , G o d s e e m e d to sit; to another, G o d s e e m e d to stand. Y e t another perceived G o d as a y o u t h , while s o m e o n e else received the revelation of G o d as an old m a n (Pesikta Rabbati, 21). This is not a claim that G o d is a n y o n e o f t h e s e , but rather a statement about the n e e d o f people to personalize their experience of G o d a n d Judaism's belief that G o d agrees to such personalization.
This stance has m a d e Jewish thinking very uncomfortable about "defining" G o d too closely. Indeed, it would b e considered arrogant to try to d o s o . W h o are w e , m e r e mortals, to close the divine infinity into m e a s u r e m e n t s w e h a v e set? H o w do w e dare tell others that our vision of G o d is the only true vision? In this regard it is interesting h o w R. A b r h a h a m b . David of Posquierres responded to Maimonides's dogmatic statement that those w h o believed G o d has a s h a p e or form of a n y sort were heretics (Maimonides's C o d e , Laws of Penitence, 3:7). H e stated: Why does he call such a person a heretic? How many greater and better persons than him [Maimonides] accepted such a notion according to what they saw in biblical texts and even more so from what they saw in some Jewish lore which confused their minds? R. A b r a h a m did not believe in G o d ' s corporeality, as h e himself states, but neither did h e believe that a n y o n e h a d the right to classify those w h o did as heretics. T h e divine reality appeared to great and good people in m a n y w a y s . It was unfair to characterize others' views a s
heresy w h e n the issue was each person's personalization of the O n e w h o had taken him or h e r from Egypt. This theological o p e n n e s s is crucial to true knowledge of G o d and to true religiosity. It declares the " I shall b e what I shall b e " (Exod. 3:14) of G o d to be true, and prevents it from becoming a caricature drawn by s o m e authoritarian person with enough hubris to say, " G o d is what I say G o d i s . " W h e n R. M e n d e l of Kotzk was asked what the true path to G o d was, h e could only respond, " W h a t kind of G o d would God b e if there was only one true path to H i m ? ! " In saying that h e spoke the Jewish heart and mind. Indeed, he gave an entire address o n Jewish dogmatic theology and declared that if o n e exists, its canons are small indeed. T h e G o d w h o took Israel out of Egypt m a y have asked for communal adherence to covenantal laws, but S h e or He addressed each m a n and w o m a n according to his or her o w n needs and abilities. The 613 c o m m a n d m e n t s m a y all b e Israel's responsibility, but the God to w h o m their observance is the sign of loyalty is the G o d to w h o m those w h o crossed the sea sang, "This is my G o d and I will extol h i m " (Exod. 15:2). In that spirit, Judaism could allow debate even about the proper way to observe the rules of the covenant declaring, " B o t h this opinion and that are the words of the living G o d " (BT TEsrubin 13b).
"Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy."
O f all the institutions of Jewish life, the sabbath (Heb., shabbat) stands out as o n e of the most central. It, along with circumcision, was u n d e r constant attack throughout antiquity. It was as if the Hellenistic world k n e w that the successful eradication of these observances would signal the death of Jewish life and culture. W h y was life and limb sacrificed to maintain sabbath observance? Wherein lies the centrality of shabbat for the Jew? What about it is significant at the universal level? The word sabbath itself means cessation. In traditional Jewish practice this meaning is lived out by a total cessation from any activity which will bring about significant and enduring change in an object or en vironment. For example, one may not plant something on shabbat because that brings about changes in the seed or plant in a significant and ultimately enduring way. T h e net result of such restriction is detachment from the utilization and manipulation of one's external world. O n e day a week that world is left to itself, in the state of being it was when shabbat began at sunset on Friday. Only the saving of a life will suspend this cessation of activity which constitutes the sabbath rest.
