A Christian Response to Peter Ochs
Professor Peter Ochs's exceptionally clear, finely tuned, and persuasive essay makes it possible for this Christian theological respondent to say, by way of response, Amen. His reflections on modernity and Judaism, together with his interpretation of Christian theology, at once accurate and generous, make possible the longed-for dialogue between Christian and Jewish thinkers. The Christian God, as many Christian scholars have argued, is none other than YHVH named anew by the Christian tradition as Trinity. Our commonality is clear here: the one and only God is YHVH of the Hebrew revelation. Our difference is also, as Professor Ochs states, clear: Christians, inspired by the revelation of Jesus as the Christ, also (not instead) name our God as Father, Son, and Spirit.
Across many forms of Christian thought, the great effort is to eliminate supersessionist (and triumphalist) interpretations of Christianity in relationship to Judaism. Once Christians drop talk of a "new" (i.e., traditionally, often a supersessionist) covenant and hold, with Judaism, to YHVH alone, the question is the difference of the Trinitarian naming of God. That is the question Professor Ochs emphasizes, as shall I in my response.
The first problem is the meaning of the word "monotheism." Although its basic meaning is clear (monos-theos: the one-God), that meaning changes into a surprising multiplicity as the horizon for understanding the word shifts. Wittgenstein's insistence that meaning is not an abstract property of words but is discovered by noting the use of a word in a context is nowhere more true than in this case. Ever-