CHRISTIANITY, a general term denoting the historic community deriving from the original followers of *Jesus of Nazareth; the institutions, social and cultural patterns, and the beliefs and doctrines evolved by this community; and – in the
The vague character of the term provides this wide range of meaning. In Christian tradition itself, however, a variety of more precise words are used to denote specific aspects of the religion; e.g., the body of all believers, conceived as a religious entity living in unity with Christ as head, is called the "Church." The Church itself can be looked at as a spiritual or "mystical body," in which case it is usually referred to in the singular; it can denote particular – nationally or denominationally organized – groups or organizations, in which case one speaks of the "Churches" (e.g., Roman Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, etc.) in the plural. Very often one differentiates between the major historical forms and traditions of the church(es), and hence distinguishes between Roman Catholic, Protestant and Eastern (orthodox as well as non-Chalcedonian) Christianity. Christianity can be viewed as a religious institution (whether as a universal church or as distinct churches), as a body of beliefs and doctrines (Christian dogma and theology), or as a social, cultural, or even political reality shaped by certain religious traditions and mental attitudes. When the reference is to the human societies shaped by these traditions and attitudes, the noun "Christendom" rather than Christianity is sometimes used. The term derives from the Greek word christos (Eng. "Christ") which is the translation, occurring already in the *Septuagint, of the Hebrew mashi'aḥ (which in English became *Messiah), "the anointed." While the precise nature of Jesus' beliefs about himself and the nature of the "messianic" task which he attributed to himself are still a matter of scholarly controversy, there is little doubt that at an early date his followers saw in him the promised mashi'aḥ, the son of David. This view is evident in the gospel accounts which attempt to trace the ancestry of Jesus back to David, evidently for the purpose of legitimizing his messianic status. Jesus himself seems to have rejected the term in favor of other eschatological titles (e.g., the "Son of Man"), but the early community of his followers (see *Apostles), believing in his resurrection after the crucifixion, evidently held this term to be the most expressive of the role which they ascribed to their master and "Lord" (Gr. kyrios). In due course the title ("Jesus, the Christ") became synonymous with the personal name, and the word Christ was used by the believers as the name of the risen Jesus (cf. Gal. 1:6; Heb. 9:11). The early followers of Jesus referred to themselves as "brethren" (Acts 1:16), "disciples" (Acts 11:26), and "believers" (Acts 2:44), and the Jews at first called them "Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5) – i.e., probably the followers of Jesus the Nazarene (cf. Matt. 2:23). The term "Christians" seems to have been applied to them at first by outsiders (Acts 11:26), but was soon adopted by them as a convenient term of identification. In 64 C.E., during the Neronian persecution, the term seems to have already become current in Rome (Tacitus, Annals 15:44). In its subsequent usage in modern European languages, the adjective "Christian" has come to mean everything decent, moral, and praiseworthy (e.g., "a real Christian" is a term of praise, and "unchristian behavior" is an expression of opprobrium). In Jewish usage the term acquired a certain pejorative tone, referring mainly to the contrast between the profession of high ideals (religion of love, turning the other cheek) unmatched by actual performance (pogroms, discrimination, antisemitism).
Strictly speaking, the career and ministry of Jesus, and his relations with his disciples, do not come under the heading "Christianity." They are rather part of the history of Jewish sectarian movements toward the end of the Second Temple period. As a matter of fact, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reconstruct with any degree of certainty the career and teachings of Jesus, and many scholars have given up the quest for the "historical Jesus" as hopeless. The extant sources (see *New Testament) reflect not the actual events of his life and his authentic preaching, but the emerging consciousness of the developing Christian community and the perspective from which they saw, that is to say, reshaped in retrospect, their traditions and beliefs concerning Jesus. As a result of "telescoping back" the consciousness and beliefs of the early church to the life and ministry of the founder, the use of the New Testament as a historical source requires much philological care and critical prudence. About one development, however, there cannot be much doubt: whatever the nature of the relationship of Jesus to the various Jewish groups of his time (*Pharisees, *Sadducees, and others – including the *Essenes and *Qumran Covenanters), the New Testament reflects a stage of development when relations between Jews and Christians had already begun to deteriorate. Hence, the New Testament describes Jesus as engaged in violent polemics against the "Scribes and Pharisees," and especially against the interpretation of Torah and Judaism which they represented. This embattled portrayal, as well as the tendency to ascribe to "the Jews" the responsibility for the passion and death of Jesus – articulated and exhibited in varying degrees in the different books of the New Testament – have made the New Testament, with its scriptural authority, the fountainhead of later Christian misrepresentation of Judaism and theological antisemitism.
Severance from Judaism
A major difficulty in tracing the growth of Christianity from its beginnings as a Jewish messianic sect, and its relations to the various other normative-Jewish, sectarian-Jewish, and Christian-Jewish groups is presented by the fact that what ultimately became normative Christianity was originally but one among various contending Christian trends. Once the "gentile Christian" trend won out, and the teaching of *Paul became accepted as expressing the doctrine of the Church, the Jewish Christian groups were pushed to the margin and ultimately excluded as heretical. Being rejected both by normative Judaism
The reasons for the extraordinary and tragic tension between Christianity and Judaism are not to be sought merely in the differences in religious beliefs and dogmas, which exist also in relation to all other religions. Neither are they, moreover, due exclusively to the long history of Christian persecution of the Jews (see *Antisemitism), since this was the result rather than the first cause of the tension between Christianity and Judaism. The tension is due essentially to the ambivalent position in which the Church found itself vis-à-vis Israel. By explicitly claiming not to be a new religion, and by conceiving itself the fulfillment of the promises in the Bible (the "Old Testament") as expressed in the *covenant with the patriarchs and in the message of the prophets, the Church placed itself squarely on a Jewish foundation: it was the consummation of the biblical promise. Jesus was not just a divinely chosen savior, but the promised Son of David, the Lord's Anointed (Mashi'aḥ ben David), and hence the Christian community, i.e., the Church, was the "true Israel" of God. It was the messianic universalization of that salvific destiny which God had in mind when He chose Abraham in whose seed all nations should be blessed, but which for reasons connected with God's own ways of allowing history to fulfill itself, was limited to one physical people ("Israel according to the flesh") for a certain preparatory period, i.e., until the coming of Jesus the Messiah. The doctrine that the "Law" – which had been an adequate and divinely willed institution during this preparatory period – had now lost its validity; that in Christ it had been "fulfilled," i.e., terminated, surpassed, and to all practical purposes abrogated; and that the order of Grace had now come in place of that of the Law – all these combined with the Gospel accounts of Jesus' harsh attacks on the Pharisees as hypocrites or as representatives of a mechanical religion of outward devotion, to create a climate of hostility and a negative Christian image of Judaism. The image implied that theologically Judaism was an inferior religion, historically the Jewish people had played out its positive role, and morally the Jews were examples of stubborn blindness and obduracy. Even at its best, i.e., in its biblical phase, Israel had been rebellious and had persecuted its prophets, and its Law – albeit divine – was but a preparatory discipline. Some early Christian writers had an even more negative view of the ancient Law or of Israel's understanding of it. Pharisaic Judaism was judged negatively altogether. The Church being God's "true Israel" according to the spirit, the Jewish people no longer had any vocation or reason to exist except as a witness to the misery and degradation that would befall a people originally chosen by God, but unfaithful to its election by rejecting the Messiah and bringing about his death. While the views sketched in the preceding lines do not describe all facets of Christian teaching on the subject – certainly not that of Paul who, in his Epistle to the Romans (ch. 9–11), grappled with what was to him one of the supreme and most agonizing mysteries of the divine economy of history – they certainly express what has been the dominant attitude of Christianity toward Judaism and the Jews. Had the Jews disappeared from the stage of history, it would have been possible to relate to them more positively as a preparatory phase in the coming of God's kingdom. Had the Church severed its ties to its Israelite antecedents and completely rejected the "Old Testament" and the "Jewish God" (as demanded by Marcion, whom the Church condemned as a heretic), then Christianity would have been a hostile but essentially separate religion. The Church, however, insistently maintained that it was the direct continuation of that divine action in history of which the election of Israel was a major part. Yet the Jews continued to exist, claiming the Bible as their own, their understanding of it as the only legitimate one and labeling Christian interpretations as heresy, falsehood, and idolatry. This mutual opposition created a climate of hostility and negation which made the Christian-Jewish relationship more ambivalent and complex, and hence, also, more pregnant with tragedy than any comparable relationship in history.