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Jewish tradition holds that sabbath observance testifies to the fact that G o d is the creator and ruler of the universe: The five commandments (on the first tablet) parallel the five commandments (on the second tablet).. . . It is written "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy" (Exod. 20:8) as the fourth commandment. Parallel to it (as the eighth commandment) it is written, " D o not bear false witness" (Exod. 20:16). This indicates that anyone who desecrates the sabbath testifies falsely that God did not create the world and rest on the seventh day. Conversely, those who observe the sabbath testify that God did create the world and rest on the seventh day . . . (Mekilta, Bahodesh, 8). Cessation from creative work, from tampering with the world around us, states tangibly our agreement that it is not totally ours, that we are not the ultimate rulers over it. Six days w e manipulate it, shape it, dominate it. O n the seventh, G o d asks us to return it to Him/Her. By acceding to that request, we do testify that ultimately the "earth is the Eternal's with the fullness thereof" (Ps. 24:1), and w e let go of it and return it and ourselves to G o d . Acknowledging the rights of the creator of the universe over that which S h e or H e m a d e returns the s e n s e of being a creature to us. W e begin to recognize that w e are one with all other created things before God. W e all share in being the work of G o d ' s hands. This sense proposes that w h e n w e return at sabbath's e n d to our work in and with the world w e should return with a gentler, more respectful attitude toward all of creation. O n shabbat the great and the lowly, humanity and beast, master and slave are equalized in their position before G o d w h o m a d e t h e m all (Exod. 20:10). Rabbinic Judaism recognized e v e n the right of inanimate objects to " r e s t " on the sabbath w h e n it restrained J e w s from using any tool for its normal work purpose on the sabbath day (see B T Shabbat 18a). W e and all things are partners in each other's existences, and all of our existences are God's. Sabbath also provides an opportunity to step back from molding and shaping the world so that w e m a y just look at it. As w e take that look w e can j u d g e from a bit of a distance, as an artist would, whether w e like what w e have d o n e with our world during the past week, or m o n t h , or year. W e can plan to do better, or differently, or, perhaps, cease from doing a n y more. Cut off from direct and intense interaction with the world outside of us by the sabbath rules governing prohibited labor, w e are freed to turn to our internal worlds. W e are
granted time to tend to the world of h u m a n relationships as opposed to the world of material relationships. W e can " r e s o u l . " H o w the m o d e r n world needs sabbath! W e have polluted air and water and earth because w e d e e m e d ourselves rulers of the earth w h e n that title belongs only to G o d . W e have not taken the time to learn that we are o n e with all created things, a n d to what pass has that brought us? O u r failure to build rich inner worlds, filled with loving care a n d a sense of a w e a n d partnership with each other a n d with creation, has brought us to the edge of self-annihilation. W e do not n e e d time "to kill." Rather, we n e e d time to stop a n d look inward and out, a m o m e n t to pause. At the crossroad which sabbath provides b e t w e e n w e e k and week, w e m a y s e e , as G o d did, what is good in our creativity so w e may maximize it. O u r cessation from work can help us plan sensibly for making our efforts produce life and j o y , not death a n d destruction. W e are the rulers of creation, right d o w n to the very atoms thereof. But do w e truly rule or d o our creations n o w rule us?
W h e n sabbath w a n e s , as a sign of re-entry into the workdays of the w e e k , the J e w lights a candle of braided wax a n d wicks and recalls h o w G o d created light on the first day. T h e candle is w o v e n a n d not of one piece symbolizing h o w h u m a n creativity can b e a mix of good and evil, a source of positive building and horrendous destruction. T h e fire w e hold in our h a n d as the w e e k begins challenges us all with the question of h o w w e will use creation's gifts: to light and w a r m , or to burn and destroy, T h e six workdays teach us that w e are capable of accomplishing anything our creative imaginations will. T h e seventh day poses the question, " B u t should w e ? "
"You shall not murder."
