An Introduction to Jewish-Christian Relations (Introduction by Edward Kessler

By Edward Kessler

Kin among Christians and Jews during the last thousand years were characterized to an outstanding volume via mutual mistrust and via Christian discrimination and violence opposed to Jews. In fresh many years, notwithstanding, a brand new spirit of debate has been rising, starting with an awakening between Christians of the Jewish origins of Christianity, and inspiring students of either traditions to interact. An creation to Jewish-Christian kinfolk sheds clean mild in this ongoing interfaith come upon, exploring key writings and issues in Jewish-Christian background, from the Jewish context of the recent testomony to significant occasions of recent occasions, together with the increase of ecumenism, the horrors of the Holocaust, and the construction of the kingdom of Israel. This obtainable theological and ancient learn additionally touches on a number of similar components akin to Jewish and interfaith experiences, philosophy, sociology, cultural experiences, diplomacy and the political sciences.

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Franklin Littell (–), a Methodist theologian who was in Germany immediately after the Second World War, stresses the failures of the churches, notably Protestant ‘peddlers of cheap grace’. He promoted the study of the Holocaust in the development of Christian theology, suggesting that Christian–Jewish conversation would help free it from antisemitism. Karl Barth’s writings are also an important topic. Barth’s opposition to Nazism and antisemitism was based on the view that the relationship between the Jewish people and the Church was unbreakable because of God’s election of the Jew Jesus, which made opposition to antisemitism the duty of every Christian.

Yet at the same time the Church, as representative of God and Christ on earth, is not seen as guilty of any error or wrong. This continues to be a cause of tension when antisemitism and the Holocaust are subjects of discussion, exemplified by contemporary controversies over the role of the wartime Pope, Pius XII (–). The Protestant churches in the last sixty years have also come to the recognition that the Holocaust made for ever unacceptable the view of Christianity as the successor religion to Judaism, as though Judaism had no legitimate place or vocation in the world once Christianity had come.

This command has been interpreted to mean that Jews and Christians would automatically have opposed every form of figurative visual representation. However, the rabbinic writings make reference to the widespread existence of Jewish figurative art, even though opposing views existed. The Targum mentions that figurative art in synagogues was approved as long as it was used not for idolatrous purposes but only for decoration: You shall not set up a figured stone in your land, to bow down to it, but a mosaic pavement of designs and forms you may set in the floor of your places of worship, so long as you do not do obeisance to it.

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