Jesus and His First Disciples
As has been indicated before, the teaching and activity of Jesus cannot be properly described under the heading "Christianity" but should rather be seen in the context of the religious, social, and political ferment in Palestine at the end of the Second Temple period, and in relation to the various sectarian movements at the time. Knowledge of the period and of the sectarian doctrines then extant has been revolutionized by the Qumran Scrolls (i.e., the writings of the so-called Dead Sea sect, probably identical with the Essenes), whose significance
Jewish Origins and Influence on Ritual and Liturgy
Christian liturgy and forms of worship bear the mark of Jewish origins and influence. The very concept of church ritual (i.e., assembly of the believers for prayer, reading of Scripture and preaching) is indebted to the example of the synagogue. The reading of passages from the "Old" and the "New" Testaments is a Christian version of the synagogue reading from the Torah and the Prophets. The Psalms, in particular, play an immense role in both Catholic and Protestant liturgy. Some early Christian prayers (cf. Apostolic Constitutions 7:35–38; Didache chs. 9–10) are quotations or adaptations from Jewish originals. The Jewish origin is also evident in many prayer formulas (e.g., *Amen, *Hallelujah), the Lord's Prayer ("Our Father which art in Heaven"), and in many ritual institutions (e.g. Baptism) – whatever their specifically Christian transformations. The central rite of Christianity, the Eucharist, Mass, or Lord's Supper, is based on a tradition concerning Jesus' last meal with his disciples (represented in some New Testament accounts as a Passover meal), and contains such traditional
Needless to say, the very existence of similarities merely exacerbated the conflict. For the Christians, the similarities were further proof that they were the fulfillment of everything that was valid in the "Old Covenant," and that the Jews preserved nothing but an empty shell, a degenerate and corrupt form of a misunderstood reality. For the Jews it became impossible to see the Christians as merely a strange and completely alien religion, since they appeared as claimants to the Israelite heritage, bent on dispossessing the Jewish people of the validity and authenticity of its religious existence. In due course the Jewish Christians were included in the category of those sectarians (see *min) whom the Jewish community rejected and anathematized. The malediction of the minim contained in the daily Amidah was introduced, viz., reformulated, in order to render impossible Jewish Christian participation in the service of the synagogue, and to consummate their separation. The development of gentile Christianity that took place under the influence of Paul's activity (and as distinct from the Jewish Christians in their conflict within the Jewish community) made the estrangement between the two even more evident. The universalization of the ethnic and religious concept of Israel (the "church" taking the place of the Jewish people) and the abrogation of the commandments (faith in the fulfillment of the biblical promises in the person of Jesus the Messiah taking the place of the duty to observe the mitzvot) spelled the parting of the ways. It should not, however, be overlooked that the first gentile Christians were not pagans totally unacquainted with Judaism; they were people who had been attracted to Jewish teaching and ethics and who, as it were, lived on the periphery of the synagogues in the Diaspora but were not ready to accept totally the "yoke of the commandments" (especially circumcision). For some time Jewish influence and example must have been strong or persuasive enough to constitute – in the eyes of Christian pastors – a definite danger to their flock. Accordingly, the polemics against the "Judaizers" in the epistles of the New Testament, and the violent, and even obscene, vilification of Judaism in the sermons of such Christian leaders as, e.g., *John Chrysostom (see *Church Fathers). With its spread among the gentiles, the pagan characteristics of Christianity gained in influence, and after Constantine the Great and the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, the traditional Hellenistic-pagan forms of civic, social, and cultural antisemitism (see *Apion) merged with the specifically Christian theological motifs to form an amalgam that has left a tragic legacy to history.
Missions to Jews
While attempts at forced conversion (see *Baptism, Forced) were by no means rare, the early Church Fathers and the medieval Church did not cultivate genuine missionary activity toward the Jews. A missionary theology assumes that the gospel, i.e., the "glad tidings," have to be brought to those who do not know it. The Jews, however, were a priori in a different category, being the original recipients of God's promise and glad tidings but who, having rejected them, were living testimonies to obduracy, wicked blindness, and the wrath of God. Additional research is still required to determine the degree of validity to allegations, made by ancient Christian writers, as well as by some modern historians, that Jews instigated the anti-Christian persecutions by Roman emperors, such as Nero. The extent to which Christianity relentlessly persecuted and humiliated the Jews is detailed in the various articles dealing with the history of the Jews in Christian lands. Jewish history in the Christian world was marked by alternations of more or less violent oppression, relative toleration, expulsions, and occasional massacres, and at all times, restrictive legislation. All of these measures have varied according to time, place, and economic or other circumstances, e.g., legislative restrictions were periodically ignored by various rulers or mitigated by special privileges (see *Church; Church *Councils).