T h e fact that J e w i s h tradition has developed continuously through different eras a n d in a great variety of places has meant that it could refine and redefine its biblical legacy in light of its n e w experiential insights. The directions of the prohibitions o n murder a n d thievery, elemental to the protection o f life, property, a n d c o m m u n a l order, b e c a m e richer in meaning as Jewish life progressed. W h a t are simple e n o u g h statements in their biblical locus developed subtle ethical n u a n c e s which tell us something important about the Jewish tradition's ethos. Genesis already provides a theological grounding for the prohib ition o n murder. It states that such an act should be punished by death
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because humanity is created in the image of God (Gen. 9:6). Rabbinic sources adopt the s a m e approach w h e n they state: It is written, "I am the Eternal, your G o d " and over against this it is written, "You shall not murder." Torah testifies that one who murders is regarded as one who lessened the Image of the K i n g . . . (Mekilta, Bahodesh, 5). This concern for the value of a life because each life is unique, i.e., each h u m a n life is " o n e " just as G o d is " o n e , " m e a n i n g without peer (compare Exod. 15:11), led to a deepening of the m e a n i n g of " Y o u shall not m u r d e r . " Indeed, the sense of the value o f the individual finally prompted the rabbinic legal tradition to re-evaluate the question o f the m e a n i n g of capital punishment. This led to a change in the sense of capital p u n i s h m e n t ' s purpose which, for the Bible, is either retaliation, deterrent, o r the maintenance of an orderly society (Lev. 24:17-22; Deut. 17:6-7, 12-13). For the rabbis, however, capital punishment was part o f a program o f repentance. Violation of those laws in the Torah which required the death penalty were sins needing atonement. H e n c e , " t h o s e sentenced to death confess" (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 6:2) because their death is their atonement and is efficacious only w h e n accompanied b y penitence. This n e w sense of what capital p u n i s h m e n t represented, as well as further consideration of the concept of the image of G o d , pressed s o m e rabbis toward the conclusion that capital punishment should b e avoided even in cases w h e r e the Torah might require it. From their perspective, the Torah could be construed to d e m a n d total certainty that a crime carrying the death penalty was committed with criminal intent and awareness of the penalty. Furthermore, the Torah's concern for careful examination of witnesses in death penalty cases (Deut. 19:18) could serve as the basis o f such meticulous scrutiny that no two witnesses could produce equivalent evidence except in the rarest cases. Both "strategies" were employed, and the end result is found in a statement by R. Akiba, o n e of the greatest sages of rabbinic Judaism (ca. 90-135): " H a d I b e e n a m e m b e r of the Court w h e n it was e m p o w e r e d to i m p o s e the death penalty, n o person would have b e e n put to d e a t h " (Mishnah, Makkot, 1:10). T h e process w e have described does not abolish the Torah's law of capital punishment. Given rabbinic theology, that could not happen. Rather, s o m e rabbis interpreted certain requirements o f the Torah stringently, for example, the laws of testimony, in order to make
capital punishment nearly impossible. B e h i n d this process, however, stood the rabbinic sense of respect for G o d ' s image a n d the deeply felt notion that spilling blood meant its diminution. That being settled, m a n y rabbis recognized that they had to limit bloodshed whether inflicted by vicious criminals or b y the court. It is not surprising that Akiba, w h o said, " B e l o v e d is h u m a n k i n d because it has b e e n created in the Divine I m a g e " (Abot 3:14), is foremost in his opposition to capital punishment. T h e development of ethical meaning for " Y o u shall not murder" did not stop at the point of special regard for h u m a n life that w e have seen. Rather the tradition m o v e s on to consider the emotional and spiritual core of h u m a n life as an issue n o less significant than the physical life of a person. T h u s the Talmud rules, " A n y o n e w h o embarrasses o n e ' s fellow in public is as o n e w h o sheds b l o o d " ( B . Mezi a, 58a). R. Nahman b. Isaac commented, "What has been said is well said, for we have seen that the face of the embarrassed party blanches." Hence, the act is considered a form of bloodshed.
