Liberation Theology: Human Hope Confronts Christian History and American Power

By Rosemary Radford Ruether | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

Christian Anti-Semitism and
the Dilemma of Zionism

"The Jew is the Achilles heel of Christianity," Albert Memmi, the French Tunisian Jew, quotes Manes Sperber as saying, in Memmi's classical study, The Liberation of the Jew. The refusal of the Jewish people to accept the fulfillment of their messianic hope in Christianity remains the visible sign of Christianity's questionableness; the living contradiction of its claim to be the heir of the messianic hope of that people whose Scriptures it ideologically calls the "Old Testament." This living contradiction furnished by the continued existence of Judaism has, from the beginnings of Christianity to the present, called forth from Christianity various elaborations of a particular theological explanation. The Jew was identified as the man "of the letter," in contrast to the Christian in whom the letter was fulfilled "in the Spirit." Judaism was defined by the Church Fathers as the "carnal image" of what had been fulfilled by Christ on a higher level, surpassing Judaism spiritually and historically. The Jew was thus left with only an empty shell of an obsolete religion which had existed only to point beyond itself. The "Old Testament" prophets were read out of context by Christian exegetes in such a way as to dismember the prophetic dialectic between judgment and promise. All sin and judgment

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