Over the past few decades there has been a dramatic and unprecedented shift in Jewish and Christian relations. Throughout the nearly two millennia of Jewish exile, Christian theologians and clerics have tended to characterize Judaism as a failed religion or, at best, a religion that prepared the way for Christianity and that is completed in and replaced by Christianity. In the four decades since the Holocaust, however, Christianity has changed dramatically. Both individual theologians and, then, an increasing number of official church bodies, both Catholic and Protestant, have made public statements of their remorse about Christian mistreatment of Jews and Judaism over the last two millennia. These statements have declared, furthermore, that Christian theologies, liturgies, and Bible teachings can and must be reformed so that they acknowledge God's enduring covenant with the Jewish people and celebrate the contribution of Judaism to world civilization and to Christian faith itself.
Most Jews have experienced the profound social consequences of this change in Christian beliefs, but few Jews are aware of the religious sources of the change, and even fewer seek to assess its impact on Jewish life today and in the future. The Jewish authors and editors of this book believe it is high time to acknowledge these recent changes in Christianity and to examine their implications for Jewish life in the Western world. In this volume, we begin the process of examination by taking a careful second look at Christian religious belief--as it has been since the early centuries of the Christian era and as it has become in the last few decades.
We believe that living as a minority in a still largely Christian America--and Christian West--Jews need to learn the languages and beliefs of their neighbors. They need to understand the meaning of what their Christian neighbors are saying: about what modern society should become, and about the place of the Jewish people itself in that society. Jews need to learn ways of judging what forms of Christianity