At a more philosophical level, however, the act of denigrating and embarrassing another shares with murder the characteristic of defacing and rninimizing the divine image. If one considered the true value of each person granted by his or her creation in God's image, one would perforce have to refrain from belittling one's fellow. As a hassidic bon mot puts it, "Which is greater, a sin against God or a sin against man? Certainly a sin against man, for that is a sin against the Divine Image as well!" Other Jewish folk traditions realize the notion of the divine image in Jewish life. In counting toward the quorum of ten needed for communal prayer, the traditional practice is to use the ten Hebrew words of Ps. 28:9 for the count. Eastern European Jews can be heard to count people using the Yiddishism "nisht eins," "not o n e . " These circumlocutions indicate the deep-seated unwillingness to reduce a human being created in God's image to a number. It is this ethic which impels the "holy society" which buries the dead to address even a corpse wth a plea for forgiveness if, perchance, the preparations for burial have been done without appropriate sensitivity toward the dignity and privacy due a human being. In death, as in life, a person remains what he or she was, the dwelling place of God's image which endures forever. This is the ethical sensitivity which characterizes the best in Jewish traditional thought. It is a sensitivity desperately needed in an era when the value of each person is questioned and frequently eroded by
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m a n y processes of dehumanization. Care, humanity, and a zealous protection of the dignity of each individual are the only guarantees of our ultimate worth. W e are naked and unprotected, w e a k and strong alike, w h e n w e sacrifice even o n e person's uniqueness and value. T h o s e w h o were reduced to n u m b e r s , and then to ashes, testify that this is so. W e are citizens of a century w h o s e ideologies and technologies must serve as a warning to listen diligently to their testimony. " Y o u shall not murder"—not with w e a p o n s , nor with your tongue, nor with apathy toward the root of all h u m a n dignity, the image of G o d in each person.
Advent for the Christian community celebrates a relived memory and a h o p e . It represents four w e e k s of anticipating the birth of Jesus as a retrospective event and as a prospective, redeeming event for the future. T h e Christian ecclesia's reading of Jeremiah 31:31-34 hears in Jeremiah's words a prophecy which foresees events meaningful to the experience of the church: a n e w covenant, the law written inwardly, on the heart, and an age of forgiveness and direct knowledge o f G o d . Jewish readers understood the chapter as a prophecy of an age to come, the messianic era in which the land of Israel, the people of Israel, and the God of Israel would be reunited covenantally forever. T h e ultimate external, historical " p r o o f that all parties to the covenant were fulfilling their covenantal responsibilities was the possession of the land by a sovereign Jewish people. The messianic era dawned when that reality could b e eternally guaranteed b y an ongoing fulfillment of the Torah, the law, by the Jewish people with God's help. Given the history o f Judaism and Christianity, J e w s did not hear in this passage of Jeremiah what Christians do. This does not mean that as that history unfolded J e w s were uninterested in or unaware of the Christian comprehension of this passage. Indeed, R. David Kimchi, a medieval Provencal Jewish grammarian and commentator, com mented directly to the Christian understanding of this text, especially regarding the " n e w c o v e n a n t " section of it. Kimchi writes: The new aspect of the covenant (described in Jeremiah 31:32) is that it shall be upheld and never be broken (by Israel) as was the Sinaitic covenant which God made with Israel. One who says that the Prophet foresaw a new Torah to come, a Torah unlike the one given
What is meant by "not according to the covenant I made with their fathers" is that they broke it. The " n e w " covenant will not be broken because " I will put my law (Heb., Torah) in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write i t / ' that it shall not be forgotten by them forever.. . . Hence, the renewal of the covenant is merely its eternal maintenance. And behold, Malachi, the last of the prophets, in his closing words states "Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, even statutes and ordinances." Certainly that passage refers to a future time, as Malachi closed, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, etc." Hence, there will never be a new Torah or covenant save the one arranged at Sinai.
