Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation: The Challenge of the 21st Century

By Marc H. Ellis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Liberation Struggles
and the Jewish Community

It is perhaps an oddity of history that the Exodus and the prophetic stories the Jewish people formed and bequeathed to the world are being taken seriously by contemporary Christians in a way that is increasingly difficult for the Jewish community to understand. As the Jewish people learn more and more about the trappings of power, a prophetic Christianity is emerging from powerless Christians of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and North America.

Rooted in impoverished communities and inspired by the gospel proclamation of justice and peace, a new understanding of Christianity has emerged, one that adopts a preferential option for the poor and advocates liberation from oppressive social structures. The recently empowered contemporary Jewish community, however, appears fearful–and perhaps threatened–by such a prophetic revival within Christianity, for, in its use of the Exodus and the prophets, Christian liberation theology speaks for those on the underside of history, the marginalized and the oppressed.

The Jewish tradition is atrophying under the mantle of political empowerment. Could it benefit from a sympathetic dialogue with this movement? Perhaps such a dialogue would enhance our understanding, not only of those struggling under oppression, but also of our own history. At the same time, since oppression characterizes much of our own story, our solidarity might add our experience to those who struggle today.

The revival of the Exodus and prophetic traditions in Christian theologies of liberation is itself heir to a long history of interpreting the Exodus within political movements. As Michael Walzer, a Jewish

-145-

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Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation: The Challenge of the 21st Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - A Shattered Witness 15
  • Chapter 2 - The Cost of Empowerment 31
  • Chapter 3 - Memory as Burden and Possibility 51
  • Chapter 4 - A Tradition of Dissent 75
  • Chapter 5 - Toward an Inclusive Liturgy of Destruction 115
  • Chapter 6 - Liberation Struggles and the Jewish Community 145
  • Chapter 7 - From Holocaust to Solidarity 203
  • Epilogue - The Coming of Constantinian and Evangelical Judaism 227
  • Notes 235
  • Index 253
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