Attitudes Toward Jews
Various factors were operative, creating different combinations at different times. There were the more specifically theological theories regarding the Jews, their status in the divine scheme of things, and their destiny; there was legislation concerning the Jews in different forms: Roman law (see *Justinian), canon law (see especially the Fourth *Lateran Council), and various decrees and discriminatory regulations (and occasionally exemptions from the latter by special privileges) issued by rulers, feudal princes, or cities; and there were the attitudes cultivated by popular religion (e.g., Passion plays), reinforced by its understanding or misunderstanding of theological doctrines. The sacramental dimension of Christian religiosity led to the conclusion that the Jews stood outside the sacramental order of society, in fact, they belonged to a parallel, anti-sacramental order: the synagogue of Satan. According to the Law Code of Justinian, the Jews are "detestable people" that "live in darkness and whose souls do not perceive the true mysteries" (Novella 45). Even so, Roman Law provided for a minimum of respect for the Jew's life and person, but was often eviscerated by religious fanaticism and alternative forms of legislation. Thus, Thomas *Aquinas, basing
The basic Christian pattern of contempt for and negation of Judaism persisted also throughout such later, though not specifically Christian, developments as the Enlightenment (cf. also *Voltaire), modern nationalism, and other secular movements (e.g., Socialism). Even the writings of anti-Christian or anti-clerical authors echoed the traditional Christian stereotypes regarding Jews and Judaism. The realization that the Christian heritage had decisively shaped the forms of national consciousness of European nations, and not only the general character of Western civilization, provided a basis for a new national antisemitism which was Christian in a socio-cultural, though not in a strictly theological, sense (cf. the *Action Française, or the role of Catholicism in France during and after the *Dreyfus Affair, and, for a Protestant example, the movement launched in Germany by the court preacher A. *Stoecker). It was only when these developments had run their full course and assumed their final and most diabolic form in 20th century antisemitism, that certain circles in the Christian world began to reexamine their positions. There was a groping toward the realization that antisemitism was in some fundamental sense also anti-Christian and admitting the Christian share in the responsibility for even anti-Christian antisemitism. Therefore, many modern Christian thinkers struggled for an understanding of their Christianity as a genuine fulfillment of the promise of biblical Israel in a manner that would not undercut the legitimacy and authenticity of Jewish existence. By striving to formulate an understanding of Judaism that would detract neither from the dignity of the latter nor from the dogmatic witness of Christianity, a number of Christian scholars and theologians are trying to correct the traditional caricature of post-biblical Judaism as a dead, petrified, or fossilized religion without spiritual vitality and dynamism. It is too early to say whether this effort is a pious wish doomed to failure, or whether it holds the promise for a new type of relationship between two groups committed to what is held by members of both to be a common loyalty to the same (biblical) God, and a common hope in this God's promise to humanity and creation. Many of the Christians rethinking their attitude toward Judaism do so on a narrowly religious basis (i.e., Judaism as a denomination), and consequently are bewildered by the fact that the Jewish people have recovered a sense of their national-ethnic existence with its social and political dimensions. Thus, many Christians who are ready to enter into a "dialogue" with Judaism as a religious (by which they mean denominational, theological, or semi-ecclesiastical) entity are at a loss how to face what is to them the "secular" phenomenon of Zionism and the modern State of Israel.
Within Christianity the various major and minor traditions (especially the three main divisions, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox) exhibit characteristic differences of style, modes of thought, ethos, theological emphasis, forms of piety, and liturgical orientation. Much of what has been said above regarding a shift in Christian attitudes toward Judaism is true of the "Western" (Roman Catholic and Protestant) rather than the "Eastern" churches where traditionalism is stronger and the anti-Jewish heritage in liturgy and theology has been little affected by recent events. In fact, some Oriental (Uniate) churches in the Near East actively opposed the Vatican II declaration on the Jews not merely for political reasons but because of basic theological attitudes. Leading Russian Orthodox intellectuals have often expressed anti-Jewish ideologies (cf. Dostoevski, Gogol), and even thinkers who sought a theological reappraisal (e.g. Leon Shestov, Nikolai Berdyaev) have never attempted to understand the living reality of Judaism but merely discussed a philosophical construct of their own minds.
Jewish Attitudes Toward Christianity
The Jewish attitude toward Christianity has been determined by the religious and social factors referred to above. Christianity, especially after it had ceased to be a Jewish heretical sect, became a dominant religion, and assumed its medieval Catholic forms (including the cultic use of images), considered by Jews to be idolatrous. The fact that for many centuries Jewish philosophy was influenced mainly by Muslim thought only strengthened this view, since Islam shared with Judaism a conception of God which could be described as more monotheistic than that of Christianity. Rabbinic authorities debated whether the laws and injunctions concerning commerce and contacts with idolators also applied to Christians. To the Jews the Christian world appeared as the incarnation of Rome, symbolized by Edom or Esau, and as the evil power of this world bent on destroying Jacob, which – but for God's promise and mercy – would have succeeded. Occasionally Jewish thinkers would suggest that Christianity, recognizing the divine character of the Bible and being less polytheistic
A comparison between Christianity and Judaism as religious systems, and an analysis of their points of contact and divergence are difficult to undertake, since much depends on the definitions and points of view with which one approaches the task. There are Jewish stereotypes of Christianity and vice versa, and different elements of the religions have been given varying degrees of prominence at different periods. Often similar ideas can be found in both religions (e.g., original sin, or vicarious suffering), but the roles they have played in the total context of the life and history of faith of the respective communities vary considerably. Christian "other-worldliness" has often been contrasted with Jewish "this-worldliness" (sometimes in laudatory and sometimes in derogatory terms), as have Christian asceticism with the Jewish affirmation of this life and its values, the Christian doctrine of mediation with the Jewish belief in immediate communion with and forgiveness from God, the Christian religion of "love" with the Jewish religion of the "Law," Christian "universalism" with Jewish "particularism," the hierarchical sacerdotalism, i.e., dominance of the clergy in many forms of Christianity, with the forms of religious authority in rabbinic Judaism. In addition, comparisons have been made between the respective conceptions of sin and atonement, and dualism in soul/body, i.e., spirit/flesh. Although some distinctions are valid (e.g., Jews do not believe in the Trinity or in the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah, the Son of God, on the cross; Christians do not accept rabbinic tradition as the authentic interpretation of a still valid divine law), many others are inadequate, or have to be qualified, because both Jews and Christians have, in various historical periods, articulated different views about the details of their respective beliefs and the nature of their communities. There is, moreover, considerable variety within the two communities and apologetic interests, as well as the personal commitment and ideology of every writer on the subject, are apt to color his assessment of the issues. The problem is well illustrated by 19th-century idealistic philosophy which took it for granted that Christianity was the superior and Judaism an inferior form of religion. Accordingly, whatever variety in definitions of "Christianity," philosophers (e.g., *Hegel, *Fichte) described that which they considered superior as "Christian" and that which they considered inferior as "Jewish." Some Jewish thinkers, too, would accept the "Christian" norms and merely try to show that they were also taught by Judaism, while others emphasized the contrasts and rejected what was claimed to be the Christian norms. Modern secularism has posed for both religions – as, indeed, all religions in general, and theistic religions in particular – some apparently similar problems, though here, too, the similarities can be misleading since "secularization" has had different implications in a Jewish and a Christian context respectively. What is beyond doubt is the fact that Christianity, in spite of its Jewish beginnings and continuing Jewish associations through the Bible, has become a thoroughly distinct form of religious life with its distinct conceptions of salvation, forms of devotion and piety, emotional and intellectual attitudes, and historical consciousness. The ambivalence created by this sense of both relatedness and difference is still far from being resolved in the Christian world.
