Posts Tagged ‘Judaism’

The New Testament from a Jewish Perspective

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2015/02/06 at 12:00 AM

NOSTRA AETATE (Nostra Aetate is the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council.)  50 years later:

Jewish scholarship on the New Testament has greatly increased in number since NOSTRA AETATE. While there was some Jewish scholarship on the New Testament over the centuries before NOSTRA AETATE, Jews in general have not desired to read or understand the New Testament. This has mostly been due to the harsh statements made by Jesus about Jews and their religious leader in the Gospel, and the accusation by the Church that “Jews killed our Lord.” Centuries of violent and often deadly persecution, pogroms, expulsions, lies and suffering followed. Jews stayed away from this dangerous text, and even those Jewish scholars who wrote about the New Testament, were not widely read by other Jews.

However, three events in the 1940’s prompted a change in Jewish interest in studying the New Testament and in Christian interest in Jewish scholarship on the New Testament. These events are the Holocaust, the birth of the State of Israel, and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The first two were traumatic events that changed relations between Christians and Jews, mostly among clergy, religious, and scholars. Christians began to question what elements in the long development of Christian theology contributed to the Holocaust, while the birth of the State of Israel prompted Christians to ask about God’s character of faithfulness in His covenant to the Jewish people, when the status of the Jewish people changed from wandering to returning home.

Nostra Aetate followed in the 1960’s, opening a new chapter in Christian thinking about Jews, Judaism, and

our relationship to the Jewish community. The church admitted it had been wrong about God revoking the covenant between God and Israel. The covenant was indeed a living covenant, never having been revoked. It also rescinded the deicide charge–“the Jews killed our Lord”–against the Jewish people. Other Christian denominations followed suit and began to reach out to Jews and to the Jewish community. Jews responded, and Christian-Jewish dialogue followed in full force. Jesus’ identity as a Jew, faithful to Judaism, was affirmed by the Church, and Christian scholars became interested in studying the Jewish Jesus to understand the specifically Jewish context and Jewish faith in which Jesus taught. The church needed help from Jewish scholars to accomplish this.

Jewish scholars also became interested in pursuing the New Testament for a number of different reasons, e.g., it was written by Jews and could be studied from a Jewish perspective, it contained elements of Second Temple Judaism not available in other Jewish sources. As Amy Jill-Levine stated in an interview about her book, The Jewish Annotated New Testament, “The more I study the New Testament the better Jew I become.” Likewise, Brad Young, a Christian scholar who studied under David Flusser, a Jewish scholar of the New Testament, said, “If we do not know Jesus as a Jew, we do not know Jesus.”

Because we are often taught by rabbis, and study Jewish sources to understand scripture more fully, we want to offer this study as a way of exposing the breadth of Jewish scholarship on the New Testament that are available, to understand the history and development of this particular scholarship, and to gain new insights into Jesus’ teachings for our faith, life, and discipleship.

At the invitation of the Winnipeg Bat Kol Tri-Diocesan Committee Sister Lucy Thorson gave a conference to a crowd of approximately seventy people on the topic Modern Milestones in Catholic Jewish Relations. Using a power point to illustrate her lecture, Sister Lucy identified the step by step developments within the Church regarding our relationship with Judaism and our Jewish brothers and sisters. Her presentation itemized the various documents, declarations and activities of the Church through the terms of Popes John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. We were led to understand how significant each moment in this history was and how profoundly the Church’s stance has changed during the almost 50 years since Nostra Aetate was written in 1965. Nostra Aetate is the Declaration on the Church’s Relationship to Non- Christian Religions, one of the most influential and celebrated documents of the Second Vatican Council.

Rabbi Alan Green offered insights and perspectives from his experience in dialogue. He noted the accomplishments to date and invited us to consider what the next steps might be here in Winnipeg, challenging the group to consider what steps would be necessary to move forward together and to include Muslims in our dialogue. Rabbi Green brought the evening to a close with a prayerful Shabbat chant.

From the Newsletter of the Sisters of Sion: Dynamic Movement of the Holy Spirit



Jews and Catholics: Dialogue, Reconciliation and Cooperation

In 13 History on 2013/03/13 at 12:00 AM

Benedict XVI welcomed a delegation from the Latin American Jewish Congress, “the first group representing Jewish organisations and communities in Latin America which I have met here in the Vatican”, the Pope said. He went on to recall that “dynamic Jewish communities exist throughout Latin America, especially in Argentina and Brazil, living alongside a large Catholic majority. Beginning with the years of Vatican Council II relations between Jews and Catholics have become stronger, also in your own region, and various initiatives are afoot to make our mutual friendship deeper”.

The Holy Father reaffirmed that the Vatican Council II Declaration “Nostra aetate” continues “to be the basis and the guide for our efforts towards promoting greater understanding, respect and cooperation between our communities. The Declaration not only took up a clear position against all forms anti-Semitism, but also laid the foundations for a new theological evaluation of the Church’s relationship with Judaism, expressing the confidence that an appreciation of the spiritual heritage that Jews and Christians share will lead to increasing understanding and esteem”.

“In considering the progress made in the last fifty years of Jewish-Catholic relations throughout the world, we cannot but give thanks to the Almighty for this evident sign of His goodness and providence. Thanks to the increase of trust, respect and goodwill, groups whose relations were originally characterised by a certain lack of trust, have little by little become faithful partners and friends, even good friends, capable of facing crises together and overcoming conflicts in a positive manner. Of course there is still a great deal to be done to shake off the burdens of the past, to foment better relations between our communities and to respond to the increasing challenges believers have to face in the modern world. Nonetheless, the fact that we are jointly committed to a path of dialogue, reconciliation and cooperation is a reason for thanksgiving”.

“In a world increasingly threatened by the loss of spiritual and moral values – the values that can guarantee respect for human dignity and lasting peace – sincere and respectful dialogue among religions and cultures is crucial for the future of our human family. I hope that your visit today will be a source of encouragement and renewed trust when we come to face the challenge of forming stronger ties of friendship and collaboration, and of bearing prophetic witness to the power of God’s truth, justice and love, for the good of all humanity”, the Holy Father concluded.