Christianity in Jewish Terms

By Tikva Frymer-Kensky; David Novak et al. | Go to book overview

Torah more subtly in the composition of Jewish prayer in a Hebrew heavily influenced by biblical idiom, in the decoration of synagogues with biblical texts, and in the consciousness in nonliberal synagogues that halachah, "Torah law," dictates the liturgy. The symbolic role of the Torah in Judaism is more verbal and less visual than that of the cross in Christianity, but the pervasiveness of the message about the presence of God's revelation is similar. And just as the contents of Torah ideally pervade every aspect of the life of a Jew, so, too, should the message of the cross inform and shape all of Christian life.


Conclusion

An important step in the transformation of the meaning of the cross for Jews is embodied in this book itself, insofar as the essays collected here exhibit an appreciation of Christianity as a whole. Can this appreciation go beyond being a positively oriented but necessarily insufficient understanding of Christianity? Perhaps not, for a true understanding of Christian mystery requires acts of faith that only Christians may take.

A Jewish theological understanding of Christian worship requires not only the engagement with Christian liturgical theology begun by Lawrence Hoffman in his essay, but also an attempt to understand the experience of Christian worship. I have tried here to place into context a few of the primary experiential differences between Jewish and Christian worship. Topics for future study that are necessary for the accomplishment of our task include, minimally, an understanding of the liturgical use of the Hebrew Bible by the church (in the context of the Mass and in other settings); a discussion of the nature of the gathered community and of those playing specific roles in the liturgy; and, most significantly, an exploration of the meaning of sacrament. Ap proached creatively and constructively, such a task can not only improve relationships with our Christian neighbors, but also strengthen our understanding of our own tradition and our rootedness in it.

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