Jewish-Christian Dialogue: A Jewish Justification

Jewish-Christian Dialogue: A Jewish Justification

Jewish-Christian Dialogue: A Jewish Justification

Jewish-Christian Dialogue: A Jewish Justification

Synopsis

Many studies written about the Jewish-Christian relationship are primarily historical overviews that focus on the Jewish background of Christianity, the separation of Christianity from Judiasm, or the medieval disputations between the two faiths. This book is one of the first studies to examine the relationship from a philosophical and theological viewpoint. Carefully drawing on Jewish classical sources, Novak argues that there is actual justification for the new relationship between Judaism and Christianity from within Jewish religious tradition. He demonstrates that this new relationship is possible between religiously committed Jews and Christians without the two major impediments to dialogue: triumphalism and relativism. One of the very few books on this topic written by a Jewish theologian who speaks specifically to modern Christian concerns, it will provide the groundwork for a more serious development of Jewish-Christian dialogue in our day.

Excerpt

No matter how abstract a theory about any type of human relationship becomes, the theorist must regularly return to the experiences that elicited his or her concern for it. Without that regular return, the theory loses contact with its own human content. in prefacing this presentation of my own theory of Jewish—Christian dialogue, I return to the first experience in which my concern for it began. I was eight years old.

Because my parents were proud Jews, even though totally non‐ observant, they enrolled me that year in the school of their local synagogue. There I began the study of Hebrew and the Bible in English. Both subjects captivated me far more than my parents realized then or were prepared for later. the summer after that first year in the synagogue school, we took a train trip, whose actual destination I forget. Train travel in the 1940s was a different world altogether from the plane travel of the 1980s. It was a more leisurely human activity: there was room to walk around and to engage fellow passengers in conversation. the sight of the landscape was still close at hand. And, in that less fearful time, a curious child was much less reticent to approach strange adults and talk with them. This was not my first train trip, and I quickly left our passenger coach car and made my way into the lounge car, looking for someone new and interesting to talk to. There I saw him. His name is long forgotten, but his face has never left me. He was an old man, in his seventies, with a full head of white bushy hair and wearing rimless glasses. I knew at once he was not a Jew. He smiled at me and asked me my name and where I came . . .

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