I have put all this forward in order to make it obvious that the issue of Jewish-Christian relationships, especially at the religious and theological level, is still an issue of texts and contexts. While w e often read a shared literature, the H e b r e w Bible, what w e see and hear there is conditioned by what our particular faiths have taught us to expect to find. Inevitably if w e are to remain loyal to our faiths—and here I m e a n also the inner faith each of us has in our particular system of religion—we will continue to hear G o d ' s W o r d differently. T h e question this raises about the m e a n i n g of interfaith dialogue is large. W h a t purpose does it serve? D o n ' t the s a m e essential differences persist along with their inevitable polemical appendages? The answer to the last question is yes if one assumes that the function of dialogue is the creation of unified religious thinking and community. That assumption means, at least to me, that all the dialogical partners are on a gentle—but serious—conversionary mission. It is hard for me to conceive that those w h o love and have rooted faith in their particular traditions would even enter dialogue settings if that was dialogue's manifest purpose. Indeed, some people do not join interreligious dialogue because that is precisely their sense of dialogue's function! If religious unity is not what dialogue is about, then what is it about? Here I can only speak for myself. For m e , the h o p e s placed in dialogues with other religious groups besides m y own—and sometimes even in dialogues within m y o w n faith community—are best illustrated by a short hassidic interpretation o f the first blessing of the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. T h e prayer begins, "Blessed are Y o u , our G o d and G o d of our fathers, the G o d o f Abraham, the G o d of Isaac, and the G o d of J a c o b . " T h e hassidim said, " W h y the
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repetition? Say simply 'the G o d of A b r a h a m , Isaac, a n d J a c o b / T h e prayer, however, must call G o d the G o d o f each patriarch separately because their experiences of the Eternal O n e were each different/' Dialogue's function, for m e , is not the eradication of different ways to G o d or experiences o f Him/Her, but a stirring opportunity to clarify and rejuvenate o n e ' s o w n "standing before G o d " in a framework which validates the rousing finale of Psalms, "Everything that hath breath shall praise the Eternal" (Ps. 150:6). In dialogue w e see o n e another taking our faith, our religious heritages, and our beliefs seriously. Dialogue cannot take place a m o n g "devil's advocates." It can only occur b e t w e e n people with a passion for the particular and a will to share the insights particular " w a y s to G o d " offer; but those " w a y s " must really be their ways. Dialogue is a process in which, for all our differences, w e try to understand a n d develop sensitivities. It is a m e a n s to get b e y o n d stereotypes which proclaim Christians cruel Crusaders a n d Jews a n d others aspiritual infidels. It is a situation in which w e come to recognize that " t h o s e others really m e a n it" in terms o f their faith c o m m i t m e n t s , just as " w e " do. B e c a u s e that is so, w e b e c o m e more compassionate a n d c o m p r e h e n d i n g regarding our differences, though w e m a y n e v e r give t h e m up. T h e very term " d i a l o g u e " a s s u m e s two voices. Differences make two voices, or m o r e , possible. O n c e w e value the people w e talk with, w e get b e y o n d trying to swallow t h e m u p into unrelieved sameness. W e b e h a v e as G o d did at the time of creation—we create diversity a n d proclaim it "very g o o d . " Jeremiah dreamed of an age w h e r e people would cease teaching each other " k n o w the L o r d " in the voice of c o m m a n d a n d domination. H e foresaw a time w h e n all would k n o w G o d , the great and the small, each in their o w n way. Perhaps, w e have a chance to help speed the fulfillment of that vision by open, sensitive, nonmanipulative, a n d pluralistic dialogue.
1. Jewish tradition teaches us that all of humanity is linked to God through the Noahidic covenant, which obliges mankind to seven commandments regarding religion, societal order, sexual morality, and kindness to animals. 2. The quotation from Pesikta Rabbati ends as follows: "If a heretic should say to you, 'There are two gods,' respond thus, 'He is the God who revealed Himself at the Red Sea; He is the same God who appeared at Sinai.' " 3. The word wa-yinnafash in Hebrew is rendered as "and He rested." However, it is related to the Hebrew word nefesh, soul, and could be translated "and He was souled."