[R. J. Zwi Werblowsky]
Some 20th Century Christian Perceptions of Judaism and the Jews
The "New Look" in Christian attitudes toward Jews and Judaism goes back to the 1930s. The pioneer of new Christian understandings of Jews and Judaism James Parkes published his epoch-making The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue in 1934. He set out to study antisemitism and this brought him to the study of Jewish history and of Judaism. His conclusion was that Christianity based its theology on bad history. He wrote:
Parkes cited one predecessor, Conrad Moehlman of the Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, author of The Christian-Jewish Tragedy: A Study in Religious Prejudice (1933) which taught that the charge of deicide against the Jews rested on false accounts in the New Testament (J. Parkes, Anti-Semitism and the Foundations of Christianity, edited by A. Davies (1979), viii). Another pioneer work from the same year was Erik Peterson's Die Kirche aus Juden und Heiden which tried to present Jews in a positive light from the standpoint of Christianity.
But these were still lonely voices and the revision in traditional thinking is essentially a post-World War II phenomenon which began to develop in the 1950s under the rather delayed impact of the Holocaust. Already in 1946, the first International Conference of Christians and Jews meeting in Oxford sought common ground on issues of "Responsibility and Justice" while a pioneering document on Jewish-Christian relations resulted from a further meeting in Seeligsberg, Switzerland, in the following year. This article will treat the issues thematically, quoting not only the new directions but also examples of stubborn retention of historical prejudices.
REJECTION OF JEWS
Even in postwar times, certain Christian theologians have continued to find the roots of their belief in God's "rejection" of the Jews already in the days of the Old Testament. After the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) which ended in 1965, it was difficult for Catholics to express such extreme views (see below). But some Protestant sources, especially in Germany, still see the Jews as betraying the Covenant in the period following the Babylonian Exile. They maintain that the Jewish religion after the Exile was a break with the true faith of ancient Israel and represented a decline from "Israel" to "Judaism." Thus, the Bible scholar Martin Noth feels that the national life of Israel ended after the Babylonian Exile. By the year 70, "Jerusalem had ceased to be the symbol of the homeland, Israel had ceased to exist and the history of Israel came to an end." This was written in 1958 (see E. Fleischner, Judaism in German Christian Theology (1975), 31). Similar lines derived from classical Christian theology can be found in other New Testament scholars, such as Martin Dibelius and Rudolf Bultmann. Much Christian thought has held that if Jesus Christ is the last word, the New Testament is in the final analysis a rejection of the Old Testament. Christians continue to believe that the Old Testament can only be seen through the prism of the New Testament, although the original meaning and significance of the Old Testament is becoming known to growing circles of contemporary Christians, thanks to the insights of much of modern Christian Bible scholarship. The Vatican II declaration, Nostra aetate, stated: "The Church of Christ acknowledges that the beginnings of her faith and her election are already found among the patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. The Church cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God designed to establish the ancient covenant" (H. Kroner, Stepping-Stones to further Jewish-Christian Relations: An Unabridged Collection of Christian Documents (1977), 1).
This has been the signal for radical changes in the Catholic Church and within 20 years great strides have been made to introduce the Catholic masses to the Old Testament – to the chagrin of certain Arab Christian circles, for example in Lebanon and Egypt, which would prefer to see the Old Testament cut off, relegated, and ignored. It is not to be expected, however, that the traditional thrust of Christian interpretation can be dropped. For example, even the positive 1973 document of the Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations set up by French Catholic bishops, after stating that Christians must understand the Jewish tradition, must study the whole Bible and that the first covenant was not invalidated by the latter, continues "It is true that the Old Testament renders its meaning to us only in the light of the New Testament" (H. Kroner, Stepping Stones, 62).
There are also significant individual voices. The Catholic Cornelius Rijk wrote that the biblical renewal in Christian thinking is of the most utmost importance and the theology is becoming more biblical. To Rijk (in a paper on "The Theology of Judaism") the whole Bible – Old and New Testaments – is gospel because the whole Bible throws the light of God's spirit on human history, revealing God and the covenant relationship. Or, as simply put in the Guidelines on Relations with Jews issued by the Vatican in 1974, "The same God speaks in the Old Testament and the New Testament" (H. Kroner, Stepping Stones…, 13). On the Protestant side, Markus Barth has written:
As simply put by Paul Van Buren, "The Bible reminds us we are not the first to be called" (P. Van Buren, Discerning the Way (1980, 156). Mention should be made of the very special significance of the Old Testament for African Christians. Africans identify with the Old Testament and its rituals (such as sacrifice) and this sometimes brings them into conflict with missionaries who emphasize a Christianity based on the New Testament and European cultural taste. Africans want to embrace the Old Testament literally – such as its marriage customs and its emphasis on community – and find inspiration and sustenance in the Exodus theme of Liberation (J. Mbiti, "African Christians and the Jewish Religion," in: Christian Attitudes on Jews and Judaism (October 1977), 1–4).
Moving forward into New Testament times, we find attempts to reach new understandings concerning the Pharisees – although the offensive tones linger, for example, the equation of Pharisaism with hypocrisy. But there are more original views. Paul Tillich has explained that the Pharisees
The American Catholic Eugene Fisher writes that modern scholarship has reclaimed the image of the Pharisees and depicted them as they really were (of course this started long before the period we are dealing with, with scholars such as Travers Herford and George Foote Moore). Fisher quotes talmudic condemnations of hypocrisy and adds that Jesus' condemnations of hypocrisy are typical Pharisaic preaching. "To understand the teaching of Jesus," he writes, "one must be open to the teaching of the Pharisees, for in many ways he showed himself to be one of them" (E. Fisher, ibid., 52).
Another American theologian, Father Gregory Baum, notes two directions in which the New Testament was deliberately distorted against the Jews:
(1) Passages that were specifically directed to the Jews of Jesus' time were only later malevolently applied to all Jewish people;
(2) Prophetic passages made for purposes of propaganda of faith and not intended as literal descriptions of 1st-century Judaism received anti-Jewish meanings when repeated by gentile Christians as judgments on the Jewish religion (Introduction to R. Ruether, Faith and Fratricide((1974), 2).
JESUS THE JEW
The American writer Norman Cousins has commented that Jews and Christians have at least one thing in common: both have been unwilling publicly to live with the idea that Jesus was a Jew (see Journal of Ecumenical Studies (Fall 1984), 602). And Roy Eckhardt has written that antisemitism is in part the war of Christians against Jesus the Jew (A.R. Eckhardt, Elder and Younger Brothers (1973), 22). This implies that antisemitism is the triumph of the pagan in Christianity over the Judaic.
This attitude was reflected in the Ten Points of Seeligsberg in 1947 which stated: "Remember that Jesus was born of a Jewish mother of the seed of David and the people of Israel, and that his everlasting love and forgiveness embrace his own people and the whole world" (P. Schneider, Sweeter Than Honey (1966), 71). However, subsequently the subject has been handled gingerly and obliquely in official documents.
Individual theologians are prepared to go much farther. Eugene Fisher quotes a Catholic bishop preaching in Chicago in 1931 who dared to say Christ was a Jew. He was greeted with boos and hisses and a woman called out, "You're not a bishop. You're a rabbi." "Thank you, madam," he replied, "that's just what they called Our Lord." We need, says Fisher, to correct our traditional [Christian] teaching that sought to approach Jesus in isolation from his people, for the denial of Jesus' Jewishness is a denial of his humanity. To miss the distinctively Jewish context of his teaching is to miss the point entirely (E.
