The Separation of Church & State Defended: Selected Writings of James E. Wood, Jr.

By Derek H. Davis; James E. Wood Jr. | Go to book overview

Jewish-Christian Relations in Historical Perspective

J ewish-Christian relations occupy an integral place in both the history of Judaism and the history of Christianity. Much of the history of Judaism is characterized by reflection on the anguish of living and concern for survival in the midst of a Christian dominated world which came to be known as Christendom. So far as Christian history is concerned, there can be no true history of Christianity without major reference to Judaism and Jewish-Christian relations. Likewise, no history of church-state relations and religious liberty in the Western world can be written without special attention being given to Jewish- Christian relations and the status of Jews in Christian Europe.

The juxtaposition of Judaism and Christianity offers in some ways a strange paradox in the history of religion. One the one hand, no two faiths are more deeply rooted in a common historical source, and, on the other hand, between no two faiths have there been greater misunderstandings, greater hostilities, and more open conflicts. Unfortunately, conflict and not concord has been the hallmark throughout most of the history of Jewish-Christian relations. It is no exaggeration to say that the supreme tragedy of Christian history is that Christian anti- Semitism, sustained by theological foundations, has had such a long and persistent place in so much of Christian history. Indeed, the saddest part of this tragedy of human history is that Christian anti-Semitism is not yet ended, nor even formally disavowed in much of contemporary Christianity.

Admittedly, anti-Semitism is deeply and peculiarly rooted in Christianity, both in its theology and in its history. No amount of qualifying or rationalizing can alter the basic contention of

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