BIBLIOGRAPHY: A GUIDE TO SOME SOURCES OF JEWISH THOUGHT
Classics of Jewish Law
Mishnah, edited and translated by Philip Blackman, New York: Judaica Press, 1964, 7 volumes. The work is the earliest collection (ca. 200) of rabbinic law which covers both civil and religious legislation in Judaism. The Talmud (referred to in the article as BT, Babylonian Talmud), edited by Isadore Epstein, London: Soncino, 37 volumes. The Talmud is the great compendium of law and lore which has generated most of traditional Jewish thought and literature. It developed over the 3-7th centuries.
Classical Homiletic Sources
Mekilta, translated by Jacob Z. Lauterbach, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1949, 3 volumes. An early legal and homiletical work on the Book of Exodus. Other such works exist for Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, but, unfortunately, are not translated into English. Midrash Rabbah, edited and translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, London: Soncino, 1977, 5 volumes. Short homiletical sources arranged verse by verse for the entire Pentateuch. Pesikta Rabbati, translated by William G. Braude, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968. Homiletical discourses for feasts, fasts, and special sabbaths.
Classics of Jewish Mysticism and Hassidism
Zohar (The Book of Splendor), translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon, London: Soncino, 1931-34, 5 volumes. A Jewish mystical commentary and interpretation of the Pentateuch. Attributed to an early Jewish teacher, R. Simeon b. Yohai, late second century. Actually written by Moses de Leon, 13th century, in Spain. Souls on Fire, Elie Wiesel, New York: Random House, 1972. Portraits and stories by the great hassidic teachers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Hassidism was an emotional and charismatic renewal of Judaism based on many of the teachings of Jewish mysticism. It began in the mid-eighteenth century. Tales of the Hassidim, MartinBuber, New York: Schocken Books, 1971. Buber's biographical introductions and presentation of the tales of the Early Masters and Later Masters of the Hasidic movement is a classic, though Buber's interpretation of the tales is selective. A rich and beautiful resource.
Classical Jewish Philosophical Works
The Book of Beliefs and Opinions, Saadyah Gaon, translated by Samuel Rosenblatt, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948. A tenth-century scholar's treatment of the major theological and philosophical issues of Judaism and its doctrines.
Q U A R T E R L Y REVIEW, WINTER 1984 The Guide of the Perplexed, Moses Maimonides, translated by Shlomo Pines, Chicago: University of Chicago, 1963, 2 volumes. The great philosophical Jewish response to medieval Aristotelian thought. The work is one of the basic philosophical texts of Judaism. It generated philosophical debate, controversy, and interpretation for centuries after its publication.
Some Contemporary Jewish Homiletical Resources
Meditations on the Torah, B. S. Jacobson, Tel Aviv: Sinai, 1956. A thematic analysis of significant themes in the weekly lectionary portion of the Pentateuch. Studies in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, Nehama Leibowitz, translated by Aryeh Newman, Jerusalem: World Zionist Organization, 1958-, 5 volumes. A presentation of major exegetical themes, traditional and modern, for each of the weekly Pentateuchal readings by the foremost living authority on Jewish biblical commentary. Sermon collections and manuals are published by the rabbinic organizations of the three major Jewish religious groups in the United States. These may be obtained from the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform); Rabbinic Assembly of America (Conservative); and Rabbinic Council of America (Orthodox). The organizational offices of each group are in New York City. Contemporary Jewish Philosophies, William E. Kaufman, Reconstructionist Press, 1976, and Faith and Reason, Samuel Bergman, translated by Alfred Jospe, Washington, D.C.: B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation, 1961. Both volumes introduce the major Jewish thinkers of the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries whose impact is most strongly felt today in the contemporary Jewish community. Though it is best to read each of these thinkers' philosophies/theologies independently, these two works accurately identify the "heroes" in the field. They also provide a synopsis of the thinkers' views and some critique.
