Jewish Apostasy in the Modern World

Jewish Apostasy in the Modern World

Jewish Apostasy in the Modern World

Jewish Apostasy in the Modern World

Excerpt

In the aftermath of emancipation Christian efforts to convert Jews consistently bedeviled Jewish-Christian relations. For Jews, missionary activity expressed an ancient hostility that seemingly threatened the existence of the Jewish people and, at the very minimum, questioned the legitimacy of Jewish survival in the modern world. Christians, on the other hand, saw the evangelization of the Jews in a very different light. For them, missionary work was an expression of love and concern rather than intolerance and bigotry. Whereas Jews evinced little interest in Christian doctrine and none whatsoever in turning Christians into Jews--desiring, above all, to be left alone-- Christians were unable to take such a detached view. Christian origins--and, in particular, the ambivalence of Christianity toward Judaism that was a consequence of these origins--created an obsessive attitude toward Judaism that was altogether disproportionate to the numbers or influence of Jews in Christendom.

Initially a sect within first-century Palestinian Judaism, Christianity grew to maturity bearing the impress of its genesis within another faith. Christians, like Jews, regarded Hebrew Scripture as the word of God and, like them, employed exegetical techniques to flesh out its meaning. By comparison with their pagan neighbors, both Jews and Christians worshiped God in similar ways, gathering together in public assemblies to offer prayers and hear Scripture expounded. In addition, Christians regarded the history of the Jewish people before the appearance of Jesus as the earliest part of their own . . .

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