Christianity in Jewish Terms

By Tikva Frymer-Kensky; David Novak et al. | Go to book overview
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10
EMBODIMENT

Judaism and Incarnation:
The Imaginal Body of God

ELLIOT R. WOLFSON

The impression one gets from historians of religion is that Judaism has officially rejected incarnation as a legitimate theological position. 1 As the historian of early Christianity, Hans Joachim Schoeps observed: "Christological doctrine in itself--the belief that God has become man and has allowed his only-begotten son to suffer sacrificial death as a propitiation for the sins of mankind--has remained, as Paul rightly says, a 'stumbling block' to the Jews. It is an impossible article of belief, which detracts from God's sovereignty and absolute otherness--an article which, in fact, destroys the world."2 Even the contemporary theologian Michael Wyschogrod, in his attempt to reinscribe Israel as the site of God's concrete dwelling, insists that Judaism has categorically rejected the Christian theology of incarnation. To say that God dwells in the Jewish people does not imply the deification of the Jewish people, which would be implied by an acceptance of incarnation. 3 In a more recent discussion of the Jewish attitude toward the Christian doctrine of incarnation, Wyschogrod has reiterated his view that Judaism is not inherently non-incarnational and thus it is

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