Fisher, Faith Without Prejudice, 30). Markus Barth in his Jesus the Jew enumerates Jesus' characteristics and ways of behavior which are typically Jewish:
(1) He cannot be dissuaded from respecting the Jews as the Chosen People. He held on to his God, even in his hour of death, and to the Law which he quoted to the end. He was a body-and-soul member of the Jewish community.
(2) He affirmed creation, and did not denounce the earth as a vale of tears. God's election calls for decisions and deeds.
(3) He eschewed any cheap optimism. He knew the world was unredeemed. He did not preach original sin. He proclaimed forgiveness, healing, revival.
"We cannot believe in Jesus," writes Barth, "without tending love and loyalty to the people out of which he came and whose mission among other peoples he confirmed for all times" (M. Barth, Jesus the Jew, 31).
Christian writers also now stress the fact that Jesus' message was, after all, to the Jews. Hans Küng writes: "Christendom has asserted that Jesus Christ was a human being – but is not so ready to admit he was a Jewish human being." At the time, in the situation, he could not have thought of proclamation to the gentiles. Küng shows Jesus' message as very much a critique of the Judaism of his time, but stresses his message was to Jews; without Judaism there would be no Christianity, and only with Judaism has Christianity a relationship of origin (H. Küng, "Pseudo-Theology about the Jews," in: Christian Attitudes on Jews and Judaism (June, 1977), 1ff.). Of course, allied to this is the Jewishness of the Apostles and Nostra aetate recalls that the Apostles and early disciples sprang from the Jewish people.
Arab Christians tend to read the statement that Jesus was a Jew as Jesus was an Israeli, and Arab Christian scholars often protest any reflection on the Jewish origin and character of Jesus.
THE DEATH OF JESUS
On the subject of Jewish guilt for the crucifixion, the traditional concepts so deeply ingrained in the Christian conscience will not be expunged in a decade or two. The Catholic sister Charlotte Klein in her Anti-Judaism in Christian Theology quotes many sources, mostly German, who continue to take the New Testament literally, while expressing her surprise that these New Testament scholars do not detect the hand of the redactor in the Gospel stories. For example, Martin Dibelius writes "Out of Judaism grew the hostility that led to Jesus' death. In this sentence of death, Judaism passed judgment on itself," (C. Klein, Anti-Judaism in Christian Theology (1978), 112) and Leonhard Goppelt states that in the Jews' rejection of him, Jesus saw the conclusion of the conflict between God and Israel (ibid., 97).
But there are new directions, clearly laid down by the Vatican Declaration: "Not all that happened in Jesus' passion can be charged against all Jews then alive nor the Jews today. Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed" (Biblical Studies, edited by L. Boadt, H. Kroner, and L. Klenicki (1980)).
Fisher cites the 16th-century Catechism to the Council of Trent which reads: "In this guilt (i.e., the crucifixion) are involved all those who fall frequently into sin; for as our sins consigned Christ to death on the cross, most certainly those who wallow in sin and iniquity crucify to themselves again the son of God as far as in them lies and make a mockery of him. This guilt seems more enormous in us than in the Jews since according to the testimony of the apostle, if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; while we, on the contrary, professing to know him, yet denying him by our actions, seem in some sort to lay violent hands on him." Fisher notes that the essential Christian teaching has been that all humanity theologically is responsible for the death of Jesus. The same Council of Trent also declared that the crucifixion was Christ's free decision. Thus, guidelines were laid down long ago. The need is not to evolve a new theology but to teach the old (E. Fisher, Faith Without Prejudice, 76).
We now come to the theological core of the Jewish-Christian relationship. The issues dealt with so far have been peripheral to Christian theology, even if they have had such a grim impact on Jewish history. But the question that arises after the crucifixion is basic – the election of Christianity and its assumption of the covenant between man and God. Hitherto, the Jews had been the chosen, the elected people with whom God had made His covenant. What was now the relationship between the new trinity – God, Judaism, and Christianity? With the New Covenant, what was the status, if any, of the Old? The key text here is Romans 9–11. Paul writes that God has brought forth the church from among the gentiles as well as the Jews but He has not cast off Israel and has not rejected the people He acknowledged of old as His own. Salvation has come to the gentiles to stir Israel to emulation. Paul's famous metaphor states "If the root is consecrated so are the branches … it is not you who sustain the root, the root sustains you." After the gentiles have been admitted in full strength, the whole of Israel will be saved.
Paul discerns great continuities between the Church and Israel but the effective discontinuity is greater. This basic text has been quoted and interpreted in many ways. Debate raged as to whether this means that the Jews were rejected, which is the thrust of classical Christian theology still to be heard today in fundamentalist circles – again, especially in Europe. Baum has stated that the anti-Jewish documents are deeply woven into the significant documents of the Christian religion and its expression of faith. At one time, he sought to show that the anti-Jewish trends were later developments in Church history but had to change his mind, recognizing that already New Testament passages reflect the conflict of Church and Synagogue in the first century. "As long as the Christian Church regards itself as the successor of Israel, as the new people of God, no theological space is left for other faiths and especially the Jewish religion," he writes. According to this exposition, the religion of Israel has been superseded, the Torah abrogated, its promises fulfilled in the Christian Church, and the Jews struck with blindness (G. Baum, in: R. Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, 1ff.).
Writing about the Protestant standpoint in 1978, Charlotte Klein finds that German theological books continue to start from the theses that Judaism has been superseded and replaced by Christianity; has scarcely any right to exist; its teachings and ethical values are inferior to Christianity; and so on. She gives some citations:
This line of thinking is significant in indicating the theological rationale for Christian anti-Judaism, anti-Zionism to be found in certain Protestant circles and which has been encountered, for example, in World Council of Churches contexts. Michael Schmaus, author of the authoritative eight-volume Katholische Dogmatik writes:
But here too there are voices who reject "rejection" and, most important, these include official documents which represent Church thinking. For the Catholics, Nostra aetate was a landmark in that it explored the Church's continuity with Israel, referring to the "people of God," "the stock of Abraham," "election," "promise," and "covenantal revelation" (H. Kroner, Stepping Stones, 1ff.). The 1974 Guidelines issued by the Vatican state that the history of Judaism did not end with the destruction of Jerusalem but it has continued to develop traditions rich in religious value (M.-T. Hoch and B. Dupuy, Les Eglises devant le Judaïsme (1980), 360). The Pastoral Council of Catholic Churches in the Netherlands stated: "The Jewish people has a special place in the Church's faith. They can never simply be equated with non-Christian peoples. The Church knows that she cannot be the Church for all nations without being connected with the living Jewish people of today" (H. Kroner, Stepping Stones, 49).
The American bishops in 1975 said that the Church can understand its own nature only in dialogue with Judaism (E. Fisher, Faith Without Prejudice, 27), and there are documents from other countries in the same spirit. This revolution in Catholic thinking has been one of the major achievements in the Catholic-Jewish relationship since the 1960s.