INDEX TO VOLUME FOUR
Atkinson, Clarissa W., 1:101-8 Ball-Kilbourne, Gary L., 1:43-54 Burtner, Robert W., 1:22-30 Chandler, Ralph Clark, 2:8-27 Chernick, Michael, 4:82-100 Cole, Charles E . , 1:3-9, 2:3-7, 3:3-8, 4:3 Collins, Adela Yarbro, 3:69-84 Eckardt, A. Roy, consulting editor, number 4, winter Fleischner, Eva, 4:64-81 Geyer, Alan, 2:66-75 Goodhue, Tom, 2:57-65 Greenberg, Irving, 4:4-22 Guth, James L., 2:44-56 Hanson, Paul D., 3:23-39 Jennings, Theodore W,, Jr., 3:54-68 Jewett, Robert, 3:9-22 John-Charles, 2:103-8 Lister, Douglas, 1:9-21
McClain, William B . , 1:96-100 Mathews, James K., 1:91-95 Newsom, Carol A., 3:40-53 Pawlikowski, John T., 4:23-36 Potthoff, Harvey H., 76-102 Richey, Russell R., 1:31-42 Schoneveld, J . (Coos), 4:52-63 Stanley, T. L., 2:28-43 Tilson, Everett, 1:55-90 Trotter, Mark, 3:85-108 Tucker, Gene, consulting number 3, fall Tyson, John R., 1:9-21
Weber, Paul J . , 2:28-43 White, James F . , editor and author of introduction to "John Wes ley's Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America," Methodist Bicentennial Com memorative Reprint, published at time of number 2, spring, in separate volume. Williamson, Clark M., 4:37-51
"Apocalyptic and Contemporary Theology," 3:54-68 "Apocalyptic Consciousness," 3:23-39 "Black People in United Methodism: Remnant or Residue?" 1:96-100
Q U A R T E R L Y REVIEW, W I N T E R 1984
"Charles Wesley, Pastor: A Glimpse inside His Shorthand Journal," 1:9-21 "Christian as Steward in J o h n W e s l e y ' s Theological E t h i c s , " 1:43-54 " C h u r c h e s and Peacemaking in 1 9 8 4 , " 2:66-75 " C o m i n g to T e r m s with the D o o m B o o m , " 3:9-22 " C o u n t i n g , " 2:3-7 " D o m Gregory Due's The Shape of the Liturgy/' 2:103-8 "Ecclesial Sensibilities in Nineteenth-Century American Method i s m , " 1:31-42 "Education of the Christian Right: T h e C a s e of the Southern Baptist C l e r g y , " 2:44-56 " H e s c h e l " s Significance for Jewish-Christian Relations," 4:64-81 "Homiletical Resources: Epistle Readings for the Season after P e n t e c o s t , " 3:85-108 "Homiletical Resources for the S e a s o n after Pentecost," 2:76-102 "Homiletical Resources from the Hebrew Bible for L e n t , " 4:82-100 "Homiletical Resources: Interpretation of Old Testament Readings for Easter," 1:55-90 "It Never Got M u c h Better than T h i s , " 1:3-8 "Jewish ' N o ' to Jesus and the Christian ' Y e s ' to the J e w s , " 4:52-63 " J e w s and Christians: T h e Contemporary D i a l o g u e , " 4:123-36 " J o h n Wesley in Switzerland," 1:22-30 John Wesley's Sunday Service, special volume published with n u m b e r 2 " M o s t Pressing Issue before the C h u r c h , " 1:91-95 " N e w Testament Reconsidered: Recent Post-Holocaust Scholarship," 4:37-51 "Past as Revelation: History in Apocalyptic Literature," 3:40-53 " P o w e r and Performance