After the Evil: Christianity and Judaism in the Shadow of the Holocaust

After the Evil: Christianity and Judaism in the Shadow of the Holocaust

After the Evil: Christianity and Judaism in the Shadow of the Holocaust

After the Evil: Christianity and Judaism in the Shadow of the Holocaust


The evil of the holocaust demands a radical rethink of the traditional Christian understanding of Judaism. This does not mean jettisoning Christianity's deepest convictions in order to make it conform to Judaism. Rather, Richard Harries develops the work of recent Jewish scholarship to discern resonances between central Christian and Jewish beliefs.

This thought-provoking book offers fresh approaches to contentious and sensitive issues. A key chapter on the nature of forgiveness is sympathetic to the Jewish charge that Christians talk much too easily about forgiveness. Another chapter on suffering in Judaism and Christianity rejects the usual stereotypes and argues for important common ground, for example in the idea that God suffers in the suffering of his people. There are also chapters on the state of Israel and the place of Jerusalem in Christian and Jewish thought.

Richard Harries argues that the basic covenant is not with either Judaism or Christianity but with humanity. These, like other religions, are different, distinctive voices in response to God's primal affirmation of human life, which for Christians is achieved and given in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In the light of this the author maintains--controversially --that Christians should not be trying to convert Jews to Christianity. Rather Jews and Christians should stand together and build on the great amount they have in common to work together for a better world.


When people express definite views on controversial issues we sometimes think 'I wonder where he's coming from?' Such a question assumes that we all have a personal history which has affected our feelings and shaped our outlook. This assumption is hardly an invention of the modern world but it is certainly one which has been heightened by so-called postmodernism. Nothing in this life is value-free, nothing is neutral. There is no eagle's eye view from which we can survey the world in a detached and totally objective manner. I therefore begin with some personal memories which indicate why the issues discussed in this book are of concern to me and which indicate some of the experiences which have shaped my outlook. I list them very briefly because their implications form the substance of my book.

Towards the end of World War II my family returned from the United States and we were billeted on a Yorkshire family in Huddersfield. One Saturday afternoon I was taken to the pictures by Mrs Broadbent, in whose house we were living. Before the main film was shown, as was the custom in those days, there was the Pathé News. I was told to keep my eyes shut. Nevertheless, I did have one quick peek through my fingers and glimpsed the emaciated figures of prisoners in Belsen being released. The sombre events of the 1930s and 1940s that led up to Belsen and the other extermination camps have, quite properly, hung like a black cloud over my generation. For Christians their significance has become of increasing significance.

My next memory comes from my time at school as a boy of about 14. Another boy in my dormitory was being taunted with shouts of

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