On the Protestant side, the theology is not so monolithic, which makes it easier for extreme liberalism and extreme conservatism to sit side by side. The Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches in 1968 stated that the separation between the Church and the Jewish people has never been absolute. God formed the people of Israel and it was God's own will and decision that made this one distinct people with its special place in history. The Jewish people still maintain their significance for the Church. They make it manifest that God has not abandoned them. "We reject the thought that their suffering down the ages is any proof of guilt. Why, in God's purpose, they have suffered in that way, we as outsiders do not know. What we do know, however, is the guilt of the Christians who have all too often stood on the side of the persecutors instead of the persecuted." It states that there is a difference of opinion among the Protestant Churches as to whether the Church is a continuation of Israel as the people of God or whether Israel is still God's elect people (H. Kroner, Stepping Stones, 74ff.).
The Swiss Protestant Churches in 1977 said that Israel and the Church coexist united in many ways, but divided on basic points. It lists the dividing points as: the Jewish attitude to Jesus; the blame attached by many Christians to the Jews for the crucifixion, for the stress on justice rather than grace, for insistence on ritual law; and because some Christians have seen Jews as cursed, to the extent of extermination. The two have also been divided by Church attitudes on the Holocaust and the State of Israel. The uniting points include: the Jewishness of Jesus and of his teachings; the Old Testament basis of the New Testament; the fact that the Church issued out of Judaism; that the first Christians were Jews; and that Christianity has taken many practices from Judaism (Hoch and Dupuy, Les Eglises, 238ff.).
Most liberal thinkers mentioned have expressed themselves against the concept of rejection. James Parkes was a pioneer in challenging the idea that the Church is successor to the Synagogue, suggesting that Judaism is not an alternative scheme of salvation but a different sort of religion. The fundamental difference is that Judaism is directed to man as a social being while Christianity is directed to man as a personal being. Christianity seeks to transform man; Judaism, to transform society (A.R. Eckardt, Elder and Younger Brothers, 82ff.).
In the German Catholic scholar Franz Muessner's "Traktaet ueber die Juden," we hear for the first time a Catholic priest, who is not a radical, express far-reaching ideas on the subject. His stated object is to prove that Judaism is a living reality which exists rightfully side by side with the Churches. Israel was not only the matrix of Christianity at its origin but remains at the root of the Church today. God's covenant with Israel was not abrogated by a later covenant. He also stresses the special role of the Land of Israel in the religion of the Jews (a subject to which we will return). Christians are not bound to a special country, but the land does form an integral part of Israel's election and covenant. In Judaism, religion, nationhood, and land cannot be separated (Christian-Jewish Relations, No. 71 (June 1980), 23ff.).
One of the main theological issues that has divided Christianity and Judaism has been Christianity's stress on grace at the expense of Law. There remains among the conservative Christians a consistent line, condemning the law and its observance. These translate Torah as "law" and give it pejorative implications. Many could still be living in earlier periods of Christendom. Charlotte Klein quotes a whole succession of writers who have no understanding of law as a spiritual confrontation with God the lawgiver. Père Benoit writes that it is the fault of the Jews that in its historic realization, the system of the law failed, and that God's help and grace are no longer given to the Jew (C. Klein, Anti-Judaism, 66.). Time and again we meet the same polemics, but there are also those who admit that law presupposes God's gift of grace to men and is itself grace.
And here on the positive side, we may quote one of the most influential of books on the subject, Rosemary Ruether's Faith and Fratricide. She points out that the original criticism of Jesus against legalistic aspects was internal Jewish criticism, Jew against Jew. So, if applied today, criticism of legalism and hypocrisy should be applied internally, to one's own people and to Church leaders, and not directed to another people with which the Church no longer identifies. This will recover the valid prophetic critique of the New Testament. The modern equivalent of Pharisees, she suggests, is theologians. She says that the most difficult schism to criticize is alleged Jewish particularism against so-called Christian universalism. What was seen once as the universal mission of the Church is on the wane and today survives mainly in Western imperialism and neocolonialism. Christianity has only conquered completely within the area that is heir to the Greco-Roman tradition; so from a world perspective, Christianity is highly particularistic, one particularism among many other particularisms. On the other hand, universalism and particularism are two sides of the relationship between Judaism and other peoples, with what is generally expressed through the concept of the Noachide laws.
She makes an important point regarding the effect of terminology. Compare Christian language concerning itself and Judaism, and pejorative connotations regarding the latter are apparent. Here are some relevant pairs: old and obsolescent/new; law, legalism, judgment/love, grace; universalism/particularism; eschatology/perfidy; spirit/letter. According to dictionaries "Christian" is a synonym for "humanitarian" and "Jew" for miser or cheat. Brought up and educated in such terminology, the Christian has an inbred attitude of superiority to Judaism, although not always realizing the implication
MISSION TO THE JEWS
The subject of mission remains a thorny question in Christian-Jewish relations. The traditional position is clear. The Jew existed, and was allowed to continue to exist, as an object of mission. The non-Christianization of the Jews delayed the Second Coming and therefore mission to the Jew was integral to the Christian plan. Certain Christian enthusiasm for Zionism has not been out of identification with Zionism per se but out of the belief that the return of the Jews to their land was one step before their Christianization and two steps from the Second Coming. Such ideas are frequently heard in the context of fundamentalist evangelical theology.
Christianity, then, has been dominated by the hope for the conversion of the Jews. But new voices, formulations, and attitudes are making themselves heard in liberal Christian circles. There is, for example, the demand that there be no active proselytization, and there is the conviction that any hope of conversion should be deferred and left in the realm of eschatology, with a belief that the whole concept should be recognized as a mystery of God. Man should leave it to the Divine and, until such time as God makes Himself manifest on this issue, we should recognize and respect each other, walking side by side on our respective paths to God. This parallels the approach on the Jewish side by *Rosenzweig and *Buber. Most recently this has been beautifully expressed by Paul Van Buren. "The desire to share a blessing can be commended," he says, "and so the desire to show other gentiles that there is a Way through the mess of this world is to be commended. But the Jews are already in the Way. The only proper call is to a secularized Jew, calling him to be faithful to the Way of his people" (P. Van Buren, Discerning the Way, 53.).
Whether the mission to Jews is special or is the same as mission to other non-Christians is an oft-discussed question. Old-school theologians say that there is no difference; Judaism has lost its privileges and is in the same league as paganism. Others say Israel is no longer among the peoples of the world, but that it occupies a unique privileged position. Reinhold Niebuhr, who is seminal to contemporary liberal Christian thinking on Jews, wrote that missions are wrong because the two faiths, despite differences, are sufficiently alike for the Jew to find God more easily in terms of his own religious heritage than by subjecting himself to the hazards of guilt feeling involved in the conversion to a faith which, whatever its merits, must appear to him as a symbol of an oppressive majority culture (A.T. Davies (ed.), Anti-Semitism and the Christian Mind (1969), 145).