of Religious Interest G r o u p s , " 2:28-43 "Questionable Pursuits," 3:3-8 "Relationship of Judaism and Christianity: Toward a N e w Organic M o d e l , " 4:4-22 " S h a m e , " 2:57-65 "Shape of the Liturgy," 2:103-8 " ' W h a t the Spirit Says to the Churches': Preaching the Apocalypse," 3:69-84 " W h e n an Editor N e e d s an Editor," 4:3 " W i c k e d Shall Not Bear Rule: T h e Fundamentalist Heritage of the N e w Religious R i g h t , " 2:8-27 " W o m e n a n d Religion" (reviews), 1:101-8
Altizer, Thomas J. J. 3:65-67 Anti-Judaism, 4:37, 39, 56-57 Anti-Semitism, 4:23, 39, 49, 75 Apocalypticism—see fall, number 3. Bangs, Nathan, 1:33-37 Blacks, 1:96-100 Book reviews, 1:101-8, 2:103-8 Chardin, Teilhard de, 3:64-65 Crisis theology, 3:57-59 Daniel, Book of, 3:47-50, 82 Disarmament, 2:66-75 Dix, Dom Gregory (review), 1:103-8 Easter, homiletical resources for, 1:55-90 Electronic church, 2:16-20 Enoch, First Book of, 3:43-47 Falwell, Jerry, 2:8-27 passim Fundamentalism, 2:8-27 passim Heschel, Abraham Joshua, 4:64-81 Holocaust, 4:4-5, 8, 19-21, 32, 34-35, 37, 52-54, 71-74, 76 Israel, as contemporary nation, 4:21, 31-34, 38, 55, 60 Jewish-Christian relations—see winter, number 4. Keller, Rosemary S. (review), 1:101-8 Lent, homiletical resources for, 4:82-102 Liberation theology, 3:62-64 Lindsey, Hal, 3:10, 15-17, 40-42 Midrash, 4:57, 82-83 (Chernick) Millennialism, 3:9-22 Moral Majority, 2:8-27 passim, 2:44-56 passim Parables, 2:76-102 Pentecost, homiletical resources for, 2:76-102, 3:85-108 Pharisees, 4:28-31, 39-40, 41-44, 58-59
Q U A R T E R L Y REVIEW, WINTER 1984
Politics, and 1984 election, 2:66-75; and lobbying, 3:28-43; and theology, 3:60-62 Postmillennialism, 3:11-12 Premillenialism, 2:10-12, 3:11 Queen, Louise L. (review), 1:101-8 Rabbi, as central Judaic figure, 4:30 Religious interest groups, 2:28-43 Revelation, Book of, 3:69-84 Ruether, Rosemary R. (review), 1:101-8; 4:56 Stevens, Abel, 1:38-39 Stewardship, 1:43-54 Supersessionism, 4:10-11, 49, 61 Synagogue, as different from temple, 4:30-31 Talmud, 4:82-102 passim Theology of history (Wolfhart Pannenberg), 3:59-60 Thomas, Hilah F. (review), 1:101-8 Vatican II, A:75~77 War, 1:91-95 Weidman, Judith L. (review), 1:101-8 Weiss, Johannes, 3:55-56 Wesley, Charles, 1:9-21 Wesley, John, 1:9-21, 43-54; special volume published with number 2 Women, ministry of (reviews), 1:101-8
Coming in QR S p r i n g 1985 Faith Without Foundations Jay McDaniel T h e Church and the Sexual Revolution Raymond /. Lawrence Personal Library—Public Resource Dale Goldsmith N e w Directions for the Iona C o m m u n i t y Robert Gustafson D o Something Pastoral! David G. Hawkins Recent Books and Emerging Issues in the Study of Apocalyptic John G. Gammie Homiletical Resources: Epistle Lections for Pentecost David Watson
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