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Christian Theology and Judaic Thought: Similarities and Dissimilarities

Catholic Theological Society of America
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  • Linguistics
  • Religious Science


• CTSA PROCEEDINGS 48 (1993): 55-64 • CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND JUDAIC THOUGHT: SIMILARITIES AND DISSIMILARITIES It is not my intention to give a survey of the today's Jewish-Christian dialogue. I would rather present some features of Jewish—especially Rabbin- ic—theology that brings us into contact with some centers of difficulty and of hope between Christianity and the Jewish people. THE STRONG JEWISH IDENTITY "World history is Jewish History. World history is our history. We carry it all within us. Only what we carry within ourselves is world history."' With these great sentences did Franz Rosenzweig in the 1920s of this century express his Jewish identity. This Jewish Identity can justly rely on the Holy Scriptures. It is repeatedly stated in the Book of Isaiah that the Holy City of Jerusalem is a symbol, a sign of the Jewish people and its history as well as the history of all peoples. Jerusalem is to be the model, the focal point and the aim of all of God's initiatives for judgment and for the salvation of Israel and humankind (Isa 2:1-5; 49:14-26; 60, etc.). Jews therefore often feel they are a pillar of the world. They have the conviction, that the world would perish if the Jewish people no longer existed. That puts us before the well-known obstacle, which often throws Christian enthu- siasts of the Jewish-Christian encounter back into near desperation. The Christian partners in this encounter must repeatedly experience the Jewish partners' sudden declaration that, due to Jewish convictions, they are not able to embark on theological discourse with Christians and that they would only be interested in the elimination of anti-Semitism and the recognition of the state of Israel. Why these continual retreats of the Jewish partner? There are many topics which can be discussed among Jews and Christians. We can discuss Abraham, Moses, the Torah, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Halakhah, original sin, and so on. But there are also many topics which are blocked

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