There are also voices from the Catholic side. Hans Küng has written: "The Church can never seriously take up the task of missionizing the Jews. The Gospel cannot be presented as something alien and external to them. They have never been guilty of false faith. In fact, before the Church existed, they believed in the one true God" (H. Küng, The Church (1967), 142). Paul Démann has distinguished between Israel and missionizable people. The Christian missionary task is to implant and give flesh to the gospel in a soil that has been alien. Since Israel is the mother soil out of which Christianity has grown, the concept of mission is not applicable. We must shift, he says, from a missionizing to an ecumenical outlook. This is easier among Catholics than among Protestants because missionary work among Jews has been less organized and more sporadic among the Catholics (E. Fleischner, Judaism in German Christian Theology, 31). An important Catholic statement, made by Tommaso Federici, said that the Church rejects all forms of proselytism (Hoch and Dupuy, Les Eglises, 371ff.). Indeed, another major post-Vatican II development has been the cessation of Catholic missionary activities aimed at Jews. In the words of Gregory Baum: "After Auschwitz, the Christian churches no longer wish to convert the Jews as this would only reinforce the Holocaust. Major churches have come to repudiate mission to the Jews and to recognize Judaism as an authentic religion before God" (G. Baum, in Auschwitz: Beginning of a New Era, edited by E. Fleischner, New York 1977, 113). The Dutch Catholic bishops in their 1970 statement said that any intention or design for proselytism must be rejected as contrary to human dignity (Hoch and Dupuy, Les Eglises, 197ff.).
Far less satisfactory, by and large, are the official Protestant statements. Many of these continue to be rooted in past prejudices and sometimes betray little awareness of post-Holocaust sensitivities. Of course, the pluralistic composition of Protestantism must be remembered, with the impossibility of an ex cathedra statement at the top and with the input of variegated churches, including the less liberal, from below.
The document of the first assembly of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam in 1948 is ambivalent. There were conflicting statements by two subcommittees, and they were both put in without any attempt to reconcile them. On the one hand, it stated: "To the Jews, our God has bound us in a special solidarity, linking us together in His design. We will call upon all our churches to make this concern their own." Those who wished to pursue dialogue have seized on this text. But the document also says: "Jesus Christ said, 'Go ye into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.' The fulfillment of this commission requires that we include the Jewish people in our evangelistic task. The Church has received its spiritual heritage from Israel and is in honor bound to render it back in the light of the Cross. We have, therefore, to proclaim to the Jews, 'The Messiah for whom you wait has come.'" It goes on to express regret that the mission to the Jewish people, the first Mission of the Church, has been neglected – but states it should now be a regular part of parish work and churches should have special ministers for this task.
The World Council of Churches' 1968 Faith and Order Commission also spoke in two voices, although in some ways it was an improvement on the earlier pronouncement. "If we stress the Church as the body of Jesus Christ," it says, "the Jews
According to the "Ecumenical Considerations on Jewish-Christian Dialogue," issued by the World Council of Churches' Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies in 1983, "Christians are called to witness to their faith in word and deed. The Church has a mission and it cannot be otherwise. Christians have often distorted their witness by coercive proselytism … rejection of proselytism and advocacy of respect for the integrity and identity of all persons and all communities of faith are urgent in relation to Jews, especially those who live as minorities among Christians. Steps towards assuring non-coercive practices are of highest importance" ("Ecumenical Considerations on Jewish-Christian Dialogue," World Council of Churches (1983), 9). The Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in 1984 recommended a statement which repudiated "organized proselytising" of Jews ("Luther, Lutheranism and the Jews," Lutheran World Federation (1983), 9).
The Rhineland Protestant Synod of 1980 came out with a statement: "We believe that Jews and Christians in their calling are witnesses of God in front of the world and in front of each other. Therefore, we are convinced that the Church has the testimony to bring its mission to other people – but not to the Jewish people."
This conclusion stirred up strong opposition in Germany where theological circles often stand strongly behind mission. A widespread counter document to the Rhineland Synod was published by a group of well-known theology scholars at the University of Bonn. It stresses the importance of mission. The gospel of Christ is for all people, it says, and the Church cannot give up the idea of teaching gospel to all people" (B. Klappert and H. Starck (eds.), Umkehr und Erneuerung (1980), 256; Erwagungen zur kirchlichen Handsreichung zur Erneurung des Verhältnisses von Christen und Juden, Evangelisch-Theologisches Seminar der Rheinisches Friedrich-Wilhelm Universitat Bonn, May 1980).
ANTISEMITISM AND THE HOLOCAUST
This subject requires a separate essay; a few individual insights may be mentioned. In various writings, Rosemary Ruether has explained that modern radical antisemitism is not a direct continuation of Christian anti-Judaism, but Christianity provided the essential background for this development. Without 20 centuries of Christian vilification of the Jews it is impossible to understand why it was the Jews, rather than some other group, that became the main Nazi victims. Christian anti-Judaism was not genocidal in the modern sense; in Christian terms, the final solution of the Jewish problem was conversion.
The Church, which fomented a cultural myth about the Jew as Christ killer, must now meet itself as Jew killer. Those who pursued the Jews for deicide are now guilty of at least laying the ground for genocide. In the long run, Rosemary Ruether has been deeply pessimistic. She suspected that anti-Judaism was too deeply embedded in the foundations of Christianity to be rooted out without destroying the whole structure (A. Davies (ed.), Anti-Semitism and the Foundations of Christianity (1979), 230ff.; R. Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, 11ff., 227ff.).
Many Christian scholars have been concerned with the chain leading from Christian antisemitism to Auschwitz. Roy Eckhardt lists in parallel columns Nazi law and Canon anti-Jewish law, showing them to be virtually identical. "Streicher" he says, "was simply carrying out what Luther had summoned any believer to do" (A.R. Eckhardt, Elder and Younger Brothers, 12.). It should be mentioned that the Lutheran Synod of New York has disavowed the antisemitic views of Luther and called upon its council to submit a declaration expressing their regrets to the Jewish people for the harm done by Christians to the Jewish people, especially that nourished by the views of Luther. It states that Luther's "On the Jews and Their Lies" is in flagrant contradiction of the New Testament and for four centuries has been cited by antisemites to justify the persecution of the Jewish people. It regrets that it has just been published in English, as part of the complete works of Luther, and calls for any profits made by the sale of the book to be used to fight antisemitism (Hoch and Dupuy, Les Eglises, 141–42). The Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in 1984 recommended a statement rejecting Luther's anti-Jewish views (Hoch and Dupuy, Les Eglises).
Christians of all colors and denominations have expressed their condemnation of antisemitism – "a sin against God and man," as the World Council of Churches stated in 1948, also saying, "In the light of antisemitism and gas chambers, Christian words have become suspect in the ears of most Jews." However, some of the condemnations are tepid and remind us of Eckhardt's comment on Vatican II's remarks about the Jews: "They would have redeemed a little in the 13th century" (A.T. Davies (ed.), Anti-Semitism and the Christian Mind (1969), 43). Another American Christian scholar, Franklin Littell, has published extensively on the responsibility of German Christianity in making the Holocaust possible.
Various writers feel that despite efforts on the part of ecclesiastical authorities and some theologians, not much in the Church's attitude to Jews has really changed. Charlotte Klein concludes that Christian postwar theology speaks of Judaism as it did before the War, certainly in the European ambience in which she specializes (C. Klein, Anti-Judaism, 13). Since she wrote, however, the Synod of Protestant Christians in the Rhineland has stated unequivocally that Christians were guilty and co-responsible for the Holocaust, for the persecution and murder of Jews (Klappert and Starck, Umkehr und Erneuerung, 264).
ZIONISM AND ISRAEL
With reference to attitudes to Zionism and the State of Israel, this too is a full subject. The situation
Vatican statements avoid or skirt the subject while the statements of the World Council of Churches are, for Jews, highly disappointing. Its 1948 statement remarked that a Jewish State threatens to complicate antisemitism with political fears and enmities. It failed to mention the problem of the refugees and the Holocaust survivors (H. Kroner, Stepping Stones, 71ff.). By 1968 its Faith and Order Commission had to mention the State, "an event of tremendous importance for the great majority, giving them a new feeling of self-assurance," but also with evenhandedness it adds that it has brought suffering and injustice to the Arab people (ibid., 74–75). The World Council of Churches' International 1974 Consultation on Biblical Interpretation and the Middle East carefully sets out the contrasting positions: it mentions first those who hold that the Old Testament has no specific bearing on the Middle East today. In their opinion one cannot speak of the theological or biblical relation between the modern State of Israel and the ancient state of Israel, or of the promise of the land and its present occupancy; nor is there any connection between the election of the people of Israel in the Old Testament and the Jewish community in the world today. It then quotes the opposing view that God's promises are irrevocable and that there is a theological foundation for a national self-expression on the part of the Jewish people in the land. Far from being nullified or transmuted by the Christ event, these promises and events are seen as confirming the faithfulness of God. The report of the Consultation focused on the question of justice, seeking equal justice for both the Palestinian people and the Jewish people in the Middle East. It called for mutual recognition and equality, with freedom and self-determination for both parties (documents published by World Council of Churches, Program Unit in Faith and Witness, March 11, 1974). The 1983 "Ecumenical Considerations on Jewish Christian Dialogue" of the WCC acknowledges the links between the Jews and their land saying "there was no time in which the memory of the Land of Israel and Zion, the city of Jerusalem, was not central in the worship and hope of the Jewish People," adding that "the continued presence of Jews in the Land and in Jerusalem was always more than just one place of residence among all the others." It goes on to say, "Now the quest for statehood by Palestinians Christians and Muslims – as part of their search for survival as a people in the Land – also calls for full attention" ("Ecumenical Considerations on Jewish-Christian Dialogue," World Council of Churches (1983), 8).
A different angle was conveyed in the 1970 statement of the Dutch Reformed Church on "Israel: people, land and state." It opens its statement: "Today the State of Israel is one of the forms in which the Jewish people appear. We would be closing our eyes to reality if we were to think about the Jewish people without taking the State of Israel into consideration." It develops the statement that Israel was always convinced that the Land was an essential element of the covenant and being allowed to dwell in the Land was a visible sign of God's election and a concrete form of salvation. The enforced separation of people and land has been abnormal. Then the statement executes some curious acrobatics, with: "This cannot be said of the city of Jerusalem or of the independent state, which were not inherent in Israel's election. The special importance of Jerusalem was based on the place of the sanctuary, chosen by God; the city of the Davidic kingdom as a symbol for the land and the people…." "We do not know," it continues, "if Jerusalem still has eschatological significance…. We rejoice in the reunion of the people and the land. But this is not to imply that this is the final stage of history or that the people can never again be expelled from its land. God's promise is people-land, not people-State. Perhaps some time in the future Jews could live unhindered without forming a specifically Jewish state, but as of now only a State safeguards the existence of the people and offers them a chance to be truly themselves" (H. Kroner, Stepping Stones, 94ff.).
The Swiss Protestant Churches in 1977 also addressed themselves to the theme. Zionism, their statement says, is a movement with biblical roots. Many Christians, and especially Jews, see in the foundation of the State, the fulfillment of certain prophecies. Others, Jews and Christians, only see in it a political act originating in human and political problems. The Swiss take a midway stand, stating that the birth of the State was good news for some, bad news for others. "If we are concerned for the Jewish people, we are also concerned for the Palestinians," and proceeds to balance the two. On Jerusalem, it is positive. "We know the Israeli government is making great effort to adapt itself to the situation but it is impossible to satisfy all interested." It pays tribute to Israel's care for the Holy Places and notes that there is more religious freedom in the country today than under the British or Jordanians (Hoch and Dupuy, Les Eglises, 236ff.).
Other Christian statements, many emanating from the United States, have expressed a deep understanding of the State of Israel and its significance for the Jewish people and for Jewish-Christian relations. One of the most recent, issued by the National Conference of Brazilian Catholic Bishops, says that "we must recognize the rights of the Jews to a calm political existence in their country of origin, without letting that create injustice or violence for other peoples. For the Jewish people these rights become a reality in the existence of the State of Israel."
There has been argument as to whether one can speak of a "Judeo-Christian tradition." For Tillich, for example, this was an historical and present reality, not a pious fiction manufactured to promote goodwill between adherents of the two faiths. Jews and Christians, he maintained, are united insofar as both regard a unique series of events recorded in the Hebrew Bible as revelatory. They belong to each other in a special way: it may properly be said that Christianity is a Jewish heresy, and Judaism is a Christian heresy. Christianity will always need the corrective influence of Judaism.
Ruether finds the phrase "Judeo-Christian tradition" a misleading oversimplification. She calls on Judaism to reexamine its misunderstandings of Christianity: that it is polytheistic (as it sees the Trinity); that good works have no place in Christianity; that it espouses blind faith; that it is ascetic and otherworldly (in contrast to Jewish this-worldliness); that it is pessimistic; that it maintains belief in magic and superstition; that it believes only Christians can be saved. These, she finds, are Jewish misnomers. According to Pawlikowski, Christianity would be enriched from aspects of Jewish tradition, especially its affirmation of life, its sense of peoplehood and community, its positive valuation of sexuality, its close interweaving of prayer and social action, its sense of creation as a visible experience and locale of God's presence, its emphasis on dynamism over form in religious experiences. Ruether goes further. To accept Jewish covenantal existence, Christians must learn the story of the Jews after Jesus; they must accept the Oral Torah as an authentic alternative route by which the biblical past was appropriated and carried on. This requires the learning of a suppressed history (Journal of Ecumenical Studies (Fall, 1974), 614; R. Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, 257).
Another statement comes from Markus Barth: "The intervention by Jews on behalf of social justice, their generosity, their joy in work, their steadfastness in suffering shame us. Often they carry out what was entrusted to the Church. Their survival and security, in Israel or the Diaspora, is essential for the continuing existence and faith of the Church if the Church is not to become a pagan culture and social institution but is to represent, together with the Jews, the one people of God on earth" (M. Barth, Jesus the Jew, 39).
Krister Stendhal, former dean of Harvard Divinity School and now Bishop of Stockholm, has written:
Paul Van Buren, in his Discerning the Way, the first of a projected four-volume work on "the Jewish-Christian reality," puts it this way:
And a final Catholic voice – Cornelius Rijk (in a paper on "The Theology of Judaism"):